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ASK SEAN
Column 21: Short Week Ahead
September 30th, 2007

Sean - 9:07pm EDT

So that makes two columns in one day. It is ok. I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons Tactics recently and I like it so far. I am currently level four. I wrote a third review today, so today has been an RPGamer day.

I think I get a little about what Matt says about game music. I watched the Final Fantasy Retrospectives yesterday and a couple things hit me. A tear came to my eye when the the opera scene was playing and the FF10 music just started pulling at my heart strings. Man... I miss those games.

Let's get to the letters!




LETTERS
And apparently it is Friday now...


Sean,

Today's letter is inspired by pen and paper roleplaying games, mainly because that's still what my Friday evenings consist of playing. I honestly can't remember which came first for me: videogame RPGs or pen and paper RPGs and I suspect it's pretty much a question of the chicken or the egg and not very important at that, but regardless they both hold an important place in my heart. Pen and paper RPGs are definitely unique in that they provide the opportunity to socialize for people who are ultimately rather anti-social. One of the reasons I think MMORPGs initially appealed to me in fact, I could chat to people while not actually associating with anyone.

Sean

Yeah, it was the same thing for me. MMOs replaced our Friday night sessions when we moved apart. Right now I am playing Dungeons and Dragons Tactics and it is reminding me heavily of our old sessions. That and I just got a full understanding of which rules we didn't understand and/or didn't bother using.

I'm always on the look-out for RPGs that combine the traditional pen and paper into a videogame and as such I remember being really excited about Neverwinter Nights when it was first coming out. Admittedly, I was majorly disappointed when I played the actual game (I was expecting a storyline along the lines of Baldur's Gate and certainly did not get it) but after a while I was very happy with the quality of fan created modules that started appearing out there. I think Neverwinter Nights really showcased how there's a huge number of creative people out there who if given the right tools can create wonderful games on par with many up and coming titles. I think it was really cool that Bioware did contests/job searches using their tool set as an entry method and I really hope that the winners of such contests get a chance to showcase their talents.

Sean

I applied for a job with those tools. It was a funny story. I wrote a module as a submission just after getting four wisdom teeth removed and while under the effects of multiple painkillers. It worked, but man was I messed up. I had to send them a FAQ on it for them to finish it. I didn't get the job, because they didn't want to relocate me, or so they said.

I played some of the premium modules, but never much of the fan-created stuff. I just didn't want to have to set it all up.

I was thinking about picking up Neverwinter Nights 2 but I didn't do so mainly because everything I've read has indicated that the game is fairly buggy and the last thing I want to do is buy a game and then have to navigate my way through a horde of bugs to just to play it. The expansion is coming out soon and that's supposed to fix a lot of the problems so I might pick it up once it comes out, but we'll just have to see. Do you have any sort of insight regarding this? (I have this pre-conceived notion that upon becoming a QnA host you immediately gain access to all kinds of inside information)

Sean

No, I don't have any inside information. I did play through Neverwinter Nights 2 and only saw one bug during the game.

I guess my main appeal for both pen and paper gaming sessions and videogame RPGs that (successfully) mimic them is that they are rather episodic. You can deal with them in some doses and in those small doses you have a nice mix of combat, interaction, exploration/puzzles, and, of course, treasure. You can throw in an overarching plot to tie all together and, honestly, what more does anyone need?

Koala Bob out!

Sean

Some people would say "character development", but we know better. I like my games with accurate journals and the freedom to do what I like. Thanks for writing in, Mr. Bob. I think for your efforts... you deserve a prize!



Hello, JuMeSyn! Send me your address so I can send you your prize!


Howdy doody Sean. Not a very eventful week for me in the world of gaming. Presumably yours, based upon the review prominence, was better.

I've got a pattern to keep up, so here we go with another fabulous anime theme: http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/6316/1 I like Megumi Hayashibara's stuff for the most part. Slayers I would also presumably like, though it's a big series that I haven't made myself devote time to yet.

Sean

Heh, I love those Slayers songs. If you haven't seen it yet, do so now. They just re-released the first season!

