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ASK ERIKA & MATT
Jerrod Says "Stop Categorizing Games!" September 21, 2006

Erika Wolfraven - 21:10 EST

HMM... I seem to be having deja vu. Haven't I already written an intro? Oh well...

The scent of autumn is in the air. In these parts the leaves are already beginning to turn golden and the evening air is crisp and fresh. I feel a lightness whenever I step outside... but maybe that's just the sudden lightness of my wallet. Yes fall is upon us and the deluge of games has begun! I caved and bought Xenosaga III even though I don't have time to play it (yet). Next week I'm picking up my reserved copy of Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria. Then there's .hack//GU in October and right after that Final Fantasy XII. Surely there isn't enough time to finish those before FF III and V come out in November. Should I add them to my Christmas list instead of buying them? And what about all the other quirky handheld games? Is Contact worth trying out? And there's a new Harvest Moon too, and... Doomed I tell you. We are doomed to be broke and backlogged.

And on that cheerful note let's begin today's column!




LETTERS
Jerrod didn't get his wish...


Matt and/or Erika,

Good night! It seems like we have come full circle. More and more comments about FFXII being the FFXI or MMORPG battle system. Even if this was true, which it is isn't, would that be a bad thing? People seem to have a need to define this battle system. Why does it have to be an Action RPG or an MMORPG battle system? Why can't it just be what it is?

Erika

I'm basically in agreement: It doesn't really matter to me how the battle system is classified. Granted, I can be terribly nitpicky about other things so if people feel strongly about whether the game's battle system is an action/turn-based/MMORPG style or some hybrid of all of these then go for it! Have fun and debate away!

Would be rather it be action based? Do people want to press X repeatedly to attack? I don't know, it all seems silly to me.

Erika

I guess it's hard not to worry a little when you see a favourite series apparently deviating from what's tried and true. On the other hand, if they don't innovate then the series is likely to stagnate so I'm all for them trying something different. Final Fantasy X's sphere grid was certainly different as far as levelling up systems go, but it worked and it was fun. Basically as long as FFXII's battle system turns out to enjoyable to play then I'll be happy. Worst case scenario, if it turns out to not be my favourite battle system that doesn't mean FF XII won't be an enjoyable game on the whole. Although the battle system is a central part of the game, for me anyway, it's not the whole of the game. There's also the plot to consider and the Final Fantasy series usually does well in this department. I think the most popular entries to the series are ones that have managed to have both an excellent plot and a fun and innovative battle system. Even the ones that didn't manage this, however, were never bad. The FF games are exceptionally well balanced and polished in a way that few other series are.

I've said from day one when I first started writing in that I really like what I've played of the battle system, and I think I will like the full thing. Demos suck and don't give a good feel for an overall system. If I judged a game or any aspect of a game by its demo, then I would have passed on Dragon Quest VIII. Just wait until Oct. 31 and then everyone can write in and say how much they love it.

- Macstorm

Erika

I own Dragon Quest VII, but I haven't played the demo, nor have I had the urge to try it out. I've had bad experiences with demos. Case in point I hated the demo of Final Fantasy VII. I had just bought a Playstation in anticipation of getting FF VII fo Christmas and a demo disc came with the system. After playing through it I suddenly had this sinking feeling and I remember being afraid that I'd made a terrible mistake. Of course once I got my hands on the real game it was an entirely different story and the game remains one of my favourites in the series with both an enjoyable battle system and a wonderfully twisted plot. So I'm totally with you on not judging a game by the demo disc. I guess we'll know either way soon enough, but I, too, remain quite hopeful. Thanks for the letter!



Wiissues. That doesn't really work, does it?


Hello, Matt.

Just so you know, I am not here to stir the pot even further concerning FFXII. (I found it quite amusing just how much dissension my previous letter caused.)

Matt

Ah, I'm glad you wrote in about it. It made me, and I'm sure many others think about several things. I guess in the end, you raise some great points about it, and we can rest by saying that "it's a turn-based RPG with a few action elements involved that really actually feels more like a MMORPG but not exactly." Yes?

I am torn about whether or not I should purchase a new system this coming winter. Now, certain decisions have made themselves already-six hundred bucks is just too much for a PS3. However, certain other decisions are posing a bit of a problem.

