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Xenogears--still!

 

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Amuse Me; Amaze Me; Adulate Me
Joshua Reid

Wah. My mail server didn't work yesterday, so I couldn't update Sunday. Wah. I made a big mistake in Saturday's Ehrgeiz post. Wah. It's Monday. Wah. Wah. It's my column and I'll cry if I want to. Wah.

Some of you may have noticed my brazen error in Saturday's column. Squall is NOT a playable character in Dream Factory's new fighting blockbuster, Ehrgeiz. I misread my source--terribly sorry. :( If the rest of you don't know what I'm talking about, it's because I purged that glaring taint to the nether world as soon as I realized what I had done. You can find more accurate information about this game via the proceeding letters. Read on--enjoy!

WARNING--RAMBLING FACTOR AT A 6.5 IN THIS COLUMN. READER MAY EXPERIENCE EYE-SORE DUE TO SOME LENGTHY LETTERS AND VERBOSE RESPONSES.

Brave Musashi Fences at Night

Well, ironically when you were talking about "Night" in RPGs, you missed one game that is one of the most anticipated by your readers. Brave Fencer Musashi is supposed to feature day and night as a prominent feature, and it is supposed to happen in real time, just like Zelda. Every 10 or so minutes (a good guess) the time of day changes from day to night, or vice versa. I just thought I should volunteer this tiny little bit of info to your readers. Enjoy!  

-Alex Moen (BocoDragon)

Joshua: This is BFM week! Yippee!

Other RPGs with Night Factor (contributed by readers)--Drakken, Dragon Quests, Seiken Densetsu 3, Quest 64, Castlevania 2, etc., etc. The list goes on.

Behold!

OK, I swear I'm not making this up. I had this dream, where I went to the grocery store, and all the Campbell's Soup cans had the RPGamer logo on them. (The green one with the two swords on the ToC) So, I finished up what I was doing there, and the first thing I saw when I turned on the TV at home was a Campbell's Soup commercial. It said "Campbell's Soup - Mmm, mmm good. Sponsored by RPGamer."

- SoM Lord

Joshua: Don't think of it as a dream, think of your experience as a glimpse into the future--a prophecy. Either that, or you hang out here waaaay too much.

Yee Haw!

Y'all been talkin' 'bout cookin' chocobos an' eatin' im... just what's the gol' durn idea? I mean, how ya gonna eat that feller if ya can't KILL 'im? Jus' ya try 'n kill a chocobo, ya find that doesn' matter how much ya damage 'im, that crittur he ain't gonna give up an' die! When's the last time ya even HEARDUVA dead chocobo? Those feathery varmints're well nigh im-mawrtal! So how the heck ya gonna eat 'em? Jes' curious.

- Choco Billy

Joshua: My God, I had no idea Choco Billy lived in Southwest Virginia.

FFVII Withdrawal

Okay, I have a serious problem. I don't know if others have this, but I really would like to know if I am just mentally ill, or have really good taste in games.

FFVII spoiled me for RPGs.

Yes, I don't like to admit it, but it has. I can't seem to like another RPG because I loved FFVII so much. I feel I am not appreciating games like FFT, Xenogears, BoFIII, WILD Arms, and Parasite Eve as much as I should be. Don't get me wrong, I think these are good games, yet I just don't get the excitement out of them like I did with FFVII (in other words, hours in front of the TV). My friends (all 3 of them that know what an RPG is, most think Resident Evil is an RPG, but that is another story) all love these games. Is FFVII too good or am I just mentally ill?

Joshua: Neither. I would say FFVII just looked too good. I experienced a similar let-down when I finished FFVII, but that feeling faded after awhile. FFVII is a very visceral experience--it engages your eyes and ears and imagination like no other RPG, and when you get off this sensorial joyride, you desperately want something to rival or duplicate that experience. I also felt that FFVII had spoiled me for all proceeding RPGs.

You know what helped me get over this prejudice? Time. I beat FFVII a year ago, and now I can be more critical of its faults. I've grudgingly admitted that I can't find a graphic equivalent of FFVII right now, but I have played many games with better stories/gameplay. Tales of Destiny has reawakened an appreciation for great dialogue, and Xenogears has rekindled a sense of awe and entrancement I haven't felt since FFVII.

Maybe you won't find another FFVII. Have you ever watched another Star Wars? Try to take every game face value, and instead of comparing, just try enjoying.

