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Allan Milligan

It's been a whacked couple of days, kiddies. Interesting times in the Chinese proverb sense, which has made my life both amusing and incredibly busy. So here I found myself with a column to write, Big Issues to sort out, and not enough time to do 'em. What's a Guru to do?

Luckily, in addition to being charming and omniscient, I am also blessed with some very helpful friends, one of whom was kind enough to help answer tonight's batch 'o questions. He's been around the RPGamer circuit for a looooong time now, in one role or another, and he's offered to help me out tonight. We'll call him by his stage name, Rosebud the Righteous Reindeer Wrestler. Only the best of the best help the RPGuru, boys and girls. :)

And now, with my faithful companion Rosebud in tow, we delve into the land 'o letters...

Zeromus Wars, Strike One

Oh awesome and mighty and *maybe* better than I am RPGuru: As to Zeromus in Final Fantasy IV (Yes, I will refer to it as that), I won't Disagree with you, but Rationalize in some obscure way that no-one will understand. Kain was really being controlled by Golbez, the Villain for the Greater Part of the Game, but then, inside the Lunar Temple (I forgot the exact name, but the dungeon below it is Lunar Subterrain, a sign they ran out of letters or their [Square's] translators dropped their English-Japanese dictionaries in the sink) that Golbez is actually being controlled by Zeromus, an evil Lunarian. You see, if Square had been able to, they probably would have explained Zeromus further... Why, you may ask? Here's my guess. The game was made in 1991, the dawn of the SNES, and Final Fantasy IV was the first RPG on the SFC or SNES, take your pick. NONE of the games back then were even 10 megs. The technology to store memory in the cartridges only allowed a certain amount of information to be packed into a Game Pak. It simply wasn't possib

- Evan

Rosebud: And so this letter writer was cut off mid-sentence. This explanation makes even more sense when one takes into account the original Japanese game had an area called the "Grassy Knoll" behind the town of Baron. While dummied out of the U.S. version, entering and exiting the same door in the Tower of Bab-il 255 times will bring you there! And the IMDB says Oliver Stone just signed as the director of the Final Fantasy Movie ... hmm

Allan: And don't even try to deny the connection between cartridge memory limits and the Bay of Pigs. We know about it all.

Song Lyrics Suck

Greeting Lord Allan,

I read your wonderous column everyday, and have yet to write in, but today I saw something that both shocked and dismayed me. A complaint about the American opening to Lunar: SSS! (No! This cannot be!) I'd just like to say that I personally thought the singer did a wonderful job and if possible it was an improvement over the japanese version. Also, the letter I'm talking about mentioned that the lyrics didn't make sense. Uhhhmmm... Did you know that *no* japanese songs make sense? Seriously, the translated lyrics to 'Tsubasa' (The japanese version) are here: http://tonic.physics.sunysb.edu/~ming/lyrics/lunar-op.html and they don't make any more sense than our version does, so y'know, who cares, it's still a pretty song. =)

-Masamune

P.S. A real villain?? Bowser, dude! No one is as evil as him, always kidnapping the princess and taking over the mushroom kingdom. What do one dimensional villains like Kefka and Sephiroth have on the multi-faceted, tragic villain that King Koopa is? =)

Rosebud: The lyrics to most American songs nowadays are gibberish, too. Count your blessings, folks: at least Lunar:SSS is coming to a viable format here in the states. And King Koopa received more development in Super Mario RPG than 90% of all RPG villains. I mean, he just wants his castle back, you know?

Allan: Nonsensical lyrics to songs are a worldwide phenomenon. I mean, contrary to popular belief, the Canadian definition of "ironic" is not different from the rest of the world's. Despite what Alanis seems to think. Not that this annoys me at all.

