When the Gaming Honeymoon Never Ends


After I first finished Final Fantasy VII over twenty-five years ago, it didn’t take me long to realize that I would need to play through it again before I could form a complete opinion about its qualities, simply because the game had hit me with so much that my mind was still reeling days after I completed that first playthrough. While I eventually came to the conclusion that Final Fantasy VII was the greatest video game I had played up to that point in my life (and it’s still the greatest video game I’ve ever played, over a quarter of a century later), my initial reaction after that first playthrough was to think that maybe Final Fantasy IV was actually better. Something about that didn’t seem right, though, and after I finished playing Final Fantasy VII that second time, that was when I was finally able to put everything into context and realize why I considered it a better game.

One of the things that made me initially doubt the superiority of Final Fantasy VII was the fact that it hadn’t really blown my mind in the way that Final Fantasy IV had when I’d first played it a few years earlier. I’d been playing JRPGs since Nintendo brought over the first Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games (I’m pretty sure I rented Final Fantasy I the week it came out in 1990), and while those were very good video games, the incredible narrative and characters and music of Final Fantasy IV created something unlike any experience I’d ever had while gaming before. It was the first video game that made me cry, and the first game that I felt I could point to and say, with full confidence, that video games could be as legitimate an art form as movies and books and the like. As amazing as Final Fantasy VII was — I’m playing through it again right now on my Twitch channel, and it’s still blowing my mind with how incredible the writing is — there wasn’t a moment in it that felt as revolutionary as what I experienced playing Final Fantasy IV for the first time. I needed that second playthrough of Final Fantasy VII to realize that even if it wasn’t as revolutionary, it still took so much of what I loved about JRPGs and turned the volume up to eleven on them, and made an overall better game.

Especially because I didn’t play video games so much in the years after I finished grad school, I just didn’t have many more of those moments where I felt like a video game was blowing me away with how unexpectedly good it was, those feelings like I was experiencing something that I wouldn’t have even thought possible before I played it. I certainly played a lot of great video games in that time, but as I’ve gained more perspective, and as video games themselves have evolved, not only have modern video games just not done much to impress me, but I feel like the medium as a whole, and JRPGs in particular, are turning away from a lot of the things that made me fall in love with some of those earlier Final Fantasy games, especially when it comes to creating characters I can care about and storylines that keep my interest over the dozens of hours necessary to complete them.

This past December, I started playing Super Lesbian Animal RPG on the day it came out, and I was so enamored by it after my first two hours of play that I immediately bought copies for four different Twitch streamers that evening, and four more copies for other streamers in the days that followed. The remainder of my first playthrough was troubled by the large numbers of homophobic and transphobic trolls who were going after pretty much everyone who played the game on Twitch at that time — I had to shut my chat down for the final few streams of the game — but just like my first playthrough of Final Fantasy VII over a quarter of a century earlier, I knew that I needed to play it a second time before I could form a firm opinion on it.

Unlike with Final Fantasy VII, though, I was able to watch other people play Super Lesbian Animal RPG in the time between my own playthroughs, and every time I got to watch other people react to the game, my opinion of it kept going up. When I finally got through with my second playthrough about a month ago, I found myself at a loss for words when trying to describe how much I still loved the game, and now as I’ve continued watching more and more people play the game for Pride Month, it just seems to keep getting better and better. I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop, for me to find something about the game to significantly lower my impression of it, but that just isn’t happening.

I can’t call Super Lesbian Animal RPG the best video game I’ve ever played, but there are only six games that I can say for sure are better (some Final Fantasy titles and Chrono Trigger), and all of those were made by development teams of hundreds or thousands of people, whereas Super Lesbian Animal RPG was made largely by four people over the course of ten years (and, by all accounts, the majority of that work was done by one of them). It’s hard for me to compare video games across genres — I’m pretty sure I’d rate Super Lesbian Animal RPG over Tetris, but it’s harder to determine whether or not I’d consider Super Metroid a better game — but in the end, I think there’s a very good chance that Super Lesbian Animal RPG is one of the ten best video games I have ever played since I started playing video games back in 1981 on a ZX-80.

Having said that, there is still a part of me that worries about me “falling in love” with the game too much, that I don’t have the perspective yet to judge Super Lesbian Animal RPG on its merits accurately. Even typing up this blog now, I almost feel obligated to mention the non-standard spellings in the game, or how it could have been made more challenging on its hardest difficulty setting. I also worry that praising this game so strongly is going to make people look down on me, especially if they’re people who would already dismiss the game out of hand simply from its title. It’s been almost six months now since Super Lesbian Animal RPG was released, though, and I’m still in my “honeymoon phase” of loving the game, and I don’t think I can say that about any other game I’ve played before, even Final Fantasy VII. That has to count for something.

There is a huge part of me that wants to take everyone who works at every video game development studio, sit them down in front of Super Lesbian Animal RPG, have them play through the game, and then say to them, “This is what a video game needs to be.” Cutting-edge graphics are great and all, and stuff like skill trees can definitely make a game more enjoyable, but unless you give me great characters and a story to match, chances are that I’m just going to lose interest in your game. If anything, my interest in Super Lesbian Animal RPG just continues to grow as the weeks pass here, even as I just watch other people play through it, and I can’t remember having this kind of a reaction to a video game in decades. Just doing everything right in a video game may be the revolution I’ve been waiting for here for so long, and I hope this isn’t the only new game I get to have this reaction to over the coming years.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.