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Wow, I'm surprised--people actually enjoyed the Cecil
interview. I received an overwhelming 10:1 letter ratio in
wholehearted support of a future installment in the
"Interview" series. I'll probably carry one once a week,
depending on the characters' schedules, of course. They sure
are busy. I'm not sure I'll be able to get Squall in here
until next year at the earliest. Some characters are a
little too easy to sign on--I've been getting calls all day
from the entire FFIII cast, Relm, Strago, the Earthbound
crew, and a horde of other practically forgottens. Next
week--because of the inspiration from a few creative letter
writers (thank you all)--Crono will be at the mercy of my
probing journalism! Keep reading, it only gets better from
here--can't get any worse. :)
I promised you readers something yesterday--no Crabbits.
Many kind readers have expressed their wishes--very politely
I must add (You [bleep]ing Dork! Will you stop
[bleep]ing [bleep] [bleep] those
[bleep]ing Crabbits!)--to discontinue my tirade
against Crabbitkind. I am at your mercy; I am your willing
servant. Your castigation has pointed out the error of my
ways. The treacherous animals have subtly worked their
malignant magic on this page as well--my virtuous attacks
against them have devolved into an obsession, thus annoying
you to no end, thus I--their most anithetical fan--have
become an agent for their work. For that, I apologize, and
thank you most exorbitantly for your gentle scoldings.
If I may expound--I only wished to inform you, to
enlighten you about this Evil Among Us. I also wanted a
motif, a thread linking my entire history here at RPGamer
together, just like Cid, the Masamune, etc. link the Final
Fantasy series together. I began with Crabbits; I wish to
end with Crabbits.
But, for today, I dub this page 100% Crabbit-Free.
You will see no Crabbit; hear no Crabbit. I will not post a
Crabbit-infested letter, I will not draw a Crabbit into my
ramblings, no, they shall stay in the dark pits of my Id,
where they belong.
Let's answer some letters.
Oh No! Relm
A theory. If Shadow is really Relm's father, wouldn't she
actually have part of his genetic code? And if this was
true, then wouldn't he pass some of his traits onto her?
Things like, say, height, weight, even disposition? One
trait, however, that is not passed, obviously, is coolness.
Shadow is very cool, and Relm is very pathetic. This means
that all the people in my school who say I'm a geek and a
nerd just because every other word out of my mouth has to do
with RPGs, are in fact not naturally cool, as they believe
themselves to be, but are merely hiding behind weak screens
of ill-thought out logic stating their coolness. Since I
discovered this, I say that people like you, me, and anybody
else like the readers of RPGuru are the cool ones.
I'll just have to explain this to them while they take my
Ah, well. I savor the small victories.
Joshua: I used to always tell myself that the big
bullies in my high school who scored all the touchdowns and
dated all the pretty girls would be cleaning toilets at the
Super Corporation I owned when we grew older. Every day in
my fantasy future, I would tip my hat at their debilitated
frames and say, "Good day. You missed a spot." Ha-ha! Too bad I'm an English
Hey, Zaphod, I'm going to ask Relm the same question in
her interview, which will take place probably two weeks from
Second Look at Zelda 64
At first I was forced to agree with your quick assumption
of Zelda 64. I thought that the new Zelda would just be
another Mario 64, all graphics, no substance. Then I thought
different. In my opinion, ever since the SNES translation of
the game, Zelda has always been in a genre of its own. One
of my favorite things about the game is how even thought the
characters have little or no personality, the items do.
Every item has a story behind it. They aren't just power-ups
ether. You have to go on a quest to find most of them and
this adds to the games epic quality. I think that if Zelda
64 keeps this quality and depth to it, and brings it to us
with it's excellent graphics, it will be a great game.
-From the mind of James the Wise
Joshua: My apologies for yesterday's brief
dismissal of this year's "biggest blockbuster." I meant to
come across as neutral. I compared Zelda 64 to Mario 64
because of the outstanding graphics. Nothing else has
impressed me--yet. I'm not going to let the hype influence
my decision--movies like Godzilla, and games--to a lesser
extent--like Parasite Eve (before you sick the dogs on me: I
liked the game, but it wasn't as good as I'd expected from
all the raving from magazines and ads) have proved to me
that the hype tells you absolute didly about a game; the
best critic for the next "greatest video game ever" is
In response to something you wrote today about Square
being innovative with Final Fantasy - how do you explain the
fact that almost the same skills or spells in almost every
game? Fire through Fire 3, Ice through Ice 3, Bahamut, Odin,
etc. I think they need to show a little innovation there
more than in the overall battle system! What's your opinion
By the way - a couple days before the last RPGuru
resigned, he mentioned in the 'Quick 'n' Dirty Tidbits'
section both my name (the Josh who requested, and the next
day sent in, the Lodoss War RPG information) and another
Josh. Was that you?
