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Vent Yourself.
Joshua Reid

I'm sitting here in this computer lab contemplating the mass Exodus that accompanies this time of year. All the students are going home, and the town is beginning to look like a 49er ghost hamlet. The empty bars, nonexistent fast food lines, and lack of sirens give me a wonderful metaphor to reflect on my own life, if I didn't have RPGs. Without RPGs, I would be a dry husk of a man, a discarded serpent skin, a deflated balloon, a dead town, a piece of forgotten lint swept along by the winds of Fate. RPGs fill my life with drama, action, enjoyment, a feast of experiences to mull over days later like we linger on a candy cane, sucking all the sweetness out, reluctant to digest the memory.

Nobuo Or Not?

With all this talk of FFIX in simultaneous production with FFVIII, I was wondering if Nobuo Uematsu will compose the score of FFIX. It would appear that, unless Square's musical genius can work some sort of miracle, Nobuo (to the disappointment of us Square fans, although his recent work has not been up to par with previous efforts) can not and will not work on FFIX. First of all, before FFVII, he had been writing between 30 and 40 full-fledged tunes for FF scores. However, the FFVII score required nearly 80 pieces of music, which stretched Uematsu's musical talent out further than before, and thus produced a sub-par soundtrack when compared to previous additions to the series (FFIV, FFVI, etc). How can he write the FFIX score, which, undoubtedly will be as long or longer than previous soundtracks, IN ADDITION to his ongoing FFVIII work? I simply fail to see how this is possible. Have you heard anything about this?

-Matt

Joshua: Nobuo "The Man" Uematsu seems to have recovered from his mid-life crisis that almost kept him from composing FFVII's soundtrack, so we have every reason to expect another stunning score for the next FF. However, despite the positive face he wears during interviews, Uematsu must have found the FFVII experience taxing. I wouldn't be surprised if he had some help this time around, to prevent his creativity from spreading thin and forcing redundant melodies. Many people have asked me if he's doing both FFVIII, IX, and the movie. Uematsu is not superman, so I doubt his presence in one or both will be as dominant, but there is no reason to discount his thumbprint on them all.

I am very skeptical that serious work (besides initial storyline and programming) on FFIX is actually being done. Final Fantasy's producer, Hironobu Sakaguchi, avoided impatient questions pertaining to FFIX as if to say, "can't you just wait and be happy with the next game? One thing at a time . . ." Ever since I ruined FFVII main dramatic feature a half-year before it came out, I'm hesitant to delve into any game in development too much before it's released. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised, than merely prepared. I trust Square will employ Uematsu in capacities that will do their games the most justice, and if there is a possibility of him working on every FF, then he will do so. A FF without Uematsu is like a Seinfeild without a Jerry Seinfeild.

If Uematsu receives some support on any of these games, I hope Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears) steps into the synthesizer. This often ignored Square asset has composed pieces rivaling Uematsu's in power, scope, and memorability.

Happy Birthday!

I bring great tidings of joy! Tomorrow (20th) is my birthday and my parents, still undecided in what to get me, decided to 'take a look' at the Xenogears demo I had been playing over and over again for the past 3 days! And lo and behold, my parents liked it! (Especially since the demo starts off with a Bible verse) Suddenly, my mom remembers that we have no milk for breakfast! What a horrible scenario! No milk! And she rushed off to the store after having a conversation (in whispers) with my dad! Tell me great Joshua! What does all this mean, Wise Prophet? And will you print my letter cuz its my birthday?

-LunatiC

Joshua: Oh poor little LunatiC! Oh ignorance is bliss! How can I tell you the truth? You must run, now, before it is too late--your father and mother are plotting your death! How can this be? Why, they have played the game and enjoyed it so much, they want it for themselves! Your innocent demonstration has spurred your demise! Right now, they are--pardon the pun--milking your festive disposition for all it's worth to catch you unawares! Hurry, take your Playstation and go! Selling Crack on the streets is better than splattering your birthday blood all over your cake and ice cream!

