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questionanswer&andrew


Who Wants A Body Massage?

Andrew Long - May 29, '04 - 13:30 EDT

YESTERDAY, I MADE THE GRAVE ERROR of eating KFC for breakfast. You'd think after having watched such a daring piece of expository journalism as Supersize Me I would be extraordinarily wary of such fare, but no - heedless of the condition of my already rotting guts, I went ahead and ordered. As a result, though the day was pristinely blue-skied and vibrantly green-treed, I spent its remainder feeling like dirt. Actually, I'm apparently not the only one to engage in such an abhorrent practice - my friend's roommate would apparently get a week's supply of breakfast KFC from his family, which he would then reheat over the course of the week. As my friend described said reheated KFC as "wrinkly," I think I got the better end of the deal in that the KFC I ate was at least fresh, but let's not kid anyone - it's a pretty lousy deal all around.

So having learned from my lessons, I now proceed to write this column and then on to a better, more wonderful breakfast of leftover pizza. I truly am a renaissance man!




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A Link hat to boot... hee


Nintendo makes some bad choices, but those choices don't seem to have hurt them as much as one would predict. That's because the two things they still do exceptionally well are: making fantastic games, and ripping people off who want to play them. It started with Pokemon Red & Blue, then came 4 different new Game Boys within 5 years (and the required accessories to make each one work), then Crystal Chronicles, and now Four Swords. Not to mention that nearly every game they create is multiplayer, getting us to buy four controllers for the Gamecube or N64, while I have a grand total of one for my PSX and PS2 combined. The company certainly does know how to make money. And we complain and complain... but we still buy the link cable to play 8-player Mario Kart Double Dash, and a Link hat to boot. Why? I have no idea... but as I sit here using an NES controller as a belt, I have to admire their skill at manipulating me. I think I would vote for Sadaam Hussein as President of the U.S. if his campaign posters had a screenshot of a new Star Fox game on them.

LockeZ

ANDREW
Hmmm... Somehow I think politicians are more at home brutally repressing videogames rather than using them as promotional material, but hey - John Kerry showed up on an MTV interview in hilarious woodenness once, so perhaps the day is not far off where lame videogame slogans will be incorporated into election campaigns in an effort to attract us delinquent younger voters. As to all of Nintendo's merchandising, perhaps part of the reason we let them get away with it right now is that they're the underdogs in the console wars - they NEED to sell all those extra controllers just to stay competitive, and since we all love our Nintendo (you'd better be loving your Nintendo, you bastards!) how can we possibly say no? Okay, there's my fanboy moment for the day. Wash, wash, wash.. why won't it come out?


Another jerk gets Xenosaga cheaper.. I mean, hi Shroudie :D


Castoquirk,

Ahh, you do please me well with topics. No wonder why you lock me in the close...err, I mean, all's well in Q&Adom. Xenosaga's really interesting so far, granted the cinematics can be quite..enduring, but I'm enjoying it so far. Monetary expense isn't bad considering the low price of $15-$20 a pop. Ahhh, Greatest Hits, I love thee so. Of course, not as much as you, O' Creamsicle One! There are other games on my list (ie. Disgaea, KH, The Bouncer, Xenogears etc.), but I wont pick them up until I'm done with the previous. Topic time! Nintendo's use of GBA for Four Swords isn't really being greedy. Like people have mentioned before, the use of a GBA for a controller helped in a way in which you could access items, menus, etc. without bringing up another screen. People kinda got ticked when they bought said hand-helds for FF:CC, but on the upside, they have another multiplayer to use them for. See, Nintendo's making use of those sales of GBAs and letting the consumer get more for their money. Granted, I could really be rambling on about nonsense and making up sexy innuendo as a I go along. Let's see the Feds make sense of that! Yes, I'm jealous of your finding and discovery the other day, but remember, no treasure is as good as me! Then again, I feel sorry for you because of the cartridge that relic contained. I hope you smashed it with a hammer and replaced it with another game. If not, may an injection of creamsicles cure your incoming doom. For tomorrow, I'll write you a lovely haiku because I feel dangerously randomopiumized and haiku-ish.

