Welcome to another episode of Ask Wheels! I
finally finished that Elminage game,
so I can now fully apply my attention to
finishing Fire Emblem Awakening and
Etrian Odyssey IV. Soon I'll
be hunting all the monsters I can handle. If
you've got a Wii U and will be getting Monster
Hunter 3 Ultimate let me know so we
can swap Nintendo IDs.
Anyway, time for the letters -- we've got
some hot topics this week!
A Fable Better Left
Hey Wheels. Iíve been meaning to write
something for the Q&A for a while, and
after our discussion on Twitter yesterday
here I am. Before I get to the main subject,
I want to talk about Breath of Fire:
Dragon Quarter since you also
mentioned it on Twitter. It seems to get
quite a bit of hate from what Iíve seen.
Whether itís because of the different
setting or d-counter system, Iím not sure
but personally I enjoyed it. The battle
system was interesting and the d-counter
added some tension to the game, with the
threat of instant death being ever present.
Now then, onto the main subject.
completely agree. It's a
challenging game, but the battle
system is fantastic, the story
is great, and the audio/visual
quality just make it that much
better. It's one of my favorite
games of all time!
While I usually stick to JRPGs most of the
time, I enjoy quite a few western RPGs like
Skyrim and Mass Effect. One
WRPG series Iím not fond of however is
Fable. While theyíre not the worst
RPGs Iíve ever played, each game in the
series is more disappointing than the last.
Well, I said on twitter I would
play devil's advocate and try
and argue that Fable is
great, but this may prove to be
quite difficult. I was just as
disappointed as you as the
series went on, and it really
wasted some good potential.
Anyway, let's dig in!
The first game was a fairly solid title
that, while nothing special, was enjoyable
enough for me to complete. Even though I
liked it, the first Fable didnít
reach my (somewhat lofty) expectations. This
is mainly due Molyneux making it out to be
more than it ended up being. Itís a shame
that he didnít learn his lesson with the
sequels, with more broken promises and
missing features. Each subsequent game in
the series also felt more dumbed down, with
aspects like combat feeling especially
actually thought the first Fable
was quite good, but not due
to the aspects of the game that
were most talked about. I found
the combat to be an absolute
blast, with a lot of different
ways to play, and a great
variety of spells to play around
with. The story and morality
choices were mostly
underdeveloped which were
supposed to be the big drawing
points of the game. Without the
lofty expectations created by
Molyneux, Fable would
likely have gotten a far better
The series lost me right away in
the second game. The combat had
lost all its teeth and the other
aspects were that much better
than the original, making it a
mostly boring experience. Oh
what could have been!
At this point, Iím not really sure if I want
the Fable series to continue. While it could
be interesting to have someone else handle a
new title, itíd probably be best if they
just spent their time working on a new IP,
or something else more worthwhile. In the
end, at least the games were enjoyable
enough, something to play without having to
think too much.
right, I'm supposed to be
playing devil's advocate! Fable
works as sort of an
RPG-lite, and it does seem to
attract an audience less
interested in the hardcore
intricacies often present in RPG
combat. So the audience looking
for interesting moral choices
and easy and fun combat gets
just that out of Fable.
We just aren't those people!
On a completely unrelated note, have you got
Etrian Odyssey IV? I recently
imported the third game which Iím really
enjoying, but I wanted to know what the
latest one is like. Iím assuming itís pretty
much more of the same, which is fine by me.
Still, Iím a little disappointed that the
soundtrack feels less oldschool to me,
replaced by more orchestral tracks. In the
end, itís nice to see that Etrian Odyssey
is finally seeing some love in Europe again,
since itís a series that Iíve always
did pick it up! It is actually
not just more of the same as it
so turns out. I can assure you
for starters that you shouldn't
worry about the new soundtrack.
It's brilliant, and compliments
the new elements and graphics
perfectly. Just picture fully
orchestrated versions of classic
Etrian Odyssey music. As
for the new aspects, the
selection of classes has been
revamped with some more
thoughtfully designed skill
trees so that even returning
classes feel new. The airship
travel functions as a world map,
and there are smaller dungeons
to explorer in addition to the
classic larger ones that seem to
serve as the stratum of this
title. The graphics have been
updated so that this truly feels
like a next gen Etrian
Odyssey instead of just
the usual retro styled romp. Of
course the classic dungeon
crawling challenge is still
there, just bigger and better
than ever. Etrian Odyssey IV
provides an amazing template by
which the series can expand and
grow in the future. I'm very
glad Europe won't be missing
out. Anyway, thanks for the
letter. Sorry I couldn't provide
a better defense for Fable!
