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August 24th, 2007

Matthew 'barieuph' Russo - 10:20pm EDT

It figures as soon as a sit down to write this the storms start up again. I'm going to hope I can finish this before the power goes out again. In other news, not much has changed for me in Final Fantasy III DS.

Anyways, I got a bunch of letters so let's see how many questions I can answer.

Does this job make me look fat?

Hey Bari,

You seemed like you needed some letters, so here ya go. My favorite class in FFIII DS, eh? Well, I used a Monk forever. The Black Belt came along too late in the game to be a favorite, but it was fun as well. Other than a Summoner, I never used in damage magic classes. I just didn't find them useful. I had a Knight, Ninja, Summoner, and Devout at the end. Refia makes such a cute Ninja. I just love it. I'm thrilled about playing FFIV in this style. It just make me so happy.


I've always been an attack magic fan. Everyone in my Final Fantasy VI file knows all of the black magic (even Sabin!). In fact, in Final Fantasy XII, I always had a dedicated black mage, which apparently is not so commonplace. As far as your comment for Refia goes, I tend to give my characters jobs that I feel "look the best" on them. In Final Fantasy V, I always had Lenna become a Samurai as soon as she could. She just looked good in a Samurai outfit. Bartz (who I always renamed Ranger) was a great looking Ninja, and Galuf looked great as a hunter.

I cannot wait for Final Fantasy IV. The screens and such look great, and I'm excited to see what new content they'll add. However, I do wish they would do something else besides remaking Final Fantasy, but I guess it can't be helped.

And I'll bite on the preorder question as well. I always preorder games that I want to get. I know that it's stupid that Gamestop makes you do it or they won't sell you a copy, but I just don't care. I know how the business works; I worked at an EB back in the day, so I just bite the bullet and get over it. This is only for games that I want to get first day. Other less pressing titles, I can put on hold. Some games you just don't know if you'll see again for an affordable price if you don't get them right away, so it's hard to pass them up.

Well, I hope this helps. Even though I know the answer, why don't you share a little about your most wanted list. That's always fun.

- Macstorm


I used to pre-order everything that I wanted, but nowadays with money being so tight I find myself only pre-ordering those I "must-have." Unfortunately, I tend to think I must have everything!

Well, my most wanted list, and my most anticipated for 2007 are very different, so I'll list them both. My most wanted list starts with Super Paper Mario, followed by Heroes of Mana, Soul Nomad, Metroid Prime 3, and Super Mario Strikers. My most anticipated games are Soul Nomad, Phantom Hourglass, Heroes of Mana, FFXIIRW, and Fire Emblem: GoD. There you have it.

Thanks for writing in Mac.

Backlogs 'R Us


Okay you need letters? I will answer the call. Clearly saying you like music is an understatement. So, what would you say is your top five or so favorite RPG soundtracks?


Ah, this question is rarely asked of me, honestly! I'm going to exclude arrange albums and go with plain ol' OSVs. Final Fantasy VI is the pinnacle of game music excellence. Compositionally it's excellent with the leitmotifs and the synths are great too. Following behind that is Mitsuda's Chrono Cross, and Xenogears. Rounding out the list are Final Fantasy IX, and Shimomura's Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.

1. Favorite class? I always pick the thief or archer type. I'm not quite sure when my love for those two arose, but ever since I've always attached myself to the sneaky klepto and the soldier who sits way far in the background raining down arrows of death upon his enemies. So to answer your question, either the Ranger or Thief.
2. Blasted backlog prevents me from playing this game. Maybe one day.
3.Never played it, should I? Damn, looks like another series I want to play.
4. By strategy game I'm assuming you mean tactical like Disgaea or FFT. If that's so, then merging that battle system with conventional map exploration would be kick ass. I've always felt that a battle system that makes me think more about what I'm going to do before each attach is gonna make me more engrossed in the fighting. As opposed to just hitting the x button.
5. Usually don't pre-order and usually not on the first day either. My backlog prevents me from buying too many brand new games and I haven't seen a game recently that I've become so excited about that I'd pre-order it. I usually wait a couple months to see how other people with similar views like it. I can thank this site for that.

