|Short and to the point
- September 1, 2000 - Chris Jones
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed
within this column are those of the participants and the
moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the
GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive
material afoot. Yes, the short letter thing was a way to get through the
column quicker. But can you blame me?
Don't say we didn't warn you.
At least, short and to the point was the idea before I started going through my
mail - then I figured out that I've got far more letters that
deserve printing than usual. I'll see how much I can get done
before CC's event horizon sucks me in, but for now, let's get to it.
|Nothin' but ones and
|Gaming, at it's deepest essence:
I don't know how that collection of microchips, programming language, plastic
casing and electricity can make me stay awake for hours to see how nonexistant
characters overcome nonexistant problems in a nonexistant world, or how they
can create people I can laugh at, or feel sad with, or feel excited about, or feel anticipation for, or enjoy spending time with...but they do.
Enjoy Chrono Cross, Chris.
Probably the same way a nation can be created with the stroke of a
pen, or value can be exchanged in bits of paper: we live in a world
powered by ideas, and ideas are like icebergs, extending only a small
way into the physical world. Ones and zeroes become heroes and
villains, mere electrons show uncharted worlds. Pretty damn cool, I
|Pihrana are a very
Games are like your Grandma's goldfish...they're fun to play with for a
while, but eventually you get tired of it.
-Agent X "but then grandma gets a baracuda and it's back to playing again!"
Uh... ok. Sure, whatever, don't have time to argue about it.
|"All you zombies..."
I must strongly agree with AK (and very strongly disagree with you) on your
opinion of Chrono Trigger's treatement of time travel. I'm a "hard" sci-fi
buff and have read just about everything canonical on the topic. I'm also a
big fan of time travel movies, be it the wacky Back to the Future series or
the headache inducing paradoxes of 12 Monkeys. Chrono Trigger, however, more
closely apes in style another underrated time travel classic: Bill and Ted'
Excellent Adventure. Laugh if you must, but Bill and Ted had a very simple
modus operandi: time travel should be possible, and time travel should be
fun. FUN. I'm going to quote
here from my History of Console RPGs for
"Chrono Trigger's big gimmick is time travel - but not the highly serious,
parallel-universe, butterfly-effect time travel that makes most
nontheoretical physicists break out into hives. Chrono Trigger serves up the
sort of lighthearted, temporal fun found in finer Saturday morning cartoons
everywhere. This carefree atmosphere leaves you free to enjoy the various
time periods and the small touches placed by the designers at every
Chrono Trigger was consciously designed to be, above all things, enjoyable.
Chrono Cross has the same "don't sweat the details" attitude towards
interdimensional travel, and is all the stronger for it. You say, "imagine
being able to go back in time all you wanted in a game - revisiting the same
events (and your former and future selves interacting with those events)
over and over again. That would simply kick ass." I say, Hell no it would
not. It would be a confusing, unfun, headache-inducing mess. Chrono Trigger
is not just travelling through time -- it's out-and-out *romping*.
You say, "when you consider what else they could have done, how much more
could have been accomplished, I think you've got to find the game comes up
short." Not at all. Chrono Trigger set out to be enjoyable, fun, and, oh
yeah, involve time travel. As such it succeeded admirably. Saying that all
time-travel stories have to 'fully exploit' the conceit is as close-minded
as demanding all RPGs have medieval, fantasy settings.
- Andrew Vestal
Now the question is, should I be pleased that AV and AK find my
columns worth reading and writing in to, or should I be concerned that
at least two of this site's illustrious founders disagree strongly with me?
It's worth pointing out that I only meant Chrono Trigger came up
short in regards to being a time travel story: in all other aspects
the game is superb. I'd no more completely condemn CT for not
having enough paradoxes than I'd condemn Final Fantasy Tactics for not
having enough full frontal nudity. It's a great game, I'm not
But looking at the game as a time travel story I do think it
comes up short. I think Bill and Ted comes up short as a time travel story
too, although it's a great movie. I think The Simpsons as
animation hasn't been that great, for the most part, although I'll
fight any man alive who says it's not the greatest comedy in the
history of the world. For me, time travel is about paradox, it's about
breaking the laws of causality, it's about trying to cheat time and
fate and destiny itself and rewrite the universe as you want it to be.
