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ASK ANDREW
The Return of the Quickie April 8th, 2005

Andrew Long - 12:54 EST

THAT'S RIGHT, FOLKS, after months of going without, I have finally gotten off my ass and cannibalized some HTML, and the results are nothing short of barely adequate! On the upside, the colours match and the fonts look mostly the same, so once I get rid of these crazy yen symbols that seem to have originated on the location from which I have stolen bits and pieces of the quickies, we should be good to go.

At any rate, funeral coverage starts before too long, and if they can string it out long enough, it might just run back-to-back with the royal wedding! If I cared about these things, I'd be set! Set, I tells you!



Ramblebox
Note to self: hype Katamari Damacy soundtrack.

-AL  


L E T T E R S
An introductory non-sequiter


To all those brave men risking life and limb on a daily basis to bring us the latest in video game paraphanelia,

I'm surprised that no one else has mentioned this... I was certain that Imperator was an April Fools joke. It was published on April 1st and was throughly ridiculous. Modern day imperial Romans flying around in spaceships? Would they have progressed to our level of technology and style, or would they still be wearing the soldier hats and toga viriles? Of course they wouldn't, if the game were to be at all realistic. It's just too weird, and I own Katamari Damacy.

So imagine my surprise when I confidently click on the article that comes clean on the jokes... and Imperator isn't there. I think there must be some mistake... but no. I checked out the propaganda and started watching the interview. RPGamer wouldn't go through the trouble of faking that. So Rome is going to live, conquer the rest of Eurasia (if not the world), and fly around in spaceships. I suppose slaves will still be imported as gladiators and forced to fight one another in spaceships.
ANDREW


Before we get to the questions, let me just mention that where I come from, Canada, a cartoon ran back in the 50s or maybe the 60s known as Rocket Robin Hood. Half Superman ripoff, Half Spiderman and the Marvel Comics Super Action Heroes Adventure Hour clone, it followed Robin Hood and his merry men on their adventures... through space! Yes, in the amazing years to come, Rocket Robin Hood, as capably animated by the superb talent Dick Horn (among others) fought off the forces of NOTT, led by the nefarious SPACE SHERIFF. Or something like that. At any rate, I guess the point I'm trying to make is, you can make almost anything better by throwing it into outer space. But only if you equip the characters with a jetpack, electro-sword, and amazing laser-powered quarterstaff.

ANDREW DANGEROUS, SPACE AVENGER


That's right, space friends! Join me in the amazing weeks to come as I fly through space, mining asteroids for their astro-rum!

I suppose I have two questions:

1. What on earth is Mythic thinking?
ANDREW DANGEROUS, SPACE AVENGER


That the amazing weeks to come will be a lot more amazing with crazy Romans in space! Now make yourself useful and get me some rum!
ANDREW


Ahem?
ANDREW DANGEROUS, SPACE AVENGER


...Fine, ASTRO-rum. You're reaaal lucky you have those photos, you little freak...

2. Why would such an article be published on April Fools?
ANDREW


Strange as it may seem, stuff does occur on April 1st sometimes. For instance, did you know that Square and Enix merged on April 1st? True story! And, if you watch Fox News, it's also the day the pope died!

And in other completely different news, I actually do believe that the rating system should go back. I don't know if the article agreeing with me was written in jest, but the math is right. And in addition to that, the ten system provides for more specificity within the review. Almost all other reviews I read, both on the internet and in magazines, rate out of ten (the ones that don't rate out of a hundred), and it seems that RPGamer, by adapting a lower denominator, is striving towards laziness. Few games will get a perfect score, but a 9 out of 10 is going to mean a hell of a lot more than a 4 out of 5.

Eagerly awaiting the time when I'll have enough free time to apply for the RPGamer staff,

The Pezman


ANDREW


Actually, the scoring change was not initially enacted out of laziness, but rather as a result of a sentiment shared by the head of interaction and our fearless leader, who believe that scores should not be the point of reviews, and that giving people fewer choices will force them to be more honest, thus reducing the number of games that end up receiving 7/10. I happen to disagree with this particular sentiment, since in my eyes, there's plenty of grey area between 4 and 5 out of 5, but I mean, what do I know? It's not as though I've written any reviews in my day, after all...


