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   Der Dear Deer  

Googleshng - September 26 '04- 4:00 Eastern Standard Time

Earlier today, there was a deer on my patio, practically eating out of my hand. By which I mean it was standing less than a meter away eating food I was tossing to it. Not something one generally has a chance to do. Mainly because most deer will run away before you even see them.

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< and > are bad things to stick in letters to be posted on web pages.

I didn't think I'd ever actually write to the Q&A section, though I am a regular reader, but it was about 5AM and I was bored, so I figured I'd throw in my opinion on a few things.

Firstly, Valkyrie Profile. It's not a bad game by any means, in fact, it's very much a good one. I just never quite saw what made it one of the 'classic' PSX RPGs. I adore the graphical style, the portraits are utterly beautiful, and the music and battle system are both wonderful, but the game is horribly repetitive. Search for dungeon, search for characters, get characters, complete dungeon. It's the standard RPG formula, but without any real story inbetween (you get a short scene of each character's 'death', but it's really not enough, especially since once a character joins your team, they have very little further involvement in the story, and almost no dialogue...), meaning that once the battles lose their charm, it's hard to swallow. This is only further aggravated by the fact that, despite at first appearing to be quite open ended, it actually offers you very little free exploration. There's a world map, but dungeons only appear according to chapter, and the cities are quite pointless to visit unless there's an event taking place in one of them. This means that, despite choosing where to go, you're basically still following a set path. Also, despite being a very interesting setting and premise, the story is hideously underdeveloped, even when you consider all of the endings, and, in the same way as Chrono Cross and the Suikoden series, it suffers from having too many characters: a lot of them have almost no character development.. It's not that I hate the game, it's definetly got it's share of good points, enough to make it well worth playing in my opinion, but I wouldn't rank it in the highest echelon of RPGs, or even PSX RPGs. Tri-Ace seem to have somewhat of a knack for fun and quirky
gameplay, but their stories are often severely lacking (Star Ocean 2's wasn't much better, and even Star Ocean's was only slightly above average. Tales of Phantasia's was nice, but they were still Wolf Team back then, so that doesn't count >_>). Hopefully Star Ocean 3's will be a little more appealing ^_^;

As for Zohar Gilboa's comment on a 'dual movement' system in a TRPG, I'd suggest (s)he takes a look at Vandal Hearts 2. I believe it employs something of the sort. It was quite fun, you had to anticipate the enemies movements and the like.

Anyway, that's about all I can think of. Hope I didn't waste too much of your time.

Ed

Googleshng:
Well, the thing about VP is that exploring the world and learning about the characters is very much not what the game is about. At the heart, VP is a resource juggling strategy game. Who do I need to keep with me to have a solid party? Who do I have to send up to keep the war from being lost? How do I get the most experience in the time allowed? It's more like Ogre Battle than Final Fantasy.

On the subject of Vandal Hearts 2 though... while it wasn't the biggest problem I had with the game, that concept would work a lot better if the AI was less rigid. If you've played the game for an hour, or you've played the original Vandal Hearts, or you know what you'd do in that position, or you're fighting a boss, you can predict the enemy's every move perfectly. It seems kinda silly for the best possible move in a lot of situations to be back up two spaces and attack the empty space that was behind you. It also completely destroys any realism they were trying to go for with simultanious turn taking.

 
More on Piracy...

Dear Goog, or Andrew, or whoever gets this letter due to the single pool these days (why don't you just delete the letters you reply to?),

Googleshng:
Because it's really a forwarding alias to both of our respective accounts. The system still needs work.

I thought I'd just like to clarify the guy's words on pirated/downloaded games.

>From what I read, I can probably guess that the guy comes from Southeast Asia, where there is no such thing as a computer/console game that costs less than a hundred dollars.

See, due to the currency exchange, almost ALL games released in my country are between $150 to $250, with any Final Fantasy game released hitting the maximum price. I'm not one for pirating if possible, but with that high a cost for a single game and the average middle-class student's allowance about $50, original games are those that you buy one title for your entire life and pray it's the game you'll always cherish (I actually regretted forking out the $200 for Final Fantasy X, really).

Second reason, and it's a much sillier one, trust me: All the original games sold are in JAPANESE, a language nobody else in the region speaks...except the Japanese.

When I asked a worker in Sony Wings (a place where all Sony stuff is sold, including PS2 games) about this, the guy said that we don't fall into the English-speaking category according to Sony's marketing department, so even American-made games like Rygar and Prince of Persia are also sold in Japanese.

I try to buy stuff unpirated as possible since there are developers out there who could really use the support, but with an extremely limited stock of original games (Metroid Prime for the Gamecube is still nowhere in sight) and a price way beyond reach, it's hard to want to support them unless I order it online, and even then the price comes up to about the same. It's a shame, because if companies are willing to just throw us the US releases sold at a fraction of the current price, they could easily make a profit (Every Final Fantasy game here gets as much mouth-to-mouth hype as Lord of The Rings, really).

