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ASK WHEELS
Hardened Edition
August 11th, 2011

08/11- 12:00PM EST

   Entries for the contest have now closed! I give to you the entrants: FriendOfAgnes,  Kain V, Nightfox, Clephas, Paladia, Scott O., and RivalShadeX. If I'm missing anyone let me know as soon as possible! I'll be deciding a winner by simulating matches in a fighting game of some sort (or sports game if I can't find a fighting game that does computer vs. computer matches). Since there's an odd number currently, someone will randomly be selected to get a bye in the first round. First set of results will be up next week!

Anyway, on to your letters.





The Letters
Go-To Platform

Greetings, Wheels:

You asked what platform could replace the current PSP as the go-to JRPG platform. Although I suspect that the PSP will remain relevant in Japan for at least a year past the release of the Vita so it'll get a PS2-like tail, eventually Sony will try to get everyone on the Vita.


Wheels

I'd have to agree with you there. Considering the continued appeal of the PSP, and the fact the digital versions of PSP games will work on the Vita, it seems quite likely they will continue supporting it for a while. This is a bit of a mixed blessing, since it seems unlikely that many of these PSP games will make their way overseas given the sad state of the PSP here. Then again, perhaps the digital backward compatibility of the Vita will help us in that regard. We shall see!

When that happens, I'm expecting the next big JRPG system to not be the Vita, but the 3DS. It checks all of the boxes for Japan: portable, still relatively immune to piracy concerns, and the controls/screen size are of a similar size to the PSP to allow for porting straight across. At least, that was part of my hope when I dropped $198+tax for it before the price drop. The only problem for a JRPG fan who lives in the wrong continent is the bloody region lock...


Wheels

Yes the region lock does stink, though I'm sure someone will find a way around it. You could be right about this, since the Vita's design seems more focused on western audiences. This all depends on the 3DS sales picking up of course. Excitement seems to have increased with the online gaming community since the price drop was announced, but we'll see if consumers respond.

However there may be a 3rd option possibility - despite the wishes of seemingly every person on a non-RPGamer messageboard, Dragon Quest X is still coming to the Wii. Do you think there's a chance that the Dragon Quest sales could cause a halo effect that kick-starts Wii JRPG development? If it gets anywhere near the sales that DQIX did in Japan (4mil+), surely the likes of Imagepooch (sic) and Falcom would want to
take advantage of this.


Wheels

My guess would be that no, regardless of how well Dragon Quest X sells it will not kick-start RPG development on the Wii. After all, remember that Dragon Quest VII came at the end of the PS1's lifespan, and it certainly didn't generate a revival of PS1 RPGs despite huge sales numbers. Depending on how close it comes out to the Wii-U, it may actually help sales of that system, and perhaps lead to more RPGs there. As for smaller companies like Falcom, I'd expect them to stick to portables like they have been.

Or am I just dreaming because I'm a Wii-only gamer thanks to only having an SDTV still, and the traditional retail JRPG content is limited to Arc Rise Fantasia, Tales of Symphonia, and, uh, that's it? (If it wasn't for VC and After Years on WiiWare, I'd have dumped it long ago and gone portable-only.)

Thanks for the work!
- Shaymin


Wheels

Wait, you know you can play PS3/360 on an SDTV right (stupid question, I'm assuming you don't due to the issues HD games often have on SDTVs, such as tough to read text)? Anyway, wishful thinking sure, but if that cool trio of Wii RPGs would make it to the US, you'd have plenty to play before Dragon Quest X comes out. You could also play Rune Factory and Shiren on your Wii! Anyway, I'm sorry to say you may be out of luck as far as Wii RPGs go. Don't give up just yet though! There may be a few more RPGs before the Wii-U takes center stage.


The Emperor of Content

Mr. Rubber Wheels,
Alright, Q&A is fueled by content.  That's what I'm here to provide.  Let's do it!

I've never played Legend of Mana.  Compare it to the other games in the series, and make a case for why I should.  Also make a case for how much it's worth in monetary terms.
 
Wheels

Yes! You always provide a plethora of great questions sir, let's see what you've got this week.

