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Down for the Count April 10, 2006

Josh - 01:05 EST

Finally...sleep.

On the plus side, I was able to make something quite TASTY for dinner tonight - here. Gaze in awe at my culinary skill...Experiment #2 was a success!




L E T T E R S
Yeah, it's not an RPG. I don't care. Bite me.


Oh, hooray, an excuse to talk about Silent Hill!

I love Silent Hill. It is the grandest of all survival horror series, and has the unique distinction of being the grandest of all survival horror series while being consistently poorly designed and executed. Not a single one of them could traditionally be considered a "good" game, given the consistently bad controls and clunky combat. The gameplay of Silent Hill is always a bit of a chore, but the EXPERIENCE of playing is so emotive and engaging as to make up for it. And it's genuinely scary - not in a "boo!" sort of Resident Evil cop-out of a way, but in a more cerebral, creeping sort of way.

Which is why it might actually work on some level as a film, and be more than a lame action-fest. The kind that features that chick from the Fifth Element (a movie, parenthetically, that actively hates you and everything you believe in, and proves it by prominently featuring Chris Tucker emitting a high-pitched whine for what must amount to a full third of the film.)

Which is also why it will be even more disappointing when the film is the train wreck it is more than likely to be.

Maybe I'm just pessimistic. Maybe the track record of video game movies is so dismal, there having never ever been one even close to good, that it's made me cynical. Maybe I was already cynical. There does, after all, have to be a FIRST one that will turn out good; there have been good comic book movies, and who'd have seen THAT coming?

Maybe there's a chance in a Silent Hill movie for video game adaptations to climb up from the bottom rung of the cinematic ladder, where they have languished right alongside 70's TV show adaptations, films built around one-note and unfunny SNL characters, and anything Rob Schneider has ever done, ever.

Honestly, it does look sort of promising. And of course I'm going to see it one way or the other, just like I saw Doom and both Resident Evil films and laughed myself into a near-stupor. But I think there's actually no way a film could do justice to Silent Hill, because it takes out the level of interactivity that MAKES Silent Hill as good as it is.

On the most basic level, if you die in Silent Hill, you have to start over from wherever you saved last, which always sucks. But in a deeper sense, that person on the screen is the digital representation of you. You manipulate your avatar around those superbly-rendered and deeply disturbing environments, and they will live or die depending on your actions.

There's an absolute immersion in that that a film is bound to take away. (No matter how long that FPS-style segment at the end of Doom went on, you still had no control over what was going on. Because if you had, you would have had the character turn the gun on himself, if only to end the movie sooner.) There is no replicating that feeling in Silent Hill 4, when you wake up in your room and don't know what you're going to find as you walk through it, first-person perspective, ready to exorcise any demons that might have shown up in your absence. The environment is the real star of the series, and interacting with the environment itself is where the scare comes from, rather than just having some dead guy crash through a window with his arms outstretched.

If they stay true to the theme, the mythology, and the muted, atmospheric style of scare in the series, then the movie will be largely a success. I don't expect that any of those things will happen, for fear of getting my hopes up. But even if they do, the movie will still be something of a disappointment; I'll likely end up feeling like I'd rather just go home and actually play Silent Hill.

I love the series so much that even a film of "Exorcist" caliber would probably not do it justice in my own head. And I think it's a pretty safe bet we won't be getting that.

-TV's Adam

P.S. As for RPG weaponry: swords all the way. Demand the original article. Slicey-slicey.

Except for Squall's gunblade, which was like Sword 2.0. Bayonet trumping firearm. Completely illogical, no way it could even come close to existing. What a beautiful dream that was.

Josh

After looking at the director's blog, it seems like he's taking the style of the series very seriously. I have high hopes for this film, and if it follows the path of so many other video game movies...I'm going to be incredibly disappointed.

I never had a problem with the interface until SH4, when they got rid of relative movement and made the game more combat-based. With constant camera changes, you need relative movement. All the combat really deters from the 'survival' aspect of the series, too. SH2 had one of the greatest plots ever, and SH3's gameplay and atmosphere were top-notch.

I hope the movie just gives me that creeped-out feeling just by looking at the scenery. Watching the backdrop change from normality to one of metal and blood should bring a chill down my spine as I start hoping that the lead character doesn't go around any corners blindly. I want her to be scared out of her wits, and to question the psychological atrocities that are all around her.

Also...Pyramid Head? Sweeeeeet!



Quick! Look to the right! They're watching...


