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ASK ANDREW
Catlings Ahoy
April 28th, 2007

Andrew Long - 2:53 EDT

THIS COLUMN WOULD HAVE COME YOUR WAY A LOT SOONER, but it's just impossible to resist gushing over three newborn kittens. In fact, I think I'll go gush over them RIGHT NOW!

three hours later

So anyway, this column would have come your way a lot sooner...

Oh, also, someone sent me a clarification last week; apparently, while Mitsuda was the musical director of BoFV, Sakimoto actually did the arranging. To him I say, I don't care, Mistwalker doesn't do much of the gruntwork on their games and I still say they're by Mistwalker, so nyah.




LETTERS
Let's start things off with some silliness


I'm not getting the hang of FFXII! I keep dying all the time. I don't think I've ever died this much in any other RPG, let alone a FF...

Zohar Gilboa

Andrew

There's really not that much to get the hang of. You set up some gambits so as to not die, and then make sure you don't wander into areas that are too high-level for your characters. Other than that, staying alive usually isn't too great a challenge, though I do concede, I haven't died this much in an FF since the beginning of the series.



Alan decides that Tidus's abilities make for good nicknames


Dear Andrew

After reading a certain editorial on RPGamer lately, I decided to submit an editorial about an RPG experience of mine that it reminded me of. However, before I get around to that, I think I need to ask this first.

See, I'm planning on writing about RPGs that have really low level caps, using Star Wars KOTOR as my example experience. There are many RPGs that let you level up to really high levels, like 99 or even into the hundreds (and I hear that some NIS games let you level into the thousands O_o). What makes the games that I'm writing about different is how they only let you level so far, and certainly not to a point that you can overpower any boss just by level grinding. Furthermore, KOTOR also allowed you to learn new feats and spells at different levels, and gave you a lot of options. But because you can only reach up to level 20 in that game, it was impossible for you to learn everything, so the game forced you to be picky about what to choose before running out of levels.

My question is are there are many other games like this? (Besides KOTOR, every other RPG that I have falls into the variety that lets you level grind to towering heights where you can learn EVERY skill and/or spell in the game.) Was there ever a time when this kind of RPG was in abundance, and on which platform(s)? And if you know of any RPGs like this, could you tell me their names? Thanks, answering any of these would help my editorial-writing.

FirstAid (yeah, that's my nickname now)

Andrew

Well, I'm not sure if it's actually the case, but Jade Empire followed much the same trajectory in terms of levelling, and while the upcoming PC RPG The Witcher won't have a low level cap, to the best of my knowledge, if things remain as they are, the skill trees will function such that you'll be forced to pay the opportunity cost for whatever ability you do choose in sacrificing other abilities. This sort of setup is also apparent in pretty much every MMORPG out there, along with level caps. So perhaps you could focus your editorial in that direction (KotOR, after all, is modelled somewhat after the typical MMO system).



Hmm... Die against the last boss, or use this megalixir...Well, what if I need it later?


Hello Matt or Andrew,

I am a very frugal RPG player; not in the real life money that I spend on RPGs, but inside the game. I am the type of person who will not buy lots of items or the best new equipment at each town I pass through in my quest. As such, I am often left with a whole bunch of money (gil, whatever) near the end of my quest. Lately, I have been thinking about the impact that being such a penny pincher has on my game playing experiences, and it all boils down to choice.

By spending all the money you have as you get it on items and equipment, you are able to progress the game at a much faster pace in the begining. This is due to the fact that you'll have the healing items and shiny copper armor which will protect you from a good deal of damage at the start of the game. The benefit is easy to see, as you wont have to waste time hanging around the first town in a game (for healing purposes) grinding only for levels to handle the monsters you come across, or, at least not as much time anyways. The downside is that later in the game as items get more expensive, you might not have the scratch to spend on the best equipment, thus having to spend your time grinding for money instead.

So my question is this... What type of player do you prefer to be?

