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ASK WHEELS
Two Years of Ask Wheels
July 27th, 2012

07/27- 12:00PM EST

Yes that is correct, as of Sunday Ask Wheels will officially be two years old! I have to thank all you great readers for keeping this thing going. Please keep writing in your great questions, and feel free to send in "ask the editor" type commentaries as well. I also need to give a special thanks to The King of Content for providing the longest letters to this column.

On to the letters!





The Letters
The Suikoden Ends With You

" The main reason this is a problem - to be blunt - is that there is hardly any decent writing talent left in the jrpg business anymore."

This isnt true so I am not sure why you placated that guy with this


Wheels

It's not true? I've played a lot of JRPGs with terrible stories. Granted I don't know Japanese so I can't read what the original writers wrote, but whatever. I wasn't placating anyone, we were having a discussion. Personally I think a lack of great writers is a problem for RPGs as a whole, not just in Japan.

"I suppose complicating the lack of good writers is the increased number of JRPG released over there compared to years past"

There are more good writers, and like you said more jrpgs releasing

Can you finally get off this topic? Id like my shot to get in this segment.

And There are other rpgs to talk about besides Suikoden which had 2 great entries this gen

Enough of the Suikoden talk for what seems like the last 5 months of Q&A segments. Enough of the negativity, lets talk about some great jrpgs of this gen. There were a lot of them, so no time to start like the present. I will describe my favorite jrpg on some different platforms this gen.


Wheels

I'm more than happy to get off the topic. I can only respond to what people send me in, and it just so happened that a lot of people wanted to talk about Suikoden. If you want to see me talk about another topic, just write in like you've done now. I'm more than happy to discuss a large variety of topics. As far as two great entries this gen goes, it sounded last week like most of the Japanese audience would disagree with you in regards to the PSP entry. Now let's hear your favorite JRPGs on different platforms!

Chaos Rings (iOS) -  Now, people might be thinking, iOS? BLEH it has no physical controls so how can you game on it? Well as it turns out when it comes to traditional rpgs, pretty darn well........its your classic turn based battle system in a more condensed game package.......Amongst the 3 games release ie: 1,omega,2, The first holds a special place in my heart for proving ios can be good for games/rpgs.


Wheels

Being a huge Apple nerd, I'm not one of those people. Not only that, but these games come from the developer of the Wild Arms series, so there's a team of experienced developers behind them. I haven't played the games yet, but by and large they look to be a lot of fun. My only complaint would be they forced in the Japanese voice-overs, making it a needlessly large download.

ZHP (PSP) -  NIS japans sole original rpg effort on the PSP. And boy was it an amazing effort. Take Disgaea's humor, its charm, the unforgettable grinding, the deep gameplay and instead of putting it in an srpg package, put it in a dungeon crawling roguelike package. Highly under rated, it sold moderately, and barely anyone reviewed it, but the lowest score I saw for the game was an 8. Which just proves the kind of quality we were dealing with. The game also had awesome anime cameos.


Wheels

Won't find any complaints from me about this one. I think this is by far the most accessible roguelike out there. The addition of NIS humor and customization make this adventure one of the best experiences available on PSP. Of course, being a roguelike, it will be tough for many to get into but I really can't recommend this game enough.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 (DS) - Some people might say the psx ff tactics is there favorite. This is my favorite. The PSX game had better characters and story, but the DS title, has the best gameplay and best content of any srpg I've played in such a long ass time. 400 Missions, Many jobs, Side quests, it had the whole gameplay package.


Wheels

The original Tactics is still my personal favorite, but I'm enjoying this game a great deal, even if I've yet to finish it. The first Tactics Advance was a huge time sink for me, and I expect the second one will result in an even larger game clock.

Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn (WII) - I think Ive beaten this game 5 separate times. And for an srpg if thats done, knowing the time sink, it means you love it and I do. I've done everything you can in this game short of doing it blind folded. I beat it without any character dying, I did it getting every item, I did each stage in 10 turns or less even on advanced (very hard). The game also had an unforgettable cast of 20+ characters, each with motive and interesting back story. 



