Retrograding MAILBAG 06.25.04

So much for a vacation, eh? Appearing in Gagnon’s column, doing a Psi-Ops review, adding EB Games Best Sellers List to the news section. And of course, doing mailbags. So much for leisure time, eh?

Regardless, let’s clean out my inbox…

“Be happy, Xenogears did not make it. I find the game overly pretentious and
lame. Death to all things Xeno. Except Xenomorphs. Those rule.”

Bless you, good sir. I couldn’t agree more. The gameplay in Gears sucks as
well, and I laugh at the sucker who bought it off me for 50 bucks.

The sparse bit of gameplay in Saga isn’t bad, but you have to put up with
the terrible, long, annoying cinemas that make one long for The Spirits

The print ads make me absolutely sick and make we want to go on a killing
spree of every magazine writer that contributed those quotes. Going by
concept art, apparently the sequel involves some sort of techno-lesbian
relationship between Shion and KOS-MOS, which, if I’m correct, is creepy on
a lot of levels.

Also, funny thing–you printed the letter of me asking about Big Bang Pro
Wrestling, and I recently found one on Ebay and nabbed it. For any Neo Geo
Pocket Color fans out there, I’ll give a quick run-down. Basically, the
characters are mostly based on famous WWE wrestlers. Your lineup includes :
your Taker knockoff; a big, fat, bald Kevin Nash; a boss based on HBK; two
wrestlers somewhat inspired by the Rock; a martial artist style wrestler;
and a female wrestler with jugs that would get ridicule from Mai and the
cast of Dead or Alive. There are others but I just recently got the game.

There’s a lot crammed into two buttons, but if you get the hang of it it’s a
really fun game. I don’t know of any other portable games that have casket
matches or steel chairs. I don’t know of any other wrestling games at all
where the referee checks to see if the wrestler’s hand drops 3 times on a
sleeper. You also get close-ups just prior to a finishing move being used,
which looks pretty cool.

It’s not quite a Fire Pro, but it’s along the same lines as far as gameplay.
So if any other NGPC owners happen to get a chance, I recommend giving it
a shot, but prepare to be frustrated until you figure it all out.

-Andrew Skocik

Hey, I recently read your post concerning the US release of SMT 3. I’ve been
researching elsewhere and it seems several other sites have heard similar
rumours, though their information is sketchy at best. I was curious as to
whether or not the rumours had been confirmed yet, and if so have Atlus put
forward a US release date?

Any information you have would be much appreciated, get back to me whenever
you can…

-Eric Draven

Yes. Even the Crow writes me. Nocturne hits US shores Sept 21st. Mark it on your calendar. Or not, because it will probably get pushed back a few months. Like every other game on the planet.

He also gave me a follow up letter

Thanks for the info…one last question though. Now that the US release has
been confirmed, will SMT later be shipped over to Europe aswell, or will as
Brits have to get imports?


Sorry, but Atlus does not Publish in Europe. Much like Hell Night, another Excellent Atlus game that ever gamer should own, SMT3N will have to be localized to PAL shores by someone else. And that is very, VERY unlikely to ever happen.

And SPEAKING of Hell Night…


I’ve been reading your Retrograding column on since last October. I actually read your Halloween edition. I’ve been meaning to e-mail you about that game Hell Knight since I read that edition (I’ve just been putting it off for a long while I guess).

My copy of Hell Knight is actively collecting dust. I’ve had it for years and from what I see, I’m the only one who had it over here so I was surprised when I saw you mention it. I think I only played it a few times before I just decided it was too difficult.

I don’t know about you but I think the game is a bit unbalanced especially concerning the monster. Hiding from it in rooms doesen’t help a lot since it might still be around. Sometimes I wait in a room for 10 minutes and it’s still waiting for me outside. Also, the fact that you can get tired while running doesen’t help since this monster is the fastest one that I’ve ever encountered
in a survival horror game. Scissorman (and anything that came from RE) should definitly be ashamed of its stalking prowess when compared to this thing. Another problem is you get two hits. The monster catches you and hits you once, your companion is dead (the school girl I believe), second hit and you’re dead.

