Retrograding MAILBAG 09.13.03

Right. It’s an extra special Retrograding Mailbag as we’ll see towards the end of it, so if you want to get to the meat of this week, you?re gonna have to scroll down. Otherwise it’s the best of the emails I’ve gotten over the past fortnight.

Hey Alex,
I just read your Retrograding Mailbag, and was surprised to see me in it! :)
That sucks about Arkham Horror. I was really looking forward to that.
Unfortunately, eBay tends to draw outrageous prices for the original AH. Sigh,
maybe someday I’ll get it. Have to search the thrift shops and garage sales I
guess. Apparently Chaosium is selling the box to Arkham Horror with nothing in
it! Weird.
http://www.chaosium.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=239

I’m actually bidding on a couple of booster boxes on eBay right now, and I
should be getting a huge lot of cards from a guy on the BoardGameGeek
(http://www.boardgamegeek.com). Also, I found a site selling dreamlands boxes
dirt cheap (http://www.gatheringground.com). Booster boxes $9.99, Starter boxes
$4.99, and a combo box that contains some starters and some boosters from
limited and dreamlands plus a couple of the standard set starters $4.99! Great
prices, I ordered a box of Dreamlands starters.

I’d love to get the link to the Mythos online stuff. There’s another site, too,
called the CCG Workshop (http://www.ccgworkshop.com) where you can play Mythos
online. I haven’t been able to give it a shot yet, but apparently it’s pretty
slick. Many people have played. They have many other games besides Mythos, too.
Good stuff.

Anyway, thanks for the (bad) news on Arkham Horror, and the Mythos stuff. I
better get back to work!

Talk to you later,
Aaron

Normally I don’t put two emails by the same guy in a row, but decided since there are all sorts of great links in here for the budding Mythos and Cthulhu fan, that it had to go in. As well, Aaron missed that I put the link to the Arkham Horror box in my last mailbag. ;-)

I saw this first when looking for your column where you originally did this(and I originally heard this collection existed). Thanks again for it, I needed it because I experienced the saving bug in PS1 and remembered you talked about it. Just wanted to thank you, you rock.
KamikazeTed

This was in regards to Chris moving my Phantasy Star Collection review out of Retrograding ADVANCE and into the GBA review section. Let me know if this makes it easier for you, as we have a ton of other GBA reviews hidden in old Retrograding columns such as Eye of the Beholder and Lunar Legends. And of course?POKEMON RUBY!

Well my reason for writing this letter is simply this: Is it possible that
you could write up more or rally up support for SMT3. I’ve heard from the
Atlus staff they would be willing to localize the game if they received
enough feedback. So what do you say?

Ismael H

Insert smirk here. You’d be surprised how many people have asked me to do this. And I have. I have contacts both in Atlus of Japan and Atlus US. If you really want to SMT3 to come to America, your best bet is to buy up lots of copies of Demikids for the GBA when they come out in a few weeks. There’s a huge discussion board about SMT over at the official Atlus webpage. Join in there. Make your comments heard! You can start all the petitions and message boards you want, but what are the chances of Atlus USA actually noticing them. Nope, your best bet is to go to Atlus directly and bitch and moan and whine until it comes out. And then you had best buy two copies of the game each. If SMT3 goes the way you bastards out there treated Ikaruga then I am so killing you all.

Will SNK ever bring back KING OF THE MONSTERS and KARNOVS REVENGE?
GiantDevilfish

No idea. You’d have to ask SNK that yourself. However, as I managed to get Lee to report, Games SNK are working on right now are a KoF for Sammy’s system, KoF2k3, SVC Chaos, and Metal Slug 5. And of course SAMURAI SHOWDOWN 0! WHOOO!. Look at these games! How can people not love SNK? Or own a plethora of their games? WORSHIP SNK! WORSHIP THEM YOU BASTARDS!

Man I’m calling everyone bastards today. Sorry about that.

BTW, three big plugs to snk-capcom.com, neo-geo.com, and penny-arcade.com for creating threads in their forums about how much they enjoy Retrograding. Means a lot to me to know that a lot of people love this column. I’m not going to be egotistical enough to plug the threads I’m mentioned in there, but I will gladly plug the sites.

