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Burnt And Sore
Friday, July 19, 2002

Well, Magic Mountain was fun. Best amusement park I've been to in a while, if ever, solely because all the rides I went on were actually somewhat scary for once. Then again, I'm sorta jaded that way... Anyway, I'm fairly brown now, thanks to spending... a bit too much time outside. Nonsense, I can't get enough. I'm still recovering from sunburns, and still recovering from Magic Mountain. Yay for going on 20 roller coasters in a span of five hours.

So anyway, I haven't been playing a darn thing these days - between tanning, chores, site work, sleeping and whatnot, it's been a tad difficult. We did rent Eternal Darkness however, and it seems to be a pretty damn cool game so far. I should try it out before our rental is up. Oh, and we finally got our hands on Mystical Ninja Goemon for the Nintendo 64 - bizarrely cute and very strange. I like.

I've finally made arrangements to take a Mac home. You people have no idea how relieved I am not to be on a PC back home. Oh yes.

Short column today. Dedicated to the Breath of Fire (specifically 3 and 4) fans.

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People love writing me about being obsessive-compulsive, I swear.

My primary obsessive-compulsive symptoms are the mental rituals of counting and ordering, especially obsessing on words and numbers: ordering words into groups of 3s, 4s; geometric stacking of letters, and the grouping of words in my head that goes on unchecked.

I've read books, done therapy, and consulted with many without any substantial progress. The continual counting, sorting of whatever I see, and the unceasing thoughts in my head competing for attention interferes with concentration, impairs decision-making, and leads to frustration and depression.

I would welcome your suggestions, possible solutions, reference materials, referrals, anything you might recommend. Please email me at ocdhelp4me@earthlink.net

Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

John P. Clarke

You're beyond needing help, my friend. Are you signed up on our boards? Do you obsessively compulsively hit reload on the boards every five minutes? Do you carry your GameCube with a towel only, trying never to touch the surface of the system? Well, do you? Do you check your e-mail every three minutes, knowing you had to get something in such a short time span?

If so, I can't help. So sorry.

...I love answering spam. =P This had to be the most amusing piece of spam I've ever gotten, and I thought I'd show you guys.

 
Whoo.

It's rather sad that for all the times I've written in - and been published - I usually can't spare the time to read RPGFan's letters, let alone RPGFan itself. That I would take the time to write, without even reading the responses...

I'll stop with the melodramatics and get to the meat of the letter. How do you, and other RPGFan staffer/readers, feel about the upcoming Super Mario Sunshine? With its release date approaching sooner and sooner, it becomes an iminent question - will Super Mario Sunshine simply be a rehash of Super Mario 64 (albiet with better graphics), or the next step in platform gaming? With titles like Ratchet and Crank - and especially Blinx: The Time Sweeper, the pressure is on Nintendo to deliver something at least lengthier and less of a diversion than Luigi's Mansion (which, while fun, was no Mario 64) or even a revolution.

Personally, I'm hoping for the best - but even a rehash of Mario 64 wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

-Bobquest3

You know, you really should come by more often, OR ELSE! I mean, stop by more, please? ^_^;;

*cough*

Mario Sunshine. I think it's one of the most highly anticipated games for a console in years, aside Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2. Only about 7838734687364578346578634578346 more exciting than Luigi's Mansion, but hey, what can I say, people love the pudgy, older brother more. Is it a rehash of Mario 64? Graphically, it's a very, very, VERY updated version, perhaps. Gameplay? No. There's some similarities, of course, but Mario you know... carries around a hose this time. You have to give it to Nintendo for reinventing themselves and their games, though. I mean, to a lot of people, their games may look the same, but every time you go and actually try it out, it's fun, and still gives off a new feeling. Somehow. Not that I've played every single Nintendo made game, and maybe it's because I stick to titles I really want, but I haven't been disappointed that often. Considering Sunshine's sales in Japan though, it's sure to be pretty damn successful globally.

