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RPG Classics Mailbag

Well, a decent turnout for this mailbag. People like this stuff, I guess. Go figure. Although the answers weren't as widely dispersed as the villain question (not to mention I only got half the responses from then, but go figure) we still got a nice diverse reaction, ranging from the intelligent to this.

So what do you think?

About what?

What's your favorite hero?

Me? No question. Quina!


Who the hell is Quina?

What? I say something wrong?

Yep, Quina. Come on, you've got the search for enlightenment, the great ability to swallow anyone you want, and deep Zen-like culinary prowess. What else do you need in a hero?


Ahem. On to the first reply, by SilverMage.

Well, well..... An enraged FFCompendium Message board poster has decided to join this humble mail bag........ Let me first say that with the fact that the only RPGs i play are usually the FFs (although i do play others, Skies of Arcadia for one) my response to the mailbag may be a bit shallow. I think both versions of the mailbag are great and etcetra..... okay... now for one, ive noticed in the more recent FF RPGs (7-9), the heroes are people who they try to make you feel sorry for but then they make the hero too cocky and unlikable........ i must say Cloud, Squall and Zidane aren't exactly favored by me........ other heroes, like Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, and Locke from FF6 are very likeable and are extremley cool! the main hero is usually a wild card...... i barely ever like the results........ secondary heroes are usually very cool, Vivi had a great storyline.... Sabin was a goofball....... Aika (Skies of Arcadia again people....) was just plain cool.....Magus is the best of ChronoTrigger..... even a horrible game like FF8 (IMO at least) has a likable character... in FF8's instance, Zell! next i go into my thrid hand heroes, who are heroes from a game that seems to have no center character, like in FF5...... they are usually very well balanced by each other and extremley cool such as Faris..... lastly we have the "used-to-be-villain-but-are-now-goodguys" heroes..... these guys are a pain to battle against, but give you great advantages when theyre with you.......

all in all a hero is a very likeable character to someone and a complete doofus to another....... i hope i summed this up well enough... Well, this is SilverMage, signing off! (i've always wanted to say that)

True. A lot of people tend to like secondary characters better than main heroes... although if they spent as much time with Vivi as they would with Zidane, I have a feeling their positions would be switched. And a LOT of people quoted Magus as their favorite hero - and seriously, I'd probably agree. Heroes may be noble, but they're NEVER cool. Personally, I thought Stahn from Tales of Destiny was a hilarious hero... but definitely not cool. The closest they ever came was Ashley Riot from Vagrant Story, and even he had to put up with many sniggering remarks about his wardrobe.

Hey foo'! You should read that one over here!*point to some letter*

Huh? Hmmm, one from the Vault Dweller. Now why does this sound familiar? Let's see...

Greetings there, Cid!
The Vault Dweller is speaking here!
I suppose, by seeing the number of responses you had with the last 'bag, I felt nessecary to mail too.
Annyway, About the Hero's nessecity 'n stuffs right? Let see....First, we have to see what KIND of heros you can have.

And for that, all depends of the style. In the Pen-And-Paper Based RPGS(Baldur's Gate, Fallout, etc) and Non-Linear games(Might and Magic, RS3, You name it!) or the Mute-Hero Effect RPGS(CT, BoF), the personality dosent matters at all: Seeing YOU make the char, YOU Customise it(Most of the time), IT A Avatar(Most of the time also), in short.(Perfect Example: the Ultimas Series). In most, It where there more Role Play(For the kiddies out here: It mean of taking the Role of certain character, not bringing it to Semi-God powers, not that there something wrong with that.)

However, about the games that I call "Specator Type"(FF, , where you just guide the heroes around, personality is needed, since it, most of the time, the sole attraction. Minus the Story.

But I'm missing the point right here, right? Let me get to it.
By my personal RPG experience: A Hero is most of the time:

1: Somehow a kind of Mercenary or Freelancer fighter.
2: Semone who lost a relative(Mom, Pop, G/F, Brother, Dog, Whatever.)
3: Need mental medication.(Cloud is famous for this)
4: Somehow need punky hair(But that the Anime style/games, I guess)
5: Are the "Chosen One".

That all I could think the top of my head for that...Now, let see Personality.

