The Oracle  

   Strawberrah Pah!  
Brad Lohr, The Oracle - April 9 '00

Alright, running a bit late here on Sunday, so you might not hear from Google until Tuesday, but hey, that's okay. Everyone needs some time.. sometimes. 'sides, it's just about "That time of the month" for slimes, and you know how THAT can be. heee..

Anyhow, today we have "Urban Zombie", winner of the k-rad contest of interestingness, better known as, "Make Brad Laugh, Brad make you famous" or something. I'm in a weird mood (no way!) .. anyhow, here he is to introduce himself:
Heh heh heh.. sneaky hidden text.. it satisfies
Urban Zombie:

Hi RPGamers
My name is Urban Zombie
Today I guest host

I do not work here
I just won last week's
contest And this is my prize

Purple hair is cool
Secret of Evermore rules
Let's see the letters

Brad: A man after my own heart. Let's do this thing.

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Asheron's Call
Heh.. with DSL, Heather and I can now play in the same room, at the same time... team power!
Xenogears Music .. Opinions anyone?
Hi Bradio and Urban Zombologist...

I'm interested in getting the Xenogears soundtrack, because it had some pretty sweet music. The problem is, I don't know whether to go with the OSV or the orchestrated version. The orchestrated version is $10 more. Is it worth the extra cash? Also, what's this Xenogears:Creid cd? I haven't actually seen it listed anywhere.

Oh yeah, one more thing... are there any other good places to get game soundtracks off the net besides GameCave (now part of express.com....)? I not looking for an endorsement necessarily, but I might come after you if you tell me a place that's unreliable... ;-)


Factor Five
"Remember, I don't know where you live... Muhahaha... oh, wait..."

I personally have the OST and Creid. I really really like Creid a lot, and fully endorse buying it. The OSV isn't bad either. I'm pretty sure I got all my stuff from gamecave, but I don't remember, it's been a while, and when I go VG ST buyin', I just search for places that sell it, and buy it at the one I come across first... I let Heather do the real online shopping.. she's pretty amazing at it. She can find anything on the web.

Urban Zombie:
Why settle for one? You can never have enough Xenogears! But if you're strapped for cash and can only get one, definitely hunt down Creid. It's an incredible arrangement of remixes from the original soundtrack. You really get the feeling that this is what the game was supposed to sound like. I picked it up at Gamemusic.com for about 30 bucks, and it's worth every penny.

Dex Drive Happy-boy sez:
Get a Dex Drive they rock! Just upload your card's info on to your computer harddrive and they take up little space. I got mine at Electornic Buequetic(So I can't spell french, so sue me:p just go to the mall)for $19.00 and I never had to buy another memory card. Plus I have check over and over and I have NEVER lost any memory, so get your self one and never buy another memory card.

The Sinister Pizza Slice

Damn. $19? I saw them for like $99 and was tempted.. would easily have bought one for $99... mmmmm.... too bad my floppy drive on the computer doesn't work (for some unknown reason. Wah.) .. but then again, I haven't REALLY missed it. Local network, baby. NFS mount Spencer's floppy drive.. haha!

Urban Zombie:
19 bucks? That's pretty decent. Of course, I've never had any trouble with my standard, grey, Sony-made cards, but if you really need hundreds of saves, Dex sounds like the way to go. Now let's see if I can't find me some Thousand Arms saved games on the net...

Touch me again, and you'll pull back a stump!
Dear Brad and Urban Zombie, if he like, shows up a day early or somethin. ^_^

[Urban Zombie's Comments in bold-italics]

Is the internet access on the Dreamcast free? What I mean is, When you buy the Dreamcast, is the multiplayer internet features free, or do you have to pay? I ask this after hearing talks of the free Dreamcast. I was listening to some Radio Show in which the DJ was warning about this, as the internet subscription was $20 a month for 24 months for a free Dreamcast. It adds up to $500. That raises the question about the internet, because if you have to pay for the access on the Dreamcast, then maybe you'd turn a profit, but otherwise, you end up payin like, double the moolah. OR maybe I'm wrong. ^_^

I'm 99% sure that if you sign up with Sega.com, you get the Seganet internet access alongwith. But don't sue me if I'm wrong. Sue Brad. [Editor's Note: Urban Zombie is being sued for this comment.]

Oh, and I see Urban Zombie's improving every second. He typed gAMUT and didn't break into a psychotic episode. ^_^ good for u UZ.

My court-ordered therapist says I'm making great progress! I figure I'll be fine once they let me out, as long as I keep away from any Alaskan Malamutes. I tried watching the Iditarod last year, and I took out a whole city block. [Editor's Note: He's just trying to get out of the court case by pleading insanity...]

