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ASK ANDREW
Rar! Your Fate-Debt is Great, Little Metal Woman! August 5, 2005

Andrew Long - 1:04 EST

HAVING RECENTLY PURCHASED Metroid Prime II, I've been playing it in bits and pieces lately, and if there's been one change that's been more striking than any other thus far, it is that whoever was in charge of writing the random bits of dialogue retrieved by scanning the various junk strewn across the surface of Aether is apparently some sort of reject from the writing staff of the original Star Wars series. Would it have killed the guy, for example, to use the term "year" instead of cycle (or decacycle, for that matter)? Or you know, never to have the term fate-debt appear anywhere? I understand that there is a certain precision involved in these irksome and invented terms, but when you can't shake the feeling that somewhere, William Shatner is reading this dialogue with a hammy smile on his face, it ruins the overall immersiveness of a game.

In any event, perhaps I'm just bitter; MP2 is somewhat difficult, even on the easy setting, and there has certainly been worse dialogue in a video game before. That said, the voice samples for the guardians of Aether give me cause to wonder if perhaps someone isn't channeling Captain Kirk. In other news, we will continue to accept applications for Q&A until August 12th, so keep them coming. The field is widening, but it's still not very big compared with previous Q&A hires, so if you want in, now is definitely your chance. To apply, go here and be sure to fill out all required forms. Just think... you'll get to work with loveable ol' me <3




L E T T E R S
You, sir, have caused the involuntary execution of an Opera mouse gesture. For shame!


Hello RP Q&A(ers)

I was recently looking through the upcoming list of titles that I was interested in purchasing when I came across Shining Force Neo. According to one of the more popular retailers the ship date is set for October 18th, 2005. With its release only two months out I was surprised to see that so little coverage (here on rpgamer or anywhere else) has been made on this game. I only assume this is the fault of the developers/publishers and their lack of getting media to, well....the media. As with most other titles I wouldn't be surprised to see this resulting in a delayed release, which brings me to my question. Since some of you guys and gals managed to make it to E3 I was hoping maybe you could give the rest of us, unable to see the game for ourselves, an idea of the game play. Back when Shining Tears was released I was one of the first to purchase, play, and quickly return the game. I wasn't quite sure whether or not a) the two games were linked in any way and b) if the two shared similar game play.
ANDREW


Not to word this standoffishly, but did you even check our game page? On it you will find not one, but three, fully detailed impressions of the title, and while we don't exactly have a wealth of media, there is still enough to get a general idea of what the game looks like. As that was one of the few impressions I ended up doing, being the bad little monkey I am, I can tell you that it looked to my eyes like an extra-pretty mix between Diablo II and Breath of Fire V, though the outdoor areas are obviously far brighter than anything found in the latter. As for the gameplay, read my impression; it reasonably reflects my feelings; a so-so game that probably won't shoot the lights out on its release.

And incidentally: if you're trusting places like EB and Gamestop for your release dates, prepare to be disappointed repeatedly. Never trust a release date until the developer comes out and names it, and I'm not just talking a year or a month; if they haven't given a specific date that is well-documented across the internet in the form of release stories (not databases, which for some reason tend to pull dates off EB and Gamestop anyway despite their love of being horribly wrong) then don't bother getting your hopes up. I would also mention that any lack of screens comes from Sega's excellent publicity machine, which has always specialized in hyping its games unattractively. Even Gamespot hasn't posted anything since E3, which probably means that nobody's offering anything.

I'm not going to go into the reasons I disliked Shining Tears so much (the staff review here at rpgamer was more than fair) but I will say that in over fifteen years of gaming it is only the second title I have ever returned. If Shining Force Neo is anything reminiscent of Shining Tears I will gladly put it on my "never going to give this game a second thought" list.

Thanks,
Sylvan


ANDREW


Never played Shining Tears, so you're going to have to live in mystery. Look at the bright side; if it actually does come out in October, then you'll have Dragon Quest VIII to console you not long after (assuming that actually comes out in November, which is by no means a certainty).


Anime and other strange tastes


Dear Q&A host,
I just had to laugh at Daniel's letter when I read it (i'm sorry). I'm going to college in a few weeks. At the orientation I met two other "anime girls." Funny thing was that we weren't really wearing any gaming or anime stuff at the time. I just thought I'd mention that.

Have you guys ever played a game that everyone else said sucks and you should never play it? I bought Wild Arms 2 after enjoying Wild Arms 3 so much. The funny thing is that despite the not so good translation I reall enjoy playing it. I'm weird huh?

Carrie


ANDREW

Based upon the opinions of everyone I have met who has ever played through WA2, yes, Carrie, yes you are. Thank you for sharing your inspiring tale of anime fandom and community-forming goodness, though; I am sure that somewhere, you have given a fanboy a glimmering hope that he will somehow hook up with a girl during frosh week. Perhaps, even you...? *pinkie* STAY TUNED, FOR SEXY RESULTS, AND MORE COMMAS, THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT!

So anyway, this is why nobody ever asks me to be a matchmaker.



I sense you have many questions...


New Q&A people or Andrew,

Have you noticed how Nintendo produces like....WAAAAY less games than PS2 and XBOX? However, even though it seems like they're struggling to come up with new games, I feel the case is they simply produce better games. The ratio of good to bad games for Nintendo is astronomically better than those of PS2 (which I like, but has a lot of crap floating around too) and XBOX (HATE HATE HATE).
ANDREW
Your question is flawed; consoles do not produce games, companies do. Moreover, producers are not necessarily developers in all cases, but this isn't really central to this issue, so I guess we can let it slide. The reason you see more garbage for the PS2 and Xbox is simple; there are more games for the PS2 and the Xbox. This is because there are more publishers working with the PS2 and Xbox on account of the vastly wider installed base, and so it is much more likely that with the number of developers churning out junk for the PS2 that a stinker will come along, especially given the fact that Nintendo has oversight on many more titles than do either Sony or Microsoft by virtue of the second-party setup it favours for many of its big-name titles. Add to that the fact that only good multiplatform games tend to end up on the GC, and you can see why it might have a higher rate of success than do the other two. That and Nintendo actually claims to be dedicated to making good games, whereas Sony and Microsoft are just dedicated to making good money.

