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ASK SEAN
Column 52: Holy Carpet, Batman!
January 22nd, 2008

Sean - 5:33pm EST

For those that were wondering what happened to the column yesterday, I will simply say that we decided to switch over to a two column per week schedule until letter volume picks up. Sorry about that. I'll just have to spend the time writing more reviews and editorials, or maybe sit down and play a game for a change.

In the last week I've done a fair bit of gaming. First and foremost, I polished off Guild Wars: Eye of the North. Expect to see a review soon. I had a terrible time with one of the final missions. I almost put the Angry German Kid to shame.

I've tried Mass Effect and I have determined one thing so far: it is not spectacular. Yet.

I am having problems with my 360 VGA cable--the picture is all fuzzy and blurry. It worked for Blue Dragon, but Mass Effect just doesn't work with it. I might as well play it on my old crap TV. Edit: I found an option that turned this off. Why is this on by default?

I played a lot of Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction over the weekend, as I had plenty of time on the nice HDTV. I picked up a RYNO IV and it helped me finish up the game pretty quickly. I've started playing the challenge mode (hard mode), but I think I will drop it for now and return later. If I can swing it, tonight will be devoted to Mass Effect on a big screen.

Of course, no intro would be complete without some mention of FFXI. I haven't played much lately. I have only progressed a bit in the Chains of Promathia storyline (on chapter 5 now) and I have leveled paladin from 19 to 21. My red mage dropped to 59 as a result of being stupid when I was helping someone look for coffers. That hurt my ego. The pimp hat must be regained.

For those that care, the last contest prizes have been sent out. For those lucky enough to receive something, please let me know when they arrive.




LETTERS
[QNA] Homosexuals in Video Games


I submitted a question earlier and with revising it slightly, would like a second opinion from you Sean, if possible: I would like to know your opinions on homosexual characters in games lately, especially RPG's. Most times when I boot a game up for the first time and I see the protagonist, I can just hear some corporate higher-ups talking: "What? This guy? He can't be gay. He's too normal-looking and mentally balanced. Look, if you are adamant about him being that way, you are going to have to make a few concessions. First, move him from male lead to a comedic supporting role, then give him an afro, optional mustache, skinny or steroid-level build, and matching pink heart magic and leotard. And finally, goddamn it, you name him Coco."

Sean

Ok, I think that is going a little far, but it is your opinion after all. For the most part, the sexual orientation of characters in a game desn't matter to me, as long as it is done believably. I simply don't care about these kinds of things.

Now, shouldn't game developers be held to a higher standard to include homosexual characters of more than a single personality? Should they even treat homosexuality in characters as their entire personality more than a single aspect of their selves, as they seem to have been? Positively portrayed homosexual characters are few and far between, I mean, remember those villains from God Hand and Shenmue II? And the two or three from the Metal Gear series are downright psychotic.

Sean

Well, I guess they could get out of the purely stereotypical stuff and branch a little, but I still don't see the issue here. I know a lot of gay women and men and they are exactly the same as those that aren't gay. Sure, there are the exceptions--some are more flamboyant than others (as often portrayed in movies), but the majority of them are just like everyone else. Unless sexuality is called into play, does it really matter if the character is straight or gay? If it isn't important to the story, why bring it up? Then everyone can have their fantasies.

A good example of this is that Dumbledore thing from Harry Potter. Who knew the guy was gay? Was it ever relevant to the story? No, not really. Did it really matter in the end? Nope, not at all.

I can only think of the Magimel Brothers from the Shadow Hearts series off the top of my head as positive characters, and even then they seem to have their homosexuality and nothing else as the core of their personalities, and played to the effect of comedic annoyance of the players' party. I do not think I am the only one to feel this way about this, so I really want to hear what you think of the portrayal of homosexuality in video games of recent years. Thank you for your time.

Sean

Well, I haven't played any of the titles that you mentioned, so I don't think I am really qualified to answer any questions on this. I guess I do have a problem with gay being a personality trait, especially when it is used as the sole trait. A character based on just one thing is boring, be it their sexual orientation, their religion, ethnicity, or simple quirks.

Then again, I never go into the game and actively look for people with certain traits--I just try to enjoy the game for what it offers me. If I were to read too much into everything I use for entertainment, I would most likely find myself less entertained, which is something that I really don't want to do. Thanks for writing in!



Lost Odyssey


Why would Lost Odyssey be in four discs? It could fit on a one or two blu-ray disc. Is mult-discs starting to come back? Haven't seen any psp game that use multi-discs. Nor the ds has multi-cards. Is that becoming a new trend?

Sean

Well, Lost Odyssey, as a 360 exclusive, is limited to using DVD as its media (PS3 is the only one that uses Blu-Ray for games). DVDs can only store 4.5GB of data and thus larger games need to be split over multiple disks, which is something that was done a few times in the PS2 era as well. One thing is for sure: it is still rather uncommon now as 4.5GB seems to be enough room for most developers. As for it becoming a new trend? I guess it will be for those developers that feel that using a single DVD is limiting...

