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ASK ANDREW
Harper Carper January 27th, 2006

Andrew Long - 16:09 EST

I DO APOLOGIZE FOR THE LATENESS of this column; I had some unfortunate business last night that doesn't bear mentioning, given its overall revolting nature. Suffice it to say there is a schoolyard rhyme to describe the process which kept me awake last night and in no fit condition to be writing a column.

A cup of peppermint tea and 12 hours or so of sleep later, though, here I am, ready to take your questions! So let us proceed.




L E T T E R S
Contortionistos


Matt or Andrew,

One of the questions from yesterday's column included a "what do you do when you play videogames" query.

This might be an interesting open question to pose to your audience and up the amount of incoming mail.

As for me, before I dropped my X-Box out of a tree and smashed my PS2 with a chair leg (curiosity not anger), I would roll my PC chair over to the side of the room with the TV, set up a space-heater on a chair for toddlers that I found inside my apartment one morning, and warm my feet on that chair while looking at the television. My body would be parallel to the TV's screen and my neck craned 90` to the left. I would do this regardless of the temperature and without self-justification.

Drinkslinger


ANDREW


Seems like a pretty uncomfortable position, but then, I don't suppose I can talk, since I used to habitually crouch in this desperately uncomfortable chair in my basement in a nearly upside-down position. It was probably not the most flattering pose, but it was the only way to sit comfortably in that horrible chair, and of course, being 13 at the time, my input on the furniture situation was limited at best.

Nevertheless, if it's a spaceheater, why didn't you just move the box, chair, and junk in front of the TV? That would have been a great setup, and the warm feet benefits would have come without the severe neck pain (we'll discount the summer side of that equation for now; if you have air conditioning I suppose it's a reasonable thing to do, but if not, well...)



My last trip to Indianapolis was spent in East Indianapolis, so...


Couold you possible tell me were I can purchase the game called The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask I live in Indianapolis, Indiana

Thanks
Paul


ANDREW

Well, Paul from Indianapolis, Indiana, upon cursory examination of Google Maps, I find EBs at the following locations: 10777 E Washington St, 6905 S Emerson Ave, 49 W Maryland St, 7319 Us 31 S, 10635 Pendleton Pike, and 7255 N Keystone Ave. May I suggest you check Google Maps yourself, you lazy sack? I assure you, you know much more about Indianapolis than I do, so determining which of these fine establishments is closest to you will likely be much easier for you than me, who is sadly bereft of your street address, suburb name, and credit card number. Speaking of Visas, you can also try the online route; ebgames.com or ebay are likely candidates to start your search with.



Balance, balance, balance


What game do you think was easiest to balance party levels for?

I think FFVI was interesting in this respect because later in the game you had the option of having a party of less than 4 characters.

I can remember some interesting battles using only one character in the party. I had some pretty intense fights against Intangir using only Mog and his dances. For some reason, the lackluster dance attack Sonic Boom always did 9999 damage to Intagir. Of course, the Intangir would counter with the special attack Meteo and nearly squish poor little Mog. Since Intangir had more than 9999 HP I would have to pray that Mog would use Sonic Boom again and kill it. In the end, if I managed to kill the monster I would be rewarded with a healthy dose of AP and Exp.


ANDREW

Heh. I can shed some light on this terrible mystery, my friend; Sonic Boom, the redheaded stepchild of the far-better named Vulture attack ShimSham, cuts a character's HP in half. Since Intangir has some 27,000 HP, if I recall my Intangirs correctly (and according to GameFAQs, I don't and the actual tally is 32,000), the maximum damage that can be done by any attack is 9999, and so Mog's Sonic Boom ends up taking off closer to a third than the half that it's supposed to.



Well, he probably has no interest in what I say, but since nobody does, I have to steal again


Hey Matt,

Great job with the column! I really enjoy reading what you write. Actually, I was wondering if I could ask you about that...

I don't think I'm the only one who wonders what you go through to write one of these things. Why don't you tell us about it? When answering a question, do you just write off the top of your head or do you suffer from "paralysis by analysis" like I often do? Either way, your writing always seems to flow very well to me. Do you spend a lot of time editing what you write? Do you edit as you write or do you wait until you are finished?
ANDREW

I dunno about Matt, but for me, if I know an answer I just recite it off the top of my head. Then I check it if I'm not 100% on it, as in, say, the case of the Intangir above, which I misremembered, apparently (I could swear it was 27,000, but GameFAQs prolly knows its stuff). If, on the other hand, it's a less factually based question and involves an opinion on some sort of gaming issue, then yeah, often I will mull it over for some time, and talk it over with people on IRC to feel out the general consensus. In those cases, I can often take a ridiculous amount of time to answer something, which generally results in my train of thought and the overall flow of the column to derail horribly. And then of course there are the times when I'm doing two or three things at once, which is not infrequent since I have a seemingly endless stream of hires to conduct (anyone wanna write previews? Send me an app with a sample preview!)

In any event, I am what you or Kurt Vonnegut might call a basher, in that I will edit and re-edit a sentence until it sounds like I want it to sound. Generally, though, I do a lot more of this after the fact, when upon reading through something I discover that I've used the same term six zillion times and need to break out my thesaurus to spice things up some. So I guess you could say I do both. Again, though, I'm not quite sure how Matt operates, but whatever he's doing seems to work for you guys, so I hope he keeps it up ^^

On a different topic, I'd have to say my favorite video game battle system is the one used in Secret of Mana. Sure, it has its set backs (such as the tedium behind leveling up spells [due to the general lack of MP and waste of time] and leveling up your weapons [also due to a waste of time]) , but the pace is quick and battles are usually interesting. Plus, nothing beats the multiplayer aspects.
ANDREW

Yeah, for my money there's nothing better than Secret of Mana for eating up long stretches of boring summer, even if the AI is dismal. It's got great replayability, which is one of the reasons I've never regretted buying it after beating it on rental. Sure, it sucked up all my birthday money, but it couldn't be helped - my Grandpa got me Ken Griffey Baseball instead of SoM, so I had to.

Shout out to the battle systems in Dragon Quest and Earthbound. Simple? Yes. Fun? Very. Also, I really enjoyed fighting in FFX. Quick pace, cool music, interesting abilities and an intriguing character development system made this system a breath of fresh. I have one gripe though - and this one covers all later Final Fantasies. What's the deal with three member parties? The more personalities in battle, the better I think.
ANDREW

I used to agree, but I've become accustomed to three-member parties at this point and in any case, FFX involved so much switchamaroo that in practice, you weren't really limited to three. Either way, excellent shouts out.

That doesn't necessarily apply to FFIX, however. The music kind of blew and you had to wait through several seconds of camera angles before you even got to fight. To top it all off, battles were incredibly slow once the camera finally settled down.
ANDREW

Yup... 19 seconds, by my count. And I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who noticed the glacial pace of FFIX's battle system. I think that was caused by the fact that it was rather sneakily turn-based combat, and so the meters just sort of filled up and actions resolved in a set order that only the game itself really knew. I certainly can't think of any other explanation for the fact that some commands randomly took a full minute to follow through after I entered them in.

Also, I wasn't really crazy about the way you learned abilities. It's just wasn't conducive to my obsessive-compulsive desire to get everybody's abilities.

Well, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Keep up the great work because we really appreciate it!
-Adam


ANDREW

Yeah, and it was hellishly cluttersome. All in all, FFIX lost me on the load times, the pastel colour scheme, and the rather one-dimensional characters. In any event, I'm sure Matt's read this, so hopefully he sent you a reply of some description.



A neophyte? Sexah


Hey,

I would likely be considered an RPG neophyte, but I am very familiar with final fantasy, and have beaten 5 through 10 and tactics. My favorite is Final Fantasy 6/3. I was wondering if anyone had any plans to revive that beautiful game and story with new graphics and movies. I played the Playstation release and have heard about the release for Gameboy Advance, but I long for the game to have at least PS2 level graphics. Also, a fully orchestrated score would really enhance the amazing score on the game. Am I alone in these desires? Is there any chance my hopes will be fulfilled?

P.S. A new, perhaps more advanced battle system would be pretty sweet too, as the plot and characters are the real gem of the game.


ANDREW

You are perhaps not alone, but I have no particular desire to see it remade, if only because remakes tend to ball things up badly. PS2 level graphics would be nice and all, but they'd probably insert voice acting and all sorts of other nonsense in such a scenario, and tinker with the battle system and such. Call me a crazy fearmongerer, but I'd rather stick to my good old-fashioned SNES graphics. They were good enough in 1994, and they're good enough now.

In other news, though you will not get your PS2 wish (yet) a GBA remake is in the works, and you should see it in the nearish future, since I would imagine FFV GBA will probably come out sometime this summer, if I know my Square Enix.





q u i c k i e s


Dear

I've been glancing over this e-store all day and I am sure it's a haven for shopping!
Love always,
yeina

ANDREW:Okay, I admit, too much spam in the quickies can be a bad thing. But geez - Yeina and Broderick (there was a whole other bit that I cut off addressed to this guy)? At least choose names that sound like... names.
C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

So anyway, I shall try and get tomorrow's column up somewhat earlier. For tomorrow, let us talk of Suikoden. In Europe and just glad to be getting V? Still uncertain about how good Suiko Tactics really was? Unable to wash the taste of IV out of your mouth? Oh, and I have a somewhat local issue for your discussion. A few days ago, two thoughtless bastards were street racing and one of them slammed into a cabbie, who was promptly wrapped around a telephone pole and killed. The media, of course, blames the copy of Need For Speed Underground that one of them had in their backseat. So once again, media hysteria is a topic, at least around here. I therefore ask; do you really think games like this are responsible for these actions? Do they reach into your brain, shut off the logic responses and take over? Or are the media a bunch of hysterical nitwits with no real concept of anything but good old-fashioned alarmism? To flavour your responses, here is a delightful and relevant Toronto Sun headline: "DID NEED FOR SPEED KILL?"

Now that's journalism!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long's opinion on the matter is evident.

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