No, I didn't see the big game.

It was a fairly quiet day in the letters today. Some scattered corrections, still more on the dub vs. sub issue (a topic which is over as of today), and the usual barrage of inane comments, thank god. Some things never change, and I like it that way.

So, in the interests of stirring up some conversation, a question: how do you like your combat in RPGs? What game features your favourite combat system? Are you an action/RPGer, a strategy person, or someone who still has a soft spot for the first-person, turn-based Dragon Warrior engine? Why does your favourite appeal to you, and what features of it should all RPGs be forced at gunpoint to use? How do you like to mix it up and open that can of whoop-ass?

Pig crap

Dear Allan,

Well,I haven't wrote in to the column in a while, so i decided to make myself known again. Just answer these pointless questions and you can get back to more important letters.

1) What is your opinion on FFVIII? I want a real running from it..ANSWER IT AND ANSWER IT NOW!!

I think it hasn't been released yet. It looks very pretty, but the test will come once I have it in my hot little hands and am playing it, and not a moment before.

2) I probably don't wanna know..but why do you guys call Andrew V...."14 incher" I'm thinking itz not as obvious as it sounds. But if it iz...way to go Andrew!!

I leave the meaning of his nickname to your imagination.

3) WOO HOO! More Lunar talk, as you can tell..I love the game. Which iz a better game in your own opinion Allan: Silver Star or Eternal Blue?

I enjoyed Eternal Blue a lot more, despite the lack of Nash. There was a wonderfully non-traditional healer character (Ronfar), and Jean... oh, Jean. She just plain rocked, dammit. There were also the general array of improvements in terms of graphics and gameplay over SS, but even beyond that, I just plain liked the cast of EB better as a whole.

4) Why is it that Michal Flatly haunts you so? Is he your esstranged father, mayhaps? Or maybe a wicked half-brother? Only you shall know....but you can tell us..were all good friends here.

I am not related to Michael Flatley. If I was, I would slice off my own testicles and crush them beneath the wheels of a monster truck, to prevent any possibility of my continuing my cursed bloodline.

5) What is your opinion on pig crap?

I think that it is... you know, I can't even start to come up with an amusing answer to that. Next.

6) Not a question, but PCXL does kick the llama in the balls when it comes to news stories..there the best ( next to you guys of course )..also don't forget Babe-O-Rama *drool*


Kevin "I think I need shock treatment again" Strange


Show your contempt for Virtual GameStation

I have checked all the stuff about the connectix and sony me I want to show wupport to SONY in this case, Istarted a petition to show our support to sony......can you pleaseplease please put a link on your site to this page???????6 please!

Right here, ye bastards!


Well, er, okay. I'd like for Connectix to win this lawsuit, myself, but hey, if you want to support the other side, go knock yourself out.

Last words on Dub vs. Sub

Hail o' God of the Letters Column

Perhaps this letter's a bit too late for print, but I feel I should state my stance on the "Dubs vs. Subs" war. First, I must address the person who stated that "Japan was lightyears ahead of Americans in the voice acting department" (note, that I am paraphrasing that, considering that the link to the 29th's column is broken). But, what exactly is this person comparing that to? I seriously doubt that he or she is an authority on how well the Japanese do their own voice acting (unless, of course, that person speaks Japanese, and if that is the case, my deepest apologies for sounding like an ass).

I wholeheartilly (sic?) agree with you on the fact that dub's sell better than subtitled projects. You have to consider that we live in a country where illiteracy is abound everywhere and the internet is full of people who type like this:

"hey yo mi name iz k0rN-LuVeR69 i wil phrag u pripar 2 dye azzhloe"

One can't exactly expect the majority of people to like subtitles when you see something like that. In fact, it sort of makes me fear for mankind as a whole. Yes, they would rather be stuck with a dub that sounded like it was voiced by a retarted five year old with a speach impedement than the original voices from the Japanese release with English text at the bottom.

I suppose I've sounded like I've contradicted myself here altogether - one minute I'm sounding like I'm all for dubs, the next it seems I'm on the side of the subtitles. But really, this was all leading up to my point. The reason so many people prefer dubs to subs, is that they can't understand it. There could be thousands of fuck ups in the Japanese version, and but a few minor ones in the English one. But, a person who knows only English takes this for granted, and becomes somewhat of an unknowing-hypocrite.

