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Ashen Memories October 16, 2006

Josh - 1:58 EST

At PT this morning, we did a little karate (well, as much self-defense as you can learn in the span of an hour...), and it was pretty neat. I haven't actually been this happy about waking up at 5AM in years. I mean, the after-effects still irritated me, as wandering around campus like a zombie doesn't really provide me with the necessary social interaction in order to keep myself awake. It's a vicious cycle, I tell you. Bustling social life => less sleep => lack of social life => more sleep => stay up longer => bustling social life. Etc., etc.

Luckily I have enough time during the day to write up all of these letters...then I take care of the THONG stuff when I get home for the night. I think I'll be getting a take home exam in Theory of Automata, Language, and Computation this afternoon, so expect me to be in something more or less resembling a hole for the next few days ;_;. Oh yeah, Complex Analysis exam on Thursday. Huzzah.

I probably wouldn't be so disturbed by these events if this afternoon, one of my friends asked for some help on her Finite Math homework. Frickin' FINITE MATH! After painstakingly explaining to her what the complement of a set was (all of the elements of a universal set that are not in the specific subset. I.e., the complement of all positive whole numbers on the whole number line is all negative whole numbers and zero), I had a revelation -

I hate all Liberal Arts majors. :P




L E T T E R S
I don't really hate Liberal Arts majors. Just the people taking them. ^^


Dracus said "IV on the GBA seemed really badly rushed - the most noticable flaw was the battle system, which made it impossible to plan battles. Just when you think you've planned your next move, the game skips the next characters turn and moves onto someone else! That made some of the battles a lot more annoying."

Well yes, I guess that can be considered a flaw (they did "amend" that for the EU version after all). But it definitely isn't an example of FFIV Advance being rushed, since it was a feature of the original version(s) too! (Just made more obvious by the new time bars.) Although there are other examples of glitches made from it being rushed, like the double turn glitch.

Note: The feature itself is a "formation priority" one, instead of the "first come, first served" style later adopted with the ATB. So if several characters are "ready", it would choose them in the order:
2
4
1
5
3
..instead of who's bar was filled, or command was selected, first. (Row doesn't matter for this.) It doesn't really make planning impossible, if you just time things right.

Josh

Well, it's certainly not a problem if several characters get their turn at the same time and then get chosen in whatever order. If you're fast enough, they should all be able to get their turns in quickly enough (also, did FFIV allow you to switch between characters if several characters were 'ready?' I completely forget). But I can see where it might be irritating. I know it bothered the hell outta me when Rosa would somehow get skipped, and Cecil would get something like four turns in a row. Sure, I was doing a ton of damage, but I wasn't getting HEALED. I mean, Edge would be practically dead by the time I got around to him, thanks to his stellar *snicker* defense.

As for Bainick's FFV problem of not yet beating Gogo:
I can only hope that was a reference to not taking the time, or perhaps to fighting them as some sort of challenge. Because the battle itself will be quick and simple, when doing what you are obviously meant to do!

Josh

Yeah...Gogo is really, really, really, easy. For the first few minutes of the battle, I sat there going, "What the hell? DIE!" And then it dawned on me.

Also, the guy who Bainick was responding to didn't like Xenogears. I am disappointed. Especially since he said he didn't like the battle system. I could understand arguments like "convoluted plot," "poor text speed," and "disc 2 is teh sux," but the battle system? Come on. ^^

As for Buses: Assuming they are double seats, I personally swap to a new double (and stretch out), if they seats were quite close by. (I'm not running from one end to the other!) But I'm more worried about doing it, so I don't trap the other person in their seat when they want to get off. Note: I would only try to swap while the bus is stationary, for the obvious reasons!

Josh

I just find the most empty seats (least amount of people surrounding it), and then hover there until more people show up. If someone old or someone cute gets on, then I'll likely give up my seat, but for the most part, I just sit there until I get to where I'm going. Now, if you want to talk about the subway in Korea...I'll stand up unless I can have a buffer of a few seats from anyone over the age of 55. Younger people I can handle, but there are still some older Koreans who would like to gut me.

*remembers the night coming back from Lotte World, where two older Korean men started fighting because I was hanging out with my Korean friends. One was defending me, the other screaming AT me. Needless to say, we got off at the next stop and waiting for the next car*



1+1+2+1? No, 1+2+1+1!


Hey, Josh.

