|December 2nd, 2011
11/23- 12:00PM EST
Welcome to another edition of Q&A! I
continue to be busy playing Skyward Sword
in the North and hope to have a
review of the latter for you next week, and
perhaps a second opinion review of the
former at some point.
Anyway, let's get right to it...
Hey Wheels, been a while!
I really should write more often. Then
again, so should you! I'm still
waiting for an East-West crossover idea for
I really need to get that in for
you. I've been a bit busy of
late, but that is no excuse!
I'll send you my East-West
crossover idea as soon as
To change the subject, what's your opinion
of pop culture references in RPGs? The
longer I stay in this country, the more I
"get" the little things that pop up in
games. I can play Tengai Makyo games
and recognize at least a few of the
Showa-period samurai dramas they mock. I can
spot the antecedents of all sorts of odd
Pokémon, even the one that's based in
part on an old Japanese comedian. The Sgt.
Frog RPG had so many references to other
popular manga series that I'm sure some
apologies were in order. I'm playing through
Ni no Kuni now, and one of the new
areas in the PS3 version is a massive parody
of Osaka culture.
culture references can be fun,
but I think you need to be very
careful about how you use them.
Direct references to
persons/movies etc. are
dangerous as they can easily go
over the head of many people and
just seem out of place. The best
use of pop culture would be to
fit in subtle references, so
that those who get the reference
will understand, and for those
that don't, it won't matter. A
good example of that would be
the Pokémon you
mentioned. People that see the
reference will get it, and those
that don't will just see another
cool Pokémon. An example
of the opposite would be the use
of the word tsundere I saw in Disgaea
4. Those familiar with
anime culture probably enjoyed
it, but I had no idea what the
word was, and there was no
explanation of it whatsoever.
Subtlety is the name of the
But what about Western pop culture? I know
that the Working Designs translation of Lunar
has been both praised and blasted for its
creative rewrites in the form of inserted
cultural references. I know that the
localization team for Dragon Quest VIII
had to get a pass for every little name game
or punny moment worked into that game's
script. What's your take on this?
rules apply here. The problem
with some of the Working Designs
translations if I recall
correctly, were some made very
direct cultural references to
things of that time which
obviously don't hold up as well
now. I mean, there was a joke
about President Clinton in one
of the Sega CD Lunar
games, which would just
seem horribly out of date now.
People playing it now might even
mistake it as some kind of joke
about his wife's Presidential
Quest VIII on the
other hand hits the subtlety
button nicely with lots of fun
and corny puns. I don't recall
anything bad in there, though it
has been awhile.
Finally, what Western pop culture bits would
you like to include? I'd probably opt for
of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, as
that would be a good core upon which to
build a Han Solo type character. Things like
"Pillage, then burn," "Everything can be
airdropped, once," and "There is no
overkill, only open fire and reload" would
make for good attacks, too.
Well, talk at you later. I need to get going
Your fellow columnist,
include lots of subtle Seinfeld
jokes, that would still be funny
even if the person playing was
one of the very few who have
never seen the show. I'd also
throw in Futurama
references as much as
possible, because I love me some
end the answer to this by
pointing out one of the best
examples of pop culture
reference in my opinion. In Chrono
Trigger, there are
three characters named Ozzie,
Flea, and Slash, obvious
references to famous rock stars
(they had food names in Japan,
what's with that?). However,
without knowledge of those
stars, the names still work as
fittingly silly names for those
characters. That's how it should
Sorry I haven't written you in so
long. It's probably because RPGs are
dumb and bad and the ones that aren't dumb
and bad probably aren't really RPGs to begin
see, I would take that as a
valid excuse except that you
didn't even usually write in
about RPGs, except to say that
they are bad and dumb. Besides,
we determined columns ago that
you are a closet RPG fan.
Anyway, moving on!
Anyways it's Christmas time and people are
all like "BEAT, what game do you
want?" The answer is BEAT already
rules the world, so he desires nothing, but
if I have four family members and three
friends giving me Sonic Generations 3DS,
that could be a little awkward**.
could be a little awkward,
especially considering there are
better games for 3DS, including
a few RPGs! I don't think
everyone would give you Sonic
Generations 3DS Beat,
I'm sure you've got to have some
clueless family member who would
give you one of the HD versions
for a console you don't own!
Therefore based on your extensive knowledge
of me, and my furiously awesome insanity,
what is the ONE rpg that I should give a
shot, that's currently available in stores
and isn't Radiant
Historia because I already played
I would go with a game that may
or may not be an RPG, but is
close enough, in Skyward
Sword. So far it's the
best Zelda game
I've played since Ocarina
of Time. This is
significant as that happens to
be my favorite game in the
series. There's also always Ocarina
of Time 3DS, if you
prefer your "possibly an RPG" to
be portable. If you want a game
that is absolutely an RPG, go
with Legend of Heroes:
Trails in the Sky. I
don't believe you have a PSP
though, so I'll then just say to
go with Dragon
Quest VI, as I
think it would appeal to your
old school sensibilities.
Also, I tweeted you a question about Zelda.
You should probably
answer it already.
With as much sincerity as always,
did answer it! See the above
response or last week's column.
Come on now Beat, you need to
anticipate these things!
*This is sort of like how I'll claim that
all country music sucks, but
Johnny Cash isn't really country, no way
man, he's totally "folk".
Games aren't really simple, no way man,
they're totally "streamlined".
Historia isn't really RPG, no way
man, it's totally a
"Strategic turn-based interactive visual
You're doing this all wrong, the
real way to argue it would be
"he's so amazing he transcends
the crumminess of that genre". I
guess you could use that with
your RPG argument as well. You'd
be wrong because RPGs are
amazing, but that's OK.
** Beat, simple doesn't mean
bad, stop that. They are simple
though. Deal with it!
