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ASK MICHAEL
Sweet Cuppin' Cakes September 3, 2005

Michael Wyatt - 18:07 EST

I WANT TO start off with a link to RPGamer's Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief before I start off the column. I know it's pretty prominent on the main site, but every little bit helps. But, alas, the show must go on, and on it shall go.

I get the unique chance to not only start off week one's RPGamer Idol, I get to finish off week two. I like to think of myself as the contest's bookends: the Q&A columns of the last two weeks are sweetly nestled between the two bosoms that are my columns. That's right, picture the column resting gently in my man-breasts as I start the column.

Why yes, that last paragraph was there only to gross you out. How deft of you to notice!




L E T T E R S
Worst. RPG. Ever. (and other stuff)


Yo, um, I don't know who does the column anymore. I haven't been to rpgamer in awhile (i have this funny habit of checking a news-type site WAY too much in a short span of time, then instead of just checking it a little less, I stop checking it alltogether because I forget to and then when I finally remember it's been weeks if not more) and it seems that there's a new guy besides Andrew and Googs? Or did Googs leave too? I don't know anymore, so yeah, to whoever gets this.

MICHAEL

It is exceedingly complicated, but without getting into the quarrels over paternity rights and alimony payments, I suggest you pick up your reading right about here. Long story short, we're having a contest and you need to vote for me or kittens will die.

Um, well, they will die at some point. All things die. I don't plan on killing them.

*weep* Have a kitty.

The last QNA touched on CT being the best RPG ever and Beyond the Beyond being the worst. I'd have to agree on CT being the best, and espeically about the music and Magus being the coolest character ever. Beyond the Beyond was really really bad, but I'm not sure if it's the worst ever. Even though it's not a traditional RPG, Vandal Hearts 2 was pretty rancid. Sucks because Vandal Hearts 1 was one of the coolest games I ever played (something about that blood squirting upon kills).
MICHAEL

Saying the "worst ever" is hard to do, because often the worst thing is rarely memorable. Sure, everyone talks about how bad Gigli is, but who has actually seen it? Beyond the Beyond is that way. A lot have trashed it. Few have played it.

My personal vote for "worst RPG ever" has to go to 7th Saga. Some people love it, but most people don't. Some people are insane, too.

Uh, questions...okay, Suikodens 1 and 2 were AWESOME, two of the best RPGs ever made (I kinda lump them together into 1 RPG) and I loved Suikoden 3 as well. Lots of people didn't like it and true, there were a few things that were kinda iffy about it, but as a whole the experience of playing that game was utterly rad. So yeah, I got Suikoden 4 but haven't played it really yet, just a few hours and then got into something else. I read really bad reviews about it and was wondering what your take on it was? I'm asking cause Suikoden Tactics looks badass and I'm very much looking forward to it and it's supposed to have characters from Suikoden 4.

MICHAEL

Most reviewers have agreed that Suikoden IV is a definite step back from III, but the overall feeling of the game is... Suikodenish. That is to say, character development is next to nill, but the gameplay satisfies many. The good news is that this baby runs $19.95 here in the United States these days, making this a good buy for the RPGamer on a budget. I wouldn't expect a classic, but saying that you'll get your money's worth isn't a stretch for most players.

Um, whats your take on Radiata Stories? Looks pretty cool, but I don't want to know too much about the story or nothing (I actually don't like things spoiled, imagine that).

How about that new Lunar game? I loved Silver Star and Eternal Blue (Was that the name of the second one?) anyways, that one was fun too. I'm looking forward to a brand new one on the DS (DS rocks).

MICHAEL

Roku's review of Radiata Stories seems pretty spoiler-free, but Ian's preview of Lunar Dragon Song might contain a few things to avoid. Honestly, neither of these games are interesting me very much. I'd have to hear some pretty glowing things about either of them from multiple sources before I pondered picking them up. Radiata just doesn't seem to, well, look interesting, and many have complained of Lunar DS's gimmicky nature. Give Roku's review a look over for Radiata Stories, though. That's recommended.

I'm finally playing Shadow Hearts: Covenant. I bought Koudelka and Shadow Hearts right before Covenant came out and played them both through, so by the time I got to Covenant I was a tad burnt out on the RPG thing. Covenant is freaking badass, an amazing RPG. But what about this new one that's gonna come out? Any thoughts? And how'd you like the rest of the series?

Uh, I guess that's it. A lot of questions to make up for lost time.

The man, the myth, the legend
Gryph
MICHAEL

I passed on Koudelka when it came out due to its short length. Bad move. Now that Shadow Hearts and SH:C are out, of course, I have realized that this was probably a mistake; the series is rockin'. Information I've read on Shadow Hearts: From the New World seems kinda iffy on whether it's an improvement (many sources are saying no), but considering what a powerhouse the franchise is turning into, I'm going to give it the benefit of a doubt and say that I'm looking forward to it for now. Cautiously optimistic, you might say. People say that Disgaea was funny, but Shadow Hearts: Covenant was far more entertaining. And the ending? I don't want to create spoilers, but that was very well done, in my ever-so-humble opinion. Now excuse me while I go dance with my dogwolf.



Player Wants PlayStation Priorities Put in Proper Position


Hey contestant,

I used to be a bit of a nintendo fanboy, so I never got around to buying a PS1 when they were new. My friend recently lent me his old Playstation with the following games (none of which I have played before):

Chrono Cross
FF 7
FF Anthology (5 & 6)
FF Tactics
Lunar: Silver Star Story
Parasite Eve
Suikoden
Vagrant Story
Wild Arms (1 & 2)
and Brave Fencer Musashi

My question for you is which game should I play first? I'm a relative newcomer to the RPG scene (I've only played Chrono Trigger, the Zeldas, and the Mario RPGs), so which game would be a good way to break into the genre? I was thinking Chrono Cross, but I've heard that it isn't as good as Chrono Trigger. Any advice is appreciated!

