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ASK ANDREW
On Remem-brance Daaaaay November 11, 2005

Andrew Long - 1:47 EST

YES, NOTHING CAN MAR the solemnity of a day such as today quite so badly as the Bryan Adams video my high school used to subject us to in lieu of a Remembrance Day ceremony. Be that as it may, they still carted in the odd veteran over my time there, so I was able to gain a certain appreciation for the impact the war had had upon their lives. In that vein, then, I remind you to spend a moment of your day in silence, since without their sacrifices it would not be possible for me to be writing this column. I suppose there might be some scenario in which that would be possible, but I mean... Would you really want to read a column containing the punchline "you sir, are worse than Churchill!" ?

That, as we all know, would just be nutty. So remember our forefathers, and indeed, spare a moment to reflect upon the plight of your brothers and sisters and cousins and friends and loved ones, if you have the misfortune to be in a country currently undertaking various adventures in the Persian Gulf. That is all.




L E T T E R S
Xenochick. Now there's a name I've not heard in... oh, quite some time


Hey there,

It's been a long time since I wrote in, but as I was skimming over the column, I happened to note an atrocious error that I felt needed to be righted, that is to say, before it turned the world upside down and swallowed us all into an abyss.

Matt wrote on 11/10:
"I do know that Xenosaga/Xenogears is based on an original piece of literature containing six episodes, and that Xenogears is supposedly the fifth of those. How closely the developers have followed the original idea, though, I have no idea. I've always been VERY intrigued by the fact that Shion/Jin of Xenosaga, and Citan of Xenogears share a common last name..."

Citan's real name is Hyuga Ricdeau, and while I'm sure there's a heap of readers out there thinking it, I just wanted to point it out. I wonder what their implications are with making Jin look so very very much deliciously like him :P Anyhow, I also had a question Xeno-related: I heard a rumor that Ep. III of Xenosaga is now intended to be the last episode in the series *and* they want to continue to use the same cast. I've been pretty much out-of-touch with the gaming world within the past handful of years, but I was just curious and thought I'd add in an actual question so it doesn't seem like I'm just raggin' on Matt, which I'm surely not intending to do.
Peace, love, Krelian!!

-Xenochick. the long-since M.I.A. Xenogears Goddess


ANDREW


You really must cease your MIAery, my dear Xenochick. We have been desolate in your absence, simply desolate! In any event, thank you for that correction; I always wondered where senor Ryan Mance's nickname came from, though given the fact that there were a whole pile of staffers with Xenogears-related nicks, I should have known, I suppose.

Now, as to Episode III; it grieves me to inform you that its development has been nothing short of disastrous. It has managed to outstrip even FFXII in terms of fiascolas, and there is a possibility that it could end up the last in the series, as sales of XSII dropped significantly from those of Xenosaga. That said, no such confirmation has been made, and the only thing that has been confirmed thus far is that XSIII is the last game in which the Shion Uzuki and friends story arc will take center stage. From what the last story on the game leads me to believe, this means that the voice cast will not be returning, as Shion will not be a central character (I may have misunderstood this bit; the story was worded somewhat ambiguously.)

As such, there is yet hope that everyone's favorite movie... I mean, PSX game, will be remade for the PS3. One can only hope that it manages not to be announced by the voice actors, though.



Suikotastic!


Ok, first off I'm another Suikoden IV fan :P I have loved the series and will always love it, can't wait for Suikoden V, back to the timeframe of the 1st three woo!
ANDREW

Cept for the development timetable, which seems to be heavily influenced by methamphetamine abuse... Is it just me, or does the six months or so that we had to get used to the idea of Suikoden Tactics seem like a woefully insufficient amount of time to produce a decent-quality game? I dunno, maybe I'm just used to incessant development delays, but I have grave doubts about that game, especially after having played Onimusha Tactics, another recent effort to cram a non-tactical game into a tactical mold, with predictably awful results.