Oh, and I sorry for badly letter, as English of speaking is not good as for me.

Worry not tiger of reclinage, of much wonderfuls is English yours! A winner is you! [Editor's Note: All your base are mine!]

-Reclining Tiger
P.S: That WarCraft 2 quote in the title brought back some memories.

Here's how I see it. You buy DC for $200, you pay $20/mo for internet access when/if you use it. They get $200, and maybe 1/3rd of the people start getting the network access stuff at $20 a month. Not too bad a deal for them, but it like averages out so that each "Dreamcast + Internet connection" payout is ~$350 or so. Now they say, "Hey, let's give 'em a free DC, with a required 2 year access agreement." Boom. You're paying $500 for your DC, but you get the console for free, so it's a real low up-front cost. This package is good for the person who is going to both: Buy the DC, and get 2 years of the network access anyway. Otherwise, I'd really suggest watching out. I don't like signing for big long agreements (leases, etc), myself, even though the DSL is a one year agreement. But hey.. fat bandwidth is something entirely different.

Comedy day... part 1!
OK, now I've done it... I'm finally answering all of the age old questions about videogames. Behold one and all, as I answer the unanswerable, make sense of the senseless, and all in all make an ass out of myself (Hey, it happens). Well, time to get going, eh? Today, I'll answer three oft asked questions. Here they are:

Q: Why are guns in RPGs nowhere near as lethal as guns in real life?

A: Well, even though guns are abundant in the magical land of RPGs, bullets aren't. As a result, most RPG characters are forced to load their guns with Jujubys, which are a great deal less effective.

Q: Why is it that villains in videogames always want to take over/destroy the world? Why can't they... you know... just be REALLY passionate about bottlecap collecting?

A: Well, the first thing you'll notice is that taking over the world is REALLY easy. I mean, look at King Koopa: Nomatter how many times Mario bashes his brains in, that guy still manages to take the world back over every other week. Another little-known secret: Villains have an extremely low self esteem. Sure, they may hide it with comments like "I can't believe you made it this far!" and "I am invincible!", but the truth is, villains don't put much faith in themselves. As a result, they believe the only task they're capable of is taking over the world. Recently, though, we've started to see a break in this trend. Team Rocket, for example, acknowladges full well that they're completely incompitent. So much so, that they've decided that if they're gonna' fail at something, why fail at something small? So, instead of doing something so trivial as taking over the world, they've set their goals on something much more challenging: Stealing a yellow rat from a ten-year-old. It's ambitious villains like THIS that are the trendsetters for others, and soon enough, the rest of the villains will come to see this.

Q: I keep hitting my little brother, but I still can't for the life of me get those little white numbers to pop up into the air. What am I doing wrong?

A: Try ommitting some kind of war cry. It doesn't really matter what you use: From the boring (Hi-ya, Aaaaaaargh!), to the villainous (I'll destroy you all! You can't defeat me!)... you can even get a little creative (A-choooo!). If this doesn't work, ask yourself "Am I picking the 'fight' option?" Now, this may seem like a silly question- if you're hitting your little brother upside the head, why wouldn't you be fighting? But, very likely, this could be considered a 'Special Technique' that increases your vigor or something dumb like that. You should go out and try practicing on some wherewolves or slime creatures... that should prepare you for beating up your little brother. If you can't even find any wherewolves or slime creatures, I have no hope for you.

Hahahaa... hahaa.. okay.. I laugh.

Urban Zombie:
I went outside and started punching a slug while sneezing and screaming "I AM NOT BECOMING MORE VIGOROUS!". Still no floating numbers, and the neighbours are looking at me funny.

Unlimited Indalecio on Universe mode.. what are you.. NUTS?
*** SO2 Spoilers, fer sure, fer sure! ***

Hey Brad, Although I've been too lazy to try it out, I was thinking about something. Okay, you know how beating Indelacio without his limiter is painfully hard? Well, as you probably know, when enough sounds are unlocked, two new difficulty settings become availible(Galaxy and Universe, I think). On Universe, I've heard that the enemies get so strong that during the weapons and arms tournament, Dias is sometimes defeated by the monsters(although the game doesn't change). Now, my question is this; What in holy hell would happen if you tried to defeat Indelacio with his limiter off, in Universe mode? Has anyone tried this? Is it even possible? Do these socks make me look fat? -Chaos Breaker

Yes, the socks make you look fat. I've never heard of anyone who has actually beaten the game in Universe mode, let alone beat it without the limiter on in Universe mode. I have actually personally unlocked Galaxy and Universe modes, but as luck would have it, that's about the time I got bored with the game... and moved on. Or maybe FF8 came out then. Regardless, I haven't played SO2 in quite a while, and well, it'll probably still be a while before I get back to it. Love the game, though.

