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Epic Fail
June 17th, 2011

06/10- 12:00PM EST

  Hello all! It's been a busy few weeks for me, but at least I've had Avadon to keep me distracted. Look for a review of it soon. I've also been taking break with the more action-based fare of Hunted and Splinter Cell 3DS, which is a nice port of Chaos Theory. Hunted I played co-op with fellow RPGamer fanboymaster, and let me tell you, our failures were quite hilarious. That's what we get for starting on Hardcore difficulty. Anyway, on to your letters!





The Letters
Falling out of RPGS

It's been an insanely long time since last I wrote to RPGamer...I seem to recall back when Steve Zimmerman, Googleshng, and Andrew Long were running it...then the long hiatus.


Wheels

Well it can be tough to do a weekly column, or in the case of one legendary Q&Aer, EVERY DAY. That's neither here nor there though. Glad to have you writing in again. Let's see what is on your mind!

I hate to admit it, but I'm starting to get bored with RPGs and I need a cure for that.  Games that lead from one battle to the next are starting to remind me of all the fighting games I've been playing lately (BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Mortal Kombat, etc etc)...so basically anything with Final Fantasy's "run around and grind levels" feels dull to me now...and that shouldn't be at all.  I suppose Dissidia is partially to blame for this as well.


Wheels

  Ahh Mortal Kombat, such a great revival of that franchise. I can see your point, when burnt out on RPGs, especially RPG combat, there isn't much left in the games to enjoy. Especially if you aren't particularly into the story of that game. I can see how Dissidia might not help in this regard, given that it is all combat with tons of things to unlock, thus making you overplay the thing. There is hope for you though, as I will try and guide you to the RPGs that will guide you out of this funk.

Maybe it's that I miss having a new Zelda game, or something akin to Zelda, but truthfully I need a game that's going to spark my interest, not just as a story but as a legendary mythos of some kind.  I don't like games that decide you're the center of a mythos right off the bat, but at the same time I like being able to charter through a story that won't happen unless I'm there to witness it, and also I've gotten sick of this futuristic cyber-punk imagery in RPGs lately.


Wheels

  Has there been that much cyber-punk in RPGs? I suppose so, in general there aren't that many types of worlds that haven't been overused by the RPG genre. The only thing that comes to mind would be the spy genre, which doesn't have much in it outside of Alpha Protocol. Perhaps that's a game that would interest you? Like I've said, RPGs don't delve into the spy type of genre much, or modern type settings for that matter. It's far from a perfect game, but it sounds like it's the kind of RPG you need, something that breaks you out of what once was your comfort zone. Think about it! Also there's always Darksiders if you need a Zelda type game. I haven't played much of it yet, but it is well liked by many around these parts.

I like a traditional dragon thrown my way, or a famous sword to wield (that you can actually "see" in action and not just equip in menu).
 
Not just that but...lately it feels like RPGs are eating away at my patience...so many side quests, so many unnecessary "things to do" to get what I want.  It's one thing to be too linear, but it's another to be too sparse...I've seen both extremes in FF13 and Disgaea (I'm sick of that random dungeon generator already).  I just think there needs to be a balance of things you can go do and things you NEED to do...while still being fun to play.


Wheels

  Well I think that's a little unfair to Disgaea, or at least to Disgaea 3. Sure there's lots of optional things to do, but it's quite easy to stick to the main battles and enjoy the story. Those optional things can help if you get stuck and need to do a bit of grinding, but there's always a new story battle to do, keeping you advancing through the game. I absolutely agree with your general point however. Too often a game will either make your quest too rigid, or give you a huge open world with no direction, and lots of pointless activities. There aren't too many RPGs that hit that sweet spot of plenty of freedom, while at the same time always having meaningful things to do. One open world game, with RPG type elements, you may enjoy is Infamous. Side quests all have an important effect on the game world (clearing sections of enemies) and help give the game a great forward momentum, while still giving the player a fantastic feel of freedom. With both good and evil ways to play the game, there's plenty of replay value as well. In addition, try Demon's Souls. It gives you the freedom to tackle dungeons in the order you'd like, while at the same time always giving you plenty to do. Of course I'm not sure you have a PS3, but if so, these two games are must plays.

