Retrograding MAILBAG 08.07.03

Alright. Lots of stuff to go over. Some neat letters and some examples of conversations as people seemed to really enjoy those.

GREAT Feedback on the Music soundtrack column BTW. Glad you guys really enjoyed it.

Hello,

You wanted to hear from readers in the twin cities? Here’s one from a
Minneapolis resident. Which day does your interview for the Star Tribune
come out? I’ll have to check it out. You and the rest of the 411 games
staff are currently one of the most well-written, and widely opinionated
writers on the video game industry out there(and I can kiss ass with the
best of them). I’m sorry to hear about your break-up with your fiance.
Girlfriends/Fiances/Wives who are understanding in regards to video
gaming(or role playing for that matter). Anyways, that’s for the great
columns, even when I do not entirely agree with your opinion, it’s always a
good read :) and since you live in the Twin Cities area you probably are
aware of this, but if you’re looking for good prices on games check out CD
Warehouse for console games(Uptown or Dinkytown locations)-great prices for
some of the newer games….and for GBA games you can find some ok prices on
used GBA carts at Electronics Boutique. You may already know, just thought
I’d give you a heads up just in case. Dat’s what this Minnesota nice is all
aboot, eh?

Matt Yaeger

Yeah! Twin Cities readers rock! It’s nice to know people in the area read my work. Matt seems like a pretty kick ass guy through emails. And I kept swearing I knew him somehow, until I just realized his name reminded me of CHUCK Yaeger. D’oh!

A snippet from a Chuck Platt letter just because it’s…interesting.

Tactics Ogre was, on one hand, very good. On the
other, my all skeleton and birdmen army was going to be woefully
underpowered. Color me disappointed. I’ll have to start again, but it’s hard
to when I have Persona 2! (Dun Dun Duuuuun) I played the first Persona a
little but the butchering of the mythological names made it rough going. And
I discovered girls. (If you want to read a real tale of gothic horror, wait
until I write about my two years of listening to the Cure, wearing cardigan
sweaters and courdaroy pants, living in a college library, and reading every
book on philosophy in the place. I was born to be the smart but weak willed
Lovecraftian victim. Or a human sacrifice to the Aztecs, 500 years late.)
I’ll admit it, I would have NEVER picked up Persona 2 if you hadn’t
mentioned it so much I think that you must be an Atlus mind slave, given
your orders by Jack Frost as you “sleep” and told to gush over how great
Ogre Battle and Persona are. You must not be a shooter obsessed mind slave,
though, because you haven’t recomended Prikura Daisekusen. (On a side not,
I’ll marry one of those Prikura girls if it kils me and it probably will.)
Anyhoo, Persona 2 is so good that I… well I can’t say anything bad about
it. Do you have any idea how confusing it is for me to not be able to fault
a game? THAT’s what really scares me about Persona 2.

I think Chuck was on speed that day. But see people, ALL must own Persona 2. And Lee’s about to buy both of them. So Lee gets a gold star to stick on his fridge. Hopefully he’ll now be addicted to that instead of Single Malt Scotch.


Something you might be interested in…

Scary Ebay Auction

Someone _really_ wants that strategy guide bad, eh?

Brian J. Blottie

Thank god no one bought it, right?

And of course, every single game on your top ten is something that I’ve never heard of, save for Castlevania.

Okay, a slightly more pedestrian top ten, but here goes:

#10: Smackdown: SYM. The only thing they were missing was Maven’s music (for some bizarre reason), lots of not-lame original music for your created characters, and a Cole-less commentary engine.

#9. Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick. Ash. Need I say more?

#8. NCAA Football 2004. They’ve finally taken the full step of including each teams official school fight song and de facto school fight song. Example: Playing K-State, you will hear both Wildcat Victory and Wabash Cannonball, and you have no idea how happy this makes me.

#7. NBA Street Vol 2. The music was good, but Bobito Garcia’s voice work was what really stood out for me.

#6. NHL 2002: They went to a goofier 2-person color commentary that I thought was incredibly fun to listen to.

#5. SSX: Tricky. Some far-too-famous-for-their-own-good voice talent, and some downright catchy music.

#4. NBA Live 2000: ANY game soundtrack that includes George Clinton is going to make this list with me.

#3. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It really captured the feel well. Night time scenes were legitimately creepy, even when you know this is *just* Hyrule.

#2. Super Mario Bros 2. No, I’m not kidding. Remixes of the original music, some really cool new music (desert stages), and an end credits lullaby song that was possibly the best written original video game music ever, certainly the best ever on 8-bit.

