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Her Name Is Cat

Andrew Long - October 15 '03- 01:48 Eastern Standard Time

PAWS HAS ASKED ME TO give her some sort of cameo in today's column but for the life of me I can't think of a graceful way to accomodate this particular request, so let me just point the way to the last review she posted while still hoping against hope that you'll come back and read this column all the way to the bottom.

Speaking of reviews, I have a tale of woe to impart from BoF V, which I finally managed to defeat for the first time last night. With spoilers conveniently hidden, it seems that the last boss can only be defeated by maxing out one's D-Counter, which I didn't quite clue in to until the third time I'd been through all the game end rigmarole. This got me to wondering why exactly every game feels the need to include a gazillion forms of every final boss. I mean, it was kind of surprising back in the days of Zeromus when other last bosses could be defeated with super cool Mr. Nintendo-style moves like in Mario 2 where instead of playing it safe you can be cool and stand DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF OR BEHIND Wart and bean him with vegetables at point blank range which I guess has some sort of cooking advantage afterwards although personally I don't see the attraction in toadslime, but for heaven's sake, nowadays it's actually surprising when there's only one final boss.

Then again, I've never eaten a toad before so heaven only knows whether or not it is in fact a delicious seasoning. Suffice it to say that I will probably never find out personally, since I have more interesting things to eat like the god-awful "Spicy Bowl" from Taco Bell, which is actually a giant clod of refried beans with the hint of real food thrown in around the edges. When my cats won't eat something it's a good indication it's culinary evil, and so the rock of unconverted methane is mulching now in my garbage can, where I can only assume a miniature civilization will one day arise and take over the trash or maybe whatever dump it ends up going to (which I hear is in Michigan for some reason.)

The upshot of this all? I wrote a BoF V review which is nesting happily in the latest Points of View update, another place you might find, oh I don't know... Paws! So yeah, if you just can't get enough of reading stuff I write, you can check it out here. If, on the other hand, this column is more than enough to sate you of my uh, wiles, then dig in. I promise - no refried beans.



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Hors D'Oeuvres - Cockamamie Concepts 101

When I think of casting spells, I think of some arcane language being muttered and crazy hand motions going on. Of course, in RPGs, casting spells requires nothing more than a button press or two. Why should we simplify this complex and intriguing process? Especially in MMORPGs, where characters arbitrarily learn "languages", i.e., a number corresponding to what percentage of the letters in a word are properly displayed, there is no real reference to anything but a simple command. Why not have players ACTUALLY do this? Supply a game (MMORPG or single-player) with a headset and gloves. Though voice recognition technology for whole languages is still very inaccurate, picking up key phrases and words that the computer is told to look for is certainly feasible, even extremely accurate. The gloves can have sensors to pick up hand motion, orientation, and the position of finger joints. Oh, the potential can have beginning spells with simple phrases, perhaps in English, with basic hand motions. Two palms outward and an enthusiastic shout of "Fire!" has a brilliant ball of flame eminate from the player's hands (which move as the real hands do, of course.) As spell levels get higher, however, more work becomes involved. Looping motions and circles and accurate hand positions are all required to get a spell to activate (or, perhaps, a decreased spell strength penalty could be implemented), and the spell incantations themselves become far longer and in other languages. Nor do the spells need to be the same from every player, thus actually forcing a player to really LEARN a language, or at least translate a scroll or something. How cool would it be to have to venture through a musty old library, looking for ancient runes and stuff to help you translate a forgotten language? Gone are the automatic "spell memorization" and "casting time". YOU have to memorize the spells, and the length of performing the spell, obviously, determines casting time. The gloves could be used to other various in-game activities as well; hitting buttons, pointing, blocking, heck, maybe even sword fighting.

I sound like I'm on drugs, don't I?

All you thousands of game developers reading this, feel free to steal my idea. Go ahead. Do it.

