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Fate's Plaything

 

In the PSX

 

Xenogears *snore*

 

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I can't hear you!
Joshua Reid

Sometimes you feel like life is trying to give you a hint. As if the black cats, falling pianos, and death threats from God ("Keep it up Josh and I'm gonna get Old Testament on your bottom") weren't enough, I just received confirmation of my lot in this particular existence from my most recent fortune. After a pleasing Chinese Buffet, my friend and I snap open the crisp cookie skin with playful grins.

My friend read the following (highlight hidden text for answers), "you are the chosen one." Not bad.

Here was mine. "Game Over. Try again in the next life."

Yada Yada

Greetings oh great and powerful ruler of the RPG realm!

Greetings oh blatant buttkisser!

1) It's "Ozzy Osbourne" not "Ozzie Osborn" (Someone's been playing too much CT "Ozzie's in a pickle":)

Mi spellcheker iz om tha blits.

2) Does anyone have the lyrics to the Celes theme for FFVI (they were presented in the opera)?

The lyrics for the opera are right here, on your favorite gaming site! http://www.rpgamer.com/games/ff/ff6/text/info/ff3opera.txt . I'm a big fan of the opera scene myself. I've noticed Square's tried to recapture some of the drama in other Square games (FFVII, Parasite Eve), but none of them were quite as moving as FFVI. The only problem with the Celes' song is the voice actor. She sounds like a drowning frog. :)

I'm still waiting for "Aria de Mezzo Caraterre" to become a popular Karaoke tune. I memorized the lyrics once and sung it to a girl I admired, Sarah Julldecker. I admired her so much because she could stand the sight of me without regurgitating her last meal in protest to my person. I'm sure the shrieks she emitted during my rendition of Nobuo's classic was due to my singing voice--likened to a combination between Michael Bolton and a distressed Orangutan--and not the beautiful language.

3) Hey, let's make an RPG where you are born, go to school, get good grades, try to balance a social life with your homework, entertainment, and work. After that, you can become an adult and have all sorts of jobs! We can call it "Life". Original no? The entire point of RPGs is that they're an escape from reality. If it were just like life, why play it? We can live it. Which is usually more accurate anyway. We need to be put in a unique role to create an RPG. This role is usually of a military leader, ruler, idealistic zealot, or someone who knows something who gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time (someone needs to explain Cloud:). There's my -1^(1/2) cents or imaginary money for all you math minors out there.

I must disagree. Life can unfold like a RPG. Why just yesterday I attacked a bunch of giants . . . or were they windmills?

-James Willis

Fair Weathered Final Fantasy Fans

Regardless, here is what I have to say. It concerns Final Fantasy... specifically the more recent ones. All I ever hear from people is how much they hated FFVII. "Oohhh, I hate it, it sucks so bad for so many reasons, blah blah blah, whine, gripe, etc." I just thought that I would point out the fact that everyone was saying the exact same kind of thing about FFIII/6j when 7 was still on the horizon. Meanwhile they had nothing but accolades for FFVII at the time. "Oooh, it's going to be sooo great, it will be the best game ever... etc." This is exactly the same thing as what is happening now. Everyone is saying how much they hate FFVII, how bad it sucks and all the while saying how amazing and flaw-free FFVIII will be, or at least how superior it will be to FFVII. STOP the STUPID SLANDERING! I think it is time to stop and think about what you are doing when you bash a game you once thought was going to be good.

Just for the sake of beating the issue to death, it is like comparing a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle to one of the newer 1999 model VW NewBeetles. Sure, the old one had charm and people who owner one often loved it. But let's face it, they had their serious flaws. People still love them though, and I do as well. They are cute and they capture a time period in automotive history, and heck, for the market that they were aimed at, they weren't THAT bad. Then, compare the new one. It has a lot less usefulness, a lot more price, but it is a much better vehicle from a technical stand point, and equally cute.