Joshua: These spells, just like Cid, Masamune, the
crystals, Ragnorok, etc. help thread the Final Fantasies
together--otherwise they would be floating around with
absolutely NOTHING to do with one another. I think the most
Herculean piece of scholarship a person could attempt with
this series--if possible (Andrew Vestal, you are our only
hope)--is to find a definitive linearity between plots (not
just parallelisms). If the games aren't serial stories, then
how can they be grouped together? For publicity? Maybe.
Because the composers, designers, and producers are the same
for each game? Maybe. Regardless of the reason, I think
elements that appear in each game like these spells justify
the next final Fantasy as a legitimate sequel. The presence
of Ultima helps you feel, despite all the vast changes in
graphics and battle design, that you are in a Final Fantasy.
Would it be Final Fantasy without the Cid stamp? Would it be
a Joshua Reid column without a--DO'H! almost mentioned the
Andrew Vestal, in case you don't know him, is a young
student at Stanford who knows entirely too much about the
Final Fantasy series. All RPGscholars must check out his
"History of Final Fantasies" at Videogames.com.
Yes, the other "Josh" was me. Actually it wasn't, I'm
just joshin you, har har ( how many times, dear name-sharer,
have you heard that joke? And every time they act like you
haven't ever heard it before, like they just came up with
something so original. But we Joshes know better).
Here's an ultimate example of contradiction--can you name
this tune? "I'm you're only friend, I'm not your only
friend, but I'm a little glowing friend, but really I'm not
actually your friend but I am"
The Ultimate Question--Next to
Life, the Universe, and Everything
Have you found this too? In Xenogears, whenever you hear
that certain "dungeon" music or anything that hints at
"dungeon time!", do you just want to scream? Xenogears
rocks, but those dungeon parts SUCK! Especially when you
don't know where to go at first and there are plenty of
annoying enemies. Normally in an RPG, this would be
accepted, but with the darn jump feature, you can fall off
and have to do it all over. Xenogears is one of the best
RPGs I've played, but sometimes I just want to bash the
freakin' T.V. in.
Not just in XG, but all RPGs. What is the point of those
stupid "dungeons"? To build levels? Especially in Xenogears
or FFVII where the story is so cool you just want to learn
more, not fight the same guys over & over.
[due to C content, the P.S. was removed]
Joshua: Why are we here? What is reality? Who is
God? Why do RPGs have dungeon crawls? What purpose do they
serve? Why do designers place those annoying pointless
puzzles that do not further the plot in the least, but
further your frustration instead? Jon, you have just added
another unanswerable question to a heap of unfathomables
that will burden you until the rest of your days until you
free yourself with this wonderful counter question: Why ask
Why? No, I'm not talking about a beer, ladies and gentlemen,
I'm saying: That's just the way it is, some things will
never change (can you name that tune too, music buffs?).
But if I HAD to come up with some kind of an answer, I'd
say, like you pointed out Jon, that leveling up is part of
it, and that the dungeon, since D&D and Dragon Warrior,
is a traditional emblem of adventure, questing, and complete
bewilderment--essential foundations for all pure-blood
JOSH'S RPG DESIGN POINTER: Here's one way to alleviate
monotony in dungeons--instead of making it just goal
orientated (Get to the end, fight the boss, earn the plot)
intertwine the dungeon with the plot. Intersperse story
hooks, side quests, slight revelations to build up to a
climax, and other bewitching strategies within the dungeon
to spice things up, and keep the player on their toes. If
the player feels like a dungeon is just a place he needs to
trudge through to get from Plot Point A to Plot Point B,
then the crawl becomes a drawl.
Xenogears Spoiler. If you don't like dungeons,
you'll love the second disc.
Don't play Heart of Darkness.
I've been reading RPGamer's letters section for many
months now, and I just have to say that you are the best
letter-answer guy yet. That interview with Cecil was great!
I thought it was imaginative and downright hilarious. I
certainly would have no objections to future installments of
the RPG interview series, and no matter who you decide to
talk with next, it will no doubt be entertaining (no
pressure now). Anyway, keep up the fantastic work, it's a
pleasure to read your column everyday. Thanks.
Joshua: Roogna, your check is in the mail.
I have been wondering for some time why RPG characters
have last names, yet they are never referred to within the
game. For instance all the odd names from FFIV, which I have
never seen Square use. Are they net culture? I mean come on,
Cecil Harvey?? Of course, there are plenty of other examples
- FFVII's Cloud Strife is always just "Cloud," and Aeris is,
at most, "Ms. Aeris." If the last names are mentioned it's
at the ends of the games, as in Breath of Fire II or
It makes our RPGs less like a movie, much more like a
play in this sense. Everyone is last ("Palmer") or first
And of course, I'm curious if they'll use their last
names at all in FFVIII.