I find it highly amusing that a game challenging church practices and fundamental religious beliefs can use a bible verse to placate conservative viewpoints.

On a lighter note, happy birthday, LunatiC! Hope you enjoy your presents!

Take Guru Advice

About that list of suggestions on how to get an RPG from Santa: #9 really works. All I wanted was FFVI for Christmas of '94, and after giving my parents my one-item wish list I got it! Yay!

In case you ever need to be glad you're not a science major, here's a test question from my last biochemistry exam. Usually tests are about enzyme mechanisms and whatnot, and for some strange reason this question got on there:

Hollandaise sauce is made by beating egg whites together with water and lemon juice, then the mixture is gently heated until slightly thickened. Small pieces of butter are then beaten into the mixture. This process is similar to making mayonnaise, except that olive oil is used and there is no heating.

a. Why do you add the lemon juice? (Give a scientific answer!)

b. Why do you not heat the mayonnaise?

c. Lecthin is usually added as a "stabilizer" to commercial mayonnaise. What does it do?

-Toni, a good scientist but a lousy cook

Joshua: Why did I post this when it has absolutely nothing to do with RPGs? Because, it just goes to show you, RPGURU ADVICE WORKS. Ha. Awesome. But for the heck of it, let's answer these questions.

a. Because the polycarbonate ions in the deoxyribonucleic infrastructure . . . da rn it ru nn ing out of biology jargon.

b. Because you shouldn't. Duh.

c. It's an addictive agent, similar to nicotine, to enslave the populous to another unhealthy product, a conspiracy concocted by none other than the Fast Food Giants (McDonald's Wendy's, etc.) so they can rule the world with a greasy fist! What a better way to control your subjects than by fattening them and killing them off with cholesterol! We're all cows for the capitalistic slaughterhouse! Soylent Green is made of people! hahahahaha! (maniacal laughter)

-Josh, a good B.S.er but a lousy scientist.

Other Games

Many readers, like Jeff Fuja, have noticed this column's preoccupation with Square. This Square dominance reflects you reader's mindsets--most of the letters and commentary I receive pertain to Squaresoft games. But, I must admit, the first games that come to my mind most vividly--either because of lack of playing (some of the DQs) or bad memory (FFIII was just sooo long ago)--are Square games. But here are a couple letters about some other great games you may want to take some notice of.

I know you're really busy, but I was wondering if you have ever played a game called "Wild Arms"? I think it is totally awesome (and for those who didn't know, it was a PSX game that came out before, yes, before, I believe, FF VII)

Anyway, I was just wondering what you thought about it. This game is truly one of the greats (even though I think it's non-square ::collective gasp from the RPGamers::) It has a wonderful plot, great characters, wonderful plot, and the biggest slew of special attacks I've ever seen in a game. (Such as, their own "special skill", something called a "force" skill, like a limit break, but way cooler, Guardians (like Espers) galore, a tool system so you can solve those hard to get puzzles, items up to wazoo, and probably others I haven't mentioned. Plus Hanpan, the coolest animal character on any RPG), oh did I forget to mention wonderful plot.

(Trust me, I've never owned a game that made me turn pale from fear, and this one did . . . scary (Not scary as in "Horror flick", but it had the same affect as if you had at the end of FF 6/3, when it read the end, you heard Kefka's Laugh . . . now that would also send chills down my spine), I tell you . . . I actually cared about the people in the game for that to happen, and nowadays that don't happen often)

Please tell me you've heard about this game. It really deserves some credit. It may be old, but I never remember hearing about it. Hm . . . maybe they did, maybe they didn't. But if they didn't advertise it ANYWHERE, that is truly a travesty.