All in all, I find the story and designs pretty engaging. The Tokyo Underground is so vast and dark, it really gives off a sense of loneliness and fear. I mean, I kept asking, “Where is everybody else?”

Anyways, the main reason I wrote is because of your recent edition of
Retrograding. You finally arrived at one of my favorite games, Legend of Mana. I
was really happy reading what you had to say about the game and I got a sense of
nostalgia. Thank you for that and thank you for devoting a good amount of space
in your column for it.

Immedietly after reading your column, I started looking for my copies of old games. I was happy to discover my old copies of Thousand Arms, Guardian’s Crusade, Top Shelf and most especially, Rhapsody (All had little scratches meaning I never played them enough). I think you’re the only one that I ever heard of who appreciated the simple joy of playing Rhapsody.

Anyways, thank you for writing your Retrograding article, it’s always fun and informative to read what you have to say.

Thank you,
JS Calalay

Damn man, is this letter doesn’t inspire a person to track down a copy of Hell Knight, then they have no soul. That simple. I love how you can have to sit there for ten minutes in a room hoping the Monster isn’t there. Talk about getting you engaged in the game!

But speaking of the countdown (Man, look at these near seamless segueways this week), let’s get back to some letters people shared with me on various games.

Legend of Mana

I’M TRYING SO HARD TO BE NICE, but PLEASE, stop this madness.
You just happen to list FF and Chrono Cross as the games you hate by Square, but not the least popular Mana game? How am I not to see the whole “I love obscure stuff and HATE POPULAR stuff ’cause I’m ‘Hardcore!!1111’ pattern? The characters in Mana? Either you’re insane or desperate to be known as a free-thinker.


I never get how people come to this conclusion that I hate popular games. Pokemon people. I AM A POKEMON ADDICT! Is there any game more mainstream than Pokemon??? I just don’t like most Square games because they neither challenge me or captivate me.

But as I said in my countdown about LoM, it’s superior to Sword and Secret because of the uniqueness of the story telling. Same great gameplay, but completely original and amazing way of playing a game and telling the tale within. I called it an anthology of short stories compared to a High Fantasy Novel which most RPG’s are, and I loved the concept. Sticking with my guns that Legend is the best of the series.

Dark Wizard

I loved this game. I found it at a flea market for $5 and never once did I regret buying it. And the music was awesome. I recorded a lot of the tracks to a cassette and listened to them when I was studying or whatnot. Great choice. :-)

-Chad Dupree

Thanks for the letter Chad. And damn, 5 bucks for this game. Amazing. As well, Chad’s recovering from surgery, so I’d just like to wish him well.

“Become in any way shape or form someone who uses magic in the slightest and you might as well have a big sign around your neck reading, “I stab people in the back. Don’t trust me.” And it’s true.”

Damn you, stop telling people these things! It’s supposed to be a sekrit.

It’s nice to know there’s a good SegaCD game I haven’t played yet. Must hunt it down…


Oh Frankie. There are lots of GREAT SegaCD games. Did you miss our feature?

Three of the theme’s (all but Crystal’s) are available here, for those of you into piratude:


Hey, it’s music. Not the whole game. And how else will you ever get to hear them, right?


Lunar…..ya know, i never actually finished that one. I bought it about 2 weeks after i bought my ps2 and played half of it and it kind of just got lost in the shuffle. Ill have to break that one out again. Great game.

-John Hall

Yes. Yes you need to pull it back out. The game gets better and better the longer you play it. Truly a work of art.

Revelations Persona: Be Your True Mind

Time to dig out my copies and play a little bit of Persona.

I still wish Atlus would re-release them.


I would love a Persona collection. ATLUS! Make it!

ok. Needs me some persona.


Yes. Yes you do. EVERYONE needs Persona.

