As a kid growing up in a small town in Iowa, all I had as far as game systems goes was the classic NES and SNES that my parents had purchased for us. After that it was the let-down that was the N64. So, I basically grew up a Nintendo fanboy, because that is what I got started on. If it was between an SNES and a Sega Genesis, I would have gone SNES all the way. Even though I did enjoy some Sega games, I really only got to play them at my cousin’s place, and he lived in Florida. So, once a year or so, we would make the trip down there and I would play his Sega Genesis with him until the wee hours of the morning.
One of the games I immediately attached myself to in those early days was Final Fantasy III (which was really VI, but you know that story) for the SNES. My brother and I spent days huddled together in front of a small TV taking turns playing it. This began my Final Fantasy obsession and desire to play and experience all RPGs in general, but it also, unknown to me at the time, secretly jump-started my future fanboyism toward Sony’s world-devouring console line-up that was to come.
You see, the reason I even purchased my very first PlayStation was because I was obsessed with Final Fantasy. After FFIII (VI), the next one to show up stateside was FFVII, and we all know what went down between SquareSoft and Nintendo to cause the two companies to go their separate ways. Square wanted to do full-motion video, Nintendo was still stuck in the 1980s and insisted on yet another cartridge-based system (the N64). That system crapped out worse than a launch-day RROD-prone Xbox 360. So, Nintendo learned their lesson, but by then it was too late.
Ever since then I have been a quiet Sony fanboy – all through the PS1 and PS2 era. I was never the “in-your-face-eat-sleep-breathe-Sony-or-die” type. I respected the opinion of others, other game companies and systems. I just happened to like Sony’s hardware and the games that were available for it. That obsession with Sony, with Final Fantasy and with RPGs would probably lead to one of the biggest mistakes I made this generation of gaming.
One would assume that because the PS1 and PS2 were such powerhouses in general, not to mention with a specific genre that I quite enjoyed, that this would continue on into the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii generation, right? It could be compared to your favorite band or artist – they’ve put out albums year after year after year which you enjoyed because it was your type of music, you related to the songs and the way they were presented. You would assume that the artist you so admired would continue to produce music that you like, since you had liked them for the last 10 years, right?
There’s this big obsession in the music business lately – and I’m not sure when it started or if you can even pin a starting point to it – where tried and true artists in a specific genre want to break the mold, try something new, do something different, stretch their legs and let their creativity bloom. While sure, that is okay from a creative standpoint, and it doesn’t always end up horrible, it is pretty much a crapshoot, a gamble. You’re almost certain to lose fans who liked you doing this other thing for the last decade.
Sony is like that artist who was doing great, selling millions, making platinum records, then just decided to change things up and their career went down the toilet. Whether it is only temporary or not is anyone’s guess, although things have been looking better as of late, but these other artists – Microsoft and Nintendo – have far surpassed them. Is it going to be too little too late? Possibly.
Anyway, back to the point – because of their prior reputation, I purchased a PS3 fairly early on. Hey, I expected great RPGs, Final Fantasy, some awesome exclusives and just general good things to come out of Sony (also, don’t get me started on backwards compatibility), much like in the previous decade. Boy was I mistaken. That black box has sat in my living room and has hardly been turned on for anything other than watching movies for the last three years. I owned one PS3 game – ONE (Valkyria Chronicles) – until approximately two weeks ago. It felt so odd going back to playing games on my PS3 after using an Xbox 360 controller for the last 18 months.
Needless to say, I’m no longer a Sony fanboy. Do I hate the system? Not by a long-shot. It is still a great system and now it has some great games out for it and coming out in the near future. But, you know what? I’ve realized fairly recently (within the last few years) in my gamer life that the other systems out there are also great systems with great games. Sony is no longer the king of the hill and, frankly, I have a hard time believing they will ever catch up from this huge career change they’ve been participating in the last few years. They aren’t doing bad by any means, but they aren’t where they used to be, either. I would be delighted if things did a 180 and Sony started taking off again, but I will never again find myself in the trap of blind fanboyism to any particular brand, franchise or console. I know Sony would say this was their plan all along, and they tend to use this “10 year console cycle” deal they have engrained into their employees as a cop-out as to why they’ve sucked so horribly in the first two to three years of the PS3’s life-cycle, but we all know how far they’ve fallen since their glory days. That’s like someone running on an icy sidewalk, then slipping and falling on their rear. They may get up, look at people around them and say, “I mean to do that!”, but in reality everyone around them knows that they were being careless and fell not of their own volition.
Way to go, Sony, you’ve screwed me up for life. How does that make you feel?