While playing FFV, I thought this: does it set some kind of record for gaining methods of transport other than foot power, then losing them? Consider: Chocobo told to run away, pirate ship caught in a whirlpool, flying dragon left behind by warp zone, fire-powered ship sunk by earthquake's effects - have I left anything out?

Sean

Didn't FF4 have more things crash and burn? I never bothered counting them though.

I think I'm gonna give Skies of Arcadia: Legends to a friend for her birthday. She's got a GC on which she's been playing a lot of Harvest Moon, time to give her something else. Her RPG credentials are pretty scanty, making me think this is a good hook.

Sean

Yes, give her something good. Break her of her horrible Harvest Moon habit!

Oh, and BLG: I do enjoy that link you sent Matt on Friday. Perhaps a bit too much, the Bible games bit I found funnier than I had ever expected. What makes Moses able to lift so many animals at once? We may never know.

Next phase in the backlog enumeration: Dreamcast. In the English corner we have Silver, D-2 (disc scratch means I'll probably have to replace it), Crazy Taxi, Space Channel 5, Bangai-O, and Resident Evil: Code Veronica (which I may just give up on, hard to say). In the Japanese corner we have Super Robot Wars Alpha, Langrisser Millennium, Sunrise Eiyuutan, and Seventh Cross. Future purchases for the system include Shenmue, Shenmue 2, Record of Lodoss War, Despiria, hopefully the seven installments of Eldorado Gate, Black/Matrix Advance, and Segagaga.

Sean

I liked Record of Lodoss War. Too bad they had no way to kill the volume of the footsteps.

If the slight lack of length dispirits you, it is because I want to maximize sleep when I have a 5:00 start tomorrow. May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

JuMeSyn

Sean

I am hoping to get this column completed soon, as I gave myself an 11pm deadline. I am really tired. Hope you get some good sleep and thanks for writing in!



Where did QnAppretice go?


Hey Sean. Thought I'd drop a letter in your box sometime, seeing that I'd written Matt a couple already and that I really should say hi to you, the other host on the column.

I'm not sure this topic is taboo, but if it is, just throw out this paragraph. Just wanted to ask, WHAT HAPPENED TO Q&Apprentice?! I'd been following the contest pretty closely for two rounds, and was waiting for the third round, which never came. Then silence. Then the next thing I know, you're the weekend host. Nothing against you of course - you're a dedicated host, I remember you writing the second round column almost singlehandedly - but I do feel the RPGamer readership is owed an explanation for this travesty of a contest.

Sean

I spoke about this a while ago. The contest didn't work and I was offered the job. Further details I can't say or I might get killed.

What's your favourite RPG subgenre?

I'm a small-time gamer, but my place in RPG land would have to be TRPGs. Probably the first RPG I ever played was an obscure little Taiwanese game known as Flame Dragon 2: Legend of Golden Castle for the PC. Nice story, EXCELLENT graphics, but not very good game design, with too many characters (31). Very similar to Shining Force, but sans Egress capabilities, making the possibility of underleveling a major problem late-game, especially if you don't grind aggressively (eg letting enemies hit your characters and then healing them with your healers, or vice versa - hitting enemies repeatedly and letting their priests do their job) or are indecisive about your party's makeup.

Sean

Sounds nasty to my ears. I am not a big fan of sRPGs! I like traditional turn-based RPGs the most, I suppose. Viva Brave Story!

I never completed the game. I still have it, but can't play it any more due to the game's XMS requirement (it's for DOS). *sobs* Since then, my (small) repertoire includes Shining Force (1 and 2), FFTA - I actually do like the law system because it forces me to use my brain with regards to battle tactics and party skill setup, and Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation, which I'm still playing. Besides TRPGs, I also like non-RPG tactical games: I grew up playing the Daisenryaku series on my Genesis, and I still like Advance Wars now.

Sean

I liked FFTA--100%'d it a long time ago. Can't you emulate the XMS using some tool? I believe you can...

That's all for now. Shall head off and go do some work on the upcoming Grand Audition round.

See ya,

-Virtuoso

Sean

Good luck! Thanks for writing in!



I need to read a letter before I title it. Sorry, man.


