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ASK STRAWBERRY EGGS & MATT
No More Secret Hidden Phrases! 14.15 2 1'12.3 6 22 18.14 12
May 3, 2008

Matt Demers - 14:41 GMT

IT'S BEEN AWHILE, hasn't it? I promised you all a column, and here it is; I just happen to have a certain Sock 2 winner tagging along with me too. Welcome, Strawberry Eggs!

Life over the past few months has been interesting. I've been working through a very busy first year of my Ph.D program, which has led me on adventures far and wide. Most recently, I gave a talk at the Rochester Institute of Technology, making me feel about 6% more important. I also took a grueling course this winter, I have a horrible "comprehensive" exam to write in less than two weeks on EVERYTHING (literally), and I'm about to move in oh, about a day or two. Despite all of this, I've managed to keep the RPGaming alive somehow.

I beat Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn over the past month or so. I seriously don't understand the websites out there that utterly destroyed this game in their reviews. Not only did I enjoy the game thoroughly, I think that it's the finest game to appear on the Wii so far, and without question the best RPG. Unfortunately, though, what I enjoy does not declare any universal law, despite my wishes. I've also been dabbling with The World Ends With You, Square Enix's bizarre DS RPG, and playing around with Mario Kart Wii. It's a great time to be a Nintendo fan, and even though I know that there have been a lot of RPGs available for other systems -- notably the PSP and 360 -- I'm really quite content with my current state of affairs, gamingwise.

Finally, one last thing that I just HAVE to scream happily about: It appears, if Kotaku is a trustworthy source, that english subtitles for the DS remakes of Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI have all been submitted to the U.S. trademark office or something like that. Not only that, but the ESRB has given DQIV an official rating! This, clearly, has been my best news over the past few months, and while no official announcements have been made... well, this seems like a positive sign at the very least.

Anyway, before I kill you all with my voluminous glob of a boring introduction, I'm going to turn you over to a certain Strawberry Eggs. Curious: Sharing the initials with a certain biggest-RPG-producing-company, you'd think she might be privy to some behind-the-scenes details, wouldn't you? So when is that Chrono Cross sequel coming, anyway, Ms. Strawberry Eggs??





The Letters
Strawberry's First...


Hey Lusipurr, I've been reading this column on and off since the great oracle left, so I guess what I mean to say is...I'm getting old...

Strawberry Eggs

Eh, join the club. Truth be told I don't look 21, but that's besides the point...

Anyway. Breath of Fire. The worst game is undoubtedly the last entry into the series. I can see how people would find the series to be sub-par, but with Breath of Fire, you have to play through the entire game, most of the time the story doesn't begin to sear until you get 3/4 of the way through, but when it gets good, it's great! And that being said, Dragon Quarter has a very lackluster story, gameplay that is highly un-inspired for that era, and a setting that doesn't really "shine." As for the other games in the series, they are all pretty good, but in my opinion, 1 and 3 are the best with 4 close behind. 2 just felt like, well, a capcom sequel...if that makes sense, you know...like DMC2??

Strawberry Eggs

Oh man...I'm so sorry to say, but I haven't played any Breathe of Fire games. I've been meaning to check out the GBA ports or the Virtual Console, but I haven't gotten around to it. I'll just have to take your word for it.

Matt

Bah! Say what you will about Dragon Quarter, but I thought the gameplay carried far more depth than other entries in the series. Further, the music is some of the best of any RPG ever released. No, I'm serious. I still believe that Dragon Quarter is one of the most divisive games out there, though, because it has a lot of big fans and a lot of big... "antifans." And you're entitled to your opinion, of course. ;)

So yeah, there's ma two cents on the issue. Now for the Q. (And might I add that I'm half-tempted to really muck the grammar here Bwa ha ha!)

What do you think of Persona 3? It looks really enticing, but i'll say this, I never liked the first one. I picked it up back in the day because it had the lovely little word "Atlus" in the bottom right corner, and on the back it looked like wicked-cool rpg action! But the fact of the matter is that I just did not enjoy it. So I never played the second, and the only game that looked moderately decent in the series was Nocturne, and I never picked that up, I just watched my cousin play a few interesting sections of it. He said Digital Devil Saga was terrible, and I tend to believe most of what he says...but then again, he does own the movie Wild Things. So, at 30 beels, do you think FES is worth it? Played it? Got anything to say about it?

