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ASK WHEELS
Resonance of Q&A
April 14th, 2011

04/14- 12:00PM EST

   This week, I spent a bit of time writing my first review, and it was an interesting experience. Certainly a much different beast compared to writing Q&A! Anyway, you can check it out if you're interested in my detailed thoughts on Crystal Bearers. This week, we've got a lot of great questions, including one from twitter, which I hope will continue to be a regular occurrence. I think I'm addicted to twitter. Enough of that though, on to your questions!





The Letters
Resonance of Radiata

Hey Wheels,

wrote in the first time after the Q & A resurrection but haven't written after that first time, busy with my study etc., although there is of course no excuse not to write in :)

As promised through Twitter, I would write something about Radiant Historia haha :)

Really, this game does everything right for me. When it was announced, people called it a second hand Chrono Trigger (really, I read that somewhere on a forum when the first trailer were released) but that does not do justice to the game at all. But that's just how it goes, a game with time-travel elements get released and people go: "Is it like Chrono???" haha. The parallel time-lines in which you travel feel so tight and coherent (don't know if this sounds silly, I'm not a native English speaker :) ), next to the battlesystem which really remains fun. It took a while for me to figure out that you can shuffle around your turn to create combo's (somehow I never read manuals), but there really is a huge strategic depth to it that is very accessible at the same time. I am surprised that this game isn't a major hit. Then again, maybe it is and I just don't know about since here in Europe everything Atlus releases is pretty niche :)


Wheels

Hey it's OK! I know sometimes it's tough to come up with some good questions to write in. If you're busy though, you can always e-mail or or tweet me some short questions!

Anyway, let's gush about Radiant Historia, shall we?

I must say, when the first details came out, I wasn't that interested due to the involvement of former tri-Ace staff (this is prior to me playing Resonance of Fate).  Calling it second hand Chrono Trigger is silly, and I'm sure most people saw this very quickly.  There are some similarities sure, but by and large Historia is its own beast. I love the switching around between the two timelines, even if the game is more linear than you'd expect from this concept (I'm trying to avoid direct story talk here as to not spoil anything). You can tell from the graphics the game didn't have the biggest budget, but that hardly matters. Atlus' developers once again have created a fantastic RPG. I agree about combat, it's nice and straight forward, but with enough depth to make it quite meaty and fun. I was quite impressed from the start.

As for how it's selling, I can't say how it sold in Europe (was it officially released there are you talking about importing it?), but it went on back order a lot of places here pretty quickly, so that seems to indicate it at least sold as much as Atlus was expecting.

But what do you think, is there a possibility for this to become a franchise? Is it even something that we should want or is it better to just have this game and treasure it as a one-of-a-kind experience? Personally I really like the idea of branching paths in the storyline. Also, it just begs for a franchise that tie in with previous installments. You know, a sort of "what if..." sequel for example. Also, I am happy to have pre-ordered the game, and so I also have the soundtrack which is so good!


Wheels

I think it could easily be a franchise if Atlus wanted to go in that direction. I'm not sure whether or not that would mean connected sequels or unrelated sequels, but I think it's clear that time travel is a concept that people love to see in games. With nice 2D sprites they can keep development costs down, and perhaps at some point do a more elaborate sequel if the games do well. I mean, if Etrian Odyssey can find a profitable niche for Atlus, I'm sure they could do the same for Radiant Historia.

The soundtrack is great, I am a bit sad that the pre-order bonus CD was just a few piano tracks. I'd love to have the full thing!

I see one of your hot topics is about Resonance of Fate! Another favorite of mine! I am a big Valkyrie Profile-fan and weird as it may sound, this is kind of the closest thing to it available now, although I still hope for a Valkyrie Profile 2: Hrist announcement in the near future. I do think there is a future for this (type of) RPG. Not sure if a direct sequel would be a good idea. If they do, they definitely have to change a lot of aspects. For example, I really disliked the idea of switching weapon-types between characters just so you could have a descent enough level with every character. You weren't forced to do this of course but still, the weapon equipmentsystem seemed to be designed in a strange way, as if they wanted to do more with it, but somehow forgot about it. Also, there was so much more there could be done story-wise. The game remained kind of lighthearted, while there was some pretty serious stuff going on in the game. The last thing I really want them to change is that overworld. I want to see my characters move in an overworld. It would be so much better if the world in Resonance of Fate was totally connected and not a loose set of areas.
Now I sound pretty negative but overall I really like the game! It is something pretty different. That battlesystem or at least variations of it, really holds potential in my opinion. Also, it just looks really stylish. Slow motion in games just never gets old! :)

Anyway, was nice writing again! Cheers!

