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ASK ANDREW
Come On, Mouth Patrol! March 6th, 2005

Andrew Long - 23:59 EST

CHINESE GROCERY STORES will forever be a glowing magnet of irresponsibility for me, I'm afraid. After a tasty dinner at a combination korean-japanese-chinese restaurant, which had an awesome mixed seafood noodles platter, some iffy pork noodle soup and a tasty, if I-was-already-full-and-couldn't-properly-enjoy-it Bibbim Bab, as well as fruit shakes actually made from real fruit as opposed to the usual sort you find in that kind of area, I was sucked into a candy store filled with various delights, which I have dutifully stocked up on. As such, while I totally skipped out on you yesterday and nearly skipped out on you today, I am proud to report that this column is being fuelled by an unhealthy mix of Pocky, Malaysian sugar cookies, and some sort of disgusting yet delicious seaweed jelly candy, which doubles as a hilarious projectile weapon in a pinch!

Probably not the wisest choice for someone with my cornucopia of health concerns, but hey - it won't kill me for at least 20 years!



Ramblebox
Hmm.. FFXI's battle theme is good.. If only battles were long enough to get to the good part

-AL  


L E T T E R S
Captain Obvious to the rescue!


This letter is mainly regarding the question Friday about Square producing games for the XBox. I haven't heard much about Square producing games for the XBox, but it is true that Microsoft contracted Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi to produce some exclusive titles for the XBox 2.

As for a question, have there been any more developments uncovered about the new Legend of Zelda title coming out? As in a release date or anything? Or has it all been a cruel trick in order to keep any more Nintendo and Zelda fans from jumping ship?


ANDREW


Thanks for the reminder on Sakaguchi, but we've been talking about that for the past couple weeks, so you're a little late with that particular bombshell. As for the new Zelda title, there has been no firm date announced; the only thing Nintendo has revealed thus far is that it hopes to release the game by the end of this year, which likely means we're in for a holiday release, assuming development isn't further along than I think it is.


Tubawhat now?


I remember Spring Break 1992, when I would visit my dad who was teaching in Tuba City (yes, Tuba City), Arizona. Some buddies and I rented an SNES and Zelda:Link to the Past which had just come out. We stayed up really late every night that break looking for pendants and swords and crystals. That Dark World mirror thing really blew my mind. I couldn't sleep for months until Zelda was my very own. She is one hot sprite, said my pre-teen brain..

Ke Da-Wei

FORMERLY The Evil Taiwanese Bushiban Teacher and
NOW The Evil American Music Theory Professor


ANDREW

She sure was, Ke Da-Wei. She sure was. I remember well my own first encounter with the game; it was Christmas, 1991, and we were in the smoky deathhole known as my Uncle Colin's brother's house, where it seemed the adults were doing their level best to see who could smoke their way through a carton the fastest. As my virginal lungs could takes no more, I headed for the basement in search of air, and while the intermittent sneakings down of adults to check on us ended up polluting said air just as utterly, I did manage to catch my first glimpse of LttP, being played by my... well, they weren't actually my cousins, and "Uncle Colin" wasn't actually my uncle, but "dad's friend's brother" sounds so awkward, doesn't it? Anyhow, those kids? Yeah, their cousin, he was playing it, and I watched all the way through the first three dungeons until my mother finally got tired of choking down smoke and dragged us all home.

All in all it was great fun, and while I did come down with a nasty case of bronchitis the following week, I never forgot how awesome that game was, though I would never end up owning it until two years ago when I finally bought it off eBay.



Ah, Feep.. You never fail to incur my ire ^_^


Having recently received my latest EGM in the mail, I was astounded to find two (and possibly three) tidbits of news that I actually DIDN'T already know beforehand. First and foremost, apparently, as a preorder bonus for the upcoming Gamecube Zelda, they offer the full game of Wind Waker (with two added bonus dungeons!) completely remade in the new, realistic graphical style. Do you agree with this? Despite the criticism it took, I thought the cel-shaded look fit so well with the atmosphere and design of the game...looks like Nintendo caved in...
ANDREW

Provided that latest edition isn't for April, which would make me highly suspicious of that story, I would say that story fills me with murderous rage. Wind Waker's look was part of what prevented it from becoming an utter bore by the end, and if they screw around with that, all you're really left with is a drawn-out fishing expedition with some mildly interesting dungeons tossed in to break up the oppressive dullness. So yes, I agree with you fully.

