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ASK SEAN
Column 4: Post trip fatigue
August 25th, 2007

Sean - 4:47pm EDT

Ok, I am back from my trip. For those that want to know, I went for a two nights to Lake Placid with my girlfriend. It was her first trip ever to the US, and she was suitably impressed. Everything is just too big down there. I remember standing in awe in the Walmart entrance in Plattsburgh. And I bought some strange Pop Tarts that I have never seen before. It was fun!

I also got a chance to visit my first Game Stop! I bought Jeanne d'Arc, Dragoneer's Aria, Lumines (guess why!) and Enchanted Arms for the PS3. It was really nice. I also picked up some Blu Ray movies, and other junk.

What is up with GS and EB? They don't make sense to me. They never seem to have anything remotely new in stock. Why do they insist on needing preorders for everything? Can't they order more than the preorder amount? Sigh.

Oh and two bottles of Scotch for my dad's birthday. I love the duty free store. Oh, I updated the hot topics with questions that I want to ask y'all. Enjoy!

Jim--Astonishia Story for the PSP has grid random battles, and D&D Tactics has the whole world on a grid. Just my two cents.

Anyways, on to the letters!




LETTERS


Wow, two people in Tuesday's column touched on the subject of the letter I planned on writing. I have been diligently watching the FF Retrospectives and determined that I really need to replay FF 8 and 9.

You see my eyes were opened to RPGs with 7. Well, not really. I tried and failed on more than one occasion to cut my teeth on Phantasy Star 4. I always wanted to get in the genre to get more game for my buck (I was tired of beating games the day I got them), and it was the spectacle of 7 that hooked me initially.

Sean

I saw the first two a while back. I forgot they existed. I'm going to download them all and watch them in one shot. I can't wait to see what they say about FFXI.

I hear you about the length of non-RPGs. Sometimes it is refreshing to get a concise and great game. And sometimes it is simply better to get a game that doesn't seem to drag on via fetch quests.

Now I have played the older games, and several other RPGs with less graphical splendor, so I know my roots.

For a time, however, RPG stories were lost on me in favor what that new spell or summon looked like, or the next CG cutscene. I have to admit that I actually remember very little from FF 8 and 9. I could follow a story now, I'm a pretty smart guy, and I majored in literature, but the buzz from those games really masked the underlying narrative. It makes me wonder if I was in a trance for the 160 combined hours it took to beat those games. After seeing the latest video at gametrailers, and learning that 9 is Sakaguchi's personal favorite, I really feel the need to go back and see what was so special about a game I must have played with blinders on. I guess it begs the question, when is a mind ready to manage a party, work a battle system, drool over the special effects, and follow a story in perfect harmony? Oh, and everybody needs to run the store and get Persona 3 right now. That game is awesome!

Jonezy

Sean

I've had a few moments like that. You know when you get blinded by special effect X and forgot to listen/read to what Ashe is saying? I just used that as an example, as it is the most recent experience I have of this happening.

FFIX is my personal favorite too. I loved it through and through. I suggest that everyone pull the game out and play it. Twice.

I already have my Persona 3 backlogged. I need to finish 1 and 2 first. Thanks for writing in Jonezy!





Hey Sean!

Congrats on coming out on top... however the contest was decided. I'm sure you'll do a fantastic job.

Sean

It is a mystery to me too. I have your huge boots to fill, Matt. I hope you don't mind that I stole two of your four slots this week...

I've been playing through Etrian Odyssey over the last week or two, as you might recall, and so my question to you is this: Have you ever played an at- first-glance largely bland, mediocre game that COMPLETELY and UTTERLY hooks you for some reason, so that you can't stop thinking about it?

Sean

Yes. Legend of Heroes and Kingdom of Paradise fall into this category.

Then answer me this: Does the fact that the game hooks you mean that it really isn't so bland and mediocre after all?

Hmm, hmm. To all of my Sock players: Hang in there! I'll be back next week!!

-Matt

Sean

Yes. My first impressions of games rarely stick. Something always comes up. Except for Brave Story. Awesome through and through.

You should nix those wait modes. The players hate them. Or... well I do. Too bad I can't wait mode away my exams. That would be really useful.

Thanks for writing in Matt. I'm sorry but I think I used up some of your letter supply!





