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ASK WHEELS
Start of the Year Spectacular
January 4th, 2013

01/04- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to 2013! 2012 was an interesting year for RPGs, but we'll be getting to that with the usual RPGamer year end feature soon enough. Here on Q&A we're going to stay focus on all the cool RPGs announced for this year along with the possible announcements we could see! Heck, maybe I'll even be able to finish Elminage before 2014 (that game is a beast)!

Anyway, let's get right into some excitement about games coming out this year...





The Letters
Not the Devil Summoner With 1920s Slang

Wheels,

Soul Hackers is coming to America. What is largely considered the best SMT is finally coming here.  So, my question is, will this finally be the mainline-styled SMT to hit the popularity of the (great, but honestly not as awesome) Persona series in America, or are the more standard games doomed?

-MoogleGunner


Wheels

I can not describe my excitement that we are getting two Atlus-developed dungeon crawlers in a short time span. While the Etrian Odyssey series is now old hat and I expect the new one to be another polished and upgraded entry in the series, I'm more excited for Soul Hackers because of all the good things I've heard about the original. I do have a copy of the Saturn version, which I've played around with, but it's hard to get a good feel for the game. I'm sure a translated and upgraded 3DS version will be a far better experience. I haven't read in-depth about what changes they've made, so I just hope it has more modernized features than Innocent Sin which still felt mostly like a port of an old PS1 game for me. We shall see!

Now, as far as being as popular as Persona? I think that's be a tough feat to accomplish, especially given that other SMT games aren't even as popular as Persona in Japan. I think it has the chance to bring more people into the main SMT fold than Strange Journey did though because of the love for the original among importers and the nicer graphical look thanks to being on the 3DS. If people over here enjoy it, and assuming Shin Megami Tensei IV follows shortly after that we could see a stronger base for the main series. Of course if Persona 5 finally gets announced then that will understandably get the most attention. The long and short of it is that anyway you look at it, it's a good time to be a fan of SMT.

Fighting the Doom and Gloom

I wasnt planning on writing this email but I thought it was necessary to address the sort of doom and gloom of last week.


Wheels

Well, I don't know if it was so much doom and gloom as it was perhaps end of the year blues? Besides I thought I did a lot to counter the gloom! There are certainly a lot of RPG localizations we're missing out on, but I don't think it's that bad as long as you don't remind me about 7th Dragon (just the first one, second one isn't as big of a loss).

We had 2 people going on about how games arent localized, and how people hate japanese dev.

Well its simply not true. In general more jrpgs than ever have been made on more systems than ever with more localized than ever. What does this mean?

It means jrpgs are more spread out on more systems. In the old days people could purchase 2 platforms, and get most of the rpg work of that gen. Now? You need 5..........



Wheels

The thing about hating Japanese development is a whole different issue not necessarily tied to RPGs that I don't really want to go into.

I don't really agree with the point that RPGs are spread out across more systems. With Japan buying more portable platforms, more JRPGs have been coming to DS and PSP than anything else. With the decline of both due to piracy, new platforms, etc. we've missed out on some titles late in the life of both. C'est la vie as they say. We really haven't missed out on very many localizations for Wii/PS3/360.

Lets look back at the systems of yesteryear with a lot of rpgs on them

Gen 1 - Nes
Gen 2 - SNES/GB
Gen 3 - PSX/GBC
Gen 4 - PS2/GBA
Gen 5 - DS/PSP/iOS/Wii/PS3/360, THEY ALL HAVE RPGS ON THEM MAN



Wheels

 You're missing some things in those lists. There were a ton of great RPGs on Genesis, Sega CD, PC Engine, and even some on Game Gear, so a list of SNES/GB doesn't quite cover it. PSX/GBC also skips the many RPGs on the Saturn. PS2/GBA I'll give you as GameCube/Dreamcast/Xbox were all light on RPGs. Now, you are correct there's JRPGs on all five of those systems, but we were talking about unlocalized JRPGs and those fall very heavily into the DS/PSP category given Japan's preferences.

You are right. We are in a transition phase of new systems coming in, and old ones coming out. That does effect things. Given that. This year was INSANE in the states with rpgs.

