Retrograding MAILBAG 10.01.03

Wow people. My inbox is so full it’s not even funny. I’ve been so busy doing reviews and columns that I neglected the mailbag edition that you guys seem to love so much. Hell, I even got emails asking when the next Mailbag was going to be! Glad to know you guys enjoy these little RG extra. Either that or you just want to see your name on the web,

was just looking around the web for odd desktop themes and google had some keywords off your site. As a big time music audiophile myself, It was neat to notice your passion for the music for games. Im a big fan of some game soundtracks going back to Mega man 2 for the original Nintendo. There was a time when my friends and I would use the audio CD tracks from the playstation game Nightmare creatures as an ambient sountrack for a tabletop RPG. We always would forget when the game got serious and if you didnt reset the cd a section of really bad Death metal came in, lol.
I am totally into underground music going back to hip hop in the early 80s to industrial music in the late 80s to electro music in the 90s to psy trance in the most recent future. Boundless my collection is getting, even though a good chunk of my best music was stolen recently, alas.
Keep on rockin,
Quinn

Every so often I still get emails about the soundtrack column. Glad to see how popular it is. But then, I also get emails about the other aspect of music I brought up months ago. That of us having a VG music track of the week for you guys to listen to.
Hi,

Just wondering if Widro and Ashish allowed you to
upload those game themes or not. I’ve got some of the
SymphonyOTN tracks and a track from Sakura Taisen. I
think it’s called “Geki!Teikoku Kagekidan(2nd rmx)”
but I don’t trust mp3 filenames. I’m mainly after the
real version of the velvet room track.

If you like the sakura track’s style of song then
maybe you’d like the theme tune to a game called
Shogo:MAD (negai by miho nemoto) and a song from the
soundtrack to ‘Legend of Arislan’. I’d buy the film
just to listen to that track on TV if it was a decent
quality.

Thanks.

Jaime

Arislan is on of my ex’s favorite animes. I enjoyed it to before the decided to change everyone’s name and the voice actors PART WAY THROUGH THE SERIES. And you heard the Wids and Ash. People want music on 411games!

A few weeks ago I promised is someone could name where a quote from my F-Zero review came from, they’d get a mention in the Mailbag. Well, over half a dozen of you got it,

1.The tag line comes from ‘Visionaries’, I’m trying to remember the name of the guy who used that to activate his staff, I think it was something like Whitterquick, or something weird like that.
ManganeseHawk@aol.com

2.The line in your opening is the speed spell fom the knight, Witterquick from the classic 80’s cartoon, Visionaries.

Easy when you know how

Eoin Burke

3.Hey man,

I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, but I believe your tagline comes
from an oooooold comic book based on the toy line Visionaires: Knights Of
The Magical Light. It was Witterquick’s(?) (the only toy I had of that
line) “catch-phrase,” if you will. (Maybe it was something different, but I
know it was couplet like that, they all had psuedo-archaic sounding
couplets.) Wow, you threw me some old memories there.

By the way, even if I’m wrong, keep up the good work. If I’m right, you
don’t need to mention my name, but do let me know if I was correct or not.

Thanks,
Chris Trice

4. That’s the chant used by one of the (hero) Visionaries
when he would summon his cheetah totem to haul ass.

I actually had that particular figure, too. :)

Chris Ingersoll

5. Alex,
I hate to admit this, but the quote that your review starts with
is from the TV cartoon series (and toy), the Visionaries. My
favorite one ended “Which one was one, now fly apart.” Why yes,
I did watch too much television… why do you ask?

Coleman Baker

6. Easy d00d…the Tagline is from the TV show / comic book / toyline “The Visionaries” and i probably spelled that wrong lol

-Immy

7. Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light!

Sweet! Whitterquick! That was a neat concept that could deserve a
game. Very Altered Beastish, however, a neat idea.

I transfered that idea to Rifts (role playing game) and then my wife
and I wrote a fan-fic based upon it…

I’m such a geek…

Here’s some of the other ones:

Poem-Spell of Wisdom:
Whispered secrets of a shattered age,
I summon you, renew this sage.

Poem-Spell of Personal Protection:
Shield this man from one and all,
reflect, deflect, depose and fall.

