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And Now for Something Completely Different August 25, 2005

Rebecca Rudeen - 2:15 AM EST

I am feeling Ultra Relax.  A wonderful, invincible Relax.  A one-step-above kind of Deluxe.  Okay, yeah, I'm a bit ticked off that FUNimation wasn't able to get the rights to the first opening theme of Kodomo no Omocha, but they did what they could.  It's a catchy song nonetheless.

I've got the windows open in my room and I can hear the crickets over the hum of my CPU's cooling fan and the constant clackety clack of my fingers on my keyboard.  I'd go into more description but you'll probably fall asleep and you don't want to hear all the details anyways.

Anyways, we've got a nice crop of letters here for you today.  Let us begin, shall we?


All it needs is a Dick Tracy wrist radio, a bottle opener and a citrus zester.

About Angel0886's letter from yesterday, I can agree that many of the Nintendo DS's games are gimmicky, but I think it's a big stretch to say that the system is "a waste of money no matter how much it costs," or to call the
voice recognition capability a "feature that shouldn't be there in the first place." True, most DS games use its unique features in tacked-on (and, in the case of Lunar, downright stupid) ways, but they shouldn't be exemplary of how to develope games for the DS.


Our writer is calling attention to the fact that in Lunar: Dragon Song, you have to yell "escape" in order to get your party to run from battle.  Now, I'm wondering if the "escape" sound is something that you can set in game options, because in the heat of battle I wouldn't be one to yell "ESCAPE!" I'd be yelling "GAWD F***ING DAMN IT GET YOUR PANSY ASS OUT OF THERE! WHY THE HELL DID I BUY THIS F***ING GAME! I AM SO GONNA DIE! (etc. etc.)" and if the designers had any sense it would be the secret password.

Look at Nintendogs. In that game, you can use the voice recognition feature to teach a dog its name, so that when it hears you call its name, it will give you its attention. If you use your voice to associate certain phrases with actions, you can teach the dog commands, making it feel like you're speaking to a real dog. So while Lunar: Dragon Song just puts the voice recognition feature to a tacked-on use for the hell of it, Nintendogs puts it to brilliant use. The later exemplifies how you can use the DS's features in creative ways. It's a shame that most games make you think that those feautres "shouldn't be there in the first place" becuase they use those features so poorly. I'm hoping that once the DS gets past it's infancy stage, third party developers will figure out how to make creative games for it and put those features to legitimately good use.


I'm still having a little trouble fathoming the DS.  For one thing, I haven't really had the chance to pay attention to two screens at once, especially if I feel like I'm missing something important on the main screen.  (I felt simply pathetic attempting the demo for the DS Kirby.)  Then, of course, there's the stylus and the touch screen which sometimes you have to use in conjunction with the buttons.  However, there's one feature I feel that has been put to great use already: wireless chat.  There were quite a few people I ran into at Anime Boston with their DSes, happily tapping away and Pictochatting each other, and this was a scant few months after I read an article by one of the tech people in the Boston Globe that bemoaned the fact that he had to find someone on (I think) Craigslist to test out his new DS with.

With that said, here's a question. How much of a future do you think RPG's have in the next console generation? Judging by trailers, it looks like we'll have plenty of first-person and racing games to chose from (people seem to prefer those genres the most), and they look like they'll be a lot more immersive. But how do you think console RPG's can evolve with the increased horsepower, besides just looking better?



For one thing, I'm sure that with the increasing number of households getting high speed internet connections, we'll be seeing a lot more MMORPGs, and not just of the fantasy type.  One of the things I've mentioned in the past to Heath on his column is the fact that I'd really like to see the CLAMP manga/anime Angelic Layer as an MMORPG, or maybe more of an MMOFG--Massive Multiplayer Online Fighting Game.  (The premise of Angelic Layer was that in the future, people could design action figures that they could control using mental telepathy through special headsets.)  Developers just have to find that special niche market that appeals not just to the mainstream, though--I believe that there's a very good golf-related MMORPG out there.


Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

In response to Angel0886's letter yesterday re: how much they hate new handhelds for no solid reason, I say this: Would you rather they include new features in the system (i.e. voice input, touchpad, etc.) and not use it? How dare they try and innovate! Damn them! "Why won't they just up the graphics capability and call it a day! Two buttons is all I need!". I really don't understand how someone can "bash" a new tech for being.....uhhh....improved? Yah, it's gonna cost more, but how much did a friggin ten pound original gameboy cost when it came out. Don't whine about innovation, or that it's "useless" or "shouldn't be there". If that were the case, we'd be without a lot of staples we all enjoy....


I like improvement as much as the next person, but I'm still fond of backwards compatibility and simplicity, and at least the same ease of use as an earlier incarnation.  I was playing some of my old GBC games on my GBA, and I'm pleased that the DS has backwards compatibility, albeit limited (it's something I'm thinking of buying.)

