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questionanswer&andrew


You Have the Right to Remain Fabulous!

Andrew Long - October 23 '03- 03:18 Eastern Daylight-Savings Time

MY HORRIFICALLY LATE COLUMN START TIME CAN BE blamed on a single thing: F-Zero GX. Particularly, it can be blamed upon the four-player mode of said game, which is far and above the best in the series. The N64 title played okay, I guess, but the GameCube number is all fast and shiny, and I hear if you pour sugar into the controller port it'll totally wreck your GC and then F-Zero will taste like pancakes.

I do think, however, that the one flaw in the game is the mashing of the boost button required to win any race. I mean, taking corners well and not leaping to oblivion every five seconds is all well and good, but in the end it always comes down to a glut of boosting on the final straightaway and a photo finish in the hundredths of seconds. This adds to the entertainment, to be sure, but it feels kind of...cheap. Oh, well, it's still shiny, and anything that shiny has to be good - like the shiny new donkey I will award to whoever makes an attempt at that index quote.

And now, since you've been so good and nobody complained about my rambling yesterday, I'll let you off a few paragraphs early so you can go and ... read the next part of the column. Don't nobody never say I didn't do nothin' for ya, especially if you can wind your way through that little nest of double negatives. Oh, and forgiveness please for my terrible updating of index yesterday. The offending fingers responsible for that debacle have been subjected to terrible delicious rib sauce trauma, and promise devoutly to behave.





SEND LETTER




10-22-03
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About the Editor



THREE GOALS IN ONE GAME
Finalfreakingly
Yes, I will ramble like this
Each time the Leafs play
But never fear
For there is yet time
To mention that:
I finally made progress in FFT
Stupid charming crystals
Made me feel like Marche was Gollum
Matrix in two weeks
Exeunt to drooling

Now here's a guy after my own heart


Dear Andrew,

I had the pleasure of subjecting myself to the brutal punishment know around the world as Star Ocean 2. The battle system to me was just how fast you could smash the X button with a quick break to heal up or cast some flashy spell of extreme slowdown. The whole story line was about as exciting as watching tarantulas mate on Oprah. Oh, and item creating....freaking waste of time without strategy guide.

As an aside, my uncle loved the game so mush he built the male hero up to over level 200 in the colosseum, yea sounds great doesn't it. All in all it was a sub-par rpg with really good graphics and a lot of buzz pre-release because the original never made it over here. People there is a reason the first one didn't make it over here..it sucked!

Jaleewa

ANDREW
Amen to that. I never understand why people cling to games that don't get localized so avidly, because a lot of the time they didn't deserve to get localized. Granted, there are certain series such as the Sakura Taisen games that would appeal to a very specific portion of the RPG community, but games with limited appeal like that also miss the boat because they just wouldn't make enough money. It's just too bad that mediocrity like SO2 and Legend of Dragoon do end up infesting the EBs and Gamestops of North America just because their parents can afford pricey international travel.

And now, to sit back and wait for the import community to tear my head off. Yes, it's lonely in my insular world, but somebody has to have never been further than 500 miles from home, so it might as well be me.


Another person after my own heart


He-lo.

Havn't written in a long time, and havn't had time to read the column much, but I have a question and a comment. Should I get into the Suikoden series? Someone in my college dorm is obsessed with them and is pulling me in, but I will only play a series like that from the first game through the rest. After price-searching on E-Bay, is the series worth getting in to? I mean, I have enough going on, but if the series is really good, I'll get into it. Other wise I'll just stick to only buying things that have some sort of square on them, if you catch my drift.

ANDREW
Tsk. Such Squarecentricity has no place existing after 1998 or so, although admittedly about 70% or so of the RPGs I own are by that particular company. I do happen to own all three Suikodens, and I've finished the second and am halfway through the first. From experience and hearsay, I can tell you the series as a whole is well worth getting into, and while the first game can't hold a candle to the second one, the second one is in my top 5 RPGs of all time, depending upon when you ask me. Also, you can really annoy your roommates by reading off how much Potch you get after each battle. Trust me on this one, it rules until they punch you.

Second, I bought Warcraft III last weekend, and I was shocked at the Video Graphics. I mean... square actually has a rival. For being a square fan for so long, I don't want to admit that Blizzard can do better graphics. So right now I'm in between Deep Dive (the KH2 trailer thing at the end of the KH:Final Remix version) and Warcraft III for the best graphics out. Your opinions?

