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Allan Milligan

Snork is the sound of my head hitting the desk when it's full to the brim with mucus. Being sick sucks. Say it with me, people. Being sick sucks.

Anyhow, a slightly less late update tonight, in light of my illness having kept me bedridden for most of the day. Nonetheless, I reserve the right to blame my daily errors on the oceans of NyQuil I'm guzzling regularly.

Also of note is my actually updating the Archives page. It's not especially pretty at the moment, and I'll probably give it a makeover sometime soon, but in the meantime, it's up-to-date as of tonight's update. Aren't I a prince? (The Archives are always accessible through the Interaction section of RPGamer, by the by).

Oh, and one last thing: my inflamed little head is going to explode like a hand grenade if I get one more "the meaning of life is 42" letter. There's such a thing as beating a joke to death, everyone, and this one is twitching and bleeding on the linoleum. Please, enough is enough.

Q: I've written about this before, but tell me this time! Tell me everything about the cursed items in the FFs...please? Or, if you've answered this to someone else, tell me which date (cause your archive is HUGE!).

Also, are there only five heroes in FFV?! If not, will you tell me the names of ALL the characters?

Well, that should cover it. Oh - Allan, for God's sake, rob a bank! You've got to have Parasite Eve NOW! And thanks for the Japanese sites! (I'm gonna need them now - with FFV...)

Best wishes to you from


Allan: The Cursed Shield is available in Narshe, in the World of Ruin, in a big, unlocked house in the upper-left quarter of town (you've never been able to get in there before.) Enter it and find an old man lying in bed, talk to him, and he'll hand over the Cursed Shield to you. Alternately, use the Ragnarok Esper on Didalos, in Kefka's Tower. The Cursed Ring can be found by using Ragnarok on Didalos or Veterans in Kefka's Tower, or using it on SrBehemoths on the Veldt.

There are five playable heroes in FFV: Butz, Lenna, Faris, Galuf and Kururu. And they have really, really silly names.

Q: Greetings, Allan. It is I, the Mysterious Moe writing in again. I think RPGs are becoming more of interactive movies and I also think Square are glory hogs. I must applaud ENIX for holding through the Empire of Square.

The reason most people don't like ENIX games is that they are difficult. While this is true, keep in mind these masterpieces aren't designed for the newbie, and are not made as such. Square does that part rather well, with its sickeningly easy newbie interactive movie RPGs.

Interactive movie RPGs are not really RPGs. In fact, it makes them less of RPGs. In a role playing game, you create a persona and act as you would that character. While no Console RPGs are real RPGs to some extent, Square (as well as Interactive Movie RPGs in general)'s are far less so, featuring an army of prefabricated characters on a quest to save the world once again.

With each passing ENIX RPG, I am constantly dazzled by the use of a rich enviorment and solid history of the world, from Ticondera's Melenam to Alefgard's Charlock. While chunks of the world's past is revealed throughout the course of the story, it affects the characters in no way, which is a good thing.

Clearly, ENIX RPGs are made for the smarter, more advanced gamer. People who hate Robotrek are just plain stupid. What is thy view on this?

~ The Mysterious Moe, riding into the sunset...

Allan: My view is that neither the storytelling-centric Square style, nor the gameplay-focused Enix style is inherently better than the other. In any case, it is a line that's become quite blurred ever since Enix announced their decision to use polygons and FMV in Dragon Quest VII, really. But even so, it's quite apparent that both approaches to RPGs have their fair share of stars and duds. It's all a matter of opinion. Subjectivity.

Enix RPGs clearly play into your gaming tastes. Good for you. But to deny that a smart, advanced gamer can enjoy a more cinematic, story-focused RPG is at best presumptuous, at worst blindingly arrogant and smacking of elitism. I, for one, enjoy playing a game where I feel drawn into the human dramas unfolding on the screen. I liked running around to find all of Shadow's Dreams in FF6, and thought Aeris' death in FF7 was one of the finest, most brilliantly executed moments in RPG history. This does not make me a stupid person. This does not make me a beginning gamer. It makes me someone whose tastes differ from yours, Moe. That's the only difference.

Q: Hey, yo!

First, before I actually start talking about something *important* (^_^), I'd like to compliment you on the good job you're doing with the letters section! Lotsa wit, and some big talent for starting interesting debates (Like the Defense of the Bad Games. Whoo!) show that you were a good choice for the RPGuru column. Plus, you're a cool guy. (And you also update every day. ^_^ Incidentally, I have to send this letter later, since the server is *dead* as I'm typing this, and I haven't been able to see your latest batch. Grr.)

So now that I've buttered you up, here's what I have to say. Two words, man - Working Designs. If you go to their site and look at the schedule, you'll see some stuff. (Duh.) Like how LUNAR's been delayed again. (As if we didn't expect THAT... =p) Or how every game except their mystery RPG has been delayed again, and the unannounced game is still set for December, which suggests that the translation is either complete or near complete. (And it hasn't been on the list for too long, either...) Or how the mystery game is now labeled as an action RPG.

