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ASK MATT
Shining Tears March 28, 2006

Matt Demers - 23:39 EST

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY in ten years' time that a key member of my family hasn't slept in his bed back at my mom and dad's place in Chatham-Kent. He was put down yesterday afternoon after the vet said there wasn't a whole lot that could be done. He was an unwavering friend for half of my life, so like it or not, he deserves a spot here, too. Zacky, forever my puppy... this column is dedicated to you. Thanks for being such a wonderful pal. :(

*sigh*

Sorry for the sombre opening; it had to be done. I imagine it'll be sombre at the end, too, when the evil Xlash uses his Warp Stone for nefarious purposes, inevitably causing someone's SOCK score to plummet; you'll see more in a few minutes. I can only ask myself one question: "What have I started?" Just remember that if YOU end up as the most unfortunate target, it's alllll in good fun (plus, you'll have your share of chances to get back).

OK! To the lettermobile!





L E T T E R S
A sad theme... need a good sad theme. Aha, insert "People Seized with Life" from Chrono Cross here...


I feel your pain. My dear cat Blinky recently got hit by a truck (tanker/log they both travel to far). The pure unadulterated love that came out of his eyes would brighten up my worse day. Sigh i'l continue later.

Bainick


Matt

I guess you got the news early from my depressing Livejournal entry, huh? Yeah, I can only hope that Blinky and Zack are both off in pet heaven somewhere, going for rides and stretching out in the sun all day long. I'm sorry to hear about your loss, Bainick.

But, enough with this morose column right now; I must think happy thoughts, and this is a column that is supposed to be RPG-oriented, so dammit, I'm gonna answer some RPG-related questions, starting with the next one.

Thanks for writing in, though. Sure, it's not uncommon for pets to bite the bullet, but it doesn't make it an easy thing to deal with!

*Matt cries ruby teardrops!*



Sweet Sweet Suikoden


Hi. Hi. ... hi!

I'm one of those people that enjoyed Suikoden III, but didn't really feel as though it was a Suikoden game. The battle engine was too different, your "castle" was a freakin' house and the story didn't have the feel of the first two games. Suikoden IV was, lets face it, a complete joke (castle boat... what the...?). And because I am such a huge fan of the original two Suikoden games, I can say with great pride that I own Suikoden V and as far as I'm concerned, this is the game that Suikoden III should have been. I've played over 40 hours since I got it Wednesday evening and all I can say is they nailed the "Suikoden feel" of the first two games. It is admittedly slow to start, but around the 10 hour mark the game takes off and never lets up from that point on. I have an unopened copy of Elder Scrolls 4 sitting on my desk, and despite the incredible reviews of that game, it's going to have to wait, because SUIKODEN IS BACK and I'm not playing anything else until I've conquered it (it's fairly lengthy too I might add, after 40 hours without a guide I have 60/108 stars of destiny... Gonna new game+ through it with a guide after I beat it too if I don't find all 108 in my first game).

-Ari Margo


Matt

Ari, my friend, you're definitely not the only person who feels that way about the two most recent entries into the Suikoden series (not including Suikoden Tactics, of course). A lot of people agree with you that while the games were fun, they just weren't the same as the good old days of the first two. Of course, there were the people that just hated them altogether, and the relative few that absolutely loved them anyway, as was evidenced a couple of months ago when I plead for Suikoden IV-lovers to step forward and defend their opinions. Anyone remember that?

At any rate, it's great to see that Suikoden V seems promising to this point! I've heard much the same from a couple of other people, so perhaps Konami's back on its metaphorical feet!



Where'd the other two-thirds of S-E's promise go...?


Dear Matt[hew]

This is the second time I've ever sent a letter, but I was so happy and honored by your respose to my first a few days ago that I decided to have at it again.

Matt

Jeez! Not a big deal at all; I'm honoured and happy that you'd write to me! Also, unlike certain Andrews, I'm not terribly particular about my name; you can call me just about anything you please, though I'll assume that everything in the inbox to "Tiptail" isn't addressed to me. Fair enough?

