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November 26th, 2010

11/26 - 12:00PM EST

  Wheels has toiled hard, and it shows!  With deft precision, he somehow manages to balance his many duties and a student, a worker, and a family man.  Through it all, he has consistently produced  an excellent column every week, answering whatever questions he is presented in a timely and orderly manner.

Given how much he's done, it's completely reasonable for him to take a little time off for Thanksgiving.  But the thought of leaving his readership high and dry for so long just didn't sit right with him.  “Wouldn't it be nice”, he said, “if one of my most trusted internet-friends would provide a guest column for me!  That way my readers wouldn't have to go without my keen knowledge!”

Then I punched him in the face, stole his computer and started raiding his e-mails.

My name is Beat.  You may remember me as the guy who writes the most insane questions.  But today, I'm the guy who writes the most insane answers.  Armed with a near-total lack of knowledge and a fierce hatred of everyone and everything, I am clearly the worst possible candidate to fill in for the gentle and scholarly Wheels.

Let's do this thing.

The Letters
Hot Topics! And not of the fake punk variety!

Well, in the couple weeks since I last wrote, Persona 2 has indeed been confirmed for the PSP.  Well, Innocent Sin has.  And there should hopefully be no chance of us missing out on it   So I now turn my attention to the Mana series, and will address your Hot Topic #1.


Alright cool.  Let's hear it.

...unfortunately, it's not the kind of response fans of the series would want to hear.  I think Square-Enix should just give up on the series.  It's obvious by now that they're utterly failing at capturing what was awesome about Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3.  I even liked Legend of Mana, but even I know an utterly Guide Dang It game when I see it.  I don't even think another 2-D installment would save the series.  Besides, Square is trying to juggle too many other successful games to have room for any more Mana games.  They've got upcoming Kingdom Hearts games, overdue Final Fantasy games, there's a Dragon Quest X supposedly in development (and I wish they'd tell us more already), and even another Parasite Eve game.  They also do random games for no reason other than because they feel like it (like The World Ends With You, for instance), so I don't think they would have time to release another Mana game, let alone spare a development team to make it.


  The last (and only) Mana game I played was Children of Mana, and if it's indicative of the current quality of the series, the best we can hope for at this point is that the franchise finds a suitable place to lie down and fall into the gentle arms of death.

You're not wrong that Square juggles a lot of projects, but like any large company, it has loads of resources to work with.  It's much more likely that they won't continue the Mana series because it's not profitable, rather than because they're busy making more "cinematic" cutscenes or Disney fan-fiction.  Finally,  The World Ends With You wasn’t made "because they feel like it".  It was an attempt to break into a new demographic.

I think when they came up with the World of Mana a few years ago, they were doing too much at once.  If they came up with a one time idea, had the urge to make a Mana game and actually had some good ideas behind it, then they should go ahead with it.  But as it is, it feels like they're trying to force it.

And to address the second Hot Topic, they also have the SaGa series. But after Unlimited SaGa, it doesn't seem like they have any interest in making new SaGa games.  Should they?  As I said about the Mana series, only if there are good ideas behind it.  Should they remake the older titles?  Well, it'll be convenient for people like me who missed out on them the first time around.  I shouldn't be selfish, though.  Like I said, they've already got their hands full with other stuff to worry about the whims of a guy like me.  (Although it's
probably coincidence, I will happily claim that Atlas does listen to me.  Hey Atlas, could you convince  Nintendo to let you translate Mother 3 for them, please?)


Oh man, remakes. I once told a guy that if Square really cared about innovation and trying new things, they wouldn’t have remade Final Fantasy 10 times over.  He got pissed at me, which was my goal, but I think the point stands.  I would much rather have new games than dolled-up old games.  Still, nothing wrong with hoping for the eventual PSN/Virtual Console/Iphone release.

As for Mother 3, The GBA is dead and the DS will soon commit honorable suicide to make way for its 3D replacement.  The Mother 3 dream will never come true.  Now begins a thousand years of sorrow.

Garrison wrote in a couple weeks ago asking after Nier and wondering if it was any good.  Garrison: Nier is going to be weird, but it should be worth it if you like playing the video game version of that person who is always a constant downer (you know the kind I'm talking about).  And trust me, there'll be more downs than ups.  Especially if you play the New Game + mode.  But the game is amazing and the music is fantastic.  I even wrote a review of it for a blog I contribute to, and it was a very favorable review.

Also, Garrison, if you like games where you start out with a modest amount of HP, you could pick up the new Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light game.  I had to level up around 20 or so times in order to reach 100HP with any of my characters.  And yet you'll have more than enough HP to deal with most threats, as long as you're properly prepared.


I'm not sure what Garrrison would think of that.  So I asked him.


