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ASK WHEELS
New Year, Same Q&A
January 5th, 2011

01/05 - 12:00PM EST

  New year, same Q&A host! Didn't think I'd last this long did you? 2010 was a great year for RPGs, and I'm curious as to what everyone's favorite RPGs and non-RPGs of the year were. I'm guessing a lot would say Mass Effect 2. There were plenty of niche RPGs as well, and it seems like we'll be getting plenty more of those as 2011 progresses!

Alright, to the backlog!





The Letters
Wheels Fails at Timely Responses

Dear Wheels,

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for responding to my last letter. Your suggestion last time about getting a handheld gaming device was duly noted, yet seeing as I've recently blown 3 grand on various things (car repairs being one) I'm going to have to settle for what I've got right now.
 

Wheels

Yikes, did I really let this sit in the backlog for that long? Sorry about that! Anyway, car repairs always stink, sorry to hear about that!

At any rate, I've noticed your hot topic bar, and that one of the topics is whether or not the Final Fantasy series needs another throwback like IX. My answer would be, yes AND no. Yes because I think revisiting an older style FF game on consoles would actually be a refreshing change as far as what SE has being doing with the main series so far. And I'd also say no, because all the differences and innovations that the main series has undergone have been things I've enjoyed. I loved XII and everything about it (it's art style, AMAZING dialogue, the story, the battle system) and I also liked XIII, since both brought something different to the table. I'm a turn based RPG fan, yet I enjoy more the games that combine real time aspects and turn based ones (like the grandia series). So now it would come down to which I'd prefer more. Perhaps it is time to get back to the roots, and I'd be interested to see how they'd do that while keeping game's presentation values on the bleeding edge like they seem to like doing. I'd vote for that. Sure. But boy-o did I like XII. Did I mention I liked that game? A lot?


Wheels

You've hit on what's so great about the Final Fantasy series, which is that the titles can be so different from game to game, and yet feel so familiar. Now I get that a throw-back game would obviously take the place of what otherwise could be something new and fresh, but like Final Fantasy IX before it, the developer can bring elements from past games into play while still keeping the result fresh. Perhaps just use a setting similar to the early games, yet with battles the likes of XIII or XII? Regardless, I think we'll both be very interested in whatever FFXV ends up being. As long as it's not an MMO.

My question to you, however, would be this: All of the main FF games have retained some form of turn based combat. But what if it went full hog and used a battle system more akin to the Tales series, or Kingdom Hearts? I'm sure some would be pleased, but I-- I don't know if I'd like it too much. Purely real time RPGs just seem less appealing to me for some reason. I'd rather play something like God of War if I wanted real time combat. Sometimes, real time RPGs feel like God of War with a different story, and numbers popping above enemies heads when they get hit. And character levels. Of course I don't mean exactly like GoW, but I hope you see what I mean.

Hope you will or have had a good Thanksgiving,

Mel


Wheels

I don't think that would be a good idea. For a spin-off? Sure, seems they're already doing that for Final Fantasy Versus XIII. I just think going fully into action combat for the main series is a bit too much of a change. Yes, it's a series based on constant changeability, but part of the appeal, as I stated before, is the familiarity despite all the new stuff. Menu-based combat is one of the things that makes all the game familiar, and going away from that is a dangerous game. People love their menus, at least in this case!

Anyway, good to hear from you, sorry for the delayed response!

P.S. Thanksgiving was awesome and included lobsters



Obligatory Ice Level Day

Hey there Wheels,

In honor of Obligatory Ice Level Day, what's your favorite obligatory ice level?

Wheels

Oh man that is a fantastic question. I'm going to go with the classic Final Fantasy VI location Narche. Everything in that town, from the music, to the people, just make one feel, well cold! Of course, the location is a short distance from deserts, so I thought it was a little out of place. They should have made it seem higher up in the mountains or something.


Mine is World 4 from Super Mario Brothers 2. Dodging the flurries and shy guys riding on wheeled cannons while I'm unable to get any traction is one of my cherished gaming memories. Almost as an apology for the deaths caused by those guys, the game offers up awesome whales in the same world.


Wheels

I don't know if that's my favorite non-RPG ice level, but it would have to be way up there. Especially with the whales. I don't know why I never liked Mario 2 as much as the others as a kid, it really was a brilliant game, even if it wasn't really a Mario game...

Mario 2 isn't an RPG though, so I'll try again: the Ashtwal Ruins from Suikoden V. It's desolate, isolated, frozen. Who would want to go there except for the brave... or the desperate? Plus, it requires multiple parties, so all of the second and third tier characters get their time to shine.

Nekobasu.


Wheels

Wow, that sounds very much like something straight out of Final Fantasy VI. I haven't gotten to Suikoden V yet, I guess I really should. I plan on playing it sometime after finishing up Suikoden II, either before or after Suikoden III. I've heard it's quite fantastic despite bad loading times. Plus the use of multiple parties? Sounds like something Suikoden should have more of. Anyway, great stuff! Next time shall we discuss lava levels in games?


