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Wrap Up
 
Ask JD - August 17 '99 - 4:00 pm EST

Last week's FMV/CG topic proved at the very least a good open exchange of ideas, if not enlightening. The over all stats from the letters would put it, roughly speaking about 70% pro FMV/CG, 30% anti. What amazed me was the fact that so many didn't like CG FMVs. I won't ramble on about this and start an editorialized opening on why CG is great. I'm sure that will be addressed in the Editorials. Heck maybe I'll write my first editorial to RPGamer.

So to wrap up all the FMV/CG discussion, I'll leave with all you readers, especially those in the anti group with this humorous, perhaps thought provoking animation. Check it out. (Warning FF7 Aeris Spoiler). FF7 Animation.

Now that you saw the animation; to close, I'll ask you is this what you prefer? HAH, I thought not. The animation was both funny and hopefully will make you think. Ok it didn't make me think, but I laughed a lot.

 
Issues

JD,
there's a couple of issues i'd like to address, and if i put them all in the same mail, and keep it short, it'll probably be posted, right? anyway, here we go.
1) why are people complaining (including yourself) about the cd case? who cares? dont judge a book by its cover? also, notice that all the ff games (until ff7) had nothing but the logo on it. (i stand corrected.. ff6 has a 1/2 inch mog).

JD:
1. Because it's so fun to bash. ;) For one thing, a healthy dose of criticism is a good thing. Especially giants like Square, which in some areas seem to be becoming rather complacent. Though their boxes never were that great (except Chrono Trigger which was good), in my opinion FFA's seems to be not only sub par, but done cheaply. Perhaps one of their graphics people whipped it up in 5 minutes? Perhaps I'm being too harsh. I don't know. Am I judging the game by the cover? No. Will the crap cover impact me getting or liking the game? No.

You bring up a valid point though, but I just would like Square to make better covers. Working Designs and Falcom have done a superb job overall. If smaller companies like these can do remarkable and elegant covers, surely the Square juggernaut can do the same. In the end this is all aesthetics, but that's the way of the world, isn't it?

2) i got the impression in some of the letters that the rpg players are disappointed that ff5 and ff6 aren't complete remakes, but just ports. do you think they realize that if they were complete remakes, the game would be swamped with fmv, and would be completely 3D? not that it would bother me or anything...

I would LOVE to see a FF 7/8 quality remake for FF 1-6. Bring on the FMV!

3) what do you prefer? a remake of a great game with a story you love? or a brand new game with a story you haven't heard before? i personally would prefer taking a risk of buying something dumb than buying something i already have!

I can't really say outright via using my imagination. It all comes down to execution really, how the story all comes together. Probably both would be my answer.

4) do you column dudes purposely post all the mails with game flaming in them? i'm really getting fed up with ppl putting ff7 down. Thank you for your time.

-Leb

What do you mean...Haven't you read the majority of the letters I've printed. Especially last week? I think I can safely say most of the letters I've printed are ones that prop games. Perhaps this early morning and coffee is making me delusional? It's Bernie Stolar's fault!

 
Old vs New

JD,

I have some questions for you that do not involve being an idiot as I am normally. Check 'em out.
1) I've been wanting to know: where do you stand on the old vs. new RPG argument? <SNIP>
the way I see it is I pop in the game and play it... if I like it, I like it, if not, I don't. Now I'll admit, FF6 is kinda cooler than FF7, but FF7 was awesome, too.

JD:
I already miss your brand of idiocy. ;)
1. I like both. In the sense for the most of us, we all remember the old "Classic RPGs." The ones who have already proven to be great by time. Why not take a mediocre old game like Arcana and compare it to the new ones? Many of you don't know the game, or those who do don't like it. It was old wasn't it? So it really is hard to tell sometimes what exactly is old. Is it Old as in the sense of being a Classics, or old as in just the regular old games. If it is the later, New RPGs win hands down. If it's the former, well that's where the fuzziness starts. We tend to tie our nostalgic memories to these "old classic games," at least many of you readers have, from what I've read. Each in their own way are great.