Sleep cannot come sooner,

O' Shrouded One

ANDREW
The only thing the consumer gets more of for their money where Nintendo's Q-Team GBA connectivity death squad is concerned is GBAs. It's the whole point of the "studio," and I declare it to be purest evil.


School me this, school me that...


Hey - I'm a long time reader, first time writer. That said, I really hope I'm sending this to the right email address the letter column.

Lately, as part of my fervent attempt to relive the 1990's, I've gone back to play all the 'classic' RPG's of the Playstation that I never got to when they first came out. I've been working my way through Xenogears the last couple weeks. I've currently got Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy VIII, Chrono Cross, and Persona 2 on my "to-do list."

The question is.... are these games "New School" RPG's or "Old School RPG's"? I remember back when they were first coming out, they were the "New School," contrasted to an "Old School" of Final Fantasy IV-VI, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, and so on. But now, as we recoil in horror from Final Fantasy X, X-2, Xenosaga, and a host of other voice-acted games with the letter "X" in them, the generation of the PSX is starting to feel comfortably "Old School".... Now that we have a new generation of "New School" RPG's to shake are canes at and rememeber about "Back in my day...." what is to become of the old New School?

Hoping that made sense,
~The Mighty McClaw

ANDREW
The old "New School" is still the new "New School", because the schools don't really refer to time so much as they do to a certain style of RPG. Old-School refers to the older, sprite-based games and the gameplay that went with them - in general, fairly simplistic battle systems and tighter gameplay - while the new-school tends to indicate the newer, graphics-oriented approach to RPG design that has held sway ever since FFVII arrived on the scene. Granted, a lot of the time you'll see the chronological definition used for the sake of convenience and not blowing anybody's mind, but in my eyes that's basically what the term entails. Incidentally, I liked FFX a hell of a lot better than any of the games on your to-do list, so if you're recoiling from horror now, just wait until you waste fifty hours of your life on LoD, forty on FFVIII, and another thirty or forty on the last two. That's 130 hours you could better spend playing through FFX again, and I highly recommend doing so.

Incidentally, please write in again... I don't know how I managed to do a column without a reader named the Mighty McClaw, but in retrospect, it was a bleak and unclawsy existence (with the possible exception of my other regulars, who I of course love dearly.)


Hmm.. this seems suspiciously like a form letter


I guess this will pile up in your mailbox until next week end... but then you will have content for the next Q&A with my favorite host.

Hello (insert random modification of Castomel/Andrew)

(Insert random joke/comment/creamsicle to make everyone think we are old friend)

Yup, after all these years I got the recipee to the perfect Q&A letter... and now I abuse it in my 4th letter by Quentin Taran... I mean, Soul.

As I have noticed readin Q&A for a couple of years, there is 2 main type of question. On that will result in an answer and the other that will result in a long speach from the host. The latter has been the most popular for quite some time now, poor you as it warant more work out of you.

ANDREW
I'll let you in on a little secret: I love the sound of my own voice, so to be honest, that really doesn't bother me ^^

I guess I also like the latter. So, with all the creamsicle love I can give (which isn't much since I never tried a creamsicle) here is my question.

Have you noticed how, in not too recent years, the focus has turned from replay value to amount of play time to complete in RPG.

It has been bothering me for quite a bit personally. I recall having played more than twenty times FFVI and it was fun every time. The game takes me about 24 hours to complete with about everything completed other than having level 99 on every characters. Nowadays, it takes anywhere from 60 hours to 3 years (in the case of such games as FFXI) to complete a game. Once I am done with a game, I usually never play it again even if I want to. (Xenogears comes to mind) Also, because there is so many unfinished game in my collection, I mostly stick to the basic and don't do any of the side quests anymore. (FFX comes to mind this time)

I think there should be more shorter RPGs. Of course some people like them long and that's ok with me, but where are the short lovable RPGs? Last one I played that was a pure 8 hours of fun every time was Parasite Eve. I must have finished it 8 times and it was fun every time.

