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Reaching the Bottom August 15, 2006

Josh - 8:10 EST

Where are you guys lately? The mailbox is pretty empty. I've had ex-girlfriends show me more love. :P

Anyway, I'm finally moved in, and everything is practically sorted out. Now I have plenty of time on my hands to devote to this column, so I'm ready to expend more energy on ensuring you guys get the attention you deserve! Unfortunately, Matt is on hiatus this week, so you'll have to put up with Roku answering your questions until I return on Saturday. Don't worry! He knows what he's doing!

Also, scroll to the bottom for an interesting announcement about THONG, Round 2!




L E T T E R S
Exhale...exhale...


time limited, mkust speak in small sentences.

"Stab Stab" "HURRY UP NICK"

Damn, anyway can't wait for my guest host spot, letter will probably follow tomorrow!

Oh and a small answerer to JuMeSyn's questions

Romancing Saga games are sort of like Morrowind with a main quest you can pretty much igmore whilst you do all of the side quests. Oh and there's about 8 characters to choose from!

Bainick ducks and weaves through the barrage of sharp and airborn objects!

Josh

This is true of Romancing SaGa. The problem that lies therein is that I got so caught up in doing all the sidequests, that I completely forgot what the heck I was doing! I'm just running around with Albert trying to remember where to go.

I look forward to cohosting with you, Bainick! Smack the other readers around and get them to send you mail! ^^



This is true. This might be false.


I bought Killer7 for Gamecube for $10 a few days ago. Backlog now consists of: Wild Arms: Alter Code F (playing), Wild Arms 4, Atelier Iris, Gladius, Paper Mario (GC version), Eternal Darkness, Killer7, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Kingdom Hearts 2.

And now here come Dirge of Cerberus, FFXII, Xenosaga III, and who knows what else to complicate things further.

Incidentally, is it really fair to charge 50,000 points for Ephemeral Fantasia? Shouldn't it be more like, if you agree to take Ephemeral Fantasia, you RECEIVE 50,000 points?

Josh

I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut on this one.


.
..
...
....

Maybe not. Yeah, the game wasn't anything spectacular. Hey, it could have been Eternal Ring. :P

I realized the other day that I'm actually sort of excited about FFXII, which I didn't know I was. I can't really remember what it's like to have a new FF coming out that I can actually play, since FFXI barred me with its typical MMORPG, charging-you-forever audacity. FFX was a long, long time ago, when you get right down to it, and I'm actually starting to feel a bit fanboyish about having another FF title.

Though admittedly I'm more excited about Xenosaga. I wish they were still doing the planned six or seven games or whatever it was, even though I'd be, like, married with children by the time the series ended. Man, that's a weird thing to consider. In fact, forget I said anything. I didn't even send this email.

-TV's Adam

Josh

Yeah, I've had moments when I'll pop in FFX and just wonder, "This game is HOW old?" It's rather strange at this point to see that that has been the most recent standard FF game. However, it's going to be a battle to see what game will hold my attention, as I'll have Xenosaga III, Disgaea 2, and FFXIII to fight for my gaming. I too was disappointed about the lack of all 6 games, but like they said, this is only the end of Shion's story, so there -exists- the potential for a new story, maybe of Abel, if we're lucky. But I honestly have no idea, and neither do they, until they see the sales of XSIII. So far I'm impressed with what they've added, and it looks like they combined the good points from the first two games.

But you did send this email! I read it, and now I'm replying to it. Unless this is all a figment of my imagination...maybe...maybe nothing's real! I don't know what to believe anymore!

*cries and runs away*



Remixes ahoy!


Hey, Josh,

Well, to Spiffyness, I know that Suikoden IV has already implemented this idea, and yes, it CAN be abused to get some serious level ups. Of course, the Suikoden series in general has handled leveling quite well, since with 108 characters (of which a smaller percentage, but still large number, is playable) you can never be sure who you're going to use. Think Shining Force or even Symphony of the Night, where EXP is huge at lower levels, and drops off significantly. I'm not sure about Suikoden V, though, since I'm not as far into that as I'd like to be.

