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ASK REXY & MATT
Tyrannosaurus Rexy March 11, 2006

Rexy - 01:09 EST

BEEFEATER HAT? CHECK. Cricket bat? Check. A random Shakespeare play? Double check. But for the love of Cliff Richard, why can't I find my Union Jack t-shirt?

Anyway, how do you do? I hope you've had or will have fish n' chips tonight, because for one column only you will have your resident Canadian slime pairing up with a British fossil. And it's alive, I tells ya; ALIVE!

Before I get started, it's been a great run participating in SOCK for the past couple of months or so, and so it's shown to be an honour to reach one of the elusive guest slots. I don't even know if I can get there again considering University work - namely IT and Music Technology - is steadily starting to need me more, but whichever happens, we can look back at the leader board and say that some random wanderer from Sound Test came, saw and conquered.

But enough basking in the current moment; let's have some of you, the QnA readers, step up front and pose some questions to us. Don't forget to wear your Churchill badges with pride...





L E T T E R S
Final Fantasy Frenzy!


Dear Matt,


Rexy

Actually, Matt's not here right now. I think he's on the phone talking to Diane or something, so I'll take his cue for the time being.

I usually just read the column but I thought this was big enough news to write to you.

As I was looking through some of the news in GameSpot.com, I came across an interesting article... The title of the article is "FF12 Gets Perfect Score From Famitsu". I saw this and it made my depressing day into the best day of my life. The franchise might not be dead after all. I'm really happy about this (maybe a little too happy). I was one of many who played the demo and was a little turned off with the new battle system. But I think this might have converted me into actually anticipating FF12.

So, my question is how do you feel about FF12 getting a 40/40? Do you think other critics will be as generous? Do you think casual RPGamers will change their views on FF12? Do you think people would still buy it even if it wasn't a perfect score?

Xavier
(I think it's about time my name showed up in a video game lol)


Rexy

There's a Xavier in Eternal Champions on the Genesis if you're interested. You can play 2D fighters, can you?

But nonetheless, I can't say I'm the biggest reader of Famitsu for obvious reasons (hint hint - I'm Japanese illiterate), and waiting for the demo to reach British waters is taking longer than Mattís hair growth rate, but considering that it's only one of six titles with that elusive 40/40 score I find it to be rather surprising. I read that people trusted the magazine with their scores and thus have seen overall enthusiasm with the game on a rise, so I take from their words that there will be great things to come from the title.

Thinking about those other critics however, I've seen a wide range of games get some scores that don't quite match those of others. Let's look at Zelda: Ocarina of Time, another one of those past 40/40 titles; at the time of this column it has the highest average score on GameRankings, but I saw that while most of the scores were heading in the 90-100 range, there were three that placed it within the 80s. So I have a hunch that in spite of the Famitsu ranking, there may still be some people that could be over-critical on the game.

However, from what I've learnt, I see scores as a good starting point but I don't let them determine how I would enjoy the game overall. It takes me back to the time when I frequently read the Official UK PlayStation Magazine, where there were actually quite a few perfect scores near the turn of the millennium. But in all honesty, it's about the personal enjoyment of the game that matters; I mean I can enjoy playing an epic title from the Final Fantasy series just as much as more simplistic affairs like Parappa the Rapper or something like that. So yes, even if a game isn't deemed perfect by the most trained gaming specialists around, I still advise that people would buy them if they want a gaming experience to remember.

Going towards the casual RPG player collective, either some gamers will change views now that the Famitsu score is here, or they may have to wait to play it themselves to believe it. There may still be the usual anti-FF movements that float around, but regardless of what will happen I'm expecting a good turnout when the game reaches the English speaking market.



PS2 used the SMOOTH ability! Graphics went up by 256!


Hi Matt,

I read your question about the ďSmoothĒ option for playing a PS1 game on a PS2 and wanted to answer it. The ďsmoothĒ option will bilinear filter the textures in the game. Bilinear filtering is process of blending the colors of neighboring pixels on a texture together. Bilinear filtering was the main graphical difference between the PS1 and N64. Itís why on the PS1 (which did not have bilinear filtering) you could see individual pixels in a texture, whereas on the N64 (which had bilinear filtering) you got a texture where the pixels were blended into each other which looked somewhat blurry. All consoles since the PS1 have used bilinear filtering. The following Tomb Raider screenshots should clarify what I mean:

Without bilinear filtering: Ooooh!

