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Allan Milligan

Pretty quiet day today. Only fifty letters or so - a record low, believe it or not. Not much in the way of major debates, either: a few straggling tidbits about Zeromus and RPG villains in general, one or two about length vs. quality in RPGs, and that's about it.

One thing that I'm going to call attention to today, however, is what's right in front of you: the RPGuru column. Over the past three weeks, I've been subtly tweaking it, trying to aim it towards the types of letters I've been getting. Fewer Q&A-type letters were sent, so I invented the Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits to cover those, which are important, and also to free up the bulk of the column for letters that don't have hard and fast answers. People complained that it was getting too serious and long-winded, so I make it a point to toss in a joke letter or two every day. People complained about spoilers, so I set down the Six Month Rule, letter headings, and big red spoiler warnings during the six months they apply.

For the record, I do not make these changes arbitrarily. Each and every change to the format here is based off of the letters I receive every day. If you really want things changed, write what you want to see. Want more Q&A? Ask some questions. Want more editorial-style debates? Tell us what's annoying you. Want more silly letters? Write one. The only way to direct the flow of a letters column is by writing letters. Simple enough.

Memory Cards and Deadly Bridges

Oh great and wise one who plays many RPGs,

I've got a question about memory cards. This isn't exactly an RPG question, but since most RPGs (at least for PlayStation) involve memory cards, it fits.

I was looking at my oldest memory card, and I noticed the connectors (that you plug in the PS) are kinda dirty, like old NES games used to get. I was wondering, does this affect game play (or data save)? If so, is Sony, or any other company planning to come out with some sort of memory card cleaning kit?

And btw, a little tip: I find Game Boy cases are excellent storage cases for memory cards.

And, on that "Bridges in RPGs" issue: Bridges are the tools of the devil! Remember the old RPG "Dragon Warrior?" Bridges signified that you were entering an area with more dangerous enemies. Sometimes you even had to go through an underwater bridge. Finally, you had to create your own bridge! Verily I say unto you, steer ye away from the wickedness of bridges.

That's all for now! I love your column!

Sincerely,

Robert Silvers

Allan: Storing memory cards in Game Boy cases... that's a very good idea. In the event I afford more memory cards, I'll probably do that. Good call. In any case, minor dirt and dust build-up inside the memory cards probably looks worse than it is, but if you're truly concerned about it, there's information on cleaning dirty NESes and games at tsr's NES archive (exceptionally cool site, by the by) which can probably be applied to the memory cards as well.

Ooh... I'd forgotten about those nasty Dragon Warrior bridges. Yeah, those sucked. But generally speaking, a bridge was a sign of a great RPG... was, he said in the past tense...

Beyond the Beyond and Computer RPGs - Again

Beyond the Beyond has some pretty nice bridges and it wasn't that great. In fact, I think the bridges were the best part of that game, if you played it long enough to get to one of them. And why doesn't RPGamer cover 'The Magic Candle', 'Knights of Legend', 'Curse of the Azure Bonds', 'Champions of Krynn', 'Pools of Radiance', 'Neuromancer', 'Wasteland'. Come on, you'll never find an RPG cooler than Wasteland or Neuromancer, though 'Dungeon Master' was cool too.

Jeff Carney

Allan: For the first part, all I can do is sigh. Oh, how the mighty RPG bridges have fallen.

As for the second, we don't cover any of those games because they are computer RPGs. We cover, with precious few exceptions, platform RPGs exclusively. Regardless of their relative coolness, they're just not our jurisdiction.

Pokémon Rainbow

More rare monster. Enough said. You see you can get some of the monster in the blue version then in the red version, and it's the only version that contain the pokemon, Meowth, who in the anime version is the one of the many rare Pokemon, Team Rocket. I hope this will answer the guestion of MikeG31z.

Sign

Dr Thinker

Allan: Ah... interesting. Others wrote in to suggest that P-Red was a tougher game than P-Blue, and so the Blue version played into the younger target audience better, or that blue was a more popular colour than red for deep psychological reasons, or that Blue matched their outfits better. The above letter, though, sounds the most plausible. Thank ye, Doc.

