Well, that was quick turnaround.

After the Mahabharata-length rants of yesterday, today's batch of letters are rather short and inoffensive. About sixty million people wrote in to tell me what Esper means and where it comes from, in a brief fashion that pleases me down to my socks. Short and sweet was the order of the day, and by gum, I thank you one and all for being so. A few people commented that they tune out when they see epic-length letters, and though I like them in moderation, I can understand the preference to read short, snappy letters instead. It also allows for a wider breadth of writers, and thus views, to be heard, which is a Good Thing.

In a completely unrelated note, I was hunting around some online game stores recently, and encountered a game so bizarre and hilarious, I just had to mention it. It's for Saturn, it's an import, and it's called... Can Can Girls 2!

(Hint: it's not a real time Civil War strategy simulator.)

Yes, it's an R-rated anime-styled dating simulator, a fine example of the gaming genre that next to no one is brave enough to bring to North America. Too bad, really. Can Can Girls 2 looks almost as funny as Bloody Bride...

Oh, and before I forget, a reminder that tomorrow (Saturday the 23rd), at 8 PM EST, on the DALNet IRC network, channel #giachat, the first Double Agent chat session will be held. Special guests will include, well, me, and whoever else from the staff I can drag along. Should be interesting, to say the least. That's #giachat, not #gia. Don't enter #gia, people. Please.

It's gloating time, baby!

"Anyone planning on purchasing the Japanese release of Final Fantasy VIIImight want to reconsider... you might not be able to play it. Magic Boxreported today the highly-anticipated RPG will use Sony's new lock-outsystem to prevent its recent games from being played on systems equippedwith mod-chips."

And that my friends is why I have held on to my ancient,have-to-turn-it-upside-down, "piece of crud," piece of tape jammed in thelid sensor button playstation. How sweet it is. This is more of a poke at mybuddies who are always telling me just to get "a new one and 'chip it." Forthose of you who don't know, the oldest playstations can play games byletting a legal game get as far as the white screen and then yanking it outand sticking in an import or backup. (This ain't the CD player switch eitherfolks, no missing music tracks!) Honestly though, I hope this isn't thecase, it'd be a bummer for about 90% of people importing (I'm sure mostpeople bought later PSXs) but then again, it does make me proud to be one ofthe ancients...

-Zach Stroum

That's... something that hadn't occurred to me, actually. But really, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work, bypassing Sony's best efforts to lock out US gamer's attempts to get FF8 early. Cool beans. Have you, or anyone else who regularly uses this method, tested its effectiveness against any of the new games that Sony's implemented the lockout scheme on? Does it still work?

Oh, and on behalf of all those of us with late-era PSXes who will be locked out: damn you, Zach. Damn you and your damned badger to hell. Write again soon. :)

Dragon Warrior is growing on us

Dragon Warrior 1 was released in North America in 1989....Boy, that brings back memories...it was my first RPG, and the first video gameof any type that I beat...way back when I was only 5 years old...of course,now I wouldn't touch a game as plotless and one-dimensional as DW1, but backthen, it was sure fun....

Funny how SaGa Frontier now goes into the same category as Ogre Battle andUltima 8 for me...games that I hated the first time I played them, but thenactually liked them when I came back to them a few months later...I mean, Istill consider SaGa basically plotless, but at least it doesn't seemimpossible anymore..(of course, the Scrap junk shop cheat might have somethingto do with that...)

Ah, well, I'm not going to write up a very long rant this time...see ya...

Owner of the Berserkins,

The Elephantine Gutless Wonder,

Daniel Seltzer.

Thanks for the info on DW1, Dan. I remember getting my copy of that, and hogging the NES for days on end, building up levels with glacial speed, working like mad to build up enough GP to buy the latest weapon and armor... gods, I had a lot of patience.

As for SaGa Frontier... hrm. See, I really, really hated that game when I played it first. Then I rented it again, and played it really extensively, and was able to shape my hatred of it, and discover just why I dislike it so intensely. Now, a few weeks later, I again feel a hankering to give it another try, and see if I can find the appeal that a lot of people I know and respect found in it. Funny.