With bilinear filtering: Ahhhh!


Matt

Whoo, shinies. Not many people include graphics with their letters these days. Anyway, it's an interesting and noticeable explanation, especially when you talk about the N64- come to think of it, there were a great many surfaces that looked completely out of focus once you got up-close and personal with them.

Basically thatís all the smoothing option does. The games still run in the same resolution and the graphics are not otherwise improved. Youíd still be able to visibly see screen pixels because the game still only runs 320x240, but you wonít be able to see individual pixels within textures (if youíre curious these are technically called texels)

Most modern PS1 emulators have the ability to bilinear filter so with the PS2 smoothing option on the games look similar to what theyíd look like on a PC emulator, except that most PC emulators can also run in higher resolutions while with the PS2 youíre stuck at the jaggy 320x240 of the original.

In the context of the FF games, the benefit mainly comes with the fully 3D battle scenes. The pre-rendered field backgrounds are not smoothed out because theyíre not technically textures (theyíre just plain old images since theyíre not applied to a polygon), though the 3D characters in the field screens are smoothed.

Thanks,

-Steve


Matt

Very interesting! Thanks for the insight into the techish side of graphics, Steve. That's knowledge that I don't really have, so I depend on people like you for the answers. I guess, doing imaging-related work for my graduate studies, the methodology kinda makes intuitive sense. I really must give this a try!



Disgruntled old fogeys: Read!


Dear I Am That Is (minus a few letters)

Yesterday....all my games seemed much more fun to play. I wish the new games would go away... Oh I believe...in yestergames...


Rexy

Suddenly, SEGAís half the corp it used to be, thereís a Sony hanging over me, oh, yestergames came suddenly...

Okay, thanks for the brief karaoke moment. God bless John Lennon and co.

Back in my day, games didn't need to be 364-bit cell-shaded wonders to be fun! Polygons, shmolygons! We also walked uphill to school both ways. In the snow! Without shoes!

Matt

You sound so much like Cranky Kong, I'm suddenly filled with a strong urge to play my favourite sexy-monkey game.

Rexy

Tell me about it; Iíve had to sleep on a hay stack, and may I tell you that the nights were freezing cold!

Honestly, I think the growing trend of "old games were better then new ones" indicates just how old the first generations of gamers are getting. It's quite silly. Of course there were many great RPGs out there...let's go oldschool indeed and look at Adventure. My little square knight could kick Cloud's bishounen behind any day! But in all seriousness, many of the "nostalgia" gamers, as anyone with that particular dreaded mental illness often do; are looking at the world through rosy lenses. Back in the "heyday" of video games (the 80s and early 90s), there were thousands of games released that were absolute junk.

Rexy

I didnít get too involved with gaming until the days of the Genesis, but nonetheless, this is an interesting new light on the old school vs. new school debacle. Iím actually cool with wanting to explore the game settings on both ends of the age scale, and likewise, they both share similarities to one another. Like you said, there were some great games and some that didnít even try to look good, especially in the days of the Commodore range when computer games were mass produced constantly without any indication of quality. Some of the games of today however do in fact show some creative spark in the gameplay when required, and I think thatís been shown ever since 3D was first applied onto the systems, breaking ground to many new subgenres of RPG (tactical, action-based, online, etc) as a result.

On the other hand, I still think the people who prefer the elder games have their points to make too relating to character development, the gameplay engine and the general appeal to them. For instance, Iím probably the only one who thinks that the Final Fantasy series in particular felt more presentable Ė and in most cases, faster Ė with the original sprite based battle systems over recent renders. That put me off FFVIII in particular when I first approached it.

The only real differences between today and yesterday (aside from obvious technological advances) are two.

One is that there quite simply is a larger market in the US for video games now then back then. Thus, there are more game companies vying for our attention. Thus, more games. Thus, the higher number of "bad" games, and the harder the industry has to work to compete. Someone pumps out a titles like "God of War" or "Final Fantasy whichever" and the rest of the market looks pale in comparison.

