Entertainment comes in many forms, like a good book, movie, or video game. Sometimes, the escapism you hope to enjoy turns out to be a dud, so you drop it and resume reality. Most of the time, you finish what you started. But is there any media that you Did Not Finish (DNF) and regretted it? I know I have. And it bugs me, but should it?
All the bits of entertainment I’ve failed to finish have something in common: they’re epic.
What I mean by “epic” is long-form media, the kind that requires enough time for a glacier to move a measurable distance. For example, two books I never finished are The Lord of the Rings and The Count of Monte Cristo.
But I’m really here to talk about 40+ hour role-playing games (RPGs). I wish I could tell you that I’ve finished every epic JRPG I started. But I admit: I’ve failed to save the world a few times. Sorry ’bout that! I guess my party ran out of HP and Phoenix feathers.
My hands have gripped the controller for some tremendous RPGs all the way through the end credits – I beat the game! So I’ve escaped into much fantasy. But the reality is, there are some RPGs I simply DNF.
Final Fantasy VIII
I beat the two FF games that preceded this one. FFVI and FFVII were both fantastic entries in the popular franchise. But VIII was a bit of a let down. Although it was technically great with high-caliber presentation and interesting gameplay, the story didn’t connect with me the way VI and VII did.
On top of that, I was in college and working a job when I first played this game, so I was often busy and tired. Given that and the lack of interest in an otherwise good JRPG, I fizzed out around two-thirds of the way through.
Final Fantasy IX
Now this FF game is one I really regret that I DNF! I remember liking this much more than VIII; number IX was superior in several ways, and I connected with it. So what happened, what’s my excuse?
It’s mostly the same story. College studies plus work sapped my time and energy. In this “epic” JRPG, I simply lost steam about three-fourths in! Very close to the end, it seemed.
Because I enjoyed FFIX and almost beat it, I am especially eager to replay it. In fact, I have FFIX on my Nintendo Switch right now, just waiting for me. #loveyourbacklog
Golden Sun: The Lost Age
I played this RPG on a Gameboy Advance SP. The game was engaging with lively characters and action, and the story was interesting.
The downfall here wasn’t the game itself though. It was the Gameboy. The handheld device was a compact clam-shell square. The thing was just too small for my adult-sized hands to play at length. The close proximity of the cross-pad, A, B, and shoulder buttons made my thumbs quickly ache from the cramped ergonomics.
The is my most recent RPG I DNF. I really like the game and do plan to finish it…eventually. The blame for not finishing this one falls on another time-consuming game: Animal Crossing New Horizons, which kind of never ends. I had been playing Octopath when ACNH came out.
Distracted, I started playing ACNH on release day and…two months flew by! Thanks, Tom Nook.
Prior to both ACNH and Octopath, I had finished Pokemon Sword. So by the time I took a breath after those three games, I needed a break.
When I resumed my Switch gaming, I didn’t pick Octopath back up. Instead, I was compelled to replay FFVII prior to playing FFX for the first time. I played and finished both!
DNF, So What?
There’s a saying, “Don’t start what you can’t finish.” That was my intention on all the games I DNF. And it remains my intention for every new RPG I dive into. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Or maybe you don’t realize what you’re really getting into.
But there’s another saying, “You can’t finish what you don’t start.” Sure, epic forms of escapism take a big commitment. But the potential pay-off for investing your time is also huge. Just go for it!
As I’ve grown, I’ve been able to avoid adding games to my DNF list. In early 2019, I dropped out of playing Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. It bothered me enough that I decided to jump back into the game a full 9 months later. And about a month after that, I beat it! Glad I did, too, because the last few dungeons of that game are awesome!
For the games you DNF, maybe you will pick up right where you left off. Maybe you’ll start over. Or maybe you’ll move on to newer games. In any case, just have fun. That’s what gameplay is about.