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Another Childish Rant
 
 
Welp, todays column turned out to be average length instead of short after all.

(This edition of Ask Thor updated slightly past noon due to technical difficulties. Hey, at least I haven't missed a day yet. :D)

 
Another fine example of a "perfect" question.
Thor,

I have heard it mentioned that the U.S. version of FFIV was altered somewhat from the Japanese version? Is this true? If so, what was the difference?

- Al

Yes. In Japan, there were two versions of Final Fantasy IV. After the success of FFIV, Square released Final Fantasy IV Easytype, a game for rug rats and first time, ah, "RPGamers". In order to make FFIV more appealing to the average American gamer (which, in retrospect, was probably a good idea back then) Nintendo chose to translate FFIV Easytype. But that's not all. They didn't just translate the game, they censored it. A few changes include:
  1. Storyline editing: In America, we missed out on a great opportunity for a Star Wars reference. Just imagine FuSoYa saying "Cecil, I am your uncle."
  2. Removing the Programmer's Room: A little bit of fluff located in the dwarf castle, the Programmer's Room allowed you to chat with and actually fight some of the programmers. (Death Knight Vs. Computer Geek. Fair fight.)
  3. Censoring: Nintendo changed the animation so a kiss between Cecil and Rosa look like a hug. Because kissing is sinful and wrong.
For a detailed list of changes, read this.
 
Thor shows off
Hail almighty Thor! (why break a trend?) I was playing Legacy of Kain:Blood Omen the other day and a question popped into my mind. The question is about something Kain says every few times he swings his sword. It sounds something like "Faye Victus!" (no i don't have any idea how it's spelled). I think he said it in a couple of video scenes, the first time I can recal is the one in hell where the necromancer makes Kain a vampire. Do you have any idea what it means, or are you as clueless as I am? (I doubt your clueless, so please post this)
As a mater o' fact, I not only know the meaning, I know a good deal about the history of that quote. Class, remain in your seats until the end of the lecture.

In 390 B.C., Gallic tribes, angered by the slaying of one of their chiefs, crossed the Alps, swept down through Italy, and sacked and burned Rome. They were not interested in taking land or setting up camp; they had revenge in mind. And it showed. During the months of the siege, the Gauls burned and looted the city itself (including most of its stores of grain) doing massive damage and making no serious attempt to take it over. After a while, they agreed to leave if paid a "small" ransom. Quintus Sulpicius conferred with the Gallic chieftain Brennus and together they agreed upon the price: one thousand pounds of gold. (Which is roughly what Bill Gates made during the time it took to type this.) To further piss off the Romans, the Gauls brought heavier than usual weights to measure the gold. When a Roman commander complained, a Gaul threw his sword onto the scale, and yelled "Vae Victis!".

Suffering to the conquered.

(And people say I never answer questions.)

Another question is why in the world is Soul Reaver going to be a cheap(although with very nice graphics) "Tomb Robber". The first game acheived the perfection that game designers have sought for a decade but it was surprisingly unpopular. I must admit I never would have played it if my older brother hadn't bought it, but it is now my favorite action/rpg.

- Setzer10

It's due to complex and highly annoying legal reasons. You see, the concept, story, etc. of Legacy of Kain was developed by Silicon Knights. Crystal Dynamics assited, published, and bought the rights to Kain. Once they had the rights, they could do whatever they wanted with the series -- including making a flashy Tomb Raider clone and leaving Silicon Knights in the cold.

The silver lining to this stinky, green cloud is that according to their webpage, Silicon Knights is working on a new game, an RPG. And though it's 3d, it should be good. Not that LoK: SR won't be good, I just doubt it can possibly be all that faithful to its predecessor.

 
Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time
Yahi, Yagdo yayfo Yatrednuh! Yayi yahepo yattah Yaserauq yarsesaele yateh FF yacnoitcello yahere yain yateh US. Yawtah yado yayuo yatknih?

(reverse the letters, then say them out loud to figure it out.)

No.
 
My bad.
Thor:

I have to disagree with your definitions of first, second, and third parties re the games industry. These terms were in existence long before the manufacturer/developer hierarchy of the games industry, and they were artificially (and unofficially) applied to the situation. There's no such thing as a "1.5 party game", and if the players are the "second party", then what are "second-party games"?

The accepted use of these terms is as follows: A first-party game is developed by the console manufacturer. A second-party game is developed by an outside company but published and released by the console manufacturer. A third-party game is developed and released by a seperate company.

- Chris Kohler

Looks like you're right, dude. I can only sit back and bitterly blame the (long forgotten) magazine where I read that explanation. It always sounded kind of fishy to me (why bother mentioning consumers at all?), but I went ahead and printed that definition. Which was, obviously, wrong. Blarg.
 
