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ASK ANDREW
I Have Misplaced My Pants
May 2, 2007

Andrew Long - 2:56 EDT

SO ANYWAY, I am once again at a loss as to how to start this sucker off, other than to say thanks for all the mail <3. So let's get digging. Also, how 'bout that little fiasco over at Digg? I find it highly amusing, or I suspect i would if I could wrap my head around exactly what the tussle is over... Apparently the characters 09 F9 somethingsomething have some significance to people?




LETTERS
Randomblings


Matt:

What? Matt's not here? Oh. Well then.

Andrew:

Welcome to the Pokemans Anonymous group. It hits hard and fast, and it keeps you coming back for more. Ultimately though, it will hurt you. And the ones you love. And the ones they love. Once you take your first hit, there's no going back. You know what they say. "There are two kinds of people: those who are addicted to Pokemans. And those who haven't tried it."

But seriously, what are your major criticisms with the game? Keep in mind that Pokemon hasn't changed its basic design since the days of the original Game Boy. Can you imagine retaining interest in basically the same game for a decade?
Andrew

Well, that's one of the major ones, I suppose; that basically, the game hasn't changed from the original. One other thing that is mildly irritating I hadn't noticed until former staff member Ryan Mance mentioned it: the text scroll rate is maddeningly slow. It seems likely that this could have been improved, and there are a number of useless messages that also end up being posted after enemies die, like "Bidoof was poisoned." And then kerplunk, Bidoof's dead anyway, so who cares.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the upcoming Buffy RPG. No, I jest.

But I would like to say something about non-RPG elements creeping into my RPGs, and also to throw out an article: (the article) That's the only link in my letter, I promise. I know better
Andrew

Didn't you know? One of the benefits of staff is you get to post any three links. It's like how presidents get to have any three people killed, except much less cool.

Basically, if you're going to make an RPG, make an RPG. Don't expect me to be, as the article calls it, a "twitch gamer." I'm neither speedy nor coordinated, nor do I particularly enjoy games that require me to be so. The button-mashing of Kingdom Hearts (an RPG with heavy action elements) and God of War (an action game with RPG elements) is about as close as I come to twitch gamership. So to answer your question, very. I want my RPGs to be very much RPGs. I want them to have job systems, I want them to be turn-based, I want them to have an epic storyline, and I want them to be complex in a cerebral, not visceral, way.

That's all I have.
-Jeffrey

Andrew

Hmm. I like traditional RPGs, but sometimes an action RPG is what hits the spot. I should also point out that most A-RPGs are a lot shorter than traditional ones tend to be, and in this day and age of shrinking free time, that's something I tend to place a premium on. That doesn't mean, however, that I like A-RPGs better because of that; I just happen to play more of them as a result of it. Then, of course, there are the traditional / action hybrids, a la the Tales series.



You're lucky you didn't ask when IV is coming out


So Andrew,

What do you think of the Shadow Hearts series? I'm asking because I recently picked up Shadow Hearts and Covenant at my local EB. They were both used and there was a sale so I pick up Grandia II too, which I know to be good. Not that I'm relying on your criticism but I'm just curious whether you think they were good buys or not. Also the previous Paper Marios were more suc-cess than suck in my book. And trust me; I've got one heck of a book.

me again,
-Pseudonym

Andrew

I've only played Covenant, and not the whole thing at that, but what I played, I liked. The battle system is a fairly inventive take on the LoD-style timing attacks that help make a conventional battle system somewhat more interesting than just yawning and mashing the x button repeatedly. The story is also interesting, and the game's overall presentation is pretty swell too. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped playing it; I suspect Disgaea had something to do with it, but it might've been an FF or something.



Randomblings seem to be in style today


Hey Andrew,

Super Paper Mario was good, but it was relatively short. I think I put in about 35-40 hours... and that was doing every last thing the game had to offer. Having said that, I don't understand why people whine and complain about "the good old days" when RPGs were "pure" and "unadulterated by genre-mixing." Has anybody seen Dragon Quest VIII? Wasn't that a "traditional" game? They're still around, you know.

I'm all for taking the same great idea and making it better, but what's with all this mamby-pamby whining, moaning and general complaining that RPGs have expanded to include genre-mixing? I get that there are features that people miss (like free-roaming, non-menu based airship travel), but pining for slightly-better clone after slightly-better clone seems ridiculous to me... For my own part, I thank the RPG gods that developers are trying new things and making good solid games in the end, not that they're slavishly sticking to what's "safe" or what worked ten years ago.

On another note: does anybody remember Persona 3? There's still a lot of confusion about whether it's going to include content added in Japan as Persona 3: FES. I know people are getting some nice pre-order loot, but nobody is sure if we'll get the extra content or not. Know anything about this? Going to get the game when it hits shelves?

