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Q&A Does What Nintendont
January 11th, 2013

01/11- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to a very Sega flavored edition of Q&A! I'm sure by now you all know my love/hate for the company but they've made so many interesting RPGs there's always a reason to talk about them. I just wish they'd make a 7th Dragon game on a system that would give it a chance to come out over here!

OK Let's jump right into the first letter, which is actually not Sega related...





The Letters
The Odyssey Of Etrian

Whats your most looked forward too rpg in 2013 in all regions?

-Alan


Wheels

That would have to be without a doubt Etrian Odyssey IV. I've always been a huge fan of first-person dungeon crawlers and the Etrian series has refined the formula to be far less obtuse than its peers while staying challenging. I can't tell you how many lame Wizardry clones I've played where just making and equipping your party is a chore. The Etrian games make party management easy so you can focus on exploring and advancing your characters. I really wish more games would copy it instead of directly copying mechanics from decades old games. Thanks to Etrian and mainline Shin Megami Tensei games, Atlus has proven themselves to be masters of this sub-genre and I eagerly look forward to seeing what adventures the latest Etrian dungeon has in store for me. In reality most of the games I'm looking forward to this year are from Atlus. What games are you looking forward to?

So Indie

In a very real way, the traditional Japanese-style rpg has been replaced by indie rpgs utilizing RPGmaker variations, in the US.  I think that's awesome, as some of the games I've played have been worthy additions to my collection.  A while back I thought up a story for an rpg and even wrote out the entire script for it... but then realized that it wasn't really fitting for a straight 'gather a party and let's go kill the monsters' kind of rpg.  I quickly realized the reason for this was because the story I had written was really fitting for a FFT-style srpg.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any useful software that can reproduce that kind of thing easily, so I had to give up in the end.


Wheels

It used to be that RPGmaker based games were generally mediocre but over the years and especially recently a lot of interesting indie games have come out of it. One notable one would have to be To the Moon which I suppose isn't even an RPG. We've also had some indie games with their own engines that provide gameplay in a similar fashion such as Cthulhu Save the World and the latest Penny Arcade Adventures from Zeboyd. I am equally sad that there is no RPGmaker for Final Fantasy Tactics styled games as I would want to make use of that as well. Perhaps someone will eventually fill the void?

When it comes down to it, a lot of rpg fanboys have great ideas but not the ability to take care of the technical aspects of such projects. Because of the 'maker' software, independent games have begun to grasp a part of the market, but it is not yet enough.  The currently existing software is dated and can only produce FF-format games with small twists on the gameplay.  While that's fine for nostalgia, I'd like to see something of at least PS2 quality in terms of easy rpg-development software with a wider variety of gameplay options become available.


Wheels

That would be nice! I've been interested in game making software but it always seems to be well behind the times from a technical standpoint. I'm sure it would be pretty hard to create but people are still using the 2D RPGmaker so there must be an audience! There doesn't seem to be software with even PS1-era 3D capabilities. Oh well, we can only hope someone makes it right? Still, now you've got me interested in messing around with RPGmaker!

To be blunt, if we are going to see the next Xenogears or Suikoden (in terms of story quality and thematic maturity) it isn't going to come out of Japan as things stand.  So the only real choice is for fanboys and believers in substance in rpg stories to give wings to a new epic.  I know I sound cynical and pessimistic, but I've yet to see one of my negative predictions about the course of video games not come true. 

Sincerely,
Travis Lucius


Wheels

I disagree with that, as I've already seen games like that coming from Atlus, frequently even. If you mean more main stream games with HD graphics on home consoles then you're probably right in that regard (unless we see a Persona 5 on home consoles soon). These kinds of RPGs are out there, from Japan, just not coming from the usual suspects. Have you played Radiant Historia? Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey? Resonance of Fate? Heck, I think I could even list Trails in the Sky. They exist! What fanboys need to do is stop expecting new entries in the series that had these kinds of themes and look at some of the other series out there. Don't give up on these kinds of games!

PS: While epics like Dragon Age and the Mass Effect Trilogy prove the exception to the rule, modern western role-playing games don't tend to produce great stories, at least partially due to the focus on freedom (as it is harder to write a decent and cohesive story for a game where the player's movements aren't restricted).


