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ASK WHEELS
A Sequel Approaches, Command?
February 23rd, 2011

02/23- 12:00PM EST

  Yes, more sequel talk. However, based on all the great sequel ideas I've received, you're all enjoying this! Just a note, the deadline for the contest is this upcoming Monday at 11:59 PM (or thereabouts, I'm not picky!) so get those submissions in. There will also be 3rd and 4th place prizes, which I'll detail at the end of the column.

On to the letters!





The Letters
Chronoquel

Hey Wheels,
RPG's became my favorite video game genre after I first played Final Fantasy VII. Having moved forward and played VIII, IX and countless others, I found over the years that in new RPG's I haven't found anything quite as good. So I decided to go back in time and play through the classics of the 16-bit era. It was only then I found a game that gave me the same feeling as the first time I played FFVII. That game was Chrono Trigger.


Wheels

I'm glad to hear this. I think a lot of people whose intro to the RPG genre was Final Fantasy VII seem to have trouble going back to the classics. I'm glad that you not only went back and played these games, but also enjoyed the classic Chrono Trigger as much as you did. Anyway, moving on.

With my love of RPG's restored, I played Chrono Cross and found it just as amazing. With the great days of inspiration from Squaresoft seemingly gone I wondered what a continuation of the Chrono series would have been like had it been made after Cross.


Wheels

I don't think the "great days of inspiration," are over, but their games have changed with the times, and that doesn't go over well with people. I will say their World of Mana effort left me cold. I think the best Square-Enix titles I've played in recent years have been many of the lower budget niche titles like 4 Heroes of Light. I think Chrono Cross fits into this category (I don't believe it had much of a budget). I'm getting way off topic though, Cross was great.
 
Firstly, I thought about a more direct sequel to Trigger. The first thing that comes to mind is Magus and his continuing journey to find Schala. This could bring a lot of new travels for Magus, but Schala's ultimate fate is shown through Cross. Next, I moved on to a story following Crono and Marle straight after the ending of Trigger leading up to the fall of the Kingdom of Guardia. This could set up an interesting narrative with an expected tragic ending, but again Cross shows what events are like later in the timeline anyway.


Wheels

That could still work though! Remember Crisis Core? Everyone knew how the story would end, but it was still a lot of fun to play through it. Sometimes the journey is still very enjoyable, even if you know how it ends. Perhaps you could even bring time travel into play here, where the fate of Chrono and Marle is somehow changed?

This lead me to think differently about the main story overview of both Trigger and Cross and look at the bigger picture. While the personal stories of the main characters are what we as players are attached to, the games are really telling the life of another character, The Planet.


Wheels

This is very true, so I'm just going to shut up and let you get on with your idea.

So, like Cross, the third Chrono game must expand on the story of The Planet and feature a new cast of characters discovering more of The Planet's life-cycle. A few general ideas connect the games. Time travel and alternate dimensions are a must, The Planet's life must be in danger from some form of Lavos and actions of individual's in the past have consequences in the future.
 

Wheels

To put it more simply, Lavos and his effect on the Planet are essentially what connect the two games, considering he (or it) is the root cause of everything.

The most interesting idea that Cross hinted at, is that while the original cast of Trigger saved The Planet, it made an entire future cease to exist and now people from that reality never have a chance to be born. A plot could then be constructed, that the main cast of characters are originally from that timeline and would find out about Crono's team stopping Lavos from destroying the world in AD 1999 and formulate a plan to travel back in time and again rewrite history to preserve that timeline's existence. I could see it ending up as being a choice of selfishly wanting to protect their own future, or once again making sure Lavos is defeated for the greater good of The Planet's lifecycle.


Wheels

You could even have there be more endings than this. Maybe if you screw things up, the players sacrifice their existence, but it doesn't fix anything? Perhaps the players could cause a paradox, and with it the end of everything? Perhaps even you could throw in an ultimate ending, where the characters are able to stay alive and somehow still make things right.

