My greatest personal challenge was the Demon Wall in Final Fantasy VII. Up to that point in the game, I had only a single save file. It was my first playthrough when the game was a few years old, and I had not power leveled to the point where the boss was a pushover.
To paint a picture of this situation, I was not yet a tween, and the only other JRPGs I played were Link’s Awakening and Pokemon Yellow. I had just finished Ocarina of Time, and I was looking for more of a challenge on the Playstation 1, so my parents bought me Final Fantasy VII.
I, of course, was hooked in by the story, by that Spikey-Headed Jerk, by the world that was so beautiful and well crafted, and by all the hard work that Squaresoft put into their game. I played obsessively. I spent hours leveling up to be strong enough for each of the bosses. I would go months without playing because I was stuck on one boss. I remember a long stint where I didn’t play because I wasn’t able to get past Materia Keeper no matter how hard I tried.
But, when I finally found my way to the Temple of the Ancients, I finally met my match. My party at the time was Barret, Cloud, and (I believe) Aeri(s)(th). I managed to find my way through the Temple of the Ancients (probably with the help of my strategy guide) without much trouble, and was face to face with the Black Dragon. I defeated him handily, and I managed to finish the fight with full limit. Both Barret and Cloud were on their third limit (Satellite and Meteor-Rain), and Aeris was on her second. I saved the game.
This was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in any game to date. You see, when you save the game after the Black Dragon, you are stuck in the Temple of the Ancients. You cannot escape, and (if I recall correctly) you cannot leave the clock room, except to progress the game. You cannot get into any random encounters without defeating the Demon Wall.
So, I was stuck, fighting another boss, without being able to level up my characters or materia, or change anything except for my equipment and the materia equipped on my characters. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t beat the Demon Wall. I unleashed all my limits at the start of the fight, I tried using different magic, but no matter what I did, the Demon Wall hit too hard. He killed my party within the first few turns. I had finally met my match.
I put down the game. I refused to play anymore. I decided it was too hard, and I could never get past this insurmountable challenge. I read my strategy guide over and over again, spoiled most of the rest of the game for myself. I didn’t care. It was too hard for me to beat this boss, and I would never see the end of the game. I also had Final Fantasy VIII around this time, so I moved on to that game (and got similarly stuck by a scratched disk 2).
One day, when my babysitter from down the street was over. I decided to give the Demon Wall one more try. This time, I let my babysitter play. He said he had never played the game before, but he obviously knew how to play games. I don’t remember the fight, I don’t remember what he did, but somehow, my babysitter beat the Demon Wall. I was ecstatic. He had done the impossible. As quickly as I had met my doom, he had broken down the wall and I reached the end of disk 1 without another hitch.
I never moved on to disk 2 on this save file, I was too devastated by the tragedy and the boss at the end of disk 1. I later restarted the game and have readily stomped the Demon Wall on each subsequent playthrough. But the fact remained, I was able to hand over the controller to someone older, yet less experienced, and overcome a challenge that I myself did not have the tools and fortitude to overcome. Thank you, good sir, for teaching me it’s okay to hand over the controls.