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Well Kiss My Grits November 4, 2006

Josh - 3:56 EST

So I suppose you saw the message on Matt's column yesterday, and after much deliberation between he and I, we decided that it was time for a change. The column is designed as an outlet for people to come and discuss RPGs. Sure, it's ok to get a little off-topic now and then, but as long as everything is centralized over the reason why we're here (RPGs), then it's all good. The other problem is that of length. Several readers (it's not just one) write in with exceptionally long letters, and while I'm sure there are many valid points and/or topics being discussed in these letters, one or two (or both) things happen:

1. We get bored reading it and start slacking off on our answers.
2. The readers get bored reading it and don't see everything you've written.

Matt and I both set aside a few hours each day to work on the columns. It's not particularly difficult work, but it does take TIME. And when one person writes in a giant letter, we have to either devote less time to other letters or spend more time overall to make up for it. And honestly, we can't discuss all these games with you if we never have time to play them! ^^;

So there is now a 1,000 word limit on all letters. Any longer, and we will either politely snip them of content, or just toss them. 1,000 words is still plenty of space to get in any ranting or questions needed, and with this we should hopefully be able to get a larger diversity of opinions (less words per letter = more letters per column...hopefully). So, if this causes any inconvenience, well...uh, tough. ^^. This is a pretty reasonable request, guys. A good way to tell if your letter is too long is if you have to scroll down the screen to read more of it.

Also, if there's anything else you guys think we can do to improve the column, please let us know. We are always in need of constructive criticism/suggestions!

Anyway, on to the column! I think I've got some letters around here somewhere...




L E T T E R S
The following letter has been formatted to fit your screen and in the time allowed.


Aaaaah, eeee, waaaaaah!
My god, what is it?

As you ought to have collection 1 by now, that stinger should be familiar. And incidentally, since Matt is so terrible at this, I'll test the Ouro's knowledge of popular music!
'I used to be a renegade,
I used to fool around,
But I couldn't take the punishment,
And had to settle down!'
PLEASE say you recognize this, or I'll be disappointed for a long time to come.

Josh

Note: This was sent before the word limit was imposed, so I'll let it slide. I did remove parts of the letter that were just way off-topic. Sorry, JuMeSyn ^^;

Well, that's not recent music, that's Huey Lewis and the News's "Hip to be Square." So nyah. :P

Ahhh, a couple more obscure Saturn titles I shall throw into the public discussion sector! Such as - Samurai Spirits Bushidouretsuden, which you might be more familiar with under its US title (if it existed) of the Samurai Shodown RPG. Having attracted my interest, I shall accrue further information if you aren't willing to do it for me.

Josh

Review here!

And oddly enough, the first Suikoden is on Saturn! Not that I'm crazy enough to get it when the system had been killed off by Sega before Suikoden II came out, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

Josh

Yeah, I always forget that it was there, too. Oh, just a side note, I'm actually watching "The Skydivers" right now, since Vol. 1 came in the mail today! Yay!

Somebody awhile back mentioned Dark Savior, and since I gave it a quick test run recently I might as well throw it out. The music is quite good, and the concept is equally good. The problem lies in that damned isometric view! I made it onto the deck of the ship that opens the game, only to find that I couldn't see where a lot of hot stuff was reliably! Dying because I couldn't see where the safe ground was (it being behind a building) irritated me immensely. Sure the camera can be tilted somewhat, but it doesn't tilt enough and snaps back to isometric view the instant you begin moving again. I hate that.

Josh

Isometric views have always driven me to the brink of sanity. There will always be that one area in a place where you can't see what you want to find (Breath of Fire 3), and you'll miss out on some secret. You had to find Peco (or someone, I forget) in BoFIII and it took me forever because he was hidden behind a stupid house and rotating the camera wouldn't let me see close enough. URGH.

And no one mentions Mystaria, but I'll do it now and then never again. It's a Tactical-type title that was mildly interesting but very slow moving. It failed to attract my interest, and I very much doubt I'll ever pick it up again.

Have a remix for the day: http://www.ocremix.org/remix/OCR00156/ I very much doubt you need me to say anything about THAT game, so just take it and enjoy. Or hate, but I try not to give remixes that suck.

Josh

Not bad. Very jazzy, with a very heavy piano and horn section. I think the piano needs to be a bit softer, but other than that, the remix is pretty good!

Quest for the Crown was a game, or just a little screen of a guy standing on some SMB1-looking blocks? The intro was amusing but whatever site I found didn't have any more than that.

