THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 






Affiliates
metacritic
AnimeBooks
Play-Asia.com

Send a Letter Mail Me Recent Columns Archives

ASK SEAN
Column 25: Class Time Well Spent
October 12th, 2007

Sean - 6:08pm EDT

I finally found a use for class time--answer letters! Ok, so I borrowed my work laptop to aid in this endeavor so I might make some typos, as I am not used to using this keyboard. Man, class is currently boring! Also, I couldn't figure out how to connect to the Internet. It would have been nice. I'll figure this out for next week.

I did not get my exam back and this bothers me more than I care to admit. I needed to know this mark, as it will lead me to discover the level of effort I need to apply to the rest of the items for this class. Oh well, I'll survive. The prof did promise the results for next week and he was staring at me while saying so. It was a bit unnerving.

In the last week I did quite a bit of gaming and gaming-related activities. First of all, I finished my review for Untold Legends. I am happier with it than previous reviews. The score I gave it might be considered biased towards the single-player game. For multiplayer purposes it would deserve a 4.0.

My second activity involved Wild Arms 5. I finally finished it on Monday and it really bothered me. Why? I don't like it when the endings aren't fully voiced. It is ok when there are no voices, but once there is some in the game, by God please make sure the ending gets as much polish as possible! I wasn't happy. I did quite a bit of shopping this week--on top of Guild Wars Prophecies and Eye of the North that I acquired last week, this week saw the purchase of both Bleach for the DS, as well as the Wii, as well as Folklore. I was looking for Neverwinter Nights 2: The Mask of the Betrayer and Final Fantasy Tactics for PSP, but I never did find them in stores--I missed the shipments on both sides. I will just need to pick them up online at FutureShop later today.

I still haven't played the Bleach games (they were purchased just prior to class), but I did put in some time into Folklore. Preliminary thoughts are positive--I think about the game all day long. It is an addiction that I need to purge. I will discuss more about this game tomorrow. Also on my plate are Phantom Hourglass (just finished the third dungeon) and D&D Tactics. The latter game I am having far more fun with lately, and I intend to review it when I have completed it. For that matter, Folklore will be getting the same treatment. I will provide mini reviews tomorrow for all three, if desired.

I got a piece of interesting news yesterday--my exam was pushed back by a week. Is it a good development? I'm not sure. All it means is I don't have to study all weekend, but rather just a part of it. The other part will be spent with Folklore, D&D Tactics, and my school work. I am really short on letters at the moment, so as it looks right now, I will have one and half columns for this week. If you don't want a short column, or even none at all, please write in! I am not going to beg anymore than this.

Let's get to the letters!




LETTERS
The guy is talking about UI architectures... or something


To Matt or Sean,

First, what was the general reaction of Lusipurr from your superiors? Obviously, he was a hit to your column's audience...he was essentially a Castomel Clone! But, he DID insult Macstorm and J Sensei at the start, and that could not have gone over well...

Sean

Actually, that was pretty tame from him--he is usually worse on IRC. In truth, I didn't really hear anything either way. I know he enjoyed it. The question now is: Do you all want him to come back on a regular basis? I want to try to find a list of people to fill in for Matt and I when we are unavailable to write columns. Speaking of which, I just got Folklore on Wednesday and didn't notice that Matt wasn't writing anything.

Second, have you ever cosplayed? I live in Chicago, and the following link (http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/chi-1011_c_cosplay_jpoct11,1,4947627.story?ctrack=2&cset=true) from the Tribune on how cosplaying is gaining ground. Again. I like it when there's mainstream acceptance of anything RPGish, and this looks like a sign of acceptance of cosplaying. What do you think? (AND please don't let Slashlen get inspired by this to write into you about the sexiest RPG costumes around.)

Sean

I never cosplayed. I've been to cons with a cosplaying girlfriend, but I didn't participate. I just find it uncomfortable for the most part. Some of the costumes are pretty neat though. Sorry, if I forget to check that site--I don't have Internet access at the moment. Edit: I couldn't access it without signing up for an account. Sorry, man!

Finally, if the world were RPG-like, I would like the field warp and the status screen. You know how you can warp from a town or field or other world map destination and then be in another spot within seconds? THAT would be cool for one reason...to get away quietly from a one-night stand. Seriously, it would be cool to go anywhere at anytime; however, you tend to get this ability near the end of the game after you seen and done everything there is in the world around you...

That's all from me...have a good night.

BLG

Sean

I like the warping around idea. Now that I think about it, the ability to die and restart is really cool, as is the world altering effects of casting a spell. I mean being deep underground, casting a spell and seeing the effect from space. That would be too cool. So, everyone--have you ever cosplayed? If so, as who did you dress as? Thanks for writing in, my friend.



