Retrograding Mailbag 01.24.03

You know it surprised me the other day when the excellent Joseph Stanley mentioned Jason Masters tried an “Ask 411 games” column that failed. I mean, I get enough emails and questions from you guys to do a weekly mailbag issue for you. Maybe the time just wasn’t right, but I think it’s a kick ass idea. So go do it people!

Okay, first your letters, than a weird idea I’m gonna spring on you guys simply to increase reader/Alex interaction and hopefully give you guys some fun. If this works, I may unleash an idea Bebito and I have kicked around upon you all. So be afraid!

I like your columns more and more. And if you haven’t, check out
“Emperor of Dreams” by Clark Ashton Smith(part of the Fantasy
Masterworks series). He was a friend and influence(and influenced by)
of HPL. Knowing you, you know this already, though.

Well, I Do know of the Fantasy Masterpiece series, but any plug of good literature deserves a spot in the mailbag! Speaking of that, I wonder how many people went to the library and read some Lovecraft?

Alex….you big stud. How’ve you been?
Imagine…a lowly ITSC’er working with the big boys…there’s hope for me yet!!!!
Take care,
Chris Back AKA DogLeg

Okay, this is obviously Alex abusing his power. I used to visit back in the 90’s (AKA the bronze era of wrestling.) and made some friends there. There too I was known as the crazy nut with too much knowledge of pop culture, video games and literature. DogLeg and I once filled this poor wrestling forum with a conversation about Arthur Conan Doyle! This is here mainly to say I miss all my friends who abandoned that board and to have them email me as I’d like to get in touch with old friends like Prince, Steve Austin Powers, and so on. Hopefully I won’t get in trouble for mentioning another wrestling page!

Now for some Hp Lovecraft related shiznit. Yeah I know, I can’t believe I said Shiznit either.

Incidentally, you may be interested in one of these links:
Another Lovecraft-inspired game, for PC, with download available:
The Lurking Horror. An infamous terror game. Entirely text-based, and I admit
I haven’t played it, but I think I shall have to do so. This should almost
definitely be worth your time:

I’m very tempted to do a column on all text based games, like Zork and the like. What do you guys think?

Yeah, if I ever see Hell Night for a decent price (10-15 ish £) I’ll be sure
to pick it up.. I’m hyped for it. For Clock Tower also, which I have found a
second hand copy of on Amazon for…£34. Owch. There’s a copy going for only
a couple of pounds on eBay, but there are 3 days left and a couple of others
have been bidding on it consecutively… looks like I’m going to have to be
bastard and try swooping in at the last moment, at that price..

But wahey! (Which I am almost confident is a phrase you’d never hear in your
home country. Or in this one anymore, sadly) I’ve just bought a copy of
Koudelka, second-hand via for £10, in apparently excellent
condition. There’s another one there for the same price, too. Hurrah. Hmm, my
student loan got paid to me the other day. I’m supposed to be saving up for a
trip to Anaheim to visit some friends in the summer… I fear that, because
of your colum, I’m going to end up spending it all on obscure Playstation
(and if I can find them, Saturn) games instead. Hah.

I hope you enjoy Koudelka. I hate the thought of people spending money they should be using on other things on video games. Needs over wants. Just remember that everyone.

Just thought I’d drop you a line as I really enjoyed reading your column about
Lovecraft and his influence. The list of games you covered all sound amazing,
and I’m definitely going to get more information on some of them (I’ve played a
few, but not all). It’s so great to hear about Lovecraft from another fan.
Personally, I think he’s an amazing writer who gets the atmosphere perfect in
almost all of his stories. I’m so glad you decided to write this column; it was
very interesting, thourough, and educational. You’ve inspired my to dig out my
collections again and start reading. I always liked ‘Whisperer in the
Darkness’, ‘The Dunwich Horror’, and ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ (in addition
to Cthulu of course).

Finally, you mentioned in the column that you wondered why people read your
column. For me it’s probably because you’re very knowledgeable and well thought
out. I’d consider myself somewhere between casual gamer and hardcore gamer
(leaning more towards hardcore) and usually your thoughts and ideas are similar
to mine. I love old games, too (I’m actually a big game freak; not just video,
but board games as well).

Anyway, sorry this is so long, but I really wanted to tell you how much I
appreciated a Lovecraft-ish column.

Aaron Marriner

Man, Cthulhu fans abound! Glad to see all the people who wrote me in regards to Lovecraft. He’s the best author you’ve never heard of. I like Cthulhu Board games myself. If anyone has or knows of a cheap copy of “Arkham Horror” let me know! Chaosium is supposedly re-releasing it in 2k3, so look for this awesome board game!

