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8-bit Q&A Heroes
February 8th, 2013

02/08- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to a very Ys-y edition of Q&A! I'm taking a break from my Fire Emblem addiction to enjoy some Ys now that the most recent remake of the first two games is now available on Steam. One of you has won a copy as well! I'll be e-mailing the winner a code some time today.

Now let's get right to the letters, because Fire Emblem isn't going to play itself (at least not without killing all my favorite characters)!
 





The Letters
Sega: The Cause of All Woes

Hi there. This is a first for me. I usually steer clear of interacting with.. well, anyone online. That's true for most facets of my life. I like to spend most of my time by myself, game by myself (usually though, because most people I encounter in games are the "YOU'RE A GIRL OMG" or "hey baby good game lemme get dem digits" types), watch movies and listen to music by myself, etc. To me, the experience is enhanced when I can feel what I need to feel without someone else there to present possible ridicule. I know that's a terribly pessimistic way to go about things, but that's just how I am.


Wheels

I understand, the internet can be an unfriendly place, especially Xbox Live! At least here on Q&A, you need not worry about such things. Glad you took the time to write in!

Anyways. I've been following and reading pretty much everything on RPGamer for a bit over ten years now, and I never once stopped to write in. When I saw you say no one wrote in regarding this contest, that inspired me to write in. In any event.. I have two weak ideas that can make up one moderately solid entry. The first is Crystalis. It was sort of ported to the Game Boy Color, but it's led to believe that it's a separate game due to the different opening sequence and parts of the backstory/music being changed. I'd love to see a full-on remake of this. I mean, yeah 3D Dot Game Heroes is pretty much as close as we're going to get, but a girl can dream.


Wheels

You know, I never got around to playing Crystalis back in the day but I know you aren't the only one who'd like to see the game return. It seems like it could even be a good fit as a downloadable game. There's plenty of 16-bit styled Action RPGs on services like iOS so a remake of Crystalis would fit right in. Plus it would give people like me who've never played it a chance to give it a try! Maybe you can provide some more insights about the game if you write in again? Also, 3D Dot Game Heroes is a fine game.

My second idea was GOING to be a Phantasy Star remake, but I did some research while I had this email open and learned that they did in fact remake it as Phantasy Star Generation 1. In fact, there are (and were) going to be remakes of I through IV, but progress on the fourth one got halted, and that caused the localization of the remakes to North America to be canceled, which BACONing sucks. We have ports of all four on the Wii Virtual Console, and a port of II on Xbox Live Arcade, but there's only so many times I can play the same game. I would absolutely love for these remakes to see the light of day over here, but it just doesn't seem likely.

I should write in more often, or rather, keep on writing in after this. Hope you enjoy the ideas. Take care.

~Melody~


Wheels

This series needs remakes in the worst way. Phantasy Star IV is the only game in the series that hasn't aged very poorly over the years. They could skip Phantasy Star III but I&II need complete remakes in the worst way. The combat is still largely fine but the dungeons, especially the first person ones in the first game are very tough on the modern gamer. Sega seems to be doing very well on PSN/XBL so perhaps this could be one of their future downloadable game projects? I don't think it's completely of the question.

As for the Phantasy Star IV remake for PS2, I actually had that reserved at EBGames for the longest time! I don't remember if they canceled it when the project was canceled, or if I canceled it myself when I realized the game was never going to come out. Either way it was profoundly disappointing!

Thanks for the letter, and please feel free to write in again!

World of Q&Acraft


  I dunno if you're a gent who enjoys MMORPGs as I do (all started for me because I had an awesome opportunity to beta and then sub for Ultima Online when it rolled out thanks to my buddy's dad), but my wife and I were looking over my past subscription/free to play/buy to play experiences.  I realized I'd never stayed in a game that started F2P more than a month (maybe 2...) and even less for a game that started B2P or sub and then transitioned to F2P.  The games I subscribed to the longest were Ultima Online, Everquest, City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and now The Secret World.  I was looking for the link between these and other favorites that ended too soon (Tabula Rasa, it had it's problems but oh was there so much to build on!!!).


