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ASK ANDREW
A Rainy Night In Georgia July 30th, 2005

Andrew Long - 1:05 EST

IT HURTS MY BRAIN that in this day and age, those decade-compilation Time Life collections are still a viable marketing exercise, what with iTunes and the wide availability of mp3s. Certainly, CD music is of higher quality, but the large majority of people really don't pay any attention to that difference in quality, and so it blows my mind that there are those still willing to pay $25 for a bunch of songs that, at most, would cost $10 or so on iTunes, or less if you're willing to go a murkier route.




L E T T E R S
I'll castigate you


heya Castigator (bet you've never gotten that one before!),

So I can't help but wonder exactly how this "Puff the rambling microbiologist" fellow gets the idea that all the characters from FFX are too similar. Every character's got his/her own area of expertise, and each track on the sphere grid emphasizes this. Tidus' thing is speed (and not just in stats, but in the skills he gets too), Auron is a slow hard-hitting tank with mad HP, Rikku's basically a thief with a few related tricks, Khimari's a balanced fighter, and Wakka's an ace marksman with decent strength to back it up (plus some status-affliction attacks which are actually useful because they also deal damage simultaneously). And when Puff asks, "Why can't I have a new game where only one person (or two) can use magic?" Well, that would be because Yuna and Lulu are not characters in a new game. They are the only mages in the FFX crew. Only Yuna can summon; both their attacks suck damage-wise, but Lulu's black magic rivals Auron's sword for raw damage, especially against an enemy's elemental weakness.

So basically, I can't see how anyone can allege that the characters weren't individuated in their combat roles. Can't you remember encountering heavily armored enemies that only Auron's Armor Break could punch through? And the birds that were just too darn agile for anyone but Wakka to hit? It's only toward the end of the game (it was about the time you fight Yunalesca for me) that the sphere grid opens up so that characters can start "cross-classing" into others' sphere grid tracks. And especially in light of FFVII and FFVIII, I cannot imagine why someone would pick FFX as their case study for unvaried characters.

-Jackson Ferrell

P.S. All blanket statements are wrong.


ANDREW


Indeed, it does seem rather suspect, given that FFX gives you the choice between specialization or not. Nobody forces you to "cross-class", and so if you end up with characters that are exactly the same, it's nobody's fault but your own. That said, by the end of the game this shouldn't be an issue regardless of whether your characters are similar or not; they all do so much damage the means through which they do it is really rather irrelevant.

P.S. Your irony is delicious, though not quite spicy enough for my liking. Next time try to include jalapenos somewhere.



:o a loading screen with frogs? NOOOO


Hey Andrew,

Regarding your Venus & Braves answer - I understand your sentiments completelely. Many over on this side of the Pacific were a bit oddly confused by Namco's bullet decision to localize Katamari Damacy while leaving V&B in the dark, but I guess the game never had a bright outlook to look forward to in the first place.

I have to say though, the heresay about the circumstances surrounding this game is interesting, to say the least. For example, when I heard the music from my import copy of this game, I was scouring the ol' net for some lead to an original soundtrack. Much to my surprise, I found it didn't exist due to some mysterious copyright issue. The current "best guess" on the situation is that one of the opening songs (which should be in one of the trailers located in the rpgamer repository) had a tidbit in the beginning that sounded exactly like "Grandfather's Clock", which I'm to assume is not in the public domain. The lyrics in the song seemed to be a plot device, forshadowing certain events to come. Unfortunately, this little circumstance was believed to be the reason for V&B's sudden halt in the production department.

Perhaps this may be one of the reasons why a North America release was viewed impossible? (Well, other than the fact that it was a game appealing to a particularly niche market...or the fact that it was part of a two game series.)

But then again, maybe it wouldn't have been a good idea to bring it over anyway - with the currently popular localization model in its current state, I don't think I would be able to stand a voice actor talking to a character named "Blood Bowl".

- Sqrfrk, here to make it known that V&B has a pretty interesting memory card loading bar - frogs leaping down in order. GREATEST. LOAD. EVAR.


