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Joshua Reid

Wow, I'm surprised--people actually enjoyed the Cecil interview. I received an overwhelming 10:1 letter ratio in wholehearted support of a future installment in the "Interview" series. I'll probably carry one once a week, depending on the characters' schedules, of course. They sure are busy. I'm not sure I'll be able to get Squall in here until next year at the earliest. Some characters are a little too easy to sign on--I've been getting calls all day from the entire FFIII cast, Relm, Strago, the Earthbound crew, and a horde of other practically forgottens. Next week--because of the inspiration from a few creative letter writers (thank you all)--Crono will be at the mercy of my probing journalism! Keep reading, it only gets better from here--can't get any worse. :)

I promised you readers something yesterday--no Crabbits. Many kind readers have expressed their wishes--very politely I must add (You [bleep]ing Dork! Will you stop [bleep]ing [bleep] [bleep] those [bleep]ing Crabbits!)--to discontinue my tirade against Crabbitkind. I am at your mercy; I am your willing servant. Your castigation has pointed out the error of my ways. The treacherous animals have subtly worked their malignant magic on this page as well--my virtuous attacks against them have devolved into an obsession, thus annoying you to no end, thus I--their most anithetical fan--have become an agent for their work. For that, I apologize, and thank you most exorbitantly for your gentle scoldings.

If I may expound--I only wished to inform you, to enlighten you about this Evil Among Us. I also wanted a motif, a thread linking my entire history here at RPGamer together, just like Cid, the Masamune, etc. link the Final Fantasy series together. I began with Crabbits; I wish to end with Crabbits.

But, for today, I dub this page 100% Crabbit-Free. You will see no Crabbit; hear no Crabbit. I will not post a Crabbit-infested letter, I will not draw a Crabbit into my ramblings, no, they shall stay in the dark pits of my Id, where they belong.

Let's answer some letters.

Oh No! Relm Spoilers!

A theory. If Shadow is really Relm's father, wouldn't she actually have part of his genetic code? And if this was true, then wouldn't he pass some of his traits onto her? Things like, say, height, weight, even disposition? One trait, however, that is not passed, obviously, is coolness. Shadow is very cool, and Relm is very pathetic. This means that all the people in my school who say I'm a geek and a nerd just because every other word out of my mouth has to do with RPGs, are in fact not naturally cool, as they believe themselves to be, but are merely hiding behind weak screens of ill-thought out logic stating their coolness. Since I discovered this, I say that people like you, me, and anybody else like the readers of RPGuru are the cool ones.

I'll just have to explain this to them while they take my lunch money.

Ah, well. I savor the small victories.

-Zaphod42

Joshua: I used to always tell myself that the big bullies in my high school who scored all the touchdowns and dated all the pretty girls would be cleaning toilets at the Super Corporation I owned when we grew older. Every day in my fantasy future, I would tip my hat at their debilitated frames and say, "Good day. You missed a spot." Ha-ha! Too bad I'm an English major, huh.

Hey, Zaphod, I'm going to ask Relm the same question in her interview, which will take place probably two weeks from now.

Second Look at Zelda 64

At first I was forced to agree with your quick assumption of Zelda 64. I thought that the new Zelda would just be another Mario 64, all graphics, no substance. Then I thought different. In my opinion, ever since the SNES translation of the game, Zelda has always been in a genre of its own. One of my favorite things about the game is how even thought the characters have little or no personality, the items do. Every item has a story behind it. They aren't just power-ups ether. You have to go on a quest to find most of them and this adds to the games epic quality. I think that if Zelda 64 keeps this quality and depth to it, and brings it to us with it's excellent graphics, it will be a great game.

-From the mind of James the Wise

Joshua: My apologies for yesterday's brief dismissal of this year's "biggest blockbuster." I meant to come across as neutral. I compared Zelda 64 to Mario 64 because of the outstanding graphics. Nothing else has impressed me--yet. I'm not going to let the hype influence my decision--movies like Godzilla, and games--to a lesser extent--like Parasite Eve (before you sick the dogs on me: I liked the game, but it wasn't as good as I'd expected from all the raving from magazines and ads) have proved to me that the hype tells you absolute didly about a game; the best critic for the next "greatest video game ever" is yourself.

Final Fantasy Fomulas

In response to something you wrote today about Square being innovative with Final Fantasy - how do you explain the fact that almost the same skills or spells in almost every game? Fire through Fire 3, Ice through Ice 3, Bahamut, Odin, etc. I think they need to show a little innovation there more than in the overall battle system! What's your opinion on this?

By the way - a couple days before the last RPGuru resigned, he mentioned in the 'Quick 'n' Dirty Tidbits' section both my name (the Josh who requested, and the next day sent in, the Lodoss War RPG information) and another Josh. Was that you?