I wish I were a cannon fod... err... pikeman!


Hey-o Matt,

Right to the thick of things. If I could be a video game character or exist in a video game world whom/which would I choose?

Its tough, but I thought immediately of Final Fantasy Tactics. I could just be one of the generic grunts. As long as I get to be a lancer sign me up. I don't even like heights, but somehow I imagine it to be very different when you can leap and always land on you feet unharmed. Cross class me into time mage and I'll be in heaven.

Sean

A generic lancer? They are called pikemen. They used to put them in front of charging horses to stop a charge. Many were trampled. Of course, the idea of jumping down onto elevation-challenged foes is sure thrilling, but the idea of jumping like a dragoon? Not as much. Keep me on the ground please.

No really, I'd use my ability to manipulate the fabric of space/time to create wormholes to leap through. I'd probably end up shifting dimensions over into Disgaea's Netherworld. Or I'd die and hope that I'd had Dragon Spirit on.

Sean

Or leap into something completely by surprise and die a very interesting death. To watch, I mean. Jumping into lava? Classic.

Seriously this is a great topic. I was thinking of other games I'd like to be a part of after my initial geek-out. Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter. I'd like to be the hero, or at least have his powers. Something about having a known time limit on your life but having the immediate power to change the world is very appealing.

Sean

Actually, in a way we all have a time limit to change the world. It is called our lifespans, and it is up to us to do our parts to make life better for mankind. Me, I decided that I need to play my fair share of RPGs!

Living in the Xenogears world would be cool just cause I could have my own giant robot. Being in Chrono Trigger would be fun until I got erased from the timeline as Chrono and pals changed history before I was born. Seriously I could go on for a very long time with this topic. But I won't. Just make me a lancer/time mage and I'll be happy.

Ken

Sean

If I were a Time Mage, I would be filthy stinking rich. Imagine how well I could manipulate the stock market... And make that Cubs fan not catch that foul ball. It would be totally fun. Ok, everyone--keep this topic alive! Thanks for writing in Ken--that makes three letters in the last two weeks. Keep them coming!



I really can't concentrate on this and the class at the same time


1up recently published a feature about niche gaming.

A large part of the article focused on JRPGs obviously, and they included a link to an interview with my hero, Victor Ireland, the founder of the ill-fated Working Designs.

Sean

Wasn't he also one of the main translators? I like being a fan of this niche market. With games as popular as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy, you would think we would have graduated past the niche level a while ago.

As any RPGamer worth his salt knows, WD was responsible for the many miracles of fanservice to grace our shores like Lunar, Dragon Force, Magic Knight Rayearth and Arc the Lad. One thing all these games had in common were strong localizations, and I've come to realize that good translations are still too hit and miss today.

Sean

Working Designs had a few good merits to their name--their commitment to their work, their commintement to quality and their tenacity at getting us interesting and rare games. Of course, they didn't release enough games and they took to long to release them, which of course led them to bankruptcy. Attention to quality can indeed lead to no incoming funds. Poor them. Did Victor move on to a different company yet?

All the recent nostalgia over the FF Retrospectives inspired me to reexperience FF8, and now I know why I was running blind through that game. Eight years, a growing mind, and an English Literature degree later, I think I can say with some authority that the translation was a piece of s**t. The dialog is bland and stilted, and it's been a chore to replay up to Galbadia Garden. I still acknowledge that it's a classic FF from its gameplay (there's nothing wrong with the Junction System), but I now see why I was so confused when playing that game as a high schooler.

Sean

I never had a problem with the game--I was just too impatient to draw magic all the time. I spent far too long with it, but was never tempted to pick it up and play it again. I know desire to replay VI, VII and IX, with a return to XI also being foretold. Those things were just evil. Of course, I will likely wait for a remake of VII, as I can't see myself playing the old clunky version anymore.

Now, not everything has to be flowery Shakespeare like FF12 or the recently retranslated Tactics (I now have a reason to get a PSP), but some extra care needs to be taken. I believe Atlus has taken up some of the charge on this one. Their translations are generally excellent and Persona 3 is a great example. This understated strength really helps the game flow. The dialog is natural, well spoken, and palatable for American audiences while retaining a distinct Japanese culture. Another good translation that comes to mind is DQ8. I almost thought that game came from England with the way the translation and voice acting were handled (just kidding).

Sean

I still haven't played Persona 3, but I agree about the attention that Atlus gives to these things. And of course, DQ8 was maervelously well done.

The Writers Guild of America recently recognized video game writing as an awardable practice. Let's hope they broaden their scope, and extend that recognition to translations. It could really jump start some efforts I think.