Some time ago Square announced that all three of three SNES Final Fantasy games would hit the GBA in special slightly-remastered editions. IV was last December, and the next two have tentative release dates of "2006". Now, what sort of new content do you think they'll have available for these versions, and what content would you want to see? I figure that new equipment and dungeons are inevitable, and said new dungeons will probably be placed in out-of-the-way locations in the third world and world or ruin (for V and VI respectively), but what manner of dungeons? Will the new dungeon(s) be character-driven affairs or just marathon crawling and hacking sessions? Will FF V's new equipment actually be character-specific (as there is virtually no character-unique equipment in the game)? Will FF VI have tasks for each character like the Lunar Ruins in FF IV Advance? Will they **** up the ATB like they did for FF IV Advance? This has been something of a hot topic over the past few months of my favorite gaming forum, which is incidentally dedicated to oldschool FF games.

Matt

One of my current biggest unanswered questions in the RPG world right now is exactly that: "What's goin' on with those remakes, Square Enix?"

I was a little bit taken aback that they announced all three for the Game Boy Advance originally, considering the newer, more "hip" options available, but I almost suspect that they did it just in case the NDS didn't end up catch fire (as it seemingly has, with games like Mariokart and Metroid Prime). To invalidly speculate even FURTHER, a part of me wonders if they're reconsidering their FFV and VI ports to the GBA altogether, with the intent of putting them on another system; presumably, the DS. Of course, NONE of this is based on any actual announcement or fact at all; I just find it a trifle suspicious that we haven't heard a thing about FFV or VI yet, considering that they're both slated for release in the relative short-term.

In the ports, I would hope that they might do what they did for FFIV, giving the games fresh and well-done translations while preserving the feel of the original storyline. I would hope, of course, that a few little extras be thrown in here and there; I'd expect an extra dungeon, and some new weapons, armour, items, etc... but maybe a couple of new jobs (V) and/or espers (VI)? That'd be fun.

Only Square knows what's up, I suppose. What I'd really like to see is more of the same things that IV Advance gave us, I guess, but without the messed-up ATB and better a FF V translation than the Anthology version (the experience tables for FF V could use some work too, I guess). Still, no matter how they turn out I'll probably get each of them, as I really enjoyed FF IV Advance and count FF VI among my favorite games of all time (I like IV and V a lot too, but VI is the real masterpiece). So, what's your take? What do you want to see and what do you think we'll actually see?

~Lazzie


Matt

Heh, I s'pose that I voiced most of this above, when I so RUDELY interrupted. By the end of both FFV and FFVI, your characters still have a ton of room to grow and improve, so there is a lot of potential for extra material in the form of bonus dungeons, special bosses, and the like.

I think that the "messed up ATB" system of FFIV's remake was just a result of putting a graphical spin on the original ATB system. I don't think it works any differently than it used to, but now that the player is actually able to see little gauges filling up, it's very easy to get bothered when turn-order doesn't seem to line up perfectly all the time. I suspect that all of this was just buried in the original, much like the horrible skeletons I keep hidden in my closet. They're only disturbing once they pop out and scream "BOOGLEDY-BOO" into your unsuspecting face!



More lofty promises from the big N.


Hi Matt!

What do you think of Nintendo's new agreement with Sega and Hudson to provide Genesis and TurboGrafx 16 games for Revolution? Do you think there's a chance of us getting any quality old RPGs? I missed out on all of the Phantasy Stars, and since it looks like we're never going to get that Phantasy I,II, and IV collection for PS2 that I remember reading about a long time back, I'd love to see them come available for Revolution. It is an interesting situation.

BigWook


Matt

I'd like to come right out and say "Yeah, sure! It's gonna rock and we'll be playing in old-school bliss forevermore!!" I can't, though, and the reason for that is that Nintendo is being so damned tight-lipped about this whole deal. I'm starting to get a little bit irked about it, because it's been nearly an entire year now since they made the huge awesome claim about the ability to download and play old games. Obviously, it's easy to say, but maybe not quite so easy to follow through. I would hope that from that announcement, the possibility would be there. The original Phantasy Star games, the original Shining Force games; they're all at stake here! It would be very disappointing and most unfortunate (hear ye, all Nintendo watchdogs) to have those hopes squelched.