So, like....I just finished Xenosaga Ep. II. (2, not 3. I was somewhat late getting on the Xenosaga bandwagon. I finished Ep. 1 earlier this summer, and I bought Ep. 2 just a week ago.)

Josh

Congrats!

Overall, I enjoyed it, but it was a definite step down from Episode 1, for a variety of reasons. As you have said repeatedly, the battle system does have a lot of problems. I don't think that it completely sucks, but it is in need of polish. It's amazing how it manages to be both inanely simple, frustratingly time-consuming, and pitifully easy all at the same time. Every single battle is the exact same thing over...and over...and over. I died once, and it was against the final E.S boss.

Josh

It just got to the point where I started chaining Aura attacks (unless the enemy was immune, in which case I moved to Fire or something), and killed everything relatively quickly. The only strategy involved was initially figuring out the strategy that you would then use for the rest of the game -.-

However, dissapointing as that was, the battle system was not my main peeve. I know that they were responding to the complaints from Ep. 1, but I found the lack of cutscenes in Ep. 2 to be appalling. There's no problem with shortening them and giving the player more control, but there were too many times when a total lack of information is given, and it made the story seem underdeveloped. One example would be after the awakening of Proto Omega. There are a few cutscenes during which the characters seem to say, "Damn....look at that!" And then there's nothing until the very end of the game. I absolutely did not mind the 45 minute cutscenes in Episode 1, and the lack of cutscenes in Ep. 2 is my biggest complaint.

Other small complaints include the new voice actors for just about everyone. Come on...what were they thinking? Not that any of the new actors are particularly bad, but it just makes the game lose a bit of posterity. (And KOS-MOS's new voice is just plain wrong. WRONG I say!) Oh yeah, and the fact that I finished it in just under 29 hours is hardly a good thing. I guess they expect you to do all those insipid "global samaritan" sidequests in order to get any decent length out of the game.

But anyways, I did like it. The cutscenes that did exist were most impressive, and entertaining to watch. And some of the battles were fun just because of the cinematic aspect. (Like the boss at the end of disc 1 for example.)

Josh

The story scenes were so-so to me. I didn't mind the ones in XSI too much, although some of the longer ones would annoy me, since I'd have to go somewhere, and I'd scream at the game to hurry the hell up so I can save and turn off the machine. The biggest complaint I had was that XSI had so many instances where you'd just RUN between cutscenes. The Woglinde was 95% this.

Yeah, the voice actors changing really threw me off for a second. Thank god they brought the originals back for XSIII.

The questions I have concern Episode III. The first being: will Episode III finally explain everything for me? Because I feel even more confused than I did at the end of Episode 1, and I'm not sure if I should be or not. What is the Y-data? What's up with Febronia, Cecily and Cathe? Who the hell is Nephilim? What's up with that Yuriev dude? Gahhh, my head hurts. Whenever I play an RPG, I am OCD about understanding every single aspect of the plot; if I don't, then I'm not satisfied.

Josh

Yes. A big, resounding yes. First off, there's a database you can access at any point in the menu that contains an exhorbitant amount of information, and it updates as you play the game. Not only that, but it contains a ton of info from the previous games, as well as plot summaries. Have no fear, everything will come full circle. :)

Also, Episode III seems to have received an overall better reception. Why is this? Has the battle system been improved? Is a challenge this time around? Are there a substantial amount of cutscenes? Is it of decent length this time? And is it true that the original actors for KOS-MOS and Shion have returned?

Josh

The battle system is much faster, and for the most part, it's still fairly easy. It's not easy in the same way that XSII was, but let's just say that practically every ES battle goes by really quickly, as for some reason you do an incredible amount of damage in those things. Character battles take a bit longer, but they generally aren't very hard. There are certainly exceptions for both cases, though.

Cutscenes, yes, they are back...I'd still say there are less than XSI, as they changed it so that in order to expediate the flow of the game, they changed a lot of scenes into back-and-forth dialogue via text boxes. Most major events are in cutscene format, and there are still quite a few, so I wouldn't worry.

Decent length...well, I beat it in around 28 hours, but I tend to play games incredibly fast. There are some side quests (I did a few of 'em), and the little minigame HaKox will definitely add to your playtime if you don't get too frustrated with it. And yes, the original voice actors are back ^^.

