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The Joy of Socks March 30, 2006

Matt Demers - 02:47 EST

OH YEAH. Nothing is so sweet as knowing that there are few remaining academic responsibilities left to fulfill in any given semester. I stayed up until 7:30 "last night" working, and this afternoon, I got up and finished the damn assignments off. What does this mean? Freedom! Sweet, sweet, lovably lovely freedom. With freedom comes happiness, and that means that I'll be in a better mood today, perhaps. Let's get started!

Our first Kingdom Hearts II letter!

It surprised me in Kingdom Hearts 2 when you fight Setzer, so is this really and truly the Gambling Maniac we all know from Final Fantasy 6 or some Poser wearing his clothes. On the point of KH2 the music is gorgeous, though the opening theme didn't have the kind of beat the first game had.


Thanks for the first report! I was wondering whether or not to put this up, because I was worried about spoilers, but then I remembered that RPGamer had an actual news story that Setzer would appear in the game. I must admit that it's exciting to see someone pre-PSX have a cameo, because a) it gives FFVI, the best game of the FF series, some extra exposure, and b) Setzer is just cool.

I'm not really surprised that the music is really good, because if the original Kingdom Hearts had anything, it had a pretty sweet soundtrack. Does the rest of the game stack up, though? The verdict is out!

Don't you hate it when...?

The biggest RPG disappointments I can recall would likely be a tie between Breath of Fire III and Dragon Warrior VII, both in their entirety. Though I think ultimately BoF3 would probably edge out the win.


Ew, yeah. I could see those... but go on. I have this horrible tendency of interrupting people all the time, and then sometimes I end up accidentally prematurely answering questions that they ask later on in their letter. This leaves me scrambling for things to say at the end, plus, I'm too lazy to just cut and paste my answer from before to after. Thus, back to you! (...and sorry for interrupting.) :)

I remember being really excited about BoF3 when it came out, having loved the first two so much. But it turned out to be one of the only RPGs I've ever played that I never bothered to finish, even though I reached the final boss. Part of that was because my characters were way under-leveled; I didn't have the patience to fight any more random encounters for the meager experience they doled out. But another part of it was that I just didn't see the point.


Breath of Fire III definitely marked a step down from the previous two, I agree, though there DO exist some people that really like it a lot; I've witnessed proof first-hand. See, two times ago when I went into my local EB Games, I randomly ran into this guy who was asking at the counter about the Breath of Fire III remake for the PSP. Of course, since it doesn't look like it's being ported to North America (how surprising! 1 more point for you, PSP) I had to pipe up and put in my two cents. He looked disappointed, but appreciated the help, and after I told him that I worked for RPGamer, we randomly went to the back corner and chatted for fifteen minutes about this and that. Ah, life wouldn't be the same without the occasional random friend.

The only other RPGs I can ever remember playing in which there was absolutely no reason for the hero to reach his goal were non-linear suck-fests like SaGa Frontier and Legend of Mana, where maybe you DID have a reason to do whatever it was you were supposed to be doing; you just didn't necessarily know what it was.


Hee hee, I like you. That's pretty much exactly how I felt about Wild Arms: ACF, until it exploded on me last week. Considering the dire emergency the world was apparently in, you'd never know it because the party would just float on over from random place to random place and do random things randomly. It was starting to improve somewhat by the time it broke down, but it hardly matters now, does it?

(Actually, now that I think of it, Legend of Mana deserves a mention for sullying the name of one of my most beloved series with a plotless, shallow mess of a game; the kind where you can fight and beat the final boss and not even KNOW you were fighting the final boss until the credits start rolling.)


Now that would be annoying. See also: Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. I was rather irritated by the fact that the final boss was what it was. They could have made the ending so much better!

Anyway. Without resulting in any spoilers for a lame, 8 year old title; BoF3 is the only title I can recall in which it actually seemed like a BAD IDEA for the hero to succeed in his goal. Oddly enough, the game world would actually be worse off than when the hero started, should he defeat the final boss.

This is kind of how I felt about the Matrix, and the supposed goal of freeing a populace from unknowing enslavement by machines. In both cases I picture the would-be deliverers of the world, fresh from their epic battle, trying to explain to all these people how they're better off in their new-found predicament.

"Sure, I know before you were living a tolerable life in virtual reality," Keanu Reeves would say to the bewildered throngs, with his typical 'under heavy sedation' delivery, "and now you've got to struggle to survive in this ugly, probably smelly world, where all we have to eat is this pasty gruel with lumps floating in it. But at least you're experiencing the true world. Did I say 'I know kung-fu' yet?"


