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ASK WHEELS
Return of the Sardines
September 15th, 2011

09/15- 12:00PM EST

Welcome back to Q&A, fresh from a week off. As you probably saw, I was busy getting out a review for Disgaea 4, which, being a massive game and all, was quite the undertaking.

Anyway, I won't blabber on too much, let's get straight to your letters!





The Letters
Oh No It's Beat

HEY WHEELS

So I actually played an RPG!

Yeah, Didn't see that one coming, did ya?!


Wheels

Actually I did, because I think that deep down, you secretly love RPGs, and that this is the reason you write into Q&A. This fulfills some unconscious need to talk about RPGs. So which one did you play?

Anyways it was Radiant Historia for the DS.  And while I'm sure you're just waiting for me to hate on it, I actually really had a lot of fun with it.  To me, the game felt like Chrono Trigger in that you sit down with it and holy crap you're playing a goddamn video game.  The battle system is this neat, fun thing that can be learned, then mastered, then utterly and totally abused.  The characters are neat little dudes I didn't mind reading the words of.  And they carried out a neat little story that, while mostly linear, encourages you to mess around and see how you can break it.  When it was over, and the big boss was dead, it told me to feel free to use my now super-powered army of neat little dudes to hop around the story and see what cool stuff I missed and what other endings there were without making me do the whole thing over again.

So my question is, why aren't all video games like this?


Wheels

Oh man Radiant Historia, you clearly have good taste in RPGs in addition to your secret love of them. Radiant Historia is a game so good that it not only cracked the top 5 staff DS favorites, it finished at number three despite being out less than a year. It was topped only by Clash of Heroes and The World Ends With You, which I think I recall you being a fan of. I believe it even sold quite well despite being a niche game, and was hard to find at one point. So yes, it is simply a well put together game in all respects.

Why can't call games be like this? Well Beat, I don't know how to break this to you, but I'm afraid that some developers simply aren't as good at their craft as others. I mean if all games were masterpieces, we'd have no way of telling that any games were that good.

An example, every Final Fantasy I've played since 1997 has had at least one character who's an utter pain in the ass.  Everything he says and does is irritating, and intentionally so, because the very point of him existing is so, over the course of the story, he can learn some important life lesson, and realize that not being an enormous tool all the time might not be a terrible idea.  Problem is the game is 80 hours long, so by the time he has this revelation around hour 55, and up till that point all you can do is hope that in the next 15-minute long, fully voiced "mini-movie" he'll have his stupid epiphany already and shut the hell up.


Wheels

Every Final Fantasy you've played since 1997? I see your secret love of RPGs has been around for quite some time. Anyway, I think you're being a bit unfair here, there were no such characters in Final Fantasy Tactics or Final Fantasy IX.  Point taken though, there are a lot of annoying characters in RPGs, and considering how long many of them are, this is a big issue. All genres have their annoying character templates, but being story focused those in the RPG genre are a lot more noticeable. I guess companies just need to find some better writers? I wonder if you've played Blue Dragon? I think the issue with a lot of Japanese RPGs is they are copying characters similar to popular anime, manga, etc., with the problem being that their annoyance is stretched out a lot more in a long RPG.

Why? Why is the scenario I've described even a thing to begin with? Radiant Historia (And Chrono Trigger before it) had nothing of the sort and their plots were better for it.


Wheels

Simply put: Bad writers are bad. There's nothing that can be done for it. Until video game writing improves on the whole, you're going to keep running into these sorts of things. Probably even after that. I'd have to disagree that they ruin these games completely though. Even Blue Dragon had fun gameplay despite one of the most annoying characters ever.

It's not even just the painful character archetype.  It's the 30 minute intros with the CGI woman dressed in a bikini doing fake kung-fu on fake stormtroopers.  It's the over world that takes a good 40 minutes to cross when I barely even play for more than 30 minutes at a time.  It's the pseudo-philosophical babble that sounded deep when we were 14 and sounded retarded when we turned 18.  There are so many things I see in so many mainstream RPGs that Radiant Historia demonstrated can be totally abandoned, and still be a great game.

What went wrong?

Sincerely,

BEAT


Wheels

I'll tell you exactly what went wrong. People bought the heck out of the other games, and not so much the Chrono Triggers and Radiant Historias. So really, Beat? There's no one to blame but us. That's right, the reason you've had to suffer such things is because you keep buying them!

Looking forward to hearing more about your secret love of RPGs in the future.

Got Reviews?

Where is "The Witcher 2"  RPGAMER's REVIEW?

