THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 






Affiliates
extralife
metacritic
AnimeBooks
AnimeNation
GameMusic.com
Play-Asia.com

Send a Q&A Letter Send Wheels a Tweet
The Archives

ASK WHEELS
Q&A Raider
  March 8th, 2013

03/08- 7:00PM EST

Welcome to another episode of Ask Wheels! I finally finished that Elminage game, so I can now fully apply my attention to finishing Fire Emblem Awakening and Etrian Odyssey IV. Soon I'll be hunting all the monsters I can handle. If you've got a Wii U and will be getting Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate let me know so we can swap Nintendo IDs.

Anyway, time for the letters -- we've got some hot topics this week!





The Letters
A Fable Better Left Untold

Hey Wheels. Iíve been meaning to write something for the Q&A for a while, and after our discussion on Twitter yesterday here I am. Before I get to the main subject, I want to talk about Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter since you also mentioned it on Twitter. It seems to get quite a bit of hate from what Iíve seen. Whether itís because of the different setting or d-counter system, Iím not sure but personally I enjoyed it. The battle system was interesting and the d-counter added some tension to the game, with the threat of instant death being ever present. Now then, onto the main subject.


Wheels

I completely agree. It's a challenging game, but the battle system is fantastic, the story is great, and the audio/visual quality just make it that much better. It's one of my favorite games of all time!

While I usually stick to JRPGs most of the time, I enjoy quite a few western RPGs like Skyrim and Mass Effect. One WRPG series Iím not fond of however is Fable. While theyíre not the worst RPGs Iíve ever played, each game in the series is more disappointing than the last.


Wheels

Well, I said on twitter I would play devil's advocate and try and argue that Fable is great, but this may prove to be quite difficult. I was just as disappointed as you as the series went on, and it really wasted some good potential. Anyway, let's dig in!

The first game was a fairly solid title that, while nothing special, was enjoyable enough for me to complete. Even though I liked it, the first Fable didnít reach my (somewhat lofty) expectations. This is mainly due Molyneux making it out to be more than it ended up being. Itís a shame that he didnít learn his lesson with the sequels, with more broken promises and missing features. Each subsequent game in the series also felt more dumbed down, with aspects like combat feeling especially lightweight.


Wheels

I actually thought the first Fable was quite good, but not due to the aspects of the game that were most talked about. I found the combat to be an absolute blast, with a lot of different ways to play, and a great variety of spells to play around with. The story and morality choices were mostly underdeveloped which were supposed to be the big drawing points of the game. Without the lofty expectations created by Molyneux, Fable would likely have gotten a far better reaction.

The series lost me right away in the second game. The combat had lost all its teeth and the other aspects were that much better than the original, making it a mostly boring experience. Oh what could have been!

At this point, Iím not really sure if I want the Fable series to continue. While it could be interesting to have someone else handle a new title, itíd probably be best if they just spent their time working on a new IP, or something else more worthwhile. In the end, at least the games were enjoyable enough, something to play without having to think too much.


Wheels

Oh right, I'm supposed to be playing devil's advocate! Fable works as sort of an RPG-lite, and it does seem to attract an audience less interested in the hardcore intricacies often present in RPG combat. So the audience looking for interesting moral choices and easy and fun combat gets just that out of Fable. We just aren't those people!

On a completely unrelated note, have you got Etrian Odyssey IV? I recently imported the third game which Iím really enjoying, but I wanted to know what the latest one is like. Iím assuming itís pretty much more of the same, which is fine by me. Still, Iím a little disappointed that the soundtrack feels less oldschool to me, replaced by more orchestral tracks. In the end, itís nice to see that Etrian Odyssey is finally seeing some love in Europe again, since itís a series that Iíve always enjoyed.

- Isaac


Wheels

I did pick it up! It is actually not just more of the same as it so turns out. I can assure you for starters that you shouldn't worry about the new soundtrack. It's brilliant, and compliments the new elements and graphics perfectly. Just picture fully orchestrated versions of classic Etrian Odyssey music. As for the new aspects, the selection of classes has been revamped with some more thoughtfully designed skill trees so that even returning classes feel new. The airship travel functions as a world map, and there are smaller dungeons to explorer in addition to the classic larger ones that seem to serve as the stratum of this title. The graphics have been updated so that this truly feels like a next gen Etrian Odyssey instead of just the usual retro styled romp. Of course the classic dungeon crawling challenge is still there, just bigger and better than ever. Etrian Odyssey IV provides an amazing template by which the series can expand and grow in the future. I'm very glad Europe won't be missing out. Anyway, thanks for the letter. Sorry I couldn't provide a better defense for Fable!

