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ASK ERIKA & MATT
Bittersweet April 20, 2006

Erika Wolfraven - 20:51 EST

WELL HELLO THERE! Today's column is brought to you by myself, Erika Wolfraven-- yet another Canadian. Is it just my imagination or are we greatly over represented on Q&A? Either way I'm not complaining. We're secretly planning to take over the world, you know. But if anyone asks, you didn't hear it from me...

By the way, while I'm here I thought I'd ask... I seem to have lost a day from this past weekend. Has anyone seen it lying around? It may have been eaten by Radiata Stories. A four day weekend and I managed to spend a quarter of it-- literally twenty-four out of ninety-six hours-- on that one game. Where's that link to gamers anonymous again? Oh well now that I've admitted I have a problem I can get help right? Or I could just answers questions about video games instead. I don't have a problem. I can quit anytime! Really I can!




L E T T E R S
You know? I'm bad! I'm bad! You know it.


Hey Matt,


Erika

Matt's not here right now. Please leave a message at the sound of the beep. *BEEP*

You might not know this about me, but I love to make lists. My wife and I do it all the time, and I just thought of a good one.

Ok, most of my favorite games that feature multiple characters have a character type I call "The Badass". The Badass is the guy who doesn't play well with others and doesn't want to either. Your others characters always have to sleep with one-eye open because of fear of The Badass. The Badass is almost always either the best or second best warrior in the party or in the game and will only lose under special circumstance. The Badass eshews lofty emotions like love, compassion, and empathy in favor of the more useful base emotions such as lust and rage. Most of all, The Badass is totally fearless and calm under pressure (think The Fonz from 'Happy Days' if he were heavily armed and nearly psychotic). My question is: Who are favorite characters that are Badasses? To get everyone thinking here's my list:

Erika

Ah yes. I'm familiar with this type of character though I've more often seen them called "bad boys". So would this be an awkward moment to mention that I tend not to like these characters? Yes? It would? Oh well. I'll go ahead and let you finish before I ramble a bit.

1. Sephiroth-FFVII
2. Dias Flac-Star Ocean II
3. Magus-Chronotrigger
4. Albel "The Wicked" Nox-Star Ocean III
5. Vincent-FFVII
6. Kratos-Tales of Symphonia
7. Rose-Legend of Dragoon
8. Shadow-FFVI
9. Amarant-FFIX
10.Yuri-Shadow Hearts

Man, I didn't realise that list was so Square-Enix heavy.

Erika

Some of these characters can be interesting: Shadow for instance has a great back story that comes together piece by piece, and I definitely warmed up to Yuri over the course of the game, but... I think the bad boy is overdone. But then I may just have just spent too much time in proximity to teenage fangirls who tend to obsess over some of these guys (Albel is a prime example).

I actually like Adray from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time: he's sort of a parody of the bad boy. He's a big burly bearded guy with no tact, but he functions as comic relief rather than most "badass" characters whom we're supposed to find ultra cool. I mean he's a dad and is obsessed with marrying off his daughter Clair and seems to think she's really getting on as she's all of twenty-three years old. Yup. More proof that in the RPG world you're over the hill after twenty-one.

In other news, Gruga is NOT black. I repeat: NOT black.

I don't know what the hell he is, but I do know what he is not.

Erika

Ummm... okay. Didn't mean to get you all riled up by linking to the weird character art the other day. Take a deep breath. It's okay.

(I love 'Arc the Lad' I,II,&IV)

See ya,

Cap


Erika

I've played the PS1 games and I thought it was a solid series especially if you keep in mind that the first game made its debut back in 1995. It was also a neat feature to have character data and items carry over from game to game and to see the plot continue, especially in the second game.



Yay, I'm not useless! <3


Dear Matt/Erika

Geez, last Thursday must have been one of those days where one of my frequent logic lapses took place while I was writing in. In the last letter that I wrote to Josh, I somehow overlooked Sakura Taisen as another example of an RPG-come-cartoon series. How could I have forgotten good old ST? But man, this next one REALLY gets to me. I mean, "pirate mice"?!? Where in the world did I come up with THAT?! Don't worry, I know that they're sharks, I'm not (that) senile, but I still honestly can't imagine how I could've come up with "mice" earlier. Somehow, reading your own letter posted on Q&A can seem VERY different than when you write it and read it over...

