March 14, 2006
Matt Demers - 16:01 EST
I told you there'd be a new host, and that her name would be Tiptail. I wasn't lying!! She
also did an utterly fine job, if I do say so myself (and I do).
You'll get more of her next weekend! For now, you're in the quasi-evil clutches of me, and you're not going anywhere,
unless of course you foolishly decide to click "Back" right now. If you did that, though, it would leave me very
sad, and that would not be fun for all, now would it?
Anyway, let's answer some of your latest questions, and question some of your latest answers, and do the
discussion thing that we always do.
Matt & Mag: Hitting Nails on the Head for months!
I think you and MagRowan nailed the issue of females in video games on the head (although where was Rexy hiding
on that letter?). The majority of people playing games are male, and more importantly, the majority of developers
and programmers are male. Thus, you end up with a main character that they "understand." It's easier to write
about what you know, and easier to identify with what you know.
Indeedy. What is the solution, then? Naturally, we need more women to be video game designers, that's what!
I'd love to do my part, but I can't really contribute, seeing as I'm not really female at all; at least, I wasn't
last time I checked.
Also, usually when people co-host, I forward them a number of letters to provide answers for, and then they
e-mail me back with what they want to say. Mag's just wasn't one of them, I guess!
However, in many of the best games, there is a strong female influence that drives the story, even if they are not
the main character. In the Lunar series, both games (I refuse to acknowledge Dragon Song) have a female character
who is critical to the plot, and without whom the plot wouldn't exist. In FFX, as much as it is "Tidus' story",
the plot revolves around Yuna's journey. In the Shadow Hearts games (particularly the first one), even though
Yuri is the lead, the main female character has as much influence on the plot. And in FFVI, while there are an
assortment of characters who combine to drive the main plot, it is Terra's who probably has the most impact.
Yep yep, and there are a number of other examples, too. It's true, of course, that the
same thing applies to many male characters, too. What I'd personally love to see is a really GOOD female villain.
There aren't a huge number of games out there with one of those, and Ultimecia just doesn't kount bekause she's not
nearly as well-developed as, say, Kefka or Sephiroth.
Speaking of FFVI, I'm not sure why everyone is so desperate to pull a main character out of FFVI. Part of
the beauty of that game is the balance between different plot threads, rather than focusing on one or two
people and throwing in bits of plot development for the supporting characters here and there. Heck, it even
literally splits into three parts at one point! At very few points in the game are you required to have one
person in your party for an extended period of time, unlike other games where the "hero" can't even be removed.
Hear hear!! I'm behind you 100% on that one. There are many main characterS in that game, and together,
they weave a wonderful and intricate tale. Why pick it apart just to be able to point the finger at a single
Finally, back to the female characters bit, I have to disagree with you about Jessica in DQVIII, Matt. While
she has an excellent voice actress and the character is well developed, there was a lot of her design that was
eye candy. Most of her armours later in the game were skimpy little "Look at me!" outfits. Sure, she wasn't
just "Look, boobs!", as you put it, but that was a big part of it.
Trying to remember how to turn on his windshield wipers after Phoenix's first rain in 143 days.
Heh, yeah, and I thought about that a bit more. I guess I was more impressed with the fact that they didn't make
Jessica a stupid, ditzy character; however, the fact that there are SEVERAL in-game references to her bosom, and the
fact that she has a great many scandalous outfits does point to the fact that perhaps it was a big part of
her character (unfortunately, maybe). Va va voom indeed.
Evil MMORPGs, and Dungeons & Dragons games that are based on Dungeons & Dragons...wow!
In response to your last statement, there just isn't that many RPG's on the
computer that aren't based on D & D. (Baulders Gate, Pools of Radience,
Neverwinter Knights, Icewind Dales, Planescape Torment(Another reality)) And
those that are, are based off dungeons and dragons (Arcanum if it ever works
for my computer). With the others needing computer like system (Morrowind)
just to play it. These are single player RPG's, not those evil MMORPG's. I
don't even know what MMO stands for. That's it, i'm so angry. I'm so angry
that I have to go o the Angry Dome!!!
Bainick can't get the Dummi Bear song out of his head, which brings back
memories of a worse kind of bear. (Not Humphery but that comes a close
second, and bot Pooh because I actually like that bear. Okay its Care Bears,
They truly are evil. Oh yeah Angry Dome.
