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Allan Milligan

AARON! STELLA! ADRIAN! ALBATROSS!

I know my "A" words good I do. Grammar have good I do also, learned Yoda from with Force power in swamp. Much bugs and birds. Ugly.

Aaaaaanyway, I'm still looking for Aaron Littleton, a funky cool guy who sent me info on an online site for learning Japanese. Which I mentioned in yesterday's column, and in a sequence of events that involved Ramen noodles, some lost shoelaces, two phone calls, and my computer making a sound that can only be likened to a belch, I lost the URL of the site, and didn't notice that it'd still been mentioned in the Tidbits section of the column. It's been a mess. So Aaron, if you're out there, please resend the info. Be a pal. Please?

Anyhow, as many of you noticed, RPGamer was down due to server trouble for much of today. This is because... well, some technical reason. Suffice to say that things got harfed, they got fixed, and everything should be peachy keen-o now. In the meantime, this is still a letters column, so let's see some of your thoughts and questions.

Q: OK, no $20 for you. I cancelled that check. And I don't do drugs. I stay high on human joy. Peace. Flowers. Global happiness. It's what we all want, we just need to strive to get there. Good job so far Serbina, but remember, talk more about how I rule!

- AK

Allan: Life is like an oyster: it's hard, kinda hard to really get into, and if you swallow the insides without looking at them first, you can choke to death on a half-formed pearl. Which kinda sucks. Andrew Kaufmann is like the gooey pinkish stuff inside of the oyster of life: soft, sweet, and it holds everything together. Thanks, AK. You're da man.

And no, I don't know where that metaphor came from. Just work with me here, people.

Q: While lacking in graphics, sounds, story, characters and just about anything else that makes a good Rpg, for some reason Paladin's Quest held my attention for a week. Its been so long since I've played it I've forgotten how it really was. But it had a real pastel feel to it, as *everything* was in a real light cheery color, which didn't really fit the mood the game tried to make. The lack of a decent manual, but the fold out poster of the all the mercenaries you could hire were nice.

I think Dragon Warrior III was the best out of the series, with the customizable parties and the large variety, plus you get to travel back to the Dragon Warrior I area as well. DW4 I really enjoyed until the 5 chapter, when the so called "AI" took over for you. It was nice to have your party members cast something like Blaze or some high level spell on a slime.

p.s. Parasite Eve is good, too short though.

Brian Mellem

Allan: Paladin's Quest, oh, Paladin's Quest. It's a strange one. I don't think it's possible to find more than five RPG fans in a single place who agree on that game. Some swear by it, some kinda like it, some kinda dislike it, and some consider it the worst RPG of all time. Weirdness.

Dragon Warrior III... eh... I really liked it at the time, but my favourite DW is IV, by a long shot. Sure, it got really tedious in parts, but it showed off Enix's strengths: lots of plot, lots of stuff to do, and lots of gameplay time. It also had some of the most memorable characters of the DW series (Taloon!), and... I just liked it, all right? I'm big on characterization in RPGs, which DW3 didn't even attempt, and while it's still a classic in its own right, DWIV is the one that earns the throne, for me. Although I did think Goof-Offs rocked.

Q: Ok, I gotta respond, seeing as I'm the ONLY DQ fan to read RPGamer.

1.) Damn straight DQ has good music! And it's WAY better than you make it out to be. DQ was hard. DQ was fun to play. And i do as much level-gainng in the Dragon Quests as I do in Final Fantasy. And the plot was really kick-ass. Maybe not quite FF, but nearby. I have many cool DQ memories. So, I warn you, DON'T DISS DRAGON QUEST!

2.) Why the %$#& is the no %$#&ing message board for Dragon Quest! It'll just prove your super-biased FF freaks if you don't! You've been warned once again!

3.) Just for y'all to know, I do like Final Fantasy, and have nothing against it. However, I do notice NO ONE seems to like Dragon Quest\Warrior. I'm sure there's someone who likes Dragon Quest as much as I do! And don't flame me! My mailbox was stuffed when I wrote that editorial. Yeah, I wrote THAT one.

Mike Dore


Allan: You're not the only DQ fan to read RPGamer. Hey, I just explained why I loved DWIV. You're among friends here. As for your questions, might I recommend switching to decaf? You seem a little tense.

1) The Dragon Quest music, which is all done by Koichi Sugiyama BTW, ranges from the good to the superb. I was sort of disappointed in DQV's score, aside from the flying carpet theme, but the original, flute-led Dragon Quest overworld music is as classic as RPG scores get. Enix put out two collections of the symphonic tracks from the DQ games in Japan, one for Roto and one for Tenku, and they're both fantastic. Highly recommended.

