|This Week, No Cloud,
Nor Squall Can Stop Me Now!
|September 8th, 2010
09/08 - 12:00PM EST
What's this? You're interrupting my Valkyria Chronicles II playtime
you fools! Welcome to yet another week of Ask Wheels. This week we ask
if Zelda is an RPG, talk
more Japanese RPGs and even more! I'm sure you
guys have heard by now, but Duke
Nukem Forever is actually going to come out. I guess this means
the end of days will be here soon? Seriously though, this game was
announced about 14 years ago. It's going to have to sell a few copies
to make back all that wasted money! Alright, enough of that, on to your
From Column to Column, These are the
Paragraphs of our Lives
Hey Wheels! I know I'm a little late to the party, but I just now
finished reading through the last few columns, and I cherry-picked a
few topics I'd like to keep discussing.
Excellent, let's see what has interested you, hopefully it's Kawazu
First, I know you hate to see this word used in this context, but I
have to ask: Do you think Square Enix is screwing over US fans by not
releasing SaGa II in
English? One would think that they would be more inclined to
bring it over, seeing as something like 70% of the
game's text (i.e. everything that was a part of the original game) was
translated almost two decades ago, and I'm sure that would cut down on
the localization costs a bit.
I'm really lost on the lack of a localization for SaGa 2 DS. I thought that the
original Game Boy games were popular enough that they could just give
the Final Fantasy Legend name
again and get it to sell just fine. I guess Square-Enix thinks
otherwise though. Certainly based on the past few SaGa games released here I can't
really blame them, but it's still a missed opportunity in my opinion.
Using the phrase "screwing over the fans" is probably way too harsh
though, it's just a business decision that is quite understandable.
Next, I'd like to talk tactics. In your very first column you
talked about this. I think you picked the wrong SaGa titles to use for a TRPG base,
though. I actually gave this some thought back in
college, and I think SaGa Frontier 2
work better. Think about it: many tactical titles these days use
an action bar of some sort to determine
how far a character can move as well as how many or what sorts of
can be used after moving. Combine that with SF2's Duel Mode battle system, and
things could get interesting. Also, the Anima system
of magic would work well in this kind of game. Since magic users
in SF2 could draw elemental
anima from both their equipment and their surroundings, positioning
characters on a tactical grid would gain a
whole new importance if a hex's elemental attributes directly
contributed to spell power or even one's ability to cast a specific
spell (in case of equipment failure). The only thing I would worry
about with a Kawazu
TRPG is story. The industry seems to have made plot-heavy
storylines a genre characteristic, and while Kawazu has proven himself
able to make some incredibly detailed worlds to play in, he's always
been a bit hit-or-miss in terms of the actual story in my opinion.
I'm ashamed to admit I haven't yet played SaGa Frontier 2. I'm kind of saving
it for a rainy day I suppose. Your ideas sound really good though,
especially the anima system. I'll have to play some SF2 so I have a better idea of what
it would be like as a tactics game. I still think a tactics game based
on the original SaGa games
would be great though. I mean Kawazu did work on Tactics Advance 2 so he's certainly
got the experience!
Finally, are there any upcoming Japanese titles that have caught your
Your fellow columnist,
I'm really interested in the upcoming Legend
Heroes title from Falcom, though as it appears related to the
upcoming Legend of Heroes
titles XSEED is localizing, I should probably wait and play those
first. Also the recently released Ys/Legend
Heroes fighting game looks pretty cool, and import friendly
of course, but given its recent release, its still a little pricey to
import. Other than that, the PS3 version of Tales of Graces looks really good,
and of course the remake of SaGa 3.
that, I'm hoping to hear about some new games when Tokyo
Game Show rolls around. I'd really like to see a 7th Dragon sequel and in general
some more JRPGs for PS3. Regardless I'm sure my list will be longer
Anyway thanks for writing in fellow columnist, do so again!
More SaGa Talk Makes for Happy Wheels
It's awesome to see Q&A again! I've been reading the site on and
off for a long time and this is the part of the site I always come back
to. It's also great to hear you are a fan of Final Fantasy Legend. In
fact the announcement of the Saga 3
remake seems to have brought all
the Legend fans out of the woodwork. I wonder if Square Enix realizes
there is an entire generation of grown-ups who grew up playing those
games on their Game Boys? I know for me they were the only RPGs I had
to play for a long time. If they marketed them properly I think they
could do OK over here.
Good to see all the old Q&A
fans coming back out!
