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ASK WHEELS
End of the Year Spectacular
December 21st, 2012

12/21- 3:00PM GMT

I'm back! I hope you enjoyed guest host Alex Fuller while I was away (he did a great job). You'll be happy to hear that little Training Wheels (real name Patrick James) arrived safe and sound this past Friday (yes on Q&A day). Thanks for all the well wishes and thanks for everyone that sent in questions for Alex while I was away. This will be the last Q&A this year though I may get a special one up next week during the holidays with another special guest host.

Anyway, let's get to the letters!





The Letters
Sadness or: Why I Still Pine for a 7th Dragon Localization

Dear Wheels,

I realized something disquieting recently.  I haven't purchased or wanted to purchase any localized jrpgs put out in the last year as a whole.  That is something that hasn't happened once since I was fourteen... a first in sixteen years.  Just to be sure that I hadn't lost my taste in video games, I played around with a few games in my backlog, and I found that I still enjoyed the genre... the problem is with the games themselves.  For one thing, it seems like there are just fewer releases on the whole... and those games that do make it over here are generally ones I have no taste for anymore (the Atelier games, dungeon crawlers).  If I hunt through the games not released over here, there are at least a half-dozen games I see worth importing... I can't help but wonder just what the localization companies are thinking.  It's a question I've asked any number of times, but I hadn't quite realized I'd gotten to the point where I import almost all the jrpgs I play now until I tried to strike up a conversation with an old friend about video games and realized I hadn't played any jrpgs he would have had a chance to play in over a year.


Somewhat saddened,
Travis Lucius


Wheels

Well, I think there's a number of factors at play here. For starters, we're in a transition phase for handhelds. Since those are still the platforms of choice in Japan there's been a lot of late RPG releases on both PSP and DS. Since those aren't a safe bet anymore in the US we've been getting fewer and fewer of them, even missing out on a Final Fantasy title. Since the the 3DS is doing fine here and the Vita seems to have been taken up by the niche RPG audience in the West (I'm basing this on XSEED, NIS America, and Atlus all releasing RPGs for the platform) I think we'll start to see more games brought over (maybe not on the Vita unless it starts doing better in all regions). As for the consoles, I just don't think there's enough good titles in Japan to even bring over. We're getting the Tales games but is there really much else in that department? It's not a fun situation but I think once the newer portable systems are better established we'll see a steady stream of localized games. I just wish they'd stop releasing games on the PSP we'll never see! I mean really Sega? Another 7th Dragon on PSP?!?!!? Why must they hate me? As far as the localizers go, I can assure you they know better than us what sells (most of the time).  Xenoblade and Last Story doing so well should give us hope for the future!

I guess we'll just have to hope for some fan translations of the games we've missed...

Parte Terza

Hey Wheels,

First off, thanks a lot for the Penny Arcade game.  I haven't played the first two, but I'll check this one out as soon as I'm done with my yet-again run through Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions.  I think it's one of the best games I've ever played, hands down.  Been a while, and I was itching to play it for some reason while I wait for next year's games.  I also just finished playing Bayonetta, which was quite good, in preparation for Platinum and Konami's next Metal Gear game. 


Wheels

  No problem! Don't worry about the first two games, the latest one can be played without ever playing them (though you will miss some jokes referencing the first two games). Final Fantasy Tactics remains one of the best games of all time, and one I can always go back to. I'd be curious as to what classes you liked the best (something for the next time you write in). As far as Bayonetta goes, I've just gotten into Devil May Cry so I'm eager to try that at some point.

1) What is the best Dragon Quest spin-off?

No clue, as you might remember from my last letter.  I'm gonna go with...that prequel game about Yangus from Dragon Quest VIII?  No surprise that it didn't hit US shores (unless I totally missed something).  Though I hear the Joker games are quite good?


Wheels

Yeah that Yangus game looked quite good regardless of being a a roguelike. It's a shame it was never localized! The Joker games are pretty good. The second Joker game was a lot better than the first, but the first game is still worth playing. If you're curious, be sure to check out Rocket Slime as well, which is a hilarious little action adventure game.

2) Will we ever see a 7th Dragon game in English?

Had you asked me this question maybe seven to ten years ago, I would've been optimistic.  However, today's gaming market is decidedly against Japanese development (don't even get me started on the arrogance of Western developers) so I'm going to say that no, we won't see one.  It wouldn't sell unless it had really, really good graphics.  I don't really know much about the series...would you say that it's a good one?


Wheels

Well, the first game was brilliant, and the only game I've ever put more than twenty hours into despite not being able to read anything. I'll have to get back to you on the second 7th Dragon game. You're right though, were the series on PS3 with HD graphics we probably would have seen a localization!