Josh

Quest for the Crown was just a silly little Flash game online that lasts a whole 5 seconds. I just found it amusing. Here's a link. Enjoy! The best part is the instruction manual, which made me giggle incessantly for some time. ^^

Oh, and South Korea does NOT want North Korea to collapse. Why? Because the cost of rebuilding it would come primarily from South Korea, and it would cost a LOT, impoverishing South Korea for years. As for China, I can think of a number of strategic issues the country could use a North Korean crisis to get a jump on, most of them involving Taiwan.

Josh

I think if that scenario happened, most of the free world would chip in. I mean, they've been trying to get rid of this guy for years now, I'm sure they'd aid in reconstruction. Besides, it's not like North Korea has a bustling economy right now or anything.

Ahh, Tales of Phantasia. Last night I THINK I got through an annoying part where I am thrust into a campaign against an enormous enemy army. The fact that the enemies aren't random in this part is actually a BAD thing, because by the time I found a save point at least 50 enemies had thrown themselves at me! Plus I wasted a lot of time early on when two of my people got petrified, and I didn't realize that the item that can cure poisoning and paralysis worked on petrification too, which its description didn't clue me in to! I ended up dumping that playthrough after 15 minutes of my two CPU-controlled characters slowly fighting through several encounters, only to pick it up again and promptly get my healer petrified. Took me an hour to fight through all that junk - and I REALLY hope there aren't still more enemies in my way, because I have had enough with the stinking peon combat! Any experiences in this mould you'd care to relate?

Josh

I vaguely remember a dungeon in Dragon Quest VIII (Can't remember which one...I think it was the one in the desert with Cash and Carrie), where I got stuck down in the depths of the place with no save points, healing items, or anything useful. I managed to run away from about 30 battles, making it out barely with any HP left. Then I get outside, forgetting I had that stupid Evac spell. So yeah, wasted effort. Sigh...

You seem able to play through games quickly and with little error. That's something I kinda envy, because I get lost waaaay too easily (not in real life after a horrible moment in 1991, but I won't go into it). I even got lost in Super Mario RPG, which took real work! I was somehow convinced that after Bowser showed up at Booster's tower he had run off somewhere else, so I ran around the whole stinking game world open at that point, and couldn't find him!

Josh

Oh, I have error, but usually nothing as grandiose as that. Usually something stupid like missing a piece of a really obvious puzzle. I tend to play through games quickly, since I want to get them done before something else comes along that I want to play. And with all the upcoming games, verily, I am screwed.

I'll leave off more Zone of the Enders commentary until I obtain it, which should be next year or so. From what I read though, there is enough RPG-like material to make it compatible with RPGamer.

I could have started another game, but instead I used a save file from midway through Sakura Wars 2 to get Orihime's ending. Something about Maya Okamoto's speech I just find thrilling - but where ELSE am I gonna hear a woman speaking in Japanese with a pronounced Italian accent? Maybe now I'll get Sakura's ending - damn have I fallen hard into Sakura Wars. Finishing it just made me feel happy in an uncomplicated way I can't really explain.

Josh

Japanese...with an Italian accent. Hm. I can't even fathom what that sounds like. As for finishing it, come on! It's always good to get those pesky, nagging desires finally out of our heads! Now you can focus on...uh...doing it...all over again with a different game. >_<

If I put Sakura Wars on hiatus I'll probably jump into the Saturn version of Grandia, which after all is the original platform for the game. As you've apparently played through most of it, does sir Ouro have any thoughts here?

When we return to our home planet the high court may well sentence you to TOHTCHA!

JuMeSyn

Josh

I really liked Grandia. Some people have touted it as rather lackluster, but I don't see what everyone didn't like about the game. I found it a fairly challenging game, and while the story was just OK, the battle system was fun, and the music was pretty good too. Very anime-ish.



The call of the mild?


Well, my even-more-anti-Microsoft-than-I-am bro clued me into the fact that Oblivion will be released on PS3 (official over a month ago apparently, but I miss these kinds of details more often than not). Anyway, I officially have no reason to purchase an Xbox 360. Hmm...Except for maybe Mass Effect. Can't very well buy a system for one game though. Any other reasons why I should consider the 360 that you can think of? PS3...so damn expensive...why can I not resist its siren call? Yeah, I realize it'd be way cheaper to play most of these games on my PC, but I try to keep my work and play machines separate. I'd like to think I make up in sanity what I lose in money.

Vicissitude

Josh

Well, there's always Halo 3. ^^;

As for RPGs, there's Enchanted Arms, though I believe that is getting ported to PS3. Other than that...there's that Mistwalker game, Blue Dragon, and that Chopin game, Eternal Sonata. There are a couple others, but those are the more notable ones. And as for the sanity/money equation, yeah, I think it's somewhat applicable. However, I'll be getting a Wii first, so I can maintain my sanity when I finally drop $600 for a PS3 at some point ^^;



Where do you people find these links?! Heheh.


