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March 23rd, 2011

03/23- 12:00PM EST

  After a brief break (during which I was writing PAX stuff), Q&A returns! I've got a lot of your questions to get to, so I'll try not to get too sidetracked this week.

In fact, let's jump right into your letters!

The Letters
Wheels, Your Personal Shopper

     I don't care what anyone says you are THE MAN!!! the JRPG man that is....Anywho, (this term is a southern thing) sorry my pic wouldn't fit in your Q and A. I sent my list of my games to you as well b/c you couldn't see all my games w/my camera phone up close. Now it's time for (drumroll please!!!) my question(s) is these are my next purchases


Obviously I'm a bit tardy answering these particular questions, but no matter! I shall answer them all the same. Let's see what you've got...

1. Dragon Quest V, This game seems by many to be the best in the series, but it is really hard to find for less than $50-$60 used. (even more @new) why do you think that this game is so hard to find now?


Well, I can tell you it is surely one of the best in the series, if not the best, and I think that has a lot to do with the price it goes for. Sure, Square Enix did a smaller print run for the game, however, I think that if Dragon Quest IV was as highly regarded it would go for a high price as well. If you enjoy Dragon Quest games, $50-$60 is not that bad for a game that you'll enjoy as much as many console releases for the same price.
2. Suikoden V, this game IMO is also good but really hard to find $40 used ($50-$60 new) also why do you think that is?


Suikoden V was a nice rebound for the series after the fourth entry was so poorly received. Like all Suikoden games, it is very much a niche title, and thus had a small print run. Because it is also very good, it will run you a higher price than other games. It is still cheap at Gamestop if you can find a copy there. It is certainly worth checking out if you like the series and some fans seem to like it even more than Suikoden III.

My most recent rare rpg is Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (complete) I also had Megaman legends 2 (complete) for $15!!! AND mint copies of Valkyrie Profile (ps 1) Shining Force 3 (saturn) for $6 a piece @ a pawn shop in AL. I sold those for a tidy sum:) but wish I would have kept them now:(


You should have kept those (especially Shining Force 3!). Nocturne doesn't go for that much (Atlus actually re-released some copies around the time Strange Journey came out I think, I got my copy for $29.99 brand new from Amazon). Valkyrie Profile you can get cheap for the PSP. Good luck with Megaman Legends 2. Maybe Capcom will re-release that on PSN when the new one comes out. While you're looking for expensive games, Panzer Dragoon Saga is a must for Saturn gamers.

The reason I purchased FF 13 for the 360 is b/c that system was all I had to play it on at the time. ( I also bought from my brother for $30 @ the time when it was still $60 new.), I recently bought a ps3. YES, wheels I AM A C.A.G (get it)

Gamer emporium (aka Jason from TN)


Hey, nothing wrong with looking for games at a good price! The 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII is just fine. I also have that version now, as I imported the special edition from Europe that wasn't released in the U.S. So yes, some expensive games in there, but all the ones you mentioned are worth the price of admission. Oh, and get yourself another copy of Shining Force III!


Do you ever get tired of references to Wheels, rims, tires, etc. when people are addressing you? Just thought I'd ask...

Surprisingly no! Even more surprisingly, despite having this nickname for years, I only just started seeing those references recently. I actually use them myself sometimes too.  I guess I'm just a sucker for terrible puns...

I could not help but notice the Suikoden mention in the Hot Topics. That series is very near and dear to me. Of course I had to write something in response.
If they do make another game (and I seriously hope they do) it would be a dream come true to see them continue with the main series. Suikoden V was positively amazing despite some minor issues with load times. The combat style was one of the best in the series, the characters were deep and interesting, the overall storyline was engaging and fit in fantastically with the world they'd created in Suikoden I-IV (+ Tactics/Rhapsodia). I would expect nothing less from Suikoden VI (and with any luck a release across at least two of the major consoles would be nice).


I'd buy it. Heck I'd pre-order it now if they announced it before even hearing anything about it. I know the original creator of the series is no longer with Konami, but they could still find a way to continue the main series plot and perhaps finally answer a lot of the questions about the overall mythos.

I may be coming from a biased and uninformed view I fear. I have not played Tierkreis yet, but I did not hear a lot of great things about it as far as the storyline was concerned. From what I've heard of the gameplay it was pretty 'meh'. I am planning to check it out eventually... Just haven't had the chance yet.
Regardless one of the things that make Suikoden such a great series (in my opinion at least) is the continuing world. Granted we haven't seen all of it, but what we have seen has been very impressive. War is common-place much like our own world. Individuals rise and fall, conquer and fade... All in the name of the True Runes which have many questions left to be answered. As someone that has stuck with the series (though I never got the chance to finish III before it was stolen from me) I would feel cheated if we didn't have something to wrap the series up or at least answer some of the more important questions.


