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In the PSX

 

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Unburden your soul to
Joshua Reid

Crazy day! No Crono interview today, I'm sorry. Don't kill me. I'll surprise you with one this week. :)

Missing The Castles

I think Square should do the graphics however they want, but where the hell are the castles, huh? I want the medieval times back, no gun toting homeboys. How great would it be to explore the moon caverns of FFII rendered or the floating island and castle in FFIII? I don't want any of this rusty metal future crap. Also, the FFs are NOT lighthearted, the stories are taken seriously with light MOMENTS but the stories are all deep. No one wants to search the candycane realms for the ancient whistle guarded by a guardian cream puff of evilness. Also, I forget the name, it might be Shadow Madness, but that robot character just looks so stupid.

-Yuib

Joshua: Hey, don't reveal the plot for the next Earthbound . . . kidding, everyone. No offense to Mr. Woooosley, but I'm more excited about the prospect of an American designed console game than the game itself. It seems like a big Stand/Squaresoft rip-off to me. But that's just my preliminary opinion. :)

I also miss the castles, the knights, the pure fantasy aspect. Technology is nice, but if you are going to use it, why not go all out? The mechs in Xenogears still fought (basically) in hand-to hand. Where was the Buster Shield! Buster Missile? Macross-style fights? What about an FF with space travel? Would that be too out-of-this-world (awful pun intended)? Instead of experimenting primarily with the fantasy/technology blend, I wouldn't mind a straight approach one way or the other.

Rinoa's Line In FFVIII Demo

I know that Rinoa has one line she says, this I found by accident and is very simple to get:  When running away from that giant Mechanical . . . thing, Have Zell die in battle and when you beat it Rinoa will say something like "We must hurry to the Rendezvous".   Just some food for thought, well actually more like a snack . . . I'm getting hungry....      

-TheFreak

Joshua: But that's cheesy . . . Rinoa's just taking Zell's line.

RPG DESIGN POINTER: Have you ever noticed how many designers craft their story plots? The developers create a situation where you have to use certain characters so they are present to say certain things. The other characters you throw in just stand around without speaking or present lines that the developer designated for the "other" crowd. So you either end up with a section of mutes or characters saying very uncharacteristic statements. Many games (Tales of Destiny) have all the characters grouped together even though they aren't in your fighting party. Future game designers, please consider this attribute and work around it--it looks funy to see Rutee pop out of Stahn, and it's annoying to watch Cyan (my favorite FFVI character) play the laconic idler because he's not important to the plot.

Simply Oblivious

This is a comment on why so few RPGamers can find anyone out there to discuss RPGs with them, let alone members of the opposite sex. For one thing we're usually too busy playing RPGs to go out and meet new people. For instance, how often has this situation occurred to you?

MtMagus's Friend:  Hey Mt. We're going out to a movie. Let's go.

MtMagus: Okay let me just beat this boss and save the game.

<MtMagus's Friend leaves and comes back about 10 minutes later.>

MtMagus's Friend:  Are you done yet?

MtMagus: Just be patient and wait a few minutes.

<MtMagus's Friend usually leaves in exasperation at this point and MtMagus continues on playing blissfully unaware.>

If it wasn't for the fact that I'm the only one who has a van, I don't think I'd ever go out anywhere. While this sort of behavior can be uplifting when the RPG crop is bountiful; when there is a lack of new RPGs, it can get very boring.

One piece of advice I have if your in a college dorm is to pop in a popular RPG and turn up the music really loud. You'll be surprised how many people will just wander in your room when the FFVII music is going at full volume.

I'm sort of privileged because I know two other RPGamers but neither of them are female. Sigh...

One last comment about Rinoa in the FFVII demo. Maybe she's just really pissed off at Squall. I mean it's possible he did something wrong and she hasn't been speaking to him for quite a while.

I would have a question, but the entire site is so informative I know everything I want to already.