Bainick, you are one crazy man.
Also, while MMORPGs don't really make me angry, they certainly aren't my cup of tea. They do
really irritate me sometimes, though, like today, when my sister sent me this lovely screenshot:
Ridiculous, no? For those of you that can't read, it's an error message on Guild Wars my sister encountered not
long ago that states that the entire
game will be rolled back to an earlier state, due to some unintentional errors on their end. It's stuff like this
that sets me off. You don't have to deal with any issues like this when
you play a console RPG, and you don't have to pay some absolutely preposterous monthly fee in order
to have any fun with the game you already purchased. Ugh, disgusting; now that notion just sets me off!
Changing the subject, I actually used to watch Care Bears alongside my sister when I was young'un. I really
liked Grumpy Bear, but mostly for the cool rain cloud on his tummy. Also, to anyone begrudging the change-in-width
for this little table in the column, I say "screw you", because if the pic was any smaller, you wouldn't be able
to read the message. Nyah!
A mishmash of current topics.
As for women in video games, what about Samus Aran, the heroine of the metroid series, one woman taking
on a whole planet of evilness. I was quite shocked when I realized that while playing the original game. or Alex
Roivas from Eternal Darkness(one of the few really good games for the gamecube). She might not me the only main
character in the game but close enough I suppose.
Oh YEAH! Talk about a silly thing to overlook... Metroid is one of my favourite non-RPG series! What an embarrassing
oversight. Great example, because she could kick the asses of most male RPG heroes I know from here well into next
week, that's for sure.
On another note, I remember when video games were almost more educational than school. I'm sure that I learned
more things playing games than I did in 12 years of school. RPG's teach many things reading, mostly back before
voice acting, mathematics, playing Dragon Warrior after a couple fights with a monster I'd know how many rounds
it woul d take to win a fight and how many fights before I'd level up. Also, geography, mythology, science and
most importantly morals, good versus evil, helping the helpless, and doing the right thing.
For sure, school is essential for kids and there are many things that they learn there that are essential for
growth, such as social skills, formal training in math, english, etc... but you're right, RPGs especially are
almost an auxiliary learning tool sometimes. The logic and puzzle solving skills develop a different set of abilities
in young people than they can learn in most other places, I think. I'd argue that RPG-playing kids grow up to be
more creative people in the end, and perhaps with sharper problem-solving (and maybe even writing?!) skills in
on the topic of violence in games and censorship and all that BS. There is a rating system, but it does do any
good when an 80 year old who knows nothing about modern technology buys her 10 year old grandson grand theft
auto for his birthday because he wants it (true story). It's not the industries fault it's the parents who don't
pay attention to their kids. An adult who wants to run the streets running over pedestrians in a game to vent
frustration why not? and even if young "impressionable" minds do play these violent games, it doesn't effect
them like the media and government officials say. a preteen child can tell the difference between right and
wrong, and fantasy from reality. so you can't go blaming the problems with today's youth on video games.
off to play modded doom and blow up my co-workers,
The J man
Agreed; ratings systems do little when people don't understand the games in the first place. That's one
reason why I'm not really against the current initiative being taken by certain stores; I know that at EB games
in Guelph, the people at the counter have to tell game-buying parents what kinds of things are in games that are
rated M before they make their purchases. I've seen more than one emotional battle between mom and son at the cash
register, and they almost always happen while I'm waiting patiently behind them in line. Curses!
See no saga? Yeah, I know that one's a bit of a stretch.
I can't seem to find out all that much info on Xenosaga III. I was wondering if any of you have heard a peep about
if it's guaranteed to coming out in the USA??? and if there's any possible release date? Thanks
~*~*~Life is hard but we all hang onto it the same~*~*~
Xenosaga is under development even as you read this column, Miss Jessica! Information is slightly hit or miss,
but things are slowly coming together at Monolith Soft. You can see everything RPGamer has collected by following
this link here. Although nothing
official has been said about North American releases, I'd bet my bottom dollar that we'll see it on this side of
the Pacific. Release dates, while absent at this stage, are somewhat predictable sometimes... I'd conjecture that it'll be released in
Japan sometime this summer, and if that happens, an early-2007 or late-2006 North American release is certainly a
Anyway, I hope that little bit helps you out some; you're not the only one eagerly awaiting this game out there!
