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Old 01-15-2004, 07:33 AM   #436
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Atlus may become some fierce competition down the road. They've got the skill and the right attitude to do it. Also, while some companies like Konami, Capcom, and others make good RPGs they don't get looked upon the same way because they're not usually associated with RPGs. They tend towards the action/fighting crowds. I'd like to see companies like Falcom make a big splash, and at least Konami decided to bring out Ys VI, otherwise we might not have the chance to play it (in English at least).

FF titles simply haven't been good as of late. That's why people are trying to sell so many of them.
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Old 01-15-2004, 10:45 AM   #437
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So do you guys say "Final Fantasy TEN-TWO or EKS-TWO"?
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Old 01-16-2004, 09:57 AM   #438
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Demon City

Persona ~ Revelations - PS - Rating 7
My desire for good RPGing has been subjected to lackluster titles as of late - Xenosaga, Final Fantasy X-2, etc. - and one good semi-RPG title with Mario & Luigi ~ Superstar Saga. It was when I played FFX-2 that I realized that I needed to satisfy my inner hunger lest my senses should be dulled by constant subjectation to the inferior standards set by such a company as Square (who'd better reignite my respect for them with FFXII). Such feeble RPG titles can only be harmful to one's better judgement. It was then that I looked over my PS library and found many titles that I hadn't played in a long time yet which offered something special, titles like Lunars 1 & 2, Tales of Destiny II, and Final Fantasy VII. To hell with what GMR says; FFVII is still one of the very best RPGs made for a home console, far superior to such crap as, oh, XS and FFX-2 which they gave absurdly high ratings to. That should tell you something about their standards. Because let's face it -- no matter how lacking FFVII's story is the game itself is damn sweet, and besides, it's not like those other two actually have good plots and scenario writing. Do people actually play games or do they just read them hoping to find a good novel?
Good thing I never made the mistake of subscribing to their magazine....
Just know that Persona ~ Revelations is very fun and very challenging as well, showcasing a superbly unique world for an RPG with a modern day city called Lunarvale as the focal location of the game. Encounter Guido Sardenia who runs a mob-like corporation called Sebec that's hindered by strange rumors and occurrances. He's rumored to be behind some shady business that's definitely not for the better of the city. Ever since their appearance there have been strange men in black suits wandering the town, and nobody knows what their true purpose is. Something sinister and forbidding lurks within the inner recesses of the city's shadow....
You play the role of a young male protagonist who is playing a game of "Persona" with his high school friends. The game involves each participant walking along the sides of the room calling out for their Persona in the hopes that they will summon the beings. Something goes wrong during the game and a spector of a young female appears and you and your friends get struck by lightning. You awake inside of a dream where you meet a strange character who tells you about how to summon your inner Persona and this is also where you'll name yourself. Afterwards you wake up in the nurses office in St. Hermelin High School. The nurse suggests you go to the hospital to make sure you're in good health (though you should take your time exploring first). At the hospital is Mary, your "special lady friend" who is prone to illness. Something happens, and all of a sudden the hospital is alive with strange creatures such as zombies. You and your friends must attempt to figure out what is going on here. This is just the beginning....
Persona is a long game spanning a large city that should take you 50+ hours to complete. There's a good ending which is only accessible if you make certain choices, so I'll go ahead and leave this here so that you can use it for your own benefit should the need arise ~ http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/psx/file/persona.txt The graphics aren't on the CG quality of even FFVII and yet it still manages to grab me because of how unique it looks. There are three types of views you'll come across - isometric for battling and for when on the adventure map (when characters are shown in 2D), first-person perspective for when you're moving around in dungeons and so forth, and an overworld that's plain with flat-shaded ploygons but represents a living, breathing city busy with cars and common folk (you're party is represented as an upside-down green cone of some sort). When you're battling or in a location conversing you can visibly see the party members and even talk to them individually.
Battling and exploring areas is at the heart of the matter. Prepare to be doing a lot of battling and with some hardy foes. Each party member is able to equip weapons and guns. Notice I made the distinction between the two - this is because you use them seperately. Some enemies are strong against gun attacks and/or weapons so you may have to use your Personas on them. Personas can be considered summons in that you select which command is to be performed by them depending on how well built up the equipped Persona is - they level-up just like you but only up to Lv.8 - and then the characters yells and it appears to perform an offensive/defensive attack or spell. Some Personas are more or less compatible depending on who is equipping it.
Conversing with your enemies is what really seperates Persona from the rest of the RPG pack. While battling you can select to contact the enemy and depending on who is contacting you'll be given various choices, some of which include dance, sing, preach, or ignore. Each enemy has its own personality and reacts differently to different things, and their personality traits are listed after the first contact with the individual type of foe. These include being smart, surly, weak, happy, snobby, grumpy, strong & stupid - usually a combination. Also important to consider is the position of the moon as it plays an insturmental role in what will or will not work. Contacting enemies can reward you with unique items and spell cards and is an effective means of escaping from a more fierce battle. If you're unsuccessful you'll wind up pissing off the wrong foe and being attacked for it. The major difference in Persona 2 is that you can combine different characters for differing methods of persuasion but cannot choose different actions per character.
The soundtrack features a wide scope of musical genres and styles including house, techno, ambient, pop, jazz, classical, and more. I own the soundtracks to this and other Persona titles (known as Shin Megami Tensei in Japan) and I think they're very interesting. Since a lot of the subject matter in the games revolves around the darker side of things the soundtrack often exhibits spooky over/undertones. During some songs you can hear some random chattering and in others moans and screams. Nice work! :cool guy: The sound quality blows FF titles on the PS out of the water. The sound effects are great and the voices are done well enough without getting on my nerves (you most often hear characters speak in battle).
Why spend your time being a servant of corporate sellouts like Square when you can choose a deep quest like which Atlus offers here? Games like these should serve as a reminder that there is much ground yet to be covered. I also recommend Persona 2 ~ Eternal Punishment (PS) because it's another fascinating RPG and even comes included with a special disc that features an animated trailer plus a subtitled interview with the creators of the game! How kick-ass is that? C'mon. You know you want it. What's holding you back? Let's kick demon ass while dancing to some hyper-techno traxxxxxxxxxxxxx!!!

