Wednesday the Thirteenth
September 13, 2006
Matthew Demers - 17:55 EST
FIRE EMBLEM is a game that has begun to haunt me. It is, for me, the ultimate tactical RPG series, because it combines a good, focused plot with extremely well-thought-out battles that become incredibly absorbing. It's the only TRPG besides Shining Force that I've played where every character is a unique, well-defined character and not just a handful of randomly-determined stats with a face painted on. And even though the battle system and class system might seem simplistic at first, especially next to games like Final Fantasy Tactics, there is an underlying depth to the gameplay that is really, really hard to define (and thus describe).
Fire Emblem is like a dependence. I can't sleep without playing a chapter every night. It's so hard to believe I waited so long to jump on and play the games. If you haven't played any games from the series, and you like tactical RPGs, don't be like me. Find and play them NOW, so you can talk excitedly to me about them!
The truth. Or is it the truth? I don't know, no lie.
Hiya, Matt! Or Whoever's-on-duty-today!
GREETINGS. MATT UNAVAILABLE. I AM SUBSTITUTE Q AND A HOST. I MEAN NO HARM. GIVE ME Y-
I don't know where that came from. Sorry, what do you have in mind? Or on your mind, rather?
Since Xenosaga Episode III is much talked about these days, I figured I'd
write in on it, as I've seen some disturbing things on message boards!
Feel free to correct me, but I do believe Monolith Soft stated that the
trilogy of Xenosaga games that were released over the last few years were a
prequel to the world of Xenogears. I see some message board goers stating
that the two series have nothing to do with each other!
Now, I can't blame Xenogears for not wanting to be related to Xenosaga... or
Xenogears fans wanting the two series to be related. (Lets face it, 'saga
just doesn't compare to 'gears.) But you cannot deny the fun little things
that go on (optional bosses like Weltall- *ahem* Omega Universetas...) and
key characters like Abel and objects like Zohar.
But then again, maybe I'm just crazy? Maybe this is something that's been
talked about a lot before and just never crossed my line of sight... Maybe
I'm not quite the Xeno-fanboy I thought I was. I'd really like to know if
I'm right or not. ^^;
If it's any consolation, I thought so too. So, guess what I did? Since it's been a contentious enough question in here and in the community, I went and did some research. Now, I know it's not the bible of ultimate truth or anything, but I did manage to find these on Wikipedia:
"While Xenogears has never had an official sequel or prequel, many mistake a game developed by Monolith Soft and released by Namco called Xenosaga on the PlayStation 2, to be a prequel. Tetsuya Takahashi was the director and writer for both Xenogears and Xenosaga, however note that Xenosaga is not an official prequel to Xenogears because Square Enix owns the rights to Xenogears."
"The Xenosaga series serves as a spiritual successor to the game Xenogears, which was released in 1998 for the PlayStation by Square (now Square Enix). Outside of allusions, stylistic connections, and design similarities, there is no relationship between the two storylines."
On the other hand, though, it sounds like Episode III is absolutely ripe with allusions to Xenogears, so it sounds like it's a bit of a hot-and-cold game that they're playing. If it isn't the same storyline, then why are there so many references and things to get fans super-excited? I couldn't tell you.
So, I'm afraid that you technically aren't right, but you're pretty much right nonetheless. Right? Right.
By the way, are you interested in the upcoming .hack//G.U.? There's a
advertisement for it on the back of XSIII's manual and I was very happy to
see it. I kinda wish more story elements could be disclosed about that game,
but alas, for any who wish to know the big picture behind it all must watch
Oh! Oh! Oh!
Let me dig around for my old notepad that I used at E3 in May! You see, I was one of the lucky guys who got to interview Namco Bandai, and I got a lot of information that might be interesting to know. Just for reference, the people there seemed far more excited about .hack//G.U. than either Xenosaga Episode III or Tales of the Abyss. Anyway, I'll grab my notes!
There, got 'em! OK. What!?! It appears that I didn't take notes about that game... I must have left that one for one of my RPGamer teammates to record. Well, damn. There wasn't that much that was revealed, though, to be honest. I do remember that it's the beginning of a new trilogy of games, so the first .hack//G.U. will be followed up by two others. The idea is similar to past .hack games, where problems arise in an in-game virtual gaming world and such, so nothing has changed dramatically there.
As we get closer to its North American release, I'm sure that we'll hear more details on the plot. It's been out in Japan for awhile by now, and it should be released in North America next month!
XSEED has been Xtra quiet
Do you know what happened to Xseed games? They have not announced anything in months and the web site has not been updated since May. Are they working on any games right now? Were they even at E3?