Breath of Fire: No
I have loved Breath of Fire and RPGs
in general for as long as I can remember.
When I read this page, I felt an obligation
to reply myself.
This is why Dragon Quarter missed
then, I've been looking
forward to this!
The fans of Dragon Quarter like to
refer to the graphics, the story and the
challenge. But lets be honest here.
Breath of Fire 1 - 4 had GREAT
stories. A major gripe with many fans was
not only the lack on continuity, but taking
the history of the game they loved and for
the most part disregarding it.
I'm not quite sure what you're
referring to here. Yes, the
first four games provided some
sense that the games were
connected and possibly in the
same world, but there was never
anything overt about it. For the
most part they were completely
different stories with similar
elements to them, just like many
JRPGs of the time did. Dragon
Quarter absolutely told a
far different style of tale, but
it was completely devoid of
elements present in the first
four titles. Also, given the
underground setting, Dragon
Quarter could easily fit
into the continuity as a look at
the past or future of Breath
of Fire's world.
The main character Ryu V isn't even a full
blooded dragon anymore. He's a hybrid and
the game actively discourages you from using
your dragon form, even though the original 4
games centered around it and it was part of
what made them so popular. While Dragon
Quarter did have a great story, it is
a popular opinion that it would have done
better as a spin off title in a series of
it's own. Thus leaving room for a more
'fitting' Breath of Fire 5 for fans
of the original 4 and paving way for
Dragon Quarter 2 for fans of DQ.
Well there's a multitude of
issues here. For starters the
full blooded dragon argument
makes no sense to me. Why does
that make it less of a Breath
of Fire game? Ryu isn't a
carbon copy of previous Ryus
every time, so a non-full
blooded dragon doesn't seem out
of the question at all.
As for the original for games
being centered around dragon
form, I would say that's highly
debatable. We're here to talk
about Dragon Quarter
though, so I will say that you
are wrong and dragon form is
absolutely right at the heart of
the game. It doesn't actively
discurouge you from using dragon
form. Instead, given the danger
it presents, it becomes a tool
of last resort that must be
managed very careful. Deciding
the right times to use it is a
central part of the game, and
thus serves as more of central
mechanic than many previous
As for the idea that it should
have been a side entry or
different series, the Breath
of Fire series was never
big enough to support
supplementary titles. Besides,
despite being a radically
different game, the heart and
soul of the series is still
there, and there's no way it
would have sold at all as a
separate non-series title. Dragon
Breath of Fire V, and not
just in name.
On to the graphics. While the cell shading
was well implemented, not a lot of the game
resembled the originals in terms of
character design and art style. This bugged
many people. One cannot call it bad though.
Dragon Quarter was visually stunning,
but again would likely have done better as a
spin off title rather then a series
installment. It was a big change from a game
series that many people liked as it was.
The overhead view and sprites were so
beloved that the style was kept throughout
the PSX era while other popular RPG series (Final
Fantasy) went 3D and had alternating
Again with this idea. Dragon
Quarter would not have
done better as a spin-off. Art
styles often change with new
improved technology, and Dragon
Quarter is no exception.
While the series avoided the
switch to 3D on PS1, there was
no way to avoid it on PS2. This
is another complaint I don't
quite get. Ryu looks instantly
recognizable, and the character
designs aren't a giant deviation
from the series past. They just
aren't sprites, and thus are
naturally going to feel very
different. I bet with more
experience with the technology
under their belt they could have
made an even more amazing
looking Breath of Fire
game possibly further capturing
the spirit of the old artwork in
cell shaded 3D. Most RPG series
made the jump to 3D graphics
when the PS2 rolled around, and
this series was no exception.
Fans should have been overjoyed
that the end result was so
fantastic, regardless of whether
or not it strictly resembled the
sprites of games past. Had the
series stayed 2D I guarantee the
series would have tanked even
On to the challenge. While hardcore Dragon
Quarter fans loved the challenge, for
the most part, it was not received well.
