Double Agent
Think I got my Mojo workin' - September 5, 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. Catch me in a while, it's just a minor variation. Don't say we didn't warn you.

I'd like to take a moment to say how deeply disturbed I am by one aspect of Chrono Cross: the character of "Mojo", aka "Lucky Dan". I'm aware that "Mojo" is actually quite well liked among many members of the gaming community; indeed, Mr. Jeremy Parish actually dedicated a fan club to him. However, after playing Chrono Cross for a while I can only come to the conclusion that some bizarre form of mass psychosis has overtaken many people in the RPG community, for I see nothing amusing about a straw doll with a large nail through its chest and a crown of burning candles.

People, face facts: Mojo is weird and evil, not necessarily in that order. I don't blame his supporters for their ardent devotion to this scarecrow from the abyss, I believe that Mojo has somehow hypnotized them with his twisted speech patterns and gyrating pelvis. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that it is my mission to destroy Mojo utterly. I cannot say any more here, for fear that Mojo's unwitting supporters will try to interfere with my plans. But to you, Mojo, demonspawn, I say that your time draws nigh!


It's like Pokemon, but with souls
Ah, Valkyrie Profile,

Yes, it is a great game... I've been glued to my Playstation most of Sunday and Monday (I could't get my hands on it before... time constraints...).

Let's see, what do I like about it so far? This may contain some spoilers for those five readers of yours who are playing it instead/in spite of Chrono Cross; I'll try not to give away too much, though...

It's made by virtually the same team that put together SO2, but aside from the music, which sounds similar (not that I mind...), you really can tell it's an altogether different beast (though there are early game references to Yamato cuisine... that obsession seems to carry over)...

It looks pretty good for a 2D game... Which is probably why it's being overlooked... The opening movie, which you can see any time from the start menu (did I mention I love Tri-Ace?), is just gorgeous...

There are no gaping plot holes, perhaps due to the simplicity of the story: your job is to hunt for dying souls, collect them, have them go off w/ you to dungeons to gain experience, get them to up their hero points by way of said experience, ship them off to Valhalla. Oh, and you can check on how they're doing in between chapters (i.e., when you get your evaluation from Freya) Sounds simple? Heck no! I'm almost halfway done, and I could only ship two heroes so far and there's this dungeon/event in the story that I want to complete, except I keep getting wiped out [at Lezard's Laboatory], which means that while I don't die, I get kicked out of the dungeon, and can't go back (it's not standard in the game, though; most places you can revisit). Note that I'm playing with a difficulty of 'Normal'; I don't want to imagine what the hard setting is like... The story can be somewhat non-linear, but it doesn't loose coherency.

I love that you have to be careful in opening treasure chests, not only because some of them are trapped, but because if you're too harsh, you may break the item inside it...

Arngrim kicks butt!!

There you have it. The shortlist.

Princess Jemmy

P.S.: I told you so... ;)

There you have it, folks - if you've ever wanted to experience all the thrill of being a psychopomp (someone or something responsible for transporting the souls of the dead to the other side) then this is the game for you. Sounds pretty good to me, at least.

And yes, you were right, I couldn't finish the game in a weekend. But you know what, Jemmy? I don't need you to think I'm cool. I've still got fans numbering in the hundreds, er, dozens, er, one or two...

Well, at least my mom thinks I'm still cool, right mom?


Oh the pain, the pain of it all!

Ive been refraining myself so far from mentioning Valkyrie Profile. Im sure the game has some redeeming features, but getting to them is like walking through fire; unless youve trained youself to endure the pain, you just not gonna do it. What pain am I referring to? Oh, I dunno, maybe the voice acting? The amazingly dry and uninspired dialouge? Add to that to backgrounds that dont seem to scroll properly, but instead sway and move about at random, which causes (for some) a bit of nausea. Of course, like I said, there may indeed be a gem waiting somewhere beyond the first 20 or so minutes, but it causes far too much anger on my part to have to wait so long in order to enjoy a game. Of course, ive never been a patient guy. But please, play the game and base your own decision, because it would be a pitty to listen to me and gain an opinion you may regret later.

Kandrin on ice.

And here we've got the opposing viewpoint. Personally I'd feel inclined to give a game more than 20 minutes, and I've put up with so much bad voice acting by now that poor line readings hold no fear. Still, mark this one up in the "no confidence" column.

