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The Grand Tour de Force

Andrew Long - October 22nd, 2004 - 21:09 EDT

GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE. I must confess, I, we are all prepared to die, by which I mean I, we got horribly drunk last night and failed to produce a readable column, or indeed any column whatsover. I will, however, still produce three columns this weekend, for a belt of gin should not come between me and the sound of my own voice, which I must confess I love.

Anyhow, today I took Paul around town, and by the way, Paul is here. We saw all the sights, including a cloud-obscured Toronto from the heights of the CN Tower, aka Toronto's answer to penis envy, but alas, it was cloudy. It's okay, though - the script called for rain, because how else can you have a fun time showing someone around Toronto and its many gift shops? Not in blazing 6 degree sunlight, that's for damned sure!

Paul Koehler

Of course, my opinions of Toronto would be a little less if the climate was drastically different than mine, but considering 6 degrees (make that almost 43 degrees) is normal for this time of year in Milwaukee, I can't complain. This is Paul "Amish" Koehler, and I've been up in the great land known as Canadia for the past two days now, on the account of a job interview. As a naive American, I made the fatal tactical mistake of assuming the theory Canada == America when flying into Lester Peason airport. Nevertheless, I was quickly proven wrong.

It's been fun though. I'm afraid Andrew's aforementioned description of the CN Tower is all too appropriate, although he was the one who came up with the "penis envy" comment, not I. Everything else has been great, it almost makes me wish that I went to a university with almost 60,000 students. Almost.

Anyways, on with the questions. We'll stay coherent long enough to respond to them all, eh? ;)


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The kupomogli LJ

Mommy, Where Do Chocobos Come From?

Here's a surprise:
I feel like death!

"Wrong answer buddy" != good way to get letter opened / answered


That isn't Citan talking to chaos. It's Jin Uzuki, Shion's brother. This, unless there is some brand new trailer I've missed. (which is unlikely)

I would stab our typewriter monkeys for this one but a) I'm not sure whether or not you're correct, since you're not even sure whether or not you're correct, and b) your email title makes me want to stick sharp things in you and twist.

Update: another reader has checked all the trailers, and in fact there is no such scene. YOU WIN THIS TIME, GADGET!

For a real question, why not just drop the review numbers entirely? As far as I know, they're just arbitrary, and don't factor in any technical database sorting scheme... so why not let the reviews stand on the merits and opinions of the writer and nothing more?

Just a simple question.
Reyn Xero
Third advent of the glorious 'Mother of Destruction'
Proud Linux baka

A simple answer: people don't like to read. I'm not quite sure when this trend began, but I've noticed it worsening over the past few years, and I don't see it improving anytime soon, though at least once everyone is dumb as a rock, it won't be as difficult not to leave them behind. At any rate, some people like the elegant simplicity of 1/5, and don't have time to find out how many exciting adjectives you or I can tack on to "bad" or "good". Also, while our archives don't sort by score, you will notice that the database does provide average scores for both games and reviewers, which means there is some use to them after all - a 5/5 from someone whose average score is 4, for instance, is going to be a little less meaningful than someone whose average is closer to the 3/5 "average".

Ever take a look at the general range of scores for reviews when it comes to games? Barring the occasional piles that even the print mags will heap scorn on, you're looking at a range that generally goes from 5-10, 50%-100%, or the like. That was the general reasoning behind our switch from a 10 point system to a 5 point system. The overwhelming majority of games we had readers (and staff, for that matter) review ended up with scores of 7 or higher. So, in an effort to stir up the system a little bit and answer that concern, that's why we switched to the 5 point system.

Yes... About that...

Hey Andrew!

I think I recall you saying you were looking forward to the latest installment of the Star Ocean series a while back... and hope you've gotten it, cause I've got a question I can't seem to find the answer to.

Aside from the first one (used to recruit an inventor), what the heck are the books of prophecy for?

That's all.

Yeah... The thing about that is, I kind of left Star Ocean 3 in my car, which does not exist. On the upside, Paul is here, stealing my precious Expos hat, playing my precious GBA, and sitting on my precious wet laundry, which has been defeated by the poor-quality dryer in this building. CURSE YOU, SPIN KING!

From what I understand, those books are used to give hints to certain secrets in the Ursa Cave Temple, an extension of that hellish dungeon that you trekked through to get to Crosell. As to what those specifics are, I couldn't tell you, as my game is currently at about 60 hours. It's not like getting rid of them will make any difference though...might as well keep them for now.

