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ASK WHEELS
The World Ends With Godzilla
May 19th, 2011

05/19- 12:00PM EST

  Well PSN is finally back, and I took advantage by playing some Mortal Kombat (just the free trial since I can't activate my online pass), Lost Planet 2, and Portal 2. Of course I still can't pickup Threads of Fate until the store comes back, but I have my always full backlog to distract me.

On to the letters, and then, the next contest!





The Letters
The World Ends With this Letter

Dear Wheels,

I'm curious about this game I recently saw a friend of mine playing. It is a DS game called The World Ends With You. This friend who shall remain nameless (let's call him Tires) totally couldn't figure out how to describe the game. But I said to myself, why, it's okay, because surely Wheels will be able to describe this game where Tires failed!

So, go for it! But I need a good explanation now. Not some quick and simple one that tells me nothing about the game.

Thanks!

-KLitke


Wheels

Well, it really is a difficult game to describe, but I will do my best. The World Ends With You takes place in modern Japan, specifically in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. The main character, Neku, somehow gets sucked into some kind of alternate version of Shibuya, where people have to play a game run by mysterious "reapers" to keep from being erased. I haven't completed it yet, but the story is apparently quite good, and has a lot of twists and turns. The game is primarily controlled with the stylus, and uses the two screen setup of the DS to its fullest. On the bottom screen you control Neku with the stylus, controlling his psychic powers in a number of different ways, including tapping enemies, drawing lines of fire, and flinging objects. On the top screen you control Neku's partner, of which there are multiple through the game. You do this by entering simple commands with the D-pad. Control two characters at once is quite frantic, but thankfully the game will auto-pilot the character on the top screen if you aren't controlling them. The game is unique, and there aren't any titles out there that compare to it at all.

I really suggest you give it a chance!


Final Sands

Hi Wheels;

Recent archive binger, first time writer with some Final Fantasy questions and something to consider for one of your hot topics.


Wheels

Excellent! Always good to hear from new people, let's see what's on your mind!

First, a little background - I've beaten Final Fantasy 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10. I tend to prefer games with simpler combat systems - which is why I owned FF3 DS for over 4 years before I beat it, and ignored SMT Strange Journey in lieu of Sands of Destruction.


Wheels

Nothing wrong with that. Playing games should be a relaxing experience, and often games with deep and complex systems can just become stressful when trying to manage everything. Strange Journey can be especially challenging at times, with teleporter mazes and other exploration challenges in addition to the challenging battles.

I'm looking to finish as many Final Fantasy games as I can before the year's out - sort of like the Year of Final Fantasy you guys did last year on the boards before I had occasion to sign up.


Wheels

Sounds like a fun thing to do, I recently did this before XIII came out, finishing the Final Fantasy games I had yet to complete, those being II, III, V, VIII, and XII. Featuring games from all of the different eras of Final Fantasy games, it was a lot of fun to see how much the series has changed over the years.

So that leaves me with 2, 5, 8, 9, 10-2, 12 and 13. Which one do I need  to play first? I'd prefer to play 5 and 13 near the end so I can get the GBA version/an HDTV respectively.


Wheels

If you want to save those for later on, I'd start out with IX. A nice throwback to earlier games in the series, it was one of my favorites. It has a charming story and characters, and a battle system that will instantly click with longtime fans of the series. Save VIII and XIII for last. Not because they're bad (I love both), but they both try a lot of new things with the series, and thus will be better experienced after you've finished the more traditional titles. Give VIII and XIII fair chances as well. Play them for what they are, not what you'd want them to be. This worked for me with VIII, which I originally hated,  but suddenly became one of my favorites when I took it from a different perspective. Hopefully you'll enjoy all the games as well! As for II, we'll talk about that in a minute.

As well, 2's differences from the rest of the series have been well-rehashed in the Q&A space, so I won't repeat them. And I know that from what I read about 2's battle system, I'd be asking Kawazu to perform biologically impossible acts if I tried to play the Famicom version. So of the various remakes - PS1, GBA or PSP/iOS - which one will involve the least amount of hair-pulling on my part?