Poem-Spell of Illumination:
“Draw upon the breath of stars,
And fill the sky with fiery scars!”

Poem-Spell of Power:
Three suns aligned, pour forth their light,
And fill the archer’s bow with might.

Poem-Spell of Strength:
Strength of rock, not wood, not bone;
I ask o’ this, to be like stone.

Poem-Spell of Knowledge:
A whim, a thought, and more is sought,
Awake, my mind, thy will be wrought.

Poem-Spell of Healing:
By warmth of heart, your pain I feel,
Grant me the power your wounds to heal.

Poem-spells of Decay:
By what creeps, what crawls, by what does not,
Let all that grows recede and rot.

Poem-Spell of Reverse Decay:
Power of rot, obscuring truth,
What once was old, return to youth.

Poem-spell of Flight:
Wings of steel shall ride the breeze,
invade the air, the land, the seas.

Poem-Spell of Destruction:
By nature’s hand, by crafts, by art,
What once was one, now fly apart.

Poem-spell of Fear:
‘O mist-filled pits, dark, dank, unclear,
Touch all ‘fore me with frost-fingered fear.

Poem-spell of Invulnerability:
The arrows turn, the swords rebel,
May nothing pierce this mortal shell.

Poem-spell of Disease:
Winds of sickness, illness most vile,
Strike down my enemy, with disease revile

Whole figured land, the earth’s true heart
Those that together, split apart.

-James Kentner

So, can you guess which one scared me? Kidding! I was blown away that James knew every single incantation from that great cartoon. Whitterquick was always my favorite. But Invulnerability was by far my favorite one to say as a kid. If only because it was Starscream and Cobra Commander’s voice actor.

Im sorry i ever thought that you were just spelling Dracula backwards when i first saw your name posted as A.lucard. ::snickers::

sorry had to after the last column

john, derry nh.

ps. any opinion of the new arc the lad?

LOL. This is actually the first Dracula joke I’ve heard for weeks. But I’m sure I’ll always get them. Think of all the horror that could have been avoided had my mommy only named me Mortimer. And all the happy people at Konami. But too bad. I’m A.Lucard and there’ll NEVER be another SOTN. Unless Konami sends me piles of cash. Big stinking able to swim in it like Scrooge McDuck in the money bin piles of cash! Next letter!

Now for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance responses.

You’re right about the plot (from what you explain of it the plot is indeed a horrid thing) and for the most part about square, though my problems with them are mostly FF7, 8, and 10 as I found the rest all servicable to pretty good (I own and have beaten all but 2, 8, and 10, but have spent more than enough time with each). The Crono games are some of my favorites ever and I’m curious what your issue with them is. Great job, you got me into reading the videogame section here with your Shining Force series review. Any chance of a Dynasty Tactics Retro-gaming review?
Thanks for the time.

Aaron

Hooray! A Shining Force fan! And Aaron, if you liked it before, wait until this weekend. All Shining Force baby. Unless Chris Pankonin is a big stinky liarpants! As for a DT review,let’s just say 411 games is about to be FLOODED with what Alex does best: Retrogaming. ;-)

“The people who take fantasy and roleplaying so serious even LARP?ers cringe
at the thought of them. And these are supposed to be your HEROES people! The
characters in the game you identify with. What the hell was Square
thinking???”

Take a look at the horrible TV ads Squenix came up with for the game. They
meant for the game to be like that. It actually may have backfired, since I
heard a rumor that the TV ads are hurting the game sales.

I also groaned in horrible pain for the half hour I played the game (that
is, played. The parts where there was no playing to be done don’t count
in). After having enough of the horribly boredom, I clicked off the game
and put it up on Half.com–thank God I sold it quickly. Anyone else I
couldn’t consider anything else but “Nutsy.” Of course, you had to review
the stinking thing so I guess it’s different for you.
Andrew

Man. Do people hate FFTA or what? But in truth I got one from a diehard Square fan as well.

