|The Readers are
Coming! The Readers are Coming!
|December 29th, 2010
12/29 - 12:00PM EST
When Wheels asked me to write an introduction for the special
Ensemble Cast Q&A, I was honored. I had already written a
large amount of letters that were featured in his excellent column, as
well as done a full-length guest column for the week he took off, but
contributing to his weekly writings is a joy that has yet to lose even
a hint of it's luster. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance,
and said I would write it imediately.
Then a day passed
And another. Emboldedned by my experiences wtih procrastination,
I told myself I would just throw something together the morning it was
set to go up and went to bed.
It's now 3 AM in the basement of an unfamliar house. The ancient
radiator creaks and groans, each gutteral noise a harsh denouncement of
my amazing capacity for sloth. I cling to my laptop like it was
the only famliar thing left in the world, as I beg for forgiveness,
dispite knowing that I am the only human to hear it.
Had I written this introduction three days ago, before my lackadasical
vice had angered Wheels and caused me to be imprisoned in this
nightmarish chamber, I would have told you all that my Name is Beat,
and that it was my pleasure to introduce you to a special ensemble cast
Q&A starring the literay talents of Lokii, Garrison, FBM, Nodal,
Hito, Adam, and myself. I would have done my very best to expound
upon how all these men are accomplished writers, humorists, and video
game players, or barring that, totally cool guys who are both
knowledgeable and funny. I would have said many things was I
still in posession of the full range of my emotions.
But right now? All I have is fear. Fear of an angry Q&A
god that in my arrogance, I have slighted! Fear that the noises
in this terrible place are growing closer! Fear that the second
my battery dies and the darkness is complete the very walls of this
improvised cell will swallow me whole!
I feel so cold. I wish the noise would st...
Let's start with a question from one of the readers, Nodal:
Dear Wheels. If you could had to choose a fruit for every Final Fantasy, what fruits would
you pick and why.
What...what is this question? Why would you ask this question? Alright,
whatever. I'll bite.
I: It is an apple because it's your introduction to fruit. It's
a boring fruit that maybe you enjoy later on in life, but you grow up
eating applesauce and then you try to eat whole apples later and it
makes your mouth bleed, just like Final Fantasy the First did when you
tried to play that later on in life and realized it's not as good as
you remembered, but it's not really bad either.
II: Durian. It stinks. Some people might even want it to be
banned in places. It pops up in strange Asian restaurants. The flavor
can be enjoyable if you can get past the stink, but it's best enjoyed
blended with something else.
III: Peaches. Delicious, juicy, succulent peaches. They are
never bad. They are durable. They take on many roles in things like
salsas, chutneys, desserts, and barbecue.
IV: This would be a higher quality apple. Over-rated, people
don't realize that it's really just the same boring fruit gussied up
for a night out. Really, guys, there is nothing awesome about a moon
whale. Get over it. This is a bad apple.
V: Apricots. Peaches for grown-ups. More subtle flavors, more
delicious, as versatile as your everyday peach.
VI: Bananas, because of Cid's banana outfit.
VII: Oranges. When you peel away the outer layer, you realize
there is some pretty tasty flesh, but also bitter stuff that no one
wants (Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus). Maybe you get the
occasional good product from it, but you still have to deal with the
VIII: Grapes. They can turn in to a more delicious thing if you
let them fester for a while. You'll pick up on subtleties you hadn't
noticed before each time you go back, but in the beginning, they're
pretty boring and there are parts you'll want to spit out.
IX: Cherries. They're always charming, they top a sundae or make
a cocktail that much more special. They remind you of childhood.
X: Prunes. They make you want to crap on everything. There's
nothing particularly enjoyable about them and they make you feel old
and bitter. (Yes, I know they're not really a fruit on their own, but
go with me here.)
XI: Lychee. When you eat one, the flavor just keeps going, and
going, and going, and you pay for it later when you try to eat
something else and you end up with a lychee-and-whatever-else flavored
burp that ruins your day and then you wish you never had the lychee to
XII: Prickly pear. Some people really enjoy the flavor of it,
but only in certain circles. Most find it a bit off-putting, but
there's a lot to enjoy if you really try.
