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Active Time Cattle January 2, 2006

Matt Demers - 02:14 EST

HAPPY NEW YEAR to the lot of you! It's time to reflect upon the year behind us. How far have we come? What have we learned? What haven't we learned? That's the sappy way of doing it... so let's talk games instead.

All in all, 2005 seemed to be a pretty dry year for RPGs somehow, didn't it? Maybe it's just me; I'm not sure. Let's see... what have I played in the last year?

I started out by playing an old game, Disgaea, which I had finally received for Christmas 2004, and then hit a streak of disappointments: First came Xenosaga: Episode II, which was "just okay", and then I borrowed my brother's copy of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, which I obviously had issues with. I hit a giant dry slot where I didn't play anything new until I picked up the also-disappointing Makai Kingdom. Follow that up with Atelier Iris (another disappointment) and we finally get to the gem of the year, Dragon Quest VIII. Christmas 2005 granted me Wild Arms: Alter Code F, which is passably interesting so far, and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, which has been brain-scrambling and funny for the first couple of hours.

Hopefully, 2006 will be a busy year for RPGamers, with a sequel to Kingdom Hearts slated, a slew of Final Fantasy games in the works, another Disgaea, a return to the Mana series, and much more!

It'll be interesting to hear what you guys have to say about last year's RPGs, but I'll ask about that later on when I'm making my closing remarks. In the meantime, cast your votes in RPGamer's Reader Awards!




L E T T E R S
Wild Arms, Shining Force, Radiata Stories, and more!


Matt,

Hey again. I just wanted to answer your question and one of your reader's questions as well. For you, in Wild ARMs, the word ARM as an acronym (not gonna tell you what it means, for spoiler purposes). Usually when you write an acronym you would place periods betwixt the letters to denote that each one stands for something else. My guess is that the word lacks the periods due to aesthetics...and there is a part in the story that kinda makes it make sense.

Matt

Aha... I guess I'll shut my mouth and keep playing then, yes? Curiosity killed the cat, as they say, and while I'm not a cat, I sure would like one.

As for Shining Force Neo, I bought the game. It is in real time, but it lacks interesting dialog, and the battle system leaves something to be desired, in my opinion. I traded it in.

Matt

Yeah, I've heard mixed things too, but I still wanted to give it a spin to see how things have changed first-hand. Maybe I'll give it a quick rental one day when I have a free afternoon (because THOSE tend to happen oh-so-often).

I'm very glad you have Wild ARMs now. Enjoy it. Are you looking forward to Radiata Stories? I haven't even gotten very far in it and I got it the day it came out. It seems really interesting, but doggone Castlevania and Katamari...and PoPoLoCrois.. and Dragonquest...And Wild ARMs...and so on and so on....I better get back to work.

~Donovan

Matt

Wild Arms is interesting so far. Star Ocean-esque graphics, turn-based gameplay, and a varied mix of puzzle-solving and exploration... what's not to love? Well, I do have a few little complaints so far: The "echolocation" world-map system is utterly lame, as far as I'm concerned. I assume that the characters aren't blind; they should be able to notice if they are standing in the middle of a city without having to emit special green radar waves. Also, the game is incredibly frightfully easy to this point. Of course, it's very early on, so presumably, I have a long way to go. I'm excited to keep plugging through!

I have yet to open Radiata Stories, and I'll probably wait until I'm totally finished with Dragon Quest VIII to do so. I can't add yet another RPG to my currently-playing list, or the screws inside my head may start to scramble (not a fun status ailment).



Humourous, rumourous remakes


Sup Guru of Q&A i got a question for you as i been pondering it.

now its on square-enix. there is a person on the nintendo forums that claims he has a friend in the developement team at square-enix and he claims he heard from this friend that we will see Chronotrigger as well as possibly secret of mana ported to the gba as well as the 3 saga aka legend series from the gba to DS as well as we will see earthbound 1 and 2.

Matt

That's a lot to claim. Unfortunately, this just points to the well-known fact that forums tend to be the optimal breeding grounds for rumours, both of the founded and unfounded varieties. We've heard mumblings and grumblings about Mother 1 and 2 (Earthbound and its prequel) but really nothing terribly concrete; frankly, I'm not going to believe a word of any announcement Mother-related that comes from Nintendo until I see details, screenshots, release dates... something to indicate that actual action has been taken.

Chrono Trigger is absolutely just an empty rumour at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if Square Enix announced it sometime in the future, but for now, all has been quiet from the big company on that subject.

now my question is whats your thought on it?

also 1 other question. if snes rpg games are being remade do you think super mario rpg or lufia 1 and 2 will be remade again? i hope so.

lets hear your thoughts on what your thoughts are on this person talking about chronotrigger and secret of mana.

also he claims we will see chronotrigger by summer time possibly.

