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ASK WHEELS
All Punned Out
April 28th, 2011

04/28- 12:00PM EST

  So with my Clash of Heroes HD review complete, lately I've been playing...Clash of Heroes on DS! Yeah, I'm crazy. I've also started to play Resonance of Fate again, which is a big danger to my free time. As for new games, I've been diving back into Trails in the Sky along with the latest version of Final Fantasy IV (and lots of Mortal Kombat as well). It is a good time to be a fan of RPGs! What are all of you playing these days?

Time to jump into the letters and find out...





The Letters
Quest for Dragons

Hi Wheels!

My first letter writing in, but not the first I've wanted to write; I'm very prone to distraction!

To start, I just wanted to write a comment about the Suikoden topic. I think Suikoden could and should continue on as it always has in the main series, because other than III no title really requires intimate knowledge of the previous games to fully appreciate them (and even that was just to impress on the player the importance of the Masked Bishop reveal). Honestly, other than Harmonia and the Sindar (the big unanswered questions in the main series) and the completely forgotten Yuber/Pesmerga arc, there is almost no confusing moment where something explained says "oh but you have to know about this game", and even each game's reference to the global themes is specifically tailored to how it affects the nation in question. Even the early games refer to future locations effortlessly as a bit of foreshadowing, so the order in which you play them isn't important. Viki and Jeane seem to be reboots every game as is. Also, for the record, I played Suikoden II before I, and the whole background relationship with Flik & Victor, the Star Dragon Sword, and Neclord, along with the Scarlet Moon Empire was established well enough to stand alone. So yeah, Suikoden VI can be just like all the others - a new nation with a new True Rune wreaking havoc on some poor character's fate. Whether or not it refers to other known nations or characters is a plus. What I would like to see though, and maybe I'm a bit biased, but why don't True Runes ever pick a female protagonist?


Wheels

You know, I think you have a point. You may need to have played all of the games to see the overall interconnected narrative, but the titles really don't require that you play any of the previous games. Based on my time with the first two Suikoden games, characters in II that are returning from the first game are introduced in such a way so that new players can get a feel for them. On that note, I wonder why they decided to make such a big departure for the DS game? I know it is somewhat connected to the overall series, but I don't think it was the right move for the health of the series.

I'd really like to see a Suikoden VI on any system, even as a downloadable title. For your sake, here's hoping it has a female protagonist! The series is due for one. Better yet, maybe it's time they follow in BioWare's footsteps and make the gender of the main character a choice?

We were just talking about Dragon Quest on Twitter and a few questions came to mind I'd like to ask.
 
The big question is: What sort of direction would you like to see Dragon Quest X go?  For platforms, I'm highly doubtful they will stick to the Wii release now, as we've heard little news since the original announcement of the game.  I know their policy for DQ has always been the platform with the most support, but if this new Nintendo console is as imminent as rumors say then a Wii release of such a high profile title probably isn't the best plan, and other consoles are starting to catch up.  As far as gameplay... on its own, Dragon Quest IX is about as close to a single-player MMO experience as I've ever played.  I seriously had flashbacks to FFXI (including the main story) while playing the game, right down to tedious "AF" quests to get each vocations' specialized armor.  Well, minus the catgirls - although you can wear cat ear headbands to make up for it.  But I'm not sure I want the same feel for the next game in the series.  I know they are establishing a new identity with VIII and IX after years of the traditional approach, but I think I would prefer another game more like VIII with a much more linear and expansive main story.  However, IX seemed to find a new compromise by making the main game fairly quick (compared to all other games in the series), and keeping an enormous amount of side content locked until after the story is finished. Don't get me wrong, I loved the story to IX, and found it actually interesting once it got going near the end, but I kind of missed having that ongoing reminder of the urgency to keep going forward.  Stella's suggestions were ok in that regard I guess, but she never really interacted with anyone other than the main character for a huge portion of the story.  But gameplay-wise, I love the alchemy pot and the new skill system they've come up with, and IX's re-integration of the older game's vocations was a nice touch (but the lack of a "Hero" was annoying).  Do all these elements carry over to X, or should they try a new angle?  Also, is turn-based with text narration running its course?  We do know they planned to get rid of it in the original design for IX, but fans fought back...
 