Getting back to my original topic, you could say that the older games are like the old Beetle... we love them despite their flaws. Sure FFII/4j was dumbed down and had a terrible translation, but how many people would say it is among their favorites of all time? LOTS. You can say as much bad stuff about FFVII I'm sure... but many people love it, despite it's flaws. Just as FFVII was, and FFVIII is now, being compared to past games in the series. This is pointless. Interesting discussion, but pointless. It is like comparing the old Beetle to the new one. The only thing that they have in common is their manufacturer, a vague resemblance and their nameplate. Just like the Final Fantasy series.

 Sincerely,

Nemesis Destiny, RPGuardian

Joshua: Well, that's an original comparison. All this talk about VW Bugs makes me wanna go punch somebody! "Punch Buggy!"

It's our nature Nemesis, to be skeptical of change, or swept up by the hype; scorn tradition, or revel in nostalgia. Humans are a paradoxical, oxymoronish bunch. These conflicting traits are a curse, but at least it makes things interesting.

Questions From The Youth

Am I the only 14 year old out there who likes RPGs ? All of my friends think that an RPGs are point and click games ala Dragon's Lair. Maybe the explanation would be that I'm in a town full of impatient rednecks that only want to see senseless blood and gore in mindless button mashing fighters. I mean these hicks could care less about a story line or character development. Or is it that I'm old beyond my years? I'm thoroughly laughed at by my peers because of the fact that I play RPGs. Are all RPGamers suffer the same horrible fate of being social outcasts? We'll show them one day when we're rich and famous and they're trying to get a job at McDonalds.

That's a constructive way to project your pain. Please don't decide to solve your troubles with a .22 rifle. You can't play RPGs in prison. And don't forget to read my "Top Ten Reasons Why RPGamers Are Better Than Normal People." And remember, you've got friends here.

Anyway enough rambling.

 1) What is the funniest game you have ever played?

Spice Girls. When I saw the trash before my eyes, and realized to what extent a company will go to exploit a fabricated fad, and what this fact says about the media industry and life in general, I laughed bitterly for three straight hours.

Madden football games have always put me in stitches, because of all the unplanned craziness that can occur. Plus, when you play with a friend, it's always funnier.

2) Do you agree that action and racing games are made only for those moments when you're having trouble with an RPG and need to take a breather to ponder the situation?

The purposes of non-RPGs:

Shooters: To fulfill your cathartic need to kill lots of things. (Josh's Pick: Time Crisis)

Puzzle Games: To make yourself think you're clever and to beat your friend mercilessly (Josh's Pick: Puzzle Fighter)

Fighting Games: To beat your friend mercilessly (Josh's Pick: Bloody Roar)

Racing Games: To beat your friend mercilessly (Josh's Pick: Grand Turismo)

Sports Games: To beat your friend mercilessly and make yourself the overpaid star you always wanted to be! Josh Reid signs 2.5 mil/year contract with the Broncos and catches 150 passes for 20000 yards! yeah! (Josh's Pick: Madden '99)

Action Games: To pretend you are beating your friend mercilessly. Hey Dave, that cow is you! Har Har, watch it fly! Doh! You just flattened the princess! ah shucks! (name that game) (Josh's Pick: Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil 2)

Dating Simulations: To pretend you are smoother than your friends. (Josh's Pick: Haven't played any actually)

 3) Did anyone else like Final Fantasy VII, or does everybody have to hate it because it has some translation problems which really didn't bother me?

 Final Fantasy VII was a good game. There, the Guru has spoken. Case closed.

4)

You didn't list a question here, buddy! Here, I'll make one up.

4) Hey RPGuru, I think you're the coolest and all the girls in my town think you are a big stud.

Aw shucks, thanks, but I'm not worth the praise. My momma taught me to be 'umble.

5) I have $60.00, and I'm torn between Lunar:SSS or Xenogears. I've never played Lunar. What should I do, Buy Xenogears now, or bite the bullet and wait for Lunar to come out to get all the cool stuff that comes with it.

Here are you options:

1. Ask your parents to buy you Xenogears for Xmas and buy Lunar yourself when it comes out.

2. Buy Xenogears now and beg, steal, work, save your way into a Lunar game in January, if it ever comes out.

3. Find out if you can borrow Xenogears from someone (if there is anyone in your town who has it). Lunar is more of a collector's item, so it's something you may want to own.