3) What is the best Tales game?

Hmm...let's see.  I've played Phantasia, Vesperia, Abyss, Symphonia, and Graces f.  It's kinda hard to say overall.  Battle-system-wise, I would have to say Graces f, hands down.  I loved the CC system and am glad that it's somewhat making a comeback for Xillia (which I am eagerly anticipating despite the backlash against it).  Story-wise, I remember enjoying Vesperia the most, though I did also enjoy Graces f (except for Sophie, she got on my nerves after a while).  I guess overall I would have to go with Vesperia.  I did enjoy the environmental message that it had, I loved the characters (especially Yuri, who really seemed mature), and I loved the last boss (who, in typical Tales fashion, isn't all that bad).  Tales of the Abyss comes quite close, however.  I just didn't care as much for the battle system, but I did like the story.  I honestly don't remember much of Symphonia, except that I did finish it and that it's supposed to be linked to Phantasia.  It's a shame we won't really get the Vita remakes, but I can understand why.  I really need to check out Legendia even though it's considered to be awful (hey, it can't be as bad as Tempest, which is likely the one that really, truly needs a remake).



Wheels

There's no doubt that Graces f has the best battle system in my opinion. Getting rid of standard MP is what the series needed to do and that's what makes lost classics like the Destiny remake and Tales of Hearts so great. Taking that combat to three dimensions made it that much better. Not sure if the story holds up, but I love it. I also much prefer the style of exploration in it that includes no world map. Vesperia is a good choice as well though I'm not as much of a fan of its combat. I can tell you one thing, both games feature brilliant localizations!

Trust me when I say we aren't missing much with the upgraded versions of Phantasia (and no, nothing is as bad as Tempest).

4)  If THQ goes under will anyone save Darksiders?

No idea.  I never got into the series, but it seems to be quite popular, so I wouldn't be surprised if someone snatched it up if THQ went under.  Maybe Eidos Montreal? 


Wheels

Wow, the thought of an Eidos Montreal developed Darksiders is actually incredibly enticing. Anyway, I could see Square Enix rescuing the series as they had luck doing something similar with Sleeping Dogs (though that's a bit different). The series hasn't exactly blazed on the sales charts but it has done well enough that it'd be worthwhile for someone to pick up. If you enjoy games like Bayonetta you may want to give the series a try! Especially Darksiders II as it incorporates many more RPG elements.

5) What RPG series would you like to see a non-RPG made out of?

Interesting question!  Though it's really hard for me to pick, since I play RPGs 99.9% of the time.  Um...I guess maybe Suikoden.  It's quite political and war-heavy, so I wouldn't mind seeing an RTS come out of it.  Though I'd want it to be a hybrid of the Total War games and Age of Empires.  I love the big battles for Total War but it doesn't really have a story.  I'd definitely need a good story, in typical Suikoden fashion, and some of the other RTS games do have storylines.  Though I'd still probably want some town exploration and whatnot.  Gah, I'd just want an RPG, I know it!


Wheels

I agree! Though the prospect of a non-RPG Suikoden is interesting (I'm thinking of something along the lines of the Romance of the Three Kingdom games) I will still much prefer a proper Suikoden VI. Prospects for that seem rather dim sadly, and I doubt a non-RPG title would help its popularity. Anyway, still an interesting idea!

Speaking of which, I saw the lengthy discussion in your last column about the Suikoden games.  I somewhat remember writing to you maybe four years ago (was it you?  I know I wrote to RPGamer) suggesting the series since it's so good.  How many of the games have you played?  It's a shame the series didn't sell enough for Konami to continue the main series.  While Yoshitaka Muriyama was the father of the series, the fifth game has proven that you don't necessarily need him for a great Suikoden game.  While I haven't played the DS or PSP games, I hear that they're not really as good (the fact that they don't take part in the main timeline really blows).  I agree that the series has its fair share of glitches/mistranslations, though by the fourth and fifth games they aren't as noticeable.  I actually didn't mind the army battles for the second game, though I agree that they could be better.  A lot of it had to do with getting lucky, which I did not like.  I thought the third and fifth games did the army battles decently, especially the fifth (which does feel like an RTS).  A lot of people complain about Suikoden III's army battles because it doesn't feel like an actual "army", but they're forgetting the setting, backstory, and nature of the peoples who make up the Grasslands.  Apple's in the third game too, though she's still a somewhat ineffective strategist (doesn't hold a candle to anyone, really).  It's a shame that Suikoden II hasn't made it to the PSN, but Konami's pretty much stated that they don't care for it.  The team was officially disbanded and the new guy in charge stated that he has no intention of continuing the main storyline. 