2) Zac and various other people I know call the PSX a piece of crap (or something along those lines...), and I so disagree... would you rather PSX2 or Dolphin, Nintendo or Sony, Nintendo 64 or PSX?

I'll say this, the inside of the PSX was a piece of crap. The damn thing crapped out on me after 1 year. :D

3) What is your stance on King Dons vs. Twinkies?

Hostess!

4) I've also wanted to know what you look foward to most this fall... FF8, the Anthology, Suikoden 2, or something else? Thanks for your time, baby. I think I'm cute, but I know I'm sexy,

-Hibbs

If I had to pick two. FF8 and Grandia hands down.

 
Thousand Arms

1) Do you think it's worth it to pre-order Thousand Arms? It sounds spiffy and the extras are nice.

JD:
Yes. Granted I have not played the game yet, RED (developer) has in the last few year produced some of the most remarkable RPGs to grace the videogame world. Sadly many people especially the new RPG players, don't know who RED is. If water marks of previous RED games are met, Thousand Arms is sure to be one fantastic rpg.

2) Can we just go and grab the Thousand Arms demo CD from local stores?

I'm not exactly sure what the deal is with the demo. Each store could have different guidelines. Keep in mind Atlus only released 10,000, quite a small amount given the demand.

3) Is Wild Arms 2 going to be released in the US? if so, any date so far? Thanks,

-Terra

No announcements have been made.

 
FFA US Cover - 2 sides

This is horrid. I can't believe it. I thought that the other Final Fantasy Anthology cover was bad, but this... this is unbearable. It looks like it took five minutes with Paint Shop Pro, the UNREGISTERED version. I mean, how much did those guys at Square spend on state-of-the-art computers? Can't they take at least one hour aside on one of those behemoths to make a cover that is at least slightly interesting and has more than just Yellow in it. If it wasn't for the Playstation logo in the corner, it would look like it was printed off of the first Apple ][e color printer.

I have no artisitic skills whatsoever, except that I am fairly good at layout (I do it for my school newspaper), but provided with some CG shots and artwork from Final Fantasy V and VI I could come up with something much, much better. Seriously, this cover is almost the worst video game box ever, right underneath Mega Man I and Techmo Secret of the Stars. Well, at least Secret of the Stars had color, but that one kid in the upper-right is really freaky looking. Come on Square, you may be a great video game company, but you can't just slack off and expect to stay in the lead. You're gonna have to come up with something more interesting than this to make up for the fact that you left out Final Fantasy IV.

JD:
Maybe Square used Windows Paint? HA-HA. Perhaps Bernie Stolar snuck into Square...hmm.

Well, I figured I should write in in support of the FFA cover. I agree with whoever said it was brilliant, and would have to say that it has a nice, elegant touch that is lacking from most (read: everything except a few Square games) cover art today. It's obvious from comments about this and FF8's new cover art that the gaming public simply wants flashy graphics on their covers. If it's only got a few colors, it must be bad. I would have liked to see FF8's Japanese cover art remain the same here, because I think it just looks nice. I hate the 3 stupid characters sitting at the bottom. It makes it look unbalanced. Anyway, I hope that Square continues to make good cover art, because I certainly like theirs better than any other company's.

-Jasconius

JD:
I'll give Square the nod for simplicity. I'd like to have seen a CG shot on the cover. The CG's in the game are simply gorgeous, but that's just my opinion.

 
Old School RPGs

Hi JD :)

I hate to do this to you, but I would like to revisit the quality of the characters and plot of modern RPGs, compared to those of the old skool games. It seems to me that people are too quick to say that back in "their" day games rellied on good plots and deep characters in place of eye candy, and that today's games have little substance and lots of sparkle.

