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August 4th, 2010

08/04 - 12:00AM EST

  Hello, and welcome to the second edition of Ask Wheels, where I will give you my opinion on all things RPG. I've been playing a lot of Persona 3 of late, and am still trying to finish Final Fantasy XIII (I know, shame on me). I keep getting stuck though, so what are you going to do? Today we've got a Tales-centric question, along with some other good ones, so without further ado, let's get started....

The Letters
Tales of Woe

Hello Wheels,

"Do you think Namco's message to Tales fans on facebook means they're working on something or are they just trying to get us to go away?" -Mick Capitan

Well that is quite a fine question! The Tales series is quite a good....wait they said what? Hold on a second.
Please Stand By
Ok wow, did not really expect Namco to respond to the fans at all. For those who haven't seen it, here's the full quote:
Firstly, thank you all for your excitement around the series. We also love the series here at Namco of America and are working with our Japan counterparts to determine if we'll see US releases for these games. Unfortunately, we don't currently have any plans to bring Tales of Graces to the US. If this changes, we'll let you know as soon as we can!

Ok let's dissect this for a little bit, shall we? First of all if you aren't a Tales fan, I should let you know that it's been a little bit since a Tales game was released outside of Japan. We've now missed out on three games, Tales of Vesperia for PS3, Tales of the World: Radient Mythology 2 for PSP, and Tales of Graces for the Wii. Of these three, only one surprises me that it has not made it out in the US. We'll take a quick look at these titles one by one.

Tales of Vesperia PS3- Near as I can tell, the 360 version did not sell well here in any imaginable shape or form. It sold 33,000 copies its first week, which may seem great for a niche product, but the Tales games certainly haver a higher budget than your average game. Its got a vast ammount voice acting, a J-Pop song from a high profile artist, and a flashy anime intro. That doesn't even go into all the skits that need to be translated as well. Simply put, it's likely that Namco either did not make a profit, lost money, or made very little on Vesperia's release on 360 here so I see no reason why they would try again.

Radient Mythology 2 - This is a fan game, a simple quest based dungeon crawler with little story where the main goal is recruiting a bunch of characters from various Tales games. By some odd chance, the original game made it to the U.S. This type of doubly niche game isn't going to fly here, so this one is not a surprise.

Tales of Graces - This one is a little surprising. Symphonia 2 on the Wii sold pretty well despite being mostly direct-sequel fan service, so I figured they'd at least try another Wii Tales game to see how it does. Granted, the Symphonia name is probably the only reason it carried any weight, but I thought it'd be a safe bet to try. Then again it also didn't sell spectacularly in Japan, so that may have scared them off. Their statement also seems to confirm that they have no plans for the PS3 version either, so obviously whatever sacred them off from doing Graces for the Wii here stands for the PS3 version as well.

Ok so honestly this isn't too bad. Radient Mythology should not be expected to come over so we'll ignore that. So all we missed out on was a second version of game we did get, and one mainline title I've heard is full of all kinds of bugs? Doesn't seem too bad to me, even if the PS3 version is bug-free. So this basically boils down to fans freaking out about not getting 2 games they should not have expected, and one which was a possibilty? Come on guys. The Tales games are not widely popular in the US, they aren't going to bring them all over, and it's such a big series for them in Japan that they aren't going to let other companies touch the series. So to act like every Tales game that doesn't come out over here is an affront to humanity is madness. Tales fans have hijacked the Namco facebook page and turned it into one giant temper tantrum.

Honestly Mick I think the message was just meant to get people to go away. It could be possible that they've got some big Tales fans working there who wanted to say something to raging fans, but I don't get that feeling. I feel bad for anyone who tries to go to that page to talk about a different Namco franchise. It's not going to make them bring any games over. If you want to see the series succeed in the US, then you need to get more people to buy them, that's the only way. At some point another Tales game will be released over here, make sure  you're ready to rally the troops when they do, fans.

Anyway thanks for the letter Mick! Please write in again.

But I don't want to work with others!

Hey Wheels.

It seems to me that more and more RPGs are including AI controlled teammates, such as Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XIII, Persona 3 FES, Ys 7 and so on.  Do you think this trend could be influenced by AI partners in action games such as Halo 3, Army of Two and Gears of War?


