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Not a whole lot to report on today. I'm toiling away at FFTactics (current
at Chapter 3), recovering from my illness, and doin' the daily update thang.
I'd also like to applaud every letter I received today, as every one of
them was properly capitalized. I appreciate it greatly - it makes things
a lot easier to read.
Anyhow, no major topics of conflict today, and there are only two addendums
to last night's column. First off, I've been sent confirmation and (in one
case) a pic from Ehrgeiz for PSX, showing that Cloud, Tifa, Yuffie, Vincent
and best of all, Sephiroth (woo!) are playable characters in it. An FF fighting
game? Not quite, but it'll certainly do. :)
Secondly, in a brain harf moment, I left part of the Q&DT section
blank, answering the question "What is Kefka's last name?" His
name is Kefka Palazzo. Spelling varies, as is the norm with Japanese-English
translations, but that's the name.
Q: After listening to the main theme of Final Fantasy VIII, I
think that it's safe to say that Hans Zimmer (composer of the soundtrack
to the films "Crimson Tide," "The Rock," and others)
could file a lawsuit against composer Nobuo Uematsu.
If anyone has ever listened to both the main theme of Final Fantasy VIII
and the soundtrack to "The Rock," I think it's safe to say that
there are some startling similarities. For one, the sequence of notes in
the themes are identical, and the actual notes themselves are almost the
same. Not only that, the tempo is exactly the same as well. This is not
coincidence, people. I know that some of you are going to pan it off as
such, but if you do, then you obviously haven't compared the music.
This turn of events does not surprise me, considering that much of the
music in Final Fantasy VII was hauntingly similar to Danny Elfman's "Batman"
soundtrack. But I digress. Congratulations, Mr. Uematsu. Now, whenever
I hear the main theme to Final Fantasy VIII, all I'll be able to think about
is Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery fighting their way through Alcatraz.
What do you think? Please don't try to pass it off as coincidence...
Allan: A-HA! I knew I wasn't totally crazy when I saw the FF8
demo and kept on thinking of Crimson Tide instead. You're right, they're
undeniably similar, no question. So what's going on? I have no idea.
Has Uematsu swiped, and if so, should he be sued for it? I'm no lawyer,
so I'll hold off on judgement, but they're waaaay too similar for it to
be coincidence, IMO.
Q: A lot of people want RPG maker to come to the US and I used
to be one of them, that was until I thought about it. Not only is it hard
to make a good game (sure we all have ideas but would they be fun other
people?), also its not like you can swap with people all over the place,
just your friends unless you have a card that connects the PC to the game
shark or whatever. And also TEXT! Think how long it takes to type in your
name on a high score board, realize you aren't typing with a keyboard or
anything, you will be punching in ALL DIALOGUE LETTER BY LETTER. And that's
in caps so it must be important.
Allan: It hadn't really occurred to me, actually. But yes, that could
be annoying. Has anyone reading this imported the game from Japan, and if
so, how annoying is the lack of keyboard input? I imagine really dedicated
types are the target audience here, who are willing to spend umpty million
years typing things out letter by letter, but I don't think I'm one of them.
Gack. My kingdom for a Playstation keyboard...
Q: Okay, My questions are
1) Is RPGamer covering Pokémon?
2) If they are, will there be a fan art section? (please say yes!)
3) Would they consider covering the Pokémon cartoon? (such as
episode guides, and sounds from the show)
4) And could they make a spot for Pokémon in the Message Boards
Thanks for your time! (And Allan, you're doing a great job! Keep up the
good work, and your health.)
Allan: All right, all at once: RPGamer is, and will continue to
cover Pokémon. If people submit fan art for it, I can only imagine
it'd be put up. We will not, however, be covering the cartoon: time we'd
spend on that could be better applied expanding our RPG coverage, and hey,
there's no shortage of Pokémon fans out there to do cartoon-centric
pages anyway. And lastly, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a Pokémon
board up, given how many threads it makes for in the Miscellaneous board
right now, but that's not my department. In short, if there's something
about the game Pokémon you want to know, we're gonna cover it. Fear
Q: There has been a lot of discussion lately about a games for
the SNES called Terrangima, which is very similiar to Illusion of Gaia
and Soulblazer. I was wondering if this game is also called "Creation
of Heaven and Earth", or if that is an alternate name for the game.
Also, can the US SNES play European games, or not?
