I'm back! I hope you enjoyed guest host Alex
Fuller while I was away (he did a great
job). You'll be happy to hear that little
Training Wheels (real name Patrick James)
arrived safe and sound this past Friday (yes
on Q&A day). Thanks for all the well
wishes and thanks for everyone that sent in
questions for Alex while I was away. This
will be the last Q&A this year though I
may get a special one up next week during
the holidays with another special guest
Anyway, let's get to the letters!
Sadness or: Why I Still
Pine for a 7th Dragon
I realized something disquieting
recently. I haven't purchased or
wanted to purchase any localized jrpgs put
out in the last year as a whole. That
is something that hasn't happened once since
I was fourteen... a first in sixteen
years. Just to be sure that I hadn't
lost my taste in video games, I played
around with a few games in my backlog, and I
found that I still enjoyed the genre... the
problem is with the games themselves.
For one thing, it seems like there are just
fewer releases on the whole... and those
games that do make it over here are
generally ones I have no taste for anymore
(the Atelier games, dungeon
crawlers). If I hunt through the games
not released over here, there are at least a
half-dozen games I see worth importing... I
can't help but wonder just what the
localization companies are thinking.
It's a question I've asked any number of
times, but I hadn't quite realized I'd
gotten to the point where I import almost
all the jrpgs I play now until I tried to
strike up a conversation with an old friend
about video games and realized I hadn't
played any jrpgs he would have had a chance
to play in over a year.
Well, I think there's a number
of factors at play here. For
starters, we're in a transition
phase for handhelds. Since those
are still the platforms of
choice in Japan there's been a
lot of late RPG releases on both
PSP and DS. Since those aren't a
safe bet anymore in the US we've
been getting fewer and fewer of
them, even missing out on a Final
Fantasy title. Since the
the 3DS is doing fine here and
the Vita seems to have been
taken up by the niche RPG
audience in the West (I'm basing
this on XSEED, NIS America, and
Atlus all releasing RPGs for the
platform) I think we'll start to
see more games brought over
(maybe not on the Vita unless it
starts doing better in all
regions). As for the consoles, I
just don't think there's enough
good titles in Japan to even
bring over. We're getting the Tales
games but is there really
much else in that department?
It's not a fun situation but I
think once the newer portable
systems are better established
we'll see a steady stream of
localized games. I just wish
they'd stop releasing games on
the PSP we'll never see! I mean
really Sega? Another 7th Dragon
on PSP?!?!!? Why must they
hate me? As far as the
localizers go, I can assure you
they know better than us what
sells (most of the time).
Xenoblade and Last
Story doing so well should
give us hope for the future!
I guess we'll just have to hope
for some fan translations of the
games we've missed...
First off, thanks a lot for the Penny
Arcade game. I haven't played
the first two, but I'll check this one out
as soon as I'm done with my yet-again run
through Final Fantasy Tactics: War of
the Lions. I think it's one of
the best games I've ever played, hands
down. Been a while, and I was itching
to play it for some reason while I wait for
next year's games. I also just
finished playing Bayonetta, which
was quite good, in preparation for Platinum
and Konami's next Metal Gear
No problem! Don't worry about
the first two games, the latest
one can be played without ever
playing them (though you will
miss some jokes referencing the
first two games). Final
Fantasy Tactics remains
one of the best games of all
time, and one I can always go
back to. I'd be curious as to
what classes you liked the best
(something for the next time you
write in). As far as Bayonetta
goes, I've just gotten into Devil
May Cry so I'm eager to
try that at some point.
1) What is the best Dragon Quest
No clue, as you might remember from my last
letter. I'm gonna go with...that
prequel game about Yangus from Dragon
Quest VIII? No surprise that it
didn't hit US shores (unless I totally
missed something). Though I hear the Joker
games are quite good?
Yeah that Yangus game looked
quite good regardless of being a
a roguelike. It's a shame it was
never localized! The Joker games
are pretty good. The second Joker
game was a lot better than
the first, but the first game is
still worth playing. If you're
curious, be sure to check out Rocket
Slime as well, which is a
hilarious little action
2) Will we ever see a 7th Dragon
game in English?
Had you asked me this question maybe seven
to ten years ago, I would've been
optimistic. However, today's gaming
market is decidedly against Japanese
development (don't even get me started on
the arrogance of Western developers) so I'm
going to say that no, we won't see
one. It wouldn't sell unless it had
really, really good graphics. I don't
really know much about the series...would
you say that it's a good one?
Well, the first game was
brilliant, and the only game
I've ever put more than twenty
hours into despite not being
able to read anything. I'll have
to get back to you on the second
7th Dragon game. You're
right though, were the series on
PS3 with HD graphics we probably
would have seen a localization!
3) What is the best Tales game?
