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Huzzah and kudos mailbag readers. Sorry for the... delay. I blame SG. It was ENTIRELY his fault, and we all know it.

*Grumbles something about lazy co-hosts and not getting a break from the Mailbag*

Did you say something 984?

*Grumbles* I said *grumbles incoherently again*

...Er...ok then...

Well, well, well... Look's like I'm not the grumpiest person here.

Yeah, for once. Lordo. Hey Energon, since 984 is in such a bad mood, why don't you grab the first reply?

*Grumbes something about lazy hosts and grumpy 984s*

...Or not... Slalin, could you grab the first reply then- and try not to eat it.

...Fine. *returns with reply in it's mouth*

Er... thanks. Our first reply is from PC Glenton.

Hey, gents. PC Glenton here... a unknown, quiet individual on the boards that rarely posts... so if you have heard of me, you may need to get some help...

Hey, I've heard of you! You're from the PC Boards, but uh, that doesn't mean I need help does it?

You already needed help.

Yeah! I mean, wait... hey....

Anyway, my picks for unique RPGs.... Drum roll please... (a set of bongos rolls over my big toe...)

Ok, screw the musical intro. My picks are.

1) Arcanum.

Think Tolkien combined with Jules Vernes, and you have the environment. Magic and Science. Technology and Arcane knowledge. Lightning from a Tesla Gun... (remind me to give one to Lunaris) or called from the sky...

While I admit their were limits on equipment based on the technology/magic balance, they still did a good job.

Especially in the character creation. No class, only a few modifications based on species... and the skills are your playground. Gun-toting elves! Magic using half-ogres! Smooth talking half-orcs. The sky, and your attributes, are the limit.

Yes, Arcanum was quite the interesting and unique game. I absolutely loved the environment... and especially the Tesla Guns..

2) Anachronox.

One of the best RPGs I have EVER played. A lot like a sci-fi Final Fantasy... only this one was helped by Monty Python (Not really, but feels like it). A very funny game, where stupid ideas are integrated like real life.

And the characters you gain only enhance it. Even though I didn't use him that often, I still like the little robot. For some reason, he reminds me of Gary Coleman... Also a PC game, I should add.

Another wonderful PC RPG, the humor in it made it even better than it already was. Some game developers could take some tips from it and add some more humor into their games.

3) Planescape: Torment

Ok, I know Planescape was a series of complex D&D modules... I know that D&D has been used consistently on PC RPGs...

But, how many times do you play a heavily scarred amnesiac who only dies for a few minutes?

Or, actually explore a whole city based on belief... hell, a whole universe based on belief?

Planescape's story was also unique... no worlds to save, no maidens to rescue. Just one guy, finding himself out. Also a few Zin touches...

The NPCs... I am not sure if any of you played it, so I am not going to mention any. There were not much to choose from, but trust me, you would want them all. These are not cannon fodder. You will want them around to know more about them.

Ah, Planescape: Torment- definitely one of my favorite AD&D based PC RPGs. The Nameless One was quite the interesting character really- with that nice bonus of not really dying for very long of course. The NPCs, also, were *very* unique to put it lightly. Torment was such an excellent game.

That is this list. If you publish it, I might respond to more mailbags. BTW... PLAY THESE GAMES!!!!!

Yes, please do write back more- always good to hear from new people.

Yes. New people are good.

Well, 984, how about you get the next reply?

How about I smasha' yo' face?

Nah man, I like my face the way it is. Thanks for asking though. ...So is that a yes you will?

Yeah. Sure. Walhalla's up.

Hello,

I regularly come to this site and occasionally visit the boards under the name of Walhalla (don't pay attention to the sender's name :p). Nevertheless, it's the first time I write for the Mailbag, so I have a few questions (that are probably always asked, sorry) for you, gentlemen :

1-How do you select the letters that are "published" online?

2-Is it frequent that a person participates numerous times, but yet, never gets "published" for some reason?

To answer your questions, we select Replies based on how good we think they are. Generally, the more explanation behind a Reply, the better it is, although some are able to use few words. As for your second question, we generally won't publish a person if they have the whole bad Reply thing going on since if they keep participating, they're certain to reply to a Mailbag that has fewer Replies.