By the way, I bought my first Game Boy in 1992 for $89.99, which is when it INCLUDED such wonderful things as headphones, batteries and even a free game (Tetris.)

But, my question is this: Do you feel "UMD", the PSP movie format will catch on? I appreciate having the ability to play movies on the PSP, but do I really want to invest in something I can only watch on said PSP, especially when I already own a DVD player.. Now for those that want to point and shout "hypocrite!", I'm not complaining about the feature, rather the way Sony opted to introduce a new standard in order to rake in more cash. I can see this being a lot more acceptable if they introduced some sort of converter whereby you could insert the UMD into some sort of DVD shell, and then place that in the standard DVD to playback. Kind of like really old school CD-ROM drives, where you had to put the CD in a really bulked up jewel case lookin' thing, and insert that into the drive. Thoughts?



From what I've been hearing about the PSP, there's a lot of negative points about it.  The size of the screen, the battery life...things like that that lend it to be more of a gaming machine than something you can watch a three hour movie on.  I know a lot of anime companies (and Squeenix with their dear little pet project) are releasing UMD's of some of their series, but rather stripped down from their DVD forms.  It makes me feel like the UMD turns the PSP into some glorified big kid's Video Now or Game Boy Advance Video player.  Sony always seems to be introducing new standards.  A lot of their CD players come with software to create ATRAC files, which I think are like the Betamax of digital music, and then there's the whole thing with mini discs and how they never really seemed to catch on in America.  (If you've never seen a mini disc: imagine a small compact disc, about the size of a UMD, in a clear plastic casing hinged like a 3.5" diskette.)  As for a converter, correct me if I'm wrong, but does the PSP have a video-out jack, whereby you can connect a yellow RCA cable from it to your TV?  (Of course, the picture quality is going to most likely be somewhat lacking...)

Thanks to FF7: AC, I can never watch Nurse Angel Ririka SOS in the same way again.

Q&A Hopeful of the Hour:

I've heard that Final Fantasy VII will be released simultaneously in Japan and North America on the same
day, September 14. However, why haven't we heard anything about the North American voice actors for the
movie? Is the movie going to be dubbed? Will it only be subbed? What can we come to expect for our beloved
Final Fantasy, just another subpar NSync voiceover good enough for the likes of The Spirits Within, or
will we get something worthy of the name Final Fantasy?

Also, good luck to all Q&A hopefuls... I wish you all luck (if all else fails go for their hearts with a sexy pose and a batting of the eyes!)

The Nameless


I got two letters with pretty much exactly the same question, so I'm answering the one with a little more substance in it.  Nothing personal.

Due to that wonderful thingy we call the International Date Line, yes, North America and Japan will be getting FF7:AC at the same time, however not on the same DAY.  We will get it the 13th of September while they will already be in the 14th.

As for voice actors, the Anime News Network lists the Japanese voice cast, AND two actors for an English dub.  They are the only two voices listed as of yet, so I guess there is going to be a dubbed version.  One of the actors is Michelle Ruff, who is listed as Elena (huh!?) and she's actually a voice actress with more than several roles under her belt (one of them being Fujiko Mine from Lupin III.)  So it sounds like they might be seasoned voice actors rather than "Let's get Billy Bob Thornton to do a Buddhist monk with that charming Southern drawl of his!" (oh gawd I hated that role.)  Hopefully (and this is a very big hopefully) we will be getting a bilingual version which will please the purists on both ends.

By the way, the reason why I can't watch Nurse Angel Ririka SOS in the same way again is that the actor who voices Ririka's daddy plays Reno. ^^;;

Let's hear it for gender equality.

Rebecca, or at least I hope this goes to Rebecca and not one of the others....



I'm a female RPGamer and I've been playing computer games in general
since the age of five when the likes of Pac-Man, Pitfall and Centipede
stole my soul. I've watched the rise and fall of many a console and
company, and yet I still feel I'm searching for a decent rpg aimed at
the female market.

I don't want any of these overly cutesey games with their mammoth
breasted heroines, with room temperature IQs and clothes best suited
for a Caribean heat wave. Take Final Fantasy X-2 for example: while I
loved the stystems and in particular the battle system, the whole feel
of the game was slightly offensive and completely patronising as a
''girl gamers'' rpg.

Have I just completely missed a whole range of decent rpgs with female
leads, or are rpgs still stuck in the same timeloop that has plagued
the rest of the industry for so long? Are there any signs of the rpg
genre moving the way of the other genres?

And as a girl gamer yourself, what are your thoughts on the apparent
lack of decent rpgs aimed at the female market?

Well that's my rant over and done with. Thanks.


