Chrono Trigger: the first-person shooter? JRPG porn? Celes vs. Terra?
Welcome to the first official Random Encounters Mailbag, an interactive Q&A dedicated to all things JRPG. Last week, I asked you guys to submit interesting questions. You delivered. Oh boy, you delivered.
Remember, you can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Random Encounters." The following are real questions submitted by real Kotaku readers.
Would you play a JRPG about creating porn? How would you create such a game? What kind of missions would it have?
- Patrick S
As someone who does not have a whole lot of experience making porn, I imagine the hardest part is not the making of the porn, but the preparation behind making the porn. In other words, once you've got 2+ people, a camera, some lightning gear, and whatever gels or liquids you might need, the process is easy: you just point and shoot, maybe switching angles or positions every once in a while just for kicks. The hard part is getting everything together.
So I imagine a porn-themed JRPG wouldn't spend much time dealing with making porn; it'd be all about preparing to make a porn. You'd have to travel to towns far and wide in order to recruit porn stars, Suikoden-style; fight your way through dungeons to collect valuable vibrators and lubrication jelly; and make tough decisions like "should this scene be two women or three?" and "what do we do if someone gets chlamydia?"
Combat would be like Secret of Mana. But instead of a sword you'd use a... okay, let's not worry about that part.
What's your strategy for getting back into a JRPG you've had to stop playing for a while? I once stopped playing Final Fantasy IX and couldn't figure out where to go and I've just had to stop Earthbound for a while due to a move and I don't want it to happen again!
- Curtis S
You have three real options, each with a big downside:
1) Just jump into the game and try to get back into the swing of things. Downside: You might not remember a lot of important details about the gameplay and story.
2) Catch yourself up by watching videos or reading guides online. Downside: You might accidentally read or watch a spoiler.
3) Restart the whole game. Downside: You have to restart the whole game.
I generally find that #3 is the best move, if you have the patience, but I'm also the type of guy who likes to randomly replay old games all the time, because I am crazy.
Celes or Terra. Who are you taking back to the airship after a night at the Nikeah tavern? (We will also accept Mog as an answer).
- Billy W
Celes. Terra is cool and all, but the whole "I'm a crazy half-esper who will suddenly go all pink and fly around the world whenever I'm stressed out" thing is kind of a drag. And Celes knows how to catch a good fish.
Are you a genre purist? I am; for example, it ticks me off when people refer to Zelda or Valkyria Chronicles as RPGs or JRPGs when they clearly aren't.
- Lucas M.
I'd suggest you find something more interesting to be mad about, Lucas. Like, the debt ceiling. Or DLC.
The truth is, I've always found debates about genre to be excruciatingly boring. Does a role-playing game have to meet certain criteria in order to be considered a role-playing game? Does it have to have stats, or levels, or does it have to let you "play" as "roles"? Or can we just admit that it doesn't really matter what arbitrary names we give to our video games—just what sort of experiences we can get out of them?
Better yet, let's eliminate genre descriptors entirely. Trying to force interactive experiences into easy-bake molds like "first-person shooter!" or "cinematic action!" just leaves you with boring vanilla cupcakes.
And, yes, this is ostensibly a column about JRPGs. But I reserve the right to define "JRPG" however, and use this column to talk about whatever. Like porn.
Let's say, you're hired to lead the design team for The Next Great JRPG Game, and you're specifically tasked with creating a game that will bring the genre back to the forefront of the industry: $5 million in sales, triple-A hype, the whole deal.
What is it that you'd focus on, the one, two (three, four...) things that you'd want to establish in the game that will set it apart from the competition and actually make it a competitive game with the Skyrims of the world?
- Patrick R
I'm not a game designer, and I have no desire to become one, but the advantage that Japanese RPGs have and will always have over their less linear counterparts is that they can tell a powerful story. That means top-notch localization, the kind you'd see from a game localized by companies like Nintendo or Atlus. It means great writing. And it means creating a world full of interesting characters to meet and places to discover.
Maybe one day I'll put together a column about My Ideal RPG. Today is not that day.
Chrono Trigger is being remade as an FPS — it cannot be stopped, it just will — but you have to choose who gets the job, what company would you pick to do it and why?
Obsidian, because A) they've got experience making a great shooter in Fallout: New Vegas; B) they just spent a whole lot of years working on a JRPG-ish South Park game that looks rather incredible; and C) co-founder Chris Avellone is a big Chrono Trigger fan, and he has the talent and experience to get a project like that right. Also, they're well-known for their bugs, and what is Lavos if not a giant bug? (Sorry, Obsidian.)
"What do you think the greatest JRPG world is...for JRPG characters?" As in, if you were Fayt, or Lightning, or JRPG Lead X, which game that you've come across would you most like to be dropped in?
For example, I wouldn't want to be dropped into a world during an impending apocalypse. Having access to plumbing and electricity would be a huge plus. A personal goal of mine though that I could give everything else up for is if the world allows the main character to have self-sustaining flying capabilities. (Wings/wind magic/personal jetpacks that are readily available.)
Though in the end the choice for me is made easy based on sheer "fan-service"
Drop me in Kingdom Hearts (And by god I better have an UNDER THE SEA SOLO!!!)
- Darren S
Most JRPG worlds by design are pretty grisly, because they're designed to be set-pieces for conflict. Final Fantasy IX, for example, has some killer cities, but you wouldn't want to live in them because they're always being blown up and attacked by black mages and whatnot.
I don't think I'd mind living in Shevat from Xenogears—the flying city in which everyone just chills and tinkers with gears all the time. Then again, Shevat gets blown up too. This question is hard.
I have been playing Tales of Xillia lately and was wondering about something. Do you think an online feature where players can come in and take control of AI controlled party members would work? For example, in ToX you have the 4 party members where you only control one. With the online component, someone would be able to join your game and control another party member and follow along with your story playthrough.
- Charles M
Yes, because if there's anything JRPGs need most, it's the ability for 12-year-olds to come into your game and call you racial slurs.
Actually, that's a very cool idea, Charles. You could do the same thing in a lot of SNES RPGs back in the day; in Final Fantasy VI, for example, someone could pick up the second controller and take over another character in your party during combat.
Problem is, who wants to play as someone else's second banana? One of the big appeals of games like Xillia is that it's your journey, your world to explore. Do you think a lot of people will really want to share that with others?
Here is a question that I myself have pondered several times. How would you survive in the modern world (i.e. the one we currently live in), with random encounters? For example, say you were walking down the street and all of a sudden three thugs and a murderer appeared. How would you handle this situation? Or, say you were at your favorite park and three wolves appeared. The list of situations goes on and on. Thus, any sage advice on how to overcome a real world of random encounters (as you know, we have to move, so these encounters will continue with ever increasing frequency)?
- Cory M.
It's called living in Manhattan.