Now let's take out our pencils and start computing our powers of two, hmm? What action RPG is already almost done being translated? And why did Vic (Or maybe Dave, I don't remember who actually said it...) say that the mystery RPG would be unveiled after Magic Knight Rayearth was finished? What do you think? Could a conversion of MKR be the mystery PSX game we've all been wondering (and drooling... =p) about? I'd LOVE to see it there, and I think it's a strong possibility. We know that Vic and the crew are going to lose money on the game, and they've put a LOT of work into it. Wouldn't it make sense for both business and artistic reasons for WD to make the game available to a wider audience than the dwindling pool of Saturn owners?

Admittedly, though, there are still some small holes in my reasoning. =( MKR is scheduled for October, and it would probably take more than two months to complete a total port of the finished game to the PSX, even if they've already started on it. (The counter-counter arguement there is that WD has never been SERIOUSLY squeemish about delaying their games. Heh.) The decision to unveil the game after Rayearth is out doesn't necessarily mean anything either - the last game they publish for the Saturn marks the end of an age for them, and it makes sense to show what's planned next *after* that age is over. What's more, the mystery game is listed on the schedule as an "a RPG," while MKR is labeled an "A/RPG," leaving the possibility of a typo open. (But doubtful, since "a RPG" is a change from the original "RPG" listing of the game.) But tell me what you think, eh? Personally, I'm gonna hope =)

"The Mouse Police never sleeps."

~ Game Cat!

Allan: This letter is hopelessly and shamelessly speculative, but it's a cool theory nonetheless. Despite my all-consuming hatred of the Magic Knights Rayearth theme song in all its shapes and forms, it'd still make an interesting addition to the rather sparse lineup of Action/RPGs on the Playstation. Time will tell, I guess.

Q: Hello RPGuru, just a few quick questions...

1: You've been talking about some old rpg's in your column for a little bit and I was wondering if you ever heard of the cool NES rpg Destiny of an Emperor. It had a strange but interesting battle system, cool attacks(techniques),great music, and an intriguing ancient japanese warlord story. I liked it a lot, did you ever play it?

2: I don't know if it's only me but, have you played a difficult rpg in the last two years? Almost all the rpg's I have played in the last couple of years have been incredibly easy. I admit, they were fun but, FF7, BOFIII,Suikoden,Wild Arms,Lunar, they have all been easy. And then, the easiest rpg I ever played-you guessed it-CHRONO TRIGGER. I have to agree, 7th Saga was sucky, but it was still hard, I liked that. Can you suggest any difficult rpg's?

3: What are the basic dietary needs of a smurf?

Thanks a lot.

- Stephen Barr

Allan: 1) I haven't played Destiny of an Emperor for years now. I'd give an opinion of it, but seeing as I haven't given it a try since I was eleven years old or so, it'd probably be asking for trouble...

2) Difficult RPGs of the past two years? Alundra springs to mind. Tactics Ogre. Persona was tough in spots. For all-time tough games, there is only one answer: Exile: Wicked Phenomenon, for Turbografx-CD, translated by Working Designs. Dear god, but that was a hideously hard game. It was so hard, in fact, that WD was at one point unsure if it was actually possible to finish the last level at all. Totally insane. But if it's tough you want, you'd be hard pressed to find better.

3) They taste like veal, if that's what you mean.

Q: Actually, the real reason for the renaming of the Dragon Quest games to Dragon Warrior was copyright issues. In the US there was some kind of board game (I think it was a board game) that was already called Dragon Quest ot Dragon's Quest or something else very similar. So when the big N released the first game in the series, they changed the name to prevent a potential lawsuit. I remember reading about this in Nintendo Power a long time ago.


Allan: This is correct. The explanation I gave of the DQ/DW name switch yesterday was something I'd read in (and I rechecked this today) an old GamePro magazine, in an article about the Dragon Warrior animated series. What a pinnacle of informational accuracy that turned out to be. :P

Allan: Also, a whole lotta people wrote in to tell Rob and I that we're not crazy, and that Nobuo Uematsu did indeed do music for Chrono Trigger. The tracks he did are as follows: A Prayer to the Road That Leads (Disc 1, Track 17), Mystery of the Past (Disc 2, Track 2), People Who Threw Away the Will to Live (Disc 2, Track 4), Bike Chase (Disc 2, Track 8), Underground Sewer (Disc 2, Track 16), Primitive Mountain (Disc 2, Track 18), Burn! Bobonga! (Disc 2, Track 21), Tyrano Castle (Disc 3, Track 2), and Sealed Door (Disc 3, Track 7). All track listings are from the Original Sound Version sountrack. Thanks to everyone (all fifty of ya) who wrote in.

And, a glance into the "Illusion of Gaia: Tripe or Triumph?" file...

Now to the Illusion of Gaia thing...

Um. I'd say "tripe."