Well, I suppose that'll not happen to me, because "Ladies first!". :P It's a rule at RPGC, right? :P Right?! :P

Enough with these futilities. Here's my real reply to this week's topic. Note that it makes no sense and I wrote it before thinking about the previous questions and such, so there's a short pointless intro that comes with. I like pointless intros... Okay, the letter :

Hello young people, dragons and other creatures. This is Walhalla. 984, you don't know me, but I like your puzzles nonetheless. I've thought about writing to you before, but I either wasn't inspired by the subjects or missed the good ones. But this week, I'm on vacation and I believe I may have something to say concerning the topic on hands. So, today, I woke up at 2:00 PM and decided to compose this little thing that's filled with wrong verb tenses, endless ramblings and don't forget the silly jokes. Sorry. This'll be long too, sorry again. Oh and I haven't played all the RPGs in the world (you see, I'm not a game addict...:p), therefore, my comments'll be centered around common NES and SNES games.

I'll begin with a NES game...DW4! Yes, that's my favorite DW/DQ game. The battle system and the graphics aren't great, but I like how the story's divided into various chapters. You probably expected me to say that, right? So, let's put it that way : at the time I played the game on my NES, back in 1992, it was pretty imaginative and totally new...at least, it was for me. Each quest has it's share of crazy and unexpected moments : Alena at the Battle Arena to win the Princess' hand, gaining money in Taloon's scenario and countless extra adventures with "bonus" characters in Chapter 5 to name a few. I know some games that are repetitive (cave, tower, shrine, cave, oh! a mountain, tower...) and DW4 certainly isn't one of those. In all seriousness, the most unique thing in DW4 is the lesbian female hero. What? First time I played, I chose a male hero because I always come up with better names for guys, but when I saw the ending, the hero saving his girlfriend and hugs and kisses ensuing, I immediately thought about re-playing the game with a female hero, despite the fact that she'd have a bad name. Ha! The programmers thought they could get away easily with it : "Hehe. Nobody will choose to play as a girl. We don't have to change the ending." They were wrong! Anyway, I think their laziness created an "original" female hero. Really. That's all for the NES games. Wait. No. I must mention Rygar for it's uniqueness regarding the COOL MUSIC for such an ugly-looking RPG.

I wouldn't be going to an NES game for good graphics really, but I love the DW battle system. The chapter system was quite nice.

Not go to a NES game for good graphics?! Haven't you ever played Bible Adventure?! SHEESH!

Bible Adventure made me want to cry.

Throwing Baby Moses in the river makes Baby Jesus cry.

Now, for the SNES games, my first vote goes to Terranigma. Honestly, I've played this game some years ago and don't remember it all. But! I do recall parts of the main story, divided in 4 chapters. I thought the chapter "resurrection of the world" was pretty unusual and cool. So, seeing as how I remember this, I guess it shows that the story was original, doesn't it? Okay, maybe not. My second vote goes to Secret of Mana, because it's the first RPG where I could actually "play" with my brother instead of "watching" him play. Now, that was, and still is, something really unique. Finally, I must mention FF5 for the following reason : more female characters than male ones. Like pretty much FF games, there're three girls as the main characters, but they outnumber the males in this one, which is rare.

Terranigma was a beautiful game from an excellent series- the Soul Blazer series. I've always loved the stories and how the gameplay works- Terranigma is definitely no exception.

I'll conclude by adding Vagrant Story, in terms of battle system and (lack of) music, to my list of uniqueness. I haven't played many games for the PS1 (I don't even own one), but chopping monsters body parts as long as we can is nifty, and unique!...of course. We could hit the monsters more than once in Mario RPG too, but chopping's cooler. About the music, sorry but, its absence was unusually boring... Well, it truly looked like the letter of a person who wanted to stay on topic as I've used the words "uniqueness", "original" and "unique" at least 2 times each. Heh. That's all guys.

Thank you for reading my reply with so much attention. :p

I loved Vagrant Story. The battle system was quite different from anything that I've played before. It wasn't as hard as many people made it out to be though once you figured out how affinity worked.

Yeah. And no problem about reading your Reply. It's what we're paid to do.

Wait, we get paid?

We don't?

