Okay, people, back to work.

I got lots of letters last night. All but, like, three of them told me the same thing. Gosh, can you ever guess what that hot topic of discussion was? Here's a hint: it involves me forgetting something I know damned well.

Anyhow, the backlog of messages has been mostly cleared out now, so don't be shy about writing in from here on in. It's all good, baby. Got it? Good. Now, let's get this puppy humming...

Agent tat is Double


I admit answering 100 questions in a weekend must be hard, but...justwhat were you thinking when you posted the answer to 83?!? Did younot realize that would spark the ever dormant Kirk vs. Picard debate? Did you not? Good lord, man. I feel so sorry for you. Uhm, now thatI have that over with, how about some questions / comments?

1) Do you think that most Final Fantasy fans are happy that the moviewill bring the game to the general audiences? Or do you think thatthey want it to remain in the hands of only gamers?

2) What are the little "Jr. Dolls" you win in the battle arena usedfor in Xenogears?

3) Is a Double Agent an Agent tat is Double?

4) Very cheap way to experience new video games over and over again:Find a game you really like. Give the front part of your head a sharpblow. Develop amnesia, and enjoy again. If the game also has acharacter with amnesia, you'll feel closer to him/her as they remembertheir past lives along with you.

That's it. See ya.

-Aaron Littleton (at least that's what the name on my driver's licensesaid.)

1. Well, opinion seems to be split. Some people feel that the FF Movie is the last straw in Square's progessive selling out, and changing their focus from gaming to movie-making. On the other hand, the FF Movie does stand a chance of widening the series' appeal to a wider audience. What works against it is the track record of virtually all video game-based movies getting thrashed in the box office. I don't think there's a consensus about it. Yet.

2. They can be equipped as an Accessory by certain characters (depends on the doll) for special effects, such as critical hit or damage rates going up, magic damage randomly being altered, and so forth.

3. Yah.

4. Cooooool. That's a great idea! I think I'll try that right- hey, wait, have I written this answer before? It's, like deja vu all over again...

Okay, so it was a terminally lame joke. At least I got to quote Yogi Berra.

GIA goofs

Howdy GIA:

I have a question about Star Ocean 2. Your sight says it's beingdeveloped by 989 studios and should be out the second quarter. Where didthis information come from? I can't find correlative evidence to supportthis. 989's site says nothing about the game. Please explain. Thanks.

- Joe Meyer

That information is incorrect. It has now been fixed. I don't know how that got put up there in the first place. Chalk it up to random patches of insanity. Mea culpa. Won't happen again, thanks for the heads-up about the error. SO2 is apparently due for US release by SCEA in 2nd Q 1999, according to OPM and Next Generation.

Nine more for the list

Hey you!.. yeh!... you!I got some goddamed questions for ya.

First, what the hell is with Hideo Kojima, every photo I see of him his eyesare red, and tired.

Second, what's with all the racial, and other, stereotypes in games? Cid andKen were typical americans, revolver ocelot was an obvious western wannabe,and Barret was horrible.

Third, how come FF8 characters act like such dorks in the demo?

fourth, my friend said the starfield ending is traveling to the next world toshow their struggle against evil, so if FFI didn't have it does that mean it'son the same world as FF2? Or was my friend smokin' silly stuff that day?

fifth, why did my asian friend move to Geogia?

sixth, why did he get in a fight with a huge, manly, racist, hitler worshipperfemale?

seventh, how do you pronounce princes new name?

eighth, will you forgive me for being so damned disgruntled? (I had a bad daytoday)

Ninth, why cloud in tactics? What about cecil, sephiroth, Leo or anyonebesides that confused loser!

- The gamer formerly known as Cha Th**/Mr.T the breaker

1. He does, doesn't he? I suspect that he's a really hard worker (it certainly seems to show in the case of Metal Gear Solid). He also appears to be about as photogenic as a cactus with leprosy.

