|Return of the Sardines
|September 15th, 2011
09/15- 12:00PM EST
Welcome back to Q&A, fresh from a week off. As you probably saw, I
was busy getting out a review for Disgaea
4, which, being a massive game and all, was quite the
Anyway, I won't blabber on too much, let's get straight to your letters!
So I actually played an RPG!
Yeah, Didn't see that one coming, did ya?!
Actually I did, because I think that deep down, you secretly love
RPGs, and that this is the reason you write into Q&A. This fulfills
some unconscious need to talk about RPGs. So which one did you play?
Anyways it was Radiant Historia
for the DS. And while I'm sure you're just waiting for me to hate
on it, I actually really had a lot of fun with it. To me, the
game felt like Chrono Trigger
in that you sit down with it and holy crap you're playing a goddamn
video game. The battle system is this neat, fun thing that can be
learned, then mastered, then utterly and totally abused. The
characters are neat little dudes I didn't mind reading the words
of. And they carried out a neat little story that, while mostly
linear, encourages you to mess around and see how you can break
it. When it was over, and the big boss was dead, it told me to
feel free to use my now super-powered army of neat little dudes to hop
around the story and see what cool stuff I missed and what other
endings there were without making me do the whole thing over again.
So my question is, why aren't all video games like this?
Oh man Radiant Historia, you
clearly have good taste in RPGs in addition to your secret love of
them. Radiant Historia is a
game so good that it not only cracked the top 5 staff DS favorites, it
finished at number three despite being out less than a year. It was
topped only by Clash of Heroes
and The World Ends With You,
which I think I recall you being a fan of. I believe it even sold quite
well despite being a niche game, and was hard to find at one point. So
yes, it is simply a well put together game in all respects.
Why can't call games be like this? Well Beat, I don't know how to break
this to you, but I'm afraid that some developers simply aren't as good
at their craft as others. I mean if all games were masterpieces, we'd
have no way of telling that any games were that good.
An example, every Final Fantasy
I've played since 1997 has had at least one character who's an utter
pain in the ass. Everything he says and does is irritating, and
intentionally so, because the very point of him existing is so, over
the course of the story, he can learn some important life lesson, and
realize that not being an enormous tool all the time might not be a
terrible idea. Problem is the game is 80 hours long, so by the
time he has this revelation around hour 55, and up till that point all
you can do is hope that in the next 15-minute long, fully voiced
"mini-movie" he'll have his stupid epiphany already and shut the hell
Every Final Fantasy you've
played since 1997? I see your secret love of RPGs has been around for
quite some time. Anyway, I think you're being a bit unfair here, there
were no such characters in Final
Fantasy Tactics or Final
Fantasy IX. Point taken though, there are a lot of
annoying characters in RPGs, and considering how long many of them are,
this is a big issue. All genres have their annoying character
templates, but being story focused those in the RPG genre are a lot
more noticeable. I guess companies just need to find some better
writers? I wonder if you've played Blue
Dragon? I think the issue with a lot of Japanese RPGs is they
are copying characters similar to popular anime, manga, etc., with the
problem being that their annoyance is stretched out a lot more in a
Why? Why is the scenario I've described even a thing to begin with? Radiant Historia (And Chrono Trigger before it) had
nothing of the sort and their plots were better for it.
Simply put: Bad writers are bad. There's nothing that can be done for
it. Until video game writing improves on the whole, you're going to
keep running into these sorts of things. Probably even after that. I'd
have to disagree that they ruin these games completely though. Even Blue Dragon had fun gameplay
despite one of the most annoying characters ever.
It's not even just the painful character archetype. It's the 30
minute intros with the CGI woman dressed in a bikini doing fake kung-fu
on fake stormtroopers. It's the over world that takes a good 40
minutes to cross when I barely even play for more than 30 minutes at a
time. It's the pseudo-philosophical babble that sounded deep when
we were 14 and sounded retarded when we turned 18. There are so
many things I see in so many mainstream RPGs that Radiant Historia demonstrated can
be totally abandoned, and still be a great game.
What went wrong?
I'll tell you exactly what went wrong. People bought the heck out of
the other games, and not so much the Chrono
Triggers and Radiant Historias.
really, Beat? There's no one to blame but us. That's right, the
reason you've had to suffer such things is because you keep buying them!
Looking forward to hearing more about your secret love of RPGs in the
Where is "The Witcher 2"
Well I won't directly answer that
question. Instead, I'll remind you that we are but a force of
volunteers, doing our best to write and play about games from this
genre that we love so much. We aren't always able to cover everything
because of this, and a PC game like The
2 brings additional complications to the table. Not all
of us have PCs capable of running the game, so if everyone that can run
it is already working on other things, it's easy for such a PC game to
slip through the cracks. I can assure you that this is not something
that staff members just let slip. We want and strive to get reviews out
for everything possible. Sometimes, its just not in the books.