Breath of Fire: No Quarter

I have loved Breath of Fire and RPGs in general for as long as I can remember. When I read this page, I felt an obligation to reply myself.

This is why Dragon Quarter missed the mark.


Wheels

Alright then, I've been looking forward to this!

Bring It On

The fans of Dragon Quarter like to refer to the graphics, the story and the challenge. But lets be honest here.

Breath of Fire 1 - 4 had GREAT stories. A major gripe with many fans was not only the lack on continuity, but taking the history of the game they loved and for the most part disregarding it.


Wheels

I'm not quite sure what you're referring to here. Yes, the first four games provided some sense that the games were connected and possibly in the same world, but there was never anything overt about it. For the most part they were completely different stories with similar elements to them, just like many JRPGs of the time did. Dragon Quarter absolutely told a far different style of tale, but it was completely devoid of elements present in the first four titles. Also, given the underground setting, Dragon Quarter could easily fit into the continuity as a look at the past or future of Breath of Fire's world.

The main character Ryu V isn't even a full blooded dragon anymore. He's a hybrid and the game actively discourages you from using your dragon form, even though the original 4 games centered around it and it was part of what made them so popular. While Dragon Quarter did have a great story, it is a popular opinion that it would have done better as a spin off title in a series of it's own. Thus leaving room for a more 'fitting' Breath of Fire 5 for fans of the original 4 and paving way for Dragon Quarter 2 for fans of DQ.


Wheels

Well there's a multitude of issues here. For starters the full blooded dragon argument makes no sense to me. Why does that make it less of a Breath of Fire game? Ryu isn't a carbon copy of previous Ryus every time, so a non-full blooded dragon doesn't seem out of the question at all.

As for the original for games being centered around dragon form, I would say that's highly debatable. We're here to talk about Dragon Quarter though, so I will say that you are wrong and dragon form is absolutely right at the heart of the game. It doesn't actively discurouge you from using dragon form. Instead, given the danger it presents, it becomes a tool of last resort that must be managed very careful. Deciding the right times to use it is a central part of the game, and thus serves as more of central mechanic than many previous titles.

As for the idea that it should have been a side entry or different series, the Breath of Fire series was never big enough to support supplementary titles. Besides, despite being a radically different game, the heart and soul of the series is still there, and there's no way it would have sold at all as a separate non-series title. Dragon Quarter is Breath of Fire V, and not just in name.

On to the graphics. While the cell shading was well implemented, not a lot of the game resembled the originals in terms of character design and art style. This bugged many people. One cannot call it bad though. Dragon Quarter was visually stunning, but again would likely have done better as a spin off title rather then a series installment. It was a big change from a game series that many people liked as it was.

The overhead view and sprites were so beloved that the style was kept throughout the PSX era while other popular RPG series (Final Fantasy) went 3D and had alternating camera angles.


Wheels

Again with this idea. Dragon Quarter would not have done better as a spin-off. Art styles often change with new improved technology, and Dragon Quarter is no exception. While the series avoided the switch to 3D on PS1, there was no way to avoid it on PS2. This is another complaint I don't quite get. Ryu looks instantly recognizable, and the character designs aren't a giant deviation from the series past. They just aren't sprites, and thus are naturally going to feel very different. I bet with more experience with the technology under their belt they could have made an even more amazing looking Breath of Fire game possibly further capturing the spirit of the old artwork in cell shaded 3D. Most RPG series made the jump to 3D graphics when the PS2 rolled around, and this series was no exception. Fans should have been overjoyed that the end result was so fantastic, regardless of whether or not it strictly resembled the sprites of games past. Had the series stayed 2D I guarantee the series would have tanked even harder.