Fabulous SMT match game

hello question answerers- yes it gets old but i have another one of those "hows this thing related to that thing" sorta questions. at least i havent seen this particular one asked a million times. anyways, smt: nocturne, dds: avatar, personas 1&2, and so exactly do all these games relate to one another? thanks for being my friend *sob* i love you *cries*, *ahem* i mean, thanks for answering my wonderful letter that i spent hours perfecting.just for :D

The games you have mentioned are related in that they are all part of the same series, whether tangentially as in the case of the Personas or directly as in anything with an SMT tacked on the front (or a DDS, for that matter.) I'm not sure why they opt to name them so confusingly here, but I do believe it's a little easier to chart the course of the series in Japan, although bear in mind I once believed that there was a Mario 38 for the NES in which you chased Koopa Troopas around a classroom with a yardstick.

Many of the SMT games had never come out in North America before because of the plot subject matter. Something about good not always triumphing over evil, or along those lines. Seriously though, if Nocturne sells well enough, it might convince Atlus or another outfit to slowly bring the rest of the series here, and by extension rename it as such were the game's names are more or less in line with their Japanese counterparts. It's happened with Final Fantasy, and it just recently happened with Dragon Quest. So, it could happen here.

Mmm... I smell Babelfish

Hi! Hi!

I'm a longtime reader, first time poster. I purchased Tales of Symphonia back when it came out and enjoyed it very much. Two earlier games in the franchise are available on the PS1, but I've heard that the USA versions have part of the games cut out. I know that the "chat" portions are cut; I wanted to know if anything else was excised.

Thanks, Ojamajo LimePie

I'm not too sure where you heard that, because the Tales series isn't particularly notorious for suffering any censorship. Certainly, if back in the SNES days the characters were a little too sexily pixellated, it's possible they received some extra raiment, but beyond that I can't recall any specific examples of this sort of thing taking place.

Isometric Quandary Notation


I remember playing Baldur's Gate when I got my ps2, and I thought it was pretty cool, though I was extremely dissapointed with how short it was. Then, I played Champions of Norrath, then Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. I still think the games look nice... in way, but then again I hate the limited isometric view. It seems as though you can never really see what's going on. Also, the way the engine produces cut scenes is so choppy, and there doesn't seem to be any artistic directing going on, and if there is, the choppiness renders it useless.

So, two questions: am I alone on this, or do you feel the same way? and do you think the Bard's Tale will have the same shortcomings, most importantly in the way cutscenes and story progression are handled?

I haven't really played BG, but I have played Diablo, which is pretty much cut from the same bolt of cloth, so I have a fair idea of what you're talking about. To cases, then: you're alone. The isometric view can be a bit of a pain if your character is surrounded by monsters or behind something, but most games take care of this problem through varying degrees of transparency, so unless BG sees you spending significant time crawling around behind opaque walls, I can't see this being a huge issue. Paul?

I can't speak for Champions of Norrath, although I can speak about Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance to some extent. The game is also limited in the fact that it's running on the PS2, which has hardware specs that can nowhere match up to any PC, even the ones that had the recommended specs to run both Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 on the PC. That's not a knock on the PS2 by any means, but it's a realistic issue with consoles in general. I know a lot of people took issue with my review on BGDA, but the source of my criticism on that title was the disparity between the two platform. Some sacrifices had to be made, and what you mention is one of those sacrifices.

FFA? Eeyu- oh, THAT FFA

Hey Andrew,

First off I just want to say I read the column just about everyday.

I hear that... I write it almost every day on the weekends!
Alright, I'm writing in to ask if you have ever played Final Fantasy the Adventure for the Gameboy (original). I remember playing this game a long, long time ago and I recently downloaded the rom. I beat it, took me 8 hours, and loved it. I was really young when I got FFA for Christmas. It came with a map of the world, which I thought was pretty neat, I mean this is a late 80's or early 90's game, on the original Gameboy! Anyways I just wanted to know if you have heard of it and to spread the word about it.

I just want to describe a little about FFA. Its just like an RPG, u get level ups which u use to upgrade your power, attack, magic, or stamina. upgrading 1 with upgrade it with 2 points and two others with 1 point and 1 with zero points. So there is some strategy in leveling up. Also, u get NPC's to help you out in your adventure. Theres Chocobos too!

Later, JayB

FFA, aka the first game in the Seiken Densetsu series, has never been a game I've owned, although by fantastic coincidence I almost bought it today, ultimately being scared off by the ridiculous $25 price tag. I have, however, played it, since it was owned by this greasy fat guy in my Grade 7 class who swore by EGM and GamePro, or at least I liked to think he did. Actually, my 7th grade class had been together for quite some time at that point, and so our cliques were at an advanced stage. Basically, this kid took all the crap we served out, which culminated in a deadly butterknife attack that landed him in hospital for several weeks with an alleged "damaged trachea". I think that was largely just an excuse to miss school, but hey, I wouldn't want to hang around a place where homicidal butterknife maniacs are trying to hunt me down, so I can't really blame him for bailing.

