My look at the video game influences on DRACULA WORLD ORDER ends with a leap into the 16-bit world. I had a Sega Genesis first, then swapped it for a friend’s Super Nintendo. I’ve enjoyed many of the games on Genesis, especially the strange and seemingly never-ending game KID CHAMELEON, but my allegiance with Nintendo’s products continued as I still subscribed to NINTENDO POWER, intrigued by the variety and creativity coming from both Nintendo itself and third-party developers who created games just for that console. One place the SNES beat Genesis was in RPGs, thanks most to SquareSoft (now Square Enix) giving Nintendo exclusive access to the Final Fantasy series.
I followed the articles on the original Final Fantasy as well as Dragon Quest but never played the games since my main way of getting games was through renting them. Clearly I was not going to get through these expansive adventures over a weekend. But then my friend Jason got FINAL FANTASY III (as it was dubbed in America, it was the sixth game in Japan) and we got to see this thing the whole way through. My ideas about what video games could do, and the power of storytelling, grew to monstrous proportions all thanks to this game.
I had seen STAR WARS, but I never truly felt it was my epic. Perhaps because it felt like it belonged to a past generations (my dad actually made me watch the trilogy, which I am thankful for now, but it did confirm for me that the films were not “mine”).
Here was something in a strange new medium adults didn’t partake in. Here was something I was an active participant in. This game took place in a strange world where magic and science, past and future, existed as one, nothing like we had ever seen before (we didn’t know the word “steampunk” yet). You never played as just one character. You built a team, so while some of your gameplay was based around strengthening the male hero Locke you also had to keep the damsel-in-distress Terra a vital character on her own. A previous generation had tabletop RPGs to develop team-building dynamics in their storytelling, but I was learning it here. Everyone had to matter, from the aristocratic Edgar to the ninja Shadow.
Environments were varied, and the world itself changed. The villain Kefka takes over the world and your entire map of gameplay is different (a villain takes over the world and the story continues…hmmm, where would I put an idea like that). Every twist, every new corner of the map told me that if I had a heartfelt story at the core, such as Terra and the plight of the Espers, I could go to many different places in a single tale. Also, I didn’t know the Miyazaki and other influences the game was using. One of the great legacies of Nintendo is that it was how millions of kids in the Western world were exposed to Japanese storytelling and imagery. I am still feel tremendously lucky to be there for such a cultural tide shift.
The entire time this game was unfolding I was putting pen to paper, imagining my own epics that could stand toe-to-toe with this game. Same thing with CHRONO TRIGGER and later, the last game I really spent time with, FINAL FANTASY VII. For whatever reason being an audience to such grandeur compelled to sharpen my creatives knives and craft my own stories. I feel I am still in that mode, and forever will be.