Have a day,
- Waterfiend33

Andrew

Yeah, I too shake my heads at people who refuse to enjoy anything that was made after the SNES era, or for that matter, even after the PSX era, when things were still relatively conventional, however outlandish VII might have seemed at the time. The only way to improve something is to continually try to evolve it, and while there will still be a place for the DQVIII's of the world, ultimately the RPG world is better for the variety of battle systems out there. To anyone who tries to use this argument, I usually point out one thing: back in the day, after the FFs and maybe a couple of other games, what were we left with here in North America? A choice between the original Breath of Fire and Paladin's Quest. That's what doing only the same thing always gets you.

As to Persona 3, I have no clue. I also have no intention of picking it up, as I remain a SMT virgin.



Getting into a last word war with the guy who controls what goes up seems kind of silly


I disagree with your analysis of Golden Sun, but respect it as being valid. I lack the hardware to play Beyond the Beyond, and can only say that its reputation precedes it. Shining Wisdom is the black sheep of the Shining series with good reason. However, your own words indicate a liking for Shining in the Darkness and Shining the Holy Ark. And the Shining Force games play very differently from any other Camelot games, because there aren't any real puzzles, there are no random battles, and the tactical fighting trumps all.

To best calculate how I feel about Shining Force III, imagine someone ignorantly dismissing FFVI or Chrono Trigger and your reaction to it. Anyway. Examine this http://hg101.classicgaming.gamespy.com/chaosseed/chaosseed.htm and give me your take. I'm considering an eBay investigation of this title. Permanent death of characters in a non-tactical RPG - what do you think of the notion?
Andrew

Hmm. Well, assuming you can read Japanese, go for it. The game looks original, at least, and while the fact that it was never released here suggests its appeal may be limited to some degree, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad game; just that it is unlikely to have sold well enough to warrant a release here. I would, however, be slightly worried about the fact that the review there basically holds its nose when it comes to the point about the actual combat part of the game; while the reviewer seems much taken with the building elements, personally speaking if there isn't some use to this building, eventually I would probably lose interest, particularly if the combat is drab. Still, you have more reviews than I do, which means you've probably played a comparable amount of trash, so you've probably got the endurance for it if there is, in fact, a lacking combat system. So go crazy!

What other kind of insult is there than the feckless, morbidly nerdy? The pungently profane? The blatheringly boorish? The hardcore hatred? Either you're not a fan of Monty Python or you want me to come up with original stuff, is that it? JuMeSyn

Andrew

The kind that's actually insulting, I guess? And yes, while I don't take issue to Monty Python, using it to insult me just makes me feel embarrassed on your behalf, because it immediately calls to mind the image of a doughy dork lisping his way through the lines while struggling not to laugh at his own perceived cleverness. Forgive me, my mental imagery is unflattering to almost everyone, which can be explained simply by the fact that people irritate me.



It's random, and it's rambling... must be randomblings!


Hello, Andrew. Just wanted to say that I, for one, did not mind the long treks of FFXII. Did you? I thought that they illustrated how large the world was. For me, the long trek from Dalmasca to Archadia greatly aided in the immersion; it felt like I was really making a long journey from one end of the world to the other. Plus, it was hardly a drag for me, because the gameplay and battle system in FFXII is awesome.
Andrew

Yeah, I never really minded them because personally speaking, the only area that really conveyed much in the way of size was the Tchita Uplands, although the Phon Coast was fairly expansive in its own right (and did I mention I like the music there? Because I do!) And like you, I kept myself occupied with various nonsense, be it wandering off from the group to go hunt stuff periodically or doing a 50-chain on serpents in Tchita for no good reason (it would have been longer, but for some reason the Garden of Life ran out of snakes... I guess they figured out I wasn't going to go for that whole forbidden fruit thing).

As for how RPG-ish I like my RPGs.....uh, hmm....I like games with a lot of equipment and skill handling. I know some people can't stand it, but I love it. A good example would be games like Xenosaga Episode 1; I could spend a long time in that games menu working on skills and tech attacks and such. I also loved FFXII for its huge selection of armor and weapons to manage, as well as the license grid. This, to me, makes a game more or less RPG-ish. Games like Xenosaga Episode II, for example, dissappointed me because of its sickeningly simple skill system, and total abolition of armor and weapon equipping. Even FFVIII, while it had a wonderfully complex junction system, irked me because of its total lack of weapons, armor, and equipment purchasing.
Andrew

We agree again, although I found FFX to be much more engaging in that respect than FFXII. The Sphere Grid was much larger, for one thing, and it was more difficult to duplicate skills, whereas with the License grid, it was pretty much just a matter of getting the good abilities for your whole party, one by one, and then filling in the blanks as necessary. Still fun, don't get me wrong, but a little more simplistic than I might have liked.