Mmhmm... living in a delusional fantasyland is definitely optimal to starving in an overpopulated underground city where the only options for attire-colour are grey, brown, greyish-brown, and barf. Plus, I bet there aren't orgasm-inducing desserts in the real world, either, like that one girl had in the restaurant during that quasi-patronizing lecture on basic philosophy. Mmm, Matrix. I should watch it again sometime soon...

It just seems to me that if you're playing a game through to completion - especially an RPG, with all those hours of fighting and skill-management (especially when your development method is as bad as BoF3's apprentice system, and combat is as slow, boring, and unrewarding as the typical BoF3 random encounters were) - you want to at LEAST think your character did all the courageous and well-meaning stuff he did for a REASON.

Add to that the terrible characters, inexplicable enemies and plot twists, and awful music, and what you have is a recipe for a broken TV's Adam heart. Oh, and an extended trek through a desert, navigating by the stars, with faulty information as your guide!


Such a collection of issues! If tomatoes were characters, cucumbers were enemies, bell peppers were plot twists, carrots were music, with a lettuce desert and zucchini stars, you'd have one enormous salad of badness!

And to make matters worse, BoF4...well...I barely remember anything about it, aside from being vaguely annoyed at how much it reminded me of BoF3. But at least I could stomach playing it to completion.


BoFIV was a game that I had to force myself to play a lot, but by the end, it was all right. It was a fairly bland game, with a flavourless battle system, mostly insipid music, taste-free graphics, and absolutely nothing that really truly made it stand out from the crowd. I do remember thinking that cat-boy was hot at one point, though.

Dragon Warrior VII I'll say less about: only that after such a long wait for a new DQ title on these shores, the over-long, dreadfully boring, ugly title we got failed in all the ways that DQ8 succeeded. Whereas DQ8 seamlessly blended the best of the old with the best of the new, DQ7 labored under the assumption that no characterization, needlessly hideous graphics, stingy character growth, and a lame story lacking in anything resembling motivation would end up being charmingly "retro". least, I think that's what they were aiming for.


Pretty much. I think that they could have done a lot more with it, but you can say that about almost any mediocre game. I have to admit that I did enjoy some parts of Dragon Warrior VII, but at the same time, I'm a sucker for DW games; regardless, it was definitely my least favourite of the series. Perhaps that helped make DQVIII even more fantastic in my eyes.

I think bad games just hurt way worse when they follow up really good games. SaGa Frontier 2 didn't make me sad by being lousy; I EXPECTED it to be lousy.

...though since you mentioned it, Earthbound 64 being cancelled was a pretty enormous downer too.

-TV's Adam


Heh heh, indeed. Thanks, Mr. TV's Adam, for writing in with the massive assortment of thoughts, as well as the delicious salad.

Yeah, I'm an evil evil plot-spoiler of evil... what can I say?

Dear Matt and company, ltd:

First off, my condolences about Zack. I know what it's like to lose a dear friend like that.

And....back to RPGs. Wow, lots of stuff to talk about huh? A lot of great new games flooding the market, like the new Shadow Hearts, Kingdom Hearts, Suikoden, etc. games. And I haven't touched a one yet! I'm going to be left so in the dust by this flood of titles. That always drives me nuts.


You and I both, Terr!! I've been debating back and forth which new RPGs to buy, and then, in the end, opting to get NONE of them to buy Super Princess Peach instead. I will be travelling to the video game store tomorrow afternoon, though, to spend my giftcard somehow; what should I DO with it?? Suikoden V? Is that a good place to get into the Suikoden series? Grandia III? But I've heard it has crappy music and a bleah story! Tales of Legendia? But from the sounds of it, if you don't like it, you despise it!! Tales of Phantasia? That might be more likely... but with Metroid Prime Hunters and Tetris DS out, and considering my current desire to buy something to connect my DS to the online world, that same non-RPG curse might bite yet again!! Argh.

A few topics to discuss.....about letdown RPGs. Well, someone already said jsut aout everything about Suikoden IV that I could, so I'll let it pass. But for another? Magna Carta: Tears of Blood. I've been a fan of their character design artist's unique style for a long time now, and I've been hyped for what was a top notch Korean title to finally come to the US. And then....what happened? The clunky party system (You control one player while everyone else literally just stands there), the poorly labeled Chi system (they should have color-coded it, or had little pictures on each icon instead of the first letter. Preferably both), and voice acting that was so....monotone! I keep trying to love the game for it's innovation and beauty, but I can't let go of the crippling flaws. Hopefully, the other releases Softmax is thinking about bringing over will heal my wounded heart.


