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Mmm, charred PSOnes.
Monday, July 15, 2002

Is it really wrong of me to want to be learning Japanese, planning to have a Mac in the household, and learning to drive all when I get back to Canada? I think I'm way too ambitious, but hey, I've got to live sometime, right? Yeah, okay. I need money first. Anyway, as you can tell I've been dwelling on my many plans as for what I'll be doing back home, since I'm not all that looking forward to go back, it might make me look forward to it more. Or something. But let me tell you, with all the time I spend at a computer, if it's a Mac, it'll make things a whole lot easier.

Problem is, I'm not going to own a GameCube. This bothers me a lot. Part of me's saying it's useless to buy one, since I'll be back here in a few months, and we already have two GC's. Plus, I won't have as much time to play as I do now. The other part of me is saying I'm going to miss out on Smash Bros. Melee, Phantasy Star Online Ep 1&2, Metroid Prime, and whatever else. That same part of me is also saying that all I'll have is an SNES, modded PSOne and a Japanese PS2. Guess that part's pretty damn greedy, or just a gaming whore. I'm guessing the latter. Of course, I could always pick up a GC, some controllers and SSBM, and get some of my friends playing, me kicking their asses all the way. One day I'll make a decision.

Anyway, it's getting late. Letters time.

Er no, my PSOne isn't charred, it's just a story I heard from a friend. My PSOne is still in perfect condition.

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E-mail Daniel, unless you're a scammer from Nigeria.
 
 
I need to remember to change and check these letters titles.

Dear Liz,

O.K, I get it. Anyways, I would like to comment on if games have been getting easier or harder.. ::pulls out 3rd grade essay::: Well, let's see...

I am a big fan of the Final Fantasy series...and I would like to say, the hardest (even though it's not a part of the series) is Final Fantasy Tactics. I loved that game, and I have still yet to have gotten every item. The fights, esp. just for the 3rd battle in the game, which was at Dorter City I think, made me want the game more and more. The Soft reset comes in handy too =) The storyline for Final Fantasy Tactics makes me want to see the prequel, with maybe something like Balbanes, and the 50 Year War, or something of that sort. The last fight, truly could have been harder, but since I was at level 99, and T.G. Cid, rules all (mwahaha) I think it would not matter. The musical score was pleasant, except when you hear the same one, each battle...but other than FF2,3, and 7...Tactics is way up high in my lists.

Maybe it is because the creators are paying more attention to the graphics in games, than the play-time/battle itself. The things I look for, are : replay value, storyline, battle system, and graphics...but graphics rank lower than the norm. I mean, I can't play a game with terribly low graphics, but dudette, they'd have to be good. Final Fantasy games have gotten easier. Final Fantasy 9 was WAY too easy. I found myself first dying, when I fought that chic...I forgot her name, but she used "Shock"...and I HAD TO DIE anyways, for the storyline to continue..so hey... FF10 was easy. MAN, MAN, MAN..these games need some help. I wanna die, hate my game, put it away for like 2 days..think about playing it, play it then..die, and get pissed again! Ya know? I take my anger out in Devil May Cry though..mwahahaha.