4. Take your $60, start a lemonade stand (this is the best time of the year to do it because you have no competition) and make enough money to buy BOTH Xenogears and Lunar.

5. Insult one of your hick neighbors. Call him a "cow tippin' straw eater" or something suitably ambiguous, but seemingly insulting, and let him beat the living hell out of you. Then sue. Use the extra money to buy as many games as you want.

Lunar won't have the graphics Xenogears has, but Complete does have a more classic fantasy setting and some startling characters. Plus, with the music CD, art book, etc. it edges out Xenogears in value. If you wait and buy Lunar, you can get Xenogears later on sale. But then again, what will you play now? You're in a pickle.

6) Are Victor's favorite bands Black Sabbath, Marylin Manson, and Alice Cooper by any chance?

Actually, he's not the baddie you all think he is. I caught him listening to the Little Orphan Annie soundtrack yesterday.

Victor: Lies, Lies and flies. Flies on your eyes, watch the Dickinsinion death hover above your sallow orbs as dark mists enter the windpipe.

Josh: Creepy. I'm being threatened by my own Id.

 Thanx

 The Isolated social outcast RPGkid

P.S. I happen to like Ozzy Ozbourne and no I didn't get killed at his concert, and being a serious (serious, as in not doomed to play that stupid Nirvana intro over, and over, and over....) musician I agree that The Chrono Trigger guy is better then Uematsu (hope I spelled that right). The Zeal Theme is the best piece of RPG music ever (Yes, even better than the Prelude).

The fact that you enjoy Ozzy Osbourne puts your music taste into question.

Legaia's Legend

1) What do you know about The Legend of Legaia? It is currently the #1 Playstation game in Japan, and I was surprised to find that it was an RPG and that I had never heard of it. Apparently it is an RPG by Sony. Have you heard of this game, will it come out in the U.S., and if so when?

Published by Sony, developed by Contrail, makers of Wild ARMs. Polygonal, CGI cut scenes, young protagonist. It appeared in October, and a U.S. release is unconfirmed. I would bet my index finger, however, that it's gonna make it over here.

 2) Are there any other promising RPGs coming out in the near future?

Every major RPG publisher seems to have calmed down a little since they've stacked the shelves for Christmas Rush. It's all quiet on the Western Front. But hey, if you're a Saturn owner, don't forget to pick up the last RPG, Magic Knight Rayearth, which I've been hearing about for about three years or something. PC RPG lovers should give Bladder's--I mean Baldur's--Gate a try, as well as Ultima Online's challenger, Everquest. Early next year, Shadow Madness, Blood Omen: Soul Reaver, and Lunar Complete are my early picks. Middle to late 99 will be fast and furious, though, I guarantee it.

 3) Is Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time worth buying an N64 for?

Zelda is worth renting a N64 over. If you don't plan on buying any other N64 games, then don't do it.

 4) What are Square's plans for 1999?

 -Derfla

To sell a lot of games, I'm thinking. :)

Their main priority for the U.S. will be getting FFVIII over here, and finishing FFIX in Japan. Also, there are lots of games (Ehrgeiz, Front Mission 2) they still need/should to import this way, still more games to develop, and a movie to work on. You can bet they'll have lots up their sleeve, they're as busy as a beehive. I've already heard news of a new shooter appearing in Japan, early 1999. And there's those Chrono 2 rumors humming about. It's all a big exciting mystery. If the U.S. Squaresoft homepage had didly, I'd tell ya.

Mechanics Matter

I'd like to express an issue that I've noticed ever since I've started reading your column regularly, which is the subject matter of your letters. Besides the incessant ravings and unusual questions which add character and comic relief to the column, all I've ever heard people talk about is the story of a game, or the quality of the translations, or the status of incoming games. I realize I am writing to an English Major, but being a person who plans to go into Computer Programming/Physics, I think that game mechanics is just as important as story and plot.

