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Cortney Stone - July 17 '03- 21:45 Central Standard Time

Alethea: Hey, it's us again, and we're back for more Q & A fun! I'm glad to say that the response to yesterday's column was 100% positive, and today we received 17 letters! Is there anything you want to say first, Heath?

Heath: In one of my responses, I liken myself unto a person who kicks much ass. This isn't true, as I'm as much of a video game dork as many of you are. Like right now, I'm listening to midis from Brave Fencer freaking Musashi. What's up with that? And After that, I'm probably going to turn on Punchline or The Twirpentines. Man, I suck.

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Bad Images

Hello, I have two questions.

1. What are the all time crappiest RPGs you've ever played?

For me, it would be Alundra 2. I loved the first Alundra, but the supposed sequel...ugh. The graphics are just eye-bendingly ugly. You can tell the designers didn't have a lot of experience in creating 3D polygnal characters. It's probably a good game otherwise, but I'll probably never find out. I didn't play anymore than 15-20 minutes of it before I stuck it in the back of my game rack to collect dust. The other crappy game would have to be Wild ARMS 2. The first one was great, and I only played the third one for a few minutes at the store, but it looks pretty cool. The second one a terrible disappointment. It's pitiful translation mangles a potentially interesting story into something indecipherable. This just goes to show how important localization can be, especially if the rest of the game isn't strong enough to carry it through.

The first one that came to mind was Rhapsody. On the bright side, though, I played that game with friends in the room, so we could all laugh at how embarrassing it was to Atlus. And, for its target audience (8 to 14-year-old girls) Rhapsody isn't so bad. Just, being a 19-year-old male, I had a bit of trouble holding back laughter at some of the things that were supposed to be impressive. But I never expected the game to exactly rock, so I don't really hold much against that game.

My personal biggest disappointment would be Hoshigami. I nearly wet my pants from excitement after reading the previews and gazing at screenshots, but then I got this excruciatingly difficult game and it disappointed me beyond what words can describe. I almost feel like Hoshigami betrayed me by looking great and playing so wretchedly.

2. Is there ANYONE in the universe scarier than Michael Jackson?


Oh, geez...what a terrible picture. That should teach me to stop chasing links. I swear, Michael Jackson just gets worse and worse. Back in the 80s, he wasn't so bad, but now he looks like a stoned chimpanzee. *shudders*

Ever watch M*A*S*H? Corporal Klinger is one sick S.O.B. Always wearing dresses and stuff...not to mention all that hair. Now, I'm not saying he's scarier than old Jacko, but he'd certainly give the King/Queen of Pop a run for his/her money.

The First But Not the Last Time We'll See This Question Today

Hi ya guys,

Hey Heath, I have the EXACT SAME list of top 5 favorite RPGs. Weird huh?

Well, on to the question. What do you guys think of the new character models in Xenosaga II? Personally, I think Namco is making a big mistake, since their previous character models where excellent. Guess I'll have to wait and see if they work well or not.

~Twilight Mage

While I missed out on Xenosaga Ep. I (thanks to my grad student financial limitations), I think the new character models are pretty cool. Technically, Monolith Soft is developing the game. Namco's just publishing it, and I'm not sure how much input they have, if they have any at all.

Really? If that's any indication of how alike we are, you must also kick high amounts of ass, yes?

Regarding Shion, I welcome the change. She looks much better, and like she MIGHT ACTUALLY beat up a monster in battle. I just hope they get a new voice actor, as Shion's voice was already the worst of the entire Xenosaga cast, and won't match her new look at all.

On the other hand, I don't like Kos-Mos' new character model as much. I liked how this powerful, expensive, destructive machine looked like "My Size Barbie 15,000AD." It was a neat piece of irony, and I'm kind of disappointed to see it go.

Hey, It's Gabe Again!


1. How did Heath get the name Rage? Does he like to go a serial killing spree when he gets really angry, or does he just beat the crap out of the first person he sees?

Heath can be a very nice guy, but he's no pushover. I don't think he's ever killed anyone though.

