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Cortney Stone - August 24 '03- 18:30 Central Standard Time

Alethea: I'm sorry this column is so late, but I got thirty-nine letters today. Since I have a policy of printing and answering them all, I found myself facing a task of epic proportions. If I didn't address everything you wrote, I apologize, but I needed to give everyone at least some attention. As the letters kept coming in, I found it difficult to give everyone a thorough response. Also, if you don't see your letter here, it will probably be in next week's column. Brace yourself...this column is HUGE.

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Letter 1: Online Jerks, PnP

Heya. I was a bit stunned after Google left, but I think I'm ready to send letters to Q&A again. *hands shake as they touch keyboard*

About the whole jerks-in-online-games question, think of it this way. If you're a non-jerk, you most likely hang out and play games with non-jerks, so you're not used to playing games with jerks. If you're a jerk, then few people will want to play games with you, so you have to go online to find people to play with. That ties into the whole anonymity thing you mentioned. Basically, it's not that there are so many jerks in online games, it's just that non-jerks are startled by the number of jerks they meet, even if that number isn't very big.

Alethea:
Good point. Also, you're more likely to remember one random jerk than ten halfway decent people.

Have you ever heard of a PnP RPG called FATAL? Most people agree that that thing has got to be the low point of human society and culture, but I shudder to think what a devout feminist like you would feel of it (not that I'm a chauvinist or anything). I suppose it's the age-old conflict between "Everyone has a right to his or her beliefs," and "Who gives these people the right to live!?"

BL Alien

Alethea:
Hmm...I don't know a lot about PnP RPGs, but FATAL does seem vaguely familiar. Judging by your words, it sounds like something I wouldn't like. I tried searching the internet for a little information before making a judgment about it, but to no avail. Oh well. I'll probably get a letter or two about it next weekend.

 
Letter 2: A Fellow Staffer Sends His Love

Greetings Cortney,

To they Norweigan person, yes we tend to get odd names. I am myself, Norweigan and look at my name, Orie. No one can spell this thing right. It's always Orrie or Orry or Ory. Crazy stuff... And don't let me get started on the audio problems. Everytime I try to tell someone my name I have to say it like three times because they're like, Cory? Rory? Orlie? And weird crap like that. Jeez...

Alethea:
Orie, dear, maybe you should just hang a sign around your neck. That might help. ^_^

To tie all this in, the spelling differences in Siegfried might be attributed to the fact that Square spelled it different than the original Scandinavian story...or the fact that both Z and S are the same in the origin language. Yes, this goes perfectly with the above Norweigan comments. With Siegfried on one side of my heritage, Beowulf on another, and Hiawatha on yet another, its no wonder I play so many RPGs, it's in the BLOOD! Look you can find a picture of the original Siegfried here.

Alethea:
Hey, that's a cool picture. Thanks for the information, by the way. I figured it was just some crazy transliteration thing.

I'm sorry to say I know a girl who has been discriminated against game-wise. This happened in another town, not mine, but I was there. I was casually looking about the shelves when the guy at the cash register actually REFUSED to sell the game to her. He just laughed at her and told her to go away. I decided to leave as well, there was another shop in this mall not that far away, and on a lighter note I witnessed an act of very good service there, although I won't get into that.

Alethea:
Well, that little hot-shot clerk is lucky that he wasn't dealing with me. I wouldn't have taken that crap, and I probably would have complained to the manager, who might have been interested in knowing that someone passed up a good sale.

As for your female lead character woes...have you tried the original Phantasy Star? That has a female lead, and was also one of the very first console RPGs. You can also try the original Final Fantasy and stick the White Mage as the map character...I think you can do that without actually having her in the top slot...I think... Now some might say that White Mage is, in fact, a man. It's all lies, I tell you, lies! Let them not convince you. Manual be damned. Everyone knows the orignal manual was a mess anyway.

Alethea:
I guess I need to drag out that Phantasy Star ROM and play it. Googleshng's already harped at me about playing it. And I won't touch the White Mage gender-bending issue with a ten-foot pole.

You know a good analogy for gender roles that the video game community might understand is Final Fantasy Tactics. Sure the genders are different, but you can still make them whatever you want, it just takes a little more work sometimes, but that work can pay off in special jobs....you know what I'm talking about here, right? It doesn't matter, I know.

Alethea:
Hey, are you implying that women are weaker? Oh, wait...the game designers made them that way, and besides, I can't argue with biology. I know what you're talking about anyway. ^_^

Well now I gotta ask you a question. Have you ever become totally obsessed with something over the course of one day? I have, and you'll laugh when you find out what it is. Felix the Cat. Yeah, a bit weird, but in the course of one day I've managed to do this thing. Problem is I hope its not just a sudden and passing impulse because I've already invested 20 bucks in it :( I think I've lost my mind.

-Orie "EVIL Saturn" House

P.S. Are you ready to go to war? Pacifist or no, you need to do this thing! There should be no death...just a little maiming. You can sit in the car, I guess, but you gotta come! Twister's twisted soul needs to be uh....twisted more! Plus, if anyone can write in with the full lyrics to the Felix the Cat song, I'll give 'em something. I wonder how many o_Os I'm going to get for this letter?

Alethea:
o_O

There's one.

 
Letter 3: Some Parents Don't Understand

Hello it's me again. Whether or not you realize it I right you like everyday about something or other.(I have no life)Well that's kinda of what my question is about today you see both my parents where what you would call cool in high school. My dad was star of the football team big jock type and my mom was cheerleader,volleyball, and slept with every guy around(sorry mom 8-<). But me on the other hand am a leader of the science and computer programming clubs at my school. I spend almost all my time playing online rpg's everquest, diablo, and others. My dad tries to act proud but I can tell he's a little disapointed and wishes I where more like him. Know my mom she where's her feelings on her sleeve. She's always telling me to get a girlfriend, go to partys, she actually incouraged me to go drink with some friends!!! But recently it got to it's peak when I come home to a destroyed PS2 litterly busted on a wall and my mom told me to get a life. Which up until then I was very content with my life. Well luckily I had put my gamecube away so I still sneak in some zelda the wind waker know and again. Well after that event I often find myself going out and saying i'm going to party's or hanging out with friends but really I just go sit at mcdonalds or some place with my labtop and play games(Alethea thinks what a freak ha ha ha). Well this really isn't any type of question more of just needing to get my feelings out to a real person and a pretty a girl a step up from my C++ programmed artificial intelligence game. But if you have any suggestions i'm open for some. I really can't put up with this for three more years until I graduate.

Alethea:
Your letter made me sad. At least your father seems halfway decent. It's your mother that bothers me. I don't know her personally, but from what you've said, it sounds like she may not have a lot of respect for herself. She pretty much asked you to break the law, which is completely stupid and abusive. I think it's absolutely shameful that she's not being supportive of you, and it disgusts me that she has no respect for your personal property. If I had a son who was into computer programming and video games, I would be so proud of him I'd explode. I guess it's only natural to want a child like yourself (as in the case of your father). In life, it's often the quiet "nerds" who go out and make something of themselves, and in the real world, nobody cares about whether someone was the star of the football team or the class bicycle ("everyone's had a ride!"). I don't think you're a freak at all. I hope you can hold out for a few more years. My advice: embrace who you are as an individual. You aren't your father. You are yourself. Try to not let them get to you. Keeping hiding your GameCube and games, and spend as much time away from them as possible.

 
Letter 4: You Bring Out the Fanboy in Me

A character I admire. While there has been many that have captured my attention, I would have to bring up the memory of my first encounter with one whom I idolized. I remember playing through Chrono Trigger and the storyline as it went along Glenn's past. It brought a pretty in depth (at the time) evil-doer, who had the cold calculating, ruthless killer, Magus. I remember as it explained his back-story, then you find out about his motives and history, and then it slapped me silly when he joins the party. Ah yes, I can still feel a bit of excitement from that. Although a bit mean on the outside, he was looking out over others, well in his own way. My new idols are now Sesshomaru and Naraku. They are so stylish and handsome and smart. *sigh* Now as far as wanting to imitate what they do in life, hmm... I would have to say no. I know you asked for examples in this, but you brought out the fanboy in me.

Chris

Alethea:
Yes, Magus' devotion to his sister Schala is rather admirable. I don't think I'd put him on my list of admirable characters, but he would certainly make my list of fascinating ones.

 
Letter 5: Honestly, How Hard is it to Spell Jennifer?

