Ask JD
Special Friday
Ask JD - August 13 '99 - 5:00 pm EST

First order of business is to let you readers know, that at least for this weekend our PC Coverage guy Zac will be handling the Saturday and Sunday Q&A. He's new so handle with care. (Hehe)

Today's Q&A is huge again, I know. It's a special week, so many interesting driven letters, so little time. The letters did focus on the Dreamcast and the PSX 2 price point discussion. Surprise, Surprise...With such a deluge, I did try to cut the Dreamcast/PSX2 down to size.. As well as a much needed breather with the FMV debate.

Let's just head over to the letters, shall we? First a letter with some clarifications about Thor's soon to be return, as well as an open letter to you readers from the last permanent Weekend Q&A RPGuru, Michael Greenhut.

Info on Thor

Right about when Ryan left, I saw it mentioned elswhere on RPGamer that Thor was almost settled and may be returning soon.

So where does that leave you if he does? Weekend guy again? Your column rocks.... but then again, so did Thor's. Hmmm. Print this or I shall flay the flesh from your bones! Muhahahaha!!


That was the last bit of information that I've heard about Thor. The good news is yes, he should be settling in his new place and we are expecting him any time now. The last thing I knew was that he would have been back by Aug 8-10th, but he hasn't shown up yet. So it's just a wait and see. Hopefully he's taken the opportunity in the last few months to get a trim. (Kidding!)

As far as your other question. I think now is the right time to fully discuss it. I first joined RPGamer to be the "Classic RPG Coverage" person, since my expertise lay in a broad grouping of RPGs, from Sega, to Turbo Grafx, and of course the Square and Enix ones. Then a few weeks after Thor announced to us staffers that he would have to move and would be gone for a month or two at the very least. The Q&A slots opened up. I thought heck I might as well try this thing out, it might be fun. So Ryan and I became part of the 3 day rotation period, along with then, Weekend Guru Michael Greenhut. And then there was that incident...

I did this job temporarily, for fun, never really expecting much to come of it. To make a long story short, just 3 weeks ago, I was told that I would indeed be the permanent Weekend Q&A hoster once Thor returns. That's a brief story of all it how began. I guess the first order of business is to thank you readers for your support. Without you guys and gals, I wouldn't be here.

Michael Greenhut writes to the readers

Greetings, loyal fans of weekends past

I thought it only fair to write you all at least once more after my sudden and utter embracing of the void that came with a life sans being your Q&A fellow at RPGamer, even if it was mostly weekends.

Apparently, many of you still wonder just what happened to me and why I was dismissed. In order to avoid scraping old wounds(well, to avoid scraping them too much anyway :) I'll be as terse as I can. I was on IRC one night, I saw Thor and his friends insulting me, decided to publicize just what I thought of Thor the next day on my column's intro, and as a result many important execs from game companies who had gone to E3, who just happened to be looking at RPGamer that day after Mike Tidwell begged them and told them what a swell site we were, saw my column. Naturally, their opinions of RPGamer went(or may have went) through the cellar, because of my unprofessional introduction. The bottom line was, I damaged the site a great deal with my personal squabbling. Hours after I put up my column, Mike saw it and had the intro cut(hence, the blank space many of you saw before that Monday's column). What I did, I admit, was wrong, and that was why Mike had no choice but to let me go(I was also pretty berzerked and unable to defend myself that day, but that's another story). And that's pretty much that - I got myself fired, RPGamer as a whole isn't to blame.

As for the future, it turns out I most likely would be quitting about now anyway. As many of you who paid attention to my college-angst rants knew, my GPA was steadily taking a turn for the worse. I have at least another 3 semesters left before graduation, which means I can't push my laziness any further. In addition, I have a game company to plant the seeds of and a book to begin writing, and I may actually make an attempt at what some of those who've been away from the comfortable glow and escape of books, RPGs and computers call a life. Of course, the near simultaneous release of FF8 and Suikoden 2 threaten to make this very difficult, but a man can dream...

With all those weighing my mind and taxing my sanity, I'd scarcely have time to be pounding out columns every weekend, which usually took me a good 3-4 hours per column. I'd once again like to thank my fans for all the sympathetic and consoling e-mail I've gotten over the past couple of months, and apologize for not being able to respond to each one individually. Even if you've never heard so much as a "thanks :)" from me, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate it. Unfortunately, I'm the type who is scarred by one or two flames more than healed by a few scores of supporting e-mails and that began to stoke my tendencies towards irrational paranoia. It isn't your fault, it just seems I have much to learn and adjust to before I can ever grab the mantle of this "fame" business. With that, I'll leave off. I can only say to put your hopes in whoever comes next, whether it be Thor again or some other new people. If any of you still want to write me or chat about gaming, school, Terry Goodkind novels or just life in general, write me here at my school address. Farewell, and remember I'll be around as long as the World is Square.

