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Ask JD
 
The End: Good-bye Everyone!
 
Ask JD - Thursday | September 9 '99 - 4:30 pm EST

First order of discussion is a sub note. I have decided to let go of my duties here at RPGamer.com at least as a Q&A host. Yes for those less inclined in the persuasions of english...That means that this is my last Q&A. An explanation at the closing of today's column.

Today Final Fantasy 8 and Dreamcast finally reached the stores, if not a day or two earlier in some places. The point being, both are now available. I've never experienced such a week as a videogamer. It's as if the hands of destiny forged this day to be the pinnacle of what was and what is to come. Never has there been, in historical context at least, a release of two titanic releases of this magnitude: Dreamcast and Final Fantasy 8. Each glorious in their respect, albeit the fact that they are apples and oranges, console system and game. Inspite of that the buzzes as of late are: which will sell better, which will prevail, which is better or what should I get. You and I have experienced these questions in the last few days/weeks. But now after all the weeks of anticipation, finally every cumulative waiting and hope, for all intensive purposes is over. Was it all worth it? To me at least, an indefatigable YES.

It comes as no surprise the overwhelming majority of letters focused on Final Fantasy 8. Anything otherwise might have been a shock. Let's begin my last Q&A shall we?

 
How could I not end it all with one final YS letter

Hey JD.

For a long time I've been hearing you and others discuss the Ys series. I've listened to some of the music that I have found on the internet, and I have found it to be amazing. I have 2 questions regarding Ys:
1) Do you have any idea where I could pick up any of the Ys soundtracks?

JD:
Other than Falcom.com itself, Gamemusic.com, Gamecave.com, and The-Place.com are your best bets for Falcom/YS music.

2) If Ys is not pronounced "Whys (wise)", then is it pronounced "eyes" or "ease"?
Which one is it? It's so confusing!

Ease.

Dreamcast on the horizon... sigh, why does everyone have bad feeling for Sega? Sure, most everything they've put out sucked. But still, DC seems to be pretty great!
I played House of the Dead 2 at a local store. Yes, it is a shooter, not a role-playing game, but it is, of course, the best of the shooters. ;) It looks awesome, plays fast, and is great fun! I'm thinking that if anyone can pull off a good RPG for the DC, it'll look positively awesome! It would be great if Konami could put an epic like Suikoden into 3d and put it on the DC! I'm looking forward to the possibilities of Phantasy Star V, Shining Force IV, or Lunar 3, as well. :) Joy o' joy.

Also, JD, have you noticed how every RPG that is coming out seems to be moving into a Science Fiction setting? I for one don't like this as much, especially in the Final Fantasy series. I mean, I personally didn't like FF7 whatsoever. It was fun, but the storyline, translation, and characters just had no appeal to myself. The DC seems to continue the non-fantasy RPG trend that's been coming around... ya know, the one that FF7 was a horrible little part of ... and I'm actually afraid. At least Phantasy Star is pulled off well... One last question, JD: Are you as psyched about Suikoden II as I am? Hell, I'm looking forward to it more than FF8!!! This could be because Suikoden was much more challenging than FF7, also.

-Rob D. Dark Mog

Well said. About Suikoden 2.....not really, but I do have high expectations for it, and indeed will purchase it...Or perhaps I should get Soul Calibur, hmmm.

 
Something about TOP

Hey JD,

I figured you'd be the one to ask, great guru of great game music that you are. Do the names Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura mean anything to you? They're the ones who composed the Tales of Phantasia soundtrack, and I was wondering if they've done anything else, because a number of the tracks in the game, to be quite frank, rival some of Falcom's efforts in the field of game music (although, admittedly, the emphasis here is on 'a number' and 'some' =)).

At any rate, it's far better than the hideously bland music that has come to be attached in my mind to the name Final Fantasy in it's two latest installments, although admittedly FFVIII didn't even hold my interest up to ten hours of gameplay, so I'm at a slight disadvantage denouncing the soundtrack without having heard it all. Who knows, Uematsu may have kicked it halfway through the game, forcing Square to hire someone with some actual musical tal...*cough*. I guess I don't really need to go that way. Someone else'll manage to get the FFVIII sucks bandwagon rolling without my help.