For the games Non-Linears and stuffs, Personality is partialy non-existant, seeing YOU make the personality by your actions, so let skip that directly to the other type.

Personality cant be uniform, or totaly different from the Hero style. But what IS the hero style? Usualy, it a Self-Confident, Goodie-two-shoes, chivalrous hero. That what they used to be. Now?

We got a anti-social womanising, headmessed, Happy-Joy-Joy and anoying heroes(Your cue, Riona).

By looking at that, you can surly guess they far from the Hero stereotype. And, they wasent bad characters at all, just not following the "Hero's Official Guide to Heroness(TM)" wich states what I've saide. Of course, they not totaly oblierating the Heros stereotype...but....Arg, forget it....I just confused myself with all that.

The Vault Dweller from the Holy Vault 13 singing off

A lot of people like signing off today... hmmm... anyway: I like the five points (heroes don't HAVE to need mental medication, but it helps!) Doesn't really say what a hero should be, but makes a nice point of ridiculing what a hero usually is. And it's definitely true that we went from almost superhuman heroes to too-human heroes, without ever really getting anywhere in the middle, which is where most people want to be. And of course the idea of having an avatar as a hero is one of the oldest tricks in the book; not only were they used in online RPGs, but FF1 and 3, and to an extent Chrono Trigger and Cross, also used these. People get mad at them not having personalities, but the point is that you kind of imagine their personalities yourself. If you could actually change said personality based on choices in conversation it'd be cooler, but I digress.

Aye, I agree with all. Personality of the heros, it all depends of the type of game.

By the way, Lunaris, that typo-ridden reply seemed to be very familiar... friend of yours, huh?

Er!...Of..of course it a friend of mine! We..had the same typist teacher! Yeah, that the ticket!

Ah. *Close* friend, then. Anyway, we next come to Megaman984. Strangely enough, he's one of two people who mentioned Odysseus as one of their hero examples, but I printed his because he's the only one who spelled it right. Heh.

Just for clarification, the only reason I said that the Dreamcast would be the first next gen system to die out is because there are many fan boys out there that won't even bother with it because they don't like Sega. It is a great system, but the only reason is because some people just don't trust Sega. Sega has a history of systems that did not fare to well. That's the only reason. It is a good system. Anyway, onward to the Mailbag!

Could be, good be. Although I think Sega's fans are if anything even more rabid than Nintendo ones. Perhaps given Sega's rather nasty Nintendo-bashing commercials, it only makes sense. As you said, though, onward to the mailbag.

*Trumpets play*
*Fireworks go off*
*People cheer*
*Parades are held across the world*
*A man in Wisconsin says, "Yipee. I am so excited."

Er, what does this have to do with the mailbag?

Dont think so, but if it continue..I'M GONNA LOSSES MY SELF CONTROL!

Hmmm... I think that man in Wisconsin was being sarcastic. No problem though. My secret police will deal with him.

I think your so-called secret police will run into problems when they find out that the man in Wisconsin was actually Gino "Butch" Giovanni, heir to the Giovanni mafia cartel and all-around badass... make sure your secret police don't become so secret they just sort of... disappear. And are found a week later in the river with cement shoes.

What's the role of the hero?

The role of the hero is a simple one. The hero is the protagonist of the story. There can be multiple heroes like there are in Final Fantasy 6 or there can be anti-heroes that don't want to save the world, but that burden is still placed upon them. The type of hero generally depends on the story. A happy go lucky hero is best used in a story that is supposed to have some sort of uplifting message about chasing your dreams. Loner heroes work in stories where they are meant to be a dynamic character and change over the course of the story.

The type of hero does have an impact on the game though. If the hero is to sullen, then he might not be liked as much. If the hero is to cheerful, it makes it seem like he doesn't care about his duty to save the world. The type of hero can generally make or break a game if the type is handled correctly. Many fans don't like Squall because he is to much of a loner and doesn't say much. These same people like Ryudo from Grandia II because he has plenty of funny lines despite the fact that he's a loner. He changed over time, but I did not sense any sort of change in Squall.