Second on the agenda, apparently EGM has had contact with several higher-ranking executives who have now seen both the next-generation X-box and the PS3...and apparently, although the X-box successor looks fantastic, the PS3 is orders of magnitude more powerful. Thank God. I don't care whether it's Sony or Nintendo, but someone needs to dig a grave for those bastards over at Microsoft, and since an enormous part of Microsoft's user base consists of brain-dead teenagers who care only about graphics, this should wound them quite nicely.

And third (?), their "Rumor Mill" section had reports of a new Soul Calibur being released by the end of this year. Hooray!

Oh, and Devil May Cry 3 is impossible.

- Feep "Yeah. You have to redo the WHOLE mission."


ANDREW

Can't we just all grow up and stop hating on Microsoft just because it's Microsoft? What about hating on Sony for a while? Seriously, what has Sony ever done for you? Every time a butterfly flaps its wings in Korea, another PS2 falls apart like a cheap tent, and it certainly hasn't done much for RPGs or gaming in general during its stay at the top. Oh, and guess what? A large portion of Sony's user base consists of brain-dead teenagers who care only about graphics too! In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that a large portion of MY user base consists of.. um, brain-wonderful teenagers who care only about graphics, so it's not like people being into games strictly for their looks is anything new. At least Nintendo encourages something resembling innovation to go along with the prettiness; Sony just encourages the bottom line, and it's not even very good at that, if its incipient regime change is any indication.

At any rate, I'm highly skeptical of "higher-ranking" executives, several or no, since A)I don't know where these executives come from, B)I don't know why MS and Sony would be so eager to show their systems off to random people in advance of the blowout that promises to be E3 2005, and C)"Unnamed sources" haven't had the greatest run in the past year, if you catch my drift. At any rate, maybe it's true, but I still think you're cheering up the wrong tree. I hope Sony fails miserably, because Sony is starting to disgust me.



Obviously not very hard <.<


Andrew,

I'm playing Growlanser 3 now, and I have a question about a possible side quest. In the village of Taoberia, there is a boy who runs up to my party and asks for help to cure his brother's poisioning. He says he needs a doctor to help cure his bro's poision, but I don't know what to do or how to proceed in order to pursue this sidequest if one even exists.

Any advice about how to deal with this?

BTW, I looked through a couple of faqs already about this, but they don't mention any way to handle this, so I was hoping that you knew something about this that no one else does.

Thanks, if you can answer this; I really appreciate it.
Velvet


ANDREW

Apparently your glance was cursory at best, since a search for "poison" in the first FAQ I turned up revealed this exciting set of instructions on the second match: "...Annette could do it if she had her mother's notes. Three choices will come up.


- Hurry!
- Someone should help.
- You can do it! (Choose)

Slayn will convince Annette to try and off the group goes back to Voltone to get Annette's mother's notebook. Go to Annette's mother's room in the mansion and examine the open book on the desk. She will create the "Secret Fever Tonic". Return to Taoberia, give the boy the Tonic and it will cure his brother. Annette will receive the Title "Aspiring Chemist". Now that you have saved the kid it's time to press on with the adventure. Fix the Underworld Gates as you go south towards Delfina.

Isn't that super? Hope it helps, and if it doesn't, the full thing is available, under section 33, at this random site.



Tantric FFVII


Dear he-who-answers-the-questions-that-are-sent-by-the-people-so-that-they-can-be-answered-by-he-who-is-you:

My favorite Spring Break would be last year, when I played FFVII. The reason I waited so long was that alas, I did not have a Playstation, but one day I stumbled across a great discovery: THERE WAS A PC VERSION! I bought it within 48 hours. Anywho, I got it like 2 days BEFORE Spring Break, and then I had a tonsillectimy. Whilst recovering from said tonsillectimy, I played FFVII, and I got to the SPOILER part that Tuesday. And yes, I cried. It might have been just because my throat hurt like hell, but I think I would've cried either way (I'm a guy)... don't hurt me. Anywho, I didn't have time to finish it (dern projects) so ended up finishing like 2 weeks later, playing on non-homework days. Then.... I beat it... on Friday night... and I woke up the next morning... and my dog died. Frodo 'twas his name. We told him not to run after the cars... but... but...

Okay, I'm back to normal now. Also, I JUST got my PS2 like 3 weeks ago (FFX is awsome!), and I have FFX and Kingdom Hearts. Anywho, I was wondering: Which game should I get first, FF8, FF9, or CC? I don't want to get Xenogears until summer (so dang long). Also, how long is Valkryie Profile, compared to other RPGs?