HI,

I have to agree with mary that it is good to see a female gamer at all. Her town seems similar like mine, except I know a couple of regular female gamers but no RPG players.

You mentioned you don't really like games such as Silent Hill. I like them but can only play them in VERY small intervals. I don't know how many times I have started to play Fatal Frame only to stop after only ten minutes before it has completely freaked me out! Yes I am a fraidy cat.

As for names, you wold think that a name such as Jennifer would not be that hard to spellm but I have gotten cards and letters with everything from Jenifer to Jenniiffer. I'm not joking.

Anyways keep up the good work
D_Angel

Alethea:
It's seems like more and more female gamers are coming out of the woodwork. I don't think this many wrote in for the other columnists. Anyway, I'm a bit of a fraidy cat as well. I don't like scary games or scary movies (but I do like the occasional suspense drama). It's not that I'm actually scared of them, because I know they aren't real, but they nevertheless make it a little more difficult to sleep at night. Yes, the possibilities for misspelled names seem to be endless. When I get something like a card or a letter with my name misspelled on it, sometimes I almost feel like it wasn't addressed to me...like it was supposed to go to someone else.

 
Letter 6: Yuna and Lunar

Hey Cortney,

Admirable character? Let's see... I think Yuna was a very admirable character. Anyone who can withstand so much pain and suffering and keep a smile on her face, and still kick arse in battle with her Aeons is a plus to me. Can you imagine going on a gruelingly hard quest in order to kill yourself to prevent the suffering of others? She is awesome, even if I didn't particularly like FFX. Also, Gustave from Saga Frontier 2 I found admirable. He is someone who was cast out and called worthless, and worked hard to earn respect, even without his ability to use magic. Another good example of someone who started out with nothing and became something great.

Alethea:
I also liked Yuna. She isn't very strong physically, but her emotional stamina is incredible. Also, her willingness to sacrifice herself for the people of Spira is quite amazing. How many of us would be willing to die for everyone else in the world, especially while knowing that the relief from Sin would only be temporary?

On another note, you say your favorite games are those of the Lunar series? Lucky me, I just got Silver Star Story COMPLETE a week ago, and I have played roughly 7 hours into it, and it is a blast. I have never had so much fun! It is easily my favorite RPG thus far, and I can't wait to play Lunar 2 (and I will). I'm curious... what about the game attracted you; what aspect of the game do you like the most? I wonder if I could get a Nall plushie. *__* I also want to say that I respect your stand for equal rights for sexes, and I am with you all the way. Regardless of sex we are all human beings! Sexism is ignorance in my opinion. :)

~Brendan Mesick

Alethea:
I liked the offbeat humor of the Lunar series the best, followed by the likable characters. I want a Nall plushie too...heck, I wouldn't mind having the REAL Nall as a pet! ^_^

 
Letter 7: Parasite Eve Isn't Scary

Dear miss Cortney,
I know just how you feel when it comes to names being misspelled. My name is easy enough to spell, yet people still seem to get it wrong. My name is Will, yet so many people spell it "Wil." I won't even get started on my last name. No one can spell it right nor can they pronounce it.

Alethea:
How in the world can people even think that the name "Will" should be spelled "Wil"? That's just nuts...no, it's carelessness. People should really pay attention to things like the spelling of someone's name.

Anyway, I noticed you said that Parasite Eve seemed too scary. Don't worry, it is nowhere near the scariness factor of Silent Hill. Though I must say I didn't find the Silent Hill games all that scary. They merely screwed with your head. The Parasite Eve games, especially the first one, take it from a more scientific point of view. I personally thought they had great stories. Aya Brea is also a very strong female lead. One of the traits I admire about her is that, despite the fact that she isn't what could be considered "normal," because of her mitochondria powers, she hasn't become cynical to the world. She remains a genuinely caring person. She is definitely one of my favorite videogame heroines.

Alethea:
Yep, I need to play Parasite Eve now.

I just have one quick question, and then I'll let you get on your way. Do you know if there are any plans to release the Klonoa rpg in America? (Yes, I'm well aware that I'm a 17 year old guy who likes Klonoa.) While rpgs are definitely my favorite genre, I absolutely love platformers. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is by far my favorite, but the Klonoa games have a certain charm to them that simply cannot be denied. And since the Klonoa series is one of my favorite platformer series, I would love to see the rpg make it over to our shores. I apologize if I am asking the wrong person, for I do not intend to waste your time. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. It is greatly appreciated.

-Will

P.S. I would have done the HTML myself, but sadly, I don't know how.

Alethea:
I haven't heard anything about Klonoa Heroes making its way to North America yet. Rest assured, if it's headed our way, we'll let you know (unless the news team decides to slack off or something).

As for HTML, it's not that difficult to learn. I taught myself most of it.

 
Letter 8: Meow!

Hello!! How are you doing? I was wondering.. if you could be either an inside cat or a wild cat, which would you choose? I'd choose being wild and free over human shelter (but having to be inside all the time).

Alethea:
While total freedom and independence sounds appealing, I'm such a homebody that I'd prefer to be a house cat. I like to be safe and sound, knowing where my next meal will come from.

Also, I have copies of Valkrie Profile and Star Ocean 2, one of which I figure I'd probably give to you if you really want :-) How exactly would I go about doing this, since I'm inexperienced with mailing people stuff and I'm too lazy to go look it up, and which one would you want? Also, would it cost anything?

Rebbie

Alethea:
*blinks in disbelief* Is this a free thing? Or are there some strings attached, like giving you money or my first born child?

Mailing stuff is actually pretty easy. You can go right to your local post office and find everything you need to ship the game. Actual shipping costs are fairly reasonable, and I highly recommend getting it insured as well (which is only a few more dollars). That way, if it's lost or stolen, the postal service will cover the value of the game. Also, you can get delivery confirmation, which means that the post office will give you a ticket with a tracking number. You can then check with the postal service's website, enter the tracking number, and see if the package has made it to its destination. Isn't technology great? Support your local post office! ^_^ My mom is a postal clerk (no "going postal" jokes, please).

 
Letter 9: More Character Admiration

Hi Cortney,

Hmmm... I've never really thought about those who I admire in RPGs. Let's see, I would have to say I admire more RPG characters than people... That's kinda sad now that I think about it... Anyway, on to the list!

1) chaos from Xenosaga- He keeps up such a wonderful aura of power and mysteriousness that I can only wish to be able to achieve!
2) Magus from CT- Magus easily ranks simply because of his absolute determination to protect Schala. Anyone willing to summon a giant leech of evil and plan to fight it by himself for revenge must have incredible will! Not to mention he has a keen fashion sense and a pretty sickle!
3) If Magus ranks, there is no doubt that Lucca ranks! Her ability to repair a robot from 1400 years in the future is simply amazing. Smarts beats brawn anyday. Afterall, who else could create a weapon as powerful as Wondershot without being a genius?
4) Virginia Maxwell from Wild Arms 3- Virginia has the excellent qualities of both determination and a dream to accomplish. By making mistakes and suceeding she learns her true potential while having a lot of fun along the way! That is truly the way I want to lead my life.

Now I am sure there are others that I've forgotten(ie the whole cast of Lufia 2) to include, but oh well... By the way, what is your favorite male RPG character/one you admire? Also, just to let you know, Jessica ranks as one of the most memorable RPG characters I've ever known. That and her relationship with Kyle is just hilarious!

Alethea:
You picked some great characters to admire. I don't really have a favorite male RPG character, since there are so many good ones out there. One of my favorite guys would be Vivi from FFIX. He's so cute and sweet, yet powerful and determined. Hiro and Ronfar from Lunar 2 were also quite likable, as was Glenn from Chrono Trigger. I also liked the cast of Lufia 2. Maxim, for example, was committed to his wife and child, and like any great hero, he went out and did what was right. I find that to be admirable.

Anyway, I managed to snag a copy of both Thousand Arms and Tales of Destiny 2 today. Which would you recomend playing first? I seem to be leaning toward ToD2 at the moment. By the way, was it originally called Tales of Phantasia or something of the sort? I was a bit confused about that because I've never paid much attention to the news stories I read about the series...

Alethea:
Hmm...I'd go with Tales of Destiny 2, also known as Tales of Eternia in Japanese.

On a final note, I would just like to complement you on the fact that your Q&A sessions seem to draw upon a more diverse group of people than those of the past. I think I'm really going to miss this if you don't recieve a regular Q&A day.

Vrumugun
"Oh yeah, don't forget Squall because no one can ever have enough 'whatever's and '...'s."