With that general plotline in place the designers would have plenty of freedom to have the characters travel to various time periods and alternate dimensions viewing events from the other games and discovering new ones; enabling the ability to have old characters make an appearance, have a variety of interesting settings and environments (Chrono Tigger's greatest asset) and make a definitive ending to the series story.


Wheels

I like the idea of making a definitive ending to the series. The more sequels you do in a series involving time travel, the more crazy things can get. With your idea, the third game can be a culmination of the other two games, even letting players go back and alter things that happen. You could even restrict the players from going back that far, and still have a lot of flexibility as well.

Well thats my "radical dream" for what I think would be an appropriate conclusion to the Chrono series. What would it be called?...Chrono Shift
 
Thanks,
 
Trigger7


Wheels

I love the name Chrono Shift. I can't explain why, but it just fits your idea. I think this sounds like a very plausible and doable Chrono sequel, so I hope Square Enix is listening! Thanks for the great entry.


I Hope Y'all Aren't Sick of Sequel Talk

Howdy partner.

This is my first letter in, so until I come up with something more original I'll address a few of the hot topics.

Wheels

Excellent! Always good to hear from new people. Let's see what you've got...


Does Alpha Protocol deserve a sequel?

That's a good question that I can't answer fairly. I'd also put that in the same category as, "Does Resonance of Fate deserve a sequel?" - For me anyway. Although I'm glad you enjoyed both games, I'm not willing to take the fiscal risk on two titles that have received consistently mediocre ratings. I'm assuming that neither game sold well - though I could be wrong - so does it even make sense for their to be a follow-up from a business perspective? Do you have any info on sales?


Wheels

Well, to be fair, Resonance of Fate did not receive mediocre ratings. It got mostly good to great ratings, with a few lower ones. Alpha Protocol certainly got mostly mediocre reviews though. Anyway, I can't find any solid sales information on Resonance of Fate, but I recall seeing numbers that Alpha Protocol had sold somewhere near a million. Sega wasn't pleased with the sales numbers though, I do know that. For Resonance of Fate, the most important sales numbers would be Japan, where it debuted at second with 110,000 sold, behind Dragon Quest VI on DS.

Speaking of sequels, there's the hot new topic of FFXIII-2. Does that game deserve a sequel? I'm in the "no" camp. The reasons for this have already been beaten to death across the interwebs, so I won't go into much detail other than to list: pacing, character development as it's related to pacing, and extremely unintuitive and downright silly weapon upgrade system (Am I upgrading the right weapon? Am I picking the right thingy to upgrade the right weapon?). It's interesting to me that both the developers and "the fans" (which fans?) were fond enough of the concept to take it forward.


Wheels

I'm not sure what you mean by "right" weapon. There were dozens of different weapons, with different statistics, each of which (at least to me) appeared to be a viable option. The rest you can just scrap for parts. They certainly could have made the upgrade system easier to figure out though. There were about 8 different shops for parts, and it wasn't clear how good each item was for upgrading unless you bought it, or already knew. Overall I couldn't call it bad, as it did work as intended. It just needed to be made more user friendly.

Do you have any read on Japanese versus American reception of the game? Beyond that, what about the FFXIII world and characters do you think warrants a sequel? FFX is my favorite RPG - do with that information what you will - and even then I balked at the idea. Maybe Square Enix should stay away from them there sequels, unless they are sure they can be as successful as Golden Sun 1-2 and Suikoden 1-2 were in their time. Have you played either series?


Wheels

I asked Gaijin about this recently, and if I remember correctly, the Japanese complaints with the game were the same as ours, though maybe not quite as extreme. Anyway, Final Fantasy XIII had a lot of mythology to it, and I think it really warrants being explored in another game. I found the cast to be quite enjoyable, so more of Lightning is not a bad thing in my book.

Square Enix shouldn't shy away from sequels, as fans are always asking for them. Since you mention Golden Sun, and Suikoden, I think they should follow the route of these games, and stick to similar gameplay styles, and allow for importing of data from the previous games.

