Retrograding Mailbag 02.17.03

Right, well I’m holding off on the Shining Force discussion, as 2-3 of you had a point that I should put it up along with the Shining SOUL review I’ll be doing as they will complement each other nicely. So the week of the 17th will be Shining Force week here at 411games. As well, I have a few nifty Retrograding surprises that will be coming up in the next week or two. But first, let’s do letters.

This would be to answer your question about what kind of gamer this reader of yours is, and what does he do with what you say in your columns.

So anyhow, if you really want some profile of me, I was a hardcore gamer ’til my college days, where my SNES procured me the moments I enjoyed the most out of being a gamer (those moments being laughing my ass off at Earthworm Jim, making Samus blast her way around Metroid, playing and re-playing FF3 (yep!), and on top of them all, playing the best game ever in Chrono Trigger, and playing it again, and again, and again…). It was obvious I would become a game geek ever since I first played eyes on my cousin playing his Commodore 64. I think he still regrets letting me try it. I could NOT be separated from this thing. And there was those other cousins and friends of mine, whatever they had, Atari, NES, Intellivision ( ! ), I would stuck on these things like a leech. My days of owning the master system were excruciating, but I’ve been through that already, then my SNES and the moments I listed above. *Look vaguely in the air* Those were the days….

After college things changed… First the next gen consoles were out, meaning no more good things to come for the SNES. I was more than happy to keep playing the games I already had, and got a PSX only when FF7 came out. I did enjoy the game, and FF Tactics a few months later, but around that time I got my first job too. Now, for sure the job has left me less time to play games, but at the same time the urge to play them started to fade away as well, coupled with the seemingly decreased quality in games… from my point of view, with no internet where to get reviews, only rentals could give me a peek to games I could like, and the video rental stores in my area screwed up BIG time, failing to actually put GOOD games on the shelves. And FF8 alone brought my gaming interest to an all time low. Then I tried to spike it up with the sequel I tought I’d never see: Chrono Cross. This game could only be excellent! It got perfect 10 reviews! Now you’re talking! This will bring the passion back in me… I played through it once and never picked it up again. Now THIS got me thinking. Everyone was raving about the replayability of the game, getting all the characters, multiple endings, optional quest and whatever, but I just wasn’t compelled to play the game again. So I basically told myself maybe I grew over video games and left it at that.

For 2 years anyway. For a few months now I’ve been picking up a few things and playing them. But it’s still old school stuff! I still don’t own a new console and don’t feel like getting one, but I’m playing stuff like Masters of Orion II and a buch of classics with emulators (sorry!). So your column (especially the RPG one) was a God-send to me! It’s not that I actually take everything you say as “the word of God”, but you’ve reminded me of stuff I used to hear about and said “I need to check that out”, but ended up forgetting (Phantasy Star, Shining Force and Secret of Mana, for instance). Also I’m willing to try some of your other suggestions. If a video game trading store will take my FF8 for Valkyrie Profile I’ll have the biggest grin you’ll even see a man have (I am confident in finding VP, it’s not a very old game and I’ve seen quite a few copies on the stores’ shelves, Persona 2 is another story…). And there are games you named that I don’t feel like trying at this point (Lunar). I take some, I let some. But your suggestions are always welcomed and you are excellent at pointing out the goods AND the bads about a game, wich allows me to find what I’m most likely to enjoy.

Speaking of which, I’m sorry to bug you again but I’d really like a look at the Mana and SF series, would you tell me about them? (as much or as little as you like, or just “No thanks”) And your books too! Really, what are they about?

Lastly, I thought this could be subject for a column (if not I’d like some info from you, or a link) : The history of GameFAN. I never read ‘zines that much but the few pages of this thing I have flipped did leave a good impression on me. I’d like to know mostly why it ended, but also what they had over the competition, their high points, how they started, whatever info you have…

By God, if you actually made it through here… thanks! As always I’m looking forward to read your stuff (news, reviews, rambles and whatnot…)

Take care.