A hero doesn't have to be perfect to be a good hero. If the hero is perfect and has no flaws, then there is no need for the gods that probably gave the hero his duty to protect the world. This can be traced back throughout time in stories. Hercules was a hero to the heart, but his fatal flaw was his temper. Odysseus was a hero, but his downfall was his pride. He could have easily made it home, but he wanted to gloat about blinding the Cyclops Polyphemos. The hero must generally follow the laws of the land, but he needs not be perfect. The hero must have some sort of weakness to be believable.

As for the coolness of the hero, the hero must be cool. It wouldn't be very fun going around saving the world as some sort of computer nerd like Bill Gates. The hero must have memorable lines like:
"If your idea of fun is wading through rivers of blood, gobbets of flesh and guts fresh upon your lips, then yes, it will be fun."

"If I'd listened to every word of advice I've gotten, I would've killed you all and taken your gold."

Or the ever classic:

The hero has to be cool. He doesn't have to talk, but it helps add to his coolness factor if he has memorable lines.

There. That's it. That's my definition of the hero. For your next question, you should ask "What is the role of the sidekick?"

Let's see... truth is, there aren't too many "anti-heroes" around... most RPG heroes actually do want to save the world; no Bilbo Bagginses here. Squall is maybe the only exception, but he doesn't want to do anything else either, so no big deal there.

...Whatever. Watch your mouth or I'll sue.

To which I say: Hah. Squall actually did change by the end of FF8 - his ideals, that is. His personality didn't change, but it'd be less believable if it did. People's personalities don't change like that very often. I didn't like Squall very much either, but I liked the way other people reacted to his often ridiculous lonership.

As for the role of a sidekick... it's to provide a foil to the hero so that people can have an outlet for their laughter, right?

*blank look* No. The role of a sidekick is to be by the *side* of the hero and to be *kicked* often. Like so... *pushes a button*

Me and my big friggin' mouth... *falls down a plot hole*

There, wasn't that fun? Can't you just feel the stress rolling off you? What a catharsis! *waits while every single reader goes to look up "catharsis"* Hah, and you thought I was swearing. On to the next one, by Celes, a Mysidian with purple hair. No, really.

Hey, I never did any of Macc's so feel proud lol. And if you don't use mine well, I'll just...whatever you. Ahahaha! Anyhow I thought I'd look at the Hero's of the Final Fantasy games first then go into a few others and a lot of odd confusing stuff. Someone else probably already mailed you with some of my points, but oh well.


FF4: Cecil is great. He overcomes his dark side he's really 1/2 Lunarian, Golbez's bro. Though Kain would have been a better main character for the game's just he is played for a pawn, controlled, manipulated, but comes back to do good. His love for Rosa that can never be, his duty to the Dragoons, etc.

FF6: Terra is good too. I guess she's the main character ;) She shows a great evolution in finding herself and her 1/2 Esper background is quite interesting. Now, we finally get to the reason why I wrote this.

Butz, Cloud, and Squall (Zidane? well not done 9 yet though over 106 hours in lol). These guys are so terribly lame! Add Crono too. No real background. Yeah they have some but it's lame too. They are just lame boring characters. They are all the same basic stereotype. Why couldn't Vivi be the main character of a game. Why is it always someone who is a good fighter (yes Zidane is a thief, but he's physically good too). I had practically no feelings whatsoever for these characters. A character needs to have a deep compelling background and break the mold as a character not being the same old type of person. They seem to have no real motivation just feel like being the leader. The villain shows up does something bad and they feel it's their duty to fix it. Also, super annoying is that you have to have them. I don't want to play Zidane sometimes but I can't exchange him. I'm stuck with him. I don't even bother getting Crono back because he's so lame. Magus is so much more compli! cated. I just wish they would have gone into more detail with him.

Let me get more on topic. A hero has to be original not a rehash. And I want a female main character or one of the main villains to join in like Magus did.

Why does a game need a main character anyway? It seems like things could flow together with just a group of people with similar interests. If there is a main character and I don't like him, I'm screwed so to speak. You can't do anything about it. The game is going to revolve around a character that you hate :P and you just have to put up with it. Also, you never get to play the characters you want like Beatrix...oh off topic..well okay :D I want to have a bunch of options for each character and when you do one, that prevents you from doing similar ones for other characters. This way you can focus on one character and build your own main character essentially. It's complicated I guess.