- Josh

Joshua: These spells, just like Cid, Masamune, the crystals, Ragnorok, etc. help thread the Final Fantasies together--otherwise they would be floating around with absolutely NOTHING to do with one another. I think the most Herculean piece of scholarship a person could attempt with this series--if possible (Andrew Vestal, you are our only hope)--is to find a definitive linearity between plots (not just parallelisms). If the games aren't serial stories, then how can they be grouped together? For publicity? Maybe. Because the composers, designers, and producers are the same for each game? Maybe. Regardless of the reason, I think elements that appear in each game like these spells justify the next final Fantasy as a legitimate sequel. The presence of Ultima helps you feel, despite all the vast changes in graphics and battle design, that you are in a Final Fantasy. Would it be Final Fantasy without the Cid stamp? Would it be a Joshua Reid column without a--DO'H! almost mentioned the critters.

Andrew Vestal, in case you don't know him, is a young student at Stanford who knows entirely too much about the Final Fantasy series. All RPGscholars must check out his "History of Final Fantasies" at Videogames.com.

Yes, the other "Josh" was me. Actually it wasn't, I'm just joshin you, har har ( how many times, dear name-sharer, have you heard that joke? And every time they act like you haven't ever heard it before, like they just came up with something so original. But we Joshes know better).

Here's an ultimate example of contradiction--can you name this tune? "I'm you're only friend, I'm not your only friend, but I'm a little glowing friend, but really I'm not actually your friend but I am"

The Ultimate Question--Next to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Have you found this too? In Xenogears, whenever you hear that certain "dungeon" music or anything that hints at "dungeon time!", do you just want to scream? Xenogears rocks, but those dungeon parts SUCK! Especially when you don't know where to go at first and there are plenty of annoying enemies. Normally in an RPG, this would be accepted, but with the darn jump feature, you can fall off and have to do it all over. Xenogears is one of the best RPGs I've played, but sometimes I just want to bash the freakin' T.V. in.

Not just in XG, but all RPGs. What is the point of those stupid "dungeons"? To build levels? Especially in Xenogears or FFVII where the story is so cool you just want to learn more, not fight the same guys over & over.

[due to C content, the P.S. was removed]

-Jon A.

Joshua: Why are we here? What is reality? Who is God? Why do RPGs have dungeon crawls? What purpose do they serve? Why do designers place those annoying pointless puzzles that do not further the plot in the least, but further your frustration instead? Jon, you have just added another unanswerable question to a heap of unfathomables that will burden you until the rest of your days until you free yourself with this wonderful counter question: Why ask Why? No, I'm not talking about a beer, ladies and gentlemen, I'm saying: That's just the way it is, some things will never change (can you name that tune too, music buffs?).

But if I HAD to come up with some kind of an answer, I'd say, like you pointed out Jon, that leveling up is part of it, and that the dungeon, since D&D and Dragon Warrior, is a traditional emblem of adventure, questing, and complete bewilderment--essential foundations for all pure-blood RPGs.

JOSH'S RPG DESIGN POINTER: Here's one way to alleviate monotony in dungeons--instead of making it just goal orientated (Get to the end, fight the boss, earn the plot) intertwine the dungeon with the plot. Intersperse story hooks, side quests, slight revelations to build up to a climax, and other bewitching strategies within the dungeon to spice things up, and keep the player on their toes. If the player feels like a dungeon is just a place he needs to trudge through to get from Plot Point A to Plot Point B, then the crawl becomes a drawl.

Xenogears Spoiler. If you don't like dungeons, you'll love the second disc.

Don't play Heart of Darkness.

Simply Gratuitous

I've been reading RPGamer's letters section for many months now, and I just have to say that you are the best letter-answer guy yet. That interview with Cecil was great! I thought it was imaginative and downright hilarious. I certainly would have no objections to future installments of the RPG interview series, and no matter who you decide to talk with next, it will no doubt be entertaining (no pressure now). Anyway, keep up the fantastic work, it's a pleasure to read your column everyday. Thanks.

-Roogna1

Joshua: Roogna, your check is in the mail.

The Namingway

I have been wondering for some time why RPG characters have last names, yet they are never referred to within the game. For instance all the odd names from FFIV, which I have never seen Square use. Are they net culture? I mean come on, Cecil Harvey?? Of course, there are plenty of other examples - FFVII's Cloud Strife is always just "Cloud," and Aeris is, at most, "Ms. Aeris." If the last names are mentioned it's at the ends of the games, as in Breath of Fire II or FFVI.

It makes our RPGs less like a movie, much more like a play in this sense. Everyone is last ("Palmer") or first ("Ryu").

And of course, I'm curious if they'll use their last names at all in FFVIII.

Just figured you might know if you and "Mr. Harvey" are still on speaking terms...

