This is what happens when I don't do my homework.

For the record, GIA Chat is still on for Saturday night at 8 PM EST. The channel, however, will now be #giachat, not #gia. As Brian Glick and Andrew Vestal pointed out to me, there is already a #gia on DalNet. It's dedicated to something Portuguese, apparently. Whoops. My apologies, and please don't disturb the nice people in #gia, thanks. :)

Anyhow, tempers are running a bit high this column. The recent Sega-related discussions have prompted a few angry responses from both sides of the fence, and lord help me, the floating Working Designs flamewar has even erupted from my explaining the #2 Basic Law of being a WD fan. Sigh. So please, make sure your asbestos undies are on before heading in. Things are about to get really messy.

The Floating WD Flamewar

Firstly, I would kind of like to see a #gia on Esper, but my reasons areentirely selfish as normally hang out on #verge there and it would saveme the minor annoyance of getting and using a new IRC client.

Secondly, PS rocks. This isn't a very interesting thing to say, but it'strue. unfortunately, Sega of America did a loudy job translating andpromoting the series, but then Sega of America is a hideous abominationthat should be put to sleep and replaced with something more effectivebefore it hurts American gamers any further. I have to agree about themindless jingoism of the early gaming days. God, that was annoying.Anyway, PS3 did suck. PS3 is a cancer that should be cut out and havegood tissue grafted in its place.

As to the WD localization...well, you might think that because I hateSega I would love WD, but actually I don't. Aside from the usual "VictorIreland is a childish, egotistical SOB" argument, they simply do thingswrong. Localizing is a good thing, but WD localizes its games intotwisted mockeries of their original selves. Firstly, the most importantthing to preserve in a game is the ATMOSPHERE, the THEME of the game.Making every game into a lame humor-fest totally destroys this, which isarguabbly WD's biggest crime against gaming. Secondly, games should beinvolving, and they should be believable. Characters in games should notmake jokes that make no sense for the game world, whereas about twothirds of all WD jokes do exactly that. We don't need fantasy characterstalking about Clinton and swedish masseuses, thank you very much.Actually, it couldn't hurt to note that virtually ALL WD humor is lame,and that you should only localize a game that way IF IT WAS FULL OF LAMEHUMOR TO BEGIN WITH!! Yeesh. Anyway, that said, i think it's veryimportant to the American gaming industry (which japanese companiesstill have yet to truly respect) that someone is going around a pickingup licenses to translate things that we would otherwise never see.Still, Sony is doing a significantly better job even for their flaws, sowhat i'd really like to see is a WD-like company that translates goodgames without lamerizing them.

And Shining Wisdom wawsn't THAT had a fun atmosphere, for aShining game.

I was originally going to run the GIA chats on EsperNet, but in light of the initial response, I decided DalNet would appease more people. On the other hand, Esper *is* my "home" network, and is generally a more stable network than Dal, but offering Services, etc. Still, I said Dal, and unless there's massive public outcry, I'll run things on Dal this week. Once there, we can discuss shifting it to Esper in the future.

As for the WD stuff... oh boy, here we go. Now, I wrote up those two basic laws of being a WD fan half in jest, and half deadly seriously. I've been a fan of WD since their TG-16 days, and am still one today, which means that I am quite used to their style of translations, and I emphatically disagree that they do things "wrong." Quite the contrary, actually. I'd have gone insane trying to play Albert Odyssey if it weren't for the dialogue, which was extraordinarily silly at points, bless it. It's all a matter of taste, really. I like WD's humor, generally. I play their games and I laugh, ergo I like their translations. They're certainly not everyone's cuppa, though, and you're quite entitled to hate them.

However, there seems to be this absurd notion that WD takes serious, operatic Japanese games, and throws in out-of-world references willy-nilly, spitting in the face of the original developers. If this was indeed true, why the hell would companies like GameArts continue giving WD the rights to their games? Wouldn't they get annoyed? Furthermore, pop culture references, toilet humor, and the like are extremely common in Japanese RPGs as a whole. Things equivalent to the Bill Clinton reference, heaven forfend. Why don't you bitch about that? Why not write to Square and tell them off for having Evangelion references in FF7?

Working Designs consistently produces the most literate, clear, and conversational text in the industry, bar none. Whether you agree with what's being said is a matter of sheer opinion, but there are no Daravonese grammar errors, no mountains of typos or half-assed dubbing like in Xenogears. I'd rather have jokes that people might or might not enjoy than a translation so poor that a fourth-grader could find errors in it. You think otherwise, and I respect that opinion, however. YMMV.