Well, for some reason, I kind of enjoy anger, and its sister emotions. I like making people think. Ever seen that picture on my bio page? That's just for people to load up and be like "Aah!"

I don't go around wearing piercings, lipstick, and dyed hair or anything, but I generally like to let people know I'm kind of pissed. And Rage Against the Machine was a great band, while they were together.

2. I just saw the new screens and scans of Xenosaga II, and I dare say I like the new realistic style rather than the anime style of episode I. What do you guys think?

Like I said earlier, I think the new design is pretty cool.

I will now expand on the answers I gave in the last letter on this topic. I've said all I have to say about Shion, but let's revisit Kos-Mos. I disagree with the people that have drooled on their keyboards while saying "OMG! Kos-Mos got seeexxxyyy!" Are we looking at the same picture? She's pretty, but she looks a mom. Not a young, fresh-out-of-college-and-still-kicking-it mom, but an early-mid 30's, soccer mom. The kind that attends parent-teacher conferences, and then grounds you for your D+ in Algebra. More particularly, she kind of has the basic facial structure of my own mom...

3. Tales of Phantasia is being re-released for the nth time, and for the nth as well it's being denied and English release. For the love of God, when will it come!? And no, I'm not gonna use a ROM with a dejap patch.

I'm also unhappy about ToP not being released here. It seems to have a strong English fanbase, and I think Namco is just losing out on profits by not sending it over here. I don't care too much for the dejap patched ROM either. I'd rather have the official version, translated just as the designers wanted it.

The only Tales game I'm remotely interested in is Tales of Symphonia. I'm sorry, but I just can't share your sadness.

4. I'll admit it now: When I heard Google was moving, I was wondering if the guys who were going to handle his/her column would even get any letters. So I took it upon myself to write one per day until Google starts again, no matter how brainless and asinine my mails are. They are, aren't they? =)

P.S. Please tell Paws happy birthday for me!

-- MeoTwister

Gabe "I slipped a disc!" Ang

Goog's not moving. Slimes tend to migrate to Japan this time of year as part of their elaborate mating cycle. He will be back soon. The staff members who are taking his place in Q&A have been getting quite a few letters, although I'm sure we don't have as many fans as he does. Oh, I passed on your birthday wishes to Paws. She appreciates your thoughtfulness.

By the way, in response to your letter yesterday, Andrew Duff sent over a picture of himself so you can see how ferocious he really is. This is a real picture of gimmicks or empty promises. Be sure to let it load all the way.

Yeah. And for MY mating ritual, I get on the phone and I'm like "Yo, Paws, you doin' anything?" And she says "Heath, I live in Manitoba," and I say "Oh...bummer." Then it's off to bed.

Catch That Reference!

I was reading Q&A today, and noticed in Heath's Signature image one of the best lines from office space..such a funny movie...anyway, on to the question.

I have heard from a friend that in FFVII that you could actually save Aeris from Sepiroth...his reason being that the programers never put in the code to allow you to do that when she was killed...or...COULD have been killed. I highly doubt this is true...but I was just wondering. Thanks..

Nick "Big Mac" Macrina

You can't save Aeris, obviously, but I don't know for sure if this was the original intention of the designers. Who knows? Maybe one day, while FF7 was still in the works, Sakaguchi called up one of his lackeys, and said, "Hey, let's kill off Aeris for good."

YES! Yes yes yes! I was hoping that someone would get that reference. If no one did, I was going to point it out in my outro, so you saved me some work. Dude, check it out: that message ACTUALLY appeared on a printer that my brother was working with. It came up and he said "oh wow, oh wow," and looked around to make sure none of the school librarians were in earshot. He said "this is too good," and proceeded to say in a somewhat raised voice, "PC loadletter!? What the ---- does THAT mean?" and hit the printer, but the tray wouldn't come off. It was ALMOST perfect.

I can actually tell you, in all honesty, that in my most recent battle with Safer Sephiroth, my party was Cloud, Yuffie, and Aeris. There is no legit way to get Aeris back, or prevent her death.