While I was hoping for a $199 price tag on the Wii, $250 is still quite an agreeable price. And, while I'm still not 100% with Nintendo on this innovation thing, I have to say that I admire their strategy more than that of Sony's. Nintendo is focusing on bringing great games to the public at an affordable price. That alone should be the goal of all people in the industry. Like I said before, I'm not entirely positive that this innovative motion-sensitive technology will suceed in the end. But at least Nintendo has their priorities straight.

Matt

I'd tend to agree with you. And of course, Nintendo is running an enormous risk here by introducing something so very different than anything that's ever hit the market before. It is altogether possible that the public could completely turn up their nose to the idea after they've played a game or two. I hope not, but you never know.

Sony seems to be far more interested in bringing us the best in technology. I suppose that this is admirable in a certain way. It's funny how they seem to be doing us a favor, almost; selling us a $1000 dollar machine for a "mere $600". But I don't seem to remember anyone in particular asking for a blu-ray drive on the PS3. Especially since the average person doesn't even have a clue what the hell "blu-ray" is.

Matt

Indeed. On the side, why couldn't they just have called it "Blue Ray" instead? I really don't like the "coolness" of dropping the "e" because... well, I don't even know why. It's irritating. But not as irritating as having new media formats being force-fed to us. My parents just got their first DVD player a couple of years ago, and I don't really see why anyone would need anything different than that at this point or anytime soon, whether in the form of these Blu-ray discs or HD-DVDs. Regular old DVDs do the job perfectly fine, thank you, as they have since they debuted not that long ago.

But I digress. All of these points have been previously discussed. My current problem is that I'm not sure whether or not to buy a Wii at launch. You see, I had planned to shun the Wii initially and just pick up the GameCube version of the Twilight Princess. But then, lo and behold, the GameCube version of TP has been DELAYED! I was so incomprehensibly angered at the moment, because I knew exactly what the thought process behind the delay was. Nintendo is trying to set apart the Wii version of TP as a unique launch title, and attempting to deny that it is, in fact, a GameCube game ported to the Wii with extra features. As a GameCube owner, I understood long ago that Nintendo had abandoned me; but this was an outright slap in the face. I have waited patiently with my GameCube for so long now, only to find that I'll have to wait even longer unless I spring and buy a Wii at launch.

Matt

I'd be really irritated too, if I owned a Gamecube and had no plans to upgrade in the near future. I can understand Nintendo's reasoning behind this decision, though. While the Gamecube had some really good games, the mainstream video gaming world didn't seem to care very much about the console; you can't just keep paddling along in a sinking ship as if nothing is wrong, right? This was their big chance to get back into the game, so to speak. You could easily argue that they could have released Twilight Princess a year ago as originally planned and had a new Zelda game half-done by now, but just think: How much less exciting would this launch be without Twilight Princess?

At least you know that the delay is only a couple of weeks, and hey- they didn't abandon their plans to release it for the Gamecube altogether, which I honestly find to be a little surprising, but at least a bit respectful.

I'm still reeling from this, although the initial shock has worn off. Basically, I'm now wondering if I should just abandon my GameCube and embrace the future of Nintendo. $250 is affordable, and after reading GameSpot's recent positive reactions to a demo of Twilight Princess on the Wii, it's starting to become more and more tempting.

One of the reasons that I'd be hesitant to make the purchase, however, is quite simply because I feel as if I'm hardly finished with this generation. How many great PS2 games are on the way? How many of them are already here, and I've yet to pick them up? (Xenosaga II, III, Dragon Quest VIII, Disgaea, God of War, the list goes waaaay on.) Hell, there's more than a few playstation games I'd like to try out! (Vagrant Story, Wild ARMS, and, shamefully enough, Final Fantasy Tactics.) Many existant and upcoming DS games are also on that list. Buying a Wii would just make things more complicated still! Know what I mean? I'm sure you do. Jeez louis. I know that I'm going to want both a Wii and a PS3 sometime in the future. I just don't know when.

Matt

You, and everyone else. It feels like a race is on to the next generation, yet there are way too many flowers to stop and sniff along the way. I think that a lot of gamers would be perfectly happy to freeze time and play through all of the games that are coming out. In a way, we're only reaching the PEAK of RPG releases for the Playstation 2, and there are so many other games that are still on the way, it seems like leaping towards the PS3 with its attractive graphics and unattractive prospective library would be a little bit pointless. There is no game in development for the Playstation 3 that I'm interested in besides Final Fantasy XIII at this point in the game, and I would never, ever buy a console for a single game. Granted, I'm sure that the situation will change, but for now, I have to say that with Zelda, Fire Emblem, Metroid Prime, Super Smash Brothers, and *gasp* a Dragon Quest game on the way, there's no other way I can go but Nintendo in the future. For NOW, though, you're absolutely right; there are so many DS and PS2 games on the way that I'm not sure how I'm going to have the time to play them.