Peter/7threst


Wheels

I can appreciate some of the things you didn't like about Resonance of Fate. Having to switch around weapons to make characters level up quicker is kind of odd. I'd like to play through it again at some point, this time not switching weapons at all and seeing how difficult it is. Not a huge issues though, as combat is just so unique and challenging that this never really bothered me. I loved the combat so much in fact, that I did the majority of the side quests, and that's something I never do in games! I liked the over-world as well. Your idea would be cool, just making the world a huge interconnected set of areas instead of having a world map, but I really like how they tried something different with the hex system.  Maybe they could somehow do both?

As for the story, they could have made things a lot more clear, and I'd like to see that improved upon if they do a direct sequel. Still, they did a fantastic job in focusing the story on developing the main characters, and the localization is absolutely fantastic. I honestly don't think I could play it in Japanese after listening to the great English voice cast. I know Sega kind of botched the marketing and such for the game, but at least they did a great job with the localization.

Finally, Resonance of Fate just oozes style!

Great to hear from you again, don't be a stranger!


Video Q&A Response

There is a 1/64 chance of encountering Warmech according to everything I can find on the subject. You were lied to by the person who said it was 1/63. However, you guessed 1/4000, so shame on you.

-KLitke


Wheels

Ha! Good to see I wasn't the only one who was horrible wrong in that particular situation (see video Q&A). As for my particularly horrible guess, I say if you have no idea what the answer to a question is, you may as well make a ridiculous answer to try and make light of your lack of said knowledge. Besides, that's a tougher question than the "connect this early Hollywood star to this rare video game" challenges I get from Jumes. Oh well, I'll likely remember it now if I ever get hit with that piece of trivia again.


No Meat Puppets This Time...maybe

Hey Wheels, glad you liked my last plot concept. To answer one of your comments, I'd intended the "meat puppets" to be mindless hosts for the weapons, but it might depend on the weapon. I could see some weapons (mostly from the "bad" side of the war) intentionally taking on normal hosts, and that would help reinforce the negative image that people had of all the weapons. But imagine, the character of the weapon remains the same no matter what body it's currently riding, but the reaction to that character will depend greatly on what it looks like at the moment. There'd be a technical advantage to keeping a few bodies on ice to switch between as the situation demands.

Wheels

Alright that's much less creepy and disgusting than I thought, making heroes seem more like the good guys. That's be a great system though! Sort of like how some RPGs have NPCs react differently to your party based on who you have along, you could allow players to experiment to see how they react to various hosts.

But how much personality should the weapons have, and of what sort? The Swordians in Tales of Destiny are the closest things I know to what I'm imagining, but they're like psionic copies of real people locked into weapons. The weapons in my plot concept were made to be weapons, but have had about five centuries to learn how to mimic humanity as a survival tool. How far does it go, though? Do they eventually "get" it, or remain permanently sociopaths? And going with the body-switching, how would the possibility of romance turn out? That's the fun part to work with in this story, I think. Suppose one decided to have a "normal" life with the mortals, but had to constantly hide the fact that it was actually a body thief?

Wheels

That's a cool idea, sounds similar to what a lot of sci-fi does with robots learning to mimic humans and such. You have a bit more to work with here though, since magic allows for a lot more story flexibility than technology does. That would make for a great side narrative to the overall game, how the weapons evolve and change their mindset beyond their original purpose.

Enough with this stuff, though. Let's talk time limits. Plenty of games have sections where there's a running countdown, often leading to an earth-shattering ka-BOOM! I can think of two that present the player with timed situations, but without the timers. The first was Final Fantasy VIII, near the start of the second disc, where Squall had to cross a linkage between buildings hand-over-hand (while said buildings were sinking into the desert). If he went too slow, he'd get sucked into the sands as well, and it'd be Game Over. The second example would be from SaGa Frontier II, in a scenario about a cave-in. The player is told from the outset that there's not much time, but is encouraged to rescue as many of the miners as possible. Take too long, and the cave will collapse with the heroes in it.

Wheels

I like these kinds of scenarios, as long as it's clear to the player that there actually is a time limit, even if there's no timer. There are so many games that have a perceived time limit in the story, even though you have as long as you like. I'd hate to anger players if they assume it's one of those such cases.

