There's been lots of feedback, personal and to Agent, about the recent feature regarding Final Fantasy IX. Most accepted it as it was intended: a set of indefinite musings that came to an interesting conclusion from the facts at hand, but which wasn't purporting to be "true" in any way. If it turned out to be correct, awesome; if not, c'est la vie. But others have complained about GIA's journalistic integrity being shot, how you can't trust us any more, how you expected better from us, etc. One of you even swore never to return to the site again.

   Hot steaming malarky, says I. The GIA has the best news coverage of upcoming RPG, strategy, and puzzle titles around, and we'll continue to offer this coverage in the future. But it's possible to speculate on rumors and theoreticize about titles without sabotaging journalistic integrity. In the gaming industry, sometimes, rumors can become newsworthy -- and as long as they're clearly designated as rumors as not presented as fact, there's nothing wrong with commenting on them. It would be a disservice to our readers if we heard a plausible, interesting rumor and didn't report it -- if we waited until it was "official," we'd be months behind the rest.

   The Final Fantasy IX feature was intended as pure speculation, nothing more. If you agreed with its conclusions, super. If you didn't, that's also great -- at least it gave you something to think about, right? Rumormongering would be posting unsourced stories about Grandia: Complete, Phantasy Earth, Lunar: Eternal Blue for Dreamcast, Persona 2 for Dreamcast, Chrono Trigger 2 (also for Dreamcast, surprise!), or Final Fantasy IX being the last title in the series. Posting a single, well-documented, clearly marked story investigating a rumor is the kind of journalism fans deserve -- so they can separate what's true and known from otaku daydreams.

   In any case, let all fears about the GIA "selling out" to tabloid journalism be quelled. That feature was a one time investigation for your reading pleasure, nothing more. If anyone complains to you about the feature, point them towards this letter column. As for us, we've already put the feature behind us as we get busy updating with more exclusive content -- onto the letters!


To the agent it may concern:

Recently having a seminar on the topic: "Pikachu: Cute or Communist Plot?" with various buddies, I direct the question towards you.

Is Pikachu cute? Or is it the first step towards converting our government to a communist regime?

Remember those epileptic seizures in Japan in December 97? Sure, Nintendo tried to write those flashes off as "poor animation." But it was really a failed first attempt in Nintendo's nationwide brainwashing campaign. When Nintendo's president called most Japanese games "boring and stupid," he meant "empty of Nintendo's communist propoganda."

One look at Nintendo's Pokémon sales will tell you that the operation was a success. Ten million cartridges weren't sold because of the game's quality, that's for sure. And kids in the U.S. love it too! Pikachu! Pikachu!

You suck! No, you suck!

G'Day AV. I've got a few minutes to kill and I feel like ranting, so girdup your shorts and bear it.

I wanna address an issue that's been haunting my extremely groovin' selffor the last, painful two weeks, and that just happens to be (fear mytopicing ability) net politics and journalism.What I don't understand is why people, not simply will not, but in manycases cannot come to the realization that two sites can co-exist withoutcollecting angry mobs of people on either "side." After all, games weremeant to be fun, not an all-out pain in the ass.

So, AV, what is it with people? Rememberthe days of Illucia? Why can't it be like then, when surfing the various sites was total elation, as opposed to this brutal guerrilla warfare that I am seeing more and more often? I tell you, it's disheartening thesort of public response that surfaces from the masses nowadays. I'm damnedafraid that when I open my own site, which I initially planned to be aplace to practice writing news stories, reviews, and a column, it will be attacked by barbarians and other paranoid, rant-worthyindividuals.

I guess I finally understand why Khaled Mardam-Bey added the infamous troutpopup to mIRC -- people just like to have conflict. How lame. Oh well.C'est la vie.

Eric Kolb, a.k.a. Dygel

Good points, Dygel. A lot of people don't know -- and don't care -- about politics behind sites, but the truth is that the politics do exist, and they can get in the way. Here at the GIA, we'd love (of course) to be the only site you have to visit, but we know that's just not realistically possible. Different sites have different strengths, and if you have the time to visit thirty of 'em a day, more power to you.

Still, it's always a shame when politics and whining forces a site to shut down -- I was forced out of Square Net due to a barrage of obscene spammings to USENet, and Final Fantasy Omega was recently closed due to inter-site bickering.

Fortunately, politics seem to be the concern of only a very few, "hardcore" gamers (with way too much time on their hands -- most people (rightfully) couldn't care less. The GIA's advice? Visit whatever sites you want, and make your own decisions about which sites you like and which you don't. Miring yourself in politics just wastes the webmasters' time -- and yours.

This really yins our yang

Hey Andy, I just wanted to say: great job: I check GIA more often than any other Website. You guys do great work.

