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ASK WHEELS
More Q than A
March 30th, 2012

03/30- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another episode of Q&A! This week we've got a really cool prequel pitch, and the conclusion of last week's letter from the King of Content.

First let's talk about Tales...





The Letters
Tales of Tales

Could you explain Team Destiny in a way that ties the games together via lineage. What teams have developed which games?

-Macstorm


Wheels

I can most certainly do that! It is important to note that the distinction of "Team Destiny" isn't an internal term used by the actual developers. It is a fan term used to describe a subset of the Tales games developed by many of the same team that worked on Tales of Destiny 2 and the subsequent games that expanded on many of the gameplay ideas established there. Primary to these games is a faster and better established battle system thanks to the elimination of "magic points" (or TP in the case of Tales games). This lends the games a much better action focus, since the constant worry of preserving TP for tougher encounters is no longer there. Until Tales of Graces, these games all stuck to 2D battles (except for Tales of Rebirth which added a bit of 3D by giving players multiple "lanes" to switch between), and this single fact seems to be the reason we never saw localization of any of these games. We've heard stories in the past of Sony not letting 2D type games get localized, so that could have held them back. Perhaps Namco just didn't think they'd do well? Regardless, its good to finally have one of these games localized. If you're interested in trying some of them out, the PS2 games are all pretty cheap (Destiny, Destiny 2, Rebirth), The PSP ports of Rebirth and Destiny 2 have best of versions for easier importing, and Tales of Hearts is also cheap so long as you import the CG movie version. They're worth playing and there are plenty of guides out there to help!

Where are all the sailors?

Hey Wheels,

Been awhile, and I got to your last game prompt a little late for the real contest, but I'm in anyway for the fun.
But first, a little cross-talk to JuMeSyn, about Devil Survivor 2, because I can completely empathize.  I have currently put the game down at the same stupidly annoying boss-fight he mentioned.  That said, I want to highly recommend the first game, as it is in my opinion at least, much better in terms of story and characters (I found the level of immaturity in DS2 rather annoying at times), and the combat system is nearly identical (with only slight improvements made for DS2).  The final bosses are still really difficult and somewhat cheap, but I was able to actually beat one of the harder paths on my first play-through (an achievement I am quite proud of).


Wheels

Good to hear from you again! Sad to hear that Devil Survivor 2 has some end game issues (and story issues?). I'm really enjoying what I've played so far of DS1 on 3DS, so I can second your opinion that he should try the first game. My only complaint so far is I think it gets a bit too wordy at times, and takes way too long to get to your first battle. Still, I'd call these minor issues. Hope it hasn't turned him off the SMT series!

Also, since it's out on Steam, I've been thinking of getting Ys: Oath in Felghana.  I'm new to the series, so are you at all familiar with that entry?


Wheels

Very much so, my good sir! You've come to the right place. I actually imported the game from Japan well in advance of its PSP release here. It's what solidified my love of the series. It's a simple and fast paced action RPG. There's not an overbearing story or complicated mechanics, just lots of dungeons and challenging bosses to contend with. The music in the game is simply astounding, and serves to intensify the action. I really can't recommend it enough. This trailer should give you a good idea what to expect.

Anyway enough of that, time for my prequel proposal:
Pokémon Origins Brass/Steel
Pokémon training and their battles have always been the sole province of the elite, as who else could the custom crafted Apricorns needed for their capture, but a new invention stands poised to change all of this, the Pokéball.  Mass produced on a scale Apricorns never could be, this artificial Pokémon storage device will cause a revolution not only in Pokémon training, but in society as a whole.  In a century of invention, which saw the development of trains, steam engines, airships, and a myriad other new devices, the Pokéball will overshadow them all.  And this game is the story of how it happened.
Starting on the verge of this "Pokéball Revolution," the game's protagonist is a child who has dreamed of training Pokémon since childhood, but being an orphan didn't stand the slightest chance of acquiring one for themselves.  A miraculous opportunity comes when for them, when Prof. Linden recruits you and another child from the orphanage (who of course is the players childhood nemesis) to help test her newest invention, the Pokéball.  What you do with this new-found opportunity is up to you.


Wheels

Wow, I can honestly say I never expected anyone to come up with a Pokémon prequel. I like the idea so far though: it would be cool to sort of explore some of the conventions the series never really explains.