Hmm...let's see. I've played Phantasia,
Vesperia, Abyss, Symphonia,
and Graces f. It's kinda hard
to say overall. Battle-system-wise, I
would have to say Graces f, hands
down. I loved the CC system and am
glad that it's somewhat making a comeback
for Xillia (which I am eagerly
anticipating despite the backlash against
it). Story-wise, I remember enjoying Vesperia
the most, though I did also enjoy Graces
f (except for Sophie, she got on my
nerves after a while). I guess overall
I would have to go with Vesperia.
I did enjoy the environmental message that
it had, I loved the characters (especially
Yuri, who really seemed mature), and I loved
the last boss (who, in typical Tales
fashion, isn't all that bad). Tales
of the Abyss comes quite close,
however. I just didn't care as much
for the battle system, but I did like the
story. I honestly don't remember much
of Symphonia, except that I did
finish it and that it's supposed to be
linked to Phantasia. It's a
shame we won't really get the Vita remakes,
but I can understand why. I really
need to check out Legendia even
though it's considered to be awful (hey, it
can't be as bad as Tempest, which is
likely the one that really, truly needs a
There's no doubt that Graces
f has the best battle
system in my opinion. Getting
rid of standard MP is what the
series needed to do and that's
what makes lost classics like
the Destiny remake and
Tales of Hearts so
great. Taking that combat to
three dimensions made it that
much better. Not sure if the
story holds up, but I love it. I
also much prefer the style of
exploration in it that includes
no world map. Vesperia is
a good choice as well though I'm
not as much of a fan of its
combat. I can tell you one
thing, both games feature
Trust me when I say we aren't
missing much with the upgraded
versions of Phantasia
(and no, nothing is as bad as Tempest).
4) If THQ goes under will anyone save
No idea. I never got into the series,
but it seems to be quite popular, so I
wouldn't be surprised if someone snatched it
up if THQ went under. Maybe Eidos
Wow, the thought of an Eidos
Montreal developed Darksiders
is actually incredibly enticing.
Anyway, I could see Square Enix
rescuing the series as they had
luck doing something similar
with Sleeping Dogs
(though that's a bit different).
The series hasn't exactly blazed
on the sales charts but it has
done well enough that it'd be
worthwhile for someone to pick
up. If you enjoy games like Bayonetta
you may want to give the
series a try! Especially Darksiders
II as it incorporates many
more RPG elements.
5) What RPG series would you like to see a
non-RPG made out of?
Interesting question! Though it's
really hard for me to pick, since I play
RPGs 99.9% of the time. Um...I guess
maybe Suikoden. It's quite
political and war-heavy, so I wouldn't mind
seeing an RTS come out of it. Though
I'd want it to be a hybrid of the Total
War games and Age of Empires.
I love the big battles for Total War
but it doesn't really have a story.
I'd definitely need a good story, in typical
Suikoden fashion, and some of the other RTS
games do have storylines. Though I'd
still probably want some town exploration
and whatnot. Gah, I'd just want an
RPG, I know it!
agree! Though the prospect of a
non-RPG Suikoden is
interesting (I'm thinking of
something along the lines of the
Romance of the Three Kingdom
games) I will still much prefer
a proper Suikoden VI.
Prospects for that seem rather
dim sadly, and I doubt a non-RPG
title would help its popularity.
Anyway, still an interesting
Speaking of which, I saw the lengthy
discussion in your last column about the Suikoden
games. I somewhat remember writing to
you maybe four years ago (was it you?
I know I wrote to RPGamer) suggesting the
series since it's so good. How many of
the games have you played? It's a
shame the series didn't sell enough for
Konami to continue the main series.
While Yoshitaka Muriyama was the father of
the series, the fifth game has proven that
you don't necessarily need him for a great Suikoden
game. While I haven't played the DS or
PSP games, I hear that they're not really as
good (the fact that they don't take part in
the main timeline really blows). I
agree that the series has its fair share of
glitches/mistranslations, though by the
fourth and fifth games they aren't as
noticeable. I actually didn't mind the
army battles for the second game, though I
agree that they could be better. A lot
of it had to do with getting lucky, which I
did not like. I thought the third and
fifth games did the army battles decently,
especially the fifth (which does feel like
an RTS). A lot of people complain
about Suikoden III's army battles
because it doesn't feel like an actual
"army", but they're forgetting the setting,
backstory, and nature of the peoples who
make up the Grasslands. Apple's in the
third game too, though she's still a
somewhat ineffective strategist (doesn't
hold a candle to anyone, really). It's
a shame that Suikoden II hasn't made
it to the PSN, but Konami's pretty much
stated that they don't care for it.
