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The Oracle
 
Mike Ryan says: "Cheese'll block you up"
 
The Oracle, Brad Lohr - March 19 '00

Ow. My finger hurts.. it all started when, yesterday, I decided to buy a new motherboard for my computer, (in the hopes of FINALLY getting 3D Accellerated stuff to work on my computer).. and so we get back to my place late last night, Heather flops over on the bedmat thing I sleep on, (No bed yet :[) and resumes her sleeping (which she'd been doing all day.. poor thing) .. while Ben and I tackle putting the new MB in. Now if there is one piece of hardware on my computer I dislike putting in and playing with any more than my motherboard, I haven't found it yet. I hate the darn things. I'd rather install hard drives in hard to reach tiny slots in the back of computers. Really. Anyway, while removing the RAM from my current MB, I slipped and totally messed up my finger. Bad for the typing. I'm pretty much okay for now.. but whenever I hit like the "I" key.. (and I do do that somewhat often) .. it stings just a bit. But enough bitchin'.. because after all is said and done.. last night, I finally got all the stuff working, and my 3D card is preforming beautifully.. it's all worth it.

Anyhow.. it's getting late, so I'll hurry into the column... here we go!


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Brad Now Playing:
Asheron's Call
In 3D, baby!

and

Tactics Ogre
Got Sisteena, only 3 more left!

 
Save Points.. what's up with that?
Many RPGs have save points and carefully chose intervals in the game. This adds a level of difficulty (can't just save anywhere), acts as a "look up! something bigs about to happen", and I guess might save space on the memory card. Lately games have taken to having a memo slot, where you can save in the ram (well, FF Anthology and Saga Frontier have it, I can't think of others). This is a fairly good idea and I like it. My question(s) stem from: 1) do you think console rpgs should have set save points? and 2) do you think it would be nice to give players an option to transfer data from a memo slot to an actual memory card slot without being at a save point?

--
Doug Bolden

Brad:
I have to agree, that the 'quick-save' option in SF is really cool, though the one in FFA doesn't seem to be as nifty, as there isn't a controller shortcut for it, (that I can remember..checked, didn't see one) .. which kinda makes it just as easy to do a 'real' save. I fully endorse the addition of Quick-Save controller buttons (the Triangle-R2 worked fairly well, or was it L2? .. mumble) .. to all games. As for taking save points out and just letting them be in chronologically spaced parts.. I don't see this as necessary.. they put those save points there because you're more likely to die at that point.. though I could see only being able to save at an Inn.. (Lifestones in Asheron's Call, etc) .. and that'd make some sense. But other than that, there doesn't seem to be much of a problem with it.. at least, in my opinion.

 
SB Live and FF7PC user lays down the law!
hello lohr-son!

Just thought i'd write in something about the question asked about FF7pc and a SBL. I have a Sound Blaster Live and using the squaresoft sound fonts with it the music in the game has been the same or better then the psx version.(i havent gotten to One Winged Angel yet, so i cant speak for that) Only problem im having with it is the midi plays too loud and you cant hear any sound effects. I would really reccomend the SBL for anything because it just has great sound overall.

Brad:
Not much I can say about that, other than I have an SB Live, and the only thing I don't like about it is that it has this "SB16 Emulation" crap which takes up extra resources and IRQs on my computer. Wah.

 
Unbeaten Game Guilt.. me? Never...
I've got a bit of a strange question for you. Like most people, I usually only play and finish the RPGs I really like -- the Lunars and Xenogears of the world. But I picked up Lufia and Lufia 2 recently on the recommendation of several friends who loved the series. I played the first one for a while but just didn't enjoy it at all. Yet, I kept playing, trying to see what all the fuss was about. After about 11 hours, I finally threw in the towel.

But I noticed that this isn't the first time this has happened. While I did finish Final Fantasy V, the translation was just so bad that I really had to force myself to do so. Now, I'm near the end of Saga Frontier II. I'm kinda burnt out on the game but I really do want to see the ending, so I talk myself into playing a half-hour here or an hour there. In all these cases, I somehow feel obligated to finish the game -- to experience the whole story, even if there's something else I'd really rather be playing.

Has this ever happened to you?

..................................................
Chuck Bednar

Brad:
Let me start off by saying that while I haven't played Lufia1, I know Lufia2 is one of the greater games that passed through my hands at any point while playing a SNES. It's a great game, honestly. Give it a try before you forsake all of that which is Lufia. Other than that, I've got about half the games that I've purchased, but never beaten. Some of them, like Ogre Battle, I've been really close to, but just stopped playing for one reason or another, and silly me.. I always want to restart a game when I pick it back up. Someday I'll beat Ogre Battle.. first is Tactics Ogre, though. another game I got most of the way through, and just got distracted from. Never finished.. now I've restarted (though I do not regret it in the least.. there's a reason why this is my favorite game of all time).. but there are games I own that I've never even STARTED, let alone finished.. someday I'll have time to play them all, I hope.

