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ASK WHEELS
Team Sonic Goes for Gold
August 10th, 2012

08/10- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another edition of Ask Wheels! A lot of great letters this week, but I'd just like to say that Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is really great, and I can't recommend it enough to anyone with a PSP. It's very old-school in style, but I've been enjoying it quite a lot. Don't let this gem pass you by!

Anyway, on to the letters!





The Letters
XIII

Hey Wheels,

It's been a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time (5+ years) since I've read the Q&A, and I must say, you write well, you have a great sense of logic, you seem very perceptive and experienced, and I admire the respect you provide the readers you disagree with. With that said, I respectfully disagree that FFXIII was even a 'good game'.


Wheels

Thank you! I'm glad you have enjoyed the column. Shall we discuss FFXIII then?

I readily admit, there's a lot to love about FFXIII. The story is great, the characters are amazing, the visuals are phenomenally impressive, the musical score is brilliant, I'll even swallow the battle system being great. But a battle system does not a great game make - and everything else could just as easily describe a movie. The actual game itself, stripped of story, visuals, characters, and music barely makes ok. I felt like I was playing a 3D sidescroller for so many hours of that game, and that epic '25 hour' chapter 11 mark I trudged so long for? I can get a similar level of fun - game wise - in practically any MMO. Do I regret playing through it? No way! Would I recommend it to a fellow gamer - absolutely! But honestly... in order to enjoy all the parts I really loved about FFXIII - I really did feel like I had to *endure* the game itself.


Wheels

Well sure, but I think that's a matter of bad pacing and not necessarily a case of the game being bad. Besides, the "gamey" part, the battle system, takes up a large portion of the gameplay and after a slow start really gets good. So does it have a really slow start, especially if it is your second playthrough? Yes it does. Does that mean it's bad? I don't think so. There's nothing wrong with a very linear RPG, FFXIII just takes it a bit too far at times.

I don't consider any FF made post X to be FF's. There are some Excellent games, truly fantastic games that I love - but there's a magic, an emotion, a sense I have had playing every single Final Fantasy since the original that faded in FFX-2 and seems to have been lost ever since. Even Tactics - a completely different type of game in many ways, managed to capture that spirit I'm talking about. FF:TSW OTOH did not have that FF spirit (I sometimes think it's ironic that they spend that whole movie searching for spirits, and that the 'final' spirit dies.). I can't really explain it, but I do hope you have an idea of what I mean.


Wheels

I find this sentiment odd, since FFXII captured a lot of the style of Tactics. With modern technology the series has had to evolve, and that's what it's done. I know the feeling you're talking about, but at the same time when I really dug into these games I was able to find it. FFXII is essentially Final Fantasy with a BioWare-style battle system, and once I was able to use time magic I felt right at home. With Final Fantasy XIII it was the way classic monster types were re-imagined in XIII's style that made me feel at home. I do completely understand what you mean. I felt it with FFXI, just not the other two. Actually I forgot about Final Fantasy XIV. I had the same issue there!

Anyway, on to the real reasons I'm writing. First, is regarding FF antagonists and villains, namely, the section in your last Q&A regarding FFVII, Shinra, and Sephiroth. I wanted to flesh out the points that were made. Shinra is absolutely the primary antagonist, however I would contest that while Sephiroth is the main villain, he is a minor antagonist (or even as the 'contagonist') as his goals are practically never to flat out stop the protagonists, but rather to reason with them, hinder their efforts, and manipulate them ('puppet').


Wheels

That is a good point, and in several cases, like the infiltration of Shinra headquarters in disc one, he even manages to help them a bit. Also he has one of the best theme songs in the series.

However, Sephiroth is an extension of the story, Sephiroth himself is the ultimate consequence of the terrible experiments performed by the Shinra Corporation. In fact, almost every terrible thing that the protagonists deal with in FFVII is descended from Shinra, and Sephiroth is but one of those things. Everything from Cloud's identity and sanity issues, to Red XIII, Vincent, and Lucrecia being test subjects for Hojo's experiments, to the nature of Sephiroth's existence and his link to Jenova that drives him into his own identity crisis, and eventual slip into madness and his plot involving Meteor.

My point is really this: Final Fantasy VII is ultimately about the fact that you can't just stop a government or company's perverse experiments or from killing the earth by draining it's precious resources. On the contrary - that's the easy part. The hard part is cleaning up the mess, enduring and overcoming the consequences, righting the wrongs, stopping the chain of events that have been set in motion that will destroy the world, and ultimately healing.


Wheels

Wow, I've never really seen FFVII's plot described like that. This gives the game a whole new light for me. Focusing too much on Sephiroth can make the plot look crazy. When you look at it from the angle of Shinra being the only villain throughout, then the plot makes perfect sense. Shinra is the evil you have to fight, and it just so happens unlike some RPGs, beating the evil group doesn't just make things all hunky dorey again. Reminds me a bit of Suikoden II in that way.