*** Beat search your feelings,
you know it to be true. Radiant
Historia is an RPG!
I never at all "forgot" the "Action-RPG"
genre. Neither am I under the delusion that,
in some way, are ARPG's "simply" because of
the leveling mechanics. They are a genre
blend, wheels, yet they bear distinct
hallmarks that set them in a different
category from a Zelda title. For example,
you talk about Secret of Mana, Ys and
You can note that, despite the superficial
resemblance to the Zelda mechanics, you have
the origins laid bare- the specifically Dungeons and
Dragons style inventory system, the
extensive MP and magic system (also derived
dungeons and dragons), plus the
leveling system (again, from the roots of
the genre, the pen and paper RPG), and you
have a massive, extensive storyline. No,
sir, at no point have I ignored the genre
blend games, but YOU, on the other hand,
have ignored their underpinnings, the things
that make them what they are to this very
sir, the Ys
games don't have
style inventory, nor did the
early games have extensive
story-lines. In fact, with no
magic, the only thing setting Ys
apart from Zelda
is a leveling system. Just a
minor point, you are correct on
the other points.
And no, I'm not looking at simply "the
I'm looking across the entire span of the
game series, at a game that has undergone in
all reality barely any mechanical change in
the last decade, wheels. When you pop in Twilight
Princess, you're getting a game
that is easily and understandably "Zelda".
any mechanical change? Really?
That's completely untrue. The
base ideas are there, but you
can't tell me that Windwaker
and Spirit Tracks
for example have "barely any"
mechanical changes from previous
games. I'm not saying the Zelda
series couldn't use some
more fresh ideas (Skyward
Sword has some good
ones), but you make it sound
like these are Call
of Duty style
iterations, which simply isn't
true. Granted this is a whole
different argument, so moving
And again, you list genre blends like Crystal
Chronicles, yet ignore the very
things that make them RPGs. It's not about
just "leveling", it's about the ROOTS of the
thing, wheels, the roots! You ignored
Chronicles extensive item system,
for instance, complex MP system, plus the
leveling system and the plot. In fact, by
the time you've barely started the game in
time you're carrying more items on
your characters than the most end-game
incarnation of Link in OOT.
was specifically talking about
the original Crystal
doesn't have a leveling system
or a complex MP system (or MP at
all). If I had meant the series
as a whole, I would have
specifically stated the series.
Quite simply, you ARE a journalist, Wheels.
Your site is followed by thousands of fans,
all of whom rely on you for the best
coverage of RPGs out there. Seriously, who
the heck are we going to go to if not you?
You really want us to start relying on IGN?
Please don't make me do that.
for the love of all that casts
Holy don't go to IGN. Anyway, I
don't understand what the issue
is. We cover the Zelda
series on this site, so
why wouldn't I mention I'm going
to be playing Skyward
Sword when someone asks
what RPGs I'm playing over the
holidays. I wasn't making an
argument that the series
(outside of Zelda
2) fits into the RPG
genre, nor will I. I was just
giving you some counter
arguments and pointing out the
previous argument that I've
made: that it doesn't matter.
What strange and/or useless characters are
you using for your Chrono Cross replay? Do
you find yourself obligated to recruit them
all even though the majority are completely
forgettable? I like using the "main"
characters that fit the story better, but
sometimes I like playing with Draggy and Pip
just to make things crazy.
That is a fantastic question! Right
now I'm using the mermaid girl and
Fargo, though I just had him in the
party for a sidequest. I've made
regular use of Nikki, Harle, Radius
(yes he's cool, but he's an old
man!), alternate Leena (not in this
playthrough but in the past) whom I
think is a strange party
member, and of course the
fairy Razzly. There's always Sneff
as well, who is bit strange. I don't
find myself obligated to recruit
them all, but I think it's a nice
feature to the game. They may not
all be as well developed as the huge
casts of Suikoden games
often are, but its a nice way for
players to pick the characters they
like best. I used to stick to story
type characters in the past, but I
decided to change it up this time,
and it has been fun! Really, though
it certainly isn't as good a game as
Trigger, I think people are
sometimes too hard on Chrono
Cross. It's a fun game! I
think I may even playthrough again
after this and use a new set of
strange characters, I mean I don't
even have Draggy and Pip! Who else
do you recommend?
That's it for this week! In the spirit of
the holiday season, I think it is time for a
new contest, which I'm dubbing "Wheels'
Non-RPG RPG of the Year Contest". The
premise is simple, you have to guess my top
five favorite Zelda games, in order.
The first one to do so will win. You've
already got one given away in this column
itself! The prize? Your choice of one of the
games that wins one of RPGamer's year end
awards, or one of the runner ups. Now there
are a few guidelines here:
-One guess per week, don't try putting all
games into some program and sending me every
possible arrangement of top five games
-You have to include some kind of question,
comment, etc. for the column
-No Kawazu haters (I kid)
Sword isn't in the list because I
haven't finished it yet
That's it! To add a little fairness, if
multiple people send the correct list on the
same day I will have some kind of sudden
death contest to decide a winner.
See you all next week!
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Final Fantasy XIII-2
2. Tales of Graces F
3. Mass Effect 3
4. Grand Knights History
5. Tales of the Abyss 3D
On my Playlist:
1. Homestuck music
2. Etrian Odyssey 3 soundtrack
3. Zelda music
1. Will Dark Souls continue to raise FROM
Software's profile, or will it fade back to
2. How do you think XSEED was able to succeed
with Falcom games where others failed?
3. What long dormant RPG series do you want to
see never return in a million years?
4. What PS2 RPGs do you want to see get an HD
5. Borderlands somehow merged Diablo and first
person shooters to make an incredible game, what
can the sequel do to improve on the first?