Chrono Trigger does have some of that, and does it exceedingly well for
a video game, but it doesn't mine the territory as deep as other
stories traditionally have. So what? Big deal! I'd like to see a
"confusing, unfun, head-ache inducing mess" tried out as a game, but
then, I used to program Windows for a living. I stand by my statement
that the game isn't the best time travel game possible, but I also
stand by my statement that CT's a great game. The one shouldn't affect
the other, regardless.
|I play games to impress
girls, why else?
sorry, it might not happen. You might need another weekend.
I think it can be finished in about 30 hours if you don't stop and do any
sidequests the first time through...or something. I wouldn't know, as it took
me about 45 hours. Hey, if you really do finish it in 3 days, then I'll consider
you a hero... (though my attention span these days is really bad...so you're looking at most at 2 days of hero worship) Not so fast though: you'd have to prove that you did finish it ;)
Princess Jemmy, tired, cranky, needs some sleep... at least it got you short and sweet; now go and finish that game, mister!
Yet another incentive to finish the game this weekend - I can use
the accomplishment as a pickup line. "Hey baby, I finished Chrono
Cross in 72 hours. Wanna come back to my place and see my... save
file?" Between that and my completely authentic gold-plated Brent
Spiner-autographed Star Trek communicator pin, if I don't impress
the chicks, nothing will.
|I fancy myself a "BSEE"
|If you didn't like Chrono Trigger's treatment of time travel, you're not
going to like Chrono Cross.
You seem to be (scratch that, you ARE) the type of person who is
exceptionally hard to please, which seems to be true of most (read: all)
vid-game columnists who fancy themselves "software engineers." It just
reeks of jealousy, as if to say "if I were on that development team, I
SURELY would have done a better job with the material." I've seen it time
and time again, including the now-infamous Daily Radar review of CC. After
reading through that guy's totally unfounded opinions of the game, I come
to find out that--surprise--he worked in game development as part of some
crappy Star Wars title that no one liked. It truly does seem like those who
know a little coding have a deep-seeded resentment towards others who excel
at the craft and produce some of the best games we play. Now it's carrying
over into the DQ7 debate. Like the guy in today's letter, I prefer FF over
DQ as well, but you seem to be blasting the game simply because it's more
traditional, and you find that insulting as a "distinguished programmer"
who, if given the chance, would blaze all kinds of new territory with the
DQ franchise, I'm sure.
Forgive the harshness, but by nature I write with the same sort of sarcasm
as you. It can't be helped.
I honestly hope you enjoy Chrono Cross. It's a fantastic RPG, and I'm sure
you will appreciate its innovation in a number of areas. I just hope your
perfectionist time-travel hang ups do not prevent you from relishing the
Um, case in point, I am a "software engineer". Got the framed
degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, the resume,
and the pale skin tone to prove it. But I'd never say that I could program
a game better than a game developer - I know people who make games for
a living, and they work insane hours for pay that makes a grad student
What I will disagree with developers about is the literary and
thematic direction a game takes, and yes, the development speed and
quality, but all those are judged from the standpoint of a long-term
dedicated gamer with a decent understanding of how things work, nothing
more. The day I begin talking about insufficient requirements modeling
with regards to FFXI is the day I bring my engineering education into play,
and that's also the day you have permission to shoot me.
|Not enough polar
|Emigrate to *your* country? Bah. We Canadians have noticed the alarming lack
of good beer and rabid hockey fans in the States. And you guys never have
enough good canoe chases on TV!
Anyway, I have a consumer announcement. That thing about the PS2 being $550
in the Sears book is crazy; it has to be wrong. I work in a game store and
we just got the info about the PS2 last week. We're selling it for $450
Canadian. Sears is ripping you guys off.
Good to know. Thank you for your Canadian insights, ma'am, and enjoy
your temperate summers.
|Funny, I know that the GIA team has a documented bias against Dragon Quest
VII (Ed McGlothin's "defense" of the GIA's lack of DQ7 coverage is
prominently displayed on some DQ fan website that is raising awareness of
the game, it's not my webpage so don't complain to me), but I wondered what
this fuss was about, so I read JT Kaufmann's letter printed yesterday.
Apparently he's making the judgement that because FF9 was ranked higher than
DQ7 for a while on Famitsu's most wanted list, that FF9 is more popular than
DQ7. Now JT may know a lot more about Japanese gaming than most, and I am
certainly envious that he lives in Japan and I don't (although I am going to
be taking trips to Japan starting next year), but I am afraid that his
statement might have a little problem with it.
