It never fails.

I get back on the job, after slacking off for a unreasonably long time. I've got letters, I've got rhythm, I've got a banjo, I'm naked, I think I'm okay. Sure, there are rumors being spread about that I'm going to kill myself, but hey, you gotta take the good with the bad, n'est-ce pas?

But I made one big mistake. I made a massive mistake. I made a statement in yesterday's column that prompted the sending of a challenge to me. Someone has thrown down the gauntlet and spit on my turnip patch, and by gum, it's a tough one.

Can I handle it? What am I blithering about? What's that orange stain on my socks? All these questions and more will be answered over the course of the coming week, in bits and pieces, until the challenge, and my carefully-prepared response, are unleashed upon the public in five days' time.

Be there.

Happy Fun Ball strikes again

Why the hell did you post that crazy piece of insanity about scrabble, horses,and zoo animals? This is the reason none of my letters are being posted! Because you post any piece of shit about having sex with animals!

Well, enough of my flame mail...

I have a question about Zelda 64. Is there any way to get magic beans aftergrowing up and being able to plant them to grow into a vine again?

Another question, but it's about Game Boy Color. Can the Game Boy Color playold Game Boy games (but not in color)? Cause I want to get Zelda DX, TetrisDX, all the Final Fantasy Legend games, and a Bubble Bobble game. BubbleBobble for the NES has to be my favorite game!

Another question, but about Abe's Exodus. Here's a hypothetical question. Let's say I accidentally save right before I die in some gruesome (meat saw)accident. Is there anyway I backtrack a little bit so I don't have to restartthe game? Cause there is no way I could roll out of the way from where Isaved. This is hypothetical, or course...

--Matt Elder

Why did I post crazy insanity about scrabble and zoo animals? Because it amused me, and hoped it'd amuse someone else. I usually don't succumb to temptation and post more than one silly letter per day, for fear of pissing people off. But gosh darn it, I was in a pissy mood, so I got silly. Can you forgive me if I answer your questions?

Anyhow, the magic beans, to my knowledge, are a one-shot deal: plant 'em, grow 'em, and that's that. The Game Boy Color can, I know, play all pre-existing Game Boy games, with no blurring, and your choice of color palettes to apply to it. Good little machine, the GBC.

As for Abe's Exodus, I'm afraid that you saved in truly terrible position, and will be totally screwed, I'm afraid. Hypothetically.

The three-point turn

Hello Allan.

I have a few things to say, ask, point out, and needlessly ramble onabout. I would APPRECIATE it if my questions were answered, my commentscommented upon, and my needless ramblings blatantly ignored.

First of all i will bring up a question I sent you in the past, but musthave gotten sent to the wrong Double Agent (damn e-mailmen). At thebeginning of Xenogears there is a cameo of that brainy chick from ChronoTrigger, well I was wondering: after Fei goes nuts... and destroys thewhole town, does she die along with the rest of the unfortunate victimsof that nutty Fei??

Second. I was watching the movie "THE OMEN" last week (good christmasmovie), and noticed something. When Damien's father (Daimen is theantichrist for you who may not have seen this movie) realizes that hisson is the antichrist, he goes and seeks out the one man who can helphim, Bugenhagen (spelling may be slightly or horribly wrong). Iremembered Bugenhagen from FF7 and thought it was kinda interesting.This leads me to two conclusions about squaresoft:

A) They are a bunch of Film buffs (because of all the little names andthings related to movies that they throw in).

B) They guys and gals at squaresoft are all a bunch of satanists(because of the references to the omen, and how many times do we killgod or an angel in the games)

Thirdly. What do you think of the Dreamcast????????? Do you think itwill do well. I don't, it is powerful and has lots of potential, butSega is not very trustworthy.

And finally. If you have played through Metal Gear Solid (best game oflast year), tell me something. When you fight Psycho Mantis does thegame stop, the Tv beep, and the screen go black with the word HIDEO onthe screen. This happened after you change controller ports to stop himfrom reading your mind. I just wanna know if there is something wrongwith my copy or if i won a contest or something.


First, my guess is that Lucca, when she noticed the enemy Gears coming in to level the town, she immediately cranked up the time key and headed on home. She's not stupid. Alternately, she could have easily run off like the rest of the villagers, and from there, gone and hit on Big Joe or something. I doubt someone as smart and beautiful (well, as fictional characters go...) like Lucca would die in a pesky battle with giant robots...

Second, Bugenhagen is the name of a famed 16th century German composer who set a wide variety of Christian hymns to music. Hence, it's a Christian reference, though I'm sort of lost as to why they tossed him in there. Is there another, more sensible Bugenhagen I'm unaware of? Anyone? Regardless, yes, the Square people are big movie buffs, and seem to love tossing lines and names into their games paying homage to their faves. Where they got Bugenhagen from, specifically, I really couldn't say.

