Well, that went over pretty well. Aside from some problems with Matt Elder (I'm really sorry things got so screwed up, Matt!), the first #giachat session went off without a hitch earlier this evening. We had pretty impressive attendance (24 people at peak), some... odd discussion, and quite a bit of fun. I'm not sure if we'll make it a weekly thing, but I'm sure we're going to do it again sometime. Stay tuned.

In other news, most everyone supported my contention to use coarse language as I saw fit, much to my relief. I'm not about to start swearing like a sailor, but it's nice to have a buffer zone around, you know?

Lastly, the astute among you may notice a new entry in the blue box along the side of the screen - Deep Thoughts. This is a new, experimental little feature at Double Agent, so I can feature both the short, snappy letters, and the longer dissertations without having to cut down on either. Hope you enjoy it - I did. That's why I posted it. :)

Wherefore level-building?


Well, since you asked (in a little note at the end of someone's letter)... Onething that I love in new RPGs that I've started to take for granted are thelittle numbers and messages that pop up while you're shopping and scrollingthrough menus. It's so nice to know what an item does before you buy it, orexactly how much a new weapon will increase your stats.

The other thing is minimal level-building. I've always felt that requiringthe player to "power up" was an idiotic concept, and I can't begin to say howglad I am to see RPGs moving away from it for the most part. However, manypeople still enjoy level-building, so I must ask, with genuine curiosity:Where's the appeal? How does one get pleasure from walking in circlesfighting the same enemies over and over? As far as I can tell, level-buildingis about as intellectually stimulating as eating a bowl of cornflakes, andmuch less entertaining.

-Toma Levine

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Allan. Allan loved his NES, and he loved his copy of Dragon Warrior for his NES. He played it every day. Each afternoon, after he finished up his day of school, he'd endure a long bus ride, impatient to get to work playing the game again. The average daily session of Dragon Warrior playing would involve him sitting around and building levels for many, many hours, then going to sleep. This satisfied little Allan. He was slowly but surely making his character better, so he could go and whoop up on the Dragon Lord.

Today, Allan doesn't think level-building is all that much fun. He'd rather have a weak, but interesting character than an overwhelming death machine. It's more exciting, more challenging, and less tedious. Allan agrees with Toma Levine that minimal level-building is a good thing.

Allan speaks in the third person sometimes, for no discernable reason. Don't worry about it.

Locked out

Hey Allan,

I was reading the articles about import lockouts...and something came tome. Now I can see why they would lock out FF8. They do, after all, need toassure as many American Buyers as possible. But why, when a game is notgoing to see an American release, do companies still not want us to import?I mean, is there really any bad side to the company getting more revenue?It boggles the mind that most companies would rather keep a game out ofAmerica than let us import and give them our hard earned (and more valuable:) money.

- LockeCole3

Well, in some cases, the company may not have decided whether or not to market the game outside of Japan. More to the point, every fifty dollars spent on an import game is fifty dollars not spent on a domestically released game. If imports were readily accessible, the amount of money spent on them would increase, which would draw spending away from domestic markets, and that's not a good thing, people. By creating lock-outs, it forces people to rechannel their gaming funds into the domestic market, which in turn promotes the continued porting of games for release there. It's all circular.

New Game +


One game feature which I wish absolutely every RPG without exception would use is New Game + from Chrono Trigger. I am cursed with the disease of perfectionism and in RPGs it really comes out to haunt me. I recently restarted Xenogears from the underwater city (30 hrs. into the game for me) just to get the Wedding Dress and RPS Badge. In Chrono Trigger, however, I could kick back and never worry about missing important secrets because I could always get them later. I have no idea why Square dropped this idea, but I loved it, and it's one of the reasons that Chrono Trigger is one of my favorite games of all time.

-Arpad 'Yes that's my real name' Korossy (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

Wow. I thought New Game + was cool, too, but the idea of applying it to other games hadn't occurred to me. That would indeed be nifty. Good idea, Arpad.

The wave

Hola! (hey, it's in spanish!)

I was thinking (which is a scary thing in itself) about some of the RPG's thathave come out within the last year or so, and there've been a lot! Do you, oranyone else here feel rather...overwhelmed by it all?