Oh yeah...Mario RPG? Mario? M.A.R.I.O? Mario? yeah right. I enjoyed the game but come on, that is what I would call a regular RPG as oppose to an Epic RPG. Mario is so way past overhyped much like pokemon. It's an RPG but is there any development in the main character?.........."I've Got to catch them ALL"...or is that buy every Pokemon product available?...:P

How about Lunar SSSC? Well, Alex doesn't have that awful much background, but really Luna more than makes up for that. Still, the other character's were more interesting than Alex for the most part...well except Nash, everyone knows he's lame haha.

Breath of Fire 2?...same thing as above.

Here is a main character I would be interested in. Serves in the empire of the main bad guy and serves loyally. You actually get to play going around and beating up people and doing bad things in general. You don't have any doubts about it (unlike Cecil) but then you meet someone who works in your group and fall in love only to find that this person was a spy for some sort of resistance movement. You can't bear to kill the person or turn them in and just let them go, as your heart is still with them. Then you SLOWLY come around to understand what you are doing is wrong. Say a 4 disk game? Well you have to play until the end of disk 2 before you finally confront the guy you work for and then in disk 3, join up with the good guys (though you get to play as them throughout the game at times up to this point).

Well there you go and feel free to edit as needed. Adios! *_*

WHEW, that was a long one. Let's see... I think my thoughts can be summed up as follows: "106 hours? What the hell are you DOING for so long?!"

No, the rest of the stuff, doofus!

I've always wondered how you come up from that plot hole so quickly.

See? I'm floating. I just have to come right back up, see?

Uh? So why do you fall down in the first place?

Comic relief.

Good point. OK, back to Celes... I really liked that last idea... Xenogears *almost* does that; it would if you'd actually control Elly instead of Fei, heh. I also agree that RPGs should let people change their hero like they did in FF6. FF9 was especially ridiculous because every character took the reins at SOME point, so why not whenever you liked? I loved Mario RPG as well, but not because of any artistic reason, but because it was just so much damn fun... same reason why I loved Tales of Destiny. Some nice ideas in that post. Now we come to... Space Guy, again. This was the dude who said I'd make a good villain.

I still think he was right.

Lunaris, I thought I told you to smoke this guy.

Don't you know? Bad guys NEVER die.

We can keep trying, though. But I've got a better idea. No stupid firepower this time!

Oh, yeah? What do you got up your sleeve this time?

THIS! *presses a button*

Ah, come on! You think I'm gonna fall for your plot hole shtick?

Not for a second. *ten thousand pound weight falls on Evil Cidolfas* But I did think you'd fall for that. Lunaris, clean it up.

Alright alright...let see...*goes to table wich have about a dozens of very big gun*...Mm..Disruptor Cannon might be good...*take it, vaporise the weight and place the cannon back*..

Back to Space Guy.

Ummmm, hi there Cidolfas, it's me again the Space Guy... (You probably don't remember me) Anyways, where is the ORIGINALITY, man? I mean, your first topic was TV-Series into RPG games, and then Movies into RPG games. Now you have first this villain thingy, and then a hero-thingy... (Yes, I know you had a next generation-console topic in the middle, but I've figured out that that was only something you has there so you wouldn't have to be yelled at because of your lack of originality...)

Hey, I never agreed to be original here. You got a better idea, go ahead and tell me! Sheez, I can't think of EVERYTHING!

Well, enough about that... I just wanna say, Ozzie, I can't understand the debate on wether you are a pig or a mystic. Anyone can see that you are a mystic, but anyone with a tiny bit of brains would rather be a pig than a mystic.

Why? Mystics are the greatest species on earth!

Except that they don't exist.

A technicality.

Okay, I'm blabbering away without even touching the topic, let's see... Heroes, what do we need them for? Heroes are just stupid anyway, they walk around not nowing anything throughout the game, and at the end, they kick the villains ass (and I happen to like the villain) Every time you want the hero in an RPG to do something, you wont be allowed to, because the ones who made the game decided that wasn't possible. The hero is also very puny (a bit like you, Cidolfas), while the Villain is STRONG! So I say, let's kick the heroes out of the RPG's and start controlling the Villains, they rock (the villains, not the Heroes)! Well, I will leave now, see you later (yeah right!) and have a nice day!