- Feep "Arek du arest cont alle axio, te arira!" (Lighting Storm)

See, your version of cool and that of the average person are markedly different, and sad to say, it's the average gamers who enjoy pimping out farm labour for fun and profit that make MMORPGs viable, not voice-activated boredom - and that should give you a hint as to where my sentiments lie on this matter. Let it not be said that I don't see the value in learning other languages - I can read (if not write or speak terribly proficiently, as my dear readers delight in pointing out) French, and have studied Spanish for a few years. That said, the rigmarole you're suggesting is not only prohibitive, it doesn't sound inherently enjoyable, and I can't see any way in which you could make that into a game that has any sort of flow.

Yes, I'm afraid you're going to have to wait until the days of Otherland are upon us and games are entirely immersive. Until then, I just don't think what you're suggesting is feasible.

Sort of on topic...

The always intelligent Andrew Long,

High wind warning is now in effect...must make sure the windmill doesn't blow away.... Unless I fill it with explosives and aim it towards granny....or kupomogli. *goes outside* Oh darn, I don't have a windmill...I'll have to make use of Peggy Sue instead. She was a good old truck, but now is her time to meet her compounder... Farwell Peggy Sue, may you explode in peace!! Ooooo, more cynical schemes!!

For the topic on artistic things and the like... Hmmmm... My favorite would have to be Nomura's artwork on FFVIII, X, and X-2... I think Nomura's a great artist. His characters look more realistic than most, and each has an unique design. Although I do also like Chrono Cross's work by Yuki... Amano's high on my list too, but he's worked on most FFs, so that's too broad... Too many artists, oh well... Maybe people will like my art skills when I get into the rpg industry... We can only wait and see.. (not to mention sacrificing 3 goats each autumn moon, and paying Castomel $300 a month for extra services)

The place for other random rantings... The PSATs are next Tuesday, BAH! I scoff at thee. They're pushing it by raising the price by $0.50. I sense a conspiracy! Oh well, at least I get outta some classes. I guess I can't complain tho... I was the one who signed up for it. Eh, whatever helps me get into a good college I guess. (Hartwick, Hartwick, Hartwick!!) In other great, inspiring news... The football team lost Saturday!! Woohoo!!! I so love it when people get what they deserve. Loud mouth, jerks deserved to have their hype pummeled into the ground... Oooo, I feel all happy again. Not that I don't like sports-playing people, but the ones here are real jerks, so no hard feelings to all you non-stupid jocks who we can get along with without violence, eh? Ok, this letter may be getting quite lengthy... Unless I've written lengthier ones.... Who knows? Oooooo, too short. Must write another 10 page essay...

... ... ...??? Oh darn, I can't think of anything... I need some inspiration. Oh yea!! Ultros.. Ultros cracks me up. Even after not playing FFVI for a while, I still love his quirkyness. Your thoughts on this great comic relief octopus?

Let the wind clear your thoughts once and a while,

O' Shrouded One

Nomura? Unique design? I think you might just be a little more insane than I thought. In my humble opinion, Nomura's characters all look pretty much the same. The only distinguishing feature between them is the clothing (or number of belts) they wear, and to be honest, the only characters he's designed that I've liked at all from the games you mention are Auron and maybe Lulu or Wakka. Still, artistic impression is entirely subjective, so far be it for me to try and change your mind.

Cel-shading makes its inevitable appearance

Hello Andrew,

The topic you put up on Friday was to talk about games that were artistic, had a good artistic style, something along those lines. I hadn't really thought about it before, but when I did, I kept coming back to the idea that the artistically "good" games are the ones that create a feel along with their look, something unique or distinctive that belongs to that game alone. Along with the memorable scenes in the games I'm listing, I also have vivid memories of what it was like to "live in that world" for a while.

These are the RPGs I could think of...I came up with non-RPG games like Sly Cooper and MGS (1 and 2), too....

FFIX: Because of the "steam" that's used to power machinery, you have this really cool place where you can ride around in trains and airships but not pollute the environment. The scenery in this game really stuck with me--the natural areas, the cities, and the dungeons/interiors. (Character designs were a bit weird IMO, but fitting) I'd put FFIX's world as the one I'd most like to live in, if I had the chance...once the threat to average citizens is taken care of by Our Heroes!

