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Amuse Me; Amaze Me; Adulate Me
Joshua Reid

Hello RPGuys and RPGirls!

I have lots of plans for this site, readers. In the next few weeks, you will see contests (with actual prizes), surveys, resources, and more! And, as always, I will shower your greedy eyes with daily doses of pithy peer letters and my crafty, entrancing replies, no? :) This is the happening place to be!

For tomorrow, I would like you to complete this sentence: "My favorite RPG Character is _____, because ____." These answers can be serious or facetious as long as they do not exceed ONE SENTENCE. Astound me with your exhorbitant wit. I will post my favorites in a big section in Wednesday's update.

Out of 86 letters, only four were actual questions. The rest were comments on a plethora of subjects--from RPGirls to video game endings. It's wonderful to see some opinions out there! Keep them rolling in!

Let's Hear It From the Girls

I know I play RPGs for the plot and characters. I think it's been proven that women are more language-oriented than men, and what is an RPG except a big story/play? (although I'm not sure you can generalize any group, women or men, like that). I *really* hope that US game companies will realize that we exist! I remember hearing somewhere that FFVIII's Squall was being created "with a female audience in mind." Although it sounds silly, it's a good sign I suppose.

~Vera

Women DO seem to like RPGs better. I generally like most video games, but I've always had a special place in my heart for RPG and adventure games. The same goes for most of my game-playing cohorts. I can't speak for anyone else, but I prefer the depth and storyline of an RPG. If I'm gonna plunk down 40 or 50 smackers, I wanna get a couple dozen hours of entertainment, at least. Don't get me wrong, I like Resident Evil 2 just as much as the next guy. But nothing is like watching a whole world grow around you, you know? Of course, I'm sure superior taste has something to do with it, too.

-Schally

You were way off when you said that RPGs were most popular with females. Actually, they are LEAST popular. My yearbook staff did a poll of all 1000+ people in my school (I'm on the staff and counted the ballots) to see which type of video game people liked the most. Only one female voted for RPGs (which was, BTW, me) compared to around 15% of males.

You see, girls don't like repetition. RPGs are VERY repetitive--at least the battles are. They think that video games are boring, and if they do like any, they like Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie.

I like RPGs, but I don't wear dresses, I'm a libertarian, I like math better than English, and I program webpages and play lots of sports (definitely not your idea of a typical girl ne?). Therefore, it's my theory that RPGs are, surprisingly, a strictly masculine thing... based on observation.

--Emelia

I just wanted to let you know that I would marry the man that wore a Final Fantasy T-shirt and gave me an old Nintendo game as a birthday present (yes, I am female). I think that is the ideal guy. Seriously. All my friends that are girls think I'm weird for my obsession with video games . . . and the guys treat me like "one of the guys" sometimes. I frequently wear an Iria: Zeiram the Animation T-shirt, as well as a Tenchi Muyo one. I just thought I'd let you know that you need to stop thinking that girls don't like those shirts, because one day, some girl like me could come along and fall in love with ya. Ok, maybe not fall in love with you, but she could start a conversation which might start a friendship which might very well lead to . . . I think you get my point. Anyway, pleeeease put this in RPGuru to let all the guys know what goes on when they are whining about girls not playing games and admiring their cool T-shirts!

-Loyal RPGamer Reader RydiaX

Hi, RPGuru!   I'm one of your female readers out there.  I love RPGs due to the excellent storylines.  If a story is good, and the gameplay also works for me, I'll like the game immensely. Of course, a cool hero is also a key factor!  ;)  The only real turnoff for me, and maybe other females as well, is the Breast Factor that you mentioned yesterday. If it's constantly shoved in your face, it's rather annoying.

-Nadia  

Joshua: Squall is pretty cute. I think it's the scar.

Emilia, you go to a blighted school. Get out, now, before it's too late.

I've Got Elly Eyes

If you guys would appreciate Anime more you'd probably notice that Elly looks better than most of the other um, Anime-drawn girls out there! She looks better than Sailor um... (bad example) Ok, Tifa! I gotta admit, Tifa and Aeris look great (you know what I mean) maybe even Ms.Croft, but please, give Van Houten her credit!

-Kel

Joshua: "Ms." Croft?! Get this man some help. Quick.

