iTunes - Podcast RSS Feed - Podcast RSS Feed - News RPGFan YouTube Channel RPGFan on Facebook RPGFan on Twitter


RPGFan Social Links
Love and Peace!
Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Does anyone remember me saying in my last update how I went from having an overflow of letters to a shortage? Well, I'm overflowed again, which I don't mind at all. Funny how that works though, though I wish it'd stick as a more constant overflow than anything. I love you people... maybe. :P And as always with the long updates with many letters, so comes many different topics.

Was anyone else obsessed with the Sphere Grid in FFX? I 'leveled up' (not that FFX has actual levels, per se), and spent extra time fighting battles for so long, that I have 60 of each red sphere except for one - Ability - and I'm completely out of that one. It's oddly fun. I also won the Blitzball tournament, which surprised me, but I don't really plan on playing Blitzball after that. Metroid II hasn't been touched since I got back into FFX, save for finally being able to waste my first Omega Metroid - those things are real buggers. And finally, my character du jour in SSBM is Mr. Game & Watch just because he's so damn quirky and cool. Sure, he's hard to use, but I think I've adjusted to him pretty well.

Roswell had its series finale tonight, and it wasn't as depressing (at least near the end, anyway) as I'd expected it to be. It's too bad a show like that has to end, especially considering how much worse I've seen out there in TV land. :P

Okay, enough of my own rambling. These letters make the update long enough as it is. Oh, and blame the goofy title on my silly mood lately.

Recent Updates
[ Current ]
[ 03/07/05 ]
[ 01/25/06 ]
[ 12/13/05 ]
[ 11/10/05 ]
Sections
Mailbag Archives
Mailbag FAQ
Topic of the Moment
E-mail Daniel, unless you're a scammer from Nigeria.
 
 
Must... resist urge... to quote Penny Arcade comment on this.

Dear Schala and Chrono,

I'm sure I speak for most every gamer around these parts when I say it's rather dumb for anyone from parents to friends, to courts, to anyone to say video games are not a form of art. In fact, I personally think they are artistic on more levels than a lot of other media. I'm preaching to the choir here, but I figured I'd say my piece. Grab a beverage, it's gonna be long.

Video games are artistic, visually. Can anyone look at the beautiful, hand-drawn, pastel-shaded backdrops of SaGa Frontier 2 and tell me that isn't art? Can anyone look at the fluidity of the motion captured people in the FMV of FF8's ballroom dance scene and tell me that isn't a visually stunning piece of art? Can anyone play Grim Fandango and tell me the character designs of the people aren't among the most artistically original character designs ever created (they're all skeletons)? Can anyone play Jet Grind Radio or Sonic Shuffle and tell me that cel-shaded polygons is not a cool visual art form? (well okay, some may not look at JGR's graffiti stylings as art, but whatever).

And even in terms of animation and facial expressions in characters, I still cannot get over Floigan Bros for Dreamcast. The game plays like an interactive Tex Avery style cartoon complete with exaggerated facial expressions on the characters. The level of detailing in the character animations is phenominal.

Video games are artistic, aurally. I have a friend who is a music education major. At first he was hesitant to hear video game music because he expected 8-bit Nintendo blips and bleeps. Then when I put disk 1 of the FF8 soundtrack in the stereo and Liberali Fatali played, a brand new Nobuo Uematsu fan was born. And look at how RPGs utilize such diverse styles of music from Skies of Arcadia's orchestrated pieces to Persona 2's electronica and techno stylings. Game music has come a long way since the NES PCM days and with such formats as GD-ROM and DVD, we're getting better quality music and even vocal numbers.

I think if more people listened to game music with no preconceived notions or not knowing it's even game music, I'm sure many would say, "Hey, this is really good stuff."

And I consider voice acting an art (hey, I do a lot of cartoon voice imitations and am looking into voice over workshops) so games with good VA impress me by having characters that sound genuine and help me get into them. Again, Floigan Bros would be a bland and boring title were it not for Frank Welker's (one of America's most prolific voice actors) voicing of Moigle Floigan.

