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Paradigm Shift
 
Ask JD - August 12 '99- 5:00 pm EST

Two stories surfaced late yesterday of great proportion. Once again I shall return the opening of the Letters Column to a News related theme.
First Bernie Stolar, the head honcho of Sega has conspicuously stepped down and will be replaced. Details are sketchy at best as I write this, so I'm not sure if he stepped down of his own accord or was fired. The first impression I and I know many of you had, was the promise of even more RPG announcements for the Dreamcast in the near future. While I think Sega of America has done much to open up this market, as of late. There still are harsh memories or portrayals being made of Mr. Stolar. I personally never cared, maybe it was because I was on the PSX bandwagon at the twilight of the Saturn's life span. The events do show some encouraging signs that the Sega platform will return to one its roots (RPGs), and the recent announcements about the 4 RPGs make it doubly so. When and how that will be done in North America remains to be fully seen. It certainly will be interesting to watch how this story develops in the next couple of days. The one big question remaining to be answered is, will Working Designs return to the Sega platform? I can already see Langrisser Millenium being translated.....

The other big story was supposed confirmation of PSX2 launch and price. January 23 2000 for a price of $391 in Japan. The price was a bit high, even though I expected it in this ballpark...I wasn't sure Sony's Marketing team could approve of selling this system at such a high price.

The next couple of days will surely be interesting conversation. As for today's Column/Q&A I know it's rather huge, there were just so many letters in my box today, and more valid ones at that. Enjoy.

 
FF8 Release date

I'm sorry to be one of those STUPID fans......but when IS the official release date for Final Fantasy 8? I already reserved my copy @ EB, and they said it would be the 12th, then I see the 7th and the 8th at other places!! What the fudge is going on here, man! Is this some sort of conspiracy!? It has to be! Armageddon has finally arrived!!!!!!

-Andrew

JD:
That's ok you're not alone in being a stupid fan, there are quite many here. (Kidding!)
As I've stated numerous times, Square's Press release clearly states September 7th as the lauch date. Clear cut? So it would seem at first glance...Then suddenly they release this poster with the date 9.9.99. If memory serves me, Gamelord.com lists it for 9/7/99 and EBworld.com for 9/8/99. I guess we just have to wait and see till the date approaches, for more solid info. I frankly don't care a day or two difference is no big deal.

 
Different q's

hey, i live in salt lake & that tornado sucked. it didnt do all that much damage though, oh goody! anyways....

1. why do companies keep remaking the same damn games over & over & over? such as StreetFighter Alpha Omega VIII or whatever & MegaMan XXII. i swear, there are 20 of each of those...
2. is the PSX2 going to have DVD, & if so, will it play video DVDs?
3. alot of games are getting ready to come out, such as Thousand Arms, ect. Besides FF8 (sigh), which would you recommend on buying?
4. based on the quality of the graphix in FF8, i dont think the plot will be that good. i mean, how can it be decent when they spent so much time on the damn characters?
5. you should put a pic up of Matthew Lillard from SLCpunk! up. mmmm......
6. i writing w/out capitals becuz i am lazy.

-Acrid

JD:
The video on the news showed the twister to look rather damaging. Just be glad it didn't uproot all your games, eh?
1. Money. The sad part is, people actually buy all those zillions of Street Fighter versions. Remember the days of SF 2, SF 2 Turbo, SF 2 Champion, blah blah blah....?
2. It will be DVD, but it can't play DVD movies without an extra add on.
3. Final Fantasy 8 and Grandia are on top of the list. Thousand Arms second and third probably Suikoden 2 or FFA.
4. From what I've heard FF8 is incredible. We'll see.
5. No Comment.
6. You lazy writer you.

 
No Butt kissing? Aww

screw the kiss butt intro...etc. Lemme just get down to it...

1.Damn, man, will the Playstation2 be able to play the Playstation1 games?
2. What is it compared to the Dreamcast? (Will it be more powerful?)
3. Will they ever sell final fantasy VIII soundtracks in the US? How come they never sell anime or game soundtracks here, dammit.
4. Why did they take out FF4j/2 US from the anthology,dammit. They need to put it back. I REALLY want the PSX FF4j/FF2 US.
5. After I beat Brave Fencer, i was able to save it when the squaresoft logo came up at the end. Someone said you'd find a secret, dammit. Well how and whats da secret man??
6. You ever heard of the classic anime Macross?? I think they need to have a RPG where you can be Rick, Lisa, Max, Miriya, or Minmei. Wasn't the N64 supposed to have a Robotech game? Dammit.
7 .Dude man, i forgot, dammit. Well you just have a nice day.

