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ASK OLIVER
The Night is Old
August 04, 2008

8/04 - 1:19 AM CST

I am so disoriented right now, it isn't even funny. I forgot to write this intro initially. I wrote the entire column, including the outro, before realizing I had FORGOTTEN TO WRITE AN INTRO. So now, after completing 99.9% of the column, here I am writing the intro. This is just wrong on so, so many levels. I don't even know what to say now.

I am listening to RPGcast #45! I always miss out on the good 'casts. I don't know how that happens. The only disappointing thing is that Chris has announced that he is six days away from finishing Persona 3. This is most disheartening. I have spent the entire summer plugging away at the game, hoping to finish before him. BAH, MY LIFE IS EMPTY.

On to the letters, which I have already answered.





The Letters
Inspector Gadget


Hello Again Ollie!

Ack, you've slain me grammatically! Mind you i probably would have caught that had i read it through a few more times. I was always much more cautious when writing Lusipur, now you got me on my toes! Moving on...

Oliver

Heheheheh... I'm not as harsh a mistress as Lusipurr when it comes to English, but when I see something that blatant and offensive, I am compelled to comment. But worry not! You have learned, and I'm sure you will not make that same mistake again.

I have an RPG to add to the list of great beginner RPG's. It's and oldie and probably a bear to get ahold of, But i think that Super Mario RPG is an incredibly fun and addictive RPG that any beginner would love. I was never much for mario games, but i could not put this one down! I have so many fond memories playing this game, the battle system itself was simplistic and quite fun. The story was lighthearted, yet entertaining enough that it was very difficult to put down (i'm one to love the doom and gloom stories myself (xenogears, vagrant story), so this was a weird one for me to get addicted to). I would LOVE to see a port of this end up on the DS. Did you ever play this game? if so, what were your thoughts on it?

Oliver

Sigh. Now I have to add Super Mario RPG, as well as all the Paper Mario games to my list. I don't like Mario that much either, and yet, everyone is telling me that I'll enjoy these games. No, I haven't played SMRPG, but this fact is now officially one of my regrets.

So it finally happened, FFXIII on the Xbox. I must say I wasn't much of a fan of the original Xbox, but after watching the 360 take control of some very promising titles, i've been very tempted to turn that direction over the PS3. Such titles as Lost Odessy have had me drooling over the console as it is. I also cannot stop staring at the screenshots for Tales of Vesperia, what a beautiful looking game! FFXIII has pretty much sealed the deal, although i cannot see myself buying a 360 in the too near future, i will probably be pushing for one come FFXIII's release. I do have one question though, what of Versus XIII? will that be coming to the 360 as well? It would be a mighty shame to look forward to such a game and then find out that i have to purchase a ps3 to get the chance to play it, for as it stands right now, I have very little interest in that system. I believe the original and PS2 to be greatest RPG consoles in history, the PS2 especially due to backwards compatibility. This is where the PS3 is going to fail big time for me, I have such an immersive library of PS1 and PS2 games, and now i'm forced to sit and watch the only console that can play those games slowly expire? in 15 years will there be a working piece of hardware that can sill play those games? I sure hope so, BAD move Sony!

Oliver

The Xbox 360 is THE console for RPGamers. This is fact. This is not up for argument. Acquire one, with all haste. You will not regret it.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII is still slated to be a PS3 exclusive... for NOW. Square Enix's recent party re-confirmed this fact, as they showed a trailer for the game that loudly proclaimed "PlayStation 3 Only Worldwide." However, I am approximately 97.9 percent sure that it will appear on the Xbox 360. There's absolutely NO reason for it not to. The only reason they haven't announced it yet is because the game is likely 2-3 years off. Trailers that scream "PS3 EXCLUSIVE!!!" mean nothing, FFXIII trailers said the exact same thing RIGHT UP TO E3 2008.

Once again, the only piece of hardware on the market that can play PS1/PS2 games is... the PS2. There are no backwards-compatible PS3s on store shelves anymore. Our greatest fears have been realized, and Sony's greatest failure is complete. This being the trend, how can we hope that the PS4 (should it ever exist) will have backwards-compatibility? I suppose all we can hope is that this not a trend, but an annoying fluke.

