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Ask Alex
 
Desaturate!
 
Letters? Off course!
 
Lunar, how evil!

In Myght's Tower there is one of those mazes that is all the same room and you have to go through the doors in a specific pattern. There is a sign on the wall that says go away but if you realy want in the password is .... Blank.

After wandering through the doors at random for three hours I quit and the next day I went and looked at the Prima Guide. It says " Oh, just look at the sign on the wall it has the answer.." (Real helpful there). The sign still is Blank. So, thinking I screwed up somewhere I restarted from a previous save. When I finnaly got back to Myght's Tower the password was...... BLANK! I'm starting to get miffed. I had intended to beat Lunar Befor Star Ocean 2 came out. Does anyone Know how to get past this damn room?!?!?!?!?

P.S. Its enough to give you nightmarish flashbacks to the beginning of Metal Gear one, and certain parts of zelda.

Alex:
Here's where you readers come in. Think any of you could help this guy out?

 
I'm a cyber-punk

In regards to the current poll, whats the difference between a cyber-punk setting and a sci-fi setting?

Is all that stuff tetsuya said true? I mean, I was already planning on buying Star Ocean: 2nd story, but I don't remember hearing HALF the things he said. Well, we'll hear a few corrections today, won't we :)

-Zack S.

Alex:
Basically, a sci-fi setting is usually somewhat in the future. It may include some sort of aliens, space travel, most of the stuff found in sci-fi novels and movies. A cyberpunk setting has a lot to do with high technology and computers, dark themes, and doesn't necessarily include what can be found in sci-fi settings. So there you go. This is what I understood those to be. ;)

Of course those things were true. A reader would never send anything in that wasn't true, would they? ;)

 
I've been waiting for hours!

Q&A Guy of the Day (Hey, that rhymes):

Hey, Alex!

Alright, this isn't really a question, but I always hear people copmlaining that GF/Summons take too long and they wish there was a way to skip them. well, I think that would be a big mistake, and here's why:

1.) They look cool (and feel cool, with the dual shock)!

2.) They take a while, so it takes more strategy at some parts. When you're at a timed area (like the escape from Dollet) you have to make a decision: should you use a GF and waste some time, or use weaker, but faster, magic.

3.) everything has to have a down side. If GF's caused a lot of damage, but didn't take any time at all, what would be the point of magic? People would always use GF's because they take less time, you don't run out of them, and they do a lot more damage.

4.) In FF8, you can use the AID ability to increase the damage a GF inflicts. you'll be hitting square so fast to try to cause more damage that you won't even notice how long it takes. I think that was a very innovative idea that Squaresoft had, and it solves the problem of the GF's that take too long.

So, I think people should stop complaining. If they made everything skippable, then what's the point of having it. You're supposed to play the game, not just skip the parts you don't like. (you can't skip a boss battle because it takes too long and you want to get on with the game.)

-Chocobo Master

Alex:
Yes, there has been a lot of complaining about the length of summons. Personally, if it weren't for the "Aid" ability, I'd be just as upset as those who complain. For those of you who don't know what this ability is, it lets you basically "pump up" your Guardian Forces to higher levels of strength. While your G.F. is summoning, you can hold select and hit square repeatedly, making the summon more powerful. Often times, if you can get the number high enough, your Guardian Force can inflict a lot more damage than it usually would.

But when it comes to other factors, the long summoning time can be an annoyance. Sure, the Guardian Forces look cool the first few times you see them, but after awhile they just become a bore (this is where I thought Square should have introduced multiple attacks, or animations at least, for each G.F.). But still, at times you'll be wanting longer G.F.s because of the mighty "Aid" ability.

 
Everyone just loves that swirly-thing logo

Dear Alex (how original)

I wasn't sure about the future of the Dreamcast until 2 days ago when I was at my local (if you wanna call an hour and a half drive local) and it turns out, every electronics store had these rather noticeable DC displays up. There wasn't an actual DC to try out (woulda been a Japanese one anyway) but it was rather impressive to see these big electronic store chains supporting the DC (i.e.- babbages, KB, EB). One store already had 170 pre-orders, not too shabby. I guess maybe Sega will be able to pay off their big ol debt if they keep playing their cards right.

