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ASK SEAN
Column 37: And Thus the Prophecy Spoke
November 12th, 2007

Sean - 5:45pm EDT

What prophecy am I refering to? Nothing really. I am really enjoying Guild Wars: Prophecies though! I put the Witcher on hold, as well as most other games to play this game. I mean to study and work on schoolwork! It doesn't require the same time commitment to play as most other MMOs and for that I am thankful. I did some reading on Guild Wars 2 and I can't wait for it. Guess I will need to add it to my list in the sidebar...

Friday will be a big day for me this week. A presentation will be done and the associated project will have been handed in. That will drop my workload to one exam and two projects. Yay!

I've been thinking about this for a while and with my pending move, I need to make an announcement. I promised myself this, and in order to not castrate myself financially, I will not buy anymore games. The stipulations? I can buy one game a month, and the deal is off when my backlog has been slain. Do you think I can stick to it? It is really hard, as I want Super Mario Galaxy, Orcs and Elves and Dragon Quest Monsters Joker. Plus, I think there are some more on that list... Mass Effect and a 360, anyone?

So, what is in the letter bag today?




LETTERS
The only things I would want from Candy Land are Tootsie Rolls.


Alrighty Sean, I'll try another group that was only big in Europe for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvDMlk3kSYg Very different than Patricia Kaas, though I'm terrible at guessing how people will respond to music I select.

Sean

Boney M I do know. My mom has a ton of their CDs. I really like Rasputin and a few other of their songs, but I can't remember what they are called at the moment. I guess I need to look through her collection...

Now, I know I've got Enchanted Arms to keep me busy eventually. But to immediately play it when I use most of my spare time to rebuild the audiovisual showcase contained within my computer is difficult, particularly when I'll have to bum time from my uncle's 360 to do it. He and my cousins are quite the Halo 3 players, making the time difficult to garnet. What's that, you say? I should by a 360 of my own? After I unexpectedly had to buy a new computer on top of the expenses of a trip to San Francisco in the past month? Nay, I think that will not happen terribly soon.

Sean

Good man. Spend time playing it when you get a chance though. I plan to play it soon myself. I have the PS3 version waiting for me.

Ah, another Tengai Makyou IV story ought to do us all some good. If anyone else on RPGamer actually has played this game I'll be surprised, since my own efforts to spur interest in its ludicrousness were unsuccessful back when I reviewed it. Today's story deals with Candy. Who is Candy? Why, she's the hit singer converting all the youth of America to evil via her music! In the Candy Dome of Portland you'll experience her breathtaking classic 'We Want Candy!' (which is actually rather catch). Then she'll sic her motorcycle-riding werewolf friend Low Dog at you (Low Dog is Native American) before building Candy Land atop Seattle, using the Indian village of Seattle below for a garbage dump. Upon finally confronting Candy her basic attack is a nasty slap, with the horrible Endless Love and Fiery Love attacks being constant. Near the end she'll whip out her Deadly Love barrage. Victory means that America is safe from horrible pop music! Hooray!

Sean

Britney Spears seems to be doing that well enough on her own. I jest--I do like some of her music, but wish that she wouldn't be such a moron all the time. That game sounds too strange for me to play. I don't like strange games, by the way. Katamari is strange.

Huh, it's been awhile since I reviewed anything. Computer disintegration will do that. Better review FFV Advance, eh?

Why - why - WHY? The Xmas music started playing in the store today. I did NOT need that. I'm sorry Bing Crosby, your 'White Christmas' irritates me more than I can say. Soon enough the damned strains of 'Feliz Navidad' will seep through my ears and into my skull, and I will draw blood from ramming my head into shelves to drive the foul notes away.

Sean

Yes, review that game. I would give it a 3.5. Maybe I should write a review? Christmas music should play no earlier than two weeks before the actual holiday. I don't like hearing the repetitive songs too early...

I picked up Sword of Mana the other day and played a little bit of it. Not bad, not good, just more-or-less standard Mana feel without any distinction so far to me. Eminently playable without remarkability thus far, though I've only played half an hour.

Sean

Sums up my feelings pretty well.

Hokay, here we go. The Genesis/ Mega Drive list of games yet to be played. Keep in mind there are some titles I may add in the future like Crusader of Centy and Surging Aura. Shadowrun, the Lion King, Blades of Vengeance, Phantom 2040, T2: Judgement Day, Taz in Escape From Mars, Prince of Persia, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Technoclash, TMNT Tournament Fighters, Super Hydlide, Flashback, Rocket Knight Adventures, and the Japanese pair Sorcerian and Madou Monogatari. I'm not including some other titles like Sunsetriders and Dynamite Headdy that I played but kept dying midway through, though I probably could. Ristar also fits in that category.

See, that wasn't so long a list, was it?

JuMeSyn

Sean

Nope, not really. You need to play Sunsetriders. It is an easy game from my childhood. A friend had it for the SNES. Play Prince of Persia next. Thanks for writing in, JuMeSyn!



Ugh.