XIII: Lemon. Unless you mix it with something else, you really
can't enjoy this. It's sour, bitter, and stupid. But it's so yellow and
XIV: Plantain. Let's hope you didn't mistake it for a banana. If
you did, you're going to end up really disappointed. If you didn't, you
knew what you were getting yourself in to and you deserve it. Maybe you
can coax some deliciousness out of it, but good luck.
Crystal Chronicles: Those little red berries you see on bushes
that your parents have to remind you not to eat because they're
poisonous. Stay away.
Tactics: All of the fruit. Every last one because it is
delicious and amazing.
Next up, Square-Enix's bonus program essentially requires that you buy
all of their games, for every released platform. What are your thoughts
My thoughts are that I'm going to point and laugh at you if you
try your hardest to get all of the games to win an iPod that would've
been cheaper on eBay in the end. It's good that Nintendo doesn't have
multiple platforms to buy the same damned game three times even though
there's no difference in gameplay. I'm looking at you, Front Mission Evolved/Just Cause 2/Kane
and Lynch 2. Lower the point total, allow only one version of
each game to be registered, and maybe you'll have a good program.
The SaGa series has been
stuck with remakes since Unlimited
Saga. Despite how interesting a game it is, did it kill the
forward momentum of the series?
No, but Crystal Chronicles
did. I think Square realized they shouldn't give Kawazu complete
creative control over something after US,
with a pretty talented team and let him stink up the
place just a little bit less than he would have if he were
all-powerful. It's nice to see remakes of the older SaGa games coming, but we'll never
see them on these shores, so it doesn't really matter. But, perhaps
we'll get lucky and it'll be enough to convince Square that Kawazu
isn't that bad every now and then and they'll allow him to make a new SaGa thing.
Finally, the attempt to move the Front
Mission series to the action genre obviously failed. Was this
just a case of good idea, bad execution, or was moving from the SRPG
bad idea for the series?
No, this wasn't a bad idea. In fact, it was a brilliant one.
Unfortunately, Double Helix is not the studio to pull it off. Don't
give an American company that likely knows little about the series
control of your franchise. It ended up feeling like a severely
unpolished Armored Core
try-to-be. There was no nuance to the upgrade system. The mission
variety was lacking. The graphics were pretty ugly, voice acting
spotty, and the plot was a disaster. I wish this would have been
handled in-house by Square, maybe it'd feel like a true part of the
series if it had been.
Ask Beat from his Imprisonment
Let's talk frankly, shall we? I'm going to ask you some serious
questions and I expect some serious answers.
Wheels, I'm a man who has never
been serious about anything in his entire life. Still, I hate to
shatter your dreams. Very well. I will play this
game. Show me what you're made of!
1. Do you actually like RPGs?
I like games that entertain me. The vast majority of the time,
RPGs fall flat on their face in that regard. All too often the
plots are overwrought, self-important nonsense, the characters an array
of uninteresting stock personalities, and the all important "gameplay"
an incredibly slow ordeal consisting mostly of mindless, menu-based
grinding. Add in the fact that most of them last at least 30
hours, and you have a gaming experience that is totally unattractive to
That's not to say I hate
RPGs, I just don't think very highly of most of them. There have
been RPGs that I found totally gripping and would play for hours on
end, even ones that are arguably guilty of the issues I just
outlined. I am unapologetic about my love for games such as Chrono Trigger and Skies of Arcadia. I also am
much more tolerant of action RPGs, such as Terrangima, and Mass Effect 2.
2. If you could have one RPG on a deserted island, and nothing else to
keep you entertained, what would you choose?
My first instinct would be to claim that all video games are games in
which you play a roll, and bring Bangai-O
DS. But since you would surely reject that answer, let's
go with Mass Effect 2.
God I hope Bioware stays smart and refuses to listen to "fan" demands
that the upcoming ME3 contain
more "RPG elements". Mass
Effect 2 was a brilliant exercise in cutting out the awful parts
of the original, and leaving only awesome goodness. Looking back
I don't even know how I managed to play the first Mass Effect. Compared to the
second it's a clunky mess.
3. Wait a second, do I know you? You look an awful lot like my
That's impossible I wore a mask.
I mean... your kidnapper wore a mask.
4. If you could make an RPG about one rapper, whom would you
and why would you choose them? Then describe the game. Bonus points if
a Tupac futuristic game, just like that music video...
You've been paying attention!
