100 RPG questions

Andrew Vestal

   Devoted RPG fan Jonathan Weng thought he could stump GIA's Double Agent with 100 blistering questions concerning the past, present, and future of role-playing games. Not one to back down from a challenge, Allan threw down the gauntlet and spent countless weeks tirelessly studying, researching, and bribing top-level videogame executives for answers before making them all up. Allan laughed, soundly foiling all of Jonathan's dastardly plans.

   No one could have prophecized the length Jonathan would go to in order to defeat the Double Agent. Before Allan could finish his chuckle, Jonathan had already formulated a new set of questions -- not just an addendum, but 100 new queries. Allan grimaced slightly, but decided to bravely undertake the challenge once again. The GIA feared for his sanity, however, as during his last 100 question answering binge he kept repeating the words "Richard Simmons" over and over to himself. Thus the selfless Andrew Vestal took on the task of answering the questions.

1. Climbing up to the Midgar plate requires a swing across a stick. This stick is in a state of perpetual motion. How is this possible? (FF7)
    Square has become so mindbogglingly powerful that they no longer feel obligated to obey the laws of thermodynamics. An array of perpetual motion bobbing birds power the stick back and forth.
2. If you are a Double Agent, who are you infiltrating?
    Actually, Double Agent is a desk job. "Sitting Fellow" just didn't have that zing, ya know?
3. Why does Bikke the Pirate challenge you to a fight just to hand over his ship? (FF1)
    Bikke was getting tired of the piracy trade and looking for an "easy out." Fighting you was his way of seeing if you were a bad enough dude to rescue the Elf King.
4. Who is Dycedarg's elder brother? (FFT)
    Brother's and sisters have I none; Dycedarg's brother is his younger one.
5. Why is Edward spoony? (FF4)
    Because KFC was out of sporks.
6. Was Edgar really the son of a submariner? (FF6)
    No, Edgar's parents were strictly USAF.
7. What possible reason could Square have for naming FF Tactics disc 2 track 3 "Antipyretic"?
    A look at a standard medical reference tells us that antipyretics are "herbs that are cooling to the system and are used to reduce fevers." So who knows? Maybe the composer felt that the song had soothing powers.
8. Why do TV screens and movie theater screens have to be different in shape?
    From the introduction of the cinema (1890) until around 1950, films were shot in what was later called "Academy" ratio, or 1.33:1. Later, when TV was widely introduced, television sets (of course) were built to this ratio -- it's what all the movies were filmed at, after all! The popularity of television led to a dip in movie attendance, and the cinema needed a new "edge" to get its viewers back.

    This edge came in the form of widescreen aspect ratios; now, movie theatres again offered "more" than you could get at home. Widescreen spectacles such as Ben Hur, Spartacus, and Lawrence of Arabia, presented in sizes ranging from the standard widescreen ratio (1.85:1) to CinemaScope (2.35:1) enthralled audiences. A variety of widescreen aspect ratios are still used by directors today.

    And I thought I hadn't learned anything from my film history course!
9. What prevents people from accidentally falling off the sidewalk in Shevat? (Xenogears)
    Children in Shevat were never taught about gravity. They just don't know any better.
10. What is the difference between 2 big slugs and 1 big slug and 1 big slug? (DQ/W 2)
    The 2 big slugs attack you with tag-team slug action, while the 1 big slug and 1 big slug are inefficient and uncoordinated.
11. Why are there novels for games like Doom and Myst, yet none for RPGs, which actually have stories?
    Well, because an RPG is its own novelization, if you stop to think about it. Also, no one writes a Doom novel because they were inspired by the fantastic characterization and settings. Doom novels are written because Joe Schmoe has heard of Doom. The name "Chrono Trigger" isn't as widespread.
12. Why does Square's logo feature a triangle?
    Because a square "A" would look pretty stupid, wouldn't it.
13. Why was the steamship built with moving platform puzzles? (FF5)
    The steamship was built by hyper-intelligent alien lifeforms in a pique of boredom one afternoon. They like to watch humans run around and flip switches. It amuses them.
14. People say Cid was in every Final Fantasy game, but where was he in the first?
    Cid was the invisible townsperson in Corneria Castle.
