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ASK OLIVER
Bacon-Flavored DS
October 12, 2008

10/12 - 11:30 PM CST

Ah, Fall Break. It's like the unofficial halfway mark of the semester. A little less than two months, and I'll be done with this accursed institution of Higher Learning... for a short while, at least.

My fall break was extended by a day thanks to a bomb threat made at my school last Thursday. A series of threatening e-mails were sent to various members of the faculty, and some random fires broke out across the dorms. (I do not live in the dorms, just to clarify.) An investigation took place, which ended in the arrest of a 19-year-old dental hygiene student. I suppose I should thank him; our break started a day earlier as a result. I was quite happy, because originally, our break (11-14) would have granted me all of ONE DAY off of school (Monday the 13th.)

I've been cracking down on Tales of Vesperia lately. Managed to play quite a large chunk of it over the weekend. If all goes well, I'll be writing a Second Opinion review soon!





The Letters
Head in the sand


What's up Oliver? Been awhile, and I've got a few questions and thoughts brewin' for ya.

Oliver

Now that's what I like to hear. Let's crack open that brew and have a discussion.

So first off, I've been totally stoked for Eternal Sonata ever since I saw it behind the glass case at the local game store, I never bought it though because I don't own a 360. So, today I downloaded the demo for the upcoming PS3 version, and might I say I'm totally happy with what the demo has presented me with. The battle system is fresh, the graphics are nice, and it seems like the world is one I've wanted to be a part of for awhile. So have you played the game? What are your thoughts on it?

Oliver

The only experience I have with Eternal Sonata is a brief moment I spent with the Xbox 360 demo. I don't believe I even finished the demo, because I had go to work... or something of that nature. And then I forgot about it. In fact, your letter reminded me that it's likely still sitting on my hard drive. I seem to remember enjoying the demo. The battles were fun, and not quite like anything I'd seen before. I've been a huge fan of tri-Crescendo ever since I played and beat Baten Kaitos Origins, so I fully intend to play the game someday. I would have already, but I've been holding out for the PS3 version.

So again, I don't own a 360, but I was able to download the demo for BioShock on the PS3. It's cool that both Eternal Sonata and BioShock are coming out the same day in two weeks, I'm stoked. I love the style of BioShock. Definately has a lot of grace. But I've read that they are making the game into a movie. At this point, I can't see why anyone would ever be excited by this. Every single movie that has ever been based off of a videogame, has been nothing but cinematic garbage. I'd rather be locked in a room with my eyes peeled open watching Richard Simmons do jumping jacks. Seriously. Mark Wahlberg as Max Payne? Flying demons IN Max Payne? No. No. No. I'm really saddened by them doing that to good ol' Max. Both of those games are pure Noir gold. They should have done it in the style of Sin City, that's what they should have done. Resident Evil, Doom, Mario, none of those movies were remotely good. So what are your prospects relating to a BioShock film???

Oliver

I've discussed my thoughts on the BioShock movie plenty of times before, but there's no harm in bringing up my points again. I believe the film has a better chance at succeeding than most of its ill-fated predecessors. Gore Verbinksi is directing, and he's proven to be a capable fellow. I can't recall the name of the screenwriter, but he wrote freakin' Gladiator, so I have a good feeling about him. They're working with the game's producer, Ken Levine, which should prove beneficial (although I doubt he has *too* much involvement in the project). Finally, BioShock already has a plot and premise worth a damn, unlike the source material for every other video game film ever made. So, while I remain skeptical, I have hopes for the BioShock movie. And please, do yourself a favor and purchase BioShock for your PS3 on the day it is released. It is a purchase you absolutely will not regret.

I would like to buy a 360 someday, but I just am not down with Microsoft for so many reasons. Bad hardware, terrible business philosophy, and they have there hands deep in the governing body of the United States. That's not to say that Sony isn't a corporate punk either, but they as a whole, manufacture far better products, with higher quality then Microsoft could ever hope to. The PS3 is a far superior system in everyway, and games really do look better on the PS3, so it really is a sad thing to see all these exclusive RPG's going to 360. They could sound better, look better, and expand on many things due to the capacity and better technology of what is Blu-Ray. Surely you must see this? What is the world coming to... At least we have a good columnist at RPGamer these days.

