on the Site
Xenogears and Tales of Destiny
I triple dog dare you to send a letter to
It's been a week of firsts. I composed my first column
yesterday, and about twenty minutes afterward, I received my
first letter. I also won my first game of Madden '99 against
Zeke--sweet retribution for the Chu-Chu incident. So far all
of these firsts have been enjoyable--unlike the first and
simultaneously last time I played Deadly Arts (A gaming
experience, by the way, that was as painful as swigging
battery acid)--and I pray they stay that way.
As of 2 p.m. EST today, my mailbox sported 51 messages,
two death threats, a marriage proposal, and one proposal to
marry death. Not the avalanche I was praying for/dreading,
but definitely a great start. I suppose some of you are
still skulking in cyberspace, unsure of the new guy, waiting
until I exhibit my mettle. You won't be disappointed.
The letters were wonderful, to say the least. I thank
everyone who sent letters of congratulations or
encouragement--especially the emails from those who also
applied for this position. Your positive feedback buoys me.
I also appreciate any and all criticism, as long as it's
constructive. Nobody's perfect, especially me, and your
comments can help me improve as a columnist, which in turn
will augment your enjoyment of my writing. We have a
symbiotic relationship--you pat my back, I pat yours.
I'd like to offer a suggestion pertaining to your
letters. These isn't a rule, but just advice
you can write by. In other words, if you follow this
proposition you will increase your chances of
entering this publication, but if you ignore this
recommendation you will increase your chances of
entering my trash bin: No profanity, please. Profanity no
longer adds color nor emphasis to writing, and it offends
people. I can't abide filthy writing.
It would be neat if you included whereabouts you live,
whether it be Japan, Idaho, or Mars. I think readers would
like to see the myriad of cultures represented on these
pages. Believe it or not, but a fellow Virginia Tech student
sent me a response last night. Small world.
I wish I could publish all your letters, really I do, but
it's just physically impossible. I do have to eat and sleep
occasionally. If you don't see your work below, it isn't
because your letter was any worse than the others. Sometimes
I will hold off a letter and answer it later, especially if
it addresses an issue I need to spend more time ruminating
upon. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
I've been told to come up with a new name--I forgot that
AK and the others weren't called RPGuru. Any
Well, what are we waiting for?! Let's answer some
-Wait. I must ask you a question first. Why am I fighting
a PLACENTA in Tales of Destiny? Why oh why?
And the "First RPGnameless (?)
Letter" award goes to . . .
Hey, congratulations on being the Chosen One. I also
thought I'd mention that I agree with you about Chu-chu. If
you're going to name anything in that game after a friend, I
recommend renaming Weltall, Brigandier, or in the case of a
girlfriend Vierge. That is an honor. Who wouldn't want to be
a kick-butt giant robot!! Just my two cents.
Joshua: Congratulations yourself Tolmek! You are
the winner of the "First RPGnameless Letter" award!
*applause* Tell your mom, your girlfriend, your dog! Shout
it out on the rooftops! Let the moon know! This is an honor.
Stand proudly, my friend.
I thank you and your fellow Chu-Chu sympathizers who
realize how traumatic it is to find a pink rabbit flaunting
your name. I did not know, however, that you could change
the mechs' names. Are you sure about that? Am I already an
Your comments have inspired me to discourse on the
psychology of RPG character naming. I employ the word
"psychology" because it is a great buzz word you can
associate with just about anything nowadays to add import to
any mundane topic. The psychology of brushing teeth. The
psychology of snapping fingers. You can also add "ology" to
make anything you care about a veritable science. RPGology.
Bookology. Kissology. Next time you mother screams, "Jane!
John! Off that infernal video game and scrub the bathtub
with a toothbrush!" you can counter with, "But Mother, I am
currently engaged in an in-depth analysis of the psychology
of RPGology, pertaining to the engendering of violence and
damaging gender stereotypes." See what she says
If you name characters like my friends and I do, then you
start to develop trends that span across every new RPG.
Take me for example: The main character, if a guy, is
always "Ralec" (a character in a book I started writing but
fizzled out a long time ago), the main female character is
"Lynn," and the rest are usually friends, family or
characters I like out of novels and legends (I particularly
like Sir Gareth). One time, because I didn't have anything
better to do with all of FFVI's characters, I named them all
after people appearing in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
series. Locke was Mat, Shadow was Lan, etc.
