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ASK BIGWOOK
No One Was Looking! August 29, 2006

Christopher Mohme - 17:32 EST

I WAS ALL BY MYSELF!

It's shaping up to be a great weekend. Solo hosting Q&A, a concert, and taking in a baseball game, it doesn't get much better than this. Ahhhh, baseball. It is the only place where you can eat two footlong hotdogs and a one pound bag of peanuts, and you still feel good about yourself afterwards. Kind of like video games: They're the one place where you can slash someone repeatedly with a sword and still feel good about yourself. At least, I hope it's the only place. If it isn't...well, perhaps you should see someone about that. I'd better move on before I get a call from Jack Thompson...

As much fun as I had cohosting a column with Matt, I immediately locked on to the opportunity to host one all by myself. With a little luck, a little fortitude, and the amazing ability of Matt to find the time to keep this running, I now have the chance. Alright, enough sappiness, on to the questions!




LETTERS
Are you insane?!?!


Hi Matt,

Chris

Obligatory "No Matt today" comment here.

Your to buy list looks similar to mine, but you didn't include "Rogue Galaxy". Doesn't this game intrigue you? It's from Level 5 and has been billed as a FF AND DQ killer! If it delivers on its promises, we are in for one helluva gaming experience. Personally I want this one more than FFXII right now.

Chris

I am definitely intrigued by Rogue Galaxy, but I've got my reservations. I love the similarities in style to Dragon Quest VIII, it could work beautifully in a science fiction setting (or any setting, for that matter). I love the idea of an RPG in the Star Wars universe. I love that Level 5 has their hands on it. However, two things are major questions marks for me: 1) Star Wars games are a very mixed bag, historically, no matter who does them. 2) From what I've read (and I'm a little out of date here), there is one controllable player and three AI characters. Not a plus in my book. Not at all a plus.

However, you are absolutely right, if it delivers on the promises, it will be one heck of a game. Let's hope it does.

Speaking of FF; do you really think people are going to buy an FFVII spinoff, FFXII, FFV, and FFIII all within like two months? That seems like ALOT of FF for me, and I consider myself a geniune, longtime FF fanboy and Squarehead. Honestly Square/Enix looks to be stretched a little thin stateside in the coming months. For the first time ever in my life, I actually think a delay on a few of these games would be a good thing...what am I saying!! *bites own tongue*

cap

Chris

Willingly delay a game for any reason other than to make it better? SINNER!!!

You do have a point, those are a lot of FFVII games in a small span. There are a couple of things you have to take into consideration, however. They're not all on the same system, so you've only got a partial overlap in gamers who own two or more. Plus, Dirge of Cerberus (I assume that's the spinoff you refer to, correct me if I'm wrong) isn't an RPG, so they're probably hoping it pulls in another audience. I don't know if delaying any of them will help, though. With this many FF games, there will be a lot of buzz about the series in general, so Square-Enix may be hoping they can ride a wave of popularity. Myself, I have no interest in Dirge, and I don't own any handhelds, so FFXII is my only target out of the group.



Ummm, there was no name on this when Matt forwarded it to me.


Hey Matt,

There are plenty of RPGs that people would like. I am plan on getting Phantasy Star Universe(for PS2) and Blue Dragon(for X360), which is from the creators of Chrono Trigger(the Dream Team). I think that Final Fantasy III and XII will both be great games nevertheless. Do you think that all four of these RPGs will be great if no awesome?


Chris

Phantasy Star Universe could have a lot going for it, if the developers learn from complaints that people had about the single player portions of Phantasy Star Online. I've never played the original Phantasy Stars, so I'm more hyped about trying to get my hands on those, somehow. Blue Dragon certainly has great developer bloodlines, but we really don't know that much about it at this point. It looks a bit childlike to me, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. It won't matter to me, I'm not planning on getting a 360.

I would be all over Final Fantasy III if I did handhelds. After all the positives I heard about Dawn of Souls, it sounds like Square Enix is doing right by the remakes. Plus, I've never played it before. I'm planning on buying Final Fantasy XII, but I'm keeping my hype under control. The series has earned enough respect from me that unless I hear consistent terrible reviews, I'll be picking it up. However, the demo unsettles me a bit, even if Famitsu raved about the final product.

So, my unscientific opinions?

Phantasy Star Universe: Good potential, I'll believe great when I see it.
Blue Dragon: See Phatasy Star Universe.
Final Fantasy III: Potentially drool-worthy.
Final Fantasy XII: Your guess is as good as mine. Something tells me this will be one of the most debated games of all time, including right here in Q&A.