#1. Sega Sports College Basketball 2K3: Why? School fight songs, good commentary, and ACTUAL ESPN screens and music. It may be a cheap #1, but it’s my #1.

Cory Laflin

In include Cory’s top ten for one big reason. He’s a staff member and he’s never heard of POKEMON! Kidding. It’s because even staff members find my choice of games obscure and bizarre. I never actually think I’m that obscure or hardcore with my tastes. But things like this and a few other letters about Where do you find these games?’ do make me wonder how people do find games and what prompts them to buy things. Cory is obviously a sports gamer. And the staff keeps changing what they think I am. Lee thinks I’m a fellow RPG freak. Chuck thinks I’m a Shooting addict. Bebito thinks I’ll play any game that has evil monsters that defy verbal description. And I think I just scare Bryan. Liquidcross thinks I’m not hardcore enough though. ;-)

Hi,

I found this site

http://www.sweet-umi.net/persona/media/music/

It has 3 different velvet room tunes for download. Is one of these the tune you’re talking about? I’m listening to them now and they’re nice, but none of them are 6 minutes long like you said. Are any of these the right tracks?

Thanks

Jaime

My email response:

Holy shit are these short!

http://www.sweet-umi.net/persona/media/music/p1velvet01.zip

Is the operetta aria bit from the very first Revelations: Persona game. But
it’s just the aria which a much more subdued piano bit.

http://www.sweet-umi.net/persona/media/music/p2isvelvet.zip

Is from Innocent Sin. And my least favorite of the three. it’s slower and
softer. And the aria’s a bit cracked.

http://www.sweet-umi.net/persona/media/music/p2epvelvet.zip

Is from the right game but it’s nowhere actually on the video game. Weird and
new version of the song.

Hmm. And what’s weird is only the first one is on ANY Persona soundtrack I
own.

Tell you what, I’ll see if 411 will host a list of songs from video games I
love, including the Velvet room song I love so much. If so I’ll let you know.

Actually, I’ve asked any reader who wrote in on the subject whether they think that would be a nifty idea. And all have been overwhelmingly positive about the idea. Also bantered it with Bebito. But I haven’t talked to the bosses yet. Still I think us hosting one VG song a week for fans to download would be a killer idea. And if it takes off, maybe even do more. Of course, the Velvet Room Aria MUST be the first!

Speaking of the above topic, here’s Alex in that same topic and also turning around an angry reader into a happy one. So see people, it’s okay to write me upset emails! Because I don’t get upset back.

Hold up a second.
top 10 video game soundtracks not including Wipeout XL or any Dance
Dance Revolution/Beatmania? Are you out of your mind?
Chad Smith

MY response:

I was only going for original music. Not actual released songs by ‘famous’ artists. That would have been too easy and also prevented the point of what the column was about: to get people to go out and listen to stuff they haven’t heard 100 times before.

Retrograding is about loving the obscure. Not saying “Fuck the mainstream.” It’s about broadening Horizons for our demographic and not taking the easy way out.

As Alex Williams and maybe some other staff members know, I love Bemani games. I go to arcades just to play them. And I enjoy the soundtracks on them. I even import some of the Euro DDR games because they have more of them and different tunes. Kylie Minogue is not well known in the US, yet she’s a goddess in the UK, Europe, and Australia. I briefly considered one of those. But then dismissed it as it would be like considering Metroid Prime as a reason to buy a Gamecube. Too easy and too well known. And it wouldn’t make anyone think outside the box. It would merely stagnate our readership.

Hope that helps man. :-)

-Alex

Christ. After re-reading that, I DO sound hardcore!

Ok, I see your point. However, I have another game that should have
made your list and didn’t.

Suikoden, the first one. Absolutely amazing soundtrack. The first time
I heard it’s orchestra blasting from my stereo I was simply blown away.
It’s almost the perfect RPG music. Absolutely amazing.

I love Suikoden’s music. I own the soundtrack to the second one as well. Saw it for 5$ at a pawn shop and I did the classic double take from three stooges episodes. Both are great. I was a little disappointed in s3’s music by comparison though.

In reality, it all comes down to personal opinions. I tend to like J-pop over classical or very different orchestral music like what is found in my beloved Persona series. That’s what makes opinion columns so controversial. People assume you’re saying ‘This is IT. No exceptions.’ when really you’re saying, ‘I like this. I want you to as well.’ It’s also why I asked readers to give me selections like you have.

