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ASK WHEELS
Q&A Different
October 7th, 2011

10/07- 12:00PM EST

Well before we get into the questions, I thought I'd take a moment to address the sad news this week. As most of you I'm sure have heard, Steve Jobs, co-founder and until quite recently CEO of Apple, has passed away. Being a long time Mac user, this news hit me pretty hard. I've really taken that "Think Different" slogan to heart my whole life, tinkering with old Macs as a kid, and getting into the whole "Mac vs. Windows" war. So needless to say, the products he was involved with had a large impact on my life. Now, there's no doubt the man wasn't perfect (there are many legendary stories of him firing people), but clearly creative types gravitated towards him, as he completely turned around a company that looked to be on the brink of going under. I mean the man brought us the company that created Toy Story and Monsters Inc, what more is there to say? Raise your glasses ladies and gentlemen; we've lost a titan of the industry.

Steve Jobs



Now on to happier matters...





The Letters
Go Crazy? Don't Mind if I do!

Dear Wheels, why are you so awesome and crazy at the same time?
-Nyx


Wheels

Ahh, well that is a long and complicated story. I suppose it began when I first got a computer of my own to tinker with. It was a Commodore 64, and starting programs on that thing wasn't exactly easy. One could go crazy trying to figure out how to start thing up on such a computer.  Anyway, that just leads me to the more important computer that came next: an Amiga. With the Amiga my brother and I ended up primarily playing three games: Christmas Lemmings, Rise of the Dragon, and Conquests of Camelot. Now the only notable title out of that bunch is Conquests of Camelot. It was an adventure game from Sierra, and in an age before GameFAQs, such games were incredibly hard. You had to manually type in most commands, which means it took my brother and I forever to figure out how to put on all of Arthur's armor, and then even longer to figure out you had to donate all kinds of gold in the chapel before leaving the castle, or the portcullis would fall on your head. Also there were some very tough riddles you had to solve, such as:

"I go around in circles but always straight ahead, never complain no matter where I am led. What am I?"

conquests of camelot
Caption: Remember kids, donate to the church or portcullises will fall on your head

This game could be quite maddening just trying to figure out what you were supposed to do, but my brother and I played it for hours on end trying to figure out what the heck to do. This was pretty much the theme of the pre-internet gaming days. I often found the best games were the ones that were tough nuts to crack. I suppose playing many of these kinds of games (I did play tons of SaGa after all) are what shaped my craziness, and also shaped whatever awesomeness I do possess. This is something that games today miss (except for some exceptions like Dark Souls and Resonance of Fate). Tutorials and ease of access are great, but there's something special out the ins and outs of a game system on your own.

Anyway, here's to the crazy ones!


Suikodaniel

Dear Wheels,

This is mr. Daniel Brouwer, and I have been tasked to find someone of your Soul Calibur whose name is Wheels to rip money off of, so naturally I have sent this inquiry to you. Please give me all your money, because this is a totally legitimate scam... I mean... transaction...

Anyhoo, seeing as you asked for it, I am back once again to talk about Suikoden.

Wheels

Oh excellent pun! I shall of course you my monHEY WAIT A MINUTE.

I will let this attempted theft slide and get down to some Suikotalk.

Clephas said everything that I feel as well. He may call himself a bitter fanboy, but I think it is the exact same sentiment every die hard Suikoden fan feels, and let's face it, Suikoden has a very die hard following. So it strikes me as incredibly odd that Konami has went the multiverse way with Tierkreis and totally abandon the whole concept of Suikoden, but instead of listen to their fans (who have all said the exact same thing : “Fine game, but not a Suikoden game”, they just go ahead and do the exact same thing once more. Because that is what this next installment is going to be, just another jrpg.

Wheels

Well I think what Konami was trying to do with Tierkreis was not to make a game for long time fans, but try to bring in new fans to the series. I believe V sold poorer than IV, so it could be Konami thought it necessary to try and bring in new fans. Now why they thought it a good idea to abandon everything that makes the series what it is, I have no idea, but that seems to be the point of these new games. I haven't seen much of the new game, but hopefully it will be more similar to the older games in gameplay terms. We'll see though, I didn't think Tierkreis even sold well enough for them to try this again. I think I need to do some research and find out what Japanese Suikoden fans thought of Tierkreis.

This whole feeling is made even stronger if you consider how much love and energy Konami used to pour into Suikoden. With a side story series in Suikogaiden so that character development was pushed even farther, with a couple of mangas (still being) released, they gave it a lot of love. Most intriguingly of all, how many videogames do you know that have had their own magazine? Not even the “almighty” Final Fantasy deserved its own magazine, but Konami saw fit to give Suikoden one, and rightly so, if you ask me. Few other series have such deep characters and character development.

Wheels

Oh no doubt, despite not being mega-hits or anything, the series clearly was a great money maker for Konami. I've heard there are some pretty crazy collections of soundtracks out there. Anyway, perhaps this is just a case of management trying to make a series more popular than it is (and failing horribly)?