Wild ARMs 3: Cel-shading's been done, a lot of times by now, and after awhile cel-shaded games start to seem the same. WA3's character designs weren't all that flash or unique, maybe, but the designers decided to use a canvas-y texture for the main part of the game, and sepia tones for the memory sequences, menus and dialogue boxes, which gives it a fun old-fashioned look that fits perfectly with its fantasy-Western theme. The music's important to the whole "gestalt," too.

Wind Waker: I'll agree with you on this one. I just picked it up a week or two ago, myself, and am not that far with it, only finished the first dungeon...I was one of the millions of people who had doubts when I saw the cel-shaded screen shots, but seeing the game in motion is so much cooler. That swirly purple stuff that you get when you defeat a monster, the lighting effects, it's obvious that a lot of care was put into how the game looks. Even the opening island gives you a good "sense of place" and destructible environments including the patented Zelda cuttable money-bushes. The monsters are lifelike--they seem less like walking patterns of moves than many action-game monsters do (even if they are, underneath it all). I can't wait to continue with WW, especially since I got a GBA/GC link cable and can now team up with someone!

BoF:DQ: I don't have much to say about this one, since I haven't gotten far, but both my BF and I were impressed by the bugs flying around the lights at the train station at the very beginning of the game.


I think you've hit on a good point there in your analysis of WA3 and WW. Cel-shading is kind of old hat at this point, and there must be a huge temptation among the art design staffs of the gaming world to just knock off some bland textures and leave it at that. The games that truly make the technique shine pretty much have to use some sort of distinctive theme in order to make it better than your average cel-shaded affair. Thus it is that the canvas-like texture of WA3 and the stylish cartoon design of Wind Waker set them apart from other games in the genre. Granted, neither is perfect, but at least there's evidence that some real effort went into giving the games a unique look and feel, and for that I give both Sony and Nintendo high marks.

Over the wire from Friday, so to speak

Hey Andrew,

I think the Zelda compilation sounds really cool. It would be pretty neat to see the first two games with Gamecube style graphics. It would be cooler if A Link To The Past was part of the compilation (which, according to the article, it doesn't appear to be), but that alone sounds pretty good.

As far as the N-Gage goes, I personally think it's another Turbografx-style overpriced, undersupported system that's bound to go the way of the Atari Jaguar. Face it, Nintendo always has and always will have the lock on the handheld gaming market. That's not going to be an easy market to break into for an upstart company, you know? But then again, if I went back ten years and told you that Sony and Microsoft would be the makers of the two top consoles in North America in the year 2003, with Nintendo a distant third and Sega and Atari nowhere in sight, what would you have said to that?

Robust Stu
Gold Reviewer/Swell Guy

Why, I would have said you were crazy, but of course, 1993 was before the heady days of the George Foreman grill and the rise of the Axis of Evil, so what did I know? Yes, it was an age of innocence lost, a time to play Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy IV ad infinitum... Little did we know how soon the divide between old school and new school would form, how soon we would be subjected to Beyond the Beyond, Rhapsody, the N64, and Celine Dion on a widespread basis. It brings a tear to my eye...

As the column slides beneath the waves of silliness, PAWS(nyuk) to reflect on the George Foreman grill, and how lucky we are to have it

Before I forget, Andrew,

How's Andrew Dangerous doing? Any word from him or the other alter-egos?? Now I just need another cheerleader's skull, and I'll be able to finish my cake!! Hmm....seems about time to wrap this up with yet another philosophical quote... Will you change the future, or will the future change you?

O' Shrouded One

Well, Andrew Dangerous has completed his stint in the DUDEMAN (Deep Underground Decontamination Emergency Module Apparatus North) and is being transferred to the GUY (Gratuitous Underground Yoga) therapy center, where he will undergo advanced training in the arts of being a soccer mom for some reason. You should expect him to explode forth from somewhere under the murky surface of west New Jersey sometime early in 2004, gunning an SUV towards a hockey rink where he is slated to slay an unruly parent (in the name of justice, of course) and whisk a referee to safety, all while keeping up with the hectic schedule of a single mom with three kids and of course having a few laughs (and cancers of the lung) along the way. Sounds almost like something you'd see on UPN...

