Strange Whispers
Wednesday, May 01, 2002

In case you're wondering about today's random update title (and which one hasn't been random lately? Hopefully some caught the Lunar 2 reference in Monday's title...), it was inspired by the Kingdom Hearts track that was playing when I glanced at the iTunes window, wondering what would be the inspiration for my update title today. Hmm, and it just changed to 'Under the Sea'... if you don't mind a few Disney tunes, KH has an awesome soundtrack, done by none other than Yoko Shimomura.

And now I have to listen to Devil May Cry playing in the background. Damn.

Anyway, Chrono's absent again, since he has other stuff to do - unless I can drag his butt over here. I finally beat Super Mario RPG last night - wonder if the ending was inspired by the moonlit parade in Chrono Trigger's ending at all? Final Fantasy X is next on my list of RPGs to conquer, go me. So tonight's update is the usual long one, so let's get to it.

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Ooh, they can h4XX0R my house now!

Greetings again Schala and Chrono,

Firstly to clarify from my last letter, I was referring to Skies of Arcadia's battle camera being erratic, not Grandia 2's which I found had smoother panning during battles. But given I used a poor transition in my prose...

So, what does the Dezo want to know concerning E3? There are the usual players like what's Square going to make for the GameCube, and what are Atlus's plans (if any) for more Megami Tensei in the US.

But I'm sure as you saw in the boards' recently locked E3 thread, it's the non-Japanese developers that have piqued my interest the most this time. I'm curious about LucasArts' Xbox RPG Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and I'm curious about that E3 teaser on the LucasArts website with that ninja character art. If it's going to be an RPG or better yet a graphic adventure, I'll be a happy Dezo.

And if Phantagram Interactive is going to be there, their online RPG Shining Lore Online (which I've brought up in the boards as well) has me interested. The idea of having my own house and being able to build levels doing things I like (rather than mindless hack-and-slash) sounds cool. Now to decide if I want my character to be a chef or a clothing designer...

But, really, the one thing I'm most curious about overall is that given the rising popularity of online RPGs, I'd most like to know what steps developers will take to curb cheating and foul play in their RPGs. That's a pretty big concern in the MMORPG realm and many of my friends quit Phantasy Star Online because of the rampant foul play.

I really want to play Shining Lore Online at some point, but I may not want to play if, say, I'm in my house minding my own business and then some punk decides to use a cheat code to burn my house down and corrupt my data just to get his jollies.

So that's what the Dezo wants to know regarding E3. I hope you all have a great time.

The Dezo

I'm interested in seeing Square's plans for Nintendo in general, especially after hearing that they're planning something regarding either sequels or remakes of games such as Chrono Trigger (I want a Chrono Trigger sequel AND a remake, personally), Parasite Eve and Seiken Densetsu. I guess the official plans will be announced at E3, or so we're hoping.

I was reading the latest EGM earlier tonight, and someone wrote a letter saying that his friend believes the Star Wars RPG is going to be better than FFX, just because some XBox magazine said so. I wonder how his friend feels after he sees EGM's response about when they saw the game - there was no battle, lighting, character interaction among other things. If so much has yet to be done, how can it be better than FFX already? It'll be interesting to see, whenever it comes out.

The whole cheating thing is one reason why I'm shying away from online RPGs, and why I stopped playing PSO after a few months last year. I wonder if I'll ever get to them, especially with my long list of traditional console RPGs growing, as well as non-RPG games such as Metroid. And when I say Metroid, I mean the entire series.

Anyway, if Phantagram Interactive is at E3, I'll hopefully remember to stop by and play Shining Lore Online for a bit (granted that it's here and playable) and tell you how it is. I'd be a chef, personally... somehow I don't think I'd make a great clothing designer - I may wear nice stuff, but I sure as hell can't design any.

My dearest Ayumi.

Schala and/or Chrono,

After reading today's column, (I write this Friday) I have to thank Red Company for making Thousand Arms, because without it, I would have never been introduced to Ayumi Hamasaki. Thanks.

Topically speaking, I would like to hear Working Designs finally announce what their "Mystery Rpg" is. Thinking about it, I would like to hear more information on Suikoden III, and maybe possibly the announcement of something unexpected, whatever it may be.

I'm sure there are other things I have forgotten.

Moving on, I have some questions; (Numbered, of course.)

1. If you could decide on any artist/musician/band/singer to sing the theme to a game, who would it be, and for what game?