Also, doesn't Lost Odyssey have like twenty hours of cinematics?



My biggest letdown


Hi , RPGamers 2007 awards result was fun to read.

My biggest letdown of 2007 was definetly FFXII. I don't know if I am the only one who is feeling that way. One thing is for sure, I was very surprised to read all the extremely positive reviews and comments that were given to this game by this website.

Sean

Unless you are European or something, FFXII was a 2006 game. While not the best Final Fantasy, I never once though of it is a letdown. I think the Mana series will be holding a monopoly on that award for a while!



When the Wild Things Are


Let's try a midlength letter today, Sir Sean. I have a few topics but nothing big.

Sean

Shoot.

Topic 1: as is now observable, I succeeded in putting out a Front Mission review. Please note that the presence of giant robots is not an enticement to me, but good tactical action is. As neither entices you, I feel justified in saying that the game should never be played by you. All readers who feel intrigued should investigate my review and act as intuition dictates. As a sub-topic to this, I must note an odd bug: enemies that have had their arms blown off are mysteriously able to regenerate those arms just long enough to use a status-affecting item on friends and foes, then their lost limbs return to the scrapyard. Perplexing.

Sean

Congratulations! I would not touch that game with a ten foot pole. I almost had to get a restraining order against it when Macstorm suggested I review it. I think I threw up in my mouth when he made that horrible suggestion.

Topic 2: the subject of flight. Tales of Phantasia is the only RPG I can immediately recall that deviates from the standard airship format: Arche is able to fly for the entirety of the game on her broom, but eventually the other characters gain little flying mopeds of their own and individually fly about the globe in formation. Any notions of your own on this subject?

Sean

I liked that. Arche was a lot of fun even though she was a typical witch. It is nice to see something else other than airships for a change.

Topic 3: Ys. I have the first two games in the form of their Falcom Collections iterations ready to play but haven't dug in yet. Do you know anything about these games? And which version of Ys III would you prefer to play if pressed?

Sean

I am not sure which Ys I would play. I played the Ark one for the PS2 and while a lot of fun, I never seriously thought about playing more of them. If I had to pick between remakes and ports, I would need to scout out Game Rankings and read a few reviews and then pick the one that sounds the best.

Topic 4: how does that Sonic RPG look to you from the available information?

Sean

I am filled with disinterest. If it receives good reviews, I might try it out. I am not a big fan of Sonic.

Mentioning the Falcom Classics reminds me that I never outlined my Saturn titles that haven't been finished... we'll save those for another day. And if I was writing this a day later I could tell you how Juno turns out.

JuMeSyn

Sean

Cool. Juno is the comedy about teenage pregnancy? Let me know how it turns out! I know one game for the Saturn and I never played it. Care to guess which one?



N/A


Greetings and salutations,

So I have been playing "Blue Dragon". I started it right around when it came out and I hated it. So just the other day I got to thinking that maybe I hadn't given the game a fair shake and you know what... I was right. Sure it isn't ground breaking or anything but it is pretty fun. Shu is... a typical main character and I guess that that is fine, but I like my lead characters with a little more... depth. Oh well, need something to kill the days before "Devil May Cry 4" and "Lost Oddesy" come out.

Sean

We do think alike on this issue. I wish Shu were more tolerable. I want Lost Odyssey! Devil May Cry 4 can wait a while though.

Been thinking about putting in "Mass Effect" back in for a spin. everytime that I play it I find something that I didn't before. Guess I should try to finish up "Wild Arms 4" and "Wild Arms 5" too. I seem to be starting alot of games lately and not finishing them. The only things that I have been playing and completing are FPS's which I used to hate. I don't seem to have as much time to play as I used to, but the FPS's seem to be short and sweet.

Sean

Sometimes I like playing shorter games, too. That is why I have a nice collection of non-RPGs, such as the recently polished off Ratchet and Clank Future. They make for great fun when I don't have the time or patience to sit down and play a much longer RPG.

I wish they would remake "Chrono Trigger" for the DS :(

Peace to ya....

Christian

P.S. I am not the biggest fan of the music in BD so I tend to listen to a CD while playing. Have you ever done this or am I the odd man out?

Sean

Why remake Chrono Trigger? Why not a new game in the series? I would much prefer something new to something old. But then again, a remake would guarantee that we don't see another Mana catastrophe...

I play without music about half the time. I usually put on the TV, or just play silently. Game music, and especially sound effects, tend to drive me up the wall. I tend to put up the volume during boss battles and cutscenes.



IN CLOSING

Well that is it from me. One final note though. While updating my sidebar I found myself wondering how you all play games. Do you play one to completion before starting another? Do you juggle multiple games at a time? I want to know!

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