Sean,

I've had this question about Wild Arms 5 ever since I watched its first trailer. Does it remind anyone of Skies of Arcadia? I haven't played it myself yet, but everything that I see and read about it always gives me Skies of Arcadia déjà vu. This is particularly true with the main trio of characters, Rebecca and Avril really reminding me of Aika and Fina (and they even resemble each other appearance-wise). Aika and Rebecca are the spunky, redheaded, pig-tailed childhood friends of the main protagonists of their respective games, and may even like said protagonists, and Fina and Avril are the mysterious, soft-spoken, elegantly-dressed girls from the sky, with long, white/blond hair, and have pasts that are a mystery to everyone. Am I mistaken in any of my conceptions?

Sean

The game seems more like Wild Arms 3 than Skies of Arcadia to me. It might just be my memory, but it really does. Rebecca is a bit more mature than Aika was, and Avril is just so much cooler. Otherwise, the setup is as you say.

You know, even if I'm not mistaken, I actually wouldn't consider the similarities a bad thing. I found the cast of Skies of Arcadia to be really likeable, so I should feel the same way towards Wild Arms 5 too. It also seems like they made the love triangle theme much more pronounced too, and I'm a sucker for such things.

Sean

Bah, it frustrates me. I don't like the dense.

How did you feel about the Family Guy season premiere? I don't know, it's just that nowadays, I really feel that any show that makes a Star Wars parody episode this late into its life is desperately running out of ideas, and just turning to the obvious way out. The making of Star Wars parody episodes may have been cool for some time, but man, it's thirty freaking years later. To me, the concept has gotten old and done to death, especially all the jokes about the Death Star architectural flaws and Luke-Leia kiss.

Sean

In its defense, they were making fun of Robot Chicken, so yeah. Tonight's was good though. I will miss Drew, though. The Star Wars episode... I had to watch a second time and it did not get better.

But maybe it's just me.

FirstAid

(And would it have made more sense for Meg to have played Leia?)

Sean

Maybe, but they needed to make fun of her anyways. She was a sewer worm or something. I am not quite sure. So it is ok. Anyways, Chris + Lois is just as bad. Thanks for writing in, FirstAid!



An actual Irish gamer? Wow!


Hey Matt/Sean,

I've written in before, to Matt in fact, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in yet again. Loving the pair of you, will be sorry to see you leave Matt! Read Matt talking bout maybe getting a PSP. I just got one, even though I have a huge backlog, because of all the new RPGs coming out for. Some games are ports but I've never had a chance to play the originals, so for me, they are all new games and worth buying. I'll admit it, I am a Nintendo fanboy through and through. I'm always preordering their consoles and best games, but I felt I should stop limiting myself to one system, I am missing so many other games out there by being a strict Nintendo fan. Doesn't mean I love Nintendo any less, but I do have one issue with them, which is the reason for this email.

Sean

Hmmm.... interesting. I bought a PSP for the same reason. I like it too much lately.

Now, I'm an Irish gamer, which means I'm stuck in PAL. PAL is not a gamer's friend, it really isn't, especially with Nintendo. Aye, the DS isn't region locked, as far as I am aware, but that's the DS. I love mine to pieces and take it everywhere with me, but the wii. Being a PAL gamer really sucks if you play the Wii or any other region locked console. First of all, we may not even get the game. Sure, Japan has loads of games which never get to America, but even less reach us in PAL land. I am a huge fan of the Tales of series, but so few of them have made it over here; though more are coming with ports and stuff. Reading your website gets me all excited for some class games and then I find out they are never going to be released outside of America and Japan, that really sucks.

Sean

I used to live in Germany and I know the pain. But, I modded my system and imported the games I wanted to play. Later I just bought a system in Canada and brought it back home with me.

Secondly, even if the game is released, they generally release it months after the other regions. We are still waiting for Metroid Prime 3. It won't be out until the end of october! I know this is due to all the languages having to be added and stuff, including a revamp English script to fit with our spellings, etc. It still pretty much sucks. The amount of times I had to skip through your posts because of FFXII spoilers because I hadn't even started playing the game since it hadn't been released in the UK. Things like that make reading a Pacific games website really annoying, sometimes. Still the best website for RPG news, so I wouldn't go anywhere else.