Well, let's be fair, that's a lot to put on Tierkreis, which feels like it was meant to bring new people to the series (the gameplay is fine in my opinion, battles are as fast and fun as the other games in the series). It does tie into the overall series a little bit, at least. You're right though, the continuing world is what makes the series so special. I think I can appreciate what Konami was attempting with Tierkries, though. That continuing world is a lot to throw at those new to the series. A sort of starter entry seems like a good idea. The issue is, Tiekries, while a fine RPG, is not a great Suikoden game. Why even call it Suikoden if it's not going to have basic tennents of the series like duels, and army battles? At this point they may be better off doing low budget titles that satisfy the niche Suikoden appeals to.

With that said; I doubt Konami would be able to put too much more work into the series. This is painfully obvious just from seeing how long it has been since the release of Suikoden V with no info regarding a new main entry... If they do decide to revisit the Suikoden series I would think it is time for them to end it gracefully and with a grand outro. Find a point in time that would allow for some major returning characters (I can't be the only one desperate to see another appearance by Georg Prime, any of the main heroes, Ted, Neclord, etc.). Find a new place in the world that would allow the previous games to be held in a proper perspective. Get Miki Higashino back to compose if possible. Most importantly; answer the major questions and do it with class.
Kain Vinosec


Like I said, I think a lower budget entry is the most likely route for the series. Perhaps a downloadable title like they did with Vandal Hearts. Sadly, it doesn't seem like Konami is very interested in doing anything with the series at the moment. We haven't even seen Suikoden II on PSN yet! Then again, I suppose if Konami can make a new Rocket Knight, anything is possible!

Chrono SaGa

Hey Wheels!

I'm going to leave out all the paragraph tags this time, since it seems to be messing around with the regular HTML for some reason.  A couple of paragraphs seemed to get slashed in half last time.


That's my fault. I toyed with your HTML. Shame on me! Feel free to put them back in, and I'll stop messing with them.

I've really been digging the Chrono Trigger pitches. Wish I'd thought of that space travel / relativity angle, though.


That really was a brilliant pitch. It's a concept that's not used too much in major sci-fi, which is a shame. All the pitches that people came up with were fantastic. I just wish that they could all be made! I'd buy them all, game developers!

Anyhoo, you wanted to see the Big Ol' Notebook of Ideas? Well... I kind of misspoke last time. It's not so much a notebook as... hm, I'd better just show you. Hopefully I can get this bit of HTML to work right.


There is every notebook I could find in my apartment on short notice. After I took the picture, I found eight or nine more.  These include every plot idea, game idea, short story, poem, and illustration I've had in the last ten years. About half the write-ups I've done for Japandemonium, as well as every review I've written for the site, can be found here as well, not to mention the better part of four novels.


Crazy! You really should get all those scanned up. Not just because I'd like to read your crazy plot ideas, but it would stink if you had a random roof leak or something that ruined them. That's a lot of writing!

But getting back to last week's challenge, a sequel to SaGa?  It's never been done, y'know, SaGa 2 cameos in SaGa 3 notwithstanding. I was all set to pull out the notes on the Eternal SaGa games I thought up back in college, but then I remembered an actual sequel idea I'd once had.


Excellent! I've had some thoughts on how another Unlimited Saga could be done right, but let's hear what you've got.

Back in the day, I read a lot of 8-Bit Theater (but who didn't?).  After a very bored evening going through the archives, the thought occurred to me -- why not do my own sprite comic?  As it turns out, I have zero talent for
spritework, but I still have the plot notes.  So here's Romancing SaGa 2 - The SaGa Continues. Please forgive the title, I was in a punny mood.


I love that title. Double the SaGa! Someone should do a SaGa sprite comic. The monster character could be something new every week. They'd have two readers right away at least...

I doubt many have played the actual game, so here's a recap of how things played out.  The Seven Heroes saved the world, only to get double-crossed and locked in Hell, which they promptly conquered because they're just that badass.  A long, long time later they returned to the world to have their revenge on the Ancients, who have mostly ascended to a higher plane by this point.  The few remaining Ancients gift the ruling dynasty of Avalon with the inheritance magic, which allows them to pass experience, power, and authority down the generations until a hero is born powerful enough to defeat the Seven. As new warriors become allies, their lineages are bonded to the magic, making them eligible to be Emperors as well.


Romancing SaGa 2 really needs to be translated somehow. You're lucky in knowing Japanese. I think I'm past the age where it's realistic for me to learn a new language (never mind new alphabets!).

Everything was going well right up to the great banquet to celebrate the final victory over the Seven. It turned out that the Golden Emperor was allergic to broccoli.  Afterwards, the heroes of the realm waited. And
waited. A week of waiting later, and it's obvious that without its raison d'etre, the inheritance magic is kaput.  Even before the heroes return to their own lands, the Imperial authority has started to break down, and the
Empire is on the verge of dissolution.


That all sound quite interesting. Broccoli though? Broccoli isn't so bad. Replace it with the vegetable I hate, peas, and then we'll be talking. Sounds like an interesting start though.

From this point I'd planned on having four different plotlines running concurrently. For reference, here's a map of the world.


Plot A follows five heroes from Avalon -- the Ranger, the Guardsmen, the Court Mage, the Infantryman, and the Tactician -- as they cross the continent from Avalon (far northwest corner) to the Ancient stronghold of Austoroth (far east end) to ask them for help. To get there, they'll have to cross the Gulf of Cumberland, the windy Steppes, the broad Savannah, the desert of Meru, and the exotic East Country.