Well the most obvious choice would be one of the leaders of a famous
Rap group, such as RZA of the Wu Tang Clan. I think a fictional
account of how they gathered the MCs in their lineup (in our example,
people like Method Man and Rakewon), and worked their way to the top of
the rap game could make an interesting experience, especially if you
included optional party members from their affiliated acts (in this
case, Busta Rhymes and Redman).
But really, I sincerely doubt any of those guys play video games in
general or RPGs in particular. No, if you're gonna make an
adventure about a Rapper, it should probably be a rapper who actually
knows what "RPG" stands for.
That's why I have to go with Random. For the uninitiated,
Random is an underground rapper who that followed up his critically
acclaimed first album "The Call" with a concept album about Mega Man. The guy knows and
loves his video games, and a chance to play as him working his way
through the underground scene would be pretty amazing. Bonus
points if the party consists of frequent collaborators Storyville, DJ
DN3 and K-Murdok.
The fact that he's my favorite underground rapper had nothing to do
with my choice here. Scouts honor.
5. Go watch this video.
you more or less interested in the associated game and
Okay so we've got a girl walking around high places dressed as little
red riding hood. The few glimpses we get of the background
indicate that she lives in... I dunno, super-glowy London, or
something. Anyways, she apparently decides that being alive is
for losers, and figures it's time to give suicide a try. Then the
dude from treasure planet saves the day, except, no he doesn't because
the ropes in super-glowly London are utter garbage. Then there's
some weird dialouge that doesn't really make any sense, and suddenly
we're watching Peter Pan.
Had the girl hit the ground, and we were then treated to a hard-boiled,
detective going over her files and muttering to his young, naive
partner about why it didn't make sense for an heiress to kill herself,
hinting at an exciting conspiracy, where the only message a young
billionaire could send was her own death, then I would be taken hook
line and sinker. Had they gone for a more surrealstic approach
and shown me glimpes of her thouguts, or the a momentary peak at the
events that brought her to this point, that might have been enough to
get me curious. But this? This doesn't really tell me
anything or give me any reason to care. And finally, it doesn't
really tell me anything about how the game is played, or the sort of
things I could expect to see if I picked this game up. I'm sorry
Wheels, but I'm gonna go with "less interested".
6. Why haven't you played Nier yet?
7. No really, why not?
There's a trailer of the game on youtube. It starts with some
pissed off girl just belting out a train of obceneties. That made
me not want to buy the game.
No really. The trailer is very important for making an
impression, to get me interested in the characters and all that
stuff. This trailer showed me a girl who is ANGRY! Saying
lots of swear words because that's EDGY.
I've mentioned Mass Effect 2
a couple times now, so i think I should take a moment to mention that I
think the absoulute worst character in that game is Jack. To the
uninformed, Jack is an ANGRY, EDGY girl who uses BAD WORDS. It
was so cliche it physically hurt me. It was like the game
designers seriously belived that I was 12 years old, and still capable
of being impressed by the ANGRY EDGY sterotypes that ruled the 90s.
And this trailer essentially told me that this game had exactly the
same thing, just with a few more F-bombs per line. Wether or not
they actually manage to handle the character with any level of grace in
game itself is completely irrelevant at this point. I havent'
played the game and due to this sort of awful marketing, I don't really
intend to. if this game is intended for adults, (as its M rating
suggests) the marketing for it shouldn't be so desperate to appeal to
<editors note: Did you watch the WHOLE trailer Beat?>
Always a pleasure Wheels.
I'm sitting here
thinking about questions past
And all the stupid questions I've asked
And while it was a blast too much time has passed
and we're scraping the bottom of the barrel at last
Don't worry Beat, this is a secure
channel with no chance of this message being intercepted so I'm not
going to bother with the code. Yes, Wheels has been sealed into
the barrel with no major problems of note, and he should be shipped out
well before the explosion goes off. I don't think there's any
chance of him escaping before we get him out of here.
But really how far
can one go with game questions
It's just me mocking topics of your affection
And through misdirection I demand insurrection!
So many columns later I will learn no lesson
Were taking him about 2000 miles, to a tiny island in the middle of
nowhere just in case he can be of use to us in the future. While
he's gone we will commit a quiet rebellion and install the false
Wheels, who will help us with our agendas. He will take over the
letter replying from now on, and finally get rid of those horrible
So now that we've
accepted this letter is lame
Allow me to ask, what's your favorite game
On that note complain, what tropes drive you insane
yet persevere and persist dispite your great pain.
