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questionanswer&andrew


Later the Same Day

Andrew Long - September 23, 2004 23:57 EDT

SELDOM DO I POST TWO COLUMNS ON THE SAME WAKING DAY, but I've been skimping you guys too much lately, and besides, I can't get the cable in my room to stretch all the way to my TV, so I haven't a thing to do! I'm also a little bitter over the way my schedule at work has turned out, because I'm going to be working for the third consecutive weekend starting tomorrow, coinciding neatly with my friend's birthday party - and no beer and no parties make Casto somethingsomething.

Go crazy? Don't mind if I do! Seriously, though, how much does it now suck to be that girl who just got voted off the apprentice? Not only does America now think she's crazy as a loon, she had to hear it from Donald Trump, the guy who apparently thinks a dead ferret qualifies as a hairstyle and jamming ugly red marble on top of brass-rimmed mahogany is the pinnacle of good taste. For my money, that's material for one of those crazy Kafka novels where the protagonist slowly goes crazy or turns into a giant beetle or something!

Speaking of giant beetles, I'm very disappointed by my work this year. I guess the surrounding swamp has finally dried up, because I didn't see a single Zerg Drone this summer.




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Mommy, Where Do Chocobos Come From?



For no reason here's Apu
Those were the daaaays!

The ranting trend continues


What makes Valkyrie Profile so great eh? Well since there is absolutely no factual evidence to back this up, I will, as most do, share my opinions on VP. Since it seems that graphics are what most people seem to enjoy/dislike the most I suppose it will suffice to tackle that aspect first. Maybe its just me, but anyone who has something negative to say about VP's graphics obviously began their gaming on either a PS2, Xbox, or Cube. For its time the graphics were spectacular. Not to mention it was on the leading system of its time and didn't have another major console to compete with. You've really got to look at the type of game you're playing before you can just go out and begin comparing it to other games. Sure games like Breath of Fire III looked good, but would someone feel the emotions that VP can bring out in you if everything looked like a cartoon? VP was what I consider a very "heavy" game, lets face it (SPOILER...cause I know you haven't played it) EVERY single main character dies, just to become a main character. Death in a cartoon-ed environment just doesn't have the same effect on you as it does with nicely done drab or rustic 2D backgrounds and sprites. For just one second lets imagine putting Vagrant Story in a "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" environment, still think Lea Monde is a creepy place? (Ok, well you might...) The last thing I have to say about graphics....Xenogears, anyone who states Xenogears was a horrible game because the graphics were not what they could have been, I'd like five minutes alone with them in a dark alley.

Soundtrack, what can I say, incredibly original. It wasn't what someone would expect from Enix. Unlike some of the series of games, this one definitely didn't sound like you were playing Final Fantasy. Rarely uplifting, the score of the game picked up any slack the graphics may have had in setting the mood of the game. At times it even had a Castlevania feel to it, at times one might even feel that they were surrounded by death. When you were in danger, you knew you were in danger, and when standing before Odin you knew you were standing in the Halls of Valhalla. On a similar note, there's the voice acting. Probably one of the few games that had the most voice acting in a PS RPG. Granted, sometimes it was broken and perhaps the translation was not perfect, but Valkyrie's voice did one heck of a job of portraying her lack of emotions (yet another motif setting technique) and making the game seem all that more "real."

Both the gameplay and story were very well done and again, never before seen in any video game that I can remember. The battle system made you work in order to survive, bit to mention to better your characters. If you couldn't get the combo system down you were pretty much as good as dead. Anyone who wants to argue that point obviously never attempted Hard mode. Speaking of Hard mode, not only did the difficulty setting adjust the strength/HP/etc of enemies, it actually gave you a reason to play the game more than once. Easy mode wouldn't allow you to access certain areas or character, Hard mode gave you access to these, but only if you could (as I said before) master the battle system.

On a final note I will give my reason for writing this in the first place. Since all the talk began about VP and how great it was, I have recently picked it back up off the shelf and popped it in my PS2. Rarely do I ever go back to an RPG once I have accomplished all I set out to do (which usually entails mastering the game, unlocking every secret, completing every side quest, maxing character levels, etc. etc.). Needless to say, games like Disgaea will never be 100% complete in my book, and there are many games on my shelf still in their shrink wrap dating back almost a year and a half. Because of this I don't believe there will ever be enough time to complete everything I own if I am constantly returning to my old favorites. But, I digress... Its because VP was such an excellent game in almost every aspect that the writers to rpgamer have recently re-peaked my interest in it. And any game that is good enough to return to after so many years is truly great in my book.

