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ASK SEAN
Column 18: Animation Domination Returns
September 23rd, 2007

Sean - 10:13pm EDT

Like any horrible student, I didn't do anything today. Well that isn't true--I did read a single paper. The rest of the day I spent buried in Wild Arms 5. I truly think the story has finally kicked in and it is finally getting interesting. For those that are in the know, I just passed the cave-in part.

As mentioned in yesterday's column, I picked up Etrian Odyssey again. My hapless party has gone up at least ten levels since then and is now able to survive the challenges that they need to face in the mega-dungeon that is the Labyrinth. I have gone from floor 12 to 19 in these days. I simply decided to skip the bonus content, as it is this stuff that constantly gets me killed and frustrated. I'll be reviewing it upon completion of floor 25, unless someone else on staff beats me to it. I am still undecided if I will tackle the bonus content after the credits roll. As of this point, I doubt I will try it.

I used to be a big Magic: The Gathering fan. Specifically, I was from grade nine to twelve. Last year I had gotten back into the habbit of purchasing cards again, but only to collect. I rarely played. I collected the entire Time Spiral block. Soon enough the new block will be released and I am really torn. Do I collect the new set, just specific cards, or nothing at all? The Planeswalker cards look cool, but I am not sure. I can get really crazy when it comes to collecting crap... Sorry for the little rant.

As I did with Dragoneer's Aria a few columns ago, I will be playing Etrian Odyssey a bit as I write. Leveling up just takes too long and it is a good time to just grind a bit. I started on floor 16.

Let's get to the letters!




LETTERS
Luck stories


Here's a question for you, and maybe for other readers out there. Have you ever picked up a random title off the shelf, something you knew absolutely nothing about beforehand, and had it turn out to be solid gold? For me, this happened with Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. I picked it up with no idea what it was, saw that it was a strategy RPG, noted that it appeared to be older and less polished than FF Tactics, but decided to give it a shot anyway.

I don't own a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics. I wouldn't sell my copy of Tactics Ogre for $200.

Sean

Actually, I did sell my Tactics Ogre for around $200 and never regretted it once. I knew someone really desperate--what else can I say?

I could say that my purchase of Dragon Warrior was pure gold, but then you would all know that anyways. I've picked up Mega Man Battle Network with the same results, as well as a few others. But then again I tend to be a find a release calendar and mark down everything that looks interesting and preorder them kind of guy.

But then again, God of War was an impulse buy that blew me away completely.

As far as I can recall, Star Ocean 2 was another such game. It's my favorite PS1 game of all time, but I don't remember hearing anything about it before purchasing it. However, the memory of that particular purchase has faded with time, probably because there wasn't any drama associated with it--copies of SO2 were freely available, but that copy of Tactics Ogre was the only one at Best Buy (I think it might not even have been on a shelf, but on a cart they were using to restock, or take stock away, from the shelves), and it's the only one I've ever seen in a store.

--Andrew, hoping there are plenty of other people with similar good luck stories.

Sean

I found my copies of Tactics Ogre and Ogre Battle in a small game store in Paris, France. The store had them marked down from around 600 francs to like 100. They were steals. I believe I also got my Wild Arms on that day. All three I eventually sold, but I only regret the Wild Arms sale.

Thanks for writing in, Andrew!



A vote for Mario RPG as first RPG


Howdy Matt

Thought I knock off some hot topics. The frist RPG i played was Mario rpg. I was roughly 7 and had a huge problem in even understanding how to play it. It was like nothing I ever played ever, I swear the only enjoyment I had was the mini-games and battling the "Power Ranger" knock offs. The first Rpg I could "understand" was years later and it was Xenosaga 1. Understand for xenosaga is a term I use loosely. The story and the music swept me away and since then 90% of my buys are RPG's. My main reason is action games are like 10 hours. 10 hours is a rental not a friggin game. If it takes less the 36 hours to finish an Rpg I feel slightly cheated.

Sean

That is an interesting first RPG. It was a fun game. I don't share your same dislike for action games as I find the majority of RPGs to be too long. A "AAA" action title can be excellent even if a little short. Why? They don't give you a chance to get bored of the gameplay.

2] Rpg's this fall I'm looking forward to... Zelda yet I'm in the camp that doesn't think it is an RPG. Kinda sad but all my Rpg's I'm looking forward to are not going to come for sometime. And the new ds games IMO have hardly been worth the download [god bless the R4]. To me we just got a medicore bunch with no production time, and zero story. Hell even a decent told recylce story would be nice... Ever consider using an R4?

Sean

What is an R4? No, I don't want to research it myself. Someone is bound to tell me anyways! My list of desires is in the pane on the right side of this page.