On to the challenge. While hardcore Dragon Quarter fans loved the challenge, for the most part, it was not received well. Being forced to replay the game over and over and over is NOT grinding, it's replaying the game.. over and over. It's extremely tiresome. Not to mention that your EXP doesn't transfer over, only your party EXP does. While some people may have enjoyed this, the game was made in a way that people would find it impossible to even reach halfway without starting over and that lost the series many fans. A lot of people don't want max stats. Some just want to play through the story and being forced to replay the game caused a loss of interest.

I myself finished it. I even managed a 1/4 D ratio with a struggle but it wasn't really an enjoyable experience in the end. In retrospect it was annoying.


Wheels

There are some major problems with your statements here. For starters, you say "replaying the game," which is not accurate since you're only replaying up until the point you died or chose to restart. Further, many shortcuts are opened so that there are large chunks that you don't replay. So, I don't see how this is far different from grinding. The average playthrough is only going to require maybe two to four restarts, with one at least likely to happen earlier on so there isn't much to replay. I'm not sure what you mean by maxing stats though, as there's no requirement to do so.

I am glad that at the very least you gave the game a chance, unlike many.

A few other things to mention:
- You are discouraged from hard saving it as it will effect your D Ratio. The only way to make a perfect save is to NOT hard save ever.
This was absolutely pointless.

- Nothing should ever hinder the ability to save. I'm not saying that we should all be able to save wherever we want at any point in time, but when you only get save points in a game you know you're going to die in long before you finish it. Well, it's a bit harsh for non-hardcore RPG fans and isn't hard to see why a lot of people couldn't appreciate it.

- Traditionally Breath of Fire had a large interchangeable party with many members from different tribes. In Dragon Quarter you only have Lab Experiment Nina and what the woren clan apparently looks like in the future.

- Dragon Quarter was the first in the series to not include fishing.

- The Ant Farm was actually quite good but if used in conjunction with a buildable town would've likely done even better.

- No world map was a major grip. While the game is set underground, a world map may have been a difficult endeavor but something like Metroid series maps would have sufficed.

- Restarting the game with the same stats completely would have been better received. Afterall, that is essentially NG+

- Having D Ratio upgrade via an entire playthrough would have made people replay the game without having to get halfway and start over. That also would've been received better.


Wheels

I will counter these point by point:

- Not in a way that impacts the average player. Getting a higher D Ratio was mostly optional and not essential to beating and enjoying the game. From my experience hard saving doesn't make the game harder and didn't affect my playthrough in any negative way at all.

- Except that nothing hampers the player's ability to save, it just uses saves in a different manor than other games. There are suspend saves (unless you have the PAL edition), limited hard saves, and the option to restart thus providing a hard save. I understand why it can frustrate people given the challenge, but saying the game hampers your ability to save is actually not true.

- What's your point here? Changing cast size is not a new thing for JRPGs. A small party fits the story and world more than an a huge cast would so I don't see the issue. The cast should fit the game's style and story, and not be large just for the sake of being large. I think previous entries fell into this trap, with some superfluous and underdeveloped characters.

- The fishing game was actually original in Dragon Quarter, but was cut near the end of development. No one plays these games to fish though, so who cares?

- The ant farm was a far better diversion than any fishing mini-game.

- Complaining about the lack of world maps is a major pet peeve of mine. There a nice feature in games with large world to explore, but not every game needs them, nor should they be expected to have them.

- It may have, but it would have been a worse game for it.

- Again with this "start over" stuff. Starting over in Dragon Quarter is not the same as starting over in other games and that's the whole point of its systems. I again need to point out that the number of "restarts" required for most players wont be a huge amount. It is also mitigated by the extra story sequence that can be discovered, alternate paths that can be taken, and the shortcuts that allow for skipping many areas.

For these reasons Dragon Quarter has been labeled the series killer. And it's not hard to see why.
While it was a good game in itself, it should have been it's own series rather then following Breath of Fire IV.

That way it wouldn't have had such expectations and disappointment. It was a huge change of form from a beloved series.


Wheels

Beloved series? Sorry, but "beloved series" don't fade away due to one entry that suffers poor sales. Breath of Fire was never huge, or beloved. I don't buy that a traditional Breath of Fire wouldn't have killed the series all the same. Dragon Quarter is a Breath of Fire game and removing the series title would have doomed it to absolute and completely undeserved obscurity. I mean, you make it sound like they Shining Force Neo-ed the series or something.

