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Second Time Around January 3rd, 2007

Alicia - 9:35 EST

Hey again!

I hope you had as awesome a holiday season as I did! Good friends, good parties and good times~ Although all that fun has left me with virtually no time to play much of anything D: Oh well, can't have it all.

Ok, let's get this thing going~




L E T T E R S
All Over the Place


Dear Girl,

I basically buy systems depending on where the Final Fantasy games are going to go. (I know I'm a huge disgusting fanboy, but I've learned to live with it) And considering how many of the PS3's "exclusive" titles have gone multiplatform already, am I right worry that this might happen to FF13 and Versus as well?
Alicia

That's something I'm not entirely sure about. I'd typically be confident that S-E doesn't want to take the time to develop for more than one platform, but these days theyíve been rather unpredictable. Not to mention theyíve already gotten their feet wet in cross-platform development with FFXI. So itís anyone's guess really at this point, we'll just have to see.

I think we need to dedicate some money and research to developing a cure for gamer apathy. In case you were wondering, gamer apathy is a condition in which a gamer plays until the final dungeon/boss of any given game and fails to complete the task only to never play the game again. It is a very serious condition that myself and many others suffer from. One can experience great joy for 40+ hours and then experience complete disinterest upon nearing completion. Has this ever affected you?
Alicia

This affects me more than I care to admit ^^;. I'd say this happened to me with about 75% of the RPGs I own. I've gotten a little better about it lately, but I also have a lot less time these days, so it ends up happening anyway. I'll get around to them eventually, or at least I keep telling myself that.

I've been teetering on the fence about buying a PSP. But after hearing the news that FF Tactics is being remade with new job classes and fancy schmancy cut scenes, the PSP stock has gone up for me. With the FF Tactics remake and Crisis Core coming out next year I think I just might get one. I'll save a spot on the PSP bandwagon for ya.

Otis

Alicia

Well you'll be saving that spot for a long time love. I would never pick up a system just for one or two good games, it just seems wasteful to me. I'll get by just fine with the original FFT, and I think I can live without another FF7 title, itís starting to get a little old anyway. All death threats and cries of heresy for that comment can be sent here :P



If it's Not One Thing it's Another


Heloooooo?

Alicia

Hi there! :D

Ah, there it is! RPGamer's Q&A column! Thank God, I've found it at last! How goes it, Ailise. (I hope you're Ailise. That's what they told me.) I've been sorely missing Q&A for a while now, and since I heard you'd be hosting a column this wednesday, I figured I'd take the opportunity to write in.

Well, two weeks ago I finished FFXII after spending six weeks and close to 100 hours. In short, the game blew me away. I found almost every aspect to be perfect. The sole exception, unfortunately, is the plot. I was actually very surprised, because in the many years of anticipation leading up to FFXII's release, I formulated the impression that the plot would be the main attractor, and the new style of gameplay would, at best, take a backseat. How wrong I was. Gameplay is king in FFXII, and in that respect, it actually made it feel slightly old-school. I loved the new battle system, as well as the gambit system. To me, it was a sweet release from the tyrannical reign of random encounters, load times, and monotonous menu navigating. At the same time, absolutely no strategy was lost from FFXII, and neither was any difficulty. The license grid, while not my favorite form of character developing, was certainly an enjoyable feature with a lot of options. The lack of gil in FFXII, while an annoyance to some, was welcomed by me. Now it's actually necessary to apply forethought to your spending, rather than just unload all your gil on new equipment at every new town. The world of FFXII is, without a doubt, the largest, richest, most impressive world ever designed for an RPG. Just exploring its vastness is an adventure in itself.

It's rather unfortunate that these amazing gameplay features have to be paired with what is undoubtedly the weakest story to appear in the series since FFV. Now, it certainly wasn't a total flop. FFXII's plot is certainly intriguing, and the scripting and voice acting is top-notch. The themes presented shine through clearly, and the ending is very pleasing resolution indeed. The problem, however, is simply this: there just isn't enough. There isn't enough dialogue, there isn't enough character development, there isn't enough explanation for many things. Basically it's the reverse of complaints commonly levied towards Xenosaga. I'd be going out on a limb, but I'd wager and say that FFXII has less dialogue than numbers V and VI. (And there's no doubt, it has far, far less than numbers VII-X-2.) If only the developers had just written more, the plot could have been so much better. And as a result, FFXII would have been as close to perfect as an RPG can get. Just my opinion.

Alicia

That's a little disappointing to hear. While I haven't had a chance myself to play FFXII (*waits to be shot*), I've had some high expectations for the plot since it's the first traditional FF title in so long. You're not the first person whoís told me this though, but I'm still crossing my fingers that it'll be different for me.

