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Googleshng - October 13 '00- 3:00 Eastern Daylight Time

Lately, my mail server has been a tad buggy. Last night it just flat out refused to do anything, and it might have eaten some letters here and there over the last couple weeks. My appologies to pretty much everyone, especially Gin and Jake. I should have this sorted out by the end of the weekend... or a new mail server. Anyway, here's Jake.

Jake: Hi everyone. If you're wondering who I am, you obviously don't read very many reviews. I've written more reviews for this site than anyone else. By a pretty thick margin too. I'm working on a review of LoD right now while waiting for questions to come in. It should be in Paws' next update, but here's a sneak preview: 5, 5, 5, 5... it's such an average game. :)

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In the PSX:
LoD
or BFM, or PE2...
Life forms... you tiny little life forms...
Jake, Goog, how are ya? I love Valkyrie Profile as a game, and i really want to finish it, but every time i do the spiritual concentration i get nothing, or a cave of oblivion(yes there is more than one, much to my shagrin). My other question has to do with Breath of Fire 4. Is there any one else who is excited about BOF4? Most people i ask think that because it comes out 2 weeks after the PS2, it's nothing. Thanks.

Miguel

ps. please reply to the question about VP if you don't post it, as i said before, I REALLY WANNA BEAT THIS GAME!!

Jake:
Ooh. A VP question. OK, here's how it works. In each chapter, there's only a few things to find by concentrating. Generally speaking, you tend to find one Cave of Oblivion, two or three characters, and two or three dungeons. After you've found those, concentrating won't do anything (including pass time) until you get to the next chapter. So, after you've picked up the new characters, and gone through all the dungeons, you always have a few periods left to go back and character build, hang around in towns, or just rest and get your HP back. Just don't forget to send up two heros every chapter if you want the B ending. As for BoF4, I myself am not really a fan of the series, but I can't see it competing with the PS2. There aren't exactly any RPGs lined up at launch to my understanding. If I'm wrong, I suppose that will be a pleasant little surprise for me when I get mine. Ah, discounts.

Googleshng:
A couple things I'd like to add. Those numbers there are all assuming you're playing on normal. You don't have to worry too much about character building since there's infinate monsters at the end of the game (and in one room of that happy little place in the far upper left of the map... the one with the person in a crystal. As for my opinions of BoF4... well, I played the first 2, and they were pretty fun, but I'm dead broke, and there's more important things I have to play first.

Reviewing
First time I'm sending a letter to RPGamer Q&A seriously...

What do you personally think is a good format for reviews? And what do you look for while reviewing?

- Beedrill51
"Too...much...seriousness...must...do...something...funny!...eeeeejeect!"

Jake:
Ah, finally a chance to share some writing tips. Here's what I always do. When a game comes out, I run out, grab it, and start playing it almost non-stop. When I do stop I either save it and shut it off, or look at a clock, because it's very hard to guess a game's completion time. When I finally finish the game, unless it's 2 A.M., I immediately start writing the review. The basic format I follow is to write an introductory paragraph composed more or less of praise, then let things flow from there. Generally, I try tend to mention everything in the order that stands out in my mind. For example, when reviewing Valkyrie Profile, I started with the Nordic plot and non-linearity. If I reviewed Vagrant Story, I'd make it clear that it's an Action/RPG dungeon crawl first thing. Once I've mentioned all the major features of a game, I glance up at the list of review criteria and steer the flow of my writing towards anything I left out. Then, once I'm done, I go back, read over the review, and give sub scores based on what I've written, and then the overall score after that. Doing the scores last helps me to be objective about them and make sure I covered everything. This is actually the hardest part of the entire process. If a game is really good, it's tempting to write the scores as if the scale is from 6-10 rather than 1-10. You should never start with a ten and subtract for each flaw, or start with a 1 and add. You should always start with each score at a five, then adjust up or down depending on whether the game is above or below average in that regard. Then the only hard part is figuring out just what average is. It changes from year to year of course, and from console to console. Right now, for Playstation games, Legend of Dragoon is a good baseline to use. It blends first generation low quality polygons with great prerendered backgrounds. It has a really interesting story, but tells it using every tired RPG cliché in the book. The whole thing just screams I am the most generic RPG you will ever see. It isn't bad though. Ahem. I seem to be getting off on a tangent here. After determining all the scores for a review, I force everyone I can find to proofread it, asking them if I left anything out, or if they disagree with anything I say. Again, having to defend my review helps make sure I didn't miss anything, and this way I also make sure my opinion is typical of the average person, or at least the average RPGamer staffer. Finally, I find images for the review, which normally I do while everyone is proofing, and submit it to Paws. Then Paws forces me to add a sentence in about length and difficulty, which I can never seem to mention naturally when they're average. So, some tips just to summarize everything I said. Write the review, then base the scores on it. Five is average. Get as many people as you can to proofread. Fix what Paws says to. Finally, and most importantly, make sure your review has a sense of flow. RPGamer's criteria tend to drive people into the pattern of starting all their paragraphs like this: "The plot of [game] is..." "The graphics are..." "The music/sound is..." This sounds extremely stilted and turns your review into a collection of unrelated mini-reviews. I admit, I occassionally fall into this trap myself when I'm in a hurry, but a review with segues is much more pleasant to read.

Googleshng:
Uh... I think we've spent enough time on this. 8)

YaaAAAaaaAAAAA! Wait, that's only in the OST. Doh.
What's a good way to win in Koudelka? That game seems pretty good but the battles take too long and the bosses are a bit hard considering I don't really want to level-build here. I don't know if you could really help much, but any good strategies would be appreciated. Also, on an unrelated note, the Dc will finally work with aol soon, so I'm happy. MMmm... Phantasy Star Online. And Grandia and SoA. Dreamcast rules.