Phew, sorry, I tend to ramble on when thinking about these games.
 
I have a few more questions, but I think I've wrote enough for now :) Until next time!
Nightfox


Wheels

Based on comments I've seen recently, it appears that Dragon Quest X will still be coming to the Wii (Dragon Quest XI will go to 3DS in my opinion). They seem to realize that fans still prefer the games on consoles, and I expect Dragon Quest X to be more story focused. I'm sure it will be similar to Dragon Quest VIII in scope, which certainly isn't a bad thing. That game did well here, and could mean good things for X's chances in the west. That's not to say that they should ignore everything they accomplished in IX. A lot of the new features are more suited for future portable titles, but it'd be interesting if they featured a way to have dungeon maps you find automatically be sent to Wiis that you have on your friend list. Perhaps even include online multiplayer of some sort? I'm sure we'll see the alchemy pot and a similar skill system, and perhaps even vocations for the second game in a row. I hope they reveal the game at E3, as I'm very eager to see what the game looks like. I just hope that it doesn't turn out like Dragon Quest VII, coming out too close to the end of a console's lifespan! Anyway, look forward to hearing from you again, hopefully we'll have some concrete DQX details to talk about soon!

P.S. The text battle logs are getting a bit old, I think they're just there for tradition's sake at this point.


A Decent Proposal

Greetings Wheels,
So, I read your challenge to Gajin about a Monster Hunter-esque variant on another series, and decided to take it up myself since I've been greatly enjoying this game idea discussion.  I must preface this, with the fact that i have never actually played an actual Monster Hunter game, so this is based on my general impressions of them.  Regardless, I hope you enjoy.


Wheels

Excellent! I wasn't sure if anyone else would take up the challenge, and glad to see someone jump on it. The Monster Hunter games are pretty easy to get a general idea of, so I'm sure you know the basics of the series. Let's see what you've got!

The original Baroque was a rogue-like dungeon crawler for PS2/Wii that remained fairly obscure and got a lot of criticism for various reasons (some legitimate).  I loved it however, especially for its bizarre and creepy yet fascinating world, story, characters, and concepts which merit further exploration.  This game would be its spiritual successor, or really a re-imagining of it, combining the original's hack-and-slash rogue-like gameplay with Monster Hunter style epic boss hack-and-slash combat.  Without further ado, I present:

Baroque Redemption: Godslayer


Wheels

Alright, that's certainly a great start. I could never get myself interested enough to pick up Baroque, but from the sound of it, it contained a pretty unique post-apocalyptic world. Perhaps it's time I finally give it a try? Anyway, I like the basic idea, especially if you keep some of the rogue-like qualities.

Premise (nearly identical to the original game):
The world as we know it was destroyed by the Blaze, what remains is a wasteland populated by the twisted few who could survive by holding on to a "Baroque," some delusion that has warped their existence around it, both in mind and body.  For some, this was relatively mild allowing them to live, well I can't call them normal lives, but at least seek pursue their strange agendas with some semblance of rational thought.  These are the game's NPCs.  For many others, however, they completely succumbed, becoming "Meta-beings," the even more bizarre monsters of the world, with barely any human resemblance remaining (they include moving walls with faces, strange wicker-like electric dolls, four armed cleptomaniac like creatures that hop around on their tail, all based of some aspect of the human psyche taken to the extreme).
Few remember much, if anything of before the Blaze, and those that do aren't talking.  The one thing that does remain, though is the Neuro Tower, a strange dungeon that forms the home of the Order of Malkuth, a strange religious/scientific organization seemingly associated with the Blaze and the state of the world since.  Their whose baroques have largely modeled them after angels (although frequently bizarrely twisted), and the protagonist is associated with them.  The protagonist themself remembers is surprisingly close to normal human but bears a strong sense of guilt about something he cannot remember (yes, I know the amnesia cliche, but in this case it's pretty much a global thing).  A leader of the Order of Malkuth approaches him, gives him a huge rifle with a single, special bullet, and tells him to enter the Neuro Tower and redeem his sins by killing God.