A dissenter?


Well, despite the lack of grammar and punctuation, I agree with everything Paine said... except in the P.S. And to dispute you... I own a NES (which has ceased to work), SNES, TWO Playstations (one PSX model and the other PSOne), a PS2, a Gameboy (which has also ceased to work), a Gameboy Pocket, a Gameboy Color and my most recent system purchase, a Gameboy Advance.

I love ports to handheld systems, and to a lesser extent, remakes. I love being able to take my Final Fantasy I&II on trips (Well, FF1... I honestly don't like FF2), my Zelda 1 port, Breath of Fire... even Sword of Mana kept me very entertained while I was 6 highway-driving hours away from my consoles. I would love to see ports and/or remakes of some of my favorite games to hand-held systems. Hell, if they ported FF7 to the PSP, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. FF4, 5, 6 to the DS? Sold.

Sure, I love my old consoles, and I love playing the games I have on them. Battle Toads and Double Dragon, or Super Mario World for example, are so much fun to play on a TV with their original controllers and slamming the cart into the system (well, putting it in with a bit of effort... my system's pretty old). But, if I can't access my system for whatever reason, and want to play some game... a hand-held port would be awesome.

Don't take me to say, though, that I'm against original games for these systems, though... I'd defend this statement, but I'm far too lazy after all that.

Oh yeah. And in Wild ARMs 1, ARM stood for Ancient Relic Machine.

-Still Needs A New Handle


ANDREW

Thanks for sharing, you handleless freak. I am, however, going to have to grudgingly agree with you upon consideration, since my NES too is fried beyond hope, and even worse, my FF1 cartridge wrecked from too many "cleanings" with vinegar (I have no clue what I was thinking with that one, and hereby choose to blame my father). In the end, crappy consoles and portability are in fact a good reason for ports to be done. I still don't like that most ports end up with something annoying tacked on, however; be it the stupid voice sound effects inflicted upon Mario in various remakes of old NES and SNES titles or load times upon FFA, there's usually some cause for complaint.



Religious SPOILERS!


Yoyoyo.

Ahhh, religion in games. While somewhat over-used, it does make for some scorchers now and then. Some light spoilers shall surface here and there, so if you don't want hints as to what happens in Alundra, Breath of Fire 2 and Grandia 2, shoo.

Take Alundra, for instance. That game had one heckuva strong, actually fairly depressing story based off of what happens when someone exploits one's need for something to believe in. I'd say more, but I'd end up spoiling the story, so I'll just say that between the sweet, hard gameplay and the story, it's one of the best games you can get for either the PS1 or PS2.

That, and I rather liked how BoF2 did the religion thing. Even after things screw up and the obviously Christian-based religion turns out to be the evil one while the dragon-based one turns out to be the good one, you can still go to be healed and save in the churches, and you get the impression that most of the priests out there are still good guys, because the principles of the St. Eva church are still worth following even if the god himself isn't.

And there, I think, is why religion is such a well-used plot thingy. It allows for a lot of easy ways to take the story out of the blacks and whites and into the greys. It also allows for an easy villain, with the classic "whoops your religion was a lie and now you have to take out the god you thought was good/the religious leaders who tricked you" plot twist. Which, again, is over-used. I did kinda like how Grandia 2 did it: Even though the rest of the story was pretty ordinary, having the evil god infiltrate the good god's religion to twist it was one of the better twists I've seen.

Oh yeah. A question. Uh. Now that we've got a portable system with a better resolution, a bigger screen and a proper SNES setup in the DS, do you think we'll actually see a Terranigma/Tenchi So Zo port at some point? Or maybe even a collection consisting of Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma?

