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Enclave of the Bear

Andrew Long - December 31, 2004 - 3:16 EST

AS 2004 ESCAPES INTO THE BOTTOM OF MY HOURGLASS, which has this awesome ability to devour years every year or so, I feel compelled to wonder why games that base themselves in the future always feel compelled to tack on an "A.D." I mean, it's not like we'd confuse a war beginning in 2101 that involved spaceships and a giant dude with a purple cape with some sort of Spartan invasion, and I certainly wasn't looking at the robots in that future Risk game and thinking "gee, what a marvellous likeness of Agamemnon!" although I suppose that could in fact have been thanks to the A.D.

I know, however, that it wasn't, and that people only use it to make things sound cooler, except it really doesn't. In actual fact, it just makes them sound longer, not unless any number of RPG titles I could mention but won't because any further time spent bashing Xenosaga will only lead to further editorials that I may or may not read.

So let us embark upon this new year with a spirit of freshness, and let that freshness stem from Mentos, if only because creamsicles just can't deliver that minty blast I so desperately crave. Also: would it kill the Enclave of the Bear to act a little more like the Uralian Freedom Fighters it so callously supplanted? I mean, sure, it lasted longer than any of my French territories, both of which boasted an unwavering love of surrender and snake eyes, but only because nobody attacked it until after I'd pissed off everyone else in the game by being a backstabbing sack of crap. In conclusion, I should have picked red because grey-blue is apparently not the colour of awesome.




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Christmas hangover


Heya Andrew!

What did jolly old Saint Nicholas bring down your chimney this holiday season? Or, barring that you refuse to answer the previous inquiry, what about your friend Andrew Dangerous?

The Good Twin

ANDREW
St. Nick actually chose to enter my mom's house through a new and exciting route this year, busting his way in through a cracked bathroom pipe and positively flooding my basement with Christmas cheer, or at least enough water to drown up a sufficient number of turkeys to qualify as such. After bailing said water, I scored a bunch of clothes and a sketchbook, which would be especially keen if I ever bothered to sketch. I also got this handy new sound card, which was a lifesaver in view of the state of my previous model, which sucked ultimately.

ANDREW DANGEROUS
You'd think I'd show up besides when people mention me, but for some reason, my attention's always here 'r there 'r... Well, you get the picture, not here is what I'm sayin'. My most recent assignment was in the Eggnog killing fields of the Disputed Zone, where I got drunker than a rat in a barrel of wine and rich on wild eggnog. Now I'm kicking it old school in the rum mines of Barbados, so I need to concentrate, since the rum gets pretty darned wallopy here. Oh, and I almost fergot! Tomorrow, I'm headin' to the Champagne Valley to dig for bubbly gold, so I'll keep ya posted!


Doctah Jones does it again!


Bah, I think I sent this to the wrong address so sorry if this comes up twice.

Hey, this is my first time writing in and while checking out the bios page today I came upon something quite mysterious. Clicking on the "e", and only the "e" in your name, takes you to Jake's profile. Just wondering if that was a goof up or if there's a reason behind this oddity?

Well thats all...
Mike

ANDREW
I regret to inform you that your fantastic discovery is in fact a catch-all for anyone who has failed to notice one of the many clues that have popped up in the past several months that Googleshng has, in fact, been identified. The most obvious of these clues was the fact that his name appeared on index posts once we started making those in Q&A. The next most obvious was when everyone started referring to him as Jake, since.. well, six+ years of coming up with clever alternatives for Googleshng has taken its toll. Finally, there was the small matter of the copyright notice on his homepage that also blows his cover. This may seem like a cruel end to a long-running joke, but fortunately, I don't think he was really trying anymore.


Christmas meandering


Andrew,

Someone asked about Suikoden 3 a couple days ago, but Google hadn't played it. So, to that person and anyone else wondering about Suikoden 3, if you liked 1 and 2, you probably won't like 3. The story wasn't half as interesting, and the graphics didn't fit the mood at all. They looked way too cartoonish. Though the first two games were made of sprites and other 2Dness, I thought the level of detail and the style really added an air of elegance to both. Plus, there's the awesome music and character design and plot and everything else. (Suikoden 2 is definitely one of my favorite games.) But, back to 3... the battle system and world map were both really annoying, also, so don't spoil your love of the Suikoden series with the third installment. However, if one hadn't played the first two and thus have nothing with which to compare it, it might be worth smuggling out of the house.

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing, Lady Dragoon. My own copy is in no danger of coming out of the shrink wrap anytime soon.

