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DWN. 083 E3 Man
  June 17th, 2013

06/17- 7:00PM EST

Welcome to another (almost) all essay edition of Q&A! With E3 just past us, there's all kinds of gaming news going around, but the biggest surprise for me was a new Donkey Kong Country! I'm glad Retro Studios is giving the series one more go. I loved their first effort, and look forward to seeing the follow up. I've also been working on a long overdue review for Dead Island: Riptide so keep an eye out for that this week!

Now let's get right to it...





The Letters
FF XIII Versus FF XV

Wheels

Summon the entire RPGamer E3 Ninja Clan!

I need to confirm something!

Final Fantasy XV (aka Versus XIII)...is it, or is it NOT going to be available on PlayStation 3!!!???

Most other news sites are sending mixed messages and twitter is unreliable!

I know they said PS4 and that it RAN (past tense) on PS3...but...gosh I'm confused!

Thanks!

--Blade


Wheels

I can't blame you for being confused, they weren't all that clear on this issue at all. In all the press following however, it is very clear that Final Fantasy XV will be coming to PS4 and Xbone only. I'm not sure if they don't want to release a scaled down PS3 version, of if the engine no longer even runs on that system, or what. It could be that focusing on these similar Intel-powered systems has finally given that game a steady development progress. We shall see how the finished product turns out!

SRPG vs. SRPG

Shining Force vs Fire Emblem: A Comparison of my Two Favorite Strategy RPG's and Thoughts on the Ultimately Supreme Blending of the Two

The Shining Force and Fire Emblem series are two of the oldest, most well known, and most well received strategy games made in Japan. Even though they share a genre and both have a loyal fan-base, they are both very different games.

Shining Force games tend to be easy and light hearted, while Fire Emblem games range from average difficulty to brutally hard. In Shining Force battles can be played over and over by egressing (or retreating) from the battle to rack up experience as well as to revive fallen characters. In Fire Emblem character death is permenent and experience is limited by the number of chapters in the game and the players skills at getting it all/distributing it intelligently. Shining Force is the sort of game where one can easily build up all members into an invincible super team, whereas Fire Emblem generally requires you to pick a core team and stick with it while at the same time the permanent death feature makes it advisable to train up an extra character or two... umless the player enjoys restarts. As Fire Emblem battles can take pretty long, a restart due to a death caused by the level boss can be very frustrating.

Another big difference between the games is that in traditional Fire Emblem games purchasing is done during the actual fighting missions by stopping in at stores in the midst of battle and all character management is done through menues between the chapters. By contrast Shining Force games allow full exploration of well realized towns, especially the beautiful and interesting towns in Shining Force III Scenarios 1-3. As much as the battles and challenge make Fire Emblem a real favorite of mine, the towns and exploration add so much to Shining Force that it's hard not to miss them in other strategy RPG's.

Obviously there are aesthetic differences between the two games, but as that would be the case between any two games and because I find the sights and sounds in both series to be generally quite enjoyable, I'm going to skip over this issue and move straight on to the Ultimate Strategy Amalgam!

I believe a combination of the two systems would work best. If IS made the next Fire Emblem otherwise as normal, but added in 2 new features taken from the Shining Force series, I believe it would make the Ultimate Strategy Game (for me anyway :) Adding fully explorable towns and areas connecting them either freely (ala Shining Force 2) or chapter based (ala Shining Force 1 and 3) would really add to the game. Exploration is a huge factor in my enjoyment of RPG's, and Fire Emblem games have very little as they are currently made, the most recent even less with it's glowing points of interest rather than hidden treasure tiles. The other addition would be the ability to revive characters, but not en masse like in Shining Force series. My idea would be that a healer could learn to use maybe 1 or 2 revive spells per battle. This would allow for recovery from the random critical hit without suffering complete devastation or making the game way to easy.

Or Camalot could make a new Strategy game as well, if they ever get tired of raking in the cash on all those lame Mario Sports titles that is. Shining Force (or whatever they would end up calling it due to Sega owning the franchise name) could really stand to benefit from some additional difficulty and more strategic battles.

I love both of these games so much, even though they are quite different. Hopefully you enjoyed my essay and thank you for the opportunity to participate in your contest :)

-Jocelyn


Wheels

Excellent analysis. Those unfamiliar with the two series may think Shining Force was simply Sega copying Fire Emblem, but as you have shown the two are extremely different despite their similarities. Fire Emblem: Awakening has a number of changes to make the series a bit easier, but I like your suggestions a bit more. I really hate having to restart a battle because of a random critical hit, so a few revives a battle to me seems a better way to curve difficulty than just eliminating permadeath.  I would also love to see Camelot give the genre another try, though I doubt they will ever make another Shining Force. How about Golden Sun Force? Great essay, I'm giving you an A+.

tri-Aced

Saving the world from evil: That’s what most RPGs consist of.  In Infinite Undiscovery, you have the recurring themes of darkness, hope, evil, and courage. In Lost Odyssey, you have similar themes of overcoming an evil empire, hope for a saved future, and courage of the immortals.
 