Now the real reason for this message: I want to advertise my own page, which is a semi-parody page of the GIA, the Gaming Stupidity Agency. It started as a basic parody of GIA, but has metamorphed into a version of for video games. Where else are you going to find stories like "Doom 2 announced for GameBoy" - with screenshots?If you or anyone at the GIA finds our page offensive, please remember: We at the GSA think the GIA is great, and the GSA has no malice behind it, only poking gentle fun. Please enjoy!

GSA Url ->

Keep the faith!

Vincent Valintine aka Professor Daravon

Nice site, Vincent. Being parodied is a form of compliment, I'd imagine. ;) Hope that you can keep up with the stories! GIA readers might get a kick out of it -- please keep in mind that, despite the HTML similarities, GIA does not endorse the site or the content. :)

If they build it...

Regarding the foreign lockout for FF8, you should know that for the twogames that already use this type of "protection", there are supposedlyAction Replay (Game Shark) codes that let you play these games, as longas you have a mod chip. I don't know if they work, though, as I don'thave a mod chip (yet) nor do I have an Action Replay or either of thegames. Just thought you should know.

The Bad Guy

Interesting rumor. In any case, it's likely that the copy protection will be "cracked," in one way or another, very soon. Sony's in a constant game of leapfrog with importers. They upped the stakes with their recent software protection -- now it's the bypassers' turn to strut their stuff.

To localize, or not to localize

do you know if the game star ocean 2 is coming out to the u.s.? if so, do theyhave a date for it. also, what is the mystery designs mystery title? thanksfor your time

It is very likely that Star Ocean 2 will come to the U.S. RPGs are a hot genre, Enix is a hot RPG company, and while they have no U.S. publishing arm, they've started licensing their titles to other publishers (989 Studio's Bust-a-Groove, for example). Nothing concrete has been announced, but it's fairly likely.

As for WD's mystery RPG? It's not Grandia, it's not the next Lunar game, it's not Ys. Victor Ireland has said as much. But what is it? Got me.

Imagine his reaction if it was confirmed

Hey Andrew, hows it goin.

I have a comment to make about the article on your site about FF9 maybe being a direct sequel to FF8.

Well I can sum it up easily: It would SUCK.

Actually, would be beyond sucking. Nothing could ever suckmore. It would be nothing more than the Square staff's half-assed attempt to get more money by putting out a ghetto title that everyone will buy because of it's name. The story said it might have been because of time restraints on butting both characters in one game. Well, what they should do in that situation would be to scrap Laguna's quest. That's right. Scrap it, all of it. Just add more to Squall's quest and create a fresh and interesting idea for FF9.

Think about. If this wentthrough, FF9 could be just the "leftovers" of FF8. The good stuff is all taken, and FF9 is just table scraps. Square could not make up a dumber idea if they tried to. It would be so bad, it would make Saga Frontier look like FF6 in comparison.

A good analogy would be like this: A human eats his dinner (FF8) There is some leftover that have fell out of his mouth and stuff. He pushes them into a food paste (FF9) and gives it to his dog. If Square did that, they would basically be telling the world : "We think you are so dumb, that you woun't even notice what a piece of shit this game really is."

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.


Strong sentiments, there, but ones shared to one degree or another by many RPG fans. Basically, Square hasn't said anything regarding Final Fantasy IX yet -- officially -- so there's no sense getting all vehement over mere speculation.

As for my personal feelings? Well, it would be different, to be sure. As long as Square doesn't cease innovating in future titles, a one-time sequel arrangement might actually be enjoyable. Maybe RPG series with strong continuity have done well and not suffered, so who's to say Final Fantasy would? But it's all speculation, so it's not worth losing sleep over. :)

68% of all readers will agree with this letter

The distaste of level building is well documented among the "hardcore" video game journalism industry. Go to any pro or fan site and 95% of the staffers will say they don't like level building. It's also true that most of these guys weren't even RPG fans until Chrono Trigger came out but that's another story...

However for that other 5%, and for the probably 10% of today's console RPG fans that made up console 75% of yesterday's RPG fans, I'd have to chime in a few things about level building.

Back then when we took the stories of RPGs just for granted and didn't try to demand bigger and better cut-scenes, there was basically two ways to enjoy the RPG (on top of enjoying it's story). You could either 1) aspire to getting the best party possible and finding all the secrets or 2) you could challenge yourself and go through the dungeons quickly. How this is actually worked is how replay value used to work in console RPGs. People would play through the game the first time around, to experience the story and challenge themselves, then later they'd come back and replay the game in an attempt to get everything. I've been through this routine with just about every RPG that I ever really liked (I've played through Final Fantasy 6 about 4 times, each time finding more secrets and the previous and that's why I like that game so much, because of all the secrets, and I'm playing Fire Emblem : Seisen no Kiefu for the 3rd time right now). And I know a game is really good when I actually try to find everything the first time around, but come out only getting very little (like in Final Fantasy Tactics, Square's best game since Final Fantasy V)

I don't know why today's console RPG fans do not like levelbuilding/exploring. Part of the enjoyment to me has always been in trying to achieve the best characters I could have and getting all the secrets that would boost their weak asses. And sure I'm not one to mock the importance of an RPG's story, but a story is a story, and all RPGs tell some story. What's there to judge/criticize? Cliches are hardly important when you're trying to immerse yourself in the main character's shoes.