ANDREW

Yeah, I never was quite sure what was up with that Blood Boall business, but it seemed a most curious name to be giving oneself, translation curiosities or not. I was not aware of that business with the soundtrack, but I was fairly disappointed with the fact it never made it over; the art style was very appealing to me, and I've played enough tactical RPGs of late that I'm sure it would have been fairly entertaining, even if it didn't have the greatest reputation.

As to the Grandfather Clock business, I doubt very much that was the reason for the game's halt in production; if a trademarking issue did in fact exist, Namco could easily have removed the offending track from the game. Sigh. Thank you all very much for reminding me of how very awesome this game looked. Let us throw rocks at Namco, for they are smelly for not bringing this one over.



Mutificompute


Q&Aer,

Just a few questions. A.) In La Pucelle, is the level limit 999 or 9999? I know in other NISA titles its 9999, but La Pucelle doesn't seem to have any nifty ways of leveling up fast, so I was just curious.
ANDREW

Ah, there are in fact a number of ways, from fiddling around with titles to the allegedly infamous 3-2 boost. A quick Google search, at any rate, has determined that you can level up to 9999, though it is somewhat more difficult than in Disgaea.

B.) In Makai Kingdom's strategy guide there's an interview in the back, and the Yoshitsuna guy said that we would be very surprised by the next game. I'm thinking it's gonna be a direct sequel to something if we're gonna be so surprised. What do you think?
ANDREW

I'm thinking they could be talking about Generation of Chaos, the upcoming PSP release that NISA confirmed first with RPGamer at E3. Note to Shinji two letters down: see? When we find stuff out we post it right away, so nyah.

C.) Could games like Ratchet and Clank (at least the second and third ones) be considered RPGs? You level up your character by killing lots of enemies, and Zelda is considered an RPG (it's not!) so I figured it was feasible.
ANDREW

Pretty much any game in existence can be considered an RPG if you really try hard enough, but I personally don't see any sense in attempting to cram titles into definitions that are effectively meaningless to your enjoyment of them. If you're looking for RPGamer's definition, we generally look for games that fit as closely as possible to the traditional sense of the word. It's still a pretty hazy process, however.

D.) While I'm looking forward to Advent Children, I could care less about the plethora of spin off games being produced. Dirge of Cerberus looked good, but I think it will turn into a repetitive mess like Fullmetal Alchemist (good show, bad game). Do you plan to buy all them crazy FFVII games?
ANDREW

Nope. I am of a similar mind on ridiculous spinoffs, and unless I hear like everyone tell me that the game is definitely worth picking up, or see something out of Square Enix that makes me want to, I don't think I want to take part in the rebranding of the Parasite Eve experience.

E.) Last question. In Disgaea, did you listen to the Japanese or English soundtrack?

Thanks.


ANDREW

English, because the voice acting was actually pretty okay, even if the voice actor for Pokemon's Ash was involved.



Speaking of NIS...


Hey Andrew,

I think they should just stop making games after Makai Kingdom. I mean, Disgaea was there best game and between ever game they've made, there really is no differences between them other than the storylines, which haven't been that different either. Now Makai Kingdom has a thing where you toss your buildings around and you can take your characters out from the place you threw the buildings at. Instead of making these little advances, they should do everything together, because the game is nothing more than a slight expansion pack from Disgaea.

The main selling point of Makai Kingdom and their other recent games have been "Tactical RPG," or "Beautiful Effects." Who wants to see the same exact move done 20 different ways just because it has better graphics when you could make the game actually unique.

That's what I think. Out of all the titles NIS has released Disgaea has been the best one and offers the most replayability, but even that is only an average game, not really being anything special in comparison to other Tactical RPG's like Final Fantasy Tactics, or Tactics Ogre.

We need less focus on rehashed products and more focus on RPG's that offer good gameplay and storyline. Like what ATLUS is doing with Shin Megami Tensei by making games like Nocturne, or Digital Devil Saga which are great.

What are your thoughts on all these games? If you haven't played any of them, I'd go for Digital Devil Saga first, as it has a better story than Nocturne, and the gameplay similar, although it's had a ton of stuff added on to make it even better.