Zeke, who I have mentioned way too many times in this
column, likes to put my name into his RPGs. I wish he would
stop--the other day I discovered I'm a pumpkin-head in
Naming characters is fun, and adds flavor to the RPG
experience. I have a suggestion to make for future RPG
developers--let us name the enemies. Wouldn't that be
*Disclaimer: RPGamer does not assume any
responsibility whatsoever for any negative ramifications
caused by following RPGnameless advice.
Ahhh . . .
I was wondering what you could tell me about some old
RPGs. I came across an old game called Dragon Slayer IV for
the NES. It was vaguely familiar, but I don't remember that
there were three before it. Also, I came across the Ys
games, one called Ys Ancient Lost Omen, and the other called
Ys Ancient The Final Chapter. Is there another series of Ys
games called Ys Ancient? Also, any info on Faxanadu would be
much appreciated. Oh, and since your taking marriage
proposals, how about marrying my sister? It would be so cool
to be related to the RPGuru.
Joshua: Thanks for the dose of nostalgia, Arpad.
Wow, has it been a long time since I've heard about, seen,
or played those games.
Dragon Slayer IV? Do you mean "Dragon Quest IV?" Dragon
Quest was a great Enix series that saw some action on the
NES and SNES. You may have seen the U.S. incarnation of this
series--Dragon Warrior (I'm not sure what was wrong with
Dragon Quest as a title). That was one of my first RPGs.
Wow. Remember the battle text scroll describing every hit?
Dragon Warrior was one of the first games I played that
would change a creature's color and pretend the animal was
I'm not too familiar with the Ys series, to tell the
truth (I think the name scared me), but I only know of one
Ys quintology (a series of five, not to confused with the
study of five). You know, we have a dandy page
on this site that can give you lots of information about
Faxanadu was a crazy game that had a lot of trees in it
and upright cows, if I remember correctly. I had a
monomaniacal friend, Mike Wagner, who would go in and out of
the same room for two straight hours and kill the same guy
just so he could level up to God mode. God mode was when you
were so powerful that no one could kill you, or even touch
you. Recent incarnations of the Mike's God mode was
Alucard's two second (literally) slaying of Dracula in SOTN
while only losing eight hit points, and his toasting of
Emerald Weapon with something like 8 quad magics, 10
Ultimas, MP absorb, Mime and who knows what else.
If you are collecting old RPG/action titles on the NES,
allow me to also recommend Crystalis, because it rocks, and
Ultima Exodus, because you can kill townspeople.
Arpad, do you really have the audacity to offer your own
sister up for marriage without her consent? I would never
consider such an offer. How old is she?
The Act of
Congratulations on your new position.
After reading a little about yourself I noticed you said
you were developing an RPG with a childhood friend. More
power to you! I myself and a collection of other people are
striving for the same endeavor. Besides the ability to
construct and say "I can," it is also the business or
professional approach my friends and I are trying to prove;
that we can come together and make something we all believe
in. It's a great feeling but not without its pains and
tribulations. We're a bunch of people who try (not very
well) to balance free time, school and work with our goal.
The possibility is slim, but we're still gonna see if we can
do it. We've given up and started again many times and after
countless fights, each new day brings a bit of hope. For
some it's a challenge, others merely something fun to do, or
an awakening call. For me, it's a large part of my life.
Just wondering how it is on your side.
Stefan Di Iorio
Joshua: It's inspiring to see more RPG players
aspire to be RPG designers. The best writers are avid
readers, and I think a good RPG can only be designed by a
rabid RPG player. Stefan, your words mirror my experiences
precisely. Keep working at it, no matter what roadblocks
life flings in your path. Only hard work reaps worthwhile
rewards. Creation is always harder, thus more rewarding,
than any other act. Shakespeare writes, "All things are
ready, if our minds be so." Keep determined. Captain Tylor,
the star of one of my favorite anime series, also says that
if you give your greatest effort, the rest will take care of
itself. Success stories like Id and Myst prop up everywhere,
and their accomplishments were made only by incessant work
I'd check out "Game Developer's Marketplace," a book by
Ben Sawyer, if you haven't already. You can find it on
Amazon.com. It has great
advice for people new to the game development industry. Also
surf out www.gamasutra.com.