2. Have either of you ever won some kind of videogame contest? (I've won a couple, oddly enough. )

I had other questions, just can't remember right now.

See you later,

RpgFan Fan

I don't know what it is that introduced Ayumi to me - probably the import store that was playing one of her songs, which prompted me to buy the single on the spot. What single, you ask? Evolution, probably her loudest (before being remixed) song to date.

The rumor mill tells me that WD may announce as many as five games at E3 - given that none of their deals fall through, anyway. I wonder what they'll actually SHOW though. Hopefully not Arc again, since it would be the third year in a row... but if WD has nothing else to show yet, then if the past is any indication, they'll just show the recently released stuff.

1) I like Megumi Hayashibara a lot. I'd love to hear her sing a theme for a game for once, rather than anime. For that matter, I wouldn't mind hearing her do a major voice acting role in an RPG either. (Preferebly, someone not as soft-spoken as Rei Ayanami in EVA.) It'd be interesting to see one of those two happen with Xenosaga; though with composer Yasunori Mitsuda's track record, the former's less likely to happen, as Joanne Hogg seems to be the vocal for anything Xeno.

2) Neither of us. I guess we're just not that lucky. Although I did win a trip to Hollywood once...

Um, help me.

Dear, [and of course, I only say 'Dear' in the loosest possible interpretation and its use does not in any way imply that I hold the slightest amount of respect for you pathetic fools], Dear You Pathetic Fools:

I sent you a letter. Like maybe yesterday. I think. And did it get printed?! [again, "printed" is used in a loose sort of definition in which it can mean publication on some web site] No!!! I can only either attribute this to one of two things:

1. My letter had nothing to do with rpgs, which is true, but see my second point.

2. You're all a bunch of communists!!!!! Burn! Burn in...in...wherever you came from. Dang, never mind.

I'm pretty 1337, aren't I?


Well, maybe I am.
Now I'm beginning to doubt that you'll ever read past the first line of this message.

Now I get to the part that gets this letter printed, and if this doesn't work, you're all a bunch of commies, as stated in 2, above.

Question: I heard part of the sound track to chrono trigger was by Uematsu somewhere. Can you confirm whether or not this is true, and if it is, what tracks did he do, anyway? or what?

Question [version 2]: Am I a 1337 h4x0r or what?

Question [version 3. 3.1, yeah.]: I beat xenogears in under 3 hours. Do I rule or what?

Question [version 4.12433215]: Are my mad skillz tight or what?

Wait until i send you some real questions that'll make you all cry into your...um....wait. dang. never mind.

lord of chaos. a leet haxor if you ever met one.

You're one of those who never read the Mailbag FAQ, aren't you? When you send in a letter it's not guaranteed to make it in the very next column, because of our overflow of letters, though we do get to them all when we can, and letters received earlier take priority. Or something.

1) Uematsu did indeed help out on the CT OSV. And yes, you even get a complete listing of the tracks he did! Aren't I generous? Anyway, here goes:
Wind Scene (600 AD theme); Mystery of the Past (when you try to open the sealed chests before charging tthe pendant); People Without Hope (2300 AD, inside the Domes); Bike Chase; Underground Sewer; Primitive Mountain (when you first get to 65,000,000 BC); Burn! Bobonga! (the prehistoric dance); Tyrano Castle; Sealed Door (Belthasar's Theme). I'm quite surprised with the last one, since it sounds pretty Mitsuda-ish, I think.

2) Uh... have you h4xx0r3d anything lately? :P

3) No, you didn't. Just the intro text takes three hours to read. Or so it feels.

4) What mad skillz? Oh, and you messed up the line too; it's "Master, sir! Did you just see my MAD SKILLZ?!"

Mmm, Pringles. Aw shucks, I'm all out.

hello schala and chrono,

i have 2 questions for you schala and a shout out to chrono, whut up homie!

1.are you going to get a pink tail in FF4?
2.what is your fav kind of pringles? i luv sour cream and onion.

peace out

1) I tried, but I got bored of trying to run into the PinkPuffs in that one little room. So, I went and beat the game. Booya.

2) Those are my faves too. And Pizza. And BBQ. And Cajun. And that flavor that I got a sample package of a month or two ago and have yet to find them in an actual store. Something and Garlic. Ah hell, just call me a Pringles whore.

Anyone got J-emo? [Disclaimer: Emo's the worst name ever for a music genre. I think.]