-Keith Jeffrey Cald

Joshua: Three reasons why characters have last names:

1. Realism. We have last names.

2. They can sound really cool, e.g. Dakkon Blackblade, Zaphod Beeblebrox (I bet I spelled that wrong).

3. They can give hints about disposition, mission, e.g. Tifa "Lockheart," she locks her heart away, and can't directly admit her feelings for Cloud.

Three reasons why we don't see RPG last names:

1. They get cut on the port over.

2. They can get lengthy.

3. They can get stupid. Harvey. That's all I have to say. I keep thinking of a six-foot imaginary bunny rabbit when I see that.

"Mr. Harvey" (hehehe, hear that Mr. Whipped?) has not responded to my latest e-mail or phone calls. I think I damaged his pride irrevocably.

Questions

1) Pink Floyd isn't the only band out there, what about the Center for Metallica, Megadeth, Tool, and Korn (CMMTK) or the Union of Creed, Days of the New, and Monster Magnet (UCDNMM)?  

2) How come RPGamer doesn't cover Fallout or Diablo or their sequels?  

3) Do you like Dragon Ball Z?

Joshua:

1) You are right. Pink Floyd isn't the only band out there, but they are the best band out there, no?

2) Because RPGamer focuses mostly on console games. I tell you what. If I get some time this Turkey break, I'll try to get some information on those games up. Waddya say? Am I cool or what? On second thought, don't answer that.

3) I fear rabid Anime fans. No comment.

Legaia, Legaia, wherefore out thou?

Gotta quick question for you, o Wise One. A while back I heard something about a game called Legend of Legaia, or Legaia for short. It seemed to be a nice action-RPG and had sort of a Wild ARMs-ish look to it. Ever heard of it? I'm pretty darn sure it's for the PSX; in fact, it may even be out in Japan right now. Will you guys be getting screen shots or info of any sort?

-Kate Sith

Joshua: Last I heard, this game was supposed to appear this Fall in Japan, so it should be out there. I'm not sure if we're going to cover it, but until then, go here for some great screen shots, provided by Playstation Gamer. The game is developed and published by Sony, so let's hope they do better (can the do worse?) than Beyond the Beyond. So far, it looks great.

Squaresoft Subsidiary?

That baseball games ["Scattered Thoughts," Blatant Silliness, Nov. 10 RPGuru] was made by a sub developer of Squaresoft called either aques or quest. They are a part of square that makes sports games. they have also made a horse racing game (I'm sure of this it has betting and the like) and a casino game (I'm not sure though). I know they have made many different sport games under that title. and they have never ever made a RPG under it.

-SpruillC

Joshua: Heck, you learn something new every day.

Relationship Factor Revealed

1. If you had a choice, in which RPG world would you prefer to live in? My personal favorite would be the FFIV world. I mean, the ending is so peaceful, I would be certain nothing bad would ever happen to me... Unlike FFVI, for example...

2. What do you look for in an RPG FIRST? The characters, the storyline, the music or the graphics? I personally look at the characters before anything else. The storyline comes in second, then the music and the graphics. I don't really care for the graphics, in fact, as long as the rest is good...

3. How do I join the CAC??

4. What's your favorite Anime series? Just want to know. You also mentioned Quicksilver in your Cecil interview. Do you read comics too??

-Cloud

Joshua: How's this for answers:

1. Yeah, FFIV was very safe to live in, if you don't count Tellah, Anna, Edge's parents, the possessed king, and the millions of lives the Babel monster must of claimed.

Right now, I would want to be in Tales of Destiny's world, because even goofy looking, air-headed farmer boys get all the women.

2. Truthfully? Oh boy. I look for relationships. This is my main quirk with RPGs--a touching, obvious relationship between man and woman must be evident in a game to elicit the most enjoyment for me. Tales of Destiny (Stahn and Rutee), Grandstream Saga (Arcia, Laramee and Eon), FFIV (Mr. Whipped and Mrs. Whipper), Lufia I (Lufia and The Hero) are all games with Relationship Factor. The somewhat ambiguous relationships of Edward and Terra, Celes and Locke, damaged FFVI for me. The lack of any love-interests (lack of anything good, really) in Secret of Evermore also biased my opinion. Love must evolve during the course of my favorite RPGs. Why? Because I'm obsessed with the idea of Love. The extent to which I follow relationships will become painfully (for me) clear with this example--I used to be an avid Melrose Place watcher because I wanted to see Billy and Allison get together. It's pitiable, but true. There you have it. A strange, superficial reason for some, but pivotal in my book.

3. pssst. Check out yesterday's page.