15. If Solaris can manufacture save cubes, why do they put some where their enemies can access them? (Xenogears)
    They can manufacture them all right -- they just can't hang on to the silly things. Save cubes exist outside of space and time, and the center of each cube a singularity focused on the memory card in Slot 1. Sometimes, one of them goes missing and ends up somewhere random. Unfortunately for them, it often appears in a location fortuitous for their opponents.
16. Since Maria stands outside on top of Seibzehn, why is she not crushed by water pressure and washed away in Sargasso? (Xenogears)
    Maria is really a crustacean, and her exoskeleton can withstand 100 times that of a normal human. Yeah, I was surprised too.
17. Solaris's gravity field operates opposite the Earth's, so what happened to that guy that was thrown out for not working hard? Did he fall up, then down, then up, then down? (Xenogears)
    Yes, he oscillated back and forth until he ended up rotating around the earth. The GIA then took pity on him and let him into our geosynchronous satellite.
18. Why did the Guardia soldiers let Crono keep his sword in prison? (CT)
    With hair like that, no one takes him seriously as a threat -- until it's too late!
19. When Celes wakes up in the World of Ruin, why does she all of a sudden have all the party's items, even the ones previously equipped with other people? (FF6)
    She's a general, not some opera floozy! Her military training helped her salvage the party's inventory.
20. Why is "file not found" an error 404?
    None of the other numbers wanted the job.
21. When Aya makes a phone call, why does she not actually pick up the phone? (PE)
    She's using her Parasite Energy to dial the phone without picking it up! Look for her (and her talent) to feature in a future 10-10-321 commercial.
22. Why does Magus lose the ability to change elemental defenses as well as the geyser attack when he joins the party? (CT)
    Magus is a badass. Forced to hang out with ordinary putzes like a mute, a cheerleading reject, a technogeek, and a giant frog -- amongst others -- he finds it difficult to get motivated. Plus he missed Alfador.
23. Why is Bart unable to move Chu Chu, thought to be a stuffed animal, out of the way when she is blocking the door to the bridge? Keep in mind, Margie had no problem carrying Chu Chu, either. (Xenogears)
    Bart is physically repulsed by the "stuffed animal's" extreme cuteness. Sure, he's strong enough to pick it up -- but would YOU touch that thing?
24. How does Red XIII procreate, considering he is the last of his species? (FF7)
25. Why are there still waves in the ocean if there is no wind? (FF5)
    Brownian motion.
26. Where does the Yggdrasil crew go to relieve themselves without bathrooms on the ship? (Xenogears)
    What do you think the portals are for? Looking at all the beautiful sand rushing by?
27. Where are the Gazel Ministry and Emperor Cain's rooms located if they're still around even after Solaris is destroyed? (Xenogears)
    Fortunately, the Solaris Empire was able to restore these rooms from last week's Norton Utilities backup.
28. What motivates people to spread false rumors about Aeris and General Leo resurrections?
    Glandular disorders and/or involuntary lobotomies. They're more to be pitied than hated.
29. How does Edward damage enemies by playing his harp? (FF4)
    He's a real shitty player, and he never tunes the damn thing.
30. Why do enemies just stand and watch as Bahamut ZERO loads up his shot for a full 1.5 minutes, about to fry them to a crisp? (FF7)
    Faced with your power, they're like deer in headlights.
31. Why do the Knights of the Square Table sit around a rectangular table? (CT)
    In the Japanese version, they were called the Knights of the Rectangular Table. Unfortunately, translation limitations led to the geometrical inaccuracy. Most fans don't notice.
32. Why do the airships never run out of fuel? (all RPGs, to my knowledge)
    They all have a Mr. Fusion!
33. How does the Highwind drop bombs on enemies that are indoors? (FF7)
    These things pierce the ceilings, man! Fortunately, they're accurate enough to miss your party.
34. How did Ordallia manage to stay in the 50 Year War for fifty years fighting against Orlandu?
    Orlandu was busy trying to figure out how to spell his nam properly, and was unable to give the war his full attention.
35. Why can a lancer attack 2 spaces to the front, back, and sides, yet no spaces diagonally? (FFT)
    They can't "think outside the box."
36. How does a cosmetics bag deal more damage than a broadsword? (FFT)
    You have clearly never seen a woman's purse, my friend. Those things are full.