-MTMagus

Joshua: Your music comment hits upon a college phenomenon called Party Fever. Party Fever is the rush in your veins that causes you to seek out the establishment with the loudest music because there must be a party there. People are attracted to loud noise. If I opened my window right now, waved my 9mm around and screamed "the Armageddon is coming," I'm sure I would draw some notice (usually the wrong kind of notice--the last time I tried to be noticeable I ended up with a boyfriend named Brutus who still calls me from the local penitentiary every so often).

TRUE STORY: I was playing Castlevania Three, having a grand old time. My best friend was in a loft above me fiddling with the light fixture. The glass exploded, lacerating my friend's hand something awful, and the shards plummeted a couple inches from my body. As my cut pal ran up and down his repertoire of curses, adding a few creative variations of his own, he jumped off the loft and sprinted past me, spraying blood everywhere. During this entire spectacle I never drew my face from the screen. Instead, I pushed my glasses up my nose, said "wow," and kept playing. This really happened.

Show Me The RPGamers

Remember what Greyhawk was talking about in your Nov.16th column? How she doesn't know any RPGuys who aren't jocks etc. Well, I've been having a similar line of thought. Now remember my last message sometime back? How no one in my town even knows what an RPG is? Well, I've been wondering where ANY RPGperson is! I've gotta agree it would be cool to know an RPGamer of the opposite sex. It would add an extra topic to converse over. But hey, it doesn't seem that's possible does it? Because I am in the worst case scenario of any RPGamer! I am trapped in a place where no one I know even knows what an RPG is! Maybe isolated RPGamers is just a problem for us Canadians. Maybe there's only a limit of one RPGamer per Canadian town(eh)? Well . . . It's a theory....

-Moogle Charm-

Joshua: Top Ten Ways to Point A RPGamer Out Of A Crowd:

10. RPGamers can always find fellow RPGamers. I think it's an aura, or pheromone we exude.

9. They are pumping the FFVII soundtrack in their dorm room.

8. Anime-lover.

7. Dark circles under eyes (from Xenogears-induced sleeplessness), twitching fingers (must press R1! Now!), emaciated frame (too much time cooking in Tales of Destiny to spend a precious moment eating in real life) and unkempt hair (from pulling at in frustration because of the latest Alundra puzzle).

6. They are humming their favorite overworld/dungeon/town theme.

5. The phrase "spoony bard," makes them laugh uncontrollably.

4. Sensitive.

3. Shy.

2. Intelligent.

1. FFVII Shirt.

Pulchritudiwhat?

While reading your column, I couldn't help but notice that you used the word "pulchritude." Is this a real English word, or are you just a scholar of Latin? Nos morituri te salutat!

-Patrick Condon

Joshua: Nos morituri what? I don't know martian, sorry.

JOSH'S LOVE ADVICE, SPONSORED BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF OBSCURE ENGLISH WORDS (NAFTROEW).

Dear Patrick,

Pulchritude is actually an English word, with Latin roots (as are all "big" English words). It means "physical beauty." The next time you court your prospective partner, call her the "paragon of pulchritude." And when they give you that "what the hell?" stare, which they indubitably will, tell them to look the word up. Much later, over a dusty Webster's tome, the apple in your eye will discover the meaning of your enigmatic phrase and a flush of joy will spread across her cheeks. Bingo! Well done Sir!

Here's another pick-up line I made up the other day:

Joshua: Do you know where to find true beauty?

Lady: Where?

Joshua: In a mirror.

Riddle Me This

Instead of deciding straight-off if the Draw system sucks . . . let me present you with this one:

You're in a lava cave, right? So naturally you'd have wanted to stock up on lotsa' ice magic. WHERE pray tell, would you stock up on strong ice spells if you were in a FIRE DUNGEON? "Simple," you respond, "the ice dungeon." Simple enough, sure . . . but then I ask . . . where did you get the fire spells to beat the ice dungeon?

-Kupan

Joshua: Catch-22 in effect.

The Mysterious Black Bar

Hey! Did you notice that there is a BLACK BAR on the bottom of your screen while playing Xeno? Why is this? There was one on the FFVIII movie on the PE disc, too!  And why don't you read the instruction booklets for games? The developer put them there for you, so you should read them! A good IB helps better explain the backstory, controls, and gameplay. BTW, I for one like the way you are doing things, so keep it up!  

