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Andrew - February '21- 12:00 Central Standard Time

Last week when I linked to Final Fantasy H, the feedback was tremendous. The game jumped in downloads, ending up with well over 400 by the end of the weekend, and the author was thrilled. The letters I got about the game were very supportive, and Iíve glad people enjoyed the free amateur RPG. So from now on, Iím giving out the call; if youíre a game designer who has a finished game, send me a letter on it, and Iíll give it a try. If I like it enough, you can expect your game being linked to from a column that gets thousands of readers daily.

Speaking of which, Iím sure anyone who clicked on last weekís link for what Iím watching pulled a O_o, so the same deal applies. If you find a weird website, flash animation, or completely bizarre video, please, send me a link.

Oh, and yeah, and donít forget the whole Q&A thing. *cough*

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Intimate questions, impersonal answers. So what else is new?

Hello Andrew,

First, long time no see. What has happened in your life this past month? Your life at RPGamer as a blunt bitter bastard, not your real life as a...um, blunt bitter bastard?

Second, I will not be giving you my story ideas for RPGs for the rest of the year. Until they are totally developed and not total crap like the last two I sent you, I won't send you any more. What do you think?

Third, which game out of the four you mentioned in yesterday's letter is the most popular? I am not going to suggest any one of them or anything like that; I am just curious since I am in that same situation as to which game out of the set to buy.

Fourth, what do you think about this Iraq issue? As far as I know, you have not said one thing about it.

Fifth, has any past person who sent a letter to your column ever said hello to you or recognize you at your college? I figure I might as well ask about that since U have nothing better to do.

Finally, Whta do you think of Okage: Shadow King? I KNOW it has been out a long time, but I recently rented it and I found it cool. What about your impressions on it?

Thank you for your time,
Huge Dreamer

BTW, I have no real crushes on any video game characters...although I find Mog cool.

Andrew:
1. Same old Q&A stuff. Some great letters, a few poorly written flames, and a whole lot of sexy cat girls.

2. Iím looking forward to your games then. Donít forget to include me as an NPC who dies horribly!

3. Breath of Fire 5 and Xenosaga are the two top contenders, with BoF5 pulling ahead slightly. Ironically, Dark Cloud 2 is actually getting the best reviews.

4. This place is a haven from tough real life issues. If you want to talk about Iraq, do it with some sensible, world-weary friends. I refuse to start a political flame war on this, especially considering that I find physical violence sickening. Sorry.

5. Not a one. Granted, I wander around campus in a fedora and an old leather bomber jacket, so Iím usually impressed when people gather the courage to tell me how cool my hat is.

6. I never finished Okage, but I loved what I played. The characters were vibrant, the world horribly silly, and the gameplay enjoyably frustrating. And if that description sounds strange, wait till you play the game.

 
I had no idea cats liked storms.

Hey, Andrew!

Geez, don't you know my vote already considering how much I've been drooling all over Dark Cloud 2 lately? Once that's out, providing I'm not saving up for E3, my next want is divided between BoFV and .hack - while the artwork for Breath of Fire V really upset a lot of people, I've seen a promo at EB, and it's nifty looking. I'd also like to get ..hack because I enjoyed the anime (which I realize is different), andso far the people whom have bought it I've talked to enjoy it.

So here's the requisite question:I've seen Wild ARMs 3, and I'm wowed. But I haven't played the first two. Should I play the first two (I have access to the first), or canI safely dive into the third?

-Paws =^^=
Media Lackey: media@rpgamer.com
"I have more than a tattoo up my sleeve."

Andrew:
Well, one vote for Dark Cloud 2. As for Wild Arms 3, just dive right in. If youíre that worried about consistency, then play the first two games, they werenít THAT awful.

 
I wouldnít pay a Canadian penny for this guyís thoughts.