4. Maison Ikkoku, hands down. Lots of Relationship Factor there. Bumbling, lazy, irresponsible, basically worthless college student (me), Yusaku Godai, falls in love with beauteous Kyoko, his apartment manager, and spends 96 episodes and one full length movie trying to win her hear while navigating through Ruminiko Takahashi's trademark web of plot-twists, love rhombuses, and zany characters. How's that for a summary. Right up there with MI is one of my biggest heroes, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Orange Road, Slayers, Lodoss War, Ninja Scroll, yada yada yada. All of these--except maybe Slayers--also have Relationship Factor. :)

I used to be an avid comic book collector. Spiderman has always been a paragon comic book character for me, and I am literally drooling over the prospect of a James Cameron rendition of the man in red. Spawn, Bone, and Maison Ikkoku are comics I still read on occasion. For some reason, I've always shunned D.C.--maybe Superman was too perfect and Batman had a goofy looking sidekick.

Why not Pokemon 64?

Why did Nintendo come out with Pokemon for Gameboy?

I think they could have added more stuff to it and maken it a great RPG for the 64. Did they just want to increase their GameBoy sales or something? Cause' let's face it, Sony is releasing a lot better games this holiday season and Nintendo needs to have a big plan to save themselves.

Help me RPGuru!

-Kevin Warner

Joshua: Adolph Hitler, in his war's twilight, made a terrific tactical blunder. His brand new jets, ME 262s, that could ream any American Mustangs or British Spitfires, were commissioned as bombers. These planes could have turned Europe's Air War around if utilized correctly.

Has Nintendo made a similar misallocation of valuable resources? Could a Pokemonless N64 spell doom for this system? Nintendo was cursed from the beginning in my opinion--third-party publishers didn't want to stick with a confining cartridge and strict development policies. But I think Zelda 64 and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron will keep its head above water for now. Nintendo is the king of the well-executed polygon today.

Nintendo was the developer/publisher of Pokemon, so they could easily have made an N64 version. Why haven't they? I have theories.

1. There are more Gameboys out there than N64s.

2. Maybe they were testing the game's style on Gameboy, intending to port later.

3. Pocket Monsters=Pocket System. The game's approach suited the Gameboy's audience and design.

4. Gameboy has a collection of RPGs already. It has an established RPG audience. Nintendo could guarantee some sells. RPGs, as you well now, are scarce on the N64.

5. I don't know. Companies are strange entities. You never know what goes on at those board meetings.

Scattered Thoughts:

Many people want to know if Guardian Legends has much to do with an old NES game, Guardian Legend. I would guess no, not only because Guardian Legend really has nothing to do with Guardian Legends in plot and approach (Guardian Legend was an action game, for instance), they are made by two different development companies. Broderbund, publishers of Guardian Legend, would probably be the ones to continue the series, since they are still around. "Guardian" and "Legend" have been popular titles [Guardian Heroes, Legend of Oasis] so its possible Activision's new game just spliced them together. Fairly lackluster title, if I'm right. Maybe my first RPG will be "Dragon Quests."

Joshua Rosen, my RPGrock specialist has more Rock Facts ["Rock Facts," It's Friday, Nov. 6, RPGuru), this item from Breath of Fire 2: [in Joshua's own words] Three of the people who live inside the Windia castle are named "Right Don't," "Said Talk," and "Fred Kiss." This is an obvious reference to England's early 1990's flash-in-the-pan pop group, Right Said Fred (the people who brought you "I'm Too Sexy") and their second big hit, "Don't Talk, Just Kiss." Three of the four boys living in the Witch's Tower are named "Telence T," "Trent D," and "Darby S." This is an obvious reference to Terence Trent D'Arby, a singer from the 1980's and 1990's. The six witches who attend the party at the WildCat Restaurant are named "Aletha F," "Roberta F," "Tina T," "Sara V," "Mariah C," and "Billy H." Don't tell me that the writers of BOF2 weren't thinking of singers Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Tina Turner, Sara Vaughan, Mariah Carey, and Billie Holiday when they wrote the credits.

Blatant plug for Jacob "'da body" Vann, Guvna'v Minnesota. Check out his website: (http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/fortress/5257/).

For some inexplicable reason, I'm doing better in school now that I've picked up this monster column. I don't understand. But hey, I'm not complaining.

Dan asked me where he could find import CDs. I hope he's talking about music, because I have lots for you. Read reviews on game soundtracks at SoundtrackCentral.com, and purchase music at Gamecave.com. I hope you find your Wild Arms intro there, Noah.

I can't buy Brave Fencer today because my bank's closed! Waaaaa! Let me know what you think of the game/demo, but don't spoil it for me!

For future reference: I will not post anonymous letters. I have to--grudgingly I admit--affix my name to everything written here, and I think it is only fair for you to show the same bravery and commitment to your ideas--especially if your comments are controversial or disparaging.

-Joshua Reid, wishing he were here.

"Have a nice day." -Me, today.

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