Wheels

While that was once the case that's begun to change a bit. The popularity of BioWare's games has helped more story focused games like The Witcher and the great storytellers at Obsidian seem to have a lot of things in the works. Games like Oblivion and Fallout 3 are highly popular for sure but efforts from other developers have produced less than ideal results. For that matter, Bethesda seems to have trouble with the design themselves as each new entry in the Elder Scrolls series seems to be buggier than the last. Even a spiritual successor to Planescape Torment is in the works. So while sandbox type RPGs continue to be popular I think BioWare's continued success may prompt more story focused RPGs in the future, or at least we can hope it does!

Out With the New In With the Old

Many (myself included) have complained a8out the transform8tion of the Shining series into crappy action rpgs, 8ut is there a pl8ce for Sega to have 8oth Shining Force as traditional SRPGs and Valkyria as more modern experimental ones? Weigh in wheel!


Wheels

There can be a place for both Shining Force and Valkyria in Sega's catalog. They already showed this with the release of Shining Blade. I suppose that doesn't necessarily count given the game features battle similar to Valkyria Chronicles only set in more of a fantasy setting. Still Shining Force could easily be used as a lower budget SRPG series on portables and even mobile phones and they could keep Valkyria going on perhaps the Vita? As long as they don't make more games like Shining Force Neo.

Do you think we'll ever see a Phantasy Star with a plotline that isn't just an excuse/tutorial for offline shenanigans again? PSO and its progeny have had their ups and downs, 8ut it's sad that one o the pioneering examples of the genre has essentially not gone 8ack to the things it pioneered since friggin' 94


Wheels

It seems unlikely at this point. I don't think the classic titles have quite the following that the online Phantasy Stars have managed to gather. Since Phantasy Star Online 2 is a free to play title that may expand the audience for the online games even further. Despite that I could see Sega doing another story based Phantasy Star at some point. I'd love to see them team with someone like BioWare or Obsidian to make such a game, perhaps even tri-Ace. Perhaps they could even do a retro-styled Phantasy Star V? There doesn't seem to be any indication they're interested in making such a project but stranger things have happened.

Skies of Arcadia 2, where is it, and why haven't you played the first yet?

-FBM


Wheels

Well I haven't played the first because I'm saving it for a "rainy day" when I really need a classic style JRPG to play. As far as the lack of a sequel goes I'm sort of surprised it hasn't happened yet. You can see with the inclusion of characters from that series in Valkyria Chronicles and the latest Sega Racing game shows that developers within Sega and/or working with Sega really enjoyed the original. That's generally a good sign that people really want to work on a sequel and I wouldn't be shocked to see it happen. Perhaps the first step would be for them to re-release the game on online services like they've done for other Dreamcast classics. They could even get the GameCube version on WiiU once Nintendo starts offering downloadable GameCube games. It's long overdue for a sequel but I honestly think this is one that could legitimately happen.

SEGA

Wheels!  I heart thou, and I hast missed thee.  (In the humble dialect of Cyan)


Wheels

Why thank you! I'm glad you enjoy the column. Let's see what you've got on your mind!

So, I wrote you a little letter telling you of my love for NiGHTS Into Dreams.  I really enjoy that game and consider it to be the crowning achievement of Sonic Team.  It really is probably their best work, though I must say that it is hotly contested by The Adventures of Sonic 1 and 2.  At that point, I guess it all comes down to taste, although arguably the Sonic games are clearly more expansive.  But  understandably, this is an RPG forum, and so, I just wanted to use those games as a sort of backdrop of my love for what Sega has done on the networks lately.


Wheels

Nights is just pure joy in game form. On a system without a proper Sonic game Nights was the go to game for many fans of the system. I'm not sure why it took so long for Sega to revisit the franchise, nor do I know if the sequel is any good, but the original still stands as a wonderful and unique game. I'm not a fan of the Sonic Adventure games but on Nights we are in complete agreement. I'm glad they have finally released it digitally so that everyone can enjoy it.

So my wonderful girlfriend got me Resonance of Fate for Christmas along with some Beats Wireless.  I really am enjoying this masterpiece.  I really have a lot of respect for Tri-Ace and Tri-Crescendo.  I think they make quality pieces of art.  I have nothing but love for most of their titles that I have played, though i know you are not much a fan of the Star Ocean series, which is odd because in my personal opinion I feel that it eclipses Tales games in every single way.  Maybe you should give them another shot?


Wheels

A wonderful gift! I'm sure you know how much I enjoy Resonance of Fate and its unique battle system. Though people complain that Sega didn't market it well enough, there's no denying that they graced it with one of the best localizations I've seen in some time with a brilliant selection of voice actors. As far as the Star Ocean series goes, it's more that I'm not a fan of the third entry in the series and that has stopped me from diving into the other titles. I'll give Star Ocean 2 a try.

