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ASK OLIVER
It's a Wonderful Life
December 22, 2008

12/21 - 11:40 p.m. CST

God help me... I have still not done any Christmas shopping whatsoever. Christmas is five bloody days away, and I haven't purchased a single gift.

But here's a Christmas gift to you, my dear readers: a Q&A column by yours truly! Yes, I know this is what you get practically every week, but just pretend that this one is special. Please. That alone would put quite the dent in my shopping list.

I have completed Valkyria Chronicles! Absolutely spectacular game; look for my review soon. Next up? Persona 4. I'm unsure if I'll jump right into that one, though. I might have to take a break with a non-RPG of some kind.

There are quite a few letters in my inbox today! The question is, which ones will be lucky enough to see print...?





The Letters
In which many clarifications are made


Dear Ethos, or Montok Eggs (see when you get married to Strawberry Eggs you will have to have her last name.)

Oliver

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but when a man and woman wed, it is customary for the woman to adopt the man's last name rather than vice versa. Therefore, in the event that Strawberry Eggs and I were married, she would henceforth be known as Strawberry Montok. (Which, for some reason, sounds like an ice cream desert to me.)

"...Although Ethos needs no saving, for he is a god among men, a peacock among pidgeons, a Kuja among Sephiroths." (EvilPaul)

Now I cannot begin to describe how disturbed this quote made me feel when I read it, maybe it is because Sephiroth is one of the most over hyped bad guys of all time, or possibly it is because until near the end of FFIX I thought Kuja was a woman...yes definitely because I thought Kuja was a woman, which would imply that Ethos looks like a woman. Which brings me to my two questions.

1. What is it with the Emo main character in the Final fatnasy story lines? I mean Cloud, Squall, and Tidus were all just whiny bastards who carried swords around. The only good main character was Zidane because he had a decent personality. Oh, well there is Reetin from FFXI but he is just a badass all around.

Oliver

Clarification once again: EvilPaul did not actually write that line you quoted. That was one of Ethan's infamous "edits." Pathetic, no? Twisting around the words of others in order to stroke his oversized ego.

FURTHER clarification: Ethan IS a woman.

I have never been one to jump on the "hate the 'emo' protagonists" bandwagon, for a couple of reasons. First, Cloud and Tidus are not even close to what I would call emo. Cloud has a few, very justifiable, emo moments in FFVII. The scene in the lifestream comes to mind, but that was serious stuff; he was essentially trying to piece his own past together. Overall, his character in the game is *far* from emo. Squall is a slightly different story, but once again, he wasn't just angsty for the sake of it. His character was very well done overall, and by the time the game ended, he was quite a different person.

Tidus wasn't emo in the least, and I have never understood this complaint. I really liked the guy, honestly; I thought he acted normally for someone who was thrown out of a plush sports-star lifestyle into an archaic, strife-ridden world nothing like his own.

2. What is it that you are looking forward to seeing in Final Fantasy XIII? Characters? Plot? Item selection? Crafting? You choose it can be anything you want really, I am just looking to see what you guys are expecting from that game.

Oliver

I gotta go with story and characters here. The reason being, we haven't seen a flagship Final Fantasy title with a truly well-done story since Final Fantasy X waaaay back in 2001. X-2 was a massive disappointment, XII dropped the ball in the plot department, and spin-offs such as Dirge of Cerberus and the various Crystal Chronicles iterations just don't cut it. Crisis Core did have one hell of a story behind it though, I will say. So while I'm interested in seeing how this crazy new battle system works out, I'm hoping most of all that Square Enix tells a good story this time around.

Your letter ends rather abruptly, so I have a creeping suspicion that you, like so many others, may have fallen victim to RPGamer's malicious mail server. Either that, or Ethan managed to get to your letter while it was in cyberspace. Wouldn't surprise me. He's crafty like that.



In which a vagrant friend returns


Hi, Ollie, Sorry I haven't written in about a hundred years, but my stupid job's been so crazy that I consider homicide on an almost daily basis.

Oliver

Bahaha, believe me when I say that I heard that one. Homicide is not the answer, despite how tempting it seems at times. For some odd reason, our society seems to frown on murder, so for the sake of your job, I recommend a different way to relieve stress. Such as... writing to my column!

Looks like you're ahead of me on that one.

I just wanted to throw my opinion in regarding FFXII v. FFX. I thought X was the worst in the series (yes, worse than II). To me it felt as if the developer's were just going through the motions. X almost put me off RPGs. It is the reason I never bought XII. Everything in that game felt rote. I am definately a gameplay over story gamer, but I wasn't all that impressed with X's story (again, didn't strike me - just felt as if SE had said, it's a FF game so put some twists in it & hard rock to make everybody think it's new & different). I just found it dull & unimaginative in every way. I finally got XII in a trade. I loved it. The characters were engaging enough that I wanted to keep moving them along which as far as story/impetus goes is all I ask from a game. The battle system was a vast improvement over X. What a headache it was switching all the characters in & out of battles in X to keep them balanced. Plus there was no real challenge. XII's system, though not perfect, was enjoyable to play with. I liked the challenge of having to figure out which gambits & in what order to have them in boss fights. If you hadn't had to do that, everyone would've been complaining that you only put them in once & never had to think about them again.

Oliver

Wow. Those are some harsh words for FFX, and I can't really say that I agree with them... at all. To each his own, I suppose.