I never died in Grandia 2. I wasted my money. I got so mad over that. Oh, about that..Legend of Dragoon wasn't...easy..wasn't..hard. It was just right to me. Oh, by the way...Lenus never even survived past 10 moves! Mwaha--hahaha..I always want to be the evil people in games. Sephiroth..he ruled. I WANT HIS SWORD. Kefka....can't get enough of him.....Seifer.....um,.......KUJA, oh..so..smooth with his words...and, uhm..in, FF10 I thought that Seymour was a ........hm....... hermaphrodite. Anyways.........Velius (aka Weigraf) or however you spell it, ROCKED. I DIED SO MANY TIMES.. Valkyrie Profile, Ms. Liz, is one of my all-time favorite. If you need any help, just ask. I got all endings, and...the A-ending, has me reset the game 2 times, because my points were not low enough. I love Lezard, and I love Fenris...mwahaha..and, and Bloodbane!::::feel my flame!!!!::: ::rubs hands together:: Oh, Liz, you also owe ME, 10 dollars...just for the heck of it. I can go spend it on some candy. Why does it seem that the evil characters to me, in all RPGS that I play....are the best? (or my opinion) They have so much spunk. I got tired of Squall always freaking talking to himself, that stupid short self-esteemed chocobo looking, punk! ::huff:::puff::: I have to go wash the dishes. Tell Mr. Parn-a-relli, I said thanks for all the trouble....o.K? Oh, and.. the stick figure from Mario RPG...you know...the dude who was a tree..or..sticks...or something? Also...that, frog I think, that thought it was a cloud..Mellow, or something like that. Anyways, I will leave you be. Til then, I shall leave you with a little bit of Lezard's sayings ::::: "Ye must desire respit from thy empty existence! Thou shalt have it!! Celestial Star!!!!!!!!":::::::: ..can't believe..I got...the A- ending..and...Asgard...Hills...and...the Iseria Queen..and......Loki.......Oh....my....... ..and...and.......and...every...item..mwah...mwahahahahahaha!!!!

*Julia* ----------aka Jersey #21------------

Heh. Tactics is definitely a part of the FF series, just not the main part. I can see why it would be a bit hard though, since not everyone is into strategy RPGs and they, well, take more work than traditional console RPGs. I've really got to get back to playing FFT someday. You think Grandia II was a waste of money because you never died? I think games have worth other than difficulty... like a good story and gameplay mechanics and such. If you had fun with the game, that should be all that matters, right? RIGHT? Well, I like G2 so far, myself anyway.

Though as far as villains go, my favorites are anything but the typical one. Sephiroth was cool looking and all, but I didn't like him that much otherwise. Kefka was just crazy, Ganon... well, just keeps coming back like Bowser, and well, I'd have to say I actually like Krelian a lot as a villain. To be honest, I still am not sure what to think of Seymour, just that he was, well, as twisted as any villain might be. Point is, some villains are just all the more cooler when they're not so cliche. At least, to me. But if they suddenly one day wake up power hungry... BORING! I like to hear an actual reason for a villain's, as well as any character's actions.

I don't owe anyone nothing, ya hear? I'm broke, give me a break here! Ahem, yeah.

 
A long one, folks.

Various topics, and even this week's topic:

Spoilers and etc, throughout:

