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Less is More?

Andrew Long - October 24th, 2004 - 19:43 EDT

SO ANYWAY, I hate the place where I work sometimes, and one of those sometimes is this weekend. For starters, I had to stay horribly late both nights that I've worked so far, and for another, it's been horrifically busy the whole way through. Perhaps the crowning moment of horror, however, came when my final customer turned out to be some sort of gravy beast, a glutinous blob of slow-firing neurons and slushy innards who looked slightly bewildered to find herself in a furniture store.

Yes, not only was she labouring to breathe and putting holes in her shirt just standing there (I kid you not), she was also as dumb as a sack of mud and almost as pleasant to smell! It took me two minutes or so to impress upon her that yes, she did in fact need to come and key in her debit card purchase, and another ten or so explaining why exactly 85% of a grand total amounted to significantly more than the 15% portion.

At any rate, I hereby declare today the honourary Madame Beefsauce day, and pray that Leon's will somehow fall into the nearby swamp like its Hamiltonian counterpart in time for me to miss work tomorrow. Scant chance, to be sure, but one can always hope - unless, of course, one habitually experiences a fifteen second buffer between thought and action, like certain beefsaucy individuals I might mention, in which case it's probably better to give up now.

You may well now imagine what kind of a mood I'm in, and it has only been worsened by the fact that only two of you decided to send letters today. Looks like it's leftover casserole again!


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Mommy, Where Do Chocobos Come From?

...Sugar pie, Captain?
What the hell does THAT mean?

The Dissenting Opinion

While browsing through a recent Q and A column, I read a letter from someone that mentioned that Shadow Hearts was hard to find, and highly coveted. I am shocked. First off, I found it in the bargain bin at EB Games for $9.99 about a week or two ago. Furthermore, I bought and played through this game a short time before the sequel was announced, and I found it to be one of the worst RPGs I've ever played. The characters did nothing but annoy me, the storyline seemed forced at best, and many bosses were rediculously over-powered unless you went our of your way to level up in every new dungeon. By the way, if you caught on to that late, good luck levelling, as most monsters can easily kill you before you have one spin at the cursed judgement wheel.

That is my next point. The wheel, while original and kinda cool, was very overused. I found myself asking why I needed to spin in order to succesfully pick up a bowl or turn a wheel. I will admit that the game brought a lot of interesting things to the table, but it had too many flaws to be worth it in my opinion. I only hope that the sequel takes care of some of these issues, and stops shoving the judgement wheel down our throats.

Hey bro, stop harshing on the judgment wheel! Sure, it may seem a little cumbersome, but at least it's evidence that somebody, somewhere is trying to inject some innovation into a genre that desperately needs it. If quirky humour and challenge aren't your thing, head on over to your local game shop and pick up a Final Fantasy title. Not only are they ridiculously unfunny, they're about on par with tic-tac-toe in the difficulty department.

Actually, I take that back. Don't go play a Final Fantasy game. FF's, while entertaining, are exactly what has created this generation of gamers that cries rivers of tears every time they're forced to repeat a battle. Like it or not, you're supposed to die once in awhile in some games, and it used to be that that was part of the fun. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with some swingin' FMV and Life3 and a save point every couple of steps once in a while, but it will hardly do to dump on every game that deviates from that pattern.

As for your much-hated wheel, incidentally, its role is somewhat reduced in II. As such, I recommend you buy it.

Grab Bag


Who is this Gadget person? Personally, I think of the genius mouse with the goggles from that old Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers cartoon every time you say that name. Yes, I know it's lame to remember that. Shut up.

First you tell me answer, now you tell me shut up.. You're sending mixed signals, Tommy, mixed signals! And yeah, it is kind of lame to remember that, since Inspector Gadget was clearly superior to that ugly mouse.

Anyways, I remember you mentioning that your codename or whatever, 'Castomel' came from playing D&D. Do you still play?

Not as such no, although sometimes, when skies are cloudy and the wind is at my back, I dream I am once again in another world of beasts, fighting my w- NO!