Hopefully. Reportedly, Magna Carta is really nothing special at all; once you get over the gorgeousness of the graphics, there's little there to really enjoy, or so I've heard. ~Sean~~ with the extra tilde is playing through it right now, and he's got his fair share of issues with the game, that much is certain!

About FFX, and I'm -shocked- you let such a major plot spoiler through for the 3 people that haven't gotten that far yet, You basically have it right. Tidus did indeed exist in Zanarkand 1,000 years before he comes to Spira to fight Sin. Zanarkand and Bevelle have a terrible war, using machina and aeons against one another. Zanarkand is wiped off the map, and bred from the hate and pain of all the dead people of Zanarkand comes Sin. They make it vague at this point, but Auron goes back to Tidus' time as a Fayth to send Tidus into the future to help Yuna and stop Sin/Jecht, a dual promise to both Jecht and Braska.Once Sin is stopped, Tidus no longer has a place in that world, and thus returns to being a Fayth and dissipates like the rest of them. Of course, those who got the complete ending of FFX-2 know it's not quite over there. Feel free to lalala this one out if you have to.


I debated not responding because of the spoiler-risk, but then realized that if we're going to talk about games on here, there are going to be occasional spoilers. As long as they're kept to older games, I don't really mind, but what qualifies as "older"? FFX is just about five years old, now, and because of that, I'd say that most people who will ever play the game have played it already. Is five years not enough time? Should Q&A adopt a spoiler-policy? What are your thoughts on the matter, crowd? Let me know!

Anyway, thanks for your interpretation of the plots; I'm sure that nameless from yesterday will be most appreciative. :)

About FF remakes: Well, it's nothing new. No one can forget Square re-making FFs IV-VI for the Plasystation. While they were more ports then makeovers there were some small additions made. My feeling on this varies: it's great seeing classics like that made avaiable to a new generation of gamers, but all the same, it's almost an admission by Square that they've run out of material. And if they could who can blame them? Only sports titles and flagship characters like Mario have enjoyed the ongoing sequel-ness that Final Fantasy has. Personally, I wonder if that era's not drawing to a close, and this is Square's way of salvaging what's left. Or, if they're buying time to keep money rolling in while they think up FFXIII.


Truly; that last point is the one that's most accurate, I think. With games like Final Fantasy XII becoming ever-bigger, ever-more-complicated to program, and thus ever-longer to produce, they need games to fill up the cracks in order to create fiscal surpluses in "off" non-FF or DQ (in Japan) release years. I think it's worthwhile for them to explore new options, which they've done to an extent. Kingdom Hearts is, of course, the best example of a successful venture into this department. The day they abandon FF for KH entirely, though, is the day I officially eat my hat. Yum!

As for RPGs on portables..I thiink the answer is obviously DS having more then PSP. But that's mostly due to age...DS has been around quite a bit longer. Also, I think some software companies are reluctant to use a platform that's competing with the 800-lb gorilla that is the Nintendo Gameboy. Since the first one came out ages ago, they've dominated the portable gaming market, even against vastly superior platforms (in technical specs) like the Game Gear, TG-16 portable, NG pocket, etc. The fact that little black and white bit-box held out so long and so strong, and the overwhelming success of its descendants, makes people think twice before they invest in anyone standing against it.


True. I don't really agree with your point regarding the fact that DS has been around for longer; it was, after all, less than a year's difference, and besides, there were absolutely no DS games worth getting until the middle of this year. Well, not absolutely none, but very, very few; the RPGs are only starting to trickle in now. Nintendo's portables are high quality monsters with staying power, and while I initially had a few doubts about the DS, I am feeling more and more confident that it's going to do just fine.

Speaking of which you mentioned Riviera: TPL. Play it. Immediately. One of the best things I've seen on GBA that -didn't- have two Fs in it. Right up there with Golden Sun, who needs to make another game.


Ah, Golden Sun. A sparkly game, to be sure, with the best music to ever grace any portable console ever. Yes. Listen to the music with headphones on, and jeez... it's quite unbelievable. The game itself, for me, was just "okay"; I felt that it was slightly overrated, but not by much. I'm surprised they didn't make a sequel, though, since the ending really left a giant opening for one (or at least, I thought it did). Great music, though. And great music.

Oh and just this: If half the rumors about cross-platforming on Revolution are true, it may mark the first time I stand in a line at 2 am for a while day just to get a console. Nuff said.

I've said my peace. Bye for now!