Another Persona review is found here. To borrow the header for this review - "What Happens When Good Games Go Ignored" Damn right! ~ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/megten/...onastrev1.html
Here's the main page where you can access things such as artwork and MIDI versions of some songs ~ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/megten/...a/persona.html
A truly great RPG site with vast coverage and other goodies ~ http://www.rpgfan.com/

"I dreamt I was a butterfly" - Soshi

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Old 01-16-2004, 11:04 AM   #439
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The General Mechanics of Game Structure and Concepts
--Improving Game Designs--

I've decided to write about how game structures are constructed, a little detail about them, and how they might be similar/different to other things. Since there have been many titles that are constructed the same/similar these days I feel it's an opportune time for a serious discussion about this and how things might change for the better (or worse).

In order to understand what I'm talking about I'll give you a demonstration as to how this might work.

Secret of Mana - SNES (16 MEGS) - 1993
Similar title(s) - Final Fantasy Adventure, Legend of Zelda ~ A Link to the Past
The main objective of the game is to transverse a colorful world with two partners killing enemies with weapons like a sword that is charged when not in use for stronger attacks, and elemental magic. Characters gain levels and can power-up the elementals as well which leads to stronger magic attacks. You can also purchase things like in an RPG (or Zelda, if you will) Set from a semi-overhead view.

Usual Traits Exhibited:
-Player moves from point X to Y while destroying enemies A, B, and C. Then a boss fight occurrs.
-Player then moves into new location Z and the story progresses. Player may acquire several additional things in the process.
-Progression X-Y-Z repeats with little variance.
-Flammie appears and the exploration element goes into effect.
-etc.

Now, I'm going to take a different game and explain it. Watch what happens once I've concluded.

Super Metroid - SNES (24 MEGS) - 1994
Similar Title(s) - Castlevania ~ Symphony of the Night
Player moves from location to location in an explorative manner, searching for items and destorying enemies with different weaponry like Ice Shots, etc.. Lots of backtracking involved throughout, and certain items make it possible to access new locations. Set from a side-perspective.

