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Tales of the Orient
April 20th, 2012

04/20- 21:00PM JST

Hail and well met! Wheels is off this week, so I volunteered to answer any burning questions you all might have. Let's get this party started.

The Letters
Dungeon Crawling

Hello Gaijin,

I hope you have been doing well. I don't believe I've said this before, so congrats on the new classroom! As I feel the need to send in at least one letter to any of RPGamer's Q&A hosts, even if he/she is just filling in, here it is. As often, these will be two or more random questions, so I hope you won't mind.


This column exists for random questions, doesn't it?

First, something Japan-related. Are there only a few names that are exclusively male or female in Japanese? Going by anime and manga in which cross-dressing is involved, this seems to be the case, as no one will bat an eye at a character named something that I previously thought was specifically male or female. A female gym teacher named Hibiki? No problem there. A transfer student from America attending an all-boys school named Mizuki? Yeah, that's not strange. Even without the cross-dressing, I encounter several characters with name that are apparently unisex. Maybe it's just not as big a distinction in Japan as it is in western countries? I completely understand if this is just a convenience thing or for comedy's sake in manga and anime, but I'd thought I'd ask.


There is a set group of kanji in Japanese that are allowed for names, and among these there are definite male and female only name components, and several conventions that apply when putting them together. For example, very rarely will you see a girl's name that is longer than three Japanese syllable characters. Like, I can only think of three examples. The first, Sakurako, is semi-common (I've had three students with this name), and as it's based off the flower there's no doubt it's feminine. The other two I've met were a little odd, and I don't know what their parents were thinking.

In general, there are certain name endings that are gender-specific, but they can be easily confused. For example, -ko is a definite female name ending, but -hiko is a male name ending. But as I said, male names are often more than three syllables long, so it's not usually too confusing. The -ki and -mi endings are a bit more fluid, at least in part because of kanji. I can think of several different symbols that would make a name end in -ki (or rather, -zuki), and while most of them are definitely for girls, others are more unisex. A few definite boys names that end in -ki are Haruki, Masaki, and Tomoki. The name you mentioned, Mizuki, is more confusing than normal because it can also be a surname. I think I've seen Hibiki as a surname as well, but my personal baby name dictionary lists it as predominantly male but occasionally unisex. The -mi ending is also feminine ninety percent of the time, but occasionally you'll see a man with a name like Hiromi. This is the equivalent of naming a boy Leslie, Ashley, or Courtney in English. Yes, they used to be boys' names (my great-grandfather was a Leslie, in fact), but you rarely see them as such these days. One last name ending that can be confusing is -to. This is usually a masculine ending, but it can be easily confused with -oto, which is a feminine ending, and for that matter some girls just use the normally masculine kanji anyway.

Endings that are definitely boy-only include -masa, -ichi, -ji, -hiro, -rou, and -o (or -wo, if the guy's an octogenarian or older). Names that are still potentially gender-neutral include Akira, Amane, Aoi, Satori, or shortened forms like Yuu and Yui.

Okay, I know I need to stop when one answer gets to be longer than the entire letter. Moving on!

What is your favorite Pokemon? You can list a bunch, or list one from each generation if you'd like. My absolute favorite is Lugia and going in order of generations (other than the second), there's Charizard, Absol, Lucario, and Zoroark.


Need you ask?

And lastly, what song or music piece from a video game is either currently stuck in you head, or was last stuck in your head? Maybe you're the lucky sort who doesn't get music stuck in his head? I ask this because for days I've had "Ballad of the Goddess" from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on repeat in my brain. It's a fantastic piece, but no matter how good a song is, having it stuck in your head can get a bit irritating.

And that's all from me. Sorry for the randomness, and thanks so much for reading.

-Strawberry Eggs


Never apologize for randomness!

As for music, I usually have tracks running in my head from whatever my game of the moment is. That's one way I measure up the music score for a review, in fact. In my off time, I often have some game remix playing through, though this song has been making the rounds as well:

Might Reviews Right?

Dear: Wheels / Michael "Gaijin" Baker

Do you agree to penalize the score of a console game cuz it can't keep up with its pc counterpart (ie. The Witcher 2 EE /mass effect/skyrim/crysis/bf/etc)? If yes, why is that? in my point of view, a game score should not be penalized for something it can't do. There must be, a very justified reason to apply the penalty and not just some minimal screen tearing. If no, then what is your personal point of view of those, who often do this?

Do you think is possible to join with the gaming media community to create an "Allied Press Ethical Reviewers" code or something like it...

Am i wrong???

-- Alexis


PS. if you're wondering, why i ask, is cuz of the ign review of the witcher 2.


I'm a bit on the fence about this one, myself. In the end, it really should come down to overall playability. If you compare the two versions of Final Fantasy XIII, there's a definite difference in graphical quality, but at the same time that by itself wouldn't make me give a lower score to the 360 version or a higher one to the PS3 version (any arguments over the actual quality of the game overall are a different matter). On the other hand, there are instances such as Bayonetta, where the PS3 version had issues with handling and control that were significant enough for Famitsu to give that game two very different review scores for the PS3 and 360.

I know some gamers really get into a perfectionist mindset when it comes to graphics, but not I (or at least, I try not to). When dealing with multiple platform releases or major game ports, it's really too easy to fall into a version of the cupcake fallacy, because as you said, there are simply things that some systems cannot do. If it's only a matter of the graphics not being as pristine, I have to ask "But aren't they pretty anyway?" One of the fun things about the English language is that when we make comparisons, it's still possible for something to be "good" and "worse" at the same time. Massive, insane bug-ups in the graphical department are a whole different story, of course, as is anything to do with the controls of the game.

The same thing goes for system-specific features or DLC. Unless they really, truly impact the game experience in a significant manner, I won't factor them into a review. For example, I'm playing the PSX port of Soul Hackers (originally for the Saturn). The videos are a little grainier and I don't have one or two minor options available, while at the same time I've gained a PocketStation mini-game. Are any of these important in the grand scheme of things? No. Would they affect my review scores? Only if they were made essential for playing that version of the game, and then I'd probably take them as a negative.

Finally, I just read through the IGN review for The Witcher 2's 360 version, and while it does make system-specific complaints, it also pretty much implies that these are complaints mainly because the original version was just that damn awesome on a high-end PC. If the review gave an actual low score for graphics I'd be crying foul, but overall it's received an 8.5 on a 10 point scale. Forget the "7/10 is bad" mindset, IGN's own ratings banner states that this score is intended to mean "Great." As a reviewer for a site that strives to use the entirety of the review scale, I can approve of this score. And let's not forget that the PC and 360 reviews were written by two different people, which puts yet another variable into the overall scoring. Some people are just more reluctant to give the highest possible score for anything. If it had been the same person penning both, I'd be more suspicious at the half-point overall drop, but in this case I can tell from the review that both reviewers thought this game was plain awesome.

Also, in order for such code as you suggested to exist, the entire body of games reviewers would first have to agree on who they all actually are, then agree that they actually do the same job, and then agree that they all actually want to be seen together, and then get their collective heads together to decide what constitutes professionalism in this often informal and slapdash community that is known as gaming journalism. The problem is, there aren't enough "professional" (as in, paid) game reviewers, but there are plenty of people who like posting stuff on the internet in order to get attention. In the end, it's just not going to happen because there's no central position for everyone to work from.

Thanks for writing in!


Well that's it for this week! I'd like to thank Strawberry and Alexis for writing in. If you don't like my answers, be sure to bug Wheels about it! Or maybe just send a letter over to the Culture Corner. I sweep it every week, but the cobwebs keep piling up....


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