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Howdydoo, kiddies. As you can see, I've updated the Archive at last. Thanks for all the submissions, but I decided to take a mildly different route, as you can see. No complex tables equal faster loading time and it's a lot easier to update. Huzzah. No, make that double-Huzzah.

Chrono Trigger rocks my world

How would a confirmation of Chrono Trigger 2 'rock the industry?' The original is nowhere near as well known as Final Fantasy 7. I doubt a sequel would cause an industrial earthquake. :) An industry tremor would be that Square is announcing it's own system, or that they're now producing only edutainment.

-- Vandole

Thor: Doleyboy here is refering to the news bit concerning a allegedly rockin' upcoming announcement from Square. Well Vandole, it, uh, wouldn't. Keep in mind those aren't Square's words, the rockin' bit was from a Japanese magazine called Weekly Jump. Personally, I don't think it's Chrono Trigger 2. Unless they develop it for the N64--now that would shake things up a bit. (Not that there's a snowball's chance in Hell, Michigan; but you get the idea.)

For all we know, the announcement might not be a new game or system. It could be some new feature in Final Fantasy 8. What could possibly shake things up that much? Two words: Hardcore porn.

Yeah, what's the deal, thor?

Hey Thor dude,

I was just wondering what sort of questions you like to get, seeing you don't like answering whatnot that could be read in the faq. But then what else is there to ask? Hm... could you tell me how Tifa/Celes/Rosa/Fei/Everyone with long hair manages to keep their hair nice and clean, even with all that fighting? I have a, erm, friend who needs to know their secret... ;)

-- Isabel

Thor: What kind of questions do I like to get? Gameplay questions, for the most part, are out, except in rare cases like--like when I tried to solve the urban legend that was "1/35 soldiers". (Unless you really can use 'em in battle. Fah. I need to whip out the ol' FF7 CD one of these days.) It's hard to explain what makes a good letter, so I do my best to point out what makes a bad one in Unfit for Print. Actually, there is one kind of letter I'm rather partial to: The beautiful woman praising my every move kind. Too bad I haven't gotten any of those yet. Er...

Oh! Your question, yeah, lets cover that. The secret is... Magic Hair Gel. As a wandering taskmage, I get a discount. Two bottles for only 60 Gil. That's still a bit pricey, but Cloud swears by it, and blood/gore/bone fragments wash off with cold water alone!

"This is hard!" 'No it's not.' "Sha up!"

In one of your last collumns, you mentioned you thought that RPG were becoming easier. But how do you define the difficulty of an RPG? How often you die? The intricacy of mazes? The length of the game? I would say many of these add tedium to a game. Not difficulty.

Thor: Let me guess: Your first RPG was Final Fantasy 7? Heh heh, kidding. Anyway, I basicly equate RPG "difficulty" to battle difficulty. Battle scenes are the meat 'n bones of any RPG. Puzzles, mazes and even jumps are nice, but they're more of a "pad out the game" gimmick than anything. Personally, I think the really hard puzzles and such should be left guarding optional storyline/items, and should usually kept out of the game proper. That way, if you're really into "kicking some RPG ass", you can. But if you just want to get through that flargin' dungeon, you won't have to worry about Lighting The Twelve Torches of Flargggnahargha with the Crysteline Poem of Ladedo after solving the Six Riddles of Insanity.

Anyone want to take him up on that? I'll call my laywer.

So sue me... I've been reading the column back in the olden days, and I must say that you are (insert gratuitous, non-chalant, and overly seeming butt kissing type praise here). Actually, your style as a writer is great, save for those nasty spelling errors (do as I do, blame the keyboard). Anyhow, I guess it's near time I asked some questions, since this'd be a pretty sad letter otherweise, aye? And in anti-number list format, here goes.

a) First, a comment, you're right about the Zelda: OoC thing. Why'd they have to go make a game where it's too damn addicting to just wander about aimlessly? So far, I haven't been frustrated by the continual wandering about (OK, maybe in Gerudo Valley, but that's just 'cause I kept getting overzealous, and caught by the guards...), which surprises even me.

Why? 'Cause Miyamoto is a genius, that's why. Isn't it nice to have fun just... exploring? I swear, all that hype about Tomb Raider's "exploration" was just that--hype. Tomb Raider's idea of "exploration" was cutting the usual ammount of enemies in half and forcing you to wander around dingy caverns. Zelda 64's idea of exploration? "Who needs real life? I've got Zelda."

b) Why is it that people often (always) judge a game (hmm, no, I'm not speaking of FFVIII *whistles innocently*) based on pictures, artwork that companies come out with, and/or short, playable demos? Granted, I'll end up getting the game the day it comes out, but I'm not going to rant, rave, cuss, and spit if it's not good. Hell, I made the mistake of buying it, I'll suffer the wrath.