Information Packets

Allan: A few people asked for basic information on two subjects, so here's a very brief, spoiler-free intro to both:

Pokémon is a Gameboy RPG, recently released by Nintendo in America. It already has a successful anime series in Japan and now in the US, has sold extremely well, etc. The gameplay is sort of like Monster Rancher crossed with Earthbound: essentially, you find and raise little monsters, called Pokémon, having them fight for you, and so on. There are a grand total of 150 Pokémon to find in total, some only accessible by trading between the two versions of the game, Blue and Red, via Gameboy Link.

Ghaleon is a key antagonist in the Lunar series. Going into much detail is difficult without spoiling the games themselves, but suffice to say that he's a very, very cool character with a superb voice actor (Jon Truitt), and easily one of, if not the, best villains in all of RPGdom.

Sci-Fi games and what is an RPG, anyway?

1) Shouldn't Square rename the Final Fantasy series Final Sci-Fi since that seems to be the direction they are headed?

2) Why is Zelda considered an RPG, whereas similar games like Mega Man Neo/Nova/Legends/whatever aren't? (Note: I don't mean games like Hexen)

3) Now that Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver has been revealed to be more of a Tomb Raider type game will it still be considered an RPG?

4) Who would win in a fight, Rosebud or Rudolph?

5) Why doesn't Square just let one of the gaming mags put the PC version of FF5 on one of their discs?

6) You've been debating on the best/worst villain of the FF series (I vote for Kefka, by the way), but who's the best hero? The worst?

7) Does Chocobo taste like chicken or Co-Co Puffs?

- The Bad Guy

Allan: 1) The technology used in the Final Fantasy games is still very, very fantasy-ish in style. Moreover, while you can have tech in fantasy, science fiction doesn't exactly gel with the idea of people tossing Bolt spells at one another, much less summoning giant dragons to pelt each other with flame. In short? Final Fantasy is still fantasy. It's just a fantasy with fantastical technology in it.

2) Apparently, we're considering coverage of Mega Man Legends here at RPGamer now. Why are some games considered RPGs and others aren't? I don't know. Personal whim, really.

3) It's looking like it'll be classified as an Adventure game now, but the lines between Action/RPGs and Adventure games are so thin that it's futile to argue concisely either way. My approach to the situation is this: what does the developer say? Konami said Azure Dreams is a "grand role-playing epic", so I call it an RPG. Simple as that. We could debate for hours about whether Zelda is an RPG or not, or whatever, but it's sort of pointless. I'd just as soon take it on Nintendo's word.

4) Rosebud, man. He's a Reindeer Wrestler, man. Of course, the question is whether Rudolph's blood will glow when it pours out of his broken nose...

5) Because it would be really, really stupid to do so. They would make little or no profit that way, and surprise surprise, that's kinda important to them. It'd be cool to get a full RPG on a disc packaged with a magazine (imagine the sales for that issue), but it'd be a lousy business decision.

6) Best hero? He's not terribly heroic, but dammit, I always liked Kain. The worst is undoubtedly Umaro, O He Of No Personality. U'ghaaaaa indeed.

7) I wouldn't know. I'm a vegetarian.

Full of Koopa

(Note: the following letter contains minor profanity. Viewer discretion is advised)

Hiya mr "I-can-post-more-than-once-a-week-and-it-doesn't-seem-to-hurt",

Ok, not really a question but a remark. It's been bothering me a while, but no one seems to care. Not on this forum that is. Since that post 'bout Koopa.

Do you realize that "Koopa" is the exact pronounciation of the word "shit" in Polish?

Nah, you probably did not. But now you do.

And you can bet on this one. I am Polish.

Allan: Y'know, this has virtually nothing to do with RPGs, but it's such a strange and interesting little tidbit, I couldn't resist.

The RPG Industry Lives!

Greetings, Guru of RPGs. Now, please answer me these questions/comments three...

1) You mentioned a few days ago that you were instituting a six-months-after- release deadline for unannounced spoilers of newer games; a good idea. Now, since not everyone keeps track of exactly when everything was released, do you think you could put a notice or something when a game is about six months old? Just an announcement at the top of the column for a day or two saying "BoFIII's spoiler time has expired" or whatever.

2) Is RPGamer going to review old games, or just the new releases?

