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ASK ANDREW
And If The Ground's Not Cold... January 22, 2005

Andrew Long - 9:00 EST

SO ANYWAY, last weekend was an exciting journey for me, and had the added bonus of being entirely unexpected. Yes, the culinary delights of my kitchen are many, and generally result in poisonous effects of some description. Specifically, my practice of preparing meat and veggies at the same time and then sampling the veggies in midcut is probably best described as "doomed to disaster."

You may well imagine, then, what might have prevented me from updating last weekend. I still feel bad about it, however, and would like to apologize. The remaining pork chop will be sacrificed to neighbourhood pets in an effort to atone for my transgressions. In other news, because somebody around here has only been posting four letters a day (and somebody else has been vanishing entirely), we have a considerable backlog of letters, so if you've sent something in recently and it hasn't been replied to yet, take heart, for it'll be showing up soon enough. This is also no reason to stop sending in new letters, of course (except for you, kupomogli. We still delete your letters on sight, so I really don't understand why you keep sending them.)



Ramblebox
yawnyawnyawn..stupid NHL.. stupid NHLPA..yawn.

-AL  


L E T T E R S
Adventurous


Yesterday Google was talking about certain gamers focusing on a single genre of games too much, and commented that RPGamers are the worst offenders. Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but RPGamers aren't that bad. Adventure gamers are by far the most closed-minded (and often arrogant) gamers around. Let me give you some insight into their thought process.

Since adventure games allegedly require far more critical thinking than any other genre, obviously the people who play those games are smarter than the "pimply-faced adolescents" who play FPSs. Even RPGamers aren't immune to this criticism.

Now, this is where RPGamers might begin to cross over with the adventure folk. Adventure gamers are almost universally resistant to change. They still want painted 2D graphics with the same point & click gameplay that began in 1987 or so. 3D games "are ugly", and groundbreaking adventures like Gabriel Knight 3 are left by the wayside for not being old-school enough. Maybe RPGamers should explain to the adventure people why they appreciate 3D, as RPGs are slow-paced as well. The crossover here lies in the gameplay. I know that many an RPGamer would be thrilled if every game played exactly like FFVI.

As for a question... hmm I don't have one other than "what do you think?"

-JuntMonkey


ANDREW


Adventure gamers are the way they are because adventure games are one of the few genres that has not had the temerity to go mainstream in the past fifteen years (aside from regrettable incidents like Myst, which doesn't count because even my mother has played it). Yes, back in the day, one could be content to like RPGs and feel vastly superior at the same time, because there was a certain geeky cachet in knowing that practically nobody else at school would have any idea who Kefka was. Now, however, Final Fantasy has pervaded the consciousness of mainstream America, even as other genres have also expanded to include a decidedly less nerd-oriented group. Granted, "geeks" will always make up the core of any video game audience, but the difference between adventure games and other genres is the fact that adventure games are almost entirely played by those of us who live and breathe gaming.

So don't be too hard on our adventure-gaming brethren; adventure games are pretty much the last bastion of 1337tn3$$ in an increasingly 1337-$7r4pp3d world.



The dilemma of perfectability



Hello Andrew,

I recently came into the possession of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I have managed to use three nights to my advantage to explore every aspect of this game. Nintendo truly has something going for Mario in these titles. I can't wait to see more of them.

What I would really like to know is that if there is one thing that you feel could have been put into this title that wasn't included? I have played the majority of the game and there is nothing that I can find of as of yet that could be improved upon or added.

T_H_Locke


ANDREW

It's funny you should say that, because I'm currently about halfway through the game and I'm finding all sorts of little things that irritate me. For one, the graphics just aren't very good, which is surprising given the attention the visuals have been given in every prior entry in the series. The music is pretty mediocre too, which is disappointing in light of the wide variety of tunes there are to sample from in the Mario universe. Finally, my biggest gripe comes with the gameplay, which is engaging enough, but not really very complex. Maybe I've just played one Mario RPG too many, but it didn't really seem to me like the various moves and tricks that Mario and his cohorts perform were really that well thought out, and the level design is simply awful.

So yeah, I can think of one thing... The trouble I have is choosing which thing distresses me the most.



Polling the electorate, if you catch my drift


I apologize in advance if this isn't exactly the best place to write in about the polls, but there doesn't appear to be a section for poll comments anymore.

Anyway, where's the love for us 1280x960 users? If you'll notice, 800x600, 1024x768, 1600x1200, and almost every other resolution that modern monitors use has an aspect ratio of 4:3. 1280x1024, on the other hand, has an aspect ratio of 5:4. The vast majority of computer monitors are designed for a 4:3 aspect ratio, which means that using 1280x1024 will cause things to look horizontally squished. It's not even technically widescreen, which is 16:9.

1152x864 is another proportionally correct ratio that some people use, but it's rare enough that I can understand it being left out.