In fact, if you want my honest advice, just pass by FFVIII and import Tales of Phantasia. You'll get a huge kick out of it, weather you liked Tales of Destiny or hated it, because no one with any sense is going to dispute the fact that ToD was a terribly inadequate sequel. Just a suggestion, since I noted the gaping void in the 'now playing' window. If anything, you'll have a much more nostalgic gaming experience...unlike ToD, which at times felt like a painfully garish 32-bit game trying desperately and unsucessfully to emulate the glory days of 16-bit, ToP feels perfectly 16-bit, even though the game is technologically far and beyond anything you could do with a 16-bit system. And maybe that's because it IS originally a SF game, albeit one remade for a more advanced platform, with an attention to detail that would make Game Arts green with envy. I could ramble on for ages about this wonderful little gem which all of five people in the USA have played (three of whom are busy trying to translate it =P), but since I hate to dissolve into a shameless ToP plug without paying an advertising fee beforehand, I'll just leave it at this.

Weather you decide to waste time wading through the giant light show that is FFVIII (admittedly a light show with substance, but not enough to offset the monotone soundtrack and having to spend half the play time waiting for spell effects to end.), or give it up part way in exasperation, the fact remains you should give it a shot one way or another. After all, flaws that are enough to sink a game for me frequently mean absolutely nothing to the next gamer, while at the same time being equally anathematic to the gamer next to him (or, not forgetting the female gaming audience, her). In any event, enjoy! But I advise everyone, keep a copy of ToP close by, just in case things go contrary =).

JD:
I have to say the name Shinji Tamura eludes me at the moment, and my time is a bit cut off today, thus I'm unable to research it. Motoi Sakuraba however, is known for his recent Shining Force music, Star Ocean 2 and of course Beyond the Beyond. Shining Force needless to say has always had incredible music, especially on CD media. His music for the Shining Force series for Saturn was no exception. Beyond's OSV is decent at best, but any Motoi fan would be wise to pick up the BTB album, which features some arrangements. Though I'm not a huge fan of Motoi myself, this album is quite good. Star Ocean 2's as well is extremely well done and comes in 3 flavors, OSV, Arranged and Perfect Collection. I prefer the OSV myself.

Hah. Most of you know I don't hold Uematsu in the high esteem most of you do. I think he is great and has his brilliant moments and indeed is one of my favorites. But he isn't as good as say Ryo Yonemitsu in my opinion. Anyway that subject is moot and has been discussed in one of my older Q&A's. Though, I think you really should give FF 8 a fair shake and at least continue to beat it (assuming you're not). Good Advice about Tales of Phantasia and one that I will keep in mind. I however will be playing Final Fantasy 8 this weekend, TOP will have to wait till an unpredetermined time..Soon...Hopefully.

 
FF 8 Impressions - 2 Ups/1 Down

Hey JD,

I finally got a copy of FF8. Despite all of the people who says it is going to suck, I tell him to go away. I am only five hours into this game, it has a plot that far surpasses anything I have played in such a long time. Graphics are down right nutty (Nutty? I need a better word, but I can't think of one). Let's just say this is a MUST SEE. I do hope that you will print this letter. FF8 so far has been very mysterious and very intriguing. (And it's only been five hours).

My only complaint about the entire game is one: You don't get money after a battle. I was so mad when I saw that there was no money after a battle. Erg, now I am stuck five hours into the game, and all I need is $200. Oh, Another thing, The sound track to this game is absolutely terrific. Sure, FF7's music was a little "Computerized" but this stuff is real.

