|Sky and Robot
|September 30th, 2011
09/30- 12:00PM EST
Welcome to another episode of Q&A. Things are a bit late this week
due to craziness in the baseball season distracting me.
I'll jump straight into the letters...
This is Mr.Bobson Ray. I work for South coast Inc. South Coast
Inc is an investment sub-company under Capital One Bank U.K. South
Inc handles all aspects of investment of customer funds on behalf of
Capital One Bank U.K.
Interesting, I have to wonder though, South Coast of what? England?
South America? China? Kind of a generic name don't you think?
South Coast Inc, on behalf of Capital One Bank U.K handles all
Investors Treasury Bill Deposit which gives us access to trade with our
Investors Funds on Private Arrangement. In addition, we make an average
turn-over of US$1.2-3 Billion United States Dollars annually through
Private Trading with our Investors fund and Treasury Bill Deposit while
the said funds are currently lying as a Floating Capital in our
Treasury Bill Magellan Trust Account.
Why that's quite the profit, so, I have to ask this: Can't you afford
to hire someone who can write better e-mails? I mean come on! There
weren't even any flashy images in this thing!
Based on recent development, I have been mandated by one of our
numerous investors to find someone of your caliber who can help receive
and manage his funds in our custody. Details of the said investment
funds will be revealed to you upon receiving a confirmatory email from
you as to your readiness to assume the task of investing the said funds
in a Private arrangement that will be beneficial to all parties
By someone of my caliber, you mean someone who answers questions about
RPGs? What are we investing in here, Falcom stock?
This is a fair deal without any risk attached and will be legally
transacted. I look forward to hearing from you for further discussion
of the pending transaction.
Thank you for the anticipated cooperation.
Whoa whoa whoa, pending transaction? How did we already get to a
pending transaction in the course of this thing? This has quickly gone
from "hey it'd be cool to have you on board" to "there's a pending
transaction, you better be cooperating". You have to be kidding
me. This is the worst scam letter I've ever received. I'm sorry Mr.
Bobson Ray but you have to at least make it sound convincing!
Some People Call Me the Space Cowboy
I've been playing Dragon Quest
Monsters: Joker 2 and I have to say, I'm having a blast. I gave
the first one about 5 hours and could not summon any interest too keep
going. I think it was due to the level design being as bland as it
could possibly be, with the added weirdness of waverunning to and from
different islands. What was that about? I'm not sure if you played it,
but did the game ever explain why they used waverunners and not, say,
I don't think it ever did, though I
didn't play much farther into the first Joker than you did. Still my
experience was the same. The game felt bland, and uninteresting, and I
could never get into it. Joker 2
on the other hand, has a weird "Lost" vibe to its silly story, and the
locations are a lot more interesting. Plus Joker 2 has the tank from Rocket Slime as a monster somewhere
in the game, which is just amazing.
doesn't seem to have a setting problem at all. You start the game by
crash landing on some unknown island, and spend your time rounding up
crewmembers of the airship and monsters as you explore deeper and
deeper into the island. Having a contiguous world to explore is much
more interesting, don't you think? I don't know about you, but I'm way
more interested in this game than I was in Pokemon Black or White earlier this year, and I
think it's due to the monster breeding. Why doesn't Nintendo (or Game
Freak, whoever) make breeding Pokemon
more streamlined? And why isn't
it as interesting as DQM:J2?
The setting is just great. It has a
strange kind of "Lost" vibe to it, like I said, but of course handles
it in a much more humorous way. What's great about the areas I've
explored so far is the huge monsters that you can run into. Not just
because they make the environment more interesting, but you can
actually run into a battle with them and get destroyed. It adds a sense
to danger while exploring these areas that normally in a game like Pokemon would just be a bland place
to capture new Pokemon. I
haven't done much of the breeding yet, but so far it looks a lot like
the fusion from the Shin Megami
Tensei series. It has that same addicting feel to it, and I'm
really looking forward to seeing what breeding rare monsters will
produce. I haven't been interested in Pokemon
or similar games in years, so the fact
that I'm loving this game is very telling. I'm not sure why
Nintendo/Game Freak can't make the Pokemon breeding system more
streamlined, but it looks like they have a lot to learn from DQM:J2.