Another thing I noticed lately is that current RPGs are more about visual fanservice and appearance rather than actual structure....to me, it doesn't matter how big the female protagonist's boobs are, or how elaborately drawn the monsters are, or how muscular the hero is...if the game doesn't play well...or present itself as interesting...I just lose it right then and there.


Wheels

  Well, that's certainly the case for some games, but I don't think it applies to the majority of them. Look at games like Nier, where the main character looks specifically like they wanted to get away from fanservice issues. Fair point of course, style over substance has become an issue for many games.

ON TOP OF ALL THIS...I seem to barely have the patience to even play RPGs anymore...it's like, I wanna pick up a game make some progress, and put it down again...without feeling like I gotta think about what's equipped or where I am and what monsters could kill me in this area.  I dunno what it is...but it feels like I kinda wish RPGs had more fighting game elements in them, where you just perform combos or learn a string, or make something up (ala Saga Frontier 2).  Hard bosses with super high HP just don't do it for me anymore...I don't even bother with guys like Baal or Yiazmat or Omega Weapon...it just...doesn't feel worth it.


Wheels

  Well I recommend you give the Ys series a try. They're very easy to jump into games, deal primarily with the action, and for the most part have much less dialogue than you'd expect from an RPG (in a good way). Top that off with some amazing music, and it could be exactly what you're looking for. Shorter, quicker RPGs that get right to the meat and potatoes of gameplay. You'll primarily find them on PSP nowadays, but there are PC games you can import as well. I can discuss Ys in-depth another time if the games interest you.

So I'm asking...is there a cure to what ails me?  Or am I lost to the RPG genre for good?
 
To give you a better idea of my "symptoms", the games I'm looking forward to are:
 
The Last Guardian
Metal Gear Solid: Rising
"Maybe" a New Zone of the Enders
"Maybe" a New Valkyrie Profile
"Maybe" a New Guilty Gear
"Maybe" a New BlazBlue
A PSP to PS3 port of Dissidia Duodecim maybe?
Final Fantasy Versus XIII (even though I've NEVER played Kingdom Hearts or plan to)
Zelda: Skyward Sword (if it has a traditional controller function)

Yeah that's it....I haven't found anything else down the track that piques my interest lately...so please help.
 
Sincerely,
Mimeblade


Wheels

  What? You should absolutely play Skyward Sword regardless of the control scheme. I mean, it's Zelda! Anyway, there is a cure for you, and it is quite simple. It's time to break out of your comfort zone. What do I mean? Look for weird RPGs, that either deal with settings you normally don't care for, or have strange gameplay elements, etc. etc. Variety is the spice of life, and it sounds like the lack of this has lead you astray from the RPG world. Try oddball games like Resonance of Fate and the SaGa series. Try games with strange stories like Nier. Try the Ys series. The RPGs you're looking for are out there, but perhaps just not where you're looking. Best of luck, and write in again!


Tales of Zelda

Hi,

I have dozens of unplayed games going back to the early 90's. Can you tell me whether the original Four Swords on the GBA can be played one-player? Can Four Swords Adventures on the Gamecube be played one-player? Will the DSiWare Four Swords be the GBA game? And will there be a one-player option even if it is not in the original? And I'm guessing free for DSi owners also means free for 3DS owners?

Thanks!

Brian


Wheels

It looks like the minimum number of players for the original Four Swords is two players, which is a shame. The Gamecube one you can play one-player, which is good, given the hardware requirements for playing multiplayer. If you can find the hardware of course, it is absolutely worth it, and I'd imagine the same is true for the original Four Swords. The multiplayer even has some elements of competition to it, to keep things interesting. As far as the new DSi version goes, this apparently will be the original GBA game, hopefully converted to at least have online multiplayer. No word on whether or not this version will be playable single player, but you never know! Finally, yes it will be free for 3DS owners, and free is a great word, isn't it?