EX. Chaos rings II, Final fantasy Dimensions, Final fantasy 13-2, Atelier memeru, tales of graces F, gungir, growlanser, class of heroes II, ragnarok tactics, pokemon conquest, pokemon black 2, kingdom hearts ddd, paper mario, ect ect ect

And this is a transition year? we were blessed.



Wheels

I would be inclined to agree. We got a ton of good JRPGs (FYI Class of Heroes II didn't make it out in 2012) this year, with a good number even coming out on consoles. I'm still surprised we got as many PSP games as we did, but I'm not going to complain (even about a lack of Final Fantasy Type-0). Besides the lack of some Dragon Quest spin-offs, we even got most of the big RPGs on 3DS/Vita. So a good year all around, hopefully the Vita will pick up in sales so niche publishers can keep bringing over RPGs for it (I really want the new Ys localized!).

Now regarding whether or not we will ever see a 7th dragon. Most of why we havent seen it is poor management, and poor luck really.  But isnt that why we dont get alot of localizations? I mean people pretend like we in past gens everything got localized, it was never the case before.

Sega has rpgs every gen they dont localize.


Wheels

I don't agree that it's poor management. I still think 7th Dragon on DS could have done well in the West (especially after seeing Dragon Quest IX do well) but publishers have more sales info than we do so maybe they saw trends in the market that just didn't make it worth it. I think Square Enix not bringing over games like SaGa 2 and SaGa 3 on DS that could easily be renamed to Final Fantasy Legend is all the evidence I need as far as the DS market goes (which makes the localization of Four Heroes of Light seem out of place, but hey I'll take it!). I'm not really going to blame bad management on the lack of 7th Dragon. The second game being on PSP pretty much killed chances from the start. Plus, after Valkyria Chronicles 2 was a bust in the West I can't even blame them for not trying. It sucks, but we can always hope for fan translations (and for Sega to move the series to a different platform).

2013 is looking ridiculous for localizations

fire emblem, devil hacker, generation of chaos VI, ni no kuni and more all in quarter 1?

With bravely default, rune factory IV and more probably coming later?


I am not sure if people are more spoiled. Or they just have revisionist history of how things used to be.

-Alan


Wheels

I agree that 2013 is looking great. I'm hoping for Bravely Default news because that game looks like a lot of fun.

Don't be too hard on people pining for more localized games. Remember that despite the fact we are getting a lot of localized RPGs, we're getting a lot more specialized RPG that might not be everyone's cup of tea. We've gotten a lot of SRPGs on portables. For those not really into that type of game, the list of localized games will suddenly seem much smaller. So I don't think it's revisionist history so much as pining for different types of games. We'll see how people feel after this year!

Tweets Tweets 64 Tweets

@AskWheels For Q&A: What is a game in your backlog from last year that you didn't get the chance to play, but are hoping to try in 2013?

-merrygodown


Wheels

There were some games I dabbled in but didn't finish, but as far as game I'd like to try but didn't really get to spent any real time with? That would have to be Unchained Blades. I bought the game right away but never really got to it other than the first few minutes. Just too many games to play on my PSP! I'm going to try it on 3DS instead as I've always preferred dungeon crawlers on the DS/3DS two screen format. So I'll probably get to that soon. In addition, I've also got copies of Yakuza 3 and Yakuza 4 that I'm itching to play. I'm new to the series but I have a suspicion I'll find it to my liking. I think that's about it! Most other games that I want to finish in 2013 I've already dug into a fair amount. So 2013 looks to be the year of first person dungeon crawling and Yakuza for me!

@AskWheels This week's Defend the Indefensible: "Any death in Dark Souls II should result in a game over & deleted save." 50 words+. Go. :D

-severinmira


Wheels

People freaked out when the director of Dark Souls II mentioned something about a straightforward design. I mean who wouldn't freak out? Dark Souls excellence is actually enhanced by the open and often obtuse nature of the game itself that allows the player to discover elements of the world on their own. Let's imagine that the director was actually talking about the straightforward nature of progression, meaning once you die in the game that's the end of that run. Imagine the director is a huge fan of roguelikes where permadeath is the name of the game. Like Dark Souls, death would be a teaching tool, only this time you have to learn a larger and more pronounces lesson on how to survive instead of just how to survive what area you just died at. Imagine the obsession of completing the game and finding all the secrets that are there that require surviving in the face of pure defeat. Of course, some things about the game experience would have to be changed to accommodate this and prevent cheap annoying deaths that would ruin the experience. It could be done, and it could be an incredible and thrilling experience for those that go in with an open mind! Imagine the feeling of accomplishment at finishing that kind of Dark Souls II.