Bah! Enough next-gen! Let's talk about the now. I just finished Kingdom Hearts II. Overall I was pleased. It was an improvement over the first, although if you hated the first, this one won't win you over. Aside from all the obvious complaints about the gameplay, (like it's even worth bringing it up anymore), a few things about the game irritated me. Foremost, it was far too soft on those who had skipped Chain of Memories. While there are a few gratifying references aimed at fans of COM, it is still more than possible to play KH2 without ever having played COM, and this annoys me.

Matt

I'd say that it's likely that a majority of Kingdom Hearts players didn't touch Chain of Memories, and that would be the rationale behind that decision. I have to admit that I don't really like it when a game is rendered "unplayable" because you haven't played a prequel, though.

I was also quite miffed at the fact that, on normal mode, you are required to do literally every little thing in the game to see the entire ending. I do not have the will, or even the time for stuff like that. I wish that I had known prior to starting the game that, if I played on Expert mode, I would have gotten the secret ending for free.

Matt

Ah yes. The latest in this line of discussion, an odd one indeed. And considering that "Expert" mode likely has the difficulty of an average game, from the sounds of it, why not just do that? Does Normal mode come with any special features that you can't have in Expert mode?

I would also have played on expert mode if I had known just how appallingly easy the game was! I died against 1 boss in KH2, and it was the optional superboss, Sephiroth. The game is much, much easier than both KH1 and COM, and I was quite dissapointed.

Matt

Good man. I like good doses of challenge in my games, too... challenge for the right reasons, that is. If I were a Kingdom Hearts fan, I'd probably be disappointed if the challenge level dropped, too. Many games have done that lately, don't you think? Even in my beloved Dragon Quest VIII, the game was definitely a step down in terms of difficulty. When the final boss is programmed to NOT use his best attack unless your hero has a full party-heal, that's pretty sad. I didn't really intend to turn this around and talk about my favourite series; my point is just that I think that along with music and exploration, challenge is also essential for full enjoyment of any game- at least, for me.

Hey, I found some time to replay one of my favorite games: A Link to the Past! Ah, such nostalgia! I found the GBA port for cheap, and I'm playing it on my shiny white DS lite right now. It's getting me even more psyched for TP. Embarassingly enough, I actually forgot how to get into the third dungeon. It's quite humiliating indeed when you spend hours wandering around confused in a game you've already beaten, and end up having to check a walkthrough.

Matt

Or TWICE, for that matter. I've played through Link to the Past twice, and I still have trouble remembering how to get up Death Mountain for the first time. Oh, I think that's the one you're talking about, too. Yeah, it's a puzzling thing. What a great game! I only hope that Twilight Princess can live up to the Zelda name, and that they don't pare it down to, you know, four dungeons or something lame like that, all in the name of pretty graphics and arm-waving kewlness. After so much time in development, I'm expecting BIG things.

Thanks for your time. Sorry if I was a little, ah, rude-sounding in my previous letter; it was not intentional.

Oliver.

P.S, allow me to offer my most sincere condolences concerning your gradually waning party in Fire Emblem. Your experience sounds exactly like mine in the Sacred Stones. Don't worry; the pain won't truly set in until the ending, during which time you'll feel somewhat akin to a piece of garbage. If you don't know what I mean.....well, you will soon enough.


Matt

Oh, it's not a problem at all. I'm glad you took the time to rant a bit, because that's exactly what the point of this place is. You didn't really sound rude as much as you sounded irked, so don't worry about it.

Also, Fire Emblem owns my soul. Have I mentioned that before? I feel so awful for putting poor Isadora in harm's way, but with a 6% chance of that enemy getting a critical hit, I can't believe how unlucky I was. I'm sure I'll be ashamed in the end.

In any event, I've got to share this column with Erika, so it's time to wrap this up. Thanks, Oliver!!



A few more days to go...


Big "yo" to Erika for the cohosting this week!

Erika

And a big ol' hey there to you!

