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ASK WHEELS
This Week, Giant Robots!
November 10th, 2010

11/10 - 12:00PM EST

  I think I'm running out of funny things to say in these little intro sections. Suggestions? Anyway, somehow I got convinced into buying Nier, and I've been playing a fair amount of that game lately. It is, to put it mildly, strange. One thing it doesn't seem to be, though, is bad. Why all the hate for it in the gaming press? Anyway, I've also been playing a lot of Oath in Felghana on PSP. It was a bit disorienting at first, having originally played it on my PC at a high resolution. However, being a brilliant game I got used to it quickly. Enough of that though, let's see what you guys and gals have for me this week....





The Letters
Time to Stop the Hate!

Dear Wheels,

I think you're doing a bang up job bro. Keep up the great work getting us some info on what is going on behind the scenes in the rpg gaming world. I've been following some of your recent discussions and I can't help but comment, particularly regarding Sqeenix and recent console rpgs in general. I grew up on FFVII just like a lot of gamers, and my most memorable gaming experiences have been console rpgs such as FF IV-X, Star Ocean 2, Shadow Hearts 1,2 and most recently Resonance of Fate and Nier. I wanted to pitch a couple of questions to you from my perspective...


Wheels

Thanks! Glad you're enjoying the column. Let's see what kind of questions you've got in store for me.....

1. I find it interesting that FFXIII has received such a mixture of feelings. It really is a love it or hate it game. Some people really liked it, while others like myself felt it was a total sell out of the genre. I can absolutely understand from a certain standpoint why it was a popular game (great graphics, fast battle system, colorful characters etc.) but somehow when I played it I still felt like some largely important element was missing. In fact, the game was such a dud to me that I got about half way in and realized I wasn't actually having any fun! It was too scripted, all the characters except the boomerang kid were totally static, the lack of towns and sidequesting along the way creating a very mechanical feel. While at some moments it was beautiful, I just wasn't feeling it. My main question regarding 13 is this: Do you think the problem was the story and the way it was told? I seem to recall that the previous installments of the FF series always focused on a particular protagonist, and while lightning was probably the main heroine of 13, the story was structured around all the characters equally, which felt very bland. Do you think that was part of the reason square enix lost followers from this game? Or is it something else?


Wheels

  I think it's something else. If you look back at one of the most popular games in the series, Final Fantasy VI, you'll see that there is not a single character who is the main focus for the entire story, and the game works out much better for it. Personally, I love the cast of FFXIII, and found they more than made up for issues with the overall narrative.

I think most people have a problem with the linearity, which is very strange to me. Final Fantasy games are known for being linear, and often instead focus on less-linear game mechanics. Though we just got a Final Fantasy that was wide open in XII, this is more an exception to the rule. Yes, Final Fantasy XIII for the first half plays out in a much more linear fashion, similar to Final Fantasy X, however I found that the first half of the game does a fantastic job of introducing you to the game mechanics, characters, and world mythos.

Final Fantasy XII puts a heavy focus on its strongest aspect, the battle system. In this it succeeds. It's not everyone's thing though, which is fine. Such is the Final Fantasy series.

2. My second question is this : Nier! Like, one of the best games I have ever played! It has such a wonderful and compelling atmosphere that it just welcomes you in! And yet I know only one other person who has played it. Did you play it? And if so, what did you think/ why was it not more successful?


Wheels

I have just begun to play it, because a large number of people kept talking about how amazing it is. So far, so good! The music and atmosphere are so fantastic, and I've really enjoyed the combat so far, especially the boss fights. I think the game even looks quite good, despite being often criticized for sub-par graphics.

I think Nier actually sold better than it was expected to, but I haven't seen any numbers to back it up. As far as the bad reviews it received in many places, I don't know. The optional quests seem mostly to be boring fetch quests, but they are completely optional. I don't get it. Adriaan den Ouden gave it a great score here on RPGamer, so it wasn't unappreciated by all.

I'm sure I'll be talking about it more as I get farther in. Spread the word though! That's the best way to get more people to play an under-appreciated  game.

3. Could you recommend any good games to play on a laptop during breaks at work? I don't have time to really get into a big mmo game, but i would love a simple and fun rpg style game to pass the down time/ breaks. Any suggestions?