Hey the Sean,

How's everything going... other than skunky. I've dealt with skunks so I know they aren't a fun animal to smell for prolonged periods of time.

Ugh.

Sean

Double Ugh. Or... Ugh Ugh.

Anyways, a writer asked why Harvest Moon is considered an RPG and not just a farm sim, and since I'm a huge HM nerd, I thought I'd give my opinion on the matters.

Harvest Moon is a wee bit more than just farming. If it were just a farm sim, they wouldn't let you go off and visit people in the town. All you would do all day is till soil and grow plants. And while that's a very important, and surprisingly fun (for me, not all) part of the game, you can do more.

Heck, you can play most of the games until the end and never pick up a watering can. Instead, you can focus on the people in town, or explore the areas around you.

Sean

Harvest Moon has never done anything for me. I just couldn't stand watching my ex play it for longer than two minutes. It is just too monotonous.

And the newest rendition on the DS also has Dungeon Crawling and monster fighting, so it's gotten even more RPG-y.

Anyways, that's my two cents. It's not just a farm sim, because you do more than farm.

Have a good day, and I hope you start breathing better soon.

-Shawn

Sean

Rune Factory does sound a bit more interesting than the others I admit. But, my recent ban on purchases is not allowing me to even consider trying it out. Well that is life... Thanks for writing in, the Shawn!



American tRPGs


Hey Sean. (No 'Seany' from me.)

It's been a little while... thought I'd lie low for a bit after receiving a nice little piece of flak from that anonymous writer a few weeks ago. It's exam week for me... tomorrow's (music) history, and I happen to be one of the rare individuals who doesn't need to study for it. I'm waiting for a friend to come online so I can help her with history, and I'm not sure what time she's turning up, so guess what I'll do in the meantime.

Congrats on taking your relationship a step further with your girlfriend! I'm happy for you, really. Treasure her - my girlfriend just played the 'you're not my type' card on me after more than a year together, and our relationship is now on the rocks...

Sean

Ouch. Couldn't she have decided that a year ago? Man, she must suck at reading people... or is a big fat liar.

On to the topics.

The defining qualities of an RPG...

I got inspired to talk about this by a letter a few weeks ago (your Oct 31 column, the one just after Lusipurr's). In the letter (from Leviathan), you mentioned that RPGs focus on story, characters and their interaction. Actually, I have one definition which I feel captures the essence of RPGs better:

An RPG focuses on making decisions as the character(s).

Sean

Hmmm... I make decisions as characters in other genres too. Do I run over the grandmother with the stolen taxi? Do I run those drugs? So... GTA is an RPG?

To me, this is important as it distinguishes an RPG from, say, a platformer with a wildly exciting story, a love triangle between the main character, the love interest, and the rival who is also the final boss (or a recurring one... FF8, anyone?), but no chance for the player to buy weapons or choose his/her path instead of just going linearly from level to level.

Come to think of it, the Valis series for Genesis has the above attributes. They're really old stuff, but they're platformers with a pretty good storyline and well-developed characters. No love triangle though. [SPOILERS - non-RPGs though so I don't care] The final boss in one of the episodes (the first one, if I remember correctly) is your character's close friend, and after you defeat her there's even a rather cliched, heart-wrenching cutscene as she is near death. Despite all this, the gameplay is perfectly linear hack-and-slash fare and there is a lack of decisions which the player-as-character can make. Characters, interaction? Yes. RPG? No.

Sean

I do believe I said something like this: "An RPG is a game that focuses on the story, its chracters, and the interactions between them over gameplay." Valis, as a platformer has to focus on the gameplay...

I'm not sure how to argue about why the Heroes of Might and Magic series are not RPGs, but I just know they aren't. They are clearly turn-based strategy. (I'm not sure about IV and V though. Do they incorporate real-time elements?) You don't assume the role of the hero(es) but instead command them around, and your hero(es) can't choose to complete optional sidequests which would have a bearing on the actual storyline either, which is fixed from the start. Oh, and your heroes don't interact with each other on a personal level. Win. *cue Final Fantasy fanfare*

Sean

Hereos IV and V do have sidequests, In both games you follow the actions of one or more heroes (as you do in normal RPGs). In Heroes V, there is a large and complex storyline told through cutscenes. In some cases the actions that you make that affect what happens in the future. I still don't think of it as a pure RPG, but it is a tactical RPG as much as FFT is... And the best part, it is a tRPG that I can play. See--not all tRPGs have to be Japanese!

On cosplay...

Never did it before. My ex-girlfriend did, though, and gave me a bad impression of cosplay in general. She has a group of friends who cosplay often (not sure if she still does, we don't keep in touch), and when I remarked to her that it'd be fun to cosplay sometime, she told me not to do it if I think it's just fun, because cosplayers take it very seriously and it's a lifestyle to them, not just a fun thing to do. Sounds pretty high-and-mighty to me. Do cosplayers you know (including yourself) have such an attitude?

Sean

Real cosplayers that I know are hardcore. It is very hard to find one that doesn't take it as seriously as you say. Those that aren't just tend to cosplay around Halloween and reuse those costumes for the following year.