3] Longest i played and Rpg... maybe 8 hours. Not very hardcore, but hey guess what I'm not going to be someone who whines becuase we haven't got a new FF every year like we use to. They gave us 40 hours, with up to 60 and people zip thru it... please enjoy the thing. But alsa alot of my memories of finishing a game are at 6 am. When I feel it is in it's final 3 hour I gotta finsih it.

Sean

Yeah, I never understood the point of rushing a game just to be the first to finish it. I used to do that as a kid, but only when I rented something--and games were much shorter back then too.

4] TGS... Kingdom hearts 3, apparenty IGN says it will be annouced but I don't get why. Nomura is working on a Vs. Final fantasy. I don't need to be excited for a games coming out 3-4 years later, that's abit much. Also all the weird going ons with Eternal Sonata [sp] I think it is just to annouce for ps3 [NTSC] at TGS and not have their website leak it. I'm actually looking forward to the new Square game, which is if it is new and not a remake. I'll take a 6/10 game over a 7/10 remake so fingers crossed. Any hope on the style of the new game if it's a new iP?

Sean

Action RPG, I think. Infinite Undiscovery or something ridiculous like that. We have an interview up about it. I like remakes as they give me an excuse to play an old classic again, but come on! I like new games too sometimes...

5] Sountracks... Baten Kaitos, I've never played the game, downloaded the soundtrack on a whim and just loved it. Xenosaga 2 had a great soundtrack, I don't think it fit as well as say xenosaga 1 but the music is almost song structure unlike most soundtracks so its good for the ipod. Worst soundtrack was Radiata Stories mainly becuase nothing I can remember at all. Never thinking the music was good it was there and didn't annoy me, but talk about boring.

Excited about the Final fantasy fighting game for the PSP? I know you don't have the psp but is it something to watch for you? Also Smash brothers will have some 3rd party characters, if you had to pick a final fantasy character or RPG character who would you pick?

Sean

I do have a PSP and Dissidia is of interest to me, whereas Smash Brothers is not. If I had to pick, I would take a cactuar. Dunno why though. Thanks for writing in, Dan!



I like this guy.


Matt,

So, from what I've been reading for the past week, it seems that you're leaving QnA? Well, although my habit of writing in regularly faded once college started picking up more, rest assured that reading your columns has been something I've enjoyed greatly, and QnA won't be the same without you. It's been a pleasure, and best of luck to you in your endeavors!

Sean

Yes, he is leaving and I hope he has much fun. I am going to start pressuring him to add SOCK 3 to my column, but lets wait for him to finish SOCK 2 first, shall we?

Okay, so while on the subject of Final Fantasy Tactics, I think I'm probably setting myself up to be tarred and feathered when isay I didn't really like it that much. No, no, stopnoWAIT! Before everyone brings out the pitchforks and torches, let me qualify that statement by saying that I really don't care for TRPGs at all. Even Disgaea didn't really do anything for me... I generally find TRPGs too micro-managey to be enjoyable... for the same reason, I'm not an RTS fan, and can't stand Starcraft, either... uh, crud, I really AM a goner now, aren't I? Anyway, what I DO like is old-school, first person dungeon crawls. The PS2 Wizardry game and Etrian Odyssey rank very high on the list of Games DDX Enjoys. Of course, nobody can like everything, so I'm curious, what's your least favorite RPG sub-genre?

Sean

tRPGs for sure. I agree with you there, although there have been a few I like as they weren't too micro-managey, as you put it.

Oh, and finally, in response to Greg from your 9/19 column... I'm not JuMeSyn, but I'd recommend Albert Odyssey, Magic Knight Rayearth (Three posthumous cheers for Working Designs!), Dragon Force, Shining the Holy Ark (which takes after Shining in the Darkness, and is a first-person dungeon crawl instead of a TRPG like the rest of the old Shining Force series), and Shining Force III.

- DDX

Sean

He would probably kiss you, if he were to see that comment... Watch out. Thanks for writing in, DDX!



Who is Filmore Slime? Matt?


Hello Sean-

What it is boss hoggin'? I'm hoping that you'll allow me to flip your hot topic back at you backwards. I actually got to thinking about this the other day when Filmore Slime posted a quickie from another rpg site I hadn't seen before. So I went there to check it out and they had a newspost about an rpg being developed by Seth Green and Master P all about rising in the hip-hop ecology so to speak. You could be a rapper, an athlete, or several other context appropriate classes. Playboy, I think the game mechanics, graphics, etc., on this game could (and probably will be) pure garbage (sweet, sweet, garbage) and yet still I would play and enjoy this game. I mean, my favorite storyline in a videogame ever was in GTA San Andreas (the dialouge, the situations, all just felt so true to life) so this is right up my alley (where I'll be serving up satchels all night) so to speak. So my question to you is, is there a premise so good to you, that you could see yourself both playing and enjoying the game, even though by all objective standards it is garbage?

