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Allan Milligan

Hey there, RPGamers. I'm back and I'm bad as I've ever been, so break out the radiation suits and wooden clogs.

My thanks go out to AK, for dutifully filling in for me whilst I was away, and Brian G., for co-ordinating things in my annoyingly long absence. For those who were wondering why I didn't update Friday, the story is this: I was originally scheduled to head to my cottage with my family with weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving. I would update as usual on Friday, set up a fill-in guy that night, and post up my Big Surprise, before heading off for my first break since I started the RPGuru job. It was all planned.

I returned home at 4:03 PM Friday afternoon, and was immediately told to get packed, because I was leaving for the cottage in half an hour. Needless to say, I didn't have time to write a column in half an hour. So I tossed off notice that I was gone to Brian, and bolted out the door.

So that's what happened, and another thank-you to AK (even if people love him more than they do me *sniffle*). Break time's over, so let's get it on!

Dramatic License - Parasite Eve Spoilers...

Heyooo. I've noticed a few things that just don't make sense, which mostly happen in Square's games. First, the inconsistancy with raising the dead. This happens alot in Final Fantasy games. Your little party of 3 or so guys gets bashed upon by monsters, gunmen, insanely powerful robots, and sorcerers over and over. Through the course of the game the characters die a couple dozen times, and you use a few phoenix downs or life spells to get em back on their feet. Then, lo and behold, the main bad guy shows up, kills one of the characters, then leaves. and for some mysterious reason, you cant use these things to revive the said character. A key example would be in FF6/3 with General Leo, or in FF7 with Aeris. Yeah, that'd break up the plot a bit, but one would figure they would at least try to make the scenario make sense somehow.

My second complaint happens alot in the game world, but none more repeatedly than in Parasite Eve. I'm talking about how the main characters do really dumb things for no reason which only seem to jeapordize (i never get that word right) their position. Take day 5. Aya's flying a helicopter with enough firepower to level an office building. She blows up a blob the size of the statue of liberty with a single rocket. Eve appears, and Aya jumps out with a handgun, ready to fight Eve. Why didnt she stay in the friggin chopper?! Most helicopters bring more than one rocket to a fight, and I think if one rocket could destroy a giant blob, it could just as easily take out Eve. Throughout the game, she repeatedly runs up to Eve, prepares to fire, but stops to hear Eve's rather poorly-written speech. Why doesnt she just shoot the damn thing? Why did she get in the carriage with Eve (day 2) when she could have fought her on the ground with probably the same results? You get he idea, right? Did the guys at Square forget to stop and wonder if these things ever made any sense? What do you think, Guru?

Allan: Ah, but you're not taking semantics into account. You see, when you get reduced to 0 HP in battle, you fall down and are "swooned" or "wounded" or whatnot, not dead. Why being pelted by a giant meteor only wounds you, where a dagger in the gut kills you, I don't know.

As for the rest, it's pretty much just a matter of dramatic license overpowering logic. Why do James Bond villains always explain their master plans? Why doesn't anyone just shoot Sailor Moon while she's doing her stupid transformation thing? Why are Imperial Stormtroopers totally incapable of hitting the broad side of a barn, despite Obi-Wan saying "only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise?" It's dramatic license. It makes the plot more exciting and dramatic, so it happens. It's that simple.

Looking Through Rose-Coloured Glasses

Have you ever noticed how people put older games on a pedestal? We see this especially in RPGs. Whenever a sequel comes out, it MUST be inferior to the original, because most fans remember the original as perfect. After a time, fans of something forget the bad and just remember the good. In 5 years, probably around the time games like Dragon Quest 9 and Final Fantasy 10 come out, people will be claiming that FF 7 was better than FF 10 due to it's inferior graphics (RPG fans love inferior graphics....I don't know why), stronger character development, and better plot. If there was a Chrono Trigger 2, people would say it's alright, but "Not as good as the original.". This will be said about Zelda 64, Final Fantasy 8, Ogre Battle 3, Dragon Quest 7, etc. No matter how much better a game is, the original will be on the pedestal and not the sequel. Well, that is until the next sequel comes out. Don't you agree?

Allan: I'm in the mood for a good debate, so let's see what everyone else thinks: do we look at past games through rose-coloured glasses? Do we place the classics of our youth on unattainable pedestals? If so, why? If not, why do others get this impression? Go. Expound.

Making RPGs the Easy Way

RPGuru,

Hullo, Allan, and welcome back! I'm going to immediately interupt your return with a few questions:

1) Quite a few months ago, in this column, someone mentioned an RPG making program. It was supposed to have a C programming engine, sprite editing, animation, etc. for making simple games. Do you happen to remember what and where this is? I'd appreciate any help.

2) About a week ago, I was explaining the Final Fantasy sequel-numbering system to my friend, comparing the confusing titles with the Famicom and Super Famicom releases. And then I was reminded that the word "Famicom", or what the Japanese call their 8-bit machine, is actually the English words "Family Computer" put together. I absorb this information and later, I am asked by my little brother what the word "Nintendo" means in Japanese. So, assembling all of my mind together, I know that Famicom is really "Family Computer" in English, so is Nintendo "Family Computer" in Japanese?

