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ASK ANDREW
Ahhh, That Could Be Any Mayor! March 26th, 2005

Andrew Long - 2:58 EST

THERE'S SOMETHING NICE about finding a new Chinese place to eat at, especially when that Chinese place serves Crispy Ribs with Salty Spice. I highly recommend it. Culinary predelictions notwithstanding, I am back, and while I am mightily tired, I assure you, my vast weariness grants me +10 to sassback and a rastafication of at least 7%. I should note, however, that I am apt to mix up my random quotes, resulting in a terrible mishmash of woebegotten sayings, and that's just a crying shame.

At any rate, you may have noticed in today's MMORPGamer that Heath was recently in the Toronto area. You might think that I would have agreed to put him up for the evening, and you would be right; unfortunately, however, I misplaced his phone number, which significantly added to the unpleasantness of the tail end of his trip. As such, I just thought I'd apologize publicly, because what fun is humiliating failure if you can't share it with others? Anyhow, the moral of the story: always make sure I write something down when you tell it to me, because otherwise it's more than liable to go missing.

Actually, that's a pretty lousy moral. The real moral is never talk to strangers.

Okay, fine. I never pretended to be Aesop. I think I'd better quit while I'm ahead...



Ramblebox
And by "ahead" I mean "partially coherent"

-AL  


L E T T E R S
A dilly of a pickle? How delicious!


Hey Andrew,

Ok, so with the release of the PSP and the already-released NDS, I am faced with a conundrum.

The PSP looks amazing on all accounts, not just for games, but all of its other functions, too (of course, I'd really get it mainly for gaming). The graphics are incredible for a hand-held, and while I'm not a graphics whore, are definitely impressive. The wireless capability is nice, and Sony so far has done a great job of gathering a large portion of the gaming market since they released the PSX.

The NDS on the other hand, is made by Nintendo, which (with the exception of the Virtual Boy, if you can call it a handheld) has a stellar record of releasing quality handheld gaming systems. Also, so far it looks like there is going to be a good slew of third-party RPGs coming out for it. FF3 and Secret of Mana, remakes as they are, are great games that I would love to be able to play on the road. And you can play all those nifty GBA games, too.

So I don't know. They both have great points. I think I'll wait for more games to come out to make a decision, but what do you think?

This is rather unrelated, but is there any news of a new Monkey Island game coming out (its not an RPG, I know, I know)? Just in case you have some information. Those games are awesome, and there need to be more like them.

Ourobolus


ANDREW


I too am reserving my decision until a few more games are added to the mix. It certainly looks as though this Lumines game everyone keeps talking about has some sort of demonic powers of possession, but even as Tetris grew tedious after... well, 45 minutes or so, I'm sure Lumines will eventually cease to be an addictive force of musical enjoyment, so at this point I'm not really too tearful about missing the PSP. So too does the NDS currently lack a sufficiently alluring library of titles to make me regret not spending the money, so until some of those titles you've mentioned do show up, I really can't see myself going for either. Ultimately, if the Square Enix titles that are apparently slated do come through for the NDS, I will probably go that way, simply because a portable version of Secret of Mana would rock. Even so, the PSP does have a lot going for it, so for all my fake angst yesterday, I'm not necessarily so against it that I wouldn't consider picking it up some day. I sure as hell won't be paying $300 for it if I do, though.

As for your Monkey Island query, this is the most recent thing I could dredge up. If it is accurate, then I would have to say no dice.

YOUNG CHARLES BRONSON


This ain't ovah!


The joy of semantics


Are specific Rating Descriptors sometimes not warranted? The "Mature Sexual Themes" rating descriptor is honestly all that is keeping me from purchasing titles such as the Dot Hack series and La Pucelle, and I hear that the highest a Teen rated game is allowed to go is "Mild Sexual Themes." Also, what is the most proper way to type Dot Hack? Thank you.

