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Joshua Reid

Hey, it's me, your favorite RPGologist! Here some items I need to address before we move to the letters:

1. Looks like "RPGuru" is here to stay. Thanks for all the amusing alternatives you sent.

2. Here are some of the "scary" RPGs people sent me--SOTN, Gabriel Knight 2 (although I'd group this with Sierra's Quest Series, not as an RPG), Drakken (anybody play this game? I actually liked it), and Final Fantasy III. I was thinking of Chrono Trigger, because Magus' castle was huge, dark, and had a lot of bats--a true Halloween keep.

3. I'm delaying my announcement of a special contest until tommorrow. Please direct all complaints to my secretary.

It's letter time!

Chronic Fightochondria

Josh,

I've been playing FFIV (which is the greatest game ;) ) and I have this problem of freaking out whenever I see a battle and running away. :) I amazingly made it to the final dungeon with GP to spare :). See, now in this dungeon--on the level where random battle are BOSSES that u can't run away from--I'm in trouble. :) Does this happen to you? Is there some odd psychoproblem that I have? Why? Why? Why?

-Booga, the guy from Denver

Joshua: Booga, you are soooo cool in my book now. Why, you ask? It's because you live in Denver, Colorado, home of the DENVER BRONCOS, who are going to whup all kinds of butt this afternoon when they trample over lowly Cincinnati! Wohoo! Go Denver!

Anyways, to answer your questions Booga, you have fightochondria, a chronic condition that makes you fear confrontations in video games. This problem is not so bad in the beginning, but you'll find that you can't defeat bosses without leveling up (although I heard about someone who beat all the worlds in FF5 at 9th level), and you can't level up without fighting. You are missing out on an integral part of the game, Booga. Nothing is more satisfying than the swoosh-swoosh of Edge's and Cecil's swords as they hack creatures down to size. Maybe I shouldn't be telling you this (it won't help cure you), but you can use Edge's smoke power to escape most of the random battles you can't seem to be able to run from.

FFIV Character Debate

How can anyone say that FFIV had good characters? Now before you jump down my throat, hear me out. How many times in the game do the characters themselves get any development? Sure its a great story, but the characters are basically unchanged throughout. Cecil turns into a Paladin, and that's basically it for him. And Kain never really has any development, nor do most of the characters. I mean, they were good character designs, but very poorly written.

Anyway, that's just my opinion, and I don't disrespect yours. I just don't agree with it.

(By the way, this is my fifth letter to rpguru, and none have been printed yet. I'm starting to get desperate! Please print this so I can die a happy man)

--Savior413

Joshua: I can't ignore such an honest plea, nor any opportunity to make my audience happy. I also can't ignore a chance to give myself and fellow readers an chance to react to your statement.

Characters in FFIV are more dynamic than almost any I've seen in RPGs.

Case 1--Rydia. She's a tormented girl when Cecil rescues her from her burning town. She falls into the sea, the Leviathan takes her under, and the next time you see her--she's a woman! No longer carrying the trappings of her timid girlhood, Rydia is an accomplished summoner and an opinionated female--she staves off Edge's romantic interest and becomes a role-model for the monsters who raised her. She grows physically and emotionally.

Case 2--Cecil. Another dramatic change. He is a tool for his king in the beginning--he has his doubts about the king's motives, but a tool nonetheless. Notice how he treats Rosa in the castle--he is frigid in response to her adulation. But as the story progresses, Cecil's heart softens to Rosa, his indecision turns to devotion to the forces of good, he faces his greatest fear (the darkness within him) and purges it, and he learns to accept an archenemy as a brother. Could Cecil have made a good king at the beginning of FFIV, I ask you? My answer is no--only through the trials he faces and the characters who influence him could he evolve into an adept king and caring husband.

I have more examples, but I don't want to hog the court. Hopefully this debate will continue on both sides of the ball, because character portrayal is an integral part of any roleplaying game. Thank you for your comments Savior--it's hard to publicly criticize something you know people hold dear in their hearts.