JD:
1. Yes.
2. Specs wise PSX 2 seems more powerful. Game wise, it's a toss up. The first generation PSX games other than Koei's sim game look horrendous. Theres a PSX2 "Dreamcast Ecco" wanna be, the graphics are puke ugly. Both systems look to be great in the end, my money is on both camps.
3. I'm not sure, as I have not heard any plans to that effect. You can buy them at game music sites though, like gamemusic.com to name a few.
4. You'll hear a different story depending who you talk to. My guess is they didn't deem it worthy, since the critics pounced on the FF 4 remake. To my knowledge Square has not officially commented on their reasoning.
5. From what I've been told, you need to save all the people and find the all minchu or whatever they are called. As well as have all the dolls and special dolls. I just gave up after the specials dolls I needed never showed up.
6. Yes I've seen a couple of them long time ago.

 
Batman speaks

Dear Cookie Monster, Hi. I'm Batman and you're not, so neener neener. But that's not why I clicked on the link with your email address on it. So I'd better get to the part of the letter that makes sense, before you close this window. I have a few questions.

1) Lunar 2 is supposed to come out around December. How much do you think WD will delay it?
2) Do you think Chrono Cross will be as good as Chrono Trigger? I think it'll be great if it actually uses the characters from the original. And more importantly, do you think Chrono Cross will solve the eternal question of what the hell happened to Schala after the Ocean Palace? I say, it damn well better.
3) What is two plus two? I am looking forward to answers to these questions, especially number three, which I've been trying to figure out for years now. Thank you for reading this letter.

-Spleener

JD:
Where's batgirl? :) Uh anyway.
1. Highly unlikely. Victor Ireland has more or less said March 2000, barring any delays. HAHAAA. Imagine that, no delays.
2. Anything I say would be speculation at this point. Which is something I almost never do. It does look interesting from what I've gathered. Wait and see is my approach on this one.
3. Hmm, math makes my head hurt. Would that be 2?

 
Two Viewpoints on Dreamcast - PSX2

Hey,

I'm just going to be pretty quick on this topic. Is anybody else SICK to death of seeing "Dreamcast" this and "Dreamcast" that? (Noticed your line "Dreamcast is coming" and I cringed). Now we get Sega pulling a prank by crashing an invitation-only Sony golf outing for 3rd party developers. That pretty much just put it over the top for me. I mean, for a company that has produced a steady steam of trash in America since the fall of the Genesis, they've got some stones pulling stunts like this.

Even further, I think the Dreamcast itself is overrated beyond belief. The controller feels worse then an N64 controller, and that's saying something! It only has 6 buttons (Dual Shock has 10, and N64 has 9). Furthermore, the idea of packaging a modem, IMO, spells the end of console gaming as we know it. Furthermore, with Sega's plans to be heavily online based, gamers are going to be forced to shell out an additional 10-15 bucks for the ability to take full advantage of their games! The notion of paying to play a game I already own is just repulsive.

And...above all else, the system dosen't have the support of Squaresoft, EA Sports, or Enix. No Dragon Quest, no Final Fantasy, and no Madden football...I don't see any difference in this situation then the Saturn launch years ago: Sega comes to market first, gets crushed later by more successful system.

-Matt

JD:
I'm not. I really haven't heard an extravagant amount of hype either surrounding the system launch. Other than it looks to be the biggest Console sale on day 1 in US history.
As far as the Sega prank, I found it hilarious that Sega would pull that stunt. They've never fitted into the corporate mold Nintendo and Sony portray. And it did get them headline news around the game sites. If that isn't good marketing, I don't know what is. Remember the old marketing slogan, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

At first glance I wasn't such a fan of the Dreamcast controller either, after playing it at a local Software Etc. I've changed my mind. It's neat to say the least. Many of the people I've talked to as well rave about it. Surely the masses can't be wrong? As far as online gaming and the console gaming merging, are you really surprised? Sega tried to do it back in 1990 with Telegenesis. Console online gaming is a technology that has been long in the wings. And Sega's online plans really aren't that solidified, game wise. Only 2-3 games will be true online games. Many others will have online abilitiy, so for example in NFL 2000 you can download new stats/team rosters etc..

As far as enix and square, while it's damaging, it isn't detrimental. There are many incredible RPGs for the Dreamcast on the way. Frankly the idea of a game system being crap, without square or enix is preposterous. While I love Square and Enix, there are other incredible RPGs out there.

