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Jeff Davis - June 05 '01- 3:10 Eastern Standard Time

Howdy kids, this is your friendly host Jeff Davis again. Here's day 1/2 of my stint. We got past with formalities yesterday, so I'd rather be brief here and move on to today's letters.

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Xenosaga

I'd like to point out a few things to GuruMagus from yesterday's column. Our good friend said the characters look "too anima for their own good". If I'm not mistaken, the character designer is the same as in Xenogears, and the characters from the first one looked just as "anima" as in Xenosaga, if not more. If the AGWS look like Gundam clones, then why didn't he say that the Gears look like Eva clones (or in the case of the Elements, Power Ranger clones)? Finally, why does he judge the game to be less than epic based solely on the screenshots? I'll admit, the game does look kind glazed over, but that doesn't mean the game will suck. The great games of the past (FF4, 6, CT) didn't have super-realistic graphics, but they're better than half of the games on the market today. Oh yeah, one quick question for the cat: is Lunar 2 worth playing before Grandia II?

~Casey Edwards~

and...

Hey (monks sing) J-D

Have you noticed on the Xenosaga pics that Shion looks like the love-child of Citan and Elly? Hopefully it won't have an annoying alien character nobody likes that happened in another episode 1. Post this or the cast of my origional idea "Sailor Monica" will get you. Some stories with them hopefully will come as soon as I hopefully get my own website.

Imperial Mog

JD:
I'll answer both as one, since they touch on a similar topic. As has been widely reported, Xenosaga shares numerous staffers as its predecessor. More notably however, Yasuki Honne, art director and Kunihiko Tanaka, character designer. So it really doesn't come as a surprise that there are some resembling designs. I will concur with you that it's way too early to tell, there are only a handful of screenshots that have surfaced. I highly doubt anyone can tell much about the game's good or ill features from such a limited view of the game. Personally from what I've seen, I'm quite impressed of Xenosaga.

You really can't go wrong with either Lunar 2 EBC and Grandia II, both rank in my top 5 RPGs of 2000.

 
PlayStation 2 bias?

So why is it that everyone who hosts this column has a grudge against the PS2? Yeah it's games aren't that great, but look at the great ones that are out now, and that are going to come out. Starfighter looks simply stunning, and I know it's going to be good because it's made by the same team that did Rogue Squadron. Zone of Enders, Dark Cloud. Games are going to be really great. What is the alternative system? DC? Don't make me laugh. The X-Box? Not a chance in hell. Gamecube has it's work cut out for it though I must admit. But if you really want the system that is going to have the most RPG's and original titles, it's going to be the PS2. So why is it that Goog and Chesh always act like an elephant seeing a mouse when they know they're going to buy one eventually anyway? It will be worth it, and they know it.

-Daeta

JD:
Until this point I have to agree with the consensus of PlayStation 2. Last year, Dreamcast was by far the superior machine in terms of quality games, yet the mainstream press heralded PS2 as if it were the second coming. PS2 while not horrid, was both overpriced and froth with mediocre titles, conversely Dreamcast had landmark title after landmark title, like Skies of Arcadia, Grandia 2, Shenmue, NFL2k1...to name a few. In that sense, I think the PS2 mocking was justified. And by the way, the Dreamcast still has some awesome titles lined up for this year. That said, I personally feel while PS2 has had some more of the same mediocre games so far, like the highly disappointing Bouncer and ZOE... However things are swiftly changing, with titles like GT3, Silent Hill 2, Devil May Cry, MGS2, VF4, and of course Final Fantasy X and Xenosaga -- PS2 is the system to beat this year. I'm really not completely sold on Gamecube of Xbox so far. While Gamecube has a great lineup that should put it self in contention for 2nd, aside from EA and Sega there weren't many 3rd party games shown during E3. N64, again? Perish the thought. I am choosing to purchase GC over Xbox, simply for Waverace and Zelda. As far as the Xbox, they didn't have the killer app they needed to oust Sony or Nintendo. Granted, DOA3, JSR Future, and Panzer Dragoon will be incredible, the latter two are to be released on other systems after the Xbox versions.

