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   Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice...  

Andrew Long - November 1 '02- 9:33 Eastern Standard Time

Despite my complaints of Halloween episodes, I'll freely admit that I like dressing up for Halloween parties. This has a long and noble history, with a high point five years ago or so when I showed up in a fur coat with a horrible wig and fun-fur pants, as well as various other pimpesque accoutrements. Today, I've opted for Beetlejuice, largely because it was the only costume available to me. My sister has this kickass jacket painted with black and white stripes, and a corresponding almost-the-right-coloured shirt and tie. At any rate, I'm tossing this up beforehand so you don't have to deal with the horror of a drunken Q&A host. Such a thing could only lead to disaster...

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Good afternoon, c,

I have a quick question about Golden Sun. Is there any sort of reward for fighting monsters in the arena?

Thank you.


The only reward for fighting in the monster arena, as far as I know, is the warm sense of well-being you get when your party rains copious destruction on its foes. This, on the whole, is good for making long train rides less dull, but other than that, has no useful purpose.

The requisite multiparter

Heya Castomel,

First, some non-RPG questions.

1)I usually ask what a host's favorite RPGs are, but as you are a staffer, your bio provides that tidbit. But what is your favorite gaming console? (For me, the PSX, followed closely by the SNES. They have the lion's share of my RPGs between them.)

I'm gonna have to go with the PSX, despite my old-school roots. Looking back, most PSX games have better depth than most SNES titles have to offer. Granted, nostalgia does tend to colour my stated favorite games, but on the whole, the PSX is just a better console in terms of technical merit, variety, and the depth of the games. Still, the SNES does have a number of games that I've played to death, so it's a close victory.

2)Come to think of it, where DO you get the name Castomel from?

The name Castomel comes from my old pen 'n paper days, when I was a kender of some repute. I owned my very own tavern, I did, with a gerbil colony in the back which kind of got out of control -_-. Somewhat further back than that, it's stolen from Dragonlance, those shameful novels that most of us have probably read. You can find it in the Dwarven Chronicles, if you're a glutton for punishment (actually, though, Dan Parkinson is one of the better authors TSR keeps(kept?) chained down, in my opinion, so it's not all that bad.)

Next, an RPG question!

Star Ocean 2. Yes, it's an old game, but in my corner, it's new, as I just recently got it. Anyway, found some item that says it grants a skill. Know if it means it gives the skill to one person or to everyone? For that matter, is it a single skill, or a skill group, like the skill shops sell? I'm a bit reluctant to use it without knowing, and the item desc isn't too forthcoming.

Ah, SO2... If only I could summon up the interest to finish it. I actually managed to get around to getting to disc 2 a few months back, but then FFX came along, and I rather quickly jumped ship. Now, I'm not too sure what type of item you're referring to, but I wouldn't worry too much; items in SO2 are a dime a dozen, and what's the worst that could happen- you give a character a skill. If you want my advice, just use it on whichever character you've been beefing up, and you probably won't go wrong. Of course, in the event you do happen to suffer some sort of hideous meltdown, feel free to hunt me down and destroy me- but I reserve the right to a three-day head start :)

Lastly, on the topic of replaying RPGs, posted yesterday.

My take on replaying games is simple. If I have unplayed games, replays are a no. But I will replay most every RPG I have, if I liked it enough, at least once. After I've beaten a game for the first time, I'll get a walkthrough or a strat guide and replay the game, getting all the game I can out of it.

Also, some games have features which make replaying them a must. The NewGame+ features of ChronoTrigger, Chrono Cross, and Vagrant Story spring immediately to mind. Also, how about playing Suikoden II to get the Clive sidequest done? SImilarly, playing FF9 fast enough to get that one sword. These and similar things give people a reason to play a game again.

Lastly, when one lacks a new game, there's no reason NOT to pick up one of their favorites and replay it.

-Kenneth Whitten

Vagrant Story has a New Game+ feature? Egad... Who would ever want to play that game through twice?

Oh, right... This guy

Ok, I'm about to scream here. VAGRANT STORY MEDIOCRE! YOU %"R%&%(/FLIBBETY!%%##!


Anyway, Vagrant Story is probably my favourite game of all time. Yes. The story is by far the best one in a videogame out there. The sheer depth of the fantastic characters, the amazingly written dialouges, the overall amazingness of the game. I can't even describe it with words. If it were a book, it'd be one of the best books I'd ever read. Also, managing your weapons is a very original concept, and it's executed flawlessly, admittedly with a little too much menu-flipping. It doesn't detract from the fun of it, though. The combat system is also incredible, like Secret of Mana with depth! Okay, it's a dungeon crawler, but who cares? I HATE dungeon crawlers(HATE HATE HATE), yet I love this game. That has to say something about how amazing this game is. I can't even imagine what you would think is bad in this game. Please, explain.

