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Faster Than the Others, You'll Be Hooked on the Brothers!

Andrew Long - July 17, 2004 02:23 EDT

SO ANYWAY, THIS MORNING I WAS GREETED by the following hilarious headline in the local "newspaper", a term I use loosely in favour of "dishrag" or "pizza box insert", since really, putting newsprint under your pizza would cause no end of badness for the crust: "MARTHA GOES FROM GLAMOUR TO.... SLAMMER!" Now, I really could care less what happens to Martha Stewart, but it seems to me that her frowsy solutions for living or whatever she called them can hardly be termed glamourous, since I'm fairly certain any royalty worth their weight in gold doubloons will tell you that a turkey centerpiece made out of popsicle sticks and cat vomit lacks that certain something that only jewels and gold-studded diamonds can provide.

At any rate, diamonds and gold and jewels are nothing compared to this gem of a column, so let's dive in, cuz everything's coming up sapphires! There will be complimentary rubies served in the Earth Cave tunnel after which a reception will take place in the Crystal Room. Those without fire magic are cautioned, as there will be many zombies,ghouls, and geists kicking around (and possibly a vampire or two), so if you don't have at least fire 2, I recommend caution.



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hi, i was reading an article that sean peters wrote regarding the remake of dragon quest 5 on the ps2 and he mentioned that one of the merger goals of square-enix was to add to the dragon warrior presence in north america, since square-enix seems to be giving us everything but dragon warrior titles i was courious as to where the info was obtained regarding the merger goals of square-enix.


Unfortunately, Sean Peters has gone on to bigger and more musical things, which I will assume are better, since he wrote that article, so he's not around to answer the query. I think, however, that I can shed some light on this conundrum: basically, Square Enix said a whole bunch of junk when it was first formed, ranging from the usual promises companies make when merging like their incipient cure for cancer to totally promising never to sleep with the veep of finance again, cuz boy howdy did that make getting together over FMA awkward. Unfortunately, companies rarely manage to follow through on many of the grand schemes they proliferate, which is why we never have seen a hoverbike from Daimler-Chrysler or an end to the bloodless corruption and gouging practiced by Canadian banks, and indeed, why Square was caught red-faced in the conservatory, with a candlestick, by Mrs. Enix.

So unfortunately, it appears that for the time being, Dragon Warrior has been lost in the shuffle - or has it? DW8 seems to be getting some fairly substantial press, and Dragon Warrior 4 may yet make it over here in some form or another. If you think about it, Square Enix really hasn't released all that many titles since merging on that fateful day. There has been Sword of Mana, FFX-2, FFTA, FFXI, Drakengard, FM4, and a slew of Japan-only titles, one of which was admittedly a Dragon Warrior of some description. As you can see, they haven't really been hyping one name in particular (I say this since two of those three Final Fantasy titles were in the works prior to the companies joining at the hip); it's just been an overall mediocre time for S-E, and not surprisingly, the RPG market has suffered noticeably. Never fear- next year will be of truly epic proportions, since both FFXII and DW8 are coming out, along with a bunch of other neat stuff like BFM2, a Tales or two, and maybe even that new Seiken Densetsu game. We can only hope that there will be no sequel to Drakengard, however...

Boingy, boingy!

You said, "...As to game companies on the decline, I haven't seen anything particularly impressive from S-E since FFX, so they're gonna have to shape things up posthaste, cuz FFTA just didn't cut it (though the boobie festival in FFX-2 probably epitomizes the trend in my mind)."

I'd have to agree with you on that. I haven't seen too many ground breaking games from Squeenix lately. Then again, they might be back on top in no time. Star Oceans: 'Til the End of Time looks pretty cool to me and from the poll that is currently in progress, 2884 people/ 57.13% (last I checked) say that they are looking forward to Star Oceans. It doesn't take long for a good (most of the time) game company to shape things up.

I need a question to make this letter worthy....Hrm....Oh, I know! What's the most implausible or stupid storyline/plot you've ever heard in a game? And what line in a game has made you laugh out loud, giggle, or role your eyes?

On a different note, two weeks ago I squished a fly on the window and it's still there. May be I'm a vegetarian lizard?
-The Lizard

Well, there have been a whole mess of lousy contrivances as far as plots go, but the one that takes the cake would have to be Secret of Evermore. Maybe if Podunk, New Jersey was an actual place, I'd be able to swallow it, but combine that with the cameo from Cecil and Rosa, and it completely drowns any chance of redemption.