Rexy

I understand that reason, but I donít think it looks bad on the account of the elder titles. All it told me was that the market started out as a relatively smaller business than it is today, thus fewer gamers. That shouldnít necessarily mean todayís market shouldnít looking into elder songs; thatís like school children not getting any exposure to any elder music, like Queen or Led Zeppelin or something like that. Some of us are still interested in seeing how gaming has been developing since then.

The second is marketing. Back in the day, we didn't have IGN, Gamespot, 1up, RPGamer, and the like. We had some resources, but mostly those involved paper hags you had to go out and buy. TV ads, billboards, websites..those things simply didn't happen.

Rexy

I didnít get many magazines while dealing with the 8-16 bit consoles we had, as back then my moral was "if it looks good Iíll play it". And as a result my Gameboy/Genesis collections consist of part "cool" and part "what". We did end up with a few "paper hags" though, but all I did with them as far as I know was looking for cheats on games that I already own.

I donít even know if there were any TV ads prior to the arrival of the Genesis, but I definitely remember seeing plenty of ads for that console when I was a kid.

Today, a good 90% or more of games released for the PS2 here in the US have some kind of marketing blitz behind them. So, you hear about almost every game that comes out, good or bad. Back then, you didn't hear about the stinkers, because their companies didn't put much out to the media. So we heard about only the best games, whereas today, we hear about nearly everything.

Rexy

Yeah, this added marketing today does help the situation, but the main part of the purchase still remains; is the audience interested on wanting to get the game? And if so, would they like it? Itís realised that not everyone will see instant appeal to Final Fantasy or other highly marketed games, and there would be a good amount of people that would discover something thatís barely been picked up on and are more demanding for that over the choice of the Media enterprises of today. Itís all down to whatever path they follow, whether it's instinct or word of mouth or a totally different urge altogether.

In short, I don't think personally that games yesterday were truthfully any better then today. It's all a matter of perspective, and us oldtimers are living in the past.

~Terr

Rexy

While your statement sounds true enough, I do show some light concern for the people that read this and think that you were saying that more recent games are better than the elder ones. But that could probably be me or something like that. Regardless, thanks for sharing your opinion with us Terr, and I feel this could spark a broad discussion on this in the coming week or so.

Matt, do you have anything to add to this?

Matt

Bring on the debate! I dunno if I'd agree that 90% of games released today get broad attention, because it seems that the games getting the most attention in the world today are anything BUT RPGs, except where Final Fantasy is concerned. It's easier, of course, for RPGamers to hear the latest about new titles with the internet now on our side. I don't think that we're necessarily living in the past; it's just that we are able to appreciate it more than some others. While I love the games of the 80s and 90s, there's a reason that I work here NOW... there are a million titles I'm looking forward to, personally!



A limit, broken? A threshold passed?


Hey Matt,

How's it goin', man? I'm good. I'm getting over the flu though, so I haven't played many games as of late.


Matt

Hello, and thanks! I'm doing just fine. March is always busy for school, even if you're only taking one or two courses, as I've learned. The weeks are flying by and the Tetris blocks of work are piling up towards the ceiling that is the horrible due date of the end of the month. Before I can get to any of it, though, mark papers I must! Alas...

I wanted to write in to discuss the topic of Persona 3 with you.
Now Matt, I'm not certain how much you know of the Shin Megami Tensei series, in particular the Persona spin-offs. I own both Persona games, and have at one point owned Nocturne and the first Digital Devil Saga. All of which were good games, but I find myself with an affinity to Persona above the rest of the series. Shin Megami Tensei seems to push several boundries, from the concept of religion and schools of thought, to violence, to cannabalism.

Matt

I've heard bits and pieces from here and there, and I get semiregular blips from my brother, too, who has played both Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga, so I'm at least familiar with the series on a very basic level. I'm certainly familiar enough to know that there is a good reason for the M-rating, anyway.