Wheels

I am a huge fan of the Suikoden series! I have played I, II, and V. I love the whole continuity of the series which is what makes the games so great, and what makes the DS and PSP games not as good sadly. The odd thing about it is that the Suikoden games did sell pretty well. Yes, sales tapered with Suikoden V but I don't see that as a reason to completely throw away what was great about the games. Doesn't seem like either game did very well so I hope they reconsider.

You are of course right about Suikoden V, it is proof they don't need the original creator to continue the main series.

Regarding Lucia, it's true she seems to survive a lot, but she IS quite strong-willed.  Plus, we wouldn't have a third game without her!  Regarding Hugo's rage, it's definitely understandable.  Lucia might seem to have cooled off, but Hugo is only 15 while Lucia was 21 in Suikoden II (and as such is in her late thirties in the third game).  Also, Hugo does go through character development, so it's all good.  I personally find the story of the game to be stronger than its predecessor, though I'm part of the minority who doesn't consider the second game to be the best.  It does have the best skill system for sure (which carries onto the war system).  Suikoden V also has a skill system but it's somewhat limited compared to the third game. 


Wheels

All I can say is that I apparently really need to get down to it and play the third game don't I?

It's a real shame that we don't get more JRPGs like this.  My ultimate story would involve a collaboration between Yasumi Matsuno, Yoshitaka Muriyama, and Hironobu Sakaguchi.  And whoever did the scenarios for the third and fourth Breath of Fire games...and the people who work for Atlus. 

Well, talk to you soon.  I'm liking this whole "writing in" business, dunno why I didn't bother for a long time.

Krishna


Wheels

We do need more great writers working on JRPGs, that is certainly an issue. Considering how great Atlus has done in that department, I wish they would all just go work for Atlus instead of fussing with other companies that might not use them to their full potential. It would mean Suikoden wouldn't get that help but who knows what other amazing series Atlus could come up with? Anyway, thanks for the great questions! I hope to hear from you again soon.

Why Do You Hate Wheels

Dear Wheels,

Firstly, many congratulations :)

To celebrate I thought we'd try something a bit different. There's a BBC Sport Radio show called "Fighting Talk" (also available to download freely as a podcast on iTunes). In it there's a round called "Defend the Indefensible". Basically whatever the initial statement is you have to agree with it, no matter how obviously incorrect it may be. Your first statement is-

"Those who have abandoned Final Fantasy after XIII need look no further for a replacement series than Agarest."

Explain why this is true in, let's say, 50 words or more (the more is very optional).

-Severin


Wheels

Oh dear, how in the world do I complete this challenge? I guess if you're fed up with Final Fantasy and want a series that is the exact opposite of it in every conceivable way then Agarest is a great series to turn to! The music isn't as good, the combat is more archaic, the graphics are from a bi-gone era and the stories are ... different. So there you go, if you want something that is NOT Final Fantasy then try Agarest! I can say at the very least they are well localized.

The Lightning Round

So, how long do you think it will be until you introduce video games to Training Wheels?  Do you have any plans to try to sway his preferences to RPGs?

Fayted


Wheels

That is a good question! I'm going to have to guess a ballpark of around age 3 or 4, probably after watching me play some Mario games and what not for a while. Then once he's reading I can let him try some New Super Mario Bros. WiiU where I can assist him from the gamepad. I'll of course try and sway his preference towards RPGs after that, perhaps with Pokémon or Rocket Slime. Then I could of course try some Zelda and perhaps some early Final Fantasy games. I think Pokémon will really do the trick though. This should be fun in a few years!

Short and sweet as usual:

1) I hope so
2) Unexpectedly low...I love Tales
3) I would replace them all with FFVI
4) Not an RPG but Fatal Frame II for the Wii....can't say enough about a game that has me terrified to walk through my own house after playing it
5) Watership Down

Ciao
~Sasser~


Wheels

1) I hope so too, after the amazing Resonance of Fate I'd really like to see them work on some more original material. They did some portable projects with Konami but they've always been known for doing console games so I wonder if they've got a secret project in the works. I know it's not Resonance of Fate II but I can dream dang it!

2) On first look they seem unexpectedly low but you have to remember the series has never been known for selling millions of copies, with most of the main titles selling under a million in Japan. They sell quite well to be sure, and certain titles in the series have even done well here in the US. So all things taken into account it's actually not bad at all and it will continue to go up. Hopefully we fans in the West can help add to that total quite often in the future.

3) I can't really argue that in the slightest, many games would be much better with Final Fantasy VI's soundtrack.

4) I've never played the Fatal Frame series but I've heard great things about it. My personal game of the year would be Persona 4 Golden despite the fact that it's an updated port (yes it is that good). If we take ports out of the equation then I would have to go with either Devil Survivor 2 or Tales of Graces f both of which have brilliant battle systems. Mass Effect 3 would also be in consideration but I'd give a slight edge to the other two.