Konami really owes it to their fans, but also to theirselves and to the WORLD to return to the original Suikoden series and continue on from there. The story hasn't been completely finished yet. I could even do with just one last grand story in Suikoden 6 to end it all, but they need to finish it. If they would just listen to their fans they would know that we don't want Tierkreis and multiverse and whatnot, because that is not what Suikoden is about... It's fine to release those games, just don't give them the name Suikoden.


Wheels

Well we'll see how the Japanese market reacts to the new game. I'm hoping that fans in Japan are clamoring for a return to the original story as much as we are. If they want to continue with some kind of side series, fine, but there have to be some developers at Konami who'd love taking a crack at making a new entry in the main Suikoden series.

Anyways, I don't really have any questions regarding Suikoden, other than perhaps a question to all game developers to ask them why they can't make more games like Suikoden?

I feel inclined to answer to some of your “hot topics” instead.

Is it time for Tom Clancy to make an RPG?
No. The RPGs we love are all set in fantastical worlds, not our own world. And even if they are set in our own world, it's beset by daemons and whatnot so that doesn't count. If we want realism, we play different games. We don't call Ghost Recon an RPG, even though we assume the role of a secret agent. We don't call Super Mario Bros. an RPG, even though we assume the role of Mario. Really, the term RPG is a misnomer, because in essence every game (bar puzzlers) are Role Playing Games. So no... Playing a secret agent and having to decide if we get stronger, gain a higher initiative or get better at using our gun at regular intervals... Not what I am looking for.

Wheels

You have a fair point here. I suppose the issue here would be shoehorning in RPG features that don't really have a place in a series of games focusing on realism, and real world type stories. People who play Splinter Cell probably want to be incredibly powerful right from the start. Still, I can't help but want some kind of mix of Alpha Protocol and Splinter Cell.

What long dormant RPG series do you want to see make a return?
I have thought long and hard about this one and the more I thought about it, the more I had to come to the sad conclusion that most RPG series that already received sequels, never received true sequels. I am not going to go back to the Suikoden discussion, but there were so many stories that I would have loved to see a continuation for, but which received a sequel that was something completely different. I recently picked up Breath of Fire again, and it saddened me that the sequels weren't true sequels. Other great games were too large in scope... You can't very well save the entire world a couple of times...

So I was left with a game that I had already mentioned a sequel for a little while back, which is Azure Dreams. The world was just a town, so you could easily go for a different town with a similar tower, so... Azure Dreams would be nice. It's really the only game I can think of. Is that sad?

Or maybe Ultima. But only if they do it in the art style of Ultima 7.

Wheels

That's no sad at all, I think Japan takes the whole concept of series without direct sequels way too far sometimes. Finding out that Wild Arms 2 didn't finish what largely felt like an incomplete tale in the first game was a huge disappointment for me. It's really not that hard to continue a story and not alienate people just jumping in with that entry. Just look at Suikoden 2 and the first three Dragon Quest games for good examples of this.

Anyway, Ultima is a good choice as well. That was a hugely popular series back in the day, but it seemed to slowly fade away as gaming moved more and more to consoles. Why hasn't EA done anything with it? That just seems like awful brand management to me. Why not hand the series to BioWare and see what they can do with it? Such a waste...

Do you prefer physical releases or digital, and why?
Physical. Not only is there something about a case of your favourite game that holds something magical, it's also a convenience. Digital downloads are so easy to mess up, having to start all over. And what if you want to play your game at someone else's place? You can't, unless they bought it themselves, in which case you are also left with their game save instead of your own. No, digital releases are not for me.

Wheels

Couldn't agree with you more. Though downloaded games can be convenient, there's also always the worry the service you get them from will be unavailable sometime in the future, and you'll have no way to redownload your game. It's nice to have the option, but I'd prefer if companies keep offering us both physical and digital releases.

Well... That's about enough nonsense to throw your way, I suppose.

Question to you: What RPG series (dormant or not) would you like to see a continuation for and how would you want to see it continued (story or otherwise)?

Cheers,
Daniel B.

Wheels

Other than the obvious answer of Suikoden, I'd love to see a continuation of Resonance of Fate. I thought the futuristic world they presented was quite interesting, and I'd love to see it explored further, as many things went unexplained. It wouldn't need the original cast of characters necessarily. I think there's a lot of room for further expanding of both the world and gameplay of the first game. Sadly I don't think it sold well enough on either side of the pacific to make this happen.

Anyway, good to hear from you, please write in again!

7 times the content

Hey Wheels,

as promised on Twitter, between posting nonsense and my occasional rants against Apple (I should stop that, it seems to upset quite a lot of people), a letter. I haven't paid attention to the Q & A column for a while so I'm not sure if some of the hot topics have already been discussed but let's tackle some of them anyway :)

(Note from Wheels: just to make sure no one is offended by his rants against Apple, this letter was written prior to the passing of Mr. Jobs)

Wheels

People don't seem to write in about the hot topics too often so feel free! As far as Apple stuff, I'd be interested to see what you're complaints are about them, sounds like we could have a good discussion! Now then, onto the hot topics...

