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Okay, okay, time for something new and exciting. My SaGa Frontier comments,
promised last time, have been sunk into the body of the column, leaving
this space free to talk about something else. Namely, Atlus.
Up until a few weeks ago, I didn't pay much attention to Atlus. Their
RPG releases for the Playstation had been not my cuppa (Persona), or disappointing
due to the lack of improvements made from the originals (Ogre Battle and
Tactics Ogre). Not exactly something that inspired my confidence. And then
they unveiled Kartia, via the Blockbuster thing, and I became intrigued.
I've got a soft spot for strategy/RPGs, and for Amano's artwork, so I promised
myself I'd give it a look. (Which I still need to do, but that's not the
Then Atlus announced Brigandine, which was compared to Dragon Force,
which I loved. And Guilty Gear, which isn't an RPG, but utterly rocks anyway.
So I gave Tactics Ogre another rental, and noted that the text translation
was surprisingly good. Not perfect, but good. And that, to me, sums up the
company: they're not the Big Guns yet, they've yet to release a game that
totally blew me away, but they're up-and-comers. I hope to see great things
from them soon. That's my hope, at least.
Q: Ok, so it's not "really" cocaine and it doesn't
permanently raise your attributes, but (and I'm sure this will be one of
many notes mentioning this) in Exile: Wicked Phenomenon you get to use the
1) Coca Level 1 healing power
2) Cannavis Level 2 healing power
3) Peyote Level 3 helaing power
4) Hareesh Level 1 attack for 30 seconds
5) Pika Level 2 attack for 30 seconds
6) Boracelo Level 3 attack for 30 seconds
7) Joyaco Level 1 defense for 30 seconds
8) Cavass Level 2 defense for 30 seconds
9) Cantharos Level 3 defense for 30 seconds
I know up to #4 what the real items are, but beyond that I'm kind
of stumped on what they should be, if anything. And yes, I double checked
the spelling on the items, no typos in the lot. They also have a god (in
a desert culture) called Fallah. Wonder who that might be? :)
- James Cunningham
Allan: Count on Working Designs to slip cocaine into a fantasy
RPG. :) Thanks for the list - it's been ages since I played Exile: WP, and
I'd completely forgotten about all these things. I'm stumped past #4 as
well, but it's neat anyway.
Q: Greeting Mr. RPGuru,
I love you comentary with all of these questions and all. It shows how
committed you are to the RPG fans of the Internet, and how patient you are
with some of these people. Now I have a question and I think an answer,
but I want to see what the Guru thinks about it.
Have you seen all seven of Shadow's dreams in FF VI or is that just a
stupid rumor of the world? It kind of ticks me off, for I sleep in the
inn a thousand times, but I can only get four, maybe five, I've lost count
for goodness sake! So have you? Please share your wisdom with me, so I
may be enlightened.
Allan: I've only ever seen five dreams, which trace Shadow's life
from early times as Clyde the thief, with his pal Baram, clear up to the
point where he leaves infant Relm with Strago in Thamasa. I've heard claims
that there are seven dreams, but I'm a "believe it when I see it"
kinda guy, and the strategy guide says there's only five, so that's what
I'd say: five dreams.
Q: About the pronounciation of Ramza's last name, Beoulve.. if
I didn't know better, I'd say that the name looks French. I asked my mom
about it, who speaks a little French herself, and she said that it looked
French. She also said IF it were meant to be a French name, it would most
likely be pronounced "Bow-vay". Just thought you'd like to know!..
Allan: Interesting. As an aside, Shawners wrote in, suggesting
that it'd be pronounced "bwelve." It hadn't occurred to me that
it'd be a French name, but that sounds about right. I'll probably still
end up saying it "bay-oolve" like always, but now I have two slightly
less silly versions to fall back on. Heh. Thanks for writing in.
1. I really enjoyed the article on what challenge is, some very good
points were brought up. But from what I read, apparently Dragon Warrior
III (one of my favorite in the series) is not much of a challenge, but rather
a level gaining bazaar. While in some cases this can be true, I've found
that with a party of 4 you don't have to gain as many levels during the
game as Dragon Warrior IV's chapters (not to knock DW4, another favorite).
If you really want a challenge, do what I'm trying... a party consisting
of the following: Hero. Level 44 and I'm about to kick Baramos' bum....
hehe. Anyhow, got any input on this? :)
2. I've recently read about several of the more recent Enix Games, DW5
and 6 as well as Mystic Ark. The latter of which sounds like a better sequel
than the original. My question is, Enix has, sadly, seemingly abandoned
the American RPG market of late... in fact Ogre Battle is the only thing
in recent memory that they've released here. What gives?