5) I've never read Watership Down but based on the Wikipedia page I think it could make a fantastic RPG!

@AskWheels DEAR WHEELS I KNOW I HAVEN'T WRITTEN YOU IN AWHILE. I WAS BUSY FIGHTING THE GORLAX ALSO YOU NEVER CALL ME SOME FRIEND YOU ARE.


Wheels

Oh, it's Beat. I can tell because of the all caps. I tried calling you but the Gorlax must block your cell signal.

@AskWheels BUT ENOUGH ABOUT YOUR FAILURES GOTTA ASK YOU A QUESTION IN THIS LOUD ROOM FULL OF DRUNKS AND DUBSTEP (DANCE FLOOR NOT OPEN YET)


Wheels

WHAT? CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER DUBSTEP. DUBSTEP IS MAGIC MAN!

@AskWheels HOW SICK ARE YOUR MOVES. ARE YOU TERMINAL YET


Wheels

My dance moves aren't sick, I would describe them as exceptionally healthy.

@AskWheels WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN PLAYING HALO FOUR WITH ME EVERY DAY FOREVER?


Wheels

Baby.

@AskWheels CAN YOUR DAD BEAT UP MY DAD?


Wheels

Only if he has a bunch of other dads with him and I'm guessing he does not!

@AskWheels GIMME 50 DOLLARS I MIGHT BE ARMED MAYBE.


Wheels

Do you take check or credit?

@AskWheels IF MY DAD BEAT UP YOUR DAD WOULD HE BE CONFERRED THE HONORARY TITLE "DADMASTER GENERAL".


Wheels

He would if such an unlikely thing were ever to happen.

@AskWheels WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE PERSONA 4 SO MUCH.


Wheels

Because despite originally coming out four years ago the updated version for Vita shows that the game is as relevant and amazing as ever. Not just a shining standard for Japanese RPGs, but a model for all RPGs. It may be some time before we see a Persona 5 but we'll all be watching with much interest when it does arrive.

@AskWheels IF YOU WERE AN ANIME AND I WAS YOUR DUB VOICE, HOW MUCH FAITH DO YOU HAVE THAT I WOULD STAY ON SCRIPT.


Wheels

I would have as much faith that you would stay on script as I do that Sega will localize the first 7th Dragon.

@AskWheels WHAT IF I WAS PORTRAYING YOU IN A BIOPIC ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH MUGEN SOULS.


Wheels

I don't think you could drink that much booze.

@AskWheels SHOULD I KEEP DRINKING.


Wheels

I recommend a nice Long Island iced team, the Q&A drink of choice.

@AskWheels DON'T ANSWER THAT YOU'RE TOO LATE.


Wheels

That was quick.

@AskWheels GIVE 4 EXCELLENT REASONS FOR WHY VECTORMAN SHOULD BE REBOOTED AS AN RPG.


Wheels

Well actually, since Sega published Resonance of Fate they could actually turn Vectorman into a cool RPG like that. It could use stylish turn-based shooting combat perhaps with some sort of new companions. Maybe they could even throw in some secret party members from other lost Sega games like Alex Kidd. Get on top of this Sega!

@AskWheels GIVE THREE ACCEPTABLE REASONS FOR WHY FFVII SHOULD BE REBOOTED AS A BUDDY COP COMEDY STARRING THE TURKS.


Wheels

Well number one, buddy cop comedies are still extremely popular. Number two, you could get actors from popular buddy cop films to play the Turks to raise the profile of the game. Finally, Final Fantasy VII would just be much better off with less Cloud.

@AskWheels GIVE 400 MILLION REASONS WHY I'M AWESOME.


Wheels

I can't think of one?

@AskWheels NAW TOO EASY.


Wheels

Was it?

@AskWheels WOULD YOU HIT A RHINO WITH A BUS IF THE BUS AND/OR THE RHINO WERE ASKING FOR IT?


Wheels

Only if it's not one of those really endangered rhinos...wait is that all of them?

@AskWheels WAS ASOB BETTER THAN BTMI!?

-Beat


Wheels

Bomb the Music Industry is clearly the better group with a much larger variety of music. Still, ASOB did produce some great tunes so you can't go wrong with either. The fact both groups' music is available for free helps of course.

@Askwheels how do you feel about Barkely 2 getting an Al Bhed translation?

-EricRPG


Wheels

I think it's hilarious and amazing that they would actually go through the trouble of doing that. I think they also did for the original game but I can't recall. Hopefully this is the start of many localizations for the Al Bhed speaking audience!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! Happy Holidays and we'll see you next year. Get your questions in!

-Wheels


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