Zeromus Wars, Strike Two

Look you stupid bastard, NOBODY disses Zeromus and gets away with it! As for your little theory that he had no backstory and no development, just replay the ending to FFIV. You find out that Zeromus is really the by-product of Zemus, and then initially Zeromus is a large blob of fur, much like FuSoYa when he dies. This leads to either one of two theories:

1. He was a former Lunarian in a former lifetime

2. He was a former Muppet at Jim Henson's place.

Of course the evidence to support this is sketchy at best, but you know that no self-respecting video game company would simply throw in a huge last boss at the last minute simply because it looks like the biggest, nastiest thing in the entire game?

And what about his inner struggles? You can just feel his pain when he screams "GRRRUUUUUU." Obviously, you've overlooked one of the most important aspects of this character in order to satisfy your own selfish needs and desires.

-Anony-mouse, acquaintance of Zero-mouse.

Rosebud: GRUUUUUUU! You're right!

Length = Quality?

You know what I hate? All those games that come out now with an emphasis on graphics and not on length, or playability. I can't shake that nagging feeling that the N64 would have about a dozen RPGs right now; if people just made them look like Orge battle 3 or Kartia; and not try to make them look like Zelda 5. My land. And these new games are pretty... SHORT!! I spent more time in FF6 than in FF7; I spent more time in Earthbound (That game kicks butt!) then Parasite Eve. Let's face it. The new "style" of polygon based, fmv RPGs sucks. I have seen pictures of Dragon Quest 7 and I must say. I'll buy it. It's the type of RPG I like. The old style games. Right now I'm playing "Pokémon"; and I must say. Even that game is longer then FF7. (Must be why it sold more..) That's sad. I hope that Square doesn't end up making FF8 incredibly short. I mean, it would be awful to buy FF8 and then beat it in about 12 hours. (Not counting going back to find secrets; even though Square hasn't been very good at hiding secrets lately.) The purpose of a game is to provide fun and length adds to that fun. I don't like the fact that Metal Gear Solid will take a good player only about 8 hours to beat. That leaves very little challenge for me. (Looks up at Video Game Tourney trophy wall.) Where's the challenge in today's RPGs and games? I'm the guy who got a perfect game in the original Legend of Zelda and every subsequent game (Excluding Adventure of Link. Died 15 times.) I'm the guy who got the best endings in all three Metroid games, completely finished Wario Land 2, Crash Bandicoot, and several other games. (Ahh. The original Street Fighter 2, Final Fantasy Legend.. those were the days.) Where do these new style games leave me? I don't care whether or not the game has "150,000,000 polgons on-screen" or whatever. Just give me an RPG that is LONG and challenging!

- Philip Wesley

Rosebud: This doesn't make any sense. When you're choosing a movie to see, do you look at comparative charts of running times? ("Oh, look, Armageddon 2 is three hours and twenty-five minutes! Let's see it instead of the Final Fantasy Movie which, being animated, is only an hour and a half!") When you're choosing a book to read, do you take along a bathroom scale with which to measure the literary merit of a volume? Which you're having trouble selecting a meal from a menu, do you ask the waiter, "Which meal, pound for pound, is the largest?" OF COURSE NOT! You choose the best movie, you read the best books, you order the best meal. So why should an RPG be any different?

Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of the shortest RPGs of recent memory - only 20 hours to find and complete everything. Every minute of those hours, however, was magical. The world had been created with such care and detail that, when the game was over, I was satisfied. I had completed a masterpiece, and every aspect of the game had bled quality all over the screen. Beyond the Beyond may take longer to complete, but its fun factor lies somewhere between rectal probe and root canal.

Before I donate 20, 40, or 60 hours of my life to a game, I have one question, and that is, "Is it any good?" Not, "How long is it?" You should ask the same.

Allan: Testify, brother Rosebud! Testify!

Zeromus Wars, Strike Three and Out

Zeromus was one of the coolest evil characters in any game I have ever played! I can't believe you dared to degrade him in front of all the gaming world!! I will admit that Kefka and Sephirioth had much more character development during their games, but I still think Zeromus kicked ass! The fact that you never saw him till the end of the game made him mysterious and kind of scary! You would hear people talk about him all through the game and how evil he was, but yet you never got to see him until the end. He was probably the most anticipated boss character in any game I have ever played. Of course we all know that the true villan (although he did turn to good in the end) was Golbez. I'm actually glad that he was not the final boss.