The Naming Game

Someone brought up the subject of renaming characters to make the dialogue funny. My all-time favorite game for this purpose was Secret of Evermore(see! It's good for something!), because of the extraordinary amount of space allowed for names. I actually started games just to die and receive the death message. "Sadly, The Spice Girls and Hanson were never heard from again..." Then I'd laugh maniacally for a while before grudgingly getting back to seriously playing the game.

Of course, there's obvious ones like naming Frog 'Glenn' or Sabin "Mr. Thou". And simply naming a character a dirty word can put all the dialogue in a different light... It was funnier back when video games were censored, though. Lots of fun for those characters you don't like.

A friend of mine repeatedly named Rydia a [female canine], just for the scene where Edge tells her to get off the Big Whale... He also had a strange compulsion to change Kain's name to whatever the timer was when he last joined the party, i.e. '1:08' or '45:38'. He named Strago "board" once, which was hilarious for some reason I can't remember. Once I named both Palom and Porom "Ranma". My friends and I competed to come up with names for Umaro that cracked us up, most of which are not fit for public reading... And we'd make silly, pointless names for Mog, like "Fizzy". In retrospect, a good name for Relm would be "Glitch".

Final Fantasy Tactics was great for serious naming. I loved having such people as "Nausicaa", "Illuminatus!", "Aziraphale", "Tom Servo" and "Pink Floyd" fighting on my side. The first time through FFT I named Worker 8 "Mr. Coffee" because that was the first thing to come to mind. One of my Mathematicians was appropriately named "Deus X Machina".

To set the record straight, 'Cabbit' is not an officially recognized term(though it is used in the Ani-Mayhem card game). Ryo-ohki is not a cabbit, she is a spaceship. That should clear up the confusion.

-zenoki

"Don't try to get past me. I'm quick... Quick like the wind."

-Immobile guard in Secret of Evermore

Joshua: Zenoki has done the impossible: He has found entertainment value in what I consider one of the biggest flops in Electronic Entertainment History. Well done. Bravo.

Ryo-cabbit is a spaceship huh? Oh! Now everything makes complete sense. I've seen them used as armor before too (El Hazard). Are 'dem zany anime designers smokin' crack or what? Gotta love 'em.

Why We Don't Wear FFVII Shirts in Public

Kain? Boco? Don't tell me you're serious about these names? Fortunately, we RPGers don't have much chance of reproducing. (Sorry to come off rude, but it's true. I got shot down for Homecoming like a low-flying duck. I blame the FFVII T-shirt I chose to wear that day).

Why does no one ever like an RPG ending? Everywhere I look, people gripe and moan about the ending to FFIV-VII, Breath of Fire series, Wild ARMs, and every other RPG they play through. What do you people want in an ending?!?!?!? SaGa Frontier was my favorite ending. As I recall, the main character removes the CD from the Playstation in disgust and breaks it into pieces. Then he goes play a real game (As always, sincere apologies to the three people who like the game).

Don't worry about the insulting letters; it's how we initiate our new columnists at RPGamer.

-Michael Goff

Joshua: You wore an FFVII T-shirt when you asked someone out for homecoming? That's worse than wearing formaldehyde for cologne! Unless, of course, you are trying to draw the RIGHT kind of woman. I flaunt a "piyo piyo" shirt around campus, hoping my dream woman will shout, "Maison Ikkoku! I love that show!" and then I shall take her in my ardent arms and we'll "go to the chapel, and we're gonna get maaaarrried . . . going to the chapel of love, ya ya ya ya!"

About the endings--I want the game to finish with something that resembles the definition of "ending." I want a conclusion. I want to feel vindicated. I want to feel like those 45 hours were worth it. Think about your favorite books, how the last words made you feel. I cried at the end of FFIV--the only time for a video game, by the way--because the experience was over. I could finally release all that pent up wonder and reenter this mundane world. Ending on a high note is a good note with me. I'm not partial to ambiguities or eye-candy--they leave me feeling empty. What does everyone else think?

