Hairy Hippopotami Are
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.
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?
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
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
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?
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!!!!) !!!!!!!!!!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
5. Do you think that Games for Playstation 2 will be able
to play on normal Playstation.
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
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
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
-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
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
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
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
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!
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
-Joshua Reid, enjoying his break already. :)
"My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun." -William