-Gold Chocobo

Rosebud: When I played FFII, I thought that Zeromus was one of the coolest characters I had ever seen. Of course, I was twelve at the time. NO ONE is talking about him throughout the game, unless of course you're playing the secret version of Final Fantasy II (Now with Character Development! (tm) ) that we've heard rumors about. They talk about Zemus - barely. Zeromus is mentioned for the first time about three minutes INTO the final battle. Where's the fun in that? A good villain should be someone you love to hate - who is interesting and well-developed and with a decent backstory and well-thought out motivation. Zeromus materializes, goes "Argh I'm the ultimate evil argh," is evil because he's evil, duh, and disappears as soon as he vanishes. Masterpiece Theatre this ain't.

Allan: And here ends the Zeromus Wars. Final post count: 8 supporting Zeromus as a good villain, 23 saying he was lame. The people have spoken. Just being The Hatred isn't good enough, I guess. Any further commentary on this subject can be taken to the message boards, Editorials (in theory), or saved until I'm not sick of this subject anymore. ;)

A Bridge Too Far

Dear RPGuru,

I know I read this on an unofficial Square website before(but I can't remember the author's name for the life of me), so if the author is reading this, I commend you for your higher thought. The most important element for a RPG is a good bridge. Literally, a bridge. All the best RPG's have them. Remember Final Fantasy I? That was a nice serene bridge, especially with the four light warrior gazing into the sunset, with the classic final fantasy theme music ushering in the new era of RPG's. Final Fantasy IV had the bridge of Baron Castle with the outlying forest and crystal clear moat with the same genre-defining score of Final Fantasy I being played. Chrono Trigger had that nice bridge in 600 AD. It looks very similar to the one in the FFVIII demo. A definite sign of excellence. And we all know of the famous Brooklyn Bridge in Parasite Eve. Now there are some RPG's that don't have bridges(or really cruddy ones). Persona - not a bridge in sight. Wild Arms had some on the world map that looked like kitchen tiles. However, Suikoden had many bridges! Well-fortified too. That game is seriously underrated.(I'll save that for the editorial) With respect to >bridges, FFVII is a controversy. Sure, there was that nice rendered rope bridge in Corel, but does it possess the majesty of the other famous RPG bridges? And what about the highway in Midgar? It is a bridge in that it provides a path over an unpenetrable area(well if you wanna go fast anyway), but it's not water. Not mention that it really doesn't look that great. This game is just too controversial.

Sincerely, Valinoru

Rosebud: The amazing part is that my friend and I posited this shortly before the release of Final Fantasy III U.S. We saw the bridge in FFI, in FFII, and a screen shot of the bridge from FFIII in an issue of EGM. Clearly this improvement in bridges could only mean good things for the genre. Can anyone provide a decent counterexample?

The RPG Industry Lives!

Shazam!

This letter is in response to the letters claiming that "the RPG industry is going to Hell in a handbasket". Quite frankly, I think something may be going awry in the RPG industry. But you know what? I don't care. Let's face it, not a single dedicated RPGamer out there would trade the current RPG market for a different one. It's just like Americans and the American government. Sure, there's a lot of complaining going on about this bureaucratic bungle or that federal foul-up... but would any of us really change it? I'm all 'bout some governmental criticism. Hell, it beats lighting my farts, but I know where to draw the line an take life seriously. The same should be applied to the current RPG industry. At least we can call it an "industry" now, those of you out there who can recall the 80's know what I'm talking about.

Flunking social sciences in the name of randomness,

- The Maestro

Allan: This is an important thing to remember. Just for future reference, if I ever say that the RPG industry's going to hell in a handbasket, I'm probably not being serious. Things are very good for the RPG market nowadays. There's always room for improvement, of course, but "not perfect" and "hell" are a good piece apart. Thanks for the perspective Maestro, and good luck with the social sciences.