Ouch

In your column you asked, "and if there [are] a lot of you out there, why haven't I received more marriage proposals?" You completely ignored the fact that you had already established a perfectly good reason. And I quote: "Because women are intrinsically wiser and have better taste than men do."

-by

Joshua: I haven't been trashed that hard-core since . . . well . . . since ever, I think.

Baka!

Actually, Japanese isn't that hard to learn, all you need is about 15 minutes a day (Ok, so I cheat and do about 2 hours one day a week), to get fairly good at it. It's a fairly (I think) simple language, with hardly any exceptions, like in English. If you were interested in at least trying it, I'd suggest getting a book called 'Ultimate Japanese: Basic-Intermediate.' There are a bunch of things in there that bug me, but it's the best out of about 15 Japanese books I found. Just thought you and the kiddies out there might like to know, if you're at all interested in learning.

-Bjorn Larson

I saw a letter saying that someone was willing to learn Japanese in a mere six months. While hopeful, this person was being very unrealistic.

I'm a Japanese student about 2 months into my class, and we've learned some pretty useful stuff. We've learned one of the alphabets (there's 3, for those who don't know), about 10 or so verbs, sentence structure, and a few particles. Sound pretty sweet? I thought so too, but if you look at any Japanese Squaresoft games with the knowledge I have, you basically can pick out a word or two if you're lucky. I'm sure that in 4 months I'll be able to understand a game written by extremely Japanese-literate people.

However, if anyone out there wishes to learn Japanese, I'd suggest contacting a local community college (or even a university) and seeing what they have there if your local school doesn't have it. And remember, it takes patience, because there's a LOT of stuff to learn.

-Jake Whiton

Joshua: Well here are two entirely opposing viewpoints on the same language. The speed and ease with which one learns a language depends on the person's individual talents and dedication (of course), but I've heard that reading Japanese is pretty difficult for a Western audience. Different rules over there.

Heh heh. Foreign tongues are cool.

You're Both Right

FFIV's ending seems to be the extreme example in the "closure vs. vague artsyness" debate. It is used by some as a weapon against the other extreme, FFVII's ending, and by others as a symbol of just going too far. I'd like to submit another theory; that both FFIV's and FFVII's endings, even though they have utterly different goals to them, are the perfect ending.

There's no reason in people arguing that more closure is needed all the time just because they didn't like the vagueness of FFVII that others adored, or in arguing that FFIV is cheesy compared to FFVII just because it wasn't completely ambiguous, and they don't want to look "unsophisticated." All that matters is that the ending suits the particular game it goes with. FFIV was a game of stylized heroic drama, and there's nothing wrong with it at all, because it did a great job of sticking to just that goal. For a game like FFIV, an ending with tons of closure and perfectly wrapped up loose ends was exactly what was called for, exactly what the story was created for. FFVII had a completely different type of story. It was full of subtlety and things open to interpretation the whole way through, culminating in the antithesis to FFIV's ending, and rightly so. If FFVII had wrapped everything up nicely, it would have clashed horribly with the more realistic feel to the story. If FFIV had had more complexity, it would have ruined the wonder and the whole feel of that game. (On a side note though, to some people these "less developed" characters in older games like FFIV are just as "interpretive" as some things in FFVII)

So the problem isn't that all endings should be more vague or have more closure, it's that the choice be well-made for the particular game, and that there should always be different types of games so we really can all be happy. This theory also goes for the debates on linearity vs. non-linearity, polygons vs. sprites, etc. etc.

. . . and on that note, stop knocking SaGa Frontier. I liked it. ;)

-Mijae, of the rare breed of "RPG Women".

Joshua: This letter almost mirrors my feelings exactly. I particularly like how she emphasized variety. I keep fearing that RPGs will become like the fighting genre, or the movie market, or a Dean Koontz novel, where every game mimics the same formulaic blockbuster feel. So far, however, RPGs have remained dynamic and rich.

Breast Factor Rebutted

Yes, sex and breasts do sell, but that's not why square sells RPG's. You of all people should know that, being a gamer. To put such a biased view on, does not reflect the ideas of the majority, and looks dishonorable on RPGamer and you. Personally, I like this site, because its tops, and it just sucks that you'd say something as cheap as that.   

