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When Editorial Staff Attacks! August 5, 2006

Macstorm - 8:06 EST

Here I sit on the last day of my vacation down here at the beach. Oh, it has been great. I've been snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, playing with crabs, and all kinds of other fun stuff. Now, I get to do another Q&A. Yay! I don't want to go home, but alas, I must. But for now, enjoy my distracted replies as I eat, pack, and watch a movie. I also just celebrated my one year wedding anniversary on Sunday. I had lots of fun with that as well, but we'll not get into that. Enough about me... it's letter time.

Mac gains 1001 xp.

Hey, I read your comments on character leveling in the last Q&A column. and it got me thinking about my gaming habits. I've gotten into the habit of not even using my lower level characters unless I have to. I'll get a new character in my party and never use them because they're lower level than the characters I'm using so I don't bother with them.


In a lot of cases, I'm the same way. Though sometimes you can get good results by leveling up your low level folks. Those Penguins in Shining Force III sucked when you got them at level 1, but where awesome if you took the time to level them.

Normally in the beginning of a game when you pick up your second or third party member their level is close to what yours should be. But the other day I started playing the predecessor of one of my favorite SNES games (which I'll not mention the name due to the legality of which I was playing the unreleased yet translated game). Every time I acquired a new recruit to the team they started at level one. Which made it quite hard to keep them alive so they could level up, but I guess that makes sense being that they're all kids with no combat training. Oddly enough while leveling up before the final showdown with my alien great uncle my three characters were all within a level of each other. It's funny how that works out.


That kind of situation makes you wonder what developers where thinking about when designing a game that way. Level balancing is a tough issue to tackle. Just look at games like Fire Emblem where you get tons of characters. Always a pain to keep the levels even.

which brings me to my last topic up for discussion. Earthbound 2 or Mother 3 however you want to look at it. The game looks great. I've been playing a Japanese copy of it, which is a little tricky, but thanks to a walkthrough and translation guide I have some clue as to what's going on. The battle system is fun because you can do some crazy combos by tapping A in rhythm to the battle music. I truly hope they release it over here or I think I'm going to have to become fluent in Japanese just so I can play the game without having to check a walkthrough to see what I need to do next. I read somewhere online that it's going to be released in Europe in December so hopefully it will make it over here too.



There is no telling with the Earthbound/Mother games. I would really like a chance to play a fully translated version of Mother 3, though. Maybe we can get a compliation pack. That would rock.

Where do they come from...?

I think Xenosaga: Episode 1 had the same issue of being censored before being released in America. There was supposedly a sex scene between Albedo and Shion...I think I've mentioned this on here before, but how the hell would that come about?!



No...that can't be what...




No one could be this...I, hate, clouds...


Ok man, I don't know what you're on, but let's get some things straight...

The censored scene just involved some more grotesque versions of Albedo ripping his head off (He used a weapon, which is arguably LESS disturbing), as well as a scene where he sticks his hand through MOMO's chest and extracts data. In the American version, he just waves his hand across from her.

As for the creation of a Shibedo (Alion?), I imagine one night, they're at the bar, Shion gets lonely, and finally just eradicates Allen from the face of the universe. She's feeling vulnerable, having obliterated her friend, and Albedo, having had one too many drinks, waves her over, and magic happens.

Gee, I should write for Monolith, eh?

I'm a Pioneer! Err...*cough*...never mind.

What anime movie or series would you most like to see converted (or reconverted) into an RPG? I'd really like to see a Berserk RPG. Never gonna happen, but a guy can dream, can't he?



I'm not big into anime myself, so this is a tough one. I know there was a Record of Lodoss War game, but I would really like to have seen it as an RPG that would get a little more notice. So how about this? Why not convert some RPG into anime? Dragon Quest the anime, Lunar the anime, or Grandia the anime would all be interesting to see. Heck, they might exist already, but if they don't, they should.


I tried to avoid this one, not knowing -too- much about anime myself. However, I will watch the Iria OVA for hours on end, as well as Tenchi Muyo and Samurai Champloo. Sorry Mac! ^^;

See? I can be helpful. Sometimes. Maybe.

hi - I saw your website. I was wondering if you had access to a free walkthrough for this game. I am stuck at the end. I have defeted all of the bosses thus far. I have no idea what the "paranoia soul" is. can you offer any advice?

thanks - joe


Well, I haven't played Dawn of Sorrow, but...