-Michael J. Greenhut, a.k.a. Neoguardian

Many of the readers have been wondering about you. I'm glad you finally wrote in to appease our curiosity. It's great to hear you are doing well and I think I speak for everyone both in the staff and the readership, that we wish you the best.

FF IV - FFA Correction


When you answered the question yesterday about why Final Fantasy IV won't be in FFA, you said Square hasn't commented about this. Check out the FAQ page on their site, they say it hasn't been localized (translated) yet. Since FFV and FFVI were going to be re-released on the PC, they already had the localization done. The FFIV in the Anthology was supposed to be the HARD version of FFIV (damn! the one I really want to play!), so it hasn't been localized yet. Oh, yeah, and I heard it really sucked on Playstation.

Doh, how could I forget that. I did indeed read that FAQ a few months ago (or maybe it wasn't that long ago) and then I shoved it deep into my head. Thanks for the info.

A little confused


1.Will there be a Xenogears 2?
2.Do you think SQUARE will ever come out with a Chrono Trigger 2? I think it was a great idea at first...but I kind of would like a spin off though. Kinda like Chrono Cross(which is a spinoff) but focused more around one particular character from CT, like Magus. It could be called "Chrono Trigger 2: The search for Schala."
3. What do you think the odds are of SQUARE making an anthology of FF2j, FF3j and FF4j and shipping it over to the US.
4.What do you think the odds are of a Seiken Densetsu anthology of Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3 coming over to the US?
5.What is your favorite videogame soundtrack?
6.What is your favorite videogame song?
7.Can I have a job at RPGamer? Or if anyone from Totalrpg is around can i have a job there? I am a GREAT worker, and would llve to do some reviews or answer letters. Thanks much my friend!

-John Thompson

1. Rumors point to YES. It better be for PSX 2, I can't stand those pixellated Xenogears graphics. Oddly enough at the time, it didn't bug me so much as it does now.
2. Well...It's called Chrono Cross. Check it out in our game coverage.
3. For now vey unlikely. They already did FF4j though....A more appropriate anthology would be a complete remake of FF 1-3j, in my opinion.
4. Little, unless Legend of Mana sells like crazy over here in North America.
5/6. I really can't decide. I have like 20 favorite albums.
7. Well we have an opening for janitor? Would this interest you? Seriously though you'd want to ask the heach honchos of both sites.

Dreamcast CD Media - How big?

What is up?! Hey, I have a question about the Dreamcast. Now, I heard that Sega made the cd's slightly bigger to prevent piracy, is this true? I went to Hollywood video yesterday, and they had one out to play, and after reeling from the suprise that I got from it's size (It's SMALL! I thought the controller itself would be bigger than the Playstation CONSOLE!) I popped the sucker open to take a look at the CD, and it didn't LOOK any bigger, but I had to point of reference (i.e. another CD) with me to check. So what's the buzz?

-S. Pustinger

Right you are, in a way. The Dreamcast media is bigger in that it holds up to 1 Gig or 1000 Megs of storage capacity, in contrast to the CD's 650 Meg. It isn't actually bigger in size measurements.

PAL RPGs - No Shining Force

Hey JD,

First off, I love the column. It's one of the few that I feel compelled to read every day. I live in South Africa, and we too are being punished and are forced to use the European PAL (read crap) format. As far as I know (which isn't all that far) there has been no PAL release of the remaining Shining Force scenarios.

As for playing PAL games on an NTSC TV; you will have to obtain a video signal converter. I have one of these to play NTSC games on my PAL TV. Also, and obviously, you'll need a territory lockout bypass mechanism of some sort. The difference betwixt PAL and NTSC lies in the number of lines on screen. I'm pretty sure that this was concocted by the devil, but I have no solid evidence to support this notion.

To change the subject a tad; what do you think the repurcussions will be of Bernie Stolar leaving Sega? Could this mean that Working Designs and Sega might actually start working together? I think that I'll start saving for a Dreamcast just in case. Bye


It really is great to hear from our International readers, especially from South Africa. That's like millions of miles away isn't it? ;)
Thanks for the info on Shining Force PAL, and the PAL - NTSC stuff.
From what I've heard morale at Sega has been shaken.....Overall, it probably makes very little difference without him. Now the big change for the RPG genre might be the return of Working Designs as a Sega publisher. I can't help but wonder...Was Bernie really that bad? He has done some nifty things as of late and perhaps equally stupid...I miss Tom Kalinske, the one great top dog of SOA.