-Chris

JD:
I'm not even 1 hour into the game as I write this...The intro is simply elegant to say the least. It seems Square has finally learned some cinematography. The music, well, it has its greatness and then there are the ok ones. One thing a majority of the music so far is computerized synth, rather than fully orchestrated. If I had one problem thus far, is that the characters and in the overworld look well, the lines look unantialiased...jaggy lines abound. Another problem the first hour doesn't have the sense of urgency that FF7 did, in the early hours. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

Hey JD,

So I picked up a yummy little copy of FF8 today... quite impressive! You know, it was worth the money (and then some)... but I did happen to notice one thing... alot of the music sounds like remixes of FF7's stuff. Oh well, no matter. I was looking for a good story and I think I found it.

-Mark

JD:
Every RPG fan must get FF 8. Period.

Can I ask you one question? How can you fall for all that marketting BS surrounded around recent square games... Face it, FF7 was the worst so far in the series and if you want me to go into details I could (and have on cherryroms) and FF8 doesn't place much higher on that tier. I bought FF8 this morning (I had time and cash) and have played about 10 hours into it. Its quite pathetic that the music in the actual game is worse then the demo. The flat backround is restricting to movement unlike Xenogears which used the polygonal graphics style in a much more useful way. The characters are pathetically shallow and even at 10 hours into the game the characters aren't even beggining to be developed. The battle system is horrible. It turns magic into almost an item. And they create a whole battle system around those huge long summons that get annoying after the first time you cast them. Compared to FF7, FF8 is a remarkable game but compared to games like FF5, Xenogears, Chrono Trigger and even FFT square is putting all its money and time into promoting their big sellers. Mass marketting the FF series certainly brings them in a huge amount of cash but they lose quality in the games... Dedlines get shortened, budgets get cut back and more time is spent on graphics developement then script and plot. I am starting to see alot of Square games headed in that direction and am upset. I wouldn't mind quite so much if they kept it only to the FF series but no they start doing it to great games like CT3 (Chrono Cross) and SD4 (Legend of Mana). Square should stop mass producing games and go back to the old way of producing games that are higher in quality and father apart. With Enix, Working designs and so many other companies producing RPGs the market's thirst is held at bay... all these crap games from square do nothing but lower the prestige they have worked so hard to get (and deserve).

-Cid

JD:
I will agree with you on one thing, the magic system has been turned into an Item system. I never liked using items to cast spells. This one hasn't turned me around. Since I'm still quite early in the game I can't comment on the shallowness of the characters or any other caveats the game has. Marketing or not, FF8 thus far has shaped up to be a very worthy purchase. Whether it will be the King of RPGs, only time will tell. I also agree with your point that many of the Square games seem to be tinged with the feeling of that it was rushed. Their games still stand up to at least the current RPG crop in the market. It is easy to scrutinize Square, I myself am guilty of that, but to everyone give Final Fantasy 8 a chance. Then decide for yourself. Don't buy the hype or conversely jump on the bandwagon. At least not until you've played or beaten it.

 
No FF 8 here

That Bernie Stolar thing was great! And it's true too. I've played all the final fantasies, but I have absolutely no plans on buying ff8. I got $400 to spend on dreamcast, 3 games for it, then some accessories. Long live sega!

-Brandon

JD:
Speaking of the Dreamcast. Sonic Adventure is truly incredible. The graphics are top notch, and the music...Incredible would be an understatement. Arcade level gaming has finally reached "the home." I hope many of the readers can swath through all the anti-sega sentiment floating around, and give the Dreamcast a fair unbiased shot. Oh and did I mention Sonic Adv. has incredible music? If so, it bares reiteration.

 
Levity into the Debate

Jamaican Dude? (JD),

I thought I would write to you in hopes of bringing levity to the entire Final Fantasy debate. I am so tired of the people mailing in and dissing on either the old or new FF games. Each of these great games have unique qualities that make them so wonderful. FF1, 2j, and 3j were all very basic NES RPGs. Final Fantasy 1 started a revolution in the RPG world, taking us away from the difficult commands of Dragon Warrior. FF2j was poorly done, but still was unique in its level system. FF3j had a good story and set the series on its path of level, menu, and battle systems.

