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C-Chan, we could go a long way, you and I. But we ainít going a long way, because I think youíre a man and Iím living in Japan. So send me a picture and Iíll see about shipping you over, mail order bride style. (ie- In a refrigerator box filled with packing peanuts.)

 Heeeeeeeeello South America!

Brazil salutes you, Andrew! There are some of us in Japan, find them and you will have the best friends ever!

Actually, I know a Brazilian guy at Kansai Gaidai, and yes, heís a pretty good guy/roaring drunk wife beater.

My question is simple: When is RPG going to improve again? I mean, since all those 3d stuff, renderization, real time graphics, matrix, blah blah blah started, they seemed to forgot the storyline, with some respectable exceptions: Vagrant Story, Xenogears, FF8..

All the games you just listed suck. ;_;

Well, since the playstation life ended, we're stuck in graphics' show and poor storylines (at leats I think so, that's my opinion). Damn it, where are we all going?

Just make a post and ask for other players opinion - I'm sure that will appear some guys that must switch to FFVI and Lunar for some time in order to keep the RPG feeling burning alive.

There are plenty of great games out right now! Like Disgaea, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and...wait. Youíre in Brazil. I bet all the games you just listed just came out! Haha! Whew, I feel better now. Donít worry South America, better games are coming, like Final Fantasy 9, 10, and Final Fantasy beach volleyball! Er, I mean Final Fantasy X

Thanks for the oportunity,

A Braziilian Gamer.


Someone wrote:

"if we ever get into another war (Japan and US), half of America's teenagers are going to their side".


And theyíll all be sent off as Kamikaze pilots, equipped with new games to keep them distracted and headed straight for the American power base...Detroit. *sob* YOU MONSTERS!

 Finally, the lesbian readers speak out!

Hi, Duffy,

Hope things are going well for you in Japan. As to your question, to live in America or Japan? After reading your Sep. 7 column I'd have to say I'll stay here in the USA.

I had no idea the Japanese were so homophobic. Being a lesbian, that will keep me here. I still believe that eventually, the "cultural" video game revolution will explode here, & there'll be the glut of merchandise that Japan has now. Of course, I also believe that eventually, there'll be a worldwide revolution that eradicates all prejudices.

I believe that one day Dance Dance Revolution will be recognized as an Olympic sport, pandas will roam free and go through my trash, and Iíll inherit a mystic guitar that lets me go on all sorts of wacky adventures. However, your beliefs sound much nicer, so Iíll add them to my list of things to wait for. Oh, and to add to your paranoia, most cases of abuse against women that are reported to police are usually hushed or poo-pooed. In a particularly messed up case, their was an orientation for women at school and the woman running it told the girls not to worry about being harassed, because itís not so bad the second time. 0_o

Don't get me wrong, I know first hand that America's pretty darn homophobic/prejudice too, but at least I know the language so I can tell the boneheads where to go!

On to an RPG question. Have you played Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits? I think Darc's storyline is superb. I won't go into a lengthly review here, but I'd say of the 50 odd RPGs I've played, it'd be in my top 10.

Interesting. I didnít like what I played at E3, but youíre another voice in a growing number of people who tell me that the game is rocking the vespa. Hrm. Well you heard her readers, the new Arc the Lad game doesnít suck!

If you go to the Toyko Game Show, please write up a story for us.


PS. Are you related to the Easter Bunny? If so, could you put in a good word for me?

I really should plan a trip out there. Itíd be a blast and a huge boon to the site, even thought I wouldnít understand most of it. Oh, and yeah, me and the Easter bunny are pretty close, but he said that youíre too old to be mooching for chocolate eggs.

 College, the Japanese way.

Aloha Andrew,

My questions isn't related to games and you're probably getting sick of questions like this by now, but I figured I'd try my hand anyways. I go to a state college in New York, and a very close-by college offers a program at Kansai Gaidai. The program I'm currently in at college requires, at some stage, an international "internship".. and I've been eyeing the Kansai Gaidai program ever since I got here. Seeing as how you're already in the program, I figured I'd ask you.