This leads me to a show I was watching last night: the fourth episode of Mission Impossible. In that episode, they had to use calliope music to provide their inside man a means of gauging time, since he couldn't wear a watch where he was going. The whole feel of that part of the episode reminded me of part of a game idea I'd had once, about a made-up series of games I called Eternal SaGa (yes, a new SaGa sub-series). The first game was intended to be similar in style to both Romancing SaGa and SaGa Frontier in that it had multiple story-lines running through a shared world, though without many cross-connections. In one of the stories (the 4th), the heroes were crossing the northern continent trying to find and stop a group of mystic arms dealers calling themselves the Arsenalotti. The villains were in the habit of destabilizing any government that didn't want to purchase their wares, thus producing a suitable market (for the revolutionaries and/or survivors). In one instance, a package is delivered to the hall of a local lord while the heroes are present. Inside is a beautiful music box in the shape of a series of rotating crystalline orbs. Once the box is opened, it begins to play automatically, and a voice from the device says simply that the following piece of music will last for 5 minutes, after which there will be no survivors. The player then has five minutes to get as many people out of the castle as possible, with only the music, complex at the outset but steadily slowing and becoming more simple as it goes, to gauge how much time is left. As the final notes play out, the crystal orbs crash together, a summoning circle is formed, and an earth elemental in the form of a localized magma upwelling reduces the castle to rubble.

Wheels

Wow, that sounds like a pretty incredible idea. I really like the idea of a musical cue, perhaps even some kind of haunting theme, being the only clue you have as to how much time you have to finish some task. This would give an extra amount of tension to the proceedings. I wonder if any game has done anything similar to this?

Music to the ears?

Your fellow columnist,

Gaijinmonogatari

Wheels

Yes sir, as always you've got some great ideas that I'd really like to see in a game some day. I think you need to go apply at Square Enix and get working on some of these cool SaGa ideas! Well, once they start making new SaGa games instead of remakes anyways...

P.S.

Got a challenge for me? Something non-SaGa related might be best. I think the audience has heard enough about our pet series for the nonce.

Wheels

Not SaGa related? Well alright, I think I could come up with a suitable challenge. Here we go:

Take one of your favorite games, and conceive a Monster Hunter clone that could be a sequel to this game, and somehow not seem like a cheap cash-in (for example a Final Fantasy XIII sequel where you're hunting down the giant monsters of Pulse to protect a new community of people there). I think this should be a tough one!

Time For Some Tweets

@AskWheels No problem sir. I saw on your hot topic list you mention an RoF sequel, what is your opinion of the first? I just got the game.

from @RivalShadeX


Wheels

Well I've already talked a bit about Resonance of Fate in a previous response, but I'll try and give you my overall feel for the different aspects of the game. The story is largely kept in the background of the game, coming up a bit more frequently later on in the game, but mainly left to sequence at the start and end of each chapter. So for a lot of the story, you can both ponder some of the mystery it presents, or dig around the world a bit and find some more answers. Anchoring all this are some fantastically written characters, who are anything but one dimensional. It's not the strongest aspect of the game, but that's OK.

The battle system is where the game shines. Focusing on how you position our characters around the battlefield, and effective use of "hero points" (which allow you to move and fire at the same time), there is an incredible amount of depth. Throw in different types of bullets and grenades to switch between, and the different options you have in battle are simply staggering. I won't go into detail beyond that, as there's just so much to talk about. The game often feels like a SRPG, especially given that dungeons take place completely within the battle system. Great systems like this are usually tri-Ace's calling card (or so I hear, the previous tri-Ace games I had played were bad), and they don't disappoint here.

The last aspect I'd mention is customization. You don't customize characters beyond their clothing (which is oddly addicting) and what they have equipped. Instead, you heavily customize the guns in the game. I'm sure you've seen some pictures from the game with insane looking guns with several scopes and barrels. The system seems a bit silly, but has a cool puzzle aspect to it as you try to create a configuration that works.

The best and simplest thing I can say about the game is this: prior to playing it I hated tri-Ace, after playing it I can't wait to see what they make next.

IN CLOSING

That's all for this episode! I'm wondering how many of you readers have purchased a 3DS. I've quite enjoyed mine so far, even if the big game I'm playing, Super Street Fighter 4, I've had on PS3 for quite some time. Send me in a question about that or whatever else is on your minds!

'Til next week

-Wheels

P.S. Programming note: Q&A may slip to Thursdays on occasion for the next few months, but I will do my best to get it up on Wednesdays.

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What I can't wait for:

1. Tales of Graces F in English!

2. Disgaea 4

3. Hunted

4. El Shaddai

5. Deus Ex Human Revolution

On my Playlist:

1. Trails in the Sky Soundtrack

2. Crystal Bearers Soundtrack

3. Resonance of Fate Soundtrack



Hot Topics:

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4. Golden Sun Dark Dawn appears to be a success. Is it time for a console entry in the series?

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