3) In response to a question about CT's plot in today's column, Rosebud responded with something along the lines of "Just repeat to yourself 'It's just a game, I should really just relax.'"

Cute answer (and in the case of CT, trying to explain all the time stuff would just give everyone a headache), but it got me thinking. I think RPG plot- writers should be responsible for making their plots make sense. You can't just throw a cool idea into the story for no adequately-explained reason. The plot has to make sense; it's hard (at least for me) to get involved in a story with more holes than an industrial-sized case of swiss cheese. And after all, twenty years from now, do we really want games like CT to be remembered only as the subjects of games about wise-cracking silouetted guys and robots?

-"Toma Levine"

Allan: 1) Sure, why not? It'll probably be a nuisance, six months after the Christmas season, but I'll just have to deal, neh? :)

2) Just new releases (though some, like Azure Dreams, are taking longer than expected). If we ever complete *coverage* of all the old games (HA!), we might reconsider, but for now, it's new releases only. You could always post reviews to the RPGamer Message Boards, of course.

3) Granted, it's preferable to have no plot holes in a game. But some games, mainly older ones, tend to suffer worse than others because of poor translations and yes, even lack of memory on the cart. Chrono Trigger had a mediocre translation, had elements of the plot hacked or dummied out to save space, and was a time travel story to boot, which makes trying to figure out all the plot holes pretty well impossible. In that instance, I'd advocate not thinking too hard about it.

But yes, I think we can all agree that the fewer plot holes, the happier we are.

Angels sing thee to thy rest

(FF series final boss spoilers ahoy)

Well... at least Golbez was cool. (sigh).

Anyway, I'd have to give my vote to the Zodiac Braves as far as "eeeevillll" villains in an RPG go, although I think we all got the most pleasure out of killing Algus, the annoying twerp.

That said, why is it just about every Final Fantasy (and probably a few other Square games) have angel-like being as the final enemy? I mean, you have to go clear back to FF4 to find a non-angel boss. FF5 - Exdeath's final form includes an angel-like thing. FF6 - Kefka decides to impersonate an angel. FF7 - Safer/Savior Sephoroth. FFT - Altima.

Heck, SaGa Frontier even has a Hell area that looks like Heaven... what IS is with Square?

- Damien Wellman

Allan: Golbez was indeed cool. As for the angel imagery of Square games, I guess they just like the look and significance of fighting a well-known and visually distinctive religious image. It's an allusion to fallen angels (such as Lucifer), naturally, and they just seem to be overusing it a tad.

Followup to History RPGs

A few letters mentioned that Koei has a long tradition of doing historically-based games of all genres, though mostly strategy games. For pure RPG action in feudal Japan, check out Inindo (SNES), though. Otherwise, if history's your thing, look at any Koei title they've ever made. Seriously. Even their fighting games is historically accurate.

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: Banpei wonders why FF Tactics isn't part of the FF series proper (radical departure of visual and gameplay style, plus the opportunity to start a *new* franchise of games - still, most FF fans I know consider it part of the series, and some claim it as their favourite), Antichron asks if there will be an FF7 Piano Collection (strangely enough, there's been no announcement of one), Adolf asks why Brave Fencer Mushashi is called that (it's about a brave fencer named Mushashi), and whether anyone is buying it for something besides the FFVIII Demo (I'm planning to, being a fan of action/RPGs and not a fan of the Zelda series), the Champion of Justice asks is there's going to be a MST3K RPG (probably not - they're going to rerelease a MSTed version of Virtual Hylide, though (kidding)), Edge X asks where the Lunar SSS intro can be found (at WD's website or here at RPGamer), Adam-San asks if Seiken Densetsu 3 is waaaaaay better than SD2 ( the graphics, sound, characterization and plot is better, but the gameplay suffered), someone asked if General Leo can be revived in FF6 (no, not in any version), and Howard asks if there are any single-player RPGs where you can select your character's face portrait (not many, though it's an option in at least one of the Super Robot Wars strategy/RPG games in Japan - and others?).

All right, kiddies, an early update tomorrow, and then I'm off for my first break. It's going to be a doozy, so don't miss it!

- Allan Milligan

"And by the time you remembered, you were pinned - by the world's mightiest refridgerator magnet."

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