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Tornado hits RPGamer!
 
Ask JD - August 11 '99- 2:40 pm EST

[ 2nd Update ]
Tornado Hits RPGamer? Well sorta. Before we begin, I'd like to make a note on the technical difficulties today. Salt Lake City, UT was struck by a tornado. SLC of all places! You can read all about it at CNN, if you actually want to see pictures of the twister. Anyway power is out through out the city, which has affected RPGamer.com since the server resides in SLC. Amidst all the chaos, RPGamer.com is still up and running on back up power, so all is not lost. Hopefully the city will be back in shape as soon as possible, and with it a return to normalcy. Our condolences to the families of the injured/dead.

[ 1st Update ]

Today was an interesting day from my vantage point. I think more than any other day as host. My Q&A mail box was filled with either the more interesting or a good set of hodgepodge mail. Today's group of letters really got me to think. Nostalgia...sigh..The memories of the old games like Phantasy Star, YS, Dragon Slayer, Cosmic Fantasy, Final Fantasy came flooding in. Perhaps RPGs back then really were far superior to today's crop, in overall production quality or simply pure fun. I don't know. My feelings are too mixed for me to unravel on this sitting. Or is it perhaps as we age, games simply lose their redeeming values? One thing I'll give to those who cry in dismay that RPGs had then that don't have now, is the emotional value. Other than FF7 and some part of Xenogears, I simply can't recall the strength of emotions a RPG carried, like those past RPGs of lore. At this ripe old age of 18, could I be succumbing to sentimentality? Perhaps... My last hope, FF 8, Grandia, Lunar 2, FF Anthology, Thousand Arms. Let these games recapture that old feeling....

Anyway, back to the column. Enjoy the letters. I had a blast reading all of todays mail (printed/unprinted), probably more than any in recent memory.

 
FF8 Net Orders

Hey,

I'm gonna pre-order final fantasy 8 soon,but I'm not sure about sommething. If you get it over the internet will you get on the exact day it comes out in your mail? SEE-YA

-Zellc

JD:
No. You'll get the game about 2-5 business days from when they get it in.

 
And for your FF 4j/2 US fans - Emotional Relief

One to be born
from a dragon
hoisting the light
and the dark
arises high up
in the sky to
the still land.
Veiling the moon with
the light of eternity,
it brings
another promise
to mother earth with
a bounty and mercy.

It's... so beautiful! FF4j/FF2 US. After you become a Paladin and return to Mysidia from Mt. Ordeals, the elder tells you about the Legend of Mysidia, the Legendary Sword, and the Sacred Light. After hearing that you want to get an airship from Baron he opens the Serpent Road. Ta-da!

-Alex -_^

JD:
This will either make you laugh, cry or puke. Take your pick. If it's the latter, the restroom is at the end of the hallway.
Those were the days, eh? I can hear the collective sigh.

 
This and that of Sega stuff

I got something to say and something to ask.
1) Why does everyone hate FFVII? I loved it and it's my favorite Game. Maybe I'm a newbie to RPG's (Shining Force was what started me, but I haven't played many other 16 bit RPG's), but I've played and own many of the best 32 bit rpg's and FFVII is my all time favorite. I want someone to tell me not that they didn't like it, but why they didn't like it.
2) I'm a huge fan of the Shining series and I own every Shining game released in the States. I played through Shining Force III and I want scenarios 2 and 3 I've heard somewhere that 2 and 3 were translated for Europe. Do you know if this is true? If so, Where could I find a place to Import it(I've looked around and cant find anywhere that imports European games), and is there anything I have to do to make the European PAL programmed games work on the american NTSC TV? I don't know if you or anyone knows anything about this, but any help would be great!
Thanks JD! Your the best!

JD:
1. Bandwagon Bandwagon Bandwagon.
Square Idiot #1: Hey FF 7 sucks cuz itz got no gameplay.
Square Idiot #2: You're right FF 7 sucks big time.
Square Idiot #3: I agree, I want to be cool like you guys.
Square Idiot #4: Yeah FF7 just wasn't FF 4/6. I want dragons and castles.

Square Idiot #1: Yeah, if it doesn't have castles and dragons. It just isn't Final Fantasy.
Square Idiot #1-4:
Yeah.
And so starts the FF7 bashing. How valid or invalid the concoction example is, I'll leave for you readers to digest this sarcastic note.

2. I have not heard about that. I personally don't know much about the European RPG market, or know anyone who does.
Can anyone or particularly the European readers shed some light on this? Likewise with playing PAL games on a NTSC TV.

 
Phantasy Star Team - Music Intact?

