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ASK BOOJUM & MATT
Oh Sweet, Sweet Day
April 24, 2007

Boojum - 19:58 EST

WELCOME, LOYAL READERS, to another installment of RPGamer Q&A. When last we left Q&A, Wonderslime was beset on all sides, in danger of being overrun by hordes of ravenous letters, while also mounting a valiant defense of the fabled artifact Thee'sys. In today's episode, he is joined by an unexpected ally in the form of Boojum, who attempts to hold the letters at bay. Will their combined might be enough to prevail, or will they be swallowed by the tide of words? Read on to find out!




LETTERS
An oddly-named game for an oddly-named system.


Hey!

So, I ended up buying the Wii. It still hasn't arrived, but my brother is excited, and so am I. I'll try to make sure to drop you my impressions in the near future. Thanks for the advice.

Boojum

Nice! I got one about a month ago, but the week after I got it, I got a new job with a schedule that drastically curtailed my game-playing time at home. The little I've played of Zelda has been fun, and Wii Sports and Monkey Ball have gotten some good use when friends have been visiting.

On the subject of world maps in RPGs, I said it in many places, it's one of the things I miss the most in the recent Final Fantasies and such. But I think things are about to change real soon, Revenant Wings will have a world map which you can actually travel using your airship (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl4klhKg8rE yey!) and Nomura said in an interview that he want to insert this feature in Final Fantasy Versus XIII since he loves airships so much.

Looks like the future is bright for overworld maps my friend, let's keep hope!

Boojum

Very cool - I've always loved the sense of exploration that you get from a world map with some real freedom. Let's hope the one in Revenant Wings is more than just a glorified "select which island you want to land on" menu.

Let's talk generally here for the sake of this question: what do you usually like more, stylized designs or realistic ones? The games that attract me every time are the most colorful ones, those that uninformed people would consider to be the "childish" ones. It has been like this forever, I'm (much) more inclined to love a game with character designs like Kingdom Hearts and Ape Escape than, say, Gears of War or Half Life (not taking gameplay in consideration). Not that I don't play games with that kind of art direction, on the contrary. For example I like God of War a lot, but I would have surely replayed it a LOT of times more if Kratos' design was more to my likings... I know, it's a matter of tastes and if that particular art and graphics would fit well or not with the game itself, but the "realistic" ones hardly appeal and fatally end up looking all the same to me.

Boojum

Since there's only one "reality," I think it's pretty much inevitable that all the games trying to exactly mimic it will also tend to look like each other, and will end up using lots of drab grey and brown. I'm all for distinctive art styles, and I think that visual design is a much more important component of how attractive a game is than the technical details. That said, I don't want to automatically equate "stylized" with "colorful/childish looking". I would consider Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne to be one of the overall best-looking games I've played in the past few years (along with Baten Kaitos, Dragon Quest VIII, and World of Warcraft), but its style is very dark and sharp-angled. I actually liked the art style of God of War, and felt that it wasn't so much realistic as a sort of exaggerated, heavy-metal interpretation of Greek mythology (much like 300, come to think of it). I have nothing against realistic-looking games in principle, and I think it's the right choice for some games, but in practice, games that are closely based on reality don't tend to appeal to me, so I generally wind up avoiding them.

What you think about Opoona? It doesn't seem to get much love, but I'm looking forward to it.

Boojum

Ooh, intriguing. This one hadn't even been on my radar until now, but after hunting down the trailer (http://www.opoona.com/movie.htm), it looks like it has some real potential. As much as I like stylized visual styles, the "playmobil" look of the characters doesn't entirely grab me, but the second half of the trailer shows some nice battle sequences with imaginative monster designs. Getting more RPGs for the Wii is definitely a big plus. Has this even been confirmed for a US release?

Random: I want Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker already, where is the English version release date, Squeenix???

Boojum

Damn straight! I've been wanting this ever since it was announced.

-Franklin (Way to the Dawn on the forums)

Boojum

Good to hear from you, Franklin - thanks for tipping me off about Opoona.



A word of warning!