3. My question is, will RPGamer ever have coverage on the PC market?
It seems to me that you'll stay Console oriented, but you never know...
Thanks for the time, hope to write back soon!
Slayer of Llamas
Allan: (Had to snip out some material, since it was taking up
the entire column. Apologies, m'man.) Anyhow, answers:
1) First off, I'm very impressed by your taking on Baramos with just
the Hero. Of course, a more fun way to do it would be a party with the Hero,
and three Goof-Offs. :) As for difficulty, I suspect that DWIII's reputation
as "level-gaining bazaar" may stem from the fact that there's
no time spent on character stuff, which means that proprtionately, the level-gaining
to "story" ratio is tipped more towards the former, which makes
it seem more like the former is the point, rather than the method, which
irks some people. Does that make any sense?
2) Enix of America shut down because nobody liked or bought their games.
Simple as that. Dragon Warrior sold decently, but not great (DW1 aside),
and the rest were savaged in reviews and ignored by gamers. So Enix essentially
said "to hell with this," and put their efforts into the Japanese
market, where they clean house.
3) We're a console RPG site, first and foremost. We have enough of those
already to cover to even consider expanding to PC games. Sorry.
Q: I personally did not like Final Fantasy 3 nearly as much as
7. This opinion comes from playing both games until my eyes bled. I just
finished demolishing ff3 because i just got a super nintendo. There were
mainly 3 reasons i didn't like ff3 as much. They were that
a) There was no real main character
b) The ending in 3 was so incredibly boring because there was no impending
danger like meteor in ff7.
and c) The "evil" villian in ff3, Kefka, was such a loser.
I mean c'mon he was a clown for gods sake. Now Sephiroth, there is a real
Dont get me wrong, ff3 is still a very good game, but just not THAT good.
Allan: Well, I actually prefer FF3/6j to FF7. The lack of a main
character, to my mind, was an advantage: it forced Square to spend time
developing several focal characters intead of just one (Celes, Locke, Terra),
which created a better-developed cast overall. By contrast, Cloud was a
huge focal point for most of FF7's plot, leaving characters like Red XIII,
Yuffie, and Vincent quite two-dimensional. FF6 had its share of cardboard
characters too, but the split focus gave us more really well-developed ones,
which balanced that.
Second, I don't think having a tense ending sequence is neccessarily
a Good Thing. I liked FF7's ending, but there's nothing wrong with having
a happy ending to a game. The vingette scenes of the characters, plus the
triumphant flight at the end of FF3's ending left me quite exhilarated -
not as pat as FF4's ending, not as vague and tense as FF7's, but interesting
in its own way.
And lastly, I loved Kefka. He was such a Caligula sort of character,
totally insane and genocidal, but laughable and absurd. It's easy to pull
off a mwah-ha-ha, dresses all in black villains, but to create a psychotic
clown that can destroy a world? That's tough, and Kefka's murder of Leo
in FF6, to me, is a classic RPG moment.
Q: I've been waiting for you to beat FFT so I can assault you
with FFT questions . . .
SPOILERS FOR FF TACTICS START HERE
1) In FFT, there's all this talk about Lucavi. I had the feeling that
Lucavi was the big bad guy demon, and I expected to square off with him
(it?) at the end of the game. Then I saw somewhere that Lucavi was just
a general name for all the big demons like Velius. What's the real story?
2) Do you think that fighting 'bosses' in FFT (eg Velius) and battles
where the goal is to beat one guy are dumb? Strategy is abandoned in these
battles and there's no satisfaction in winning.
3) Do you think that FFT got way too easy near the end?
4) What's the deal with Delita? Good guy? Bad guy? Retard?
5) How long do you think you can keep updating daily for?
Allan: 1) According to the cutscene just after you get Meliadoul,
Lucavi is a general name for the demons caused/summoned by the Zodiac stone.
The legend of Lucavi the singular monster was of one of them, who was given
the name of the species (or whatever) as its given name.
2) Velius certainly required strategy, but the rest of the bosses in
FFT were fairly lame. It often made sense story-wise, but especially once
Orlandu joins up, "Kill Person" battles ended up being an invitation
for a one-turn battle.
3) If you used Orlandu? Yeah. I'd be curious to give it a shot without
using him, though.
