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ASK WHEELS
This Week,  Let the tri-Ace Love Fest Begin
December 8th, 2010

12/08 - 12:00PM EST

  So as you can tell by the title of this week's column, I've really been having a lot of fun with Resonance of Fate. It's hard to even explain why this game is so great, as there are so many strange things about it. I am hopelessly addicted to it. So yeah, give it a try all! Any of you readers fans of this game? All right, enough of that, on to your questions!





The Letters
Stop...Mana Time! ....doh! I already used that joke

'ullo Wheels

Long time reader, first time writing in (aren't my lines tote's original?). I was told I need to practice my writing and critical thinking so I figured I'd sharpen my teeth on your Hot Topics. Hope you don't mind? And it's not because that I have no siblings to bounce video game discussions off since moving out. Believe no lies.

1. I, personally, would love to see a new Mana game. So perhaps I'm biased but I think Square should take another shot at reviving the series. However, the execution is key here. If they make it another standard RPG style Mana I don't think it'll do as well as they'll wish it to. I won't say it will do badly, because this is a Square and for all its flaws I did enjoy Dawn of Mana. But to create the blockbuster the series needs I think Square needs to go back to Legend of Mana. Allow me to wax fannish here, but Legend of Mana was the high point of the series to me. It was the style of the game that really did it. The bright colorful art with the toy box feel of building up the world as you played through it made the game feel fantastical instead of just another fantasy RPG. There was a sense of 'magic' to the process, and the nonlinear gameplay this resulted in was also excellent. Between me and my sister, we may have had the same overarching story but I saw scenes she didn't and she saw scenes that I didn't. Our worlds did not look alike, and the flow of our stories were different. It was absolutely fascinating to compare and contrast. It certainly made the player feel like they were having a real true impact on the story and world in a much more lighthearted way than the 'moral choice systems' that modern games employ. For these reasons I think that if square were to make a new Mana game they should follow in Legend of Mana's footsteps and create a similar kind of game, and hopefully taking full advantage of the capabilities of modern systems. If not a full console game, both the PSP and DS are capable of handling a game of Legend's design. Perhaps that would be a better path to take?


Wheels

Hey there, good to hear from you!

I agree the Mana series would be best served staying on handhelds. Not that an HD Mana game with graphics along the lines of Eternal Sonata wouldn't be awesome. It'd just be a very risky venture on Square-Enix's part based on the failure of the whole World of Mana thing. So yes, I don't think they should give up on it either, and I think a low budget non-linear type Mana game on portables or as a downloadable game is just what the series needs.

2. Final Fantasy IX was my favorite PlayStation era Final Fantasies so I would love to see a return to a more classic Final Fantasy. However I'm not sure that right now is such a good time as Four Heroes fills that niche quite nicely for the moment. A return to the roots would be good to see in the main series after people have had time to digest Versus and Agito, but certainly not before then.


Wheels

  I put up this hot topic and oddly never thought too much about it. Certainly Four Heroes fills that niche (quite nicely, see other hot topic). I didn't necessarily mean classic in terms of only gameplay though. FFIX paid homage to the games of the past in a lot of different ways, while still managing to do a lot of new things, such as providing a cinematic experience just like VII and VIII. So perhaps they do a game with a fast paced battle system, but a setting and other features similar to classic titles. Perhaps could do another job system? Four Heroes is a fantastic game, but it mostly just plays on the 8-bit classics, and not so much the more recent titles. Perhaps they can just do a 16-bit style Four Heroes 2?

3. If a Final Fantasy XIII-2 were made I would actually like to see some more class restriction. In Final Fantasy XIII I've found one to two paradigm set ups that work and I use pretty much the same strategy no matter what characters are available to me. I would love to see expanded skill trees for every paradigm and then a little more restriction on what paradigms a character can learn. That is, restricting the ability of one character to be an uber healer and in the next instant be a damage dealing monster. I think it would add more strategy and challenge to a game. Imagine a scene where your party gets split up and your healer(s) are in an area with relatively weak monsters but they're class isn't exactly great for fighting. The rest of the party is in an area of stronger monsters but without healers it's a whole new ball game. Eventually the two would meet up again, one hopes, but I would like to see a revival of the 'beat the game with all white mages' challenge. I'd also love to see a lead character that was a white mage/healer instead of a sword wielding powerhouse, but that's neither here or there.