To summarize,
Yes, Dragon Quarter was a good game, it was challenging and it was innovative. The story was great and the character design and overall graphics were brilliant. But on the whole, it doesn't hold a candle to the original series nor do it justice. In fact it took a tried and true brilliant battle system and progressive story and butchered it. Of course, that's only when you consider it a series entry. I like to see it as simply "Breath of Fire - Dragon Quarter" and drop the "V" entirely to delude myself and make the game seem better.

- Shade


Wheels

It holds a candle to the original series, and even offered glimpses of how new and old could be meshed together in the future. In fact it completely eclipsed them by creating one of the best and most unique RPG experiences of all time. If fans can't get past the fact that a game is both radically new, and still at its heart a Breath of Fire game, then frankly the series deserves to die.

Romancing Fantasy XIII

Hey Wheels (or whomever is running the show):

Been a while since I sent a letter, so I thought I'd bug you.

Truth be said I haven't been playing many RPGs lately, due to the fact I've been waiting for Metal Gear Rising's release...that, and I haven't finished playing Final Fantasy XIII-2 yet.


Wheels

Ah Metal Gear Rising, another game in a good year for action titles! I'm going to have to try that at some point. Anyway, let's talk about Final Fantasy XIII-2 and such

But, well, since I've beaten Metal Gear Rising (and still waiting for some extra content), I've decided I've got some catching up to do.

Thing that bothers me though, lately, is that a lot of DLC (downloadable content) tends to make itself harder than I am capable of obtaining.

Here's an example:

I'm playing XIII-2 and I decided to pick up Jihl Nabaat as an add-on DLC assist character. I figured I'd do that as a joke-nod to Aerith (FF7, she's dead, Jihl's dead but she's DLC, get it? Resurrecting Jihl). But, as I soon found out, Jihl is no pushover. You have to BEAT her and HOPE you can get her crystal to join your party.

Same goes for the Lightning versus Caius DLC that came out not long afterwards.

It seems like every DLC they give us lately is something we have to EARN and work hard for...what the heck?


Wheels

Yeah, DLC in some cases that is very tough to access or complete can feel like a waste of money. It's especially bad in FFXIII-2 because they provide characters you can add to your party, but obtaining those characters isn't always feasible until the end of the game. At that stage, what's the point of getting new characters even if one of them is the amazing Ultros? I was very disappointed.

Okay, granted, I am not a lazy individual, but when it comes to Active Time Battle (or the equivalent) I have an extremely hard time fighting certain bosses or jumping through the flaming hoops that current-gen games present to me, just to obtain the content I so carefully purchased with my wallet. Why so difficult?

Maybe I'm just getting too old...I dunno.


Wheels

No, It's not just you; the DLC bosses were far too hard.

Part of the reason I like Disgaea, really, is that the character art designs look EXACTLY as they appear in-game. True, that never used to be, but with PS3 graphics, it's never been a better time to enjoy those games and the diversity and time consuming they represent.

It's my wish that more RPGs took this route. Less super-deformed chibis, more well-designed excellence with gameplay to match that quality. The artists for the Langrisser and Grandia games for example...such beautiful artwork wasted on teeny tiny pixels. They need to ramp up the graphics for such games, really.


Wheels

Graphical consistency is something more games need to achieve. Remember the old Final Fantasy manuals with art of the characters that didn't look anything like their in game designs? You're right on the money here. There are many amazing artists involved in JRPG development and too often their art doesn't properly translate in-game.

I'd also like to see Vagrant Story's gothic-comic-book style make a comeback too. Imagine what that game would be like in High Definition, heck, if Final Fantasy Tactics took that route or looked the same quality as any current-gen Final Fantasy?


Wheels

Matsuno is not even currently working on anything! I would absolutely love some HD remakes of Ivalice games, and I think there's an audience there to support them. Come on Square-Enix, nevermind that HD update of Final Fantasy X!

Another thing that seems to feel like it's missing from RPGs (at least in my eyes), 'unburdened' romance.

By that I mean, in most RPGs there's some complication or some THING that gets in the way of a lovely couple.  It seems like it gets worse and worse with every new iteration.

If you've seen Snow and Serah in Final Fantasy XIII...you 'know' what I'm talking about. Weren't those two supposed to get married? Didn't Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockheart become a couple? The last 'good' couple I heard of was Squall and Rinoa, and they aren't exactly perfect either.