Alright, back to work for me. Happy letter answering to you good sir.

The Dark Chevalier


I've always been a fan of thieves myself, with Locke being my first thief, and one of my favorite characters from the game. Odin Sphere however, should be bought now if you can find it and then you can enjoy 40-60 hours of videogame greatness. I've never played AI either so I guess we're both missing out. As for Strategy and Tactical RPGs, I think that you should be thinking before each attack whether or not your're playing traditional turn based, action/adventure or strategy/tactical. No one should just be hacking away. Thanks for writing in!

Thesaurasaur! I choose you!

Well, good sir Bari, I suppose another communique is in order since you have such need of them. Hopefully your climate is as salubrious as mine during summer, though that seems unlikely.


You really love that thesaurus eh? The weather in Central New York is never nice, with the days cycling through "overcast morning, rainy afternoon, muggy evening, and cold nights."

Now, I suppose I understand why most of those links were not posted by you last time, though no previous Q&A host has had a problem with them. Should one wish to go through import channels (after all, with the exception of Panzer Dragoon Saga and one third of Shining Force III those games were not released outside Japan) their soundtracks can be obtained via eBay. Well, except for Shining Force III. Though there is a 'soundtrack' to the game it consists solely of arranged remixes. The original music was never released in a form that can be purchased and the tracks hosted on Galbadia Hotel are a Gamerip, therefore no legal barrier to posting their links on RPGamer exists when it is impossible to purchase the same product. Several other games of interest to me on GH also have Gamerips, Phantasy Star IV coming to mind.


You know, I'm not actually sure about the legality of a gamerip. However, I won't deny having a few of my own, being sure to dispose of them as soon as I find out there is an OST or when I get the OST. Odin Sphere is my most played gamerip right now.

Another soundtrack story now. I wanted (and still want) the soundtrack to Sakura Wars 2. I still haven't found it on eBay and it's long out-of-print. So I ordered it from an outfit based in Hawaii. Problem: they didn't have it in stock either. I've called repeatedly and the place still does not have it in stock. I placed the order 8 months ago, but I think it's time to just cancel it. What say you? And if you can in fact locate the Sakura Wars 2 Steam Gramophone album somewhere, I would be grateful. You're probably right about the FFMQ soundtrack being alright, from the hazy memories I have. Then again I did not like the game and do not want to relive it via the aural component. In some cases not playing the game music originates from is actually a good idea.

Long as I'm talking about titles that aren't very good... Lunar: Magic School is very dull and repetitive to play through. The reason is two-fold: high random encounter rate coupled with NO reason to explore whatsoever. There are no items at all in the game, no chests, nothing hidden. This linked with some rather long and moderately twisty dungeons that are all about reaching the exit with no incentive to do anything else gets tedious. The story (what I could pick up from the Japanese) is curiously amnesiac also. Seriously, when some students are kidnapped and experimented upon by the Vile Tribe, would it not be wise to GO AFTER THEM instead of just letting the nasties run free? The kidnapping incident is midway through, in a subsequent chapter another student is brainwashed into setting most of the School's buildings afire. Another example of inattentive instructors.... I know you haven't played the game, but that's fine. Not many have and it really isn't worthwhile.

Guess I'll close with another standard question of mine: what experience in importing do you have? And if the answer is a minimal one, how close have you come and what would it take to get you thinking about it seriously?



I'm sure you figured I wouldn't have played any of those games, but there is something I can comment on, and that's the music's power to compel you to relive memories of the game, whether they be pleasing or otherwise. Music is a timeline for me, and certain songs can bring me right back to that exact point in time when I was either listening to that piece, or playing that game. One such memory comes from the music from Illusion of Gaia. Any music from that game will bring me back to my second playthrough when there was a death in the family. As such, the music is very nostalgic. The music from Final Fantasy V can bring me right back to when I emulated it with my brother in his old room, and when RPGamer's MOD formats were the best music source we could find. Also, listening to Final Fantasy X-2 music makes me remember the travesty that Square-Enix threw upon us, and how much I loved playing it, and dreaded listening to it. What a terrible soundtrack.