-CaptainG

ANDREW
Well, I'd have to say that FMV-wise they're pretty close, and I'm hard-pressed to choose one over the other. As for in-game graphics, I'll give the nod to Square for the time being, although Blizzard has certainly demonstrated itself to be more than competent in the 3D department, which is all the more impressive since they've only made a single game in that style thus far. I doubt they'll bother texturing Neo's suit because it doesn't matter at this point. Quentin Tarantino put the Wachowski brothers to shame in the giant-fight scene department in both coolness, swordplay, and seamless integration of graphics and motion, so they've already lost. Still, that fight looks awfully rainy, so you never know what they might pull off.

PS: I wonder if the Matrix Revolutions will actually texture Neo's suit when CG... Or how about hireing Square to do that.
PPS: Enix has not earned any reason to be mentioned in the merger yet... they have not done anything significant (besides screwing up FFTA... the programing has thier - feel... no offense to Enix fans)

ANDREW
I also kind of have to agree here - there's an unmistakable Enix taint to FFTA's interface, which had damned well better not leak into FF12. I have never liked Enix's interface style, and probably never will, since the company seems pretty set in its ways - just like me! Yes, I'm a crotchety old bastard just waiting to happen, which is why the kids at "Objective Ministries" had better watch out for me once I put on my grumpy atheist suit. Well, I'm not, strictly speaking, an atheist, but I imagine I will look rather like that goat hobo there in about forty years, so I can still scare off the wacky Baptist kids who are convinced that a blurry shot of a tree stump is actually Jurassic Park writ real. Actually, they wouldn't believe that either, because according to Professor Giraffenstein, "Secular movies lie! T-Rex was a herbivore, its sharp teeth were used to shred plants!", but who cares? I'd still be hella scary.

Nevertheless, where are my fangs, Giraffenstein? WHERE ARE MY FANGS?

I'm sorry... You really shouldn't let me get sidetracked like that. We'll never finish up here otherwise. Incidentally, I'm not bashing religion here, just fun stuff like the collected "wisdom" of Professor Giraffenstein.


NO HALLOWEEN, BITCHES


Castomel,

Woow, Daniel is a bloody mo' fo' arse, eh? I mean, you're capable of everything, but you being Sega?? That's just plain hilarious. How in the bloody world could he think that RPGamer is Sega?? Or that you, although the future ruler, are even capable of making Shenmue! Ya gotta admit tho, it's a pretty good way to lighten someone's day, ya know? I wonder if he'll email you back... You have my greatest sympathy... In other late-breaking news!! Next Friday is indeed Halloween, the greatest day of the year....in some regards.. I'll probably invite some of my only 6 friends over and watch horror movies the whole night... What about you, Andrew? What are you planning on doing? Anything that involves alcoholic consumption at the bars? In whatever you are planning, I wish you a night of chaos and fun times... Ok, I feel better that I wrote you an email. I can't think of any more....bah! I'll write more tomorrow.

Tomorrow seems the same as every other day,

O' Shrouded One

ANDREW
Not a bar, no, but I will end up at a house party of some description, either the one thrown by my cousin or the one at the co-op housing across the way. And shh, you. I'm not breaking out Halloween topics until next week, so don't you even think about jumping the gun ^_^ .


^^;; Where'd that come from >.<


Yeah. SO2 was great man. I really loved the part at the end where a whole planet decides to, y'know, die, even though they have a way out. OH WAIT...I hated that part. And every other part in the game!

Nevermind the fact that the game can be beaten in 20 hours with no problems by an 8 year old who never uses the item creation system (I'm not making this up, my little bro is the 8 year old in question). What pisses me off so much about this game is that the battles aren't action.

You press X, then watch your character run towards and enemy while trying his or her damnedest to situate him or herself directly in front of said enemy to better help the player get a game over. What the hell? I can press X in any RPG and have my character do it's own thing without any more input. In Star Ocean, I want the punk to swing his sword when I press X. Not auto-target some crap, not go chasing after some bird that he can't hit anyways. I want him to swing the damned sword! Is that too much to ask?

I hear however that SO3 fixes these things, which is good to know.

PS: I like Castlevania! SOTN hooray!
PPS: Yes, I ruined the ending of SO2 in the first paragraph. Suck it up! :D

-Trent

ANDREW
You're just lucky I didn't care about that ending, or any of the 87 other possibilities. Otherwise I would have hunted you down and unleashed a plague of scorpions upon your house, like in Fear Factor except deadly. And yes, I made it happily through the first ten hours of the game blithely plugging points into that system without bothering to touch it beyond that. Then I made the mistake of twiddling with it, and here I am, three years later and three years infinitely more bitter.


