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Column 30: Murderous Strawberries
October 29th, 2007

Sean - 4:32pm EDT

Lusipurr's columns sure are fun to read, aren't they? I only barely managed to avoid his assassins though--one stabbed me in the toe and broke my nail, hindering me with an ingrown nail. They, of course, are now enjoying the ultimate punishment: playing Britney's Dance Beat while listening to her CDs. Death was too kind for them.

Speaking about his column, I decided to up the ante on his contest. The winner gets a large prize. There I said it. Any women dressing in their birthday suit is to email me their photos instead of him though. Please remember that! I am not going to judge the winner at all, so I have no say in this, but it'll be fun anyways!

In school news, my exam went well, and all my projects are going well. In gaming news, I've started Heroes 5: Tribes of the East and it is great! I've picked up a few games in the last week: Ratchet and Clank PS3, Monster Hunter Freedom 2, Zack and Wiki, and Mega Man Zx Advent. They are all unopened. Heroes is too good for me to play other games. That and Guild Wars is really good.

I saw Dan in Real Life on Saturday. It was good in an unexpected way. I was expecting something ridiculous like The 40 Year Old Virgin, but I got a generally good movie.

So what is in the letter bag today?

Another take on evil

Dear Sean,

First off, I wish you luck getting your girlfriend interested in games. If any system is bound to do it, the DS is a good gateway platform.


I need to find more games for her, as she gave me back my DS. She said she has no time and she kept picking it up to play instead of doing anything she needs to do. I'll keep trying though.

I also have to disagree (to a point) with Virtuoso's criticism of mute/"braindead"/Silent Protagonist Syndrome main characters. I think we can agree that a protagonist with a fully developed personality is best, but there are three cases of silent main characters off the top of my head that have personality despite their quietness. First is Crono. I strongly disagree with Virtuoso on this one, because Squaresoft's sprite artists created such a wide range of actions and reactions in that era, Crono could be very expressive without saying a word. The main character of Dragon Quest VIII is a similar case for the polygonal age.. There's no real reason why he doesn't talk, but his expressions are strong enough. Third, and perhaps the closest to the original intent of Silent Protagonist Syndrome, is the prince in Suikoden V. Like the others, he doesn't have any dialogue of his own, though in his case there are numerous times when you are given choices of action or responses to other characters in conversation which have subtle effects depending on what you choose, so it's almost as though he does.


I still don't like it. I like it when the main guy actually interacts a bit more with those around him. Just standing there and not doing anything except for a few facial animations don't equate actually getting involved. I don't think of Chrono Trigger as a great game as everybody else does, as a result. I just really can't identify with someone who doesn't have the interest in actually speaking his mind.

Now, as for the idea of an 'evil' RPG, it's definitely an interesting concept. One obvious benefit is that the romantic interests of evil characters have MUCH more revealing outfits than the ones worn by your typical hero's healer girlfriend.. At least one of your character's allies would be the fiercely loyal 'guard dog' type, at least one would be the type who is holding such a powerful grudge that they do whatever you say just so they can get close enough to kill you, but when they try and fail, your character might choose to keep them around because it helps him stay on his toes. And then there are the ones who are joining your cause out of a sense of mutual self-interest.


The healer girlfriend is a bit overused. I like the whip-wielding dark mistress girlfriend more. They would be a little more fun! But no, I digress. The cast seems good, but they would really need to be done well. A failure in the execution could make them boring.

Story-wise, it would be tricky to come up with a plot that isn't just a good guy's storyline seen through a dark filter, but it is possible. I'm picturing something where your character starts out as a small-time thug who comes across some sort of item of power (most likely a small part of a larger set) that gives him an edge, and he starts building up his reputation and powerbase, taking over towns and searching for the rest of the set. Of course, during the course of his pillaging, your character ends up making enemies, and a ragtag band of rebel heroes rises up to resist you as recurring nuisances.


That sounds good. Damn, I might actually have to pen this game. I am getting a lot of good ideas from y'all! It would be cool if you could play FFVII from Sephiroth's perspective. It would be fun and guaranteed to sell millions of copies.

Perhaps your character is given advice on how to find the artifacts by a mysterious mentor, and over the course of the storyline, you discover that the reason why you're being 'helped' is because the strange old man is actually trying to set things up, helping you grow in power so that the heroes will grow stronger in response. The idea is that defeating a 'great evil at the height of its power' will allow the heroes to usher in a golden age of peace and prosperity, but in order to do that, they need an appropriately terrible villain to overcome. The endgame would involve trying to find a way to beat the prophecy so you can defeat the heroes and the mentor.

-Crow Magnon


Better yet, the items need to be increased in power, but only through the climatic battle between a valliant hero and a terrible villain. The mentor needs the conflict and plans on stealing the items of power, forcing the hero and villain to gang up to topple him, right before the final battle between them. The game would have three endings--the mentor wins, the hero wins and the villain wins. It would be cool. Anyone else have any thoughts? Thanks for writing in, Crow!