Wheels

That sounds like what I remember reading about the basic setup of Baroque, and that's pretty fine. Since multi-player is required for a Monster Hunter clone, where do other players come in? Multiple people who have all received the same special gun? Well let's see if you answer it for me...

Okay, so far,the setup is virtually identical to the original game, but here's where things change.  It will still be a roguelike with most items and level resetting each time you die or complete the dungeon.  But there will be many more, but shorter dungeons available.  Each dungeon will have a specific them in some part of the human psyche (say rage, sorrow, love, or self-restraint) with enemies, traps, and overall design focused around it.  All of it will build up to a boss, which will be the biggest difference between Redemption and the original game.  In the original, there weren't really any, and on the final floor God awaited you to either shoot or accept as you decided.  In this case, instead, "God" will not be in the least bit peaceful.  After climbing to the final floor, you will face a "God," an ultimate metabeing warped around the dungeons concept.  For example, the dungeon of sorrow might have its boss be a gigantic tree-like plant which weeps acid, or something else suitably strange.  These would be the epic bosses requiring not only skill and precise strategies.  The entire dungeon would be building up to it, as for example in given dungeons you would find find specific items which would be on theme and have specific uses against its boss (I guess kind of like a Zelda boss in some ways).


Wheels

I see, so these giant boss fights would essentially be equivalent to the larger monsters that you hunt in the Monster Hunter series. It's a very interesting setup, and so far meets my requirements. It's a subtle, but smart change from the original game. There's a lot of potential here to make some interesting bosses that play on dark twists of the human psyche. You've got me sold so far! We still need to answer the multi-player question however...

The key is that there would be two ways to defeat, or redeem, each god.  One would be to utterly annihilate it with a shot from the rifle, which would require fighting until you can position yourself for a shot at its undefended core.  In order to do this, in the previous levels of the dungeon, you would have to craft a bullet of the god's antithesis.  The other option would be to destroy the part of the boss which is the focus of its Baroque, thus restoring it to a more normal state and "healing" it of its delusions.  In order to do this, you would have to gain a greater understanding of the god's original history and identity (say what it was before the Blaze) and find some item to return it to normal.  Either path would have its own unique approach to the dungeon and the boss battle, and would also encompass a different approach to the dungeon itself and its substory in which you are either finding the bosses bane or its cure within the dungeon (which would be rather weird in themselves and have their own NPCs, etc.)


Wheels

Wow, I'm not sure if you intended this or not, but this actually sounds like an incredible twist on some of Monster Hunter's core crafting mechanics. Having to get into position to fire at the core reminds me of some quests in Monster Hunter that require you to weaken a monster and then lure it into a trap. Both involve weakening the monster and then some precise positioning. Your other musings seem like a nice way to replace the basic concepts of gathering and crafting, which is great. Gathering is by far what I like least about Monster Hunter.

Once you've done one of these two, this would trigger the rebirth of the world, and your level/etc. would reset, but there would be some changes.  A new dungeon would open, but more importantly NPCs related to the previous god's theme would be closer to normal (or maybe have a new delusion to solve).  You, as a character, would also have a tattoo representing that god giving you some new power/defense/or ability for use in future dungeons and allowing some permanent progress.  Previous dungeons would be refought to strengthen their tattoo and change the decision you made if you want.


Wheels

A great way to add a measure of replay value to the game. Monster Hunter of course does this by throwing increasingly difficult monsters and quest objectives at you, and this is certainly a great alternative. Now I'm probably going to buy Baroque and wish it was your game!

So as noted above each dungeon would have its own lesser story focused around its God and either crafting the bullet to kill it or how to free it from its delusions.  Through these dungeons, however, an over-arcing story would be crafted revealing the activities of the Order of Malkuth leading up to the Blaze, and maybe even hinting at a way to reverse it.


Wheels

A great idea, and a bigger reliance on story would certainly stand to separate it from many of the other Monster Hunter clones out there. I know Gods Eater seems to try a focus on story as well, but from what I've seen it brings a lot of anime tropes along with it. This would be much more interesting!

