|This Week, Reach For
|September 15th, 2010
09/15 - 12:00PM EST
Normally I mostly play RPGs, but this week is all about Halo: Reach. Being a huge fan of
Bungie since their Mac days, it's a bit bittersweet to see them
make their final Halo game, especially having no idea what they'll be
working on next other than the fact it's an action game for Activision.
We shall see! I'm hoping they'll still be slightly involved in future
Halo games in some way. Anyway I've talked about this for way too long!
Let's get to another week of crazy RPG questions!
Hey Wheels! I haven't had a chance to write you in awhile, and
I'm kind of afraid I might not get to again for some time! I just
had a few quick questions here.
Oh hey, this is much less crazy then your last e-mail, let's see what
kind of questions you've got!
1.) Have you ever played Skies of
Arcadia? If so, what did you
of the protagonist Vyse? Do you prefer can-do heroes like him, or
moody heroes like Cloud or Squall?
I haven't played Skies of Arcadia yet,
saving it for a rainy day when I need a good classic RPG. I
should probably play it some time soon I think. I do have the Gamecube
version laying around though, so I'll get to it!
As for your question, I prefer heroes who are nothing like Cloud or
Squall. I don't think in an RPG the main hero necessarily needs to be
likable, they just need to be interesting, well written characters.
Neither Squall nor Cloud were, and I like both of their games! I never
understood why Squall was such a sulky character, there wasn't enough
background for it!
2.) Why is it so dark in these woods? I thought it was a full
moon just a few minutes ago.
I agree, the woods in some games are just way too dark, and I'm sure
some of them even show a full moon before you go in! I can't think of
any good examples offhand though. I get it's supposed to be dark, but
it's a game and it's nice to be able to see what you're doing!
3.) Did you play Mass Effect 2?
you think of its take on
combining RPG and action elements?
I love the combination of RPG and action elements, and my playthrough
of Mass Effect 2 only
increased this love. It just adds so much depth to your typical action
game, and I'd love to see it much more often, especially in shooters.
To that end, I wish more companies making Action RPGs would focus on
getting the action part right before worrying about the depth of their
RPG mechanics. Too often I've played Action RPGs with cool systems in
theory, but they just get the action part so very wrong. The action in Mass Effect 1 had so many issues,
that were only made up for by good story and cool set piece encounters.
In the hands of a lesser developer, ME1
would have been awful. Ys Seven, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, and Mass
Effect 2 are all great examples of how to do an Action
4.) Have you ever seen a, uh... hairless bear before? At least I
think that's what it was. It was moving awfully fast. I
only got a glimpse of it.
I seem to remember some kind of weird hairless bear in a Resident Evil game or something. I
can't remember exactly what game though, maybe it was actually Parasite Eve or something? Maybe it
wasn't even hairless, but I remember some kind of weird Bear creature.
So, uh, does that answer your question?
5.) Is it possible for RPGs to be scary? The majority of the ones
I've played have relied on fighting the same monsters again and again,
yet the people at TVTropes are more than willing to fill the "Nightmare
fuel" pages with examples from them. Are they just being wimps?
Probably for the most part, but Demon's
absolutely proves RPGs can be scary, to
the point that I
sometimes call it the Survival Horror RPG. For example it's got one
great prison stage that is so quiet save for the occasional creepy
sound, and it's guarded by these mind-flayer like creatures that carry
around some kind of bell that is your only warning to their presence.
It has a really creepy atmosphere that is pulled off extremely well.
Granted all the areas in the game aren't like this, but I think the
game pulls off scary pretty well. RPGs like these need to be real time
though, because in no way would a turn based encounter with scary
monsters creep me out.
6.) Have you ever been on black river trail before? I don't think
this is the way I came. Why is it so quiet? What happened
to all the birds? I don't thinkkkkkkkkkqiwqoewi......
WHEELS ITS REAL. THE BEAST IS REAL
DON'T COME. I CAN'T ESCAPE
IT SEES ME
IT SEES EVERYTHING
-Beat (added by Wheels because he obviously was otherwise occupied to
sign off his letter properly)
This reminds me of Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. I
think that would make a great RPG don't you....OK you probably can't
answer but yeah, that would be cool. The last boss could be an
unwinable battle where you get arrest by the police afterward. It
would be great! Anyway, please write in again Beat....if you survived
the monster attack that is.
Welcome to the Venting Hour
I’m completely new to this site and just happened to stumble
upon it. I’ve read through a few of the Q&A’S and I feel this
is a good place to vent/get some info.
It is such a place, so vent and I
shall answer your questions and try and cool your anger if needed!
