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Andrew Long - August 28, 2004 1:01 EDT

SO TODAY WE WILL TALK ABOUT VG music and its convertibility to popular music of some description, and I think it is only fitting that I should begin by rambling, because as we all know, there is a song entitled "Ramblin' Man" and so in order to accrue some karma, I find it best to follow the instructions of my fortune cookie and "Keep my plans secret for now", which is why I will be visiting all of you shortly to blind you with some sort of blinding device, like a really big light or me and a trenchcoat. How that helps me keep my plans secret is anyone's guess, but I know one thing for sure: blind men don't tell secrets, except if they're dead in which case they can let Benjamin Franklin in on the poop.

At any rate, I can also blind you with non sequiter, and so back in the day, as was the style at the time, I was doing an essay on pirates for some reason or another, and while I was doing highly scientific research at some Christian fundamentalist site, which was explaining in glowing terms why exactly the enslavement of the native South American population was in fact a good thing, I idly flicked on the Balamb Garden theme... and then proceeded to forget I had it on for the next seven hours. Oddly, it helped me get through not one but two essays that day, and while I can no longer stand listening to that song for any length of time due to the terrible association it now plagues me with, this should serve as a warning never to do essays on pirates.

And that, my friends, is my music story. It's not as fancy as hearing the soundtrack to FFVIII blaring in an Olympic stadium, but it certainly is a story. And now, I think I'll cut my losses and get on with things.


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Excellent rendement
de la vapeur
Le puissant jet de vapeur
elimine les plis
pour un repassage
plus facile!


To the guy who asked about RPGs with zombies playing significant roles:

-In disc 2 of Xenogears, the evil dudes turned most of the population of the world into zombies using nanomachines. Incidentally, I don't remember my heroes ever saving them. Hmm.

- Disgaea had an entire chapter where you were trying to rescue some kid's pet zombie that had gotten lost. The fists of a Dark Karate master, the legs of the fastest demon in the Netherworld, the brain of the famous sorcerer Mahogany, the iron body of Hercules, and a horse wiener!!

-*FF10 spoiler* Auron, a main playable character in FF10, was undead. The undead actually played a large role in that game. It made me mad that you could heal him, since enemies that were undead in exactly the same way were hurt by cure magic. I suppose it would have spoiled the surprise when you found out, though, along with being terribly inconvenient. A good number of characters in that game were voice-acted by zombies, too.

-Neverwinter Nights has an entire expansion called Hordes of the Underdark. It involves zombies. Plot is pretty minimal in single-player NWN, though, and rather boring when it is present.

-There was a Pirates of the Carribean RPG. I haven't played it, but I assume that zombies play a major role in it, since they were the central theme of the movie.

-I don't know if there are any RPGs, but the Evil Dead series has spawned quite a few mediocre movie-licensed games.

-I read an Aeris resurrection fanfic once where she came back as a zombie and shambled around eating people's brains. Good stuff.


Ah, how could I forget Disgaea? Those tender snowy nights, battling zombies to rabidly fast music, throwing Shoe over the cliff to wipe out just one more... Those were the days. Speaking of those days, I should really get around to finishing Disgaea, since I kind of should be onto Phantom Brave by now.

I must advise you, however, that further attempts to cite fanfics for anything other than their craptacularity will earn you spite and misfortune - although the prospect of a zombie Aeris is amusing enough to still my rage for now.

Mmm... Arby's

Sup Cast,

On the subject of songs from RPGs that would make it mainstream, well if you include Techno/Dance as mainstream then I would say alot. In fact there are already numerous remixes of RPG songs out there. One song that I think is fine as is, is Simple and Clean by Utada Hikaru from Kingdom Hearts, both the full version and the remix (from the end of the game) are quite good.

Ah, well, there are plenty out there, as you say, but I would dispute the "good", based on those that I've encountered. My particular favorites are a hardcore techno piece that utilized FFVII's prelude at 160 BPM, and this progressive trance track that for some reason sampled a Night Elf voice sample from Warcraft III (the part where the LotRish voice sings "Arrrr-B-Q!" - speaking of which, I wonder if Arby's paid Blizzard a promotional consideration for that little bit of subliminal advertising).