Speaking of mocking, I caught CNN's coverage of E3 and they highlighted what seemed to be their game of the show...Harry Potter for PS2. Looks like the mainstream press has it wrong again.

 
Phantasy Star Online

JD,

I read your GIA review of PSO and RPGamer's. How do you explain the different scores both sites gave, while both seem to reach similar views? Oh and if you care I'm now a Humar level 55.

-Cloudz

JD:
I think my colleagues at RPGamer and eslewhere pretty much reach semi-identical conclusions with PSO. Just a tip to other readers, I do recommend people read the text of reviews more, rather than the scores itself... Certainly, the major issues people had were camera and control related. But I strongly don't believe they were major enough to diminish the game's fun. Though I think to some extent reviewers need to be objective and somewhat dichotomizing, other factors do come into play. In PSO's case I took into account the sum of the parts rather than just the parts in themselves, as well as the all important fun factor, lastly its importance in being a breakthrough title.

I've played PSO with both said RPGamer reviewers who have both racked up close or over 100 hours of play time. I don't know about you, but the majority of people play great RPGs for 30-50 hrs, in PSO's case it speaks strongly of how fun and addicting it is when most of its gamers play 60-150 hours. Another point to take into account is the changing paradigm for consoles. Granted PSO isn't the best online RPG out there, but it is on the console. If I may analogize, when Dragon Quest was released on console it was hailed as one of the best RPGs of the time. But was it indeed? PC RPGs in many minds were much more sophisticated, yet that didn't seem to diminish Dragon Quest's importance or accomplishment. The same holds with Phantasy Star Online in my opinion.

 
QA&K

JD,

You and AK were my favorite RPGamer columnists. You two need to return, soon! Since you work with him at GIA, I want to know how is that wacky AK doing?

-Jackson

JD:
It's been fun working with, as you say, that wacky AK. Last time I saw him, he was commenting on having a perfect hair day, so I'm quite sure everything is fine in AK land. He is moving up in the world though, he was recently quoted in the Dallas Morning News about videogame music. Those who care, can read it here.

But more importantly, notice how the story highlights Ys music? If I may quote DMN's story speaking of Falcom's Ys, 'I still think it's one of the greatest soundtracks ever on a video game platform.' Why do I suddenly feel justified now that a mainstream article has justified my penchant for Falcom music? Go Falcom!

 
Star Ocean 2 an RPG of note, HA!

Whats up JD (which stands for Jabius [pronounced jay-be-us] Dude)? Trust me, being Jabius is a good thing. There's a guy in my class we call JJ, and if something is cool then its Jabius. You should be honored :) Anyways, If you dont post this could I at least get a personal response? I've asked Goog once or twice but i guess he didnt deem it important enough, but I really need an answer. My local EB has Star Ocean: The Second Story and Suikoden for $15 each. Which one should I get? I've heard great things about each one, but Enix made ST and is supposed to have a great story and replay value. Any ideas? Thanx.

JD:
First, Tri-Ace developed the game, Enix only published it. If that makes any difference. Frankly and I may be a little biased on this one, but I felt and still do Star Ocean 2 was about as deep as an Nsync song (Sorry Ug!). Which means, not very deep. SO2, while presents players with some pretty radical gameplay options and graphics, it is completely diminished by incredibly bad character and dungeon design, not to mention Tri-Ace seems to jettison the entire concept of character development and plotline involvement. The game builds its foundations on fetch quest after fetch quest and if I recall correctly had only two semi-notable story scenes in the entire disc 1. Oh, but Motoi Sakuraba's music is indeed amazing. I'd personally get the SO2 album, then go pick up Suikoden 1 and 2 (great games in their own right).

 
Ys

Hey JD!
Coupla questions for ya. What do you think of this: Remakes of all the Ys games on the PS2? I don't have a PS2, but I would get one for that. One more. In Ys 4, (Mask of the Sun) Where do you go after you leave that tree village? I keep getting lost.

Well, that's it. Hopefully you'll print this. Ja ne.

~Joey~

JD:
No idea could possibly be more pleasing than the thought of all the Ys games in one disc, whilst displaying the graphical prowess of a next-generation system. Unfortunately, Falcom seems content with their Japanese PC strategy by releasing (or is that re-re-rereleasing), Ys I and II Eternal with the upcoming Ys Complete package.