Anyways, what are your thoughts on Square Enix and their multiplatform strategy? Of the PS3/XBOX360/Revolution, my opinion is, that the SE's high profile games, ie FF, DQ, Star Ocean, Chrono sequel(if any), main Seiken Densetsu series(4th is being developed for PS2 but spin off Children of Mana is being worked on for DS) among others will stay exclusive for Sony's next gen PS3. Meanwhile the only things I see the 360 getting from SE are FFXI and more spin-offs in the vein of Crystal Chronicles or new games. Also I seriously don't think the 360 will succeed in Japan like Microsoft wants it to, thus turning off the Japanese developers they have now. Then there's Nintendo, personally all I see Nintendo getting from SE is more ports/remakes of old games for DS/GBA, and possibly a Crystal Chronicles 2 for Revolution. Well and I haven't heard everything about the downloading old Nintendo games to the Revolution, so I don't know if old Squaresoft games will be available to download, but that's as far as I see SE going with the Revolution.
ANDREW

Enh. Square Enix is kind of making an effort at a multiplatform strategy, but let's not forget that as long as Sony owns a stake in S-E, it is unlikely that the developer will be straying too far from the fallow fields of faulty hardware. Honestly I'm a little surprised that as many games are going to the DS from S-E as there are; you would think Sony would have more interest in boosting output for its handheld, since it's locked in a fairly close battle with the NDS for supremacy. Then again, since the NDS does have the upper hand, perhaps the agenda of "sell as many copies as possible" trumps that of "obey our corporate overlords."

Currently they are multiplatform too, but they haven't done anything for the current XBOX(had plans to do FFXI but waited til the 360) and I haven't heard of them planning anything else years ago for it. Also currently they have only done Crystal Chronicles for the 'Cube, and remakes/ports of old games for the GBA/DS(FFI and II, Sword of Mana, and more to come). I think it'll be pretty much be the same next gen, and porting games to other consoles when they're so different to develop for will also take time and money, and I think SE wants to keep its resources open for future projects, not ports. What are your thoughts exactly on next gen and SE's multiplatform strategy?


ANDREW

The strategy, as you call it, is more or less what I described above. S-E will continue to stick the lion's share of its releases on whichever system is likely to provide the highest sales total, and so I doubt we'll see much in the way of anything for the Revolution, while the 360 will probably see a slightly healthier flow than did its predecessor. I would make one correction, incidentally; the GBA did see one original title from Square Enix, a delightful little romp through mediocre tactical RPG blandness we all know and love to call FFTA.



I seem to recall Matt answering this one, but...


Here's a question that might mayhap stimulate some debate: Who are your top 5 RPG villains?

Here are mine:

1. Kefka No contest here; no other villain comes close to the pure, unadulterated evil of Kefka. More recent video games have tried to make their villains more complex, depicting them more as normal people gone wrong as a result of some experience in their past. You almost end up feeling sorry for them. But Kefka's the sort of villain you love to hate--ruthless, remorseless, but with just enough of a sense of humor (albeit a sick and twisted one) to make him endearing and memorable.

2. Sephiroth I hate to put another FF villain at the top, but Sephiroth not only has perhaps the coolest final boss music, but he is also one of the only villains (THE only--anyone know?) to have succeeded in permanently offing one of the main characters.

3. Ghaleon Ghaleon was Anakin Skywalker done right--I swear, the new Stars Wars movies would have been infinitely better if Lucas had played the Lunar games before making them. Ghaleon is the scholarly villain, an elitist whose fall to the dark side is ultimately caused by his own ego (unlike Anakin, whose fall was apparently a result of his being an obnoxious, angst ridden teen). I could go on drawing parallels between Star Wars and Lunar, but I will save that for another day.

4. Janus Cascade Many will be surprised to see this villain from Wild ARMs 3 so high on the list, but his rise from being a mere lacky following orders to an immensely powerful being beyond the control of his superiors makes him quite an admirable villain. It is much like Kefka's eventual betrayal of the Emperor, but Cascade's betrayal is less sudden and more drawn out. Over the whole first two thirds of the game you sit in suspense watching as Janus slowly grows in power and carefully begins to turn the tide in his favor, craftily and carefully orchestrating his ultimate betrayal. He ended up not being the final villain in the game, and that's the only reason he is not higher on the list.