Because, y'know... That'd rock.
--
- Person -


ANDREW


You've actually hit on one of my main sticking points with the use of religion in RPGs; while it's certainly good to have shades of grey instead of just plain old good vs. evil, too often it just ends up becoming "wa hey! Good is evil, and evil is good! STICK THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT!" which in my books simply qualifies as irritating. The examples you've pointed out are an instance of it not turning out too badly, but in FFX, for instance, it was readily apparent that the church was up to no good, which kind of took away from the potential surprise value of the story.

As for Terranigma, it'd be nice, but there are plenty of late-SNES era RPGs out there that deserve a day in the sun, and nobody seems to be making any move to introduce them to the North American market, so I'd be hesitant to say there's much chance of it happening with Terranigma, especially since its graphics weren't really all that hot. Still, Square Enix hasn't really made a habit of releasing new material, so anything's possible, I suppose.



The continuing adventures of Steve the Monkey


Hi,

Me again. I'm glad to hear that steve wasn't hit by that car. But I'm glad for several reasons. It seems that while he was operating my computer, he decided to "borrow" a certain item of mine. When I saw the accident, I assumed it to be destroyed.

Since I keep well stocked in bananas at all times, I assume he will return at his next oportunity. Any advice on how to capture a clever monkey?
----
Best Regards
Christopher Beaupre


ANDREW

Hmm.. That's quite the quandary you've got there. I'm not much of an expert on dealing with wildlife, so I recommend you go here and flip through those video segments until you come to #27, Marlin Perkins Wrestles A Deadly Anaconda in South America. While it may not teach you how to deal with monkeys, I think you will find it most amusing, besides giving you an important perspective: if that old guy can take on a snake like that AND maintain such immaculate silver hair, surely you can catch a naughty monkey!



Chesh II: First Blood returns


Hello again Q&A person

Andrew, you asked what kind of music I spin. I mainly spin techno and house music. I used to do break beats at a club on the weekends or at parties.
ANDREW


Ahso. Sounds like a DJ from around these parts who used to have a show online before iceberg media ate the station, who went by Deadly Headly. He used to make Monday nights worth sitting through.

As for religion and translations in games comin here... I do know on the translations that it does get watered down when brought over from Japan. I have played a couple games like FF6 English and Japanese and Relm swear quite abit in the Japanese version than the english. As for the religion part... In quite a few games I have been playing or in most cases there is usually a cult, following, gathering, etc, etc. trying to revive and ancient god from some religion or another. Or, a group of heroes wanting to revive their god or savior for the benifit of the world only to have the god or savior actually be an evil one that was revived because the church kept things hidden. Kinda like FFT in a way. From what I have noticed it seems like the christianity is a common used religion in games. As for a fair shake, it goes both ways being good and evil in games. It all just depends on how ya look at it. Anyways, I am gonna go play abit of SMT: N, (decided to rent it and try it out. So far so good at the moment.)

Cheshire Catalyst.


ANDREW


While I frequently rail against Nintendo et al for censoring religion and other stuff out of games, it's not like you can really blame them; US media coverage is already derogatory enough when it comes to video games in general, and the last thing they really need is the religious right coming after them foaming at the mouth. If all it costs game developers to stay out of the bomb sights is editing out a cross here and there, I guess it's probably worth it. Either way, you are correct when you say Christianity shows up a lot; that said, there's plenty from other religions too, if you know where to look.


Again with the corruption


religion in RPG's, huh? now there's a topic I can really sink my teeth into! It seems to me like for awhile it's been pretty much the in-thing to criticize organized religion. As early as FF Tactics, there've been major themes of corrupt religious authorities and institutions, which we've seen again in Xenogears and FFX (and even before then, BoF2 featured a corrupt church as a major plot point). There aren't any games I can think of with a positive view of institutional religion as a major plot element, but there've always been games with whose gameworld-framework involves religious elements. I remember Chrono Cross' mystical mishmash of Gaia theory, cosmic evolution and quasi-pantheism. And then there's Aeris, a positively-portrayed character with religious associations (the church, her final limit break, her sacrifice, etc.). Plenty of games have benevolent divine entities, such as Wild ARMs' Guardians and the SoM series' Mana Goddess. I suppose much of this tendency has to do with RPGs' relation to the fantasy genre. And then we've got Chrono Trigger's mention of the "Entity" toward the end of the game. I found it especially interesting in Chrono Trigger that Lucca, who's characterized as scientifically-inclined and rational, is the one to suggest the idea of "the Entity", as a higher power guiding the party and overseeing time and space, toward the end of the game. In FFX and FFT, religion is very much tied up in perpetuating lies and myths, but here we've got the voice of reason proposing something theological.

