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Today is going to blow. Hard. You'll see why soon enough, but here's the main reason why: Instead of asking questions today--10% of the letters contained the word "question", about half that actually asked anything--everyone corrected me. Not the usual million corrections for an obvious question my inept lil' self got wrong, a correction for everything. From "Thor! That's not what 'NPC' means!" to "Thor! Reflect spells do too make sense!" to "Thor! Dr. Pepper is not your favorite soda, Storm is!". I'm starting to know what Final Fantasy 7's storyline feels like. I just hope all this nitpicking doesn't leave a rash. Oh well, at least I didn't hear "Thor! It is too your baby"


(Oh, and brace yourself for... Ultimate Madness.)

"Whut is it?" -- Peon, WarCraft II

Dear Thor,

I know that a lot are probably going to write and tell you this but tomorrow is Thursday and I thought you might want to know. Now with that out of the way the questions: Everybody is talking about Another Mind, what is it? It came (the promo) on my Japanese Final Fantasy VIII demo disc and I just wanted to know, becuase it really doesn't show you any of the game. Its just this chic walking around. Also, I would like to know if there is some king of RPG/Fighter out there. You know a game where you do everything like an RPG but when you get to a battle it turns into a Rival School-esque game? Thanks, Max Overkill

Another mind is a "dialogue adventure game", which is exactly like a text-based adventure game made in the early 80s, only you now you get to oogle Japanese girls in short skirts. Ever heard of Shadowgate, Kings Quest or Zork? Same idea, just a slightly different execution.

Do you crave the madness?

How come you never say anything about Shadow Madness? It looks like a half decent game, but the best status it will receive will be a sleeper hit. I can't understand why Crave isn't really hyping it. I check your column every day just to see if you have something on it (some scary people live in this world), but all is quiet. What's your take on it?

-- Meeeeaaaannn "WHOO", By God, Gene!

I really hope that was your sig. It was kinda, uh, hard to tell. Anyway, the reason Shadow Madness isn't being hyped is simple: The developers are afraid that if they start talking about how great a game it is, someone will bring up the fact that they made Secret of Evermore, and then people will rush to the local EB and cancel their reservations. (Kidding, really. There's no way of knowing why Crave isn't hyping the game as much as ya'd like.)

Saga Frontier's unpopularity exposed!

Hey Sexypants,

I was thinking about what you were saying about the complete lack of interest in SagaFrontier 2, and I hit upon a theory why SagaFrontier was such a bomb over here.

The instruction manual. This is the most worthless "instruction" manual I'd ever seen, not bothering to explain much of anything, and when I first started the game I quickly became frustrated, not understanding the battle system, not understanding what I was supposed to be doing. I gave up for a while and tried it again after getting the hint book, and I loved it! Once I knew what the heck I was doing, I began to win battles instead of losing them, I had more of a sense of which direction I was heading.

Another reason that I think a lot of people were disappointed was the fact that it's so non-linear, and FF fans (who I think were the main customers) aren't used to something like that. I myself prefer linear games like the FF series and Xenogears, but SagaFrontier is a nice change of pace every once in a while.

I think the main reason Saga Frontier wasn't popular is the game was almost totally unfocused. It wasn't the fact that it was non-linear, it was the fact that the non-linearity wasn't optional. In Final Fantasy 3's World of Ruin, you knew what to do: hurt Kefka. He was right there. Waiting. In SaGa Frontier, your goal is never this clear, which frustrated people.

Well, I suppose I should put *some* sort of question in here, so: when are we going to see that picture you keep promising, hmm?

-- Sarah

Time for another reason why today blows. I still haven't got that flargin' polariod camera. Have paitence, my poppets. You'll know what I look like soon enough. I promise you'll see my picture before, er, Final Fantasy 8 is released in America. <grin>


In RPG's (that is _Role_Playing_ games) do you think the mute hero, such as Crono, Link, or the talking/personality-prone hero/heroine such as Terra, Butz, Ramza, is the more effective story vehicle? Many would argue that the Crono-complex hero allows the player to delve into the game more wholly, but I feel that that is not true role playing. If you're playing a catatonic mute that hacks up things, then you aren't involved in the story, you're merely watching a robot in the story. If your main character has emotions, fears, desires (alright... angst too) then you are truly playing the role of that character, you feel Terra's pain as she struggles with her humanity, Ramza's feelings of betrayal by those he trusted, or yes, Cloud's angst... you become that person, you are the ultimate warrior... muahahaha


At first glance (at the genre name), it seems like you're right. "Role Play... playing a role, like Tifa, right?" Wrong.

