I was only ever in love with two video games characters when I was a kid. Both of them are Final Fantasy creations. The irony in Fantasy.
I loved Tifa and Rinoa.
Rinoa resembled an Ex-I-Used-To-Know big time. When I say ex, I mean a girl from primary-school that I used to follow around at lunch-time trying ever so hard to get to accept my cheap gifts. When I say big time, I mean both sort of looked oriental. Ah, young love. Anyway it was this resemblance of this crush I had that lured me into the game that is Final Fantasy 8.
Now I know many of you may have done this before: an option appears prompting you to choose a name for your hero before the quest begins and you put in your own name. I put in BENNY then hit X. Or O. Nowadays I tend to stick with default names but nonetheless, when I was young and stupid it was I and I alone that was destined to save the world! Game world, so what? In went my name.
In this instance I became Squall. Yes, Squall is possibly the most irritating game character to ever grace a game. However a few things occurred to me: I was playing the sequel to one of my favourite games of all time – there was no way it would go unfinished. That is a sort of love in itself. I had become Squall and he was not going to be a douche with me at the helm. In my mind I pretended that if I could get Rinoa to love me in the game then maybe I could conjure up the confidence to somehow do the same in reality. I could get my crush to love me. I was hoping for another ‘date scene’ reminiscent of Final Fantasy 7. Not the one with Barrett, mind you. It didn’t matter who was at the helm though, Squall is still an annoyingly introverted douche.
So off I went to Timber and there she was. Oh God, how the graphics had improved over Final Fantasy 7. Rinoa was so life-like, so beautiful. At first it was the dance scene that I had previewed prior to the game’s release, via a PlayStation mag demo disc. Then it was Outer Space. High-school students in love jetting-off into Outer Space to stop a malevolent force and find time to make out a little in-between. So realistic. I loved every bit of that game and it was all because of the high-school love story.
Yes, Squall is a jerk-off. Yes, the game is totally different to the rest in the series – rarely does it even feel like a Final Fantasy game. Yes, the Laguna side-story was awesome. Yes, I understand that there are quite a few gamers that actually hate this game. But I loved it and I still love Rinoa. She is a memory of an Ex-I-Used-To-Know, of a different time and of younger years.
I loved Tifa for the same reasons – and another girl.