Dear both of you,

I couldn't help but noticing your references to Japanese music in the last mailbag. First of all, let me say that I'm very sorry for you Schala, for having to put up with the likes of Hamasaki Ayumi wailing in your living room. Where is your dignity, Chrono? She wears TAILS for crying out loud. TAILS!!! And anyone who's seen hey hey hey (this music programme in Japan) can safely say that her IQ is the same as that of an oyster (no offence to oysters). Personally, I'll take Utada Hikaru anytime instead of Ayu (she beat the hell out of the host in this show at Tetris...got to love her). Schala, I love L'arc as well, I used to do all their songs in karaoke and it was great (albeit a little high-pitched sometimes...damn that Hyde!). Luna Sea is cool, I absolutely love this song that was in the main title for a drama that was aired a few years ago called "kami-sama mou sukoshi dake" (with the lovely Fukada Kyouko), I think it's "Love Song". Anyway, Luna Sea is great and yes, I do agree that it tends to get a bit whiny after a while. However, Kawamura Ryuichi's solo work is even worse in that sense. Does any of you like Love Psychedelico? I do reccomend you download a few of their songs (especially Last Smile). They're very popular in Japan, although it's not J-Pop in any way...it's more like Fiona Apple meets Sheryl Crow and then goes Japanese (nonsensical analogies aside). And if you like L'arc, you might like Glay too, as they're quite similar (as in high-schooly type of music that appeals to younger people). I still like L'arc more though. Unfortunately I stopped being in high-school some 4-5 years ago...am I in denial?!

Oh yeah, I forgot, RPGs. Err...yeah, I like them. They're cool. I played the Japanese version of FFX and I'm sorry that it's been translated into English. Somehow the Japanese voices are so much better. The translation loses much of the humour, although it's very Japanese humour so it's probably not funny to most westerners anyway. Besides, it's good parctice when you forget the kanjis and they say them out loud so you remember how to read them again. Ah, well. I shouldn't be playing RPGs as an excuse to studying anyway. OR SHOULD I?


Awww, Ayumi's not bad. I like her newer stuff better, myself, her older's a bit too pop-ish for my taste. And quit mentioning her wearing tails (though I don't think she does anymore), it reminds me of Chrono's brother's fetish for catgirls. Ahh, make it stop! As much as I like L'arc, I have yet to get an album of theirs. I just found out a couple of nights ago they did a vocal song for Rurouni Kenshin. Plus, I'm currently more familiar with Luna Sea than L'arc at the moment. I've heard one Glay song and they're pretty good... I want to hear more. I haven't heard of the other band though, sorry. I HATE (or |-|473) Sheryl Crow with a passion. Please don't mention that name in my presence again... anyway, Fiona's not bad.

Eh, it seems like the Japanese voices are better in any given game or anime, but I wonder how we know for sure, since well, most of us here can't understand the Japanese in the first place. Of course anime's much more rampant in Japan so they're used to voice acting for it, plus it's their own piece of art... or something.

Err, can games make you high? I hope not.

"(Maybe that'd explain the disappearance of plenty of Pringles as well... am I turning into a junk food junkie o what?)"

Don't worry Schala, You aren't turning into a junk food junkie. Games are just a lot like Pot. They great cravings for stuff that is easy to eat and doesn't require much thought

In reply to SrBehemoth:
What makes an RPG? Well, storyline and characters. Zelda 64, which plays a lot like ICO in my opinion, is considered an RPG by most people. Whereas Secret Of Evermore is not considered on my many people (don't know about RPGFan, haven't checked), though to me it is one, and it too is similar to Zelda and ICO.

I think people are too bent on what is and isn't an RPG. They've adopted a comparison system that means RPGs need to fit exactly into a Final Fantasy/Dragon Warrior niche. This doesn't allow for much in the way of advancement beyond graphics. I'm tired of the "Save the world with a group of heros" RPGs. I was tired of MMORPGs a few seconds after I heard about them all they are is adventure games without the game play.

Games like Secret of Evermore, ICO, and Land Stalker are RPGs, just far less traditional that you'd expect. Give a little room for exploration in what a genre can be, let companies push the limits, and great things will happen. Constrain companies, force them to fit their games into a mold, and all you get is a stagnant pool of broken records, just with new labels so you think it's different. Look to games like Escape Velocity (Mac only, http://www.ambrosiaSW.com/), and you will see RPG elements. Why can't these be RPGs? Because people are stuck in the Final Fantasy clich?