So, your mention of VP: Silmeria in yesterday's intro paragraph (heh, buying an intro paragraph AND a cohosting is almost a bargain basement way of getting a full hosting!)...

Erika

Yes my nefarious plot to steal to column out from under Matt's nose is working smoothly indeed. I'm sure he doesn't suspect a thing...

Matt

..zzz...zzzzz....

...got me wondering: are there any other RPGs or RPG franchises you feel are underrated, or unfairly forgotten? VP is definitely on that list for me, and although Shadow Hearts does get some love, I feel like it doesn't get all the love it should. Ditto with Suikoden - it'd be great if there were as many SH's and Suikodens as there are Final Fantasies!


Erika

It's true that Shadow Hearts and Suikoden don't get the spotlight as often as some of the big name series. On the other hand, both series have had three games out for the PS2 (four for Suikoden if you count Suikoden Tactics) so they seem to be holding their own as a franchises. The franchise I worry about most is Ogre Battle. The series hasn't seen a new entry in four years (and to tell you the truth I'm currently playing through Knight of Lodis and am somewhat disappointed; the battle system seems very average-- but perhaps that's to be expected after playing through Fire Emblem?). I would love to see this series revisited, especially if it went back to its roots and did something along the lines of March of the Black Queen, which remains a favourite of mine. It had many unique elements including a battle system which was a hybrid between turn-based and real-time strategy, as well as the unit management and class-change elements which are standard fare these days in TRPGs. And the many branches of the story line gave it a lot of replay value and variation for each playthrough. Plus it had werewolves, vampires and tiger men as recruitable units-- how many games can boast of that?

Speaking of Silmeria, I'm looking forward to seeing how she gets into the predicament that she was seen in during the original VP. I also hear it'll cover the fall of Dipan, which should be interesting.

Erika

One thing I'm particularly curious about is how Lezard fits into the picture. I don't like the chap one bit-- after all he's a murderous psychopath with a rather disturbing infatuation with Lenneth-- but he's intsrumental to the events of the original game and I think it would be really interesting if events in the prequel shed light on his motivations in VP. I'm hoping that they do a good job of weaving the two stories together and that we learn more about the one by playing the other.

And as I said in a mail answered yesterday, I hope all this means we'll see Valkyrie Profile: Hrist!

Erika

I'm all for it: the more Valkyrie Profile the better (at least I hope so!). I've got my fingers crossed. Thanks for the letter. It's good to know that other people are interested in Valkyrie Profile as well.



A mini-history of a truly epic series awaits!


Buenos Tardes, Senor Demers!

Firstly, a quick clarification of a point from my last letter. I was referring to Gamecube titles that Nintendo has failed to translate, of sufficient quality to warrant interest. NES, SNES, and GBA titles we can think of in abundance that Nintendo failed to bring over....

Matt

Ah, I see. I'm not sure of those as much, I'm afraid. I was never as acutely aware of Gamecube news on the development front, since a) I only "indirectly" had access to one, through my brother, and b) I wasn't a Q&A host at the time. It's quite amazing how much more you pay attention to current news when you're sitting on this side of the column.

Also, with regard to Langrisser, interaction with NPCs is not an issue. Langrisser proceeds like Fire Emblem in the sense of there being no player-controlled time out of battle, and the battle controls are quite intuitive. You will have to look at GameFAQs for the translation to understand what's going on - but I've done that before. And how would you have fared if no one ever translated Dragon Quest 5 or 6? Would you have forgone one?

Matt

Honestly? I tried playing a Japanese version many years ago, and I just couldn't stomach it. It was really, REALLY cool to see my favourite series in SNES glory for the first time, but alas, it wasn't until the translations were finished that I splurged and really played them, albeit illegally. Bad Matt! Bad, bad Matt! This is why we don't talk about my formative years here at Q&A. So, moving on?