Wheels

I'd say try something like Torchlight or Diablo II. Some relatively simple Action RPGs, that you can just delve a bit farther in on each lunch break. You can save whenever your break is over, or even just put your computer to sleep until you get out of work.  Plus there are multiple classes to play through with, giving you a lot of bang for your buck! Of course, you can always just play a more complicated RPG like Baldur's Gate or Dragon Age, since they let you save at any time (except usually while in battle).

4. No question here. Just wanted to say that I used to try the SaGa games and wow did I get my you know what handed to me haha. So hard! But fun.

Rock on Wheels

Joe 


Wheels

Good to hear! SaGa games can be pretty difficult, but keep with them!



A Blast From the Past

Deer Weels
 
Helo my name is BEAT and I’m almost seven!

I was over at my frind jimmys house and I wanted to play Mario.  He was all like no way man I have this game that’s WAY WAY better! And he showed me something called Final Fantasy.  He said you could save princesses and defeat a vampire and pirates and go into the sky and everything!  So I said awesome and he put it in.

9 Year Old Wheels

OH MAN, I totally heard about that, you can like be this cool Magic guy with some kind of straw hat. You can get a ninja or something too! Its got a ship that flies too! Its amazing. I totally watched my brother's friend play it, and it was like, WAY AWESOME.


Wels, I think jimmy was lying!  You couldn’t run, you couldn’t jump or anything!  All he could do was walk really slowly and then it would show him a picture of dogs and he’d pick “Attack” from these boxes.  It kind of looked like my dad’s old computer.  I asked him when do you go into the sky and he said he wouldn’t get there fore DAYS.  I had to be home by 7:30, so I didn’t get to see ANYTHING.


9 Year Old Wheels

Man that sucks, when I saw it, my bro's friend had like EVERYTHING, it was amazing. I wanted it, but my parents have already packed away the Nintendo so we can get this new Super Nintendo thing! It looks so cool! I got Final Fantasy for game boy though, and it's kind of cool, you can only make like humans, and mutants, and monsters, but monsters suck. You have to eat meat to level up! It's so strange! It's so great though! There's FOUR worlds, instead of one. Its tops!

I told jimmy that in Mario 3 (which I had brought from home!) that we could fight eachother for bonues and find whistles and do all sorts of cool stuff, but he was like man I’m almost to elfland!  I told him he was stupid and boring, and he said I just didn’t get it : (

Wheels why would jimmy play such a boring game?  Should I uninvite him to my birthday party (we’re gonna have a clown!!)

Thanks!

-BEAT (circa 1991)


9 Year Old Wheels

No way man, you just gotta get your own copy man, sounds like Jimmy never gave you a turn, and that is NOT cool. Mario 3 is so great though man. Like the raccoon suit, and the frog suit, and all the awesome levels. There's one where you're giant! Why did my parents have to lock up the NES!

You're a cool dude Beat!

-Wheels (circa 1991)


Tales of Sega RPGs

Hello Wheels,

Firstly I'd like to say, as I'm sure others have, that I'm very pleased the Q&A has been revived. It's a great part of this site. Now if we could get Currents back up and running, I'd be happy as a clam. Anywho, I'd like to start by mentioning that I've fairly recently come into the ownership of a nice gaming level PC that my friends helped me build. And as such I've been subject to giving into their nagging requests for nightly Civ V games. I'm not sure what your opinions are on that game, or even that series, but as a newcomer to PC gaming in general, let alone any one of PC gaming's current games, I have to say that game IS as addicting as people make it out to be.

Wheels

Thanks, as always, for for the compliments!

I am a Civ fanatic, though I haven't yet been able to pick up Civilization V (waiting on the Mac version). I even met Sid Meier at Comic Con a few years ago, and got him to sign my copy of Civilization 2 Gold for the Mac! So yeah, just a brilliant and addicting series. It manages to keep things if not simple, at least easy to access, and makes managing a large civilization pretty easy, and it's been like this in every single entry! Just the consistent excellence of the series, despite changing publishers over the years, is a testament to the creative minds behind the series. The series seems to be gaining in popularity, and this couldn't make me happier!

