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ASK WHEELS
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November 9th, 2012

11/09- 12:00PM EST

Welcome! Something crazy and amazing happened this week. A new PSP game actually came out here in the West! It's even an RPG (Ragnarok Tactics)! I guess there was also some kind of election or something, and Halo. We can not forget Halo 4.

Now let's get this show on the road so I can get back to Ragnarok Tactics and Halo!





The Letters
Franchises Lost in Time

‏Dear Wheels,

Franchises fall 8y the wayside all the time. Sometimes it makes sense since they totally sucked, 8ut sometimes it can feel like a real tragedy. Is there any total nonstarter of a franchise you wish had gone further? For me the salient example is Jade Empire, it feels like it's just a sequel away from 8eing something really special. You?

-FBM


Wheels

Jade Empire is a great example. I was not a fan of the game but there was a lot of potential there that could be expanded in a sequel (so long as they don't do that strange shooter mini-game again). My personal first choice would have to be Crystal Bearers. I really liked a lot of the experimental things they did with that game, especially the eclectic soundtrack. With a bit more polish and a more focused approach I think they could find a way to create a great action sub-series of Final Fantasy. That's not even getting into the many interesting things they could do with a telekinetic powered hero with more development time put into the game. Of course this will never happen given that the first wasn't popular.

A more realistic, but also highly unlikely choice, would be Resonance of Fate. This is tri-Ace at its very best, with an inventive and deep battle system and light story that focuses mostly on a small cast of three well developed characters and keeps the melodrama to a minimum. This is a strong contrast to their previous effort, the unpopular Star Ocean 4. Of course given the first game wasn't exactly a blockbuster a direct-sequel seems unlikely. This doesn't mean that a spiritual successor with a similar battle system couldn't happen. Now that tri-Ace has finished their projects with Konami I think we're all interested to see what comes next from them. Don't crush my Resonance of Fate 2 dreams!

Ragnarok Hunter

‏@AskWheels Sweet Would you say the online is the right implementation for Vita for a game like this? #Q&A (referring to Ragnarok Odyssey)

-MHRelias



Wheels

Oh absolutely, Ragnarok Odyssey does of a wonderful job of implementing multiplayer on the Vita. Creating or searching for a room to join is simple and you can quickly give the room a name or lock it down with a password if you just want to play with friends. Naming a room after a mission number (2-8 for example) seemed to quickly get people to join and help me out with no extra communication required. Boss battles are important points to rare materials which means that finding help on bosses is easy because there's always people looking to grind for materials. There are simple communications options available as well if need be. The game doesn't support voice chat on its own but you can always use the party chat app with friends to accomplish the same thing. With shorter mission times than the likes of Monster Hunter I've found the game to be much more suited to online play. Of course I still prefer the monster hunter franchise, but Ragnarok Odyssey has proven itself to be far more than some simple Monster Hunter clone. I'm already hoping to see a sequel to this one!

The RPG Slump

‏Hola, me RPG playing compadre!  Wheels, I’ve been in an RPG slump lately, and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to unchain myself from the doldrums of mediocrity (at least until next weekend when Paper Mario Sticker Star is released), and I started to watch one of my favorite shows:  Adventure Time!  Now, I don’t know if you’re a fan or not.  I’m sure at least someone on the staff is though. Watching the show left me pondering something.


Wheels

I'm sure someone on staff is, I've only seen a few episodes myself. I did enjoy the ones I watched though! Isn't that new Adventure Time game for 3DS and DS somewhat of an RPG though? Regardless, I'm guessing that you're about to suggest something widely different.

What if there were a turn-based RPG with an art style that’s a mashup of Adventure Time art, only with the quality of, say, Ni no Kuni?  My word the whole of Ooo and all its inhabitants would be glorious, particularly the Candy Kingdom. Imagine the party combinations!  Finn and Jake natch, but you could have Princess Bubblegum as an alchemist or white mage type, Lumpy Space Princess as Saboteur (a la FF13) type, Marceline as a black mage type...oh my I’m getting lumps just thinking about it. If it kept the humor and zaniness of the show (as I’m hoping the upcoming 3DS game will), I would be happy beyond measure.


Wheels

Any cartoon would translate well to the cell shaded glory that is Ni No Kuni. I'm not that familiar with the specifics of the show and I'd still buy what you're describing. I think we need more zany RPGs that don't take themselves seriously. Now I really need to check out this show some more!