Jonezy

Sean

I doubt many companies will work to earn one of those, especially Japanese ones. It is interesting though--I can imagine seeing the accolades on the game box, and throngs of people just ignoring it to get "just-another-FPS 78". Oh well, that is the age we live in. Thanks for the thoughts, Jonezy!



But I obviously chose the column over my class!


Heya Sean,

Regarding Flamethrowers remarks that Fire Emblem will not change your opinion of Tactical RPG's, I have to refute them. It depends on what your hang ups on TRPG's are. Fire Emblem DID change my views on TRPG's. Now I play Nippon Ichi games like a religion, I bought the Growlanser remakes, and I actually click on news about TRPG's in the news section now. Like many of those before me, my only real experience was with games done by the Tactics Ogre crew, Final Fantasy Tactics being the main game. I absolutely hated the gameplay of FFtactics. Three hour long fights with so few characters on screen, and several that you could spend hours on and LOSE because of a simple button mistake, I thought it was ridiculous. The combat in FFtactics was long and needlessly drawn out. Fodder enemies had way too many HP's, attacks did way too little damage, there was little to the combat that was entertaining. That's not to say the story wasn't incredible, don't get me wrong on that. The other game that almost killed any desire to play TRPG's for me was Vandal Hearts. Both were good pioneers and stepping stones in the TRPG world, but were no where near as accessible as say, Final Fantasy 7.

Sean

You see, I am the opposite. I like FFT, FFTA, and the first Vandal Hearts. I am enjoying D&DT right now too. What I can't stand are tRPGs with too much micro-managing and stuff to do outside of combat. Switching jobs and managing equipment is as much as I am willing to do. I just can't spend three hours before every episode to re-work my characters and equipment, and level them all up five times. Disgaea bothered me until I figured out that I can use the hospital to my advantage. This saved the game for me, but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth every time I think about it now. Since then I have tried: Hoshigami, Kartia, Shining Force, Tactics Ogre, Phantom Brave and Makia Kingdom. I didn't like any of them.

I wouldn't say Fire Emblem simplifies TRPG combat, as FFTactics in my mind wasn't complex just tedious. Fire Emblem does speed it up rather nicely. You can look at the screen and know what you want to do. It reminds me alot of Suikoden's early mini-game combats. Its based on a Paper, Rock, Scissors premise of one trumps another while being week against the other. Also, when the characters fight, you get a nice screen of the combat, with a surprising amount of animation to them for a GBA game. Instead of just a sword popping out of nowhere and slapping down on an enemy, you are entertained by the combat.

Sean

I don't know. I am really skeptical about all these games. The only thing keeping the idea alive in the back of my mind is their popularity--all those fans cannot be wrong. But then I figure out that there are a ton of games that I would prefer playing, so I guess I would just let you all enjoy them for me. I'll just play other games.

I wouldn't exactly throw Nippon Ichi games at you and tell you that you'd love them. There is alot going on inside them. But I would like to say that they follow Fire Emblem's example of entertaining combat and not just numbers crunching. You are going to see crazy combat, sometimes not believing how silly or how extraordinary an attack turns out. While not as easy to just jump into as Fire Emblem, there is a fun system underneath each game that gives you much more to do than just move a pawn piece and hit "attack". What Nippon Ichi is really good at is rewarding any hard work you do. Sometimes in FFTactics, you'd finish a fight only to be given another fight. You'd seemingly fight for no reason, and if you got a bit of the story it would be a sentence or two. After a long battle Nippon Ichi, and Fire Emblem too, gives you alot of story progression. Fire Emblem would also gave you brand new characters to get to know and to play with.

Sean

I need to argue that point. I played through FFT a good three times when I first got it years ago when it released--in black and white, nonetheless. The game was just captivating. I loved it from start to finish, even with the impossible chocobo battles. By this of course I mean the nasty birds with the big meteor spell. They sucked.

There are companies out there that are making TRPG's that are less of a chore to play, and more about fun and entertainment than a 4 hour chess game. I wouldn't block them out forever, they might not be where you want them right now... but they are progressing. Test one out every now and then. Till then, Fire Emblem is an excellent place to dip your toes in, its the most accessible TRPG out there.

Sean

As noted above, I do play some once in a while. I am looking forward to getting FFT and FFTA2, and I do have Jeanne d'Arc queued in my backlog. Right now I am playing D&DT, but I don't think I could qualify it as the same genre as the others that we are discussing. It is more of an "entire dungeon is the battlefield" kind of tRPG--not an open square grid where you can see everything that is going on from the get go. In any case, wait for the review. Thanks for writing in!



39 minutes to go


First of all: I had no idea it was you who did the review for Etrian Odyssey. I liked that review, but if I had written it... and had to beat it to write the review.. well...