37. How could anybody lose if they had all characters equipped with chantage perfumes? (FFT)
    The party could be entirely male. Alternatively, his or her dog could run up and chew through the PSX's power cable. Besides that, it would be extremely difficult.
38. Why run away from the big orb before fighting it? (Battletoads)
    Because otherwise someone might actually finish the game. By the way, I don't believe you actually made it to that level.
39. Why does Hyrule look entirely different every Zelda game that supposedly takes place in the same world?
    Plate tetonics and massive earthquakes. The times between Zelda titles are not pretty.
40. Why do people call Zelda an RPG and not other action-adventure games like Metroid?
    Prejudice towards titles with a medieval setting.
41. When the party reaches Bledavik the day before the fighting tournament begins, why can you sleep as many times as you want, and the tourney will never start unless the party has prepared for its mission?
    You're not sleeping, you're power napping!
42. Why will an inn let you stay for free if you're not missing any HP? (FFLegend)
    Since you're already feeling refreshed, the innkeeper figures his costs will be minimal. And hey, he really likes you!
43. How does the party survive a jump down a waterfall? (FF6)
    All the arm-motions during fights while falling slow their descent.
44. Why does the waterfall extend its length indefinitely, but always long enough so you can defeat a few fish that, oddly enough, jump out from behind the falling waters? (FF6)
    Er ... umm ... disturbances in the space-time continuum!
45. Why are monks fistfighters? (FF5, Tactics)
    Asian monks often train in the martial arts in order to purify the body and focus the spirit. And to beat up Jehovah's Witnesses.
46. Why is SaGa spelled with a big G?
47. Why is Xenogears a single gear?
    You mean you didn't find the others?
48. Why is it that when Setzer throws his cards, he gets them back to throw again, but if Shadow throws the cards, they disappear?
    Setzer, being a suave gambler playboy, has mastered the boomerang card throw, slicing his opponent with the special razor-sharp edges. Shadow, being a former dork named "Clyde," can only chuck the deck and hope for the best.
49. How does rolling high numbers on dice deal more damage? Why not put as many dots as will fit on one side?
    If you had a die covered with as many dots as it could hold, there wouldn't be any die left. It would be all hole.
50. Why do James Bond villains never kill Bond when they have the chance? Instead, it's always "since you'll die anyway (haha) I might as well tell you my whole plan, then put you inside some kind of machine that will deal you the most painful death imaginable, if only it worked."
    They're actually trying to bore Bond into submission, but Bond is stronger than that. James builds his tolerance to self-indulgent, endless prattle through regular reading of RPGamer's Q&A column.
51. Did Garland really knock the Light Warriors all down? (FF1)
    Off course!
52. Why is a frog as big as a car, and how does the car run the frog over if the frog jumps into it from behind? (Frogger)
    He's the giant mutant frog from the beginning of Blaster Master, and he's tryin to find his way home. Since the game was released before required emission testing, the cars' exhaust is lethal.
53. How did the Enterprise get all the way to the center of the galaxy so fast? (Star Trek 5)
    Scotty put the petal to the metal and just wouldn't let up. Must've been the hooch.
54. Why does the kid in South Figaro give you a one in three chance to guess his password? (FF5)
    Notice how there's no one else in his club? And that he thinks his old man's alcoholism is just a penchant for "cider"? He's a few tacos short of a combination plate, if you catch my drift.
55. If graveyards are running out of space to bury people, then why not turn the coffins vertical to save space?
    That's awfully impractical. How would the zombies bust out to terrorize the townsfolk, then?
56. What exactly does Yang do to stop the super cannon? (FF4)
    I always thought that he plugged up the cannon with his body; that's why he ended up halfway across the world, at the Cave of Sylph. Now that I stop to think about it, that sounds pretty stupid. Then again, so was Yang -- what do you expect from an hay-feverish ninja?
57. With no oxygen on the moon, how does Bahamut live? (FF4)
58. Why does the light atop Mount Ordeals (KluYa) tell Cecil to "Stop Golbez!" considering he knows Golbez is his son and Cecil's brother? (FF4)
    Because Golbez is evil. It doesn't say to kill Golbez, or hurt Golbez, just to stop Golbez. To save him from himself. An admirable goal indeed.
59. How do you deflect a bazooka shot with a sword? (SaGa Frontier)
    You use the Force.