As an aside, I'd suggest that you check out some Atlus games, a solid translation company that tends to do more serious games and localizations than WD. They're good people, and deserve support. And, as reported today, Crave Entertainment is getting into the translation biz, which will be interesting to see. Myself, I enjoy all of the above for what they are, and defend WD's right to do their thing to the bitter end. Oh, the wonder of differing opinions, eh? :) Thanks for writing in.

Esper translations

Since the localization of Genjuu - which was what the "summoned monsters" were also called in FF III-V - as "Esper" in Final Fantasy III USis solely an invention of the translator, I really doubt the "Espers" inthat game were derived in any way from Phantasy Star.

People shouldn't read too much into the US names. (For example, yourrecent story with pictures of "Cactrot T-shirts" - there's no such thing as a "Cactrot" - they're Sabotenders.)


Max C. Strini

Cool. Thanks for the reference, Max. I admit I'm somewhat curious as to where the term "esper" originated, though. I bet it's from a classic fantasy novel, though I can't place where for the life of me. Ah well.


Hey Allan I have a couple comments to make here....

In the last column a letter stated that, I quote "But the first console RPG in the US and the UK was Phantasy Star 1 for the Sega Master System in 1987/88. It was revolutionary." Ummm, this is wrong. It was Legend of Zelda, released 1986.

Oh, and another thing, have you heard of Terranigma? It is a SNES title made by Enix (who also made Illusion of Gaia, great game) Terranigma was only released in Japan and Europe. Some people consider it a sequel of sorts to IIlusion of Gaia. Well, anyway, since it is so rare for an American (or Canadian) to find, I thought I would write in to tell you about it. (I am able to play it because I picked it up living in England for a year in 1996. Of course, I have a European SNES too, which runs in my house in the US thanks too a device called a transformer which converts one outlet to European voltage) Anyway, it is really great. It plays quite similar to Illusion of Gaia in gameplay and themes. There is a variety of special moves and such depending on whether you attack during a jump, attack during running etc. It is certainly a great action RPG, probably even better than Zelda: A link to the past and Secret of Mana. It's certainly a shame that It wasn't released here, wasn't it? I guess Enix decided not to bother putting it here, probably because of Illusion of Gaia's relatively poor sales. But it's a shame all right.

And as for Square's big announcement, my bets are either on a US release of FF Compilation or maybe Chrono Trigger 2.

- Kalahari

Eh... I'm not touching the "is Zelda an RPG?" debate, but yeah, it did predate PS' release in the US. Anyone know when Dragon Warrior hit US shores, incidentally? I know it was an '86 release in Japan, but I don't know when it made the pond jump.

As for Terranigma, yes, that's a winner in my book. A fantastic game, translated into English, and denied to North America by reason of Enix of America's closing. Damned shame, too. It was their best game in quite a while, and might have salvaged their reputation, and hopefully sales as well, paving the way for Dragon Quest VI and Star Ocean to have been released stateside. Too bad.

PS stuff and wish lists

First of all, Allan, where's my cookie?

Anyway, my opinions on the PS series, and one question for you.

Now, I loved PS2. It was a landmark game in that it included the deathof a party member, a fake boss, and the ability to choose your partymembers. It was also a tough game, and fun to boot.PS3 was a tough game for me to like. I thought it was just boring. Thetechnique system wasn't done too well, either.PS4 was a great game. It had great features, like Combo attacks (Love'em), Macros (Great for Lazy people like me), and Really hard bosses(Slowly dying out in favor of the evil plot demons). It wrapped up thestory in a neat little package, too.

Now for the question: Rank these games in the order you'd want to see them translated:Dragon Quest 6, Dragon Quest Monsters, Seiken Densetsu 3, Pokemon Gold,Silver, Polka-dot, whatever versions, and the Megami Tensei series.

Greg (Waiting for DQ7 and his cookie)

There's actually a pro-PS3 letter after this one, so I'll leave that for now. As for the games... hm... I'll put Megami Tensei at the top, since that not only means old games, but upcoming ones. Next comes Dragon Quest VI, since I'm an old-time DQ junkie. Seiken Densetsu 3 after that - I own it, I love it, but I'd rather see the above choices. DQ Monsters next, followed by the new Pokemon games. Neither of them are especially bad, per se, but I didn't find DQM terribly innovative, and the appeal of Pokemon mystifies me, so that's my last-place pick.

PS3 defended!

