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Q&A Cubed
  August 23rd, 2013

08/23- 7:00PM EST

Welcome to another episode of Ask Wheels! The forum thread to post questions has worked out quite nicely so far, so thank you to everyone who has taken advantage of it. Without further ado we are going to jump right into the questions. I've got to get back to writing the .hack review I keep talking about!

The Letters
Tales of Whoops!

Name the top 3 WRPGs/series that would make killer Japanese SRPGs.


Wow, that's a fantastic question. I thin the first  one would have to be Dungeons and Dragons based, specifically using the modified rules and setting from BioWare's two Baldur's Gate games. There's already the basic game rules setup there, so it would just need to be converted to SRPG form. Next up I'd go for actually go for a unique Alpha Protocol take on the SRPG where you only control one spy and have to strategically take out enemies using stealth. Finally I think the Warcraft universe would make for a great SRPG, especially with the series obvious strategy roots. This would allow for separate campaigns, or one campaign mixes in the world's many races and classes. I think there would be a ton of potential there.

Describe the game systems you would implement in a kart racing RPG.


Well the base mechanics would be akin to your usual Mario Kart/Sonic All-Star type gameplay. However, instead of the usual item box pickups, players would get some kind of ability points that can be built up to user certain player specific abilities. For example a low number of points (just going to apply these ideas to Mario Kart for now) would allow Mario to throw a green shell while waiting to build a large number of points would allow the use of a giant mushroom. Level ups (for experience gain based on final race position) would open up new skills and allow for further kart improvement and unlock new kart types. I think there's a lot of potential here, and now I'm dreaming of a kart RPG I'll probably never see.

If you had to pick any character's battle chat/cries as your own voice for when you do pretty much any activity, who would you choose?



I think I'd just have to go Olivier from Trails in the Sky so I could constantly be reminded of his hilarity.


Hi Wheels!

Yes, I know it's been a while since my last letter. My apologies! There's even a thread now to make it easier, but I'm just so used to sending in emails.


That's OK! I know it can be tough to come up with good questions and/or commentaries so don't sweat it. Now let's see what's on your mind.

Ah well, no use beating myself up over it. I have a bit of a long-winded, silly question but I figured I'd ask it anyway. Do you believe a game can be both a JRPG and a strategy/tactics RPG? Let me explain.
I got into a discussion with someone over whether or not Fire Emblem: Awakening is an SRPG or a JRPG. There are many things wrong with that, I know, but bear with me. Basically, this person was saying that because Awakening is somewhat less strategic than previous games in the series, that it was more of a JRPG. He has a point with the less strategic thing--there is little variety in the maps and the majority of them have either "rout the enemy" or "defeat the boss" as a win condition. Past games had escaping, defending for X amount of turns, and the like. However, I think it's rather odd to say that just because previous games had maps that were more strategic doesn't make this game not an SRPG.


I mean, that's just absurd. The level of strategic depth has no baring here. Its an SRPG plain and simple. The sub-genre definition applies to a type of gameplay style, not to a type of gameplay style matched with a very specific strategic depth. Besides, try playing the game on the harder difficulties and try telling me it's less strategic. Sorry you spent time on such a silly argument!

Also, it is a JRPG. It's an RPG from Japan, or perhaps more specifically, a strategy/tactics RPG. It's not "more of a JRPG than an SRPG." That's just dumb. Awakening has maps, with units, and you position them to attack. And despite what I pointed out earlier, the slightly more straight-forward maps in Awakening don't make it that much less strategic, just a little bit. There is a bit more emphasis in Awakening on character customization, but that's where the RPG aspects come in. If you want a more strategic game, how about an actual strategy game like Advance Wars or Starcraft?
Okay, I think I'm done ranting. Your thought on this matter?

-Strawberry Eggs


Well speaking on JRPG that term is awful because people take it to mean either an RPG made in Japan or essentially a "Dragon Quest-Like." It can be a pain trying to have a conversation if people don't know right off the bat what they mean by the term. Trying to pin down a game's exact genre can get a bit pointless anyway, like when we just start getting into tactical vs. strategic. Awakening is a very good game and that is what should matter.

Tales of Favorites

Now that I've rolled the credits on Xillia, it's become clear that it may just be my new favorite Tales game (and by correlation, my new all-time favorite game.) Fix this for me by convincing me that Symphonia is still superior, so that my mind may be at peace!