Sean,

So with you winning the Q&Apprentice contest my friends and I have become completely convinced that I'm secretly in complete control of the rpgamer website. See a while back I wrote in and requested that the system platform be added to the info of the game reviews and lo and behold it's now there, and I had been pumping you to win and what happens? You win! The two things I wanted to happen, happened, ergo, I'm in complete control, my logic is infalliable!

Sean

Wow. That must be making you mad with power. I hope you enjoy it.

In other, gaming news, I have to admit that in regards to Two Worlds I really am hoping more than anything else that it'll be a decent RPG despite it looking like little more than an action/adventure hack'n'slash game. It sounds like it has a lot of potential at the least, and I can remember being really skeptical about Morrowwind when it came out for the same reason but it ended up being fairly entertaining. And Oblivion was a lot of fun too, though I have to admit I never actually got around to beating the game; one of the bad sides of having a huge world to explore with numerous sidequests is that the main plot sometimes gets left on the sidelines and by the time I thought of going back to it I had lost interest in it entirely. Kind of along those lines, I think I'd like to play a game like the Elder Scrolls that presents a couple different scenarios, one that lets me just do a free for a all exploration like normal and another that actually forces me to follow the main plot and even goes so far as to impose an actual time limit on me. Sometimes I get really tired of the rpg cliche of having endless time, "Yeah, yeah, the world is ending, but now that I have an airship I'm going to go explore that random cave we saw a while back, I think there might be something interesting in it."

Sean

But isn't that what the Elder Scrolls already does? I remember being thrown into Morrowind and having periods of exploration followed by story-questing. I liked it as it was.

Endless time has always irked me. There should be a timer at those points. Don't get me started.

It's interesting that you mentioned it, but it does seem that CRPGS are kind of on the wane as of late. I remember when (for me at least) playing an RPG always meant I was playing it on the computer, but more and more console RPGs are coming to the forefront. I guess now that consoles are equaling and surpassing the performance capacity of the average PC the gaming industry is focusing more on them. Which is fine, I guess, just slightly irritating sense it means I have to buy one of the new systems and since they're not exactly cheap and I'm not exactly loaded I'm probably going to miss out on a couple games I'd like to play. It'd be much nicer if they'd just make them all for my PC and just play nice :)

Sean

The only good thing about the 360 is that the games also come out on the PC. Well some of them do. I don't think this is the end of the PC game decrease problem. It is going to keep getting worse.

Sadly there really aren't of new computer RPGs coming out that I'm really looking forward to. Spellforce caught my eye too so I might give that a try and even though it won't be out for a while I'm kinda looking forward to Fallout 3 (which is odd since I wasn't ever really 'in' to either of the first ones), other than that I think I'm with you and I'll stick with the MMORPGs though probably different ones than you (I'm going to give Sword of the New World a try and I'll keep up with EQ2). You mentioned that you were playing Overlord, though, how is that going?

Sean

I see an expansion for both Heroes of Might and Magic and Neverwinter Nights 2 on the horizon. Things aren't that bleak. I never got into Fallout 1 or 2, but I am looking forward to see what happens with part 3. I'll have to wait to see like everyone else though.

Overlord is not an RPG. Or if it is, I haven't seen that part of the game yet. It is a colorful game with a humor that reminds me of the Dungeon Keeper games. My Overlord stays back and just throws minions at the enemies. He barely knows how to defend himself. Reminds me of my Pyromancer in Titan Quest. Oh! Another recent half-decent RPG!

In a quick, non-CRPG tid-bit, I have to say that I love tactical RPGs, actually prefer them to most RPGs. In the good ones (FFT and Fire Emblem in particular) I think the storylines are fabulous and really create an epic world that I enjoy experiencing. Sometimes with straight RPGs the extras try to play too large of a role but I think in tactical rpgs the story is allowed to really shine. At the same time though, I can't stand tactical games like Disgaea and Stella Deus largely because they have these extra dungeons that have nothing to do with the storyline but insist on having you go through it anyway to train/level up your characters or else face death and destruction in the actual game. Story=everything in tactical rpgs, don't take that away from me.

Gratz on the new position again, and I'll continue to hound you with queries.

Koala Bob out!