Strawberry Eggs

Nothing whatsoever. I've never played any of the Shin Megami Tensei games, let alone Persona 3. They rave about it on RPGcast, and more than a few of my friends love it. Perhaps someone else can tell you more about it. Eh heh heh, sorry about that.

Matt

That's okay, S.E.... you can't have played them all!

It's hard to say, though. If you didn't enjoy the original, I don't think I'd recommend a slightly-altered and souped up version of it. I feel like FES was made for the fans who couldn't get enough of the original- or, of course, the gamers who haven't even tried it. There's nothing worse than paying for a game once and not really enjoying it... except possibly for paying TWICE for a game and not really enjoying it. I vote for save your money, or rent it first if you're still curious.

Word up and thanks,

Ian "Surfin the waves of social paranoia." B

P.S. Star Ocean is my ideal rpg pair o' dice. (Bwa ha ha!)

Strawberry Eggs

No, thanks for you letter, Ian! I really must apologize. I was no help at all.

Matt

Ehh, no worries. The thing with hosting Q&A is that if you don't actually know something, it takes some great fancy footwork to come up with ways to make it seem like you do. Really and truthfully, I know basically nothing as well, so don't feel too bad. <3



It's like if someone pours ice cubes down your underwear...


Hello-

GooseAss here, Official #1 Lusipurr fan.

Matt

...and #38 Wonderslime fan (at least)? I need a bone somewhere here!

In regards to your question about the ideal setting for RPGs, my answer is this: almost anything that's not a version of medieval Europe. Look, I like some swords and sorcery as much as the next guy, but enough is enough! I'd guess that maybe 85% of RPGs are set in a pseudo-LOTR/Dragonlance/Forgotten Realms world that is all too familiar.

Matt

A very precise estimate, sir. While a few traditionally-set games are okay, I agree with you: You can only play so many before it starts to feel like you've been there, done that, and don't want to go back. A strange observation I made while thinking about this question is that I would almost argue most RPGs that aren't medieval-Europe styled are "future-outer-space-crazy-technology" styled. This is exactly why games like EarthBound are wonderful. This is exactly why I went and invested in The World Ends With You upon its release by Square Enix. Originality is hard to come by these days, so we should lap it up wherever we can, I feel.

I have a soft spot for modern/near future settings, as found in Earthbound, Front Mission, Persona 3, and some parts of Live A Live. It's a change of pace and allows for lots of pop culture references and/or parodies (I know many people hate those, but I enjoy them). Other sure winners are the Wild West (Wild Arms) or post-apocalyptic wasteland (FF7, parts of Chrono Trigger).

Matt

Thaaaat's what I get for not reading ahead. Yes, I was going to mention the near-future setting as an alternative, because I also enjoy such games. Hey, did anyone ever play the DS Front Mission that came out? I keep looking at it in the EB Games and putting it down hesitantly, like an indecisive gluttonous person thinking about getting a second dessert at a buffet.

As someone in the previous Q&A column suggested, there are a wealth of other settings that remain nearly untouched: Africa, Mesoamerica, Australia, the arctic, tropics, islands, WW1/WW2, Wall Street, ad infinitum. One cool setting would be something along the lines of D&D's Spelljammer world full of space vampires and mind flayers and space galleons. I guess Rogue Galaxy had a little of that, and it was sweet.

Matt

I think that you have some good points, but I have to admit that a lot of RPGs seem to like cramming a little taste of "all of the above" into a single game, rather than creating a full fleshed-out setting in one of those categories. There are so many RPGs that feature an icy location just for the hell of it, and follow it up by a random jungle, a labyrinthine trip through a pyramid, into an island volcano, and so on. Look at Final Fantasy XII, for example. I agree, it would be neat to take a single one of those themes/atmospheres/environments/what-have-you and create a whole game. An entire game in the arctic? Battle parka for armour, dogsleds as vehicles, and I'm sold.