When D&D hit the market, the idea was not to play a pre-determined character. It was to make your own. You and your friends wrote your own story, created your own characters and made your own choices. Did you know that almost all computer RPGs follow the tradition to this day? They have an overall plot (World of Ruin again; there's a main goal but what you do before that is up to you), random quests and encounters, and the rest is up to you. Who your character is, what he or she will do and act like, etc. Console RPGs have swayed from this original concept, to the point where one could call Final Fantasy 8 more of an interactive movie than a roleplay game, and rightly so.

It's rather like a story vs. a choose your own adventure book. In one, you read about someone else's life, choices, and victories. In the other, the book 'talks' to you, not some pre-designed character, and you shape the outcome of the story. (CYOA books aren't just for kids, there were several sucessful series of "One Player RPGs", which were CYOA's with a basic dice-based hitpoint system.)

You said it yourself. Ramza felt betrayed. Cloud felt angst. You aren't making the decisions you want to, you're acting in a play. Don't get me wrong, Final Fantasy 7's story is one of my alltime favorites, in any medium; but I wouldn't be surprised if they removed random battles in Final Fantasy 9 in favor of more preset storyline. If you ask me, the world would have been a better place if, instead of "Roleplay Game", console style RPGs were called "Storyline with Battles to Pad Things Out", or SwBtPTO for short.

Thor knows best

Recently, I was at a friend's house playing FF7. At one point, I looked at Tifa, then at my friend, and it hit - MEIN GOTT!!! THEY"RE IDENTICAL!!! The same long brown hair, same figure, they even fight the same! I've been cracking jokes about my friend's chest for years, and I never made the connection! The dialogue went like this:

Me: Hey, Tifa looks just like you!
Me: <unfit for print>

That made her she reach her limit break.

Still rubbing a swollen jaw,

-- Nameless

See? What'd I tell you? Girls are sick of hearing about Tifa's breasts. If you keep pushing it, you're going to have to admit to all your friends that you just got your ass whupped by a female like Nameless here.

It's high time we all showed female gamers the respect they deserve. Enough comparing them to busty babes in roleplay games, treat them as you would any other. Allow them to enjoy the hobby instead of being attacked constantly. And most of all, never, ever hit on them just because they resemble Tifa. Perfectly. Down to the long, flowing hair. And unearthly red eyes. And...

Say, I know. Why not e-mail me JL's phone number so I can, uhm, apologize on behalf of all male games? C'mon. Gimmy. Now.

Oh, sure. Ask the guy who never went to school.

Dear God,

Okay, I think I'm probably a nerd for doing this... but in Parasite Eve when they're testing Aya's and Maeda's cells against Eve's you can see how the cells react...

BUT when Klamp comes back he says "What're you doing to my electon microscope" or something to that effect... but electon microscopes kill living things. Even if Eve's and Aya's cells are powerful or whatever, Maeda's aren't, and they'd be too dead to be taken over.

Somehow I feel I shouldn't know that.

And it's lucky you do, because I sure as heck don't. I remember hearing something about electon/electron microscopes, but I was sleeping at the time. (It's a lot easier to doze when you do your schoolwork on your waterbed, gruph.) I know, I know, I shouldn't have skimped on my science. I guess I just have to face the facts: I'll acheive my dream of working as a electron microscopist in a Square RPG.

No comment.

Mr. Antrim,

You mentioned a book entitled "Elements of Style" today. Would this be the one written by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White? If so, is it even worth reading? My silly English teacher made us all take a copy home, but I've never done more than glance at it...

Aye, I believe so. The original author as an English teacher, and the book has since been updated a half dozen times throughout the years. The book is very worth reading, if not just to drill some helpful hints into your head. If you need any more proof of the book's worth, I offer this tidbit: Stephen King swears by it. Like his work or not, that man his freakishly popular, and he didn't get that way by writing badly.

Now a kinky something I noticed about Brave Fencer... Well, as I understand, Princess Fillet lives in All You Can Eat Palace... I think... and what does fillet mean? Well it means to cut into fillets of course, and a fillet is a thin slice of meat, and in reference to a steak, you fillet it to split it in half. Now, if you treat the princess as a 'piece of meat', then 'split' her, you can have 'all you can eat', if the palace name happens to hold trueif you know what I mean... heh heh... yeah... well... I just thought I'd share... I guess it's kinda sexist... treating her as a piece of meat and such, but whatever... sucks for someone...

