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He Came With the Estate

Andrew Long - December 03 '03- 02:09 Eastern Daylight-Savings Time

THERE'S SOMETHING TERRIBLY IRRITATING about a random fulker wandering about on a file sharing program and stealing files off you that, for some reason, continue to be shared against repeat and expressly direct attempts to unshare their folders of residence. There's something even more terribly irritating about it when this person messages you to cry about the elimination of said access after you finally succumb to going about it the hard way and individually unchecking every single folder and subfolder on my hard drive save for the one with the music (because if you can't share music with the world then some sort of gun spree will likely erupt across your city, requiring thousands of new cops in order to stem this growing tide of alarmist media reports). Nevertheless, I have fought through this irritation and distraction and delicious delicious something or other crammed onto the desk beside me by my mother several hours ago in order to bring you this introduction.

And what an introduction it's going to be! We'll laugh a little, cry a little, and when you wonder why exactly you neither laughed nor cried, I'll detonate a giant nitrous oxide bomb above North America and follow it with a tear gas chaser. Yes, there's some touching times in store for this troubled little continent, and you might just see a guest appearance made by everyone's favorite kitchen disaster, the Queen!

So sit back, relax, and get ready for the column of your life. Or maybe of this week. Or possibly, just the little old column for Wednesday which somebody left out in the snow a little too long. Which is still pretty big, if you ask me.




SEND LETTER




12-02-03
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13-6-5-2
W,5-4 :D
SIX in a row
And what a game!
Kind of like the 9-2 drubbing
Suffered by my poor poor coworkers
Last night, while I watched
And wondered
Why both freaking goalies
Had black jerseys
I mean, I know
It's pretty hard to find
6 orange jerseys
But couldn't the goalie
At least be BLUE
...or something?

Edited for length and those of you dependent upon Ritalin and "these three amigos"!


Cast,

I rented FFX-2 this week, and I have a few things to say about this very different look on Final Fantasy. First of all, I was a little disappointed with the music. It fits well with the game's theme, and it's okay as is, but I just can't shake it. Also, when I'm revisiting these parts of Spira I've already seen in Final Fantasy X, it's a little hard on the system hearing different music when I know what music should be playing. And for RPG's, orchestral music has always settled with me better anyway.

The story is....well, it's a little weak thus far. I find the voice acting to be a little over-the-top, and corny. Following perfectly in line with Final Fantasy X.

I found something strange happens when I play FFX-2. I know in an interview with someone on the FFX-2 team, a Square-Enix member said that the game was made mission based because statistically, gamers are playing in short time slots these days, or some such thing. Now, when I'm playing Final Fantasy X-2, I find the feel is that it IS short, and that I should not be playing for longer than one mission at a time, so I find myself playing for maybe a half an hour (even when I've got nothing to do) and then I'll just stop because I don't want to play anymore. But the second I start it up again, I'll be right into it, because I do enjoy the game. Now, on the other hand, when I pop in Final Fantasy VII (which I've just started playing again recently) I'm more inclined to play for more than hour because it has a feel that I should be playing more than that at a time. The game feels more whole if I play it for a longer time at once. Or maybe it's just me?

One thing that really gets to me is that everything is so "flashy." The menu system, while simple, appears complex because there are all sorts of blinking lights and flashing backgrounds, and text boxes have moving backgrounds; it makes it hard to concentrate on it sometimes. I'm getting some similar vibes to that of Final Fantasy VIII; there are some areas where improvement is needed, but I like the game for some reason. They should make a movie about fanboys like me...it should be corny, with a hint of Final Fantasy. Something like--Final Fantasy: The Fanboy Within.

...or maybe not.
~Simon

ANDREW
It's funny you should mention that the mission-based aspect of FFX-2 makes you only want to play it in spurts, because the exact same thing happens to me with FFTA. Even if I sit down thinking "time to kill this wretched game off so I can go back to Disgaea" things turn out more like "Mission com- oooh! A dog! With a puffy tail! Hehehehehe!" and then of course nothing will do but to play Metroid Prime as a hitherto unmentioned third option which probably didn't occur to me at first, unless it was sitting in the back of my mind along with "Warcraft III" and "porn"... by which, of course, I mean backgammon.