ANDREW

My friend, you have the privilege to live in America, the land of the sexually repressed, so basically, anything above the ankle counts as mature sexual themes as far as you're concerned - at least, it must in order to have any bearing on La Pucelle. Granted, there's a few sexily clad characters strutting about, but a) they're sprites, and b)...seriously, they're freaking sprites! Pick up the damned game and stop worrying, it's really not going to poison your mind nor endanger your soul. I can't really say what the deal is with .hack, though... I would imagine, however, that it's more of the same, with the exception that instead of scantily clad sprites, you'll probably encounter a few scantily clad SD polygon models. At any rate, unless your religious convictions are such that you are outraged by the sexual themes present in Who's the Boss, I don't think you'll have any difficulties here (though I bet I've screwed everyone else up real good by lumping "sex" and "Judith Light" into the same mental ballpark.)

Anyhow, I think it's ridiculous that either of those games bears the "mature sexual themes" label, so go crazy. It's not like you don't have access to a hundred times worse just by entering a few terms into a search engine. And the proper way to type .hack? .hack, of course!



The S-E question, part 1


I am just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to being impatient, especially when my curiosity chord has been stricken by a company like SquareEnix. The last time I can remember them doing this announcement of an announcement thingy was Drag-on-Dragoon, everybody had been expecting the next Chrono game. So now I find myself asking the same questions as back then... Could they be reviving another older game or game series? They did it with the Musashi sequel without making a huge fuss over it, so that leads me to believe its something totally different and new... but a guy can hope, right?

Not that new titles are a bad thing, they definitely aren't. But there are some specific things about specific rpg's that stand out and you tend to miss these elements in every other game you play over the years. The creepiness of Parasite Eve (though the sequel sucked royally), the battle system of Vagrant Story (ironically a more appropriate title would be "forgettable Story"), the smooth rolling gameplay of the Seiken Densetsu series (Legend of Mana had great artwork but missed out on the gameplay element that prevous ones had) and lets not forget about Einhander, they could turn that into an Rpg somehow, they somehow managed to make one about Chocobos. I just think that many companies are going overboard with mainstream series like Final Fantasy, Namco's Tales series (even though it's one of my favorite). I just want to see older franchises pick up, because being rpg's I know I'll never play through them more than once, its just not something that I nor alot of other people do. I know you'll arguye with me on that point, but truthfully most of us only have time to play the newer games.

Anyways, now for my question about Marl's Kingdom. This is Nippon Ichi's tactical rpg series, it started out as a regular rpg series if I'm not mistaken with "Rhapsody" or as many like to refer to it as Crapsody. I just wanted to know... aside from the first two games on psx (the second not being one we got in NA), which PS2 titles are actually from this series and why should I play them?


ANDREW

Umm.. Phantom Brave and Disgaea. La Pucelle also, though I suspect you already know that, since you've sort of hinted at it there. Why should you play these games? Why, indeed? I have to tell you, I didn't touch La Pucelle or Phantom Brave, and while I hear PB's pretty tasty, I honestly lost interest in Disgaea to the extent that I'm really not too keen on dropping another fifty bucks on something that could conceivably lose my attention just as easily. The reason I ended up growing indifferent was the randomly generated content; in order to really build characters, it is necessary to play a fair number of random battles, and in the end, the variety inherent in the maps is not such that it ends up being particularly enjoyable after the 90th hour. It is, however, much like Diablo, in that you can pick it up after leaving it for a long stretch and be entertained for a while. Thus, if you enjoy binge-style gameplay, you should go for all three, because you'll be set until the PS3 comes knocking. If, on the other hand, you're looking for something more solid, well... Don't go looking at Rhapsody, because it's the worst game I've ever played.

And the sequel question! I don't think games that didn't do well in the first place really warrant sequels, not unless they're the fourth or fifth in a series of games. If something just doesn't have that distinctive feel after two installments, chances are a third won't do much to remedy the situation, and if it does, it is more likely that it will stand on its own, since games like that have a tendency to be isolated (BoF V, anyone?) I should mention an interesting possibility I encountered in the IRC news channel today, however; I didn't consider it, but Star Ocean IV seems as likely a possibility as anything.