I didn't think we did... Unless SG's been stealing my pay checks.

He's probably using them to make a paper dress.

Obviously.

Lies! All lies!

A dress for Kagon then?

Obviously.

I hate you guys.

Now you know how I feel.

Suprisingly enough I do...

Quiet dress boy. Go get next Reply.

Grah fine! The next reply comes from Archone.

I'd have to say the most unique RPG(s), in terms of gameplay concept, were Ultima IV, V, and VI. Since it's been established that most of you don't know what Ultima is, I'll elaborate.

Ultima was the "cash cow" of Origin Systems(like Final Fantasy and Squaresoft). After the first trilogy in the early 80's, Origin founder Richard Garriot(who liked to call himself "Lord British" and featured himself as the ruler of the game world, Britannia), decided to come up with an entirely new concept. Since most RPGs cast the player as a great hero, he decided to make the gameplay center around moral decisions, rather than simply going out and butchering monsters for XP and GP(fun as that may be...).

In UIV: Quest of the Avatar, the player must devote himself to becoming a living Avatar of Virtue, symbolizing eight virtues: Valor, Compassion, Honesty, Honor, Justice, Sacrifice, Spirituality, Humility. The only thing slaying dragons got you-aside from XP and some quick cash-was a boost to your Valor, and a smaller boost to Honor. The other virtues had to be enhanced by doing things like giving to the poor, donating blood, letting wounded monsters flee, and always telling the truth in conversations. The game also introduced a wonderful "word" based conversation model, where repeating a word voiced by the other person would elaborate on that topic. "I am a Mage." "Mage." "I cast spells." "Spells." "Spells of great power. Dost thou cast spells of great power?"

And so, after becoming the living ideal of virtue, obtaining the eight "runes" from the bottom of eight horrific dungeons, the book, bell, and candle of Truth, Courage, and Love, and the Skull of Mondain(generic evil wizard from Ultima I), you descended into the "Great Stygian Abyss," answer a bunch of questions, and raise the Codex of Ultimate wisdom to the surface.

In UV, you came back to Britannia, to find Lord British captured by evil denizens of the underworld, his throne usurped by the tyrant Blackthorn, and the land ravaged by three Shadowlords of Falsehood, Cowardice, and Hatred. Your job as Avatar is to join the Resistance against the tyrant, slay the Shadowlords, and rescue the true King-not an easy task. This one added to the complexity of the gameplay, and became the best of the series. My fanfic "the Three Companioneers" is set in the period between UV and UVI.

Ultima VI pitted you against the horrifying Gargoyles, risen to the surface seeking to find you, the Avatar, and sacrifice you on a stone table. Joining forces with allies old and new, you reclaim the Shrines of Virtue from enemy occupation, then go on a treasure hunt(especially fun, and the inspiration for the fanfic), finding the nine pieces of the map to Captain Hawkin's lost treasure, with a silver tablet that lets you translate a holy book of the Gargoyles. At this point, you discover that the Gargoyles are actually good guys. They're just a little miffed, because you stole their Codex, then when you rescued Lord British the underworld caved in and most of their civilization was destroyed. And so you must discover a way to end the war, while saving both Britannia and the Gargoyles. This one would have been the best... if Origin hadn't released the Beta version, with large chunks of plot and gameplay missing, and claimed it was the final product...

Now comes the sad part. Starting with Ultima VII, Richard Garriot decided to do the "New Coke" bit. "Well, we've got a proven concept with a huge fan base... let's change the series!" The Avatar returns several centuries after UVI, in a world where the Eight Virtues are ascribed to by no one(including the Avatar himself), and the gameplay devolves into an uninteresting "let's mob the enemy all at once and end the fight three seconds later with half the party dead and the player wondering what happened" style of combat. Ultima VIII actually elicited an apology from Origin, for being so pathetic. Now, the Avatar had become a cowardly thief, who got his tail kicked by the local equivalent of a cow and who seemed less interested in righting the wrongs of the alien world he'd landed in than in returning to Britannia, leaving the land of Pagan in even worse condition than when he'd arrived. I didn't have the heart to try UIX, even when the price dropped to nine bucks.

