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Cause=Time July 31st, 2005

Andrew Long - 23:20 EST

GRUU... Some days it can be difficult to get this thing started. In any event, let us proceed to the letters, few though they are, you bunch of lazybones.

Eets'a still me :P

Dear Andrew (or whoever),

First off, I would like to applaud you on your response to the guy who claimed everybody would claim Final Fantasy is better than Baldur's Gate/Fallout/KotOR/what-have-you. While I understand and respect that people will have different tastes than me, it gets real old real fast listening to people talk about Square-Enix's genius and how awesome Sephiroth really was, or how "emotional" the scene where the writers stopped making up lines for Aeris was (some people would call that her "death", but, I claim they didn't feel like animating another model anymore).

Interesting outlook. I never considered the possibility of developer laziness, because pretty much the only thing that struck me as rushed about FFVII was the translation, which is of course famously terrible. In any event, I should also note I wasn't badmouthing Square Enix by saying that; I'm just noting that there are equally good games on this side of the ocean, if you bother to wade through the seas of crap that get pumped out every year, and I happen to enjoy a fair number of them.

More to the point, I have two questions: First, what are your favorite North American RPGs? Personally, I feel Baldur's Gate will always top that list, but, I'm asking the questions here, so, it's your answer that matters.

I'm going to have to go with Diablo II here, simply because of the amount of time it's sucked out of me at various points. It's not the most solidly constructed RPG out there, but it is most certainly the most addictive, somehow managing to make you care about those unique drops even though it lacks the MMORPG setup that is usually necessary to make that kind of thing worthwhile. So kudos to Blizzard for wrecking my sleeping patterns.

Another sloppy, but highly enjoyable game that was made outside Japan that I favour is Ultima VIII. While it was buggy as hell, and I ended up getting irrevocably stuck because I couldn't place a candle properly in a spot required to open the door to a necessary dungeon, the level of exploration in the game was incredible for its time, and some of the places that passageways were hidden were amazing, and actually justified my tendency to try out every path, no matter how far out of the way. It's like it was made for me. It was also the first PC RPG I ever owned, and also the first that really managed to suck me in - and you could beat on townspeople with a mace! For my money, there's nothing better than running down the streets of Tenebrae and shouting "I'll mace you good!" to some hapless peasant.

I really wish I could find that install CD, although it probably wouldn't work very well with Win XP.

Second, if you could make your own RPG (every player's dream, yes) what game do you think it would be most like/inspire you the most? To that effect, what would differentiate your game from all the others?


Hmm. That's a good question, because I'm not too sure what type of RPG I would make if I could make one. I would have to say, in the end, that whatever it was would end up being heavily inspired by Castlevania: SotN simply because that game was so enormously enjoyable and also had such a wealth of content that it took a significant amount of time to fully complete the castle, a treat with the entertaining gameplay. The sidescroller/powerup accumulation style of RPG is one of the most addictive to my way of thinking, and to differentiate mine I would probably try a new setting, I guess, since the actual format doesn't really lend itself to too much variation. Let's go with astronauts and... the moon.

Yeah, too bad they couldn't do squat against Kansas or Texas

Hi Andrew,

First I just want to say that I enjoy reading your column everyday. Thanks a lot for taking time out of your day/night to answer our questions.

I just picked up a used copy of SH:C today. I know that you don't necessarily need to play the 1st one to enjoy this one, but would you still play them in order if given the choice? I'd like to play the first one also (if I ever see it again =/ ), and if SH1 has a lot of plot points that are revealed in SH:C, I'd rather wait to play Covenent until I find the first one just so I can avoid as many spoilers as possible. What do you think?

Random question now..I think Canada/US are in the same region as far as game releases go, but are there any games that are harder to come by in Canada than they generally otherwise are?

Thanks for your time!

P.S. Gotta thank the Blue Jays for wiping out the Angels this week. I'm a huge Oakland fan. =) Plus I like to see any team succeed that has connections to the A's (Beane/Riccardi). Good luck to them down the stretch!


Thanks for the kind words, Jeremy. I enjoy what I do, so it's not really much of a sacrifice to take that time out. I don't actually have the first game, and so I'm pretty much stuck playing #2 first by default. For you, however, I would recommend getting SH1 first, because it does in fact contain some fairly important plot points that will make the second game that much more enjoyable an experience.

In terms of the regional question, not really. There was a brief period a few years ago where there were delays in games reaching the Canadian side of the border as a result of language restrictions with instruction manuals, but Square finally remembered that French Canadians speak french and started including instruction manuals in that language. Generally, then, we do end up with the same games as you guys, and minus all the political grandstanding to boot!