I mean, I remember when I had the SNES, and I absolutely loved RPGs, from dayone. But one would come out like, once a year, or maybe for longer periodsthan that! And I would think, I wish there were more of these! I'm sure everyone else thought similar thoughts, and then several years later,the PSX came out...and along with it in a time span of 2-3 years dozens ofdifferent RPG's (or so it seems) have come out. I still have like, 3 games tofinish that I've started on the PSX, and I don't have the time to get to themall...it's soo depressing!

I was just wondering if anybody else felt the same.

- Invisigirl

P.S. Has anybody reading this ever dream in FMV? Just wondering if it's justme...

P.P.S. By the way, I really like this site! It's very well organized, andwhat I like, is when you guys (people, I should say) have pictures of FMV,screens or other media, you actually SHOW it on the site, instead of showing alink to a picture like other sites. I thank you for that ^_^ Keep up thegreat work!

Sometimes it gets frustrating, trying to keep up with all the RPGs, strategy games, and other great games that are released. It's even worse now that I've gone truly multi-system. I've got so much choice, and so little time... and money. And for me, it's my *job* to know about these things.

So yes, I do sympathize with your feelings. My advice to you is to try and relax. While it's neat and fun to play these games, the second you feel pressure that you can't play all of them, and exasperation about it, it's time to step back and say "there are lots of games out there, I can finish some, and not play others, and that's just cool." Don't get depressed. Be happy. Enjoy the new breadth of games available. From diversity springs grooviness, that's what I say.

Oh, and thanks for the compliments. Always appreciated.

Defintions of action

1)Can you really call Tales of Phantasia a traditional rpg? I mean, in myundestanding that would mean a turn-based battle system. Every other gamethat I have seen listed as a trad. RPG involves some type of turn basedcombat. Tales of Destiny and Tales of Phantasia seem more like an actionrpg/trad.rpg hybrid. Don't you think so?

2)What color is Korey's nose?

- Robindra N. Deb

1. The lines of division between game genres are pretty shaky, so take that into account. Still, Tales of Destiny (and ToP), while boasting a very active, action-oriented combat system, still strike me as being "traditional" in style. They have random encounters that switch to a separate screen for combat, for example. Action-RPGs, to my mind, are ones where all the action takes place on the same style of screen - there's no distinct "combat screen", as there is in ToD.

2. Pink, just like the rest of him.


I don't think that there were any hit points in Adventure, but it is aaction/RPG if Zelda is a action/RPG. You played a hero(a square block) whohad to get a Chalice back to the Yellow Castle and on the way fought 3 dragonsand an annoying bat who stole whatever item you were using. It also had 2quests, an easy and a hard(it had an extra castle and things were in differentplaces) I'd write a walkthrough but I don't have my Atari anymore(Why did Isell it?)

Off topic but Haunted House is also the first Survival Horror game.

- Town Guard

(Feel pity for me that I know the plot of Adventure)

And who says we don't give props to classics here at GIA? :)

Zelda 64 and FF7 spoilers. 'n stuff

I have a few things I'd like to whine about. Alert: spoilers for games thateveryone should have played by now.

First, your website is unsave-able and uncopy-able! The only thing that canbe done to save it for later is print. I really wanted to save the gamingcliches article, but it refused to be saved! ARGH!

Second, in Zelda64, when you go through the temples and save the Sages,they say "I will add my power to yours." Which would be nice, except theydon't have any power at all! They're just 'broken bridges' to get past, soto speak(^_^). And in FF7, when Aerith dies, you just switch her materiaover to Yuffie. Er, except long range. Yay. Both these games are totallyfreakin' awesome, I must admit, but I dislike when the story is soseperated from the gameplay. Something cataclysmic happens, and as far asgameplay goes, you're just like "Oh, okay. Well, back to the game..."Grumble grumble.

Third, is it just me or are random battles really, immensely,extraordinarily irritating? What ever happened to the wonderful system ofChrono Trigger? (or Secret of Mana for that matter)

Ah. That's better. I just needed to vent my rage. Thanks.

-Zenoki, Fnordgrokker

Un-save-able? Odd. I didn't have any trouble. I can't select the text, but a quick Save As in Text format did the trick for me on that one.

