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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 37: RPGs, Dragon Quest IX, Etrian Odyssey III, Puzzle Quest 2, and DeathSpank

Tim Spaeth's picture

We try our best to keep things positive, but Tim screws it up in the home stretch. The topic is "New RPG's We (Mostly) Love" and that means Dragon Quest IX, Etrian Odyssey III, Puzzle Quest 2, and DeathSpank. Guess which one we don't love! Plus we premiere a new segment: "Quote of the Week." With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim "Spahnk" Spaeth.

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Topics discussed:

  • 1 vs. 100
  • Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
  • Etrian Odyssey III
  • Puzzle Quest 2
  • DeathSpank

Please send feedback and mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   Nintendo DS  
Developer(s): Square Enix   Atlus  
Key Creator(s): Yuji Horii   Akira Toriyama  
Genre(s): Role-Playing  
Articles: Podcasts  

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birthday

I turned 37 this year too. Yay to us rapidly approaching the hill.

Synthesis in DQIX

There was a point made by eaps from our forums about our previous episode that I didn't get a chance to mention on the show that I think also applies to DQIX.

eaps wrote:

As you all were discussing what made the 16-bit era so important, I was reminded of the concept of "synthesis."

I'm an opera singer and one of the goals of my work is to reach the point of synthesis- where acting, music and singing all come into balance. As individuals, you can work on it by yourself, but in the case of a show, where many people are collaborating, it can be tough to reach that state. Many times shows end up being under-rehearsed and the group doesn't find that sweet spot to do something really special. We all live for the shows where we can get to the point where you get that perfect chemistry of music in the pit, great actors and a director who brings something really interesting to the show.

As you all were talking fondly about the 16-bit era, it struck me that the games and genres you were discussing all hit the marks and synthesized a style of gameplay and genre.

As we bemoan the focus on tech in the current generation, I can see how once developers hit there stride and figure out what is really important, we could see moments of synthesis happen and we get some of the games that will be in rotation 20 years from now.

In a lot of ways, playing DQIX feels is like a performance by Hori/Toriyama/Sugiyama. It's amazing how this idea of "synthesis" and a strong artistic vision can make what appears on the surface as a formulaic game seem totally relevant.

Elderly

Vince wrote:

I turned 37 this year too. Yay to us rapidly approaching the hill.

I'm only 36, so now I feel like a young boy just getting his start in the world.

For everybody: Yay or Nay on the new opening / theme song? Also, can anyone identify the source of the "CHING"?

ah to be 36 again -- when I

ah to be 36 again -- when I had my whole life in front of me and the world was an endless horizon of possibilities...

I will refrain from answer the ching question because I already did in private. Nailed it in one guess, because I'm fucking awesome like that.

@ Tim, I liked the old theme

@ Tim, I liked the old theme better, and don't know about the ching.

@ Mike: Mike, my man. How does a horror geek not know the name of a chucky movie? lol, just teasing don't get mad.

Deathspaunk

Good podcast. I enjoyed the listen!

I'm a little awed to see such mixed reactions (between podcasts and communities) when it comes to DeathSpank. Sounds like the only way to truly find out if I will like it or not is to download the demo.

Gallaway got me all excited about Etrian Odyssey (I need a new portable game soon) only to reveal the September release date. Insert big pout.

1 vs 100

Also, (sorry for the double post) I'm more than a little bummed about 1 vs 100's fate. During Season 2, I would eagerly await the next live show. It was a great game to play with friends or family. With all this said, I can agree that it was a little difficult to understand how to enter, the rules, etc...

Hell, if it wasn't for 1 vs 100, I would have never gotten my copy of Rez HD. :)

reason49 wrote: Gallaway

reason49 wrote:

Gallaway got me all excited about Etrian Odyssey (I need a new portable game soon) only to reveal the September release date. Insert big pout.

As a follow up on the podcast, I was able to find used copies Etrian Odyssey 1 & 2 for $10 and $13 dollars respectively at GameStop relatively easy. Each store will only have one copy at best, but using Gamestop.com, you can find which ones have it relatively easy. The only downside was part 1 didn't have the box, but part 2 was near mint condition.

From what i can tell only

From what i can tell only the first Etrian Odyssey was released in Europe. Although the US versions work on the European DS, i prefer to buy the European versions for 2 and 3.

Does anyone know whether they are going to be released here?

Coyls3, I hate that I didn't

Coyls3,

I hate that I didn't know it, although to be fair it was the tagline for the film -- and it's not even a good or memorable one at that. I've only seen Child's Play 3 twice -- and that was really two times too many. :p

I'd definitely recommend the

I'd definitely recommend the Deathspank demo before purchase. I think you'll know from that brief bit of time whether it's a game you'll want to put ten or so hours into or not -- and if it's not, you save 15 bucks.