Shades of Duff Gardens


Hello,

So my little brother and I recently got back from a family vacation at Disneyland (mum got married, that was the occasion), and my little brother makes what is for him a very intelligent comment.

"I think there should be a Squareland."

Now, as fun as it would be to run about with the other rabid fangirls that would flock to this place, I have to point out the downsides. The costumes would be difficult at best, fearfully insanely impossible at worst. And then think of walking around in them - imagine walking around for three hours in black leather and a wig (Sephiroth) or wearing something very indecent (Kuja) or wearing a ridiculously huge padded bra (Tifa).

ANDREW
Padded? Whatchootalkinbout? Just think of the Hooters cross-marketing tie-ins!

And I might as well throw in a game question or two -
I just finished .hack//infection (I know I'm behind, leave me alone), and my final time was something of 17:30 hours. I know there are other games and that I was only Level 31, but is that really it?

Also, in Xenosaga I, can you give me an alternate strategy for fighting Rianon Se? I've tried the ones in the walkthroughs in the Xenosaga section and my characters are all at acceptable levels, but I can't manage to beat it.

Sephira Netzach

"You know, we're all really intelligent little people." "What color is the sky?" "Green!"

ANDREW
17:30 isn't all that bad for an RPG, especially a four-part RPG, so if it says you beat it, you beat it (I refuse to touch the series on the principle that I don't pay four times for one complete game.) I wish I could help you with the Xenosaga thing, but, I haven't quite made it that far yet, so I'm afraid you might just have to trust in the wisdom of FAQs, unless Professor Giraffenstein suddenly decides to branch out from his diluvian roots.


Movies: because I saw them


Hello,

I am an avid reader of your column and thoroughly enjoy it every day after work. This is sort of off the RPGamer topic of role-playing games but I was really impressed that you mentioned Lost in Translation, because it seems to be sort of a sleeper hit. I recently saw that movie (and also recently spent nearly a month in Tokyo) and I could say that it is the most accurate portrayal of Tokyo in a movie that I have ever seen in an American film. I could really relate to Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson throughout the film, and some of the scenes were actual moments that I had in Tokyo. I am able to speak "skoshi" Japanese... hehe, but I was also with a completely non-speaking American friend. It was sure a blast. Well, anyway, cool that you mentioned that movie!

P.S. Scarlett Johansson sure is hot eh?

Jaa Mata,

Dan

ANDREW
Thanks for the kind words, and yes, those are two of the things I loved the most about the movie - first, that it seemed to be a fairly accurate portrayal of Tokyo, and second that the characters were very human and realistic and above all DID NOT MACK ON EACH OTHER REPEATEDLY, saving me the terror of seeing Bill Murray hop in the sack.

Of course, as Scarlett Johansson is, as you mentioned, a foxy lady, I guess I could have managed, but that's still a very frightening thought.


I wish I went to a party school...


Guten Tag Andrew,

Greetings from London, Ontario where I am attending the University of Western (yeah party school!). Well, because you mentioned Star Ocean 2, I felt that it was my duty as an RPG fan to write in. Star Ocean 2 was my first foray into the Star Ocean universe, and then I went back and played the original (good times) and Blue Sphere (bad times). I originally bought it because it was cheap ($24.99 CDN), it had a delightful magazine ad and I was determined to own every RPG for the Playstation (God, I hate Legend of Dragoon).

ANDREW
Amen.

From the beginning, Star Ocean 2 captivated my attention. In hindsight, I’m 100% sure it was because of the amazing soundtrack provided by Motoi Sakuraba (“Field of Expel” owns you). Conversely, the voices were so terrible that they rivalled (and sometimes even surpassed) Capcom’s “best” efforts. I can still remember to this day hearing Claude yell “tear into pieces” more than “Tetsuo and Kaneda!” were yelled during the entire length of Akira. The graphics were nicely done, providing enough old-school sprites and new-fangled CG backgrounds that created a delightful twist of nostalgia (I’m a SNES RPGamer at heart). Of course, the story was pretty far from original, but then again, how many twists can be put on saving the world? However, it was a nice throwback to FF3/6 to have two separate worlds. I was a fan of the battle system, even though it was consecutive and unrelenting button mashing until my fingers bled. That type of battle system isn’t used often, so it’s a nice change of pace once in a while (ala “Tales of…” series). Any RPG that offers a secret dungeon gets a thumbs up in my book. The Cave of Trials offered a nice diversion and the chance to get your ass handed to you.

