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Stuck in Orbit July 17, 2006

Josh - 11:10 EST

Turns out that if you stay up late to do your paper until 2:00AM, that doesn't leave much time to pound out a Q&A column. So unfortunately, I failed to get that done, but here I am today!

Also, Arros has chosen Bucket to ask him a question about Disgaea. So if for some reason you didn't get my email, shoot me an email and we'll see what we can do, Bucket!




L E T T E R S
Made it!


Hello again, Matt. Thought about giving this one to our weekend host, but I just didn't get the time to write it and send it. So lucky you, you get it all to yourself.

I was just on GameFAQS.com, and saw that there were a couple of reviews up for Xenosaga Episode III. I skimmed through one of them, careful to avoid any spoilers, as I have yet to play Ep. 2. (But I will....I'll try to make it a priority before the end of this year.) Well, the reviews were quite positive- (9/10 and 8/10), so I guess this is good news. Apparently the story comes to quite a spectacular end, and the game is no less plot-heavy in spite of the fact that the series' writer is gone. (Something I was afraid of.) Also, the game apparently does create quite a few more ties between the Xenosaga series and Xenogears....which I guess will just make it all the more painful that Episode III is the last we'll see of the series.

One of the reviews stated that the game would definitely have to be censored in order to make a T rating in North America. I remember reading just a few weeks ago that a certain scene in Episode 1 with Albedo and Momo was censored for it's North American release. (Dunno which one exactly.) What exactly are your thoughts on censorship? I can see why they do it, but personally, I'd like to see the story as it was originally written. I would buy Episode III if it was M-rated, and I think that most fans would.

Oh, here's just an interesting tidbit: I was on the PlayStation page on GameFAQS, and guess what the top 10 FAQ pages are, and have been for quite a while? 1: Final Fantasy VII, 2: Final Fantasy VIII, 3: Final Fantasy IX, 4: Final Fantasy Tactics, 5: Chrono Cross, 6: The Legend of Dragoon, 7: Xenogears, 8: Valkyrie Profile, 9: Breath of Fire III 10: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Anything about that list seem strange? They're all RPG's! Heh, go figure.

So....I recently *almost* gave up on Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Why? I'll tell you why. The gameplay in COM consists of you running throughout disney worlds, fighting heartless, and collecting "card keys" which are required to open every single door. Now, each door requires a specific card criteria; for instance, a door might require a card value of "8" or lower, 7 or higher, a green-coded card, a red-coded card, et cet. You aquire these cards completely by chance-you are awarded with a single card after each battle. Now usually, having the proper card is not a problem. But then there are times when you absolutely do not have the proper card. At a time like this, you are required to go fight heartless after heartless, praying that they'll drop the card you need. Once again, this is usually not too big of a problem. If you're lucky, you'll get the card you need relatively quickly. However....if you are extremely unlucky, you just might be at the last door of the game, you might not have the proper card, and you just might spend four hours fighting heartless, level up approximately 15 times, and never find the required card. This is frustrating beyond description; this isn't a boss that I can't beat, it's not a chest I can't find, it's not a matter of skill, it's a matter of chance. Well, uh....I've never not finished a game before, and I didn't feel like starting now. So I went and fought some more....and I found it. (To be exact, I needed a blue-coded card with a value of 1. Teehee.) And I finished the game. And, um....I can safely say that I enjoyed it. So, um....I guess my question is: have you ever been so frustrated with a game that you've given up in anger? Or, almost given up?

It's time for me to share MY want list! I'll divide it into two lists:
UPCOMING GAMES THAT I WANT: (In order of most wanted to least wanted)

  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
  • Final Fantasy XII
  • Xenosaga Episode III
  • Final Fantasy III DS
  • Tales of the Abyss
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  • Tales of the Tempest
  • Dirge of Cerberus
  • Final Fantasy VI GBA
  • Final Fantasy V GBA

Okay...now, a slightly different list. Games that are currently out-(some of them for, ah, several years)-that I need to play, but haven't. (This would be too huge if I was to list them all. I'll just do the top...umm...9)

  • Dragon Quest VIII (Okay....I've never played a DQ game. I've heard nothing but good things about this, but for some reason I've yet to give it a try).
  • Kingdom Hearts II (After playing COM, I really want to see how the story continues).
  • Xenosaga Episode II
  • Final Fantasy X-2 (GAAHH!)
  • Tales of Legendia (Considering how much I love the tales series, I have no idea why I've waited this long)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Vagrant Story (People seem to love or hate this one, although all of the critical reviews I've read have been decidedly positive.)
  • Fire Emblem (Your recent praise of the game was what got me interested, I did some reading and now I'd like to give it a try.)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

There are so many games to play. And increasingly less time to play them. As it is now, I never replay games, in my endeavor to play each and every quality game out there. I just read that EA recently announced another Lord of the Rings RPG, entitled The Lord of the Rings: The White Council. One game I've never seen mentioned here is EA's Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. My personal experience with that game is not so good; I was hoping for a match made in heaven, what I got was....not. It was a lame FFX rip-off, with gameplay so minimal and a story so watered-down that it just barely passes as an RPG. I played through the whole damn thing, (It was only 20 hours long after all,) and I did derive some enjoyment from it, but that's just because I am a die-hard LOTR fan.

