Previously, I talked about an annoying cartoon character. Today, I’m talking about a beloved cult classic. If anything is going to get me hate comments, it’s this! Also, this is going to paint me in a very unflattering light.

The year was probably 2002 and only two people I knew had a Dreamcast: me, and a friend from high school we’ll call Eric. Most people probably had one but I was socially awkward and my social group was very small. In any case, we occasionally chatted about games and the rare times I’d be at his house I’d play one or two. The one that really got to me was Phantasy Star Online, which established a fascination with MMORPGs and was probably the first game I opted to play as a female protagonist. I got decently far in the single-player mode, and if my Dreamcast hadn’t decided to stop working for some reason, I’d likely still boot it up now and then. However, Eric and I had very different tastes in most media. He was a die-hard outspoken anime fan and his tyrannical love for it caused a deep distaste for a lot of it. Except when I would actually, you know, watch some of it and realize its hit/miss ratio was pretty similar to western animation. After all, anime gave us the great Cowboy Bebop. Western animation produced the dreadful Allen Gregory. No medium is safe from greatness or utter crap.

One thing we did agree on was RPGs. Eric’s recommendation got me to buy Grandia II (which still has one of the best combat systems in an RPG) and so when he lent me Shenmue to play, I was pretty pumped.

I loaded it up and started to play. At first, it was great. So many things to do! Such realism! Then, the game informed me I had to go home and sleep. I did, and the next day, I decided to find out how to actually play the game. Martial arts was a part of it, and I wandered around town to find a move. I talked to everyone. Eventually, I learned a move and wasted all my money on capsule toys and wound up having to go home again. The third day, I tried in vain to get the story to progress or to do anything. I found an arcade. I played some classic Sega games. Once again, night fell, and I was done with Shenmue and its obtuseness forever.

Instead of returning the game to Eric, as a normal person would do, I decided that it would be better for everyone if the game couldn’t bother either of us ever again. Besides, I thought Eric had said he had a second copy and so it was implied that this copy was now mine. In any case, I was given the chance when a teacher gave me two floor seats for a Cavs game. I still don’t know why this happened, but another friend (we’ll call this one Bill) and I went to the Tower City mall which was connected to what was then Gund Arena and went to GameStop with one goal: get rid of Shenmue.

This was extremely easy to do, and in exchange, I got Mega Man X4 which is a far better game than Shenmue, even though my PlayStation did this weird thing where the picture bobbed up and down on my TV so I didn’t play it all that much. This is also why I never got very far in Final Fantasy VII or my stolen copy of Final Fantasy Tactics. I… used to be kind of horrible, I guess.

Anyway, I eventually told Eric and he was not very happy but eventually forgave me because I think deep down he knew I was doing him a favor.