Thanks for the advice Michael. I've had my share of insults already, but the more gentle criticims and positive feedback have balanced the soul-abusers out. I wish everyone could enjoy this column, but that's life for you.

Barret Was My Best Man

Here's some questions/comments!

1) Have you played Kartia yet? That has to be one of the best games out there! It rivals FFT (doesn't surpass, but rivals) You can create monsters, weapons, gear. You can trade items, and fight against your friends! That, my friend, is pure genius!!!

2) Here's a funny story. In FFVII, I put my girlfriend's name in place of Barret's! (I think I was drunk) She didn't find it funny. But later we got married, so I guess she forgave me. She doesn't even get made when I play videogames! She even plays some with me! (Wait, that didn't come out right) Which brings us to number three.

3) If my wife beats me in at a game, do I need to be worried?

-Princeotheives

Joshua: No I haven't actually. Sounds like it's something I need to check out, however. I'm glad RPGs and Strategy games are doing so well, but do they have to release so many great diversions when I'm trying to graduate from college?

2. Michael Goff! You hear that?! A RPG love-life success story! Keep your head up, man! RPG players are sensitive individuals, perfect for any relationship. Just make sure you find someone who doesn't mind sharing you with the game console. Here's a reason to buy Tales of Destiny--you and your love-dove can play together!

"She even plays some with me" eh, Prince? A little Freudian slip there?

3.No comment

The Crabbits Are Coming

1. You mentioned you call cabbits "crabbits"... did you know crabbits really do exist? Yep, in a (incredibly wonderful) comic book called the Maxx. I scanned in a pic for you if you want to see proof. (http://www.net-link.net/~ellcrys/temp/crabbit.jpg), but I suggest reading the comic. It's one of the few really interesting and thought-provoking comics I've ever seen.

2.And on the Chu-chu issue... I plan to name that thing Pikachu my next time through the game. Or perhaps Evil Pikachu. (You'd understand if you've been to the series board much... muahaha!).

3. [Kind of spoiler] Also, on the topic of XG naming, yep, the Mechs can be renamed. At least, at one point in the game, when you're aboard the Yggdrasil. Go into the hanger and get on the above platform, go up close to the Mechs. You can talk to some mechanics there, and they'll give you the option.

4. I was trying to think of a way to avoid spoiling games for people in the future, since obviously people WILL ask an RPGuru questions about the ends of games and such... And I think I came up with a way. On the message boards, we're always posting multi-topic messages, containing spoilers for some games, and what some of us have done about it is... when we get to a part of the message that's a spoiler, we simply change the font color to "#FFFFFF". Then if people want to read the spoiler, they highlight it. (Of course this was inspired by the spoiler message option at the end of the message, but we're more creative with it. ^_^)

5. One more question. I'm sure everyone's dying to know... Are you a bad enough dude to save the president?

Ellcrys

Michigan

Joshua: 1. No! No! Horrors of my imagination brought to life on the page! I'll never look! Never! Ellcrys, I will never willingly behold those infernal creatures--they may have many names, shapes, sizes, and colors; they many turn into ships, make cute noises, and save lives, but I will avoid any contact with them--looking at them is like gawking at medusa, listening to their mewlings is like hearing the Siren beckoning you to dash yourself on rocks, or whatever sharp object is handy at the moment.

2. Chu-Chu has tainted your message boards? Yikes.

3. Thanks. Lots of people have confirmed this fact. I've decided to name mine after the Four Horseman--Pestilence, Famine, Death, and War.

4. I like that idea. At the end of Xenogears, you find out that God is really NACLGigas, a giant pretzel you feast on when it dies. How's that for an ending?

5. I saved the President once (not Clinton), with a bud of mine. You know what I told the press after I was done? None of that "I'm going to Disneyworld" crap. I flexed my massive bicep and said, "I'm bad!" Yeah!