Anyway, I hope you can get the video segment on the site at some point. I can't wait to see it! Do you have thick calves? I always picture you with big calves.

GooseAss

Matt

You'll just have to wait and see, won't you? And my calves? I can't speak for ol' Lusi, but mine are about a 4.7 on the calfthikmomometer. (2 is "chicken-level"; 9 is "Shrek" ...)

Thanks, G, for your letter.



Maple syrup doesn't actually come from the sap, did you know?


Dear Lusipurr,

Strawberry Eggs

Nope, no Lusipurr today, I'm afraid.

I'm am full of sadness for how bad my English has decayed. The effects of entropy have taken there toll on my once brilliant mind.

Strawberry Eggs

There, there. No one is perfect. Lord knows I'm, not. Though I must point out that there are three grammar errors alone in these two sentances. Though perhaps those were intentional considering the context, so I won't say any more.

To answer your question from last week, the story sequence from an rpg that affected me the most was actually the space rescue scene from FFVIII. I know it was a little silly, but I cant help it. I always liked the love story in that game because it seems very natural and only a little forced. The love stories in many rpgs seem to be more of an after-thought, with the same basic hero and damsel in distress fall for each other for no apparent reason formula. It's all about character interaction. There is of course the multiple-ending games out there that let you choose how any romances pan out, the Star Ocean series being my favorite. That should really be the norm for next-gen games. What do you think makes a good romance in a rpg, and don't you hate when a 40+ hour game is just lazy in that department? Oh, and sorry for being so scatter-brained.

Trevor

Strawberry Eggs

I must admit, I am a sap when it comes to romance in RPGs, even the obvious cute ones between the main male character and main female character, such as Lloyd and Colette from Tales of Symphonia and Xelha and Kalas from Baten Kaitos. I also understand how romance in an RPG is often treated as an after-thought. We play RPGs as much for the story and characters as we do for the battles and such, right? I haven't played the Star Ocean series, but I do like the sound of that, choosing how a romance pans out throughout the game. As for what I think makes a good romance, I just would like it to be more evenly paced throughout the game and more throughly explained than just becuase the two characters happen to be the main ones. The two couples I listed above are handled fairly well in their respective games, in my opinion, though they could be a bit better.

Anyway, thanks for writing in, Trevor!



Feasting on Elbow Sauce


Hello,

Do you happen to know if, in Persona 3, you fuse Orpheus, is there any way to get him back? I feel bad for throwing the poor guy immediately into the "Oh, neat, I want to try out this mechanic! Oh, crap, where's the undo?" meat grinder.

Matt

Not at all, I'm afraid. There's always the "save on a different file" trick, of course. Or the evil, beckoning, uh, temptatious FAQs. All of that aside, I actually like making mistakes and not playing a game perfectly the first time through. Call me sadistic, but then it gives me something to AIM for in a second-playthrough: I'll know what to do and what not to do, and I'll be able to play a more "perfect" game. Of course, that only happens if the game is worthy of a second playthrough to begin with.

Also, just what does FES stand for, anyway?

Thank you!

-Arsenal Tengu

Matt

According to the game's director, Katsura Hashino, the subtitle of "FES" is said to come from the word "festival".

That was definitely me ripping a quote off of Wikipedia's page on Persona 3. Isn't this age of information just swell? Nonetheless, I don't really know why a "festival" would have much to do with anything, unless you're just feeling the urge to celebrate the game's surprisingly prompt english localization. I always thought that the instant remake + add-on phenomenon was a phenomenon strictly restricted to Japan. Well, except when it comes to Pokémon games, I suppose.

Ah well. Sorry I couldn't answer your questions as well as you probably hoped. What can I say? I'm no Lusi (but I'm just as juicy). What am I saying?



Introducing Mystery Guest Host!


Greetings Lusipurr and possibly mysterious guest-host!

Strawberry Eggs

That would be me, ah ha ha.

