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Googleshng - June 18 '03- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time

Or cable company if you don't want to be melodramatic about such things. In a desperate bid to keep EVERYONE from switching over to satellite, my hideously overprized and under-channelled cable company has decided to let everyone switch over to digital cable with no hookup fee. So now I get something like half a dozen varient Discovery channels, but I STILL don't get the frelling Cartoon Network.

Before you ask, I'd have to level a forest.

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Arias and Symphonies

So ya got the new Castlevania? I personally enjoy it much more than the previous two. The magic system gives me plenty excuse to waste time just killing things, and the replay value's great. Also, and I'm going out on a limb here at the risk of bearing the full wrath of hardcore Castlevania fans, I think swords (and various other weapons) are better than whips, for two reasons. 1) When you use a sword in Castlevania, there's a little bit of recoil time right after you attack. When you use a whip, the waiting time is right before the attack, making it much harder to attack flying monsters. 2) I like to change weapons around. Different timing and lengths for your attack throughout the game is fun. So yeah, maybe I'm wrong, but I gotta say that I like SotN and AoS more than the other Castlevania games, and I think the weapons you're using is a big part of that. Your thoughts?

AoS is definitely the best (or at least most SotN like) of the GBA Castlevanias. In any case, while I don't have anything against the whip in particular, it is quite nice being able to switch weapons around makes things a bit more fun. Also, while I'm glad to see they maintained the clarity of the graphics from HoD, I wish they'd revisited a few more concepts from CotM. Specifically, reusing the classic soundtrack, and throwing in four reply modes. The whole "play as a Belmont" concept was rather weak the first time around, it's flat out dull by now. Particularly since the castle layout is always pretty much the same. Ultimately, what's the difference between playing as a Belmont in AoS vs. HoD?

Oh, and please don't nitpick me on how technically the Belmont is the regular character in HoD.

Alternatives to levels.


I've been playing FF2 on Origins lately, and I must admit that it's probably the reason I bought the game, what with it not being released in the US and all. I recall you mentioning something about playing the remake of FF1, which pretty much implies you have the game. So, opinions?

I went and built up my 3 main characters using the Select/Cancel trick I found in an FAQ on that _other_ site. I spent about 20 hours fighting Captains with my bare hands, as I got my Unarmed skill up to 9, then went nuts. They all have a strength of 99, and are doing 1500 to 2500 damage per attack. So now I'm just waltzing through the plot crushing any and all creatures that dare stand in my way, with all of my weapon proficiencies up to 16 (the maximum).

My real question in all of this blatant boasting of my level-whoring abilities is this: How do you feel about the Exp. Free leveling system? I thought it was a great idea, but it would take forever to build up your characters without employing a cheasy leveling technique. Example: I just got Leila. My super characters have 2300+ hp each. I have gone through the Deist cave both times, and she still has under 300 hp. Her weapon skills are growing fairly quickly, but without the ability to Select/Cancel your fourth character, and without the ability to rearrange your order, the fourth character will never really be able to catch up in under 100 hours.

Just a curiosity of mine, since I respect your thoughts and opinions from reading your columns since you started, being a remnant of the readers from the good old days of Q&AK.

Captain Modifier.

I actually don't have FFO, haven't played it, and honestly haven't even seen it in action first hand, but that's really beside the point here. Use it to improve it systems are great on paper. They're more realistic, and they let you customize your characters however you see fit. In practice however, they're horrific. In a lot of cases, you get a snowballing situation. For example, I kill 10 monsters with fireballs, doubling my MP and giving me the big flaming nuke spell. I proceed to kill everything first round with that, getting even more MP, and even more overpowered spells. When that doesn't happen, usually it comes from the game being extra stingy with rewards, and/or limitting how much character building you can do. So then you end up with games like SaGa Frontier 2, where a little bad luck will leave you with the equivolent of a party of first level characters by the end of the game. Honestly, SaGa Frontier 1 is the only example of a game which approaches a fair curve of progression... and ironically everyone hated it.

Of course, just because systems like this are almost never pulled off in a satisfactory manner is no reason for people to stop trying. Developers testing these ideas just need to actually take the time to make sure they're actually balanced nicely. It isn't that hard to do.

More on this note.

hey google,
perhaps I've been watching too much Trigun or it's just the humanist in me but concerning the school shooting, ahem,
"no one has the right to take the life of another, the ticket to the future is always open"- Rem Saverem
Remember folks, WWVD? (What would Vash do?)

OK, there, now enough people have commented on the matter.

Personally though, I find it hard to follow a completely strict version of Vash/Rem's philosophy until someone can give me a decent solution to the spider/butterfly dillema that doesn't involve a very small IV.

The Last Laugh:

Sorry for the late column everyone. I'll have to remember not to agree to man the door for undefined periods in the future.

Also, it's disturbing how many people seem to care so darn much that I somehow ended up with a copy of the new Harry Potter book 3 days ahead of everyone else. You wouldn't figure a bunch of jaded 20-somethings would care about such things.

Googleshng "He's got a board with a nail in it!"

My reaction to Silent Hill 2, not a Simpson's quote per se... OK, fine, it's both.

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