What is the deal with Japanese developers trying to stray away from
what a JRPG is and trying to “westernize” it? More and more it seems
that JRPG’s are suffering from identity crisis. This gaming gen I have
yet to find a JRPG that is either genre defining, “DragonQuest VIII”,
revitalizing “Final Fantasy VII”,
some will argue against that,
or a game that we will talk about in 10 years “Chrono Trigger”. My
favorite JRPG this gen is still “Lost
Odyssey”. It was what a JRPG
should be, epic story, great cast of characters, great locations, and
in my opinion a damn fine battle system. Which leads to my next
question, why does it seem that everyone is trying to distance
themselves from turn based battles? Now most games seem to have more of
a “Real Time Action” battle system, I can understand it can come of as
old and last gen “Blue Dragon”
or weird when not done right “Last
Remnant”, but in good hands, or with the right twist it is still
enjoyable “Lost Odyssey, Final Fantasy XIII”. Are sales that
The PSX and PS2 era were ripe with great JRPG’s turn based or not, in
your opinion what needs to be done to get back on track? Are fans too
jaded now? Is the reliance on what is now referred to as RPG
“clichés” hurt more than help? Or is it just a generational
issue where the JRPG is now a thing of the past?
Alright that is a lot of frustration to take in at once, but I will try
and answer it the best I can. The problem is two-fold. Problem number
one, you are looking in the wrong place for classic style JRPGs!
Portables are what are big in Japan right now, and it's there that you
will find some new classics, which include things like Dragon Quest IX, 7th Dragon, and Valkyria Chronicles II. Overall
though, Japanese RPGs are much more diversified than they used to be,
so you'll find everything from First Person Dungeon crawls, to heavily
Action focused RPGs like the Ys series. This is not a bad thing.
Classic turn based games are great, but they've pretty much been over
done at this point. You'll still find some amazing turn based games,
like Dragon Quest IX, and of
course Persona 3 and Persona 4. Even these games are
different from some of the classics in other ways, such as the life-sim
aspect of the Persona games,
and the multi-player aspects of Dragon
I don't think the variety of styles means that JRPGs lack an identity
though, what it means simply is that there are more developers than
before, and better technology allows for many more kinds of RPGs.
A lot of things, such as Final
Fantasy XIII's fantastic battle system simply could not have
been done on older hardware. If you look back at the SNES era, there
were not as many developers, and a lack of technology to do a lot of
different styles. So what defines a JRPG then? Well, simply put, it is
an outdated term, and somewhat meaningless. We should be talking about
what types of RPG each of these games coming out of Japan is instead of
simply lumping them all together. If anything, we can now lump western
RPGs together in the same way that we used to do it with JRPGs. Western
RPGs are essentially either Bioware/Bethesda style games or Diablo style games. I'm getting
off the track here though. What I would suggest is to take a harder
look at these real time games and give them more of a chance. If you
play Final Fantasy XII, for
example, you can play battles in essentially a turn-based fashion.
Now, this doesn't completely answer why there are fewer turn-based
RPGs, but I can give you a good answer right now, straight from an
interview of Kawazu in a recent Nintendo power, asking about the lack
of turn based RPGs:
"[Turn-based] projects are not being green-lit because of the
assessment that turn-based RPGs are not received well overseas."
That pretty much tells you all you need to know as far as turn-based
RPGs on non-portable systems. I wish it weren't so, but I think sales
of the few turn-based RPGs released on HD consoles here pretty much
proves this out. Honestly though, it's for the better. For the most
part, turn-based games are a relic of old hardware, and going real-time
provides many more interesting options that can help move the genre
forward. Sometimes melding the two even provides some interesting
battle systems, just look at Valkyria
Chronicles. So my best advise to you is not to thing of JRPGs as
a turn-based thing, and accept the new.
OK now that I've vented some quick questions, any idea what the holdup
is with a new Suikoden or Breath of Fire.
is no holdup, we just got the DS game, which seemed to be their attempt
to make the series appeal to a wider audience. I don't think it worked,
so hopefully they'll try again with something more along the lines of
the main series, and accept that it is a niche RPG series. I would
expect the next game in the series to be a portable game though, as
that would be the best way to keep it profitable.
I hate to say it, but the Breath of
Fire series is dead. At least it went out in a bang though, as
different as it was Dragon Quarter
is an absolute bold classic. It takes a lot of guts to change a series
like that and make something so fresh and different. They succeeded in
making a brilliant game. They failed at getting it to sell though, and
I think it was a big enough failure that it has put an end to the
series, at least for now. There have been some re-releases of the older
games (3 on PSP, 1&2 on Gameboy advance), but that doesn't mean
anything as far as new games go. Keep holding out more hope for new Suikoden though!
Lastly let's see if you can connect Ninja
Gaiden to Ar Tonelico.
Not as hard as you think sir! Ninja
Gaiden is published by Tecmo -> Tecmo is part of Tecmo Koei
-> Koei and Namco worked together on Dynasty Warriors: Gundam ->
Namco owns Banpresto -> Banpresto published Ar Tonelico in Japan.
