So I did a lot of reading -- finished Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, of which more in a separate post -- and gaming. I have two main ones going right now: Mario Kart Wii and of course Final Fantasy IV. Mario Kart is much more fun and compelling than I would have ever expected. I've never been much for driving games, mostly because I suck at them, but this one is fun, and I'm surprisingly not terrible. I've been stuck on one particular series of races for a good week now (Special Cup at 150ccs, if anyone knows what that means), but I finally pulled out a good performance today, and won. So as far as I can tell, that's all the medal events; now I just need to get good enough that I don't get completely wiped out in online play.
Then of course there's FFIV, which is good so far. Great characters, which helps make up for some of the predictability of the plot line (although I can't decide whether the story is actually predictable in and of itself or if I've just heard enough hints dropped by fandom people that I can make better guesses than usual). Also, I learned yesterday that, to my chagrin, I've been pronouncing Rydia's name wrong in my head all this time. I'd assumed that the 'y' was a long "i" sound, but it's not, it's short. Like "Lydia" with an R instead of an L. Which, given Japanese, makes a lot more sense than a name that sounds like the word "rider".
So I knew the whole "Cecil becomes a paladin" thing was coming because it said as much in the game booklet. For some reason, his paladin sprite reminds me of Beatrix from FFIX. Maybe it's the hair. Starting him over at level 1, with no armor to boot, was pretty painful. He died in the first blow of the first monster encounter after his transformation; I had one of my surplus of mages raise him, and then we just ran all the way back to the mage city (it's going to be awhile before I can remember names consistently).
So what is it with this game and mages? Rosa, Rydia, Talleh, Edward, the twins... so far the only really offensive type I've picked up has been Yang. The mages have been effective so far -- the ZOMG THIS GAME IS SO HARD that I'd been led to fear hasn't really materialized, only a couple of random deaths and I had to do the battle where we meet Yang a few times. But of course the problem with using mages in battle is the expense. I haven't found a source of Ethers yet. At least this isn't like FFIII, where I couldn't even find a store that would sell me a Phoenix Down.
However, the big boss battle in the Baron Castle throne room is shaping up to be a doozy. I've died twice and haven't really formulated a strategy for doing better besides running back to town for more Phoenix Downs and leveling up in the process. So we'll see how bad that one is.
Characters... I'm still getting to know them. Cecil is fairly angsty but then again, he has reason to be. The twins are amusing. Jury is out on the women still -- Rosa is spending an awful lot of time as the pawn of the game, but then again she did pick up and follow Cecil under her own initiative and has held her own in battle fairly well; I like that she is an archer as well as a white mage. I need to spend more time with Rydia. I'm a little unconvinced by how quickly she turned around on Cecil after he killed her mother and destroyed her village, but maybe she saw the inner paladin shining through. If she doesn't show up soon with Leviathan under her control, I'll eat my hat.
Hmm, I suppose I need a FFIV icon... any suggestions?