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ASK MICHAEL
Mojo Risin' September 7, 2005

Michael Wyatt - 22:25 EST

SO IT'S WEEK THREE, or as I like to call it, Disc 3, and I'm still hanging around. Some of you are disappointed, and some of you are cheering me on. Probably more in that first thing, the whatchama. Having narrowly avoided defeat in Weeks 1 and 2, I wear the mantle of the underdog once more. Hey, nobody ever said the life of a Q&A host would be glamorous!

On to this week's column, where I discuss the finer points of... um... well, to be honest, I haven't figured that out yet. I guess we'll both be surprised. Who knows, there might even be a crack at sexism somewhere in there. Hurrah. No, wait, there's not.




L E T T E R S
More opinions, yay!


Hello whoever-you-are.
MICHAEL


Uh, I do believe that I said my name was HomestMichael. But I'll let that pass!

I have a PS2 and I want to expand my collection a bit. So I'm thinking of getting Radiata Stories since I heard it was good and I like Tri-Ace stuff. I also want another RPG and I need a reccomendation. I like the FF series (not very original, I know), Chrono Cross, Xenosaga series, Star Ocean, Front Mission 3, I liked Dark Cloud 2. I like tactical RPGs too. I don't need any of Nippon Ichi's strategy stuff (a friend has them) and I already have Shadow Hearts (and said friend has SH:Covenent, too).

So what do you say? I heard nice things about Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana but also saw some good revies for Digital Devil Saga. Anything else I just happened to forget?

Zohar Gilboa
MICHAEL


It sounds like you've hit all the major stuff, but are looking to branch out some. I think I've stated before that my personal opinion of Radiata Stories is pretty "meh," but that's my opinion of most things that Tri-Ace puts out (I find the Star Ocean series to be overrated). If Tri-Ace really does float your boat, though, it might be a good one for you to take a good look at.

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana is a chronically above-average game; everything about it is fairly well done, but it doesn't strike me as a truly exceptional game, particularly with the sound glitches. Unless the series really takes off, people will be saying "What Iris?" in a few years. I mean US/Canada side, that is. This might be a good game to wait for a price reduction on.

I wonder if you're into more action-orientated RPGs? It seems to be the only kind of RPG that you're missing from the list of great titles you already have. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath might be up your alley. The .hack// series (.hack//INFECTION, .hack//MUTATION, .hack//OUTBREAK, and .hack//QUARANTINE), while not universally loved, is just old enough to be a cheap pickup at the game store, too.



Get with the times, yo!


Yo,

I have recently started playing Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and I must say it is one of the more innovative games I have seen in years. I haven't quite made up my mind on whether or not it's innovation is actually good yet, but it is certainly refreshing to have to restart the game several times in order to just get through the first dungeon, among other things. Have you played this game, and if so, what are your thoughts? And besides Dragon Quarter, what do you consider to be one of the more innovative games that you have played?

-Simon, Red Raven


MICHAEL

Ah, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. Yes, innovative is a word that could be used with its battle system. It really is a pity that a monster company like Capcom has its RPG offerings so often ignored; the Breath of Fire series really should be more well-known than it is. Spread the word, brotha.

I think Chrono Cross was a very innovative game. That said, it was the innovative parts that people mostly hated. Innovative isn't always a good thing. Xenogears was hugely ground-breaking; I think BoF:DQ owes a little nod of appreciation toward XG. Lastly, I think Super Mario RPG told the world that, hey, you don't have to be so serious. Sure, games previous to Super Mario RPG did this (*cough*Earthbound*cough*), but nobody said it to such a wide audience before our favorite Italian plumber.



Busy Beaver Craves Concise RPG


Q&A Contestant,

Mr. Miyamoto recently commented on the length and complexity of games nowadays. He seemed to prefer shorter and simpler games. Having been initiated to video games by the Atari 2600 some 18 years ago, I have to agree with him on a certain level. I'm studying physics at the university level, I have a part-time job in a hospital, I do karate, I teach kids: let's face it, I just don't have as much time to play games today as I had back in high school. It took me about a month to complete Final Fantasy X because I couldn't put more than 2 hours a day on it. I find myself more and more wishing for short games that you can pick up and have fun in just a couple hours of gameplay. Of course, every now and then, I'm willing to pick up a lengthy RPG, but... it only happened twice in the last 12 months, as opposed to several times during my high school years.

How about you?

Cheers,
Marc


MICHAEL

I can certainly sympathize. I work full-time, go to night school, attempt to study for law school, and have been doing a Q&A column. Plus there's the table-top gaming to worry about. When did playing RPGs become such a time-sink?

Before I get too far into this topic, I want to take this chance to point out an addictive pseudo-RPG called Mount&Blade. Not only do I love this game, but it's something I can put down for a while and pick right back up on. It's got a trial version, so give it a play. I encourage those of you without tons of time for RPGs to give it a look, too.

The shorter games are out there, but they never seem to make it to household, blockbuster games. A previous reader mentioned Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, as good example for a highly-rated shortie. I think that Guildwars might not be a bad game to look into (if you've got a PC). It may be an MMO, but no monthly fees mean you don't feel obligated to play for what you've paid, and it's a lot more laid back than the level-level-level atmosphere many MMORPGs provide.

In the end, though, I do agree with you. While I still do prefer lengthy, epic RPGs with twisting plots and tremendously in-depth characters, sometimes it's good to be able to plug something in and play just to relax. Gaming may be a lifestyle for some, but many people want to keep it just a hobby. There may be a niche market for those gearing games towards hobbyists.



So many games, so little time (didn't I just do this?)