I'm interested to know how the saga turns out in the end, though it will be with a certain degree of sadness. Ends
of series are never happy times, especially if there's some goodness present within, wouldn't you agree?
Status Spells need a little love too!
Yesterday you agreed with someone who said status
spells are useless when compared with "mainstream"
Yes, "most of the time". There are some games that status spells tend to be more useful in than others,
for example, Dragon Warrior versus Final Fantasy. Other games are even worse; I haven't ever considered
using bad-status-inflicting spells in Xenosaga, most Breath of Fire games, and in lots of others, too. Not ALL the
time though. Anyway, continue with your letter, you.
I'd like to give a few examples to the contrary:
1. In FFVIII, if you wish to draw spells from
creatures it's really useful to stop them or put them
to sleep etc. Also, when fighting the T-Rex at the
beginning of the game, you don't have a strong enough
magic spell (or single attack) to kill it with one
hit. Casting blind on it makes practically all of its
attacks on you ineffectual. Lastly, the junction
system makes the spells incredibly useful (either by
stat-boosting or by adding a status ailment to your
attacks, like my all-time favorite - 100% death).
Yeah, I don't think I ever used the spell of Blind, not once, in FFVIII. I might have junctioned it to my Status Defense
a couple of times, but yeah, I dunno. My tendency is to use Sleep if I use anything at all, but perhaps Blind would
make more sense in this situation. Either way, a far more effective strategy to me is to junction Blind TO your weapon
so that you can inflict the bad status at the same time as attacking. Then, even if the spell doesn't work, you're
guaranteed to do something to the monster instead of uselessly wasting your turn. I actually love status-inflicting
weaponry... it's wonderful stuff.
2. In FFT, status spells are incredibly useful if you
want to level up or need to take time doing something
(such as searching for Deep Dungeon exits and
treasures). Also, the calculator can cast spells on
practically everyone on the playing field. Using
proper accessories you can make your characters immune
to sleep, or "don't act" or petrify or whatever, thus
allowing you to obliterate your enemies at your
leisure (as opposed to casting Holy with the calc. and
killing all enemies, as well as yourself). Also, think
about bards or dancers, who can instantly cast good or
bad status improvements (or ailments) on you or the
enemy, they rock too.
Sure, I'll agree with you on most of what you've said, except that using those spells to level up isn't really a
REAL reason to use them; it's just a way to spend your turn to get experience while drawing out the battle to gain more
next turn and in the turns beyond. Essentially, in this sense, status spells are most useful for "not killing monsters",
which seems fairly counter-productive. Bards and Dancers did rock my world in FFTactics, though.
3. In Radiata Stories, status ailments greatly improve
your strength in a game where magic isn't that
powerful. Having a character cast "freeze" on a bunch
of enemies is usually more useful than casting a lowly
I'll be able to respond to this one when I finally crack into the game itself (coming: VERY soon)! I just have
to breeze through Wild Arms: ACF, and then Radiata Stories is next on the list o' games requiring my attention.
4. Just think - in most games, to cast a powerful
black magic spell you need high magic attack. On the
other hand, you can haste anyone you want (which
doesn't require high magic attack) and give them
double attacks = more damage. Same deal with slowing
That's quite true, and it's a good point, though support spells like Haste/Protect/Shell/Regen (in the Final Fantasy
world) are always useful. When I talk about "status" spells, I'm mostly talking about the kind that inflicts negative
status on enemies 50% of the time, but only on the ones that aren't immune (i.e. 50% of the monsters in the first place).
This is exactly why Haste spells are infinitely more useful than Slow spells.
These are just some ways in which status magic kicks
ass. True, it's not the most direct approach to
killing enemies, but it has great benefits. I once
thought like you do but since then I found how, with a
bit or tactical thought and planning ahead, battles
can become a lot easier with status magic.
Surely, you raise some good points, and there are always special instances where status magic is especially useful.
I, for instance, found that enemies in both the Sylph cave and the cave to the Land of the Summoned Monsters in
Final Fantasy IV were made a lot more handleable by casting Mute, which many of them are fairly susceptible to.