Resident Evil is an RPG huh? Maybe your friends are the insane ones. :)

What I Write For

Do you get paid for what you do or is it simply a labor of love? I was just curious because if you are making money can I borrow some?

-Tony Mishler

Joshua: Okay, I'm going to play another word-realtionship game with this one.

Clinton-Fidelity=Me-Money

I get paid "something," but I think that's only so I'm considered an employee instead of a slave. The only real reward I receive from this site is your fantastic letters, which are worth more than gold or silver. I am going to fail school, lose what little renmants of a social life I had, and basically be miserable for you! For you, readers! I love you all! Keep reading! Keep writing! Give my life meaning!

Torture Tactics 102

If my little brother opted to buy Metal Gear Solid, rather than Xenogears, am I obligated to kill him when I return home from college? If so, what method do you suggest? I was thinking of about four agonizing days of Chinese water torture, and maybe boiling him live in oil. Then again, I could just smack him.

-Jacob--Harwing to some

Joshua: The staff at RPGamer does not advocate any form of torture, unless of course your foolish sibling is also a Crabbit sympathizer, for which you must uphold your family's honor and cleanse this taint from your virtuous lineage. I suggest strapping him to a chair with a copy of Beyond the Beyond, informing him that he must beat the game, from the beginning, to earn every meal hitherto. I can think of nothing more agonizing than that.

I Smell A Debate

My question is: If a game like Zelda 64 is covered because it's considered an "action RPG" how come the game/games like Metal Gear aren't covered? Is it just because of the time period they take place?

Metal Gear has at least as much interaction with other characters as the past Zelda games, and from the looks of Zelda 64 it has about as much as that. There's definite character development, MANY plot twists (if you've played through you know what I mean), and multiple endings depending on how you interacted with different characters throughout the game. The only difference between this and Zelda is that this takes place in the future, not in the past. So how come this doesn't fall under an "action RPG" too?

-Tim

Joshua: Okay, I'm going to make some brief points concerning this, hoping against hope that I don't spark another "What's an RPG?" debate. I don't want any deaths on my hands.

The differences between Zelda 64 and Metal Gear Solid that (I believe) make them part ways on the RPG/Action divide are:

1. Precedence-Zelda II is indisputably and RPG, and so are the other four, one could argue. So even if the next Final Fantasy is just Cid running around with Crono hair waving swords at bad guys, it will still be grouped with its more RPGcentral cousins.

2. Orientation-Zelda 64 is more freedom-orientated, while MGS is more goal-orientated. In Zelda you are given the illusion of freedom, the ability to "play" a role, while in MGS you are planted in a base with clear-cut objectives.

3. Action- What element is emphasized more in MGS? Action, or ROLE PLAYING? The RPG facets you point out for MGS (character development, plot twists, multiple endings) can occur in any game--heck, even Resident Evil 2 had multiple endings. The bottom line is this--is MGS more Action-centric or more Roleplaying-centric? I'm sure you would say Action. MGS is a very pithy action game, but an action game nonetheless. The pace and plot both center around action. Now, this same distinction may disqualify some Zeldas, maybe even the most recent one, but that's another story entirely.

Now, I'm going to do a very stupid thing. I'm going to try to define a RolePlaying Game, as I see it. The central facet of RolePlaying, as the name indicates, is playing a role. The character's attitudes and actions are not set--we choose who to talk to, what to buy, who to run from, what to kill, where to go when. This is our world--we set the pace. Roleplaying games must be primarily character-centric--characters must be dynamic, they must change [superficially (hearts, levels)] as well as deeply (Cecil learns to love Rosa and forgive Golbez). Character, and our level of involvement with the characters, is the central part of Roleplaying and it doesn't matter if the game takes place in the distant past, the distant future, in your backyard (Earthbound), or if you gain levels via experience or heart vials. I know this treatise is very skimpy, and can apply to many games that aren't considered part of the RPG canon, but I think this emphasis on character is one of the only elements that can really apply to all RPGs, and set the frameword for all potential RPGs, without being picky and absurd.

I'm sure most of you disagree with my statements or have more to add, but I implore you to save your arguments for the Editorial Section of this site. That venue is a wonderful medium through which you may vent opinions.