Dang it, this map is in Japanese! I can see the desert area, at least, so I have a general idea of what you're talking about(okay, that's a lie, you're being descriptive enough that I can figure it out). I like RPG stories that focus on fewer areas though, since it usually ends up making them much more defined.  Multiple plots of this type sound good to me!

Plot B takes place in Cumberland (right across the gulf from Avalon, north center peninsular area of the map). The land is controlled by the Holy Order. The Prince is technically the Emperor's stand-in, but the Abbot and Abbess run the show.  As monsters are no longer a threat, they've set their sights on the Steppes to the south.  The Tactician has sent the two City Thieves to slow them down by any means possible.


That sounds like a great story for a full game on its own. Cumberland keeps making me think of Cuberland farms though...

Plot C centers on the members of the Dark Magic Research Institute.  These five magicians have always felt a bit outside the Imperial culture, and in fact they're the only major players in Avalon left out of the inheritance
magic (they're not actually recruitable in the game itself).  Now it's their time to shine like obsidian.  Their leader, a palette-swapped minister whom I've dubbed Lothar, has convinced the Tactician to allow him
to dig through the rubble of Komulune, the volcanic island to the northeast.  There lie the ruins of both the Ancients and the Sorceror who allowed the island to be devastated several generations before.  The Sorceror's ghost and vengeful Salamanders await.


Again, sign me up for this as a full game. Off in search of ancient magic in the ruins of a lost civilization? Sign me up!

Plot D is more fun.  The Heavy Knight and the Martial Arts Master are off on a goodwill tour of the Rongit Sea (the body of water that splits the western part of the continent from north to south).  Before they depart Avalon, they prevail upon the oddest of the five Dark Mages to try an experiment in dimensional magic.  The result: a Keg of Infinite Capacity. Their itinerary includes the swashbuckling Buccaneers, the husky Herdsmen, the petite Pearl Divers, and the nearly naked Nereids.I plotted this up to the point where things began to pull together.  The Cumberland invasion force had been stalled.  The Tactician's party had made it to Austoroth, and summoned up a perfectly inappropriate new Empress. The World's Longest Kegger was in full swing. And Lothar had just been invited to join the shadowy conspiracy. A bunch of minor NPCs from RS2 had come together to overthrow the old world order, and with Lothar they would be known as the Seven Zeroes.  At last look, they were still trying to find a seventh. RS2 didn't have a lot of plot-necessary NPCs lying around, to tell the truth.That's about as far as I got with this.  What do you think?  As far as SaGa titles go, RS2 is one of the few with a wide enough ending to actually justify a sequel.


Well, it sounds like you've planned out a lot more plot than was in the original game. In fact, I kind of want to play your game more than Romancing SaGa 2 itself! I mean, it's about as likely as an actual translation of RS2 happening, right? Well at least until the inevitable Romancing SaGa 2 remake.

Now, to return the challenge!  Take one cliché RPG story convention, preferably one that has appeared in the plots of at least three franchises, and find a way to twist it so far that it pops.  Take your time. I'll be expecting a reply for Japandemonium sometime soon.

Your comrade-in-columns,


That is a fantastic challenge, and I shall save my response for your column! I'd like to throw the challenge out to the Q&A readers as well though. What can you guys come up with?

Good to hear from you as always, Gaijin!

Age of Dragons


I wanted to drop a line about the new Dragon Age. have you played it yet? What are your thoughts. I've just begun playing but already I can tell that this is a very different game from its predecessor. Right before playing DA2 though I was playing ME2 and the dichotomy between these two Bioware sequels struck me quite strongly. ME2 plays like a refined ME, changes were made but the crunchy center that made Mass Effect, Mass Effect remains in ME2. This doesn't seem to be the case with Dragon Age 2, not only has the visual presentation changed but so has the gameplay, UE, and even the scope.

I don't yet know if Dragon Age 2 is a good or bad game. It does not seem to be a Dragon Age game though.

Just my thoughts,



Well, as gameplay goes I think the two Dragon Age titles are actually a lot closer than the two Mass Effect titles were. The same classes are there, many of the same spells and abilities, everything is just sped up to a great degree. This would have prevented a lot of the dungeons in the original game from dragging on so much. I didn't see much difference in the UI either. Mass Effect 2 made the combat a lot smoother, but overall it played almost completely differently. It felt more like a true cover-based shooter instead of the strange shooter-RPG hybrid from the first game. Where you are right, of course, is the story. While I like the "one city" type concept, it's just not anywhere near as in-depth or full of meaningful choice as the first game was. Does this make a bad game? Not at all. I'm having a lot of fun playing the game, and I'd even be comfortable to it call a great game. I think it would have been better received as a Dragon Age with some kind of sub-title, instead of Dragon Age II.

If Bioware can take the improved combat of Dragon Age II and fuse it with the great story elements of Dragon Age Origins, they could have a true classic on their hands.


That's all for this week! Next week I plan on diving headlong into the new Legend of Heroes, so hopefully that game turns out to be as good as I've heard. Send your letters/tweets in.

See you all next week!


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