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Andrew - January '25- 1:00 Central Standard Time

Since todayís column focuses on games people hate that you probably love, I suggest we all take this column with a grain of salt, and not get over emotional. Thatís for next week.

SO LET THE FLAME WAR BEGIN! AHAHAHAHAHA!

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Hyped Sin.

Argh! The ONE game I looked forward to more than anything else in recent memory was Final Fantasy X. Every day I would go online looking up information, pictures, production news, ANYTHING just for a glimpse at the game. And I was so damned excited when I picked it up. I put in my PS2, and played it. And all was good. Up until I got to Macalenia and fought him.

Now don't get me wrong, I loved the characters, the game system, the battles, and indeed, even Blitzball grew on me after a while. But I play Final Fantasy for all that, but moreso the storyline. And at that point in the game, I wanted to just kinda put my controller down and not touch it. A world where people can choose if they die or not? Where a summoner has to stop Sin, but "don't worry, there's about ten other summoners out there who could do it for you if you don't wanna." Argh! That game's storyline was CRAP! And thus, the game is the biggest let down EVER.

Now Vagrant Story... THERE'S a game with story....

-Kevin

Andrew:
The plot was pretty silly, wasnít it? So you know that I just canít wait for the sequel! Finally, the characters look as stupid as they act! Bikini Bimbos...\

 
Nuke it.

On the topic of disappointment,

I'd have to say I was most crused by Hoshigami. I was truly expecting something similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. Unfortunately, the only thing Hoshigami had going for it was the session system. Nowadays, I wonder if Atlus themselves started the "Hoshigami has the same team as FFT" rumor, after realizing they were to release a godawful, horrid piece of crap. I also wonder what possesed them to invest in such a terrible game. They must have not tested the game, seeings how obvious it is that Hoshigami is horrible and unplayable.

-Traks

Andrew:
I stayed away from Hoshigami for the exact reasons you bought it. All the rumors were too convoluted, and when it did come out, I didnít hear anything good about it.

*sigh* I hope Final Fantasy Tactics 2 lives up to the original...we need another great tactics game.

And no, Tactics Ogre doesnít count. Freaks.

 
Finally, a title for me that doesnít have the world, ďsarcasticĒ in it.

Andrew the Magnificent

Games that I was looking forward to and was sorely disappointed:

Saga Frontier. Did they even try to balance monster difficulty with character strength? I don't know how many super-strong monsters I fought at the beginning of the game.

Parasite Eve 2. I looked at the screenshots and said, "Oh man, we're getting a real Resident Evil RPG this time!" The problem was, we did get a real Resident Evil RPG, and I realized what a terrible idea that really is.

Final Fantasy 9. I just didn't like 9. Oh well.

Legend of Dragoon. Everyone was talking about Sony's "Final Fantasy killer." (I also heard that about Wild Arms). The timing system wasn't a bad idea, but still, the battles took too long if you didn't have timing, and the story was so contrived. I remember one encounter with Lloyd (one of the worst villain names ever)... I just ran up to him and he said something like, "It was I who killed someone or yada yada!" or whatever... No dialogue before this, no actions on my part to signal his revalation. He just blurted it out for the sake of advancing the plot.

Hey, there's a bad RPG trend, by the way... trying to get me to care about the main character's sissy little problems.

As for things that made me go 0_o in an rpg (btw, I prefer ^_~ cause I arch my eyebrow a lot), how about those voices for the familiars in Castlevania: SOTN? Not to bash the game or anything (definitely one of the top 3 games ever made), but when I heard "Hmm... look! A switch! I'd better press it!" I just kinda went "huh?" And the fairy goin' "There is something strange... about this wall!" And the sword talked too... Of course, this is all probly just weird because it stopped the music to do it. Plus the overall voice acting sucked.

Dang, now I'm gonna have to play through that game again, as if I didn't already have enough games to play.

So, Andrew, ever played Way of the Samurai?