Thanks, Ice_Man_Ash  

Joshua: The black bar is for the new Widescreen Format that Square games are adopting. J/k. I don't have a clue.

Okay, here's my normal game procedure.

1. Buy Game--If I am driving home proceed to three, but if I am riding home proceed to two.

2. Read instruction manual, with particular attention given to neat art and storyline.

3. Get home, put game in. Play. Forget to eat, sleep, and associate with human begins.

Basically, I read the manual if I can't play the game right off. I guess I'm kind of the "instant gratification" type. I mean, do you really expect me to hold off from playing FFVIII to read the MANUAL first? They tell you how to get through the game in the beginning anyway. I think developers put in the "tutor sessions" for players like me. :)

Sometimes I'll peruse the back to see who developed the game, because (as in Xenogears and Crono) the developers, just like your favorite director, author, etc., usually deliver the same quality product. I've kept an eagle eye out for the SaGa crew. I'm not saying why. Just guess.

Beatrice!

It seems that most readers of your column are not as learnéd as I thought.  Anybody who has taken an in-depth analysis of William Golding's "Lord of the Flies." Victor, your Id, is however not as characteristic as Golding's Id, being wild, unruly, and sexually rampant. Yes, those qualities aren't easy (or appropriate) to express in your column, but I wanted to see if you and I are on the same level here. "Ralph" is your ego, as you so blatantly pointed out. But, a mystery still remains for me on the matter of "Beatrice". So, I ask the following:

1) Is Beatrice your Super Ego?

2) Is she the Christ-like character that tries to save us?

3) Is she available Saturday?

A response either in your article or personal reply (Yeah, like that's gonna happen, Rog) would be appreciated.

~Roger Wilco

Joshua: Sure my readers are learned, hey've digested the required RPG canon--FFs, Dragon Quests, Phantasy Stars, Lufias, etc. Nothing else is required to discourse effectively on this column.

Let me get Beatrice to answer your questions. How about it Beatrice?

Beatrice: I would love to answer your questions, Mr. Wilco.

1. Well done Mr. Wilco! Yes, I am Joshua's Super Ego, but I prefer to be called his conscience, if you don't mind.

2. My, my. I'm not sure about all that. Goodness.

3. Oh dear. What time?

Joshua: If you two are going out, you're taking Victor with you.

Victor: Going on a trip to the underworld, yah, where the streets are paved with gore yah

Too Graphic

RPGuru-

Here's an interesting question that I pose to you and your readers:

Could graphics in games actually get TOO real? I mean, if the graphics were so realistic that everybody looked like real people, would you still want to play them?

Personally, I wouldn't like to play them, because it would leave absolutely nothing to the imagination, and it would just seem too real. For me, the purpose of RPGs is to have an imaginary world in which to escape the realities of life.

-Dan Castillo

Joshua: I agree with you . . . to a certain extent. RPGs are definitely a method of escapism for me--I get to be the hero, save the princess, slay the dragon, kill lots of stuff, etc--but in some ways the more realistic a game is portrayed, the easier we are drawn into that world. In books, the more rich the description, the closer we feel to the action, in movies, we enjoy Jurassic Park more than the Lost World because the Dinosaurs look and act more realistically. Realism encourages, rather than discourages, imaginative entrapment. But why is it that Gabriel Knight's live action is hardly as enjoyable as FFIV's 2-D sprites? I don't know. Maybe it's because I have more control over FFIV. Or maybe Rosa is cuter than Sierra's werewolf hunter.

Sony, for better or for worse, is pushing for more realistic video games. The Playstation 2000's, or whatever it ends up being called, goal is to exhibit video games that don't look like video games, in other words, so you don't know you are playing a game. Sony wishes to erode that artificial feel. Does that mean Brad Pitt starring as Square's next FF hero? I doubt it. Does that mean texture-mapped CGI characters that look almost identical to us? Maybe. What's going to happen to Anime sequences and 2-D sprites? Good question.