Unfit for Print

Hey Andrew,

I just want to say, and I'm not a mean person or anything, but in my opinion, Alloy is an idiot. I don't get how you can disagree about Final Fantasy on FF Origins having the same difficulty as the original on the NES. I'm pretty sure that Alloy doesn't own, or probably hasn't even have played the original Final Fantasy for the NES, so first of all, he can't disagree on anything I said about FF on FF Origins. As well as FF2 sucking on both FF Origins and the original cartridge on NES, because FF2 sucks, and sucks badly. If he goes and disagrees like something that I said about any of the FF games, he's probably a biased RPG player, who hasn't played an RPG before Final Fantasy 7, and doesn't realize that Squaresoft has been making pathetically easy games after FF6 has been released for the SNES(except for the SaGa series).

NGage sucks, Tomb Raider sucks, and if he disagrees about something like Tomb Raider sucking, then he must be an obsessed fanboy, or dislike me for no real reason.

Also anyone who would disagree about Final Fantasy 3 being released with the original graphics, and just the translation is not a true fan of the series. More like a person who is more of a fan of graphics who would rather have an easy game with great graphics(like FF7 or FF10) rather than have a game that is difficult without the fact that you have to level up hour after hour, but difficulty that you can go through the game without having to level up so much, but just go through and still have to play without just attacking over and over without trying. Also Dragon Warrior 5 and 6, just without you having to open the menu and hit search every time to search a drawer or the ground on the game, where it should be released as well, of course he disagreed about that as well.

Then the thing I think makes him look like more of an idiot, when I mentioned how Capcom is making the MegaMan series on 2 cd's, one with the MegaMan X series, the other with the MegaMan series, as MegaMan's 15 year anniversary, is that he wants MegaMan X3. Yes it's a rare game, but very rare, and I doubt anyone would ever give it up, so that shows a little irony, where he is basically disagreeing with me, about the series which is actually coming out as a collectors edition, where he could get the game he wants by purchasing it if it's released in the US, or wherever he lives, because he wants the game, and if he'd actually maybe go search the internet, or look at some recent game magazines, he'd realize. "Man, I look like a real a** when I said what I said on RPGamer...." or maybe it's just him.

Other than that, I'm not really a big fan of graphics, where, actually, I'm not a fan of graphics really at all, but if I have to choose what I thought looked probably the most visually pleasing, I'd have say Wild Arms 3. All the characters are done really well, as every building in the game, mostly in town, the houses and everything, look really great, and realistic.

-andrew- -kupomogli-

Okay, that's enough of that. If you want to fight, use the message board. This isn't a divorce court or something, and no matter how much you're convinced that fanboyism is the cause of all opinions in dissension with your own, I'm willing to bet that nobody else cares. I'm also pretty sure that Alloy wasn't trying to start an argument with you, so please, let's just keep things civil, shall we? In point of fact, I wouldn't even have printed this, except it makes you look worse for continuing the argument than it makes him look for uh... starting it, I guess. Let's all grow up, shall we?

I so ment to send this in yesterday but, eh, today's a good day for anything.
I'd just like to point out that I am a walking definition of owning and buying and liking embarrasing games. Not only that but I own an N-Gage. :)


How unfortunate for you...
Congratulations on outlasting me.
I should probably mention that my cursed unreliable memory was under the impression you lasted all of three days or so, so that's the only reason I said that way back when. Anyhow, I see you're doing just fine over at CDJ, so I guess you get the last laugh :)


Well, that was brisk. Whenever this takes less than an hour I always feel vaguely suspicious that my answers are less than first-rate, so perhaps I'll take five tomorrow just to make sure. Well, tomorrow's actually going to be a little slice of inbox hell for me because I also threw up a news hiring call, so sorting everything out is sure to be a delight. Still, I love being bombarded with mail, so for tomorrow, let's stick with the artistic bent and do a good old-fashioned topic cage match: Amano vs. Nomura. FIGHT!
Andrew Long is feeling mildly remorseful, but with a spicy twist of some description.



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The Mark of tuinte
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