-Temjirim

Alex:
The stores are really gearing up for the launch of the Dreamcast. A lot of people are doubting that it will make any impact here in North America. I believe it will be a worthwhile system, regardless of Sega's past blunders. I'm pretty sure the software will be great, but will the system last? We're going to have to wait and see on that one. I sure hope it does.

More Xenogears mysteries

Dear Smart-Alex: (Still searching for a unique nickname for ya):

Well, I finally bit the bullet last week and finished off the final battle in XENOGEARS. Ugh. Disc 2 killed all my affection for the game. I'm glad to have played it once, but I'll never play it a second time. Also, I've not seen anyone mention this: there is a dangling plot thread that was never resolved, although a minor one.

In the Sky City Shevat, outside the greenhouse, a gardener lady promises you some mega-strawberries or something like that. She even says, "So look forward to them." Well, I went back there like 10 times and she never handed over those strawberries, and then you got to the part of the game where you can't go back to Shevat anyway. Does anyone know if there is a secret way to get those friggin' strawberries? Not that I'll be playing XENOGEARS again, but it'd be nice to know if I missed something. After 100+ hours, I dang well shouldn't have.

Ironically, the past couple weeks brings welcome relief! After messing around with Legend of Legaia, and going back to Final Fantasy Tactics, I finally picked up LUNAR last week, and this week brings the promise of STAR OCEAN 2. Unlike XENOGEARS, Lunar and SO2 are two games I can imagine keeping...and still playing from time to time...long after my PSX has given way to a PS2 and a Dreamcast. Life is good. June 99 is a good month to be an RPG fan.

Alex, of all the PSX RPGs you've played...which ones can you see yourself actually keeping and replaying on the PS2, let's say...3 or 4 years from now?

CraigInMN...2!

Alex:
I don't even remember these "mega-strawberries." Can any readers help this guy out.

Yes, the summer (isn't it summer yet ;) is seeing a lot of RPG releases. Too bad I haven't caught up yet...

I'll probably be playing Final Fantasy Tactics. Because of the whole class system, that game has total replayability to the max!@ or something.. Anyway, yeah, FFT. ;)

 
Baffled

*blinks*

It's noon... in California... and the Q&A column column has been updated...

*looks around warily as "Twilight Zone" theme starts playing*

Alex:
It's amazing, no? The wonders of early updating...

 
It's gameplay!

Hey AK-47,

I think the certain something that is missing from the newer 32-bit games is GAMEPLAY! Think about it. With the evolution of high-end graphics, the gameplay quality has gotten steadily worse. We didn't really notice before because we were all too busy going "oooohh, pretty colors..." But now it has gotten so bad that older games are seen for what they are: Fun games with very little eye candy. Look at the facts: Remakes of FFIV-VI, Lunar 1&2, Tales of Phantasia, etc. Old school games like Tales of Destiny and Legend of Legaia, to an extent. The companies are getting wise to the world. I'm not worried about the direction games are headed, because the industry is just trying to balance itself. Every industry overuses the new things at the expense of the tried and true methods until the product suffers, then they find a balance. We'll start getting quality games with great gameplay AND great graphics in the near future. Zoltar has spoken.

Alex:
I think it's because of the fact that these "new" systems introduced many new possibilities to the way a game could be presented. The developers wanted to make games more "cinematic" by adding more text, FMV cutscenes, and the like that they forgot what made the more classic games so fun. I'm not saying games like Final Fantasy VII weren't fun, they just seemed to be a little more lacking in gameplay compared to earlier games.

 
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Closing thoughts

Aww, that's it? Yeah, another short column today. I didn't get as many e-mails as I expected, so I didn't get to put up a large amount of letters. So, send those letters in!

Schools almost out; this is the last full week. Then two days next week and I'm free (!)

-Alex Kimbel
Semi-nocturnal, baby

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