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Is There Any Other St. Louis?

Andrew Long - October 29th, 2004 - 01:47 EDT

QNA@ SEEMS TO BE SUFFERING SOME strange problems whereby it magically eliminates all spam. On the downside, it also magically eliminates all letters, so today will be a delicious casserole of whatever Google left during the week before things went sour.

And speaking of sour, how about that crazy election? I sure am glad I'm in Canada!


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The kupomogli LJ

Mommy, Where Do Chocobos Come From?

Though I must say
Bush has done wonders
For the Canadian Dollar
Soon it will be I who laughs
At YOUR puny currency
On the downside
Toronto will cease to be
A phony New York or Chicago
In movies
Like Bulletproof Monk
Or Resident Evil

Gross generalizations, eh? Why not, I DID say it ^^


I have a couple of questions for you. It seems that a lot of people bring up Final Fantasy games in these Q & A's, and about which ones are considered better than others. What do you think are the general opinions of all of the Final Fantasy Series? What are your thoughts on them personally? Also, you remarked in a previous Q & A, that people who studied music no longer liked Final Fantasy music. Why do people who study music come to dislike the music done in Final Fantasy music?

Thanks for your time,

If I had to make a guess at general opinions, I'd say a fair number of people like I, a few scattered people like II to be different, a large number of old fogeys like FFIV, almost nobody likes FFV, nearly everyone loves FFVI and FFVII, and a fair number again like FFVIII and IX, as well as X. As for burning hatred, VIII and IX seem to attract the most attention, with some of the more popular games getting the occasional "ooh, look what I hate because I'm all different and edgy!" nod (and heck, I'm sure that a few people even have valid objections!).

As to that comment about people who study music disliking Uematsu, it just seems to be something I find in general with music students that I know. They tend to go on at length about how Uematsu is technically bland and melodic rather than some other word I forget but think approximates to "Sounds like Beethoven" or "Look, I paid $40000 for this degree and I have to get SOME mileage out of it!"

A little from column A, a little from column B

I'm not sure if this is a question or a rant-your-pants-off session but here it goes:

I recently aquired information that upon the release of Metal Gear Solid 3 (wait for it!), Electronics Boutique were going to include a demo disk of 6 of their up and coming games. One of these games was Suikoden 4 (ta-da!). Now being a huge fan of Suikoden and I do actually like MGS aswell I thought what a cracking idea. Now problem being is I live in the UK. I check the website for international shipping and low and behold they ship internationally! Well.... To every corner of the earth *EXCEPT* the UK? Now being a bit upset I send them an e-mail and ask if this is technical fault that the UK is not listed. Their reply?:

We do not ship to the UK for two reasons. First, we only sell the NTSC versions of games here at the website, and the UK plays the PAL versions of games. Second, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain banking, and billing information with accounts in the UK. If you have anymore questions regarding this or anything else, feel free to email us again.

Ok the second reason is a bit "meh" but the first reason? They ship to everywhere else in Europe and they all have PAL versions aswell? Well anyway if you know of anyone else doing this "demo disk" deal I would love to hear about it.

As far as I can determine from trolling a few message boards, it would appear that the demo disc is available from several sources, including GameSpot and Wal*Mart. I don't know that Wal*Mart has an online outlet (or indeed, if the British government has succumbed to its evil wiles and allowed it in your country yet), but you might consider checking with GameSpot.

Secondly to keep this letter off the borderline of insanity and more along the lines of RPG:

I must say I'm a little dissapointed with S-E recently (Am I in a que?) When they announced that they were doing a follow-up to FFVI I was quite excited. Now that turned out to be a film. Now we've got 3 other spin-offs? All I wanted was a remake of the original and I remember clearly S-E's answer was "To create a whole new engine and to remake the game would be very time consuming and very costly". So of course it would make sence to make *3* new games with *3* new engines. My point is remake, not reinvent!

Thank you for your time.


