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Andrew - January '18- 12:00 Central Standard Time

Thankfully, the column is much shorter today, and by all the fan letters, I can tell you readers really enjoyed Teiohís guest appearance.

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What's Andrew watching this week?
Nuku Nuku!
What's Andrew playing this week?
*Drooling over the new Castlevania game.

Are you a bad/pathetic enough dude to seduce anime babes?

Hi Andrew...again!

Jeez! I can't believe that nobody thought of that scene in Thousand Arms where Nelsha and Ratchet get into that big bitch fight for a O_o moment. I resetted several times to play that scene over and over. Ratchet: *singsong* Oh-oh, Mr. Sou-shi. Looks like you're gonna have to fight your friends. Or how about when Bandiger steals Marion's Trap Generator? How about Marion in general? Bandiger anyone?

Screw it. Thousand Arms was just one big O_o period.

As for this week's topic.... Hybrid Heaven. The whole platform/wrestling/kung-fu/RPG concept just didn't work. It tried to be too many things and failed because of that.

Oh, and as for who had the most darling tent in FF6? Everyone knows it was Relm.

Mixtzin

P.S. Why don't you bring Thor on as a guest host? Everbody loves Thor.

Andrew:
1. Like the vast majority of people, I was a bit leery about the idea of a shallow RPG where you gain new skills by seducing women. Of course, by the time I decided to buy Thousand Arms it was all sold out. Stupid, greedy perverts.

2. True, everyone loves Thor. Too bad heís busy gender mixing and fighting ninjas to guest host. Perhaps one day...

 
Final Fantasy + Anything = Crap.

Hey Andrew,

So, hybrid games. Well, this is actually something that I've been thinking about for a long time, and there are three concepts floating around my brain that I just have to play at some point in my life.

First is a mix of Soul Calibur and an RPG. Can you even begin to imagine how cool it would be to do battle via Soul Calibur's awesome system in an RPG? Of course, this game would have limited random encounters, but it would be nice to be levelled up and hand some lackey his ass from time to time. Imagine a Rurouni Kenshin game with this sort of system. Roam the land, kick some ass, make friends and play a part in important social and political events.

The second hybrid that I froth at the mouth for, regularly, is a real driving RPG. Something along the lines of Gran Turismo or Auto Modellista meets Final Fantasy. It could be set in the present of the future, and have a real story, but also involve beating the baddies in races. You could take the standard racing game ideas and modify them. Instead of just earning an awesome new part, you could earn money racing people, the head off in search of some gure mechanic who would fashion it for you.

Lastly, though this is related to the previous one, I would love to play a sports RPG, like Hot Shots Golf or Virtua Tennis, just with an interesting storyline. I can think of numerous interesting scenarios that could be presented. Sure, winning the championship and making friends and enemies along the way might not be too dramatic, but it would sure be a helluva lot of fun.

I understand that theses games could not be too broad in scope (how the hell are you going to save the world playing tennis?!), but I think that they could be awesome if done properly. The archetypal RPG storyline is so cliched by now that I would go for just about anything dramatically different.

Alex

Andrew:
1. I like the idea of a fighter RPG, but Iíd prefer a game that was more focused on fighting, and level gaining, then the traditional world roaming of a hero. Mostly because random battles would suck if you had to fight flunkies one on one, over and over again. Now, fighting mass groups of weak enemies...ehehe. METEO!

2. See, another great mix. Youíre just hung up on the whole storyline thing. RPG elements are cool, but I honestly canít think of a GOOD reason to go car racing. Perhaps if you had a mystic car from the future, who needed you to collect parts and find an ancient mechanic to rebuild it, and then fight the decepticons...argh. >_<

3. Or you could just play Blitzball in Final Fantasy 10.

You just pointed out the flaw with your other ideas. A mixture of Final Fantasy and ďinsert genre hereĒ? Are you kidding? I donít want an angst ridden anti-hero ruining my unique game! And I donít want the protagonist to grow up in an orphanage with all the characters! Back story = Evil for other genres!

 
Sportís games suck. Whoís surprised?

Andrew

This is going to sound completely stupid, but I think the games that could use RPG elements the most are traditional sports games. I have a friend who buys every new NBA Live that comes out, and ever time he does, he complains constantly about the glitches. The basketball goes through your hand, you don't hit any shots (despite having the best shooting average in the game), yada yada yada...In short, the only way these games can actually beat you or pose any challenge is if they cheat. I propose that, if you were able to build your characters, if those statistics actually meant something, and if they all-in-all removed the glitches(I know they put them in there on purpose. EA Sports is not that bad of programmers, surely they know how to make it so basketballs don't go through people's chests) and replaced them with some stat gaining and meaningful statistics for the all the teams (instead of making it so that every single player can hit every shot just because they want to compete with you), they could make a sports game I might actually not hate. I use too many parentheses, don't I?

