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Googleshng - August 29 '01- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time

I was just detained from this column for an hour because someone was concerned that I stay up to late. Ironically, being side tracked like this means I'll be up that much later working on the column, so this person's expressing of concern actually perpetuates the cause for it. Hmm... I've been overexplaining things all day. I'd better get it out of my system before diving into the column.

As I believe I mentioned yesterday, in three weeks I'll be starting a day job to get the extra money I need to buy the games I need to play through to answer your questions about them. Oh, and for the record, yes that IS what I'm doing it for. In any case, this means that I will be waking up at noon, going off to do manual labor all day, and getting home at about 9:30. To get a solid night's sleep, each column must then be finished by 4 AM. Since columns typically take around 4 hours, that only leaves 2 and a half hours for everything else I do. Reply to personal mail, play games, perform the myrad unseen tasks I do around RPGamer, and so on. Quite the juggling act, so let me just apologize ahead of time for anything I end up dropping in the coming months. There. All the unnessessary explanations seem to be out of my system. Now on with the nessessary ones!

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Quote and upcoming games

hey goog, that quote is from Valkyrie Profile, I believe the princess (?jelanda?) says it...

maybe i should ask a question or something too...hows it goin? wait, i'll ask a real question. When are some good RPGs coming out? DW7, Hoshigami, and that's all i can see in the near future...anything i'm missing?

thanks,
sephiruss

Googleshng:
That is indeed the quote. Tildes for all who caught it: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Carrots for all the people who pointed out I already used that one: ^^^ Now then, as for upcoming RPGs, first of all, you forgot all about Arc the Lad Trilogy, and after Working Designs was so kind and masochistic to translate 3 and a half games at once for a single package too. Beyond that, there's a frightening amount of activity on the GBA RPG wise. Before the end of the year, we should have Golden Sun, Mega Man EXE, and on the GBC, Lufia:tLR. Wow... multiple handheld RPGs that don't involve monster breeding. Amazing.

 
One last letter on this.

Hey Goog,

Just to comment on the meaning of "manji", in Japan it actually was a symbol that meant wealth, or prosperity, as I recall it. Not absolutely sure. And it's basically a swatstika in reverse. You know what I mean. Anyway, to get to the main point, in the manga Blade of the Immortal the main character is named Manji, and wears the symbol on his kimono. Blade of the Immortal is by far the best manga I have ever read, with probably the best artwork I've ever seen in any form of comic. Hiroaki Samura is awesome, simply put. I'd love to see him do some character designs for a game, or, heck, even make Blade of the Immortal into an RPG.

Hayabusa

Googleshng:
This letter contains a little known cultural funfact. The rest of the mail I have on this matter seems to be various people clarifying things they said in a debate that cropped up over the weekend. Every single one of these pretty much just says "I'm on the same page as the person who disagreed with me, I was just pointing out a technicality that proves their argument isn't true 100% of the time. Sorry if I came off as a jerk." So, it seems everyone is slightly wrong, fairly sorry, and sticking by the opinions they came in with, which is pretty much how every short heated debate I've ever seen tends to end. Now that I've slain this particular one though, back I go to answering questions about RPGs which is probably what you all came to see... oh, and next time I unceremoniously kill a debate I might put in cheesy pictures of smiling suns and rainbows... how's THAT for a deterant! 8)

 
On the merits of Chrono Cross

Ahoy hoy Goog. Me again.

I now have a psx. Or rather my brother does. Hopefully, he will bring it back from his girlfriend's house one day so that I may play with it. A psx will allow me to play a million rpg's that I have always wanted to but couldn't. I read on RPGamer that Chrono Cross would become a greatest hits title and be about 20 smackeroos. I'm down with that. So, my question is, do you think I would like it? I think I heard mixed reviews. It was voted as the third biggest disappointment on the RPGamer awards. I read a few reviews (don't want the game spoiled for me) and people ranted and raved about how good it was. I thoroughly enjoy games like Zelda 64, Grandia (best battle system ever), Grandia 2, Skies of Arcadia, Evolution (hey, its pretty good.) and I'm playing FF7 right now. So whatta ya think?

Hikaru "I want to live for the woman I love."

Googleshng:
Chrono Cross is an odd game. I can't tell you if I love it, hate it, or feel indifferent towards it since I have a different answer every time I ask myself that question. I can tell you a few things about it though that will hopefully help with your decision. The core game mechanics are very experimental and different, and pretty well executed considering. Your characters get better each time you beat a boss rather than getting EXP, and combat uses a refined version of the light medium and strong attacks from Xenogears, instead of waiting for turns, every time you have one character do something, it costs them some stamina, and increases the stamina of your other characters, which allows you to use all sorts of strategies involving odd timing. Instead of MP, you can cast each spell you have equipped once per fight, which leads to some nice strategy early on. Even more strategy comes in since each character has a certain number of spell slots for various levels of spells, and the effectiveness of any given spell depends on the level of the slot you put it in. Of course, since every single one of the 40+ characters has a different balancing of spell slots, and the game features the worst interface I can recall seeing in years, changing party members is just more trouble than it worth, so chances are you'll never touch most characters you find, which is a shame since most are pretty interesting. Despite having 6 times as many characters, the game has only a handful of combo attacks. The plot is pretty original, and branching, but presented in an pretty incoherent fashion. Everyone gets stuck at a particular point in the game since it's not at all clear what you need to do. The primary ending sucks bigtime. The connection to Chrono Trigger is really pretty thin. The graphics are better than I thought the PSX could churn out. The music during the intro is outstanding. The character designs are by the guy who made Escaflowne. That covers all the most noteworthy things about the game, so hopefully you should be able to weigh their importance to you well enough to make a decision. I certainly can't though.