Capcom's Breath of Fire (BoF) series
In general, Capcom's originality is unbelievably low. Not only throughout the whole series, but between games on the same system, the resemblances are stiking. The general plot is the same in all four games. Plus BoF 2 is a remake of BoF 1, and BoF 4 is totally a remake of BoF 3. Obviously BoF 1 is better than BoF 2, since the first game was in fact original, plus Square imported it. It still seems like the best game of the series to this day. BoF 4 is a remake of BoF 3 in all departments. In many ways, BoF 4 is the game that BoF 3 should have been. BoF 4 has all the elements of BoF 3 such as skills, masters, the faerie minigame, the fishing minigame, hunting minigame(Makes its way back to the series after a hiatus in 3 for no reason!) everything. But the game has been refined to a point were all things run smoothly. I can go to the faerie village at any time, or change masters just by camping. Acquisition of aurums (a.k.a. skill inks in BoF 3) is much easier as it can be obtained via fishing even basic level fish like jellyfish or man o' war, and can be stolen with mug/steal from robot enemies. So switching skills is easier. Getting AP is much easier in BoF 4, as you can buy AP healing items at the faerie village, get them via fishing out low level fish like sweetfish, steal from enemies, and even hunt for flanks. Plus, rest, snooze, transfer, and the tactics style battle system allow for an almost infinite number of AP with good combos, like Snooze + Rest + Transfer. Then put them in the backrow, get your AP back and transfer again. And shift allows for instant transport from point to point, so you are never stranded in an area for long periods of time like in BoF III, when you need to go back and talk to masters to gain new skills. All these time saving measures allow you to enjoy BoF 4's minigames and BoF 4's in depth tactical battle system, where formation and combo making make for fun battles. BoF 4 also has some more interesting side charcters than BoF 3, especially Fou-Lu and Deis/Ershin. In general, I really enjoyed BoF 4's plot more too, the Dragons as Gods angle with the idea of other dimensions was much more interesting than BoF 3's take on religion/world generation. BoF 4 even has better music by far than BoF 3. Contrasting all of this to the nightmare that was BoF 3, where you had to trek across the entire world just to change masters, and were constantly restricted in movement in the plot, and the much refined system is so much of an improvement. BoF 3 also literally requires you to spend a lot of time fishing, as Ap costs are tremendous, and you can only get AP items by fishing until the game's end. Minigames should be optional. When you force a player into playing them, either to gain power (FFVIII-cards to convert to magic/items) or to survive( As in this example), you've committed a major error. Minigames should always be optional and should never feel forced on the player. Since Ryu alone is your damage in BoF 3, until Rei gains transformation as well, the need for AP to continue the form change is particularly brutal. In BoF IV, combo magic and combo melee attacks make other characters much more useful, and lessens your need to rely on transformations to beat bosses. In BoF 3, only onion boy and Momo are really any interesting as side characters go. The plot is really bland overall. Other games like Phantasy Star have done the same kind of plot, much better. BoF 3 really lost me with its extended desert scene. A sort of RPGers nightmare and a half, featuring an endless stream of monsters, and unvaried background/ foreground, and really poor directions, it literally took me three hours to cross it. The absolute boredom of this scene is unimaginable. How anybody can like BoF 3 over 4 makes no sense to me.

Phantasy Star 2.
Yeah this game is tough as nails. I've defeated the first planet, and am assaulting Deso. My major problems with the game are the mind-boggling dungeons with way too much foreground, where the foreground resricts sight and makes it hard to see where you are going, so that you are constantly going around bumping into walls. Also, no game should have as many chutes (stairs ) as this game. Another problem is that at Deso, one must go through an entire starport to reach a town. Going back to Mota to change your party is an especially bad pain in the neck, as you have to go through the starport again. Also the encounter rate is unreal. To survive, place an Amber Robe, Truth Sleeves, Cresecegear, and an Aegis on all four characters. Each of these items casts GIRES when used as an item in battle. You're ability to tackle dungeons is greatly increased with this greater recovery power. Even an impossible game is not so impossible with unlimited healing. Also use Storm Gear and Crystal Armors to cast magic on all enemies.

Vagrant Story
VS is a rare game that it is actually pretty difficult. The bosses are especially ruthless as many have mass damage spells of breath attacks that can take you out in a shot. Even minor enemies like the Banshee have Banish, an instant death spell. In VS death can be around the corner lurking, or behind you in the shadows. A lot of this has to do with your element resist of your armor, and how good you are with defense abilities. With defense abilities you never die if you can pull it off timing wise, and have selected the right defense ability. Banish is still worrisome, as it is hard to counter. Its better to use distance spells or break arts to beat them. On the plus side, VS is the closest to a movie style game Square has ever got, the characters and plot rocks, the setting, theme and mood are super dark and cool. VS's weapon/armor mod system rocks, especially on cleared games. Developing nigh perfect weapons and armor is insanely difficult but fun. Another cool thing about VS is its brainteasing puzzles. All in all, you can beat VS in 30 hours as long as you don't spend too much time in workshops. The only other game with such an addictive weapon/armor mod system is the Legend of Mana. If you go hardcore into the workshops, you will definitely need a lot more time to beat the game.