It's good to see a new RPGuru alive and well. I'll
get to my question. I recently bought Xenogears (a
very excellent game) and I have still yet been able to
understand what takes over the ship in the intro
movie. Do you have a theory or idea? I am
usually able to follow most RPG story lines, but Xenogears
is pretty deep. Anyway, enough of my rambling.
Joshua: You think you are rambling? I'd like more
of these kind of ramblings. Judicator, I'm going to assume
you haven't reached the second disc yet, because during the
last CD you should have been given a rather blatant
explanation about the weird force spooking the ship. If you
have beaten the game, and still don't know what it is, let
Many people have asked me what I think of the game. There
will be an in-depth review popping up on this site any day
now (right guys?). But as for me, I'm not comfortable diving
too far into the game and passing absolute judgment because
I haven't beaten it yet. You see, before I got this
position, I let a friend borrow Xenogears before I tried it
(I was busy with Tales of Destiny), and he just recently
gave it back. Lame excuse huh? But from what I've watched
and played thus far, I must say that the anime scenes are
gorgeous (the voice acting is somewhere in-between Resident
Evil and El-Hazard--not bad, but not great), and the music
and graphic style (polygonal juxtaposed with 2-D sprites)
create an engaging visceral experience. I can't get enough
of the human combat--and the mechs (gears) are super
additions. The first disc is grade-A storytelling, but I
think the second disc suffers from FFVIIitis. Much like
FFVII's third CD, Xenogears last section is either a poorly
disguised rush job or a botched attempt at alternative
storytelling. Games must be interactive, and even a
Literature major like myself gets bored scrolling trough
miles of text. Xenogears also takes the "I'm a badguy, but
important to the story line so I'm going to run away again
and again and again" style waaaay too far. I don't think
I've killed a pivotal villain yet.
Essentially, I think Square did an admirable job, but a
couple annoying tidbits really damaged the overall enjoyment
of this game. Should you buy it? It's definately long, and
fun, but it also has zilch for replay value. Your
Before we get on to any RPG talk, I'm sure all of us
loyal RPGamer fans would like to know a little bit about our
new RPGuru. So here are a few questions that will give
us some info. 1. What is your favorite Final Fantasy?
2. What is your favorite non-Final Fantasy RPG?
3. What do you think of the RPG industry in its
current state? 4. What do you feel is the most
important part of an RPG? 5. Are there any other
genres of games that you like? 6. What kind of music
do you like? 7. What is your favorite book and movie?
Thanks for answering these, best of luck to you in
your new position as RPGuru.
Joshua: Aw shucks, you want to know more? I'm
afraid if I reveal too much about myself, the mystique
shrouding this position will dissipate like exhaust smoke,
and you'll realize I'm just another human being, with all
the same trappings. Ah well, it can't be helped.
1. Final Fantasy IV, no question. I'm a sucker for
relationships, and the Rosa/Cecil one still gives me a misty
eye. Maybe I'm using "rose colored glasses," but I just
can't fault that game too much. Great story, wonderful
characters, good music--I can't compliment Square enough for
this masterpiece. You have to love a game that has a final
boss who flashes, rumbles, and heaves a primal scream for
eight dialogue boxes when it dies.
2. Huh. How about the Lufia series. More great
relationships and snappy dialogue.
3. Without taking too much time to answer this one--I
could write an entire treatise on it--I'll just say I'm kind
of frightened. I see character, gameplay, and story taking a
back seat to graphics and mighty FMV. I see shorter games
with linear plots that play more like interactive movies. I
see more and more Japanese imports. I see the lines dividing
action and RPGs blurring, if they even exist anymore. I see
more focus on surface than depth, gimmicks than subtleties.
I also see games desperately holding onto tradition, and
ignoring the direction the industry is moving. I'd like to
see a complete synthesis between old and new, but so far
that hasn't happened, in my humble opinion.
4. Every part. If one is lacking, the experience suffers
as a whole.
5. Every genre, excepting the one Spice Girls gets placed
6. Every kind of music minus Country and Rap. I love Pink
7. Movies: Dead Poets' Society, Star Wars Trilogy, Saving
Private Ryan, Shindler's List, Clueless (Alicia Silverstone!
:), Ninja Scroll, Seven Samurai, Red Beard, etc. Books: Moby
Dick, Walden, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Confederacy of
Dunces, LOTR, etc.
David Jaggie wanted to know what my least favorite
character was, and I'd have to say, off the top of my head,
excluding the obvious Chu-Chu, it would have to be . . .