-Jackson Ferrell


ANDREW

Hmm. I do believe you're right about Lucca, which is particularly strange when you consider pretty much any form of entertainment these days portrays anybody in a position the least bit academic as a stonefaced atheist. I think the reason that games have the tendency to make religion evil is because most RPGs generally involve a threat to the world, and when you're looking for things that can threaten existence, you're pretty much limited to either comets or the supernatural. Usually, what qualifies as an ambitious plot is combining the two.



The "don't ask, don't tell" subtopic


A gay lead character in a console RPG?

Trying to hit that vast, untapped 18-25 closeted-homosexual-male-gamer-who-likes -anime-inspired-rpgs-and-making-spikey-blond-haired- japanese-manboys-engage-in-violence-with-robots- and-giant-blob-monsters demographic, eh?

Yeah, that'll pitch well at the SE shareholder meeting.

Seriously, the only things I ever saw my ex-girlfriend's homosexual roommate use any kind of computerish device for were to type papers and meet dudes in chatrooms. This is a boundary that's not going to be broken, because no one cares if it's ever broken.

Drinkslinger

P.S. I will personally force Bettman and Goodenow to eat sandwiches of each others' turds if they get my hopes up-again-only to emerge from these talks bitching about each other.


ANDREW

Thanks for sharing, Drinkslinger. I don't entirely agree, since I have met a number of people on IRC who fit perfectly the description of the demographic you have described, but you're probably right when you say that it likely isn't a big enough demographic to attract S-E's interest. And yes, if Bettman and Goodenow don't get their freaking acts together this week, i will drive a truck filled with explosives to the NHL head office, shoot them both, pile them into the truck, set them on fire, have a dog urinate on the ashes, and then blow the whole dripping mess sky-high. Well. Figuratively speaking, of course(let nobody accuse ME of uttering death threats ^^;;)

As an aside, you'll be happy to know that your ridiculously hyphenated word broke the table code in this column, causing the letters table to appear much much wider than it has any business appearing, at least in Firefox. Oddly, IE was smart enough to bend it to its will. Guess Microsoft doesn't have a total monopoly on bafflingly stupid browser idiosyncrasies.



A cunning riposte


Andrew,

Brother?! Psssh, not my idea of "strong, brawler". He uses his damned ass for attacks in FFX-2 Inter. for cripe's sake. I think it could be pulled off (in my mind if I had control, yay Rob!) with a good story. Anyways, yeah, I think religion sometimes has a tendency to censor certain things from games. La Pucelle Tactics is a perfect example of this. Prier's staff is adorned with a cross, yet in the NA version it is completely photoshopped out. I remember, I was talking to Amish in #reviewhaven one day while he was playing it to review. He told me of a scene where someone (probably Prier I don't remember) was hovering above the ground, but it was obvious s/he was supposed to be on a crucifix. I dunno, other games aren't censored like that (FFT, FFX, Xenogears, Xenosaga series) even with many religious similarites and references, so I'm not really complaining. It's kinda funny, in a tired, going to bed way.

"You wound me to my soul",
<3
Shroudie


ANDREW

I think you've misread the topic, but yes, such censorship does occur. And hey, don't blame me - I haven't played FFX-2, and I never will, so it's not as though I had the chance to see Brother get dandied up even more.



The continuing parade of letters from my fellow staff members...continues


Dear Cast,

Though I can't really think of too many games off the top of my head that deal with religion, other than Final Fantasy X and Xenogears, I know that in those two cases, religious institutions are the enemy. So perhaps you've got something going when you suggest that game programmers could be "bitter atheists with a bone to pick against religion."
ANDREW


Throw in FFT (and by extension, VS, though the link is a little muddier there), BoF II, and probably Star Ocean 2, and you definitely notice that trend emerging.