However, the miracles of gameshark are great and many. Any time after Aeris' death, on a gameshark version 2.3 for Playstation, use the code: 8009CBDE FF03. This code sticks Aeris permanently into your third character slot, even if the Shark is turned off.

As a caution, you will need to get Aeris OUT of your party before Cid's trip to space, or the game will freeze. After that event, however, you can leave her in as long as you like. Remove her by leaving the Aeris code off, and loading a game with this code: 8009CBDE FF0A. This code put Sephiroth into slot 3.

Load this up, then save, turn the game off, and start back up with no codes. Now there are no Sharked party members. Do this whenever you feel like getting Aeris out of your party.

I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning

Heath, I remember you and Duff back in Vietnam. You two were the jerks always showing off with the gunblades and kicking my ass. Yeah, that's right, it's me, you thought I'd never be back.. well, I am, and I still hurt, and I have ice cream!! ^_^. You jerks. I'm never going to recover. Step off!!! You guys are gonna wake up dead.. or not wake up.. or wake up with some weird gunk in your eyes.. yeah, that's gonna be ME.. hahah...

On a RPG related note, I'm thinking of stepping away from my online world of Counter-Strike and Diablo 2, and getting back into RPGs. I only have a PSX, and was wondering which one of these would make for a more entertaining play - Vagrant Story or Front Mission 3? Maybe I'll buy a PS2 sometime.. hohoo.. if only you guys didn't take all my money and dignitiy back in 'Nam.. 0_o


Front Mission 3. I played the demo and liked it. I found Vagrant Story to be too dark. Not thematically, but aesthetically. I couldn't see where I was going or what I was hitting. Plus, the chaining system is an acquired taste.

1. Yeah, what a senseless war.
2. Valkyrie Profile.

PSOne isn't Dead. It's Only Asleep.

Dear peoples,
Okay, first off I'd like to know if there are any other PS1 RPG's to come still or is Black Matrix 00 it?

Black Matrix 00 is the only one I know of. Then again, there's always the possibility that FF3 could make it to the PSOne, just as FF1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 did.

Well, the fate of Square's FF3 remake still hangs in the balance. It is possible that it could wind up on PS1. Black Matrix 00 is the only one I know of, but let us not forget that the original Playstation has a much larger RPG library than most people realize. Go back and look for some you've never played (or possibly never even heard of). Applying NBC logic: if you haven't played it, it's new to you.

Second, As far as successful villains go, therre is the mater of AtL 3....but that wasn't the best of games. also Ultimecia(I hope that's spelled right)did acheive time compretion, but the Hero's also let that happen, so it's a mater of perspective I guess.


Good point(s), and congratulations on spelling Ultimecia correctly. Seems like no one else can get it right.

Yes, it seems that almost every villain has a minor victory or two. I mean, to be a respectable villain in the first place, you've got to actually DO something, yeah? If they don't actually achieve anything, it becomes pretty hard to even TRY hating them. Can you imagine questing 40 hours just to fight Gargamel from the Smurfs? Where would the motivation be?

Even the Prince of Darkness Reads This Column

Hello this is my first letter so be nice to me...*sigh* wait nevermind
My question is .... what is your favorite battle system what parts do you like more then others?

I tend to enjoy battle systems that let me do more than merely enter commands, like the side-scrolling battle systems of the Tales series. It's better than sitting there and watching the characters do what I tell them to do. I'm more of a take-charge kind of woman. Not that I don't like the more passive systems. I liked the battle systems of Grandia and FFT.

Skies of Arcadia, all Grandia games, SaGa Frontier, and Unlimited Saga have kickin' battle systems. I'd say The Grandia ones are my favorite overall battle systems, because they have excellent interfaces attached to them. The level-up/character customization systems in those games are incredible. If you haven't played any of them, Grandia 2 is now only $20 brand new. I recommend it.

And do you like old school 2-D side scrollers vs todays 3-D enviroments?

The *666* Devil

I prefer the classic 2D side scrollers because it's easier to jump and see where you are landing. However, I'm also of the persuasion that 3D is just cool. I find that it gives me a better feel of the environment around my character.