Yeah, something about that game just gets me hot and bothered


Greetings,

Years ago I sent in a letter to the Q&A asking, very politely, "Do you think they will ever make another Final Fantasy Tactics game?" The then host's reply was, "No." While I did ask for his opinion, I enjoy that not only was he wrong, but I got my Tactics fix. I now dance happily whilst I whistle a joyous tune.

I'd like to give you credit for bringing a sense of humor to your column and making it once again enjoyable. Its nice to see replies to letters that consist of more than one word. Keep up the great work.

And for the obligatory question, Why are RPGs addictive? Is it the rewards systems? The detachment from Reality? The taste of the instruction manual? Something else?

Jaynus (all your crystals are belong to me!) on Pandemonium

ANDREW
Given my unfortunate incident involving gaming-related reading, I hope you'll forgive me if I try not to think about what a manual would taste like, exactly. I will instead go with "all of the above" and hope you don't come after me with a chainsaw for being glib and thus kind of doing exactly what your complimentationing up there suggests I don't and indeed, shouldn't. For now, continue dancing hypnotically and as we all fall under your madman's spell, feel free to blast us with your vindicated exultation. Well, exultation is probably a tad exaggerated, being as how you didn't really do much personally to bring FFTA about <.<


GBA KH = between I and II


Hey I heard the Kingdom heart 2 in PS2 is going to be a different story line, but Kingdom Heart in GBA is going to continue the story from the first Kingdom Heart.

Is that true??

ANDREW
Nope!!


I read an article about you and it said YOUR MOM


I read an article about FF12, and it called Hironobu Sakaguchi the *former* Director of the Final Fantasy series/Square VP. What the crap? Is he not doing it any more? We've lost Sakaguchi, the story writer, and Uematsu's been reduced to title songs... When you lose all the people that make up the creation of something, but other people keep making it under the same name, can you really call it authentic? I submit that all FF games from 12 on be called "fanfiction."

LockeZ

ANDREW
I submit that Metroid Prime was made by an entirely different development studio. I further submit that if every game retained the same development staff forever, a whole lot of series wouldn't be around anymore. I mean, take Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry has long since gone off into the clouds, hopeful that someday Captain Kirk will Search for him, possibly to the tune of a $300 million production directed by Kevin Costner. In the meantime, Rick Berman has managed just fine, spawning a host of cruddy sequels and one or two decent ones somewhere amidst the dense thicket of crappy spinoffs and marketing gimmickry.

More pertinently, Sakaguchi hasn't done the honours since FF6 - Kitase took over as soon as the PSX era kicked in, relegating our sappy FF hero to the role of executive producer. Again, too, a lot of video game development houses feature more turnover than your friendly neighbourhood Tim Hortons, so if sequels depended upon the same development team being involved, then everyone would have to be creative -- and as the continued success of Capcom(and others) is testament to, creativity just isn't necessary to sell games these days.


A blast from the past


hi andrew

i am a thief on the hydra quest, and i want to kill it without accepting elsa;'s help. but as soon as i successfully kill the hydra alone, i and booted from the game. is there a patch or something that i need?

thanks,
yai

ANDREW
Well, my dear larcenous reader, it would seem that QFG V is a buggy creature indeed, and while no specific mention was made of the problem you're having, if it's the only one you've encountered and you haven't downloaded any patches at all, count yourself lucky. Download them - they're available at Sierra.com after you spelunk your way through its directory structure. If it still doesn't work, then perhaps Sierra IS trying to rub out that bothersome streak of independence you've got going there.


Fading Resolve


Hello Andrew,

Thanksgiving holiday is now over for us yanks, so here's hoping you get a nice full mailbag this week!

So, after some grumbling, you're thinking of caving after all and buying FFX-2? :) What could I say that hasn't been said all over the web a jillion times already? Probably nothing. Oh well!

ANDREW
Well actually, there is something. The enlightened folks down at the GameFAQs message boards seem to take issue with a certain review that I penned a while ago, so if you say you like it that would really make my day. You don't even have to mean it, although that would save me from shameless praisemongering.