Even with the best RPGs presenting the player a variety of ways to enjoy himself (such as what I said, having room for the hardcore level building and exploring or the hardcore challenge of breezing through) but that is a total gameplay issue. Either way, whether you choose level building or challenging yourself, you're enjoying true RPG gameplay. What Toma Levine was implying however, was that he didn't care about battles at all, and that he just wants an RPG story. Well why call it an RPG then? They have those kind of games, that have no battles and are nothing but a story, in Japan. They're called "Graphic Novels". And if you want some sort of battles just to make your story more anime-like, well there is always Xenogears' 2nd disc and the automated boss battles...

But we've been through this before. It's an uphill battle trying to convince people that RPGs are not just stories. And like I said, only 10% of today's console RPG fans were the 75% of yesterday that were real RPG fans that got mocked by their friends for playing "non games".

- Desmond Gaban

Well, Desmond, those are some interesting statistics you quote there. I don't think they have any basis in actual research, though, so let's just focus on your point: RPG players today are a bunch of pansies compared to us "hardcore" gamers of yesterday.

In my opinion, whining about the changes in RPG gameplay is like grumbling about how you used to walk through snow to school when you were a kid, and you liked it, and you didn't need these new fangled "cars." It's not constructive; the industry has changed, and gamers need to either accept that or stop playing.

Many console RPGs, for better or for worse, have become primarily a storytelling medium. And when I take the time to get to know a story -- whether it's a novel, a movie, an RPG, or the back of a cereal box, I expect quality writing. Accepting clicés just because "that's the way things are" only encourages mediocrity in storytelling.

As for "levelling up," my problem with it is that, all too often, it's an artificial gameplay challenge. Instead of improving artificial intelligence, adding new dungeons, or balancing the difficulty and learning curve, RPG designers often turn to "levelling up" to waste time. I'm a busy person, and my idea of fun is not wandering around in the desert for three hours, meeting Ogres and Creeps, casting FIR2, going to the Inn to refill magic, returning to the desert, etc. It's not fun. It's stupid. I could train a monkey to do it, and not even a smart monkey at that.

I'm all for having to battle throughout the game, and for extra rewards (such as the Weapons) for those who want to "max out" the party. But when you have to stop playing the game and spend time arbitrarily raising levels to beat the system, it's crap. You stop feeling lke you're playing a game and start feeling like you're studying for a Calculus test.

I'm sure folks disagree. I'll leave Allan to clean up this mess. ;)

Calamari of the Mist

It's just speculation as to whether FF9 will be a direct sequel to FF8 or not, but it seems that if FF9 is going to be the same story as FF8 but from a different perspective, won't we know more or less what is going to happen in FF9? Unless Square presented two completely different angles on the same story (e.g. hero's and villain's perspectives), it simply wouldn't work. Now that I've respectfully listened to your theory, respectfully listen to mine.

Have you ever noticed how Liquid Paper brand white-out is ubiquitous in our society? It's everywhere you go. It also has enormous influence on people: it is the only method of covering up mistakes in ink; it dries up before you even finish half a bottle, frustrating you and forcing you to buy more; it is also a cheap way of getting high. What sort of monster brought this vile correction fluid upon us? The answer is all too clear. Use your handy Liquid Paper to cover up the 'Li' the first 'P' and the 'r' on the bottle of Liquid Paper. In place of the 'Li,' put in an 'S.' The name of the monster now appears:


Half primate, half monstrous cephalopod, these diabolical creatures use tact and guile to infiltrate North American society. Soon, we will be entirely dependent on Liquid Paper. Then, the Squid Apes will attack swiftly, subjugating and enslaving us for eternity. So if you know what's good for you . . . don't use Liquid Paper.

Onto some questions. 1) Why do Japanese games have so much English text in them?
2) On Don Corneo's bed, there is a big Japanese symbol. It's sure to mean something obscene. Translation, anyone?
That's enough silliness for now. Time for bed.


I would imagine that Square would present the same story from two equally valid, interesting points of view. Which reminds me, if you haven't seen Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa, take two hours you would've spent levelling-up and go rent it today. You'll thank me.

Imagine, a giant ape that can spit ink at you ... my worst nightmare. As for the questions, 1) English text is "cool" in Japan. It doesn't matter what it says, it just has a certain mystique to it that teenagers pick up on. 2) Donno, can't remember the symbol off hand and have no save game on hand. Anyone more fluent in Japanese want to take a shot?

Closing comments

My Bomberman costume wasn't properly linked yesterday, take a look if you care. In other news, Allan finished up his tests tomorrow and will return to his regular column duties. Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoyed it!

- Andrew Vestal, saying "sayonara."

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