Just figured you might know if you and "Mr. Harvey" are
still on speaking terms...
-Keith Jeffrey Cald
Joshua: Three reasons why characters have last
1. Realism. We have last names.
2. They can sound really cool, e.g. Dakkon Blackblade,
Zaphod Beeblebrox (I bet I spelled that wrong).
3. They can give hints about disposition, mission, e.g.
Tifa "Lockheart," she locks her heart away, and can't
directly admit her feelings for Cloud.
Three reasons why we don't see RPG last names:
1. They get cut on the port over.
2. They can get lengthy.
3. They can get stupid. Harvey. That's all I have to say.
I keep thinking of a six-foot imaginary bunny rabbit when I
"Mr. Harvey" (hehehe, hear that Mr. Whipped?) has not
responded to my latest e-mail or phone calls. I think I
damaged his pride irrevocably.
1) Pink Floyd isn't the only band out there, what about
the Center for Metallica, Megadeth, Tool, and Korn (CMMTK)
or the Union of Creed, Days of the New, and Monster Magnet
2) How come RPGamer doesn't cover Fallout or Diablo or
3) Do you like Dragon Ball Z?
1) You are right. Pink Floyd isn't the only band out
there, but they are the best band out there, no?
2) Because RPGamer focuses mostly on console games. I
tell you what. If I get some time this Turkey break, I'll
try to get some information on those games up. Waddya say?
Am I cool or what? On second thought, don't answer that.
3) I fear rabid Anime fans. No comment.
Legaia, Legaia, wherefore out
Gotta quick question for you, o Wise One. A while back I
heard something about a game called Legend of Legaia, or
Legaia for short. It seemed to be a nice action-RPG and had
sort of a Wild ARMs-ish look to it. Ever heard of it? I'm
pretty darn sure it's for the PSX; in fact, it may even be
out in Japan right now. Will you guys be getting screen
shots or info of any sort?
Joshua: Last I heard, this game was supposed to
appear this Fall in Japan, so it should be out there. I'm
not sure if we're going to cover it, but until then, go
for some great screen shots, provided by Playstation Gamer.
The game is developed and published by Sony, so let's hope
they do better (can the do worse?) than Beyond the Beyond.
So far, it looks great.
That baseball games ["Scattered Thoughts," Blatant
Silliness, Nov. 10 RPGuru] was made by a sub
developer of Squaresoft called either aques or quest. They
are a part of square that makes sports games. they have
also made a horse racing game (I'm sure of this it has
betting and the like) and a casino game (I'm not sure
though). I know they have made many different sport games
under that title. and they have never ever made a RPG under
Joshua: Heck, you learn something new every
1. If you had a choice, in which RPG world would you
prefer to live in? My personal favorite would be the FFIV
world. I mean, the ending is so peaceful, I would be certain
nothing bad would ever happen to me... Unlike FFVI, for
2. What do you look for in an RPG FIRST? The characters,
the storyline, the music or the graphics? I personally look
at the characters before anything else. The storyline comes
in second, then the music and the graphics. I don't really
care for the graphics, in fact, as long as the rest is
3. How do I join the CAC??
4. What's your favorite Anime series? Just want to know.
You also mentioned Quicksilver in your Cecil interview. Do
you read comics too??
Joshua: How's this for answers:
1. Yeah, FFIV was very safe to live in, if you don't
count Tellah, Anna, Edge's parents, the possessed king, and
the millions of lives the Babel monster must of claimed.
Right now, I would want to be in Tales of Destiny's
world, because even goofy looking, air-headed farmer boys
get all the women.
2. Truthfully? Oh boy. I look for relationships. This is
my main quirk with RPGs--a touching, obvious relationship
between man and woman must be evident in a game to elicit
the most enjoyment for me. Tales of Destiny (Stahn and
Rutee), Grandstream Saga (Arcia, Laramee and Eon), FFIV (Mr.
Whipped and Mrs. Whipper), Lufia I (Lufia and The Hero) are
all games with Relationship Factor. The somewhat ambiguous
relationships of Edward and Terra, Celes and Locke, damaged
FFVI for me. The lack of any love-interests (lack of
anything good, really) in Secret of Evermore also biased my
opinion. Love must evolve during the course of my favorite
RPGs. Why? Because I'm obsessed with the idea of Love. The
extent to which I follow relationships will become painfully
(for me) clear with this example--I used to be an avid
Melrose Place watcher because I wanted to see Billy and
Allison get together. It's pitiable, but true. There you
have it. A strange, superficial reason for some, but pivotal
in my book.