Usual Traits Exhibited:
-Player searches point A - finds two items, moves to point C - finds item and confronts boss, gains new ability, etc.
-Player backtracks and because of new ability gains access to a location not accessible before (i.e. Door 1 + Item X = Locaton B).
-Etc.

Ok. Here's where the fun begins. I'm going to combine the two games, creating an interesting result.

Game X
Using swords, elemental summons, etc., player moves from point A to point C, exploring for new items, backtracks to access new items/locations. Player gains level from killing enemies, as do the elementals whose magics get stronger. Set from a side-perspective.

Now continue to expand on this concept. Let's borrow some other ideas.

From Marble Madness we learn about varying spatial relationships and how they might affect gameplay. Then, from Ninja Gaiden we take a similar approach by adding cinemas at key intervals within the game. Then, from Contra we learn that shooting into the screen can be used effectively, as well as moving into the screen. Etc. etc.

Of course, there is such a thing as being superfluous. There shouldn't be ideas used just for the sake of including 100 ideas. Instead, each should be properly planned and executed to a desirable effect. Sometimes, combining ideas can lead to unexpected concepts.

The bottom line is to use your imaginations and stop just being merely an instant replay of the past. I hope I've contributed something.
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Old 01-17-2004, 09:04 AM   #440
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I want to fly sky-high!

Blazing Lazers - TurboGrafx 16 - Rating 7
Yesterday was boring. I wasn't in a gaming mood and was doing counterpoint studies on my keyboard (D#--F#-Gnat-D--Eb-D-Eb-Bb....) and right now I'm sitting here in misery because somebody is playing a crappy song on the radio "Almost PA-RADISE!! We're knocking on Hea-ven's door!!!" Scary, and sad. But I digress. When I needed a break I turned and saw my TurboExpress and thought to myself "I haven't played that in awhile. Let's see if there's something worth playing." I looked at my TG16 pile of games and saw some games that gave me happy memories and some that stole hours of my life away from me that would've been better spent running into a wall at full speed. Anyway, I saw the game I'm reviewing here, Blazing Lazers, and since I hadn't played a shooting game for quite some time gave it a go.
Oh sure, I could've picked out something with perhaps a little more spice and pizzaz to it (such as Galactic Attack or a Darius) but this'll do. If you haven't had the chance to play this game I suggest you do at some point in your life. Just playing the bubbles area is worth it. You take control of the Gunhed Star Fighter and you must take down the Dark Squadron who've been flying just a little too close to the Earth. They plan on destroying the Earth with eight super-weapons. Are you gonna sit by while they blow your planet up? HELL NO!
You've gotta make your way through eight stages of fierce shooting action. (I know that sounds like something you'd expect to read on the back of the game box). You'd better put on a helmet and gloves when you play this game because you're gonna get killed quite a few times. Your ship faces and flies vertically throughout the entire game and you can change between five movement speeds at will by pressing Select at any time during gameplay. Button II fires shots and Button I is used to drop cluster bombs which are limited, though you can acquire more. When you move around the screen it scrolls slightly to the left and right to give you a little more freedom of movement. You've only got four continues so be prepared.
Area-1 is a warm-up stage with enemies flying in typical shooting formations and patterns for you to come to grips with how the game works. As you defeat enemies they leave different things for you to collect. There are Gels which are used to increase your power, a shield, homing missiles, multi-body (sorta like the Options in Gradius titles), full fire, and various types of shots. Ring Blaster circles your ship with a barrier of spinning balls and the more powered-up it becomes the more balls surround you and spin faster. Photon Lazer is basically your standard shot but begins to spread out and shoot behind your ship the more powerful it becomes. Field Thunder is a lazer that can either track enemies or spreads across a fixed pattern around your ship. Finally, Power Wave is a wide beam that spreads out more and more with each consecutive power-up. It's all very elementary.
Winning the game is also elementary - stay alive. Wave upon wave of alien ships, mounted cannons, and everything in-between is coming to get you, so you must stay on your toes every second. Each area is divided into two segments (sometimes more) and there's usually some mid-boss you'll encounter before moving on to the real boss. The bosses are one of the highlights of this game because they're usually very fun to fight and each has its own unique pattern of attacking you.
The graphics are great for a TG16 title and really showcase the system's ability to display pristine colors and embellish the space/alien premise with some fine detail. What was uneven about this game is the difficulty: almost as soon as you hit Area-6 everything gets much harder to deal with, especially if you lose a ship and therefore lose all of the power you've built up. The final area is so damn hard you'd be hard-pressed to find another shooting game up to the point in time when it was released (1989) with one harder. It requires skill. Not only that but you'll be doing lots of boss battling in that area. Good luck!
This game has some great pieces of music that are memorable, particularly Areas 5, 7, and 9. The bubbles area has one of the weirdest but coolest songs I've ever heard in a shooting game! And the last area's song is as fast-paced as the stage itself with a nice refrain and a soprano melody line that just flies every which way. Definitely a soundtrack that needs to be remade along with the game for a newer system. The sound effects are great with an especially satisfying explosion whenever you either blow up a boss or use your cluster bombs. There are voices whenever you pick up a new weapon or special add-on such as "Multi-Body" or "Shield". Good work Hudson Soft. :cool guy:
There you have it. Is it any suprise that the best console for shooting games should be the home of such a nice game? Not in the least. There's so many shooters in the US alone. There's Section Z which was also on the NES but is a bit different. Then there's Ordyne, Deep Blue (a game that redefines the word 'difficult'), Fantasy Zone, Super Star Soldier, etc. and all the shooters for the TG-CD. And the import selection is just way too expansive. Sure, there's crap, but there's also tons of great stuff and that's one very good reason to own a TG16 if you don't already.
Blazing Lazers was known as GunHED in Japan which was based on a popular anime live-action movie and, if you're feeling up to it, try and track down a copy. You'll be glad you did. Maybe....