Anyway, the moral of the story is I feel bad about how we used to mistreat him horribly, but he hasn't hunted us down and killed us yet, so I guess he got past it. Oh, and FFA was a good way to kill a lunch hour, but I don't remember much beyond that.

Like Andrew, I've never owned Final Fantasy Adventure, although I've played through the game to a certain extent through friends. It's also famous for being the very first of the Seiken Densetsu series (otherwise known in NA as Secret/Legend of Mana). The game itself still fetches a high price even as a used title, as evidenced by Andrew's aforementioned example. Due to the popularity of that game and the resulting series, FFA was also remade last year for the Game Boy Advance as Sword of Mana, which at the core is a remake of the original Seiken Densetsu, or, as we know it, Final Fantasy Adventure. That game I have played through, and it's a great remake to boot. Thanks for reminding us of a venerable classic!

Boingy, boingy!

Hey Google,

I decided to play through Disgaea a second time using more Prinnies than I had in the past (which was 0). I was just wondering if the advanced forms of prinnies (captain, general, what have you) were unlockable on a by level basis as seen in human classes, or only by killing the advanced prinnies in Prinny Land?


Heh, it'd be nice to level up the Prinnies and unlock their various classes, but it turns out going through the Prinny Land and killing the more advanced forms is the only way of having them as an available class. If you're looking to have the Uber Prinny available, however, that won't the Uber Prinny is classified as a boss. I sure hope that's the case, with him being a Level 6000 monster o.O


I cannot seem to find the RPGuides section of the website. It is neither on the left sidebar nor the right sidebar. Also, no Information Curator is listed in either the Staff or Job Openings pages. I remember a news post a few weeks ago called something like "Alas, I hardly knew ye," but site news isn't listed in the news archive. My attempts to search in the forums were for naught, because I get 0 results no matter what. I search topic titles and posts from this year and newer in all open forums for the keyword "FFXI", and I get 0 results. That seems a bit off, but I digress. My Robotnik-genius 300 IQ has led me to brilliantly deduce that the RPGuides section probably no longer is being updated.

So, erm, if I want to update my Music Hacking Guide for FF11, where do I send it? I don't like sites having outdated versions of my guide, because I get emails asking questions already in the guide. Should I strategically reword it into a story of a seductive catgirl explaining the technical processes of music hacking to an elf who wants to listen to 70's love songs whenever the catgirl's around, and send it to the fanfics section?


Well... there's no easy way to put this. See, when Guides sections get to a certain age, their eyesight fails and their hips degenerate, and, well, the kindest thing to do is to take them out behind the barn and shoot them. So I took the Guides section out behind the barn and shot it, in brief. If you know the filename of the latest update, you can still find it on server, but it is currently flitting about the stars with Old Paint.

Actually, it's just been mothballed until we can revamp it, but we aren't currently officially accepting guides. If you would like to submit one, send it to ASV ( As a final note, never ever ever use our useless search feature. It will be fixed eventually, but for the time being it's more useless than a wheel on a pegleg.

Does anyone else think that Kerry or Bush
would COMPLETELY win this extremely close election if they threw out a "I love Final Fantasy VII" or "Man Halo rocks" or two?

DAMN, I should be a political advisor.
- Feep "Politics suck"

I think you have your presidential candidates confused with people who have a reasonable outlook on video games. The only time a politician will ever offer an opinion on games is when they're introducing new legislature to somehow restrict them, or rolling out a new army game to make a draft seem more chocotastic.

I didn't know you switched to a 1-5 point scale! Wow, suddenly everything makes a lot more sense. Thanks!

I'll make a mental note and forward your quickie to a couple of staffers who have been overextending themselves to try and defend the system. Thanks for the compliment.


Hmm... Here I am, utilizing the magic of science to tack a REAL outro onto this column. Yes, I have retreated to suburban Ontario, leaving Paul in apparent dazed glory in my apartment with tuinte. He's heading home tomorrow, but I, I will remain to answer your many questions, comment on your many comments, might I even go so far as to... mention your unmentionables? No, in the spirit of the amazing comeback of the Boston Red Sox, I propose the following topic to you: pick a series of games, or else separate titles released by the same company, and explain why you think it rates the mightiest comeback ever made. To get the ball rolling, I personally think that managing the goodness of FFX after FFVIII and FFIX was a truly amazing bit of work by S-E, but then again, I am apparently in the minority with my devilish apathy towards IX. Hmm? HMM?
Andrew Longused to have a cohost, but now only a cat to keep him company.



Oh Paaaaaul... If you save over this, I shall return to Toronto and attack you... with a butterknife! MUAH!

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