Sean

I'm not the biggest tactical RPG fan. I know that they tend to be story-centric, but I have a problem with having 30-60 minute battles between story scenes. So even this argument is not enough to push me to love them as much as others do. I do like Heroes of Might and Magic though.

Let me know how Two Worlds is! And thanks for writing in, Koala Bob.





Full disclosure: I'm a NDS owner.

It's been said many times, but I'll say it again: The worth of a system is measured by its game library.

Casually glancing at the RPGamer "Release Dates" page I see:
Counting released RPG titles only, NDS has 35 and PSP has 38
Couting both released and upcoming RPGs, NDS has 47 and PSP has 41

This analysis doesn't take into account game quality, which can be important. But the numbers don't lie: It's neck and neck! Either system is a great choice for RPGamers.

Flamethrower

Sean

Full disclosure: I have both.

I like them both, but my PSP is the one in use lately. My DS is ready for rainy days though. It sits in my backpack all day. Etrian Odyssey is extremely patient.

Thanks for the evaluation, Flamethrower. I still give the lead to the PSP, as it seems to have the funner games at the moment. For me at least.





Dear Sean

First, as someone whose name is Shawn, I must tell you that it physically pains me to spell the name your way. But, if I must I must I suppose. Itís just nice to have another person doing QnA.

Sean

Don't make fun of the name! We all know that it is the ultimate spelling. Look at Mr. Connery. He is the best Sean ever! With any spelling.

Anyways. Letís dive on into this, shall we?

First off, which is looking better, PSP or DS? The answer for me is PSP. Not just in the area of RPGs either. There are quite a few games I want coming soon for the PSP (Silent Hill, FFT, Jeanne Díarc, etc). I suppose that means Iíll be buying one sooner or later, wonít it?

Sean

I think you should. And get Brave Story when you do. I might give away my PSP when the new ones come out, but that will be decided later on. A contest? Maybe!

Secondly, are rare games worth the price on Ebay? That really all depends on whether or not you can afford it. I canít, so no itís not worth the price. Besides, Iím lucky enough to own pretty much every older game I really want.

Sean

I bought Persona 1 and 2 on ebay. I got 2 for an ok price, but the first one killed me. At least I think so since it hasn't impressed me yet.

Now, on to the question portion of this letter:

1. Are you now or have you ever been a player of D&D or other similar games? If applicable, what is your take on 4.0?

Sean

Yes! I started D&D in high school (my history teacher was DM). I mostly DMed since then. I ran a SAGA game, a 2nd Ed and a 3rd Ed game in university. I haven't played for years though. I miss it sometimes, but I don't have the time for it anymore. It has been replaced by MMOs.

I think 4th Ed is too soon. I mean, we just got 3.5! It is too early to re-buy all the books. But... It might be good seeing as to how they are redoing the classes to make them get something new every level (always a problem with fighters between feats) and making the game quicker. We could have used that years ago.

2. Do you remember your first game? I do believe mine was a pacman rip off with a mouse eating cheese and being chased by cats. Good times.

Sean

No, I don't recall it perfectly. It was some mountain climbing game on a really old Apple. I played it a few months before I tried out an Atari and Commodore 64.

3. You mentioned your wanting of a 'true' Zelda RPG. Are there any other games you would like to see make the jump to RPG?

Sean

Other than Zelda... a Metroid RPG? A Super Smash Brothers RPG game would be cool. I mean a game in that style. Take characters from a whole slew of games. Kind of like Kingdom Hearts but for Nintendo series. That would be cool.

And I will end this here.

Have yourself a great run as QnA host! Youíll probably hear from me from time to time.

-UFJ

Sean

I better hear from you, fake Sean. Oh and you are hereby called "Sean 2". I hope you like the new name.





Hey Sean,

da du ja in Deutschland gelebt hast und es offensichtlich verstehst schreib ich dir jetzt einfach in Deutsch du willst diese wunderbare sprache ja nicht verlernen ne?

Also auf zu den Fragen!

Ich habe am Wochenende Suikoden 5 angefangen und liebe es, es gab ja einige beschwerden wegen einem zu langsamen Start aber ich empfand den Beginn dieser epischen Geschichte sehr gut gelungen (und natŁrlich das George Prime ne hauptrolle hat^^).

Also hast du schon erfahrung mit der Suikoden Serie gemacht?

Wenn ja welcher ist dein lieblingsteil und warum?

