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ASK MATT
Emu Kid February 7, 2006

Matt Demers - 00:31 EST

IT'S-A-ME! Matt-i-o!

Did you miss me? Whether you did or not, I'm back for another week of Q&A, and that week will start off with this very column. I hope that the weekend treated all of you well; outside of intermittent power loss as a result of a horrible snowstorm reaffirming the unfortunate existence of winter, I'm doing all right. One side effect: I've been saving my work far more frequently than usual.

Before the lights go out again, let me look in the mailbag to see what you sent me over the last few days.




L E T T E R S
Back to the age-old PAL quandary


Oi Matt!

Just a quick question probably not related to anything, I am semi new to your column and am wondering how I can go about submitting answers to the sock questions, as I do believe that I would OWN Them all over everyone.

Matt

You can try and own them the best you can just by doing what you're doing! Just send an e-mail with your guesses and nickname, and you're all set. Perhaps we'll see you in the Top Ten in the coming weeks, if you do fairly well. On the other hand, maybe we'll put your haughty ego in its place if you fare less well than you think you will. Either way, I'm sure it'll be a whole lotta fun (for the whole family!) ...

Oh, and just so you know, answers to today's, 103=B) Lambda, and 104=A)Bow. Probably. I hated using him, and he seemed the most useless, at least compared to absolutely everyone else.

And for a question for the column, why Why WHY in the name of GOD is it nearly impossible to find decent RPG's ANYWHERE in Australia? Me wanty the Dragon Quest Eight!

Jeremy Hore


Matt

The reason why, my friend, is due to the dreaded PAL-format. Luckily for you, though, Dragon Quest VIII has indeed been announced for release in Europe, which uses the same format, so your chances of seeing it soon are actually quite good. Hold your breath, be patient, and read Q&A every day, and everything will be just fine. If it's any consolation, the rest of the world has been kind of devoid of truly "great" RPGs over the last year or so anyway, besides the game you mentioned, so we actually feel your pain; to some degree, anyway.



This letter is not about acid reflux, a disease of the esophagus


Hey Matt,

New to your letters, but I enjoy the random chuckles that you hand out so freely.

I recently purchased DQ8, and it is outstanding. Although I was frustrated initially at the inclusion of any sort of character art resembling Dragon Ball (especially created by the DB "Man" himself). I am pleased to say that King Trode and Yangus have won my hard earned dollar and respect.

Matt

All of you DBZ-loving outcriers out there need to realize that Toriyama ALSO developed the art for the Dragon Quest comic way back more than twenty years ago. DQVIII's graphical style isn't "ripping off" anyfin' or nuffin', so up wiv it an' look lively, as Yangus would say. I'm glad you're enjoying it, anyway.

When I am not fully engossed with the amazing gameplay and quirky story, I find myself drawn to Suikoden 4 and Tactics. While four was pathetic, Tactics has provided me with a remarkable amount of enjoyment for the seven dollars I paid of it. I would have gladly dolled out five times as much for such a fun jaunt into the tactical swashbuckling realm. However, playing 4 without tactics is like just watching SW: Episode 1 where you just want to strangle Jake Lloyd. And playing tactics without 4, well it's kind of the episode 3 of the two, you can like it, but you'll never love it until you see the rest of the series because it is a story of the redemption of the single worst Suikoden game in the series. Which leads me to my questions.

Matt

Seven bucks!? That's less than I paid for the meat I bought for dinner tonight, you rascal, you. Your ingenuity has earned you the right to ask me a question. So do't.

I am interested in Suikoden V details, do you have any? Like a more solid release date. I keep hearing early March.


Matt

I don't know too much beyond the RPGamer impression from awhile back, but it does like a graphically beautifully game, if nothing else. The game has a not-so-specific release date of "March," but seeing as it's now February, we will quite likely hear more news very soon regarding a firm date.

Is the .hack series worth playing/owning? I don't mind crappy rpgs as long as they have at least one or two redeeming characteristics. I am a sucker for anime-style art/games, and this seems to qualify for both. The game seems very unique and fun, but I don't know which game comes first, and I don't want to waste precious DQ8 hours on playing a game that isn't worth it.

