Retrograding MAILBAG 06.18.04

Retrograding MAILBAG

I’m not here. I’m really not. I’m on vacation and in no way have written this so our columns section doesn’t look like weak sauce in an attempt to guilt Fred and Chuck to actually write something. So I’ve done a few news bites and now a mailbag. That doesn’t mean I’m still here. It means I have a crapload of emails to go through! And it’s even worse since I haven’t done one of these in over a month.

These emails are going back to March, which tells you how full my Inbox is, so bear with me please.

Dear Count Alucard,

I wrote you a while back to praise and condemn you for turning me on to Phantasy Star 2.
Well, do to your sheer force of will, I have also succumbed to the temptation of Shining Force on my Dreamcast Sega mega collection dealie.
I’ve never been that much of a strategy or RPG guy, but this game is amazing. I have never played a game that is so entertaining. It is challenging, funny and never boring. I put my baby to bed, start playing and the next thing I know it is 6 hours later and I’m surrounded by empty cans of diet coca cola.

I need to get more of these.

I think what my problem is, is that most modern games don’t see creating fun as their main goal. In a game I want to be doing cool shit or trying to solve a problem. But nowadays it seems that I play a game, and I have to spend an hour wandering around looking for shit, that I need to combine with more shit to solve an inane ad illogical puzzle to open a door to something else that sucks.

Oh and hey, as a fellow Sega fan, I feel a need to share my grief with you. A horrible tragedy had occurred in that the memory to my Saturn is dead. Gone is my full Pandora’s Box. Gone are my hundred hours and secret characters from Fighters Megamix. Gone is, well I never got very far in Enemy Zero to begin with. That game was balls hard.

Wasting too much of your time,

— Michael Kennedy

And of course we start off with either a Dracula or Shawn Michaels joke. If I had a dollar for every one of those I get, I’d be able to buy a ton of Chickens and start my own cock fighting league.

Glad to see another Shining Force convert Mike! Also hope you picked up the remake on the GBA.

Ah Enemy Zero, the little know follow up to D. Wonderful game.

I also agree with Mr. Kennedy in regards to what is wrong with modern games. It’s wandering around and repetition to the max. Too many people have forgotten the concept of fun. It’s a damn shame.

Now a few quick comments on my Henry Rollins Spoken Word review I did for 411music.

I saw Henry Rollins here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and I had a blast. Reading your blurp about him was awesome because he is a wonderful speaker and I thouroughly enjoyed his spoken word. Just wanted to say its nice to see there are some other thinkers out there that enjoy this man’s opinions and “flatulence” as much as the rest of us.

Robyn Baron

Rollins is a god. Everyone really does need to experience this man live and in the flesh.

Alex, just read your review of Rollins ‘Nights Behind the Tree Line’.
You’re right in saying that this cd may not be for everyone but I hope
people will pick it up because it shows another side of Henry’s work. Yes,
it is dark, depressing and sometimes not easy to listen to but it is worth
having if you are a Rollins fan. I would hope fans can look beyond
Henry’s live spoken word shows and see he can do serious work. Actually,
Johnny Hartmann is my favorite piece on the disc along with Brick.
Visiting Los Angeles is definitely more of a rant than a poem – very
intense and a bit out of control. I doubt this will be a big selling cd
for him but that’s ok. Like I said, it shows his serious side and he’s
allowed to do that. I appreciate his work on this cd, I hope his other
fans will too. You definitely spent time listening to each piece and
describing them well in your review.

Later,
Ruta

I don’t know if Ruta is a boy or a girls name?

Although I love his shows and actual comedy/spoken word stuff, his poetry and storys are good, but not great. It’s just my opinion, but I do agree with Ruta it is worth checking out if only to see yet another facet of this aging alternative icon’s talents.

Now for some Pokemon emails. I know the majority of you can’t fathom my overwhelming Pokemon Obsession. But these are worth looking just to show you what happens when you are one of the better known Pokemaniacs out there…

Haven’t found anyone else to ask.
I just got this game for my kids and we haven’t been able to save it nor figure out how to battle against each other, just like the old N64 game.
Thanks in advance

-Ogre

And the answer is…you can’t. Not without premade teams. Nintendo got so much flack for the original version of the game that was just letting you play Pokemon battles on TV without any other substance, that in the Game Cube version, it was RPG mode first, and Col mode added as a supplement. Sorry.

did you get mew and deoxys?

Only in Fire Red and Leaf Green.

hallo ik wil graag diet spel hebben kunt u een mail treug sturen

-Henry De Jonge

What the f*ck is this? German?

I have played PC for many hours. I beat the mayor many times. I traveled to every town, walked every square inch of each town, talked to everyone in each town. I even battled in the Phenac Collosseum, Pyrite Colloseum, and Under Collosseum. What do I do now.

-Adam Mather

I answered his question the best I could and explained there are extra shadow Pokemon to get after you beat the mayor, and then like any other Pokemon game, you can run around the world and do whatever you want. You don’t *have* to keep playing, and there is no true end to the game. Then I got this from him.

I have purified all of my pokemon.
I have caught 48 pokemon.

These are just a few questions:

1. Is there a third chance to catch Sudowoodo?

2. I found a data disk and took it to the kid in the under.
He kept adding pokemon to my snag list.
Right now when i look at the list it says
Shuckle ??????? ???????
Where do i find him?

3. How many pokemon can you catch on Colloseum alone.

4. Is there a way i can catch Jurachi?

-Adam

1. No

2. You have to beat the Deep Col challenge 4 times. On the fifth time, you can fight Shuckle’s trainer.

3. 50. 52 catchable if you count Umbreon and Espeon.

4. You need to get the bonus disc that came when you pre-ordered PokeCol. That is the ONLY way to get JIRACHI.

Is that thing even worth it? It’s super-cheap now (you can often find the
system and like 3 chips for under $30), but I figured I’d check with the
expert first.

Even though you’re retarded for liking Pokemon Channel. ;-)

-LiquidCross

Very much worth it. Hell, I just bought a second one. The Pokemon Mini deal over at www.Pokemoncenter.com is one of the best deals in gaming today. 4 games and a very cool system for 30 bucks? If you’re a fan of old school puzzle games, you need this.

And another from our grumpiest member of 411Games…

Alright, genius. Explain to me exactly what the fascination with Celebi is all
about.

-LC

The only real thing about Celebi is that it’s ultra rare and can only be obtained by strange and bizarre means. In the US you need an NOA person to give him to you. In Japan you need the GBC cell phone adapter thingy. It’s a Pychic/Grass Pokemon and hands down the best of the Grass type Pokemon. But it’s not a Pokemon you have to have unless you are a person who truly does have to catch them all.

And that makes a great segueway into our next letter…

Hey, I read your review for Pokemon Colosseum and I saw that you said that
Nintendo had given you a promotional Celebi. My goal is to capture all the -51,
for example Mew, Celebi, Jirachi (already have), and Deoxys, which I know you
can get in Fire Red and Leaf Green. HOW DID YOU GET CELEBI?! DID YOU GO
SOMEWHERE AND GET IT?! IF I SENT YOU MY GAME PACK, COULD YOU GIVE ME A CELEBI?!

Celebi Freak

Do you see what I have to deal with people????

I got Celebi because Nintendo gave it to me. I thought I made that clear in my review, but maybe I didn’t. There is no other way to get Celebi than by schmoozing a NoA employee or getting the preorder disc from Japan. Americans got Jirachi, the Japanese got Celebi. Dioxys is easy to get in Fire Red or Leaf Green, and Mew is…tricky. We’ll have to wait to hear from Nintendo on how to get him.

Next up…some brief commentary on my Suffering review. Still my pick for GOTY so far.

Hi there. I just read your review of the suffering, and I just want to say thank you. I thought this game looked and sounded pretty cool from the commercials and magazine previews untill I read the reviews in “Game Informer” they gave it low scores. If i remember right, they dogged the graphics and play control and thought the enemies were stupid. Now I know not to trust anyone paid to play video games, but i was dissapointed none the less. That was about a month ago. I decided i wasnt going to buy it, untill today, so thanks.

-Lygerfire

Now I have Jushin Liger’s music in my head.