P.S. Thanks, they'll need it x.x

Speaking of political douchebags

Greetings Cozumel

I was curious but who is this Jack Thompson person anyway? I don't watch news much anymore *reasons why is another story, mainly that nothing affects me in the end which is how I like things* so I would want some info, and I do know of the hot coffee thing. Got me thinking as well if all games had things like that, what would you see? I said that the Wall Market scene in FFVII would be even more in the gutter than it already is.

Also on Makai Kingdom, do you know what the "key" is referring to and what it does in a battle?
Imperial Mog


Jack Thompson, for the uninitiated, is a ratbag who is of the opinion that video games are "killing simulators designed to teach our children to MURDER!" His goal? To restrict freedom of speech rights and then blame it on the video game companies, because then at least the murderers will stop murdering!

Except that's a ludicrous idea. Video games do not cause murder, and anyone who is unbalanced enough to commit that crime is probably predisposed to bursts of violence anyway; if it wasn't the video games providing the inspiration, it would be something else. I say this with absolute certainty because people have been killing people ever since there were other people to kill, and they sure didn't have villainous games like Grand Theft Auto to train them back in the day when they had a more limited repertoire to work with. Before video games, it was TV and movies that were causing murders. Before TV and movies it was that devil music. Before that devil music it was probably... ah, whatever. The fact is we're all violent monkeys, and while we may be more intelligent than your average chimp, we still like smashing each other with rocks.

And, having not played MK as of yet, I am afraid I can't offer any help there.

Squoingy, Squoingy!

Dear Andrew,

First, a comment on the allegation that "North Americans don't make good RPGs". Any Final Fantasy fan worth their salt (i.e. "FF4 is the reason I failed third grade", and not "I tried playing the ones before 7, but I couldn't stomach the graphics") knows that Final Fantasy I and II were programmed by the famous Apple II game coder Nasir Gebelli and were based heavily on D&D. So, in essence, suck it, fanboys!

On to my question. What's your take on the present saturation of the North American market with NIS's tactical RPGs? I mean, Disgaea was great, but I'm barely haflway through it when they start in with La Pucelle: Tactics and then the floodgates open from there. I think FF Tactics was a classic because it was the only tactical RPG Square put their energy into at the time, and when they followed it years later, they made sure it was with the equally great FFT:A. But for NIS to create Disgaea, and then go on to kill the genre with a bunch of also-rans (which I'm not saying are particularly bad, just overdone), is like Sylvester Stallone nailing Rocky, then going on to make four more. Your thoughts?


First off, I just can't abide the words "equally great FFT:A" in my column in a non-sarcastic sense. FFT was light years better than FFT:A and almost entirely because of the story. I know the plot shouldn't be of too much concern in a T-RPG, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about a bunch of whiny schoolkids and the various plot points read like an episode of Dora the Explorer. I also didn't enjoy the item system very much. In any event, NISA has hardly flooded the market. La Pucelle Tactics was actually developed long before Disgaea, and came out in Japan years ago. Phantom Brave is pretty poorly coded, and could definitely have used some polish, but we can't really judge Makai Kingdom, given that it's only been on the market for three days. Beyond that, Atelier Iris isn't a T-RPG, so it's not like it's just T-RPGs that they're bringing out.


So back when I first played FF1 on the NES my brothers and I were about half way through. One of my brothers made the off hand comment that wouldn't be funny if the final boss took up the entire screen and was impossible to beat. Well needless to say once we finally got to Chaos and died at him for like the third time we had to take my brother out back and beat him senseless (after which we were able to come back and beat Chaos--coinicidence...probably). The next RPG I played was the original Dragon Warrior and more of a joke towards his FF1 comment then anything my brother makes the same remark about the final boss. Lo and behold the damn the dragon at the end is a pain of untold fathoms. So from then on when ever my brother would start a statement "You know what would be funny..." while we were playing an RPG, we would have to slap duct tape on his mouth and throw him in a corner. Not sure what exact this moment strikes, but it always sticks out in my mind.

-- Kalledon --


I'm not certain if this letter is a retread... A certain naughty columnist neglected to delete his letters once he was finished with them, so I'm still swimming in stuff that may or may not have been answered. Anyhow, this is all just a really long preamble to my polite nod, and so, without further ado, I present that to you now.

Thanks for sharing, Kalledon.


Tomorrow you will have a mystery prize, or at least, a mystery host. As such, send in all your most mysterious questions, because I think tomorrow is a prime day for intrigue and solving all those ridiculous problems that many games have. Stuck in a game? Email, we'll actually do the FAQ'ing for you for once! Musing about a game's plot but can't get closure from the game itself? Air it out here! Whichever you choose, choose, because letters are fun, and I don't want to use anymore recycled stuff.
Andrew Long is a pox on the environment... a POX!

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