- The frugal type who has plenty of money later in the game because you saved up for the best equipment throughout your adventure?

- Or... The spend all I can to help me through most of the game easily, but be left grinding for money at the end type?

-thinkfreemind

Andrew

Hate to say it, tfm, but I've never really had the problem you speak of. Most games nowadays are set up so as to allow for minimal levelling when trying to save up for junk, and while the odd game back in the day (I'm looking at you, Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy) required some wandering about, it wasn't a matter of choosing between doing it early and doing it later, it was a matter of doing it both times. I remember many a game where I spent ages wandering to and fro in search of enough gold to buy the copper armor you speak of, and then, a few hours later, sneaking around near Cantlin trying to get enough money for a fire sword (flame sword? I replay FF fairly often, but oddly I haven't beaten DQ in quite some time.)

So I guess what I'm saying is you're completely crazy.



Not sure where this topic came from, but I <3 Baigan so I'll allow it!


Who could forget Seth, the creepy archaeologist in Phantasy Star IV? He joined for one dungeon (which was killer for leveling up, because his techniques could wipe out an entire enemy party in one hit), then turned out to be the boss when you reached the end.

Honorable mention: when Baigan "joined" the party in Final Fantasy IV and turned out to be a monster ten whole seconds later. I'm still disappointed that we didn't even get to see his character sprite on the menu screen.

-Mike

Andrew

Ah, Baigan. I was almost taken in by his overacting, but I must confess, I wasn't really surprised when he turned out to be a monstrous freak. It was almost like Scooby Doo was along for the ride, and Daphne was all "but wait!" and then Baigan was "nuh uh" and then "CURSES! I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you crazy kids!" I'll wager Scooby never had to deal with Kainazzo though...

Another point there: I think Square did a bang-up job of emulating the bad acting of Baigan, even with their limited pallette of a 32x32 pixel sprite. The shifty looks from side to side, the eyebrows bushy and arched just so... It was marvellous work!



Pokémon


I haves it yay

Hey Matt and/or Andrew (Not Andy :P)/ and or Other

I'm quite enjoying Pokemon at the moment, the music has a hint of Windwaker, and I especially like the fact that at least the Pokemon center's music changes if its day or night.
Andrew

You think it sounds Wind Wakery? Hmm. I dunno, man. I find it to be kinda smooth-jazz-liteish, which, while not horrible, is distinctly reminiscent of various 16-bit stuff that wasn't my favorite, from the dregsy elements of FFMQ to bits and pieces of Paladin's Quest (though in its, er, defense, PQ's music was much more about horrendous synthy screeching). To its credit, however, Diamond and Pearl have thus far managed to pull it off pretty well. I don't think it sounds anything like WW though.

Now I'll just have to fill my Pokedex so I can bring over my Xiera (check my forum avartar) over from Emerald.

Also a question, have either of you ever stayed with a perticular Pokemon throughout the series? I've also noticed that I tend to capture females instead of males (well since the gold and silver days since you get eggs from them and all).

Well I guess I should get back to it, but maybe after I've gone through my ever lengthening list of Webcomics.

Bainick has a Geodude AND an Onix, which hasn't happened since the Red/Blue days.

Andrew

I'm afraid I can't answer that, as this is my first Pokémon; however, if I could find a Pikachu I would totally stick with it just cuz <3. That or a Squirtle, which I had when I played the first little bit of Red.





IN CLOSING

Please excuse the lateness again; I refer you to the delightful pile of kittens in the next room. Did I mention they're awesome? ^_^ Also, by way of topics, see my sig and this: Ken Kutaragi just jumped ship and now Sony has tried this batshit insane excuse for a publicity stunt. My friends, I ask you: double-yew tee eff? Is this the end of Zombie Shakespeare?



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 6 - ok-ish



castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew should probably come up with a topic... Let's say, Monolith's boughtoutness, and Nintendo's piles of money!


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