Halo... I just don't see the allure

Hello Sean,

I noticed that one of the topics in your side bar asks if anyone plays Halo 3. Well, I play Halo 3. I did the whole midnight launch and $130 Legendary Edition thing. It is a good game (I had finished it within 10 hours), way better than Halo 2, and it had a great ending. Now I just play multiplayer on Xbox Live when the mood strikes me, which for right now is in between sessions of Oblivion.


For shame. So how is "just another FPS" 236? I am just kidding you, of course. I could never wait in line at that time for a game. Even worse is waiting in line overnight! I just don't have that patience!

As for Oblivion... Wow. This game is really overwhelming. There is so much to do, you can't possibly get bored. If you want to run straight through the main quest, you can probably finish the game in about 20 hours, but if you do that, you will be missing out on the other hundreds of hours worth of content in the game. Heck, there are books you can read which can be near 40 pages long. When was the last time you read a book in a RPG, or any game for that matter?


I used to read the books in the Baldur's Gates series. Now I just skim them. I don't find them as interesting as I used to. They are just a waste of my precious time.

With lots of dungeons to explore, monsters (and humans) to kill, things to make, spells to cast, skills to learn, horses to ride, items to steal, etc, there is almost an infinite amount of fun to be had. I'll tell you, if ever there was a reason to buy one of the now-gen consoles (assuming you aren't a PC gamer), this game is it. That said, I guess it is time for a question.


I *am* a PC gamer! I played Morrowind and I believe that it killed any interest I have ever had in the Elder Scrolls series. I have had a chance to pick up Oblivion on many occasions, but I can't justify the purchase. No matter how interesting the game sounds, images of Morrowind flash before my eyes and I can't convince myself to try it.

Which do you enjoy more? Do you enjoy the freedom of western RPGs to do things in the order you like and control more of your own destiny and tale of the game? Or, do you prefer eastern RPGs where story often dictates a set path that you have to follow, at the benefit of playing a more focused game?



That is a good question. I like both, depending on my mood. Right now I am playing Dungeons and Dragons Tactics and Guild Wars (both western games), as I am in the mood for feedom. After these, I am looking at playing some eastern games. Which? I am not sure yet. Thanks for the letter!

What is an RPG?

Hey Sean,

A friend and I were discussing what makes an RPG an RPG? Can a line be drawn? If so, where?


This, my friend, is a question as old as this column itself. It has oft been discussed. Let's all discuss this now!

My first thought was a somewhat complex Levelling system. But if that is the case, then how does Zelda fit in? Zelda allows you to increase your health meter, but not much beyond that for levelling. For that matter 1943 The Battle for Midway for NES was a top scrolling shooter, but it had the ability to increase your health, weapon strength and more. So does that make it an RPG? How about Gran Turismo. Lot's of ways to increase your cars abilities.

If you look at Mass Effect, it appears to be a Shooter with RPG Elements. So if we took a game like Splinter Cell and added a complex levelling system, does it become an RPG?

The fantasy setting doesn't work because there are examples of RPGs that don't have a fantasy setting (Parasite Eve).

So can anyone provide a fairly comprehensive definition of an RPG that covers most or all RPGs without allowing Non-RPGs into the mix?



This is a very subjective question. What is an RPG in my eyes? A game that puts the emphasis on the story and not on the gameplay. I could go more into the answer, but I think that about sums it up.

What do I prefer in my RPGs? The gameplay must at least work well, and the protagonists cannot be mute. I do like both traditional turn-based and action RPGs. Here at RPGamer, an RPG is an RPG if the publisher tells us it is. Thanks for the letter!

A staunch supporter!

Hey Sean:

I kinda liked Friday's column. It was kinda nice to see this change of pace.. I'd far rather see something more ummm "passion" if you disagree, if you do disagree I'd say go for it. I don't see why you have to agree or be postive. There is a ton wrong in the world of RPG's but there's alot of good so keep on calling a spade a spade. It was nice having Matt's postivity and some frankness to even it out. Who needs this site as well to be overcome by the words and idea's behind "fanboy." Geez. [To that certain letter writer]

That being said I'm not a huge fan of having the once a month idea of the "other" Q&A host. Personally I'd just go to some othe MAJOR online sites for that. My thoughts and maybe mine alone. Kinda cheesy, I swear there should be other better idea's.


The truth is that I really like reading Q&A on top of writing it. By having another host around, I have a chance of reading a column once a month. I really miss reading Matt's columns at work. I actually I have to work now!

Hmmm as a fellow Ps3 owner after Folklore what is the next RPG game to get? Also what is the other next non- rpg game to get?


I got Ratchet and Clank. It is still unopened, but I intend to open it soon. Initial reviews show it as being good. I'm also interested in Conan, but I need to play the demo first. As for RPGs, I am not sure what is coming out next, so I will refrain from commenting on it.

My girlfriend says Enchanted Arms [pretty much the other rpg] is really bad. There is numerous weird homosexual/ transgender negative stock characters. The Ps3 is already not doing so well and lets toss some freakish stereotypes of a senstive topic on it. That's sure to sell.