At any rate, Episode III will have to wait until next year, because I'm booked until then with FFXII, Twilight Princess (on the Wii, no less!) FFIII, and much more. So I'm aiming for...hmm....perhaps february.

*Scribbles in his memo pad*

Am I the only one who actually makes a cohesive gaming schedule months in advance? People tell me that I'm obsessive.

Josh

Hm. Well, I certainly don't do that. If I get a planner, I always lose the damn thing. Anyone else?

Hey, your story last weekend concerning your disney-obsessed friend cracked me up. It reminded me of a certain friend of mine who is similarly obsessed with Japenese animation. She thinks that because I love Japanese games so much, I should equally enjoy Japanese animation. I do enjoy some anime, (mostly Hayao Miyazaki's films), but I'm not quite as, um, passionate about it as she is. For example, you will never see me dressed as Princess Mononoke at an anime festival. Er, in fact you would never see me dressed as any female character anywhere. (Eheheh).

Josh

Yeah, I completely understand, and that's essentially the same with me. I don't have the energy to 1) make the costume, and 2) parade myself around in it afterwards.

Also, her away messages constantly say "Have a Magical Day," which always induces vomiting on my part.

Keep up the good work.
-Oliver.

Josh

Well thank you! Have a good one, Oliver.



I don't really want to know how he picked his handle.


SkŚl Ouro,

Been thinking of writing again but had been procrastinating for a good while. Seeing as youíve had a bit of a dry run there, Iíve decided to let fly with the inanity of my letter.

Josh

It's "insanity," Brokenclavicle. The 'q' is silent.

Note: Yes, I know 'inane' is a word. :P

I was looking at reviews and the like on Final Fantasy IIIís DS iteration and came upon a podcast at 1up.com that gave me some pause. It would seem that the game sports a rather cumbersome save feature which the developers kept as such from the original Famicon version in order to make the gameís feel as faithful as possible to said original. I was very much looking forward to acquiring the title when it hits this November, but this issue has marred my anticipation of it. It would seem to me that it is a rather dumb decision from the developers to make a portable version of the game with a save feature that wonít allow you to save anywhere. Last time I checked, most of us DS owners play in short bursts while commuting. I might get it when I have to go on tour with my band, those long bus rides make for good, long gaming sessions, but that would be until early next year. Just wondering what you think of this rather obtuse decision by Squenix.

Josh

Hm...well, the original let you save on the world map and at save points...but that's really no different than any other FF game (except FFI, of course. FFII maybe as well, I forget). I can understand how that can be annoying on a portable system...especially with the length of some of FFIII's dungeons...sheesh.

But from what I gather, a good number of DS games sport some sort of sleep mode that lets you 'turn off' the system, and then resume play from where you left off when you come back. The PSP does this, and some people told me about the DS thing. Maybe they'll include something like that with FFIII.

On another topic, I have been theorizing about the state of console gaming and where all genres seem to be going. I donít consider myself to be an intellectual by any measure, but I think itís rather obvious that there will by a fusion of genres in the near future. I believe it is a logical deduction given the heavy borrowing from the RPG genre for other types of games. Hybridization seems to be the way currents are flowing. I believe the advent of this would eventually bring gaming closer to the goal of full immersion. Life is not separated in genres; hence, by incorporating as many different elements from the gamut of genres cohesively, gaming would emulate life more closely and provide a higher degree of immersion. RPGís Ė and perhaps every other individual genre Ė may very well become obsolete or be simply regarded as a more simplified and archaic form of gaming as a hybridized, all-encompassing game model takes prominence and provides a faithful alternate life. I personally would like to see this manner of game so long as it doesnít become something banal like the Sims (I really donít get the whole soap opera deal there), focusing on the most menial of life's tasks. Where do you think gaming concepts are going in the near and not-so-near future?

That just about does it for my letter. Hope it doesnít prove too boring.

Brokenclavicle.

Josh

As far as hybridization is concerned, for the most part, the games would need to revolve around either an RPG or a sim setup. If you want to start to emulate life, you need to do it from a type of game that contains the basic necessities for it - the ability to provide situations that most closely resemble it. RPGs and sims are able to provide situations such as conversations, errands, etc. Sure, I suppose action games can do that too and such, but that's not the overall drive of the game. Sims are there to provide those little micromanagment tasks, and RPGs are there to take those tasks, dumb them down a bit, and make them a secondary objective to an overarching quest.

