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December 15th, 2011

12/15- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another edition of Q&A! With issues with War in the North preventing me from continuing, I've moved on to playing Dark Souls, and am having a blast with that. Keep an eye on twitter, as I'm posting all my spectacular deaths via #DarkSoulsDeaths.

Let's see what you all have for me this week...

The Letters
Phat Lewt

Hey Wheels,

Sorry I haven't written in for quite some time. The premise of winning phat lewt has spurred me on to do so... I feel kind of bad but oh well. I will probably be forgiven, no?


Of course you'll be forgiven! I know people are busy and don't always have time to write me, so the contests are a reward for you guys (and gals) who provided such great content. Do not feel bad!

So, first off, I am going to give your top 5 Zelda games a pop. I am guessing only official releases, so the CD-i games are not in there, right? >_<
Let's see.


I mean you're welcome to guess those games, but I think you know those aren't in my top five! Anyway, that is a fine guess but incorrect! I'm going to omit the lists people send in, because that would make things too easy!

And I have a question for you! And this is a question of which the answer will inspire me in my designs for Chronicles, which has finally made a good sprint towards getting finished.
What are your top 10 favourite "classes" of any RPG? Every RPG, be they Action, traditional, tabletop, MMO or any other may be included, and even wacky or gameworld unique "classes" such as Magitek Knight are acceptable. And if you would be so kind as to give me reasons why you like them, I have something to read next week during work! :D



My word, that is a fantastic question, which I will of course provide you with an answer to. Here's the list, in reverse order:

1. Time Mages - I'm a huge fan of supportive classes with abilities that aren't necessarily damage dealing, and this is one of the best. Though the class often shows up with damage dealing spells, the classic haste/slow spells are its bread and butter.

2. Saboteur -  Kind of a grab bag of ideas, this Final Fantasy XIII class is just a grab bag of debuffs, which I think is pretty cool.

3. Summoner - There's nothing like summoning giant monsters to do the heavy lifting for you

4. Monks - Classic class focusing on fist-based combat and skills and often healing. They provide a much more robust "cleric" type class that is often easier to equip thanks to not using any weapons.

5. Ninja - Though I often don't care for their secondary skills, high mobility combined with dual-wielding makes them a powerful force.

6. Orator - Why fight when you can talk your way out of battles?

7. Geomancer - I like this class in tactics games because it makes the makeup of the battlefield very important.

8. Black Mage - Classic damage dealing powerhouse

9. Archers - I never cared much for this class until Tactics Ogre (the remake), where they are incredibly powerful ranged attackers.

10. Mounted Knights - Mainly thinking of the Shining Force centaurs and the mounted knights in Fire Emblem. With long movement range and powerful attacks, they are often the most important troops in your force.

Hope the list is helpful!

Emperor of Content

Mr. Wheeler and Dealer, is it time for me to supply you with more content? Sure looks that way! Last time, I managed to get you started on the Star Wars series. Considering Knights of the Old Republic will undoubtedly stir fanboy urges within me, I'm going to indulge them a bit and rant on the movies for a bit. Just bear with me. Be glad I'm keeping these condensed, I could easily fill up a letter bigger than anything I've ever given you before with talk on this subject.


Oh boy, this is going to be good...

The Phantom Menace I remember clearly seeing on opening day back in 1999 with a good friend who I haven't seen in 11 years. At the time I convinced myself it was awesome, and I remember putting that gospel out to others. Watching it more recently (and I did see it many times in the theater) I can't avoid thinking how dull it is. The Midichlorians were a stupid idea from square one, but honestly having most of the movie be slow-moving was not a good idea for George Lucas. There are good elements to it, most notably the lightsaber duel at the end, but Darth Maul is really a blank slate. Nowadays I watch it with the Rifftrax for good reason.


I think we all got sucked in back then just because it was a new Star Wars movie. I mean the very idea of anything new in the series just seemed an impossible dream. Sadly, as many re-watched, we all realized it just wasn't very good. I don't know if I can even blame the actors for some sub-par performances, it seems like the script just stunk. I think Lucas needed to hand off writing/directing, or at least the directing like he'd done in the past.

Attack of the Clones has bad points, I can't deny. The love affair between Anakin and Padme has become legendary for its bad writing. Even when I caught it on the opening night midnight screening back in 2002 however (yeah, I was really into the movies, can you tell?) I found things I really liked. The opening chase through Coruscant's streets is great stuff to me, because no matter how bad a director of actors George Lucas is, he can direct comprehensible action sequences that are thrilling. Obi-Wan's storyline is full of good stuff, and the duel between him and Jango is very good. Having Christopher Lee as count Dooku was a masterstroke, and while you have to read into the extended universe to know more about his motivations, he's already a more interesting villain than Maul was. I can't exactly argue that it does everything well, but the movie works superbly for me, and the many action sequences it contains have become embedded within my memory -in a good way.


