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ASK MATT
Brain Corrosion February 8, 2006

Matt Demers - 18:00 EST

WHAT IS IN AN INTRODUCTION? Why must I come up with these every single day? Because, dammit, the template requires that I do, and if I go beyond my jurisdiction, then, well, I'd probably get a few chastising remarks from my higher-ups. What can I say? I'm powerless in my own realm.

Thus, I have no choice in the matter but to entertain you by talking about how difficult it is to come up with interesting things to say in the introductory paragraphs. Heck, I even talked about TALKING about writing the stupid things here, didn't I? Come to think of it, I mentioned something about talking about talking about talking about those very things, too... and so on.

See the wonderful recursion in this conversaton I'm having with myself? It's so mathematically exciting, especially for someone who is studying fractal analysis for their master's degree, like me. WHEEEHEEHEE! If none of this makes any sense to you, then go read about fractals somewhere; they equal fun!

Anyway, as usual, I've got a bunch of letters ready for your viewing pleasure. We'll start with... well, see for yourself, below.





L E T T E R S
Back on the Q side


Wow after a long drought (not counting the weather in Australia) of RPG's Matt, we seem to be getting quite a Few, like Mario and Luigi: PIT on the 10th and Suikoden Tactics on the 24th. But what intrigues me most is the new info on Suikoden 5 and Mother 3.

Matt

Hooray for Australia! Your RPG-dances have worked, apparently, though two games is still a fairly paltry number, all in all. But with regards to Mother 3...I've heard stirrings about it too, recently... what have you heard?

On this official site here they have started the small release of info that includes a welcome page and the theme music thus far. And on Sukoden 5's webpage there i've seen for a small cost of 9 mb the opening movie for Suikoden 5, which like game two shows off plenty of characters, one which looks like a dragon and in one section show all of the runes true and normal, seen and yet to be seen in the Suikoden Universe, WOW. Heres hoping that the story here will match Suikoden 2's and from what I here and read not that I can play it Sukoden 3!

Matt

How very exciting! I'm sure that any news at all on Suikoden V is good news for many; notably, Suikoden fans.

The Mother 3 thing is slowly getting my interest, but I'm still not COMPLETELY convinced. I want something more concrete... do you remember seeing all of those "in-game images" of Earthbound 64 waaaaaay back in like 1997? I certainly do, and it looked soooo cool; what a tease! Those guys at Nintendo will not sucker me in again; not in a month of Sundays!

Anywho I myself and currently playing through Grandia 2 at the moment, and have realised that it decided to keep with the orriginal battle style, with improvements of course and I began to wonder that if a game series as a near perfect battle system that works for that game, do you really need to change it from water to wine to imopress the public like some series. I am also enjoying the three way romance with the two main characters. (That's right play the game and you'll understand). When did romance get so boring that you know exactly what is going to happen before the hints that it is going to happen appear? Lastly why does it seem that every Religion in every game end sup being evil. Final Fantasy 10, Grandia 2, Earthbound. Is there something against religion that all game writers have, not that i'm for or against religion but a balance would keep the expected unexpectable.

Anyway i'm pooped. GoKarts and Laser Force in the one day and its just turned 3:19 in the morning.

Your faithful but totally abused sidekick Bainick


Matt

You're certainly right about the religion thing; there are a huge number of examples where religious figures or religion itself ends up being villainous in some way, shape, or form. I think that religion, like any set of beliefs, lends itself well to the concept of badness. I'm not saying that religion is a BAD thing in general; what I mean is that it is an influential thing that can be used to gather thousands of people together with a common cause. If that cause were a sinister one, or if the people on top were using there power in nefarious ways... well, you have an instant diabolical plot, now don't you?

My favourite example of this is probably found in Breath of Fire II. It took me by surprise the first time I played the game, and I remember parading around the house afterwards talking about religion being evil, much to the concern of my devoutly religious father. Ah, kids.



Strike One, Secret of Evermore...


Dear Master of all Knowledge,

Worst game ever? Hm. Kinda hard to think about really, since all games have their good and bad. *thinks* I would like to say X-2, but seeing as how I haven't even brought myself to try to play it, I don't think that counts. But overall (I know somebody mentioned it the other day), I'd have to say Secret of Evermore.....because I just didn't feel very inclined to work within it's seemingly counterproductive game engine. ... that and I was thinking it'd be like Secret of Mana. I guess I was expecting something different than what I got.

