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The Big 5-0 September 4, 2006

Josh - 10:34 EST

That's right, today is my 50th column! I can't believe it, myself. I figured there would have been a lynch mob by now. Um...if you're wondering what your Potch level is, I have a list of them all, and I'll figure out where I'm gonna post it by Saturday. Until then, don't worry, nobody has enough to purchase anything yet. :P

50.1! Exciting, no? ^^

Yo Ouro,

Dangit, I was gonna send this yesterday, but I never finished it... Anyway, the answer to THONG #L2 is... uhhh... F: H? And #2 would be C: Albedo.

ANYWAY... What makes me buy a game? Well, mostly media coverage, reviews, and other such things on the big gaming websites. I don't have much cash, so I have to be extremely selective about which games I buy right away (usually 1-4 a year) and which ones I wait a year or so to pick up at a discount. Therefore, I read reviews, and lots of 'em. Occasionally, word-of-mouth/internet will inform me of an older game I wouldn't have otherwise known about, but then I'd just go find some reviews of it. What gets me interested in a game in the first place? I has to have something that no other game has, even if it's just a small thing. A fantastic plotline usually, but a simple plot works just as well, if it's very unique (like the Oddworld or Panzer Dragoon games) or is just extremely well-told (Shadow of the Colossus or Ico). Ironically, RPGs usually don't have that going for them. The telling, I mean, not the actual story itself. And I'm gonna stop right there, because I feel like I need to elaborate on something that's been bothering me lately.


Feel free to vent! That's what I'm here for! Well...that, and I needed a sanctum to plot world domination. But mostly the former.

Is it just me, or are RPGs painfully lagging in the directing department? Earlier this summer, I replayed Metal Gear Solid 3 for the umpteenth time (except this time in Subsistence mode!), and I realized what it is about the series I like so much: Kojima's fantastic directing. I mean, sure the plot of the series is above and beyond the call of an action game (and almost all RPGs, in my opinion), but it's the way it's told that makes the series so memorable. Even the most droll of plot expositions is made memorable by great voice acting and cinematic flair. And then I go and play almost any modern RPG, and that element seems... missing. I'm not sure, but I THINK I know why: it may stem from design of sprite and text-based RPGs. Back then, all the characters did was stand in one place and talk to each other, but it was acceptable because of the hardware limitations at the time. But now we have realistic 3-d character models, as well as (for better or worse) voice acting, and yet they still do the same thing! Personally, I think that the story itself isn't the only important thing in a game (or book, or movie for that matter). I believe that WHAT happens in a story isn't any more important than HOW it happens, or rather, how the player is presented with the information.


Yes, Kojima is a frickin' GOD when it comes to directing. Honestly, the MGS4 Trailer made me wet myself with glee.

I agree about a lot of that, though I don't think it's as rampant as you make it out to be. Sure, it wasn't really necessary with the older RPGs, but most of those games were about imagination anyway. Voice acting is pretty bad in many games, though. One or two of Grandia III's characters drove me nuts (even though the game itself was good) with their tinny voices, for instance. However, many games have really good voice acting - Disgaea, Xenosaga, FFX, etc.

However, yes...good voice acting and direction are CRUCIAL elements if the game is designed to include voices. It always pisses me off when developers fail to realize this.

I ALWAYS read the manuals for any videogame, and I love it when companies put time and effort into them. It doesn't really bother me that much when they don't, but it's definitely bonus points when the manual has large, full-color illustrations of characters, detailed information on the mechanics of the game, some backstory information that may or may not be presented in the game itself, and the like. If you've played Halo 2, then you might know that people who got the special edition of the game were treated to a really cool manual written from the point of view of the Covenant. It was funny reading about how "inferior" human weaponry is, and there's a picture of the Master Chief that makes him out to be some kind of horrible monster. I really appreciate stuff like that.

I think that's about it for today. See ya next week!


That Halo 2 thing was a really neat idea. While I'm not really that into spending extra money for the same game + some extra papers, if it's really so original and creative, then I may cave. Manuals should be neat, colorful, and above all - USEFUL. I've loathed practically every SaGa manual for not providing any direction whatsoever, causing me to spend the first few hours of my game fruitlessly wandering the countryside trying to win my first battle.

