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Column 19: An Early Start
September 28th, 2007

Sean - 9:04pm EDT

Well, class was short tonight and I got home close to an hour early--with bbq chicken. I wolfed it down really quickly because it was really good.

The past week saw me writing a review after finishing Etrian Odyssey. It was a hard game with a nasty boss that I was able to trivialize. It was awesome!

I have an exam this week so the columns will be shortish as I am planning to study a lot. On top of that there is a family event that I have to go to this weekend, but to compensate I have a couple days off of work. I'll tell you all about it after the exam on Friday.

Let's get to the letters!

First of five, I think.


So I feel really bad about not writing in for the past couple weeks but it's not entirely my fault! And seeing as how the reason has to do with one Matt's topics a while back I figured I'd regale you with it. It has to do not so much with a power outage but with an internet outage.


I hate Internet outtages. And it is ok to not write in sometimes, but don't make it a habit or I will hate you.

See, two weekends ago I fully intended to write you a decent sized letter but lo and behold my wireless connection on my laptop went out! I was rather irritated because that also meant I couldn't play Sword of the New World and thus my weekend of video game playing and letter writing was shot. I spent many an hour trying to figure out what the problem was: my computer network was set up correctly, the router was working properly, there was a wireless signal out there I just wasn't picking it up for some reason. To make a long story short (and much less frustrating than it was in real life) I finally figured out that for some reason if I had the router facing my laptop the wireless connection wouldn't work, but once I turned it away, it worked fine. Maybe my laptop and the router got in a fight and don't want to talk face-to-face anymore? Technology baffles me, I don't even pretend to understand anymore.


Make sure that the antenna is attached properly and you might need to reset the router's firmware, especially if it is a D-Link.

"That's all well and good, Koala Bob, but what about last weekend? Where were my letters then?" I know, Sean, I feel bad about that too. Would it help if I told you I was abducted by space aliens (I was born in Roswell, NM after all so it's entirely within the realm of possibilty) and put through a ruthless test of anal probing? It would be a lie, but would it help anyway? The truth is, I slacked off and spent the weekend wandering from bar to bar in Chicago doing my best to avoid the fervent Cub fans, or at least not let them know that I detest baseball. It was good times.


Baseball is ok, but only during the playoffs. Non-important games are just boring. But kudos on the fun in Chicago!

But! I am writing now and I'm making it my goal to write you a letter every day this week until Saturday rolls around! If I do it can I win a prize? Even if it's a gold star I'll be happy.


Heh, contestants don't invent their own prizes. And I wouldn't say anything in advance, regardless. I don't give out gold stars.

Regardless, now I'd like to answer a question you posed me quite a while back concerning more information about the book series I mentioned I'd like to see made into a video game. The series is by Fred Saberhagen and consists of 11 books, the first 3 books are called the Book of Swords and the next 8 are called the Book of Lost Swords. Basically, there are these 12 swords (Dragonslicer, Coinspinner, Shieldbreaker, Stonecutter, Sightblinder, Doomgiver, Farslayer, Mindsword, Townsaver, Soulcutter, Woundhealer, Wayfinder) with different powers forged by the gods and then given to mortals. The idea the gods have is that since they're bored, they'll give mortals these powerful swords and then sit back and watch them kill each other and bet on the outcome. The hitch is that the swords were made too well and actually end up being capable of killing the gods as well, so things get a little complicated.


Premise is good. I'm adding it to my list of books to read. Cool names too! There was a Dragonlance book where demons bet on whether a lowly hobgoblin could become noble. I laughed so hard when reading that one.

The series not only has some really cool swords (most of their powers are self-evident from their names but if you want more info look up Fred Saberhagen at wikipedia there's some decent info there) but also some decent intrigue between various countries and city-states as well as some interesting religious concepts. All in all a very good read and I think it would provide a great deal of material for a decent game, if it were made correctly.


I could see the main guy inheriting a sword and then needing to protect it from someone trying to build a personal army of warriors wielding god-killing swords. Unless of course they want to follow the plot from the books and ruin all my fun!

That's the thing though, it has to be made decently. In general, I'm of the opinion that any game made after a movie pretty much sucks because it seems like the game designers expect the game to sell merely because of the hype of the movie (the exception to this are the LEGOs Star Wars games, I love those games), so I'd be afraid someone making a game after a book would do the same thing. But then Peter Jackson defied my expectations with the Lord of the Rings movies so maybe it's possible for someone to make a decent game from a book, they just need to take it seriously and actually make a complete game and not just a pseudo game that only people who read the book would even get.


Not all adaptations are that bad! Now to come up with a good example... The Dragonheart game didn't suck! And... ummm... Ok, I can't figure out anymore. I will think of some later. Like Return of the King. Boo-yah!

And in conclusion, to answer the first of your hot topics regarding the worst premise of a video game I ever played: a sorceress from the future...need I say anything else? And honestly, triple triad was the only reason I finished FFVIII and the only reason I still occasionally play the game, otherwise the game is a a complete travesty.