Ich erwarte natŁrlich eine Antwort in Deutsch versteht sich^^

MfG Seiryu

Sean

Leiderlich mein Deutsch ist nicht mehr sehr gut, und darf ich nicht damit antworten. So muss ich es tun auf Englisch fuer die anderen.

Ok, I will answer this in English for everyone else. Seiryu wants to know if I have any Suikoden experience, and which I find my favorite.

To answer this: I do have experience and I prefer the second one. Why? It didn't suck like 3 and 4 did, and it had Luca Blight. Also, I prefer it only slightly to the first one. The fifth part is on my to-play list in the sidebar.

Danke fuer dem Brief, Seiryu. Naechstes mal koennen Sie bitte auf Englisch schreiben?





Hello o' Mr. Sean,

First off, congrats on the contest win. That thing kinda confused me, but probably cause I came in a little too late in the viewing. Oh, well, glad there's someone to write in to.

Sean

Everyone involved was confused, so don't worry about it.

I have some questions for you since clearly you are a player of the PC game. I've played a couple PC RPG's in the recent past, but none have stayed with me like JRPGs do. This could be due to the lack of character development in Western RPGs or it could be the not so structured storyline. Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy my PC RPGs as much as my console ones, but I just wish there was more of a blending between the two at times. I need an RPG where there's a strong central storyline, great character development, but also have the character development be customizable. Oh, and an amazing battle system and engaging world while I'm at it. Okay, it might be a little much to ask for, but maybe a little bit loosing up of JRPGs at times.

Sean

That is the problem with create-a-hero games. It is hard to force a backstory on them. Some games like Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights do a good job, but others don't even bother. It forces such games to stand on other merits other than the story. If that is your metric, than it is easy to see how it would fail to be remembered.

The answer to your criteria would be Baldur's Gate, or maybe even Planescape: Torment. Have you tried them?

It seems to me that with the storage capacity of these next gen systems that a larger world or more detailed characters is not too much to ask for. Having the ability to show armor changes and things shouldn't be too hard to do nowadays, right? So what's your opinion on the relatively new systems? I personally hate the 360 due to my overly fanboyish friends. I don't really care if any of them 'win' I just want some good games. How long do you think it'll take them to develop a game that truly brings in the next generation of games (other than the Wii's motion sensor)?

Sean

MMOs have huge explorable worlds, as well as the armor-change thing. They tend to be nice for that. For single player games... I see that more often in PC RPGs as they tend to have more resources to play with for those things. The next generation of games has already been brought in, IMHO. Games like Gears of Wars already exist. I am not a fan, but the quality is definitely there for me to see. Eternal Sonata looks beautiful, as does Folklore, so look no further than those two titles.

I know Matt's all time favorite series is Dragon Quest, do you have a favorite one? What's your all time best game?

Okay, that'll do it for my first letter to ya.

The Dark Chevalier

P.S. So what's the schedule for Q&A now?

Sean

All time favorites? This is a hard question for me. I don't really have any that stay constant. They seem to change from day to day as I remember the good parts of everything I have played. Of course, I love the Final Fantasies (even Mystic Quest!), and the Dragon Quests (but nowhere near as much as the Matt), as well as the Zeldas and Mega Mans. There are only two series that would make me skip work/school: a numbered Might and Magic game or a BioWare D&D game (Baldur's Gate!). These are my faves... for the moment at least!

I explained the schedule last week: I do Saturday to Monday, Matt has Tuesday to Friday. Thanks for writing in, DC!



QUICKIES

If you're desperate for mail, then I offer this quickie...
According to my latest issue of PSM, a jeweler known as Chisseko Kondowe creates custom made Keyblades (of Kingdom Hearts 2 fame) made of 100% Sterling Silver. I couldn't find any websites, but his number (as listed in PlayStation Magazine, seriously!) is 1-954-559-9948. As Final Fantasy fans peruse your site often, this should be fun to share....BLG

Sean
Don't you mean Kingdom Hearts fans would be interested? Anyways, do you have pictures of these things? It would be hard to thing about buying some without seeing some samples!



IN CLOSING

Tomorrow is a new day. I have no clue what I will be doing. Maybe I will try to catch up on my gaming? It's been forever since i picked up a game pad...

See you all tomorrow, faithful readers!



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