Here are tons of screenshots for BL ~ http://screenmania.retrogames.com/pce/01/pce_006.html
Check out the art for both the US and original Japanese boxes ~ http://www.starbase299.com/shooters/...inglazers.html
Here's another review with some more screens though they're blurry since they're taken by snapping a camera at a TV ~ http://ryangenno.tripod.com/sub_pages/BlazingLazers.htm
Cheat codes ~ http://www.cheatingdome.com/turbografx/8292.htm
Uuuh, well, it's still a cool site to go through ~ http://www.pcenginefx.com/TS/gallery...ng_lazers.html
Ever been here to Hudson Soft's homepage in Japan? ~ http://www.hudson.co.jp/index.cgi
Thousands of game MIDIs ~ http://www.vgmusic.com/

Blaze on

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Old 01-17-2004, 04:03 PM   #441
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Icarus about the Ys 1&2... i have the ps2 version and it rocks... yahoo !!!
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Old 01-17-2004, 05:13 PM   #442
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Blazing Lazers was cool and had some great tunes. I agree about the bubble stage music. I even like the first stage music. That game needs an arranged soundtrack now! The Turbo Express kicks ass! Just be sure to use rechargable batteries!

As always, the US TurboGrafx 16 box art sucked more than anything in the world could possibly suck.
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Old 01-17-2004, 11:36 PM   #443
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Hey! Just go to Radio Shack or a good appliance store and pick up one of those adjustable plugs with the attachable connectors of all different sizes and you should never have to worry about batteries again.

Yes, Ys Book I & II absolutely rocks and it's a damn shame these titles aren't given the proper recognition. Now I've just gotta sit tight for Ys VI. Boy, what a year we're in for....
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Old 01-18-2004, 04:37 AM   #444
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You need to review Y's IV now (that's a 4, not a 6 ) But first maybe try Y's III. Y's 3 wasn't as good, but it had great music and was a fun little diversion that I thought was worth a purchase... at least for me.
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Old 01-18-2004, 09:24 AM   #445
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Ys III I own for both TGCD and SNES, but not IV which I've seen before. I'll have to grab a copy sometime. I've still gotta review Mario & Luigi ~ Superstar Saga as well as upcoming titles like Mega Man Collection, Ninja Gaiden, Metroid ~ Zero Mission, Gran Turismo 4, and more. Of course I'll still be doing classic reviews as well (duh). I'm currently working on obtaining more imports (not that I don't have a lot already, but you know that you can never have too many ;)).
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Old 01-21-2004, 10:04 AM   #446
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'Fun'? What's that?

