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ASK CORTNEY
Giant Donko October 19, 2006

Cortney - 19:55 CST

It's been a while since I was in the Q&A seat. I haven't hosted since last August, right before that RPGamer Idol fiasco that landed Matt his much-deserved Q&A job.

Things have changed since then. I stepped down as Head of News back in February, and I'm now a reviewer. I'm enjoying reviews a lot more than news. Playing games and writing reviews is a lot more fun than combing the internet for fresh news and tossing it on index. Sometimes I get to play games before they are released here in the United States. My next review copy is Final Fantasy XII, which should be here any day now. I'm getting a bit impatient; I'm running out of days to play through it, so I'll have to rush. Oh, and I also make most of the buttons you see on the right-hand sidebar of our index for contests, features, and reviews.

Anyway, after digging through far too many emails with subject lines about articles of clothing in all caps, I found a few letters that weren't directed at Matt or Josh or their laundry contests. Looks like Q&A still gets quick questions and long-winded opinions!




L E T T E R S
Blow up a balloon, and get 5 silver points!


Hello loyal Q-and-A host of the day,

Matt, in response to an email regarding the Chrono series, asked for the public's opinions. Therefore, I will offer mine.

First, anyone who has been in touch with RPG's would know that the Chrono series is the most phenomenal pair of games created. I got in touch with Chrono Trigger when it first hit the SNES, and immediately loved the game play, story, and potential of future sequels...which leads us to Chrono Cross.

Chrono Cross offered a unique, refreshing battle style. Rather than ATB indicators, you had, like, "Endurance points" and until the character was "refreshed," could not attack or defend or whatever. The combinations of magic and attack methods changed the layout of a fight, mostly for the better, but in some ways the more "realistic." I mean, c'mon, in a fight, people wouldn't be taking their time fighting, they'd be all over each other, except when they're tired, and the need to back up to rest a minute...

The music for both games, especially for Chrono Cross, was FANTASTIC. If you can get your hands on the Chrono Cross OST, do so (or...uh, just get access to the files...). The music was perfectly in tune with the worlds.

And now that I've sung all the major praises for the two games, it's time for the rants about sequels and "re"quels.

There won't be a requel of Chrono Trigger...not for a long time. They did a bastardized version on the Playstation (which, of course, I did purchase, and I absolutely despised the time it took to load the freakin' battles...:sigh:) and while it would be BEAUTIFUL to see remade on the DS (and that, yes, I would purchase), it would be a long while before that happens, I'm afraid.

Chrono Cross, which could also be done on the DS, or on the Wii or PS3, or somewhere, won't probably happen either. Why? Because unlike Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross was less widely received by the masses. Great game, but it was miffed by the Final Fantasy series, as the Playstation was known for FFVII, VIII, and IX, of which IX came out about a month after Chrono Cross.

A sequel has been screamed about for a long time, and the original sequel, known as "Radical Dreamers," was little more than an interactive book that came as an online download for the Japanese gamers' SNES, if I recall. A lot of the concepts for Chrono Cross came from Radical Dreamers, so there is no real footing for basis of a sequel on this phantom game.

Final Fantasy is the flagship series of RPG's. We, in the RPG realm, know of games like the Shadow Hearts series, the .Hack series, or the Seiken Densetsu series, but the Chrono series is just one small fish in an overwhelmingly full river.

I can only pray that one day, the likes of Chrono-series games may once again see the light of day, and the dawn of a new chapter.

Let us pray together, everyone.

~Syshonblast~

Cortney

Actually, you spent more time singing the praises of Chrono Cross than Chrono Trigger, but hey, I'll overlook that! Chrono Trigger DS would be great, as long as they didn't add some weird DS feature to it, like blowing up balloons at the Millennial Fair with the microphone. I'd also be happy with Chrono Trigger Advance, a la Final Fantasy IV Advance, with bonus content and a spiffier script.

To be honest, I'd say that Chrono Cross was "less widely received by the masses" not because it was too close to other outstanding games, but because "the masses" didn't like how it warped Chrono Trigger. At least, that's the big complaint I keep hearing. "Good music/graphics/battle system/etc.…but it sucks as a sequel." I find it pretty funny that if you look at the 2000 RPGamer Awards, Chrono Cross won or was runner-up in so many "best" categories and also the "biggest letdown" category.



Cracking the Time Egg


"I guess this just goes to show you exactly how many different and creative ideas there are out there. The next time I hear someone say something about how "everything has already been done by this point in RPGs," I'll just have to give them a swift kick in the derrière."

I am almost ashamed to point this out, but there *is* a general quest to collect jigsaw puzzle pieces in an RPG. Of all places, it's in Sailor Moon: Another Story for the SNES. Please don't ask me why I know that. X-X It doesn't raise your stats, but you do get a powerful item if you complete it.

As for why CT hasn't been remade yet... I think Square saw this and realized that they'd never do anything anywhere near as cool, so they gave up. >_<

--Cidolfas

Cortney

Actually, I'd say that Square Enix looked at that and said "What the...hey, that's OURS! We didn't say you could do that! We insist that you desist!" Particularly since, you know, that's pretty much what they really did say. Do you seriously think that if SE remade Chrono Trigger for, say, PlayStation 2,they couldn't do better than that?



Wiiii!


Dear Q&A person of the day,

I've written to RPGamer in the past but i don't think its been for...oh, I'd say 3 years. So, um, howdy!