Shockingly, some people don't just judge Final Fantasy 8 by graphics alone. But more on that next letter.

c) Hmm, think there's any RPGirls in Utah that'd want to visit an RPGuy, like myself? I mean, if so... I'll set you up... I know a few from California myself. *blinks, and whistles innocently again*

Don't be silly. There aren't even any girls in Utah.

d) Do you think I'll be assaulted, gagged, bound, and beaten for that last question?

Yeah--by me. This is my turf, bub. I'm the only one allowed to shamelessly hit on unsuspecting women 'round these parts! Geez. The nerve of some people.

e) Finally, a serious question. Well, two actually. Number one: What are your feelings on the Megami Tensei (I think... Megami is right... dunno about Tensei) series, namely Persona, since it's the only one to be released here. Curious as to your opinions on it, assuming you've played it. And number 2: Has there been anything said about releasing the rest of the series at all in America?

Hey, I thought you were anti-numbers? Hypocrite.

1) I've never had the pleasure of playing Persona, though I hear it's tactical-style combat is great, and find the idea of an RPG set in what's basicly present day is delicious. How do they explain random encounters, or do they? (In a Fantasy world, it's always just "There sure have been lots of monsters around lately!". In the real world, you have to explain why the Army isn't getting involved. No small task for a writer.)

2) None that I could find. A shame, too. Hopefully, I missed something...

Well, enough of my mindless banter, pointless, evil questions (questions are evil, you know you like those debates better! Psh, right...), and foolish attempts at, umm... well... refer to questions c and d. My time here has ended, you may put the Stunner upon me now.

-- Davion (is it wrong to like The Brood from WWF? Everyone thinks I'm some freaky vampire now...)

Thor: People usually think I'm a vampire--but not because I like The Brood. They think I'm a vampire because I dress all in black, sleep during the day and keep trying to start an army of small rats to "Do mine bidding". The only proof I have that I'm perfectly human is my love of good ol' coffee. (Of course, I could just be spiking it with blood...)

This guy knows his music. You have to give him that.

I'll be blunt, what the heck happened to everyone's favorite Final Fantasy Composer? My first real RPG to own and play was Final Fantasy 3 (6) and I instantly fell in love with the music. Every heart pounding beat or mellow balled made me learn how to whistle so I could replay those very songs on command. Nobuo Uematsu was a Genius. He knew how to compose a decent piece of music. First thing you may have noticed was the use of the word WAS. This is because now a'days he can't compose a cheap rendition of "Hot Cross Buns" on a good day. I've had the honor of playing every Final Fantasy game in existence (ok, So I used an emulator, sorry) and in every Final Fantasy I've played, the music has been incredible. This includes the original favorites from FF1. Then came Final Fantasy 7. From the very beginning, My stomach ached. First I couldn't help but notice the battle music. I was wondering where the original battle intro went. I'm sure we all remember it from FF 1 - 6. It was present in EVERY one. I figured "maybe it will be in the boss music like FF2 did." But no good. It no longer existed. Then I couldn't help but notice the victory music. How can he get away with slaughtering it so? It was barely recognizable after the second measure. Well many of you would say "Change is good". Change is good, but only change for the BETTER is good. Look at all the themes in the game (excluding "one winged angel", it rocked) They are all repetitive, boring attempts at music. After you leave Midgar, the music never seems to fit the situation one bit. Look at coral, is this music supposed to depress me? or is it supposed to make me want to throw my PlayStation across the room? It did both. Here is a trick, enter coral village, then enter the tram screen. With a 1 bar transition, they would be the same damn song, just a different transition. How annoying. Next we have Costa Del Sol, Was Nobuo trying to explore his creative side? I don't know but the music was about as epic as a dogs stinky lump. It sticks in my head like "The song that doesn't end". Musically, it was a mess. (and in every other way I can think of also.) Now I will say this for Mr. Uematsu, he did accomplish to create a couple catchy tunes. The north crater and one winged angel are a few. Just don't tell me he spent all his talent on making 3 or 4 semi memorable tunes. Maybe he is taped dry? it's a possibility, but I doubt it.