Now as far as games that should be brought over from Japan, the only one I'm really upset never make it across the pacific is SD3, I mean I love SoM to a fault and remember being devestated when I found out I would never be able to play it *sigh* but I digress...

Now in order to make this an actual question and not just a rant, I've noticed (and I know I'm not the only one) that Nintendo has a habit of marketing to kids in their games. This is not a bad thing persay but, it is annoying when you own a GC ( I won't bring the GBA into this because that would totally destroy my argument in one fell swoop, with it's wonderful, portable remakes) and are looking for a good RPG. Do you think Nintendo will ever start making itself, or buy from a third party, a series that is made for the real RPG fan? I'm sick or seeing the Pokemon flag constantly being waved in my face, that damn multi-gem coloured rag... whew, another rant.

All this ranting's making me thirsty... time for a big ol' can of Mountain Dew,


I'm assuming we're going to discard Zelda right at the outset here, since most people don't really consider it to be much of an RPG, so I'm going to come right out and say that Nintendo has no reason to create such a series, because quite frankly, it has already converted another of its successful properties into some of the most enjoyable RPGs out there. What games am I talking about? Why, the Mario RPG series, of course. You may shake your head and cluck at me about how the development is outsourced, but if you're looking for first instead of second party material, then you can forget it. Nintendo games, aside from much of the N64's lifespan, innovate, and RPGs are anything but innovative, when you get right down to it. Nintendo's titles have always been copied and cloned and beaten to death by other companies after their release for the simple reason that they tend to do things that people never considered before. Think of how platformers changed with each iteration of the Super Mario Bros. series, and you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about.

That's why I'm such a big fan of the Mario RPG games, incidentally. Not only do they eliminate much of the tedium that infests many RPGs, they also integrate actual engaging gameplay to a degree that you seldom see in the traditional vein of the genre. So yes, Nintendo has that series, and if you've been ignoring it, now is the time to stop. As always, however, I should probably mention here that Nintendo currently holds ownership of my soul, and so you should feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt.

Demonically delicious font

Hail, Answerer of this column

What's up with this lately? I am the answerer of this column from Fridays to Sundays, unless you know something I don't, so go with the flow and tack random crap onto the end of Casto when greeting me - it's all the rage!

First, regarding games that never made it to the US of A but should have - FFIII. Unfortunately, that statement is made without any actual evidence on my part, considering the only ROMS I can find are corrupted after about 3 quests, and the text degrades into a Japanese/English/ASCII amalgamation which I hesitate to look at for fear of inadvertently summoning a demon. However, FFIII DID introduce the job system, which was essential for the creation of FFV, FFT, FFT:A, FFXI, and FFX-2, and it couldnt possibly have been much worse than FFII. (I wonder why every Final Fantasy that wasn't released here previously - FFII and FFV - would be re-released, but not FFIII?)

While I would never ever condone the distribution and use of illegal ROM software, I should mention that there IS an intact translation floating about out there, along with a patch that you can use on faulty versions. Which we should hunt down and BURNINATE!

Anyway, considering the topic of music, I believe that someone could do a god-awful yet somewhat appropriate emo rendition of Shadow's Theme (Dashboard Confessional? I dont know emo bands...); Sarah Brightman could possibly do Aria de Mezzo Carrattere with some justice; Metallica would do an accurate yet still obnoxious cover of Otherworld; Aerosmith would tear Battle at the Big Bridge apart; and thats all I can think of right now.

Also, I hear you bash Legend of Legaia 2 every now and then. What about Legend of Legaia ONE? I personally found it both absorbing and innovative, and far, far better (read: playable) than its sequel.

Thank you for your time,

Kaien Garamonde (identify game where this name is from, and win a prize!)

Speaking of Battle on the Bridge, our little topic conveniently neglects that Nobuo Uematsu has already successfully taken his music mainstream with the Black Mages, so I doubt you'll ever see Aerosmith touch it, not only because their 95% naugahyde composition prevents them from playing anything that doesn't immediately get played to death on soft rock stations, but also because then they'd be doing a cover, and who wants to hear an Aerosmith cover of the Black Mages?