60. Why do mutants forget old spells when they learn new ones? (FF Legend)
    They only have 8k of RAM. Newer model mutants can learn twice as many spells before they start forgetting.
61. Why does the Crystalis sword only shoot in a certain room? (Crystalis)
    Giant magnets underneath the floor send pulsating electromagnetic waves up into the sword. Swinging the sword gives the waves momentum and directs them out the tip.
62. How does the fake chancellor (Yakra) know about all those things that he used in court against Crono? (CT)
    A network of several thousand minature cameras, placed around Guardia by the Omnicam Corporation, show Yakra everything he needs to know.
63. If Neo Bahamut is summoned in the Gold Saucer battling arena, how does the floor reassemble itself after the spell is cast? (FF7)
    Doozers run in and reassemble it before your party returns.
64. Why can't Cloud equip the Masamune Blade? (FF7)
    He's afraid of catching Sephiroth cooties.
65. Why is every cave in the world important to the heroes' adventure? (almost every RPG)
    Remember when your Sunday school teacher told you that God had a purpose for everything? Well, in our heroes' world, God's ways ain't so mysterious. RPG dieties don't waste time with extraneous architecture.
66. Rafa and Malak joined the party to fight back against those who wanted to use them for their powers. Why would anyone be interested in Rafa and Malak's powers? (FFT)
    Because they were tragically misinformed by Rafa and Malak's agent. ("I have these twins, you see, they work like a team, and they're so powerful, you won't believe your eyes!)
67. How do dragons bracelet fire? (FFT)
    They have little dragons inside of them.
68. Is the Yggdrasil 4 considered an Omnigear? (Xenogears)
    I dunno. I'll leave it up to you -- whatever floats your sandship boat.
69. Why are Sephirot and one-winged angels in Xenogears and Zenogais in Final Fantasy VII?
    Cross-marketing. It's the only way Square can afford to make all these expensive titles; constantly plug each new game in all the others. Cloud didn't appear in Final Fantasy Tactics because Square thought it would be cool. He appeared to encourage gamers to buy FF VII, if they hadn't already. Devious, those Squarezians.
70. How and who do other party members walk into and out of the main characters? (FF series)
    Final Fantasy characters are all Zen Buddhists; they have little trouble becoming one with each other. They do it to save space -- and so the whole party can fit in those sporty one-seater European coupes.
71. How does Cloud run all the way across the battlefield, swing his overgrown sword, and run back in the same time that it takes Barret to simply fire off a few bullets? (FF7)
    His seemingly random smikey hair is actually shaped like an airplane wing, and gives him lift.
72. Why is damage limited to 9999 per attack? (many RPGs)
    Under the confines of the Geneva Convention, customs won't allow Americans import more than 9999 damage per attack. They might use it for evil.
73. What is a hyudra? (FF Tactics)
    Daravon's pet hydra.
74. Why do people not care if you barge into their houses and take their treasure? (many RPGs)
    Because you're heavily armed and usually outnumber them. They're not being helpful, or even just ignorant. The poor saps are scared to death.
75. Why can you only enter houses with roofs of certain colors? (CT)
    Ever since Crono's father was killed by a nasty shade of mauve, he's been very selective about what hues he'll allow near him. He hasn't spoken much, either.
76. What would it be like to make a living singing commercial jingles?
    Sad and pathetic. It's hard to imagine getting excited about vacuum cleaners and car dealerships. But you can always dream that, one day, you'll achieve every jingler's dream: singing the title song to Interplay's Clayfighter. ~Clayfighter, Clay-Clay-fighter!~
77. What happened to Xenogears episodes 1-4?
    One theory holds that episodes I-IV represent previous "stories" of our heroes. Episode V is just the fifth iteration of the endless saga.
78. When you're facing south in the airship, why are all the buildings upside-down? (FF6)
    It's really complicated to explain -- but, in a nutshell, the atmosphere of rectangular worlds refracts light differently from our owns; at high altitudes the distortion is so great that buildings sometimes appear upside down! Corrective lenses can help.
79. Why can a black chocobo only land in a forest? (FF4,5)
    Years ago, Matoya was looking for some more "HERB," if you know what I mean, and her stash was depleted. In a stoned rage, she cursed the Black Chocobo and all its ilk. Now, if he touches the ground, he'll die.