Realm. The only thing she's good for is crashing your game.
I used to put her in my party after one of those enraging
glitches and beat on her with Cyan's Skyrender.
Doug Lee asked me (Doug Lee asked me . . . check out the
rhyming skills) about some of my favorite RPG memories.
Here's one: Locke telling Celes that she looks great in her
opera dress. The blush was a fabulous touch. Here is a
Magiteck Knight who is beginning to tap into her sensitive
side and confronting emotions she never knew she possessed.
The entire opera scene was gorgeous. Here's another
unforgettable memory: Turning off Saga Frontier for the last
time. No offense to you Saga Frontier lovers, but it just
isn't my cup of tea, you see.
Akira something-or-other sent a soul-dredging
query--whether I preferred Internet Explorer or Netscape.
Netscape, of course.
Ah, welcome new RPGroovu!
I may as well ask a few questions while I'm still alive
here (haven't had caffeine for over six days now).
1. About two weeks ago RPG-Net fell off the Internet
ladder. Do you have any comments on this situation? Do you
think RPGamer will become THE choice pick for RPG sites now
that they are out of the competition?
2. How much faith do you have put in for the new
Lunar:SSS Complete? I talked to one of my friends who has
the Sega version, and he told me how much that version
sucked. He said the story was good, but the rest of it
just....sucked. I've read every bit of information you guys
have on the new PlayStation version and I've even downloaded
quite a few movies on it, and from what I see, I'm buying it
the day it comes out. I can already tell it will be worth
the $65 or so. What do you think?
3. My computer keeps crashing for no reason, and I'm a
computer technician. ARG!! Must be my young age (16).
Blah, have fun answering questions oh all mighty
Joshua: Thanks for the letter Spud, and the clever
nickname! Here's your answers. I moved question two to the
bottom because I'm going to do something special with
1. RPG-Net disappeared because it couldn't handle the
competition. In fact, they never were competition. RPGamer
has always been the premier site for news, game info,
editorials, fan fiction, and fan art. (Did I do good,
3. I'm sure you've already reformatted the hard drive,
defragmented, checked for viruses, and all that other good
stuff, right? Well the next thing to do, my young
technician, is to grab an aluminum baseball bat and give a
couple hefty blows of encouragement to the ornery computer.*
It will make you feel a lot better, I assure you. But bear
in mind, your computer might have trouble booting up
2. Your friend slights Lunar SSS because he's jealous of
all the goodies you will receive. Here's what you get in
addition to a great classic, for only $70--A glossy
cardboard case, music CD, a "making of Lunar" CD, a cloth
map, and an 100 page instruction manual with lots of great
anime art. I know Spud is frothing at the mouth, but what
about the rest of you? Still unsure? In order to facilitate
an accurate answer, I have painstakingly composed a
questionnaire modeled after the highly esteemed master of
1. WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT FINAL FANTASY VII FIGURES DID
YOU: A. Buy them immediately. B. Think they were cool, but
you didn't want to spend the money. C. Scoff at their
plastic faces, condemning them as shameless attempts by
Squaresoft to dupe adoring FF fans out of their hard earned
2. YOU OWN: A. Every conceivable incarnation of the Lunar
series. B. A Lunar: the SilverStar, or Lunar: Eternal Blue
C. Own none of the above.
3. YOU: A. Think Anime is god, and collect it. B. Think
Anime is pretty cool. C. Think Anime is pretty silly.
4. PERTAINING TO GAME MUSIC CDS: A. Do you own
soundtracks for a vast majority of your video games? B. Own
a couple or even one video game soundtrack? C. Own no video
game soundtracks--they cost too much money?
5. AFTER READING HIS COLUMNS, YOU: A. Think the new
RPGdude is witty, entertaining, and knows his stuff. B.
Think the new guy is pretty cool, but he's not all that. C.
Think that this guy has a lot to work on. D. Hate the new
RPGump and wish he'd choke on an elephant leg.
6. YOU CONSIDER YOUR EXPENDABLE INCOME: A. Exorbitant. B.
Adequate. C. Measly.
7. THE WORD " WORKING DESIGNS" MEANS: A. A company that
goes to great lengths to provide entertaining games with
excellent translated scripts for the American audience. B.
The people who make the Lunar series and a couple other cool
Sega games. C. Working who?