By the way, Happy FFIV release week! what a wonderful thing to see one of my childhood favorites re-released in a fresh format! I sincerely hope they give FFVI a similar treatment. Now thats an RPG, some of the best character development to date. And i still think it was the only game that broke away from the main character forumula (no silent hero who's ugly mug you always have to observe throughout the game). I'm curious, what are your thoughts on FFVI? One of the few games where i found almost every character loveable and very well developed, with what should be renown as the evilist bastard of a villian yet. I tend to find character development as a whole lacking in most RPG's, where a particularly interesting character is introduced but never fully explained. Only a few games have left me fully satisified with the way they handled their characters, FFVI and the Lunar series seem to head up that department in my books.
-Mark

Oliver

This letter is a bit old. FFIV's release week has come and gone! But what a week it was! Or so I assume, since I have yet to play it. (Sigh.)

I love FFVI. It is unquestionably the best of the 2D Final Fantasy games, and it is superior to several of the 3D iterations. It has one of the greatest casts of characters ever to grace an RPG, although in the end, 14 was a bit much. (Umaro? Gogo? Come on.) The story is also very good, and it stands out even now for being shockingly dark in places. You have no idea how badly I want a 3D remake of FFVI. And not on the DS either...

Thanks for writing in, Mark! You get brownie points for actually including a QUESTION in your letter. That's certainly not a requirement, but it's a cool bonus for me. I like feeling helpful from time to time.



Welcome... weaver of the Eternal Circle of Zarathustra


Dear Oliver,

Yo. First time writer so... if things are not to your liking I apologize.

Oliver

It is to my liking so far! What's on your mind?

I have comments about your hot topics, of course, but before that, I must request help with my current predicament.

Oliver

Of course! Do not feel BOUND by the hot topics. They are merely suggestions, not rules.

You see, I love Strategy RPGs... alot. On NIS' offerings along I've clocked well over 300 hours, and with the upcoming release of Disgaea DS (which has a much cooler subtitle in Japan), this will only go up. The Original Generation games are my absolute favorite games in all of the GBAs expansive library. I've beaten every Fire Emblem (save Radiant Dawn, which I am currently loaning to a friend) to come to America, and FFT and FFTA have both been nearly 100%'d... however, I digress.

Oliver

I like SRPGs as well, but my experience with them is somewhat limited. I LOVE Fire Emblem, and Radiant Dawn is somewhere among my top 5 RPGs of all time. Tell your friend to give it back RIGHT NOW. I have also played a good chunk of Final Fantasy Tactics, although it is on hold for now.

Throughout all of this, I have experienced most of the range of Strategy RPGs, and loved all of them for their own unique reasons. However, I can't seem to get this same variety out of my regular RPG enjoyment. I have a terrible tendancy with standard RPGs to get about half way through the game and completely lose interest. In Final Fantasy IV Advance, I plugged along strongly until I got to the sealed cave, then completely lost interest when, after getting Ashura and Leviathan the Wall still crushed me every time. In Final Fantasy VI, after I get the party back together to protect the Esper in Narche I just stop enjoying the game, Chrono Cross keeps me longer, but around the time when I have to kill all the God Dragons I just stop enjoying the game. In fact, the number of straight RPGs (Defined as no action commands and no control over character movement, which tend to define Action and Strategy/Tactical RPGs) I've beaten can be counted on one hand: Final Fantasy I, II and V, and Chrono Trigger. I enjoy the games while I'm playing them, but eventually I just start feeling like the grind isn't worth in, in spite of the fact that, right up to that point, I thoroughly enjoyed the game.

Any advice on games or techniques to help me expand my RPG experience would be appreciated.

Oliver

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! DEFECTIVE HUMAN BEING!

Kidding.

Dude... all the RPGs you're mentioning here are old and grindy. This is most likely your problem. Play Final Fantasy X, or Xenosaga, or any number of more modern RPGs that do not require extensive grinding. Perhaps you have played these games and didn't like them either. If this is so, then JRPGs may not be your type of game. But try some newer games! They may be the cure you are looking for.