Wheels

Well let's be fair about II, the structure of the story and exploration is absolutely, 100% classic Final Fantasy. It's just in the game systems that it deviates from the other games. As for which version? Go with either the PSP or iOS version. They both have much improved graphics over the other versions, while keeping the extra features. Stick with the game all the way through, and I'm sure you'll find it isn't as bad as people make it out to be.

Lastly, one of your hot topics is whether someone's mood or perspective can affect how much they enjoy a game. I'm not usually one to let their emotions decide what games they buy, aside from "how happy am I going to
be when I eventually play this".


Wheels

Sure, mood shouldn't really change whether or not you buy certain games, the hot topic was more about mood effecting whether or not you like a game, which we'll discuss below.

But I know in the case of Sands of Destruction vs Strange Journey, I was tossing up between the two of them when Strange Journey came out last year. I was also pretty depressed because of some personal problems I was having at the time, so buying a game centered around destroying the world seemed like a good way for me to escape. And I enjoyed it even when the plot took a turn that I'm not going to spoil in this space - the only things that kept me from really loving the game was losing progress due to a long time between hard saves and not being able to skip super-move cut scenes.


Wheels

I'd say I had a similar, but opposite experience with Final Fantasy VIII. In my high school days, I had some tough periods, and VIII was just not wanted I wanted to play at that time. I wanted classic Final Fantasy battles and stories, which I always find very relaxing. This past year, when I finally decided to give it another chance, I went in with an open mind, a guide to help me with weapon upgrading, and I just had a completely different experience with the game. In your case with Sands, perhaps it has issues and isn't the best game ever or anything like that, but the fact that it helped you get through a difficult time means there's something to it.

I don't think I would have sunk 45 hours into Sands if I wasn't going through that period of anger and had as good a time - the issues that I mentioned above really stuck out for me when I replayed the game over Christmas. Still, I'm grateful for it helping me get through that rough period.

- Shaymin


Wheels

Maybe you would have, maybe you wouldn't, who knows. The important thing is that it helped you through that time, and maybe it will do the same for others. It certainly has me a bit interested to give it another try to see if there isn't something to it. This is the very reason it's important to find many different opinions about games though. Maybe it's not the greatest game, but perhaps you'll find someone with similar tastes, or similar current troubles in life who found a game be just the thing they needed.

Great questions, and I look forward to hearing from you again sir!


Content? We Got Your Content

Mr. Four Wheels, we converse once more. Or wait, is it Mr. Two Wheels? Only you know for sure! I have to wonder, do you watch the Angry Video Game Nerd? This episode shows a couple of Godzilla games that could be considered RPGs if one was very generous. I'm not sure how to make Godzilla into an RPG protagonist, though, since killing the military is something he does with the greatest of ease and other monsters could only serve as bosses - what would the regular enemies be? 'Tis a puzzlement.

Wheels

I don't watch much of the Angry Video Game Nerd, but yeah, it would require great generosity to call some of those games RPGs. As far as how you make a game like that, you'd either have to make it some kind of Disgaea comedic evil, or just make a full-on RPG where the player is the bad guy. I don't know how well that would work, but it would at least be interesting.

The connection game's time has come again! Link The Bicycle Thief to Super Mario RPG!

Wheels

Seriously? Now you're dipping into foreign films? I will not fail this challenge sir.

The Bicycle Thief was directed by Vittorio De Sica -> Vittorio De Sica directed A Brief Vacation -> A Brief Vacation -> Was distributed in the US by Allied Artists ->Much of the Monolith/Allied Artists post-1947 library is now owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment -> Warner Bros. distributed the Super Mario Bros. film in Spain -> That movie was (kind of?) based on Super Mario Bros. by Nintendo -> Nintendo published Super Mario RPG.

Wow, that was a tough one.

