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Allan Milligan

"There is no trouble in life quite so great that cannot be solved with a nine millimeter beretta and a towel."

Hi. As you may have noticed, the letters have undergone a bit of a facelift. For one thing, it's now called RPGuru. For another, Mike "Saves Baby Seals During His Spare Time" Tidwell has bid farewell to this section of RPGamer, and I have been instituted as his replacement.

Hi. I'm Allan. Love me.

The names have changed, the idea's stayed the same: RPGamer, as always, is dedicated to bringing you all the latest news and views on the console RPG scene. And part of that is this column, a daily exercise that keeps us, the maintainers, in touch with what you, the visitors, want to see and know. At least, that's the theory. But enough philosophical blather. Time's a-wastin', and we've got to go go go Speeeeeeeeeeeeeed Racer! And we'll start with a quick message from someone y'all might remember...

Q: Hey Serbian, hi! This is AK, your old buddy and pal. OK, your $20 will be in the mail as soon as you email me your address. Remember: 1) I taught you everything you know 2) I'm very successful with women 3) R.E.M. rules. Thanks, catch you later! --AK

Allan: Sadly, AK has fallen on hard times since he left RPGamer, and took to snorting cocaine through a dirty straw he swiped from a Taco Bell. We found him blubbering in a dumpster, mumbling about Castro and a talking daschund a week ago. He's recovering nicely, having regained the use of both his legs, but the impotence has rendered him somewhat touchy about his sexual prowess. Hence the letter. Thanks for writing, guy. Now lay off the vodka.

Q: I downloaded a quicktime movie off your site a few months ago and I finally got around to actually watch it. To my suprise it was a FMV of Celes and Locke in a battle scene. Not only that, she casted Bahamut, which looked very similar to the long drawn out process seen in Ff VII where the enemy could just run away for the lengthy time that it takes to cast. But thats not the point. My question is: Is there going to be a rendered version of Ff VI so that it carries a similar format of VII? If not, then why in the world would you put up this movie?

---Brian Frederick

Allan: The movie you downloaded is the infamous FF SGI Demo, a short demo produced by Square in 1996 on the then-latest SGI hardware. The idea was to demonstrate how a next-generation FF game could look, and for familiarity's sake, they used the FFVI characters and music from the same. It is not, and never was, a preview of an actual game, though countless sites once held it up as a preview of FF7, then believed to be an N64 DD game. Why do we have it? Because it's cool, really.

Q: Greetings, I was just reading the fine print on the back of PE...apparently the game is based on a book entitled Hideaka Sena "parasite EVE". You great RPGamer folks wouldn't know if this book was ever released in the States, would you? And if so, where it would be available?

Allan: Several people asked about this, so here's the answer: Parasite Eve, the book, has not been released in America, and there are currently no plans to do so. When asked, a Square EA rep told me "Sorry, no plans for a translation of the novel at this time." Bummer. Better get crackin' at that katakana, then...

Q: i saw Amano Yoshitaka's name in the ff8 demo credits which said he did "image art". does that mean that he's doing some design art or does it mean he does the character head sketches we've seen (though i doubt if this true, they don't look like Amano's work, Nomura did those i'll warrant)?

- Gunblade

Allan: You are correct, sir. As with FF7, Nomura is doing the character designs and head-shots, while Amano does "image art", which probably entails designing area backgrounds, buildings, possibly monsters, and producing a few stand-alone portraits of the characters that won't be in the game, as with the Cloud and Aeris one in the Square Artwork Gallery for FF7.

Q: Q: Why is it that whenever someone says they like a SquareSoft RPG, they're said to be jumping on a bandwagon, or that Square has clouded their mind? Why can't people admit that Square makes good games. Even if you're first Square game was FF VII (mine wasn't), it doesn't mean you're just jumping on the bandwagon. I'm looking forward to Lunar, Tales of Destiny, and Kartia, but I still enjoyed the much argued about Parasite Eve. Why is it so wrong to like Square games?

Allan: It's not wrong. I like Square games. So do lots of people. Then again, lots of people don't like them. And lots and lots and lots of people just think Square is something they drew in Geometry class. But I digress.

The frustration you're feeling is something that also annoys me, and it's something that happens all the time. The principle is this: the bigger the target, the harder it gets hit. Just as celebrities are lionized and cut to shreds by the media on a daily basis, so do companies receive polarized treatment when they become popular. Look at Microsoft: they can, and do, produce good products. But they are slagged mercilessly and constantly, because it's easy to do, and there are flaws present to mock. Square bashing has increased exponentially since the release of FF7, and that's only natural for two reasons. First of all, the higher sales mean that more people can love or hate the game. Secondly, it set itself as the biggest RPG boy on the block, which makes it all the easier and socially acceptable to tear it down. Whether it's deserved or not to tear down others for achieving success in any arena, I'll leave to you guys.

What think you, RPGamers? Is it natural to try and cut the big boys down to size, or has Square earned every insult they receive?

Q: Why did namco write that "defense of Tales of Destiny?" RPG's without flashy graphics may be harder to market, but they almost invariably take much less heat than their prettier counter parts.

Take FF6 for example. Everyone, used to say that FF4(5 for importers) was the best RPG of all time and that FF6 was all pretty graphics. Then FF7 came out and all of a sudden FF6 was the greatest RPG of all time and FF7 was just "Eye Candy."

It seems that every new FF game with improved graphics is written off as pure glitz until the next one comes out. Why? Because there is a stereotype that all games with pretty graphics are automatically mediocre. When a new FF game comes out the last one just doesn't seem as flashy any more and is suddenly not viewed in such a negative light.

If Namco makes Tales of Destiny with 16-bit SNES-like Graphics, they could probably turn out an other wise so-so game(not that I'm expecting them to) and still get rave reviews. They would go on about how wonderful it is because "Good graphics don't make a good game." Of course, as true a statement as that is, good graphics don't make a bad game either, nor do bad graphics make a good game. But you won't hear too many people around chanting that.

Allan: Your point is well-taken. But Namco's position is understandable: they want their game to have the widest appeal possible, and if every single preview of it makes a point of mentioning the "substandard/16-bit" graphics, any number of potential customers could be turned off, because it's one reason not to choose Tales of Destiny over something without that label, like Xenogears. Negative press once the game is released is one thing, but a game condemned before it hits the shelves is something no company wants.

Good graphics don't make a good game. Good graphics, however, do make for good previews of games. Good previews can sell games. And Namco wants some of that.

Q: My main question concerns Suikoden II. I was looking at the artwork and I was wondering what the weapon the hero is carrying is called?

- Rasteen

Allan: I believe the weapons he's carrying are called tonfas. They're blunt weapons that were designed in Japan as weapons for the common people, who were restricted from owning bladed weapons like swords.

Anyhow, that wraps up tonight's batch of letters. Tomorrow, I'll have a fresh bunch for all of you to peruse and abuse. Remember, send all your letters to the RPGuru. I know all, see all, play all and y'know, I'm just plain ginchy.

- Allan Milligan

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