Valkyrie Profile.
An Enix classic, an RPG with great 2d art(The backgrounds are so cool), an original premise, a cool Norse mythology bent, 3 endings, a special super dungeon, a cool plot and cooler characters. The combo button system is reminiscent of Xenogears to me, but the similarity ends there. The battle system of Valkyrie Profile is deep and simple at the same time, as hitting an enemy at the correct time yields treasure, XP, or Gems to build up the special attack meter. Even better, the game has divine items, so you can create items out of thin air on the worldmap or at save points. Valkyrie Profile is one of my favorite RPGs for PSX.

Saga Frontier series
Yeah, Saga Frontier is actually kinda fun. Its technique and random levelling up system makes for a pretty unique game every time. The combo system is pretty fun too. Plus it has cool characters like Gen, the drunken master. The problem is Square screwed up both times, as Saga Frontier 1 is fun, has some replay value, but has no graphics, sound, play control, and storyline to some quests(LUTE!), to speak of. Saga Frontier 2 adds a mass battle system and duel system which are ok, but the group battle loses a lot of importance as most techs are learned in duels. SF 2 has graphics, sound, and a storyline, but the generations system and lack of character development really ruin it. Plus the linear storyline is completely opposite of the exploration based first game. If Square actually manages to combine all the good elements together, they might make a good game. Unfortunately, Unlimited Saga is another innovative Square Saga game, and will combine both good and bad elements, thereby keeping in line with the mediocrity of the series.

Game difficulty.
Basically, game difficulty varies from game to game and from system to system. Games like Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star that have reached for a mainstream audience and have plummeted their difficulty levels in that quest tend to be really easy. But there are plenty of difficult RPGs out there to play. None are on the newer systems, as most new RPGs out are still system release RPGs or fairly short, as developers work with the new technology, longer and harder next-gen RPGs will be produced. Most are on systems that had some staying power. Vagrant Story on PSX is an example of a very hard game, as one hit can kill you if you are ill-equipped or your element defense is low. Another is Record of Lodoss War, an adventure/RPG for Dreamcast which is pretty hard, as the areas to explore are massive and they just have an insane amount of enemies wandering around. Vandal Hearts 2(PSX), a tactics game where your enemies move when you move is extremely hard. Hoshigami(PSX), a newer tactics RPG for PSX is even harder with a high character mortality rate. Xenogears with its long story scenes and fewer save points and powerful enemies is hardly a pushover. The Legend of Dragoon(PSX) with its item cap and complete lack of game balance in money and XP, is very old-school in its inherent game system flaws. Persona(PSX), a brutal dungeon crawler, with very little save points, and wildly fluctuating difficulty is pretty hard too. Dragon Warrior VII(PSX) with its extremely hard class to skills system is super-long and is very difficult towards the end without the game's best skills. Just because technology has improved doesn't mean that innovative games with some diffiuclties, games that are just plain out too long, or games without good balance have stopped production. There may be less of these harder RPGs, but they are still around. And let's not confuse challenge with poor or antiquated game design. Many old RPGs are challenging because of no-saves in dungeons, have bad game balance/design, and many other new features that make RPGs alot easier now. The inclusion of in-game tutorials that tell you exactly how to play the game to win like in FFs is one such feature. In older RPGs you needed to experiment to discover better tactics and weakpoints, there was no tutorial to tell you how to beat a particular area. Many of these improvements shorten games alot. But as long as character and plot development are increased, a slight decrease in challenge is ok. The dramatic decrease in many mainstream games is unacceptable however. Even if a game has a good story, its hard to not be completely bored if it doesn't challenge you. I found FFIX with its similarity to FFVI and generally bland plot to be such a game.

Overall, RPGs have gotten a bit easier, but not all games are like that. By looking a bit harder one can still find some really difficult games. The trend is still that RPGs are getting slightly easier overall, but whether this is from RPG system improvements in general or game design is debatable.