Urban Zombie:
This may be obvious... but I'm pretty sure he'd kick the crap out of you. C'mon, Limiterless Gabby offs you in one hit on any difficulty mode. The only reason I can think of to try him in Universe mode involves whips, chains, and leather.

Kanji question answered
Hey there Mr. Lohracle

Just because you asked, my ABSOLUTE fav game for FF7 is the snowboard game... In fact, that's about all I play of it now (I guess I should get around to beating it one of these days, but...)

And as to the quickie below that one, While not all games have kanji (and I've seen some with NONE to be found, albiet on a game boy rom) learning the kanji is a _really_ good idea, so that in case you find a game with kanji, you'll know what you're doing... It also makes it harder for ppl to decode secret messages you send in japanese to your buddies ;)

- V¾victis

Heh.. I loved the snowboarding game myself. And the sub game, and well, the motorcycle game wasn't bad for just blowin' off steam.

Urban Zombie:
I hated the snowboarding part, it was long, boring, pointless, and the rules for getting points seemed to be arbitrary. If I wanted that, I'd play Ogre Battle again. Besides, there are lots of Snowboarding games for the playstation if you want the exhilerating thrill of cyber-boarding.

Brad: ... I can't believe I let you in my column when you make disparaging comments about OB like that! Next you'll be saying FFT is better than TO.

Carrrrrrd Gammmmmmme!

i gotta say the best minigame is the Slaps card game in Xenogears. It was fun as hell and challenging too. And i didn't get utterly sick of it like i did that stupid card game in Final Fantasy Hate.

opul-kun (Map Man)

Have to totally disagree with you there.. the card game in FF8 had to be the highest point.. man.. I played that card game for so many hours, it is just SICK. I mean, really sick.. not just sorta-sick. That game was so addictive. I know tons of people who still play FF8 to this day, just to pop open the card game and tear into a few rounds with the people around.

Urban Zombie:
Yeah, that was pretty addictive, even if Queenie cheats mercilessly. Besides, what other card game features Xenogears' wonderful voice acting after every hand?

Kanji, part 2
In regards to the guy who wanted to know if he needed to learn kanji to read the text in imports, it depends on which imports. Back in the days of older systems, there wasn't much space to store kanji characters and 8x8 is not the best file size for all those little lines. So for older games, the kanji was pretty much nil. Then came 16x16 tiles, and with increased storage space they could get all the kanji they wanted. So pretty much, old games no, new games yes. And old games you'd probably go emulator and not import anyhow. =)


Good call on that... and thanks for the information.

Dual Shock: Worth getting?
Okay, many of the newer RPGs are now coming out with "vibration function" compatibility. My question: am I missing out?

I was an early adopter, so I got a PS with the regular controller, and when the analog controllers first came out sans vibration, I got one. And when the dual shocks came out, well I really didn't need one, especially since I don't even use the analog capabilities. Should I run out and buy one now?

- Surge

In my opinion, really, you aren't missing out THAT much. I have two dual shock controllers that just came with the PSX when I got it... but it isn't this ultimate experience, or anything... sometimes it's annoying.. but then, on the long spells in SO2, I did use it to massage my back a little bit... heh. Anyway.. I'd say stick with what you've got, unless you've got the dough to blow.

Urban Zombie:
RPG's with vibration functions? Eww!

Kanji, part 3.. and a big one

One of your readers wrote in yesterday with the question, "To learn to read Japanese, do I need to learn Kanji? Keep in mind that I only want to learn it so that I can play imports, and do not need to learn to speak it." The answer, in short, is, "yes". Kanji are present in large quantities in all games released since the days of the SuperFamicom (SNES). At first, their presence was very limited due to cartridge size (the developers had more important uses for the limited space of a cartridge than graphics of all 1,945 common-use Kanji), but that is certainly not an issue anymore. More importantly, however, is that the assumption that it is possible to learn an entire language for the sole purpose of "play[ing] imports" is not very practical. Saying that you want to learn to READ Japanese but not speak it is somewhat like saying, "I want to learn Spanish, but since I don't plan on reading anything about the past or future, I only need to learn the present tense." ;)

