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Q&A Emblem Delayening
February 8th, 2013

02/08- 12:00PM EST

Well, we now have our first big delay of 2013! Thanks to a multiplatform announcement, Rayman Legends for the Wii U has been pushed to September and I'm none too happy about it. This could have been a great month for platformers since the new Sly game just came out. Oh well, we still have Etrian Odyssey IV to look forward to! Of course, many people saw their copies of Fire Emblem see delays as well this week due to some kind of supply issue, but I can assure you folks it is worth the wait!

By the way, no one sent any entries for the new contest in yet! All you have to do is pitch me a remake of an 8-bit RPG similar in style to Ys I&II Chronicles. On to the letters!
 





The Letters
Where Has All the Music Gone?

What does it take to add a submission to your music section?  I have a bunch of remixes that could really, really, REALLY use some exposure.  If you deem them good enough, that is.

-Jason


Wheels

Well sadly there isn't any criteria at the moment because we don't currently have anyone running the music section. You could always post in the forums about it to see if we could drum up some interest to get the section running again. In the interim, you can send me the remixes and I'd be happy to share them on Q&A if I find them to be good!

Awakening Excitement

Well, I ordered and am looking forward greatly to Fire Emblem: Awakening, as I got a 3DS XL specifically for the sake of it and Soul Hackers.  I have high hopes but am at the same time expecting to be disappointed on some level (a state of mind that has been a constant over the last four years).


Wheels

You should be more optimistic! Awakening has arrived to much fanfare from fans and critics alike so I doubt you'll find much to be disappointed about there. Soul Hackers being an update of an old game may disappoint some, but I doubt it. It has a stellar reputation with importers! So I wouldn't worry there. Of course you may be disappointed in the battery life of the 3DS, so there's always that.

One thing that has been bothering me for a while is why Eien no Aselia for the PC didn't get much buzz when it was localized over here.  Yes, visual novel/rpgs are a very, very niche genre... but it has one of the best stories I've ever seen in an rpg in a setting that is absolutely fascinating to consider.  I mean, the protagonist gets summoned from his home world... and ends up as a slave soldier for a petty tyrant from a dynasty that happens to have influence over people like him.  As a starting situation, I don't think you could get much more soul-crushing than that, eh?  Not to mention that his weapon keeps threatening to drive him insane and he has to learn the language as he goes.  While the game system is nothing to write home about, it serves its purpose.  Expecting innovative and extraordinary battle systems from any visual novel company other than SofthouseChara is fundamentally ridiculous, after all.


Wheels

Well I guess I'm as much to blame as anyone, because I've never heard of that game! Plenty of other visual novel type games have gotten attention, so I'm not sure why this one fell by the wayside. That said, the story sounds incredibly interesting and I'm going to have to check it. More games need to come up with interesting ideas like this (even if they are also soul-crushing) and of course pair that kind of story up with better game mechanics.

Speaking of wasted potential... you mentioned Covenant of the Plume in a previous entry.  I do agree that the game is one enormous pile of wasted potential, with a protagonist who is uninspiring and a cast of characters that seem to exist only to provide a scene where they are murdered by the protagonist using the plume.   I mean, a protagonist full of misdirected anger who is blind to everything but vengeance... whoo-hoo... could you get any more cookie-cutter? 


Wheels

Well you could likely find a way to be more cookie-cutter, but you are right, Covenant of the Plume wastes what is a really cool idea. They should have spent time building up a cast of characters before even getting the power of the plume. Then, the game could have presented battles that are virtually impossible to beat without it, thus forcing players to take out characters they have probably learned to love. Now that would have been a cruel and awesome game!