Dear Satan,
It depends on the game. There are numerous games in both categories that are pure piles of crap. Just the same, both "schools" also have their priceless gems. It would be kind of nice to see some more 2D games come out, though, as I do feel that there is more to be done with that style.

Don't Mess With Rage

Ok, I don't mind the new look of Xenosaga so much. As a matter of fact, it's like an improvement on some (though not all) of the characters. But I DO mind the storyline changes. Wasn't all this set up (supposedly) before the first one was made. I mean, it's nothing major from what I've seen so far (death of Kevin is now more recent, Margulis no longer has a scar) but if just this much changes with each installment, the whole first game would have to be remade because the current Episode 1 wouln't be accurate enough. Maybe that's their master plan...To constantly make and remake all the Xenosaga episodes under the guise of "accuracy" and then make billions of dollars while putting little effort into their games...No, that's just Capcom.

I think I'll let Heath field this one.

Why don't you go play Episode 5 on your PS1 and see how much it's changed by then?

As for successful villains, can I list guys from other genres? Well, too bad. Hiruko in Shinobi (the new and AWESOME one) was successful. Well, until he got killed that is. It doesn't matter anyway because I get the feeling that all you guys play are RPGs, so you have no idea what I'm talking about. Go rent Shinobi you fools! Anyways, in Paper Mario, Bowser was successful. And in FFX Sin was successful for untold amount's of years before our young and beautiful entourage took care of that little number...

Sure, other games count for something around here. By the way, my game collection includes action, sports, sim, and puzzle games. I love RPGs the best, but I like plenty of other games too. As for successful villains, the moral of the story is that sometimes evil gets its way.

Well, your prediction that we only play RPGs couldn't possibly be further from the truth. We are every bit as seasoned as any other gamers out there, if not more so. The guy you're talking to kicked a solid amount of ass in Bomberman Online, right up until a month ago when the server was shut down.

I've got games from pretty much every genre. You really shouldn't judge people like that, you tool. And, for the record, the PS2 Shinobi is one of the biggest gaming letdowns of all time. He needs to go back to his roots.

Well, that's it for me...Oh and Heath, Teepo said to take him off your banner, he's too cool for you.


*falls over laughing*

Yeah, I totally agree. And what are you doing hanging out with Teepo? Did you also sell out to the goddess Myria? What were you thinking? You weren't thinking, were you? Now look what you've done. You gave up your Brood powers just to live with some birds? Ha! Jokes on you! I, like my homie Ryu, still have my brood powers, and will take both you AND Teepo on at any given time. Teep's got my cell phone number, if you'd like to arrange something.

The Bad Games Question Resurfaces

Oy Alethea & Heath,

Since I asked your favorite RPG yesterday I'm inclined to ask this today. Have you ever played a RPG that you have wanted to rip out of the system and smash to pieces? Or if you are not quite hysterical as I am... [cough]Hoshigami[cough]... which one(s) do you like the least?

Alundra 2 and Wild ARMS 2. They make great coasters! And if you want to branch out to other genres, I disliked the action game Star Tropics. It's funny that before Hoshigami came out, a lot of people were excited about it because it looked like it could be the next FFT. Now that it's out, a lot of people hate it.

Ah, Hoshigami. Yes, I talked about that one in a previous letter. You know what I hate the most? I hate how random the damage is, even when all outside factors (position, level, status, etc.) remain the same. In that game, it seemed like I'd hit guy for about 40 damage (critical), then, in the same turn, hit another critical for 20-something damage. What's that about? While Hoshigami isn't the worst game I've ever played, it is probably the most disappointing -- right up there with Shinobi.

Also, what do you think of the newest addition to the Arc the Lad series? I have played a little of it and so far Darc's story is far superior to that of Kharg's. Do you agree?

"I will save the Deimos!"

I haven't played AtL 4 yet, but I really want to. It looks great. I can't say which one has the better story.

I haven't played it. I'd like to, as it looks kinda nice, but I'll probably wait till it's $25.