I'm curious, will you ever grace the site with a retroview of Panzer Dragoon Saga? I could do it, but since I already reviewed it a few years ago, I don't feel the need.

Wheels

I'd like to once I properly complete the game, so I may write up one later this summer or so. Honestly though, do the people need another 5/5 gushing review of this brilliant game? Sega really needs to re-release or remake this game so more people can see why this game is so amazing. It is literally the best game that no one has played.

Alright, time for something of a rant. I started playing Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, and it has inspired thoughts in me. Now I shall share these wondrous notions with you, in the hope that they prompt interest, or at the very least sniggering from those who are amused at the bothers. A quick bit of groundwork: this was released on the SNES in 1999, and its actual retail version commands very high prices. Let's start with the good. For some reason, anytime an enemy attacks your characters in this game, they get the amount of experience they would from hitting the enemy back, regardless of whether they actually do. That adds up - instead of the lousy 1 experience a character gets for dodging an arrow in the other games, here it's 8 or 9 or 10 - sometimes 12 or 14 if the enemy is a high level. That's rather handy. Also handy is the ability to steal anything from enemies provided the thief's constitution is high enough, not just healing items. The tomes enemy mages use tend to be rather light, and thus Lifis (or Rifis, take your pick), my best thief, is able to relieve them of armaments and render them unable to do anything at all. Most physical weapons are too heavy for him to appropriate yet, but there are a few useful ones he can nab anyway. Then there's the Capture mechanic. Under this system, if your character has a higher constitution than the enemy, you have the option to capture instead of attack. Capturing lowers that character's stats during the attempt by about 50%, making it very dangerous (since your attack power, hit percentage, speed, and defense all take a massive hit), but the reward for successfully performing it is to grab that enemy instead of killing it. Capturing an enemy lets you strip its items before tossing the now-impotent foe off to its fate. Sounds nifty, right?

Wheels

That does sound quite nifty...wait hold on a second. 1999? A SNES game came out in 1999? That seems strange, even for Nintendo who kept releasing NES games long after the SNES was out. Anyway, that's getting off of the topic. That's a pretty interesting feature, as are all the things you mentioned. This seems like a pretty experimental Fire Emblem title, and I'm not sure I like the sound of some of this. The thief sounds fantastic, but experience for getting hit by an enemy? I'm not really sold on that, though experience for dodging does sound like a good addition.

Well, Capturing is vital if you want to restock your breakable inventory (remember how Fire Emblem games have finite weapon uses?). In this game, not only do weapons cost about four times what they do in the other titles I've played, but thus far I have received no money at all. How's this for a weird one: the healers will intermittently fail to heal. Using the healing staves sometimes doesn't work in Thracia 776, and I have no idea what's wrong. My healer still gets experience for the attempt, and I'm not down a weapon use if it didn't happen, but this is not exactly an ideal turn of events. Another unpleasant facet is that Thracia 776 is the first game in the series to have the Fog of War. You've seen that system, in which most of the map is shrouded in darkness and only enemies near your characters are visible? It's not like that here, because outside the area your characters can see, the map is pitch-black. Not darkened, completely black. This makes figuring out where enemies might be, where villages are, what the terrain itself is, a whole lot more unpleasant than later titles.

Wheels

I like fog of war, but not the way it appears to be in this game. Darkening places you've already been to so you can't see enemies that are there is one thing, but completely blacking out the map not in your direct line of sight? I mean, it's a game involving controlling an army, presumably they'd have a map of the area right? I don't know how I feel about healers having a chance to miss. It just seems like a cheap way to increase difficulty. Would I be wrong in saying that the developers took advantage of the fact that it was a very late SNES release to experiment with some new things?

Then we come to the Fatigue system. I haven't arrived at it quite yet, because I still don't have quite enough characters to make me pick and choose before battle, but I gather it works by making every battle participant get tired. Once somebody has been used too much, that character has to be benched for a battle in order to recover. Sounds like fun, right? All this emphasizes that I've been playing Thracia 776 conservatively, even more so than in other games of the series. I'll probably review it sometime, but the nastiness of mages who bedevil me with long-range spells hasn't really hit yet. I gather I won't have long to wait.