And regrettably, I must inform you that it was in fact LoL the original cool that I have been bashing lo these many months, as I have never played the original. I'm sorry, but a game which you can learn the best moves in purely due to random button mashing just can't be well-thought out, and the bits and pieces that I did play were nothing to write home about.

Finally, your name is a bastardization of Cyan Garamonde, family avenger and machine mistruster extraordinaire. Were I to hazard a guess as to the origin of his name, I would have to guess that Ted Woolsey was creating a truly nightmarish word document when he dreamed it u[, since Garamond is a mediocre enough font without turning it bright blue.

Shh, stop pointing that out everyone... you'll get us turned into a monstrous hybrid with editorials, and I do NOT want to be joined at the hip with Joseph :P

Hey, I like reading the Q&A, though I've noticed there aren't many questions

Just as a point of reference for that subject:

"so if there's a game that never made it over that you've always wished you had, feel free to write in about that too."

I cannot believe you left out the langrisser series. I played through Warsong on genesis multiple times. I loved it each time. Unfortunately I was forced to play through it multiple times because it was a used block-buster game and the battery for saving games was fried. After having the battery replaced and my save-games disappear after a few weeks I came to the conclusion that I got a defective cart (or damage, damn blockbuster customers) and that I simply had to play it on 2-3 day binges with never shutting my genesis off. There are very few games I would go to those lengths for.

Alright, that's a poor example as it's one that actually did manage to reach north america. But the follow-ups in the series are quite excellent, Der Langrisser for example. I've been excited about the translation going on for it for years now, but for some reason it never seems to make any progress. There are also the Langrisser games released on Sega Saturn (japan exclusive) which I've heard were just great - and I can only imagine While we're on sega saturn, there is also Shining Force III scenario 2, 3, and premium disc that never made it over to North America. I got my hands on Scenario 1, and it's a fun game, damnit. I don't see how the others could of been so bad.

Yes, sales numbers would definitely indicate whether a game should be released in North America or not, but you can't base that "only the crap didn't get sent" on that because back in the day the only games North Americans (the majority anyway) cared about either had to include the name of a sport in the title, or have blood and gore. Thank the video game gods sony finally made the playstation, and FMV's to appeal to those masses to raise the sale numbers of games that didn't include "Madden" in the title.

Now, for the question: What the hell is peoples problem with translated names that are different from the "original"?

One person used "Refill changed to Raine"... seriously, Refill has got to be the ugliest name I have ever seen. It *needed* to be changed, how can you not see that. That's probably (at least recent) one that bugs me the most, as checking Tales of Symphonia forums I constantly see these "purists" that keep calling her "Refill" even when referring to the North American release, why the heck do you people need to support something so freakin ugly? And I know for a fact most of you don't even speak japanese, so I really don't understand this "purist" view. Most of you people are anti-"censorship" fanatics... but are you even aware of the meaning of censorship? Also, if they’re so adamant about “the real names” of things, why don’t they just go learn Japanese? The fact that it’s translated alone means you’re not using the “real” name.

Wow, it really is easy to turn a question into a rant

Indeed it is, and yes, I was thinking exactly the same thing about Refill, and was actually a little surprised he didn't mention that Genis was renamed from Genius in the original, another blindingly stupid name. Then again, names don't need to be blindingly stupid for forum goons and otaku wannabes to latch onto them: witness the profusion of midi files on this very site that contain the term "Aerith" and you'll know what I mean.

Incidentally, asking questions is all well and good, but you're not supposed to answer them yourself - you'll put me out of a job!



So we return again to the tunes of a lovely band of pirates playing whimsical musical numbers which only pirates could play! Speaking of pirates... how's my lovely bucaneer doing? Swab any decks? You better not be swabbin' any but mine. Mine, I say! Do you realize this creamsicle-addiction is turning into the latest fashion craze, like those elk hats everyone was beating eachother into a orangey-pulp to adorn on their fabled heads. Creamsicle smoothies (which I need to finish up the roll of film before developing), store-brand immitations which include sabotagical flavors of cherry AND grape, and other edible items found at your nearest convinience store/brothel. Since I didn't place my winning numbers on the voice acting topic, let me say it even with lateness abroad. Voice-acting, in my q&a host obsessive nature, brings more emotional depth and human feel to the characters. Reading text can be quite enjoyable, but voices allow a better perspective on the emotions running through their heads. It further the bonds between character and player, maybe even allowing dislike for the character based on voice. Yuna and Tidus didn't bother me (like I've said before), but Shion irritated me with her annoying voice. I should say no, Yuna's VA and Shion's are NOT the same actress. They are different women playing each part. Shion sounds a "little" alike, but she doesn't have the same emotion or feeling of kindness and gentleness. Then again, everyone has their own feelings about the matter. Let us not bring up this past gripe that will, more than likely, carry on to tomorrow's column. For now, let us plot our treasure-hunting adventures as we cary humor and comical relief to those poor souls who aren't pirates.