Alrightythen. I've lately done a fair bit of research into the Fire Emblem series, and I'm just going to relate my findings in a rather straightforward manner. I know this will appeal to YOU, Matt, and I hope it interests all the other Fire Emblem players who are reading this. Of course since I haven't yet played any of these my information is rather fragmented; any information on titles not in English is good to hear, though. I think. Fire Emblem 1 was released in 1990 (or 91- right in that season) on the venerable NES. Lore has it that Nintendo at the time was displeased with low RPG sales and passed on translating it. This is the debut title of Marth, as so many Super Smash Bros. Melee players know. Back then, lords could not promote. This means Marth had to be protected a lot near the end of the game. Also, healers could only gain experience by being attacked and surviving. They got more than 1 for being attacked, but it seems needlessly trying. And if you've ever heard of the Jeigan syndrome, it originates here. Jeigan is the Paladin at the beginning of the game who wipes the floor with all enemies, but he also gets 2-3 experience for each kill when other units could get 10-15 times that. And his level-ups were absolute CRAP - nothing higher than 10% possibility of going up in any statistic. So any character with that tendency of being an experience hog and getting crap growth rates is known as a Jeigan henceforth. Marcus in the first English FE counts as one, though significantly better than Jeigan growth-wise.

Matt

I'm totally familiar with that idea; my early-obtained Paladins get stuffed in my reserve until I get closer to the end of the game for exactly that reason. They're so easy to use, I just try to forget that I even have access to 'em rather than take them into battle "as a backup". Overweight people can't eat chips if they don't have any in the house, and it's impossible to waste Experience on Marcus if he's nowhere to be seen on the battlefield. (I'm not sure if that's my best analogy ever, but, oh well.)

About two years later came Fire Emblem Gaiden on the NES. This one seems to have divided opinion akin to what Zelda II did. I haven't unearthed too much information on this one, but it seems there were caves with which to gain extra experience, which was necessary thanks to enemies being insanely strong. Also there may have been the ability to actually wander about freely in towns, absent from later FE's.

Matt

Now that's bizarre. For the record, I'm a Zelda II enthusiast, but I can't imagine seeing Fire Emblem in a different format at all.

Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo came out on the Super Nintendo in 1994. It is in some ways a remake of the first FE, with some of the improvements later implemented in the series. It adds a new section to the game that about doubles the length, however. More characters can promote (though still not Marth) and healers gain experience via healing now.

Matt

Mmmm. Tasty bonus content.

Hearing about the history of this series is so weird. It makes me feel like I've totally missed out on the development of what has now turned into one of my very favourite series.

Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu came out in 1996, again on Super Nintendo. This is probably the most-played FE by English-speakers up until Nintendo finally started translating the games, thanks to a nearly complete translation being out there in ROM land. Sigurd is the lord of the game, up until midway through when nearly 20 years pass and his son takes over. This Fire Emblem is reputed to have enormous battlefield that will take several hours each to navigate, and is acclaimed by those who have played it (which I will have - along with Monshou no Nazo - soon! eBay all the way!) as the best FE of them all.

Matt

That's exciting. I don't want to know how much you're going to have to pay for such a thing, but I wish you the very best of luck!

Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 was the last Fire Emblem on a home console for six years. It was released on the SNES in 1999. Yes, 1999. Despite it supposedly still selling well in Japan, good luck finding it now. eBay prices for this one, when it does appear, pass over $120 US constantly. It stars Leaf and is set in between the time periods of Seisen no Keifu. Also, it is reputed to be the hardest Fire Emblem of them all.

Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi came out in 2001 on the GBA. This features Roy, also of SSBM fame. It is set 20 years after the events in the first English Fire Emblem and finds Zephiel, who by now you have probably saved in a treacherous battle, leading the Bern empire in an attempt to make the world safe for dragons thanks to his being permanently imbued with a hatred for humanity after his father's constant attempts to kill him. It goes for high prices on eBay - but not at the level of Thracia 776.

Matt

Oh, wow! I had no idea that the Fire Emblem I'm playing right now was at all related to a different one in the series. I nearly have chills! Nintendo, we want more!!

The two English-language Fire Emblems on GBA I do believe you can cover just as well as I, now. Oh, I could probably talk about them for awhile - but then we'd get into one of my now-notorious letter sizes thanks to my knowledge of trivia.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance I have heard nothing but good about, and the new FE on Wii has an impressive pedigree. Random note: most Fire Emblems come in twos. FE 1/3 and 2 are set in the same world, FE 4 and 5, FE 6 and 7, and now apparently FE 9 and 10. This means we can probably see another Fire Emblem set in Eirika and Ephraim's world sometime.

Matt

That's really interesting. I certainly hope so! I'll take as much Fire Emblem as I can get, to be honest. Because I started playing on the GBA, though, the idea of a console version seems so otherworldly. Path of Radiance is on my Christmas List, and it's honestly my second-most-wanted game, next to Zelda. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn is on the way for the Wii in 2007, and believe me when I tell you that I will be FIRST in line to grab my copy, if and when it reaches North American shores. If it doesn't, though, I will be more than dismayed.