Video games are artistic, kinesthetically. Through various gameplay mechanisms a level of interaction is achieved that cannot be achieved through watching a movie or looking at a painting. Part of the art to me is using the controller in myriad ways to control the interaction between your alter-ego and the environment.

Video games can achive an art in storytelling. Games like The Longest Journey, Final Fantasy 7, Shin Megami Tensei, Maken X, and others have levels of storytelling that rival or even surpass that of movies or TV shows. Where a movie only gives you 2-4 hours to develop the character and plot and a 26 episode TV series gives you about 13 hours, the average RPG gives you at least 40 hours- well okay, much of that is spent in dungeons and battles, but even if you spend half the game there, that's still 20 hours of plot.

I remember my mom once asking me why I like games like Final Fantasy so much. She didn't believe me when I said, "they have really involved stories." Then I proceeded to tell her the story in FF8...I didn't even get to the part involving the train to Deling and she said, "That sounds like a really epic plot." In another incident, she saw me playing Persona 2: Innocent Sin and commented, "That game has a lot of Japanese text, like a book. Can you understand all of it? You must be missing so much of the story." And she uses my love of RPGs to bolster my appreciation for epic literature. "You love epic fantasy like in those games you play. You would love reading Mahabharata" she says.

And some games like Persona 2 even made me go out and read up on mythology and look for mythological artwork so I think some games can foster an appreciation for art.

But, yes, there are many games out there that are more splatter than art. Same way, we have art-house indie movies and blockbuster summer action flicks with crappy acting and violence every 28 seconds to appease our senses. It's just a matter of finding it. Same way, we have crappy music on the radio constantly but on the underground scene, we have artists who are actually making good music.

The truly artistic games such as the RPGs, the well-done graphic adventures (such as Grim Fandango and The Longest Journey), and the innovative titles like Floigan Bros and Incredible Crisis are out there, but unfortunately the most popular games in the US are the less artistic ones like the sports games, Tony Hawk, or something like that and thus gaming is based on those mainstream things.

I think anyone out there who doesn't see the artistic value in video games just hasn't seen the right games. I remember watching Ebert and Roeper and Ebert said something about giving Blade 2 more credibility because it's based on a comic with "plot and characters" rather than a video game "that's just fight scenes." The first thing that popped into my head was "Just fight scenes? You don't know jack about games. Try playing The Longest Journey, Grim Fandango, or Final Fantasy 7 THEN tell me video games have throwaway plots, paper thin characters, and gratuitous fight scenes."

I think I'll end here. I think I said everything I needed to say...didn't I?

Blademaster Dezo

Schala:
No, not every game is a work of art or even an expression of art at all. But games, in general, usually have a lot of effort put into them - by none other than artists. This is the part that I can't get over the most. Despite the fact that music, graphics and story - all forms of art, mind you - are put into (most) video games, they -still- aren't art? To say that games can't convey ideas or expression is like saying a movie or book can't do these same things. Often the game's situation is similar as a movie, but moreso interactive, and having you be the main character, instead of just watching it all. I think someone who's given that kind of responsibility to make such a decision should look more into video games, than just playing Fear Effect, Doom, 'Mortal Combat' and my favorite, 'Resident of Evil Creek'. I'm sure if there was just a little bit of research put in, he'd spell at least one of the last two right. Second, if he was going to stick to four games, he should have tried four games of different genres. Say, an RPG, a platformer, a fighting game and a sports game. There are games out there, such as Xenogears, that have more art in its pinky than Snoop Doggy Dogg has had in his entire 'rap' career.

I would have had more to say on the matter if you hadn't said it for me already, Dezo. :P

 
It's also illegal to take the kinds of drugs that Lord of Chaos does...