Did you ever play in the Forgotten Realms setting?

Nope, mostly just Dragonlance or Robotrek.

How do you feel about the more recent D&D games, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone in particular?

I have this feeling that this letter will be horribly formatted and be a big mess for you to deal with. Hah. Serves you right for mocking my love of Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers. Take that, sucka.

Tommy T.

It's almost as if he knew I was going to do it... Anyhow, my dear Tommy, I once again have never encountered this Forgotten Realms game you speak of, nor have I deigned to play many of the other AD&D games that have profusioned out from the Albertan maw of Bioware of late (well, unless you kount KotOR, and since it's somehow kompelling me to kkkkurse those kkkkkursed SeeD, I think we'd better get off that train of thought before it's too late and I have to kkompress time to shut myself up.) Perhaps other readers will speak up... Perhaps I'll even make it a topic!

Tales of FinalPhantasia? NEVAR

Dear Andrew;

"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?"

You make an interesting point with FFX; in my opinion FFIX doesn't suck as much as you say it does (the cutscene where Alexander beats the crap out of Bahamut before getting torched was my favourite part there, but I digress...) - however I do harbour some misgivings towards FFVIII, and overall, I agree with you. FFX was a solid piece of work. I can only hope FFXII will either match it or do it one better.

I know you like Tales of Symphonia quite a bit; as do I. What are your thoughts on the rest of the Tales series (Phantasia - if you don't use an emulator, I understand, - Destiny, Destiny II which is supposed to be Eternia, etc...)? And if you didn't like some of them, would you classify ToS in the same light as FFX?

I don't use an emulator? I mean, I don't use an emulator, that's right! And that's why I have yet to encounter much of the rest of the Tales series, cuz I sure can't afford to go out and buy it. And no, FFX was definitely a superior game to ToS, although I can certainly see how you might class them as similar, since ToS kind of stole chunks of FFX's plot piecemeal.

Yeah, stupid time

Ola senior Andrew,

I made the mistake of thinking daylight savings time started yesterday, so I stayed up late watching Read or Die, thinking that I'd get as much sleep as I normally do. Therefore, I wish DL savings time started October 23 too. All they have next week when it actually begins is the animatrix. Ack.

Anywhoo, I find that my favorite part of RPG's is the well developed story lines (sure, they have their cliches, but what genre doesn't?). What are some of the best story lines you've found in games?

Oh, and by the way, good job chewing out people who want to become famous by copying the story lines of games. These people need to be chewed out to be brought back down to earth. In fact, good job for chewing people out in general.

Yours truly, a nutcase

Now, now. I try to chew out only those who deserve it, cuz indiscriminate growliness is a little too gimmicky for a column that's already groaning with gimmicks. Good stories certainly are a key element in good games, though, and if I had to choose, I'd say Chrono Trigger was a story that rubbed me the right way, and FFT, though mercilessly difficult to understand thanks to the noisy suffering of those stupid tortured thieves, was a pretty good read too. BoF V, while a tad cliche, also struck some good notes, particularly with the character development and the way in which the interplay between the characters changes as Ryu becomes progressively mightier with subsequent playthroughs.

I think I'll... cheat!

When will the new staff editorialists be announced?

I figure I may as well answer this here, since the editorialist hiring process has been rather unconventional. It's also been rather unsuccessful thus far, so if you're interested in writing editorials for RPGamer, feel free to send us an app, cuz we're still looking. Basically, we've gone through about half of the apps we've received, and thus far, I haven't found anyone I'm comfortable with, so the opportunity is yours for the taking!


Ugh. Short and dirty, and not nearly enough love. I need more letters, so for next week, we will start things out by talking about Bioware. Specifically, I want to be convinced to buy NWN, and i want to hear questions relating to the company and its games, because while I haven't played any of them, I know several people who have, and I just might bring one of them along for the ride. At any rate, I beg you, keep yourself out of troubles that don't involve creamsicles!

Andrew Long is at a place called Vertigo!



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