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ASK ANDREW
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April 23rd, 2007

Andrew Long - 3:03 EDT

WELL, it was bound to happen. Nigerian mail scams, like some sort of misguided, sleazy Pokémon of the intarwebs, have evolved into a new and sillier form. Now Dr. Mike Larry, whoever that is, distraught at my failure to help him (trust me, we're old friends!), has nevertheless managed to find a backer in Brazil, and because he's just so taken with my unhelpful ass, he's set aside 500,000 AMERICAN DOLLARS for my personal use! Isn't that nice of him? I thought so.




LETTERS
Randomblings


Hello Andrew(I swear I'll try and get the names right for the hosts)

Even though it's a free topic day I'm going to make a quick comment about Jack Thompson. The man is an idiot, but thankfully he's the loudest most recognized person who's saying that games are bad. Since he is so unpalatable people(or should I say the public) have started ignoring him as a matter of course. This is a good thing since if he could actually pull together a good argument against games he might actually be able to affect something. I could say a whole mess of things about people trying to run other people's lives but for that I'll direct everyone to the Showtime show Bulls$#!% with Penn and Teller. They have an excellent one on manners.
Andrew

Meh. Sad to say, I cannot conscience a recommendation of that show, which, despite its purported attention to both sides of an issue, trends uncomfortably "here's the libertarian, by which we mean neoconservative, view on things, it's swell... now, this liberal side? LOOK HOW STUPIDS!" Or so it seems to me. Nevertheless, I haven't seen the one on manners, so who knows!

I'm currently in a game funk. I bought Ar Tonelico and Super Paper Mario recently. On top of that there is the backlog(I try not to think about how long the average male life-span is, I hope that someone comes up with those life extending nanobots soon). But I have no desire to really get into an games recently. I played Ar Tonelico for a little while and really enjoyed what was going on there. But then I got Mario and that's fun, though the text is aggravating, but I've got no real drive to finish it either. I've been distracting myself with Mario 64 on the Virtual Console. But it's no RPG.

Does this happen to everyone? I figure it does, so I was curious when other people have their "funks". I figure mine can be chalked up to summer rolling in up here in Alaska. It's when I get busier with work and all. How about you?

Ken

Andrew

I hear you. I abandoned FFIII when the last dungeon proved to be a hateful bitch, and I'm sure not getting any closer to hopping on the Strahl and dragging the Bahamut out of the sky, and meanwhile, another five games I want have hit shelves, which will no doubt find themselves on my incomplete pile in due course. So don't feel too bad; you're not the only one who could use a good dose of nanobots.



Po-ke-mon! Damn, why is everyone playing this game but me ;_;


Hey Andrew,

Pokemon Diamond is really good so far. I know, it's the same thing as previous games, but I think they made enough additions (thanks to the DS touch-screen) to make it rather good. Do you plan to get the game (or perhaps already have it), and are you going to catch 'em all?
Andrew

Well, fellow RPGamer staff member Rob's coming to town for the week, so I imagine we will probably end up with one Pokémon each.

I wanted to say that I liked Secret of Evermore and am one of its few supporters. Say what you will, but I thought it was well done and interesting. Certainly the Alchemy system of the game beats FF8's Draw system hands down... but then, picking on FF8 is like picking on a physically disabled kid... Was there anything in Secret of Evermore that you would like to see in other games? And do you think it's worse or better than FF: MQ?
Andrew

Enh. The Alchemy system was certainly original, but if it were to be reused it would have to be in a game with a much more entertaining battle system. And don't be so harsh on FFVIII; if you actually played the game instead of just trotting out GFs anytime things got hairy, it was actually a pretty good battle system, besides which if you play enough Triple Triad, which is, in my opinion, the best minigame evar, you really don't need to draw much of anything save new spells and GFs.

As far as embarassing moments in games, if you've played Kingdom Hearts II, you'll remember a mini-game involving singing on Atlantica. I confess that I really enjoyed pressing buttons in rhythm to the very-fruity song called "Swim This Way." In fact I played the game a couple of times because I enjoyed it so much... I'm just glad my friends weren't around at the time. I may have missed it, but did you mention your most embarassing moment while playing a videogame?

Cheers,
- Waterfiend33

Andrew

Ah, no I didn't. Before I mention mine, let me just say I understand what you mean there; Topo's rave dance party in BFM had much the same effect upon me. As for most embarrassing moment? Probably anytime someone who didn't play RPGs walked into a room while Tidus or Yuna were speaking; my dad rolled his eyes and shook his head several times, with comments like "why are you playing this?"