Anyway, for the sake of having a real question, do you know why there isn't a link for poll reactions anymore? I know they weren't usually bursting with action, but there was occasionally some interesting discussion about the topic.

P. J.


ANDREW

I hate to break it to you, P.J, but you get no love because that resolution is just plain nutty. As to where the poll reactions have wandered off to, I would imagine that because the polls have been going up so infrequently lately, it was decided that there's no real point in having a thread devoted to them anymore. There's also the fact that the space for the poll in the new layout has been reduced somewhat, and I can tell you that the outright elimination of the poll was an option before we ultimately decided to keep it.

If you do enjoy discussing the poll results, you do have another option open, of course; you can post a thread in the message boards to discuss it at any time. Heck, who knows... If you do it regularly enough and it gets good response, maybe you can even convince Zach to put the official thread back. He is, of course, the evil twin, so how much luck you'll have in that regard is anyone's guess, but it's always worth a try.



Well now..


Hi:

I just saw on www.1up.com a release date of March 14, 2005 for Final fantasy VII: Advent Children! Obviuosly the questions would be if this is indeed true, if it is an American or Japanese release date or if you guys know anything about it. Thanks Rocker-otaku


ANDREW

All I know about this date is that 1UP seems to have gotten it from a fansite called adventchildren.net. What credence you give this date is entirely up to you; it's based, from what I can see, upon a translation of an interview that RPGamer has yet to verify, although we do have our translator on the job. Expect to see something on it in the next little while, though if the AC.net translation turns out to be dicey, you may not.



Take that, internet bad guy!


To the guy that seems to think there have been no good RPG's since PS1 (or atleast a lacking of them): "Quantity != Quality, and, if you've been playing RPGs since before you got a PS1 and FF VII, most just aren't willing to sacrifice one for the other."

I say you aren't looking hard enough. Since there are way too many to list since PS1 came out, here are some of the more recent ones. Xenosaga, La Pucelle Tactics, Disgaea, Breath of Fire V, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Tales of Symphonia, Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Sword of Mana, Zelda: Minish Cap, and the list goes on. Yes there have been plenty of crap ones (mostly coming out of S-E, who seem to think their name is enough to carry a game now) but there are also plenty of good ones if you look around.

-- Kalledon --


ANDREW

Thanks for sharing, Kalledon. For the record, I agree with you that there have indeed been good RPGs since the PS1 bit the dust; it's just that the genre is aging, and with it, its fans, which means that inevitably, some of them will grow crotchety and insist that 1994 was, in fact, the greatest year in the history of existence and that kids nowadays don't know squat. These people are known as "cranks". It is your duty to laugh at them.



FFVII AC: What people were thinking about a week ago


Wow I just can not believe the stupidity of some people. I usually read the Q & A,s and laugh at how people act, but this time I was blown away. For a series of Final Fantasies magnitude if find it ridiculous that people would not realize what the FF line was all about. This is even more evident if "my son and i read rpgamers.com on a regular basis and turn to it every time we are stuck in role-playing games". If a person if reading this page on a regular basis then it should be VERY clear none of the close to 12 FF games have any connection with each other (minus FFX-2, and the link between FF 12, and Tactics).

Well I guess I should ask a question: Ummm any good voice actors lined up for FFVII:AC?
Nicholas


ANDREW

..Close to 12? Interesting... Anyhow, Square Enix has as yet had precious little to say about the North American side of FFVII:AC. Apparently, however, according to that same fansite I mentioned two letters ago, the bigwigs at SE are considering a theatrical release, so if that happens, you can probably expect to see at least a couple big names line up for their shot at VA infamy. Until such a time as the plans are firmed up some, however, I don't know that we'll be hearing very much about anything.



My brain... my juicy, chess-club brain!


I have been wondering for some time as well as other as to exactly why there is an absence of Yasunori Mitsuda, thus, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as Soraya Saga. I am pretty sure you cannot offer more than what is already known about Soraya Saga, but would you happen to know if there a specific reason behind the absence of the former two groups? And even though Saga worked on Episode II, would it be at all probable that Episode II of the Xenosaga series will end up being like the second Episode form the Star Wars series, that in comparison to what was already delivered, Episode II, both series', would be looked down upon?
ANDREW

Dude. Stop. Take a breath. Calm down a little, and then try asking this question again so that I can understand what on earth you mean. As closely as I can tell, you'd like to know why Yasunori Mitsuda is missing from Xenosaga Episode II. He's missing because he's not the one that's doing the music for the game. Why this is the case is anyone's guess - maybe he got tired of his music getting little to no screen time - but the fact remains that someone else is on board now. As to your Star Wars query, I'm afraid it's beyond my powers of comprehension. I have absolutely no idea what you're trying to ask, and I'm not sure I want to know at this point.