Resonance of Fate reminds me of Valkyria Chronicles, Wild Arms, and Final Fantasy VI.  The battle system is so amazing and such a grand experience, it is unlike any battle system I have played.  I love the mechanics, the charging, the moves, it gets really intense when things get critical in their condition.  I'm very happy about this game.  What is Tri-Ace currently working on?  Was this the last game they released?


Wheels

I got somewhat of the same Final Fantasy VI vibe out of the game, but didn't feel much of the other two, unless we're strictly talking about the first Wild Arms. The mechanics are unlike anything else, relying on timing, strategy, and careful placement of each character all at once. I'd really love for them to make some kind of sequel at some point. After this game tri-Ace worked on a PSP game and a 3DS game for Konami, neither of which were localized. They worked a bit on Final Fantasy XIII-2 and are rumored to be working on the follow up as well. Other than that, their future projects are a mystery.

While I have mentioned Wild Arms, I would like to bring up a few things.  I think that it is a shame that a lot of game companies have abandoned their bringing of new titles in beloved series to this generation.  It seems to me that their focus is on big blockbuster hits because it takes a moderate amount of money and energy to make these next gen titles so they neglect their grassroots titles and need to make a sure-fire hit to not lose money.  Hence we haven't seen any next gen Wild Arms or Personas, Chronos or Suikodens.  I haven't really been much of a handheld gamer because I try to immerse myself in the surroundings of where I am at outside of my home, though I really do like the style of the handheld game, I just feel that when I'm at home, the most immersion I am going to get is my tv screen because of its size and the sound of my system.  However, I think the success of the handheld market destroys the creative possibility of incredibly great games on this current generation of platforms, namely, the PS3 with its Blu-Ray capabilities and generations of a single pad.  So what do you think about all of this?  Don't you think we are missing out on a lot of possibility?  I know that 'What If's' are automatically inherent of regrets and 'who knows' but seriously, am I right?  Or am I wrong? I feel like this generation is full of so much waste potential.  I wanna see a 100% 3D remake of Secret of Mana.  I wanna see a Final Fantasy VI prequel with a real time battle of the War of the Magi, giant Magitek and Espers charging toward each other in a battle for the world.  I feel as though I'm being robbed of these titles for some odd reason.  I would like to know why...


Wheels

I don't quite agree with that. Don't get me wrong, there are amazing things that could be done with HD RPGs that new handheld RPGs just can't handle, but creative teams should be able to make fine games on portables, and so they have. I understand the reality of wanting great RPGs on a home console to enjoy. At the same time, would we ever even get retro-styled games like Etrian Odyssey that make a new experience with an old style? I'm not so sure. It'd be best if developers were focusing on both, but with the realities of the Japanese market that's not quite happening. I think we will see a Persona 5 on home consoles (and possibly Vita at the same time) but Chrono and Suikoden are seemingly dead series. Now that said if we strictly focus on Square Enix titles I think you'd have a point. The Final Fantasy series is still very popular worldwide but they've failed to get more than Final Fantasy XIII and its sequel out on HD consoles. I think that's a huge waste. A Final Fantasy VI prequel would be amazing, glad to hear I'm not the only one to think that. So long story short, I don't think handhelds rob games of potential (especially now that we have the 3DS and Vita) but I understand your desire to play new great RPGs on a TV. At the very least the PSP and PSP Go have video out options so you can play those games on a TV. Perhaps if the Vita catches on we'll see more JRPGs get dual PS3/Vita releases to please everyone?

Anyway, I greatly appreciate your dedication to the column.  You really have continued the tradition of the Rpgamer forum, which I started reading back when I was 12.  I will turn 28 on the 29th this month.  So thanks, it always makes me feel relaxed and like the world is still alright.

Your pal in Salt Lake City,

Ian W Bathelt (WarmCoat)



Wheels

Thank you sir! I do my best and I'm glad you enjoy the column. Keep writing in!

P.S.  Props to Sega lately.  They are awesome.


Wheels

agree! Their digital releases have been great (except for perhaps Sonic 4 Episode II) and they put a nice cap on the year with a racing game that pays tribute to their diverse past. I'm looking forward to seeing what Sega does next. They seem to have gotten their operation into better order!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week, who else is pumped for the second half of the Persona 4 anime coming out next week?

-Wheels


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