As for a question, I heard a rumor that Xenosaga MCMIV was in development. Is this true? Who will be developing it? Why haven't you posted any news about it? When will it come out? What will the story be about? Will it be a direct sequel to Xenosaga MCMIII? OMG I can't wait till it comez oot! kthbye<3:)!
Carlisle


ANDREW


You're just lucky you have that highly successful new column that everyone's talking about...


J earns my love with a pre-HTML formatted letter


Cast

You asked if you think religion gets a fair shake in Japan, and I find that to be an interesting question.

From where I live, most people are the opposite of religious. This is strange because I always thought that the Japanese were two or three relgions at the same time. Religion just doesn't seem to have the importance it does to Western countries or countries that are predominately one faith like India.

Since Christianity was more or less prevented from entering Japan by the government, I think most Japanese are curious about it. They see it as something foreign, and while they may know some of the very basics, they don't really know anything about it. As such, it can easily be twisted to become the major 'villian' in an RPG. The Japanese know enough to get some of the references, and they can always use the internet to explain the rest.

You can also throw in the fact that the Japanese are just a little on the xenophobic side. The basic reaction to foreign stuff is either curiosity or fear. I've seen so many women and children be absolutely terrified of me just because I'm six foot tall and white. Why they are scared of us is beyond me, but Christianity and religion is kind of the one thing that can represent us all.

So there's my two cents.

Jordan 'J_Sensei' Jackson
Japandemonium Columnist


ANDREW

An interesting perspective, to be sure, but I think if you look at what's going on politically in the United States right now from an outsider's point of view, it is slightly ludicrous, and I would probably be a little scared of Americans if I was a Japanese citizen who had never seen one before. I'm not saying this to be critical, mind you; it's just that I've seen European newscasts (they show them overnight on CP24, a local 24-hour news carrier) and their coverage of American current events always seems to have an incredulous tone to it. Basically, I guess it's just hard for people outside of North America to understand how so many people can accept the unmitigated nonsense that pours forth from the mouths of politicians on all ends of the spectrum hereabouts, and so it's only natural that such an illogical group of people would be met with a certain level of xenophobia; after all, if you're dumb enough to fall for some of the spin-doctoring out there, you're probably dumb enough to do something violent and contrary to the interests of that Japanese mother and her child.

Anyhow, I've probably dug myself in too deep at this point, so I'll just conclude this by saying that it doesn't seem all that baffling to me that someone would take that attitude. I've talked to Paul about this too, and he's experienced it firsthand, and he says that it's highly frustrating.



The ex-Bushiban teacher strikes again


Hey Andrew,

Bowel Buddies? That's pretty nice. While in Taiwan, I was subjected to Digestive Cookies. Maybe it was that attractive poop-brown color the marketers thought would stimulate digestion. We had Squid Snack too. But at least the Taiwanese marketing staff had the excuse of badly translating something out of Chinese.
ANDREW


Well now, hold up just a sec. There's actually "Digestables" on the market up here, and while they are an unwholesome brown colour, they look like cookies and are actually quite tasty. I don't think that's all that terrible, although Squid Snack, which my friend Jim insists on buying at every available opportunity and then eating in his car with the windows rolled down, does turn my stomach without fail. How can something that smells so rancid possibly be appetizing?!

Religion and religious references in gaming is an interesting subject. As for a fair shake, I suppose it depends on your point of view. Some view it as (A) an essential vehicle to facilitate the God-human relationship, while others see it as (B) a vast and elaborate money-making and mind control scam, or at least (C) a semi-harmless opiate for the masses. I identify with (A) so I tend to see things that way. My recent favorite example is the Cult of Althena in Lunar 2, where there was a mixture of brainwashed zombies, corrupt officials and devoted followers. A little of all three. As for programmers, I have the impression that they throw in whatever they feel like (with an eye toward marketing). But I have no idea what their motivations are. Maybe their bowel movements.

