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Flying High Through the Skyyyy

Andrew Long - September 22, 2004 12:25 EDT

THINGS JUST AREN'T MEANT TO BE SOMETIMES. For instance, last night I dawdled about sorting my mail, then I dawdled about with the intro, then I went for a walk because I didn't feel so good, then I came back, finished the intro, was about to answer my first letter - and hey presto, my stupid chair unplugged my computer, sending all into darkness. I took this to be a sign, and so I sullenly went to bed, whereupon I was unable to fall asleep, and I am now truly and wonderfully ill.

Even so, I never was one to take a hint, and so although my less-than-robust health has once again taken a turn for "he had a sickly childhood", I will somehow defeat the conspiracy of fate and finish this column if it kills me. Which it very well may.

Enough about that, though. Of greater importance is a galling error that occurred in Sky Captain and the World of Very Fast Chase Scenes Which Somehow Manage to Skip Over Critical Moments of Action So That Everything Seems to Come Out Okay Without Anyone Really Being Able to See How. The movie takes great pains to point out that it is, in fact, set in 1939, but everyone keeps calling World War I World War I. Now, I'm no warmongering grandpappy, but it seems to me that if in fact a movie takes place before the second World War, then the first World War would be the only world war, or as was the style at the time, the Great War. Admittedly a minor quibble, but I have to find fault SOMEHOW! Else my reputation for cynical hatred of all things everything would be at stake. And that would just be silly!

Incidentally: if anyone sees letters going up that they sent weeks ago, it is no accident. I've just accumulated a deadly backlog that I need to batter down, and since I haven't had a topic as such in a while, now is as good a time as any!


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Drowsy column = good column?
We shall see

The Lizard: coming up with disturbing email titles since 1994

For the record, the comment on a petition for better game battle systems, was a sarcastic comment.

Anyway, Dear Andrew,

I sit here now clicking out all of the staples out of the stapler and then putting them back in individually. Why you ask? Because, if I don't find something to do with my hands I am lible to binge on food, destroy my computer, or write this letter to you. And since the stables don't work once you click them out, here I am writing this letter to you.

You see I bought this game. It's not an RPG, so you may not be familar with it. It's called the Sims 2. I loved the first sims and bought many of their expansion packs. When the second one was annouced, I pre-ordered it. I was so excited. I saved every picture I could find, looked at all the trailers I could find, and anything else that had to do with it I had. I cannot tell you how dissapointed, angry, depressed, and overall upset I was when I found that I couldn't get the thing installed. I need a "DirectX 9.0c Compatible graphics adapter" for this game to run. Naturally, I have no idea what that is. I went to the sims2 website for FAQs. Nothing. On a forum, I found a thread that was having the same exact error message as I was and I read that I needed a 'graphics card'. Do you know how friggin' exspensive those things are? And I'm not even sure what to buy! I don't know all the technical stuff. Not too much of my family understands computers, so I'm on my own here. I spent a good 2 hours trying to find an alternate method. All my conclusions lead me back to the fact that I'm gonna have to buy something expensive. And with Christmas a mere 3 months away, there is no way I can get everybody in my family a present and the 'graphics card' I need.

I swear, buying PC games is a one way ticket to fustration. They should put that on the back of every PC game. 'Cause no matter what computer you have, you always need something better. I never have this problem with consol games, ever. Well, if theres a scratch on the disc may be. But, really, do I have to go to so much trouble just to play a game on the computer? In short, I can't play this game. All my anticipation, excitement, and celebrating I've done has gone to waste.

-The Lizard

Now, now... Let's not overstate the problem, my dear. Pretty much every video card in existence (or at least, the ones that matter) are configured to be DirectX 9 compatible, because DirectX 9 is the graphics technology developed by Microsoft itself, and everyone loves Microsoft! My guess is your video card came with the system, and any video card that comes with a system is likely to be bad news bears. I recommend, therefore, that you get a price sheet from your local computer store (not BestByte or Circuit City, but one of those dingy little crapholes in a strip mall that smells like rotting eggs) and look for a cheapish video card. You can get a GeForce 3 and some neutered GeForce 4 cards for under a hundred bucks Canadian last time I checked, so you should be able to pick something up for pretty cheap that will likely run The Sims 2(I say likely because I'm not 100% sure, but in most cases, when a game is marketed to a mass audience that will include soccer moms and old men wasting time in their offices, system requirements tend to be slightly more forgiving. I could be wrong, of course, but as you say, Christmas is coming, so if worse comes to worst, throw a shiny new video card on your wishlist!)

