Heaven and Hell
April 13, 2005

Hello everyone.

After my insane marathons of Devil May Cry 3, I decided now would be a good time to replay the original. Bad idea. The controls are so different, I have to wonder how I ever managed to play through the first game. I mean, the jump button is TRIANGLE, for God's sake.

I suppose I should be playing an RPG since I, you know, work at a RPG website. :P Of course, one of these letters has inspired me to pull out an old gem just as soon as I finish this update. So let's get to it, shall we?

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E-mail Daniel, unless you're a scammer from Nigeria.
I hope the guy who wrote in last time isn't a Mac user. :P

Hi Daniel,

I would like to write a letter in response to the person who would like to see more RPGs with more adult-style writing and scenarios. I'm an older gamer myself (I turn 27 this year) and while I enjoy RPG romps with teenagers, I often do prefer scenarios with characters more my age who are properly written.

I too am a little put off by the fact that a "Mature" rated title mostly means wanton and gratuitous violence and over-the-top sleaziness.

That is one reason I loved Persona 2: Eternal Punishment so much. The characters were all adults and the dialogue was written in a mature adult fashion. Even Persona 2: Innocent Sin- though its cast was primarily teenagers, the writing was very mature and these kids had the kind of insights and deeper thinking with each other that you don't often see in teenager-adult interactions. And though Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne may have been lacking in a focused narrative, it unabashedly presented morally ambiguous themes that really made you question your own senses of right and wrong. If you want to know more about those games, check out my reviews (shameless plug, I know.)

I do not know how much you play PC games, but there are PC titles out there that are more for mature gamers, but earned their ratings due more for writing than OMG BOOBIES or OMG BLOODY GUNFIRE! Graphic adventures such as The Longest Journey come to mind. The writing was really strong in that game. Syberia is a graphic adventure whose protagonist is a 30-year-old female attorney. I only played the demo, but from what little I played the writing was solid. EVE: Burst Error is a Japanese digital comic with a very cool storyline and adult characters. Granted, yes, this was originally a hentai game and the version I played was devoid of the H content, but there was still plenty of sexual tension and some relations throughout the game. The overall plot was killer as well. There is some peurile humor in places, but it's more for comic relief.

I cannot really say much about PC RPGs (i.e. Planetscape Torment) since I've not played many, so I'm sure others can help you out there.

Still, I just wanted to chime in since I thought it would be helpful to the reader if I pointed him/her in a direction of games that do feature more mature writing and content.

Neal (Dincrest)

I agree that PC games cater to the older gamer more than most console games do these days. One of the best examples of this is the aforementioned Planescape: Torment. There's no fancy "save the world" stuff going on here, that's for sure. It's a dark quest in a dark world full of thieves, thugs, and prostitutes. I highly recommend that game to anyone, if only to experience Morte, your character's wisecracking sidekick...who happens to be a floating skull with a prediliction for freshly dead female zombies. :P

Speaking of point and click adventures, the Gabriel Knight series has always been a favorite of mine. The writing and story in each of these games is absolutely superb. I'm sure they're incredibly hard to come by these days, though. It's a shame. That series certainly targets those of us who are a little longer in the tooth.

The curse of being "hardcore".

In response to the last letter from the 3/31 mailbag, I do think we are seeing some shifts toward adult-oriented RPGs from some developers. Case in point: Digital Devil Saga. The game certainly isn't oriented to children and has a very interesting story with some great undertones. With the standard Shin Megami Tensei formula of religion, you've got a pretty adult game. The only problem with this is, the majority of the RPGs that you see that sell well are directed toward a more open audience.

Digital Devil Saga really seems to be the key game for us 20-somethings that grew up playing the first Phantasy Stars and Final Fantasies. An adult-oriented plot and a classicly-styled battle system with a bent toward the hardcore. Unfortunately, that's just what we are: the hardcore. Most publishers don't see the point in having a Fallout 2 or a Digital Devil Saga. "Adult" simply means violence to these publishers, where the top three selling games for the PS2 - GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas, are thought of not for their open and entertaining gameplay, but their violence and questionable material.

Certainly, we'll have titles that break the mold. Mercenaries features free action like Grand Theft Auto, but without the needless bloodshed. We'll see titles that are meant for us, but, let's face it, guys, we've got Atlus and Agetec looking out for us, but they're quite possibly our last bastion of hope.

-John McCarroll
RPGFan Webmaster

Sometimes we have a tendency to forget that the RPG business is still a niche market. As such, you can't really blame companies for not deviating too far from the norm. It's hard enough for a non-Square Enix RPG to make a profit, anyway. Why take too many risks? People seem to be under the impression that developers are interested solely in creating a work of art, when we all know (deep down, anyway :P) that the video game business is...well, a business. :P

With that said, I keep hearing good things about this Digital Devil Saga. Even though I've had a major problem with the two Shin Megami Tensei related games I've played before, I may have to end up giving this one a shot.

Puffy > Sephiroth

I'll be honest. I loved Grandia. Really. It's one of the few games to ever instill any real sense of adventure into this RPG-hardened brain of mine.

As soon as I saw Grandia III's announcement, I did two things -- I cried with joy and screamed at the top of my lungs in horror, both at the exact same time. Sure, Grandia Xtreme had a battle system, but the entire game felt rather amateur, and the series has gotten to the point where I can only pray to dear Reorx that they either make up for it, or lay the bloody thing to rest.

Where's the ADVENTURE?! Where's PUFFY!? Okay, fine. Screw Puffy... the point is... I don't want another Grandia Xtreme or another Grandia 2, but I also don't want another one strictly after the original, either(Yeah. Suikoden 4, I'm looking at you. You know you tried to imitate the first two. Confess), as much as I love it... but will it succumb to the idea that every sequel should be like the predecessors? Will it, indeed, have a flowing storyline? And will we see more crude references to the past games?

Only time will tell, but...

What are your thoughts on it? =p

Ah, Grandia. What a fantastic game. Like you, I've never played another RPG that made you feel like an actual adventurer, where entering every new area made you feel a sense of accomplishment.

Unfortunately, I can't comment on the series as a whole. The first game is the only one I've played. I HAVE heard a lot of people griping about Xtreme, so maybe that's a good thing. :P

The little snippets of information I've heard about Grandia III sound interesting. The emphasis on exploration seems to be intact, as is that completely awesome battle system. I'm officially keeping my eye on this one.

Closing Thoughts

Well, time for yet another run through Fallout 2. While I proceed to take out power armored troops with a spear, you should proceed to send me some letters. :P

~ Daniel Stringer (letters@rpgfan.com)


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