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Amish - September 29 '02- 3:00 Central Standard Time

Whoops - a slight change in plans. This is Paul "Amish" Koehler from the reviews department. Our usual weekend Inbox hosts have been detained for the time being, so - once again, I return to fill the void.

Tomorrow, Googleshng will return as normally scheduled. Until then, enjoy my hackneyed attempt at an Inbox takeover (and efforts in answering the reader's queries) - all being done with a staff review, section update, homework, and dealings with women...whew!

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Digging around in the old collection.

Hey Google,
How's it going? Quick question for ya, I have the three following games laying around, simply wondering which one I should play first? Grandia 1, Xenogears and Legend of Mana. Just tell me which you liked most, and which you liked least.
Thx for your time,


In very quick order, Xenogears, then Grandia 1, then Legend of Mana. Xenogears is a large epic, and will take you a considerable amount of time to finish (around 60-80 hours). Even though it is a PlayStation title that is often sold used for $40, you will get your money's worth. Grandia deserves credit for its unique battle system, though if you have a PS2, try checking out the latest game in the series - Grandia Xtreme. Although some will debate my decision to put Legend of Mana last on this list, I will stick to my guns and say it is the inferior of the three titles you mentioned. It's got great music, great visuals, and some interesting gameplay - but it's blasphemy to the rest of the Seiken Densetsu titles. (dons flameproof suit)

Retro vs. New-School RPGs, among other things

Dear Goog,
I've been wondering exactly what reviewers and gamers alike desire from an RPG. As time has gone on, the games have become more and more interactive movies. That's fine, and I'd accept that, but then I constantly hear whines about difficulty level and combat being boring. Those elements are primarily part of dungeon crawler games, a remnant of the older days of gaming. Its hard to have a strong story driven plot that would allow for enjoyable complex fighting systems and the enjoyableness of item and skill collection. Stories cause linearity in the game, and having the long drawn out fighting sequences between 'story' aspects would only weaken the plot or cause confusion (i.e. Xenogears). There have been great hybrid games over the years, Vagrant Story being a great example. Some people will complain that the fighting was too hard, the story too splintered by fighting, not enough save points, bosses too hard, etc. Others will complain about the limited numbers of items and equipment, greatly reducing the replay value and overall exploration. The game modified this with dungeons that could be opened starting the game over, but it was nothing in comparison to a true dungeon crawler. Strong, difficult fighting systems with integrated item/skills collection are not mutually exclusive with a good story(i.e. FFVI), but they will definitely limit the amount of story sequences and character development. I guess my main point is that people should learn to appreciate games for what they accomplish and not worry so much about the overall games' value. If you enjoy a long, challenging fighting system, find a dungeon crawler and buy one and whack away till your hearts content. If you want story, then there is absolute no lack of RPG's with great stories. Good hybrids are hard to make and rare, appreciate them. Just don't whine when the dungeon crawler doesn't have enough story, that's redundant.

When those succesful hybrids do come out, it also needs to gain enough publicity to sell a lot of titles - or gain a significant enough fan base to help game designers realize that they've hit a winning formula. Fortunately for RPGamers, the bottom line is not completely convincing companies - yet. Even the most hyped and over-promoted games that turn out to be utter garbage are seen that way by gamers, and word gets around fast. Hey, that's why we're here - to keep this debate going ;P

Kingdom Hearts - Demystifying Disney and Square

Hey Google, sup!?
One quick question.
When I first saw Kingdom Hearts on the net, I thought it was gonna be a little to kiddie for my taste, untill I saw it advritised on TV. Now I'm not so sure. I know it isn't one of squares most mature titles, but I need to know, is Kingdom Hearts a kiddie game in your opinion?

~Night Walker~

I just saw the TV advertisements myself for the first time tonight, and was ... interested. If the playable demos at E3 were any indication, the game looks to be fairly challenging, if slightly "immature" (when comparing this to some of the more traditional Squaresoft titles). While I haven't picked it up yet myself, if our message boards and staff review help provide more insight, kiddie or not - it's a challenge. Out of the current titles this Fall, it looks pretty good.


Has Working Designs ever dropped prices? If so when is Arc the Lad gonna go down? Even if I get store credit I still have to pay almost $60. That would be alot considering I am only 16 with no job yet. Will the price ever drop?

In the case of the Arc collection - it probably won't drop in price anytime soon. Working Designs spent an enormous amount of time localizing those games and setting everything into the collection, and considering the sheer amount of gameplay in those three titles - $60 isn't too bad of a deal.

The Last Laugh:

Never underestimate the power of caffeine, and the humiliation of getting your arse whooped in Tekken 4. And to continue my horrible tradition:
**shameless plug** Check out Points of View's latest update!**end shameless plug**

Amishchief "Who hates Paul Phoenix"

The arcade machines are a different story altogether.

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