And always look for a second or third or even fourth opinion on a game. Even if you take my word as Gospel. If only to see a differing opinion.


good review
makes me wanna go home and play it again

-Gert

Although short, these are the best kind of letters you can get. Because that’s what a good review should do. It should make you want to play the game or run screaming from it, depending on the Author’s intent.

Okay, more review feedback. This time: Shining Soul 2:

Hey,

I’ve written a few times before, but haven’t in a bit…But eh, I only write when I feel a need too. I have to tell you that your Shining Soul II review was spot on. After playing Shining Soul I (due to your review) I was very pleasently surprised. SS II had me pretty excited so I got it last week, and have been playing it since. While I enjoy the gameplay, it just doesn’t make enough improvements on the first to make me really stand up and take notice of this game. Hopefully next month’s Shining Force release doesn’t leave me with that thirty dollars gone out the window feeling. Of course if I had waited to see a review from you (and since it was a Shining Title I knew there would be one) perhaps I could have saved some cash…But I get overzealous:)

Also I have to thank you for the review you did WAY back on Demi Kids: Dark Version. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun playing a Pokemon-esque game that wasn’t Pokemon. It really was a great gaming experience. I have yet to pick up the Light version…not sure if I will since I have a backlog of Tactics Ogre and Sword of Mana sitting next to my Gamecube and GBplayer that are next on my list of plays. I keep saying I’ll get to them but every time I do something comes up. Recently I was on a huge Pokemon kick, and between Sapphire and Ruby I logged like 200 some hours in the past two months, and that kept me from Tactics Orge and SoM…Pretty sure I was unheathily addicted for awhile there.

I also wanted to congratulate you on a well written Pokemon Collessium review. I to am a Pokemon fanatic and immediately bought the game (bonus disc as well…had to have my Jirachi). I agree with most of your thoughts on it. However I do wish they had added more to this game. After 60 hours I had snagged and purified all shadow pokemon, gotten my Ho-oh, and beaten nearly every battle mode collessium. Maybe I’ve been spoiled since the GBA pokemon games (especially GSC and Ru/Sp) have had such replay value. Still, Pokemon Col. really was a pleasent surprise in the RPG department.

So yeah, I guess this e-mail was just one long nice job letter. Oh yeah, meant to say, I’m really enjoying your top 30 countdown. While I have only played a portion of the top 30, it is interesting to read about the other games listed there that I have not played. I’m looking forward to the last few installments.

Take it easy.

AJ

Hmmm. AJ writes a letter. AJ gets to do reviews for 411. Interesting Coincidence, ain’t it?

I think it’s interesting that Shining Soul 2 had more characters, more monsters and well, more everything. But it wasn’t as good. Proof that bigger sometimes isn’t better.

Hopefully AJ has gotten to play Ogre Tactics and Sword of Mana. They’re both great games, with Knight of Lodis being one of the bets games ever made!

it couldn’t possibly be that bad c’mon but it is nothing compared to Fianl Fantasy Tactics Advanced!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Morph56

I gave it an average rating, not a bad one. And I believe it got approximately the same rating as FFTA. So they’re both average games surrounded by a ton that are better. Nuff said.

The next two emails are people commented on my covering an article the Wall Street Journal wrote about how companies really feel on the PSP. Note that first they did it, but no niche gaming website or mag would cover any of the negativity on the PSP and how companies really feel for fear of Sony’s wraith. Then we did. Because we’re journalists, not ass kissers. And now more and more things like Atari’s feelings on the system are cropping up.

Why is it that 411games only seems to report the negative news about Sony? What about the PSP being gushed over by the creator of the Havok Physics engine for it’s ease of use and power? The good developer support that’s forth coming and wireless multiplayer?

Sure it may be compared to the N-gage. But the difference is that any betting man would tell you that the PSP will do everything the N-gage can (except being a phone) and more and better…

Why not post the reports highlighting the good things about the PSP? Not everything Sony related should be a bash fest around here.

-Schultz

Well, that’s an easy question to answer. Because other sites are scared to say anything negative about Sony for fear of not getting Beta games or freebies or bribes. We’re willing to lose the free shit here at 411 in order to keep our integrity. We feel that’s a wee nip more important.