Regardless of JT's japanese market knowledge, the Famitsu charts are not
representative of the entire gaming industry in Japan. The majority of
Famitsu's readers are more active active gamers (shall we even say,
hardcore?) who play video games often. These people are also typically
older teenagers to adults as well. Therefore whoever's sending in votes for
the most wanted lists, the votes are only representing this demographic, and
not the entire market.
What am I trying to say? The games simply cater to different crowds, and
Final Fantasy IX happened to appeal to more Famitsu readers than Dragon
Quest VII did. This despite the fact that FF9 sold mainly to hardcore
gamers due to the nature of the title's advertising and content.
But the fact is, sales prove popularity. Pokemon is the most popular
franchise in Japan currently. Final Fantasy is up there when it comes to a
single traditional RPG series. And now Dragon Quest VII has proven that it
still outsells the current Final Fantasy game it's competing with (in this
What i'd like to know is why you keep insisting on coming up with reasons
for why Dragon Quest outperforms Final Fantasy. You predicted the game
would sell like crap, then when you learned of the preorder numbers (DQ7's 3
million vs FF9's 1 million), when we saw FF9 do poorly (in comparison to FF7
and FF8), you quickly changed your vote, saying you meant that FF10 will
kill DQ7. Now that the GIA has seen Dragon Quest VII sell 3 million copies
in only a week of release (which may or may not have been better than FF8's
performance, I don't recall how fast FF8 sold) and has to eat their shoes
because of their predictions of the market rejecting the game because of its
graphics (pssh), I guess you guys will start saying that it doesn't deserve
to be mentioned next to the FF series on account of the traditional gameplay
or some other kind of excuse.
By the way, you have said that a lot of people living in Japan have not been
impressed with Dragon Quest VII. How much of that correspondence is
actually Japanese, and not just a foreigner imported to the country for work
reasons? Better yet, how many of them can actually read Japanese and are
not just playing the game blindly? If you can't answer these questions
honestly (and have to resort to lying <- Drew Cosner's speciality), then
don't bother posting my letter and replying to it.
My Playstation died so I've placed an order for a new one (a Japanese PSX).
I'm going to have to find time to go over to my friend's place to try out
Dragon Quest VII. I'll send in impressions to this column then.
Normally I'd feel compelled to stand up for all my friends and
colleages impugned by Des... er, I mean, Mr. Gab... um, this guy's
letter. But then it struck me that by and large the facts speak for
themselves - you, the gaming public, know the kind of show we run here,
and how we run it, and that's why we get the kind of numbers we do and
the kind of respect we do. Drew's legacy is more than secure, he
doesn't have to worry about any after-the-fact mudslinging, ditto the
rest of staffers mentioned. And yet JT Kaufmann sent me an excellent
letter, (totally unaware of this one, by the way) one which refutes
a lot of the complaints here quite well, so I'll let him spell it out
and move on.
With all of the DQ7 talk that's been going on, I thought I'd throw in my
two cents/yen worth, however clueless they may be. Word on the Japanese
message boards is that DQ7 is very traditional, has decent music, and has a
very good (and very, very long) story. Those are the good comments. The bad
continually point to the lack of innovation and the horrendous, outdated
graphics (which were apparently optimized for the PS2, leaving the game
looking like dogmeat on the normal PSX), including disappearing polygons.
Word on the street is that people are very pleased with the game, and don't
really have any problems with it. What does this say? It says that we're
obviously dealing with two different audiences here.
A while back I pointed out that FFIX had topped DQ7 in Famitsu's Most
Wanted chart. Now, think about who sends in the reply cards with their most
wanted games - it sure isn't Mr. Average on the street, but the "hardcore"
gamer (notice the quotation marks there). Likewise, little Miyuki-chan who
owns a PSX and three games for it isn't going to go onto the Japanese
boards to rant and rave about how much the graphics pale in comparison to
[enter Squaresoft game here]. Instead, she's going to play the game, like
it, and remember how much she liked DQ1. Basically, something to take into
consideration is that Dragon Quest is part of Japanese culture and society
at this point - a lot of people will buy it simply because it is DQ, and
not because Famitsu gave it XX score. Simply put, DQ attracts many people
that aren't normally gamers. Granted, Final Fantasy has become a part of
Japanese society as well and attracts some of the same audience, but you
simply don't have the history behind the FF series that DQ commands.