Ke Da-Wei
Formerly the evil Taiwanese Bushiban Teacher,
Now the evil American Music Theory Professor


ANDREW


I think you were probably closer with your first guess, but who knows... Maybe if we send Square Enix a box of Bowel Buddy, they'll stop crapping out lousy games.


Frogfucious says...


Hi Andrew,

First time writer here. As for those Bowel Buddy Wafer laxative thingies... those are just a bad practical joke waiting to happen. Just take 'em out of the package, put them in a tupperware on the counter, and wait for your unsuspecting roommates to steal them. Good thing April Fool's is already past us. But anyways...

For the last two generations of RPGs, so many of these games have either used religious symbolism (mostly Judeo-Christian), or have actively commented on religion itself.

Xenogears, Vagrant Story and La Pucelle (among many others) use very obvious Christian imagery. More often than not, the groups, churches, or organizations associated with this religious imagery are often corrupt or flat-out evil.

But I donít think the writers, directors, and producers who create the storylines in these games are trying to attack religion. I can certainly see how some of these games could be offensive to some conservative Christians, but I think the gamesí creators are really just presenting their own philosophies.

Games like Final Fantasy X, Grandia II and the Lunar remakes promote very humanist ideas, like the notion that people should work together to solve their problems instead of relying on traditions or gods for help (which, in the context of many Japanese RPGs, typically turn out to be either false or evil). Another frequent theme Iíve noticed is finding meaning and strength through interpersonal relationships rather than religious faith.

As a secular humanist myself, I find that some of these ideas are eerily similar to my own, something that I rarely experience when enjoying video games, books or movies from my own culture (American).

Another thing to consider Ė maybe some of the philosophy in these games is influenced by traditional Eastern religions. Iím no expert on the subject, so someone please correct me if Iím wrong about anything, but certain philosophies in some Japanese RPGs, like living a balanced life and the lack of absolute good or absolute evil, seem very similar to Buddhist lines of thought on the subject.

Which brings me to my question - How much do you think Buddhist or Confucian philosophies make their way into Japanese RPGs?

-Ragnarok9999


ANDREW

I'm going to suggest that said philosophies make their appearance in very subtle ways. Now, this may sound highly flippant, but consider: is it not true that in many RPGs, the middle path is often the true one? Eh? Eh? Bleh. As you can see, although I took a survey course on religions and studied both Confucionism and Buddhist practices, my roommate stole my textbooks and moved to BC, and so I am neither sufficiently familiar with either practice, nor flush enough with textbooks to give you a detailed answer here. That said, I'm fairly certain that if you look, you will find evidence of both in a myriad of small things. Or at least, you would if translators didn't get their hands on things and ball them up with North American sensibilities.

That's another thing to be mindful of, actually; things may start out with an eastern perspective, but eventually, the stuff we get to see ends up going through western hands, which means that western sensibilities get superimposed upon the original intentions of their eastern creators. This is not to say, of course, that Japanese developers are blind to the eventual release of their games in a North American market, but I think that if you examine things, historically they really don't give a damn what we think.



A debate from the week resurfaces


Hey QnA,

I, too, think that the idea of a FPS-influenced RPG would be pretty cool, providing it was done right of course.. I would suggest a fairly normal wandering-around-town and talking-to-NPC's take on most of the game, but as far as battles go, I'd like to see something similar to Star Wars: Republic Commando or Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (why must their titles be so freaking long? Especially since there's only one BiA game??) Yeah, that'd be pretty cool, I think.

Another thing that would be cool would be extremely open-ended weapon customization. You know, have some modular construction system in-game that would let you take, say, your "Dark Mythril Death Barrel" and attach it to your "Super Stock" and hook those up to a customized firing mechanism and an "Isochronic rangefinder" and then proceed to load this weapon with whatever ammunition you wanted. Say you were out of bullets? If the gun was a large enough calibre weapon, you could, perhaps, shove a scredriver down the barrel and... the possibilities would be endless, humorous, and fun!

My questions for you, answer-beast, would be: What do you think of my ideas? What cool weapon would you construct if this system did, in fact, exist? Should I be let out of the house?