To be honest, I don't see that much to look forward to during the coming year other than those two.  It's only just started, and most of the games I'm looking forward to seem to slated for 2014, such as Project Eternity and The Elder Scrolls Online.  I loathe straight dungeon crawlers like Etrian Odyssey, so I can't bring myself to be excited by that, and I've been gradually losing my taste for absurdity, thus weakening any interest I might have had in the latest Neptunia game.  I also find it hard to be enthusiastic for Dragon Age 3, with the memories of the disaster of 2 still fresh in mind.  Sorry if I sound bitter and cynical, but this looks to be a somewhat boring year for a gamer of my tastes...

Sincerely,
Travis Lucius


Wheels

Why you gotta hate on my dungeon crawlers (I kid, I understand they aren't for everyone)? I'm not that psyched for Elder Scrolls, but Project Eternity is quite intriguing. I think you should be excited for Dragon Age 3. They're clearly taking much longer with it after the reaction to the rushed out Dragon Age 2. Of course, you should probably also wait until they show more of it to get excited, but I have high hopes for it. Anyway, I hope you have a good time with both Fire Emblem and Soul Hackers and find some more games to your liking this year! Let me know what you think about Fire Emblem once you've had some time to play it.

Dream Drop Debate

Mr. Brass Wheels.  We haven't done this back-and-forth since your progeny came into existence.  Shall we?

All right, let's cover your gripes with the 2012 feature's dishonorable mentions.  Since I wrote about many of them, I feel it appropriate. First, Damaging Dung Deposit.  You enjoyed it?  Fair enough, I wouldn't try to rewrite your mind and say you weren't having fun with it.  I didn't. Why didn't I enjoy Disgusting Diarrhea Dose?  Certainly the story played a massive part in it, since the only time I felt like the game wasn't visibly spinning its wheels came with a nonsensical moment at the end that finished with an audible 'thud' as the game decided its entirety had been completely wasted.  No, I don't really want to sample more games in the series after this either, given that I have a lot of other things I could be playing instead (or watching, when it comes to Disney stuff). 


Wheels

I was hoping for one of your lengthy letters sometime soon, and as always you deliver!

The story in the Kingdom Hearts series isn't what I would call its strong suit. After a bunch of side entries the whole thing has gotten ridiculously convoluted. I do enjoy running around the various Disney worlds, but you obviously weren't a big fan of how they treated the different Disney properties. I play the series mostly for the gameplay, extracting what enjoyment from the story I can. So let's discuss gameplay!

As a game though, I didn't really like it either.  Sure, I'll grant that I complain about 3D cameras more than most.  I complained about this one, justifiably as it turns out.  I didn't like the Drop mechanic - at all.  Taking the choice of when I'm done with a character out of my hands and into the game's just vexed.  The enemies all looked kinda similar, the fighting wasn't revelatory enough to make up for all the backtracking I had to do, the final battles demanded I run out and grind a bunch to avoid getting killed super fast, I was really happy it finished as quickly as it did.  Yes, I wrote the brief mention we made of it as a disappointment, and for me it earned that title.


Wheels

I'll grant you the camera has issues; it's not perfect. At the very least, the game does support the Circle Pad Pro for those that have issues with the camera. The previous portable entry (Birth By Sleep) did have as many camera issues. Now as far as the drop mechanic goes, I wasn't a huge fan of it either but it didn't bother me all that much. It usually forced me into a drop just as I was getting sick of playing as that character. Can't agree on the combat impression of course. I found it to be a great evolution of Birth By Sleep's combat. The various new environmental moves also added a lot of spice to things. I play these games on the harder difficulties though, so I'm not sure how much that may effect our differing opinions. Anyway, I can see why people would be disappointed so at the end of the day I'm not too surprised it made the list.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star I also wrote about.  Now, it's hardly a terrible game.  I wouldn't say that at all.  I would say that it wasn't enough of a platformer to work for me, and with all the weaning of RPG elements, that's how I would've liked to enjoy it.  If I could consistently kill things just by bashing them with a hammer or jumping on their heads so I wasn't interrupted all the damn time with worthless cannon fodder Koopa minions, that would be one thing.  It's not that way though, and the enemies are really persistent in coming after you to get in the way.


