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Scattered Storms December 10, 2006

Josh - 10:20 EST

Ah, computer science and math are the current banes of my existence this week, so I've been looking forward to talking about games. I don't have the time to PLAY them for awhile, you see. ;_;

Anyway, Shadow of the Colossus - Great game. The graphics were great, although now it's a bit apparent they're a little behind. I was surprised at how fun the game was, despite its simplicity. I loved Ico, so going into SotC, I figured I'd be in for some fun. For those who don't know, the idea is that there are 16 colossi scattered around the world, and you basically have to find them and kill them. The trick is that each colossus is like a puzzle. First you have to figure out where its weak point is, then you have to figure out how the hell to access it. Sometimes it may be on the head of the colossus, so you have to figure out how to climb up the damn thing. Other times, you might have to make it tip over to get at its underbelly. Either way, EVERY SINGLE boss fight was a ton of fun, and each one generally seemed more fun than the last. The final boss was also incredibly satisfying after figuring out how to kill it.

I'd recommend that game to anyone who enjoys using their brain.




L E T T E R S
Choose your party.


Dear Matt and/or Ouro (because I value both opinions!)

Josh

If the dollar keeps going the way it's going, my opinion might suddenly become less valuable than Matt's. Uh-oh...

Final Fantasy III's job system has reminded me of my love for characters with individual skill sets, yet customizability. My favorite part of the game is definitely everytime you get a new job, I just love trying it out and seeing what kinds of skills work well with which jobs and what kinds of skills completely ruin another job's usefulness. For a character who's been using primarily physical jobs, but you want to make them more magic-based, a Geomancer's MP-free skills are fun. And for a mage in need of some STR growth, a switch to Thief or Ninja (speedy physical jobs) makes a good transition, when you look at their stats. Of course, that's just my strategy, I'm not sure it's the preferred method for RPGamers out there.

Josh

well, in the case of FFIII, that works, but if you were to play FFV, I prefer to master a job until I move on, especially since mastering a job is what actually nets your character some statistical growth. Theoretically, though, you really only have to master Thief, Oracle, and Monk to gain the highest growth for your characters!

Anyway, so the job system reminds me of why I loved RPGs - team building. When there's 13 or so unique characters and only 4 party slots - how do you choose which character/class will work best? Do you go for a balance of magic and physical? Or is far-ranged and close-ranged the best way to look at it? Do all skills use MP or just magic-based ones? Should you really equip your cleric with a boomerang? What always ends up bugging me about most RPGs is that the best party always ends up being something like 3 sword-users and a healer - the least amount of diversity possible.

Josh

I generally went for "Maximum Damage Output In The Shortest Possible Time." While little things are nice to have, such as MP regeneration or status effects, generally, the faster you kill the enemy, the less chance they'll have to hit you with devastating effects.

So there's my question: "What RPG or series do you think has done the best in keeping characters/classes diverse and balanced?" Or... for a more creative question along the same lines "If you could make a diverse cast of RPG characters, where each character has something to bring to the table, from all the RPGs you've played... what would this roster look like?"

For me, I'd probably have to go through a lot of the Tales, BoF, and Suikoden games for their diverse characters, and then filter through all the FF classes to fill in some holes. I mean, if I've only got so many slots to make 'the perfect party', my Ninja better be able to cast healing spells and summon big monsters as well as throw stuff. (Yay for Sheena from Tales of Symphonia!)

Thanks for all the great columns,
DebiruFlonne

Josh

Diverse and balanced...

Well, pretty much any TRPG is pretty good at that. Tactics Ogre, Front Mission, Vandal Hearts (ooh, that's a good one) have all done well in this respect. Dragon Quest has done great, as has FF. The biggest problem is that so many games out there give all of your characters some giant pool from which to choose from, and you have to figure it out on your own. Balance, at that point, isn't the game's prerogative, it's now up to YOU. Another example is the large cast of characters games such as CC and Suikoden. There are certainly any number of ways to maintain or disrupt balance.