Now for the touchy part of the letter, and my question. I watched the movie for Persona 3 and noticed that it seems to deal a lot with suicide. Not only in the anime sequences, but it appears that one of the characters the player controls (I think he's the lead) puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger when he summons his Persona.

Matt

Yikes. That's disturbing.

Matt, I'm not entirely against M-rated games. If it has a good story, and is fun to play, I generally don't care what it's rated. When I saw the movie for Persona 3 though, I have to say it kinda creeped me out. I realize it is just a game but, don't you think that something like this pushes the limits just a bit? I was telling my Mom about it, because she actually likes Persona too, and she was taken aback. I don't know if Atlus will 'port this one. If they do, I'll buy it and play it, and be creeped out, because I love Persona. If they don't though...I won't be a bit surprised. What do you think Matt? Is it just too edgy for it's own good? Thanks as always.

~Donovan


Matt

This is a difficult topic, right? I mean, while suicide has occurred often in past RPGs, for a game like this it's much darker and more graphic than usual. The M-rating, though, covers it, I think, for the same reason that an R-rating covers the same sort of thing in the movies. The idea of killing one's self is chilling to me, and it makes me shudder when I see it in films, but I think that that's part of the intended effect, isn't it? It's SUPPOSED to be shocking and terrible. I don't know if this goes over the line for that reason.

On the other hand, how do you feel about scenes of suicide in movies? I just watched the Shawshank Redemption last week for the first time, and it was a great movie that contained more than one such scene! While it's a heavy issue, it can also be very effective at conveying emotions. I'm not sure that suicide is crossing the line any more than just plain ol' run-of-the-mill killing is, in the end.

Does this make any sense? I'm not sure; I hope I don't seem too insensitive or uncautious about the subject, and I certainly don't want to offend anyone who might think differently about it!



Mmmm... strawberry eggs again!


Hi Matt. 'Tis I, odd one Strawberry Eggs! XD

Rexy

Why hello there! For a piece of poultry you sound fruity, so how about I see what you have to say, hm?

So why do I feel compelled to write in again? Well it seems RPG dreams have come up in the latest columns and what do you know, if I don't have a dream with some reference to anime, I'll have a dream with some RPG (or other games) factor. Like any dream they rarely make sense and I don't quite remember every detail (who ever does :P).

Rexy

Likewise, whenever I get obsessed with something Ė usually a game or a movie, or in a few cases, a real life event - I'd constantly dream over it. I think in the past month I've had more Katamari rolling dreams than anything else, the most notorious one being trying to bring the contents of my college around that compact rubber sponge!

I recall one time I was having tea with the Pokemon Latias, Goombell a from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (whose voice sounded an awful lot like my younger sister) and anime characters you may not recognize. There was also some dream involving the Seiken Densetsu series and two trees (one of them was the tree of Tales of Symphonia I think). Somehow Myao from Phantasy Star 1 was in it too. The most linear one I can recall involved Phantasy Star Online and Tales of Symphonia. I was dressed up as my PSO character and my teammates were Lloyd dressed up as a Hunter, Colette wearing the outfit she does in ToS and a character form an anime called Magic User's Club named Sae, who was a Force. We fought the Dragon Boss and during the battle Lloyd was knocked unconscious. Sae thought he was killed and used Reverser, which brought the dragon back to life . oO Perhaps not surprisingly, it was thanks to that dream and some playing around with PSO's character creation system that inspired me to write a fanfic adaptation of PSO, except instead of your own character their replaced with ToS characters (no Sae though XP).

Rexy

Yeah, dreams may be strange little things but for me, they tell a story and give me ideas to make something creative out of it, like you with that fanfiction of yours. Some of my own musical ideas were stemmed out from dreams like that, even though there werenít many that finally came to practice.

Since you mentioned stuff like RPG related dreams, itís only appropriate that I share one of mine for the column. Given how bad my memory is and/or how few of these types of dreams I have, I believe the closest I would ever get is going through a real life version of Pokemon Gold/Silver, but instead of using characters like Marill, Chikorita, Totodile, etc to prevail, they were replaced by other game characters and/or people I knew. If you can imagine something like Solid Snake posing as a Cyndaquil, then you can be sure to know where I'm coming from with this. It didn't steam enough ideas for any fanfiction though, upsettingly enough.