Over the course of the game, based on your actions, you will be able to side with a number of factions who have different visions for this new technology.  Right off the bat, there will be the Elite Four, representatives of the old nobility and the wealthy merchants, who have no interest in seeing Pokémon training spread to the masses and, although caught off guard by Prof Linden's invention, take action to stop its spread.  As the game goes you will also encounter a fledgling crime syndicate, calling itself Team Rocket, that sees the use of Pokémon as its ticket to power in the criminal underworld.  A third faction, centered around a group revolutionaries from the underclasses, sees how Pokémon training could make life better for everyone and has ambitious plans to establish a series of gyms where anyone can meet to train their Pokémon, and will fight against any trying to use Pokémon to exert power over other humans.  There will also be a number of more neutral groups you can interact with, such as Prof Linden's newly established Pokémon research institute.


Wheels

I like it even more! Pokémon could really stand to have a bit more story, and this sounds like the perfect way to do it. The series is pretty open ended about how you build your team, so why not put a bit of that into the narration as well? I think fans would go crazy for this.

As for gameplay, the game will be an SRPG in style, turning the exploration map into a grid based arena when foes appear.  As the game is set before Pokémon training became widespread, the orderly rules of Pokémon battles do not yet exist except within the elite (and they will happily break their rules if you oppose them).  There is no rule for the number of Pokémon you can field at once (although practical limits prevent you from coordinating more than six at a time), and given the initial scarcity of Pokéballs it will be a while before you have more than one.  More importantly there are no rules forbidding Pokémon from attacking humans.  This means that your own fighting skills will matter as much as your Pokémon's, and there may be some battles with gang's of human opponents (since while trained Pokémon are scarce, weapons are not).  The game will also feature even more opportunities both within combat and during exploration to apply Pokémon abilities to the environment, and pretty much any ability could be used to interact with the environment in some way (often with tactical options).


Wheels

Interesting idea. It would be quite good to break the series out of its standards for combat, and bring more tactics into the mix. There's a lot of variation they could then work with. Have many different classes of humans, mixed with the various Pokémon who change via evolution. The possibilities are limitless!

The game itself will have a mission based structure, many of which will be based on associated factions.  Some missions will just be relatively traditional side quests, but many will have big impacts on the rest of the game.  For example, if you undertake the Elite Four's mission to sabotage Prof Linden's Pokéball factory, it will make the price of Pokéballs skyrocket (although the Elite Four will happily reward you with custom apricorns to make up for it) and decrease the number of other trainers you are facing.  Alternatively, if you take on the Gyms mission to  fend off an attack against their first gym in Viridian City, you may start encountering more trainers who will happily duel you in a friendly manner. Of course, there will also be free battles for training, against either wild Pokémon or other trainers.


Wheels

I think this structure would work fine so long as exploration is still available for hunting down rare Pokémon and such, I think fans would eat this up. Perhaps have some sort of persistent online battle where players fight for a certain faction?

As for what Pokémon will be available, most will be similar to previous games. Artificial, highly technological Pokémon will not yet exist (such as Magnemite and Porygon), although there may be a few steampunk themed equivalents.  The other "new" Pokémon will be a handful of Pokémon that were driven extinct by later games due to overhunting, but are still around in this time period.  The big difference, though, will be in the scale of what you will be able to access.  Since even mass-produced Pokéballs are still a hot commodity and improved Pokéballs (great balls, etc.) don't yet exist, you won't be able to capture the most powerful Pokémon you may encounter, such as any legendaries.  There may be some legendaries and other powerful, more intelligent Pokémon, that you could convince to join you for key battles that are threats to them as well, but actually catching them just isn't going to happen.  Overall, you will be working with a smaller array of Pokémon, most of which will be acquired through missions and plot rather than catching them personally.


Wheels

I like how you easily find a way to fit in "new" Pokémon as that would have been one of the first issues I brought up. I think it would be cool to make some legendaries that you could recruit, but just make it insanely hard to do so. There's really a lot to explore here. Perhaps we see some types of Pokémon that eventually evolve into the types common in the series today? I think the developers could have a lot of fun with this concept.

So what do you think this time?

friendOfAgnes


Wheels

I think that not only is this idea brilliant, its something I could realistically see Nintendo doing if someone could pitch the devs on it. I think the fans would eat it up, and though it may not be as big a hit as a standard game in the series, there's no doubt it could be a very profitable endevour for Nintendo and a way for them to experiment with new ideas for the series. Here's hoping they make something like this!


