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ASK JUMESYN
Far Out! February 17, 2006

JuMeSyn - 3:58 CST

Lately I've become even less enamored with Eureka, California than I was prior. To anyone who has been witness to my complaints on this subject, that occurrence might seem implausible. But the sheer isolation of this area is really starting to piss me off. It's not enough that every year, without fail, a rainstorm will come along and knock out Highway 101 for a few days thanks to a landslide (101 is a two-lane highway for a fair stretch between Santa Rosa and the Oregon border). But there is exactly ONE internet cable servicing this entire isolated county. An internet cable that was severed first by a moron driving into a cell phone tower and knocking it onto the cable two hours south of here, but then by a fire two hours to the north of here. Driving east doesn't work because the hill roads get closed by snow during winter. Isolation, people. Oh, and last week a guy was shot to death two blocks from where I live on a block where people have been killed before. Isolation without friendliness. The tourism board is gonna love me.




L E T T E R S
Fire and Ice


My house is buried in snow and ice! Downside, canít work. Upside, I have the time to send in a letter!

Foreigner

"I've seen it before, it happens all the time. You're closing the door, you leave the world behind. You're digging for gold, you're throwing away, a fortune in feelings but someday you'll pay! Cold - as - Ice!"

JuMeSyn

Heh. Sorry.

I got Ar Tonelico in the mail last week, and while I havenít played the game(Disgaea 2 is taking longer than planned), I have been listening to the soundtrack, itís one of the best Iíve heard in a long time. I donít have a link for you, but itís something Iíd recommend any fan of video game music to check out.

JuMeSyn

A link like - THIS? http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/3204 I'll put it on the back burner, but understand if nothing happens immediately. Dial-up means I have to plan my downloading of anything. Plus if I downloaded the soundtracks of games I don't own but am interested in, I think my hard drive would fill.

Of course, the minute I manage to get my list of PS2 games to buy under a dozen, Odin Sphere is announced! It looks great. From what Iíve heard itís a spiritual successor to Princess Crown. Have you played Princess Crown? If so, how was it?

JuMeSyn

Hm, I actually hadn't paid much mind to Odin Sphere until you brought it up just now. As I examine images I notice - yes, artistic design in particular. Odin Sphere does indeed seem to have some resemblances to Princess Crown. http://media.ps2.gamespy.com/media/884/884204/imgs_1.html As for whether I've played it - when I gave it a '5' some troll on the RPGamer message boards got infuriated at me. Shall I link to my review? Nah, just know that I found it possibly the most beautiful 2D game ever, and a most enjoyable play.

And on the subject of imports, since your last cohost I havenít started importing yet. The spirit is willing, but the wallet is weak. I havenít given up, though, and I have another importing question: Is there a good English site that covers import games? RPGamer covers most of the RPGs to a degree, but is there a good place to get news, reviews, etc on import games in general?

JuMeSyn

Okay, first I'll give you a good site to deal with converting your PS2: http://www.oldschoolgamer.ca/information.aspx?SID=2

As for a good import site... hm. http://www.siliconera.com/ doesn't have as big a back catalog as I'd like, but it may work for you. And this looks good for the buying of imports http://www.genkivideogames.com/ I learn about most of my imports via GameFAQs and eBay, with further information coming game by game - so general purpose sites I'm not too well-versed in.

Thatís all I got. I should probably go dig out my car. Itís buried around here somewhere...

Slashlen

JuMeSyn

Fare thee well, Slashlen. May the snow be easy to shift.



Don't Bring Me Down


Dear JuMeSyn,

You picked up Rogue Galaxy or Ar Tonelico yet? Despite my 20+ game backlog, I actually want to pick these up. I finally took a whole hour and rallied through the final dungeon of Shadow Hearts: Covenant, after I had reached the final dungeon two years ago and promptly shelved the game. After finally finishing Covenant off, I promptly ran out to the local Game Force and bought Genesis Collection, Shadow Hearts New World, and Wild Arms Alter Code F. So much for making progress on ye olde backlog. Anyway, give me reasons to add to the pile!