Dear JoshOuro

As I was reading Q&A yesterday, I saw a whole bunch of ads selling swords and sword-related merchandise. There was one for highlander20th.com, Wholesale swords, Nagayama's Japanese Swords book, and sharpedgetrading ..com. Was this done on purpose, you know, with the whole swords in RPGs topic going on?

Speaking of which, the only weapon that I wish we could see more of in RPGs is the LACK of weapons! That's right, I want to see more brawler characters in my games who just rely on their bare hands feet. Sure, Yang, Zell, Ayla, Regal, and some Jade Empire are cool, but there aren't that many of them. What ever happened to good old fashion putting up of dukes? Also, my question is this: besides Tales of Legendia, is there another RPG in which the main character DOESN'T fight with a sword (or swords)? I think FFVIII is the game that most people use to associate with the RPG weirdness of using swords in an age of guns and cannons, and make it RPG cliche #1.

Another similar question: do you know of any RPGs in which the main character isn't some warrior/fighter/knight/barbarian/soldier character? I suppose there is Zindane, who comes across as a thief/scoundrel character.

And man, all this talk about swords has got me asking this final question: am I the only one who thinks that a Soul Caliber RPG would completely OWN?

Alan

Josh

Yeah...that's Google, spying on us! ^^ Basically, their scripting detects items of interest on the HTML page, and generates advertisements that reflect it - We were talking about swords, so we got sword advertisements!

Brawlers are pretty sweet. When they had announced the expansion for Guild Wars, I prayed that one of them would be a hand-to-hand fighter class. We didn't get it, but man, that would have been awesome. As for characters who don't wield swords...

  • Heroes from Suikoden I/II - Staff/Tonfar
  • Mario - Glove, Mallet, Turtle Shell!
  • Chrono Cross - A swallow, which is basically a pole with a blade on either end.
  • FFIX - Well, daggers. Technically, not a sword. :P
  • Parasite Eve I/II - Guns.
  • Illusion of Gaia - A flute!
  • Wild ARMs 3 - Guns, again.
  • Threads of Fate - Giant Wrench / Rings

That's just off the top of my head, I'm sure there are more. As for not a fighter character...

  • Rena - Star Ocean 2

Yeah...can't think of many. That's a good point, though. I suppose they do it because they want the main character to be in the think of things...they couldn't possibly be as interesting if they just sat in the back row and healed people now, would they? I could use a change of pace, though.

A Soul Caliber RPG would be...different. I imagine that fighting would be rather engaging, but the story takes up, at most, an entire page of text. Couldn't go anywhere. However, it would be great to get Maxi out there to beat the hell out of the enemies with his nunchaku. :)



This letter brought to you in part by person.


Ouro/Matt/Josh/Tiptail/person:

OH MY GODS am I excited about the Silent Hill movie! Silent Hill is one of the holy triumvirate of game series for me (the other two being Dragon Quest and MegaTen), and I was totally psyched to see the plans for the movie a year or two ago. And yeah, given the trend of game-to-movie transitions being anything but good, I was really worried, but seeing screenshots and the trailer, I think it's going to be truly awesome. Seems like they tried to mash a good number of elements from all three of the main games into one storyline, but since Team Silent worked on the movie with the American producers, I think that'll work out well. Plus...more Akira Yamaoka music. I'm droolin' here.

Josh

::is entirely too giddy to reply::

On the subject of RPG weaponry...well geez. I don't mind characters who wield swords, but it does get old after about a hundred games have done it. I'm talking about *main* characters there, mind you. I liked that Yuri in the Shadow Hearts games uses knuckles, which is a weapon I don't think we see enough of in RPGs. And Johhny uses...well, the weapon itself is kind of a spoiler, but I'll say he uses a "modified" pocket knife. My favorite weapons to see wielded by RPG characters are daggers, rods (not mage rods, but tonfa and the life), and axes of any kind. I was very relieved when I started reading about Dragon Quest VIII, knowing that I didn't have to have a sword-wielding main character if I didn't want to. I prefer situations like that, where characters don't just have one weapon type they can equip, but a pool of types to choose from.

The weapon I've grown to hate, though, is the swallow. You know, dual-bladed swords like Serge or Kyril (Suikoden Tactics) use. For some reason I find that weapon so utterly annoying!

Josh

I too like the option of being able to specialize in more than one weapon type. Having the same skill set each playthrough is not only repetitive, but it also just shows that the developers didn't put the effort in that they could have to increase variety and replay value. Give me options, dammit!