Anyway, thanks for the questions, write in again and we'll talk more
What in your opinion is the hardest RPG ever and what is the easiest
(that was an actual game)
I'm going to have to go ahead and say
that Etrian Odyssey is the
hardest RPG ever, slightly edging out Demon's
due to some of it's boss encounters
pretty easy. Etrian Odyssey can
a cruel game as you delve into the depths of the dungeon. Stay too
long, or go up against an enemy you aren't prepared for and you will be
destroyed. It works for the games benefit though. Nothing about the
difficulty is unfair, and it only serves to make you want explore
into the dungeon and conquer the thing. This is how a first person
dungeon crawl should be, and Atlus got it right. Not only is the
dungeon hard though, but putting together a good party is difficult as
well, though mitigating in that you don't have to start the game over
to change your party. You will very likely lose in this game, and
often, but it will often feel like you need to just be more prepared
instead of aggravating, and that my friend is how to make a difficult
As for easiest, I would have to go with (this required more thought
than hardest) every version of Final
Fantasy IV except the DS one. Maybe it's just because I've
played it so much, but it just doesn't challenge me anymore.
Thankfully, the DS one does and that's the one I'll likely come back
to. This isn't to say I don't like doing a Final Fantasy IV playthrough, I
do, but just that it's not something I really do for challenge. As for
a game that probably is way too easy, and not just because I've played
it a bunch of times, I would say Final
Quest. I mean you can kill the last boss by
healing him a few times, so there you go.
Also connect Secret of Evermore
to Toy Pop
This one is actually going to be a lot
easier than you'd expect. Secret of
Evermore was a Squaresoft game -> Squaresoft merged with
Enix to become Square-Enix -> Namco got the license from Square-Enix
to publish a game based on the Soul
Eater manga-> Namco published Toy Pop.
Anyway, keep sending me these challenges!
Wheels, as your handler I have to test you from time to time. Now
we've reached the part where I ask about your feelings on Final
Please give me a reviewt of each of the main Final Fantasy games.
reviewt is a one line summary review of a game.
"Example: Alpha Protocol
Reviewt: Fun spy game, but you'd better use
stealth or you'll be a whiny baby when you can't shoot things."
This is a test, pass and you'll receive your next mission.
OK reviewt time! As a note, I'm subbing in Final Fantasy Tactics for Final Fantasy XI because I'm not
really an mmo guy.
1- The original classic that makes the basis for the fantastic
job systems in the future, but is way too slow paced in it's original
form, and generally too simple and linear an RPG.
2- An oddball game that formed the basis for the SaGa series, and moved story
telling in the series forward, but was way too broken in some respects.
3- A great use of the job system, often requiring the players to
do some clever things like casting frog on the party in order to
advance, but suffered from some balancing issues.
4- A great first 16 bit entry for the series, with an
entertaining story, but is way too linear both in exploration and
5- A truly great revision of the job system makes this game an
absolute classic, even if its story is a bit lackluster.
7- A flawed game that did a great job moving story telling in
RPGs forward, but was a step back in battle and character mechanics
8- A totally oddball game (somehow not done by Kawazu) that
somehow manages to still be very entertaining, with some interesting
story telling and very different game systems, that can be broken if
you know what you're doing.
9- The classic 16-bit Final
Fantasies distilled in the finest main series game since the
16-bit era, complete with a classic and fun battle system, and not
spectacular but entertaining story.
10- A classic in story and gameplay terms, despite the
occasional voice acting issues, this game successfully melded good
story and gameplay despite it's linearity.
Playing the part of Final Fantasy 11
Tactics- So good that it basically spawned a genre, I
don't think any more needs to be said.
12- A great mix of Final
Fantasy and western RPG design, this brilliant game was hampered
only by a slightly lacking story.
13- The first HD Final Fantasy,
has the best battle system wrapped up in a beautiful world and
a flawed story, which is mitigated by fantastic voice acting and the
best cast of characters the series has seen since the sixth installment.
There you go, in case you couldn't tell from this, yes I do like every
game in the series. I'm sure I'm going to get some backlash from some
of these reviewts though!
That's it for this week. I hope I'm not scaring people off with these
crazy Beat letters (sorry Beat)! Anyway, I've been trying to split my
PSP time between finishing Ys Seven,
II, and Kingdom Hearts Birth
By Sleep, which means I'm not getting very far in any of them,
but hey also means I can talk about all of them with you! I've also
dusted off my SNES, so send me some letters about your favorite games
from that era! Anyway, that's all for this week.
As a note, due to extra TGS work, the column next week will probably be
a short one, or come later in the week. So don't worry if nothing shows
up next Wednesday!
Till next time,
August 18th: Wheels
August 25th: Wheels
September 1st: Wheels
September 8th: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Ys: Oath in Felghana for PSP
2. Etrian Odyssey 3
3. Fallout: New Vegas
4. Halo: Reach DLC
5. 4 Warriors of Light
On my Playlist:
1. JDK Band
2. Green Day
3. Random 80s Rock
1. Duke Nukem Forever is actually going to come
out, does this mean we still have a chance at getting Mother 3? and 7th
Dragon? and Secret of Mana 2?
2. SaGa 3 remake, will it be handled by Kawazu, so he can Kawazu it up?
3. If someone were to make a Halo RPG, who would you want to make it,
and what should it be like?
4. If you had to choice for Atlus to release Persona 2 (both parts) on
PSP or Persona 4 on PSP (Persona 3 Portable style), which would you
5. Eternal Sonata was certainly a unique idea for a game, if you were
to make a game with the same concept, what musical artist would you
choose and what would the game be like?