It's also great to see more fans of the SaGa games on gameboy. Though I
ended up not liking SaGa 3 as
much as the other two gameboy games (it was more of a generic JRPG), it
was still a lot of fun. Obviously they were popular in Japan as well if
they're bringing this game back along with the already released SaGa 2 DS. I agree with you that
there is a fanbase here that could be reached if marketed
(i.e. rename them back to Final
Fantasy Legend), but the lack of a localization for SaGa 2 doesn't give me a lot of
hope that this one is going to come over. Which is a shame, because if
Kawazu is leading the project, they could remake the game into
something real special. Who knows, maybe SaGa 3 DS will get the chance the
previous title did not.
I have been playing through Valkyria
Chronicles (I just got a PS3 this
summer). What a fantastic game! I think what I like about it the most
is how flexible the game is in allowing you to use different tactics
and strategies. Definitely the hallmark of a great strategy game for me
(go figure eh). Its amazing how many of them get that wrong. I did find
it a little frustrating how the game seems designed so you need to
re-try missions once you knew how they pan out, but I'm starting to
figure out how to really use reinforcements, which helps. I am really
looking forward to playing the sequel (my copy should be here soon:).
Though I am not that keen on the setting, the changes they've made to
the gameplay and the fact that it is now portable makes it a no brainer
in my mind. As for which platform VC3 should go to, I think wherever
they can sell it. 3DS seems like a good choice, but they'd risk leaving
behind their current fans on the PS3 and psp.
Chronicles is honestly the best thing Sega has done in a long
time. Though the game has one big flaw (bad AI), instead of it being
an issue, Sega essentially made it a complete non-issue by being very
creative with mission design so that even if the enemies are stupid,
the odds are so stacked in their favor that it's OK for them to be
stupid, and I often hoped for random bits of stupid to help me get
through some harder levels. I understand your point about having to
re-try missions, but I kind of like this trial and error approach for a
strategy game. It forces you to really think about using all the unit
types instead of just using a brute force strategy. Granted
sometimes brute force does the job just fine, but as
you get further and further into the game you really have to change
things up as the missions get harder. I really can't say enough
about how finely crafted the missions are.
So far I've found the gameplay changes in Valkyria Chronicles II to be just fine. The
multi-front battlefields make for some interesting battles, and the
addition of more specialized classes leads to a larger variety of
strategies to employ, especially given the smaller number of units you
can bring into battle. The setting so far is fine. The story isn't
anywhere near as good as in the first game, and obviously the setting
reeks of awful anime, but so far it's been pretty good. I can't say
there aren't your usual anime clichés, but at least they don't
too much from the awesome missions. Though I'm still early, to me the
structure looks like it's headed towards being more mission heavy than
story heavy, but we shall see.
So onto my question. How serious a problem is piracy on handhelds,
especially in regards to niche titles like SaGa 2 and VC2? Do you think
these games would sell a lot better (and, in the case of Saga, get
localized) if piracy weren't so rampant? Or are these titles inherently
limited to a niche audience, and destined to sell what they sell no
Anyways keep up the great job!
I've heard that piracy is pretty bad on both platforms. I mean, the
Nintendo DSi was an unnecessary revision, it almost seems like it was
released just to get a system out there less susceptible to piracy.
Granted, despite the issues there's still plenty of DS games at least
that have sold quite well.
Piracy is a hard thing to substantiate, because it's impossible to tell
whether each game illegally downloaded would have been an actual sale
or not. Would Mario Kart DS
have sold several million more copies if it weren't for piracy?
Certainly the bigger titles can survive this, but I have a feeling that
piracy could be contributing to companies like Square-Enix not taking a
chance on less-established games such as for DS, or Sega with 7th Dragon. There's obviously other
issues involved as well, which I've discussed in the past, but piracy
certainly doesn't help.
On the PSP side it's hard to tell how much it's hurt sales. The PSP is
harder to crack for piracy than the DS is, so I doubt there's as many
people doing it as there are on the DS. PSP game sales certainly are
doing very well in the US though. It's not a good sign when something
like Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker can't
great, but at the same time, we keep getting tons of niche
titles from Atlus and NIS America, so obviously enough people are
buying PSP games. That is, at least enough people are buying niche PSP
games to make it worthwhile for the publishers. I will say though, that
piracy certainly isn't helping the already limited popularity of the
PSP outside of Japan.
Piracy is always a tough thing to quantify, because companies want to
call every download a lost sale, which isn't always accurate. It's
clear that piracy has had a huge effect on this generation of portables
though. Anyway thanks for the letter, write in again!
Six Degrees of Separation Returns
Connect Gun Smoke to Vandal Hearts
I thought you were going to challenge me?
This is easy. Capcom published Gun
Smoke in arcades->Capcom worked with Konami to add Monster Hunter content to Metal Gear Solid : Peacewalker->Konami
(This is a bit out of the ordinary, but these two questions fit
together so here we go:)
Dear Wheels, is Zelda an RPG?