Oh, by the way....remembering my time on FFXII brings up something. What say I brought this girl over, and she watched me play FFXII for about an hour. After this time she said that it looked like "an intriguing game". Mind you, she enjoys video games herself to an extent. Not necessarily Final Fantasy, and certainly not to the fanatical extent that I take it, but she enjoys them. So....does "intriguing" mean I did good? Heheh, just kidding, although that actually did happen. Still, answer it if you feel like it.

Alicia

Well I canít say I've ever used the word 'intriguing' to describe anything that Iíve actually been interested in ^^;, so she may have been just throwing you a bone there. She may not share your interest in the same type of games, but just be happy sheís interested at all, most other girls probably wouldnít have the patience to put up with the habits of a gamer. :P

So.....for christmas I received FFV Advance, FFIII DS, Xenosaga Episode III, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess along with a Wii. In keeping with my religious values, I've been playing them one at a time, and am now 25 hours in the Twilight Princess. Twilight Princess is absolutely amazing, but since Zelda is my all-time favorite videogame series, I expected no less. It works just fine on the Wii, but to be honest, there is no point whatsoever to the wii-mote sword swinging. It's really rather annoying, and I'd rather be tapping a button. On the other hand, the Wii-mote is excellent for aiming one's bow-and arrows, and the newfound ease to the spin attack is also welcome. So, there's a tradeoff. I get the feeling that the next Wii zelda title, since it will be developed for Wii from the start, will feel much more, ah....streamlined, if you will.

Alicia

See, I love the sword-swinging. I'm the type who canít help but move my body with the controller sometimes, so the Wii has been my dream come true. Since this Zelda title switched platforms in the middle of its development, I'm excited to see what a fully developed Wii title might feature.

Okay, I have a question: has there been any official announcement from Square about the release date of FFVI advance, or is that still just a rumor? If the release date was really February, wouldn't it be out in Japan by now? I was beginning to form a suspicion that they might remake FFVI for the DS, similar to FFIII. But it seems that won't be the case, unfortunately. Now I'm just waiting for the inevitable announcement of a FFVII remake. It's coming, I know it is. If Square re-releases and/or remakes FFI-VI, all of which are less popular than number VII, then you know what's coming next. It'll stop with VII though. Just my prediction.

Alicia

Nope, it's not a rumor. It'll be available February 5th.

You know what I'd like to see? A few RPG's based on some select anime or manga from Japan. Hellsing, for example. How awesome would a Hellsing RPG be? Same with some of Hayao Miyazaki's films such as Princess Mononoke. Heck, if they can stick Disney characters into Square's RPG's, why can't they utilize some characters from Japan's animated features? What say you?

Alicia

Ehh...games based around stories that have already been told through another medium, be it television or movies, typically donít turn out as well as some hope. As for characters in S-E titles, while I liked KH just fine, I still tried to ignore as much of the Disney as I could. All the blatant marketing seriously detracted from the gaming experience for me. I'd prefer to see characters stay where they came from, although a quick cameo never killed anyone.

Well....that's all for tonight. By the way, I'm not sure if it's appropriate to ask, but when might Matt be returning? I miss the guy, I really do. Same with Josh....where'd he go? Not that all you random people aren't doing a good job, but I'm just wondering.

Thanks,


Oliver
Alicia

Both of them are super busy right now, but I'm pretty sure one or both will be returning within the next few weeks or so, possibly sooner. Donít worry weíll let you know when they'll be coming around again, but for now youíre stuck with us ;)/p>



Synesthesia


Hi someone whose name starts with an A, and I think it also has a couple of i's in there, an s and maybe even an r, but I might be wrong. I'm too lazy to go back to the column and check. ;-)

I think the most important thing is to choose an OST that you like. A big part of the music, for me, is the nostalgia factor. Obviously, the later the game the better the sound quality. I think all the FFs have wonderful music, by me least favorite is probably IX.

Alicia

Aww, I love that one! :P

Also, you might want to consider buying the arranged albums. There're plenty of those - There's the FF concert, it has a multitude of pieces from different games. Almost every FF has a "Piano Collections" CD which is simply pieces converted to piano form. Good if you like piano music, otherwise can sound a bit boring. FF Symphonic Suite is an orchestral arrangement album of music from FFI and II, I doubt you can easily find it. There are also the vocal albums - Pray and Love Will Grow, both have some pretty good tracks on them (I own Love Will Grow). If you like semi-metal or whatever it's called, you could try The Black Mages. It's a band Uematsu's a part of, rock arrangements of different themes (basically, lots of drums and electric guitars). Some of it is really good. Lastly, there's Project Majestic Mix which is a fan-created album. It offers more electronic sounding arrangements of themes, also some very good tracks. Most websites that sell these things have at least parts of some songs to sample, so you can choose that way whatever you like. I hope that helps.