Matt

Now now, there's no need to get so upset! You should think of what I go through every day; I go back and read some of the stuff that I include in my responses, and go "what the hell? I WROTE that?!" ... and I'm supposed to be running this place. Some host, huh? Anyway, never worry, because a whole lot of people have made fools out of themselves in Q&A over years past; it's part of the fun!

Whew, glad I got that outta me. Anyway, another example of a black RPG character can be Gozen in Blade Dancer. He comes across as a big aborigine guy who's quite the brawler. But this kind of makes me wonder. Do some of the few black characters in RPGs seem kind of... well, "dumb" to you? In Japan, a stereotype towards black people is the figure of a big and brawny guy who is a strong fighter but not very bright, as can be seen in some black anime characters. I don't know, but I somehow got the impression that Barret is intended to be like that kind of character, but I can't think of any other examples in RPGs, though I slightly recall feeling that I have seen more. Have you? And if you have, what do you think of this?

Matt

It might just be a coincidence, because I do know that another huge stereotype creeps into play here. Which one, you ask? The "I'm big and muscle-bound and carry a weapon heavier than a sword, so I must be dull as bricks" stereotype, that's which one. Lots of perfectly intelligent people are heavy or muscular or strong or have the ability to punch things with a little extra punch.

Barret seemed to be a little bit of a "leap before you look" kind of guy. I seem to recall that there are several places that he does seem to be explicitly expressed as being less intelligent than your average joe; when trying to figure things out, he belts in with "I jus' don't get it!" and the like. I don't think it's intentionally racially-motivated though, and certainly it isn't present in all RPGs; look at Helmer from Xenosaga, who is certainly not stupid. (Yes, *I* thought of another one by myself!)

Actually, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned Blade Dancer. While it does feature a black character, it also features the young, white, blue-haired male as the lead character, and we all know how much the latter drives Matt nuts

Alan


Matt

It wouldn't be so bad; it's just the height of overdoneness. When seeing blue-haired teen male leads becomes more commonplace than seeing brown-haired teen male leads, something is awry.

Thanks, Alan, for the letter!



My secret gaming double!


I was amazed to read that guy's letter about 4 RPGs being played at once. I only play one game per system at a time. Unless I'm reviewing (I work at a newspaper and do - usually - bi-weekly game reviews), in which case I'll interrupt whatever I'm playing...but I'll interrupt it completely. I won't switch back and forth. I just can't bring myself to do it. And I certainly only play one RPG at a time.

Erika

I guess it's just a matter of personal taste. I'm currently playing through three RPGs on three different systems, but I play them all a little differently. On my GBA I've got Riviera which I play when I only have a few minutes for gaming; on my GC there's Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance which I've been playing on weeknights when I have thirty minutes or more to spare; and on my PS2, Radiata Stories which has been reserved for weekend binge gaming sessions. So I guess it's whatever works for you, right?

But I do play PC games and console games at the same time - and handhelds, of course. For example, on my PS2 right now is Musashi Samurai Legend, which I wanted to set fire to early on because of some seriously unbalanced difficulty and a genuinely awful camera, but now I'm finally starting to enjoy. Though it does make me yearn for the much more likeable PS1 title.

In the meantime, on the PC, I'm going through the Myst series, which I own every single one of but only ever finished the first two. I love the Myst games; I'm one of those people that can very easily be sucked in by an interesting and elaborate mythology. It's why I love Xenosaga, it's why I'm completely enamored with Coheed and Cambria of late, and it's why I'm more than willing to fray my nerves on elaborate puzzles in six different Myst titles, one after another. Plus it's one of the few games my girlfriend likes, and we can play them together. (Aww.)

Erika

Quality time with one's loved ones through video games. It warms my heart, it does! I'd actually add something useful but since I haven't played most of the abovementioned games I really can't.