And if not a vegetarian lizard, an unsanitary one for sure... Fly guts are swimming with disease!

A different genre than my own taste, but eh

Yo dude,

I'm not one to write in, but i've been reading Q&A religiously since the days of thor. I stopped for a while when Goog made his "last post". Apparently he came back. I haven't been reading every day, more lke once a week. But being how bored, and sick I feel, and seeing as how I'm friendless for the weekend, it's my turn to write in. I've always been a huge fan of rpgs, but if there's one thing I know, it's music. Have you ever been interested in knowing what hardcore sounded like? If not, I apologize, please skip this whole letter.

Good Canadian hardcore bands: Career Suicide, DOA, Left For Dead, The Swarm, Born Dead Icons, DFA etc. All good bands.

Stuff that has an actual message, lyrics that are aware of their surroundings, and music that doesn't need to resort to being ultra poppy and ultra accessible, while still being good. Hardcore is definitely not for everyone, but I know the first time I heard minor threat, bad brains, black flag, and negative approach I was hooked.

Although, melody has shown up in hardcore from time to time, and has succeeded well. Try Kid Dynamite, Lifetime (only jersey's best dancers, and hello bastards! [think saves the day-can't slow down ... you'll immediately recognize where std stole their early sound from]), Dag Nasty (can I say), Silent Majority (life of a spectator), Husker Du etc. I strongly recommend any of these, especially Silent Majority.

Or if you are into the rock and roll side of things, I strongly recommend The Suicide File, RNR, and Annihilation Time. Classic stuff, although The Suicide File destroys everything that RNR has released (at least so far). Keep in mind the suicide file has very intelligent lyrics (Especially in Twilight).

If you need speed, I suggest Tear It Up (Black Flag + thrash = Amazing), Life's Halt, The Rites, DS-13 ... so many to even mention. It's hard to get people into thrash, though.

If you are interested about what some bands have to say about politics, and are interested in wondering what the soundtrack to the Armageddon would sound like, pick up anything by Tragedy or His Hero Is Gone. Tragedy is one of my favorite bands playing today. Very hard to get into, especially if you've never heard hardcore or anything before. Or maybe something much more lighthearted, but still political, and still aware, try RAMBO.

You might like Jawvbreaker, i've been listening to alot of them lately. Your best bet would be Dear You, I guess. Very intelligent lyrics, and catchy songwriting too.

Sorry for the really long letter. And sorry if I've wasted your time. Just spreading what I love. Any questions or anything write back.
- Keith

Thanks for sharing, Keith. If Shroudie doesn't have enough music (or methamphetamine, if indeed Tear it Up is a purveyor of said illegal pharmaceutical narcotic, which of course is bad) then I'm sure he can sufficiently glut himself on this weekend's set of columns and never want for tunes (or indeed, various subgenres) again.

I'll show you Castotent... well, maybe not


So I must make this a very quick letter... Innovation is nice in battles. The ability for enemies to change tactics makes battles even more interesting and intense as you must change your plans to fit the situation. Then again, the AI has to be extremely well done for this to be successful. Okay, so I admit I listen to The Edge from time to time, shoot me. Music has been around in RPGs for a long time. And with the advancement of the PS and other systems, vocal songs were also introduced. While dubbed in english is all right, some songs like "Suteki da ne?" and "Radical Dreamers" seem a lot more mellow and have more deepness when song in Japanese. There's just something about that language in song... What do you think? Do you think these songs should never be dubbed? Camping starting tomorrow, no letter Sunday. Sowwy. We'll see if I can survive without the computer.

Only you can prevent clothed Q&A hosts!,

O' Shrouded One

And just what makes you think I'm fully clothed as it is? I'll have you know I have misplaced my pants. To your letter: I don't actually have anything against the Edge, it's just not my sole source of musical entertainment, as I'm sure it is with you. Also, good AI has never really been done sufficiently to my taste, so I think we might be waiting for a while yet before we see anything like that. The basic problem is, AI is always the direct result of actual human intelligence, and let's face it - some people are dumb as bricks. Granted, most of them aren't on any programming staffs (staves?) but it sure seems like it sometimes.

And yes, dubbing is teh evil, mostly because they get the original Japanese singers to do the vocals. If you need to ask why this is bad, look at the music of Celine Dion. Quebec spat her out for a reason, you know.

A BFM question... finally

Is Brave Fencer Musashi any good? I've played all the way through one character on Threads of Fate, and I don't think anyone pretends that was a good game, though some of the dialogue is kind of funny. I've only played the first level of Musashi, but it seems extremely similar, and has got me not wanting to play it.