ANDREW

Hmm.. Do yourself a favour and skip the PSX FFs entirely. After VII, it's a bit downhill, so do yourself a favour, keep up the awesomeness, and grab Breath of Fire V. You can thank me later when you realize you didn't have to wade through either the excruciating third disc of FFVIII, the even more excruciating third disc of FFIX, or any of CC, which is a miserable excuse for a sequel. If you're absolutely dying to pick up another game, though, you might think about grabbing the PSX copy of FFVII. I'm in the same boat as you; I played the PSX version about 15 hours first, but when I got around to buying it, I ended up opting for the PC version, and I have to say, the music is subpar, although I still got the shivers when "Birth of a God" faded to black and "One Wing Angel" started up a few seconds later. Dizzamn that was an awesome moment.

That's right.. I use lousy ebonics in the place of blasphemy.. So sue me. I was raised Catholic, and some things are hard to unlearn :P



Random FF attack!


I am a hugely gynormous fan of Final Fantasy. I absolutely love the old school games, and while I can understand why it happens, it irritates me to an extent of a murderous rage when people confuse Final Fantasy III on Famicom with Final Fantasy VI. The man reason is that on most boards pertaining to Final Fantasy III for the DS, there are tons of Final Fantasy VI Fanboys who continue to ask things like (is this the game with kefka and terra) although there are many topics which try to clear up the confusion. But, to my point... I was just wondering if Square has disclosed any more information about Final Fantasy III for the DS. They seem rather tightlipped about the project, and I wish I had at least one screenshot of the gameplay. I love the game as I have played it, and it really does deserve a place in American video game libraries. Any bit of info would be greatly appreciated.

ANDREW

Nothing doing, my friend. Square Enix has been surprisingly mum on the topic of the DS remake, which probably means it's nowhere near ready, at least for the North American release. If I had to guess, it'll either make its first appearance at E3, or at the fall TGS show, the latter of which makes more sense since that would be perfectly timed to drum up holiday sales (and presumably, there isn't that much work to be done on the game since much of it was ready for the WSC before that project had the rug yanked out from under it).

As to your gnawing rage, I suggest you get over it; as long as there are people who loved Final Fantasy in the SNES era, there will be people who refer to FFIII as FFIII, because well, it's FFIII, dammit! This newfangled "VI" business is just not something us old-timers have an easy time of absorbing, so cut us some slack.



More spring breaking


Yo Andrew,

People are gaming during spring break? Get outta here. Nah, I'm just messing with ya, man. My best Spring gaming Break was spent hack-n-slashing with .hack: Infection. Well... it's the only thing that comes to mind when I have to make a conscious effort to remember what I was playing in a given period of time. Anyways, I thought the idea behind .hack was pretty spiffy with all of the "world inside a world" thing and four part story arch. But then I remember the side effects of too much gaming and not enough sleeping; a super-sized kick in the face headache. The pain was worth it for the story was well paced and constructed for a first installment, but the dungeons really did have the same monotonous look and feel to them. Have you even touched the .hack series or did you decide that the whole idea of a simulated, linear MMORPG was just stupid? Either ways fine cause I dropped it after the second installment.

By the way, to the person who asked Goog about other bands like the Postal Service, I recommend dntel (electronic), the Flaming Lips or Broken Social Scene. If you're into more traditional rock/ indie pop, try Built to Spill's Keep it Like a Secret. Take care, V.

"He wouldn't stop talking. Like a parrot of the sea he was!"
- Zoidberg (Futurama 4th Season, episode 12:The Sting)


ANDREW

Tsk. Dntel, eh? He is, if I remember correctly, the person behind the electronicy-sounding aspects of various TPS tracks, so it makes sense that you'd give him the nod, and Broken Social Scene is indeed another excellent choice, though I'm not too hot on Built to Spill and I haven't really encountered much Flaming Lips. Either way, reasonable noms, and two points for not going with the obvious choice!

At any rate... Ah, the gaming headache. I remember that feeling well, the hot-frustration in the stomach and the "BLAH" feeling that would accompany me for a couple of hours after any serious gaming binge. It's part of the reason that to this day I still can't stand Sunday evenings(the day a 3-day rental always came due), no matter how much Simpsons Fox throws at me, and similarly why I so enjoy online gaming on Sundays and wasting time on IRC then as well.