-Invisigirl

Wild ARMs is a tragedy in my RPGlife. There was a brief hiatus during my college days where I was struggling to rationalize all the money and time I devoted to these games, and my attentions were driven elsewhere, namely to a special seraphic someone and to the pursuit of accepted art forms (writing, film). During this time I--like a shameless whore!--sold my Playstation to my brother for an easy buck. About a couple weeks later, I realized what I had done, discovered that game design was an art medium, and bought back my system. My treacherous brother, however, like Cain, had betrayed me and sold my Wild ARMs, Suikoden, and other great games. Luckily Suikoden and the King Fields were already completed, but I was only eight hours into ARMs. Those few moments, however, were enough to convince me that the game's quality corresponds exactly with your assessment. The Anime intro was gorgeous, certain levels (like Cecilia's intro) were pretty creepy, I thought the battles were enjoyable (the bosses were huge! bonus), and darnit, any game you can throw a rat around in is cool in my book.

I know you don't post much about PC RPGs, but when I think about what I like in terms of linearity, I keep coming up with Sierra's Quest for Glory series. I mean, there are at least three possible solutions to almost every puzzle in the various games, plus the storylines can vary greatly within the overall story. It all depends on the character class you choose at the start, and the particular traits/abilities that you add on to your character. My usual thing is to finish as much of the game as I can before looking at the walkthrus, but when I looked them up for these games, I was surprised, not because they gave multiple answers to the puzzles, but that I HADN'T DONE ANY ONE OF THEM COMPLETELY THE WAY IT SAID. The walkthrus gave the basic solves, but I'd end up solving the puzzle with strength, stealth, AND magic, so obviously the way to get through things can rely largely on personal choice as well as character class. THIS is the way I want more RPGs to be made in, ANYONE LISTENING (HINT, HINT!!!!) !!!!!!!!!!

-Michael Baker

I noticed the discussion started about linearity and PC games. You know, its times like this that I am deeply saddened by the fact that RPGamer doesn't cover PC games, because many of them have all the best aspects of the Final Fantasy series, but in a new environment. For those who love non-linearity, there's Microprose's "Darklands," a game taking place in medieval Germany. You control up to four characters, totally customizable by you as far as looks, statistics, age, weapon specialty, name, profession, skills, and more. There's magic in the form of saints and alchemy in a HUGE array; you'll never be able to collect all of them no matter how long you play the game. Fame is the name of the game, though, as there is no one evil villain, and the goal is to become heroes of great charisma. Challenges such as witches, thief knights, and dragons abound.

There are only a few reasons I could think of that a FF fan wouldn't die to have this game:

1. It's old and can hardly be found anywhere.

2. It's a bit less novelistic than recent FFs. There's about as much character development as in FFI.

3. Microprose is going under~ though why, I don't know. People tend to lose faith in their games.

4. 10 floppy disks

5. Highly religious. Watch for satanic hamlets with bloodthirsty barbarians, witches, and demons to be fought. Virtue is required to summon saints, and is obtained by going to a local church. All in all, possibly offensive to those irreligious or not of Judeo-Christian belief. Not to mention the fact that one "moral dilemma" is deciding whether or not to attack a woman's home because she might be a witch. Of course, it's a fantasy adventure, so she might very well be. :)

Some things people would like about it is:

1. Totally interactive battles, realtime. You walk up to the enemy and swing your sword. Take control of peers, switch weapons, fire crossbows, throw potions, or just blow the bandits away with a 16th century firearm.

2. There is NO linearity in this plot. Yeah, there is a plot, or rather a series of plots. You'll come across many names, faces, and quests. In a sense, every robber knight is like another Sephiroth.

3. It's DOS. No high-end graphic cards, no thousands of dollars spent on computer equipment. And great graphics!

It really is a shame more focus isn't expended on PC games. They are every bit as enjoyable as their console counterparts--in many ways greater in depth--and you don't have to worry about your favorite system disappearing out of the market all of a sudden. I mean, here's a game (Darklands) I can play right now, and not have to worry about finding the right console.

School Stinks

I will never understand school. They just kicked me out of school for a week and I can't come back until I see one of those people who examine you mentally. You know what they're called. They want to make sure I won't kill them. Oh well, more time to play my RPGs.

