Hate is a powerful word. How often does it really apply? I'm not a fan of novelty crisp flavours or the Black-Eyed Peas, but do I truly hate them? Probably not.
However, it's the only word which comes close to describing how I feel when about certain things. To name three: Katie Waissel, designer baby clothes and Final Fantasy.
Few gaming series have as rabid a fanbase as FF. Since it first appeared on the NES all those years ago, it's attracted an obsessive following. Many of its fans are the kind of people who will proudly dress up like their favourite characters and brandish giant replica swords fashioned out of polystyrene.
I'm the ideal candidate for dedication to the cult of these Japanese snorefests. A significant proportion of my formative years was spent hunkered down with like-minded outcasts, rolling 20-sided dice as I lost myself in the worlds of Warhammer and Dungeons & Dragons.
While the cool kids were out playing footie and smoking tabs I was plundering dungeons as a Night Elf, hunting for loot and trying to work out how my level 20 paladin was going to escape hordes of Orcs. I'd happily engage in passionate arguments about how much fire damage a magical amulet could inflict.
But Final Fantasy failed to appeal even then. I wasn't excited by the prospect of being able to act out a digitally realised version of my banal existence. I saw games as a form of escapism. I wanted to shoot an endless procession of faceless henchmen, not discover an all-new arena for social exclusion and turn-based combat.
Then there's the issue of whether you can even get past the first hour of gameplay without giving up. Never has there been a more inaccessible franchise than Final Fantasy.
The other day I was talking to a friend about how unimpressed I was with Final Fantasy XIII. Tough it out, he told me, the game gets great after 20 hours or so.
20 hours? In 20 hours I could learn basic Swahili. Why should I spend almost an entire day and night sitting through linear storylines, repetitive battles and cut-scenes I don't really understand, just to get to the good bits?
Why are those battles turn-based, anyway? Don't know about you, but if confronted by a dark wizard Hell-bent on world domination, or a cybernetically-enhanced beastie shooting laser beams from every orifice, I doubt I'd sit there politely contemplating my next move while they pummel away at me. I'd windmill in with my keys between my fingers at the earliest possible opportunity. I can live without turn-based conflict, thank you very much. And that endless list of items, weapons and potions. I could also happily skip repetitive mini-games such as the odious Blitzball. The reason I like to explore fantasy worlds of action and adventure is not so I can replicate the experience of sucking at sports I don't understand.
Why is there so much walking? Endless, tedious, brain-numbing walking. It's punctuated only by episodes of being forced to consume thousands of words of poorly-translated dialogue exchanged by increasingly infuriating characters.
If I felt like reading, I'd pick up a book. I play games because I want to avoid anything that remotely resembles self-improvement. And no matter how many times I have to press a button to make my character spew out another inane sentence, you won't convince me this is anything other than a Japanified version of a Dan Brown novel.
"But!" I hear the fanboys cry. "But what about the cut-scenes, the epically glorious cut-scenes?"
Screw the cut-scenes. If you want to watch a digital render of a fantasy realm, go to the cinema. Perhaps to see one of the horrendous movies the Final Fantasy series has belched into existence. But don't pretend hours of repetitive gameplay are worth it in exchange for a few moments of CGI wizardry telling chapters in a fruit loop story.
A story which, no matter how ostensibly insane, is really just the same as the one in the last game - seemingly insignificant hero defies odds to save world. These plots are always played out by a cast of deliriously over-the-top characters, who look like what would happen if Jedward raided a hair dye factory and a giant's armoury.
Final Fantasy is the standard bearer for giant swords and mental hair-dos. Weapons like Cloud's Buster Sword and Squalls Gunblade are ten-foot tall physics-defying monstrosities only overshadowed by the bizarre barnets our heroes sport.
Or are they heroines? So androgynous are the characters in Final Fantasy that it's often hard to tell. Perfect skin, gentle smiles, beautiful long-lashed eyes - these are just some of the features boasted by the series' male characters. They've surely been the biggest cause of sexual confusion amongst adolescent males since Bugs Bunny put on a dress and lipstick.
Even putting the silly characters and daft storytelling aside for a moment, there's no hiding the fact that the FF games just aren't much fun. They feel like a chore, a daily grind. They don't offer the pleasurable distraction I want and expect from a game.
To make matters worse, there's a never-ending tide of them. More than 30 iterations hit the shelves in the last decade alone. Having laboriously completed a Final Fantasy game, there's barely time to catch your breath before the next one turns up to eat away at your social life.
FF requires the kind of commitment I'm just not willing to make in the pursuit of entertainment. And certainly not for a series of games which feels increasingly mechanical compared to modern Western RPGs. I'd rather play Fallout and Mass Effect, games which don't force you to play out a storyboarded journey but which let you shape your own adventure.
As for Final Fantasy, I hope the next instalment in the series will live up to its name.