JuMeSyn

Ah yes, more PS2 titles I would doubtless enjoy the hell out of if only I had a PS2! I'll recommend Phantasy Star IV wholeheartedly in that Genesis collection though. As for what I've been playing lately - I just finished LandStalker, Sakura Wars 4 before that, Napple Tale before that, Sakura Wars 3 before that, Tales of Phantasia I'm finally going to devote myself to completing, and next up on portable will be either the first Super Robot Taisen or Final Fantasy V. On console? Not sure yet. Probably Shadowrun. Maybe Dark Wizard on Sega CD.

Btw, Karin is Yuri's mom, right? That's the big secret? Unless I'm way off here, I don't know what everyone was talking about two years ago about that being the big secret of Covenant. I thought Yuri's failed attempt to resurrect Alice and eventual suicide to join her in death instead were both way bigger plot twists. I figured out Karin's role really quickly; with tons of foreshadowing, it was hard not to. Plus, whenever there's no sexual tension between male and female leads, somebody is somebody's mother/uncle/sister/cousin/brother/daddy. Heh, I actually really wish Karin and Yuri had made out at the end like they clearly wanted to. The first RPG to incorporate full-blown Oedipus Complex wins a cookie. In any event, it really would be fun to have more protagonists have mental conditions. The last one I can think of is Cloud. That guy had some serious issues... A schizo hero would absolutely rock!

Vicissitude

JuMeSyn

Ooh, multiple things to talk about! First off - the only Karin I know is Ichigo Kurosaki's little sister, while the Yuris I've met include the gossip-monger in Sakura Wars, a magician serving Zanon in Dragon Force, and a lot of others I'm not remembering. A quick Google makes me believe you're speaking of Shadow Hearts: Covenant, which I will doubtless play sometime thanks to its being a historically-based RPG. As for Oedipal complexes, maybe. I'd rather not it be treated in a porn-ish way.

And yes, a schizophrenic hero would be really interesting. Maybe he could have multiple personalities that the player can switch among with some degree of control, and that would affect the plot dramatically! Same for actual play, with the different personalities each fighting in a different way. You, sir Vicissitude, have planted the seeds of a potential editorial in my mind, and I know it ought to make for interesting reading.



Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport


Hey JuMeSyn, your letter to me last time still gives me nightmares. And it gave me an insight to how much effort Josh and Matt put into these columns.

JuMeSyn

Nightmares? Wow. Did a Sega commercial scare you as a child? No one else has had such an unhappy reaction to my letters - not even Josh with his being forced to talk about games he's never played!

Anymanyways hows your gaming life treating you? Still playing those Sega console RPGs? Mixing them allll up?

JuMeSyn

You betcha. My recent playing schedule got wrapped up elsewhere today, but let's see here... I suppose there's Super Hydlide for my Genesis, plus Crusader of Centy if I can get it cheap. And once the system mod is done and my Saturn is back, look forward to me finishing Tengai Makyou IV (which I know EVERYONE is eager to hear about!)

So whats in the horizon for your gaming life? Got anything that your looking forward to?

JuMeSyn

Y'know, the reason I'm playing the Genesis so much lately has to do with the annoying nature of disconnecting it and putting my SNES back in. So much dust and so many wires back there... I do have FF: Mystic Quest and ActRaiser 2 to play on it, both because if I'm gonna review so much stuff for RPGamer I feel it necessary to try and put some crap onto the roster. Plus my enormous Super Famicom backlog. One of these days I'll list MY backlog.

You always ask us so what are you listening to in your IPOD/cd player/ grammerphone?