A sort-of multiparter


First off, I have to agree with you on FFTA. I played it for...maybe 5 hours and just sold it back. FFT was a glorious example of what occurs when Square steals (i mean hires) the crew that did Tactics: Ogre and has them make a game...that is to say it's badass. Everything about that game is amazing. i've beaten it twice and I intend to make it a third sometime in the future.

Wasn't it made by the same team that made FFTA, though?

About Chrono Cross...Sigh, where do I begin? As a game, it's pretty darn good, but as a sequel I despise it. I'm the kinda guy that thinks Magus is the coolest character in any RPG ever. At the end of Chrono Trigger (well, depends on which ending you consider to be "real") he takes off into the folds of time to look for his sister. Why the heck couldn't they make a sequel where you're Magus searching for Schala? I mean c'mon, Magus as the main character? That, my friend, is orgasmic. I hear Radical Dreams mighta been something like that, but I've heard mixed reports about that.

Mixed reports? Let me clear those up for you - the events of Radical Dreamers are the basis for the story in Chrono Cross, so if you've played CC, you're pretty much up to speed on RD.

how, why haven't you checked out Valkyrie Profile? For shame man, for shame. I finally finished it and man is it good. They should totally make a Valkyrie Profile 2. And when I say number 2, I don't mean like Empire Strikes Back to A New Hope, I mean FF1 to FF2. In otherwords, no direct correlation other than the same type of game.

It hasn't been for lack of trying, believe me. The one time I was about to get my hands on a copy of it, the guy who was supposed to send it to me somehow never got around to it (thank you very MUCH, Stage...) and Scar scooped the one copy from my local game store, leaving me high and dry. So yes, I know my lack of VP is shameful, but it's not like I haven't tried to remedy the situation.

officially stoked to get Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts: Covenant. I ordered Koudelka off of EBay and have just started it. Kinda fun to get back to the days when you needed 4 discs...marvelous. I hope you and Googs didn't hype up Shadow Hearts too bad...cause I have some VERY high hopes.

I ordered Koudelka off ebay, but then the person selling demanded I pay through PayPal, and since I'm one of the people screwed over by PayPal's ridiculous password retrieval system (speaking of which, I should really mail that claim off before it's too late) that pretty much put the kibosh on things.

profess affection towards BoF: DQ, but what'd you think of the other 4 of the series? I personally enjoyed all of them (except for the heinous translation of number 2, although that game was quite fun, loved the characters and shamans).

The only other BoF I've played is II, which was entertaining enough for its time, but a little too muddled for my liking. I mean, the hunting and fishing and town-building elements were all well and good, but personally I found the fishing to be pretty dull and the town-building to be more entertaining, and I never did get to do enough of it. Of course, I also didn't beat the game, so maybe it picks up towards the end.

h, I always just want to talk, not actually ask a question. Stupidly, I want to get my two cents in. Maybe i'm a glutton for the punishment you seem to enjoy dishing out.

by the way, I haven't seen the episode in awhile, but did you quote the Simpson's episode where Moe had the Killer Whale in the back of his bar and Mulder and Skully (i never watched the X Files so I'm not sure of the spellings) came to investigate Homer's alien sighting? (I believe it was Mr. Burns on his wierd medication in the woods).

u got whacked 'cause you're weak." - Magus to Crono


As surely as Magus is the coolest character evar, I am not quoting the Simpsons, though the idea is pretty much the same. I think Moe said something along the lines of "Okay boys, get her out of here. NOW!" Ah, for the days when Moe was involved in hilarious illegal sidelines and not just used for one-liners.

Such a naughty mind

Dear Mighty Q&A Guy,

First off, I'm all for the Nintendo DS. Whether that stands for "Dual Screen", "Developer's System", "David Spade" or whatever, I think it's got the upper hand on the PSP simply because of the battery life (which matters when a system is suppossed to be portable). With a 2 hour battery life, the PSP is about as portable as a Virtual Boy. Having said that... my gripe with the DS is the promotion. Am I the only one who thinks "World Touch!" is a bit suggestive? That might not go over well in North America. Was Michael Jackson hired for public relations when they thought that up?

