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ASK ANDREW
Secret Column Daguerro
April 21th, 2007

Andrew Long - 19:06 EDT

EVEN NOW, seven years or so after its release and three FFs later, I still think FFIX is pretty much the best soundtrack in the series. At least, the best by Uematsu; I quite like FFXII's, though overall I think IX's is a bit stronger. In any case, I don't imagine you're here to discuss the relative merits of FF soundtracks, so let's get to the letters!




LETTERS
a real love-hate relationship


Dear QnA person...people...whatever:

I love to play the Legend of Heros games for the PSP, but it seems that no one ever has anything good to say about them. Sure, they are cliche and the translation is...less than great, but they have solid classic gameplay and I do enjoy the storyline in the first two(haven't gotten around to the third, but it's coming.) Also, I play the new Shining Force games. Again, I don't exactly hear bad things about them(except NEO has the most horrible voice acting ever, thankfully EXA has much better voice acting), but I don't hear anyone say anything good about them, either. They are pretty awesome, though...in my opinion. I could go into why, but it would probably turn into a review.

Anyway, I seem to have a problem and from reading the mail from the other day, it seems I'm not exactly alone in this problem. I've got a stack of games that I haven't even opened yet. Backlog, you know how it is. However, instead of opening these new games, I go back and replay old games I've already finished. For example, I just finished my 7th play through of Suikoden 5, the best game I've ever played on a console. I was even in the middle of Rogue Galaxy...but I just got the urge to play Suikoden 5, so I popped it in and started playing it. Maybe it's because I had been playing Rogue Galaxy for 15 hours and the story hadn't really gone anywhere. I mean, stuff was happening, but there was no main plot to the game. It was getting kinda boring. Maybe it gets better later, but I dunno. I'll find out eventually.
Andrew

Well, Suikoden 5 certainly does have plot going for it, and I'm hard-pressed to say which I like better, 5 or 2. One thing I would say, though, is that it does follow the archetypal Suiko plot, which, so far as I can tell, has appeared in every Suiko with the exception of III, which puts a slight twist on things by having a kajillion different protagonists (I haven't played through Luke's storyline yet, though, so I have my suspicions about that possibly containing said archetype.) This still doesn't prevent 5 from being a plenty awesome game though, and in terms of execution, it outshines its predecessors, so I must agree with you there.

I also haven't finished FFXII yet, either...but for different reasons. I love the game, but whenever I sit down to play it, I have sooo much stuff to do, I get overwhelmed and my desire to play the game falls pretty quick. From what I gather, I'm pretty close to the end...I need to fly to Bahamut and I hear when you do that, there's no turning back. Sure, I could go into it, but I have so many things left unfinished that I would hate to leave unfinished...and I really don't have the nerve to start it over again so soon. Too much to do.

Anyway, have fun and all that.
Matthew

Andrew

Yep, I'm in the same place and having the same problem; I've got three espers and a little over 20 hunts left to go, as well as about 65 or 70 rare game to track down. I know all that is largely extraneous and I should just go on and beat the damned game so I can get on to my giant backlog, but thems the breaks. As to your backlog problem, all I can suggest is that you lend Suikoden 5 to someone else so that you're forced to play other games.



Ah, that old saw


Hey Matt!

Grandia 2? Man I remember that game. To tell you the truth, it was one of the reasons I bought a Dreamcast back in the day. After playing through it, I was severely disappointed. I loved the whole idea of the religion of the people being a big, fat lie, but what made me mad was how they ended the game. *SPOILERS!* I hated how they handled Millenia's sacrifice and seemingly miraculous appearance from within Elena. You had to fight Millenia on your way to the last part of the dungeon, but it would have made more sense if the battle knocked Millenia back to her senses instead of it being a clone. Ugh. And do NOT get me started on the craptastic end boss. Sure it was satisfying to crush him, but boy did he look lame! A freaking loating HEAD?????? Ah hell, the end boss in Shin Megami Tensei 2 was cooler looking than that! */end SPOILERS!*

When it comes to crappy games that i can't help but love, there are two that stick out in my mind: Secret of Evermore and Rising Zan: the Samurai Gunman. I loved Evermore. Evermore was one of my favorite games from the SNES era due to the fact it was something compltetely different from what was released on our shores at the time. The humor and the setting really made it work for me and it is sad that no one liked it because it wasn't Seiken Densetsu 3.

Rising Zan is one of those games that is so bad it is good. the reason for that is its bizzare sense of humor. The opening cutscene truly sets the stage for the sheer wierdness that is to follow with Zan running into his friend the bar keep. After Zan goes on about how he is an ultra sexy super hero, the barkeep looks at him funny and asks what the hell is wrong with him. It then just gets wierder from there, and that includes some of the most hillarious acts of ninja cruelty ever used in a video game. This is a game that you have to see to believe. It's a hard one to find, though. If you want to see one off the hokiest games ever made on the PS1, you gotta find Rising Zan!

Witecat

Andrew

I've never heard of Rising Zan, sadly, but I have to say, I didn't dislike Secret of Evermore because it wasn't SD3 - I don't like SD3 either - I disliked it because it just wasn't up to the standard of Square's other releases of the time. It was short, the alchemy system, while not difficult, definitely involved a little too much hopscotching about the gameworld for my liking, and the "sense of humour" didn't tickle my funny bone any. Beyond that, I also got stuck for ages in the part where you have to move a statue on the chessboard, and that's enough to take the enjoyment out of any game. Just for added spite, the mansion area also felt tacked on to me.



Zuh?