Needless to say, Origin has gone out of business. Mr. Garriot is forming a new company, and good news!- he's decided to go back to the formula that worked. His new game-still in development-will feature the same elements that put UIV on the map. For those of you who are interested, Ultima IV was released as "abandonware" some time ago, meaning that you can download it for free, without running afoul of any laws. (This was originally done to rally interest in UIX)

Whooo, a wordy post(I guess this makes up for not posting for the previous couple of Mailbags...). As an aside, I'd like to plug my current works. I'm actively contemplating a quick fanfic for Halloween, as Weila requested, based on Romancing Saga III. And Oh! Joy of Joys! Shining Force: Behind The Screen: Chapter VII, is almost finished, after over a year on hiatus. Big thanks to Constant Drachenfals, for giving me a savestate so I could resume work, and to Dustin from the Western Martial Arts forum for the information on the physics behind an energy sword(Though I doubt he frequents this website...)...

Ultima has always seemed to be a good series, but I've yet to try it out. The earlier ones definitely sound quite interesting so I'll check those out sometime relatively soon. Plus, RS3 Fanfics are an excellent idea. More people should do those!

Except on good non-RS3 games.

Boo hiss! BOOO HISS!

Silence from the Peanut Gallery please.

Pleh, why don't... er... uh... you... silence yourself... yeah.

Clever. Real clever. You spend an hour thinking that one up?

...Yes. *hangs his head in shame*

*Laughs at Kagon*

You could grab the next reply... it'd make me feel better. ;_;

Okay. Next one up is Helen Donaldson. Welcome back, Helen.

Ah heh heh.... it HAS been a long while since I last posted to the mailbag, hasn't it? Let's just say that I was either really busy or really lazy. You nice people can decide which.

Now, the topic.... let's see, my answer will be very, VERY obvious when I say that my favourite RPG in terms of overall uniqueness is Live-A-Live. (Oh, come on, admit it, you were all expecting me to say that.) What we have here in this muchly unknown and/or underrated gem is a battle system which is so unique that no other RPG has anything remotely similar, a story which spans from the Prehistoric ages to the Far Future, and a extremely twisted sense of humour that I just happen to be very fond of. Alright, alright, so it can be immature, but I still love it. There is no doubt other stuff which makes Live-A-Live so unique, but right now I can't bring myself to think of anything more.

There, now aren't you all upset that Helen has started posting to the Mailbag again? And now that I've brought myself to do so, it'll probably be a while before you're all rid of me again. And I do realise that I have made a lot less sense than usual. Blah.

- Helen

Welcome back Helen! =D Yes, Live-A-Live was a very unique RPG- it had a new spin on a Chapters idea that was done quite beautifully. I absolutely loved the Prehistoric age.

I played some of LaL. It was fun. Need to start it up again.

Yes, you definitely do need to start it up again. Our next reply comes from Igatona, that good 'ol wacky Iga ninja.

Hello you bunch of happy-go-lucky mental people! This is Igatona, for one of his rare-y mailbag replies nowadays. Finally a subject I can answer to!

Well, the most unique RPG I ever played has got to be...you guessed it, Persona 2 : Eternal Punishment. First of all, it introduces to the player a world of corruption and insanity that isn't that insane. A world where rumors can, and will come true, and a world where the guy on the street could try to kill you.

As far as the story goes, it's great, magnificent. "You have fist of God!" style. It's just that good. There's a lot of it that makes references to Persona 2 : Innocent Sin (which never got over here), but it all comes together at the end for one big final bang.

As far as the gameplay goes, I find a game refreshing when it introduces another aspect to the fighting. If you don't want to fight, why not talk to the demon! Or even better, dance the Flamenco in front of him (yes, you can do that!).

Plus, the game has so many options, there's a casino, optional dungeons, a secret dungeon, replayability, 2 different routes to explore more of the plot, an EX dungeon that's just too good and finally.

New twists on mythological creatures. Did you see Helios as a cat wearing a mask that stands on its hind legs? I didn't think so.

Oh, and 984, yes, I'm working on that sprite sheet.

See you everyone! *boom*

Hmm, Persona does sound quite interesting and definitely unique, especially the fighting style. It's nice that you can actually do other things than bash your opponents heads in.

Actually, I did picture Helios that way.

