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Googleshng - March 3 '03- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time

Today's date is 03/03/03. I always feel compelled to note that sort of thing. In other news, I just got back from NonCon. When my Page of Rantings can be updated again, I'll throw up a detailed account, but for now, let me just say that I had a great time, and plug The Occult Detectives of C. J. Henderson.

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Danger: Long'un

Dear Google,

I'm most concerned with the current state of RPG's. I feel that the RPG in the classic sense doesn't exist anymore. It's been replaced by a type of adventure/rpg hybrid (the prime example of this is FFX. The puzzles in each of the temples reminded me of something reminiscent of the old sierra adventures). We've lost something along the way which was almost crucial in establishing the epic feel of the games and the impact that the story had on that particular game world. These days you don't even get to see the game world. You don't get to explore it. What's missing which gave these games their larger than life feel? The world map. None of the next generation RPG's have had one. We no longer get to control various vehicles and explore the surroundings, or go on side quests which have absolutely nothing to do with the game itself (and before someone writes in saying the minigames included have nothing to do with the quest and often yield some interesting items let me say that minigames don't count.) involving characters in towns which exist purely for the amusement of the player rather than the advancement of the plot. I don't think I'm alone when I say I looked forward to acquiring the best airship, spaceship, or whatever in the RPG's of old. I'm probably even in the minority of people who loved FFIX because of the nostalgia it brought with it. The Invincible (the ultimate airship) harked back to the days of the Blue Whale. And if you don't know what I'm talking about then shame on you :-p. We don't get any of this in the next generation RPG's and I suppose that's why none of them up to this point have appealed at all to me (with the exception of Xenosaga because of it's mind numbing epic story) or to many others. Quite simply we've lost the exploratory aspect of these games. I'm *hoping* that Star Ocean 3 and Knights of the Old Republic will do away with this disturbing trend.

Now for something completely off topic. In Zone of the Enders 2 the frame runner from the first game (Leo), now older is still piloting an orbital frame to keep mars safe. What orbital frame you ask? None other than the Vic Viper, the ship from Gradius. Ahh...the nostalgia.

Sincerely,

The nostalgic Lich King, esq

Googleshng:
You make a valid point... or at least, you WOULD make a valid point if there indeed WERE no recent RPGs with a large open world map to explore. There are however, so go play Wild ARMs 3 and Skies of Arcadia right now.

That said, there is a distressing trend in PS2 RPGs towards rigid linearity to the extent that there isn't even a world map. Xenosaga has two excuses (there's no world to HAVE a map of, and it's really an anime series disguised a game), but the rest just leave me confused.

 
Me and my job

After just sending in my own application for "Letters guy" at Gameforms (*the sound of a blood-curdling scream*), I noticed CCMax's letter about...you!

HAHAHAHAH!!! Just kidding, actually, I was wondering, since it's definite that you've had your position longer than Thor did (the Great Thor with his wonderful Thorsday guest hosting)...when exactly DID you start this silly little letters job?

~Kamoh

Googleshng:
I've been here since October of uh... 1998? I think I'm actually closing in on the point at which over half the Q&A columns ever posted on this site will have been written by me.

 
There is a difference between a rerelease and a port.

In today's column, my eye was caught by this little quote. "The game has been rereleased more than any other game in history (insert cheap Capcom joke here)" which was referring to Lunar - The Silver Star. Now, all cheap Capcom jokes aside, I positively ADORE Lunar, and Game Arts in general, and particularly the music of Noriyuki Iwadare, but I feel it's only fair to point out that this is not true. At last count, Lunar has 4 different versions - in order, Sega CD, Playstation, Windows (at least overseas), and Gameboy Advance, 3 of which are available in the United States. This is FAR surpassed by the number of Ys 1&2 ports available, which are, in order - IBM 286 compatible, Sega Master System, NES, MSX, Turbo Grafx CD, X68000, Sega Saturn, Windows 9x, and most recently the new PS2 version under development, which if you count that one, equals NINE whopping versions, all with their own completely different graphics and many other elements besides. Admittedly, only two of those are currently available in the US (the Turbo Grafx CD and Sega Master System versions), so Lunar beats it in THAT count, but the NEXT game in the series, Ys 3, does have 3 versions in the US - SNES, Sega Genesis, and Turbo Grafx CD (not to mention several more in Japan once again). For that matter, Game Arts' own Grandia 2 currently comes in 3 flavors in the US - Windows, Dreamcast, and PS2. I don't metion this in any way to chide of course, but simply because I never pass up the chance to plug Ys, if not the best, certainly the most overlooked RPG series ever.

Googleshng:
I believe there may have been a particularly obscure Saturn version of the Lunar games around there somewhere, and it hit the PSX twice, but yes, I did seem to forget the Ys games there.

 
CHALLENGE!

Hey.

People who use Gameshark on RPGs creep me out. My roommate plays the PSX Final Fantasies with all of these ridiculous "stat-max" and "ludicrous materia growth" codes on, and it drives me crazy.

Oh, look. You slaughtered Sephiroth with one blow, you brilliant tactician, you.

Final Fantasy VII is simple enough as it is, but to remove whatever shred of difficulty there may have been takes from the RPG experience the thinking and problem solving that helps to justify games over television, plummeting the experience to a sub-TV level.

Nobody would watch a TV show with such random battles as, "Uh oh! Goku is under attack!" (one punch later) "whew! Let's continue our journey. Uh oh! Goku is under attack!" (repeat, repeat, repeat).

I really enjoyed the first little bit of Final Fantasy IX, where I had to choose between potions or weapons, and I had to ration things when out in the field. I get tired of never having to worry about provisions or money again before my characters reach level 20.

Has Square thought to instate a difficulty level? Say "challenging" for people like me who would like to only be able to buy as many potions as one can carry or "stupid" for people like my roommate who just want to watch the movies?

-Matt

Googleshng:
While it would be nice for certain companies to include a hard mode option for us old crusty folk, and your room mate is a loser in my book, you clearly have never seen Slayers. That sort of thing DOES make for a good show.

Seriously though, you need to CHEAT to kill Sephiroth in one hit?



Quickies

I heard there was going to be a second LOD i wonder if this is true.

Not if Sony has any idea what people thought of the first.

The Last Laugh:

Ah, good old columnry. It's good for what ails ya.

Googleshng "So many in-jokes, so little space..." @rpgamer.com

This Gummi Bear died for your sins.

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