-Alexis

Wheels

Well I won't directly answer that question. Instead, I'll remind you that we are but a force of volunteers, doing our best to write and play about games from this genre that we love so much. We aren't always able to cover everything because of this, and a PC game like The Witcher 2 brings additional complications to the table. Not all of us have PCs capable of running the game, so if everyone that can run it is already working on other things, it's easy for such a PC game to slip through the cracks. I can assure you that this is not something that staff members just let slip. We want and strive to get reviews out for everything possible. Sometimes, its just not in the books.

Political Tactics Part Deux

Hey Wheels,
 
Some replies to your replies! :)
 
"I haven't played Suikoden Tactics yet, but given the dubious quality of Suikoden IV I'm not surprised. It's too bad they tied it to the most reviled game in the series."
 
 "I'd disagree with your point of the Tactics Advance games being bad, but to each his/her own as they say!"
 
Indeed to each his/her own. I actually LOVED Suikoden IV. Now, I do have to admit I am a Suikoden fanboy, but I will also admit it had its faults, but I thought the setting was insanely refreshing from all the tried RPG formulas. Also, I thought the game did a really good job of conveying the feeling of being on the open seas, of being on islands (especially the shipwreck part), and at least they didn't make Suikoden 1 part 4. It was truly its own unique game, but still in the Suikoden universe.

Wheels

Interesting, I will certainly give Suikoden IV a try, as I have a feeling even if it is a bad Suikoden game, a bad Suikoden game most be better than most right? Anyway, the setting is certainly an interesting idea. I think I talked on Q&A awhile back about how open-sea types of settings haven't been used often enough. I'll probably take awhile to get to Suikoden IV but I"ll be sure to post some thoughts once I do.

The fact that Tactics was tied to 4 was something I thought was really cool. One thing that I thought was really nice *spoiler alert* is how they explained the Suikoden 4 final boss in Tactics. I didn't understand the final boss at all, but then Tactics gave it some sense. Plus they told us what happened to some of the characters out of 4, some minor ones got put in the spotlight. All in all, I thought it was great!
 
I guess Tactics A2 wasn't that bad... But I really disliked the first, especially considering who their daddy was.
 
But I agree, there aren't enough.

Wheels

Very interesting, I'm really going to have to get to Suikoden IV and Suikoden Tactics. It's probably bad to make assumptions about games I haven't played just because others didn't like them.

I still say both Tactics Advance games are great. The thing is, they're all about the gameplay, not so much story, so I'm not saying your complaints about story aren't valid. Anyway, we agreed in this, there need to be more tactics games with varied story premises.

Nippon Ichi should create a Tactical RPG Maker, release it IN ENGLISH, ON DVD ROM FOR PC!!!! Why, you ask? Well, the only way to get an English Tactical RPG Maker these days is download a cracked illegal version, and I don't like illegal, and I dislike ordering stuff online so I just want it on DVD thank you! But hey, there is a novel idea for Nippon Ichi! They seem crazy enough to think about it. They have the know how. I just hope they will include the option to import your own sprites so you can choose whether to go for zany of serious yourself.
 
I'll buy it, Nippon Ichi!

Wheels

I'm sure they would prefer if we kept buying their Tactical RPGs, so I doubt they'd ever make such a thing! That would be a lot of fun though, I'd love to make my own tactical rpg of some sort.

Fight!

Greetings Wheels,


Alas, fighting games have never favored me.  Anyway, water under the burnt bridge, or something like that.  Now to wait for a new game proposal challenge.
 


Wheels

Sorry about that! I can tell you I certainly didn't expect the crazy oil wrestling character to win out the tournament. Better luck next time?

In the meantime, I have a question for you.  I am considering getting a "new" system (of course assuming I'd ever have time to play it given grad school and all) and would like some advice: PSP, PS2, or 3DS?  I was thinking any prize I won would decide for me, but now I am without direction.  As background, I currently have a DS, Wii, and a fairly good PC as my role playing systems.  As far as types of RPGs, I like most all of them, but am a notable fan of weird stuff (if you haven't noticed the games I draw off of for my proposals).

Capitalism Ho!
FriendOfAgnes



Wheels

Well as partial as I am to the portable systems, I'd have to say you should go with the PS2. There is an insane number of great RPGs for the system, and it sounds like you passed on it in your prime. If you'd prefer a portable system, go with the PSP, as you can get a lot of games for it on the cheap now that we're nearing the Vita release, and if you stick to digital releases you'll be able to switch your library to a Playstation Vita if you so choose. I'd avoid the 3DS for now, as there aren't many RPGs for it now, or planned in the near future. It could be a fine choice eventually, but for now it would be hard to recommend it as an RPG machine. Once you make your decision let me know, and I'll be sure to provide a list of odd ball titles to try out!

IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Next week I've got an assortment of great questions from some fellow staff members, and more!

See you then!

-Wheels


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