Arch-Duke of Content (Part 2)

Better do a connection challenge - how about 7th Heaven (1927) with Vandal Hearts?


Wheels

I think it may be time to retire six degrees of separation. Perhaps we can come up with some other mad contest? Anyway: 7th Heaven was distributed by Fox Films -> Fox Films eventually became part of what is now 20th Century Fox -> Fox and Sony pictures teamed up for a home video venture in Brazil -> Sony owns TriStar Pictures -> TriStar pictures distributed the Silent Hill film -> Konami owns the Silent Hill franchise -> Konami published Vandel Hearts.

Playing both Shenmue games has made something very clear to me.  More games need to indulge in having players go through the monotony of getting a job, don't you think?  It really makes the fanciful parts of a game stand out more if you've been spending long stretches doing menial tasks like, I don't know, moving crates with a forklift or moving them through team lifting to get money.  That's what games are lacking in, don't you think?  All the realism that goes into an actual life spent at the job?


Wheels

Yes, I agree! Just imagine how much better the touching story of Lunar would have been if instead of just running off to the main continent, the main character had to spend a few years saving money and doing team lifting mini games during his job as a dock worker! This would have been amazing!

Seriously though, just look at the Atelier series for a way to do this and not have it be awful. The games are all about doing a job, but they make it fun!

All the Mega Man X talk from you reminds me that Command Mission is out there.  My zest for the series has faded somewhat, but I could still be enticed to play that pretty easily.  What think you?


Wheels

 I'd say despite the massive number of Mega Man games, at the end of the day even the mediocre ones can be fun to just sit down and enjoy. I haven't played Command Mission quite yet, but I'd wager its pretty fun so long as you don't expect the world. Then again, Mega Man Legends seems a better series to go to for some RPGish Mega Man.

Put Cary Grant into an RPG!  You can do it!


Wheels

I can't! I'm afraid that I don't think I've ever seen any of his movies. Perhaps you can suggest something to fix this grave injustice?

I'm supposed to poke you about Valkyrie Profile.  Ask yourself how no one knew that Loki would do something bad when you reach the climax.


Wheels

Yes, I have been playing that a bit on PSP. I've made slow progress, but I imagine eventually it will suck me in and I'll finish it in short order. Don't we just assume Loki is up to no good in any fiction that features him? I can't imagine a time where it wasn't the case.

Well, I DID review Final Fantasy XII not long ago - and I had a fair amount to say about it there.  Leaving the obvious Star Wars parallels aside though, the story just felt full of things that Matsuno probably wanted to explore in greater detail and that were then abandoned.  Good thing story isn't the only reason I play games, eh?  It may have been a painful learning experience, but realizing that neutral enemies on the field should not be provoked by me was memorable.  I probably wouldn't have recognized Zeromus without his name showing up onscreen just due to how different he looked in 3D, but getting a pounding from him was also memorable.  I almost regret not  poking around everywhere and getting slaughtered by the incredibly powerful things that live in that game... but nah.  I'll live without it.


Wheels

I think the story is probably a shell of what Matsuno wanted. Conventional wisdom is that higher ups mucked with things too much, inserted a younger hip protaganist, and eventually once Matsuno had to leave the project, they had to cobble the pieces together. Who knows? Maybe his story was too ambitious and what's left is the best they could do. I'd love to get some kind of insider story as to what exactly happened. I have a feeling both sides are at fault. Gameplay we'll agree, turned out quite well. I can't tell you how many times I screwed up and attacked some of those neutral enemies! Anyway, I think some Western developers could actually learn a lot from Final Fantasy XII. Imagine how much better Dragon Age could have been if it had FFXII super fast menu controls instead of the mess of an interface BioWare put in it...

With all the unusual problems War in the North has been providing, you still might find it preferable to the SNES Lord of the Rings game.  Maybe? 

That's all for now.  Should be sufficient, though.
JuMeSyn


Wheels

You'd think I'd prefer War in the North, but alas the SNES Lord of the Rings game is actually far less broken than the PS3 insanity I had to deal with. That SNES game certainly had a lot of issues, such as balancing, not knowing where the heck to go, and no save system. However, it had one saving grace: the password system could get you past any place you get stuck. If War in the North had a password system, I could have found one to get to the last stage (I had gotten through everything else) and just completed the dang thing. It was really that bad!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week!

See you all next week.

-Wheels


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