However, moving on:

Girl Gamers definately exist, or at least my brother is married to one. Not being one myself, I suppose it's not too relevant, but the RPGs she plays most are the Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon Games.

Oliver

Your brother is a lucky man, even if all she plays is Harvest Moon and similar tripe.

As for the 360 port of FFXIII, I say hurrah, I was kind of worried about the investment into the 360 for just the upcoming Star Ocean game, Infinite Undiscovery and the other selections, mainly because I DO want to play Kingdom Hearts III at some point, but with the port announced, I think that the 360 has enough going for it to let me resist the sirens call of Disgaea 3... maybe a store around here will let me rent a PS3 when that comes out? I suppose I should say something about FFXIII itself too... I guess it looks interesting. I've never really been a fan of the sci-fi Final Fantasy's FFVII didn't do much for me, though FFVIII was somewhat better... Then again I haven't really kept up with it too much. As a whole, the game looks pretty, but I'm holding out for actual reviews before I decide to get it based on an idealistic concept that will get in my head a month before release that FFXIII will be the Final Fantasy I've been waiting for the whole time, and the fantastic marketing and reviews combine with the idea to convince me to get it on the first day, and inevitibly disapoint myself.

Oliver

Well, I'll be buying FFXIII on the day of its release, critics be damned. You know they'll all rave over it anyways; it's their job to do so when it comes to big-name titles like this. The Final Fantasy series has never wholly disappointed me (although X-2 came close), and until it does, I will be a loyal follower. And unlike you, I love the sci-fi setting. VII is my favorite of the series, after all. I can't wait to find out more about the specifics of FFXIII's world, political system, social order, and all that stuff.

And yes, I've said it once, and I'll say it again: you will not regret an Xbox 360 purchase, especially now! If the Kingdom Hearts series actually remains loyal to Sony (and I highly doubt it will), then you can come to my place and play it. See? You should have no qualms now.

Concerning the Wii, I'm happy with the purchase, but only because I love the decidedly-not-an-RPG Trauma Center games to death. And if the constant hype will encourage developers not named Nintendo or Atlus to make excellent games for the system, I'm okay with it.

Oliver

Yes, but... the hype is NOT encouraging third-party developers to make excellent games for the system. This is evidenced by the fact that 95% of the third-party Wii titles on the market right now are complete, utter, and total garbage. And the remaining 5% are made up mostly of games that may be good, but unnappealing to me. Such as Trauma Center.

About Xenogears/Xenosaga... I like Xenogears... alot, the plot is amazing, the combat is good, and... had I not completely mucked up my training (hint: Don't rely on your gears too much, the last boss is F'ing HARD), it'd be the fifth standard RPG I've beaten. Xenosaga... I own all three of them, but the lingering feeling of "This isn't Xenogears" keeps me from really enjoying it, in fact I've yet to start II or III... though I may give it another shot, and keep in mind "this isn't Xenogears"... maybe I'll pretend it's made by Tri-Ace?

Oliver

Ugh. Another poor soul kept from enjoying the greatness of Xenosaga due to that old PlayStation game I've never played. FORGET ABOUT XENOGEARS. THIS IS NOT XENOGEARS! IT IS XENOSAGA, AND IT'S TEH AWESOME.

I mean, come on... I'm starting to feel all lonely, sitting here loving the Xenosaga trilogy while everyone writes in to bash it, and in the same breath, laud Xenogears.

Finally, before I depart, let me add: Shame on you for not playing SRT. The Original Generation games are gems of video games.

MoogleGunner

Oliver

I really do need to purchase those games. There are several reasons to do so, after all. First, I need to expand my SRPG experience. Second, I have heard nothing but good - nay, GREAT things - about these games. And finally, Atlus games always look really good sitting amongst one's collection. Which works out well, since that's likely what SRT would do for the first couple of months, and maybe longer - sit.

Well, seeing as how we are at the end of your letter, I can offer my final critique: WELL DONE. Since you did such a good job, you are allowed to write again. In fact, you are duty-bound to write again. And I can already tell you're not the type to neglect your duties... are you?



