Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Single Spark

I finished Final Fantasy Type-0 at 4am in the morning and was immediately thrust into a state of near-panic at not having anyone around to share the experience with.  It was all I could do to stop myself from retrieving my daughter from school early the next (well, 'same') day, and once I did so (begrudgingly waiting until her normal pickup time), my excitement spilled out in the form of a promise that once we got home she'd be able to see something 'really cool'.

During the drive home I attempted to setup the final boss battle and ending she was about to see.  JRPGs do not necessarily have the most... lucid... plots, however, and I found myself regurgitating half-formed plot points.  To her credit my daughter can be extremely patient with me; she sat in the back seat with her brow furrowed, slowly trying to comprehend what I was saying.  And after a while she started to ask questions.

It immediately became obvious to me that I understood far less of the story of Final Fantasy Type-0 than I thought - and the fault was not mine.  The game's story is told in unequal fragments, some of which are possible to miss entirely.  Important characters wander in late and leave as mysteriously as they arrived.  Major unchoreographed plot twists turn the viewer's bewilderment into outright confusion.

These are not small issues.  And yet not only was I able to ignore them while playing the game, I found myself willing to remain blind to them afterwards.

Why?  Because Final Fantasy Type-0 did so many things right!  From the opening cinematic that introduces a conflict filled with both horror and glory, to the ending where... nevermind.  Suffice it to say that the positives of the game were more than enough to offset the negatives.

This has happened to me with books as well.  Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, and even so I have to admit that "Insomnia" is far from a great book (my review).  And yet there are three scenes that have undeniable power, and once a year I find myself picking up "Insomnia" to re-read those three scenes.

It's easy to appreciate perfection.  It's much harder to take a flawed work of art and look past its obvious flaws in order to focus on its strange beauties.  I don't claim to be able to do this with any consistency.

But I do think that being able to do so is an incredibly useful ability.  After all, if you're trying to build something yourself, isn't it better to fill your mind with beautiful sparks instead of cold ashes?

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