Yes, Attack of the Clones was a far better film. Though it had some issues with what should have been the most well developed part of the story (Anakin), the action scenes were great, and there were a lot more of them. It still can't touch the original films, but that's OK. Even the Yoda fight at the end, which seemed to clearly be a bit of fan service, was a lot of fun.

Revenge of the Sith could have been better. I read the novelization, which expanded Dooku's motivations at the beginning and gave him more reason to be in the movie than to be quickly killed. Anakin's need to become a Jedi Master was made clearer, because it was made clear that only Masters can access the Jedi archives in which he hoped to find a cure for the death he foresaw Padme suffering. It was also clearer that he was on extremely low stamina, going days without sleep after that scene in which he and Padme shared a bed, plus a lot of the dialogue was better-written (notably him offering Obi-Wan a chance to escape based on all they had shared together when they're about to initiate the Mustafar, instead of yammering about his new Empire, though there were many other incidents like it that the book wrote better). Still, the movie does a lot really well. I remember seeing it with a group on opening day (noticing a theme here?) and everyone coming out of the theater very subdued. Then I saw it with another group, same result. Honestly, for me both the two later prequels are a lot of fun. Lucas should have given directorial duties to someone else for both, but their themes and characters come out strong even so. You want a Star Wars movie that REALLY deserves being dumped on? Clone Wars is what you want. I hoped it would be okay, and it was a lot worse than that. I'd also say the Star Wars Holiday Special, but that can't be legally purchased due to Lucas refusing to acknowledge it exists. Go see it on the internet if you want to see something really atrocious. I understand there were a couple of Ewok movies in the 80s also - never saw them so I can't comment.


I did enjoy Revenge of the Sith a lot, despite a bit of silliness near the end. Your talk of the book makes me wish perhaps the movie was a bit longer to expand on some things. Anakin's fall isn't well enough developed in my opinion, but it wasn't horrible. I think this is the thing with very popular sequels to things, fans tend to overreact if they aren't as good as the originals. The prequels do not approach the quality of the originals for sure, but neither are they offense to cinema that they are often made out to be (well, not the second two anyway). They're some decent movies. Even so, I think Lucas should hand the series off to others with fresh ideas. Which Star Wars film is your favorite? (I'd go with Empire)

Here's a relative softball connection challenge: link Tag: The Assassination Game to Sailor Moon: Another Story.


Softball you say? I'm finding this one a bit tough, so I'll have to delay it a week for extra research.

Okay, now for stuff that's actually RPG-related! Playing the original Final Fantasy Tactics has reacquainted me with something I never liked anywhere - the isometric perspective. Can't trust the way it looks from that angle, gotta make sure you're actually as close as it appears! It's particularly anger inducing whenever a bridge or arch is over the ground. Remember those stretches, where the cursor stubbornly refuses to align on the higher location you want? Aren't those fun?


They are not fun, but I think the worst offender is Phantom Brave. You can stack items and such on top of one another, which makes targeting infuriatingly difficult. The Tactics Ogre  remake clearly realizes the issue, as it allows you to flatten the whole battle screen down to a 2D view to make targeting much easier. I'm not sure why it took that long to get such camera control, but it is a great touch. Still I don't think it is that bad, given that Final Fantasy Tactics is still an amazing game. We can probably blame the isometric perspective on the inception of 3D (no not THAT 3D) in gaming, so that the classic 2D style of tactics games was no longer welcome.

People wax rhapsodic about this game's plot. I can certainly respect it for being far more like a work of literature than most RPGs ever attempt, but that just makes me appreciate literature all the more. See, in a book I can go back and refresh my memory about a player I didn't necessarily pay attention to in his first appearance, while in a game I can't. Keeping track of the motivations of multiple antagonists who all have justifiable inspiration other than "I'm bad" to attempt political overthrow is not something I enjoy overmuch in a game, because it gets in the way of actually playing the game. Does it really matter that, say, Balk (the guy who starts your team off poisoned) is trying to protect his nation from attack by any means necessary when kicking his ass is just as much my goal as if he were a psychotic chainsaw murderer who somehow convinced people to follow in his bloody footsteps? I'm really not sure. Orlandu is great and I feel no shame whatsoever in letting him smash as much opposition as he can. The game was pretty nasty in a lot of parts, now it's manageable.


Didn't the game have some kind of feature where you could look back at events in the story? I can't remember. Anyway, I'd have to see I do like complex stories in games even if it isn't strictly necessary on a gameplay level. I think your concerns would be alleviated if more games kept some kind of journal of story events.