Actually, I don't like to have cameras pointed at me, either.


Wanna hear about Dirge? I'll give you the preliminary review based off my first three hours with it last night: I'm glad I'm not the one who paid $50 for it (my sister did). Regardless that I started my first file on Hard, I find it frustrating, in non-difficulty-related matters. In all the cutscenes, Vincent displays some sort of "spider-sense" that makes for cool cinematics. But in the game, you have no such ability to detect enemies.. Sure, there's a "radar" of sorts that shows the direction of an attacker, but it only functions when you actually get hit; not just when an enemy shoots at you. Maybe I just need a little more practice? But I think the story is what is really bothering me. You see, it's not the story itself that's bad, per se, but rather story scenes themselves, which seem to have taken steps back from FFX. They're... annoying. It's a poor presentation. The camera never stops! In a scene in which Reeve and Vincent are sitting in the back of the truck discussing the ongoing events, the camera decides to go EVERYWHERE: Over V's shoulder. Over Reeve's shoulder. Vince's feet. Under Reeve's seat. Slowly panning along the *blank grey ceiling*. The writing is bad, too, and every VA except Vincent (Steven Jay Blum) delivers their line in the most annoying way possible. Every sentence is corny or too expositiony, and every time someone says something I can easily rewrite in my mind more interesting dialogue. It makes me long for the days of FFVII, where the camera sat still in a three-quarter view and I read from blue boxes.

Alexander M. DeMichiei


Chris

I see one problem with "spider-sense" being integrated into the gameplay. There would have to be some sort of "slowdown" technique involved, and Square Enix would immediately get blasted for ripping off other games. I can't think of any other way to implement that, aside from giving positions away early on the radar, which could make the game way to easy.

As for the camera issues, if you don't do sweeping camera movements, how are you supposed to show off all the cool special effects you can do? I think half of the CG shots in games nowadays are more worried about the cool things they can do with camera angles, rather than properly framing the scene. Without a physical camera, there are an unlimited number of things that you can do, and some people like to play with that idea.



If this was a regular JuMeSyn letter, the page would have taken 20 seconds longer to load.


Hi again Matt,

Have you ever received odd comments upon RPG music from an uninitiated person nearby? Every now and again my stepfather will make some out-of-the-blue comment upon music to me. Everyone who has played the final airship battle in Skies of Arcadia can best judge whether his comment that it sounded like 'vampire music' is accurate. And while playing with Gangas the jungle lord in Dragon Force 2 he observed that it sounded like Conan the Barbarian music. Which I suppose is a good thing.

Chris

The majority of the comments I've gotten about RPGs have come from my mom, usually along the lines of "shouldn't she be wearing more clothes?" Of course, that leads back to an old debate on the board about women in RPGs. Both of my parents have commented on some of the arranged mixes I have of game music, but not much outside of that. I think my dad used to pretend I wasn't actually playing them, and my mom would vaguely pay attention to make sure I wasn't doing anything completely evil. Most of my college friends who would pop into my dorm room to see what I was playing would get bored pretty quickly, so I never got much out of them.

Are there any other RPGs never released to English speakers you have had occasion to play? There was a massive list of them I brought up over the weekend but I won't reiterate.

Chris

I have actually never imported a Japanese RPG. I'm a story and character man, so I need to understand what is going on.

I've only played Super Mario RPG and Mario & Luigi, but enjoyed both greatly. Are Paper Mario, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and Mario & Luigi 2 worth tracking down should I obtain the consoles to play them?

Chris

I have actually never played either game, but they've gotten good reviews. I'm planning on bringing home Thousand Year Door myself, so I guess that's an implied recommendation. I know Matt has raved about them, so that's a good sign.

And YES, I cannot believe you forgot my lack of any Sony hardware! Clearly I won't be playing anything available only on Sony for a long time thanks to all the Super Famicom and/or Saturn titles I need to play through! I'm trying to decide if Sakura Taisen 1 and 2 or the Langrisser series should occupy my time after I finish playing through Adelvah's scenario in Dragon Force 2. Suggestions?

278 e) and 279 a).

No further comment.

That is all for now!
JuMeSyn


Chris

I've heard good things about both series, but not being an importer, I have played neither. I'll turn this one loose to the floor. Opinions, everyone?



Hot button topic! Everyone look here!


