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Send a Question I Mail the Storm I Old Stuff I Ancient Stuff
ASK MACSTORM
9:45 AM October 6, 2006

Michael Cunningham - 09:45 EST

HOW INTERESTING. As I start this column, I've noticed that I've started at the exact same time that I did the one and only other column I've done on my own. I hereby dub 9:45 as my official time. I have no idea what that means, but I don't care. I'm sitting here at work on my last day before I leave for a week long conference and I can't help but be bored, so therefore it is the perfect time for a nap.

Oh wait... I'm doing Q&A today.

Let's see what's in the box.





L E T T E R S
Just for me!


How seriously do you think game developers on both sides of the Pacific treat RPGs? In Japan, the answer is probably obvious, but what about domestic manufacturers? Do all they think RPGs are only Diablo clones and MMORPGs? What's the sense you get out of companies out there? Of course, sales in Japan and the States have a lot to do with it, as do cultural tastes in fun, but I thought it was an interesting question.

Mac

Yes, it's a very interesting question and one that I have a strong opinion on. We all know that games like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Xenosaga, etc. were all born in Japan. The Japanese gaming masses love these games and therefore developers on that side of the world are going to keep giving the masses what they want. Just really in the last 10 years or so have things started an upward climb in the US. RPGs were a small, niche market throughout the SNES days. As much as we would like to think differently, RPGs in general in the US are not as mainstream as Madden, Metal Gear Solid, Mario, and Halo games. Not to say that our voice is not strong, but generally I've seen that the true RPGamers are very knowledgeable about their gaming. The casual gamers are not all like us. Go work for Gamestop or EB for awhile and you will see that first hand. Sadly, that's one of the reasons that RPGs like FF, etc. are almost all of Japanese origin. We are growing though, but until we assimilate or overtake the rest of the US gaming population, don't expect any major changes. Also, look at gaming schools in the US. For the most part they don't tend to have an RPG focus, mostly PC FPS games, third-person adventure, and other non-RPG games. Hopefully, RPGamers one day will become a more powerful force in the US and we might start to see something other than what people refer to as Western RPGs.

And I forget - is this a cohosting for you? If so, welcome back. Make up another neat item - the Illusionary Storm Staff was pretty keen! I think SOCK is going fairly well, but as I expressed to Matt in another letter, I'm getting more concerned the more people get close to the top prizes. What can he do to follow up FF12 and the Arc the Lad collection? We must help! :)

Mac

Nope, this is no co-hosting for me sadly. Those cost points and are much easier. I'm just filling in for Matt so that he can get some much needed time off. Oh and a quick note to anyone that might be angry that I can just pop in and take over for a day... don't be. If any of you win the full hosting spot, Matt will do all of the work for you to post your column. This can be quite a pain to organize, code, and post. Matt and Josh truly deserve a lot of credit for the work they do here.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Illusionary Storm Staff. I just wish that it did more damage, because we seem to be getting more points each day. Like you said, those top of the line prizes are going to be gone before we know it. I guess it's up to us to do some heavy damage to keep the high end people from getting to the top too quickly. That and Matt should start giving out more Warp Stones. Hehehe. I'm sure that Matt would also gladly take offering of SOCK gifts.

Thanks for the letter, Leaper!



I will be your Final Fantasy.


Heya Matt!

Saw someone ask about FFXII's Ivalice and how it relates to the other Tactics games. Well, seeing as I've been obsessing over FFXII for the past three years, I thought I'd point out some of the structure we do know as fact!

First, below this paragraph is a link to a map image (potential spoilers if you don't want to see the Ivalice from FFXII, so you may want to stop reading here if that's the case) that shows the relationship between the Ivalice of FFT and FFXII.

Mac

Yes, stop right now if you don't want to know anything about FFXII before it comes out.

Oh wait.

Sorry, Matt is unable to answer your letter right now, but if you would please leave your name and number Mac will reply to you instead.