A quick thought before I quit; of those who watch subtitled anime, and aren't very proficient, how many actually listen to the voices of the voice actors. Not just simply hear the voices, but actually sit down and interpret them. That's actually the only way one can compare subtitles to dubs, in my opinion. You can't just listen to a dubbed version, than watch a subbed version and declare:

"Ah, the driving force behind the dubbed version was not nearly as damned good as the subtitled one. The dubbed version was drab and dull, and had no emotion, while the subtitled version was full of life, charisma, blahblahblah."

Am I the only person in the world who thinks of it that way? Or does everyone else automatically dismiss a dub once they see the subtitled version? Or am I just a raving lunatic? I'd actually like to know.


Okay, last words on this subject from Sak. And me, of course. I, for one, don't think there's anything intrinsically superior about an original over a dub. I've heard crap voice acting in Japanese originals of anime and games, and I've heard crap in dubs. The difference is that voice acting is a somewhat respectable proposition in Japan, and is anything but in America, so the quality skews a lot higher in Japan - money attracts talent. But that doesn't keep the crap actors away consistently.

The final conclusion on the dub vs. sub issue? There is none. Some people prefer one, some people prefer the other, and some people just don't care. To each their own. Ah well.

Beating on God

Dear Double 0 Agent,

You guys at GIA are my last hope. Could someone PLEASE make sense out ofthe Final Fantasy Tactics ending for me!!! What the heck happened? St.Ajora was actually an evil Demon? Ramza was related to the traitordisciple that killed Ajora? Why the heck did Delita stab Ovelia just forviolently hugging him? Did she stab him? Was it "that time of themonth"? Why do they keep saying that everyone turns into Lucavi when henever even shows up?

Ok, question two. What is with Square's obsession with debasingreligion? Not that I'm religious in the least, but it just seems theytake pleasure in putting it down every chance they get. In Tactics thechurch is an evil, scheming organization whose priests and cardinals youkill freely during the game. The church's central figure (St. Ajora) isactually the most evil demon ever to exist (that's like saying Jesus isin fact the Prince of Darkness in disguise). And in every Square gamefor the last few years, you end up beating the bejeezes out of an angelfor the last boss (Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, and FF Tactics).What is with this?

Some of this is in dispute, but here goes. Lucavi is not a person or an entity - it's a general term for a race of demon beings, the Zodiac creatures that you kill throughout the game. St. Ajora was, essentially, one of the Lucavi, who was killed and banished eons ago, and when it/she was revived in modern day, you again put the smack down on it. And, at the end, the consensus seems to hold that Ovelia rushed at Delita, tried to stab him (and possibly wounded him). Delita then grabbed and reversed the knife, and killed her with it, leaving him feeling pretty lonely and not really feeling like all the work he'd put into getting where he was, really paid off in any way that made him happy.

There are more games that involve beating the snot out of angels and gods than I can count. Picking on Square is totally uncalled for. Konami's had crosses as throwing weapons to kill zombies for eons, and nobody asks if they've got a beef with the Vatican. Anyhow, the principle is simple: the basic set-up of an RPG is a growth of your character's power to overthrow the oppressive power of a superior force. What's more superior than a god? What's a better symbol of an underdog victory than a guy with a sword taking down an angel? It has oodles of mythic resonance, to boot. It's dramatically interesting, and makes for really snazzy enemy designs too. Really, given the proportions of Christians in Japan, where all these games are made, nobody would give a rat's ass about the church, much less feel a need to debase or pursue a vendetta against it. It's just nifty and effective imagery.

Jazzy old BoF3

Howdy Double Agent

Everyone I talk to about the Breath of Fire 3 soundtrack says they hated themore jazzy sound of it. I loved it. In fact, I am listening to it right now. Even a person you used to work with gave the music a 3.5! This implies thereis something terribly wrong with the music(i.e. it is *bad* jazzy music). Mytheory is this: he judged it by the type and not the quality (i.e. "This isnot the music I normally hear in RPG, so it is poor"). That's like a personwho only plays fighting games reviewing an RPG -- he/she would give it a 3.5. I hope that was not the case in the aforementioned review. In a previouscolumn you stated that you like jazz music. Did you like theuntraditional(within RPGs) soundtrack of BoF3?