Just out of curiosity, how many of you have backlogs that even if you took a full year to play nothing but games, you'd never finish them off? I seem to be at that quandary, and of course, I've slowed down my game purchasing, but there's some REALLY good stuff coming out from September to December. I mean, what's the deal with releasing Xenosaga 3, Valkyrie Profile 2, Tales of the Abyss, Zelda, Metroid, Children of Mana, FF3, Okami, Super Paper Mario, and whatever other games are coming out? If they'd done that during the summer, it'd been a little better, maybe I'd have time. Will I ever be able to beat Legend of the Ghost Lion?

Josh

Ugh...I probably have a big enough backlog, because I get distracted easily. I still haven't beaten any of the games on my sidebar, mostly cause I haven't been home, but still. I tend to get to the end of games and just stop suddenly, for no logical reason whatsoever. The coming months aren't going to be helping any, either. I fully intend to play the hell out of some games the next two weeks, so that I can clear some of my backlog before school starts Sep 5th. Xenosaga II, I'm at the last level, I just need to finish it...AUGH. You're up first, buddy.

Also just finished off Grandia 3. Finally. I enjoyed it, of course, much more than the execrable Grandia: Xtreme. But it also seemed to be missing that magic that the first two games had. The first Grandia was one of the finest RPGs I had the pleasure of playing, and it had a lot more character. I loved Grandia 2 as well, and the characters were also rather memorable, but many of the religious overtones tended to be a little off-putting. There were obviously a lot of religious parallel's to the Catholic church, and while not one myself, the Japanese have this odd view of Christian religions, with usually little to no understanding of them at all. If only one could write something intelligent in this regard, as opposed to "pop" religion to appear more "highbrow". Or something.

Ack. Back to Grandia 3. The battle system seemed a little more fast and loose, and I noticed characters have this annoying tendency to miss a lot more with normal attacks. The areas themselves are also a bit more linear, although that may be directly attributable to having maps for all the areas, which in a normal RPG wouldn't exist, so there ARE branching paths. That being said, the game itself doesn't seem to have a lot of side missions or optional areas, other than the casino. That doesn't bother me, though, as the aforementioned backlog makes me just want to plow through and move on. The graphics, of course, are rather spiffy. The sound seemed to be a mixed bag, though. I felt my sanity slipping away while in the Baccula settlement. Ecch. And Xorn didn't sound very imposing, considering he's supposed to be some semi-god, and the whole "love must be destroyed" was really weak. Seriously, did they write this for a random 80's Saturday morning cartoon?

Josh

Grandia 3...you're after XSII...

So far, I've really enjoyed the battle system of Grandia III. The Air Combos become fairly stale after awhile, but the speed was great. It's ATB done right. I agree that there really isn't much exploration or extra things in the game. Following paths is always a pain, but if you have an item that points out treasure chests for you, and the number of paths is quite small, there's just no challenge or curiousity factor.

Baccula's music is on par with a certain fairy that said, "Hey, Listen!" a lot. I am so glad I'm past that point in the game.

Eh, religion in games is hit or miss. The Catholic Church is just one of the easiest to emulate, as churches in games generally have an inherent evil side, and the most well-documented corruption in religion is the Catholic Church (there are others, I'm just saying -well-documented-). Pretty much everyone has a rudimentary knowledge of the Catholic religion, as far as basic tenets as well as stereotypes (guilt, confession, corruption, etc). So the developers just take what they know and shove it in there. Whether it's supposed to parallel a religion is up to the player, as it really just depends on how deep you look at it.

Enough griping. I still give it an 8/10. Good stuff, just not the best. Of course, I enjoyed every single Dragon Warrior / Quest game (especially 3, 4, 6, and 7), so take that how you will.

Josh

3 and 4 were awesome, so I'm not sure what you're getting at here. :P

And c'mon, Secret of the Stars isn't THAT bad. I've played worse. It's a thinly veiled Dragon Quest clone. And the battle system is nicely speedy, and the party swapping mechanic is a little different from usual RPGs. I think I'd finish that before I would The 7th Saga, which played reasonably well, but ended up being so difficult that I eventually just gave up on it. Believe me, that doesn't happen often (happened with Vay for Sega CD). And speaking of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, that game should ALWAYS be remembered for one thing, and that's the music. Man, those were some rockin' tunes. I highly recommend checking out the OST for the two remixed versions of some of the best songs. And if you don't follow Dwelling of Duels, FlextoneJunkie did a great hard rock medley of some of the best songs. Check it at http://dod.vgmix.com. RPG month has it, and some other excellent stuff that you (and many other visitors to this site) might enjoy.