So now I'm the quintessential hero as well, huh? I always thought I was the quintessential Guy Who Laughs At Everyone Else. Yeah, though, controlling villains would be nice. Everyone always wants to play as Sephiroth/Ramsus/Kefka/etc. Why not let them? Square, put out a special Villains CD where all the villains form a hero team and bash the daylights out of namby-pamby heroes! Yeah! On to yet another reply, this time by Rirse, yet another Mysidian, who got so mad at me after I didn't print his villains reply that I felt compelled to do it this time.

Hi Cidolfas I'm back from my vactional in Flordia(that why I didn't sent in a response last week). Well the last bag I sent in was the biggest bag yet, but that because it was a very good topic. The topic from last week was meh(average)so it was a below average turn out. Well this week you gone back to the good topic route so I doubt you air this letter. No matter anyways, I just sent in my reply anyways. Of course the RPG depends on the hero appearence and personality. Before I get too deep into the topic, let us go back in time to the beginging of RPG. Look at Dragon Warrior 1 for example(I know it called Dragon Quest, but I too used t the warrior part). As you know, it was the founder of traditional RPG. Well in that game it had a personity less hero. But people care? No! While his appearence wasn't that great due to the NES graphics(not saying it bad looking). Well flash forward to last year with game like Final Fantasy 9, Ogre Battle 64, and Chrono Cross. Those games had very big personity filled charaters. You probly play Cross and 9 by now, so I skip them. But in Ogre Battle 64, you have the option(well you can't choose it, but you do so in the battlefield) or becaming evil or good. Save times and let leader less units live and you might be good. But captured towns and kill everything and you became mad at the end. Well it show that some games have good heroes and bad heroes. I think most people wanted the main character to be bad in a way. That why character like Magus and Sephiroth are fan favorites(I know Sephiroth isn't playable, but still)while Squall and Mario who are pure good are usually not everyone favorite hero. And heroes who are part good and part bad.*CHRONO CROSS SPOLIER* how in Ogre Battle 64 the hero has the choose of being bad or good or in Chrono Cross where the hero is given his evil father body while his own body became evil as Dark Serge. In general, I think the player find the bad hero more enjoyable then the Squall type of perfect hero with a bunch of girls with him. I end with the quote of "This is my opinion and I could be wrong." - Dennis Miller.

That was quite possibly the longest paragraph I've ever seen. I do like the fact that in Ogre Battle type games you can actually shape your character by his actions. I'd like it even more if, as I've said, you can shape it with his conversations. Star Ocean 2 does a nice job of that, actually. And just to wrap everything up SO nicely, here's a reply by I Abdide which kind of incorporates the last three responses all in one nice package, available now for only ten easy payments of $39.95.

To begin, I repeat the technical definition that I utilized when I answered the "Villain" question: "A hero(ine) begins her / his career ignorant, small, and weak, and ends it wise, great, and strong. A villain(ess) begins her / his career wise, great, and strong, and ends it ignorant, small, and weak." It is my opinion that there can be no Yang without a corresponding Yin, and though I usually cheer for the villains, I recognize the fact that they cannot be Evil unless there are Good heroes to fight them. A respectable hero is just as three-dimensional as a disreputable villain. I must also repeat my belief that heroes can contain villainous elements, and that villains can contain heroic elements. For example, Claude C. Kenni (Star Ocean: The Second Story) is a respectable hero, since his bravery and his compassion are balanced out by his insecurity and his selfishness. Unlike a disreputable villain, however, a respectable hero must also be likable, so that she / he can appeal to the player, who will be spending quite a bit of time with them. To use a second example, Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII) and Squall Leonhart (Final Fantasy VIII) are often berated by fans for being thoroughly unlikable, since the former seems to have a problem figuring out exactly what "women" are, and the latter has a demeanor comparable to that of a certain bodily orifice. On the other hand, Zidane Tribal (Final Fantasy IX) and Vivi Ornitier (Final Fantasy IX) both have quite a few fans, the former because he combines his heroism with banditry and mischief, the latter because he is heroic beneath a veneer of insecurity and shyness. I personally prefer Vivi to Zidane, since there is something appealing about a hero whose heroism is delightfully understated, rather than blasted upon trumpets. The best sort of hero is the one whose actions can be controlled directly by the player, like the rebel leader, Lexar, in Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, who can be made into a paragon of virtue, a benevolent dictator, or the spawn of Hell, depending upon the choices his controller makes. This is the ultimate mix of Evil and Good in a single entity. I could go on, I suppose, but I will just leave the "Hero" question at that for now.