I just wanted to say that I agree with almost everything Hahn's clone saidin his letter about the Phantasy Star series. The one thing I do have todispute is something you said in your reply, when you called Phantasy Star3 a black mark on the series. I have heard that opinion expressed before,but it is one that I disagree with very strongly. I completely agree withHahn's statement that each PS game was progressively better than the onebefore. While it was irritating that the third generation quest in PS3 wasnearly the same no matter which character you had, the game overall had agreat story, good music, great gameplay, etc, to such a degree that Ididn't even mind doing the same thing four times in order to get all fourendings. In fact, I've played the whole game through several times, so theredundancy thing isn't really an issue at all. PS3 also had asignificantly better translation than either of its predecessors. PS3 isdefinitely up there on my very top tier of RPGs, along with PS4, ChronoTrigger, and FFIV. So, if anyone is looking for a great old-time RPG toplay, PS3 is definitely one of my highest recommendations.

- David

Well, there you go. Some people do indeed like PS3. I'm afraid I'm not one of them, but I'm an equal-opportunity letter poster, albeit a rant-prone one. :) Anyhow, all this PS talk has indeed been read and absorbed by the rest of the GIA staff, and look for a Phantasy Star game to hit the Vault soon... along with another Genesis classic that no one except Fritz and I seem to remember. Watch for 'em in the coming weeks.

A Sega fan retaliates

Okay, first of all, I'd like to point out I usually never write letters toany site, magazine, or anywhere; I only write a letter when I'm dead seriousabout the topic the letter section is focusing on. So it is important thatyou take this letter seriously.

I was a tad shocked that there was not one letter that didn't defend Sega orat least point out a few good things about Sega (besides the fact that theymake excellent arcade games). They all took the opportunity to bash Sega tothe ground and praise there fancy shmancy Sony system (which, by the way, Iown, so don't think I'm all anti-Playstation). First, let's look at Locke'sletter:

"...I am not to impressed with the Dreamcast so far. Right now, ....(the)graphics arent TOO supurb... (the graphics of Dreamcast are) slightly buffedup N64 right ....Also, it didn't help that the first 3 games released toreceive to good of reviews. [snipped]"

And what were the launch games of Playstation? Battle Arena Toshinden?Destruction Derby? Ridge Racer? As you can see, the only good game on thatlist was Ridge Racer, very similar to the Dreamcast launch, out of all thegames out, only one stands out. Why people are just noticing this now withDreamcast amazes me. And the graphics, not that amazing? They are hell ofamazing, considering they are launch titles. Looking back at PSX's launchtitles, the graphics didn't look all that great either. Problems we hatenow, polygon pop-in, pixelation, low resolutions, major slow downs, weren'teven noticeable back then. As developers gained knowledge of the system,however, the graphics became better, and more importantly, the games becamebetter. They didn't have to worry about getting used to a new system. Nowthey could concentrate more on the gameplay. Same thing is going to happento Dreamcast. And by the way, I can tell you haven't played Virtua Fighter 3or any VF ("It's wrong to assume, blah blah blah!"). You'd rather play the"cooler and flasher" Tekkens...

"Their biggest enemy now is no longer Sony, but the lack of trust they haveinstalled in their customers and the industry they compete in."

First of all, remember almost half of Playstation's installed base haven'tplayed any other videogames before, so Sega's reputation means nothing tothem. Another thing, just because Sega isn't the "coolest thing in theblock" does detract from their ability to produce great games. Isn't thatwhat it all comes down to? Great games? Allan states that all they've seenso far are average games. But haven't you looked at their SOFTWARE trackrecord before the Dreamcast? They created the classic Sonic games, theclassic Shining Force games (which was before either of the Tactics, sothere's the answer of who copied who), the never played but superb PanzerDragoon Saga, their REALLY REALLY long list of arcade games that areabsolutely wonderful, etc.. From this list alone, I have no worries thatSega can't make excellent first party games. In fact, all the letters postedcompletely did not mention the REAL problem that killed the Saturn, not lackof first party games: lack of third party support. Well, to clear things up,Sega has almost every developer working on Dreamcast, everyone from the bigshots of EA to the cool kids of Namco, to Capcom (hard at work with ResidentEvil 3 on Dreamcast), in fact, almost everyone except for your preciouslittle Squaresoft. Amazingly, when asked in a chat room, the people theresay that the Square games on Dreamcast would suck cuz it's a Sega system.What the hell?

