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New look? Maybe.
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 Twisted Metal 2
All RPG and no Action makes Thor a bored boy
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(You can have my coffee when ya pry it from my cold, dead fingers.)
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 Went on vacation? Shame! Stop by the archive and catch up.
I was bored, and decided to give Kupek's redesign suggestion a try. Believe it or not, I listen to ya'll, even when you have something less than flattering to say. Anyway, I did up a few questions... and then the strangeness commenced, 'cause I realized I kinda liked the look. Believe it or not, bold text isn't that ugly--at least in this particular font. So, what do you guys think? Drop me a line. At this point, I like them around the same. I'm so indecisive.

If you don't have anything nice to say... write Thor!

Hey Thor,

I don't know if I am doing this right. Ok here it goes...

Why do so many people complain about Final Fantasy 7?

People say o the music sucked. Or the graphics sucked. Or the story sucked. It's ok if you didn't like it, but don't ruin it for us who did like it! I mean admitedly FF7 was not as good as FF4, FF5, and FF6, but it does not mean you guys gotta go and bash it.

That's what I gotta say.

-- The one who will be known only as Magus

Well TowwbkoaM, there are two reasons. The first is that people love to complain. They get to make arguments which make them feel witty; they get to let off some stress; they get to write oh-so-nifty me. The second reason is that complaining about problems is a great way to change things in the sequel. Know why Twisted Metal 2 was so good? 'Cause Single Trac read to USEnet posts and took notes, that's why.

Of course, I highly doubt Square cruises alt.game.final.fantasy--or Ask Thor--looking for ideas, but it doesn't stop people from hoping that someone, anyone is listening to their complaints.

Mystery Science RPG 3000

Why does everyone think the mysterious RPG sequel is Chrono Trigger 2? I go around the net and "Possible Chrono Trigger Sequel!" appears. I don't know who started this (maybe...RPGamer!). Has anyone thought about Final Fantasy Tactics, Secret of Mana, Xenogears, Secret of Evermore, Treasure Hunter G, Brave Fencer Musashi, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Live a Live, Bahamut Lagoon, or Front Mission? All are Squaresoft games without present sequels planned. I know that some of these games might not sound "rocking" or "world-changing", but would Squaresoft really call one of their own games bad? I'm not saying I would not love a Chrono Trigger 2 (I would really like one), but I'm just saying we should keep our minds open.

-- JVN

Dude. If someone in Square felt the project was big enough to leak that they'd make an announcement soon--which is, I'm assuming, what happened--I seriously doubt that said game would be Final Fantasy Tactics, Mystic Quest or anything short of, well, fantastic. The only shocker of that particular bunch would be a sequel to Secret of Mana (SD4), and even that is kind of pushing it.

"And now, an announcement that will change the way you play games forever: Seiken Densetsu 4 for the Sony PlayStation! I said, Seiken Densetsu 4 for the Sony PlayStation! Is, uh, this thing on? Hello? Anyone out there?"

~Where have all the moogles gone~
(Final Fantasy 6 Spoiler)

Hey yo!

Well I'm sick today, and have nothing better to do, so here's a little question: After The World of Ruin is created in FF3, where do all the moogles go? I went all over Narsh, and Mog was the only one left. Where's the rest of them?

-- D.P.

Believe it or not--my backyard. See, after the Cataclysm which Gutted the World like a Feral Hog, And Doth Spewn Hot Magma Upon the Masses, the Moogles felt it would be best, well, not to stick around. So they moonwalked themselves up a nice X-Zone and popped into an alternate reality--my kitchen. Now, I won't lie to you: Those little albino freaks are nothing but trouble. Sure, I used to be a fan... but have you smelled one? Not pretty. There's a happy ending, though. I rent my backyard out to U.F.O. enthusiasts--when a Moogle bugs its eyes out, it looks remarkably like a Grey--and the Moogles have a comfertable Californian domicile. Isn't life grand? The one problem is a certian Princes Kuproupu has developed a rather large crush on me, and insists on wrapping her stubby arms around my shin and cooing every time I walk into the room. Try explaining that to your friends!

In other words: Nobody knows. It's yet another infamous Square "Choose your own plotline" adventures.

Final Fantasy iMac

Everyone out there has a PC, right? If they didn't they probably wouldn't be reading this letter. And for every PC out there, I'm guessing there are three or four $200 console systems laying in a closet somewhere, possibly different generations of the same system.

Now, though it may seem ironic, I ask why aren't there any "console-style" RPGs for the PC? Why develop for a 32-bit or 64-bit system that someone would have to buy when chances are that their consumers have a PC capable of running Quake II at 30 frames per second? How many people, like myself, have been discouraged from buying a game because it was for a system he or she did not own?

