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Middle of the Road September 23, 2005

Rebecca Rudeen - 14:30 PM EST

*sigh* Okay, the Red Sox suck now...

Anyhoo, the news in Bucketland is that I still have this cold and I'm fairly aggravated that I brought up a really funny point of discussion and I've hardly gotten any mail for it. Oooh! Hopefully the new topic that I've raised at the bottom will make up for it but I'll still be accepting mail on the old one.

Onto the subject of mail: I got a grand total of five letters. Guys, if you're rooting for me to win, you've got to help me out! So in the tradition of Z-Force, I will offer you this dire threat: Send me letters or I will fill this column with pictures of my dog.

Okay, here we go.

L E T T E R S

At least SOMEONE listened...

Hi there Bucket,

I couldn't help but write in thanks to the topic, Here are three of my weird gaming superstitions/rituals

1: When making tough jumps in action rpgs and the like I hoist the controller up as I try to make the jump... thinking it will help but knowing it won't

BUCKET

Hmm, sounds like a classic case of reflexive action. Then again, once the Revolution comes out, with its controller and all, you'll find that all that practice has helped out.

2: If I'm having problems in a dungeon or getting to a new area in a game I think about the game all night long before I go to sleep and hope I dream of a solution, which has worked many times

BUCKET

Anyone remember MYST? I used that same strategy, and once it actually worked.

3: Thanks to the fact my mom and aunt ask stupid questions and/or poke fun at the heroes I've taken to only playing RPGs when no one is home so uh yeah you aren't the only one, that and since my aunt is a jesus freak I'm afraid of her reaction to some of the underlying themes in some RPGs I have, hell even my mom freaked out when Yuna walked on water in FFX

Arros Raikou

BUCKET

I think our parents have been poisoned to some extent by Jack Thompson and his diatribes, but then again, there is some reason for concern among them. I used to play The Sims and The Sims 2 a lot, and my mom would always ask me, "Is there...infidelity in these games? And murder? What about robbery and [insert nasty thing here]?" My answer to her is: That depends on the depravity of the player.

Then again, I'm sure they're impressed by the graphics as well.

(Oh, by the way: Don't be hating on your auntie. Aunties give you the best Christmas presents.)


Once again on the recommendations circuit.

Hey Bucket,

First I just want to wish you and Matt the best of luck in the big vote this coming weekend. Matt passed his grueling test this week with flying colours and I'm sure you'll do the same! You've both done a great job at the very least.

I have never written in to rpgamer before (in fact I only finally joined at long last so I could participate in the vote last week!), but I have come to desperate straits! I need some expert advice on broadening my RPG horizons. I have a Playstation 2, but I don't have a lot of experience outside the Final Fantasy series. However, I wasn't too thrilled with Final Fantasy X (I didn't like the style of the game as much as the others in the series) or XI (I'm not so into the paying every month to play thing), and I tried Xenosaga when my friend recommended it to me but it didn't do a whole lot for me either. So, my question is: What are three or four games that have been released in the last couple of years that you would recommend to me, and why?

Thanks so much for any input you can give me, and once again - best of luck to both our worthy contestants! The end is in sight!

~Maria

BUCKET

Last couple of years, hmm...For Playstation 2, hmm?

*Gets shocked by lightning bolt of shock.*

I am wounded to the quick...time to bust out a few all-purpose recommendations.
If you can find it, then by all means pick up Legend of Mana if you're looking for some beautiful graphics. It's a PSX game, though, so there might be issues. I also would recommend it surely for the non-linear aspects of gameplay--you can complete the events in any order, and there's multiple paths and endings.
The special edition of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is going to be released fairly soon. It's basically a PS2 port of the Gamecube game. While it sacrifices connectivity with the Game Boy Advance Harvest Moon game, what it DOES give you is a new bachlorette. And unlike the previous games, the people in this one grow up.
Aside from that, I'm not too familiar with RPG's on the Playstation 2. I could throw out a random recommendation (Katamari Damacy, anyone?) but unfortunately, I'm completely tapped out.

Action RPGs: get yourself a piece of the action without all that wait-your-turn crap.


Yay Matt! BUCKET!

Haha, Young Merlin, that brings back bad memories... knew it was gonna be bad when I read about it in Nintendo Power, and I still rented it. But I am glad you brought up E.V.O: The Search for Eden, Enix always was able to produce the most interesting action/rpgs. Illusion of Gaia is certainly one of my all-time favs, in any case.

This brings up a most interesting question, where do you draw the line between action/rpgs and action games? Certainly E.V.O. does not fit the classic mold of Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy games, but neither is Zelda in the traditional sense. And there are other, more complicated examples, such as River City Ransom and the SNES Shadowrun, which can only be seen as an RPG because of raisable stats. And where does that put classic games such as Startropics and Shadowgate? (And, while we're on the subject, why aren't there more great games today like Startropics and Shadogate?!?)

BUCKET

You know, Startropics is one of those underappreciated gems of Nintendo's history. It's Zelda-like in that you're doing top-down combat in caves, but then again there are also those RPG and puzzle elements. Come to think of it, it's not even covered on the site, and it was good enough to warrant a sequel after all...Hmm...Anyways, Startropics had a unique setting for an RPG, but I get the feeling that maybe it was just too "American" to warrant anything after the second game.