Now some of this is pretty high concept, and I haven't thought through how one would handle all of the ramifications of some of the choices (what happens if you choose to either destroy or redeem, say, love, rage, or self-restraint).  That said, are do you have any ideas for cool aspects of humanity to incorporate and how you would design a dungeon and boss around them?  Also, do you have any aspects of this game that you'd like to know more about, as I'd love to flesh it out more.

Sincerely,
FriendOfAgnes


Wheels

I'd really like to hear how you'd do multiplayer, this being a requirement for a Monster Hunter clone. I have a feeling you'll have some really cool ideas for this, so please write back in with them! That being said, the high concept idea really appeals to me. I wish there were more games that explored the human psyche. Please send in some more details about this idea!


Welcome to the Silent Movie Era

Wheels... is that a slightly shortened reference to Wheelers?  Did this nickname come from a Return to Oz viewing?

Wheels

It did not! It's actually kind of a stupid story, but I'll save that for another time. Suffice it to say that it's not a nickname I chose myself!

Aww... you like my obscure six degrees of separation games.  You know you do!  On that note... connect The Birth of a Nation to Sakura Taisen.

Wheels

Oh come on! How am I supposed to connect a silent movie to any video game? Well let's see if I can do it. Birth of a Nation was directed by D.W. Griffith -> D.W. Griffith helped found the studio United Artists -> United Artists is currently owned by MGM -> MGM's video game division, MGM Interactive, debuted with the game Wirehead for Sega's Sega CD system -> Sega publishes the Sakura Taisen series. Alright, maybe it wasn't that hard..

So after playing some Valkyrie Profile, I've become a bit more curious about the rest of tri-Ace's output.
 I sampled the original Star Ocean(yes, the Super Famicom edition) and didn't care for it, but now I wonder a bit.  What knowledge of the Star Ocean franchise do you possess?  These things comprise quite a bit of tri-Ace's catalog, so each game probably deserves mention.

Wheels

I know a bit about the Star Ocean series. I've played the PSP version of the first Star Ocean, and although it's likely better than the original Famicom edition, I didn't find it to be all that interesting other than being a pretty massive game. RPGamer's own David McBurney tells me that the second game in the series is far better, and just overall a great game. I wonder if I shouldn't just skip right to it. Star Ocean 3 I hate with a burning passion. I think it contains one of the worst plot twists in all of game, that serves to ruin the mythology of the whole series. I didn't even care for its game mechanics, even had the story been good. It does have has its fans on staff and among the readers, so I'm likely not the best person to get a fair opinion of that game from. As for the most recent game, it has a terrible story but the battle system is great, so if you can get it cheap and skip the insanely long cut-scenes you should be able to get some enjoyment out of it.

Apparently this Resonance of Fate title has acquired copious praise, from you among others?

Wheels

Yes! Resonance of Fate is a unique title that I would recommend everyone at least try. Focused more on the game mechanics than it is on story, the game gives you a lot of freedom to explore and experiment with the battle system. I've already talked too much about the game on Q&A, so I will just leave it at that. Play it!

What about Infinite Undiscovery?  I seem to recall is being polarizing, though no one claims it's either the greatest or the worst RPG ever made.

Wheels

I haven't played it yet, but I've heard the same. I get the feeling it is nothing more than an exceedingly average game. Which is fine, not every game needs to be the best thing ever. I'll let you know more once I give it a try.

One more. Radiata Stories has a certain audience, and while I'll probably play it in the future, your thoughts would be illuminating.

Wheels

I recently started playing this game, and was quite impressed with the colorful graphics, and the fact that its one of the few PS2 games that can run in progressive scan mode. So far the story has been pretty light-hearted. I've heard this changes later on, but it's nice to see that it doesn't take itself too seriously. The battle system is action-based, similar to Star Ocean, and you can collect characters in a Suikoden-like fashion. So, right now I am eager to play the rest of the game. This could be quite good!

That's it for tri-Ace, actually. The Valkyrie Profile games don't count because I'm playing them anyway (though you're welcome to expound on the subject).

Wheels

I'll just expand by saying that I actually like the DS Valkyrie Profile game so far. Including a mechanic that forces you to sacrifice characters, permanently, is quite interesting. The game has some issues for sure, but at least it tries something new. I plan on playing through the original Valkyrie Profile sometime soon as well.