More References and Recurring Questions

Hey there,
This is a question for Heath. Yesterday when you said "And this other time, when we were playing lacrosse for San Dimas High School..." was that supposed to be a reference to The Ataris... or am I just an idiot?

Take it away, Heath!

Yes, it is an Ataris reference, and you are hereby awesome for picking it up. It is also a "Bill and Ted" reference, as that is the high school they attended. Of course, The Ataris wrote San Dimas High School Football Rules long before they sold out. Man, that pisses me off. Now one of the cooler (former) underground bands is all over MTV and stuff, and I'm gonna have to deal with 14-year-old pop girls if I ever want to see them live again.

ANow for a real question... have you guys seen the shots of Shion and KOS-MOS for Episode 2 of Xenosaga? If so what do you think? It kind of bugs me that they've redesigned everything I was hoping that the game would stay the same as far as visuals and game play go and that the plot would just keep on rolling kind of like ".Hack".

That is all...

Shion looks nice without her glasses. I want .hack.

The plot does "just keep on rolling." Perhaps not as directly as .hack, as the next Xenosaga seems to have goings-on that occur before the beginning of the game, but it is the same plot with the same characters. Granted, none of the current cast will be there after episode 4 (at the latest), but the overlying story does act as a glue similar to what the .hack project has going for it.

Sociology in Q & A

Do you believe in the theory that only asians are good at DDR? (Dance Dance Revolution for those who are slow)

Yes...or....No? *the plot thickens*

!Big "Oversized , Overweight , Downright Fat" Pumpkin!

I don't really buy into racial generalizations since I believe that there are often other factors involved. Maybe Asians spend more time practicing DDR than non-Asians?

No. If John Travolta and Olivia Newton John were still in their primes, they'd be the world champions. And then they'd say "Shoo bop, sha wally walla jingity jang ja bing" or some crap like that.

***Note: After Heath finished putting in his answers, he left to attend a punk rock concert. That was when I noticed these letters in my inbox.***

All About Weapons

I've always generally assumed the gun part of Squall's gunblade was a small firearm, but admittedly, I didn't pay too much attention to it because I didn't really enjoy FF8, never finished it, and never played it again.

At any rate, though they weren't common, and there was no common design for such a thing, the gunblade actually existed historically. Of course, the form that actually caught on was mounting a bayonet on a rifle, but inventor experimented with many, many forms of the basic concept well up until the early 20th century, if I'm not mistaken. I admit I've never seen anything quite like Squall's gunblade (which I imagine would be uncomfortable to yield both as a gun and as a sword), I've seen some similar concepts. The idea itself is feasible, but I doubt anyone ever made one comfortable for use as both gun and sword, so that's probably why it never caught on.

I've asked some other hosts this, but I tend to feel the sword gets kind of overrated in RPGs - so many characters use swords, and there are a lot of other interesting weapons out there I'd like to see used more often and at all. Are there any unusual or exotic weapons you'd like to see make it into some character's equipment sometime?


You know your history. I'm a historian myself, and I didn't even think of that. About weapons in RPGs: in the upcoming sequel to Otogi, the main character will be using fans as weapons. Jean in Lunar 2 did the same before going Bruce Lee on her old enemies. Ordinary household objects, like frying pans and umbrellas, have been used as weapons as well. One really cool weapon I'd like to see is firecrackers. Not those pansy Black Cats. I'm talking powerful stuff. That would certainly be interesting.

God Reads This Column Too

I'm surprised you did not mention Lavos as a villan who suceeded since you mentioned Chrono Trigger as one of your favorite games.
also youre not the only one who liked Secret of Evermore, I liked it due to the odd humor and a nice change of pace with the alchemy system. Although the end boss was way to easy thanks to barrier.

Oh, yeah. Lavos. His scream sends shivers up my spine. How could I forget? As for Secret of Evermore, I thought the alchemy system was pretty great as well. I had to manage my resources and carefully choose what spells to carry. And for the end boss, I just stood on the steps behind him and shot him in the back of the head with my bazooka.