Nope. They weren't at E3.
XSEED formed in 2004, and it didn't take them long to get the ball rolling with the production of the North American versions of Wild Arms 4 and Shadow Hearts: From the New World, both of which were released early this year. You're right, though; all has been quiet on the so-called western front, and their website hasn't done anything in months. A bit of a search around doesn't really yield any extra information, either.
Maybe they went on a vacation to Filgaia. Who knows? If and when they come back to the table to do some more publishing, I'm sure that their website will be updated to reflect it. Until then, I'm afraid you'll just have to wonder, wonder, wonder, with the rest of us.
Is in-game gambling really gambling?
Having read your "letters" for some time, I must thank you for a job well done. I don't remember my first rpg anymore, but believe it to be the much fabled Dragon Warrior. It may have been some strange computer game though. The only Dragon Warrior which is not currently within my very humble abode is seven-which my friend owns and will bring someday. We share our collection which includes them all: even III, V, and VI for the Super Famicom. I love gambling with my friends (at the in-game casinos) while we all sit around drinking. We have done this for years now and have tons of tokens (slots mainly) in DW VIII, and an incredible amount of tokens in Dragon Warrior IV earned in poker mainly (which I found at some Funcoland for 45$ about six years ago. The battery was ineffective at saving, so we went to a hardware store, opened it, determined the battery size and voltage and acquired one at Osco. It is now played only on a top-loading system, and is only rarely exchanged-of late with DWIII). This is great for all of us, and is just generally fun. Also love mimigames (they are fun for me alone), and the general game, I like to play with a close friend usually: although these may be intertwined in any permutation. Could you help me with any more RPG's with gambling? Thank you very much. Have not played Disgaea due to assumed dark content, but like Phantom Brave. Recent games of joy: The most esteemed Dragon Warrior (Quest) VIII (still fighting the Dragon), Final Fantasy X-2 (have not finished-but have done all along the way), Radiata Stories (have not finished, just begun), Baten Kaitos, Fire Emblem (have not finished-Gamecube sound went out, waiting for new system), Ephemeral Fantasia (have not finished-waiting for guitar from Guitar Heroes), Magna Carta, Suikoden V, Choro Q (excellent RPG racer), Haven (have not finished-not RPG), Dragon Warrior III, and last but not least Dragon Warrior IV (my true love).
All right, let's go from the top-down, shall we?
First of all, thanks for the kind words! I do the best I can to write interesting columns, but if anyone ever has a question, suggestion, or concern nonetheless about Q&A itself, don't hesitate to ask me about it!
Dragon Quest games have always contained fantastic and addictive in-game casinos. Well, not always, technically; Dragon Warrior II was the first to contain a lottery, and that quickly expanded to other things like battle colosseums, poker tables, slime racing, memory matching, and Bingo! I actually didn't find the casino games in DQVIII to be quite as absorbing as in past versions, though. For me, just like yourself, it was all about Dragon Warrior IV and the poker tables, though I know I spent hours at the slot machines too.
Other games featuring similar gambling diversions? There are a few, though the quality is extremely hit or miss. Pokémon games have always featured casinos with terrible win rates and abysmal payout; statistically, it makes more sense to just save up the tokens to get the obscure items or pokémon without playing a single game.
Golden Sun was a series that did a little bit better in this regard, but not a whole lot better. There was a pretty wide variety of games to choose from in a couple of the towns in the Golden Sun world, and I remember being mildly entertained for a bit.
Other than those, I'm hard-pressed to find many other examples for you, I'm afraid, though I'm sure that many more exist.
Finally, to address that list of games of yours, it sounds like you have a lot on your plate! Oh, and Disgaea might be "dark-humoured" at times, but it is simultaneously the most light-hearted game on the market, too. It's not like there's blood, gore, and twisted floating heads firing subliminal messages telling you to worship Satan and such. We're talking kid allies with the strengthening special attack of "Milk," knife-wielding exploding penguins that dance gracefully, and hospitals that reward you with prizes the more you die in battle. Despite the "demon" backdrop, I think it would be pretty difficult to find anything terribly offensive about the game.
Thanks for writing in!
Meet Your New Allies: Profound, Waltz, and Honesty!
Ou est le Soleil, Matt?
My central problem seems to be thinking of too many topics for use in a Q&A
letter. But fine, everyone wants me to conform. Heartless bastards.