I've also never played any of the non-DS Monsters games. Have you? Are
they any good? Should I track any of them down, or wait for the
recently announced 3DS remake of one of them?
I'd really wait for the 3DS remake
instead of going back to the older ones. I have one of the gameboy
ones, and have played the Japan only gameboy advance one, and they
haven't aged particularly well. Your millage may vary, but I'd only try
them if you can find one of the old gameboy games on the cheap. The
past games may not be amazing, but the future of this series appears to
Thanks for the letter, don't be a stranger!
Mr. Iron Wheels, I'm back again! Didja miss me?
Of course I did! You always provide
interesting questions. LOTS
of interesting questions!
(FYI: short on time this week, so I'm saving your six degrees of
separation challenges for next week)
All this furor on our forums over FFVII and FFX seems
kinda silly to me, since I have no real interest in playing a newer
version of either. That said, both could stand some improvement if
Square Enix was intent upon doing such. Really though, VII is
the one that needs help the most. I can accept that anybody who likes
looking at a computer screen while playing the game can get around
Sony's awful translation, but navigating the environments is needlessly
convoluted EVEN WITH the arrows to note where the exits are, the
graphics have aged very badly, and those animations really don't play
well anymore when they take so long to complete. Sure it has some good
points (even if I didn't think Uematsu's score was as great as most
seem to), but to someone playing it for the first time in 2010, the
result didn't impress.
Oh, and the mandatory minigames were probably just as annoying back in
1997, but conveniently glossed over at the time. Unless someone wants
to elucidate exactly how the terrible snowboarding sim needs to be
played in order to get everything out of the game, I'll continue
thinking of it (and the motorcycle quick time events, and the chocobo
racing, and whatever I'm forgetting) as very not fun.
Well part of Final Fantasy VII's appeal was how
good it was compared to many other games when it originally came out,
so I can understand why you couldn't get into it. The game has not aged
well in the slightest. I actually enjoyed most of the mini-games, as
they provided a nice way to break up the experience, but they also have
not aged well. Back to the issue with the forum topic, and the topic
that has been all over the web, the whole complaining is just silly.
It's clear that this isn't really a "remake". HD Playstation 2 updates
have been doing well, including Square Enix's own Tomb Raider Trilogy, so that's all
that this FFX update is. It
will show up on Vita as well, unlike the others, but it's clearly not a
full on remake. So I'm just not sure what people are complaining about,
Square Enix knows the power of the Final
VII brand, and they'll remake it when the time is right.
People are acting like this is being done instead of
a Final Fantasy VII remake, which is
just silly. Not only that, but Final
Fantasy X was quite popular on its own, with a sequel that sold
more than five million copies. There is plenty of demand for a FFX update.
All I'm gonna say about X is
that, since an International version of it exists that Square Enix
could channel extra money overseas from, the HD retool is a quick way
to make money. I can always hope for lip syncing that doesn't
make me remember horrible dub jobs for everything from Godzilla movies
to Bruce Lee's work, let alone less time-consuming and boring puzzles
in the temples, but those would require actual effort instead of what's
likely to result.
While none of those things bothered me
in the original, you're right in that it's unlikely much will be
changed for this update. I'd love for it to be the International
version that's updated, but I'm sure it will sell well regardless. I
can tell you I'm more excited for the Vita version than anything else.
Portable FFX? Yes please.