Looking forward to the Simpsons and such tonight as well,

Kezzy

Sean

Hi Kezzy. This game idea just bothers me on so many levels. But, who knows--we might get more RPGs if it turns out to be a hit. Ummm... try Kingdom Hearts.

Simpsons was actually quite good tonight, but I was disapointed in Family Guy. I found it boring.



Some corrections


You guys'll probably get about ten of these letters, but I figured I'd write in anyway. In the last column Sean wrote that to get the Zodiac Spear you can't open any chest in the game. This isn't true. To get the spear all you have to do is avoid opening three chests near the very start of the game and then one somewhere on the Phon Coast. It's really not that hard as long as you know how to use the internet (I don't know how Squenix expected anyone to figure it out otherwise). Second, Mar-kwiss is not an incorrect pronunciation of Marquis. A visit to your local dictionary website will show you that Mar-key and Mar-kwiss are both perfectly acceptable pronunciations. It just depends on whatever blows your hair back, and in this case, the translators must've preferred mar-quiss to mar-key.

-mechabomber

Sean

A friend of mine told me about the four chests and then followed it up with saying that it is best to just avoid them all. Anyways, it isn't about the chests really, but rather that there is a such a stupid ultimate weapon with an unrealistic method of getting it. I might be wrong, but not a single person ever said anything about it anywhere in the game. I hate it when they do that.

I need to check up on proper pronunciations before I say anything like that again. Then again, I do live in a primarily French area, so I kind of assumed it was correct without looking. Sorry. mechabomber, I'll try not to do it again. Thanks for writing in though!



Kingdom Hearts: Horrible premise?


Howdy,

In regards to the game premise topic, I'm sure many will flame me for this, but the Kingdom Hearts series doesn't really win favorites in my book in terms of its premise, basically involving endless crossovers with a plot that attempts to be serious. I honestly have found the series embarrassing to play, and I really wouldn't want to get caught dead by any of my family playing them. I finished them largely because my track record in finishing games I've started is mostly spotless. I also don't really see any artistic merit in a crossover storyline that tries to be serious, although I wouldn't have minded them so much if the story of the Kingdom Hearts series was far more humorous and upbeat, kind of like in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", which did have a somewhat serious story but didn't actually *try* to take itself seriously.

Regards,

Duke Gallison

Sean

I do agree with you on this one. But even with the faulty premise, it does deliver on so many levels. I loved the first one, and the other two a little less. I did turn off the tv and quickly switch to my PC whenever I heard my parents approach though--I just didn't want to risk my image... Thanks for writing in, Duke!



Dead series


1. I guess I'll go the obvious route and state series like Lufia, Chrono, Mother, Diablo, Orge Battle, Baulder's Gate, Seikein Densetsu, and Phantasy Star (yes, I do realize that these last two aren't really dead, but they may as well be dead to me for obvious reasons). What you said about Golden Sun holds true for me as well. I also wish that RPGs like Shadowrun, Vagrant Story, Car Battler Joe, and Skies if Arcadia could have become series, but don't have a single sequel. Are there any one-hit wonders like this for you as well?

Sean

Brave Story--but it is still too soon for that one to sprout sequels. I always wanted a proper sequel to Skies of Arcadia. I am sure there are more of them, but I can't think of any right now. Maybe Jade Empire? That one deserves a follow-up for sure. A proper sequel to Might and Magic IX would be nice too.

2. Knowing how I am with KOTOR, I'm definitely hyped for Mass Effect.

Everything about its depth of character customization, nonlinear plot, space drama, and consequences of player actions truly sounds like it's the next- gen KOTOR that I've been waiting for without actually being a KOTOR title.

Eternal Sonata looks great too, and I'm willing to give Blue Dragon a chance, as many of the things that people criticize it for actually sound like GOOD things to me, even the vocalized boss track (!). I've heard nothing but glowing praise for Bioshock; it really does sound like it might as well be titled System Shock 3. But it sure sucks that all of the RPGs that I want are for systems that I don't have.

Sean

Heh, I hear you. I am contemplating a 360 purchase. It wouldn't occur before the end of the semester, but I do want one to play Mass Effect though. I am really undecided and can swing any which way at any moment. I might need to keep a point tracker up or something.

3. Probably six or seven hours straight, and with games like Secret of Mana, Kingdom Hearts, Diablo, and Tales of. Truth be told, I can only seem to play action RPGs for very long periods of time. I find that with turn-based RPGs, it difficult to do so without getting a little too tired of battling because of the repitition. That's not to say that action RPGs can't also get repetitive, but I don't know. Maybe I need more frequent button-pressing to keep my attention for extended periods of time. Maybe I'm akin to the gamers that Matt D. described on Monday after all?

Sean

It could be simple adrenaline or just the motion of hitting the buttons more often and physically dodging attacks that keep your in the game.