I have no experience importing because I could never stomach the costs to import. I could never justify the purchase when I could have bought sheet music, and other games instead of having to spend the money on imported games that I couldn't read. Soundtracks on the other hand, have been imported, and a few bought in Chinatown. Thanks for writing again JMS.

Would you like Barbeque Sauce with that?

Dear Bari, Hi I am a long time reader first time questioner, er.... questioneer or whatever. You know as a Wii and DS owner: there aren't many RPG's for the Wii, where DS not only gets many new titles but also rehashes of the classics. Do you find your Wii collecting dust due to the overall lack of RPG's, SRPG's, and my personal favorite MMORPG's. Do you see this changing in the future? Could the Wii follow in the footsteps of its forefathers with an all around lack of an RPG library? Also Nintendo seems to avert from open online play on most of their games for DS as well as Wii. Will there be online games in the future not bound by the Wii's code system?

yours truly,

Bear Baby


Well it's true, the Wii kinda hit a dry spell, and hasn't seen any big RPG releases, but it's still only a year into the console and I have hope. If not, well as you said, the DS is getting plenty of love, so I can get my fix there, however it is a big issue. Right now, my Wii is seeing more play as a Gamecube, and casual gaming device, but I think that's sure to change. Furthermore, don't forget the importance of the Wii Shop Channel, and eventualy Wii Ware. Homebrew RPGs are just around the corner, as well as some of the classics that aren't going to see remakes (Illusion of Gaia, I'm looking at you). Always remember that anything is possible. As far as online play is concerned, it seems that the friend codes question will probably be answered by whatever direction Super Smash Bros. Brawl goes. If it requires friend codes, then that will be the end of Nintendo's chance to break into the online gaming market.

Well what do you guys think? Send some letters in about this subject, or maybe you could even write Macstorm an editorial. Thanks for writing in Bear Baby. I don't know what it is but your handle makes me think of some BBQ.

On the Menu today: SRPGs

Jim, from the 08/23/07 column, likes exploring world maps, but wants his random battles SRPG style. I can suggest for you three games.

Shining Force 2 (Sega Genesis): You explore a medium-large world map throughout the adventure. There's always more chests to open, and secret items to find. Battles are SRPG style and take a long time. They're grid-and-turn based, just like most SRPGs. If you walk around long enough, you can get into a random battle, which is just a repeat of a story battle without the story

Treasure Hunter G (SNES - Japanese Release Only) - There is a fan translation of this game somewhere on the internet. Battles are very quick. "Random" battles will take you 30 to 90 seconds to complete, but there are a lot of them. Boss battles will take you about five minutes. There aren't any enounters on the world map, but there is a large world to explore with plenty of chests to open and secret items to obtain.

Arc the Lad Collection - Arc the Lad 1 & 2 (Playstation - PS2 Compatible): Battles here are also quick, taking 90 seconds to five minutes to complete. Again the quantity of battles is high. You explore each map just as in a normal RPG. I think world map navigation is menu-based in this one.



There you have it Jim, hope you're reading. Thanks for the information.

Onion Stew

Sean, Matt, Bari,

Onion Knight is the best class in FF III, of course! The DS version of this game is my first experience with it, as with most people outside Japan. I spent time leveling everyone to 99exp lvl and Job lvl and unlocked Onion Knight and had a great time fighting hundreds of dragons for Onion Knight equipment drops. I got really into the whole process and had a great time. I actually enjoyed the job system for its simplicity. FF V's job system is great, but it's unnecessarily overcomplicated. I prefer the FF III job & magic system.

Matt Drury


I would love to conquer Final Fantasy III like this, but alas I don't have any friends to trade mail with to get the event to happen. I've always wanted to master all the jobs with one of my characters when it comes to a game like this. Ranger (Bartz) from Final Fantasy V was always that guy, and a Picses named Matt from FFT. FFTA ruined that prospect for me unfortunately. I really enjoy the MP system of the NES Final Fantasy's, sometimes I wish that communal MP was never made.