-Steven "The Old-School" Gamer

There you have it, some very well-versed opinions with many individual games as examples. And of course, games can be quite difficult in different ways as you said. Some have puzzles, some have hard bosses and enemies... others, well, have a LOT of these. And yet others have a long, drawn-out battle engine. Still, I agree that it's sometimes a poor design that makes a game seem challenging. However, I'll have to disagree about there being no challenging RPGs for newer systems. Once again, there's Xenogears, especially the bosses, and Xenosaga (the import) is no walk in the park, either. Vagrant Story requires a lot of strategy, one thing plenty of RPGs are missing these days, other than enemies having a weakness to a certain element or something.

On my part, I prefer to experiment myself rather than have a tutorial. Though these days, in most games I don't even bother with tutorials if they do exist, unless it's forced upon me like Xenosaga. I suppose that what was keeping me from being bored with fighting battles in FFX was the Sphere Grid and those damn Chambers. Though, as long as the battle system isn't tedious, annoying or just plain hell, then it's all good, right? Right.

I'm getting thankful more all the time that I haven't played FFIX, I've heard that the middle is actually really boring. From many people.

 
But but... Chrono Break!

First I'll start off by saying I'm a huge Final Fantasy Fan. Okay, now the next part of my letter: Yahoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!! I heard on your site that Square is releasing FF1 & 2 on the PS1 in Japan!!! This might mean that the first three Final Fantasies could be released on PS1 in North America!! Hooray!!!! Woo Hoo!!!! Phew, k I'll calm down now...Square BETTER release FF1-3 on PS1 in the US! Or I'm comin' over there with a mallet, smashing the first floor of their headquarters..ok, maybe not, but I'll truley be PISSED!!! Okay, that's all..say Hi to everyone at RPGFan. You guys have a great site.

-A Super Huge RPG Fan- Patrick Kulikowski

I personally would have preferred a GBA port, but either way works. Thank God my PSOne is modded. Eh well, I'm not sure of the chances of it being localized... seeing as it's not one of Square's crappy sports games, chances aren't so shabby. Except for FF3... maybe that'll be for the GBA. Or not. Sigh...
 
Mmm, Kenshin lectures by me.

Dammit! I wish Adult Swim would stop showing random Yu-Yu Hakasho reruns and get on with the Cowboy Bebop ones. Hey, Liz, I've been wondering if the Rouroni Kenshin anime was any good. I saw the Samurai X OAV (the prequel to Rouroni Kenshin, I suppose) and it was DAMN GOOD. I mean, it kicked Ninja Scroll's ass. But then, I saw Samurai X The Movie (I have no idea where in the series this takes place), and it was.....ehhhhh..... (but the ending was good, that backwards blade is pretty cool). Is the movie not as good as the rest of the series or maybe it's good if I watch the series first? Anywayz.....

Personally, I think FFVIII sucked. Drawing spells got pretty tedious by the third disk. But, man, that game had some beautiful FMV scenes, the ending, the opening, the parade, all topnotch (at the time anyway). Did you ever play The Legend of Dragoon? I thought it could have been great if it weren't for the stereotypical characters and a somewhat cliche story. But, in the end the game was only decent. *sigh* So that's it until I think of something else to write about.

--SageMasamune

...the Kenshin movie? Eek, why?! Okay, kidding. The movie is average, but I have this big problem with that movie in that I don't like the Japanese OR English actors. The anime series is awesome though, it takes place about ten or so years after the events of the OVA, and as you can tell from the movie, Kenshin gave up being a 'Battousai' and vowed never to kill again and instead 'try to protect the innocent.' As well, the first TV season is when Kenshin meets the other main characters you see in the movie: Kaoru, Yahiko, Sanouske. Though whether you've watched the series or not, it still doesn't make the movie that great... though you'd probably have liked it a bit more if you saw the series first. The series is a million times better though, with some pretty damn good English voice acting, especially compared to the movie. And as any other Kenshin fan, I'm going to warn you now that by far, the second TV season (Kyoto arc) is the best one. The first introduces a lot of characters, though doesn't have a main storyline like the second.