With the advent of the SNES we saw FF2/4j, FF5j, and FF3/6j. Final Fantasy 2/4j is considered by some to be the best of the series; its beautiful SNES graphics blew me away. FF5j had an interesting job system, much like 3j, and even better visuals. FF3/6j is still one of the greatest RPGs ever, and its fun every time I play it; its visuals were the best of any game I've ever seen on the SNES.

The next generation of consoles brought three dimensional gaming to the fray. When Final Fantasy VII for the PSX was released, it brought a whole new dimension (literally) to RPGs. Beautifully rendered battles, and pre-rendered backgrounds gave the game new quality that the other games never saw. Final Fantasy VIII should raise the bar that much higher.

In the end, there should be no debate over which game is better. They were ALL exceptional games for their respective times. Whether you are sentimental to the old school, or a new school progressive, there is much to love in the Final Fantasy series. The man with the rusty spoon,

-Banandy Man

JD:
What I'm tired of is all the FF 7/8 bashing going around.

 
Parents Topic Again

Sup JD,

My mom saw me playing FF8 the other day and she actually sat down and started watching. I know, this is gonna sound REAL scary, but she actually started trying to follow the plot. She then made a comment about how it improves reading skills or some baloney. Oh well, I saw something about this Julie person so I just thought I'd tell everyone that my parents (at least my mom) are cool with it. Weird, huh?

-Ryan "I know you miss me" Amos

JD:
Ryan long time no see. How is the life of an ex-Q&A staffer? Less hectic? I'll be joining you on that side, soon. Anyway interesting story Ryan.

 
Asking JD

Jd, you da man!

1) Legeng of Mana or Chrono Cross?
2) Squall -vs- Cloud: Who would win?
3) Chop-Chop Master Onion -vs- Poppin' Fresh Pilsbury Doughboy: Who would win?
4) Pikachu vs Chu-chu: who would cause more seizures?
And the most important question of all.... Will you give me a LOG?

-Doc Rod

JD:
1. CC.
2. I like Cloud.
3. Doughboy of course. Just don't tickle its tummy.
4. Pikachu of course.
LOGs are all given away. I have the last remaining one. Perhaps one day the LOGs shall return to RPGamer Q&A.

 
Conspiracy to dumbfound Americans

Why oh WHY do Square and Sega HAVE to release their new products RIGHT smack dab in the beginning of September???? Huh?? Don't they know us young Americans start SCHOOL? I'm not allowed to get either cause of this and it's ticking me off.

-Arakin

JD:
Oh wait America as a nation is already dumbfounded.

 
The Last JD's Idiot Award

My bum is on the rail, bum is on the rail! Look at me my bum is on the rail! My bum is on the man! My bum is on the man! Its a lot of fun to put your bum on a man! My bum is on the step! Bum is on the step! Dont fall off the step YOU MIGHT HURT YOUR BUM!!! And thats not very fun if you fall and you hurt your bum. I like to put my bum on things Its fun for everyone. My bum is on the cheese! Bum is on the Cheese! If i get lucky ill get a diesease!! My bum is on My Sweedish Sweedish Sweedish sweedish. My bum is on the gum. My bum is on the gum. I can blow a bubble with my bum bum bum. My bum is on the ship the Battle ship. I hope they dont shoot the cannon in my bum. And shoot POO everywhere POO POO!!!! Cause thats not very fun when they shoot a cannon in your bum. I like to put my bum on things Its fun for everyone

-tom green

JD:
Yes, the Idiot Award is copyrighted by me. ;)
I will miss giving out these awards.

 
Got Questions? Comments? BS?

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Saturday Dude

Recent Q&A's


09-08-99

09-07-99
09-06-99
09-05-99
09-02-99

 
The Old stuff
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Oldies but goodies
 
JD Now Playing

FF 8
and
Dreamcast: Sonic Adv.