Wheels

Another fine choice. I haven't played it yet as I want to beet its GameCube predecessor first, but I'm sure it will continue the fine quality of the Fire Emblem series.

Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) - The first and really only TACTICAL rpg on the ps3. No grids, complete free range. An amazing war story with the backdrop of a kind of 1940 europe setting. Characters you actually care about, and gameplay that is not too deep that it scares people away but not too shallow that rpg vets cant have a good time. The game was such a cult classic that it spawned 2 more awesome sequels down the line, but they all can thank the very first for lighting the way.


Wheels

Another fine selection. An interesting and original experience from many of the same people who worked on Skies of Arcadia, the game didn't get nearly the attention it deserved. I don't think it would fit into my top spot for the PS3, but it would come very close.

Agarest Wars 1 (360) - Were you expecting maybe lost Odyssey, or Blue dragon or maybe even Final fantasy 13-2, sorry, I will have to disappoint you. Not only did the US 360 version get the exclusive collectors edition with breast mouse pad, it also got the dlc included ON THE CD FOR FREE. The japanese version you had to download. It made it the complete package. Now why do I love this game? Its innovative for an srpg. It has this generational idea, in which choices made in each gen are reflected in the next. And content from each game transfers to the next game with special effects.


Wheels

Wait, what? I don't know too much about this particular topic, so I've tapped a former RPGamer staff member to sum it up...

Writer-In-Exile

Writer-In-Exile sez: I don't even have words, I devoted an unhealthy amount of time trying to play these danged things and they're just so friggin' boring. The battle system has about as much strategy as your average RPG, but due to the SRPG setup each of them takes approximately eight eternities to wrap itself up. The storyline tries to take itself deathly seriously but is the usual generic JRPG twaddle, somehow mixed in with bizarre non-sequitor fanservice. On a technical level the game's pretty much appalling, graphics that would have been rightly called pretty dated on the PS1 are shamelessly shoved onto modern platforms, but somehow not being content with merely looking profoundly dated the game for some reason doesn't run at all well with horrendous load times. Dialog, whether by fault of the translation or more likely the original material fails to convey any real sense of character, so scenes where boring things happen can't be saved because boring people are reacting to them. To put it more simply, Agarest War and Agarest War 0 have basically no redeeming qualities. They aren't even a unique hybrid at this point as Persona or Sakura Wars both do the combination social sim-RPG much better, heck Devil Survivor would also count there. Heck, if you wanted porn, which the advertisers of the game so desperately wanted you to assume the game was, the interenet's got you covered.

Wheels

:-O

Legend of Heroes VI Trilogy (PC): Many people know about these rpgs because the first game in the trilogy was released in the US on the psp. Well, I played the games many years ago now on the PC, and nothing is lost in the translation. What you have is a traditional turn based/srpg hybrid battle system, the most content Ive seen any sprite game have in terms of text, character depth, world immersion. Its truly an ultimate trilogy. And I hope people in the US get to play the second and third chapters because they are not to be missed.

There you have it.


Wheels

If Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky is any indication, the trilogy as a whole should be quite amazing. I still have high hopes that we will eventually see the entire series on Steam, thanks to XSEED's recent successes there. Of course there aren't many JRPG choices on PC. Personally I would have gone with Oath in Felghana.

1. Why hasn't Final Fantasy Type-0 come out in the US?

No, because Sony halted it.

The translation was done, it was set to go on the vita as a physical game. And Sony at hour zero stepped in and demanded exclusive content. Square wouldn't, so it was cancelled.


Wheels

Not sure where in the world you found this story, but there is zero truth to any of this...

2. Will Elder Scrolls Online do anything new with the MMO genre?

no


Wheels

I don't think so either, but I was hoping for more in-depth reasons?

3. Has the EA purchase of BioWare hurt their output?


yes


Wheels

I don't necessarily agree, but I'm not sure what makes you say yes?