Schala, (and yes I do think that Samus would be a better name)

As far as Zelda is concerned (or Celda), I do not believe that anyone has the right to pass too hasty of judgments on a game just because of its cartoon-like graphics.  In an interview recently, Miyamoto stated that Zelda would not be Zelda if it looked like everything else (referring to the new cel-shaded graphics opposed to the more realistic mature-looking graphics shown at E3 last year.)  While I do not believe that people should judge a game just because of its graphics (something we are all guilty of at one time or another) one has to ask the question, "when should artistic freedom be limited by the corporations responsibilities?"  There have been numerous questions raised regarding this topic (mostly bad), and it is not unknown to Nintendo. If there is so much controversy regarding something as simple as a game's graphics, why would Nintendo not step in and protect their interests? After all, underneath all of the glitz and glamour of the videogame world, there still lies the root of it all...money. Why would they take such a big risk and release the game anyways, if there are so many people criticizing the project? They must really have a hell of a lot of confidence in Miyamoto, and why shouldn't they.....right?

Regarding your claim about the "court ruling that video games aren't an expression of art."   I have absolutely no idea what you could possibly be talking about. I do know that there was a highly publicized lawsuit that blamed Sony, Activision, and Id Software for the violence of the Columbine school shootings. but that was recently dismissed. 

Also, I know of a new bill that is being proposed by a democrat congressman from California named Joe Baca that would make selling violent videogames to a minor a felony.  It is called, "The Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act of 2002."  But I don't think that that would interpret to saying that videogames are not a valid form of art.  

Also, there is the "Media Marketing and Accountability Act", which as of last year was referred to committee in the Senate and has also been submitted to the House of Representatives.  I think that is probably what you are talking about. This bill is trying to enact restrictions on the ways that companies can market and advertise Mature-rated games. The bill merely suggests that media would not be allowed to market games to little kids.  While this doesn't sound like it would affect the majority of us very much, it could indeed do just that. 

The government would have to decide exactly where and when it would be acceptable to market M-rated games.  This would most likely lead to absolutely no marketing of M-rated games on TV, magazines or otherwise whatsoever.  In effect this would lead to videogame companies not wanting to develop M-rated games in the first place because they would be impossible to sell without the ability to advertise freely.  So basically, this bill is an indirect violation of our fundamental right to free speech in the first amendment. 

If that is not the bill you are talking about, please elaborate, because I try to follow these issues somewhat closely and I'd definitely like to here about it.  Also, I think it should be against the law for people like Lord of Chaos' parents to breed.

Cloud701.

Schala:
I'd actually not read the interview in which Miyamoto had made that statement, but that's a really good point right there. As I've said many times before, realistic-looking games are impressive in the way that so much detail can be put in, but I mean, I'm not the most interested in playing a game that looks exactly like what I can go out and see in real life. But then, I'm more into fantasy anyways, so. In a way Nintendo's pretty bold in taking that direction, and it's going to really impress some gamers and turn off others. And it does look like they have a lot of faith in Miyamoto - again, he's been doing this for a very long time, he should know what he's doing. I don't think enough people are actually criticizing the look of Zelda GC enough for Nintendo to notice, as well as consider rethinking their approach, unless the company's just that confident. Again, I'm sure many of those critics may just play the game and change their opinion on the game.

Okay, court ruling. I believe it was 3 or more weeks ago, in which a federal judge in St. Louis ruled that video games offer "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech." An article on the ruling has a summary of the whole story, unfortunately, I wanted to find a more detailed article on the whole thing. By the way, the four games in question are, unless you read my response to the last letter, but just in case you didn't, here they are again: Fear Effect, Doom, 'Mortal Combat', and 'Resident of Evil Creek'.

 
Straying too far from reality is me thinking I'm Samus. :P

Hello Schala,

Since about December '01 I've been obsessed with SoftMax's new RPG, Magna Carta. All conceptual and character artwork are amazing. Hyung Tae Kim rules :) But I'm in an unfortunate position. Why? Because I live in Australia, which means we get everything last, and for every decent RPG or fighter, we get bombarded with about twenty freakin' sports games (if you could call them games).

Do you have even a slight interest in Magna Carta? Does any of the RPGFan staff want to play this promising game? Do you think there is even a chance of this coming to Australia? Or even the US?

Oh, about Square making amends with Nintendo, could this possibly mean an FF game on the GC? Or am I strayed too far from reality?