Oliver

Ugh... why must you hate the Xbox? It loves you, and all RPGamers. You're reading a little too much into things when you talk about the evils of Microsoft as a company. The Xbox 360 is a wonderful little machine that gives you access to the best games of the current generation. That's all you need to know. And no... games don't look better on the PS3. I'm not sure if you're talking about graphics, or about the software lineup, but you're wrong in both cases. The Xbox 360 has far more quality titles that have already been released, and far more on the horizon. Additionally, multiplatform games look nearly identical on the two systems. Even if they didn't, that's hardly a reason to tout the PS3 over the 360.

I'm not a PS3 hater. I love my PS3, but srsly dude... the 360 is where it's at this generation. I can't deny that, technically speaking, the PS3 is a better-built piece of hardware, but given the current state of things, that's almost entirely irrelevant. There really aren't any PS3 games that couldn't be released on the 360... and I doubt there ever will be. So, drop the hate! Save some pennies! Buy a 360! You won't regret it.

Anyway, that's it man, good to write to you man, hope you're enjoyin' life to the fullest! Your pal,

"Celebrate ignorance. Vote McCain." - E N W B

Oliver

I am enjoying life. I usually do. I mean, everyone's gotta live it, so... might as well enjoy it.

And I considered removing your political statement above, but decided to leave it be. As long as readers realize that it is in fact YOUR OPINION, and not being endorsed by RPGamer or any of its employees!

Thanks for the letter, man. See ya soon.



What's hot, what's not


So I love "Tales of Vesperia". The plot, though cliched, is interesting and the main characters make me want to play through the game (and really isn't that all we can ask... to want to finish?). I think that Yuri is a great character who has to make some hard choices in the game. The cool thing is that he seems to understand that for every action he takes that there will be a reaction to it later on. The fighting is fun (as it is with most Tales games), but sometimes it seems that the block is a little off. Not enough to make it difficult to fight just a little... odd. To be honest it is nice to buy a game and kinda know what you are getting. With a "Tales.." game you know you'll get some sort of animal, some kids,a too cool for school guy, a magic chick and some random dude who needs to save the world. If it can be as good as "Tales of Abyss" by the time it ends I 'll be happy.

Oliver

Heh. Yes, buying a game like Tales of Vesperia is like inviting an old friend over for dinner. You know exactly how the evening will go down.

I love Tales of Vesperia too! In fact, I just got done with a fantastic 5 hour session with it. Yuri is a great main character, isn't he? I'm very impressed with him thus far. Like all RPG heroes, he has an insatiable desire to do "what's right," but what's great about him is that he does things that perhaps aren't so heroic in order to accomplish this goal of doing the right thing. And like you said, he's more than aware of the consequences for his actions. Wish I could go into greater detail, but we don't want to tread on SPOILERIFIC ground.

Combat is standard Tales fare, so it's a lot of fun. And I swear, the block IS a little off. It's like... the block button isn't as responsive as it has been in past Tales games. Maybe it's the fault of the 360 controller. Never have been a big fan of that thing; gimme a DualShock any day.

What I am not som happy about is "Infinite Undiscovery". How on earth did the people who brought us "Star Ocean" and the charming "Radiata Stories" deliver us this pile. I played it for a few hours before I just didn't care. Plus game that makes you go into the menu and select your healing items while you are still fighting it just a little broken.

Oliver

Poor Infinite Undiscovery, just can't catch a break. For those of you who are interested, RPGamer recently produced a Head to Head for the game, in which our head of reviews, Adriaan Den Ouden squared off against Jonathan Self, our head of news. Adriaan hated the game, while Jonathan enjoyed it. Best of all, it's hosted by the oh-so-loveable Ethan Pipher. CHECK IT OUT.