My question isn't much of one, but I wanted to know. Are any of you staffer people excited about Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou? After reading a lot about it yesterday I realized it's very different from other MegaTen universe games. Do you think that's going to be a good thing or a bad thing?

- Janus

Josh

Well, I don't have too much experience with MegaTen (just Persona 2). I've been trying to get my hands on a copy of Digital Devil Saga, but no one around here seems to carry it. Ah well. But, regardless of what series it is, change can be good or bad. If a system works well, and people go about changing it, there are going to be those that will hate it on principle, and those that will embrace the change. I reserve the right to love it or despise it after I play it.



NO! She followed me!


Dear Josh,

Aren't you glad I used your name? It must be nice, hehe.

But I digress... I was just casually reading through your last column and I happened upon the letter about female leads. Well, it got me thinking. When I think back to games I've enjoyed and/or characters I've liked, I realize that I actually prefer to play male characters (and I'm a female)! I don't think I've ever had a favorite character who was female. In fact, I usually dislike the female characters! I tend to find myself straying from the "girl" games and vie for more action-oriented games (ie. Medal of Honor, Soul Calibur, the like). In RPG games, I would practically be in gamerz heaven (ahaha) if the main party consisted entirely of guys! Maybe the problem is that I get jealous of the girls...

The only game that I prefer playing as a girl is Harvest Moon, and that's probably because I can really relate to the main character because everything she does is entirely up to you. In this way it's as if you're really playing it, so then it's no problem, because I can marry all these cute guys!

So then, my question... why do you think guys have a harder time playing as girls than girls do playing as guys? I have absolutely no trouble being a rough and rugged man and doing all these manly things in games, but most guys would not be caught dead playing any kind of girl. Just wondering what your thoughts were (although I know it's similar to the last question).

Endearingly,

Your most favorite co-worker ever... Chinroku_sama

Josh

Ugh...you just HAD to write in, didn't you? I told you to stay in your little RT corner! And, you can't "casually" read my column...you have to be hardcore about it. Any more talk of this "casual" stuff, and I'll have your head!

::snugs Chinroku::

I don't know...as far as MMOs go, I think males play girls more often than not. As for other RPGs...I could make up some crap about how girls are better at emoting than guys, and can therefore transpose themselves cross-gender better than males, but I don't know. I generally play as women in games where there is usually a stereotypical difference, such as fighting games. I prefer speed over raw power, so you'll probably see me picking female characters over male characters the majority of the time.

So, you want me to figure out the female psyche in order to fully answer this question?

-.-

Impossible, I tell you!



I'm starting to worry about this guy.


Hey Josh,

The question of weapon choices for heroes came up recently and without a doubt my personal favorite has been the axe. Whatever it takes to get an axe into the hands of one of my heroes I will do it. I was glad DQVIII had Yangus as it had been a while since a non-console or non-tactics RPG had given me the option. Along those lines, FFT would have ranked much higher with me if Ramza's Squire class had been allowed to wield axes like the average Squire, what a rip.

If I have to play another wannabe sword-wielding knight I might just have to get violent.

Xlash the dwarf berserker

Josh

Axes...the more powerful, yet somehow slower counterparts to swords. Any reason for using an instrument that chops down trees on some other living thing is a good reason. I want to know where the Sai are. Three pronged daggers need lovin' too!



QUICKIES


With all these people bashing female lead roles, I would just like to ask...has anyone ever played FFVI?

Seriously people.

Seriously.

-Justine

FFVI is generally perceived to not really have ONE main character. In fact, Terra pretty much drifts from focus once you reach the World of Ruin. It's much safer to assume that the entire cast was central, rather than just one character.

Seriously.

Man I've been writing in a lot recently... this is just a quickie

How come Electronics Boutique was taken over here in Europe and had its name changed to Game, when clearly that hasn't happened anywhere else?

Stef

I have no idea. Probably due to German efficiency. They probably saw that discrepancy and said, "Ja! Feex eet! Schnell!" I'm sure it was taken care of right then and there, ja.



C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Sorry for being so terse today. I'm really out of it, and I definitely need to hit the sack. Thanks for writing in this weekend, guys! It was great, and hopefully I'll see you all next Saturday! Give Matt something to chew on until then. See ya!


ourobolus@rpgamer.com
***Josh has completely checked out.


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Let's see...NyQuil dosage...ah, screw it. ::CHUG::

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