And here’s a thought that I’ve kicking around due to a lot of feedback on my column. Haven’t asked the bosses yet though. No other site does this either. What would you think about a VG site that lets you download tracks from various video games. Maybe a different track every day? Something from Zelda one day, Guardian Heroes the next. No rhyme or reason, but merely an attempt to get people to listen to new things?

That’d be kickass!! I’d even help contribute some songs if ya needed :)

So see? It’s a popular idea. No idea on the legal ramifications though…

Dear Alex

I’m so glad that Video Game Soundtracks are getting respect out there,
alongside movie soundtracks. One day, major CD outlets like Virgin, A & B
Sound, and HMV will have a section in their store devoted to that genre. I
can only hope.
There is one soundtrack that I highly recommend if you’re into horror
games. And this soundtrack pulls no punches when it comes to scaring you
out of your wits. It’s the original soundtrack to Silent Hill. The
majority of the music on there is ambient, industrial type noise while I
think about three or four are instrumental. Still, it’s an awesome
soundtrack (I own it and still listen to it repeatedly because it actually
RELAXES me. I guess ambient music does that to me).
You should give it a whirl if you haven’t yet. If you have, what did
you think of it?
I also recommend the original soundtrack to Silent Hill 2, though it’s
not as ambient and there are less industrial type tracks. Still, there are
tracks that will scare you but also (like your Legend Of Mana favorite)
relax/deppress you.
Keep up the good work.

Samuel

It’s a good soundtrack (SH1) as well. Especially the opening theme. I really enjoy it.

While i havent heard most of the game soundtracks you talk about(I KNOW I KNOW!! YOU SENT ME A LIST OF GOOD GAMES!! I DONT HAVENT FOUND THEM YET! ;) ) I do agree that one of my fav’s is the lunar soundtrack. I am a big fan of the music from the Wild arms series, but the first one had the best of all of them. As far as Mana goes, i never ,eeever liked the games. I thought the gameplay really sucked ass. I remember getting stuck somewhere and not being able to find a way out, same goes for chrono cross so i guess we agree on that particular one. But my fav soundtrack and games for that matter, are the Legaia games. I have yet to find the soundtracks (i go to a dnd con every year where they have a great selection just not the ones i want, thats where i got Record of the Lodoss War OVA) so i still look.

As for pc game soundtrack, i love the soundtrack to Freelancer , Diablo and The warcraft series. I cant really order them because i dont have any idea which ones i like best, i just know i like them all.

And i happen to like the FF songs so there.

john, derry nh

What can I possibly say to this letter?

Alex – Please post something in a column about Emailing playmore to get SNK
Vs Capcom Chaos on Dreamcast (as posted on liek sang, dcemulation, and crap
lods of other sites) Because we all know the dreamcast version will rule and
do the game justice for all of us who can’t afford the AES neo geo cart.

Do this, or i will tell you more drunken stories about my fat goth ex.

Mike V

Okay Bub. Last time I printed a letter by you, I had to deal with insane ranting in my livejournal from someone who though the letter was written by me and was about them! So I’m taking a big chance here!

And all I can say is. HA! HA HA HA! I OWN A Neo Geo! Now who is the crazy nut? It is I that shall play this game. Not you. ME! Not you! MEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Oh hell people, write in and beg for one final Dreamcast game. It can’t hurt!

And now for the big email of the week. Well, conversation of the week.

Hi,

I found this article a while ago:

http://www.ntsc-uk.com/feature.php?fea=BetterThanYou

It’s talking about a few things that interested me. I’m just writing to ask you what do you think about elitists?

I know people like the character described in the articles example and when I first met them (online) they pissed me off a treat. I think me and one particular guy argued for about a year non-stop about his opinion on the Smackdown series. What he had to say about the game didn’t bother me – if one doesn’t like a game then so be it. What annoyed me was he made it sound like he was right to dislike the game and I was wrong to like it, or even show any faith in it getting better.

Well here I am about 3 years on and I’ve learnt to ignore the annoying side of his elitism and he’s a very good friend now. I got used to the way he is and looking back at his old posts I can see why he was a little confused at me for being so angry. He wasn’t trying to be offensive – he just wanted to make it plain what he thought about something as quickly as possible.

But, once again, I digress.

Do you think ‘Elitism’ is acceptable behaviour from online gamers?
Do you see yourself as an elitist?
Why is ‘Radiant Silvergun’ percieved as so much better than ‘Ikaruga’? Jus wot teh fuk is rong wiv smakdwon 5 u lam0r wiv no skilz???//1 Ok I’ve gone to far. ;)

Thanks

Let it be known that any letters that contain L33T speak in a non making fun of it way will NEVER get printed by me.