Wheels

I have been, but not nearly as much as you are! Being a Mac user I didn't have too many MMO opportunities. However I was able to get into the private beta of World of Warcraft and eventually bought the full game and played it a great deal for the next few years. Did I max out any characters? Not by a long shot. However I did sink huge chunks of time into it. So despite my issues with the genre I was still able to extract a great deal of enjoyment out of it. Granted a lot of my time was spent alone, somewhat defeating the point of an MMO, but that's besides the point! I also dabbled in Everquest and City of Heroes a bit but could never get into either. Wasn't there an Ys MMO at some point?

I can't say the setting specifically is the link, because they're all quite different!  Sci-Fi, Sci-Fantasy, Fantasy, Modern Day.  I wouldn't say the genres or the stories were similar for what drew me to them either.  So it's gotta be something more meta/spiritual/emotional/visceral/what have you. Ultima Online gave me a sandbox and a community with the ability to craft EVERYTHING that I wanted to use and make a home for myself or a business (I've ALWAYS wanted to play an innkeeper or blacksmith and be the shopkeep for the adventurers). Everquest gave me a grand epic to enjoy and introduced me to dynamic group play. City of Heroes gave me the ultimate (at the time) character creation to really make a unique and fun persona to play that hasn't been replicated for me yet. World of Warcraft... was what it was at launch, fun and fast and great solo or group content.  I left after Burning Crusade and never had the itch to play again. EVE Online I still occasionally re-up to take my mining barge out and set a few station manufacturing lines to crank out ship blueprints.  I love everything about it except the uber-harsh open PVP (I'm such a carebear >_<).


Wheels

Ultima Online and Everquest looked like interesting classic styled PC RPGs to me and I always wanted to try and get into them, but at that point having played World of Warcraft it was really hard to go back to lots of archaic mechanics! City of Heroes was fun to get into, but I just didn't play it enough to justify the monthly fee. I'm kind of sad I didn't jump back into it when it went free to play. I'm pretty sure I also left World of Warcraft shortly after Burning Crusade. The PVP in EVE Online sounds pretty harsh, but would you recommend giving the game a try anyway? I've been curious.

This leaves The Secret World in my initial list.  It's the only game I've ever considered (and subsequently purchased) a lifetime sub for if it was available.  I have not regretted the decision ONCE.  It is everything I wished I could have built into the game with Ultima Online story-wise.  My old guild used to MAKE our own investigation/mystery quests on Catskills server, now I get to enjoy it as part and parcel of the game.  It combines story, setting, action, group and solo content, character customization (it keeps getting better), and the community is almost perfect for grouping.


Wheels

Does it really? The little I saw of it at PAX East last year didn't impress, but then I guess MMOs don't always demo well given they're very lengthy and involved experiences. I may have to look into this game some more. Or I guess I could always try Ultima Online if that is still running?

What MMOs, if any, have you been willing to pay for and play?  Also, how have they stood out from others to make you want to do so?

-MH Relias


Wheels

Really World of Warcraft was the only one I have been willing to pay for and play for any length. I tried to get into Final Fantasy XI but it just wasn't happening. Mainly what made it able to do so was a familiar setting, fine tuned game mechanics, and the ability to cancel for any period of time and have your characters waiting for you when you resubscribe. Why haven't I gone back? I was big on PC games when I was in college so World of Warcraft just came out at the right time. Past that point, I now much prefer console and portable gaming. My computer primarily gets used for stuff like, writing this column! So I think to get back into an MMO it'd have to be on consoles and be a well designed experience (perhaps Dragon Quest X or the new version of Final Fantasy XIV). I kind of like Knights of the Old Republic, but not enough to pay for that one (glad it went free to play). Anyway as I am very lacking in terms of MMO knowledge I'd like to hear more about Ultima, EVE, and Everquest! Please write in with some stories some time.

So Much Ys-ier

Q&A Question:

What's your history with Falcom and its games? Do you prefer the Ys series or the Trails in the Sky series? I'm something of a new-age Falcom fan myself. I played Ys III: Wanderers from Ys back on SNES, and I remember constantly getting stuck because it was so hard. Years passed and I sort of forgot about Ys, until I played Ark of Napishtim on PS2. I really enjoyed the game at the time, and was pretty upset at its incredibly short length because I wanted it to keep going! After another hiatus from the series, I became truly hooked when XSEED revived Ys in North America. I must have watched the trailer for Ys Seven something like twenty or thirty times. Man, that music! I sprung for the limited edition of the game, and loved it so much that I did the same for Oath in Felghana a few months later. Now THAT was the game that cemented me as a lifelong Falcom fan. It's a perfectly-paced action RPG with some of the most rockin' music I've ever heard. To say I'm excited for Memories of Celceta would be an understatement.