Yours wordily,
Tim, the Curiously Sexy (TM) Pirate

Andrew:
Saga Frontier- What were you expecting? It was a hard game, and you needed a little luck in getting skills. Iím sorry that you sucked at it.

Parasite Eve 2- I donít know how Square could of let that game be released without doing something to the awful directional controls. When walking is a pain, how can they expect the players to have fun?

Final Fantasy 9- Explain, or Iíll hit you with a stick.

Legend of the Dragoon- Another game I waited on, and when it got merely average scores, I let it slide on by.

What is a man? A miserable pile of secrets! But enough talk! HAVE AT YOU!

I rented Way of the Samurai. It was decent. Your thoughts?

 
XTREME! CAUSE WEíRE ďXĒTRA STUPID!

Hello there,

This is about what I consider to be possibly the worst let down I've had in gaming. It goes by the name of Grandia Extreme. This game looked great and was getting good reviews, but it's like all grandia games, bad. Why is it that some games like these, which are just plain horrible, get tons of followers?

-Lazarus

Andrew:
Youíve got to be kidding me. With a title like that, how could you expect anything good? And judging from the sales of the Grandia, people happen to enjoy the series. I canít figure out why you bought the first Grandia, hated it, and then bought the other two. Anal retentive, arenít ya?

 
Call me Nit-picker.

Hey Andrew,

To the reader who mentioned the FF1 and DW1 manuals:

DW1's US release's explorer's handbook was not actually its "manual." It had another, separate manual which was the usual dimensions NES game manuals were. The explorer's handbook was an additional pack-in, which may have either been exclusive to the Nintendo Power subscription deal, or maybe was included with all copies. Anyways, the explorer's handbook was actually basically written up by Nintendo, not by Enix.

The FF1 US release's manual IS in fact the explorer's handbook. When FF1 was released in the U.S., Nintendo themselves did the translating and the busywork in bringing it here for the most part, including writing up that explorer's handbook.

So both explorer's handbooks were written by Nintendo, not by those companies. That would be why they're so similar :).

Question, to validate this letter's existence somewhat: FF7 or FF8? And why? Just wanted to see your thoughts.

Ismail

Andrew:
Fascinatingly useless info there, Ismail. Thanks.

Final Fantasy 7, because mini-games, a clever magic system, and intense heroes shouldnít be replaced with acid-filled anti-heroes, painfully stupid card games, and basically pointless leveling.

 
Football fans read my column? SHOCK.

Hey Andrew,

How's things been? Sorry I couldn't send you a letter every week like I promised...I went home for the holidays and my parents don't have much in the way of internet connections.

1: I've decided to give my RPG a rest and work on other projects (namely, a novel based on ancient mythology). I'm sure I'll return to the RPG at one point or another, but right now I'm at a 'dead end' in my game's story...I have no idea what should happen to my heroes next.

2: Vagrant Story was definately the game that most disappointed me. There were a few RPGs that I dislike more...FF5, Legend of Legaia and Dark Cloud are some examples. I expected far more from Vagrant Story, though, considering the hype surrounding it. I only remember reading that it was one of the only games to get a perfect score in a tough-grading Japanese magazine, but that was enough to get me excited. I'll give Vagrant Story the props it's due...the graphics were pretty nice, the atmosphere was well-done and the storyline was decent enough. However, the game's weapon customization system just plain sucked. I'd spend fifteen minutes upgrading a sword and do 3 or 4 HP damage per hit on a boss! I even ended up buying a strategy guide that told me where every friggin' item in the game was and that still didn't solve the problem. My Vagrant Story experience can be summed up as BLAH.