Rambling S-E mystery question part 2


Da Da Da DUHHH!!! Thanks for posting my last email (in which I mean the email preceding this one and not in fact the last I ever send... Its time to dance the happy dance!) it filled me with an odd happiness and some numbing sensation in my left ear... but enough of that.

Square-Enix announcing something? I never knew. What will they announce you ask? How about a delightful romp involving 3 very contrasting young ladies on a quest to recover magical marbles that happen to show KEY events that uncover the story bit by bit unveiling the hideous true form of the game itself! Oh wait no... they did that already.

Well truthfully I think it will perhaps be the Seiken Densetsu they are making for PS2??? Does anyone remember that? They released a couple of artwork images and were recruiting staff... I'm sure they said it was for the PS2 specifically. I would hope it will be Chrono 3. That would be awesome!!! Then again, you say its unlikely because Chrono Break trademark has been dead for some time but if you can see trademarks isn't there one that stands out to maybe HINT at this new game???

Ahhh... question... um... Ok another DS one here... Egg Monster Heroes. Likelihood of coming to US or Europe??? Cause I never heard of it before this DS game was shown and apparently there are a few Egg Mon titles already. Looks Eggcellent!

Cheers
Kablamoo


ANDREW

As I mentioned yesterday, I did a cursory inspection of the US trademark database to see if any of the big name series had seen a new addition recently, but all the ones I could think up turned out to be dead ends. Having now checked Star Ocean, I can report that it, too, hasn't seen any new action lately.



Sure.. I don't see how that relates to your gripe, but sure!


Dear Andrew,

next-gen sucks. Doesn't next-gen suck? I think you would agree that next-gen does and will always suck (until it becomes the new old school). As I was sitting here playing Shining Tears and loving it, I thought to myself, "I should look at some video game reviews, to see if anyone out there agrees with me about Shining Tears." But those darn reviewers (boo! boo!) are panning it because it's not "next-gen" enough, meaning no voices, special effects, flashy graphics, or obtusely confusing elements of gameplay like judgment wheels or fighting styles. So my question is, have you ever played a game, and then read a review from which you could easily tell what the actual hangup was? Like for example, that the game was clearly too hard for the reviewer to excel past the first few episodes in the 2 hours they played the game to get where the gameplay changes completely. Also it is my understanding that the "industry" of video game reviewing (while it may be a horribly lucrative and corrupt syndicate of self-promoting insider-wannabes) is supposed to provide a certain "diversity" among their gaming review staff to accommodate the most video gamers, and thus, enhance their target demographic (IE having an "RPG guy" and a "Sports guy" like there is a weatherperson and a sports person on a news show). I guess my "news show" style interpretation of a video game reviewing staff is largely unrealistic, but shouldn't that at least be close to their goal? Also, of the reviews I personally read, I also prefer to take a look at the reviewer, to see if perhaps we have similar tastes. I was wondering if you do the same, or if you even look at reviews from others before purchasing/renting/stealing a game. Also, do you think that as the reviewers get younger and younger, old-school console RPGs will get sucked into the void of Final Fantasy X-2 style development?

P.S. A couple of reviewers introduced their ST reviews with something to the effect of "for all of you gamers to play after Ys VI" but I always felt like Ys got a pretty cold reception at the end of the sales day. What gives? Did more people play Ys VI than we were led to believe? (Personally, I really liked Ys 3-6)


ANDREW

I'm not quite sure what sort of reviews you're referring to. If you mean those published by people employed by various publications, I think that by and large, most places will attempt to make some of the considerations you're talking about, but at the same time, it makes neither financial nor practical sense to have eight different people review a game for your site, simply because it is much easier to promote a single review and to argue that your site has a certain uniform approach to reviewing games. Ultimately, that's how most sites will think; one review is, after all, a lot easier to process than 3 or 4, and while it doesn't offer the same diversity of opinion, over time, a review staff comprised of several people will end up getting enough games between them that the minor differences in outlook will balance out.