So I'll stick to a central topic today: the trials and tribulations of an
import RPGamer. The recent experience with my Action Replay breaking and
leaving me bereft of import Saturn titles to play makes this all the more
topical. I did just win a new Action Replay on eBay; but the seller is
stranded in the Dark Ages of money exchange. I have to send a check,
because getting a money order is even more bothersome, and actually use an
envelope with postage! Plus I think he's ripping me off on the shipping -
$8.95 for parcel post? Whatever, though. Half of the best Saturn titles
remained stranded in Japan thanks to the Saturn's initial poor sales vis a
vis the Playstation in this hemisphere, and the consequent reluctance of
publishers to invest great amounts of time into translation late in its
Yeah, those eBay sellers can be shady folk, to be sure. Try living in Canada! I know for a fact that postage here is not that much more expensive, but this "not being in the U.S." thing is used so often as an excuse to charge exorbitant shipping fees. If an item costs $4 to ship within America, it isn't going to cost $15 to go to Canada. Sorry. We DO have roads, airports, and the like.
Sans Saturn playing for the time being, I put Langrisser 2 into my
import-accepting Sega Genesis. Making cartridge-based systems accept
imports is pathetically easy if one has a drill, since there is a physical
difference between the regional cartridges. Knock out the obstructions to
putting a non-North America cartridge into the slot and it will work just
fine. My old Super Nintendo was import-ready - but stupid Amtrak broke it!
One of these days I will make the replacement (off eBay, naturally)
That works SOMETIMES, but I'm not sure if it's totally legal. Also, there are more than just physical barriers in play if you happen to import from a PAL region, since there are different framerates, scanlines, and other technical jargon I don't quite understand, all acting to restrict you from playing normally.
Back to Langrisser 2: I don't wonder at the lack of Langrisser talk in Q&A,
since there hasn't been a new title in at least 5 years and all but the
first were never released in English. It's a fun game though. If one has
never played Langrisser I could suggest reading my Warsong review, as I
covered it reasonably well there - suffice it to say that the troops
generals can purchase prior to battle are entirely expendable, with no
carry-over to the next battle and no reward for keeping them alive. Take
out the general commanding the troops, and all the general's troops die.
Generals are stronger than their troops however, so taking them out can
prove problematic with their troops still getting in the way. Also,
generals have a command area within which their soldiers receive bonuses.
The AI will never leave this command area, so that's an exploitable
Langrisser 2 has thus far been difficult for me because of my failure to
understand exactly what was required of me in two missions, thanks to all
the story being in Japanese - I can pick up character names and not much
else. I lost the first mission thanks to a cleric named Riana being
kidnapped by some guy, and I thought letting him escape was the way to
succeed since he had powerful friends temporarily distracted by
reinforcements. Oh how wrong was I; letting the guy escape proved to garner
me a Game Over (conveniently in English onscreen). The second and third
missions I succeeded at, then in the fourth mission I saw some clerics being
attacked and doing poorly, which I inferred to mean it was a rescue mission.
So I charged ahead and lost most of my soldiers taking out the soldiers
between the enemy commander and myself, whereupon I saw some mysterious
reinforcements pop up and rush over to wipe out the troops attacking the
clerics. Sadly the enemy commander has stronger troops than any of his
subordinates, and they promptly killed my commander-in-chief Elwin. Game
Over again. I succeeded in the mission last night by taking it slower,
knowing that the mysterious reinforcements would get there. Turns out the
leader of those reinforcements is a woman named Sherry (or Shari, any
spelling really) who appears to have joined me. Since she's mega-powerful I
It sounds like a potentially interesting game, though the fact that it isn't english would turn off 95% of potential RPGamers over here. I don't know, but I just can't bring myself to make the huge effort of importing and playing a game that I have to read a Walkthrough in order to play. Talking to NPCs and enjoying the dialogue is just part of why I enjoy RPGs so much, and if I couldn't understand a bit, then I think I'd feel as if it were lacking somehow.
Artwork critique of the Langrisser series here. Anyone who has seen Satoshi
Urushihara's artwork knows he likes to give females - ahem - form-fitting
attire. Doesn't it seem profoundly uncomfortable to try fighting with
nothing but a thong and boots to cover the entire area under the waist? I
wonder what happens if I hit a snowy battlefield.... Naturally men are
fully clothed except for the occasional bare arms.
Unfortunately for guys like me, I don't really think that Langrisser is the only place where we see "problems" like that. In Final Fantasy X, which you likely aren't as familiar with, Tidus had a semi-bare chest, but had his pants disappointingly hiked up, granny-style. Why? I'll never know. Meanwhile, we have Lulu in the same game, and... well, I just want to know exactly how many people tried looking at the TV screen at odd oblique angles in order to try and "see something" during her spellcasting, bend-over showcases. Yikes.
