Double Agent
Patriots of the industry - February 5, 2002 - Erin Mehlos

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. Yeah? So? Don't say we didn't warn you.

The marked decline in hot, heaving discussion in these parts has got me a little concerned. Is it me? Is it you? Or are we simply living in that boring a time?

Let's go.

Nothing grows in the shade

Erin -

They won't even register on the radar upon their eventual releases - they'll be overshadowed, as they so often are by the big dogs. Sad but true.

As many others have already marvelled at, we're been in an RPG boom for several years. I'd guess that there's no longer anyone around who has time to play through every 40-hour RPG that the industry spits out. The market is really big now, so by its volume it weeds out the games that don't distinguish themselves. Quite simply, I have neither the time nor the inclination to play games that are just average. I'd rather use these dry spells to "discover" a few reportedly-great games that I may have missed out on than to even pay much attention to the latest crop of perfectly-decent but unspectacular games.

I'm sure some people would object that this kind of thinking keeps some great, innovative, under-hyped games from being noticed, and I understand that argument completely. (Especially since, though it's not as bad as it used to be, I'm still a Square whore.) But really, isn't that the reason to follow gaming news? When enough people agree that a certain game like Skies Of Arcadia or ICO really is better than your average bear, I know about it, so then I can plan my renting and purchasing accordingly.

-Toma Levine

Well do I remember the days when six months -- hell, a year -- could pass between RPGs. One well nigh forgot they were a gamer in the interim, until the sleeper genre threw us a scrap, and we devoured it with relish: Lagoon, Arcana, Drakkhen. The shittiest of games was received with open arms; every drop milked from its mean teet. Final Fantasy was meteoric in those days; Final Fantasy was a comet. While I would willingly contest that those early installments have nothing on the mediocrities of today, back then, in the 16-bit wasteland, they were nectar like none other -- no wonder we all became Sqaure whores.

And yet, it could be said that our very whoredom drives away prospective newcomers who might have something of sweet loveliness to bring to the fold. Is it any wonder we don't see more of MegaTen Stateside? Any wonder Sakura Taisen stays forever out of reach?

Still, when push comes to shove, I am perhaps one of the guiltiest among us. The constraints of time and money are heavily upon me; so much that I don't give RPGs these days a second glance unless someone, somewhere, assures me a new game is in some way life-altering. The end result? Square, goddam them, gets like 65% of my gaming dollar, and games like Jade Coccoon ... get the GIA continually bitched at.

Come see the darker side of Grandia


Honestly, for the moment, forget about Legaia 2, Wild ARMs: Third Advanced, and Shining Soul. Those aren't out yet. For the moment, cast your gaze towards Jade Cocoon 2... a good game deprived of a fan base because no one knows that it exists. I don't mean to sound biased or anything--hell, a game completely set against a western theme sounds sweet to me, but a game like JC2 would have a picnic under the nice shade of the DA--religious symbolism, a very unexpected plot-twist, an enjoyable battle/skill system, ect., ect.

-Lee, who just may be the only person who saw the darker side of Grandia.

Am I to assume you haven't been paying attention?

Admittedly, long overdue. But hey, we're busy over here.

The desire is gone

Dear Agent Erin,

Sorry, I missed the topic yesterday.

Basically, my opinion is that FFX.2 will launch in the summer in Japan only. Reasons? Well, Square has been running the FFXI beta in Japan for a while now, and apparently the user reviews haven't been very good. "Too American" or something. So, when FFXI fails to sell even 1 million copies in Japan, Square needs a quick hit game to recoup the massive costs. Kingdom Hearts alone won't do it. Therefore FFX.2. It's the perfect solution. Minimal development costs, built-in demand, and they buy themselves some time to make FFXII, Chrono Break, etc. as good as they can.

Why Japan only? Well, as everybody knows Americans *LOVE* their MMORPGs. So I'm betting Sony and Square figure that this game will drive HD/Eth sales. So no need to bring FFX.2 over here and reduce our need for online gaming. Again, Japanese stereotypes of American gamers screws us in the ass.