At first I liked it- I enjoyed the gameplay (that wouldn't last *too* long tho)- the many different attacks Will could execute and... um... that was about it, I'm afraid. But it wasn't so bad until... "Mu." That dungeon pissed the isht out of me. And so did the rest of the game. I started to get the impression that played reeeaaally slowly. I also found that the dialogue was getting crappier and crappier, that Will was a scrawny weakling whose gameplay techniques weren't getting any more interesting (I'm real sick and tired of that "Attack button+direction you're facing" attack), and that it was just plain dumb. Why the hell can't you move independently on the world map? It makes the game so small. It was a w-a-s-t-e.

I didn't in any way intend to offend or put down Mr. Moogles, I just wanted to have my say... he should look into "Terranigma," though. THAT game is what Illusion of Gaia SHOULD have been (if you can find imported European games.) Which leads me into my next topic.

TERRANIGMA. The "Action-RPG" king. (Don't starting throwing things at me yet- Zelda is Action-RPG GOD. There, is that better?) Unfortunately we don't get that here in the States... (first Japan keeps games from us, now EUROPE? Come ON!!) I don't think many people have heard of it. The visuals are beautiful. The music is... actually the music is nothing to holler 'bout, but it's pretty good. The play control and mechanics? Ahh. That's what changed my mind about this game after I thought it'd suck. (GameFan said that it was to be an Illusion of Gaia type game.) You have your normal slash, dashing slash (where he hurls himself at the enemy a-la M. Bison), jumping (yes he can JUMP!) slash, dashing-jumping DIVE, and multi-slash a-la E. Honda. And he can *kinda* throw spells like Fire and Ice... (I haven't found others :( )...

The gameplay is fun and smooth, and it didn't bore me like Illusion of Gaia did. If you can get your hands on it, I recommend you try it. And one more thing... maybe you could cover it on RPGamer? ^_^ ^_^ (I suppose I can get screen shots n' stuff)

Thanks fer listening.

-anonymous person that is me

And, for the defense...

Arrgh, this will teach me to send you a smarmy letter about Dragon Quest/Warrior before reading the rest of the column and finding that my favorite RPG of all time, Illusion of Gaia, has been attacked.

Perhaps it's just me. In fact, it's probably just me. But Illusion of Gaia is one of the most underrated RPGs of all time. Story-wise and gameplay-wise, it's perfect. First, I'll tackle the storyline... which is deceptively simple, go and find the six magical statues. It's not the goal that matters, it's how they get there, and each of the characters has a personal revelation or event that changes them and their attitude about life (with the possible exception of Eric.) Seth has to deal with not being human anymore, which is unfortunately never really shown in the game. Lance and Lilly discover each other and start one of the more poignant RPG romances ever, where one of the participants doesn't necessarily have to be stabbed or captured by Dr. Evil. Neil has to cope with being the heir to a multimillion dollar corporation. Kara learns that adventuring isn't all ham and plaques. Even Hamlet the pig has his one shining moment in the Native's Village. And you can't see the scene where Will and Kara are floating on the raft and not think "Damn, this is a cool game."

For the gameplay freaks out there, I have two words for you: Sky Garden. This s one of the coolest mazes I've ever seen, with a pair of cool sides and beautiful graphics. The other dungeons are impressive as well, especially Angkor Wat, Angel Village (you have to love the mouse-pointer puzzle), the Great Wall, and Mu. If you get bored, there's always 50 red gems to track down and the absurdly hard secret level to beat. The morphing characters is well done and just basically cool. The graphics are classic SNES, and they shine in just about every scene. And the music... the ending scene where Will and Kara kiss is possibly my favorite piece ever in an RPG.

But my favorite part of the game is the ending, which is incredibly well done... I can still remember most of the words, even now. If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to. That alone makes it my favorite RPG game of all time... a hell of a lot better story than a good many of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, and just generally fun to play and look at.

And this column ruuuuules.

Allan: I try. :) Anyhow, Illusion of Gaia ranks as my all-time favourite Action/RPG starring a main character who uses a flute as a weapon .

A cop-out? You bet!

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: CS asks if I think the FF Summoned Monsters animations take too long (yes, I keep on praying for a Ogre Battle-esque Zip Mode for FF8), Spoozer asks if FFV is being translated for US release (Square says No), everyone has a favourite game they want RPGamer to cover Right Now (working on it...), Mikediscool tells us that there's a horrible RPG called Sword of Hope that was put out on Gameboy (er... thanks..), and JaRRal wonders what opening theme song I was griping about yesterday, and today for that matter (Magic Knights Rayearth, due out in October for Saturn).

A pretty serious batch 'o letters today, which is just as well, since I might've ended up doing another of those weird, nonsensical answers like the Clam thing from Thursday (*PLUG* check the newly-revamped Archives *END PLUG*). Shudder at your leisure. In the meantime, everybody have a good day/night/whatever, and I'll see y'all tomorrow night.

- Allan Milligan, dazed and confused

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