- Robindra N. Deb
Allan: Terranigma is also known as Tenchi Sozo in Japan, or Creation
of Heaven and Earth. It was, at one point, going to be released in the US
by Nintendo of America as simply "Creation", according to an old
EGM, but those plans were clearly scrapped. As for a US SNES playing European
games... hrm. You see, European televisions use a different resolution set
than US and Japanese ones: European ones use PAL. (I'm not all that clear
on tech stuff, so people, feel free to explain the exact differences between
the two standards.) In any case, I don't believe you can play European games
on a US system without some sort of adaptor, but I haven't any idea where
to get my hands on one. I'll probably know by tomorrow, so hold tight 'til
Q: (Watch out, Shining series spoilers)
In addition to Magnus Pihl's comments in the last letter's coloum, There's
some continuity between Shining Force 2 and Shining Wisdom, in that characters
(Sarah and Kazin) from SF2 turn up in Shining Wisdom at the end of the game.
Also, Shining Force 3 happens ten years after Shining the Holy Ark, and
features some recurring characters (I've only played part one, but I know
Galm turns up, and I suspect some chars from STHA will turn up when you
get to the village where the Innovator lived...) I also *think* Justin is
the boy who asks you to look for his father at Aborigine Mansion in STHA,
although I haven't played part 3 yet so I can't be sure...
Oh, and the final boss in SF1 was Dark Dragon.
Allan: This, this is what I get for being a close-minded Nintendo
4-ever idiot for too many years of my life. I, foolishly, didn't get into
Sega systems at all until Working Designs started developing for the Sega
CD. Sad, yes, but true. So now I'm playing catch-up on all these old, cool
games, like the Shining games, Phantasy Star, and so on. 'Course, there's
worse kinds of work to catch up on, hmm? :) Thanks for the added info, Scotty.
Q: RPGs definitely need to be more difficult. I think that enemies
need to be tougher, but not in the sense that you need to level-up constantly
to beat them. For once, you should actually need to use all the 'effect'
magic like barrier, haste, slow, life 3, etc. Bosses should be able to
hit for at least half your max HP and inflict more status ailments. Also,
attack strengths of the characters need to be lowered a lot (Knights of
the Round makes for a REALLY fun and challenging game, doesn't it?). There's
nothing more to it than that. FF5 had the perfect difficulty level.
Allan: Y'know, a lot of people tell me that FF5 was a challenging
game, and I just didn't see it. I played the game without a walkthrough,
without knowing Japanese, and never had much trouble with any of it. I mean,
it was cool and all, and there were some tough fights, but I didn't find
it much harder than FF6 on my first time through. What, might I ask, made
FF5 challenging for people? What were the tough spots?
Q: As for challenge.... A lot of people had gotten into debates
about the use of puzzles in RPGs to increase challenge, and more have gotten
into arguments on level-building as an importance... And yet a few have
even mentioned the strategy aspect. They're all important and usefull when
you use them right. And while not all are necessary, it is dependant on
what you want out of the game. There are several type, and none are better
or worse for excelling in one type over another. In fact if every game
were a challenge in every aspect, it'd become a turn-off for the game, because
people who enjoy one type will have to suffer through the others.
As for the types that are really abundant, the first and most classic
would be the story-driven RPGs. People don't buy them because they're looking
to stay up all night on greuling battles, or they actually enjoy outlasting
the timer on their game. They buy them because of the brilliant plots (so
long translations don't butcher them ;), the beautiful scores, and the close
interaction with the characters. Now, admittedly, it can be a turn-off
if they're too easy... So they have at least decently challenging bosses,
and enemies just enough or a bit less so that you keep up at a regular level
if you don't run away. And this works. It doesn't scare off people who
don't like the monotony of running around for hours, but hopefully isn't
so easy people get disgusted with them and sell them to pawn shops. Most
of the Final Fantasy series belong in this category. And the sad part is
that these are the gaems most people complain about being too easy. You
don't buy these games for challenge. They have other aspects to redeem
themselves. Now I am disappointed that they be "watered down"
or "dummied" so that the battles are less of a challenge, such
as the infamous mangled work of FFIV. What would be a great game in many
respects now serves as an icon of bad translations and censorship and NA
dummying for all other games.
The next kind of challenge would belong to the Puzzle RPG. These are
made to have puzzles. That's their purpose. You don't buy one because
you liked FFVI. You buy them because you don't like your hair in it's place.