-JC, Who has no Desire to play a Final Fantasy game with some 20 year old PKing jerk named "L33T |\/|09 F|_|C|<3R"

While I kind of doubt the likelihood of Square going to the trouble of developing FFX's sequel only to release it exclusively in Japan while a receptive American market marinates over here mouthing the words "mother-fucking bastards!" while still firmly resolving to buy the next 18 Final Fantasies, regardless, I'm not going to contest your logic. I don't feel like it.

Get me a sandwich.

Missing the point

Agent E-

Two things, both off-topic. Lucky you.

First: if I hear ONE MORE PERSON say that they cried at Aeris' death scene, I am going to start to kill people. IT WASN'T GOOD. It wasn't emotional, it wasn't tear-jerking, it wasn't profound. It was a poorly animated woman with a LEGO smile being bloodlessly impaled by a six-foot sword with a really sappy MIDI theme droning along in the background.

Get a grip.

Now that that's out of the way...

In reference to your (admittedly well-written, at least for its purpose) mini-fanfic-letter-response thing yesterday, I have to say that FFXI-type of games give back exactly what you put into them. I've played Diablo and its sequel for years; if you roleplay it and if *you* make it dramatic, it will be dramatic. It may sound silly, but it does end up making the game more fun.

But don't expect the game to do it for you. Any character-specific plot or emotion will be yours to ascribe. Good luck finding someone else with little enough dignity to join you...

-Eightball, raising up his claymore and crying "Freedom!"

A very good point.

Tying this in with my "mini-fanfic-letter-response thing" of yesterday, if "Lalicia" and "Jarand" both happen to be seventh graders who can't be bothered to type "you're" in conversation when they can get by with "Ur," chances are you're not in for a whole lot of heart-rending drama. God forbid anyone should role-play in a role-playing game.

Indefinite suspension

Hmmmm ... Shinging Soul could be fun. Nah, it will be fun.

But what I was really looking forward to were the remakes Square announced a while back. Remember, those Final Fantasy VII and VIII remakes with real time backgrounds and cutscenes? God, that would've been great. Do you have any idea what happened to them? Maybe I just imagined it or something, but I'm pretty sure those bastards announced it a while back.

Maybe they just ran out of money or something, but everyone knows when you're out of money you go Capcom on the unsuspecting buying public and crank out some rehashes with minor improvements. It Resident Evil 3 (the crappiest RE since that light gun game without light gun support) can get rereleased on a doomed platform, than damn it all, I want my FFVIII in real time.


No, you're not imagining it. They really did make such an announcement. Quite a bit of time's elapsed since this alleged project fell off the map, and while it's difficult to say for certain what's become of it, there's a theory that the FF remakes have been placed on indefinite hold in light of Square's shaky financial situation.

Sheltered modern city lives

I think that Wild Arms 3 will be a huge hit upon its release, simply because it's /different/. I still enjoy a good fantasy world, and I will tolerate a game that's set in a more modern-day environment (but why nmust it always be a modern-day CITY? Why can't it be set in the Yorkshire Countryside, in a series of small villages surrounding an Archaeological dig of a Viking settlement that... oh, never mind) , however, as far as I know there are NO OTHER SERIES WHATSOEVER - save a few of those early 2D shooters on the NINTENDO, for god's sake - that actually deals with anything resembling the Wild West. The RPG world needs this game, lest true innovation in RPGs die! If this game fails, will we ever leave the safe modern cities, the (Semi)-Scifi, and the Fantasy worlds again?

Despite being less than impressed with WA2, I'm considerably more interested in WA3 right now than a lot of the other forthcoming RPGs, partially for this very reason: its Southwestern flavour, heavy on the chilis and cilantro, is a welcome change of pace from the stock fantasy/sci-fi RPG mythos.

Should WA fail, maybe Nintendo will finally see the light of day and give us a GCN installment of Mother to carry on the legacy of non-semi-sci-fi.

Nothing to write home (or in) about

Well I'm really looking forward to the Legaia sequel. I really enjoyed the first one. It was a really fun game for me and I particularly enjoyed the martial arts battle system. Though I don't think it will do well over here considering it couldn't even scrounge up 100,000 copies sold in Japan but who knows.