The thing is, the video game market is always going to be dominated by guys, and guys want their guns and their T&A, and they want them both BIGGER than humanly possible, and they want to SEE as much of them as possible without pissing off Jack Thompson.  One of the very first things I learned about in journalism was "sex sells."  Atlus apparently tried to reach girls with Rhapsody: Cornet's Musical Adventure.  I remember seeing some release notes on the preorder sheets at a gaming store: "Great for girls who are into anime," I believe they read.  Looking at the reviews that RPGamer has for it makes me come to the conclusion that it's not only extremely sappy, it's also extremely easy.  

I have to admit, I like cute, but I also like a little maturity and a little challenge.  While guiding a bunch of super-deformed sprites with big, expressive eyes around a landscape, I want them to be fighting for something, and if I lose and have to restart a few times in that battle, then it's just going to make everything worth it in the end.

Mostly all the RPG's with female leads and female-oriented themes that I know of are usually based on shoujo anime that made it big time in Japan--for example, Sailor Moon: Another Story (Google it yourself, please, I'm too tired to do the work for you.)  If you've got a Dreamcast, then it may be worth it to check out Magic Knight Rayearth, if it can still be found.  I'm a big fan of the manga and the anime, and even with all the cuteness its still an action packed story.  (Plus, Working Designs did the translation, so there's some brownie points there.)

As for an RPG released in English with a female lead heroine, I should give Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town a mention.  However, there is one thing that I find seriously wrong with that game: It is actually somewhat easier than its predecessor, considering that there's been an important feature added that significantly ups your money making power.  I haven't played Another Wonderful Life (and I don't currently have any intention to) but from what I've heard the bachelors are somewhat lacking.

Also, I just can't stand the fact that after the girl farmer in HM:MFoMT becomes pregnant, she still has to work.  Until the day she delivers her baby.  That is just so wrong.

Is there a twelve step program for this?

Hello [Not Andrew,]

I just wanted to know if I was the only one suffering from Final Fantasy Withdrawl. I am used to having a new Final Fantasy come out at nice intervals.  I'm done my game, and looking for something new and HEY look it's the new Final Fantasy think I'll get that.

*All US Dates

FF VIII - September, 09, 1999

FF IX - November, 14, 2000

FF X - December, 18, 2001

FF X2 - November, 18, 2003 - don't really count this one but meh ....

FF XII - some time in the third quarter of this year ...

Yes I did leave out Final Fantasy XI but I do not personally count it. I know it is there but I like Final Fantasy being a Console game. I have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM with Sqeenix developing online games but does it HAVE to be part of the series. My whole collection from the start are all nice and numberd and
flow, but now it goes 10, 12 ... bah! Is Final Fantasy XIII going to be online? Are they going to mis match the series like that now? Or are they going to continue the Series on the Playstation and do Online games under a
different title?

I would be fine with them having it be Final Fantasy Online (incert number) that way the two wont be linked together but they will be.

I just think that they should start at the begining, and not take the numbers which should be games on the console.

There's my rant. Thank you so much.

-Elisa Ardell-


You're welcome so much.

Here's my take on it: Square-Enix has had a lot of other stuff on their hands, what with their current affliction of acute sequelitis and all, so I guess you've got a good point in claiming withdrawal.  Some people have even gone so far to suggest that they're running out of money making ideas, so they're going back to what made them (or is mak-ING them) the most money.  Then there's the obvious conclusion: you're beating the games faster, resulting in a longer wait between titles.  (Take your time!  Enjoy the scenery!  Play that minigame a couple dozen times more!)  Then again, with the way technology is improving in leaps and bounds, they'll probably say that FF XII will be made on the PS3 or something because they want the graphics and game play to be just so, which will push it even further down the line.

Like your mother always said, the best things come to those who wait.

Howdy Current Q&A Host Contestant,

Why the heck do gaming sites and gaming stores always have to throw around
random release dates when the official company release dates are "Q3 2005"
and so forth?

Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland


I guess maybe it's because gaming companies don't want to lull people into a false sense of security by saying "Awesome Cool RPG LXV is going to be released on the 32nd of Octember and it's going to be so totally perfect!" There could be any number of things wrong with a game that need to be fixed before its release, and giving a blanket period of time lets a gaming company narrow down to a specific date that they think will have the most impact on sales.

And So...

My first column ever as part of RPGamer is finished, and I'm one step closer to fulfilling my dreams.  I hope you were well entertained (heck, I had a ton of fun doing this) and I hope you return that favor by giving me the pleasure of your vote this Friday.

Enjoy the rest of RPGamer Idol and have a good rest of the week.  Yoroshiku onegai shimasu dechu!

Rebecca Rudeen was brought to you by Mr. and Mrs. Rudeen.

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