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March 23rd, 2012

03/23- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another episode of Q&A! It is a bit short this week but we've got some funny audio clips, and more! Hope you're all still enjoying Tales of Graces F.

Let's get right to it...

The Letters
Impressions of Ys

EricRPG from twitter here, hope I'm not too late! I got caught up in alot of stuff on Saturday, but's here are two audio recordings I made doing impressions of Chester with a relevant link and position where the lines were grabbed from in Ys III for Turbo CD


No worries! I'm looking forward to hearing these crazy impressions, and was really glad to see someone decided to give it a try.

first clip: First meeting with meeting Chester in the Tigre/Tigray Mine. Also a Minor is in this scene,14 seconds in


It's a good thing I wasn't drinking anything when listening to this as the ensuing laughter would have caused me to spit all over my computer screen...

second clip: An exchange with Chester at the Ruins before getting kicked into the Volcano around 12m 40s

At the very least it was worth a laugh.



Fantastic! Well done sir! I'm sure this is going to provide readers with some good laughs.

Where are all the sailors?

Hey Wheels

Before I get into the main reason for my email, I thought I would mention that I have just finished listening to your Shenmue episode of the RPG Backtrack.  I thought you may find it amusing/horrifying to learn that I have completed the first game no less that five times, and the second one three times.  For the longest time they were my "comfort blanket" games - those titles I returned to whenever I needed to be cheered up.  I think it is a bit of a shame that you didn't have anyone on the Backtrack who actually liked the game, but having said that I can't honestly say I disagree with any of the issues raised on the podcast.  The games haven't exactly aged gracefully, but having sunk so much time into them I can't help feeling gypped that I never got to find out how Yu Suzuki intended the story to end.


Sorry we were so harsh! They tried to get someone who was a fan of the series on the show, but I guess whoever it was couldn't make it. To be fair there were a few good things we did point out, including the quality of the combat and the quality of elements of the story (when it gets to them). Had the series just compressed the story down to a more manageable length (i.e. tell the whole story in one to three games) things might have turned out better. As much as I disliked the series, I'm hoping that you fans get the ending to the series you've been waiting for!

Anyway, onto the main reason for sending this email - Tales of Graces f.  My copy arrived fresh from Canada on Saturday, but I didn't get to into it until Sunday due to Mass Effect 3. I am not very far into the game - a short way into the second chapter, but from what I've seen so far I like the battle system and think the graphics look really good, despite it being an upscaled Wii game.  Some of the plot details so far have been a bit cliched to put it mildly (the mysterious girl with anmesia and magical powers - good grief) and right now I don't like Asbel as much as Luke von Fabre or Yuri Lowell, but that could change over time.  What are your thoughts on the game so far, and also did you mention this particular version of the battle system has been used before?


Well, this particular version of the battle system is brand new, though it is an evolution of the battle system used in games like Tales of Destiny PS2 and Tales of Hearts that we never got translations of. The battle system nixes the outdated TP stat, making combat faster paced and more interesting, since regular battles no longer revolve around preserving TP for more difficult encounters. I'd love to see more action based RPGs use this model.

Now then, at first glance I would have agreed with you about the story. However, I just feel like the characters end up being so well written and entertaining that eventually the clichés hardly seem to matter. I expected this game to be a case of gameplay over story, but so far I've found both to be fantastic. So, stick with it! I don't think Asbel is as loveable as Luke and Yuri are, but he's still quite good. Stick with the game and I think you'll be loving the cast soon enough!

Next up, I have been getting back into playing RPG's on the PSP.  My current job involves a four hour commute so I need something to while away the hours, and it is the perfect time to pick up some of the classics from the back catalog.  Despite not being very adept at Tactical RPG's, I have just picked up Valkyria Chronicles II, Jeanne D'Arc and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together.  I have started with VCII, and I am loving it so far, though I hear the immaturity of some of the characters can start to grate compared to the more serious tone of the PS3 original.  I have some concerns that I will be able to get into Tactics Ogre given the size of the manual and my past experience with Final Fantasy Tactics, but I really like the fact that you can return to certain points in time in a similar fashion to Radiant Historia, and also rewind battles up to 50 turns.  These functions should prove immensely helpful to a TRPG newbie such as myself.


Valkyria Chronicles II was a great choice to start with for someone not all that adept at Tactical RPGs. It's a bit easier to get into (like the Shining Force series was back in the day), while not being overly simple. I don't care much for the story, but it is easy to skip it and just focus on the gameplay. How are you enjoying the story?

Jeanne D'Arc I've yet to play, though I've heard fantastic things about it. I'd like to know what you think of it!

You will likely find Tactics Ogre to be a much tougher game to get into than VCII. It's a brilliant game, with multiple story paths, but no doubt it is a lot more complex than VCII. My advise would be to take it slow, be very careful about the abilities you learn for characters, and use plenty of archers. This is the best and most accessible version of the game, so if you play it carefully you should be able to have a lot of fun with it, especially given you level classes instead of individual characters.

Finally I want to say just what a godsend PSN is - at this stage in the game XSEED and Atlus would never consider releasing games like Trails in the Sky and Persona 2 as physical products in Europe, yet they are available as digital downloads on the PlayStation Network.  Europe seems incredibly blessed right at the moment, with things such as this and getting all three of the Operation Rainfall games many months ahead of the US.