Thanks for writing in, and good job on the leveling!

Theme and Variations

Hi Bari.

I just started playing Persona 3 yesterday (which means Rogue Galaxy is on hold, although I enjoyed it a lot and I'm near the end...). It's pretty cool so far. Beautiful surroundings and I really like the Japanese high school setting.

The soundtrack is unlike any other I've heard in an RPG, not sure what category it actually falls into. Basically it's like excerpts of j-pop songs (though not annoying), including lyrics. Very upbeat and different from other RPGs, which mostly contain semi-orchestral music. You should give it a try if you haven't. Do you know if the Shin Megami Tensai series has a regular musical theme in them? The only SMT game I played before was Devil Summoner and there's one piece that kind of seems to appear in different arrangements in both games but it might just be my imagination.


I've never gotten into the SMT series, but with so many people singing its praise lately perhaps I should? Main themes are not uncommon in the world of game music, however I would love to hear a theme that is constantly changed between games, varying in style, tonality and timbre instead of the same song every time. Alas, dreams are meant to be just that. Unfortunately to respond to your question, it seems each composer is different, which decreases the liklihood of their being an all-encompassing main theme, however, there could be.

One of the reasons i was so excited with Xenosaga Ep. 1 was the fact that it had many musical associations with Xenogears. Mitsuda composed both games and it really shows - practically every piece (well, maybe not Green Sleeves...) has motifs from Xenogears intertwined in it, from the opening to the final boss. I was disappointed to see they completely neglected this in the following episodes. However, while I didn't like the new music too much at first (at least, not ep. 2's), it grew on me and it contains some of my favorite tracks.

Do you ever listen to soundtracks before you finish playing the game? I try to avoid it since I consider that spoilers. I want to hear the music in the setting and moment that were meant for it. Once I finish the game, I have no problem with.

Zohar Gilboa


I try not to listen to soundtracks before they come out, but that's also because I tend to buy soundtracks for games I like. That being said I will download a few songs as a sampler for a game that's coming out to see if I'll like the music. Chances are if the music is good, I'm more apt to like the game. I only listen to the first few tracks though.

The entire Xeno series has a great set of music, with the Mitsuda scores being superior to the others, but Episodes 2 and 3 not being as bad as everyone makes them out to be. The music that plays during the story sequences in Ep. 2 is very enjoyable, it's just the rest of the music that stinks.

Thanks for writing in.


Hi Bari(?)
To answer Jim's query about strategy RPG's that allow you to explore the world map, may I suggest Arc the Lad Collection? The battles aren't that tough, but it's fun!

That's two people, one of Ice and one of Flames to suggest Arc the Lad. Maybe I should play it?

You have a conundrum: You like to pre-order your games (Because of the special goodies), but you'd also like to read a review of the game before you buy. Solution 1: Wait until 1 week before release to pre-order. Early reviews are usually out by then. Solution 2: Order whenever you want, read the reviews, and cancel your pre-order if you don't like what you read.

I don't care much for reviews, but this is a good plan for those that do.

No! It's not true! I am not playing Atelier Iris, and I never will. The Draconn that said it is an impostor. I am the true Draconn!

How do I know YOU'RE not the imposter?


I don't think I'm returning tomorrow, so here come the goodbyes! It's been fun; hopefully I'll get to fill in again soon. Be sure to keep sending your questions to Matt and Sean. For the next column, write in about the Wii/DS RPG situation described by bear baby above. I expect at least 10 letters and why not, an editorial as well.

Now I've gotta get ready to finish up round 3 of The Grand Audition, and get ready for round 4. Please if you're entering, be sure to send your remix in before 6PM PDT on Monday the 27th. Until next time, thanks again!

Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: A Few, but we could always use more.
Bari says goodbye -_- .

This one was a lot longer than the last

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