Here we go with a bit more Shining Force III name game: I give the name in English and the original Japanese name, you make the call about which is better!

Garvin - or Greedy? This fellow owns the floating merchant city of Saraband, and the only one to actually meet up with him is Medion. The guy looks positively Dickensian.

Matt

Blah. Garvin is far superior. Come on.

The first Prince of the Destonian Empire is named Mageron in English, Majesty in Japanese. He's an impressive-looking fellow who seems to be pretty pliable, based on his few appearances.

Matt

I'm not too huge on the noun-names, though the occasional one isn't so bad. I've got to go with "Mageron" in this case, but only if it's pronounced "Mah-JEE-run" and not "MAGE-ron". The latter would sound despicably bad.

The second Prince of the Destonian Empire has the name of Arrawnt, which I like better: or Arrogant. He's a quite strong opponent with his Spark Blade and double movement each turn, if only he would move from his position.

Matt

How unfortunate for him! I hate it when enemies are unreasonably stupid in any game, though it seems even more idiotic when it's in a tactical RPG. In this case, I'll take the adjective as the better name.

Synbios gains the ally Ratchet in English. He's a little goblin piloting a big steam machine for his attacks. Oh, and his Japanese name is Manupil (that's the spelling...).

Matt

That sounds more like a term that would be given to eyeballs growing out of one's hands rather than a name.

A Destonian commander who can be freed and be an NPC ally to Medion for awhile is named Rogan in his Scenario 1 mentions. Or his Japanese name is Reliance.

Matt

Man, they really like these noun-names, don't they? I prefer Rogan.

Julian in Scenario 3 gains a dragon ally, who is quite fun to control with his special attacks looking remarkably painful - especially one in which he lands butt-first upon the enemy (instant death effect!). His name in Japanese appears to be Thousand, probably a reference to his age but kind of odd for a name.

Matt

Indeed. Just imagine if Cloud were named "Twenty-One". I doubt it would have worked out very well. And what if Laharl and his demon friends had been named after his age in Disgaea? Somehow, "One thousand, three hundred and twenty-six" (or however old they were) just wouldn't have a very great ring to them, would they? Moral of the story? I don't know, does there always have to be a moral? Age-names suck.

Did you think the voice acting got any better? Not so! http://www.audioatrocities.com/games/shiningforce3/clip9.mp3 Every time Noon uses Soul Steal, he says this. Feel the terror of enemies facing instant death as they hear this!

Matt

Oh dear. I really hope that everyone tries out that link if you haven't played the game yourself. It sounds like somebody playing around with Windows Sound Recorder, for heaven's sake!

I think I might be losing my hair. My maternal grandfather started going bald at about my age, and I don't want that! Help!

I think I'll call it quits now.
JuMeSyn


Matt

Oh no!! I think that losing my hair would make me lose it entirely; there aren't many things that I fear more than that, though "getting wrinkles" would be up there somewhere too, along with other things accompanying the inevitable aging process. I really hope that stress and business don't push me that far over the next few months, but at least you guys will help to keep me sane in the meantime.

In any event, JuMeSyn, thanks for writing in! I'm 100% sure we'll hear from you again soon.



Even more!


Hello to either Matt or Erika,
I just had to write in response to the opening about Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria. Yes! I am all sorts of excited about that game. Its good to hear other people talk about it, because its seems like no one else knows. The screenshots so far look awesome, and the battle system for the original version is one of my favorites ever, so this game is definitely reserved. All the elements of the original were amazing, from the platforming parts, the combat, the soundtrack (like you said), and the little character stories. My problem was always hesistating and agonizing over who to promote.


Erika

Yeah it was sometimes frustrating that you had part with some of your favourite characters after going to the trouble of building them up. I hated having to send off Lucian when I was playing through to get the A ending. He had this one attack which was really useful for knocking experience crystals out of enemies. I used him a fair bit during the short time that I had him in order to level up my characters in anticipation of the ordeal that the final bosses for the A ending were. I still shudder to recall the battle against Blood Bane.

I broke down and used a walkthough to get the best ending for the second playthrough, but it was still all sorts of fun.