Matt

Well, you don't know until you try, now do you? There are people that swear by the .hack series, as I'm sure you know. I didn't get into it originally because it seemed like a pricey RPG fix; the games are reportedly quite short, too, and addiction-inducingly sequentially-dependent (i.e. if you play the first one, you'll want to pick up the story in the next game, and the same with the third, etc etc). Now that the prices have come down, I wouldn't see the harm in giving the originals a spin, if you can find them somewhere. No matter what you do, don't play nothing BUT Dragon Quest- er- DO play more than just Dragon Quest, I mean, because you might get Quested-out, as certain members of RPGamer's staff could tell you.

What are your thoughts on Radiata Stories? I kinda dug it. Multiple endings, plenty of people to recruit, lots of extras and hidden dungeons, and oh yeah, not awful voice acting.

Matt

What do I think? How about "WHEN DO I GET TO PLAY?!" Radiata Stories is sitting on my shelf. I got it for Christmas, but I haven't even tried opening it yet, because I already have a LOT of games on the go as it is, and adding yet another to the mix could be deleterious to my health and/or that of the people around me. Why? I don't bother with the details.

From the sounds of it, Radiata Stories is a game that some people really love, and some people really hate. It's a Tri-Ace game, so hopefully they learned a thing or two from the quasi-disgraceful Star Ocean: TTEOT. I don't know, so I'm trying to not go into it expecting anything to help eliminate bias from my own opinion. I just hope that I do get the chance TO get into it, before, say, next Christmas.

Shining Tears? When did this game come out? Is it any fun? I saw it was multiplayer, and I do enjoy multiplayer smash and grab games.

Matt

Hmmm, yeah, 'twas a rather quiet release. I suspect that the game did less than well in North America, since I don't know anyone that bought it. I wanted to try Shining Force Neo, myself, but that looks less likely by the hour...

Ys Ark of N-something long. I saw it for twenty bucks. It got some above average reviews and looks intriguing in the same way that all games with pretty pictures do. That's it for questions. While I share your mutual disdain for Quina, my personal aggravation is much higher for one Snowe Vingerhut, so if you can find that backstabbing $%##$, execute him at all costs. The 107 Stars of Desting won't miss him at all.

Ben


Matt

Some Suikoden-based character, huh? Well, I'd say that if you despise only one out of 108 different characters, that's a pretty good ratio, all-in-all.

Also, it's Napishtim, for future reference. Now you'll know, if you're ever on Jeopardy and the question gets asked... or RPGeopardy, for that matter. See how much you learn here!? From all accounts, Ys is a really good game with a quick, fun battle system; it's perhaps one of the games out there with the greatest "popularity deficit," in that while it is consistently reviewed fairly well, not many people have actually played the game.

Thanks for the collection of questions, Mr. Ben! Write again soon.



Poking your nose where you should not (yet) be poking it


Matticus of Columnnius,

Replying to your replies in their respective order:


a) I also cannot recall if you could play the casino games on that ship or not. It's been too long, and I'm not planning on replaying Chrono Cross in this lifetime. Even if the casino games were playable---heck, even if the Holy Grail was stored in the ship's hold---I would never voluntarily go back onto that ship!

Matt

Liar! I'm sure that depending on the circumstances, you would definitely go back onto the ship. If someone was pointing a gun to your head, or offering you 3.7 million dollars, I'll bet you'd bear that horrid music just one more time. ONE more...you can do eet!

b) I definitely agree about the hero taking up valuable party space all the time. It does sort of nix the idea of teamwork when one guy always insists on being in every battle. It's like that jerk in gym class who always insists on being team captain... it's annoying, and you just want to hit him square in the face with a dodgeball. As a follow-up, the characters who absolutely insist that they must take part in the upcoming battles no matter how useless they are (Gremio, I'm looking at you...) annoy me even more than the hero staying in y our party, but I can understand the importance to the plot to have specific characters in key situations. Having the main hero as the full-time, non-removable badass isn't always necessary.

Matt

Yeah, and if you don't like main characters to begin with, like that oddball-with-the-disorder who wrote in last week, I can imagine that an issue like that might be especially troublesome.

The jerks that you describe in gym class though were people that I loved. Every minute that they had the ball was a minute that I didn't have to fumble with it, and believe me, THAT was a good thing. Sports used to scare poor little me...

c) The only example of a game where you can explore an area before you should is in Star Ocean 2. If I recall correctly, that range of mountains near Cross Castle doesn't have a low-ranking, pitiful Cross guard saying "Halt! This area is off limits!" One can gain quite a few levels and get some good equipment from that area if one can survive the monsters. FFVI allowed you to explore things once you got control of the Blackjack---upon my first playthrough, I immediately went to all the other towns to see if I could get anything good from the shop keepers. The kind folk of Thamasa said they "...don't talk to strangers" or some such. That's another version of a barrier right there: not talking to strange people. Holy Catoblepas! ; You'd think they'd give any strange-looking person a shot with strange, old Strago living in town, but I guess that's too much to ask. They eventually warm up to you (if you advance the plot, of course) but for that brief moment in plot-time, the people of Thamasa are on Neighborhood watch for anyone suspicious. Convenient! Too convenient...