Thanks a lot!

Allan: 1) Okay, this was probably in reference to one of two things. First off, there is a series of games called RPG Maker, thus far only in Japan, that allow players to (duh) make their own RPGs. There's a PSX version that ASCII wants to port to the US, but that's still up in the air. In the meantime, there's also VERGE, a PC-based system for making console-style RPGs, and sharing them with others, too. You can find more info about that here.

2) I'm no Japanese linguist, but I do know that Nintendo doesn't mean "family computer" in Japanese. When the name originated, there wasn't such a thing at all: Nintendo started off as a playing card manufacturer, after all. Nintendo is the name of a company, not the product name. In Japan, at least.

Bits and Pieces

Greetings, oh great RPGuru,

1. No one seems to have an opinion about Secret of Mana. I personally think it is the best game ever made for the SNES, (Uh oh, enemies now do I have) (Great scot! Yoda-speak!), just barely beating out FF III and Chrono Trigger. What is your opinion of it.

2. Speaking of Chrono Trigger, any of your readers seeking a copy should investigate thier local Babbage's or Software Etc. where used copies may be found for $20, quite a bit less than one of our favorite internet game stores, not to mention any names. ($55+ at FuncoLand)

3. Beside bridges, many great RPGs also have castles.

4. What is your favorite breakfast cereal?

5. Should I buy Robotrek?

6. Will you kindly ask someone to send me a copy of FF III or Earth Bound?

7. Lastly, was this letter too long?

--Paul Holland, Rogue Magitek Officer

Allan: 1) Secret of Mana, though not perfect, was a whole lot of fun, and notable if only for being one of the few multi-player RPGs. Cool beans. 2) Also check out flea markets for used games. Good deals to be had. 3) Yes, but 7th Saga starts in a castle, and look what happened there... 4) I eat a live squirrel every morning. 5) So long as it's cheap, yes. 6) Sure. Send Paul Holland a copy of FFIII or Earthbound. There ya go. 7) Nah.

FF5 Translation Woes. Again. Sheesh.

Now on to my point. Square has already translated FF5. The game has been scheduled for release at least three times. Once as FF3, once as FF Extreme (both on SNES), and once as FF5 (on PC). The game has never been released. They make no profit this way, either. Yet they annoy their die-hard fans. Since they already aren't making a profit on FF5, why don't they just release the PC version as a freebie? This wouldn't cost them any more money, since they already translated it and just about any magazine would be willing to put it on their CD, and it would be seen as a thank you to all of their loyal fans. What is a lousier (is that even a word? maybe more lousy?) business decision, to translate a game (and later port it to the PC) and never release it, thus making no money or to translate the game and eventually give it away thus making no money, yet pleasing fans who may one day spend their money on a Square product?

-The Bad Guy

Allan: Okay, even assuming that Square does have FF5 translated and ready to go, which is unconfirmed (what's your source to the contrary?), it still doesn't make sense to release the game for free. They could reach the same die-hard customers and a whole lot more if they did a general release for PC with a cut-rate price, and make a substantially larger profit than tossing it onto a game magazine's demo CD.

More likely, still assuming that it's all ready to roll and they're just letting it sit, any number of non-sales reasons could and probably do exist for not releasing it in the US. Like, say, the possibility that the PC version is just plain crap. Or maybe Square itself, heaven forfend, doesn't think FF5 is as wonderful as some people do. Or maybe they want their US presence to be progressive, putting their marketing and production muscle behind new and innovative games, not would-be hits of yesteryear.

The bottom line is that Square, for whatever reasons, simply does not want to put out FF5 in North America. If they really wanted to get FF5 out to the public, there are more effective and profitable ways to do so. But they don't, so they aren't.

Choco-bites

I responce to a letter by The Bag Guy I'd just like to inform you that chocobos taste like chicken, not Cocopuffs. It's very good with French bread and carots (preferable the one you lured the chocobo with). Big Chocobos, on the other hand, taste like turkey but have far too many calories to be worth catching one. Stick with the fat-free white chocobos or the tofu green. The gold ones taste like chicken!


Allan: I think that about says it all.

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: Howard Chan still wants to know if there are console RPGs where you can define your character's face in intricate detail: hair colour and length, eye colour, facial structure and so forth (no RPGs for consoles with that feature; I'd betting there's a few PC RPGs that allow that, but they're really beyond my realm of expertise and the realm of this column). In other news, the Videot threatened my life because I don't like Zelda (just try something, little boy), some nameless guy wants to know if the Yoshitaka Amano of FF and Kartia character design fame also did Vampire Hunter D (yes), the Kevman asks for FF5 help (check out the FF5 Information section), Crissaegrim tells me that, being a Swede, he gets lots of chicks (I'm content taking quality over quantity, myself :), TR wonders what platform FF7 would have been on if the SNES CD had actually appeared (probably a CD-enhanced N64), and Persmerga points out that Meowth is only in Pokémon Blue, contrary to what AK said previously.

My much-touted Friday Surprise is being pushed back six days. Watch for it this Thursday, kids and kittens. Watch for it.

- Allan Milligan, doing the Watusi

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