Regardless of iPhone sales, my read is that the Mana series is done with for a good long time. I doubt Square Enix sees this as more than a quickish cash-in; I see that the game being in the Mana series is probably incidental, and more indicative of Secret of Mana's past appeal than any future plans on the part of Square Enix. There have been far too many bumps in terms of recent entries - though if they were to make a direct or near-direct sequel in the form of a "Secret of Mana 2" I would grab it.


Wheels

I'm not sure about that. It's not like some ports, where it's clearly just emulated with an on-screen gamepad, Secret of Mana on the iPhone had the whole interface redone to work with touch controls. While the result isn't perfect, it's clear to me a lot of work went into it. I'd hardly call that a quick cash in. Granted you're right that it's not an indication of future plans, but  they're considering more modest, digitally distributed sequels for the series?

In the current developmental environment, do you think it's possible for Square Enix to make another quality entry in Mana the series? If so, would that even be desirable in favor of the same man hours making either a new IP or a sequel to a different series that perhaps deserves revisiting but also hasn't sold well recently (i.e. Chrono Trigger DS)?


Wheels

  I think they could, if they keep the budget low, and make it a retro-effort like 4 Heroes of Light. As you know, World of Mana didn't work out to well. Despite this, I think an effort to return the series to its roots could give it a new start. Square Enix is a very large company, so I doubt man hours is an issue.

Sidenote: as you noted, like most fans, I would make a direct sequel. It's not based on nostalgia, however - I think Chrono Trigger DS's new content had a very solid foundation for a follow-up with the same world/characters, though not much more can be said without venturing into spoiler territory. Also, the standard for game sequels these days is to provide such exhaustive introductions that familiarity with characters/setting is usually handed over. If you played the extra content of CT, did you find it as viable as I did?


Wheels

  Going on the vague memories of what I can recall of it, yes I would say it's viable. Time travel allows for all kinds of craziness, so I think I've come around to the idea of a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger. All these crazy pitches have really convinced me. At this point, is it too late? It's been such a long time since Chrono Trigger first came out, that a direct sequel sounds like a risky proposition. Perhaps they could just include a recap for those who didn't play the original?

For me, one of the turnoffs of Western RPGs like Fallout 3 and Mass Effect is what I felt was an abundance of mythology but a lack of plot. My impression is that these games do little to enhance their settings within a genre. In other words, I would feel perfectly comfortable describing the Mass Effect series main storyline as simply "typical Sci-Fi" without any more detail and will have captured what occurs; similarly, I would feel perfectly comfortable describing Fallout 3 as "post-apocalyptic" and leaving it at that (Yes, I have played and finished both games and their side quests). The background behind what occurs is dense, to be sure, but I don't think it aids the main storyline.


Wheels

  For Fallout 3 perhaps, but have you played the original two? Or New Vegas? The world in these Blackisle/Obsidian developed entries is incredibly dense, with many different factions and various intrigues that make them incredibly interesting worlds to explore. Perhaps they don't have a driving plot like some games, but this is simply because the open nature means the plot needs to react to the player, instead of the other way around (if that makes sense). In this way, you can't have as many "exciting" moments, such as some of the best cut-scenes from Final Fantasy VII. Totally disagree on Mass Effect. The first game could be plodding at times, but the plot in Mass Effect 2 was anything but generic Sci-Fi. The setting Bioware has created with this series feels very unique to me, though certainly some of the aspects of it are typical Sci-Fi.

Anyway, sometimes a world with a dense back story can be just as interesting to experience as one with a great central plot. This what makes many of the Dragon Quest games great. I can't say I care much for Dragon Quest IX's central plot (though it is interesting at times), but the stories of each individual town and country are fantastic. This is what western RPGs usually get right.

In the most recent Q@A, you mentioned that Western RPGS get story and depth right. Could you elaborate? What am I missing?

Anyway, thanks for putting up with my shenanigans. Perhaps I will write again? Mayhaps?

PSA: Remember, only you can prevent forest fires.

Ashy Phoenix


Wheels

What I meant was, Western RPGs are generally considered to have more mature and in-depth stories than their Japanese counterparts. You're right in that some of these games feel like they flesh out the worlds very well, but sometimes don't do a great job on the central plot (Morrowind is a fine example). So in this case, "story" doesn't necessarily refer to central plot.