So, my cast...I'll pick 7, that seems like a good number.

  • KOS-MOS (XSI) - Hard hitting fighter
  • Marle (CT) - Good healer, spell-caster
  • Lemina (Lunar II) - Powerful elemental magic
  • Hero (Suikoden II) - Decent fighter, has good magic
  • Rei (BoFIII) - Fast. As. Hell. Steals stuff, too.
  • Garnet (FFIX) - Summoner + Healer
  • Cliff (SO3) - Very strong, AoE physical damage.

Might not be a complete list, but at least it covers what I need!



So, I was just about to...KITTY!


Hello.

You know what I am convinced of... Too many game choices lead to a gaming ADD. Or, certainly does for me anyway. I am struggling to decide what game to play and when right now because I have too many options. Do I keep playing FFXII, or Zelda:TP, or Yggdra Union? I just can't take it anymore! Those three games are like a speck of dust in comparison to all the other games I have in my backlog (granted they are big and important pieces of dust). I have bought at least five new GBA games in the past couple of months and I can't even decide which of those to play first.

My question is this... If you have a backlog of great RPGs to play, how do you decide which to play next? Once you pick a game to play, how do you stay focused enough to finish it when you get that feeling there is something better that you should be playing first? Any advice would be welcomed.

Thanks,
*Overwhelmed and falling further behind*
-thinkfreemind

Josh

Ok, I have a foolproof plan that I generally fail at. However, it still makes sense to me, and sometimes it works.

I play the games that are shortest, first. Even if I buy them later in the line. For example, I have about 8 games in my backlog that I've been trying to play/beat, but I just picked up Shadow of the Colossus. I knew the game was short, and I beat it in 6 hours or so. Now, that's one less one to worry about!

Sometimes big games come along and screw up everything (FFXII, XSIII, etc.), so you have to try to think about where you were in the last games. Once I'm finally free of the current game, I go take a look at my backlog, and figure out in which game I'm the furthest. Then, I try to beat that one, and so on, so forth, down the line. Currently, I've got this planned:

(first) FFVA - Okami - Wild ARMs AC:F - Disgaea 2 - Radiata Stories - Romancing SaGa - Wild ARMs 4 - Phantom Brave (last). Who knows when THOSE will be finished, because I'm certain stuff will pop up inbetween there. Sigh...



And what would you like, little boy?


I really hated the hours of mindless dungeon-crawling of BoF V interspersed with ten-second snippets of plot. I was a fan of the series until I played the game, and it absolutely killed my interest in any future BoF installments. I seem to be the only one, but I refuse to be swayed. Tried it...hated it...

Can't wait for winter break. Besides skiing, on the docket are:

1. FFXII
(Must save Dalmasca...)

Josh

You and everyone else.

2. KH2
(Must give Squeenix all my money...)

3. Lord of the Rings: Third Age
(Must complete strangely addicting second-rate licensed game...)

4. Sudeki
(What's with the goofy British accents? I realize this game was made by a European developer, but honestly, have they heard themselves? Hire some American voice actors next time. Wonder if the guy who does Balthier is actually American. Wouldn't that just rule? But hey, if that's my biggest complaint about the game so far...)

Josh

It could be like House, who's British but speaks with an American accent in the show! :)

5. Koudelka
(This game rules. I love Shadow Hearts.)

6. Alundra
(Good call, Ouro. This one looks pretty fun. Hope to play it some more, when I get a chance.)

Josh

Good. Just stay away from its 'sequel.'

7. Suikoden Tactics
(Yeah, it's lame, I know. What can I say? I'm a completist, who is unfortunately also a Suikofreak.)

8. Stella Deus
(My expectations were very low coming into this one, so I'm actually enjoying this.)

Josh

I too didn't think this was such a terrible game. I played it a bit since my brother picked it up, and as far as TRPGs go, it's definitely on the 'good' side of average. It just wasn't anything spectacular.