If I had to guess, I'd say "reinvent" scored higher on a marketing survey than did "remake", and you have to remember, S-E has never been much on putting bells and whistles into its remakes, so I figure the only redone version of FFVII you're ever going to see is a repackaged version on whatever console S-E ends up on in the next generation.

Yep, Google likes his letters short all right

Hello there,

I just wanted to speak some thoughts on the battle system and the role it plays in determining the overall quality of a game. I have always put the battle system over the story as the number one determinant of a games overall quality. And I am also one of the long time FF fans who is utterly disgusted at all these half-arsed attempts at final fantasy spin-offs. I mean I guess I knew it was coming after experiencing the horror that was FFX-2.

One thing I pray to read about everytime I see a new FF spin-off announced is the rebirth of the materia system. Oh how I've missed the wonderful hours spent coming up with the virtually limitless combinations of materia. Such innocent times they were. But the fact is I can only play through FF7 so many times before I want to run full force into a brick wall. Anyway the battle system makes the game...period. I mean if everything else is horrible except an immaculate battle system obviously that's not going to save a sinking ship but it definitely can make a gamer overlook some other flaws in a game.

I've always based this opinion on the fact that the core of RPGs is battling stuff. I mean that's what it's all about when it comes down to it, isn't it? I'm not saying I don't love a good plot but you're fighting battle after battle after battle, if the battle system is sup-par then isn't it logical that your experience with the game as a whole will be sub-par as well? Do you really think the story is the most important factor or is it just that no one wants to admit that it's all about how you kill things that makes a game worthwhile?

Hell no. I've always rated gameplay as my top consideration, and if you look at my reviews, you'll see by and large that games that are fun to play rate a lot higher than those that might have a really good story but a terrible battle system. By and large, my opinion of a battle system will shape my take on the story anyway, so no. Gameplay, gameplay, gameplay. After all, the thing we're doing here is playing games, and if I wanted a story so bad, I'd go read a book.

Also another question: thinking about getting a new RPG...what would you recommend at the present? I'm leaning towards Star Ocean: Till the End of Time but wanted another's opinion.


Avid supporter of the random encounter

Honestly, I think you'd be better off getting Shadow Hearts II. I haven't played very much of it yet, but it has a very good battle system that I can best describe as a mix between Legend of Dragoon minus the lousy spellcasting system (and before you jump on me, the battle system was the only thing that made it possible to play through LoD without turning feral and clawing people's eyes out) and FFX minus the subbing. SO3 is, I hear, a fairly enjoyable game too, but you might be pleasantly surprised if you shun the big S-E and try something different. I know I was.

Ooh, I'm so glad I get to answer this :D

First time writer...yeah, you know the deal. :) Every time I see anyone mention LoD, it's always negative. I happened to like the game, despite knowing that a lot of things are seriously messed up about it. Like the crappy rare voice acting and the fact that you can predict who gets a dragon soul based on what color clothes they're wearing. Anyway.

Hold your horses, missie. You're also forgetting the ass-awful story, music, world map, character development, and utter clichedness of everything. Believe me, when I hate a game, it's with good reason, and if there was ever 50 hours of my life that I wish I could have back, them's the ones.

My question is this: The basic idea of using magical items to transform from human to half-human half-dragon: Is this original to LoD or have other games used it as well? And if not, would this idea, grafted onto a whole new storyline and used in a less, I dunno, slap-in-the-face obviousness, make it a good game? I personally liked the idea of merging with a dragon soul and becoming a dragoon. Besides, it looks really cool with the whole armor and wings deal. :)

-Too many split personalities to figure out what my name is anymore person.

P.S...I play regular video games, yes, but I also play online text-based RPGs where it's flipped backwards...most people are girls playing their characters, whether those characters are girls or guys. doesn't bother anyone, so I don't see what the whole deal is. If a person plays that character well, it doesn't really matter. I'm female, and I happen to like playing male characters. Doesn't make me a lesbian.