I'll wrap this letter up here. Helping my friend with history now... Seeya around, and you'll hear from me again. Check out the final round of the Grand Audition next month too... if you like remixes, that is. Remixes are really a fan thing, like fan fics and art... they've a rather select audience.

Cheers,

-Virtuoso

Sean

I'll be honest here. I don't pay attention to fan fiction/music/art all that much. It has been years. I will wish you good luck though! Good luck, Virtuoso!



A new superhero: Matt the Wonderslime!


Hey!

I am back...which may not be a good thing. Anyway, I just got finish beating FF12. The reason it took so long was I just had to do every little thing. Funny thing is that I didn't do every little thing. Came close but I didn't. I just got tried of seeing the same damn monsters, people, places and characters. Now, I have moved onto Okama((which is funny since I got it last Christmas and just now playing it))...which I must say is quite an interesting game. It took me awhile to hang of the drawing part. The one I hate about the game is drawing lines to the freak flowers. You have to mess with the camera and move your character here...and then...maybe...maybe you get the flower to grab you. Stupid...FLOWERS!

Take deep breaths...really deep breaths.

Sean

I killed that 50 million HP monster. Yay me! It took way too long. I never did try Okami though. I'll probably wait until the Wii version...

And with Christmas season about, what game are you planning to get or really want but can't get?

Sean

I doubt I will get any games this Christmas season, as I will likely be swarmed by gifts for the apartment. If I would get something, it would need to be in the sidebar list.

I could easily go buy what I want...but I have a backlog to size of a small island. So, I am really really trying hard to not to buy what I want. The only game I am planning to pick up because I had it on pre-order is FF12: Revenant Wings for DS.

That is all for now

Mouse

P.S: A Slime, huh? Let me think on that. It should be a lot easier to do than Marlboro.

Sean

Sigh, I forgot about Revenant Wings. I need to pick that up. How the hell will I get that? Did I buy a game this month? Maybe I can sneak it in under that rule?

The slime would need to be in Matt's size and worn by him, or it won't count. Thanks for writing in, Mouse!



I think this is the twelth letter from you.


Hey-o Sean,

I'm one of your biggest writers? Wow, how did that happen? Guess I've got a rep to uphold.

Sean

Yep. You wrote lots of letters. Yep.

Well I haven't seen a lot on the topic, but I'm wondering how the Sonic RPG that's coming to DS is going to work.

Sean

Sonic will probably have HP and gain XP for defeating enemies however it is that he does so. If the game is based on the cartoon... I will stay very far away.

Do figure there will be real time battles or turn based? Timing uses like in the Mario RPGs? Will we run at high speeds through levels? Will Sonic be extreme? If so why? Is Dr. Eggman/Robotnik the bad guy? Will there be chaos? Or Chaos emeralds?

Sean

I would have to put my money on it being an action RPG. Since it is BioWare producing it, Sonic will probably have to choose between good and evil at every second step. To be a Sonic game, it would need to follow pretty much the same format as the other games so as not to alienate the existing fans. I don't know enough about the series to comment further on it.

So many questions, not enough answers. I'm hoping for a fast paced game to keep with the idea of Sonic, but I also prefer a timing turn based game.

Oh, how do I reconcile these differences? How?

Ken

Sean

You accept what you are given and enjoy it based on its merits. If you decide on what you want before you get it, you might be disapointed with the end result. Thanks for the letter Ken. Next time, tell me who your favorite crony is and why you like them. By crony I mean a villain's sidekick. That goes for the rest of you, too!



QUICKIES

Sean,
I just read that you have recently acquired a PSP. I have learned through dubious means that I will be receiving one for Christmas. I will be getting one of the slim ones, probably the core, since the games in the two bundles don't interest me much. Do you happen to know what accessories I will be needing that aren't included "in the box"?
Thanks,
Draconn

Sean
I went out and bought a hard case for the system, as well as a memory card for it. I don't know what comes with the new system, but a memory card is key. My hard case turns the PSP into a fliptop system!

In response to Whitney's letter,
The Harvest Moon games aren't just farming sims. That's only part of the game, and it isn't even the biggest part. There's a very important social aspect in the game, and you have to interact with the townsfolk if you want to obtain seeds, animals, medicines, tools and stuff. Plus, there's an option to date and eventually marry one of the members of the opposite sex - I just love Ann from HM: Friends of Mineral Town. It is said that if you are unpopular with the townsfolk, you will lose the farm and hence the game. Never happened to me though. But what REALLY makes it an RPG is the fact that you take control of the main character (as opposed to the Maxis games like the SimCity series).
-Virtuoso

Sean
There you go--another explanation, Whitney!



IN CLOSING

I have a planned power outage either tonight or tomorrow night. I hate it when they give the option. That means that I need to shut everything down at 9:45pm and hope that it is tonight so that tomorrow is free. On the bright side, I will be going to bed sooner!

That means that I have about two hours to play Guild Wars now, so I will be signing off now!



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