 
PII/PIII, Celeron.. learn more about processors!

To clear up any confused readers (and confuse those who aren't PC gamers), here's how cache works on the more recent Intel CPUs (excluding the PII/PIII Xeons, because no one uses a chip that expensive for a gaming box, and the Mobile cpus).

CPU Level 2 cache
Celeron 266, 300 None
Celeron 300A, 333 and faster 128K, runs at CPU speed
Pentium II 512K, runs at 1/2 CPU speed
Pentium III 450, 500, 533B, 550, 600, 600B512K, runs at 1/2 CPU speed
Pentium III 550E 600E, 600EB, 650 and faster (Coppermine)256K, runs at CPU speed
--
Dave Rothgery

Brad:
Yeah, as I said, I'll most likely get a Celeron for my new 'game' machine, as they really put out quite a bit of processor power for the price you pay.. you're not really missing out much.. of course, if you look at the Athalons, (like I did yesterday), you'll start seeing that you can get a P3-700, or an Athalon 700 at half the price. And they're shipping 1GHz Athalons soon.. ooooh.. expensive processors.

 
Wild ARMs 2.. are they killing it?
Sorry man, but this is a long one :

Just when I thought the world had forgotten about it, Sony decides to translate Wild Arms 2nd Ignition. That's good I tell myself, till I hear that they butchered the title. Then they changed the emblem.

Actually if you compare the US version's cover with the Japanese one you'll probably know which is the crappier lookin' one.

I've played and completed the Japanese version already. (pays to know Chinese, sorta makes you 1/2 Japanese seeing as they 'borrowed' our language) The movies that play in the game have "2nd Ignition" pasted firmly in them. How's Sony gonna take care of that?

And given that there's more than one Japanese song in the game, I'm left wondering if Sony will go the Namco way and cut the singer's voice off and replace it with cheap musak. Or do like what they did for the first Wild Arms ending and compose their own music?(not that it was bad, but it didn't exactly fit the theme)

Just look at how badly done the US version of Ace 3 was! I was actually waiting for the US version so I could plunk down good money for an involving story PLUS a great flight simulator. Now all that's left is the flight simulator, and worse still all the mission don't have any relation whatsoever anymore. They even give you the 'challenge' of unlocking the Japanese intro after finishing the HARD mode when you're supposed to get it free.

Whaddya think dude? You think Sony will play us a bad hand and butcher Wild Arms 2? Not that I wouldn't buy it even if it was. The game is good enough still without the movies (honest!). But what's your take on this?

Thanks for the time dude

Brad:
Well, seeing how most of us haven't played the Japanese version .. nor will we, we probably won't miss out on all the things that you're talking about. I personally am going to buy this game.. (and even play it maybe!..) and I guess I just figure that they do this to most games. Just makes you realize we need more awesome Console RPG companies in the US. We've got some of the most awesome guys for the PC.. but where's the console stuff?

 
Kartia, look at the similarities!
I've noticed some similarities in looks (and sometimes personality) between a lot of the Kartia and Final Fantasy VI characters. Let's look in the mystery grab bag here:
  • Lacryma & Terra
  • Duran & Edgar
  • "Krause" & Gogo
  • Cross & Kefka
  • Posha & Celes
  • Troy & Locke (mostly in the way they dress)
  • And, saving the most obvious for last...
  • Rimzan & Cyan
And, If I'm not mistaken, the artist for both Kartia and FF6 are the same person. Coincidence...? Perhaps...

-"The Wonder Clone," Cyrussaur

Brad:
Now that I look at the art in the Kartia booklet, it sure looks like Amano stuff. Does anyone know for sure? (yes, I'm too lazy to pop Kartia in.. actually, I'm hungry and tired, but that's beyond the scope of this righ now... besides, there are innumerable Amano fans out there who know exactly what he's done.. so speak up!) .. as for the character parallels.. I think you could find a lot of character parallels in many games, but the number of them between this and FF6 is a bit.. odd. Cool idea, thanks for bringing it to light!

 
SB Live in Linux!
Hey, Brad! (Auurrgghh, I'm typing this all over again because once again Windows f@$%&* up again! Damn thing crashes daily - and sometime at boot-up!!)

I'm too lazy to check myself sooo the question I had was: How did you get your SB Live to work in Linux? Did Creative Labs finally release a final version of the Linux Driver? If not, what version of Linux are you using?

Thanks,
Surge

Brad:
Yes, actually, there are now drivers for Linux, for your SB Live.. they're straight binaries, so you have to have the right kernel.. so it can be a pain, but once they work, you get to be happy-smiley again. I'm not sure on the bug-count on the drivers or whatnot, but check out Slashdot and search for the article that linked to the drivers. Hope that helps!