But it would seem to wrong to play anything on PS2 (or any other console, for that matter) other than Musashi, until I'm done with Musashi. Even though my current list of games I own and have yet to even start includes: Shadow Hearts 3, Alter Code F, Atelier Iris, Metal Gear Solid 3, Digital Devil Saga 2, Gladius (got it for four bucks; why the hell not?), and I think a couple more I can't even remember...and that's just for PS2. And it doesn't include my full intention to at some point purchase Wild Arms 4, Suikoden V, Kingdom Hearts II, Tales of Legendia, and (as if I would ever have the time for it) Elder Scrolls IV. AND there's the review games, which I always play to completion before writing about.

Erika

Many of the games you mentioned are on my backlog list as well, as are a bunch of GBA titles since I was a late comer to the system so I have quite a bit of catching up to do there as well. I seem to remember back in the SNES days there just weren't enough RPGs to go around. These days there are more RPGs and I've got less time what with that full time job which, sadly, has nothing whatsoever to do with gaming. However, I feel comforted when I read letters like yours because it seems like most of us are in the same boat.

...does gaming ever seem like a daunting, unending task to anyone else?

-TV's Adam
P.S. I love Silent Hill.


Erika

Frequently. But in a good way.



Mmm, mmm! Unparalleled greasy goodness.


Greetings, Matt. I have the video game memory to beat all. This is somewhat freaky, but read on.

Matt

All right, it's story time! Everybody gather 'round, and I'll go get the cheeseball from the fridge.

Twas three years ago, roughly; a few days after the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I was 16, and was playing the game madly.

Now for a strange fact about my family which is crucial to the story. I have nine siblings. (Although, at this time I only had eight.) My mother frequents message boards made for large families, and through doing so has made friends literally all across the U.S. Well, at this particular time, she was planning a big huge get-together for four or five families who live close to Tennessee.

Matt

Two words: Uh oh. Selected movie: "Cheaper by the Dozen." Thar's a winner.

The particular day it happened, I was mercifully allowed to stay at home with my dad and two brothers while they all met at a museum up in Franklin. Needless to say, I spent the entire day playing The Wind Waker. (Of course, I was booted off every hour or so by my brothers.) In particular, I was in the Earth Temple. I remember that distinctly. Even more specifically, I remember the huge mirror-light puzzle, which took me at least forty five minutes to figure out.

Just as I finally defeated that *&#^@ puzzle, my dad came in and informed me and my two brothers that we had to go join the rest of our family for the evening. I argued viciously, yet to no avail. And so, I was dragged off and schlepped down to Franklin.

Matt

Ooh, the pain. I'm sorry to hear.

It's not over yet. There were 27 kids congregated in all; four different families. Guess what brilliant idea my dad had.

"Let's all go to Cracker Barrel!"

Matt

Mmm, Cracker Barrel. I've been there a few times in my day; I'm pretty sure that the "shiniest-greasy-residue-after-finishing-my-meal" award goes to that restaurant. Sausage gravy and biscuits aren't a common thing around these parts, but mmm, mmm. Anyway, this is totally besides the point. Actually, I don't even have a point at all. Sorry to interrupt.

And so it began. 27 displaced children, (eight of them being my own siblings), all of them under the age of 13. In Cracker Barrel. Courtesy of my own father. I'm not even going to try to describe that night. I just remember myself, the sole mature person at a table full of small, loud children, wishing with all of my heart, soul, and mind that I was in the safety of my room, playing my game.

Not soon enough, we were out of there. After a big, long goodbye, we were on our way home.

Guess what? It's not over yet!

One of the families' van's broke down on the highway. They called us up, asking for help. Much to the chagrine of my entire family, (especially my mother, who was thoroughly frazzled by this time), my father offered them lodging in our home. They managed to get their van started, and chugged all the way to our home out in the boondocks.

Matt

Ew! How terribly gracious and neighbourly of them!! I'm sure you most have have been one unimpressed kid.

