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South of the Border April 3, 2006

Josh - 14:52 EST

Well, hello. Looks like I, the RPGamer Free Agent, will be here filling in for Tip for a bit, so get used to it! ^^ This evil plan of mine certainly is taxing, but...it's certainly been fruitful (Obligatory: Go read Editorials and Roundtables)! Until I get settled, I'll just hurry up and answer your questions.

Oh! And, I almost forgot. Today...the Q&A has been...de-Canadized! Yes, this could possibly go down in history as my favOrite moment. The colOr of my face has returned, and I'm able to let everyone know what I'm all abOUt. But, I digress. Onward to the questions!




L E T T E R S
My professor is talking about data trees.


Hello Matt or Tiptail,

Josh

Neither! Hahaha! You must suffer through the evilness of MY column today!

Not sure who will get this letter, as it is the weekend, but I thought I'd drop a line to your column once more, and chime in with some things on my mind. Doesn't matter who answers this, cause both of your columns are great, with solid debate and interesting topics.

On the subject of Breath of Fire (yes, I know I will have a giant bulls-eye on my back for this one), I think that part 3 totally rocked, and easily beats the others in the series. Why? Must be nostalgia, must be good gameplay, or music... but this game just took my breath away, no kidding. The fishing was great, and I didn't mind leveling up for hours, because I always could juuuuust smell that 4000 zenny Midas Stone coming my way where each enemy dropped like 10 zennys. Classic stuff. Plus, the overworld music after Ryu ages is easily the best overworld music I have ever heard.

Josh

I personally loved Breath of Fire III. In fact, the only one I haven't really enjoyed was BoF II...it just failed to maintain my interest for some reason. The only big problem I had with BoF III (and the reason why I haven't beaten it) was that there was a save point right before the final boss that if you saved at it, you couldn't go anywhere except forward...and I have a habit of playing through games severely underlevelled. I was pretty much stuck there, unable to progress. I'm sure at some point I'll go back to it, though.

Then came Dragon Quarter. Quarter is the operative word, as I wouldn't even pay that to play that game again, as I found it... blah. But I guess its to each his own, and if you liked that game, I'm happy for you.

Josh

Blasphemer! BoF V is amazing! I'm just kidding - to each his own, but I thought that it was one of the best games I've ever played. It was definitely drastically different from all of the other games in the series, but I certainly hope they make more games that are both like the older versions, as well as ones that differ from the norm.

Moving on, I have an interesting question that takes the old phrase "Whats you favorite Final Fantasy" to a new level. What is the order from your favorite FFs down to your least favorite in the series that you have played? What about your readers? My order looks like this : FF 9 (the best), 6, 4, 1, 5, 7, 8, X-2, 10, 2 (least favorite).

Josh

Well, this question doesn't exactly take it to a 'new level,' as you put it...I've seen this asked many times, and I've answered it plenty. But, I'll do it again, just for you ^^.

The order for Final Fantasies for me, from best to worst, is: 6, 10, 9, 7, 5, 8, 10-2, 3, 4, 1, 2. Yes, that's right, I didn't really like FFIV. Feel free to stone me now. I've got a cache of Softs on hand for just such an occasion, I warn you.

Now I need an opinion on something from either Matt or Tiptail, and your readers. I'm currently Dragon Quest starved, and until someone re-makes all of the old NES DWs for PS2 in one collection, I gotta settle my eyes on Dragon Quest Yangus. Looks interesting to me to say the least. Are you guys psyched about this down-the-road release?

Well, I'll close now, since I have a lot of stuff to do in preparation for my first day of trade school on Monday, so wish me luck! Great columns as always guys! You have me hooked on reading daily! Excuse me while I get back to my game of Grandia III, and until Kefka takes over this column with his delightful and evil cackling I remain...

-Greg in Philly

Josh

As for DQ: Yangus, I'm not sure. I'm always wary of games that boast "Randomly-generated dungeons." After wasting three years of my life puttering around Diablo II, I'm not ready to jump on yet another attempt at it. The game certainly looks interesting, and while I'm more than willing to give my favorite British-accent-toting thief another go-round, I'm probably going to have to rent it first before making any long term decisions.