First of all, besides language courses, what type of courses are offered there? The program through the college near me says that it enters students into the Asian Studies Program, which is definitely not my major, and would basically be a lot of useless (although interesting) courses. Do they offer courses from other majors or no? I'm assuming if they do that I can work around that with the college, but if they don't, then I'll have to rethink things.

Yeah, they offer plenty of other courses. Right now Iím taking a Journalism course worth 400 level credit at my college and a Foods course worth the same. Oh, and both are really fun with little homework. Hooray for caring teachers who know how tough it is to cram learn Japanese!

Also, in terms of costs, it's supposed to be roughly thirteen grand for a full year, which isn't bad.. but how have you found the availability of financial aid to be? I realize there's usually special grants and things like that specifically for international students, however there's also the question of how regular financial aid applies.

Hrm. 13 grand...$13000?! Whew! My college has a deal that negates the $8000 tuition fee, so it was pretty cheap for me to go. There are tons of scholarships for students who travel to Japan, just try looking it up in Google. If you really want to come, the money issue shouldnít be able to stop you, since there are only 390 foreign students at Kansai Gaidai right now, so the students youíre fighting against for aid is pretty small.

I realize a lot of this stuff depends on the college you go to and their program, but any general information you could provide would be very welcome. And if you've got any other random bits of information/advice to pass along, feel free, I'd appreciate it. This whole process is pretty overbearing, and I want to get a head start on it ebfore I have to dive into all the specifics next year. Thanks a bunch.


Well, for applying, start EARLY, fill out the mountain of forms as quickly as you can, and keep your grades as high as you can the year before, because itís really important. Itís a lot of work, but trust me, itís an experience thatís worth it!

 An old fashioned giant letter, fresh from the oven! Mmm!

Hello Andrew,

You're going to school in Japan, then. Cool. There are a few of us who areburning with jealousy, not that I'm one of them or anything. Hope you're doing well!

I was going to ask if you watched Japanese TV, but you beat me to it in Sunday's column. I wonder how useful TV Japanese is educationally. Isn't a lot of it like anime Japanese--over-wrought and too informal? Anyway, are there any shows you especially like/hate?

Well, Iím naturally addicted to all the anime here, good or bad. Other Japanese shows I like are ďLetís Boogie Woogie NightĒ which involves Japanese people singing popular songs in great broken English and all sorts of bizarre special effects. Thereís also this fantastic game show where the contestants have to do really painful/stupid stuff to win. Like catch an egg launched from a catapult. Into their mouth. 0_o Really the list goes on and on, and Japanese television is one reason Iím grateful I stayed with a family, as the dorms donít have tvís in the rooms.

How are your homestay folks? Friendly, standoffish...? How big is the space you're sleeping in?

Theyíre great. The brother is a bratty crybaby, the sister is a loner, the father is never home before nightfall, and the mom is over accommodating. In short, itís easy to slide right in as the wacky older brother. ^_^ Iíve got my own room, and itís very nice for my needs, with a great view of the yard, a closet, and a real bed. Even if the pillows are made of rock, itís a very comfortable room to come home to already.

What all did you take with you, and is there anything you're missing yet(not including the gf which I kinda take as a given)? Any homesickness atall? Pining for honest-to-goodness french fries or anything like that?

Eheh. My girlfriends in the dorms, so Iím not pining for romance, but you hit the nail on the head with good old french fries. Back at my old college, I would eat at the Chinese Restaurant every chance I got. Now that I get Chinese food twice a day, I pine for McDonalds, which is actually quite good in Japan.

I'm finished grilling Andrew...for now ;)

Answering your question for this coming weekend.... The idea of being in the place of origin of all those nifty Japanese RPGs is both exciting and not-so-exciting. It's exciting to imagine having thirty, or even ten new RPGs (pulling numbers out of nowhere) to choose from each month, but not-so-exciting to imagine that bunches of them are derivative, boring trade-in fodder.