And now a conversation between myself and the earlier letter writer, Frankie23 about Persona.

Games I’d love to play, if I could ever find copies. I know, eBay, but that place is dangerous for me.

I note you state that Nyarlathotep is the Voice of God in the game. Is there any implied relation to the Metatron, who is also known as such? Because, that’d be damn funny, as Metatron is my favourite angel, and Nyarlathotep is my preferred Cthulu Mythos diety.

Kind of.

Nyarlathotep is the voice and soul of the Outer Gods, and because he is aware of not only himself but everythign else that is, he is technically the most powerful character in all of the Cthulhu Mythos.

His role as the voice of God is because he is the Voice of Azazoth, the blind, deaf, dumb god that is the mindless nuclear energy that both creates and destroys.

So yes, in a way there is a dark pervision of Metatron and God with Nyarlathotep and Azazoth. However, Metatron serves God willingly, while Nyarlathotep has his own plans and schemes and quite frankly Azazoth only gives two hoots about music.

Intriguing, very intriguing. I’ve been fascinated with Nyarlathotep for years. I remember during an improv noise jam with some friends of mine, I wrapped a scarf around my head, pulled it down past my eyes, and declared myself to be the Pied Piper of Nyarlathotep, as I was playing a weird little wooden penny whistle that couldn’t play a non-grating tone for the life of it. Creeped the hell out of me later on when I was reading more Lovecraft and read about Nyarlathotep’s pipers who played for Azatoth. As I got more into chaos-stuff, I began to appreciate the Crawling One more and more.

I’d disagree with Metatron serving God “willingly” though. The angels don’t really have free will, at least not fully. That’s why Lucifer rebelled. Of course, by the fact that he did rebel, you could argue that he did have free will, so I suppose it’s a horribly circular arguement, yes? :)

Exactly. Metatron serves God willingly because, hey he had the chance to rebel with ol’ Lucifer but stayed with God. thus he made his choice. As much of a choice as Angels can make I guess.

Name another video game that can inspire THAT level of conversation…

Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention

You have no idea how much you’re making me hate you, for describing such
great games that me and my non-console-owning ass can’t play! Koudelka
sounds bloody great, except for… it’s a tactics game with only 3
characters? The great thing about games like Shining Force over other
tactics games was that it was about building a party of characters, and not
just “I have 2 archers and a mage, and here’s my fighter.” I always had an
attachment to my earlier characters and would choose them over new ones
(although that was also because I could make them more powerful) unless I
had no other choice.

Speak of the devil! Huzzah! Shining Force!

I’m already growing somewhat jaded with FF:TA, which has proven to me that
it really is an excellent game, but I’m stuck in this muddle of nothingness.
I’ve gotten a good mix of characters with a good range of talents, but it
seems like the game has stagnated 1/3 of the way through with battles
feeling same-old for some reason. Maybe it’s the weight of school bearing

– Parhaum

I think we are all excited about the remake on the GBA. Bebito and I are drooling idiots over it. And hopefully Parhaum got to play it as well.

And it’s great the Shining Force remake is on the GBA because it shows FFTA for the second rate game it is.

And speaking about the Shining Force remake,(Bam! Another Segueway) here’s some feedback from my review of the remake.

Goddamn! Wooooo! I swear only your reviews get me this excited about games. Nothing is this informative or such a pleasure to read. I finished your review and was practically frothing at the mouth (can men froth elswhere?). Anyhow, damn. I have never played Shining Force but I loved Ogre Tactics, so I think I’ll have to go and get a reserve up, just like I did with River City Ransom ’cause Alex has to crack skulls with the aid of Mr. Links.

Thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable read,

You know, these are the emails I love to get! Although I’m hoping you didn’t hate the RCR remake as much as I did…

I’d also like to point out I had the first review of the remake on the net. And the one still considered the best by just about every gamer out there. Hey, what can I say? It’s Shining Force. I deserve to have an ego over that game after all the near psychotic fanboy rambling I’ve done about it for the past year and a half in this column! ;-)

Man, about time; I’ve been waiting for this review.