As much as it may seem like it, I honestly don't think it was really influenced by the AI partners in action games too much. It's just kind of a natural progression to moving to more real-time based combat systems. Let's be honest too, they aren't nearly as smart as the AI in some of the action games, are they? I mean we had some Japanese RPGs in the past with AI like in Tales of Phantasia, Secret of Mana, and such, so its not like AI controlled companions is something brand new for Japanese RPGs.

We will likely see more of it too. As we progress further into the HD era, classic turned based gameplay in RPGs wont really work as well as it used to, and as much as I like what Square-Enix did with Final Fantasy XIII, I think Bioware is the best example of how to do real-time systems well and still allow you control over all the characters or program their AI to your liking. Secret of Mana actually had pretty decent AI controls, but of course the optimal way to play was with other people.

Now let's talk about Persona 3 for a second. I find the idea of non-optional AI controls in a turn-based RPG very strange. I understand they structred the battle system very well with this this in mind, and it worked for Persona 3, but still very strange.  The whole point of doing turn-based is so you can carefully weigh your decisions and be able to give orders to all your characters. I mean obviously people didn't care because people loved it, but I think <i>Persona 4</i> was much better for redesigning the battle system. 

Continuing on that chain of logic, the action games I just mentioned all have the option to forego AI in favor of playing Co-Op, which I honestly find preferable.    Do you think Co-Op gameplay is even feasible in in the RPG genre?  Are you aware of any games that already feature Co-Op gameplay?

Thanks a bunch!




I think Co-Op is quite feasible in many RPGs, and I really wish we saw it more often. Most of the modern Tales games have the option, and it works very well.  Ys Seven does not have co-op, which seems very strange, but general a lot of more action or real-time RPGs would work great with Co-Op. It'd be great to have in Dragon Age for example. For many of these games I think it's just a matter of extra programming effort preventing it. If you look at many action titles, such as first-person shooters, a huge element of the game is multi-player. So there's already a "hook" so to speak to program multiplayer into the single player bits. For an RPG, they don't usually have a seperate multi-player mode, so it's not as simple a  matter. I hope we see it more often regardless.

Anyway, thanks for writing in Beat, please do so again!

Wherin I avoid complaining about the Saturn for once

Sirrah Wheels, I gather you are in need of column material.  I've supplied it in the past and I can do so again!

As a fellow Saturn owner, can you sell all the new kids on the block regarding the merits of the system that Sega treated so awfully?

I've got a lot of material this week, but your contribution is much appreciated regardless. The Saturn was a good place to to find a lot of interesting RPGs, including several great ones which were brought over by Working Designs. Some of them haven't aged that well because of the Saturn's poor implementation of 3D, but the 2D RPGs still look quite nice, and were often quite amazing to behold. Overall though, the system was a strange black box and I wonder if even Sega knew how the thing produced 3D effects. However for those who are interested, you can probably find a system on ebay for a good price, but many of the best games, RPGs especially, are very expensive. However, if you've got some money to spare, the best RPGs on the system include: Panzer Dragoon Saga, Shining Force 3, Shining the Holy Ark, Shining Wisdom, Magic Knight Rayearth, Albert Odyssey, Dragon Force, and Legend of Oasis. Panzer Dragoon Saga is absolutely the best of the bunch, but it will run you MORE than $200. The game somehow took the battles of an epic on-rails shooter (Panzer Dragoon 1&2) and turned it into a turn-based RPG of all things. It sounds really weird, but it worked amazingly well.

How long do you think it will be before Final Fantasy XV shows up, and what kind of game would you wager it will be?


What a fine question (ok I'm a huge Final Fantasy fan). The big question that could give us some hint about what Final Fantasy XV will be like is who's working on it. Kawazu seems to be free at the moment, but he hasn't worked on a main Final Fantasy title other than XII in a while, and that was kind of a special situation.  So major unknown there. I have a feeling that it wont be anything at all like Final Fantasy XIII though. Despite selling fine, and being liked by a large number of fans (like me), there was a lot of negativity in response to it so I don't think they're in a rush to do the exact same thing again. The other XIII games may be similar, but we shall see. Certainly they will try to do something new, as usual. I have a feeling it will either be more open like Final Fantasy XII, or very linear again but with a more traditional battle system. Probably not something in-between those two.