@AskWheels Tie for Capcom and Sony for me.  Why SEGA?

-MHRelias


Wheels

(This was in response to me tweeting that Sega was the only company I both hated and loved with equal measure)

Well, let's start with the love part shall we? I love the RPG series they've been able to create even if they don't always keep them going. The Shining series and Oasis games were certainly highlights of my childhood. I enjoyed the Sonic games of course. I was a huge fan of the Saturn and interesting new series like Panzer Dragoon. The Sega Saturn is of course where we start to get into the hate. Sega of America wasn't exactly managed well, and the Saturn was a huge bust. Which lead to a small print run of Panzer Dragoon Saga and my search for a copy (for a decent price) that took over a decade. Then the Dreamcast came along with none of the franchises I had loved on the Saturn and new Sonic games that I couldn't get into in the slightest. Throw in a bad revival of the Shining series and I'm sure you can see where that stems from. Still, Sega despite all their troubles manages to find creative people and pump out some amazing stuff (and some awful stuff yes) so I continue to follow the company with interest. Now if they could just get their Western operations into a better working order...

Oh and you have the time to write in I'd love to know why you hate/love Capcom and Sony!

Parte Quattro

Hey Wheels,

Hope you don't mind me writing in so much.

Regarding Final Fantasy Tactics, I love all of the "special" classes like Holy Knight and Divine Knight (and Orlandeau's horribly broken Sword Saint), as well as the Dark Knight class (I once played the game with five Dark Knights - wrecked everything on the battlefield).  Too bad it's such a lengthy process to get just one Dark Knight.  But it's so good, since you can heal yourself, heal MP, and also just crush your enemies.  I just finished the game yet again, loved it.  It's a real shame that you don't see SRPGs from Yasumi Matsuno anymore, really.  I'd love more Ivalice Alliance games and/or Ogre games.  One thing that makes these games so great (to me, anyway) is the translation from Alexander O. Smith and his friends (who did the FF Tactics: WotL translation).  I really enjoy that sort of 18th-19th century dialogue, and the characters feel more sure of themselves with the new translation. 


Wheels

Not at all! I am always in need of questions so constant letters is actually very welcome. Keep them coming!

I love those special knight classes as well! Of course they're horribly broken, making the end game a bit easy if you abuse those characters. Final Fantasy Tactics remains one of my favorite games of all time. It's a real shame that Matsuno ended up leaving Square Enix (and also everything that went on before he left) and I hope that some day he makes some more SRPGs. Sadly I doubt he'll ever go back to Square Enix and work on any of his old series.

Alexander O. Smith and friends did a brilliant job on the War of the Lions translation, and all their other work really. I got to see him and an associate do a panel at PAX East a few years ago talking about the localization process that was incredibly interesting and enlightening. Sadly I didn't know about the panel beforehand so I had none of the games they worked on with me to have signed!

I agree with your comment on Tales of Graces f's lack of world map.  I know a lot of RPG fans love the "traditional" world map, but I'm rather indifferent to the idea.  I guess I can enjoy both of them.  For example, I'm quite excited about Ni No Kuni's more "traditional" world map (less than a month left, and I got the Wizard's Edition!) yet I like what Final Fantasy X offers.


Wheels

Variety is the spice of life! Traditional world maps are fine when done well, but sometimes people get annoyed simply because a game doesn't have one, without any consideration for what it has instead. The traditional world map is a fine enough way to allow for exploring a world, but it came into being due to limitations of early games so RPGs should explore as many exploration methods as possible now that technology allows it. That said I'm really looking forward to Ni No Kuni in general!

I'll check out the Darksiders games, thanks.  They kinda look like "dark" Zelda games, which sounds interesting to me. Could be something to pick up and play while I wait for Ni No Kuni, which is supposed to have lots of content.