I'm interested in Wild Arms 3 too but not quite as much. The first two were good but nothing to write home about. I do hope they get someone different to translated WA3 because WA2 had one of the most god awful translations I've ever seen.

Pendy the DQ/DW guy

Funny; I'm thinking just the opposite. Legaia brought some interesting stuff to the table in terms of battle, but beyond that there was little about the first game that interested me. If they can successfully build on some of its strengths, however, I might give the sequel a look.

WA, on the other hand, may have gone awry with the second game, but I've a lot of love for the first, and the third offerring with its unique visual style has garnered the better chunk of my interest.

A few good reasons

Erin -

Shining Soul. Why? Well, lots of reasons.

First, I love the Shining series. So obviously, any addition to it is welcome. Even if it is more like The Holy Ark than Shining Force.

Second, my portable RPG fix is running dry. Golden Sun fell quickly and easily, followed by Breath of Fire, and Circle of the Moon has provided its enjoyment. I haven't touched Megaman Battle Network out of fear.

Third, I simply love touting my GBA and how wonderful it is. Anything to show it off to my friends and go "oooh..." is fine with me.

Fourth, I haven't had an action RPG worth it's salt for a long time. Not since Symphony of the Night. Don't Circle of teh Moon me. It was good. But, it just wasn't...Symphony. Or A Link To The Past. It wasn't worth it's salt. When I say it provided it's enjoyment...after 5 hours I stopped caring and bought Mario Kart.

Wild Arms 3 is lokin pretty good, just because I LOVED Wild Arms. Didn't play 2.

As for Legaia...well...let's just say that I'm interested enough that I might actually point at it in the store and say "Hey... I HEARD about that!"


Ray Stryker..who might have a valentine this year...

Having a Valentine beats the crap out of, say, sending chocolates and flowers to your hand.


Erin: She who wears the crowns, who satisfies the gods,

When given the choice of talking nicely about Wild Arms 3rd, Shining Soul, or a new Legaia game and bitching and whining about there being no good games coming out, I would quickly and gladly take option 2. However, rather than be a whiner and a total grinch, I'd rather wax ecstatic about some of the OTHER good things happening in the next few months.

1) Another US DDR game: While my love for DDR has begun to wane in the last year or so (where's DDR Max, dammit!), any new Bemani game being announced for US release is a good thing.

2) Kingdom Hearts: Me = Shameless Square Whore.

3) Gitaroo Man: You WILL bow before the weirdness that is Gitaroo Man. Not only is it intensely bizarre, it's also a hell of a lot of fun.

4) US release of Love Hina: Not game-related, I know (well, sort of... there were those terrible game translations). For all 3 of you who haven't heard of it, think of it is the next evolution in the "unlikely guy with harem" genre of anime. (see: Tenchi, Ranma, etc.)

And now for a little pessimism and vitriolic bile: Wild Arms 2 was an intensely uninteresting experience and the first Legaia game made Wild Arms 2 look positively orgasmic in comparison. Therefore, I will not be giving either sequel more than a 1st look. Shining Soul, while looking pretty good, is appearing on the GBA, a system I have no intention of owning any time in the near future. Being well over 6' tall, I have rather large hands that don't do well when it comes to portable systems. Plus, there aren't many times when I would play a portable system and I absolutely refuse to sit in my apt. playing one for hours on end with my entire body cramping up.

[takes a breath] Ahhh... much better.

Griffin, who would prefer it if someone woke him when it was September.

I just hope that when September rolls around, we're not so groggy from the long slumber that we keep hitting snooze until 2003....

Closing Comments:

Much as we gamers tend to catch up on any titles we may have missed when the industry beast cat-naps, so will I now begin a process of revisitation to honor all the games that DA overlooked in the blitz that was Winter 2001.

First up: Pikmin.

This interesting spin on strategy gaming hid its challenging gameplay behind a simple and childlike facade -- a Miyamoto hallmark. Now, having had a month to lead your Onion-spawn to victory, would you say its a worthy addition to the master's gameography?

- Erin Mehlos

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