I thought I'd share a brief Wii preorder story before the questions I wanted to ask.

I figured I'd get to my local Gamestop about a half hour before it opened(October the 13th, the day Wii preorders started) to make sure I could claim a shiny new Wii as mine. Let me next say that the Gamestop people were telling me that they'd have plenty of Wiis available for launch. Well, when I got there there were 3 people already standing outside in the cold Ohio morning who apparently had been there since 6:30 AM. I sat in my car for about 3-5 minutes when an employee opened the door and let them in early, so I quickly followed. As I walked in the door the employee looked at me and said, "Lucky, you're going to get the last Wii".

This is the same Gamestop that had 8 Playstation 3 preorders a few days earlier. One million Wiis at the US launch to PS3's 400,000? Maybe my Gamestop was at a bad location or whatever but still, you'd think with many times the number of PS3's available at their launch they'd have more than 4.

Well, I paid my deposit and started to leave. At least 5 other people tried to come in as I was paying my deposit to the time I left but the guy at the door shunned them all away. "Sorry! Sold out!" While I was extremely lucky, I just wanted to tell this story to warn you...there are probably going to be a good number of ticked off Nintendo fans writing you in the coming days complaining about not being able to reserve the Wii. Kinda crappy if you ask me...I know wouldn't want to check Ebay in December for an insanely high price Wii.

Anyway on to 2 short questions!

1. Is there a word of a sequel to the Shadow Hearts series in the works? Ever since Covenant, it has became one of my favorite series'.

2. Do you get a lot of mail about Baten Kaitos Origins? What do those who played the original think?

Personally, I think it's a bit of a letdown compared to the original. I liked how they fleshed out the story of the original but there's alot of gameplay mechanics that seem a little off. The new battle system isn't that great. It's faster, but sharing one deck with all of the party is a pain. Also, there's annoying fetch quests in between the exciting moments that totally bog down the flow. Really though, despite the complaints it's a pretty good game, but I think Monolith Soft could have made it so much better.

Thanks for your time!

Raza

Cortney

1. Sadly, no. I adore the Shadow Hearts series, but I haven't heard anything about a Shadow Hearts 4. Too bad, because setting one in the Cold War era would be unbelievably awesome. Just thinking about that makes my little historian heart ache.

2. Er, no idea. I haven't played BKO or the original, except for a short demo at E3 a couple of years ago, and we have had a couple of people barge into our IRC channel demanding solutions to the game's puzzles.



Shiny


Dear MFMFMMF *muffled name*...if Matt's not there.

Recently read this article about a hidden feature locked away in the PS2 with regards to graphics: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=147152

Now here's the thing, I'm an avid liker of all things graphically sound, but nowadays you get tons and tons of games out there that LOOK good but don't PLAY good, yet many people worry that the next console (be it Wii, PS3, XBox360) won't be GOOD ENOUGH to satisfy the aspirations of those gamers who desire realistic immersion in their games.

How good is good enough? How real does Zelda have to be to appease people? Where do you draw the line between what looks good and what plays good? Personally I've begun to realize the trend (stop me if you heard this one) that console dealers are rejecting the notion of 2D games in favor of 3D, SCEA (America, not Japan) apparently put a ban out on 2D games for a time, making it hard for 2D games (some RPGs, some Fighters) to come here.

I could also cite the problem with Mortal Kombat Armageddon...sure the graphics are neat (if over-beefy My opinion), but the gameplay has fallen by the wayside so much it's just a chore (compared to say, oh...Soul Calibur) to play.

Where do we draw the Graphics Line? I remember in the days of the NES when a few small pixels were all it took to engage in an epic adventure of sword and sorcery and monsters...part of the graphics left something up to the imagination certainly, but it wasn't a total graphics issue. There was magic in the gameplay and little elements like burning bushes to reveal hidden passages or blowing on a whistle to dry a lake while very subtle, were a story in and of themselves.

Nowadays whenever you go to scene A where you're supposed to fight some boss a cutscene ensues that while amusing the first few times you see it, really isn't the sort of thing you're there to see. You're there to fight a boss.

We play videogames because we want something to do, not necessarily to watch, that's what movies are for. Didn't game publishers learn their lesson with Xenosaga?

And yet publishers are always pushing pushing pushing graphics, what's the deal with that? If you ask me "immersion" means 9/10ths involvement in the game and 1/10th visual where you actually see what you're doing.

I know the old games weren't pretty, but that wasn't the point, they were fun and that's what mattered and still matters.

One last thing: Just because a new console comes out doesn't make the old ones dead...Dreamcast lasted at least 5 years in Japan before they stopped making games for it. I anticipate the PS2 still has some kick left too.

~Blade

Cortney

From what I understand, SCEA didn't really ban 2D games. They choose to bring over what will sell, and it seems that they mistakenly believed 2D wouldn't cut it.

As for why designers are pushing for better graphics, well, lots of people like pretty things.

And I agree; the PS2 has plenty of fight left. It will be a long time before most gamers own a PS3, so our PS2s need to last.



A quickie!


Do you think they will ever make realistic looking figures/figurines for Final Fantasy 4-6?

Cortney

I don't know, but I really hope they do! Magitek Terra would be awesome on my desk.



C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Those of you who are wondering about the title of this column, here's your answer.

So ends my day in Q&A. May all your donkos be giant!

alethea@rpgamer.com
***Cortney will go back to reviews and graphics now.


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