Randomblings


Andrew-

Well, finally I have something to say. I read the Q&A column about every two or three days, since it gives me something to do at work. I love to read your reactions to some of the worst written emails I’ve ever seen. To answer your question proposed in last week’s column, I’m going to write about love in RPG’s. Since spring is the season of love.
ANDREW

Last week, last month... It's all good!

Firstly, I’d like to comment on the reasons why some people hate “love” in RPG’s. Video games have become a recognized art form in the media, and we, as gamers, should treat them as such. Just because one person doesn’t like the relationship between Squall and Rinoa does not mean that Final Fantasy 8 was a horrible game. I happen to be a fan of FF8 because of its interesting storyline and its deviation from the norm. Obviously, the scenario writer and script writer spent a lot of time figuring out ways to show the evolution of the relationship between the hero and the heroine and how it played out within the storyline. I don’t believe that is an easy thing to do either, seeing as a majority of gamers are relationship-less and do not understand the underlying messages between two would be lovers.

However, after the downfall of FF8, Square abandoned the love theme and brought Final Fantasy back to its normal roots. In FF9, I felt like the relationship was forced because it’s the stereotype that gamers will buy.

Final Fantasy X tried the relationship theme again and I felt that they did a wonderful job showing the evolution of Tidus and Yuna. However, many of my peers believe that this side story was tacked on and should not have been included. I do not feel like it was tacked on as an after thought, but a well thought out transition between human drama and “end of the world” drama.

Even without the love theme, many RPG’s that focus on character interaction are faulted by the gaming media. I look at Xenosaga and see genius. Suikoden II inspired a sense of camaraderie with the main characters that no Final Fantasy has ever done.

I applaud Squaresoft for trying to get gamers to care about their characters. Unfortunately, it seems that a rapid decrease in characterization is to follow this general lack of response to these themes.

-Jason


ANDREW

I will agree with you that Suikoden II did a wonderful job of taking 108 characters and making you care about all of them, as well as the excellent job Konami did of developing the relationships between Nanami and the Hero, and Nanami and Jowy, but I will not agree that Xenosaga constitutes genius, nor will I agree that Square has been routinely pilloried for its inclusion of romance in its games. If anything, it's been extensively copied, and really, I can't think of a Final Fantasy game that involved actual characters that hasn't involved a romance, so it's not even anything new. From Cecil and Rosa to Locke and Celes to the annoying love triangle (Square if you include the date with Barrett) of FFVII to the two you've mentioned and Zidane and Garnet, each of the series has focused on these love stories, not included them as mere sidequests.

FFX in particular may have been about the Summoner's journey first and foremost, but it was also about the Summoner's personal journey, as cheesy as that probably sounds. At any rate, I think this emphasis on the romantic side of the story is necessary to any good plot, because at the core of most stories you will find a romance just waiting to break out. I'm not saying I necessarily approve of this, since I can just as easily do without it, but it has expanded the core audience of RPGs enormously, and I know a lot of girls who got into RPGs because of those love stories, which says to me that there might just be an ulterior motive for their inclusion. At any rate, I'm probably going to get killed for being sexist or something, but I think that part of the reason that Square's RPGs have such a wide-ranging appeal is that they tell this sort of story, and even though I personally could care less about it, romance is an important part of storytelling, and as storytelling is at the core of any RPG, the two are tailor-made for each other.



Finally...


Yoyoyo.

About those Secret of Mana orbs: I heard that the lack of glove and axe orbs in the game is a result of a bug in the game... At some point late in the game, you'll apparently find a chest with at least one of those orbs turn into one of those book enemies if you don't get it right away, leaving you with no other option than to kill Space Crabs until you get them.

Also, know of any decent ARPGs for the PS1/PS2 besides Alundra, that actually got released in Europe? And, no, I'm not thinking of the kind where you get stuck into a ToP/Star Ocean-style battle system whenever you bump into an enemy? -- - Person -


ANDREW

Hmm... Europe complicates things a little. Still, SotN is at your disposal, and if that doesn't work you could always import BFM to sate you. Other than that though, I can't really think of anything offhand.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

So ends another weekend, at 3 AM Monday morning. I really need to do something about that x.x For next week, at any rate, I leave the floor open to you; I'm sure something will come up between now and then, so be sure to follow the news, cuz I sure love discussin' it! Especially over creamsicles...

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long lives a life of mystery, and drives a stolen van. A GREEN stolen van.


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A GREEN stolen DELIVERY van. WAHA!

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