Soul

P.S. Sorry if my english sucks at time, it is not my birth language.

ANDREW
Hmm.. Well, I will agree that I don't really replay games much anymore, but it's not so much because they don't have replay value as it is because I have too many other games left to finish. Back in the day when FFVI was still the king, it stayed on top because there was nothing else until Chrono Trigger to occupy us. As a result, we had a good year or so to play through FFVI and then replay FFVI and then memorize every scene in FFVI and then become the reprehensible clutch of anime-loving, new-FF-bashing old geezers we are today, which is to say, plenty of time. Now, no sooner do we finish FFX than do Breath of Fire V, Xenosaga, FFX-2, Disgaea, Kingdom Hearts, and any number of other RPGs I'm forgetting come barreling down the chute to eliminate any chance of replay.

I still do try and get every ounce of gameplay out of titles - I sank 120 hours into FFX - it's just when it comes right down to it, I end up moving on to newer stuff because that's what everyone else is talking about at the time (and when you write a column about what everyone is playing and talking about, it's in your best interests to get the newer stuff.)


Woohoo, two illiterates in a row!


Seeing as I am in Japan right now (studying at Waseda University) and actually playing Four Swords with 3 of my friends, I thought I'd write in with my opinion. However, seeing as I am lately only speaking Japanese, I'll apologize in advance for any problems with my English; I feel like I'm trading my English vocabulary and literacy for Japanese daily...

In terms of connectivity, each of us has our own SP hooked up to the Gamecube and when one of us is absent, that person's character simply runs next to the third player and mirrors his actions. In the actual game, you control your character on the TV most of time until going off the main screen (entering a house, dungeon, the Dark World, etc.), at which time the action shifts to your Gameboy screen. Game text also shows up on the individual screen of whoever initiated the conversation. To get to another screen while on the main screen, all four characters have to be running together in the same direction. Often, to solve puzzles you have to pull switches, push objects, or stand on platforms together. In each level, weapons like the boomerang, bow, or rock feather are available and balancing the choice of weapons among your team is necessary to progress. While playing together, you compete for gems which translate into a kind of point system. At the end of the level, you vote your friends based on how helpful or unhelpful they've been and they are awarded or docked points accordingly.

But that's all already in the RPGamer preview. So, I'll talk about how these things actually are panning out in our games.

I was very skeptical before about any useful application of the Gameboy Advance link. I had also played some Crystal Chronicles, which, aside from irritating me for being bad, irritated me for making me use what is simply a less comfortable and versatile controller. But Four Swords is the first game where I actually see the connectivity being integrated into gameplay in a useful way. I like how the action switches to the Gameboy screen in individual situations. It allows for more individual movement, rather than simply following the 1st player around everywhere, as often happens in other multiplayer games. This is often implemented so that individual action is necessary for the group to progress. For example, in one level, one person has to enter the Dark World (going onto their own screen) then carry each of the others across a pit impassible in the Light. At the same time, I like how it allows the other players more freedom as they can stay on the main screen while one person goes into a dungeon or building. It creates an interesting combination of single and multi-player modes in the game.

The drawbacks I believe are somewhat specific to my situation. Since I'm the only one who can really read Japanese, we have problems when one of the others goes off individually and has to read something only displayed on his screen. This wouldn't be a problem if the game were in English, since you could just tell the other people what is being said. Another language problem is that kanji are hard to read on the Gameboy screen, often so small and blurry to seem indecipherable. But based on the Gameboy Link to the Past, this problem shouldn't come up in the English version. In terms of using the SP, it depends on how much you like using the Gameboy controls in general; to me they are a little small and tiring to use at length. Aside from the comfort factor, for the purpose of the game the controls themselves are fine as this basically controls just like the SNES Zelda Gameboy port.