Thanks a bunch,
-Lunch?
p.s. You don't even want to know how long it took me to remember which name I use to write in...


ANDREW


I think that your weapon customization system sounds entirely too much like Vagrant Story for my comfort, but then, it also sounds a fair bit like Knights of the Old Republic, and that game is quite good. I haven't played either of Republic Commando or Road to Hill 30 (and there's a subtitle because you can bet there'll be another Brothers in Arms before you've had time to finish reading this reply) so I'm not quite sure how to rate that idea, but I will assume they involve some sort of first-person combat, so I guess it could work out okay. I think what would be fun would be to take an MMORPG setup and change the mechanics so that things operate like an action RPG. Then add guns. That's pretty much the only thing we're talking about here, you know, and it's already been done in Link, although the targetting of the bow and arrows leaves much to be desired.

So yeah. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't know how this thing held your attention for so many days ^_^



Identity Theft Affects Us All


Greetings Cozumel

I have a query right now. That last Q you recieved last weekend was exactly like the one recived to the monkey. But that one claimed to be from someone claiming to be me? What is the story about that? Is there someone impersonating me? Or did someone clone me? Do you have any idea on who this is?

Imperial Mog


ANDREW

No clue, since I delete a letter as soon as I post it here. I will say, however, that you have inquired about this impostor scheme from two separate email addresses, so I don't know quite what to make of that.



Gleep


So, I'm reading the day's Q&A and come across a letter that says "I read a lot of books and a good 75%of them are mediocre if I'm lucky"......What the heck is that guy reading? Fan fics? Dungeons and Dragons books? Eragon?
ANDREW


A-fricking-men. What is up with people and that crappy piece of garbage Eragon? I read the sample paragraph my sister was quivering over, and I couldn't believe that it actually interested her. Then I warned her against picking it up day after day and yet, here we are five or six months later and whango! A large, expensive, atrociously written paperweight appears in my living room overnight! When will people learn that most writers don't get published at 16 precisely because stuff that people write when they're sixteen sounds like garbage? Granted, he's working at a slightly higher level of trash than the mawkish fanfics drooling over the potential for love between Celes and Matlock, but geez, does it really warrant a giant publishing deal just because he got on a few talk shows? GRR!

Sorry, Eragon irritates me, mostly because it proves that my sister is ridiculously stubborn, however many times she ends up admitting I was right after the fact.

So I have a short list of good authors and books for that guy (stick with me, I'll get to the RPG part in a sec):

For something dark but at the same time lighthearted (and easy reads): Diana Wynne Jones.

Something just plain out weird and twisted: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Of course: J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Any C.S. Lewis book.

The Harry Potter series isn't that bad.....Just extremely easy to read. They're pretty dark too.

ANYway, cut that out if you want to (if you put this up in the Q&A).

I also saw a while back someone mention that Square Enix is no longer "original" (sorry, I'd have emailed sooner, but I lost my internet connection for a while). Was Square ever original? The times they try to be original, fanboys shoot them down ("I hate the Junction System!!!! We should hire assasins to kill them all!!!!!!" Or: "Saga Frontier is AWFUL!!!!! I HATE THEM ALL!!!!!!!" Or: "WHAT THE HECK?!?!?!?!?!? I HATE FFX2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KILL THEM ALL!!!!!!!!"). Face it, Square has only been good in the story department (although, I liked the battle system in FFX). The only reason people like the old ones better is because they were the first. They didn't have high expectations like they do now. Always, they expect a new, good, battle system. Only thing is, the battles have never been that great. I like the battles in Xenosaga (Ep. 1, not Ep. 2) more because you actually have to think a little bit instead of the "press X and win". Even FF7 had the tired ATB system. The only thing that kept me going on that was the story.
ANDREW


Hmm. Interesting theory, but generally speaking, up until that fateful news conference when the company execs decided to milk the Final Fantasy name until it was a withered grey husk of its former self, the company made good games. Heck, it made compelling, enjoyable games, and whether or not they were the only thing around, the fact remains that I can still play Final Fantasy VI today and enjoy it, nostalgia notwithstanding. I will reiterate my belief that the current problem facing Square Enix is the fact that so much of its top-rate talent has departed the company over the past couple of years. It's like taking the Red Sox and removing Pedro, Manny Ramirez, and Johnny Damon. Sure, it'll still be a respectable team, but it's just not going to do as well.