Political Tactics Part Deux
Some replies to your replies! :)
"I haven't played Suikoden Tactics yet, but given the dubious quality
of Suikoden IV I'm not
surprised. It's too bad they tied it to the most
reviled game in the series."
"I'd disagree with your point of the Tactics Advance games being
bad, but to each his/her own as they say!"
Indeed to each his/her own. I actually LOVED Suikoden IV. Now, I do
have to admit I am a Suikoden
fanboy, but I will also admit it had its
faults, but I thought the setting was insanely refreshing from all the
tried RPG formulas. Also, I thought the game did a really good job of
conveying the feeling of being on the open seas, of being on islands
(especially the shipwreck part), and at least they didn't make Suikoden
1 part 4. It was truly its own unique game, but still in the
Interesting, I will certainly give Suikoden IV a try, as I have a
feeling even if it is a bad Suikoden
game, a bad Suikoden game
most be better than most right? Anyway, the setting is certainly an
interesting idea. I think I talked on Q&A awhile back about how
open-sea types of settings haven't been used often enough. I'll
probably take awhile to get to Suikoden
IV but I"ll be sure to post some thoughts once I do.
The fact that Tactics was
tied to 4 was something I
thought was really
cool. One thing that I thought was really nice *spoiler alert* is how
they explained the Suikoden 4
final boss in Tactics. I
understand the final boss at all, but then Tactics gave it some sense.
Plus they told us what happened to some of the characters out of 4,
some minor ones got put in the spotlight. All in all, I thought it was
I guess Tactics A2 wasn't
that bad... But I really disliked the
first, especially considering who their daddy was.
But I agree, there aren't enough.
Very interesting, I'm really going to
have to get to Suikoden IV
and Suikoden Tactics. It's
probably bad to make assumptions about games I haven't played just
because others didn't like them.
I still say both Tactics Advance
games are great. The thing is, they're all about the gameplay, not so
much story, so I'm not saying your complaints about story aren't valid.
Anyway, we agreed in this, there need to be more tactics games with
varied story premises.
Nippon Ichi should create a Tactical RPG Maker, release it IN ENGLISH,
ON DVD ROM FOR PC!!!! Why, you ask? Well, the only way to get an
English Tactical RPG Maker these days is download a cracked illegal
version, and I don't like illegal, and I dislike ordering stuff online
so I just want it on DVD thank you! But hey, there is a novel idea for
Nippon Ichi! They seem crazy enough to think about it. They have the
know how. I just hope they will include the option to import your own
sprites so you can choose whether to go for zany of serious yourself.
I'll buy it, Nippon Ichi!
I'm sure they would prefer if we kept
buying their Tactical RPGs, so I doubt they'd ever make such a thing!
That would be a lot of fun though, I'd love to make my own tactical rpg
of some sort.
Alas, fighting games have never favored me. Anyway, water under
the burnt bridge, or something like that. Now to wait for a new
game proposal challenge.
Sorry about that! I can tell you I certainly didn't expect the crazy
oil wrestling character to win out the tournament. Better luck next
In the meantime, I have a question for you. I am considering
getting a "new" system (of course assuming I'd ever have time to play
it given grad school and all) and would like some advice: PSP, PS2, or
3DS? I was thinking any prize I won would decide for me, but now
I am without direction. As background, I currently have a DS,
Wii, and a fairly good PC as my role playing systems. As far as
types of RPGs, I like most all of them, but am a notable fan of weird
stuff (if you haven't noticed the games I draw off of for my proposals).
Well as partial as I am to the portable systems, I'd have to say you
should go with the PS2. There is an insane number of great RPGs for the
system, and it sounds like you passed on it in your prime. If you'd
prefer a portable system, go with the PSP, as you can get a lot of
games for it on the cheap now that we're nearing the Vita release, and
if you stick to digital releases you'll be able to switch your library
to a Playstation Vita if you so choose. I'd avoid the 3DS for now, as
there aren't many RPGs for it now, or planned in the near future. It
could be a fine choice eventually, but for now it would be hard to
recommend it as an RPG machine. Once you make your decision let me
know, and I'll be sure to provide a list of odd ball titles to try out!
That's it for this week! Next week I've got an assortment of great
questions from some fellow staff members, and more!
See you then!
August 11th: Wheels
August 18th: Wheels
August 26th: Wheels
September 1st: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Dark Souls
2. Battlefield 3
3. Persona 2 PSP
5. Tales of the Abyss 3D
On my Playlist:
1.El Shaddai Soundtrack
2. Deus Ex Soundtrack
3. Homestuck Soundtrack
1. Is it time for Tom Clancy to make an RPG?
2. Why do you think Nintendo suddenly decided to add region protection
to the 3DS when they hadn't done so for previous portables?
3. What long dormant RPG series do you want to see make a return?
4. Do you prefer digital releases or physical releases and why?
5. Borderlands somehow merged Diablo and first person shooters to make
an incredible game, what can the sequel do to improve on the first?