Erika

The counter-intuitive requirements for the A ending are perhaps one of the games' more evident flaws. You basically have to use an FAQ to get the A ending, which is the only truly satisfying ending, and the only way for the story to have any real substance. On the up side, once you knew what to do thanks to an FAQ you could go on and play the game since the requirements weren't especially difficult, just very random-seeming.

I was surprised though, because the guy at EB who took my reserve started talking to me about that game, and rpgs in general, and asked if I had the PSP version. Of course, I proudly told him I still have the PSX version, bought when the game first came out. As tempting as the $100+ value its getting on ebay, never have I thought of trading it in. Dare I say, I'm more excited about this game than FFXII? Hopefully, it isn't a let down.


Erika

I'm hoping the game lives up to the original. On the other hand I'm also trying not to get my hopes up too much (and failing rather pathetically so far). I just hope that the game lives up to the spirit of the original, that it has a similar feel and hits the rights balance between innovation and nostalgia. I guess we'll know in less than a week's time...

Now if only they'd make sequels to other amazing PSX rpgs that never got enough press: Vandal Hearts, Kartia, Tactics Ogre, Alundra, Vagrant Story, etc etc.

Erika

Do my eyes deceive me or did you actually mention Kartia? It's one of those games that never gets mentioned around here; I was beginning to believe I was the only one who'd ever played it-- or perhaps that I'd hallucinated the whole thing in the first place... But sorry for the interruption. I believe there's a question about to follow...

I guess thats a question to whomever answers this letter: which game from that era would you love to see a sequel for? And would you rather they just do a sequel thats basically a graphical update with a few gameplay tweaks, or a full blown revision that takes everything in the game and changes it, but retains the "spirit" of the original, if that makes any sense. I always wonder why some amazing games never get a sequel, while other franchises churn it out every other year. You'd think the people in charge of big companies would have played the games they make, and think "Gee, this game rocks. Lets make a sequel!". Ehh, wishful thinking.

Erika

Hmm... I wonder if they do play their own games? It would be sort of distressing if they didn't... Looking back, I think what amazes me most about the PSX era is the sheer variety of RPGs. It seems to me that game developers weren't afraid to take risks back then and do innovative things. After all, several games which saw multiple sequels on the PS2 originally began on the PSX: Wild Arms, Suikoden, and Arc the Lad, for example. I'd love to see Vandal Hearts get another entry; I remember VH2 most for its complex political storyline and I would love to see another of those. Or perhaps something along the lines of Parasite Eve. I didn't hear much good about the sequel so I never tried it, but I remember the absolute weirdness of the first game. The fact that it took place in the modern world, was based on pseudo-science, had a female lead, was M-rated, and had a freakish storyline, made it stand out. I'd love to see them revisit this series. And I'm definitely all for sticking with the sprit of the game rather than just using the same battle system and having prettier graphics. It seems to me that some of the most longstanding series-- Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, for example-- have survived because of their ability to reinvent themselves, and yet to keep a similar "feel" that allows to fans to feel at home in spite of the changes in each new installment.

Anywho, thats all. Have a good one!
- Nino

Erika

You too! Thanks for the questions. There's nothing quite like getting to reminisce about old games.



A case of mistaken identity? Or are there clones-gone-missing running amok?


Hey Erika and Matt,

This is actually just a question for Erika though. Is this the same Erika that has a Tactics Ogre daily comic hosted by the Inverted Castlevania Dungeon.

-andrew- -kupomogli-


Erika

Do you mean the person responsible for these comics?

Amusing as they are I, sadly, am not involved. Unless of course it was my evil twin. She is rather difficult to keep track of sometimes, but I imagine she's too busy plotting to take over Q&A to do anything else...





THE NEXUS

So I went into my Dynamical Systems class early this afternoon, and my professor decided to hand out the first assignment. My eyes widened progressively further as I looked at each problem on the page, and then my friend Adam said "wow, this is long". I looked down, turned the page over, and discovered that the entire opposite side of the page was full of questions, too! An absolute monster of an assignment, he's making it due NEXT FRIDAY. What!? I'm doomed. I'm doomed.


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to September 20th's Questions

#320. e) A spell named "Ultima" - 675 points
Yep. No, it's not from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, or any of the other options; generally, this question wasn't well done. But here's the same screenshot, zoomed out:

yawn


Yep. This sign can be seen on the way to Guadosalam. Good job to everyone who got it right!

