|Let's jump right into my second chance writeup for Final
Fantasy X-2 (yes, this brief part is what you've been
Final Fantasy X was a an absolute favorite
game of mine. I loved the characters, ate up the story, and
pretty much reveled in the drama (oh early college years).
So when I heard that a sequel was on the way I was pretty
excited. Sadly it didn't take long for Final Fantasy X-2
to rub me the wrong way. I loved the opening song, that was
easy enough. I couldn't get into the goofy tone of the game
at all though. I wanted drama dang it! The battle system,
neat as it was, didn't jive with me either. I kept trying to
swap between jobs a ton each battle, which succeeded in
slowing everything down, and meanwhile nothing was clicking
for me. The mission structure also left me feeling like I
had no direction. All in all, I just didn't enjoy myself at
So what changed exactly? Well me mostly. That and some
distance from my awe filled play through of Final
Fantasy X left me in a better position to play its
goofy sequel. See goofy has pretty much become my thing
since then. I love goofy! This could be why my appreciation
for Dragon Quest and Paper Mario games has
increased as time has gone on. So needless to say that
element of the game immediately clicked with me this time.
Besides that, I learned to simplify my approach to the
battle system just a bit. I focus on a small number of jobs
for each character to level them up, and don't do a lot of
swapping in battles (except for boss fights when needed).
The music, which I didn't really like at the time, has even
grown on me, especially the menu theme. I'm still not a huge
fan of the mission structure, but found myself having too
much fun to get dragged down by that. All in all, I'm very
glad I gave it another chance. Final Fantasy X-2 is
a great game.
Let's move on to the letters.
This Edition's Contents:
CONTENT PART TRES
Gear shift... what would you say are the chances Dragon
Quest X will cross the ocean now are?
Not too long ago I
might have had a positive answer to this
question, but as it stands the future of the
series in the West seems extremely uncertain.
While missing some of the side entries seemed
harmless at the time, it now looks ominous. I
really don't have any answer for this. My
predictive powers haven't been accurate as of
On a similar tangent... I just got to watch a little of
Super Robot Taisen OG 2, as played by a friend of
mine who bought the thing and then got a lot of help from me
helping guide him through the changes, since the last one he
played was on GBA. Seeing the thing on a flat screen
TV made me gush over how much better it looks than the
YouTube videos I've watched appeared, but of course you now
need to pontificate: will Atlus or someone else localize
it? You know you want it!
The answer is
obvious. It's painful, but it's obvious. That
series is a licensing nightmare, and at PAX East
during a panel with some folks from various
localization outlets even many of the crowd
groaned when the topic of this series was
brought up. Sorry to be a downer, I think that Dragon
Quest question put me in a bad mood. Come
on Nintendo and Square Enix, you seriously can't
sell smiling slimes to the West?
It would appear Sega is doing its best to forget the
Saturn ever happened, and even Treasure's ports of Radiant
Silvergun and Guardian Heroes to XBLA don't
seem to have rescued the company's bottom line. So
here you go: time to wax enthusiastically about all the
Saturn exclusives people will most likely never play without
owning the console. I could do it, sure... but I don't
really need to mention Panzer Dragoon Saga, Albert
Odyssey, Dragon Force, and of course Shining
Force III to get you started. Think of all the
goodies on the system that never came out of Japan - Wachenroder
was good, for instance.
Well let's be fair
here, if you or I had made that monstrosity of a
developer's nightmare machine, we might want to
distance ourselves from it as well. It isn't a
well built console, and obviously emulation can
be a mess because of it. Naturally this means
the system somehow produced a wonderful library
of classics. The system even saw versions of
such things as Tactics Ogre and the
first two Lunar games that never saw
the light of day here. So many great games like
the second and third parts of Shining Force
III and all those fantastic 2D Fighters
from Capcom. A greatest hits line of Saturn
games from Sega would be full of many wonders.
Doesn't seem likely at the moment though. While
we're on the subject, why haven't they released
the entire library of Sega CD games in any of
their Genesis collections? Those games don't
require anything special in the emulation
Probably should have asked this earlier, to keep things
thematically strong, but... Dragon Age 2 gets a lot
of flak. How much of it is deserved?
Well, this on top of what I already gave you ought to be
plenty of content to see your stint out. Get crackin'
on those retroviews!
As is often the
case, you should probably take a lot of the
trashing of any modern game with a grain of
salt. That said, the game does have its issues.
The story and setting aren't quite as good as
the original, and graphically many locations are
largely reused. Still, there's some great
characters and fast and fun combat to keep
things going. All in all not a bad game in the
Those retroviews shall arrive post haste!
Mr. Sluice Wheels! I'm making your sendoff far more
involved than you ever expected, I'm sure!
Y'know, with all the letters I've sent, I don't think the
subject of Climax ever came up. So we'd better be sure
to address it now!
Like Landstalker. I didn't love the game,
mostly because anything in which I have to deal with
isometric jumping is impossible for me to unabashedly
love. It's a fairly extensive action title for the
time though, most definitely something that Genesis fans
could point to when trying to come up with good RPG content
on the system, and one that held up pretty well (I played it
about 5-6 years ago for the first time).
