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Pre-PAX Edition
April 6th, 2012

04/06- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another episode of Q&A! I hope you all enjoyed the April Fools column on Sunday! I'm sure any of you without any familiarity with wrestling were a bit lost. Anyway, back to RPGs!

There is plenty to talk about...

The Letters
A my Q Please


I like Mega Man X talk. Before they got to the newest incarnations of ZX and Star Force, I swore by the X and Zero series. I still think it's incredibly impressive that they took Mega Man (read: robot shoots things) and gave it a decent storyline over a number of games. Sure, they play out like a season of NCIS, with some plot in the beginning, middle, and end, and everything else is filler, but the meat in them was GOOD. Zero's continued popularity as a testament to the series' awesomeness!


The stories were far from perfect, but they do what they needed to do: entertain. The Zero series especially was quite good in changing the overall formula for the series and included even more narrative. The series is just fun. I can even sit down with some of the mediocre Mega Man games and have a blast. I think that just shows the quality of the formula. How many series can say that? Fans may complain about repetition, but we'd eat a classic styled Mega Man game right up.

Command Mission was fun. Like you said, it's not minblowing. But it's fun, and the random characters keep it interesting to experiment around. There's also Axl, who I can't seem to count as canon or valid, since the X series had tanked by the time he showed up.


I haven't played Command Mission yet, but it seems like a simple good time, and did feature some developers from the Breath of Fire series I believe. Then again I paid less than $10 for it so my expectations are probably much lower than when the game first came out! Anyway, what happened to the X series? I don't think the latter PS2 games did that bad, but the series just fell off the face of the earth. Not that its a big deal since the Zero games came out by then.

Do you have any pets? And if you do, have you named them after a video game or movie or something? I'm pet starved since I move around a lot, and the longer I go without a pet the more of them I want. But I've got it stuck in my head that I need a really cool (dorky) naming scheme for them, like get 3 cats and name them Lenneth, Silmeria and Hrist or something.


I currently have a cat, but he's named Oliver after the classic Oliver and Company (he's an orange cat). Back when I lived with my parents we did have a cat named Shadow, but I didn't get to name it and I'm not sure if my brother was thinking of Final Fantasy VI while naming her. Anyway, I'm all for giving pets names from video games!

What would you say... to someone who doesn't love the Tales series, but feels like he should try again? I played Symphonia. It was fine. It was ridiculously too long, and all the peripheral game systems of cooking and little scenes and bonuses upon completion for New Game + mode kinda didn't interest me. Is this something that can be gotten over with others in the series, or is our love just not meant to be?


I would say you should give the series another try, but you should be very selective about it. The Tales games are often very long (though not always as long as I hear Symphonia is). I think Tales of Graces F would be a good one to play as it has a fantastic battle system and reigns in the peripheral game systems such as titles to more tightly integrate with character development and combat. It is also not overly long. Tales of the Abyss also recently came out on 3DS, but that also has the problem of being a bit too long. So, try Tales of Graces F!

In conclusion, I've written you a haiku puzzle. It describes an RPG, and you have to guess which RPG it is. I tried to do something easy since I'll probably botch it and describe 17 different games. This could be a 7 degrees replacement if it's amusing, if not then thanks for being a sport!

"A world of magic
Empire controlled by death
One hero must part."

Have a good weekend!



I approve of this new challenge! I'm finding this one tough, as there are several different games this could describe. My first guess would have been Final Fantasy VI, but then I don't think "Empire controlled by death" really fits there. You know what, I'm just going to guess that. Nothing else seems to fit for me right now!

Falcom Land

Hey Wheels,

I hear you're going to Orlando in April!  Well, OK, I heard because you told me.  Anyway, this has inspired me to ask: if you could make an amusement park ride out of an RPG, what would it be, and what would the ride be like?


I think I would go simple and make some kind of thrill ride based around the Ys series. It could be something like Space Mountain only instead of zipping around in the dark you zip through various locales from the series. The ride would of course be accompanied by various rocking musical tracks from the series. You could also go simpler than that and just make a roller-coaster that plays Ys tunes while you ride.

My ride would be based on Xenoblade Chronicles, which I'm so happy to see coming out in North America very soon now.  Riders will be placed in cars shaped like nopon hot air ballons, and soar through the air above the beautiful landscape of the Bionis.  Of course, there will be close calls with angry flying mechon and other enemies that would be spoilers to mention at this point.  I imagine it sort of like a cross between Disney's Peter Pan and Indiana Jones rides.



That sounds incredible. What Indiana Jones ride though? Is that something that's only in Disneyland in California? I don't recall ever seeing that in Orlando. Anyway, that sounds like an amazing ride given the many cool locations in the game. You could even model the waiting area around one of the towns in the game. Perhaps Nintendo needs to make their own theme park and put this there?