Handheld versus handheld... fight!


Hey,

Ok, I've read in other columns where you've stated repeatedly that the Nintendo DS has more rpgs than the PSP. While I don't dispute your claim, I'm have a hard time finding the games to which you are referring. I see an extensive list of upcoming games for the DS and a shorter list for the PSP but virtually none of these games have a US-release date. I looked all over the site but couldn't find anywhere with a list of all the rpgs released for a specific console. So, please tell me: what are the RPGs on the DS that make it more enjoyable than the PSP? I'm going to buy one or the other soon and am in need of clarification.

cap


Matt

A fair enough question, sir. Firstly, as of right now, there aren't REALLY that many more RPGs out for the DS than there are for the PSP. From just about everything I've heard, though, most of the PSP's RPG titles suck miserably, to put it bluntly. The NDS has been hit or miss; between a Castlevania game (I argue "shouldn't really be classed as an RPG"), a reportedly terrible addition to the Lunar Series, and a nothing-to-write-home-about Mario & Luigi game, the pickings have been slim, RPG-wise. It's the promise that I'm excited about; while the PSP has a Valkyrie Profile remake in the works, the NDS has an interesting-looking version of Xenosaga I+II on the way, a sequel in the Mana series, Final Fantasy III, a new Zelda game, and an entire already-built-up library of GBA RPGs to fall back upon in the case that none of those interest you. Add Mariokart, Metroid Prime Hunters, and the prospective New Super Mario Brothers to the mix, and to me, there's just no contest in comparison to the PSP's 331,000 racing games that all look the same, and plethora of other sports titles that no one really cares about. Yes, I overgeneralize a tad. But JUST a tad.



Final Fantasy VII might be confusing, but how about FFX?


Hey I recently found your website and I know about the whole "Tidus being a dream" thing but I don't understand it....like if the whole Fayth is dreaming then how did Tidus get to the non-dreaming world and how does he survive there?? Was he ever really alive or was he just "created" by the Fayth? I was wondering if you could give me a good explanation on it because i know in X-2 if you do something specifically you can get Tidus back somehow and the ending credits of Final Fantasy confuse me...please could you give me a reply? I'm really confused


Matt

First of all, welcome to RPGamer! You should check out some of our fun sections; there's a lot of neat stuff to see here, like our Fanart, Fanfics, Sound Test, and Saving Throw sections, not to mention the news we bring you day after day. Take a looksee if you're feeling so inclined!

As for your question, it's been a little while since I've actually played that game (i.e. four years or thereabouts) but as far as I can remember it, Tidus was a celebrity in Blitzball 1,000 years before Yuna and the gang came along, so he did indeed exist at one point. I don't remember the intracacies of the plot, I must admit, and while I could try and fall back on foggy memories, you'd do much better to do a Google search or have some other people around here help you out. There are a lot of knowledgeable folks around these parts, I'll have you know!



One, two, three, four: FOUR Peppermint Extra gum wrappers on my desk. Time to clean...


Hi Matt,

I've been reading the Q&A column for quite awhile, and finally overcame my profound lethargy just enough to write in. What can I say - the temptation to get a job after college graduation just falls away when I'm presented with the plethora of old games awaiting my responsive controller. Although I must mention for the record my law student ambitions in case the lethargy overwhelmes my miniscule ambitions....

Matt

Heh, tell me about it. If I put as much energy into my schoolwork as I did into this Q&A column, believe me when I say that I'd be doing one *hell* of a lot better. The way I see it, though, it's not worth going through life without doing the things that you like to do. Depriving yourself of playing games at all is unhealthy, I think, even in the name of work that needs to be done; essays that need to be written; assignments that need to be prepared. If you can't do the things that make you most happy, then what is the point of doing the work in the first place? Of course, moderation is key; not doing ANY work at all is not exactly a viable strategy (or at least, last time I tried).