Er, you did?

Yep. Think about it. I'm the guy whose voices in his head were made flesh. Does picturing a minor god as a cat seem that weird?

...Yes, yes it does.

Oh. Okay then. Carry on.

Fine, I think I will. Our next response is from Green Mage.

Hoo boy, It's been a while since I've written into the mailbag team. I'll start with the formalities. Well, actually, I have no idea who's going to be doing this mailbag, so I'll just have to guess at who's going to be doing it. Hello Megaman984. Yo Kagon, what's up? Qu Tal, SG? I know the mailbag topic isn't "Greet the RPGC Mailbag Staff", but I figured you guys would appreciate it. So anyway, I'll actually include something to do with the topic now.

Not much is up, except that SG IS NOT HERE ARRRRRRRRRRRR.

Yeah. And the topic IS greet the Mailbag Team. The secret topic that is.

Of course!

Know what GM wins then?

A cow?

Nope. He wins... Absolutely Nothing!

Congrulations GM! Now, to receive your Absolutely Nothing, you'll need to send me your name, address, credit card number, mother's maiden name, and your phone number.

And Social Security Number.

My favorite RPGs have been the FPSRPGs that Warren Spectre has helped create. These include Ultima Underworld, System Shock 2, Deus Ex, and soon, Deus Ex 2 (System Shock 1 doesn't really have much stat building involved, but I guess it too could be considered an RPG). There's so many things about these games that I enjoy thouroghly.

All of Warren Spectre's FRSRPGs allow you much more control over your character than is usual in an RPG, so winning the game depends just as much on your talent as it does on your level gaining abilities. Sure, there's a bit more control in newer console RPGs, but most RPGs that still use the old Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, or other turn based systems depend much more on repitition than spur of the moment decisions.

In addition, all of Warren Sectre's games allow an extreme level of interaction with the environment. Ultima Underworld, despite being made around 1990 (Maybe earlier, I forget the exact date) had an usually high level of interaction with the environment for its time. System Shock 2 really ups the level of interaction, by allowing you to pick up, move around, and fiddle with stuff in the environment. Deus Ex, however, is the real crowning achievement in interaction with the environment. There's so many small things in Deus Ex, that even now, after having played it quite a bit, I'm still finding many unusual things. From the bullet casings being ejected from your guns, possibly alerting a guard on a lower level if the casing happens to go over the edge of a building and lands next to them, to stupid things, like the ability to make a huge stack of cardboard crates, trash bags, and other debris, then ignite it on fire by pushing a crate close to a flaming garbage can then back to the pile, setting the whole pile on fire for a virtual bonfire. (Those of you with Deus Ex, try this, it's quite a site to see.)

Also, all of Warren's games can be played from many different angles. System Shock 2 allows you the ability to either rush into combat with guns blazing, the ability to hack into the security system, or, and this is honestly quite unusual for System Shock 2, sneak around. Deus Ex really offers a near free-ended ability to do what you want. I personally like to play the game in a fashion similar to Metal Gear Solid. Sneaking around is quite a power trip. And when things get bad, I like to pull out a knife or sword and pull off ninja-like stunts killing off groups of people in a matter of seconds. However, in Deus Ex there's no one way to play through, you can, for example, also load up on incredibly heavy weapons, break down the front door of the building you need to infiltrate, and kill everyone who's standing in your way, or you could upgrade your Sniping skills and simply take out everyone from a distance, or if you want set up ambushes with mines, and lead people into traps, or a million other things, anything that your evil mind can conjur up!

So to wrap it up the reason I like Warren Spectre's games as much as I do is because it's so easy to get caught up in them. They have the best of all worlds: a detailed world, a great story, the ability to play as you see fit, and a great deal of interactivity so you're not just sitting through what basically amounts to an semi-interactive movie as many RPGs seem to be.

See ya, Mailbag Team, and don't trash too much of my junk. =P

- Green_Mage

Lozl, ur junk iz teh trsashh!!!111

First Person Shooter RPGs... Definitely unique.

Er, I mean, Deus Ex and Deus Ex 2 are excellent games. The ways you can interact with your environment is excellent, and the way the game is just so open is another major plus in my book.

PSHHHH, it's not just your average FPS.