Coming back to your intriguing query, "would you still want to play them?" Hmmm. . . I don't think I would, because the more real things get, the worse they get. Reality is a flawed, monotonous existence that we're force-fed every day. We need a break. We need to engage our imaginations. We need some Anime.

Hell

In recent posts, people have been debating whether or not importing is worth it. Learning Japanese, invalidating your warranty etc. have all been posted as valid reasons whether to import and chip your PSX or not. I live in England and I have only one thing to say that will settle this argument once and for all:

1. You cannot buy Final Fantasy Tactics or Xenogears in England without importing - they do not and never will have European release dates.

I think you will agree that this is sufficient argument to risk breaking my Sony warranty.

-DarkeSoul

Joshua: This is the most depressing news I've heard in a long time. You poor Europeans! We need to start a fund for you: The International Society For Distribution Of English Square Games (ISDOES) has made its first appearance! Donate games and money to:

P.O. Box 124

I'MASUCKER, Missouri 24567

or call 1-900-WASTEMYMONEY

On a serious note, do you think inebriating Squaresoft with e-mails protesting this injustice may turn them around? I hope so, because so far your situation is a paradox, as I see it. RPG companies don't want to distribute to your country because they don't think the market's lucrative enough, but there aren't any games to buy to prove that the market's lucrative enough.

More FFVIII Demo Reactions

I have been thinking about FFVIII some, and also what the things mean in the demo. I think it makes sense that they are in SeeD because of their magic abilities. (Was that in the opening paragraph? I forget.) Also that not a common Joe could use magic, either. But I don't think those solders were common Joes! That army seemed to be a trained group using their magical powers as a unit opposed to SeeD. And also, why would they need to Draw from you? You don't HAVE to draw from a particular enemy in order to use your magic, you could have gotten it from another enemy and save it, which is what I think they did.

As for the girl, I think she will be there, though maybe not with her summon spell. As someone said, she was in the ending FMV, and also, one of the battles has the opponents saying "This is SeeD? Boys and girls?" That might not be a full-fledged proof, of course, but I think it hints strongly towards her being there.

One other thing . . . the 15-minute timer at the end. While I agree that it's not as heart-pounding as running out of a building that will explode, I am sure that SeeD is a tight military unit and had to leave in that amount of time. You would have been stranded if you hadn't made it back in time. Which would have been death, considering the thing that was following you. (BTW, I only had to fight that thing 3 times, not every screen). I think it was fairly realistic that a machine COULD chase you down, and that you could run from it if you made it collapse.

I hope I have conveyed my opinions on the demo clearly...

-Sammy

Joshua: You sure have! Thanks Sammy. I'm beginning to think, since every creature in the demo had magic to draw from, that everyone has magic inside them, but only a few special ones (SeeD) can "draw" it out, store it, and cast it. But of course this is all speculation. We'll just have to wait for the real thing. But how the days drag by like a dismembered tortoise! How Squaresoft teases us with demos and pictures that torture, like we were slugs, and they flinging salt on us!

RPGuys! Here We Are! Come And Get Us!

I am an avid RPG player right here in Alberta, Canada! And I can't find any other RPG players, be they guys or girls! So drop a line!  

-Sean Kepper Camrose, Alberta  

orlandu@telusplanet.net

I can just see it now . . . "I met my spouse on the RPGuru column! Next, on Jerry Springer!"

I live In B.C Canada, and I'm here to say that there are many, many, many Canadian guys that aren't nerds and still play RPGs take me for instance. I love RPGs but I ain't a nerd, I have a life and so do most of my friends (with the exception of one, he just sits in his house playing Xenogears all his life). So in closing there are many Canadian males that are normal and love RPGs all the RPGirls just haven't found us yet.

