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ASK WHEELS
No Country for Old Puns
May 4th, 2011

05/04- 12:00PM EST

  Another week, more great questions from you readers! I've been busy working on getting all the achievements in Clash of Heroes HD, along with playing some Knights in the Nightmare. I never played the original DS version, but I can safely say that it sure is a strange game. Not that this is a bad thing, I'm enjoying it! OK, on to the letters!





The Letters
Talking Great Greed

Discuss Great Greed.

-KLitke


Wheels

Well, Great Greed is an RPG for the original Game Boy. It was an oddball title, which is saying a lot because most of the RPGs on the system were that way. Most of the characters, enemies, etc. are named after food related items, which isn't as funny in our culture as I think it is in Japan.  Battles were pretty simple, with only the one player character, named by the player, using magic attacks that you purchase. The story is pretty strange, involving the player character getting stuck in a different world because a character named Microwave loses her powers. I'm not that far into the game, but I will be sure to write some more about it once I am.


A Decent Proposal Part Deux

Hello again Wheels,

Thank you for your enthusiastic reply to my ideas (I guess readers coming into this in the first place should refer back to the April 28 column).  I will warn you that Baroque itself requires a lot of work to get to the heart of the story and concept and it guides you through none of it.  Baroque Redemption: Godslayer would provide a bit more guidance, although I would still aim to keep some of the need to work things out for yourself.


Wheels

Interesting, I still can't get myself to buy it for some reason. It looks too strange, even for me. I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point, however. So let's get back to your game..

Anyway, I had not been aware of the importance of multiplayer to Monster Hunter, but I will happily work to include it, so here goes:

At the most basic level, multiplayer is easy.  The game is a rogue-like, so everyone starts at level 1 every time anyway.  So your friends can grab a controller and join you on whatever dungeon they want, no problems, just throwing in another individual to fight a difficulty adjusted dungeon.  But just leaving it at that would be boring.  At the very least, you could modify dungeons to have enemies/puzzles/etc which reward two player strategies, and you could definitely make the bosses do this.  For example, you may need to have one player distract the enemy while the other comes from behind to attack the weak spot.  Perhaps there would even be special dungeons which require multiple players to complete (kind of like Legend of Zelda: Four Swords).  I'm not sure how to do some of this without having completely different dungeon designs for multiplayer versus single, but I suppose we have infinite budget and design capability for a fictional game so we can just do that.


Wheels

Yes, no need to worry about budget concerns when we're just dreaming up games! That would be a great idea in my opinion, to have two sets of dungeons. This way, the multiplayer can be a new and different experience from single player, instead of just being the same thing with more people. Let's see what other ideas you've got...

But again, that's all fairly straight forward.  Where this gets interesting is the characters and story.  Last time I left the protagonist fairly ambiguous, but in the original game he was a member of the Order Malkuth and intimately connected with the events surrounding the blaze.  Although he remembered none of these events, he felt a strong sense of guilt over his unknown sin.  For Godslayer, since there's multiplayer, there will be four protagonists instead.  Each will have been somehow central to the events causing the Blaze, but not remembering them (no one really does anyway).  Otherwise, they will all have different Baroques and represent different aspects of the human psyche, particularly ones that would drive them to enter these dungeons searching for the truth of their past (and perhaps also which would have drawn them to cause the blaze in the first place).  The protagonist of the original will remain with the Baroque of Guilt.  Another protagonist would be Suspicion, then perhaps Curiosity, and finally Hope.  Like everyone, no character will look normal, and each will have a distinct combat style, adding diversity to the gameplay.  Guilt used a variety of swords in the original game, so we'll stick with that, maybe adding some other blades for diversity.  Suspicion will use a range of guns.  Curiosity could be a shapeshifter of sorts, although requiring found items to empower her forms.  And Hope will use a sort of combat magic allowing him to fight by shaping the terrain of the dungeon, not just the standard fireballs.


Wheels

Excellent, this kind of mixes in a Diablo-style feel, giving the player additional characters to play as, even in single player. This will add a lot of diversity to the gameplay, similar to how Monster Hunter varies gameplay with different weapons (the ranged weapons especially change the gameplay a lot). What's more, this approach let's you keep to the narrative focused gameplay that makes this idea so interesting.