As far as EA sports, EA has been branded as a declining juggernaut for a number of years, especially with their Football and Soccer games. Play Sega's NFL 2000 or their arcade sports games and kiss EA Sports' with their horrid controls good bye. I know many who have.

Dear JD,

Okay, now before I get too much into this letter, I just wanna say that I own a Playstation and I have gotten a ton of enjoyment out of it. The Playstation2 lineup...it's pathetic. At least at this moment. Four release titles and seven remakes of Playstation1 games. That is pretty sad. You'd think the mighty Sony could churn out something a little better than THAT. Of course, that is the Japanese release and the American release will probably be a little better (and it sure as hell better be cheaper because I am NOT shelling out almost $400 for a new system. I don't care if it could carry out a NASA rocket launch, I still wouldn't waste my money on a debut price like that). And are they gonna come up with a better name than "Playstation2," because that is would be the lamest name you could give a new system. So what do you think of the current information of the PSX2's release?

JD:
I've been saving up for years for the DC and PSX2, so there is no big issue of choosing sides here. PSX2's specs are impressive and I can't wait to see what Square does with it. Other than that though, Sega has always dominated the Arcade/Adv market, which is why I'm so impressed with the Dreamcast. Not to mention the notable RPGs for it.

Now about the PSX2's price. I'm sure many of you have already read the the more finite details, the price will be close to $400 in japan. That is simply too high for many and how will it affect sales remains to be seen. I'd be interested to hear your reactions to the PSX2 supposed price point. Opinions/Comments?

 
RPG Evolution

Okay, if you get millions of letters like this each day, I won't be hurt if you don't post this. But if you _don't_ get millions of letters like this each day, and you do post it, would you mind taking this first neurotic paragraph off?

Now, I've seen both sides of the debate, including your recent response to someone's letter about the four Square Idiots. And I agree, and have for a while. It's not a matter of high fantasy or not, it's a matter of evolution. If you get a better game system to do stuff on, and you don't do everything you can with it, you're a moron.

I was playing FF4/2, whatever you want to call it, and I realized something. It wasn't as serious as FF6/3, or anywhere near as dark as FF7. I think that's because on the earlier game systems, dark was hard and cute was not. And if you don't agree with me that those first two games were cute, I think you should replay it and watch the pantomime sequences. Pantomimes, by the way, are what I miss most from the older games.

Anyways, what had to be said with words and bad translations could suddenly be said with actions and music. And actions and music span cultures, so what better way to get the single most intense scene in FF7 (Those who played it know what it is.) than with music and actions, so there's nothing akward.
Anyways, the whole point of my letter is that times change. If you don't want to play the new ones, don't buy them, and don't gripe about it. And you can delete this last paragraph if you want.

-Wolfie :)

JD:
Yep. (Trying on the hat of brevity)

 
FF7-FMV - CGI Topic Rages on

As a Final Fantasy fan since Final Fantasy 2, I've been offended by your so called sarcastic joke. I'm one of them that complains that FF7 is not as good as it's better predecessors. The reason is not just because it doesn't have magic and castles. The game is broader, but much much shallower to the level that there is no depth at all. Actually, this is the first Final Fantasy game that I didn't even bother to finish; I simply ran out of reasons to play more in the middle of second disk, and never looked back. Character design was very uninteresting. The storyline was so obvious that I could see what's going to happen from the very beginning. There was no interesting/hidden characters or storyline that made me happy and sad in earlier final fantasy games. It was a simply boring long game with good graphics. Because of that, I haven't even pre-ordered FF8, yet. I'm still considering if I need to give Square another chance or not. I bought my PS to play FF7, but I won't buy PS2 to play FF whatever any more.

-Yoonjoon Lee
Game Creator

JD:
I'm surprised only one was offended by that. Though I can assure you it has happened, I've seen it with my own eyes. Of course my parody was in a more simplistic scheme than the real thing. Anyway...Yes you bring up a good point about the broadness and shallowness of FF7. I still believe it was the best FF story at least in terms of maturity and in the end, was one of the more fun RPGs that I've played.

We kinda seem to be on the topic of FMV (I don't care if we are or not :), and I'm in a nifty digital animation camp (I may be 15, but wouldn't you go to camp just for state of the art SGI computers?) so I'd like to say some things. Learning how long it takes to render and stuff really makes me think "Holy Sh*t! FF8's FMV's are F***ing amazing!" First of all, although it is easy to make a polygon (with Maya 2.0, you basically just press a button), it would take a LONG time to make the graphics as realitic as FF8's FMV's. Also notice some of them has moving hair in them? ****** ***** *****! that would take a long time. Also with the amount of polygons, it would take a long time to render. On top of that (I'm babling, but it's the only way I can get it out), the standard for that kinda stuff is 30 fps. Each frame is about 1.2 - 1.7 megs (So 2 secs would be about 70 MB). That's alot of computers working, and alot of space needed before they compress it.