Koala Bob


I never got a Shiva card. Otherwise, I had the rest of them. All of them. You can honestly say I was hooked to that card game. The rest of the game not so much. You have another letter coming up below, so we'll continue this later.

Yep, true dat.


You are looking liike your in need for some letters so thought I'd help out. I believe your Canadian and a ps3 owner? Well I bought my Ps3 at EB and they actually have the stones to charge 100 bucks for a 1 year warranty. What they don't tell you is Sony provides the same thing for free, so I'd thought I'd let other canadians know about this practice. My ps3 stopped working when i tried to update and the system stalled.


They have the extended warranty just to make a quick buck, but they are still handy. If your system breaks, you would normally have to send it in to Sony. In that case it could take a while to get it back. EB will just give you a new one, if it happens.

Worst premise, ummm Radiata Stories had one option in story-line for you following people commiting genocide to the orc population, though they tried to play it off in a different fashion. That was one of the ones I finished. The other which i didn't complete was Grandia 3, while the game was fun to battle the monsters, they should of let you fight the creature that came up with the last 1/2 of the story. I swear they tried to create the most cliche characters ever.

A family guy RPG isn't something I would like. The Simpsons world could mange an Rpg but the Simpsons games outside of "ht and Run" and the arcade would not be worth any players time.


True dat. Grandia 3 was a lot of fun, but man... it could have used a better cast. Incredible game nonetheless.

I'm fairly annoyed by the lack of next-generation RPG games. It seems most companies will look at the hand-held see a cheaper way to produce a 30-40 hour game and appeal to old-school gamer by having dated graphics. This is mostly true for the DS more then the PSP. If and RPG is going to be nest-generation I honestly see them going either all out like a Final Fantasy and bringing the cheaper non-epics to the handheld market. Agree?


I am annoyed too. I think I might get Eternal Sonata and a system to play it on. I don't need the dress up game that will be in the PS3 version. I think I like that the RPGs are coming out for handhelds. I have an easier time to convince my girlfriend to let me play the PSP and DS than anything else. As for the release plan, I expect it to be so. At least for now.

Are you also worried about the bigger names in Square-enix spreading themselves thin? Nomura has 3 KH games [co-direction] and Final Fantasy vs. While the next main installment in FF is being made by the man who gave us FFX-2. I'd far rather wish we had less games from SE but with more polish. Does the world need FF4 and DQ4 being remade now? When DQ9 and a bunch of FF13 games. Why not make the new one in the series more of a priority and have 1 KH, 1 DQ, and 1 FF game in the works. Instead of endless side-projects.


As long as people are happy, I am happy with it. I just wish they would stop the cell phone games... Anyways, I like the thought of them doing a lot of things at the same time. There is something for everyone coming out. I actually want the DQ remakes. And that is just a fraction of what Matt likely feels.

Wild Arms sure is great!

Hey Sean! I feel compelled to write a bit about my experience so far with Wild ARMs 5 since you are playing it as well!

I've sort of stumbled onto copious amounts of time to play the game and it has kept me surprisingly invested. First off, isn't the music just great?!?


Yep. I love the whistling.

Also, because the fourth game was almost mind-numbingly easy (I think I defeated the final boss in one hit?!??) I've purposefully under-leveled my characters. I ran away from pretty much every battle except boss battles and turned off the encounters as soon as possible. This strategy has led to some truly epic boss battles - topped by a slug-fest last night that I lost after an hour because I made one stupid mistake and the AI actually capitalized on that mistake?!? When does THAT ever happen?

But best of all, the game is funny. Always fun to play a game with a sense of humor.



I need to play the fourth one still. I think I am close to ten levels above where I should be now, but I still almost wipe out every now and then. I like to turn the encounters off from time to time now. That helps speed up overworld exploration. Thanks for writing in!

Kickin' it Old Skool--Can you tell what I had on the tv while writing this?

Hey Sean!

I thought you could do with a letter, so here I am~

Have you played Rogue Galaxy? What a fun little game it's turning out to be!

I prefer action RPG's so it's right up my street (I'm not keen on tactical/strategy RPG's, too much micro managing and leveling for my tastes). It's quite a lengthy game as well. I brought it as soon as it came out 2 weeks ago (me being a PAL gamer) and it seems as though I've got a ways to go. It has a fun battle system although it can be a bit of a button basher, but that may be just me and has likeable characters who have light hearted moments. I never realised what a sexy voice Steve Blum has~ (Voicing Zegram in Rogue Galaxy) It's only problem may be that it has such a predictable story line! Well, maybe not all of it, but I can see most of what's going to happen. Not that it's all bad, it did have that "Wow!!" moment in the middle that really blew me away, I love it when it goes into FMV moments and you get the full cell shaded graphics. It's really beautiful.


I picked it up when it released, but never really tried it out except to make sure it worked. It will be played eventually. I'm glad to hear that you are so taken with it, though!

So Rogue Galaxy has a thumbs up from me so far, I'm desprate to hear all about Jaster >_> Maybe I will when I wonder into Rosa desert... again!

