This is the first of a weekly feature we’ll be doing here at Diehard GameFAN. We figure it’s just as important for you to know the writers as it is for you to read our stuff. Why? Because this way you can tell which of our authors have similar tastes to you, and you can then judge whose opinions and reviews best meet your needs. We decided to start this project with me as I’m the EIC around here. Hopefully these will be as fun for you to read as they were for us to put together.
Name: Alexander Lucard
Nicknames: HBK, Sub-Cultural Icon, The Showstoppah, The Main Eventah, Swarley, Reno, Dracula
Location: Washington, D.C.
Three Favorite Genres:
Three Favorite Games:
Guardian Heroes (Saturn)
Valkyrie Profile (PSX)
SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millenium (NGPC)
Favorite Console: Sega Saturn
Bio: Alexander Lucard is not a vampire, nor is he Shawn Michaels, regardless of what the occasional conspiracy theorist might suppose. He has worked in video game journalism since 12/17/2002 and has been a published author in the fields of folklore and cultural anthropology for thirteen years. When not playing video games, Alex can be found working out, saving abandonded bunny rabbits, hating Minnesota and all who dwell within that state, and doing porn involving women who do not speak English and a polar bear named Mr. Peepers.
Q&A (Alex’s Note – Here we’ve had ten of our writers ask the staffer of the week a question, and then they must answer it, no matter how wacky. It was a good way for all of us to get to know each other in the same way you’re getting to know us.)
#1 -Guy Desmarais
Ever since I started reading your columns, I’ve caught glimpses of a story involving you and some kind of real life vampire hunter. Can you please tell me what’s the story behind that? Was it some guy on the street trying to put a stake through your heart because you dress in black? A Buffy fan who was becoming delirious once the series ended? It’s just something about a Pokémon-loving video games writer being thought of as a vampire that strikes me as odd.
It really boils down to my name. Alexander Lucard = A.Lucard. Spell it backwards and you get Dracul.A. My whole life I’ve been asked if that’s my real name (It is), and have gotten jokes about it. Eventually, as I became a published writer with a lot of my work being on the folklore/sociology of monsters, I attracted a lot of occult weirdos. One of which was a guy named Sean Manchester. Sean Manchester is a would be “Vampire Hunter” that has been the butt of jokes back in the United Kingdom since the 1960’s. Every so often he pop up to stalk/harass me online. He’s been mocked by everything from The Portal of Evil to being banned from Wikipedia for editing a ton of entries regarding vampirism and other occult findings. Somewhere along the line he noticed the wackiness with my name and developed his theory that “LUCARD AM DRACULA,” and the stalking reached a new level.
Eventually it all came to a head in Dec 2006, where Mr. Manchester got my old livejournal where I was chronicaling the stalking suspended because he tricked LJ abuse into thinking he was a a poor old priest and I was well…Dracula and defaming him even though he’s a public figure. LJ Abuse turned a blind eye to a lot of proof that this guy was stalking me. I responded by suing LJ/SixApart. Eventually LJA realized the guy was a complete nutjob, but only after the story had been picked up by both the US and UK Media, being arguably the biggest mainstream blunder the company had made. Sean Manchester got excommunicated for his occult dealings and stalking, and I ended up living happily ever after.
If you really want to read a good chunk of the insanity, go to the following old Nyogtha columns:
2. -ML Kennedy.
What was the silliest motivation you’ve ever had regarding a video game purchase.
Finny the Fish came with a stuffed plush fish. And so I preordered the game. And I got two of the fish!
3 – Aaron Sirois
Lucard, as a huge pokemon fan, how do you defend the little to no innovation the series has provided since it’s first iteration? Playing Diamond feels exactly like playing Blue. There are a few new spiffy features, but it still feels like the game I first played when I was in elementary school.
Pokemon is the Madden of rpgs if you really think about it.
Well, this is a rather odd question as Pokemon really is the most innovative video game franchise ever. It’s constantly reinventing itself and putting out spin offs that have nothing to do with the Turn Based RPG core franchise. There’s the four generations of the main RPG series, and then there are approximately 30 other Pokemon games ranging from Action RPGS (Pokemon Ranger) to Dungeon Crawls (Pokemon Dungeon) to Pinball to puzzle games (Puzzle League, Challenge, and Trozei) and even racing games (Pokemon Dash)!
There is no other franchise out there, save for Mario that covers as many different gaming genres as Pokemon. And considering Mario is a 30 year old franchise and Pokemon just hit ten, it shows you just how innovative Pokemon truly is.
As for the “Catch ’em All” core RPG franchise, there are a lot of changes made with each generation, most of which are subtle, but when looked at critically, one can see just how different the games are outside of the turn based battle engine. From RGBY to GCS, we added 100 new Pokemon, two new Pokemon Types, Pokemon Swarms, the 24/7 clock where events occur depending on day of the week or what hour it is, the ability to Breed Pokemon, the ability to go through the entire world of the first generation of games, the division of the Special stat, a playable girl character, and animation of the Pokemon instead of static images.