The team was officially disbanded and the
new guy in charge stated that he has no
intention of continuing the main
am a huge fan of the Suikoden
series! I have played I,
II, and V. I love
the whole continuity of the
series which is what makes the
games so great, and what makes
the DS and PSP games not as good
sadly. The odd thing about it is
that the Suikoden games
did sell pretty well. Yes, sales
tapered with Suikoden V
but I don't see that as a reason
to completely throw away what
was great about the games.
Doesn't seem like either game
did very well so I hope they
You are of course right about Suikoden
V, it is proof they don't
need the original creator to
continue the main series.
Regarding Lucia, it's true she seems to
survive a lot, but she IS quite
strong-willed. Plus, we wouldn't have
a third game without her! Regarding
Hugo's rage, it's definitely
understandable. Lucia might seem to
have cooled off, but Hugo is only 15 while
Lucia was 21 in Suikoden II (and as
such is in her late thirties in the third
game). Also, Hugo does go through
character development, so it's all
good. I personally find the story of
the game to be stronger than its
predecessor, though I'm part of the minority
who doesn't consider the second game to be
the best. It does have the best skill
system for sure (which carries onto the war
system). Suikoden V also has a
skill system but it's somewhat limited
compared to the third game.
All I can say is that I
apparently really need to get
down to it and play the third
game don't I?
It's a real shame that we don't get more
JRPGs like this. My ultimate story
would involve a collaboration between Yasumi
Matsuno, Yoshitaka Muriyama, and Hironobu
Sakaguchi. And whoever did the
scenarios for the third and fourth Breath of
Fire games...and the people who work for
Well, talk to you soon. I'm liking
this whole "writing in" business, dunno why
I didn't bother for a long time.
do need more great writers
working on JRPGs, that is
certainly an issue. Considering
how great Atlus has done in that
department, I wish they would
all just go work for Atlus
instead of fussing with other
companies that might not use
them to their full potential. It
would mean Suikoden wouldn't
get that help but who knows what
other amazing series Atlus could
come up with? Anyway, thanks for
the great questions! I hope to
hear from you again soon.
Firstly, many congratulations :)
To celebrate I thought we'd try something a
bit different. There's a BBC Sport Radio
show called "Fighting
Talk" (also available to download
freely as a podcast on iTunes). In it
there's a round called "Defend the
Indefensible". Basically whatever the
initial statement is you have to agree with
it, no matter how obviously incorrect it may
be. Your first statement is-
"Those who have abandoned Final Fantasy
after XIII need look no further for
a replacement series than Agarest."
Explain why this is true in, let's say, 50
words or more (the more is very optional).
dear, how in the world do I
complete this challenge? I guess
if you're fed up with Final
Fantasy and want a series
that is the exact opposite of it
in every conceivable way then Agarest
is a great series to turn
to! The music isn't as good, the
combat is more archaic, the
graphics are from a bi-gone era
and the stories are ...
different. So there you go, if
you want something that is NOT
Final Fantasy then try Agarest!
I can say at the very least they
are well localized.
So, how long do you think it will be until
you introduce video games to Training
Wheels? Do you have any plans to try
to sway his preferences to RPGs?
That is a good question! I'm
going to have to guess a
ballpark of around age 3 or 4,
probably after watching me play
some Mario games and
what not for a while. Then once
he's reading I can let him try
some New Super Mario Bros.
WiiU where I can assist
him from the gamepad. I'll of
course try and sway his
preference towards RPGs after
that, perhaps with Pokémon
or Rocket Slime. Then I
could of course try some Zelda
and perhaps some early Final
Fantasy games. I think Pokémon
will really do the trick though.
This should be fun in a few
Short and sweet as usual:
1) I hope so
2) Unexpectedly low...I love Tales
3) I would replace them all with FFVI
4) Not an RPG but Fatal Frame II for the
Wii....can't say enough about a game that
has me terrified to walk through my own
house after playing it
5) Watership Down
I hope so too, after the amazing
Resonance of Fate
really like to see them work on
some more original material.
They did some portable projects
with Konami but they've always
been known for doing console
games so I wonder if they've got
a secret project in the works. I
know it's not Resonance of
but I can dream
2) On first look they seem
unexpectedly low but you have to
remember the series has never
been known for selling millions
of copies, with most of the main
titles selling under a million
in Japan. They sell quite well
to be sure, and certain titles
in the series have even done
well here in the US. So all
things taken into account it's
actually not bad at all
it will continue to go up.
Hopefully we fans in the West
can help add to that total quite
often in the future.
3) I can't really argue that in
the slightest, many games would
be much better with Final
4) I've never played the Fatal
series but I've
heard great things about it. My
personal game of the year would
be Persona 4 Golden
despite the fact that it's an
updated port (yes it is that
good). If we take ports out of
the equation then I would have
to go with either Devil
or Tales of
both of which
have brilliant battle systems. Mass
would also be in
consideration but I'd give a
slight edge to the other two.
