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January 25th, 2013

01/25- 12:00PM EST

Well this week has been somewhat bittersweet. Ni No Kuni was released to much positive response and I've been having a grand old time with it myself. A lot of effort went into this localization! Still a shame we couldn't get the DS version, but maybe it will be remade for 3DS some day. The bittersweet half of this comes from the news that no one picked up either the Darksiders IP or its developer Vigil in the THQ asset auction. While the franchise will probably be purchased on the cheap by someone, the end to what looked to be a promising developer is quite sad. I wasn't a huge fan of the first Darksiders, but was surprised by the second and have been playing it more than anything else on my WiiU. I'm sure the fine staff will land on their feet, but it seems like they really enjoyed working together. I wish them all the best of luck!

Now then, on to the letters...

The Letters
Dungeon Crawling For the Masses


Recent offerings of dungeon crawlers (some may be a couple years old now) have sold pretty well considering the "niche" appeal and old school trappings.  Ones I've played (especially this past year) were Wizardy on PS3 (Ok), Etrian Odyssey III (Amazing), Unchained Blades (Fun and funny), and Legend of Grimrock on Steam.  What new things or changes should be made/could be made to bring in a newer generation that didn't grow up with these things while keeping some of the old appeal that keeps players like me coming for more?  Do any of these listed (Leave out Elminage!) have any features that should be applied to all?  Have they removed anything from older games that should have been left in?  Love to hear your thoughts!



Now that is a fantastic question! I think the first thing to realize here is that these first-person dungeon crawlers are mostly going to attract a retro crowd, so the importance here is to keep them coming while at the same time creating a game that is  flat out good enough to expand beyond the core audience. Some games of this type such as Wizardry and yes Elminage stick way too closely to old conventions that don't work as well anymore (and even if they didn't they have other issues). For example people want to be able to customize their own party, but no one wants to have to deal with the vagueness of the character classes in many Wizardry clones. These types of games also seem to have a tendency towards awful dungeon design, with too many pointless empty rooms and dead-ends.

The Etrian Odyssey series provides the perfect template for mixing old school appeal with new school design. It has the retro style, with classic turn based combat, music literally made on an old computer (except in IV), classic first-person turn-based exploration, and of course do it yourself mapping on the touch screen. Despite all that, it brings a number of modern features to the table that make the series leagues more accessible than Wizardry clones. Character classes are very clear as to what they are, with well designed skill trees and no need to try and find race/alignment/stat combinations that let you use a class (because Etrian Odyssey games have no race/alignment/stat selection). The series has excellent menu navigation that makes combat and party management easy. The games are quite challenging, but not to the unfair levels many Wizardry clones reach. Finally mixing random encounters with visible F.O.E. enemies provides an interesting wrinkle to gameplay no seen in classic games (except games like Eye of the Beholder that already do on screen enemies).

That of course brings me to Legend of Grimlock. I haven't actually played it yet, but it appears to bring the Eye of the Beholder type dungeon crawler to the modern age with an awesome fresh coat of paint. I think with a slick look like it has and with a focus on real time combat it provides a nice template for getting new Western gamers into the genre. Of course I'm sure it has other modern niceties as well, such as in game mapping?

So in the end what it comes down to is applying modern sensibilities to classic design to create something that is both retro and fresh at the same time. Both Atlus' dungeon crawlers and Legend of Grimlock provide fantastic templates by which developers big and small can learn from. Wizardry clones have a lot of cool things about them, but if they can just modernize their games a bit I think we could see more of a renaissance in this great sub-genre.

A Truly Impossible Challenge

Defend The Indefensible - It was correct not to localize 7th Dragon.  Have fun !  (SeverinMira, sorry for borrowing your new bit, but I thought of this and just HAD to ask it.)



I'm sad to say there's actually lots of good reasons for this but why would you make poor Wheels do this? 7th Dragon would be a highly niche game here in the west on a system that at the time was rife with piracy. Sure somewhat similar games found success (Dragon Quest IX, Radiant Historia) but they had more marketable art styles. Publishers and reatailers alike would and should be worried about 7th Dragon's odd chibi art style. Even the presence of the creator of Phantasy Star wouldn't help. Plus Sega had just had failures to an extent in Shirin and Sands of Destruction.

I hate myself for typing all that.

Moving on, you asked me why I blamed Reggie.  I don't really blame him, but he has always seemed like an idiot to me at press conferences and expos.  I think he said SOMETHING sometime that REALLY annoyed me, but I don't remember any specifics (I think it was localization-based).  You can also read this as "He is the only person I know from Nintendo of America".


That's fair (that he's the only person you know). He is the figure head of the whole North American operation. Still, Nintendo is a large company so there's problem lots of blame to go around when it comes to anything you're mad at the company for. I'm still mad at them for the last Fire Emblem, but who knows what caused them not to localize it. Maybe the whole business department?

Any idea why Ys Strategy was released in Europe but not in North America?  My only guess is that XSeed doesn't like strategy games...


Well XSEED wouldn't have been in on that as it came out way back in 2006, well before they got involved with localizing the Ys series with Falcom (though Ys Strategy wasn't developed or published by Falcom). The game was probably just too old by then to consider localizing (yes I know Trails in the Sky was just as old when they brought it over but that had a great reputation from imports while this did not). Not clear what caused Rising Star Games to pick it up, maybe strategy games are more popular over there? Reviews for it aren't that great so I don't think we missed much? Ys Strategy just seems to be an oddity in what is already an odd licensing history for the Ys series.