Mweeheehee...another one!


Seems like you've pushed the level of the questions up quite a bit. Oh well, then, here goes:

L2) E - I think this refers to hair colour? I hope this is Eclair from La Pucelle and not fromthe anime Kiddy Grade

2) C - All of them apart from Albedo refer to MOMO's name, oiu, mon amie?

I think your doing just fine with THOOTNG, although the new name could do with a bit of tweaking lol. I can't wait until the competition really gets going and I can take down Luca Blight.



Well, yeah, but Eclair's hair is Purple...which was B. The questions aren't always going to be this hard, but dammit, I'm gonna throw them in here from time to time, because it's good to spend time figuring out stuff! It makes you a better RPG player and Monkey Island player!

And come on..."of the" isn't capitalized in -any- title, so it's not part of the acronym. :P

Heheh, regarding my unfortunately long backlist yesterday, the main reason it's so long is that if I get even the slightest bit stuck, like I did on ICO, and I have a new game wating for me, I'll take a 'break' from my current game and start the new one. And then when I get bored or stuck with that game, I'll move on to the next game waiting for me instead of returning to my old one. So thanks to that strategy, ICO, amongst others, has only been in my PS2 about twice. Anyone else have a similarly stupid strategy (Wooooo, alliteration. Those years of English did have some use, then) they want to share??


While I do multitask ALL the time with games, I try to make it a point to finish one of them -first-. This means that when I take a break to go play another game, I'll come right back to the one I left. Usually if I take a break, I go play a game that I can just pick right up, like a Mega Man game or a fighting game. That way I'm not constantly trying to "finish" that game, and I can head back to the RPG once I've had a nice, long break.

I did actually play Metroid Prime on GC (the first one) and borrowed it for a few days, and then ended up not playing it because Tales of Symphonia just seemed so much more attractive back then.



How dare you sully the name of Metroid by not finishing it! I shun thee!

JuMeSyn, how on Earth do you write such long letters? I read one of yours and my fingers start to ache at the thought of typing for those long hours it must take you to write such veritable doctrines of gaming.


Hey, stop talking! I'm shunning you.

Josh, regarding Bill Gates' fault of spreading STDs,....wait a min..... *switches to Apple Mac*......ah, safe to speak at last. I'm pretty sure that he's had plenty of chances to spread all kinds of things. Probably through his computer. STDs in your email! Run for the hills!!


I'm shunni...oh fine. I <3 you.

E-STDs, eh? I suddenly wish I hadn't spawned this topic. ^^;

Genjuu is never, ever going to open an email from Microsoft. It could contain chlamidia. Also, Ouro is being blamed for making me end up reading every entry in Wikipedia on the Xenosaga series, which seem fascinating. So now I have to add them to my wishlift. Donations, anyone?


HA! I've gained another convert! Yes, go play them...

Speaking of which, I'm at the end of Chapter 8 in XSIII, and it is freakin' CAMEO CENTRAL. I'm lovin' this...entirely too much. They had better make Ep. 4.

It's only rhetorical when you can't think of an answer.

Hey Josh,

I never pause movies when people are about to sneeze, but if they're about to humiliate themselves I'll either pause it (if no one else is watching it) until I'm ready, or get up and walk out of the room. For some reason I have trouble watching things like that. Thus why comedy romance movies are usually on my 'don't watch' list. Well, that and I think romance movies are lame.


Well, I mean pausing it at random, such as getting up to answer the door or something.

Most romance movies are lame, but the only two I will probably ever buy are Spanglish and Roman Holiday. Spanglish was more of a romance-comedy (which Adam Sandler did a wonderful job in), and Roman Holiday stars Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. And Gregory the man.

You know, it's odd but despite the fact that I sit in the living room on my laptop, even I don't see very many commercials for video games on TV. Of all the channels I watch, Spike is probably the only one I know of that even plays the occasional video game commercial. I'm sure G-4 does, and probably very frequently, but since they merged with Tech TV (what I originally watched; I hadn't even heard of G-4 before that), I stopped watching.


G4 is where gamers go when they sell their souls. It's their last bastion of hope, where they cling to the morons on the screen who claim to know something about games, before they take the final plunge and stab themselves in the eye with a spoon.

