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   Ranting and Raving  

Googleshng - September 20 '04- 4:00 Eastern Standard Time

People out there are going on a whole lot of tirades. Before we get into that though, let me recount a couple odd stories from the last 24 hours. First, I go to open the refidgerator door. Normally an uneventful action. Today though, the bar holding various things in the door broke off, allowing a full bottle of Whorstershire sauce to fall out, hit the ground, have the lid shatter into a dozen pieces, and flood the floor with tasty goodness. After cleaning that up I noticed some dripping from the freezer. So I opened the door, and out slides a huge chunk of ice. Self-defrosting fun.

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Someone rants for quite a bit about WA2

Hey Googlous

I really gotta wonder why so many people are so hard on Wild ARMS 2. Maybe it couldn't stand up to the original, and maybe it did suffer from one of the worst translations since the SNES days (though it did make for some funny moments whenever Liz and Ard showed up), people act like it's 'omg 1 of teh worst RPGs evar!!1' Maybe not quite that badly, but you get my point. People are quick to criticize it without even looking at the good points it DID have.

First of all there was a lot of secret goodies to find, like all the Wild ARMS games it gives those crazy completionists plenty of stuff to play with.

Second, Liz and Ard. I'm an eternal fan of the relentless comic relief bad guys, and these two were classic. I still haven't figured out if I think the absolutely insane dialogue of Liz is intentional (because it is such an abrupt shift from 'spotty translation' to 'Zero Wing engrish') or just a hilarious oversight. Nevertheless, Liz and Ard, and their awesome cowboy meets shamisen battle theme are very memorable characters.

Thirdly, while Vinsfeld (hail Il Palazzo!) and his Odessa lackies were largely unremarkable (except Caina and her 'Randolf the Magic Key, which I admit is the second stupidest name in the entire game, the stupidest being Lord Blazer), Judecca is probably one of the most sinister villains in the entire Wild ARMS series. While most of the other baddies are either demons (and thus inherently evil, as we're led to believe) or have other motives which make them not 'quite' evil, Judecca was absolutely dispicible. While the game never delved into the REASONS he did what he did, that was the entire point. He did what he did because he loved to make people squirm, and is probably one of the only truly human characters in the series to be so inhuman.

Fourthly it had a really good soundtrack. This isn't as big an issue to most as it is to me, but I am a really big videogame music fanatic, and an RPG having a good OST is about as important as its gameplay and story. It had a large number of battle themes, dungeon themes, event themes, character themes, all of which were quite good. Also the final battle BGM is probably one of my favorite final battle themes out of any RPG, because of how it is a remix of the game's main 'You'll never be alone' theme. Perhaps I'm the only one who sees it like that, but that final battle BGM scores the game big points in my book.

Fifthly and finally, the entire question of what it means to be a hero. At first it appears to serve no purpose early in the game but to spark some cheap philosophical thought, but by the end of the game it really has meaning. Did Filgaia really need heroes, if all a hero was is someone to be sacrificed? Ultimately, I personally believe that the main plot, once you look back on it is quite good. Odessa is created to unite Filgaia, so the united people are able to work together and save themselves from being devoured by the encroaching parallel universe (one of the things not really explained too well, but that I blame on the shoddy translation), and in the end finally realizing their true strength and banishing Lord Blazer once and for all, by not sacrificing a hero but realizing they don't need a 'hero' to lean on.

Yeah the game suffered from a clunky battle system, compared to the first, and didn't have the best translation either. But neither did the initial American release of FFIV and many list that as one of their favorite RPGs. Looking past those two issues (as the battle system debate is really a matter of personal taste over universally labeling it as good or bad, I personally liked the system in Wild ARMS 2) the rest of the game underneath is still really good. It's certainly one of my personal favorite RPGs, and I get a bit ticked when people are quick to judge it for flaws that so many other 'favorite' RPGs share. Maybe it's the Black Sheep of the series, but it's still a good RPG in and of itself.

Anyway that's my rant, thanks for your patience.

-Spoony 'Unnecessary Comma' Bard

Googleshng:
Liz and Ard are supposed to speak entirely in puns. Whatever braindead loser was attempting the localize the game opted to go with gibberish instead. I'm hard pressed to think of an SNES game with that sort of confusing translation. Even Illusion of Gaia wasn't that bad.