Without game mechanics, the game is nothing. A game where you push a few buttons between cinema sequences isn't a game, it's a movie. Story and plot add a lot to the game, true. I loved the masterful writing in FFVII, and that Cloud had to overcome himself before he could overcome Sephiroth and save the world. However, if the battle system wasn't so well done and the Materia system so ingenious, the game would be fun to watch, but not to play. The Legend of Zelda: the Ocarnia of Time does not have a story nearly as good, but the play control is impeccable, and I can hardly put the game down.

What do other RPGamers thing about this? How important is game mechanics? Do any other RPGamers lose sleep over trying to figure out how a game calculates damage? Aside from that, will Victor ever say anything coherent? Oh, one more thing, before anyone gets the wrong idea, FFVII was the best Final Fantasy I've ever played, and I still love it. I'm still eagerly waiting to play Xenogears and Parasite Eve. If Square keeps it up, FFVIII can only get better!

 -David Raine

Joshua: I couldn't agree with you more, David. My background makes it easy for me to spotlight story and character development, but carelessly leave the technical side of games on the wayside. This happens because I don't know much about game mechanics. I don't know how damage is calculated, what goes into the control, etc. I better learn, however, as should all aspiring video game designers. Even those of us who just play games to have fun shouldn't ignore all the hard work people suffer through to build the foundation of our game. Game mechanics provide structural integrity for a RPG--vibrant characters, stunning graphics, and enthralling story may gloss the superficial appearance, but the package will all crumple like a house of flimsy cards if not cemented with good game mechanics. Game mechanics are the seemingly little things that take so much work and imagination and make so much of a difference in the total quality of the game. Game mechanics are the offensive line of a football team: Arguably the most important part of the offense, the ball starts with them, and the play depends on their performance, but they aren't recognized accordingly. Thank you, David, for pointing out my grievous omission. :) I'd love to talk more about game mechanics issues in the future.

Translations

The translation of Final Fantasy 6 (3 US) was a bit odd. The original Japanese script was used as a guideline for what needs to happen. A good portion of the text was left out, in the form of small sub plots, and townspeople. The plot is all there, though at times it isn't as heavy as the Japanese version.

FYI: English is INSANELY space intensive compared to Japanese. 1 Japanese Kanji character will take about 2-3 bytes... the average English word is... 1-12 bytes... it changes.

 -Adam

I'm sure I'm...what...number....5 to have sent you an answer to this...but here goes:

We are not missing half the story.

What was meant by this evil dope-smoking friend was that there was twice as much text in FFVI then our FFIII (makes it easier instead of writing "Japanese" and "American" over and over). Because, yes, Japanese text can say more than English in less space. The plot, however, is NOT changed very much (jokes and EXACT dialogue are different....but the plot is the same..unlike FFIV where Cecil is actually an orphan raised by King Baron). We are not "missing" anything. Think of it like this......there are the same number of text windows. But the Japanese version can fit more words in each window....so they're wordier and we're concise.

Ta-da.

-Kupan

The next letter writer must have thought we were talking about FFIV, but it's relevant I suppose.

Here's the scoop on what you lose in the English Final Fantasy IV.

Some plot details - Not half the plot, but many details were left out in the translation. For example, Cecil and Kain were orphans who were raised by the king of Baron. Originally Kain was to become a Dark Knight as well, but he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and became a Dragon Knight (Dragoon is really an incorrect translation since it means a person who fights on horseback and on foot).

Lots of cool items - Remember those neat fire and lightning bombs that Cecil used during the intro? Well, you can get those and many other neat items that were cut from the English version.

Censored material - The giant ball that was going to crush Rosa was originally a sickle. After you save her a frame was also cut where Cecil and Rosa kiss, so we only see them hug. Also there is the 'King's Pub' of Toroia (think of it as a precursor to the Honey Bee Inn) and the infamous 'porno book.' Also some cursing was cut and some hints that Cecil and Rosa might have been sleeping together.

Aw MAN! No fair! If I had only known this for the interview.

Difficulty - The Japanese version is far harder than the English version.

-Arpad Korossy

More VI, IV stuff . . .