Resonance of Difficulty

Hey Wheels,

Lots of good topics coming up lately. I really appreciated the comment  this week about how younger gamers will probably remember FFXIII years  from now with joy in their hearts...or something like that. I guess it is all a matter of perspective. maybe ill play it again sometime. Anyway, more interesting to me was that you are playing Resonance of Fate, a game I  have really enjoyed over the last couple of months. Sadly, I sold it when I got rid of my xbox to get a ps3. I am even considering starting  the game fresh on my new system, its just that good! But I do have a couple of comments on the game...

Wheels

Excellent! I always enjoy the chance to blab about Resonance of Fate and Final Fantasy XIII, two of my favorite games of this past year. I think you should just go ahead and pick it up for your new system. I'm playing it on a PS3 myself.

1. Why did everyone rave about how difficult this game is? I mean,  once you understand a few simple principles, you can pretty much destroy everything...I did notice that I was way over-leveled which may 
have made a large difference. But at around sixty hours in I had only really struggled against one boss. What do you think of the difficulty?

Wheels

Of course over-leveling makes a difference! I mean if you do most of the side-quests, then the game has a difficulty curve that is just right in my opinion. The issue is most people likely aren't doing that, and thus to struggle more to advance. Not only that, but if you don't grasp the importance of upgrading guns and swapping the different weapons between characters, then you're going to be at a huge disadvantage. It's a very complicated game, even if some of us manage to grasp it more easily. Not only that, but remember that difficult doesn't always mean "getting killed a bunch of times before succeeding". Battles in Resonance of Fate require a lot more strategic thinking than your run-of-the-mill game, so aside from the easiest of random encounters, your average battle has a lot more to it. We may breeze through the battles sure, but when you really think about it, you really are doing a lot more critical thinking than you normally would. This is what's so great about Resonance of Fate.

2. I also thought the complaints about the environment really exaggerated. Someone said that the game was boring because all the levels are an identical cement color. I found the environments interesting and engaging, and the world map style was really different and interesting.

Wheels

I agree, there's nothing too boring about the environments. They aren't the best element of the game by any stretch, but I never found them to be a deterrent, or anything like that. They fit the game very well. I wish enemy design was a bit more varied, but that never bothered me either.

3. Finally, what do you think of the story? I can say I have slightly mixed feelings, only because it took so long to really heat up. The saving grace for me was the terrific characters. I loved each of them and enjoyed their interactions. Actually, the character interaction reminded me of Shadow Hearts in some ways (my favorite series except for the latest installment). Anyway, great game, glad to hear of at least one other person playing!
Rock on Wheels,

Average Joe

Wheels

The thing about the story in the game, is that it's just not an important element for most of the game. The character stories and great gameplay are what drive the game, and the overall story heating up near the end is just a bonus. This is very much a game about great characters and great gameplay. The fact that it's not overburdened in story is a rarity for Japanese games these days,  and I really do think it's a strength, and not a weakness. Resonance of Fate is first and foremost, a game, and at that it succeeds by leaps and bounds.

Look forward to hearing from you again!

Six Degrees of Separation Returns

Dear Wheels,
Please connect Recettear to Planescape: Torment.

Sincerely yours,
FriendOfAgnes


Wheels

Easy! Recettear was published in the US by Carpe Fulgur->Carpe Fulgur was co-founded by Andrew Dice->Andrew Dice worked for CCP Games->CCP games developed Eve Online->Eve Online was published in box form by Atari->Atari published the re-release of Planescape: Torment on Good Old Games. OK, so maybe that wasn't that easy.

IN CLOSING

That's it for this ... nope, just kidding, we have a contest! Want to win a copy of Radiant Historia or Ys I&II? Send me your pitch for what Ys VIII should be like (if you want to win Ys) or what you would do for a Chrono Trigger sequel (to win Radiant Historia) in the form of a letter for use in Q&A. The best entry will win the respective game!  I suppose I'll throw in pitch me a new Ogre Battle game to win Tactics Ogre on psp as well. You have until the end of February.

'Til next time!

-Wheels

P.S. By Chrono Trigger sequel, I don't mean for people to send me in anything Chrono Cross related! I just mean a new game in the series.

Current Backlog: Warrior Needs Food

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What I can't wait for:

1. Ys: I&II PSP

2. Lord of Arcana (Yeah I'm shocked this is here too)

3. Tactics Ogre

4. Disgaea 4

5. Radiant Historia


On my Playlist:

1. Resonance of Fate Soundtrack

2. Uncharted's epic tunes

3. Donkey Kong Country Returns soundtrack



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1. Will Mass Effect 3 return some of the complex elements, or keep things simple like Mass Effect 2?

2. Dragon Age 2 on PC looks to provide a system to switch between classic Baldur's Gate Style combat, and Action RPG combat, can this work?

3. Does the crazy complexity of the Armored Core series qualify any of the games as RPGs?

4. Fallout-Who should do the next game in the series?

5. Should Camelot do a new SRPG franchise, since it's unlikely they'd work with Sega again?


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