Touched by a Sephiroth
A seraph is an angel with 3 pairs of wings (that's 6 wings for those of you who don't know what a pair is). Guess that explains the thing he's riding on, if nothing else. I think Square changed it on purpose to keep the church from getting on their case.
That's okay, Square always changes a few details. Like Odin's horse, or the total lack of ME except for my measley hammer in... wait, that's not a chance, more of a total lack of. However, "Seraph" isn't the correct term, as this dude will soon point out in letter #2
 
I agree with you when you say Safer is a mistranslation for Seraph. But a Seraph actually isn't an angel (or from what I know). A Seraph seems to be something video game programmers named some monsters (I'm pretty sure I've seen Seraph in RPGs before...). There IS something called a Seraphim. Seraphims are the most powerful class of angel according to theology. Cherubims are the 2nd highest, then the lowest is the Angel, which is like rank 9 or something.

- Mamoru Genji.

Thanks, man. I am wowed by your knowledge of all that is Angel.
 
Nitpicking my nitpicking!
Yo Sexypants, (Ya, it's me the crack addict)

I have to comment upon your verbal shredding of poor Gewolke for his defense of Uematsu's work. You argued that the reason Uematsu's work suffered couldn't have been because he was too busy, with deadlines to make. You then go and say " And if that one guy was overworked, did they just release lackluster FMV? No! " Well, maybe we weren't thinking?

We? Maybe. Me? Always.
The FMV in Final Fantasy VII was rushed. There was a sequence of Ultimate Weapon's death near Cosmo Canyon removed. It was much more noticeable in the Japanese initial release. And let's not forget the ending. Yuffie and Vincent are both noticeably absent. Why? They weren't forced out because they didn't care. They were absent, because of time restraints. So did they release lackluster FMV? In a way, yes.

I bring this up, because almost everything in FFVII was rushed. Not that the product was horrible, but because it was. And I don't see why this wouldn't apply to Uemastu also, but that's just my opinion America, I could be wrong.

- Ian Williams

Dude, I appreciate your feedback ('cause I never knew about that missing sequence), but the truth is every game can be considered incomplete. From a PC game four months in development, released early and doomed to a life of bug fixes and user annoyance, to Zelda 64, which was 174 years in the making and yet still Shigeru Miyamoto was quoted as saying he simply didn't have enough time to do everything he wanted. Games are like webpages: you could continue updating, or developing forever and still not be totally satisfied.

The point I was making is that no where in Final Fantasy VII did you see, oh, say, an untextured polygon model in an FMV sequence, just because they didn't have time to apply textures. All the movies Square had time to make were very impressive for their time, and left most players speechless. Which is, sadly, a lot more than you can say for most of the game's music.

 
Another "safer" letter? One worth reading, I promise.
Hey Thor,

Call me stupid and whatever you want, but when I first saw the name "Safer Sephiroth," I thought it meant exactly that. I mean, as opposed to More Dangerous Sephiroth. I mean I don't think I could be totally wrong, since Safer Sephiroth really is not in his final form. Of course, his final form just took one Omnislash to defeat, but i don't think you can count out the this possibility

<giggle>

(And yes. A 6'4" adult male giggling is a very disturbing sight. Not as bad as Drew goose-stepping down RPGamer's halls in that damn Sailor Mars costume, but pretty disturbing nonetheless.)

 
Unfit for Print? No. Silly? Yes.
Dear Thor,

In recent days I've noticed you're becoming very racist, crude etc..

Examples:

  1. "Maybe that's because your parents are black."
  2. "Hey, man. Don't make me sic Beta Ray Bill on your arse. :D"
  3. "No, you're just a budding serial killer. Soon you'll have a collection of toes duct-taped to your back, a rusty butter knife ever-ready to slice human flesh, and a basement full of Yuffie posters. You disgust me."
  4. "That's just anal. Moving on."
  5. "Attention stat geeks of the world: Now entering heaven. Enjoy."
The list goes on... I believe your coloum has turned into more of a comedy routine than a Q and A for people who need help. Your inability to fulfil your obligation to help people (Mind you working with RPGamer) has sickened me.

- Tommy

When took the position of Q&A Dude at RPGamer, I was given but two rules: Don't insult a company directly, and don't print a reader's letter just to bash him. Therefore, instead of my original idea of replying with "You, sir, are an idiot", I will give a detailed explanation of why Tommy is incorrect, and leave it up to you guys to decide he's an idiot on your own.

It's true, I'm rather crude. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed of it, either. When able, I try and avoid heavy cussing (hence the use of "arse" instead of "ass". Everything English sounds way more classy, even their word for a butt.) So far I me and Tommy boy are in agreement. This is a trend that just won't last.

Then comes the first sign that Tommy isn't playing with a full deck: He calls me a racist for suggesting a reader's parents are black. Struggling to follow that particular logic, I've come up with two explanations: 1) Tommy feels that anyone who uses the word "black" is a racist. 2) Tommy has no idea what the word "racist" means.