You'll be my pet parrot, that ye be!,

O' Shrouded One

Well, as long as I don't have to be a Norwegian blue, I suppose I could fall in with this parrot scheme, if only it didn't seem at least moderately disturbing and likely to crush your shoulder horribly. And Grape Creamsicles, you say? Such a variety would be an untold boon prize, as grape popsicles were always my favorite. Will ye, nil ye, I MUST find these delicious treats!

Wow, that's one treacherous computer

Hey Astomel-cay,

I just looked at the screens for the new (new?) remakes (re-re-remakes?) of FF1 and FF2. All I can say frickin time. Now I will finally have a reason to beat FF2! Now I can take it wherever I go, and sit there and level my characters in the most obnoxious way in order to actually beat the ridiculousy annoying enemies. I tried it on an emulator (I beat FF1 and FF3 that way), and actually bored my computer to the point where it started downloading Cher songs on its own.

I think we all know what needs to be done with your computer. Do yourself a favour and make sure you're on at least the twentieth storey of whatever building you decide to cast it off of, in order to reduce the chances of its malicious spirit from infecting its replacement.

But that's my rant. My question is, why in God's name are they not remaking FF3? I mean, of all the Nintendo Final Fantasies, that one has to have the most depth and fun out of the three. I love the job system, and while a good 1/4 of the jobs in that game suck, and all of them except 2 become useless at the end, it was still a good game (even though Dark Cloud only used 1 attack at the end).

Another thing is, are you as tired as I am about having the penultimate boss of a game being harder than the final boss? It's happened so much it drives me insane! I hate fighting a really tough battle, only to have to fight a complete wimp in order to see the ending. Its like if Rocky had to fight a Girl Scout after beating Mr. T in order to win the championship. But there are tons of battles like this. Xenogears had Deus (who was relatively hard), followed by Urobolus, a total wimp. FF7 had the battle that you can't lose. FFX had...oh wait, they were all easy. Those are a couple, I'm sure there are more. I want to finish a game thinking that I just won the fight of my life, and that the ending was earned because of it, and not because I flicked the enemy in the nose and he fell over.

Oh yeah. My favorite gaming moment was playing through the Japanese Version of Chrono Cross about halfway because the English version wasn't out yet. I still think that it was better than the english version, since I didn't have to put up with the silly subtitles. I kinda inferred the plot, too. My friend is still amazed that I managed to pull it off, especially since we found out how convoluted the story advancement actually gets.

Um. Guess that's it.


The trend of horribly kittenish final bosses began with the Dark King in FFMQ, migrated to Sephy in FFVII, was briefly sidetracked in FFs VIII and IX, and then returned with a vengeance for X. Honestly, it doesn't really bother me too much as long as there's one boss that's difficult, but all the same, it might have been nice to have built up Auron and Tidus to ridiculous levels for something other than to kill Jecht in two hits. Finally, thank you for completely ruining Xenogears for me - I was pretty close to knowing almost the entire plot without ever having played it, and now you've driven home the final nail in the coffin of my chances of ever completing that game. Thank you for saving me seventy hours!


I am afraid we will be short and sweet today, for I am horribly inefficient and plagued by a pressure headache brought on by the woeful humidity that has descended upon this area. For tomorrow, in addition to clearing out the remaining letters from today, I ask you: which of the upcoming big releases are you more looking forward to, Phantom Brave, or Star Ocean: TtEoT? Anticipation is the sweetest part!
Andrew Long is a pretty lousy president.



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