Granted, it's not always how RPGamer does it; our review assignments are generally based upon whoever has the physical means to play the games we receive to review, and so it's not as though we're basing reviews upon our expectations of a reviewer's opinion. At any rate, yes, there is the potential for a single review to end up being biased, but that's why sites like GameRankings.com exist. Ultimately, after you read through five or ten reviews of the same thing, you should be able to pick up on what works and what doesn't, because even if people have a different overall viewpoint on something, there are only so many ways to interpret a battle system or story.

That's the way I do it when I want to gauge the overall opinion of something; I go to rottentomatoes and read as many reviews as I can find that disagree with my perception of that thing. That way I can be prepared for the sorts of arguments I'm likely to encounter as to why my opinion might not be valid, while at the same time formulating my own arguments as to why it is. Then I read the agreeable reviews and find other things to reinforce my perceptions with, and in the end, I come away with a pretty well-rounded and generally accurate expectation of what I'm getting into (or if I do this after the fact, conviction that my opinion is valid.) In conclusion, then, if you do rely on reviewers, never ever read just one.

P.S- I'm not sure, to be honest; I haven't seen actual sales figures, it just seems that a fair number of people are raving about Ys. I will confess to helping that along, but I do think there has been a certain level of support there that Ys titles haven't generally been able to generate in the past.



Don't call me Andy >:(


Long time reader, very few time replyer heh,

Dear Goog (As i suspect this will be up Sunday, if not Dear Andy!)
ANDREW

You die one thousand deaths now!

Ok, i want your sincerest opinion on Video Game movies. I know this is an RPG site so include FF:TSW. But i want your opinion on games turned into movies. Like House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark etc etc. My Opinion: I loved FF:TSW, it fit exactly what it was supposed to. With Sakaguchi-San's mother dying and everything at that time and him questioning life and afterlife. (I will say though that him being Japanese, youd think he'd have more of an answer with Shintoism/Buddhism, being Japanese) My opinion of House of the Dead was that is was a li'l weak but the kick ass action sequences made up for it. I havent seen Alone in the dark yet, so no opinion yet. (Tara Reid is hot though)......I will admit, i Loved the Super Mario Bros Movie back in the late 80's/early 90's (Not sure when it was released) But id like to know your take on this subject that seems to be Integrating at an expotential rate these days.... Avid reader, Greg (A.K.A Package)


ANDREW

You want my opinion? Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD! First, they usually give them to asshat directors like Uwe Boll who couldn't detect a sound cinematographic concept if it stabbed them in the face, and then just to add insult to injury these open sores of stupidity inject nonsense like stupid alien subplots and random car chases on the theory that "GAMEPLAYERS LOVE TO BE IN THE ACTION" or some such nonsense. Then there's FF:tSW. That movie is a special brand of suck, and it pisses me off especially because with the amazing visuals the Hawaii studio turned out, they should have been able to make something watchable. But no! Sakaguchi foolishly took a direct hand in the writing, and hey presto, it sounds like a video game, which is not something any respectable movie should do, and that was enough to critically sink the movie, which meant no change to the status quo. Shoddy writing is the biggest problem in RPGs today, and it's the biggest problem in movies based on games, too. Dialogue should not sound wooden, motivations should be more believable than the one-dimensional strokes every videogame character in the history of the medium has received, and yet in the face of that logic, movie executives continue to approve these ridiculous projects that are doomed to miserable failure or at the very least, universal pans.

So that's my take, Greg. Movie people are content to sink a few million bucks into perfectly respectable videogame licenses because they know the fans will probably generate enough box office revenue to make it a viable undertaking, and the movies continue to suck, which ensures that nobody even approaching reputability will want to have anything to do with anything that has even been within ten feet of a console. The video game people, meanwhile, will continue to associate themselves with this sort of thing because not only can they improve the value of their franchises with movies, the pretty special effects and actors probably stroke their egos like nobody's business (and given the dearth of decent writing in games, they probably don't realize how much the film rendition of their efforts blows). I see no reason for this changing, because it's obviously profitable enough to make tinkering with this flawed formula unnecessary, so until people like you finally stop settling for the garbage spewed forth by the third-rate hacks that Hollywood inflicts on gamers, that's all we'll get.