I know there are many "RPG" games for PC, but they're either D&D type adventure games or strategy, and that's really not the same thing. But will "console-style" ever make it to the PC? Will the Japanese developers ever port their games to PC with any consistency? Is it just a big racket to keep all the money in Japan by supporting Nintendo, Sony, and Sega?

I don't know if Square found the results of their experiment (porting Final Fantasy VII to the PC) satisfactory, but by the time that it was released (another year later), there was not a plot detail I didn't know about. It was almost not worth buying the game. I'm sure if they released the ports at the same time they would be pleasantly surprised with the results.

What's your take on this?

My take is, you're right. I wish there were more console style RPGs for PCs. To my knowledge, there has been one. Ever. It was called Knights of Xentar, and came in two versions: PG-13 and NC-17. That's right, the one csRPG for personal computer was a flargin' gimmick porn game. Of course, there are dozens of VERGE (a "make your own RPG" program) and other such RPGs in progress... emphasis on the "in progress" part. Hopefully we'll see some in the future, but for now we'll just have to stick with the good ol' PlayStation. A pity Saturn is dead and the N64 abhors RPGs, eh guys?

Conspiracy Theory
(Final Fantasy 7 Spoilers)

I was shocked when I noticed on the FF8 demo it said "This demo/trailer is rated Suitable for MATURE Users by the ESRB." Why? There's nothing in the demo to suggest it should be mature rather than teen, is there?

Uh... nope.

Secondly, while looking through my PSX boxes, I noticed the ESRB box on the back of FF7 claims it has "REALISTIC VIOLENCE", while the one on the back of Resident Evil 2 (Dual Shock) claims only "ANIMATED BLOOD AND GORE, ANIMATED VIOLENCE". So I guess it's more 'realistic' for you to shoot an enemy and have him disappear than to shoot him and have blood explode from the hit. Or is it more realistic to attack by summoning a giant Chocobo than it is to use a rocket launcher?

All of which leads me to believe that the ESRB is as arbitrary and useless as any other 'ratings' (read 'censorship') board. They have no actual standards of what is or isn't acceptable and just tack on some rating they hope is sort of close and will save the children from naughty, naughty games (Extraneous Simpsons quote, "Won't somebody please think about the children!!!"). What do you think of the ESRB?

One final note, Mankind is good, but Cactus Jack is awesome! I hope you aren't judging Cactus on just his WWF appearances. They were never really able to use him properly.

-- The Bad Guy

I really don't think all that kindly of ESRB--haven't since I bought a little gem called Offworld Interceptor Extreme for the Sony PlayStation. OWIE was just your average lil' combat/race game except for one glorious gimmick: Mystery Sicence Theater 3000 style cinemas. Remember when FMV was new, and most games had a really cheesy FMV storyline? Well, so did OWIE, except the developers were cool enough to realize the cheese-value of their own product, and decided to mock it, MST3K style. Through every cut scene, you see the silhouettes of two guys in chairs. They toss jokes left and right, bashing the script, actors, whatever. It's pretty corny istself, but come on, not many companies would have the guts to trash their own work.

Anyway, the two guys make a few suggestive jokes, and even cuss a few times. But every vaguely dirty word is covered with an ear-piercing "BEEP". If OWIE was a movie, it'd be PG. At worst. So, what does ESRB rate it? For Mature (17+) Audiences Only: Mild Language, Suggestive Themes. Do you guys have any idea how insane that is? If ESRB rated Titanic, it would have been rated R! And while OWIE gets a Mature (17+) rating, Final Fantasy 7--a high budget Sony-backed game, a game with everything from cross dressing to toilet jokes to FMV of women getting stabbed to that deliciously gory scene at the end to Hojo suggesting Aerith and Red 13, er, do the nasty... well, that gets a Teen rating. Bleeped cuss words? Bad. Beastiality? Good. And that, my friends, is why I dislike the ESRB. Thank you, drive safely.

And speaking of "mature subject matter"...
(Final Fantasy 7 Spoiler)

This has been bugging me for a while. Near the end of the second disk in FF7 does Cloud sleep with Tifa? Now I was pretty sure he didn't, but I played that part over again with my friend, and we both changed our minds and thought that they did do the horizontal mombo. I asked around the news groups and I got a resounding maybe. So o Thorlyness, did Tifa and Cloud get it on under the airship?

Yes. Yes they did. Cloud and Tifa made hot monkey love. Get over it, it's only sex. Your parents have had sex--at least once. Now, isn't that a lovely thought.

Persona. 'Nuff said.

Dear Thor,

Since you seemed to not answer Davion's questions about Megami Tensei and Persona, I shall... If you deign to print my letter, that is.