"Dragon Quest IV" makes me very happy. I am excited for my DS to have a new game to play. And finally after fininshing "Dragon Warrior IV" on my NES all those many years ago I can play V and VI (still a bit off but still coming :).

Oliver

I should go buy Dragon Quest IV tomorrow. I was totally excited for that game and then forgot about it. And I want to play something on my DS. So yeah... methinks I'll go grab it tomorrow. (Friday the 10th, for those who want dates.)

So I was at a local game place when this dude brought in the most impressive collection of PS1 rpgs that I have ever seen. I wish I had been a thousand dollars richer to have bought some of them. I still got "Persona 2", "Lunar: Eternal Blue" and "Breathe of Fire IV'. So I guess what my question (yes I have one) is what would be that game that if you were threre and so was it... you would simply have to have?

Oliver

There are a few PS1 games that I really want. Wild Arms, Persona 2, and the original Final Fantasy Tactics come to mind. Sure, I have Tactics for my PSP, but I want the original, y'know? For collection purposes and whatnot. If I had to choose among those, I'd likely go with Persona 2. I actually own the first Persona, but like so many other RPGs I own, I've yet to play any of it.

Have a great one...
Arkadysmile "A man chooses, a slave obeys." Andrew Ryan-Bioshock

PS. who is the best "hero" in a rpg... and on that note the worst?

Oliver

The best? Cloud, Final Fantasy VII. The worst? That's a bit more difficult... it's a toss-up between Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2 and Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia.

Thanks for the letter, man.



o.O


Subject: Hey there QnA guy!

Disclaimer: What you're about to read it's being written by a mexican who learned to speak and write in english by playing Final Fantasy Tactics. Any engrish or gibberish can be and must blamed to the original FFT translation team. No chocobos or slimes where hurt during the making of this letter.

Hey there Oliver!

Been reading this here QnA since the days of the Google Slime (Jeez that was way way back... I'm old now!) so as a greeting I have to say that you're as fun and smart as the good old guys where.

BUT!

I have two questions for you...

Oliver

Woah. You don't receive letters quite like this every day!

Given the quality of the original FFT translation (although I am familiar with it only through hearsay), I have concluded that you MUST have had some additional English training. You're actually making more sense at this point than many supposed Americans who write to me. And the bold text is a nice touch. Lets me know when you're yelling at me.

Let's hear these two questions of yours.

1) Whats your take on Vagrant Story man? (Jeez, good old Andrew was all anti-Vagrant Story, like one of those "mgs4 on xbox 360 will never happen w00t!" fanboys)

Oliver

Ach, I have no take on Vagrant Story. I actually own the game, but like so many of the games I own, I've never played a second of it. I've heard great things about it, and I really want to give it a try. It is one of the three main PS1 games that I regret not having played. Xenogears and Persona are the other two. And Persona 2 as well I guess. And... maybe we should throw the original Wild Arms into the mix.

2) What is your take on newer rpg's? As of late I've found myself only being able to enjoy most DS and old ps2-psOne rpg's and while I loved games like Oblivion and Mass Effect, in my opinion Eternal sonata, Blue dragon, Lost odissey and Twilight princess, where way too boring for me to endure (Hey I am a guy who has played, enjoyed and used to own Guardian's Crusade and every single squaresoft rpg released on this side of the pond), thing is when I use a critic eye on those games they come out ok, y'know blue dragon its hi-def old school rpg, TP was like Ocarina of time remake (I double dare anyone who tries to say otherwise), and Eternal... well... That one really was awful. So is it me getting old or we are finally getting the rpg's we deserve, and by that I mean that latest american made (or at least american focused) rpg's (for consoles). Part of me says yeah! I grew up watching Harry and the Hendersons, not watching tentacle rap... you get it... But then I think to myself, "hey there them japanese made FFIX (The greatest RPG on playstation, and if you want me to prove it just ask)!". Thats awesome! One part of me tries to keep being open minded but on the other hand... JAPANESE RPG's HAVE NOT EVOLVED SINCE THE PS2 was officially ditched in the wake of the new consoles. So whats your take Oliver you think Im just getting old or is there something wrong with japanese rpg's?