So what are your thoughts? White Council could redeem TTA if done right. The game is set 70 years before the LOTR trilogy, so they won't have any constraints with the storyline, and it looks like they might go for an Oblivion-style approach to the gameplay, which will make exploration a big factor. (Although this isn't confirmed.) Like I said, if done right, a Lord of the Rings RPG could be a match made in heaven.

Until my next writing,
Oliver.

Josh

Whew! ^^

Well, you actually -did- send it in on time, so I'll ignore the fact that you called me Matt. But just this once. :P

Well thank god. I generally stay away from the GameFAQs reviews and their forums, as I generally manage to lose my IQ slowly the longer I stay. But that's good to hear about Xenosaga. I'm a little disappointed that they aren't going to make it completely tie into/get up to Episode 5, but it was expected. As for censorship...it's frickin' America. I love my country, but we do some pretty dumb things. We'll parade our pre-teen daughters in pants where you can see the thong, but then we turn around and yak about censorship. It takes a lot to offend me, so I would have no problems whatsoever with the complete content of everything. Since gamers are going to get the M-rated games if they try hard enough anyway, I just don't see the point sometimes.

I know I've mentioned this countless times before, but Unlimited Saga still burns my memory with its game that is entirely based on chance and not a hint of skill whatsoever. I know what you're feeling in CoM, as that sort of thing happens -regularly- in USaga, where you will pound away at an enemy, drop their HP to 0, but for some reason you won't damage their LP until you've hit them 30 times.

If I only had a DS, I'd get a FFIII. But I haven't really found any other games for it that I want, sadly. I'll gladly get Loz:TP, as well as the numerous Final Fantasies that are being released. Same goes for the Tales games.

Since I didn't play KH:CoM, I'm a little wary of playing KH2, though I hear there's a sort of summary that gets you up to speed. That really annoys me, them making an offshoot game on ANOTHER SYSTEM that directly continues the story. What a pain in my patoot. I highly recommend Dragon Quest VIII...I'd only played DW4 and DW3 before that one, and I was quite happy with it. Xenosaga 2 is good, but I find the battle system flawed...wait...you haven't played Final Fantasy Tactics? Run! Go get a copy! *loves his copy*

Lord of the Rings practically screams RPG, seeing as how every RPG stereotype practically stems from it. I believe developers get so worried with constraints that they eventually just facefault and produce a crappy game. I loved LotR, but I'm not a die-hard, reads-the-history fan, but I'd love to see another effort that doesn't botch what goodness the series has been for so long.



Timmy, thou shalt never purchase me games aginst my knowledge.


I'm telling you guys, Legend of Heros and Legend of Heros 2 are both really great RPGs for the PSP. And honestly, name 1 good RPG for the DS that is out right now. You can't because they all suck. Come next week, the PSP will be even better for RPGs with Lenneth and Blade Dancer. When the day is done, both the DS(FF3, Children of Mana, Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Crystal Chronicles) and the PSP(Lenneth, Blade Dancer, Legend of Heros 1 and 2) will/already have good RPGs.

And before anyone says anything, Castlevania is NOT an RPG. I love Castlevania with all of my heart, but they are not RPGs.

Josh

Well, my little brother has been playing Legend of Heroes, and he loves it, which undoubtedly means that I won't. I've tried to mould him over the years, but it seems my efforts have been futile, as he kept picking up copies of Azure Dreams and Guardian's Crusade. Ah well.

I won't even bother naming RPGs for the DS merely because I know none exist yet that I'm willing to purchase. As for RPGs, the PSP and DS are on fairly level playing fields at the moment, but the surge in the near future will probably keep the DS ahead, if at least for a little while. I honestly don't understand why more RPGs aren't in development by big-name companies for the PSP.

Castlevania games (well, the recent ones) are RPGs, I say! You've got your HP, MP, stats, equipment, you walk around killing things, your character gains experience which causes him/her to grow...sounds like one to me :P



::Falls over::


What is the most annoying enemy you've fought in an RPG? My pick would have to be lichs in Baldur's Gate II. Between the mazing, the fear, the holding, the paralyzing, the poisoning, the impossible saving throws, the ridiculously low (yes, 2E! confuse the masses with your counter-intuitive rules, much to my glee...) magical armor class, lichs just plain piss me off. They throw so many damn status effects at you, that no one character can come close to protecting against even a majority of the attacks. I don't mind generally difficult enemies, but when victory seems to come from dumb luck rather than skill, I start getting a wee bit frustrated. Thanks be to quicksave!