However, the biggest draw of SO2 was probably the skill system and the item system. Never before could I create “forged medals” for instant levels or actually buy an inn with a specially made “contract”. The sheer amount of possibilities was stupefying. Also, there were so many useless skills and items that it truly boggled the mind. I spend hours battling and raising levels only to waste points on crap like “authoring”, “radar” and “survival” among others. However, “Come on Bunny” is still the most insane use of a skill ever in an RPG. Then again, “sleeper” skills like “orchestra” can improve item development so I could clone a “forged medal” for hours on end. SO2 truly stands with FFT as a game for those who like to customize (minus the strategy of course).

In hindsight, while playing SO2, I wanted to “bear its children”, but now, I just like it (still a lot more than many RPGs). If there has to be one good thing to be said about SO2, it is that it introduced North American players to Tri-Ace, who went on to develop the absolutely AMAZING Valkyrie Profile. Star Ocean 3 can get me salivating, but a VP2 would make me kill my roommate in hedonistic glee. And of course, VP has Motoi Sakuraba (buy his albums kids, they won’t disappoint!).

So yeah, overall, I really liked SO2, for its good things (music, skill system, battle system) and its faults (voices, battle system [again], character development, too easy). I will buy SO3 because I’m a fan of the series (and the PS2 really needs a new good RPG besides Disgaea) and I will pray every day in hopes for a new Valkyrie Profile (one can only hope). For now though, I’m going to continue my 1000th run through FF3/6 on the SNES and finally beat Bison with Ken (on the hardest difficulty) in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Hadoken!!!

- Mike -

"Don't play God. He always wins."

ANDREW
Well, you make some good points, but the extraneous (to say nothing of redundant, in many cases) nature of the item creation system really turns me against SO2 in the end. The battle system is fairly decent, but it's flawed. Like I said, I don't hate it to the end of time, but neither do I think it rates anything above strictly average.

Also, make your football team stop beating ours so horribly... multiple seventy point losses are beyond embarassing.


All that glitters is not gold, my friend


Greetings Andrew,

Ah, Star Ocean 2. I never could understand the hate that some people have towards this game. For some reason it is the one game that time and time again I find myself picking up and playing. Whenever there is a break between new RPGs to play, I fire up the Second Story and am once again enthralled. Perhaps it is the uber-fun fight engine, or perhaps it is the many, many ways to play through that grab me. Or perhaps it is the huge amount of secrets you can un-earth through mastery of the game or the incredibly challenging, yet rewarding secret dungeon near the end of the game. In any case, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and my opinion just happens to have a great deal of lovin towards the Star Ocean franchise, bring on the third!

Anyway, questions, questions. Ah, I know. I have recently begun going through my HUGE unfinished pile of portable RPGs (thanks to the spiffy Gameboy Player), and my first stop is Golden Sun. My question is whether you think I should continue through Golden Sun and then straight into the Lost Age, or if I should finally go back and finish up Lufia: The Ruins of Lore ? I know Lufia is probably going to be quite mediocre, but who knows, perhaps someone else has a different opinion?

Well, back to work I go, have a good one.

Lee Babin
BabinPlanet.ca
Great Canadian RPG Reviewer

ANDREW
I detest Golden Sun, although one playthrough isn't bad. The thing I don't understand about that game is why everyone hates Beyond the Beyond and yet lavishes praise upon Golden Sun - which is exactly the same game! Trust me, if you're looking to avoid utter mediocrity, stick with Lufia - you'll thank me when you aren't smashing your head against a brick wall after doing the same boring-ass puzzle for the fiftieth time in succession.

NOW the Castlevaniaphiles pop out of the woodwork...


I finally got my Prierre up to level 5200 so I could smash the Uber Prinny. Stupid prinnies. Now that I have acoomplished almost everything in Disgaea, I can move onto Lament of Innocence. I loved Symphony of the Night a whole lot, probably played through it 10+ times. But I actually think I liked Harmony of Dissonece more. With that being said, I believe it is a crime to release my beloved franchise into the realm of 3d. I am now going through Megaman X7, and to say the least, 3d Megaman is MOST annoying. I just pray Konami got it right. Obviously it is too much to ask for beautifully rendered 3d graphics in a side scrolling game. I gotta wait until Friday to buy it, and in the meantime I am getting pumped for Final Fantasy XI. I wanna be a white mage/ninja!!! Your rez in 30 minutes or less, or we commit sepuku!!! (I'm not kidding. There is a ninja skill where you can blow yourself up) You thinking of playing FF11?