I like how they’re trying to give characters more backstory when you talk to
them, but the “Hey I might as well tell you my life story” dialog is pretty

And for bad face portraits, what the HELL did they do to Gort and Mae? Man
Gort looked awesome in the original, now he looks like a circus dwarf.

And is it just me or did they make battles a bit easier? The first one in
particular, I remember having to level build a little to win that one
cleanly, but I could have won in this version on my first try without
breaking a sweat.

And one of the best battle themes in the game wasn’t at the right battle
(early when you get Khris), but I can live.

And I’m somewhat surprised they left in the Healer bug. It’s understandable
that healer’s don’t make bank on exp like killing a 48-xp enemy, but it more
than swings the balance the other way with the bug.

But otherwise, great to play and hear about my favorite game of all time.

– P

Nice to see other people agree that even though the game is awesome, some of the new character portraits aren’t as great as they were in the days of Camelot doing the series.

I feel the battles are about the same toughness wise, especially the battle with Colossus. And each time you beat the game, the monsters get tougher the next game around. You can’t beat that!

Finally, I think they left the healer bug because it’s been in every Shining Force game. It may have been a bug in the original version of #1, but I think Camelot kept it in for SF2 and SF3 because it helped Clerics and Monks to reach a viable level compared to the rest of the team. Of course, they still are about 10 levels higher than the other team members. Oops.

So what your really saying is:



Yes I am. Did you buy it John? DID YOU?

My prayers have been answered. Shing Force is back!!!!!!!!!!! And you gave it a good review!!! That HAS to be good news! Now we can just pray they learn from this and give us Shining Force 2 and heck..who knows…maybe this is a sign of good things to come??


Jason’s right. If we all buy a copy of SFGBA, SF2 is sure to come out next. Keep your fingers crossed, because that game is even better than the first.

Sorry..i just wrote you feedback..but i just have to say it one more time. WOOOOOHOOOOOOO! Shining force is BACK! =D

Heh. I think Jason’s a big Shining Force fan too…

I’ll make sure i spread the word around to all Shining Force fans. I actually don’t even own a Gameboy Advance..but i now i have a reason to go buy one. I also forgot to mention that you always do great reviews and to keep up the good work. Take care!

P.S. Don’t worry, this is the last piece of feedback for now! haha.

Stalky Stalky! But hey, everyone should love SF even HALF as much as Jason does.

Hello. I run a game review site called . I started this site to provide a voice for the hardcore gamer. As you know, most “professional” review sites cater towards and revolve around the casual gamer. This is a slanted view, and in my opinion, a detrimental one. Now, to the point. I read your Shining Force review (for the GBA) today, and I must say it was one of the best reviews I have read in a long time. It was quite refreshing. From a fellow reviewer, I just want to offer my hand in respect. Keep up the good work.

– S-Hiryu

Again, thanks for the praise everyone. Glad to see how respected my SF review was. And of course, I plug is site in return. ;-)
One day I’ll get sick of you writing about Shining Force. That day isn’t today. I still own my Nomad and SF but I’ll be buying this too in order to support it.


p.s. Zylo always sucked ass after the level up, I take it he gets better if I’m patient (I’m not very good with patience, though I don’t cheese my clerics or the eggress, though for a good Zylo I might change that… Zylo is far better than Lemon by the way.)?

OMGWTFLOL!!11!! Aaron, Zylo is god. EVERY character sucks after the class change, but Zylo…oh wow. Zylo is the best character in the game. Then Balbaroy. Then probably Guntz with a Speed Ring. Although in the remake Musashi and Hanzou are the best by far.

So I went to buy Shining Force for GBA (will not call it stupid new name, thank you very much) and I went to like 4 stores and couldn’t figure out why no one had it. So eventually I just asked (was looking forward to finding it myself and being gleeful) and of course they had it behind the counter all along. I figured it might just be that store. So I checked the others. Same thing. Then they’ll wonder why people aren’t buying it. Amazing.