Oliver

Did you srsly just blaspheme the name of both Twilight Princess AND Lost Odyssey in my column?

To be frank, I'm quite surprised that you couldn't enjoy either of those games, I loved them both. Blue Dragon was a tad boring but I enjoyed it as well. Eternal Sonata I have not played, but I've heard naught but grand things about the game since it was released. I plan on buying the soon-to-be-released PS3 port, as I stated earlier.

Sure, there's not much new under the sun. JRPGs remain much the same as they've ever been. But that's the case with most genres, honestly. Perhaps you're just tired of them. Perhaps you should try to appreciate the traditional RPG for what it is, and not necessarily expect something novel and fresh every time. Lost Odyssey is as traditional as they come, but the story was done so very well, and the gameplay was so solid, it's difficult to complain.

Or you could just go play Persona 3. I guarantee you you've never played a JRPG quite like that one.

Now to answer your Tales of... question, If its as good as Tales of destiny 2 then a must buy... But I gotta work to get it, and we know work shucks! And Infinite Undiscovery must be really boring... I mean I got bored by lookin at the gameplay vids... Tough it looks like some sort of FFXII like gameplay wich on the other hand would make it a good game, but who knows I'm never buying that.

Oliver

There have already been multiple Tales games that are leagues better than Tales of Destiny II. Vesperia is one of them.

When I saw the first footage of Infinite Undiscovery, I thought it looked EXACTLY like Final Fantasy XII. I got really freakin' excited, and started counting down the days. Then I received the unpleasant news that it was not a turn-based system, but rather a hack-and-slash ordeal that, somehow, managed to look identical to FFXII combat. I kept my hopes up still. Then the game was released, to less-than-positive reception. So I pushed Infinite Undiscovery out of my mind entirely.

And that, as they say, is that.

PS. A question I was forgetting! You have played BoF V: Dragon Quarter? If you havent you should either: Play it now or resign, go find a bunch of lemmings and follow em to the nearest bottomless pit.

Oliver

I'll take option C: not play it and spend my time on the multitude of other games out there. (Can't play 'em all, y'know.)

PS. 2 If you're 17 years or older buy Persona 4 on december! Even if youre not a fan just do it for the sake of it, the persona games are awesome! *hugs persona 2 cd*

And that's kind of all I wanted to write to ya... Maybe a few more PS's in a different new e-mail, anyways keep up the good work man and I sincerely hope that this much rambling doesnt affect ya or any animals nearby.

Have a good day and happy new.... What the... *still drunk since the independence day celebrations (mexican ones)*

Oliver

Well, it seems my Persona 3 recommendation was unnecessary. By the same token, your Persona 4 recommendation is equally unecessary. It's already been pre-ordered.

Your rambling did not affect me in any noticeable way, but my roommate's sugarglider seems to have slipped into a coma. Might be coincidence.



Live at the BBC


Howdy doody, Oliver. Your prophecy that I would find fresh material has come to pass - all hail the soothsayer!

Oliver

Muhahaha, I win again. I am invariably in the right.

Now I've got a short story to tell here, one that you'll find interesting. A couple weeks ago a customer made a return of something and exchanged it for a different size. The item had decreased in price, meaning that she had a refund of $2.75 due. She scooped up the exchanged item and ran out the door before I could give the refund. So I put the $2.75 under the register for awhile, and when she didn't come back I claimed it for my own. Apparently someone else that day took something else out of the register, because I got called to the mat over this (which would not have had an effect upon the income for the day, because the money was already out of the system) and possibly because I had put my 2 weeks' notice in the day before, got terminated. I also agreed to repay the $2.75, though I have not been asked to do so yet. So I'm currently unemployed, which grants me tons of free time but very little money.