Esper meanings

Just a note.. the term 'Esper' is actually a real word, being the root ofthe French verb 'To Hope', Esperer.

Also, I'd just like to speak in defense of Slacking Designs. Ok, so maybeLunar: SSSis going the way of Magic Knight Delayearth, but it'll be worthit. Honestly, I've always felt their rather irreverant style adds to theenjoyment of a game, rather than detracting. Sure, Working Designs mightmake us wait a while for the games, but in my opinion, they'll be worth it.

- Rasis

You're really curious about where the term Esper originated from? *sighs* Despite the fact that it's the common term used in a lot a lot a lot of sci-fi novels to describe...someone who uses ESP (Extra Sensory Perception), the sci-fi equivalent of "magic". Highly appropriate for two games featuring technology, n'est-ce pas?

- Ciaran

While I don't know the exact date on it, the earliest reference to "esper" I've heard is from the Urusei Yatsura television series. Tape 13, I think. I believe this series was around in Japan during the late 70's and early 80's... If the term "esper" is older than that, (which it probably is) I wouldn't know.

--Tony Patino

Three meanings for "esper", among quite a few. I included the tail end of Rasis' letter, even though it has nothing to do with espers, simply because he used my personal favourite WD nickname, Slacking Designs. Hee. Thanks for all the responses.

On-line help


Anyhoo, I was reading today's (or maybe yesterday's) column, and, wading through all the WD bashing, and anti-WD bashing, and Sega stuff and so forth, noticed a few references to Shining Force and so forth. And I also noticed the inevitable comparisons to FF Tactics. Now, its been ages since I've even looked at any Shining title, but I thought I might as well say why I liked FF Tactics so much as to rate it one of my favorite games ever. This feature was pretty simple. FF Tactics had an all-inclusive help system. Put simply, it was user friendly. All you had to do was press Select and you got a description of absolutely everything; abilities, spells, signs, classes, locations, you name it.This made the game so much more enjoyable to me (I've always hated wondering what a give item or spell in a game does, only to find that nowhere am I told what it is). Anyways, I didn't want to get dragged into a Sega or WD versus anything war, so I thought I might throw this into the ring and run.



Yeah, that was a great little feature, well-implemented, and providing some of the clearest text in the game, actually. It's up there with character portraits next to dialogue boxes and visual indicators of status changes due to equipment choice as my top picks for little features in modern RPGs that I love to death. I sometimes take a lot of these seemingly-basic features for granted, but when I play some older games, I really start to miss them sometimes. Anyone else got a favourite little system or feature that they can't live without, or wish all games would have?

A different side to the Dreamcast war

About the Dreamcast versus PSX thing, I believe the PSX only had success against the N64 due to the fact that it is extremely easyto copy PSX CDs. The fact that you can get most games for US$ 5 to 15surely motivated many gamers to buy their PSX (myself included). I know this did not benefit softwarehouses, but their placed their betson the system with more units sold. Besides, the CD format is IMHOmuch better than cartridge«s.

As for the Dreamcast, something I think will be a obstacle is that ituses a different CD fornat (called GD, I think) which will make it harder to copy. Game companies usually forget how important the"unofficial" (black) market is.

- Flavio Prado

That's an interesting perspective, though it's not the only factor in the PSX's success, especially over the N64. Better and more prolific third-party support, easy-to-use development kits, good marketing, and a year-long head start helped a lot, too. Hell, if capability to pirate games was the only factor that mattered, wouldn't the TG-16 and its CD attachment have pounded the SNES?

Lack of releases?

Hey Allen,

Have you noticed that there has been a lack of RPGs released lately?Think about it, the last game was Zelda and that was barely a RPG! Thenewest traditional RPG before that is Xenogears and that was in October!I guess Bust - A - Groove came out a little later...

Anyways, nothing really good seems to be coming out anytime soon, Lunar: SSS will be delayed until june, and Crave's shadow madness wont bearound for a long time. (Although scheduled for march...) Legend of Legaiais the only thing that I *hope* will come out on time. Which one of thesetitles are you looking foreward to the most?