Matt

Awww, but see? That was exactly your mistake! If you go into Secret of Evermore expecting Secret of Mana, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. I still argue, though, that the game is good in its own right, putting all preconceptions and popular-put-downage aside. SoE wasn't perfect, no, but it was well-presented, boasted a more-than-adequate action RPG style, and featured a number of interesting places to explore. Of course, you're entitled to your own opinion!

But that is not the reason for which I write! I write to tell you about a game called Wild ARMs 4 (of which I think you were wondering about, since nobody has written in on it). I digress....

My feelings on WA 4? I absolutely love it. Oh, it's got it's fun WA quirks by giving you puzzles that make you want to claw your eyes out once you realize your first idea was the RIGHT idea *laughs*, it's somewhat cliche items, as well as a few zany plot twists that you really don't see coming. Well, at least I didn't. (I haven't finished it yet, so we'll see how it ends...)

[for those not in the know....I'm sure most of this was covered in the review of it....]

Matt

For your convenience, take a look right here, for those very reviews, for any interested persons. Otherwise, let's get to your point of view!

WA 4 is entirely different from the previous 3 games. First off, the battle system is no longer just a click and hit system. Instead you must move around a hex grid - which admittedly.....I like. A lot. It's very fun. On top of that, your characters get combination moves, so if you're in the same hex, you can do a double-team attack (and possibly three and four people too). I look forward to finding those. Secondly! The dialogue is mainly in text boxes where images of the characters will change emotion or direction ( they actually animate the characters via models, rather than just pictures for the important parts). You'd think it's annoying....but you get used to it, and their use of the images, and their sliding around the screen is quite hilarious at some points. Lastly! There is voice acting. Yes. Something that has never been done in a WA game before - and can lead many a game to death. Not this one. So far I have loved all the voices that come along, and they added the feature that you can specify how often the characters will talk during battles or doing actions (Nice!). You can even turn their extra voices off if you so desire.

There are other changes from the regular formula - the main character is VERY young (13), there is no map wandering, you traverse a path (much like in tactics), and it's a TON more sci-fi-ish than normal. But change is good.

Matt

Well, it sounds like you're giving a hearty thumbs-up for the game. Thanks for the insight! The idea of a revamped battle system, I must admit, is quite exciting, since the one I'm experiencing in WA:ACF is slightly bland so far, to say the least.

I'd argue that while bad voice acting can definitely be annoying, it's difficult for that alone to bring games to a terrible "death", as it were. Most of the time, in my experience, other factors usually couple together to bring would-be-mediocre (or even decent) games to their knees. In recent times, though, it does seem like there are more and more games with excellent voice acting, so maybe developers are slowly waking up to realize that yes, this is important to gamers like yourself.

Anyway (wow that was long, sorry about that). I highly recommend WA 4. I do warn, it is a bit heavy with the whole "war is bad" and "coming of age story", but WA is known for getting an idea in it's head.....and incessantly reminding you about it. But it has still managed to captivate me nonetheless. We'll see what I think once I'm done. :)

Oh. Post Note on "review/observation/recommendation" - I have actually played all of the WA games that have crossed over to the US (I just haven't finished AC:F yet - WA 4 took all the free time I had to do AC:F). In case anybody needed justification in my above opinion.

Whew. That was really long. Sorry for all that reading!

Karmada


Matt

Don't apologize! Reading is what this column is all about; Q&A wouldn't be much without it, after all. I'm glad that you enjoyed the game as much as you did, and I shall take your recommendation to heart.

Now, though, the fun begins: Who out there agrees? Or, is Karmada nuts? Whether you have an opposing point of view, a supporting point of view, or a neutral one, get in on the debate! I'd offer my two cents, but I don't own the game. Ehehehehe...



Proving that I know nothing...


Hey,

The worst RPG of all time? There is only one game that I hated so much that I almost gave up on, Baten Kaitos. It looked like a decent game, I liked the battle system at least. But the voice acting was so horrid, to finish the game I had to play with the TV muted and the radio on. The story was also very laking. But I finished it.