 
Why you should never take quotes out of context:

<snip>

Paul le Fou wrote in on 8/24 saying:

"Oh, and thanks for posting a fairly major SoA spoiler completely unmarked, jerk."

And you replied:

"Oh, and as far as posting a major Skies of Arcadia spoiler, trust me, I didn't."

But in a previous column (8/21), in reference to Vyse's two love interests, you said:

"...one being a childhood friend and the other being a magic princess, then the one he likes more dies halfway through."

This was a big spoiler for me, as I just purchased the game based on the great reviews it got, especially from you. But, I suppose I would've found out sooner or later, I guess I'm lucky. I just play these things too slowly. Anyway, thanks for reading!

-1220

Googleshng:
This is the 3rd person who has written in yelling at me about this. The first two I replied to personally since I figured they were the only ones, but the 3rd time's the charm so now you all get to here this. Here is the entirety of what I said on the 21st, which I bent over backwards to word in such a way as to avoid spoiling anything, with some bold added in to stress some points here:

I wouldn't say Skies of Arcadia is cliché ridden at all. It does throw in a lot of things that look like standard RPG clichés, for example, the cliché of getting an unbelievably cool airship and having it get destroyed almost immediately, or the cliché of the main character having two girls that like him, one being a childhood friend and the other being a magic princess, then the one he likes more dies halfway through. However, then it puts a fresh spin on them and does something really unexpected.

In saying this, I am first stating 4 facts:
There is a standard RPG cliché where you get a very cool airship then lose it right away.
There is a standard RPG cliché where the main character has 2 girls who like him and the one he likes more dies.
In Skies of Arcadia, there is a very cool airship.
In Skies of Arcadia, there are two girls who like the main character.

None of those 4 facts are spoilers. The cover art for the game shows the main character between two smiling girls, indicating that they like him, and the game is swarming with airships, so it would be safe to assume that I'd consider at least one to be very cool.

I then say that Skies of Arcadia does not follow the tired clichés set up by other RPGs. This means:

In Skies of Arcadia, there is a very cool airship, but you do not get it and then lose it right away.
In Skies of Arcadia, there are two girls who like the main character, but the one he likes more does not die halfway through the game.

I did not in any way shape or form describe how either of these situations actually unfold. To further strengthen this ambiguity, I will now present a partial listing of things I might have meant, which may or may not contain what actually happens:

First, the airship:
There is a very cool airship, but you never get it.
You get a very cool airship, and have an hour or so to play with it before it gets destroyed.
You get a very cool airship, and it doesn't get destroyed until almost the end of the game.
You get a very cool airship, and actually keep it for the rest of the game.

Now the girls:
Two girls like the main character, but both die halfway through the game.
Two girls like the main character, but the one he likes less dies halfway through the game.
Two girls like the main character, but the one he likes more dies towards the end of the game.
Two girls like the main character, and at the end of the game he ends up with both of them in a shockingly upbeat ending.

I think I just set a new personal record of line breaks in a reply. Anyway, that there is an accurate breakdown of the amount of ambiguity I loaded my statement with. Any information you may think you picked up from it is solely in your imagination, and you have about a 25% chance per fact of being right. That's less certainty than most RPGs give you even if you don't know a thing about them before playing them. Oh, and to the 3 people who bought SoA, haven't touched it, can't stand spoilers, and seriously misread what I said, make sure you let me know when you win once you finally get around to playing it. I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the game now that your heads have been so thoroughly messed with. Oh, and by the way, I DO go out of my way to word things in deceptively ambiguous ways all the time, just not usually in columns. Friends of mine often scream in frustration trying to analyze such statements. Try it at home, it's fun!




The Last Laugh:

Hmm... that wasn't quite the number of letters I usually print, but they fill an inordinate amount of space. That's what happens when my mail sticks to a few set subjects. Plus it's 6:30 AM and I promised someone I'd get a decent ammount of sleep tonight. Good thing that person doesn't read these columns eh? Now off I go.

Googleshng "So I CLEARLY can't chose the cup in front of me!" @rpgamer.com
I got smacked for the comment I stuck here yesterday... the wounds I suffer for the sake of humor... CHIMERASAME HAS A MY LITTLE PONY NIGHTLIGHT! Yeah, it's worth it.

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