And speaking of SNK fans?
Hey, man good to know somebody actually cares about the fans, snk actually releasing their darkhorse hit on the dreamcast would be cool. I get the feeling I would have to import it though, but no bones about it I’ll get the game eventually..SVC chaos is just a great game to play it does remind me of the countless days I spent at the arcades on SF2 championship edition and Samurai showdown, the inclusion of earthquake was really good on there behalf, I think that the dreamcast hands down is the best fighting game system I have although SF3 didn’t translate well to home, Capcom’s SFA3 on the dreamcast is very beautifully done. I can’t wait for svc on the consoles..plus what’s your problem with SVC2 on the ps2? I thought it was the same game on the dreamcast
Mark

See? EVERYONE wants a new Dreamcast game. Especially a great 2D fighter like SVC Chaos. God I love that game so much. And I agree the DC is the best system EVER for fighting games. SVC2 for the PS2? I think he meant MVC2. My problem is I just find there to be a more slowdown in the Ps2 version, as well as the music isn’t as crisp. Yeah, they are niggling tiny little problems that I can overlook. But as I have the DC version, I don’t see the point in getting the PS2 version. That simple.

Following your write-ups on the Shining series of games, I decided to dig the old Saturn out of the attic, dust it off, and play through Shining Force 3 all over again.

But first, I’m going to finish Shining the Holy Ark again. There are some references in SF3 to that game, it’s always felt like the ‘prologue’ to SF3 to me. I’m already about to head off to Galm’s mansion in the Aborigine Forest. It’s fun trying to remember how to solve the puzzles and fight the monsters, and I’d forgotten how insanely cheerful the blacksmith’s music is too, lol. I’d also forgotten just how much I liked Doyle, too. When Frank the Werewolve popped up in SF3 Scenario 1, I used him a lot in tribute to the original wolfman ;)

DamonD

Glad to see how many people loved my 5 part Shining Force History. We?re actually going to be putting it back up into one giant sized feature in the near future, again so you don’t have to go sifting through all the old Retrogradings. However, I DO advise that you do so anyways. They?re all great and informative pieces of writing that are timeless and thought provoking. Man. I couldn’t even TYPE that with a straight face. But serious, browse through the old columns, everything from Cthulhu in Video Gaming to a candid camera look at the customer servuice companies give to gamers

“Sigh. America scares me. Some people have addictive personalities. If it’s
not a video game, they’ll get into something else. If a person is nuts and
you deny them one outlet for their insanity it will appear in another way,
like becoming Otherkin, or a furrie, or eating pillows in your local Macy’s”

Uh huh. Y’know, I agree with everything there except one thing (And just
think I LIVE in the US!!). As someone who used to be a reviewer for 411
Games (I got canned because I didn’t also do Columns) I found it interesting
that you included Furries in that batch. You might wanna check and see what
they actually are, other then the BS that MTV: Real Sex keeps showing on the
TV.

I probably won’t change your mind, and as an artist with 13 years of
experiance, and some 8 years of it being printed in some very VERY small
press stuff (I’m not good enough yet IMHO to make any of the larger press
works) you may or may not find my sight the least bit interesting. I will
say the Furries got a pretty bad rap from the press… The sins of a few
liberal idiots who want everyone to believe it’s all about dressing up in
animal suits and screwing each other’s brains out have colored the main
perception of the fandom, which actually started off as a small offshoot
from the main comic’s fandom.

Just like every other fandom, We’ve got our freaks. Just as of yet, they are
the most heavily publicized (sp?) aspect of the fandom….

– Polecat

www.kaisha.cx/~polecat

Okay. Where to start here? I’m know I’m a goth. And that’s a bit freaky to the average person, but I also don’t broadcast that fact and I certainly don’t go around in vinyl pants or a trenchcoat when I’ve talking to the Director of a Sprint call center or one of the VP’s of Southwest Airlines.