Beat,  that person you described is me, and I'm not sure whether or not that means I should get it or not. Believe it or not, I'm the type who loves (massive spoilers) and I totally (minor spoilers). Aren't I just the worst? Anyways, I'll go ahead with your recommendation for 4 Heroes of Light. I don't know what it is about big numbers that brings my blood to a boil. Thanks for your honesty and I'll try to stop self-loathing and learn to appreciate big numbers so we can have a real RPG conversation.

Wheels, has there ever been a game in a series that you've played and you thought to yourself that it was a disappointing game, and you knew you would've liked it better if it hadn't been released under the banner of that series?  They wouldn't even need to change anything, just call it something else and it'd automatically be better.

Also, what's the quickest you ever finished a game?


The game you're thinking of is Devil May Cry 4.  Had they just called it “Pretty Boy’s Swordorcycle Adventures” I would have been just fine with it.

The fastest I've ever finished a game would have to be Final Fantasy 8, which I was done with in 30 minutes.  Oh wait, you probably mean  “completed” and not “threw in the garbage and swore revenge on the dev team”.  In that case, Vectorman, which I finished in a single afternoon at the humble age of 11.

Thanks for writing in CW.  I’ll be sure to tell Wheels how nice your letter was when he comes to.

The Lost Touch of Square-Enix

Wheels, what's up dude?


No, This is Beat. These aren't the Wheels you're looking for.

So first off I have to say that Square Enix is not losing its touch.  I think that people are just getting older, and they look back on the games of their childhood from Squaresoft, and Enix, and they get warm hearts of the memories of a care free life playing videogames, eating cookies and drinking milk, whilst having no thoughts of paying bills, going to college, or finding a lover that's real.  That's what I think is going on.  They still put out great games, albeit there is a huge lack of them on main consoles because of the cost and it seems that handhelds are where the money is because those games are cheaper to make, and they can replicate more of an oldschool feel on handhelds.  And they put out more games in general, so naturally every single one of them isn't going to be gold.  Hey... did you ever play 3D World Runner


Square went from that company that made the game where you make four little dudes and have them march through a bunch of caves to kill the bad dude, to that company that keeps making 40-hour-long, incomprehensible CG-anime moves, craftily disguised as games.  Whether or not that’s “losing their touch” is up for debate.

I haven’t played 3D world runner.  I’m just gonna assume you’re talking about Bubsy 3D and then laugh hysterically.

But I do have a problem lately.  Some events in my life have really pushed me forward into progressing my life.  My thoughts still turn to video games a lot of the time, and how I do love them so, the characters, the companies that make them, the stories, the art, the graphics.  But it seems that whenever I do have free time to play a game, I sit down and it seems like I'm wasting time, or wasting my life away playing video games.  There is no life progression playing video games, and my younger self would argue that video games produce the same mental benefits that books do, but now I just don't see that as the case because there are considerably more people that you can talk to and relate to about books, and I find that books increase mental dexterity and the spoken word much more than video games do.  But video games are the love of my life, and I hope to get over this, some how, some way.  Have you ever felt like this?  Any advice?  Because my backlog is only getting bigger.


The thing you are experiencing is called “growing up”.  There is no cure, and its’ invariably terminal.

I’m so, so sorry.

As for feeling like you’re wasting time, well you are wasting time.  That’s what video games are, a time waster.  And that’s cool, provided you have time to waste.  Think of it as rewarding yourself for getting all that other stuff done.

So I still am playing games, just not to the extent that I would like to. But I try to limit myself to one game at a time per console.  Right now I'm playing Robotrek on the SNES.  Ever played it?  It's a decent game, not the greatest I know, but I love the town theme song in that game, it is just so...classic!  Plus it's Quintet, I heart Quintet!  And it's something moderately fresh. 

On my PS3 I'm playing Breath of Fire IV.  Been in my backlog for sometime now, and I'm about 32:00 hours into it.  I think the first part of the game is a little better than the second half so far, but I absolutely love the graphical style in that game and the camera angles they use for some of the scenes.  The sprites are really well done for the most part, and the music is pretty good as well.  But still, I think I have enjoyed Breath of Fire  III a little better.  I think as far as that series goes, the first and the third are my favorites.  The first one just has so many classic elements to it, and I love having 3 characters follow your leader around, totally old school.  I think that may be a key reason why I like Final Fantasy VIII so much...well, there is more to it than that, but that's for another letter. So what do you think of BoF?  I have always liked the series, seems highly anime, and artistic, plus I love the classic use of dragons in an RPG. 


Quintet made Terranigma, which is the only RPG that really matters.  This being the case, they’re totally awesome.

I’m sure Wheels has many opinions on Breath of Fire, but unfortunately he’s currently locked in the basement, screaming for help that just won’t come.