Each dungeon would focus on one of the four characters both in story and design.  This character would be required, and the others could be brought along to help by friends (or maybe used on subsequent playthroughs).  As the game progresses, the interweaving details of the characters lives before the Blaze and their contributions to it would be gradually revealed through these dungeons.  It would end with one dungeon for each character based on that character's own baroque, allowing them to come to terms with themselves and their now revealed pasts, followed by one big dungeon which would require all four characters (maybe taking separate paths for single players) to come up against the big boss (who's identity of course must remain a secret for now).  I hope that provides satisfactory multiplayer while still keeping a deep, character driven story (something I've always wanted to see in an RPG).


Wheels

This idea is even better, requiring certain characters for dungeons means more people will try each of the characters. That's an issue with some multiplayer RPGs, where there's no compelling reason to play as anything other than the type of characters players usually gravitate towards. Some players wouldn't like that, for sure, but as long as the characters are well balanced and play differently, I think it would work just fine. Sign me up for your game sir, where can I pre-order?

On a completely unrelated note, I've noticed you using publishers rather heavily in your 6 degrees challenges.  So:
Connect Riviera: The Promised Land to Myst without using publishers (developers that didn't publish the game as well are fine).

Yours once more,
FriendOfAgnes


Wheels

I see you've noticed how I've been able to sneak my way through some of the more difficult challenges, especially involving stars from Hollywood's golden era.  Let's see if I can complete your challenge as stated.

*Several hours later*
All right, well I'll admit it, I have failed. I can't find a connection. So I will return the challenge your way! If you can complete it, I'll find some kind of prize to reward you with! Best of luck.


Monster Huntering

Hey Wheels, miss me?

Sorry I'm a little late with this letter, but last week was hectic and I forgot to type it up. Do you think anyone else will ever try one of these challenges of ours, by the way? The more the merrier, you all!

Wheels

Someone has, and you can check it out in last week's column (which I'm guessing you already did). I agree, people should feel free to jump into our crazy game-making ideas. Maybe we'll eventually collectively come up with something truly amazing!

Moving onto the question at hand, which games or series lend themselves best to a Monster Hunter makeover? Since we're going for a spin-off, and not a new game IP, we would have to look at series with distinctive and recognizable monsters. Unfortunately, you already stole one of the more promising choices when you used Final Fantasy XIII as an example.

Wheels

I'm sorry! I needed to think up an example to drive the challenge home, and that was the first thing that came to mind. It's the perfect idea too! It's too bad Square Enix didn't run with that idea instead of making Lords of Arcana.

A few other options that popped into my head en route to the dentist were Dragon Quest, Shadow of the Colossus, Zelda, and the Mana series. DQ, I ruled out because I didn't think the design style would jive too well -- and in any case, the funnest monsters in that series probably wouldn't scale up appropriately.

Wheels

I don't know about that! I think it could work, as long as it's a more light-hearted take on the Monster Hunter. Things like slimes would be the normal monsters, and boss monsters such as dragons would be the bigger challenges to tackle. I'm getting off the track, moving on...

SotC is probably closer to Monster Hunter than anything else in terms of gameplay, but its monsters (while certainly on a scale appropriate to such a title) are few in number. It'd be better to just hire the colossi designers for a new IP in that case.

Wheels

Maybe they could just make a multiplayer version of SotC? I've yet to play that game, but it sounds like almost a single player take on Monster Hunter, with more story.

That leaves us with Zelda and Mana, both longstanding series with a wide array of boss monsters. A coin toss made the decision for me. We're talking about Link this time around.

Wheels

Well that works for me! Mana has gone into too many different genres, so best if we don't drag it through another!

Imagine, if you would, an older, more experienced Link. Sometime after his adventures in (insert title of choice here) he travels to the far-off continent of Maxima. The Kingdom of Hyrule is in need of supplies to bolster the defense against Ganon's remaining servants, and Link is tasked with providing the raw materials -- be it Octorok gizzards for ballista ammo, hollowed-out Moldorm carapaces for shields, or taking out Peahats before they start the annual migration.

Wheels

I'm going to go ahead and pretend this takes place after Twilight Princess.