Hey JackDaniels...... You say that Project Ares will have the PS team making it. Does that mean that 'Ippo' and 'Gaki Chan' will be doing the music? Ippo did PS3 and 4's msuic while Gaki Chan did PSIV's only ......(I have their real names written down somewhere, but these are the names given in the Soundtest for PSIV) Um, Please tell me they will be doing the music, just give me a Big Old "Off Course" Thanks,

-The Infamous Vejayta

JD:
That is the one thing I have not seen mentioned! Sega will be holding a press conference later this month on the status of Project Ares, hopefully some information on this will be gathered. To my knowledge Ippo did the PS2 soundtrack also and the Phantasy Star Collection Album Vol 1 at least? On a side note find me their real names and get back to me.
Anyway the answer is unknown for the time being. Phantasy Star fans can only pray that one of them will do the music, and hopefully to the level of the Phantasy Star Vol 1/2 album, which in my opinion is one of the best game music soundtracks to have graced my audiophile senses.

 
Dragon Slayer Legend of Heroes

Hey JD,

After that guy wrote in yesterday about Dragon Slayer, I was prompted to write this. I remember way back in 1992 when the first Dragon Slayer:Legend of Heroes game was released for the Turbo Duo, but what has happened since then?? How many Dragon Slayer(Legend of Heroes) games are there?? What years did they come out?? For what systems?? Did any make it to the US besides the first one?? And lastly, how's the music?? Is it the pure Falcom power rock that's heard in the Ys series or is it more Final Fantasy-ish??

JD:
Ooopsies. Accidentally stored this email in the wrong place, so it's a little late in coming. Well there are I believe 9 give or take 1. I always get the number mixed up. Dragon Slayer 4 was released in the US for the NES, as Legacy of the Wizard. It wasn't an rpg per se. It was like a side scrolling adventure/rpg. One of the best NES games in my opinion. Anyway those were the only 2 to be released in the states. In japan however, Dragon Slayer 2:Legend of Heroes 2 (Turbo Duo) was released. Recently a DS: LOH 1 and 2 was released for japanese (Playstation). The game is awesome and not too hard to find. Musically it is incredible, and as with most of the Dragon Slayer series the music is power rock, as well as some soft new age style. Then after that the last two of the series were released Legend of Xanadu 1 and 2 (Turbo Duo). The Legend of Heroes series then spun off to a new series. LOH 3 and 4 (PC). We have LOH 3 in the PC games coverage on this site, which was Falcom's latest RPG. Lastly LOH 5 was just announced for PC. One caveat is, it's most of these are japanese. One note to close this, YS music isn't all rock/new age. There are some incredible classical pieces, even non classical music fans like myself can appreciate (or worship). And hints of incredible jazz moments as well (YS 2 Perfect Collection Album).

 
Nintendo's Dolphin

Dear JD,

This is my first time, and I'm a little scared so go easy on me. First I was wondering if there has been any new news about Square and its interest in Dolphin. Second, according to a recent poll type thing, few people except for the hardcore gamers know that the Dolphin even exists. I was wondering if in your infinite powers and knowlodge there is a way to fix this. Thanks for your time,

-Tom

JD:
None other than the first report. Frankly Square's interests on Nintendo Dolphin seem to me more bark than bite, so to speak. I don't hold much weight for it till more concrete statements or information are released. I think most people are aware of Dolphin, but I'll oblige you. Everyone Dolphin is Nintendo's next generation DVD system. It's gonna be, um...neato.
How's that for hyping it up?

 
Evolution of the RPG topic rages on

i'm not typically in the habit of sending out letters, but this one piqued my interest so i thought i'd comment:

having come from the old skool, paper and pencil, imagination required, good DM a must, "every adventure starts in a %!@# tavern" generation of rpgamers, i think that ya'll are both right. in a sense. the evolution that people seem to hate so much has to do with the seeming emphasis on FMV and fancy schmancy computer three-dimensional engines with wicked, killer spells to be cast and a lack of attention spent on actual plot of the actual game in which the aforementioned goodies are packed. it's a valid argument in many senses, simply because the vast majority of the people playing games nowadays (the 13-18 year old crowd you referenced) are NOT that generation of imagination users. not to say that they have no imagination. but they didn't have the ... privilige of Wizardry 1, Ultima 4, other like PC games (i know someone on the staff just hates PC rpg's, but this is neither here nor now), and the paper AD&(who hates ampersands?)D. a number of people are starting their vi! deo gaming on SNES or N64, as opposed to many of us who did start on good ol 8-bit or before. (can you say sega master system?) i guess it's a matter of what people are used to. FMV and CG should enhance a gaming experience, not take the place of, as has somewhat been the case lately... it's like a cookbook recipe with messed up proportions. (:

the subject matter of most games now are becoming far more mature than they once were. compare FF1(you ess aye) to FF7. significant plot differences. 10 years later, the gaming industry is definitely evolving and catering to the larger audience. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one." -- Spock. who knew that Star Trek 2 would predict the future of RPGaming on the console side.

there are still rpg stype games that cater to the imaginations of the die hard fans (lunar SSSSSSC comes to mind, even FF7 with its deep and involving plotline no matter how much people bash the crap out of it, and if they ever release System Shock 2 on the console side of things, i think that people are going to get a swift kick in the asthma on how non-linear role playing has evolved into something rockin and rolling)... rpgaming can never be like the rolling stones or Kiss: 78 years playing the same old tune. even the bards have to change their whistle from time to time. and the people go with it, despite the griping. (: a little something for everyone...
long windedly,

-norg

JD:
Certainly interesting points to think about.