The Paranoia Soul is gained from defeating Paranoia in The Pinnacle. Once you get that, you should be able to get into the mirror that you need to fight the secret boss.

Hope that helps!

No! I've passed it on!

Salutations, sir Josh, Oh, identifying what qualities draw me back into an RPG isn't hard to do - although it is very hard to qualify. If a game sucked me in for one playthrough, I generally like to play it through again. There have been exceptions (Lufia 1, Vay, Warsong - the first game is universally acknowledged as the least of them) but just about everything I've played through once I've played through again. And if a game failed to intrigue me enough, I stop in the middle and never play it again. I'm finicky that way. Y'know what - I didn't list enough obscure RPGs yesterday! Let's continue the spiel, as I go even farther into the hinterlands of games that were never properly recognized!


I can understand you not wanting to replay those.

Sailor Moon: Another Story. Say what you will about the Sailor Moon anime (and I've seen a fair chunk of it...) but this is a surprisingly high quality title to be found under the 'licensed game' category. Sure, it means more if you're familiar with who most of the baddies are from the show, but I enjoyed it enough to play through a Super Famicom cartridge. And then I found a translated ROM, so boy did I miss that boat.
Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyajin. This one I really don't know if I could've slogged through absent my fervor for all things Dragon Ball at the time. In retrospect acquiring every piece of Dragon Ball on video, subtitled was a colossal misuse of funds and gave me way too much occupied shelf space... but I digress. The game wasn't terrible but was roughly 95% leveling and 4.5% fighting bosses, so it got pretty monotonous. I must still have a liking for Dragon Ball somewhere though since I played through the ROM in its entirety six months ago....


Dragonball... kamahamaha! Sometimes endearing characters will make you want to return.

Rudra no Hihou. Here's a goofy one that I haven't played, but have never seen mentioned on Q&A. The sad part is that there's no way to translate it, since its magic system is based on the player inputting characters to form spells. The problem here is that there is no way to render a system built around the thousands of characters in Japanese into English.


Huhwhat? Never heard of it.



Soul Blazer. You mentioned Illusion of Gaia, which I liked, but Soul Blazer offered the neat concept of rewarding the player by rebuilding towns after monsters got whacked.
Shadowrun. Damn thing I kept losing on eBay bids for, but I'll get it eventually. SNES or Genesis, you make the call!
Lord of the Rings on SNES. Can it be as bad as everyone says?


I have to interject and say, "Yes."

Carry on.

Dark Wizard. Now this is an interesting tactical one I started playing on Sega CD, then for some reason left to start again. I'll get back to it eventually.
Popful Mail. Cute little action-RPG on Sega CD that sported a fine Working Designs translation. Goes by pretty fast, but it's fun and encourages replay for those trademark WD outtakes.
Albert Odyssey. Why am I the only one to mention possibly Working Designs' funniest translation job ever?


I'll mention it. I have this game and loved it. It was a dreadful play at points, but the dialogue was great. But that's just Working Designs for ya.

