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ASK WHEELS
Chrono Crossed
December 2nd, 2011

11/23- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another edition of Q&A! I've been busy playing a number of games of late, such as War in the North, Skyward Sword, and of course as the title would suggest Chrono Cross. I really enjoy Chrono Cross, and this time around I'm trying to use as many weird characters as possible. Enough about me though, let's see what you readers have sent in!





The Letters
Super Zelda RPG
Good day to you sir.

I was a bit surprised- no, I was shocked, when you, a respected online journalist, listed Zelda as an RPG. You, of all people, should be quite aware that Zelda is not, not NOT an RPG, Wheels!


Wheels

Wait, what prompted this? Including Skyward Sword in my list of RPGs I was going to play over the holidays? Also respected online journalist? I much appreciate that comment!

And no, I won't be swayed by all that "all games are RPGs" nonsense. The answer, good sir, lies in the ROOTS of the games. Yes, that is what it all comes down to- the roots. True RPGs, from their first gasps of life, shared the common heritage of the pen-and-paper RPG. Levelling, random encounters, the roll-of-the-dice nature of attack effectiveness... that all stems from that shared, long-standing heritage. Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, all the way up to our modern Lost Odyssies and such, are part of that long, storied heritage.


Wheels

Well except that they aren't all part of that long storied heritage. You're forgetting the Action-RPG genre, many of which were very much inspired by Zelda, and yet somehow are RPGs over Zelda just because standard leveling mechanics? You're comparing it to the wrong heritage of RPGs. Look back at classics like Secret of Mana, Ys, Xanadu and others, and the issues of Zelda being an RPG or not becomes much more muddled. I'm actually really disappointed that you completely ignored such games in this argument. No one is going to claim Zelda fits in to the realm of traditional RPGs, which is the heritage you're talking about.

Zelda, on the other hand, follows a decidedly different heritage- that is, the roots of the Adventure game. While many games in the genre still have a medieval setting, the mechanics, goals and heritage is so different!


Wheels

Except you're missing the big picture, looking only at what may have influenced the ORIGINAL Zelda, not what may have influenced more modern entries, or how the Zelda series has influenced RPGs.

In a nutshell, to understand Zelda's heritage, one must ignore for a moment pen-and-paper RPGs and travel back to the 1970s, to the Atari 2600 and to the most direct ancestor- that is, a game titled simply "Adventure". The hallmarks we see in Zelda are all there- the nonlinear, mazelike screen-to-screen world, the player who, unarmed, quickly finds a sword to strike at the enemies, the progression-by-item collection, the lack of stat based levelling... it's all there, and all expanded on and modernized with every iteration of Zelda.


Wheels

Yes, that's great, it is all modernized and expanded...in the original Zelda. Have you played Skyward Sword? It is much more RPG-ish than previous entries. Also many games, for example, Crystal Chronicles, feature a similar lack of typical RPG features and yet no one has any issue with them being RPGs, which s strange. I mean are you seriously going to tell me that 3D Dot Game Heroes is an RPG over Zelda simply because it features leveling?

That, my good friend, is why I take exception to Zelda being called an RPG. It is an adventure series, a grand adventure series. Adventure games form a genre that, in its own right, have cemented themselves firmly into history, separate from the RPG genre. RPGs have their Dragon Warriors, their Final Fantasies. Please, good sir, let the Adventure genre have its own hallmark- let it have its Zelda.

-Shademask


Wheels

Well the first problem with all of this, is the genre you're talking about is Action Adventure. Zelda is no King's Quest sir. Secondly, why on earth would you take offense? Its not like I called Uncharted an RPG. Heck I could start calling Modern Warfare 3 an RPG since it has experience and leveling which I think you'd like less. I'll reiterate my opinion on the matter again to end this madness: Whether or not Zelda is an RPG is irrelevant, because the series influences and is influenced by RPGs.