There's no doubt PSN has been one of the best digital market places for niche games. The wealth of content there is fantastic, including many good PSN classics (most from Square-Enix). Europe seems to be becoming a really good market for niche games, and there were actually physical versions for those games in Europe (at least there was for Trails in the Sky). Given the precedent set by the Operation Rainfall games and others, there's no doubt that Europe is no longer a void for the niche games.

That's all I have to say this time, apart from "Do you know where I can find sailors?"



Haha, that is a perfect way to end it! Glad to hear from a Shenmue fan, I hope to hear from you again!

Arch-Duke of Content (Part 1)
Mr Hell on Wheels!  Shall we?


We shall! I'm going to split this between two weeks however, as I'm a bit short on time this week.

Okay, this 3DS thing feels more substantial than the DS Lite, at least in terms of thickness and the shoulder buttons.  I have to say the thing's amazingly finicky cartridge slot isn't making me happy though.  Have we regressed back to the days of the NES?  You remember, I'm sure, how blowing into the cartridge seemed to help register that the system did indeed have a game inside.  This 3DS thing is alarmingly similar.


I think I have seen a few instances where the 3DS was finicky. I think it was all with DS games, and I'm not so sure blowing on the cartridge actually did anything, but it certainly brought back some bad memories! There's no way its as bad as the NES however, do you recall how awful that could get? I remember renting a Mega Man game in decent condition and having to blow on the cartridge a bunch of times just to get it to work. They really needed to get that better top-loading NES out much quicker than they did.

The story of me playing Tengai Makyou IV was a fairly expensive one.  Not for the game itself, which is relentlessly cheap by any means you might seek to acquire it.  The problem comes when switching between discs, because unlike many others this one doesn't have a save point there.  The result is that if you're using, say, an Action Replay Plus to make your Saturn play imports, you're out of luck.  I ended up mailing my Saturn off to get a mod switch installed.  Said thing is a mighty handy device, but a little beyond the potential ability of most to install without paying some money.  In Tengai Makyou's case it enabled the game to do something I wish more multi-disc games would: by swapping the discs you can go back to areas now passed by the story. 


I had actually considering doing the same thing, though it was for more nefarious reasons. Thankfully I finally got a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga and that kept me in line. More proof that region locks are really awful! Based on your previous Tengai Makyou stories I'm guessing it was worth the trouble. I also agree on your main disc swapping point. Games like Final Fantasy VII where they have the same world assets on every disc seem like a waste of space. Imagine how much more they could have done if they hadn't wasted space like that!

As for actually playing it, there's a fair amount of kanji to surmount, but the fact that every line of the story is voice acted may be helpful.  Combat won't be a problem - you can see the enemies, and if you've ever picked up a turn-based battle system some experimentation will clue you in on what to do.  All so you can participate in a showdown at the OK Corral and face off against Madame Appetit, the fiendish pig-woman forcibly fattening everyone in Arizona, of course!


Sounds like an interesting game to play, but as I don't know if I want to get my Saturn modded, I'll have to skip it for now. Perhaps there will be a remake or port at some point?

What do you know about Front Mission?  Getting my PS2 to play imports is a nasty job, but I'm thinking about taking the second game out for a spin soon.  The third game is supposedly quite good also, but that'll be easy to play.


That is the one Square Enix franchise I've never really dug into. I'm not sure why, given my love of Tactical RPGs. I did play the recent action game in the franchise, which wasn't very good. I also have a copy of Front Mission 4 lying around, I guess its time to actually play it?

So not long ago I played Devil Survivor 2.  It was my introduction to the voluminous Megami Tensei world, and I enjoyed it immensely for quite awhile.  The characters were interesting, the battles fast and somewhat demanding of genuine thought, the scenario distinct, and the aesthetics arresting.  I stayed more interested than aggravated until the seventh day, at which point the really nasty battles started to appear.  I spent a few hours dealing with a joker who only got faster as I took down his allies on the field and automatically revived any of his team I managed to slay at full strength, then got onto the eighth day, whereupon I discovered that the neutral course apparently takes me into the meanest final boss of the game.  Sorry, but I just don't enjoy a game that has kept everything in a single phase before this suddenly making the final battle a three-phase ordeal which expects me to pull out a victory without any replenishment between the phases, especially when the true final boss is just a jerk with infinite range and an attack that doesn't even go into the battle screen before ripping a team apart.  Probably once I've forgotten some of this experience I'll try another in the series, but it won't be soon - the anger is still too fresh.


Well, the series is known for having some brutally difficult bosses at times, but that just sounds excessive. Persona 3 had a particularly tough final boss with something like twelve phases, but that may have only been crazy due to playing the game on hard. I wouldn't let this sour you on the series however. Most of the games, while having difficult encounters, are much more balanced. Perhaps you should give the original Devil Survivor and Strange Journey a try?

What does it say that I liked Tales of Phantasia on GBA enough to finish just about everything in the game (meaning I racked up over 70 hours on the thing) and ripped Dhaos apart without much trouble due to almost never running from fights?  Also, that's my sole experience with a Tales game.



As you know I despise that game, but given how much you dug into it, I think you should give some other entries in the series a try. Since you are comfortable with importing games, I'd highly recommend giving Tales of Hearts a try. It has a more modern and fast paced implementation of the classic 2D Tales combat, and is quite cheap if you get the CG movie version. I'm not sure if you'll like the 3D based games as much, but for those I would start with Tales of the Abyss now that you can play it on that 3DS.

In case you were wondering I've split this letter up between two weeks, so...


That's it for this week!

Next week we've got more from the King of Content and lots of other great content!


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What I can't wait for:

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