But sure, it'll probably happen. Imagine a game where you build your own house, get a job, play sports, drive to work, and then suddenly find that an evil force is about to take over the town? Well, you leave your spouse at home to run the business (which you can micromanage), you can gain money by playing in/betting on sporting events, and you can drive around to get where you need to go, ultimately ending up, RPG-style, battling for your life.

The largest problem is giving the player TOO much to do. It sounds crazy, but we need to be limited in some fashion. Let's face it, people are stupid and need to be directed in what to do. OVerwhelming the player by requiring them to perform too many tasks will not help the hybridization.

Besides, virtual reality will eventually take over, and you can immerse yourself in a giant world where you can do whatever you want! ^^



I almost entirely skipped this letter when writing this column. Luckily, blank boxes are easy to notice.


Hey, Josh,

Finally found some time to break away from research to do some web browsing. And browse I shall!

Honestly, I don't see what the deal is with Xenogears (don't kill me!). I enjoyed the first disc, and even part of the second disc, but honestly, the way that game just FELL APART in the end, story-wise, was enough to sour me on the game. And what was up with the end movie? Do we really want to see Fei's... never mind. I'm not going there, lalalala.

Josh

Yeah, the second disc had some issues, but the game was fun overall. Battles were engaging (come on, don't tell me you didn't enjoy fighting Deus and Miang at the end), the plot was really good until they sorta rushed it at the end, and characters were quite developed. The music was also spectacular, and while the sprites needed some work, the rest of the graphics were great for its era!

Sigh...I guess I'm just a Xeno-freak. I really should give that game a replay at some point.

Have you played the new Tales game? I have to admit, I had a feeling it would be a return to form after seeing several videos of it, and after playing for a couple of hours, I have to say that I'm impressed. It actually feels as smooth as Symphonia, for the most part. And that, of course, is a GOOD thing. So far, the characters seem... interesting. I'm sure much of the game will track the main character's growth from spoiled brat to awesomely cool, all in the span of 50 hours! If only it were that easy in real life.

Josh

Not yet, but it's on my to-do list. My really long to-do list.

Considering the last Tales game I played was Destiny, I need to get back into it. After playing Star Ocean for a bit, I'm gonna need to get back into some good ol' 2-D fighting action. So far, everyone has loved the game that I've talked to, so I can't wait!

Also, have you played any Okami? That is really, really good stuff. Granted, it cribs straight from Zelda for almost everything, but it's the closest I've ever seen to the 3-D Zelda games in a non-Nintendo production. And that's pretty dang cool.

Josh

Yeah, I'm adoring this game. The nice thing about it is that it is longer than most Action-RPGs I've played. Not only that, but the graphics are astounding, and it has something I've missed in so many games of late: Exploration. I love just running around and finding stuff that's tucked away in the corners of the map. I honestly recommend this game to any of you with a PS2.

Valkyrie Profile 2. Opinions? I find the game quite good, although the infusion of Star Ocean-ish elements both intrigues and disturbs me. I personally liked the slightly simpler system found in VP1, but at the same time, infusion of depth is not a bad thing, and at least the enemies don't move until you do, which gives you time to plan. I find performing the opposite of the first game (freeing souls to become human as opposed to sending them up to Odin) rather intriguing, although levelling all those characters is bound to get to be a pain in the butt. Why more games don't use the Suikoden experience system, I do not know. In any case, I can be considered somewhat biased, I bought the first VP instead of FFIX, because, honestly, FFIX didn't look all that great to me. FFVII DID look good to me, but coming off of Chrono Trigger, I was a little disappointed. But VP1 rates up there almost even with CT for my favorite RPG of all time, hence my bias.

Josh

I'm probably going to get killed for saying this, but I've played a good deal of VP1, and I don't really see what the whole deal is with the game. It's pretty easy so far, but I HATE not knowing whether I'm doing the right thing or not, until the end. It's like Resident Evil games, where you can't determine your rating until you beat the game, and if you managed to not get the one you wanted, you have to start all over. The story is OK, I suppose, even though the characters really aren't developed that well (aside from Lenneth), and the music is pretty decent, as are the graphics, but the whole gameplay is just...meh. Don't hurt me.