Actually, I should talk a bit about Tengai Makyou III, since it
DID take me over 100 hours to complete. It's nowhere near the insanity
of the Saturn Tengai Makyou, though few things are. It's got a
fair number of oddities, though. Take the enemy Madara, who has a
technique that actually swaps the ceiling with the ground. I've been
upside down in video games before, notably during the Death Egg in Sonic
Knuckles, but doing it in an RPG (a 3D one nonetheless) is
noteworthy. Plus this isn't just a cosmetic thing, it inverts the
strength of attacks so that weaker attacks are now stronger and vice
100 hours? That's pretty crazy. Are we
talking like a legitimate 100 hours, similar to Dragon Quest VII, or is that just
how much time you spent on it? Anyway, the whole ceiling swap thing
sounds crazy, but at the same time, does that make the boss much
easier, since you could then spam low level attacks?
Much earlier in the game is the interesting villain Idaten. Not
only does he look kinda like Bob Marley, along with having a tattoo on
his tongue, this guy has some funky speed moves. His villainous
behavior mostly consists of whisking all the attractive women in a city
away with a burst of wind straight out of the Looney Tunes. When
finally confronting him, he doesn't just fight, oh no. First you
have to answer his quiz questions - and they're timed! Japanese
knowledge or a great ability to guess multiple choice answers is
mandatory. Then you'll need to bounce explosives in the air
via a timed minigame, and quickly ID just how many enemies you saw
rampage across the screen, before he'll finally get down to
business. Even the fight is unusual, since his speed makes
landing hits harder than usual. Until he puts on the Mayan bird
mask and starts doing his weird super-fast combo that pummels everyone
in succession, of course.
Wow, that sounds pretty strange (I can't even imagine someone actually
getting a tattoo on their tongue, does that actually happen?). I can
tell you from the multi-choice questions in Persona 3 that I would probably
fail horribly at the whole quiz portion. Not that I'm opposed to
strange and interesting villains, but this guy sounds like a bit much.
Then there's the series goofball villain, Manto. His first
appearance is in a town where he attacks by... summoning a horde of
rocking horses that will leave you almost dead. Good thing he
does absolutely nothing after that, allowing you to beat him into the
dirt. Then you fight him again in the place he's trying to turn
into a theme park, then again where he begins the fight with a five
minute monologue about all his roles in the series and how he feels
gypped (I think - this is something only one fluent in Japanese can
understand), then once again in Idaten's palace where he's got an
experimental jet pack on his back that starts malfunctioning if you
give it enough time. He's weird, but since in the Saturn game he
was the King of Lake Tahoe, this is a little bit of a come-down.
Wait a second, the other guy wasn't
the goofball villain? What the heck is this series?!?!?
The game also has a magic system I kind of liked, though it's
time-consuming. A bunch of hermits are scattered around the
world, and each of them will give you a spell. That spell can be
equipped to any character, and once the character uses the spell a
certain number of times (clearly shown in Roman numerals) the spell is
learned and its MP cost is reduced and is about 50% more
effective. The only problem is that they can take awhile to
learn. Later healing spells take 75 or 100 reps to learn.
Sounds somewhat similar to the esper
system in Final Fantasy VI,
where many of the more powerful spells took awhile to learn. 75 to 100
reps might be a bit much, but sounds like an interesting system.
Since you exclaimed about the choice between Produn and Edmund when I
mentioned Shining Force III Scenario 3, I think it necessary to
mention a similar part in Scenario 2. Remember Garosh, the
archer Synbios encounters very early, in only his second battle while
trying to escape Saraband and meeting the fake Emperor? Well, if
Synbios talked to him in time, Garosh ran off to warn his government of
what was taking place. If nobody got to him in time (since he's an
archer surrounded by enemies, fiddling around will guarantee his death)
he died. Late in Scenario 2 the consequence of this is
revealed. After Medion has sent Governor Garvin scurrying off to
eventually initiate his attack with a giant tank upon the Aspinian
capital, Garosh will join Medion's ranks if he was left alive, as a
favor to someone he knows is a friend. This means his younger brother
Jade will be the boss of the next battle, since Jade is a soldier of
the Republic and Medion's force IS marching through Republican
territory in what looks an awful lot like an invasion (and is, since
Domaric is with the force now). This path means that Jade has to die,
because in Shining Force III most of the characters you kill in
battle actually die. If Garosh died, then Jade will join Medion to seek
vengeance against those who left him the sole member of his family.