More Viewpoints on Dreamcast


A few months ago, I was writing off Sega Dreamcast, now I'm writing for a Sega-related web site. Weird, huh?

One of the financial reasons I pre-ordered a Dreamcast is that I started to believe PS2 would be spendy at launch. It's one thing to wait for the next generation of games for another year. It's another thing to wait 2 or 3 years, till the price of PS2 becomes reasonable (meaning under $200).

I bought the PSX when it was $299. I won't overpay again. I kick myself every time I see signs saying "PSX now $129!" Buying Dreamcast on 9-9-99 gives me a lot of fun playing next-gen games until the PS2 is affordable. People turned off by Sony's high price should consider doing the same.

-Craig Hansen News Writer, Sega Web

P.S. Thanks for acknowledging that Dreamcast actually does have a great number of RPGs heading our way. Many of your contemporaries on other sites are not clued in, and I've had to educate them. Not all the RPG world is Square. I got two words for ya: Baldur's Gate!

JD: is a really cool site by the way. After the column, you sega fans might want to check it out.
I think you bring up some good points. In the end PSX2's price will most likely be $199-299 when it ships in the US. So the price concern probably won't be an issue, at least in North America. Both systems will have their fill of great games and I for one won't be choosing sides.

I did see the reference you are pointing to, but that is neither here nor there for me to comment on. I'll make my peace for today by saying the Sega platform has had some spectacular RPGs and luckily that trend seems to be continuing for the Dreamcast. I'm very much looking forward to Black Matrix and Langrisser Millenium. Speaking of Langrisser Millenium, perhaps I should call you Sega fans to arms, and have you email Working Designs to translate it? We'll see.

After reading about the Dreamcast for months and ending in the big huge Dreamcast article in this month's EGM, I just thought I'd like to say my opinion of the Dreamcast. Graphics-wise, it's awesome. Big launch line-up. Lots of good looking arcade ports. And on top of that, it's very cheap for a first price. BUT, I probably won't be getting one until next year. And that is because out of the 60-70 games that will be available by the end of the year, none of them are RPGs. It sounds a bit like the Nintendo 64, which STILL doesn't have an RPG (worth mentioning) and probably never will. But the reason for that is most of the RPGs being translated are being done by small companies, so there will naturally be a bit longer wait. And most of the big blockbuster RPGs have yet to be released in Japan (Shenmu, Grandia 2). So I'll save my money for a while, who knows? Maybe Sega will drop the price? I may even buy it earlier than that, if there are any good action games that catch my eye, hey I'm not biased. All in all, it sounds like it will be a lot of fun.


Have you not been paying any attention to my rants as of late? There are, what seems to be 4 Tommo RPGs for release this year. One of them will be the much anticipated Evolution. Then there's the Sega juggernaut Shen Mue. Yes the price of the Dreamcast will most likely come down, maybe as soon as Christmas.

Sega and Sony both Play Pranks

I apologize in advance for this, but I really can't stand the pure idiocy of some people.

The guy who asked if anyone was getting tired of "Dreamcast this and Dreamcast that," his brand of idiocy in particular I can't stand. This man obviously has no memory, or is a complete idiot. Oh my, Dreamcast advertising everywhere! Oh no, lots of Dreamcast coverage in all the magazines and on all the web sites! Does he not remember that when the Playstation launched, it was the EXACT same way? How about the N64? YOU BETCHA! All that is happening with the Dreamcast, is exactly what has happened for all major systems before they launch.

My favorite was his statement that "Sega crashing Sony's golf game was the last straw." Because it wasn't so much a prank on Sega's part, as it was revenge. How would our friend there feel about Sony if he knew that they crashed Sega's E3 party a few years back? It's the exact same thing. But gee, I guess Sega is still the badguy cause it's Sega... Yeah well, I've played Sonic Adventure, Sega Rally, House of the Dead 2, and the best so far, Soul Calibur, and with games like that coming, Sega can't help but at least do WELL. I preordered today as a matter of fact.

Anyway, I have a point on the PSX2 launch price. It's price being close to $400 dollars in Japan isn't really that high. Consider that when the Saturn and PSX both debuted in Japan all those years ago, they weren't almost $400, they WERE $400. Companies can get away with that in Japan, after all, in the final days of the Super Famicom, one had to pay 100 bucks for FF6! The only people who should be worried about PSX2's price tag are those who can't sit still long enough for the American release, because it will definately be cheaper than that when it launches here. At least, it had better be ;)


Sony playing pranks too? Either that news is so far lodged in my memory, or when I heard it I didn't care. It's really surprising that a corporation the size of Sony's would be doing that. Guess that goes to show, Sony doesn't have the starched suits that many perceive them as. I can really feel the Dreamcast hype now. It's really great to be a gamer now a days.