Alethea:
Aww...you'd miss me? ^_^

 
Letter 10: Maybe Rinoa is Just Misunderstood

Cortney,
There are several characters whose qualities I admire for one reason or another, though I wouldn't go so far as to want to emulate them. My choices might make me seem completely crazy, but I do have my reasons.

First, and the one that will most likely certify me as insane to many people, is Rinoa. To me, she came across as a strong character, if not physically, then emotionally. She'd already been through a lot before she met the other characters, but managed to stay upbeat and optimistic in the face of setbacks. In my opinion, it is much harder to be an optimist than it is to be a pessimist, since raising your hopes can leave you open to disappointment and heartbreak. Anyone who can maintain that mindset without becoming bitter is worthy of praise in my book, no matter how "air-headed" they seem doing so.

A few other things that made Rinoa a truly likeable and admirable character to me were her assertiveness and resolve (stubbornness?). Once she set her mind on something, she would follow it through to the end, and there wasn't much anyone else could do about it (admittedly, this did get her into more than her fair share of scrapes, but how else was she going to fulfill her requirements as an RPG heroine?). Also commendable was her willingness to stand up for the downtrodden. Although this point can be argued based on each individual's interpretation of the story, it seemed to me that she very well could have hidden away in her father's mansion and not cared what became of the rest of the world. Rather, she objected to what her father's government was doing, and set out to try to set things right, even though it came at the expense of her relationship with her father, her affluent lifestyle, and her safety.

Alethea:
Quite a few people think Rinoa is annoying and childish. I'm not one of them, and I agree with you.

This has gotten kind of long already, so I'll just mention one other character: Hamlet, from Illusion of Gaia (yes, I know, another strange one). But that little pig pulled off one of the noblest acts in the game, and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Aside from the question of how one piglet could satisfy about ten starving natives, the devotion of Hamlet to his owner and her friends was beautiful. Though it is a behavior I'd never dream of emulating, it is admirable, nonetheless. It was the first scene in a video game that made me cry, though seeing his spirit atop the Tower of Babel at the end was a small comfort.

Speaking of Illusion of Gaia, it's nice to see another fan out there. I was completely obsessed with that game for a while, and it still holds a very special place in my heart.
Franci

Alethea:
Aww...Hamlet the pig! How could I forget about him? Yes, that scene in the starving village brought tears to my eyes. I actually had to stop the game for a minute to recover. I remember playing Illusion of Gaia constantly when I was in high school, alternating it with Secret of Evermore, Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

 
Letter 11: Terra, Yuna, and Jean: All Different, All Admired

Alethea-

My favorite character of all time is Terra. I admire her for her strength. At first people might see her as naive and weak, but really I saw her as confused and unsure. I have always admired people who started out with a bad environment, but rose against. To me, this is exactly what Terra does. She was abused, but in the end, she came out strong. She risked her life for the world, the children she loved, and her friends.

I also admire Yuna from FF10 and Jean from Lunar 2. Lassarina wrote that Yuna was one of those characters that depended on the male lead. At first I agreed with her. I found Yuna to be a little annoying. When I played the game again, I changed my mind. What made me admire her was watching the beginning scenes all over again and knowing that she knew she would die at the end of her pilgramige. The way she just kept on going took a lot of courage. In other ways she may seem weak, but I think it would be hard for me to do what Yuna was going to do.

Well, that's about it. I also want to add that I myself have worried that women are starting to be dominate over men instead of trying to be equal. I could elaborate, but that would make one long personal e-mail. =)

Cera aka Rachel

Alethea:
You named some very respectable women. Physical strength is nice, but strength of heart is often more important. The three characters you named all demonstrated incredible inner strength in trying times.

 
Letter 12: Regarding Kanji

Hey Alethea,

Here's the answer Luke's question about how hard does the Japanese get in a game like Final Fantasy X-2? They tend to use enough Kanji, when you begin learning Japanese they tend to start you off with Katakana and Hiragana. This will get you by in fighting games, and other games where not much reading is needed, but an RPG will make a heavier use of Kanji. For those of you who aren't familiar with Kanji, there are about 5000 of these characters (they are the chinese borrowed characters), each of them meaning a single word. So if you have a good basis of Kanji then by all means, attempt to play it (it'll help you a lot), but if not, you'll just be looking it up ever character in a book and you'll clock one too many hours :)

Genocrakhore

Alethea:
There you have it. ^_^

 
Letter 13: Not Unlucky

Alethea,
So I saw your question about characters that your audience admires, and I thought about it. Honestly, I couldn't think of anything for a while. Then it came to me! Cyan from FFVI! Though it haunted him to have his entire kingdom and family destroyed by the empire, he kept going. Also, he had loyalty like none other, but wasn't blind about it (i.e. his being alright (does that make sense) with Celes after a while).

And here's a question for ya. Do you ever stop playing an RPG just near the end? It happens to with nearly every RPG I play. For instance, right now I have a saved game of FFX fighting Sin on the Airship. And I just stopped. Also, I got to the time-warped thingamabob in FFVIII and stopped. Am I insane, or does this happen to other people too? Just wondering, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was the earlier.
-Kaed

Alethea:
Hmm...my problem isn't really stopping near the end. It's stopping about partway through. I stopped partway through Xenogears (when you first meet Billy) and Arc the Lad 3 (sometime near the first, I think). It happens because another game catches my interest, and I'm not motivated enough to finish the first game. No, you're not insane. Sometimes people just lose their motivation.

 
Letter 14: Money And Gamer Girls Prove to be Elusive

Hello Cortney.

I myself have name problems as well, but of course, I would never give them up for any other name, as they are part of who I am. Anyhow. What do you think of MMORPGs? I don't really like them to much, ( Because I don't have enough money for those damn monthly payments. ) But if you like them, would you ever buy FFXI? It looks tempting, even with the money problem.

Alethea:
Yeah, if I had the cash, I'd probably get into an MMORPG...either EverCrack or FFXI, or maybe both.

Oh yeah. For all those guys who can't seem to find a female gamer, your not alone.


Thanks for your time.
- Thor
"My blood hurts..."

Alethea:
Female gamers...there just aren't enough of us.

 
Letter 15: Yahoo Gets Something Right For Once

Hi Cortney! (the Yahoo spell check didn't say your name was wrong! Woop!)

First off, I'd just like to say that I really enjoy reading the column with you as the host. Phil's appearances are interesting as well. My friend cracked up at his comparison of finding a remote to finding a girl. =)

Alethea:
Yeah, that's my sweetie. ^_^

The main reason I decided to write in was to tell you what I think of Parasite Eve, even though I've never beaten it and it's been so long since I've last played. Anyways, I can guarantee that it's not Silent Hill scary, that's one creepy game! It's got a creepy feel to it, but I don't think you'd actually be scared of it. So give it a try (you can yell at me if I'm wrong).

Alethea:
Note to self: get ahold of a copy of Parasite Eve.

On a separate note, reading the Q&A always makes me think of all the games I haven't played yet. Some games that were mentioned I've considered buying in the past but didn't because of money constraints and not knowing too much about the game. Now, I'd like to buy them and give it a try if not for time and money (once again) constraints and the difficulty to find them. I haven't seen games like Valkyrie Profile, Azure Dreams, Thousand Arms, or the Tales games in EB, GameStop, or any of the game stores around here since they came out! Even if I do find them, time is still an issue like it is for most people. I still have some unfinished games as well like Lufia: Ruins of Lore and I'm currently working on Xenosaga (just bought it a week ago). Have you played Xenosaga?? The main character is female...though I'd guess that all the characters get an equal share in the spotlight (from what I've played at least).

Alethea:
Sometimes I wish game companies would just release a few more copies of rare games. I haven't played Xenosaga, but I know that I should pick it up and give it a try.

So, following my 'lil rant, what are some games that you wish you have so that it would eventually be played??

-Dave - ChimpsGoMoo...yes, yes they do

Alethea:
I'd really like to get my hands on Suikoden 2 (and I should be able to play it soon, if the Big Dragon will get off his tail and send it to me ^_^ ). Lately, I've realized that I need Valkyrie Profile and Parasite Eve. I'd also like to add Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the .hack series, Wild Arms 3, and Dark Cloud 2 to my collection.