Next we have the ever famous Final Fantasy 8 demo. I started it up, and had to leave the room, as the music played, it became more and more recognizable, until I noticed "My gosh! it's the prelude! What the heck is this!? I didn't switch the PlayStation to a Grunge/rap station!" I was appalled at this atrocity! (I mean come on! screaming guitars!?)what a waist of an epic and famous song! Well after awhile I started the demo and heard the opening theme. This is the kind of stuff I remembered. so I was happy. I played and heard the battle music, I felt the same disappointment I felt with Final Fantasy 7's arrangement. I also got to experience the Stupidest magic system I've ever seen(I won't get into that though). Then I got to hear the victory music. What a bunch of BS! Is the entire soundtrack written in a minor!? it sounds just as Japanese as it's origins imply. So I played some more, and I finally made it to the spider robot. That techno crud that started playing forced me to hit mute as quickly as possible. I made myself listen to the song in it's entirety and decided "If this is the boss music!? I'm gonna use this demo as a frisbee!" (too late, I already have.) Let me put it this way, the master we knew as Nobuo Uematsu left this mark on the world with FF6 and then Choked on his own pudding and expired. R.I.P. There may never again be a true final fantasy with this imposter running around trying to compose masterful music, it's a joke. Let me just tell you where I'm coming from. . . I'm a serious band geek (I play the clarinet) and plan to major in music when I goto collage. I know what real music is supposed to sound like (may I say "long live Wild Arms") and FF7 and the upcoming FF8 are not any kind of example of good compositions. I don't know what you think about this Thor, but this is my opinion as (what I would like to consider myself) a competent musician. Tell us all how you stand on the topic, I don't recall you ever really speaking out about it. . .

--Clariphone man

Thor: Don't know what I can add here. Nobuo's style has changed, and nothing more can really be said. Here's a question, does anyone think FF6's soundtrack is worse than FF7's? I mean, yeah, One Winged Angel/Aerith's Theme/Cosmo Canyon--but I'm talking about the overall soundtrack. I liked Wild ARMs' soundtrack too, even though it blaitantly ripped off a song from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. As far as PlayStation RPGs go, though, nothing beats Suikoden and Final Fantasy Tactics. :D

Yeah, well, "Draw" this, buddy!

What do you mean no treasure chests in final fantasy 8? That's ridiculous. Maybe there are treasure chests but they're just called fun chests or something like that. How can a rpg not have treasure chests? If you have to buy everything in this darn game I will be quite upset.

I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but...

No, there are no "fun chests" in Final Fantasy 8. There are just "Draw Spheres", which contain draw points. I can see it now:

"Hey, I wonder what I'll get! Ohh, ohh, ohh... draw points. Well, maybe next one! Ohh, ohhh, ohhh... draw points. Fun." Heck, even if they do contain random magic spells, I'm going to miss finding a really needed Elixir halfway through an insane dungeon. I predict Square removes the EXP system in FF9. Seriously.

On the subject of final fantasies, (I always ask this but it never get's responded to) does anybody else out there hate it how everyone in your party can use the strongest magic and so forth? Wasn't it so much cooler when only Rydia could use call spells, only Rosa could use holy, etc?

-- Number 6

Thor: Yes. In my opinion, it would be much cooler if only certain characters could use certain spells. Imagine the utter horror of your most powerful magic user dying! Not only would you have a teary-eyed death scene to watch, but the game would actually be affected--as opposed to just handing all the deceased's Materia over to Red 13, or something.

Da Quote

Greetings mighty God with the big hammer,

Usually I would just be a reader, and not a writer, but I instantly recognized the quote and decided to give it a shot.It is from Lufia 2, after your first fight with Idura, Maxim and Selan head off to Alyen, and after stepping out of the teleporter in the shrine they run into Guy and Dekar. They begin arguing, as always, and Dekar ends up saying "My love is my sword" and Guy responds with the quote:" If I were you, I would stay away from thoughts like that"

So that's it!

-- SpoonyBard

Thor: Yes, yes sir, you are correct. Here's your obligatory sack of monkeys. They're still dead, but I tossed in a pine scented review mirror air freshener, so that'll mask the smell for a good two or three minutes.

Say, that quote's a bit odd. "My love is my sword" / "Stay away from thoughts like that"? Sounds a bit... uh... nevermind. :D

The Devil made me do it

Hey, Thor... Over my ridiculously short winter break, I was playing FF3 again, and decided impetuously that I'd take Ragnarok as a sword instead of a shard this time. Thought it might add some challenge and variety to the ridiculously easy endgame. As it happens, though, the darker angels of my nature took over, and I found myself using the Vanish/X-Zone trick to get past the tough parts. I was very disappointed in myself, of course, but I maintain that it's Square's fault for leading me into temptation like that.

Both of these are within any gamer's reach well before the end of the game. When you add the tons of relics that make enemy encounters rare and easy, and multiply all that by the ridiculous magic system, it's impossible to make the game tough unless you play *badly*, having the characters ignore the obvious advantages they have. ("Oh, we *all* can use every spell?")

