What do you think of when you hear the saying, “You never forget your first”? Do you think of your first kiss? Chances are you and the other person (or persons if you’re into that sort of thing) had no idea what to do and feared that the braces in your mouths would cause permanent damage. Do you think of your first dance? If you do, you likely think of your parents dropping you off at the school cafeteria where you saw nothing but awkwardness and untouched finger food. Do you think of your first vacation? I doubt it; you were probably too busy screaming and crying, which meant other vacationers had to listen to you as your parents attempted to calm you down with your favorite toy.
For me, after hearing the tried and true saying, I have a tendency to think of my “first” PlayStation 2 game: Ephemeral Fantasia. This article is going to take a step back in time (which will hopefully be a common trend for other stuff I write because the editor in chief loves me so) and examine what makes your “first” such an important part of your gaming life. Sure, I could talk about my first actual video game, but chances are you know all there is to know about Mario. I went with my first PlayStation 2 title because it is a very important system to me on a personal level.
For those of you (probably most of you) who don’t know, Ephemeral Fantasia is called Reiselied: Ephemeral Fantasia in Japan. It tells the story of a musician/thief named Mouse who travels to the Isle of Pandule with his enchanted, talking instrument named Pattimo. The lord of Pandule, Xelpherpolis, has too many letters in his name. Also, he wants Mouse to play a song for him and his bride-to-be: Princess Loreille. Wedding bells are ringing, but something is amiss on this tropical island. Initially, Mouse was planning on playing, thieving, and leaving. Unfortunately, Xel has the ability to control time and locks Mouse in a time-loop that lasts five days. Yet, for some reason, Mouse has the ability to remember what happens and, ultimately, is one of the only folks capable of stopping the time loop and Xelpherpolis.
That’s the Majora Mask-esque story in a nutshell, but there really is more to the game. Mouse is joined by great characters, fights in turn-based battles that take a page from SaGa Frontier, and even allows players to play a Guitar Freaks/Hero mini-game. In all honesty, I could gush more about the title, but I will spare you and get to the point I’m trying to make with this example.
When it comes to life, remembering your “first” means many things. It means that you see every side of the spectrum. It means you never make the same mistake twice. Or three times, depending on your tolerance to pain. In video games, remembering your “first” has a similar effect, but chances are you go back to your “first” for some frame of reference. I think it’s very important to have your video game “first” be in some caveat of your head as you embark on a new video game journey.
There have been many games that have been arguably better than Ephemeral Fantasia in every way, yet I see glimpses of my “first” in them. The same can be said about titles worse than Ephemeral Fantasia. By never forgetting your “first,” you will have a solid reference point when as you try new games. It will give you greater appreciation for some titles and greater disgust for others.
Now, do not misunderstand. Your “first” isn’t necessarily going to be your “favorite.” I can assure you that, despite my joy for Ephemeral Fantasia, it is not my number game of all time. Furthermore, I’m not saying you should compare games to your “first.” Rather, I’m saying you should look back upon it and remember what made it so special, even if the game was awful. Personally, I find myself going back to Ephemeral Fantasia more often than I do for contemporary titles. Is it because I’m wearing nostalgia goggles? Is it because I’m a curmudgeon who bah-humbugs at the shiny visuals of today? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I think the biggest reason why I keep going back to my video game “first” is because it happened during a very interesting time in my life. I’m 99% confident that the same can be said for you, my dear readers.
In this day and age of gaming where FPS titles are a dime a dozen and people consider themselves gamers after reaching level-whatever on Candy Crush, it always brings me great comfort to know that I can still go back to older titles that have been lost in the annals of history. But, there is something truly unique about my first PlayStation 2 title. So, to all my fellow readers out there, I say to you to: “Never forget your first” as you begin a new video game journey on your next-gen consoles.