I will say that I don't really understand your complaint about switching characters in and out during battles. How is it any more annoying than having to do the same thing, but OUTSIDE of battle, like in every other Final Fantasy title? The ability to change characters out DURING combat was a blessing, plain and simple. It also contributed greatly to combat strategies, since all the characters were unique in their abilities.

I DO agree with you on gambits. I've always claimed that configuring gambits differently for different battles was one of the main strengths of combat in FFXII. It was complimented by the fact that it was entirely possible to issue manual commands at any time on top of that.

Every FF has its own battle system. I hope XIII's will be one I enjoy. As for story, well, I could count on one hand the number of games that have truly had complex stories. I guess we're still a bit away from debating most games literary virtues, but I believe that day will come.

Oliver

A game doesn't *need* to have a story on level with literature to succeed. It needs simply to be told well, paced well, and feature well-rounded characters.

Well... okay, that's a pretty bare-bones discussion of videogame narratives. There's more to it than that, but this is a discussion to be broken into many different pieces. By that I mean, I need YOU READERS to write in and tell me what YOU expect from a videogame's story.

I hope you, all RPGamer staff & all the readers have a fantastic holiday.
Jbumi

Oliver

You too, miss boomy. Thanks for writing.



In which my underling dares address me


Hey Oliver! (or Ethos, whichever!)

I am absolutely bored at work right now and have decided to send three short Q&A questions just for fun.

Oliver

Well, well, well, if it isn't our Editorials Curator, Sam Marchello, known also as Nyx!

It's Oliver today, my dear. Lucky for you, since I'm the gentleman. Work is such a bore, I know, so ask away.

1. What is the one thing for the holidays that you want more than anything?

Oliver

What I want more than anything is hardly fit for print.

Nah, just kidding. I'm not that perverted, really.

How about a housemaid? Being a busy college student and whatnot, it's a bit difficult to keep this apartment of mine from wallowing in garbage 24/7.

Yeah, that sounds good. A housemaid! An attractive housemaid with dark hair, a pale complexion, a good work ethic... and willing to perform special tasks beyond the regular call of duty when required.

...

Okay, so I am that perverted.

2. If you had to save a Final Fantasy heroine from a burning barn, who would you save and why?

Oliver

Now that's a tough one. I must think carefully about this.

*Think think. Think think.*

I've gotta go with Tifa Lockheart from the immortal Final Fantasy VII. Very beautiful, at least in later entries of the FFVII compiliation such as Advent Children. Very strong, yet she has a soft side to her. An extremely steadfast friend to Cloud, no matter what the circumstances were. (And boy did they go through some circumstances.)

See, I'm not that perverted. I didn't say a thing about how large her breasts are.

3. What new release for next year are you most excited for?

Oliver

Ugh... what's even coming out next year? I honestly don't know, so gimme a second for some on-the-fly research.

Well, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon seems to be coming early next year, and I'm pretty excited about that one. I do love me some Fire Emblem, lemme tell ya. I'm also pretty stoked about the upcoming console version of The Witcher, which I never played because I just don't do PC games for some reason. Dragon Age: Origins looks cool, and can we dare hope for Final Fantasy XIII next year?

Any ways, that's about it! Keep up the good work, boys!

Sam (Nyx)

Oliver

Thanks for the letter Sam, and keep curating those editorials.



In which I realize I've adopted the retarded habit of starting letter titles with "in which"


To Whoever it may be.

Oliver

Me.

I know I havn't written many letters of late, well not since Matt left, but I have recently been playing through Persona 3 and wondered what your opinion was of RPG's that are set in modern times (games like Persona or Earthbound)?

That's about it from me.

Bain_nick

Oliver

Now that's what I call short & sweet. My answer will be the same.

I find RPGs set in modern times refreshing. A nice change of pace, if you will. Persona 3, in particular, set an amazing tone with its realistic Japanese setting combined with some JRPG magic. Valkyria Chronicles accomplishes the same thing, although to a slightly lesser extent. Being a SRPG, you don't become quite as familiar with the world around you.

Thanks very much Bain_nick.

IN CLOSING

Gotta love the holidays. I've barely slept in the past three days, I haven't started my Valkyria Chronicles review yet, and I STILL haven't done any Christmas shopping. I also haven't touched a videogame console in five days, so I'm going through some nasty withdrawals. I need a vacation. An epic journey, perhaps...

A Journey to Castle Lusipurr, my friends. That's correct; myself and my underling, Ethan Pipher, will be travelling to the dwelling place of the notorious Shawn "Lusipurr" Cooper. From there we will be bringing you all sorts of holiday goodies, one of which will be a special Q&A. Perhaps you remember the December 7 edition of Q&A, in which Ethan hinted at this special and gave you all a list of details? If not, allow me to give them here once again:

1. Please clearly state that your letter/question is written for the New Year QnA Special.
2. Please indicate the person who you want to answer your letter/question. (No promises!)
3. Please do not feel restricted to ask RPG or even game related questions for this particular column. Personal questions are acceptable for this Special. Be creative.
4. Letters for this Special can be addressed to the QnA mailbox, or to the personal RPGamer addresses of Ethan or myself.
5. Please feel free to continue to write letters to the regular column as well.

Also, lookout for a forthcoming feature section that will gather every piece of media from this event together. That's all I can say for now; you may all begin squirming in anticipation.

Happy Holidays, everyone. I'll see you soon...

-Oliver



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What I can't wait for:

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