Looking for the Legends

Joshua,

What's the deal with 7th Saga 2? This is the sequel everyone mentions but no one reviews. Was this released in the U.S.? I know there was a raging debate about the first game's merits on RPGamer a few months ago, but what's the scoop on the second?

Also, given Working Design's current slate of RPG translations, is the possibility of "Ys" translations too much to hope? Yes, I have 1 an 2 on the TurboDuo pack-in disc and 3 came out (I should probably pick that up while I can), but 4 and 5 never even came over to the U.S.. Are they an NEC property? Without a U.S. gaming console currently in production, surely they would be willing to license these out to WD for, say, Playstation production? Just curious.

Is it hopeless to offer support (and ready $$$) for the U.S. translations of Japanese SNES RPGs that we never saw or played, say for Playstation or any of the upcoming consoles? "Treasure Hunter G" and "Tales of Phantasia" (didn't that have an internal seasonal clock, or something nifty like that?) would be obvious candidates, along with the two "Secret of Mana"'s we never saw. There was even a "Soul Blazer 2," wasn't there? Your fresh, informed perspective on this, going out to thirty thousand netizens a day, would doubtlessly be very constructive.

Wasn't there a corridor-based Super-CDRom2 RPG on the TurboDuo that came out after the system went out of production in the U.S.? I could swear I read about one that received high praise, and could be ordered direct from NEC by phone, back around '94 or '95, but I can't find any mention of such an eleventh-hour hit anywhere on the web. The only CD-Rom2 RPGs I can find are "Exile 2" and "Dungeon Explorer 2" and neither are the game I'm picturing.

-William S. Burns

Florida

Joshua: Just my stinking luck--I have mounds of homework to finish and a Denver game to watch and this excellent letter slips into my mailbox. William Burns a.k.a., RPGbuff, has a lot of great questions that will unfortunately take some research on my part. In lieu of posting this tomorrow, I thought I would let some of you out there take a crack at some of these questions, and I'll post them next time.

Of the top of my head, however: I don't know of any U.S. 7th Saga 2. I heard once that Illusion of Gaia was supposed to be Soul Blazer 2 (a bit of information that probably has as much viability as your weekly horoscope). I'm sure companies would appreciate your money, but the best thing you can do is buy their games to show support (so they are encouraged to release more), and find a lot of people to bombard their sites with e-mail begging translations. Tales of Phantasia and Secret of Mana 2 are games that I would have loved to see over here--Tales was a 48 meg cart or something, and Mana 2 had an alignment system. You can play Tales of Phantasia's sequel, which of course has little to do with the first one--Tales of Destiny. I really doubt, however, that many of these classics will reapper on 32-bit consoles, especially now that the next generations are on the way. All the more reason to learn Japanese.

Scattered Thoughts: Ken Chau, the only Gameboy Dragon Quest I know about was supposed to appear in Japan as DQ Monsters in September. The game is a gargantuan 16 megabits. Anyone else have some more information for this DQ addict? It's good to have Enix back in the game market. Evil Shinji, the capitol of Assyria is Ninevah. I'd like to tell Sugoi that I'm a rabid fan of Maison Ikkoku, and I also love Slayers, KOR, Gunbuster, Ninja Scroll, Saber Marionettes, Vampire Hunter D (have you heard about the remake? Wohoo!), and just about anything that isn't hintai. [spoiler!] Count Matthewla, if you haven't found out already, you must talk to the rich guy in the inn who has dropped his passport, talk to the lady outside the inn who has found the passport, find the soldier she has given the passport to, then run back to the rich guy. *deep breath* Hope that helps. Ryan Chambers challenges us to make a case for Chrono Trigger being Final Fantasy III's sequel. Chris Dwyer names everyone Sephiroth in FFVII, and I bet that creates a confusing experience. I wish I didn't have so much homework today. Ah well, it can't be helped. Enjoy what remains of your weekend.

- Joshua Reid, signing off

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