Wheels

Oh Good old Falcom. I am a new-age Falcom fan as well, but I do have some sordid memories of early Falcom games. I may have played Faxanadu back in the day, but the one game I know I played was Legacy of the Wizard. That was a brutally difficult game! I may have had my first taste of Ys by renting Ys III for SNES, but I can't recall for sure if I had rented it. I did play the dungeon crawler with comple rotation of the game world whenever you needed to turn (Brandish). That was a strange game! I then, having read about Ys in a gaming magazine years later, ended up downloaded and trying a rom of Ys for the NES. That was a shame because it was a horrible port and kept me uninterested in the series for years. I also tried Ark of Napishtim on the PS2, but because someone told me it was similar to Secret of Mana. Finding out this wasn't really the case, I never gave it much of a chance and sold it. That ended my sordid pre-fan Falcom history.

So what finally got me to give Ys a fair chance? I listened to a podcast detailing the history of Falcom and was very intrigued by their sordid history (and the fact that several strange games I played as a kid were connected). There was much praise for the TurboGrafx-16 version of Ys I&II, so given that it is available on the Wii virtual console I decided to give it a try. That did it! The fantastic music, fun bump combat, and classic 8-bit stle sucked me right in. How much? I actually imported Oath in Felghana for the PC direct from Falcom and played through it well in advance of XSEED's PSP release. Now completely sucked into the series, I began importing like crazy and watched the trailer for Ys Seven over and over again as well. I didn't like Oath in Felghana as much on PSP but still enjoyed having it on the go. With the fantastic Memories of Celceta on the way West (I've imported and enjoyed it) and many of the games now on Steam, the series future looks bright indeed.

I'll end with three final notes on Falcom:
-I love Trails in the Sky but I'm still primarily an Ys fan
-I did finally give Ys VI the proper chance I should have to begin with
-I could spend all day listening to Ys music

Contest Entry:

I would love an updated version of StarTropics. The unique combination of sci-fi and tropical environments remains really appealing to me, and I'd like to see it remade in high-quality (but retro-style) pixel art. Think something like a modern-day Secret of Mana, with platforming elements, tighter combat, and an expanded story. (No more of that damn tile-jumping nonsense, either!) An experience system would allow for good ol' Mike Jones to level up, increasing his health, power, and speed. Each level would grant Weapon Proficiency points, which could be allocated based on the player's needs. Level two in Slingshot, for example, might shoot two pellets instead of one, and level three would up the total weapon damage. An arranged soundtrack would be nice, too. Finally, there would need to be a puzzle that involves dipping a virtual envelope in virtual water. For old time's sake.


Wheels

Star Tropics! That was a game I read all about in Nintendo Power but somehow never got to play it as much as I wanted to. I would love to see a remake of that strange and unique game, maybe bundled together with its sequel? I think there's a lot they could do with this once they free the game of many of its NES-era conventions (like the tile-jumping). Lots of potential here, and Nintendo did just recently unearth an old NES property in Kid Icarus. Why not revive Star Tropics?

Oh, and one more question. Pikkard bacon: crispy or chewy?

@EmbryonX


Wheels

Crispy, ALWAYS crispy.

Oh Mother

"By the way, no one sent any entries for the new contest in yet! All you have to do is pitch me a remake of an 8-bit RPG similar in style to Ys I&II Chronicles. On to the letters!"

I would love to remake the original mother with the mother 2/3 16 bit sprite style. Maybe 1 or 2 added dungeons, a new playable character, nothing to ruin the soul of the game in any way. And it would be localized.

-Alan


Wheels

Not a bad thing to do, and would be an easy way to get a "new" entry in the series. The original Mother is very grindy and archaic and could use some fine tuning. Apply a fresh coat of paint to the gameplay changes and throw in some extra content and I'm sure fans would eat it up. They could then even release the series in one package of 16-bit glory. That said, I think most fans would prefer a legitimate release of Mother 3 as I don't think anything could be done to Mother to make it as good as the other two entries.