Thanks for the DQ advice - I think I'll start both VIII and II, and work my way to the middle for as long as I'm still enjoying it. I don't mind resorting to emulators to play games that aren't commercially available. The ethical issue is that the company that made the game isn't getting paid for their work, so if I do end up playing them, maybe I'll just mail them a check. On the other hand, figuring out how to process it might be a waste of their time, so it might be better to just buy a DQ game or two directly from their webstore rather than a retailer to make sure they get a bigger chunk of the sale. While I recognize this doesn't hold water from a legal standpoint, it does make sure the creators are getting more money than they otherwise would have, so my conscience is assuaged, at least.

Chris

Well, legally, it's a no-brainer: if you don't own it, you shouldn't emulate it. Ethically, it's a bit stickier. While earlier Dragon Quests may not be available in the US, it doesn't mean that emulating them is the right thing to do. You never know, as many Final Fantasies as Square Enix is remaking, perhaps they could have a DQ compilation planned for the future. You and other people emulating it could undermine that future market.

Now, if you were to buy a game off their website in Japanese, and emulate it in english, I don't think I would have a problem with that. I don't know the legality, but from a personal perspective, I wouldn't consider it inappropriate. If you were to buy a different game to make up for the one you emulated, I would have a problem. It would be like robbing a store one day, then returning the money a week later after you get your next paycheck. It still isn't the right thing to do. I also think the check is a really bad idea. It ranks right below actually writing them a letter to announce you emulated their game. It has "sue me" all over it.

Speaking of which, what are your impressions of the upcoming spin-offs (Rocket Slime, Yangus, Joker, and Swords)? I'm pretty intrigued by the little we've seen of Joker and Swords. Rocket Slime (based on the E3 demo) seemed intriguing, but possibly a bit easy and shallow, and Yangus seems to have dropped off the radar entirely since it was announced.

--Boojum


Chris

Yangus: Random generated dungeons. Ick. Plus, somehow I think there is a lot of potential for a really contrived backstory.

Rocket Slime: Could be some goofy fun. I wonder how much depth it will have.

Joker and Swords: I haven't seen enough information about either to have an opinion. Especially odd if Swords is supposed to be a Wii launch title.

Heh, Wii launch title. Everyone, launch WIIIIIIIIIII!!!!



Ooh, a letter addressed to me!


Ooo, guest host! How's it going? I hope to buy a guest host spot soon, myself... I've got an item or two I'm itching to create!

Chris

It goes quite well, thank you. This is the icing on a planned great weekend. I've got to say, I've been turning the item idea around in my head for a week or so, now. Hopefully everyone enjoys the result, or at least the person who receives it.

Anyway, RPGs... I've noticed that they (or at least the ones I'm interested in) seem to come in cycles; nothing for quite a while, then several titles at once (I know folks have noticed this as far as the Final Fantasies go, but this goes between companies and titles, both established and non-established). I tend to gravitate towards the more traditional console RPGs, myself... Is there a particular pattern, do you think, that affects this? Development cycles, maybe? It's nice not to have to worry about buying something new EVERY month, but I have noticed in the past a bunch of titles I want coming out all at once, and seeing as how my tastes aren't limited by company or title, it seems odd.

SOCK:

(man, clueless on these...)

292: (d)
293: (a)


Chris

Well, there's going to be a natural clumping around the holidays, so that's an obvious choice. Other than that, I don't think there's any concentrated effort to create cycles. There's generally a lull right after the holidays, because everyone has rushed everything out the door. Then, when we start getting releases again, it feels like a rush. Plus, there's always an initial rush of games after a new system comes out, followed by a lull. It's the same principle as the holidays. Don't feel bad, though. I've noticed the tendency too, and I think it's directly targeted to drive me insane.





THE NEXUS

I have to say, I heard two of the dumbest astronomical ideas I've ever heard in my life this past month. The second dumbest? Pluto not being a planet. The dumbest? The possibility that one of Pluto's moon's was going to be a planet. I would like to present BigWook's rules to being a planet:

I. The object must meet a minimum size requirement, something around the size of Mars.
II. Any object that orbits something other than the sun is under no circumstances a planet.
III. If an object has other objects orbiting it, it is granted an exception to rule I and is a planet, unless it violates rule II.

Honestly, people, foolishness like this is how NASA keeps having it's funding cut.


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to August 25th's Questions

#292. d) A Crown - 520 points
Oh yes. There is no such thing as a Crown of Sindarin, but amazingly, the Cross of Sindarin made the cut, back when Nintendo had even greater super-censoring abilities. The game was Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, for the NES, released by Rare back when they were still a decent company. Nice job to all correct-guessers!

#293. c) T - 520 points/1,040 for Bainick
Bainick played through one of my favourite sidescrollers to come up with this one! Castles - Masterpiece Set is the name of World 6's bonus level in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Thanks for the submission!