Might I remind you that it is a port of a 360 game? It isn't alone on the PS3. At least it is an RPG! I need to play that one and decide for myself.

Speaking of that what do you find one of the worst moments in gaming? And if it's non-rpg and RPG with the worst moment like I cited above?


Worst moment? I hate fetch quests, which is odd that I like MMOs so much. Games like Shadow Madness piss me off.

Hmmm what else. My fav game is Xenosaga I really enjoy the mort realistic sorta dialouge. Like I honestly believe Shion [first game] was one of the most complete characters ever created. Is there any other game or series/game for consoles that really has some more reality to it. Then the constant JRPG battling of verbs "darkness" and "Sin?"


Try western games and build your own heroes. It is a lot of fun! I liked Shion a lot too, but more so in the first game. Other recommendations? Overlord! Play a bad guy and reign supreme over a world of good guys! Get some vengeance while you are at it!

A quck question: I'm really curious to see if anyone knows if the Xeno-series creater is behind Soma? And if he isn't any word on what he is doing?

Well thanx



I am not sure, if you are referring to Xenosaga or Xenogears here. I don't know who Soma is. Do you mean Sora, as in Kingdom Hearts Sora? I doubt the designers had anything to do with each other. But I do say that whoever came up with the Xeno series is a genius of a storytelller! Thanks for writing in, Dan!

And yet another take on evil!

The idea of an RPG in which the player plays as the evil villain trying to destroy the world has cropped up a few times in the last week or so. I've been reading a long article on the history of CRPG's, and it turns out that Wizardry IV did this. In W4 you played as the very same uber-villain that you defeated in the first game. You were banished to the bottom of a large dungeon at the end of the first game, and now you have to climb out and get your revenge.


I need this game. Is it still for sale? Will it still work?

Sounds pretty cool, but those early Wizardry and Ultima games are incredibly arcane and really aren't playable anymore. Wizardry IV in particular is supposed to be one of the hardest games ever.


I've heard that Wizardry titles are pure evil.

Also, regarding the history of CRPG's/JRPG's, the early JRPG's are very clearly derived from the early Ultima games and other CRPG's of the time. They were by no means developed independently.

- JuntMonkey


Can't Ultima be traced back to the original D&D? Everything really comes from Tolkein anyways. I've never really played an Ultima or a Wizardry game. Do they still make the latter? I've always been curious, but never purchased one. If you can suggest one, let me know which one I should play! Thanks for writing in, JuntMonkey!


I'm deeply enmeshed in FFTWotL (I like writing that too) but wanted to drop you a quick note to say that the game Tecmo's Deception by Konami also featured you playing a villain in a castle and laying traps to capture/kill intruders. It's been a while, but I think you were initially a good guy who was betrayed and killed and you sold your soul to the devil to get revenge, something like that. The original was for the PS and I believe there were two sequels for the PS2 but I never played them so I could be wrong about that. I'd forgotten about it but the letter from Monday reminding me; a very fun game.
Koala Bob

You're late. Stop playing that game and get your responses to me on time! Nah, just kidding. Enjoy your game! How is it so far?

I'm not coming up with any lengthy letters lately (because I have to use machines that are not my own to write them). But some random ramblings I spotted made me wonder: is the Gogo in FFV related in any way to the Gogo in FFVI? I can come up with (dis)similarities easily enough, I'm just curious about your take.

Gogo is the same person in both games, of course. My source? Faith.

Hi Sean--
Wasn’t the Matt D. who wrote in criticizing you actually Matt Demers, the former host? I think he’s just having a little fun with you. If it was an actual letter, however, tell him to go to hell. You don’t need to be nice to everyone, there are plenty of fans of Andrew’s and Luispurr’s writing style. I think you have a nice balance somewhere in between Matt and Andrew; keep up the good work.

I actually like reading Lusipurr's writing--I find it highly entertaining. And no, it wasn't the old Matt of this column, but rather someone else. I am privy to email addresses and stuff, you know.

Today in Sock 2, I was under sleeping status. An enemy used an attack whose effect is blind, and it actually worked on me (While sleeping). Has anything that doesn't make sense ever happened to you in an RPG?

What is wrong with being blinded while asleep? You just wake up... blind. Something that doesn't make sense in an RPG? Marle wanted to bring Crono back when she had the hunk Magus around.


I kind of remember needing to mention a few things here. Let me see, if I can remember... Oh yes! Someone asked me which Bleach game(s) I am playing. I am playing the fighter for the Wii and the other one for the DS. I also have a Japanese import of Heat the Soul 4, but I don't like that one as much.

I am always excited to see Heroes, and this week is no exception, I love that show with all my heart and soul. Would anyone like a Heroes RPG? You could play as either Peter or Sylar, and steal/absorb the powers of any defeated enemies. Of course, I would always play with Hiro, Ali Larter and Sylar (pretending to be good, but already having killed Claire). That would rock.

I made an effort to clear out both the letter boxes today. Send me new mail for Wednesday's column!

Have a nice Monday and Tuesday. Peace out!

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