Lately, I been reading the old editorials, and to my surprise, FF7 seem to have make quite a debate, about character development, the ending, racist... What do you think about all of it, and do you think todays games are getting beter or worst at dealing with content that could be seen as "taboo", like the religion on FFT and Xenogears?
MICHAEL

I honestly feel that the Super Nintendo and PlayStation eras for RPGs will be known a golden era of games. A part of being in a golden area, though, is being a little backwards and ignorant. The games you mentioned made some silly mistakes in the politically correct game, but who can blame 'em? Just as games today will be looked at with disdain, as society evolves, its history inevitably cannot.

But me, personally? Final Fantasy Tactics and Xenogears are both on my top 5 RPGs list, and Final Fantasy VII only barely missed the cut. Politically correct? Hells no! Great, great games, though.

Secondly, could you give me some tip on how to stay focus on one game and finish it, I have been curse, can't stay away from news games, and with the short time I have usually to play game, there a least 2-3 new games I want to buy and I still in the middle in the one I am playing.... So I have lot of game that I start, but not so much that I finish!! For exemple, I think I just finish my first PS2 game, Grandia2, not so long ago, maybe I am too much of a perfectionnist and want to find and see everything in the game, that why it take me so much time! now I been trying to finish Tale of destiny, Xenogear, Atelier Iris, Disgaea, FFIX and FFX... I have around 20 hours of play time in each on these games! So I am the only one that do that of I am almost normal?

hope you have fun anwsering my questions
Ombres


MICHAEL

Alright, this tip probably won't be the one most people will tell you, but it's this: buy every game you really want. Every. Single. One.

That's what I do. I just won't let myself unwrap them until I'm done with all my other games. Makai Kingdom is sitting in its sweet little wrapper, waiting for me to finish Tales of Symphonia. Shadow Hearts (1, yay! Finally found it) is in line after that. After Shadow Hearts, who knows? But I'm sure I'll buy something to pick it up soon. Dragon Quest 8 looks miiighty tempting.

After you've played a few games with those sad, unplayed game boxes looking at you in the face every day, you'll learn some discipline.



... Mommy!


First time writer here. First and foremost I have to wonder, what do others write as subject lines in these e-mails, anyway?
MICHAEL

Most of them are pretty boring. Your "QnA... Q" was by far the cream of the crop, comedy-wise. Is it really too much to ask for a little fun from the readers? I cannot believe I'm forced to work under these conditions.

As for a real RPG question... where is Mother 3? Mother 1 was made in the 80's and appropriately set in 198X. Mother 2/Earthbound was made in the 90's and set in 199X. Well, we're halfway through this decade already and we need the trend to continue! What do you think, will there be a Mother 3 set in 200X? And if not, for the love of cake, WHY NOT?!?

Good luck with the rest of the contest!


MICHAEL

Can't find any info on Mother/Earthbound 3? Well, take a quick look over here! You may scoff at how little information has RPGamer on Mo3, but it beats nearly every other game site out there, hands down. There was a big to-do about Mother 3 seeing an N64 release... that never happened. Then, it was big news with a Gameboy Advance release!... that never happened. And least not yet, and it seems kind of slim odds at this point. Petitions have gone around asking for a Gamecube release. Obviously ineffective, at least to this point.

It's not like talk of Mother 3 is completely unofficial. Real press releases were written. Real developers were developing. Real mothers were... well, let's not get into that one. Especially with Nintendo's inclusion of Ness in its Super Smash Brothers series, you know Nintendo sees the potential. Large companies can be frustrating in their inability to move with the marketplace. I won't get too business theoretical on you, but Nintendo not tapping the Earthbound series is fairly unsurprising from a cynical point of view. I'm a cynic.

Hmm... I think Sam needs to leap into a Nintendo developer, with the goal of finishing Mother 3 once and for all. Al could be there feeding him lines of code from Ziggy! Oh, the high jinks that could be had.



Congratulations!


Q&A host

In Final Fantasy X-2 are there multiple endings and I just got the crappy one with no real storyline conclusion.

I have recently started playing Final Fantasy 9 just because I didn't want it to end up being the only FF game that I hadn't played through. I'm at the part on the third disc when you need to put the 4 mirrors in certain places to go to Terra. Is the fourth disc really short, I'm talkin about super short, like all the fourth disc is just the last bosses dungeon short. If its not then I need you to tell me that its worth it to beat the game. Due to the games overall badness I've decided to not consider it a true FF game, but I will finish it if the ending is so cool that I've gotta see it. The only character I'm even remotely interested in is Vivi, so far the story is extremely boring and there has been no character development. Just tell me that all that changes on the fourth disc, or that I should just toss the game in my attic and forget about it.

thank you


MICHAEL

On Final Fantasy X-2: No, there are not multiple endings per se, but there are slight differences in the ending, depending on how you played the game. Don't worry, you didn't miss much.

On Final Fantasy IX: I say attic the sucker! Disc 4 is pretty short (as I recall), but 9 is my least favorite of the FFs. I completely agree that none of the characters are likeable (hell, I didn't even like Vivi), and Zidane copping a feel on Garnet was blasphemy. I wanted FF9 to work, I really did. I thought all the "old school" hype might be excellent. The only thing old about it was the smell, though.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Well, I think it's about time to wrap up this column.


Stratos
I think not. This Q&A Column serves me.

What?!


Stratos
This entire contest was of my own invention. I knew the other contestants would turn on each other one by one. But I will admit that you had your uses. I simply could not have done it without you, exactly as I anticipated. I shall name a column after you when you're gone.

Michael Wyatt has been betrayed by Stratos!


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