 
SO2, Cave of Trials
*** Star Ocean 2 Spoilers ***

Greetings Almighty Oracle!!!

I've been playing SO2 for a while now, but I'm stuck in the Cave of Trials. Every time I even try to do anything on level 10, I get attacked by Takicodos (sp?) whatever-their-number-is and Miel whatever-their-number-is too. They always kill me no matter what I do. My levels and KMs:

  • Claude: 154, Mirror Slice and Ripper Blast
  • Dias: 158, Illusion and Air Slash
  • Opera: 145, @on one and Healing Star
  • Rena: 158, most of the spells on
Are my levels too low? I wanna get through the Cave of Trials and get all the goodies I keep hearing about in the last few levels. Any recommendations? Thanks for your help! Toodles!!

Cola
The Sapphire Goddess
Living proof that Goddesses don't know everything

Brad:
This taken from Ian Kelley's walkthrough of S02, because he does a better job explaining this than I ever could:

LEVEL 10: EIDAN NO TOKI (THE TIME OF DECISIVE JUDGMENT)

Items:
Fresh Syrup, Valiant Boots, Valkyrie Boots x 2, Rainbow Diamond, Kenja no Ishi, Chinke Slayer, Bunny shoes, Pure Leaf, Tri-Ace, Seiju Million Terror, Meteo Swarm

Enemies to look out for:
This level is when things start to get ridiculously hard in this dungeon so be forewarned. First, there are the Mind Flayers. The damage they do is barely negligible, but when they attack, they will drain your MP. (sometimes upwards of 300+ points/attack) There are also the Live Flayers, which look exactly like the Mind Flayers, only run much faster. They don't drain your MP, but do massive amounts of damage with their guns. In fact, they're so powerful if you encounter them you may want to use an Idaten to teleport your party out of the battle; even with four characters with 9999 HP and 1000+ defense points, the Live Flayers will kill your party in no time flat. There's one fight here where the computer plays VERY cheap here; this is with one Dream Shade and four Gastric Gels. The Dream Shade will stop time, and with your party frozen, the Gastric Gels will eat your characters without you being able to do anything about it. Also note that from this point on in the dungeon, enemies will Super Block; if they block a physical attack they will "hold" the attacking character for a second or so in the block, during which time they are helpless. This can get extremely irritating when you use multi-hit waza, so be forewarned...

Level features/puzzles:
You'll note the 4-by-4 grid in the first room. It corresponds to the layout of the level. When you stand on a square, it will light up in either red, yellow, or green. Similarly, you will gain access to whatever corresponding room you "light up." The entrance to the level is in the bottom-left corner, and the exit is in the upper-right corner. Also, you can only light up five squares, so you can't explore the entire level in one trip. If you want to reset the squares, simply go back up to level 9.

Here's a map of each color and each room (R=Red, Y=Yellow, G=Green):

.---------------.
| R | G | G | G |
|---+---+---+---|
| Y | G | R | R |
|---+---+---+---|
| G | G | Y | Y |
|---+---+---+---|
| G | Y | R | R |
`---------------'

The important thing to note about this level is that the only rooms that can be traversed safely are the green ones; your HP and MP will drain when you're in the yellow and red ones. The red rooms drain your HP/MP especially quickly. (Unfortunately all the juicy items are in the red rooms) So you need to be extra careful when entering them.

As soon as you try to descend the stairs, a huge robot, the Geo Guardian, drops out of the sky and goes on about how he is the most powerful in the world, and attacks.

BOSS: Geo Guardian
HP 400,000
No strengths or weaknesses

The Geo Guardian is very much like the Guardians you fought in the Fields. It starts attacks with his fists. A normal punch does around 3000-4000 damage, and its "Smash-Crash" does around 5000-6000 damage per punch. Once you knock his arms off, his shock-attack does around 7000 points of damage, but if you enter the battle with enough Lightning protection, it won't do any damage at all. In its final form, I've found it to be significantly easier than its other forms; it can use its "Exterminate" attack, but it never has done nearly as much damage as the attacks of its earlier forms. Basically, the way to beat the Geo Guardian is to come into the battle with lots of lightning-protective equipment and never give it a chance to attack. Sandwiching it between two characters with multi-hit techniques works best; I found alternating a Kyomensetsu (Claude) with a Sword Dance (Ashton) with one character on each side to work quite well.

After you beat the Geo Guardian, it compliments you and says "I am the SECOND strongest in the world", then explodes.