This is made most poignant by the naming of the Ordalia continent in that bottom left corner of the image. It would appear all of Ivalice is just a small country/region in a much larger world. Like zooming in on the United Kingdom, as example.

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k256/johnbleu/Image1.jpg

Mac

Neat. I had not seen that yet. It's nice to see world building like this without being a sequel. I'm glad that FFXII is able to build on FFT's foundation without take away or adding anything directly to it.

Now based on what we know of both stories, the two games definitely don't take place in the same timeline. Personally, I'd like to think FFXII is a long-distant and unrelated prequel to FFT timeline - a game which referenced an ancient civilization whose technolgy surpassed their own and that made use of legendary airships. Add into that the relationship between some of the Espers in FFXII and the Zodiac Demons of FFT, and it adds a nice bit of intrigue!

As for FFTA, the running theory as I understand it is that Mewt mentiones in the beginning that his favorite game is Final Fantasy. He likely had played Final Fantasy XII and is referring to it when he says this. When he created his dream world, it was a replica of that game that he loved. They share a lot of similar dungeon names such as The Salikawood, Giza Plains, Ozmone Plains, and others. On top of this, they share the races and judges you mentioned.

Now if they decide make an NPC in FFXII named Ajora, I'd be thrilled at the FFT implications!

In the end, SE has never stated any of the worlds are directly related, and it's more likely that the creators are just making another version of the world they love so much, like all of the previous FF games taking place apart from each other (with the obvious exception of FFX-2). Still, I think it makes the game richer knowing there's more history to it. Or future, I suppose.

-John

Mac

Interesting theories. Honestly, I'll be happy with FFXII regardless of its ties to prior games. Since S-E does seem to be fond of side projects, I would like to see more things like this in those side projects. They could focus on building off of worlds that already exist, not the stories or characters. They could do this with some of the older titles like the original Final Fantasy's world or even the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI. Both of those could have offline games that use the world already created in something along the lines of a tactical RPG or maybe just a standard RPG. I think that FFXI's world, races, and jobs could tie into the non-MMORPG arena easily. Oh well, I can dream.



Who's your sad panda now?


Mr. Macstorm, good day sir!

I'm going to make an assumption here. The assumption is that you have information on a variety of titles that are too obscure for Matt and/or Josh to know anything about them without copious researching on their parts. For this reason, I shall now list several titles I desire further information about - and while I could obtain some of this information from GameFAQs reviewers, their tendency to gush about titles I find undeserving makes me hesitant to trust that source anymore. Also, as a fellow Saturn owner, you just might have paid more attention to its Japan-only releases than people who never owned it have.

Mac

Uh oh. I really wish that your assumption was correct, but I'm more than likely going to disappoint you. Though I will say that I don't trust reviews that haven't been looked over by someone else. I may be a fellow Saturn owner, but I didn't have a ton of money back in the day. I did buy Panzer Dragoon Saga and all three (two imports) parts of Shining Force III, but not much else.

First up - ever played a Langrisser game? Whenever I poke out those tabs on my newer SNES I'm going to pop Der Langrisser in, and I have Langrissers 3, 4, and 5. Mostly I'm mulling over Langrisser: Dramatic Edition - so would YOU spring for it? I did in fact buy Wachenroder (hell, it was under $15 - why not?) and I'm wondering what rank to give it in my playthrough list. If you have no information to impart I will be a sad panda. Terra Phantastica I cannot find much information on, and obtaining it is thus something of a question mark. There is an eBay seller listing it for about $5 but the copy is located in Japan - anyway, what do you know about it?

Mac

You sir, are going to be a sad panda. I've never played a Langrisser game. I saw information about Wachenroder back in Saturn times and was really interested in it, but I could never find it at a price I could afford, so I was kind of left in the dust. Terra Phantastica is another title that I looked into earlier in the Saturn's life, but eventually pasted on. I'm rather picky when it comes to gaming, so I couldn't really spend my time and money on something I wasn't really excited about.

