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Thing Things! February 24, 2005

Googleshng - 4:00 EST

This here episode of Abenoboshi (a silly spoofy anime) contains things from The Thing, in close proximity to spoofing the end othe the Utena movie, and the Lumberjack sketch from Monty Python. Wow.




L E T T E R S
A Meandering Xenosaga Question


To whom it may concern,

I just beat Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and I have to say, I was pretty happy with it. I've heard a lot of negative stuff about the game, so I thought I should let you know that I found it quite enjoyable.

I kind of wish they hadn't gone with the annoying card battle system. But I have to admit that using cards for summons and items (and the ever-useful enemy cards) really added a layer of depth to the combat system that is missing in many action RPGs.

That's one of the things I've always like about turn-based RPGs is the fact that each character can have hundreds of skills at their disposal. Whereas in most action RPGs you have your basic attack combo and a few magic spells that require complicated button sequences or action-stopping menus to get to.

The card system in Chain of Memories lets you strategize (in the way you create your deck), but you also get the full-control and non-stop action of an action RPG. Well, I guess that's more theoretical than actual. By full-control, I really mean you can meander slowly around a little square filled with enemies. And by non-stop action I mean the 10 seconds of button-mashing you get in between deck reloads.

Anyway, even with the broken battle system, the game kept me entertained for over 20 hours. Plus now I have the New Game+ish mode to play (it's not really New Game+, but I don't want to spoil anything).

So yeah, I hope you get more letters. Before I wrote this, I performed my ceremonial Letters Dance that's GUARANTEED to give you 25% more letters than the other leading dance. Hope it helps.

-Aaron

P.S. Do QnA letters have to contain a question?

Googleshng

Yes. Yes they do. Hence the name. Slight exceptions on days like this when time and/or letters are in short supply.



As stated above, this is not the editorials section.


Personally, I think they should make an RPG of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia--but that's neither here nor there.

I'm simply a lover classic youth-oriented fantasy fiction. Stressing 'classic.' If I couldn't leave the confines of my own mind on occasion--well..that's what keeps me so well-adjusted. Sounding pretentious? That books and videogames might prove as therapy for troubled (and perfectly content) youth, young adults, adults---PEOPLE?

I suppose it takes the right mind-set.

Ok. Now, I've gotten that out of the way--we get to the meat 'n potaters.

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne has been one of the most resplendent gaming experiences I've had the enjoyment of participating in for some time now. Years, even. But you have to be able to fill in the gaps yourself. They don't hand the story to you--you create it. That's what I love about it--you are the creator of this world--you are the one who writes the dialogue. They've simply laid the framework out on the table and it's up to the player to build upon.

Have you played it? I only czech ze Q&A section now and again so I'm not sure. I guess what I'm trying to say is--maybe gamers have just been getting lazy. RPGs originated as freeform-creative outlets for those who participated. Somehow it seems, today, that people want a story laid out for them. Go read a fackin' book if you want that, I say.

I have read your column enough to see all the complaints of people writing in but they seem so.....

Meh--we've established it's a business...we've established it's getting as bad as the film industry...so take the oppurtunity to retro game. To pick up something you've never played before and make your own stories.

I think the entire Megaten series is perfect for this kind of exercise into personal storytelling.

Whether you think this was pretentius or not--
I just want people to think it doesn't have to be this way, I guess. That you can make .hack all the more real if you just put some thought into..or you can make pasts for all of your soldiers in Disgaea--whatever. There's ample oppurtunity for exploration. Choose games that allow you to be the writer and I'm sure you'll enjoy the story archs a lot more.

Oh...And I love the Megaten seriesssss.

-Jak Kendall

Googleshng

To answer the question in there, no, I haven't played it... although it's interesting to note that you didn't sound pretentious in that big shpiel until the point where you brought it up.



Re: A Controversial Opinion


This is for Andy the other day, who was all pissed at Kingdomhearts. The Final Fantasy characters DON'T fit into the Kingdomhearts storyline with the FF storylines. If you look at the Disney worlds and characters, they don't fit in with their own stories as well as the game's either. Kingdomhearts is what you'd get if all these games and movies and stories existed in one universe, and before any of them could get underway, something went all screwy with the universe. Also, the plot makes perfect sense, though it may be a little thin. Hating it because it's about young kids just means you're cynical. Personally, I thought the setting of a bunch of kids dealing with feelings they don't quite understand while they all try to do the right thing was quite refreshing. I mean, Riku thought he was doing the right thing through the whole game. His attitude was that the ends justify the means. Here's a few points to counter yours.

- Final Fantasy characters were the first to have their worlds royally fucked, so they're all displaced and have little say on the worlds they currently inhabit. Remember how they said Cid saved them from their world before it got devoured? Oh, right, you don't. You're too busy hating.

- Cloud's wing and claw, and Sephiroth in the arena. Again, they lost their world. You don't know what happened to either of them. And Sephi was a BONUS boss, added into the american version of the game. He's not even part of the story, he's just a bigger challenge.

- Aeris is alive! No, actually, Aerith is alive. And again, this isn't the same Aeris from FF7, that never happened in Kingdomhearts. In Kingdomhearts, their world was blah blah blah.

- I can't defend the camera angles, though I had no problems with the targeting.