My Wii I'm playing through Little King's Story.  I haven't Wii'd much lately, and I haven't Wii'd standing up for a long time!  :)  But it really does demand more time from me, since I still think that, as far as gameplay goes, the Wii offers the most.  I wanna check out Arc Rise Fantasia and Fragile.  Those two games have definitely caught my eye.  Also A Boy and His Blob!!  Seriously!  And so many more, the list goes on and on. Nintendo really is where it's at for oldschool gamers still I think.  The Wii gets a lot of flack from new schoolers and old schoolers alike, but this oldschooler thinks the Wii is more hardcore than anything else out there, aside from the DS, but I'm just not much of a handholder.  Little King's Story is great though.  Have you played any of it?  I can't remember correctly, but I recall you saying you hadn't.  And I definitely recommend it to any RPGamer out there.


You just know a game called Little King’s Story is hardcore.  Just like the incredibly hardcore Movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, and of course, the master of hardcore punk rock, Raffi.

Dude I have such a backlog, I blame college and the gym.  But seriously, I've got Persona 4, Rogue Galaxy, Bahamut Lagoon, Suikoden V, FES, Front Mission 3, 4, Valkyrie Profile 2, Resonance of Fate, Star Ocean 3, Sakura Wars.  I'm seriously looking forward to retirement.  Thanks for your help on the question front.  Also, when people just use letters for the game they are referring to like LoZ:OoT.  I think they should state the actual game's title in the letter before the just use letters.  The last column someone just said PRAA:NOTSPRD or something like that, and I had no idea what game he or she was referencing.  Just a thought. 



I blame college and the gym for lots of things.  For one, they killed my brother and started me on this quest of revenge.  As for acronyms, a world where I can’t say “Man STFA:TQOATS was so awesome”, and have immediate understanding across the board is a world I want no part of.

Thanks for writing in WarmCoat.  I’m sure wheels would have loved this letter if he was in any state to be reading things.

The 90s Is Dead We Killed It

Hello Wheels,


No, I’m Beat!  We’ve been over this! 

I am an RPG gamer since 1991's FFIV, and whenever you ask me of a stereotypical hero I think of Cecil or Lunar's Alex. That said, I am very interested in traditional RPGs. Sadly, the last RPG that I really enjoyed was Dragon Quest VIII. What is you take on this game?


While I’m sure Wheels holds the game in high regard, my personal experience was that it was the slowest game I’ve ever played.  I made it about 15 hours in, and I have no idea how I survived that long.

My favorite games are Xenogears, FFVI, and DQVIII, and I do not think that will change very soon. I did not even like DQIX. Why can't RPGs be like they were in the 90's? I love menu based combat, controlling every member of your party, every character having a background story, great music, etc. Exactly the things that made Chrono Trigger shine.


Apparently things are still sort of like they were in the 90s on handhelds, though with the advent of the 3DS that probably won’t last.  I understand your love of classic menu-based combat, but the reason it keeps changing is simply because the technology keeps getting better, allowing for more experimentation within the genre, it's hit and miss, but it keeps every game from being the same, which is at least sortof admirable.

What is so difficult about making FFTactics 2? (I consider the portable ones a joke) Or continuing the Breath of Fire series? Legend of Dragoon 2? At the very least, a Xenogears remake! Those were the games I really enjoyed. Do you recommend a game for the current generation of consoles that could be a successor?


Guessing time!  Concerning FFTactics 2, Square might be hesitant to spend the time on another tactics game when Disageea and its ilk have an iron grip on the market.  My understanding is that Dragon Quarter didn’t really sell all that well, so that’s probably why Capcom’s not doing anything with the franchise right now.  I don’t know anything about Legend of Dragoon, so I’m going to blame that one on aliens abducting the development team and replacing them with sinister replicants.  As for a Xenogears remake, well, nailing purple rats to crosses has fallen out of vogue in recent years.

Anyway, take care and great column you have here, keep it up!



Thanks for writing in ROG.  I’ll pass the compliment along to Wheels when I feed him in a few days.  Can’t let him die just yet.


Well, it has been a pleasure.  Wheels will return next week to properly answer these questions, after the hostage negotiator delivers the cash.  I hope you all enjoyed my brief takeover, and if you didn’t, well maybe now you’ll be a little more thankful for what you have, now that you know what could have been. 

Happy thanksgiving, I’m out!


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What I can't wait for:

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1. Back to the Future Soundtrack

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3. Nier's disturbing soundtrack

Hot Topics:

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3. JRPGs currently are more creative than WRPGs. Discuss.

4. What do you think the difference between Dragon Age 2 on PC and Consoles will be?

5. Does 4 Heroes of Light deserve a sequal (hint: the answer is yes)?

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