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Googleshng - December 23 '04- 4:00 Eastern Standard Time

Waiting for over two weeks now for a Mysterious Package Which May Or May Not Contain The Last Component To A Deathray, I heard a knocking at the door. Lo, there stood the mailman, holding a great big package, just the size and shape to hold a atomic dis- er uh, what I've been waiting for. Then it turned out to just be a package from my aunt, containing a coat she wanted to give my cousin. DOH!

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Never written you before but I couldn't help myself this time.

I recently sat down with Growlanser Generations and while I'm having a decent time with the game overall, there are a few things that kind of bug me about this release.

There are several battles in Growlanser 2 that force you to follow a single, narrow strategy or fail miserably. Having to make the characters run back and forth on the map to level up enough to gain a particular skill can be maddening. Not to mention, the music is mostly dull and lifeless. Sometimes, playing this(with the already mentioned AND unmentioned flaws) makes me wonder if it was really worth the fight Working Designs put up for it. For once, I can honestly say that I'm happy Sony forced them to do a collection like this. I would've felt cheated if I had to buy the two games separately. Growlanser 2 is incredibly short. I'm not sure about the length of the third as I'm still working my way through it. I encourage anybody this letter reaches to consider doing your homework before deciding to take the plunge. It's just not as great as some people make it out to be.

Now for my biggest question; With more and more gaming companies finding their niche here in the US, do you think publishers without a Japanese parent are running out of decent RPGs to localize? Atlus USA had to pass on this before it could be offered to another company. As an outsider looking in, it almost seems as if Working Designs is at the dinner table waiting for the leftover scraps to become available. Could this be a matter where a small publisher would eventually be forced out of business? (worse case scenario) I'm certainly not a fan of Working Designs as a company, but I wish them no ill will and it would be sad if this were to happen.

In any case, I think it's best to stop here. I don't want to take up too much time...or space for that matter.

Thanks for your time.
Happy Holidays!

This thought has crossed my mind too, several times, and ironically enough, usually with regards to Atlus. Sure, in Japan, Atlus is a developer, but uh... not of a heck of a lot. So Atlus USA here mainly gets stuck with the weird games nobody else wants to bring over. Then here and there, they get a nice solid hit on their hands (like Nippon Ichi's stuff), and the Japanese publisher, or just some bigger publisher, runs off with it.

The upside of course is that there's always going to be those risky games out there that nobody will touch besides Atlus and WD, so as long as we're willing to take the risks, we'll keep getting the hidden treasures, and they'll stay in business.

Remakes and Reforms


Even though I am 25 years old, I had never actually played Final Fantasy I. I did get FF Chronicles, but I never got around to it. Then I heard that Dawn of Souls was even better than all the other versions, a little bit easier and portable to boot... I just had no reason whatsoever to not finally play it.

So here I am, level 30 in the Earth Dungeon enjoying myself on my Nintendo DS every time I have free time. (Don't worry, the question is comming)

I got a basic lineup of characters (Warrior, White Mage, Black Mage, Monk) But lately, I have been wondering what it might be like to play with a Red Mage. Since I don't really feel like playing a second time with a different party, I tried to see how this would be possible.

Then it hit me, why not make it like FFX. You have all six character from the get go and you can switch them whenever you want. Of course, a lot of things would need to be changed from the original (price for spell, boss dificulties, etc.) You would be able to rearrange your party as you wish and it might also add a level of strategy. Also the plot would need to be changed drastically. Instead of four heroes with each a crystal, it would be a band of heroes with the four crystals. I know it isn't THAT drastic... but considering the size of the plot, it's a major change. ^_^

So what do you think of the idea?

Heres another question. Are you all for innovation even in remakes or are you more into keeping game as close as possible to the original version?

Thanks for the time

Soul Maru

First, I need to point out that you're basically describing FF3 there... unless you're saying you just one a party consisting of each class type. That would more resemble every other RPG, and suck for tri-monkers like myself.