Hey oh insane sam and max style rabbit,

While I am looking forward to Xenosaga at the end of the month, nothing will most likely come close to .Hack. The story in this game and the concept behind it makes up and completely overrides any problems the game has. The characters look great and while the combat may be simplistic compared to say Everquest, it still comes out as very fun. I would suggest that if anyone is leery about it... RENT IT!!! This way you can see whether you like it or not. I highly suggest it as a great game. I haven't played Xenosaga yet (obviously), but I am sure that it will be a great game too.

That's my 3 cents!

Andrew:
Dude, are you retarded? You tell me, and thousands of readers how great games are without explaining why theyíre great. And the Xenosaga comment is totally out of line. If you havenít played it, then you donít know. Itís apparent you didnít bother to read over what you wrote.

 
Bad graphics, lots of music. Sounds like a Prince album.

I think you should get .Hack.

I find the story, especially its presentation, to be fresh and original. The battle system can be repetitive, and mindless, provided that you level up. I'm finding that trying to survive in level 28 areas with level 22 characters requires quite a bit of strategy (or at least needing to do something other than press X).

No one mentioned the music. It's great. Each area has it's own battle, and background track. It's so nice not to be sick of a games battle music 10 hours into it.

I don't find the graphics as offensive as other people. But then again, I have been playing a lot of Saturn games lately...

-Adam

Andrew:
Well, graphics always take a backseat to great gameplay, which no one seems to be vouching for .hack yet. The music thing intrigues me, Iíve always hated 60 hour games with one battle song and one boss battle song. Curse you Square!

 
Ye old English, bisnatch!

Mr. Duff,

Why oh why does your name sound like some detective last name for an old black and white mystery? But in any case.

Do not let the Xeno-ites lure you into their trap of story-based gaming ladcking gameplay! While I admit, a RPG without a good story will suffer since you can't expect the gameplay to ever improve to warrant playing further, don't play for story only!

Nay Sir Andrew of Duff, I implore to ye to instead partake of the coming release of Dragon's Quarter, the Breath of Fire game which appears nothing like that of the originals! For I say unto ye, is it not better to change the standard of the gameplay and story than to sit grumpily as the same old plot takes over 40 hours of your life?

Oh yeah. On the topic of sequels, people really bash them too hard. Sure, Suikoden 3 and Chrono Cross weren't what we expected from the former games, but I think they are pretty good games regardless. I imagine I'll play both more than any other Final Fantasy game in my possession. I've all ready beat Chrono Cross several times and prepping to run though Suikoden 3 again. It just, you know, stinks when people set impossible standards for games and gripe when the company doesn't comply.

And no more ranty-ness, instead now I will ask a question! What strikes you as more tempting, the GBA player for Gamecube or Gameboy Advance SP?

Masamune - "When your powers combine... I am Captain Planet!"

Andrew:
Thou hath convinced me, oh mystic blade! I shall picketh up the game know as Dragonís Quarter, and there shall be much rejoicing!

I enjoyed both games immensely, but you have to admit, itís always hard for a game to live up to itís predecessors. Just remember, while we all complained, I bet the majority of the whiners were on their third time through, sobbing all the way.

 
Rich gamers, think theyíre better then me! Well Iíll showíem! Iíll showíem all! Ahahahaha!

Andrew,

How wonderful it is to finally see someone of prominent status in the RPG community dislike Xenogears instead of drooling over it like some sort rabid hyena. I have to be honest, I don't read the column much anymore, but your article from the 16th surprised and excited me.

To be honest, I will be getting both BoF5 and Xenosaga when they come out, but BoF5 has been on my "must have" list much, much longer. Xenogears is, in my opinion, the most horrendous excuse of an RPG ever created. I'm only giving Xenosaga a chance because there's German in the subtitle and I'm hoping that Namco will decide, unlike Square, to add this little thing called coherency to the series. Perhaps I'm being overly hopeful??

At any rate, I'll be busy with .hack and BoF5 awhile, even if Xenosaga turns out to be more story-less Kuhscheisse.

On a final note, don't be too quick to pass up .hack. It's a wonderful game! As for the Xenogears hate, more power to you. Der Spiel ist die Arbeit des dunkelen KŲnigs.

