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Column 53: Who the Hell is Nick Fury?
January 27th, 2008

Sean - 5:32pm EST

It has been a tough two weeks. I've had to deal with daily overtime sapping all my free time. That is why I took advantage of the weekend to sit down and finish Mass Effect. I would like to say the game was amazing, but I can't. It was really good though. Why was it not amazing? For one, it was too short. I completed all but two of the side quests that I found, achieved level fifty (the cap on the first playthrough) and completed the game in under twenty-four hours. Secondly, the side quests are mostly the same with the areas all looking alike. I think there were only three different side quest layouts? Maybe I will write a review for it sometime. I decided to play a renegade Vanguard, by the way.

Those that are in the know will be wondering why I played Mass Effect and not Final Fantasy XI. There is a really easy answer to that. I no longer play it. No matter how much fun it was, I couldn't afford to continue playing it. My brother is an addict, you see, and while playing any MMORPG he loses all interest in everything else. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it is when one needs to find a job. When he is employed again, we'll see. We might take it up again. But who knows? The MMO-less freedom is just intoxicating!

I am not really sure what I want to play now. I'm toying with the idea of trying to finish off a few of the games I have already started in anticipation of Lost Odyssey. Then again, I think I have enough time to pick up something brand new to play in the meantime. In any case, when Mazes of Fate arrives I need to review it, so I might want to stick to shorter games, if I intend to play Lost Odyssey at release.

I've started playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance with my sister. It is rather boring and I am not too impressed. The same goes for Super Mario Galaxy and Bleach: The Shattered Blade. I really need to update the stuff in my sidebar. There: updated! Enjoy!

As it is a once a week affair, I decided to just write the column on the weekend, if I have enough letters. If I don't... well, I can just format it and get it ready for the bags full of letters that I will eventually receive by Tuesday. I think I did well today with eight letters. In any case, writing it early gives me more opportunity to make a longer column and gives me the chance to write when I know I won't be in a rush to do so.


Hey there Sean;

Itís been a bit of time since my last letter. Sorry about that, Iíve certainly not done my part to help the letter population grow, have I?


It's ok. Not everyone has to write in all the time, you know. We just need ten or twelve people to write in every week. More is welcome, but we can't always post everything we get. I am supposed to only post the "quality" letters. Regardless, I emptied the mail box today. ^_^b

Anyways, you were asking people how they played games, and I must say that Iíve recently changed from one school of playing to another.

When I was but a wee gamer I used to sit down and play games one at a time straight through to completion. The only time I would move on to the next game was if I deemed my current choice far too difficult.


It seems to me that all gamers do that as they age. I did it too. Just look at my "Now Playing" section in the sidebar. Three years ago that list would have been three games long and before that it would have included an MMO and another game. I do want to clear it out though. Playing one at a time is much easier for my ability to focus.

Now however, Iím slightly older and my free time is far more constricted. Now, itís not impossible for me to be playing three or four different games at once, if only because that is the only way I will get them all in.

As of right now, I am juggling Silent Hill Origins, Jeanne Díarc and FF Tactics on my new PSP (which is love by the way, and I will happily take recommendations for RPGs on it) while still finding time to play fake instruments with my friends.


PSP recommendations:

  1. Brave Story
  2. Valhalla Knights
  3. Brave Story, again
  4. PoPoLoCrois
  5. Brave Story, yet again
  6. Gurumin
  7. Brave Story, just in case you forgot

Granted, at the current rate of play, itíll take me until í09 to beat any of those first three games, and thatís with the unlikely assumption that I wonít be getting any more in-between. So, there is a drawback to that isnít there.

Anyways, thatís all from me for now. Have yourself a good day.



I wrote down my backlog in the sidebar as I was reading this week's letters. Sixty-nine games. It will take a while to get through those. The chances of me completing all of them before purchasing new games is very, very low. Without school this year, I might be able to complete thirty or forty of them, but I can never be too sure. I'll try though!

QnA and PS3 problems

Hey Sean,

It's been a couple of months now since I've written a letter in so I figured I was long over due.


Yes, yes you are. Shawn might be exempt, but you, sir, are not.