On another, brief note, Sephiroth was not evil. Sephiroth was both created by and the victim of terrible experiments that made him into the strongest and most powerful single being known at the time. He was a good man, an honorable man, but his realizations led him into hatred and madness... And that is why he had to be destroyed. Sephiroth was not evil. He was lost, broken, shredded, and alone, and, as it happens, dead. Cloud had friends to guide him through his insanity. Sephiroth had no one.


Wheels

See, now I really want to see a remake of FFVII so they can do a better job of developing this character. Imagine that flashback scene where we first see Sephiroth lose it in glorious HD. Then they can fix up the long list of battle system issues I have as well!

I had some other points, but this email is getting long. And I know how FFVII isn't exactly your favorite either. Not to mention, you probably have a dozen FFVII emails, so I'll leave it at that.

All the best to you,

-Jeremy


Wheels

Well, it isn't exactly my favorite Final Fantasy game, but it's my favorite series so I'm always up for talking about any of the entries (except for the MMOs). Feel free to send me in more thoughts on the game if you'd like! Your thoughts were very interesting.

The RPG Olympics

Dear Wheels,

A sporting event taken place nearby has inspired me to ask which characters you would select for the RPGland Olympic Team in order to get the gold. Obviously I'm not expecting selections for all the events but let's shoot for around ten (including one team event just to make it fun :P).

Bear in mind that strict drug-testing will be conducted so should make sure their potions don't contain any suspicious ingredients ;)

-Severin


Wheels

Alright, let's get this ball running then!

Archery - Green Arrow -Yes this is kind of cheating, but he was in that Justice League Heroes game, so he technically is from an RPG!

Running of all sorts - Sonic - Thank you Sonic Chronicles. Yeah I'm pretty sure Sonic could win every even from the 100m dash to the marathon with ease.

Long Jump - Luigi - Come on now, it's Luigi! The guy can jump, often better than his brother.

Fencing - Cyan from Final Fantasy VI - His swords skills are legendary and I think he'd have no problem doing well in this event.

Beach Volleyball - Lightning and Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII - Yes, I'm an awful person

Judo - Sabin from Final Fantasy VI - He can suplex a train, so I doubt he'd have any issues getting some throws off on people.

Javelin - Knights from the Fire Emblem series - I couldn't really pick a specific one, but these mounted knights use Javelins as a long range weapon so I'm sure they can take on people who trow it just for sport.

Tennis - Mario - I mean, there are some great tennis players in the Olympics, but none of them can use crazy power-ups like Mario.

Water Polo - The best blitzball team from Final Fantasy X - These guys play almost the same sport underwater, I think they can handle a silly above water sport just fine.

Basketball - The Final Fantasy team from Mario Hoops 3 on 3 - Yes since they are originally from RPGs I think these guys count. Yes, if you're wondering, I am suggesting this team of three would destroy teams of five in the Olympics.

There you are!

Tales of Failing

Unfortunately many of the side games of DQ dont have translations

DQ 1-6 on snes have translations. But the side games go neglected


Wheels

Dang, that's a shame. Some of the side games do get translated, and I was hoping that roguelike (the PS2/GBA Torneko game) would be one of them. Oh well, I guess I'd rather see someone translate the first Rocket Slime game anyway. Now if they would just localize the third game...

Top 10 Weakest Enemies We've all been killed by and the story behind it....


Wheels

Oh excellent, this should be fun!

10) Generic RPG Rat

Rat

Story: Rats in FF 12, in the VERY FREAKING BEGINNING, when your in the sewers with van and you have to kill 3 of them. Well, I didnt realize steals were limited to 1 per rat in this game, so I kept stealing, and before I knew it, I had been killed by the rats in the very freaking beginning.

Now this sucked for many reasons. The last save point was before Spoiler alert, you switched from his brother, so you had to go through the entire cut scene all over again


Wheels

Whoops! That had to suck, having to go replay the entire intro section. I can't recall an instance of losing to this very typical intro enemy, but it's weird how often these are used. My favorite usage of it would have to be in The Bard's Tale, where you go in expecting to fight tiny rats and get chased off by a giant fire breathing one.

9) Pidgey

Pidgey

Story: Pidgey looks way more terrifying in that picture than he does in the games. Pidgey, along with Rattata are suppose to be the enemies you beat up on. Picture it, 1996, I had just purchased Pokemon Red. I had been grinding in the grass for hours. Not paying attention to how much health I had. I just kept pouding Tackle ( You should be able to guess which mon I had. And without knowing it, this, this beast level 5 pidgey had killed me, and I warped to the pokemon center, where I told nurse joy my shame. I had been killed by a pidgey.