'Course, why the heck wouldn't I? That's the point of this column, informing the uninformed while being as silly as possible doing so.

As of yet, Persona is the only Megami Tensei game to be released in america.

Some people liked it, others didn't. As one who did like it, and finished it, I can tell you that the combat does involve strategic placement of your characters. It also involves a lot of negotiation with the random monsters you meet. This is to gain their spell cards which can be fused together for making personas. Personas are the source of magic for the characters in the game. Original, eh?

Atlus HAS proposed "Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers" (originally a Saturn title) to Sony for a release in the US. On a personal note, I would encourage anyone interested in the game to E-mail Sony and tell them you are!

As for why there are monsters roaming around the town, the game DOES explain it. However, for me to tell you would be for me to spoil the good ending (as opposed to the "bad" ending), as well as go on for aonther couple of paragraphs about metaphysical and exrtadimensional logic. I think I'll spare you and your readers that.

-- Tony Patino

Well, there you have it. Hey, it's an update, what kind of thought provoking commentary do you want? Sheesh.

Uh...

I named a few of my fish after you. They were tasty.

Oh my God, man. That's just... so... gross. Eww. I've got to go take a shower.

Easily offended

Thor-

Love your column, but I have to agree, I don't like it when you use "wicked" or "dude" while responding to letters. As a longboarder (I am a RPG enthusiast also), I am really offended with all the language stereotypes of surfers used everywhere. Otherwise, I think you are doing a great job.

Come on, you're kidding, right? Stereotypical? Offended? Hayzus, kid--I'm just typing how I talk. My favorite writer (don't tell him, he doesn't know) Zach Meston once told me to write how I talk, and I've been doing just that ever since. And you know what? It works. I've lived in California all my life, and slang like "Cool", "Hella" and "Buff" are hardcoded into my brain. I'm no surfer, and I've never tried to emulate that feel. Hell, I've only bodyboarded--three times! So I'm sorry if this, uh, offends you, but don't look for a change any time soon...

Music. It's even more useless argue than politics.

[In response to yesterday's letter, these three souls sent in their two cents, one piece of mind and a heap of opinion. -- Thor]

Hey Thor,

I'd just like to say that I completely agree with Clariphone man. Final Fantasy has become really weak in the music department. I was never as moved by music as I was when playing Final Fantasy III and its a real disappointment that it was the series prime in music. I played the Final Fantasy VIII demo and all I can say is that the music didn't move me at all, and that the victory song is uh, well, it's there, but I don't care that it's there (I really didn't want that to rhyme, but I didn't have a choice).

***

For the record, FF7's music rules. Damn near all of Uematsu's work rules, but FF7's music stands out. FF7's music style is completely different from the superb style of FF4-6 (I haven't played the FFs before FF4, so I can't judge the music in those games), but that is in no way bad. The themes are much more subtle; they're also longer and less repetitive. The fact that Uematsu overhauled his music style and still turned out 85 pieces of music (most of which are excellent) in a short time shows what amazing talent he possesses. Sure, there are still some bad pieces (the Corel-Ropeway Station-Gold Saucer combination was pretty bad), but it would be nearly impossible not to have some bad themes in such a long game.

Now to refute Clariphone man. He first says that the classic battle music changed. I couldn't have been more pleased by this change. The battle themes in FF4-6 are pitiful compared to the other themes, which is annoying since you hear them so often. In FF7, Uematsu finally realized that this was one theme worth doing a good job on, and he turned out the amazing FF7 battle theme. If you think about it, though, the old battle theme intro simply wouldn't work in FF7's completely different battles - it doesn't set the right tone. The old battle themes, although not great to listen to, still fit the battles. If you imagine an FF7 battle with an old FF battle theme playing and you should be able to understand why it doesn't work.

Next, Clariphone man says that the victory music changed a bit. This is a minor annoyance at worst, considering you only ever hear this theme for a few seconds at a time. Hardly an argument to condemn the whole game's soundtrack on.

Then Clariphone man says that the music is repetitive and boring. The average length of an FF7 theme is much longer than any of the FFs before - 1:32 compared to 1:15 in FF6, 1:02 in FF5, 0:40 in FF4 and 0:37 in FF3. The music may be considered boring if you like music blaring in your face; many of FF7's compositions are delicate and subtle.

His next argument has merit - Corel's theme was bland and emotionally sterile, and the Ropeway station's theme was god-awful as well. But then he says that Costa Del Sol's music was "as epic as a dogs stinky lump." EPIC??? It's music for a goddamn resort town. No composer in their right mind would compose music for a resort town with the intent of it being epic. And personally, I thought Costa Del Sol's theme fit the mood perfectly, even without being epic.