Let me start by with a little story. It's about my recent adventures trying to buy a PS3 (Note the word trying). Due to exceptional sales in combination with some coupons I went Monday night to buy an 80GB PS3 along with a HDTV plus a little Home Audio System on the side. I was really excited about all this especially since I've been saving up for it. At my first stop they only had the 40GB one, but since there was a greater chance that one of the other stores would have the PS3 I wanted I still decided to get a couple games. My next stop was Circuit City, which also didn't have the 80GB. I was a little disappointed that two chains didn't have the 80GB in all the region. After finding out that Gamestop didn't have any either I was beginning to worry. So when I arrived at Best Buy I went straight to a sales clerk and asked them to check for me. They had none! NONE! In all of Metro Detroit there are no 80GB PS3s for sale. Though saddened I decided to still get the HDTV, audio set up and just order the PS3. And as my luck went that night they didn't have any of the TVs or surround sound systems I wanted. So now I own four games to a system I do not own. This is a first for me.


Heh, it would not be a first for me! I think I heard something about the 80GB model being discontinued. That would make me sad, if the last PS2able PS3 model disappears. I hope that those rumours are not true.

So my question to you as an expert in PS3's: is it worth it to get the 40GB over the 80GB? I don't care so much about the extras, but was wondering if the hardware differences is enough cause to wait it out. Btw, I do own a PS2 so backwards compatibility doesn't really matter.


I am not sure what the differences are between the models. I have the 60GB and I use the wireless networking all the time, as well as the HDMI port. The card readers on the front are very handy, especially since we've been putting on a lot of slideshows recently. I have never used it as a PS2 or a PS1, so that feature isn't really that important for me. You need to pull out a list of the differences and judge which is best for you.

Also, I was wondering if it's such a huge jump from HD from Standard. If I wait to get the HDTV and get the PS3 first will I regret it later?

Sorry if they seem like stupid questions, but I don't know who else has first hand experience with this.

The Dark Chevalier


The differences between SD and HDTV are quite large. Sure the PS3 and 360 look nice on older sets and are perfectly playable. I was happy using my PS3 downstairs until I saw it in action on my parent's 1080i TV. The difference was huge and I found myself unable to accept the difference. Now my PS3 is hooked up to that set and I settle for playing it every once in a while. It just feels better that way.

I did try to buy a VGA/DVI cable for the PS3, but it didn't work. My monitor couldn't accept the signal. I am using a 360 VGA cable and I am really impressed with it, so the 360 stays downstairs.

The moral of the story: SD is fine until you try HD. When you see it in action, you better be ready to stick with HD. It really makes a big difference. If you've played it at a friend's place already, you may already be doomed. Of course, once you actually play in HD, you might regret not having had it in the first place. I've heard tales of similar experiences from others in any case.


Hi, Sean,

In answer to your question about how I play, I preorder all the games I know I want & play them one at a time. I like to get fully immersed in the game. I read novels the same way. I've tried playing/reading multiple titles at once, but I find that I start to mix the stories together. It's even worse with games because I end up hitting the wrong buttons for the wrong things. So I just find it easier to do one at a time.


That is a real problem for me, too. I forget how to play, as well as the story. "What do I need to do now?" is a pretty common question at that time. Take Sly 2: I've picked it up two times since I started it and it always takes me a long time to figure out what I need to do, as well as how to go about doing it. Games that swap the accept and cancel buttons are hard to play in tandem!

I just finished Brave Story: New Traveler. I bought it after you spoke so highly of it, & you sure were right - it was a great game. Which leads me to my question/beef. I know that Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions had a new translation, but it was basically the same game I played a decade ago. Was it really fair for it to be up for awardship again? I really feel Brave Story got the short end of the stick & was the best new PSP game of 2007. FFT should have just gotten a special award for best remake (thanks to the new translation).


Yes, it was ok for it to go up for an award. I agree that it should have been up for best port or something like that. Brave Story and Jeanne d'Arc were robbed. Don't get me started on Castlevania...

Anyway, don't mind me if I'm cranky - I'm quitting smoking cold turkey (it's been 3 days now) after smoking for longer than 99% of your readership have been alive (38 years). Have a super week.



Congratulations! I've been trying to figure out how to get my mom to quit and nothing works. Oh well. Did you set any rewards for hitting milestones?