4) Delita is the focus of the most systematic character assassination
I've ever seen in a game. The whole game starts off with the explanation
that he's known to be this legendary hero, but that Ramza was the "true"
hero, obscured by time and the Church. And he seems decent enough in the
first chapter, but from then on, culminating with his murder of Ovelia,
he's set up as a power-hungry maniac. He's someone who's so totally sure
of his righteousness, that he knows what's best, that he manipulates everyone
else into doing what he thinks needs to be done. He's complex, he's not
very likeable, but very interesting.
5) I'll be keeping it up until Friday, on which night I'll be leaving
for a family trip to my cottage for the long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving,
eh). I'll be gone for two days, and return for a column on Monday night.
After that, I should be clear until Christmas.
HERE ENDETH THE FFT SPOILERS
Q: A Shaft RPG???? AWESOME!! Why, just this Friday I made a Shaft
computer theme. Many people might not know who Shaft is. Well, just check
out his THREE(!) movies: Shaft, Shaft Goes to Africa, and Shaft's Big Score.
The RPG would be great. Picture this: The Isaac Hayes them song plays in
it's entirety whil you guide Shaft out of the subway to the shoe shine shop.
Instead of making rude gestures and pulling out your badge, you get in PE
like fights. Cabbie almost hit you? Fight. Guy tries to fence a watch? Fight.
At the Shoe Shine, you spend some money for info regarding some people looking
for you. I could go on, but people will have to see these movies. Richard
Oh, and I'd like to know what the one kick-butt RPG for this year is
(After Zelda). X-Mas is coming....Your thoughts influence people Allan.
Allan: I normally try to avoid printing letters from the same
person two days in a row, but this Shaft bit was priceless. Anyhow, not
being much of a Zelda fan, the three RPGs I'm looking forward to most for
the rest of the year are Xenogears (I'm such a sucker for mecha), Lunar:
Complete, and in the import scene, Climax Lander for Dreamcast.
Q: Ok this is my view on the credibility of one of the few squaresoft
titles that can be truely called below average. Every game has those who
love it and those who hate it, especially Square games, but like Secret
of Evermore and the FF Lengends series, along with FF Mystic Quest (kinda
long list huh?) it had too many flaws too really be called a true Square
title. Each of these games has its plusses but one or more crucial flaws
completely destroyed the game. Saga Frrontier has three notable flaws that
severely detract from the game. Another list is just going to make your
day, n'est ce pas?
1. The lack of a true leveling system made you feel like you were never
getting anywhere especially when it seems, although im not sure, that the
better you get the more insanely hard the enemies become.
2. When trying to play as a character whose main attacks are technique
based like Red's the fact that you can't regain the points they use makes
fighting several battles to that require you to use techniques almost imposible.
3. The inability to dodge enemies while trying to see a faint passage
way also got on my nerves. At least in Chronotrigger if you were fast enough
or careful enough you could dodge most enemies but in Saga Frontier the
passage ways were so small you could barely run 5 steps without accendentally
bumping into a wall. This is one of the most annoying flaws I've ever seen
in a game.
The game did have its plus points like the vast amount of secrets, different
PCs, huge parties, and alot of exploration possible but these flaws made
anything but the basics extremely annoying to me. So I never finished the
one quest I started because of a bad memory card and probably will never
try. I pray Saga Frontier 2 will improve upon these flays because the graphics
look very interesting and the whole concept behind the series is actually
quite good. Square has made a few flawed games but to the person wondering
about PE from what I've played its wonderful but renting might be safer
First time writer,
Allan: I have an admission to make. I've never finished SaGa Frontier.
I come down heavily on the side of those that were really disappointed with
it. I love the concept. I love the idea of a free scenario RPG, a go-anywhere-do-anything
RPG with multiple characters. I even love the power gain system. But SaGa
Frontier lacked two things, in my eyes: characterization and cohesiveness.
The characters never captured my imagination at all: the free-scenario system,
by its nature, stifled the preplanned dramatic sequences that I love so
much in RPGs, making the core cast fall flat as dramatically interesting
characters compared to a game like Lunar: EB or FF6. I didn't care about
the characters, and that led to me not caring about the game. Secondly,
I never felt like things fit together properly in the game. There was the
concept of different islands with different cultures and environments, and
it all seemed haphazard to me. My logic sensors were going wild at a high-tech
urban land co-existing with a rural, traditional fantasy land.
All in all, SaGa Frontier just never pulled me in like my favourite RPGs
did, and with a game that lacks a strong central plotline to carry it along,
meant that I simply didn't play it. I just didn't care. But that's me.