Sure, some old games like FF3/6 and Chrono Trigger were excellent games where every character was versitile and complex and the plot was a real roller coaster ride, but there were also many RPGs made at that time that had very static characters and oh so predictable gameplay. For instance, Secret of Mana is an enormously popular game, but the characters were hollow and empty, and extremely static. All Girl ever talked about was her precious Dyluck,

JD:
Dyluck..Dyluck where fore art thou?

and there really wasn't much to Hero and Sprite at all, they didn't even have much in the way of a past. The same is true even of the early Breath of Fire games and, in my opinion, FF2.(please don't flame me!) With the exception of Cecil, the characters didn't change and their pasts were only vaguely hinted at. Keep in mind that I'm referring to the US version and have not played the Japanese version.

Just like the older games, the next generation of games has the same mix of good and bad games. Xenogears and FF7 I feel are prime examples of this. They both featured characters who all had detailed pasts and personalities so that each move they made and every word they said was fitting and made sense. Yes, even FF7 was this way, as much as it pains me to admit it :) And both games had good plots with some interesting plot twists (especially Xenogears) Even in the case of FF7, this is far more than can be said of such highly praised games as FF2, Lufia 2, and Secret of Mana, to name a few.

-Titania

Sorry for that interruption, I couldn't help it. I know! Let's blame Bernie Stolar.
Well said points.

 
FF 7

Dear JDamnnicetoreadthislongletter,

*sigh* I thought I'd never get into this, but I seem to have come up with what I think is a reasonable answer to The BIG FFVII debate. *deep breath*

Okay, well, FFVII has a very different feel to the story in general. Technological in many aspects, different music has replaced all our old favorites(the battle and fanfare, though the fanfare in the beginning may be the same), the deadly CGI debate, and so on, and so on. Well, FFVI, as you remember, had a great many technological advancements itself. Trains, a "sinking" castle done by mechanics rather than magic, etc. Still, as we all know, keeping the dragons and whatnot. FFVII is somewhat of a new frontier. First experience with CGI, first try at polygon graphics(I still laugh when I see the hands in polygon mode). Above all, it's rather an experimentation, a delving into the realm of a time when such technological accomplishments are possible. Remember what a big craze Final Fantasy was? There was a game with little plot, 'okay' gameplay and translation that's laughable at absolute best. Everyone loved it because it was fun. Then came the big sequels where every game got better and more popular. Still with pixellated graphics, just enhanced. Better plot, better gameplay, better character development ensued. The crowds grew larger.

FFVII seemed to be "revolutionary", rather, changing the genre as we know it. It gathered crowds, like Final Fantasy. The problem is, we have the people who originally played the Final Fantasy pixellated games. Thus we have a seperation: some become traditionalists, saying that the old games were better and Final Fantasy VII really, well, sucks. It is my assumption that this is not unlike a possible Dragon Warrior loyalist development when Final Fantasy came out. Anything new will automatically develop a love of the old. Naturally, anything such a drastic change as FF and FFVII will turn out to be rather clunky(in some ways) in comparison to our favorite oldies(which FF now is a part of), and that will cause another area for debate as to which is the better.

Now we have FFVII, which is clunky, by comparison, to what FFVIII seems to offer. The cycle repeats itself, I believe. The next revolutionary Final Fantasy(God willing the series lasts that long), will bring about people in the FFVII crowd crying out, "no way, we were into Final Fantasy way before you were! This one really sucks!", perhaps even coming up with legitimate bases of argument for the clunky new game, as our generation has for FFVII. Well, that's just my opinion/justification for FFVII, I could be wrong.

-Folken, 12-18 and proud of it.

JD:
Excellent interjection, for the most part I agree with almost if not everything.

 
Game Music Shopping

Sup JD,

I really wouldn't give props to gamemusic.com. I'm convinced that half of their stock is SM which lately is sounding like crap. I bought a CD under the SM label a few weeks back and 8/10 tracks had very noticable skips in them. Talk about a waste of money. GameCave always seemed pretty good to me, but they also sent me an SM of Final Fantasy Pray, which of course had skips. I recommend Tokyo Pop shop (http://www.tokyopop.com). Just because their service is superior to any other company's. They may not have the best prices, but it pleases you to know that every order has a hand written note made out to you individually expressing thanks for your order. Also, everything I've ever ordered from them was top quality and never SM. Other than them, many people favor Backtrip Records (http://www.heatwave-net.com/BTR/) due to their large list of items available. They seem to have fairly high prices, but if the VGMA circle approves of them, what the hey.