(Seriously, remember the Peahats of South Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time? I had nightmares about those botanical helicopters of doom once.)

Wheels

Oh those things, I hated those things! When I was younger those things really freaked me out. I imagine it's going to be even worse playing the game in 3D. I feel sorry for kids who will be playing Ocarina of Time for the first time on 3DS.

Half the fun of a monster-hunting title is in the customization, though, and that's something we'd really have to expand on. Still, imagine Link in sleek black Moldorm-plate armor, or sporting a tunic of Peahat leaves. It could be like the selection of facewear in Majora's Mask, but with a greater variety of shapes and usefulness. Different upgrades could be made available for the sword, shield, boomerang, chain-shot, and bow. We could include more weapon types or odd tools. Since the focus would be almost entirely on monster design, some creative item use could be required in lieu of dungeoneering.

Wheels

Well, you could also have a great variety of Link's usual tools, such as the boomerang and chain-shot, and do different things with them. For example, perhaps you could modify the chain-shot with parts from the Peahat to let Link use it like a helicoptor for hovering or even directly flying. This would keep the classic Link feel, and allow players to find all kinds of different customization options.

Ever played Link's Awakening? The fifth dungeon boss was a worm-like thing that lived in the walls and had to be dragged out with the chain-shot. Or maybe the anglerfish boss, or the Face Shrine boss? If handled correctly, they would be awesome in 3D environments, though the Face might not be the best pick for this kind of title.

Wheels

All right, I take back what I said before, let's call this a sequel to Link's Awakening. I loved that game, and it kept me entertained as a kid between play sessions of SaGa. Those bosses would be amazing in 3D, especially the fifth dungeon boss you described. Haven't played Link's Awakening readers? Get on that, it is one of the best Zelda games.

So many bosses from the series would work though! Aquamentus, Dodongo, Gleeok, Manhandla, Gohma... and that's just from the first game. Most of the bosses from Ocarina and Majora would work, like the rampaging mechanical bull or the giant Poe that was cut from the final version of OoT. I'd start listing more, but I'm not as familiar with some of the later games, and I'm running short on time here.

Wheels

Well there's certainly a lot of bosses that would be great. Though the later games are naturally in 3D already, I can picture a lot of ways those bosses could be made more challenging, requiring a more vast array of tools to defeat. However, you have left out the most important aspect of any good Monster Hunter clone, what about multiplayer?

What do you think? Would Zelda make for a good monster-hunting spin-off? Which series would you choose? Be sure to let me know in time for the next Japandemonium (Thursday the 28th)!

Your fellow columnist,

Gaijinmonogatari

Wheels

I shall let you know! That gives me plenty of time to outline a great plan. Thanks for the great ideas, as usual! I certainly wasn't expecting you to choose Zelda.

Welcome to the Complaints Department

Hey Wheels,

Since I'm unable to post on the forums, I'd like to take this time to vent my frustration with Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, and how your experience was not reminiscent of mine. There was crap in the game I didn't like, such as how it was dependent upon luck and how you have to start from level one five times throughout the game, not to mention the cap on experience and inability to grind. It was because of reviews like yours that I feel conned into buying and playing the game. Thank you.

-Otterland


Wheels

Well for starters, the key problem we get into right away is "how your experience was not reminiscent of mine". Well, no, it shouldn't. A review should be an honest depiction of a game based on the reviewer's experience with the game, and that's what I wrote. Some of the issues you mention, such as starting from level one I did mention. However,  I didn't see them as issues. You also have a mistake here, in the final campaign, your character does not start at level one. Also luck is a very minor factor in the game. For most scenarios, the random unit disbursements provide you with a plenty of ways to succeed. With these facts in mind, I'm not sure how you can say reviews like mine "conned" you into buying the game. I'm sorry you didn't like the game, but I presented the things you didn't like as parts of the game, so you shouldn't have been surprised by these facts.

I have to wonder, did you actually read the text or just skim it?

Oh well, remember reviews are tools to help you decide whether a game might be something you like, not a guaranteed lock that you will.

IN CLOSING

I'm just going to repeat the same outro from last week, as no one replied about a possible Dissidia tournament!

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!

'Til next week

-Wheels


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