JuMeSyn

So be it. I'll choose the first song, then iTunes' randomizer shall choose another 11:

'Why'd Ya Do It?' - Marianne Faithfull, 'Quiero Saber' - Gypsy Kings, 'Cuckoo' - Curve, 'Whiz Kid' from Seiken Densetsu 3's OST, 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' - Charlie Daniels Band, 'Black Demon Castle (aka area 2) from Riviera's OST, 'Secret Agent Man' - Johnny Rivers, 'Hands' - Jewel, 'As Long As You Follow' - Fleetwood Mac, 'Fire And Water' - Wilson Pickett, 'Funeral Pyre' - The Jam, and 'Mon Mec a Moi' - Patricia Kaas.

Oh and this is my current favourite game song to listen too! http://www.ocremix.org/remix/OCR00860/

JuMeSyn

Mmm, Yoshi's Island doesn't get the attention it deserves. More prominent piano than I'd expected. Percussion sounds good. Nice, very nice.

I really don't have much in gaming news at the moment, though hopefully by the weekend after this i'll have FF12 to talk about in MY guest host spot. I think I still have the record for guest hostings, 7 or 8 i'm not quite sure, but another one will be added to the list that still has one of mine not listed. My kill count is still unclear untill it is officially counted (David Eddings reference there).

JuMeSyn

Haven't read Eddings, sadly. I've read some Heinlein, Brin, Scott Card, and quite a bit of Turtledove. No one else comes to mind, but that's because I'm not wracking my brain over it. Oh, Tolkien - natch.

Bainick is guest hosting very soon. SEND LETTERS!!!

Depeche Mode

"I found treasure not where I thought. Peace of mind, can't be bought. Still I believe. Just hang on, suffer well. Sometimes it's hard, it's hard to tell!"

JuMeSyn

No worries, I'll help out the current lack of letters! After the first one it can only get easier!



Cult of Personality


Heya JuMeSyn,

Writing in mainly because I thought it would be fun, but also because I only see letters from the same people lately. Letís ask some questions!

Chris Cornell

"I've seen angels fall from blinding heights, but you yourself are nothing so divine - just next in line! Arm yourself because no one else here will save you - the odds will betray you, and I will replace you! You can't deny the prize it may never fulfill you, it longs to kill you - are you willing to die? The coldest blood runs through my veins - you know my name!"

Ok, todayís theme is going to be... equipments! Iíve started playing Disgaea 2 and I just had to chuckle when I saw that theyíd kept a slightly altered version of their ridiculous equipment system that they used in La Pucelle (Disgaea 1 never came out where I live), there was this one chapter where you had to get through the level without killing a single monster and I just equipped Croix with 4 pairs of shoes to max out his movement range. Letís count: two on his feet, two on his hands, two on his ears... where did he wear the last two?

JuMeSyn

I can think of an answer, but it isn't fit for non-porn. Or maybe he wore a pair of small shoes on the feet and bigger shoes around them? Having a limit on accessories to be worn can prevent silliness like this.

Some games like to keep it to a minimum like FF8 or even non-existent like Xenosaga, but most of the times the equipment systems are rather silly if you think about them for too long. For instance, in SMT:Digital Devil Saga they equippable items are bullets for the human form, but these never run out and are compatible with every single weapon, from a handgun to a rifle to a missile launcher. Similarly, in games with large equipment systems like .hack// Balmung ends up sharing his wardrobe with Black Rose, or Freija with Steiner in FF9 and well, who would have guessed that Zidane and Quina were the same size?

JuMeSyn

Ah, yes. Quina looks to be an X9 Large or so - while Eko seems to be a 12 or so in girls'. (You found the one PS game I've played - yay!) Then again if we're going to quibble with this, I suppose we'd have to go to a tailor and have all equipment specially made for each character. Which isn't a bad idea, come to that. More of that realism that RPGs can sometimes use.