Wishful Thinking

I and my fellow Crabbits are outraged at your extreme bashing of Crabbits. We are really not that bad, only misunderstood. We have utilized Crabbit Law 10075, Crabbit Rights Law. If you do not shut down your illegal crabbit bashing organization, We will be forced to send a horde of Crabbit warriors to your HQ and annoy you to death.

Thank you for your time.

-Crabbbitttooo, An outraged Crabbit

Joshua:I did not know I still retained a faithful Crabbit readership. Maybe I have not made myself clear. I hate you. I hate you with a venom as potent as a hundred cobra fangs, with a rage as explosive as a thousand Krakatoas, with the boiling depth of a million seas. If my column accomplishes one thing, and one thing only, I wish it to be this--that I can expose you foul creatures to the ignorant world, that everyone will know what vile, loathsome malevolence lies stinking and brooding under that pink, fluffy disguise! If I can rid this world of your blighting existence, if with my last breath I slay your fetid leader and the last of your noxious seed, I will have lived a most noble and satisfying existence! From Hell's Heart I stab at thee! Die! Die! Die!

More Questions!

1. Why is it that I seem to be the only one who doesn't see the effeminate side of Gremio? I mean, when I first saw Gremio, I thought, okay, he's a man. Now, Milich, that's a different story altogether . . .

2. Just what are the religious references in Xenogears like? Are they really such a big deal? I want to buy the game, but I'm a little sensitive to that sort of thing, so I need to know beforehand.

3. Who's your favorite RPG villain?

4. Who's your favorite RPG character ( Male and Female)?

5. Have questions 4 and 5 been already asked? ( I'm sorry if they have)

-Gong

Joshua:1. Milich scares me, period.

2. Xenogears Spoilers-If you don't mind direct quotations from the Bible, an entity calling everyone gods, and a negative portrayal of church practices then you are okay.

3. Sephiroth, Kefka, and the giant freak-crature at the end of Lufia IIs super dungeon, because my brother spent seven hours getting to it, and it proceeded to be impossible to beat and, to add insult to injury, crashed his game.

4. Male-Cecil, Frog, Cyan, and Stahn (because he's so much like a goofy farm kid in one of my attempts at a novel). Female-Rosa, Lufia, Rutee, and Tifa.

5. Yes they have. Just now. By you.

Final Fantasy Baseball

I read the Final Fantasy Football and was thinking, "What about baseball?" (And "What about Marlene?"), so I decided to invent a Baseball team using Anime AND video game characters:

Team Crossover:

Pitcher: Mr. Fujisawa when he's not drunk. (FUJISAWA PITCH!!!!!!)

First Base: Jubei Kibagami (Just because he's cool)

Second Base: Motoko Kusanagi (Very very cool)

Third Base: Cid Highwind (Trust me on this one)

Catcher: An FF Tactics Thief with the "Catch" skill (Makes sense, right?)

Shortstop: Geist, as in MD Geist (NOTHING can get past him!)

Left Field: Belldandy (Goddesses are ALWAYS a help)

Center Field: Sephiroth as One Winged Angel (He can fly!)

Right Field: Aya Brea (Parasite Powers can help)

And the coach is . . . ME!!!

These are my two cents.

-Evil Shinji

Joshua: Here is my suggestion: Umaro pitches Relm, Chu-Chu, Sasami-San (Tenchi), and every other annoying RPG and Anime character at the player, who gets to knock them into the stratosphere. Homeruns occur when you can deftly knock these worthless creatures onto very large, very sharp, very lethal spikes that protrude right before the audience.

I would also like to make a gratuitous statement: Jubei is the Man. Period. That is a fact.

Ehrgeiz Information

Ehrgeiz, as you noted, was a joint venture project (Dreamworks, which is a Namco/Squaresoft joint venture) fighting game which--as you noted--has a number of innovations (not only the track bit and *really* three-D fighting, but in some levels there were things you could pick up to increase power or restore health, etc.). Kind of a shame that it never was all that common in the States (Louisville, KY *DID* get a copy, though--I guess between all the Tekken/Soul Edge fanboys and the Squaresoft fanboys they figured us a market . . . heh heh heh)

On the Final Fantasy VII characters (which--besides maybe one or two things to note below--are probably going to be the main bits of interest to rpgamer.com readers): Cloud and Tifa were "secret" characters that were unlocked as you beat the game with other characters (those of you who have played Tekken 3 and unlocked Mokujin, Gon et al--it's the exact same thing ;). Needless to say, Cloud and Tifa were usually unlocked in short time, and many of the folks would play with those two. ;)

Oddly enough, there also seems to be as many Tekken and Soul Edge references as Squaresoft ones. ;) Among other things, "Mishima corporation" is involved at points, and Godhand is supposed to be associated with Mishima--those of you who have played the Tekken series know Mishima is the company Heihachi owns. The game also involves folks fighting for a sacred relic of fighting (shades of Soul Edge/Soul Calibur, in which the fight was for the cursed Soul Edge).