 
Quickies - I treasure you so

JD you fool, what are you thinking?
After FF8 consumes all your time and you finally beat it, you will regret having quit RPGamer and cry like a little baby! Oh well, good luck with your future plans whatever they are ;P Take Care.
-Malakhov

Yes this guy is a friend of mine who was clued into my decision. Why did I print this you ask? Because this is the guy who I can have a totally biased discussion on how great FF7/8 is. FF8 is great go rent it at least!

i fell sorry for nintendo sucks to be them

Don't feel bad for them, they have this INCREDIBLE game called Pokemon Snap. Their secret weapon against Dreamcast/FF8. Super cool, eh? Yes, this is outright sarcasm.

Where are your infamous Christina Aguilera pics? I want to see more! My psychiatrist says it's a lot healthier to look at her than at porn/hentai, so please put them back up.
-The pervert

Christina Aguierla pics sadly, have come to an end in RPGamer Q&A as of last week, since I won't be here to continue it.

I dowloaded the movie with James in the competition.....unsettling. But not the actual image. What's unsettling is that he's really enjoying himself! He even looks proud of his new endowments. Hmmmm........
-Divine Id

Wouldn't you be proud?

Hey JD I need a little help with some Game music CD's 1. Do you know where I can buy a copy of the Lunar soundtracks? I've been
-cldff7

Gamecave.com and Gamemusic.com and The-place.com

Hey! You made fun of Masaya Matsuura! Now I'm gonna hafta go ever there and kick your ass!
-TheFreak

No one can do that.

Is it wrong to now be attracted to James, after seeking that Pokemon movie?

Yes, very very very wrong.

Am I the only one getting Suikoden 2?
- Patrick

Don't worry Stolar will pick one up too. (I couldn't resist one last stolar joke)
 

Final Thoughts:

For 5 months I have been here delivering to you all, at first Weekend Q&A, then in the last 2 months your dedicated daily weekday Q&A. Today, however will mark my last day as a RPGamer Q&A columnist, at least in the foreseeable future. My reason is, I am frankly out of gas. At least to dedicate 3-4 hours minimum a day to Q&A. My departure is one that brings mixed emotions as Q&A will have a special spot in my heart. It was a blast to do and even more to interact with you readers, yes even the morons (kidding). But at this time I just can't continue. My final decision came on the weekend, as I mulled over my thoughts for the past two weeks. I decided not to really tip my hand to you readers about my decision until today as I just didn't want Q&A to be overrun with the hoopla. As far as further work here at RPGamer I am still unclear what I will do in the near term, if any. So for all intensive purposes this could be my last work here at RPGamer.

Before I bid you all a fond farewell. I'd like to give a round of thanks. First thanks to Mike Tidwell and the rest of the RPGamer staff for not only allowing me the opportunity to host Q&A, but also having enough confidence in my work many months ago to allow me to continue as a permanent columnist. I also must thank both my predecessors Drew Cosner and Michael Greenhut who were invaluable in advising me in my early venture of Q&A when I first started.

You readers have inspired me (or depressed me, kidding!) in these last months. It's really been fun. It's been especially promising to me at least, that you all, at least many of you enjoyed my brand of Q&A. One that focused more in the informative sided, sometimes vaguely editorialized mixed in with some comedic overtoned Q&A's. It certainly was and is different compared to other letter/mailbag columns out there. So it just wouldn't be quite right, to jet off into the sunset without saying thanks to all you readers for putting up with me. HAH. The support and praise the multitude of you have shown me was the sustaining gift.

As far as who will replace me, Zac and Brad will have that opportunity. Zac is next on the roster so expect the next Q&A on Saturday. So no, don't even think of applying...The positions have been filled as of now. Don't give up hope though. Remember I got this job on a whim. It was never something I had dreamed for years to attain. If I was able to get this opportunity, some of you aspiring columnists hopefully will get one too. Sometime. My email jd@rpgamer.com will remain active so you all can still cry and laugh about my departure.

I may return one day as a Q&A hoster, stranger things have happened. For now this is JD saying Peace Out for the last time. Have fun with your Final Fantasy 8/Dreamcast's boys and girls.


JD aka Jeff "Signing Out for the Last Time" Davis
The Last LOG is in my possesion!

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