Well, that has got to be the worst reveiw i have ever seen. Sqaure has made MANY good games, most notably Final Fantasy. Have you been living in a cave for 20 years? And why the heck do you put ques?ion marks everywhere? You also said that Enix ate Square, when actually its the other way around. When’s the last time Enix had a best selling game?The original game had a wacky story sure, but this has improved. And you should grow up. Obviosly you think good games were crappy and vice-versa. So take this into consideration and think about it in your outcast cave.
Willie Schuk

The question marks bit I can answer. I write my reviews on Microsoft Word 2003 before putting them up on 411. The problem is the posting page doesn’t format the apostrophe’s or quote marks sometimes and BAM! It turns them into question marks. My only problem with this letter writer is he shows his lack of knowledge in a number of areas.

1. Enix did eat up Square. Square was hit pretty hard from the money they lost from “The Spirits Within,” while Enix was riding high with Valkyrie Profile, Star Ocean, and of course Dragon Quest. The latter of which is a series even bigger than FF in Japan. It’s proof that a game with great gameplay and plot CAN and WILL outsell a pretty but vapid game. At least in Japan.

2. Square has made some good games. Unlimited Saga? No. FF games? Only the first. The Bouncer? HAHAHAHAHA! But they have made some good games. Any of the Mana series and Threads of Fate are the ones that comes to mind. But Square 2 best games in terms of Critic Appreciation were actually made by outside teams. One has the prefix XENO in the name, and the other is the original FF Tactics.

3. I don’t live in a cave. I live in a dank musty basement with a troll and an albino kobold. Jeez. EVERYONE knows that.

The truth is, out of ALL the emails I got for that review, that was the ONLY anti FFTA review that I got. Every other letter agreed with me about how disappointing the game was. Guess it appears the fans can see through the bullshit other reviewers laid down so as to appease the mighty Square. They can tell a crap game even when others have sold out,

Oh heck. One more FFTA bashing letter before me move on!

For a guy who usually enjoys taking Square down a peg, I wanted to ask your opinion. What did you think of Kingdom Hearts? when I saw the promo video in EB I marked out bigtime, and loved playing it all rental week until I got stuck near the end.

And you’re right people who flame about video games need help, but I’m tempted to play FFTA just because of your description of the unworthiness of the heroes

Dragons81

Truth? I thought Kingdom Hearts was cute. I didn’t enjoy the gameplay, but I’m a huge mark for crossovers and Disney and Square looked good together. Jack Skellington was enough to get me to play the game and ignore my usual Square bias. I know, I know. That’s SOOOOO Gawth of me.

Now here’s the review that actual got me in trouble. We all expected my giving FFTA merely a ‘Better than average’ rating was going to get me killed. But it was giving WM XIX a half a point higher that really got some wrasslin’ fans to wet their undies. Cory, read these emails and prepare yourself for what’s coming. After all, you gave Raw 2 a 7.0, and I gave WM a 6.5!

hey good review i am skeptical if i will buy this or not, but i was wondering what belts are in it, and do the wrestlers wear them to the ring or is it that shit where it just says it on their entrance? Thanks

D19Basil

No belts. No belts at all.

Maybe they should’ve let somebody who was a little more open review this game. You obviously are biased towards Japanese wrestling, therefore you hate the game. Yet, I bet if New Japan released a game that was exactly like this……it would be a 9.5 on the Lucard scale.

Revenge mode isn’t impossible, it’s all strategy. You knock the moron’s powers down to zero, throw them off the cage and climb the pole. Not too hard.
Sickboy

I will never get how people can think the member of the 411mania staff nicknamed ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ can actually get a rep as a puro-head. I made just as many old WWE guys like Demolition and Owen Hart as I did Japanese guys. Are there better Wrestling games in Japan? Hell yes! TR4 is wrestling perfection. And AJPW vs. Virtua Fighter. Excellent realism there. Except for VR characters.

Plus I never said Revenge mode was impossible. I said the exact opposite. That it was so easy it was asinine. And oddly, everyone else on the team that’s played the game has given roughly the same rating.

Alexander,
All I gotta say is if you think you know the worst WWE game, then you have not played the first RAW for Xbox. That is the crappiest wrestling game period.

Raw 2 is so much better, but has a completely different feel from the GC & PS2 games. CAW is still somewhat limited, but the graphics alone make this game cool. Some are extremely realistic. There are times where you forget that you are watching a CGI version of The Rock walking to the ring.

Anyway, thanks for your review of WMXIX. You helped me to decide whether or not I was going to get it.