Wheels

They are but often I sought them out myself because I had so much fun with the combat. As far as weaning of RPG mechanics go, there were never that many there to begin with. Granted the removal of XP is a bit jarring, but for me it didn't kill the joy of combat. There wasn't any real meaty platforming, which is something I think the game could have used.

Yes, too, I might have enjoyed mucking around with the puzzles if the game didn't use up my one-at-a-time stickers even if they didn't solve the problem.  That bugged me. A lot.The final battle with Bowser was pretty neat, I'll give it that.  Otherwise I just didn't have a terribly good time.  Of course, it wasn't my votes alone that put it at the top of the disappointment list, so you've got a lot of other people to browbeat on the staff.


Wheels

Yes, the using up of stickers that don't solve a puzzle was pretty annoying. That said, I loved the puzzles and the general emphasis on adventure game elements that weren't used quite as much in previous entries. It feels like a Mario take on classic adventure games, and I just had an absolute blast exploring the world and wracking my brain to figure out some of the puzzles. I get why people are disappointed, but personally I had more fun with this entry than any previous one save for The Thousand Year Door. I'll take the sticker puzzles over Super Paper Mario's perspective switching any day of the week.

I noticed you didn't speak up about Crimson Shroud.  Any particular reason why?


Wheels

I've downloaded it to my 3DS, but haven't actually played it yet. I'm sure I'll have something to say after that. We shall see!

Woo, mood shift with a challenge.  Put Grace Kelly into an RPG.  As an actual princess, that shouldn't be too hard.


Wheels

It shouldn't be but I'm going to come with something totally out of left field. In this Grace Kelly RPG you star as the member of a collegiate barbershop group. After doing a version of the pop song Grace Kelly, you feed your curiosity by finding out who she was. Find out inconsistencies and weird fact about her life (fictional, this wont be totally based on reality) you eventually discover she is still alive and part of a strange global conspiracy. There you have it!

No more word about Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation.... Not so good, no sirree. Maybe seeing this (admittedly the PS3 version, so the GBA isn't as snazzy) attack will get your attention back to it. That attack's first incarnation in OG 2 on GBA is plenty girly, but it's been made even more so.

Having played through the first Shadow Hearts, I have to recommend that you at least try it before moving on to the two later games. If you don't, its combat system will be a rude slap in the face after seeing what comes later.


Wheels

Yeah I'm really failing on the Super Robot Taisen front. I think I'll put the game in the GBA slot on my old DS which I take everywhere, so I can fire it up for a few battles every now and then. That video only makes me want a PS3 game we'll likely never get! I will keep a lookout for said attack in OG 2 of course.

I guess I should track down a copy of that first then. I wanted to get some of the games before they start skyrocketing in price further. They can still be had for right around $30 which isn't too bad for somewhat rare PS2 RPGs (have you seen the prices for some of the .hack games?). Then again my copy of Covenant came in so I may find it hard to resist...

So.  Shadow Hearts Covenant, which you now have access to, is a damn fine game.  If you're only going to play one in the series, make it this one.  The combat system is really cool, the plot progression is fascinating, and the sense of humor is considerable.  Of course, I did write a review not too long ago on the thing, so you can just go read that to know more in-depth about my reasons for adoring it.


Wheels

I will do so. I imagine I should avoid the likely spoiler filled Shadow Hearts episode of the RPG Backtrack? The game sounds really interesting and I picked it up before the others and the World War I setting sold me on it. I may follow your advise and try the first game before I play it. It's a shame there haven't been HD collections for classic PS2 RPG series like this.

Shadow Hearts: From the New World is more divisive, but I enjoyed it nearly as much.  The tweaks to the combat system are great, though its core is easily understood by someone who played Covenant.  Some people seem to have been bored by the story, which admittedly takes awhile to go from just being outlandish and off-the-wall (you're breaking Al Capone out of Alcatraz!  You're fighting through Roswell, where the base thinks it's captured an alien!  You've got a vampire who takes calories from the enemy to change her shape!).  Once it does get going, though, you've got a pretty grim story that's captivating.  It's also a fair challenge, so if you want to be on the edge of your seat for bosses, this'll do it.  Unless you're dead-set on never playing anything else in the series, I highly recommend it.