Level 10 Treasure: Valiant Guard

 
Soundfonts.. making stuff sound good!
While I have an SBLive, and it sounds really good for most midis, I suggest downloading the (semi) free Yamaha XG soft synth thing from their site. It makes the ingame music for FF7 PC kick ass. (No voice in one winged angel, though.) The site is http://www.yamaha.co.uk/xg/html/midplug/m_syg50a.htm

BTW, for anyone that does have an SBLive, I made the FF4 sound font in the music section, if you wanna take a look, and I've got an FF6 sound font on the way.

Brad:
.. more information for people who want stuff to sound good. Not much to say on my end.

 
More X-Box stuff than I should rightly print..
Ok after reading the columns over the last few days I think I have figured out the problems that Microsoft will face in selling the X-Box.
  1. The 86x factor. The X-Box is built on the Pentium 3 chip which still keeps the architecture of the old 86 chips. This is akin to taking an old Ford Pony and supping it up to the wazoo. Your driving along at 140mph in your Pony going "WOW I'm going 140mph in a Pony!". Well actually I wouldn't, I'd be like "Wow I'm going 210kph in a Pony!" cuz I'm from Canada. Anyway, you stop driving 140mph and you go to Dairy Queen to get some ice cream and then when your driving out your trunk pops open and your axe breaks, because your in a Pony and they suck. In the 86x Intel chips this is the problem, the chips are really powerful, but the design is old and crappy.
  2. The Xtream factor. There are two types of football video games, the realistic ones like Gameday and Madden, and the arcadey ones like Blitz. 989 decided to make a copy of Blitz and call it Xtream. They wanted to make it a little different to differentiate it. So they made sort of a cross between the two. Arcade players didn't want the additional realism and realism players didn't want the arcade aspects (and the game sucked on top of that like 90% of what 989 does, but that's beyond the point). Anyway, what Microsoft seems to be making is a gimped PC. Without all the functionality of a PC, and without the elegant simplicity of a console. There are very few console owners who are looking forward to the X-Box, because among other things, they don't want the hassles of a PC, they just want to play games. On the other hand the PC owners don't want to loose functionality by buying a console. Therefore no one wants to buy the X-Box.
  3. The Windows 2000 factor. Windows is one of the buggiest OSs around suffering from many of the same problems as the Intel chips that it runs on. There are still many DOS mentality flaws in the system. And why is the X-Box going to use Windows 2000 (an update of Windows NT) and not Windows ME (an upgrade of Windows 98)? Well other than the fact that Windows ME is unusable buggy right now. If they slapped some sort of Unix in there with a simple shell, it would be a whole lot simpler.
  4. The Microsoft factor. People just don't like Microsoft. When faced with the choice to buy two equal products the average person will choose the one that isn't a Microsoft product. There is also a very strong dislike of Microsoft expanding it's industry, like it is doing with the X-BOX.
Can Microsoft overcome these shortfalls? Yes, if they focus on making the X-Box a truely great game machine. Knowing Microsoft however they will probably put most of there effort into strong arming the competition.

--
BeerGoggles_FromMARS

Brad:
Another good editorial-styled comment about the XBox.. with some good points.. boy, you guys aren't giving me much to say these days. :)

 
Hahaha.. and last but not least...
Brad,

For RPGamer's birthday and your 6th month celebration, I decided to compose a very special list... yes, that's right, it's

THE TOP 10 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SENT IN TO THE RPGURU! Yeah, so you have a logical excuse to wet yourself now. Anyway, here goes...

10.) That Weigraf dude... he didn't sell his soul to the devil or something, did he? Cuz I can't kill him...

9.) I think my PSX is possessed... know the number of a priest who does this kinda thing?

8.) Was the ending to Final Fantasy VII supposed to make sense? I'm just asking because it reminded me of Pink Floyd's movie 'The Wall'...

7.) TELL ME YOUR GENDER, DAMNIT!

6.) What does the 'SM' on the end of those game sound tracks mean? It apparently isn't "Salad Monkeys".

5.) The voices in my head are keeping me from forming my own opinions, so what game should I buy?

4.) The hell?!

3.) I don't get The Discovery Channel any more, so I never did get to find out how much would could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood...

2.) If Neo says there is no spoon... then why did Tellah call him that?!

And the number 1 question RPGurus are asked the most:

1.) When is Thor coming back?

Thank you, you've all been a great audience! Now remember, drive safely and stay in large groups! ...The 6 story high cats are among us...

~The "What are you gonna do, bleed on me?!" Sack~

Brad:
Hahaha.. a good way to finish off the day... thanks, man

 
 
Quickies

I looked up Chupacabra in a Spanish dictionary. "Chupa" means suck and "cabra" means goat. Literally "Goatsucker."

-Boffo Bob

Very good. :)

Words from the Wise One:


Well, that finishes off my weekend.. I'm starvin'.. so I'm outta here.. I'll see you all on Friday!


Brad "Dost thou seek true Chili-Cheese Fritos?" Lohr

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