For years I have craved for a sequel to great games like Secret of Evermore, Final Fantasy VI, and Illusion of Gaia. My brain was dominated by thoughts of what happened to these great characters that I had adventured with.
Obsession over the games' soundtracks eventually led to my learning piano so I could replicate the beautiful music of Nobuo Uematsu. Obsession over the art of these games led me to learning how to draw and paint. And surprise, surprise, I ended up becoming a programmer as my day job.
But it wasn't enough.
Playing in the mediums that contributed to the construction of RPGs wouldn't suffice. There would always be a lingering question- a question that the game itself posed during the ending.
It was becoming clear that a game this good, a game that ended so ambiguously, would never let me free. And so I would need to find the answer.
And an answer of-sorts arrived on April 30th:
Peter Fries, an animator on Secret of Evermore, responded to my question: "Whatever happened after Secret of Evermore?" I had posed the question in the only way that my brain felt appropriate— in song:
This magnificent moment of hearing back from someone who worked on my favorite game should have been a great moment. However, Peter Fries was asking the same question. What happens after the game?
In fact, did I even really want a sequel? Another favorite game of mine, Final Fantasy IV, was eventually granted a much-hated sequel. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years had about as much heart and creativity as Saved By The Bell: The College Years. Regardless, it had become clear that a sequel to Secret of Evermore was never going to arrive.
It took a long time to make peace with this lack of closure. In fact, it wasn't until recently when I listened to an episode of NPR's Pop Cultural Happy Hour that I was able to make sense of it all.
The hosts of the show were discussing how children don't use their imaginations anymore when playing. Think about it— do you often see kids these days playing with dolls or playing make-believe? Or do you see them playing on iPads and LeapFrogs?
Finally, it occurred to me. The ending of Secret of Evermore was a gift. A gift of a game that set up a wonderfully rich world, and then left it open for us. Something about the pixel art and the loosely constructed story allowed us to fill in the gaps. It gave us just enough to meet the characters and then to go off to play, and to answer the question for ourselves: What ever happened after Secret of Evermore?
I know the answer... because I wrote my own ending.