On another topic, why must Square Enix torture us with cameos of The World Ends With You characters in Kingdom Hearts, a remake of the game in iOS, and a new TWEWY game with a heavy social focus (I think.  I don’t know much about the latest incarnation),and not give us a proper sequel?  My heart...it aches.


Wheels

Yeah I'm not so sure about the new game. I'm hoping that it isn't a sign of what they'll do with the series in the future. It could just be a side project. I really enjoy TWEWY on iOS so I can't complain about that too much. I actually don't mind if a proper sequel ends up there, but this new game they're apparently working on doesn't sound like a proper sequel at all. All we can do is hope and wait I guess!

Ah well at least I have Paper Mario and Persona 4: Golden (Solid Gold Edition!) to look forward to, and reading your awesome column, of course!  Till next time my friend, keep calm, and carry potions!
 
Valim 


Wheels

Why thank you! I'm glad you enjoy it. I'm sure you'll find that your RPG lull evaporates as soon as firing up Paper Mario. No doubt both of us will be putting in a ton of hours into Persona 4: Golden as well (I pre-ordered the Solid Gold Edition as well). Please write in next week and let me know your thoughts about Paper Mario!

Part Deux

Hey Wheels,
How are you?  Hurricane Sandy was quite the BACON, but we were lucky - no power BUT we had hot water and gas.  That's absolutely nothing compared to people living near the Jersey Shore.  The before and after pictures were shocking, to say the least.  Regarding the subject line of this email, I say "Part Two" because I wrote to you once a LONG time ago.  Been ages. 

Might as well go through your sidebar questions.  Here goes:


Wheels

I'm doing good! Sorry to hear you lost power but with hot water intact I'm sure it's not so bad. You should write in more often! I'm glad you've still been reading though. I hope you've been enjoying the column even if you haven't been compelled to write in!

1) What is the best Final Fantasy spin-off?

I'm gonna have to go with Final Fantasy Tactics myself.  Especially the PSP version, with its better script (yeah, I know opinions are opinions but the original localization sounds completely amateurish, and the PSP version also fits in with the rest of the "Ivalice Alliance"), cool animated scenes, added classes, and so forth.  I thought it was a shame that some of the new gameplay concepts that were included in the online modes weren't included for the main game, but otherwise not bad.  Shame on Square-Enix for not caring about the slowdown and sound issues, though.  I wish I could say that the whole "Ivalice Alliance" is a great spin-off, but I really only like a couple of games from it (namely, this one and Vagrant Story).  I found the rest to be disappointing.  Final Fantasy XII could have been so much better, but I don't particularly care for games with gigantic worlds and small stories (as an aside, I can't get into Xenoblade Chronicles and am considering selling it; it hate its style and prefer Takahashi's other works).  Same goes for FF Tactics Advance, A2, and Revenant Wings.


Wheels

Yeah, Final Fantasy Tactics is quite hard to argue against, especially when you take into account the updated script from the PSP/iOS version. I agree on those slowdown issues as well but considering how amazing the game is even with those problems it just goes to show how good it is.

I really liked the other Ivalice games! The Tactics Advance games are some of my favorites. Not on the quality of Tactics of course. Vagrant Story is a game that could really use a nice graphical upgrade. Not enough people have played it!

2) Did Sega blow it in not taking a risk and trying Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3 again?

Hard to say, I think.  On the one hand, it's an excellent SRPG that pushed the genre forward in an amazing way both story-wise and gameplay-wise, with a stellar soundtrack (Sakimoto can't do anything subpar, really) and beautiful graphics.  On the other hand...nobody cared.  Which is nothing surprising, really; Sony was completely insane with their PS3 launch, and it's a JRPG to boot.  Handheld systems are so popular in Japan that maybe they could've just put this on the PSP to start with, having the whole trilogy on one system.  I dunno how much of a difference that would've made in overseas sales, but I doubt it could've been worse overseas on a PSP than on a PS3. 