And if the net result of Sakaguchi's existential angst is that "spirits from other planets have red souls and our blue souls can't deal with that" then I can only surmise that his mother's rest is peaceful indeed, having been spared the hack psychology so lovingly eschewed by her sappy son.



Oho


Actually, according to a recent IGN article, the PSP's sales have been extremely inconsistent, but mostly, not so hot. It seems heavily populated cities do well, but almost everywhere else, there's quite a surplus. Oh well.. Give me a game I want to play and I'll give...wait...hell no. I'm not paying over 300 dollars to play some portable rehash of generic stale Playstation franchise. I'm AMAZED there isn't a Tomb Raider on there. Yet.

And in the awesome news category, how about the continuation of the Dear Friends tour, specifically to the southeastern United States in Atlanta, Georgia? I am SO going! Tickets are gonna sell quickly, I guess, so I better get my hands on a few soon...

Oh, and by the way, I severely doubt will unveil a new expansion to FFXI. Time is rolling on, but the storyline from the previous expansion (Chains of Promathia) STILL isn't complete, with the next two chapters coming in a patch in late April, and who the hell knows if those are the last two anyway. As far as I know, on my server, only 12 North American players are currently at the end of the CoP storyline thus far...it's really, really hard. So I figure it'll be some new franchise that won't interest me. At all. Oh well.

- Feep "Nyoh!"


ANDREW

Thanks for sharing, Feep. I too am amazed that no Tomb Raider has been announced for the PSP, because it's exactly the sort of thing I'd expect to see touted as an example of the system's 3D powers. It's also strange that only heavily populated areas are doing good sales, but then again, heavily populated cities tend to include a number of high earners, and since most kids aren't going to want to drop 300 bucks on a handheld, a bit of extra pocket money can't hurt in the equation.



Unfit for Print


where did the chocobos comefrom i need to know this as soon as possible

ANDREW

Is Square still running that bloody contest where you have to find out where chocobos come from? I could swear that was going on months ago. At any rate, I have no idea if you're talking about whatever justification they've come up with for stealing them source-direct from Nausicaa or if you mean the movie itself. If, in fact, you're looking for the root source, though, that's it; a 20-year-old anime that just became available in North America thanks to the magic of Disney's protectionism. GO TEAM! Also, pay better attention to my sidebar. Also: do you really think I want to do all the dirty work for you so you can enter whatever that stupid contest at PlayOnline is? I hope you lose, you lazy sack of crap!



Very very Unfit for Print


here is my spin off report. this is how i see all the game spin offs i thought should be done and not done. let me tell you i did it in 4 sections. i wanted to share it with your readers why dont you share your thoughts on it Paine P.S. this will be my final send in till something hits me big time to send in the questions Square-enix spin off ideas.

---snip
*here follows a delightful and bafflingly laborious list of every character in every major release done by Square in the past ten years. No, you don't want to see it*

---/snip


ANDREW

Okay, first... What. The. Fun. Where did you get the time to compile this useless list? Secondly... are you daft, woman? I know we've been talking about it for the past week or so, but I really don't care about the vastly important spinoff applications of every crappy character Square has churned out in the past ten years, and I certainly don't care enough to read through this lamentable list. Please, find something better to do with your time! I honestly can't think of a single useful purpose for this list, and I feel bad that you actually spent time compiling it.

Also, if you are not female, I apologize, but you should know better than to use a female character's name if you don't want to be mistaken for one.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Well then... I really must try to avoid having my buttons pushed like three of those last four letters did in the future, because it makes me feel like a big belligerent jerk. Then again, I am kind of a big belligerent jerk, so I suppose it's only natural that it would shine through from time to time. That is all for me for this week, anyhow, so until we meet again, may your mishaps be creamsicle-related.

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long knows we'll meet again, some sunny day.


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Keep shining through, just like youuuuu always dooooooooooo, and I know we'll meet again some sunny day!

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