Eh... it didn't do a whole lot for me, to be honest. I do like jazz, and I'd love to see a game (of any type) set to jazz, but BoF3 was too stilted and artificial to speak to me like real jazz does. It's not the worst music I've ever heard, and it's certainly different, but it lacks real life to it. Jazz is improvisational and lively and smooth, and you just can't replicate that through a sound chip.

Learn to program at home

Howdy, agent.

About having an NES or some other old game console for students tolearn programming on...

I think it would be a good idea. A small class could easily program ahigh-quality NES game (by the day's standards, anyway) within a fewmonths. That was long before games required millions of dollars inequipment to create. And thanks to emulation, a computer scienceclass wouldn't need an actual NES or any other special hardware to doit. I'm sure Nintendo no longer cares about their old 8-bit systemand would be willing to let schools use it for education purposes. They might even be willing to share the source code for some NES games.

An actual university (though I could never remember which one)requires its computer science students to write Playstation code tograduate. Many of these students become programmers for Sony.

Game developers might benefit from this if they can arouse moreinterest for game programming. What do you think?

I think this is an interesting and potentially viable idea, except for the fact that Nintendo has proven itself resistant to the idea of lending out its technology for free. If it cracked down as hard as it did on Tengen, and now on emulation, why would they grow a humanitarian side all of a sudden? Education doesn't net them any profit, so why support it?

FF8 is what?

I'm a big fan of importing, every few days I scan my local online stores andsee if anything new has popped up. However, I'll admit, I've been lookingfor something lately, something I expected to be available everywhere: FinalFantasy 8. After writing letters and talking with most of the stores thegeneral feeling is: "We'll tell you when we have a better idea ourselves." Iwas more than puzzled, something of FF8's size and reputation should bepre-ordered up the wazoo! Instead, nobody has any idea what's going on! Isthere something up that I don't no about, a shortage or something? Help!


Well, Japanese preorders for FF8 are past the million mark, and some online vendors have accepted preorders for it. To be quite honest, I haven't seen any indication that demand or knowledge about FF8's imminent release are sketchy. Anyone else have this problem? Both of the places I've dealt with (NCS and Tronix) seemed to be on top of things.

FF6 errors and luck

Well, I do like funnel cake! It's tasty, especially with strawberries on top.

Anyway, I have something serious to say now. Ever noticed, in FFIII (or FFVIin Japan) that when you have Setzer in your party, he always gets a winningslot when you're going to win the battle? I attack with Terra, then I useSetzer's Slot. Setzer actually gets a winning slot (such as Chocobop or H-Bomb) and then Terra's attack kills the last enemy. I never get goodcombinations, and I've only seen Chocobop once in my lifetime. (Not thatSetzer's any good anyway, but I just noticed that...)M.o

Another thing - there's a glitch in the game where, if you use Relm's "Paint"ability in a dark cave (such as Hidon's Cave), things will mess up. I ended upwith 32 Marvel Shoes, 82 Illuminas, and whatever magic was cast at me healedme. My friend got 99 Economizers. Has this happened to anyone else?

That's all for now. Aren't you glad that this letter made sense?

-The Irresponsible Captain Cham, who can't wait for Lunar: SSS to come out

Setzer seems to be a hit or miss sort of character, varying player by player. I can get Chocobop every time I use Slot, but can get virtually nothing else. On the other hand, a friend of mine only gets Lagomorph. Still another gets the instant death ones. It's all about rhythm and luck, really. No big secret.

And yes, the Relm sketch bug is well documented. It messes up quite a bit, really. Try using Sketch on an Intangir for another potentially useful glitch.

Closing comments

I'm waiting for your comments on getting ready to rumble, people. Remember: Mills Lane would want you to tell me about this. Don't let him down.

And with that, I disappear until next month. Ciao!

- The Double Agent

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