-MinazC

Joshua: That's it Minaz, look on the bright side! The glass isn't half-empty, it's just halfway empty--er--nevermind. What? Who's this?

Victor: Don't mind me, I'm just killing time. Yah. Americans are the best murderers, strangle creativity in the womb, yah!

Joshua: What are you doing here? You always come around when I don't want you, and you're never there when I need you. Where were you when those Jehovah Witness people showed up at my door, and the time I wanted to torture my neighbors--er--hahaha, just kidding Mrs. Edermire! So why are you here?

Victor: Minaz is cool. We should hang and talk death and stuff.

Joshua: I'm not sure if I would take that as a compliment Minaz.

Chrono Trigger Sequel

I have a reaction to the tiniest of hints that Chrono Trigger is, indeed, gonna have a sequel. At first, I thought, "great! One of the better RPGs of the past 5 years is gonna be reborn!" Quickly, realism washed out my endorphin induced euphoria (say that 5 times fast!).  I thought, solemnly, "Wait . . . this sequel can't possibly be about the same world and characters, while maintaining the 4-dimension manipulation theme."  I mean, unless they want the whole CT universe to collapse on itself.  I would find it a waste to pull a "Final Fantasy" and refuse to keep some sense of relativity with the previous episodes.  

It would be possible to create a continuing storyline (the generic ending hinted at it; with the gang taking off in the Epoch (oh, yeah. That's another to add to the list of names that make sense [epoch, n. A distinct, important, event in time] and all . . . but I can only imagine it getting corny. Crono's mom and the cat did something to endanger the fabric of time, or what?  

The original charm of Chrono Trigger was that it was self-limiting. It concluded. One thing's for sure.  A sequel is just the time for Square to explain just where the heck Schala Zeal got off to!  I don't know. The more I think about it, the more I find it compelling.  I really can't wait to see how they handle this. Any responses?

 -Jacob V.

Joshua: Hey Jacob, you sure you don't mean "estrogen induced euphoria?" Ba-dum-dum (cheap shot).

Just to make sure my top ten list gets old really quick, here's another one: Top Ten Loose Ends Chrono Trigger 2 Needs to Wrap Up Chrono Trigger Spoilers

10. Why we got that doll and cat for Crono's house.

9. Crono's mom. Where is she? Did she bring cat food?

8. Schala? Did Magus find her?

7. Is Frog Marle's great great grand froggie?

6. Did Lavos capture Elvis? And if so, will Crono rescue the King?

5. Where that balloon ride took the ponytailed princess and her frizzy haired beau.

4. Did Crono become the next prince?

3. Why Crono talked, and why it didn't make sense.

2. Robo's got a wife! So, that naturally makes us wonder how robots . . . well. . . you know . . .

1. Which ending is the right one?

There are two approaches Chrono 2 can take with this sequel. It can be (rare in Square) a straight sequel with the same characters, world, etc. The time travel aspect can make this a possible avenue without sterilizing the game. We are attached enough to the old characters that this medium could be very enjoyable, although, as you pointed out Jacob, the "generic" ending will probably be the one they go with. I can just see the name. "Chrono Trigger 2: The search for Mother."

The other, and more likely, result would be a FF-style sequel with similar elements (time travel, battle system), but a totally different world. I wouldn't mind this either.

Who knows what they have planned. It's all a rumor anyway. I mean can Square really be working on FFVIII, IX, movie, and Crono 2 at the same time? If so, the main talent is stretching thin, so expect some radical new approaches from young upstarts or mediocre showings. But, only time will tell, har har.

Questions--PE spoilers

1. Why are Square's game's endings so damn confusing???(Spoilers) In Parasite Eve you get an ending of everyone's eyes turning red. Whooooooppppppppe. I tried the harder version of the ending and not only did it sucked a lot I still didn't get it. I don't even what to get started on Final Fantasy 7.

2. Are they still planning on making Final Fantasy 5 for computer??? If they are why don't they make FFII or FFIII for computer. What are your thought on this??

