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ASK SENSEI
Tanabata July 7, 2005

J_Sensei - 11:31 PM JST

Cast called in sick today, so I got to fill in making one of my tanabata wishes come true. I'm Jordan Jackson. You might know me from such sections as Japandemonium or Roundtables, but I'm RPGamer's "man in Japan," as Heath put it yesterday. I live the otaku dream of living in Japan, and it's not too bad a life. I enjoy myself a lot here.

As for today's title, I'm known for using Japanese titles, so I usually have to explain them. July 7, is Tanabata, the Japanese star festival. The Reader's Digest condensed version of the story is that there was a king of the Sky named Ten-kou, and he had a daughter, Orihime, who made clothes for the gods on her loom. Her father was worried about her working non-stop all day long, and one day, she met Kengyu, the keeper of cattle who lived across the river . Well, the immediately fell in love with one another and started spending all their time together. This angered Ten-kou, and he separated the two lovers on opposite sides of the Amanogawa river. The lovers were so sad that they still couldn't work, so Ten-kou allows them to meet one day a week if they work hard. That day is Tanabata.

So, I get my longtime wish of hosting QnA, and that's pretty cool. But what's even COOLER is that today is when We Love Katamari was released. Expect a full 'import' review in Japandemonium on Monday, but I can tell you now that it's even more awesome than the original.

But, the sooner I finish QnA, the sooner I get back to awesome rolling action, so I'd better get this party started!




L E T T E R S
Wish I could help you...


First of all, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your Q & A columns and the whole site in general. It is nice to have a site where I can get info and ask questions about just about any RPG out there, rather than just a few mega-popular titles. Kudos and keep it up!

As for my question, it concerns Digital Devil Saga. Has anyone else noticed that in the NA version, the voice acting and speech patterns for Cielo are more than a little spoof / imitation of Wakka in FFX? They both have that kind of Rastafarian thing going for them. Was this the same in the JP version of the game, and is it a coincidence? Or is this a new character archetype that will be found in all upcoming RPGs? You know, the brooding hero, the physically slight yet magically overpowered wizard, and of course, dat laid back surfer, mon! Maybe they will turn Bob Marley's life into an RPG; now THAT would be a sweet game!

Thanks and keep up all the great work!

Chris


Sensei

Glad to hear that you enjoy the site. I can vouch that a lot of people work really hard to make this site what it is, so we all really appreciate comments from fans. I can promise you, it IS harder than it looks.

As for your question, I can't say for sure, but my experience with Japanese games is that they do not accent them. Well, not like we do. You may get some dialects, but not the wide range of accents we Americans are used to.

As for your game idea, I'm too backlogged to even THINK about other games. Katamari 2 is going to take up a lot of my free time in the next couple weeks...



Culture Corner gets long emails too sometimes...


Whichever QNA Host there is today:

I haven't actually written a letter yet, but I've been reading the column for quite some time. I'd like to comment on a few topics that have come up lately. The main one being the fact that GBA and PSP are releasing several ports of classic games. I'm almost glad they did for a quite simple reason:

The new generation of gamers are spoiled and unaware of what a real rpg is. As mentioned in a topic about a week ago, someone was unable to find king zora in A Link to the Past to get the flippers...because s/he was spoiled by the fact that king zora is a big fat guy that can only scoot back and fourth on his throne in Ocarina of Time.. among other games that I can't think of at the moment...

Anyway.

My question being: Do you think that today's newest generation of gamers can fully appreciate the games that are coming out now, never knowing what a "real" rpg was before the storylines started crumbling as graphics started to become the main focus of the games? Don't get me wrong, I love the graphics myself.. but I wish that developers would spend more time, well, developing the stories and characters.

A second question: Do you think that FFXII will live up to the expectations set by the rest of the FF series? I admit, I'm one of those people that cried when Aries died in the middle of FFVII, or when Tidus lept off into oblivion in FFX. And quite disappointed at the overall gameplay of FFIX. Are we going to have the opportunity to know the good bad and ugly of the characters in FFXII, or is FF going to fall into the graphics hype as well for its final PS2 FF?

Sorry for the long letter,

Angel0886


Sensei

You're always going to have gamers that are too young to remember the old days. I go all the way back to Frogger on my Atari 7200. People a bit younger go back to Super Mario Brothers. Younger still go back to Sonic, and this goes all the way to people who cut their teeth on PS2 games. This cycle will always keep going. And you have to remember the nostalgia factor. I still love FFIV, but I realize it's not as good as I remember it. Still doesn't mean I don't get itchings to play it.

As for games with deeper stories, that's always going to be an issue. We are getting a lot of graphical fluff, but there are a lot of games with good stories out there. They were rare back then too, just there were fewer games and we got good ones. Now we have more games and more fluff. The percentage is probably pretty close to what it was in 'the good old days.'

And to get to your last question, honestly, I don't know. I honestly don't know much of anything about this new game, and I don't think anyone really does. We know bits about the battle system, but I can't honestly pass judgement on the game until I see it in playble form. It'll be worth my 50 bucks, of that I'm sure, but will it be my favorite game of all time? Maybe. Maybe not.

And don't worry about the long letters. I get some long ones in my Culture Corner, and I like answering them.