Change of subject: how lousy is Nintendo's marketing department if Fossil Fighters: Champions hasn't attracted lots of attention from all the Pokemon addicts of our site? C'mon, you're reviving dinosaurs to fight with each other - how hard a sell is that? Seemingly pretty hard.


Pretty awful, no idea how they haven't been able to turn that into a big release.

The idea was recently floated of having someone retroview Unlimited Saga. I guarantee I won't be the one to do it, and even gaijin didn't finish the game (admittedly he was playing it in Japanese with less fluency than he's attained, so that's understandable). How's the idea strike you?


As long as I only need to finish one character's story I'm all for it. As much as I find the game enjoyable at times, playing through all the characters is a bit much, and not really necessary.

 I never played a thing on the N64. I've been able to live easily with that. Will you tell me different?


No, but only because pretty much everything of worth has been ported elsewhere. If you are really interested in the console's library, you're better off getting a Wii and downloading games there, since you'll be able to use a better controller. Don't get me wrong, the system had great games, but the controller wasn't great, so the Wii is far more preferable to play them on.

Funny story about Terranigma. A good ten years ago I got it into my head that importing it from a PAL region, thus with English language instead of Japanese, would be easy. It was - of a sort. See, not only is the PAL Terranigma an expensive thing to obtain (that was ten years ago - it seems to have only appreciated since) but stupid me I never learned that PAL electric currents have this infuriating way of not being compatible with NTSC equipment. I suppose I'm lucky the thing didn't blow a fuse, but it was useless to me except as a prop. In retrospect selling it back onto eBay was unwise when I could've found a way to work it with perseverance, but maybe I can find it in an authentic PAL region and play it on authentic PAL equipment in the future. Until then, I haven't sampled everything Quintet did.


I have actually never played Terranigma, and it is somewhat odd that it never made it out in the US, given that Europe was often the region getting the short end of the stick back then. That brings me to a completely different question. Whatever happened to Quintet? They seem to have fallen off the face of the earth.

I'm going to be very mean to you now. I ask that you recall everything about all the post-Camelot Shining games and tell me if anything was worthwhile. Shining Soul and its sequel, Shining Wind, Shining Force Neo, Shining Force EXA, Shining Tears (I don't remember if that came out in English but still it's in the series), and Shining Hearts which you could import if you were of a mind. Shining Blade isn't out yet, so I won't ask you to judge it.


Oh no, I was trying to block these games out of my mind! I'd say try the Shining Souls games and ignore absolutely everything else, especially Neo and EXA. The Souls games at least took place in the Shining Force universe, but I don't think any of the others really resemble the original series in the slightest.

Don't think from all my talk on Scenario 3 that Shining Force III: Scenario 2 lacks memorable battles. I've mentioned some, but the first one in the land of Elbesem is nifty, as a pile of civilians run away from the Bulzome monks and rescuing them falls to you. Good thing Donhort is there (though his AI control means he may not help much) along with Hera, another Elbesem monk rather like Khan who can take a few hits on their behalf, and starts with them while you're rushing over. Or there's the battle immediately before getting into Elbesem, when you're marching over a beach and some stray boards in shallow water as the tide moves out and the Octopus slowly appears. Its head only appears at the end, but the leg tentacles start making your life interesting long before that. Or the counterpart to the fight in Scenario 1 where Synbios had to deal with Franz, and was ambushed by some of Edmund's troops. The rest were busy fighting Medion.


I'm wondering if this is some sort of subliminal attempt to get me to finally play and complete all three parts of Shining Force III. Well whether it is or not, it's working!

I should have better connection challenges - I blame the lack of Turner Classic Movies in recent months. Still, linking Uforia to Seventh Cross Evolution ought to be fun.


Also going to save these for next week as the previous challenge already sucked up all my researching time!

Ah yes, you wanted more Tengai Makyou stories. Strap yourself in, pardner... Did you know that the Carlsbad Caverns take you straight from Arizona to Texas? I didn't! Such fascinating things one learns from the game. Did you know that men from Jamaica cannot stop dancing in a circle while chanting 'Rastafarian' when reggae is played from a boom box in Oaxaca? Neither did I! Did you know that New England is actually part of Michigan? It has to be, because Michigan is on the northeast edge of the North American continent, right? Did you know that General Custer commanded the Alamo, and that the Alamo is actually a gigantic tank? Also that he was slain on it, giving new meaning to 'Remember the Alamo!'

Wheels, is this karma for all the generalizations we make about the Japanese? Please continue..