 
Long one here... Again.

BoF 3 versus 4 continued.
Spoilers - don't read without having played both games. Let's pro/con this thing. I'll try to be as objective as possible here.

Ryu versus Ryu/Fou Lu
Character
BoF 3's Ryu is a character forced to grow up and realize his true nature at the same time and deal with his growing pains as well. In BoF 4, Ryu is forced to deal with the fact that he has two identities, and is only half a man/dragon. Neither game has a better character; both are highly conflicted characters, though I like Fou Lu a lot more in BoF 4 than either of them.
System: I prefer BoF 3's mutation system to BoF 4's for dragon transformations; it allowed a lot more experimentation. Beyond dragon abilities, they are essentially the same characters though. 1 point to BoF 3.

Nina versus Nina.
Character
BoF 3's Nina grows up with the hero, and seems to have a more involved relationship with her family and Ryu. BoF 4's Nina is more of a hero though, trying to save her sister from the empire. 1 point to BoF 3. System: BoF 3's Nina is a defensive liability and her offensive magic is dwarfed severely by dragon transformation, beyond transfer she's practically useless. BoF 4's Nina is somewhat better defensively, and she adds healing spells to help with this. Her offensive spells also are more powerful with combo attacks. 1 point to BoF 4.

Rei versus Cray
Character/System
Rei is definitely cooler. His ability to Were transform is pretty cool late in the game. His laid back style is definitely a lot cooler too, but totally conflicts with him later in the game. I still like Cray's big bat, and with ShadowWalk he can lay down some serious punishment in BoF 4. It's kind of odd that Cray has such a strong relationship with Nina and her sister Elina. He was forced to do a horrible, but honorable deed late in the game because of his love for both of them. BoF 3, 2 points.

Onion boy versus Ershin/Deis
Character/System
Well, let's just say both are counter freaks, they love doing it. But onion boy really lacks power on all levels. He also has less personality than most characters; even Honey in BoF 3 has more. Ershin once Deis is revealed to be the true power behind it becomes such a force with its power spells and powerful damage. I also like Ershin's personality and Deis is cool in the dream world. It's also hard to dislike having Living Armor as a character. Plus Ershin's sound effects are cool. 2 points to BoF 4.

Garr versus Scias.
Character
If I remember correctly, Garr was a Guardian whose destiny it was to kill all dragons for their God. In other words, he was supposed to kill Ryu, but instead stops and begins to question his beliefs after traveling with them and decides to meet his god to understand why he must kill Ryu. Scias joins the party as a warden/spy and grows to enjoy traveling with the party as they struggle to save Cray on trial for trying to save Elina. Scias repels his mercenary nature and joins them in their struggle, throwing his money at his former employer and pledging to help Ryu in his quest. Both are two characters trying to rebel against their own dark side to help Ryu. No advantage either way.
System
Garr has a Pyrokinesis power. And some heavy attack power but misses almost as much as Momo. Scias is packing a lot of power. He has both healing and offensive ice spells and a cool samurai sword attack special. 1 point to BoF 4.

Momo versus Ursula Character Momo is the best thing out of BoF 3; she has the same goofball perspective as Ershin. She also has onion boy and Honey following her around. Ursula joins the party for the same type of reason as Garr/Scias, seeing the brutality of the empire, but unable to shirk her duty she helps them get to the capital to turn them into her commander, her father. After this is done, she helps Ryu in order to save the empire's people at the request of her father. Ursula has more motivation to help Ryu, but Momo is so much more entertaining. 1 point to BoF 3.
System:
Momo has a crappy hit rate and some good healing magic. Ursula has a good hit rate, mass attack weapons, and some good offensive magic. No advantage, as Momo is one of BoF 3's best characters.