Anyway. This massive Final Fantasy VII discussion is mildly interesting to me, but no more. I am one of the few, the proud, the crazy. I never played it. In fact it was quite easy to never play Final Fantasy VII when I have never owned a Playstation (I did borrow one from a bank co-worker two years ago, just long enough to play Final Fantasy IX - which I enjoyed greatly). I eschewed the typical route of RPG initiation by playing Super Mario RPG at age 18 on a Super Nintendo purchased off eBay. eBay is still such an evil temptress to this day.... So whatever happens with FFVII, I have no stake in the outcome. And I'd like to add that the Roman numerals should stay with the series! Let people learn a little something, such as how to read the dates at the end of movies! I know Final Fantasy won't reach installment MMVI until long after everyone alive on Earth today is dead, but the people it does reach will have to know their Roman numerals!

Matt

I must say that while you're not unique, you're close to it, though I'm sure you kinda picked that up. Final Fantasy VII is a huge name in video games; perhaps it's sad that it overshadows other games sometimes, or that as player of RPGs, you're almost expected to have played it through seven times. All that aside, it IS a great game, so you should give it a spin if you ever get the opportunity to.

At the current rate of Final Fantasy releases, we could expect Final Fantasy MMVI to be released sometime in the Fall/Winter of 7991, if Square Enix continues its RPG reign-of-terror for another six thousand years. It's kind of sad to think that RPG companies or RPGs will ever go completely out of existence, but just imagine what the world might be like that far in the future. If I have one regret in life, it's that I won't get to see what happens at the end of the story of human society; dying will be like Wild Arms: Alter Code F breaking down in mid-quest, never to work again; the rest remains a mystery forevermore. :( I assume, of course, that the real-life story will be a looot more interesting, though!

*sighs wistfully*

You mention Dragon Quests 5 and 6 quite casually. I infer from these mentions that you have in fact played them, which would require either the ability to wade through the Super Famicom versions or ROMs, which of course are illegal unless one possesses an original copy. The subject of remakes poses the question in my head which I redirect onto the computer screen - what of remakes for games that were never released in the US? Pardon my minor indulgence as I go through a list of Super Famicom titles that were ignored for English-language distribution now. Seiken Densetsu 3, which I actually did play through (Angela as first party member) in Japanese without knowing a bit of the language - only to find the translated ROM! And since I own the cartridges of all the titles I mention the ROM mentions are perfectly legal. Bahamut Lagoon, which was rather too complicated to play in Japanese but which I will return to one day; the original Star Ocean with its amazing amount of voicework for a SNES title; Treasure Hunter G, the last title Square released on a Nintendo system for a good 8 years; Der Langrisser, representative of the sadly confined-to-Japan Langrisser series; the original Front Mission. Even the Sailor Moon RPG. Yes, I proclaim it: I played the entirety of the Sailor Moon: Another Story game out in Japanese and enjoyed it far more than any anime game released at the time would lead me to expect. Should games like these, and more such as Dark Half, FEDA, Madara 2, and LiveALive be forever confined to Japan?

Matt

A convert! A convert!!! A convert is what I be!

Yes, this topic seems to resurface from time to time, but I won't lie; I dabbled in the forbidden land of Japanese ROMs for a chapter of my history, and yeah, I even went as far as to learn some of the characters. It was just so alluring, and Dragon Quest was something that I was severely lacking (and craving) by the late 1990s. I assert, as always, that ROMs and stuff are bad, and it wasn't long after I discovered their badness that I stopped using them; besides, there have been many exciting new titles (including two Dragon Quests!) released in North America in the past five years to keep us busy.

To answer your question, I'm absolutely all for remakes of previously-untranslated games in North America, which is why I was jumping for joy upon the announcement of Final Fantasy Origins, and exactly why I'm so incredibly ga-ga over the idea of a Final Fantasy III remake for Nintendo's sweet DS. Beyond Final Fantasy, there are a number of others, too, including the ones you've mentioned. What about the original Mother, popularly "Earthbound Zero" to the emu-savvy? I'd really like to see what that game was like, and I didn't even get to experience it during my so-called Dark Age of not-so-legal (and very bad!) RPGaming.