I've been known to replay Shadow Madness for PS1 every year or so. When I first start a new game, I become depressed with the banal visuals and mediocre mood. But, as I progress in the game and finally reach the wider world map, I can't help but fall under its spell. I always smile fondly when I think back on the months of teenage youth I spent on the adventures of Stinger and Friends. This is truly a bastard son of videogames; It has to be loved for what it is, not what it could have been.

Andrew

Thanks for sharing, guy between Zohar's two letters. I didn't have a PSX at the time Shadow Madness came out, so I'm afraid I can't reminisce with you; I'm glad, however, that you've found some measure of enjoyment from what was, by most accounts, utter bilge.



You know, people, I DO THE COLUMNS ON SATURDAY!


Hey, Matt

I don't believe I have sent letters in before, but now i may or may not make some sort of random habit out of it. Without further chatter, let me start with todays hot topics.

Storylines. I have seen many good storylines. But one that has stood out in particular was the story of multi-layered treachery and manipulation that is Final Fantasy Tactics. The plot displayed unusual amount the shades of gray between good and evil, in particular, Delita, whose actions had quite a central role. However, the rather complicated story was at times a pain to follow, due to the horrible job the translators of this game made. This brings us to an another topic: the PSP. Seeing how good job Square-Enix has done in re-translating many of its latest remakes, it would be expected that the worst part of this great game will be no more in the remake and, for me at least, it alone would almost justify buying a PSP. With all the other games coming (not FF 1+2, mind you, i have played through them quite enough already), i do not see why not.
Andrew

Handily enough, my sister was foolish enough to buy a PSP shortly after launch, so not only do I not have to justify the purchase, I might even be able to con her into buying FFT!

I regards to the overworlds, it would be a great shame to see them go, seeing how Dragon Quest VIII showed the true potential of combining this old concept with modern technology. I believe that the very concepts of overworld could be even further improved from that and place great faith in DQ IX in that matter. But, whatever should we do if Dragon Quest too would abandon the overworld? Is that a realistic threat, with the series in process of great renewal? I hope not.
Andrew

Ehhh. I like overworlds, but I have no real problem with the FFXII style of doing things, much as I was initially appalled when FFIX first introduced the point n' click map airship system. I think that while losing the "yay I'm flying" sense of awe you get when you first get to see a gameworld from the sky for the first time is too bad, that other things can be done to compensate for it; for instance, in FFXII, when you progress to the point in the game where you'd normally get an airship, you end up in Phon Coast, which has music bizarrely unsuited to the setting (most RPGs tend either to make coastal music laid back let's-smoke-a-doobie-style tracks or something suitably Celtic to say yes, that really is a lot of water). Instead of the usual deedling, you get a grand piece with blaring brass and metroid oohs combined into a concentrated ball of awesomeness that, in the end, lends about the same feeling of progress. So... While I do hope the Dragon Quest series keeps its overworlds, ultimately I think S-E knows how to soften the blow represented by their loss if the time should come when DQ breaks into the FF mode of mapless full 3-D.

Awful game that i like? Surely you have heard of the Legend of Dragoon, by all standards, a mediocre game at best. But no matter the dull battle system, whacked out level progression, or unimaginative characters, I liked it. I have little idea why, but I did. Do you have anything positive to say about this game, that would explain it?

Enough writing, more to follow on later days. Maybe.
-Shadowchancellor

Andrew

Oh, dude. No. Just no. Legend of Dragoon is an irredeemable bit of hack work, copied so shamelessly from Final Fantasy VII that it still pains me to think about it, lo these many years later. I played through it, to be sure, and the battle system was enjoyable, but the sheer volume of suck surrounding it just does not justify ever touching it again. Seriously man, if you like that junk, go buy Super Paper Mario or one of the M&L games for Nintendo handhelds; they contain the action-oriented battling without the ponderous story and terrible music that weigh down LoD.



Supremely Fit for Print


Hey matt

I'm about to cover 2 different recent discussions first is a game that got bad reviews that i liked and that would as was stated by someone else grandia 2.. only i was smart i go the pc port of it.. why the pc port? you ask? simple it didn't have lagging towns on it.. it all ran smoothly and at 1024x768 it was muy prittier to boot.. though i play all my games on the computer even ps2.. dvd tuner cards where would i be without you..

but the other would be much the embarrassing moment when playing a game... and this is a doozy i tell you.. it happened 2 years ago and i had borrowed GTA3 from my brother and was playing it.. now i know he's liberal with what his children experience but i had no clue just how far his wife took this when i was over at my grandparents house blowing off steam by running people over and as i drift around a corner i miss one telltale blonde woman in a red miniskirt and jacket.. and my niece at the time 4 years old and sitting on my grandmothers lap points and flat out says "you missed the hooker" i paused the game covered my head with the pillow i was leaning on and laughed for a good 10 minutes. the very fact she knew it was a hooker was one thing.. but letting on to me grandmother who is a level of prudish that puts tipper gore to shame is a total other

heh though i'd let you know that and later days

Otaku Nick

Andrew

I tip my hat to you, sir; it's not often that a letter cracks me up, but yours did the trick and then some. The question is, what did your grandma say?





IN CLOSING

Hmm, these topics seem to be going strong; just for fun, though, do you think media gadflies extraordinaire Dr. Phil and Jack Thompson were too quick to point the finger at gaming this week in light of the tragic events at Virginia Tech, or do you subscribe to the belief that gaming does have some sort of impact on these things? Do you think RPGs have any relevance to this discussion, or should they be set aside from this particular argument? Do you think that providing media coverage of these events only encourages more people to emulate them? And just what's the deal with showing 15-year-old footage of Doom? I know I'm puzzled!



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Andrew is hoping this topic doesn't inspire some sort of hellstorm.


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