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Brad Lohr, The Oracle - July 30 '00

Well, finished off Legend of Dragoon last night.. (which had a very nice ending, by the way..) it was really well done. I'm well pleased with the game. Kept me busy while Heather was gone, and well, she'll be back on Tuesday! (yay!) Anyway, good game, it goes out recommended to any/all of you who are looking for something to tide you over until Chrono Cross hits. (What's that.. like 2 weeks?)

Mmmm.. Chrono Cross.

Yeah, anyhow.. it's gettin' kinda late, so I should dive right in and get this thing done.

Blue Valkyrie Shot the Potion!

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Brad Now Playing:
Gauntlet Legends
I'm level 70ish already.. boy I wish AC went that quick. :P
In Brad's Head:
Ramen: Food of men.
Well, I suppose women could eat it too.
But the general laziness vs edibility factor that brings you to a ramen conclusion is a pretty good argument that mostly men eat it.
I like Gauntlet.
Question and Answer
"Hi, my name is Blatant, and I want to get printed in your column."
Hey. I have a bit of a dilemma.

I have enough money to buy two games until I get more money in September. I know I'm going to buy Chrono Cross, on sheer faith that because Chrono Trigger was easily one of my favorite games of all time this one must be good too. (Stupid, I know, but probably true.) So, my question is this: What other PSX RPG that has come out in the last 6 months worth buying?

I have FM3, FFA, and LoM. I have played LoD, ToF, and Vagrant Story and decided I didn't feel that they were buy-worthy. I feel kinda iffy on BoF3, and I haven't played Vanguard Bandits yet. So, oh wise and mighty and certainly very cute Oracle, what is your suggestion?


(Guys, notice the lv9 elite-ness of her "Suck-up" technique.)

Anyhow, hrm... Get Star Ocean 2. I liked it a lot. (Hey, you asked ME, you get MY opinions).. either that or Tactics Ogre. If you like tactical games, get TO. Star Ocean 2 has quite a bit of replay value, and well, is just FUN. So do one of those two.

How to take over the world become a Q&A guy.
Greeting Gingerbread Brad (you're not Oracle, she's old and lies to Neo like Obi-Wan Kenobi lied to Luke),

I was just wondering, how do you get to be a Q&A host? Did you just volunteer for the job? I think I'd enjoy hosting Q&A, but I dont know anywhere near enough about enough RPGs (also I'm not a staffer, haha).

When JD was leaving, they were all running around wondering who would be Q&A when he left. I just said, "I'll do it." I'd been working here about 3 months, doing almost absolutely nothing in the New Media dep't. As to getting hired onto staff originally, it's about who you know. :P Let the nepotism run rampant.

Yesterday someone couldnt decide between Legend of Mana and Threads of Fate. Well a few days ago I had to decide between the above, along with Vagrant Story and Medal of Honor. I went for Threads of Fate (RPGs have me in a death-grip), and I'm not sorry at all. I've played Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3. They're good games, but for some reason they just dont seem right for some odd reason. Also I was a bit turned off by the weird 'kiddy' characters. A teapot (or am I imagining things?)? I'll probably never get Legend of Mana or Vagrant Story, since I've had my eyes on the sequel to Chrono Trigger ever since I played Chrono Trigger.

One last thing. I think it's interesting that an RP'er would ask an RPG Q&A host for tips on getting girlfriends, or anything non-RPG related. Very interesting methinks.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: This column is about RPGamers, not about RPGs. I'd say the classic "I can't get a date" thing is quite frequent in the RPGamer scene. (shrug). I know half our staf-- er.. n/m :) Anyhow, they're also asking a certified "lady's man" (okay, not even close).. but I am good at giving other people advice on doing things that I have gone through once or twice, (or in this case, 5 or 7 times).. (shrug).

he who is fighting Deus in Xenogears (finally)...Phoenix ^_^

"How could you have possibly known I love having meteors dropped on my head?"

Hey! I might find the answer to this somewhere, but that's besides the point!

Okay, I'm playin' Xenogears (yeah, I know) and it's been botherin me for awhile...

How do you pronounce "Yggdrasil"?? I swear, the word bothers me! No self-serving word should have that many consinents in it per vowel!

Umm... thanks!