Is there any major component to Musashi that makes it a good game worth wasting my time on? Or should I go back to FF6 playthrough number 17?


Uhhh... Well, BFM is fun, but I can't really think of any particular reason why. It's just a good, solid game, and frankly, I think it's worth experiencing a good fun game for the first time, even if it does mean missing out on your 17th playthrough of the best RPG evar. BFM is somewhat similar to ToF, with one notable exception: it verges on having a plot, and the gameplay evolves to a degree throughout the game.

M-m-m-more music! And also discussion

First, on the Canadian band issue: Try "Godspeed you black emperor." They do really nice, innovative and mostly instrumental music. I'd rate them the same quality as, say, The Future Sound of London or E.S. Posthumus, two other bands you've probably never heard of before. Don't listen to any of them, of course, if you are allergic to strangedness! They will make you swell up, bloat, and die.

Ah, yes. My sister would stab me for omitting Godspeed, so I thank you for remembering. I've heard of TFSoL, and may even have encountered a track or two of theirs (assuming I'm thinking of the correct Papua New Guinea) and I'd hardly qualify any of them as too terribly strange. If you want strange, go with the Pixies - This Monkey's Gone to Heaven is a particular favorite of mine.

As for Kenae's point:

Just like my laws of scalable game sexiness as described as a function of time, there is also the law of simploflufcation! As franchises have come to dominate the RPG world, specific legacy battle systems (or at least their general concepts) are handed down over time to their next sequel. This is part of what you say is the oversimplification of battle systems. Ironically enough, the only franchise really free to innovate, as a rule, would be Final Fantasy, as there is no reason for them to retain old battle systems, because they are well known for their tendency to not make sequels. The fact that they haven't been innovating, lately, is somewhat telling.

This, combined with the fact that companies are trying to reach out to a mainsteam audience and believe their product must focus on visual wowification as opposed to cleverness (resulting in keeping battle systems simple for everyone and failing to take risks in innovation for fear of alienating these first-time customers) and the fact that we, the original core audience of RPGs, have begun to identify with the cliches of our genre and even Define our genre by those cliches, such as "levels," "magic points," "experience," "battle menus," "turn-based," ...among other things, that really have nothing to do with a Roleplaying Game. We just expect them to be there, and if they aren't, there is a high possibility that we'll drop the game into some other genre and wipe our hands of it.

Console games are particularly bad off, because they don't have individuals who are willing to try anything because it has no risk (read: indie game developers) that computers do. When big companies slack in the PC department of innovation, they can always snatch up ideas from small-time productions, something the console doesn't really have the liberty of doing.

Anyway, your one thought about the weakness of characters and the lackthereof is something I couldn't agree with more. In the freeform RPG community, we call characters without weaknesses Munchkins and spit at them. They're not complex, they're not interesting, and they lead to childish simplified games. If you want a good mental picture: Characters with attributes that are up and down, all over the place, differentiated with numerous subtle strengths and weaknesses... you plot those all and you get something that looks like a electrocardiogram of someone's heart.

You plot the attributes of a character with max HP, max damage, max attacks per turn, max magic... what do you get? A flatline.


- the Pseudodoctor -

Hmm... Now that's an analogy I never could have understood when I was twelve, manipulating my AGL score for all I was worth so that I could execute a particularly acrobatic attack (hey, come on - Kender never get to do anything much fun except be annoying, and while I had that in spades, I certainly had aggression to get out every so often), but it makes a lot of sense to grown-up me (though having max AGL would seriously be kickass, since I've always wanted to be able to bust out a series of backflips for no good reason while walking down a street.)

I think the problem with RPG weaknesses, however, is that you usually only end up with one or at most, two. They also tend to be the same for every enemy of the same type, which adds to the monotone. It is, however, as you say; us hardcore RPGheads would probably expect the sun to stop if a fire elemental actually absorbed an ice attack, just for the hell of it. Oh, well. At least if our fireplaces ever do happen to gain sentience, we'll know just what to do - call up M. Night Shamalamanllana and have him make a crappy movie of the whole affair!

Ooh, a lingering odour.. My favorite kind!

Hey Andrew!

I believe we still have some unanswered questions from my last letter. You can tell there's trouble in a Q&A column when the host gets Q'ed, and he doesn't A. So first: do you enjoy spitting in others' faces? And second: have you ever played Metalstorm?

I can answer both with the same reply: never tried it!