4. Does Nintendo of America hate RPGs or are gamers making too much of the Xenoblade/Last Story situation?

They love rpgs. They've localized or published more this gen than any other. We got both games didnt we? hence over blown.



Wheels

I agree that they don't hate RPGs, but I'm not about to bring up the word "love." Nintendo of America does not make business decisions about localizing RPGs based on any form of love or hate, its all simply business. That doesn't always mean they make the right decision, but it has nothing to do with loving or hating a genre.

5. Is Final Fantasy Versus XIII going to reach Duke Nukem levels of delays?

No. It is getting dated at tgs this year

-Alan


Wheels

We'll see about that, but hey it still has 8 years to go before reaching full Duke Nukem delay levels.

Suikoden Team Members

Hey Wheels,

Funny running into a fellow Gaiden team mate on RPGamer. Cool insights too. I knew about Water Margin, but the Romance of the Three Kingdoms part was unbeknownst to me. I was going to leave the Suikoden discussion to rest and just play the games, but apparently I am really not alone in wanting to talk about it and your last column has sparked some more thoughts.


Wheels

It's a small world after all eh? Glad to see I wasn't the only one surprised by that connection. I'm still awaiting some kind of crazy book connection to Suikoden III or something.

First off, I have to admit more and more with TwinBahamut, when he said the game hasn't aged too well. I am currently replaying Suikoden I and thoroughly enjoying it, but some bothersome things do come to light when you scrutinize it. I will say this, even though it's not really part of the first generation of great RPGs (SNES-era), it's still a game from the early years of truly serious RPGs. It was released in a time when localization still wasn't that important, and it shows. So we can't really blame the game for being somewhat poorer than current generation RPGs. But honestly, aside from that, there were other silly little things in it that... we wouldn't accept in an RPG we would buy today.


Wheels

Such as the roar of a dragon sounding like an elephant? Yeah I'll admit it can be a bit rough around the edges. Still, I think its one of the more playable classic RPGs out there. It's a good thing they didn't go with low budgeted PS1 3D graphics for the game!

But that discussion gave me an idea about how Konami could (not should, just could) continue with the franchise.
 
Every fan is crying out for a Suikoden 6, but from Konami's perspective, only the die hard fans, those that have played the series from Suikoden I up, will warm up to it. This is another point to Travis Lucius' perspective on what Suikoden is to developers. It's practically impossible to create a game that continues on a saga that probably very few people know about and expect a lot of sales. The whole reason Suikoden II is so great is because it continues on some things from Suikoden I. Some of the most enjoyable parts to Suikoden V for me was meeting some characters I knew would later join the Liberation Army in Suikoden I. You can't expect Konami to continue that trend, if they want to sell many games.


Wheels

Very true. The connected nature of the games is in a sense the series biggest strength, and yet also its biggest weakness. I think I can see where you are going with this...

So what does that mean? Remake every game. That's what I would do anyways. Get back to Suikoden I, clean up the script, make it more interesting, more intriguing, more in line with how games are localized nowadays!! And whipe away some of those silly inconsistencies. You would do original fans a great service, because they can relive their favourite games, quite probably in 3D, though I am somewhat hesitant to that fact... but I digress... You would do original fans a great service but also create new fans who can become invested in the game world.


Wheels

You know, I think that could be exactly what Square Enix was thinking after Unlimited Saga took away a bit of that series forward momentum. So they went and remade Romancing SaGa with a fresh new look, then did the same for SaGa 2 and SaGa 3. A good way to bring in new fans while at the same time pleasing long time series fans. Granted it isn't exactly the same situation, but it is similar, and seemed to do the series well (in Japan anyway)/

Then, Konami should just accept that they can never release a game as graphically boombastic (I refuse to use the word impressive) as Square Enix does, and also accept that graphics have never been what Suikoden is about, and just create an engine akin to Suikoden V's (maybe a bit nicer) and just release every game with that engine. Don't recreate an engine from scratch for every new entry. That way the games will be cheaper to produce, but also be tied to one another from a graphical perspective. Food for thought, I suppose...