For my part, I shut myself in my room and played more WW. I remember completing the Earth Temple and getting into the Wind Temple. In particular, I remember the Stalfos warrior that bursts from the ground and attacks you, which scared the hell out of me the first time.

Whenever I play or reminisce on WW, I inevitably remember this horrid event. And vice versa. I know that this was an incredibly strange memory, and I also know that almost none of this is video game related. But it was just too wierd a memory not to share.

Matt

Yeah, absolutely, and thanks for sharing! I'd guess that a lot of us have had a similar experience, though; if you'll allow me, I have a similar small story of my own to insert here.

Before my 12th birthday, I had finally decided that there was no putting this off: I finally got up the courage to ask for Dragon Warrior IV, because I knew that, being 1995, the longer I waited, the less likely it would be for me to get my hands on it, and I had PINED for that game for so long.

Anyway, since NES games were already very difficult to find by that point, I really didn't have my hopes up at all, but my mother came through in spades. I didn't get the game ON my birthday, but some other insignificant present that left me depressed for the rest of the night. We went to my Aunt Erin and Uncle Paul's place in Windsor the next day for dinner, and that was where mom surprised me; my Aunt had picked it up from a video store for mom, and I was shocked and amazed and absolutely thrilled to finally hold my own copy. So, what was the problem?

I had plans the next afternoon to be social, dammit! I had invited a few friends from school to come so that Dad could take us to the arcade, the movies, and for dinner, and I almost grudgingly took part... ALL I wanted to do was go and play the game that I had waited so long for. Can't you just envision this scene?

Dad: So, Matt! Here's twenty bucks to spend here at the Wild Zone!!
Matt: Twenty dollars...?? Isn't...that a lot?

Dad: Where do you guys all want to head for dinner? There's the new grill down on Highway #2, do you want to try that?? Or there's (this place) or (that place)...

Friends of Matt: Sure! *nods of contentedness*
Matt: What... what about Wendy's Drive-Thru??

Hee, hee, nothing like a new game to turn me into a super-reclusive people-hater!

One more thing; I actually asked this question in my last letter, but you ignored me for some reason: What do you think are the chances of Square capitalizing on the massive success of Advent Children and releasing another CG movie? I think a FF6 or FF8 movie could be great; maybe even better. Probability?

Oliver.


Matt

Ohhh, I remember you asking the question, and I really do think I remember answering it, but one way or the other, I'd say that the answer is "It is not very probable at all." Final Fantasy VII has created more swirlings of conversation and super-excited discussion and speculation and hype than the rest of the series combined, honestly, and Square Enix seeks to capitalize on that fact quite obviously with its current projects under development. I'd say that while anything is within the realm of possibility, your idea is way, way, way out on the outskirts of that realm, I'm afraid.

That's not to say that there SHOULDN'T be; a Final Fantasy VI or VIII movie could be absolutely fantastic, with an emphasis on the VI. It's just that corporations tend to cater to the interests of the masses, and the masses want more FFVII. That's my take!



A teaser!


Hello Q&Aer!

I noticed talk of Arc the Lad! I've played Collection and Twilight of the Spirits...Collection was great (excluding the first entry...which sucks since that could push you away).


Erika

I don't know, I kind of liked the first Arc the Lad. I was willing to be quite forgiving considering it originally came out in 1995 which makes it an early entry to the tactical RPG genre. The first TRPG I ever played was Final Fantasy Tactics and it's far more sophisticated than Arc the Lad. Playing AtL was like going through a time warp and getting to see how the genre evolved so I found it interesting from that perspective, though yes, the second entry is a significant leap forward.

TOTS was sort of a double edged sword. You play two intertwining storylines in it. One side is INCREDIBLY cliche and pretty much blah. However, the other side involves you playing as the demon race. The character interactions and plot development on this side of the story are very fresh and pretty much unseen in most other games, so it's worth playing through the crap just so you can see those amazing parts.

Erika

You know I never got around to trying either of the PS2 Arc games, but I may have to add ToTS to my ridiculously long list of games to try out. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!

