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ASK SEAN
Column 46: Boxing Day
December 26th, 2007

Sean - 10:02pm EDT

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. I know I did. So what did you all get? This year was successfull all around for my family: all the "big" gifts were very well received, which was a surprise. Usually someone receives something that they are less than pleased with. So, what did you all get? Were there any surprises?

I was shocked by what I got under the tree. I got the customary movies and tv series (this year: Spiderman 3, The Simpsons Movie and Smallville season 6) and a whole whack of gift cards. What did my girlfriend give me? An Xbox 360 Elite. I was floored. Shocked. The whole shebang. My first order of business was to order the HD-DVD attachement for it (yay for gift cards!). Yesterday, I drove up and down the streets to find an open Blockbuster to try to buy some games. I eventually found one and they unfortunately had no copies of Eternal Sonata for sale and had only French copies of Mass Effect. I did find a used copy of Blue Dragon though, so I purchased that. I hate the little voice that keeps saying the little pop-ups: "Item!". Ugh. I also received Uncharted from a friend.

I will finally have some quality gaming time in the coming days. Today I need to go visit my girlfriend's family, and that will end the Christmas visits. Be sure to send Lusipurr some mail for the Friday column!




LETTERS
I actually thought about how the perfect console would come to be.


Hey Sean,

Just thought I would respond to your comment about a Universal Console. On the surface it seems like a good idea, but I would say it is probably the worst thing that could happen to gaming.

I dread the day when there is only a single console manufacturer. Think about PCs. Sure there are alternatives, but the market is so heavily dominated by Windows boxes. The result is that MS doesn't really need to do much to draw customers. They can just keep putting out the same software with new version numbers and token improvements. A single console manufacturer could send games in the same direction.

Sean

I am actually really happy with the PC-gaming world. I like to know that I already own the system to play all available games. The most that I have to do is just do some upgrades every three years and I can enjoy everything that comes out. I don't need to have three machines sitting around my tv with all kinds of cables everywhere. I am happy for that.

The great thing about having the competition is that it forces each company to actively search for what they consider System Sellers. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all have to court developers to some extent so that they can get exclusivity. This results in more money and time to the developers, and hopefully better games. Sure you still get the stinkers, but I suspect it would be worse if there was less incentive to produce that killer app.

Sean

But imagine getting all the system sellers for one machine--one that you own! It would be nice.

The other factor is of course that the smart console manufacturer will try and make their machine appeal more to developers. As previously discussed, this can result in an easier time for developers therefore giving them more time to work on the games.

Competition is good for the industry. If you don't have it, you get lazy, and then you end up in the situation Sony is in right now. They dominated the last generation. This generation they got lazy and assumed the name would sell the product. Now they are discovering they may actually have to work for it. They are going to have to work hard to get the good games, the good developers, and the market share. But imagine if they didn't have any competition. They could just sit back, not put in any effort and reap the rewards. And I hope we can all agree that the result of that would be bad for the industry. Meanwhile you have Nintendo who has been on the bottom of the scale for years, and they realized that. So they started to think about what they could do to get themselves back on top. And the result is a major innovation in gaming. They spotted that there was a large market of people who were not playing games. Then they came up with a way to get those people playing games. They tapped into something that MS and Sony didn't see and the result is that they are likely to be on top for this generation of consoles.

Eggman

Sean

Yes, competition is wonderful, but sometimes not so much for the consumer. Imagine, if in the future, three more companies enter the fray. Now with six companies, each has a major console. Each major console gets five exclusive must-play RPGs for it. I mean ten on tens. Would this be good for the consumer? Would I need to own all six to enjoy everything? Now imagine a single console being on the market with all thirty of these games on it. Which would you prefer?



My Dreamcast is dead and long buried...


Hmm - I'll try something a trifle different today. http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/1130/54 is the ending song to Dragon Force 2, which you will never play. Since Kouhei Tanaka wrote this it's at least rather interesting and I feel you may like it. Or I'm completely insensible thanks to a midnight shift altering my temporal sensibilities; could be the latter.

Long as I'm throwing a link out, I'll throw another one. http://hg101.classicgaming.gamespy.com/stargazer/stargazer.htm Merely reading about this game inspired fits of snorting from me as an example of how NOT to make an RPG. If it inspires a similar response within you, my work is done (moreso when I had nothing to do with actually playing the game or writing the critique).