Another Cthulhu tip is to rent the movie DAGON. GREAT movie version of ËœThe Shadow over Innsmouth’ with one big change. But it’s a good one.

Well, you’ve finally provided a convincing enough arguement
to play Koudelka…


I have no idea how to take this? Did the person just NOT like Koudelka from reviews and gossip? Or was I that spiffy of a writer?

I knew this was coming from the moment I saw your acceptance speech for
Bebito’s award… Although that said, given your previously-admitted proclivities
for high-quality scariness, I should have guessed… I was walking through Hyde
Park with some friends of mine last weekend, and as we passed the lunatics at
Speaker’s Corner, one suggested he come back another day to preach the words
of Lovecraft, and tell the world of the Great Old Ones…

Our running joke is that we’d be OK if we ever came up against them, because
we’re all so mad already, their insanity-causing tricks wouldn’t work. It’s like the
idea of being immune to Jedi mind tricks because you’re too dense, and not even a
Jedi can make something out of nothing.. ;)

I don’t why you even bothered mentioning Splatterhouse; it was never scary, just

Don’t worry about influencing people: How many folks out there actually own
Saturns? That said, your reade rship *are* the sort who would ;)

Quietly, I think might find most of your readers are veterans, rather than
neophytes. If I think of the casual gamers I know, most would take a quick look at
the column, think ‘this guy’s so old-fashioned’ and leave. You might have a few
casuals who you’re converting/brainwashing (!) but I’d guess your audience is
mostly hardcore.

One last thing: Get your SNES emulator out and, if you’ve not got it already,
download Zombies Ate My Neighbours. The game that was spoofing horror films
before Hollywood ever did. Lucasarts even sent *themselves* up in one of the
bonus levels…

Have fun, and don’t set your alarm clock too loud: you never know WHO you
might wake up :D


Geez! I’m only 25 people! And I have ZAMN for the Sega genesis. But me use an emulator? BUM BUM BUM! We all know the answer to that!

And I liked the first Splatterhouse!

Hey Alex,
Just thought I’d send you a reply to your questions posed at the end of your
column. I think I’ve read everything you wrote so far, and I really like
it. I’m one of those casual gamers who was hocked to hear you call the
Final Fantasy series mediocre, as I consider FF3 (US) to be the best RPG
I’ve played (I loved the 2nd half of the game. The first half I could live
without.) And I’ll admit, as you seen to be a guy who knows his stuff, I
started looking into some of the games you recommended, especially the
Persona series. I haven’t bought it yet, but I might, if I ever were to get
some free time. Anyways, that’s just the opinion of one long-time reader,
first-time writer. Keep up the good work.

-Dave Nupp

SEE? FF fans like my stuff. And I’m glad to hear even people who like games I don’t respect my stuff, just as I respect their opinions. BTW, I’ve only been writing for a month. Does it really seem that long for the rest of you guys?

Hi. I’m a long time reader of the 411 games section, first time mailer. I
really enjoy the game reviews & info on the site. Very informative,
especially since I just don’t have the time to game like I used to.

I fall into the category of ‘casual gamers getting their horizons expanded’
and your column on Survival-Terror did just that.

I’m a big fan of Silent Hill. I lost interest in RE a long time ago. But I
thought I was big into the Survival-Horror genre. Boy did you prove me
wrong. I’ve heard of a total of 4 games on your list. Like I said, I just
don’t get around like I used to, I also try to stay away from games for
defunct systems, unless I can find them emulated.

Your column really offered me some prospects & some motivation to go out &
look for some of these. Maybe I’ll even hook the ol’ PS1 back up to the tv.

I hardly use my PC for games, but if you’ve got some recommendations for
recent S-T PC games I’ll definitely keep an eye out in your columns for
them. And if you write any more in-depth looks at the genre I’d love to read
that too.

Thanks for the column.

Hooray! Broadening the minds of the unenlightened! I’m a god! A golden god! MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!. Nevermind…

Are the games I’m recommending really that obscure. I wish he would have said which he had heard of. I’m guessing Alone in the Dark is one, but I guess since these are the games I hunt for, I’m not sure which ones are obscure.’ What do you guys think? Are a lot of the games I bring up being brought to your attention for the first time by me? And if so, do you think it’s poor coverage by the VG media who should be giving equal time to all companies and games, not just the ones that give them big ad revenue? Or are they games you only could hear of by word of mouth? Let me know!