Now that sounds like a story you probably had some great personal
satisfaction in reporting, as would I. Although in that article you
remained rather objective (as least based on the provided info), probably
like me you wouldn’t mind seeing the PSP fail if it is going to be a
primarily 3D handheld.

I do basically on principle. Portables are the last bastion of 2-D and,
while I like 3-D done well, I simply don’t think 3D works well on portables,
regardless of the power. Maybe some owners of the PSOne and the flip-top
screen may disagree, but even that seems to be problematic. You simply
don’t get the immersive quality of a TV or monitor. The resolution almost
always suffers, too. My exact gripe is hard to describe, but it just
“feels” wrong. Do you get what I mean?

Hell, no one seems to even know if it is cartridge-based, or a new format
such as the tiny Gamecube DVDs.

Off topic: Van Helsing–pure pain for horror fans. I’m going to wash it
out with some Vampire Hunter D now.
-Andrew Sk

Vampire Hunter D makes everything better Andrew. It’s magically delicious.

I agree that it looks like with the next gen of portables, that 2-D gaming is being brushed aside for crappier games with horrible controls and even worse camera angles. It’s a sad state, but I believe that good games will still shine through the pack of crap that consists of the majority of releases nowadays.

And as we know from E3, the medium for the PSP has been decided upon.

As as long as we’re on Van Helsing, here are some letters about my review of the film.

AWESOME review. My friends and I saw this on opening night, and we couldn’t stop ranting how much it absolutely sucked. One thing you should have mentioned. After Anna had been beaten up, thrown through roofs, dropped from 50 feet down a tree to the ground, thrown through STONE WALLS and other such beatings, the one thing that finally killed her was a SPEAR into a COUCH from Van Werewolf. How freaking lame was that?
Great review, though I have to say that I liked Underworld and will be getting the extended edition when I get some money.
Regards,

-Drew Niehaus
The Nature Boy
Stylin’ and Profylin’ since 1980

Van Werewolf had Goldberg like spears. That’s why. At least that’s the best justification I can come up with. What a shitty, shitty film that was.

And Drew, I think one Mr. Flair may have some intellectual property issues with you…

I enjoyed the review of the film.. it was something I’d say about it.. but, I’ve only beat the game. Hehe.. that was bad enough, so I unloaded it on eBay. Hey, it’s better than the racket that EB games runs! Ha! Have a great day!

-Daniel

I know Yeager didn’t mind the game, except for the story. I just hope everyone involves with the Van Helsing film suffers major career damage from being in that crapfest.

I’m going to skip ahead a bit to some emails on my River City Ransom review now. If only because I’ll save all the Countdown emails for another bag or two.

Hey Alex,

I’ve been reading your articles for a long while and this is the first time I’ve taken the time to write you an email. I was in touch with Lee Baxley for a while, but I’ve been busy or lazy lately (there’s a fine line between the two)…
Anyway, I was happy to read your review since all of my friends have been brainwashed to the fact that RCR EX is actually a good game and one of them has actually said “Screw Metroid: Zero Mission, this [RCR] is a true remake of a classic video game!”
I do want to point out some things you missed in your review though. You mention the crazy inflation in the game, but neglect to point out the thing that really ruined the game for me: The Entrees. This gang rarely appears, but if you go just go back and forth between two locations they pop up every so often. Each Entree drops $7.00. I raised up to $600.00 in roughly 20 minutes so I could buy the Magic Pants at Merlin’s Magic shop.
The other problem in the game is that once you spend the $300 on Acro Circus, the game is pretty much over. The techniques are SO overpowered… my friends ran through the game using Acro Circus in under 5 minutes. I beat it with Killer Kick in about 8. Top Spin is also highly unfair for the computer.
Lastly, there are a lot of unlockable things once you beat the game. You can buy the “Custom Character” item which allows you to change your skin, but all the boss’s techniques, etc. There’s also a way to get a 4-member posse in which for the final fight it’s a 4-on-4 battle against Darth Slick, the Dragon Twins, and Otis. So there is some good replay in that aspect.
That’s all I wanted to say in defense of RCR EX. I agree that it’s only like a 5/10, and in fact, I traded my copy to my friend for his Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (which he didn’t like).

Thanks for your time,
Matt Weinberg, patiently waiting for Persona 3: Nocturne

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d make the same trade.