3: By the way, I'm not sure whether or not ICO is considered an RPG or not (it didn't exactly have any of the traditional HP / MP elements), but my ICO experience was the exact opposite. That is, I expected a sub-par game when I bought it for 10 bucks from a friend (who told me it sucked). I played it and fell in love. Sure, you don't get to lay the smack-down on tons of enemies, but ICO was a real piece of art...it conveyed a kind of realistic mood, a feeling that you could actually be there. I don't think I've ever played a game where I felt such a bond between two characters despite the fact that the male and female protagonists say about...what, 3 lines to each other? My advice to anyone who might buy it is to ~*not*~ buy the strategy guide...the game is a series of puzzles, and having the guidebook effectively gives you the answers without allowing you the chance to solve them for yourself.

But damn, ICO was great. One of my favorite games, period, even though it was far too short, and the ending wasn't perfect. It's a shame it only sold 85,000 or so copies.

4: One short question for you. Who do you think is going to win Super Bowl XXXVII? My money's on the Bucs, though I'm not a fan of either team.

Best Regards,

~ Bryan "Ace" ~

Andrew:
1. Your heroes should meet a wise cracking wise man who gets them on their way and seduces the main heroine.

2. I liked Vagrant Story, and I really tried really hard to enjoy it. TOO BAD THE OVERLY COMPLICATED BATTLE SYSTEM MADE THE GAME AS PAINFUL AS SHOVING NAILS THROUGH MY WRISTS.

3. Ico sounds pretty cool. Normally, Iím leery of any game where the hero has horns, but if I see it in the bargain bin, Iíll pick it up.

4. The real winners are the viewers, who get to watch free football and have hundreds of million dollar commercials shoved into their faces.

 
Spank your monkey. Your bad, bad monkey.

Black and White for PC was one of the most over-hyped games ever. I participated on the pre-release message boards and everything, learning all sorts of things about the game and why it was going to be so revolutionary. I watched the countdown timer day after day, eagerly anticipating the release date. I had always wanted a god-sim that gave the player as much control as Black and White. What I ended up with was a crappy real-time strategy game. What that game needed was a pure sandbox mode with a rewards system like SimCity. Perhaps the sequal will be a bit better.

-Ari

Andrew:
You always take a chance with a game made by Peter Molyneaux. The Dungeon Keeper series was great, but even then, his games have a very unique twist that people either love or hate. Hopefully his next game, where you take the role of the god of the sea monkeys, will be a big hit.

 
The quest for a paladin.

I noticed that you often refer to obscure SNES-era Enix RPGs in your columns. I was wondering if you've ever played Paladin's Quest. I have been looking for that game for some time now, but I wanted to get positvie feedback before breaking down and finally buying it.

As for your question, I'd have to say that I am rarely let down by the games I anticipate. One notable exception is Final Fantasy 5, which I didn't play until it was released in the Anthology package. I didn't hate the game. Quite the contrary, actually. It was just...underwhelming. I bet if I played the game when it was first released, the experience would have been far greater. Then again, I've made that observation about many of the older games that I've bought...

MacDowell, Thane of Brewster

Andrew:
While I have heard of Paladinís Quest, and seen screen shots of it, I never actually saw it in stores, and thought it never made it to the US. If you find a copy, go for it, if only for the rarity value. Have any readers played Paladinís Quest? We could use some feed back here.

Final Fantasy 5 was a great game for its time, but the move to Playstation didnít go smoothly, and Square didnít bother to buff up any of the rough edges. So yeah, it was underwhelming, like all the Final Fantasy games we didnít get.

 
Morrowind + X-box = X-Crap.

The game that let me horribly, horribly down was Morrowind 3 for the XBox. I read reviews on how it was such a great game, what a great world to explore, blah blah blah. So I boot it up, and I'm greeted with horrible graphics, a studdering frame rate, and the most pathetic excuse for combat I've seen in a while. The graphics bothered me so much I litterally got motion sickness playing it in the first person view mode. It doesn't matter how big the world is either, if it's still just as boring and dull as the first five or so hours. The best thing about this game was that I traded it back in for a copy of Warcraft 3. Not even Parasite Eve 2 let me down this much...