Now here's a random one; is there anything RPG-wise aside from Langrisser 2 for the Genesis that never made it out of Japan? Failing that, what Japan-only Mega Drive games might be worth picking up? I like to maximize the use of my consoles, y'see.

Mac

No. :)

Sakura Wars I have started the first entry of. I won't claim it's sucking up my mental energies with a demonic power I hadn't conceived of, but I do rather like it. Would it be worth nabbing 3 and 4 on the Dreamcast? And what do you know about rigging a Dreamcast to play imports? While I'm about this, what titles for the Dreamcast that RPGamers would enjoy never made it out of Japan?

Mac

Langrisser Millennium: The Birthday Eve?

Why doesn't RPGamer have a listing for Popful Mail? Having played it through and enjoyed it quite a bit, I'm at something of a loss here. Any Fire Emblem experience on your part? I did garner 3 and 4 through a nicely inexpensive eBay transaction, but I'm wondering about 1, 2, 5 and 6. Specifically, is 6 worth the seemingly exhorbitant eBay prices I see for it? Information about the other entries is welcomed, certainly.

Lunar: Magical School I see popping up around eBay now and again, which makes me wonder as to its worth relative to its English-extant relations. Can you tell me anything?

And the PlayStation versions of Lunar: SSSC and EBC are essentially straight ports of the Saturn titles, right?

Mac

Popful Mail just hasn't been covered YET.

I've played the three GBA Fire Emblem games. Yes, the two US ones (VII and VIII) and the Japanese one. All good, but I like The Sacred Stones the best. I'm not sure how much people are charging for VI, but I wouldn't spend a ton on it. It really is a lot like VII.

I've always wanted to get Lunar: Magic School. I really feel like I've missed out not getting to play it, but I would have liked to have gotten a Working Designs translation of it.

I can't speak with 100% certainty, but I believe you are correct about the Lunar games for the Saturn.

FEDA: what can you tell me about it? Its SNES original form, its Saturn Remake, or its proper sequel on the PlayStation? Give me all you've got! I hear about Hydlide when cruising the lowest rated titles on GameFAQs, but I want to hear from someone other than notoriously inaccurate GameFAQs reviewers on the series. We've got two titles on NES, one on Genesis, one on Saturn. Dispense information, Master Macstorm!

Is the original Magical Vacation worth tracking down on eBay? And why did Nintendo announce it as a North American release and then fail to come through? More songs about Sega CD and food! Aside from the quartet of Working Designs releases (not that I thought Vay was worth playing through...), Dark Wizard, and Shining Force CD, is there anything else in English on the system I should track down? What about forever stranded in Japan? And yes, I'm very happy to have picked up my Sega CD off eBay instead of getting it back when the thing was still manufactured. The early Front Missions - worth it? Front Mission: Gun Hazard in particular, I've heard the control is iffy - and that is unforgivable in an Action-RPG! Front Mission 2 and onwards I don't have the hardware to play, so answering about them is optional. Madara 2. I played about an hour of this when I first got it, just to be sure it worked. What we have is a Konami-developed modern-day RPG that appears to star a brother and sister duo on the Super Famicom. Don't tell me I just gave you more information than you already had. Burning Heroes. No surprise this didn't come over the Pacific when Enix had no North American branch in 1995, but aside from testing my cartridge I can't remember anything about it really. So - whaddaya got? Dark Half. Another Enix item that naturally made no transoceanic journey. But I'm betting you're one with information ready. (Good thing I don't bet for real - I would lose my wallet). Live A Live. Why should I reiterate things when RPGamer actually has a listing on this one? But if you have further knowledge about the worth of the title (kinda late when it's sitting on my shelf, but no matter) I welcome it! The Super Famicom Romancing Sagas! I understand Unlimited Saga was all kinds of badness, Saga Frontier 1 and 2 are very much the love/hate sort of games, what about the earlier entries? Why doesn't RPGamer list Iron Storm? Is it too much of a simulation game or has no one played it? If no one has played it, I guess I'll have to accept the challenge (since it's also sitting on my shelf). You've heard of Princess Crown, yes? I don't need to go into it much since I've already played through it and remarked upon the game to both Matt and Josh. Black Matrix - I'm giving serious thought to purchasing this one, since somebody on eBay has a $10 copy complete. Can you give me a recommendation? Ranma 1/2, Tenchi Muyo, Record of Lodoss War and any other anime-based RPG titles on the Super Famicom. (Note: I have played and completed Sailor Moon: Another Story and Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyajin, for better and for worse). My understanding is that these are by-and-large the equivalent of quick cash-ins for the Japanese audience but another take would be welcomed.