Anyway, I have a pretty entertaining worst-rpg moment. I had just spent about 2 hours gaining materia levels in FF7 and all of a sudden this wave of arrogance overcame me. I mean, I had just fought battles for 2 hours without getting hit, and I had just gotten my first master summon. So, to take a break from just hitting things or whatever, I decided to have a little fun. By the way, I was in the part of the last dungeon that had the magic pots. So I run into an Ahriman (I think that's what the big floating eyeballs were called. The translations change for a lot of games, so I'm not sure. [allemange sounds like a disease if you ask me]) I decided to use my brand new master summon to inflict some pain. Plus I hadn't watched any neato animations for a while. So I used Bahamut Neo on one, and Bahamut Zero on the other (I was attacked from both sides). After the Neo animation, the thing was still alive, and it counterattacked with some weird attack. I didn't know they did that! After the Zero animation, the other one was still alive too (I thought Zero was supposed to be stronger!) and he decided to use Level 3 death. Needless to say, my entire party was at level 99...

So now Ahrimans are the only monsters in the game I am afraid of, and I never ever ever use summon spells unless it's Knights of the Round. The moral of the story is, flashy animations are bad, don't ever be tempted to watch one as it will result in your death.

I lost my master summon :( Do I need a question? I'm sure you have enough to make fun of with just those two things...

Here's one. Do I have to preorder zelda a special way to get the goodies, or can I just go to a local store like Software Etc? Is it exclusive to only certain stores?

Tim, gigantormous fan of all things Megaman.

Andrew:
Iím not a fan of sportís game. Maybe because Iím slightly more athletic then your average gamer, but I actually prefer going outside and actually playing a sport as opposed to playing video games where my team canít catch. While your ideas do hold merit, Iím guessing youíd prefer a Sportís game with decent hit detection over one with some cool RPG elements. One of the reasons RPGs make such a good genre mixer is because the idea has been done to death, while most genres still have uncharactered territory. How about a shooter that doesnít have spaceships? Parappa with a microphone, so you can really rap? DDR, where the on screen dancers actually follow your steps? The list goes on, with simple, fun ideas, that havenít been exploited yet.

2. Thatís pretty pathetic man. At least you learned a valuable lesson. Never summon dragons inside a tiny cave, theyíll kill everyone within a 50 yards, including themselves.

3. You can preorder the game anywhere and still get the goodies, but if you want the really cool swag, youíll also have to sign for Zelda in blood. Then you get an authentic piece of Zelda's hair, with its very own plaque!

 
PC, D&D?

Concerning the column's current main subject, which seems to be "RPG + [another genre]" mix, I must say that Mike Lemmer's idea of mixing RPG elements in shoot them up games sounds pretty exciting.

And, on a related note, concerning Andrew Bartkus remark on conceptual similarities/differences between what we call RPGs, and Adventure games (does he refer here to static "point and click"/"text adventure" games, or to Action/Exploration games, with real time fights, puzzles, dialogs and cutscenes? I cannot really tell)... I'm not personally interested in the whole "genre naming" debate, but rather in the gameplay elements that can be used (or not) to qualify genres and categorize games.

Purely gameplay-wise, I'd say RPG (especially console RPG. As far as gameplay is concerned, I'm under the impression that the PC RPG sub-genre could almost be considered as a whole different genre, and since I'm not a specialist I won't talk about those) tend to focus mainly on battle : levels, stats, items, skills, ... All that customizable stuff has for only objectives beating up your enemies and protecting/healing your party. Although the world and characters play a great role in the story, there is very little real interaction with those background and people (Sure, you can come near an object/person and press X to trigger a predetermined action, but that's about all).

On the other hand, the "point and click" games allow a great variety of interaction with the background (and the items you've got in you're inventory) and the other characters (large choice of selectable answers in a conversation). Finally, what I call Action/Exploration games (such as, say, Zelda. Or Soul Reaver) borrow aspects from both genre, adapting them to a more action-oriented frame : the various objects and special powers you gain can be used to interact with the background (usually, opening new ways to explore) or to fight enemies.

The third last episodes in the Castlevania series seem to me good examples of a fine mix between RPGs and Action/Exploration games.

I wonder if the same thing could be made with RPG and "point and click" games... or maybe even a mix of all three genres ? In my mind, such a mix would be what comes closer to the original "pen and paper RPG" concept : a story-driven game, in which playing a role means you can explore and interact pretty freely with your surroundings, develop somewhat meaningful discussions with other characters, fight them, too, of course, and finally have your character's skills/stats/whatever evolve depending on its actions. In such a system, depending on the player's choices of action (and the individual skills of the playable character(s)) and/or the nature of the mission, gameplay can eventually focus equally on beating the crap out of monsters to save your life, simply investigating an area and questioning (and threatening, bribing, seducing, manipulating, etc.) people to solve a mystery, using your skills and surroundings (interactive background elements) to infiltrate a place without being noticed, etc.

Do you think this could be feasible, and, more importantly, would be enjoyable in a video game ? Do you know of any attempts at such a mix ?