9. Wild Arms 4
(I'm practically at the end. This should really be higher in my to-do list.)

10. Parasite Eve
(Mmmm...mitochondria...)

**However, sneaky Sam Fisher probably worms himself to the top of the heap come Christmas day. And/or Bully or Okami...or Oblivion...Depends what I get for Christmas...or buy the day after when I don't get it for free

Josh

I didn't really ask for any games this Christmas, since I'm moving and not really sure what is going to be happening. I expect to get a ton of money though, so after I move and get stuff for my apartment, games will be had! ^^

Most of these are partially beaten games I picked up over the summer. These are some of my more lamentable purchases.

On my re-sell list are:
1. Hoshigami
(Hands down, worst TRPG I've played, and I've played my share of the best and worst. Somehow worse than even Vandal Hearts 2. I never thought I'd see the day... It seems they used RPGMaker's menu interface, world map creator, and soundtrack. Kudos, you lazy SOBs...)

Josh

Wow. Worse than VHII. I heard it was bad, but...wow.

2. Grandia II
(Eyes...bleeding...I'm all about older games, but there's something called esthetic sense that's independent of whatever graphics tech is available at the time a game is made. It generally involves not maxing out hue and saturation of every goddam pixel on the screen. I hear this game looked much better on the Dreamcast. It sure can't have looked any worse...Too bad cuz I can't even really critique the rest of the game since I have to wrap my eyes in gauze just to play the stupid thing...)

Josh

I just didn't really like the battle system. I know, I know. Grandia I and III are FINE, but for some reason the characters just move so damn SLOW in-battle, it irritates me.

3. Grandia Extreme
(I dunno...Might give this one another chance. I was just thoroughly underwhelmed by the first few hours of play.)

4. Lunar: SSC
(What was all the buzz about in years past? I don't get it. Lunar seems like a Y7 anime turned RPG without the relative fun of commerical breaks.)

Josh

A lot of people enjoy Lunar, and I'm one of 'em. It has very traditional gameplay, and it's definitely more light-hearted than most. I really just liked the challenge, as I felt that some of the battles were perfect in terms of difficulty.

What do you think of my lists? Playlist ranking assumes order of play. Would you change the order at all or add some other games (which I haven't picked up yet) in the mix? What about the re-sell list? Any gems I should give another chance? Hmm...maybe if I spent as much time playing games as I do thinking about playing games, I wouldn't have a backlog...Then again, I'm work, so I can't really play games right now anyway

Vicissitude
P.S. Take that, JuMeSyn! See? I can ramble too!

Josh

I would give Lunar another chance. If you get a bit further, the story picks up a bit, and battles become much more fun.

Since you're at the end of WA4, I'd just bite the bullet and beat it. Get it out of the way. Also, drop those two TRPGs down to 11th and 12th place, respectively ^^. At least move Parasite Eve higher...it's a really short RPG that's also good fun. And Alundra is way more fun that LotR!

Good luck finishing them all!



Hm...


Creeper, creeper, creeper - you give ME the creeps!!!! (See season 7 - it's only six episodes, shouldn't take long to Bittorrent).

As far as anime goes, I only watch most of it in Japanese because I get addicted to certain shows and want to see them immediately - which means they'll be subbed. There have been occasions on which I watched pretty good dubs - the best being Cowboy Bebop. But when I want to watch more of a show than exists in dubbed form, what choice have I? Besides, I don't like flipping back and forth between languages. Mental dissonance and what have you.

Josh

Watching subtitles without having the option to watch it dubbed, or in the case of horrible VA - those are good reasons. And yeah, I agree switching back and forth is rather a hassle. However, my main reasons for watching anime dubbed is that I'm rarely just sitting down and watching TV. I'm practically always multitasking, so I need to be able to hear what's going on when I'm taking the time to do whatever else I'm doing.

I noticed that you had nothing to say regarding Langrisser III however. Poke around for a few minutes and give me YOUR take on it.