3. Do you think that they should remake RPGs on the newer systems??? If so, do think that we should start a vote to see how many people would buy them??

4. Do know when that thing for Pokémon to play on the 64 is coming out??? I saw a movie on it I loved it!!!

5. Do you think that Games for Playstation 2 will be able to play on normal Playstation.

Thanks!!!!

-Video[donkey]

Joshua: 1. Parasite Eve's ending could be equated with the phones ringing at the end of Lawnmower Man. Everyone goes, oh crap, what's next? The special ending isn't all that special. We discussed endings in earlier columns. While FFIV took the "wrap it up nicely" end and FFVII (with a new director) ended on an artistic note, both are reasonable. Sometimes the artistic ones may seem hollow, and the FFIV ones trite--it just depends on the player. It is a director's decision--I'm not going to harp on their method of finishing a game off, as long as it's not a cop-out, like King's Field I (arrrghhh!)

2. I doubt it. A computer incarnation would probably happen here first, and unless another company (like Eidos) is interested in picking up the slack, I don't see it happening. Square has repeatedly intimated that they are focusing on other projects right now.

3. No I don't, not if it slows down the release of new games or it's just the same game. If a company wants to bring a game back, bring it in Lunar style, with nostalgic memorophilia and a new look. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and money, especially mine. I've played the games in their original form, and so can many of you, so there's no need for digging up any skeletons. If the game never came out in the U.S., however, I can see some reason to do it--but that's me being selfish. It's more economically and artistically appealing for a company to create new material instead of resurrecting all the old stuff everytime a new system comes around.

4. Unconfirmed, last time I checked. Pokemon Stadium was a rush-job anyway (you couldn't fight with all the pokemons) and Nintendo is waiting to see if Pokemon fever catches on in the States. If so, we may also get Pokemon Gold, Silver, Chartreuse, and all the myriad other variations of this Japanese phenomenon. Whatever the case, I don't want to see Pikachu Genki Dechu over here under any circumstances. You tell the yellow devil what to do with the N64 microphone and it carries out tasks, talks to its nauseating cousins and is such a terrible example of rampant cuteness I promise I will bash out every T.V. screen I see playing it with a very large crowbar.

5. Unconfirmed also. If the system's powerful enough, it's definitely a possibility. Early in the game, this was something Sony wanted to guarantee, but the new technology, the pressure to release soon from Dreamcast, and the desire to try something different--like minidisc--might discourage backwards compatibility. The marketability of such a concept would make it seem obvious that Sony would do it if they could. So I say, very likely.

Guru, Guru, Tell Me The News

Right off the bat let me say that I am nowhere near as enthusiastic about Zelda64 as most people. I plan to buy it when it is released, but I don't think it will be as good as Metal Gear Solid, let alone 'Game of the Century' as many people have dubbed it. So, before I buy it I need to know a few things (three, actually).

1. Will I need to buy a memory pack? My friend had to play through Mystic Ninja 64 without turning his N64 off because he didn't have a memory pack and I don't want the same thing happening to me.

2. They've estimated this game at 60 hours. How accurate do you think this is? Link to the Past was estimated (by one of the magazines) at 100 hours and I beat it in 10. I realize that length approximations have been getting more accurate, but can they really fit 60 hours of gameplay onto a cartridge? If so, read question number three.

3. If the game really is 60 hours, could it be due to the world design? Have you seen any non-dungeon screenshots? I'd swear that Zelda64 takes place in Kansas. Miles and miles of open terrain... Wandering for hours trying to find the fifth freaking' castle...

-TheDocta, bearer of anesthetics

Joshua: 1. Probably.

2. Only if you run 1,200 laps around the first tree you see. Games always exaggerate the amount of time it takes to finish a game (ex. Parasite Eve). I think they take the statistic from Game Tester Bob, a blind, mute, dismembered vegetable boy. So, I would say no.