Last bit, for now. My tumbly's all rumbly (gah, shoot me now!). Do any of you bother to use HDLoader? I know it's an avenue to illegality (obviously), but at the same time, as a legitimate owner of all my PS2 games, I've found it to be a quite effective way to mitigate the annoyances of some of the PS2's horrid load times. Granted, the success rate isn't 100% for games, but 85-90% isn't bad, and having most of my PS2 collection on the HD is rather nice, especially when I have to travel or fight my brother for the same game. That being said, for any of you thinking about pirating Tales or VP2, there are some weird issues with those games, and don't even TRY Kingdom Hearts 2. I mean it.

Okay, that's enough for now.
Sarge out.

Josh

I haven't, but I have been on the lookout for this, which will hopefully allow me to play my PS2 games in glorious HD on my roommate's 61" Tv. I can't wait. I'll definitely let you guys know about how well it works when it comes out, ok? Thanks again, Sarge!



You deserve what you get! :D


Yes! An actual letter! Do not be afraid, I come in peace!

Josh

Liar. You were harassing me via e-mail. We'll see what happens here.

The PS3 is upon us! And Iím not that exited about it. I donít plan to get one at launch. The reason isnít the price, or that I plan to get another system, itís the PS2.

Josh

Read my editorial that comes out today. ^^

What Iím about to say is probably blasphemous, but here it goes: The PS2 has too many good RPGs! When I had a Genesis, I was always looking for anything that even resembled an RPG. The PS1 was better, and while I missed a few good RPGs, this was mostly due to me not knowing about them. The PS2 is the first system where I ran into the situation of having to pass on an RPG not because it didnít look good, or had bad reviews, but because there were a bunch of other good RPGs and I didnít have the time/money for all of them. Itís happening on a regular basis! Have there been any that you havenít played (yet) because there is just too much coming out?

Josh

Agreed. There are quite a few great games out there for the PS2, and I just don't have the time to play them all. At least when the PS3 comes out, I'll still be able to shove those discs in there and play them. 'Course, I probably won't be getting a PS3 for a bit after launch, until a major onslaught of games come out. I'll be busy, playing with my Wii! >_>;

Iíll probably make some enemies here, but I have never played a Megaten, Tales, or Shadow Hearts game. I havenít played Okami either. Donít get me wrong, I want to. But perhaps thatís what the PS3 is for. No system gets a lot of good RPGs itís first 1-2 years, even the PS2. The first PS2 RPG I got was Summoner. Ever play it? If not consider yourself lucky. Ugh. Instead of buying a system and sludging through the launch library for a few gems, perhaps itís better to go find all of those good games that were never given a chance.

Josh

I haven't played a Shadow Hearts game, unfortunately, and it's mostly because I can't find the original game anywhere for any reasonable price.

And I did play Summoner. For 30 minutes, at most. The battling was lame, so it didn't last long. I usually wait for a little bit after a console's inception before heading out and looking for the games, since hopefully a little afterwards, most developers will have worked out all of the kinks.

However, go play Okami. Now.

Or I could play Suikoden 2 for about the 15th time.

Slashlen

Josh

At least it's a safe choice!

Slashlen, I've got my eye on you...



Inbox: 50% JuMeSyn free!


Help me.

Incidentally, how many of these stingers are you recognizing? If necessary I can annotate the episodes as an incentive for you to track them down. Today's stingers come from that delightful duo of Soviets-attacking-USA-in-incredibly-boring-fashion, Rocket Attack USA and Invasion USA! Neither are out courtesy of Rhino, meaning you'll have to use the internets! And they're both worth it - Rocket Attack USA is in fact the first stinger-appended episode ever!

Josh

Eh, probably a good half of them, honestly.

Come to that, everyone who is a MSTie and participates in Q&A, please give a show of hands!

Y'know, it really come down to a personal choice regarding the version of Symphony of the Night best preferred. Sure, the graphics got downgraded a bit in moving to the Saturn, but they're anything but ugly even so. The load times are jarring at first, but as I never played the game on PlayStation I have nothing better to compare them to, and they aren't intolerable. What do I get in return? About 20% more music (good tunes, too!), two new areas with enemies that don't show up anywhere else and have groovy theme songs (I said groovy! I need to play Earthworm Jim now!), the ability to play as Richter without putting in a code and the ability to play as Maria, and a couple of extra boss fights, one in the Underground Garden and one against Maria. To me, this makes for a superior version. Your mileage seems to vary - and unless you were left begging for more I can't honestly expect you to play the game again on Saturn just for this extra stuff.