Anyway though, there are indeed a lot of good things about WA2, provided you can deal with the horrendously incoherent localization, and the flawed battle system that made things insultingly easy. I mean, once you have Tim, the only way you can lose a fight is if someone can take you from full HP to dead in one round, and they can't quite frankly.

 
Someone rants for quite a bit about Fable

Hey Google,

This is an extremely long rant, so if you don't want to hear a lot of whining, you'd better just stop now.

I'm writing in to rant about Fable. Many will disagree, and that's fine, but I just want to get my opinion out there and warn some other readers of what you'll get when you buy or rent Fable. I think immediately off the bat the graphics were gorgeous, which is of course welcomed as that's what we'll be looking at through the entire game, and so I have no qualms with the graphics. But that's about it in the 'no qualms' department. My first and foremost concern, having beaten the game in all of two days, was the lack thereof of all that was promised. There is little to no character customization in that what makes your character your character relies on only a few things: your severely limited wardrobe (consisting of a few different types of armor, and some other suits that will never actually help you in the game), your tattoos which are almost never seen if you wear those few pieces of armor, your hair, also not seen if you wear those few pieces of armor, and finally, your ability to use the experience you've earned from fighting mediocre beasts to upgrade your statistics. I have little else to say about the tattoos, hairstyles and wardrobe in that there is little else to say in general, because you never get to see them, except when you're joking around with your friends and it gives you all some giggles for about 30 seconds. As for the statistical development through experience? Bland, mediocre and overall pointless. There wasn't enough to do. You were given a sword, a bow, and some magic (called will in the game, but we all know it's just magic), and you could use experience to help out in those three areas. You could whack your sword harder, or take less damage from people whacking you. You could stop your bow from going crazy in first person view (which is also useless as the only exciting thing done in first person view for the bow, is that you can perform headshots on your victims. It sounds fun now, but again, giggles for 30 seconds) or you could choose from a pretty wide selection of magic. Most of which are useless. The only really usefull spells in the entire list were 'slow time' and force push. Which are fun for another thirty seconds until you you depend solely on slow time. The other spells are fun sometimes...except that they are all entirely too weak to do ANY sort of good in the heat of battle. Now this brings me to another point, the "be who you want to be" advertisement...yeah...That kind of just doesn't exist. You can be one of three things: a fighter, a bowman, or a mage. Being a mage is obviously a deathtrap as none of the spells do enough of anything to ever help you. Another option? Being a bowman of course. But once you shoot one enemy, every other enemy is alert to your presence and come rushing for you, and what's that bow going to do for you? A whoooole lot of nothing. And don't depend on that magic either cause sure, it'll "force push" them away, but not enough for the bow to be very effective. You'll end up spending all of your time weaving in and out of enemies and not enough time shooting. Which leaves the obvious choice: a fighter. And exactly how do you make that fighter stronger and more effective and more unique? Oh of course...you make him whack harder! See where I'm going? The customization is slim to nill, and when you do customize, it's practically useless, unless you're upgrading the three "strength" options.

Yet another problem was the exploration factor. There was none! The map was so tiny and with so many useless features, you could literally traverse the entire map in minutes if it wasn't for the damn loading times. And I'm not one to usually get annoyed with loading times, but if it's taking that long to load one tiny segment of the map, there had better be more going on than just pretty graphics. But anyway, back to the lack of exploration and how that effects another of my points. The missions. What you're actually doing in the game. I can only blame the lack of missions on the lack of map. I just don't see any reason why there could be so few missions. Now of course, I suppose I rushing through the game which even I am hoping is the reason why I saw so few missions. But the missions I did see were ALSO entirely too useless. A mission here getting some fame, a mission there picking up some gold. Again, normally that would not have been a problem, but that leads me to my next point. The story. The story was worse than any other I'd ever seen. It left me with no profound mark on my life, and nothing that I could hope to want to play through again. They drag out this completely mundane story through several missions and then towards the end of the game, they throw you into this mess of missions that ultimately takes you through what could have been 10 other missions (at the rate the other missions were going). And then finally as if this rush through the ending of the game isn't annoying me enough, you're suddenly given the two most random choices right before you end the game. You can either choose this completely awesome sword, and for some reason kill your sister with it (It has something to do with the bloodline I guess, but I was so confused I didn't have the patience to think about it) Or! You can forsake the sword and throw it into the random vortex that appeared from killing the final boss...Well after you've made your choice, you can now play the game and explore and have fun. BUT! Get this! There are no more missions! So it's not as if you've been thrown into the small world, you've been thrown into the small world with absolutely nothing to do.