That's about it from me. See ya

- Magna Wing

Schala:
While Square has promised to keep its FF franchise on the PS2, that doesn't stop them from bringing other possible goodies over to the GC, either. Believe me, I'm waiting for an announcement of that kind.

Magna Carta... I think that game has quite the awesome artwork. I don't plan on purchasing it, since I'm not exactly the biggest importer on staff, and my cash flow isn't the best right now, not to mention reserved for domestic games first. And if it were to come here... well, I don't exactly have a PC. However, Tenchi actually owns the game, and he could tell you a lot more about it, I'm sure. Unfortunately, Magna Carta hasn't gotten all that much exposure here, so I wouldn't be all that hopeful on it making it to the US. Not that many Korean games do. And you know how much Australia gets, so as you imagine, the chances are even less. Sorry. :P

 
Sheik: The only bishounen girl you'll ever meet.

Reply to: Schala's opening statements,

Sheik is da BOMB, and my all time fave SSB character. And in a 4-way multiplayer, she can rip it up because she's so fast, and maneuverable. She's a total survival character, but she can't do a lot of damage, Avoidance is her best bet. Hold A after selecting a map to switch to Sheik right off. I'm just now learning to play as Zelda, and after that I'm going to learn to play as both at once (hehehe).

Here's a tip: Sheik's upward attacks and jump attacks are her best(in my opinion) and most damaging moves, and the whip can be really effective where bob-bombs or Mines are involved.

Reply to: The guy who will "proudly follow" Nintendo if they come up on top at E3 (Or Follow-the-Leader Guy),
I must say, if you only play a system that is on top, then you are missing out on a lot, but that's not what I wanted to reply to. Resident Evil is still scary, especially if you have a nice sounds setup in a dark, otherwise silent room. No it will not make the GameCube a super system, it will just grab some attention. Single games or series don't make a system, if they did, I'd own an Xbox instead of a GameCube. Also, the series isn't going down hill (Well if you don't count 3), and it's certainly not like Tomb Raider. If anything, the games are getting much better. I didn't even like the original Resident evil, but I loved the second one and code veronica. Resident Evil GC is much better, more fun, and more interesting than any of the PSX versions, or the Dreamcast variant.

OH and SSBM and FFX are completely different games. If one gets a 10 and the other gets a 9, that isn't a comparison. And EGM gives ALL FF games a high rating, even FF8, which sucked. And they frequently have ragged on Nintendo, so maybe they are making up for it, or maybe Nintento makes GOOD GAMES... Nah, that couldn't be it.

Reply to: Lord of All Humans,
The scorpion boss is a POC. You must really not be that great at FFVII if it was killing you. Good thing you are only Lord of All Humans in your head, or we'd be in more trouble than we already are.

Reply to: Dan, RPGFan Groupie #3, Final Fantasy didn't just have growing pains... That's WAY to mellow a word to describe the terror that was Final Fantasy 8. I agree, change is good, and Metroid Prime, Celda, and Mario Sunshine will show this, I think.

But also, it's good to stick with what you know. The GameCube is a Game system, exactly as Nintendo's other systems are, and I must say, I am extremely glad for it. I have great load time, great graphics, excellent controllers, and supreme games like Resident Evil, SSBM, Luigi's Mansion and the amazingly good Pikmin. Change should be in moderation.

Personally, I love the GameCube. It's a little short on the RPGs at the moment, but I have faith that Square, Nintendo, Sega, possibly Capcom, and others of course will fix that problem. The PS2 is great as well, with Final Fantasy, Maximo, Zone of the Enders... All in all, I think E3 will be a great show, and I wish I was going. Ah well, maybe next year.

Oh and a word about graphics: The PS2 and GameCube will probably have increasingly better looking games throughout their lives, much as the SNES and PSX did (examples: FF series on both systems). Both of them still have much potential, and I think series like Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, and Metal Gear will show this. The Xbox, on the other hand, uses older graphics and processing systems, and will probably have it's peak in a year or so, if it lasts that long. If graphics are your thing, you might want to avoid the Xbox.