Not that I'm bitter.

As for the commercials I DO happen to see, they're usually not very good. I mean, I'll see the rare decent one, but none really stand out in my mind as being spectacular. SO: TTEOT was probably the only one I can actually actively remember, and only because I'd already played the game.

It takes a bit to make me want to buy a game. Usually I need knowledge of it BEFORE I see it in a store, but sometimes the odd really nice cover will catch my eye. I have to admit that the thing I look for in a game is primarily the character art, then the story, then the graphics. Gameplay doesn't really factor into if for me. After all, I've played some games with really good storylines but terrificly bad controls (a non-RPG 'Galerians' comes to mind) and still enjoyed them.


Galerians actually intrigued me before I watched a friend play it. After I put his thumbs back into the proper position, we promised not to play it again.

Right now there aren't too many games on my must buy list. Perhaps that's due to immediate lack of money, but probably more due to the fact that none have really caught my eye. And I still need to finish Suikoden V. I want to work on completing that before I go onto anything else.

Usually I look into a game enough before I buy it that I'm not disappointed by the game itself. I think I've only had one major disappointment, and that was with Suikoden III, perhaps the worst game I've ever played. And unfortunately in that case I was pretty sure it was going to be bad before I even picked it up, but I had to give it a try despite that. I wish I'd been wrong.


I really want to get Suikoden V at some point. I've heard it's quite good! I also agree that Suikoden III was terrible, and I can't believe I tolerated that game as much as I did.

Right now I have an arsenal of over forty games, for various platforms. Almost all are RPGs. The one I've wanted to replay over the last few months has been FFVIII, because although I hate the first disk with a passion (I attribute that hate to having played it so many times it bores me to death), the rest of the game is decent enough. And it's been years since I've played. So I took the time to get myself through the first disk, and finally succeeded. I was extremely pleased with myself at that point. Only to put the second disk in and find out that it doesn't work. I typically take good care of my games, and it doesn't look scratched up. Odd.

So probably if I end up buying any games within the next few months, FFVIII will be first on my list. Then probably sequel games (like XSIII).

Not much to say other than that.



You suffer from that too? I actually think it's an RPG curse, where gamers will hate the first part of a game, simply because it's the area that you end up playing the most. You know that the stuff later is great, but you don't want to deal with the babying crap in the beginning. That's like me and FFIX. I love the game, but up until you get through that first Ice Cave, I wish I could just skip it.

Hey, this is like networking, except I'm winning!

Hey Ouro! I hope you're doing well.


I'd be a lot better if you' mind.

I'm not obsessed with Xenosaga III at the time, though I hope to be soon. What I've discovered (and re-discovered) is Disgaea. Its sequel is marvelously true to the original, and I am finding myself completely lost in the intricacies of character building. Even though the plot is great, Nippon Ichi games have an incredible way of wrapping the game mechanics around your brain and hugging tightly. Tonight, I leapt into the item world and came out after 20 levels... and BOOM! Three and a half hours had gone by! Just like that! But, it was time well spent.

What do you think? Have you ever gotten really into levelling-up and/or creating armies just for the sake of doing so in the past, especially in tactical RPGs? I can't seem to help myself!

Take care!
Matt, the moderately-evil Q&A host


Final Fantasy Tactics took a lot out of my life (I maxed the timer, so I have no idea how much I really spent). I actually never made a Mime, but I did spend forever just pounding on things to learn skills. I'd meticulously plot out how I wanted to level each character, and then attack!

I also spent entirely too much time levelling up my Dragons in Bahamut Lagoon. I'd feed them as many items as possible, and then try to evolve them into whatever forms I could! There's nothing like feeding a Porno Mag to a Dragon. ^^

He's such a PAL. *swing and a miss!*

Hi, jyust thought I'd add these confirmed (By me through the local store(80km away) "Gametraders") release dates for a few RPG's

  • Kingdom Hearts 2: 28/9
  • Suikoden 5: 29/9
  • Wild Arms 4: 26/10

I'll try to had a few more to this (like Disgeae 2's date, Harvest Moon: MM if it is confirmed or not, and a few others.

Bainick who doesn't know where to add this info nor has the time to look


Hey, sweet! There ya go, PAL RPGamers...some more concrete information on those games you desire.