I applaud RPGFan for reviewing and including ICO, Ocarina of Time, Land Stalker and (if it's there, if not, I'll write the damn thing) Secret of Evermore.

MMORPGs aren't new, they are graphical representations of what pen-and-paper RPG gamers have always wanted to do, which is great, but don't be fooled into thinking they are something ultra special.

MGS is not an RPG, in my opinion, because it's far too cinematic. It's hard to get into the role in a cinematic game. For this reason I always considered Parasite Eve more adventure than RPG, though I love the game.

OH KAY. On topic now. I'd like to see (bet DEFINITELY wont I'm sure), a Mac/PC/GameCube/PS2/Xbox MMO Adventure title based on Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Cuz I love that game soooooooo much. More than I love Invader Zim. Anyone want to send me a copy? I can't find a copy anywhere. Game Traders didn;t even know what it was... *Cries* (and I created a little overveiw of the MMOA version, if you want to see it drop me a line masterkew@mac.com. It's a Word document, so you'll need to have Word.)

I'd also like to see a GameCube Sequel to, and remake of, Secret of Evermore.

And, because I'm a freak, I want to hear that the Xbox is being discontinued because it's controllers are so bad.

-Marcus (who apologizes for the RPG rant)

Pot, huh? I'm sorry to say, but I don't smoke the stuff. :P But how you describe it otherwise can explain last night, when I ate about 10 Reese Peanut Butter Cups while beating Super Mario RPG.

Speaking of RPGs, we do in fact classify SoE as one, I don't see why not, really. As far as classifying RPGs goes, RPGFan needs to do that in order to know what we cover. I personally think RPG-wise our coverage is pretty broad - we did after all, cover ICO, even if it was a bit of a mistake. Personally, however, I don't dwell too much on what's an RPG or not... if it's fun, I'll play it. Hence me playing Smash Bros. Melee alone for an hour, as Samus, against three computer-player Samus'. And guess what? Every other Samus kicked my ass, except for one round. Maybe I put their levels too high.

What are you looking at? Samus is cool. :P

Anyway... I've noticed a lot of RPGs having similar gameplay, battle systems etc, and lots more that are more unique. Secret of Mana was fun, and I wouldn't mind seeing something new that's similar. I tend to think of RPGs as games that have enough RPG elements to be classified as one, not games that are carbon copies of each other. MGS never was an RPG, though I do think it has a few elements, just not enough. Parasite Eve... was still an RPG to me. I don't know about the second one since I haven't played it, but I'd rather play a PE that plays like an RPG rather than one that plays like Resident Evil.

Anyway, we have both an editor and reader review of Landstalker, so go and check them out. Oh, and I don't think your X-Box wish will come true, since the new, smaller controllers are now on sale. Oh well. How happy would you be if I told you it was at least failing to impress in Asia?

What you say?

Chrono, Schala,

In truth, probably every Japanese game suffers from a poor translation when it is brought over to North American, or at least native English shores. The difference is made in the localization process, where, hopefully, the rough translation is edited and brought to more closely resemble English as we know and love it. My assumption is that the localization in both Final Fantasy Tactics and Breath of Fire II was next to non-existent, given such examples as Rei's Bracelet attacks. I disagree regarding the quality of Dragon Warrior VII's localization, as although many of the skill descriptions were muddled, the actual dialogue suffered only from a few typographical errors and integration glitches. Although I'm not really fit to judge that, the majority of reviewers seem to agree. I wouldn't think that EGM would give PSX game of the year to something as poorly done as FFT.

With regards to Valkyrie Profile, I think we might be going off different definitions of what non-linear means with regard to video games. Literally everything but the first and last dungeons in VP are completely optional, and can be skipped or completed at the player's whim. There are chronological restrictions as far as when certain locations become available, mostly for story reasons, but regardless, VP is one of the most non-linear games I've played, as you have starting point A and ending point Z, and you really can get from A to Z in just about any way you choose. And although you couldn't buy items in shops with money, at the end of each chapter, you are given Divine Materialize points, which are the currency of the game world, so to speak. The farther in the game you are, the more items which you can divinely materialize for a given amount of points, which closely mimics more tradition mortar-and-brick shops in more traditional RPGs.


I guess I should have played VP more, or my memory is rusty. Oh well.

