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Googleshng - July 20 '01- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time

Remember how a few days back I whipped out Phantasy Star and won it? It seems that doing so started me on a strange mad stint of playing old SMS games. Just won Zillion without anyone dying. I'm proud. You probably couldn't care less though, so here's Reni.

Renidragon: One column, and I get two offers. No fair, the other guest hosts got more time than me! Oh well. Anyhoo, I guess this is it for me - I accepted the offer for Skies of Arcadia from Falcon, who sent it VERY quickly.

Well, I'm at a loss for things to say now, so here we go.

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Starting Multiparter

Hello Googly,

A couple of questions that deal with relatively new material...

1. Has the PC version of Lunar:SSS been released? I thought I read something one time from WD that said the game would be released Q1 2001...any idea?

Renidragon:
1. Good question. I don't think it has, but I'd like confirmation on this.

Googleshng:
Not out yet, and WD themselves don't really have a definate date for it.

2. Could Myau take Nall in a fight? Keep in mind, Nall's voice would be allowed as a weapon...

Renidragon:
2. Umm... who?

Googleshng:
Well, they're both talking flying house cats that heal people, but I give the edge to Myau because not only did he come first by a margin of about a decade, but Myau's pretty freakin' tough. Many a time playing Phantasy Star, I wound up with everyone but Myau dead struggling back out of a cave fighting dragons and all other sorts of nasty stuff.

3. Concerning the original Final Fantasy, why are my black and white mages unable to learn some of the spells? (warp and exit, for example)

Renidragon:
3. Ah, I love that game. Warp can only be learned by Black Wizards, Exit by White Wizards (I don't remember if the Red Mage/Wizard can learn them, though). If you're at the point where Warp and Exit are available to you, then soon enough, you'll have the class change coming up. You can go about this as early as getting the canoe, but you can't finish it until you get the airship. After you beat Lich, the Earth Fiend, in the Cave of Earth near Melmond, sail over to... umm... the town by the crecent lake. Go over to the far east of the town (behind the magic shops) and talk to the sages. One will give you the canoe. You've got a choice now. You can try to go get the Rat Tail in the Castle of Ordeals, you can go for the Floater (to get the airship) in the Ice Cave, or you can go to Gurgu Volcano to beat Kary, fiend of Fire. I personally like to go to the Ice Cave first, then the Castle of Ordeals, class change, then beat Kary. Walkthroughs will give you more information. Here's a link to RPGamer's Final Fantasy walkthroughs section.

Googleshng:
The only thing I can think of to add is that promoted black mages don't look nearly as cool.

4. Concerning old games in general, have you ever tried replacing the battery in an old NES game? Someone once told me they had done so, but the details were sketchy at best. Is such an operation reasonable, or should I just leave it alone?

Thank you for answering/not answering these questions. I am sure you know what is best...

-jaraph
"I play old games."

Renidragon:
4. Unless you know EXACTLY what you're doing, I'd stay away from messing with the insides of any cartridge.

Googleshng:
While I've never done it myself, I believe if you unscrew the casing, inside there's a standard watch battery. You've probably seen the type, little gold colored disc. If you're lucky, it'll be in a nice little slot where you can just yank it out and replace it, but it might also just have a couple wires sautered directly to it, in which case you would of course have to carefully slice it out, and sauter in a new one. Of course, if you aren't the type of person who occassionally runs down to the local Radio Shack to grab a coil of wire and a few diodes, I believe Nintendo still services NES games for a couple bucks.

 
Another Multiparter

Googleshng-

I have a few questions for the famous gelatinous organism:

1. How does FFC fare on the PS2? I personally don't have one, but I might get one in the near future with FFC and I don't want to switch between two systems just to play one game.

Renidragon:
1. Don't have a PS2 or FFC, so I can't really help you. I can't recall anything I've heard about the combination, either.