Oh, another person asked "what reason does Crono have to save the world and why can he?" Uh....duh. Maybe he had a sense of justice? Maybe he felt he should help the people he loves? That's why I liked the hero Crono, he didn't need to have a hidden agenda to save the world. Also, the last boss was just an alien. It didn't really look like a superior being, any human could've killed it (as long as they had his strength.....I guess.....).

Sorry, didn't mean for it to get this long.
ANDREW


No problem, you frothing maniac!

Oh.....question......I'm not really big on the whole MMORPG area of RPGs. Why do people love it so? YAY!!!!! Let's all waste time on leveling characters that have no real goal!!!!! Yes, I like story driven RPGs (didn't like tales of symphonia and star ocean: tteot, because of that). So, what's the point? What's the draw? Why waste money on it?


ANDREW


I don't know... Why do you use so very many exclamation points? MMORPGs are a draw because they combine gameplay that leans heavily towards work-to-reward principles best described by a rat-in-a-maze scenario with the ability to turn an inherently antisocial activity (RPGs) into a social one (MMORPGs). If a game can turn even one social retard into a person who can carry out something resembling a conversation, I'm all for it. Also, WoW is the best game evar. That is all.




q u i c k i e s

Dear Andrew

This has been Bothering me for a couple of weeks now, and I would like to ask you If you happen to know where that Quote, "Well, goodbye... make sure nobody eats your soul... except me, that is. " is from? Sounds interesting to say the least.

The Q&A area use to have quickie part to it were people would make guesses at the qoute on the website, if they get it right they would get "~~". what happen to that?
Marie

ANDREW:Ah, I would like to help you, but alas, since nobody has guessed, I have been unable to award a tilde as yet. Suffice it to say that it is from a game, and if you've played the game, you should know the character right away, since that's kind of his hobby. I'm afraid I've said too much, however, since somebody is sure to get it now that I've said that, so alas, Marie, you are up the creek!

Letters? About anything? Really? Oh, man, the possibilities are without limit! I suppose, though, that a question would be in order, this being a Q&A column. Well, for starters: why is the address qna@rpgamer.com instead of q&a@rpgamer.com ? And if it's due to some sort of ampersands-aren't-allowed-in-email-addresses-ever rule, well, why the heck not? What if I want a collective email address for myself and a bunch of people? Must I really take the time to type out the word "and" every single time I want to log in and check our email? In fact, why are we bothering with writing in the first place? Tell me, Andrew: why not psychic powers? Why not? -Jackson Ferrell

ANDREW:Because HTML doesn't like ampersands, that's why. It wasn't my idea, so don't yell at me.

Hello there

How rude, you didn't answer my last letter, but maybe I sent that to the other guy.

Anyway, here goes...I've been watching full metal alchemist for a while now and noticed that the SquareEnix logo appears at the end of every episode and it was also mentioned in the review of the game that they were involved in the series. Exactly what did they do....did they write the story or what?

/Thorulf

ANDREW:Well, I'm answering this one three months late, so I can't imagine you'll be any happier with us, but what did Square Enix do? Create the concept. S-E owns the rights to the FMA franchise, and from what I can tell, it probably licensed it out to what appears to be Sony for production. Anyhow, I hope you write in again; I promise I'll answer more quickly next time.


C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

And there you have it: proof that talking about religion leads to exceedingly long (but exceedingly on-topic) columns. For tomorrow, we will eagerly await Chris to update us on the status of a certain truant monkey, and we will talk about every little thing. There's also a wealth of gameplay videos out there this week, so if you'd like to talk about your thoughts on how some of these upcoming games are shaping up, now is your chance!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long demands satisfaction and challenges you to a duel!


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