More Pokémon


Dear Casto,

So this Pokémon thing? I've NEVER played any of the standard Pokémon games. I played Snap back in the day, but that doesn't count. Is there anything you would suggest for someone that's never touched the series or are you in the same boat as me? I'm really excited about online play, but just can't stand the thought of some 9-year old kid trash talking me while playing Pokémon. I think more RPGs should take advantage of multiplayer features, like Luminous Arc, Disgaea PSP, and Dragon Quest IX are going to, don't you? I don't know how I feel about it being a major aspect of the game, but if it is a well-developed feature, you can't beat that, eh?

Well, that's it for now.
- Macstorm

Andrew

I am indeed in the same boat as you; while I played a little Pokémon Red back in the day, I didn't ever get very far in it, and I'm about as astray as you are (though I may indeed pick up Diamond, as I mentioned in the previous letter; it's getting some unreal hype, even for a Pokémon title). As to 9-year-olds trash talking you, trash back! If those little snots are willing to give you lip, well, you just gotta give it right back, even if it does shatter them forever. And yes, the more online features, the better, because anything that improves replay value is a plus in my books.



Wow... Freetopickal, this certainly is, Bhadra!


To whom it may verily concern,

FREE TOPIC???!!! Then I shall step from the shadows of simple readership and respond for the first time... At any rate, my question is: Have you ever played an rpg that you've loved and could possibly claim to know like the back of your hand only to discover something really neat about it on another playthrough? I certainly have and I have a good example too:

Skies of Arcadia Legends and I certainly have a thing going for each other (as I run through it at least once a year or more), but I've come to learn things about it that always surprise me. The fact that the menus and overworld map all contain a made up alphabet that directly corresponds to the English alphabet is one of the bigger ones (thanks to an SOA fansite I came to know that most of the things written on the map and in the various menus have some interesting translations indeed). That most of the primary air ships are named after constellations is another one (Aquila, Delphinus, Draco, etc.). Also several secondary characters are named after real world currencies (Drachma, Guilder, etc.). These were things I realized before the almighty wikipedia hit the scene, so these little discoveries were kind of exciting when I stumbled across them. I know there are others, but the end-of-semester-rush to get papers and what not put together has my brain more than sizzled...perhaps Kasizzled is more accurate?

-pseudonym

Andrew

Hmm... Game gaining new life? Hard to say. I don't tend to replay very many games, so I'm not sure I can really say I've experienced this much, except perhaps in games like Super Mario World, where after failure the first time through I managed to find the last few levels to make it to 96 stars.

And you'd better believe Kasizzled is more accurate, because anytime you can invent a word, well, you've got to use it endlessly until it catches on. That's for kerfunkdit!

Word of honour: you will never again see a Just Shoot Me! reference in this column.



More on everyone's favorite lawyeresque individual


Hey! Crazy/busy weekend so I couldn't write in earlier but here's what I think.

It's easier to stand out from the crowd when you have something extreme to say. Jack Thompson has (consciously? unconsciously?) picked this particular subject to have an extreme position on, and it coincides with the fears that non-gaming adults have about these crazy things that our youth play called games, where they run around killing things the entire time. We fear what we don't understand, man!!

I think that people with a violent streak enjoy violent games more. I don't have any evidence to support this of course: it's just what I believe. I've heard that there is evidence both supporting and disproving the idea that violent games bring out violence in their players, so I guess we can't really know about that either way. Perhaps this is to be looked at on a case-by-case basis? This of course makes it harder for legal and political things, and lawyers and politicians prefer to make simple, large sweeping statements about everything (in my opinion).
Andrew

Which is all to the good, in my opinion. I have no problem with ESRB ratings, they at least restrict content from younger viewers, but beyond that, the government has no business telling people what they can and can't play (and anyway ESRB isn't a government institution, it's voluntarily done by the game companies themselves).

I just got Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and I played through an hour or so of it. I love the music in the first dungeon! I think I'm going to enjoy this one... Breath of Fire III is one of my favorite RPG's, and I like BoF IV. I feel like the team behind the Breath of Fire games recently are really trying to make these games into an art. What do you think? Take it easy, -Leviathan

Andrew

Oh, dude, you just happened upon one of my favorite subjects: the awesomeness of BoF V. Yes, you are going to enjoy it, and while I'm not so sure you'll find it terribly artistic after the 20th dank passageway, the game itself is rock-solid. From the cel-shaded awesomeness to Mitsuda's best low-key soundtrack that I can think of (nuts to you, Xenosaga) to the excellent story to... well, suffice it to say, BoF V is one of my top 3 PS2 RPGs, and definitely in my top ten overall, and possibly in my top five. Just make sure you save often, don't use the party xp, and store whatever you can in the lockers, because you will die on your first playthrough, and you will need to restart.