See, that's what makes games with
choices like that so great. It sounds like every little death can have
some kind of effect on the story and that just makes the world feel
much more interesting, even if the effect on the overall story is
minor. We need more game series where the choices you make carry over
from game to game, as they make the experience feel like your own
Oh, and in Scenario 3, Julian
gets some very interesting troops. Instead of the birdmen Eldar,
Fynnding, and Zero available to Synbios and Medion for flight purposes,
Julian first gets Thousand (who can be killed, but why would you do
that)? Thousand is a dragon, and while he has no ranged attacks,
seeing his special moves (one of which involves landing butt-first onto
the enemy) is pretty darn cool. Then Julian gets Honesty, a
pegasus. She can use spears for a ranged attack along with lances
and wings (wings are like swords, so she's better against axe-users)
giving her enormous usefulness. Then late in the game he gets
Primula, a fairy. Attacking physically with her is pretty funny
(since she's maybe one foot tall, it doesn't exactly do much) but she's
a mage with an interesting spell list that includes Heal and the
ability to summon Zephyrus. So you've got a flying healer
and magic user - very handy.
Absolutely as far as the flying
healer/magic user goes. One of the biggest problems I've always run
into with magic users in the Shining
Force series is their limited mobility. The Dragon/Pegasus
characters sound great. I've always loved abusing characters with great
mobility in Shining Force, to
the point where I used all kinds of tricks to power up the turtle
character in Shining Force 2.
So! I've been playing quite a bit of Odin Sphere lately, and I
understand you sampled it too. I'll let you handle the graphics,
which are most definitely gorgeous. I have some beefs with the
gameplay. The central one would be the repetition. There are
eight areas in
the game (maybe a few more at the end, which I haven't reached yet) and
five characters. Each character starts from scratch with a
brand-new story, and goes through seven of the eight areas. In
other words, you're going to see the same scenery (populated with the
same enemies) a lot. Each character does feel distinct, but
considering the game plays rather like a beat-em-up, I wish the usual
method of that genre had been employed. In other words, letting
me have a much shorter game that's amenable to replay with a different
character is preferable to being forced into playing the stages over
& over to pad out the game. It's especially obnoxious when it
comes to bosses, since their actions don't change regardless of the
character being used.
Yeah as much as I like what I've
played, it's a bit of a shame that this is the case. It seems like it
would have been better, like you say, if the whole story plays out the
first time through, and playing as different characters just gives you
a different perspective, but isn't required to see the end of the
story. I wonder, despite the game's popularity (it reached greatest
hits status), if most people just played through a few character's
Oh, and the load times can be annoying. You'll have to let me
know if the screen takes over 30 seconds to load whenever you enter a
restaurant, which you will need to do because the food available there
is far more effective at raising your HP level than eating what you can
obtain directly on the battlefields.
I'll be nice and not tell you that I'm
able to run the game off my PS2's hard drive and thus eliminate the
long loading times...
Wax rhapsodic about the Lufia
series for the readers, won't you? Ignoring the fourth game on
GBA, because even with my amazing tolerance for crap, I put it down
after a few hours and haven't played it since.
There, that should be plenty of material, don't you think?
Well here's the thing, I've never
played the Lufia games! I
have a good friend who constantly tells me how good they are, but
somehow I've never gotten around to it. I'll have to do so, as I'm
really interested in the fact that the dungeons in the games are very
puzzle focused. I will get back to you on this!
Thank you as always for the excellent content.