The false Wheels has been instructed to talk more and more about
shooters, and his training has been extensive so there should be no
issues with him. The torture went through as planned and we have
received the list of codes from Wheels. I will send those to you
with this message.
And on the topic of
things that cause forum war
Why is writing in games so amazingly poor?
When they aren't a bore, it's excuse plot galore
It's been years, we don't have to accept anymore.
With the help of the sample speeches you provided the replacement will
sound exactly like Wheels. There shouldn't be any chance of the
readers finding out about the swap. And it is indeed good to
finally finish this. The reign of the RPG is over.
knowledge your word is your bond
So I'm eager to see just how you respond.
The messenger I gave this to has brown hair, blue eyes and stands at 5
feet 11 inches. Make sure to eliminate him. He has seen my
For many, Nier was a surprise
this year. Are there any other games that surprised you this year, that
you didn't originally have interest in, or didn't think would be good?
Ah, what i fine way to start this
out. There were a couple of games that truly surprised me, but only one
of them was an actual RPG. Seeing as this website thing that I've been
summoned to is focused on the RPGs, I guess I should let you in on it.
I've been sick and tired of Action RPGs for a while and yet people
talked me into purchasing Ys Seven.
I had never really played an Ys
game before and I was pretty skeptical that I'd have any fun with it at
all. Twenty hours later, I had finished the game and I was left
jonesing for more. Ys Seven was
both a breath of fresh air and a faithful trip to RPGs past. It's kind
of hard to explain how it can be both simulataneously, but it just was.
It was everything I ever wanted out of a Mana game with really tight
controls and fantastic music. It was my game of the year until I played
but I'm still amazed that I liked it as much as I did. I can say that Ys Seven restored my faith in
Oh, and Super
Meat Boy was the other surprise this year, but just pretend I
didn't say that.
Bioware is doing some crazy black magic on the PC version of Dragon Age 2, somehow making a
battle system that can switch between Baldur's
Gate style combat and action RPG combat. Can this work?
After playing Mass Effect 2,
I'm willing to give Bioware the benefit of the doubt when it comes to
the action in their games. Dragon
Age: Origins was pretty much a straight turnbased RPG that gave
you the illusion that there was more action going on than there really
was. From what I've seen of this sequel, however, I'm thinking that the
action element may play out pretty well. I'm not worried at all about
taking things turnbased, but something about PC Action RPGs strikes me
as an odd endeavor and I can't wait to see just how Bioware has changed
things up. I guess we'll just have to stick with the combat video until
Level 5 has made some great games, yet when they make epic RPGs without
someone else involved they often seem to fall flat. What gives?
Level 5 is kind of an odd company when it comes to their massive RPGs.
You've got the flawed stuff Dark
Cloud and White Knight
Chronicles and then you have the ambitious yet somewhat boring
games like Rogue Galaxy or Dark Cloud 2. I don't think I care
for either of these games all that much, but it's their two other huge
RPGs that most people seem to think about these days. Dragon Quest VIII and IX are quite simply two of the
finest Eastern styled RPGs to ever have come out and for a lot of
people, it seems kind of strange that a company that mostly produced
subpar RPGs could reach this zenith. Several people seem to have
theories about why, like saying that Square-Enix breathes down Level
5's backs more, therefor producing better games. I tend to think about
it in a different light, although probably a little more naively. Dragon Quest isn't one of the
absolute biggest names in RPGs and in Japan, it's THE biggest name.
Ever since Dragon Quest III,
Japan has been fixated on the series. The people have such a deep
respect and such a great understanding about what makes them fantastic
games. For a company like Level 5 to be handpicked to do Dragon Quest, it's a great honor
and I assume they used every ounce of their being to make it the best
game it can be.
If Kawazu were to somehow become the director of a direct sequel to
your favorite RPG, how would you react?