Square Enixry


sup Andrew?

What do you think of some Square Enix big wig recently saying that the company is going to concentrate more on remakes, re-releases, and sequels in the future?

Well, I certainly hope that they're done with the first two Final Fantasies, as they've been whored to Neptune and back. But as sick as I am of them diluting the Final Fantasy franchise so shamelessly, I can't say that I'd mind a Final Fantasy VI remake on the DS or a new Parasite Eve or something, so I guess I can't complain.
Andrew

Perhaps not, but I can't see how they could possibly concentrate any more on FF remakes, cuz by my count there's been a remake of FFI every year since 2003, and most of the other 16-bit and earlier have also seen multiple re-dos, to say nothing of the clump of FFVII-spinoffs.

Conveniently enough, I hear that there's gonna be a Square Enix party in a few weeks. Foreshadowing, perhaps? This recent statement, along with the statement that came out a while back about an "unknown" Final Fantasy game being touted at the SE party, should make one wonder if they have something up their sleeves. Though, I wager that it'll end up being something uninspiring like Chocobo Tales 2 or a game for the Wii where you slash around Cloud's big-ass sword. I'll take those over a FFVII remake for the PS3, though, cuz really, I'm sick to death of hearing about that game, in all its overratedness, and I don't want to have to hear about it for another 10 years.
Andrew

Heh. Well it sure ain't an FFVII remake; that particular theory was shot down in flames after it was revealed by ex-RPGamer staffer Cortney Stone's simple Google search that PSU's "source" on their recent story about such a rumoured remake was in fact based upon a story at dailygaming.net which stated that a PS2 port of FFVII would be coming in July to Japan, which bizarrely enough will be paired with Final Fantasy II. It would seem that the PSU writer failed to notice the word "port", and then the site's editors failed to do any fact checking. S-E's Japanese website contains no announcement, and as such, I think it advisable that we all laugh and throw rocks at PSU.

Anyhoo, maybe I just don't have a mind for business, but I don't understand how SE's concentration on "polymorphic" content and spin-offs of old IPs is going to work out for the company in the long run. If you dilute something enough...eventually there's just not gonna be anything left. I know that the phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies especially to business, but it sucks that the company has all but purged consideration of original IPs for the sake of tightening its death-grip on Japan's gaming economy.

But eh, I guess it's for good reason, maybe. It's not like they've churned out a worthwhile IP in the past like...forever. I think the last one that really went anywhere was Kingdom Hearts, and even that borrows from Final Fantasy.

Anyways, I guess my real question is this: are those check-yourself-out lanes at Wal*Mart freaking awesome or what? I haven't been starred at for buying an embarrassing item in days.

Andrew

Heh. I haven't seen those lanes at Wal*Mart, but I have seen them at Loblaw's, a Canadian grocery chain, so I call thievery on Wal*Mart! In other news, you're forgetting Radiata Stories and that... series (I want to say Code Age Commanders?) that came out in Japan only. Granted, I think it was based upon an anime, but it's still non-FF. I think that S-E's love of the sequel is just indicative of the way the market has been in recent years, and until somebody demonstrates that pumping out new IP consistently can be a winning formula again, companies will largely stick to whoring out that which they already have, cuz hey, it's working now. Even the little guys like NISA do it, and don't even get started on such repeat repeat offenders like Konami and Capcom.



And now, a dissenting viewpoint (seriously, he disagrees with me on everything ;_;)


Andrew:

I dunno whether you want to run this next weekend or not, since I'm not going to ask a question or discuss RPGs, but I call BS on those anti-gun letters in your column. I especially enjoyed the person who flamed Jack Thompson for trying to subvert the First Amendment, and then proceeded to advocate measures to subvert the Second Amendment.

I'm well aware that there's a difference between gun control and being anti-gun. I'm calling BS on both. Making underage drinking illegal (i.e. "controlling" it) results in what, exactly? A nation of sober-headed young adults? Hardly. If you're 17 and want alcohol, guess what? You can get it.