Paine

Matt

Secret of Mana? Lufia? Mario RPG?? Yeah, they're all rumours now. I'd bet a fair bit, though, that if this new Children of Mana bit goes down well for Square Enix with the populace, we might just see a SoM remake sometime afterwards, wouldn't you agree?



Simply put


Matty! Im planing to get Mario and Luigi:Partners in time after christmas is it ant good?

Matt

If you liked Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, then I'm sure that you'll enjoy Partners in Time. I've put in 4 hours or so, and it's certainly a hoot so far, though I actually find it to be a little harder than the first. You know the coordination game you play where you're supposed to rub your stomach while patting your head, trying not to mess up? I find that the play control is something like that, both in and out of battle. It's hilarious and infuriating all at the same time. In fact, it might be hilarious because it's so infuriating, somehow. I'm not sure; I just know that there are a lot of people at Nintendo with very silly senses of humour, and I love them all very much <3.



Some people must have really, REALLY liked Final Fantasy VII...


Fun times with save files. When I first got FFVII, I was able to get out of Midgar in 6 or so hours. Then my memory card wiped my save. So, I started over. 10 hours in (and only 4 in Midgar) it wiped again. Gah. 30 hours in, another wipe. Finally, at 50 hours, Disc 3, heading into the crater, a final wipe. I broke down and went out to buy a Sony memory card, rather than the third party one I had. The only good thing to come out of this? I was able to get out of Midgar in 3 hours by my 5th time through!

PJ

Matt

Everyone learns their lesson sooner or later... this goes down as reason #27718 NOT to invest in cheap, trashy third-party equipment when it comes to video game stuff. I've told my horrible childhood stories in columns past, as some of you will remember, so trust me when I tell you that I can feel your pain.

Thrice bitten, though? While you've been a slow learner, I guess this says something about your perseverance and dedication. Allow me to be a reference for your next resumé!

Thanks for writing in with your story, PJ!



So what does "PAL" mean, anyway?


I'm american military living in the UK, I ~may~ have some insight into the UK gamer problem. We had to buy a new TV to get cable here. The UK uses a different format for their pictures. This is why DVD's from the UK don't work on USA dvd players, the regional coding seems to be just an extra. I can play their CDs fine, but we would need a new DVD player as well as the TV to make the dvds work. Our new television is dual format, I'm not sure if a DVD player would be able to do that, or if a video game player would either, without a television that was also.

I had also heard that the power differance makes disks and such spin at different rates. I think this is a hardware issue, not something the disks need to take into account. As I mentioned the cd's work fine, though our american clocks, running through power adapters, tend to lose time.

I hope I explained this properly, the holiday season has left me groggy and unable to think clearly.

Happy Holidays, WhisperLily

Matt

Yes. I'm pretty sure that this is what makes up the difference between North American versions and "PAL" versions of different products... the PAL releases of video games, for example, are designed to work with the different electronics formats in Europe and Australia (and maybe some other places, too). For all of you people wondering what the heck "PAL" means, when it comes up in this column--and it does quite often--then, there you go. In that case, thou hast learned one new fact; now, you can consider this day a productive one.



Un ami de Megami


Hey Matt,

I was reading through your last Q and A and saw that you weren't sure if there was a Cid in FFX and I thought I would let you know that yes, indeed there was. Cid was Rikku's father and the leader of the Al Bhed in FFX, and was a crazy bald guy flying around on his airship much like the Cids of the past. Anyhow, I suppose I should ask a question, hmmmm I was curious if you have played Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, because I recently played through the Digital Devil Saga games and was very impressed, so I wondered if it was worth tracking down a copy of Nocturne?

thanks,

Will

Matt

Right from my brother's mouth, Nocturne was quite inferior to Digital Devil Saga, but still quite playable. In many respects, they're quite similar, from a gameplay point of view. I'd say that unless you really, REALLY liked the DDSes, you might want to give Nocturne a quick rental if possible before you go and buy it. Nocturne might be hard to find by this point, though... I can't recall seeing it in my neighbourhood Electronics Boutique in recent history, which is a bad sign. Of course, given that the Electronics Boutique in Guelph is quite the little craphole, you might still have a good chance.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I promised you a new line of questioning in the intro, so I'll hand it to you here. What do you think was the best game of 2005? How about the worst? Is there something you wished you had bought? Is there an RPG that you now regret buying? Tell me about your thoughts on last year's games, my friends, and I'll get back to you next time, on Q&A. Toodaloo!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt is a glutton for food and punishment alike.


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I didn't hear Auld Lang Syne this year... not a single time. Is this a blessing? I used to find that song really annoying as a little kid for some reason, but I'm really not sure why.

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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

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