 
FMV - CGI Topic

Hey, JD:

Well, you asked for opinions on CGI and FMV so here are mine. Personally, I have no real problem with it. I think they are cool to look at and they help to unfold the story. I was weined on the old-school RPG's like the original Final Fantasy, so I am naturally partial to that style. I would much rather look at a 3/4 overhead view of cute little sprites than rendered polygonal characters. To each his own, I guess. As for the Final Fantasy VII issue, I will say that I was a bit dissapointed with the game. I didn't think that the characters were near as complex or developed as in previous FF games and the over-all story was a bit lacking as well. My biggest problem with it was the fact that you only had three characters in your party at once. I really think they needed four, but that's just me. Now a question for you. What is your opinion about the increase in technology used in the FF world. I miss the old days of the original when the most advanced thing was an airship. I much prefer a medieval atmosphere rather than a futuristic.

-Barry Dancer

JD:
You bring up a good point why many FF fans just won't accept CG FMVs. That's what they knew, that's what they grew up with, and in many cases that's all they know. They are stuck in the old ages in my opinion. Are they right or wrong? I don't know. What seems perfectly clear is many are stuck with their nostalgic memories.

While we've been recently discussing the CGI part of the FMV topic. I think it also bears mentioning that in many cases Anime FMV's aren't welcomed by the same group...Or are they? Opinions?
On the other side of the court, there are many who grew up with the CD media, even in the early years (ie. Sega CD and Turbo Duo/Grafx). These gamers are probably more understanding of of the power of FMV in story telling.

As far as the technology issue, I guess that all all depends how it is portrayed. While technology is nothing new in RPGs (ie. Phantasy Star) it is only recently that the mainstream is openly talking about it. My own view is I enjoy both equally. It just depends on how the developers execute the ambience.

--FF 7 Spoiler Warning--

JD,

Never wrote in to a Q&A column before, but here goes... My opinion as a whole about CG is rather neutral. I'll use FF7 as an example as it's the most widely known game and works well with my points. I think that like you said CG is a great tool for telling a story, an example being the famous Aeris death scene. Without the fine detail of the CG cutscene a lot of the emotion would have been lost, and it would not have had the same overall effect. Like many others have said you would not have gotten the same impact if a squished Sephiroth sprite droppen on Aeris' sprite and she fell over and faded away like Tellah in FF4. I liked the fact that you could see the cold features of Sephiroth, the surprised but peaceful look of Aeris, and the painful expression on Cloud's face. Sprites and text just can't convey that emotion, and would detract from the overall experience.

The negative aspect to CG is the frivolous use of it. I'm talking about "eye candy" scenes like the exploding mako plant. Yeah, they look great and can enhance a game, but I beleive that before companies go adding it, they should concentrate more on polishing off the actual game. I'm talking about the general game engine, systems and things like the translation. While FF7 wasn't a terrible game, I did enjoy it, it had some elements to it that seemed unfinished or rushed. The materia system, while very innovative IMO, could've used a little refining. Other examples would be cleaning up the translation and making a better enemy AI(yes I found the game a little too easy, but's that's an entirely different can of worms).

Basically to conclude this whole thing, I'd just like to say that the use of CG for storytelling purposes is great, and I hope it continues. I would just like to see developers cut back on the eye candy a little in order to deliver a better overall gaming experience.

-Chris "Dr. Evil" Werner

JD:
Excellent points. On the negative comment you made, I fully agree. If FF 7 had one major downfall it was the excessive use at times for no point or story value of FMV. Though I must admit I still liked it. If you want to see how really good FMV CG is done, go track a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga - Azel for the Saturn. Excellent story telling FMV's (the one key thing FF 7 lacked), and superb cinematography. It'll be interest to see how Square has tackled the issue for FF 8.

 
Trying to get on my good side

JD I AM SICK OF YOU ALWAYS DOING THIS!! I told you to post my letter yesterday and you didn't..... did it have to have a question??? Well heres a question so you can post this one, and i'll forgive you... Q: Will shen mue have spoken voices all the way through? JD.. just so you know I dont' hate you (yet)... you are still my favorite Q&A guy... You beat the pants off of every Q&A guy out there....

-JooJoo

JD:
Where is the $70 you owe me?

 
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SEGA WILL GO DOWN IN FLAMES, DIE DREAMCAST !!!!!!!!!! <snip>(15 or something more exclamation points)
-Mike

This almost should have gotten an Ask JD Idiot Award. But Mike doesn't deserve such high distinction.

Show Ricky Martin! Or even better... Freedie Prinz, Jr. *_* I mean FREDDIE Prinz, not Freedie...-_-;;;

Living la vida locca.

JD,
I think I'm in love with your feet. YOU KICK A$$ MAN.
-256

Uhhh......
 

Dreamcast is SO ooo-ooh close. I can taste it, can you? 29 Days to go.


JD aka cookie monster
It's all about the old skool baby.

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