Serge Levesque
La Pocatiere, Canada

Well, I am doing the Shining Force article. A history on Game fan would be a tad bit hard unless I could track down ECM and Mana is a possibility for the future.

I read your review of Lunar Legends, a game I was tempted to
purchasing. However, I have never played SSS or Eternal Blue. I went to
my store yesterday and they had both LL and SSSC. Both are around the same
price, so which would you recommend as the better purchase?

I’d go with the PSX version for the FMV, voice acting, outtakes, Lords of Lunar, documentary and all the rest.

Just thought I’d make a comment or two on today’s mailbag edition…

I’ve never played All Flesh Must Be Eaten, though I’ve thumbed through the
manuals briefly at a gaming store (I don’t generally like hanging around
there too long; kind of a creepy place)… is it a good drop-in type game if
you have a week where not everyone can be there? Nothing like a good
Romero-type game to get the adrenaline pumping, particularly if it doesn’t
matter (and might in fact be PREFERABLE) if everybody dies by the end :)

I’ve got to agree on Call of Cthulhu, though I’ve never played it tabletop
either, only in pbem form. Beyond the Mountains of Madness is quite possibly
the very best supplement I’ve ever seen, for ANY game.

The sheer amount of raw information is staggering, and crucial for people
like me who love to game but have anal players who want obscure technical
info for period games. It doesn’t feel at all tacked-on to At the Mountains
of Madness, and in fact since the players get acquainted with the game
setting before they even read the story, when they DO get a chance to read
the text, it adds an even eerier level to the game. Even having read the
story first, I went back and read it again and it was eerie to see
references to the Starkweather-Moore Expedition. The writers of the
supplement did a tremendous job of fleshing out things that Lovecraft only
hinted at or referred to obliquely in his story, and it all just meshes
together so well… I’m trying to get the nerve up to run it in pbem form
now, if I can find the time, patience, and players. Perhaps one day…

A female Cthulhu fan! How way cool is that? I heartily praise All Flesh must be Eaten and plug it once again as a company that buys stuff from me! ( I think Horror on the Orient Express is THE Call of Cthulhu supplement, but it is crazy expensive!

hey man, that captain N refrence brought back some great memories. i still
remember the episode where the dude was brainwashed by king hippo in a
washing machine. King hippo fo life.

ima give you MY idea for a show, but it aint for kids and doesnt feature
your guidelines. it just came to me and i laughed my ass off.

Parappa the Rapper (A behind the Retrograding special)

We begin with parappa being on the top of the video game rap industry with
the success of his debut game. Everything is looking great for the now
millionare parappa and all of his friends, and he promises to release a new
game ASAP.

The follow-up game is constantly delayed, though he does a cameo in
guitarist Lammy’s above average debut game. Master Onion claims he was in
this game as well to pay his welfare checks after Parrappa took all the
royality money from the first game. Parappa denies this and in 2002 finally
releases his second game.

These were not good times for parappa. Going through money faster than MC
hammer, parappa soon went bankrupt after people complained it was just too
much like his first game and P2 was relagated to bargin bin status.

Now Near homeless from the poor sales of the terrible parappa 2 and unable
to rap anymore because of a drug addiction supplied by the guy from REZ
(whos techno game suffered a manufacturing shortage forcing him to deal
heroin on the side to make ends meat), Parappa reaches rock bottom.

He tries to do a complete turn around by going into the M rated games with
his debut as “Parappa the Raper: you better give me my money bitch.”

The game never comes out, and parappa is sent even furthur into his downward
spiral. He loses his long-time girl Sunny Funny after she finds him in bed
with Lammy and Kitty Kat. Sunny leaves him for C-Bear.