Sony Repeats History


"Girls do not play games." Yeah, tell that to me at age 6 when I was the only girl who had her OWN Nintendo in the class. Yes, OWN Nintendo, not something I had to share with older/younger brothers/sisters. (FWIW, my parents did buy it for me, but I paid for it out of a savings account that I had in my name.) Although I can only say I've been an RPG player for 13-14 years give or take, I'm a girl gamer first and foremost. I'm a fan in equal parts of both story driven games (RPGís, the Ace Attorney and Trauma Center series) as well as open-ended games (Harvest Moon series, The Sims.) However, I am not into sports games, FPS'es and games like GTA (although I'm quite intrigued at the premise of Bully) seeing as that I'm more of a Nintendo fan than a Sony/Microsoft fan, so my definition of being a girl gamer falls short at that point.

Oliver

Egads! A female! Writing to my male-dominated column! WHAT DEVILRY IS THIS?!

I do not enjoy sports games, FPS games, or GTA either! Yay for common ground! Actually, I suppose I can't really say whether or not I would enjoy GTA, since I've, uh, never played it.

I am not a Nintendo fan! I am currently engaged in a hate-hate relationship with Nintendo! I'm not a big fan of Sony right now either, although I do not hate them. I am in love with Microsoft's Xbox 360 at the moment, because it has all teh RPGs.

And since Iím a girl gamer, there are some obvious things I need to confess to:

Oliver

Oh, please no.

- My DS bag is pink (primarily).
- I was a closed beta tester for Hello Kitty Online.
- I owned Cooking Mama (I donít own it anymore since it got traded in towards the purchase price of my Wii.)
- I play Dance Dance Revolution.
- I decorate my DS. (Right now itís got a pattern of light green and clear crystal rhinestones on it from some sets I got at FYE for 88 cents a pop.)
- I have cosplayed as a video game character. (Maggey Byrde from the Ace Attorney games to be exact; Iíll probably dress as Shiki from TWEWY next year.)
- Iím a Final Fantasy VII fangirl (although Iíve never beaten the game.)

Oliver

Pink DS bag? That's okay. Girls like pink, it's not a big deal.

Hello Kitty Online = one of the worst ideas anyone ever conceived. I'm sorry, but... it's simply shameful.

I know lots of people who play DDR, both male and female. I have never played it, and I NEVER WILL. I will never play Guitar Hero either. I refuse to play games that so closely simulate real-life activities. It strikes me as a gargantuan waste of time.

You decorate DSs? Can I pay you to decorate mine? That actually sounds kinda awesome.

I wish I had the guts to cosplay. I also wish I had the ability to create costumes. Or, alternatively, I wish I had a female acquaintance who could create such a costume. And on that note, I wish I had more female acquaintances. (Read: any.)

I am a HUGE FFVII fanboy. FFVII is my all-time favorite RPG, and I take every opportunity to mention this fact. FINISH THE GAME! Are you stuck? If so, bring the game to my place, I'll help you out. (Bahahaha.)

So Oliver: Girl gamers exist. You just have to LOOK REEEEEALLLLY HAAAARRRD.

- Bucket

Oliver

YOU ARE A LIAR! LIE- URRRRRRR!

I'm kidding. I know girl gamers exist. I actually know one of them! But she doesn't read this column, so she'll never know about her shout-out. Unless I take the time to tell her, which I don't think I'll do. And she only plays WoW and Kingdom Hearts, so I'm not entirely sure if she counts!

Thank you for writing in, Bucket! Make sure you write in again sometime, and remind us of the fact that girl gamers do, in fact, exist!



Folly, pure folly


Yo yo Oliver,

Oliver

YO YO, DOOD.

I am here to bash Xenogears as requested. Now first I'd like to say I did enjoy Xenogears, however there were some things that the game lacked. Such as gameplay on the second disk. A large portion of the second disk is spent with characters sitting in chairs explaining what happened next in the story. While an interesting story tactic, I really would have liked to have played some of the events. It was a stark contrast to the first disk. You went from playing every minute detail (almost too much detail) of the plot to going "Hey there was this HUGE event but you only get to see some pictures" Yeah...I wasn't a big fan of that. And if I recall correctly, when you did get to play, you couldn't enter half the areas on the world map.