#321. d) Tea - 525 points/1,050 for Witecat
Yep, tea! Nothing too heavy, and perhaps with a few drops of milk or honey to give it some sweetness. Thanks, Witecat, for submitting the question! This one referred to the game Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.



Today's New Questions

Reader-Submitted #322:
Who was heard to say, "Ho ho ho! I'm your bad guy this time!"? (600 points)

a) Master Skull
b) Master Chief
c) Magimaster
d) Modemaster
e) Santa Claus


Erika #323:
Which of the following Final Fantasy games contains two place names, one a castle, one a tower, which share their names with a pair of canonical British war poets? (640 points)

a) Final Fantasy III
b) Final Fantasy IV
c) Final Fantasy V
d) Final Fantasy VI
e) Final Fantasy VII


Just for clarification, I've received a few inquiries about the answer to the Harvest Moon question from earlier in the week. A few (three, to be exact) of the curry recipes do not require curry POWDER, but combinations of other curry recipes, according to our friend Bucket. Okiedoke?

And yes, it is a co-host day, so there's a special prize up for grabs! Get both questions correct, and you'll have a chance at winning a Mime Materia!! This exciting item, designed by Erika, will allow you to emulate any other person in the competition for a time, score all of their points in addition to your own, and more! Check out the full description in the rule guide.



SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

3,500 points: Regera Spell (2 left), Mythril Armor (2 left), or Gold Gem (2 left)
5,000 points: Any Gem (2 left), Point Doubler (1 left), or Firaga Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Slowga Spell (2 left), Venom Spell (1 left), or Reflect Spell (2 left)
10,000 points: Vanish Spell (2 left), Drainra Spell (1 left), or Scan Spell (3 left)
14,000 points: Any Gem (2 left), Force Field (2 left), or Point Doubler (2 left)
19,000 points: Esuna Spell (1 left), Magic Pearl(1 left), or Thundaga Spell (2 left)
25,000 points: Waterga Spell (1 left), Demi Spell(2 left), or Killer Sword (1 left)
32,000 points: Mythril Shield (1 left), Mythril Sword (1 left), or Hastega Spell (2 left)
40,000 points: Flare Spell (1 left), Sean's Dictionary of Doom (1 left), or Blizzaja Spell (2 left)
50,000 points: Regega Spell (2 left), Rebirth Stone (2 left), or Hyper Sneak Glove (1 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 items, merchandise, or guest-hosting positions.

Click here for the current list of potential prizes!


IN CLOSING

One more co-host down! I think that by now, there have been around twenty of them, and every single one of 'em has been a blast. Great job, as always, Erika!!

Another day will round out yet another week for me and take you guys to a weekend with Ouro. I hope to see you all tomorrow!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt thinks that his professor is just evil!


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Matt's Top 5 Most Wanted Games:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Xenosaga: Episode III

3. Final Fantasy XII

4. Final Fantasy V

5. Children of Mana

Top 3 Games Matt's Playing Right Now:

1. Disgaea II

2. Fire Emblem GBA

3. Grandia III

SOCK's Top 35:

--Procne--
HP: 3,000
----------
1. Aurelius
43,097 pts

2. JokingChimer
37,273 pts

3. Draconn
32,845 pts

4. Kanato
32,540 pts

5. DMJewelle
31,504 pts

6. JuMeSyn
27,559 pts

7. Alexander
26,776 pts

8. Alan Tse
25,907 pts

9. LufiaLvr
25,269 pts

10. BigWook
24,677 pts

11. Boojum
24,370 pts

12. Purelunatic
22,259 pts

13. Macstorm
22,235 pts

14. Belthasar2
21,908 pts

15. Erika
21,381 pts

16. Arros Raikou
20,392 pts

17. Cap
16,888 pts

18. Bainick
16,825 pts

19. Thinkfreemind
15,986 pts

20. MagRowan
15,533 pts

21. TV's Adam
14,601 pts

22. Arpijy
14,300 pts

23. BLG
13,895 pts

24. Hunter B
12,987 pts

25. Dermot
12,896 pts

26. MrMSty
12,580 pts

27. Erunion
11,905 pts

28. Bucket
11,211 pts

29. DDX
11,163 pts

30. Vigilante
11,160 pts

31. Prismatic
10,640 pts

32. Kharamain
10,135 pts

33. Ourobolus
9,831 pts

34. Leaper
9,405 pts

35. Gaijin
9,378 pts

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