As for half of Final Fantasy III/VIj dropping into the ether when the translation was made... well, they're right about the text, at least. Japanese RPG text is written in phonetic spelling, spelling which doesn't require the use of any spaces. So you can get some pretty significant compression right there, from one-half to one-third to even more, depending on the word in question. Seiken Densestsu 3 used not only this phonetic spelling but also compressed the hiragana (or is that katakana? Can't keep 'em straight) to half normal width, making it possible to put truly ludicrous amounts of text in the game. An English translation would have to reengineer the cartridge or leave out significant parts of the story, neither of which Square was particularly eager to do. Thus, no translation.

And I do know that Final Fantasy II removed a lot of things from Final Fantasy IVj Hardtype, including some of the subtexts and attacks. All the characters could actually do something USEFUL for the party, and Cecil had a nice special move at the beginning which I think he uses only against his Paladin self in the English version...

Well, that's all I have to say for now...

 -G. Falconar

I'm so glad my readers are so knowledgeable. :) Thanks, friends.

Simply Amazing

I was just thinking (since you mentioned it) how long I spend per week on RPGs...When I bought Xenogears, I spent about 3 8hour sessions a week for 3 weeks playing it until I beat it...and I bought it the day it came out!! All this while working 60+ hours/week and taking classes. (and I still managed to find time for my girlfriend!)

-p@

Joshua: That's pretty amazing (the time for your girlfriend comment), but I bet you started calling her Elly didn't ya? Admit it!

Hey, does anyone have cool/funny RPG Love stories? I'm interested to hear them.

Understanding Umaro

You seemed to be struggling for a way to describe Umaro from FFVI in your Dec. 3 column. I believe that the word you were searching for was, perhaps, 'yeti'. Or, in relation to the term 'bigfoot', 'abominable snowman'. I write this because it has always been my understanding that 'sasquatch' and 'yeti' are two different things entirely. The term yeti is a Sherpa (Nepal) word, yah means rock and the means animal. The yeti is said to exist in the snowy Himalayan Mountains and is feared by the people of Nepal and Tibet. Conversely, the sasquatch is said to wander the forests of western North America. The word sasquatch is of Salish (an Indian tribe of British Columbia) origin means 'wild man of the woods'. In a final note, I am by no means a scholar of this particular subject. For some reason I seem to be privy to certain bits and pieces of TUI (Thoroughly Useless Information)  

- E. Kael Lucarde

Joshua: No problem E. Kael, I was just recently initiated into the TUW hall of fame for this daily column (TUW standing for Thoroughly Useless Writing).

Well, to clear up any misconceptions of our furry friend, I looked up Umaro in the "Roleplaying Character Dictionary." Here's what I found.

U-maro (oo-mah-row) n. 1. A large, strange beast wandering around the mountains of Narshe. 2. An incomprehensible grunt or cry (Was that an umaro you just uttered?) [Narshian Dialec, Umaronin. composition of Um, useless, and aronin , creature]

"Random Insanity Picked Out Of My Mailbox" or RIPOMM. Pronounced rip 'em. Or R.I.P. 'em:

Googleshng thinks Phantasy Star (1987) was the first console RPG. I can't find any ones released earlier. What do y'all know?

Oh joyous life! Haha! Why am I beaming like the morning sun? Adam Cederblo and otaking have informed me that a Famicom version of Maison Ikkoku exists! I now have an honorable quest! There is a God! Thank you readers!

Joel, is going to Thunder Bay, and he wants to buy an RPG. I suggest FFVII if he hasn't bought that already. Maybe he can pick up two bargain binners (Suikoden, Wild ARMs) the price of one new game.

I can't believe this. My Id is more popular than me. Victor not only has a fan club, but he's even had a couple date offers (Katana, he wears bright pink. Is that ok?). I think maybe he should run for congress. Heck, if a pro wrestler can get in, so can Victor.

RPGuru archives will be updated soon. Probably tommorrow, barring nuclear holocaust.

-Joshua, reading Dostoyevsky and loving it.

"Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out." -James Bryant Conant, American diplomat. For the person who contributed that quote, I'd like to ask them a question . . . Where's my deacon?

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