Don't you love moments in RPG's when they blow you away with a big plot point or cool FMV's? It's what I live for in RPG's, and a major factor for what I feel makes them "epic" (a subject that came up awhile ago). Shadow hearts 2, Star Ocean 3, Dragon Quest VIII, Kingdom Hearts 1+2, FFVII, FFIX, FFVIII (which I hate) had them. This a huge reason why I thought FFXII's story has really poor, it was missing this element I feel... Do you need those moments in RPG's?

I hope to write again soon!! But I wonder why space pirate ships need sails...

Lady Bahamut


They need sails so you can see the skull and crossbones! Big plot points usually make me gasp audibly, put the controller down and just sit back to ponder it. It is even more apparent when the plot point was unexpected! Thanks for writing in, Milady!

Part two.


Thus continues my week long letter writing saga! Day 2 promises to be filled with more content and less excuses.

When last we spoke I told you about my internet outage problems, well one side-effect of that issue was that I finally got around to buying me a portable system. I had been debating between getting a PSP and DS for some time now but haven't had anything to really push me to make a decision but now I finally had a reason. So I made my way to the local EB Games and took a gander at the game selection and much to my surprise I only found one game, Final Fantasy III, for the DS that I was actually really wanting to play, everything else was rather 'meh' to me. And then I took a look at the PSP selection and there was Brave Story, Jeanne d'Arc, Riveria, Dungeons & Dragons: Tactics, Generations of Chaos, not to mention the FF Tactics remake. Suffice to say I picked up a PSP and I got Jeanne d'Arc to go along with it (what can I say, I like tactic games).


I started D&D Tactics and I am having too much fun with it now. Get that one too. How is Jeanne?

Thus far I'm very pleased with my choice. I'm very surprised at the gameplay quality of the PSP, the only other portable system I have is a gameboy advanced and while I thought that was nice the PSP is much better, things have definitely improved. And Jeanne d'Arc was exactly the game I needed to take my mind away from my internet outage woes. The story is definitely the shining point of the game and especially since I was a French History buff at college I'm enjoying some of the things they're doing (obviously they're taking some poetic license with some things but I always equated the English with ravaging demons so I'm okay with that). The main beef I have with the game is the lack of character optimization. The only things (at least as far as I've gotten in the game) you can change about your characters is their equipment and their skills and I've gone 3-4 battles without getting upgrades to either of those two things. Since it is a tactic game I want to be able to customize my characters to better strategize my gameplay, as things stand the game difficulty is fairly easy and doesn't involve a whole lot of strategy whatsoever. But maybe that will improve the farther I get into the game.


I heard that Jeanne was nasty hard, especially towards the end. I can't wait to hear your view on it!

I am enjoying it though and I'm looking forward to playing Brave Story, especially since you've been raving about it. Unfortunately, it'll have to take a back seat to the FF Tactics remake since I am very much looking forward to that. Personally, I think the translation is going to be spectacular, and come on I'll now have access to the Dark Knight and an Onion Knight! How cool is that? I'm intentionally setting my hopes high for the game, since what do I have to lose? If it sucks I can always fall back on the PS version, it's a win-win in my books.


Forget that game--you've played it before. Play Brave Story instead. It'll be worth it.

Anyway, that's it for me, but in conclusion, to answer you 2nd hot topic regarding a Simpsons or Family Guy RPG, all I have to say

Koala Bob


On second thought, I don't think I would want to see any either, but you never know what they will come up with next! Thanks for writing in! We'll all be seeing you tomorrow!


Hey about the Simpsons Rpg in the new Simpsons game, there is numerous videogame parodies including an Rpg Pokemon with Homer vs. Jimbo. I think that's a close as we will get.

Yeah, and lets hope for our souls that it is.

In the 09/22/07 column, you said:
"The Excalibur II, if I recall. Reach the end of the game in less than 14 hours. I heard it was only possible with cheating, or skipping all the FMVs." One question for you: Does skipping FMVs = Cheating? I think the developers want you to do a run of the game specifically to get that item. Also, one guy beat Final Fantasy 9 in 8:32. Check out There you can, if you are so inclined, download a video (An 8 hr, 32 minute video) of the run. The guy skips all the cutscenes, but only uses in-game bugs (No cheats).
Also you said Harvest Moon is the RPG series for girls. I have to agree with you there: I was listening to RPGCast and it seems Paws is the only one who seems to like the series.
Also, thanks for the treatise on how to pronounce "Marquis." Who said you can't learn anything by reading Q&A?

Skipping FMVs does not equal cheating, but using a Gameshark is. I won't watch an eight hour video... God it must be boring. I would rather play the game myself! My ex tried to get me into it--I got bored in like twenty minutes. By the way, I learn stuff here all the time. Just look at SOCK2!


Well, I am tired now. Going to go to bed and get up extra early to start studying. It will be great! I do plan on doing a bit of Eternal Sonata rummaging though this weekend. The plan is that if I can find the game, it means that I am destined to buy it. And a 360. Am I crazy, or what? Anyways, until tomorrow everyone!

Peace out!

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Sean thinks he can write a review a week.

St Hubert chicken tastes good, but I think I prefer Côte St Luc BBQ more.

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