My response…

You know. I don’t believe in elitism. I believe that some people take there
hobby too far. They obssess. They go beyond geeky into just plain loserdom.

I know I dance the line of video game fan and fanatic in appearance, but in
truth I’m not that hardcore. I know Japanese because I wanted to learn another language other than French and my Uncle was stationed over there and in Korea. I didn’t learn it to watch ‘pure’
anime or to play video games. I learned it because I enjoy the culture and the beauty of the language. It was only after learning the language that I became interested in import gaming.

But because of that people assume I automatically prefer all things Japanese
and am thus an elitist. No, I’m just using my abilities.

I think it’s just most video gamers with the tag of Hardcore’ or Elitist’ are total losers that have no other skills or talents so they hone and hone and hone this one aspect of their personality and they never focus on anything else. They become scary and judgmental. They become egotistical pricks because they can get on the internet high score list for Ikaruga. They form geeky groups in their school cafeterias or in their parent’s basements that mock others for their tastes and beliefs, just as they were mocked for being acne ridden virgins in High School.

Personally, I hate Smackdown. But that’s because I’ve played Touken Retsuden and I know how THQ has ruined the game. TR4 for the DC is so much better than the Smackdown games it’s frightening. And it had online play. However if I had never played the TR series, I would enjoy Smackdown, I’m quite sure. But I know what others are missing and how THQ is willing to cut out the best features of the game just to have a new Wrasslin game every year instead of perfecting it like the Japanese version is.

But everyone is entitled to their opinions. You’ll notice no matter how much I bash Final Fantasy and Square and beg you all to play something else, I always tell you it’s okay. Hell, my Ex LOVED FF. And that’s most certainly NOT the reason I not with her anymore. :-)

Elitist gamers are just losers like those that appear in every subculture. Goths that can’t stop talking about Anne Rice and Neil gaiman and that actually get pissed if someone calls a Darkwave band “Goth.” Wrestling fans who automatically worship Benoit and condemn HHH because they think they know what happens behind the scenes. Online nuts that use Leek all the time. They’re everywhere. In every group of people. And I hate them all. Because they take everything too damn serious.

I will never consider myself an elitist. I do more than play video games. I work out. I practice 3 martial arts. I’m a published author. I’ve just been hired by a major publishing company as of 08/04.I DATE. I read and enjoy life and do more than cultivate a 2d personality. Video games are something I am passionate about and enjoy. But they will never be my life and never something you see me spending all my free time discussing on an Internet chat board. Trust me, when the Kliq talks in emails, maybe half the time it’s about games. The other half is mocking my Tenchi Muyo! Esque personal life.

And Guardian Heroes blows RS out of the water. And I don’t see how anyone can compare Ikaruga with RS. Ikaruga with Silhouette Mirage yes, but not RS. That’s like comparing Ikaruga with Bangai-O. They’re just two Treasure Shooters with some major differences.

Hi,

I agree with quite a lot of what you say about these elitists. Yes theres definately a faction of them which are the geeks who are milking their anomynity and better than average english skills so that somebody, somewhere will respect them, in the absence of any respect from the cute girl at school who made them cry.

Still; You answered my questions so I won’t debate about it. thanks :)

Now then – Important stuff: The Wrestling Games.

I’ve got all of the SD series and love them, but I’m willing to branch out. I’ve tried Fire Pro G and after all the other games I’ve played it is still my favorite wrestler. On the harder difficulty levels I’ve found myself playing the face in peril to some computer guy and then scraping a victory back a piece at a time.

THATS what I liked about it the most.

Sure, I could pound them with lockups and grapples untill they tapped but I find it is a lot more fun to simulate a real match eg; Not using the same Big move twice in a match, letting the computer get some offense if i’ve been attacking a lot. More often than not I found myself creating a more entertaining match than the RAW writing staff have in a long time.

But… *sigh* I inexcusably digress…

This talk of Touken Retsuden interests me. Have you or any other members of the site reviewed the series before? I tried searching 411 for it but the page came up empty.

Ah yes one more thing.

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view.php?id=84042

This is a flash game called Tactics Core. I dunno if you’ve seen it, but between it and your articles on Shining Force I was inspired enough to start hunting down some of the older games.

midget_diddler@yahoo.co.uk

Well, there is a really, REALLY shitty review of Touken Retsuden done by Jeremy, where he got a lot of stuff wrong and completely missed the fact TR4 had ONLINE PLAY. And Bebito and I try to pretend the article doesn’t exist even though it has the most hits out of anything 411games has on it. If you can’t find it, that’s a VERY good thing.