5. Albedo Albedo was one of the creepiest villains I've ever seen. He was perhaps even more twisted than Kefka, and with the graphical capabilities of the PS2 and cinematic nature of the Xenosaga games, his cruel, twistedness is really brought to life through numerous disturbing, poignant scenes and images.

So anyway, I'm sure many people out there have lists of their own, and I would love to see what other people think.
--Pilkman


ANDREW

In no particular order, here are my top five:

1)Kefka - No list of top villains would be complete without a cartoonish supervillain to round things out, and honestly, with lines like "you all sound like chapters from a self-help book!" and "HATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATE"(typed by hand, for your pleasure) what's not to love? He singes the innocent and betrays the guilty, and for that he has a place in my heart.

2)Delita - The needless cruelty, the grasping for power, and the corruption; a good villain for a rather muddled plot, and the senseless attack he commits in the game's closing scene serves to underline his callous nature. He's just crying out to be killed.

3)President Shinra - Sephiroth gets a bad rap, I think. Sure, he torched a village, SWORDED! Aeris, and destroyed the rest of the teen girl squad with a series of lightning quick BLORTS!, but Square took great pains to ensure that readers were aware that underneath his cloned, murderous chest, there beat a vulnerable heart. Or maybe he was just a mean bastard. In any event, President Shinra, while relatively powerless to prevent his own demise, was still a nasty SOB while he lasted; sucking up Mako energy, crushing hundreds of innocent people, consorting with deadly hydraulic robots... Was there anything this guy wouldn't do for power?

4)Luca Blight - Kudos for causing the only character death to ever make me feel sad. That alone deserves recognition in the villainy hall of fame, and besides, with a mullet that camarolicious, you know he would have been pumping the Guns N' Roses if he somehow found his way to the 80s!

5)Bosch/Cabal - And last, but not least, the lovely folks in Breath of Fire V. A nastier bunch of scheming villains you will never meet, keeping the whole of humanity trapped underground for their own diabolical means. And what's worse, you have to kill them like five times in some sort of crazy infinity loop before you get to the bottom of their vile schemes and actually hear the whole story. Also, Bosch looks mean.



Hmm.. So we can't make fun of you, but you can make fun of us? Intriguing


yo qna nerds wazaup,

by the way i want to know is MAGNA CARTA TEARS OF BLOOD a sequel or a game of its own ??? i mean is it a continuation to another magna carta game ???

and whats up with SQUARE ruining all FFVII stuff ?
ANDREW

Well, Square Enix has always been an avowed supporter of shooting itself in the foot, be it in its consistently bestselling games, outstanding presentation values, and wholesale murder of kittens. The way I see it, it's just good business sense to destroy your most recognizable brand!

No, nevermind, you just need a waaaaaambulance.

i watched advent children and it was more like a matrix rip-off and now they are doing dirge of cerberus which seems to be a devil may cry rip-off whats your opinion to the whole thing?(im a BIG FFVII and i hate them doing all of this just to make money and ruin my favourite game of all time)
ANDREW

I reserve my opinion until I actually see and play the items in question, thank you. That said, Square Enix has undeniably gone a bit far with the FFVII sequel business, but as there is a market for it, I humbly submit that nobody will care.

and whats with all of fuss with dragon quest 8 ? it looks like some stupid cartoon or is it actually good ?(your opinion counts of course)
ANDREW

Umm.. Are those my only two choices? If so, this letter is teetering precipitously towards unfit for print. In any event, what I have seen of Dragon Quest VIII has me very excited, and the fact that our own Phil Clayton has forsaken food, his beloved Cuban cigars, and his darling cat Sir Pounce to play the game nonstop suggests to me that it is all that it promises to be and more. Also, the demo disc is awesome.

as ive noticed lately alot of rpgs are becoming action-rpgs and becoming less original,are you with or against action rpgs ?( i personally think that it make battles not as sophisticated as turn-based)
ANDREW