Le soldat bleu en exil,
I Abibde
(The Mad Dwarf)

Not much to say here which I haven't said already. Nice solid reply there. And now to business. Next week's topic is "What makes an RPG?" Would you call Secret of Mana an RPG? How about Vagrant Story? Or Parasite Eve II? Super Metroid? Zelda: Majora's Mask? What is the defining factor? Menu-based battles? Character growth? Monsters? E-mail the White House of Mailbagginess at But wait: I'm not finished.

As someone already pointed out, I'm running out of topics. I need more! So for next week, besides for the main topic, I want everyone to send me in ideas for serious or funny topics to take care of in future mailbags. I won't post the topics, but if I use your topic I'll quote your name. Unless I think of it first in which case you're up the creek, pal. 8p

That's not very nice.

Hey, I'm training to be a perfect villain. Gotta start somewhere. Not rewinding video tapes isn't a very good start, is it?

Don't ask me. Apparently I'm a failure as a villain.

But a great punching bag! I leave you with one final reply sent by someone with WAYYYY too much time on his hands:


What's in a hero? A hero by any other name would smell just as sweet. Uhhhh... Never mind.

The role of the hero is to do good, fight evil, and downright be heroic. I personally don't like silent heroes like Cloud or loner heroes like Squall. A hero should be somewhat friendly and actually talk.

In my opinion, the hero can make or break a game. A hero that no one really likes might kill a game that has a decent plot. A likable hero can actually help sell a game that has an average plot.

When you ask how good a hero has to be, I interpret that as obeying laws. Most heroes don't obey laws. They go into houses unwanted and steal from the treasure chests in that house. They kill mercilessly. They sometimes even lie. Now if you mean good as in following the gods of good, then heroes should lean towards that. They don't have to be saintly, but they should still do what's right for the world. As for coolness, a hero must be cool like Fonzie. They need good catchphrases, something that stands out and is either funny and/or cool.

And now, a special treat for Cidolfas. It's a parody of "Billy Don't Be A Hero" called "Ciddy Don't Be A Hero." I warn you though, it is EXTREMELY bad.

The RPGC Staff came down along the Internet
The staff blues fell in behind
I looked across and there I saw Ciddy
Waiting to go and join the line
And with her head upon his shoulder
His mother in make up by Mary Kay
From where I stood I saw she was cryin'
And through her tears I heard her say

Ciddy, don't be a hero, don't be a fool for your page
Ciddy, don't be a hero, come back and get engaged
And as he started to go she said, Ciddy, keep your head low
Ciddy, don't be a hero, come back to me

The staff blues were trapped on a site
The deadlines scattered all around
Then Macc cried, "I've got to hang on, boys!
I need some one to put this up on time
I need a volunteer to rise up
And run this RPG mailbag"
And Ciddy's hand was up in a flash
Forgettin' all the words she said

She said
Ciddy, don't be a hero, don't be a fool for your page
Ciddy, don't be a hero, come back and get engaged
And as he started to go she said, Ciddy, keep your head low
Ciddy, don't be a hero, come back to me

I heard his mother got an e-mail
That told what Ciddy did that day
The e-mail said that he was a hero
She should be proud what he did that day
I heard she deleted that e-mail away ...

Yeah. I know it was bad. I was in a very silly mood when I wrote this. Note to self:
Don't write any more song parodies unless you do. There. That solved that.

Note to self: Never print another song parody unless you have a few extra clubs with nails in it to apply to the parodist. And my mother never checks her e-mail, so it's factually incorrect as well.



GOODAMNIT! Thanks to you, I'll have nightmares for a week after hearing that song!*growls*...And get out of here, Cid! That MY bottom!

Your bottom, huh? OK, you can have it back.

Good boy.