-Mr.Grinch

I once saw a RPGirl in your column complain about the lack of RPGuys in Canada... Hrm... Well! Here I am! But hey... I always thought that RPGirls were the ones who were invisible... Where were you??? You can answer this Josh, anybody? [garix40@hotmail.com]

-Garix

I have a confession to make. RPGirls don't exist. I made up all those letters. Women are sensible, why would they waste their lives in front of a T.V. set? Hahahahaha! You fools! Actually, RPGirls are like fairies and elves--we want them to exist, but they are just too perfect for this blighted ball of celestial cancer.

I used to think I was a evolutionary dead end. I used to think there was no hope for me. Was this letter (Where have all the RPGentlemen gone) authentic? Or some sick joke? I wish there was someway I could really meet these elusive phantoms of the Internet. A girl that actually likes the things I'm interested in (RPGs, Anime, mst3k), is there even a remote possibility? Oh, by the way, What does it take to become a Canadian citizen? My Grandpa was Canadian! ;)

-Zelgadis

note: Ironically "Greyhawk"(the writer of the letter I'm replying to I n part) is Zelgadis's last name(one of the translations from the Japanese). an Omen of good fortune? :)

From what I've heard, the Canadian immigration office allows you a four year grace period after which they ask you a few questions to test your suitability:

1. Do you enjoy cold weather?

2. What's your favorite hockey team?

3. Pronounce B-A-G.

4. How many times, on average, do you use the word "eh" in a conversation?

5. Define "canuk," and explain how that term makes you feel.

If you answer these questions effectively, you're in!

About your omen, let me consult my magic eight-ball! *slosh slosh* hmmm . . . "outlook not good."

Hi there oh great and most-knowing guru. Greyhawk's letter from Monday caught my interest, not just because I'm Canadian, but also because I'd like to know where these RPGirls are and why I haven't seen them around... Maybe they are all in Ontario... Poor me on the west coast...

-the B O Problem

Hey B.O., I hate to tell you this, but that might be your problem. :)

Wow! There's actually one in Canada? And in Ontario at that, judging by your reference! I'm of course referring to Greyhawk, a girl in Monday's column. I understand exactly what she means... I totally disenchanted my (now ex) girlfriend because of too many RPGs. True story! We actually got into a yelling argument when I wanted to pick up a PSX and FFVII! The nerve... I tell ya... Anyways! Ask this girl if she lives anywhere near Waterloo. Better yet! Give me her address so I can give her the adulation all RPGirls rightly deserve!

-Alex

Whoa! Down boy, down! *spraying testosterone off the column* Ha! I feel like I've been flaunting a sparrow in front of a horde of cats. Watch out Greyhawk, they want your number. :)

By the way, it's Alex's birthday on Saturday. Everyone say "Happy Early Birthday Alex." Thanks.

As for Ms. Greyhawk, well, I don't think it really has as much to do with location as she may think. Being Canadian also, and hoping to live up to her standards of a "gentleman", I hope that I can offer some manner of consolation.

Not knowing what sort of environment she lives in, all I can say is that there are both advantages and disadvantages to wherever you may live. In a larger city, (Winnipeg, pop. 650,000) there are more people who share your interests, but it'll be harder to simply find them because city people seem to abhor talking to strangers; so the circumstances in a larger centre may be harder to come by. On the other hand, in a place not unlike the one I live in (Brandon, pop. 45,000), there are considerably fewer people who enjoy my favorite pastime, but the chances of meeting someone is a little higher because chances are you already know someone who knows someone who... etc., etc. Of course, if you live in a place the size of my mother's hometown (Justice, pop. 36) you may have to drive thirty or so miles to find someone who shares your interests.

Ms. Greyhawk, don't be discouraged because you haven't found a guy who likes RPGs yet, they really do exist. But like just when like looking for a friend or someone to begin a relationship with, finding that person, no matter what their interests, usually takes time. I wish you all the luck in your search.

-Jeremy Baker

Finding that special someone is sometimes the toughest challenge we face in this world full of obstacles. And even if an RPGirl or RPGuy shares your interests, they may still be the wrong match for you. She may like the Zelda series for instance, and you may think that Link is a stupid hippie communist elf.