Wheels

Sounds like a worthwhile experience to me! What was so divisive about it? I generally like to try RPGs in a series that are divisive because sadly fans of series can I often dislike a reason for incredibly illogical reasons (I've done so myself). The oddball elements of the story sound right up my alley so I think I'll track down a copy.

Oh, and someone seems to think the Grand Canyon is located about where Denver is, based on the map.  Huh.  I guess someone forgot to check the actual geography again.

Connection challenge time!  Link The Ruling Voice to FEDA!


Wheels

That is funny, reminds me of that one Dreamcast (or was it Saturn?) series you were telling me about that takes place in a not very realistic USA.

Oh connection challenges! It's been awhile.

The Ruling Voice was distributed by Warner Brothers -> Warner Brothers owns DC -> Ubisoft developed and publish Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu based on DC characters -> Ubisoft published Lunar Dragon Song -> Lunar Dragon Song was developed by Japan Arts Media -> Japan Arts Media developed Song Master for the Super Famicom -> Yanoman published Song Master -> Yanoman published FEDA.

Back to the 3DS for a time. I just wrote a little something, beating the street release date even, about Fire Emblem: Awakening. A few things went unmentioned, such as the game's occasional insertion of a gag weapon like glass swords with all of three uses or logs that apparently fall under the spear class. Listen to this and you might get properly pumped for the surprisingly intricate score.


Wheels

Oh man, I've been loving the music in the game so far. Not to mention that the game itself plays quite well, and includes an option to turn off perma-death for those that are scared of it. Good to have this series back in the US after my prediction powers horribly failed and we didn't get the previous entry! Highly recommend people click that link to sample the soundtrack.

There will come a time in the near future when I resume the Suikoden delving I began last fall.  What can you relate to me about IV, Tactics, and V that I should know before beginning their experiences?


Wheels

I have yet to play IV or Tactics myself. IV is of course regarded by many as the worst in the series, but if you've been following Q&A you'll know I had several people write in to refute this fact. I have a feeling that while it probably isn't the best entry by any stretch, it's badness may be somewhat exaggerated considering that other games in the series are just that good.  Tactics has a somewhat better reputation despite being associated with IV. As far as V goes you should know that it gets off to a considerably slow start. Stick with it, and it quickly becomes a fantastic game. The battle system is a fantastic throwback to that of the first two games and the audio and visual elements are equally engaging. Just be aware that it has some annoying load times.

Funny isn't it. I asked about Project X Zone last time. Maybe your prognostication powers really do work in reverse... so let's try a few. Super Robot Taisen Original Generation 2 (PS3). Tales of Xillia 2. Summon Night 3. Shining Ark, which apparently sparked a whole lot of jerk behavior from somebody at Sega. The story is in the second half, should you care to see it.


Wheels

Perhaps they do, but I think I correctly predicting we would get Tales of Xillia? Project X Zone was an absolute shocker of an announcement. I guess Namco is serious about their commitment to RPGs. I'm hoping they'll bring over Tales of Innocence for the Vita but I highly doubt it. OK enough rambling, let's predict!

Super Robot Taisen Original Generation 2 - I don't think there's any chance for this one

Tales of Xillia 2 - I would say this one is highly likely unless Xillia bombs in the West.

Summon Night 3 - I would call its chances dubious at best.

Shining Ark - I don't think we'll be seeing this one from Sega of America.  I'm really annoyed about the jerk behavior by Sega related to this game, so I'm not sure I'd buy it even if it did come over. Actually that's a lie, you know how I am with Sega.

There you have it! We'll see in about a year how I did.

Severin likes these indefensible queries, so I'll try one.  Why was Square Enix smart not to localize Front Mission 5?