Being forced to replay the game over and
over and over is NOT grinding, it's
replaying the game.. over and over. It's
extremely tiresome. Not to mention that your
EXP doesn't transfer over, only your party
EXP does. While some people may have enjoyed
this, the game was made in a way that people
would find it impossible to even reach
halfway without starting over and that lost
the series many fans. A lot of people don't
want max stats. Some just want to play
through the story and being forced to replay
the game caused a loss of interest.
I myself finished it. I even managed a 1/4 D
ratio with a struggle but it wasn't really
an enjoyable experience in the end. In
retrospect it was annoying.
There are some major problems
with your statements here. For
starters, you say "replaying the
game," which is not accurate
since you're only replaying up
until the point you died or
chose to restart. Further, many
shortcuts are opened so that
there are large chunks that you
don't replay. So, I don't see
how this is far different from
grinding. The average
playthrough is only going to
require maybe two to four
restarts, with one at least
likely to happen earlier on so
there isn't much to replay. I'm
not sure what you mean by maxing
stats though, as there's no
requirement to do so.
I am glad that at the very least
you gave the game a chance,
A few other things to mention:
- You are discouraged from hard saving it as
it will effect your D Ratio. The only way to
make a perfect save is to NOT hard save
This was absolutely pointless.
- Nothing should ever hinder the ability to
save. I'm not saying that we should all be
able to save wherever we want at any point
in time, but when you only get save points
in a game you know you're going to die in
long before you finish it. Well, it's a bit
harsh for non-hardcore RPG fans and isn't
hard to see why a lot of people couldn't
- Traditionally Breath of Fire had a large
interchangeable party with many members from
different tribes. In Dragon Quarter you only
have Lab Experiment Nina and what the woren
clan apparently looks like in the future.
- Dragon Quarter was the first in the series
to not include fishing.
- The Ant Farm was actually quite good but
if used in conjunction with a buildable town
would've likely done even better.
- No world map was a major grip. While the
game is set underground, a world map may
have been a difficult endeavor but something
like Metroid series maps would have
- Restarting the game with the same stats
completely would have been better received.
Afterall, that is essentially NG+
- Having D Ratio upgrade via an entire
playthrough would have made people replay
the game without having to get halfway and
start over. That also would've been received
will counter these point by
- Not in a way that impacts the
average player. Getting a higher
D Ratio was mostly optional and
not essential to beating and
enjoying the game. From my
experience hard saving doesn't
make the game harder and didn't
affect my playthrough in any
negative way at all.
- Except that nothing hampers
the player's ability to save, it
just uses saves in a different
manor than other games. There
are suspend saves (unless you
have the PAL edition), limited
hard saves, and the option to
restart thus providing a hard
save. I understand why it can
frustrate people given the
challenge, but saying the game
hampers your ability to save is
actually not true.
- What's your point here?
Changing cast size is not a new
thing for JRPGs. A small party
fits the story and world more
than an a huge cast would so I
don't see the issue. The cast
should fit the game's style and
story, and not be large just for
the sake of being large. I think
previous entries fell into this
trap, with some superfluous and
- The fishing game was actually
original in Dragon Quarter,
but was cut near the end of
development. No one plays these
games to fish though, so who
- The ant farm was a far better
diversion than any fishing
- Complaining about the lack of
world maps is a major pet peeve
of mine. There a nice feature in
games with large world to
explore, but not every game
needs them, nor should they be
expected to have them.
- It may have, but it would have
been a worse game for it.
- Again with this "start over"
stuff. Starting over in Dragon
Quarter is not the same as
starting over in other games and
that's the whole point of its
systems. I again need to point
out that the number of
"restarts" required for most
players wont be a huge amount.
It is also mitigated by the
extra story sequence that can be
discovered, alternate paths that
can be taken, and the shortcuts
that allow for skipping many
For these reasons Dragon Quarter has
been labeled the series killer. And it's not
hard to see why.
While it was a good game in itself, it
should have been it's own series rather then
following Breath of Fire IV.
That way it wouldn't have had such
expectations and disappointment. It was a
huge change of form from a beloved series.
Beloved series? Sorry, but
"beloved series" don't fade away
due to one entry that suffers
poor sales. Breath of Fire was
never huge, or beloved. I don't
buy that a traditional Breath
of Fire wouldn't have
killed the series all the same.
