July 26, 2004
Wipe those expressions of disbelief off of your faces, because your eyes aren't deceiving you. It's an honest to goodness Mailbag update.
Might as well get introductions out of the way first, eh? The name's Daniel, and I run the Fan Fiction section here at the 'Fan. I was feeling a bit bored one day last week, so I said to myself, "You know what, I think I'll take over the Mailbag on a permanent basis." So I did.
This edition will be a bit short, because the number of valid letters was pretty slim. Let's face it, pre-E3 speculation wouldn't make for a fantastic read two months after the fact!
|Might as well start with something that'll get me death threats.
Most of my friends were disappointed to hear that Yasunori Mitsuda wasn't going to compose Episode II's soundtrack. I too, was a little disheartened, but when I found out that Yuki Kajiura was going to substitute for him, my hopes went back up. I've never played the .//hack series, but I've seen the entire anime series, Noir. I love the music from Noir, and when I heard that Kajiura was going to compose for Episode II, it raised my anticipation for the game even more.
Trust me, there was no one on this earth more disappointed than myself when I heard Mitsuda wasn’t doing the music for Episode II. It wasn’t necessarily because I possess some great love for Mitsuda; it’s because I dislike every song of Kajiura’s that I’ve listened to. Oddly, I can’t pinpoint anything specific about her stuff that I object to. I just don’t care for the overall “vibe” of her music.
But hey, there are a lot of people out there who worship her, so she’s obviously doing something right.
Still, you’ll never convince me that Mitsuda wouldn’t be a better choice. His work on the first episode was some of his best…when it was actually played, of course. Even the battle theme was good for the first 302 times I heard it.
|Change is good...and bad.
Hi RPG Fan~
Personally, I have found the recent market of the RPG's (namely for the Playstation 2) to be in poor produce. Now, being in the UK (which feels like the 3rd world of this genre) I welcome any Final Fantasy game with open arms - but Final Fantasy X-2 was so controversial for a sequel that I ended up in total dismay. I'm not sexist, but I think that heroes have to have substance, and as angelic as Yuna is, the sex appeal was overdone and I found it quite tedious to be honest. It was like watching not one Lara Croft, but three.
Square-Enix is yet to convince me the benefit of the merging of their companies. From the games I've seen and heard about, I am pretty much in doubt about the future handling of any RPG in their favour. Unlimited SaGa springs to mind. The once popular company is now dreaded (for me at least, and I'm truly upset to say that).
But recent RPG's have been seriously missing the traditional fundamental things about them. World maps, exploration - all the small things are suddenly being replaced for glamorous and glossy graphics. I can pin point that Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X and Dark Chronicle have been the only three RPG's worth playing out of the years course the Playstation 2 has arrived on the scene.
Suikoden 3 for example, was highly anticipated in the UK, yet it never made it's journey. But amazingly, there has been a report that Suikoden 4 will be released here. What's going on?. Same for the Harvest Moon series (which many define as an RPG so..). I think that the UK should not be overlooked, despite questionable commercial success. The price of imports are so high and smug due to the fact that fans are aching to play these games.
Ultimately, I'm disappointed in a lot of things. So, are there any plans for Square-Enix to redeem themselves in another alternative RPG?. Will the UK ever see the games we're missing?. It's an important question, and always answered on thin ice.
As much as I liked FFX-2, I agree with you wholeheartedly on the “sex appeal” thing. It’s a sad day for humanity when pixilated cleavage becomes a major selling point for a video game. Maybe it’s because I’m not in that “teen with raging hormones” demographic Square-Enix was going for. I do like the game, though. Doing tedious things like mastering dresspheres is my cup of tea. Too much Dragon Warrior as a youngster, I suppose.
I am (and will most likely always be) a huge proponent for change when it comes to games. However, one change that I absolutely loathe is the recent trend of doing away with the venerable world map. RPGs without maps are far too linear for my tastes. That was my one complaint with FFX, that was my one complaint with Shadow Hearts, that was my one complaint with Suikoden III, and it’ll most likely be my one complaint for whatever new RPG I play next.