- Gandalf the Purple Rabbit

Heh. I knew my diatribe yesterday would land me at least one flame, but I stand by my opinion- VS is painful. Normally when I hate a game, I have a review of it kicking around explaining why, but I haven't finished it yet, so no dice there. Guess I'll have to go the not-lazy route and toss up a few opinions here(and this is just my opinion, mind you):

  • First, if that's one of the best books you've ever read, you need to expand your horizons a little. There's plenty of literature out there that does better, and I've played several games that do it better too. This isn't to rain on the plot, which is, from what I've been able to make of it, pretty good. However, there's a small problem with the plot: playing through the accursed dungeons in the game is such a time-consuming bore that the time it takes to progress from one chunk of plot to the next totally destroys any flow the story might have.
  • The battle system might be like Secret of Mana with depth in theory, but in practice, it also takes way too long to get anything done. The beauty of Secret of Mana was the ease with which you could operate, and Vagrant Story seems determined to be counterintuitive in every way possible. From the ridiculous button pushing required to do any decent damage to the stupid, prohibitive Riskbreaker gauge, to the annoying-to-navigate menus to the limited magic system to the nearly pointless weapon creation to the seemingly extraneous special attacks, I really couldn't get used to the battle system because it was poorly implemented. Again, there were some good ideas, but the execution was bad bad bad.
  • The dungeons are dreary and repetitive, and who the heck wants to do a freaking block puzzle every other screen?
  • The music's mediocre.
  • The graphics just don't do it for me- jaggy anti-aliasing, the artistic style (why must every character have ass-patches in their pants? Sure, it prevents wedgies, but at what price?) and the general feel of the visuals just weren't up to par, even for their time.

Music, sweet music

Hey Andrew,

i was wondering if you know where i can get the sheet music (piano) for celes (final fantasy 3 *released as 6 in the u.s*) and the theme songs from kingdom hearts (simple and clean by utada hikaru). well that's it...........thanx a bunches

I'm pretty sure our own music section has some of the sheet music you're looking for, but it's currently being renovated, so I can't give you a link at this point. A search online should turn up what you're looking for, since what you're asking for is in fairly high demand, as far as videogame music goes.


Has Squaresoft decided that Chrono Cross will be the last instalment of the Chrono series, or are there any glimmers of hope of this becoming a franchise like Final Fantasy?

There hasn't been any confirmation one way or another at this point. Square has trademarked the name "Chrono Break", but this doesn't really mean anything one way or the other; companies often trademark names just in case.

I'm surfin' the web, doodz

Hey Cast,

I am pretty excited about the PS2 Modem and was wondering if there is any browser that can be used? Just the one quick question today from the FireBorn, thanks.

-Jacon FireBorn

Sony didn't include a web browser with the browser, but some third-party developers have indicated that they are working on browsers. Of course, these announcements are by and large well over a year old, but since there are browsers available in Japan, it makes sense that you should be able to find one sooner or later.


Hello news-type-person;

Be a doll, and remind Google that my offer to do the column on weekends still stands. Sure, 20 other people have made the exact same offer, but I have this to prove that, if I make a commitment while in a fit of insanity, I keep it.

Don't go away, I have a real question! I finally picked up a PS2, but have only Kingdom Hearts (beaten), and FFX, which I'm nearing the end of. A local store is having a sale where if you buy 2 games you get 1 free, so what would you consider the best 3 other RPGs on the system? Preferably on the cheap side.

"You're nothing without your precious attack duck!"

The three best other RPGs... Well, Goog would kill me if I didn't recommend Shadow Hearts to you, and I'd also be sure to pick up Suikoden 3. As for a third... Well, that's pretty much a toss-up. Most recently, there's Wild ARMs 3, and if you're a fan of the Summoner series, you could pick up either Summoner or Summoner 2. Or both, if you're not too keen on Suikoden / Shadow Hearts. And then there's Baldur's Gate II, if you like dungeon crawling. I can't really vouch for the price of any of these, though; aside from the Summoner titles and possibly Shadow Hearts, everything I've mentioned is a fairly recent releases, so it may end up costing you a pretty penny however you decide to go.


I love Andrew Long and all, but what's AK up to these days?

Well... I think he was with the GIA for awhile, but after that I really couldn't tell you. Check Gameforms, maybe?

I hope we're here for Balcony Collapse! We could wipe out BC in our lifetime!

I only care about M-E... My enjoyment! *runs off crying*

The Last Laugh:

And that's a wrap. Let's see more of the same for tomorrow, shall we? :D

castomel "zzz"

I wonder if Beetlejuice gets hangovers...

Old Issues
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  • Final Fantasy XIII, since nobody cared
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New Issues
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