Nocturne 2: Electric Boogaloo

I was thinking about a spiritual sequel to SMT: Nocture, where, similar to the protagonist in that game, your character's powers were determined by the implantation of parasites in your body.  However, in this case, it would use a system where a parasite's effects and the powers it granted differed based on the part of the body in which it would be implanted. The areas where the demonic parasites could be implanted would be the brain, tongue, ear, right hand, left hand, right calf, left calf, heart, and the lower back.  Each area would grant a unique set of abilities based on the elemental and demonic affinities of the parasite and the exact part of body onto which it is attached.  The hands and legs of course, would determine the basic physical capabilities of the character, whereas the brain and tongue would determine the character's ability to use magic (what types and the power of the magic involved), whereas the ears would effect the character's ability to avoid enemy attacks and predict enemy movements and the lower back and heart would determine his body's durability, resistances, and regenerative capacity. 

Wheels

I'm interested already, Nocturne really could use a sequel. As far as the tongue goes, you could also have that effect how well the player can negotiate with demons.

The setting would be a few decades in the future, when worries about the inevitability of humanity starving to death in its overpopulated cities has led the governments of the world to turn to demonic summoning and black sorcery in combination with genetic experimentation in an attempt to make the human body more capable of surviving harsh conditions.  The protagonist is one of the few amongst the several thousand test subjects to have retained his sanity after being implanted with the demon-infested parasites, and his body, like that of all the others, has been altered greatly by the implantation.  To make things worse, as a side-effect of the presence of so much demonic energy being given off by the implanted subjects, it has become easier for demons to emerge into the world and the protagonist has been put to work as a hunter of said demons (more as a convenient method of showing the usefulness of the failed experiment so that the researchers involved won't be put in front of a firing squad as well as being fired than out of any sort of feeling that he might be useful), for the sake of his nation and at the hope of getting the bomb planted in the base of his skull removed at some point in the future.  In addition, most of the other subjects escaped during a demon attack, and as you go around hunting demons, you occasionally come upon them, kill them as ordered and claim their parasites for your own use to alter or improve your abilities, with the constant knowledge that eventually you'll share the fate of those you've killed, once the government decides you've disposed of all the others like you. 

Wheels

Very interesting story idea, that so far sounds like it could fit well within the overall SMT series. This also seems to make it possible for more character interaction than the first game. Many different ways you could go with this.

There would be an overworld map that covers the entirety of the world and its current nations and part of your protagonist's job is finding a way to get to his destinations, as the government is too cheap to pay for shipping.  As such, the protagonist ends up taking on various paying jobs suitable for his skills (anything from rapid pizza delivery to murdering the lady next door and her dog) in order to pay his way in order to complete his real job so that they won't press the shiny red button that will blow his head to bits of broken skull and scattered gray matter. 

Along the way, the protagonist will make various connections, depending on his actions - such as faking the death of one of his target demons in exchange for it becoming a connection that might be useful in the future or gaining political allies by performing dirty work directly for a corrupt Senator or two - and as a result, his mobility, allies, and even his own way of thinking will change.

Wheels

Now this is very interesting, generally SMT games cover a pretty small area of the world, so to have the freedom to explore an entire world could be quite exciting. Throw in even more character interactions and it already sounds like we have a hit on our hands. I love the idea of political allies, so many different ways that could be used.

Rather than determining the end from the beginning, I figure it would be better to have the path to the various endings split radically depending on the way you play the game, various paths opening and closing based on your actions, your choice of words, who you have contact with, and various other factors.


Sincerely,
Clephas

Wheels

Of course, multiple endings is a must. Overall I think this idea is brilliant. Well done sir!

Decisions Decisions

Who decides when a game is put on RPGamer and how.

-Nodal



Wheels

Well for the most party, many games are very clearly RPGs, or at least advertised as such, making the decision to cover them quite easy and automatic. We can't always cover every game, given that we're a volunteer staff, but we do the best that we can. The only time any real decision have to be made, is with games that are borderline RPGs, or those which don't fit the traditional definition of an RPG. So there will often be staff discussions about these types of games, and we do our best to pick the right games to cover. I don't think it's that often an occurrence, generally games are very clearly RPGs. As games continue to evolve and blend I'm sure this will come up more often, but for now I don't think it's too tough. As for covering indie games, which I think your question may have also been referring too, we are trying to cover more of them. There's too many for us to cover all of them of course.

IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Keep the crazy sequel ideas for the contest coming in. Next week my fellow SaGa fan writes in, along with The King of Content, so be sure to stop in next week!

See you all next week!

-Wheels


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