I'd be happy to discuss this further, so feel free to send me in some more thoughts!


My "To-Import" List Gets Longer

Mr. Rubber Wheels ('cause no lightning strikes you, sir!), shall we do this Q&A thing again?

Wheels

Now I have an excuse to use the classic "I'm rubber and you're glue"!

Anyway, let's do this thing.

You seem to think I did not review any Langrisser games, and I must say that this misapprehension must be made right! Perhaps it is because I have not reviewed them recently, and in that case I shall supply links to the pertinent material. Keep in mind that some of these I wrote before becoming a staff member of the site, thus the standard proofreading process was not administered. Anyway... The first game was a testing ground. Treco folded after its localization of the game didn't set the charts afire, and it's been superseded by the other games. It's also damn hard when the Fire Emblem rule of letting characters die is applied to a game in which you have just enough people to fill your roster. Test it first or not, as you will.

Wheels

Doh, that's what I get for being lazy and not checking to see if you had reviewed them. Oh well, as punishment, I will read them all!

I think I'll skip the first one. That permanent death thing applied to such a small roster just sounds terrible. However, if I like the other games I may go back to it just as a curiosity. I wonder how I never even heard about the first game. I pretty much ate up any Genesis RPG I could find.

The second game is where it got really good. Yes, this one has been translated, and I recommend you investigate it forthwith.

Wheels

I shall! It's always good to see people doing fan translations for less known games.

Der Langrisser is the second game... but different. See, where once was a single storyline that forced you to kill some really pretty decent guys in the empire, this game allows you to align with the imperials (but at the cost of then having to kill most of your former allies). Or you can betray the imperials and fight to let chaos overtake the planet, or you can even betray the chaotic faction and fight to literally conquer the world for yourself. This one is also out there in unofficial translation land.

Wheels

That sounds pretty ahead of its time for a 16-bit game. I suppose branching story-lines is much easier to do with SRPGs though. Each storyline could simple mean a different set of battles. I wonder why more of them haven't gone down that route? I'd love to see an SRPG where the results of a huge war can be completely different based on the different battles you take place in, and how well you do.

Langrisser: Dramatic Edition puts the first two games together on CD with some voice acting. Getting hold of it could be interesting, since we've moved into the PS1/Saturn era. I gather the PS1 edition is scarcer. The third game ... is a mess. The story is interesting, but the tactical aspects are marred by HIDEOUS load times (turn the animations off! Save hours!) and the game's propensity to just dump troops anywhere around the map. (You are reading my reviews, right? Otherwise what I say here will be devoid of context).

Wheels

That sounds like the best way to play the first two games, if there was a way to do so in English anyway. Not to mention imported PS1/Saturn games are a bit trickier to play. Since you do say they are import friendly, I may have to track it down regardless. I think I'll try out the second game before thinking about doing so though.

Based on your review, Langrisser 3 sounds horrible!

Game #4 is great stuff. You would want to play this on Saturn though, because its PS1 edition is not only very hard to find, but the battle system has been changed to that of the fifth game, which isn't quite as good. The End of Legend is a worthy sign-off for a great series. Seeing the path taken by the holy sword Langrisser and the chaotic sword Alhazard through the years gets a fine wrap-up. The mechanics of the movement can be a little annoying, that's all.

Wheels

Interesting, I haven't really dipped into Saturn imports, despite still having mine, so this seems like a good excuse to do so. I should probably go about finally getting copies of Shining Force 3 parts 2&3 while I'm at it. I wonder why Working Designs never took a crack at this one? Seems right up their alley.

Oh, and then there's this. I can't bring myself to hate it even though on an objective level it's atrocious, and manages to demean Dragon Force along with disparaging the Langrisser name. It's quite lousy, as the review should make clear. THERE! Aside from the Wonder Swan title, I played and finished everything in the series, so I know what I'm talking about.