This is one of the reasons I bought a PSP. It's not region locked, I can get all those games I might have missed before and now I will be able to enjoy all the wonderful RPGs that you lot do.

Sean

Get a PS3 then. It is region free. Even for us over here, some games never seem to get out here. They just take too long.

So, my questions for you are: what do you think of PAL gamers situations? Do you think we should chip our consoles to be able to play foreign games? Some people buy foreign consoles to do it, you think that is a good idea? Me, i'm loyal to my country so I buy our version and generally don't chip cause of the damage I could cause my poor wee consoles.

Sean

Buy both then. Get the local release when it comes out soon enough, but otherwise pick up the import. It is what I would do, anyways.

On the topic of backlog for video games; well, I hate completing games. The amount of times I get to the final boss and then restart is silly. I just hate finishing a game and then knowing it's over. I really enjoy the journey and exploring and never want it to end. Sad, really. I have about 20 games on the PS2 waiting, 15 on the DS, 15 on the GC, 15 on the N64, 10 GBA games left, 4 Wii ones and 4 on the PS. However, this backlog continues to grow as I have just bought 5 games for the PSP and have 16 games waiting for my paycheck so I can buy them from Amazon.co.uk. Of course, these are all very rough guesstimates about the state of my backlog, it is probably far worse.

Sean

Not really that bad, unless they are all near completion. I could never do that. The fact that poor Overlord sits near the end for this long is just a coincidence and can be blamed on Wild Arms 5!

How do you work through your backlog, if at all? I've too much studying to do during terms to play games that often, so I usually get all my gaming done during the holidays. I pick a game and stick with it until I've completed it.. On the PS2 I am playing Digital Devil Saga and FFXII (reason for two is that I live in ireland, study in london, and didn't take DDS with me to London...). I've nearly completed DDS, just working on getting all the abilities and some side quests. I've got its sequel waiting as well. FFXII, well, I'm just about to fight the second storyline esper, so. On the DS I am working on Pokemon, currently. The GBA sees me switching between Fire Emblem and Riviera: The Promised Land. The GC I am working on Metroid Prime 1, I got those games very late, heh. PSP I haven't started yet as I lack a memory card and no shops have any at the moment. PS I am working on FFVIII; nearly completed it once, but again, hated finishing so restarted. I really love that game and Squall. He may be whiney, but his character, I think, is really well developed. On the Wii, I'm working through SSX Blur, I think. Waiting for Batallion Wars II on that, the first one on the GC was so much fun. I've given up on my N64 for the moment, though I play Majora's Mask on the GC/Wii; one of my favourite Zelda games, that one. On top of that, I have two MMORPGs to play: Guild Wars and LOTRO.

Sean

My backlog is hit in a few ways. I look at my official backlog list and I try to pick something that I didn't just play. I mean, if I played an action RPG, I will take something from another genre. If I can't decide, I take something really old. If I hear a lot of good things about a game, I might just play it then and there. I split my console, PC and portable gaming lists and they usually don't take the places of each other.

Some new games jump priority though. Basically, anything goes!

Finally, last questions. would you ever visit Iceland? what's your favourite console of all time? Finally, have you ever fancied/had a crush on a game character, if so, who?

Loving the column!

Hylean

Sean

Iceland? Maybe. I need to see how much ice there is there! My favorite console? SNES, PS1 and PS2 are all excellent. I can't decide which I liked most. Some heroines are pretty, but I don't harbor any feelings for any of them. Sorry about that. If I ever did, I repressed those memories. Thanks for writing in!



QUICKIES

I'm afraid both you and AG got it wrong. "Mar-kee" is the *French* pronunciation of the word which, in English, is indeed pronounced "Mar-qwis".
I felt FF12's translation was by far the most enjoyable part of the game; I felt like I was actually reading literature rather than listening to angsty, cliched brats spout off about things.

Sean
Well, in my defense I come from a place where the average person speaks franglais, so I don't know the difference.



IN CLOSING

I have an exam this Friday, so I don't forsee doing much else this week. See you all next week!

Peace out!



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: doesn't matter anymore this week



gorne@rpgamer.com
Sean is watching Family Guy.


I need to kill those Sol Nigers. Or write an exam. Whichever is better.

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