*WARNING: Suikoden 1/2 spoilers*
easily one of my favorite jrpg series of all time, for a number of
reasons, including the unique flavor of the main series' world, the
rather brutal way the influence of the True Runes tends to ruin
people's lives and alter the course of history, and the very
un-jrpg-like brutal reality of the wars that occur in that setting
(racial pogroms, betrayals, assassinations, massacres, etc). I'm
going to be rather blunt about why I loved the series at first... I was
a rather morbid, blood-loving bastard (ok, I'm still blood-loving, but
I'm a bit less morbid) in my teens, when the first game came out, and a
protagonist with a rune that ate the souls of the people he loved most
appealed to me on a lot of levels.
However, after replaying the first two games recently, I was forced to
recognize the most lasting value of the series is the sheer humanity of
the core characters of each game, often most sharply defined by the
characters that die as part of the story's progression (oddly, not an
unusual factor in a lot of older jrpgs, though the practice seems to
have virtually vanished as the genre has become more and more geared to
dungeon-crawler addicts and a younger audience). Gremio,
Mathiu, Pahn, Odessa, Teo, and numerous others in the first game, as
well as Nanami, the old general, and even Jowy (in certain endings) in
the second in many ways defined the turning points of the game, lending
them an emotional impact that made permanent impressions in my
memory. Suikoden stories are above all, stories of humanity, both
its best and worst aspects, and as a result, its plots were more mature
than the common ruck of jrpgs, which have a tendency toward emotional
surrealism that can be surprisingly shallow on closer examination in
I couldn't agree with you more. You've hit the nail on the head of what
makes the Suikoden series so
good. It has the trappings of fantasy that we know and love, but the
characters and stories are much more grounded in reality. Death is a
constant fear and consequence in there series, and characters have very
real motivations. There's no insane super powered monsters trying to
destroy the universe, and fewer real evil characters. Though Suikoden II does include an
insane evil character, he's much more complex than he appears at first.
We need more games like Suikoden.
In addition, Suikoden stories
were not 'save the world' stories, another distinction from the average
jrpg that even now makes me go back to them... and made me so
disappointed with Tierkreis,
which - to be blunt - was not a Suikoden
in theme or essential nature. To be blunt, the events in Tierkreis, rather than being a
mature story of war and chaos, was 'just another jrpg' with the only
distinction being that the protagonist has a hundred and seven
companions available to him to help save the world. Seeing that a
new side entry in the series is popping up in the same universe, I can
only hope they manage to avoid it falling into the same trap, even
though it is apparently not being developed by the original Suikoden team. While Tierkreis might have been a decent
jrpg... it had no business capitalizing on the Suikoden name. I know I sound
like a bitter fanboy - since that happens to be what I am - but I
really do think I have a legitimate complaint in this case... in the
case of a series whose greatest draws were the continuity of its
unusually mature themes and deep, complex plots that were focused on a
microcosm of the world rather than on some hair-brained quest to save
the entirety of it.
You have a completely valid complaint. Though I think Tierkreis is a fine RPG, it ignores
everything that made the original games so great. Now, I don't think it
matters if the original Suikoden team
involved (weren't they disbanded?), there should be plenty of
writers/developers at Konami who can replicate the same kind of feel.
We'll see where the new game goes. I think if they try a more serious
approach to the whole multiverse idea, they can make a more Suikoden-like game (I may be
biased, I love multiple-universe stories). We'll have to wait and see.
Personally I think Tierkreis would
been much more acceptable to Suiko-fans
it contained multiple types of combat like what is typical for the
series. Hopefully the new game will include this. We shall see! At the
very least, remember this: we'll always Suikoden 1/2/3/4(If it's your
That's it for this week! My mailbox is light, so send in some
questions! Especially Suikoden
See you next week!
August 26th: Wheels
September 1st: Wheels
September 15th: Wheels
September 23rd: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Dark Souls
2. Battlefield 3
3. Final Fantasy XIII-2
5. Tales of the Abyss 3D
On my Playlist:
1.El Shaddai Soundtrack
2. Etrian Odyssey 3 Super Arrange 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?