It's a fine little
game, though not a classic by any means. Without
much in the way of Zelda-type games for
the system it fit the bill nicely. I always
hoped for a sequel that would continue the
adventures of Nigel. The game certainly had its
issues such as the viewpoint, but it was beefy,
had a very cool opening sequence for the time,
and had a relatively good story as well. I guess
it's good this wasn't a Saturn game as it has
been re-released in various collections. Shame
the remake of it never saw the light of day.
Then came Lady Stalker, which has an awesome
name if you think about it from the perspective of horror
movie producers trying hard to use something
different. Climax gets minus points for actually
naming the lead Lady - I remember exactly one character
named Lady, and she was a cocker spaniel in a certain Disney
movie. Man, did Climax love the isometric viewpoint
too, but at least this one didn't have jumping
puzzles. I could say a lot about it (and I'm trying to
remember specifics), but it was a worthy import.
Someone has probably translated it by now for the internet
audience, SNES action RPGs aren't known for taking a whole
lot of time to localize.
I think it may
have gotten a fan translation, but for some
reason I never got around to this one. Perhaps
with my Retron 5 able to play import games I may
have to grab a copy. That is after playing lots
of Dragon Warrior of course.
After that was Dark Savior, which is not the best
Saturn exclusive but was pretty darn interesting. At
the time I played it, I remember being flabbergasted at
playing a lead character who was - gasp! - 28 years
old! Having since passed that age myself, it doesn't
seem so monumental, but by Japanese standards it's still
pretty interesting. I'm sure you heard of this unique
little morsel, didn't you?
I have partaken of
many hours of that strange game. This is a game
with multiple storylines that are almost
completely different, and they're based on how
quickly you accomplish something in the first
area of the game. I believe one of the
storylines is even completely devoid of combat
(not to mention the combat was bizarre as it
played out much like a fighting game)! A very
strange game to put it mildly. It was
called a spiritual successor to Landstalker
but I didn't really see it aside from a
similar viewpoint and a vaguely similar
Then there was the Dreamcast's item, Time Stalkers.
I hated it at the time, and its mechanics still infuriate me
in retrospect. Seriously, if the only characters other
than your current protagonist are monsters you recruit in
the dungeons, doesn't it stink massively if one of them dies
and then hours of work just vanish because the game takes
deceased members away when you head to a new floor? I
guess it gets credit for stirring enough anger within my
soul that I can clearly recall some of the specifics years
after playing the thing, but that's hardly a
recommendation. You'd have to be pretty hard-up for
Dreamcast RPGs to consider this thing.
The answer to this
is to get a copy of Grandia II for your
Speaking of Dreamcast RPGs, if I had the money I would
attempt something called El Dorado Gate. Capcom put
it out, and instead of making one longer title, the story
was continued by buying new parts of it. The
Dreamcast's commercial death and the general reluctance of
the public to buy a whole new game for not a lot of content
put paid to that idea, but it was forward thinking.
Capcom made it to 7 installments before the end, but if I
remember rightly 24 total was the plan. Couldn't tell
you any more specifics, not having played it when the later
volumes are fairly expensive, but it's a nifty idea.
I'm all for
multi-part game stories, but in general it seems
best to keep the number of games and the budget
closely in check. We don't want to see another
case of a certain Sega series do we? A neat idea
Anyway, back to Climax... oh yeah, Kingdom of Paradise.
It's a PSP game that didn't get much press and I didn't play
it, so I can't say anything about it except that it's from
this company. I CAN speak to Steal Princess.
That game stinks. More puzzle than RPG, it was clearly
designed so that there's one specific solution to each later
level. Get it wrong, start all over again. I
like puzzle games in short stints, but I don't like it when
the developer treats me like a laboratory animal that must
be disciplined until the right solution is achieved.
It was cute though. Among ladies with eyepatches, that
protagonist (I forgot her name) was tops. What a
Climax didn't put
out much of noticeable quality after Landstalker
did they? That list of titles seems small
and sad for a developer that was around way back
in the 90s. They don't seem to have done much in
recent memory. In fact, their Japanese website
appears to still be advertising Steal
Princess. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
As long as I'm emptying the memory banks, let me slam Sword
of Vermilion a bit. Most people have forgotten
this early Genesis RPG, and those who haven't tend to err on
the side of 'it wasn't very good, but it was okay for the
time.' I'm not going to say that. I'm going to
kick it in the butt until it can't sit down for a
at that image, and realize that the visual on the left is
completely superfluous. That tiny bit in the
upper right is all that matters. Now, once you find a
map for the area, the area is all visible instead of almost
blank like that, but --- just look at it! See how much
wasted space there is? Also, movement is choppy.