Well for starts I think you need to let it sit for a bit. You've got to let the positive vibes coming from finishing a great game pass a bit and then you can look back on it with a clearer view point. That said, would it be that bad to have a favorite? Symphonia is great and all, but Xillia has years of Tales ups and downs to build from to make it a better game. That's no knock on Symphonia, which is a fine RPG with a superb localization for its time. I think you should wait until you replay Symphonia via the HD collection next year to make a final determination. That way even if you still like Xillia better at least your mind will be at ease. So there you are, I guess I failed at your request?

Tales of Hybrids

I've found myself thinking on the subject of hybridized rpgs quite a lot lately (well, relatively speaking).  In particular, I've found myself thinking of the Borderlands series and why it doesn't appeal to me.


Ah Borderlands, I don't think we've talked about it much in Q&A.

The conclusion I came to in the end, was that I don't enjoy games that take science fantasy as an excuse to stray into the realms of absurdity and I don't like shooters where a bullet to the head won't kill a humanoid that isn't wearing a really, really thick helmet.  The Borderlands world, while an absurdity in itself, is nonetheless possible to engross oneself into... if one is able to ignore how jarring the gameplay can be for people who have played shooters frequently in the past and the fact that the characters tend to be two dimensional and lackluster in general.  An rpg can get by without a story if it has good characters and it can also get by without good characters if it has a good story (if it has both, it is ideal, but increasingly that is becoming a 'pie in the sky' dream).  However, if it is stuck with both a weak story and weak characters, it becomes reliant on the gameplay.  To be blunt, the Borderlands' series gameplay is frequently counter-intuitive if you are used to rapidly shooting six people in the head before moving on to your next spot of cover, expecting them to be nice and dead like good little humanoids.  The more efficiently you can play a normal shooter, the more counterintuitive the Borderlands games are... or at least that was my experience.


I think at times it suffers from the same issue that people had with the first Mass Effect and Alpha Protocol. When you mix dice-rolls and RPG mechanics with the skill-based nature of a shooter, it can feel off-putting to the player. I never ran into this with Bordlands like I did at times with the other two, but I guess that could be that I used a lot of Shotguns. It certainly can be counter-intuitive but it gets better as you get  used to it and start to play it more like Diablo the shooter. I think the optimal mix of shooter and RPG would be something more like Fallout 3, but that obviously doesn't really work for a co-op type game. I think once you get used how these games work, they're a lot more fun to play.

Now here is a question... why did they revive the Breath of Fire series only to completely depart from anything that might have possibly connected it to the themes of the original series?  I won't elaborate because there are plenty of articles talking about it right now, but it gives me a bad feeling about what might happen if companies start reviving other such properties that fell by the wayside.  It seems that they don't understand that if you want to play to nostalgia, you have to create something that stimulates that nostalgia.


Honestly I have no idea what they're doing. It could turn out once the full game is show that it in fact has a lot to do with the past games, but if that were the case why not show it? Why try and just use a name for nostalgia but not actually provide anything nostalgic? I don't get it. This isn't a situation where they're taking a series in a different direction like with Dragon Quarter, it basically looks like something completely unrelated with a familiar name slapped onto it to try and sell it.

Now, for my experience with Shadowrun Returns.  This was my first time to play a Kickstarter game, and I was pleasantly surpri- oh well, not really surprised.  The game was pretty much what I thought it would be, though the leveling system was awkward - extremely so.  If I have a complaint, it is the fact that they didn't give you any capability to move around freely in the city as a whole.  That and being reliant on autosaves sort of ruined my mood at times.


I'm not a big fan of autosaves, though it doesn't cause issues in most games. That said I haven't played Shadowrun Returns but the result sounds like exactly the type of old-school RPG you'd expect from the project. I'll have to try it at some point.

Despite that, I think Kickstarter might be the gleam of hope for the genre as a whole and indie companies in particular.  As it is, being reliant on investment to pursue the making of their dream games has been one of the biggest causes for the genre's stagnation (mostly because companies - particularly jrpg companies - wanted to treat video games like any other product) followed by the tendency to abandon everything old in pursuit of all-new systems and crappy storytelling.

Travis Lucius


Kickstarter has already been a great boon for RPGs, and will likely continue to be. It should be interesting to see what types of RPGs come out of it. I'd love to see someone kickstart a Suikoden type game!

See you all next week!

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