A Letter From Imperial Mog Himself

Greetings (monks sing) A-LE-THEA AND HEATH
Now am I the only one who thinks it's odd how they changed the graphic style in Xenosaga for episode II? I just joked that everyone just got some major plastic surgery.
Now for wanting Kefka to deal with an effeminate male hairdresser, wouldn't Kuja work just as well?
Imperial Mog

No, you're not the only one. Somehow, I can't see Kuja doing someone's hair. I think he'd be too busy preening and admiring himself in front of the mirror.

*sigh* If only Heath was around. Darn you, Heath...and your crazy punk rock concert! I wanted to go too...

Two Questions I Can't Answer

Do you know of any trusted import game sites that will ship to Canada? Also, do you know anything about the Ys 4: Dawn of Ys anime? I recently saw the preview from the Ys 2 anime and was wondering if it was going to be a remake like Ys and Ys 2 anime. It is a remake, do you know when the original was created.

I'm sorry, but I can't help you on either one of those questions. Why don't you pose those same questions to Goog when he gets back? He seems to know about those kinds of things.

A Really Long and Enthusiastic Letter

I'm back! May as well, after all the first one was so successful. So your hosting another Q&A? That's cool, I think your cool, and the best Q&A host. Your the first when to accept my submission. Then again, Your the first one I've sent a submission to, so there you go. I was reading through your Q&A, and I wanted to comment to the guy who wrote A Really Long Letter. Oh wait, that's mine. never mind. Continuing down, or up, or somewhere (I lost my sense of direction...) you will get to a part concerning best Villain. They said it was Kefka, you disagreed, and listed other names. Well here's my opinion, Kefka is a stupid little clown, and should join the circus, along with the AlbinoMonkeyKing, because, hey that's something you don't see everyday. I think you guys should give Sephiroth more Credit. I mean, he's like a demi-god, only he isn't. Plus, he's Uber cool, like Luke Perry cool, only older, and less cool. Well we're on the topic of Luke Perry, he rocks in the Mini-series Jeremiah, so watch it, you hear? Anyway, back to the villain thingy. Oh really, who cares about best villain. It's obvious that will be debated till the end of time, there's no point in even thinking about it. The real question is, what came first, the monkey, or the Banana. Ahem, taking a more serious nature, I have a question...I just can't think of one yet. While we're on the topic of Miniseries, Children of Dune was another good one. So, I tried to do stuff with my website, but it just isn't the same, no one ever comes, and it make making a website a lot more excruciating if you know that no one ever reads what you are writing. So I gave it over to my Co-administrator, after all, one mans garbage is another mans treasure. How often do you guys put out hiring calls, and how would I know if you did so, I.E. where would I find this hiring call you speak of. Though I guess you get hundreds of people asking, so I'm probably not likely to get a position, but still I would try, because trying is the better part of Valour. Well that's all I can think of for today so, good series, and If you don't post this, I'll more then understand, it is very off topic, and makes no sense what so ever.

From WingcommanderIV

I'm glad you liked how Heath and I did the column. Thanks! As for your question, we put out hiring calls every now and then when someone leaves the staff or we feel there is a need for more help. Our calls are not secret, as we post them on the main page for all to see. We get quite a few applications, but it never hurts to try. I was rejected as a fanfiction reader here before I was hired as a newsie.


I just wanted to let you both know you dd an awesome job hosting yesterday! Keep up the good work!

The Vigilant Sidekick

Alethea: Thanks! If only Heath were here to respond to this...

Last Words:

Alethea: Well, it's been fun hosting Q & A for the past two days. Tomorrow, Andrew Duff will return to brighten the column with his own unique brand of charm.

Heath: Well that was interesting. Maybe I'll come back some day, but till then, I'm going to get back to news and preview writing. If I don't write news soon, I'm going to forget how.

The Magical Feminist Wonder
Cortney "Back to News for me" Stone -

Heath "Back to prison for me" Hindman -

This column is a lot of work! Hope I get a break in quota for it...

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