Wheels

Now this is a change that I like, to an extent. Makes you use all of your characters, and seems like it will put a stronger emphasis on keeping everyone in your army at a good level. This is often an issue I have with this kind of game. I stick with one set of characters, and those that might be useful sit on the bench, never reaching their potential. I'll be interested to read your review, this really sounds like the oddball of the series.

More connection fun! Link Royal Wedding to Sigma Star Saga!

Wheels

Royal Wedding starred Fred Astaire -> Fred Astair was in the film Holiday Inn -> Holiday Inn was distributed by Paramount -> Paramount is currently owned by Viacom -> Viacom owns Nickelodeon -> Nickelodeon makes SpongeBob Squarepants ->Wayforward made a SpongeBob game -> Wayforward made Sigma Star Saga.

We haven't seen a remake of Shining Force 2 like the first game's. Does that mean it's unlikely to ever happen in your eyes?

Wheels

I'd say yes, it's very unlikely. Sega seem content just to re-release the games in their original forms, so unless they plan on doing a 3DS version, or a PSP remake or something like that, I'd settle for just getting Shining Force 2 on the iPhone. Seems strange that they don't have it on there.

Nobody else has brought the topic up in Q&A, probably because Saturn ownership is so scanty among the readers. So I'll have to do it - Treasure handling a reissue of Guardian Heroes for the multitudes who have never played it? Sounds like a good thing, unless there are people who can't handle awesomely animated brawlers with multiple action planes, a groovy score, massive replay value, superb controls, and enough facets that classifying the result as an RPG isn't off-base. On that note, did you ever play Advance Guardian Heroes? It clearly had something if I played through it over a dozen times (short length being one of the reasons) but I remember the audio quality being absolute crap.

Wheels

My love of Guardian Heroes need not be elaborated on too much, so I'll just say that a re-release is amazing news, and I look forward to seeing the reaction of those that play it for the first time. I did play a bit of Advance Guardian Heroes, but remember getting stuck early on and not being able to advance. It wasn't an awful game, but it just seems the wrong platform for the game. I'd like to see another sequel done on a system that can do the series justice. Perhaps they could collaborate with Wayforward to get some cool new pixel art, and also get to work with another company with experience making brawlers.

Speaking of the Saturn, everybody expecting Shining Force III to be remade in its entirety has clearly not studied just how much bad blood exists between Sega and Camelot. I can relate a few memorable instances (there are a LOT) from Scenario 2 & 3, however. This is partly to entice you to go play them, since obviously that mammoth cliffhanger that closed Scenario 1 didn't impel you to immediately follow it with the rest of the story. For instance, why was Medion wandering around Saraband for Synbios to chat with, anyway? You'll learn right at the beginning of Scenario 2, since before all but a bit of text can take place, some nasty Bulzome monks react to Campbell's accusation that they're working with gunpowder by trying to kill Medion. Looking for the culprits, Medion and Campbell stumbled right into Synbios and Dantares. Later you'll get to experience the other side of the railroad battle in which Synbios had to protect the civilians by fighting mad general Varlant, and taking on general Edmund's troops to prevent them from taking Synbios in the flank. Notably in these instances, it is Medion who has reverted to mute status, while Synbios has words to say instead of the "....." of Scenario 1. Also, remember Bernard, so ungrateful to be rescued by Synbios? He'll join Medion if he was freed in Scenario 1, but not otherwise.

Wheels

Well, it's not that I didn't want to jump into the other parts after that cliffhanger, I simply did not have the means to do so when I finished part 1. I have the ability now, and plan do so properly over time. I've actually started a new playthrough of part 1, but I've been distracted by class and other things. It sounds like the three games connect to each other in an interesting way, and it really is a shame that we never got the complete series. I don't think many people really think a remake can happen, but it's nice to dream.