The importer for Nintendo handhelds has it easy - there is no regional
lockout device. I haven't done it because there aren't too many titles
(aside maybe from Magical Vacation and Fire Emblem 6) I would want to slog
through in Japanese on the GBA. And those two titles almost never show up
on eBay, with their occasional appearances fetching absurd prices - $85 for
FE6? No thank you!
It's too bad, though you're right; universal formats seem to be the way of the future, as companies seem to be latching onto the idea more readily than ever before with their next-gen systems.
Sony importers I haven't studied too much. I gather it will require the
maximum effort of rewiring the system and installing a mod chip however.
What RPGs (aside from some Langrisser ports from Sega systems) have not made
it away from Japan and cause Playstation owners to pine away? I want to
It likely depends from person to person, because there were so many different RPGs released for the PlayStation, it would make your head spin. My personal biggest disappointment was that Dragon Quest IV's remake was never released outside of Japan. It was like an icy dagger hitting my heart when I read that news story that hit the headlines what... five years ago, now? SO disappointing. In the same vein, Dragon Quest Monsters I + II never made it to North America, though that was perhaps a little more understandable.
I think the Gamecube also requires a mod chip, but what is there to mod it
for? That's a serious question; are there any good titles that Nintendo
hasn't brought over?
Oh, heavens yes. Mother 3, for starters! Fire Emblem, pre-2003, if you count that. Those two examples alone make me writhe in horrible agony. More recently, Xenosaga: Episode I+II doesn't appear like it's going to make it here either, which is too bad, since I was looking forward to it; the game was released in Japan some months ago at this point.
I KNOW there isn't anything worth importing for Xbox or 360 that Microsoft
didn't already bring over.
I don't think the PSP has a lockout device. But I can't be bothered to look
it up right now.
You're right. PSP's are region-free, I'm 99% sure.
This isn't really related to importing (unless one wishes to avoid the
sky-high eBay prices for Panzer Dragoon Saga by getting the Japanese
version), but this track is really good.
http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/570/22 The Atolm Dragon is fought three
times in the game, and each fight is quite memorable, especially with a
battle theme like this one.
It's a bit intense and a lot unique, much like what I've heard about the legendary game in general. Thanks for the link! I'm not sure what it reminds me of, which is why I say it's unique. There's an odd bit of Legend of Dragoon feel there, which I wouldn't normally say is a good thing, but it seems like it might work in this case.
Since I vowed to speak of Shining Force III more often, here we go with a
little name game somewhat similar to what I did with Dragon Force 2. In
this case however, I'm going to give a few names that were changed (I think
for the better) in Scenario 1's translation. Along with a few characters
who show up later with ... interesting names. Ready?
Spiriel (she of the incredibly stimulated voice actress) was originally
named Spirited. I think the name change is good. What say you, Matt?
The Emperor is named Domaric. Originally his name was Dominate, however.
Firstly, I agree that Spiriel is better, and an interesting name all-around.
And, I would definitely start saying the second name Japanesely. "Doe-mee-nah-tay" sounds far, far better, that's for sure, than the english alternative.
Emperor Domaric's advisor is named Fiderit - or Fidelity? Gimme some kind
Yeah, that's a pretty weak example.
The ruler of the Republic area of Barrand seized by the Empire, leading to
the dispute starting the game, is named Tybalt. Or is his name Tyranny?
Seems a bit leading to me.
No, no, no. Wasn't "Tybalt" also the name of a Shakespearean character? I kinda like the name, to be honest with you.
A general who can join in Scenario 3 is named either Produn or Profound.
Another general who can join is Edmund - or Equal?
And now for a couple of characters who don't have an English name. A
pegasus will join up in Scenario 3, and her name is Honesty. This always
seemed an odd choice of a name to me, and really a bit too hopeful. Any
My advice? Play English games!
Hahaha. No, really. Japanese names are often open to a lot of interpretation, so my guesses may or may not be sound at all; I can only go on "what seems good." Produn and Edmund are obviously the better choices here, but "Honesty" sounds like a rather whitetrashish name. Note that if anyone reading this column is named Honesty, I'll subsequently feel very, very sheepish!
A bow knight who joins early in Scenario 2 has the odd name of Waltz. If
Waltz is an acceptable name, then I expect to see characters named Tango and
Foxtrot also. Wait... flashback of 80's Sylvester Stallone & Kurt Russell
movie coming... gah!