Wheels

Embarrassing, but with little experience with the game having just come out, I could see it happening. I doubt you're the only one this has happened to. Better than losing to a Jigglypuff or something right?

8) Chu Chu

chu-chu

Story: A slime ball. A freakin slime ball. I died in majoras mask from one of these guys. I was cruising around termina overworld for like 5 hours as goron link, it was so much damn fun........I was on a 3 heart challenge. And literally as soon as the magic meter went out, so I wasnt invincible anymore, I ran right smack into a chu and died. Now you might be saying, there is so much health in the grass, how at 3 hearts could you have died? Well, I was doing it so much THERE WAS NO MORE GRASS LEFT.............And 2 hearts were accidentally removed when I went rolling in some water in a little puddle area. It was terrible


Wheels

It was terrible, but hey, it can happen. I've died from terrible enemies a bunch of times in Zelda games from just not paying attention when I had about half a heart left. It can happen, though your story is crazy!

7) Toadman


Toad Man

Story: The legendary easiest robot master. First appearence? Megaman 4. All he does IS FREAKIN JUMP AROUND LIKE A TOAD. And somehow maybe I wasnt paying attention but I couldnt get the pattern right, and I kept landing under him. And I died. Stupid nes difficulty ( Whistles)


Wheels

Hey, Toadman is easy but if you don't pay attention or get lazy he can easily beat you, and it's happened to me. This one isn't that surprising.

6) WaddleDee

WaddleDee

Story: Look at that <BACON> wipe. So smug, Are those his arms or ears? He has no mouth. Yet somehow he got me to jump into a pit. He was walking towards the pit from the other side, I was jumping over it, Somehow I hit the corner of him. Took fallback damage and went right into the pit. Sort of sucked.


Wheels

Ha! Yeah I've had awful deaths like that in platformers. Probably from this very guy even!

5) Crab

Crab

Story - You ever try fighting these suckers in the very beginning on the PC, if the difficulty is turned up to max and your low on health? I wouldnt recommend it. I was foolish enough to dare fight the mightiest mud crab. I had escaped from the prision, fight my way to the surface, only to meet my doom by lunch.


Wheels

Don't mess with mud crabs man, that's bad juju.

4) Snake

Snake

Story: You know the drill. Fight through a horde of zombies with nary a scratch, open a crate and have a snake bite you draining the last of your health. On hard mode, this happened to me. And the sad part was I hadnt saved, and it sent me too far back..........


Wheels

Oh man that must have been awful. A lest in careful saving. Still, I think this isn't as bad as dying in one of the interactive cut-scenes, which I've done in both Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5.

3) Slime

Slime

Story: How can something so cute, with no limbs kill you? Genetics. Pure Genetics. He most of been tired of being killed all the time, so he went through the weapon X program to become adamantium infused. Wait? you killed the metal slimes too? <BACON>, there is actually a leader slime called king slime. Yeah thats the one I died too.

He has freaking super heal spells, hits like a truck, and still has that stupid slime body.


Wheels

Nothing wrong with losing to slimes, it's happened to all of us! Especially if you've just crossed a bridge in the original Dragon Quest. The crazy monsters wait for you to cross a bridge!

2) Goomba

Goomba

Story: Yes you did. Admit it. On level 1 of the original new super mario bros, he caught you off guard under the first block grouping didn't he? DIDN'T HE? Admit it, he owned your ass. Goombas are mushrooms with 2 stump legs. Sometimes they have spikes on there heads. Sometimes they have wings. Other times they had bruising, and other times, they were your party members. NEVER MATTER. They are vicious head bonking fiends.


Wheels

It's happened to us all man, it's happened to us all.

1) Medusa Head

Medusa head

Story: A floating head...............Tell me if you didnt have this happen to you while playing SOTN on the psx. Your standing on a rotating mechanical cog. You can see the door to the next passage. You can taste it, You can smell it. Your jumping like a fiend not to fall down. You make that fatefull leap...............AND BAM, golden medusa head to the face, your stone now, you fall all the way down to the beginning of the platforming section, your button mashing like a mad man to get rid of it. And the sad part is? By the time you face them you have 10x the health, and 1 sword swing will destroy them. But they get you time and time again.

There you have it........tell me in the comments, are there any embarrassing deaths you'd like to get off your conscience?

Thanks For Reading

-Alan


Wheels

Man, how are these a bad enemy? I hate these things. So many dang times they destroyed me. I hated these more than any other enemy in the Castlevania series. I can't count the number of times they've caused me to fail horribly. Always messing with my precise jumps.

Thanks for this great top ten list, that was fun!

The Crystal Comes Back

Hey Wheels, capital W.  The column comes back eh?