I am by no means a conservative; in fact, I'm Libertarian. That's why I feel so strongly about this. As a person who embraces freedom above all other values, I feel a particular fondness for those clauses in America's founding documents that guarantee me things like, oh, the right to bear arms.

Obviously if you can't get a gun you can't shoot people. That's like saying, "If you don't score more points than the other team in basketball, you can't win." Duh. But HOW do you keep guns out of the hands of the criminally insane? Hint: you can't. Gun control, as I've said elsewhere, simply means Honest Joe can't buy a gun, but Sinister Sam will still find a way to get one. And, if Sinister Sam is going to be packing heat, I'd prefer to have some form of defense myself. What would have happened if Cho would have stormed that dorm room, and one of the people in there had had a gun and knew how to use it? Tip: if the "bad guys" are using guns, it's not a good idea to take guns out of the hands of the "good guys."

People are entitled to their own idiotic opinions. I'll defend their right to have those opinions (with, you know, FORCE, if necessary). But I just can't comprehend an individual who hates Jack Thompson for urinating on freedom, when they themselves are taking a dump on it.

-Jeffrey

Andrew

I'm sorry, but I just don't think the second amendment was meant for things like automatic handguns and assault rifles, however much the NRA may protest thusly. When that amendment was made, the most devastating weapon on the market was a musket, and people were only just coming out of the age of medieval weaponry. I grant that a crossbow probably wouldn't be much use in keeping the king of England out of your hair, but I also don't think that the amendment was meant to turn America into a country with tens of thousands of firearm deaths per year and an economy pitifully dependent upon the production of weaponry and other military toys.

I also take issue with the whole "but if someone had a gun on campus..." argument. Yes, it is possible that someone with a gun could have taken out the killer, but the fact remains that until a crime is committed with a gun, there is nothing to react to, and I therefore feel that a bunch of people carrying around guns is ultimately just going to result in that very thing happening; someone getting killed, be it the first person to pull out a weapon or the thirteenth.

Finally, your argument against gun control is slightly facile; while there will always be guns, as you say, any form of control is likely to reduce the total number, and as Department of Justice statistics show, increases in overall gun purchases (in constant dollars) correlate rather strikingly with homicide rates. So while criminals will certainly go out of their way to purchase guns, if you reduce the total number of guns available, you reduce the likelihood that people will become gun-toting criminals in the first place. And then there's the matter of domestic violence. It is much easier for domestic violence to escalate when there's a gun handy, and it's much more likely that a gun will be handy if it is easily and legally available.

In any case, I concede that I am unlikely to convince you of any of this, and anyway I'm not American, so it's really none of my business in the end. We have our own firearms-related woes up here, from the "OMG US GUNS" I mentioned yesterday (which in my view is a silly cop-out and more of the anti-Americanism our politicians fall back on too often when their policies or popularity tanks), to our gun registry, which is widely seen as a gigantic waste of money and an ineffective tool besides.

Also, to those of you who are thinking "WAH GAMES" at this point: I'm emptying my inbox, so this is it for this topic :) Well, unless Jeffrey wishes to rebut anything I've said, which I suppose would only be fair.



oh, Bainick.. why? Why did you have to go and say that?


Hey ANDY
(Yes yes DIE and what not)

So Pokemons coming out in Australia on Thursday (well its the soonest they can import it in from America anyways) and just wondering if you have it yet, or are planning on getting it? And do any of the new Pokemon catch your fancy?

Anyway I got nothing to talk about in RPGness until it comes out (I havn't touched FF12 in 3 weeks, I think they're still wondering that Viera forest, oh well sucks to be them).

So speak to ya later

Bainick, the guy that shortens your name and then you say DIE, you know the thing we got.

Andrew

I am planning on getting it, but I must confess, I have limited knowledge of what Pokémon can be found in the game, so I don't really fancy any of them at this point (and if your mind was in the gutter when you asked that question, well, all I can say is, go write to Otterland). As to the Viera forest, may I recommend: go east.





IN CLOSING

Ahhhh. There we are, a nice empty inbox for Matt. Muhahaha. Well, not that he'll care; he's too busy being nervous about his impending thesis defense, which I understand will allow him to be called the Master of Maths or something to that effect. It's kind of over my head, I got a 27 in first year calculus and abandoned all pretense of having any inkling of mathematical acumen. So head up to your prayer towers and send him your wishes of luck and more importantly, your sweet, sweet Edge-reviving HP.

As for me? I'm outta here for the weekend. Until I see you next, may all your mishaps be creamsicle-related.



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Andrew is sauntering off into the sunset.


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