2) It's not my department, but please remember that we haven't seen a Dragon Quest game in the US since DWIV, back in 1993. Five years is a long time. Still, if demand was great enough, things could change quickly. Are there enough DQ fans out there to support a message board here at RPGamer? I honestly don't know.

3) I don't think I like Dragon Quest as much as you do (I really didn't like DQV, for example), but it's still a series to be respected. So remember kids, if anyone ever asks you if Dragon Quest VII should be translated for US release, the answer is YES. Not that I'm imposing my views on you or anything. When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you.

Q: I've got some questions.

1. The link on how to speak Japanese.. Where is IT!? It isn't there!!

2. Do you think Yuffie is evil?

3. Relm?

4. If Edge got in to a fight with Edward, would he really become Spoony?

5. Will you answer this Yes or No question with a No?

6. Why are the CDs for FF7pc so poorly manufactured?

7. Know of a good way to get rid of a cold?

That's all for now.

Allan: I have some answers.

1) See above. 2) Yuffie isn't evil. She isn't smart enough to put together a coherent Evil Thought, much less act upon it. 3) Relm isn't evil either. She's just sorta annoying. And has a cool theme song. 4) Edward is spoonier than the assembled cast of Silver Spoons. Edge can't change that. No one can. 5) Ook. 6) Just to annoy you. 7) A crushed clove of garlic, mixed into a drink of hot citrus tea, tabasco sauce, and honey. Mix well and drink one glass. In the event that you survive this, your cold will be quite gone, I assure you.

Q: Hi there. Well, this is my first time writing to this column (though not my first time visiting the site or contributing to it, as should be evidenced by the slew o' Ys music I donated), and I thought I'd shed a bit of light on the game music phenomenon, since Soukaigi was mentioned and you wondered how the music was stored.

Essentially, game music falls into one of four categories. These are:

1. FM synth. Every game system ever made does this. Everything for the old NES, SMS, Genesis, etc. was FM-based. I imagine (though I don't know for certain) that the N64 and Dreamcast have this function. I know for a fact that the PSX and Saturn do.

2. Redbook audio. This is when you can take the game CD, pop it into a CD player, and listen to it normally.

3. PCM, or Pulse Code Modulation. Individual instrument samples, played back at certain pitches with effects, to create a sound that approximates a real instrument. Probably the best known and the least understood. It was what made the SNES sound so much better than the Genesis, as samples of real instruments naturally sound better than decades-old synthesis techniques trying to mimic real instruments. Recent games using this technology include Final Fantasy 7, Xenogears, Parasite Eve, and so on.

4. Streamed compressed digital. This is when they take the redbook audio ("raw" data) that a normal CD player can read and compress it to go as game data ("cooked" data) on the CD, in a form that the system can read. Both the Saturn and the PlayStation can do this. The end result is a lot like realtime decompression and playback of an MP3. It's the audio equivalent of how the systems do full-motion video.

3 and 4 are often confused by folks who don't understand the differences. They'll say a game has "PCM" music when it is, in fact, streamed compressed digital. Some examples of games which use this are: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid, Tenchu, Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha, Soukaigi, Armored Core.

PCM cannot do what streamed compressed digital can do... and that's sound REAL. The reason Soukaigi's first area theme has so much voice is because it's all one track, just stored in a tightly compressed form on the disc, which the PSX streams and decompresses realtime. Misalignment of the laser (a common problem) is what causes music to skip, because it can't read it in the designated synchronous fashion. PCM music as applied to videogames is really nothing more than MIDI and a song-specific wavetable, which the game provides by loading the system's sample RAM (or reads directly off the cart, in the case of SNES, Nintendo 64 and Neo*Geo games).

The fact of the matter is that *any* audio data, whether .wav or .mp3 or anything, is a PCM sample when you get right down to it. But the difference between "PCM music" and the streamed compressed audio is that the PCM music is made up of MANY samples being played at different pitches, whereas the latter is one sample, playing at one speed, until the song is over and it either fades out or loops. Polyphony doesn't enter into the matter, unlike PCM music, but that is another can of worms entirely.

Quite simply, no sampled cello (particularly not with the PSX's small amount of sample RAM) or horn or drumloop would sound as good as they do in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

I'm pretty knowledgable on the subject, thanks to having a personal friend who buys and uses synthesizers as his hobby... if you've any questions, I'd be glad to answer them (if I can). Thanks for your time. :)

-Deuce (deuce@classicgaming.com)

Allan: Wow. Now THAT is a great letter. Thanks for all the info, Deuce, god bless you for the Ys MIDIs.