Andrew:
Donít know what to tell you, man. Itís a great game for the PC, and Iím not really sure why you got the X-Box version if youíre computer is powerful enough to run Warcraft 3.

 
Polite letter. Thumbs up!

Hello,

The only game that really let me down in quite some time is Seiken Densetsu: Legend of Mana. The first game in the series that I played was Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2). I was astounded by the game, and through it I was introduced to the world of RPGs. The 436 in my "name" comes from a password in the game, as it's really a backwards 634 tacked onto a backwards "barry." I got Final Fantasy Adventure a.k.a. Seiken Densetsu a few years later, and I was surprised to find that it was the first game in the series. Being the fanatic that I am, I got Seiken Densetsu 3 in an online auction, and I was able to experience the story through emulation (a case of ethics and the law not aligning, but I don't feel I hurt anyone). I was ecstatic when I heard about Legend of Mana, but I was sure in for a shock.

I'm not saying Legend of Mana isn't a good game, but I set pretty strict expectations. I expected an "epic" quest similar to the quests in the first three games. I expected a magic system similar to that of the first three games. I expected characters as developed as those in the first three games. Most of all, I expected multiplayer options as strong as found in the last two previous games of the series. Instead of feeling like the rest of the games, it feels entirely different! You can't even face up and down! In addition, if you die your progress is practically unhampered!

I expected more of the same, and found an extremely unique game with only a few similarities to its "siblings." I'm not that hard to please, but I still think that Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2) is one of the best games of all time. While I don't dislike Legend of Mana, it disappointed me more than any other game because I was expecting a huge dosage of nostalgia. Truthfully, my favorite part of the game is the main song. Of course, I only played it for about four hours total. Perhaps someday I'll play it again, but I don't feel inclined to any time soon.

On an entirely different note, I am strongly considering a purchase of Skies of Arcadia Legends. I was dead set in my decision before you blasted the game. My favorite part of a game is the story. Is the story of the game at least "above average?" Oh well, looks like I'll just have to read a few reviews of the game. Not that reviews are universally correct or incorrect.

-yrrab436 PS: I tried putting in HTML tags, as I think a Q&A host requested of emails some time ago, but I apologize if the abomination that is AOL makes the message a garbled mess.

Andrew:
Those html tags saved me so much time Iím sticking your letter in at the last second. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

1. Youíre right. As much as I disliked Legend of Mana, my hatred mainly stems from how little it had in common with its Super Nintendo and Game Boy counterparts. LoM wasnít a bad game, it just didnít live up to the Mana series, and I think most people were very disappointed by that.
2. I didnít find SoAís storyline to be anything out of the ordinary. Let me explain in simple RPG terms. Youíre the daring, headstrong hero, and with your spunky side kick, you rescue a mysterious princess/mystic/whatever and go off to collect some sacred stones before the bad guys do.

So, atypical plot line, although the whole story takes place on floating islands and pirate ships that fly. Which is a cool idea, just not all that great in SoA.



Quickies

Hey Andrew,

Greatest RPG letdown of all time in 3 words...

"Legend of Mana"

dios muchacho,

Eric Beck

Hey! Letís take a beloved series, rip out any possible main story, and get rid of the battle system everyone loved in favor of one that rips the action apart! And while weíre at it, lets go burn down the orphanage!

It saddens me to see that Square still insists on referring to "Gilgamesh the Mighty" as "Clash on the Big Bridge."

Ipslore the Red

It saddens me to see that my readers are concerned with such trivial matters as song titles.

The Final Grumble:

Saved a big stack of letters for Sundayís column. Since Iím not much of a football fan, I figure Iíll compete directly with the most widely watched show on the planet with a huge column. Take that corporate America.

Oh, and it seems pretty clear that 90% of you hate Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy 8. Iíll deal with you lot tomorrow.

Andrew "I stabba you good" Duff

Google has been tearing me a new one about bashing SoA. It should be interesting to hear what he has to say about the game come monday.
TRC was here >.>

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