With love from

"The One and Only Shenlyn"

THE Shinigami~!

ig-drah-sihl. It's from Norse Mythology, good stuff. Go read some sometime.. it's good stuff. :)

All I gotta say is, chill out, hombre.
Dear Person Who Apparently Has No Pants,

What do YOU think about Square taking the Final Fantasy series and doing with it what they will do in FF9?

"What's that?"

What's that, you say? Well, they ripped out its heart, and shoved it down its throat. Then they chopped of its head, and spit down its neck. Then they put the whole thing through a meat grinder, ate it with a spoon, and barfed it back up onto a few CDs.

I'm referring to the reversion to a high fantasy setting, FF2-type game system, and incredibly cartoony graphics and storyline. Like I asked, what do you think about that?

All I gotta say is, if they did it right, I'm going to be a very happy guy. This whole futuristic thing needed to take a seat for a lil' bit. I like dragons. Rar.

Whatever, Moron!
Is there anyway to listen to all the voice samples on Star ocean 2 on a computer using a program like Psx play. The whole game is compressed and the only thing I can find are the movies. When I say voice samples, I mean all voices.( All 12 characters, Cyril, Indalecio, Vesper, Decus, and Claude's opening movie)

Can someone help me find them?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!? please?

Sadly, I don't think anyone can help you. There's an option on the main screen to hear all the voice samples that have occured in all saved games on that memory card. The only other way would be to unlock all the sounds using a gameshark.

Dear . . . . I don't think you care,

Have you ever gotten Shelly? I've read all the FAQ's and they all say the same thing but I can't get it to work. I placed Denim and Olivia in training, used a Nest, and left. Nothing happened. Did over and over and over and over and over and over . . . nothing. If you don't know, at least I can finish Hell Gate as a spirit lifter.

Well, first off, make sure you didn't kill her in the battle with her beforehand. In the words of my absolute favorite faq: "Don't kill Shelley! If you kill her, she is dead, and that sucks." Which is very true. Also, don't wait too late.. I think there is the possibility of not getting her if you wait too long.. also, it depends on which path you take, (I've gotten her on Chaotic) .. yeah. Make sure you have her sisters as well.

ModChip Lockout, brought to you by the makers of diet soda. EVIL.

Basically, i was just wondering about the chips being put into new playstation games (Legend of Dragoon) which prevent you from playing the game if you have a mod chip in your console. Is there anyway to beet the chip with maybe a gameshark code. Also, I am a HUGE Final Fantasy fan and I was wondering if ffIX will have this chip too.


With a Gameshark, you can dodge the lockout on games that ARE locked out. As for FF9, it seems there was a news story done by our dearest Andrew, which states that there will not be a modchip lockout used on/with/for FF9. (Hey, I don't read news either, ok?)

Unanswered Questions and Comments
I think I'm just being nice.. but .. whatever.
Yo Or' (hey, it rhymes with 'Thor'),

As of late I'm beginning to think that my life is slowly (or even quickly... haven't been paying attention till just recently) becomming an RPG. Consider the following. My mother's name is Ione (a call-spell in Wild Arms) and we both work at Ducks Unlimited, which just got a new duck statue that looks really cool, but it is REALLY big... kinda like a Chocobo.

Anyways, I work in the mail room stuffing envelopes for scads of cash (really, they overpay me), but I used to be a shotgun assembler there putting together shotguns called Baretta (1 letter to many for Barret, everbody's foul mouthed coal miner from FF7). When stuffing envelopes the other day, I came across the name Carl Fooleshng (very similar to our beloved weekday Q&A guy), and I work with a guy named Alex Luna (Lunar anyone?).

There are a ton more reasons why I think this, but for the life of me I can't think of what they are at the moment... but I think its wierd enough, don't you?

-The Snoremaster of Trafalgamore

That reoccurring mop theme... (See Quickies)
Dear Great and Wise Oracle,

Earlier today, I came across an interesting tidbit in Xenogears, which I am playing through again. I don't know if you like, or have even played Xenogears, but I figured I'd write you so people might read this, for I've never heard about it on any online walkthrough or secrets page. In Nortune, when you are summoned to the Imperial sector, after Rico is arrested, go back into the Kaiser's room. As soon as you enter the room with the pipe organ, go directly to the right and you will find something called the "PiggyBank Metronome." It's in fact a minigame, and you can win a good amount of cash. The object is to stop the metronome hand in the middle as it swings back and forth. If you figure out how to time it right, you can get it almost every time. When you are successful, you are awarded with 1G. For three times in a row, you get 10G, and for five in a row you get 100G. I only got up to seven in a row, so it very well may get better than that. With a lot of patience, I raked in around 2000G, which isn't bad for that point in the game. Has anyone else even seen this? Just one more thing. Am I the only one who is sick of this old school/new school crap? The past is just that, past. I say, enjoy gaming's present, and look towards the future with optimism. Don't hate, participate! Ok, this is a pretty damned long letter, so I'm done now.