Googleshng:
Evidently, the PSX2 is less likely to have that nasty disc error problem (which makes you wonder if they accidentally used PSX2 formatted discs or something), but Chrono Trigger still has that nasty slowness it does on the PSX. So yeah, you won't need to be switching back and forth.

2. Do you know who the character designer for Parasite Eve is? I like the look of the game and the few pieces of artwork I can feed off of.

Renidragon:
2. I've got my strategy guide around here somewhere that someone gave me... lemme go see.......... No, sorry, it's not in there.

Googleshng:
If I had the instructions to PE handy I'd check'em, but I don't, so PE2 it is. Tetsuya Nomora and Fumi Nakashima.

3. Do you know of a place where I can buy a plethora of game art books? I checked digicube, but they only have a *few* square games covered (digicube doesn't sell many art books to begin with), and I am looking for the Valkyrie Profile Material Collections book. I got Xenogears Perfect Works via Amazon, but thats the only game art book I could find there.

Renidragon:
3. Can't help you there either. Wow, I'm a bundle of information!!

Googleshng:
Well, all things can be found on eBay... except nothing. If you try to auction off nothing they shut you down.

4. In your opinion, which game seems to be the most unique and intriguing visually. Mine is a tie between legend of Mana and Vagrant Story (dark is good)

Thank you amorphous master.

-Lv. 101 "Why do Tool tickets sell so quickly?"

Renidragon:
4. Woohoo! I can answer this one. I definately agree with you - Legend of Mana and Vagrant Story are both rather unique artistically. Throw SaGa Frontier 2 in there, and you have three of my graphical favorite games.

Tool tickets sell quickly, because Tool rocks.

Googleshng:
Those three are all pretty darn memorable all right. Just to toss in a few more, Skies of Arcadia manages to pull off a look that's both simplistic and highly detailed, and of course Earthbound had a look that I don't think anyone can ever forget. Oh and then of course there's Valkyrie Profile where the artistic style really conveys a lot of the feel of the game.

 
Ditching feral boy

How many rage attacks should Gau have before I leave the Veldt for the first time?

Renidragon:
I'm sorry to say that I rarely ever use Gau. I only keep him around for completeness at the end of the game. However, if you know how to use him, I'm sure he's great. I usually try to get him a few more Rages than he starts with.

Googleshng:
Most people I know go to extremes with Gau. One friend of mine took the time to learn EVERY rage, another has this sick little habit of taking Gau to the Veldt, having him leap, then getting on his airship and taking off, never to return. Personally, I say you're good with just M.Tek Armor for some nice attacks, and something flying just because it's nice to get a free float spell. Then of course much later you should come back for Sr.Behemoth, for reasons I hope I don't have to explain.

 
If you haven't had enough of the topic...

I'm sure you already have gotten several letters about the source of Aegis, but this would be definitive.

"AEGIS:

A protective device that was originally associated with Zeus, but also, and later solely, with Athena. It is variously considered to be a bright-edged thundercloud (because when Zeus used it lightning flashed and thunder sounded) fashioned by Hephaestus, or the skin of the divine goat Amaltheia. It is represented as a sort of cloak, sometimes covered with scales and fringed with serpents, and with the head of Medusa fastened in the middle. The Aegis could also serve as a shield and in that fashion Athena wears it upon her breastplate. " (from the Encyclopedia Mythica)

The Aegis was not the shield that Perseus used to kill the Medusa, but the head of the Medusa was later fastened on the Aegis when, after slaying the beast, Perseus gave the head to Athena as a present.

Greek mythology, like mythology in general, is fascinating, and videogames are an interesting segway into the mythology of different cultures. Anyways, if anyone else is interested, I highly recommend the Encyclopedia Mythica (www.pantheon.org) which chronicles the mythology of almost all ancient cultures. It will at the very least, give you an idea of why (though the representations aren't always accurate) summons have those particular names.

And questions just in case: I've been out of the swing of things in terms of videogames for the past few months; what games have been released that you recommend?