Dragon Quarter is a Breath
of Fire game and removing
the series title would have
doomed it to absolute and
completely undeserved obscurity.
I mean, you make it sound like
they Shining Force Neo-ed
the series or something.
Yes, Dragon Quarter was a good game,
it was challenging and it was innovative.
The story was great and the character design
and overall graphics were brilliant. But on
the whole, it doesn't hold a candle to the
original series nor do it justice. In fact
it took a tried and true brilliant battle
system and progressive story and butchered
it. Of course, that's only when you consider
it a series entry. I like to see it as
simply "Breath of Fire - Dragon Quarter"
and drop the "V" entirely to delude
myself and make the game seem better.
holds a candle to the original
series, and even offered
glimpses of how new and old
could be meshed together in the
future. In fact it completely
eclipsed them by creating one of
the best and most unique RPG
experiences of all time. If fans
can't get past the fact that a
game is both radically new, and
still at its heart a Breath
of Fire game, then
frankly the series deserves to
Hey Wheels (or whomever is running the
Been a while since I sent a letter, so I
thought I'd bug you.
Truth be said I haven't been playing many
RPGs lately, due to the fact I've been
waiting for Metal Gear Rising's
release...that, and I haven't finished
playing Final Fantasy XIII-2 yet.
Metal Gear Rising,
another game in a good year for
action titles! I'm going to have
to try that at some point.
Anyway, let's talk about Final
Fantasy XIII-2 and
But, well, since I've beaten Metal Gear
Rising (and still waiting for some
extra content), I've decided I've got some
catching up to do.
Thing that bothers me though, lately, is
that a lot of DLC (downloadable content)
tends to make itself harder than I am
capable of obtaining.
Here's an example:
I'm playing XIII-2 and I decided to
pick up Jihl Nabaat as an add-on DLC assist
character. I figured I'd do that as a
joke-nod to Aerith (FF7, she's dead,
Jihl's dead but she's DLC, get it?
Resurrecting Jihl). But, as I soon found
out, Jihl is no pushover. You have to BEAT
her and HOPE you can get her crystal to join
Same goes for the Lightning versus Caius DLC
that came out not long afterwards.
It seems like every DLC they give us lately
is something we have to EARN and work hard
for...what the heck?
Yeah, DLC in some cases that is
very tough to access or complete
can feel like a waste of money.
It's especially bad in FFXIII-2
because they provide characters
you can add to your party, but
obtaining those characters isn't
always feasible until the end of
the game. At that stage, what's
the point of getting new
characters even if one of them
is the amazing Ultros? I was
Okay, granted, I am not a lazy individual,
but when it comes to Active Time Battle (or
the equivalent) I have an extremely hard
time fighting certain bosses or jumping
through the flaming hoops that current-gen
games present to me, just to obtain the
content I so carefully purchased with my
wallet. Why so difficult?
Maybe I'm just getting too old...I dunno.
No, It's not just you; the DLC
bosses were far too hard.
Part of the reason I like Disgaea,
really, is that the character art designs
look EXACTLY as they appear in-game. True,
that never used to be, but with PS3
graphics, it's never been a better time to
enjoy those games and the diversity and time
consuming they represent.
It's my wish that more RPGs took this route.
Less super-deformed chibis, more
well-designed excellence with gameplay to
match that quality. The artists for the Langrisser
and Grandia games for example...such
beautiful artwork wasted on teeny tiny
pixels. They need to ramp up the graphics
for such games, really.
Graphical consistency is
something more games need to
achieve. Remember the old Final
Fantasy manuals with art
of the characters that didn't
look anything like their in game
designs? You're right on the
money here. There are many
amazing artists involved in JRPG
development and too often their
art doesn't properly translate
I'd also like to see Vagrant Story's
gothic-comic-book style make a comeback too.
Imagine what that game would be like in High
Definition, heck, if Final Fantasy
Tactics took that route or looked the
same quality as any current-gen Final
Matsuno is not even currently
working on anything! I would
absolutely love some HD remakes
of Ivalice games, and I think
there's an audience there to
support them. Come on
Square-Enix, nevermind that HD
update of Final Fantasy X!