So - D2. Having finished it yesterday I can say that it most assuredly is bizarre. Worth getting your Dreamcast out of storage for? Probably not. It did have an interesting final boss fight though, where the boss steals your vision (gotta make sure you're aiming in the right direction as the blindness sets in) and then your hearing. It made for a very sensory-deprived experience.

Sean

My cousin broke my Dreamcast. I haven't played any DC games in years. I couldn't read that whole article: it was pissing me off. Its nickname is funny though!

Now; the story. There has been a plane crash north of Yellowknife and the survivors have this unfortunate problem of frequently turning into monsters. Tendrils and what look somewhat like flowers sprout from their torsos, and they become monsters that must be slain with extreme prejudice. Slaying the monsters is accomplished with firepower, and if they are shot at close range their green blood has the disturbing tendency of clogging the screen (which is seen first-person in battle). The lack of much music aside from ambient sound lends something of a survival-horror feel to the game.

Sean

And it is in Canada!

The heroine is Laura Parton, and her amazing stamina must be what allows her to wander around the Northwest Territories in winter while wearing only business casual. Seriously, it's snowing and obviously quite cold - but this woman manages to run around through the drifts without even a coat! I guess long sleeves are enough.

Sean

They are too for me usually. The wind and humidity can kill that though.

An interesting logical fallacy to explain: hunting. Laura quickly gains a hunting rifle to bag animals for food (food being a health restorative). See if you can follow the logic here; a hare grants two pieces of meat, a grouse one, a caribou three, and a moose four. Did I miss something? Since when is a hare half the size of a moose?

Outlining all the craziness that the plot eventually throws together would require a much longer letter than I feel like writing. Suffice it to say that never have I played a game somehow linking the disparate concepts of the dinosaurs' extinction, attempts to clone mammoths in the early 70's, a priest with a parrot holding time bombs who dies after imparting information, a grandfather turning into a mutant babbling about cherry pie, and the millennium celebration in New York.

Sean

Hmmm... Cherry pie. Yummy.

Ah yes, I need to impart another CRAZY STORY from Tengai Makyou IV! I don't think anyone else on RPGamer has played it, which is a damn shame. So what story shall I relate? Well, the evils Dr M works in Minnesota sound pretty appropriate.

Dr M has the temerity NOT ONLY to carve his face onto Mr. Rushmore! That in and of itself is a horrible deed, but he is also responsible for the advent of Neo Cattle in Minneapolis. Neo Cattle seem to be people who have had their bodies turned into giant chickens. Exactly how Neo Cattle are useful is a question for the ages. Oh, and the moment when a woman has a bookcase fall upon her and her head falls off, with her getting up a moment later and putting her head back on proclaiming that good health triumphs over all (turns out she's - amazing surprise! - a robot) is quite surreal.

...Christmas? If anyone gives me anything game-related at Christmas I'll be astonished. The vast majority of my relatives are convinced I need more clothes (not true - I take care of that on my own) or things that they understand better. I never count on people giving me games at Christmas, and I have seldom been disappointed save many years ago when I could not fund the practice as a child.

JuMeSyn

Sean

Well, I hope that someone came through for you on the big day. That game weirds me out. The more you talk about it the less I want to even see it. Sorry, man.



Site info


Hi !

I just found out that rpgamer is available in six different languages including chinese ! That's pretty amazing. I would like to know how you guys manage to do that ?

Is the rpgamer staff volunteers or do you get paid for what you do ?

Thanks for all the information you have given us over the years. I appreciate your professionalism and the humour we can find while reading the articles, columns or reviews.

Merry Christmas to the staff and to all the readers out there.

J-F

Sean

I didn't know we were mirrored. I don't know who does that. Maybe it is some fans? Maybe an automatic site translator? I really don't know. We don't get paid to work here. And thank you for the compliments! I hope you enjoy the holidays!



I really should have let Lusipurr have this letter... *snickers*


Hello, Gorne/Sean.

I have been meaning to write a letter for so long, and yet somehow I haven't found the time until now. It pains me to go for so long without contributing to QnA, because this little column is what first attracted me to RPGamer a few years back. It has been, and continues to be an excellent place to ask questions, discuss things, and even to vent. (Within reason, of course.)