Yeah, well, I used to play Punch Out! with the Power Glove...
Gizmo: "Fighting Games: How the non-athletically-inclined and the introverted vent their frustration at not being one of the athletically-inclined or extroverted"

I'm not bitter or offended or anything, I just thought I'd stick in my two cents.

I like fighting games, though I've been sick of the unoriginality in the genre for a long time... Street Fighter 2 Turbo for the SNES is still my favorite, just because of the ten-star turbo setting.

I have a purple sash in Kung Fu(That's pretty good, but not insanely great). When we spar in class, I notice certain reflexes that have been built in since my Street Fighter 2 days. Like simply being alert for my opponent's motions and guessing his strategy, figuring out openings in his defense.

Now, it's a lot less dramatic than popping a SF2 cart into my head and saying "Dude! I know kung fu!" But it did give me a good mental training to expand on.

"Ya tai!"

Interesting. I've got no martial arts training whatsoever, but I'd always heard the opposite - that fighting games are completely unrealistic and nothing at all like real fighting. In a fighting game, players exchange all manner of blows for minutes before one of them drops. In a serious fight between trained participants, one guy quickly manages to hit the other in the kneecap, thus ending the fight and ensuring the loser has a few months ahead before he can walk again.

Regardless, I've given up on trying to throw energy wave fireballs in real life.

The GIA: Corporation killers for hire

I see the latest wiretap as being a really lame attemp to crash seganet just before launch. Hummm... I tough you weren't the kind of site to run such speculations...


I think you're giving us way too much credit as to the influence we actually excert over the public, let alone the degree to which we consciously use it. From my point of view, SegaNet has by far and away the best chance with online gaming: the PS2's network seems to rely largely on non-existent broadband connections, and Nintendo's barely even made mention of network play. Sega, on the other hand, has a modem attached to every Dreamcast in the country, and has several top notch games coming out designed specifically for the net. If anybody's gonna come out of this ok, it'll be Sega.

That said, I think a lot of Nich's points hold true. Consoles are not PCs, and a model that works on one may not work on the other. The only caveat I have at this point is that nobody's actually tried a large scale console gaming network in the US yet, and actual experiments tend to have a way of disproving mere theories. Still, the Wiretap logic makes sense.

That old New Coke thing
Hate to punch a hole in the great WireTap article about online-consoles but using the New Coke analogy is not appropriate. Having been a former employee of Coke I got to hear all about the secret reasons behind their bonehead maneuver.

Coke is an old company, very old. Like 1800's old. Round about 1980 the patent for Coke was about to run out. For those not familiar with patent law, once the patent runs out the product can basically be legally stolen. To avoid this disaster Coke decided to put out New Coke and stop making old Coke altogether. Well we all know what happened, they put out the Pepsi tasting product, everyone hated it and then they "wised up" and put out Coke classic which went back to the old newly repatented formula. Very clever when you think about it.

And now you know the rest of the story

ps. Great WireTap btw, just one correction.

Yet again something I've heard different about: I was under the impression that Coke was never patented precisely because they didn't want the formula found out. (Filing a technical patent involves releasing trade secrets to the government - and at some point when the patent dies out, the rest of the world.) By keeping the formula a trade secret, Coke never has to tell anybody what's in it. Still, I could be wrong.

How can you not get this?
What is it with these RPG players, who are supposed to be intelligent and sophisticated, as evidenced by their choice of favorite genre, who do not understand Vagrant Story?

There has been an elemental battle system in many games that is very similar to Vagrant Story. X element opposes Y element and so if you hit an enemy who has an affinity with X element with a Y element attack it will do more damage. If you hit that same X element affiliated enemy with an X element attack the damage will be much less and may even actually heal the enemy.

Well, Vagrant Story, instead of elements, has Class, Affinity and Weapon Type. In fact the Affinity portion is almost identical to the element system found in many other games. Water opposes Fire, Air opposes Earth and Light opposes Dark. If you have a Dark affinity enemy you hit it with a Light affinity weapon or spell. If you hit an Earth affinity enemy with a weapon or spell of Earth affinity then it won't do much damage because the monster is well protected against Earth. It seems obvious.

