Hours Passed In Exile
January 3, 2005

Happy belated New Year, everyone. I hope you didn't injure yourself with any fireworks. I know I didn't, and that's a fantastic change of pace.

So, I'm sure you've all seen RPGFan's Games of 2004 list by now. Even though many editors, including myself, were unable to list five decent games this year, the list as a whole is quite solid in my opinion. But that's just me. If you disagree with the lists our humble staff came up with, make sure you write in and give us your opinion of the RPGs of 2004.

Speaking of opinions, I've got a diverse selection of letters for you today. Lots of love, and a little bit of hate. It's all good, baby.

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And now, yet another love letter to Tales of Symphonia.

Hi Daniel,

I figured since I didn't play enough 2004 RPGs to make a full-on top 5 list like the other editors, I'll bore you with it since it *is* your mailbag topic.

Thus far, the only 2004 RPG I've played to completion is Tales of Symphonia and I'm in the process of playing Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne.

Despite my being the most vocal MegaTentist at the 'Fan and despite how much I'm totally enjoying Nocturne, I do have to give the nod to Symphonia as my RPG of the year among those two.

Why? Symphonia has much better balance, better pacing (there is no need to power level in that game), has awesome new school ideas (the Synopsis feature) alongside killer old-school mojo, and has a much more universal appeal. Any RPG fan young or old can get into Tales of Symphonia with little difficulty and have loads of fun with it. It's not really innovative or anything like that, but everything it does, it does right.

Nocturne, on the other hand, is geared more to a specific target audience. Heck, Shin Megami Tensei games in general are wholly different animals than other Megami Tensei games such as Persona 2. Where the Persona 2 games are more character driven with loads of dialogue and development, the SMT series is sparse in that regard and is more about the setting and its development. I love the game to pieces, though. I could spend forever with all the gameplay intricacies. I normally loathe things like excessive levelling and high encounter rates, but with a Shin Megami Tensei game, I welcome these elements with open arms and I have the patience for them.

Both are excellent games that appeal to different sensibilities in me. But for my RPG of the year, I do have to give it to Tales of Symphonia.

So that's my story.

Neal (Dincrest)

You know, I should really get around to purchasing Tales of Symphonia. I swore off the Tales series after the dismal Eternia, but after reading the constant praise this game has gotten since its release, I figure it must not be too bad. God knows I loved playing Star Ocean, and the gameplay is supposedly similar.

And while I'm not surprised that YOU enjoyed Nocturne so much, I am surprised that so many other members of the RPG community have fallen in love with it as well. I mean, for any gamer weaned on the Final Fantasy games of late, it must be quite strange to play a game that involves lots of levelling. But people seem to really enjoy it. In fact, I don't think I've seen a word of disdain about the game.

This is why we accept reader reviews, folks.

My respect for RPGFan has gone downhill after reading your 2004 game list. No editor even briefly mentioned Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life for the GC. There's not even a review for the game.

Well, we're only human. We can't play every single RPG that comes out.

Personally, I think HM:AWL was one of the better games to come out this year. If I had made a list, it certainly would have been in the top three. I think I'm one of the few staffers who enjoys this series, though, so it's not exactly shocking to see there hasn't been a review for it.


I just finished reading a reader review for the game Fire Emblem. It got me to wondering a few things about the series. How many Fire Emblem games are there? What systems are they on? Are they hard to find? Are they all as easy as the GBA version?

Oh man, you are asking the wrong person if you want to know something about the Fire Emblem series. But do not fear, for there's a solution to this problem. See, our resident news vixen Liz happens to be a Fire Emblem scholar, so I tossed your questions over to her. Here is her response:

"If you include the future Japanese release of the GC game later this spring, there's technically nine Fire Emblem games. They're all, of course, on every Nintendo system you can think of - except the N64 and VirtualBoy (does that count as a system anymore? :P). The GBA game that was released here is actually the easiest in the series, so if you had a hard time in Normal Mode... or even the Tutorial (coughDanielcough), I wouldn't recommend any more Fire Emblem for you.

The GameCube game (Souen no Kiseki) and most recent GBA game (Seima no Kouseki) are both coming to North America this year, so no need to scour eBay for those. What IS fairly easy to find on eBay are two of the three SNE.. er, Super Famicom games (damn you Japan), one called Monshou no Nazo (Mystery of the Emblem) and Seisen no Keifu (Genealogy of Holy War). Sometimes the two Famicom (NES) games pop up there too, but as often. The FIRST GBA one (Fuuin/Sword of Seals) is getting quite rare, too. And if you ever see Thracia 776, the third SFC one, there... don't expect it to be anywhere near affordable.

Hope that helps!

~RPGFan's Resident FE Fangirl AKA Liz"

Thanks, Elizabeth. *gives her an Erk x Nils yaoi fic, since that's what the freaks fangirls seem to like these days*

I hope that reply made sense to you, good reader, because she lost me about halfway through. :P

And did you people see that thinly veiled cheap shot directed towards me? I swear, that woman is evil. :P

Closing Thoughts

And so ends another Mailbag update. Make sure you pack my inbox full of emails that don't involve cheap Rolex watches. And remember the topic.

~ Daniel Stringer (letters@rpgfan.com)


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