And Kefka? Pssh. That guy's got nothing on me.



Something wicked this way went.


Hey Matt

Josh's Inner Voice:

Don't worry...soon, soon, they will be chanting YOUR name...just give it time.

I think the sock contestants have doubled since your new additions to the sock prize shop, kudos.

I was wondering if anyone else out there has a preference on when they like to start a new rpg. I like to start new rpgs early Saturday mornings, I guess because I like to wake up and have nothing but a new adventure in my horizon. I bought Kingdom Hearts II Wednesday and Iíve saved it just for this Saturday. I can give you all an impression in a couple days if you care to have an extra opinion, Iíll also make sure to keep out any spoilers.

Josh

Considering my entire basis for purchasing games boils down to when I find money in my pocket, as well as if there are any sales going on or if I can buy it used for a reasonable price...no. I don't have any preference to when I first play my games. I'll usually go home and putter around the game for awhile until something comes up, at which point it will probably sit in limbo until I finally find time to play again. Check the sidebar to see what games I'm perpetually concurrently playing. And lucky you, to be able to have nothing to do on a Saturday ;_;.

Since you all were on the subject of lets downs a while ago I think Iíll add to it. The biggest let down for me was Baten Kaitos. There was sooo much hype about that game, in my perspective at least, since it was one of the first major rpgs for the Game Cube. I donít think it deserved the kind of drum roll it got. What disappointed me was, you guessed it, the voice acting. I seriously canít come to understand how the voice acting could have been so terrible unless the actors were purposely trying to make the characters so annoying you wanted them to die and let evil reign over their world. I would rather have Stephen Hawking voice act all of the characters, at least then it would have been funny. I couldnít connect with the characters because they didnít seem to have a personality which kind of defeated the purpose of making it an rpg. The story wasnít that great or deep either.

Grandia 3 was also a big let down for me. I am an adventuresome kind of guy and Grandia is an adventuresome kind of game so I was really looking forward to it. Iím not sure how to explain it but Grandia 3 just wasnít as, well, grand as the first two, or maybe I was just expecting too much: it had a lot to live up to.

Josh

I can't say I've have the pleasure of playing Baten Kaitos, but I've heard nothing but horror stories involving the voice acting (see the current Roundtable). I don't have anything against voice acting. Actually, let me rephrase that - I have nothing against GOOD voice acting. Good voice acting can add so much to a game, but bad voice acting can completely ruin the experience. If a game's story is being told through voice, who's going to want to listen if it hurts their ears? Thankfully, games like Xenosaga and Grandia III have VAs that are quite pleasant, and I have no problems paying attention to the plot.

I'm still at the beginning of the second disc of Grandia III, but so far...yeah, I know what you mean. So far, the game has been quite linear; there hasn't been much exploration - the burst of light you can use to locate objects seems to stem from poor graphical design than anything else. "Hmm...our treasure chests blend into the background...better add a feature so the player can find them more easily."

I think gaming companies should make an rpg where you are the bad guy. It would definitely be a new and interesting experience. Actually, I think they gave you that option in Fable for the X Box but I never played it since I donít have and X Box, still they should make another. What do you think about that?

And if any of you are curious about more FFX/X-2 interpretations go here (http://www.ffcompendium.com/h/ff10characters.shtml) and read about Shuyin and Tidus.

Sir Browny Bottoms

Josh

I completely agree. It would be a nice change of pace. So far, there have been a few games where you have the option of being a bad guy (KOTOR, Fable, Fallout, Dungeon Keeper, etc.) but nothing has been so detailed that if you are the bad guy...you are loathed by everything and anyone. I understand that the logistics behind such an endeavor would be quite time-consuming, but I would love to see a game where the sole purpose of your character is to be the enemy. This way, the developers could devote the entire span of the game to having you create and progress the villany of your character! A game after my own heart!

Also, Fable sucked. The hype that game generated...it was disgusting. And then it showed up at my door, and was about as useful as a spork-toting squid. What a waste.