I also wonder why Atlus didn't localize Luminous Arc 3 after the first two.  Were the sales of the second game not up to snuff?  Obviously, the first game sold well enough to bring the second over...


That's a good question. It may have not even been sales, maybe just a busy publishing schedule? Or perhaps worries about piracy on the DS? I think that was around the time when piracy on the DS was high, but still relatively difficult to do on the PSP. Probably just a combination of factors. Given their low print runs you can generally tell if a title has done poorly if it is readily available well after release (though this is changing a bit, their big titles are more plentiful) , and neither of the Luminous Arc games are. So I'm going to chalk it up to bad timing, and thus bad luck for Luminous Arc fans. Any Luminous Arc fans out there have more info?

May as well answer some of your questions, too:
1) Dead, but expect Square-Enix to kick or mutilate the corpse in some way (like that teaser site for their new browser game).  Didn't tri-Ace state that they had no intention to continue the series?  Of course, I can't really blame them after the backlash from 3 and 4.  They just never realized that they COULD make a game in that series that fans would like if they just made one small adjustment: portable system.  By not focusing so much on eye candy, everything else would just fall into place. 


You know despite the success of the second Star Ocean game I just never get the feeling that tri-Ace really likes doing sequels. Most of them tend to be worse than their predecessors (again, Star Ocean 2 the exception) and new IP has resulted in masterpieces like Resonance of Fate and Valkyrie Profile. So Square-Enix will probably fire up some ports and such but I don't think (barring an infusion of young talent interested in working on it) tri-Ace will want to be involved.

2) It won't fix ALL of the issues, but hopefully it will fix MOST of them.  For example, the battle-less first few hours (took me three...) can't be fixed.  However, my main complaint with the game can easily be fixed: ALL battles help you master jobs instead of only battles that are high-enough in level (I don't think I stated this in the best possible way, but you should get my idea).


I haven't been paying detailed attention to info on the remake of Dragon Quest VII but I'm sure many battle tweaks will be in order. That said there's more issues I'm unsure of, such as the length of time taken to get to the job system. Being a popular game in Japan, I have a feeling that may not be in the cards for a tweak. Who knows? I'm OK with the game staying a slow burn, but I doubt many agree with me especially after the reaction to Final Fantasy XIII. Whatever they do change I hope it works out for the better.

4)  I'm going to have to go with Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy.  I am such a sucker for nostalgia... 


I can't argue with that in the slightest. I love the nostalgia trip that game provides, and it is a fine rhythm game in its own right. I wish it had certain songs, but it is somewhat impossible for them to include a catalog that pleases everyone. I would love to see more fan focused games like this and less All the Bravest.

The runner up was Dust: An Elysian Tail. When I thought about the games form this year, I was really surprise when I realized how highly this ranked.  Definitely the first time an indie title has been that high on my yearly list (Zeboyd's games never make it to the list because I never find time to play them the year they are released).


I actually haven't played that game or even have any recollection of what it looks like! I think I need to fix this...

Other strong contenders were LEGO: Lord of the Rings (most immersive LEGO game yet) and Devil Survivor 2 (making a great battle system even better).  The Last Story and Xenoblade would probably be on this list somewhere if they weren't still sealed.


Is LEGO: Lord of the Rings that good? I've never been able to get into the LEGO games for some reason but I wanted to try that one. Devil Survivor 2 is a huge contender for game of the year for me, even more so than The Last Story and Xenoblade. The refinement of combat from the first game and an interesting story kept me playing through that game with hardly a break. I'm glad I'm not the only one that thought it was that good! I hope the sub-series continues with a third game on 3DS.

I want to point out that Final Fantasy XIII-2 WOULD have been my GOTY......if it didn't have a sequel-bait ending.

Always localization-hungry,


Well I had a long list of issues with XIII-2 (I prefer the first game), but oddly that didn't bother me as much. I think we all knew another sequel was coming beforehand, but I can see why it annoyed people so much. I guess had I liked the game more I would have been right there with you! I did love the game's soundtrack at least. Anyway, thanks for the letter! What are you most looking forward to this year?

Kirby X Twitter

@AskWheels what is your favorite Kirby ability?



Well that is a fantastic question with so many possible answers. Do I choose some of the classic abilities like that laser thing I got to use in some of the early games? Do I choose something from that strange yarn based game that I never played? Or perhaps I choose something from his often dominating performances in Super Smash Brothers? I think the last one has to be the answer. I loved his ability to transform into a giant rock or anvil (it's been awhile) and smash down on people. I used that often for devastating effect. Still, my actual favorite thing would have to be singing Kirby with a Link hat on. He looked so cool! So yeah, favorite Kirby ability would be Kirby as Link, if that counts.


Final Fantasy x Apple

Hey Wheels,

With many RPGamers being upset by new iOS titles like Final Fantasy: Dimensions as well as spin-offs like Final Fantasy: ATB, what would your dream iOS Final Fantasy? What would the business model look like?

Your bud,

Trent Seely


My dream Final Fantasy for iOS is actually something very similar to Final Fantasy: Dimensions. The initial app should let you create a party and do some intro dungeons (and it should be free). Then, the DLC would be a large number of different adventures to take your party on of varying sizes. Some could even be whole classic Final Fantasy games! DLC pricing could vary based on size so if you were just looking for a short adventure you could buy something cheap. You could even add social features like transferring parties to friends or even loaning out characters. They could even release an adventure editor that let people create their own adventures that could then get approved and added to the in-game content sore. Now how cool would that be?

That's it for this week!


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