Thanks Hito. This is a very
interesting question and one which I often see come up. To answer this
question we kind of have to ask what makes an Action-RPG an RPG.
Opinions may differ, but my opinion would basically boil down to stats
of some kind having some effect on how much damage you deal, meaning
that success or failure in combat doesn't boil down to skill, but also
what your stats are. So does Zelda
fit into this definition? Not really. Granted that's a pretty narrow
definition, but I think most people would find that as the splitting
point between Action-RPGs and Action-Adventure games.
Despite this, I think the Zelda
games are close enough to being RPGs that they are certainly worth
talking about on an RPG site. Lots of Action-RPGs certainly draw a log
of inspiration from Zelda,
especially games like Alundra, so
not to talk about Zelda.
really, Zelda is
worth talking about, so there you go.
Dear Wheels, what is the Zelda
Oh the Zelda timeline. Nintendo has
confirmed that there is some kind of official timeline but of course
refuses to tell us what it is, which leads to all kinds of crazy
theories. My personal favorite is the split timeline theory. This
theory has Minish Cap as
the first game, then obviously Ocarina
Time, and this is where the split occurs. One timeline is
where Link saves the future and then vanishes (back to the past). The
other timeline is young Link warning the king about Ganandorf (after
Link returns from the future). So this would place Windwaker in the timeline where
Link vanishes after defeating Ganon (since the story in that one
discusses the Hero of Time disappearing). The other timeline would
obviously then have all the other Zelda
games not related to Wind Waker.
these are the same Link from Ocarina
Time is unclear (except Majora's
It's certainly a fun theory, but it's
nothing more than
that as I'm sure there are a lot of holes in it (such as: which
would Twilight Princess fit
into?). Hopefully they'll release some kind of wacky timeline with some
love some kind of reality bending game where
Link has to unite the timelines somehow. Time travel is always fun to
play with in fiction.
Anyway, thanks Nodal, brief as this timeline discussion was it's always
Twitter Question About Dream Teams
@AskWheels in the vein of Kingdoms of Amalur what is your
author+designer+character designer dream team?
Such an excellent question, thank you! We'll start with the author. The
author of my imaginary dream team would absolutely have to be George
R.R. Martin. I'm a huge fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books, and I
think the world he's created there is quite fantastic. I wouldn't want
them to make a game in that universe, but his creativity would make any
fantasy type project better I think. Granted this would distract him
from finishing the book series, but this is all theoretical anyway.
For character designer I would have to go with Toriyama. A typical
choice, I know, but playing Dragon
Quest IX just makes me want that classical kind of look for this
dream game. I know his stuff can look pretty similar sometimes, but I
have no doubt that he could apply a unique and interesting look to a
world created by Martin. Plus the man made Poo Slimes look interesting,
so obviously he knows what he's doing.
Finally I'd have to top off the dream team with the Maestro himself,
Kawazu leading the creation of actual gameplay. Say what you want about
the man, but he certainly knows how to be experimental and try new
things. I mean, if you're going to assemble a dream team of people the
last thing you would want to do is make something typical, right? I'm
thinking some kind of SaGa based character progression wrapped in a
nice Action-RPG shell. I have no idea if this would turn out well, but
damn it these three working on one project together would have to
create something interesting!
Thanks for the great question!
Another week in the books. As always thanks for the letters and keep
them coming in. Not getting a lot of twitter questions, come on guys!
It's the perfect place to send me some quick questions.
Anyway, we've still got some great RPGs coming up this year, so plenty
to talk about. I've been playing a lot of Ys: Oath In Felghana on PC though,
and I can tell you that its release on PSP is not something you should
ignore. It's just one of the most well put together games I've played
in quite some time. More on that another time, I'll have more info on
the next contest coming near the end of the month, so stay tuned!
August 11th: Wheels
August 18th: Wheels
August 25th: Wheels
September 1st: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Ys: Oath in Felghana for PSP
2. Etrian Odyssey 3
3. Fallout: New Vegas
4. Halo: Reach
5. Last Dragon Age Origins Add-On
On my Playlist:
1. JDK Band
3. The Who
1. Duke Nukem Forever is actually going to come
out, does this mean we still have a chance at getting Mother 3? and 7th
Dragon? and Secret of Mana 2?
2. SaGa 3 remake, will it be handled by Kawazu, so he can Kawazu it up?
3. If Sega makes a Valkyria Chronicles 3, what platform should it be on?
4. Demon's Souls was a big success for From Software, what should be in
a potential sequel?
5. Eternal Sonata was certainly a unique idea for a game, if you were
to make a game with the same concept, what musical artist would you
choose and what would the game be like?