In answer to your question regarding emotional moments in games, I would have to rate several scenes Xenogears up amongst the highest. The games portrayal of raw power often times left me stunned and in awe, Whilst it also managed to show a gentle side, with many memorable and touching scenes, i was probably never so involved in the story of a game as this one. Alot of this was probably due in part to Yasunori Mitsuda's beautiful soundtrack providing the perfect accent to these scenes. What are your thoughts on excellent, yet often overlooked game? I know many who've loved it, and many who've hated it, i've never been able to grasp why (yes i know disk2 lack of playability was a shame, but i don't feel it destroyed the game. I'd be curious to know how long that game would have been had they not faced a budget crisis while attempting to finish it, and would it have been too long? i know that i was so drawn in by its tale that i didn't mind the lack of gameplay).

Strawberry Eggs

I've never played Xenogears, but I've heard many good things about it. Still, I know exactly how you feel about excellent, overlooked games. I know I'm referring back to Baten Kaitos again, but that's a prime example right there! Yes the voice-acting could be better and it sounds like the characters are talking into tin cans. Yes the story's pacing seems a slow and cliched at first. To me though they weren't enough to consider it a bad game. The battle system is unique and loads of fun, the story and characters excellent, if you're patient, the music absolutely gorgeous, and the world itself to be charming. I think, though, that the game more suffers from being underplayed than disliked. Most people I met haven't played it (though being an obscure-ish Game Cube RPG doesn't help).

So yes, I feel it is a travesty for a great game to be overlooked or underplayed. Which is why I always try to get my friends and family to try them. Ah ha ha.

I agree that the use and timing of good music plays a key role in landing an emotional impact on any form of visual media. My favorite example being the anime "Escaflowne" in one particular scene that combined Yoko Kanno's brilliance with perfect timing. All that was really happening was that two people were kissing, but it was executed in such a way that had your heart racing and your brain going "this is awesome!" while stifling "dude, what is this, a freaking soap opera?". I would relate this to the .hack series, where even with the music being quite good, the timing was often so terrible that it left no emotional impact on me whatsoever. Ok, so i'm not discussing video games here, but anybody who's seem those two shows can probably relate. Have you seen the aforementioned shows, and would you agree?

Strawberry Eggs

I've only seen Escaflowne, but I know what full well what you mean. That scene (I'm assuming the one between Hitomi and Allen?) would not have been as powerful if not for the timing of the music. I can't think of any games off the top of my head where the timing of the music especially stands out, but it is very important for making a scene more powerful and leaving an emotional impact.

Matt

Pff, see?? Now you're on your game, Strawberry Eggs. I wouldn't have a clue what Escaflowne is... it sounds more to me like one of those weapons that a random near-the-end-of-the-game boss character would carry in a Fire Emblem game. Love those names! Anyway, back to letter.

Anime aside, and back to gaming. "World Destruction" has peaked my interest, as big a fan of Xenogears that i am, i am totally excited to see this in the works. I cannot wait to see what becomes of it. Despite the fact that i've been disappointed in almost 90% of the games i've purchased (thank you Crisis Core for surpassing my expectations!). are you also excited to see this team in the works again?

Strawberry Eggs

Can't say that I am, but that's only because I haven't played Xenogears. Still, I too am rather interested in World Destruction, for the music alone (say what you will about Luminous Arc, it still had great music and Yasunori Mitsuda composed for that game, too). Besides, any RPG on the DS grabs my attention. We shall see if it lives up to expectations, hmm?

Thank you for taking to the time to read my "bored at work" musings!

-Mark

Strawberry Eggs

No problem, Mark. Thanks for the letter! ^^



QUICKIES

Is it lymphangioleiomyomatosis?

Fermat

Matt

I don't know, but if it swells up any more, I suggest you call a lymphangioleiomyomatologist pronto.



IN CLOSING

Thanks, Strawberry Eggs, for helping me out here!

Sooner or later, I'll be back for another episode of Q&A, this time involving Goddess Atma at my side. Then I might do another one by my self... we shall have to see. The main variable in play here is the fact that because I'm moving, my internet will be disconnected for a fair amount of time (one or two weeks, from the looks of it). If I do not die of anguish, you'll see me again soon. Send me a question or two! I miss this job.

Take care, everybody!



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