Also, is there any news on the next Xenosaga game? I really enjoyed Xenogears and Episode 1, and 2 was alright but was extremely short and had some nasty bosses. I was wondering if the next installment was gonna keep the battle/skill system changes, revert to episode 1's format, or try something new.
ANDREW
Alas, there is nothing good coming out of XS Episode IIItown. Not only were there serious splits in the development team that led to the departure of a couple of the prominent members of the development staff, the publicity for the title has been a massacre at best; the game was officially announced, for lack of a better term, by an injudicious blog posting made unwisely by one of the game's voice actors.

So yeah; with the series suffering declining sales, no official console destination in sight, and a whole mess of issues both internal and external, to say nothing of the shambles that has been made of development thus far, I would say that there's a good reason you haven't heard anything about Episode III yet. I'd say a better question would be will there be one, but regrettably, I can only dream of such things, for now.

How did Disgaea avoid getting slapped with the 'suggestive/sexual themes' rating? What's the difference between those two anyway?!
ANDREW
I would imagine it avoided such labels because the only thing approaching sexuality in the game was innuendo, which, while you could certainly refer to it as suggestive, really wasn't present, beyond that chapter where Laharl did... something or other unsavoury and got photographed doing it. If you think back, that was really as bad as it got, and so I don't think it deserved anything more than it got. As to the difference between the two, well, it should be obvious; "suggestive" is the suggestion of sex, while sexual themes, I would assume, is the actual existence of those themes. As there was no hot demon-on-angel action in Disgaea, I would surmise once again that it does not qualify for either.

Last night I completed both Atelier Iris and Makai Kingdom (I had been at the end of AI but couldn't beat the last guy) and I was very satisfied with those two games. Seems like everything NISA touches turns to gold. Would you like to see more TRPGs from them or traditional RPGs? Both are fine with me.

P.S. I think Chrono Cross has the best soundtrack of any game too, only topping FFIX.


ANDREW
Given that Gust Interactive was the developer of Atelier Iris, I think it might be interesting to see NIS try its hand at actually making a traditional RPG, since they've gotten by thus far on strictly addictive tactical gameplay. Disgaea and Phantom Brave have shown that the company is capable of cobbling together a decent story, so now the only challenge lies in turning their inventiveness in a different direction. That said, they're pretty much the only developer that's been making waves in the last year or so, and given the fact that that success has come about almost exclusively due to tactical RPGs, I don't expect we'll be seeing anything different in the forseeable future.

P.S. How can something be the best if it tops only one game? <.<



Somebody arrived late at the OMG SQUARE train


what is going on with Square soft ? i just read that even more poeple and the director of FF12 got out and went to MW ! this news is from http://www.the-magicbox.com and they got it from 1UP.com

- 1UP reported that Square Enix's Yasumi Matsuno no longer works as the director of Final Fantasy XII. Yasumi Matsumo is the director of Vagrant Story and the Final Fantasy Tactics series. It is also reported that a small part of the FFXII team has left the company for Hironobu Sakaguchi's Mist Walker

i have a feeling that square's next projects will no longer equal the quality of their earlier ones but what do YOU think RPGAMER ??? please reply me as fast as possible


ANDREW

While I heartily wish that your letter didn't read like something a Nigerian fraud scammer cooked up, I will nonetheless answer it, though I will not be providing you with account details to facilitate a wealth transfer for my kind thank you services. Unravelling your chain of sources, we see that indeed, Matsuno has stepped down from his previous roles as the effective big cheese behind FF12. What we do not see, however, is anything about a small part of the FFXII team jumping ship, at least not recently enough to have made any lasting impact on development. While there are indeed a number of new faces on the development team, this comes about largely because Development Division 4 has not really worked on anything more major than the steaming piles of ass that are Vagrant Story and FFTA, as well as the delightful FFT.

In any event, while it would certainly be my duty as a responsible member of the media to declare that the sky is falling and that you should all go out and shoot a liberal or two, I will instead respectfully decline to comment on the quality, or lack thereof, of Square's future offerings, preferring to render judgment after playing games as opposed to spewing out mindless invective and random opinions as I do (or, more clearly: we haven't really seen what these new development teams can do with a big budget, so let's not rush to bury them until we've actually played something they've made).





q u i c k i e s

Jeez, I don't go online for a week, and all Q&A columns between July 21-31 appear to be lost forever!
- Herandar

ANDREW:I have no idea what you're talking about <3. Ah, editing and advance warning, you devilish duo...

Me and my friends love the game Legend of Dragoon. We think that there should be a sequal. What do you think?

ANDREW:I think you and your friends are bad little monkeys who've gotten into the glue depository again. Bad little monkeys! No huffing glue!


C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Hmm. Well, it rather appears Elliot and Cortney used all the letters up, so I demand you replenish my supply! To that end, tomorrow will be open topic, as I will shortly be acquiring Harvest Moon. Questions on that are particularly preferred, as well as any further speculation / comments / questions / rants about Mistwalker's latest dribble of publicity, clearly designed to get us slobbering like the ravening pack of dogs we are!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long's off to Quebec, stowing timber on the deck, where there's a king with a golden crown, riding on a donkey!


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