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Allan Milligan

As I requested, it's a slightly more diverse batch 'o letters today. Still a few "rose-colored glasses" ones, but the most popular topic today was, oddly enough, where the Imps have gone in the FF series. Lots of short answers, but someone went to all the effort of charting Imps throughout the Final Fantasy series, so I'm posting the whole shmear.

Let's get to it, campers.

Everything you wanted to know about Imps

(But were afraid to ask)

Mr.Milligan,

Mr.Stinger was wondering where all the Imps, so bountiful in the first two Final Fantasies seen on this side of the ocean, have gone. I am understanding that what I've given you below is the correct answer, hopefully other RPG playing good-samaritans will tell you the same.

The mystery of the vanishing Imps has alot to do with same translation woes which so plague us today. In the first Final Fantasy game, the Imp was called a Goblin in Japan. Although Goblin does fall within the first Final Fantasy's eight character monster name limit, I think it was changed to Imp because it shared the same amount or space (or less) than "Goblin" does in Japanese. This is really no different than the change from the Japanese "Flare" to "Nuke" in the western version.

Final Fantasy II & III, also have Goblins in them, though most western folks wouldn't know that since II & III were never released here. Final Fantasy IV, released as FFII here (And the source of much confusion because of that name change.) also had Goblins it it. I think the instance of Imp in the North American version here had alot to do with tradition, and a translator who referred to the FF for alot of names. Though I have no foundation for this, the spell Nuke is still in FFIV, even though FFIV's spells have a 5 character limit. Been a while since I've played FFV, but I'm pretty sure it had Goblins in it. Right near the beginning in fact. (Allan's Note: this is correct)

FFVI had two "Imps" in it. The instructional Kappa & that damned Imp Robot you couldn't buy. The Imps in FFVI looked nothing like the imps in the previous five games. Also, because of the name "Kappa" alot of crap got stirred up about the origin of the Imp name, since in Japanese mythology there are little demon guys called Kappas, who wear hats that contain water, and if they lose that water they die. (Or something to that effect, but I'm not an expert on Japanese mythology, either. :P ) Although this really has nothing to do with the whereabouts of the Imp today, it's more of an interesting footnote in the history of the Final Fantasy Imp.

In Final Fantasy VII, the Imp is still around, finally translated as "Goblin" for the western audience for the first time. Gobins in FFVII, as we all know, are the things you steal the Nut that gets you a Gold Chocobo and get you the monster skill Goblin Punch.

Although I know nothing about FFVIII's enemy population yet, there'll probably be Imps in it as well. Imps are even more consistant in FF games than Cid, Chocoboes & Moogles. And you'll probably be able to kill them in one attack too. Imps have always been notoriously weak. This long winded speach, just for Imps no less, should probably more-than-answer what Mr.Stinger wanted to know.

Respectfully, Jeremy Baker

Allan: I think that about covers it. You're a frightening and dedicated man, Jeremy.

Basting the sacred cow

(Spoilers for FF5... sort of...)

I think I can give a reason why FFV was never released in the US and why it *won't* be released: Frankly, it's the worst Final Fantasy out. Before I get massivly flamed, let me explain. First of all, there is little or no character development. Each of the 4 main characters remains completely static throughout the entire game. There are no life affirming transformations, no redemptions, no metamorphoses. Then there is the plot, which is already tired and overused...in the *first hour* of the game. Then the rest of the game is spent doing stuff that has already been done--First you go try to save a crystal. Then you go try to save another crystal. Then you go try to save *another* crystal. Then, just to top it all off...you go to try to save another crystal. Then you go to a different world......and try to save crystals there.

Side quests are repeats of themselves as well. The enemies are laughably easy. I did not die once during the game, and by the time I fought the last boss, my HP's were well over 8000, at lv 48 or so(and at no point did I stop to build levels). The last boss never once took my HP's below 6000. The one thing the game has going for it is the job system...but even that ends up taking away from the game. Once a job is mastered, all the jobs abilities are transferred permanently onto your basic character. By the time you reach the end of the game, you can have most of the jobs mastered, giving you a character with high magic abilities, high attack, high defense, capable of holding two swords, an astronomic evasion rate...you get the picture. There's no way you can lose. Plus the job system ends up taking away from the characters individuality. Each character can use all the same weapons, can use all the same spells, and has no abilities particular to that character. When you lose one of the characters about 3/4ths of the way through the game, the character is replaced by a completely identical character. There was no point to even including it in the plot. It's like having 4 clones in battle. There are no real graphic improvements from FF4j, except for maybe rendered airship scenes, ala FF6.