2. Stereotypes are easy, characters are hard. There's precious little to gain from spending the time and energy to develop a well-rounded, likeable and memorable original character. So, many companies will simply go with a short-hand characterization route, slotting in stereotypes, which everyone knows and will remember quite easily. It's not right, but it works.

3. Because they're dorks. Hardcore dorks. They suck off Bangkok whores and like it.

4. I think he was dropping acid, but the idea's the same.

5. Because he wanted to pick up chicks.

6. Because he tried to pick up the wrong chick.

7. You don't. He's not worth pronouncing. He's a has-been, pansy-assed beetle carcass. Let him die in obscurity.

8. ... yes.

9. Basically, because Cloud is the main character in FF7. So he gets first pick of guest appearances, cameos, merchandising offers, and so forth. They invest a lot of time and money into the guy, and they'll use him as often as they can, to make sure he earns his keep.

Actual facts about loading times

Pertaining to the loading times discussion: In FFVII, loading times wevitually eliminated by simple asynchronous drive access. This sounds farmore complicated than it is. What happens is when your character (usuallyCloud) approaches a certain "hot spot," a small circle around a town, thearea near the entrance to a new section, etc., the PSX loads the appropriatefile for use in the next few seconds. So, for example, say Cloud approachesRocket Town. When he comes within a few centimetres (on the screen), the PSXwill start accessing the pre-rendered Rocket Town map and the Rocket Townmsuic, and loading it into volatile cache memory. The seek time (the partthat consumes the most time) and vRAM loading are thus eradicated. The PSXthen only has to load the cached files (a VERY quick procedure) to displayRocket Town and start playing the music!

Insofar as FFIV-VI are concerned, this asyncronous loading is not a viablesolution. As the memory where these files get cached is erased and reusedvery often, loading the whole game this way is simply not possible. As forthe horrendous scenes, Square probably did a straight port with absolutelyno code revisions. This resulted in hardware glitchiness which results inreally poor reproduction.

Resoultions, eh? I think (and please don't kill me if I'm wrong; I'm workingfrom memory) the lo-res is 320x240 or 320x200, and the high-res is somethinglike 512x384 or 512x320. Ultrahigh-res (I think the PSX is capable of this,but no game yet uses it...I think) is 640x480 or 640x400.

Please don't ask how I know this: First, if I did, I'd then have to killyou. Second, then I'd have to kill you.

Oh, some questions:

1. Do all you GIA-types have fantastically powerful computers?

2. Why do I like CT so much, and yet never play it?

3. I honestly believe that Square will move on after FFIX or maybe FFX. Theseries, while ridiculously popular is becoming hackneyed and seems to berunning out of fresh ideas. Cash-cow aside, Square needs to either breathesome life into a series I see stagnating before my eyes (Draw system,anyone?) or leap aboard a new flagship (Xenogears, CT, or even SeikenDenetsu) and start fresh. For all Square's pontifications that each game iscompletely separate from the others, the trends seem to follow. They don'teven have to throw it away; just put it in storage for a good de-bilgeing.Wait until Chrono Trigger V comes out, give FF a good twice-over, and takeher out for another once around the bay. As it stands now, they seem to berunning the poor beast to death. (BTW, sorry about all the sea-faringreferences.)

- The Great AND Amazing AND Utterly Magnificent AND Superbly Stupendous ANDSimply Super Slurp

Thanks for the tech info, Slurp. A vast improvement over my futile efforts. And, in answer to your questions...

1. No. Hell no. I'm not naming names, but some of us have utter crap computers that cost fifty cents at a garage sale. Some of us have great computers, mind you. But not all of us.

2. Well, I love it too, but I played it to death when I got it. And there are lots of new games, and older gems that I have not played yet. Games that I might very well end up liking more than CT. I've played CT, I enjoyed CT, I recommend it to anyone that hasn't played it, but the joy of gaming is finding new and cool game that you've never played before. Finding new favourites is, to me, more exciting than replaying an old one for the umpteenth time.

3. Eh... you're more optimistic than I am. I look at Mega Man, which ran for 10+ installments without a major shake-up in the gameplay, and my gut tells me that the Final Fantasy series will continue to be made until it stops rolling in the dough.