Mike

ANDREW
Ah, the old giant-stack-of-unplayed-games dilemma... How well I know that feeling. I own about 50 RPGs, and I haven't even touched almost 20 out of that number. Why, I have Suikoden 3 just kicking around - I opened the shrinkwrap just to say I had, but it's still a pretty bad scene.


This just in: I'm not wearing pants!


Hey Andrew,

I read something on a website about a new version of the PS2 that is alot thinner about the thickness of one inch. And is also going to have that eathernet thing already incorperated into the system is this true? I am aware this has nothing to do with RPG's but if it is true the first thing im gonna do is get a copy of Final Fantasy XI. And i most also ask what other online PS2 games would you recomend?

-Tonberryking

ANDREW
I can confirm the rumours for you, having seen a photograph of this amazingly thin chunk of PS2 goodness. On the downside, they will knick you for however much a new stand costs, if you like that sort of thing, but it's top-loading (why I don't know - you'd think the whole point of slimming it down would be to make it fit in any shelf, which to me toploading kind of defeats the purpose of) and will include all the handy gewgaws you mentioned. And for no apparent reason it'll come in a sexy yellow box!

So yes, pick up FFXI if you don't value your soul, and as for other online titles? Quite frankly, my friend, I haven't played any online PS2 titles, so any advice I could give you would be the worst form of pretending I know something I don't. As such, I cannot help you.


Powerlord comes through in the clutch


There seems to be some confusion over what DirectX 9 Compatible means versus what DirectX 9 Compliant means.

DirectX 9 Compliant essentially covers all the cards that were built with DirectX 9 features in mind. Essentially, this encompasses all the newer video card models... although, in my experience, the only major difference between DirectX 8.1 compliant and DirectX 9.0 compliant cards is the Pixel Shader 2.0 requirement.

DirectX 9 Compatible, on the other hand, are essentially cards that were built for earlier versions of DirectX, such as earlier Radeon and GeForce cards. I personally have a DirectX 8.1 Compliant card, a Radeon 9000 Pro, but it works fine under DirectX 9... just without Pixel Shader 2.0 support.

The DirectX 9 FAQ has the following question in it:

Q Will installing DirectX 9.0 cause my existing titles to fail?
A

Backward compatibility is a key feature of DirectX. We do application compatibility testing with a large number of released DirectX-enabled titles and a number of pre-release titles every time we release a new version of DirectX. In rare cases, some titles are "version coded" to accept only a single version of DirectX. These titles are almost always updated by the manufacturer to fix this behavior. These few cases aside, we are not aware of any compatibility problems with any previously released DirectX-enabled titles. In some cases, these programs may even run better with DirectX 9.0.

--
R. Bemrose
Webmaster, VGMusic.com

ANDREW
Okay, so maybe I owe Scar an apology. Have the Rolling Stones killed!

ANDREW'S FLUNKY
Uhh... sir.. those are the Ramones.

ANDREW
You heard me!.. Hmm, this joke no longer resonates, seeing as how there's only one Ramone left.


Hmm.. perhaps I was too harsh


Hi Cast.

See? That's what I get for not re-reading my letters after typing them.

I mentioned FFX2 in my TRPG idea yesterday because I first wrote the letter as a general RPG issue, then remembered the (real) complaints I heard about TRPGs specifically and forgot to remove it. The whole point of the battle system I tried to think of was to allow a more "realistic" battle system but allowing the gamer time to think.

ANDREW
Ahhh. Well, that makes a lot more sense, in retrospect. ^^

As for VP... Well, I'm not its greatest fan but it's a good game. Great music, voice acting was OK, great graphics, I really enjoyed the gameplay (except for bosses with only one elemental weakness, in which case you're stuck doing lots of 1's of damage for quite a while unless you're lucky and have proper items/abilities).

Minor spoilers ahead.

I think the only real problem I have with the game is that if you want to experience the full story you'd probably need an FAQ. There are three endings, IIRC. To get the good ending (which includes extra bosses, an actual story as opposed to a bastardized version and so on) you need to follow a rather strict set of actions.

End spoilers.

So overall, I think it's a good game and worth buying. Besides, who *doesn't* enjoy huge heads talking on-screen?

Zohar Gilboa, who's glad he had something on-topic to say so the letter doesn't seem only about how he was right in the previous letter (or at least not as ignorant).

ANDREW
I know I can't live without those giant talking heads! And you may think you've tricked me, but I'll be back, and in greater numbers! ...It occurs to me I probably should have chosen a topic I could come up with coherent replies to.