Hallo Sean,

It's been a while since I last wrote in. As for the question you posted, I used to be the kind of gamer that plays one game at a time until I have either played through its entirety or simply given up in frustration and/or boredom. Going into the PSOne era (post FFVII) however, with the advent of actually having a salary and being able to purchase my own games, I started purchasing titles compulsively. Since then I have had a hard time sticking to one single game unless it's an absolute masterpiece in my eyes. The latest examples of this would be Final Fantasy XII, Burnout 3, SMT: Nocturne, Dragon Quest VIII and Kingdom Hearts. Currently, I have a backlog of some 50 to 60 games, 60% of which happen to be RPG's. By my calculations, I'll likely finish this off in about 4 years given the many time constraints I am encumbered with. I try to divide my time between 3 or 4 games at a time while balancing genres so I don't get sick of any one genre. For example, I'm currently playing through Odin Sphere, Rise of the Kasai, Pikmin 2 and Stranger's Wrath. I have promised myself that if and when I do buy a current generation system I'll go back to my buy game/beat game/buy game model, mainly so that I can properly focus and enjoy each game I purchase but also for financial reasons.


It is very hard to change your buying ways. I have tried and failed. I had the same mentality a while back... Anyways, good luck with that.

As for a question, just how time demanding the position of Reviewer is at RPGamer? I got to wondering about this as I read the recent hiring call posted on the site. I realize I could ask this at the address given there but I figured I may as well ask you and therefore make this letter a little more meaty, so to speak.

That's all I've got.



Well, I am sort of the "unofficial official" reviewer here at RPGamer. I think Macstorm called me that. A reviewer must first complete the game, but is not required to complete all the optional stuff. So there is the completion time of the game to take into account. Secondly, it takes a good hour or two to pen a review, and another couple to self proof it. There is another four or more hours that must be spent getting it proofed by others and performing corrections.

A reviewer will typically tackle a game or two a month. They are required to post at least one a month. Some staffers just write a review whenever they finish a game. I like to write reviews for games that are missing reviews. I would say it takes me about eight hours to complete a review.

Along with the reviewing duties, all staff members need to stay in the staff channel on IRC. There we help proof the work of others, so expect to need to spend at least a few hours a month there as well. I think I sit in there (and paying attention) at least ten hours a week.

The live experience

Gorne & Lusipurr -

So only two columns a week now huh? Let's see if I can make both with just one letter. I'm curious, being a new XBox 360 owner myself, how you have each found the Live experience so far? (Lusipurr, I'm fairly sure I heard you say on the podcast that you got the 360 for Eternal Sonata, if you've been involved with Live longer, I apologize for my ignorance.) Even after all these years of my good friend telling me I had to get on, ever since the original XBox he's been on my case, I was still surprised at how smooth the whole thing works.


I don't play on Live. I have little interest in deathmatch multiplayer games and I like to play COOP stuff in person. I just go on Live to pick up updates to games I own, as well as that free game that they decided to give me (Undertow, or something like that).

Also which one of the gamer zones did you end up choosing? I went Recreational, although I gave both Pro and Underground consideration. I figure I can always switch up later if need be. And finally, were you able to use your gamertag of choice, be it Gorne & Lusipurr, or something else? I couldn't believe someone had taken Kezzy. I've been using that ever since it went from the standard arcade three initials (I was MEL of course, and my younger brother, POO) to having enough letters to really spell out a name. I still can't figure out what else that would be short for besides Melchezedek. Anyways, I had to go with HyphyKezzy instead.


Gorne was taken, so I took my old nick name I used in MMOs prior to Gorne. I am Raiksha on Live and Gorne on PSN. Look me up, if you want. I took Recreational. I wish I could have taken Gorne for both.

And because I've barely mentioned RPG's, I'll just say here that Mass Effect is crack. I've been playing it so much that I may finish with enough time to make a run through Eternal Sonata as well before GTA 4 comes out.