Josh

I just like harassing you about the Saturn. I agree it was a superior version. It's just fun to watch you sweat. ^^

Of course I can always give in to hyperbole and extoll the virtues of the Saturn against its worldwide victor. So, nyah!

Speaking of our good friend the Saturn (let it slide, if you had a Saturn it would be your friend. I've kept it on for days at a time and had no hardware malfunctions - does Sony have that track record?) Sakura Wars is impinging itself upon my consciousness of late. Since you know nothing about it, I guess I'll have to step up and speak of its fascinating allure.

Here we go:
The game really isn't quite like anything else I've ever played. The strategy portions owe a debt to any given overhead-perspective strategy game, although they move rather slowly and aren't challenging. They manage to be fun though. And the rest of the game is more PC adventure game like than anything I've played in a long time. Honestly, if you don't have a translation handy this is a pain to go through, because there are long stretches of dialogue and without a clue what they're talking about it becomes arduous to keep clicking along. So I went to GameFAQs and put the entire translation into a Notepad file, which I scroll downward in while looking at the screen. A pain? Somewhat, and I would understand perfectly why many people wouldn't want to go through the effort. Having done so I feel much more compelled to keep playing however.

Outside of battle there will be frequent questions asked of Ohgami, the player-controlled character who is captain of the Teikokukagekidan. There are only a few seconds to answer these questions, otherwise the game will consider it a vow of silence - which in and of itself can be the best answer at times. Most questions allow Ohgami to be more or less in the favor of a given member of the Teikokukagekidan, which translates into different story points depending upon who is most in his favor along with stat bonuses in battle (though I'm still working out how the battle bonuses are figured in). Without a translation it can be damn hard to know what the hell is going on though, because very little Katakana is used in this game. I'm still working on learning Hiragana, but even with some Hiragana under the belt the use of Kanji is frequent enough that no one without a basic grasp of Japanese can do more than muddle around somewhat blindly. Which is why I am so irritated that no one ever brought the games into English when the damn anime and manga are over here - the games STARTED the Sakura Wars craze, people! Stupid Sega of America.

So why do I like it so? Probably because it feels remarkably like playing through an anime, only with replay value. Again, without a translation this will be lost and leave the player with only a lot of unintelligible text to scroll through and some battles that are diverting but hardly the most engrossing in strategy. With a knowledge of what's going on though, the little mechas onscreen (Koubu in the game) are no longer clanking tin cans, but have occupants who are genuine characters in the show, and thus have a fair amount of player involvement attached. If that makes any sense at all. A proper review from me should be forthcoming soon.

Josh

That's entirely too much effort for me to go through. Granted, I did play through about half of Chrono Cross's Japanese version, but I didn't go grab a translation anywhere.

Also...there are a slew of anime games that are over in Japan (entirely too many), and none of them will ever make it over here. My reasoning is that they seem to have the same understanding I do: Watching Anime != Playing Video Games. The two hobbies aren't one and the same, and people who watch anime make up a very small subset of the population (and an even smaller subset, the ones who purchase it), and an even smaller one, those that also play video games. It's just not a lucrative move for Sega to bring it over here.

For me, Michael Jackson's music went downhill right after that first court case in 93. Dangerous wasn't a slam dunk, but had enough good tunes to make it worth owning. HIStory does not. As for Bad, Thriller, Off the Wall - those are awesome. They're just another part of me - see, I can do Bad puns too!

Josh

Thank you, Blanket.

Oh, and Michael Jackson's Moonwalker may be somewhat repetitive and is hardly great - but it's quite playable and by being an arcade port doesn't take too long. So it is NOT a bad game. I would understand completely if you stuff it back into your repressed memories however.

Everyone who has not done so yet, go track down Don't Download This Song by Weird Al. Why? Because he offers it as a free download! And he actually played a concert in Eureka, which I saw and enjoyed immensely. The man put in a lot of work; everyone in the band changed their costumes through the show and he would constantly change to the costume he was wearing when in the video for his songs - that Kurt Cobain wig must have itched. Dunno how he got the Fat suit on in a concert, but the results were impressive.

Help me achieve the fortitude necessary to finish Tales of Phantasia when Sakura Wars beckons me so - I need to get it done before FFV comes out! (Assuming I have a little spare cash when FFV comes out so I don't need to use the credit card - but that's another story).