Scott


MICHAEL

Alright pardner, let's slow down a bit and take these one at a time:

Chrono Cross: Of course it's not as good as Chrono Trigger. Nothing is as good as Chrono Trigger. I'd call CC a good, but not great game, with an *ahem* unique battle system. Save it until you want something different to play.
Final Fantasy V-VII: I didn't much care for the remakes of FF5 and FF6 for the PS, as they play kind of, well, slow. FF7 is a classic, however. Hard to go wrong starting off there.
Final Fantasy Tactics: A real classic Tactical RPG. Fairly different than the rest of your list.
Lunar:SSSC: How would you feel about a game with a ho-hum storyline, outdated graphics, and a poor battle system? You'd probably pass, but throw in a great translation and my favorite villain ever and you come out with something salvageable.
Parasite Eve: Parasite Eve isn't an RPG per-se, but it's close. I'd throw it somewhere in the middle to break up the RPGfest so you don't get burned out.
Suikoden and Vagrant Story: Um, how mad would your friend be if you "lost" those games? Would it be worth it to you to "accidentally" send them to me? Some money could "theoretically" find its way to you. E-mail me!
Wild Arms 1&2: I can just about guarantee that you'll either love these games or hate them. Me? I don't like them so much. Don't discount them for that, though.
Brave Fencer Musashi: Actually, this is probably a good one to ease you into playing a ton of RPGs. It has great reviews, and is lighthearted enough to not get you bogged down early. Start here.



Finally, A Short One!


What do you think are the chances of us seeing Grandia III in the states?

J.W.


MICHAEL

I would be shocked (shocked, I say!) if it didn't make the trip overseas. It's never a sure thing, of course, but if there's a translation in the works, information on it should be arriving in the near future.



Someone Else Wants My Game Opinions? Exclamation Point!


Dearest QnA contestant,

I'm usually not a fan of QnA columns, but this little contest intrigued me. So I decided that this is as good a time as any to ask a question. And congratulations to everyone who made it past round one.

Anyway... the question. I'm pretty new to playing rpgs, especially compared to those who have played them for a decade or more. All I've really ever had a chance to play was these new fangled graphic intensive games. There have been some good ones too, but something tells me I'm missing something from my rpg experience.
MICHAEL

Bwahahaha! Everyone point and laugh at the n00b who has been playing for less than 10 years! Let's talk about the gold old days of video games! Let's start conversations with complicated menus and poor translations! And! ... um, primitive music in the background? Yeah, ran out of steam on that one.


So basically, I'm wondering if there were a couple games you could suggest that are a bit more old school than, let's say, the games of the last 5 years. The older the better.

Good luck.

-ADB


MICHAEL

Here's a quick list of some great RPGs of the late 20th century. These aren't the best ones, mind you. Anyone can say "go play Final Fantasy Something!" or "Chrono Trigger!", but here are a few that a new gamer is most likely missing out on:

Crystalis (Capcom, 1990): Crystalis is best described as the bastard child of an RPG and the Legend of Zelda. Anyone with a Nintendo has no excuse for missing out on this gem. There was a remake that I'm afraid I didn't get a chance to play.
Shining Force II (Sega, 1994): An excellent game, particularly for fans of Tactical RPGs. Know your roots.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (Neverland, 1995): A classic RPG with a heavy emphasis on puzzles. A prequel to the extremely inferior Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, this one holds up very well.
Breath of Fire III (Capcom, 1998): Parked right in the middle of Capcom's popular Breath of Fire series, the third installment often goes overlooked. Don't make the same mistake; try this one out.
Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven (3D0, 1998): An excellent first-person RPG of the fabled Might and Magic series. Though not the most polished of the series, Mandate of Heaven goes far more in-depth than later installments, with some seriously epic dungeons.
Planescape: Torment (Black Isle Studios, 1999): The best game ever made using the Dungeons and Dragons license, Planescape: Torment offers an extremely complex and well-written story that will leave you wanting more. Black Isle Studios also made the *very* highly acclaimed Fallout series, but I personally prefer Planescape.



It's, Um, Too Advanced?


Hey, whoever this is.

I was just wondering why the Advance Wars series isn't on the list in this site. It is, technically, an RPG. It is a tun-based strategy to be exact. Most of which are considered RPGs (Fire Emblem, for instance).


MICHAEL

Not being staff on this site (yet, hint hint voters), I can't really say. What I can say, though, is that you make a solid point. Advance Wars may be heavy on the tactics and light on the RPG, but so are a lot of other games here. Maybe it just gets the slight because it's modern rather than fantasy.

This does give me a good chance to plug the series, though. If you've ever played Fire Emblem and thought to yourself "you know, self, this is a great game, but there just aren't enough tanks and helicopters in it," then this series is for you. Advance Wars Dual Strike for the Nintendo DS is one of the most highly rated games out right now of any platform, let alone handheld. Any DS owner is foolish to pass up on it.



C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Holy carp were there some long ones in there. One of my devoted fans sent me a link. I'm really not sure if he was trying to be friendly or if he was hitting on me. Seriously, is that supposed to be one of the perks of this job? I'm picturing some deranged fan lurking outside my house wearing one of those things. I'm getting out of here before I get any more weird e-mail.


Michael W. is a one spicy a meatball!


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