 
Letter 16: In Which the AlbinoMonkeyKing Almost Invokes My Wrath

Hiya Cortney, you're afraid of the Silent Hill games? Why don't you just leave those type of games to us big strong men!.........Don't hit me, just a joke ^_^

Alethea:
*slowly lowers fist* Yeah...ha ha ha! ^_^

Anyway, I decided to write in after hearing about the relationship discussion, and there ARE female gamers out there, they might be kind of hard to find though. I actually met a girl gamer completely by accident online, I misspelled my friends name on my buddy list and her name came up. My point is we hit it off really well. My advice is don't be afraid of internet relationships, you don't have to just look for cute girls, don't look at all. talk. If you do that then I think they are actually deeper than normal relationships. I started liking this girl because of her personality, then lucky me she turned out to be beautiful. I also know a guy who met his wife on Phantasy Star online, and she lives in Japan, he moved there not that long ago to be with her. You could also start a gaming club at school, and if you do; try and get over that shyness by talking about games or something you are comfortable with.

Alethea:
Wow. Great stories, great advice! Also, I've noticed that some of the nicest people aren't always the best looking. Most of them are just average, every day people with great personalities.

With that said, my favorite game character is Yuri from Shadow Hearts. Not only was he hilarious, he was a bad guy. He didn't care about anyone in the beginning, he was only doing what he was because he had to, but by the end he actually cared about Alice and became a hero. You can snip that first part if you have no room for it, I was just commenting. Have a nice day. ^_^

-AlbinoMonkeyKing

Alethea:
I only snip out bigotry and stupid old-school/new-school rants. What you said was really funny. ^_^

 
Letter 17: Attack of the Amazons From the Planet Estrogen

Greetings, Cortney

Thought I'd comment on a few letters from your last column before anything else.

1) "My first name's really boring, but my last name is exactly the same as a well know singer, just spelled differently. No one ever spells it right, and it's always accompanied by questions about how I'm related (very distantly) and whether I can get autographs (which I can't)."

Just wondering, but your last name wouldn't be Osburn, would it? I'm asking because I have a friend at school with the last name of Osburn, and she has the same problem with a certain famous celebrity that goes by the name of Ozzy...

2) "Also, I took a gender issues class during my degree (crossed with sociology), and I noticed that a lot of feminists in the class seemed to be focused more on women becoming dominant over men, rather than women becoming equal to men. Do you find this, in you classes? It almost looks like we'll get to a point where people are sexist against men, and well have...masculinists, I guess. Something like that. It's one thing to strive for equality, but it makes me wonder if we're really just tiping (tipping?) the scale the other way. Of course, I know it would still be years and years away, as we're still not quite at the equality stage yet."

I saw a movie like that on SciFi one night. I don't remember the name of it ("The Last Man on Earth", or something like that), but it was more or less about a future earth where the female sex had gained equal rights with man, gained more rights than man, mastered the art of cloning, and pretty much had taken over the planet and the dying male race was considered the violent scum of the earth. I found that kinda...disturbing. I'm mean, feminists are just trying to get equal rights, and aren't secretly plotting to kill of the male sex. I am right in saying that, right? Right?

Alethea:
No, we're not out to get you, gentlemen. Personally, I don't like the idea of a planet populated by women only. That would suck because women who live in proximity tend to have their monthly cycles at the same time. It's some weird phenomenon where their bodies will gradually make adjustments to become synchronized (not a lot of scientific research there that I know of, but I have seen in happen, having lived in a girls' dorm...bear with me). That means that everyone will have PMS at the same time. Thousands of women...all having PMS at once. *shudders*

And now that my little mindless ranting is out of the way, on to the main point. I guess the video game character I'd most admire would be Link (or all the Links in the Legend of Zelda history, since the Link in the next installment is usually a different Link from the one before it...if that makes sense). Mostly because, unlike many other RPG characters, when he is fated with saving the world, he doesn't moan over it. And neither does he boast about being the only one who could save it, or that he did save the world once you beat one of the Zelda games. Well, he doesn't say anything, really, but still. No matter how daunting the task at hand seems, Link accepts it and immediately goes about completing it. No whining or trying to get out of it. A very admirable trait, especially for one so young.

Lord of Chaos

"The lions sing and the hills take flight.
The moon by day, and the sun by night.
Blind woman, deaf man, jackdaw fool.
Let the Lord of Chaos rule." -chant from a children's game heard in Great Arvalon the Fourth Age

(Book Six of the Wheel of Time series)

PS: If you haven't read the Wheel of Time series, you probably should check it out. It's a really good series set in the Medieval ages, and women play a very important role in it (especially in the later books).

Alethea:
I like Link too. I was thinking earlier about the same traits you mentioned - the willingness to do what must be done, the balance of humility and acceptance to do the job. Never read the Wheel of Time...it sounds interesting though. ^_^

 
Letter 18: Mr Man Speaks His Mind

Hey I was just cruisin on the net yo!
And I found this cool thing on Gamestop
XENOSAGA EPS II 8/2/2004!!!

Now clearly this is an attempt from namco to Give us more of what we want!!! THis is pretty good and all but frankly I would like more of Namco's other RPGs to be brought over the pond. I mean we miss out on all of their Strat RPGS and they constantly deprive us of a "real" and "official" translation of Tales of Phantasia. I mean the game has been released three times and it looks like this most recent release will be not brought out over here either. Now I am a strong believer in the ability that money will help bring these games over here. If we can show namco monetarily that we do love there RPGS. If any RPG does not sell very well and it gets sent back to the Supplier any sequels that follow will not be brought out over here. The best way to get these games over here we need to buy them!!!! That is how we can get more games from Atlus, Namco, Working Designs, Nintendo, Sony, and Square. We all need to buy as many RPGS from them as possible.

That is the reason why we do not have Venus & Braves, Tales of Destiny 2 (JP), Persona 2 innocent sin, any fire emblem game, many square releses (but they are getting better), and a few other sony RPGS (and again they are getting better at releaseing them)

Any ways

ON to college
Mr man

Alethea:
Yep. Money talks. Buy games, get more games.

 
Letter 19: Why Nall Rules

Well, this is an RPG site, but since I've been watching Trigun lately, I just have to mention that Vash is one of the coolest characters around... and there might be a Japanese game about the anime.

As for actual RPG characters, I really liked Nall, especially once he hit Lunar 2. He spent his time taking care of orphans, which is just awesome, and his special ability is what enabled me to beat the final boss with ease. There's nothing like a damage prevention shield every round.

I wish I could think of a few more characters, but my mind is muddled by far too much time with MMORPGs. Also, I took two semesters of ancient Greek to satisfy my language requirement, but already knew what Alethea meant thanks to the alethiometer mentioned in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Good series, that. But I wonder how many people don't read it properly and assume you go by Athena?

- Mecherath

Alethea:
An alethiometer, you say? Sounds interesting. ^_^ *imagines implementing it as a torture device for politicians* Actually, a few people have gotten in wrong before, and someone on the boards once thought my name was Althena. But that's OK...I'm a pretty understanding person.

 
Letter 20: Live, Learn, and Laugh

Hey Cortney,
This is Marshall, a longtime reader of any RPGamer Q&A column. I've got to say, honestly, I love all the hosts, yourself included. You all do a fantastic job with the letters, and I very often find myself laughing out loud, learning something, or both... somtimes even simultaneously.

Alethea:
That's what I try to do with this column: make you laugh a little and learn a little.

Anyway, the whole admirable character bit seemed like my cue to finally send a letter in, so hopefully this'll get published. Hope you enjoy my selections. With so many characters to choose from (I've played a lot of RPGs, big surprise there), it's hard to pinpoint just a few really admirable ones. After sending this letter, I will undoubtedly come up with more, but as of now, these are my top picks. Please be warned that this list will include SPOILERS about the games from which the characters come. First of all, I've definitely got to admire Galuf in Final Fantasy V the most of all. In all of Final Fantasy history, Galuf was the only hero resilient enough to continue fighting after being brought down to 0 HP. He was so filled with zeal, so adamant to save his friends and granddaughter, that he sacrificed everything and exerted himself well beyond his own faculties in order to push X-Death into retreat... even if only for a little while. It was long enough. Not only did he make the ultimate sacrifice, but he continued to fight with righteous fury, even when hanging onto life by a thread. Now that's devotion. Secondly, I've also found Cyan in Final Fantasy VI pretty admirable. His entire family and kingdom were killed by Kefka, but rather than giving up or blindly vowing revenge, he was able to calmly put his feelings in order and use his loss as a motivation to eventually save the world. It takes great discipline and dedication to so quickly recover from a devastating loss and think clearly in a time of mourning. Finally, I'll just quickly mention a few more, so I don't bore you for much longer. For similar reasons, I have found a great deal of respect for Vivi from Final Fantasy IX and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Both characters faced imminent death, but learned to live in the moment and adventured on anyway. Once Vivi learned how short his life would be, he didn't stop to feel sorry for himself. Instead, he wished only to contemplate how best to spend his life. Similarly, Yuna agreed to take on a quest that would end in certain death so that many lives could be spared by the sacrifice of one. I only hope that if I were faced with a similar situation, I could so boldly go towards my own death. Anyway, hope that's some interesting food for thought. There are certainly others, although I think I've taken up enough space with those whom I've already mentioned.