My personal opinion is that complex dungeons and mazes are what makes an action game into an action/rpg, even if that means that excellent games such as River City Ransom, Shadowrun, and E.V.O. don't quite make the cut. What are your thoughts on this?

All the best,
Adam IX

BUCKET

Now to your question: I think the line between a simple button masher and an RPG is room for character development, lots of puzzles that require you to stop pressing buttons and go "hmm," and then there's the whole "quest" factor thrown in too. I know that there are goals in other video games, true, but in RPGs you've got to work for them, and that hard work is going to eventually pay off somehow. That's my take on it.

Why? Because I can.

Hi,
This is probably going to be a two parter. . . maybe three. Out of all the newer games (speaking of around 2001 and onward) how many have you actually liked and why? (Being cliche' ) I didn't like Final Fantasy X all that much at all, nor X-2. But with my question, I guess I'd rather you focus on other newer games that you might have played such as Shadow Hearts, Shin Megami Tensei (Nocturne or DDS), Phantom Brave, etc. I myself found that whereas these games are good (specifically Shadown Hearts + Covenant), it seems like companies are trying to hard to make a unique battle system and hence are making it too complicated. Maybe not necessarily complicated but so that it makes it distracting from the rest of the game. Sort of like the battles and the rest of the game are two separate things completely. I also found that the simpler battle systems allowed for more flow between battles and story and other parts of the game (such as Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Threads of Fate : ) , Wild Arms, Tales..., FFVI, VII, IX, and more that I'm forgetting at the moment). What do you think?

BUCKET

While I'm not completely sure how new they are, I really liked Golden Sun and Golden Sun: TLA. There was a lot of puzzle solving to do (thankfully not a lot of random encounters while doing so) and it was just fun seeing how time passed as you played the game, and how events in GS affected GS:TLA. These two games had cliche written all over them, but I liked them just the same (except the antiquated battle system. I mean, if an enemy isn't there, obviously you're not gonna attack dead air, are you?) I prefer simple battle systems, especially when my party reaches the higher levels, then it's wham-bam-thankyouma'am, without all that magic or materia or Djinn or whatever to worry about.

Also, (last question and the important one in my mind) Why do you play video games, or RPGs specifically? This is actually a question that I'd like to hear both contestants answers on. And please don't just say, "Because they are fun!!!!!!!!1111!11!!11oneonetwo." I mean, when you look at a game that you've played and loved, why do you love it so incredibly much? Why does it have a special place in your heart and mind? Is it just simply that you started playing them when you were small and you never stopped? Or is it something more than that? Is it that they helped you through rough times? Do they make you look at your life in a different way?

Morridor
(why doesn't anyone respond to my comments on the forums?)

BUCKET

I play video games as an escape, mostly. I'm not a very social person, and you could describe me as shy. One of the major things I regret now that I've been out of college a year is not making many lasting friendships with my classmates, and I think it's mostly because I holed up in my room with ZSNES. Another reason could just be my wanting to be as good as everyone else and being part of the crowd (I still have a lot to catch up on if I really do.) Even with my life as a grownup just beginning, I still want to be able to play a video game and feel like I'm a kid again because I know those days will soon be gone forever. Or maybe I'll never grow up. Who knows?

As for your forum troubles...Patience, please, patience!

Breaking the mold.

I too am unimpressed by the FFIV GBA announcement. Any word on FFIII?

BUCKET

There apparently hasn't been very much news on the FF3-DS front since July when they talked about the new "defense bar" feature. Maybe we'll get a release date sometime soon; who knows.

You know what else I'm unimpressed with? Zelda: Twilight Princess. The Zelda series has grown stagnant and stale. The games have not changed one iota in about 14 years. Yes they of course made the leap to 3D, but the gameplay differences are far less pronounced than with something like Mario. Mario 64 was revolutionary beyond words. Zelda 64 (while great) threw the same old LTTP gameplay into a 3D world with no serious differences, and it's stayed that way ever since.

The rest is for an editorial page, but I would like to see Zelda break the mold. The dungeons could be the biggest problem, as the overworld stuff is usually fresh and interesting. I leave you with that. -JuntMonkey


BUCKET

There's been lots of innovation in the Zelda series, but like you said, the premise is usually the same (although I'm sure many people were impressed by The Wind Waker.) However, it's still rather early in the game for the developers of Twilight Princess. Now that Link's gotten a bit older, I'm sure that the game has a little growing up to do itself. (Then again, the Gamecube has always struck me as a "kiddie" system, so who knows?)

C L O S I N G
Every new beginning is some other beginning's end.

Okay, so apparently you guys weren't too impressed with my discussion topic that I proposed yesterday, so I will let that one stand if anyone wants to write in on it, and introduce a meatier topic for those of you who wish to partake in meatier discussions:
Are you a fan of the realism that's been in video games since the late 90's, or are you more of a fan of cel-shading, anime-style graphics and other "artisty" aspects of video games? Personally, I'm a little put off by the "realism" in FF7:AC because I really liked the cartoony feel of the original game, and that it lent itself more to anime than CGI.
Then again, for all the people that think like me, there's probably a million people who don't, so I'd like to see both sides of the issue.

With that, gokigenyou and good night.


Rebecca Rudeen will now be in the Green Room for autographs and photos.

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