Wheels

I'm all with you on expanded skill trees, but not sold on more restrictions yet. I liked the restricted sections of XIII, but they mostly served as a nice learning experience for when you have all the tools at your disposal. I mean Even having characters switching from healers to damage dealers, the game was still quite challenging, so I don't think that restricting like this is the best solution. A good idea for sure, but for me the better thing to do would be perhaps to divide the current roles into sub-roles, so that, maybe you have a healer, but they need to switch to some other role to heal status ailments, or multiple kinds of commando roles that do different kinds of damage. Now that I think of it, this is actually pretty close to your idea....

4. I agree that much of the criticism for Square is unwarranted. Their games aren't as absolutely mind blowing as they were to me ten years ago, but I attribute it to the fact that I've been playing for ten years now and am quite a bit harder to impress. My sister is ten years my junior and Final Fantasy XIII was her second Final Fantasy after IX. She was blown away by it, loves it, and ten years from now I can see her still singing its virtues the way many Final Fantasy VII fans do today. I believe the complaints about Square-Enix come from a small but vocal minority, and nothing more.


Wheels

I certainly hope it's a minority. Also, as I think I pointed out in a previous article, we're getting a lot more of their games when we used to, and obviously they aren't all going to be brilliant. I'm sure there were plenty of games we missed out on back in the day that aren't very good. I mean we can argue about Final Fantasy all day, but I think it's pretty clear that the Dragon Quest series is far better than it was in our youth.

5. I haven't caught this trend, then again I've been sticking around MP heavy games a bit recently (Megami Tensei games mostly, and a horribadfun game called Dragoneer's Aria). MP isn't something I miss when it's not there, can add a bit of strategy when it is, and I only seriously dislike it when it's abused as it was in Lunar: Dragon Song, where running costs MP. Actually Dragoneer's Aria also has this problem. Dear god this game is so idiotic and bad, I REALLY shouldn't be having as much fun with it as I am. Have you ever played it?

Much respect,
Fudorah Zubat


Wheels

This probably wasn't a great topic, as it really boils down to what works best for which game. Perhaps a better question would have been "what games would have been better with an MP system, and which would have been better without it"? I really like either as long as they are implemented well.

I have not played Dragoneer's Aria, though I almost bought it a few times. Sounds like it's a good thing?

Anyway, good to hear from you, feel free to write in again!



tri-Ace: Why I originally hated them

Hi Wheels!  Why do you hate Tales of Phantasia so much?  And why do you like the other tales games?  Have you no soul?

Thanks for your time!

-vorpaledge

Wheels

I hate Tales of Phantasia so much because it's an incredibly mediocre game. I just can not understand how it is the pinnacle of the series for some people. Combat is terrible, the story is pretty much a mixed bag of concepts from the biggest 16-bit hits, and the music is sub-par even by 16-bit standards. This is without even going into the terrible dungeon designs, such as the infamous mines. Maybe had I played it in the 16-bit days I would have been less harsh on it, but when the next game in the series is a vast improvement over it, despite involving TALKING SWORDS, you know something is not right. It's just not a very good game, and way too long even by Tales' standards.

This game combined with the god awful Star Ocean 3 is the reason I hated tri-Ace for the longest time. I just couldn't reconcile the fact that the creators of these things could make anything good. This is an awful way to go about things though, as most of the other games they created are good to great. So Tri-Ace, for all the hate I sent your way, I'm sorry.

Resonance of Fate 2 please?

 
P.S.  So there's been this interesting split between in-house Atlus RPGs lately.  There's the old-style first-person dungeon crawlers, currently represented by the Etrian Odyssey series and Strange Journey on the DS, and then there's the PS2 SMT games, which are pretty varied but seem to be coalescing around contemporary or historical settings of some sort with press turn and real-time elements.  Aside from the obvious hardware differences, where do you think the series is going to go in the future?  Where will Atlus focus its efforts?  Will the 3DS's upgraded hardware phase out first-person dungeon crawlers? Which elements do you think the next games are likely to use?  And how does Catherine fit into all this?


Wheels

A very interesting question. Let's start with the first-person dungeon crawlers and their move to the 3DS (Etrian Odyssey was on the list of franchises coming to 3DS, so unless something changes, or they vastly change the series away from first-person dungeon crawling, we should see one on the system). Naturally the first change should just be improving the look of the dungeons. Not that they're bad or anything, but they certainly could use a bit more variety and character, and an increased poly count can do a lot there. Now, on to the question of gameplay changes: They could with the extra hardware, make for a more realtime experience, perhaps similar to Eye of the Beholder, but I think that would be unlikely. This is based on the fact that other first-person dungeon crawlers in Japan have kept things turn based, so I think that's exactly what the market for those kinds of games is looking for. If anything, perhaps they'll make all monsters visible and avoidable, instead of just F.O.E.s?