4. I really want to see more of any of the RPGs announced for next-gen systems, and see how they use the extra muscle to advance RPGaming. But again, it sucks when you don't have the systems for the games you want.

Sean

Look at it this way. When the decent games get released you might just have the correct system. Unless you need something now, you can always just wait...

5. Do you even have to ask? As Marge Simpson says, "Growing up means giving up everything that makes you happy." It's like the law of nature, unless you somehow take what you love doing and integrate it into your career. That's why I'm jealous of video game testers.

FirstAid

Sean

Game testers have it hard. I used to date one. She was testing Prince of Persia for three months at 12-14 hours a day plus the occasional weekend. I couldn't stand playing a game for that long. Ick. It just scares me. Plus, I don't think my love of games could survive that, if I was forced to do just that. Thanks for writing in!





True story: when I read the report about the new Kingdom Hearts games and read that the main protagonist for Birth by Sleep would be named Terra, my eyes literally froze on the name for about ten whole seconds. Considering that this game was coming from Square-Enix and not another company, I immediately thought "Could that be who I think it is?" At the time, it seemed so likely that it could indeed be who I thought it was, as it would seem weird to me for them to have two different characters with the same name, even though I know full well that her name is really Tina. Of course, that thought was layed to rest once I read the last sentence of the paragraph, "it sounds as though HE may have been a friend of Sora and Riku."

So yeah, there goes that brief fantasy.

I know that sounded weird, but can I help the fact that FFVI is my favorite game ever?

FirstAid

Sean

Actually it would be pretty cool to play as Terra in a Kingdom Hearts game. I would just love it to death. And no, you cannot help it. Sorry for double-posting your letters, but I felt the need to clear my backlog.



QUICKIES

Hey there, Sean
I've been writing to Matt a lot, I think I should write to you, too.
Because you look lonely and stuff.
Final Jeopardy, a few days ago, in the category of Historic Purchases:
"The English received this teenager from the Burgundians in 1431 for the sum of 10,000 francs" I was wondering if such an event happens in the video game version, but I don't have a PSP so I can't find out. I did see a couple copies of the game at the local video game store, though.
Hope you're well, and stuff. Have fun with your contest!
-CW

Sean
I didn't play it yet, so I don't know. I also won't pour through FAQs to find out. Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Hi Matt,
I love Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter's music, and it's no wonder you do too! I didn't like the game that much at first, but now I love it. A much-appreciated Christmas present indeed.
-Kharamain

Sean
An excellent gift, in my opinion. The music in that game was highly enjoyable. I remember it fitting the mood really well.

Hi Matt,
what do you think of piano music in games? Good, bad? Depends on the situation? I myself think it can be really powerful. See Xenosaga 3.
-Kharamain

Sean
It really depends on the context. As long as it fits the scene, I am ok with it.

Hi Matt,
the music in Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter is some of the best music ever. I listen to it rather frequently, I must say! Oh and if Sean is answering this, a while ago he asked me what my nickname meant. It's what you'd call someone from the planet Kharama, which is a planet in the game I made for RPG Maker. There you have it.
-Kharamain

Sean
Hmmm, I would have never expected such a reasoning for it, but I will take it. Thanks for the explanation!

Draconn cares, but you donīt! You havenīt changed it!
- Alael

Sean
Sorry... I forgot. I guess I was just too tired to update the little things. I made sure to do so today.

Hi Matt,
Breath of Fire 3's soundtrack? Was different from the rest, that's for sure.. It kinda... was likeable at times, but not very memorable. Some tracks are great to listen to though! Also, the Japanese voices in them were strange, but mostly because half of them were little kids. Though half of the Japanese voices sound like kid voices anyway... but yeah. Strange game.
-Kharamain

Sean
Except for Momo, I don't like Breath of Fire 3 much. I was disapointed in it from start to finish. I think we all have such experiences. At the time it was my only new game and it had cost me a lot of money to get so I had to finish it. It took a long time, if I recall.

I admit that I'm pretty surprised that not many (or any) people have responded to the hot topic of how they got their start in the RPG genre with FFVII. Is it that RPGamer somehow doesn't attract those kinds of Final-Fantasy-only and post-FFVII RPG fans, and instead attracts the more hardcore RPG fans who have been playing RPGs well before FFVII, and play more than just FF? If so, why do you think that happens?

Sean
I would assume that most people started in the PS1 era with one of the FF games. They are the norm now. Anyways, I guess they must all be on the various forums across the web flaming people. I am surprised we haven't seen any initial WoWers yet...



IN CLOSING

Ok, this was a long column. I ended up putting down my DS about twelve letters ago just to get this done. I need to get up in five hours for work, so I will need to put this to rest now. Good night everyone!

Peace out!



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gorne@rpgamer.com
Sean had a ton of fun watching the first shows of the new season.


Sorry, I guess I forgot about this section the last time. I hope I made up for it this time.

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