I'll leave off again with a quick remonstation of Sega's voice actors for
Shining Force III:
http://www.audioatrocities.com/games/shiningforce3/clip2.mp3 Basanda will
very likely kill off characters thanks to her powerful Thanatos summons and
her position, but if she uses Blaze 3 on people she'll say that. How
I have to say that that is truly some of THE worst voice acting I've ever, ever heard. My eyes literally widened in disgust as those sound waves hit my timpanic membrane.
Was this a slightly more workable length? I hope so, because it came
naturally to me!
Well, it's better than usual. This is kind of like the first splurge meal of my new Q&A diet, though; 1,350 words is still pretty darn long.
Regardless, JuMeSyn, it's been a pleasure as always. You're a never-ending fountain of knowledge about games the rest of us likely haven't played, and dammit, I still can't get that wonderfully awful sound link out of my mind.
Thanks for writing in!
Anyway, in regards to your shorter column, I'm a
little relieved myself. Those long letters and lots
of them in one column were getting to be hard to read.
I even skipped a couple cause I was running out of
time to read them! Sorry bout that.
So, yeah, don't mind new format. Should be a break
for your sanity as well, right?
#310 - c) Lightning - always my favorite spell
#311 - c) Something to be cooked and eaten for HP
replenishment or HP increase if HP are already full
Have a fantastic one!
I think that you're just one of dozens that think that way, Maggie. Q&A is a fun place to come to discuss RPG news, talk about the latest games, share fun opinions, answer hypothetical questions, or reminisce upon fond nostalgic memories. I don't want readers to have to slog through fifteen pages of writing every time they open the page, though, and this is the chief reason that I'm trying to lighten things up.
The fact that I have a busy year ahead of me is another important reason, but it's not central. Truly, the day that reading Q&A becomes a chore will be the day that this site has outgrown me.
Thanks for your input!! And to everybody else: Maggie is going to be joining us to co-host on Friday! We haven't had one in quite a little while, so it should be a most exciting event indeed.
Whoooo-whee. I didn't get much sleep again last night, for some unknown reason. However, I still managed to get my sorry behind onto campus to register at the gym for this semester. When I got to the registration room, however, my jaw hit the floor. The check-out was arranged in four lines, you see; three of them were for debit or cash payment, and each of those lines had at least twenty people, many of whom looked like they had been waiting forever. The "credit only" line was the fourth, however. Luckily, I was carrying my credit card, because there was only one person ahead of me in that one!
What's the moral of that story? Hmmm... there is something negative about debit cards after all? I dunno, it's pretty weak.
For complete contest rules, click here!
Answers to September 8th's Questions
#310. a) Fire - 620 points
It was SO CLOSE, too!! Here were the tallies:
I thought for awhile that Lightning was going to win, but Fire overtook it in the end. What an exciting question. Expect more like these in the future; one per week, maybe?
- a) Fire: 13 votes
- b) Ice: 5 votes
- c) Lightning: 12 votes
- d) Water: 1 vote
- e) Wind: 3 votes
#311. c) Something to be cooked and eaten for HP replenishment or HP increase if
HP are already full - 540 points/1,080 for JuMeSyn
This Princess Crown question was brought to you by your favourite long-winded writer extraordinaire! Thanks for the submission, as always!
Macstorm casts Blind! The questions were obscured!
W... do Y0i NeE- t. .ake wIYh - GrsiN (f sakT i- --. ..ve any hOP# Of oB%aqning s ruBg#r cHuvk$n? (650 points)
a) tEh Ro05^..'s ..mB
b) HOLE $18
c) Th- --.rby f98ntsIN
d) a Nagic wgG
e) ... F!ux 5hpp
Reader Submitted #313:
ine og T.Ese An1mA. .-ddies LaCK. . ...cifiC GAn30lay funxTian Teh othe$s aLl HqVw. WhIvh pne/
I guess it's a Blind sort of week, isn't it? Do your best!
Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!
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I've got a growing line of opinions on Final Fantasy XII mounting in my inbox, just waiting for tomorrow's column. Do you want to add to the discussion? Feel free to write in and tell me what you're anticipating about the year's most anticipated game!
Otherwise, that's all from me for now. I'll be back tomorrow as always. Take care!
***Matt is... hungry!
"Grumble grumble," Matt's tummy rumbled.
Sept. 9: Josh
About the Host
Matt's Top 5 Most Wanted Games:
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Xenosaga: Episode III
3. Final Fantasy XII
4. Final Fantasy V
5. Children of Mana
Top 3 Games Matt's Playing Right Now:
1. Disgaea II
2. Fire Emblem GBA
3. Grandia III
SOCK's Top 35:
4. Alan Tse
16. Arros Raikou
25. TV's Adam
27. Hunter B