And this my friends, is why I hate most video game stores and their employees. There are obvious exceptions like our pal Christian at Game Crazy, but damn…most are clueless in terms of the variety that is actually out there for the gamer. If the people hawking the games are dunderheads, how do we expect the average gamer to make wiser game purchases?

And that’s enough on Shining Force for this week. I’m going to answer a few varied letters on the countdown that don’t fit and then we’ll call it a column.

Hey, I checked your preamble to see if you covered this in the beginning, but why aren’t there more pc RPG’s on the list. Particularly all the noteworthy D&D games that have come out since pc gamings inception up until the modern era? I know everyone has their own tastes and preferances, however it seems to me as though RPG’s shine on the pc, perhaps do to the anal-retentive, socially lacking, too-much-time-on-their-hands personalities that favor both the medium and the experiance.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Richard Mimms

Hey Richard. As noted in my EOTB and Bard’s Tale entries, I just didn’t get to play too many PC games growing up. And even now, I really only play EWR and TNW on my computer. Only recent PC games I have enjoyed are Necronomicon, both of Dreamcatcher’s Dracula games and Arcanum. And I don’t have too much time on my hands! Free time is a rare commodity in the Hickenbottom household.

just read through most of your retrograding column and I must say I’m a
pretty big fan. I found it searching for “Shining the Holy Arc” on Google,
if you can imagine that. If you can handle my rather lengthy e-mail, I
figure I’d mention a few things.

First, a little bit of background. Most of the time I think you’re inside
my head as a gamer. Most of the games you mention or that are on your list
are games I own/cherish or that I’ve always wanted to play. I am totally in
love with both the Saturn and the psx. I may even have a few import games
you haven’t heard of. I have a Pocketstation on my keychain, played an
original version of Panzer Dragoon Saga, and I like Junon from Dragon Force
as much as you do. If you haven’t seen it, try and find an audio track on
the Dragon Force CD. You get a cute warning from the voice actors that the
dynamic data tracks can blow out your speakers. :)

And I envy your Thousand Arms drinking game. I’ve played through the
translated version of Bloody Bride. Most people I talk to could care less
about games like Power Shovel or Hyper Duel. I played through all of the
Bard’s Tale when it was new. (Now, I might think Pool of Radiance was a
better game, but that’s besides the point.) I am apparently also the same
age as you and a grad school drop-out (but recently gone back for an MBA
instead) as well.

With the bizarre coincidences aside, let me make a few comments. First, the
brief stuff. You said Tactics Ogre is the only series you know is getting
better with each release. Well, Monster Rancher is another prime example.
Every game is even shockingly better than the last. I’ve always loved it
better than Pokemon and for good reason. Monster Rancher 3 is a modern
gaming classic. If you can’t love a hare or one of those duck-things you
have no soul. Even Monster Rancher Hop-A-Bout is a bizarre but charming
game, kazoo and all. And cheap.

You also mentioned the stellar graphics in Panzer Dragoon Saga that still
hold up today. Well, in some ways yes, but the texturing and coloration
show their age. You can tell from the get-go the models are out of date and
most things are 2 or 3 colors at most. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the
game. It’s one of only three games I’ve ever played that I regard as
actually cinematic (and not a wannabe). The others are Metal Gear Solid 2
and Final Fantasy X (gasp). While I’m at it, I should mention the god-awful
clipping and graphical errors all over the place. That wasn’t just shoddy
programming, it was the technology and the state of graphics then. That
stuff is painfully noticeable. In many ways I had to get used to the
graphics in Panzer Dragoon Saga. So I suppose I disagree.

