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ASK ANDREW
Chop, Chop, Dig, Dig! May 26th, 2005

Andrew Long - 00:03 EST

WELL, L.A. was every bit the dirty stinkhole I had been led to believe it was, but I still managed to enjoy my week at E3. It was cool to finally meet the people behind the IRC nicks, and the live roundtable was... interesting, at any rate (although my friends, heartless bastards that they are, have assured me that they turned it off after five minutes because we sounded like "a bunch of dorks".) Now, I'm no big-city nerdlinger, but it seems to me that I could have gotten plenty dorkier.

Or maybe not. The point is, The Elder Scrolls IV is going to kick ass and even if I was rabidly anti-Nintendo, they deserved it after that poor excuse for a press conference. "Yeah... we're Nintendo! WORSHIP OUR PAST ACHIEVEMENTS AND VAGUE GREY BOX!" is not inspiring to me, however many times you call me rabid. I expect better out of them, dammit.

I also expect better out of you, you naughty little monkeys. Three letters? You are outnumbered by spam now at a factor of 12 to 1, which will only worsen as this email address ages, so let's fight some rearguard, shall we?




L E T T E R S
Shining: tedious map-making exercise or eerie powers? YOU DECIDE... With this axe! (Chop, chop, dig, dig...)


Dear Google,

I would like to know about the game Shining in the Darkness on the Genesis. I've considered getting it, but I've heard some say it's a classic while others say it's entirely tedious. I have a feeling that many who say the latter probably never played RPG's of its type. What's your take on the game?


ANDREW


You've pretty much nailed the range of opinions that exist concerning this game, so I don't know exactly why you need our help, but as I have played a fair bit of Shining in the Darkness, I will confirm for you that it is, in fact, the only worthwhile project ever engaged in by the fine people who would go on to form Camelot Software Planning. If you have read my column for any length of time, you will know that this is pretty much tantamount to the finest endorsement a game could receive, since my reactions to other titles released by Camelot range from vomiting with rage to setting my face on fire to block out the pain of it all.

At any rate, SitD is most definitely a dungeon crawler, and you would most definitely benefit from graph paper while playing it (although if you're lazy like me, the internet hosts many fine maps made by other, more industrious gamers whose wasted time was spent for your benefit), but at its heart is some pretty addictive gameplay along the lines of any old-school RPG. If you're really feeling intrepid, you can also try tracking down Shining the Holy Ark, the direct-ish sequel to Darkness, which even makes a pitiful attempt at 3D in a dreadful presage of things to come in certain realms that may or may not be referred to in direct connection with their relative "Beyondness" to other areas also beyond the realms of... well, playability, but that shouldn't stop you from picking up the two Shining titles, even if a certain canine enemy in the first forest dungeon of StHA is likely to reduce you to tears of laughter at its first appearance.



You know, for someone who's trying to remain anonymous, your email address sure gives away a lot of info


hey, hate to be annoying, but remember that tiny little section for fanfiction? What's going on with that? I mean, I know it's closed down and all, but is it getting archived or is someone taking over it (I have too much to do myself) or what?

Anon


ANDREW

Hmm. I do apologize for the confusion surrounding the timely demise of fanfics; certain things were said that shouldn't have been and others that should have been were omitted for some reason. On the upside, E3 is now past, and so we now have the leisure to rebuild things. Thus, to answer your question: the archives will remain fully functional until such a time as we retool the section and relaunch it, which we are aiming to do as soon as we can be assured of a reasonable level of reader participation.

We do not feel that the current setup is conducive to garnering sufficient participation from readers, and so to that end, I am going to be investigating how we can improve the experience. What I can tell you is that when the section returns, it will be a lot more interactive than it currently is, and there will be fewer (and different) people running it. For now, however, fanfiction is in limbo, and it will remain that way until it can be the section you guys deserve.



A year ago called... It wants its haircut back, and while you're at it, could you give it last week's lottery numbers?


Yeah I wanna know whats going on with the whole Mistwalker studios and why the Final Fantasy creator left Square Enix. Also, will there be a remake to FF VII and do you think it is a good idea to remake this title

ANDREW

While the exact reasons for Sakaguchi's departure from S-E will likely remain known only to Sakaguchi himself, it's not hard to think why he might want to jump ship while the jumping was good; much of the good talent from the Square end of the operation had, by the time Sakaguchi left, already bolted for other development houses, and the last few projects he oversaw didn't exactly shoot the lights out. In short, all indications were he needed a change of pace, and if it just happened to disassociate him from the cloud of stink hovering over S-E in the wake of tSW and a succession of mediocre releases.

As to the FFVII question, I direct you to our E3 feature. If you haven't heard of any of the various FFVII titles found there that are currently under development, you are beyond my help. I recommend checking into a monastery.



Ah, More Friends...


Q&A soverign,

I've been patient, and I've waited. It's been over a week and we've gotten no reviews on the "More Friends" concert. Have you heard anything about it? Do you have any sites that review it? Thanks.

-CaptainG22


ANDREW

Ah, my sincerest apologies. You see, I actually did throw together a quasi-review of More Friends in my E3 journal, but since I have yet to see any of those posted, I guess you're still in the dark. To that end, allow me to recap. It was a breezy Monday night. After getting suckered into "CD Soundtracks" that actually contained mostly OST versions of the songs being played, the RPGamer staff deserted me and all went to sit in VIP seating. Bastards. I got stuck in the Log section, where I was seated directly beside the most annoying person in the entire concert hall (and this included any number of halfassed Turk cosplayers whose idea of a costume was sunglasses and washing their clothes for once.)