Wheels

Exactly! Just look at what Gust is able to do on the PS3, likely with a much smaller budget than a Suikoden game would have. Just make a simple but colorful graphics engine and go with it. Focus on the gameplay aspects. Maybe even make it a cross-over PS3/Vita title to reach a nice wide audience. Or, alternatively let a western developer take a shot at it like they did with Castlevania. Worth a shot, right?

I write too much... Question time!

Top 5 most loved RPG music pieces, and why. :-)
All the best,
Daniel


Wheels

This is a really tough question, because the answer to this could easily change based on my mood. I'll do my best though. Let's see here...

Dancing Mad - The last boss theme to end all last boss themes. This song has a little bit of everything, and does a superb job of making Final Fantasy VI's final encounter one of the most memorable moments in gaming. This song still gives me chills when it gets going.

Taking the Field
- The essence of Tactics Ogre distilled into one composition. This thrilling track sets the mood for the long and amazing journey that is Tactics Ogre- Let Us Cling Together.

Termination - A fantastic track from Ys Origin that manages to capture the essence and action of the series and fit in some classic themes from the series. I wanted to only pick one song from any one series, so I'm going with this one for Ys.

Suikoden II opening theme
- It took only this song playing for me to know that my $118 had been well spent.

Expectations for the future - You may find the inclusion of this one surprising, but it's just such a crazy Vangelis-like surprise from Sakuraba on the Star Ocean Last Hope soundtrack. Whatever the quality of that game itself, this track is brilliant.

So there you are. This list will probably be different if you ask me again next week. In fact, feel free to ask me again next week!

Much More Hate

Well, since your five most hated RPGs were so humorous, I have to ask: what are your NEXT least favorite RPGS (as in #6-10).


Wheels

Well OK, here you go in no particular order:

Tales of the Tempest - The first game I ever imported. Whoops? This Tales game is so bad that Namco actually removed its designation as a main series title post-release. It was a bust and I was a fool to ever import it. Based on what I could get out of the story from my translation guide, the story was quite terrible as well. Please people, don't ever import this game!

Tales of Phantasia - The game that started it all, finally given an English release! I rushed out to buy this on the day of its release. I was clearly ready for this masterpiece! What I was shocked to find out is how much I ended up hating just about everything about this game. The pokey battle system that lacked any really finesse or fun. The story that was like a weird mix of ideas from the great JRPGs that came before it. So yes, indirectly or directly tri-Ace is responsible for 3/10 of my most hated games.

Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology - OK make that 4/10. Why on earth would you make a game whose selling point is making your own dream team of Tales characters and taking them into dungeons, if you're going to make actually doing that a complete pain to do? Instead you have to take boring generic characters into the game's many bland dungeons over and over until the Tales characters actually like you enough. This would have been better left untranslated.

Zelda II - Wait, how could this possibly be on my list? Listen, bear with me for a second. Zelda II infuriates the heck out of me, not because it is vastly different from the previous games, but because it's tedious and difficult. I'm all for a good difficult game, but the way this game accomplishes it is not good. I think there's a very good reason this title is not remembered as fondly as other Zelda games, or even as fondly as other similar side scrolling games like Metroid. Zelda II, if done right, could have been something special. It is not a bad game, but I hate it because it could have been amazing (and I also hate it because I've given it dozens of second chances).

Legend of Dragoon - Mostly hate this one because I forced myself to keep playing it, hoping it would get interesting and it never did. Normally I wouldn't put a game I had only played one disc of on this list, but it just seemed appropriate.

I expect Star Ocean 4 to be on that list, since hatred of that game appears to be a requirement to work at RPGamer, even though it is a great game (if you look at it from an objective standpoint and don't compare it to 1 and 2, or if you objectively compare it to 3).
 
Fayted


Wheels

As you can see it is not on the list, because a) I haven't played enough of the game and b) I like the battle system a lot so it's unlikely it will make the list. Regardless of that, yes a goodly number of staff members did not like Star Ocean 4, so what? We're all free to our opinions. Plenty liked the game and that's perfectly fine.

