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Send a Letter Mail Mac or Ishmael Recent Q&A

ASK MAC & ISH
Throat Stab
April 4, 2007

Mac - 16:14 EST

WHAT IS TOUGHER THAN A CACTUAR? That would be a Tonberry. You know it. It's your ever-present editorials curator returning to fill in while Matt vacations and it is nice to be chatting with all of you again. I'm a bit busier than before, with a column of my own to work on, on top of my job, wife, and all of these fun RPGs, but I'm always glad to take time for Q&A. It's good for business, ya know? Today is different as I have brought a guest with me. Ish has recently joined our crew as a reviewer and has posted a few reviews to date so check out some of his work in the review column.

Ishmael - 17:15 EST

HEY GUYS, IT'S ISHMAEL, your local staff reviewer/whipping boy. Mac needed co-hosts for Q&A, so in between watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I'm up to Season 3!) and working on my review for Super Paper Mario (coming soon!) I jumped at the chance to help out. Not really... he actually threatened to set me on fire again (Mac: It's true, I did.) unless I helped co-host, despite the fact that he was already covering it... please help me... Mac is really frightening... help me get away before he sees... ... ...




LETTERS
Time to Burn Some Underwear


Hey Matt,
I agree with you that we need more strong female protagonists, though I thought Ashe was a move in the right direction. (She was really the protagonist in FF12, not Vaan.) But I don't agree that Shion was in any way likeable. She was shrill, overbearing, overemotional, illogical, and generally uncaring about other people (especially the way she treated Allen... though it was funny at the beginning, it quickly degenerated into plain old cruelty). I will admit that the XS1 version of Shion was more of a cutesey, absent-minded professorial type, but even then there was a bit of the defiant jerk in her. The later games simply made that part more pronounced. She played her role well (both the character and the actress), and was quite realistic, but I hope no one's going to be using her as a role model.

Mac

I'll agree with you on Shion. She was much more likeable in Episode I, but her character developement in later episodes didn't give her a strong vibe as much as it did a weak one. She was quite illogical and emotional later in the series, but that's her thing. She wasn't the tough as nails heroine that Ashe was, she was wishy-washy, especially in Episode III, but I won't spoil that for anyone not having played it.

And chalk up another guy hoping that FF13 will go multiplatform and PS3 will crash and burn. No system is worth that much money to play one or two games.
--Cidolfas

Ishmael

Hey Cidolfas, thanks for writing in! I haven't played any of the Xenosaga games yet, but I definitely agree that video game designers need to learn from Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, yeah I'm hooked :P) and create some great female protagonists. I'm looking forward to seeing what Square Enix can do with Final Fantasy XIII, as it seems like we're going to be playing a female main character there; hopefully they'll use Ashe as their basis for good female lead rather than Yuna. And if FFXIII is ported to the Xbox 360, I'll be quite a happy Ish. Mass Effect, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, and the host of other awesome-looking games that are coming out in the next year are enough of an incentive for most RPGamers to get a 360, and FFXIII would really seal the deal. Unfortunately, if Suikoden VI heads to the PlayStation 3, say goodbye to my savings...



The Life and Times of Shining Force III Characters


Monsieur Macstorm, bonjour. I hope the day finds you well. Since I've been tossing anime themes out a lot recently, here's one for you. This is the first ending theme for InuYasha, and I find it rather relaxing. You? Well, I suppose I have to ask about Tengai Makyou IV. I've been babbling about it for quite awhile now, and I seek to hear any thoughts you have on the game. But as is now customary, I must relate a CRAZY INCIDENT from the game each time I mention it. So here goes. After finally entering Houston, I discovered the President of the United States waiting to destroy San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Houston itself using the satellite-based weapon controlled from the city. So, naturally, I had to fight the US President - who looked like an amalgamation of Richard Nixon and JFK. Turns out he was only a robot duplicate, but it was still among the most surreal fights EVER. Oh, and there was a time limit to take him down that could not be paused. So - whaddaya think?

Mac

Honestly, I'm half afraid to reply to anything above due to fear that the Department of Homeland Security might come knocking on my door. I have no idea how you come by all of these... interesting titles, but you truly have a knowledge of gaming unlike any other. Hmmm, who wouldn't want to fight a robot pretending to be the president. Most kids grow up dreaming of such things, no?

The PSP has dropped to $169.99. It still doesn't make me want to buy a PSP, but the price drop is nice. If greatly overdue.

Mac

The price drop itself, true, is nice, but is not the reason to buy a PSP. The reason would be tactical RPGs. Both the PSP and the DS have a nice list of list of those coming out. But specifically, the PSP has Jeanne d'Arc and the bulked up Disgaea coming its way soon. I've been pounding hours into my PSP via Puzzle Quest. Highly addictive, though buggy. Don't count the PSP out yet. There is still the Final Fantasy Tactics port and Crisis Core coming sometime as well. It may not be able to pull off DS-like sales figures, but things might start looking up for it soon.