I've seen fan translations of games, and sometimes wish they used those instead. While playing Xenosaga, I followed a (still not complete) fan translation, and it's actually quite good. I think the problem that comes with translating games and anime for North American releases, that instead of doing a direct translation, they might be trying too hard to be careful with their translation so as not to somehow offend someone, or change the dialogue to appeal more to the West, or something. Or, they hired the wrong translators who simply can't fully translate some things, so that they'd actually make complete sense in English. I think yet another problem could be not checking over the final translated script (at least with someone who speaks very fluent English) and making sure it actually makes sense. My guess is, the reason that fansubs of such things seem to be so much better according to a lot of 'hardcore' fans, is because whoever does a fansub doesn't have all that kind of pressure of being careful with translations and so on, since they don't have to worry about sales and the like.

Master of... me? Ahhh, methinks not.

What's up Schala / Chrono!

I would want to see a few things said at E3....

-"Elder Scrolls 4 has been announced!"
-"Final Fantasy 12 has been announced as a 4 player RPG for PS2!" (What's the deal with the no multiplayer RPGs anyways? People want them and where I am they are in demand, but they never come..hmm...)
-"Microsoft has gone out of buisness due to sucking...AND BADLY AT THAT!"
-"Schala wants to marry Rudo!" opps ^ ^
-"The first VR(virtual reality) RPG announced for the internet, so people can make their own RPGs and live them!"
-"Oreos are good for you...maybe Pringles!"
-"Kingdom Hearts has been moved up to last Tuesday! Opps EVERYONE RUSH TO THE STORE TO GET ONE AHHHHHHHHH!"
-"Microsoft has gone broke because they...dang nm we said that already."

So basically what we all can learn that is FF4 had a great last dungeon and oreos are hypnotic!

Master of RPGs and Schala!

Great last dungeon? I was ready to pull my hair out. I wish Xenosaga's was longer and somewhat similar though - it was too straightforward. As for E3...

Eeew, I'm never marrying Rudo. He's too old for me and he likes strip clubs. :P
They can do that with FF12 only if it ends up cool like Secret of Mana.
M$ never will go out of business. Sad but true.
I only wish KH was out. Listening to the OST makes me want to play it more.
Elder Scrolls IV might actually become true. Someday. (Chronologist: Yeah, but really, who cares? Not me!)

Anyway, I need to get back to my hypnotic Oreos. Excuse me. Oh yeah, and I have no master. Sorry, buster.

Please, no animals crossing the road jokes. Thank you.

Hello, Schala and Chrono!

I have to say that the game that I am looking forward to the most at this year's E3 is a game that I haven't seen a whole lot of press on: Animal Crossing. I think this has the potential to be one of the most unique, groundbreaking games to come about in a long time, but there seems to be a drought of information regarding it. God knows the Cube could use any game right now, not just RPGs. I think this game could be a big one for the boys in Redmond, if they would only put out a bit of press for it.


The Darkrider

Well...that might be because there's not too much press on it to begin with, at least none that I've seen. If I see it at E3 maybe I'll take a look and give it a try, who knows. I know the Cube doesn't have much, but I still play Smash Bros. Melee every day. It's getting a lot of pretty good games in the next year, if you ask me.
Closing Thoughts

Wow, another midnight passes, another mailbag done. Alone. All by myself. Well... with Buffy playing in the background, anyway. Don't ask, I'm not the one who watches it. And please don't get too impatient, your letter will definitely show up, even if it's not in the next immediate update. I promise. I've got to go drown Buffy out with more Kingdom Hearts music now, so please excuse me. I'd still like to hear more about your E3 expectations, by the way.

Chronologist: Yeah yeah, I watch Buffy. Write me and mock me and I shall destroy you.

~ Chronologist & Schala (letters@rpgfan.com)


Twitch Schedule & Status

Sunday, September 30
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 4.4 • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

Star Ocean: Till The End of Time • 3:00pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Wild ARMs 5 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Wild ARMs 5 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Kingdom Hearts - Re:Chain of Memories • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Wild ARMs 5 • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Final Fantasy IX • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
Friday Super Variety Night • 7pm PDT/10pm EDT

Week in Review: Live • 11am PDT/2pm EDT
Wild ARMs 5 • 5pm PDT/8pm EDT

Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review

Valkyria Chronicles 4

CrossCode Giveaway

CrossCode Giveaway

Heaven Will Be Mine Review

Heaven Will Be Mine

Retro Encounter 154

Retro Encounter 154

CrossCode Review