1. Is it time for Tom Clancy to make an RPG?

Yes, definitely! I haven't played Alpha Protocol but good friends of mine have, and although they acknowledged the game really lacked the polish to stand out, it did the espionage RPG-thing kind of right. It does at least touch upon a genre (is the espionage RPG a genre? I'm not sure...) that is not popular RPG material. Instead, we get flooded with fantasy/medieval themes games, of futuristic/cyberpunk themed games in the realm of RPG's. There are exceptions of course (Persona's high school theme and Pokemon come to mind for example), but I see huge potential in a collaboration of material which is based upon the stories of Tom Clancy, mixed with an RPG gamesystem. How that should look like, I have no idea.... I would love the game to focus more on strategy. Think Valkyria Chronicles, but maybe with a more open world with quests as missions, integrated within the story. Speaking of which, the story might be a bit troublesome... I cannot see how to keep an RPG game interesting with stories as those written by Tom Clancy.. What is your opinion on stories of Tom Clancy? Do they fit the genre of the RPG? And what challenges are there according to you with a Clancy RPG? (That sounds cool by the way, A 'Clancy RPG'.... :) )


Wheels

You bring up a good idea that I didn't think of when discussing this topic previously. A strategy RPG could fit Tom Clancy material perfectly (assuming it is more complex than Shadow Wars). Now as far as his stories go, I think a lot of times they tend to be typical military/espionage type stuff. For an RPG they would need to go with a story more akin to the Splinter Cell games, with plenty of strong characters to drive the story. I'm not sure it would work well, but I'd love to see them give it a try with a Valkyria Chronicles type game (minus the anime stylings of course). I think the series are too popular to move to a more niche genre however. I don't think anyone wants to play a level one Sam Fisher!

2. Why do you think Nintendo suddenly decided to add region protection to the 3DS when they hadn't done so for previous portables?

I'm not sure but I think there is one main reason for that, which is to maybe stabilize the price of the 3DS across regions in such a way that Nintendo has a more firm grip on pricing of the 3DS worldwide, although I don't know in what way that would benefit Nintendo.
Another reason could be that Nintendo might gain a better insight in what kind of software is popular across regions, since people are not able to import titles from everywhere anymore. Again, I can't think of huge benefits for Nintendo in this area.
I do know however, that I am really annoyed by this. I used to import every DS title, simply because I live in the Netherlands, and most interesting titles take a long time to be localized for the EU market, that is, IF they get localized. Also, a lot of interesting pre-order bonusses like Atlus, Nippon Ichi and Xseed often offer are a reason for me to import.


Wheels

Interesting points, but still, it seems like in a global age this kind of thing needs to stop being an issue. Like you, I import a fair number of titles, and the thought of missing out on a cool title because it doesn't come out in my region is very annoying. Whatever Nintendo's reasons (you make some good cases as to what those could be), I think we can both agree the ones who suffer because of it are the customers. Not only that, but it just gives hackers more motivation to try and break the system.

3. What long dormant RPG series do you want to see make a return?

Shining Force, in the style of the first two games in the series! If a revival takes place, I would love to have Camelot do it, since they are more or less responsible for the first two games in the series. Now, I know the Shining-series have been alive and kicking, but the interesting strategy element of the first two Force-games have never really been utilized in later Shining-games.
Then again, the problem of course is that it is nostalgia speaking here, and most of the times the wish for something like this is better than to actually have something like this happen.

Wheels

Here in Q&A you will find nothing but complete agreement with such thoughts. Now, it is highly unlikely that Camelot will ever work with Sega again, so this is mostly pie in the sky talk of course. Still, it would be nice if they made something in the Shining series that vaguely resembled the original games. The name of the series has pretty much lost all meaning. Not sure why Sega even bothers using it. The very least Sega could do is to re-release Shining Force III in a form more people can play. That might be just as good as a new game!

A shorter letter than I originally planned but it'll have to do for now :)
I'll try to send a letter more regularly from now on :)

Cheers,

7threst/Peter

Wheels

Please do! I'm always in need of questions :)

The Connection Gauntlet

Connection time!  Link Tengai Makyou III: Namida to Topper Takes a Trip!


Wheels

Tengai Makyou III was published by Hudson -> Konami owns Hudson -> Hudson produced the Silent Hill film -> The Silent Hill film was distributed by TriStar pictures -> TriStar is part of Columbia TriStar group owned by Sony -> Columbia and MGM collaborated on the latest James Bond film -> MGM owns United Artists -> United Artists distributed Topper Takes a Trip in theaters.

Connect Final Fantasy Mystic Quest to You and Me (1938)!

-JuMeSyn


Wheels

Oh Jumes, you should stop using Square Enix games for these. Too easy to link back to the movie industry!

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest published by then Squaresoft -> Squaresoft worked on the film Final Fantasy Spirits Within -> That film was distributed by Sony -> Sony and Paramount are co-financing the upcoming Tintin movie -> Paramount distributed You and Me in theaters
IN CLOSING

That's it for this episode!

See you all next week!

-Wheels


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