All the games I mention above were played, at least for a little while, before I knew any Japanese whatsoever. Then I got a Saturn (cursed eBay lured me into it again) and found another system with too many games left in Japan. I'm irritated that everything Sakura Taisen related has been brought to the US except for the games that started it all - urgh. But I actually learned Katakana in order to deal with Shining Force III. The story of what happened to what became my favorite game should be told somewhere on RPGamer, so I won't go into it unless pressed. Suffice it to say that anyone who worked at Sega of America during this incident and had the power to change it - but did not - has earned my everlasting enmity. The word 'tragedy' has been perverted from its original meaning so much in the modern English language that I feel no remorse in labeling the treatment of Shining Force III's English localization a tragedy of titanically traumatic proportions. Do you hear me, Sega?! I will never forgive!!

I actually restrained myself a bit there... but thank you for reading my hopefully unboring prose, and may the Q&A column continue to be administered well.

Mike


Matt

Bleah. I'm sorry to hear about your tragic story, but I think that as RPGamers, we're all fairly accustomed to periodic torture and disappointment. One of my biggest letdowns was when Dragon Warrior VI dropped from the Coming Soon" list in Nintendo Power magazine. I was checking at the video store every single week to see if somehow it had come in, and every week I was met with a blank stare and a "Sorry, kid."

Other big disappointments: Earthbound 64, obviously. Dragon Warrior VII's forever-delays. Zelda: Twilight Princess' similar delays. Final Fantasy VII bad PC port and VIII's horrendous one. The list goes on and on!

Maybe one day, Sega will surprise you and redeem itself for its past. They seem to be really buddy-buddy with Nintendo, now... maybe such a relationship holds a glimmer of hope for you? One can only hope.



No delerium has ever been so final!


Hey matt. Sup?

153-C.

154-D

Anyways, bout time for an actual querie. What techniques do you, or others, apply to be able to actually have time to play rpgs? Between working shift work, girlfriend, friends, sport, eating, cleaning, etc, there is like NO time for me to play at all, except for when it's really late nite shift and I've got my GBA Micro out and I'm playing FFTA. I know everyone says that it's important to put aside time, but I just donít have enough time to put aside for a fifty hour investment!

On a side note, I'd prefer to see a remake to FFVI to FFVII. Better story, more likeable characters. Nuff said.

FinalDelerium


Matt

Yeah, life sucks, doesn't it?? Being involved in everything often means little time for your favourite hobbies, whether they consist of RPGaming, stamp collecting, exotic gardening, or Szechuan cuisine. I know for sure that between class, RPGamer, research, tutoring, marking tests, and an attempt at a social life, I don't get a whole lot of extra time either.

I find it often helpful to keep a strictish schedule; for example, no matter WHAT, I always set aside an hour from every day to go to the gym, no matter how busy I am, because I end up feeling better as a result of it. "Force-fitting" extra things into your schedule let you work in extras around them, and if you gave yourself some regular time to play an RPG a few times a week, I think that you could make things work. Oh, to be ten again~



Imagine if we counted in Octal: We'd be waiting for FF14 right now!


Hey Matt,

In a perfect world FFXI would have been Final Fantasy Online(FFO) and the next game coming out would XI. To me the use of numbers was how I seperated what I consider the 'core' franchise games apart from spin-off series like Tactics, Crystal Chronicles and Online. If that had happened, of course, I might actually be opposed to changing from numerals to subtitles in the future. I like the look of the numerals and they tend to take up less space than subtitles and really whatever the subs end up being they will end up abbreviated someway. I would probably spend as much time deciphering abbreviated subtitles as I would converting numerals. I have my dyslexic moments like everyone else does. How often have you mixed up IX with XI?