Hello Guy Who Has Same Name As My Cousin,

Matt

Exactly the same? First name? Last name? Maybe I am your cousin! *gasp*

Man, I gotta say, having that little sidebar of topic ideas sure does make it that much easier to write in with a question.

Matt

Excellent! That's kinda the point.

Anyway, I'm gonna tackle two more questions this time.

-What awful game do you secretly love to play?

This one is tricky, because by today's standards it might been seen as awful, but back in the day it was a phenom. Resident Evil. My god, the dialogue. When I first played it, my friends and I started a new game with Jill at least 3 times just to play the first 10 minutes. "Blood. I sure hope this isn't CHRIS' blood." And when Barry kills that first zombie, and laughing says, "What IS it?" God, it was amazing.

Matt

Is it only the dialogue that makes it completely bad? I can think of a lot of great games with awful, horrible voice acting. Have you ever played Star Ocean: The Second Story?

Now, it is when terrible gameplay coincides with terrible dialogue that it's truly time to point and laugh. Case in point: Mega Man X7. Just don't, if you haven't. Yeah, yeah, it's not an RPG, I know.

I was watching Final Fantasy: TSW, and I got thinking about video game based movies, and how horrible most of them are. Resident Evil in particular sticks out in my mind, seeing as how it's one of the most beloved franchises in video gaming history. It just boggles my mind how badly they screwed that movie and it's sequels up so bad. The first movie had nothing in common with the game except for zombies and Umbrella, and the second one was only better because it actually added in a few characters from the games. When you have a hugely successful game like that, with equally successful sequels, you ahve the blueprint for movie goodness right IN THE GAMES. The first movie could easily incorporated every element from the games, from the mansion to the enemies to the lab and on into the the next game with Raccoon city and actually including the REAL Resident Evil characters. I didn't think it was that difficult, but obviously I was wrong, so, afer much rambling and complaining, I pose a question to you Matt:

What is your favorite movie based on a video game?

-Frammy

|= |=

Matt

Ahh. This is a better question than the slightly different one: "Which video game based on a movie is your favourite?" The answer to that, of course, is "NONE, GO AWAY."

However, it's still the case that most video game-inspired movies are pretty awful still. I'm hard-pressed to think of one that I actually enjoyed. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was cool but really quite boring, I thought. My mom and dad liked the movie better, which is funny; I've found that many non-gamers enjoyed the movie much more than hardcore FF fans. Yeah, I still can't think of any as I type on, so I'll go out on a limb and say "Pokémon: The Movie" or whatever the first one was called. I was mildly entertained by it, if I recall.

Thanks, Frammy!



PSP: Potentially Super Portable?


Hey Matt,

About the one guy that was wondering if he should pick up a PSP or 360. I myself recently picked up a PSP for a similar reason that he wanted it for, to play older games wherever I'm at. There's actually an ebootloader program where you can turn your PSX games into files that can be played without the need for an emulator, so I ripped Breath of Fire 3 and Wild ARMs 2 to put on the memory stick.

Boojum

Now that, along with the recent price drop, would be enough to make a PSP kind of attractive if there weren't so many games I'm trying to get around to on my DS. That program to let you play PSX games on it sounds great (as far as I'm concerned, once you've bought the game, you should be able to play it on whatever platform you choose), but are there issues with the firmware? I keep hearing that new games incorporate firmware updates that kill off homebrew programs, and I hate the idea of having to choose between retro compatibility and new releases.

The other reason for the PSP is the system is actually starting to pick up on a lot of good games. Gundam Battle Royale and Mega Man Powered Up are games I picked up and already own, but it's coming out with Dracula X Chronicles(3d and original Rondo of Blood plus Symphony of the Night) which I'm definitely picking up. While Final Fantasy Tactics is an enjoyable game, but I wouldn't pick up the PSP version. However, Final Fantasy 1 being rereleased once again interests me slightly(yet I'm not picking it up either.) Sure I own four copies of the game from varying systems, but it's possibly the only game in the series that deserves as many releases as it gets and not because it's the best game, but because it's an amazing game that can be reworked to offer different style of play or additions to it. The only other game that could be reworked to be different is FF2 and in my opinion needs it badly. If FF2 had a level based gameplay and removed the weapon and spell levels then the game would actually be really good, but every single release the game has had and it's remained the same pathetic game in each one. The only Square Enix games I'd end up picking up would be a completely remade version of FF2 like how I stated above or Front Mission 5, Front Mission 1st DS, or Dragon Quest Monsters Joker.