Q&A

One thing I'm wondering, what was the first Final Fantasy game that Kefka's fans played? I'm a Kefka supporter, and FF6 was the first FF I played. Anyway...

1) Can Mega Man Legends be considered an action RPG? It sure seems like one

2) Tales of Phantasia (from what I hear) is considered to have some of the best graphics for a SNES game ever, why are people putting down Tales of Destiny?

3) Any real differences between those games mentioned in question 2 (Battle System, Digitized voices, etc.)?

4) Will every aspect of FF8 be spoiled before it's release?

5) Am I asking too many questions? Sorry...

6)Chrono Trigger may have been a great game, but what about the HUGE plot holes? How did Frog get the Masamune fixed? Who saved Melchior from the Mountain of Woe? How did Ayla beat the Black Tyrano? HOW?

That's enough for now... Thanks to thee honorable Guru of the RPG

- The Hyphenator (A rejected Batman Villain)

Rosebud: Well my Wiccan friend, let me enlighten you:

1) Sure, if that floats your boat. You can also consider anything not pencil-and-paper a blasphemy of the RPG acronym. In today's genre-melding environment, even a game like Hexen is advertised as an "RPG" simply because your character has statistics. So.

2) Well, see Tales of Phantasia is for the *Super Nintendo* while Tales of Destiny is for the *Playstation*. Systems evolve, and most people feel games should along with 'em.

3) Tales of Destiny does have better graphics, sound, and voices than its SNES prequel. But not as good as many PSX games.

4) No. For example, no one has yet brought up Zell's tragic sacrifice for the party in the Pulping Gears of Pain room on the 7th disc yet. Oh, crap. Never mind, every aspect will be spoiled.

5) Yes! Leave me alone!

6) If you're wondering how they eat and breate /and other science facts / repeat to yourself "it's just a game / I should really just relax"

Beating on Benedict Arnold

Mr. Guru,

Don't you think that there ought to be an historical RPG or strategy RPG? Aside from Romance of Three Kingdoms and maybe the Square game about Tom Sawyer, there is an astonishing void of such games. Maybe there should be an American Revolution, WWI, or Napoleonic Vandal Hearts-type game or some other non-medieval RPG. I personally would love that (or maybe even a crossover - you could take Dwight Eisenhower back in time to kick the crap out of Benedict Arnold or have the lords of the warring Genji and Heike clans gang up on Hannibal). I guess that was a run-on sentence, but you get the picture.

Colin

Rosebud: No, all RPGs should be either fantasy or sci-fi. Actually, they should only be fantasy. Only *medieval* fantasy too - none of this Pern fantasy or Tolkein fantasy or any other stuff. All other settings for RPGs are doomed to failure.

Allan: *ahem* Getting a bit more serious for a moment, the problem with doing historically-based fiction (games, books, TV series or movies, or what have you) is that these are real people and real situations you're dramatizing. Accuracy is important, and it's usually more trouble than it's worth to research a place and time extensively enough, just so you can ignore "real" history and make a game out of it. Why not just start from scratch to begin with, and let the creative juices flow freely?

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: Kanash gives us an address for the translated lyrics to Pure Again from BoF3 (thanks!), sixty million people asked for information about Chrono Trigger 2 (what, you think we hide this stuff or something? We'll post some if we get some.), MikeG13z asks why Pokémon Blue is outselling P-Red (I haven't the faintest idea), Sammy asks if people would be interested in synopses of the not-going-to-be-translated Shining Force 3 scenarios II and III (I certainly would - if anyone's up for it, write it up and submit), and Coldfire wonders if I'll keep on quoting certain characters in this column (you bet your sweet bippy I will).

Thanks go out to Rosebud the Righteous Reindeer Wrestler for all his help on tonight's column. And yes, I'll be back and on my own again tomorrow (*applause*), followed by the early, extra-special Friday update. Special how, you ask? Wait and see, he said slyly.

- Allan Milligan

"No, ze worst is that you are stupid and ugly, and zat you have body odour zat can slay ze unwary!"

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