I’ve toyed with doing a REAL review of the TR series, but have decided against it. See, All at 411games enjoy wrestling. And we accept as we started as a branch of a Wrasslin’ site’ that a huge portion of our readers are well, wanting wrestling game content. But the truth is, most of us cover it only because we feel we have to. Not because we want to. We’re trying to carve out our own niche here. To be independent.

See, gamers in general are pretty biased, prejudiced people. And that includes me. We’ve spent nearly a year trying to make 411games stand out as a serious hardcore unbiased video game site. And we’ve developed an excellent reputation. In fact, let me show you a letter by our newest team member as to why he joined.

Well, f*ck me for sleeping. I miss out on the conversation of the week and
for what? Sleep. Weak, man. WEAK. Anyways, there’s a reason I’ve been
harrassing Alex for the better part of a year and Bebito and Cory in the
last few months. I’ve been worming my way in because EVERY OTHER GAME SITE
ON THE INTERNET SUCKS! Seriously. AtariLabs updates once every six months,
if that, the for pay sites are too dry, and GameFAQs has horribly catty
message boards. Hell, I know LiquidCross from the SectorNG:P boards, but I
NEVER post anymore because everyone is soooo godamn pissy. This is the only
site I can go to, even now that I write for it, and count on the news of the
week and commentary that isn’t a waste of my time. I read EVERY article in
our section, even reviews for systems I don’t own. I also scan the other
sections of our own site, and I have to tell you, there are three things
that make you guys, and me by association, kickass.
1. Informed Opinions. Unlike wrestling, we deal largely with facts and not
innuendo, so it’s possible for each and every column to back up it’s
theories and prejudices with facts. I have figured out almost everyone’s
leanings, so it means alot if Alex says that beatem-up game rocks because I
know he’s Mister Beatem-up or Bebito says a SEGA game is under par because
he is Mr. SEGA. I know that if you guys have a dispute with a company, like
my HATE for Sony, it will be made clear instead of being spread out into
snippy littl bitch comments. Basically, I know that if I read an opinion on
here, it has been thought about and likely has some evidence to back it up.
2. Total Coverage. As far as the American gaming scene goes, we have it
covered. If I hear a rumor on a message board, I know one of you will
clarify it in your column and have links to the original content, if
possible. It is rare for an important title to come out without a review or
a mini review in a column. That’s pretty rare, really. Go look at the music
and movie sides of the site and you’ll notice that the review database is
thin. Not a slight on those guys, but we do it better. I have to say that 8
out of my last ten new CD purchases WEREN’T reviewed by the music section.
That’s not a good sign.
3. Humor. DAMN you guys are funny. Seriously, the fact is that most every
game site, and most gamers, take themselves way to freaking serious. This
crew is all about having fun.

Chuck Platt

And that’s exactly what we want to hear. We know wrestling fans want wrestling coverage. We know we started out as a subsect of 411WRESTLING.com. But there is a reason Widro and Ashish turned us into 411MANIA.com. Because we’re more than wrestling. We’re distinct from the wrestling section. We’re 411games. And we do get royally pissed when a bunch of people say “Hey. That article Alex/Bebito/Lee/Bryan/Cory/etc did was pretty good…FOR A WRESTLING SITE.”

By appealing solely to our roots as a wrestling site, 411games will never grow. We will never reach new people and other gamers than the core audience we have. We don’t want to stagnate. We want to be the best. Look at the first letter in this column. People like 411 games as one of the best gaming sites on the net. And you know what? We’re proud of that, but it’s not good enough for us. We’re not happy until we are THE best. And in order to do that, we all have to shy away from just wrestling coverage and push that into the background as just another set of games. I know the staff and I have talked via email about this, but I’ll let them speak for themselves on this particular subject. I just know I’d rather see coverage of everything BUT wrestling for a while. At least until we can prove to the naysayers out there that we’re distinct and separate from our sister section. And even better ;-)

So that’s my rant. Yes, there will be crossover between the sections. Of course. But 411games as a staff and a site will not be as great as it can be until we start treating every category of game equally. And more important, it’s something our readers have do as well. Even if that means aiming for a different demographic that we currently have.

And I’m out. I’m sure I’ll get some sort of feedback on this mailbag. Especially on these last two topics. And I’m even more sure the staff will comment as well…

Why do I feel like I should change my name to 3 letters and start praising King Of Fighters about now?