- Elranzer

Oh come on. "World Touch" is about as suggestive as a colostomy bag, if you want my opinion on the matter. For one thing, I have never envisioned, nor could I imagine anyone envisioning, molesting the world, as it were. For another thing, it's not like it's the Catholic church coming up with this little slogan - it's Nintendo, which, to the best of my knowledge, has never been embroiled in a scandal over the touching of children. So let's not read too much into things, okay?

Randomblings, or their brasilian non-union equivalent, Los Randomblingos

Hello people! First time writing. Am I the first brasilian writing for this section?

About RPGs for the Sega Saturn (Yeah!! I had one!!!!), I think one of the best is the Panzer Dragon Saga. But to have fun, if you can find Guardian Heroes (RPG based Action game, or is it the order way around?) is a nice catch. Remebering now about the Magic Knights Rayearth, an RPG that I've never played but had nice reviews and Shining: The Holy Ark is nice (if you don't mind the glitchy graphic). Add those to the ones Andrew said and there's a lot of fun ahead of you. Anyone else Master Google?

I played La Pucelle before playing Disgaea, and now I just can't stand playing the last one... and I've been looking for Disgaea since it was released!! Why did it happen? Is that some sort of disorder? :-)

I'm not quite sure what you mean, but either you can't stand playing Phantom Brave, or you can't stand playing Disgaea. Either way, Disgaea is not an easy game to find, unfortunately. Not only did it have a limited production run, the hype leading up to its release created a situation whereby there were very quickly very few copies to be found in stores. I'd say (if you don't have it already) your best bet might be ebay.

I know FFVIII is hated, but never thought that there is so much people that really like the game (me included!!). I didn't played all of them ( I had a Genesis that time and borrowed the NES and SNES of a friend sometimes) but my list would be: 6-10-4-5-8-9-3-7. (Some roms included - Shame on me!!) This opinion had given me a lot of trouble in the past...oh well!

OK, bye for now...
Josť Rubens

Never fear, as long as you don't put 5 or 2 as your favorite, you will go unentroubulated by me.

Of course, I didn't delay this a full week because of the intro, nosirree

Dear Q&A,

I'm not sure if my message has been receievd, though I've sent it twice. I think it was because I sent it to google. Now I'm sending it to Andrew. Because the Q&A section is updated almost daily, I would expect that my question would be posted about now. If not, and you do have it, you can stop reading now and delete this, as long as you assure me that you'll get to my question eventually.

Uh... I gets to whatever questions I pleases, when I pleases. Telling me to answer something right away is not the greatest way to elicit a response.

My question:

Square Enix, in an attempt to placate its European gamers, has released International versions of FFX, FFX-2, and KH. This is apparently supposed to make up for the fact that Europe only gets a single-digit percentage of the games (at least RPGs) that we do here.

A) Instead of releasing special versions there (which piss off American gamers), why don't they just perform the logical solution to the problem and release all the games there that Europe has not previously been given?

Because, there's unlikely to be a market now for the hundred or so PSX RPGs, to say nothing of the dozens of PS2 RPGs, that have skipped over Europe. Like it or not, companies are better off irritating a few whiny North American fans by releasing a special edition after the fact than they are to open their vaults and shower Europe with old games, simply because special editions are easier to market and help to make up for the fact that Europe got shafted in the first place. A better solution would be simultaneous localizations, but that's still not realistic in today's game market, so while things have been improving for European gamers, it'll still be a while before the market gets the same attention as the North American market - after all, look how long it took for Japanese developers to clue in to the fact that there are otaku wannabes here who will buy almost anything as long as it contains a few katakana somewhere in the cover art!

B) Are there any other games (or companies that have released such games) that have been given this special treatment in Europe but not here? If so, do you know what they are?

Get your intergalactic outrage cap on, my Peztastic reader, because European RPGamers got a special director's cut of SO3.

C) What would be a smart and reliable way for a gamer such as me, having no knowledge of any foreign language, to play said versions? I figure I could go to England (which I was planning on doing at some point anyway), buy the games there, then track down a mod chip. But if there's a better way (or a way that works), please don't hesitate to let me know.