Anyway, onto the subject of remakes, particularly those that make drastic changes...

I absolutely despise them, and would be very happy if nobody were to ever make one again... with one exception.

First, we have the problem of all remakes, in any medium. We take something that has stood the test of time, and the majority of people still love it, and decide to bring it to a new audience. That's all well and good, that's called a port, that I'm totally in favor of. Particularly if you take the time to make sure it looks plays and sounds just like it used to. I'd generally prefer developers to devote their resources to new games, but if they're going to get nostalgic, I want them doing ports. For a very simple reason.

Most people, when reviving an old game, will attempt to improve it. This is just plain stupid of them. We all agree that the original version of this game was fantastic. Presumably, one of, if not the, best things the developer in question has ever done. Otherwise, we wouldn't be touching it. So let's say that this game is, say... 95% perfect. There is, conceivably, some room for improvement, but not much.

Now we throw in some Changes. We don't know what makes for a perfect game, or even what makes this particular game perfect. If we did, we'd do nothing but make absolutely perfect games, each totally different from the last, and never look back at our old stuff. We have a pretty decent idea though, because we made a nearly perfect game, and we have a lot of experience. So it's safe to say that these new changes have a better than average chance of being cool. Let's say our ideas are, on average between 75% and 100% perfect.

If we do the math here, there's less than a 20% chance that any given change is going to be better than what we have already. The rest of the time, they might be pretty spiffy, but not as good as what it is they're replacing. Plus, I'm giving these people much better odds on having good ideas than reality reflects. I have personally seen remakes of something like 100 games. Of those, exactly one struck me as an improvement. A few others (which mainly didn't change anything) are roughly as good as the originals. Take SMB3 from Super Mario Allstars for instance. The graphics look a bit off in my book compared to the original (and the background moves making me have to re-learn my jump timing), but I don't have to worry about my NES overheating from being on for 5 hours straight anymore thanks to the ability to save. Overwhelmingly though, the people behind a remake try to "fix problems" from the original that were, whether people realized it or not, what made them enjoyable in the first place.

Take the GBC version of Dragon Warrior for instance. DW was never my favorite game. Sitting there killing 100 slimes with a stick until I could scrape together the cash buy a halfway decent weapon, to speed up killing the next 100 slimes and get some armor, this sort of thing isn't my idea of a good time. I'd much rather play some faster paced game, where the world isn't the letter C, I have multiple characters, there's puzzles to be solved, and so on and so forth. People looked at this game, figured everyone really should play it, and decided to greatly reduce the insane struggle that was killing hundreds of pathetic monsters to get to the point where they're more pathetic than you. Unfortunately, the only appeal the game ever had was that sense of satisfaction when you actually finished killing those hundred slimes, and bought that shiny new weapon here and there. It's a terrific sense of accomplishment after all that struggling. Without that, there is no point whatsoever in playing the game. The white backgrounds struck me as ugly to boot.

I could sit here listing off all the other remakes which destroyed the fun of the original game trying to fix problems, or the dozens of others that threw in extra scenes and bosses which do nothing but bog things down and ruin the pacing, but I've already said too much on this subject.

Oh, and for what it's worth, the one exception was the GC version of Resident Evil. Instead of tweaking things, it just takes the principles and plot of the original, and starts from square one, drawing on new hardware and experience, and basically tries not to mess with anything.

There and Back Again...

First the rpg question, what's your take on new game + features in rpgs? I've seen it done alot of ways, and it's mixxed on feelings, some people say every rpg should have the feature or option to increase replay, alot of people say it ruins the game, which are you, or do you take a different opinion? Another thing I wanted to know was, which version do you like? Say, chrono trigger, where you keep levels, items, vertually everything over, or say FFx-2, no levels or experience, just items and abilities? Or a different type maybe.