-Marcus

Schala:
Sheik's fun to use much of the time. I tend to switch back and forth between her and Zelda, depending on what fighting style I'm in the mood for, and the stage you're on. In stages like Onett where it's not the easiest to maneuver around, I use Sheik. I've been working on all sorts of attacks both her and Zelda use, as well as switching between them in battle. Being able to know when to use both in one battle kind of makes you more versatile.

Anyway, you've pretty much echoed everything I said in your first 'reply', as far as Nintendo and the GC are concerned. However, RE isn't 'just as scary' - it's worse. I own RE2 and it didn't really scare me all that much... but again, everything has improved since then. And we had it set up exactly as you described. We turned off all the lights and sounds, and the TV is hooked up to a nice sound system, so we turned it up. Creepy as hell, especially that giant snake. I'll take RE over TR any day. And yeah, comparing FFX to SSBM is like comparing oranges to apples. I guess I should have said that on Monday. :P

Although I'm sure a lot of people still feel as if the GC has yet to prove itself (I feel that this is the case with the XBox), they should come to E3. If they can't, just wait til the end of the year, and then they should ask again if the GC has proven itself. I will admit that the XBox does have nice looking games, but even if they had the best games, graphic wise, on the market, I won't buy one until it has enough games of my interest until I'd actually buy one.

 
Mmm, classic Zelda goodness.

I was gonna write in and deliver some big speech about not judging the new Zelda by looks alone and waiting until you play it, but then I saw that news about a Zelda compilation and totally lost my train of thought. A remade version of OoT with new areas?! Can you say, "Hell, yeah!"?

And then there's those two other discs...oh, man! I'm already imagining remakes of the first game and A Link to the Past. E3's gonna be freaking huge for us Nintendo whores! I can't wait!

Sorry for the lack of actual content. I'll try to make up for it sometime!

Peace from the gushing fanboy known as,

The Darkrider

Schala:
The Zelda compilation has got me excited too. Mainly because I never got to touch the very first game, but I never beat A Link To The Past because exes suck and don't know how NOT to erase files, as well, I owned Link's Awakening... I don't know, forever? And still have yet to play it. As for the N64 Zeldas... I never owned a 64, so that as well will be a new experience for me.
 
Samus it is!

Dear Schala,

Well, here's something you don't get everyday: a letter written by someone who barely visits RPGFan. Which is sad, because the few times I have been there (...well, here?), it looks like a nice site - just not something I reguarly read, unfortunately.

That said, much has been said about the new Zelda (a mixture of complaints and compliments), but what's with the new Mario? I say this because there's obviously not much change to Mario - and therin lies the problem. I have no problem with Mario staying the same, but I'd like to know why Super Mario Sunshine is looking so poor at this point. With an impending release date, it just doesn't make sense for Nintendo to release a new Mario game - something that should be expected to move GameCubes - and do such a poor job. I'm hoping that this will all change come this E3; that Miyamoto has another trick up his sleeve, one which we know nothing about. Otherwise...

As for Zelda - well, let's just wait to see how it plays. It's obvious that the look has been toned down a little as E3 nears, and while that's all well and good, we still have no idea how it plays. Let's see what Miyamoto does with this first before we pass any further judgement.

Lastly, any thoughts on the new GameCube online anouncements? I'm sort of curious as to how Nintendo plans - if at all - to handle the possibility of an MMORPG.

-And yes, you should change your staff name to Samus.
Bobquest3

Schala:
You know, you should come by more often. We're a pretty damned good site, especially that letters section. [/brag] Just kidding. :P Anyway, glad to have another old familiar face... er, handle writing me again. Okay, I know some of you are absolutely clueless as to what I'm talking about. When I was at TotalRPG, Bob here, and EvaPilot (whatever happened to you?) wrote in to me there as well.

Again, not one game alone is going to sell GC's. Mario I agree, looks like Mario 64 and seems to play similarly. I don't think it looks that bad, but, well, looking like Mario 64... not that spectacular either. Then again, Mario's the only game that Nintendo isn't doing something drastic to. Zelda has the cel-shaded look, Metroid's in 3D and is the first Metroid in 8 years (not to mention being in first person), Starfox is... well, an adventure game. Maybe now I'll play and enjoy Starfox.