Hello mister RPG Guru person! (Hi hi) I was looking at your sites coverage on the Lunar:SSS delay, and thought I'd send you some burning nfo on why it was delayed. It was originally on WD's page, then I saw it at www.lunar-net.com, then I thought I would bring it to you!

Here is the gist of what he (Victor Ireland) said:

* "Just that it's taking a while, since we haven't yet received all the data from Game Arts for various things, and once we receive it, it will take a while to convert it. Things are still coming along nicely, however.".

* (This next snippet is from the web master) "I'd just like to add that we are really working hard on Lunar right now. Several of us here at WD are putting in 12 plus hour work days because of the work we're doing on this title. There's just so much work that goes into a game as deep as Lunar...(just compare the times that regular townsfolk in Lunar will say different things based on events that have happened in the game to a regular townsfolk in just about any other RPG) There's quite a bit of text in the game. Maybe it's because I'm still relatively new here (and naive), but I 'm still hoping for a November release for Lunar. We don't see it happening, but I would love for it to be in stores for Black Friday."

*

There you go. It appears it's just more text/data problems.

Oh! BTW, you simply rule for your knowledge of Sega CD RPGs! I mean, you just rule! I go around the internet, and some people know about Lunar, but no one knows about Vay or Popful Mail....it's sad! They whine and moan and complain how there's no good Sega RPGs, and they don't know half of them! So, mister Guru, if I talked about farting fairies, ah, you'd actually know what I was talking about! Isn't that nice? ^_^

BTW...out of curiosity, have you played any of the SegaCD strat RPGs like Dark Wizard and Shining Force CD? If you have, what was your opinion?

Thank you for your time! ^_^ Hope I was of some help.

Lucca (http://lucca.simplenet.com)


Allan: Thanks for the info, Lucca. And yes, I know what farting fairies are. And yes, I have played Shining Force CD (not Dark Wizard, though). Sort of good, very nice music, but the inability to wander around towns like in Shining Force 1-3 was disappointing. As an aside, I'd love to hear from anyone that has an import copy (duh) of SF3 Scenario III. Hint hint. Hint.

Q: Allan, bud!

I've got to congratulate you on a wonderfully successful first week at the helm of RPGuru. Although, I'm a tad flabbergasted...you've actually been running this column daily -- as if you enjoy it! Everyone knows that the column was originally set up to help Andrew pick up cute female RPG fans, and that's certainly why I took it over temporarily! I'd even wager to bet that's why Brian Maniscalco took it over. Mike, of course, is already married to a cute female RPG fan, so I'm not sure what his motivation was.

Okay, bud, spill the beans -- what's your reason?!

-Brian Glick

Allan: Thanks for the support and all the help you've given me this past week, Brian. I really can't thank you enough.

As for me doing this column, well, it honestly wasn't to pick up girls. It wasn't for the money. It wasn't for the exclusive preview copy of FF8 that Square's sending us, since it doesn't exist. It wasn't for the glory of the Spanish Empire, or for king and country, and it wasn't just to rile up 7th Saga fans and Canadian haters. It wasn't even to make at least one mistake each day, and then apologize for it the next day.

It was to have the chance to compare myself to a Chihuahua on speed in print, even just once.

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: NeoTomba wants to remind everyone that Nobuo Uematsu did the fantastic music for the FF series and other Square games (go Nobby!), Mike Willenbring asks why it takes 255 battles to un-curse the Cursed Shield (because it's an incredibly powerful item that gives you an incredibly powerful spell, so they make it hard for you to get it), DraculaX asks who composed the music to Chrono Trigger (Yasunori Mitsuda), Shawners asks why the characters in Kartia look so much like the ones in FF6 (they share a distinctive character designer, Yoshitaka Amano), Max doesn't get the relation between Shadow and Relm in FF6 (she's his daughter - the dreams and the Memento Ring's description make this fairly implicit), the Glick asks if the titles and levels you get from doing jobs in FFTactics, i.e. Treasure Hunter lvl 1, actually mean anything (not that I can see), William S. Burns wants to know if 7th Saga 2 was ever released (Mystic Ark, a sequel of some sort to 7th Saga, was only ever released in Japan), and Andrew wants to know when RPGamer's fanfic section will be updated. Which I'll have to ask Erin about. I'll let you know tomorrow.

 

Well, this is a late update tonight, and tomorrow will be even later, RPGamers. And you know why? Because sometimes a guy's gotta put his priorities in order, and tomorrow night, this Guru's putting one special lady at the top of his list. And it ain't Aya Brea. Wish me luck!

- Allan Milligan, putting on a nice tie

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