As for my actual question, and you'll forgive me if this was addressed previously in a previous issue I may not have read, but what do you think of Valkyria Chronicles once again coming to the PSP? As someone who really enjoyed the PS3 original game in the series (and as a serious Skies of Arcadia fan who ate all the SOA references in that game up with a spoon) I have to say I was disappointing when the sequel released on the portable system, and am now heartbroken that it appears to be a trend for this series. Some have said they think the game should stay on the console so that its unique presentation can really shine on the more powerful hardware, but I don't care so much about graphics. I DO care about having to play a game I wont take with me anywhere on a portable device with a small screen and less than optimal controls, when I could have been enjoying it in my comfy recliner on my LCD flatscreen...sigh.

Wheels

The sad fact is that it simply is not economically feasible for Sega, and most companies, to do SRPGs on consoles with a high degree of graphical detail. While these types of games have a solid following, that can be relied upon to some extent, it clearly wasn't enough for Sega, and doesn't appear to be enough even for Nintendo's popular Fire Emblem series. That series appears to be going the same route. It sucks, since Valkyria Chronicles just looks amazing on a nice HD TV. Personally, I'll take Valkyria Chronicles on something it will actually succeed on, rather than continued risky ventures.

I've never been one for portable gaming. And yes, I've recently come into PC gaming, but I don't see a reason to spend money on portable devices when I really don't have opportunities to game on the go. I don't commute long distances very much, and when I do, I'm the one driving. I'm out of school for a year now, and my job doesn't exactly lend itself to getting away with playing RPGs covertly... And playing them at home just seems unnecessary to me. Oh well.....*manly tear-drop*


Here's to many more Q&A's to come,

Mel
Wheels

Well, it's not like you only have to use them on the go, I usually play my DS/PSP while watching TV on the couch and such. Not to mention you can actually hook a PSP up to a TV (PSP 2000 and newer) and play games that way. If you're a fan of JRPGs, then you really need to get a DS or PSP, as given the popularity of these systems in Japan, that's really where all the best JRPGs are to be found. So I say, give in already!


Persona Question Swap

Hi Wheels,

OK a question for a question.

"If you had to choice for Atlus to release Persona 2 (both parts) on PSP or Persona 4 on PSP (Persona 3 Portable style), which would you choose?"

I think what I would really like to see is a complete remake of Persona 2, combining both games into one big game, using the P3P engine. I'm not sure if social links would fit into the older games, but the improved combat engine and map screen would work wonderfully. I think they could ditch the spell card collecting as well, and use the Persona creation system from P3P. I think they would have to keep the demon negotiation system as it is part of what made the older games so unique. Maybe you could just talk demon's into joining you, a la Strange Journey.

Otherwise, give me P4P all the way. As an aside, I was very disjointedness that there was no Persona goodness at TGS this year, though Catherine does look intriguing.

So to keep this train of thought going, my question for you is what would you like to see in Persona 5 (platform, changes to gameplay, etc.) ?

Keep up the good work :)

-Alan



Wheels

Alright, so obviously I waited way too damn long to get to this letter, as we already have an answer to the question! So, your idea for a massive Persona 2 PSP game, combining both parts of Persona 2 using the P3P engine would be really cool! More like a complete re-imagining than a remake even. However, Atlus chose the safer route, starting with a PSP version of Innocent Sin, which I imagine will be followed by a PSP version of Eternal Punishment. Great idea, though! I hope we'll also see a portable version of Persona 4 at some point.

Sorry for the late response, I promise I'll try and get the next question you send up before it gets answered for us!

IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Keep those letters coming in. What's everyone playing? What's everyone's early picks for RPG of the year? Let me know!

-Wheels

p.s. - If you're wondering why I keep answering Beat's letters, I think the hilarity speaks for itself!

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What I can't wait for:

1. Ys: I&II PSP

2. Tales of Graces F

3. SaGa 3 DS

4. Disgaea 4

5. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood


On my Playlist:

1. Hockey, go Whalers! ...what do you mean they don't exist anymore?!?!?

2. Final Fantasy XIII Soundtrack

3. Nier's disturbing soundtrack



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