Also, I've heard that Nintendo and Square might work together again in the future with Gamecube, but is there a possibility that the Final Fantasy games (specifically X) will be ported to Gamecube? I'm not all that anxious to buy a PS2 unless I need to, and I think at this point the software developers will be more important than the hardware, so it would be good to know what systems they'll be published on.

Thanks,

The Duke

Renidragon:
That's some REALLY interesting info. I'll have to check that site out some time.

Recent games. Well, the two new Gameboy Color Zelda games (Oracle of Seasons/Ages) are fun. Dragon Warrior 3 for GBC is also out now. Other than that, I can't really think of any recently released games.

Googleshng:
OK, between this and what I said over the last couple days, I think the word Aegis is pretty much covered. Now then, as far as recent games go, the action HAS honestly all been on the GBC lately. Over the last half a year or so I've noticed a weird trend like that. A clump of spiffy games come out for the PSX with nothing else going on, a clump on the DC, a clump on the N64 (which I STILL need to pick up), and now a GBC clump. There's also the whole GBA library, although the only RPG there is Castlevania, and then only if you go buy the definition "If RPGamer covers it, it's an RPG" (and at THAT, it's really really tenuous). Anyway though, there's Zeldas and DW remakes, then over the next couple months we get another PSX batch in theory, which will include Hoshigami and Arc the Lad trilogy, great news for Tactical fans. Then of course after THAT there's the Gamecube launch which should keep you happy for a bit. This of course leads into your second question. It's entirely possible that Square could port FF10 to the Gamecube, with FF11 it's even likely. With 10 though, the only way I can really see it happening would be if, say, the Gamecube were to just totally blow everyone else out of the water this holiday season. Now, how likely is THAT, who knows? If you were to go back in time to the SNES days and tell ANYONE that in the year 2000 the must-have system will be a CD-ROM based console from Sony, they'd laugh in your face. Looking back at the last few years though, if someone from the future came back now and told me that in 8 years, everyone will be swearing by a system made by Quaker Oats, I'd believe it. It's a crazy crazy industry we all love.

 
People suck due to evil space monster! Film at 11!

Chrono spoilers... kinda

All right, I have a question concerning the basic plot behind Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, and since CT recently got re-released, I figured this would be a good time to ask. Anyhow, in CC there is a point in the game (I believe it's when you are going to regain Serge) where it mentions that the people supposedly evolved as a result of Lavos falling to earth, and that it was something along the lines of an unnatural, forced evolution. This is supposed to explain in the game why people are supposed to be out of touch with nature, feel incomplete, etc.
Anyway, my question is that doesn't this cause a major loophole in the over-all continuity of the series? It doesn't make sense because in CT it definitely shows people such as Ayla and her tribe already being there when Lavos comes crashing down to earth. I was just wondering if I am misunderstanding or if the game designers decided to just ignore what was already established in the first game.
-Brian.

Renidragon:
I would assume that the game designers just ignored that little plot hole. Then again, the word "Supposedly" is in there. Also, it could be that the people in question evolved from Ayla's people because of Lavos. I never got very far in Chrono Cross, so I can't really expand on this more.

Googleshng:
There's 3 main theories on the matter. There's the Writers Smurfed Up theory, the one Reni just mentioned, or the Lavos Messed With Life On The Planet While It Was Still In Space Headed For It Theory. I suppose there could also be a Bad Translation theory saying that what it meant to say is that if there was no Lavos, then the reptites wouldn't have died and humans wouldn't have become the dominant life form.

 
Cost

Well this is a letter about well game development. With all these new consoles coming out many people are complaining how much it costs to make a game. I was wondering in actuality how much does it cost?

For example how much would it cost to make a game like Hoshigami in comparison to Final Fantasy X?

I was thinking to risk it all and well start a game company y'know a kinda indie game company and well make games in which gameplay, storyline, and character are more of a factor than the outlandish graphics and 5.1 sound. I truly do feel that well now the gaming industry has shifted to become a capitalistic battleground and games (I know its not a RPG but hey) Jet Grind Radio and the like are cast aside if theres not some mass buzz about it.