Me, being more into traditional console games, like the fact that Nintendo, for now, will mainly concentrate on offline games. On the flip side, it's smart of them to realize and accept that there is an online gaming market and that it's ever-growing. I'm sure an MMORPG may eventually be in the GC's future. Myself, I'd love to see an online Smash Bros. Ph33r the blue Mr. Game & Watch!

 
Making RPGs out of cheese... okay, maybe not.

'ello,

so hows it going. Well to the question i was wondering if RPGmaker for ps2 has a set american realese date and if it dosent then will it. All i can say is the RPG maker2 for super nintendo is quality so it best come out soon and at all.

well thanks for the answer if you did answer and if you didnt then well you should answer.

_-Embassador of cheese-_

Schala:
RPGMaker for PS2? Sure, it's on the Release Dates page. :P In fact, it's called RPGMaker 5, and is coming out here on July 1. I think it's funny that we have an exact US release date, but not an exact JP one...
 
Wanna look like Tidus? For $220 (and possibly more), you can!

Could you tell me where I could purchase for example Final Fantasy products (Rings etc.)? How much they cost?

Thank you.

Schala:
FF products are sold on various sites, such as AnimeNation, NCS - even a few at GameMusic. There's also a store called Himeya (check the e.t.c. link), which sells more FF stuff - the others sell mainly figures, CD and the like. Heck, if you can read Japanese, DigiCube also sells quite a bit of FF stuff - even Tidus' pants! No joke, they sell for about 32,000 yen, or roughly $220 US.
 
Rent a GC? Thou must own one.

Nintendo Milks their old Franchise more than sony? Yeah right! More than 50% of the games of Sony's PS1 & PS2 are Sequels or Prequels. Another Mario Tennis? There was only one before. You have rented a Gamecube? I wonder how long because you seemed to have played all the games that have been released on Gamcube in order not to call yourself bias. EGM thinks that SSBM is better than FFX is wrong? What is wrong? EGM thinking, having opinions or SSBM being a more fun game to play than FFX? RE isn't scary anymore? The last few on the PS1 wasn't but the last one the GC is. And for the record if Nintendo was like Sony it would a two controller port system, that plays CDs and DVDs and have a large quantity of games with more than half of them being average and shitty. And sell it all for US$300.00.
Schala:
To tell you the truth, I keep seeing lots of sequels and prequels from everybody these days. :P Nintendo does milk their franchises a lot, but they at least put effort into them (usually) to make the new games worth it. We already went through this RE thing, twice already. IF YOU WANNA S--T YOUR PANTS, RENT THE NEW RE. NOW. Okay? Okay. Oh yeah, and turn all lights and sounds off and your TV volume up.

I still don't understand why Sony's the only system who just didn't put in four controller ports instead of two. Oh well, at least they did one smart thing - knock the PS2's price tag down to $200. Finally. Too bad I have two already. :P

 
Closing Thoughts

Okay, the longest, juiciest column in... two weeks is finally over. Might I make a few of you jealous by mentioning that I already have tickets to Star Wars: Episode II on Thursday? Yeah, that's what I thought. You'll be hearing all about it - spoiler free, no worries - in Friday's column. Go me. Anyway, keep the letters pouring in. Write in about whatever you want, including Zelda, E3, the infamous court ruling, or any of my other suggestions from the last update. If you can't think of anything and/or don't like any of my (many) suggestions, tell me your thoughts on Nintendo's online plans, or maybe Xenosaga coming out in October instead of next March. Just trying to help you along.

Until post-Star Wars,

~Samus (letters@rpgfan.com)



Back



Featured Content
Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut Review
Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut
Review
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Hands-On Preview
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
Hands-On Preview
Costume Quest 2 Review
Costume Quest 2
Review
Rogue Wizards Hands-On Preview
Rogue Wizards
Hands-On Preview
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward First Look
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
Details, Trailer
Steins;Gate Review
Steins;Gate
Review
Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary Edition Review
Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary Edition
Review