Oliver

Argh! You're bashing it, but you STILL ENJOYED IT. I want to hear some GENUINE XENOGEARS HATRED. Only then will I be convinced not to buy it.

I've heard horror stories about the second disc of Xenogears, but unfortunately, that is hardly enough to discourage me from purchasing the game. I love cutscenes and dialogue in RPGs. Unless it sucks, and from what I've heard, the storytelling in Xenogears is practically unrivalled.

Let's see what else didn't I like about that game? The pink thing was frankly disturbing with her love of Fei. Also, the game didn't agree with my PS2, it froze every few hours on me. I haven't had that kind of a problem with any other game other than the original Wild Arms.

Oliver

Wuh? "The pink thing?" No idea wut ur talking about, dood.

It did not agree with your PS2, eh? Well, that makes me wonder how it would take to my PS3...

Well, according to Sony's PS3 backwards-compatibility list, the game has no problems on PS3. So I should be set.

The Xenosaga games felt more cohesive than Xenogears did to me. I would have liked to know better how episodes 1-3 related Xenogears. I know they aren't supposed to match up perfectly, as I believe they changed the plot around somewhat, but I am curious how it was originally supposed to go.

Oliver

I think everyone wants to know how the Xenosaga trilogy connects to Xenogears, and if it does at all. Unfortunately, we'll never, ever know. And yes, the Xenosaga trilogy culminated into a very cohesive story, which is surprising, considering that the series was literally cut in half. Quite an achievement, if you ask me.

And I also hated Xenosaga II except for that last scene. It made me quite excited for the third. The third was my favorite, I loved the ending. No one I know actually got to the third one other than me mind you, but I enjoyed it and am dismayed on the lack of plans to continue it.

Oliver

Xenosaga Episode III was a great, great game. But I still give Episode I the edge. I did not hate Episode II, but it was a disappointment.

But enough about the Xeno series. I couldn't help noticing that apparently you are lacking in female gamers near you. I find that interesting as I have the oposite problem, in that all I can find around me are female RPGamers, very few male RPGamers. (Despite the handle I have choosen for myself I am female.) Most of the guys who play games around me have only played Final Fantasy. Which is disappointing. While good, they are not my favorites.

Oliver

EGADS, YOU'RE A FEMALE?!

You need to tell me this stuff from the start! I can be gentlemanly if need be, after all! (Sigh.)

Uh, can we trade problems? I'm not even sure that's possible, but if it is, we need to get on that.

But enough about woes and Xeno I will stop writing so you may get to other letters. Enjoy your Persona 3-ing and remember that soylent green is people.
Regards,
S. Reinbach IV

Oliver

Hahaha, I have no other letters to get to! You are the last one of the week! I do not know what soylent green is, but I can hardly believe that it is people.

Write again soon, Ms. Reinbach!



IN CLOSING

8/04 - 1:00 AM CST
Gads, I am tired.

Shawn Cooper will be joining us for next week's column! You know him better as the almighty Lusipurr, former host of Q&Abuse! Yes, he is still alive... and he still has teeth. Send a few letters addressed to him, IF YOU DARE.

Are you all reeling from the shocking announcement in my latest Currents? I don't see how you can't be. No, I still have not decided which column I will drop. What do you all think?

Goodbye for the present!

-Oliver



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What I can't wait for:

1. The Last Remnant

2. Valkyria Chronicles

3. Infinite Undiscovery

4. Persona 4

5. Prince of Persia



On my Playlist:

1. Persona 3

2. Soul Calibur IV

3. Fire Emblem



Hot Topics:

1. I am tired and cannot think of any hot topics.

2. Why should I always come up with hot topics?

3. Get up off your lazy duffs, and come up with YOUR OWN HOT TOPICS!

4. I mean srsly. I can't do everything, people.

5. I am really, really tired.



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