Mac

Ok, in the interest of time here are the answers to all of these questions. Nothing. No idea. I have no information about it. Probably, but I don't know. They suck. Vay rocks. As long as you have both of the Lunar games, life is well. No. I'm glad I got mine back in the day. Not a clue. I won't tell you that then. A bag of chips. You're darn right, you would lose a lot of money today, but I would have liked to have seen Dark Half. You shouldn't. No idea. Probably both. See prior answer. You can do it. No, and I agree. Save your money. Still save your money. You are most likely correct. That is all.

Whee - wasn't that fun? I may even have left out some titles - bwa ha ha ha! But I think we've had enough for now. So I'll close with a couple of unrelated topics. Such as: what has Camelot been up to in the past 4 years or so? Golden Sun had its faults but was greatly enjoyed by me; has the company been doing nothing but Nintendo sports titles to wile away the time? And: name to me your personal take on the game you most want to see cross the Pacific officially! Shining Force III is out of the running, because I already give it plenty of press in Q&A. I'm done. 'Applause, weeping of widows and children, fireworks go off.'

JuMeSyn

Mac

Yeah Camelot! Where have you been? JuMeSyn and I want some more games.

I'll take Dragon Quest VI. Bring it over and make it portable.

Thanks for the letter, Mr. SF3.



Gotta collect 'em all!


Are CE versions really worth the money?

- Firemyst

Mac

Most of the time, no. If companies really want me to pay $10 more for something, you had better give me something that's worth it. $10 for a special case? No. $10 for a cloth map? No. $10 for a neutered soundtrack? No. $10 for a "making of" feature? No.

My money means something to me. I want full soundtracks, a whole collection of action figures, an extra game, or something else like that.

I guess that is why they call them collector's editions... they are for the collectors that have the money and desire to buy them.



Ah, the whips. How I miss thee.


Which of the october releases are you most looking forward to? And why.

-Your former slave driver

Mac

There are games coming out in October? Oh wait.

I guess Children of Mana would be high up on the list. I don't count Final Fantasy XII, since it's shipping on the 31st. .hack//G.U. Vol. 1//Rebirth is one that I want to play, but I might wait for the whole series to come out before I do anything. Tales of the Abyss would probably be next. Honestly, November has so many RPGs coming that I'm just going to wait for them. FFXII, FFIII, FFV, Zelda: TP... I'm not going to have the money to buy those if I buy all those October games, let alone time to play them all.





T H E   E N D
All Good Things...

Well, I hope that everyone that wanted to send me a letter got to. Sorry, but I tend to post earlier than our other two folks. If I don't my wife and kitten would claw my door down. Thanks to those that did send me something.

Once again, I've enjoyed it. Now it's back to Xenosaga Epi. III. I'm almost done. Finishing RPGs takes me forever these days, because I never can find large blocks of time to play.

Until next time... oh wait. I don't do this all the time. Feel free to write me anyway.

macstorm@rpgamer.com
^^^Macstorm is like a bad penny.


Become an Inquisitor

Macstorm is waiting for FFXII to come out so that he can have a big fat "I told you so" moment. *casts Reflect*

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