Oh, and then we enter combat. It's just you against up
to 8 enemies - always the same type though, because the
developers clearly couldn't be bothered to put the little
extra bit of programming in to let more than one sprite
exist onscreen simultaneously. Don't tell me that's a
technical limitation either - the Genesis could handle that
kind of stuff, so could the freakin' NES! As for
combat itself... well, you walk around and whack things with
your sword, which means this is some kind of action
RPG. It's always a screen with the same dimension
(geez, did Idea Factory look at this as an inspiration for Agarest
combat?), and if anything is pushing you too hard, just walk
to the screen's edge and you run away. It works every
time. Sure the hero has magic spells - you can have
exactly one in combat and have to switch it out between
battles. Magic can make things a complete joke,
incidentally, so be sure to spam it when enemies start
I don't run away unless the game is really slamming me in
the face, which meant that, oh, at least 5 hours before the
end, I was at the maximum level. Isn't that fun?
Then we have the boss battles, which were big in the
advertising. Here the best description is to picture a
fighting game. Now, take away the ability to
jump. Take away the ability to block. Take away
the ability to turn around even. Sure you've got a big
sprite against a big enemy sprite, but the controls just
plain suck - your magic is taken away so it's just a matter
of slowly plodding up to smack with a sword, backing away,
and hopefully knowing the pattern to not get killed.
So - awful fighting game mechanics, that's about all we need
to know. Since fighting games of the late 80s were
mostly terrible anyway I can't fault this one for being
worse than usual, but I CAN fault it for introducing such a
lousy mechanic into an RPG.
I could keep kicking it, with complaints like dungeons that
are just boring and being far longer than it needs to be
(witness me reaching the max level without trying to), and
that would be warranted. Sure I could slam the story
too, but it was 1989. 'Your parents were killed by
this evil guy, go beat him up' was really all you needed.
I can't add
anything here, Sword of Vermillion is
Where's the remake of the original Megami Tensei
games on NES? Hell, these things were remade for the
Super Famicom, but that was 20 years ago. Does anyone
remember that the series didn't have Shin in its
title once upon a time? Of course, as NES RPGs they
probably aren't very friendly to the current crowd, but that
means you'd probably love it if Atlus has a revival.
Well they did
release a nice version of Shin Megami Tensei
on iOS, so perhaps there's a home for even
earlier entries in the series there? I know we'd
all prefer these things on console or portable
consoles, but at least it'd be something. I'm
sure those games are interesting historical
I'd better send you off with another of these... put Jesse
'The Body' Ventura into an RPG! Shouldn't be hard!
Now, now I'm done.
TO BE CONTINUED...
That's not hard at
all. I present to you, WRASTLING RPG,
the RPG where you make your own character and
then slowly rise up through the ranks to
eventual main event Wrestlemania. Jesse could
then be put in as a villain, the character's
trainer, or many other roles that would be
filled with many other legendary figures. I'd
purchase such a game!
- Sure, why wouldn't they experiment? See what sticks and
what doesn't. It's all about refining ideas and tossing new
ones out there.
- I actually prefer the Dragon Quest name a bit, but
in the end I use them both mostly interchangeably. I grew up
with Warrior, but its been Quest even in the
west now for a lot longer.
- My guess, localization takes time. Also, DQ8 was a
big seller in the west. Who knows if they will bother with
the rest of them here. (Are the other games even all out in
Japan on iOS/Android yet?)
- Nope. I'm a bit congested at the moment. But I'm kinda
-On the one hand I agree, on the
other I miss the more RPG-flavored goodness that
was Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.
-Tough call for me, but ultimately considering
the series found found its biggest hits in the
West with the Dragon Quest name, that's
ultimately the correct choice.
-I'm pretty sure they actually released them all
in order in Japan. Dragon Quest VIII was
probably the easiest (aside from being a hit
here) considering it doesn't appear to differ
from the original PS2 localization (except for
no voice acting or orchestrated music).
Depending on if IV-VI were ports of the
DS versions or something earlier it would
seem like most of the other games would need
touch ups of some kind. So who knows what other
ones they may release.
-That's a shame, the Rock is cooking a delicious
classic Italian dish.
I can tell you I've
had to skip through heaps of Japanese tutorial
text, so there's definitely lots of instruction
early on. That said, it's a hard series to get
into, and Monster Hunter 4's increased
weapon count will either make it easier to find
a weapon that suits you, or just make things
more confusing. On the whole though, the other
enhancement touches like an increased focus on
climbable terrain and jumping attacks make the
game more dynamic and fun, providing more of an
incentive to learn it well. On the whole, I'd
say just start with Monster Hunter 3
Ultimate since it's already out here and
cheap, but Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
should be a fine place to start once you can
play it without a Japanese 3DS
Yes I am playing Disgaea 4 again, this
time on the Vita! This won't be a full review,
just some impressions on how the game has
translated to Vita. So far I can say the game
looks right at home on the Vita, thanks to the
smaller resolution hiding some of the graphical
blemishes the game had on PS3. It also suffers
from the same issue the port of Disgaea 3
had, that being no way to import a PS3 save or
some other way to quickly get a high level party
to check out the added content. Not that I would
complain too much about playing through again! Disgaea
4 is a blast, with a highly entertaining
main character. I highly recommend it!
Here are some hot topics I've seen around
- Has the combined popularity of both Mario RPG
series caused the recent experimenting in the past two Paper
- Do you miss the Dragon Warrior title or is the
original name for the series best?
- Why has Square-Enix only released one of the iOS Dragon
Quest ports in the West?
- Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?
See you on the 29th for the Four Year
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