Stucco On You
February 3, 2006
Bainick - 00:31 EST
READERS OF THIS COLUMN BEWARE;
I control the horizontal, I control the vertical, I control Fox... bwah ha ha ha ha,
or maybe fwah ha ha ha ha, as in Goemon, but I never did get any of those jokes.
Anyway, for those who don't know, I, Bainick, the Greatest RPGamer of the
world, will be guest hosting this wonderful column; bow before me as I hand
out my opinions like the man in the enigmatic ice cream van, although why an
ice cream van is out in the country I wouldn't know. I still can't find
it, although that Greensleeves music haunts the air. Anywho, it only cost me
my soul to become the final guest host spot before Ourobolus reaches 2000,
no money or hitman needed at all. So ready yourselves as the non-drinking
(that's right, I'm the only one) Australian answers all of your questions,
and please be gentle.
Statisticians should LOVE random dungeons! And by love, I mean "looooooooove", kissy-kissy-like
Hey there. I only recently started reading the column, but so far Iíve
really enjoyed what Iíve read; itís nice to see intelligentĖ and amusingĖ
discussion of RPGs. But on to the issue at hand...
Random dungeons... The only ones Iíve come across that I can think of
were in the //.hack series and they were one of its weakest points, in my
opinion. I actually really love the series in spite of its many flaws; the
original game concept and, more importantly, the characters and the plot
were enough to get me through what quickly became bland, repetitive
dungeons (four straight gamesí worth of them). I think the series could
ave been much more popular had its creators put some time on sculpting
individual dungeons (and worked on the battle system some more too, but
thatís a whole other email...). My impression is that the only real virtue
of random dungeons is that they make for less work for the game creators
and thus allow them to make the games faster and at lower cost and thus
make more money. So in my book Iíd say theyíre a something of a rip-off. Of
course this is based solely on the experience of once series, so let me ask
you, is there any other possible point to them? Is there an elite band of gamers out there that really digs
I think they could have possibly melded the games into just 2 games, and
saved us buyers $400 Australian of a game that was truthly only worth
half of that. I think that the game actually did not have random dungeons,
but instead had so many of the same dungeons to choose from (non story that is)
that it seemed random. There were only about 6 different styles of dungeon
and only about 6 different room styles also. To put it bluntly, it got old
real fast. But, the story wasn't too bad, and the bonus anime made up
slightly for the overly priced game. It's a pity I can't say that about "The
legend of the Twilight" series, but I have faith that Bandai can improve
what was in the first Anime series a great story!
Random dungeons do have a place in many gamers' hearts; just, many games don't
seem to be able to pull off what is required of them just like the Hack
series. I think that game developers who can't develop random dungeons to
the likes of that of, say, the Dark Cloud series are really just telling us
that they can't be bothered trying to impress us. Its a shame really that
most randomly generated games will end up appearing like in that new pokemon
Annoying musics and inconveniently-placed people
Ye olde magister of inquiries,
First off, I'm writing in response to the mentioning of that accursed casino ship music in Chrono Cross.
My hatred for that song knows no bounds. There is no rational explanation for it, either. I hate every aspect
of that song. It strikes all the wrong chords with me. And on another note (set phasers to pun), I agree with
you about random dungeons being somewhat tedious. I can say that, as a fan of both the Diablo series and the
Dark Cloud series, I still find them very annoying and lacking the originality and creativity exemplified by
static dungeon designs. Give me a sequence of challenging and well-designed dungeons any day.
There's a perfectly rational explanation for it. In a game so chock-full of amazing music, they went and stuck
an ultra-repetitive and terribly annoying track right in a place that I felt like I had to revisit about seven hundred
times, mostly because I had no idea where to go. Foolish, foolish, foolish! The casino games sucked, too.
Wait, could you even play any?? I'm pretty sure you could... *memory lapse*
Okay, so here's the question that I've been contemplating for the last couple of days. This question has gone
through my mind because I find I'm growing tired of buying and playing newer RPGs. This may be due to my
ever-decreasing at tention span or my ever-depleting bank account. Most gamers can think of all sorts of
things to add to RPGs to improve them, but if you could take one element out of the standard RPG equation
(in an effort to improve the genre as a whole), what would it be? Battle systems and battle encounter methods
have been evolving in the last few years, so try to pick something other than that. Several games have tried
doing this, like FFVIII's removal of treasure chests and standard gil accumulation, but in my opinion these were
changes for the worse in a genre where monster conquest and dungeon pillaging tendencies are at their highest.
FFX implemented a different world map exploration system (again, I wasn't too fond of this change). Your answer
could be anything like getting rid of block puzzles once and for all, offing the obligatory long-haired pretty
boy moments after meeting him, changing the way experience is gained , or even completely revamping the way dungeons
are approached (in a non-linear way). You can probably think of some larger vice that irks you to a greater degree,
so what is it?
Yeah, I wasn't really that fond of those changes either, though FFVIII's money thing was slightly more forgivable-
I got used to the salary-pay pretty quickly. I really do hate it when games don't include overworlds in some form
though, so I
agree with you on FFX wholeheartedly (and its sequel) along with games like BoF III and IV (perhaps even the original
Super Mario RPG). I don't know why, but the lack of an outer, ultimate overworld map that you can travel
at least somewhat freely seems like a sort of cop-out. It provides a kind of geographic "backdrop"
or a "surrounding environment" into which the important locations fit like perfect puzzle pieces. Areas in RPGs
seem disjoint or constraining somehow without that, I feel.
Other than those things, though, I really don't like it when the hero is FORCED to be in your party, when you're given
the option to switch any of your other members. There are an enormous number of offending games in this department,
but to me, it takes some fun out of the mix 'n' match element of party-construction, and nine times out of ten results
in the hero becoming a bit overpowered (or a lot, depending on the game).
Personally, I despise the Johnny Roadblocks. I'd rather get decimated by a level 76 Titanium Death Toaster
in the Appliance Forest than have some lousy NPC or strategically placed sprite prevent me from exploring it.
Part of exploration is the element of risk and encountering the unknown for the first time! Remove those silly
bumpers preventing gutter balls already! Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but that's definitely a small thing I
would change. Salvation is only a save-point away, so why curb one's curiosity?
-- Kaz (running like hell from Death Toasters)
But Kaz was blocked in front!
Death Toaster sticks a fork in itself! Tongues of lightning careen from the toast slots, carrying month-old burnt crumbs
with them! Kaz takes 143 damage! Kaz was blinded from the crumbs!
You're absolutely right!! That's SO true, and it's really dumb when people "don't let you by". It's a really lazy
way of programming event-flow in an RPG, so I appreciate it much when you actually do have the opportunity to explore areas
"before you should", plotwise. There are... a LOT of games that do this; in fact, I can't really think of any recent
games that don't, off-hand. Can you?
And a quick question: barring the casino ship music, what particular song from a role-playing game struck
discord with you (for whatever reason)?
There are plenty; trust me. The first one that immediately springs to mind is from Star Ocean 2; while there
are a great number of excellent themes in that game, the first town in Expel's background music actually put me to
sleep on the first night that I played it. My brother still makes fun of me to this day about it... my dad found me
snoring with the controller upside down on the couch and myself curled up in fetal position. It was just... so... BORING!
Really, it was the sort of music that you would expect to hear, perhaps, in a Japanese restaurant's bathroom playing quietly in the
Also, it's been coming up a lot lately, but Breath of Fire 2 will make one more appearance right here.
The town music in that game is probably one of the very worst in RPG history. It's incredibly monotonous,
headache-inducing, and well, it tends to just go ON and ON until you wish you could find the remote control so that you
could hit the MUTE button if the remote wasn't ten years old and the buttons actually worked.
I'm finished! There are a hundred more that I hate, but if I get into an alphabetized list, I'll put all of YOU
to sleep, which would be undesirable.
Beautiful, scary, dungeons
Oop- this one's going to be Bainick's. Hope you don't mind!
Now, you say that making a fun randomly generated dungeon crawl is pretty
well impossible. I feel the need to call you on that one: I mean, just look
at Level 5's previous work, Dark Cloud 2. That game had phenomenal
dungeons, and they were all of them completely randomly generated. Admittedly, most
of their appeal came purely from their aesthetics, the background music and
the atmosphere of the graphics. Then there was the medal system, which actually
managed to give you sort of an incentive to play through dungeon floors
I couldn't agree more. I love Level 5's work in both Dark Cloud and Dark
Chronicle, for they use beautiful scenery and blend it with music that to be
honest I sometimes just listen to without even playing the game. I always
had trouble with the medal system myself, probably thanks to the fact that I was
useless at using items at weapons; now where did I put that game again?