Matt

Oh, yes, for sure... there are plenty of games that DO allow you to go and explore places ahead of time, though nothing exciting will happen. I like stuff like that, especially in linear games, because the openness and freedom makes the world seem less artificially-constructed. FFVI did this, but so did many of the other games in the series; I, II, III, IV, V, and VII come to mind. I love the fact that yes, if you want to, you can walk RIGHT to Mysidia in FFII in the beginning, if I recall correctly, thanks to the wrap-around-the-globe supercontinental Pangaea. You won't live to see the town, but you could indeed try.

And to throw yet another question at you (with great force)... I had this conversation with a friend of mine the other day. The story of a game never gets my attention unless it proves to be incredibly annoying. I follow the dialogue the first time through, but I never really care for what I'm doing or why I'm doing it. I just play. I guess I'd classify myself as a "Battle RPGamer" as a recent Q&A column termed it---I play RPGs for the game, the battles, and not for the story. I guess that's why things like Johnny Roadblocks and overly cautious townsfolk bother me so much. Maybe I'm weird, but I don't care for the ending battle, the ending sequences, the ending FMVs, or even the be-all, end-all "Oh my god, this song must be awesome!" final theme music of a role-playing game. I absolutely don't care. I become bored when I'm right at the end of a RPG. I could list you a good 5-7 RPGS in which I've gotten to the end area and I've just stopped playing. Endings always annoy me, not because they signify completion of one's journey, but because they always fail to impress me. I'd rather play right to the end-point and start the game over again without seeing the ending. I'm doing that right now with Tales of Symphonia. Have you ever had this tendency or witnessed this tendency in another?

--Kaz (throwing dodgeballs in the faces of RPG heroes everywhere)


Matt

No, I haven't had the tendency, nor have I seen it much. Most of my friends (and, I'd argue, most RPGamers in North America) are Storyline RPGamers. In my experience, the storyline is what sucks new players into the genre, never to escape, since the longer they stay, the more the gameplay grows on them. Much of the time, though, people that come into RPGs in this way are hungry to see how things end up in the end; they aren't going to want to work so hard to get all the way to the end to "just not care." The ending scene for me is sad, more than anything, and not because any storyline in particular is sad; usually, it's just because the game is over, and if it has been a fun game in particular, such a thing is disappointing.

Of course, there are a great number of people out there with the curious tendency to get to the last dungeon of a game and then just drop it altogether, arbitrarily. Why? I never understood this, myself, but my own sister has a serious problem with this, and several of you have written into me to talk about your peculiar habits of abandoning a game just before finishing it. Someone needs to fund a study!



Run, monstas! RUN like you've never RUN BEFORE!!!


Tthewy said "you can never "block monsters" when THEY try to run. It's an inequality that MUST be fulfilled sometime in the future,"

How about "sometime in the past" instead?

My first thought was "FFIII", since it would tell you that they tried and failed, to escape. (I guess the future DS remake might keep this feature.)

I also remembered "Skies of Arcadia Legends" had monsters failing to escape too. But I can't think of any others games off the top of my head. (Someone else will probably offer some more.)

Although I wonder if some games give no notice of a failed break out. Or perhaps auto-attack if it fails.


Matt

Really?? I guess it HAS been awhile since I've touched the original FFIII, but I really can't remember monsters failing in running away; you're probably right, though. My only personal experience was in Dragon Quest VI or VII... I THINK that there is an ability that you can learn that will block the monsters from being able to run. King Slimes can use it against you, and I believe that it was somehow available to the player, too. Not too sure, though.



Clearly, I am GOD.