Renidragon:
I'll... have to pass on this one.

Googleshng:
Really, it all depends on how much you pay your staff. Honestly speaking, if you can find a decent freeware compiler, art program, and sound program, then either do everything yourself or find people willing to work for free, you can develop a game without it costing you a dime. What it WILL cost you is several years of your life, at the end of which you'll have to spend several more years trying to land a publish who will almost definately force you to make a completely unrelated game before letting yours see the light of day. Actually publishing a game always costs money, for the actual burning of discs/assembly of carts, box art, advertising, etc. (unless of course you just go shareware). Then of course if you're not just making a PC game, there's the cost of buying a dev kit from the console maker, and dealling with whatever licensing fees. Still though, if you really penny pinch, you can get a decent game out the door at a cost of just a couple hundred dollars (and a quarter of your life). On the other end of the spectrum, bigshot companies like Square can start making a game, then just throw a few million dollars at some people and tell them to make some nicely rendered FMV, toss some more cash at a famous artist for some character designs, some more at a famous musician, and so forth, leaving just the meat of the game in the hands of whoever came up with the idea. So basically, making a game costs as much money as you feel like throwing at other people to do some of the work for you, with the specific prices depending on how fast you want stuff done and how talented the guy you get to do it is. The really tricky part though is finding people to throw said money at, which is why most start-up developers are just a few friends working out of a closet, which is in turn why only a scant few of those actually make it big.

 
Cost

Hey goog, and reni,

I have always read your coloumns and only wrote in a few times. Anyway I'll get to the questions,

1) Going back to 1983 or 84 or 85, I can't remember, when the nintendo was first born, who was the guy that invented it? And shouldn't we all be praising him? I mean wasn't that the first personal gaming console that rocked the market? I mean the others like intellavision and comadore 64 and so on were still there, but did the nintendo not blow them out of the water?

Renidragon:
1. I don't know. I do know that "Nintendo" originally started out as a trading card company.

Googleshng:
Well, you're a bit off on your history, so let me just clear things up a little bit. Way back when, games were pretty much an arcade only thing. Home systems sprung up here and there, but the first company to really get a foot in the door was Atari. They went through a few systems in a pretty short period of time, and a good chunk of people bought'em, and got a decent number of games for them. All these games were ports of classic arcade games though, and generally not all that great at that, so arcades still had a bit of dominance there. Anyway though, then in the early 80s a little thing happened called the Great Videogame Crash where basically everyone in the industry went broke. Then along came the NES and honestly, it didn't miraculously revive the industry then and there. It mostly sat on shelves along with whatever system Atari had at the time, and a couple other half dead consoles. What really picked things up was when Super Mario Bros. came out. It wasn't because it was an amazingly good game mind you (which at the time it REALLY was), it was because it was darn long. Before SMB came along, pretty much every videogame in existance was pretty much 4 or so levels that just looped over and over with the monsters getting faster each time and the funky little fruits being worth more points. So the main way to get a sense of accomplishment was to just rack up the highest score you could and then sit back and watch other people try and beat it. With SMB though, there were 32 unique, large, and varied levels, so just getting through the whole thing was a pretty big accomplishment. It was also a pretty time consuming accomplishment which couldn't be made by just memorizing 3 or 4 simple patterns then burning them into your reflexes, so it really was best played at home for a flat cost rather than in an arcade for a quarter a shot. Anyway though, there's where videogames made the big upturn that eventually led us to today where they're one of the principal killers of time all around, have stories, have big budgets, and all that. SO, if you want to get down on your knees and thank one particular person for the current existance of the video game industry, make it Shigeru Miyamoto. On a side note, if I'd gotten a later flight home from E3 and hadn't just barely missed a freak chance to actually meet him, I might have actually done that. Oh, and if you're really interested in this sort of thing, there's quite a few books (mostly by grizzled ex-Atari employees) on the history of the videogame industry which go into a WHOLE lot more detail and I would hope have their facts a lot straighter than my rememberence of passages from them coupled with surprisingly detailed memories of the first four or five years of my life.

