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Andrew Long - November 3 '02- 02:13 Eastern Standard Time

Ack. The prospect of an actual weekend off is still kinda alien to me, so I was at a loss for what to do yesterday, which resulted in excessive quantities of Diablo II and sitting around doing nothing in particular. Yes, I'm stuck in a DII rut, one of those horrible phases where the game sucks you in and consumes every available moment of spare time. Perhaps writing a column will set me free... Yes, that's the ticket!

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Cagematch Part 3: Begin!

For starters, I've gracefully decided to accept your opinion about Vagrant Story. You have to agree that your dislike of it isn't because the game isn't because it's poorly done or anything, it's obviously because you have some personal issues with:

  • Slow and complicated battlesystems
  • Dungeon crawling
  • Freaky character designs
  • Block puzzles

Ok, so those things are all about personal taste(okay, everything is about personal taste, but bear with me), as I love all those things in VS. But dude, the music isn't mediocre, take that back :P And okay, the story isn't better than a good book, but still, it's the best I've seen in a videogame so far, especially the dialogues. And the ending.. ahhh *reminiscing*

Anyway, when I read you reply to my letter, it made me think about something. Most of the time, when I really hate or really love a game, it isn't because the game is so great on it's own merit. It all has to do with expectations and mood. If I expect a game to be really good(like FF9) and isn't(like FF9), I hate it more than it deserves. I've kind of made it into my own personal crusade to make people realize how bad that particular game is. But when I think about it, I can't say that the game is much worse than, say, Wild Arms, a game I find at least somewhat good. Likewise, FF8 was my first ever PSX game, so now I love it to death. When FF9 let me down, I decided I would hate it, and now I do, with a passion. It's a downward spiral that just never stops. AAaaaaaaaaaaaa *falls into bottomless pit of hatred... and love*

Of course, sometimes a game is good because... it just is(like Lunar 2). However, most of the time my liking or not liking a game has as much to do with my expectations on it as wether it really is good or bad. Could be I'm just pointing out very obvious things(I am) but it's something I've thought about quite a lot.

PS. I'm sorry that my english is so very, very good even though it isn't my first language, I can't help it :P

- Gandalf the Pink Rabbit

Andrew:
Hmm...So I guess the part where I said "good ideas in theory, but poorly executed" got eaten by some sort of evil gremlins? I could swear I said it... Anyway, you're right about one thing- I do have a problem with slow and complicated battle systems, because ideally, battle should be fast-paced, at least if you want to pretend to some semblance of reality. I mean, say you pick up a sword because there's a big evil skeleton coming up your driveway. Do you think he's gonna stop for you while you take three seconds to decide which of three possible swordstrokes you can choose from? No, he's gonna grind you into dogmeat.

Now obviously, I realize that there's an abstract element at work here- in theory, the decisions you make in VS are supposed to take place in a split second. That said, the pace at which you do have to decide your actions removes all illusion that there is fluid combat taking place, and that's what I object to. Oddly, I don't have the same problem when I play T-RPGs, but that's mostly because I view them as being more like board games.

Moving along, expectations have nothing to do with my dislike of VS. All I expect from games when I purchase them is that I won't end up feeling like I wasted forty or fifty bucks on them. I generally don't go by the theory that just because company X made a game, it's guaranteed to be good. This isn't to say that I won't be more likely to buy a game put out by a company that's made games I liked in the past- but I don't go in with the unqualified expectation of supreme quality.

Anyway, I'm sticking to my guns on the music; there's nothing there that any indifferently talented musician couldn't have cobbled together on their lunch break. Finally, partly because I'm a contrary sort of guy and partly because I feel this way: Lunar 2? *shudder* Wheee... Goog's gonna love me for this one :D

 
And part 4!

Just a few rebuttals to your rebuttal regarding Vagrant Story....if that makes sense.

The first time I tried to get through VS, I actually shared your opinion. I found the game overrated, and quit at the point where you fought the earth demon. However, one friend kept bugging me and bugging me about it, so I pulled it out of my drawer and tried it again.

This second time through, I loved it. I also discovered why I didn't like it enough. I didn't try hard enough to grasp the full depth of the game. You mocked the weapon creation system. My first time through, I ignored it for the most part. However, on the second run-through, I spent a couple hours on it and discovered that through creation of weapons you can make the dungeon crawls that make easier and less time consuming.

I'd also add a point that if you don't truly plumb the depths of the skills, you're just making the game that much more difficult and unbearable, but I'd like to keep this to a reasonable length.

However, I do have one thing I want to air out. You criticize the story, but state that you didn't finish the game. If you haven't read a synopsis of the complete story, I'd argue that you aren't really in a position to criticize.

To sum it up, VS is a game that rewards patience and those who best understand the depth of the game and punishes those who try to rush through. Ironically, by about the halfway point, rushing through will just end up taking that much longer than taking your time and understanding the game early on.

-JWH

Andrew:
Heh. The funny part is, I haven't rushed through this game at all. In fact, I've spent an hour at a time more than once in a couple of the dungeons just to make sure that I got everything there was to get there. The trouble arose when every time I would do this, I'd get wrecked up on my way to a save point, which, after the third or fourth time, tends to make one question the balance of the battle system (and more specifically, the freaking placement of the freaking save points).

So I have spent a fair amount of time on VS, lest anyone think I played ten minutes, said "OMG, sux0rzzz!" and went to wallhack on Counterstrike to vent my anger. Which, incidentally, is one of the lamest things going. If you need to win that badly... then you'll probably end up as the CEO of Enron or something.

 
And a 5-parter!

Hey there Cast. How's the day been treat you? Good? Great. I have a few questions for you (the multi-parter won't bite. Honest.)

1. Within the last three days, I've gone through about five damn ISPs in an attempt to make PSO: Episode 1 and 2 actually get me online and every one has been a dud. Any ideas or guiding lights to a reliable, cheap ISP that would actually ensure that I'd never rip out my bleached hair after spending a good four hours of my morning attempting to make the damn game work online?

Andrew:
Given that "reliable" and "cheap" don't tend to go together too often in the world of ISPs, my advice would be to suck up the extra few dollars a month it'll cost you to sign up with somebody decent. As for specific ISPs, well, I'm not from your area, so I really couldn't say unfortunately. Incidentally, bleaching your hair is bad enough for your scalp without yanking it out afterwards. Of course, my damnable boss seems to think that blond is "too extreme", so every time I go that route, I end up having to toss some red or spite-black on over top of it to prevent being fired. Yesirree.. Gotta love the workplace where putting your hands in your pockets is now banned.

2. Kingdom Hearts question. Do you think all the Final Fantasy characters have fitting voices (not counting Selphie, Tidus and his frickin' flip-flops and Wakka the psuedo-Jamaican)? I mean...Lance Bass as Sephiroth? Wasn't he supposed to be shot into space or something?

Andrew:
Well, if this was still the Cold War, that particular failure would be one more atrocity to chalk up against Russia. Then again, if this was the Cold War, they probably wouldn't be sending Lance Bass into space. Still, it's a nice thought, especially if you combine it with some Mission-to-Mars comical space mishaps. Man, that movie was bad... I particularly liked "Point of No Return" on the little bracelet computer which had no real point of reference from which to make such a determination. That and the gratuitous product placement.

3. Here's a non-RPG question for you. I was thinking about buying BloodRayne yesterday but I'm unsure. Any thoughts or comments on the game?

Andrew:
Hmm... I'd be wary of any game that boasts that there's "More to [it] than a pretty face!", particularly when it appears to be Max Payne with a breastulant makeover and lists Sex Appeal as its number one feature. Still, if polygonal hoochie'n'guns gets you hot, bothered, AND entertained, then go for it- I just like to keep my games and... that separate, personally.

4. Have you heard the rumors about a second Legend of Zelda game on the Gamecube? Supposedly, it's going to look like that little nugget of realism that everyone was shown years ago to show off the GC's power.

Andrew:
Well, no, I hadn't, but what better place to start rumours than here? Hey everyone, hear about the second Legend of Zelda on the Gamecube? Supposedly, it's going to look like that little nugget of realism everyone was shown years ago to show off the GC's power. Good old horribly irresponsible rumour spreading... It's sure to never come back and haunt me!

5. Last question. Why do they call it the GameCUBE? It's not an actual cube...just more of rectangular shape.

Andrew:
I can only imagine it's because "GameCube" sounds better than "Gamejustmoreofrectangularshape".

Snow on November 2nd huh? It snowed here (in the state next to Wisconsin, North and South Dakota) a week or two ago. Damn the white fluff. Damn it to the flaming...uh...flames of Hell!

Andrew:
Curses... The Leafs suck horribly and now I can't even win in the bad weather department. Maybe I'd best just get it over with and move out to Vancouver where they win occasionally and have better weather (at least, if you like hardcore rain).



Quickies

How dare you mock Vagrant Story and its awesome music! Best. Game. EVAR!!!!!

Or ever. In fact, ever-ever-ever, so I hear.

Kingdom Hearts or Devil may cry 2?

KH, because hellspawn hybrids of Disney and Square have feelings too, and rumour has it this one's even not half bad.

The Last Laugh:

Well then. I guess that's the weekend... Tomorrow it's back to Goog like usual, so if you're still hellbent on changing my mind over Vagrant Story lemme know about it here. Thanks for sharing your time with me, and I hope I'll be here again soon. Peace out!

castomel "Exiting Stage Left" @rpgamer.com

Cuz yo, I be da kool3st d00d in t0wn!!

Old Issues
  • Vagrant Story And Why I Shouldn't Hate It
  • Half-assed answers about PS2 games I haven't played
  • My tenuous grip on this column
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New Issues
  • The firm, yet gentle grip of Googleshng
  • Monday, Monday Monday!
  • Phantasy Star Online Ep. 1 & 2


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