The trouble with LoD is that nothing, and I do mean nothing, about it was original. Your half-human, half-dragon business is much more entertaining when BoF V does it, and while it's equally slap-in-the-face obvious when your dragony dude becomes a dragon, it's never a good idea to make him that way unless you absolutely have to. I highly recommend it, cuz it actually deals with what the mental process of such a transformation might be like, besides having an otherwise solid story and excellent gameplay.

Sooo many noveletters x.x

It seems to me that many people liked the sphere grid from FFX. Why is that? I've heard a couple reasons, like "the character being more unique", or something around those lines. But to me, it makes the characters less unique, in that you can have any character learn every ability, so you still can choose whoever you want to play as any role. At least it seemed that way to me, because getting a level to move on the grid was pretty easy, and fast, so by the end you can have any given character you like be in the role you want them to play as.

"the character being more unique" doesn't make sense. What DOES make sense is that it's very easy, if you're a traditional "my watery-kneed girlymage should be a watery-kneed girlymage," to let your character be a watery-kneed girlymage, but if you happen to subscribe to a less conservative point of view, then you can hook up your watery-kneed girlymage with some killer biceps to even things out.

Honestly, what makes characters unique are their personality/etc out of battle. In battle, it's all just mathematics. In FFT, the main characters could change roles in battle by changing jobs, but their uniqueness was still in how the story made them out to be.

Yes... but in battle, it is nice to have a reason to use more than just a few characters, and FFX pretty much forces you to, another reason I like it so much (I'm one of those "must max every character out" kind of guys).

Or, is it because you can customize your character after you get so far on the grid? In DW7, you could customize your characters the same way, just by changing jobs rather than choosing the stat and/or skill directly.

Hayroot strawfoot, now you've got it. Also, difference being DW7 was terribly paced and ridiculously long, to say nothing of not very much fun to play.

The only thing I can think of, is it's a cooler looking way to level your character.

Next, somebody said this.
"Yeah, I wasn't a fan of Tidus's prepubescent voice, but man... when Yuna fell through his already fading body at the end, you'd have to be a complete vegetable to not at least get chills."

I'm no vegetable (or idiot), but I didn't get chills. It was kinda obvious she was going to fall through him. But I guess it's just me.

Yes. I was saying you'd have to be a vegetable and/or idiot to get chills. Perhaps you used to get "does not follow instructions well" comments on your report cards? I know how those go, cuz I skim over stuff without really reading it too. And you should definitely buy that cat you're looking for.

However, I did like most of the story of the game, and the battle system was fun. I could care less you could switch characters (mainly because I only used 3 or 4 of them throughout the game), but I liked how you could take turns fast if you knew what you were doing, or strategize a little cause you know who's turn goes next. But what killed it for me... were how most of the guys dressed in the game. On top of that, I really disliked Wakka and Auron. More so Wakka though. x_x

FFXII's clothing doesn't seem any better. Does anybody else dislike the dressing situation as well, or am I the only one?

That blond dude is a little creepy, but what can you do? If seeing a guy's chest really bothers you that much, you'd probably better take up residence on the moon.

(Out of the RPG world for a minute) Have you read The Sword of Shannara, or any of the Shannara series? They made Lord of the Rings into movies, and I think they should do the same with that series. It'de be cool as an RPG as well. (All for entertainment purposes of course, nothing is usually as good as the book... if the book came first)

I have indeed read the Sword of Shannara series, by which I mean the first seven books, the rest being horrible horrible cash grabs (well, the latter six of those seven probably were too, but what can you do..) I think the reason it will never be made into a movie is because it's ripped off source-direct from Lord of the Rings, and audiences would probably shun it in droves for that reason.

Last question. To you, what makes a battle system good, and what makes one not so entertaining?