Matt

Well, so much for my above defense concerning voice acting, hmm? Why is it that every single time I try and make an interesting, semi-controversial statement, someone immediately confounds me by saying something in contradiction? I SWEAR I didn't read this letter before I responded to, uh, Karmada up there.

*sigh*

On another note, has there, or will there be, a decent turn based non-tactical RPG coming out anytime soon? Atlier Iris was pretty good. I bought Romancing Saga but that kinda lost my interest, and right now I'm playing suikoden 4 which isn't all that great either. *sigh* My kingdom for a PS3 remake of FFVII. Off to petition Square/Enix,
Kyle


Matt

Is this a trick question? For heaven's sakes, think about Dragon Quest VIII this instant, young man, if you know what's good for you!

I actually didn't really like Atelier Iris all that much, though it was mostly playable. Perhaps you found some spark in it that I didn't; you wouldn't be the only one.

Also, my intention is not to start rumours or anything, but with the amount of talk around about a FFVII remake, as well as the FFVII prequels and sequels and re-quels and whatever-quels coming out shortly, not to mention Square Enix's current penchant for remakes, I'd gamble that Square Enix is indeed planning something along the lines of a full-blown FFVII remake. My only hope is that IF they do, they decide to leave the wonderful battle system intact... tampering with such a good thing would be a really dismaying thing, wouldn't you agree?



Infinity isn't a number... it's a concepdungeon!


Hey Matt, Oh Slime of Wonder (sounds like a theme song...)

Matt

What? You mean you can't actually hear the real theme music?? Damn, maybe it's just in my head. I should outfit this page with an automatic MIDI background music that plays at annoyingly high volumes, but I won't, since I don't want to risk losing my meagre fanbase.

I personally believe that the worst RPG-related game in history, in my recent experience, is RPG Maker 3. Man, I couldn't believe the lack of options, the mismatched character sets (the anime styles looked the best, and none of the characters looked like them), and the overall focus on terrain, rather than gameplay. Not to mention that, if you wanted to save any of your work, you had to buy a seperate memory card. I mean, maybe I'm trying to make too complex a game, or maybe I didn't find out about everything, but when you have a thief that doesn't have a "steal" ability, something isn't right.

Matt

Yuck, that does sound rather limiting. I've expressed in recent columns that I love making RPGs and coming up with ideas for potential games, but I've never invested in any of the RPG Makers, because they've all seemed to be quite inadequate for the kinds of plans I have in mind. Maybe I'm wrong, but if a thief can't even thieve, you're right; something IS wrong.

That in mind, is anyone else here an aspiring RPG designer? If so, write in, and tell me what you think about the RPG Maker games if you've tried them out. Even if you haven't, at the very least, give me a shout so we can chat.

All that said, I had a RPG question for thou. What is your all-time favorite dungeon, and why? I know what mine is: The Spirit Temple in Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Blasted silver rupees... Anyway, thanks for doing a super job on QnA. You got me back into reading it.

Undeniably,
Ganon0


Matt

Oh, man. My favourite dungeon of all time? That's a real toss-up. There are a few that I really appreciate; generally, I love dungeons that are truly gratifying to finally beat: You know, the ridiculously long and difficult ones that you start in by going "HUH?" and by the sixth floor have you running very low on MP.

My top awards, thus, have to go to the Cave of Necrogond in Dragon Warrior III, which was just so wonderfully terrible; and the journey down Infinity to the Dragon Town in Breath of Fire II. Man, that dungeon was just SICK. Enough said!

Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying the column as much as you are! Thanks for sending in a letter, Ganon0... I hope to hear from you again!



Day of the Tentacle!


Hey Matt,

I’m sure everyone knows how much I hate Lunar, mostly because (1) I could only stomach 5 minutes of the dub when I tried it on my friend’s Playstation and (2) I played Lunar Legend in tears on my GBA during my first few weeks in Japan —not because it had become boring and tedious with horrible music, but because I was very homesick and one of the people I was in Japan with from school (who recommended it to me) tactlessly told me to back off so I had no one to hang out with. So, long story short, I’m scarred for life.