Well, I think I'll save some material for later. Besides, I'm sure you're tired of reading at this point.

Sarge out.

Josh

That's a pretty neat site. If any of you like remixed music, definitely go check it out. Thanks for bringing that up, Sarge! The Secret of Mana section was pretty sweet.

As for FFMQ, yes, I wholeheartedly agree that it had a great soundtrack. While the rest of the game was mediocre, the battle theme and boss theme alone were incredible songs for their time. I take pride in the fact that I have a phonographic memory, and those songs have definitely stuck in my head.



What about FFT?


Hello Matt.

Ok. Right now I am playing the Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga games and they are pretty fun. While playing though, I got to thinking about a topic I haven't thought of since playing Nocturne which is this... Does anyone have a problem with the demonic themes in these games?

I believe that much of the problems anyone would have with the SMT games are really just a result of the fact that the monsters (as found in every RPG) are called demons instead. Also, it is not as if the SMT games are the only RPGs that deal with the real life concept of good and evil (i.e. God and Satan). Yet, I can't help but wonder if using real concepts and real world religious deities is worth the hassle and potential loss of audience that can come with the territory.

For example: On the forums I frequent, people new to the genre always ask the same question... "What game should I get?" While most people suggest a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest (something like that), there is always that one person who will suggest Nocturne. And while I can't disagree that the SMT games are really fun and have a good combat system, it seems as though that suggestion is always followed with a "that is unless you are a religious person" disclaimer. That warning (while appropriate) scares away some people who wouldn't have any problems with the game otherwise, except for the real religious imagery (maybe both ways).

This brings me back to my question. Sparing any personal thoughts on religion... Does anyone else think that being more realistic in religious ideas can hurt (sales wise or maybe the overall audience of) a game? Is it worth it to risk it?

Cheers,
-thinkfreemind

Josh

Well, I don't get offended easily, so this really isn't an issue with me. However, in regards to sales, as is evident from movies and books, it can do one of two things, or both.

  • Alienate a section of the demographic.
  • Draw in another section of the demographic that thrives on whatever controversy they can find.

Take the Da Vinci Code. Strict Catholics considered it to be destroying the Catholic Church. Other people merely perceived it as a movie and looked the other way. This didn't stop it from being one of the highest selling books of all time. So, let's apply this logic, and others, to the games.

The video game population, while it is growing, still remains a subset of the population that is much smaller than many other groups, such as moviegoers or book readers. This immediately gets rid of a large portion of the population that is devoted to religion (I'm referring to those that are more than just 'Sunday' members of their religion). I guarantee that a majority of the videogaming demographic would play the games without questioning their religious morals. This is only my opinion, but it seems logical enough that developers would not lose money based on the addition of religious 'controversy.'

Besides, have you seen those other forums that live off of making connections between games and real life? I should know, I used to frequent Silent Hill 2 boards, trying to figure that game out, down to its last bit of imagery. ^^





T H O N G
Combat Log

Game over.
WINNERS:
Arros Raikou
Macstorm
Roku
Bainick
Vicissitude


For lower resolutions, click here

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PLAYED. ROUND 2 WILL ARRIVE IN A WEEK OR SO!

Look for new prizes, including games, E3 swag, and your standard slew of hosting options...as well as some interesting other items....^^

C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Ok, here it is. If you participated in THONG Round 1, you will get dibs on what character you want as your token in Round 2. So, until August 25th, email me at ourobolus@rpgamer.com with your choice (Note: Luca Blight is mine! You can't have him! ^^). After the 25th, it will open up to everyone! We will be using in-battle sprites. Please do not pick any large animal characters. Go to the following sites with your choice.

Suikoden Characters

Suikoden 2 Characters

I'll see you all soon, and send Roku some letters!!

ourobolus@rpgamer.com
***Josh probably typed this before falling asleep.


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Josh's Top 3 Distractions:

1. World Cup

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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