Yiazmat or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Quit Final Fantasy

When I play video games, I tend to play for the story. Whether the story be plot, experience, or mood, it is often my main motivator as a gamer. As such, I tend to be a completionist when it comes to my game plots. This includes, but is not limited to: reading novels that fill in gaps between the games, watching movies like Halo: Legends, and playing shitty spin-offs that are related to the main plot (unless I can find some way to divorce them; i.e., playing FFXII doesn't require that I play all Ivalice Alliance games). It also means that I'm not done with a game until I do what it takes to squeeze every bit of story juice out of it. In RPGs that means most side-quests, in other games it means beating it on the hardest difficulty in order to unlock a 20-second cutscene at the end of the credits, in Alan Wake and Halo 3:ODST it meant finding every hidden manuscript page or audio diary, respectively.

If I never see you again, Yiazmat, it will be too soon.

I beat FFXII. I beat it pretty easily at about level 60 or 65. After I beat the game, my plot-oriented OCD required me to finish the minutely plot-related "hunts". I defeated 44 of 45, and then I was tasked with defeating Yiazmat, who has the largest health of any Final Fantasy superboss (50 health bars of 1 million hit points each). It takes so long to defeat him (a few hours at least, if you're fully leveled up), that the game allows you to flee and Save, as long as Yiazmat doesn't have Regen currently cast. Each attempt you make on his life is called a "stage".

At my current level, I was defeated instantly. So I gathered some of the best weapons in the game, and leveled up for a few hours. Once I got all of my characters to level 80, I figured I was ready to take on Yiazmat. I set up my gambits, and attacked. Every time, I was able to take about a full life bar off. This would take about 15 minutes, which I'd spend online or watching Deadwood or YouTube videos. Once only two of my party members were left, I'd run back to the Save Point (as Yiazmat can one-hit kill any character with his move "Death Strike", and continue the process. This continued for over a week, hours at a time, until I got him down to about 8,000,000 hit points left.

That's when he started casting Growing Threat. You see, Growing Threat doubles the level of the enemy that uses it. So, instead of being Level 70, Yiazmat was now Level 140. The highest level your party can possibly be is Level 99. At this point, my characters could only take off a quarter-of-a-million hit points per attempt at best, and next-to-nothing at worst. Finally, I decided that after 50 'stages', a week of my life, and hours in the double digits of my time, that I was done with this game. It actually wound up souring me on Final Fantasy as a whole and JRPG's to a lesser degree (I may still give Persona a shot).

Now, I understand that this was an "optional boss" but why is it even in the game. Does anyone find it fun? It's not even difficult, it's just incredibly tedious. If I had beat him, I wouldn't be proud of my victory, I wouldn't feel a sense of accomplishment, I would be disappointed that I wasted so much time on something so meaningless. With the Gambit System, you barely have to do anything, just sit and watch his massive health tick down hours at a time. It's like grinding (the worst part of JRPGs) but against one single enemy with no break whatsoever. It's indicative of a lot of problems I have with JRPGs. Grinding gives me no satisfaction whatsoever. I only play JRPGs for the story, just as I used to with Blizzard's RTS games. I'm terrible at both and don't enjoy both. I gave up on Blizzard when I realized I was just putting on the invincibility code to watch the cutscenes. Now, I'm done with Final Fantasy thanks to the design philosophies that Yiazmat represent. Who does grinding serve? And superbosses? Did anyone actually enjoy this bullshit, or am I just pissed that I suck so bad? Games are meant to be fun, right? Right?

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