Did you know that Las Vegas was actually founded and bankrolled through your party's generous financial contribution in the game, and that the WTC (which stands for exactly what you think it does) was located there? Did you know that Hollywood tycoons will use the Silver Screen as a defensive maneuver when you're attempting to fight them? Did you know that Atlanta is actually in Florida, and that chainsaw-wielding maniacs patrol the wildlands of the state? All this and more you will learn as a result of Tengai Makyou: The Fourth Apocalypse. The game also has something I wish more multi-disc titles of the era would have included, the ability to just put the first disc back into the system if you want to go somewhere the current disc can't store in memory. Content has been provided, and the column lengthened comfortably. Do enjoy. JuMeSyn


You may have intended otherwise but I really want to play this series now. I have to wonder, are they just trolling us? Did the developers just know nothing about America? Or perhaps they intended it to be completely silly? Regardless, sounds like it provides a good laugh.

As always, thank you for the content!

More Chrono Crossings

People are definitely too hard on Chrono Cross! The majority of the cast isn't as memorable as that of Chrono Trigger, but the gameplay is fun, the music is absolutely stellar, and if you can get over the avoidance of correlation between the two until the eleventh hour, the story is pretty good on its own.


They are! To be fair to fans though, it is such a departure from the style and tone of Chrono Trigger that I can't really blame them too harshly for disliking it. Still, on its own merits, it is a fine game. I think it could use a nice remake, especially to fix certain characters that were supposed to be characters from Trigger.

I love Pip because you can affect what his appearance is, which is fun. I like the mermaid girl too because who doesn't love a mermaid? My favorites are Glenn, Harle, and Kid, but they're all the expected characters. I like throwing in Mojo (because really, what is going on with that?), Leah (sentimentality for Ayla), Starky (adorable, but you get him so late), or Turnip (again, what the hell). Sometimes it's fun to do a group of the Dragoons, or only the crazy plant/experiment/animal characters.


It may not be as good as a Suikoden cast, but there's a lot of different fun and unique characters to play, and it gives the player a lot of freedom. Not that this freedom changes much, but it still is a nice feature.

Glad you love the game too! And it makes replays so much easier with the fast forward button. Why haven't other games utilized this??


I have no idea, there's a lot of games with new game plus modes that could really use this kind of feature. Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System has something similar, allowing you to speed up combat, but that's about all I can think of. There's a lot of games with multiple story paths that could really use this feature!

Quickie here: Have you (or do you know anyone) who's played Sword & Poker on the iOS? There are two of them and I'm addicted. It's a poker battle game where you earn money to spend on equipment, get magic that affects the layout of the poker board, increase damage etc. They're fantastic and an absolute timesink when you're on the bus.



I have not played them, but I've heard of them and they sound quite good. Genre mashups are something we've seen a lot of in recent years, and when done properly they can be quite amazing! I'll give it a try and share my thoughts!

Thanks for the tip!

Lightning Round

WHEELS TOP 5 ZELDA GAMES: (hopefully):


Okay so my question to you is, I'm so glad Xenoblade Chronicles is coming to the u.s., finally do you think NOA will bring over the Last Story? Since it's also getting a European release? They did localize a Fortune Street title over here for god only knows why,lol it'll probably sell like 5 copies total. what is their thinking behind this anyway? as always be good, be safe, be strong, and be playing games



Close but incorrect guess!

Well, for starters I think you may be underestimating the appeal of Fortune Street. It's got the same look of a Mario Party title and may grab many of those players looking for something new before Mario Party 9 (even though they actually aren't alike in the slightest). It also has the benefit of being the first entry in a long running series to make it to the US, so I'm sure fans of the Japanese series will be picking it up.

Now, on to the Last Story, I think they will localize it, based on two things. With Xenoblade apparently doing well in Europe, Last Story is likely to do similarly and thus present a case for it to be localized. Secondly, though it has the benefit of being a Zelda title, Skyward Sword sold quite well, getting all the hardcore support it deserved. Besides, with Nintendo of Europe already localizing it, they may as well just release that version in the US! We'll see though, it could be they just ignore and focus on getting ready for the launch of the WiiU.

Good to hear from you again, don't be a stranger!

Dear Wheels,

OK level with me here man. Diablo III in First person? Great idea or the best idea ever?



I dunno, as cool as such a thing would be (we don't really have any First Person Diablo-likes), I think it would actually be a terrible idea. Diablo's style of play is so designed for its current perspective that I don't think it would transition very well to a new one. It would take so much retooling, and probably be a huge risk in terms of sales. Then again it certainly worked for Fallout 3, so I could be wrong. I wonder if it might work better going to a third person view, similar in style to Dark Souls. I think that would be much better received. Regardless, I wish Diablo III was bringing something new to the table.

That's it for this week! Keep those guesses of my top five list of Zelda games coming in.

See you all next week.


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