The US market does its bit to thin out the weeds for me. A new RPG is something to look forward to and put on my calendar. Most of the games that come over are pretty good, and some are the stuff of great gaming memories.

Then again who's to say, how many great, memorable games don't make it over here 'cause whoever's in charge of that kind of thing thinks they wouldn't sell more than a few copies to fannish devotees of the genre? I'd like to have more choice in RPGs than I do, and if more came out over the course of a year, I would buy more for sure. I would also pass more up, though. It'd be the same as translated manga is for me now. I can't buy 200 bucks of manga every month, so instead I buy a few titles that I really like (or think I'll like). It'd be great if there were enough RPGs, and the market for them was strong enough, that I could pick and choose among them too.

Great question!!


Great answer, Beth! And itís ironic that you used two exclamation marks...thatís the preferred way to use them in Japan. While Iíd rather have a glutted market then a poor one for my video games, I have to admit America does have it pretty good for video games, especially considering some of the other countries Iíve been hearing about since I got here from other international students. Iím feeling very sorry for all the Australians out there. YOU FOLKS NEED TO GET YOUR DOWANGERS OUR OF THE 'ROOS AND INTO GAME DESIGN, YA BUNCH OF FIZZLEWAOLERS!

 And now, a question for YOU.

I'm afraid I may have screwed myself and I was hoping you could clear this up for me. I'm in FFVI (US III) and I'm in the world of balance getting Mog's Water Rondo dance. I landed the airship in the veldt and took the serpent trench to that town, I think it's albrook. Anyway, there's no where on land to go there so I took the boat over the South Figaro where the Empire has occupied the town. So I get kicked out of the town and now I'm stuck on that side of the world map.

I don't know how to get back over to the veldt and my airship. The Walkthroughs say that it should be easy so I don't know what I'm missing. And I was a moron and saved after I got kicked out of the town so I'm stuck here unless I wanna start the game over. Can you help?


Iíve no idea, Will. Readers, little help?

 One point for Nostalgia, one for Japan, and one letter for me!

Hey Andrew,

Seeing as you've been getting accustomed to the Japanese culture there, and have been getting a sense of awareness of the language spoken day to day, what may you suggest to do, to learn Japanese efficiently?

To learn Japanese efficiently, be born into a Japanese family that lives in Japan. If that isnít an option, travel to Japan for a year and enroll in cram courses while staying with a Japanese family and practice the language as much as you can. If THAT isnít possible, well, decide what part of Japanese you want to learn, (reading/writing, speaking/listening) and pick up a good book/CD on it. I learned all of Hiragana in a week, and it looks like Iíll be set to learn all of Katakana in a week too. Unfortunately, just knowing how to pronounce and write the symbols still means you need to know what they mean in a sentence. ;_;

Also, what the heck, I'll throw in an RPG-related question. Why aren't we seeing more and more classic RPG games ported to the GBA, like Chrono Trigger or FF6? It's good that Mother 1 + 2 have made it's way onto the portable system, (not to mention the development of Mother 3) but I want more! ;-;


Ironically, you can pick up a Wonderswan and Final Fantasy 1-4 on it for less then a $100 total. As for the other ports, it should be a matter of time. Weíve got Sword of Mana to look forward to, a revamped port of Final Fantasy Adventures, coming out later this year. Eventually Square will get around to its other famous old games. So sit tight and keep your Super Nintendo handy, whiner boy!

 Japanese and their love of anime.

Ya know, every time you talk about Japan it makes me want to kill you... :D

Then why did you write a letter with nothing but questions about Japan? Silly masochist!

Just how mainstream is anime there, anyway? Does everyone, male and female, young and old watch it? Or is it mostly just younger people?

Anime in Japan takes up the 5-7 pm time slot on television, which roughly means its in the place of where most Americans watch their sitcoms. Everyone in my family has at least one favorite anime show. Really, I need to drive this home; anime in Japan is completely mainstream. Thereís manga on every news rack, and anime mixed in with regular movies and shows at rental places. Thereís nothing underground or cool about anime here, itís just part of everyday life.

