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Allan Milligan

Balance is something important. Balance must exist between extremes. Balance between good and evil, clean and dirty, and most importantly for this column, serious and silly. It's my struggle to take the mail I receive each day and strike a balance between distributing hard information, but also keeping this column light and entertaining, so y'all will enjoy yourselves, whether you're concerned with a specific question or not. I'm trying to write with my heart here, not just my head.

Sadly, I've yet to really clinch that balance. Example: the Canadian thing from yesterday. I received a mountain of irate mail about it, none of which will be reproduced here. Some people rightfully told me off for distracting from the point of this column with a potential trigger for nation-bashing. For the record, I just thought it was too bizarre and out of left field to take seriously, and figured that most of you would just read it, snicker, maybe send me a letter saying I was a hoser or beaver pelt, and leave it at that. Things didn't work out quite that well.

The Canada issue is officially finished (no more mail about it, please), but the struggle to be informative and entertaining continues. And you can bet your sweet bippy I'll keep working to find that balance.

Anyhow, there's a lot of interesting letters to read, so let's gooooooooo!

Q: Does anyone have any idea as to what the Tolen's do in Breath of Fire 2? I've owned the game since it came out, but never could find anything to do with them. (at least I think I didn't.... It's been awile) just a thought.

Allan: Tolens are used in Township, in the house that's built for you by the carpenter who lives in Capitan (he's found in the house that's build on poles there). Inside the gambling hall, you use the Tolens to play an othello-like game, in which you can win handy items like the TigerSD. (I think Tolen is an improperly translated version of Token, which makes a bit more sense.)

Q: Oh high and wise RPGuru..I know this question has been asked many times over, but do you think that there is *any* chance for Square to bring some of the older FFs to the US on some platform? I ask this out of disparation, simply because I've lived with heartbreak since FFIV PSX wasn't released in the US. And with FFV for the PC canned, why is Square not bringing these gems across the seas? Since FFVII was released here RPGs are growing faster than ever before (well, maybe not ever, but you get my point), and with the Final Fantasy series having such high name value Square could be making a lot more money than they are now. And even if Square doesn't want to translate them, what is stopping companies such as Working Designs from bringing them over? And speaking of WD, do you know anything of the "mystery RPG" that they are releasing in December? Thank you for your time and effort!

--Reverend Raven

Allan: Once again, sorry, we're not seeing any old FFs brought over by Square. If it's any consolation, FFIV PSX wasn't a very impressive port. As to why they're not bringing it over, it's my estimation that Square's simply more interested in developing (and translating) new games. Creatively speaking, which would you prefer, as a game maker: having your new, cutting-edge masterwork being brought out, or having to port over a game you developed years ago? Square's a business, yes, but they're in a creative industry, and creative people tend to like to move on to bigger and better things, rather than dwelling on past accomplishments. Getting a third party to do remakes has its own difficulties, such as licensing fees and paperwork, plus the danger of them just plain screwing it up, and having a franchise name like FF dragged through the mud by a bad port. It's annoying to us as gamers (I'd love to have an FF complilation), but for the reasons I suggest, or for totally different ones, Square's decided that their best interests lie in their future, not their past.

Whew. Anyhow, Working Designs' mystery RPG is still just that as of right now. Popular speculation tends to point towards a PSX port of Grandia (yay!) or Star Ocean: The Second Story (double yay!). Or, it might not be, hence the mystery. We'll keep you posted, so keep an eye on the News section at RPGamer for the latest.

Q: Hey, I've got this great idea! You could post a daily(Or weekly, depending on how lazy you are) music trivia thing on the site. See, you just post this music from an RPG and we all send in our submissions of what RPG it was from and what part of the RPG. Then you post all the RPG genuis' who guessed what it was from the next day. I think it's a good idea but then again, my good idea's usually turn out to be lame... But think about it eh?

Allan: Interesting idea. I'll pass the idea along.