Wheels

I actually could call this one a "defend the defendable". Front Mission 4 very clearly was a bust. The series in the few entries that have come out here has never been able to find much of a fanbase. I'm not sure why given that Mechwarrior seems to have a sizable fanbase that would enjoy them. I think Square Enix should keep trying with that, but Front Mission 5 was likely too soon. There were other PS2 games that should have taken a higher priority as far as localization resources. So awful as it may be for fans, it was the smart thing to do (financially).

Make To Kill a Mockingbird into an RPG.  Go ahead, I'm sure it'll be interesting!


Wheels

I actually was not familiar with the story of To Kill a Mockingbird so I had to consult the plot summary on wikipedia. I would create an RPG that lacks combat and such and just focuses on character relationships. You can explore the world of the story, interacting with the characters and eventually get involved with the trial that serves as the main part of the plot. Depending on your interactions and what selections you make you can influence the outcome of the trial and create a better or worse ending to the story. Leveling would involve making good choices in conversations to improve your social skills which would open better dialog choices.

Now for something a little different - make a new Sonic the Hedgehog RPG, one that I might actually enjoy and not give up after a few hours. 


Wheels

BioWare are masters of the RPG craft but I would make a Sonic RPG that focuses far less on dialog and more on exploration and combat in classic styled Sonic areas. Exploration would be similar to the Mario RPGs but with a greater focus on speed. Combat would play out in real time in a system similar to the Tales games. Play style would vary depending on whether you choose to control Sonic or one of his friends in combat while the other party members would be controlled by highly customizable AI. The story would be light hearted and simple, but include plenty of opportunities for comedy similar to the funny moments in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. Finally, the game would not feature Shadow the Hedgehog at all.

Ah yes, Shining Force III stories, you haven't had any in some time.  Well, there's the whole matter of Garosh and Jade.  Remember the second fight of Scenario 1, in which the kidnapped emperor Domaric was being taken out of Saraband on a bridge while your team was plugging away at some Masked Monks in the way?  There was an archer named Garosh in that fight, and if you got up to him quickly he'd run off and issue a warning of what was really happening.  Do that and, in the middle of Scenario 2's chapter 5, Medion would get him as a recruit.  Delay just a little bit and Garosh gets killed, leaving his brother Jade as the only survivor in the family.  He'll then join Medion, deserting his nation, in the name of getting vengeance for his brother.


Wheels

That's pretty cool! I think I usually managed to save him in that fight. Moments like that in the first entry of course felt hollow for the most part because we never got to see what they led to. I really need to get on to my playthrough of all three entries using the fan translation by Shining Force Central. 

This comes after Medion returns to Saraband in search of the Emperor.  That requires dealing with the security forces of Saraband, in a fight where only he and Syntesis the mage are free.  Everyone else in his force has been locked into cells, and it's a race to kill the guard with the key, then run around opening doors to let your teammates out, which won't do any good unless they rush out to grab their equipment from the table in the room.  Naturally the guard force will grow quickly.


Wheels

Now that's a fight I can't wait to take part in. Scenario 1 had lots of interesting battles. As this story and others you've told me have shown, Camelot seemed to only get more creative the farther into the three entries you get. Thanks for only giving us part one Sega (yes I'm still bitter)!

Then there's a fight later in Scenario 3.  A samurai named Jubei spots two of the Rainblood (who you won't encounter until a fight in Scenario 2 - they're the Emperor's chess piece-themed agents of destruction) and immediately charges out to take them on, never mind that he'll get killed solo.  This particular battle has several tunnels through caves to ascend along the mountainside, so tracking Jubei down before he gets in the middle of something he won't survive is a little more challenging.


Wheels

Yikes, that sounds incredibly tough. I think I remember a fight in Scenario 1 where you climb a tower that has several sub-areas but you didn't have to chase down some fool to keep him alive! I'd imagine that fight may take a few tries.

