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ASK WHEELS
I Heart Turkey
November 23rd, 2011

11/23- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another edition of Q&A! Somewhat short edition this week, being a holiday week and all I'm sure many of you are busy (or just consumed by games like Skyward Sword and Skyrim). Amway, let's jump straight into the letters!





The Letters
Crisis on Infinite Nasuverses

First I'd like to say this: I am a long-term and devoted Nasuphile with an absolute addiction to the Nasuverse, so keep that in mind when I make these remarks. 


Wheels

Oh boy, I have no idea what the Nasuverse is (please don't hurt me).

First of all, I'd like to generally state my irritation with all the reviewers who covered Fate/Extra, regardless of fanboyism or anti-fanboyism in their reviews (as they seem to be completely polarized in those two categories).  First of all, fanboys should have had the sense to sit back and do two separate reviews, one for other fanboys, with different ratings for non-fanboys.  On the other hand, the rest, jaded as they are, seem to have focused on aspects like the monotony of the dungeons and the general lack of innovation in the game systems to bash the game overall, with some focus on the somewhat less than spectacular soundtrack (it wasn't really bad, by modern standards, but it wasn't great either).  However, both seem to be missing the point.  This game was focused, first and most of all, on lovers of the Fate universe and secondly on fans of visual novels with gameplay elements, with rpg-fans a distant third.  Even so, it managed to create a battle system that was rather interesting (and somewhat brutal at times) if not terribly new in concept.  In addition, there was a tendency to downplay the story in the non-fanboy reviews, which was rather mature for a jrpg on console and held that characteristic dark and somewhat pitiless world conception that is so unusual in Japanese gaming, especially nowadays. 


Wheels

It sounds like the reviewers may have misunderstood the game to its very core. I haven't played the game at all, but from what I've heard it sounds like the game closely relates to many of the graphic novel games out there. The difference of course, is that the game actually has RPG style battles and such, however it still has a large focus on story. Perhaps they focused too much on what is supposed to be a lesser part of the game? You've certainly increased my interest in the game.

Second, I would love to expound for hours on the wonders of the Nasuverse to one and all, but I'm not about to present you with a massive wall of text on a subject most people won't get around to messing with.  However, i will note that it is easily one of the best efforts at world-building I've ever seen in a Japanese game, with a degree of depth and philosophical complexity that fascinates for hours on end.  Because of that, I can't help but look at games written by Kinoko Nasu through rose-colored glasses, but I do at least realize how difficult games like Fate/Extra can be to understand without background info.


Wheels

Certainly, but sometimes that lack of understanding leads people to want to dig deeper into that universe. That's really what a good licensed game should do: please longtime fans and bring in new ones. It sounds like this may do a decent job at that. I'm certainly interested as I love it when worlds are very well developed.

Last of all, I would like to recommend Aselia the Eternal, which was localized by Jast-USA recently (wow, a non-ero PC VN/srpg... how unusual).  If you give the scenario a light outline, it might seem cliche, but once you get down to the details of the setting and characters, as well as the flow of the story, it is a game that is truly easy to get drawn into.  Simply put, this game draws on a lot of traditions of rpg settings but utilizes Visual Novel storytelling to put it forth in a manner that is far more mature than has become traditional.  It is no Suikoden, but it is as brutal in its own way... if nothing else, certain revelations near the end both make the horrible things that happen to the protagonist, his friends, and the world in general seem to be both larger and smaller on the broad scale of things.  Do not underestimate the attraction of this game, especially if you actually enjoy reading your story rather than having it handed to you on a platter.  If nothing else, the effort that went into this game's design is rather evident in the actual creation of a language for the world the protagonist finds himself thrown into and the fact that on your second playthrough, you can have the text that was foreign and indecipherable the first time through translated, adding a bit of fun to mess around with in your second time through other than  pursuing another one of the endings (not to mention that certain people that die the first time through can be saved the second time).  To express how I felt about this game... I cried dozens of times throughout the game, as well as laughing like crazy at some of the characters' and generally was able to have a strong sense of empathy for them all.  As for the battle system... it is unusual and a bit difficult to master at first (not to mention it has a Fire Emblem aspect, where characters that die are dead for the rest of the playthrough).  However, I found it enjoyable, trying to survive while ending campaigns in as few turns as possible.  I cannot stress enough that this would be a great choice for people that are tired of the goofiness and over-focus on cinematic jrpgs and appealing to the brainless in the modern gaming industry. 

Sincerely,
Clephas


Wheels

I will certainly consider giving it a look, along with Fate/Extra. I'm always looking for games that do things a bit differently!

PS: Seriously, I really am sick and tired of the increasingly infantile and/or boring scenario-writing that I've had to endure in a lot of modern jrpgs...  I'm also frequently stunned at how completely people ignore that if it looks good visually or appeals to 'traditional' jrpg values... a good story is a good story.  A childish story is a childish story.  And a poorly-written story is a poorly-written story.  Stop saying its good because it is visually beautiful, has a new battle system, and covers for poor or lazy writing with voice-acting... this almost turned into a manifesto for my beliefs about rpgs again... oh well. 


Wheels

That's all well and good, and I can understand where you are coming from, as many JRPGs have been sadly lacking in the realm of story in recent years. That said, these are games we are talking about, so if it has a great battle system and is fun to play, then at times it is really easy to ignore a bad story. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. That's not to say that people shouldn't strive to find games that are good at both. Anyway, thanks for the great letter, and please send in another telling me more about Fate/Extra's universe!

Giving Thanks to Kawazu

@AskWheels Question: What are YOU thankful for this holiday Season?

-JCSGamer


Wheels

Such a fine question. I'd first have to say I'm thankful for being able to write for RPGamer, with a great staff and of course a slew of fine readers who continue to provide me with great material. Seriously, ya'll rule! Also I'm thankful that the Maestro makes such great games, and I'm glad I saved SaGa Frontier 2 to play at an older age, where I can appreciate it more. I'm thankful that Skyward Sword is incredibly awesome. I'm also very thankful that XSEED brought over Trails in the Sky when no one thought it was possible. Finally, I'm thankful that you won't be mad at me for not provided the five paragraphs I promised on twitter!


Happy Holidays

@AskWheels Question for Q&A - What RPG's will you be playing over the holidays?

-BenjaminMallow


Wheels

Well that answer to that is mostly Zelda of course. There are some other games I'll be trying to tackle over the holidays as well however. I'll continue playing Trails in the Sky, which is almost definitely one of the best RPGs in recent years. Also, I will be playing some Chrono Cross, which I've been playing on my PSP thanks to the PSN release. I'm sure to be playing some Payday, though obviously that's not an RPG. I also will be tackling War in the North to review at some point, which has recently been patched thankfully. So in short, I'm going to be playing a ton of RPGs during the holidays! What will everyone else be playing?
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Have a great Thanksgiving (for those in the US) and I will see you all next week, with a fresh letter from Gaijin.

See you then!

-Wheels


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