All of this leads to my conclusion about recent games as of late. They're just all graphics and less and less gameplay. Now, this game is DEFINITELY rent worthy. But after you've beaten it, it's kinda like...go around and kill people, or go around and around. Note though, that I've left out many other useless things in this rant, such as: getting drunk and throwing up and having sex (don't get excited anyone, it's just a black screen with some noises from your lady-friend). Now of course you can also buy and sell houses, but where does that get you? Oh...nowhere. It does nothing to further anything. You're buying a house for the sake of buying a house.

Also note that this is of course only my opinion, if anyone else has something good to say or something else bad that I've forgotten to say, let people know.

Buddy Wingnut

Googleshng:
So basically, it turned out to be a simple little hack and slash game with the whole what-you-do-affects-how-you-look bit from Black and White thrown in, like I've been saying it would be since it was first announced. Do I win anything for that?

As far as your assessment goes though, I'm going to have to stop you right there. People have been saying "Games these days are all about graphics and not about gameplay" since the mid-80s. There's no "these days" about it. There always have been, and always will be, lousy games that try to hide the fact behind a lot of graphics, hype, and licensing. There's also always been truly original game designers out there coming up with fun new ideas, most of whom don't have the financial backing to have those eye-popping visuals. At the end of the day though, graphics and gameplay are created by completely different people, and if you value the latter more than the former, you just need to be careful what you buy.

 
Someone rants for quite a bit about FF7 spin-offs

Hey, Google. I just came to the ol' RPGamer site, having been on vacation in a cold trailer in Pennsylvania, wishing for a warm lady to keep me company on those frigid nights, when I see that Square Enix is, in fact, going out of their SMURFing minds. Seriously. Is it impossible to make original games anymore? Do I have to abandon all my favorite franchises because they're getting increasingly craptacular? I mean, come on. They definitely peaked on the ol' SNES. Chrono Trigger, FF6, Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3... It was all original stuff, and it was GOOD! Time travel to save the world from an alien porcupine who in fact altered the evolution of the planet and caused Humanity to become powerful enough to challenge him! Fighting an insane gester who becomes a god and destroys the world, only to scrape together the pieces and try again! Ancient magical technology that abuses the powers of a deity to oppress the world, where the goddess' only recourse is to try to cause the world's temporary destruction, as a means of protecting the greater good! Why, WHY, in the hell can't they do things like this anymore? Does everyone else out there just want to scream, "Enough bullcrap, square! Make something NEW!" Am I alone in this? No MMORPGS! No direct sequels! NO! BAD! Belts are okay, but not when they dominate every character in entirety! For crap's sake, Lulu's dress was made entirely out of belts! And you forgot to program in her left leg! She's hovering for half the game!!! Well, I'm gonna go and break my final fantasy 7 CDs, and use them to cut my wrists (kidding,) before Square makes a direct sequel to it where Cloud remembers his past, and it turns out he's not a member of Soldier, he's not a clone of sephiroth, and he's not even a fighter. He's actually an efemminate shoe salesman named Wayne who has a house full of cats, all named Bruce Muffins.

Googleshng:
To be fair, that dress is only something like 1/3 belt. The back is cloth, and the top is... oh wait. Half belt.

Anyway though, I'm somewhat confused about what exactly you're after here. You're saying you want more original stuff but you're also saying you want the to make games like their old ones. You can't really have both at the same time you know.