Quick confirmation to anyone curious: yes, DS games from any region will work on a 3DS.  I played two Japanese games on mine, so there's no question about it.


Wheels

I thought that was the case. That's good to know! I wish they had just continued with region free consoles so I could be importing a certain slime focused Dragon Quest game right now. Oh well, good to know that imports (unless they're DSi enhanced games like the previous Fire Emblem) are still playable on the 3DS for those who don't want to keep their old system around.

Did you catch my Car Battler Joe review recently?  If so, any comments?  It sure isn't a well-known game, but you might have heard of it somewhere.

I think we should be done now.  Your column's length has just expanded greatly!
JuMeS


Wheels

I did not see the review initially but I've since checked it out. Sounds like a classic case of great idea, terrible execution. It's a shame!

As always, thank you for the tremendous content!

Adventures in Vaporware

Dear Wheels,
 
For some reason, I felt like reading up on "vaporware" video games a few days ago. It was then that I rediscovered a long-lost Wii RPG, Sword of Legendia. Perhaps you remember it: it was announced as early as 2006 by Namco Bandai, but other than a single piece of character art, nothing at all was revealed about the game for years. There were no trailers, no other pieces of art or screenshots, not even any basic info on what the story was about or what sort of battle system it would have. And no, despite the name, it had nothing to do with Tales of Legendia or the Tales series at all. I was interested in this game, like most Wii RPGs.


Wheels

Good old vaporware, always good for an interesting read (even when such games actually come out like Duke Nukem Forever). I was interested in Sword of Legendia as well. I hate it when companies announce games like this, including no information or even concept are. Who knows how far it ever even got into development, or what kind of game it even was?

Now that its 2013 and the Wii U is already out, what happened to this game? Perhaps it'll come as no surprise that it was canceled a long time ago, but the circumstances are odd. As late as 2009 employees of the company were saying that the game was still in development, but they could not reveal anything about it. Tsutomu Gouda, a producer of Tales games even said that Sword of Legendia's name would likely change due tot he Tales confusion. It wasn't until 2011 that someone finally admitted the game had been canceled for years!


Wheels

That is pretty odd. Tough to say what happened to this game. Torturous development cycle? Never really put into full scale development? Was only ever in planning stages? It's tough to say. I'd love to find out the real story about this. Based on the fact it was canceled, I'm guessing there was never much of a game there for us to be disappointed about not getting.

At least other Vaporware games had artwork and screens, if not trailers for their games. I didn't even know there was the single piece of art until recently and thought only the game's title and genre was known. I understand that projects fall through all the time, but its odd that this game was listed on Namco's upcoming games lists for years when it seems next to nothing was ever done for it. The name suggests it might have involved waggle controls, but I still have to wonder what sort of game it would have been.


Wheels

That's ever the sad story of true vaporware, never knowing what the game could have been. In recent years some publishers have had a propensity to announce titles way too early, or before they've even been assigned a development team (I'm looking at you Final Fantasy X HD). In the internet age when often see and hear about a game for long stretches before release, announcing a game too early seems dangerous. Why waste the publicity a game announcement brings if there isn't anything to show yet?

But enough about that, were there any game you were interested in that never saw the light of day, or perhaps are still in development limbo? RPGs would be more on topic, but any sort of video game will do.
 
Well, that's all I have to say for today. Until next time!
 
-Cassandra


Wheels

The obvious answer would of course be Final Fantasy Versus XIII which was clearly a case of announcing something too early. The one that disappointed me the most though is the announced remake of Landstalker for PSP that never happened. It was one of my favorite games as a kid so I was excited to see how they freshened it up. Nothing ever came of it of course, which was deeply disappointing. The only other one would be the rumored Wii RPG from Camelot, but I don't think that was ever officially announced, so not sure if that counts. I'm still hoping we see a new RPG from them sometime in the near future.
IN CLOSING

That's it for this episode, so get those contest entries in!

Deadline is the 12th.

See you next week!

-Wheels


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