Alethea:
Well put. ^_^ If Vivi was a real person, I'd probably adopt him as my son.

By the way, I really like your views on feminism. I myself am male, although I consider myself an egalitarian. I'm all for men and women being equal; however, I find it very difficult to respect people of either gender who believe that their gender should be dominant. Can you recommend a way to deal with those "radical feminists?" I happen to know one quite well and wish I could make her see things in a more egalitarian light. Thanks in advance for your response and your help, and hopefully publishing the letter. Hey, if this one gets published, I'll be sure to write many, many more.
Oh, and shameless plug: visit http://www.smashgames.com for... um... the sake of seeing the site I work at! Yeah, that's it...
- Marshall of the Brethren

Alethea:
Egalitarianism should be the goal of all groups, whether they strive to break down the barriers between races, genders, classes, and creeds. As for your radical feminist friend, you might try asking her to think of how she feels when she is discriminated against because of her gender, then ask her if she seriously wants to inflict that on someone else, and whether that kind of animosity will really change the situation. I'm sure that if we spent a little time in someone else's shoes, especially if that person was of another race or gender, our attitudes would change. But we can't expect to attain equality by inflicting inequality. It would only cause more division, and it would defeat the purpose of achieving fairness. Bringing all men down below women would not resolve any so-called "debts", either. Not all men mistreat women, and punishing the "good" along with the "bad" only creates further "debts."

 
Letter 21: Feminine Role Models...And There's a Guy Mentioned Too

Well the question over most admired question left me mostly unable to think of anything, due to the fact that most of the characters in RPGs have been rather, well... shallow. When I look at the male characters, they almost always stick to rather stereotypical and mundane roles, especially the men. While it can be argued that the men have more roles they fit in RPGs, I will agree that the females have been given even more slight by the fact that they almost always fit into the weak, passive role.

The men aren't much better, considering that their roles never give them the room to have as many emotions, at least not the main hero type characters. Anger, loss, leadership (is that an emotion?), friendship, and on occassion the very reluctantly in love. (Of course Lunar negates this, but that's the same game that Jessica came from, y'kno?)

So, if I had to pick someone, I guess it would have to be a split between Darc from Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits -- I won't say much more for fear of spoilers here; however, the fact that he's capable of being tortured his whole life, and raised brutally as an outcast says something for his inner strenghth, especially when he ultimately is able to get over his initial prejudices to work to save those who tried for so long to destroy him.

For women, however, I have a couple admiral characters in my mind. Phacia for one from the Lunar series, she's not as weak as one would expect a "priestess" to be stereotypically. I mean, this woman keeps her faith and a great deal of strength in her just in order to follow a Goddess who banished her people, and she even helps a group of people who come to defeat someone she's serving. My other choice would have to be Feena from Grandia. I see her as a rather strong character, while the story didn't do much to flesh out most of the characters, it was probably just me that put that in her. Still, I thought the fact that she was the central heroine, a strong fighter, and far less annoying than Justin made her easily very admirable. I guess I always just had a soft spot for this character so I found her role quite admirable as a female with a great deal of character and physical strength.

Alethea:
You make some good points about Phacia and her unshakeable faith. I also liked Feena because of her independence...I mean, she lives alone, travels alone, and enjoys her freedom, but she's not so stuck up as to refuse companionship. I haven't played Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, but I'd like to play it some day, since I enjoyed the Arc the Lad Collection.

On a side note, I would love to see a female who could be strong and heroic that didn't have to abandon everything that is seen as feminine. That is one of those things I've never understood in some people's minds about a liberated woman. Liberated means you don't HAVE to fit into roles, but these roles aren't bad inherently (people abusing and expecting others to fit into them is). That could be said for the male characters as well, I mean its one thing to be strong, but you can also have some kind of personality and be actually emotional without being to some degree mentally unstable. I guess I just would like to see characters that aren't bound by the sterotypes so much as that kind of defeats the idea of actually building a character from the story. Pre-conceived notions are just ways for lazy story-writers to skip out on doing any real elaboration of the caracters.

P.S. I too found Jessica to be admirable, but since you already covered that character I tried to find a couple of my own.

Alethea:
Your definition of "liberated" is right on target. People should do what they want to do in life, and not be confined to what society traditionally dictates as proper gender roles. You also make a good point about the usage of stereotypes. Stereotypes are what people reach for when they are trying to quickly understand something without having to truly think about it.

 
Letter 22: Only ONE RPG?

Hey Cortney!

First off, I just want to say that I am really enjoying your weekend stint as the Q&A host, especially hearing about your college experience. I just graduated from high school, and will be attending the University of Michigan this fall(Go Blue). One thing I am concerned about now is that my budget for fun things like...ohhh...games, and maybe even more games is going to be severly cut back. Thus, my question for you is if there is only one RPG that you could buy this holiday season, what would it be? The problem with me is that I like too many games, so I can't possibly get them all on a poor college kids budget, so extra advice is always helpful.

Alethea:
Only one RPG? Hmm...It's hard for me to choose, considering that I don't know what your personal tastes are or what system(s) you own. I'd probably say either FFX-2 or Disgaea for the PS2, Otogi for the Xbox, Lionheart for the PC, and FFTA for the GBA.

Also, since reading through your columns, I got to thinking which RPG characters I really really liked, and the conclusion I came to (you're going to hate this) is none other than FF6's own Edgar! I don't know, he always reminded me of James Bond in some weird way, although it is quite easy to see how he comes off as such a cad. I figure, just so long as I don't aspire to be a womanizer in real life, I should be fine :) Keep up the good work!

-JJ

Alethea:
Actually, I like Edgar. Yeah, he's a flirt, but he also strikes me as the kind of guy who'd settle right down if he met the right girl. Also, there's a huge difference between liking women a lot, and objectifying them. He doesn't seem to view any of the women he meets as little mindless sex objects.

 
Letter 23: Alis Kicks Serious Butt

Yo.

Hmmm, okay, your topic thingy. Characters I admire. That's a toughie. While there's plenty of characters I like, I don't think I've ever really looked up to any. See, when I'm reading a book or playing a game, I tend to think of the characters as being detached from myself. While they are entertaining, what they do and say doesn't really affect me. They are completely autonomous. Plus, none of the characters in RPG's, particularly the leads, are anything like me. I would cause so much more death and destruction. Heh.

As for games with female leads, what about Xenosaga? True, you can switch your on-screen character, but Monolith themselves have said that Shion is the lead. Another game is Koudelka, an obscure PSOne game by SNK. The game's definitely got a Resident Evil feel to it(which confuses my brain and makes me try to control Koudelka like a RE game which leads to me getting confused/lost a lot), but the main character, who is also named Koudelka, is definitely a strong lead. She's very much like Jessica from Lunar. She looks like the typical magic-user type, but if you aren't careful, she'll tear your face off. Of course, I have to mention the grand-mammy of all RPG female leads, Alis from Phantasy Star. Not only was she the lead, but she was also the strongest character in the game. Not even the "legendary" warrior, Odin, dealt out as much pain as she did. More like half, really. I mean, seriously, he was such a wuss.

Alethea:
My list of must-have games continues to grow every day. ^_^

Now, I have to mention this whole "Cortney takes over Q&A" thing-a-ma-bob. Personally, I don't think it would be fair to boot the Old Duffer, or even Other Andrew. After all, judging from my reading durn near the entire Q&A archive, this seems to be quite the coveted job. Besides, you already do news and stuff, right? So, here's my idea. We give you Friday. Or Thursday, or Wednesday, or something like that. Anyways, one or two days a week where we RPGameReaders can get a female perspective on things. This way, you get to do some Q&A without interfering too much with your regular work, and those other guys still get to do it too. I even thought of a clever name for your column, one that doesn't rip off The Mighty Thor. "Don't Ask Me". I mean, isn't that great? A Q&A column entitled "Don't Ask Me". It's priceless. Well, provided you don't confuse everyone and, consequently,end up not getting any letters. That would make your column a lot easier, though.