Now, onward to new and brighter things. I do want innovation in my battle system, decidedly. A major reason RPG's rarely hold my interest these days is that I found myself in the same position as many others, battling through hordes of random encounters just to advance the storyline. And honestly, if I simply want a good story, I can read a book or watch a movie. I play RPG's because I want more than that, I want some game with my roleplaying. The battle systems these days don't differ a whole lot, a whole lot of just slogging through things, and even the battle systems that innovate get predictable toward the end of the game, if your characters haven't acquired the "tank syndrome" that you talked about. Individualized characters counts for a lot too, nothing makes combat more boring than undiversified characters. Even the whole "element system" thing gets tired and stale. It's basically the same for every game. I think it might add a little spice if you could create your own elements by combining existing ones, or by setting up brand-new elements in opposition to the existing ones. A design-your-own-element system! And you can bet your adversaries would be throwing new elements at you too.

Hmm, I also like the idea of enemies adjusting tactics to counter would keep things fresh... Anyway, I might just try out Tales of Symphonia. If I had a Gamecube.

-Jackson Ferrell

I would be inclined to agree with your idea if only the one game in which it was implemented (that I know of) wasn't Paladin's Quest. Sadly, as I still have no idea what the baffling and arbitrary symbols for each of those baffling and arbitrary (but mixtastic) elements, I must spit in your face and challenge you to a duel.

Ooh.. Outreach

Hey Andrew,

Whats with O' Shrouded One ? is he obsessed with you? You know with this kind of obsession he has i would advise getting a restraining order on him he might be dangerous. I feel as a concerned reader he may try to purge this obsession, and the only to do that is to remove the object of obsession if you catch my drift. So if i were you i would run now, run fast, and run far.

-Tonberryking(concerned reader)

Oh, come on. Shroudie is just a garden variety stalker who happens to have selected a college a few blocks from my house, has a shrine to me on Geocities, and presumably plots my grisly demise in concert with the villagers in his head. I have absolutely nothing to worry about!

My brain! My precious brain! Aw, look what you done to it...

Hey.I am soooo into RPG games.Yup.I'm a girl can't wait to get Star Ocean,Tales of Symphonia,Final Fantasy 12.But y'know what?I lost my memory card!My whole data were in there too.A ghost took it.I just know it.Like it took my Harvest Moon games too.So I started to play DDR Max games at my cousin's house.A month later his PS2 broke.So much for finding a four leaf clover.Anyway I got so much into anime.But I'm into the movie(it's not an anime)Spider Man 2.Have you ever heard of Espgaluda?Watta bout Naruto?My most favorite game is Kingdom Hearts.

Thanks for sharing, Ravuthy. While I have never heard of Espgaluda, I have been instructed by reliable sources to avoid Naruto like the plague. And I don't know why you're telling me about the ghost; I can only assume that you somehow missed the 80s, because if you'd drawn breath in that fabulous decade, you'd know the answer to the age-old question "Who Ya Gonna Call?", and it sure isn't me!

two important questions:

A) Have you been drinking your fluids?
B) What do you think of Tales of Symphonia?

-- Hall of Fame Announcer Harry Carey

Firstly, I don't "drink" fluids, I absorb them through my tentacle-like hands, which even now are demolishing large parts of the Arctic Circle in conjunction with the fabric seal our store sells. Secondly, I think ToS is the bee's knees, thanks. Well, except for the dungeon I'm stuck in. It can go suck a lemon.

Did anyone preorder Symphonia?

Because if you did, you most likely got the coolest art book EVER...I can see this thing going to 50+ on eBay in the near future. SO awesome...
Sheena is hot.
Oh, I meant to ask. Did you change the default orders (strategy variations activated by the control pad)? The three they give you seem to be fine...any more advanced custom tactics you programmed in?

- Feep "Dwarven Vow #7: Justice and love will always win!"

Please never quote a Dwarven Vow in this column again. If you do, I will murder you softly. With a pickax.

Brother is the gayest stright guy ever,
and he has an extreme sexual interest in his cousin.What were they on when they made FFX-2?

Thanks for sharing, Bart.


Anyhow, I'm being rushed out the door by my fabulously rushed friend, and so there will be no time for sweet farewells today. Instead, I will leave you to mull over... well, basically anything you wanna send in. I'm up for a shotgun blast to the face tomorrow if you are!
Andrew Long is a proud celebrant of Scotchtoberfest.



Ya used me, Skinner! YA USEEED ME!

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