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ASK ANDREW
Lasagna Con Coins November 25, 2005

Andrew Long - 9:03 EST

SO ANYWAY, I know I promised in the summer that I wouldn't bitch about winter, but winter has decided to make that a difficult proposition by somehow starting in mid-November as opposed to its properly appointed late-December go time. I cannot help but feel somewhat slighted by this situation; having promised not to be a whiny bitch, you would think that nature would sympathize with me and lob me a nice softball, which I could then knock out of the park with a proverbial swing of silence and good grace.

Alas, I do not qualify -20 wind chills and 10 cm of snow as much of a softball lob, and so I find myself perilously close already to the whining that I have so assiduously sought to avoid. Still, I have to have some willpower, so I will ride out this storm in my little fastness here, watching grumpily as my cat sits on top of the heat vent and absorbs a thousand dollars' worth of natural gas. I hope you're all happy!




L E T T E R S
Challenging stuff


Anyway, I've recently (last night) decided that I should hereby conquer my fear of the WEAPONs in Final Fantasy VII. You see, VII was the second RPG I had ever played, and at that time, the WEAPONs seemed an insurmountable adversary. Well, this time they were owned. And not just owned, there was actually no challenge at all. So my question is this: What games would you suggest have challenging enemies that require time and skill to defeat? You can take off Star Ocean III, Star Ocean II, and Radiata Stories(I guess this one wasn't too challenging...); I've already completed those games entirely. Also, PS or PS2, it doesn't matter. Chances are I have the RPGs you're going to list, I just haven't played them as much as I should have. I'm thinking Final Fantasy X, but hey, if there's something out there that you think will be good, I'll give it a try. Hope you get over your s ickness and consume copious amounts of edibles, Buddy Wingnut

ANDREW


How about that... There is something good to come of both Matt and myself being sick; I can steal his letters! Now, when you said Final Fantasy X I was about to dismiss the notion out of hand until I remembered the arena, which is indeed an excellent source of ridiculously powerful monsters. I should warn you, however, that it is the only such bastion in Final Fantasy X; even the final boss can be dispatched in a couple of hits, so that arena is just about all the succour you are likely to gain from FFX (though I suppose that in the end, that's all you're looking for).

As to other games, well... Not too many employ stuff like the WEAPONs. There is Omega Weapon in FFVIII, but he's about all, and if you're looking for a generally challenging time, I doubt you'll find too many people who weren't frustrated by at least one battle in FFT. The main problem, unfortunately, is that developers no longer have any interest in making their RPGs challenging, either because conventions or changed or else some other hitherto unknown reason, like the overall wussification of society. So unless you want to delve back deep into the early 16-bit or even 8-bit era, I fear challenging games are likely to be few and far between. As a general rule, all I can suggest is that action games can tend towards difficulty simply because of the manual dexterity required to beat some later bosses. I'm not sure if this is the type of challenge you're looking for, though, so...

On a side note, I accidentally deleted your email, so you may want to resent your SOCKS answers. I'm sorry x.x



Matt, Matt, Matt... Maybe I'll just change my name


Hey Matt!

It seems the Turn Based battle systems are dying. I mean, look at the Final Fantasy series. While Final Fantasy is my all time favorite RPG series, its awesome turn based system is now dead, at least for FFXII. Do you think developers will eventually turn back and revive the turn based battle or keep going into the direction of action/adventure games such as .hack or Kingdom Hearts? I just don't think Final Fantasy will be the same...


ANDREW

You gotta bear in mind, turn-based has always been an inherently flawed system, and one that has to some degree been dictated as a matter of necessity by technological limitations. As technology has progressed, more fluid means of representing the cut-and-thrust of battle have become available, and so it is only natural that turn-based would bite the dust. I think, however, that just like any outmoded form, it will still find some resonance in use for its own sake, so you'll still get the occasional RPG that makes use of it. If the last year or two has shown anything, though, it's that the Tales/tri-Ace standard of battling has become much much more commonplace, so you should probably get used to it.



...Or not


Hey Andrew!

What are you playing at the moment?
ANDREW

Well, the little post office "you have a package" tag finally arrived, so as soon as I mosey on over there, Suikoden Tactics. Failing that, obscene amounts of online poker with a smattering of old SNES games thrown in and just a touch of Phantom Brave. I remain a detestable dabbler.

Despite Disgaea still waiting for me (don't have time to play at the moment) I can get my hands on SO3 Till the End of time for around 18$. Do you think its worth it?
ANDREW

Any game is worth it for $18, assuming you have a job that pays you more than $2 an hour. Having only played an hour or so of SO3, I'm not in any position to give you an extended discussion of its merits, but I think it's worth a sniff.