Wheels

Give them a try! The second game is a fair bit different than the first, mixing in more aspects of Diablo with loot and a skill tree and less in the way of Zelda type tools. It even manages to work in some Prince of Persia mechanics. Both are worth a try. They obviously wear their influences plainly, but I can't think of any other games out there that mix gameplay ideas quite like them. Here's hoping either THQ sticks around or someone picks up the series. One final note on the Darksiders games is they take place at the same time so there's no need to start with the first one if the second looks more appealing to you.

Wow, I didn't know you've played a good amount of the Suikoden games.  Good stuff.  Yes, I believe that you should definitely play Suikoden III, but I'm not going to hype it up too much. Let's just say that it's a game worth playing, and the key thing to really remember is that its just different.


Wheels

It is way up on my list of games to play in the near future. I can assure you that at the least I will play it before I give Suikoden IV a try. Once I finish my current playthrough of Suikoden II I'll see about firing it up.

Agree with your point on needing better writers for JRPGs.  Though, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the good writing is lost in translation or censored (though nowadays Japan seems to be more censor-happy than the US).  I know a big complaint is teenaged heroes, but Atlus has proven that you can have young characters that are interesting.  Personally, I would like to see storylines that aren't on such a grand scale, for two reasons: Firstly, it feels more realistic (i.e. Suikoden's world feels so much more realistic than most JRPGs) and secondly, it leaves room for continuity and new storylines without recycling too much content.  I was thrilled, for example, with The Last Story's focus on a portion of the "empire".  I'd love more games in the series.



Wheels

A big complaint currently is games focused on teenaged heroes for sure, but I think it's more complaining about the same kinds of teenaged heroes. If more of them were written the way Atlus writes them I doubt we'd see as many complaints. Also I agree we need way more games that focus on a smaller very well defined portion of a world. This is one of the reasons Persona 4 is so great. It clearly defines the town you spend time in and still manages to be a huge RPG despite lacking the ability to "explore". Suikoden also did a great job of focusing on smaller areas of a world. With rising development costs this approach even makes much more sense from a fiscal point of view. Persona 4 probably didn't have the anywhere near the budget of other big PS2 RPGs but manages to be just as big and enthralling.

Okay, sidebar questions time!

1) Will tri-Ace ever make a game on their own again?

Good question.  I could see them making one, but I have a feeling that it won't be for a while.  With the exception of the Valkyrie Profile series, most people agree that tri-Ace can't really tell a story worth a damn.  However, they excel in gameplay (which, arguably, is the most important part of a game).  As such, I could see them helping other companies out by designing the gameplay portion whilst the other developer(s) concentrate on the storyline for a while, until they get some ideas about a story on their own.  Personally, I couldn't get into Resonance of Fate, and I thought Star Ocean 4 was bland enough for me to trade it in rather quickly. 



Wheels

Sorry to hear you couldn't get into Resonance of Fate, but we agreed in that tri-Ace's strength lies in their ability to make compelling gameplay. One of the great things about Resonance of Fate to me is that the game keeps the story to a minimum and let's the player focus on gameplay for the majority of the game. Cut-scenes get longer near the end, but never as long as anything in Star Ocean 4. I think the company may be working on a new engine and some other stuff behind the scenes and just doing some smaller projects. It doesn't seem like the company is any financial trouble, and given that they worked on Final Fantasy XIII-2 I don't think there's any indication they wouldn't work with Square Enix again despite working on some games for other publishers. We agreed in that it probably won't be for a while.

2) Is the 15 million total of Tales games shipped unexpectedly high or low?

I'd say that's quite good for a series that's not insanely popular world-wide.  I wouldn't have guessed that the series sold as much as it did, though I don't know about all of the games that make up the series.  Apparently, things are good enough for Bandai Namco to release some of their games overseas, which I'm thankful for.  So yeah - for a niche series, not bad I say. 


Wheels

I agree, people sometimes seem to think the Tales series is bigger than it is. There's many series out there that would absolutely love to reach that total. I'd love to see the Shin Megami Tensei series get that big!

3) If you could replace a game's soundtrack with that of another, which would they be?