Wheels

Yeah, there never seem to be resolved romances in most RPG romances for that matter. For example, Locke and Celes, for instance, appear to have a romantic relationship, though it lacks resolution. These relationships don't seem to be mature. Who's writing this stuff?

All I see is fighting and arguments and implications that couples don't get along.

What the heck? Where's the love?

For that matter, where's the Dating-sims?

The last game I heard that had something equivalent to a Dating Sim was "Catherine". But that was more of a puzzle game than an RPG.


Wheels

I don't know if I'd even qualify Catherine as a dating sim, but yeah -- that's about the closest thing we've gotten.

I haven't played the Ar Tornelico games, much less Agarest War, the Atelier games, or Thousand Arms...but I would like to see a more pronounced and integrated dating system in an RPG...even if it's just a fan-service side quest that has no bearing on the full game (and no, Star Ocean's multiple endings don't really count).


Wheels

None of those games have anything approaching a pronounced dating sim. Ar Tonelico gives the illusion that it does, but mostly it's a way to explore the sub-conscious personality of characters and doesn't have any real choices. None of these games approach the subject with much in the way of maturity.

I've been out of the RPG loop I guess, but it just seems like RPGs could use a bit more artistic spice and romantic flavor. Heck, I'd go NUTS if you could date one of the Valkyries in the next Valkyrie Profile. Most of the women in VP2 were quite beautiful (if you ignored their PS2 copycat models and focused on the artwork, hence my complaint earlier).


Wheels

I wonder if we'll ever even see another Valkyrie Profile game!

If you know of any games that defy or exceed my expectations, let me know, I'd love to try them!


Wheels

Assuming we're still talking about the dating sim elements, I do not know of any such games. Maybe see if the romances in Dragon Age Origins suite your tastes? You may also find the Ar Tonelico games to your liking regardless of the dating aspect.

Any news on Final Fantasy Versus XIII would also be welcome, too. I'm expecting God-father Level Epic Romance from that game (also hoping Noctis makes it to the roster of any future Dissidia games)


Wheels

I'd just like to be able to play that game! We've been teased with it for so long, I hope this E3 finally gives us all the details and a firm release date. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets pushed to next-gen consoles at this point. More importantly, I hope it's good.

The Jury's still out on Lightning Returns though. The plot for that game has me laughing (13 days till the end of the world, then they remake a new one and move everyone there...Haha, that's like moving out of an old apartment, seriously...read the summary of that story-line).

Yours truly,
--Mimeblade


Wheels

The Final Fantasy XIII storyline lost me as soon as it starting delving into nonsensical time travel in XIII-2. XIII had some very interesting lore behind it, so where the heck did they go wrong? I hope Lightning Returns has some different writers on it, but by the sound of the description you just gave me, I'm not holding out much hope.

Fire Emblem: Mars Awakening

@AskWheels random connect thought for Q&A: connect FE:Awakening to the Mars Land rover

@Whynothealthnow


Wheels

This is actually a bit easier than I expected! Fire Emblem: Awakening is published by Nintendo -> Nintendo made the N64 -> Red Storm made Rainbow Six for the N64 -> The CEO of Virtual Heroes. Inc use to work for Red Storm -> Virtual Heroes Inc. makes the NASA published Moonbase Alpha game -> NASA operates the Mars Land rover
IN CLOSING

See you next week!

-Wheels


Send a Letter!

Most Recent

 
February 8th: Wheels
February 15th: Wheels
February 22nd: Wheels
March 1st: Wheels

Links

About the Host

Quote Archives



What I Can't Wait For:

1. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

2. Soul Hackers

3. Ys Vita

4. Tomb Raider

5. Tales of Xillia

On my Playlist:

1. Green Day

2. Blink 182

3. Less Than Jake

4. Queen

5. Gravity Rush Soundtrack

Hot Topics:

1. Does the success of XCOM indicate main stream turn-based games are still possible?

2. Will Dragon Quest VII 3DS come to the West?

3. Where will Dragon Age 3 take the series?

4. Will Camelot do another RPG in the near future?

5. No seriously guys, where is my danged Thief 4?
 
© 1998-2013 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy