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Andrew - November 30 '02- 2:00 Central Standard Time

Nothing like staying in with a good batch of Q&A letters and cup of hot chocolate while you listen to your friends bitch about how bad it sucks to be working as a cashier today. Suckers.

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Hey Andrew and Everybody,
I know everybody around the RPG scene has practically been pissing themselves because of the Enix-Square merger, likely saying things like "OH MY GOD!!!! This is awesome! Maybe they'll do a Dragon Warrior-Final Fantasy crossover!!! This RULES IT!!!!" I'm going to go completely the other way, and say that this is a really bad thing, particularly for US RPGamers. Let me tell you a little story that'll probably bore you to death, but it has a point.
For most of the mid 80s through the 90s, the WWF and WCW were the big two professional wrestling companies in the US. Unless you worked for one or the other, you weren't going to make much of a living in wrestling. For years, they competed against each other, stole each other's talent, and took potshots at each other on their respective monday night shows. The battle raged back and forth through that time, until around 1998 when the WWF pulled way ahead with the Steve Austin craze, and not only became the most successful wrestling company ever at that point, pulling ratings in the 7s and above regularly, but in fact became a sort of media company, starting a football league, a music label and a publishing company. WCW, meanwhile, languished. Hampered by poor writing, uncooperative talent, and storylines nobody cared about that seemed to change on a weekly basis, WCW was rapidly dropping on many people's radars. Finally, in March 2001, Vince McMahon and the WWF did the unthinkable and purchased WCW's assets from AOL-Time Warner, ending the Monday Night Wars. From there, it was all downhill for the WWF. They started the XFL, which was like a lower quality NFL that nobody cared about because it started the week after the Super Bowl, and ratings dropped sharply following the first week's programming. They botched the easiest storyline ever in a war between WWF and WCW, before finally burying WCW along with any plans they had made for a seperate brand. They buried all the really great WCW talent in favor of the lumbering, less entertaining WWF workers. Ratings have gone from an average of 7.5 per week to as low as 3.1 a few weeks ago. Now they're doing everything they can think of and running every major storyline they had been saving up for a special occasion to pop the ratings and get people interested again, with little to no success. They end 2002 making many of the mistakes WCW made that put them under, like ECW and the AWA before them.
What does this have to do with RPGs, you ask? Well, just like everybody thought Vince McMahon buying WCW was the greatest thing ever to happen to wrestling until it actually happened, Enix buying Square might begin a downhill slide for the RPG market as we know it. Enix, likely unwilling to see the Square franchises such as Final Fantasy outshine the Dragon Warrior series in either the US or Japan, may begin to go out of their way to make the Final Fantasy games less enjoyable than their own homegrown, flagship Dragon Warrior series. Any crossovers may work in the short term, but in the end I fully expect Final Fantasy to be pushed to the back while Enix pushes Dragon Warrior to the forefront. Additionally, the quality of the Dragon Warrior series, with no major competition to worry about, may begin to make lower and lower quality games, with nonsensical storylines and subpar gameplay. Also, take into account that Enix has never been big on localizing their games for release in North America. While Square as a seperate entity may have been willing to translate every game they ever made and bring it to the US in the effort to make a buck, Enix might not be willing to make those same commitments with either the Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy series in the long term. With the two major RPG series no longer having a presence in the North American market, interest in the genre will drop because like it or not, I'm willing to bet that the Final Fantasy series is the main reason at least half of you are here. With that interest gone, other companies may become less enthralled with the idea of creating new RPGs, or at least bringing them to North America. What does this mean for you, the average RPGamer? It may not happen for a couple of years, but there is a very real possibility that this is the beginning of the end.
Of course, I could be completely wrong, but this is definitely something to think about before you all start exploding with joy over this recent news.
Robust Stu
RPG Reviewer/Wrestling Fanatic/Swell Guy


Okay, that was more thn I ever wanted to know about wrestling. Not that ballet featuring guys in speedos isn't my idea of a good time, but damn.
Look, I'm going to say the obvious once, and only once. We've all got a different opinion on this merger, and you know what mine is? IT IS TOO EARLY TO TELL IF THIS A GOOD OR BAD THING, SO QUIT YER BITCH'IN, THE LOT OF YA!
Look. The second Enix announces that no more Final Fantasy games will be made, fine, come on over and we'll go throw rocks at Enix Headquarters together. In the meantime, stop tossing out your banal wrestling-and-how-it-just-might-relate-to-RPGS- theories my way, because their stupid. Maybe Google has the tolerance for all this idiocy, but I don't.

I really should stop printing these letters.

Yo Andude!! (drew_ What's up?? I've been up for freakin' 24 hours.. I'm hoping to make it to at least 36!! I'm going to this mad scary graveyard or something tonight.. I drew all over my friend's face last night when he fell asleep!! (with a "marker")
Ogre Battle 64 - Ansate (sp? I don't know. Screw SP!!!!! hahaha) Cross - How to you use it?? It's been freakin' buggin' me. Oh yeah.. haha.. my cerebus dog thingie is mad sweet and it's named "Pishtoff".. damn, they have some creative-ass names in Ogre Battle 64.
Do you love Ogre Battle 64 as much as you love pie? Cuz pie is really good.. !!
Yoink!11!! !! :0
Mr.Sa‹urn - "Minor Threat is totally sweet!!"


Go to sleep, Mr. Saturn.
As much as I enjoy the Ogre Battle series, it's not worth staying up all night for. I'm glad you're enjoy waging war so much, but it's affecting your mental health. Well, more so then usual.

Arrogant idiot.

What up A-Dope? Vagrant Story took a big suck on my nuts. The main character's name was Ashley. Why inGod's name would that tiny jap-guy who owns square be OK with letting the Tactics team name the main character Ashley unless he enjoyed probing the behinds of young asian progeny between the ages of 5 and 9? That's actually why Enix and Square have joined forces. They are both (as any accomplished child pornographer would know) huge names in the underground trade of illegal underage pics. Yasunori Mitsuda writes the background music for the videos they create. If you don't believe me, search for "Yasunori Mitsuda angry animal teen bestiality jennifer lopez naked 13f goatnads" on Kazaa. You'll get a match. Oh, you will. I made a half-assed picture of your goddamn sig pic nonsense with MSPaint. It should win because, quite frankly, I'm better than almost all other people. If you haven't noticed, other people really suck D.A. pizzo, and if that ain't a D.A. double sho, yo ass need ta be checked whitey. Sho nuff. -An 18-inch glass binger with a removable hitterpiece.

Okay. You're stupid. Ashley, while a girl's name, is also a guy's name. Ever heard of a little movie series called EvilDead? No? How about Army of Darkness? A name doesn't make the man, and coming from an inanimate object, I doubt you know anything about human sexuality anyway.
On the other hand, that is an awesome picture. Too bad it won't be winning the contest, jackass.

Music in RPGs. Like we all love the battle theme that plays a thousands times throughout any RPG.

Yo Bastard, (I like that) First off, I need to get something off my chest. It's hard to do this, but I admit to _never having completed any FF game_ outside of FFX after I got my PS2. Yes...shameful, I know. But that's what happens when you live your entire life without any video game system (besides the N64) and a crappy computer to run FF7/FF8 on. My new goal, after completing FFX and nearly bawling when I saw the ending, is to play through every Final Fantasy game, working my _backwards_ and eventually arriving at FF1. Spiffy, eh?
Now, for the questions:
1.) To me, music is one of the biggest factors that determines just how much I'm sucked into a game. My personal favorite soundtrack of all time is the Final Fantasy IX OST - I liked the game a friggin' lot, unlike the general populus. I thought the music enhanced the feel of the game even though there were some noticeable flaws in the way it played. Kingdom Hearts also has a kickin' soundtrack, which should appeal to a bunch of people (even my non RPG-friends) with the variety of Disney/Squaresoft music. But that's not the point - my question(s) is: How do you think music affects a game and the overall feel for it? Could an overall mediocre game be turned into crap if it were accompanied by a sucky soundtrack, or glorified into the greatest game ever if the music was superbly done?
2.) There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different battle systems for all sorts of RPGs. From the fast-paced, action game style of Kingdom Hearts, to the turn-based, classic style of the old FF games, to the switch-your-characters-around-as-much-as-you-want style of FFX, they're all different. What's your take on battle systems? Would the dream RPG cotain some rehash of the aforementioned systems, or an _entirely_ new style of fighting?
I guess that's it for the questions...It's about time to go eat thanksgiving dinner at my house (yes, I did say thanksgiving dinner). My mom had to work on Thursday, so we put it off a day. Screw tradition, right? At least we didn't get a tofurkey.

1. That's great to hear. People who don't start RPGs with the Final Fantasy series tend to be a little more level headed then the rest of us.
1a- Music is very important to all genres of games, and while I can't say great music could turn an awful game good, I know that it can turn a good game fantastic. And hey, if you don't believe me, watch the intro of Suikoden 3. Doesn't that "music" just make you want to jam pencils through your eardrums?
2. There aren't even a thousand RPG games out there, so lets not get melodramatic. As for fighting systems, I prefer either the option of auto battle, or totally free form, like in Star Ocean 2. Everything in between suffers from the idea that the player wants to relearn combat with no real gains for their effort.
3. As much as I love hearing about your mom, Afwe, I don't think you need to insult all the vegans out there. After all, they might throw dirt at us.

Leveling is Better! It cleans the hair!

Hail oh sarcastic one
I would like to address a couple topics that have come up, namely FF6 difficulty and massive level gaining Someone wrote asking the point of leveling to 99. Duh. If you level to 99, Kefka is no longer difficult. Seriously, I really did this... had my main party all at 99, plus everyone (except the fighter with the Genji Glove/ Offerning combo) had Economizers (makes every spell 1 mp, for those unenlightened) that those kooky Brachosaurs dropped, and they all knew Ultima. Plus there was this handy spell called "Life 3" which made Kefka's *take everyone to 1 hp* attack a joke. Thus, the point of insane level gaining (and item gaining and spell gaining) is to make RPGs that are normally considered difficult a total joke. I personally never considered FF6 a difficult game, but that's because the second I got my first few Espers, I had everyone learn all the spells, and continued to do so for the rest of the game. Yes, I am a freak. Um... let's see... a question... Considering you are the master of verbal abuse and sarcasm, who do you think is the most sarcastic rpg character ever? Or, if you prefer, who is your most favorite sarcastic rpg character?
Tim, the lover of all things sarcastic and kitties >^.^<

You're reasoning is stupid. "I LEIK GAMES WHEN THEY R EASY!" about sums about your letter.
As for most sarcastic character, probably every character in an RPG that didn't speak. Final boss? No better way to piss him off than to have a main character who pulled an ellipsis on him every time he gloated.
Evil Dude- "HAHA! Now I rule the Negaverse!"
Hero- "..."

No, rushing is betta! It's makes the hair silky and smooth!

Well now that I've made you proud with the megalixir bit, I'm going to throw in something inspired by the so called easy last bosses rant. Not very many last bosses on any RPG are very hard if you take the time to beef your characters to a godlike status. If you want a challenge, just barrel through the game and not spend countless hours walking around in the same area around a camping spot leveling up. I know it's more fun to get all beefy and laugh at the next boss's attempts to scratch you, but you have to pick one. Fun or challenging? Now stop the whining and go beat FF4 or FF6 in about 14 hours, k?

If the game is good, I take my time and fully immerse myself in the creator's world. If the game is decent, or blows, than I rush through it, ignoring things like "high levels", and "common sense". And I've only leveled myself to 99 once, and I was young, stupid, and in love with Aeris.

Two nutcases in one column? Maybe I should force them into a death match...

Greetings (Mel sings) Shadrack (smashes Branky into wall) Actually doesn't it seem that Suikoden III was not finished in production and also was experimenting and getting used to with a new graphics system? Also it is noted that there were some internal disputed that resulted in the creator of the series leaving Konami midway during the game and other odd production problems. Haven't you noticed too that you wished some plot points and characters were a little more explained? It is odd for a game as long as it is seems a little short with too many plot theads hanging there of importance. I also miss Sasarai's hat. Also you should be glad that you didn't work at Toys R Us today like I did. Though my manager said that she told me a large part of my job today was to look cute which is funny. It is odd being 21 and looking like I'm 14 or 15.
Imperial Mog


Hehe. I love Branky. Finally, a woman whose dirty side is fully in control of her left arm.
1. I happen to think the 3d graphics in Suikoden 3 are pretty well done, but still look ass ugly when compared to crispness of the 2d of the former games, not to mention the horrible camera angles. It's depressing that so much hindered Sukioden 3's development, but I guess we're lucky to have it all, considering how we got screwed out of the Genso's.
2.'re a guy who wants fan girls, but are so adorable that you're job is to stand around and bat your eyelashes? Anyone else remember a certain villain from Chrono Trigger?

Scary RPGs? What a novel idea!

Hello, Andrew,
I am short on cash (aren't we all) and I was looking for something new and decided to pick up a copy of Shadow Hearts from my local Gamestop, as opposed to the more recent titles, say Wild arms 3 and Suikoden 3. From what I have played of the game, I am loving it but some parts are really confusing me.
So, I went looking through the news articles about Shadow Hearts trying to figure out if the game is a really a sequel to Koudelka or not, which would explain my confusion. I never played Koudelka but it seems to have a totally different setting then SH. So, to make long story short, do you know (and if so can you tell me), if the two games are related. I am really enjoying Shadow Hearts and if its important to play Koudelka, I will hunt down a copy. If they aren't related, then is it safe to assume that I am supposed to be confused at the beginning?
Thanks in advance,
Matt, "The Beast" Foster

I'm sorry to say the games don't have enough in common to warrant you hunting down a copy of Koudelka. The confusion should clear up as you play the game, and if it doesn't, maybe you're just stupid. Comforting, eh?

You know, if this wasn't the weekends, and I had some sort of desire to sleep, letters like this would never be printed.

Why can't people use common sense when they email you? ...Oh, that's right. They're stupid.
Anyway, I have a few questions that you could possibly answer, or not.
1) What do you think about using popular genres of music in RPGs today? FFX had a pretty decent rock song during the battle with (SPOILER) near the end of the game, before (SPOILER) (SPOILER), and Kingdom Hearts had a song by Utada Hikaru. I think popular music nowadays would really enhance RPGs nowadays.
2) Now, for a more exciting question. If you could kill the most annoying person who emailed you, how would you do it?
Love and lollipops,


People aren't, on the whole, stupid. They just don't realize how pathetic they look when they don't bother to read over what they've written. I, on the other hand, know full well that a few thousands readers are waiting to pounce on me if I screw up in any way.
1. While video game music has basically become its own genre, I have to say, the opening song to Kingdom Hearts does indeed kick ass, and so does the slow version. I'm a big fan of video game music, along with anime tunes, (Ha ha. Get it?) both of which don't get nearly enough credit when it comes to being considered "real" music.
2. Don't be silly. I would never kill any of my readers. I'd just force them to spell and grammar check all of the letters this column gets until they committed suicide.


what is the password to get in the leyline observatory in wildarms3

Go to hell.

This might be a stupid question but ,what's with the capital E's with the triangle thing on top? why are they in some of the letters that you guys post?

I'll have Google answer this one, since it came out of one of his columns earlier this week.
Google- Some people's mail clients have weird non-standard space characters, which turn into those under more standard circumstances. I usually scan for'em but occasionally forget.

Does anyone see the greatness that the merging of Enix and Square brings? A Dragon Warrior game with FMV, references to Erdrick in the next Final Fantasy, just think we might even see the game we all wished Kingdom Hearts was - Final Dragon Fantasy Warrior!

Well, we all see something. I see another boring merger, you see the possibility of a really stupid game. But hey, why wait for Enix-Square to make it? Why don't you do it yourself?

Dear Dandy Andy -
What's your favorite game to hate? We all know there's a lot of games that people enjoy hating - Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Secret of Evermore, Beyond the Beyond, and so on - but what's your personal choice for showing some hate to? For me, it has to be Legend of Dragoon. Whoever came up with that battle system should be drawn and quartered, and then beaten. And that final boss taking 2 hours to kill? Just plain wrong. Anyway, what do you say?
The "Legend of Dragoon-hatin' " Ravyn

All the games on my hate list are made by amateur game designers, and all of these hated games I reviewed, spending hour upon hour writing about the problems and faults in their games, only to have the author fling their dookie back at me, "U SHOULD B3 NicE! I h@tE U! UR StUp1D!!!!1" After enough of this, even the worst professional RPGs have SOME merits. Of course, all my reviewing was done to increase my own writing and game designing skills, so the overly critical personality I inherited from it is my own fault.

I log onto RPGamer's Q&A for the first time in months, maybe even a year, and the first thing I read about is a Mr. Saturn devouring the corpse of his undead date.
How cool.
... So yeah, that's pretty much it. No, I don't have any questions on RPGs, or pissy whiny rants, or silly alterations of your last name, and I sure as hell don't have anything perverted to add to that whole Princess Maker thing. Just wrote to tell you that you're spiffy, and that your column makes me dance with glee.
... And that I got to look up Tarzan's loincloth thrice today, thanks to Kingdom Heart's crazy-ass camera angles. Tee-hee.
-- Sophie
You know, in Zelda 64, at the Kokiri village, there's a girl standing on a pillar, and you can look right up her skirt from the ground. And you know the weird part?
She's got colored panties.
That's right. Nintendo actually gave the children different colored underwear. Why, I have no idea, but it certainly brings back pleasant memories of everyone I know and their grandmothers telling me about it when the game first came out.

So my friends Tactics Ogre game and my GBA were stolen, which sucked. Before you point out that I was stupid and that's why they were stolen, I was retarded, but I guess I just forgot that my school was full of people with no morals. Anyway, I need two things.
1) Can I have a hug or some empathy? I know I was stupid but I'm pretty depressed.
2) Did I miss anything in Tactics Ogre? I was only three hours in.
Well, I'm off to try and make this up to my friend and not be unhappy. Don't be too cruel.

1. *hug*
2. Yeah, you missed the part where you buy the game for your friend because you were stupid. Oh, and the whole great story and such form a nice little GBA strategy RPG.
I've got two ways of keeping my Game Boy Advance from being stolen. One, I always put it inside my trench coat's inner buttoned pocket, so no one can slip a hand inside to take it without me biting said hand, and two, it's pink. No one wants a sissy pink GBA, and I could care less about the color, so it's very safe.

I will warn you before I start, I'm switching into evil sarcastic grammar fiend mode.
"÷here's a massive column to pour over." pour over what? Is your column gravy or something? 'Cause if this isn't an evil pun, you have the wrong spelling of "poor". The one you're looking for is, believe it or not, "pore," as in: "I spent the months poring over musty old tomes."
Sorry, but when it's the host and not the letters, I can't stand ugly grammar mistakes. 'Tis my curseůI'm the child of an English professor.

Thanks for pointing that out. I'll try to avoid the pore/pour mistake in the future.

The Final Grumble:

I don't believe this. I give you people the chance to gripe about this column and what changes you'd like to see, and not one person writes in about it. Bunch of know nothing conformists. Maybe tomorrow, eh?

Andrew "I just want to hold you" Duff

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