Another novel


This actually isn't a question, but a response to what Kalledon had to say in your latest installment. To refresh, I have copied and pasted it below:

Well I don't know if you've been following the GameFAQs Villain Battle, but Sephiroth won. So today they have a poll up asking if Sephiroth really is the greatest villain of all time and the majority have said yes. This irks me. Sephiroth is not a villain. He is a confused individual driven insane by the misconstrued knowledge of his heritage. He doesn't really have "evil" designs, they just happen to be bad ones that no one else will particularly like.

Meanwhile we have true villains like Kefka and Gannondorf who crave power and will stop at nothing to get it and crush whoever gets in their way. These are true villains. I think it just annoys me that the real reason everyone thinks Sephiroth is so bad is because he's bad ass.

Sephiroth might not be a "villain" in the classic sense of the word, as in what everyone remembers from playing all the rpg's from the NES and SNES era (i.e., Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior). For the most part, the "villains" from those movies were cartoonish caricatures that didn't have any depth in character. Case in point, Ganon from the original Zelda, the NES Dragon Warrior games, and even Kefka (hell, the guy wore some sort of demented clown outfit.) They were the equivalent of a stock, or flat character from a book. No depth. But with Sephiroth, we suddenly had a "villain" whose decision making processes almost made sense. He was a kind of modern anti-hero. I'm not saying he was the first, but certainly the most recognizable. What makes Sephiroth so memorable then, is the fact that even though he is a villain, he has depth, he comes across as being believable, as a real human being would.

I think that Sephiroth is infinitely superior over any of the "classic" villains because he's so much more complex. In all the other games, it was straight-forward-kill the "villain," save the princess (where applicable), and save the world. In so many games the villain simply becomes the figure on the screen you're supposed to hate- but like you said, with Sephiroth, we had a "silverhaired prettyboy" that we all knew we were supposed to hate but somehow couldn't take out eyes off him.

Tim Horstmann


Sensei

Dunno. He seems pretty villainy to me. I think we say he's not 'classic' villian because we can understand him. In the end, those character battles are no different than prom king and queen; they are just popularity contests. Sephiroth didn't win because he's a super villian, he won because he's cool. He looked cool. He had a cool sword, and he had a cool theme song. According to Roundtables, that's important. I don't put very much stock in the character battles. They're fun, but too many people get worked up over them.



Bit too late


Q&A person of the day,

The quote on the main page is from Illusion of Gaia, Will says it at the beginning of the game. I'd be in a tizzy if I didn't know that...considering IoG is one of my favorites of all-time.

I suppose I should ask a question, eh? Well, how likely do you think it is that the new Shadow Hearts game gets an American release? The main character may look like a mini-Tidus, but still, the quality of its predecessors makes me believe they'll get it right.

Thanks for your time,

Raza


Sensei

You're a bit late on the quote. That was already answered yesterday in a letter that is being reprinted today. But since I try to be a kindly young sensei, I'll give you a ^. That's kind of like half a tilda.

As for Shadow Hearts, I'd say it's pretty likely. I've never played any of the series, but I'm told that they're pretty good. And you have the fact that history repeats itself. The first three games in that series came over, so I'd say with almost certainty that someday, you'll be getting another fix Shadow Hearts fix coming your way.



TRPG Love


Final Fantasy Tactics is probably my favorite game ever... or at least top 5. I can't seem to find any games like it however, especially newer ones, do you know of any? Oh and I tried that newer GBA version, not too impressed.

Thanks

Aaron


Sensei

I can't think of anything EXACTLY like FFT, but I can recommend several TRPGs. First and foremost, I'm going to recommend Nippon Ichi games like Disgaea. I hear they get better with each new game, so it's hard to go wrong. I personally LOVED Disgaea, but a few people just can't dig it the way I did.

When I asked the rest of the staff, Tactics Ogre came up. There was also Vandal Hearts and Saiuyuki as getting a thumbs up. I'll also say that the Fire Emblem games are pretty fun, so you might look there too.

I'll end this by saying that Hoshigami got a big thumbs down by the entire staff, but it was made by the same people as FFT. I hear it likes to give you no chance to save your game, but the mechanics will be the most like FFT of any game out there except for Tactics Ogre, and that's darn hard to find.

Hope some of this helps you!



Quickie


The quote "We sat down to a small feast of snail pie... with whipped cream!" is from "Illusion of Gaia" if I remember correctly.

Monion


Sensei

That sounds about right. Since Heath didn't give you one yesterday, have a ~.





C L O S I N G
J_Sensei:

Well, there you have it. This is my first time as regular QnA host. If you like it, feel free to drop by Japandemonium every week and get answers to questsions with a Japanese theme. I answer every letter I get, so if you send one over, you'll get a reply or see it in the column. Better than 95% of the emails I get are printed.

I'll close this by telling everyone to buy We Love Katamari in October. It's so much fun. If you've never played the first one, spend 20 bucks and pick it up. It's.... unusual, but it is really fun.

Your regularly scheduled Castomel should be back tomorrow, so make sure you send him some Creamsicle love.

Catch you on the flip,

j_sensei@rpgamer.com
Jordan "You're lonely rolling star" Jackson


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