In other news, I've decided to get a DS. It's just so wonderful. So many great things are coming out for it these days... And since I have friends who're flying to the US soon, I can get them to buy for me (anything gaming related is a lot more expensive here in Israel). I think that'll be fun.

Alicia

Israel huh? Thatís really interesting; I've always wanted to travel there. But yeah, good call on picking up the DS, I just grabbed one for myself a few weeks ago. I love quirky little games, and the DS has them by the truckload it seems thanks to its unique interface.

And, for a random question, what's your favorite RPG soundtrack? What's your least favorite (if any)?

Zohar Gilboa

Alicia

My favorite soundtrack would have to be a toss up between the Lunar series and Chrono Cross. While the music from Lunar is nothing spectacular, it's like you said, it's the nostalgic factor and that series is very near and dear to me. Chrono Cross though has a simply gorgeous sound. I love how so much of the music was so soothing and mellow, I love studying by it. Not to mention 'The Girl Who Stole the Stars' is probably one of my favorite pieces from a game.



Status Quo


Hi!

So I was thinking about why status effects tend to be very unbalanced in RPGs, and I came up with this gameplay idea, which basically combines blitzball with the 'break system' in Xenosaga III: Instead of having a % based res. to a given status effect, each status would have its own 'HP' and each status spell would have its own power attribute, and by casting a status spell, say sleep for instance, it would reduce the 'HP' of the sleep resistance attribute, and when it hit 0 the sleep status would take effect.

I think this system (which again is basically a rip-off of XSIII) could make many boss fights more interesting. Any given boss isn't immune to Death spells, it just might take a lot of castings. Also the individual stat res 'HP' could be based off of the stamina attribute, plus individual bonuses/penalties. So I guess my question is.... what do you think?

Thanks,


Dave

Alicia

Hmm, see I've never felt that status effects are unbalanced. To be honest I never really even think about them, I rarely use them in any game unless it's worth my while for some reason. About your idea though, I think that would make boss fights kind of cheap. Whereís the strategy in spamming a Death spell for however long it takes? Figuring out the best way to take a boss down with my given resources is a big part of the fun for me, and I know I'm not alone in that. Status effects to me just add to what needs to be taken into account in your plan, since some bosses have attacks that center on one or many of them. Although most of the time, they're just a pain since you waste someoneís turn getting rid of it. Either way, I've never felt they were a big enough deal to warrant some big change in how they're handled.



Retribution


Hey Alicia,

I believe that you've seen the pictures of unsold PS3s sitting on the shelves in game stores and perhaps even a number of PS3s being sold on ebay that, well, aren't being sold as well as their sellers might have hoped. What do you think about this? Do you think the "scalpers" are getting what they deserve? If so, do you extend this Sony as well, or do you feel sorry for them?

-Roku

Alicia

Hey Roku!

Well first, I'm not at all surprised. Unlike the Wii, and the 360 to an extent, a majority of those who wanted a PS3 so badly in those first few weeks were those who were just going to try to turn them into profit. Trouble is when so many go to do that, more than those who actually wanted the system, you've suddenly got a surplus of your once high demand item. Scalpers aren't going to buy from scalpers after all, and they were the ones that were driving much of the demand at the launch. Not to say some people didn't actually want them, but it's obvious why they were the minority. I don't care if the thing can do my taxes or write disertations, I'm not paying $600 for it. Especially not with such a weak launch line-up. But even if they launched with the best game ever conceived, I'm still not paying that much. I don't feel bad for Sony at all, they're not freshman in the industry anymore. They know how it works, and they should have known better than to plan a system that was going to be so costly. I know they were going for innovation, but if we look back a number of years, many other companies have attempted to create a game system coupled with some new, cutting-edge technology. But in the end the cost is too much for consumers, and the technology too new for the company to lower the price by much. And Sony knew before launch that they were going to experience losses. I really just think it's too much at once, Sony should have either waited until they could produce something like this at a lower cost, or planned it differently. If the price were to dip down to at least $400, I'd consider purchasing it, but only after some worthwhile titles came out.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Well, that another column under my belt. I think I'm getting pretty good at this :D

Not sure who'll be here for you guys next, but keep those questions coming! With any luck Josh and Matt will be back pretty soon, so we can get you guys back to a bit of normalcy.

Until next time, I hope you get your new year off to a great start!

***Alicia is ready for classes to start again

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1. Tales of the Abyss

2. Final Fantasy III

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4. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

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