Early on, Medion will also meet general Produn, in a memorable fight on a dockyard where a cannon will blow chunks of the floor away as you approach. Eventually Medion's path takes him to the land of Elbesem, which requires that an octopus be battled and slain while its tentacles appear one by one as the tide recedes. In Elbesem he meets Bulzome knights (it's weird seeing those masks on centaurs) and Bulzome pegasus knights (same thing). The Innovator, Gracia, is in Elbesem, and happens to be the target of Bulzome's attentions because he holds the power to actually kill a Vandal. Julian, who had been tossed into a waterfall by Galm, joins Medion for awhile but takes off to protect the Destonian capital with Gracia after a ship-to-ship battle against general Crewart's troops. Medion subsequently returns to Saraband to take back his father, the Emperor, only for Garvin's troops to abduct everyone in his force except for Syntesis the mage, leading to a nifty fight in the dungeon where all the characters must first be let out of their cells and then retrieve their weapons before they can actually do anything. Medion then gets to tangle with Dessheren (since Synbios is having fun with Fiale and Basanda), and I've skipped a whole lot plus that doesn't even take us to the end of the game. See how well I remember this? I didn't even talk about Hazuki (the only unpromoted ninja you'll get, and she's good to have around), or the battle to recruit Hedoba (who is under mind control and also happens to be a mage, but she must be allowed to live if you want a great summoner on your team). Speaking of Hedoba, check out her image - a roommate happened to observe in sage words "you can see the bottoms!" She can summon Zephyrus and Wendigo in addition to using Freeze magic though, so she's good to have around. I think I'll forgo talking any more on this subject for one letter. I could go on for a very long while, but putting things into smaller chunks might be best.

Wheels

Sadly it has been so long that I can't remember who some of these characters are. Which means I need to just keep at Shining Force 3 and finish all three parts. Make sure you keep bugging me about it!

Adapt either Schindler's List, All Quiet on the Western Front, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Dr. Strangelove, or Singin' in the Rain into an RPG. I'm very curious what you'll come up with.

Wheels

All Quiet on the Western Front: The RPG would be sort of a life experience RPG, capturing the mind of the main character as he passes away. The player would explore many of the moments of the character's life  as experienced in the book, only they would be free to explore and change things, given that the events are all in the character's head. The story would focus on the character looking for meaning in his life, and question the whole point of the war and it's effect on humanity. Not something a normal person would probably have any interest in playing, but then I suppose not many even study the first World War very much anymore, do they?

That might just be enough, or maybe more than enough, for this letter.
-JuMeSyn

Wheels

It was, and I thank you, as always, for the brilliant questions!

More Giant Monsters

Ah, man I'll never win that! Wheels I was wondering are there any giant
monster RPGs? Like Rodan, or Ultraman, or that turtle...?

@dimortuisunt


Wheels

I don't believe there are, though I'm not sure what turtle you're talking about. It's a shame, an RPG where you go rampaging about as giant monsters would be great. Maybe some of the games are almost RPGs, as JuMeSyn suggests, but I doubt "almost" is what you're looking for. That reminds me that I did rent and play some Ultraman game as a kid. It was pretty terrible, it essentially played out like a fighting game, only you couldn't even play as the monsters (if I remember correctly). I'm not sure I really get the appeal for Ultraman, but maybe that's just me. I think it's time that you fire up RPGMaker or something similar and get to work on a giant monster RPG. It doesn't appear that anyone else is going to do it sadly.

ultraman

IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Time for the next contest. The prize? Tales of the Abyss 3DS (or something else cool if you don't want that for some reason). How to enter? Well since the last contest went so well, pitch me a sequel, to any game! You've got until August to enter. Anyone that sends in a pitch will have a chance to win. Details on how the winner will be chosen will come later in the summer (hint: I may be simulating matches in a game in a tournament style). I look forward to seeing what you all come up with!

'Til next week

-Wheels


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