Thus, I might sound kind of negative, but there’s not that many differences
in opinion that we have so that makes them interesting. The real comment I
wanted to make is about Final Fantasy 8. Sure you love FF1, 2, and 9. I
can understand 1 and 2, and your love of 9 must be all nostlagia because it
sure wasn’t the hackneyed plot and atrociously high encounter rate (Tales of
Destiny 2-esque). Or the shit-tastic bastard son of Triple Triad (an
amazing game still played online to this day), Tetra Master.

But I think you must have missed something in FF8. Let me try and convince
you, the anti-Square person you claim to be. Let me first make a list of
common misconceptions about the game:

1. You want to be as high a level as possible

2. Summoning Guardian Forces is not only preferable, it’s the best way to
fight battles

3. It wasn’t innovative

The first two claims are cut-and-dried. Most people will never know this
(and it’s never in FAQs), but the monsters actually level faster than you
do. I ended the game at Level 13, as low as you can nearly manage. That’s
why all the boss battles don’t give you XP, only AP. Levels are bad, and
they had to cap them at 100 so you didn’t royally f*ck yourself. Not only
that, but the strongest party in FF8 was one making full use of junctions,
magic, and melee weapons. Not only was summoning GFs not necessary, it was
often weaker in many circumstances. And of course, you can’t really use GFs
at the end anyway. This dodges the issue of the painfully long GF
animations, which I agree can suck hard after you’ve seen them a few times.

Maybe you’re with me so far, but you directly called FF7 and 8 derivative
pieces of trash that only innovated in graphics. The latter is certainly
true, and FF8 is still one of the only games for the system to overlay
playable areas on top of FMV sequences. FF8 had actual actors map out the
motions in the CGI and I’m pretty sure that was not the norm back then.

But what I think you’re missing is how FF8 stood nearly every traditional
turn-based RPG notion on its head. I may as well make a list to avoid

Most RPGs Final Fantasy 8
Earn money from monsters Get a salary from SeeD
Buy weapons and armor No armor, weapons put together as
Separate systems for money, items Completely fungible commodities of
magic and whatever else items, magic, and money that
interrelated in clever ways
Save the world, become a hero Mostly a love story (still rare in
RPGs even today,
and a huge risk even
Magic points or meter Drawing of magic as a commodity
and junctioning tool
Mostly male leads, mostly male cast, Nearly every main character is
female, most are realistically
male villian, flat female characters portrayed with semi-realistic
proportions; Main villian is female
included for fan service/looks
Likable, flat main character Main character that develops
and isn’t likable at first

I could certainly list more but I think you see what I’m getting at. It’s
like Square decided to thumb their nose at nearly every traditional
turn-based RPG concept. That’s why all the fanboys and Square nuts didn’t
like it. It was different, and not really geared to a young male audience.

Moreover, themes explored in the game were very mature and I very much
enjoyed the love story. Few scenes touch me as much as the space rescue
scene in FF8. It’s a shame you pan the game so much because the story and
art directing have never been better in the series. The combat system was
immensely deep with any number of possible takes on combat and the junction
system was outright complex yet rewarding, a rarity these days in video
games. Add that to a 19th century feel in the cars and building which I
have yet to see used well in another video game and a curious dual plot
structure (between Squall and Laguna) that interweaves and I think we must
have been playing a different game.

I can see hints of misunderstanding by you saying the mini-games took up
more of your time than the game itself. I suppose you’re referencing
Chocobo World, a goofy side quest that was by no means necessary. Or Triple
Triad, which I may have spent 15 hours on, but I spent 60-65 on the game
itself. So, I spent 80 percent of my first playthrough leveling and playing
the main game, and 95 percent of my second (the rest playing Triple Triad).
Besides, you have to give them credit for the only real stateside
implementation of Pocketstation support to date (Ridge Racer and Street
Fighter were jokes).

You tell me one thing about FF8 that was typical. The most I can come up
with is that it’s linear and you still end up saving the world. There’s
some continuity in the music and gameplay, but you can hardly fault them for
that. Now FF7, ok I liked that game but it’s vastly overrated. FF9 was a
throwback that everyone said they really wanted but no one really played.
But FF8 is the real jewel in the crown of the FF series. Only X-2 compares
in my mind. I’ve played them all (to some degree or another) and FF8 is
still the best one I say.