Thanks again, Bainick, for keeping us on the up-and-up! ^^b

The calm before the storm...

Good evening

In addition to your bit of trivia about the Phillips CD for SNES, I read a number of years ago, that Sony originally proposed a CD add-on for Nintendo's SNES first, and called it Playstation. Nintendo, in its infinite wisdom, chose to have Philips develop the CD add-on you mentioned instead. Hindsight......

Anyways, I'm playing the hell out of Xenosaga III and its very good overall so far. And by the way, Dirge of Cerberus was a wonderful change of pace from traditional RPG's.

King Peekaboo


Yeah, I remember that. Sheesh, I wonder what the videogaming world would have been like had Nintendo taken Sony's offer? Everything as we know it would cease to be! There would be no Sony rule over games...just Nintendo, which would just plow through Sega (well...ok, that would stay the same), and Microsoft wouldn't hold a candle to the power of both Nintendo and Sony. Though, we'd probably have less mature-rated games...

Also, keep playing XSIII. The story is quite exceptional, and I'm hoping there's some closure (and some not-so-finished-closure as well...^^). Thanks for writing in, King Peekaboo!

The storm! AAAHHH!!! :P

Speaking of dreams, has anyone ever dreamed of an RPG while playing it? I do believe I dreamed of Panzer Dragoon Saga this week, and I dreamed of Shining Force III while playing it. Beats that crappy dream I had last weekend of being in an earthquake that must've been over an 8.0 and then wandering over to the hardware store with my father, ignoring the recent massive earthquake, which had somehow become a high school cafeteria. Make of that what you will.


Eh, Freud would look at me and tell me I'm messed up, without even bothering with any psychoanalysis. I've had the strangest of dreams...

Automapping: good or bad? I'll say this in its favor: a biiig part of why I like Shining the Holy Ark more than I did Shining in the Darkness is that I don't need to write down every turn and every corridor on a sheet of paper. I'm terrible at making my own maps and always appreciate an attempt at alleviating all awful feelings on my part.


I'm known for having an immaculate sense of direction, so I hardly get lost in games or in real life. So for me, I'm rather indifferent, but the nice little minimap in the corner creates less stress on the brain. However, I will say that it's less useful for linear games. More open-ended games could definitely use a map, so that you -really- don't get lost.

One thing Panzer Dragoon Saga does pretty well is incorporate a day/night cycle with distinct differences between the two. Given that I'm feeling lazy I won't wrack my brain for further titles to do this, instead throwing it out to you, His Highness Ouro.


Dragon Quest...well, most of them (I forget if I and II do it), recent Zelda games, and Dark Cloud come to mind.

Am I the only one bothered when the clock of a game keeps ticking on the save screen? It freaks me out, man, when the time just keeps passing without me doing anything! Wait, time is passing right now! I can't stop it, man, my head is about to blow up! TOO MUCH!!!!

Whew. Maybe I shouldn't have watched Larry King followed by Zoolander tonight, eh? Or am I just passing blame onto something else while refusing to take responsibility for my own actions?


I watched Zoolander last night. ^^; What a great bad movie.

Choose Your Own Adventure. Whatever happened to those books? I managed to kill myself pretty often in them so maybe it's for the best that we haven't seen them lately.


Well, you can go watch Final Destination's sort of an interactive DVD Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. Besides, the only CYOA books I enjoyed were those old Mario books. Anyone else remember those? Those were awesome!

Was there anything of interest on the 3DO? About all I remember of the system is that it started at a price even higher than the PS3 will be - which did it no favors among the gaming public. Ummm - it used CDs at a time when cartridges were still the norm, and I think it had a Penn & Teller game of sorts. Along with; Dragon's Lair, perhaps? These memories are from when somebody was giving me a subscription to Gamepro in the mid 90's, so they're pretty hazy.


I recall it having a version of Demolition Man. Other than that, it made a great paperweight and doorstop.

I heard that the PS2 Shinobi was really hard but simultaneously good. Having played the Genesis titles to death (I can give you a walkthrough of Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi 3 off the top of my head, that's how often I played them), and having also heard the GBA Revenge of Shinobi wasn't very good I've been on the lookout for further signs of life in the series. Are there any? And yes, there was a Saturn Shinobi but after the final boss kept killing me and I had lost my formerly great action boss-busting skills for some reason, I still haven't finished it.


