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Tinto Brass
September 27, 2004

So, it appears the busy season is starting up. We seem to be getting pummeled with RPG releases here lately. Not that Iím necessarily complaining, of course. It just makes it even harder to decide what games to purchase with my scant funds. Iíll manage, though.

With MMX: Command Mission and the new Shadow Hearts coming out so close to one another, Iíll be occupied for quite some time. So before I go and begin a game-induced hermetic existence, letís get to the letters.

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E-mail Daniel, unless you're a scammer from Nigeria.
 
 
I nearly deleted this letter at the word Disgaea. :P

Okay,

What can I say? It seems that very month between now until March is going to be heaven for RPG fans, with Star Ocean and Phantom Brave out, Megaman command mission , Chains of Promathia, Shadow Heats 2 and Growlanser coming out this week and the week after. I can hardly keep myself from doing backflips.

But with all that aside, I'd like to talk a bit about Phantom Brave. I will admit that I am having a blast playing it. PB felt very messy at first and still does, it gets even worse by the end of the game when there are several enemies and objects on the map, I can live with it, however I would hope they go back to using the grid maps before. The 3d battle maps seem to have a lower resolution then the maps in Disgaea and La Pucelle, aside from that, I'm getting kind of tired playing these NIS games, each game features the same menu system, the same sound effects and the same method of story telling. I can't help but feel these games are moving in the same direction the Dynasty Warriors series took. I'm starting to get a bit weary about the whole thing.

Thanks!
-Joey Mikler

So, youíre getting a bit sick of all the Disgaea-like games coming out, eh? Well, I certainly donít blame you. I thought Disgaea, hailed by critics worldwide as the greatest strategy game of last year, was mediocre at bestÖand downright monotonous at worst. I can see why the double assault of La Pucelle and Phantom Brave would make you overdose on the vibe those three particular games give off. One game was enough for me. And if those follow-ups are as similar to one another as I hear they are, that Dynasty Warriors comment might not be a strong enough example. Iíll certainly never know one way or the other.

ÖYou know, I could have just said, ďI havenít played the game, so I canít really talk about it.Ē But that wouldnít have been as fun, now would it? :P

 
Agreement with an EGM review? You don't see that much these days.

I guess I'm a little late stepping up onto the Star Ocean bandwagon, but I'm starting to fancy myself as one of those people who doesn't find Star Ocean: TTEOT to be all that stellar. At least, I am currently dissapointed with the experience so far (I'm around 7 hours in).

I had anticipated the game, pre-ordered it, and was very pleasantly surprised by the packaging (a box! With the game case in it!), and sure, I like the voices (for the most part), and the graphics and battling are very excellent, but there is something about them cinematics that just don't "click" with me. For example, the whole ordeal with Fayt and his parents and Sophia on the Vacation Planet in the opening parts of the game could have, in my opinion, been handled much more dynamically. We could have had nice in-game cutscenes showing Fayt being whisked away from his parents amidst a crowd of panicked civilians as the resort rocked with deafening explosions, but we got none of that. Instead, the whole sequence played out rather dull and seemed to lack the sort of intensity that being separated from one's parents would play out to be. How dissapointing!

As a matter of fact, that seems to be my initial impression of the game: dull. The current plot of the major war between Airyglyph and Aquias, and plot points within the conflict are moving so slowly that I am having a dandy time trying to urge myself into playing. What's worse, I hear the plot speeds up near the end of the game and stuff starts to get interesting, but I'd like to be interested from the start and feel that my time playing was worthwhile, instead of mulling through 40 hours of meandering and 3-5 hours of super-lightning-fast-revelations that-are-oh-so-shocking. Plus, I guess I'd like more sci-fi in a supposedly sci-fi-themed game, but I am just starting out, and perhaps things will get interesting. Sometime. But, by crumb, I'm gonna beat this thing; I wanna get my money's worth (and also so the time I spent waiting for it to come out won't seem wasted).

But on the whole, I am so far disappointed with Star Ocean. I was expecting something new and exciting, and got something all too familiar (SO FAR compared to other RPGs) and tiring. I think I'd have to agree with Electronic Gaming Monthly's review: In general it said that it has all the trappings of a great RPG that will surely be loved by the anime/RPG crowd, but will be a long exercise in tedium among most other types of people/gamers.

Thanks for reading,

David P.

Well, like Iíve said before, I think the plot is by far the weakest aspect of the game. Everything about it could have been improved, particularly the pacing. Like you said, things start off agonizingly slow, but end up at a fevered pitch before all is said and done.

If it makes you feel any better, the science fiction aspect of the game gets ramped up with the advent of the second disc. In fact, one could make the argument that thereís too much sci-fi. But Iíll let you see that for yourself.

To me, the game is so fun to play that all the various flaws (and there are a good many of them) become less important, if not completely irrelevant. Sure, the voices are much softer than the music. Yes, thereís the occasional delay when reading the disc. But with such an intriguing, entertaining combat system awaiting me in every single battle, Iím more than willing to overlook such trivial matters.

 
...Yeah.

Dear RPGFan,

a/s/l?

-Vilnius Alesund

GREATEST. LETTER. EVER.

Closing Thoughts

Well, that's that. Star Ocean's getting a bit played out, so keep your eyes peeled for a new topic sometime between this update and the next one. Of course, you can still talk about Star Ocean, but a little fresh blood would be quite nice.

~ Daniel Stringer (letters@rpgfan.com)



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