Best,
Kevan

Yep. I have yet to play Either RAW game. I’d love to see what Kevan said to Cory.

Why are you so angry and easily annoyed by everything? How long have you played this game? It doesnt sound like you know what you’re doing in the game. And do you also know that there are strong grapples? And whats with your love with japanese wrestlers? Why would someone so biased be allowed to review a game? This game is no where near as bad as what you say it is.

Barbara

I never review a game unless I’ve either beaten it, or if it’s a sports game and the like, at LEAST 25-40 hours. I’ll still never get how anyone can get a 6.5 to be bad. 5.0 = AVERAGE people. 6.5 = Better than Average. Again, why the hate towards anyone who makes Chono. God forbid I make Onita or Inoki. I also don’t see what strong grapples have to do with anything. No where in there did I say, ‘Punch and Kick are the only moves one can do.’ Sigh. Why is it fanatics of something only ever scope out the negative in a review instead of reading the positive as well?


Alex,
pretty good job on the review. I’m glad someone
finally decided to review it. I thought that being a
wrestling site the review would be up in a couple days
but whatever, glad to know you actually went through
it and gave it a chance. Actually, I reviewed WM X8
for 411 way back when.
Point I’m writing is that you said pretty
specifically in the music section of the review that
you wanted big crowd reactions. I don’t know if you
noticed or not but the crowd actually strikes up a
bunch of chants when the match gets heated. It’s
probably one of the greatest little addition ever put
in a wrestling game as it’s extremely cool to be in a
long match and have an RVD chant break out after you
hit a van daminator. Also, you didn’t notice that
submissions have been given a huge boost in this game
thanks to location based damage. I can actually win
matches faster with a submission that with a pin in
many cases which is such a huge improvement over x8
when it would take well over 10 crossfaces to get a
tapout. The reason I bring it up is that matches
become much more enjoyable in this game because you
really get the feeling that you’re causing major
damage to the other guy. The blood, the chanting, the
location damage, the improved sound effects (compare
x8 and x9 to see the difference) and weapon grapples
(another really cool detail you should’ve mentioned.
The DDT on the concrete block is bad ass) all really
make the game more fun. I agree revenge mode sucks
ass but you could’ve helped accentuate the differences
between x8 and x9 because that’s really what the
people reading the review are going to want to know.
Good review anyway though,
Greg Brown

It’s true. I never noticed the crowd noises. But then I never had a match were the opponent got more than one move on me. Like I said in the review, the AI on this game was so stinking easy it scared me as much as how ugly the boss characters in Revenge Mode were. I did overlook the weapon grapples in my reviews, but to be honest it just wasn’t that big a deal to me.

Two things though. The first is I totally disagree with it being easier to make someone tap in this game than to get a pin. I can pin someone in under 2 minutes in this game. Tap outs take longer for me. The second is being called a wrestling site. But you all know how I feel about that. :-P

I just thought I should point out something I noticed while reading your WMXIX review. you stated, and I quote, “WMXIX is the follow up to WMVIII for the Game Cube”. Actually, it’s the follow up to WMXVIII (18) not WMVII (8). 18, then 19. I think this is a common mistake due to the fact that WM 18 was written “X8”. Many people thought it was ‘times 8’, but they actually used both roman numerals and standard numbers for the title. Just thought you should know, since you post reviews and such.

Bob

And that is what we in the industry call a Typo. Thanks for being the only guy to notice it. And making me look like a Schlep.

And here’s the big thing. My latest column has been up for only half a week, and BAM! Over 2 dozen comments. You gotta love that. Although I never actually talked directly talked about games, my comments really seemed to strike a chord in people. And in a good way.

Well, except for the exception that proves the rule.

I think you make a mistake when you use phrases like “verbal violence” and “fight” when describing something that happens in news boards, usenet or anywhere else on-line. It’s overstating the problem and makes you seem like you’re taking the whole thing too seriously. You’d do better to save words like “fight” and “violence” for when someone is really harmed. The victims of flame wars (and even using the word “victim” is probably overstating it too) aren’t harmed. They’re annoyed. That’s no the same thing.
Anthony Myers

Instead of even remotely commenting on Anthony’s complete misunderstanding of the column, I’ll let some of the other people that wrote in rebuff him.