2) And this one is like a rant and a question. Why is everyone always so down on square when the try and port a game across the seas to North America? Everyone is always complaining about the few bugs, and the long load times. But in all honesty, it gives alot of the people a chance to play classic games which have been long taken off the market. For those of us whose SNES's have broken and lost the games and whatnot. My question is, do you guys really think it was worth it? If they had the chance to do it all over again and it was up to you, would you say yes? even thought CT would have long load times etc...? I know I would.

Renidragon:
2. I think you said it there. I agree. As long as I can play through a game that we never got over here, I'm happy to have it, with or without load time. Translation on the other hand... Well, that's FF5. My SNES still works, but I don't have CT anymore, so I'd like to get FFC. Mostly for FF4, though.

Googleshng:
I've never heard of anyone complaining about a game being brought to North America. So I'll just mentally replace that phrase with porting games to the PSX. There, again, I highly doubt anyone has a problem with the fact that they're doing that. What people have problems with is making SLOPPY ports of old games to the PSX. If Square had really wanted to, they could have brought FF4-6 and Chrono Trigger to the PSX with no slowdown, improved graphics, and other improvements here and there. Instead, they simply made some very very very rushed ports, which literally amounted to dumping the code to the games onto CDs, adding a little FMV, and then fiddling with them just enough to make them actually run. When they brought FF4 to the US, they DID polish it up quite a bit which deserves some credit of course. Still, if you compare FFA to, say, the Lunar remakes, or even the DW remakes, you can see why some people are griping. To make an analogy with movies, the really popular games just get rereleased with new box art while the obscure games get digitally remastered directors cuts with added footage. When it comes to FFC, I personally don't really care either way, since I've had both games for years and they still work just fine.

3) And finally, the NES game DOAE (Destiny of an Emporer). Did anyone LOVE that games as much as I did? And I heard that they made a sequel to is for NES, and then another one for SNES. I was wondering if you knew if these ever got translated and shipped to North America? I think at one point I owned two copies of the first one incase of anything ever happening to it. I really think you guys should cover it. It was a classic in my gaming library, as well as my heart.....

Thanks a bunch....

Kainage.............

Renidragon:
3. No, DoaE 2 wasn't brought over here, I don't think. I probably shouldn't tell you that there's a ROM translation out there, because that would start the whole emulation argument again, so it's better you don't know.

Googleshng:
Never played it, but I seem to recall hearing good things back in the day...



Quickies

Less talkie, more cookie

Renidragon: Cookie. Yum.
Google: OK...

just something to add to the whole FFC thing. There are a total of 13 anime cutscenes.

Renidragon: Good to know. Google: I know many a person who just got lazy and ripped them all too.

The Last Laugh:

Renidragon: Well, I guess my figurative "15 minutes of fame" is all up... normally I have some witty things to say, but not much came up during these two columns that I could be witty about. Oh well. Anyways, if you want to contact me, my mailbox is open. I don't get much email. A friendly note from a stranger who saw this column here would be nice.

Signing off,
-Renidragon

Google: Hmm... did you ever notice that there's days when every question I get can be answered in just one or two sentences, and then there's days when I get nothing but multiparters where one part requires a full page essay to cover? You'd really think there'd be a more even spread. Anyway, it's about 6 AM now, and while I know who's doing the column this Sunday and Monday, tomorrow is still pot luck. You'd think after CC being on vacation this long, it'd sink in to everyone's head that Saturdays are up for grabs and telling me they want to do it before the last minute would result in letters that address them by name. I'll just have to start in with childish little jokes in the mailto when this happens.

Googleshng "Champ runs slower than J.J. crawls." @rpgamer.com
Funny how even during boiling hot summers, it's chilly at 6 AM.

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