-Matt "The Mop Ninja"-

Get those octopii!
Just thought I'd clarify that Suikoden II question yesterday, since I've been through it like 8 times. Stupid addicted me. :(

You can only get two Listening Crystals in one game of Suikoden II, from that guy on the path to Matilda. However, there are 4 possible monsters to get with these crystals. Abizboah, a Kraken, Rulodia, another Kraken, Sigfried, the unicorn, and Feather, a gryphon. If you take Abizboah, I believe he replaces Sigfried as a star. . . However, Rulodia, who is only available after Abizboah, is not a star. Therefore, if you get Rulodia and Abizboah, you'll be short a star (unless you gameshark Sigfried or Feather in ^^;. . like I did with Joey my 6th time through ^_^) However, after you get both Rulodia and Abizboah, you head somewhere in your castle (the docks to be specific) and you chase after this little hermit-crab looking thing, and that's the other extra character, Chuchara. He still isn't a star. You can get both Abizboah and Rulodia in the cave near Tinto. A ways in is a bit of water with a branch of land under it, if I'm describing it right. . . you go up to the water and use a Listening Crystal to get Abizboah, and afterwards, come back with Abizboah and go to the same place, and Rulodia will surface.

Hope this helped. :)

[ My only leftover question is how do you get the arhcer chicky who comes with Feather, if you don't get Feather? Does she just come along? ]

Hoo boy.. it's an editorial. But he bashes on other sites, so I whole-heartedly approve.

This is a letter written on a topic that is shared with another letter I recently wrote to another gaming site's QA guy. I was hoping for an intelligent response in writing afforementioned letter, but instead recieved an all-out flame that led most of the "underground" RPG community, of which we belong, to deem this QA person a "complete, utter moron" when they'd read the entire bit. It seemed likely that you would publish this letter in your Sunday QA column. I know full well how you would respond, that being in a more intelligent manner than your counterpart employed by this other RPG site. Feel free to edit this letter, should things grow unneccesarily long and boring.

[ Only you and I will ever know if this email is truly the full one you sent me, or whether my evil-ness has judged certain portions to make way too much sense to be publically viewable with your name. OH THE EVIL! ]

Is the RPG community compromising its standards of quality because of the past efforts of certain RPG companies? How is it that games, which are later decided to be complete drivel by the same people who would laud them so, are deemed "the best RPG to ever exist" months after their release? Each Final Fantasy game, Chrono Cross, Vagrant Story, and Xenogears all met with "this is the best game I've ever played!" upon their domestic releases.

Do people realize exactly what they're proclaiming to be the holiest of holies? We live in the post-SNES RPG era, where storylines don't have to make sense as long as they contain enough adult themes and psychobabble dialogue to be percieved as "deep". In the post-SNES RPG era, gameplay takes a back seat to FMV, as we're taught that the key to success in battle is not through strategic use of skills allotted, but rather through well-timed button mashing and sequenced button mashing. What are the two key elements that an RPG must contain in order to be seen as a quality game? That's right. A well-written plot and solid gameplay.

[ I'll go on some defense here to say that some games (especially Legend of Dragoon) have given the "Button Mashing" at least some value, which brings the old SNES RPGs version of "Leave the Cursor setting on 'Memory' and then rubber band the "A" button down" completely out of the picture. Some of the older games didn't have the greatest gameplay either. ;) It was innovative for the day, but they need to continue to innovate in order to not die in a rut. ]

Can one person reading this honestly remember, at this moment in time, one plot hole contained in Final Fantasy IV? Final Fantasy VI? Chrono Trigger? Yet, I can sit and think, instantaneously, of major plot problems with the game that had "the best RPG plot of all time", that being Xenogears. From the fact that animus powers the gears, yet when animus is destroyed by Deus the gears still work (it isn't until a later time that the gears actually stop working, and there is no explanation given for this. Deus: "Woops! Those gears aren't supposed to be working!"), to Fei battling Id at a mid-point in the game despite Id being an extra personality lurking beneath Fei's subconscious, to Elly suffering completely from the Lois Lane complex. (Hey, here's Id! Hey... where's Fei? Oh, wait, he had to go wash his dog.) This is the game that contains the best plotline ever contained in an RPG? These are characters we "identify" with?