I really like todays article. As a big fan of Lovecraft syle games I was
glad to see an article about them. Usually i pass these game sover b/c I’m
not a fan of Resident Evil type games. My all time favorite role-playing
experience came from being in a Call of Cthulu LARP 3 years ago at a Con.
Since you regarded Koudelka so highly I went out and bought a NEW unopened
copy for $7.49 after S&H. It should give me something to do after I finish
Wild Arms 3 and waiting for my girlfriend to get .hack//infection. I hope to
see more articles about lesser know RPGs in the future.

I wonder how many non Cthulhu fans tried to translate my tagline?
Call of Cthulhu is the BEST tabletop game ever. Bar none. Okay, All Flesh Must be Eaten is a very close second. (Again, this plug for has nothing to do with the fact Alex has written for them…)I’ve never done a Cthulhu LARP, but I think it would be amusing. I know my fiancée is slowly getting interested in RPG’s after the LOTR movies and reading V:TM and Ravenloft books. But it’s hard to find gamers to even TALK to in Surrey county. Well, ones that aren’t creepy, morbidly obese or have a life outside rolling dice. Although I swear that Portland, OR is the city of cities when it comes to scary, hygiene lacking Roleplayers. And I’m smelling the hate mail from Portland already!

I do not consider myself a hardcore gamer. Society might consider me hardcore but to gamers I’m a novice. I’ve only played FF7-10 including FF Tactics, which I will admit is one of the best games I’ve ever played. I haven’t even played classics such as Chrono Trigger or Breath of Fire. But I do love the Final Fantasy series more than any other although I wanna give props up to Legends of Dragoon. Come to think of it Shadow Hearts was pretty good too.
I’m not offended by your article but it didn’t convince me. I’m neutral. I think its a matter of the society and the person. It’s all opinions.
I don’t have any arguments but some opinions like yourself. I did buy Valkryie Profile and played a good portion of it. I have been meaning to restart and finish it, but to tell you the truth it wasn’t that good. That is the parts I did play up too. It’s a bit repetitive and there’s a big chunk of story-telling space with no story. Those individual stories are boring.
Anyway, your overall story did its purpose in getting me to consider all those other RPG’s. Thank you.

And you can’t convince everyone. I personally hated Legend of Dragoon, but am glad to see he like Final Fantasy (OGRE) Tactics. I love the Valkyrie Profile stories, but it is 90% story based, but the combat there is action style tactics. It’s hard to explain but I love it. It’s so different from an RPG, yet easy to learn and hard to master. I can understand from the games he listed that he liked his distaste for VP. He liked RPGS with a little more action. I like good stories. Just a matter of taste. But he is right that VP has very, VERY long stories. Best voice actors ever though! I can’t believe I’m STILL getting mail for a column I did a month ago. I did get one crank letter who knew next to nothing about video games, was an obvious Square fan boy and demonstrated an inability to write cohesively, and I do save those to give to friends to laugh at. Like the people who email me who think I’m secretly Dracula because of my name. I do have a really good anti-my column letter I want to print, but it’s one giant text block and I get dizzy looking at it, so gods know what it will look like in italics. But rest assured Dragoonjay, I’d love to put the letter in here

Anyways, an attempt at reader interaction. We’re thinking of doing some tongue in cheek stuff at 411games, and here’s just a little taste to see if readers want it or not. If this bombs, you won’t hear about it anymore, but at least I gave it a shot right.

Okay: Remember Captain N: The Gamemaster? High ratings grabbing cartoon in the 80’s. You had a guy with a light gun zapped into the Nintendo world where he teamed up with Mega Man, Kid Icarus, Simon Belmont, and later Link and Zelda. They fought Mother Brain, King Hippo, Dr, Wiley, and the Eggplant Wizard, and later Ganon. I think this is amazing in retrospect that Capcom, Konami, and Nintendo got together and made a cartoon jointly using their characters. Of course, nowadays this would be impossible. This was only due to the Big N’s domination with the NES. And of course this show is NOT to be confused with “The Power Team” featuring Acclaim characters like Kwirk, Bigfoot, The guy from Wizard and Warriors, a cop from NARC (BTW, I’d love an update of THAT game) and another kid. That show was loathsome.

My question for readers is this: Let’s say you had the chance to do a modern Captain N. Who would you have in your show. You must use three Publishers and remember, it’s a kid cartoon, not an adult one, so you have to keep that in mind. Pick 4 good guys and 4 bad guys to start and have one back up for each side in case of sagging ratings.

Give me your picks and I’ll give you mine. Again, this is no contest with prizes or anything bribing like that. It’s simple a test to see if readers want some weird interactive crap here at 411games. Sure, maybe my mailbag isn’t the best testing ground for it (I’m sure it gets less hits than my real’ columns) but I figured as this was about getting more letters, it only made sense to put it here.
See you next time!