Second part, plot twists, I haven't seen it mentioned yet, I might have missed it, but a game I thought had alot of plot twists was FF6. Sure it was kinda predictable and the generic save the world heros band together type of thing, but... You find out terra's not just a human experiment by the empire but half esper her self, you also find out that epsers that are helping you save the world, helped doom it in the first place, as well as create the wars and world shattering stuff in the past that made the bleek world it was at the start of the game, and lead the empire to find them again. Sabin finds out his master is still alive and the guy he fought and thought killed him, didn't. Shadow turns out to be strago's son in law and realm's father. Locke, mister "I'm only a treasure hunter not a thief" turns out not to be on a search for self gain and riches, but to find a secret power just to save a girl he's partly responcible for putting in a coma. The person you thought to be the bad guy and ruler of all the empire ends up killed and kicked off a floating island by a nut job in clown paint that likes to shake his finger at things. Back water medievil Cyan ends up being a lil clock work genious and great with machines. With all the technology, air ships, guns, weapons and such, figaro's big secret weapon, is that it burrows under ground like a dirt submarine. Those aren't exactly the greatest shockers, but I'm sure alot of people weren't expecting them, and there were quite a few other lil twists and turns too, though this is long enough as it is.

Those aren't exactly plot twists, most of those are just decent character development, which is sadly rare. Having the bad guy actually succeed in destroying the world though, that qualifies.

As for the New Game+ bit... I like the general principle of being able to plow through a game after I've finished it, but if someone just wants to cash in on the buzz word, throws it in as an afterthought, and doesn't really provide a game that warrants another run through, that sucks.

I sure have been doing this a while...

What the hell is up with Yuffie's weapon in FF7? I mean, it's kind of like a ninja star, I guess, and that's what they call it. But it's as big as a small person. Are weapons like that really used? And yeah, I know Barret attaches a cannonball to his hand as a weapon, but still.

Sorry if this letter reaches you like seven years after the game is released or something, I'm kind of lagged.

With almonds,

Nope. The most exotic weapon I can think of in a game that was ever actually used in real life would be the swallow (that double bladed polearm thing from Chrono Cross). There's a lot of other weird stuff from that era and part of the world that would be pretty neat in an RPG though. Timed button presses to activate those spring loaded side-blade swords for instance...


Hey Google,

In reply to that one answer you had about implying I was saying all SNES games, no characters die, I didn't say that, but what I said was there were alot where no main characters or no one you really had a chance to love was killed off. Also, Mog was never killed in FF6, where if you didn't save him from the side of the mountain, you couldn't get him in the World of Balance, but after finishing it and getting to the World of Ruin, Mog is still available at that point in the game. That shows one reason why I don't think Shadow died, but you didn't know what happened to him.

There are also RPG's on Sega that a main character that you love ends up getting killed off. Even though way too overrated, Phantasy Star 2 is one, where Nei is killed off by the Nei Clone.

It also brings me to this. One of the best story points I've ever seen on a video game was from Phantasy Star 2, close to the very beggining I might add. It's not a plot twist, but the characters daughter you went to save covering her face and telling her father no she won't leave, because she knew he'd kill her and then find out what he's done. The fact that she was ashamed of seeing what her father did to try and save her.

-andrew- -kupomogli-

The point I was making was that it was common enough for the average person to run across it a few times. Anyway though, it really does have to be said that Phantasy Star 2 held the title of Bleakest RPG Ever for quite some time. Until FF6 came out really. First ever instance of a party member being bumped off for good that I can think of, seeing how humanity pretty much completely destroyed their environment between games, the rationalization used for bringing back the dead, the literal world destruction, the ending...

What I still find odd though is the rationalization for the switchover halfway through from fighting monsters to fighting robots. The thousands monsters were just rampaging around all over, but the thousands of robots, those were dispatched specifically to find and kill the members of your party. Talk about excessive force...

The Last Laugh:

Tying into my big long shpiel up there, I'd really love to see a DVD boxed set of the original version of the Star Wars trilogy. Wouldn't you?

Googleshng "Happy Decemberween!"

May you all get... stuff... and things.

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