Though I played Dawn of Ys, I expect they should be similar enough. Go west of the village and follow the path. If that doesn't work, check out the Mask fo the Sun FAQ.

 
More Falcom!

Let's see just what kind of obscure Falcom trivia you can dig up. Remember an old NES game called Faxanadu? I'm pretty sure that it was made by Falcom, and that it was part of one of their series, but I can't think of which one. I used to know, but I've forgotten.. And despite that Xanadu would be the obvious choice, I don't think it was that. Do you have any idea?

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but the NES game Legacy of the Wizard is actually Dragon Slayer 4, right? I'm just checking on that one.

Wrapping things up, do you know how much kanji there is in Ys 4: The Dawn of Ys? Starting this fall I'll be taking courses in Japanese, and I imagine the amount of kanji will directly affect how easily I can play the game (which I do already have, lucky me)....

P. J. Reed

JD:
Looks like you answered all your own questions. Faxanadu and Legacy of the Wizard (DS4) were both indeed developed by falcom and published by Hudson and Broderbund, respectively. Both were standout NES titles for their time, but I especially have a close affinity for LotW, as it easily ranks with the best NES games like Zelda, Metroid, Mario, Kid Icarus, FF and DQ.

As for Ys 4: The Dawn of Ys, I don't understand nor read Japanese, and I was able to complete the game, and more importantly enjoy the game.

 
Last, I promise...

Hello

Have you played any Falcom RPGs other than the Ys series? Like Dragon Slayer or Legend of Xanadu? LoX is really cool.

-Bill

JD:
Of course I have, I think I've played and beaten as many RPGs as any 'hardcore rpg player,' if I may say so humbly. Sorry goog, I beat ya! I've played every Ys game, of course, Dragon Slayer: 4 (LotW),5 (Sorcerian), LoX 1 and 2, Lengend of Heroes 1,2,3,5 and Falcom Classics I and II. But Ys I and II for the Turbo CD/Duo still stands as their single and most important achievement. It was a huge paradigm shift for the time, and certainly worth any RPG gamers' attention.

 
Blinky blink screen thing

JD DUDE!!!

I have 2 questions for ya bro. 1st question....Does Nintendo still make the game machines for the regular nintendo system & Super Nintendo system? I still have games for both those platforms but my SNES is on the fritz. My regular Nintendo still works but it's hard to get it started...you know...that blinky blinky screen thingy. HA. 2nd Question (if you answered yes to the 1st)...... WHERE THE HELL CAN I FIND ONE?? Of course I can't find one in any of the game stores. (if it ain't the playstation or dreamcast stuff you ask them about...all you'll get in return for an answer is a blank stare and a phrase "not sure".) HELP ME OH GOD OF POWER!!!

Starwarriors

JD:
Your best option is to go have both fixed via Nintendo. Thankfully the company still retains their repair service. You can find more information at Nintendo Repair Options or the customer service section of the site. It really is a better option than buying one, as you stated; the older systems aren't really exactly Nintendo's top concern with respect to new manufactures -- hence any that you'd buy via Ebay or other sites might give you trouble again down the line.

 
Top 5

Hey JD!

It's great to see you back hosting the column, if not only briefly. What are your 5 favorite RPG/adventure games and videogame soundtracks from 2000? I personally think WA2's is tops!

Mitch

JD:
I'd like to exercise brevity, if I may. RPGs: Skies of Arcadia, Shenmue, Grandia II, Final Fantasy IX, Lunar 2 EBC. Soundtracks: Shenmue, Kessen, Grandia 2, Skies of Arcadia, Lunar 2 EBC bonus soundtrack, and of course Wild Arms 2. That's 6 but who's counting?


Closing Thoughts:

Tomorrow's my last day as host so I'll let you all decide on the topic. But before I go I'll leave you all my picture of the day...an enduring moment from the recent E3. GIA and RPGamer call a truce, for a few moments anyway...

I wonder why AV's TV is off ;)
Mikel (RPGamer) in the background, Andrew (GIA) in the foreground


Jeff Davis



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