You are very right in your opinion and I completely agree with it. I
know this seems like a glowing e-mail about your column, but this is
exactly why I really stopped reading message boards of any kind. I
used to be on a few, but a lot of them degraded into wars of opinions
that I just didn’t want to be a part of.

Working in a game store, I get asked my opinion on lots of games. Like
411games reviewers (which I use quite frequently), I try to give a
balanced view on a game. The story might be there, but the gameplay is
a little weak. Or the graphics are great but the controls are faulty,
try this game instead. But I always say that this is my opinion, you
may love this game. The only way to really see if you like a game is
to try it. Rent it, or go to a place that will put the game in for you
for a few minutes…

I find it completely sad that someone would try to infect Chuck’s
computer over a review…I hope Chuck contacted the guy’s ISP and got
him turfed, or called the police on it…

Anyway, that’s just my opinion too…

Christian

We toyed with the idea of putting the cops on the idiot, but decided against it. Unless he’s stupid enough to do it again.

Hey,

Interesting column. I can totally relate with your frustration when it
comes to video game related flame wars. Last I checked, videogames were
supposed to be a fun diversion. Back when Nintendo and Sega were the only
game in town, the competitive nature of fans, was part of the allure. Now
it’s just sad.

I’d also like to say that while I think you rated FF Tactics Advance just a
little low (I found the gameplay innovations fun enough to outway the
super-weak storyline), but I can see where you’re coming from. I find it
really cool that Square-Enix was so classy about your 6.0 rating, because
back in the day when I was reviewing videogames I had gaming companies of
equal stature cut me from their comp-lists for less than that.

Anyways, I’ve been relatively distant from the internet gaming world for the
past few years, but I do dig what you and Bebito are doing. Take it easy,

Steve

Hey. Square knows I give them a hard time. But they also know I preordered Crystal Chronicles and the remake of Sword of Mana months in advance. As much as I despise a lot of their games, I’m always willing to give the benefit of the doubt. And I agree about the competitive nature. When it was Sega vs the Big N, the game wars were fun. With the advent of Sony and M$, it’s become down right mean and immature. Ah for the days of 1992 again,

And hey, whether you like it or you don’t like it, Big Daddy Cool and the Heartbreak Kid are the main event.

– currently on NyQuil

Man that report you had bummed me out.

I was thinking, why is it that we all take brands and things so seriously?

For example:

I thought a justifiable slap was in order for a kid in line at the arcade in
front of me for SNKvCap chaos when he kept pronouncing SNK as “Snick” and
was complaining the whole time about how bad the game looked and how Capcom
fighters were so much better. God i wish i woulda played that kid, but of
course the local Asian champ with the 25 win streak DEMOLISHES him, so i had
no chance to play the kid. Man that guy owned with dhaslhim.

And the reason i say Asian champ is that it is always someone on there from
the east who is owning every comer with a win streak no less than 20 before
i get there….and it’s at 30 by the time i leave :-)

But yea, why was it that i was so passonite about the kid loving the game as
much as I do? He is entitled to his opinion, but my first instinct was that
he was an ass and i wanted to whoop him in the game.

Ah well, hey you think you could ever do a review of the Last Blade series?
Most underappreciated fighters ever.

peace

Mike V

Last Blade eh? Well, Mike,you just may get your wish. As for slapping a fan that doesn’t get SNK or appreciate their games? Let your joystick do the talking instead of your fists. ;-)

Alex,

I read your article the other day, and while I rarely ever decide to leave feedback, I guess that makes me a troll? Gotta tell you, you hit the nail on the head. This was pretty much the thesis for why I don’t go on usenet, or discussion boards, or anything like that anymore, there are just too many moron fanatics out there. I guess the best analogy that I have is that I went to college as an arts major, and most studio classes were infested with… art people. You know the type, the alternative for the sake of being alternative folk. Who, much like you said preach open mindedness, but have formed their own sub-culture, complete with as much conformity and prejudice as your average pop-culture automaton. Anyway, thanks for saying it, it needed to be said. – Mark

You know, as a guy whose subculture is filled with artsy poseurs who thinking makeup on guys is somehow attractive and looking like a reject from a Hammer film is hot, I hear you all too well. Fucking Goths.