I would dearly love to reply to these two questions without scorn, but I regret to inform you that I take exception to having questions phrased to me in a manner that George Bush might employ. As such, I fear I am left quite without patience for your irksome mutterings. True action-RPG battle systems are actually among my favorite types, as they represent a big break from the usual tedium of hammering X until my thumb falls off. If you refer to the sudden profusion of Tales-style battle systems, them I like somewhat less, but even so, I still find them to be a welcome change from button mashing. As such, it would seem I am not, in fact, agin 'em. Also, describe for me if you will how hitting "Fight" six thousand times qualifies as sophisticated.

and what do you think about FFXII ??? i personally think that it will go the same way as FFIX coz they both have the crappy medieval setting and the stupid pirate-wanna-be here,but what do YOU think about it?(dont tell me LETS WAIT AND SEE no tell me your current opinion)
ANDREW

Sweet mother of mercy you make me want to stab your eyes out and replace them with plastic explosive! I think that FFXII is a perilous undertaking at best, simply by virtue of how very long it has taken Square Enix to iron out the problems it seems to be having with the game's development. To say, however, that a "crappy" medieval setting instantly sets up the game for failure is among the stupider stuff that has poured forth from your ceaseless barrage of dullery.

what do you think about the whole mistwalker thing ?? do you think its good enough to even CRUSH square ? :p coz square are doing crappy stuff but this mistwalker SEEMS to be a bit original specially with this LONG ODYSSEY game,and what do you think about this ENCHANT ARM game ?
ANDREW

Please note that "Crush" is not the next step up from "be in same league with." And no, not at first. Square is a diversified, economically strong juggernaut with non-game holdings and a wide variety of entertainment interests to boot. Mistwalker, meanwhile, has Hironobu Sakaguchi. While this is undeniably all to its benefit, it takes time to build a company the stature of S-E, and so much will depend on the success of its first couple of titles. Enchant Arm, meanwhile, was only just announced, and remains relatively threadbare on the information front. Herego, I will say it looks promising, but as yet I can't really say much about it.

and one last question:is there any new game(on ps2) that you think is as good or even better than FFVII(i really want to move on since that game made me feel like its the best thing that happeded in my life)

well thats all for now and please dont make fun of my english
bye


ANDREW

Honestly, I can't make that call for you. If FFVII gave you that tingly feeling, you're by no means alone, but regrettably, you seem to hate everything else with a violent passion, so under such circumstances making a recommendation seems fraught with peril. Also, I'm feeling rather unhelpful.





I've been reading Rpgamer for a while, but this is my first time asking a question. Here it is: Do you find that sequels to games stifle creativity in gaming as a whole? If I wanted to play a game I've played before, I would play the first one. A good example of this is Ratchet and Clank. There is hardly any difference between the first and second game, except for a few extra weapons. The Ratchet and Clank series is on their what, fourth game? And they've only been out for three years. The engine feels very recycled, yet people keep lapping these games up, turning Ratchet into a cash-cow for Sony.
ANDREW

Welcome to the present reality of the video game development cycle. Not only do companies forsake innovation in favour of something reliable and easy, they also don't put much extra effort into gussying things up some of the time. Ratchet and Clank is a reasonable example, I suppose, but you wouldn't have to look far to find others. Unfortunately, when a game costs tens of million dollars to produce, you don't want to blow that kind of cash on something that you're not sure of people liking, so it's a much safter bet to throw it at a sequel instead. This doesn't make this a good thing, of course, but it is the main reason why it happens.

That said, some game sequels are done very well, such as the Mario series. The games all feel very polished, and the improvements and changes between the games are very significant. Time is taken for each game, which you can tell by the fact that a game is not released every year. The Final Fantasy series also manages to make each game seem fresh, with an all new universe. The magic system is also tweaked between each game considerably. Even new games are beginning to feel recycled. Take for example the recent Quake 4. This game uses the Doom 3 engine, which is literally recycling it.
ANDREW

Umm... You lost me there. Quake IV is not a new game, something you can tell rather easily from the fact that it is called Quake IV. Reusing an engine in an FPS does not necessarily guarantee you're going to have a bad game; on the contrary, the Quake III, Half-Life and Unreal engines all enjoyed long, happy lives before Half Life 2, Farcry and Doom 3 came along to blow them out of the water. In this respect, the FPS world is somewhat different than other games; since to some extent the quality of the gameplay is reliant upon the quality of the engine, you will often find developers licensing out their engines, which again goes towards mitigating the risk involved in the development of a new game. Herego, even if a new game does sport an old engine, it doesn't mean it's the same thing; tweaks and upgrades and ingenious twists of fate always enter into reused engines and often, a game can be released a couple years after an engine is coded that looks completely different (and sometimes, better.)