THE RSE series was easily the worst of the four generations, and I myself ripped into the game for resting on its laurels. Even then the series added Pokemon contests, Tag Team battles, Pokemon Abilities, Pokemon Natures, and a ton of new options to encounter both before and after you beat the game.
D/P which only got a 5/10 from me in Story and Originality, but still managed to get an 8.5 overall added even more changes. Chief of all is how Pokemon stats are generated. There is a completely new algorythm for individual values and stats, which for the hardcore Pokemon gamer, completely changes how you play the game. There are also Pokemon personality traits, Pokemon Super Contests, the Pal Park, Pokeball Seals, the Underground, and other changes that are dramatically affect how you play the game.
Pokemon Crystal is certainly the best of the Turn Based RPG’s, and is easily in my Top Ten RPG’s EVER. It’s also, even though it’s 7 years old, the game I recommend first and foremost to all people new to Pokemon.
The fact that Pokemon still feels the same to you Aaron, is a testament to the franchise as a core. There are so many overhauls done to the engine and gameplay with each generation of the series, yet it still feels like the classic series that has become the best selling RPG franchise of all time, eclipsing Megaten, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy – the latter two series took two decades each to have any real innovation.
4 -Mark B.
Who do you feel makes better games, American or Japanese developers?
it depends on the genre really. Americans make better FPS for example, while Japan tends to make better Shmups and fighters. RPG’s depends on the decade (Americans ruled this genre for the 80’s, while Japan took over in the 90’s and the current decade.)
Overall I’d say Japan holds the crown currently, but we’re seeing both American and European developers produce high quality titles with a growing frequency.
5. – Dave O.
Overall do you think home consoles are reaching their upper limits in the graphics department and the need for actual interesting game mechanics and ideas are going to lead to another crash?
I’ve never really cared about graphics. I only care about a good story and gameplay. And I think if Nintendo hadn’t given us the Wii, we would have seen a massive crash THIS generation. Because it did so well and left M$ and Sony in the dust, I’m sure we’ll see the next generation of consoles all focusing on gameplay first and foremost.
Have you ever considered going to work within the VG industry? What sort of game would you like to help make if you did?
I don’t have the actual programming/development background to do so. I have however done (and still am) marketing/writing for for a few large publishers, which is about the most I could contribute to a game, other than writing a plot or voice acting.
7. – Charlie Marsh
What’s YOUR favorite Pokemon?
Clefairy and Cubone.
8. – Bebito Jackson
What is your fondest memory from your time writing in relation to the videogaming industry since you began back in 2002?
This is an odd one, as there are a lot of neat memories. My first Retrograding column will always hold some memories, even though I want to utterly rewrite it from the ground up. The top 30 RPG countdown and the hilarious FFVII swerve was great. Exposing sites like Gamespot and their “good scores for lotsa cash” years before Kane and Lynch was nice. Same with companies like Midway, Bioware, Activision, and other publishers that engage in some highly unethical activities.
I think the best memory I have revolves around my monthly folklore articles for Pokemon Magazine. I get to combine two things I love, Pokemon and lore into a monthly column that both educates and entertains kids of all ages. It’s a great feeling to know I can proved regularly that gaming shouldn’t be stereotyped as just murder training simulations.
9. – Bryan Berg
Pokemon has gone from game to pop-culture fad back to game again, and is still going strong. To what do you attribute Pokemon’s staying power?
Everything really. Pokemon is the most succesful video game franchise of all time. It’s the longest running anime series ever and the second longest running cartoon of all time. It brought RPG’s to a mainstream audience and has so many spin offs in every possible genre imaginable that every time Pokemon starts to fade, it comes out with something new and wacky that propels it back even higher. Innovation and the willingness to constantly re-create itself in ways that make it appeal to anyone, regardless of age, ethnic origin, gender, or what have you.
Jesus Christ, Pokemon USA might as well give me the official title of PR manager after all these Pokemon questions
10 – Lee Baxley
If you had the power, what three Japanese games would you select to be localized for North American audiences?
I’m going to cheat a bit here
1) Sakura Taisen Perfect Collection. All four games ala the way they did it for the Dreamcast. It’s a crying shame this series never made it to the US. Boo I say. BOO-Urns!
2) Dungeons and Dragons Collection. The two arcade games were put onto a single disc for the Sega Saturn. As an owner of the second game, Shadow Over Mystara, I can say I still don’t understand how Capcom managed to fuck up not bringing this over.
3) Shining Force III, Scenarios II, III, and Premium. We only ever got the first one, and I’m sick of playing 75% of the saga in Japanese.