Instead, ever play Crusader of Centy? I wish I could remember it better - good thing I wrote a review, eh?

Wheels

I've never even heard of Crusader of Centy, must have been an early title on the Genesis, which means I would have missed it. Looks like an interesting Zelda-type game, has it made it to Virtual Console?

So there's this thing called Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. I have ill memories of it, but since its development staff has a lot of names you've enjoyed the work of (though Akitoshi Kawazu's name seems absent), I presume you can appreciate it better than I. Is this presumption correct?

Wheels

Not exactly. I had fun with it as a kid, but there's nothing really special about the game. It's just an overly simple take on the Final Fantasy series. I'd never call it a bad game of course, but It's not something I go back to often like I do with the Final Fantasy and SaGa classics.

Bonus fun - another connection! Link Buster Keaton to Infinite Space! Don't you dare relegate Buster Keaton to the annals of 'some old-time movie guy' either, a man who did his own stunts (which almost every silent actor did, actually) while doing such dangerous things as riding on the grill at the front of a locomotive deserves better than that.

Wheels

Riding on the grill of a locomotive? That's crazy! Sounds like more than a lot of modern actors would do. Anyway, let's see if I can pull this off. Buster Keaton was in an episode of The Twilight Zone -> Midway made a Twilight Zone pinball machine -> Warner Bros. purchased most of Midway's assets -> WB distributed Space Jam -> Sega made a Space Jam pinball machine -> Sega published Infinite Space. BOOM.

Your mission: put Bruce Lee into an RPG - and do it well.

Wheels

Bruce Lee must enter a tournament to save Earth Realm from the invading armies of Outworld. I present to you sir, Mortal Kombat RPG: The Bruce Lee Story. You're going to hate me!

You and I know the awesomeness that is Guardian Heroes (not so much its sequel, though it's not terrible), but how many of the people reading this know? I'm out of material for now. You should have enough to satiate the inbox, anyway. JuMeSyn

Wheels

I hope they all know that Guardian Heroes is a brilliant game. The game still commands a hefty price on eBay, so I have faith that the gaming populace as a whole knows of its greatness. I mean, Treasure has a pretty devoted following, right? Granted that's mostly for their other games, but still.

Thank you sir, as always, for the excellent questions!

Welcome to the Complaints Department

Over a year or so ago I had the extreme displeasure of playing through this overrated piece of BACON (editor's note: this person is complaining about Devil Survivor) thanks to reviews such as yours who piously proclaimed that even those who didn't normally like tactical RPGs would enjoy the game. I don't normally enjoy tactical RPGs but still didn't BACONing like the game. Thank you BACONs for conning me into pissing away from money on this piece of BACON.

-A Very Angry Dude


Wheels

Wow, I don't even know how to respond to you. No one conned you out of your money, you simply happened to not like a game that many people did like, even those who normally don't like tactical RPGs, as the reviews stated. I know several people whom this was the case for. As a more overall point, I find it pretty insulting that you would suggest the reviews were trying to "con" you into wasting money on the game. A review is an opinion, not a guarantee that you will like a game if the review says it is good. The reviews in question are the honest opinions of those reviewers, and they certainly aren't the only ones who liked Devil Survivor. It's merely a tool to help you decide whether or not you may like the game. I have a feeling that you just looked at the scores and pluses and minuses, and didn't actually read either of the reviews on rpgamer. Had you actually read them I'm sure you would have gotten the feeling that the game was not for you. Now had you been complaining about Macstorm's review of Crystal Bearers we may have had something to talk about, but there's nothing more to say here. Also what is your obsession with bacon? Very strange...

IN CLOSING

That's all for this week! As some of you may have seen, there was a quick little contest on the AskWheels twitter, and I'll be doing more of those in the future, so keep an eye on it! I'm also wondering if, once PSN is back up, you readers would want to have a Dissidia 012 tournament via Ad Hoc Party? Let me know!

Next week, I've got Gaijin's response to my challenge, another letter from the complaint department, and more!

'Til next week

-Wheels


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