In the home version, we get Cloud and Tifa as characters, but also Yuffie, Vincent and Sephiroth (Sephy... :). These characters, too, you'll end up unlocking by beating the game with certain characters or as alternate "skins" for characters (a la Eddy Gordo/Tiger Jackson or Kuma/Panda in Tekken 3); from screen shots of the PSX version that have been floating about the net and psmonline.com, I can say with some certainty that unlocking Sephiroth WILL involve beating the game with Godhand somehow (makes sense, if you also follow "Tekken history").

There will also be two new characters added. This isn't a big shock to me, to be honest; Squaresoft is not stupid and they know a major selling point will be the ability to fight as Cloud [or as Sephiroth beating hell out of Cloud ;). Namco also has a *long* history of enhancing the PSX versions of arcade games it puts out--even stuff like Time Crisis and Tekken 3 (of which doubts were put out whether those two games would even be portable to the PSX) so one should expect stuff to be enhanced a bit].

For some reason, Jo (a wolf-woman who can shapeshift to a wolf as one of her special moves) looks really suspiciously like Nanaki to me in wolf form. I don't know whether this is how Squaresoft does ALL wolfy-looking critters, or if this is a wee bit of an in-joke. :)

Supposedly, the PSX version of Ehrgeiz is supposed to include an "RPG mode" of play. I expect this would be like the ones supposedly in the Tobal games [never saw 'em so I can't say yea or nay on that] or in Soul Blade [PSX version of Soul Edge--it included a "story mode" in which you had to fight different characters as part of a storyline]. This is also probably where Namco and Squaresoft have gotten together to enhance things a bit.

There is still some question as to whether it WILL make it Stateside. Firstly, there was some question at first as to who exactly had the rights to distribute the PSX version [seeing as demos are being put out with Brave Fencer Musashi in Japan, I'd bet Squaresoft got the rights ;)].

Secondly, Squaresoft is somewhat leery of putting out fighting games in the US seeing as how Tobal No. 1 did not do terribly well (we missed out on Tobal No. 2 . . . no chocobo mode for us :P). Thirdly, I am not entirely sure how many of the machines made it here Stateside but if not too many made it here then the main hope we'd have of getting it is Squaresoft figuring folks will buy it so they can play as Cloud/Tifa/Sephy/Vince/Yuffie. This does NOT mean I'm not holding out hope, though (quite the reverse ;).

-wtf

I know a lot of people can't even image how you pronounce Ehrgeiz. Well in the Demo Disc in Brave Fencer Musashiden (Japan) there's a demo of it and they actually say the word. It's pronounced Air-Gez (that's air as in the air we breathe and it's gez, not geez.)

-EdgeX

Joshua: Just in case you skimmed: Don't forget that Ehrgeiz made it here in arcade form. Keep an eye out for it in your local funhouse, and buy Bushido Blade II so Square knows we have a supportive Square fighting game audience.

According to my sources, wtf is right about the Tobal 1, Tobal 2-style RPG mode. For those of you who thought Tobal No. 1's attempt at a quest mode was pretty lousy, Tobal 2's revision was a thousand-fold better. I'm looking forward to this Ehrgeiz, even if it's hard to spell correctly.

Scattered Thoughts: Stay tuned for tomorrow--I'm going to interview Cecil from FFIV!

Wish me luck! I have an interview with Software, Etc. today.

Xenogears is a masterpiece. My pick of the fall, so don't stall. Buy or die. J/k. I just try to rhyme all the time. Just the same, it sounds lame. Don't have a cow, I'll stop now.

Any information on a "Dragon Valor" would be appreciated. The only recent Dragon game I know about is "Dragon Seeds," the new Dragon Rancher.

Archives will be updated. Soon. I pinky promise.

-Joshua Reid, wondering where his day went.

"Who will save your soul?" -Jewel, Pieces of You, whose new CD is almost out! Rock!

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