Q: Going against what you said in the "This is the way"
article, there is a two-year RPG coming out. A company in Japan in planning
a small PRG to some out each 2 months for 2 years. They are each kind of
like novellas, but video games. I think that I saw this in the Dreamcast
section of Gamers' Republic in their second issue.
The QuakeII-playing, RPG-loving, "I'll play Tactics 'till my eyes
bleed", Radiohead -loving informer
Allan: Another letter writer mentioned this article, which I've
never seen, and said that it was being developed by Capcom. To me, it sounds
sort of interesting, but I can't imagine it'd be cheap, which worries me
- 12 installments at fifteen bucks a pop might be worth it, but if it breaks
the thirty dollars per chapter mark, I'd just as soon buy a used game instead,
you know? Anyhow, thanks for the info, and if anyone could tell me what
issue of GR this article was in, I'd appreciate it.
Q: I suppose I'll just skip all the comments I have about how
great you and all the other <cough, cough> hard-working guys (and
gals) at RPGamer are doing and just get right down to the nitty-gritty.
A long while ago, (when I still had a subscription to Nintendo Power) I
read an article in the beforementioned magazine about a game called Star
Ocean. Now, this game sounded like RPG-heaven. However, I never saw it
down here. Of course, that's not anything new, as lots of great RPG's are
released in Japan, and not down here. However, I when I saw that a sequal
was coming out, and it might be released down here, I got all curious.
So, I figured I'd ask you a few questions about it, like what system was
it released for? (I always figured SNES, but, the way the mag. said it
has speech and all that, it might also had been for the N64, but I doubt
that...) Have you or anyone else at RPGamer ever played it, and if so was
it as good as it sounded? And, finally, If you guys are going to put up
info. about the game, as I'd love to read about it, and I'm sure others
would too. Anyway, keep up the great work, and try not to get sick again!
Allan: Star Ocean was indeed for the Super Famicom, and did indeed
include speech. The last few RPGs for the SFC were really amazing: Tales
of Phantasia included a song as the title theme. With vocals and everything.
On a cartridge. Amazing.
Star Ocean was, from what I've played of it, a really fantastic game,
but incredibly daunting fo someone who doesn't understand Japanese. Many
of its best features are in the mind-bogglingly complex and intricate Skill
and Item Creation features, and I couldn't even begin to make heads or tails
of them. The graphics were good, the music superb, the gameplay good, and
so on. I've never met anyone who played and disliked the game, and know
some who swear by it. We might cover it eventually, but an older RPG that
will never be translated for US release isn't really high on our priorities
list: there's simply more demand for us to cover current and upcoming games,
followed by older RPGs that our readers (and staff) can actually understand.
Q: Everyone wants info on Parasite Eve (the novel) .. Here's a
link to Brain Valley, Hideki Sena's website (in Japanese, of course): http://kadokawa.channel.or.jp/brain/
In addition to novel information, there's also a little bit on the manga
version and the video! Video?? Yep, you heard me right. There are even a
few shots of it on the website. ^_^
Hope that helps everyone!
Allan: I can't read Japanese, but figured I'd post these links
anyway, since others probably can. Thanks for the links, Vera.
Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: Reeve asks why FF5 wasn't released in
the US (probably a lot of reasons, but concerns over it being "too
complex" for US gamers were cited), Kupi wants help with the Lord of
the Rings RPG for SNES (despite its high suck-factor, we'll be covering
it here eventually, but GameFaqs has some help for it here),
DarkNu and lots of others point out that Drain Sword's effectiveness depends
on the max HP of the target, hence the 896 damage against the last boss
in FFTactics (thanks), Mike asks if I have Pokémon yet (I got Blue
today) whether Lunar: EB will come out for PSX (not officially announced
yet, but implied with hydrogen bomb-like subtlety), Chris asks if RPG Maker
is coming out in the US (I've been told that news in that area is "coming
soon"), and The Jargonaut asks where to find FF4 and FF6 soundtracks
(check our Merchandise Links), about a game called Bastard!! Utsuro Naru
Kamigami no Utsawa for PSX (I don't know what it means, but Bastard!! is
a well-known anime series, so a quick trip to the Anime Web Turnpike should help) and what I think of
Sword of Vermillion for Genesis (a classic, but I honestly haven't played
it recently enough to judge fairly).
A more diverse set of letters this time. Longer, too, and a bit more
serious than in the past few days. Hope you enjoyed the slight change of
pace, feel free to send silly letters, and I'll see y'all tomorrow.
- Allan Milligan, giving forth the call: AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!