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The Beginning is the End is the Beginning September 9th, 2005

Steven "Z Force" Zimmerman - 00:00 EST

SO HERE I AM for week three, proving once and for all that the QnA audience is filled with masochistic emo kids that enjoy it when some random stranger sucker punches their ego and mutilates their self-esteem.

By the way, it’s nice that you guys send such massive letters that require such lengthy responses, but when I start writing more for this column than I do in my English classes, there is something wrong. If I’m still here next week, and if you guys send me the proper material, I will resurrect the quickies. That’s my campaign promise to you.

/Cheap “vote for me” gimmick. Not that I want your votes. //Reverse psychology.

FF7 gets more spin-offs than Joan Rivers gets face lifts...


The ps2 had a ton of rpg's in its lifetime, and some really good ones too. However, none of them were as good, or as innovative, as the ones on the ps1. Having said that, i find that a large number of rpg's these days follow the typical template, and if a game tries to do something different, it usually isnt received well. Is innovation in RPG's dead? Sure, each rpg has some small thing "innovative", but it barely features in the overall scheme of things. MY favorite rpg's in the snes and ps1 era were chrono trigger and cross respectively, because they were innovative and fun with a great story. Such was also the case with valkyrie profile. Why do we not see similar games nowadays (barring very few exceptions like dragon quarter)?

Another question i had was about square enix's recent ff7 revival efforts. Much hype has been made about it, and i am personally very excited about the movie. However, I was unimpressed with the games. As a sequel to an rpg we have a run of the mill shooter and a mobile shooter game? This seems to me as just an effort to milk the franchise for all its worth. Where is the true ff7 sequel? Surely they could put some funds in that instead of putting out extremely generic shooter games!

My third (dont worry, its the last ^_^) question has to do with the xenosaga sequel. Much has been mode of soraya leaving the team, and imho, the chances of a xenosaga 3 are seeming more and more remote. This especially sucks as xenosaga 2 left us on a complete cliffhanger. Any chance of american audiences getting to see xenosaga 3 (if it exists) before 2008?

Best of luck to the contestants!



If I can offer you once piece of advice, this would be it…

Most games in most genres follow the “typical template,” and whenever some new game goes out of the way to be totally awesome, that game becomes the NEW template, and a bunch of really crappy clones come out to water down and milk the concept until nobody cares anymore. Although it isn’t an RPG, take a look at Devil May Cry 1: it was new and original and a smash hit, and since then, the idea of a “fast and stylish action game” has been copied, cloned, ripped off, watered down, and beaten to a pulp for the past four years.

Next: here comes the rant. Chrono Trigger, as I have already proven through extensive scientific experimentation and analysis, is the greatest game of all time, so I give you a “thumbs up!” for that. Chrono Cross, on the other hand, is one of the biggest letdowns in the history of gaming, and so not only am I going to give you a “thumbs down!,” but I’m taking back my previous “thumb’s up!” and gouging out your eyes with it. What do you think was innovative about CC? You could have 40 characters? Suikoden has that, and more. You could go back and forth between two parallel worlds? A Link to the Past did it first, and did it better. Killing off the main characters of the first game without ceremony before the sequel even begins!? That’s not the sort of innovation I want!

As for your last two questions: I am looking forward to Advent Children, but I’d be looking forward to it a lot more if it were the opening cinematic of a true sequel. I’d also accept a remake of FF7 with some basic graphical and gameplay improvements for the PS3, much like that demo that Square did for E3. I do not want a bunch of boring spin-offs, and I won’t play any of them. Xenosaga 3? I'm almost positive that it will come out before 2008, but I'm in no position to tell you whether or not it will live up to the first two. But if you ask me… which you did… both ‘sagas are awful when compared to ‘gears, so I won’t lose sleep waiting for a sequel.

Look ma, I'm lip synching! Just like Ashlee Simpson!

Well, I took work off at the old golf course this morning so I thought I'd write a letter into the good forum here at bein' the long time reader that I've been. So here goes.

To whom it may concern (honestly),

I'm really concerned about the voice acting in Final Fantasy XII. Is anyone else? So my question is, what is the possibility that Square will actually shell out a little extra dough for some reasonably decent localization skills? Because I have to tell you, I highly enjoyed FFX as much as the next guy, but I just don't believe that voice acting should have such a terrible quality inside a reasonably decent story in the Final Fantasy universe that was awesome. Straight-Up summoning style, with a great ability system and fast play. But when Tidus screams like a girl, what's up with that? I'm really looking forward to FFXII only because a lot of the same team that worked on Vagrant Story and Tactics is working on it. All those fellas from Quest I believe. That's pretty close to the only game I'm really looking forward to lately. Maybe Resident Evil 5, but that's so far down the line...

And second, I just have a comment for the kid who couldn't figure out why everyone loves Chrono Trigger so much. Because it's straight 32-bit gold kiddo. Near 100's of combinations of spells, equips, and secrets. Half the game is optional side quests, music that is seldom matached today, different paths to travel at different times, and not last, and not least, 10 different endings. Long live CT!



