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Allan Milligan

Well, time flows like a river, and so does the mucus in my head.

Suffice to say that I'm still quite sick, which has given me a shockingly thick headache, making it something of a struggle to write coherently, so my comments will be fairly minimal this time out. Hopefully I'll be better in a day or two - keep your fingers crossed...

Anyhow, the most popular topic of the day is unquestionably Enix Action/RPGs, mostly Terranigma and Illusion of Gaia. The former an excellent game lost in the cracks when Enix of America folded, the latter a flashpoint for tripe vs. triumph debate. Who says all we talk about here is Square? :)

Q: Just to clarify something Stephen Barr said in your column. Destiny of an Emperor is based on the **Chinese** epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It stops about halfway through, before everyone dies. And it skips over some of the really funny parts, such as when Zhang Fei (one of the main characters) goes chasing after a bad guy for an entire chapter, screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs. Look it up in a college library if you have a whole week to waste.


Allan: ... yeah. That about says it all.

Q: I have to give it to Earthbound for being the funniest RPG to date. This game has it all. You fight hippies, you use a baseball bat as a weapon, hey there's even a character named Prince Poo. You really can't get comedy like that in RPGs these days. Sure, games have their funny parts, but we never get a full-blown comedy RPG like Earthbound was. Hopefully, Earthbound 64 will supply us with the laughs much needed in RPGs. What do you think?

Allan: Silly RPGs? Well, Japan has more of 'em than we do on this side of the Pacific, but it's not all doom and gloom. We've got Earthbound. Robotrek was originally called Slapstick in Japan, but the translation's so bad that it's unintentionally hilarious as best. Virtually every Working Designs-translated game is at least somewhat funny (funny bones varying from person to person, natch). My personal fave funny RPG is good old Cosmic Fantasy 2, with Cadet Babbette. Tee hee.

Q: All this discussion about the difficulty of RPGs has got me thinking, what is challenge in an RPG? If the only challenge that a game offers is that you need to waste obscene amounts of time building levels and earning money in order to proceed, is that really challenge, or a poorly-disguised excuse for challenge? Last I checked, tedeous didn't mean challenging.

I'd like to see a game where the challenge is found in puzzles, and the player actually having to think about where to go next based on clues given to him/her by the people scattered about in the game world. I mean, seriously, when was the last time a villager actually told you something that you needed to know to move on? Heck, when was the last time that you didn't just follow the story from scene to scene. But I digress...

What do we (collectively) consider to be "challenge" in an RPG?

And one last thing, it's inappropriate to use honorifics when refering to oneself. I can call you "Whomever-san," but you can't refer to yourself as "Whomever-san." Just thought that some people could use the info... ;)


Allan: Interesting question, and I imagine I'll get responses about this tomorrow. In the meantime, I do agree that a game where level-building is a way of life isn't challenging, but tedious. I'd consider a well-balanced game to be something like Alundra: you can theoretically do level-building, but smart gameplay and quick fingers will serve you better. The plot doesn't hold you by the hand, and there's puzzles a-plenty to be found. By contrast, there's something like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, which is (intentionally) easy. They even give you special spots on the map in which to level-build. Of course, discerning the border between a game that's reliant on level-building as a form of challenge, like Dragon Warrior III, and one in which it's not necessary, but is helpful to do, like FF6, is a tough call. Thoughts, everyone?

Q: Hey Guru:

I was one of the first people to purchace Illusion of Gaia (in that I have the free teeshirt). I must say that it is not as bad a game was most people make it out to be. Yes, I'll admit that the ending was the most dissapointing finale I have ever seen. But the game itself was innovative and worth playing. For example, the weapon of choice of the main character was a flute. A side quest of the game was to find the fifty red gems, but it isn't until they are gathered that you realize why. It made you think. It made you laugh. And the ending, while on the lame side, was original. No "to be continued," keeping the franchise alive. The enemy doesn't escape to wreck havok another day. Illusion of Gaia wins over with plot and play. Yes, the ending can make or break a game. But it's hard to beat the coolness of a character like Shadow, a game where you visit the Great Wall of China, or fight a comet. A successful game must excell in several areas, and no one attribute alone can determine a game's total image. If it's fun to play, then it's good. Maybe not great, or awardwinning like Final Fantasy VII. But a good game is as worth a play as a great game.


Allan: I'd say we're coming to the end of the Illusion of Gaia stuff now, but figured I'd print a representative letter anyway.


Q: Hello oh-RPGuru of geatness and wisdom. I have written, not to defend a game, really, but to ask if there is anyone in the world who liked the game Quest 64. Well, is there? I don't have an N64, but I did get the chance to play that game. Play it through, to the end. And y'know what? It frickin' sucked!!! I hated it! Does anyone disagree with me? I mean, the music was really boring and repetitive and overly happy go lucky. There were, like, only 6 or 7 bosses in the whole game! The final boss was easy and predictable. (He was okay looking. A smaller version of him, though, might've passed for a normal FF monster) The final battle music was, okay, I must admit. But that's the final battle music! It's supposed to be awesome(e.g. One Winged Angel). I heard one of the good things about it was it's 'unique battle system'. B.S. And you could never change your weapon. Never change armor. And sadly, the spells were faaaar inferior to the weapon you had the whole game over: a stick. And once you got the spell cure(or a name something like that) you could restore your life no matter how low it s and go into battle with full magic points(i.e. your magic charged up inside and outside of battle). No challenge what-so-ever. I feel embarassed to say that I actually played it...... Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just a psychotic hippie out to eat your children. But, I don't think so. What do you think?