I wonder what you think about pestering Roku over reviewing the Shining Force III Premium Disc. It isn't really a complete game, as the special battles cannot be played without save data from one of the Scenarios - but it IS a unique entry into the pantheon. Think I could convince him to let me review it?

Mac

I don't know. Maybe you could ask him yourself as he will likely be doing Q&A this week as well. If you really want my help with that, just send me your copy and I'll see what I can do.

So there are some DS games in the future that have attracted my attention. As I have not played and will not play Final Fantasy XII before Revenant Wings comes out, do you think I would still find the sequel worthwhile? And this Hoshigami Remix. Apparently the new features will make it considerably more fun to play than the PS original. What's your take? I put down $5 for Etrian Odyssey mostly thanks to hearing that Yuzo Koshiro is doing the music. I think it'll be an entertaining enough title, but am curious as to your impression. What's this It's a Wonderful World title all about? Admittedly I should've looked more on my own, but I'm asking you. This Luminous Arc seems intriguing based on the brief bits I've read. Will you corroborate this tentative interest? And - wasn't there a Baten Kaitos for the DS in development? Or is it out now in Japan? Relatedly, is it pretty certain that Xenosaga on DS is not coming out in English? Oh right - there's some game involving a little guy named Link coming out later this year. I don't think there'll be much information about it, the series isn't well-known.

Mac

For the first time in quite a while, you are speaking my language.

  • Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings - Square Enix looks to have put a lot of work into this little title. We should start hearing things later this month out of Japan on whether their work paid off or not.
  • Hoshigami Remix - The PlayStation version didn't seem that hot. Maybe with the different difficulty settings and whatever else gets added in, this one might shine on the DS. Only time will tell.
  • Etrian Odyssey - Etrian looks to be a very fresh DS title. Filling with what looks like lots of exploration, it seems to be a rather open-ended game. I hope it does well. Fresh is almost always nice.
  • It's a Wonderful World - This is an odd one. It is dubbed as an action RPG, but exactly how this game will play out, I don't know. It looks beautiful though, so that's a definite plus.
  • Luminous Arc - Though the reports coming out of Japan say that this title isn't really bad, just not original. I'd be interested to give it a try regardless, because I'm a sucker for tactical RPGs.
  • Baten Kaitos - I've heard nothing about this coming to the DS, but it was once on Namco's website and is no longer.
  • Xenosaga DS - This hit in Japan last year and that's the last that was heard of it. I truly doubt it coming over at this point, but you could always import it.
  • Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - A follow-up to Wind Waker? I liked Wind Waker, so I hopefully will like this as well. With massive touch screen support, it should turn out quite nicely as well.

So lately I've been playing FEDA on the SNES. There are very noticeable differences between it and Shining Force now that I've put some serious time into it. The biggest is that agility merely determines how good a character is at dodging - movement order is chesslike. The player moves a character, the computer moves, repeat until everything has moved. It's interesting. There is also the law/chaos system, wherein the more bloodthirsty the player is the worse the reputation (but some characters only join when you have a nasty reputation). Ever played Guardian Heroes? I'm taking the GBA sequel out for a spin now, and though the GBA has issues with slowdown it's a fun ride. Diatribe time. ActRaiser 2 sucks. I suppose if I can figure out a way to beat it, giving it a fitting roast via a fiery review is fitting. Unfortunately to beat it I need to take down a platformer with crappy controls. Any suggestions here? Upon occasion you have intimated a liking for Vay that I just don't feel. Still, an appraisal of your own would probably make Roku happy. If that seems too much work, could you give me a quick judgment on the game? While we're about the Sega CD - Popful Mail. Enjoyable, yes? Same for Shining Force CD. And do you know enough about Dark Wizard to nudge me back towards playing some more? We've reached the end with this: after Fire Emblem Fuuin no Tsurugi, are there any other GBA titles you consider worthy of importing? JuMeSyn

Mac

I've not touched a lot of the titles you've listed above. I have played Vay and own Shining Force CD, so I can speak of them somewhat. Vay was just a rental as I could not find a new copy to purchase, nor could I steal the rental. It was fun... at the time. Shining Force CD was great though. Mine kept locking up during my last playthrough years ago, so I think it was one of the last Sega CD games I finished. I really did enjoy the Sega CD for Vay, SF CD, and most of all Lunar and Lunar: Eternal Blue. Both of which were much better than their later PlayStation "complete" remakes. I would love to see a Saturn or Sega CD emulation screen on something like the Wii's Virtual Console, but I'll just have to keep wishing.



Xenodays of Spring


Dear Matt: I'd have to say that my favorite plotline was from Xenogears. Good thing, too, because there was very little game to that second disk. Remember all that exposition? Anyway, it's one of the only games I can remember discussing with my friends in high school as if it were a book or a movie. We were so impressed by the ideas the game presented, like that "You shall be as gods" that came up at the beginning. The whole Fei/Id thing was interesting too. By the end of the story, I actually (and I never thought this would happen) wanted them to destroy their "god" and be in control of their own destiny. Not to mention that the whole subplot with the Elvis-like superman/immortal/amnesiac was hilarious...and Emeralda growing up very nicely at the end of her sidequest. Those touches really added something as well. In addition to plot, Xenogears had two of my favorite characters ever: Citan and Bart.