~ IkimashoZwei

Andrew:
Hooray, Iíve got Germany, France, and Canada supporting me. Now all I need is someone to declare war on me and I can move to Sealand.

 
Three different points of view? Hmm, doesnít sound at all like Suikoden 3.

Andrew,

Yet, I have to defend one of the games that seems to be getting little attention. That would have to be .hack://Infection.

Anime used to be a big hobby of mine. I would dl as much as I could, as often as possible. I would draw it, buy soundtracks, hell I even Cosplayed at a convention once. But that's all behind me now. The reason I bring this up is because I was introduced to the whole ".hack" world via the 26 episode TV series that aired in Japan recently.

When I first started seeing info posted on RPGamer about the game coming State-side, I figured I'd give it a look. What I saw was a great translation of the Anime into a game, and I knew that I had to be a part of the experience. Character design and the animation was a big selling point for me, but I have come to find a deeper appeal to the game. Granted the graphics, music, game play, and the overall concept of the "Phantom MMORPG" are fantastic in my mind, there is one more, and perhaps the most important, reason as to why I have fallen in love with this game...

The driving force, for me, has become the three perspectives that envelope the story of .hack.

The 26 episode Anime series follows the point of view of Tsukasa as he adventures throughout "The World." I don't really want to ruin anything about the series at all, as I would recommend that you give it a go. The series gives a sort of half/half view of the past happenings within "The World" and their repercussions in reality. Thus creating perspective one.

The second comes within the PS2 game. This side of the story, if you will, is told from the perspective of Kite. But, of course, anyone who frequents this site will know this already. :-)

The third perspective comes from the OVA series, Liminality, that comes with .hack://Infection. This side of the story is told from the perspective of a girl named Mia. She, and one of the people from CC Corporation, are working on a way to solve the problem that has been running rampant throughout "The World"...but from the outside.

I guess what I am trying to drive home here is that .hack's storyline, and the three perspectives that are given on it, could possibly create one of the most unique and in-depth storylines that has ever branched across several forms of multi-media. (Though, I cannot recall another instance in which something of this magnitude has ever been done.)

I'm not trying to profess a new religion or anything of the sort. Hell, who knows? Perhaps I cannot do the game any justice with words alone. I would just like to extend my "invitation," if you will, to explore the world of .hack. I would like to say, "What have you got to lose?" Yet, I know the answer would be $.

Sempai

Andrew:
That does sound pretty damn cool. I loved the first episode of the .hack anime, but it seriously slowed down after that. Maybe Iíll give the game a rental this weekend. Gah, why couldnít two of these games come out in January?!



Quickies

O Great Lapine Aviator,

If you want to see who's looking forward to the fifth "Breath of Fire," you've got your man. The first game got me into the RPG genre in the first place (though "Dragon Warrior" was my first RPG), and I've been playing RPGs ever since. There you have it.

-Otterland

Yeah? Well my first RPG experience was convincing a telemarketer that I wasnít 4 year old, and that I was really interested in aluminum siding. Beat that for role playing!

I personally will be picking up Xenosaga when it comes out, but I think you should go for something else. If you thought Xenogears wasn't worth the time you took to play it, then I seriously doubt Xenosaga will be either. Go for Breath of Fire V; I'm curious as to how the "Dragon Meter" and other gameplay mechanics actually work from the mouth of a gamer, rather than just reading vague assertions from the creators.

~Falcon

You got it, tilde falcon. Maybe your endangered species fly free among the nuclear waste dumps of America.

Andrew,

Ok, I vote for Breath of Fire V over Xenosaga (Although I preordered both, only to find I don't have enough money for either... Cursed Tuition! Now I need to rob a bank or something... =P ).

If you rob a bank, you go to jail, and then thereís only one game youíll be playing buddy, and itís one Iím pretty sure youíd pay to stop playing. Hurf urf.

The Final Grumble:

Looking forward to all sorts of crazy links to games and funny movies for tomorrow. Wow me readers!

Andrew "More like "beano" saga!" Duff

Oh lord, forgive me for my awful, awful puns.

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