Alethea:
I don't know about the "Don't Ask Me" part (as funny as it sounds, I hesitate to use reverse psychology on my readers) but your other ideas sound really good. ^_^

Lastly, who do you think is the sexiest woman that ever worked for RPGamer? I think it's Thor. Now, no offense to you meant. You are a very attractive woman, but did you see her hair? It was so long and flowing. Her body, so slender and smooth. Her head, so large and round. Ah, what a beauty. Truly, I miss her.

Your friend and mine,
Neifan

I wonder if that last paragraph was a mistake..?

Alethea:
o_O

 
Letter 24: It's a Good Thing That Simon From American Idol Isn't Hosting Q & A

Women are my equal (gets hit by friend) -_-'

First a nice Parody!

~~~

Hey C-C-Cortney, you got your mama's style(that would be scary...)
But you're yesterday's child to me(if you were born yesterday hehe....)
So jaded(evil....)
You think that's where it's at(okay i got this part...)
But is that where it's supposed to be(damn now i lose them! stupid Aerosmith....)
You're gettin' it all over me and serrated(ahh...ew...)

My my baby blue(do you like blue?)
Yeah I been thinkin' about you(all the time....call me heh...)
My my baby blue(not my....poo)
Yeah you're so jaded(yes EVIL!)
And I'm the one that jaded you(yea thats right ur jaded by reading this MUHAHAHAH!!!!)

Hey C-C-Cortney, you got your mama's style(If you do help me god o.O)
But you're yesterday's child to me(if you were born 24 hours ago....)
So jaded(EvIl!!!!)
You think that's where it's at(you think?)
But is that where it's supposed to be(i dunno is it?*she thinks?*)
You're gettin' it all over me and serrated(keep your mentality to yourself....)

Hey C-C-Cortney(can you wave back?)
In all it's misery(i have misrey...it sucks)
It will always be what I love and hated(yes i love you....)
And maybe take a ride to the other side(yes i also hate you)
We're thinkin' of(again with the thinking!)
We'll slip into the velvet glove(stupid gay guy has a velvet glove hehehe)
And be jaded(and i said 'jaded' and there was jaded...o.O)

Hey C-C-Cortney(ignoring me this time huh?)
There ain't no baby please(PLEASE!!!)
When I'm shootin the breeze with her(bang...bang)
When everything you see is a blur(hey two Cortney's cool!)
And ectasy's what you prefer(uhhh no comment heh....)

~~~

like it...? you better put this up it crashed 5 times and i rewrote it for YOU THATS RIGHT, FOR YOU!

Alethea:
o_O

Hee hee. ^_^ You do know I'm married, right?

anyways, what do you think about he Square - Enix merger?

It seems that Square is making all the calls...

Maybe Square bought Enix out?

Probably not....Enix is big in Japan....

What do you think!?(call me....hahahahaha)

Alethea:
I still think the Square-Enix merger was a good thing. So far, I haven't seen any truly exciting results, but that doesn't mean nothing will ever happen. Think about it: Square and Enix are now pooling their assets...their money, their talent, their wisdom of the Ancients...surely something good can come of that.

 
Letter 25: What a Great Signature Quote

Hello there. As the saying goes, "Long time reader; first time writer." Well, I am writing to you from Australia, which is in the PAL zone, AKA "The Black Hole of Gaming." I would just like to know why so many great games take so long to be released here, if they ever come out at all. The official Squaresoft European website says that there are no plans to ever release Chrono Cross in the PAL market, and we've been left waiting for tons of games that I've heard about often on this site and am very anxious to play like Xenosaga and Suikoden III. Why does it take so long for game such as these come out here, and other games that could obviouslly bring in huge amounts of money are completely neglected? I'm glad that I'm an American only living here for a few years, but the people in the PAL territories are really being cheated out of a lot of great games. By the way- as a guy with the name 'Nicolas' rather than 'Nicholas' I know how you feel about having the more uncommon spelling of a name.

-Nicolas

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

Alethea:
Hmm...maybe because it's a pain in the bo-honkus to put a game into PAL format? I don't know. Personally, I think it sucks that people in the PAL territories are being denied great RPG experiences. Maybe some past experiences with low sales in those regions are making game companies nervous about releasing games. There are fewer cultural differences between North America and Europe/Australia than there are between Japan and North America. It makes sense to me that if a game does well in North America, it would also do well in places like Europe and Australia.

 
Letter 26: Another Great Answer for Luke About Kanji

Concerning the readability of Japanese games, I think you're probably out of luck with anything meant for a relatively old audience like Final Fantasy X-2 or Shadow Hearts 2 (though the spoken dialogue should be in English for that one) or the next .hack or whatever, unless you can follow the voice acting. Back in the NES and, to a degree, the SNES eras, many RPGs didn't take up the space to include kanji fonts, so they were all written in hiragana. Those games are actually kind of hard to read because with kanji you don't have to worry about heteronyms and homonyms (and binyms and transnyms :-) ) and such. Nowadays, almost all RPGs meant for a high school to adult level use at least the first thousand or so kanjis that everybody playing would know if they weren't gaijin, and they generally don't use furigana unless there's a funky reading or an uncommon Japanese name or something. Games meant for a younger audience use less kanji if any; just the basic stuff like 'watashi,' the numbers, the days of the weak, etc. I don't know if Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles or Kingdom Hearts or Zelda are considered young; I'd have to look at some screenshots. Hope I could help.

Parasite Eve isn't nearly as scary as Silent Hill or even Resident Evil. There aren't any places where monsters jump through the window like in Resident Evil and there isn't any mysterious fog or staticy radio like in Silent Hill. There isn't a whole lot of gore compared to either series and the monsters are more cool than scary. Parasite Eve 2, which I would only recommend if you could buy it cheaply and I wouldn't recommend to you at all, tries much more to be like Resident Evil, and it is considerably scarier than the first one, though it fails to be as scary as other horror games. I don't know why everybody complains about how Aya moves slow in the first game. She walks and runs at a realistic pace, the areas in the game are generally small, and you can set it so that she always runs. Parasite Eve was actually very educational for me. I hadn't ever been in a good biology class, so I didn't even know what mitochondria were. By the way, I have the original novel the game is supposed to be a sequel to; I started to translate it about a year ago, but I only got a couple of paragraphs done because I suck at kanji.

Another game with a strong female lead is Koudelka. It is a lot closer to Resident Evil/Silent Hill scariness than the first Parasite Eve, but it's still not anywhere near as creepy as even Parasite Eve 2. They did seem to make up for the strong female lead in the first game with Shadow Hearts, though. The heroine is a complete damsel in distress in that game, oh well.

Alethea:
Must get Parasite Eve...and maybe Koudelka...

I was playing Final Fantasy VII. I still haven't quite beaten it yet, and I got it when it came out, it was the reason I bought a Playstation. I played the part where you do all the huge materia stuff and I couldn't shake the feeling that my characters were acting pretty damn stupid. Shinra was trying to destroy the meteor, after all. Especially in the rocket, it just seems like they're trying to destroy everything, and at this point they don't know how they're going to save the world themselves. I know it doesn't make any difference if you fail all the huge materia stuff, but you'd still think they'd let Shinra try. Cid does say something about preserving the knowledge of the ancients, but he doesn't make a very compelling case. Do you think this works better in Japanese without the poor translation? It just seems really dumb and kind of ruins that part of the game.

-The Nameless Translation Dude

Alethea:
Considering that I have no idea what the original Japanese version says, I don't know if I can answer your question. During that whole rocket scene, I kept thinking, "NOOOO! I don't wanna go into space! LET ME OUTTA HEEEEEEEEERE!" I didn't really think that the need to preserve the knowledge of the Ancients was a stupid argument. I mean, the whole time Shinra was trying to shoot the meteor out of the sky, I was thinking, "You know, you frickin' corporate fatcat idiots, this isn't going to work. It didn't work in the stinkin' Bart's Comet episode of the Simpsons, and it's not going to work this time! You're just trying to destroy something valuable and irreplaceable in an attempt to stop the meteor, and you're not tackling the real problem, which is Sephiroth...so get me offa this &@#* rocket!"

 
Letter 27: Alundra 2 Just Sucks. Period.

Hello Cortney, (wow isn't spelling someone's name right so hard...)