Sean

Within reason? It is infinite, man.

I note that your IRC nick is currently Gorne|360'd, from which I infer that you received an Xbox 360 for Christmas. If that is the case, then congrats. I bought myself a 360 for my birthday back in August, and I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it ever since. Hopefully yours will treat you well, mine can't seem to make up its mind. It usually runs smooth as silk, but every so often it starts screaming and squawking and making me run for cover, for fear of an explosion. I would suggest you DO NOT stand it up vertically, like you see in all the ads and such. Iunno why, but it seems to increase the frequency of freeze-ups and disc-read errors. At least, that's how it was for mine. Also, if you have any problems with overheating, try suspending the AC adaptor. Somehow, anyhow, just make sure that big lump of plastic isn't resting on the ground or any solid surface. Sounds odd, I know, but ever since I did that, mine hasn't overheated.

Sean

Thanks for the advice. I've played mine for about an hour, and I swear the thing sounds like it is dying. The thing is just so loud! Ugh. Why can't they get that right?

I actually haven't played too many 360 games yet, so I don't have much to recommend. I did enjoy Blue Dragon very much, and since you can pick that up for around 20 or 30 bucks, I'd recommend you give it a shot. It isn't perfect, but it is a very enjoyable, traditional RPG. My guess is that you're playing Mass Effect right now, though; which is a game I really want to play. I'm kinda broke right now though, so I'm gonna try to buy cheap for a while. Plus I have about five different games on my plate right now, in wake of all the gift-receiving. So Mass Effect will have to wait, along with BioShock-another 360 title that I really want.

Sean

I don't have Mass Effect. I got the 360 for Xmas, but no games for it! I had to wait a day to be able to buy one (on Christmas day!) I do intend to track one down tomorrow though.

And now, as if I didn't have enough on my plate already, the PS3's library has been opened to me. Yes, I received an 80 GB PS3 for Christmas, and words cannot describe how surprised I am. My parents have never, ever bought me anything videogame related. And BOOM, suddenly they're buying me a PS3. I don't have any games for it yet, but I've got my eyes on Folklore and Ninja Gaiden Sigma. The critical opinion of Folklore seems rather divided, however. I seem to remember you saying that you liked it though, so I'll just take your word for it.

Sean

Liked it? I loved it. Keats is just too damn cool for his own good.

Have you ever tried out the PS/PS2 upscaling feature on the PS3? My brother is playing Ico as I write, and it looks pretty good upscaled to HD. It's not a huge difference, but it does eliminate a lot of the jagged lines and such, and give it a sharper look overall. There are still a lot of PS2 games I want to play, so I'm glad I got the 80 gig system.

Sean

No, I haven't. I bought the equipment for it, but haven't tried it yet. I don't have much access to the HDTV, so I tend to play PS3 games when I get the chance to. Currently I am trying my hand at Uncharted.

I read in an earlier column that you bought the original Baten Kaitos but never played it. I played the game about two years ago now, I guess. I enjoyed it, although it was nothing spectacular. Funnily enough my brother got me the second game for Christmas, so that's what I'm currently playing. I'm really enjoying it so far actually, I'm surprised at how fast the plot is moving.

Sean

Good. I lost complete interest in the Gamecube a while back.

I just finished playing Assassin's Creed on the 360. I don't know if you favor games of the action adventure brand, but if you do, I would strongly recommend you pick up Assassin's Creed. I was thrilled with it from beginning to end, and I can't wait for the (inevitable) sequel. The only flaw is that the game is slightly repetitive, but other than that I can't think of any complaints. The story is excellent, the massive city environments are incredibly fun to explore, and the graphics are absolutely breathtaking. I know I'm gushing just a little bit, but I really enjoyed the game.

Sean

It is on my list of buy for $20 games. I don't feel any pressing need to give Ubisoft my money.

Well, I suppose I should go an put together some approximation of a Currents column. Rather hard to do during this time, since there is no NEWS to be reported. Furthermore, I somehow doubt I'll be able to find anyone to proof me. But I shall perform my task nonetheless!

Safety and Peace,

-Oliver/Metaridley

Sean

I think I saw the column go up (and you did get it proofed). Congratulations! Enjoy your loot!



Welcome to the club!