Now at rock bottom, he finally gets the strength to finally overcome his
addictions and rap again. He returns to the original image he was so
successful with, cleans up his drug addiction, and vows to succeed in
Parappa 3…

he then gets shot in a drive by Biggie style by Joe Chin.

best vidoe gaming show ever. Jesus, put this on Adult Swim (thats cartoons
for adults over here in the states on cartoon network) and it would make

See, this is here to show you the weird shit I get every week. I also love Adult Swim. Sealab2021 is great and I own every episode of that, Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Elisa thinks Meatwad looks like a testicle with arms) and of course SPAAAAAAAAACE GHOOOOOOST!

Hi Alex

Just returning the shout out, for the 411 mention.

Congrats for writing for my favourite wrestling website.


Paul Moseley AKA Steve Austin Powers

I figure at this rate, every ITSC’er will get a letter published in here, just because I can. Yes people, this is how Alex abused his power. By inserting a letter each week from an old wrasslin’ chat buddy. Am I lame or what?

First of all, you should play Record of Lodoss War again (assuming is
the Dreamcast version). I felt the same way the first time I played it,
and then about 6 months to a year later, I played it again, and it was
just as good as the first time. Better, in fact, because I truly knew
wtf I was doing! So I recommend it again.

And I was wondering about two games that I don’t recall you ever
mentioning, but your review of Vanguard Bandits got me thinking: have
you ever played Front Mission 3 or Vagrant Story? FM3 sounds similar to
VB because it’s a mech strategy game. The problem with FM3 is a) the
dialogue and characters are awful and b) it’s JUST battles and menus,
which is fairly standard for strategy games. Pros for the game are a)
insane customization of your mechs, b) a built in internet type of thing
where you can try to hack into networks and stuff and c) the story is
decent. Oh, also, there are two branching paths you can take with two
different endings. Also, it’s basically in a futuristic version of our
world, which makes it seem more realistic. I recommend it if you like
mech sims.

Vagrant Story, however, is one of my favorite games, one of those that
come out of nowhere and bite you on the ass. Other games like that have
been Valkyrie Profile (didn’t read any reviews, didn’t know anything
about it, but I got it because I’m big on Norse mythology) and Skies of
Arcadia (Dreamcast + Skies = the best purchase in my life, BTW, got
Skies Legends today and can’t wait to play it!). Vagrant Story reminds
me a lot of Parasite Eve because of the targeting sphere and such, and
the battles are just hella fun. Add in a fabulous story, atmosphere
that you can feel, and nice weapon customizations, and you have a sweet
game. I’m sure you have played and and probably don’t like it, but I
thought I’d mention it anyway.

Well, this little Square Whore will leave now. You should be happy
though. I’ve avoided the Bouncer and Driving Emotion Type S like the
plague. :)


God do I hate Vagrant Story. Love Valkyrie Profile, but Vagrant Story was like Legend of Dragoon to me. I’d rather hug a cactus than play either of those again.

Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your latest column on 411. Nice to see
another fan of Valkyrie Profile (a game which I have still yet to finish,
sadly enough though). Your comments on voice acting reminded me that the
actors who do the American voices of Brock, Misty & Ash also have roles in
VP. I kept expecting Llewelyn to cry out “Valkyrie, I choose you!”.

Hopefully, I’ll get to finish it soon (and Pokemon Yellow and Vagrant Story
and Jade Cocoon and FF6-9 + Tactics and…yes, I have too many games).

Keep up the good work.

–Katie White

Man, so many Valkyrie Profile and Pokemon fans at 411! I think they’ll have a nice shock in the upcoming weeks!

What’s the Sega Smash pack?

There are four different answers to this. There’s one for the DC with a lot of great games, and two different versions for the PC. All are collections of old Sega Genesis games and all are easily worth your money. They is also a crappy one for the GBA with Echo the Dolphin, Golden Axe, and Sonic Spinball!

You and your goddamn Pokemon. Sheesh. But that lil’ Pokemon Pinball sounds cool…I still have the original one.

Hey, someone had to cover the Pokemon mini! And being the only person to touch the GBA here (except Mr. Berg who gave a nice praise of the GBA).

And that’s it for this latest mailbag edition. Keep those emails piling up in my inbox!