And since we were asked about games we got for Christmas, I got Growlanser Generations! I love Growlanser 2. There's just enough difficulty, and the plot doesn't move too slow, and most of the voice acting is good. Except for Hans, who makes me shudder.

Lastly, reading the game details for Wild ARMs: the 4th Detonator also made me shudder. A 13 year old protagonist? The only time I liked that was in Earthbound for SNES. Vaan from FFXII also causes this reaction. He's 15, and his full body art is him lounging and showing off a nipple. Why?? I can't casually lust over him like the other protagonists in FF... he'd make me feel like a cradle robber. Kids that young should still have leashes if they're going to try and kill monsters. I just can't imagine a boy that age being mature enough to leave the house for long enough to even go on a quest. Why do these main characters keep getting younger? Are they just trying to aim these RPGs more towards kids? And if so, why don't they pay more attention to the slightly (or not so slightly) older people and leave the kids their Yu Gi Oh?

ANDREW
One disadvantage to working with four cougs in a furniture store is that their crushing boredom compels them to share sexual points of discussion that I have absolutely no interest in hearing about at least once a day, causing me to flee their lair before any further brainraping can occur. I do, however, feel that one of these horrifying incidents may be of use to you. You see, one of them was blathering on about the joys of cradle-robbing, and mentioned that instead of calling it that, they preferred to think of it as a "free range" system, whereby you tag a young 'un and wait a few years to claim possession. Actually, that was probably in Savage Love, but the point stands that somebody needs to rescue me from their disturbing clutches, or at least that you should apply similar thinking to such characters as Vaan, especially given Square Enix's equally disturbing fetish for serialization.

And most of all... why are there so few female protagonists in RPGs? Are there really not that many girls that play them? I can only think of La Pucelle Tactics (sort of, since a boy was narrating), and I can pretend that Terra was the main character of FF6, but that game didn't really have a main character like the other FFs did. Are there any (good) RPGs that really truly have a female protagonist?

the lady dragoon

ANDREW
The original Parasite Eve, for starters, and this new title I'm preparing for release called "Aeon of Desk Hutch V: Casto and the Cougars" promises to have several voracious leading ladies.


Ogre whozit?


Hello

I was cleaning out some things recently and I came across Tactics Ogre:The Knight of Lodis. It got me rather nostalgic so I started playing Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber again but anyways...

What do you think of the Ogre Battle series?

ANDREW
I think that while TRPG purists heap steaming mounds of lub upon it that I really rather prefer FFT (no, not that GBA abomination) on the whole, although TO:KoL is indeed a fine thing to have while trapped in a hospital puking your guts up.

When do you think the next game in the series would be coming out considering that Square-Enix has the rights to the game?

Thank you
and Happy New Year

ANDREW
I think we might just be waiting a while, since Square Enix is still some time away from destroying its credibility entirely. I think that once that happens, we'll probably see a desperate grab for marketability, followed by a truly awful Ogre Battle. Or maybe I'm just randomly and terribly bitter for no apparent reason for only this moment... Who knows? That's as good a guess as any I could make, I'll tell you that much!


This idea's/filled/with holes/


Andrew, "Mad Props" for your U2 quote in Dec. 18th's column. Assuming you have the new album, isn't it just wonderful?

ANDREW
Yeah, I'm glad they finally turned down the suck on Bono's voice, cuz All That You Can't Leave Behind was pretty painful in parts - it's a sad day when I have better vocal range than him.

Anyway.

So I'm sitting in Gold Saucer yesterday (virtually, off course) wasting thousands of gil on that damned snowboarding game. And then it hits me! Since Squeenix has its heart set on whoring every marketing posiblity for Final Fantasy out, why haven't they released some sort of mini game compilation? It would be a little difficult to extract all the code, or maybe just program all the games over again, but it would sell great. I think. Imgaine the minibike game, the snowboarding game, Triple Triad et cetera on one disk?

What do you think, Andrew?

~Transmission

ANDREW
I hate to be a Johnny Killvibe, but I think that's a terrible idea. Minigames exist to fill in the cracks in games that would otherwise kind of fall apart without something extra to do every so often. Then there's the fact that each of those games is a pretty incomplete execution of what amount to genres if you expand them. Certainly, it could work out if you reworked everything into a party game of some description, but that's why there's this abomination.


There's cutesy and then there's crapsy


Hey Andrew,

Have you at all played Kingdom Hearts and/or Final Fantasy X-2? If so, I'd like your thoughts on the games. I've heard you talk about KH's voice acting, so I assume you've at least played *some* of it, but you always seem reluctant to talk about FFX-2. How can you not be too embarrassed to play KH with all its saccharine Disney goodness yet at the same time be too embarrassed to play X-2?

-Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

ANDREW
Embarrassment does not enter into the picture in my FFX-2 embargo. I don't play FFX-2 because my best friend tells me it sucks, and when he says a game sucks, it sucks. His description of playing the game sounded like death, and upon hearing the soundtrack, which was much like drilling steel bolts into my nipples and twisting to create an injection site for red-hot poison to pour into my chest while simultaneously having it pumped into my brain - already on fire from the giant explosions of suck coming at me from every direction - I was more than inclined to trust it.


"You have a quote contest?" "I have a quote contest?"


Mr. Andrew-

Your wonderful quote is taken from the equally wonderful new song by U2, "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" off of their excellent new album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb."

I hope that's enough information for ya!

Stay warm on this uber-frigid day!
Mr. Craktroop
--

ANDREW
It's more than enough, since I wasn't actually soliciting guesses! Your prize:


From the Mists of Time vaults:


Hey again...originally sent this on Friday, but somehow it didn't make it into Monday's column. In response to Toran's claim from Thursday that the sphere grid's not much in comparison to the materia system, I'd just like to say that I actually prefer the sphere grid. This is because the materia system strips your characters of much of their individuality. Limits and weapon type are the only areas where characters inherently differ from each other, and even there it's not a whole lot. The sphere grid implemented something I'd really been looking to see at that time: character individuality reflected in the game mechanics of the battle system. I disliked how conventional class systems gave you very little hand in your characters' development, but for a long time Square's innovations had all involved making everybody the same (FFVII, FFVIII, FFT, etc.). Granted, the sphere grid was a bit more restrictive than would have been ideal, but it did a decent job of mixing variability in character-class development with individuality reflected in combat abilities. I certainly had less problems with it than the materia system...maybe I'm just not bugged by unnecessary button-pushing. -Jackson Ferrell

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing, Jackson. I also think nothing but good things about the Sphere Grid.

I can't believe I didn't answer this sooner...


Hey!, I have some questions for you is WoW (Worlds of Warcraft) as good as everyone is saying it is? As a ex-Evercrap...errr Everquest player (1 and a half years) i'm doubtful of it's greatness, it's just seems like more level grinding in a different world..... but I do want to play an MMO again if it's good and has some new concepts for funner gameplay. Any suggestions?

ANDREW
It's an MMO... Of course it's level-grinding. That said, it's also made by Blizzard, which has this way of taking potentially tedious concepts and making them super-great. I've never felt much of an urge to play MMOs, but this one has me hooked, unfortunately. Even now, my fingers twitch towards the mouse that could open the game and -

This letter must end!

Also im very intrigued by this game called Guild Wars....it seems very innovative (yes I found out about from that guy who asked his link to be posted, guess you did him good eh?). but i cant seem too find much about it's gameplay, is it like a combo system or a press "A" for attack on kind of thing or what?

ANDREW
I played about ten seconds of Guild Wars in its free trialmobob, and I am pleased to report that it's A for attack. My dim recollections are also of a game remarkably similar to WoW, but that's probably just my memory imprinting crap on other crap, which it's been doing ever since I got it a printing press for Christmas. It's really getting kind of annoying, and if it even DREAMS about a Reformation, I am SO going to smoke some drugs... That'll learn it a thing... or...number!

OK next question!!! is there a DexDrive or will there ever be a DexDrive for the PS2 memory cards? I really hope there will be, what's better then storing files on your computer for games you never play, but you definetly don't wanna erase. Oh yeah and not to mention that for RPG maker's you can play peoples created games by downloading them.......

Thanks,
Joshua

ANDREW
Apparently there's some sort of renamed device available somewhere, but since that sounds perilously close to the sort of thing this site shouldn't be supporting, I think I'll refrain from posting a link.



DA LAST GRUMBLE

It's good to be back, and I'm glad Cain did such a great job holding down the fort. Now, if only it could somehow mean some letters, of which I had a grand total of three today. I don't like to complain or anything, but when I have to use stuff from December 10th, we're not really trying very hard. I DEMAND BRAINS! Seriously, mine's busy making a delightful print of a tree...

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long kachunk whistle snap cut!

WE'LL PROVIDE THE ANSWERS, YOU PROVIDE THE

QUESTIONS


So maybe that isn't what a press sounds like... are we really going to quibble about this imaginary device? Cuz if we are... *shakes fist*

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