Well, mainline Shin Megami Tensei
is probably my favorite RPG series, so I'm not sure how Kawazu could
really change things about it. From my brief experience with the SaGa series, it seems like
Kawazu's main efforts are to try and bring the JRPG to its simplest
form and build off of it. You can see it in pretty much all his games
as he goes out of his way to remove the need for level grinding, stat
gains, and equipment juggling and then he sort of builds off YOUR
involvement in the world and with your character. Honestly, I think
these would probably be a pretty good fit in Shin Megami Tensei. This
series has toyed with removing levels or simplifying equipment from
game to game and I think it'd be really interesting to see what an
outside source could do. I mean, like him or hate him, Kawazu's games
are always interesting. So yeah, I'd be pretty stoked.
(editor's note: best response ever)
Have you played Crystal Bearers?
I've been meaning to hunt down Crystal
Bearers for the past year, but I guess I just haven't found it
for an appealing price. This game seems wacky and I enjoy a good wacky
game. Hey, I might even like it if I ever gave it a try. Who knows,
maybe it's good?
Peter Molyneux's games are usually quite good, yet suffer from
unrealistic expectations. Would they be received better if he left
marketing to the marketing folk?
I can't help but love Peter Mulyneux for his RPGs. This is a dude who
seems so in love with his concept, that he can't possibly ever live up
to what he has in mind. I mean, I suppose you could just hire better
marketers and cut down on the disappointment factor, but that's a
boring solution for everyone. My proposal is that we cryogenically
freeze Peter Molyneux and attach a note to him reminding whoever finds
him to thaw him out. I think by this point in the future, whatever he
has in mind for video games will be childs play and any game he creates
will be the equivalent to that generation's Mega Man 9. This is a good plan.
Resonance of Fate
is an odd game, even by tri-Ace standards. Do you think Square-Enix
punted on publishing it, Sega approached them about doing a game, or
what? Seems strange that after all the success they had working
together that tri-Ace would team with someone else.
- Wailin ' Wheels
Tri-Ace has always been an independent
developer with their displeasure at (in their view) Namco's mangling of
Phantasia likely informing their decisions as to what companies
will be publishing their games. This is pure speculation but the
possibility exists that Square-Enix would have requested changes to
make the game more marketable that tri-Ace itself would have considered
untennable. If pressed I'd guess they probably pitched the idea to
Squenix at some point simply because they've been consistently
partnered with Enix since long prior to the Square merger.
Tales of Graces F
seems to have fixed the issues the Wii version had. Why, do you think,
didn't they just go with the PS3 to begin with? Especially given the
stellar sales of Vesperia on
- Caius from Tempest, Areura
Namco's never been shy about putting Tales games on any system to test
their viability there. Graces
would likely best be termed as Namco seeing how well the series
as a whole will fly there. Beyond that, Graces was nearly done (for a
certain value of the word given the incomplete state of the Wii
version) when Vesperia PS3
came out. Honestly, the success of Vesperia
seems to have fast-tracked Graces F
given that it came out within a year of the Wii version despite the
fact that it likely wasn't started until just before or just after the
Wii version came out.
Why has Square-Enix been able to do well with their PSP titles in the
West, when others haven't?
Cult of Corporate Personality?
Square-Enix fans are legion and very loyal even if they bemoan every
change to SE's flagship franchises they will continue to buy them.
Having a large fanbase tends to do that.
What is your opinion of Final
I quite liked XIII despite having gone into it
assuming I'd probably hate it.
Give us your predictions about Kingdom
2013 release? I'm not even sure if
Nomura's gonna go through with a game called "Kingdom Hearts 3" or just keep
making games that, while continuing the story, have strange oft-times
Do you like the Fallout
Sir Roderick Ponce von Fontlebottom
the Magnificent Bastard Sacrilege though it may be, I can't really get
into old-school PC RPGs, but I did enjoy FO3 and look forward to trying New Vegas which for no known reason
I still haven't gotten around to.
What's your favorite RPG of all time and why?
My favorite RPG of all time is Final Fantasy IV, through the force
of sheer nostalgia. The music, story, and graphics were all epic to my
young mind. These days... the music is pretty good.
If someone were to say that game sucked, what would you do?