Wheels

Indeed, I've been trying to keep this going, and thanks to some fantastic readers (like you) I've been able to do so. I think the most important thing with this column is consistency, getting it up almost every week even if it isn't always the same day every week. That way, when people write in these lengthy letters they actually have an expectation that I'll respond to it in a timely fashion. I hope to keep this going for awhile yet!

So.  My 80GB Playstation 3 just took a crap on me.  Yeah, YLOD.  So I went out and bought the 160GB "Summer" Bundle that came with the Sly Trilogy and GT5.  Good bundle, but obviously I have a lot of beef. 


Wheels

I'm sure, but I'm just going to go ahead and guess that your beef isn't about the Sly Trilogy. Those games are fantastic. Need to pick up that collection myself.

It's pretty lame that Sony took out the emulation code for playing PS2 games one their console.  Why?  Now I have to hunt down component cables for my old PS2 so the games will look SOMEWHAT decent when I want to play them, which is a lot.  So this is kind of ridiculous don't you think?  What makes it an even more slap in the face is that still, they play original Playstation games, but you know what bugs?  They look like crap.  So on to my next MAJOR topic.


Wheels

Ah the backwards compatibility issues. This one drives me nuts. If it's software based, which supposedly it was after the early PS3s, how does remove that software save them money, or do anything other than create angry customers? Did they want to keep PS2 sales going? Did they want to capitalize on PS2 HD collections? I don't really have any answer, but none of the possibilities make much sense. PS1 classics on PSN do perfectly fine, so it's not like having PS1 backwards compatibility has hurt digital PS1 sales. PS1 games can look pretty bad played on the PS3, but I don't think there's much they can do about it. Heck, many of the games have aged so badly they don't need any help to look awful. At least most games work fine, that's all that matters.

What is up with Square?  Why haven't they done any major HD remakes?  Seriously.  I wanna see every Final Fantasy game re-done in HD.  Talk about cash cow.  I don't want to have to go buy a Vita for these HD remakes either, especially when my PS3 is perfectly capable of making this possible.  Cheers to Konami and Capcom for making all of their classics HD.  Square needs to get on the ball and start releasing HD masterpieces like the Kingdom Hearts series and Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, available.  What's up with them?  Kinda really bugs me. 


Wheels

I really wish I had an answer for this one. This is Square Enix, who know how to port their properties all over the place and hit all our nostalgia buttons. So why no PS2 HD collections? I know they're doing so with Final Fantasy X, but it seems to be taking forever, and is just one game instead of a collection. Seems like a low-risk very high reward type of prospect, so I don't get it. Could it be technical issues of some kind? I mean with Kingdom Hearts III still a long ways off, a nice Kingdom Hearts I&II HD collection for PS3 would be nice.

When Wild Arms came out on Playstation, that game kicked butt, and it still does.  What a good game.  Great music, straight forward battles. and a good story.  Unfortunately 2 lacked a lot of things and turned me off to any other offerings the series had.  But still, I wanted to try 3, 4, and 5.  What's up with companies these days.  Does it really take a lot of effort to convert games to higher resolution?  Seems to me like its just easy money.  Kinda sad gamers get shafted like this.  What's up with new releases into the Shin Megami series too, why haven't we seen any next gen titles from series like Wild Arms, Suikoden, and Megami?  Has Sony and these developers really lost their touch?  I feel lost as a gamer.  I just wanna play my old games then. 


Wheels

Well there's actually different reasons for each of them as far as I can tell. Wild Arms' developer has been working on those Chaos Rings games for iOS which have done quite well. Wild Arms V didn't exactly light up the sales charts, so they seem quite content with Chaos Rings. The Suikoden series had a dramatic drop in sales after Suikoden IV, so Konami tried to reboot the series with a less expensive entry on the DS. An HD entry seems like a tough call. As for Shin Megami Tensei? Atlus goes where the Japanese market goes. They had a lot of titles on the PS2, because that's what their primary audience was playing on. After the PS2, the audience went to DS and PSP and that is where you'll find fresh amazing entries in the Shin Megami Tensei series like Devil Survivor and Strange Journey. I could see them doing another Persona game on the PS3 and 360, but I would expect other games in the series to stay portable for the forseeable future. The Japanese market went portable crazy, and the RPGs followed.

And on a last Suikoden note.  Why, haven't they released Suikoden 2 on the PSN yet?  That's lame too.  How long has the first one been out on the PSN, for a long time....

I love the consistency, thanks Wheels.

Ian


Wheels

I wish I had an answer. The first Suikoden showed up as one of the very first PS1 classics and had to have gotten some visibility because of that fact. Yet years later and still no Suikoden II on PSN? There must be some kind of technical issues or some other problem. It just makes no sense.

Anyway, thanks for the praise and the great questions, I look forward to hearing from you again!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week folks! Are you American gamers ready for Last Story next week? Send me in your thoughts on the game!

-Wheels


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