I'd definitely get rid of Tales of Graces f's soundtrack.  I don't remember a single track from the game, and overall it was really bland and uninspiring.  If we were going by games from the same series, I'd easily replace it with Tales of the Abyss's soundtrack.  If from any series, I'd pick something like Final Fantasy IX (since it's more of a lighthearted game than some of the other games in the series) or Star Ocean 2. 


Wheels

Yeah, Graces f didn't have the finest soundtrack in the series. Final Fantasy IX's soundtrack would likely fit the game like a glove. I should try playing it the next time I'm playing Tales of Graces f...

4) What is your GotY and why?

Ooohhhh...let's see.  Out of all of the games I've played this year, the ones that actually came out in 2012 (in the States at least) were Tales of Graces f, Xenoblade Chronicles, and The Last Story.  I found Xenoblade Chronicles to be immensely overrated and gave up after 38 hours or so.  So it boils down to the other two.  If I absolutely had to pick one I think I'd go with The Last Story.  Gameplay-wise, it's kind of a tough decision; Graces f has an amazing battle system and some interesting side quests, and same with The Last Story.  However, the former does have a lot of boring Inn requests while the latter has fewer, but (usually) more meaningful side quests (especially the optional chapters, such as the haunted mansion level and the two post-game chapters).  While The Last Story could use some gameplay tweaking, it's still quite good (especially when playing the game on manual).  Character-wise, I ended up enjoying the Wii game's character's more; both the bad guys and the good guys.  The British dialects and dialogues are welcome, and there's a lot of humor.  Graces f has some great characters as well, and the skits are, per the standard, well done; however, I found myself growing tired of Sophie and Asbel after a while.  The costume design is also better for TLS.  The dungeons are, hands-down, better in TLS as well; Graces f has bland dungeons for the most part.  Graphics, I'd go with TLS.  And finally, I would say TLS has a MUCH better soundtrack.  So, GotY for me is The Last Story.


Wheels

I think a lot of people, including me, will focus a lot of attention on these three games. I love The Last Story but my personal choice would have to go to Persona 4 Golden despite being a port. That game is even more amazing than the original release. If we take ports out of the question, I would go with Devil Survivor 2 for refining the already brilliant gameplay of Devil Survivor. I didn't like the story as much as the first, but the gameplay is the bee's knees. Can't go wrong with The Last Story or either of those two other games really.

5) What book(s) or other non-video-game entity would you like to see made into an RPG?

Off the top of my head, I'd pick Harry Potter.  Not the books, but the world and lore of the books.  There's A LOT of stuff in there that can be made into an RPG.  I actually thought more of a game similar to the early Shining Force games - an SRPG, but with traditional RPG town exploration, NPC conversations, and side quests.  I even made up a few classes, such as Potioneer (similar to FF Tactics' Chemist class) and Death Eater (special class just for some of your enemies).  How about an Auror class?  It could also be a special class for maybe one or two characters that joined you.  Story-wise, I'd want it either similar to Valkyria Chronicles III (where you play as characters who are behind-the-scenes but during the main books' plots, such as the fifth book where a lot of stuff happens off-screen) or something that's set after the books but with new characters (and some old characters too, why not?).  Battle system would be similar to Valkyria Chronicles (which, in my opinion, is the next step of the SRPG battle system), especially since everyone would be long-ranged due to fighting with wands.  Also, while there could be different town areas, I'd like a main "hub" sort of town or house, maybe The Burrow?  I dunno, that sounds pretty exciting to me.  Maybe have unlockable trivia as well, about characters and even items, or maybe have something where you finish the game and then can access something that gives you a sort of "world tour", with the ability to click on items to learn more about them, even if it's something like a desk (similar to one of the things you got if you bought the international version of FF VII). 

Phew, that was a lot.  Talk to ya soon.

Krishna


Wheels

All I can say is that I am now pining for a Harry Potter game that will probably never happen!

Thanks for the great questions and game idea!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week!

-Wheels


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What I Can't Wait For:

1. Etrian Odyssey IV

2. Soul Hackers

3. DmC: Devil May Cry

4. Ni no Kuni

5. Shin Megami Tensei IV

On my Playlist:

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2. Persona live

3. Less Than Jake

4. Queen

5. Reel Big Fish

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