As for FF8, from what I've heard, it seems that Uematsu has overhauled his style once again, and I'm reasonably pleased with the results. If you look at FF4-6 as a group, FF7 and then FF8, you'll notice that they all look completely different. I think it's only right that they should sound different too. FF8, being modern, should sound modern also, as it does.

Nobuo Uematsu's talent has not wavered in the slightest. He has proven to me that he can write superb music to fit any RPG situation imaginable.

For more on the subject, read Bishop Wilkin's editorial on RPGamer, 'The Superior Music of Final Fantasy Seven.'

Lastly, some figures on FF music: FF3 contained 44 themes averaging 0:37(minutes:seconds); FF4 also contained 44 themes, at an average length of about 0:40; FF5 had 67 themes, (this includes 8 'piano lessons' which aren't really themes - in reality, there's only 59 actual themes) the average time was around 1:02; FF6 had 61 themes with an average of 1:32 each (if you factor out the final boss theme (running time 17:39 on the soundtrack - it plays through twice) and the ending theme (21:35), the average drops to 1:15, which is closer to the truth); lastly, FF7 had 85 themes averaging around 1:37 (excluding the final boss and ending themes drops this to about 1:32). These figures speak for themselves. -- CS

Nice argument, but I don't really see how those figures help your argument any. I mean, unless you wanted to back up people who believe Nobuo was overworked and thus "screwed up" Final Fantasy 7's soundtrack...

***

I dunno if the person who wrote in complaining about FF7's music knew this, but the guys wide died that year. Give him a break for Thor's sake! (Sorry... sorry... had to get that in ^.^ ) I'm willing to bet if your wife died you wouldn't exactly feel like working either, yet he finished the track. The music came out *OK*, but not what I'd been expecting from square after FF6. May Suikoden live on forever!!

Um. Two points: 1) Making people feel guilty for disliking a product because of that product's maker's personal problems is kind of a weird tactic. 2) Don't replace "God" with "Thor". I really don't need any help winding up in Hell, thankyouverymuch.

Unfit for Print

Ah Thor, My internet equivelint to Killborn, Awile ago I read that Square had "No Plans" for a US release of FF4-6j. If this is true will Rpgamer have a pettiton simmilar to the Xenogears pettition last year. I think that if square see's that everyone and their suspender clad monkey will buy it, maby, just maby well get our hot little hands on 3 very bitchin' games. If you dont post this, I would appreciate a response. Thank's for your time.

-- Capn_slick

What's wrong with this letter? Oh, nothing... except Capn_slick sent it eight times! People, please. Use a little logic. The more times I read your letter the more I'll grow to hate it.

Satisfying Quickies:

Steff says: "just read the newly "fixed" archive and found in the very first Q&A listed (March 31) where someone asked what PHS stood for; it has to be Personal Hailing System". Um, thanks Steff. I'm sure that guy's been dying to know. For almost a year. // An anonymous RPGamer writes: "I may be wrong, do you actually play other genres besides RPG's?" Yeah, of course. In fact, just today I messed around with TM2. I also dig fighting games, and light tactical/strategy games with a fantasy touch. (Fighting with tankes bores me; fighting with Dragons makes me feel "Hella buff".) // TR and a few others said: "If you don't realize the error, go see today's column from the answer of the 3rd letter down..." Actually, I missed that. My bad. It looked fine in Netscape. Really. I can take a screenshot if you like. Grumble. // Roaron hates me, as you'll soon see: "I know that answering this question might give you lots of hate mail, but you HAVE to answer this to make your readers really know who you are: Which is better, Playstation or Nintendo 64?" Well Roar, I'll give you a straight answer, no beating around the bush or wussing out: I love them equally, just for different reasons. Heh heh. // And finally, MasterTonberry asks: "Have you ever played any emulated/translated Japanese RPG's (FF2,3,5)" Yes, I have. But I didn't inhale.

Thor Stuff:

Well, there you have it. A new day, a new look. Don't forget to write me and say what you think. Just stick "new look" in the e-mail subject, it'll help me sort 'em out.

OK. This sucks.

I wrote out this entire column thinking today was Wednesday, and here I've just been informed that, indeed, today is Thursday. Two things have come of this:

1) Undenyable proof that I am an idiot.

2) Plans for Thursday Thorsday Madness scrapped; moved to Friday.

Go on, kick me. Right in the arse. I deserve it. Oww.

Anyway, it's thundering outside--I must be more upset than I thought--so I'm heading to bed, a tear of shame running down my face. Sniff.

- Thor "Get this thing off of me! Aaahhh!" Antrim.
If Foley quits I'm going to comit sepaku.

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