Legend of Mana is tough to peg in the series as it isn't part of the main series. It plays out more like a brawler than it does an action RPG, despite the fact that you do gain levels, learn new skills, use magic etc. You'll notice familiar enemies and spirits, but beyond that there is little that ties it in with the previous games. Despite this, I highly recommend it based on the brilliant story-book visuals, the fantastic music, and the "go at your own pace" style of gameplay. An epic adventure it isn't, but considering you can get it for under ten bucks on PSN, it has a low price of admission to give it a try. Just go in with an open mind, and don't expect it to be anything like Secret of Mana.

SaGa Frontier 1, 2, or both?  I know you'll have plenty to say on the subject, since I'm feeding you plenty of Kawazu material.

Wheels

I know plenty about SaGa Frontier 1, but you may find it strange that I have yet to play the second game. I plan to fix this soon, as I had been saving it for a "rainy day." I suppose no new SaGa game on the horizon qualifies for this.

Now back to the first SaGa Frontier. You should give this a try. It features several different playable characters, with no pre-set order in which you need to play their stories. The stories aren't brilliant, but they're interesting enough, and the battle system is a fun and challenging ride. I highly recommend you give this game a try. At the very least, it's much easier to figure out than Unlimited Saga!

Enough of that!  Connect Action in Arabia to Solid Runner!  This one ought to be really fun, since it never saw a home video release - ANYWHERE!

Wheels

Aha! I seem to have found information to the contrary. According to IMDB, Action in Arabia was released on home video by RKO Home Video ->Turner now owns the rights  to the films from this company -> parent company Time Warner owns DC comics->Sony Online Entertainment published DC Universe Online -> Sony distributed Square's film Final Fantasy The Spirits Within -> Square-Enix owns the rights to the Ogre Battle series -> Atlus published the PS1 version of the first Ogre Battle game -> Atlus published Demon's Souls -> Demon's Souls was developed by From Software -> From Software developed King's Field -> King's Field was published by ASCII in the US -> ASCII published Solid Runner

After a year of hosting Q&A, how would you judge yourself next to some of its previous job-holders? 

Wheels

I don't like to judge myself, as I often have a poor opinion of my own work. I'd say making it through one year puts me up there though, right? Q&A is tough to keep going, though really the only reason I've been able to do it is thanks to great readers providing plenty of material, along with staff like yourself helping out.

Falcom's success is partly due to a very loyal fan base (I know Wyrdwad will see this, he seems to have a superpower relating to Falcom talk), and also because a lot of its work seems to be oriented toward the PC. At least it was - recently Falcom has focused on the PSP, but that can't last much longer. I've enjoyed most of the Falcom games I've played, but I feel no urge to sample everything the company has done. Partly that's because I tried Sorcerian on the Mega Drive and gave it five minutes before shutting the game off forever, partly because I don't rank the Ys games among my favorites even though I've mostly enjoyed them (not the fifth game though), and also because exploring everything the company has done will take a very long time. I'm too free with my gaming schedule to pin it down with nothing but Falcom stuff.

Wheels

Oh the glorious and confusing history of Falcom. Did you know that Ys I has been released on like nineteen different platforms? Regardless, I wouldn't recommend digging into everything Falcom has done. A lot of their earlier games just aren't worth your time. You should play all the recent Ys games, specifically the PC versions. Oath in Felghana is so much better on PC.

As for Sorcerian: once I got into an action screen, I found that my characters had some of the floatiest jumps I've ever seen (it's a side-scrolling format) and their absolutely pathetic attack range made getting killed way too easy.  Not fun.
Speaking of Falcom games that go against its usual trends, I hear Brandish isn't much fun.  Can you comment?

Wheels

Sorcerian is a tough game, but I feel like a little polishing of the gameplay could give this old-school RPG game some new life. Apparently there was such a remake, but good luck finding obscure old Japanese PC games! As for Brandish, I can't really get behind the strange controls involving rotating the entire screen, but Brandish is still an interesting action take on the roguelike genre. If you have to play it, ignore the original and get the remake for PSP. I think it still does the screen rotating, but its a bit better with newer graphics.

I have to keep the Shining Force III reminiscence shorter than usual this time, but Scenario 3 begins with Julian heading south to the Destonian Empire in order to save it from an attack by what Sega translated as the Walcuray. Gracia, the current Innovator and thus the only person who can actually offer a threat to the Vandals, is with him (remember? He who was rescued by Medion from the formidable forces of Bulzome). Julian is whatever level he left Medion's force as, while Gracia and Kate (an archer) are level 5 promoted. As his starting centaur, Julian gets Donhort, who assisted Medion for awhile under computer control, but finally does what you want now instead of whatever the computer decides. Also, as Gracia is vital to the story, his death costs you a battle the same way Julian's does, though this being Shining Force that only means losing half the current cash (and a friendship levels).