I never look forward to a game with voice acting, because they always disappoint me. When I am reading the dialogue in a game without voice acting, I automatically give the main character my sexy voice, a voice so beautiful that it could make an angel cry, and then I give all the hot girls on my team the voice of Natalie Portman. All of them. So when companies use sub-par voice acting, it totally ruins my fantasy. If they insist on having voice acting, I wish they would make it optional, or at least leave in the option to turn on the original Japanese voices, so I can pretend that my beautiful Miss Portman is speaking to me in gibberish. That’s so hot.

I am wary of FFXII, and not because of the voice acting. It has taken a ridiculous amount of time to get out the door, has had all sorts difficulties with the staff and the director, is a strange hybrid of new innovation and past material (IE: the world of Ivalice, Tactics Advance races, etc…), and we still have no concrete idea of what it’s all about. I just hope that Square is letting us squirm in our chairs so they can surprise us with the best Final Fantasy game in years, but I’m not holding my breath.

By the way, thanks for defending CT. When I seize power in the violent coup d’etat to come, I will appoint you as my “Minister of Defending the Awesome,” and I will grant you full authority to smack down any CT trash-talking heathens.

Strategery. Lockbox.

Hiyo, Q&A Host-of-the-Day (who is most likely ZForce),

I finally came up with a pretty interesting question:

How has your RPG-playing strategy changed as you've gotten older? It sounds like a boring question, but I'll try to flesh it out a bit (though hopefully you can do a better job):

After recently revisiting some SNES classics on my PSP (thank you, KXPloit team ;D), I've come to realize that many of those items you use in battle have distinct and helpful purposes. Instead of obliterating tough monsters and bosses with the most spectacular fireworks display I can muster, I'm finding myself using a bit more strategy.

So... think about it. Remember back when you were a wee lad of elementary/middle school age when Final Fantasy II for SNES first came out. Do you notice a difference between now and then, as to your battle strategy?

Also, do you think I should get Radiata Stories!?!??! (Just kidding, I preordered it a few weeks ago... it arrives tomorrow. ;D)




When I was a plucky young middle schooler, my RPGaming strategy was always “dash through the dungeon as quickly as possible, don’t go looting, run from all the battles, and fight the boss with 100% of your health, items, and magic.” This, obviously, kept me from leveling up and acquiring new items and I was often beat down rather viciously. I blame Phantasy Star IV for that bad habit: the bosses in that game were impossible to begin with, and even worse if you wasted all your energy just trying to get to them.

As I got older, I became more and more obsessed with “100%” game saves. That is: getting every item, acquiring every skill, and doing every side quest. No longer would I just obliterate all my enemies in Final Fantasy Tactics… now I would obliterate all but one of them, absorb the crystals of my slain foes, then sit around and beat on my own team to level up for an extra 30 minutes. No longer would I dash through a dungeon to fight the boss… now I would loot and plunder like a villain on Captain Planet.

The only problem with this strategy is that you become too powerful, and by the end of the game, you are bored. When I was playing TES3: Morrowind, I had every item and every skill and could kill any enemy in one hit before I even started the “main quest.” In Disgaea, I had an army of uber-powerful Majins half way through the game, and wasn’t motivated to play the rest because the game had become a snooze-fest.

As for Radiata Stories, I commend you for making a decision without my input, but make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Hey buddy, I'll be the one making the recommendations around here...

To help out those that are wondering about AI: Eternal Mana... To put it simply, don't bother. The story is garbage and the combat is dull. But you know, if you're into torturing yourself, go right ahead.

As for my question, why do you think Shadow Hearts hasn't gained mainstream attention yet? I have heard nothing but good things about the game series, and I personally think it has offered more excellence then anything that's come out of the Final Fantasy franchise in a very long time.



Most of the reviews I have looked up for AI:EM are above average, in the 75% range. But if you would like to argue that everyone else is stupid and you are a genius, feel free to submit a user review to RPGamer’s PoV Department.

Some games just never acquire the mainstream attention they deserve. Maybe the developer didn’t have enough advertising money, maybe they didn’t produce enough copies, maybe they released their game the same week as something more popular, or maybe their cover art just sucks and fails to catch your eye… who knows. But hey, word of mouth is a pretty effective advertising tool, so feel free to spread your love of Shadow Hearts like the flu until all your friends are contaminated with it and hate your guts.

Don't drink and QnA, folks...

I'd like to start by telling everyone that Radiata stories is awesome and hillarious and they should all go buy it now!

Also, wherever Matt is, Im not voting for you! *sticks out tongue*

Anywho, I have a question, although Im just throwing this in, I really just wanted to get it through that Radiata Stories r0x0r5.

Anyway, I came in 5th in that contest majiger and I never got any email about it...



Your email is an abortion of coherent thought. You fail to include the promised question, you provide an unsubstantiated claim that Radiata Stories is awesome, you spell as if you had a seizure at the keyboard, and you spoke in the forbidden language of l33t. The internets are serious business, kid…


…and I’m spent. Once again, my genius has blessed everyone who has read my column, making them smarter than they were 20 minutes ago.

On a side note, Folding Tool Heavy Duty and I need to have a little talk. You hear that, you traitor?! If you jump my bandwagon, I swear to Magus that I’ll hunt you down and break your screwdriver, you digital Benedict Arnold! Get your ass back on the bandwagon and stop instigating a mutiny!!!
Z-Force is not afraid to bribe his readers, reward his followers, or kick the naysayers in the shins.

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