-andrew- -kupomogli-

Boojum

Wow, that's a dense paragraph! Not much interest in Gundam or Mega Man, but Dracula X Chronicles would be on my must-buy list if I had a PSP. I already own FF Tactics, and while I would like a better translation, it wouldn't be enough for me to buy it over again. FF 1 and 2 I already have in Dawn of Souls for GBA, so no interest there. I'm not entirely sold on the idea of revamping the entire gameplay system for FF2 - the main attractions it has at this point are as a historical curiosity, nostalgia for those who played it as kids, and completists who want to play all the FF games, and if you took out the unique gameplay elements (as bad as they may be) it would lose that. I'd rather just see a new game at that point. The Front Mission series has always intrigued me, but I've never quite tried it. DQM: Joker, on the other hand, looks great, and I'd be happy to grab it if it makes it over here. Thanks for weighing in, Andrew!

Matt

Man, yeah. I would not be too impressed if they went through and massacred FF2's battle system. Even if it has its flaws, it was remarkably original for its time. I was really pissed off when they converted to "MP" in one of the recent Final Fantasy 1 remakes- I think it was the Dawn of Soul FF1, but there are so many these days that it is rather difficult to keep track.



Want a trip down memory lane? Drive to my hometown, Chatham. The Alzheimer's Society is actually located on a road called "Memory Lane." It's almost too awful.


Hi Matt!

You know, I really need to start sending in letters a little more often. I try to save comments from a previous letter so a not to make them too long, then I completely forget them. Maybe I should write them down or something...

Matt

Oh, it's true. I'm falling into the depths of senility as well as I get older; I can turn around from doing something and completely forget what I was doing within a matter of minutes. Don't feel obligated to write in, though... unless, of course, I go on one of those "AHH, I need letters so I'm going to make you feel verrrry verrrry guilty about it!" days. But, you guys have written so much lately, I don't really need to. Yay.



Rowwwwrg.


Sir Boojum, we meet again. Salutations.

Boojum

Well met, JuMeSyn!

I'm still on the anime theme junket. http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/2670/8 comes from Video Girl Ai, which is a surprisingly sweet six-episode show. I like that tune.

Boojum

Pleasant and peppy, if not particularly memorable.

Had I known you regularly read the reviews updates, I wouldn't have pushed mine. But unless you'd mentioned it prior to that last co-hosting the information was not well known. I've kept up an esoteric trend in my reviews, eh?

Boojum

That's putting it mildly - you're rapidly cementing your reputation as RPGamer's foremost connoisseur of the truly obscure.

Let's see here - I did try, briefly, to pick up a Gamecube. After four or five eBay auctions in which I got outbid at the last moment, I've given it up for now. And it's for the best when I discovered even more titles on the systems I already own that I want to pick up. I never did round out my Dreamcast library very well, even if Time Stalkers is probably not worth much.

Boojum

Hmm, I'm pretty surprised that there's still that much demand for the venerable Gamecube with the Wii on the market. It may be partially due to some spillover demand, so you might try again once the Wii is no longer sold out everywhere. I've always felt that the 'cube doesn't get anywhere near the respect it deserves on the RPG front. Gladius, Baten Kaitos, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Paper Mario, and Fire Emblem were all excellent, and then of course there's the sort-of-RPG Zelda games and also Tales of Symphonia, which a lot of people liked, even if I wasn't one of them. I got my Dreamcast right after it was discontinued, so I missed out on a lot of games that weren't readily available by that point (it was still well worth the purchase for the likes of Crazy Taxi, Power Stone, Soul Calibur, and Skies of Arcadia, though). I have vague memories of seeing or hearing about Time Stalkers, but never played it.