Allan: I think Quest 64 is utter crap. As you say, I honestly don't recall encountering anyone who's ever really liked it. <shrug> Anyone care to contribute rebuttal, or does Q64 get tossed into the Crap Bin?

Q: Okay, here's that inevitable question that someone was bound to ask: How many letters do you recieve on average each day? Oh yeah, and out of those, how many are written by total morons who say things along the lines of "*insert game here* SUCKS!!!!"?

Ham On Rye --

Allan: I generally receive anywhere between 50 and 100 letters each day. Usually four or five are total nonsense, if not totally unreadable, which isn't so bad.

Q: Do you have any information on Ogre battle 3 and which do you think was better tactics ogre or FFT? Also I have heard some rumors about A Chrono Trigger 2 coming out is it true?

Allan: Ogre Battle 3 coverage can be found both here at RPGamer, in the Upcoming N64 RPG section, and at Quest's own homepage, which is mostly in Japanese, but includes lots of neat stuff, including lots of art from Tactics Ogre. Cool beans. Third, Chrono Trigger 2 is still only a rumor at this point. And secondly and last, I'm sort of torn about FFT and TO. FFT is inquestionably prettier, plays very well, and has a gorgeous score. On the other hand, TO is a deeper game overall, which appeals to the hardcore gamer in me, and has a much better translation - no one in Tactics Ogre had a good feeling, or opened an Ore with faith. On balance, I'd recommend FFT to a wider spectrum of gamers: it's a classy, deep game, and well worth anyone's time. TO I'd recommend to people that are looking for a real challenge, and are willing to ignore weaknesses of graphics, sound and controls for longer play time.

Q: 1) Hey, its Nick with another question, will there every be or has there been rpgs with rock music, or any other type of music besides that stuff they make for the rpg?

2) I took your advice about the belt, but Al Bundy didn't come and my fingers started bleedin' from callin' too much, so Nick went lookin for the man himself and found him in a dumpster passed out and rolled into a joint being smoked by a hairy 32 year old man wearing nothin but a diaper, so things were lookin down when an unknown messiah(name unknown) happily informed me that the belt's metaphysical donkey had starved to death in a metaphysical desert created by a religious fanatic's repressed desires. I then preceded to hire a bunch of Communist Blow-Up Dolls(part of the C.B.U.D. Assioaction) to destroy the belt and build me a new one from the weeds found only in a small cave in place yet to exist(yet advertised and curated by a giant monkey who always talks about how happy him and his family of hyperdermic needles are), so my pants are where there should be.

3) Now that the belt situation is over, god throws me another punch, I am being follwed by a transvestite tiger named "Geebles", Nick needs your help man!

4) I was checking up on Magic Knights Rayearth and found that one of the girls attacks with a rapier. Do they mean a rapier as in a thin thrusting sword, or rapier like the one Magus had in Chrono Trigger, which was actually a scythe?

Allan: 1) All together now: Ys! The Ys series, specifically the Turbografx-CD/Duo versions, boast a wide variety of musical styles, including some very cool rock-ish music. It sounds a bit 8o-ish, admittedly, but it's there, and the tunes themselves are great. Especially fine is the Ys Book II final boss music. Drool.

2) Uh-huh. & 3) Transvestite tiger named Geebles? Easy solution to that one: simply invoke the name of the Lord on Geebles' undergarments. You see, there's a line in the Book of Numbers that states that "thou shalt not wear clothes of mixed fabric, lest ye be struck dead." Invoke this oft-ignored Biblical law, and Geebles goes bye-bye.

Y'know, what's frightening is that I didn't have to make that up.

4) It's a rapier as in a sword.

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: Mr. Saturn asks what a "hoochie" is (I think it's just a nonsense word), Matt Woodard points out that Magic Knight Rayearth for Saturn was made by Sega, making a PSX port totally absurd (it was still a cool-ass rumor, though), Max asks what my favourite Pokemon is (I don't have one, since I haven't played or seen it yet...), Daniel Seltzer asks what's up with Xenogears' US release date (it was pushed back a month so they could, get this, improve the text translation!), gunblade asks if Square's latest games are getting released in Europe (I don't know, but will look into it ASAP), glick asks where I got stuck in Exile 2 (Crully in his freaking tower - nearly brought me to tears, that game), Ruth asks is Shining in the Darkness is part of the Shining series (as far as I can tell, all the Shining games share nothing except a common developer (Sega), though the Shining Force games are a distinct series within a franchise), and Kupit wonders how a company can make eight "final" fantasies. The answer? With money. Lots and lots of money.

Yeah, that about does it. Oh, and anyone that wants to recap Shadow's dreams, feel free to send it in, as a few people have been asking for clarification on what's up with 'em, and I don't trust my drug-addled noggin to remember them properly. G'night.

- Allan Milligan, not quite awake

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