Learning a foreign language can be very interesting and rewarding, but it needs to be approached realistically; it takes a lot of time and commitment (and more importantly, a LOT of exposure to the language and repeated practice) in order to build your skills to the point where you can actually read the language with enough proficiency that you can understand something as complicated as an RPG. While playing Japanese videogames was certainly one of the coolest benefits I've had from learning Japanese, I couldn't justify the amount of time and energy it takes to learn (not to mention maintain my ability) if I didn't have other reasons for doing it. Anyway, what I'm saying is that learning a foreign language is one of the most fun and interesting ways to learn about another culture, but it is a lot of work, and you can't approach it as just a 'hobby' that you work on here-and-there whenever you have spare time. However, if you ARE serious about it (and understand the amount of effort a language takes to master), I can offer you the following advice to get you started:

  1. The best way to start out is with a book that teaches you the absolute basics (i.e. standard grammar, basic vocabulary, and a general overview of the language itself). The best book I have found for this is, "Teach Yourself Beginner's Japanese" by Helen Gilhooly, published by NTC Publishing Group. Also, GET A _GOOD_ DICTIONARY! I cannot overstress how important this is; when you are reading a book or a game, your Japanese dictionary will be your best friend in the whole world--you do NOT want to skimp. There is a significant difference in quality among Japanese dictionaries, and you want to be sure to get one that won't let you down on 'big-words'. :)
  2. Learn the two 'non-kanji' character sets: hiragana and katakana. There are 46 characters in each set; learning these should take a couple weeks to a month.
  3. Start learning some basic Kanji. Make sure to get a book that has all 1,945 common-use Kanji. Kanji are organized by the grade in which Japanese children learn them; start with all of the first-grade Kanji and maybe a few of the second-grade ones. Try to learn about 100 before progressing to step 4.
  4. Start immersing yourself in the language; buy games, books, movies, etc. Go through them and look up whatever you do not know in a Japanese dictionary. If you know anyone who speaks Japanese, try to start little conversations (let them know what you do not understand, they will most likely try to help you out as much as possible). Japanese WebPages are also helpful, since they offer new content (that you might actually be interested in) for you to practice on often.
  5. Go back and learn more Kanji... there are almost 2,000 of them, so it never hurts to keep learning.
  6. Keep yourself immersed in the language and keep looking up everything you do not know. Most people do not speak 'text-book' Japanese (there is a lot of slang/colloquial language in Japanese, as there is in every language), so do not be surprised if there are a lot of words/verb conjugations that you are unfamiliar with. A lot of this type of language you will probably just have to pick up from context--or a Japanese speaking friend. I don't trust 'colloquial-Japanese books', since they are usually written from the perspective of someone who just wants to learn to swear in dozens of languages. ;) They are usually not all that useful for learning common, less formal phrases, conjugations, etc--I'm sure there are exceptions, but I haven't found them.
  7. Be PATIENT! It can take months or even years before you can actually pick up something like a game and actually understand ANY of it, much less play it with the same ease as one from your own language. But do not give up, the rewards are well worth it!
By the way, expect your friends to think you're insane for even attempting to learn Japanese for a while--until you're playing your favorite games 9 months before them, that is. ;)

Anyway, thanks for your time, and good luck!

Yes, a full on essay about it, but a good one, and good advice for any language, (save the learning kanji thing.. It's not that useful for french.) .. just practice, practice, practice. Then go to Japan and pick up some asian chicks for Edge. He likes 'em in the 6 pack.

Oh, now it's PHYSICS homework.. geez, you guys.
About yesterday with the multi-page memory cards shorting on the controller ports. They INDEED do. It's a random thing still, like getting lung cancer from smoking. I have a 5 year old 1001 model and it hasn't had a prob with 4 years of 12x mem card use. But my brand new 9001 model which I bought last October broke 92 days after using the card. The controllers won't function with the memory cards in or the analog controllers don't work period.

There is a letter about this prob in the April issue of PSM, and Sony wants you to avoid the non-liscensed products of course, when I told them on the phone my controller ports weren't working the mem cards was their first guess.

A busted playstation has taught me to stay liscensed. Anyways, here's the questions(skip 3 if needed Steve put me up to it).

1) How do you take screenshots from videogames, is there some sort of of cable or hardware piece you need to hook up the comp to the tv to take screenshots?

2) I read something in PSM about PS2 having an add-on with a broadband cable or DSL modem, not a 56k. Am I the only one who has concerns how they expect to get the cable or dsl lines to everyone, much less pay for them? How do you think they can pull it off?