The Pezman

Well, you can probably order online from British game sites if you're that desperate to waste your money, but honestly, I don't see why you'd bother. As far as I'm concerned, these "extras" are on the same order of George Lucas, may his mother break out in boils, trying to give movies made 30 years ago the same glossy sheen as his latest crap. Face it, stuff filmed thirty years ago is never going to look or even feel the same as something made today, and did he HAVE to drive the final nail into the actor who played Darh Vader by taking him out of the glowy blueness at the end? I mean, they already dubbed over the guy's voice without telling him...

You mustn't let me get distracted by my hatred of George Lucas. We'll never get anywhere if I have to stop every ten seconds to denounce him - which I'll cheerfully do!

May his gravy-soaked eyeballs explode

You wish to talk sequels, so I shall indulge you.

Being the sort of gamer I am, I never decide a game, or its sequel are bad, until I've played it. There are few exceptions to this rule on my part. I feel that any company that puts a REASONABLE amount of time into a game, deserves at least an unbiased look. But this is about sequels.

Some sequels turn out to be just as good as their own prequel, just because of the sheer power of their name. For instance, the Final Fantasy series. You know you're getting a Final Fantasy game, and that you have certain expectations that will PROBABLY be met. Obviously, this is not always true, but generally speaking, it is.

Anyway, good sequels in my opinion.

FFX-2 - Was fun in general. Good battle system, and Paine.

Illusion of Gaia - Yes, this is an old one, but I feel its worth mentioning. Being a fan of Soul Blazer, when I found this game for cheap on Ebay, I scooped it up, and slammed it in ye old SNES. I wasn't disappointed. Good stuff in general, with just enough links to Soul Blazer to keep me appeased.

Now, staying on the subject of sequels, what do you think of the recent string of FF7 sequels?

I think it's cheap cashgrabbing at its worst, but I'll reserve judgment on the actual games until I see more about them.

Another question, how much longer do you think the FF series will last? We're about to reach 12, do you think it will make it much past there?

I don't think the FF series is going anywhere soon. It's S-E's big moneymaker, for one thing, and if other mainstays like Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Dragon Warrior, and Pokemon can continually reinvent themselves, I see no reason why FF can't. As for specifics - well, XIII is already under development, and I think the trademarks are in for all the way up to XVI. Much as I dislike cashcowing, I can't argue with the business logic of continuing to produce FFs. In the end, that's the best answer I can give you - S-E will keep making FFs as long as FFs make S-E money.

Third, going back to my Soul Blazer/IoG liking, do you think that Square-Enix has any intentions of re-releasing their old games, such as SB and IoG on PS2, as a port, or a complete remake?

Such a thing wouldn't really surprise me, but no plans have been announced to do so at this point.

Fourth and probably final, if you could see a sequel to any game, what would it be, and what would it entail?

If I could make a sequel to any RPG, it would probably be a direct sequel to Secret of Mana that played like Secret of Mana, as opposed to other entries in the Seiken Densetsu series. If it was down to any game at all, however, it would have to be Starcraft, my one true love. Warcraft III has filled the void for now, but I crave a new SC to play.

Fifth (Okay, I lied. Shoot me.) what is the worst sequel in your mind? Which one (or ones) completely brings shame to its predecessor, or predecessors?

Dead men can't talk, bulletsponge. Besides, even the deceased should be familar with my abiding hatred of all things CC.

Anywho, thank you for your time, and have a nice blargh, and day.

Adm. Daniel Wesley Rydell
"Get in the game."

DJ Carter
"For as we draw near to the Lord, He will draw near to us" James 4:8

Not at all, multiquote.


For tomorrow, are you mad about Hurricane Ivan delaying WoW? I know I am...Seeing as how that's not going to elicit much in the way of decent discussion, however, I will also ask: how do you relate weather to gaming? I've always loved curling up with a good RPG on a grey, rainy day, and there's nothing quite so cozy as sitting down with a rental on a cold snowy night, or hiding from the blinding, burning sunlight in your basement as you subject Gau to UV rays instead. What are your thoughts? Mine are obviously feverish, though I have managed to stay awake despite the Gravol! GO ME!
Andrew Long loves life in every word - to the extent that it's absurd.




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