Wheels

How can you like something that demeans Dragon Force? Anyway, you certainly know your stuff. If I can find the time to play some of these games, maybe that would even give you the excuse to do a backtrack (assuming you haven't) on this series. I'll give the second game a try and see where I go from there!

Connect Ingrid Bergman to Skies of Arcadia!

Wheels

Why would you do this to me? This is just evil. Fine I'll play your game. Ingrid Bergman plays the role of Joan of Arc in the movie by the same name->Level 5 made the game Joanne D'Arc, based on the same historical figure->Level-5 worked with Microsoft on the canceled title True Fantasy Live Online->Microsoft worked with Sega on the Dreamcast, where some titles used an optimized version of Windows CE->Sega published Skies of Arcadia

China's economy was officially deemed bigger than Japan's in the past year, so do you think Chinese-developed games will ever become a prominent part of the landscape?  Show your work.

Wheels

My answer is no, because they're too busy pirating games, and selling them in various places such as ebay. Didn't expect that answer, did you?

I really didn't gravitate toward Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, but it's been awhile since that was released, and nary a sign of a sequel.  Has Sonic the Hedgehog's one RPG attempt been a failure?

Wheels

I think it has. Not that it was a bad game or anything, but if the Bioware name doesn't draw people to the title, how is any other Sonic RPG going to fair? Of course I could be completely wrong. Perhaps it sold just fine, and the purchase of Bioware by EA put a monkey wrench into them doing a sequel?

Predict!  Will the remake of the second (then-new) half of Fire Emblem 3 (Monshou no Nazo) be localized by a Nintendo that rarely deems knowledge of its upcoming releases vital to anyone?

Wheels

I think it will (did we discuss this already?). Nintendo has been good with the Fire Emblem series since the GBA days, so I can't see why they would skip this one. My guess is they're just waiting for the right time to release it. Perhaps sometime soon now that they have Dragon Quest VI out of the way?

What RPG would you most enjoy giving the MST3K treatment? 

Wheels

Absolutely that would have to be something terrible, so I'm going to go with Cross Edge. It'd be great to watch someone else play that stinker and get to make fun of the awful story and (for some character) terrible voice acting.

Random thought: would any John Grisham book make an RPG?  Except Phoenix Wright, video games stay away from legal shenanigans, after all....

Wheels

I don't think any of them would, but I'm going to go with The Pelican Brief since it has a bit of suspense in it. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone that doesn't know it, so all I'll say is this would provide for a nice adventure game, perhaps with some action segments where you need to escape people trying to kill you. Perhaps there could even be a mode where you play the other side, trying to stop the evidence from getting out there?

All that Langrisser material sucked most of the letter, but I think you have enough content now.

Wheels

I certainly do!

'Til next time

Hark! A Twitter Question!

@AskWheels Whatever happened to the Breath of Fire games? They were always some of my fav RPGs(with the exception of Dragon Quarter).

-bootleg80


Wheels

You didn't like Dragon Quarter? I thought that was the best game in the series. That is probably what did in the series though. Dragon Quarter was such a huge departure from the other games in the series, that I'm not quite sure how Capcom could have expected it to do any better. It sold decently enough in Japan. Regardless of how it sold, it was well liked by critics, and I don't exactly understand why Capcom seems to have just abandoned the series. They've continued to try with Okami despite lackluster sales for example.  I wish I had a better answer for you. At the very least, the release of Breath of Fire III for PSP in Japan/Europe, along with the virtual console release of Breath of Fire II suggest that Capcom hasn't completely forgotten about the series.

IN CLOSING

That's all for this week! Next week will be short, as I'll post the winning pitches in their entirety (without my comments), along with my own pitch for some sequels. Here's how the prize pool will work:

1st Place: Your choice of Ys 1&2 Chronicles, Radiant Historia, or Tactics Ogre PSP
2nd Place: Your choice of Chrono Cross, Tactics Ogre tarot cards, or Shining Force 2 on Steam
3rd Place: Your choice of the remainder of the above 2nd place prizes
4th Place: Whatever is left of the 2nd place prizes

'Til next time!

-Wheels

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