Plot: BoF 3 had a strange plot with a master goddess trying to wipe out the dragons as the last force that could stop her grand design for the world. In BoF 4, the dragons were summoned from another plane by humans to try and shape the world with their great powers, then forced to observe the changes brought about by their involvement. Whether a goddess or a dragon, or other Weremonsters, the worlds of BoF previously are never shaped by humans but forces outside their control. In BoF 4, the humans use the dragons instead of the dragons using them. I personally like BoF 4's plot better, as humans dealing with forces they don't understand and are insanely powerful and can have disastrous consequences has a real life correlation (Nuclear arms/plants). 1 point for BoF 4.

Skill System: 1 point to BoF 4. The ease of getting skill inks is a major factor. But also under consideration are battle skills, where you can now see what skills your enemy may possess, then guard and get them, rather than standing and examine for all eternity. The guarding increases defense too. Plus the success rate is greater in BoF 4. Getting skills from masters is much easier is BoF 4, see below why.

Master System: BoF 4 1 point. BoF 3's master system was horrible. You had to level up ten times under a master sometimes to get their best powers, forcing you to have characters greatly changed by that process, as the master's strengths and weaknesses become the same as your character. In BoF 4 you get special conditions that don't require you to be under most masters, except Momo (Which is ok, since Drowsy is sometimes helpful and HP +8 is an advantage without disadvantages). Getting special conditions like increased combo damage, multiple combo hits, multiple items, and etc. was very fun. Unlike BoF 3, I was able to get almost every master's abilities, except the merchant, since I missed a treasure at some point. Being able to switch masters at camp rather than traveling all over the place is a major advantage for evening out your characters in BoF 4, or addressing specific needs like HP or AP.

Fishing mini-game. I really disliked BoF 3 forcing me to fish to get AP to fuel Ryu's transformations, until I could steal Wisdom Seeds near the infamous desert at the game's end. However, BoF 3's fishing mini-game is a lot easier than BoF 4's complicated mess. Getting rare fish in BoF 4 is practically impossible without some serious time investment. BoF 3 1 point

Hunting mini-game: I always liked hunting over fishing. It brings a little Oregon Trail to BoF. Since BoF 4 has it, 1 point to BoF 4.

Faerie village mini-game: The faerie village can be reached from camp in BoF 4, not just in flower fields like in BoF 3. The amount of functions the faerie village has in BoF 4 is increased, plus the amount of control you have over the town is vastly improved. Plus more personalities made for more shopping selections, and more cool rare items. 1 point to BoF4.

Shift: BoF 4, 1 point. Great idea.

Plot mini-games: -1 point for BoF 4. Super annoying.

Battle system: BoF 4 1 point. BoF 3's only really cool features were Dragon mutations and gene slicing and Rei's uncontrollable Were transformations. Unfortunately, BoF 3 puts it's healing on Momo and Ryu. If Ryu is a dragon, you have lost your best healing character. This also pretty much makes Momo a requirement in party unless you have a lot of healing items. In BoF 4, Nina and Scias heal, so Ryu can Dragon change and you lose nothing in healing capacity. BoF 4 also has a great tactical battle system where all characters can be involved, which is pretty rare (Dragon Warrior IV Chapter V has this, as well as FFVI's end battle). This also allows you to rest and heal wounded characters in the back row and continue your attack, or you can heal them back there with front row characters. It allows for a lot of options. The combo system is a huge plus, as non-dragon characters can deal some massive damage by combos, meaning that Ryu can be a non-dragon and you can still win against bosses, even Fou-Lu. Which means you win as a team in BoF 4 not as one man (Ryu) mauling the enemy. I prefer to win as a team. It's also why I like BoF 4 over BoF 3.

Graphics: I like BoF 4's more pure anime style personally, but overall the games where not really different in graphical quality. No advantage.

Sound: BoF 4 has better sound. There are many more tracks, especially cooler eastern themed ones. 1 point to BoF 4.

Play Control: BoF 3 is a lot simpler on many levels, and although I like a lot of the special features of BoF 4, its menus area bit more complicated. 1 point to BoF 3.