I also hope this is not asking too much of you, but would you also happen to know as to why the improved fishing system in the Gameboy Advance version of Breath of Fire was never implemented? If it is what I believe it to be, would that also be the same case with that "Deluxe" version of Sonic Adventure, even though it is obviously not within the genre specialty here? Also, why were the translations still in place with those first two Breath of Fire titles re-released for the Gameboy Advance? The manuals for them were pretty much spot on, save for the characters' names. Also, was there ever some sort of detailed character statistics screen in the GBA version Breath of Fire II? Even going as far as measurements? I believe I remember seeing screenshots of it before with Nina at least, and it did all look like something generated by the Gameboy Advance, it was also entirely in Japanese, even going as far, I think, as to list measurements, I won't swear to it though, though it may be possible that it was omitted from the domestic release, kind of like that one shot of the GBA Breath of Fire box art shot in the GBA sequel. And why exactly was Danc's appearance in Breath of Fire altered? And why exactly has Namco not released the Domestic version of Tales of Phantasia? The third chance they get, and they are still hesitating...!? I am pretty sure they know it has a market over here. You'd think they could tote the fact that it is minor voice acting... Again, I am sorry if all of this is asking too much of you, but I am still quite curious about all of this. Sorry for the trouble, and thank you for your time.


ANDREW

See, you wouldn't have to apologize for the trouble if you didn't ask sixty questions at once, each more incoherent than the last. As it stands, I don't know what improved fishing system you're talking about, what your beef with the translations is, why you're asking about something you say you've seen with your own eyes, or why Namco does anything that Namco does. Namco is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Its reasons are its own. Anyhow, I'd be more than happy to answer your questions, but please, keep them to a reasonable number, and state them clearly so that I have some hope of being able to find the information you're looking for.



Hello, hello...


Despite all the negitive reviews this is an enjoyable game. have you tried it yet? And for those on the fence give it a shot you will be impressed. Oh and my love for you is big meow!

ANDREW

Thanks for sharing, evan. I have yet to try Suikoden 4, but there's a good reason for that: I have yet to try Suikoden 3, and upon ruining Suikoden for myself by playing Suikoden 2 first, I resolved not to repeat the process with the second couplet. As to your love for me, umm.. woof?



Can you tell this letter is weeks old? 9 out of 10 dentists couldn't


Three points:

As for the bonus disc with Xenosaga Episode 2...it's coming. I checked the website for EBgames...and it's there. I asked about it at the store....and while they said they had no record of the bonus....they also said that if it's on the website, it will be in the store. It will be shipped with Episode 2...similarly to how the bonus was handled with Episode 1.

Speaking of that bonus, is there any word on an "Art of Xenosaga: Episode 2" book? I would love to continue that collection.

Onto the main issue. How serious is it that one of the main story creators for Xenosaga is jumping ship? Could the series be put on hold "indefinitely?" Could that "indefinitely" change to "permanently?" We're already waiting between 2 and 3 years for subsequent entries in the series...how long could the wait be now?

an RPGfan


ANDREW

I wouldn't worry too much, my friend; pretty much everyone who worked on the bulk of the FF series has jumped ship from Square Enix in the past few years, but I somehow doubt that series will be ending. Similarly, Xenosaga is a popular series, and if there's one thing that sells in the world of gaming, it's repetition, and specifically, series. I think Monolith and Namco will keep churning 'em out as long as they're popular, and given the anticipation I'm seeing for Xenosaga II, I don't think that popularity is in any danger of waning, at least not any time soon.



Release date mishaps


Hi,

Do you know if Wild Arms Alter Code F is still coming to US shores? As far as I know, the release date was fall of '04...Has production been canceled?

Thank you,
Wayfarer


ANDREW

Fear not, my furry friend, at this point, Alter Code F is still on its way. You've just made the cardinal error of trusting a quarterly release date is all. Until a company nails down an exact date, you should treat those quarterly estimates as just that; educated guesses, designed to give us fans reason to continue existing until that particular quarter, at which point we can curse their existence and ruminate upon the cruel fate that would see our favorite games so delayed. Blizzard used to do it to me all the time.

Anyhow, you're in luck, for Sony has nailed Alter Code F right down. It's not anytime soon, unfortunately, but the merry merry month of May will bring you your Wild Arms, specifically, May 24th.



Unfit for Print


Is there a site that recaps the story for you from a previous role-playing game so that you won't have to replay it to remember the sequel, seeing as most sequels come out a year or 2 later?

ANDREW

You know, I think you've discovered an untapped internet market! Why don't you start that site and see how popular it becomes? Seriously, if you can get it off the ground, I'll be your Q&A guy! Failing that, replay the game, you lazybones...





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Now that Friday is safely in the ground, we turn to Saturday. For tomorrow, let us speak of the biggest disappointments of 2004. What game let you down the most? Why did it disappoint you so? Is there anything it could have done to disappoint you less, or do you just have impossible expectations? I'll be the judge of that!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long has declared the laws "No Magic" and "No Fighting".


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