And the Entrees are just another aspect of what is wrong with this game. They didn’t fix their mistake. They just tried to balance their stupidity out with a mistake of the exact opposite polarity!

And EVERY technique is overpowered. Another massive problem with the game.

Overall RCR is the most disappointing remake/update/whatever I have ever played. Bad Millions! Bad Atlus!

dude I was so gonna buy this game, but I downloaded it to test it out and found out the absolute worst part of the remake…… no free smile at mervs :( whats up with that?

Dave

I used the word “Fuck” a lot when I noticed this. The Free Smile is one of the big cult aspects of the game! How could they cut it out? Jerks! Nothing but JERKS!

As a fellow old school gamer, I too was appalled at what they had done to a
personal favourite of mine. Though some of the options did look like they
had promise, they sadly did not pan out well at all within the game itself.
I sadly will not be picking this one up (I test on ROMs first to see if
games are worth buying), so thank you for the second opinion I sought as I
like to make sure I am just not being overly critical of the people who take
my beloved NES games and destroy them.

If you are ever bored or whatever, take a gander at my work, which is a
tribute (for the most part) to older games of the NES and SNES (hell, even
the Colecovision) found on GameFAQs or IGN.

http://www.gamefaqs.com/features/recognition/19608.html

http://users.ign.com/about/bsulpher

If you take a look, enjoy as the NES FAQing crew is a dying breed. If not,
that’s cool too. Have a good one and keep writing about the sad, money
grubbing ports, as I welcome outside opinion on my game purchasing
decisions.

Brian P. Sulpher

Hey, I’m willing to do cheap plugs. Another reason to send in the letters, eh?

I have to same as long as it’s a straight port, I’m in support of that. It’s the only real way for old 8 and 16 bit classics to reach the average gamer. I want Battletoads on the GBA! I want Baseball Stars on the GBA! I want Golgo 13 on the GBA! And on and on. Screw 19$ ports of Xevious and Pac-Man, which you can already get for 15$ on the Pac-Man collection making the re-release completely asinine. Give us games we can’t get otherwise that are beloved by all! But don’t tweak the gameplay. Don’t even think about it.

And I’ll end this mailbag with a letter from John Derry about a game that has just come out.

Have you heard anything about this game? Its a mech, slight rpg, turn based, i guess you would call it a Stratagy rpg. I know what your thinking, ” But john, you dont like strat rpg’s !” . Well for some reason this one has caught my attention. I have played the demo my distributor gave me from E3 and i have had a ball playing all the missions. Decent graphics, awesome Fmv’s (of course its the hated Square-enix machine). But i have a feeling this one’s gonna at least pique your interest too, if you like mech games. You dont customize skills or anything but you can customize the crap out of the mech itself, and as you get higher levels, you get better at operating the mech and thus get better stats plus you buy new weaps, armor, body types, arms, legs, paint jobs , the whole nine yards. You can equip backpacks for repairs, turbo charged attacks, item carrying, etc. The story i saw (which really was just snapshots of a story) seemed like, if done right, it would be a good story. Lets pray Square gets one right in this gen of consoles so we dont have to hear your damn complaining so loudly. ;)

john derry

Well I would normally say Sakura Taisen is a better Mech RPG is every aspect and those that drool over Front Mission just haven’t gotten a chance to import the SW series. But in English Front Mission is as good as Mech games get, aside from Vanguard Bandits that is. It’s a decent series in it’s own right, and I had the demo of the game, but I gave it to a friend who loves the series and figured it might as well go to someone who appreciates it, right?

I haven’t played it, but looking at GameRankings.com, the majority of gamers are saying it’s a decent game, but not great. And knowing what I do of the FM series, I’d say that would probably be my comments as well if I had played it. I know that the friend who has my demo copy said that FM4 is just more of the same. So I’ll go with his opinion as he’s played it.

And that’s it for this mailbag. I still have enough emails to do a few more mailbags, and maybe in doing these, I’ll get the desire to do something non mail or folklore related in the near future. But then, I said I was taking a few weeks off from writing, and after that Pillmanized neck on Monday, I’ll be recovering from more than that too, eh? ;-)