Funny thing is, that Legend of Dragoon has actually been mentioned a lot lately, though it had seemed to me that people either loved it or hated it, much like FFVIII. I never beat either game, and probably won't at this rate... oh well. Still, I'm surprised each time someone is more or less neutral towards either game.

 
Eat cake.

Hi I loovvvee RPG and Legend of Dragoon and Final Fantasy 7, 9 and stuff! My favorite characters from LOD are, Rose,King Albert,Meru,Lloyd,and Haschel. :) From FF7: Vincent, Cloud and Sephiroth. Final Fantasy 8 was a BIG dissapointment ( I didn't spell that right did I ?) and from FF9, Freya, Vivi and thats it. I started playing when I was 10, and I fell in love with RPG I'm 13 now and I beat FF9 in a couple weeks it was cool. I'm on disc 3 of LOD and I beat Lloyd and got Darts best weapon :) Hope your listening and I hope you care

C'ya

Yuegirl ( that isn't my name ya'know)

...care? Well, when I get e-mail like this daily, no offense, but it's quite hard to care. Why would I care about every single person's history on RPGs? I could bore you with mine, here you go.

I looove RPGs! ^_^ My friend introduced me to Chrono Trigger back in junior high, and I got sooo addicted! ^_^ It's my favorite RPG! ^_^ I also played Final Fantasy VI and Super Mario RPG after CT, and they're soo awesome! ^_^ And Squall is soooo cute! ^_^ I love Square! ^_^ My favorite characters are: Schala, Celes, Terra, Locke, Cyan, Fei, Miang, and Yuna! ^_^ I want to Cosplay as Yuna at Otakon this year! ^_^ I hope I get to go! Can you guys get me a pass? ^_^;;; I'm playing Vagrant Story right now and it's sooo hard. T_T;;;

Sorry if I was a little mean. Nauseated yet? That's it. Time for me to lay off the crack.

 
Lovaga!

Hello,

My name is Jesper "skalmanxl" Karlsson and I'm emailing you to tell you that I have created a petition aimed towards Namco Europe, so that they may release their upcoming RPG XenoSaga inEurope. The petition can be found here: http://www.petitiononline.com/Xenosaga/petition.html

It is a long shot, we are all aware of that, but atleast it's a shot. We like to think that anyone who cares for more RPG's to be released in Europe should sign it. Any mention of this petition in your news would be highly appriciated. If you decide to write news or forumposts about this subject, it would be appriciated if these URL's were forwarded to me.

Kind Regards

Jesper Karlsson

Word of advice: From what I've seen of late, online petitions do not work. Most companies, generally don't care. Also, I've been hearing rumors of Xenosaga coming to Europe anyway, so it may not be needed... but don't take my word for it. If any other Xenosaga fans want, and are interested, there's the URL for the petition. Good luck, you'll need it...
 
La la la, more quickies.

I noticed that you like anime. So do I. Do you like any other Anime besides Evangelion like Dragon Ball Z or Tenchi Muyo?  Any way I think it sucks that you can only Play Final fantasy XI online. This really Bites!!!!!!!!

RPGplayer00

DBZ? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA... it is to laugh. Tenchi doesn't interest me either, I'm really picky. Lately, I've been watching Bebop, Slayers and Rurouni Kenshin. Go me. And yeah, FFXI being online only does suck, but that's the price we pay for keeping cheating out of the game.
Sunsoft re-released Final Fantasy Legend 1, 2 and 3 (those Gameboy games, the first games of the SaGa series), I think that is what that guy meant.

Tomara

Oh well, I never heard a 'Final' or a 'Fantasy' in there, so I didn't think of that. Thanks. =P
 
Closing Thoughts

I'm not going to talk about my tanning adventures anymore. Unless you want me to. Eh, I decided to keep the topic for a while longer because of all the responses I got, so enjoy. Plus, I couldn't think of anyone else. I miss playing games, it's been a few days...

~ Liz, flat broke and somewhat liking it. (letters@rpgfan.com)



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