Return of the SaGa

Hey Wheels, guess who just got his internet back!

Wow, lots of talk about MegaTen bosses lately, huh?  I didn't find the final boss of P3 to be all that difficult, but then again I took outrageous advantage of the game's Shuffle Time bonus system and the high-level encounters in the Monad Depths.  Level 72 party + level 95 monsters + sneak attack + elemental weakness exploits + three tens of clubs in Shuffle Time (gotta love the One More Chance feature) = around 28,000 experience points in one go.  My main beef with the final boss wasn't that she was tough, but that she didn't change forms at all as she cycled through the first thirteen greater arcana.


Welcome back to the internet!

I guess the problem I had with that boss is simply that I was playing the game on hard. Even after grinding there were still times the boss could wipe my party. I'm reasonably sure that boss could hand out most of the status ailments that exist in the game! I agree on your last part as well, would have been cool if the boss changed its appearance to match each arcana.

But a MegaTen boss that I absolutely hated?  There was one in Soul Hackers that fits that description.  Let me introduce you to the terror that is Skippy the Wonder Dolphin.


I don't even know what to say about the name. They really named a boss that? Anyway, I tried to search for a picture of it and failed.

Now, much of Soul Hackers takes place in a pseudo-virtual world, and Skippy inhabits a painting within a virtual gallery in that world. Whenever he finds a lonely, receptive soul enjoying his painting, he pulls it into his personal domain and together they have tons of fun until the victim's body in the real world expires.  He's just done that to the hero's little sister.  Dolphins are normally jerks, but angelic dolphins with halos and wings?  Doubly so.


Dolphins are normally jerks? I don't know about that. Perhaps you've just met the wrong dolphins? Anyway, this sounds like a strange boss. An angelic dolphin sucking people into his painting within a digital world?

At first glance Skippy doesn't look all that tough.  His physical attacks hit hard, but not too hard.  His water attacks consume so much MP that he can only use them a few times over the course of the battle.  His hypnosis attack is annoying, but can be dealt with.  And he only has a few hundred hit points.  So what's the problem?  He absorbs magic.  ALL magic. And then converts it into health.  His natural defense stat is really high as well, meaning even the strongest demons available at the time only do nickel and dime damage.


So essentially its a battle of attrition then? You've got to hack away at his HP slowly and keep yourself healed? Doesn't sound too crazy. I guess it could become tough if he takes out your stronger demons or something.

Here's a fun fact about damage absorption in Soul Hackers though. The absorbed health does not cap off at the character's max HP.  Instead, the demon is allowed to go well over 100% of its own health when absorbing elemental damage.  The tradeoff is that if enough energy is stored up in this manner, the demon may self-destruct.  I really wish I'd known this when I first fought Skippy.  Since I'm thinking of taking on this game again this year, I might just have to test this tactic out and see if it works on him like I think it does.

Boom, boom, bye, bye, dolphin.


That's odd. I guess that's likely the intended strategy to defeat him? Heal him with elements attacks until he explodes? That poor innocent dolphin. What did he ever do to you? Oh right, the whole murdering of the sister...

Okay, now for a challenge!  All this talk of villains has made me think up a new one.  To quote Roger Ebert:

"Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph."

Substitute "game" for "film" and you get the idea.  While not all RPGs actually require villains (see the Atelier series), many of the most cherished games also have the most memorable baddies.  So, the challenge is to create a villain and then build up a plot around him, her, or it.

Have fun with this one!
Your fellow columnist,


I love this challenge! I'm hoping some readers will come up with some entries for this one. I'll be away the week after next so I will try and get something to you before then. This could be fun. I'm thinking perhaps I could mix together the Joker and Kefka to make someone truly evil!

Arch-Duke of Content (Part 1 of Part 2)

Mr. Spinning Wheels!

friendOfAgnes, we shall see how I stand on further Megami Tensei venturing.  What I've heard about the first Devil Survivor doesn't make me eager to try it any time soon, as it offers a very similar experience to the one that just infuriated me so much in its sequel according to a couple of people whose stances I know well.   The thrill of white-knuckle theatrics in the eleventh hour doesn't do it for me anymore, so games that steadily increase in frustration as they proceed aren't things I readily approach.  We'll see what happens in the future, that's all.


Well perhaps you'd be better off trying something from a different SMT sub-series then? I'm thinking perhaps some proper SMT titles might work? Strange Journey on DS or Nocturne on PS2 can both fill that. They certainly are far from easy games, but I think you may find them interesting to delve into. You could also give the Persona games a try, as I'm sure you know the third and fourth titles are quite popular on RPGamer.