- Skye

"You know it's against union rules for ghosts to come before midnight." - Bob Hope

A good battle system is fast, customizable, takes a while to master, and involves a good number of combinations for dealing damage. It also doesn't force you to go to ridiculous lengths to do decent amounts of damage. On the flipside, a bad battle system lacks variety, takes forever, and is more trouble than it's worth.

Unfit for Print

Hello, sorry about my elongated the first time letter from a few months or so, but I do have a simple question, just in case you may be able to answer it: Do you think that Namco will pull the same "trick" in Baten Kaitos like they did in Tales of Symphonia? I do not mean the name changes, which are pretty few in number fro what little I have seen thus far, with the most minute change being Mizuti's I, II, and III Special Attacks changing from Summoner Chakram, Breath and Seal, to Summoner's Chakram, Breath and Seal. Again, this is not the point, sorry. Will they take the quite talented (at least in comparison to some other titles I can think of. Heh, heh. Duel Saga. Sorry.) voice acting in Baten Kaitos, and like in Tales of Symphonia, and make the voice actors say the lines individually, and not reacting to voice clips or the like of other actors voices? You probably do not know this, but I would just like to make sure, if it is possible. Also, on a related note, am I wrong in my innate dislike of American made RPG's with their Bugs, Gritty looking graphics, names of everything, seemingly, with double consonants, double vowels, apostrophes, and the letter "h" just thrown around wherever they like? An example: "San'nahvharaah". that was a bit over doing it, but I think I have made a point, somewhere. true that American RPG's tend to be set in Medieval Europe or Celtic Times Scotland, or some other similar environmet/land with magic and goblins thrown in, but even with names like "Rinpoo" and "Souffle", the popular, versatile, and delicious food, (which was still scribbled on Fate's shirt even with her name change to Peppita), it seems that Japan has gotten the fantasy element done pat. I could be wrong though. And probably am. Though, I think they may be compensating for their scheduled lives and similar looks with the long blond haired, big detailed green eyes and the like... Never mind, that was going off topic again. Sorry for not keeping it at one question, but what do you think of all that I have stated? Thank you for your time, and sorry for my annoyance. Try to have a nice day.

You, sir, irritate me. Your voice acting point, while a reasonable question, probably can't be answered without interviewing the localization team, and the rest is just gross generalization. Granted, European and American RPGs tend to mirror Tolkienesque worlds, but that's because Tolkien's a freaking king in our culture, in case you hadn't noticed. Japan, on the other hand, turns to its ample stock of steampunk anime and giant fighting robot cartoons to fuel its RPGs, and when that grows tiresome, it dips into feudal Japan, which is a lot like feudal Europe except with samurais and daimyos instead of knights and duchies.

Aren't you just bursting
with excitement for the new Suikoden game?
--The Irken Child can't wait to sink some ships!

Look, there's many things that I'm bursting with, and while chewy fruit flavour and ooey gooey goodness may be part of the mix, excitement rarely enters my spin lexicon. I am mildly aroused by its incipient arrival, however.

What the? Uematsu's leaving?
What-- why-- when-- no--- how-- NO! No-o-o-o-o! God damn it, no. Why did you have to tell me that? It's just more chipping damage to my devotion to Final Fantasy. No, no, no. I go cry now.

-- Nistelle

Geez... You'd think the guy was dropping off the face of the earth or dead...


On the morrow, I think it would be well if we were to talk about battle systems, since you're all so curious about them. What do YOU think makes a good battle system? What do you think makes a lousy one? Are you a music student mad at me for impugning your ilk? All shots will be taken, and if these topics don't float your boat, I'd like you to share your very first video game memory. This can be either playing games, like the time I remember when my cousins came over on a very snowy afternoon and I finally made it to level 9 on Parsec for the TI/99A with its kickass voice synthesizer, or something else, like the time I went to get that creaky old Texas Instruments console. Thanks, Uncle Roger!
Andrew Long will press fire to begin.



You are out of fuel! Bloooooooh piooohkgdsgh!

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