Third, I'm both intrigued and skeptical of the Dreamcast. On one hand, the tech specs are certainly impressive, as is the developer list. I suspect that how well the online gaming features are implemented and promoted will feature heavily into its growth and potential, since that's the clearest area where it simply doesn't have any competition. On a purely personal note, I'm a big Landstalker junkie, so the upcoming pics and preview information of Climax Landers have me drooling like a brain-dead fanboy. On the flipside, Sega has a long history of mismanaging their hardware, especially in the US. Moreover, umpty-million companies have pledged support for the DC, but then again, many of the titles they announce may become Earthbound 64 parallels: neat concept, but gradually sinking into the territory of vaporware (EB64 is off Nintendo's release schedule now, by the by). To succeed, DC needs some really spectacular games, and not just from Sega themselves, but other companies. Any system can boast good first-party support. It's the third parties that'll make or break it.

Lastly, Hideo is the first name of Hideo Kojima, the director of MGS. The HIDEO flashing up is a cute way of putting his name into the game, and when to switch controller ports to make Psycho Mantis weaker. It's part of the game. Dinna panic.


Greetings, Double Agent. I'm Billy Lee Black, star of the hit series of"Billy Lee: Man of Action" commercials. A while back, I heard a rumor that a new versionof that Windows classic Minesweeper was coming out. It was going to be titledMinesweeper 2000 and would feature polygonal graphics with support for allmajor 3D accelator cards (not to mention FMV cutscenes whenever you placeda flag), and was supposed to come on 4 CDs. However, I haven't heard anythingabout the game recently, and I couldn't find any mention of it on Microsoft's website. It's a puzzle game, so you do know anything about when it's coming out? I hope it hasn't been cancelled; I was really looking forward it.

- Billy Lee: Man of Action

****The above message was brought to you by Shakhan's Hair Club For Men*****

I once read a report that there was a Minesweeper remake/redux in production, actually. But, as you see, it appears to have ended up being vaporware. Perhaps it will one day be released in a double-pack alongside Dragon Warrior V, for play on your Super NES CD-ROM system.

Pieces of junk in Parasite Eve

How do you get lots of Junk?? I try to get alot in the Chrsler Buildinglevels 2-10, but the fights take way too long to get into! What should Ido? Any suggestions?

- MistaSopz

I'd suggest heading to the long, narrow, North-South hallways in those levels. The blue birds are what give you the Junk, so that's what you're aiming to find and kill. Once you find them, they tend to bunch up, so use a shotgun-type weapon to put them down quickly. It's pretty tedious, I admit, but it's the fastest method for getting Junk that I've found.

Ranting like there's no tomorrow

Yeah, I know, I'm sending you too many letters. So shoot me. Actually, don'tshoot me until after I finish stating my extemely unpopular opinions here.

First rant: Chrono Trigger.

Ok, I love this game, but why does everyone seem to think that it's the bestgame ever made? I mean, sure, it's very, very good, but can it really comparewith most of Square's other games? First, my main gripe is the characters. The3 main characters are teenagers, and, it really annoys me when kids oradolescents are used as the main characters in a game. I feel like I'm beingpandered to, as though I will "identify with them better". Personally,children being characters conjures up traumatic memories of Illusion of Gaia(the worst RPG I've ever played) and Earthbound (the worst RPG I've NEVERplayed). Personally, I'll stick with young adults, like we have in most FFgames. Second of all, there's the plot. It's extremely cliched, which wouldn'tbe much of a problem, except that it's also incredibly predictable. The onlyreal surprise comes when you find out that the Prophet is Magus. I'm notbashing CT (well, I guess I am), because I do like the game, it has a verygood battle system, I just don't like it as much as I like any of my modern FFtitles (4-T).

Second rant: My second favorite series of games, the Ultima series, beingconsidered a "typical" series of computer, non-console RPGs.

The Ultima series is often considered the generic computer RPG. However, whenmost people ask about the difference between a console RPG and a computer RPG,the usual answer is that the computer RPG has the plot set outside the game,while the console game intertwines around it. If this is so, why are theUltima games considered standard computer RPGs? Ignoring the first 3 Ultimagames, (sadly, most people who have played the series have only played those)which are about as fun as playing Earthbound, IOG, BOF2&3, listening to theSpice Girls, and studying for a physics test, doing all of thesesimulatenously, the Ultima games have an incredible plot and amazing dialogue.Now, I'm not talking about the console ports of the Ultima games, with, whichthe exception of Ultima 4 (which Andrea did an excellent job reviewing in thevault, I might note), were generally degraded. The conversation parser wasamazing. Every person had a thick conversation that you had to unlock byfiguring out the right keywords from their conversation and that of others.(well, in U7+, they just provided the words for you). People who had nobearing on the game whatsoever could be talked to for a long period of time,each one having a fairly distinct personality. In Ultima 7:Part 1, there werenearly 300 such people like this! How can you have that much conversationinvolved and not have an intertwining plot! Now, also, computer RPGs aresupposed to have a greater emphasis on battles. However, in the Ultimas, thebattles were always secondary. Ultima 4's battles, because of the need to gainValor by not running, were intentionally probably the most annoying ones inany game I've ever played (ok, besides the ones in BOF2), while Ultima 7'sbattles were a paradise for a battle-hating-plot-lover like me, as all youhave to do is hit "C", watch your comrades fall upon the enemy! Ok, so it'snot for everyone, but it worked for me.