Well, he's got me dead to rights


Well, I haven't ever actually played VP, but here's my opinion on why people think it's so great:

I'd be willing to bet that most of the people that claim VP is one of the best RPGs ever have never played it in their life. Because they've never played it, and can only hear from the few that actually played it when it came out, they assume it's of the best games of all time. Most of those people don't want to spend $50-60 on a new game, so they just take all of the people who played it word for it.

That's my opinion on why VP is as highly praised as it is.

ANDREW
That's all well and good, but I know that the people who I have genuinely spoken to about VP have in fact played it; Scar in particular, since as I've probably mentioned a dozen or so times, he snatched the one copy I could have had a chance at right out from under my nose. Oh, the inhumanity!

At any rate, while I myself may in fact be an opinion-leeching poser, I don't think there's too many others in my boat - after all, not many people are called upon to offer opinions in a forum like this. You might want to consider that next time you look at one of my answers - would it interest you to know that half the time, I have no real idea what I'm talking about? Take that, fourth wall!


HE BEATS ME WHEN IT'S DARK


It's interesting that Valkyrie Profile receives to much press after all this time, especially given that it was a relatively small print run, and that it's kinda a quirky niche game. So... For anyone who's never played it, and is too lazy to look this up on the internet through other means, here's a brief run-down of the Valkyrie Profile system:

Based more-or-less solidly on Norse mythology (excepting a few peculiarities and the fact that there are a dozen Japanese villages in the game...) Non-random encounters (ala, Chrono and Lunar) Typical tri-Ace graphical style presented in what is largely a 2D platform RPG (ala, Castlevania) Quasi-typical turn-based battle system with a tiny bit of strategy tossed in since you can make your characters attack in sequences

That's pretty much what you're in for. There are a few more out-of-the-normal systems to be aware of as you play, but they're pretty easy to figure out.

~ Zachary 'ASV' 'The Evil Twin' Lewis

P.S.: Like Hell you're playing WoW. I'll take that club to you right now if you don't stop talking insanity!

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing Zack, and rest assured, I will snap up WoW the second it comes out!


A cunning riposte


So you query people about what VP means in your column........ but what the heck is VP? Vice President? ^^ I might try to answer you if i know what it's supposed to stand for.

Oh, and wouldn't the sequel to Chrono Trigger be Chrono Cross? Giving them the CC already. ^^

Now, give me another topic to talk to you about and i'll send you more gold....... pure comedic gold that is...... yes indeedy. -Billy

ANDREW
Your gold appears to be tinged with some sort of incoherence, my friend... I may have said VP repeatedly for some reason, but if you missed my joke relating to CC yesterday, that's hardly my fault.


Unfit for Print


what do you consider to be the best rpg's for pc, gameboy advance, and ps2, preferably not online please. thank you holly

ANDREW
You know what? If I like an online game the best of all, I'm going to say an online game whether you like it or not! If you want a recommendation as to what game I think you should purchase, then by all means, set restrictions, but I don't tell you what to think, now do I?

...Fine, KotOR, I hate all GBA RPGs equally, and Breath of Fire V.


YOU 'DREW
QUICKIE I
Heya!

Short and simple: which is the world's best selling RPG? My friend say SW: KOTOR (PC) and I say some FF-game (console). Who's right? Only you, the God of all RPGs in the world can answer this question!

-Quincy

Andrew:
KotOR sold a whole lot of copies in its first couple weeks, but even those impressive figures (270,000 in the first two weeks) have been shattered by the recent release of Fable. And you'd think Final Fantasy, with games like VII and VIII having shipped well in excess of five and six million copies respectively, would be in the running, but then you'd be discounting the legions of screaming fans that go ga-ga over... Pokémon. Yes, that's right, Pokémon Gold & Silver hit ten million units sold after a frenzy of shopping among Europeans, possibly caused by flu shots.

QUICKIE II
Well a long time ago
when I was but a wee girl, I had a game called Vagrant Story. I played this game and loved it, but then like an idiot I returned it. Now many years later I find a local store has a few copies and I'm wondering, should I go buy it?

Andrew:
Good heavens no!



DA LAST GRUMBLE

And so ends another weekend - such as it is. Actually, my dad managed to dredge this old orange crate that somehow bears pixels out of the basement a couple days ago, I am informed, so I could be moving back to real weekends at some point in the near future. For now, however, it's Saturday time, and that means weekdays in this crazy world!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long is a very very very fine house.

GOOG'LL PROVIDE THE ANSWERS, YOU PROVIDE THE

QUESTIONS


With two kids in the backyard something something something something.. Ah, my memory is shot.

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