Leading the Walcuray is the fourth High Priest of Bulzome, Goriate. He doesn't get as much screen time as Fiale, Basanda, and Dessheren do. That's a little disappointing.

Wheels

Very interesting, I can't wait to make it that far in. You mention the Vandals, and I have to ask, how much does Shining Force III tie in with Shining the Holy Ark? It's a question that has always puzzled me.

One other thing: depending on Medion's choice in an early battle with general Produn's forces back in Scenario 2, Julian may or may not have general Edmund on his side.  If he doesn't have Edmund, then after the first two battles he'll get both Bridget and Isabella.  If Edmund is there, only Bridget will join for now.  Bridget is a Spark-centered mage, while Isabella is not only the first person Julian has on his team who can use Heal (Gracia has Aura, but that drains his MP pretty fast) but is also Domaric's daughter and thus an imperial princess.  If Edmund is not there, Julian can recruit Produn later.  Since the trigger for this was Medion deciding whether to spare Produn's wife Stella or not, his feelings will have been shaped quite dramatically.

Wheels

Wait a second here, choices from one game affect things in the next? Seems crazy to see something like that this far back, when we make such a big deal of it with Mass Effect. You don't usually see this many different variances in story based on player choice in a JRPG. Makes it sound like the team knew this would be their last Shining Force, and put their heart and soul into it. Of course they may have put their heart and soul into it just for the heck of it.

How's the Godzilla education going?  Don't make me assign more viewings, the series got notoriously silly after the first movie.  Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster features Godzilla and Rodan batting a rock back and forth, and that's only the fifth movie.  Then again, the more recent movies dumped most of the overt silliness.  Godzilla 2000 used some awful CGI to show him underwater though.  CGI Godzilla = BAD.  Just remember what Matthew Broderick was running from.

Wheels

I actually haven't gotten to it yet, but will do so as soon as possible! I may watch Godzilla 2000 for the heck of it. I loved the soundtrack back in the day (despite never seeing it). Green Day should be on every (OK not really) movie soundtrack.

Connect The Magnetic Monster to Dragon Quest VIII!

Yep, time to get going.  Plenty of material.
JuMeSyn

Wheels

I'm going to save this for next week, because the first one of these was tough enough!


Dark Tower Game?

Hi, Wheels!  Since you brought this up, I thought you might be interested in the following.  I haven’t heard anything since this, but that also means I haven’t heard that it’s been canceled.

What did you think of the final book?  In case you haven’t read it yet, I won’t mention any spoilers (there are two specific things King did in the finale that irked me to no end), but I will say it left me very disappointed.
 
You’re an excellent Q & A host – keep up the good work!!
 
Jbumi

Wheels

Thank you for the complement sir!

 I have yet to finish the final book of the Dark Tower series, though I am currently reading it. It is quite strange so far, and I'm not convinced that it will provide a satisfying ending. We shall see though!

As for the whole Dark Tower movie project, it sounds like that may be falling by the wayside, and likely any possible game may be headed the same way. Which is a shame. I really think an RPG involving many different versions of Earth, or even just exploring Roland's broken one would be a lot of fun. I can't predict if we'll ever see such a thing, but it would be a shame if the interesting universe King created in the series isn't explored in a game.

Please Sir, I Want Some More

Will there ever be another in the Chrono Trigger series?? i miss good rpg's!!

-Andrew


Wheels

Hey now, I understand how you feel, but there have been a great deal of great RPGs since Chrono Trigger came out. For example Radiant Historia is vaguely similar to Chrono Trigger and also quite brilliant. I'm not sure why there hasn't been more games in the series, given the popularity, but it doesn't look like it will happen. So the best I can suggest is that you branch out and try many RPGs. Try games like Suikoden II, Persona 4, Demon's Souls etc. There are many great RPGs out there, often in forms you don't expect. I hope you found some games that grab you as much as Chrono Trigger clearly did!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Next week the first round of the contest will be complete, and I'll try and provide some sort of silly commentary as to how the simulated matches went.

See you then!

-Wheels


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