You buy them because your house is a delivery stop for Jolt Cola. You
buy them because you don't have anything better to do and you don't want
one, dammit! You NEED your fixation, and if they don't give you challenging
enough puzzles, you're dissapointed. Now of course these games need plot,
but when you think about the driving factor for the fun of the game, plot's
only second-priority. You could care less why you have to retrive this
golden idol from the trap-filled ancient temple... all that really matters
is that you need it... and need to survive the puzzles. It's almost as
futile as debating the plot in Mortal Kombat. It's just not why those games
exist. If you like these types of games, however, chances are you like games
like FF series, and you like games like oh... Lemmings, or 11th hour. So
it's a nice cross between puzzle games and RPGs. Just don't confuse what's
And a third oft-overlooked kind are the strategy-based ones. Final Fantasy
Tactics seems to be the definitive game for this one, although they've been
around a lot longer. Like Puzzle games, the plot's not quite as important
n these games as compared to the story-based ones, but it doesn't matter
because they have a redeeming factor. It's the challenge of combining what
you have and trying various tactics for achieving your goal. It's more
intensive on the stratgy parts than the plot, of course! This showing a
perfect reasoning why battles in FFT could last well over two hours, but
the plot scenes are only a couple of minutes and far inbetween. The people
who like these are the same people who would like games such as Risk and
And a final more recent type, possible with the leapthroughs in FMV technology,
would be Cinematic RPGs, which are like watered down story-based RPG, only
with less challenge expected, and more of a linear point-and-click movie.
Parasite Eve is a perfect example, and FF7 was to a much much less extent.
You'll see games that aren't as dependant putting little or no emphasis
on FMV, because that's not what's important to them.
When you get right down to it, people just aren't happy. They always
have something to complain about. They expect more plot from Strategy games,
and want more character development from puzzle RPGs, but still complain
about how short cinematic RPGs are, and want more of a "challenge"
from 'standard' RPGs. They never seem to be satisfied with the goodpoints
a game does have, and want some mystical GOD RPG that has everything, and
yet isn't too tough. The only problem is that people's tastes differ, and
while some people found one RPG the most evil game in existance, others
blow right through it. But mostly some people are better at other things
than others. Some people can sit and build up to level 60 and use Meteo
on everything once they get Rydia in their party. Others can't stand that
but still just breeze through Alundra and want more...
Of course, if you have a very flat game, the negative aspects will distract
from a game, so a good mix, especially with the universal LEVEL BUILDING
existant in almost every game, being the definitive RPG trait. Having a
challenge that fits the target audience, and being appropriate with the
other aspects of "challenge" the game posess is important.
Be content with what you have. If you liked Final Fantasy 7, but hated
Mystic Quest because it "Had no plot", then don't buy Saga Fronteir.
Get a game more like what you enjoy. And if you're gifted enough to enjoy
a wide variety of games, don't waste it. Don't quibble on other games for
their faults, look at the merits they have. Also, there are a lot of new
and unusual RPGs out there, some which are very innovative and fun. Don't
be afraid to try a game because it's different, but don't scorn it because
it's not your cup o' tea. Someone out there must like it. If you dislike
a game so much, why put the effort forth on it to actively hate it?
That's my ¥2 on the whole stupid debate on challenge and why such
and such game sucks or not. I'm very impartial about some games, and have
taken up a position to try to not hate any. For example, you can read my
editorial on Secret of Evermore.
Allan: On one hand, your points are well-taken. On the other, I think
it's reasonable to voice complaints about games. We're never going to see
a "perfect RPG", but discussing and identifying what we, as gamers,
like or don't like in existing games gives us information in two ways. First
off, we can inform developers (in theory, at least) what we'd like to see
in future products. Secondly, it gives us foreknowledge of why we like or
dislike some aspect of a certain type of game, so we can choose games we're
more likely to enjoy. For example, I've really enjoyed the recent surge
of less traditional RPGs, with more a more modern, technological or horrific
bent. Ergo, I'm pretty sure I'm going to love Parasite Eve, if I ever play
it. Likewise, if I hear about a game described as being as challenging as
7th Saga, I'm going to stay the hell away. An informed customer is a satisfied
customer, and there's no more direct source of information than an open
So long as things stay relatively mature and light-hearted, I think these
sorts of discussions are valuable. Easier said than done, of course. But
most of us try.
Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: Bikke asks why Bill Gates doesn't hire
a mad scientist to put bugs in Mako energy (because smart people don't go
near Billy boy) and whether the Star Ocean title is the Star Trek: TNG title
font (sure looks like it - when I typed out Star Ocean in that font, that's
exactly how it looked), James Willis asks what a PDA is (Personal Digital
Assistant, a upcoming add-on for the PSX that's inserted in the memory card
slot, and allows manipulation of game data outside of the Playstation via
a small LCD display), Zach reminds us that there's going to be Chocobo Racing
for PSX in the near future (FF driving game, check...), Ben Boswell asks
where the results of the Azure Dreams contest held a little while ago are
found (if you weren't contacted by now, I'm afraid you didn't win), Mr.
Saturn asks about the last names of FF4 characters (see the FF4 Character Statistics file, here at RPGamer), and
Mary asks why Enix of America shut down (bad sales and public response to
their last few games for SNES, like 7th Saga, Brainlord and Robotrek prompted
them to pull out of North America, just before their games got *really*
good again, ironically).
Not much else to say. Ta ta.
- Allan Milligan, singing Alegria