Josh

Got FFXII yet? I haven't, and probably won't for months to come. But at least that gives me the chance to read up on how all the Q&Answerers feel about the game, what's good/bad about it, etc.

Josh

Yep! Got it! *resists urge to play so he can answer questions*

I still remember hearing some time ago that Square-Enix expressed how they wanted to make FFXII with the Western gamer and Western tastes in mind. They wanted to make this game for us, so to speak, hoping to appeal to a much more global audience. This made me wonder about what it is that they think us Westerners like to have in RPGs. Are they all supposed to be more action-oriented? Do they think that Westerners like action more than anything? (I suppose that would be true to some extent, given the game genres that sell over here)

Josh

Well, if you've noticed, most RPGs are created by Japanese companies, with the exceptions usually in the form of PC RPGs or MMOs. As such, FFXII does have more of an action-y feel, since MMOs are generally more about running around and killing things in either real-time or pseudo-real-time. And there are countless RPGs that are created in Japan that never make it over here, due to the slant we have with our genres here. Action games and sports games tend to sell really well across the board, while RPGs are usually reserved for a select few games (Final Fantasy, for instance).

Personally, I actually love playing RPGs designed with Japanese gamers in mind. The great majority of my RPGs are all Japanese-developed and Japanese-targeted. Apparently there is supposed to be a big difference between what is typically in a Western RPG and what is in a Japanese RPG (and I'm sure that's a discussion that you're tired of by now). What do Japanese companies think of Western RPGs? Like them? Hate them? A lot of people here seem to like them significantly less than a typical Japanese RPG. I always found them to be lacking compared to Japanese RPGs myself.

Josh

Like my previous point, it's all about the slant. Relatively few games from the RPG world are created over here and then sent over to Japan, although they, like other countries, seem to love our MMOs. World of Warcraft and Guild Wars, for instance, are huge over there. So it's not really a matter of not liking or liking them, it's a matter of there not being an adequate amount of games to make any sort of assessment!

I was naturally apprehensive when Square-Enix claimed that they would be making FFXII out to be Western-focused. Could a Japanese company really make a Western-style RPG better than Westerners themselves can make? Going by the resounding praise FFXII is getting, the answer seems to be "yes." Everything I've heard about the battle system and enemies being onscreen sounds almost exactly like the "pseudo-turned-based" systems of games like Baulder's Gate or KOTOR, only like a mesh of those games with a little more ATB in it. If you have played it, do you think that Square-Enix has really pulled it off, creating their first Western-style RPG with great success?

Josh

Considering I'm not exactly sure what "Western RPGs" to compare it to, I'll go ahead and say yes, as the game is stellar in practically every aspect.

If so, then I ask this: do you think this could be a good trend? Do you think Japanese game companies should make more games that they think Westerners would like, or just stick to what they are good at? I personally like what they are traditionally good at, but if I wind up enjoying FFXII as much as everyone else here, then maybe it is time for a change.

Ha ha ha, and Adam's letter from yesterday about the Star War-Mario thing kept reminding me of this: http://youtube.com/watch?v=vYf4-CFLp0k Hilarious, no?

Alan

Josh

Well, they're going to have to do something if they want to expand their influence into the Western gaming market. I mean, go to any college campus and ask how many people have played FFX. Then ask how many of them have played Halo. I guarantee that the numbers for Halo are exponentially larger than FFX. Sales here aren't -terrible- by any stretch of the imagination, but there's so many untapped consumers over here.

Also, XD on the video. That made me laugh. Poor Team Star Fox. ^^;;;



Precognition is a cruel mistress.


Dear Matty or whomever…

Whomever

I'll jump in here. I mean, Josh can't answer this question since he wasn't asked to :(

I am hear to heap praises and praises onto FFXII so all of you feint of heart, look away.

Whomever

This includes all you pregnant women and those with heart conditions. You must also be THIS tall to ride the column.

I consider myself an RPG connoisseur. I try to get through as many RPGs as I can as quickly as I can, not really doing any extras, but just getting through the story and stowing it away in my "collection". So unlike many of you I finish nearly all the RPGs I start (though I never made it through Disgaea or FFtactics for some reason) which makes me both an idiot and probably a little on the obsessed side.

Whomever

I like to plow through quickly as well, but I do whatever side stuff I can find at the time, and then go back to do the rest once I've beaten the game.

Anyway, I pop in my fresh copy of FFXII and my entire view on RPGs has changed. I thought I knew what good was. I thought I had an idea on what an excellent RPG entailed. FFXII has now made it clear to me that I am clueless. Picasso has taught me to see again.