In addition to that, my DS library has increased 11-fold since we last spoke on it. That really cements it: I don't need any other systems. I can keep exploring the ones I own for a loooooong time.

Boojum

No doubt about it. My DS is getting a lot more play than any of my other systems at this point. Partially, that's because I've started a new job and am now working 9-6 and getting home much later than I used to. Being able to keep it in my pocket wherever I go and play when there's a bit of free time is great. Moreover, though, there are just so many great games available, and it doesn't show any sign of slowing down any time soon. I recently played through Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime and Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, which are pretty much polar opposites in everything except for visual style and sense of humor, but which were both very enjoyable despite their flaws (lack of challenge for Rocket Slime; occasional repetitiveness for Izuna).

I'm trying to decide whether to pick up Pokemon now that it's out or not - I still have a few games left in the DS backlog, and I really don't want to start a new time-sink RPG when Etrian Odyssey is right around the corner, since I know I'll drop whatever I'm playing when that comes out. It's a title that hasn't gotten a whole lot of hype, but it looks like a great return to the dungeon exploration and flexible party tactics of games like the old Wizardry and Might & Magic games that I cut my teeth on.

Boojum

No doubt about it. My DS is getting a lot more play than any of my other systems at this point. Partially, that's because I've started a new job and am now working 9-6 and getting home much later than I used to. Being able to keep it in my pocket wherever I go and play when there's a bit of free time is great. Moreover, though, there are just so many great games available, and it doesn't show any sign of slowing down any time soon. I recently played through Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime and Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, which are pretty much polar opposites in everything except for visual style and sense of humor, but which were both very enjoyable despite their flaws (lack of challenge for Rocket Slime; occasional repetitiveness for Izuna).

Well, I can't fault your objections to Sakura Wars. It obviously isn't for everyone, but within that sub-genre (which it is pretty much alone in) the games are the top of the heap.

Boojum

They certainly have plenty of fans, and it sounds like what they do, they do well.

On the other hand, a series you would have to import which does have a lot of tactical prowess requirements is Langrisser. Well - you could just get Warsong, but it's the least of the Langrisser titles I've played. I talked about Langrisser 2 last fall when I was playing it, and now I'm playing Der Langrisser. It's sort of the same game as 2, though a fair bit easier (no worries, these titles are not easy by any stretch). The major draw here is that the player can choose alignment. I chose to ally with the Empire when offered the chance, and now the four generals who I would have to kill under other circumstances are on my team while the people who joined my team in 2 (and still would if I stuck to the Light path) are my enemies. I've already killed a couple of the people who could be on my team. I understand that I could also have betrayed the Imperials, though I didn't take the right actions to let that happen.

Boojum

Now there's a series that I'm really intrigued by, and really wish was available in English. I love a good challenging TRPG (as evidenced by my recommending Fire Emblem every chance I get), and these seem to have a lot going for them. There's a fan translation of Der Langrisser that is on my short list to check out when I have a chance, but trying to play an RPG in Japanese just cuts off too big a part of the experience. I'm still holding out some forlorn hope of some previously-untranslated games making the cut for Virtual Console once the user base is big enough.

As is now customary, I shall provide a piece of music from that game for you to mull over: http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/1532/2 Since Leon is the strongest Imperial general that usually plays for the enemy - but now that he's on my team it plays during my phase.

Boojum

Very stirring and dynamic - I like this one quite a bit, though I'd like to hear a bit more variation in the theme as the track goes on.

Lately I keep replaying Advance Guardian Heroes to unlock more characters instead of much else on the DS. I suppose that means it's a worthy game, though it pales next to the original. As you most likely haven't played either, what's your stance on melding an RPG with a beat-em-up?

Boojum

You're right that I haven't had a chance to play either of them, but an RPG/beat-em-up sounds like it could be a lot of fun if handled well. There haven't been any beat-em-ups that really held my attention for long, so adding some additional depth in the form of RPG elements might really help.