Another thing that seems to feel like it's
missing from RPGs (at least in my eyes),
By that I mean, in most RPGs there's some
complication or some THING that gets in the
way of a lovely couple. It seems like
it gets worse and worse with every new
If you've seen Snow and Serah in Final
Fantasy XIII...you 'know' what I'm
talking about. Weren't those two supposed to
get married? Didn't Cloud Strife and Tifa
Lockheart become a couple? The last 'good'
couple I heard of was Squall and Rinoa, and
they aren't exactly perfect either.
Yeah, there never seem to be
resolved romances in most RPG
romances for that matter. For
example, Locke and Celes, for
instance, appear to have a
romantic relationship, though it
lacks resolution. These
relationships don't seem to be
mature. Who's writing this
All I see is fighting and arguments and
implications that couples don't get along.
What the heck? Where's the love?
For that matter, where's the Dating-sims?
The last game I heard that had something
equivalent to a Dating Sim was "Catherine".
But that was more of a puzzle game than an
don't know if I'd even qualify Catherine
as a dating sim, but yeah --
that's about the closest thing
I haven't played the Ar Tornelico
games, much less Agarest War, the Atelier
games, or Thousand Arms...but I
would like to see a more pronounced and
integrated dating system in an RPG...even if
it's just a fan-service side quest that has
no bearing on the full game (and no, Star
Ocean's multiple endings don't really
None of those games have
anything approaching a
pronounced dating sim. Ar
Tonelico gives the
illusion that it does, but
mostly it's a way to explore the
sub-conscious personality of
characters and doesn't have any
real choices. None of these
games approach the subject with
much in the way of maturity.
I've been out of the RPG loop I guess, but
it just seems like RPGs could use a bit more
artistic spice and romantic flavor. Heck,
I'd go NUTS if you could date one of the
Valkyries in the next Valkyrie Profile.
Most of the women in VP2 were quite
beautiful (if you ignored their PS2 copycat
models and focused on the artwork, hence my
wonder if we'll ever even see
another Valkyrie Profile game!
If you know of any games that defy or exceed
my expectations, let me know, I'd love to
Assuming we're still talking
about the dating sim elements, I
do not know of any such games.
Maybe see if the romances in Dragon
Age Origins suite your
tastes? You may also find the Ar
Tonelico games to your
liking regardless of the dating
Any news on Final Fantasy Versus XIII
would also be welcome, too. I'm expecting
God-father Level Epic Romance from that game
(also hoping Noctis makes it to the roster
of any future Dissidia games)
I'd just like to be able to play
that game! We've been teased
with it for so long, I hope this
E3 finally gives us all the
details and a firm release date.
I wouldn't be surprised if it
gets pushed to next-gen consoles
at this point. More importantly,
I hope it's good.
The Jury's still out on Lightning Returns
though. The plot for that game has me
laughing (13 days till the end of the world,
then they remake a new one and move everyone
there...Haha, that's like moving out of an
old apartment, seriously...read the summary
of that story-line).
The Final Fantasy XIII
storyline lost me as soon as it
starting delving into
nonsensical time travel in XIII-2.
XIII had some very
interesting lore behind it, so
where the heck did they go
wrong? I hope Lightning
Returns has some different
writers on it, but by the sound
of the description you just gave
me, I'm not holding out much
Fire Emblem: Mars
@AskWheels random connect thought for
Q&A: connect FE:Awakening to the Mars
This is actually a bit easier
than I expected! Fire
Emblem: Awakening is
published by Nintendo ->
Nintendo made the N64 -> Red
Storm made Rainbow Six
for the N64 -> The CEO of
Virtual Heroes. Inc use to work
for Red Storm -> Virtual
Heroes Inc. makes the NASA
published Moonbase Alpha
game -> NASA operates the
Mars Land rover
See you next week!
About the Host
What I Can't Wait For:
1. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
2. Soul Hackers
3. Ys Vita
4. Tomb Raider
5. Tales of Xillia
On my Playlist:
Less Than Jake
Gravity Rush Soundtrack
1. Does the success of XCOM indicate main
stream turn-based games are still possible?
2. Will Dragon Quest VII 3DS come to the West?
3. Where will Dragon Age 3 take the series?
4. Will Camelot do another RPG in the near
5. No seriously guys, where is my danged Thief