Yes, Mass Effect is crack. I just wish they had extended the meat of the game and left out the useless side quests. If I had my way, GTA 4 would never come out. Yes, I am that evil.

game completion

I don't know who will be answering this letter, but I am responding to Sean and his closing question about either finishing a current game or playing multiple titles at the same time. I've been playing RPGs since I first saw my friend playing FFIII (really FFVI) on the Super NES. Back then, I would play a new game from start to finish as fast as I could to see the ending and then play it through a second time right after to look for the extras. Flash forward to present times and you'd find me doing almost the complete opposite with my games. These days I tend to only complete the JRPGs on a regular basis and the Western RPGs tend to start out fun and interesting but then get repetitive and, at least to me, boring. At which point I'll pop in a new game and play that for a while before possibly going back to finish the game I quit to try the new one. I know that this isn't true for all western RPGs but I think my current problem is that I miss turn based game play. As an example, I finished Blue Dragon even though I thought the story was lackluster at times. I've noticed a few other people who have written into your site have had similar stories in which their gaming style has changed over the years. So after responding, in what I hope is a coherent way, my question for the Q&A host that does answer this would be:


I'll get to your question in a bit. As a kid, I used to beat an RPG once and then replay it over and over again until I got a new one. I think I played through FFIV to level 99 at least five times.

Do you think that gamers are the ones that are changing, other then the whole growing up thing, or is it the quality of the game that is changing? And on that note I wish you a happy RPG filled weekend, on which I will be playing one of the few Non RPGs that look interesting to me "No More Heros".


I don't think it is the gamer that is changing but rather the market. Back in the day I played FFIV to the end on my first try since the only RPG I had was FFIV. Nowadays it is common to get multiple games each month, or even per week. Since there are more games available now, it is easy to see why we are jumping at chances to try more. It is not just the quality either--just the quantity.

I need to know how No More Heroes turns out. Please fill me in!

QnA letter

Dear Sean (or whoever's answering letters at this moment)


It is I, Sean. Not the evil Shawn.

A long time ago in, stuff it. You're out of letters and I have words that form coherant sentances not unlike letters, so I think we can help each other out here, yes?


Certainly. I won't pay you anything though!

I have a massively big backlog of PS2, PS1, GBA and GB games. However, I put most of those aside when I got a shiny DS for Chrismas. Man, is it shiny!


They sure are. I've been ignoring my PS2 lately in favor of my current gen stuff. If you look at my backlog, you can easily see which systems need my attention.

Anyways, I have found that when playing them crazy DS games, I become somewhat single-minded: I can't think of another game to play! However, I flip-flop like a frog on coffee when playing any other console in my collection-World of Warcraft being the exception here, of course.

Why? Well, I don't know really. I guess I just get obsessed with that touch screen interface dealy...or because the one game I finished was kinda short and my current obsession (Phoenix Wright) is just high-larious and reminds me of text adventures so much...yes, I remember such things.


I remember them too. That was a simpler time. I flip-flop too when trying to find new games to play, but it is usually resolved by me just grabbing the one on the top and giving it a whirl.

Now, a question for you: Have you ever played such a game that you knew you could beat, yet was incredibly hard and no matter what you did, you were just too darn proud to look up a faq?

Yus, that's about it for me. Farewell!

Peter 'Damn, this thing is shinier than I expected-get my sunnies!' Brennan


I don't have a high frustration threshold. It is common for me to look things up in FAQs when I am stuck, or when I am trying to figure out if there is anything secret that I should be looking for. I figure that I have better uses for my time than spending ten hours to find a hidden item. I still remember trying to find a shard in DQVII. I spent eight hours searching for it until I gave up and looked it up in a FAQ. Since then I haven't let my pride get in the way of having fun. Anything that is boring and feels like work might as well be work. I prefer to have fun with my games.

I do use some FAQs as progress markers though. What I mean is I save a FAQ and then delete portions as I progress. It helps me keep in mind how much I have left (the little scroll bar changes size to give me an indication). This is a great way to motivate myself to finish less than stellar games. Games such as Magna Carta. Ugh.

Q&A Letter

Hey Sean,

I used to play one game all the way through and then move onto the next game. Yet, I don't do that anymore. I'm currently playing Tales of the Abyss, Persona 3 (second time around), Castlevania Dracula X, Tales of Phantasia (translated Playstation version), and Metal Gear Solid 2 (I lost count on how times I've played this game). I usually don't juggle so many games at one time at the most 2 or 3. Do you think this is a bad thing to do?


It is only bad if you lose focus and get lost in the games. If you can keep up, go for it! For me, playing multiple games adds unwanted overhead in relearning their systems and getting lost. Knowing this doesn't help though.

I'm really looking forward to 2008. Considering between me and my room mates, we have everything except for a Wii, which we might just buy together. So my ability to play any game I want is out there. Yet, nothing has appealed to me all that much. Though there games coming out soon, that I know I'll definitely be playing. Metal Gear Solid 4, Devil May Cry 4, and Lost Odyssey are just a few that come to mind. I still want to try out Folklore out as well.