Tarnished Translations

To the RPGuru and those concerned about FFVIII, You played through the Final Fantasy VIII demo, and were held in awe by the visuals and music, and maybe even the battle system. All of those being important components to a game's success (not necessarily quality, though), you were pleased. Unfortunately, there was one glaring fault we all can agree upon; the translation was right out of a Japanese-English dictionary. Ever take a look at RPGamer's own demo translation? That's what the actual demo's script resembles. Now, I'm not insulting the generous donor of RPGamer's translation; he wasn't paid, but putting dialogue like that in the demo into the final game scares me. I encourage all of you hopeful of a Final Fantasy to remember, and not to cringe at, to write the people at Squaresoft at their site. Just follow the leads at www.squaresoft.com to contact the company directly. I hope that with enough supporters declaring that they won't buy the game unless more money is diverted into translation, that they will give us the only uncensored, coherent translation ever found in a Square game. Thanks for the support, and everybody write, for the future of Final Fantasy!

-J

Joshua: I'm going to make an assumption here, because I can't read a lick of Japanese--anyone out there who can please fell free to correct/assert me. I believe, and pray, that the Japanese dialogue of FFVIII is nowhere near as crude and disjointed as the U.S. version. I hope that what I'm wincing at is a product of poor translation, that the exhibition is at fault and not the production. If this is the case, then by all means, we must protest--a literal translation never captures the life of the original prose. I've read many English versions of famous foreign authors (Milan Kundera, Dante, Virgil) and if I had read a word for word translation, the impact of those works would be lessened considerably. Instead of a poetic masterpiece, I am faced with a dry husk, a mere structural representation of the work. Translators MUST make a piece legible for another audience, but also convey the poetic beauty, the dramatic presentation of the original masterpiece; otherwise you are eating the meat but missing out on all the spices and sauces that make it unique and worthwhile. But this replication is difficult, so much so that we have multiple translations of the the Inferno, the Bible, etc. by people trying to get it right. I have always thought that Square translators have taken the easy way out, and that is why what we read seems so leaden at times.

Here's a good analogy to describe the injustice of a bad translation. Why do we hate dubbed Anime so much? It's not just because Elly's voice doesn't match her lips--Saturday morning cartoons suffer from that calamity. The main gripe I have is the American voices never carry the same emotion as their Japanese counterparts. When you read subtitles, the translation is usually literal, but the Japanese voice actors augment the words with their incredibly expressive voices.

Squaresoft is giving us, essentially, a dubbed version of their role-playing games. Not only do we suffer through a uninspired translation, but a censored one as well. Many of the language, themes, etc. has been filtered out of the game because of "questionable" and "cultural" content that would offend or disorientate us. Compare a Squaresoft translation to a Working Design or Namco (TOD) one. Tales of Destiny's translation replicates the whimsical tone of the original, while also substituting Japanese cultural references with Japanese ones ("You look like Leonard DiCaprio"). I'm not saying Squaresoft ignores these approaches, but they don't put as much effort into their translations as they do their FMV or character art.

Is there a point to my ramble? Yes and no. If the original Japanese script of FFVIII is a piece of art, and we are viewing a spoiled version battered by inept translators and censors, then we have something to complain about. But if the Japanese version is as lifeless as the English, then, well, we're in trouble. Only my Japanese-literate audience can say yea or nea on that subject.

Squaresoft has not begun their FFVIII translation yet. Even if it seems futile, I suggest flooding their mailboxes with earnest letters requesting more attention than they have given their English versions in the past. And while we're at it, let's put in a good word for our poor European brethren, who don't even get a quarter of the games the U.S. does.

Scattered Thoughts:

I'm all out of time today. There were some great letters I'm saving for tomorrow, so don't fret if you didn't see yourself here. I haven't forgot about you. Next week, since school will be out, I have a mission--to reply PERSONALLY to everyone! Wow!

Thank you for your mature suggestions and kind support. I'm glad I have such an intelligent, perceptive, and emphatic audience.

-Joshua, wishing he had more time for this great column and his wonderful readers.

"Being an artist means never averting one's eyes." -Akira Kurosawa

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