Opening: BoF 4 had an annoying Japanese voiced opening scene with no subtitles. BoF 3 1 point for its cool depiction of past BoF games in the intro.

Ending: BoF 3 and BoF 4 leave a lot open and to the imagination. No advantage.

Total: BoF 4: 11 points BoF 3: 8 points

BoF 4 is better because of its vast systemic improvements over BoF 3. However, I must agree despite my strong liking of Ershin/Deis and Fou Lu, BoF 3 has somewhat better characters in Rei and Momo (Momo is a lot better because of Honey and Onion Boy though, a character who isn't much on his own, but complements Momo well). BoF 3 won characters 5 to 4 too. And you are right about Nina and Cray in BoF 4, they needed some more work on those characters especially their relationship, and why they continue on after Elina's ‘salvation' (Capcom's dragon path excuse is really lame in BoF 4). Ursula is a fairly interesting character in BoF 4 too though; she has a lot of motivation to help Ryu to save her empire. Scias has very little reason to be there, but a dog samurai/mercenary is pretty cool. And Garr should have just destroyed Ryu so many times.

About the Grass Plains versus Desert. The Grass Plains are so much less annoying. The compass in conjunction with better directions in town, plus the rock landmarks, and birds, make it a ton easier to navigate. Plus, once you reached a place it was easy to get to via the short map. The Desert is a nightmare, with no landmarks except the moon. The directions were pretty bad too. I also think the desert encounter rate was a lot higher as well. The overall boredom was unbelievable.

Finally, everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. And no one's opinion is ever a fact.

Steven ?The Old School' Gamer.

Just what I always wanted, a very detailed dissection of Breath of Fire III and IV. I hope BoF fans get some entertainment out of this one, because I sure didn't. I suppose that's what I get for not having played either game.

Uh, and since when has a game with a Japanese opening had subtitles? Yes, animes do, but what if the lyrics end up sucking? Sometimes you're better of knowing what the lyrics mean in English. Kind of like Marth's taunt in Super Smash Bros. Melee.

HTMLizing this letter sure was fun.

 
...I wish.

Hey, uh, does anybody know a place online where I can find the translated liner notes to the Chrono Cross OST? I cant read kanji, and I want to know what it says.
Wish I knew, been looking myself. Anyone wanna share this lovely bit of info for us poor Mitsuda whores?
 
...Bad Xer.

Okay, well, I COULD write about difficulty in new games as compared to old school games, but that's boring and I really have nothing to say. Instead, I will ask your opinion on something very near and dear to my heart. You see, Suikoden 3 was released in Japan, as I'm sure you know and...I just can't stop myself from looking at spoilers! Surely there must be a way to combat this and save my energies for when the game is released here in North America, but I have found no such tactic as of yet. Please, help me! You're my only hope!

~Xeria

Let's see. I could make use of my dusty Japanese PS2, import Suikoden III and spoil you even further. But then you'd hate me and I don't want that. ;_; But if you WANT spoilers, well...

Looks like the best thing we could do is cut off your Internet connection... what's your ISP's #? You KNOW that a game's no fun after you know everything that happens, right? Think of spoilers as poison or something: They're bad for you! Especially if you're reeeeally looking forward to the game. Unfortunately, there's a few months to go, and...

Wait, do you know Japanese? Maybe you could import the game and play it before you get spoiled even more!

Crap, I guess that requires a Japanese PS2.

 
Closing Thoughts

I love salmon. And racing chocobos on an IRC channel is a sign that you're on crack. Maybe the crack was planted in the salmon... oh well.

I'll be sure to come up with a new topic sometime this weekend, so be sure to look. And write in. Or I'll sing you Ayumi songs... or maybe send some homing missiles after you, one of the two. For the meanwhile, I think I've been on this computer for way too long. Bai bai.

~ Liz, proud owner of a cute little iMac. ^_^ (letters@rpgfan.com)



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