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RPGnameless

New Kid on the Site

 

In the PSX

 

Xenogears and Tales of Destiny

 

What's up?

 

I triple dog dare you to send a letter to
Joshua Reid

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 suggestions?

Well, what are we waiting for?! Let's answer some letters:

-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.

Tolmek

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 RPGnameless failure?

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 then.*

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 Tactics Ogre.

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 fun?

*Disclaimer: RPGamer does not assume any responsibility whatsoever for any negative ramifications caused by following RPGnameless advice.

Ahhh . . . Faxanadu

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.

-Arpad Korossy

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 stronger.

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 those games.

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 Creation

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 and optimism.

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.

Warning--Slight Xenogears Spoilers!

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.   

The Judicator

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 me know.

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 decision.

Warning--Joshua Reid Spoilers!

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.                                                                                           KC

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 in.

6. Every kind of music minus Country and Rap. I love Pink Floyd.

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.

Lunarcy

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 RPGroover dude.

-Spud

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 it.

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, boss?)

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 afterwards.

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 misguiding quizzes--Cosmopolitan.

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 money.

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 www.animenation.com, 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 considerations]

- Joshua Reid

Wow. My first real column, and I think I have my first real ulcer now. Have a great day.

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