-- Naveed


Dull but necessary debate. Ultimate Madness up next!

Looks like no two people can agree on the origin of Mursame/Masamune. See for yourself!

I'm not sure if I told this to you or the last RPGuru, but the cursed sword is the Muramasa, not the Murasame. Muramasa was Masamune's student. Muramasa was regarded as to have been possessed by a demon, hence the cursed swords. Murasame is a completely unrelated sword/forger.

-- MSN


Ok Thorsy, I thought I'd shed some light on the whole Masamune/Murasama concept. Masamune and Murasama were two of the most famous japanese swordsmiths. They lived during the fourteenth century and made some of the highest quality swords known to man. However, there is a legend surrounding the two smiths. Murasama was shall we say.... emotionally unstable (read tortured genius), and since the swords are supposed to contain the spirit of the one who forged them, his swords were said to be cursed, and bring ill fortune on any who possessed them. A man wanted to commission a sword from either Masamune or Murasama. (These swords are works of art. You didn't just buy one.) The man wondered if the story of the curse was true, so he obtained a sword from each smith and put them in a stream with leaves floating in it. Each leaf that floated by Murasama's sword was cut cleanly in two, revealing its lust for blood. Masamune's sword, however, caused all of the leaves to dance about the blade, displaying its innately peaceful nature. From that day forth, Murasama's swords fell out of favor, while Masamune's blades became the most prized possession any samurai could have.

--Flaw, who knows too much about japanese swords


Masamune swords (that's right - plural) are blades that were created by the great swordmaker, Masamune (I had his first name around here, somewhere...). They are real blades, and also REALLY expensive (they're actually priceless, so we're talking millions per blade). Now, since he lived in a time where they really didn't keep track of who made what, many of his blades have yet to be discovered (he made thousands), and so you'll sometimes see blades touted as being "actual Masamune blades" when they really aren't. Thus, a nifty little place in japan will "paper" (aka officiate) your blade for a reasonable cost (along the lines of a $1000 or so). They get a lot of requests for different blades, and they turn a lot of them away, so it's hard to say if there are still some Masamune blades out there. Basically, if you own an official Masamune, you are either: A) rich B) lucky with inheritences or C) a REALLY good thief (I'm just kidding, of course - but the blades are quite rare - think DaVinci of swords)

Murasame - I have yet to find any real japanese swords that bear this name. I've heard several meanings for the name: village rain, short rain, rain that falls on the village, village shark - but I'm not really sure. I think they're mythical - anyone out there know anything?


Kotetsu - another sword maker, but also the name of a type of sword (literally a medium blade - between a katana and a wakizashi). I'm not sure if there is any correlation between them - the blades could be named after the man, but again I'm not sure.

Muramasa - mythical blades. Caused madness in the user (neat, huh?)

Well, anyway - hope this clears a few things up. Also, if you want to know where you can buy a nice (REAL) blade, try this place out:

Thanks for your time,

-- Reave

Not surprisingly, RPG fans who can't even agree on Final Fantasy 7's ending really can't agree on the origin of ancient Japanese sword origins. :D

Ultimate Madness

Here is a picture I made (or rather edited...), enjoy!


<deep breath>

You're mean. =(

You spoony motherf---er!

hey thor

I'm not sure what most of the readers of the column mean by equating the phrase "you spoony bard" to a bad translation. I've noticed this happening more than once (in fact I think I remember you using it once) The term Spoony Bard was an actual Shakespearean insult as I learned in my Shakespearean literature class. I think this is a quote from FF IV? Maybe, culturally, it made more sense to use this lame outdated insult in place of a japanese one?

-- The English language lover

You're right, of course. It wasn't a mistranslation or a typo. We're not talking "Life is short, Bury!" or "Off course!" here, guys. We're talking a legit, though admittedly old insult.

People trash the "spoony bard" line--why? It's freaking hilarious, it's a great in-joke for us RPG fans (ever called your parents "spoony bards" to their faces? Try it), and it's a lot better than "!@#$ you, shinra!" or something goofy like that. We're talking early 90s Nintendo, guys. I'm surprised there were insults period, heh heh.