Merry Christmas Sean -

Hope your's was as good or better than mine. I want to touch on a few topics, but it's almost bedtime so I'm going to do my best to be concise. First off, game of the year. This of course will be flavored by what I managed to play, and I'll limit myself to RPG's. So that being the case I'm going to go with Jeanne d'Arc. Honestly the closest I got to a console RPG this year was Super Paper Mario, so it was pretty inevitable that it would be a handheld game. I found the fact that the top two heroes in this game were badass females with sexy french accents to be a fun change of pace, and I love how the elves all talk with alliteration. I'm tempted to play again to see if dwarves have a similar quirk. Also the whole thing just felt highly polished, all the little details were there.

Sean

Grrrr. That is another game that I *NEED* to play!

Secondly, what I got for the holidays, and some sweet loot it was this year. The big ticket item was an X-Box 360, and oohwhee is that sweet. They got me a bundle that came with an extra controller and a charger too, so I'm set there. Now after I get off work tommorow I gotta get the wireless internet doohickie, the xbox live gold package deal, and NBA2k8 so I can shoot hoops with my brother. I've got until I beat Metroid Prime on the Wii to decide whether I want to get Eternal Sonata or Mass Effect first. The other videogame related thing I got was the component cables for the Wii, and I've got to say, if your have an HDTV and a Wii but don't have those cables, get em. The differnce truly stunned me. Oh, and since you're soliciting opinions on HDTV's, I saw someone recommend the Samsung's and I'll go ahead and second that. I got a 40 inch LCD about 3 month's ago and am completely satisfied. I think I've watched something like 20 Zatoichi movies since I got that thing seeing as how we get the Kung Fu channel with our hd cable package, it's amazing how well anything done on film translates.

Sean

Cool. My boss got a Samsung (the one J suggested to us!) and is completely happy with it. Another friend bought it, as well as his brother. I expect to get a LNT4069 when the time comes.

And finally question time. The xbox bundle came with Marvel Ultimate Alliance which I plugged in at the parents house, because I had to try it out. It played just like Untold Legends, and X-Men Legends which I had played on my PSP due to a lack of RPG's early in it's lifspan. I seem to recall that you played the PS3 Untold Legends, so I'm curious, how do you feel about these games being defined as RPG's? To me they just feel like souped up Gauntlet, yadadamean? Another case of mere RPG elements or does it deserve the title? And remember to show your work with your answer. I usually check these things for glaring misspellings and obvious dopehead reasoning before sending but it really is bedtime so sorry for any unintelligableness up there.

OG like Zatoichi,

Kezzy

Sean

I will need to get those cables eventually (for the Wii). I tried Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the PS3 a while back. I don't have any problems with them being labelled as RPGs, as long as they have a level-up mechanic. I don't recall what MUA had in that department. Thanks for the letter, Kezzy! I hope you enjoy your phat lewt!



QUICKIES

Hello,
As a long time member of Rpg Gamer, I have read news about Matt's burn. Is he really doing fine? Hopefully he isn't in much pain and is able to have a nice holiday. Its been so many years since I've been coming to this site, I've actually lost track.
Please give my best regards to Matt and the rest of the staff,
Happy holidays,
Loyal Rpg Gamer.

Sean
Matt is doing better than ever. Look for him hosting some columns in the new year! I'll be sure to announce them a little in advance! ^^;

Sean,
My wife got me a PSP for Christmas, and I have a question for you about it, but it is not an RPG question. It turns out my wife's motives were slightly less than sincere. She wanted a portable system so she could drag Tetris around with her. Much to her chagrin, there is no Tetris for the PSP. Do you know of any legit way to get Tetris onto a PSP? I have already gotten her Lumines, but can you think of any games that might appeal to someone who is a huge Tetris fan?
Thanks,
Draconn

Sean
I hope you enjoy this little gem of a system. Let me know which games you get and your opinion of them! As for the question... I really don't know of any games for it that will appeal to a Tetris fan. Lumines failed with my girlfriend. Sorry I can't be of more help. Any ideas, readers?

No letter today, I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas too (a little bit late, sorry) and of course also a Happy New Year.

Sean
Thank you. I wish the very same to you and your family!



IN CLOSING

Please send dear Lusipurr some letters! The more you trash FFXI, the happier he will be. Oh, try to convince him to help me camp Leaping Lizzy, the Valkurm Emperor and Argus. I will see you all next week!



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