-Deliverance Paige  

I'm a guy and yeah, I do trip out over the pretty hotties in games, but sexy scenes don't make RPGs. It may sell Baywatch, Playboy, or Adult Video games, but not true RPG's like the ones that Square come out with. Parasite Eve had a hot looking chick, but I bought it for its unique active-time RPG battle system, and for the fact it has a decent story, a new way of RPG'in. Look at FFVI, you couldn't see anything sexually orienting in that game, except maybe the pictures of the ladies in the stats screen. Yet FFVI totally rocks. Save the sexual BS for shallow stuff like Baywatch or Playboy, but don't attach that as the main selling point of RPGs, which would be character, plot, story, and ideas.

-Howell

Joshua: I hope you realize that the whole BF thing was mostly a pitiable attempt at a joke. I say "mostly," because sex has a tremendous influence on video game marketing and sales. Can you name ONE major female character in recent heavily publicized Square games (FFVII, PE) who weren't perfection incarnate? Also, I never said breasts was "why" Square sells RPGs, but part of "how" they sell them. Not the main "how," now, but a bit of "how." Confused yet? :) FFVI did not have Breast Factor, which is true, but Breast Factor is really a recent phenomena in video games now that graphics can create more realistic--er--bosoms and such. Take a look in the latest EGMs and Gameplayers. Look what's driving a lot of their ads. Is Eidos emphasizing Tomb Raider's graphics or Lara Croft in a bikini? Basically, I'm saying BF (advertisers think) influences us to buy certain games. T.V. ad mentality seeps into the video game market--God help us all.

Deliverance and Howell make a great point--RPGs aren't as concerned with BF as other genres. Yet. Parasite Eve wasn't called by game mags a "Sexy New Thriller" for nothing. You can bet that the new Square/E.A. partnership will emphasize more of this particular sales technique.

Missing Manuals

This probably sounds like a silly question and I hope someone, even if it's not you, answers it: There is supposed to be a game manual inside the game CD box, right? I just bought Xenogears and it just had the two CDs inside.

-Theria

Joshua: You bet your Gears there's supposed to be a manual inside! The Crabbits strike again! First it's matching socks, then your car keys, now video game manuals! Is anything safe from these lapdogs of Satan?!

Does anyone read the manual? I sure don't, at least not the first time I play the game. When BFM is in my hot little hands, I'm not going to waste my time sifting through no stinkin' manual!

Scattered Thoughts: Yesterday, due to total exhaustion, I posted a letter by Matt Haynok that created some confusion about the 7th Saga and Seiken Densetsu series. There was a 7th Saga in the U.S. but there was also a Japanese 7th Saga 2 called "Mystic Ark."

Here is what happened to the three Seiken Densetsus--No. 1 is "Final Fantasy Adventure," for Gameboy, No. 2 is "Secret of Mana" for the SNES, and No. 3 never made it here, and was a Japanese Super Famicon (16-bit) game. I thank all of you RPGwatchdogs who ferret out these discrepancies and supply me with information. But, remember, I put errors on this page on purpose to test your knowledge.

Toni, from Boulder, you have a couple secret admirers already.

Let's hear some discussion about some of those lonesome RPGs by the wayside too! King's Field anyone? What about computer RPGs?

What's my opinion about the Dreamcast? If history repeats itself, outlook is not so good in the States. But if Dreamcast can get quality third-party support like Squaresoft, we may see a new market for Sega's latest system here. Have you seen the shots for Godzilla? Neat stuff.

Eight days and counting until the FFVIII demo, I mean Brave Fencer, is here! Yipiekiya!

Everyone better have voted for Soul Hackers to port over! Soul Hackers is the sequel to Demon Summoner (ring any bells? I didn't think so), but the developers are wary of bringing it overseas because of--you guessed it--"questionable content." Grrrr . . . I've got there questionable content right here!

Alex Holland, the enviable British informant, tells us that Terranigma, a.k.a. Soul Blazer 3, is available in the U.K! And if you had to import PE, Alex, you'll probably have to do the same for Xenogears. Could one of you Europeans tell me what languages European imports usually adopt?

Find six Pokemons at www.animenation.com and win!

Oh, 42 was my football number in high school. Worship me.

- Joshua Reid

"And we run and we run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking."

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