Le something something

I’m back from Montreal. It’s an interesting city; I’ve heard more French in the past two days than the rest of my life combined. I wondered aloud before arriving if the Canadian reputation for niceness or the French reputation for snootiness would triumph; ultimately, it seems, French-Canadians are like those hyphenated crayon colors, where the second color in the name is the dominant base and the first color is simply the modifier. Likewise, my experience in Montreal suggests that the “Canadian” part dominates. Although apparently some Québécoise would find such a characterization insulting, so never mind.

The thing that really strikes me about Montreal is that it appears to be some sort of temporal nexus. I planned out this trip months ago; meanwhile, it turns out my parents independently planned a trip there ages ago. We didn’t find out we’d all be in the city at the same time — our first time there for each of us — until a week ago. So I ended up having breakfast with my parents on a business trip. But that’s not all! I also ran into a former coworker who was on the same flight as me, stopping in Montreal for a night on a layover to Spain. And then it turns out another former coworker works PR for Eidos Montreal and we ended up unexpectedly having dinner together.

All that, and I still didn’t have a chance to try poutine. I was hoping to get both that and natto under my belt by the end of the year so I could say I’ve had them and never have to eat them again. Alas.

Oh, right. And to make this relevant to “game spite” and also the justify the image to the right, I should mention I continue trudging my way back toward where I left off in Etrian Odyssey II‘s fourth stratum. After playing some of the game while browsing through articles and Let’s Plays of Final Fantasy VI, though, I’ve decided that what I want more than any other kind of game in the world is an RPG that somehow combines the style and mechanics and perspective of an Etrian Odyssey-like first-person dungeon-crawler with the warmth, charm, characters, and story-driven events of a game like FFVI. Does such a thing exist!? I need to know, world.

23 thoughts on “Le something something

  1. I… I thought I was the only person that wanted a First Person Final Fantasy.

    I’m so happy right now. The only way I could be happier is if they made a First Person Final Fantasy.

  2. Does 7th Dragon count? That kinda fits, but of course it is doomed to be stuck in japan. I don’t know if it has much of a story focus, I’ve never actually played it though.

    Of course there always is the Mother series for first person battles and charming characters.

  3. I’m not sure an EO-game would really work well with an FF-world/story. Not that they’re mutually exclusive; I’m just having trouble imagining it. I like both series for their respective strengths. I enjoyed the EO games because they were so fresh to me, being an RPGer weaned on FF and FF-styled RPGs.

    My dream RPG matchup was already made: a fully-realized, somewhat open-ended Western-style RPG with the character and flavor of FF (particularly Ivalice) . It was called FFXII.

    Maybe the Phantasy Star games are what you’re looking for. I haven’t played them, but from the sound of it, they might be the closest you’ll get.

    • Yeah, only the original Phantasy Star does the first person dungeon crawl angle. The others go top-down.

      I think your best bet here is probably going to be Shining in the Darkness/Shining the Holy Ark.

      • Yes, it´s Camelot, but its a LOT more interesting than Golden Sun etc… their old work for Sega was generally far better that what they deliver today.

      • That IS how I recall it being, but I last seriously played it when I was I believe 13 or 14. Was actually engaged in the story unlike Golden Sun at least.

      • Eusis: i Player a Bit of it recently when trying out a Saturn emulator and was surprised, how good it still felt and how comparatively fresh the Story seemed. No comparison to the Boring Golden Sun.

      • Believe me, camelots older Games are much better than their modern stuff. You really should give them a chance.

      • Thumbs up to Shining the Holy Ark. Great, great game.

        Yeah, I know you don’t like most of Camelot’s stuff, Jeremy, but give it a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  4. Regarding Poutine, when you find yourself in Seattle for PAX, you can get more than a reasonable version of it at The Smith on Capitol Hill in Seattle:


    I’ve taken Quebec natives there for comparison purposes and their review was genuinely glowing. It’s roughly a mile at most from the Washington State convention center. Highly recommended as a place not just to go for Poutine, but also for a good drink or two. It may not be served in its home field, but rest assured you’ll be getting the full experience.

  5. Have you played Wizardry: Tales of the Forsaken Land? It’s a dungeon slog with a decent story and a unique emotional atmosphere. It’s for PS2, if you still have one of those.

  6. Montreal is a very fractured city, the prime example of The Two Solitudes. I would say that many Montrealers, perhaps even a majority, consider themselves to be Quebecois rather than Canadian. But whether you saw that or not will depend entirely on where you went in the city, and the downtown/touristy areas tend to be more English/Canadian.

  7. Poutine is one of Canada’s greatest contributions to cuisine. That may not speak well for Canada, but poutine is not nearly as gross as people think. Cheese curds are delightful. And what’re people’s problems with fries and gravy? Three great things that go great together.

    Having said that, Jeremy, I may as well take this opportunity to thank you for doing what you do. As a 40ish gamer whose twenties were completely without videogames, I love current systems but have a really soft spot for the Atari, Coleco, and Vectrex of my youth. To my shame, I only discovered your work recently, so I’ve been catching up on your writings and on old Retronauts. When you did the recent podcast on Colecovision, you satisfied my #1 desire for as-yet-uncovered topics (I wish there had been more discussion of the many idiosyncratic Coleco games that were unique to that system, but so be it – I was thrilled to finally hear my first system discussed).

    So, like I said, thanks! (Now stop being so self-effacing in your podcasts…)

  8. On the topic of dream RPGs, I was playing 3D Dot Game Heroes the other night and thought, “How cool would an open-world game using 8- or 16-bit graphics be?”

    A pixelated take on the Elder Scrolls series overworld/dungeons with the mechanics of Etrian Odyssey. Delicious.

  9. Shining the Holy Ark still holds up reasonably well, though the translation’s not as good as it could have been. It’s also a little bit stupid at times, but good fun nonetheless.

    Another option already mentioned would be Phantasy Star 1 on the Master System. The problem is the terrible translation (though adequate for when it was released) and the grindy difficulty. The Sega Ages 2500 M2-emulated port allows you to play it in “easy” mode though, which ups the experience and meseta from each battle and thus makes the game playable if you’re time-poor like myself.

    It’s a pity the Sega Ages 2500 vol. 1 remake never received a localisation, as I recently played through it and the extra dialogue seems interesting from what I can translate. The graphics and audio are very practical, but the difficulty is still punishing. I ended up hacking my levels and meseta as I couldn’t be bothered grinding, which left me to worry about getting through the dungeons and triggering the necessary story event (in the correct sequence) rather than spending hours grinding my character levels.

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