But most of all, I certainly don’t have a sexual obsession with vampires or think that I am one. That’s where I draw the line. People who think they are vampires or elves, or hobbits or goblins., That’s creepy. People who want to be were-animals or look like a wereanimal or have sex dressed up like animals or draw animal people porn. That’s f*cked up to me and reeks of beastiality. And to that I say ick. Ick yuck and get me one of those little white airsick bags.

What’s really weird is that Polecat accuses liberals of being freaked out by Furries. It’s conservative to be creeped out by change or things that are different. That’s not a “Go Democrats” comment, that’s me nitpicking improper use of a word. And although I’m considered pretty liberal by the rest of the 411staff, there are things I draw the line at. And Furrie sex is a big one.

That being said, I do have friends that are furries. Goldrose and Rabbitinthemoon from Livejournal are two of them. And does there being a furrie make me like them less? No. Unless they started drawing pictures of oh say?rabbit women masturbating with handfuls of cum dripping from their fingers. That might freak me out a bit. And I did enjoy Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew as a child. But yeah, I have a big creep out towards furries. Even Felicia from Darkstalkers.

Now for my two favorite letters in regards to my column about gaming and classical Literature. I’llpost one from a guy who didn’t get it, especially the 1984 reference. And one from a guy who did. I got a ton of hits and emails about this column and I know guys like Fred and Lee loved it. So glad to know James MOTHERFUCKING Joyce is a hit with gamers.

Go stick an XBox up your ass
Luis Rodrigues

LOL. I wonder how many people were annoyed by the XBOX XBOX XBOX XBOX XBOX XBOX XBOX thing.

Hey man,
I just have to say your column about converting classic literature into
videogames was pure comedic gold. I haven’t laughed that hard in a LONG
time. The descriptions of The Trial and Faulkner had me ROFLMAO especially.
Crime and Punishment too for that matter, FUCK, it was all f*cking genius.
Keep up the awesome

Jon T.

Faulkner and Kafka rock. And I’m glad so many people really enjoyed that column. Makes me one happy nutjob.

First and fore most. Great column as usual. It’s nice to see that there are people out there that wouldn’t think I was crazy for plugging in my ColecoVision every once in a while…
I have what will seem like a terrible trivial question for you:
Where did you find Count Duckula on DVD??? That and Danger Mouse are the two cartoons sure to get a strange look from almost anyone I mention them to.
What can I say? I’m a closet geek!
Thank you in advance and keep up the great work.
Mike

I got about 6-7 emails asking me for Count Duckula on DVD. Well, I got it off Amazon.co.uk. It’s an all region DVD that cost me 8 quid. It’s a 3 pound charge for shipping to the US. And best of all, it’s an ALL REGION DVD so you can all enjoy it, no matter what country you are in. There are six episodes and all are funny as hell. But of course, it’s the two theme songs that rock most of all.
Sadly Dangermouse is only on PAL DVD. Damn you Cosgrove films!

Okay. After five pages of letters, it’s time for some commentary.

My fellow 411games staff member and Lucard devotee #2864 Chuck Platt did a review of Soul Calibur 2 a few days ago, and it was exceptionally well-written. Chuck spoke his mind, and said what he honestly thought of the game. He didn’t like it. It’s that cut and dry. I think everyone should go and read his review, because Chuck did what very few professional VG journalists do: HE SPOKE HIS MIND. He didn’t kiss ass to Namco or follow the herd of people who are scared to death that if they deviate from the mindless praise that spews out of 99% of the collective VG journalist’s mouths that they won’t get their free games or press releases or exclusive interviews. And that’s insane. Too many of us suck the collective corporate cock of distributors and I’m sick of it. Do I agree with his rating? No. I don’t BUT IT’s A FUCKING OPINION people. You don’t have to agree with it, you just have to respect it.
I did some surfing of my own and found the actual soulcalibur2.com web page had a forum thread linking to Chuck’s post where a bunch of whiny babies were threatening him with actual physical harm simply because he didn’t like their precious, precious game. Note these are the same type of people who don’t use their real name of forums, have to have gigantic signatures and use pictures of VG characters instead of their own ugly mugs.