Matt

Definitely, definitely agreed with you on that one. The day that I brought up rpgamer.com to discover that Final Fantasy XI was going to be a MMORPG was an incredibly sad one for me. Sure, it might have been great, but to me, Final Fantasy just can't achieve the right character development and depth-of-plot in an online game; add that in to the "bleah" change of battle system, and you've got one unhappy Q&A host. It was enough of a departure that I agree; it should have been subtitled "Online" or "Worlds" or something similar. Ah well.

I've never really had too many problems with Roman Numerals myself, but I sure get "normal" numbers mixed up from time to time. Really, it's sad, especially coming from a graduate student in mathematics.

I think naming their online game XI was the first nail in the coffin of the numeral system. What I see happening will be a slow transition from pure numerals like we have now to numerals+sub like Xenosaga to pure subtitles like Shadow Hearts and by the time we reach that point we probably won't even realize the numerals are gone. Of course if I am still an active gamer at that time I will keep track of what numerals they should be and probably even call them by such.

Xlash the dwarf berserker


Matt

I wouldn't be surprised if that was the strategy, either. I said it last week, but I bet that's what they've started with Dragon Quest's latest installment; I figure that the numbering can't really go on forever, anyway, if only because "Final Fantasy Twenty-Two" sounds kinda weird. So, while I was a bit opposed to it the first time I thought about it, I really don't care one way or the other. It IS just a title, after all, and one would hope that the content of any game would be primarily judged by its quality and not its name.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

So yeah, for those of you that didn't catch it, Wild Arms: Alter Code F has STOPPED WORKING for me altogether. My PS2 won't even recognize the disc anymore, which is truly saddening, since I've spent almost 40 hours on the damn game, and it wasn't even that great to begin with. The silver lining on the cloud: I get to start Radiata Stories or Riviera sometime in the next week! I'll test WA on my bro's PS2 next week to see if it really has kicked the bucket; this would be yet another reason why cartridges will always and forever be vastly superior to CDs/DVDs. NO ARGUMENTS AGAINST THIS ALLOWED, unless it means I'll get a letter out of 'em!

Flashay!


First things first: After spending 5,000 points on a Guest Host position for sometime later this week, Xlash, now temporarily in 34th position, is already calling upon the power of the Warp Stone to make a frantic grab to get back into power. Poor Bainick stands to lose almost 5,000 points! Who will be the unlucky recipient out of the Top 25?? The few of you on IRC's #rpgamer channel saw firsthand, but #19 was the number, and Xlash switches places with Bucket, who previously had 556 points. Luckily for Bucket, the 400 points is only really a day's worth of questions, so it won't take long to catch up!

Okay; now for the answers from last time. #153 was Kanato's ridiculous anagrammed cypher-of-sorts; if you managed to piece it all together, you'd find that while he did have letters posted in the columns listed there, he actually submitted one earlier, in one entitled "Defeated", a column dating from way back in July 2005. The answer was thus e), for 220 points. #154 was Bainick's question; his last name shall be known to all as a result, and sir, RPGamer thanks you for your generosity. His last name is d) de Leeuw. If you guessed it correctly, you get 175 points. If your nickname is "Bainick", you get 350. Sweet deal, no? Thanks for the submission!

Question #155:
In loving memory--> Zack was a blend of which two dog breeds? (250 points)

a) Labrador Retriever and Golden Lab
b) Labrador Retriever and Chow
c) Golden Lab and Chow
d) Chow and Husky
e) Golden Lab and Husky

Question #156:
Ask BigWook!-->Which of the following phrases does the announcer in Morrie's Monster Pit NOT say? (165 points)

a) It's a fight so tight, even Lady Luck don't know what to write!
b) They'll slash and they'll smash, until someone ends up in the trash!
c) It's a glorious contest of havoc and hostility!
d) It's a campain of pain that'll fry your brain!
e) Down into the pit they go! Which side wins, nobody knows!


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*********************************************************


That's all I have to kick off this week, but we explored some interesting issues in today's column. Specifically, I'd like to hear what some of your biggest RPG disappointments ever have been. Is there something out there that was a bigger letdown than the cancellation of Earthbound 64 that I've missed? Let me know! Just send a letter, and you might get featured on a Q&A someday!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt has a *lot* of work to do.


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