Ishmael

Hey, thanks for writing in! I'd definitely agree with you that Xenogears has one of the best RPG plotlines to date. From religion to betrayal to love, Square covered all the bases in this game, all while providing heavy psychological and spiritual themes and gigantic, fighting robots! The reason Xenogears works so well, I think, is its amazing characterization. As you mentioned, Emeralda has a great sidequest, but so does everyone else; Billy's relationship with his dad which culminates in a surprising twist, Bart and his troubles ruling a country as well as his intense relationships with Margie and Sigurd, and Citan's mixed loyalties are just a few of the subplots that fill Xenogears with depth. Even the villains are memorable; it still gives me chills to think of Ramses and his traumatizing past, and Krelian is just terrifying despite his almost-noble intentions. The number of layers in Xenogears is jaw-dropping, and it can be discussed for hours on end, despite the clearly-rushed second disc.

When a guy with a whip is actually cool enough that I don't think of him as an Indiana Jones rip-off, the designers have done their jobs. By the way, even though everyone'll say this, Final Fantasy VII is a close second. Have a good one!

Ishmael

Damnit, now you've made me want to go and replay Xenogears again!



Wii Playing? Not Yet.


Well, my quest for a wii continues shortly. heading off to wal-mart and hopefully they didn't sell them early. they're supposed to have gotten in 15 to sell today at 7AM. maybe i'll get one this time.

Ishmael

Hey Kyle - good luck getting a Wii. I was one of the 5000+ people at the Wii party in Times Square Manhattan, which was less of a party and more of a really long line; after waiting all day until about 3:00 AM, I can feel your pain. It seems to be easier to get one here in New York nowadays, though; with major venues like the Nintendo World Store around, they're pretty plentiful, but I guess this is the center of the world! :D Honestly, if you can't find one around your town, I'd recommend looking online; I'm pretty sure you can find the consoles for retail price on Ebay nowadays.

also, has anyone played DragonFable? It's a pretty fun little online flash RPG.
SuperKyle

Ishmael

No, I haven't played DragonFable, but it sounds fun!



Question of the Year?


Best RPG of 2007? While the best is yet to come (Persona 3, Super Paper Mario), and Rogue Galaxy being a bit of a disappointment in the plot department and a little shallow gameplay wise...I'm going to have to go with Ar Tonelico. Even though the game has a cool but extremely easy battle system and enough spelling/grammar errors to make an english teacher kill herself, the character interactions are some of the best in recent memory. The dive system is extremely cool, and it's neat to be able to go inside your partner's conscience. It takes patience to get through some of the grueling backtracking and long but easy random battles, but overall it's worth it.

Ishmael

Hey there. It's too soon to say what's going to be the best RPG of 2007, but for now there aren't that many choices.

Well...I suppose FFVI:A SHOULD win, but haven't we already seen that game?

Ishmael

It'd clearly be unfair for FFVI to win both best RPG of 1994 AND 2007, so that's out. I haven't played Ar Tonelico yet, but from what I've seen it seems like Rogue Galaxy is the better game, although that seems to be a matter of plot vs. gameplay. As for the future of this year, I have very high hopes for Mass Effect. From what I've seen, the sheer number of choices that Bioware's latest game has to offer is overwhelming, and I love the idea of a plot that's actually affected by the player's actions. Add a massive space system, innovative combat, and epic graphics, and I'm completely sold. Only problem is, I gotta get myself an Xbox 360...



Cruel Reality: Episode IV


That Xenosaga IV article was mean... crush my soul in ten seconds, why dont you?

Mac

Josh really did get some people out there. Had I not known about it in advance, I might have had a split second of longing for it to be true as well. Monolith Soft just got back on track for Episode III and then stopped. I can't say I blame you for feeling crushed, but blame them for stopping the series when they did. That is the cruelest joke of all.

That is all...
Dave

Mac

It doesn't have to be all. Josh likes getting hate mail, so toss a couple his way. He'll thank you for it.




All Good Things...

...must come to an end and so must this column. There are quite a few games that have just recently hit (Lost in Blue 2, Shining Force EXA, Puzzle Quest) and tons on the way (Super Paper Mario, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales, Pokémon Diamond & Pearl), so I know you have something to say about these. Are you wanting to play to them? Are you saving your money for something else? Are you not interested in the least and content just playing your Sega Saturn? You must fit into one of the areas, so please share.

Blah, blah... you guys stop reading here, right? No, well just make sure to keep sending in some letters. Q&A is boring with you all. Our review master Roku will be following us this week, so make sure you send him lots of mail. It is really hard to post a column without letters. For now, take care and I hope you've enjoyed our little party. Farewell... and read or write some editorials in the meantime. *wink wink*



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macstorm@rpgamer.com
Mac says thanks for the help, man!


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