To sum up, the reason Square isn't releasing FFV, and probably won't is there really isn't a point to do it. Most of the people who clamor for it's release don't realize what a terrible game it is, and may become completely turned off to Square by it. Square is keeping the game away from American audiences, and rightly so, to avoid losing all the people who are expecting another FF6, or even a FF7. Bluntly, we aren't missing anything. Any feelings on this on this? Etiam, delenda est Carthago.

--Caine, the Human Lemur.

Allan: Well, I'm sure we're going to see heavy-duty response to this, so I'll just keep my mouth shut for now, and batter down the hatches for nuclear winter...

Spelling rules and homely RPG girls

First off I just have to say this to all of you out there who I disagree with on spelling terms. My point is that if you aren't English you shouldn't be spelling things like "rose colored glasses" as "rose coloured glasses". The same goes with gray. It's spelled G-R-A-Y not G-R-E-Y unless you happen to be English in which case, to hell with the rules.

Now in response to the question of finding a female RPG character who isn't beautiful I can name a couple... maybe. Lucca from Chrono Trigger (she always looked like one of those dwarves from FF2 (US Version) with purple goo poured on her head), and then, of course, the sprite from Secret of Mana. And that sprite is female. As I see it a sprite is a pixie, a pixie is a fairy, and a fairy can only be female or neuter. As such the sprite is the ugliest female character in an RPG. Its been a long time since I've played Secret of Mana, but I vaguely recall seeing the sprite be referred to as "she" or "that little guy" obviously everyone was confused by the sprite.

- Jonathan

Allan: As I've said before, and been flamed for, I'm Canadian. Canadians are taught from the cradle to use the Metric System and British spelling rules. Colour vs. color, metre vs. meter, and so forth. So am I correct in spelling them this way? Yes and no. Yes, as a Canadian, that's what I've been taught to do all my life, and it's quite correct hereabouts. No, in that RPGamer is an American site, and uses American spelling conventions, which I should abide by. So I goofed, but it's not a spelling error as much as a localization problem.

Secondly, everyone and their kid sister mentioned Lucca as the "not gorgeous" RPG woman. Other popular choices included half the cast of Suikoden (including some nasty comments about poor Gremio), Faris from FF5, Porom from FF4, and Charlotte in SD3 (my nominee for most annoying, but incredibly useful character in RPG history). By and large, I still don't consider that much of a trend, but I'll concede that there's precedent for having less-than-gorgeous women in RPGs.

Parasite Eve explained

I personally belive parasite eve could have had a better story if they had explained more about the thories of Endosymbiosis(that tiny cells called prokaryotic cells were swallowed up by larger cells, but were never digested. The prokaryotic "trespassers" remained inside the larger cells, gradually losing their ability to live independantly, The two cells formed a partnership-the trespassers became organelles, thus forming what are known as "eukaryotic cells", which all advanced life are made up of.) Knowing that, you can see what Eve meant.

Also, something that didn't make any sense whatsoever, but hey it's just a game. at one point during the game, an electron Microsope is used to view living cells. 1st, an electron microscope is HUGE compared to what they were using. also, an electron microscope cannot view a living cell. Interesting, no?

- Lando

Allan: I made it nowhere in PE, so the above makes no sense to me, but I figured it might clarify things for people that have played the game. :)

Clarification

You wrote that sometimes game-related snobbery is due to "nostalgia and emotional immediacy from the original playing of it." I believe it is another thing that is pretty much out of our control. When I finished my first serious rpg, FF6, I was moved by the ending. Yes I admit that FF6's ending did not do too much to end the storyline, since it was pretty much finished before the final battle, but the sense of a closing, with the first half of the ending portraying the RPG as a big fat book that you have just finished was really powerful, at least in my mind. (the starting credits with a snow background helped to emphasize the book -like nature as well) It left me in a state of nostalgia for wanting to play the game over and over again.

When I got FF7, I was expecting that same nostalgia and emotional attachment but I didn't get it until near the end of the first disc with you know what. In my opinion, perhaps this *delayed* nostalgia caused me to not like FF7 as I did FF6, for which I have associated the entire game to be nostalgic and emotional. Objectively I realize that this is not true, but the very fact that it was my first game caused me to expect that emotion that I received from FF6's ending to be throughout every other rpg that I played.