80. Why does Link die upon touching water? (Zelda 2)
    Because he's a witch. Or is that warlock?
81. How does Bowser come back to life every time after you beat him? (Mario)
    The lava doesn't kill him; with his spiky shell, it's little more than a relaxing hot bath. Unfortunately, lacking forearms, he can't hit the axe himself and is dependent on Mario for passage into the pleasingly warm waters. Bowser actually enjoys "dying."
82. Why is Bowser always so interested in kidnapping Princess Toadstool? (Mario)
    I can't answer that question -- this is a family column.
83. What is the point of the Windows key on the keyboard?
    To make Linux users feel "left out." And to call up the start button, for people too lazy to move the mouse to the start button.
84. Why does Yang have so much more HP when you fight against him? (FF4)
    Steroid usage. He was told it would build bulk and reduce sneezing. Your party straightens the poor abuser out.
85. How does Porom suddenly know how to cast stone when she needs to cast it on herself? (FF4)
    She doesn't. She's just standing really, really still, and the wall happened to stop right at that point (loose gear -- shoddy imperial workmanship). The whole party is so shaken by the ordeal that they don't notice the twins are really just standing there, trying hard not to giggle. After the party leaves the room, the two replace themselves with carefuly molded stone decoys and go chill. Porom works on her studies and magic skill. Palom hangs out in the "Pass Room" for days on end.
86. How does the Baron weapon shop stay in business if it keeps its door locked? (FF4)
    It's subsidized by the Baronian government and receives 10,000 GP per month. Damn welfare state.
87. How do the shops have enough money to buy anything you want to sell to them? (many RPGs)
    They're hooked up to the Worldwide Merchant Economic Network and can borrow whatever they need. Most shopkeepers look the same from town to town -- that's cause they're all brothers, and they help each other out.
88. Why do the shops not carry the items that you sell to them? (many RPGs)
    They're not resale shops; they wouldn't sell anything used, especially by a swarthy, sweaty individual such as yourself.
89. Why is it "firebal" when there are enough letter spaces to fit "fireball?" (DQ/W 2)
    In Japan, Dragon Quest coined a new word, "hoimi" (meaning "heal"). The U.S. localizers were hoping to do the same. Unfortunately, Operation Firebal was a flop.
90. Why does your wall reflect Bahamut's meganuke while enemy walls do not reflect it when you summon him? (FF4)
    Yours are built Ford tough.
91. What happened to Banon after his part in the story ended? (FF6)
    He went back to the Returners, found that no one cared about rebelling any more now that you all were on the case, and opened an Italian Gelato stand on the streets of Vector in relative obscurity.
92. If the Zone Eater sucks in some of your party members before you run away from it, why are those people back in your party afterward? (FF6)
    When you run away, it's like the battle never happened. So forget it. Okay? Forget it! IT NEVER HAPPENED.
93. How does Ultros sink through the hard ground? (FF6)
    He phase-shifted his physical form.
94. How do people recover all their wounds over a good night's sleep? (all RPGs)
    "Inn" is a Japanese word for "Advanced Medical Facility Utilizing Alien Technology." Those "beds" are really state-of-the-art regeneration chambers. Unfortunately, your galavanting around the world is driving the aliens away. That's why the price keeps on increasing.
95. Why does it take days to walk from one side of a castle to another? (Nobunaga's Ambition 2)
    Your castle is so damn interesting, you can't help but stop and admire the scenery, the view, the stonework, the carpets, as you travel its halls. Sure, sometimes it takes a week to arrive at the dining hall, but that's the price of beauty.
96. Why is siege warfare a defensive tactic? (Nobunaga's Ambition 2)
    Siege is the big burly guy who sits in front of the door. No one gets past Siege.
97. Why are ninjas frontline warriors? (FFT)
    If they stay in the back, they eventually start shurikening their teammates out of sheer boredom. It's all downhill from there.
98. Why does Douglas Adams continue referring to humans as ape-descended life forms, even after he reveals that we were actually descended from the Golgafrinchans?
    After a few years and cold winters on a strange planet, the Golgafrinchans were mostly ape-descended, too.
99. Why does the Hitchhiker's trilogy have five books?
    Cause it's too damn cool to fit in three.
100. Is the Double Agent still sane?
    Was he ever? Is anyone at the GIA? That's what makes us so much fun!
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