I forgot to include this in my previous email.
 
Even though I named myself after the MC of Star Ocean 3, I have no problem with the game being on your most hated list. While I disagree that the battle system is terrible, I have to agree that the plot twist is absolutely horrendous (and the ending just makes it lame).  And, when tri-Ace had the opportunity to say "3 is in a different universe than 1, 2, and 4!" when 4 brought up continuity issues (the plot of 4 involves things that should have made the plot twist of 3 happen at that time in the timeline), instead they decided to say "Oops, we made a mistake.  4 is in a different universe than 1, 2, and 3!  Oh, and we're ending the series."  Forget about making a sequel to Resonance of Fate, Radiata Stories, or a game finally starring Hrist, let's spew out Final Fantasy sequels that have non-conclusive endings (even when the original had a conclusive ending)!
 
...At least we know what one of their next projects should be...I pray to God that a Final Fantasy XIII-4 won't be needed.


Wheels

Glad to see you understand. Seeing how I have since played and enjoyed Radiata Stories, which has a similar battle system, I might be able to get into that element of the game more now than on my initial time with it. Of course, the story would make it hard to do so. It's a shame tri-Ace didn't just take the opportunity to say that 3 was in a different universe. It would make the stories of 1&2 less troublesome, as it is now tough for me to separate those games form the twist of 3. I mean, those games don't even build up to it as far as I can tell. Based on the stories I've heard of Star Ocean 4's director, he didn't really have much interest in even making a game in the series. Could be that most of the company feels the same, even if the games do sell well. In that regard the attitude could be similar for other sequels. I'd love Resonance of Fate and Radiata Stories sequels, but only if the developers are actually interested in doing them. They like to do weird things, so just let them create and hope they produce some more interesting content!

Now as for your mentioning of Final Fantasy related stuff, tri-Ace was hired to help with the game, which doesn't give us any indication of what sort of creative involvement they had. My guess is their involvement wasn't huge. There's indication tri-Ace would be involved in future XIII sequels, and given their most recent output they seem content to do smaller projects like Frontier Gate. You know what, while tri-Ace is working with Konami, how about a tri-Ace developed Suikoden? That would be ... strange.

Twist of Fate

Star Ocean 3 was a bad RPG?

Heresy, sir – although I do agree that the “twist” was kind of not what the story arc needed.  I thought the battle system was one of its best points (much like SO4) and my relative level of hate of the characters was much lower than that of the fourth installment.


Wheels

Remember here that the list I put up last week is games that I personally hated, not games that I think are the worst RPGs ever. There are plenty of boring or truly horrible RPGs that I never played because they were boring and horrible, or they were just too awful to make me angry. This list is about games that made me angry and hateful. Knowing that battle systems are what tri-Ace does best, I'm sure there was plenty to like about the system in Star Ocean 3, the issue here is it never clicked with me, which is a major issue when everything else about the game annoyed the heck out of me.

I haven’t played this in years since giving away my PS2 (in retrospect, a very, very bad call) but remembered putting tons of hours into battle and exploration and the graphics were pretty decent for the time, IIRC.


Wheels

I'm sure you did have a great time with it. Sadly, I did not, and the story issues just complicated my dislike for the gameplay systems.

I can’t believe you didn’t throw something like Beyond the Beyond, FF Adventure or Crystal Chronicles or are those too old for consideration?  There are tons of other lemons that sit on the periphery of my mind but aren’t surfacing somehow.
 
Scott


Wheels

They weren't too old, there are no age limits here. I haven't played Beyond the Beyond yet, but the other two games you mention I loved, so obviously they aren't going to be on the list.

Also, the names sucked.  Again, not as bad as SO4’s but close, Fayt Leingod or Edge Maverick, both are pretty bad.


Wheels

Yeah those all are pretty terrible. I think it is time tri-Ace hired someone better to come up with names!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week folks!

-Wheels


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What I can't wait for:

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