Gotta make Matt work for a living, so have another musical track: http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/1189/53 This is from Tales of Phantasia, when entering Dhaos's castle in the past. Considering about half of the game is left to go, it's a nasty place. I got killed several times in there.

Boojum

Pretty nice - it does a good job of sounding both upbeat and foreboding, if that makes any sense.

Rudra no Hihou is actually one of the few noteworthy Super Famicom titles I don't own. I may pick it up in future, but I already have plenty of stuff for that system. Like two early Fire Emblem titles, though the third FE on SNES goes for truly outrageous prices. Check this out: Click Here.

Boojum

Ouch - that's the one that was released in a tiny print run 3 years after the N64 had been launched, right? I got a chuckle out of the seller listing it as an action-rpg for the 8-bit Famicom, though. The three SNES Fire Emblems are right at the top of my list of what I'd like to see translated and brought to the Virtual Console. I'll reiterate my recommendation to track down Rudra no Hihou if at all possible - it deserves to be remembered as one of the pinnacles of the 16-bit console RPG along with FF6 and Chrono Trigger.

I can't stop myself - I must tell you of another CRAZY INCIDENT from Tengai Makyou IV. In Atlanta, I watched a snippet of something called 'Gone With the Fire'. It involved acting by Clock Gable and Vivian Eee, and had a big Southern mansion catching fire while a laugh track kicked into motion along with applause. The mansion catching fire (in a TV program!) was blamed on my party, and then the TV crew tried to interview us. Never brush off the media, man - they got us thrown into jail where TV Man made us watch the rest of the program. Fortunately we were freed by Magu, who is commander of the Alamo after General Custer was slain in Texas. Then the Alamo led the attack on the power center of Atlanta's TV station - but Magu was slain in the operation, begging me to 'Remember... Alamo!'

Boojum

Sounds sufficiently crazy. It's odd that a game with so many references to American culture/history never got translated - I'd think that a lot of those would be missed by the average Japanese person.

Got another track from Napple Tale for you to try. http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/2535/3 This was one long level, with lots of ferris wheels and long drops while snow is falling. Called 'Fiyol Land' if I remember rightly.

Boojum

Ouch - that's the one that was released in a tiny print run 3 years after the N64 had been launched, right? I got a chuckle out of the seller listing it as an action-rpg for the 8-bit Famicom, though. The three SNES Fire Emblems are right at the top of my list of what I'd like to see translated and brought to the Virtual Console. I'll reiterate my recommendation to track down Rudra no Hihou if at all possible - it deserves to be remembered as one of the pinnacles of the 16-bit console RPG along with FF6 and Chrono Trigger.

Pretty fun sound with a lot of odd instruments - kind of reminds me of a carousel theme.

Fare thee well, good sir.
JuMeSyn

Boojum

And you as well!



QUICKIES

RPG's, what you miss, what you want.

Bainick

Matt
From Bainick's list of topics this one comes. I open the floor to everybody: What do you think? For me, it's got to be controlling non-sexy old men... GENUINELY old, too, not these "33-year-old-old" guys that have been the fogeys for the last little while. Why are there never any controllable old ladies, by the by?

IN CLOSING

Today was a great, great day. And it ended with a superb job by Boojum, as always. As I nudged in the Quickies, what are the things you miss in RPGs? What are the elements that you want to see in RPGs that you don't commonly see? Tell me, or don't, but you'll wish you had if you don't, I'm sure.

Anyway, make Canada's newest M.Sc. proud and send me a letter today!

'Til tomorrow, everybody...



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 8 - not wonderful



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is in a pretty glorious mood.


Oh yes, he is. And, Pokémon Diamond is fantastic so far, too. What a perfect match of greatness! Aughahaha.

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On my Wishlist:

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2. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

4. Dawn of Mana

5. Metroid Prime 3



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1. Pokémon Diamond

2. Lunar Knights/Final Fantasy VI

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4. Which games are your "comfort games"?

5. What elements of RPGs do you miss and want to see?



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