Wheels

Yeah, were it on the PSP from the start I wouldn't be surprised if it did much better. If only it had come out after the release of the Vita they could have done a Vita/PS3 dual release. I think they did drop the ball on promoting it in the West. It seemed to spread in popularity just by word of mouth but by then it was already selling at a budget price. You make a good point though, I didn't really take the insane early PS3 price into account. Can't blame Sega for there not being a ton of PS3 owners! Oh well, we can still hope the series returns to the PS3 and to the West and finally finds some form of success.  I just think the PSP isn't powerful enough to render the type of battlefields the series needs!

3) What is the best Dragon Quest?

I'm gonna go with Dragon Quest VIII, for the simple reason that it's the only one I've played.  I got rid of my DS so I can't play any of those, and I don't think I really want to play any of the NES games.  I thought it was an excellent game (I had about 80 hours after all was said and done, and that's without the Dragovian Trials); my only gripes are random battles (I can barely do them anymore) and an old turn-based system (I'm more into action nowadays or a turn-based system that is more involving).  It helped cement the realization in my mind that Level 5 is an excellent developer (I loved Jeanne D'Arc, want to play more of Rogue Galaxy, and have pre-ordered the Wizard Edition of Ni No Kuni).  I am, however, disappointed that the tenth game is an MMO.  I loathe MMOs (as well as offline MMOs like FF XII and Xenoblade Chronicles with a passion.  I'm one of those gamers who enjoys linearity with quality non-linearity (as opposed to most modern RPGs, with their 400 meaningless side quests).


Wheels

Yeah I really am not a fan of MMOs, and will probably try the dang thing anyway just because it is a Dragon Quest game. There is a positive way to think about it. Remember that good MMOs provide a constant stream of funds which I'm sure helps in the development of other games! Dragon Quest VIII is a good pick not only for the stellar engine that Level 5 crafted, but also for the wonderful gameplay and fantastic story. The popular choice would be Dragon Quest V with VIII likely a close second. As for the NES games they are pretty tough to play these days but if you do get a DS again at some point the update to IV is a must play. I haven't played much of Jeanne D'Arc yet by the way, would love to hear your thoughts on it!

4) Will Gust's game output be hurt by the purchase by Tecmo-Koei?

No idea.  Don't know much about either company.


Wheels

Well you should give the Atelier series a try some time! There's plenty of fans here on the site. Then again if you're really sick of turn based combat they may not be your thing.

5) What PS2 RPG series other than Final Fantasy would you like to see an HD collection of?

Great question!  Hmm...if I had to choose one I'd pick the first two Yakuza games.  Oh wait, that IS coming out...but only for Japan (for now).  I hope we get that stateside.  Due to financial issues I had to sell Yakuza 3 and Yakuza 4 but they were quality games, and I'm sure the first two are as well.  I wish I could be excited for the upcoming fifth game (which looks quite robust) but I'm turned off by Saejima's hunting game (I'm a vegetarian so I'm anti-hunting; if it was completely optional that's one thing but I'm sure it's mandatory).  I'll read a summary of the story or something.  But yeah - I'd love it if we got the HD collection of the first two games here.  And Kenzan! as well as the PSP games, but that ain't happening.



Wheels

I'd be quite surprised if we don't get the Yakuza HD Collection. We've gotten all the major games and besides they're already translated. Since it sounds like you'll have to skip Yakuza 5 I really hope this collection makes it out over here so you have something to tide you over until Yakuza 6.

...

What games are you anticipating for next year?  I have four:  Ni No Kuni, Tales of Xillia, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.  I'm also hoping that we get Xillia 2, which sounds pretty neat (and I don't mind recycling of areas as long as there's a new storyline - after all, the Yakuza games recycle the same city many times but they're fine games).

Krishna


Wheels

I'm most anticipating Etrian Odyssey IV and still hoping that Atlus will anounce localizations of Eternal Sin PSP and Soul Hackers 3DS some time next year. I'm also excited for Ni No Kuni and Tales of Xillia. Could be another great year for RPGs! Here's hoping they all turn out well. I'll keep an eye on those Metal Gear Solid games as well.

Thanks for the letter, hope to hear from you again soon!
IN CLOSING

See you all next week!

-Wheels


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What I can't wait for:

1. Persona 4 Vita

2. Etrian Odyssey IV

3. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

4. Atelier Totori Vita

5. Paper Mario 3D

On my Playlist:

1. The Network

2. Rusted Root

3. Less Than Jake


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3. What is the best Tales game?

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