Well, there you have it guys, all you could ever need to know about the relationship between Shuyin and Tidus. I'll make sure to click that lin...zzzzzzzzz...

Tiptail's Ghost

Wake up and do your job correctly, or I'll send you back to the temp agency!!

Ack! Ok, ok. But anyway, thank you for writing in, Sir Browny Bottoms! I look forward to hearing from you in the future!



Split-Genre Disorder


Hello QnA host!

This is the first time that I've actually written in so I hope you have a comment on my upcoming question! First of all I've just purchased Kingdom Hearts 2 and it is better than I thought it would be! Which is saying alot seeing how I had high hopes for it. The first Kingdom Hearts game had a storyline that truly died down after the first hour and didn't get interesting until the last 8 hours of the game. The last 8 hours made the game really as ALOT of massive plot elements came up. However most of the game felt like it was a hack and slash game with hardly any real reason to be hacking and slashing. With that said I almost struggled to call it an RPG. It just didn't feel like much of an RPG until the very end. This is something I find most common about real time or "action" RPG's. They just never seem to have that RPG feel that most turn based games have for some reason. There are exceptions of course (Star Ocean series and Tales of Destiny 2 come to mind) but for the most part action RPG's never capture the RPG feel very well at all and wind up feeling like hack and slash games with nothing more than RPG elements thrown in for good measure. So am I the only one plagued with this feeling when I play action RPG's? Is the lack of an RPG feel in these games common to others perhaps as well? With that said I'll say that Kingdom Hearts 2 has somehow succesfuly captured the RPG feel somehow inspite the first games lack thereof. Only being a few hours into the game I feel that the game has a much more darker and serious story (Wow, I never thought that I'd say a game featuring Donald and Goofy was serious). I'm sure it will have it's crazy and goofy parts that will make me regret saying that perhaps but I encourage you to pick it up if ya get the chance. And despite it being real time it is now one of the few, the proud, the exceptions. In my list anyway. My rant is over.

Xiro.

Josh

I loved Kingdom Hearts quite a bit! The only problem I had was the annoying camera system, but other than that, I found it to be a very well-done game. I do see where you are coming from, though. While I have a place for Action-RPGs in my heart, sometimes they do feel like nothing more than "hit everything on the screen repeatedly until it dies." What separates most of them from your standard slasher is the puzzles. Alundra is one of my favorites, because not only was the fighting done well, the puzzles were so engrossing that I couldn't help but enjoy them, despite their difficulty! Other than that, there's just the FEEL of the game that gets to me. What makes me decide whether something that is a borderline RPG tips the scale is if it feels like an RPG. It's one of those ineffable qualities that I can't explain, but you know exactly what I mean. The coupling of a game's story, characters, battles, and overall interaction all lend a hand in creating what I consider to be - an RPG.

I cannot wait to get KH2. My problem is that I've devoted myself to finishing my backlog. I am going to try to beat Xenosaga II tonight (I'm at the last dungeon), so that will drop one game off of my list. But from what I hear, the game is freakin' incredible.



This letter is letter-based.


I like the music in Xenosaga 1 more. Why you ask? It fit the parts alot better. Xenosaga 2 has a fantastic soundtrack in my discman. The whole music is song based and flows like it does. While the first one is more fitting but repetive listening to..

Josh

I disagree. I think it flows like it doesn't.

As for graphic styles.... I prefered one.... I really noticed in the 2nd the animation was just off... They seemed like cut-outs playing their role... moving around quite poorly compared to the first one.

Josh

I thought they both worked well, but I also liked XSI's graphic style to that of XSII's. I think that's mostly because I was used to the first game before I got the second. Ah well.

Another quick question... That I don't remember you talking about. But what character in RPG history. Yes History... had the best voice acting job to suit him/her?

Josh

Best...urgh. That is a toughie. I'll list a few, though. Wakka had the best acting in FFX, hands down. MOMO also had a good "tinny-small-girl-high-pitched-voice," as well. Other noteables are King Trode and Jessica from DQ8.