So what is the end result here? Well, as it stands, DQ7 is selling like
crazy, and while the people who play a lot of games are walking away
slightly disappointed, little Miyuki-chan and the rest of the "general
public" is thrilled. Print reviews of the game, which should have started
three weeks ago, have yet to appear, which isn't a good sign, but then,
these same magazines turn around and give the game a 30 page feature. The
game is taking a decent beating on the Japanese message boards, moreso than
the Final Fantasy titles have taken (face it: no one is ever totally happy
with any game, and will always find problems), but not so much so that
people should skip over it. DQ fans will find all of the things that they
have always loved in the game, and people who never played any of the
titles will find a solid RPG.
Enix set out to make a Dragon Quest game that the average Japanese (and not
necessarily the hardcore gaming otaku) would enjoy, and the way I see it,
The ironic thing is, this letter, which should have been
supporting "my side", ended up kinda faulting me on a lot of the things
I've been saying for the past few months. I still want to see more
information on the game, but to get things started:
I may have been mistaken about Dragon Quest 7.
|" okay, that one's not exactly DQ7 related, but I had
to bring it up, especially after I bought CC and found that the graphics
do stink "
*blinks* Uh...what? I think our friend Imad has a little explaining to
do...such as how could he find CC's graphics anything but mind dazzling? They
stink compared to what other game's graphics? Why are the graphics bad at all?
I mean, I can understand if he doesn't agree with the character designs, or the whole image of the game, but the graphics themselves are simply beautiful. Quite frankly I don't think that any other game on the PSX compares to it. I mean, just look at the white dragon, in real-time. You could almost swear that it's FMV material.
*ahem* Anyways, I find it slightly unsettling that our friend here simply
threw that comment in his letter without even explaining his opinion.
Still haven't played CC, so I couldn't make comment on that
statement yesterday. But AK has, so I have no problem sparking a debate
on this and forwarding it on to him. Enjoy, amigo!
|Once more, call...
I recently saw a huge article on DQ7 in Famicom magazine.
I recently bought "RPG School 3" for the PSX.
I recently realized I could -make- DQ7 on RPG School 3.
Jere, Lord of Pendragon
I liked this, but felt that yet again I had to put up a
counter-opinion as the next letter.
|Praise for DQ:
I like DQ. Yummy, froody sundaes and banana splits.
Of course, it's not my fault if the counter-opinion letter makes no
sense at all.
|Mr. Freeman's opinions
Here I was, ready to reveal my thoughts on DQVII, and DQ as a franchise in
general. Here I was, ready to type out an idea I had for a Chrono Trigger
sequel years ago that would delve into time travel much more than its
predecessor. But, playing the game myself, I must respect your desire to
be alone with Chrono Cross for a good long while, so my thoughts will have
to wait. In the meantime, check out this insultingly lame revelation!
I find it extremely satisfying to mop the floor with all challengers in a
I find the story events and character development of an good RPG well worth
any tedious dungeons that may need to be suffered through.
With these two statements in mind, I've just realized that any game that
incorporated emotion and character into a game in which I could whip
someone's ass man to man would rock my world. And no, the mystical journey
in the story mode of Shaq-Fu sure as hell doesn't count, you masochist.
Whoops, this was a bit longer than I had hoped. Back to Chrono Cross,
Sounds like someone's looking forward to The Bouncer as much as I
am - a strange sentiment, coming from someone who's supposedly my
Arch-Nemesis. But I agree - the badass quotient and feel of a fighting game
combined with the systematics and plot of an RPG would be very damn
cool. I always wanted to give the Samurai Shodown RPG a try, and
hopefully Square's first major PS2 game will give me a taste of
|Four truths, no waiting
|Boil down gaming to its deepest essence? Okay, here
Final Fantasy is overated in America.
Dragon Quest is overated in Japan.
Chrono Cross kicks ass where ever you go.
And Vagrant Story didn't sell nearly as well as it should have.
What more do you need to know?
Man, there you go again, cutting to the heart of the conflict and
resolving all our enjoyable little skirmishes. See if I invite you to
the next console war we have.
Hey, what the hell do you think your doing? Shouldn't you be playing
Chrono Cross? Well, don't just sit there. Go on..........go......come
on......and don't give those puppy dog eyes either.....hey...no.....their not
going to work this time.
Someone Who Cares
*hangs head sheepishly*
Yes, Mom. Sorry, Mom.
-Chris Jones, too busy to write a tag line