I only bring up all this since you’re really into games and you’ve actually
played the games I’m talking about with a critical eye. Maybe then you’ll
be convinced by what I said. In my experience I’ve never had an FF8
convert, only several attempts. Most get hung up on GFs, drawing, and
leveling. If you can see through all that you’ll see a game that’s every
bit as good as a classic RPG like Magic Knight Rayearth. Maybe.

Anyway, sorry about how long this e-mail is. You said you like getting mail
so I’m guessing it’s no big deal. Let me conclude by saying that Valkyrie
Profile better be your number one game in the countdown. Right? RIGHT?
Ah, who am I kidding. That’s me and my twin brother’s favorite game of all
time, and we’ve played a metric f*ckton of games between us. I saw you
mention it in your top five though. I know it’s possible. It certainly
deserves it. It marks the turn of modern gaming in my mind. Games 10 years
from now still won’t play like it does. It’s not a video game, it’s a work
of art. If you want a downloadable calendar, they still have it up on the
official site if you haven’t seen it. They also add some backstory and
details that didn’t make it into the game to help clarify things a bit. The
manga also helps (some really cool dude scanned and translated it online).

If all that didn’t seem too foward or weird, feel free to shoot me an e-mail
if you ever want to chat about old or weird games. I’m sure I’ll be hard at
work beating Shining the Holy Arc. :)

-Dave Younskevicius

Monster email there Dave!

1. Being a complete Pokemon fanatic, I never got into Monster Rancher. I never liked the monster designs. I LOVE the concept about making monsters from CD’s and DVD’s though.

2. PDS does show it’s age in some places. I can agree with that. And there ARE bugs. A lot of them. And those bugs are why it’s not higher on the list. Imagine a sequel if the original team worked on it today with the power of the current Xbox system. DROOL…

3. He’s right that I like Final Fantasy 9 mainly for Nostalgia Value. ;-)

4. I believe FF8 is the most reviled out all of the FF games. And I’ll admit, I loathe it even more than 7. 7 is just more fun to pick on though. ;-) I dislike FFVIII for all the negatives he mentioned, but mainly the characters. Oh god, the characters, I find them ultra emo, boring and just two-dimensional. I do notice that when someone likes FF8, they are exceptionally passionate about it like Dave is. It’s one of those games like Tomb Raider, you either love with all your heart, or really dislike with venomous spite and hatred.

And what better way to close the mailbag, than with letters from the mailbag from May 1st. Yes people, I’m only to May 1st with my feedback. We have a few more of these to go…

Alex, don’t let the Ninja Gaiden fanboys get you down for rating the game exactly like it should be rated. I was looking forward to playing this game so much, but I only played it for a few hours and stopped. I haven’t lost interest in a game that fast for a long time. Here is what I told some friends of mine about it in a forum.

“I was seriously disappointed with Ninja Gaiden. One of the worst camera systems ever. It sits too low and too close to Ryu. Plus the whole DMC-like gameplay is getting cliché. First Konami tries to tack it onto Castlevania, now Team Ninja tacks it onto Ninja Gaiden. The whole “get graded on how big of a combo I can rack up” aspect to it sucks. What’s next? A combo system in the new GTA? Ooooooh, a groin shot with a triple head tap finish, you get an “A” bad boy.”

Anyway, I’m a big fan of your columns and reviews. Even if I don’t agree 100% with everything you say I still respect your opinion.

Chip Stephenson

I never let fanboys get me down. I dealt with BG&E and FF fanboys. Ninja Gaiden ones are nothing compared to those geeks. And plus. I didn’t mind Ninja Gaiden. A good action game, but over-rated.

And I agree. This combo thing in 3D action games is pointless. I hope to see it gone soon.