The point is that gamers as a whole are way too anal and immature to accept that someone might have a differing opinion from their own. They bitch and whine if someone doesn’t like their precious Squaresoft games. Or if someone dares to stick up and admit they like a game like Superman 64. It is all a matter of TASTE. Anyone pathetic enough to whine on a message board because a person they don’t know and never will doesn’t like the same stupid piece of electronic media that they do really needs to put down the controller and learn that humans shouldn’t act like cattle. If they have a problem with Chuck’s review, they can take it to him. It’s why we all have public emails and IM’s.

And for the record my rating would have been:

Gameplay: 5.0
Graphics: 9.0
Sound: 7.0
Fun Factor: 5.0
Overall: 6.5

WOW! A WHOLE POINT MORE THAN CHUCKS. I beat Weapon master Mode only using the A button people. It was the easiest fighting game I have EVER played. I’m sorry, but that’s me being honest. I felt the game was too easy and just a button masher. 2 Player mode is MUCH more fun, but one player mode? ZZZZzzzzz.

And this is a tie-in to my next little commentary. I’m sure most of you know about the lawsuit involving White Wolf and Sony Pictures movie “Underworld.” The basis of the suit is copyright infringement. And I am so sick to death of people talking as if they have read all the legal documents, seen the movie, and read tons of the World of Darkness Manuals. No, most of the people commenting on the case are ignorant idiots sounding off on a message board because they think they have some idea what’s going on. How many of those people have pre-law or law degrees? How many can tell you the name of all three or the Baali clan originators? How many have actually watched Underworld? Arrrgh!
Now the big annoyance came when Penny Arcade did a funny cartoon about the lawsuit that mocked everything from White Wolf to Anne Rice to Sesame Street. It was cute and I really enjoyed it. But a bunch of White Wolf fans got indignant and whiny and bitched about it. So Justin Achilli, one of the big wigs of White Wolf commented in a way that came off sounding a bit pompous and defensive. But you know, I’ve read enough emails from Justin to know that’s his writing style. Is he an arrogant dick? Not in any of the conversations I have had with him. Yes, he can sound full of himself. I know I too can come across that way. Hell, nay of us that have worked for White Wolf seem to have a common thread in our writing style of sounding like versions of Niles and Frasier Crane that listen to Joy Division instead of the Symphonic Arias. It’s part of working and writing with a game that has a generic gothic-punk theme to it. (Although don’t get me started on how White Wolf isn’t goth. I’m an old school snob big time when it comes to Goth vs kindergoth.)

Back to the rant. Basically Tycho saw the email from Justin posted on a Vampire: The Masquerade board and shot back with a short but sweet comment. And that triggered a minor “Penny Arcade fans vs White Wolf” fans debate on various places around the web. Note that neither Justin or Tycho actually directly attacked the other, nor did they tell their fans to do so. It just happened. It’s like the above rant about how people whined that Soul Calibur got a 5.5 out of a 10 rating from Chuck. PEOPLE THINK DIFFERENTLY. But then we all seem to freak out when we get confirmation of this fact. Some people see White Wolf’s suit as having merit. Others think it’s bullshit. Both are right from their own point of view.

But see that I am caught in the middle, both as a well-respected and beloved IVGC personality as well as a person who has a very good following amongst White Wolf fans after “Minneapolis By Night,” I decided to do what no one else had done: TRY TALKING TO BOTH GUYS.

I sent Tycho and Justin individual emails, inviting them to talk it out or see things from the other guy’s point of view. Both were mature, intelligent, and willing to talk. In fact. Here’s my conversation with Tycho. Note he’s not much of a talker. ;-)

Hello, Alex – I appreciate your taking the time to write, and
obviously it is nice to be in agreement with strangers.