Shining Force CD. Certainly the least-played of the Shining Forces, thanks to its stranding on the poor Sega CD. Quality offering though, and quite lengthy -which is good. They combined two Game Gear games for it.
Okay, and now I must clear up the misconceptions you have about Shining Force III. A first-person battle system is not sported by it. You're probably thinking of Shining the Holy Ark, also on Saturn. And it's a fine game also, which I have played through multiple times. Aside from a few storyline tie-ins though, it has nothing to do with SFIII.
Shining Force III sports one potential downer, the return to the chapter system of SFI. I didn't mind after all the wandering around I did in SFII, but some might. And the battle system is straight Shining Force - with a few modifications to make it even better.
First - friendships. When two characters fight the same enemy, or one character heals others a lot, their friendship levels rise. Depending upon the character friendship levels can raise attack, defense, raise magic power, reduce the likelihood of enemy criticals and specials, increase counterattacks, raise magic resistance, and probably something I'm forgetting.
Second - specials. Every character has a certain range of weapons to equip. Each weapon a character can use has three levels of skill. It takes a lot of use to go up a skill level, but you're rewarded with some wicked-looking special attacks and the increase of attack power with each skiil level. And there are plenty of different specials to keep looking for.
Third - things happening on the battlefield. This is rather vague, but it essentially indicates how much more is going on in SFIII battles than there were in earlier SF's. In every chapter, for instance, there is a ruin or temple that the player must compete with thieves inside of. The ruins are optional, but many very nice items can be obtained - but once the thieves have their loot they'll leave and the ruins will be inaccessible. So it's a race. Also, many characters can only be recruited on the battlefield - don't go after them and they tend to get themselves killed easily. If they die before being recruited, they're gone. And numerous battles have something special going on - such as a battle between ships, where except when bird warriors fly over most of the force is stuck trying not to get hit by shellfire, or a battle where cannons must be taken over and used to blast down a gate before the boss will come down and fight. There are even several recruitable bosses, and a few of them I missed first time out.
And then there's the story. The Synchronicity System makes for a great twist, and I love figuring out where my other forces are at certain points in the story. Scenario 1 takes place from Synbios's perspective as the son of a prominent figure in the Republic of Aspinia, Scenario 2 takes place from Medion's perspective as the third prince of the Destonian Empire, and Scenario 3 takes place from Julian's perspective as a mercenary formerly under the direct employ of others. 1 and 2 take place concurrently, 3 starts midway through their timelines and concludes the story. Just as a quick note, this story is much much better than the tales of Shining Force 1, 2, and CD. But you wouldn't want it spoiled, right?
And there's the little bonus of the Premium Disk. Lots of bonus materials, along with the bonus battles against first some villains (far from all!) from SFIII and then against the final foes of past Shining Forces. You can pick anybody from your save file to be on the team, and the last few battles are really tough.


Not to skim over this, but I'm going to, just so that I can talk once again about my love for Shining Force. The second time this column. Shining Force CD was a great play. That combined with the two Lunar games made me happy that I bought the Sega CD.

I'm glad you got me on this, because I have all three of the Shining Force III games, though I couldn't understand a word said in the last two scenarios. I loved every minute of it. I really wish I could have gotten the Premium Disk, that is my one wish.

In case I've been in any way unclear here, I urge you with every fiber of my being to track this down and play it. Any means necessary. I hear someone finally came up with a working Saturn emulator....


Thank goodness I still have my Saturn.

Swamp Diamonds I don't remember being quite as boring as that German Hamlet, but any Roger Corman movie is quite capable of sucking your interest away. If you haven't seen one, try out Teenage Caveman or The Undead. TC will make you disbelieve your watch, because clearly 6 hours have passed in 30 minutes of sheer boredom. And The Undead comes Leonard Maltin-approved, so you've got that assurance! His 3 star rating means it's just as good as Unforgiven, Superman II, and better than The Princess Bride or Alien! Of course once you've actually seen the thing, you'll most likely write him hate mail.

What good or mediocre Sci-Fi movies could be made into RPGs? Fantasy too, but not many fantasy movies have been successful except LotR - and that hardly needs new games.



Hmmm. Let me throw out some ideas for new RPGs that could be made. Star Trek the MMO. Dragonlance the RPG. Hey, it will be a movie soon, so I guess that counts. But that leads me to books. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind or the Dark Tower series by Stephen King could do well in the RPG arena.

Sorry if it seems like I glossed over your letter, but if it makes you feel good, I did the same for the rest of these as well. Packing to come home from vacation will do that to you.

Combat Log

Wonderslime moves 2 spaces to Tile 17.
Alan Tse moves 4 spaces to Tile 17.
Vicissitude moves 1 space to Tile 20.

For lower resolutions, click here



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 4-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 or Letters will get credit even if they are unanswered, or even if Matt answers them.
  • If you land on a Spell Tile, you MAY use the spell listed on the Tile (excluding Haste, Slow, Roulette, and Stop). You do not have to, 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.

Argh, I feel terrible, 'cause I got a tad confused over Mac's vacation dates, so...urgh. Sorry Mac, I hope this didn't take too much out of it. I'll make it up to ya!

You know, we're starting to get into the age of multiplayer gaming in consoles across the internet (well, there have been many games already, but hear me out), but other than FFXI, there haven't been too many RPGs that take advantage of these capabilities! So, are there any ideas you have for the expansion of RPGs into the online console arena?

See you all tomorrow!
***Josh has written 60 pages of stuff in the past 3 days.

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Josh's Top 3 Distractions:

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RPGs I'm currently playing:

1. Grandia III

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Fairy Esper

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9. Powerlord

10. Vicissitude

11. Bucket

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16. The Bluick

17. Chinroku

18. Xlash

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