Ok, so I've spent my time ranting against one of the most beloved games of alltime, and worshipping a computer RPG. So, hmm...I guess I need to top this offwith an inane question that you cannot give an intelligent answer to. Why notthis: In SoulBlazer (another one of my favorite games that nobody seems toknow about), how the heck can tulips dream?

The Elephantine Gutless Wonder,

Daniel Seltzer.

As you say, Chrono Trigger is a very good, very slick game. Most people don't have any trouble with teenage characters, which would increase their enjoyment. The soundtrack, by Yasunori Mitsuda, is one of Square's best, and the graphics among the best the SNES ever pulled off. Most of all, to me at least, it was the sheer style of the game. It had panache. It had cave people whooping up on giant mechanical dinosaurs, laser-shooting robots and magic swords, and the most self-consciously mute main character in gaming history. The lead-up to the first battle with Magus, with the music crescendo and path of candles lighting up as you ran towards the circle where he was waiting... glorious. Granted, FF6 had at least as much style, and FF7 had style to spare (Vincent, anyone?), but CT is a classic, and rightfully so. Good game, good characters, good memories.

As for Ultimas, I think they are the best-known PC RPG series, and that's why they're often cited as being "typical." Many feature of Ultima have been co-opted by other games. The Ultima series tends to be a trendsetter. Well, except for Ultima VIII. Ugh. In any case, I really don't take much issue with Ultima being described as being a "typical PC RPG", since I don't think there's such a thing. What's so similar between Fallout 2, Might and Magic, Ultima VII and Everquest, might I ask? It's all just semantics, Daniel. Don't sweat it.

As for the tulips, well, in the Soulblazer world, tulips contain a highly reactive hallucinogen called enixias. The reactive quality springs from the fact that enixias contains a sort of "soul of the tulip", as it were. The tulips are sentient, but in a constant daze, and therefore you can visit their dreams, but they're essentially too stoned to resist or protest being picked to make bouquets.

Seventh Evolutionary Cross

Ok i'll make this short. In relation to that EVO letter by Mr. Strange anew game for that cinnabun loving machine, the dreamcast, 7th Cross soundsmighty similar. You probablly knew that but I felt it was my duty to benosy.

- Bosco the Wonder Bear

This is correct, though I believe that Seventh Cross is considerably less linear than EVO was. The latter game was divided into set levels with bosses and so forth, whereas the new game (for Dreamcast, detailed preview available here at GIA naturally) appears to be a bit more nonlinear. From the previews, it strikes me as being sort of like Monster Rancher meets EVO, but we'll see, I guess. Thanks for the reminder, Bosco.

Quick release date question

What is the release date of Legend of Legaia? Ive seen january andmarch, which one is right?

-Flavio Prado

As mentioned in the new GIA coverage of Legend of Legaia, the Japanese release date was October 27th, and the US release date, as Sony officially announced, is in March. Just in time for my birthday. They plan these things to suit my needs, you see.

The Mighty Thor

Does Latvernia exist? And didn't you just say that so this new RPGuruwould quit and spend the rest of his days looking for the last land ofLatvernia? You know you did it... Now, uhm... feel guilt and stuff.

Eric Kolb, a.k.a. Dygel

Don't take your eyes off that "Thor Antrim" guy... he's the new letterman at... eh... I shun to say it... RPGamer. He might be looking tosteal some info from you.

Just watch your back, Okay?

-Agent J

Latveria is a fictional European nation under the sole control of one Victor von Doom. As you can guess, it's a cheery place, with lovely lakes and wild leprechauns abounding within its borders.

As for Thor, well, I know that he's the new letter guy at RPGamer. He's also a long-time reader and letter-writer to me, and while I don't know him well enough to claim his as a friend, he's a cool guy and he wrote a good letter. Ergo, I posted it. I'm not out to get him... well, not yet, at least. :)

Five days! Five days until the end is come! It'll be big, I assure you. Tell your friends or I'll have your ears for bloody bookends!

- Allan Milligan

"I am Zemo, and what I want, I TAKE!"

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