I went back and tried the demo one more time after we recorded the show and my opinion didn't improve at all. The melee combat doesn't feel right to me at all, the humor wears thin quickly, and it's not all that much fun -- and I'm a huge loot whore who loves these kinds of games.

Glad you dug the show though.

strategy in turn based rpgs

After hearing your description of Etrian Odyssey, I want to play it, but I have to ask, have you all played the Fire Emblem games? I feel like if you like deep strategy and nail-biting risks in your turn based games, you'd love Fire Emblem.

I actually have played the

I actually have played the Fire Emblem games, the ones on the GBA/DS at least. I started out loving them, but I grew to hate them... I really can't stand the permanent death of characters if you lose one, and every single FE has a huge difficulty spike at the final boss. I hate to admit it, but I'm pretty sure I've gotten to the end of every FE game I've played and then quit out of frustration.

The Etrian series is certainly quite difficult, but it takes a lot of steps to take the pain out of playing. It helps that there is no perma-death for characters, especially. I really don't mind difficulty when it's done the right way, and in this situation FE just comes off as too rigid and frustrating for me to go back to them.

Fire Emblem

Yeah, permadeath is frustrating, but in the console Fire Emblem games, you can save in the middle of battle and load your save if you lose a character, which helps a little bit, but there is no quick way to load a save game. Usually I press the home button and reset the game.

Nintendo makes the argument that permadeath adds to the tension in the battle, thus making it more exciting. I think this is true, but at the same time, the battles in Fire Emblem are so long and complex that it would still be very hard to complete the map if you were forced to fight with a man down, regardless of if a character came back for the next map.

Also, I'm told that in the newest Fire Emblem, which just came out in Japan, you can turn off permadeath. If it gets a US release, It'll definitely be worth checking out.

Criticizing Zelda for giving

Criticizing Zelda for giving no rpg-freedom is like criticizing Richard Burns Rally for not being arcade-fun like Dirt. It doesn't want you to be able to play in a fully open world. Same as The Witcher, Jade Empire, Okami or Mafia (1). And it doesn't want to be an rpg, no j-rpg and no western rpg.
I would also like if Zelda would try to be more innovative than they were with Majoras Mask, but as Wind Waker got an timeless art style, was innovative in that way, and only TP, after 10 years!, can be called a very similar game to OoT it's definitely no series to be bashed for copying itself all the time. (ignoring the handheld releases cause i know none of them)
Zelda 1 and 3 were similar, 2 was for sure not and then 3D with OoT. That's basically it. Quite a lot of innovation while still staying true to the original formula.
Zelda got a few more than a dozen major releases in 25 years, while God of War is heading for its 6th release after 5 years, and those are practically all identical?!
No, i don't get it when Zelda is being punished for staying in its core as it were in the past, tough always trying some new stuff, while other series are hardly innovative at all and other genres have almost zero innovation in years throughout dozens of different series (shooters).

Re: Criticizing Zelda for giving

crackajack wrote:

Criticizing Zelda for giving no rpg-freedom is like criticizing Richard Burns Rally for not being arcade-fun like Dirt. It doesn't want you to be able to play in a fully open world. Same as The Witcher, Jade Empire, Okami or Mafia (1). And it doesn't want to be an rpg, no j-rpg and no western rpg.

I don't think either Mike or I were trying to assert that Zelda needed to be more like RPGs and any other type of game. It was really more a question of what DQIX offered that allowed it to feel less predictable and formulaic despite it also being a game that follows its own formula pretty closely. We've probably thrown out some suggestions here and there in prior episodes, but I honestly don't know what Zelda needs to do for the podcast group to feel more excited about the series again.

Chi Kong Lui wrote: It was

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

It was really more a question of what DQIX offered that allowed it to feel less predictable and formulaic despite it also being a game that follows its own formula pretty closely.

I haven't played any DQ or FF or any j-rpg so i don't care too much for them and may have not listened careful enough to get any point what makes them less formulaic but i just think punching Zelda for being Zelda is kind of unfair because it's almost a genre of its own. How many "rip offs" were there? Okami, i think Darksiders also and of course dot game heroes. That's it?
The "predefined loot" thing it does, where the game is built around it, is rather unique while so much more games use items only as weapons, where they differentiate only by strength, range and speed. So a bow is quite similar to a dagger to a axe to a broad(er/est) sword, to all sorts of spells, and all are only used for combat, sometimes also influenced only by some stats numbers and accompanied by some gimmicky items like lockpicks or socket items. While Zelda has only some of the blue (whatever wow defined as THE best color) items and those are all actually important not only as weapons.
Quantity over quality and quality should be the worse mechanic?
"Bomb, boomerang, bow..." What do other games do in their core differently? Those numerous items only don't matter anything?

I prefer looting also more (like you?), but i think the average "standard" rpg or action adventure is equally if not more strict formulaic and following a simpler formula, so i just don't like Zelda being THE example for something other games do worse, less ambitious, imo.

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