The Class and Weapon Type are slightly different but essentially the same. If a enemy is a beast, hit it with a weapon that has high Beast class affinity. If the enemy is a dragon, hit it with a weapon that has some Dragon affinity. If an enemy has high affinity with a Blunt type weapon, don't hit it with a blunt weapon, obviously it will be well protected against it. Instead hit it with the Weapon Type that it has the lowest affinity with. It's not like it is extremely hard to build up your affinities either. If you want to give a weapon fire affinity go kill water affiliated monsters with it. If you want a Phantom affiliated weapon go kill phantom type enemies with it. It's that simple.

I don't get why people can't understand these simple relationships and then call the game crap just because it is apparently so far above their realm of comprehension. No, Vagrant Story didn't sell as well as it should have and it's sad to think that we may never see the same level of gaming brilliance just because the gamers who are supposed to be the ones buying it may be too dumb.

I will say that what I didn't understand at first was how Risk would affect things but after playing the game, Risk seems only natural as a counterpoint to the chain-abilities.

On the other hand, if you do happen to understand the system but just don't enjoy dealing with that much customization then fine, I can respect that.

AL (who had to remove Chrono Cross disc 1 and play Vagrant Story again)

Pretty much anyone who was inclined to finish Vagrant Story's probably already done it by now, but I liked the succinctness of this. On the other hand, the fact that it took several long paragraphs to describe VS's "simple" system probably says something too.

While this has no direct relation to games, I feel that it should be of interest to anyone interested in protecting their freedom:

The MPAA and other industry organizations are currently lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require future VCRs to include "copy protection" features that would prevent you from recording cable television shows, even for personal, non-profit use. Home recording is legally protected as fair use and has been supported under the Constitution by past Supreme Court rulings.

The Home Recording Rights Coalition has set up a page from which United States citizens can send their comments directly to the FCC. You can simply attach your name to the pre-written comments or write out your own comments. Note that you must supply your name and address in the form; this data is used only to help process your comments.

The FCC is only accepting comments through *September 7th*, so act quickly if you want to preserve your rights.


- Fritz Fraundorf

Between this and the recent DeCSS court decision, it's starting to look like legitimate copying may be a thing of the past in the digital age, all in the name of stopping piracy and protecting sales. (You'd have better luck stopping a tsunami with a screen door, folks.) Speaking up for yourselves is good, so you might want to give this a look.

Twenty questions, divided by five

I got a few questions to ask you, they shouldn't take to long to answer.

1) I thought that the Wonderswan was suppose to be a cheap alternative to the Gameboy, whats this $95 dollar price tag I see? Do they really think any one in their right mind would that much when they could get GBA? Whats up with that?

2) Would it be possible to make a console with A LOT of RAM that could play two DVDs at a time? It would have 2 DVD drives and the 2 DVDs would work together and make a bigger, better game. Could it work?

3) I know you don't know much about DW7, but do you know if the graphics get a major boost on the PS2? I mean it did come out quite a while after the PS2 did so it makes since that they would make it more compatable.

4) When is RPG MAKER coming to the US?

Thanks for the help man!

1) The $95 goes towards a "special commemorative edition" with fancy packaging and a copy of FFI. I wouldn't be surprised to see GBA ship with no games for twenty or thirty bucks more.

2)Why on earth would you want to do this? Access speed of a CD or DVD drive isn't the bottleneck with games as far as I know - RAM and processor power is. (In other words, it's not getting the info, it's doing something with it that takes time.) All your proposed system would do is increase the amount of data you could get off a disk, and since a DVD holds far more data than most developers currently know what to do with (about 5 gigabytes) you'd be better off simply building a 2x DVD drive.

According to JT Kaufmann, DQ7 seems to have been optimized for the PS2, meaning that the graphics look decent on a PS2, and not so great on a PSX. So yes, it's optimized, but that's maybe not a good thing.

RPG Maker is supposed to come out this month, but it wouldn't surprise me to see further delays.

Closing Comments:

Ok, for tomorrow, I'd like to take a look back at Sega's last really great system, the Genesis. Aside from Phantasy Star, I have to admit I don't know that much about the system's library, except that at one point it was considered vastly superior to the SNES's for RPGs. Write 'em if you got 'em. Later.

-Chris Jones, never did like voodoo dolls

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