Q:"And stay groovy..." Who do you think you are? Bruce Campbell? =P

Anyway, my question...ever heard of PSX game called Revalations: Persona (Megami Tensei)? It was published by Atlus. It is a truly killer game, though it didn't get a lot of attention as it was dubbed "sleeper hit" by every magazine in all existence. Does Rpgamer plan to add coverage of this game? Also, it says on the packaging that it is the first in a series...any ideas as to whether a sequel has been started yet?

Allan: Bruce Campbell? Bah. Whatta wimp. I could take 'im any of the week. Honest.

As for Persona, it is indeed going to be covered by RPGamer, along with Devil Summoner, Ronde, and Soul Hackers, which are also part of the Megami Tensei series. Be patient. For more information on the MT series, check out this site, which should answer any futher questions about it.

Q:You know, I thought it odd that the gil/$ exchange rate is _42_ gil to the dollar, but then I did the math and noticed this palmer guy (never heard of him... eh?) just bought the brroklyn bridge for $142857.142857 repeating dollars.... what kind of voodoo magic are you working over there, allan?

Matt Hanyok, Ruler of nothing that he surveys

Allan: I'm just doing that voodoo that I do do so well, babe. It's, like, the ginchiest!

 

And now, as promised, a collection of your thoughts on what Square should do to better itself. It was tough choosing the best of them, but it simply wasn't practical to post up forty different letters on one topic. But there's a lot to ponder here, so dig in.

I've never e-mailed to RPGamer before, but your second RPGuru post inspired me. What does Square need to recapture its brilliance? (You asked for short and sweet answers, but I think that'd be hard in my case.) I personally think it's pixel graphics.

I admit that I don't own FFVII, nor do I own any Sony products as far as game consoles go, but I have played the game. When it was first advertised I was seriously tempted to sell my N64 in order to get the funding to buy a PSX and play FFVII, because my faith of course, was riding on Square that invariably the game would be good. I'm glad I held out! The raphics in FFVII were 'pretty' in their own way, but to me, they seemed somehow foreign, so that repulsed me about following through in buying it. Yes-- I'm sure you, and others would probably say that this is a very minor detail and that the difference between polygons and pixels in pleasing factors is borderline, but well... somehow they appeal to -me-. If I weren't happy presently with my N64, and anticipating Zelda:TOOT, I'd probably be just as tempted now to buy a PSX for Tales of Phantasia (and yeah, among a few other things).

Just my two cents out of a hundred-dollar bill. :}

--the Gryphonlady

Right now, Square is sitting pretty with their vast array of mediocre RPG's. They won't change a thing because they know that these games will sell.

You know what they need? They need someone to kick their butts in RPGs. They need some COMPETITION. Only then, will Square make the type of games we REALLY want to see.

- ElefantBud

I think Square needs to work more on plot and character development, and also needs to change something that has plagued ALL their games--logic. More accurately, the absence thereof. My favorite example is FFVI, where magic is a long-lost force no-one uses anymore, and yet, for some reason, almost every shop in the world sells tinctures and ethers. Why? Who buys them without magic? What are they good for? That's the sort of thing I mean... more attention to details like that could make their games infinitely more involving, by adding a subtle sense of reality to the world... at least, I think so.

--Froborr d'Wiggy

About those questions as to what Final Fantasy games need to improve:

Not only hould you be able to see your enemies before you enter battle (Like in Chrono Trigger) but I think that you there should be more variety as far as what races you can have on your teams. I know the game boy FFs had several different races, but none of the "Mainstream" FFs. There is also less variety as far as animals, such as dragons, chocobos, dogs, etc. (I know, FFT and FFVII were exceptions) Thanks for listening.