Sean

Yep, twas me! Yeah, I really pushed to finish that game, as we didn't have a review for the longest time and we needed one. In any case, I beat Mystie to the end of the game. That is what really counts in my books!

I'm still playing it, I bought it day-of release and still seem to be stuck on floor 8. Not that I can't get past it, just I haven't the time I used to. It's so very labor-intensive, and with being a full time student who works part time.. and dealing with my four roomies- Game time becomes a rare and sacred time recently. I already gave up FFXI, a heart wrenching moment, indeed.

Sean

I work full time, go to school full time, work on this column and review games. I also try to juggle time for family, friends and my girlfriend. I am managing so far, but I haven't really done anything for school yet. When that kicks in, I better be done with the games I intend to review, as I doubt I will have as much time anymore for fun stuff. I quit FFXI a few years ago when I started my master program. A few months later I was hooked again. It is so easy to come and go!

Man, I went on a rant already. I was afraid I was going to do that. Sorry.

I wanted to answer one of your hot-topics. The worst concept for a game I have ever played HAS to be Tecmo: Secret of the Stars. I cannot speak in words about how impressively bad that game was. The plot was something like this: You are on a lonely island when by happenstance you find out you're actually a hero... very bland. Anyway, I suppose the game's horrid translation makes up for the extreme level grind, bland graphics and atrocious box art for the US version. With enemy names like "Cat Boo" and "BadBad: (leader of the Badmen) and Booth (an evil general), I was actually compelled to punish myself through the mind aching hours to see the conclusion... and it's been so many years I forget if it was satisfying.

Sean

I tried that game once. I couldn't find it in any stores, so I tried it by emulator. I was so impresed I didn't go to ebay to buy it. I don't remember much about the game--just that it didn't hook me at all.

Talking about secret of the Stars makes me want to play Phantasy Star IV. How odd. Speaking of which do you like the direction the Phantasy Star games took since Online? They sure do nothing at all for me.

-Cody

Sean

I am a newcomer to Phantasy Star. I started with Phantasy Star Online, which I played offline for a few hours until I got bored out of my mind. I later picked up the collection for the GBA and I played through the first two games, but grew so disenchanted I got rid of it before finishing the third part. I didn't touch any of the other online games, nor Universe, due to bad reviews and simple disinterest. Has anyone played the newer Phantasy Star titles and had fun with them? I sure haven't heard anything positive about any of them.

Thanks for writing in, Cody!



QUICKIES

Re: Virtuoso, I have to agree. OH WAIT! It was awesome in Disgaea! (Or was that the power of love? I forget...)
It was so awesome, it failed miserably!
Carabbit

Sean
Flonne, or whatever her name was, ended up being pretty cool. I would have liked to see her beat the snot out of Etna to get Laharl!

Bad Games?
Got to say, I could not stand Summoner. Any time I entered a random battle, I could go for coffee, and when I got back it would still be loading the stupid battle. Very Bad!!! I have been told there was some good story in there, but I couldn't get past the load times.
Eggman

Sean
I didn't like the huge city near the beginning. I got into some sewers and lost complete interest. Of course, the fact that I kept dying didn't help at all. I have mostly bad memories of that game.



IN CLOSING

My laptop shows 22 minutes of power remaining, so I need to wrap this up now. I'd like to end this column with a new topic: Would you be willing to play a completely evil party? I mean, for example, a main character that is a goblin that just wants to maim and kill innocent people on his quest to rule the world. I think it would be fun, and can have some nice original plot hooks! Let me know!

Peace out!



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: GIMME SOME



gorne@rpgamer.com
Sean doesn't like class


I need more time to play games. Should I just drop a class?

Most Recent

Oct. 12: Matt

Oct. 11: Matt

Oct. 9: Matt



Links

Quote Archives



Now Obsessed With:

1. Persona... UGH
2. Sly Cooper 2: Band of Thieves
3. The Orc King
4. Dungeons & Dragons Tactics
5. Guild Wars (all four)
6. The Legend of the Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
7. Folklore
8. Bleach on both Wii and DS



Hot Topics:

1. What was the worst premise for a game that you have ever played? And more importantly, what prompted you to finish it?
2. Exams ever got you down? Do you cut out the games?
3. Played Halo 3? Halo RPG, anyone?
4. Digital downloads? A good thing?
5. Feel like playing a completely evil party and try to take on the world in an epic length RPG?



Most Wanted

1. Heroes of Might and Magic V: Expansion #2
2. Dracula X Chronicles
3. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer



My Reviews

1. Dragoneer's Aria
2. Etrian Odyssey
3. Lord of the Rings Online
4. Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom



Contests

The Unnamed Contest



© 1998-2013 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy