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Diurnal No More January 4, 2006

Matt Demers - 02:04 EST

MMM, SLEEPINESS. I got up at 1:00 pm today, which is quite indicative of exactly how much the holidays tend to twist my sleep schedule. Sure, I don't have much of a sleep schedule in the first place, but even what I do have is now significantly out-of-whack. I haven't checked my schedule for next semester, which begins next week, but I hope desperately that I don't have any morning classes to worry about attending.

With that, I welcome you to today's Q&A. Enjoy the show!





L E T T E R S
The best and worst of 2005


Hi there Wonderslime,

In repsose to your question as far as games I've played last year that I'm so happy I own the honours go to Digital Devil Saga and Dragon Quest VIII for different reasons but both are instant classics so to speak as far as games I regret having there were two of those as well this year, both were bought as gifts so at least that's one good thing ^^;; the games were Lunar: Dragon Song for the DS a game that tried to shake things up but just came out nearly unplayable and Fullmetal Alchemist while not completely unplayable it was very mediocre and didn't really fulfil anything a fan of the show would have liked, furthermore an RPG needs exploration and npc interaction, otherwise it's just it's another dopey ass monster hit the attack button crap like this game was

Matt

I just hate those ass monster hit the attack button crap like this games. I'm pretty sure Star Ocean: Till the End of Time also falls into that category, along with just about every fighting game I've ever played.

It seems that Lunar: Dragon Song is really one of the worst games of recent history, doesn't it? I find it hard to believe that Nintendo Power magazine gave it 7/10, given the number of people that have terrible things to say about it.

Also regarding SMT3 and SMT:DDS, SMT3 features an older harder version of the battle system in DDS.

Differences between the two games:

SMT3: -The game is over if the demifiend/hitoshura/hero dies -You can recruit a good ammount of the demons you fight and form a party out of them
-However you can only learn and retain 8 skills per monster
-You can change the hero's weaknesses and strengths
-The story isn't quite in the forefront
-Money is easier to acquire
-New abilities are learned at level up
-The bosses are harder to defeat
-Only the hero can use items
-Stats can only rise to 40 unlike 99

There are some other things but generally speaking SMT is alot tougher than DDS as in every single encounter could be your last, and the story is more philosophical and less of a focal point, I hope those points help out anyone who liked DDS but is on the fence about SMT3

Matt

It sounds like you could write an FAQ or two yourself, Arros!! With such a wealth of knowledge on Shin Megami Tensei, you could do a lot of underhanded things, such as win trivia contests based on Shin Megami Tensei. Thanks for the clarification... I now know who to bother if I have any questions on the series! Mwahahah.

As for questions:

What the heck happened to Castomel?


Matt

Our favourite Andrew is still alive, but things seem to have been very busy for him in recent weeks. He's moved to a different place, and he was befraught with illness for quite awhile, while trying to juggle school and work as well. Rest assured that once he finds himself settled and able to get online regularly, he'll be back with us, doing Q&A again. Hopefully, it's sooner and not later!!

Also I saw that one of my favorite FAQ writers and one of my favorite QnA collumnists both go to the same university, so uh yeah have you met A l e x of GameFAQs fame while scurrying about being a TA?

Just found that to be a weird coincidence when I went to look at an FAQ for DQ8 I saw that he went to the university of Guelph(sp?) which I think is the same as the one you are a TA at otherwise I'm gonna feel like a big dufus

Arros Raikou


Matt

Nope, you're absolutely right! While I don't know him personally, I do know some things about him... like, he works at GameFAQs. Hmmm, I guess you're the one that told me that. Well, imagine that! I guess this can only mean one thing: Guelph must be the centre of the world of RPG discussion. Uwee, hee, hee!



Some more on Chrono Trigger


Hey there Matt,

I saw the end response to your Tuesday column, and I've seen your concerns towards the popularity of Chrono Trigger. Given that I and most other Europeans could only access the title via import or emulation I can't quite associate on the stronger nostalgic level, but to someone who's played the rom a month ago (AKA... me?) I'm pretty much understanding where you're coming from. Don't panic about me being a rampant Chrono gamer proclaiming "Wonderslime is the biggest idiot on this planet"; being a Sound Test contributor I am very open minded with how people feel about various videogames.

Playing through it myself it was a great amount of fun, yes, and the pathway was very well executed from start to finish. So I can agree with you on the amount of things to do. Now for people that are saying that it's better than you personally think, I think it all boils down to personal taste on the amount of things that they want to see in an RPG. Think carefully about what you think is a perfect RPG title (which knowing you must have been Dragon Quest VIII or something similar ;)). Now compare that to Chrono Trigger and you'll see what kind of things didn't quite impress you that much, and that way you'll be able to explain the over-inflation a little clearer.

Matt

Absolutely, personal taste has a whole lot to do with it. I've been trying to think, though, about problems that I do have with the game, over the last day or so, and I've come up with a couple of things. Firstly, the game is pretty easy, all in all, and while it's not the easi-EST game on the planet, there isn't a whole lot to think about in many battles. Most of the battles (and even bosses) are so methodical in their attack "strategies" that after you figure out how to crack them, the game just becomes an exercise in taking the exact same actions twenty times in a row, until whatever-the-boss-you're-fighting's HP is depleted. There are rarely any scary surprises to, get you into a, um, kerfuffle. There are also some "polish" issues I have... most notably in battles, where I like to turn UP the challenge by playing on ATB. The problem is, that if you're in a hurry to use a certain skill, I find it difficult to navigate the spell menus, and even more difficult to quickly select a target. I've found on many occasions that pushing "left" will cause the cursor to move to the monster to the right, or above, or whatever- so if I'm impatient enough, my attack often ends up misplaced. I WANT to do the ATB, though, so it's a bit frustrating, somehow. Anyway, that's about all I can muster for now. There might be a couple of other little things later on...

I think the only other reason I can think about that is the marketing it received, but again you should be the judge.


Matt

Ohhh boy, when I first saw the game, I wanted it so badly. I asked for it for Christmas, but it never materialized, and since I was a penniless little boy at the time, I didn't have any purchasing power to procure it with either. Soon after, it disappeared from stores forevermore, and I was a sad little one. Maybe I still have a bitter taste in my mouth after all these years...?

Also, what do you think are also the probabilities of Dragon Quest VIII coming out in Europe? I've heard possibilities via a questionaire handed out by Square-Enix, and for me a DQ title coming across the Atlantic (or the whole of Asia, depending which way you look at it) is a real excitement. But I haven't heard anything about it for two months, and I'm really concerned with what's happening on that front. Any pointers?

I suppose that'll end my message to you for this time. Happy belated New Year!

Peace out,
-Rexy-


Matt

Thanks, and Happy New Year to you too! I still think that the chances of a DQVIII release in Europe are quite high. I know, though, that if I were in your shoes, I'd probably be worried too. You know, Dragon Quest VIII was first released in Japan well over a year ago, now! Try not to get your feathers ruffled, though... start getting worried-er if the spring and summer go by with nary an announcement. Be assured that if we hear anything about it, RPGamer will be quick to let you know!



POW!


Dear Matt,

It's good to see someone whose as one of his favorite games Final Fantasy IV. IV is my favorite game of all time, and I don't know about you, but it's hard to find anybody who thinks it's great let alone has even heard of it. I remember when IV came out for the Playstation in the form of Chronicles, and I thought "Finally, it'll get the recognition it deserves." However, I believe it went by largely unnoticed. With the newest port being brought to the GBA, do you think IV will finally get some recognition? This leads me to my next question. What, in your opinion, is the most underrated RPG of all-time? I think you already know my answer.

Matt

Ah, there are plenty of Final Fantasy IV fans out there- it's just a bit harder to find them. Chronicles never gave FFIV the recognition that I agree the game deserves, because it was flawed and ugly, complete with exorbitant loading times and "inaccurate" music. This remake is certainly the best one we've seen since the original debuted fifteen (!?) years ago. Don't expect this remake to be anywhere near as popular as, say, the newer Final Fantasy games, though. While it will sell well, some people just have no interest in playing anything pre-FFVII, for some saddening reason.

As for the most underrated RPG of all time? Earthbound, hands down! Earthbound is one of the most delightful turn-based RPGs I've ever played, and it's almost never talked about, it seems. It's one of my personal favourite games ever; not enough people have tried the game, and I'm half-convinced that too many of them don't want to give it a chance. It might seem stupid and "kiddie" at first, but it's so hilarious and randomly funny, with some surprisingly strong gameplay as well.

Also, have you been able to play Final Fantasy IV Advance? If so, what do you think of it? I am disheartened that they changed the names of Fire1, Fire2, etc. to Fire, Fira, etc. The spells with the numbers were always the best, but the Lunar Trials sounds like it'll be a great time. I myself am actually going to buy a DS now specifically to play the ports of IV, V, and VI, with their added features as well as Final Fantasy III DS.

Matt

I have managed to play for a little bit. I fought about two battles and walked around a little bit while my brother was going to the bathroom. What do I think?

It's going to take some getting used to. There are some things that are just... really different. Having the ability to sprint around the maps is absolutely bizarre, but perhaps welcome. I find that the battles feel like they're drenched in maple syrup. Everything seems to execute oddly slower than normal, and while it's not really a big deal, I guess, it's still something that will take awhile to become accustomed to. Otherwise, the idea of party-blending near the end is absolutely exciting. I've always wanted to see Palom and Porom in Lv 50 glory!

With regards to Chrono Trigger, I personally started playing that soon after it came out, as my best friend's brother had just gotten it. I was new to the RPG world, and didn't know much about RPG's except the Final Fantasies. But once I got a chance to play it, I loved it. I got it for a birthday soon after, and didn't stop playing it. It's always been one of my favorites, and it was so good, that for years, I kept telling myself that I liked Chrono Cross just because it was a sequel to Trigger, until I finally admitted to myself that I just did not like the game at all.

Matt

Yeah... I wasn't entirely thrilled with Chrono Cross. I was disappointed that they changed the battle system into one involving a change-of-screens. Also, while the game wasn't entirely devoid of the humour that was felt throughout CT, it wasn't the same kind of "smart" humour, and it was all misplaced. The central storyline itself had some interesting ideas, but it took itself too seriously. The wit was concentrated in the plethora of useless side characters; it was mostly not very witty, and I hated most of the extra allies anyway. The most major offenses to me, though, were the Allocation-system for spells, and the ridiculous area-by-area cap on status-raising. Sure, I don't like it when games are too easy, but man, I at least want to feel like if I WANT to strengthen my characters, I have the ability to do so. Battles in that game become so pointless so quickly.

Keep up your praise of Final Fantasy IV, in order that those who have not played it might keep on getting the name stuck in their minds, so that they give in and go rent/buy it.


Matt

Will do! Final Fantasy IV was the first Final Fantasy that I ever finished, way back when I was a wee lad, all giddy about my new SNES. Thanks for your tribute!



Some more of the best and worst of 2005


Dear Matt(At least I think Matt will get this),

You mentioned in today's closing statments that you wanted comments on 2005? Guess I'll chip in my two cents. Why are they called two cents anyways? Makes me wonder... but I digress. 2005, to me, was a letdown in many ways. Sure there were some good times, and then there were really bad times. I won't bore you to tears with the nitty gritty details of my personal life, only RPGs. First of all, I can't seem to remember one good rpg from 2005. Now I know you will say "What about DQ8?" Well, truth be told, I haven't played it yet and probably won't for a while. I have my reasons, but to put em in a nutshell, I never grew up on DQ(loved the second manga though) and when i did play DQ 7, well, that did little to make me love it.

Matt

Well, I can certainly say that I understand your feelings. DWVII was definitely one of the weakest entries in the series, and while I could appreciate many things about it, I can see why so many people had little patience for it. However, I'm sure you've heard this about 10,000 times now, but DQVIII is an entirely different animal. If you revisit it, you might find that you quite enjoy it after all. Perhaps not, though- but of course, as we talked about above, it's all a matter of personal taste, more than anything, when it comes to RPGs!

Now, while there were no good RPGs, there were definitely some decent ones. I ejoyed Stella Deus despite the wierd graphics and less than interesting take on the job system. Suikoden IV was also enjoyable though not without its own flaws as well and Suikoden Tactics is such an awesome companion to IV that I cannot help but enjoy it, flaws and all. But I must ask, what happened to all the other games? So many games had such promise last year, Xenosaga and Suikoden IV to name a few and yet each and everyone fell flat on thier face. Maybe it is just me and if it is just me, then all is well and good. But somehow, I doubt it is simply just me.

Matt

Suikoden Tactics is reportedly pretty good, and I've seen some nice reviews for it. That's an exceptional thing to hear, given that Suikoden IV was not received very well, by and large. Also, Stella Deus is well-liked too; it's just that not many people talk about it in the first place, for some reason. Perhaps it didn't get as much exposure as it should have, so a lot of us never got the chance to give it a spin.

Anyways, I had a question amidst all this. What happened to the stories in RPGs? Or to be more specific, the writing in them. I keep feeling that a sentence seems dropped for every other sentence or something similar to that effect. There have been some exceptions to the rule, but these have usually been high-profile titles like Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy. And here is the kicker. Despite the gripes on FFT's translation, I had no problem with it and saw it as a better attempt at translation than most games today.Am I justified in thinking that? And why do RPGs on handhelds usually feature a kiddy(dumbed down storyline)? Golden Sun, while fun, did not have the best of storylines, coming close to the lower end of bad storylines in my opinion. The only one that didn't have a dumbed down story line was probably Chain of Memories, but it still had a very kiddy feel to it. Again, maybe it is just me. But again, I doubt it is simply just me. What do you think?

Sincerely,
Jon Chong


Matt

Handheld games do seem to have storylines that are slightly simpler on the whole. Then again, half of the RPGs I've played for the GBA have been remakes of games that first came out well over ten years ago, when storylines didn't seem to be quite as important. Between Pokémon and Mario RPGs, as well, plot isn't exactly central. With the releases of all of these FFIII remakes, as well as the Xenosaga remake, maybe you'll have a different opinion in a year's time. It'd be nice, though, to make judgments based on original games.

I think that Golden Sun was less-than-great, but it boasted a storyline that was quite acceptable. Sure, there weren't a whole lot of surprises, but the storytelling-approach was original. I haven't actually played KH: Chain of Memories, and nothing is really stirring me to go out and try anytime soon, admittedly. Even many KH fans admit that that was a mediocre title...




El Cheapo, says Bob Barker


Hello Mat,

Since recent letters have been on the topic of losing saved games, I have a story to tell.

Matt

Please... by all means, go ahead.

I lost data a couple times in my gaming career, but I’ll share what I felt to be the worst. I was playing Golden Sun in car using a cigarette lighter adapter instead of batteries to power my GBA. I was just doing some level building, nothing grand, when a random monster dropped a K-Sword (kuichimonji?). It looked impressive; I gave it to Ivan and it worked great. Shortly thereafter a rather large bump occurred in the road and in a split second my game was reset and my K-Sword gone. I just felt sick because I knew it could be 20 more gaming hours before another random drop might occur. I think it was another 10, but I did get my K-Sword back. I found out later, from gamefaqs, that if you do a certain set of events you can get one to drop guaranteed (it is the rarest drop in the game). Random Number Generator or some such nonsense. The question: What do you think of this kind of manipulation? Is it outright cheating or creatively finding a loophole? Merry Christmas!

iehley


Matt

HAH! Here's what I say: While I don't know exactly what you're talking about, if it's the first time through the game, then such things are cheap as costume jewellery. The random drops are made so rare for a reason, after all... it's supposed to be a special event when and if it does happen! Being able to cheat the system to get it for sure takes the surprise and the fun out of it. If you're replaying through for the twelfth time and you just want to find everything, then it's not such a big deal, I don't think. I'm just an old stickler for playing by-the-book, so don't mind my ramblings.

Anyway, happy holidays to you too!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

That does it for letters. The inbox is getting a little bit sparse for the first time in awhile, so hopefully things pick up in the coming weeks, once everyone gets back into a nice comfy routine complete with staying up too late and drinking coffee too much.

Thanks for paying your respects for yet another day. It won't be long before we're back in normal mode, complete with guest columnists and socks flying everywhere! Hold your breath for a little longer, and things will be back to normal in no time.

Until next time, everybody...


wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt thinks that... er, he can't remember.


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