In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Darl Ferm is the bassist for Speedy Ortiz, a noisy Boston outfit that just put out their impressive debut album Major Arcana last week. With a tablet in hand, Ferm (on the left in the photo above, wearing the pizza shirt) has been replaying a glitchy Final Fantasy VII on tour. He spoke with The Gameological Society about the beauty of long games, becoming the Lord Of Catan, and making his own challenges for Sonic The Hedgehog.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Darl Ferm: I’m playing an emulated version of Final Fantasy VII on my Acer tablet.
Gameological: Have you played it before?
Ferm: Oh, yeah. I got really into it when I saw a computer version for it, when I was seven or eight, at Best Buy. I was like, “This game looks awesome,” and I got it. It’s pretty much been my favorite game ever since. I’ve played it a few times all the way through. It’s my favorite Final Fantasy.
Gameological: Are you having trouble with the tablet?
Ferm: It’s actually not so bad because it’s an RPG. There’s some things—like, the part where you have to do the squats in the Wall Market, it’s kind of impossible, but you don’t need to do it, so it’s not too big of a deal. But I hoard challenges like crazy. It’s actually a really good version. It works really well. The only thing that’s really weird that I don’t understand is the music. It seems to fall on top of each other. I don’t understand how that’s even possible, but it feels like someone took three seconds of the song, and then stacked it on another three seconds, and then that repeats and stacks it on another three seconds.
Gameological: Does it happen for the entire game?
Ferm: Yes. It sucks because it’s my favorite soundtrack, definitely, for any video game, and maybe for any soundtrack in general. I’m kind of bummed about that, but it’s no big deal. I downloaded the soundtrack, and I listen to it while I’m playing the game.
Gameological: Is this music thing shaping up to be an interesting twist? After you play something so many times, any change is welcome.
Ferm: It did for maybe five seconds at the start of the game. I was like, “Oh this is pretty hilarious,” and then I was like, “I’m going to get the worst headache ever if I keep listening to this.” It doesn’t have a beneficial twist, but it’s definitely interesting.
Gameological: Do you think it would go over well for someone who didn’t grow up playing it?
Ferm: I think it would. The storyline is incredible. I like the whole dystopian future. It’s kind of Big Brother-ish, and I’m really into dystopian stuff. The story is really great, which is good because I only played VII on pretty much. VIII has a great storyline. I didn’t play IX, but X’s storyline I wasn’t really into. The thing about VII is that I really like the characters a lot, which I can’t really say about most of the other games. Pretty much after VII, every main character is too wimpy for me. They’re all very emo, and I can’t really get into it, but VII’s hero, Cloud, is very badass. All the other characters in the game are really awesome. I think it holds up really well. It’s definitely the best RPG out there.
Gameological: So do you like other dystopian or post-apocalyptic games?
Ferm: I do. The whole BioShock series is amazing, even the newest one, which is pretty strange, I think, compared to BioShock and [BioShock 2]. I never really got into Borderlands, but that looks cool.
Gameological: I ask because yesterday, I started playing the Walking Dead adventure game and blew through four of the five episodes.
Ferm: I’ve heard that’s amazing, but I’ve never played it. That’s a bit of a trend in recent video games that I strongly dislike—the price going up and the gameplay time going way down. That’s one of the great things about Final Fantasy VII. It’s like a 70-hour game. It’s ridiculously long. If you want to beat the game, you have to do all this crap that I actually don’t like that takes forever. But it’s cool. You don’t have to do it, but if you put in the effort, it’s worth it.
I like that kind of stuff, the really long-term kind of games. Or even if it’s a game with a lot of stuff to do, like the old school Mario. You can play that forever without it getting better. It takes so long to beat everything. That’s one of the trends that really bums me out about modern video games, about how quickly you can beat it. BioShock is probably as short as I would want a game to be. It’s probably between 10 and 20 hours, and that’s pretty good, but I’d like it to be at least replayable. Most games now aren’t because they have the longest training sequences ever that teach you how to play.
Gameological: Some of our readers talk about when they were younger they loved the longer 70-, 80-hour games, but now that they’re getting older, some are married with kids, they really appreciate brief games.
Ferm: If a game’s replayable, then short is good. That makes it really nice. A lot of games, if it’s really short, or if I’m expecting it to be really short, I have to put the difficulty to a ridiculous degree. I also like the way that Mario or Sonic—like, Sonic’s a really short game, but it rules because you can replay it and make your own challenges out of it. It’s like, I would beat it, and then I would challenge myself to beat it without losing any lives at all. It was really tough, but I was able to do it. It depends on the game, because a lot of games are so story-based with all these cinematics, and then they’ll be so short. I didn’t get a video game to watch a movie; I wanted to play a game. It depends. It’s not a great trend considering how expensive video games and systems are. I’d much rather have something worth the money.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.