And I suppose I should put a question for posting's sake, so...do you have a paying job, and are there any non-RPG games you're playing at the moment?

Corny, but I had to.

DMJ

Googleshng:
I believe he was from Italy actually, but the issue was the cost of games in America in any case. It does indeed suck to be a gamer in any of the various countries that the industry tends to overlook.

As for your questions there, I am indeed currently sans-income, yet somehow still able to play Pikmin 2.

 
Griping About Griping

Hola

You know, I don't mind if someone dislikes a game based on personal preference and opinion, but it does irk me a tad when someone puts down a game for aspects that he or she bashes out of ignorance. While Tnayven's complaints about music, story, voice acting and character originality (or lackthereof as he claims, despite little things such as having a healer who isn't a sweet, innocent, priestly young girl for once) are a matter of his personal likes and perceptions, his gripe of "AI wizards [who] want to burn their TP on those world-destorying spells when the enemy has like six HP left" doesn't seem to be a valid complaint at all, as there are several ways (issuing immediate party commands via the D-pad, permenently setting a character's strategy, or turning off certain abilities) to limit or instruct your spell-casters to use weaker spells or refrain from spell-casting at all.

If something like music and whatnot doesn't appeal to you, please realise that's subjective. Don't complain about factual aspects unless you actually know what you're talking about.

-- The "Next time someone complains about the game not letting you use certain moves in blue 'for no reason' I'm gonna scream" Pictomancer

Googleshng:
A helpful hint for many people that. At least I'd hope so. Music can however be objectively bad in a game however. Heck, look at Koudelka. I love the soundtrack, but as found in the game, the sound quality is abysmal. Otherwise spiffy tracks reduced to tinny midis.

 
New issues!

First of all, to the guy yesterday, there's downloading a game, and there's holding an actual copy - shrinkwrapped if it's new - in your paws. I don't know about you, but I like being able to sit in front of my game console and TV, strategically placed in front of my bed, and play in comfort, instead of sit in front of the computer in a chair that I really need to replace and attempt to play while making my butt sore. The easy solution would probably be to get a new chair, but that money could also go to another (legitimate) game I can lounge around in bed and play.

As for pirated games... they probably don't come with their manuals, do they? Or if they do, it's a poor photocopy? Or am I underestimating software pirates?

Anyway, unpleasantness over, is it just me or is Final Fantasy XII looking somewhat like Final Fantasy IX? I'm not complaining, IX is currently my favourite Final Fantasy. But still, there's a few similarities. Non-humans are abundant, the main character is a thief (or it looks like it from the trailers - and you could argue that the main character in IX is the black mage Vivi), it seems to be a more medieval setting, and there is a scene with the characters in prison (actually, that's been in quite a few of the games, come to think of it). This was also gleaned from the trailer.

Personally, I'm looking forward to XII because it seems to be somewhat like IX. I think I could get to like the characters, and the semi-familiar setting (Ivalice rocks), and from what I've heard of the music, it seems almost as good as the music from Final Fantasy Tactics. (I wonder if the experience system from Tactics, Tactics Advance, and VIII is back: uniform leveling up from one level to the next, and experience points calculated based on the enemy level.)

Apologies if this was covered already,
-CW

Googleshng:
FF12 does indeed look to have the same vibe as 9. I'm not entirely sure if that's something to be happy about though, seeing how FF9 turned out to be somewhat... unoriginal. The Tactics connection is interesting though. I suppose we'll see how it turns out.

 
Japan One

So you wanted to talk Phantom Brave did you? I don't write into this site very much but I DO read it almost everyday to see what's going on in the gaming world. Now that I've told you something useless I figure I'll get to my comment. Phantom Brave was a REALLY good game in my mind. I liked that once you understood the way things worked it was pretty easy but still customizable. My favorite thing was making those weapons make my lvl 10 character kill those monsters that were up to 5 times my level. The only thing I see that Disgaea did better is the colored squares that made chains for massive bonuses. I play that game still to see how much I can master that, and while I never finish Disgaea(something I'm working on right now) I did like that you can do the new game + with it(or so I've heard). So my question is really not much other then is this all a ramble that made no sense or was there something worth writing in it? Keep up the good work too!

Googleshng:
Well, I suppose it's a question of personal taste. Personally, I really prefered Disgaea's whole Transmigration and Item World bit to the whole Fusion system. I do admit though, I loved the fight where, thanks to Marona dying and everyone else running out their clock, there was nothing on the map except one monster, and a level 15 character of mine using a level 120 axe. It hit me 12 times before I got a turn, but when I finally got my whack in, that was that.




The Last Laugh:

So yeah. Deer. They're nifty.



Googleshng "Nifty and weird looking." @rpgamer.com

Kangaroos with hooves really.

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