First i would like to say how much i agree with you on the Alundra and Alundra 2 issue. The first one was a favorite of mine I loved the puzzles ,even though some of them drove me crazy, and the battle system made it fun to just go around killing things. The story was very original and fun even if it had a couple of oddities. But this thing that attempted to become the sequel... I have no words that can accurately describe this disaster. First of all there is nothing of a dream walker nor do any of the characters reappear(while this happens in FF's at least the have recurring themes and creatures not to mention the did a decent job of it...). Secondly the game had a horrid storyline and the most revolting cast of characters i have ever see. And last which would explain why the game is so bad, the producer of it is not the same. Instead of our beloved Working Designs Activision made it... I don't know if the original team worked on it at all but considering the results i would guess not. Working Designs is a good company that while it takes forever to release games it stuffs them full of great dialogue and work hard on aspects of the game that no other companies focus on. I don't know the specifics of the Alundra paradox but whether WD sold the title or the designers moved to the other company it was defiantly a mistake and one of the most disappointing sequels i have ever played (but i don't have the heart to get rid of it i'm a bit of a collector...)

Alethea:
I'm not sure why WD didn't pick up the job of translating Alundra 2. Maybe Victor Ireland saw the graphics, and ran screaming away from it. WD doesn't make games...they only translate them and occasionally reprogram them (they reprogrammed parts of the first Alundra to make the puzzles less frustrating, if you can believe that). The original Alundra was developed by Climax (with some of the staff from Landstalker) and translated by WD, and Alundra 2 was developed by Contrail and published by Activision. The two games seem so unrelated that it makes me think that folks at Contrail said, "You know, this standalone game is a piece of crap, so let's piggyback on the good Alundra name and hope that we can dupe people into buying it!"

Another thing I though I should mention is about Parasite Eve; it is defiantly a worthwhile investment especially to one who is educated like yourself. The story can be a bit complex along with the scientific parts of it it can be rather a rather confusing game to younger players and it is too short but its a cheap game that is worth the money. And no its not scary or too creepy like Silent Hill, though that depends on your definition of the said words.

Valkyrie Profile is also a good game. The characters dieing can be a little sad but usually when a character died I said "Yeah now this cool guy is going to be on my team!" If it meant sharing such a wonderful gaming experience with another I would love to give you my copy of it but its scratched and any attempt to begin a new game would likely cause fits of rage and tears after the game freezing at one of the best parts in the game. So i guess that wouldn't be an option...

Alethea:
OK, OK...I need Parasite Eve and Valkyrie Profile.

I agree with... (I forgot their name but i'm sure their were multiple people who said this) about you being a good host and I would also be happy seeing you become a permanent part of Q&A. But this wouldn't mean that you would have to give either andrew the boot i'm sure you are all grown up enough to share. Also with living life comes events that would distract one from Q&A or vacations so I think you all could work something out to where all of you can do Q&A because I like all of the current hosts.

As for a character I admire or look up to I would say Elhaym(Elly) from Xenogears she has her faults early in the story and she lashes out as Fei but she is a kind hearted person who always helps people no matter what the consequences to herself are. She also has that kind of mothering sense to her that makes her the perfect friend. Actually from what I can tell about you from your responses to readers you and her are very much alike. Sorry about making this letter so long that is for all the readers who hate such long letters but as Andrew pointed out your browsers scroll function can be your friend in times of boredom...

Well good bye Alethea (such a cool name!)
Rache Callmirsson

Alethea:
I suppose I am a little like Elly...I can be a bit of a Miang sometimes too. ^_^

 
Letter 28: Imperial Mog Returns With a FFVIII Question

Greetings (monks sing) CORT-NEY
Well for imformation purposes, I actually will be 22 in October. Though many people looking at me thinks i'm only 15 or so. Some of the problem is that there aren't females around here who share my interests. Most of the ones I see around here are rather airheaded, ditzy, or the like. That and I'm not the type who goes out to bars or other nightlife which it seems most people tend to do around here. That and I'm a hopeless romantic at heart.
I got a friend who has a question but she couldn't get her e-mail working. In FFVIII right after you get Irvine, you're supposed to go to the train station to get to Deling City. The problem is she says that she can't enter the station to take the train. Have you heard of anyone having that problem? I also noticed that the game is one of the few that causing status effects do make a difference.
Imperial Mog

Alethea:
OK, since you are 22, I'll recommend online personals to you. Just be aware that on some sites it costs money to post an ad, but there are plenty of free trials out there too. I was fortunate that Yahoo was free back when I ran my ad. Bars are usually crappy places to meet people. Poor lighting, lots of smoke and booze...if you are really looking for a solid, sweet girl, then chances are you won't find her in a bar.

As for the FFVIII question...I hope she's going to the one right outside Galbadia Garden. Just go up to the train and press confirm, I think. I don't remember if there's an actual station to enter, or if you can just walk up to the train on the world map. She'll also need sufficient funds to board the train...about 3,000 gil.

 
Letter 29: I Have Not Yet Experienced The Horror of Legend of Dragoon

I've seen that most of the reviews for Legend of the Dragoon say its horrible. Yet, I've spoken to a few friends who like it. Also, the shaky reviews on gamefaqs are split with a bunch of high scores and a bunch of low. Is it a love it or hate it type of game? Maybe then its worth the $10 on ebay.

Alethea:
I have heard overwhelmingly that it's a terrible game with only a few good points, and those do not make up for it's extreme crappiness. However, I'm the kind of person who believes in making your own judgments, so I think you should rent it before getting stuck with it. Unless, of course, you have $10 to burn.

 
Letter 30: Knights of The Old Round Republic Table

Has there been any info released on possible specs for the Windows version of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? The game looks really good, but with no Xbox I must look to the pc version. Though there probably won't be specs until the game is closer to release, right? Well, if you can help thanks a bunch, and if you can't, thanks.

Oh, and the character i admire is Evil King Stan. He's funny, pathetic, and has the biggest ego ever. He tries as hard as he can to be bad, but it just doesn't work out for him. Anybody who tries that hard while being nothing but a shadow is pretty admirable in my book.

Alethea:
Hmm...I looked on the official website for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and I couldn't find anything. Phooey on LucasArts. I guess they'll let us know about specs when the time is right, so you can rush out and upgrade your computer in time, if need be. ^_^

 
Letter 31: Two Notable Characters

There are two characters I really admire in RPGs. The first is Celes Chere. She gives up power for righteousness when she turns against the Empire and sticks with her new friends, even when they don't quite believe she is not a traitor. Also, after she tries to commit suicide and fails, the conviction she shows in deciding to go and find her friends is incredible.
The second character is Lawfer from Valkyrie Profile. He sticks by his friend even when others have dismissed him as a killer and goes against the very law to do what he feels is right in his heart, even at the cost of his own life.
--Teresa

Alethea:
I've played FF6 twice; the first time I saved Cid and went on with the game. The second time, I let Cid die, and I watched as Celes tried to kill herself. What a powerful scene. Celes demonstrates both strength and vulnerablity, which I think helps humanize her and make her a more credible character. I'll have to wait until I manage to get my hands on Valkyrie Profile before I can find out about Lawfer.

 
Letter 32: He Who Used a Flame-Thrower On The Head of News

Hello Magical Feminist Wonder, I am the guy who flamed Castomel for the poor job he's doing with the column, and while I'm not sure which Andrew Castomel is, given your statements about both of them on today's column, I think you know what I mean. And now for my judgement on your column....you are doing a wonderful job! I have read your hosted columns several times and you are consistent with your method. I like the fact you don't ramble on about Uncles or anything of no interest to RPGamers. You answer all questions fully and even admit when you don't have an answer, and you have a great sense of humor that isn't overused. I like you, please stay with the column. I agree, bra-burning butch's always creeped me out. Especially the ones named Jo, but I don't know why. Anyway, for some questions, if yo don't mind"

1. I've read this website sincebefore it became RPGamer five years ago, but I forgot what it used tobe called, though somewhere in my head I remember a Leviathan having something to do with it. Any chance you could find out what RPGamer used to be called?

Alethea:
I never saw RPGamer back in its early days, but I believe it was called the Unofficial Squaresoft Home Page.

2. Will Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicle require 4 players simultaneously playing with GBA/SP, or can it be done on a solo trip?

Alethea:
You can go solo if you want to.

3. Are you as excited about Sword of Mana as the rest of us?

Thank you, and keep up the good work.
-The Now-Not-Quite-So-RabidPGamer

Alethea:
Sword of Mana...yummy GBA goodness.