Another gripe (is that a word?) I have with equips is when, in games that place heavy emphasis on their graphics, changing a characterís armor doesnít alter their appearance. Sure, there are reasons for this, I think itís mainly a commercial strategy, itís easier to stick to one single striking character design when trying to promote your game. American RPGs donít place as much value on the characters themselves since they prefer to keep them as open as possible so that the player may ďroleplayĒ better and thatís why they usually include sprite-changing armor. Needlessly to say, I was extremely miffed with DQ8 for only giving Jessica changing clothes. Itís like saying they could have done it for the other characters (I mean, itís cell-shading) but decided to stick to one-sided fanservice. D:

JuMeSyn

'Gripe' most assuredly is a word. I agree with you on the equipment altering issue actually, as even games that use it frequently don't go very far. Skies of Arcadia had everyone's weapon look different depending upon what was equipped, but not their attire. I can sort of understand this not being enacted with regularity, given the increased development time needed to allow for it, but such a loophole is annoying.

So, what are your views of equipments? Limited weight/inventories that hinder your completionism ideals or force you to make choices? Weapon synthesizing and refinement systems? Legendary weapons? Sorry for the lengthy letter, but Iím having fun with this and donít know when to stop.

See you, then!
Angelic Monkey

JuMeSyn

Angelic Monkey - look who you're talking to! I'm the single largest reason for the word limit on letters! To me, equipment is usually something I don't spend much time thinking about unless the interface for putting it on and viewing its effects is clumsy. With that said, I'd like the option to equip more people with dual weapons (FFVI has this) and I like games that allow constant use of certain equipment (usually weapons) to enhance aptitude with that sort of equipment permanently (See Shining Force III, and the more recent Riviera for this).



Gimme Shelter


Hey JuMeSyn,

I want to weigh in on the Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI remakes on GBA.

John Lennon

"Look at me. Who am I supposed to be? Who am I supposed to be? Look at me. What am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to be?"

The first RPG I played through myself was FF2 on SNES, and I found the port to GBA was done exceptionally well, albeit with some slowdown in certain menus and transitioning between battles in some places. Are these petty complaints...yes, yes they are. The game itself was awesome, played well, true to the original, etc. All that good stuff.

JuMeSyn

Since I wrote a review on this site of the FFIV GBA release, there's no point in restating it too much. Sufficient to say I enjoyed the game a fair amount more with this version than the original.

I never finished FF V on PS1 because I accidentally nerfed my PS1, replaced it /w a PS2 that Christmas and never got back to it due to starting Suikoden III and Wild Arms 3. I have to say, the game was perfect as far as I'm concerned. The story was new to me, on account of the aforementioned accident, and all the petty system based complaints I had about FFIV were fixed it seemed. No slowdown, a built in dash button, flawless. I can't comment on the translation, as I have no memories of the former. FFV on GBA was an excellent experience.

JuMeSyn

FFV awaits my attention soon. I tried it via emulator a few years back, just enough to see that it looked (from the first 10 minutes) kinda like FFIV. I'm happy I picked my FFV copy off Amazon for $15 less than the standard price.

And now we get to FF6 on GBA. Mixed emotions here. FF3/6j is tied for my all time favourite RPG (avec Lunar: SSS and Chrono Trigger....Trigger -may- actually be the forerunner, but I prefer to just go with the 3-way tie). The story, game play and the graphics are top notch, but I was a little disappointed with the lag on screen when you use the dash button, and the uber blurriness of the screen when you dash /w sprint shoes equipped. I'm not sure if I'm justified in this complaint, as Final Fantasy VI is a good deal ahead of IV and V in terms of graphical prowess, so maybe it was an inevitability. I assumed if they could remake a SNES game for the GBA system, it should be all systems go as far as performance is concerned, especially since they managed to iron out all the kinks in IV when the re-did V. What's your opinion on this admittedly fussy issue?