Okay, Mr. Q&A host.  You've never seen a Cary Grant movie?  Intolerable!  I'll just run down all the ones I remember and one of them (at least!) will be seen by you in the very near future!  Get your wife in on the fun, Cary Grant sure as hell isn't less popular among the ladies.

Topper is a fine screwball comedy.  The premise is simple enough: Cary Grant and wife Constance Bennett are extremely lightweight partiers who get themselves killed but can't stop being ghosts until they help someone.  At least, that's their interpretation.  Their choice is Mr. Topper (Roland Young), a supremely hen-pecked husband who manages the bank where they stored their money until the untimely demise.  Doesn't make much sense if you stop to think, but it's funny.

The Awful Truth is another good screwball in which Cary and wife Irene Dunne almost divorce but think better of it after some craziness.  Bringing up Baby is a superb screwball that involves Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, a tame leopard in the wilds of Connecticut that responds to a song, and madcap hijinks all over the place.  Thinking hard about it does no one any good.  One more really good screwball: His Girl Friday, in which Rosalind Russell is enticed back to work on just one more story at the newspaper Cary Grant edits before her wedding to someone who isn't the star - their relationship was on the rocks, y'see.  No points in guessing how it ends, the fun is seeing it happen. 

There's also Arsenic and Old Lace, which is very popular on the stage and offers a great showcase of how good Cary Grant was at this screwball stuff - watch him bugging his eyes out after being bound and gagged by Raymond Massey while Peter Lorre looks on.  Sounds unfunny, but definitely in context it's hilarious.  One other comedy, though not really a screwball, is The Philadelphia Story, in which he and Katherine Hepburn are an estranged couple and she's also in a family that the reporters have been wanting to learn about for years - so off goes James Stewart to learn more. 

Not in the screwball mood?  Well, you might like Gunga Din, in which Cary is one of a trio of soldiers trying to deal with a nasty cult in India during the 1830s.  It might even be the same cult Indiana Jones tackled in Temple of Doom, the resemblances are many.  It's a little dated in the early going but gets involving quickly.  Or Only Angels Have Wings, where he runs a mail shipment service on a Caribbean island prone to bad weather.  That'd be a great way to learn about Jean Arthur too, as the woman who puts her unformed plans on hold to spend awhile on that island with Cary. 

His first Hitchcock collaboration, Suspicion, in which Joan Fontaine falls for him and subsequently starts to wonder if he might be going to kill her, is good.  Better is his second Hitchcock collaboration, Notorious, in which Ingrid Bergman is sent to spy on a nest of ex-Nazis in Argentina right after the war and Cary is her contact.  To Catch a Thief is a pure lark involving Cary and Grace Kelly as cat burglars on the Riviera, but it's fun.  Or there's the justly famous North by Northwest, which is just a blast of how to make an action movie that doesn't feel stupid in any respect - a skill increasingly missing among today's filmmakers, sadly. 

I could go on, but this is a good list to pick something from.   Which you're going to do right now, of course.  No waiting!

Now that that's done, describe to me one reason my visceral hatred for Rogue-likes is unfounded.  I don't really care if the three I sampled years ago weren't very good, the playing mechanic just sparks a reptile-brain trigger inside me that equates to instant rage with no cure.


Well that certainly leaves me with a ton of options. I think I'll start with that movie that takes place in Connecticut and go from there. Perhaps after a few of these I'll be able to answer your question from last week! If not, I guess I'll just have to watch the entire library.

So how goes the Lunar: Silver Star playthrough?  Had you ever played this story before?  Isn't it sad that the Saturn remake was going to be localized until Working Designs and Sega had a nasty falling-out and it wound up on PlayStation a couple years later instead?


I'm taking my time with it, but its moving along. It has a nice brisk pace and combat is really fast, but I found the need to grind in the trial caves before the magic city. I've overcome that hurdle however and I'm moving along (despite seeing some awful jokes that have not aged well). I hope to have that reviewed in a few weeks. It's very sad we never got the Saturn version, as I would have loved one of those huge Saturn cases with a nice Working Designs manual. Still, there's nothing wrong with the PlayStation version. I'd like to know exactly what the falling out was, given there's some colorful stories about Working Designs!

Wibblefish: yours is a story I can abstractly admire without ever wanting to emulate.  One run through the two Shenmue games was quite enough for me.  Sure, the locations are more interesting to explore than just walking around the streets surrounding my own residence, but this probably shows why I never played many adventure games.



Well there are some adventure games that provide much more interesting locales to explore. Still I get what you mean. What's the point in exploring some well crafted areas if they aren't interesting? This is what Shenmue failed to do for many. If the games were more like Yakuza I think they would have done much better.

That's it for this week!

See you all next week.


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