Oliver

Well that's some crap. I'm willing to bet that they were looking for some excuse to get rid of you earlier. Most places will just tell employees to hit the dusty trail when they turn in a notice. The workforce, man... it's a scary place to be sometimes. You should enjoy this temporary break from it, but I would also suggest seeking gainful employment with haste. Money has this way of... making the world go 'round.

Oh, and my new DS (6 weeks old) is experiencing difficulties. Such as both screens not turning on when I power the system on. I would call this bad. Fortunately it is well within the warranty limit, so Nintendo will graciously repair the thing on its dollar. All it costs is time.

Oliver

Aw jeeze. Now THAT is what I call a spirit breaker. Scrimping pennies for a new DS, only to wind up with not one, but TWO non-functioning screens. Hooray for warranties, I guess. Still. Time is precious.

Oh, and I must comment on Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Sure it had some fun moments, but the conclusion dragged on too long and was utterly hilarious to me. Just think: one ship has been sunk and the entire Royal Navy retreats without fighting? Gore Verbinski isn't a bad director though, that was a script failure.

Oliver

Shrug. I loved the film. I love all three of those movies. I mean sure, who didn't raise an eyebrow at that conclusion, but I figure the Royal Navy's morale stat must have been very low, and it was completely shattered upon the destruction of their leader's ship. In any case, even if they had charged and fought, they would have lost. Because the good guys always win.

I haven't talked about anything RPG-related yet so let's start with a couple more potshots at Lunar: Dragon Song. Its final dungeon is one of the laziest I've ever seen: you have to go through four rooms and kill everything in them, then the final battles start. Isn't that a great design? And the final battle is also a disappointment. The main bad guy is named Ignatius, and he actually kicked your butt in one of those lovely battles that cannot be won. He is not the final boss however. You do not fight him after that unwinnable battle even though he is the antagonist; instead there's a silly scene where he's gloating about his power, the floor cracks, he falls down, and Jian (your protagonist) grabs his hand and tries to keep him alive but Ignatius chooses to fall to his death. The rest of the ending is a rewrite of Lunar: Silver Star Story, only done badly. You haven't played that game but to anyone who has, this information should be sufficient to demonstrate the utter bankruptcy of Dragon Song's every aspect.

Oliver

I won't even do that game the grace of slapping a "spoiler" warning on the above paragraph.

That actually sounds hilariously funny, in a bad way. A really bad way. I read your review for the game... hopefully any and everyone who is considering purchasing the game will do the same.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a great game. I just reviewed it, so no point in rewriting that when it's all right on the site. If Symphony of the Night was your only experience with this style of Castlevania title, I encourage you to give a try another title in the line (and they're all on DS/GBA, oddly enough). Just don't bother with Harmony of Dissonance, an at-best mediocre title. If you have in fact tried other variants on this play style by Konami, I'll just know that it doesn't mesh with you very well and drop the subject. Portait of Ruin is also quite good and I'm ticked at my DS malfunctioning before I could finish it - now I have to wait.

Oliver

Yeah, I have a younger brother who's played through both of the Castlevania games for the DS. He loved them both, and has implored me to try them. But then, he also enjoyed Symphony of the Night. Truth be told, I wanted to go back to SotN at some point, but all the flak I've received for disliking the game initially has hardened my heart toward the series. Now I don't want to play them just so I can continue pissing everyone off. Kinda wierd, but it's true.

I also played a significant chunk of Yggdra Union. It's different from any tactical title I've played before, in interesting ways. At the beginning of every battle you choose the cards to use; these cards have a movement value, an attack value, and a special ability. The move number determines how many spaces you can move that turn - and this affects all characters. The attack value's impact is obvious, and the special abilities vary quite a bit with some being usable only by characters armed with certain weapons. Each card's attack power goes up each time it's used in a successful combat (not a whole lot, but the cumulative effect is handy). Going into everything this game does differently would take awhile. So I'll just conclude this quick intro to the game by saying the character design is frankly baffling - how can every person in the game look like he or she is no older than six?

Oliver

You may have noticed our glowing review for the recently released Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone for the PSP. I really had no interest in the series until I read that review. Even now I have but a passing interest, but in time, that passing interest may develop into a DO WANT.

I hate child-like art styles. In fact, I'm really growing to hate children in RPGs. Palom and Porom are the only examples of children who weren't a complete pain, and that's likely only because they didn't have voice actors. I suppose Mack and Cooke from Lost Odyssey weren't TOO bad, but still... they had their moments. The Tales series is a particularly guilty offender in this case. Genis. Anise. Karol. I wanted to kill each and every one of them. (In the case of Karol, I am still actively wanting to kill him, since I've yet to finish the game.)

I'm surprised you hadn't heard of Terranigma. It's in the same series as Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia, and it bears the distinction of being an RPG that was translated into English but never released in North America. I did indeed buy the game and attempted to play it, but as anyone can tell you a PAL game will not work on an NTSC machine without a bit of work. I'm just lucky my SNES wasn't fried in the endeavor. Since I couldn't play the game I resold it on eBay.

Oliver

Ah, so there was an English translation. Just goes to show you that Wikipedia isn't as infallible as we'd all like to think. I've never quite understood it when companies go to the trouble of localizing a game, and then not releasing it. Would have to be a real slap in the face to all the people who worked on translating the damn thing. Ah well, the fact that an English translation actually exists heightens the chances of seeing the game in the form of a Virtual Console release one day.

Trying to write this while watching a debate makes me ask - how much real-life politics should be in games? Don't you want to deal with defaulted mortgages and health care in your gaming?

Oliver

Are you mad? I don't even want to deal with that shite in real life!

There's a constant Tales discussion in your Q&A columns, but my only contribution to it can come from Tales of Phantasia, the only game in the series I've played. I enjoyed that game a fair amount. It was rather too long and apparently the GBA version I played lost a few features from the PS1 and Super Famicom renditions, but it was still fun. Now that I think on it my playing time was something like 80 hours on that game....

Oliver

Eighty hours is a lot. I think I spent a little over 50 on both Symphonia and Abyss. I've spent 35 on Vesperia thus far, and I don't see it lasting much longer.

As I have no handheld system for a little while it's about time to dive into my collection of console titles. Perhaps I shall finally start Fire Emblem 3 and find out how much the series has evolved... the second half of that game is not being incorporated into the new DS Fire Emblem, after all. Details next time since I've probably sucked up too much space!
JuMeSyn

Oliver

Ohoho, so you went and imported an old FE game, eh? I seem to remember you telling me that you had plans to do that one day. I also remember telling you to tell me all about it. So, once you've played enough to formulate an opinion, be sure to shoot it my way.

IN CLOSING

Egads! FOUR letters today! As you can see, I did more than just play videogames during this fall break.

I bought Dragon Quest IV, as I promised earlier in the column. I've played about 15 minutes of it thus far, so I can't say too much about it. For those interested, I also picked up an Xbox copy of Psychonauts on the cheap. It's one of those games I see in the GameStop bargain bins all the time, and always consider buying. I decided to free myself from the constant indecision. For a mere $12, why not? And who knows, I might actually, like, play it one day.

Before I go, I should inform you that you want to be extra sure to read next week's Q&A. There's a super-special surprise in store for you. What is the nature of this surprise, you might ask? Ah, but if I told you, it would no longer be a surprise, now would it?

-Oliver



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What I can't wait for:

1. The Last Remnant

2. Persona 4

3. Prince of Persia

4. Valkyria Chronicles

5. Chrono Trigger DS



On my Playlist:

1. Tales of Vesperia

2. Dragon Quest IV DS

3. Indigo Prophecy



Hot Topics:

1. So... what's your take on children in RPGs?

2. TGS was kinda... meh this year. Any thoughts?

3. Teh PS3 or teh 360?

4. Uuuuhhh...

5. Orange Crush?



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