Unfit for Print

Thor Antrim,

I, Shawn "Shawners" Cooper, find you guilty of crimes against language for defending the status of "alright". Please read the following, and post it in your column, so that others are not misguided by your words.

al*right (adverb or adjective)

First appeared 1887


usage: The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use esp. in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occas. in other writing

An objective, if not conventional approach. However, those of us who agree with the OED scorn you.

-- Shawners


Hahaha, my Lord. Someone didn't pay attention to the last Unfit for Print's moral: Always double-check your complaint before making it public. Hehe, man.

I honestly can't decide which I find more funny:

  1. The fact that Shawn agrees with the Oxford English Dictionary, yet quotes Merriam-Webster.
  2. The fact that Shawn demanded I post a quote from the page I linked to just yesterday when I was arguing against his side of the debate.
  3. The fact that Shawn, a self-proclaimed English Major didn't take a moment to consider that Xenogears' dialog was entirely fictional, and therefor according to his proof (or should I say mine? I showed ya'll it first), "alright" is common, and widely accepted in fictional dialogue.
Hehe, man. This was fun. Anyway, my point stands. "Alright" can be found in a dictionary: Merriam-Webster's. "Alright" is fine in Xenogears, because the dialog is fictional. And finally, people should really pay attention to the morals in UfP. After all, this is a public service! I don't print the Unfit for Print letters to mock the authors, I print them to offer helpful advice to anyone thinking of writing to Ask Thor.

Yeah. That's it... :D

Quickies that suck because today sucks! Grr! Suck!

Professionally Repressed wrote: "Hey, we're not 'Cathloics,' ok? Cathloics are a rowdy bunch; they aren't like us good natured (if suppressed) Catholics", and then screamed "I'm so NAUGHTY". Sorry dude/ette, didn't mean to, uh, typo your religion there. // An unnamed RPGamer wrote: "I've already been [making my start page] for the past month. Do I get a prize?" Yes! In fact, you're the only RPGamer I'll send my old just-past-16 picture--wait, you didn't include your name? Oh well, guess you're going to have to wait like everyone else. // Root wanted to point out he wrote me a SaGa Frontier 2 letter. Oops. OK, so the ratio was 1:4000, not 0:4000. No wonder Square is working on SaGa 2! // Solid Snake yelped: "Who gives two #$@%! if someone uses alright? Come on, this is RPGamer, not Webster" Quite right. This'll be the last you see of the Alright debate. I almost miss arguing about FF7's ending... naw. // Gunblade said that in a poll a few weeks ago, SaGa Frontier 2 was voted most wanted of all unconfirmed Square sequels. Wasn't SaGa Frontier2 already confirmed a few weeks ago? My head hurts. // And finally, Rand took a huge chance pointing out: "I know I'm going to be widely hated for saying this, but the most popular book in the world(the Bible), is not only hard to understand, but very repetitive. Oh, great, I hope no one is going to start a religion based on Xenogears..." Lets hope not. If anyone called me a -Lamb-, I'd have to open up such a can.

Thor stuff

Well. That went better than I originally thought. See, I only got a few hours of sleep today, so I dozed off around 4:20am. ("Just resting my eyes" my arse...) I awoke with a start at 7:30am, screamed "Crap!" and rushed to the computer. Once I checked my letters, I was even more upset. I had, at first check, a total of one (1) question to work with.

As you can see, things got a lot better in the past four hours I've spent on today's column. (Excessive, but hey, it's Thursday!) The one problem I couldn't fix was the total lack of Thor pictures. The day I get that polariod, I am so blowing $30 worth of film.

Oh, and sorry if I didn't print your correction/thoughts on a topic today, but I figured the debate was kind of getting out of hand. To those who questioned my definition of NPC: While it's true that the original definition of NPC was any character controled by the Dungeon Master, in a csRPG, the meaning has mutated. To those of you who figured that the Reflect spell works like a mirror, thus bouncing your spells over to the enemies... no. You don't throw a spell like a friggin' ball, OK? Cure doesn't shoot out of Aeris' hand onto Cloud, it comes from within Cloud. Magic, by definition, breaks the rules of nature, and Reflect isn't bound by the laws of physics.

Bah! And to top off this oh-so-cruddy update, I accidently hit "upload" before I was finished, thus updating the main page and uploading a partially complete Ask Thor. It's, um, noonish, so I'd better get to sleep. Wake me up at around 5, kay?

- Thor "Maybe I'll dream of Teri. Ahh... Teri..." Antrim
Hatcher, that is. Raven haired beauty. Texas... no, wait. That's Beverly Hillbillies

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