I can say this though. On the matter of giving your favorite franchaises a rest, yes. Yes you should. If anything runs on for long enough, be it a series of games, movies, books, whatever, it's going to go downhill. You start with a great concept. If you're lucky, you can make a sequel to it, where you take the original, flesh out the bits you didn't have time for, fix up the flaws, and maybe add something new. If you're lucky, you can even do this two or three times. Past that though, the concept you started with loses the novelty, and it's time to move on. You can either accept it, and move on to something new (like Overworks did with the Phantasy Star series), or you can try throwing in some radical new ideas to liven things up (like Breath of Fire with Dragon Quarter), but that can be rather hit and miss. You could also just start coasting by on name recognition and phone in some "more of the same" for the sake of the few people who aren't getting sick of it yet (like say, the Megaman series). The bottom line though is, don't get married to a franchaise. If a game is good, you might get a couple nice sequels from it, but don't expect that to last forever, and always keep an eye out for the new and original games that don't have big names to sell them.

 
Someone ELSE rants for a bit about FF7 spin-offs.

Hey Googlshng or Andrew (or both as the case my be)

So Final Fantasy VII is getting the third sequel to the game. Don't you think that's a bit much? I mean the first sequel hasn't even come out yet, and they're hard at work cracking out the third. Come on! why doesn't Squenix take some time to see how the first one (or two, as the first IS a movie) do first? Final Fantasy VII wasn't even that good of a game! (It wasn't BAD mind you, just one of them on the lower side of the scale, VIII being the worst, and THAT wasn't even a BAD game, just had its parts) With Final Fantasy X and X-2 (hey, I LIKED X-2!!!) it wasn't so bad, as they haven't thought about X-3. Yet. Next they're going to be saying that the top four franchises of theirs are the Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest/Warrior series, Kingdom Hearts, and oh yes, the Final Fantasy VII series. Anyway, what do you think of this Final Fantasy VII Sequelitis that suddenly seems to be happening? And what Final Fantasy do you think should be next? (A Final Fantasy V-2 would be interesting, but I'm sure not a whole lot of people agree with me there.)

-Joey

Googleshng:
Actually, when FF10-2 was first announced, the idea was to do one game each about the girls being carried over. Here's why it makes sense to whip out so many FF7 spin-offs so soon though.

Here guys, have a sequel to FF7!
YAY!
In movie form!
Hey! We want a game!
OK, here's a new game too then!
YAY!
For cellphones!
Not. Funny.
Fine, fine, have one for a console.

See? Makes perfect sense now.

 
Someone rants for quite a bit about Phantom Brave

Ok, so seeing as how Phantom Brave was a let down (let's face it, it may not have been a BIG let down, but when you play the whole game thinking 'When I finish this, I'll go back to the one that came out right before it', that's a let down), what do you see coming out that's going to be the same level of thrillage as Disgaea?

What I mean in particular is, one of Phantom Brave's big thrillers is that any item can become any other item (essentially) and that any item can become omni-powerful. The problem is that I liked the finiteness of Disgaea. I liked that the Yoshitsuna was the only sword that could become X powerful. The non-gridness was sort of gimmicky if you ask me, I'd prefer the sleekness of the grid but combined with the physics engine of Phantom Brave (and they put what looks to be quite a bit of work into the physics). And finally, there's just that sort of Je na sais qua of Disgaea that Phantom Brave doesn't seem to have. There's not really any big thrillage after you beat it to look forward to, and no big extra bosses that kind of wrap up side storylines, as far as I know. Heck, even the bad guys at the bottom of the random dungeons just aren't as freaking cool as the Item God 2 (there's something to be said for a man in black).

So the point of this letter is 'What's got your nads in a knot in the semi-near future?' That, and I'm drunk.

Ok, I admit it, I'm not drunk. You just liked how that last guys e-mail ended. But I plan on doing so ASAP.

Googleshng:
I wouldn't really say PB is a letdown. It's just that, well, after playing it for 40 hours or so, I've done all there really is to do. Disgaea I've sunk over a hundred into on the other hand, and there's a bunch of optional dungeons left for me to hit, along with a couple endings. Both are great, it's just that only one of them can keep me busy for months on end.

As for what I'm looking forward to in the future, well, there's Shadow Hearts 2, possibly BK there, and uh... whatever Nippon Ichi does next I guess.




The Last Laugh:

There. Much venting, much ranting. I hope it was theraputic. Tomorrow, back to good old questions.

Hmm... well that was unexpected. Right when I was going to post this column, a large explosion down the street down down my connection. Kinda puts the freezer story to shame that.



Googleshng "BOOM!" @rpgamer.com

Someone's propane tank evidently.

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