Eagerly awaiting the apparently comatose Baldur's Gate III,
Vicissitude

Josh

The first time I came across it, the Stone guys in Omega Ruins of FFX were annoying, as they'd just petrify my whole party at a moment's notice. Other than that, practically every enemy that changes their weakness without letting you know is a pain. Any enemy that can insta-kill your entire party always drove me nuts, because death spells usually work 0.000000001% of the time on the enemy, and 101% of the time on your party. So yes, I agree, luck over skill is a bad combination in battle.



My candidacy will -still- prevail!


Overlord Ourobolus,

Ah, but if you're protected by the internet, aren't we also protected from you? Well, anyway, you're starting to convince me of your superiority as an candidate, but I'm not totally swayed. You see, while you have been very open about it, many other Overlords have been gaining power in the shadows. Each of them has made similar arguments as well. Well, Libra said something about pink dragon bunnies and then laughed maniacally, but you know what I mean. Anyway, my question is this: what makes you superior to these other candidates?

-Roku

Josh

You forget, my friend. I'm learning how to -infiltrate- systems up here. You are not protected from me...mwahahahahahaha (Note: I'd never actually do that...maybe).

I'm clearly superior, because I was here first, for one. I have flaming turtles, and as we all know, the turtle beat the bunny in that race, so Libra is using outdated weaponry. I have people skills, as I regularly annoy readers on a daily basis. I also can tie a cherry stem into a knot in with my tongue! How awesome and high-schoolish is that!?!?



PSP vs DS, Tonight, it's Fight NIGHT!


Josh,

All hail Mr. Ouro! I've visited this topic with Matt, so why not throw my two cents in with you as well? The PSP may indeed redeem itself in the coming months with titles like Valkyrie Profile, Blade Dancer, and even Crisis Core: FF7. The big mystery here, to my way of thinking is: Will there be enough quality RPGs produced to usurp the death-grip the DS has on the handheld RPG market? My prediction: No way. The DS simply has too much going for it. Take long anticipated titles like Children of Mana and FF3, and add to that the fact that FF V and VI are in the works for the GBA, which the DS can double as, and Square-Enix stands poised to keep the DS on the throne by it's backing alone. Let's not forget also that we have Other RPGs coming as well, like Contact from Atlus, which I think could be a sleeper hit, and Magical Starsign, which intrigues me greatly. Granted, Square-Enix is giving some love to the PSP, but it's almost as if they're saying "We better feed this scraggly kitten before it starves to death." It's really a shame too, because as I said to Matt, the PSP has so much potential, and Josh I'm sure you can see it clearly too. Don't you just wish that we could see an explosion of awesome games on the PSP like we see on the DS?

Another factor is simply localization. The PSP has some great Japan-only RPGs, like Suikoden I and 2, and Breath of Fire 3, and while these are remakes of classic PS1 games, It would be great to have a wonderful throwback to nostalgia. Granted these games can be imported, but in the case of remakes, it's hard to justfiy buying a game you may already have, especially if you can't read it properly. Fighting games, shooters, and other genres can be managed without too much focus on the language, but an RPG is a story, after all, and if a story is told in a foreign tounge that you may not know, how can you fully enjoy it? Alas, I fear that the PSP may not catch up to it's rival.

But enough ranting! I have Radiata Stories to contend with and this time, by gum, I'm going to get through it! Seeya later, Snakeinator!

~Donovan

Josh

Yeah, the DS does have backwards-compatibility going for it, but still...as for its own games it doesn't have much of a death grip...yet. The PSP really does have an opportunity to come ahead if developers start jumping on its side. I would love to see more games on the PSP, because so far, I love the way the system feels, as it's much more natural than the DS, with it's strange clunky design and stupid stylus. If Suikoden 1 & 2 came out over here, I be ecstatic...I adore those games and the ability to take them on the go would be perfect. I know I've played several fighters and shooters from Japan and haven't cared about the language barrier...but RPGs are different (though I did manage to beat half of Chrono Cross in Japanese ^^;;;).

Ah well, I'll just sit back and see what comes out of this giant handheld battle...





T H O N G
Combat Log

Vicissitude casts MERTON!
Bainick falls 4 spaces to Tile 10.
Vicissitude falls 2 spaces to Tile 13.
Ourobolus casts SLOW!
Bainick falls 1 space to Tile 9.
Bainick moves 2 spaces to Tile 11.
Vicissitude moves 3 spaces to Tile 16.
Donovan moves 2 spaces to Tile 8.
BLG moves 2 spaces to Tile 7.
Roku moves 2 spaces to Tile 13.
Alan Tse moves 1 space to Tile 7.