Any good engrish sitings? Do people in Japan get big drops of sweat floating off the side of their face when they are nervous etc.? Do they blow snot bubbles in their sleep? How many feet taller are you than the average Japanese guy? What's the wierdest videogame related thing you've seen so far?

Thereís Engrish EVERYWHERE, and nobody cares. It ranges from just poor sentence structure to herbal teas proclaiming that they will ďSet your soul free on a journey. It is like no other.Ē Since itís so hot in Japan, everyone is covered in sweat anyways, and I havenít snuck into anyoneís room and watched them sleep for snot bubble sightings, you freak. By far the weirdest thing Iíve seen for video games is the arcades here. Unlike American arcades, the claw prizes are great, though impossible, and the Japanese have MASTERED gaming with huge arcade machines that encourage up to a dozen people to play soccer, horse racing, and one I was dying to try, an RPG/card game called ďThe Key of AvalonĒ that looked absolutely badass.

By the way, Inuyasha is on every night here too :P(OK, so we're about 70 episodes behind, big deal ^^;;)

Have fun in Japan!


Haha! Weíre 70 episodes ahead with EVERYTHING! =D

 Back to America, Iím done hoarding in Japan!

Hey Andrew,

Just figured I'd throw in my two cents about the Japan VS America thing. As far as I'm concerned, video games are considered a mainstream and accepted form of entertainment. I would also say it could be considered a form of art, too, since creating a game is similar, artistically speaking, to creating a movie or rock album. Know what I'm saying? And I guess this would be straying a little from the question asked, but that aside I'd rather live right here in the US. Aside from the language barrier, Japan seems like the kind of place that would be cool to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Of course, people seem to feel the same way about where I live (New York City), so I guess it's all a matter of taste.

True. Video games are very mainstream in America, though youíd cry if you ever went into a Japanese game shop. The sheer quantity of games here is amazing. The language barrier was something Iíve been intending to break anyways, Japan has too much cool stuff that I canít read or understand for me to keep the barrier up. Youíve got to understand though, Stu, Japan, while a wonderful new place full of exciting new things, is at its base, still another human construction. Living in Chicago, I can easily navigate Japanís crowded streets in much the same way I did back home.

But here's a question I'd be interested to know the answer to. You know how here in the US, you'd have to look in used game stores and such to find games for systems such as the NES, SNES, and Genesis? I remember a time in the 80s (when I owned an Apple II) when stores would keep old games for YEARS after they first hit store shelves. Of course, that was before gaming really got huge here. So my question is are older games easier to find in Japan, either new or used, or is it pretty much the same situation as back home?

I <3 NY

Robust Stu

The situation is WONDERFUL here. Thereís arenít any systems you canít find games for, and the Sega Dreamcast is still alive and well. The best part is, old games for Playstation, Super Nintendo, etc etc, are all dirt cheap! I could pick up Final Fantasy 4-6 anytime I want for a mere $15 bucks a piece here! Not to mention that there are video game stores on every street corner here, all with fantastic deals on hard to find games. Living in Japan really does amount to be in a gamerís mecca.


I was just wondering if you know what to do to get the theater ship card with Vivi in the festival of the hunt?

This is an interesting question when you think about it. The writer of the quickie knows when and where to get the item heís looking for, but lacks the actual knowledge to find it. Itís almost like he read an FAQ halfway through and then said ďScrew it, Iíll get the rabbit to do the work for me.Ē Well no deal, babe! Youíre on your own! Hahahahaha!

The Final Grumble:

Letters are still coming in fast and thick about Japan vs. American gaming, so Iíll leave this grumble short and go play some more ancient DDR. ^_^;;

Andrew "Mmm...real melonade!" DuffClaire Belton

Tasukete in Japanese means "HELP!" and is very useful for foreigners.

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