Seriously, how many GTA clones have we had since GTA 3? I can only hope that the Revolution truly revolutionizes gaming, or else I may quit buying new games. How much money will we give to these thieves before we realize that we are buying the same thing over and over in a vicious cycle?

ANDREW

Meh. Your meowing bores me. Quake 4 looks a heck of a lot like Doom 3, but it also seems to have more time devoted to the multiplayer mode, and eschews the narrow corridors of Doom for more wide-open rooms (or so I hear; my poor little orange crate could never hope to run such a game.) Moreover, GTA clones are nothing new either, since people have cloned successful games since the dawn of videogamedom. Pong begat Table Tennis, Space Invaders begat TI Invaders, Pac Man begat Munch Man, Mario 3 begat a whole slew of terrible games based on movies, and Double Dragon Streets of Rage and Final Fight. Final Fantasy VII saw Legend of Dragoon as well as every RPG made since 1997 emerge in response to it, and Ogre Battle was copied a half hundred times before they could even release the special edition.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, imitation is the sincerest form of untalented hackdom. It's also nothing new, nor anything worth paying attention to. Lousy GTA clones will have only so much impact on your life as you allow them to, and unless your name is Jack Thompson, that amount should be none (and I'm pretty sure he would be much less reviled if he paid them a little less attention.)

Alas, you keep asking questions and spewing buzzlines! Revolution will revolutionize nothing, no more so than did the Phantom. Sure, its distribution system promises to finally eliminate the shadowy world of NES / SNES emulation, providing the price point arrived at for older games is nothing too strenuous, and its controller is real keen, but it's still, at the end of the day, a comparatively underpowered console that currently looks to be slated for release just in time to quietly set the sun on Nintendo's chances of regaining dominance in the console wars.

Finally, I don't quite know what thieves you're talking about, but I assure you, I only buy good games. I can only assume that people who buy the trash that continually pollutes the top ten enjoy those games for some reason. I suppose that if this was having some impact on the availability of good games, it might concern me, but it really isn't, other than to stifle the ability of smaller companies to get off the ground, so if you're quite done ranting, the 12:15 bus is about to pull in and I need to get my suitcase out from underneath you. Ta!



q u i c k i e s


Ohhhh man just got to say quickly ! I've just got Atelier Iris Eternal Mana and this game rocks, the music is really good and i surprised myself laughing at certain moment of the game, its rare for a game. It should be tried by all.

Next Digital Devil Saga ... i've always dreamed to be a gothic

DesLyres
--
" I don't know if there is any place that far away"

ANDREW:Thanks for sharing, DesLyres. Be sure to let us know how that all works out for you.
C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

So anyway, funny story. This series of videogame concerts launched by JMP this week has a most vociferous cousin's uncle's father's sister's friend from Chattanooga who delights in coming onto RPGamer's IRC network and demanding we provide coverage of his distant relation's concerts. Now, the only contact I have had with these concerts was the terribly produced More Friends concert in LA. As such, I was rather less than pleased to see this hanger-on mewling at me, and I must ask: does JMP do good work in other venues? Can the involvement of Tidus's voice actor as emcee really be forgiven? Does "there was something on the roof" really excuse popping speakers, braindead microphones, and the other little issues suffered at More Friends? Finally, Winnie the Pooh. Kingdom Hearts 2. Could it be that I'll get to play as Roo? It rhymes, so it must be true! So get thee to your email-sending-thingies, and I shall see you tomorrow.

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long will not forget the Canadian division that completed its objective at Monte Cassino while the rest of the Allied forces folded like cheap tents, resulting in its unfortunate demise once it was flanked by Germans with nobody else to stop them.

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