Hey Matt,

Iíve been reading some older columns and developed an overwhelming urge to ask a bizarre random question. I donít know if anyone has asked this before, but how on earth do you remember as much as you do about older games? And by older I mean the NES and SNES ones in particular. I played tons of RPGs during the '90s, but, due to the fact that games were extravagantly priced back then and I was a penniless student, I rented most of them. As a result I only played these games once through (and usually with the sort of obsessive intensity required when you were renting in the days before memory cards), and thus my memory of many of these rented games is patchy. Naturally my recollection of games I owned or played repeatedly like FF and Chrono Trigger is quite good, but Breath of Fire and Lufia, for instance, are another story. Meanwhile your columns mention specific details about these games, even about less popular titles like The Secret of Evermore (Iíd forgotten all about the toaster dog!). So whatís your secret? As far as I know youíre not the heir to huge a family fortune and thus canít possibly have owned them all... Did you play them all multiple times? Have you been doing classic game research on the sly? Or is remembering details of old RPGs your superpower?

So thereís some randomness for the day...

Erika Wolfraven


Matt

Randomness, like cheese, is what makes the world go 'round! Without your randomness, I wouldn't be able to spout on for a fifth letter today, and I wouldn't have had Pokťmon leap into my mind at the sight of your name.

There are many people in the world that just happen to know a lot about a certain subject. A popular subject that many people I know (and I'm sure many you know) have a lot of knowledge about is popular music. I never understood how a new song would come out, and immediately thereafter, everyone around would talk about "Oh, that's blahblah by bleeblee, isn't it?" I don't watch MTV or Much Music, I rarely have the radio on, and I never buy CDs, so I don't get exposed to it enough to absorb any of this knowledge.

I guess, though, that for me, old RPGs are what pop music is to all of these other people. I used to play Dragon Warrior, the SNES Final Fantasy games, Breath of Fire, Earthbound, Secret of Whatever... for hours on end. When I'd finish them, I'd play them all again. I remember almost everything about these games because they were MY MTV, Much Music, CDs, or whatever. I don't own them all either, though I have picked up some of them over the years. There are old games that I rented in the early 1990s, like Dragon Warrior 3, or Breath of Fire 2, that I didn't get to play for almost ten years, when I finally acquired them (emotional reunions, they were).

I suppose then, that being such a big part of my life, the little details of these old RPGs stuck in my brain throughout my youth, where they still reside now. Not just RPGs, though--Megaman is a big one. I remember almost everything about every old Megaman game, and I love to impart my knowledge upon interested souls. I loooove my Megaman. <3





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

All good things must come to an end, and since this column wasn't particularly great, I'm not quite finished yet! After all, there isn't any saying, to my knowledge, that speaks of whether non-good things go on forever or not.

This week should be interesting, seeing as I have a humongous midterm on Wednesday that I am certainly ill-prepared for, and a much bigger seminar to disseminate next week. Fun times. Luckily, my reading week is not far away!

Flashay!


A few of you knew exactly where I got the music from last time, and some of you did some sneaky research to figure it out. I should have mixed up the characters and made them come from different games, but, ah well. The game was MANIAC MANSION (which I love) and the correct answer was c) Wendy's, since the song was her nerdy theme. 85 points for you nerdy people that would know such a thing.

Bainick lent a question with an Australian flair to end his column, too. The correct answer to his problem was d) Turton's Track, and that was worth another 80. We're into some big pointage now, aren't we?

Before we move on, I'm pretty sure I forgot to give away the ceremonial tilde last week to Dermot, who quickly passed the 400 mark without notice, and now sits in twelfth position with 636 points. I'm sorry, m'dear, but I've got a fresh one for you:

~


A couple more questions for you:

Question #107:
What is the best way to deal with a tentacle? (80 points)

a) Give it a carbonated beverage.
b) Massage its suction cups.
c) Slash it vertically with a kitchen cleaver.
d) Bribe it with football tickets.
e) Steal its hamster.

Question #108:
Arbitrarily, which of the following options will be the response most people will guess to this question? (100 points)

a) Blue
b) Red
c) Orange
d) Black
e) White

... cool question, hmm? I'll tally up everyone's answers, and whoever is in the majority will get the points! Uwee, hee, hee! I'm excited.


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!)


That's a wrap for today, everyone! I suggest we open up a new line of questioning: What is the WORST RPG that you can think of, and why do you feel that way? Everyone feels passionate about this topic; everyone has had bad experiences while playing RPGs. Thus, lend me your feelings, so that I can put them on display for all to read! I implore you.

Also, get ready... Ourobolus will be co-hosting again sometime very soon. Remember, no matter what he tells you, that I LOVE YOU ALL and that I am here solely for the good of the world.


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is ready to hit the books (ow!) ...


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926 pts

10. Knighttrain
717 pts

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