Speaking of aesthetics: that's why I play games. Now, you say you play
games for the action, and that the tougher and more challenging the better, and
that's fine. But I prefer the exploring as much of a game world as
possible. If a game has lush, beautiful locations, rich, ambient background music and
whatnot, I'm pretty happy.
Level 5's games certainly had that. Also, the only reason I bought FF:CC for
the Gamecube was because of the beautiful landscapes and the music; it
certainly didn't end up being for the battle system, as my wallet cannot
afford two Game Boy Advances just to play multiplayer.
I tend to go for dungeons like The King's Tomb in FFVIII or the Ancient
Ruins in Shadow Hearts. You know, the subdued, sort of awkward, easy-going
types. What about you? What kinds of dungeons do you enjoy?
Me? Well, there are three types of dungeons that I love. First is the pre-mentioned
Dark Cloud style dungeons that use beautifully rendered areas matched with
the finest background music around. Second are the Lufia/Zelda puzzle
dungeons that require you to use all of the wit you have available. Lastly,
if a game doesn't have any from the first two choices, I like short and sweet
dungeons that don't disrupt the game; Pokemon, I'm looking at you.
Mothers Against Monster-Powering-Up (MAMPU...isn't it a wonderful acronym?)
been reading for a while, and normally id be content to sit back and watch the discussions and blind defense
of dq8 (great game, incidentally!) but i'm stuck at home sick from work, and this talk of random dungeons got
me thinking. i dont know why i lump the two together, but i always got annoyed by games with random dungeon
generators and games that scale the enemy difficulty to match your party strength. i feel that both take away
from the "feel" you want to get when playing an rpg- that hope that something strange or new might be waiting
on the next dungeon floor, or anticipation of some super-huge bad guy that might kick your ass. the random
dungeons seem like a ploy to save the designers the effort of creating more than ten floor designs in an
entire game. in dark cloud 2 it was a necessary evil only because you end up walking through the same floors
dozens of times, but the game was great despite the dungeon design, not because of it. as for the battle scaling,
the most popular offender is probably final fantasy 8, which heightened the already considerable boredom by forcing
you to fight the same enemies at level 10 that you do at level 100. considering the total lack of exploration in
that game, i cant understand why theyd make the fighting equally stagnant. anyways, i was wondering how people felt
about this, considering both have always gripes of mine. okay, ive got other questions, but ill save em for
another day, cuz i dont want to take up too much of your space! (moreso)
I enjoyed Dark Cloud 2, although I missed those timed events from the first
Dark Cloud; I would have liked a lot more of them, but beggars can't be
choosers. But, there was always a specific floor for events/boss fights in
Dark Cloud 1/2 and you could usually tell that you were nearly there when
the difficulty of the floors started to jump. As for Final Fantasy 8, it is
only 1 of three Final Fantasy games I have actually passed, and frankly I
don't know how I made it through the first section. It was like constantly
stabbing myself in the eyes, as the whole plot went slower then an Australian
with a bear in his hand. I think I only managed to work up the effort to
fight the final boss because my brother bribed me with cash; I'm only human,
P.S. He actually worked up 30 levels for me just to fight the final boss (no
spoilers here) and we didn't even need to. In fact, it would probably have
taken less time than the 2+ hours to defeat the final boss, and if you don't
believe me, we've got video-tape proof of the whole boring game; 4 tapes
worth. Anyway, are you sure you're not Australian, as we are known for our
Now, now, Bainick! Put your palm-bears away and don't insult the writers!
Good points, Sgt. I really do agree that it's a much lazier scheme from not only a programming standpoint, but
a creative one. Since creativity is an essential part of RPGs, of course random dungeons are bound to get boring
after awhile, especially if you're someone who likes an intellectually stimulating challenge every now and then.
Of course, it's not everything- as the writer from above pointed out, a good atmosphere is important, too.