 
Letter 33: Ogre Battle Stuff

Hey Alethea,

For the guy who was asking about which RPG he should play first that he has. SaGa Frontier would have to be the first, with Blue's quest, because Blue rules. The second one he should play is Azure Dreams, sortof repetitive gameplay, but that games addictive.

In Dragon Warrior 7, the characters names are, Hero(Andrew), Mari(Maribel), Gabo(Gabo), Melv(Melvin), Kief(Kiefer), and Aira(Aira). Although Kiefer leaves your party halfway through the game and wont ever get him back again, which really sucks, because he was by far the most strongest character in the game, besides the fact that he couldn't use magic spells.

Lately, I got a used copy of Ogre Battle 64, even though I don't have an N64(which is because it's an Ogre Battle I don't have, so of course I got the game), so I'm using someone elses, but anyways the game has an awesome storyline, but it's not quite as good as the original Ogre Battle for SNES(or rereleased for the PSX, and defenitely not as good as Tactics Ogre). Just wanted to know, have you ever played any of the Ogre Battle series? If so, which have you played and which ones your favorite?

2 more days and Disgaea comes out... WOOHOO

-andrew- -kupomogli-

Alethea:
I've never played any of the Ogre Battle series except for Tactics Ogre, which was only for a few minutes, and I thought FFT was more interesting. I should try the rest of the series, I suppose.

 
Letter 34: But I Like Terra...

Hi,

I'm responding to the comments that have been made regarding strong female characters -- and the lack thereof -- in video games.

I think that labeling characters as strong or weak can be tricky. For instance, Rosa is usually written off as weak and dependent on the hero. So she is, mostly. But her willingness to disobey Cecil's instructions to stay put, and to forego her personal safety in order to be with her man when he goes off on a perilous journey, tells us a lot about her character. In real life, that would be considered quite a strong thing for a woman to do.

Aeris wasn't much use as a character, and her endless flirting with Cloud was a pain, but she died on purpose, to save the world. That's not exactly a characteristic of a wispy, wimpy, fainting princess. And I didn't find Garnet or Yuna to be flat and characterless either.

Terra, on the other hand, is routinely labeled as strong, when in fact, all that is strong about her is that she has powerful offensive magic, unusual in an RPG primary heroine. Think about it:

As the player, you spend large chunks of your valuable time chasing her around in both the World of Balance and the World of Ruin. When you first meet her, she's where?

In bed. Unconscious. Weakened by the removal of the slave crown.

After you've begged her and begged her to join your cause, you hardly get to put her to use before she turns into a pink troll doll and flies off screaming into the horizon. So you tirelessly chase her down. And where do you find her?

In bed. Unconscious. Weakened by the return of her memory.

Then, in the World of Ruin, when Celes (who by the way is strong, beautiful, sassy and useful -- I LOVE Celes) trudges all over the world map remotivating and rerecruiting the demoralized Returners, where does she find Terra?

In bed. Conscious, but (inexplicably) weakened by finally finding love, of the maternal variety, and unwilling to be of any use. Begging does no good. She forces you to leave and come back later to beg her some more.

The next time I play FF6, I am going to leave her in bed in Mobliz and go to Kefka's Tower without her whiny butt. My understanding is that of all the characters, Terra alone shows up (unleveled) for the final fight with Kefka even if you don't rerecruit her. So I'll be stuck with her regardless, but it's the moral of the thing.

Anyway, while I agree with the Rydia/Celes/(arguably) Tifa/Quistis/Beatrix/Lulu lineup as examples of stronger female characters, and that SOME of the FF "Princesses," Rosa/Terra/Aeris/Rinoa/Garnet/Yuna can be bad examples of what true femininity is, I think it's a mistake to paint everyone with the same brush. Just as in real life, we ought to judge these characters by what they actually do and why they do it rather than by what we classically have been told about them.

Now, if you want to talk about the REALLY absurd in RPG heroines, let's talk about their clothes. Let's talk about, for example, poor Celes negotiating the wintry environs of Narshe clad only in a little green bathing suit and flimsy white cape, just to inflame the imaginations of the 99% teenaged male gaming population. ^_^

~Maggie Rennie

Alethea:
I'm all for more sensible clothing for female characters. If you're going to be running all over the world, through icy caves, sunny fields, and burning deserts, please get some sensible shoes and transitional wear, like a removable cloak or something.

By the way, I always wondered how Lulu kept the top of her dress on. Then I realized that her secret must be double-sided tape. ^_^

 
Letter 35: Where Does Tidus Refer to the Macarena? Oh Yeah, Oustide Macalania...

This may be a dollar short and a day late, but one female lead that readers seem to have overlooked is Chris, from Suikoden 3. While she has moments of weakness and self-doubt, she is revered by all her male cohorts and has established her name across the lands as the both feared and adored "Silver Knight." She proves to be an excellent commander until she leaves with Nash, after which she marches to his drum, mostly out of necessity. It's during the final event with the Alma Kinan (in Chapter 3, I believe) that she slides into the traditional female video game role of internal emotional turmoil rather than external physical retaliation. Afterwards, however, she does rise up from her sulking and returns to her familiar Chris persona (maybe it's the change of clothing that did it?). I'm not sure how she acts in Chapters 4 and 5, because I chose to play as Hugo (who makes a more suitable Fire Hero, if you ask me.)

I have a hard time, however, finding a video game character I admire. There are some characters whose traits I admire, but none I would truly aspire to be. After all, look at some of the staple characters of RPG fandom:

Cloud suffered from episodes of debilitating mental angst, and even became an invalid near the end of FFVII.

Squall was inherently a loner, struggled in communicating with his peers, and shucked off any roles of responsibility--until, of course, a point in the story where he suddenly changes every aspect of his personality.

Tidus...well. He made a reference to the "Macarena."

The heroes of Suikoden 1 and 2 never really emerged as outstanding leaders--rather, they were teenagers shoved into roles of responsibility they could hardly handle, and were manipulated behind the scenes by their strategists.

Link, so far as I can tell, has never been revealed to have anything resembling a personality. I suppose that's because the story isn't so much about Link as a person, but rather the role he fills as a hero.

I do, however, admire FFVII's Aeris for her selflessness and constant optimism. It is her stubbornness and her unwillingness to follow prudence that got her where she ended up. I think if more people followed the example she set with her self-sacrifice and unfailing desire to help out, we'd live in a more pleasant place.

Guardian Eye

(You'll get an orange muffin if you can tell me where I got my nickname.)

Alethea:
I need Suikoden 3 too. I've always thought Chris sounded like an interesting character to play. Oh, and I have no idea where your nickname came from. No orange muffin for me, I guess.

 
Letter 36: I Hope I Haven't Lost Count

Hey Alethea,

I forgot to add, that in FF6, the Zigfried and Ziegfried are fake Siegfrieds. You can find that out when you go into the colliseum and talk to him which he'll talk about how people are impersonating him(and of course, why do you think that the Zigfried on the Phantom Train is so weak?, and then you can fight Siegfried by betting a Megalixer at the colliseum and then see how powerful the actual one is). So in the game there is Siegfried and other people impersonating him(the one who Edgar befriends to get into Figaro Castle, and the Phantom Train one who steals the item from the treasure box).

Alethea:
Oh, OK.



Quickies

Ok reading through more of the column, I think Phil wrote one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. Concerning the parallel between the remote, I give Phil a thumbs up.

Chris

Alethea: Yeah, Phil definitely has his moments. That's one of the reasons why I married him. ^_^

Silent Hill scares me at any time of the day.

Alethea: Yep. It's scary. What bugs me though is that I keep wondering if that guy ever finds his daughter, but I'm too scared of the zombie dogs and freaky flying things to go find out.

Oy.

In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, where do I get the Sword familiar? I've searched everywhere on the map that I can think to search, and none of the FAQs or item lists have familiar locations in them. So...d'y'know?

-Matt

Alethea: Nope, I don't know.

Googleshng: Right under where you fight Olrox. You reach it by going through the ceiling of the hallway below. Also, go here.


Last Words:

Alethea: Whew! What a weekend. I can't believe how many people want me to become a permanent fixture around here. I'm sure there are those who want to see me kicked to the curb (and I hope they do what's proper and mature and keep their comments to themselves), but it's good to know that some people like what I'm doing around here. I'll be back next weekend for more Q & A goodness. Just so you know, next weekend will be my last weekend to host, as Andrew Duff should be back from vacation after that.

The Magical Feminist Wonder
Cortney The letters wouldn't stop coming!" Stone - Alethea@rpgamer.com

Queen of Dorks
Claire Belton


Only one more weekend of this...too bad.

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