3. Yes. The world is verrrry disorientating. Much of your time will be spent screaming, "where is the stupid exit/dungeon/monster?" Did you mean have I seen any "dungeon screenshots?" I've seen both non-dungeon and dungeon in equal abundance. I'm assuming that the design will be similar to the other Zelda's--an extensive overworld with mazy dungeons you have to complete to get the Triforce or whatever.

Disenchanted Zelda Player

I am writing this letter to inform you of my opinions on Zelda 64, as it seems to be called for short. And, keeping with the "in short" theme, here's my opinion, in short: It stinks.

Wednesday night, I was at my local Wal-Mart. I wandered over to the electronics department, as I'm wont to do, and lo and behold! Zelda 64 was in their N64 for playing! Of course, some little 8 year old kid was playing, so I waited for him to finish. When he did, I grabbed the controller, and was hit with my first problem: You can't choose to quit the game while you are playing. I wanted to, so that I could play from the beginning. So I figured I'd get dead (i.e. killed), and then start over.

While I was attempting this, I discovered that the game is similar to Moronio 64 (i.e. Mario 64) in that you are behind Link while he runs around. I don't like that. It's too easy to get lost. You are also limited to the analogue stick for movement, which I don't like (why did Nintendo include that joypad part, when there are very few games that use it?).

While trying to get the hang of things, I discovered that while it's similar to Mario in the perspective, that's about it. It's closer to Banjo-Kazooie in control and action performance.

I finally found an exit, leading to the Lost Woods. "Great!", I thought. "Now I can get dead, and start all over again!" Wrong! If there's a way to get dead, it's hiding very well in those woods.

I ended up walking away in disgust.

So, if you liked Mario 64, and Banjo-Kazooie, you'll probably love this game. If you're like me, you'll wait until a friend buys it, and go over to his/her house and try it (maybe try it again) before buying it.

Ever since the N64 debuted, I've been very glad I don't own one. If they keep making clones of games, rather than making new ones, I don't think I'll every buy one.

Well, that's my opinion. Everyone is free to disagree with it as they wish. I'll live. :)

PS: Victor, death recently told me that he doesn't want you. Sorry about the bad news. Better luck next time.

-Knight Elric, of The Knights of Spellfire.

Joshua: Just because the engine is straight Mario (as is many Nintendo releases) doesn't mean the game adopts any of Mario's shortcomings (nonexistent plot). I bet the game you were playing is a demo version, therefore a sliver of the real game. Please give Zelda: The Macarana of Time more of a chance. Shigeru Miyamoto would not let his series fall into Mario 64 blandness.

It's unfortunate that this game is coming out on the N64: Not only because I don't own one, but also because the N64 is so limited in what I can do that most of the games will be graphical powerhouses, but skimpy in cinematic and story, due to the limited space compared to CD based systems [as Squaresoft states, "We are currently not producing games for the N64 because the system itself is cartridge based and it lacks the necessary storage capabilities to support our previous as well as upcoming large memory RPG titles"]. This makes the system ideal for sports, and action, but a wasteland for RPGs--hence the skimpy representation of our favorite genre. Despite these shortcomings, Zelda64 will probably be the system's prime diamond and show off what the N64 is capable (or not capable) of. So give it a try. I'm sure I will.

By the way, you made Victor cry.

Victor: Death, o death, why have you forsaken me! Tears of blood, my soulscape impoverished! Don't leave me here with *shudder* Life! Life is too cruel!

Scattered Thoughts:

The title of this column is dedicated to "Old Dude," who I welcome to the world of the Internet with open cyber arms, and look forward to more of his witty letters.

Jeffrey Freiling had this to say: "If you are still wondering whether or not people can appreciate non-3D RPGs, listen to this. A few months back, at the celebration of the 500th issue of Famitsu Magazine (the dominate gaming magazine in Japan), a vote was held to decide the most popular game in history. Dragon Quest III of the SNES beat out Final Fantasy 7 for the top spot." I'm not surprised. The DQ slime and symphony is pure, unattainable, reverenced classic.

-Joshua Reid, enjoying his break already. :)

"My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun." -William Shakespeare

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