I mainly play RPGs for the story, anyway, so this doesn't ruin FF3 for me. But is it unreasonable to expect to have to *work* for substantial firepower? You don't have to be at all *good* at any of the Square games I've played to win them, even if you don't have the benefit of assistance from the Thunder God. (Heaven help me, I *tried* not to say it...) Is it rewarding or exciting to win a game like that? I had more fun beating the first Dragon Warrior, since success was never guaranteed. Just my two cents.

I must admit, at first I thought this was a joke. I've seen people blame Square for a lot of things, but never for their own lack of willpower. The Vanish/X-Zone trick is just that--a trick. And Ultima/Ragnarok was hidden well enough so that Joe Average, without the use of outside information, wouldn't stumble across 'em. Neither X-Zone and the Sword/Shard were within easy reach, and could be easily avoided if you really wanted to make the game harder. Shame, dude.

One more question, a less generic one this time: I can't think of any game besides Phantasy Star 3 that's tried to have alternate possible storylines. (In this case, at two points in the game the main character was asked which of two women he would marry, leading to different destinies for his descendants.) PS3, of course, botched it pretty badly, probably ensuring that there wouldn't be any more like it for a while. But does anyone else think that this type of game would be *terrific* if done well? The different quests in PS3 really differed only in the middle third -- how about something that allowed you to really direct the story. Granted, it would be a lot of coding for a fairly short game, but I think it would pay off.

Off the top of my head, Dark Saviour for the Saturn had three different storylines, which also served as difficulty levels. You're right, a short but highly replayable game is nice. Chrono Trigger, anyone?

BTW, I'll bet Craig Kilborn is really flattered that you think he's such a hunk...

-- Sweeney Todd, a.k.a. Mike

Thor: I said Kilborn was a hunk? Eww. Must have been a badly phrased sentence. I think he's a smug bastich, and I love him for that--but my love is limited to his comedic style... not his back porch.

"Life ain't easy, kid"

I just wanted to say that the guys that did the FFT soundtrack also did the music for Ogre Battle & Tactics Ogre.

Oh yeah, and on a completely unrelated note, I think you ought to start setting any spoilers, at least for recent games, as white text, so that we have to highlight them to read them. That would make it less likely for people to accidentally read a spoiler while reading your column.

-- Red XIV

Thor: Good suggestion, but some browsers can't highlight the white text (Opera, for example), and that'd really tick off some of my readers. Besides, then we'd probably get Sweeney Todd complaining about Netscape allowing him to highlight the damn text and "leading him into temptation"...

Unfit for Print

What's up Thor,

In my opinion, an RPG has to have the qualifications of playing the role of a character(s) in a quest. But, wouldn't that make Sonic and Mario RPGs? I think not. Another factor I have found is the ability to upgrade or buy new weapons and/or armor. Also, to be able to gain and increase skills the character may have. Granted, an RPG can have other elements in it: ex. Action/Adventure. But true RPG gamers will be able to tell whether or not a game is a true RPG.

Thor: "What defines an RPG" debate? After all this time?! Geez. He must hates us. For future referance, don't add to a debate people are gouging their eyes out to avoid. If you haven't seen a letter concerning a subject for a day or two, just drop it. :D

Satisfying Quickies:

A few people have informed me that using ";D" is unprofessional. Well, yeah. Who the heck do you think I am? // Yes, guys. I also like WCW. It's free, it's there, I watch it. I hate the announcers, I detest the storyline, I'll never favor it over WWF, but the cruserweights are nice and the heavyweights are filled with personality. I just wanna know one thing: Where the heck is Sting? // Jet wonders why everyone calls me "Hammer boy" and "Thunder dude" and stuff. Jet, there was a Nordic god named Thor, and he controlled thunder, had a hammer named Mjollnir, blah blah blah... grab an encyclopedia and have a read! // CX sez: "Hey, I go to Gannon University (It's a real school, in Erie)! Does that mean you're going to kill us all, Thor?" Yes. Yes it does.

Thor Stuff:

Blah! I hate tedium. Marle-chan was kind enough to update archive.html for me, but I still had to add everything after December 6, 1998. I'll never understand how my co-workers can deal with New Media and whatnot, I find writing without writing so mind-numbingly dull I wanted to quit seconds after starting.

The Big Hit is a great movie. Think Pulp Fiction meets Ferris Beuller. Rent it. Love it.

Oh, and another suggestion: Salem's lot, by Stephen King.

And in other news, I've maxed out my crappy ISP's 150/month plan a good 10 days shy of, er, the end of the month. Pity me, I'm gonna be payin' by the hour.

- Thor "The Groth 3? Soon..." Antrim.
Liquid Melatonin is my friend. Zzzz...

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