As for your shtick against monsters-levelling-up, I found it to be really disappointing too, in FFVIII, until
I grew used to the idea and began getting excited over experiencing more powerful versions of the same monsters.
What new techniques do they use? How have they grown and strengthened since their first forms? I think that for
the same reason, I'll be incredibly disappointed if Dragon Quest ever drops the idea of having different
colour-versions of the same monsters. I love the fact that when you find a new version of the same family,
you know "generally" what they can do, but not exactly. It throws an element of something I can't put my finger
on into the mix. Anyway, we started on Final Fantasy and ended up on Dragon Quest... what's new around here?
Back to Final Fantasy VIII for a second, it would have been a better idea, perhaps, for Square not to have ditched
the idea of treasures for that very exploration reason. That said, discovering secret draw points with funky spells
was always fun, wasn't it?
Hi there Slimeh and Bainick,
Holy crapcabobs I can't believe I got both questions
right yesterday o.o
Although I don't advocate constructing crapkabobs, let alone sacred ones, yes, you did very well.
Anyway I'm now 21 years old since today, Feb 2nd is my
birthday, anyway that isn't the point unlike last
years letter, I've recently made a friend who is both
female and an RPGamer but despite her love of DQ8, she
usually likes games purely for their visuals or for
collectors sake, is there anyway to convert graphics
lovers into non-graphics lovers? Then again her first
gaming experience was FF8 and she likes Legend of the
Dragoon... Anyway just curious if either of you have
any schemes on how to sway someone over from graphics
to gameplay and story
Well, happy birthday, Arros! You're now officially an adult in most regions of the world, to my knowledge,
though you've been an adult in the eyes of Canada for over a thousand days by this point. How about that?
As for the graphics whores, it is a difficult thing to convert one outside of brainwashing and/or 12-step
programs that don't yet exist. My best advice is probably to work backwards through the Final Fantasies; taking
too much of a step back might scare your friend away, but by gradually immersing her into less and less glorious-looking
realms, she might be able to take it. It's kind of like a hot tub; you can't just jump in right off the bat, because
it would be way too disturbingly hot, but if you slowly sink in at the rate of about an inch of skin per minute, it's
real nice (put a southern accent on the last two words there for a fun effect).
So yeah I doubt that'll make it into the collumn but
still, I'd personally hate to see a sequel to Vagrant
Story seeing as the first one was utter crap, I think
someone who wrote into the collumn or wrote the
collumn mistook Vagrant Story for some other V-named
game and that is what lead to this shocking rumor
Youch! I take it that it's pretty safe to say you don't like Vagrant Story, hmm? Maybe a sequel would improve
on the original formula twentyfold.
Matt notes: -5 times 20 is -100
*doesn't want to choke down another assless pants
filled convoluted adventure, Vagrant Story how I
I don't even know what that means, but assless pants only look good on... hrrrmm, maybe I shouldn't answer that
Anyway, happy birthday; I'm puzzled but glad that you spent it writing into my (our) little space here. Have
a slice of cake for me!
Conversing with one's self? This might be a first for Q&A...
What was your first game you ever played, and what was your first
RPG you ever played?
What is your favourite/worst rpg in your
What is your favourite boss theme?
What game are you getting next?
What game do you regret getting?
Thanks Bainick, I want to be just like you when I grow up, you're my Hero!
Well I must answer some questions from this charming, handsome and overall
godly muscular man.
Rowr! Australian guys ARE supposed to be hot, and Q&A hosts never, ever lie.
Anyway, sorry to interrupt.
The first game I ever played just happened to be that classic called Mario
Bros. 3. I was only 4 years old at the time, but I was hooked, line and sinker
from the fact that you could jump on little squishy things.
My first RPG that I ever played was Secret of Mana, which i've only recently
reacquired. I reckon I spent about $150 (renting $10 a week) just trying to
pass the game and the fact that you could play with more than one person
meant I never was the little spirit, ever.
I was just looking at my collection of RPGs..... and i'm back. I would say that
Terranigma, FF7, and Star Ocean 2 would be the cream of my crop, whereas the
Gamecube Pokemon games and Final Fantasy: CC would be the lowpoint of my
collection. These games are hidden from the eyes of the casual visitor.