I don't think there's really a "divide" on the in-house RPGs though. Etrian Odyssey they've been doing for awhile now, and that engine probably provided a good opportunity to revisit the roots of Shin Megami Tensei. Simply put, Atlus is pretty much great at making any kind of RPG, so I'm sure we'll see more great first-person dungeon crawlers, and more great Persona style games, and everything in-between.

As far as Catherine goes, I get the feeling they didn't want to jump right into one of their big franchises with the team's first HD game.

P.P.S. how can you like Tales of the Abyss I mean seriously


Wheels

I don't understand the question. Tales of the Abyss is a fantastic game, despite dragging a little in the later portions. Perhaps you're sick of anime type stuff? I don't watch anime, so I think I'm generally less bothered by the clichés. Not that Abyss is the biggest offender in that area.

P.P.P.S. when it takes a series longer than Final Fantasy to even consider cutscene skipping you know it's bad


Wheels

Well not really. Though you may hate them, remember that your average fan does not skip those kinds of things. It's a nice feature to have, but I don't think fans, especially Tales fans, really request it that much.

P.P.P.P.S. I'd rather play star ocean 3.  yes, Star Ocean 3


Wheels

I can't even respond to this. Are you joking? Please tell me you're joking!


Twitter Time

@AskWheels if you could give any JRPG franchise to any western dev which to who and why? and vice versa?

-FowlSorcerous

Wheels

Brilliant question!

I would love to see BioWare make a Final Fantasy game, so let's start with that. Final Fantasy XII is a fantastic game, which in many ways already felt like a Bioware game. I'd love to see them do a Final Fantasy game in that style, perhaps even doing one in Ivalice, with an open-ended political type story with Bioware's fantastic dialog systems. I think the resulting game would sell like gang busters.

As far as the other way around, I'd love to see Atlus do an Eye of the Beholder game, using their experience from the fantastic Etrian Odyssey games. There's already an Etrian style setup in the first Eye of the Beholder game, one big city sitting over one giant dungeon, though you never actually get to explore the town. I think Atlus could make a really fantastic first-person dungeon crawl from this long dormant Dungeons and Dragons series. Make it so Atlus/Wizards of the Coast!


Portable Pain


Like all red-blooded Canadians, I have, both, a passionate love of losing all my progress when I die in a video game (it was a tenant on which our country was founded) and handheld RPGs. What is the best way to reconcile these two concepts?

-Octoprime


Wheels

The answer to this question, is of course, to play a portable rogue-like game. You've get plenty of options, but the one that would be the most brutal as far as losing all your progression would be Shiren for the DS. Though the elements of progression are saved when you die (I think short cuts and some people that you save, and of course your warehouse of items), I think it fits your description perfectly. Also, despite being a portable RPG that let's you save anywhere, there's essentially no way to reset the game or anything should you die. There is a wifi rescue option, but not too many people use it, and there's only one save, so if you want to be rescued that way you're locked off from playing until someone saves you. There's also similar games in Izuna 1&2 and of course Z.H.P. However, these games are not quite as brutal when it comes to losing progression.

Let me know what you think of Shiren, if you pick it up!

IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! I'm trying to finish up the Golden Sun games so I can play the new one (yeah I hadn't played them, I'm an awful Camelot fan). Any of you readers enjoying that game? Also I recently found out that the name Rune Factory actually equates to something in the games (and is extremely useful information even!) so I've gone ahead and ordered the third game. Looks like fun! Anyway, back to Nier and Resonance of Fate for me. See you guys next time!

-Wheels

Current Backlog: Oh dear, needs food!

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What I can't wait for:

1. Ys: I&II PSP

2. Cthulhu Saves the World

3. SaGa 3 DS

4. Disgaea 4

5. Radiant Historia


On my Playlist:

1. Resonance of Fate Soundtrack

2. Calling all Dawns

3. Golden Sun soundtrack



Hot Topics:

1. Will Mass Effect 3 return some of the complex elements, or keep things simple like Mass Effect 2?

2. The Final Fantasy series is ever changing and evolving, but do you think it's time for another main series game like Final Fantasy IX, that pays homage to the past?

3. JRPGs currently are more creative than WRPGs. Discuss.

4. tri-Ace: What's next for them?

5. Does 4 Heroes of Light deserve a sequel (hint: the answer is yes)?


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