- MistaSopz

Game companies generally try and cram as many releases into the last two months of the year as possible, to take advantage of the holiday sales rush, when they make most of their money. Consequently, releases slow down considerably after that, usually picking up in time for springtime, and growing steadily again until the fall blitz period.

As for upcoming games, well, in a revelation that shocks absolutely no one that read yesterday's column, I'm drooling at the prospect of playing Lunar: Complete at long last. I've enjoyed the other two Lunar games immensely, rating them among my favourite games of all time, and expect no less of the latest one.

Talk about retro

The first console RPG is neither Dragon Quest nor Phantasy Star. The first console RPG was Adventure, released for the Atari, in 1977 I believe, give or take 3 years. Despite the name, it's an actual RPG, with a quest, hit points, battling, and all that jazz.

- Desmond Gaban

Wow. Now THAT is retro-gaming - good memory, monsieur. A cookie for you. This would make a pretty darned nifty Vault entry, wouldn't it? Good call, anyhow. Slapped me with the history stick upside the head but good.

A scary idea

Could you lay a terrible thought i've had to rest? In your news articleabout FF8's resistance to play with mod chipped playstations, was itimplied that ALL copies of the game will be this way, or just those madein Japan? That is, will us modded players be able to even play theregular US release of FF8?

Hardly wanting to un-mod...


As far as I know, the extensive lockout strategies used by Sony are only in effect for their Japanese releases. Consequently, I don't think there will be any need to un-mod a PSX in order to play the US version of FF8. Rest easy, for now at least.

Landstalker! Hoo-ah!

Hello. For the Genesis before it faded, there was a game that was created and came out for it called Landstalker, if I can remember right it didn't get huge support by anything, but did do well critically and sold decent I think. Buty god, i enjoyed the game thoroughly, then for Saturn it had a sequel, which was an exceptional game, except, and this is one big ass except, but the developers decided to include some new-joke-of-a-fighting-system which killed the game from doing better. Anyway, my question is this, and I hate to go here, but in the cloudy and vague world of Console categorizing, is Landstalker considered an Adventure type game, an RPG, some kind of action-strategy game? Also, as far as you know, is anything along those lines of the original in production or planning? Landstalker is one of my personal favorite games of all time, which siimilar to as you stated with Panzer Dragoon saga, didn't get a good market, and Dark Savior I felt was an excellent game ruined with a cheesey tactic they hoped to bring in new gamers to the game. (Plus a crazy censorship job) Both games are some of the most difficult I have played, something lacking often in sheer timing and precision.

Thanks for you time.


Well, I'm glad you asked. For Landstalker fans, there are two games of note to find, or wait for with bated breath. First is Alundra for the PSX, released in the US by Working Designs, which plays quite a lot like Landstalker, and shares much of the same development staff. Good, bloody hard stuff, if not exactly dazzling in the graphics department.

For a look at Landstalker's future, look no further than Climax Landers, originally planned to be a launch title for Dreamcast, now schedule for a July released in Japan. It's being developed by Climax, who developed Landstalker, and even includes some cast members from Landstalker itself. Gameplay-wise, it's in the Zelda 64 mold, though knowing Climax, it probably places more emphasis on action than minigames, and will be a damn sight harder. All in all, it sounds like a winner, and I dearly hope CL hits the US. You can check out our coverage of it in the Games section for more info, of course.

Closing comments

Professor Daravon wants to know if Thor Antrim and I will ever get into a hardcore, bloody-fisted slobberknocker (that's a fight). Well, I'm a bit miffed that he stole my name (he was running around calling himself Allan Milligan for a few days there, the rat bastard), but I'm not sure I'm riled enough to pick a fight with a thunder god quite yet... of course, if he provokes me, I'll have no choice but to spank him but good...

Oh, and Roric noticed the Dennis Miller ref in the column title yesterday. You are a man of impeccable taste.

One last thing. I'd like to ask all of you this: does the periodic use of adult language/profanity in this column offend you? Frankly, I prefer the leisure to use strong language when I think it's justified, and don't like to censor myself if I don't need to, but will submit to public opinion, if you'd prefer a straight-laced, squeaky-clean version of the column. I won't be printing votes, so just slip your stance as an addendum at the bottom of your letter, thanks.

- The Double Agent

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