---Anthony James Larrea

In previous games, nothing. Not a goddamn complaint. I have no quaffs about any of the games up till FF6. Chrono Trigger had a problem, but it more than made up for it everywhere else. But when Square hit the FF7 mark, I had a serious complaint. Tactics met their standards, but still had a minor problem. Anyway, if I could change one thing abouts Square's games, it would be the challenge level. I get the feeling that for FF7, they literally, dumbed it down, adding grammatical errors and all. I guess they expected to reel in the RPG newbies with its pretty pictures, but I guess that makes sense. My point is that FF7 is basically way too easy for my liking. Sephiroth's two most powerful abilities are rigged to they do about 90% hp damage, and he can barely kill a member of the team. It makes me only want to play it once a year. FF7 has a few single bosses that really make you sweat. Chrono Trigger's chalenge was below the norm, but the "new game +" not only made it have reply value, but opened up all sorts of possibilities(such as attempting Lavos with only Crono and Marle at level one). Tactics requres a lot of strategy, but for some odd reason, the final boss was incredibly easy. Sure, the original FF bosses get easy after about ten times through, but other than that, the game still has challenge. I just hope Square makes FF8 nice and tough.

-Matt

But, anyway, onto the Square issue. Square does deserve criticism, but not about its recent games. The design teams of Square have learned to put personality more into ambiguity, and create a story where the meaning is in the ambiguity. So, it does have character development, but you have to be willing to read between the lines to do it. I personally like this style better than clearly stating everything.

Square's practices as a company, however, do deserve criticism. Let's not forget that this company has seemed to hold a somewhat anti-American attitude, choosing not to release certain games here because they felt we wouldn't appreciate them. Then we add poor translation in recent years, so that although Square is now releasing most of its games on both shores, we get our versions with numerous grammatical errors and the occasional error so severe the meaning is lost. To continue further, Square is using controversy as an advertising tool... releasing Final Fantasy Tactics here with a plot strongly involved in religion, but then talks of not releasing Xenogears here because of its religious content (which as I understand it, doesn't hold nearly the potential for offense). And I truly wonder if Square ever really listens to us as fans... when I buy a game from Square, I do it to support what I believe are brilliant design teams, and I believe those teams are the sole reason Square is as big as it is.

What do you feel about Square's way of handling business?

- Shawn Bruckner

Since you asked, I think Square games would be better if they represented a neglected minority in the world today -- clowns. Think about it. Cait Sith was pretty close. And Yuffie had about as much personality. Square's already halfway there. If they just go the extra mile and make those polygonal floppy shoes and binky noses, and I'll be a happy man. Just think about how much more poignant the Aeris death scene would have been if Cloud had a huge painted-on red frown with white makeup on the rest of his face, upset, painted-on eyebrows, and a solitary blue tear deftly crafted onto his left cheek.

*30 second pause*

Mulled it over? You cried, didn't you? Thought so.

- Beppo

Allan: Like I said, there were a lot of interesting ideas. The most popular sentiments seem to include 1) releasing all Square games in the US, 2) more use of traditional, 2D graphics, and 3) greater difficulty of games. Me, I agree on all counts, though I think having 3D and 2D-styled games is good, as opposed to all of one or the other exclusively. Anyhow, thanks to everyone who wrote in. I may post up one or two more tomorrow, depending on the letter traffic. And Beppo, I cried and I laughed and I honked my big red nose. You're the man. You're the monkey-man, man.

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: The real RPGer_123 asked if FF8 PC was being released at the same time as FF8 PSX (no, though the delay between the PSX and PC releases will be less than with FF7), James Willis points out that not *all* FF heroes start as villains (true enough, though I maintain there's a trend towards redemptive stories), a few people asked when Xenogears is coming out (November '98), Sean Andersen asked for info about the Zelda gold cartridge (check the News archives - that's all we know), Olsore wants to know how to get piano scores for FF games (the FF Piano Collections include such a thing; head down to Game Soundtrack Central for info on how to get 'em), and DarkElrond wants to know if we cover PC RPGs like Ultima Online here at RPGamer ('fraid not).

Oh, and for the record, today's title bar quote (the one about babies) is from Lufia 2.

- Allan Milligan, needing a hug

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