As much as I love strategy guides and I love to review them, there are times when I have to play the game without a strategy guide (#reviewerproblems, I know). If I am reviewing the strategy guide as well, then either I replay the game or I sit down with the strategy guide and see if it answers all of the bazillion questions I had for the guide before it dropped into my hands. If I don’t get a review copy of the game, then I always wait until I get the strategy guide as well so I can kill both birds with one stone. It’s really the best way to review a strategy guide, in my humble opinion.
That said, there are two series that I have never played without, and never want to play without a strategy guide in my possession, both of which really came to light last week.
The first series is one that I don’t think I’ll even turn on a game without a strategy guide holding my hand–The Legend of Zelda. These games have everything that stresses me out: timed sequences, puzzles, stealth, labyrinths, mini-games, tricky boss fights, and an obscene number of secrets. The thought of trying to play a Zelda game without all of the information easily accessible makes me break out into a cold sweat. In fact, that’s one reason why I haven’t sat down to really give Majora’s Mask a fair shake; I’d have to play it with the strategy guide in front of me, and I have a very, very hard time getting motivated to play a handheld game with a strategy guide. It’s a ridiculous reason why, and it’s because to use a guide with a handheld, there’s no real comfortable way to do so unlike with a console, where I sit upright in an office chair with the guide open on a desk beside me. Playing with a handheld in an office chair is far from comfortable, and I have no real idea why other than I feel the need to slink low into a couch with a handheld.
The other series is the Final Fantasy series. I had to recently review Final Fantasy Type-0 HD for work, and since I had a review copy ahead of release, I could not wait for the corresponding strategy guide to arrive. Okay, I could have, but I could not have and kept my job. I was uncomfortable the entire time I played. I felt myself sweating with every decision I made. Am I powerful enough to tackle this mission? Which cadets are best for this boss? Which powers should I focus on leveling up first? Which side quests should I take on since I have a limited amount of time? Am I missing any collectibles? Am I wasting my chocobos? OH MY GOD WHAT IS THE BEST STRATEGY FOR DEFEATING THIS BOSS?
When the strategy guide for FF Type-0 HD arrived, the first thing I did was flip through it to see how much stuff I missed. Terrible player at FF games confirmed. Now that my security blanket is here, I never want to let it go. I’ll never play another FF game without you, no I won’t.
I have never even purchased a game for either FF or Zelda without first securing a strategy guide. Even if it’s for an older game, I will scour Amazon and eBay for the guide; I don’t care if it’s been beaten up or used a little too much. As long as it has all of that delicious, beautiful strategy and content, I do not care how bent the pages are or warped the cover is. Of course I prefer new, but that’s because I keep all of my books in as pristine condition as possible. However, I want the content more than I want it to be perfect.
Hand holding with these games. I need it. I’m not ashamed. There’s just too much going on in them that I 1) do not have the patience to figure out on my own and 2) my OCD prevents me from tackling any of it without having every piece of knowledge at my disposal.
Remember the SGR Coffee Break episode where Chris wanted to discuss our personal gaming rituals? I guess I should have mentioned that with these two series, I definitely have a gaming ritual. I don’t even fire up a console with one of these games unless my bookmarked strategy guide is open to the proper location by my side.