-andrew- -kupomogli-


ANDREW

I will agree that NIS has not really changed the format of its titles since La Pucelle Tactics rolled into stores, and I will also agree that Disgaea is the one that I've enjoyed the most thus far, but as long as the games they're turning out are enjoyable, I don't see any reason for them to stop doing so. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to pick up Nocturne or DDS yet, but as soon as I get enough money to justify blowing some on one or both, I will do so.



I am hiding release dates ALWAYS <3


Dear Q&A host,

Hello. I was wondering if there have been any plans to release NamcoXCapcom in North America yet? I haven't seen any updates lately for it, and if this has been asked already, sorry I haven't been keeping up to date on the Q&A. I've heard that games with characters that look 2D have less of a chance to come over, I don't know how true this is or not and I heard that this was the reason Tales of Rebirth didn't make it across. Anyways, thanks for whatever help you can offer.

-Shinji


ANDREW

While I have certainly been asked this question before, I do not object to that particular fact; if I didn't answer questions more than once, I'd be out of a job here, since people frequently decide to send in the same question over and over and over again until I want to smash my face in with a giant chunk of cement. What I do object to is that you apparently think I am somehow privy to a vast and secret database of release dates that I'm keeping secret from you guys for my own diabolical ends. While I suppose I should be flattered by this notion, I just don't see how this would be a viable scheme for a website devoted to disseminating information.

All this rambling, anyway, is just preface to me telling you that no, Shinji, I have not heard whether or not there are any such plans. Trust me - if you don't see information on the site, I am not aware of it, because whenever I do happen to stumble across something before the news department, which doesn't happen very often, I drop it in their lap inmediately. I'm nice that way.



Unfit for Print


Hello, While all the talk about NA RPG's being good in response to the first guy saying they're bad, to say that Baldurs Gate or Morrowind even hold a candle to a Final Fantasy or either of the Chrono games is simply heresy. Okay, the NA RPGs aren't horrible games, but they don't even come close to Japanese games on the gameplay and storyline side of things. While they may be more open ended, whats the point of the openenededness? To get more skills and experience then be awesome and finish to entirely lackluster storyline. Whoo hoo. The simply fact is, any good RPG should be judged on it's storyline primarily, and gameply secondarily, unless the game is unplayable because of some horrendously annoying flaw. So, until the western hemisphere begins making actually intriguing storylines with endearing characters, they aren't going to be anywhere near as good as their Japanese brethren. While KOTOR and Diablo may be fun, anybody that really thinks about it will always choose a Final Fantasy over either game.
-Zack

ANDREW

Huh? Please tell me you aren't actually saying this, because if I've said this once, I've said it a million times - just because you happen to like a game more than another game does not mean that "anybody who really thinks about it" will always choose similarly. Some people enjoy PC RPGs, believe it or not, and just because PC RPGs don't happen to have the romantic nonsense and "OMG WORLD DESTROYER" fun you always get in a Final Fantasy title doesn't mean that they aren't equally as entertaining. Baldur's Gate was not voted RPG of the year by any number of outlets for nothing, and Morrowind has one of the most in-depth character creation systems ever conceived, besides being gorgeous for its time and pretty in-depth, thank you very much. Diablo, meanwhile, is one of the most addictive gameplay styles ever created, and the fact that it's been copied and recopied until it seems that nobody in the PC market has any creativity anymore should be evidence enough that although it may not be in the same vein as Final Fantasy, it's still plenty fun. Finally, you can't even knock KotOR for story because it has an excellent one, and the gameplay is just peachy. And you're not even taking other games into consideration like Neverwinter Nights. In any event, I'm not saying that Final Fantasy titles aren't great fun, but your claim is thoroughly ridiculous.

And another thing! Why should every game be judged on storyline first? If that's your theory, you can throw tremendous games like Ocarina of Time and Brave Fencer Musashi out the window, because their stories are pretty much minimal. It all comes down to one thing, in the end: your notion of what makes a great game is flawed, and you can't impose it upon everyone else. Please spin your nonsense elsewhere.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Yawn. I really need to get more sleep, or at least work less. For tomorrow, let us speak of every little thing. I declare open topic day, and you'd all best be open with your topics, or else... Well, frankly about all I can threaten to do right now is fall asleep, but you'd better believe that if I was in any way threatening, you'd be scared right now!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long will go now... for sleep.


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I also will go home... for sleep.

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