Giving Thanks to Kawazu

Dear Wheels,

I was wondering about terms like "JRPG" and the like.  How much are we limiting the industry by putting out the expectation that American games are like this and Japanese games are like that?  Does this set expectations that game creators feed into, inspired by projection of profits?  Are there games that aren't getting made because a company in either location thinks that it is improper for them to make a game that might suit a different setting?  Of course, historically, we've seen games like Final Fantasy VIII which are designed with a western setting in mind (although the plot gets, excuse my French, "J-RPG-y" towards the end), but what about the current generation of RPGs.  Is there really still a divide between east and west, or is this term fading away, only to be used in a historical context?


Wheels

I don't think we limit the industry that much, since its not a term actual companies tend to use, but it certainly has become almost a pointless term when talking about games. It doesn't even mean the same thing to everyone. Some people apply JRPG only to traditional RPGs in the vein of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. Some use the literal meaning, as in RPG developed in Japan. I don't think the term is useful in either regard anymore. Does it matter what region a game was developed in? Is calling a game a JRPG because it is similar to Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy useful when the game isn't Japanese? Though there are still certain trends that stick to one region or another, such terms are not all that useful, and its not even clear at times what should deserve such a label. Would Etrian Odyssey be a JRPG because it was developed in Japan, or a WRPG because it takes from a genre of RPG originally from the west? These terms really need to be retired. Let's en-devour to call RPGs just RPGs, trying to continue to use outdated terms doesn't help anyone. I wouldn't even use it in a historical context. If people want a term that describes games that evolved from Dragon Quest and the like, they should come up with a better term. I know I use it, but I will now give myself the goal to stop that.

Also, what American RPGs are there even anymore?  I have no idea.

<3


Wheels

Well that's a fine question. We've got both Bethesda and Obsidian residing here in the US. Of course there's many find indie RPG makers such as Zeboyd, but those are the only big RPG makes located in the US that I can think of. We need more! Oh wait, I forgot about Snowblind.

Chrono Triggerlation

DEAR WHEELS


I have a copy of Chrono Trigger for DS sitting here that I haven't played. Actually, I own a lot of games that I haven't actually played.... but that's not the point.


Wheels

Of course that's the point! My word my good sir, that is the finest version of Chrono Trigger available and you owe it to yourself to go play it right now. Granted the new dungeons in the game are kind of lame, but everything else about it is awesome. GO GO GO

I was wondering; what do you think of the new translations of old games that have been trickling out in the last decade? Are you glad to have your old favorites rendered salient, or do you prefer your Woolseyisms? I'm sort of torn between my fond nostalgic feelings and my desire to read compound sentences.


Wheels

I love the new translations. I'm sure many know of the trials and tribulations of early translations, so I think even Woolsey himself would be fine with a little reworking, and all the games I can think of turned out the better for it. I enjoyed the old quirks but I much prefer a nice solid translation, and I'm sure people playing such games for the first time do as well. As long as a new translation isn't missing the point ( going for direct translation instead of localization) I think it's fine.

Further, are there any games you'd like to see receive a do-over translation?


QUESTIONS ASKED.

-Kayma


Wheels

There are several, and a few series I'd like completely re-translated as well. I'd love to see all the SaGa games re-translated for example, as many of those games are very rough around the edges. I'd love to see Suikoden II cleaned up a bit. Speaking of games I'm playing now, Chrono Cross can use some work, as some of the characters have strange accents that don't really work. Those would be the big ones. There's always Arc Rise Fantastia, which I think is a fine game cursed by a cheap localization. Honestly though, there's plenty of games that haven't gotten a first localization, so maybe we should talk about those next time!

QUESTIONS ANSWERED


Lightning Round

Hey Wheels,
 
I can't remember if I've written into you before or not.  I wrote in more back in the Wonderslime days.
 