First of all, great column. I totally agree with pretty much everything you said. I, for one, did not agree with some of your criticsm towards the orginal Final Fantasy Tactics game, but i knew that it was your OPINION. To me, everyone who reads your column should understand how simple it is. When someone makes a column, its ALL opinion. Go read a newspaper on sports, or any website on almost anything and all reviews are opinions. It’s all a matter of taste. And the truth is, some people just don’t seem to understand this. I may have disagreed with you with saying yo udidn’t enjoy Final Fantasy Tactics, the original, but i knew its all opinons. To me, my favorite games ever are Final Fantasy Tactics, Shining Force and Shining Force 2, Madden series, Chrono Trigger and many more. But i guarantee tons and TONS of people disagree with me. It’s JUST my opinion. Many gamers don’t seem to see it this way. I know that you would disagree with my choice of games, but at the same time, i know you respect my opinion. And i enjoy debating. I can admit when some games i enjoy are truly crappy. It’s all a matter of opinion of all gamers. Yeah, perhaps Final Fantasy 10 sold tons and tons of copies, but i never touched the game. To me, i wasn’t too interested. I saw much of the game as my brother played, but i simply wasn’t interested. I truly enjoyed playing Final Fantasy IV, and i guarantee most gamers would disagree with me . But hey, i liked the early FF games much more than the recent ones. The truth is though, many gamers just don’t respect other people’s opinions. Matter as a fact, one time, my friend, who has been playing Counter Strike since Beta versions, was involved in a clan match with his friends. They pretty much wiped the floor with these individuals. And they complained about how well my friend and his clan were doing. So you know what happens? A couple of days later, my friend discovers his computerh as a virus with a profanity across his screen as well as the other clan they faced tagged by it. First of all, not very smart to leave their clan name. But its disturbing to see how a clan in CS would put a virus in my friend simply because he was good. It’s things like that that make me feel sickened. I’m sure you understand what i mean. Again, good column. Keep up the good work. And btw, as much as i love Shining Force, i can’t say the storyline was all that great. I loved it but it was kinda cheesy i na way! Haha. Take care.
Jason

Shining Force cheesy? Now I gotta hold Big Daddy Cool back! But seriously, nowadays, I CAN see SF being considered Cheesy. The plots been redone by hundreds of games since it came out. But back then,it blew minds.

Great article, i agree with you 100%!
-Travis

Great way to end this segment. Short and to the point. Let’s finish it with one last letter.

Hey man, I hust gave a quick question. I recently picked up Persona and am debating whether or not to pay $45 dollars each for Tactics Ogre and Vagrant Story at a local game shop. I am buying these games (with the exception of Vagrant Story) based on your praise alone. While going through the archives I re-read one of your early columns, possably your first, where you stated that your purpose was to bring to light some of the hidden gems of the days of gaming past. And for awhile you did this. I realize that as time goes by and a writer finds his voice content may change and I’m completely down with that. Your columns are some of the most informed, well-written, and thought provoking articles I read on and off the net. My question is this: is there a place, or the possability of a 411games column, in which games from older system (NES through Dreamcast) are reviewed?

Thanks,
PJ Mimms

I appreciate the compliments. I advise Ogre Tactics on Ebay as you can get it for about 30$ and this letter actually stopped me cold. It’s true. Somewhere over the past 9 months, I’ve gone from being a Retrogamer and archivist of classic and forgotten games, to the father figure here at 411games. I started touching on things that the rest of the gaming world had forgotten. Things like customer service. Music. But mainly I’ve become the commentator on the Obscure. Everything from SVC Chaos to becoming the Fraiser Crane of the video game jet set. Whether that’s good or not, I don’t know. It just means that my reason for writing has changed without me even realizing it.

Thankfully I look back and I can see that every so often, there’s a Retrogaming column in the midst. Usually about Shining Force or Guardian heroes or some other Sega made game. But the fact remains, even though Retrograding generates the most mail and fan support here at 411 games, it really hasn’t been Retro since I came back from England. But then, I’ve become more a PR guy with developers and publishers. My purpose at 411games has changed as well as my “voice.” The question is whether I’m happy with that or not. And to be honest, I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about it until I got this letter, but well,maybe it’s time to go back to the roots. I don’t know.

-Alex