-Josh

JD:
SM doesn't really bother me that much, sometimes it's the only ones printed/avialable. As far as the other sites, you mentioned, yes they are excellent, if not a bit high priced.

 
JD's Idiot of the Day Award

Dear JD,

Out of all the Playstation RPGs, I can safely say my favorites were Beyond the Beyond and SaGa Frontier! Does this make me crazy? Because I sure feel crazy! Uwahahahahahahahahah!!

-RedXIII "Why does everyone throw a stick and tell me to fetch it? Why????"

JD:
I think you aren't only crazy, but you have dismally bad taste. Ok maybe those games aren't that bad..I just felt like ragging on someone today.

 
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Quickies

(Excerpt)
ACK!! OMYGOD!!! AAAAAAAAAAAGHHH!!!! ...THE COVER IS AWFUL!!! NOOOOO! TWO GREAT GAMES, GREAT STORYLINES, GREAT MUSIC..... HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE COVER!!!!
-DaMoogleMan

Calm down, you Moogle freak..er Man.

When is the release date for Thousand Arms?
-howie

Atlus has screwed up. Mid September...Now they will face FF 8 and Suikoden 2....Can you say bad marketing? Perhaps Bernie Stolar was behind it?

if you will give me minute of fame by posting my little crappy letter from yesterday, i'll give you a dollar.
-Spikey-Headed Guy

How about a minute of shame..er fame here. Send me 10 bucks and we'll call it even.

**FF7 Spoiler**
yes pantomime was more"interesting"then FMV but would aeris death look so good as a sprite falling on another and the sprite falling forward

Two Words. (FF7 spoiler) Click this. (If you already haven't)

JD, Quick question. Can you confirm/deny the existence of Cid in FFVIII? Haven't heard too much about him recently. Kinda be a shame if he wasn't there.
-Christian W.

Yes.

Why does everybody hate Stolar? I would like to add this.
The world is my oyster and you are my eternal pearl (as ghaleon would say)
-cloverhill

He looks scary. Yeah that's it.
 

You'll no doubt notice my brand of sarcasm today, with all the Bernie Stolar cynicisms. If this wasn't a parabolic argument I don't know what is. Why is it so easy to blame Bernie Stolar? If you carefully think about it, did he really say he hated RPGs? Or is this whole thing being overblown? He clearly made bad business decisions and in that process ticked off Working Designs. At the time however the rpg market was not ripe. It took Sony/Square's marketing prowess to make the RPG a mainstream occurrence and more importantly a big money staple. Stolar didn't stick with the rpg platform because he felt it wouldn't make a lot of money. Wasn't he partly right? Think about it. There really weren't that many high caliber Saturn RPGs until the end. And they probably wouldn't have made money. In those times even Square was hit hard and had to restructure, even though they clearly outsold any RPG in the US market, with FF 4/6 and Chrono Trigger. Yet even they struggled. Even the mighty Enix closed shop in North America. At least Stolar changed his tune somewhat. At the twilight of the Saturn, Shining Force 3 and Panzer Dragoon Saga were translated, albeit in limited quantities.

As one Sega of America worker put it he revitalized the Dreamcast US Launch like probably no one could. With the Dreamcast looking to be the strongest US Console launch in history, I simply can't help but wonder if the hatred of him is justified. He made mistakes, like all CEO's do, but he also did a whole lot for Sega and US gamers. We will get to see that on September 9. The Dreamcast line up at launch, with games like Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, NFL 2000, and at least 10-15 more on launch, makes me look at Sega, perhaps with rose colored glasses. Compare it to previous system launches and you'll see. N64 with Mario 64 and Pilotwings, PSX with Toshinden as the only notable one. The difference is quite striking. So at least this once I tip my hat to you Mr. Stolar, perhaps we'll see you again, perhaps we won't.


Jeff "Stolar spy" Davis
"We're immune to your magic, thats why. But I'd rather you turn nall into a cookie"

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