JuMeSyn

FFVI is superb, and my new GBA version is awaiting my attention (admittedly not first or second or third in line, but I'll reach it!) As to why the GBA, supposedly somewhat better than the SNES, cannot seem to equal the SNES in its technical aptitude? Here's a link that everyone should find interesting regarding this (and FFIV's issues): http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3156447

Translation/Localization. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the changes or not.. Some lines that I expected to see were changed for the better, and some were changed for what seems like no reason....like Celes' character bio when you first "meet" her. Kefka's lines so far are pretty kick ass, despite most of them being new (from what I can remember), they do a much better job of painting him as a sociopath early on in the game, where in the SNES version he came off as some kind of stuck up priss. Edgar's lines have changed a little, making his womanizing a little clearer (and cleverer). Cyan's distrust of machinery is a little more clearly communicated as well in the Sabin/Cyan/Shadow scenario. Other minor examples could ensue, but I'm combating brevity as it is here. What are your thoughts on the matter of changing what is basically well established dialogue (to anyone who had played and loved FF3 on SNES)? Do you think the game is/will sell better to retro gamers looking for some awesome nostalgia (such as myself) v. the current generation of gamers who may have zero exposure to the "old skool" Square games? I think the fact they changed the lines so dramatically signals it was intended for the new generation, at least as a primary market. What do you think?

JuMeSyn

Oy. This above all things has no easy answers, so I'll have to muddle about a bit. The original translation is available fairly easily, since FFIII sold pretty well by the standards of RPGs in 1994. It had a lot of good lines, which was far from a constant occurrence and still isn't to be taken for granted. On the other hand, Nintendo's censorship 13 years ago was rather omnipresent. How much of FFIII's dialogue would have been altered if the censor board would have let it pass??

As for newer versus older gamers, the newer ones ought to know what they're in for (an undeniably superb RPG that just happens to lack all the snazzy cinemas of current fare). I can only suspect that the redone translation was thought to be another incentive for players of the original to snap it up, since no redone language is going to fool all the players with top-of-the-line graphics on their minds into buying it.

Chrono Trigger. Do you think SquareEnix is just sitting on this one, waiting until all the ports/remakes/cash grabs from the Final Fantasy Series are done with before they make it available? They wouldn't tease us like that, would they, releasing FF6j back to the huddled gamer masses, while withholding its equally worthy brethren. And lastly, what are your thoughts on the aforementioned games, either in original or re-make format?

-Nick Hale

JuMeSyn

Well, Nick, I dig FFVI and Chrono Trigger. What Square-Enix is up to with Chrono Trigger I wouldn't venture to guess. Perhaps a new version for the DS, with some additional areas near the end the way I suggested a few months back to the Ouro? That game doesn't need any big changes, a few extra Techs and some new things to do would be FINE by me. At the very least wrap up Schala's story!

Of course if they do give somewhat enhanced versions of older titles to the DS, I would hope Seiken Densetsu 3, Bahamut Lagoon, Star Ocean, Front Mission, possible Treasure Hunter G and the Romancing Sagas, and Dragon Quest 5 and 6, make it over too. Some I've played enough to judge, some not, but I'll play them all in Japanese if I must.



C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I don't think I mentioned Sakura Wars at all today. Galbadia Hotel has the soundtracks coming up to be added, so I'm happy.

Oh, and anyone who thinks the Phantom Menace was bad (which I still do) - try downloading the Star Wars Holiday Special. Aired in November 1978, never to be seen legally again. Do I need to say more than Art Carney occupies Imperial troops by showing them a Jefferson Starship music video? It's BAD.

On my second try at answering letters ever, I hope I did a fair job. Someday I'll be back, but not soon. Gotta accumulate more obscure older games to baffle people with references regarding, after all! Bwa ha ha ha ha!


Josh

Sorry to butt in, but I need to point out that Bainick will try to cohost on Monday, so send him some mail! Don't wanna have to give him any leftover JuMeSyn stuff that was sent in late, do I? ^^;


***JuMeSyn has to mod the new SNES for playing Der Langrisser....


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