And no one should ever agree with what I say 100%. That’d be frightening.


I just thought I’d write and quickly harass about 2

The first is that dastardly ratings system: I like it the way it is. What so many people don’t seem to realise is that a rating of 7.5/10 is the equivalent of 75%. It looks low compared to something like C&VGwho hand out +90% ratings all the time, but what’s wrong with rating a game at 75%? Don’t they realize that’s only 25% away from utter perfection? That’s like turning down a rich, witty and beautiful woman because she’s wearing a tracksuit. Well… No it isn’t at all, but I just came up with that analogy and I didn’t want to waste it.

The second point is to recommend (again?) a game called Anachronox. The graphics are Quake2 era; the game play is like watered down Skies of Arcadia; it was a touch unstable. I totally loved playing it though, just to find out what happened next. To miss an opportunity to play this game would be like turning down a rich, witty and beautiful woman because she’s wearing a tracksuit. Mmhhn.

Thanks for your time.


You know, I think everyone likes our ratings system after being exposed to it. Especially where you compare how detailed our reviews are compared to the pablum spewing crap that is out there. Right now on Penny Arcade’s forums, there is a monster thread dedicated to shitty reviews. And IGN has about half the reviews on the list. Go figure…

Remember 411mania: Our reviews are anal and exceptionally long, but far better than anything else out there today.


After the Ninja Gaiden “7.5” debacle, have you considered just dropping the numerical system? Personally, I’ve always thought it weird that people want to see a reviewer’s enjoyment quantified to a simple number, because things just aren’t that simple. It’s good shorthand, but it gets harder when you compare two completely different kinds of games, like that one guy attempted with the NG-PokeChan comparison. And it’d make me grin at least to see people forced to, you know, read through the review for the writer’s feelings on the game. Most reviewers may be spouting the same paid-for opinions over and over again, but finding an articulate one that shares similar tastes is invaluable, particularly if that similar taste happens to be Clock Tower. And I thought I was the only one who knew that game.

By the way, since this is my first time writing to you, I felt obliged to thank you for all the great games you’ve led me to…Lunar and Persona alone make up for my junior high-era Resident Evil fandom. Realizing I actually had alternatives to the EA/GTA/Halo wasteland was eye-opening, and I’d imagine the sentiment’s shared by many. Man, I sound like a fanboy.

And finally, I wanted to know what you thought of a few games that I don’t think I’ve seen you mention, so here goes…Rival Schools & Project Justice, Tsugunai: Atonement, Shadow of Destiny, Ring of Red?


I completely agree that giving a review any sort of score is idiotic. But we live in an age where people only WANT a numerical score because they are too lazy or just don’t have the attention span for a full review. Numbers are also what companies want to see. It’s sad and damn pathetic that it’s only the score that matters. Our own Alex Williams got bitched out by Activision for giving a game a score of 5.0 and the guys hadn’t even bothered to read the review. How f*cking idiotic is that?

I wish we did have the influence to change the totally corrupt politicking that reviews have become and to have the ability to bitchslap a lot of these people who doesn’t deserve the title “Journalist” But alas, 411 isn’t there. And sure, I may be the Icon, the Showstoppa, the Main Eventah…but even I can’t bend the whole review aspect of this industry to what it should be. But give me a year or two… ;-)

And I think you’ll be surprised how many people LOVE Clock Tower. Scissorsman has a huge huge following. Even with 411mania readers. I only hope I’m partly responsible for that!

I’m glad I help you find games you wouldn’t have found otherwise. That’s make makes Retrograding truly rewarding: Introducing people to great games they never would have been able to find otherwise.

And finally: Rival Schools and Project Justice are fun. Tsugunai is a decent game, but Atlus has done many better. Shadow of Destiny is a must buy, and I have never played Ring of Red.

Whew people. 17 pages this week of letters. And I still have a ton more in my inbox. I may never have to write an actual column again thanks to you all.

Talk about a vacation, eh? ;-)