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Eater Of Cheese February 16, 2005

Googleshng - 4:00 EST

The title of today's column is an extremely obtuse in-joke only one person would get. I'll probably throw something up on my page to explain it over the weekend though. Specifically a log of the whole thing.




L E T T E R S
Budding Young Cynic


Ok, i hope this really doesn't end up confusing. I think you're right with your belief that RPGs these days are more aimed towards mainstream gameplayers (i can remember being one of 5 people in my grade to play ffvii on its release, and being one of about 100 people in my grade to play ffx on its release). Its that very reason that has caused me to stray away from the more recent Final Fantasies. I'm not trying to sound like a crank or anything, but i really don't find much intrest in non-turned based battle systems (i'm incredibly uncertain of how much i will like ffXii for that very reason) along with cinimatography. Again, call me a crank, but i think that a lot of companies are spending more time on making Yuna's eyes twinkle than making her lines substinant. I still enjoy newer games (i just picked up Xenosaga Episode II and Star Ocean: TtEoT) but they don't seem to leave as big of an impression on my mind. Then again, maybe i've just reached that age where game-plots and antics will only go so far.

Oh, i also agree with the fellow who mentioned that lack of time is a constraint to deal with. I can remember when i had the time to play ffix for 72 hours straight. I've played ffvii and ffix (the first two final fantasies i bought) a couple of times each, and didn't even think about it. now with college, and my significant other, i barely have enough time to sleep. I recently aquired Half-Life 2, Xenosaga Episode II, Star Ocean: TtEoT, and CivIII, and i haven't beaten a single one yet. i managed to get about an hour into TtEoT, and i'm about 2/3s of the way through HL2, but i can't even get a chance to play the other games. I'll probably steal a day or two coming up to get my nose into XS before i gets added to the pile and forgotten about.

hm... my original version had a question... what was it... oh yeah! I noticed that when Halo 2 and HL2 were released, they set a bar for FPS games. now companies are working on new engines and innovative plots and settings in order to reach the bar set by the extraordinary games. the bar has also managed to push away and negate the mediocre FPS games. do you think that this may ever happen in the RPG genre? like say SE creates a game that is the utter utopia of games (which for me means that they bring back the ATB, and have a jaw-dropping plot filled with twists and interesting and non-cliche'ed villians). do you think that would cause companies like Namco, Microsoft, Sony, Nentendo and Sega to raise their standards in order to compete?

Ryan

Googleshng

I am so unqualified to discuss anything FPS related that it's sad. As evidenced by the fact that I completely and utterly fail to comprehend what exactly people find so darn appealing about the Marathon games.

Anyway though, ignoring the nitpicks I could make here about how FF7 doesn't really qualify as "old school" or that FF10-2 has pretty much the same battle system as FF 4-9, since you pretty much hit the nail on the head with the rest of this letter, onto your question.

Basically, the question at hand is, if you'll allow me to paraphrase a little, "would the release of a truly phenominal RPG cause everyone else to start churning out comparable games?"

Well, depending on how cynical you are about these things, it either happens pretty much constantly, or never happens at all.

Take a market where RPGs (or any other kind of game really), aren't selling too well. People aren't going to be doing a whole lot with this genre. Now someone releases a game which, while not necessarily universally loved by all, at least sells like hotcakes. A bunch of people are going to immediately wake up, take a good long look at that game, and try to copy it as best they can.

So, on the one hand, you get a lot of new games like the game you like. On the other hand, you get a market flooded with stupid derivitive garbage you would never in your right mind prefer to playing the game they're ripping off again. Just take a look at, say, Legend of Dragoon, Legend of Legaia, EverQuest, or *insert Diablo 2 clone here* for some common examples. All are "more of the same" whether you consider that good or bad.

What I classify as a truly great game on the other hand, that being a truly original inovative game which turns conventions on their ears and with luck encourages armies of imitators like the above, those are never going to come about as a reaction to another game being a huge success. Generally speaking, those come about pretty much exclusively as the result of someone getting completely fed up with the stagnation of a particular type of game.



Another soapbox setup!


Are you kidding me? There's no choice here. Okay...maybe a small one.

The way I see it, you have to pick between Xenogears and Vandal Hearts. Why? Well, the other games, while all are good in their own rights, are nothing special. But Xenogears and Vandal Hearts are the exception. These games are classics.

Personally, I would pick Xenogears. It has, in my opinion, the best plot in an RPG to date. The best music, the best characters/character development. A very good battle system (2 in fact). Where can you go wrong? The obvious answer to this is "the second disc." But, for those who love story driven RPGs, the 2nd disc is great.

But of course, if you want to see an insane amount of blood gushing out of people in a cartoon like manner (which is always a good time)...then go for Vandal Hearts.

an RPGfan

Googleshng

I'm guessing this is related to a topic from the weekend. Anyway, I already talked about Vandal Hearts some yesterday, so today it's evidently Xenogears' turn. There's a lot of things about Xenogears that I really like, and a lot of things about it that I can't stand... and oddly enough, it's the same list. Just a question of the mood I'm in at the time. At least for the time the game came out, it had a fantastic soundtrack, a unique look, a ton of ambition, unorthodox pacing, and a really convoluted plot which mainly serves as a means for fusing references to a dozen cartoons about giant robots, old sci-fi novels, and a really out there flavor of Christianity (Gnosticism specifically) into something that didn't come off as a spoof. Not to mention that weird 1960ish folk vibe, and an arbitrary ripoff of a character from Street Fighter 2, and the most interesting attack command to date. So, the side of me that likes innovation and overambitious weirdness loves it. This side also totally digs giant pink cute fluffy animals on the rampage... which comes up surprisingly often really.

Then there's the side of me that has a problem with really terrible pacing, slow text scrolls, things dragging on for too long, inspiring horrible trends, spending too much time on stuff that's quickly getting old, randomly fluctuating difficulty, and naked people running around a lot.

Both these sides meanwhile have no real problem with Vandal Hearts, aside from the rather nasty graphics... although I suppose it could have stood to benefit from a giant pink gerbil or two.





C L O S I N G
Googleshng:

Sorry about the freaky short column today kids. When you're getting ready to show things off at a convention, when you hit the last week or two before you leave, anything that could possibly trip you up happens at once. In my case, this includes but is not limitted to: Massive failures of e-mail, web, and file servers, family emergencies I'd just as soon not get into, communication breakdowns, early morning appointments, manufacturing delays, and for good measure, a couple people being forced to leave the country for obtuse reasons. By next week I should have most of the kinks worked out, leaving me free to answer questions about Xenosaga 2, yon new Capcommy Zelda, etc. etc. while finishing up some things I'm working on.

googleshng@rpgamer.com
googleshng@rpgamer.com


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