If you’re looking for Square-Enix to do something “alternative”, then you really need look no further than the next installment of the Final Fantasy series. They’re making some drastic changes to the old warhorse, most of which sound incredibly appealing to me. Personally, I’m looking forward to this new FF more than any of the PSX-era entries.
|Heavy metal, or no metal at all.
Ahh, the venerable mailbag. 'Tis been a long time
since we've heard from thee.
Anyway, Darkrider beseeched me for help in obtaining
submissions for the mailbag. Not being one to ignore
the cry for help from a fellow RPG and metal music
brethren, I decided to take up the pen (okay,
keyboard) and write.
I thought about giving a list of upcoming games I'm
looking forward to, but decided against that for
something a tad deeper. Being that both he and I
share a love for RPGs and heavy metal music, I decided
to resurrect an oft-asked query of old:
Why isn't rock and metal music used more in RPG
soundtracks? Maybe it is, and I'm playing the wrong
games, but go with it for a minute...
I know the Ys series' soundtracks are very fond of
hard rock and metal music. Final Fantasy X even
included a metal track in its repertoire (it was
subpar metal IMO, but metal nonetheless.) I remember
Grandia 2 had some nice guitar work in some of its
battle themes. That's just a few examples I can think
There are various metal bands whose music, I feel,
would kick some serious patootie on an RPG soundtrack.
Bands along the lines of Blind Guardian and Sonata
Arctica come to mind. When I first heard Sonata
Arctica's "Fullmoon" I was instantly reminded of a
Castlevania game. After all, European power metal is
heavily influenced by epic fantasy and RPGs are epic
fantasies. I think instrumental guitar work along the
lines of Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Prashant Aswani,
Steve Vai, and others would also rock in RPGs.
Of course, a full-on metal soundtrack might be
jarring, especially if it were, say, final boss music.
Final boss battles tend to take a decent amount of
time to complete and hearing the same crunchy guitar
riffs over and over might drive one batty, especially
if said person is not a fan of metal music. On the
other hand, overly synthy pop music in boss battles
can drive folks batty too. I'm not a fan of synthy
pop, but I still bear with it (and even enjoy it in
some spots) in various RPG soundtracks.
So I don't think it would be such a bad thing to
incorporate more hard rock and metal into RPG
soundtracks. Not a lot...just a track or two here and
there. Electric guitar is a beautiful instrument that
can sing glorious melodies one moment and bash your
skull in the next. I've heard some hard rockin'
electric guitar lines here and there in various RPG
soundtracks, but not enough to satisfy me. And with
technology being where it is now, a searing guitar
line will most certainly sound like it's supposed to
and not squashed down into a series of bleeps and
Ah, music. My favorite topic.
Being a lifelong proponent of the six-stringed god called the guitar, I’d love to see more RPGs with rock/metal tunes. Like you said, the only series that has constantly had songs of a distorted nature has been the almighty Ys. From what I hear, though, Ys V cut back on the rocking stuff a bit and went with songs that were a bit more orchestral (read: generic) than the previous games. That has me worried about what the Ys VI soundtrack will be like. I’m sure it will be fine, but you never know.
The thing is, I believe people like us are in the vast minority. I was reading a review of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time not too long ago, and my eye was drawn to a comment that the review made about the game’s soundtrack. I forget the exact quote, but the reviewer insinuated that the “Joe Satriani-style licks” (I do remember that part) inflicted damage upon his or her brain. I have a feeling this is how most RPG players feel. They’d rather stick to Uematsu and his various copycats, because that’s what they’re most familiar with. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Uematsu has written some fine music over the years.
At least hard rock has a home in other gaming genres. The Guilty Gear series should more than satisfy any craving for guitar that you might have.
That went well. Maybe now we can get this thing rolling along like it was in the old days. Of course, I can't update if you don't write, so start sending those letters.
~ Daniel Stringer (firstname.lastname@example.org)