Unfortunately, I haven't seen anything through my regular perusal of gaming sites. If they make another one in the same vein as the PS2 one though, I'll be happy.

I highly encourage you to invest in a Fire Emblem game for GBA. Either of them is very good, and if you care about keeping your troops alive prepare to restart many a battle. If you don't keep them alive, well, good luck with that.


I know Matt adores the games, so I might have to pick it up. I'm going to have so much time between classes, so I'll need a break from drinking. Uh, I mean studying...

Clothing choice I think we need to see a little more often in RPGs: the cape. Part of the reason Magus is so cool is his wearing of a cape. Oh, and the fact that he can pull it off. If a person who cannot pull a cape off tries wearing one the effect is ludicrous.



Speaking of GBA as I was a little while ago, I came upon the title Car Battler Joe through some oddball search of the type I'm prone to. Have you heard anything of this older title?


o.o What the hell is that?


It looks like a "2D" Twisted Metal game with some RPG elements thrown in there, and a style along the lines of Megaman Battle Network. Not my thing, even though I did destroy MMBN 1 and 2.

Castlevania expertise - do you have it? If and when I come into possession of a DS the new Castlevanias will be possibly the first items I attain for it thanks to very good experiences with most of the RPG hybrids Castlevania has been creating in recent years.


Yep! GBA, NES, PSX, and SNES. Love 'em. More below.

Wasn't Alien vs. Predator supposed to be fairly good on Jaguar? Which makes for one good title out of all the crap....

Speaking of Alien vs. Predator, where's an RPG incorporating those characters? It couldn't help but be better than the movie! The Wild World of Batwoman: complete with Heathcliff and Rat Fink. I need say no more.

I'll close with a query about something fairly esoteric now. Has anyone ever heard of something called Medovnic? It's a Czech honey-cake I had twice in Prague last year, found quite delicious, and have been unable to unearth further information upon ever since!



Eh. Alien Vs. Predator. Jaguar. Those terms do not compute. In fact, they shouldn't be uttered.

Oh, and I used the INTARNETS to find you some stuff on that cake - Medovnik.

And that's the end of yesterday's letter...though I'll go ahead and knock this other part out too...sigh. :P

It's the oddest thing. I finished Act Raiser yesterday (after that damn boss gauntlet killed me multiple times a couple of months ago, I put it aside to do other things, then came back to discover my action-gaming skills had returned), which means I feel like reviewing it. Thing is, I keep vacillating over what grade to give the game as a whole. I liked playing it - sometimes. The sim part is fun to me but gets old quickly, while the action parts are also sometimes fun but thanks to the imprecise controls prompts many curses. I could go anywhere from a 2.5 to a 3.5 here. Suggestions?


Well, it's your review...3 is an average game, so just think about whether you would place it above or below it. The overall score usually reflects the reviewer's -feel- of the overall product, rather than some mathematical formula based on the different review areas.

You mentioned Circle of the Moon and Aria of Sorrow as very good GBA Castlevanias, and I'll second you here. But you didn't mention Harmony of Dissonance. Will you join me in going against the grain and proclaiming it the least of the GBA 'Vanias?


Yeah, especially since I bought Aria of Sorrow from someone on eBay and they sent me HoD. I was so pissed.

Now that it seems dead and buried, was there anything worthwhile on the N-Gage?


No, no, and no. Oh, I hear it was a phone, too.

Same deal with the Gizmondo. Is there any reason not to let it stay dead? Have you played Skies of Arcadia? Genjuu's quick note made me remember just how much I like that game. And I got to play Legends thanks to a friend in the dorms, which was a special treat (expect stories someday from my extensive SoA experiences on both DC and GC). Where's that sequel?


Right here. I stole it so that you and your little buddies couldn't play it. Mwahahahah! Dance for me, puppets!