Anyhoo, my wife and I went Christmas shopping today and got me a 3DS and her an IPod Touch, which she has graciously told me that she will allow me to put some downloaded games on.  So, I was wondering, considering that the 3DS and IPod are the first times that I have had access to the Nintendo E-Shop and iOS App Store, respectively, what are the best RPG's available from either store?  Please also ask other staff members and column readers to chime in with their suggestions as well.
 
Thanks,
Draconn


Wheels

I can't recall either, but regardless I'm glad to have you right in!

I'm happy to provide some answers here, and as readers/staff provide their own suggestions I'll post those in future articles. So readers/staff, please write me in with your favorite downloadable games for E-Shop/App Store.

We'll start with the E-Shop, which doesn't really have a whole lot of RPGs. I'm going to include some "RPG-ish" entries, and other good games just to flesh things out. I'd start with Gargoyle's Quest, which is a spin-off from the Ghouls and Ghosts series. It plays out like an RPG, with random battles and dungeons playing out more like an action games. There's always Metroid 2, which is a classic. Shantae is an absolute must, a great 2D Metroid-ish game from WayForward. Cave Story is great as well, but the actual 3DS version may be preferable. There's the iPhone to DSiWare port of Zenonia, which is pretty good. Finally, there's From the Abyss broken up into a few parts. Its not great, but very cheap and somewhat fun.

On the App Store front there isn't much new  I can recommend, as I've mostly been downloading ports of older games. First and foremost I'd have to recommend the two Infinity Blade games, which are an absolute blast. Dragon Fantasy is a great take on classic JRPGs. Wizardry is also available, which is the same game and translation XSEED brought to us on PS3. There's three Zenonia games which are fun little Action RPGs. Finally, I'd give 100 Rogues a try, which is a fun and simple Roguelike (as the name would imply). Hopefully the readers/staff will provide even more suggestions!

Where the hell are all the RPGs? Did they die with the PS2 or simplify themselves out of existence with the succeeding portable generation, or did the market just dry up?

-TKFlash


Wheels

I don't think the market dried up at all. Bioware has shown there clearly is a market for good RPGs out there, and even Final Fantasy XIII did very well despite heaps of criticism. I think the problem is that most of the RPGs in the PS2 era came from Japan, and that market is now buying such games for portables. There a slew of great portable RPGs this generation, maybe not as many as the PS2 library, but still a ton. Its a shame really, as most good RPGs that are well marked seem to do quite well. We certainly have plenty to cover on RPGamer. So to give you a simple answer, the RPGs are still there, just not on the type of platform they used to be. If there is a lack, I blame everyone that didn't buy Valkyria Chronicles upon its release (which includes me).

DEAR WHEELS, I CHANGED MY MIND, THOSE PANTS DO MAKE YOU LOOK
FAT

-BongoBill


Wheels

HOW COULD YOU BILL, HOW COULD YOU!

Dear Wheels,
Is Toohoo an rpg y/y?
-Heron


Wheels

What in the blue heck is Toohoo? A google search somehow ended me up at Too Human's wikipedia page, so I'm going to go ahead and say YES.

DEAR WHEELS, YOU CAN NEVER END ME. NOW WE ARE BFF FOREVER. DOES NEW ZELDA SUCK OR ROCK? IS IT RPG?


Wheels

The new Zelda is quite fantastic. So much so, that if it continues the way its going, I may start using phrases like "best in the series". The music is fantastic, the story is good, and the sword mechanics using Wii motion plus are a blast. Motion control isn't perfect but the issues are relatively minor. This is a must play. I'm ignoring your second question.

THE JOKE IS IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW YOU ANSWER, EITHER WAY YOU GET HATEMAIL! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

LOVE,
BEAT


Wheels

Even if I don't answer it? I think I will not get hate mail if I refuse to answer it. Unless it happens to be from you. I suppose that is quite possible. WE SHALL SEE BEAT, WE SHALL SEE.
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Oh no I forgot Gaijin's letter! This is not good, I think I'm going to have to send him a letter as penance.

See you next week!

-Wheels


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