Another one that wasnít directly related to RPGS but acted like one was having similar characters but living life like a season of Friends and riding around on roller skates all the time. I donít think some of the elders liked it very much, but the thought of them trying to use those kinds of shoes still makes me smirk every now and again.

Well anyway as you can see, RPGs plague my dream even though I'm probably no where near a "hardcore" gamer as others. Then again I have the tendency to obsess over things, which is why my dreams also often have anime or manga in it.

Rexy

Like I said earlier, it's all about the obsession. While I do fiddle around with various RPGs in my time, there are still some out there that I'd only relate to its music (for obvious reasons), so I also fit in your boat if you know what I mean.

I'll end this with a quick question: Which RPG (or game in general) have you re-played over and over the most without getting bored? For me that would have to be the original Paper Mario. There's something about it, but I never got tired of playing it over and over, at least until I got the GameCube. I would replay it if my sister hadn't traded in the N64 and every game behind my back! *Sobs* There's always PM: TTYD I suppose...

-Strawberry Eggs


Matt

That's terrible!! If a sibling ever did that to me, I'd...!!

*Matt restrains himself*

Rexy

I wish I can associate on Paper Mario, but aside from handhelds I haven't owned any of their consoles, so I can't link there.

Still, there are actually a few games that fall under that category for me. I can say Pokemon can count; I remember having to trade with my brother constantly to gain various monsters from the other game, which makes a good incentive that way, but because of varying factors like the three Pokemon you choose from to start with and the varying evolutions of Eevee, one of us had to keep restarting until we have those requirements. Nonetheless, it's been felt that whichever you start off with can provide a new experience, especially when taking the challenge of raising a Charmander all the way to Pewter City. Good times.

Another game that can be referred in this category is Phantasy Star III; I understand that some veterans weren't too impressed with this game but I found the generational setup to be rather interesting, and the marriage decisions give you enough incentive to play some of the other storylines and see what happens when you propose to other women. I did find out though that there wasn't much difference within the third generation storylines, but I do like the little details that have been added down the line.

Kingdom Hearts is a more flexible mention here as well, thanks to the Awakening sequence at the start. Think about it; choosing the power you favour (and in turn the order of the abilities you get), the power you reject and the speed of your levelling up would offer many different ways of powering up to think more about how to get past certain parts of the game. Then again I might be saying this because of the ridiculous waiting time between the American release of Kingdom Hearts II and its arrival in PAL territories. Damn you Square Enix!



A Mag-netic look at females in RPGs!


Greetings again!

You know, I can't help but keep poking my nose in 'sensitive' subjects dealing with gaming (i.e. violence issues, gender issues, console favoritism issues, etc.) I guess I just love the ol' proverbial soapbox.

Matt

Uwee, hee, hee... don't we all? My personal favourite was the kind with those scrubbing bubbles; those guys are awesome. Oh, or were you talking about a different kind of soapbox? I never can tell these days.

So, female lead characters in RPGs or lack thereof... You know I never really thought of it long and hard, but I guess you're right, it would be easier for a 'male market' to identify with a male main character. As a rather annoying gamer magazine used to like to rub into its reader's faces, it's demographics were 95% male. Though I believe the balance for male to female gamers is more equal these days as opposed to the days of yore. Same as the balance between female mathematicians, programmers, and other math/science fields of choice. Probably more along the lines of 60/40 or at worst 70/30.

Matt

Yep, that sounds about right. I think that the ratio falls somewhere in that range for the math department here at Guelph; I'm pretty sure the spread is about 90/10 in computer programming, though. One has to wonder if it does have a little something to do with what genders are "inherently good at", you know? Left-brainedness versus right-brainedness, and all that jazz? Maybe that's a misconception that's been disproven; I'm not really sure. Where's that psychologist writer-inner from last week when you need him?

But, did you ever notice that a lot of the strong or even plot imperative characters in an RPG are female? I mean like Tera, the hope for human/esper coexistence, or KOS-MOS, android fitted to destroy the Gnosis, or even Rydia, last Summoner of Mist and saver of a** at one point. I realize that they are technically not the hero, but hey, you couldn't complete the game without them, now could you?