Josh

Well, it looks decent enough. The battles are 3D now, and while the series really didn't need it, I guess it can't be too bad. There's some love stuff apparently where you can affect the outcome of the game. I dunno, might be interesting to play. Been awhile since I've touched Langrisser, though.

And as I was the one who, way back, brought up the topic of characters in RPGs with facial hair, I would just like to press for a slightly older hero who can pull off a good beard. I think mine looks pretty good, after all. And some teenagers do TRY to pull off a beard, but not many can make it succeed (I knew a guy who had a thick beard in 8th grade though!)

Josh

As someone who has been clean-shaven his whole life, except for some lax periods in-between, I don't really have much input here. :P

Okay, if Dark Savior was like a Zelda game, the lack of diagonal movement wouldn't be as big an issue. Thing is - there are jumping sections. Jumping sections with isometric view and no diagonal movement. Justify this. Particularly jumping sections with moving and/or falling platforms.

Josh

Yeah, that seems kinda ridiculous.

To Vicissitude and everyone else who listened to the SFIII voice clips - HA ha! They've been burned into my brain for years now, but I couldn't stand being alone! If only there had been more posted! Obright's 'Ohhhh yeah' that sounds like he's in the bathroom! Hagane's retarded Indian ninja! Murasame sounding like he's got a bad cold! MORE Synbios! MORE Ratchet! Fiale's annoyed temp worker attitude! Arrawnt's painful try to sound like a closing door! MORE Masqurin! I remember them all, and I want others to as well!

South American Pygmy

*sound of blowdart being fired at JuMeSyn*

Oh, and Vicissitude; aren't there a lot of PS1 games that might serve as gifts that flew under the radar? Just a suggestion. I could give you some import tips, sure, but you'll have to mod your PS2, which I have no practice with.

Ouro - you must've had only crappy history teachers. But here's one character I WANT to see in an RPG, on the protagonist team: Theodore Roosevelt. A liberal Republican - we haven't seen one of those since he was in office 100 years ago! Plus he actually boxed people in the White House while President - and won! He could actually be useful in combat!

Josh

I had a social studies teacher that I had to prove to that Djibouti existed. That pretty much sums up my history/social studies experience.

Hm. A President. Might be a nice change from the slew of Princesses.

Would Oregon Trail count as an RPG, if you stretch the definition quite a bit? There's 'combat' in the form of hunting... I haven't played it in 14 years but I always tried to get my kids killed because they were taking up valuable space in the wagon.

Josh

I just hated killing a buffalo and only being able to carry something like half of it back with you.

And no, Oregon Trail was a sim.

Y'know, I did this with Matt in a letter that was hopefully posted earlier this week - so let's continue to give people mockable information about what pops up in a random selection of my iTunes music. 'Poor Little Fool' by Rick Nelson, 'He's So Gay' by Frank Zappa, 'Yume Mite Iyou', the ending theme to the Sakura Wars TV series, 'Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me' by U2, 'Complete Control' by the Clash, 'Don't You Want Me' by the Human League, 'Hey You' by Pink Floyd, 'Victoria' by the Kinks, a George Carlin bit, 'I Am the City' by ABBA, 'I'm a Loser' by the Beatles, and 'The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia' by Reba McEntire. No real purpose to this, save a random whim.

Josh

...ABBA?

I mean, mine would be pretty strange too. Here's a random selection of 5 -

  • Frontin' - Jamie Cullum
  • Next to Nothing - Breaking Benjamin
  • Azwethinkweiz - Incubus
  • Disco*Prince - We Love Katamari
  • I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues - Elton John

Quick news blurb: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6162640.html

Let's get out of here!
JuMeSyn

Josh

Oh yeah, I saw that. That's pretty extreme, and it didn't seem like there was any provocation that would lead to them opening fire. Some people are just...trigger happy, I suppose. Sad, though.



QUICKIES


I recently downloaded RPG Maker XP, excited to make my own games. However, once i installed it, I can't even get INTO Rpg Maker XP! I have all the required stuff, and I downloaded the stuff! Can you help me out?