"Buying a PS2, LockeCole3"

Putting all your eggs in one basket, huh? There's no guarantee that the PSX2is gonna be a success, the one thing that made Playstation was third partysupport, because they had no first party games. 989 Studies is notconsidered a first party division, the first party games they HAVE made(exception, Parappa the Rapper) all really really suck (look at Spawn, thenremind yourself, that's an in house Sony game), hell, even their MASCOT(Crash) is made by a different company. Now look at Sega, a company known bytrue hard core gamers for their software. Now imagine all the third partiesthat made all the great games for PSX (minus your precious Square, and eventhen, rumors hint at DC development, Xenogears 2, you bastards!) plus theworks of arts Sega makes all in one system. That system is Dreamcast. Howcould one not be excited by Dreamcast? No, I'm not some pro-Sega guy. Iacknowledge that Sega made tons of hardware mistakes (Sega CD and 32X, GameGear, etc.). But I also acknowledge that Sony can't make games for crap,Sega can. Sega seems to have done everything rgiht (powerful hardware, easyto develop for, low price, tons of developer support, seems familiar? Yup,the advantages PSX had over Sega Saturn), and they have something Sonydoesn't, an excellent in-house software development team.

In fact, the only prob that might come will be marketing. Sega MUST marketthis right. I agree fully that Sega MUST start marketing now. It's the SuperBowl soon, Sega, what the hell are you waiting for? A variation of thepre-launch Dreamcast ads in Japan would be perfect. In these ads, Segahumbly admitted making past mistakes (in various ways, check other sourcesfor commercial info), this would be perfect to apologize to the Americanpublic for past hardware mistakes.Sega rings the bells "Really bad game company" to casual gamers, but to truehard core gamers, they ring "Really great software company". If Dreamcastfails (imo, not likely, if we just gave it a chance instead of shove it offcuz it's a Sega product), then I think it would be best for Sega to become athird party developer. Their biggest strength is software, it would beperfect. In conclusion, don't piss on Sega's logo everyday, at least givethem a chance.

-Clyde Hudman

Another massive rant, another massive response from yours truly. First of all, I'm annoyed to see you using the term "true hard core gamer", which is a crock of shit term used by people who feel the need to belittle others on the basis of their taste in games. Gamers are gamers, and using "hard core" as some sort of mark of superiority is totally absurd.

Second, yes, Sega has a long track record of making good games. However, the original topic of my rant was that Sega of *America* had really shot themselves in the foot, reputation-wise, and their relative inactivity in promoting the Dreamcast was going to bite them in the ass. You haven't refuted this at all. Sega of America are fuck-ups, basically. They haven't successfully marketed a game system since the Genesis, and contrary to what you believe, a lot of people do realize this. It doesn't take a big leap of logic to see bargain-basement stockpiles of old Saturn and Sega CD software, and realize that investing in a Sega system is a risky proposition in terms of buying a system with a future ahead of it. Sega has screwed up not once, not twice, but three times in succession in the US, and you're damned right that's going to hurt them.

Will the DC's vastly superior 3rd party software support change things around? Perhaps. But better deals and prospects than that have been fouled up by poor management and advertising. Can Sega hold onto their Dream Team? Can they get the games into America? Will they be advertised properly? Will the right games get US releases? Panzer Dragoon Saga was one of the most brilliant games I've ever played, but sales and quality aren't the same thing, and unless Sega can sell their games, the DC will be the Saturn all over again.

Sega of Japan isn't the issue here. Sega of Europe isn't. The software base, the DC hardware, all of that is fine. The problem lies in Sega of America, and whether they can break out of their losing streak and earn back the trust of the gaming public at large. They've got to prove that the $200 for the Dreamcast system will be worth it. And, if the letters I've received are any indication, they've got a long way to go before most people will trust in that.

Clyde, by the way, specifically asked for his email address to be printed. Please keep all long responses to private email, please, although I'll be willing to print shorter missives on the matter if you feel so inclined.

Closing comments

Gods, what a long one. My ranting muscles are aching, I tell you. My apologies for those that prefer shorter, funnier, more hard-facts oriented columns, but this was the shape of the letters batch for today, and I print what I get. And respond. I reiterate that I am presenting my opinions here, and I don't consider myself "better" or more right than anyone that writes in, and always try and print good rebuttal to my opinions, for fairness' sake.

Still, despite my desire to keep the opinions at least somewhat balanced in the column, and am quite certain I'll be getting loud response to my rants today, I'm gonna beg all of you, please try and keep them short. Today, things got waaaaay longer than I generally like, and would like to have a snappier column tomorrow. Okay? See you then.

- The Double Agent, readying himself for the flames

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