Steve

Jake:
Advice for Koudelka... let me think back to it. That was one of the first games I reviewed. The most important advice I can give is to specialize your characters. At least one person should be an offensive mage, I used Koudelka for this, but anyone works really. Give her a weapon that enhances her mental stats, and never attack. Just hang back the whole game casting offensive spells. You should get all of them up to the innefficient third level, which I believe is level 2, since they start on level 0. It's been too long to remember. MP is restored easily enough, so running out shouldn't be an issue, and if you don't attack, your weapon doesn't break, making that horn even better. Your mage won't need any strength increases at all, but speed is fairly important, and endurance shouldn't be completely ignored. The other two characters can concentrate on offense. Never have anyone specialize in healing or defensive spells, especially reflect. The increasing costs are too high compared with the minor effect they have. Good weapons for the other two characters to specialize with are the rifle and broadswords. The best three weapons in the game are a crossbow, and two broadswords, although one of those is harder to obtain than it is to finish the game. The great thing about this is that the crossbow uses the rifle skill, but not rifle ammo, and monsters drop Gallahad swords constantly to bring your broadsword skill up.

Googleshng:
That's all very good advice, but there's one more thing which works wonders. My patented Corpse Bunker Strategy!
        
        
        
        
        
        
EJ      
K       

In this nice little visual aid, red squares are where monsters can move, green monsters can't move to, and yellow they can only step in if Edward and James are both dead. As you can see, even if that happens, Monsters flat out can't get to Koudelka for close ranged attacks. Plus Koudelka is a mage, therefore needs high MP, and therefore has very high magic defense. So many fights boiled down to this for me. Obviously if Koudelka isn't your main mage, you'd want someone else back there.

Stuff
I have A question for both Goog and Jake. First Goog. It's about sending you mail. If I for some reason sent you something and then realized that I want to send you something else instead, would there be anything wrong with that? I mean is it okay to send multiple letters if they are all about something different?If you don't answer this I will not be surprised, because A lot people might start doing this if you say it is okay. Now Jake. On VP who is your favorite character, and what is your favorite battle group? That's all. I know your the guest for today, but there was'nt much else I could think to ask you.Sorry. Aoshi19

Jake:
My favorite character would have to be Arngrim. I'm a sucker for characters with swords twice as long as they are tall. As for who I actually used, at the end, it was my three best mages. Mystic Cross is very nice, especially with Ether Scepters.

Googleshng:
I don't mind when people want to correct or add to a letter they just sent, as long as they put EVERYTHING in the new letter, and give it a convienient subject like "Ignore that last letter". I don't have time to paste letters together from multiple sources. Oh, and if you like characters with huge swords, you have to watch Escaflowne. Balgus and Chid set records.

Singing.
Bring Back The Ol' Quicky (To the theme of Monty Python's "Eric The Half-A-Bee")

The Quicky, phillosophically,
Must, ipso facto, have to be.
For the Quicky is pro-crazy.
Quite truly non-sanity. D'you see?

But the Quicky, you've said to me
"I am sorry, but it has to flee"
When half the column can bore ye
For there is nothing new to read?

Red blue green! Charlie Sheen!
Bring back the ol' Quicky!
L-O-L and O-M-G!
Bring back the ol' Quicky!

Thor and Drew created He,
In the name of RPGs,
To deal with the monotony!
Blarg! You bring back the ol' Quicky!

Spittle on thumb, Spittle on knee,
Bring back the ol' Quicky!
Chimpan A! Chimpan Z!
Bring back the ol' quicky!

Nov 28, V-Ronnie Lee
Dedicated a day to thee.
Oh please don't kill this history!
Else I will go Jet Li!

Or he will go Jet Li,
On poor Googleshng!

The End

Joshua Reid is mean?

NO! On poor Googleshng!

Oh.

Joshua Reid is mean...

~The "I haven't gone to bed in two days. Sorry." Sack~

Jake:
Hahaha. Now sing the Traffic Lights song!

Googleshng:
Hmm... it's almost as if you're trying to tell me something... what could it be? 8)

FF8
Hey Google,
I was wondering if you watched any Trigun? Its got to be the greatest anime ever, in my opinion, of course. Now for my real question...

I just beat Omega Weapon in Final Fantasy VIII, it took about 45 minutes of intense gaming, and yet I find no immediate award for doing so. I was given a Three Stars, but is that it? I find that to be quite cheap, considering how hard Omega was.

Thanks,
Mephtik-X

Jake:
"Three Stars?" You must be reading reviews somewhere other than RPGamer! How dare you! Seriously though, my thoughts on Final Fantasy VIII can be found here. The nice part about writing reviews is that when people want your opinion later, you can just point.

Googleshng:
Read more carefully. Three Stars is what you get for beating it, not a review score. That's FF tradition. The reward for beating weapons is never much more than the sense of satisfaction it gives.

The Last Laugh:


Jake: Well that was interesting. Not many questions were really aimed at me, so in closing, here's some guesses on scores I'll be giving out in the near future: LoD- 5, PE2- 3 and dropping, Lunar- 8, Dragon Warrior... 1. >:)

Googleshng: Again, sorry this column went up so late. I need to fix this mail problem. Enjoy the weekend!


Googleshng "Eww, 4:30 PM" @rpgamer.com
That was... odd.

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