Matt

Nope nope, you're absolutely right! Honestly, too, the coolest characters in the Final Fantasy series at least have been female as well. For me, Rydia, Celes, Aeris, Quistis, Freya, Lulu... they're all the best. I dunno, maybe I'm looking at it from a weird angle, but I really don't NOT like any of the female characters (...with the possible exception of Yuffie; she's boring and stupid, as far as I'm concerned. Rinoa's also annoying, but mostly just because she has the hots for Squall, to which I say "BACK OFF, BITCH!")

So, I guess what I'm getting at is I'm never really bothered by being short changed out of leading lady RPG characters, because it's not like they are conspicuously absent either.

Matt

True, and in Final Fantasy V, there's a majority of them! It's funny how it always comes back to Final Fantasy; I guess those games are just the easiest examples to relate to, since most everyone has played many/most of them. Plus, I can't really think of any other examples, in this case. Bah, shoot me for being a fanboy if you will.

What does irk me about females in video games in general, and in RPGs like Magna Carta and so forth, is the stereotypical busty babe image whose only aspiration is to take after Dolly Parton or Pamela Anderson. That's their prerogative, and they are welcome to it, but you won't catch me seeking those games out. </typical rant>

Soapbox is free again if anyone wants one!


Matt

It's true that RPG girls are always larger than life in certain ways and unreasonably tiny in others. There are a few games with hefty GUY characters, of course, but with girls, you're generally right- they have some sort of flesh exposed on their midsections somewhere, sometimes for large areas, with giant breasts hanging out and unrealistically-bare legs. It's not like you see guys in games running around in revealing attire of any sort, so of course, the conclusion is that BECAUSE a huge majority of the gaming community is male, "teh nudeness of teh girlz" will be most cool. I dunno, Mag... it's a bit unfortunate, to be sure, but there's no escaping it.

OH, right, I was going to mention that that's one thing I really like about Wild Arms: Alter Code F (and presumably, the original too). Cecilia is actually a "realistic" person who dresses practically and makes no secret of her desire to eat lots of food. Kudos to the makers of the game for dressing her in a nice blue sweater instead of an ultradeluxe brassiere.

Oh yes, addressing this to the comment about old SNES RPG carts going for $100+ and the possibility of the prices to drop if the Revolution comes through on its promise of Rom goodness. All I can say is sweet! If people sell back their old carts because they'll be downloading the latest, legal Roms, I'm going to be in cheap cart heaven! I prefer the carts to Roms, but I guess I'm just a traditionalist; just love those brick like controllers. How about you, which would you like better, the Rom or the original cart copy of a game?

Don't get me wrong, I'll be all over Roms too. More games! More games! Yeay!

Somebody take the Soapbox please it's getting me in trouble!
MagRowan


Matt

I'd almost be more confident with a ROM-version, sadly, by this point in time. My NES is over fifteen years old now, and it's not as reliable as it used to be; that's for sure. I can't guarantee that it'll be alive for much longer-- heck, I haven't even tried it out in well over a year; it might be dead already. Ideally, a new console would be available for cheap, because there IS a certain special something about having the carts, but I guess you do the best you can! I'll be rooting for you either way, though, because if you get cheap carts, that means that I'll get my legal downloads!



Girls, girls, girls.


Dear Matt/Rexy

I, too, wish that there are more RPGs (and games in general) with female leads. And I'm not talking about the Tomb Raider/Bloodrayne/FFX-2 types, but female leads that are actually likable and that we can enjoy playing as.


Rexy

Welcome to the male gamer market, where all manly needs are at a price you canít refuse. I too find it difficult to find games with those kind of female leads; itís making the opposite gender think ďless clothes = better personalityĒ. As a chick myself Iím not much of a person to expose big portions of my flesh for sex appeal, so with that being said youíre not alone in the matter.

The only RPG in my collection with a female protagonist is the original Phantasy Star. Well, I do have games like Diablo and Star Wars KOTOR which can let you choose to be female, but the choice makes no bearing on the story at all, so it's just a cosmetic choice (I also almost got Valkyrie Profile at one point, curse my past stupidity...).