On a non-xenosaga note... have you read any fan reviews of FF12?... from Japan. I was quite worried consdiering the demo. But read those, and it should be all good. Laters!!!!!!!!

Josh

I've read a few, and so far, I still reserve the right to hate it or love it until I play it. I played the demo and actually enjoyed it, but anything can happen between a demo and final release. I like all sorts of games, and for the most part, reviews don't particularly help me unless I can sit down and discuss it with the reviewer. Static one-sided discourse isn't the way to convince me of something.



Ok, let's get it out...Legend of Dragoon was a BAD game.


Hey there, Matt

It seems to me that, while graphics are a very important part of any game, they shouldn't be the only important part. Sure, a game may have excellent music, brilliant sound, and an interesting story, but you wouldn't want to see horrible MS Paint creations instead of fully realized characters, would you? I suppose Magic Pengel is the exception, considering it's your own creations you're watching on the screen, but still...

And on the other side of the spectrum, if the music is like something you'd hear during the Three 6 Mafia's Academy Award's performance, the story is something the typical fourth grader would write after watching a few random episodes of anime, and the battle system resembles the original Final Fantasy's, then no amount of good graphics is going to save it.

Besides, any one component of a game can't carry it for the rest. However, any one component can't ruin it for the rest, either. Final Fantasy Tactics' translation was awful (and we thought they dropped the ball with Final Fantasy IV! Guess again...), and yet everything else about the game is wonderful. However, I can't think of more than a few good things about The Legend Of Dragoon. The story was alright, and the battle system was interesting... but it would get boring quickly during long fights.

Josh

Graphics are important, I wholly agree. It's not the most important aspect of any game I'd play, but it does have to meet whatever standards I put forth. My roommate is your classic graphics whore, and will defend to the death that he'll never play an RPG before the PS2 era on the basis that it sucks, regardless of what great things those games may have in store. Most games that existed back then only have nostalgia value to those who lived in that era, though. I don't expect too many people to go back and play Dragon Warrior IV if they grew up with an Xbox. Sure, they are missing out on quality gaming, but that is quite a step back to appease someone who is used to so much more.

Music is probably the single most important thing to me in a game. If the music appeals to me, or at least doesn't annoy me, then chances are I'll enjoy the game! I cannot stand to play a game with the mute button on...it's worse than not playing at all. Like I've said before, it's the only reason I gave Unlimited Saga the chance I did.

And...Legend of Dragoon was one of the worst RPGs I've played. The music was fairly decent, though...which is why I suppose I made it to the fourth disc before giving up.

This also leads into something you asked about: in The Legend of Dragoon, one of the characters dies (but I think they passed all their abilities on to another character, exactly like what Galuf did in Final Fantasy V). I remember being surprised, and then trying to feel something for the dead character... and finding I did not. I don't know if it was exactly then that I realized that I wasn't enjoying the game, but by the end of it, I knew for sure that I was only playing it so I could finish it.

And about spoilers in games: I remember when I first came to RPGamer and was reading Q&A back when the legendary Google was doing the column. He used to use a big red notification before every letter that would spoil a game, something like "Warning: contains spoilers for Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain" or something. It usually worked, as far as I know.

-CW (has successfully resisted defending BoF3, his favourite game in the series!)

Josh

When what's-his-name died, I think the other character was just a carbon copy of him, anyway. Neither of the characters were very interesting though, so I too didn't really give a care when he died.

As for spoilers...I'll note 'em when I see 'em. There's a time limit, though...games older than, say...6 years aren't going to warrant any sympathy from me! ^^



C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Well, that was a fun first try at a Q&A. I'll be sticking around for a little longer, probably, doing the columns from Saturday-Monday. Don't forget to send me letters (one more that says "Dear Matt," and...POW!)! If I'm able to talk to Tiptail, I'll see what she and Matt had going with the SOCK competition, and I'll work on getting that implemented.

Thanks for having me! I'll see you guys next week! :)


ourobolus@rpgamer.com
***Josh needs a nap. And a cookie.


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I wrote this entire thing in my DBMS class. I could also be sleeping.

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