Tone: I played FFX very shortly before X-2, and I was put off by X-2's style at first. The "groovy" music, and cheesy lines and poses, didn't sit too well with me. After awhile I got used to it, and even came to like it. The music kinda seeped into my system and I felt that Uematsu's style wouldn't fit it at all, and the composers they chose were just right for the job. And there are hints here and there, that this story is far more serious than it would have you think at the outset...

Gameplay: The dresspheres and combat system are too great! Combat is fast and fun and at times challenging, especially if you come in with a set of jobs that's ill-suited for what you're facing, since you have to waste at least one round changing costumes while the monsters are whaling on you. It's the oh-so-manly ATB system ;) which can be set to "wait" as usual. You can watch the ATB bars and time your attacks between the girls for additional "chain" damage, a nice extra. All three characters can use all jobs (except the special dresspheres and mascots), which could make them generic in combat. It's up to you to customize them--you can make the girls as similar or as different as you like. Even in cases where you're mashing the X button throughout, random fights are rarely boring! Jobs like the Gunner with her "Trigger Happy," and Lady Luck with her slot machine attacks, add a new level of interactivity. The whole thing's ingenious, I think. The dressphere changes are cool to watch, and are a lot like anime transformations. If you grow tired of them, or think they slow down the combat too much, you can shorten or eliminate them.

Mini-games and pacing: My minor complaints about FFX-2 would be in these two areas. The story takes a good long time, at least halfway in, to really get rolling. There are lot of hints previous to that, and new characters to meet, but re-visiting all the places you visited in FFX all over again, with Yuna's nostalgic voice-overs, made the whole thing too slow for me at first. There are more mini-games per game hour in FFX-2 than I've seen anywhere. There's gambling-type games, desert digging, a logic/math game, and many more. Some are fun, some are annoying, some are dopey or boring. You can play the ones you give a hoot about, and skip the ones you don't. There's a 100% completion thing that's possible, where you get a special ending, and which entails playing a number of the more boring mini-games...I couldn't tell ya if the effort was worth the reward there. What's nice is you can play the game your way. You can delve into every nook and cranny, or you can go straight for the mission scenarios and skip the rest. The pacing "problem" I mentioned had more to do with how I was duplicating the original "journey" of FFX place-by-place through the first two chapters, rather than any true flaw in the game itself....

I'm liking FFX-2 more and more as I go along, and the hints they're throwing out about deeper and darker goings-on, both past and present, are really compelling. The staff took some chances with this game--they could easily have kept the old characters and combat system and storytelling style and music, but they didn't. I think FFX-2 comes out the better for it.

Happy shopping! :)

Beth.

ANDREW
Damn you and your compelling salespitches! Yeah, Square Enix threw a curveball with the first true FF sequel but then they went and tricked us all with a game that follows the FF tradition of building upon and then departing from its predecessors. The only difference is that this time they kept the story instead of the basic mechanics. Well, I guess they probably kept a lot of those too, so I guess my point is, I wore a giant onion, I did. It was the style at the time, because the Krauts had taken all the red onions and hidden them on the blimps. Rich men would ride by in those airships, throwing silver dollars! So one day, J. G. Rockefeller comes by and I had a big bathtub I was carrying - Hey, are you still paying attention? There's still another few letters left...


I have no knowledge of this, uh, alleged black market ring


Castolicious,

The last 42 hours of so have plagued me with back-to-back marathons of Christmas songs. Some memorable tunes include, "Grandma got High on her Exlax" and "Hugh Hefner's Family Christmas Songs". Oh, how could I forget, "Michael Jackson's the Twelve Altar Boys of Christmas"?? Speaking of such TRIVIAL matters.. What are we giving to the lesser life-forms like Martha Steart and cheerleaders for Christmas? I was thinking selling orphaned children from out black market ring. You know, like little Susie and little Timothy. Speaking of such, I have the perfect present for yourself. A picture of me, what else? Tomorrow, we'll scheme more. I'll even make my hobo brownies!