3. pssst. Check out yesterday's
4. Maison Ikkoku, hands down. Lots of Relationship Factor
there. Bumbling, lazy, irresponsible, basically worthless
college student (me), Yusaku Godai, falls in love with
beauteous Kyoko, his apartment manager, and spends 96
episodes and one full length movie trying to win her hear
while navigating through Ruminiko Takahashi's trademark web
of plot-twists, love rhombuses, and zany characters. How's
that for a summary. Right up there with MI is one of my
biggest heroes, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Orange
Road, Slayers, Lodoss War, Ninja Scroll, yada yada yada. All
of these--except maybe Slayers--also have Relationship
I used to be an avid comic book collector. Spiderman has
always been a paragon comic book character for me, and I am
literally drooling over the prospect of a James Cameron
rendition of the man in red. Spawn, Bone, and Maison Ikkoku
are comics I still read on occasion. For some reason, I've
always shunned D.C.--maybe Superman was too perfect and
Batman had a goofy looking sidekick.
Why not Pokemon
Why did Nintendo come out with Pokemon for Gameboy?
I think they could have added more stuff to it and maken
it a great RPG for the 64. Did they just want to increase
their GameBoy sales or something? Cause' let's face it, Sony
is releasing a lot better games this holiday season and
Nintendo needs to have a big plan to save themselves.
Help me RPGuru!
Joshua: Adolph Hitler, in his war's twilight, made
a terrific tactical blunder. His brand new jets, ME 262s,
that could ream any American Mustangs or British Spitfires,
were commissioned as bombers. These planes could have turned
Europe's Air War around if utilized correctly.
Has Nintendo made a similar misallocation of valuable
resources? Could a Pokemonless N64 spell doom for this
system? Nintendo was cursed from the beginning in my
opinion--third-party publishers didn't want to stick with a
confining cartridge and strict development policies. But I
think Zelda 64 and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron will keep its
head above water for now. Nintendo is the king of the
well-executed polygon today.
Nintendo was the developer/publisher of Pokemon, so they
could easily have made an N64 version. Why haven't they? I
1. There are more Gameboys out there than N64s.
2. Maybe they were testing the game's style on Gameboy,
intending to port later.
3. Pocket Monsters=Pocket System. The game's approach
suited the Gameboy's audience and design.
4. Gameboy has a collection of RPGs already. It has an
established RPG audience. Nintendo could guarantee some
sells. RPGs, as you well now, are scarce on the N64.
5. I don't know. Companies are strange entities. You
never know what goes on at those board meetings.
Many people want to know if Guardian Legends has
much to do with an old NES game, Guardian Legend. I would
guess no, not only because Guardian Legend really has
nothing to do with Guardian Legends in plot and approach
(Guardian Legend was an action game, for instance), they are
made by two different development companies. Broderbund,
publishers of Guardian Legend, would probably be the ones to
continue the series, since they are still around. "Guardian"
and "Legend" have been popular titles [Guardian Heroes,
Legend of Oasis] so its possible Activision's new game
just spliced them together. Fairly lackluster title, if I'm
right. Maybe my first RPG will be "Dragon Quests."
Joshua Rosen, my RPGrock specialist has more Rock Facts
["Rock Facts," It's Friday,
Nov. 6, RPGuru), this item from Breath of Fire 2: [in
Joshua's own words] Three of the people who live inside
the Windia castle are named "Right Don't," "Said Talk," and
"Fred Kiss." This is an obvious reference to England's early
1990's flash-in-the-pan pop group, Right Said Fred (the
people who brought you "I'm Too Sexy") and their second big
hit, "Don't Talk, Just Kiss." Three of the four boys living
in the Witch's Tower are named "Telence T," "Trent D," and
"Darby S." This is an obvious reference to Terence Trent
D'Arby, a singer from the 1980's and 1990's. The six witches
who attend the party at the WildCat Restaurant are named
"Aletha F," "Roberta F," "Tina T," "Sara V," "Mariah C," and
"Billy H." Don't tell me that the writers of BOF2 weren't
thinking of singers Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Tina
Turner, Sara Vaughan, Mariah Carey, and Billie Holiday when
they wrote the credits.
Blatant plug for Jacob "'da body" Vann, Guvna'v
Minnesota. Check out his website: (http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/fortress/5257/).
For some inexplicable reason, I'm doing better in school
now that I've picked up this monster column. I don't
understand. But hey, I'm not complaining.
Dan asked me where he could find import CDs. I hope he's
talking about music, because I have lots for you. Read
reviews on game soundtracks at SoundtrackCentral.com,
and purchase music at Gamecave.com.
I hope you find your Wild Arms intro there, Noah.
I can't buy Brave Fencer today because my bank's closed!
Waaaaa! Let me know what you think of the game/demo, but
don't spoil it for me!
For future reference: I will not post anonymous letters.
I have to--grudgingly I admit--affix my name to everything
written here, and I think it is only fair for you to show
the same bravery and commitment to your ideas--especially if
your comments are controversial or disparaging.
-Joshua Reid, wishing he were here.
"Have a nice day." -Me, today.