Perhaps this is the case with those who exercise the pedestal theory. Those who venerate older games have experienced some "nostalgia and emtional immediacy" and expect it to be in what they deem as a "good rpg," and when they don't get it until well into the game, they tend to dislike it.

Now for the case where some love newer games; this could be caused by two things: 1) They were not serious about older games or 2) The nostalgia and emotion that they felt playing newer games could have been so strong and overwhelming that it overshadowed that of the older games.

What do you think, Allan?

--David Liu

Allan: I was actually trying to put this idea across yesterday, but David said it much better than I did, so this letter went up. And, your two ideas do sound reasonable. I really don't have much to add, other than that I agree with you. :)

Squall

Alright guru, you seem to be pretty cool, Think you can handle my questions?

1. Is square in a slump? I hated Parasite Eve. It just wasn't as good as I thought. I expected more from square. Also, I didn't think the Demo of Xenogears was that good. And Stuff I've read about Bushido Blade 2 Doesn't sound good. What's up?

2. ok, so this chocobo walks into this bar and he goes EY!

3. I saw the letter about how Squall was a stupid name, But actually A Squall is another name for a big Storm.

Anyways So that's it. Answers?

Allan: 1) I think this is conclusive proof that you don't like Parasite Eve or the Xenogears demo. Sales and press response to Square both remain pretty damned lofty. Someone out there's buying and enjoying their games, in mass quantities, so no, I don't think that qualifies as a slump.

2) Next.

3) Yes it is. Now, ask yourself this: what kind of sadist would name their kid after a big storm? It's a horrible name. It's like naming a character "Envelope" or "Drapes," except it doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well. I don't expect names in fantasy games to be totally realistic, but they should at least sound kinda cool, like Crono. Squall, as many have said, sounds like you're choking a baby to death or something. Bad, bad name.

The little things that matter

Hey RPGuru!

I was wondering, does anyone else have the XO problem when playing RPGs? What I'm saying is, does it piss anyone else off that X means cancel on some games and accept on others (the same applies to O).

The two examples that stick out immediately in my mind are Parasite Eve and Final Fantasy Tactics. Sometimes when I'm playing these two games, I'll switch around. And it always messes me up because O for Tactics is accept while O for Parasite Eve is cancel. Can't the freaking game designers make up their minds already? I mean, these are even two games are even made by the SAME COMPANY! Can't all companies decide on which button is which and leave us already poor confused RPG players be?

I'll get off my soapbox now.

-- Banpei, the High Priest of Belldandy

Allan: I just did exactly this (switching between PE and FFT) and man, it really does get annoying. Bad Dudes on the NES had the same problem: it had B as jump and A as attack, in direct defiance of long-standing action game control tradition. Very annoying. I do wish that control schemes for RPGs would be standardized, too, but I fear that's a pipe dream...

Quick 'n Dirty Tidbits: Doc Thompson asks why RPGs seem to be getting more "mature" these days: more swearing, nudity, etc. (by and large, censorship of games is vastly less than it was even five years ago, which helps; also, there's been swearing in RPGs for ages, it's just been cut out for the US release until recently), Ryan asks why RPGs heroes all have funky hair (they share the same, totally insane, hairdresser), Antman wants help with Crystalis (check out a FAQ here) and what the 64DD (a much-delayed add-on to the N64, using special disks to allow for bigger games with more rewritable space on them), Akira82 wants to know why we don't have any info up about Brave Fencer Mushashi (er... check the BFM section, under Upcoming Games), SquareMan wonders if he should pick up a PSX, or wait until the possibly-backwards-compatible PSX2 comes out (just buy a PSX now - we don't have a confirmed release date for PSX2 yet, much less a recommendation), Unright warned me away from Azure Dreams, Josh wonders what happened to the Lodoss RPG info I promised (I wasn't sent any, 'm afraid), and another Josh asks how you pronounce RPGamer (arr-pee-gamer or arr-pee-gee-gamer, whichever floats your boat).

I see angry letters in my future, all with "FF5" in the Subject. Oh joy. Twenty bucks says that at least four people flame me for bashing FF5, even though I've actually done nothing of the sort...

- Allan Milligan, working hard

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