RPG Evolution - Old School

No, no, no. You've got it all wrong. You see, the reason why FF2&3 seemed deeper to you (all) is because you were younger! That's it! It's that simple! Heck, Barney or even Teletubbies seems deep to the very young. Don't you get it? You're older! I played FF2 six years ago for the first time. Seemed deep-- even got me to shed a tear for the twins'... sacrifice. Played it again a few months ago, found it somewhat shallow. Sephiroth was far more evil than Kefka or Goblez (Yeah yeah, bite me. Zeromus was a bad guy for the last hour of the game.) My Point: Final Fantasy is getting deeper. However, I think that many gamers are getting older to fast to balance out the scale.


This is the first of this kind of an analogy I've heard. I think technically your point is valid, perhaps even correct, viable at the very least. I'm definitely going to wait for an opinion or counter to this letter.

Mr. Norg 13-18 year old basher Writes back

ok. allow me to rectumfry (er, rectify) my previous statement.

bad things pour outta the mouth (fingers?) when one tends to type without stopping until the end of the letter, and then hitting the send button. if i had been the one reading the first paragraph of my own comments, i would have ripped myself a brand spanking new size nine poop chute over my collective buns-wooping (it's easy, mm'kay?) of 13-18 year olds. come to think of it, it wasn't that long ago that i was in that category to begin with. if someone had told me i had no imagination, i would have told them that when i wanted their opinion, i'd give it to them.

for clairification purposes, i didn't want to include each and every single teenager into the category of foolios without spaghetti in the noggin. (.... yeah. that's right.) it sure came out that way, but that's not what i indented. so my apologies to those who wrote back saying i was full of it. (: to give myself some credit (even though i'm broke), however, i still stand by the fact that plotlines are generally leaving less to the imagination than they once did. a nice marriage (evil word, yes i know) of the FMV CG PnP LSD generation of new fangled computer/console capabilities along with whoop-buns (mm'kay?) plot lines would be a dream come true. things are always strange in a strange new world. i guess we need to give the companies a little more time to pull it off. after all, we've given microsoft 20 years to make a bug-free software environment and we're still feeding them money, time, and patience. (: i pray it all works out in the end, one way or another.


The searing heat of reader opinion is mighty hot, eh?

Dear Ann Landers

Dear Ann Landers,

I live with my husband and two kids. For the past three years I've been having an affair with a man I'll call "Bill". He is very sweet and kind, and I love him very much. My husband does not know about him and I am trying to find a gentle way to break the news. My husband has a quick temper and has been know to beat us with when he's in a bad mood. Thank you for your help,

-Worried in Wilmington, Delaware

Well, Worried in Wilmington, I'll send you one of my Idiot of the Day Viagra packages. It might help you.

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Guten Tag,
I must say, you are rather brave with your recent letter content, like yesterday's letter with beastiality in it....and that letter with Bob Dole and Viagra....

Thanks...I guess.

In my day we had mature storylines and rendered CG cinemas, not all of this pencil and paper crap.
-Cranky Kong

Here's a bannana. Enjoy.

Am I the only person looking forward to Wild Arms 2??? Is there something wrong with me for this?

Someone call the doctor, nutcase alert. Seriously though, I've been rather surprised myself. I'm not getting any Wild Arms 2 letters. Let me give my opinion, (when don't I) it looks like its gonna be a wicked game.

I was wondering if you'd take a minute to stop playing with your huge...mailbag, and answer this question. Do you believe in equal power to duh masses?

Are you a communist? ;)

Did you see the new Tom Green video? I just downloaded the MP3 version.

I saw the video last night....WOW that was stranger than life. So quote th Tom Green, "My bum is all alone." That Tom Green is nutty.

What a week. I know the Q&A's have been much longer than normal. I think I shall use the excuse, it's all you readers' fault. Does that work?
But Seriously it has been a great week as far as questions and open exchanges of ideas, if not too much reading on my part. :)
Which brings me to one point. Can we try to cut down the letters a bit? Some of the huge 3-8 paragraphs really are too long. I'm sure you all know what is the appropriate size. Anyway I'll be very interested to see how all these questions/comments and discussions pan out for my next Q&A on Monday. Maybe new topics will takeover? Till next week. Peace Out.

JD aka Jeff "The Beach bum" Davis
Poor Tom Green. His Bum is all alone.

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