Spells like Stop and Sleep can be useful as a last resort in case of an emergency, too; the problem is that usually,
the only monsters that are capable of causing such an emergency are exactly those that are bigger and badder,
and (gosh gee!) possess the immunities against spells like those anyway.
I think there are several examples of useful status-inflicting spells if you look outside the Final Fantasy series
in the right places. I remember casting Sleep, Stopspell, and Surround in early Dragon Quest games quite religiously.
Even in Dragon Quest VIII, the confusion and sleep spells often come in very handy when fighting huge battles.
I think it would help if in a game, there existed a character that was almost completely useless in every other respect
EXCEPT for that kind of magic. Then, you'd have no real choice *but* to utilize it, and hopefully, it'd be fairly useful.
For now, though, outside of exceptional circumstances, I'm just going to keep attack-attack-attacking to get the job done
efficiently, and save my MP for cheap cure magic and ridiculous damage spells.
I must say that I made a very large mistake this morning when I actually put stuff in my hair to try and style
it before leaving my house. With winter's rage back in town after the amazing warmth we received over the weekend,
much wind is also present. I realized the mistake as soon as I opened my door and heard nothing but a ridiculous,
blizzardlike, continuous ROAR. Predictably, my hair was a poofball by the time I got to the bus stop just across the
Also, on a random note, I've been craving french onion soup ever since Tip told her little horror story about her
own salty disappointment. That is one of my very favourite dishes ever, and the bowls are cute too.
Rexy's question was #137, and true to her British ways, it asked about Beatles songs and RPGs. The correct
answer, of course, was c) Yellow Submarine, just one of the things inside of Brick Road's ridiculous
giant walking Dungeon Man. 125 points for that one!
#138 was the first mathy one I've done in awhile, so don't be too mad at me; each number in the sequence
was generated by taking the number after it and subtracting the next number after THAT. You could look at
it the other way, also; every number is the term before it minus the term TWO before it. Of course, you'd need
the first few entries given in order to generate the sequence, but details, details. The answer was e) -4,
because -1 - 3 = -4. That is all, for 125 points.
As inflationary pressures increase, so do the consolation points! Thus, if you didn't get either of those questions
correct, you will receive 64 points (instead of 32) for your efforts. That's right, it's just because I'm such a nice
guy. Also, at the request of a couple of people, while I can't give you the full scorecard for the SOCK competition
(it contains e-mail addresses and such that people might not appreciate me giving away for free), I have decided to
expand the scoreboard to include the TOP FIFTEEN! Exciting, no?
Anyway, today's questions feature a crazy geography one from Bainick (he likes those) as well as another
random one from yours truly. I was going to do a question leading into
a recent message I got from a certain common writer-inner about colours of princessly attire. I decided it would
be too spiteful, though, and so I'll address that letter tomorrow in favour of a nicer problem for the lot of you
Ask Bainick!-->Which of these towns is not situated on the Apollobay-Colac road? (140 points)
a) Apollo Bay
c) Scenes Creek
A device for breathing underwater can be obtained in the original Final Fantasy. In the NES version, this
item's name could be obtained by smushing together which TWO of the following five famous
universities' names? (160 points)
Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):
800 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
2,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (2 remaining!)
5,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #3 (5 remaining!)
Okiedoke, folks. There will be more to read in Q&A-land tomorrow, and hopefully another guest host before
the week is out! My apologies for all of you who are patiently waiting to see your letters featured; I'm slowly
working through a bit of a backlog, which is nice for a change! For future columns, why don't we talk about some
fun topics related to the current ones? What are your favourite non-attack magic spells to cast in RPGs, Final
Fantasy or otherwise? Also, what is your opinion on Xenosaga and its upcoming Episode III?
I hope to hear from you soon!
***Matt bit his tongue twice in an hour's time earlier today...
Really hard, too... there is a welt on my tongue now that hurts like the DICKENS!
Mar. 12: Tip
Mar. 11: Matt
Mar. 9: Matt
Mar. 8: Matt
About the Host
Matt's Newest Unhealthy Addiction
Another Unhealthy Addiction
Matt's Top 3 Current Games:
1. Dragon Quest VIII
2. Mario Kart DS
3. Wild Arms: Alter Code F
Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Mother III
3. Disgaea II
6. Arros R.
7. Erika W.
15. Alan Tse