Well, I'd first recommend uninstalling it and re-installing it. There's a chance something messed up with installation, such as you selecting the wrong card or something. It happens. If THAT doesn't fix it, then I recommend standing on your tiptoes, shouting "I'm walking on, walking on, broken glass!" at the top of your lungs, in falsetto, might convince the gaming dev gods to have mercy on your PC.



S E G U E

Added a Riviera pic, supplied by Matt!

Hm...FFXII may be claimed soon...who will it be?

Not much movement today! It just goes to show you that you can't trust that them there Internet!



T H O N G
Combat Log

Luca Phase:
Luca Blight takes a moment to heal (19% HP remaining)!

Movement Phase:
PureLunatic moves to Tile 45.
PureLunatic claims the Xenosaga III Artbook!
Aurelius moves to Tile 47.


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!

Click here to see previous trivia!

Luca Blight

I didn't have enough time last weekend to perform all the EVIL I wanted to!

Answer to #L37: B. Winglies
The sad thing is, if you got this right, you probably played Legend of Dragoon. Shame on you.

#L38.
The minimum and maximum D-Ratio for Ryu, along a number line including only powers of two, differ by how many powers of two?

A. 8
B. 9
C. 10
D. 11
E. 12
F. 13

THONG Question

Answer to #37:B. 42 Health and 12 Energy.
You gain 1 health for every level of Mysticism and 1 energy for every 3 levels of Mysticism, every time an enchantment ends on you, so for 6 enchantments, you have 6*7 = 42 health, and 2*6 = 12 energy. I don't care what the other areas of the Internet say!

#38.Difficulty: Easy, Potch: 150
Using the Speed Ring in Shining Force causes which spell to be cast?

A. Egress
B. Blaze
C. Slow
D. Quick
E. Boost

C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Hey, tomorrow we've got Bainick! Make sure to tune in and give him his 15 minutes of fame! ^^;


ourobolus@rpgamer.com
***Josh has 9 days left as an undergrad.


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Current Order of RPG-Playing:

1. Final Fantasy XII

2. Final Fantasy V Advance

3. Okami

4. Disgaea 2

5. Wild ARMs 4

THONG Players:

1. Roku
Flik  TP: 2
550p

2. Bainick
Hero 2  TP: 19
2875p

3. Leaper
Antonio  TP: 29
3475p

4. Macstorm
Mazus  TP: 1
1050p

6. BLG
Sid  TP: 21
5075p

7. Arros Raikou
Kage  TP: 16
5525p

8. Xlash
Gijimu  TP: 0
200p

9. Donovan
Clive  TP: 2
900p

10. Slimey
Gadget  TP: 11
1800p

11. Bucket
Millie  TP: 15
1800p

12. Draconn
Mondo  TP: 18
275p

13. Genjuu
Pesmerga  TP: 6
1375p

14. Alan Tse
Hoi  TP: 14
5225p

15. TheBluick
Fu Su Lu  TP: 0
0p

16. Gouden Draak
Rubi  TP: 1
725p

17. Slashlen
Lorelai  TP: 19
2200p

18. JuMeSyn
Odessa  TP: 20
3025p

19. PureLunatic
Viktor  TP: 11
1375p

21. William.T
Killey  TP: 6
4375p

22. Arpijy
Hix2  TP: 18
1575p

23. Spiffyness
Badeaux  TP: 2
525p

24. Reivax
Kasim  TP: 1
200p

25. Carabbit
Viki  TP: 7
1975p

26. Vicissitude
Clive2  TP: 8
1375p

27. JDX
Kuromimi  TP: 5
525p

28. Kupomogli
Kinnison  TP: 7
875p

29. Aurelius
Kahn  TP: 14
3250p

30. Omm
Yoshino  TP: 2
1225p

31. Aylee
Luc  TP: 14
4250p

32. Tabor
Ted  TP: 1
800p

33. TvsAdam
McDohl  TP: 2
875p

34. Sundoulos
Hai Yo  TP: 15
3475p

Anyone else?

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