I find it funny that some people refuse to even entertain the notion of games based on licensed properties. Come on....in reality, a game based on a great property should be a great game. We can hope, can't we? A quality RPG set in the Lord of the Rings world would be a match made in heaven. (Keyword being "quality." Crap like The Third Age is not a good example.) They should also make some GOOD games based on some Anime franchises! I was surprised at how sub-par the games based on Fullmetal Alchemist were, especially since they were developed by Square Enix! (Square Enix actually owns the rights to Fullmetal; the manga that the show is based on is published monthly in their Shonen Jump magazine).
Andrew

Well, here we diverge. I think people have every right to expect that a game based upon a licensed property is going to be stinko, because historically, many have been. If you look at the NES and SNES era, almost every game based upon a movie was a throwaway platformer with very little thought given to actual game design, and while the odd anime game may be entertaining, I offer you DBZ: the Legacy of Goku as proof that as often as not, it's a recipe for total trash. And you hit the nail on the head there; a good game would be a match in heaven. That said, until I see evidence to the contrary in regards to the upcoming LotR MMO, I'll be hedging my bets. SW: Galaxies wasn't exactly the best for balance in the earlygoing.

Mr. Kuturagi stepping down from SCEI. Now....it may or may not have anything to do with the difficulties that surround the PS3, but you have to admit, the timing is rather interesting. Very interesting indeed....heheh. Really, this guy invents the hugely popular PlayStation and the PS2, and then steps down very soon after the release of his crappy PS3 product. Hmm.

Thanks for your time.
-Oliver.

Andrew

Yeah, I just can't escape the notion that it's a matter of Rats vs. Sinking Ship. Especially given March's sales numbers; the PS2 outsold the PS3 by almost 2 to 1. Ouchin!



What? you ask ME a question? Oh, right... that IS my job


Dear Andrew,

I don't read the Q and A columns very often, so excuse me if this topic has already been asked. I was wondering what your favorite part of an RPG is. For most people it's the story, but I feel that the stories that even big-name RPGs have become seemingly cliche, but maybe that just comes with playing a lot of RPGs. So maybe a better question is what features or things do you look for most in an RPG? For me it's a nice pacing. The perfect game wouldn't become too repetitive and would introduce new gameplay/story elements in a timely fashion.
Andrew

It's a combination of things, but good music and good gameplay are the most important to me, followed by gameplay. I guess graphics would rate... a distant third, to quote a certain lecherous king. I just can't deal with a game if the music sucks; I would have had much more tolerance for LoD, for instance, if the music hadn't been so wretched. Alas, it matched the overall calibre of the game and the entertaining battle system was dragged down by shabby presentation, a terrible story, and a clunky interface. The fact that it was ungodly long didn't help matters any either.

Another question/aside-comment: How do you feel about anti-heroes? Whenever I play Kingdom Hearts or some other game that gives me all this "I won't give up because I have the strength of my friends with me," or "The power of good always prevails over evil" bull. I'm not saying that I'm looking for a game where you try to destroy the world. I'm just looking for something that takes a different angle. There's always the indifferent or reformed bad-guy party member, but I want a main character with mixed morals. Is that too much to ask?

Anyway, keep on keeping on.
-Aaron (ZeroNumber)

Andrew

Enh. RPGs are deeply rooted in the heroic archetype, and one thing about the heroic archetype is, the hero is good. Unless it's a tragedy, but most RPGs tend to be kittens and sunshine when it's all said and done, no matter how bleak things were beforehand. So even if I did want to see such a thing, which I really don't care one way or the other about, it's not likely to happen too often. Since you're a sucker for the bad boy type, though, I hear that Vincent Valentine has some skeletons in his closet! Why not get one of the kajillion FF7 spinoffs?



Marginally fit for print


Hello! I like my RPG's like Tales of Syphonia and FFXII. Random encounters are good. How else gain money and XP? Turn based is nice sometimes, but can quickly bore me

Andrew

Ah. I like also, is good. Also, while may be that in Soviet Russia, sentence puts prepositions in you, would be best here to be adding such important parts of speech. Else may turn marginally fit for print to not. And wants that, nobody does.





IN CLOSING

Well, Matt had sent in a letter, but I seem to have misplaced it, so I'll have to post it tomorrow. For then, ummm.. hmm. The RPG world is providing frustratingly little in the way of topickable stuff lately, so perhaps you guys can suggest something? Also, it's been quiet over at Camelot lately... a little TOO quiet. What sort of unimaginable suck could they be dreaming up? I FEAR!



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castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew is a woodchuck who could chuck wood, as any good woodchuck would.


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