3)Optics is evil....as is all physics. Steve feels a little evil-plus Steve needs a homework answer

A plano-convex lens (a converging lens that has one flat side) is placed with its flat side on a plane mirror. An object placed a distance 58 cm from the mirror, along the lens's optical axis, creates an image a distance 85 cm behind the object, as shown. What is the focal length of the lens? Remember that light forming the image has passed through the lens twice.
85cm 58 cm

Those are the questions....and it was Steve's fault....all Steve's fault for question 3!


I only really have an answer for #1. #2, is one of those, 'I suppose they have something up their sleeves'. Not only that, but most phone companies are trying to get stuff out to all ends of the country within the next two years or so, so I don't know, maybe Sony's got some insight that we don't. As for #1, I use an ATI-All in Wonder card to do screen caps. What you get is a video card you can plug your PSX into. That's right, kids.. playin' Playstation on your computer. What I really dig about it is that you can make the 'screen' your background image.. and just play PSX on your desktop. Though when I'm playing Einhander that way, it bugs me when the damned icons get in the way.. "MOVE RECYCLE BIN!, MOOOOVE!".. yeah. Anyhow, with the program I use, you just click a button, and it takes a screenshot.

Wit' Zombayyy Quickies

Awwww *chew* hm... hm... aww, that's better. *cough cough* ... HOOOOOOCCCK

-Jolly fat guy with a beard

Brad: Erhm.. you missed the spitoon, SANTA CLAUS.

Urban Zombie:"The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;"

-'Twas the Night Before Christmas'

Don't smoke, kids. Look at what it did to Santa.

Did you know that Weird Al's bass guitar player's name is STEVE????
And speaking of Steve, do you suspect that Steve Job is in any way related to Steven Jobs, former President and CEO of Apple Computer Co.?

"The tab is there to open the can. The can is there to hold in the spam."

Brad: Heh.. you act as if all of this is coincidence!

Urban Zombie: Heck, at this point I'm not even sure if I'M Steve.

Ada? Ick. Why don't they just make you program in machine code? That would at least put you out of your misery faster.

Brad: Yer tellin' me.. but I think the only guy there who knows machine code is Bob.. and well, Bob knows everything, but he teaches TCP/IP networking. He's got great stories.

Hey...wuh...wait a minute! Blinkey-Brad just flipped me off!!!!

-Rinoa the Resistance Fighter

Brad: Huh? I don't know what you're talking about.. (stifled laughter)

Urban Zombie: That's funny, I don't see anything.

This may or may not be RPG-related, but since we seem to be on a Warcraft kick, and Warcraft III is technically an RPG, I may as well comment. Is it me, or does the Orcish Commander sound like an evil Grover from Hell? "Your Death Knights have come ashore on the beachhead at Lordaeron far to the north. Lead your minions to the castle near the center of the city... do you know the difference between near and far? Near... far! Near... far! Near... far!"

The Sesquipedalist

Brad: hahahaa.. oh dude.. make it stop.. make it stop...

I don't want to! Uuuurp!
He did it! No, he did it!
This way! No, that way!


Beautiful. :) I love it.

This really has nothing to do with RPG's, but are you the same Urban Zombie who writes for Scoops? Just wondering.

Urban Zombie: Hooray! I'm a celebrity! Yeah, I write for scoopswrestling.com, the #1 Pro Wrestling site in the world. Stop laughing, I'd like to see YOU get paid to write about sweaty men in their underwear hugging each other.

Brad: Hey.. I didn't know you were a professional humorist... or maybe you just smell funny. Er, har.

Wrappin' things up

Brad: Right then.. that's that. Hope you all had fun, I sure as heck did doing this again for the first time in a while.. (boy my English grammar must be really sucking today.. ..apathy sets in on the weekends.. fear.) Anyhow, I'll bring Urban Zombie back one more time to say goodbye, before taking off myself.

Urban Zombie: Hey, that was surprisingly painless, and I'm now far more comfortable in my Steve-ness. Plus, if memory serves, the last guy to guest host with the Lohracle was Googleshng, who later ended up becoming regular Q&A guy. Mwahahaha... my plan for internet domination is near completion! Soon I shall take over RPGamer and turn it into the SoEGamer! Until then, drop me a line, or if you're a wrestling fan, check out my current employers at scoopswrestling.com

Urban "MAD SKILLZ" Zombie

Brad: Hey, if you want Googleshng's job, you can talk to him about it.. but you can't have mine. So nyah. Talked to Google, btw, guys, and he will be taking Monday off.. sorry about that, but today's Q&A is late good enough for two days! Right? RIGHT?! Later!

Brad "Mm-mmm, mmm! Strawberrah Pah tonight!" Lohr