My favourite boss theme would be Neclord's theme from Suikoden 2. I was
reading the most recent Roundtable and someone stated that Suikoden 2 didn't
have any rememorable music in it. It's a Gothic styled song with midi version
Violins, electric guitars, and an organ. I rate it better then most music
in any of the FF games. Oh, and Lufia's Sinistral boss music is pretty darn
*starts listening to Lufia music*
I regret buying only a few games. These include: YuGiOh Dualist of the Roses,
or something like that, for the PS2, Beyblades for Gamecube, Glover, Holy Magic
Century, Duke Nukem 3D for N64 and an AFL game for the PC... the horror, the
Lastly, I plan to buy Mario and Luigi: PIT and Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme
Legends, if they are ever deemed fit for release, and maybe the next Elder
Scrolls if the XBOX 360 is ever fit for release. Yes, it still hasn't been
released in Australia when the rest of the world can get their grubby hands
Thanks, Bainick. Your letters are always welcome here.
I'LL be the judge of THAT, thank you very much! You've done a fine job co-hosting, but don't get too
comfy. I'm the dictator here, and don't you forget it; that is, at least until I get hit by a sniper bullet from
Ouro the assassin.
We lived through yet another week, and I think we finished it off in grand style,
wouldn't you agree? That now brings me to my next announcement, so everyone, prepare yourselves:
I'll be back next week to give you more!!! Awahahhaha.
I can't go without finishing up the week in SOCK, though, can I? Also, Bainick has two cents to
contribute today, so, well, there are no two ways about it. Let us do it.
Yesterday's questions were, for the most part, really well done! I'm proud of you all, especially
given the fact that there was a slight amount of subjectivity in the second one. Anyway, #103 asked
about what greek letter is used to represent eigenvalues. The answer was b) Lambda, for 65 points.
The most useless character I was referring to in #104 was e) Jean, who is stupid, powerless, and
altogether pathetic except for his Death spell, which he learns far too late into the game, if I remember
correctly. 80 points for yon correct-guessers.
Now, believe it or not, Ourobolus just crossed 2,000, so he will again rise to become the next in the
history of co-hosts, and our first repeat customer; this time, as true blue RPGamer staff! I hope you've
been reading his editorials, or he might give you a whipping. Watch for him sometime next week!
One MORE announcement: Inflation has struck yet again! People who submit SOCK answers and get both
wrong never go away empty-handed; now, if this befalls you, you will receive 32 points to your
name at the very least, starting next week. There's more reason than ever to participate; after all,
E3 is coming up in just a couple of months, and I hear they like to give out freebies. *WINK WINK*
To wrap up the week:
Whose theme is this? Take a listen (85 points)
Ask Bainick!-->In the Otway Ranges south of Colac, there is a road well known for its
windyness and its closures due to landslides that connects Beach Forest to
the Colac-Apollo Bay Road; what is the name of this road? (80 points)
a) Turners Track
b) Turning Track
c) Turks Track
d) Turtons Track
e) Turnover Track
It's now very close between the top ten, but there are some new up-and-comers (Dermot,
Knighttrain, and others) that have their eyes set on the leaderboard as well! It will be a tight
race to see which five cross the 2,000 mark first! Also, the last crazed-chipmunk FF1 zipfile-soundtrack
was claimed today, by none other than Kanato. My eccentricity will remain hidden forevermore, unless,
of course, there is enough demand for a sequel.
Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):
400 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
1,000 points: The Mattie's Mom Cookie Recipe Compilation (1 remaining!)
2,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (5 remaining!)
5,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #3 (5 remaining!)
It's been another enjoyable week! Please return and join me next Tuesday, when I will resume the
answering and the questioning. In the meantime, please enjoy your weekend! Rack up some good
Qs for next time, and make me a happy Guelphian.
***Matt needs a haircut. Really badly.
Tired is me. Sleep I must get!
Feb. 2 - Matt
Feb. 1 - Matt
Jan. 31 - Matt
Jan. 29 - Cast
About the Host
Matt's Newest Unhealthy Addiction
Another Unhealthy Addiction
Matt's Top 3 Current Games:
1. Dragon Quest VIII
2. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
3. Mario Kart DS
Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Disgaea II
3. Children of Mana
7. Arros Raikou