- Yeah, the difficulty did get you engrossed at times, didn't it? Kicking Riku square in the nuts at the end was nice after the hell he gives you.

So no, it's not the greatest game ever. But if you take it as an independent product, neither related to the FF games or the Disney movies, it is fun, isn't it? And I LOVE button mashing. Brings back memories of the old days.
Okay, Google, now for the question that gets me into the Q&A column. Do you think there'll EVER be a new, good, and original idea in RPGs? Not new original systems and battle menus and ways to equip. I mean a NEW story. Like, something original?
Kenny. Thanks.

Googleshng

Uh... you should probably read that letter more carefully before flying off the handle about it. The point wasn't that Kingdom Hearts isn't canonical with the various things it pulls characters from, it's that the FF characters in Kingdom Hearts are completely vestigial to the plot of Kingdom Hearts. You go running around through little worlds based on various Disney movies, but the only connection to the FF games are a couple of minor NPCs sitting around town, who work just as well as random NPCs would in the same context. If you visited worlds based on those various FF games and had a few things to do there, all would be well and good, but as is, they're just thrown in for a sales book. Clearer now?

As for originality in RPG storylines, there's plenty out there as is. Koudelka immediately comes to mind as a major deviation from the whole "let's blatantly lift the story and visual style from Laputa" school of thought that brings us most RPG plotlines. That plot 90% of all TRPGs have was original at one point. A few games throw some nice twists around with standard things. Then there's the SNES Shadowrun game, let's not forget that one.

The whole "epic journey across the whole world to defeat an evil blabla" schtick though is always going to be overwhelmingly popular though, just because it's so well suited to the genre. Just like how horror and adventure games go together.



Opinions


I've tried to find a copy of Koudelka in many used game stores to no avail. I have managed to find it on Ebay for grotesque amounts though. My question is: is Koudelka really the first game in the Shadow Hearts series? My friends have their arguments for and against but I figured I'd just ask the person that knows it all :-). Another thing, Does it annoy you when people bash games based on opinion as opposed to hard fact? Ex: saying Xenosaga II is a horrible game because they didn't like the story/battle system/length, versus a game like Unlimited Saga which I'm hard pressed to find a single living soul in existence that would say ANY good words about because it really is just a really poorly made game that needs to have their Quality team shot. Thank you for being the Goog, and for putting up with all counts of insanely weird/stupid/annoying questions over the years.

Pretzel

P.S. If you enjoy reading at all, I have to suggest "Power Up - How Japanese Video Games Gave The World An Extra Life" by Chris Kohler. It really opened my eyes to just how influential Japanese culture has been over the USA over the past 2 decades.

Googleshng

Yes. Anyone who tries to claim that Shadow Hearts isn't the sequel to Koudelka either has no idea what they're talking about, or they're trying to rationalize their way out of counting it as such due to some weird mental hangup they have over how they changed the mechanics and scope of things between games. It's like trying to say that Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey isn't the sequel to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, because the first movie didn't involve the afterlife or robots at all, and Death wasn't even in it!

Anyway, as for your opinion woes... first, you're being a hypocrite here, and second, I have the opposite problem myself. In the case of Unlimited Saga, there's nothing technically wrong with it. It attempted to be a brutally hard game with minimalist graphics, aimed at the sort of total masochist who's into that sort of thing, and it pretty much pulled it off. Obviously, that isn't your thing, and you're perfectly entitled to saying it sucks and that people should stay away from it. There is however a certain type of person who likes having to attempt things several times before finally finishing up a quest, and getting good skill upgrades at the end, and those are the freaks the game was aimed at.

Meanwhile, if I point something out like, say, switching characters in Chrono Cross would be so much easier if I could move all of someone's spells to someone else at once, or how FF10's experience system forces me to go through 14 button presses and some joystick wiggling, when it could get the same effect with no input from me at all except on those rare occassions when there's an actual choice involved (even then, a 1 or 2 button affair), that sort of thing IS based on hard fact, yet mentioning it tends to generate lynch mobs. See also the sort of people who bite my head off when I point out that Rockstar should have taken the time to fix that whole falling through the floor bug in GTA:VC before releasing it.



Good Fortunes


Hello Google!

Yesterday, I had a combination of good/bad fortune...the bad fortune was that I was going to buy a copy of Lunar Silver Star Story Complete, but my EB had lost one of the game discs...the good news is that I got a free copy of Kartia. I know virtually nothing about strategy RPGS; I generally stick to Final Fantasy main series titles/Star Ocean. Anyway, my question was this: what do you think of Kartia? Is it worth the time to play it, or should it be traded in? Thanks!

Googleshng

Kartia is a game I always mention when people ask for a list of 5 TRPGs to play, as it's quite spiffy. Plus, by my standards at least, it's one of the easier TRPGs out there, so it's a good one to cut your teeth on before trying anything like Vandal Hearts or Vanguard Bandits. Plus there's just something awesome about starting a fight in a nice happy green field, and ending it with a giant smouldering crater, which is a direct result of the spells you cast, and actually effects gameplay rather than being just decorative.





C L O S I N G
Googleshng:

And now I'm off to NonCon! I suppose I'll be seeing a decidedly small percentage of you there. Everyone else, enjoy the weekend.

googleshng@rpgamer.com
googleshng@rpgamer.com


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