Did I ever say it was average?

Well, no.

Fine then.

Well, get the next reply then!

Energon, get the next reply.

Captain Obvious, get the next reply.

Garland, get the next reply. Obviously.

I, Garland, shall get the next reply! I, Garland, believe it's from Tenchimaru Draconis!

Ah... I crapped out another reply at the last minute, aren't I wonderful?

Yeah, well, it's not as bad as Kagon and the others not even crapping out a late Mailbag. :P

Oh shut up you! It's all SG's fault... still.

Yeah, I hate you guys too.

I don't hate you. I find you huggably cuddlable.

...I hate you!

I smell a Barney parody song!

I don't, sorry man. If you want to parody it, you're on your own.

*Knocks Megaman984 down*

Oof... Guess I won't.

Woah, Garland actually did something.

*Knocks Kagon down*

Bah! Is that ALL you can do? *Knocks Garland down*

*Gets up again then knocks Kagon down again* I get knocked down, then I get up again.

Anyway... I kinda like Tales of Phantasia's combat system. It managed to put semi-turnbased combat into what appeared to be real-time combat. And you could see under Arche's skirt. Somewhat.

...what?

I also really like the Alchemy system in Secret of Evermore. It was rather believeable. A pity tough, that they didn't expend on it. It would have been REALLY cool to try and mix several random ingredients in hopes of making a new spell.

Now... there haven't really been many rpg's with truly innovative stories. But I'm a sucker for biblical references, and I can really dig a story where the church is evil. That usually makes for interesting little plot-twists :P

And characters. Who could forget Baldur's Gate's very own Minsc? That's right, rangers and hampsters everywhere, rejoice! Minsc is in town! And boo, the miniature giant space hampster hath joineth him!

Yeah. I suck at writing stuff like this after midnight. So I am gonna end my little drivel here, so 984, Kag and DG can make fun of me. PONY OUT!

*dissapears in sickenly cute rainbows and hearts*

Beware evil, I'm armed to the teeth and packing a hampster.

And that has to do with Secret of Evermore how?

...It has to do with Minsc of course.

Okay. Do the Hampsters dance?

No, they just chew your eyes out.

Like Slalin?

Exactly! Slalin, show 984 how it's done!

*Charges Energon and starts chewing on his head*

This tickles.

By tickles, you mean it hurts right?

... Maybe.

Oh psh, you'll be crying like a little school girl when he's done with you.

So, I'll be crying like you?

Obviously.

Remind me why I haven't DESTROY YOU BOTH YET?

Cause I won't let you.

...You're so not fun.

If I'm not so fun, why am I letting you get the next Reply?

Well, mainly because you're too lazy to get it yourself.

Your point?

...Bah, fine. Our next reply comes from Tobias, who I'm pretty sure is one of the network admins from out chat server. Or it's just a coincidence.

Kawinkadink.

Well my favorite is the Final Fastasy series.They need to make more like that and less like ogre battle or any 1st person view rpg.To me the best rpg game of all time had to be FF3 on the snes and more games should play like that one!

Yep. FF6 is a fine game. Seems to be taken as the norm for RPGs now though, so I'm not sure it's as unique, but it's good nonetheless.

Eh, I really enjoyed the Ogre Battle games- they were quite different from your run of the mill RPG. I think there needs to be more innovative ones like that really.

Hear hear! Or something...

You don't agree at all do you?

What gives you that idea?

I dunno, I just have this.... feeling.

You keep having that feeling.

Maybe I'll stop, how do ya like that? Huh!?

Fine by me.

What's the matter, Kagon? Slalin got your tongue?

No, he's still chewing on your head fool.

*Munch munch munch*

*Faints and falls on top of Slalin*

Haw, I knew I'd get my revenge eventually! Good job Slalin! Er... Slalin...?

*Muffled grunts then emerges and walks off*

Er, well, that was interesting, looks like another mailbag has drawn to a close.

*Steps on Slalin* Well, now that that's settled, we need a new topic. So, I guess it will be "What is your favorite Minigame in an RPG and why?" Send to you-know-where.

Indeed, see you next time.







...I hate being stepped on... Energon... tasty. *Goes back to chewing on Energon's head*