Do you remember how much fun you had in the T-Rex Forest in FF6, allotting time and points to building certain characters around templates you'd construct in your head? (Okay, Celes is the white mage, Terra is the badass with Atma, Sabin is my backup white mage...) You'd combine relics for effects, you'd equip armors because of certain advantages... but in recent games? You can achieve a desired effect by simply walking around, having X number of fights, and pushing this certain button at this certain time. Xenogears, Vagrant Story... hell, one couldn't use Squall efficiently unless they mastered the Art of R1. These games are masterworks?

Where have our standards gone? When I posed this question to said rival QA officer, he responded by saying that "He'll continue to love Square because Square made such quality games when he was a child." So what! I liked eating dirt as a kid, doesn't mean its cool now. I liked giving cooties to girls as a kid, doesn't mean I do so now. I like hamburgers from McDonalds, but enough bad hamburgers from McDonalds and I don't eat McDonalds hamburgers anymore.

[ As a side note, this Oracle still likes "giving cooties to girls" rowr, baby. Rowr. ]

I'd say that it is time for the RPG community to take a good, honest look at these weak attempts at RPGs that Square has been flooding the market with since it left Nintendo. If you play a game, don't live in denial. I want mindless hunting action and no prevalent plot? I play Asheron's Call. And that's why I -like- Asheron's Call. If I want plot and gameplay? I don't play games that contain neither, say they do, and then proclaim them to be "awesome" for containing elements that they don't have.

Wake up, RPGers. Reach inside, pull out the Squaresoft brainwash chip, find a sense of individuality, and exist in a manner that is more like a community of educated gamers than sheep that Square leads into a million+ profit stable.

Take back the day.

Peace, I'm out,

Darry J. Huskey, esquire

[ If you want to respond to this email, as I'm sure many of you do, keep these things in mind: Respond to the general point, not specific examples, please.. I don't want to print a rebuttal for each supposed plot-hole Darry discussed in Xenogears. Also, keep it nice, keep it clean, and above all, keep it intelligent. Being a complete ass will just end up with a very mocking reply, and no gaurantee of being printed :P No gaurantee on the reply either. Last point: Keep it to tomorrow/tonight. After tomorrow's Q&A goes up, cut off the discussion till next weekend. Goog doesn't wanna deal with my dirty laundry. Email ALL responses to Thank you.]


I thought you wore Ozzie Pants...or was it just a Flea Vest?

Brad: Don't mess with me. I've got a mop, and I know how to use it!

Hey Brad,
Guess what?
Ha ha, works every time!

Brad: Yeah?
.. DOH!
.. :(

I just beat the Chrysler Building. WHO-HOOO!!!

The Wandering God

Brad: That's on my list of things to play soon. Hrm.

my girlfriend just left for 2 weeks. having a girlfriend on vacation sucks dont it.=(


Brad: Yes :( Though mine's back on Tuesday.. yay!

Dear guy whose name is an anagram of "Larh Orb",

For the vast majority of RPGs I buy, I also get a strategy guide. Is this ok? If it isn't, how should I go about stopping? If it is, can I have some money to buy more?

Brad: Two strategies: 1) Think about it when they ask you, "Do you want the strategy guide?" translate as: "Would you like to pay EXTRA money so we can remove half the fun out of the game? (the finding things and stuff).

2) Learn to save the $15 and just go to

Do you have a birdhouse in your soul?


Brad: Yeah, it's plugged into the outlet by the lightswitch.


Do I get a prize for knowing that the line 'Blew out my pilot light.. and maade a wish!' is from 'Twisting' by They Might Be Giants?


Brad: Sure, here's a rock to wind a piece of string around.

What does M.I.A stand for underneath blinky Heather?

Brad: "Missing in Action" .. I know I've answered this before.

he's a complicated man who no one understands but his woman. Brad!

Brad: He's one bad motherf-- "Shut yo mouth!".. Just talkin' 'bout Brad!

Wrapping it up...

Okay, taken enough time getting this thing up... gotta clean up the house today, or something... wheeee.... see y'all tomorrow.

Brad "Blue Valkyrie need target practice, badly!" Lohr