OK, that was the part on how cool it is. Now here is my dream. I want one of the FF8 FMV files it's regular un-rendered format. With it, you can move the camera all around, and look at everything in the scene at your leasuire. Also, you could create a whole new scene with different camera angles, different movements (All of that is pretty easy, you set key places where the object has to be, and the computer automatically moves the object. Example, frame one, the arm is on the left side of the body, frame 60, it's on the right side. in between, the computer figures out where the arm would move). The problem is they probably used Maya 1.0 or something else, since Maya 2.0 is pretty new (couple of months). So anyway, sorry for rambling, I'll proof read this (something I never do) so it's at least coherent.

-Benbola

JD:
You graphic geek! Digital Animation camp? ;)
Interesting to hear a 3D animator's viewpoint.

 
"Newbie" RPG Gamers Targetted?

JD,

I'm tired of everyone saying that the age group 12-18 doesn't have imagination and we're all graphic whores. That we only like the new games with "sparkly" things. The first RPG I played was FF4 and then FF1. I've played almost every RPG out there (with the exception of Sega, I was biased back then) and I like the older ones better. I also play AD&D with my friends all the time. They all like the older games too. We all grew up on the older games. I'm sure there are a few people my age who are the complete opposite of me and only like the games with wicked graphics. But I wish people wouldn't say all of the people my age are like that. Some of us do actually have brains and enjoy good stories and don't get by on just graphics. Thanks for your time, sorry for it being so long.

-Shadowburn

JD:
I guess I should be upset too, since I'm in this age category? Though like many things I don't care, and am hard to offend.
Wait our age group has brains? That's a concept I'd like to see explored, given some the letters I've received. Heeh!

While I mostly agree with Norg's reference to the 13-18 generation as a no imagination generation (most people of my generation are brainless neanderthals like the ones you referred to in the ff7/ba(sh)ndwagon letter), you must keep in mind that there are still some of us who actually read books and (from time to time) play paper & pen rpg's.I have had the joy of making all that paper crap for AD&D. I bet my imagination is jut as vivid (or moreso) as his. Also I have absolutely no problem with cg movies in games, they enhance the game, not take away from it. Does it really take away that much from the gameplay? What's 1hr. out of 30? About the emotions in rpg's, Every time I hear the cat ending music (to faraway times) from Chrono Trigger I start to cry.

-Beloved Slacker

JD:
You read books? For shame.

 
Dear Abby

Dear Abby,

I'm having an emotional problem in my life right now. I found out that my mother was into bestiality and I was the product. :~(. Some beastly Esper thing is my father. I was kidnapped at a early age by some leader from the Empire and was given to his number one officer. That pervert raised me with a slave crown through all of my developing years. I can't even remember them... I can only imagine what a pervert like him would do with a supple young body like mine :~(. I finally got away from those horrible men though and some young stud is trying to make me join his little rebellion against that same Empire.. Abby, I really think that I should do this, but I'm afraid of what will happen if that horndog gets his hands on me again. Any advice would be appreciated.

-The Freak From Esperville

JD:
Find Mog and Umaro. They can help you.

 
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Quickies

abcdefghijklmnopqrst... oh, wait, this isn't a letters column. Never mind.
-The Sesquipedalist

Another comedian here.

That letter you posted from Barry Dancer, well he said everything I wanted to say, so expect less E-mail from me from now on or something.
-Zack S.

Think of something new to write about. Now git.

I am Bob Dole vote for my wife! Also take that Viagra it helps.

LOL. Maybe I should give an option for Idiot of the day Winners to receive cookies or Viagra. That might skyrocket the global population though.

What the hell does Livin Lavida Loca mean? I always wondered that. By the way, Suikoden 2 is going to totally KILL FF8 and the Dreamcast. Don't you think?
-Patrick

Living The Crazy Life. And no. FF8 sales will eclipse all RPGs this year, I'm guessing by at least a huge number of hundreds of thousands.
 

Interesting day that's for sure. Time always seems to run out on me at this point. And Yes I know I've said the word Interesting way too many times today. Ain't that Interesting? Write in and Please keep the letters shorter than what I've been getting lately. I'm getting tons of 3-8 huge paragraph letters. Cya all tomorrow. Peace Out.


JD aka Jeff "The Beach bum" Davis
The Golden Bear Rules.

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