Gaming’s ovine future

In the past 48 hours, sequels to two of my favorite series have been announced by way of that clearly-not-yet-dead medium, print. First, Famitsu gave us word of Etrian Odyssey III, which scrambles the character class system in new and interesting ways. And then Nintendo Power went and let slip word of Mega Man 10, which is totally not the same as Mega Man X (sorry, Tycho, the junkslut was right this time). OK, so the part about trying to cure a virus that causes robots to go bonkers is totally Mega Man X. But the rest! Totally different.

Anyway, I was fascinated to realize that there’s a common thread connecting these two games. A thread besides being sequels to masterpieces, I mean. That thread: Sheep. So I guess it’s more like yarn than thread. You know, wool and all that.

Yeah. The first announced boss for Mega Man 10 is the nefarious (?) Sheep Man, which I think really captures the bottom-of-the-barrel desperation of some of the latter-day 8-bit Robot Masters. Which isn’t to say I expect MM10 to be as forgettable as Mega Man 4; quite the contrary! I just like how utterly unthreatening the boss design is.

But what does this have to do with Etrian Odyssey III? Well, Famitsu announced several new classes for the game. There’s Phalanx, a heavily-armored spear-wielding class; Monk, who punches things to death, and who will be on my frontlines, because monks are the best class of all; both Pirate and Ninja, who can coexist in the same party despite the Internet’s lies; and Prince/Princess, which are apparently pilfered from 7th Dragon, the game designed by EO’s original director after he bailed on Atlus. Which is kind of weird and uncomfortable and is probably going to make for awkward conversations when EOIII and 7th Dragon bump into each other at the Christmas party.

Anyway, there are also at least five as-yet announced classes that’ll be debuting in EOIII. Famitsu didn’t name them, but they did show sample illustrations. And one of them appears to be a farmer. I have no idea what a farmer would be doing in a grindy RPG unless someone decided to take the term “farming” a little too seriously, but it’ll be interesting to find out. I say he appears to be a farmer because he carries a pitchfork in one hand, and in the other he holds — yes — a sheep.

I can’t imagine what the significance of this connection actually is, but mark my words: It’s significant. I eagerly await the opportunity to learn how, exactly.

29 thoughts on “Gaming’s ovine future

  1. In years to come, people will study the early 2010s as the emergence of the Welsh gaming trends that were to dominate the rest of the century.

  2. I hope EO3 has at least some of the past developer talent on board. I wouldn’t want to be tempted into making any unfounded post-Harmonix Guitar Hero comparisons.

  3. Cartman: Why would you need to hope? The only information we have already confirms the return of EO2’s director/scenario writer, both artists, and music composer.

  4. Very excited for both of these, sheep and all. And the second thing I thought? “Oh, I bet Parish will something interesting to say about this!”

    Ok, I need to go beat EOII.

  5. Here is the secret of how Japanese print (both newspapers and magazines) is staying alive: Their websites suck and provide only a sliver of the content in the physical publications.

    So, print keeps going, but it’s at the expense of significantly worse online information.

  6. ” bottom-of-the-barrel desperation of some of the latter-day 8-bit Robot Masters”

    you are kidding, right? its an ELECTRIC SHEEP

    how do you not get that?

  7. Actually, the DQ games have a sheep summoning farming class. In fact, in DQ7 at least it is hands down the best class in the game. Summoning a stampede of sheep is a 0 MP cost, classification defying, big damage ability, letting you plow through most of the game without ever having to worry about monster immunities. So, there’s totally precedent. Weird, wooly precedent.

    Now, on the MM10 front, I’m curious how they’ll manage to rationalize yet another fire theme. Ember Man? Warm Man? Furnace Man? Exothermic Man?

  8. Flammable Man? Inflammable Man? Global Warming Man? Combustion Man? Pseudo Perpetual Infinite Energy Generator Man?

  9. Oh man is Sheep Man’s design great. So adorable.

    Also, the monk class makes EOIII super tempting even though I don’t even have a DS.

  10. Let’s not forget that Earthbound was a true pioneer of the Sheep-related Video Game genre with things like Wild ‘n Woolly Shamblers.

  11. I need to man up and get a DS. I have a feeling I am missing games I actually want to play for not having one.

  12. “Sheep Man, which I think really captures the bottom-of-the-barrel desperation of some of the latter-day 8-bit Robot Masters”

    Right! The moment I saw Sheep Man, I recognised him as another example of the tongue-in-cheek self-awareness the series now has, similar to the purposely excruciatingly bad box-art of MM9 and now also MM10. He’s so lame, he’s awesome! Unlike Centaur Man, who was just lame…

    On a side note, did anyone else read something in the order the bosses in Mega Man 6 were beaten? Think about it: Knight Man gets beaten by Yamato Man, Yamato Man gets beaten by Tomahawk Man…. I mean, how is that not an allegory for the rise and fall of Imperial Japan during WW2?

  13. Maybe Gridrunner Rev will make its way to XBLA… No man’s games are more Ovine that Jeff “YAK” Minter’s…

  14. I’m thinking that the sheep-holding EO3 guy may be a shepherd, not a farmer, which is actually not unprecedented: Ultima IV, at least, had Katrina the shepherd, representative of the virtue of humility, and thoroughly useless as a party member.

  15. I think youre onto something here, Parish, and it’s time for oyu to put on your investigative journalism hat. Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes!

  16. I still love both Etrian games and got very excited for the 3rd, to me it is still the best series on the ds for classic rpg gaming.More pvc figures for me to end up buying as well.

  17. He’s not just Sheep Man, he’s an ELECTRIC SHEEP Man — which is like, a whole MAGNITUDE of cleverness beyond the usual MM bosses.

  18. I don’t think there’s a way to unsubscribe, but I’m closing comments for this post immediately.

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