Josh

*casts Increase Fortitude on JuMeSyn*

Don't worry, my friend...you and every other RPGamer on the planet are going to be needing to speed up their gaming for the coming months.

What were your feelings regarding Golden Sun & The Lost Age? Do you feel we need another entry into the series? If not, what should Camelot be doing with its time - or are all these Mario Sports games fine by you?

Josh

I beat the original Golden Sun, and my brother got its sequel just as I left for college (or it was when I was visiting some winter. Either way, I missed out), but I actually enjoyed the game quite a bit. The graphics were pretty damn good for a GBA, and overall I thought the game was pretty well done.

Not knowing the plot of the second game though, I couldn't tell you. Though, an update in graphics and such for other systems (DS/PSP) might be pretty neat for the next seuqel.

Perhaps foolishly, perhaps not, I have obtained the Saturn version of Grandia. Hey, it was $11 and came with Fire Emblems 3 and 4 so the shipping cost was nil - I had extra cash at the time. Having played Grandia 2 I can get right into the battle system. And it beats throwing an insane amount of credit card debt onto my life, which WILL happen whenever I get a Sony system, as I already explicated.

Josh

Urgh. I still have to beat Grandia. I'm a good 3/4 of the way through, but...you know. Me and my stupid gaming habits... -.-

Today's GameFAQs character contest: Crono versus Captain Falcon. I voted, it's too late for you unless something changes in the Q&A answering time. Game reviews. How much do you trust them?

Josh

Eh. Everytime I look over there, either Cloud, Sephiroth, or Solid Snake wins. GameFAQs has some of the worst people posting in their forums, and while the actual data on the site is worth it, I couldn't care less about the rest of the site.

Gamepro I read as a child, thanks to a distant relative's benevolence. I always remember some moron reviewing Vay and giving it a Beginner difficulty level -that game was Advanced at the least! And Super Mario RPG got all 5 out of 5 ratings, which seemed a bit overzealous to me. Ummm - FFVI got 4.5 in graphics and 5 in everything else, but I just can't remember much else about Gamepro.

I do have a subscription to EGM, and I learn quite a bit I wouldn't otherwise, but every now and again their reviews (even with three people doing the reviewing) don't quite match my take. Would you concur with FFTA being granted three 9 out of 10's (I kinda do - but this is your take)? Was Chrono Cross worth two 10's and a 9.5? FFVIII being given four 9.5's? FFX-2 getting two 9.5's and an 8.5? I'm genuinely asking about the latter ones - I have no notions of how good they are or not. On the other hand there have been a number of moments when I thought they were pretty accurate.

Josh

I used to get GamePlayers (and its successor, UltraGP), and PSM. GamePro never interested me, as I never thought their ratings were all that great. Besides, their reviewers had that strange avatar thing going on that never stuck well with me, despite the fact that I was a whole 10 years old.

As for FFTA, no. A 6 or a 7 would be as high as I'd go. Chrono Cross did deserve fairly high scores, although a 9.5 and a 10 are pushing it. FFVIII and FFX-2 were both good games, and I mostly agree with their FFVIII review, and maybe straight 8.5s for FFX-2.

Boktai. This is a bad time of year to try it out, but should I make the attempt?

Josh

I dunno...that whole solar thing was just strange to me. I hear the plot is nothing great, but the gameplay is pretty good. Hey man, go for it, though you'll have less and less time each day to play it! ^^

Are there any occasions in which kangaroos are opponents in an RPG? They would make for some good enemies, I think. Streets of Rage 3 has a kangaroo you can play as - and it's 12 years old now!

Josh

Kangaroos...hm. I remember the Kangaroo from Tekken 2, but as for an RPG...I can't think of any. There might have been some kangaroos in Seiken Densetsu 3, if my mind serves me correctly (and it probably doesn't).

Extra, extra, America invaded! Read all about it! Extra, extra, America invaded!
JuMeSyn

Josh

I still have another one of your letters in my inbox!! :P





S E G U E

Hey, a bunch of you seem to have fallen off of the THONG map! Remember, it is anyone's game, as is evidenced by several people quickly climbing the ranks, as well as some others slowly drifting backwards!