What is your opinion on the PS3 versus XBOX 360 and where do you think does Nintendo fits in? I'm considering getting a PS3 once it comes out but Nintendo may have something decent this time too.
ANDREW

I'm thinking the PS3 will still win out in the end, simply because on paper it looks like the better system and people will have residual brand loyalty, but Microsoft is certainly going to make significant inroads this time around. All the projections I've heard break down a market currently dominated by Sony to the tune of 70% or so; this generation, MS and Nintendo split the remaining 30% roughly down the middle. Next time around, though, analysts are forecasting a much closer race, predicting that Sony will bleed roughly 25% of that lead, mostly to the benefit of MS. This leaves a 45-40-15 split, which I would think is a pretty reasonable expectation since Nintendo continues to shoot itself in the foot first by being very late out of the gate and second by failing to include HDTV support. Still, I guess 8-bit games wouldn't look so hot on HD, so maybe there's something to be said for it after all.

I just can't escape the suspicion, though, that two or three years into this generation HDTVs will effectively become standard and Nintendo will "have" to sell some sort of adapter, which will irritate me to no end because Nintendo is evil like that and always seems to neglect something technologically that comes back to pay dividends later on (SP earphone jacks, anyone?) In any event, if you're asking me my opinion on things, the 360 is looking awfully buggy for a console, and while I know that any product launch is likely to feature a certain percentage of the overall line with defects, I have to question a console that can run so hot it melts the discs out from under it. Either way, there is nothing in its launch lineup to interest me, so I likely won't have even a glimmer of anticipation until Oblivion comes out, and even then it won't be enough to part me with $500. I do not get consoles until their second or third year of life, unfortunately. It is my way.

And this here is for Matt since I don't have time to write on Sunday:

Question 59: c)
Question 60: b)

And I'm out.
Manuel "Belthasar2" Leitgeb
("Yummy edit, Belthasar give away?")


ANDREW

Lazybones... no giving away the answer!



Raindrops on roses...?


Hey Matt!

I had some free time and I decided that I would actually send some qna-mail for a change!

I'm just gonna cut to a question since my free time is not that plentiful - which things in RPGS do you consider to be unforgivable sins? My list is as follows:

1 - Enemies can smash your items to pieces and you can't repair them when out of battle with a skill, but must do so in town.

2 - An item, once smashed, can never be repaired.

3 - A character dies/gets captured/leaves and 2 minutes later a carbon copy joins the group.

4 - The main character hits for 600 damage a round, companions hit for max 100. Why so overpowered?

5 - The game doesn't let you pick targets, or doesn't change targets when a current one dies.

6 - Getting to a new town requires around 10 hours of mindless tasks (not leveling) to be able to max yourself out.

7 - All characters do the same things - no uniqueness a la Final Fantasy V-VIII - just have to learn them all the same skills! Ever seen a party use Ultima every possible chance against Kefka?

8 - Sequels that don't have you carrying over your stats. Why have the option if all you get is a swimsuit? And... how does one lost all their power in 3 months? Seems kinda weird to me!

9 - The Hero says he needs to go on alone and his companions say no. He does and gets his ass kicked. And then tries to do the same thing like 10 more times...

10 - Last one for now... heroes that would be better suited battling the unknowns of puberty rather than saving the world from a super powerful wizard that can kill armies with a wave of his hand. &nbs p;

I'll get back if I find some more!

Lunar 3 fails me at the following - 1-6, 9, 10. Hopefully I will be able to finish it tonight.

Anything bother you like this? Bye! ~Sean~~


ANDREW

3-4-7-8-9 are all pretty irritating, I'll agree. Sadly, if you thought Lunar 3 was going to do anything but annoy you, well, I can only marvel at the fact that you managed to make it all the way through. In any event, the one thing I really hate in a game is when a cool ability comes along only to be replaced by another more useful, but slightly less cool, ability. I should not be forced to make tradeoffs! Same thing with items; making me pick between chest 1 and chest 2 is just not fair because then I'll spend the rest of forever wondering why oh why I didn't save directly before such a decision so that I could see both options, not that this gets around the fact that I still can't have em both, which is my main issue with it. We have Zelda to thank for this one, I suppose; I hope Mr. Take-Any-One-You-Want's cave fills with eel-infested water.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Well, the rest is all SOCKS, so that's all for today. Tomorrow you may of course discuss your DQ8-related woes, and if any of you were, umm, lucky enough to snag a 360, I am also accepting 360-crash stories of sadness, and any incidental Black Friday / 360 Mob stories of villainy you have up your sleeves. You know you got 'em, let's discuss them! Also, would it kill things to warm up a little?

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long totally didn't complain there!

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