Whomever

Odd, because Picasso was the one who caused me to stop looking at art. Strange...

Since the golden age of RPGs was rolling in about 10-12 years ago and my heart was sent a flutter with the likes of Chrono Trigger, FFVI, and Secret of Mana. I have grown to believe that a time like that could never happen again, where a slew of genre changing games could come out and make their presence felt. I believe as I stay glued to my TV navigating the twists and turns of FFXII, it will represent a new golden age (Platinum age?) of the RPG. For so long we all have lushed through what we thought was great: Xeno, DDS, Disgaea, DQVIII, Breath of Fire V to find out that those games were merely good and fun, nothing more.

It's exciting to be here at the beginning again where perhaps Square Enix will develop dangerous and exciting new games that will go down as one of the best times to be an RPG fan, and player.

Whomever

Well, DQVIII and BoFV were great games. DQVIII was an outstanding traditional game, and BoFV was pretty innovative, as well as a ton of fun. I wouldn't just shrug those two off with a "nothing more." ^^. But yes, here's hoping that the trend continues.

…On the other hand…

I fear perhaps I am to optimistic and that those games I mentioned are indeed the tail end of a golden age of RPGs culminating in the release of FFXII. We shall see in the coming years when the copy catters of the gaming world bleed the purest pleasure that is FFXII of all its life, and I hope that with Square Enix's newly RE-found RPG leadership in the gaming universe that we will, perhaps, see more innovation and more creation, rather than stagnation.

Hope I didn't bore you with the ravings of a lunatic but I really like FFXII and had to say something about it.

Thanks for sticking around all these years,
Late,
Thomas in Chicago

Whomever

Hey, I'm a lunatic as well, so you're in good company. Fear not!

But anyaway, while your thoughts are far from insane, the thing is that this feeling is natural, yet wrong! Most people feel that way after playing a great game and then suffering through rather mediocre ones. However, innovation always finds a way to change it all. Back when Mario 3 first rose, many people thought that it was an amazing platformer (well, it is), and that it would take nothing short of a miracle to beat it. But look, now we have games like Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, and even those old Crash Bandicoot games, which all came in and created awesome games that redefined something in the genre. So, I would have no worries, my friend. Eventually something will come along and knock your socks off.

I really like FFXII as well! Thanks for writing in!





S E G U E

I'll post my thoughts about FFXII sometime later this weekend! Don't worry, I won't give away anything :) But for now, as promised...



T H O N G
Combat Log

Luca Phase:
Luca Blight attacks! Tiles 33, 28, and 19 are affected!
Bainick falls to Tile 17!
Slimey falls to Tile 26!
PureLunatic falls to Tile 31!

Movement Phase:
Leaper moves to Tile 28.
Arros Raikou moves to Tile 15.
Draconn moves to Tile 39.
Alan Tse moves to Tile 14.
Slashlen moves to Tile 31.
William.T moves to Tile 27.
Arpijy moves to Tile 26.
Vicissitude moves to Tile 22.
JDX moves to Tile 40.
Aurelius moves to Tile 31.


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

Let's toss in a Final Fantasy XII question, why not?

Answer to #L24: D. Fire
These were the spells from the original Phantasy Star, organized by character. The spell missing from the last person's learnable list was Fire.

#L25.
How many license points does it take to max out the license board (not including Quickenings and Espers) per character?

A. 10,125
B. 5,750
C. 11,240
D. 22,100
E. 17,555
F. 13,180

THONG Question

Answer to #24:E. String of Destiny
The game in question is Threads of Fate, a little Action-RPG created by Square back in its PSX days. The lead characters are Rue (French word for 'street') and Mint (a breath freshener).

#25.Difficulty: Easy, Potch: 250
Which of the following races does not appear in FFXII?

A. Hume
B. Moogle
C. Garif
D. Tarutaru
E. Seeq

C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Well, if you want to talk about FFXII, be my guest, since I know it's on most of your minds! So go ahead and relate to me your experiences...I'll keep you updated on mine, of course. But other than that...hell, this whole month is apparently a Final Fantasy month. We've got V Advance on the horizon, with III DS soon to follow. Can anything stop this monster? Ooh! Idea!

So, in your guys' opinions, what has the Final Fantasy franchise done right? It's been around for almost 20 YEARS (Wow, I feel old all of a sudden), so it must have been doing something. Sure, they're enjoyable games, but what is it about them that makes them so appealing to the masses, pushing them above the competition? I hope to hear from you guys, but...I need to get back to hunting Marks.


ourobolus@rpgamer.com
***Josh is addicted. He admits it. It's not a problem though.


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30. Omm
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