Matt

Ohhh... that's kinda sad, Bucket. :(
I never thought about circumstancial badness at all until I read your letter. I hope that the rest of your trip turned out to be at least okay!

Can a dub really be that bad, though? I assume you're talking about English voice-acting over Japanese mouth-movements, of course. It's not like those problems are anything unique, in that case!

Another of the RPG’s I really grew to dislike was Maniac Mansion, back when I was renting games for my Nintendo. It was really hard for me to play at the time even with hint guides from Game Player’s Magazine—heck, I was only 10. It wasn’t until the time I rediscovered emulation that I finally beat that game, and I do have to agree it was rather tedious. I tried out the GBC version of Crystalis and found it really bad as well, at least I only paid $20 for it. As for the more advanced system front, I tried Harvest Moon: AWL SE for ONE DAY and began to dislike it IMMENSELY, which makes me wish I never bought it…Sigh…

Anyway, here’s to me getting a AAA in Dance Dance Revolution sometime in the near future.

Bucket


Matt

Oh, you're kidding me!! Firstly, to get it out of the way, I wouldn't really call Maniac Mansion an RPG, necessarily, despite the fact that you are kinda "playing a role".

BUT...you really didn't like it that much?? It was so full of wonderful randomness, and there were so many really scary moments in the game. It was always frightening to go into the kitchen to find Nurse Edna busy putting groceries away. I remember nearly jumping out of my skin when the "evil" music suddenly started playing!

Harvest Moon isn't really my style, so I can't really say, but my cousins have a lot of fun playing it. As for Crystalis, I have to hand it to you; I was just talking about the GBC remake with Ourobolus only yesterday evening, which is eerily coincidental! I didn't mind the port too badly, and I'm one of the few people who actually enjoyed the change-of-overworld music. DON'T YELL AT ME!

Thanks much for writing in again, Bucket; it's always good to hear from you.



Never-winter indeed


So, wise and knowledgable masters of ...

Ah screw it. Question: Why doesn't RPGamer have a lick of coverage about NWN2? It's got to be one of the more signifigant RPGs being released on the PC, yet I haven't heard a word about it on RPGamer. What conspiracy did I miss?

You guys should do a preview or an interview or something like that.


Matt

I never caught it, because PC RPGs aren't exactly my can of beans (what does that even mean?), but seeing as many other sites out there do indeed have previews, interviews, and other features, I'm not really sure why RPGamer doesn't. Thus, I'm somewhat mystified myself; I'll have to bring it up with the bigwigs.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

*cracks neck*

*cracks neck*

*cracks ankles*

*cracks back*

*cracks knuckles*

Okay, I'm ready to carry on now.


Flashay!


Yesterday's answers? I sneakily threw in another Maniac Mansion question yesterday. The best thing to do with a tentacle is to a) give it a carbonated beverage because they're far more likely to let you pass that way, as anyone who has played the game could tell you. 80 points for that one!

Also, let's look at the tally of answers for #108... which was most popular?

a) Blue: 2 guesses
b) Red: 3 guesses
c) Orange: 1 guesses
d) Black: 5 guesses
e) White: 0 guesses

What does that mean? Well, you can see about how many people play the SOCK every day now, for sure, but the most popular response was d) Black, for 100 points! I would have guessed blue, myself... shows you how much I know.

Remember that if you feel like cooking any up, you can send in your own questions to receive double their value in points! I'm always accepting submissions. :)

Question #109:
To travel through a pool of boiling water, what is your best strategy? (95 points)

a) Utilizing the power of chipmunks.
b) Donning rocket jetpacks and going over, instead!
c) Stirring in some kitty litter.
d) Your martial arts skills might come in handy...
e) Using some sort of lettuce, of course.

Question #110:
Ask MagRowan!-->Which RPG character sings the lines "again today/a man with sad eyes/deep in the forest"? (85 points)

a) Celes Chere
b) Yuna
c) Owl Jornan
d) Sumner
e) Linda

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!)


And with that, I say "No more! No more!" so that I may bring you yet another column tomorrow. I'll have the pleasure of writing another intro, too, so stay tuned for what happens when yours truly starts running super-thin on ideas.

Keep on writing in until then! Whether you've got your own topic, or you want to add to the ongoing discussions, feel free!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt's back is aching, for some reason...


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