As far as for when it will come, I'm guessing we'll hear something next year, and the earliest it will be out is 2012.

Three DS RPGs that aren't announced for release over here are Super Robot Taisen OG Saga Endless Frontier EXCEED, Luminous Arc 3, and the remake of Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo (Fire Emblem 3 if the Japanese subtitle is bothersome).  Lay odds on their making it across the ocean, won't you?
Speaking of Sega... is there any hope at all of Shenmue ever being completed?
That should be plenty of content for now.  May your tenure be long and successful in this post!

I will hopefully not be dashing your hopes too much, but I shall lay my odds out for you. Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo I give a very high chance of localization. We've gotten all the other recent Fire Emblem games, so I think Nintendo has cultivated a decent fanbase and kept localization costs low. So yeah, unless Nintendo decides it's not worth it with the 3DS pending I give it high marks.

Luminous Arc 3? I dunno, I mean obviously the first must have done well enough to bring over the sequel, but with the 3DS coming and no announcement from Atlus currently about it, could be they're passing on it. Seems like niche publishers in general have fewer DS releases on the way. However Atlus has nothing scheduled beyond October announced, so we'll see.  I give it a better than average shot.

Super Robot Taisen OG Saga Endless Frontier EXCEED,  you had to include the giant robot thingy didn't you? I have no idea. I'll give it 50/50 because it's a DS game on the late days of the DS and probably not a guaranteed seller. I hope you get your robot silliness though.

There is no hope for Shenmue, I think that ship has sailed. Unless they can find a less expensive way too pull off that vision. Yakuza seems like the closest you'll get. You never know with Sega though, the Shenmue main character was in their racing game!

Anyway thanks for the great letter! Keep it coming.

Can you feel the anger tonight?

Why do some People (like Adriaan den Ouden) tend to hate "Enchanted Arms"? It was one of the first JRPGs on the 360 (later ported to the PS3), and I really enjoyed it!  It was fun, practical and way too goddamn long (65hrs on a single disc). These things appealed to my poor broken mind.  I consider it superior to other JRPGs such as "The Last Remnant" and "Infinite Undiscovery".  Why, just look at Magna Carta 2!  It was well received here on RPGamer! Enchated arms came in 2006, and did deliver a fresh experience that no other game in his category was offering.  It wasn't just another popular game genre clone. Granted, it wasn't perfect, but it was unique.  It's my personal opinion that people like Adriaan, gave up on the game before they finished it, because it was frustrating.  But what most people call frustrating, I call a callenge!  A challenge that no other game this generation has been able to match.


Well let's slow down the hate train a little. I can appreciate your passion for a game like Enchanted Arms, as we've seen with the recent Demon's Souls and 3D Dot Game Heroes, they certainly know how to make some good game mechanics, so it doesn't surprise me that there are some huge fans of Enchanted Arms despite it's generally mediocre reception. I doubt Adriaan "gave up" and never finished the game. Just understand that some people don't like a frustrating game, and prefer a better developed difficulty.

I didn't play much of Enchanted Arms, but the fact that both versions of it came out over here tells me that it did find an audience. The battle system was pretty cool, so I could see that. At the same time I take offence to you dissing a game by the great Kawazu! To be serious though, if take Last Remnant as an example, a lot of people disliked that game (not just because of technical issues on 360) but I find it to be quite good. At the same time, I can perfectly understand why some people didn't like it. Sometimes   you just need to not get pre-occupied by what other people think of your favorite games, and just enjoy them!

Thanks for the letter! Feel free to write in again.

Well that's all for this week. I hope I didn't step on the toes of any of you Tales fans. I was just trying to be honest about the fate of the series outside of Japan. I think I'll play some Alpha Protocol and Ys I&II this week. What do you all think of the Ys Series and Alpha Protocol? Drop me a line about that or whatever is on your mind.

P.S. Less than a month till Valkyria Chronicles 2!


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