As for the plot and gameplay disparity, well, I'm afraid that's the developers' way of keeping things balanced, gameplay-wise. I mean, I had some pretty hefty Materia equipped to Aeris when she died, and I'd be massively angry if I lost it all when she died. On the flipside, if the Sages in Z64 actually did imbue with their power, and it really was that incredible, it'd make the game sort of easy, wouldn't it? Ganondorf threatens the world, and you just lay him out with a left hook. Not very exciting, is it?

Random battles can get very tedious, very fast. I really liked Tales of Destiny in almost every way, but the random encounter rate was just too high. Drove me insane. CT's method was quite stylish, Breath of Fire 3's a little less so. I don't want every game to be exactly like that (Dragon Warrior isn't Dragon Warrior without the first-person battle scenes), but lower encounter rates are, to me, a mark of better play balance, rather than emphasis on tedium and hackfests for game advancement.

Flat TVs

Do you know if Playstation or Dreamcast has/will have any problems running on Flat TV? I am thinking of getting one is why, but I don't want it if I can't play games on it.

Harvester 5

Yes, yes you can. And they look snazzy as hell on 'em, too.

Little L and R things

My favorite "little tid-bit" from later RPG's that is constantly taken forgranted has to be the ability to use the L and R buttons on top of thecontroller to scroll through your characters when in a status menu, or equipmenu, or something like that. Do you remember how annoying it was in FFIVand FFV when you had to keep going out and switching charactrers? Gawd, thatpissed me off.

-Agent J-

Heh. Very true. As a total aside, I'd like to put in a big vote for all future RPGs to have full-screen pictures of the characters on the status screens, a la Tales of Destiny. Great-looking stuff, I thought, making for one of the snazziest status screens in gaming history. I *liked* checking on their XP values. :)

Can Can Girls and other classics

Dear Double Agent,

First off, I'd like to say "congratulation!" to you for finding Can Can Girls 2, it's a rare game, and it's going out of print soon. Order your copy today, before it sells out. Did I mention that I'm a pathological liar?

I suppose Can Can Girls 2 brings me to my next suggestion (well, technically, my first suggestion, but you get the picture). I think that the games "Hot Slots", "Bubble Bath Babes" and "Peek-a-Boo Poker" should be placed in the GIA archives. They are incredibly intelligent games, with a solid plot, and good game-play.

Hot Slots is the heartwarming tale of Nicholas Cage, a wandering, drunken bu, who finds room in his heart to give love to Elizabeth Shue, a Las Vegas prostitute. Along the way, Nich meets up with various Casino-Whores, who speak broken English, who show him the true meaning of life, love and friendship.

Bubble Bath Babes is a lighthearted comedic tale of three middle-aged women (portrayed by Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and uh... someone else), who have been recently dumped by their husbands for young, more attractive looking women. The gals band together to form "The First Wives Club", and I suppose they take baths and stuff, too.

Peek-a-Boo Poker is a gunslingin', fist flyin', fun-for-the-whole family porno-western, in which you play as Doc. Holiday, and follow his amazing quest to play poker, and look at pictures of soft-core pornography.

I tried to recomend these games to you on the #giachat tonight, but I couldn't explain in detail what these games were about, and their underlying meaning. Hope you get that game based on AV's classic "John the Leper" tale out, soon. Should be a blast.


For those that are wondering, Sak is referring to our own Andrew Vestal's classic tale of life, love, and light intoxication, The Adventures of John and Lisa Leper (and their dog Spot). In the event that ASCII does indeed port RPG Maker to the US, we here at GIA plan to open a Dex Drive archive for RPG Maker games, so you can share games with others. Among them, as soon as we master it, will be an RPG Maker adaptation of that classic story, where you can take control of the Lepers, and carry them on their quest to find the Good Stuff. Comepelling stuff.

In any case, thanks for the game descriptions, Sak. I'm not sure when we'll be adding them to the Vault, but I'll be looking into them...

Closing comments

I was sent a long letter that I really liked, but since GIA doesn't have an Editorials section per se, I'm having it put in for the next two or three days as a special Double Agent Deep Thoughts section, linked to in the blue box at the side. It's good stuff, and well worth checking out if you don't mind lengthy letters.

And that wraps up another one. Thanks to everyone who made it down to #giachat, and hope to do that again sometime soon. Ciao!

- The Double Agent

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Paulette Caswell on RPG design flaws
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