Another letter concludes,

O' Shrouded One

ANDREW
Hmm... I see no present! I guess that's probably because there are still 23 days in which to get jiggy with the lineup at your local Wal*Mart and start your very own fracas, tilt, melee, fooferaw, barn-burner, fisticuffs, or whatever takes your fancy, but I get to do the Christmas column, so we shall see if your claims are in fact truthful. In the end, the most troublesome part of this equation is the fact that a picture would end your reign as the Shrouded One. I'd think about that before you get out the wrapping paper. I do, however, quite enjoy hobo brownies, provided they are made from only the finest cuts of 100% hobo.


Revenge, served slightly chilled


I should come back just so you can have a veteran MMORPG gamer review FFXI instead of the "I'm new to MMORPGs" persona ... so of course he's going to give it a 6. And a 5 on visuals? Come on, FFXI is easily the best looking MMORPG out there, on par with graphics if not better than SWG!

Pffft!

150 hours and he's not even level 30? What does he do? PFFFT!!! I've got 1 hour and have already hit level 4 on my 6th server since launch (I'm picky).

Sorry, just complaining =) FFXI is a better game than that. If compared to a console RPG (that's not even a real RPG anyways), yes, I can see the rating of 6. But if you're comparing it to other games in its genre (MMORPG's should be compared to other MMORPG's, then it's more like an 8 or even a 9).

BWAHHAHAHAHA.

/rant

*goes back to bed after this annoying E-mail*
^_^

ANDREW
Hmph. I just love when my evil ex-newsies come back to taunt me, especially when I only want them to come back and write news. I would agree, at any rate, that the standard you suggest is probably a good idea, but it kind of falls apart since, barring your sudden reappearance (reappear, damn you!) there aren't many people on staff who play MMO's besides FFXI. Hell, when I'm hiring I tend to frown upon apps of people who do simply because I don't want news coming second to Eversmack. And now that I've guaranteed no more honest answers to that question, I think I'll keep the rest of my selection process secret coughbriberyisyourfriendcough.


Et finalement, l'Unfit for Print


are they ever going to make fft-a for Ps2 casue thats what im waiting for is there anyreason not to plz tell me.

ANDREW
Hmm. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Game Boy Advance. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. PlayStation 2. If you can't see that one of these things just doesn't belong here, you need to go watch some Sesame Street so that you can gain some basic pattern recognition skills and then email me back once you've acquired them. I'll be waiting!

YOU 'DREW
QUICKIE I
Did I miss something?
What's this FFVII reference in FFX-2 that everyone's fussing about?
S. Netzach

Andrew:
I'm not sure, because I missed it too and I don't feel like trawling through message boards to read seething and badly worded complaints about creative sanctity just now. I got my weekly fill of that digesting various outrage at the absence of a scene deleted from a movie that has yet to be released, making me despair that there are people who will grouse about a movie they have yet to see.

QUICKIE II
Heh, I accidentally sent my FFX-2 grumblings to Google...if he doesn't post them, I'll resend.

And this line..."So now it comes to the critical point, wherein the flaw is expressed and the choice is made"...it's a line said by the Architect from The Matrix: Reloaded, though it isn't verbatim. Oh well, I just thought I'd be an annoying prat by pointing that out.
See ya Wednesday.
- Feep

Andrew:
Excellent work, Detective Sleuthington... you annoying prat.



DA LAST GRUMBLE

And that's all she wrote. Or at least, that's all I wrote, such as the case may be. For tomorrow, let us talk of Sword of Mana, which I just started playing. I have to say that while I do prefer Secret of Mana, this battle system ain't bad, which irritates me because it makes me think if I had an English copy of SD3 I might actually enjoy it. So, let us take up the age-old debate and gravitate to Secret of Mana vs Seiken Densetsu 3, ignoring for now the woeful illegalities involved in obtaining the latter. I don't just want one-word responses, either - gimme a why! Gimme an E! Gimme an S! Gimme an I! Gimme an AM! Gimme out of here!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long secretly wished he was a cheerleader once.

I'LL PROVIDE THE ANSWERS, YOU PROVIDE THE

QUESTIONS


No, not really



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