Rexy

Aw man, Phantasy Star; thatís actually on my ďmust play almost immediatelyĒ list after going through PSIII last Christmas. The idea of a sword wielding warrior/princess that looks/acts nothing like Xena actually appeals to me for some reason.

I too feel that the chance to use female leads in RPGs is also very low, but there are things that are being done to help that. I know that later Pokemon games (mainly those from Crystal onwards) are including that option, but I havenít played many of those to be certain. I also saw that Dragon Warrior 3 and 4 included that option, which was well worth the move. I just wish DW3ís female character option didnít have a sprite that looked exactly like the maleís and had a few occasions when she was referenced as a ďheĒ for some odd reason.

Oh, before we forgetÖ what about Terra??

Actually, I DO consider Terra to be the main character of FFVI. Plot-wise, she's the most important character, and her background story and character are the most-developed out of the entire cast. Whenever I have doubts about this (mostly coming from other people), I just simply recall the ending of the game. Watching the ending sequence definitely makes it slightly less debatable that Terra is indeed the main character of FFVI.

Rexy

Naturally, the way I see it is that by the time you reach the final boss, the character that you have had nearest to the beginning of the game Ė if not the one you start off with - is classified as the main character.. I see that as enough logic as Terra to be the lead in the game, in spite of having a few moments of her own when she becomes unplayable (for example when she resides in Zozo as an Esper, and the first few hours within the World of Ruin). But I have to agree that she has a deeper back-story than some of the other characters, even though much of them were interesting to me in their own right. I just wish I saw Gogoís face, but thatís better saved for another day.

I thought the choice to make Celes the first controllable character in the World of Ruin was to give Cid one last moment to appear in the game, and Celes is the character with the closest relationship with Cid. I assumed that Square decided early on that Cid was to find you, and that a sequence with Cid and Celes would be the most touching to start off the World of Ruin chapter of the game. That's what I like to think, anyway. Those who don't think of Terra as the main character tend to give that title to Celes instead because of this, or maybe because of the opera scene. But even if that's so, then think of it this way: FFVI has TWO of the most-liked female RPG characters! (I liked Relm a lot, too) This is a stark contrast to other games in the series where the important female character is the stereotypical "love interest." Just another reason why FFVI is such a special FF title.

Rexy

The World of Ruin had a very touching set of events prior to finding the Falcon that made me cry on my first play through, and that is something I can agree on. Heck, even its overworld music was terrifying to me when wondering around its map for the first few times. So the sequence with Cid and Celes can be agreed to make that portion in the game show more emotion unless you actually wanted him to live. I donít know if this turn of events would either put some people off videogames because of certain fears of death Ė especially suicide Ė or want to replay to get to know the character better before their on-screen demise again, but whichever happens I still donít think I could find a more powerful moment in 16-bit gaming.

Concerning Celesís role as a possible main character during that phase and the opera scene, I know she has a close link to Terra having resided in the Empire with her but the closest I see with her is the development of a second love interest with Locke, whom I think is higher up the hierarchy as far as FFVIís story is concerned. That doesnít make her a lower character personality-wise, because as you cleanly stated, the female characters in that game have been designed to be equally likeable by all.

Again, the thought on wanting dominant women that serve purposes other than being a love interest and/or male eye candy is seconded. Iím secretly hoping that would be applied to FFXII, so fingers crossed on that one.

Matt

Actually, it's "thirded"! There's no reason that strong female characters shouldn't be a part of any RPG to an equal extent as male characters. There's also no reason that female characters should be portrayed as only a "look, boobs!" character. I was really worried that Jessica from DQVIII would be one of those, until I heard her wonderful voice actress and my fears were dispelled. Yeah, though: UNTIL we see "look, hot packages!" male characters, I'm totally against this one-sided sexual sort of bias.

Also, an ability that I would like to see in more games is an attack like Toxic in Pokemon. You know, how it starts as simple poison, but then deals twice the damage with each successive turn. I wrecked havoc on a lot of boss battles, except for those that were immune or could heal themselves (Mewtwo, XP).