Ys III ~ Wanderers From Ys - TGCD/SNES - Rating 4
In the booklet to the TGCD version it reads "Thank You ...for buying this advanced TurboGrafx-CD game disc, 'Ys III - Wanderers from Ys'" They refer to this game as an "advanced" TGCD game, yet I've seen many TurboChip games that look and move a helluva lot better than this. It would have read more truthfully had it read "Thank You ...for paying us money for this chunky game, Ys III. Hope you enjoy the soundtrack." because that's where most all of the quality can be found. The SNES version moves far smoother, even at the final boss where in the TGCD version it becomes such hardcore framey death that it's a test of one's skill to even properly control Adol. However, the soundtrack for the SNES version cannot touch the CD version which is incredible.
Let's talk about the game. Ys III is set from a horizontal perspective as opposed to the former two's over-the-top view. Now, this isn't what makes the game bad - the game is what makes the game bad.... though one may find taste exhibited in some ways, such as some of the boss battles. What really sets Ys games apart from other action/RPG titles is its style and charismatic way of telling the story. Often you'll encounter somebody and a close-up of their face overlaps about half of the gameplay screen and they begin talking to you. This doesn't happen as much as it did in Ys Book I & II though and the voices are restricted to the TGCD version. The visual impact judging from stills of the game may leave some impressed and indeed it should work as well as it looks. Too bad Falcom/Hudson Soft couldn't find a respectable location console-wise to depart the grand adventure they probably intended this to be. Even on the SNES there isn't too much to salvage it from the depths of mediocrity.
Here's a brief summary of the opening. Adol, having restored the land of Ys, is on a journey with his friend Dogi. They meet a fortuneteller and so Dogi decides to have his fortune read. Suddenly, the crystal ball explodes, and then the fortune teller warns that something terrible is about to happen, leaving our hero Adol and his companion Dogi stranded with deep and uneasy thoughts. They hear from wandering merchants of a land called Kenai which is struck with a plaque, and this causes Dogi to become alarmed. Adol learns from him that night about how Kenai is the land of his hometown Redmont/Sarina which is where his family is located. The next morning they set out for the town which is wrought with misfortune.
(There's inconsistency between the different versions of the game. Redmont is the name given to Dogi's hometown in the SNES version, while the TGCD version calls it Sarina. I understand that the Genesis version also calls it Sarina. Why the inconsistency, I don't know. From now on I'll refer to it as Sarina.)
Throughout the game you control Adol. His play mechanics are very similar to those in Zelda II but he can do a lot more than Link could. For example, Adol can equip swords, shields, armor, and rings with magic properties such as Power, Shield, or Protect. Adol can also acquire items athough Link could do this too. Adol gains experience by destroying enemies and gains levels just like in an RPG - his stats move up. There's a health meter on the lower portion of the screen for both Adol and whatever enemy he is fighting with. You can also see how much gold Adol has at any time, experience, the actual HP digits, and ring power. Adol can run, jump, duck, crawl, use his sword and special items as well. Adol can also stab his sword up while standing, crouching (crawling), or while in mid-air.
Sarina is the focal point in the game. This is where you begin and end your quest. You can buy items from the local shops or speak with the people in the village, and you can enter people's houses as well (just as you could in any RPG). Here you'll meet Elena, Dogi's younger sister. From the town you go to the world map where you choose where it is next you'd like to go (though at the start you can only access one place - Tigray Quarry). Throughout the game you'll encounter other characters such as Chester who seems to randomly appear to antagonize Adol. Chance encounters are an often occurrance in this game. From the town you can access the other areas via the world map of Kenai. Tigray Quarry is your first destination and you should level-up to about Lv.4 before proceeding. Or, you can do it like myself and hit Lv.7 just to be as badass as possible. It takes time but it's worth the effort. You will begin to appreciate the area construction in this game because not much repeats unlike in Zelda II where dungeons all look eerily similar. Also, there's some backtracking to do but not often, and when you do it's usually a fast ordeal because of how speedily Adol moves. There are six areas total with some having several sections to them. Yes, this game is short.
The graphics look dated though the level of detail is acceptable. Both games are designed the same way and look comparable to one another. On the SNES you get more colorful graphics and smoother animation. The TGCD looks rather lacking here with stiff movement on Adol and often annoying controls as a result. While the locales are well-designed the enemies look a tad weak in comparison. Boss battling is somewhat uneven because if you're at about two levels above where you should be at that point you'll wipe the floor with the boss, whereas if you're under by just one level you'll notice a huge difference (read: a hard fight). What this means is that your victory is predicated on just a hair's breadth between levels. Needless to say you should always keep your level skyhigh. Adol's peak level is 16.
The music is the shining quality of this game. If this game had crappy music I might not have bothered finishing it but once again we're given a soundtrack that does nothing short of excite and stimulate you with its incredible usage of blaring synthesizers and quirky arrangements. The music can be heavy and dark one moment (Tigray Quarry - when inside the cave; outside is a different song) and then hyper and bright the next (Lava Den). The TGCD version is clearly the better of the two versions. The SNES version's rendering of the music is executed very well, mind you, and is among the better soundtracks on the system. Luckily, there's a code for a sound test which can be found here along with the other codes for the SNES version ~ http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/code/22591.html The sound effects are pretty weak but there are voices on the TGCD version (though you may not like the voice acting; there isn't too much of it anyway).
Ys III isn't the masterpiece it should've been and not because of the switched viewpoint but rather the unacceptable execution. The subject matter is right, the design is all there, but it just doesn't work. Fun for its time, Ys III is a relic of a time when there was no clearly given definition to standard conventions - there weren't any - whereas nowadays everything gets stacked up to one thing or another, and if something dares to be different it's considered only for a small crowd of gamers, and this contradicts the purpose of games - to be imaginative, fun, and hopefully unique. To most other reviewers you're either a part of a cliche or you're not for the casual consumers. Leave it to these supposed know-it-alls to drag all the imagination and risk-taking out of gaming and into the gutter so that when we want to choose an RPG there will only be FF-styled RPGs, or when we want a good platformer there will only be Mario-styled platformers, etc. because, apparently, anything else is unacceptable.
Though the game as a whole isn't that good, at least with Ys III Falcom took a shot at doing something apart from the rest, and for this if nothing else I applaud them.