5) I've never read Watership
but based on
the Wikipedia page I think it
could make a fantastic RPG!
@AskWheels DEAR WHEELS I KNOW I HAVEN'T
WRITTEN YOU IN AWHILE. I WAS BUSY FIGHTING
THE GORLAX ALSO YOU NEVER CALL ME SOME
FRIEND YOU ARE.
Oh, it's Beat. I can tell
because of the all caps. I tried
calling you but the Gorlax must
block your cell signal.
@AskWheels BUT ENOUGH ABOUT YOUR FAILURES
GOTTA ASK YOU A QUESTION IN THIS LOUD ROOM
FULL OF DRUNKS AND DUBSTEP (DANCE FLOOR NOT
CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER DUBSTEP.
DUBSTEP IS MAGIC MAN!
@AskWheels HOW SICK ARE YOUR MOVES. ARE YOU
dance moves aren't sick, I would
describe them as exceptionally
@AskWheels WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN PLAYING HALO
FOUR WITH ME EVERY DAY FOREVER?
@AskWheels CAN YOUR DAD BEAT UP MY DAD?
Only if he has a bunch of other
dads with him and I'm guessing
he does not!
@AskWheels GIMME 50 DOLLARS I MIGHT BE ARMED
you take check or credit?
@AskWheels IF MY DAD BEAT UP YOUR DAD WOULD
HE BE CONFERRED THE HONORARY TITLE
would if such an unlikely thing
were ever to happen.
@AskWheels WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE PERSONA 4
Because despite originally
coming out four years ago the
updated version for Vita shows
that the game is as relevant and
amazing as ever. Not just a
shining standard for Japanese
RPGs, but a model for all RPGs.
It may be some time before we
see a Persona 5 but
we'll all be watching with much
interest when it does arrive.
@AskWheels IF YOU WERE AN ANIME AND I WAS
YOUR DUB VOICE, HOW MUCH FAITH DO YOU HAVE
THAT I WOULD STAY ON SCRIPT.
would have as much faith that
you would stay on script as I do
that Sega will localize the
first 7th Dragon.
@AskWheels WHAT IF I WAS PORTRAYING YOU IN A
BIOPIC ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH MUGEN
don't think you could drink that
@AskWheels SHOULD I KEEP DRINKING.
recommend a nice Long Island
iced team, the Q&A drink of
@AskWheels DON'T ANSWER THAT YOU'RE TOO
@AskWheels GIVE 4 EXCELLENT REASONS FOR WHY
VECTORMAN SHOULD BE REBOOTED AS AN RPG.
Well actually, since Sega
published Resonance of Fate
they could actually turn Vectorman
into a cool RPG like that. It
could use stylish turn-based
shooting combat perhaps with
some sort of new companions. Maybe
they could even throw in some
secret party members from other
lost Sega games like Alex
Kidd. Get on top
of this Sega!
@AskWheels GIVE THREE ACCEPTABLE REASONS FOR
WHY FFVII SHOULD BE REBOOTED AS A
BUDDY COP COMEDY STARRING THE TURKS.
Well number one, buddy cop
comedies are still extremely
popular. Number two, you could
get actors from popular buddy
cop films to play the Turks to
raise the profile of the game.
Finally, Final Fantasy VII
would just be much better off
with less Cloud.
@AskWheels GIVE 400 MILLION REASONS WHY I'M
can't think of one?
@AskWheels NAW TOO EASY.
@AskWheels WOULD YOU HIT A RHINO WITH A BUS
IF THE BUS AND/OR THE RHINO WERE ASKING FOR
Only if it's not one of those
really endangered rhinos...wait
is that all of them?
@AskWheels WAS ASOB BETTER THAN BTMI!?
the Music Industry
clearly the better group with a
much larger variety of music.
did produce some great tunes so
you can't go wrong with either.
The fact both groups' music is
available for free
helps of course.
@Askwheels how do you feel about Barkely
2 getting an Al Bhed translation?
think it's hilarious and amazing
that they would actually go
through the trouble of doing
that. I think they also did for
the original game but I can't
recall. Hopefully this is the
start of many localizations for
the Al Bhed speaking audience!
That's it for this week! Happy Holidays and
we'll see you next year. Get your questions
About the Host
What I Can't Wait For:
1. Etrian Odyssey IV
2. Soul Hackers
3. DmC: Devil May Cry
4. Ni no Kuni
5. Shin Megami Tensei IV
On my Playlist:
Less Than Jake
Reel Big Fish
1. Will tri-Ace ever make a game on their
2. Is the 15 million total of Tales games
shipped unexpectedly high or low?
3. If you could replace a game's soundtrack with
that of another, which would they be?
4. What is your GotY and why?
5. What book(s) or other non-video game entity
would you like to see made into an RPG?