Battles of Britain

I agree with the letter by Dark Paladin about a strategy game about thewars of Britain. So many colorful generals and leaders have come fromthat area. In fact, one huge game encompassing multiple disks, andcontaining all the conflicts, between say 1066 through the 18th centurywould be awesome. You could choose between the Wales, England, Ireland,or Scotland. And as time progresses certain events happen like theBattle of Bannockburn in 1314. Or the ascension of James II in 1602. I'dlove to see Atlus or another company make a game like this. I don't thnkanything like that has been done before. The closest would be those Koeigames taking place in Asia, but still, its a great idea.

Koei has also made at least one fantasy game (Gemfire), one U.S. Revolutionary War game, and two Age of Exploration games. They're a strange, neat little company, aren't they? In any case, yes, I'd love to see British history turned into a game, without any trappings of swords and sorcery mixed in for once. No leprechauns in Ireland, for chrissakes. Just cool intrigure and politics and armies clashing by night. That's the stuff.

More on Xenogears

Like every good RPG fan, I have little better to do than to promote andpropagate discussions about inconsequential details of Xenogears.

1) What in the world is the techno-voice in the Xenogears Boss Battlemusic saying? It's always sounded to me like "Censor Vietnamese Cable.

2) Is it just me, or is Grahf's face just plain hard to figure out? I initially saw an extension fromthe helmet as a pointy nose, a white ridge on the lower part of thehelmet as his teeth, and appropriate dark areas as his eyes and mouth.The resulting image is very silly and lasting (look at the picture ifyou don't believe me!) A friend swears that his actual face is visibleinside the helmet, but all I get (along with everyone else I've talkedto) is this really silly image, which reduces the awe and respect he istheoretically supposed to command to mere snickering. Oh well.

3) With regards to the "meaning of Xenogears" debate, here's my own,possibly unique take. I seem to recall that an "alpha-Xenon matrix" wasmentioned (with accompanying pictures of molecular structure) in theopening anime scene. The element xenon is one of the inert "noblegases," but unlike many of the others, it has been observed to forminteresting compounds (with oxygen and halogens, under the rightconditions.) I thought Square might be pointing out unrealized potentialof this element by making it a component of Gear structure. Then again,as a chemist, maybe I just WANT to believe that my work might lead tothe creation of giant battling Mechs.

- Keeleon

1. It sounded to me like "Kill Michael Flatley", actually. Maybe Square doesn't like the Lord of the Dance either...

2. I think that Grahf's "face" is at least partially a large, overhanging helmet/facemask, which shadows his actual facial features pretty much completely. I suspect that he may have grafted his helmet to his head, just to look really Evil, but that's just my guess.

3. Huh. Interesting. You wacky chemists. Always finding new angles, eh? Nudge nudge wink wink say no more.

Insult to injury

Well, I find it *rather* interesting that you don't know where to find the name origins list...because Fritz, your co-worker, has it on his site www.cosmocanyon.net. The list was originally maintained by Mark Rosa and was hosted on his site, The Almagest (the Town of Illucia had a link to it, I believe). It was formed my a merge between a list Mark had created as well as some items that Andrew Vestal had put together in a little FAQ. I was one of the contributers to the list, so I should know, right?... =)

Anyway, if you want to put it on G.I.A. you'll have to ask Fritz, I guess...Also, I'm sure you'll get several people e-mailing you with the same info, but print my letter 'cause I never get printed, 'k? ^_^

~ David Barton

Your wish is my command, David. Okay, I had a brain fart, I knew Fritz maintained the list, my bad. Again. Sheesh. I'm gonna see about getting that list up at GIA Real Soon Now, in any case.

Closing comments

AJ wrote in and told me that the Game Gear Oasis title was called Defenders of Oasis, and it was a traditionally-styled RPG. Thanks, guy. And that, I'm afraid, is all she wrote. Be back tomorrow, write in and share your thoughts, and never sneak up on a walrus in heat.

- The Double Agent

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