If someone were to say the game
sucked, I'd probably say "right on" since they likely have excellent
reasons for saying so.
to connect with the people who play it, and I haven't seen many who
played it and disliked it. So why did it get killed by reviewers?
had the misfortune of being interesting, rather than spectacular (that
is, it isn't much of a spectacle). There aren't many things in the game
that would make amazing back-of-the-box features, and what it has in
common with more popular games tends to lack polish. Aside from the
amazing soundtrack and story, there is nothing in the game, from
graphics to gameplay, that excels individually, but Nier's strength is taking its
disparate parts and weaving them together into something far greater. I
think Nier's greatest
weakness is that it requires investment to see where it truly shines,
and video game reviewers really don't have the time to devote this to a
singular game, especially one that isn't likely to draw many pageviews.
Why do you hate Kawazu?
I don't hate him. I just like to think that every time I make fun of
someone for liking Kawazu, I'm helping level up their resistance to
Who do you think has done the best job at infusing
comedy into a localization?
Of the games I've played recently, I'd
say the team behind Dragon Quest IX
has done an excellent job of taking cheesy, occasionally painfully so,
dialogue and situations and making them just as horribly overwrought in
Did Mass Effect 2 go too far
in stripping out RPG elements?
Until Mass Effect gets QTE sex, I think
we're all okay.
Western or Japanese RPGs, which needs the most work and why?
I don't think either genre needs work.
Western RPGs seem like they're on the rise on the consoles, and the PC
stalwarts continue to thrive. JRPGs, while stereotyped as becoming more
and more insular, still contain more than enough variety to just be
written off as a genre. People like me can enjoy games like Dragon
Quest 9, while others are perfectly okay with things I find just
Why do you hate Final Fantasy XIII?
it ever do to you?
I don't hate it! Who said I hated it? I mean, it's not great or
anything. I'd enjoy it more if the characters were likable, and if the
story was told with more skill and nuance, and if it didn't try to be
Sherif Anime of Animetown, but hey! At least it was pretty. I might
have gotten to the White Woods with Grumpy and Dopey and said "yeah, I
think I've had enough of this," but that doesn't mean I hate it.
Nier and Epic Mickey seem to be cases of
great setting and flawed gameplay. Had they been done properly, would
fate of these games, perhaps the fate of developer Cavia been different?
picking up quite the little cult following, so it's doing pretty good
considering. I'm not sure refined gameplay would have helped Cavia
really. It's such a weird game, you know? I speaks to a certain type of
player, and those people are captured by its story and characters. I
don't know if the quests and the button-mashy combat had been polished
if it would have attracted a larger audience. It found who it was going
to, and those people like it so much they tend to overlook its flaws.
As for Epic Mickey, it's
doing pretty well from what I've heard. Who needs polished play when
you've got brand marketability!
had many of the same issues that the first Mass Effect had, but got far lower
scores. Did it get a raw deal?
Certainly, but it didn't have hot blue space butt either. Who would
want to be Jason Borne when you can be Captain Kirk?
If you could make a dream team of developers, who would be on it?
Pheeeeeeeeeeeeeew. That's a tough one, but Yasumi Matsuno would be at
the helm. Yoko Shimomura on drums, throw in some Kazuya Niinou for
flavor, and round it out with Scott C. to make things pretty.
If you remade your favorite Final
Fantasy, what would you change from the original game?
Well, my favorite is V, and
being my favorite I think it's just about perfect. To change it would
be to insult it. Others though... VI
needs some remake love. I'd like to see it spruced up a la Final Fantasy IV DS. VII desperately needs better
quality music. The graphics can stay, they're part of the charm. And
I'd like to see XII with a
more refined skill board, maybe with different boards for different job
classes? Oh wait.
or not RPG? Doesn't matter?
Not an RPG and yes it does. Don't ask me to define it any further than
that. Things get messy.
Is it over yet? It is! We'll return to our normal broadcasting schedule
Current Backlog: Feed Me
December 1st: Wheels
December 8th: Wheels
December 15th: Wheels
December 22nd: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
On my Playlist:
1. NieR Gestalt - 15 Nightmares
2. Decidedly not the Crystal Bearers Soundtrack
3. NO MORE CHRISTMAS MUSIC
1. Wheels never talks about things that aren't
JRPGs. Send more questions
in about western RPGs!
2. Can we get through a column without mentioning Tales? Doh, I just
ruined it, didn't I?
3. JRPGs are not currently more creative than WRPGs
4. Really, compare Final Fantasy to fruit? Who comes up with this
5. Is this the best column ever? Yes