giant robots fighting god

Fuck You, Front Mission!
Peter Tatara - February 12, 2008

In my earlier, geekier, paler days, I played a lot of videogames. One of my favorites to this day remains Front Mission 3, a game that's a lot like chess -- only with the Rook replaced with a giant robot. It was a fun game. It was a challenging game. It was a game with, as I said, giant robots. But, Front Mission 3 was a long time ago, and, since then, a lot has happened. I graduated school. I'm gainfully employed. I've touched a girl's private parts. I don't have the time now that I'm an adult to fiddle around with buttons for an evening to gain enough experience points so that I'm not completely crushed when I fight a cactaur. Besides, if I've got the time to fiddle around with anything, I'm going to choose the aforementioned private parts.

But, during the holidays, when my girlfriend asked if there was anything that I wanted, I couldn't help but mention Front Mission. The original game -- never before available in the US -- had been remade for the Nintendo DS and just released.

I started playing it this week. It's pretty much the same chess game I remembered. You move a squadron of giant robots called "wanzers" around a battlefield neatly broken down into a series of squares and strategically position yourself so you can blow up an opposing force typically two-or-three-times-bigger than your army before they lay waste to you. What I didn't remember, and what may be different, is just how fucking hard this game is.

I've spent the past week trying to complete a single mission, dedicating all my time from 7 PM until midnight each evening, and I've got nothing to show for it. Every night's been the same. I spend twenty to thirty minutes positioning my pieces. There are a few rounds of combat. I blow up a few of the opposing units. There are a few more rounds of combat. My soldiers are decimated. I turn off my DS, cuss, kick, scream, and start the fight all over again.

I've become seriously frustrated with the game and have come close to chucking my DS at a wall and throwing a punch into my girlfriend. I know I've said "shit," "cocksucker," "motherfucker" more in this past week than in the entirety of the preceding twelve months.

What pisses me off, though, isn't so much that the game's difficult, but it's that I totally think it's rigged. Every round of combat begins with me moving one of my robotic troopers to within a single step of a bad guy and planting a shotgun on his metal chest -- only to pull the trigger and completely miss. Every round of combat ends with an enemy unit pointing a pistol into the air at the other end of the battlefield, squeezing off a single round, and one of my robots losing both arms and legs -- if the wanzer isn't blown up entirely. It's just not fucking fair.

My girlfriend's become concerned by the perpetual stream of expletives flowing from my lips interrupted only by threats of bodily harm, and I've told her that it's not me saying these horrible, horrible things -- it's the game.

Looking back now and realizing that I've spent my every free moment over the past five days curled into myself, my hands and eyes locked on my Nintendo DS, I've got to question if it's worth it. I mean, if I had beaten the campaign and moved onto the next mission or the mission after that, things would be different, but after 23 hours sunk into this single battle, I want to give up. No, not give up. No, I want to put my time into something more meaningful, something more rewarding.

Fuck, I could have been building websites during this time. Shit, I could have been writing that novel that hasn't been touched since last fall. Hell, I could go through the foot-high stack of mail sitting on my table. And, hopefully, tonight, I'll be able to get to some of this. I'm frustrated. I'm upset. I'm sick and tired of my time amounting to nothing.

The sad thing, though, is that as much as I now hate the game, after writing all this, after getting angry, all I want to do is get right back into it and fucking tear apart the enemy. So, we'll see. The smart thing for me to do is not even pick up my DS tonight and instead get some work done or have a meaningful conversation with my girlfriend. But, realistically, I know I'm going to open up the DS, telling myself I just want to give it one more try, only to realize at 2 AM that I just fucked my whole night again.

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