Rexy

Toxic was a good spell, I can admit, and now that you described it in closer detail there could be thoughts that its fits on the fine line between poison and instant death. I think the only reasons why it hasnít necessarily been transferred to other RPGs are either that they risk stealing something freshly developed from the minds of HAL Labs, or that the original Toxic spell must have had some complex code to begin with. But what can I say? Iím not much of a computer programmer, so this thought can only ensure speculation.

Finally, a question for Matt: have you ever gotten that chance to play Planetscape: Torment?

Alan


Rexy

Matt, are you finished with the phone yet? You have a death threat Ė I mean, question!

Matt

Yep, and my ear has that sweaty/itchy/ouchy feeling that you get after you talk for way too long. I guess you first wrote in about Planescape last fall (right?) back when I had my unsuccessful campaign to try and get people to write in recommending PC games; there must not be many PC-gaming Q&A readers, unfortunately, unless they all just don't like writing in.

Anyway, I've figured that with my serious backlog in play and many more games to come, I just can't go out of my way to pick up Planescape. Maybe, one day, if I see it for really cheap on a bargain shelf or something, I'll pick it up, but time limitations alone are going to put a serious wrench into matters, I'm afraid. We shall see! Anything could happen, I suppose, and at the very least, I now have knowledge into a PC game that someone actually recommended to me, in case someone else asks one day. For that, I must thank you.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

And so we conclude one of the longest columns in recent history, as far as I can remember. Thanks so much, Rexy, for your help! You've done splendidly, and lent some much-needed femaleness to this male-dominated Q&A column. It's good to have a different perspective from time to time!!

I'm all set for the weekend, thankfully; my marking is finished, and I'm in a decently good mood. I might even get to play some Wild Arms tomorrow, if I'm lucky.

Flashay!


Yesterday's questions were, well, quite interesting to say the least. #135 asked about my simian RPG lusts as a hormone-filled teenager. While Donkey was full of muscle, he just looked a bit too stupid. Wow, though; d) Funky Kong was ridiculously dreamy to me for some reason. I especially remember him tossing his hammer up into the air in DKC3 in a certain way that made my insides twitch. What an odd, odd subject; let's change it right now, after I give people 140 points for getting it right.

#136 is another interesting one, and it might not have the answer that you would think at first glance. A lot of you said a) White, which seems very plausible. It's not right, though: The three princesses you can control are Garnet from Final Fantasy IX, and Reina + Faris from Final Fantasy V. Urm, WAIT! There are four, aren't there? Cara is also a princess, damn it. Let me check, here. Tum, te teee.... okay, everything is fine.

So yeah, anyway: Cara wears purple and pink. Faris wears blue and green. Reina wears orange and blue. Garnet wears orange and white. As you can see, the only one on that appears on the list more than once is b) Orange, for 100 points. Yeah, I didn't indicate how many points this one was worth yesterday, so I made it something round and random.

Before I forget, the latest tilde-obtainer is BigWook, who passed the magical number of 800 with yesterday's correct answers to sit in fifteenth position with 898 points! Funny, he JUST sent in an e-mail asking to display all of the ranks. Maybe I'll do that next week sometime. Anyway, for now, you get one shiny tilde:

~


Question #137:
Ask Rexy!-->In an SNES RPG, which Beatles-related entity is used as a decor within a tower in the middle of the desert? (125 points)

a) Eleanor Rigby
b) Paperback Writer
c) Yellow Submarine
d) Magical Mystery Tour
e) Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Question #138:
Consider the sequence: 1, 4, 3, -1, ...

What comes next? (125 points)

a) 4
b) 2
c) 0
d) -2
e) -4


Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):

800 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
2,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (2 remaining!)
5,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #3 (5 remaining!)


That about wraps up the week! I hope you've enjoyed all of the topics we've covered lately. From violence in video games, to equal representation of women, to the subconscious of gamers, this column is proof that there is no end of things to talk about here at RPGamer! I wish you all a very happy weekend, and I'll be back next week to bring you more of the ever-present Q&A. Bye, my friends!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is officially zonked!


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ZONK: To feel like falling flat on one's (own) face.

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