Anyway so (assuming this is Matt) you've been having lots of trouble with WA: ACF? I didn't experience any trouble with my copy, but let me tell you...the original (psx) Wild Arms gave me hell. I owned two copies of the game and both of them lock up on me quite consistently during battles. It's frustrating...but considering the games' goodness, i'll let it slide...I GUESS.

Erika

Wow what's with the Wild Arms jinx? I never had any problems with the original when I played a rental copy way back when. In fact I've rarely had any serious problems with PS1 or PS2 games at all, though I have had to clean off the rental discs on occasion since they can be pretty thoroughly smudged and/or scratched. I sometimes wonder what people do to rental discs. Do they play frisbee with them? Use them as coasters? Feed them to the dog? Not that any of this has much to do with your comment. Hey Matt did you want to step in and add something relevant?

Matt

I dunno about you, but I think they make for fine centerpiece bases. You just have to peel off all of the dried-on hot glue before you return them, that's all.

As for ACF, yes, it gave me horrifying amounts of trouble, but through perseverance and dedication, I finally managed to finish it off, just like a piece of cheesecake placed in front of my face. I think I'd rather take the cheesecake, though, honestly.

What are your thoughts on Xenosaga III? I for one am super excited it's coming out this fall. Even though II was a mild let down (well, what WOULDN'T be after I), the final entry looks very promising.

Erika

I'm not sure what to think of Xenosaga III since I must admit I haven't yet played through II. I own it and I've not yet played it so I figure at this point I may as well wait for III to come out and then do a quick replay of I and move on to II and III in succession. To be honest I was a little let down with the first game, perhaps because I was so enthralled by the story of Xenogears and I was hoping the connections between the original game and its prequels would be more obvious. I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised, though, when I do get go on to a Xenosaga binge. It should be interesting. Either that or I'll be driven mad by the sheer convoluted bizarreness of the plot and be shipped off to a comfy padded room. Good times! Here's what I'd like to know, though: why do the subtitles of all three games comes from Nietzsche?

That's all for now. Hope you make it through WA!


Matt

And I did! I finished it with such mixed feelings; the ending sequence MADE me want to love it, and it brought happiness to me, but as you might read soon, there are a number of issues that just irked me to no end, mostly due to what I consider to be FAR AND AWAY one of the worst localizations I've witnessed in recently-released RPGs.

Stay tuned for my official review, coming soon.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

You know what I can't get out of my mind right now (and it's the strangest, most random thing ever)? You know in Super Mario RPG, when Toadofsky allows you to construct the last phrase of his amazing melody? I've been playing that little song over and over in my head non-stop all day today, and while it was funny at first, it's getting really annoying by this point. Grrr.

Flashay!


ANSWERS OF THE SOCK: #174 was fairly easy, especially if you've played the game. In Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, the hero's name is Klein, and it is pronounced d) like Klane for 190 points.

#175 was GaijinMonogaosigjwogyyx's (I can't remember the second part of his nickname, but it's long- no offense, Gaijin; you rock) and the question asked about the interestingly-titled movie "THEM". The movie is about giant d) Ants, for 175 points, and 350 for Gaijin, who I must thank for submitting it.

Question #176:
In which of the following Dragon Quest games is it impossible for your first fight be against normal blue slimes? (205 points)

a) Dragon Warrior II
b) Dragon Warrior IV
c) Dragon Quest VI
d) Dragon Warrior VII
e) Dragon Quest VIII

Question #177:
Ask Erika!--> Loosely translated the refrain of which of the following poems means "that passed over and so will this"? (200 points)

a) The Dream of the Rood>
b) Deor
c) The Wanderer
d) The Seafarer
e) The Ruin


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*********************************************************


Thanks, Erika, for doing a top-notch job, today! BigWook and Knighttrain will both be joining me at some point in the coming days, as well, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those.

I hope that you decide to return tomorrow to help me round out the week in Q&A! Until next we meet, I bid you all a fond farewell.

slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt spent well over $500 today!


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Underripened pineapple hypersensitizes your tongue!! I need to correct this somehow...

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