I'm the one to mention titles no one pays attention to otherwise, so here's a quick wrap-up of Panic! on the Sega CD. Not an RPG in any way, shape or form, it manages to be one odd little game. The entire game is wandering around trying to find the malfunctioning mother brain of a computer by going from room to room, with switches to be pulled. One switch takes you back, another takes you forward, and any others will make truly bizarre things happen. Watch as the entire Munsters family chases you through doorways in an homage to whatever movie people being chased through doorways with a camera gazing from the end of the hall happened in.

Yep, one weird game.


I actually remember that game. Does anyone remember that was multiplayer, and you had your people running around the walls of a room trying to bomb each other's tile. It was Blast Chamber or something like that. That game amused me for awhile.

And thus, ladies and gentlemen, ends another episode of JuMeSyn theatre. I think I need a stiff drink (read: NyQuil), and I'm gonna go lie down. ^^;

Combat Log

Luca Blight prepares to attack!
Draconn moves 1 space to Tile 2.
Aurelius moves 1 space to Tile 2.
Slashlen moves 3 spaces to Tile 5.
JDX moves 1 space to Tile 3.
Slimey moves 1 space to Tile 4.
Genjuu moves 2 spaces to Tile 5.
Spiffyness moves 3 spaces to Tile 3.

Previous THONG Rounds!

Selections for characters can be found at the following sites:

Suikoden Characters

Suikoden 2 Characters

Click here for the rules and lists of items and prizes!

Luca Blight

Well that one was quite hairy, indeed! Let's see how you fare today!

Answer to #L2: B. P.
The question referred to hair color. Terra = G = Green, Maxim = Red = R, Lemina = Blonde = B, and Eclair = Purple = P! Good job, those of you who got this one!

#L3. Complete this sentence: "Something of the Thread, Something of the Head, Something of the _______, and Something of the ______."

A. Lead, Dead
B. Dead, Bread
C. Body, Tread
D. Tread, Bread
E. Lead, Body
F. Body, Dead

THONG Question

Answer to #2: C. Albedo
Albedo is the only word that is not derived from some form of "peche." MOMO = peach = pêche, and Sin = péché. It was tricky, eh? ^^. Variable Difficulty, mein friends.

#3. In Crystalis, in Wind Valley, how many trees are there?

A. 43
B. 27
C. 10
D. 52
E. 38


Oh man, school starts tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to that. Well, hope you guys had a good Labor Day, cause Q&A never rests! At least not unless we get tired or something. Then we just...zzzzzzz... with...zzz...Matt...tomorrow...see ya...laterrrrzzzzzzzzz...
***Josh doesn't remember how to study!

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Man, my schedule actually makes me wish I was the weekday columnist. I have so much free time inbetween my last classes, and nothing to do! Yargh!


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About the Host

Quote Archives!

Josh's Top Distractions:

Xenosaga III!

RPGs I'm currently playing:

1. Romancing SaGa

2. Radiata Stories

3. Wild Arms: ACF

THONG Players:

1. Roku
Flik  TP: 1

2. Bainick
Hero 2  TP: 0

3. Macstorm
Mazus  TP: 0

4. Genjuu
Pesmerga  TP: 1

5. Leaper
Antonio  TP: 0

6. BLG
Sid  TP: 0

7. Arros Raikou
Kage  TP: 0

8. Xlash
Gijimu  TP: 0

9. Donovan
Clive  TP: 1

10. Slimey
Gadget  TP: 1

11. Bucket
Millie  TP: 1

12. Draconn
Mondo  TP: 1

13. TheBluick
Fu Su Lu  TP: 0

14. Gouden Draak
Rubi  TP: 0

15. Slashlen
Lorelai  TP: 1

16. JuMeSyn
Odessa  TP: 0

17. PureLunatic
Viktor  TP: 0

18. Alan Tse
Hoi  TP: 0

19. William.T
Killey  TP: 0

20. Arpijy
Hix2  TP: 1

20. Spiffyness
Badeaux  TP: 1

21. Reivax
Kasim  TP: 1

22. Carabbit
Viki  TP: 0

23. Vicissitude
Clive2  TP: 1

24. Kupomogli
Kinnison  TP: 0

25. JDX
Kuromimi  TP: 1

26. Aurelius
Kahn  TP: 0

27. Omm
Yoshino  TP: 0

28. Aylee
Luc  TP: 0

29. Tabor
Ted  TP: 1

Anyone else?

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