Today's New Questions

BigWook's #294:
If one of the people in my head wants to shoot the other one, what were they? (540 points)

a) Partners in Crime
b) Friends at School
c) Coworkers at the Office
d) Travelers on Vacation
e) Arch Enemies


Reader-Submitted #295:
The overworld theme of which game caused my mother, who was nearby while I was playing it at the time, to break into an impromptu rendition of "Born Free"? (510 points)

a) Final Fantasy VIII
b) Lunar: Dragon Song
c) Tales of Phantasia
d) Dragon Warrior VII
e) Breath of Fire II


Phew! Now those are a couple of hard questions. And yes, as always, BigWook has been given the chance to create his own item. What is it? Why, it's the...

BigWook's Cube of Random Attacks:
The Cube of Random Attacks is a semi-permanent item. Each time it is used, it will cause one of six possible outcomes, but there is also a 10% chance that it will break! For details on what those effects are, see the rule guide. Note that not all outcomes are positive to the owner! Everyone who gets both of today's questions correct will be put into a random draw for this rare item, so good luck!



SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

2,000 points: Fire Spell (2 left), Quick Spell (2 left), or Water Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Aux. Point Generator (1 left), Mythril Armor (2 left), or Point Doubler (2 left)
5,000 points: Slowra Spell (2 left), Reflect Spell (1 left), or Blizzara Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Vanish Spell (2 left), Damage Deflector (2 left), or Thundara Spell (2 left)
10,000 points: Merton Spell (1 left), Hyper Beam (2 left), or Light Converter (1 left)
14,000 points: Red Gem (2 left), Call Bead (2 left), or Killer Sword (1 left)
19,000 points: Esuna Spell (3 left), Point Tripler (2 left), or Drainra Spell (2 left)
25,000 points: Summon Encyclopedia (2 left), Holy Spell (1 left), or Nightmare Staff (2 left)
32,000 points: Point Quadrupler (2 left), Diamond Armor (2 left), or Hastega Spell (2 left)

STRAGGLERS:
(people who I love, but who still need to check their e-mail or somehow get in touch with me because they have unclaimed items- if you fall off the list after a week, it's TOO LATE FOR YOU! Check your spam/trash folders for my messages if you're not getting them, and I'll check mine, too!)

  • none to speak of!


SOCK's Prize Shop

Obtain enough points, and you may buy merchandise or guest-hosting positions.

Click here for the current list of potential prizes!


IN CLOSING

To continue my baseball kick from the opening, not only did I get to go see a game today, I got to watch my Cardinals finish a sweep of the Cubs with a walkoff grand slam. I really should pick up a baseball game for PS2, the last one I bought was five years ago.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed my little entry into the Q&A universe. I know I had a blast, and I hope to do it again!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt ...is not BigWook, today's esteemed host. You can e-mail me anyway if you want.


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Top 3 Upcoming Games BigWook needs to buy:

1. Xenosaga: Episode III

2. Final Fantasy XII

3. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Top 3 Released Games BigWook needs to buy:

1. Shadow Hearts: From the New World

2. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

3. Metal Gear Solid: Subsistence



SOCK's Top 35:

CACNEA
-HP: 2,250-
----------
1. Aurelius
27,620 pts

2. Kanato
26,170 pts

3. Alan Tse
24,490 pts

4. DMJewelle
24,336 pts

5. JokingChimer
23,628 pts

6. Erika
22,121 pts

7. Leaper
16,823 pts

8. LufiaLvr
16,720 pts

9. Cap
15,173 pts

10. Belthasar2
15,018 pts

11. Arros Raikou
13,609 pts

12. Dermot
12,196 pts

13. Tabor
11,812 pts

14. TV's Adam
11,651 pts

15. DDX
11,309 pts

16. Alexander
10,969 pts

17. BigWook
10,839 pts

18. CW
9,566 pts

19. Purelunatic
9,535 pts

20. Draconn
9,392 pts

21. JuMeSyn
9,214 pts

22. Colabottle
9,175 pts

23. BLG
8,338 pts

24. Xlash
7,555 pts

25. Boojum
7,488 pts

26. Macstorm
7,475 pts

27. Megan
7,344 pts

28. Ourobolus
6,679 pts

29. Hunter B
6,461 pts

30. Bainick
6,035 pts

31. Erunion
5,745 pts

31. FinalDelerium
5,557 pts

33. Gilgamesh
5,525 pts

34. Flamethrower
4,863 pts

35. Vigilante
4,825 pts

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