Get Folklore. Now. I am also looking forward to Devil May Cry 4, but I won't be waiting in line for it. I still feel the need to play the ones I have first though. It just looks too damn good!

I'm not sure if you know this, but considering your title for last weeks column, "Holy Carpet, Batman!", Heath Ledger died. He was playing the new Joker in the Dark Knight. He was a pretty decent and young actor. He will surely be missed. This might be a mean thing to say but I'm at least glad he finished the Dark Knight before he went off on the deep end. At least his last performance we will see will be a great one and probably one of his most challenging.

RIP Heath Ledger,



I didn't hear the news when I chose that title. It wouldn't have made a difference anyways, as I didn't know he was in that movie. I was trying to be witty like the other hosts. As you may notice, I've been much more comfortable just posting the subject lines to the emails I have received. It is your turn to be witty now!


Eight letters, not too bad. Is there anything else that I should add to the sidebar while I am at it? Like reviewers, Q&A columns are supposed to be heavily proofed, so I will start on that now. See you all next week!

As always, send letters. Thanks.

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Now Playing:

  1. Sly Cooper 2: Band of Thieves
  2. Guild Wars (two left, Eye of the North and Factions complete)
  3. The Legend of the Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  4. Bleach (Wii)
  5. Bleach (DS)
  6. Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East
  7. Monster Hunter Freedom 2
  8. Blue Dragon
  9. Metroid Prime 3
  10. Final Fantasy VI Advance
  11. Rogue Galaxy
  12. Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
  13. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
  14. Super Mario Galaxy
  15. Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Hot Topics:

  • How do you play your games? Do you stick with one from start to finish, or do you bounce from title to title?

Most Wanted

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  • White Knight Story
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  • Lost Odyssey
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  • Mazes of Fate

My Reviews

  1. Dragoneer's Aria
  2. Etrian Odyssey
  3. Lord of the Rings Online
  4. Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
  5. Folklore
  6. Dungeon and Dragons Tactics
  7. The Witcher
  8. Warriors of the Lost Empire
  9. Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch

My Backlog:

  1. Blue Dragon
  2. Eternal Sonata

  3. Enchanted Arms
  4. Marvel Ultimate Alliance
  5. Motorstorm
  6. Ridge Racer 7
  7. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
  8. Virtua Fighter 5

  9. Bleach: Shattered Blade
  10. Excite Truck
  11. Link's Crossbow Training
  12. Metroid Prime 3
  13. Super Mario Galaxy
  14. Zack and Wiki

  15. Dawn of Mana
  16. Devil May Cry 2
  17. Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition
  18. Jak 2
  19. Jak 3
  20. Odin Sphere
  21. Onimusha 3
  22. Onimusha: Dawn of Warriors
  23. Persona 3
  24. Ratchet and Clank 2
  25. Ratchet and Clank 3
  26. Rogue Galaxy
  27. Romancing Saga
  28. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner
  29. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
  30. Sly 2
  31. Sly 3
  32. Suikoden V
  33. Tales of Legendia
  34. Tales of the Abyss
  35. Wild Arms 4
  36. Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner

  37. Baten Kaitos
  38. Mega Man Battle Transmission
  39. Resident Evil 4

  40. Age of Empires III
  41. Age of Empures III: The Warchiefs
  42. Guild Wars: Nightfall
  43. Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East
  44. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer
  45. Planescape: Torment
  46. Tomb Raider Anniversary

    Nintendo DS:
  47. Bleach
  48. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
  49. Mega Man ZX
  50. Mega Man ZX Advent
  51. Tetris DS
  52. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

  53. Astonishia Story
  54. Blade Dancer
  55. Bleach: Heat the Soul 4
  56. Daxter
  57. Dungeon Maker
  58. FFT: The War of the Lions
  59. Gurumin
  60. Jeanne d'Arc
  61. Legend of Heroes 3
  62. Monster Hunter Freedom 2
  63. Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner
  64. PoPoLoCrois
  65. Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
  66. Untold Legends 2: Warrior's Code

    Game Boy Advance:
  67. Final Fantasy VI Advance
  68. Summon Night 2

  69. Persona 2

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