-Chris

ANDREW
Sweet Enola Gay, son - tell me you didn't just say you liked Harmony of Dissonance better than Symphony of the Night. I- I- I'm speechless. HoD is a carbon copy of SotN with all the soul leeched out and dribbled into a slightly less ugly interface. The gameplay is infinitely less entertaining and the difficulty is nonexistent, since killing any enemy is a simple matter of sitting there mindlessly swinging your whip (whereas SotN actually offered some variety and some useful secondary weapons.) Still, as I must always remind myself at the end of these diatribes, it is not my place to sway your opinion, so please, go on enjoying your crappy half-done ports.


From left field


Hi,

Man, I can share my sentiments with you on Star Ocean 2, Andrew. I've been having gripes on the battle system everytime I got back to playing it. While I haven't been playing it all that much even when when I sat down to play, it's been hard to get used to. Other than that, I still enjoy playing the game, oddly enough. It's got an interesting theme as well. Kind of reminds me of Phantasy Star III/IV, with the planetary travelling.

While I'm sitting here writing this - what do you think of Baten Kaitos? I've been looking at images, and as far as the graphics are concerned, they look amazing. From the character art, to the locations you venture off to. The only thing that bugs me about the game is the card battling, sounds too Yu-Gi-Ohish to me. Hopefully I'm wrong and Monolith Soft will have another hit amongst them.

Mr. ALXNDR

ANDREW
Baiten Kaitos makes me very happy, save for the hideous character art, which distresses me enormously. Nevertheless, I am pleased to own a GameCube that I may play this tasty-looking bit of RPG, and I can learn to ignore ugly character art (I pretty much have to if I plan to struggle through a complete playthrough of Unlimited Saga, although I have to say, it's addictive in a Spartan sort of way.) although I do wish Google, the master of suspense, would let me know if it's the same guy who did CC's character art, which some random person claimed it was. Yes, I could go check myself, but I think we both know that I'm way too lazy to actually get off my... EditPad and tab over to an IE window.


Unfit for Print


Any new information? Rumors concerning new information? Declarations by Square, about something completely unrelated to FFIII, but that could be misconstrued as either new information or rumors of new information? Or, any incoherent ramblings of anyone claiming to be affiliated with some clandestine organization, that may be witness to whisperings, perhaps uttered under duress, of others who profess to have privileged information, rumors concerning privileged information, or privileged information based on rumors, pertaining the release of FFIII?

Thanks,
-cary

ANDREW
No, no, no, no, no, and no. If we had any of that information rest assured, it'd be on index by now. Trust me, we don't withhold stuff because that doesn't make sense - yeah, we'd feel cool and all, but then we'd go under. As such, the second anything happens with FF3 you'll find out. By the by, if you're wondering why this letter has earned this title it's because I hope not to see any similar emails. We disseminate information, not hoard it.


YOU 'DREW
QUICKIE I
NOTHING
will make Bush look competent. Don't even try.

-neclordsword

Sure thing, giant beer.
QUICKIE II
Geeze Star Ocean 2
is so last year. I've been playing Star Ocean 3 for months now... :D

~rudyxx

That's because you're adopted and nobody loves you.


DA LAST GRUMBLE

I see Star Ocean 2 actually did pretty well, which leads me to my very next topic: FFXI. How many of you guys are planning on signing on? Why? if not, why not? Anybody in the "crime against RPGdom" camp? Are you sleeping with your husband's ex-wife? You could be a guest on our show!

Yes, I've used that joke before, but there's only so many terrible shows you can make fun of before one comes up twice, so I'd say I made it pretty far without recycling, which will probably get me C4'd by Greenpeace. Speaking of no-good hippies, Alloy is stopping by for his swansong tomorrow, so be sure to send in questions for him, too.

At any rate, my stupid workplace doesn't give delivery time calls, so I have to wake up in five hours so I can sit at my mom's house while she gets a haircut. Oh, well... At least I'll have Disgaea and FFT to console me.

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long's mother has an iguana pen in her basement that smells vaguely like lizard. Spooky!

I'LL PROVIDE THE ANSWERS, YOU PROVIDE THE

QUESTIONS


Actually, it smells more like lizard doody, but this column is rated PG hyuk hyuk hyuk COUGH RETCH HACK yeehhhhh that's good throat rot




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