T H O N G
Combat Log

Luca Blight charges up!
Bainick moves to Tile 18.
Leaper moves to Tile 20.
BLG moves to Tile 18.
Arros Raikou moves to Tile 12.
Slimey moves to Tile 28.
Bucket moves to Tile 24.
Draconn moves to Tile 27.
William.T moves to Tile 24.
Slashlen falls to Tile 22.
JuMeSyn moves to Tile 18.
PureLunatic moves to Tile 31.
Arpijy moves to Tile 29.
JDX moves to Tile 30.
Sundoulos moves to Tile 16.


Previous THONG Rounds!

Selections for characters can be found at the following sites:

Suikoden Characters

Suikoden 2 Characters

Click here for the rules and lists of items and prizes!

Click here to see previous trivia!

Luca Blight

You're lucky...you just barely got me last time...you won't be so lucky this time!

Answer to #L19: B. Illusionary Weaponry
Because it is not an attack skill, it does not end Dark Escape. Even better, is once you cast it on yourself, as long as it remains on you, your attacks don't hit, they cause chaos damage, which doesn't end Dark Escape either!

#L20. This character can perform the following battle skills: "A circus performer's center of concentration," "An attack from above," and "a limitless punt."

A. Locke Cole
B. Ziggurat 8
C. Cliff Fitter
D. Yangus
E. Gustave XIII
F. Ryudo

#L21. Josh was dancing to a specific song in that silly little video from yesterday. What is the name of the artist/band?

A. Cascada
B. T.A.T.U.
C. Ace of Base
D. Easy-E
E. ATC (A Touch of Class)
F. Daft Punk

THONG Question

Answer to #19: E. Illusion of Gaia
Will wields a flute! Yeah, the Dark Knight has a sword, but he's not technically the main character now, is he?

#20.Difficulty: Medium
The card game in Xenogears is most akin to what real card game?

A. Solitaire
B. Poker
C. Canasta
D. Speed
E. Egyptian Rat Slap

#21.Difficulty: Hard
Which main playable character has the most Max LP in Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song, and how much less is that than the non-main character with the most Max LP?

A. Sif, 3
B. Claudia, 2
C. Claudia, 4
D. Sif, 4
E. Hawke, 3

C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Yay! I get to sleep in! Hooray!

Thanks for a good weekend, guys, and hope you have fun with Matt in the upcoming week. I may be covering for him on Friday, should I have the time...I may not though if I have to march in the Homecoming Parade. Anyway, take care!

ourobolus@rpgamer.com
***Josh honestly doesn't want to march.


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RPGs I'm currently playing:

1. Okami

2. Radiata Stories

3. Wild Arms: ACF

THONG Players:

1. Roku
Flik  TP: 2
550p

2. Bainick
Hero 2  TP: 9
2050p

3. Leaper
Antonio  TP: 12
2950p

4. Macstorm
Mazus  TP: 1
850p

6. BLG
Sid  TP: 9
2075p

7. Arros Raikou
Kage  TP: 7
2275p

8. Xlash
Gijimu  TP: 0
200p

9. Donovan
Clive  TP: 2
900p

10. Slimey
Gadget  TP: 9
2550p

11. Bucket
Millie  TP: 14
1775p

12. Draconn
Mondo  TP: 10
1700p

13. Genjuu
Pesmerga  TP: 2
750p

14. Alan Tse
Hoi  TP: 3
1525p

15. TheBluick
Fu Su Lu  TP: 0
0p

16. Gouden Draak
Rubi  TP: 1
725p

17. Slashlen
Lorelai  TP: 16
3350p

18. JuMeSyn
Odessa  TP: 8
1800p

19. PureLunatic
Viktor  TP: 20
2975p

21. William.T
Killey  TP: 14
2075p

22. Arpijy
Hix2  TP: 2
1400p

23. Spiffyness
Badeaux  TP: 2
525p

24. Reivax
Kasim  TP: 1
200p

25. Carabbit
Viki  TP: 7
1975p

26. Vicissitude
Clive2  TP: 7
2450p

27. JDX
Kuromimi  TP: 20
3450p

28. Kupomogli
Kinnison  TP: 7
875p

29. Aurelius
Kahn  TP: 14
2625p

30. Omm
Yoshino  TP: 2
1225p

31. Aylee
Luc  TP: 8
2500p

32. Tabor
Ted  TP: 15
3250p

33. TvsAdam
McDohl  TP: 2
875p

34. Sundoulos
Hai Yo  TP: 8
2075p

Anyone else?

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