Anyhow, things kicked off slightly later than expected, and stupid Tidus garbageface (also known as James Arnold Taylor) was the emcee, much to my distaste. The opening number, the Bombing Mission sequence from FFVII, was awesome, however, so I was able to repress my irritation for the time being, although both Taylor and Arnie Roth suffered repeated microphone failure, which was actually a blessing in disguise in the case of Taylor, at least until he inadvertantly got it working again and started talking loudly offstage during Aeris' theme. In case you haven't caught on to the general theme of my discontent thus far, it is twofold: one, the abysmal technical execution of the evening, and two, the giant asshat beside me, who for some reason laughed at each and every stupid joke that Tyler spouted. These jokes were many, and ranged from soundbites of his godawful battle quotes to dumb jokes about how FFX was the best Final Fantasy. Anyhow, after he finished stroking his ego, the orchestra played a total of six numbers, which were marred only slightly by Taylor's repeated interjections, the popping of a poorly disconnected amp which visibly jarred the conductor and irritated everyone in general, and the instrumentation, which for some reason was not what I've heard in other orchestral versions, mostly to my dismay.

Following the orchestral section, there was a short break while they fixed the amp and hopefully brained whoever was responsible for all the technical mixups, although they continued to have trouble with both the microphones and properly aiming the spotlights. After the intermission came the best part of the show: the Black Mages rocked out, and although it might have been nice if they'd played one of their good songs, the two they ended up going through were certainly well-done, and the high point of the evening. Regrettably, Rikki came right after, and she still can't sing, so I got to sit through not only five minutes of fatuous praise for her dubious talents (could she at least hit the high notes once in a while?) but ample evidence that my opinions were not misplaced. Applause and uproarious laughter cascaded to my right, leading me to frenzied contemplations of sweet, sweet murder. Lacking any sharp implements, however, I settled for wishing death upon him, which unfortunately failed. The next singer, Emiko Shiratori, was much better, and while Melodies of Life isn't really my favorite song, it was well-performed, and mercifully, Taylor didn't even say very much about it.

After that, the orchestra cranked out a couple more pieces, a crappy reworking of the prologue, a questionable version of the FFVI overworld theme that sounded entirely too much like somebody from Camelot had snuck in and reworked it while Uematsu wasn't looking, and a nice, if workmanlike, version of Don't Be Afraid. Thereafter, the crowning piece of the evening awaited: a version of FFVI's opera, which, while omitting a couple of parts from the song, was very well-executed, though unfortunately in English. My dad once told me that the reason he could listen to opera was because it was in Italian, which spared him any actual understanding of the lyrics. Nobody took this into account with the More Friends performance, unfortunately, and they didn't even stick to the script, which turned a questionable set of lyrics into something almost laughable. The female lead was, however, throbbingly emotional, and the singers playing the duelling princes did their jobs well, so in the end it came off well.

Unfortunately, the end did not come off well at all. Uematsu originally planned to give the audience a sneak peek of the version of One Winged Angel that will appear in FF7:AC, but regrettably, the band failed to synch up with the orchestra, the sound system failed miserably several times, and in the end it took four tries to get started properly. That said, once the song did get going, it was sweet sweet wonderfulness, and although the choir's mic was, surprise surprise, not working, they belted out the altered vocals gamely and managed to make themselves heard over the inspired din of the new version.

All in all, Uematsu was thoroughly embarrassed by the shameful technical execution of the concert, and it was a position he should not have been put into. People paying between forty and ninety dollars for tickets have the right to expect better, and I can only hope that subsequent tour stops turn out better, because the crappy effects ruined what was otherwise a pretty decent concert. Still, there were a number of standout pieces, and overall, I would rate it a 3/5.



:o


Hey there, ive been watching the e3 coverage on G4 all week, and the one game that really stuck out to me was the elder scrolls 4: oblivion, but after seeing the trailor not much else was mentioned about it. Since i basically base all my buying of video games from the website, i was wondering what your opinion of Oblivion is. Also im a big lunar fan, and the screens ive seen for lunar genesis look horrible. I also just wanted your opinion of that game too.

___-----Fayt----___


ANDREW

Not much was mentioned? NOT MUCH WAS MENTIONED? I SLAVED OVER A HOT STOVE FOR THAT STORY, AND IT'S THE LONGEST I'VE EVER WRITTEN! Seriously though, check out the dirt we got here. It's been rebranded an impression for some reason, but don't let that put you off - I just take really complete notes.



Unfit for Print


What with the healing spell that always goes first in a turn in Wild ARMS 2, that game should appeal to all the RPGamer reviewers who complain about enemies being able to "beat you to healing" in turn-based games. Hello? I thought part of the strategy in turn-based RPGs was being able to plan ahead for at least more than -one- turn!

--
- Person -


ANDREW

Zing! For the win! OH SNAP! And so on. Before you run your mouth off with teh funny, did you ever stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, Google isn't one of those reviewers who meows everytime a game becomes more difficult than running a hot knife through butter? I also notice that neither the letter writer nor Google mentioned anything about that impacting on the strategery, other than to note that WA2 is a big ball of poo. In conclusion, only I may zing others.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Okay. Let's all send in letters tomorrow. The topic is up to you - Elder Scrolls, E3, Fire Emblem, RPGamer's adventurous slime patrol - let's talk!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long hears digging, but he doesn't hear chopping!


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