For lower resolutions, click here

Presenting...

THE HOPEFULLY OUTSTANDING NEW GAME!

Or, THONG for short. For now, the prizes will be limited to Guest-Hosting opportunities, since this is essentially an experiment. I'm positive that it will turn out well, though! Now, for the setup:

This is the game board. If you ever talk to CactuarJoe, make sure to thank him for the wonderful job he did! Thanks Joe!

If you want to join: Please send me your top 3 choices for characters for your game piece. A list of them that can be used can be found here. Please only choose from the "PARTY" or "NPC" links. Also make sure that the character has a left/right-facing sprite, and a front/back facing sprite. Thanks!

  • Everyone begins the game on START.
  • For every letter you write in, I will roll a 3-sided die (I'll use RPGamer's resident Random Number Generator, DiceyBot). That will determine how many spaces you move.
  • You may only get credit for one letter, per day - max 3 per weekend. Timestamps will be checked, and only letters sent during Friday - Monday before my column will be counted towards that weekend. Letters sent at other times during the week will not count until Saturday.
  • Letters must be addressed to me, at either qna@rpgamer.com or ourobolus@rpgamer.com. Letters will get credit even if they are unanswered, or even if Matt answers them.
  • If you land on a Spell Tile, you MUST use the spell listed on the Tile. Spells and their effects are listed after the rules.
  • The Trivia Tile MUST be landed on before you may enter the FINISH Tile. Answering the trivia question correctly will automatically grant you entry into the FINISH Tile, and you will receive the prize.
  • If you reach the Trivia Tile, another reader who is participating in the game will ask you a question. However, the person who lands on the Tile decides WHICH reader asks the question, as well as WHICH RPG from which the question will be asked (e.g. "Wonderslime wants Bainick to ask him a question about Chrono Trigger").
  • If the person who provides the question has not played the game, they may use anything necessary to come up with a question. Failure to provide a question over 2 days of my column will result in the same effect as if the receiver answered the question right, and he/she will progress to the FINISH Tile.
  • If you are on the Trivia Tile, you are invulnerable until the first question has been completed.
  • The Prize for this initial board will be 5 Guest Hosting positions. Once those are completed, a new board will be created, probably with more prizes.
  • The effects will go as such. Movement->Spells Cast->Effects. Everyone will move at the same time, all spells will be cast at the same time, and all effects will happen at the same time. Attack spells will be cast at the beginning of the day after they were landed on. Spells are cast only if the character is on the space at the -end- of the day.

Spell effects are as follows:

  • Bolt 1: Player chooses another player to push back 1 tile.
  • Bolt 2: Player chooses another player to push back 2 tiles.
  • Stop: The next time Player sends in a letter, it will take 2 days for the roll to take place.
  • Haste: Player receives an extra roll which will make him/her advance 1-3 tiles.
  • Slow: Player receives an extra roll which will make him/her retreat 1-3 tiles.
  • Merton: Player chooses another player to push back 4 tiles, at the cost of Player moving back 2 tiles. Can only be used twice.
  • Roulette: I roll a 20-sided die. Any players standing on that numbered tile are pushed back 2 tiles.
C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

We may have a guest host soon enough, people. Here's hoping! I hope you all manage to have a wonderful week, and give Matt your best! Take care!


ourobolus@rpgamer.com
***Josh really needs to sleep.


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What the hell? Someone's already done with this week's project? ARGH! It would help if I was actually familiar with this crap this week...

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Josh's Top 3 Distractions:

1. Ramming my head repeatedly into a wall

2. Writing a thesis a week

3. Running 8 miles

RPGs I'm currently playing:

1. Grandia III

2. Xenosaga II

3. Romancing SaGa

4. Radiata Stories

5. Wild Arms: ACF

THONG Players

1. Carabbit
Fairy Esper

2. Gouden Draak
Blue Dragon

3. Macstorm
General Leo

4. Genjuu
Shadow

5. Carlisle
Ghost

6. Bainick
Mog

7. Angel
Celes

8. Wonderslime
Gestahl

9. Powerlord
Ultros

10. Vicissitude
Wedge

11. Bucket
Relm

12. Donovan
Setzer

13. Roku
Locke

14. JCIV
Umaro

15. Arros Raikou
Sabin

16. The Bluick
Imp

17. Chinroku
Owain

18. Xlash
Duncan

19. Alan Tse
Siegfried

20. AcidKnight
Figaro Soldier

21. soulofbass
Gogo

22. BLG
Maduin

23. Eric
Edgar

24. Leaper
Wolf Esper

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