The last bit of proof that Tommy was dropped more times than a hot potato during infancy was the "inability to fulfil your obligation to help people" bit. How exactly does being crude keep me from helping people? All of those quotes were taken from replies to questions with no real answer available. From "Thor wasn't a very good super hero" to "My mom didn't believe my pale skin was genetic". We aren't talking "When will FF9 be released" here, we're talking goofy letters printed for fun.

On a final note, I was delighted to find out that my actions had physically sickened ol' Tom Tom. I like to imagine him currled up in a ball on his floor, drool rolling down slack lips, pasty white skin glistening with sticky sweat, eyes clenched tight with pain, coughs wracking his frail body, blood seeping from... well, you get the idea.

 
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Quickies that satisfy
I just gotta know. Where exactly did you get the thing about Lorelai and her 'prozac cookies"?

- Audric, still searching for Jayce to unite the magic root.

Back on the 18th of February I acted like an idiot and asked for prozac cookies. Somehow that morphed into "Lorelai's prozac cookies" within the week. Poor Lore didn't know what in Hades was going on. I'm so cruel. :D
You know what that guy, Watcher on the Pole, said about Sefer beaning house? He's wrong. I'm Jewish, I know. :) Hoenir Aesir is correct, Sefer means book. Bait-Sefer means house of books, because Bait is the house part. Sefer Torah is just a fancy way of saying Torah, no house part in it. With all this debate over the meaning of "Safer", will more kids rush out and learn Hebrew instead of Japanese? Probably not, but it's kinda fun to think about.
If you look in one of the many import FAQs, the romanization is 'Ramuza Beolubu', meaning one CAN pronounce it 'Ram-za Bay-oh-lew-ve'.
-Boco the Chokobo
Okay. (Oh no! What a Crude And Racist reply!)
 
Thor Stuff

And now I rant. Since I couldn't bring myself to print less than "enough" letters today, the following rant isn't fool-proof, nor genius-proof, but it should get the point across.

Reviewers are too damn fond of RPGs. Look at any RPG focused site (RPGamer included, trust me), and you'll find reviews which rarely drop below average. It's like they have no concept of what the word means. Even Breath of Fire 3, which might as well have been a dozen other games, received great reviews.

BoF3 fans, do NOT start writing hate mail, let me explain.

Breath of Fire 3 was not awful. It was not great, either. It was an average RPG. In order for Breath of Fire 3 to be above average, there would have to be a significant amount of RPGs released around that time which were decidedly worse than Breath of Fire 3. This would tilt the scales and, by comparison -- which is what a review is all about -- make Breath of Fire 3 a better game.

Simple, right? Breath of Fire 3, fun to play but nothing special, good for RPG fans who want every RPG or fans of the BoF series, but nothing to recommend to every gamer, right? So why the frag do we have people giving it 8 and 9 out of 10? Just what is bad enough to make Breath of Fire 3 that good? Nothing.

Tired of my rhetorical questions yet? Care for another? Okay, how about this: Why in blazes are reviewers giving anything with an experience system rave reviews? 'Cause they get too damn close to the game they're reviewing.

Check it out. The very nature of an RPG is seductive in its own way. Either "you" are the hero, and save the day, and right the wrongs, and win the princess... or in a story-intensive RPG you grow so close to the characters that, after forty hours, you're willing to get in a fight to defend them.

I know I did back when every ape and his brother was tossing around "Tifa is a slut" comments. (A battle of wits, I assure you. I only beat people up if they insult Teri Hatcher.)

So it stands to reason that after finishing an RPG, the typical reviewer will like the game a lot more than if it was any other type of game. Sure, we all have a few RPGs we dislike -- Wild ARMs, 7th Saga and Phantasy Star 3 in my case -- but aside from those, we're wiling rave for any RPG. And while that's fine for your casual gamers, it's pretty damn sloppy for a professional.

Pick up any magazine. Even your most mundane RPG will do pretty good. Why, in one magazine, Rogue Trip was given about the same score as Tales of Destiny, even though Rogue Trip is just about the shining glory of Vehicle Combat, and ToD is, in the grand scheme of things, just another RPG.

This leaves us to wonder: Is there any RPG these guys don't suggest we buy? That is the purpose of a review, after all. Not to talk about how great the game is, but to help people decide which game is worth buying and which isn't.

So many questions, so few answers. The best I could come up with is three methods:

  1. Ultra Simplified Reviews: Buy it / rent it / avoid it. That's it. Nothing else. Not even Tommy could screw this one up.
  2. Ignore The 'Overall' Score: Some publications have tossed the "overall" rating out the door, thus making things much more accurate. No longer do you have to worry about every RPG being rated above average, because with the Screw Overall system, you only rate the traits of the game: Graphics, gameplay, etc. No scores are given for things like "fun factor" since anyone who digs RPGs will have a ton of fun with most any RPG.
  3. Give everything 2's. Not enough games are rated 2. Lets give 2 a chance you... you racists!

The moral of this story is don't review RPGs or I'll bitch at you.

- Thor "That review SUCKS" Antrim
Hey, baby. Can I be your Papa Smurf?

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