Well, I'll end the torture here. Please tally up your
points. Every A is worth 2 points, every B, except question
five, is worth 1 point. Every C, excepting question seven,
is worth no points. If you answered "A" for question five,
give yourself three points. If you responded "C" for
question seven, slap a -1 onto your total. If you were cruel
enough to answer "D" for number five, then subtract 25 from
the end result. Got that? With your grand sum before you,
here is what this questionnaire says about you:
16: YOU CHEATED.
10-15: SUPER FREAK. You must buy any and all items
pertaining to video games. You are either extremely broke
all the time due to this obsession, or your friends hate you
because you can afford all this paraphernalia. You are rabid
about the Lunar series and all it stands for--don't hesitate
to buy the LUNAR SSS bonus pack.
4-9: MODERATE. A middle of the roader. You choose your
accessories with discretion. You may or may not want to
spend the extra $20 on all the goodies Working Designs
offers you. You could wait and find out everyone's reactions
to the items. Maybe borrow the game. Save some money. But on
second thought, take a gamble. Flip a coin.
0-3: HOSTILE. You don't want to waste your money. You
don't know the Lunar series very well. You are sick of all
these gimmicks, and you just want to play the game. Whatever
the reason, definitely rent the game first, or borrow it
from a friend. If the game is worth all that money, buy it.
Don't let WD's tempting extras influence your wallet.
-1: PITIABLE: Why are you accessing this page? You
obviously care nothing about what RPGs stand for.
-13 to -26: EVIL: I'm hurt. I really am.
Well, if you don't trust the scientific results of my
survey, then I have another tidbit. Working Designs is also
reworking 85% of the script, changing the plot, adding
characters, and revamping the entire game itself. Do I think
all of this is worth the extra dough? Heck yeah! Why did I
waste your time with those stupid questions? Because it's
fun, at least for me. If you want more of the same, let me
know, I'd love to gimmick up this column. :)
*Disclaimer: RPGamer does not assume any
responsibility whatsoever for any negative ramifications
caused by following RPGnameless advice.
Scattered Thoughts: Mary and Ryan asked what a
"crabbit" was. Actually, I meant to call Chu-Chu a "cabbit,"
a half-cat, half-rabbit mutation that appears often in anime
and annoys me to the point of murder. I started calling
those so-cute-I-want-to-strangle-them creatures "crabbits" a
while back, and I didn't use the proper name in my last
column. Chu-Chu, however, isn't really a cabbit. It's
worse--a dabbit (demon rabbit). I'm starting the
CAD--Coalition Against Dabbits. Anyone want to join?
MarioMax (These nicks are something else) wants the FF
series to end. I don't think it ever will. Final Fantasy, by
the way, is the greatest oxymoron in the history of the
English language. An oxymoron, in case you didn't know, is
two words grouped together that have conflicting
definitions. For example, cold fire, living dead, military
intelligence (J/k! Don't bomb me). Master Jackey, Tales of
Destiny replaced the opening music and some dialogue voice
overs, amongst other translating travesties. I liked the
script though, didn't you? Speaking of Tales: Neo Tuxedo
Mask--I agree with you completely. There is nothing wrong
with adopting some tradition, especially when Namco does
such a adept job at it. Read my review of Tales in Grrlgamer,
if you'd like--it reflects my respect for a great game.
Anime fans--like you PenPen--and FF collectors must go to
because it has FF trading cards, FF wall scrolls, FF art
book (Japanese), and other great anime merchandise. FF5Rulz
had the nerve to tell me I should put Chu-Chu in my
Xenogears party. Dr. Thinker, I doubt even Ascii knows when
and if they are porting a version of their RPGmaker series.
Instead they give us Master of Monsters. I don't see the
logic here. Do I play imports, Azazel? Nope--they are too
expensive, too much trouble to play, and I don't read
Japanese and couldn't bear following a script. I have
considered importing games that weren't crossing the seas,
like Tobal 2. Lots of letters asking why Zelda is considered
an RPG. I'm sure we all accept Zelda II in the ranks (by the
way, "Link to the Past" is a terrible pun). But as for
Zelda, I suppose I will lay down my theory on RPG genres, to
compliment all the great editorials on this site. First and
foremost [remainder of column cut for space
- Joshua Reid
Wow. My first real column, and I think I have my first
real ulcer now. Have a great day.