Entr0pi3

Andrew:
Deus Ex and Morrowind are probably the closest matches to your three genre dream game, though they certainly arenít point and click. There are plenty of point and click game creation engines out there too, so your project is theocratically possible, though I canít think of anyone who would attempt it.

 
With a name like that, heís got to be good.

Sup...

So I saw someone wondering about MP in the Tactics Ogre games. You always start with 0 MP, and it recovers by a set amount each round in battle. This way, without using MP recovery items, you can't cast uber-spells immediately. It is all part of the strategy in the game. Though I never liked magic in that game very much. A high magic defense on a warrior, preferrably a level 45+ main character who was a ninja, then switched to the Lord class, kills everything. Seriously, I walked into random battles against 8 dragons, walked out without a scratch, with just the main character.

Have you played the Four Swords yet? That game is so evil. My friend and I were linked up, and instead of working together, we constantly threw each other into the sky at Vaati's palace. The best part is that we were only one room away from the end of the level. But no, making sure that we would be the other was more important. I was more cut-throat though, winning all the medals from the previous stages. Heh heh heh.

And as for Dungeons and Dragons. DMs are the most important part. I prefer playing in homebrewed worlds that are well thought out. Dragonlance has too much "canon," to be fun to play in in my opinion. Though the new Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman trilogy is fantastic. How often do you read a 550 page book in two sittings?

How long do you think it'll be before we see a mainstream rpg from Square that actually has a real game buried somewhere beneath the FMV sequences? I remember when the FMV was a treat for accomplishing something gameplay wise, not when gameplay was a reward for sitting through long cinematic sequences.

~Evil DM

Andrew:
Thanks for clearing up the Tactics Ogre MP question.

1. Sadly, I can find no one willing to engage in a game of Four Swords with me, probably for the cut-throat aspect you mentioned, and that I have a nasty habit of kicking people just before they beat me.

2. Good point with the cinematics. Iíd rather have addictive game play over story any day. If I want story, I gots my books and mys soap operas.

 
Books are sorta RPGs. Er...right?

Duffman,

First of all, you are the only host to ever print every letter I've sent in. But unfortunately I'm a guy and not 'that way'. So lets get to the meat of the topic.

Would you considered the Lord of the Rings (Two Towers especially) video games as RPGs? True, they are Action based. But so was Adventure of Link. You level up in the same waym using your skill points to buy upgrades (for arrows, weapons, life, or combos) and obviously it has a story to it. In my opinion, it's one of the best example I've seen of mixing RPG elements into another genre of gaming.

You know, that perfectionist cutrabbit won't answer my calls anymore, despite me pointing out every nitty gritty mistake you make. It makes me sad.

-Irritable in Indiana

Andrew:
Lord of the Ringís games are NOT RPGs. Zelda games are NOT RPGs. Story does not make an RPG, otherwise all games are RPGs. Upgrades, no matter what is used to purchase them, do not mean the game is an RPG. I really donít see what youíre talking about with this one, IiI.



Quickies

Doesn't it bother anyone that a movie is coming out with the cool-name-from-Xenogears, "Solaris", and that it's just a cheesy love story?

Gianpiero Ciammaricone

YES! IN FACT, I WAS SOOOOOOOO ANGRY, I WROTE AN INDIGNANT LETTER TO THE CREATORS OF THE MOVIE AND POSTED ON VARIOUS NEWSGROUPS ABOUT HOW MAD I AM! BEND TO THE WILL OF THE NERD.

Ever play Beyond Oasis? I'm pretty sure that was the old sega game where you acquire a magic glove. It seems to have disappeared from the universe though. If you have it I would dish out large sums of money for it. Thanks

-AlbinoMonkeyKing

My son, you must head out to lands far to the...uh...east! To Ebay, wanderer! There yee shall find thy treasure!

To fat fat, you must cut clean. Take the elevator to the Mezanine duct, change, and it's on, Super Bon Bon Super Bon Bon." -Doughty

Just thought you might like to know that.

Donít make me ram my finger through your skull.

For a shooter with more RPG elements, though none of them really have a story, you should check out Tyrian (an OLD PC shooter), or Mars Matrix (Dreamcast). If you want one that tries REALLY hard but still sucks there is always Sol Divide.

-Adam

Why thank you, kinda reader, for directing me to old, hard to find games!

And as for things that made me go 'huh?' in RPGs, how about Phantasy Star III. All of it. But especially a line from one of the Layans in that hidden world: "This princess is Laya's sister; strangely enough, her name is also Laya." o_O I turned it off right there and went back to being lost on Dezoris in Phantasy Star I.

Considering how many poorly translated games there are, I suppose youíre still playing Phantasy Star 1.

The Final Grumble:

Hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday wandering around in the cold, and not attempting to read several hundred pages of class work.

Andrew "great teacher" Duff

Nintendo. I love them for GBA, and hate them for canning Earthbound.

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