For the game itself, it's a Zelda game. If you like them, you'll like this game. It has better graphics than the Gameboy Advance title, improved with some Wind Waker-esque effects. It feels like A Link to the Past with the added benefit (or annoyance) of playing with your friends. However, Four Swords feels less open-ended than that game, as you are simply placed in an area in each level without being able to freely move between them in-game. To me, this constriction of freedom seems somewhat necessary in order to have the four player game work. It characteristically lacks a real engaging story. You do a lot of slashing.

What's interesting about playing this game is how it demonstrates a bit of what Nintendo could do with the two screens of the new handheld. The TV in this case functions as the communal and the Gameboy the personal screen; these could easily be set up the same way with the DS with its wireless abilities. So now I'm looking forward to that, and hoping that I'll still be in Japan in time to buy it ahead of time too.

Luke

ANDREW
Well, that's good to hear. Based upon my own experience with FFCC, I hear what you're saying about the whole game dragging down the connectivity side. FF:CC's GBA use had some merit, but in the end, it just felt like a lame excuse to gouge us for the extra couple of hundred dollars. Not that I didn't see the benefit in having separately accessible menu screens, but it felt like a little bit of development trickery could have made that unnecessary.


Seemed? Nay, was!


You seemed confused about it, so I shall elaborate.

R.A.D. stands for Robot Alchemic Drive, it was a game that featured horrible voice acting and giant robots that you control using just the shoulder buttons to walk, the analog sticks for the left and right arms, and the buttons for weapons. Anyway, the game was awesome other than the voice acting, there's nothing quite like the feeling of upper-cutting a gigantic alien into and through a few skyscrapers. It's not very RPG-ish though, other than the fact that you can spend the money you earn (or don't earn if you destroy a few too MANY skyscrapers) can be used to upgrade weapons or buy new moves.

Anyhow...I went and bought PSO ep3 CARD Revolution a day or so ago. So far I'm actually quite pleased, this odd melding of PSO and cards and dice seems to work rather well. I'm still not sure if I want to be playing online or not though. Maybe someone else in your readership can give some advice? Maybe even you yourself, though I haven't ever heard you mention the game?

HolyDragon

ANDREW
You'd have to go with the readership on that one, since the only time I've played any PSO was when I was under the influence and thus very much amused by the pretty colours. As such, I'm profoundly unable to offer any reasonable opinion on the game itself, although I must say, about 20 minutes in, the carpet in front of me started doing very interesting things. But we digress... That R.A.D business sounds an awful lot like Rampage to me. Now readers, come forth and offer up opinions to the holy dragon, for he is... a holy dragon!


YOU 'DREW
QUICKIE I
Hologram battlers--Jesus, how did you remember those things?

What today's future RPGamers need is a revival of the In-humanoids. I puked on the floor of Ames when I was about five and saw that thing with no skin that trapped people in its breastplate.

-former drinkslinger.

Some patron took a bullet in the head at the bar across the street and I realized I might not be libating alcoholics in the safest neighborhood

Andrew:
What the world needs is a nice timequake, to send us back to the 80s where we belong. Then we can roam free with the Inhumanoids and Droids and Ewoks, blissfully unaware of the Power Rangers and other horrors awaiting us just a decade away. Oh, and as to how I remembered? I used my head, silly!



DA LAST GRUMBLE

Well, that tears it. I'm afraid tomorrow's column will have to be about old school vs new school, and how you define the two. Come on, we've gone whole months without discussing this tired old chestnut, and besides, if we do it on a Sunday, there'll be trickle-down effect to Google on Monday, forcing him to go over it for what must be the fiftieth time or something by now! Muhaha, and junk!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long is travelling around on a slab of rock in a sea of molten glurp. When slabs collide, mountains are born!

I'LL PROVIDE THE ANSWERS, YOU PROVIDE THE

QUESTIONS


<3 to Vonnegut

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