I would like very much to see a copy of this story.
-Tycho Brahe

I wish I still had the first email I sent him. But I’ll break it down in a nutshell. I told him that I thought the war of words was silly. Gave him a list of what I had done for White Wolf and that even though there was some past loyalty to the company, I had no problem seeing things from Tycho’s point of view. I brought up that White Wolf’s suit is akin to the people who believe a large part of the WoD was ripped off from Mayfair Game’s CHILL, but in White Wolf you play as the monsters instead of the humans. I also offered to find him a copy of Dark Destiny, the anthology in which Nancy Collins “Love For Monsters” appears in. I do thankfully still have my follow up letter.

Here’s a list of the table of contents from the book it is in. Not you can’t find hide or hair of the book or the short stories contents on the White Wolf web page anywhere. And give me your mailing address and I’ll buy you a used copy from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1565048113/qid%3D1063223686/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/002-7669887-6723261

I am obviously not going to include the entire table of contents here. This column is long enough as it is.

It’s cool, I see where it is, now – I’ll grab it today. Thank you very much for the assistance.

And see, Tycho went out and bought Dark Destiny. He didn’t bitch and moan while being blithering ignorant about the topic. When told, ?Hey. Here’s the book. Now you can see for yourself what the suit is over,? he jumped at the chance and did so. Now if he stay of the same mindset or not after reading the short story, I have no idea. But no matter what he thinks afterwards, it’s his own bloody mind and he can think what he wants. Of course I really hope he thinks, “Alex Lucard rocks big time. I’m going to put a link to 411mania.com/games on Penny-Aracde.com and praise his gothie glories to the world.”
Of course, odd how such a funny guy can be so formal in his emails, eh?

Now for the other side of the coin. I emailed Justin and asked him if he wanted to make a less formal commentary about the suit either on the White Wolf homepage or over here at 411. I said he and Tycho could just do a point counterpoint on the entire suit so actual fans of both audiences would finally get an informed opinion.

Give me an email and I can serve as go between for this silly thing. I’ve already offered to send Tycho my copy of Dark Destiny and he’s accepted gladly.

Plus it’d be cute publicity for both sites, and as a Marketing guy for FISH!
(another cheap plug) I’m a firm believer in any publicity is good publicity.

Regrettably, I can’t do this. I’ve been careful not to say anything about
the actual case other than what’s been filed formally in the complaint, and
I don’t think an open debate would be a good forum for me to be able to do
that. I just couldn’t answer some questions and others I’d have to beg off,
and “I don’t know” or “I can’t answer that” wouldn’t make for a fair or
interesting discussion.

I don’t have anything against the PA guys. I don’t think they were being
malicious or anything. They have three panels to work with when they make
their jokes, so each piece of the strip is an economy of art and words.

My issue comes down to the implementation. A while back, in response to the
political cartoonist who vilified video games, PA’s response was,
paraphrased, “You’re taking this all out of context and exaggerating the
situation.” Then, in their strip about this particular lawsuit, well, they
pretty much take the issue out of context and exaggerate the situation. They
condemn one guy for doing it and then turn around and do it themselves.

Like I said, I don’t think they’re doing it spitefully. They’re just
commenting on a game-industry issue. And that, in a nutshell, is what I’m
doing, too — I’m commenting on their comment, and wondering why it’s
deplorable when one person does it but acceptable when they do it.

*Shrug* It’s not really a big deal either way to me. Thanks for bothering to
look at the issue at hand, though, as opposed to affecting some kind of
defiant posturing in a forum somewhere ;)

And, yeah, I’ll spare you the usual vampire-name jokes.

Regards,
Justin

So there you have it. Words from white-wolf and from Penny Arcade. Both were civil, intelligent and MATURE. No flaming, not name calling. No stupidity or degenerate actions. Much like those who tried talking on their behalf. It’s called being an adult people. A lot of gamers, both Pen and Paper and Video style need to learn to chill the f*ck out.

And before I go for this week, I just want to say, SEE? SEE! IT’S MY REAL NAME! Even the people who make vampire related products know that my birth name is ALEXANDER LUCARD. It’s not a stupid goth online handle like “Count Nefarious” or “Circe Nightshade.” So Nyah nyah nyah nyah.
And yes, that whole paragraph WAS supposed to be the opposite of the whole point I was making in my two commentaries. :-P