Here you can access all sorts of Ys info ~ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/search.cgi
Here's a walkthrough for Ys III ~ http://www.rpgclassics.com/shrines/s...kthrough.shtml
Have at some TG game screenshots (as well as Ys III further down the page). It's retro, baby. In Spanish ~ http://outerspace.terra.com.br/retro...consoles20.htm
Check out and buy Ys soundtracks (and read reviews for them) here ~ http://www.gamemusic.com/dept/101/ca...07&cattitle=Ys
And be sure to check out Falcom soundtracks ~ http://www.gamemusic.com/dept/101/ca...attitle=Falcom
More Falcom soundtrack goodness? Here goes ~ http://www.gamemusic.com/dept/101/ca...gend+of+Heroes

Bring on YsVI!!!
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Old 01-21-2004, 10:40 AM   #447
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Any idea who that blonde guy was in the TG intro to Y's III? The graphics in the intro are outstanding. Maybe that was some dude that fought Demonicus or whatever his name was before Adol's time?
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Old 01-21-2004, 10:42 AM   #448
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Are you thinking of Chester?
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Old 01-24-2004, 12:56 PM   #449
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Sorry for the temporary delay. I've been catching up on some work and haven't touched a thing. I'll have up a new review by Tuesday or Wednesday for Mario & Luigi.
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Old 01-25-2004, 11:42 AM   #450
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No, not Chester. The dude in the opening intro with long stringy blonde hair. The same weird guy who is on the box cover in the TGCD version.
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