Ni No Kuni Emblem

Happy Valentine's Day! Or it will be when I send you this letter. I hope I didn't just send you a painful reminder. Personally I'm cool with the day; I love an excuse to indulge myself as I "console myself for being single"... (with some Xenoblade, this time). By the way, I love reading your Q & A so maybe that can cheer you up if you're feeling down :)


Wheels

I have no problems with the day! This is because I'm not single, but when I was this day was nothing other than my best friend's birthday. Xenoblade is a fine way to pass the day regardless!

Anyway, I have been playing Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter and "conflicted" is really the only word I feel like I can use to describe how I feel about it. I personally like and dislike different parts of the game, but I do think it actually works well as a unit. Just not my thing exactly. What do you think of the game? I can't believe that is the last Breath of Fire game and that it came out over 10 years ago. I feel pretty bad for Breath of Fire fans... On a somewhat related note, do you think a new entry in a series should still be numbered (or named in a way that indicates it's a main series title) when it is a large departure from the series' traditional play style/structure?


Wheels

I understand. Dragon Quarter can be tough to get into. A lot of its design can be unfriendly to those expecting a traditional experience. Personally I absolutely adore the game and it happens to be my favorite entry in the series. Sadly I ignored it at release like many, so I'm as guilty as any in its failed sales. I consider it a fine way to cap off a series that never really got a major fanbase. Dragon Quarter puts the bang into "going out with a bang".

I usually prefer that large departures be side entries, but given that can effect sales I can understand the argument for making it a numbered entry. Dragon Quarter was numbered in Japan but not here, so clearly that wasn't a factor here. In the end it should depend on the series. A big series like Final Fantasy can handle side entries, but for something like Breath of Fire it makes more sense to do everything as a numbered entry.

I hope you enjoy Dragon Quarter more as you dig farther into it.

I'm not sure how I feel about all the attention Ni No Kuni's getting right now. I think the love for the game right now sends confusing signals to game developers. Not only because of the supposed disparity in popularity in Japan compared to the West, but because Ni No Kuni seems to fit all those "mainstream gamer" complaints of JRPGs being "too slow especially at the start", being "too juvenile", and having "sucky battle systems", etc. (I have not played the game yet so I may have some wrong impressions.) I just think that if this game didn't have "Studio Ghibli" attached to it and if gaming media didn't spend the last few years moaning about a lack of console JRPGs only to pick this one as a "savior", that this game really wouldn't get that much attention. And unless the people who "got back into JRPGs" start buying up the JRPGs that have already been released on these current consoles or splurge on Atelier games or something, I'm not sure this burst for Ni No Kuni will mean much in the future.


Wheels

I think the biggest thing that will come out of Ni No Kuni in the future is the possibility of more large-scale console RPGs from Level-5. There's no doubt JRPGs have been shifting away from consoles in recent years, and most of all I think the game shows that there is still a market for them here on consoles. You definitely have some wrong impressions about the game, but yeah it fits the general style of JRPGs that many gamers often complain about. As for the Ghibli connection, are they really big enough here that their art style is a major draw? I'm not so sure about that. For many gamers I think this may be a case of "absence makes the heart grow fonder". There hasn't been a game like Ni No Kuni since the days the PS2 was full of such games, so perhaps gamers are no longer mad about JRPGs doing the same thing over and over again? We shall see. It doesn't hurt Tales of Xillia 2's chances of being localized, I can tell you that.

Hopefully I get a chance to try out Fire Emblem: Awakening today as it should get delivered this time. I was surprised at the explosion of media related to it and of course the shortages/delays. I feel like the pimping of the game on Nintendo Direct did wonders for that game's sales. Or maybe it did nothing. Either way I hope Nintendo continues to pimp RPGs on its show, if only to make RPGamers like me happy :)

- riulyn


Wheels

Hard to tell how Fire Emblem is doing due to the supply issues, but the shortages surely suggest the game isn't bombing by any stretch. After the game's less than exciting localization announcement I'm glad they're promoting it, even going so far as to do a TV commercial! I don't think you'll be disappointed when you finally get to play it. Speaking of which, I think it's time I get back to it myself. Here's to more Nintendo RPGs in the future (bring on Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei)!
IN CLOSING

See you next week!

-Wheels


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