Yet, despite similarities, you have a world bound in chains, a  penniless musician whose destiny is to eventually save the world, and a myriad of characters that aid in saving the world from evil.  The game focuses on building relationships with friends that Capell meets along the way.  And focuses on his cowardness turning into bravery.  IN the end, the world is saved because he had enough courage to stand up and fight for what was important.
Within the Lost Odyssey,  you encounter evil nations at war with each other. The theme of family is instilled in the game where the characters find missing relatives. Love and loss are recurring themes in the game followed by victory at a price of friendship.  The evil immortals  seek to destroy the portal between themselves and the mortals in order to gain power.  IN the end, sacrifices are made to bring peace to all nations. Families are united and memories are treasured.
 
I found these two games similar yet contrasting in nature. And I may have not said it in the best way, but I do feel that it fits for this contest.
 
 
-Michelle


Wheels

I think you said it quite well enough. These are not two games I would have thought to compare, but then again I have not yet played Infinite Undiscovery. If nothing else it's a good way to show that not all "save the world" stories are alike. It is an overused trope for sure, but I don't think that means it shouldn't be used at all. There's plenty of interesting things that can be done with it, as this game shows. I'll give you a solid B.

Essay Quest

Dear Professor Wheels:

Thanks for extending the deadline for our essays. I’m sure the class will come through for you. You wanted an essay comparing and contrasting two RPGs with a clear thesis? Try this on for size.

The cast of randomly- or user-generated characters in Dragon Quest III (DQ3) may have had less personality than the memorable crew depicted in Dragon Quest IV (DQ4), but the enticement to try out all of the classes and experiment with different class combinations imbued DQ3 with a much higher level of replayability. Contrasting Dragon Quest III (DQ3) with Dragon Quest IV (DQ4) indicates that Class of Heroes 2 will be a perfect fit for RPGamers who love statistical character development.

DQ3 gave RPGamers nearly unprecedented freedom in the character creation process. It started with the Hero, which could be male or female and bore the name the player chose. Players could select the other three members of the party from a group of pre-generated characters or create them from scratch, choosing gender, class and name for each. Added to that was a range of starting statistics for every character class that added an element of randomness. The result was a character system that was deep in customization but consequently shallow in background story.

By contrast, DQ4 featured a set cast of characters with built-in names, personalities, classes, and abilities. Players learned about each of the main characters and his or her motivation, making for a very memorable story with significantly less control over how the characters developed than offered by DQ3.

When RPGamers finished playing DQ3, the available character customization produced the lingering questions about gameplay mechanics. How would a party of the Hero and three mages perform against Baramos? With the Hero as a backup healer, can I support two warriors and a cleric and just run with meat shields? Feeling inspired to see how different class combinations worked, some enthusiasts of statistical character development would opt to start anew to see how their new party fared in low- or mid-level story content rather than create extra characters in a game with all the bosses cleared.

On the other hand, DQ4 left RPGamers thinking about the characters’ personalities. Would Taloon go on to found the GQ4-equivalent of Wal*Mart? Would Celia, a fallen Zenithian, become a naturalized citizen, or would she be deported as an illegal immigrant? Even if these particular questions did not occur to every player, it certainly was the characters and their stories in DQ4 that had a lasting impression.

Noting the differences in DQ3 and DQ4, RPGamers who love statistical character development would be more likely to replay DQ3 even if they thought DQ4 was a better game overall with its episodic storytelling. Once a player experienced the story in DQ4, there was little motivation to replay the game. While debates about the value of the more durable Mara versus the more powerful Brey had merit, they paled in comparison to the absolute freedom afforded by DQ3’s character system.

As the launch date for Class of Heroes 2 draws near, it emerges as the perfect fit for RPGamers who love statistical character development. The ability for players to create a party made of up character classes of their choosing lends itself to many replays even after the game is completed. The story could end up thinner than many RPGs, as could be argued about DQ3, but RPGamers will find themselves lying awake at night wondering “Could I really run a party of all gunners and sorcerers?” Determination to answer that question might lead to enough replays to make it happen.

Yours,

Danny


Wheels

Fantastic essay! This does a great job of showing why games with player created parties often have such devoted fanbases. These fanbases participate in challenges where they try odd class combinations to see if they can make it through the whole game. RPGs with set characters of course have just as many fans, but I don't think they get quite the same amount of replay. I prefer the best of both worlds, where you have set characters but choose and adjust their classes such as Final Fantasy V. There's also the case of games like Final Fantasy Tactics where you have a main character with his own personality, but can change his class and create your own party members as well. Going for a balanced approach seems to apply more to story based games, as dungeons crawlers do just fine as they are. I hope in the future more story based RPGs recognize the importance of allowing heavy character customization. I give your essay an A+.
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Send in some questions. I'm sure you all have many along with some commentary after a busy E3!

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