Yes. We are all holding hands in a circle, quietly awaiting the day that we hear more about it. E3 is just over a month away, and I'm gonna blow a fuse if Nintendo decides to valiantly spew more hot air instead of showing some real promise.

Thanks for your piece! Talk to you later, sir.

Ugh, Heartbeat... you ripped my heart out.


I would guess my biggest disappointment in my RPG days would have to be the first Suikoden. I sorta went out of order and played III and II first (which are lovely games). I found the first one at a great price and immediately purchased it...and let's just say it was a huge (okay small) chore to get through.

First of all, I liked the old school graphics in it, so no judging me and calling me a graphics whore! Other than this, the battle system was blah (hit x in all battles...even bosses!), the music was blah-er (listening to the Kaku theme made me want to blow my brains out), the story was only good at the end, and the length was dismal (16 hours for me to get everything!). Basically, I was VERY unimpressed.

Thirty bucks down the drain...too bad I would have bought it anyway for collectors sake.


Hee hee, well, you know me well enough to know that I like ripping people's heads off (metaphorically) for being shallow, graphically-oriented, "oo pwetty pictures"-minded individuals. Graphics are nice, but there's more to a game than how it looks; if you disagree, then I recommend that you go and buy some art or something.

Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about your experience with Suikoden. I must admit that I have a similar sort of story to tell about Xenosaga: After playing through I and II, I felt so inspired to go out and buy the original to see how it tied into the story, but I found it tough to remain interested in the game, and with the rest of that dastardly life getting in the way, I never played more than the first few hours. At least you got through yours! Perhaps your experience just worked to make Suikoden II and III seem sweeter in the end.

Oh on another note, my other big disappointment involves a game that never got released; when I bought Dragon Warrior VII way back when I remember the instruction booklet having an ad for a remake of one of the older ones...I'm too lazy to go check, but I think it was IV or V. Anyway that's all for now.


HOW COULD I FORGET THIS!? Oh, boy, if I had been Q&A host back when Dragon Warrior IV's remake translation was cancelled, I would honestly have posted a column containing nothing but the word NOOOO..., but with the O's repeating for about 3 PageDowns. I was so excited about that, and it never came!! Dragon Quest V's remake looked even sweeter, and we didn't even get a tease of hope at all. Hopefully, DQVIII's success means that one day, we'll get to see either of these in some form, or perhaps even DQVI, which would just make my month, or even year.

More disappointments, and more, well, stuff in general.

Lord Wonderslime,

Have you ever been so engrossed in an RPG or other game for that matter that you started to think you were part of RPG yourself? I'm not talking about MMORPG, just things like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. Not that...I have or anything...I was just wondering about you. Yeah, that's right.


Heh heh... I can't really say that I have, no, even though I have been ridiculously engrossed in certain RPGs in the past-- I shall speak none of my random 300+ hour problem-addiction to Pokémon Ruby a few years back. HOWEVER, I love making RPGs out of my own family members and friends. I've told this story before, but a favourite pastime of my brother and I consists of assigning jobs or even stats to various people in my family. I recently drew some fun caricatures of my sister, Danielle, in a Red Mage outfit, in a kitty-ear Animal Trainer outfit, and in Ninja garb. When? During class, of course. There exists no better time for such doodlings, I tell you.

When it comes to big disappointments in RPGaming, I would have to say that mine was a blessing. It was back when FFVII was rumored to be coming to the N64, there was even a little render of FFVI characters in the N64 style. I bought an N64 with my hopes riding on the fact that the next FF game would be coming soon to a Nintendo console near me. Imagine my disappointment when I heard differently. It wasn't so much that FFVII was coming to the Playstation, but that I had wasted my money on the N64. Man, what a disappointing system that ended up being. Oh well, that's another story for another time.

- The Honorable Sir Macstorm


Ouch, yeah... you definitely put your eggs in the wrong basket that time, but I think that a lot of us did. I personally never took the PSX seriously until I realized that some of my favourite series were migrating to it; namely, Megaman X and Final Fantasy. I remember looking at the first screenshots of FFVII in a magazine when I was 12 or 13 and feeling this overwhelming sense of despair that "I'd never get to play it". Aw, kids are so cute!

But yes, the N64 was no home for an RPGamer, sadly. Quest 64 just didn't cut it; while Ogre Battle 64 was okay, and Paper Mario was downright fun, TWO RPGs is no contest against a system with dozens. Funny, that Nintendo's most anticipated console of history ended up as its undoing, in a sense.

Disappointing game deaths (as if it should normally NOT be disappointing).

yo mattie!

just a quick question really.

You ever been so attached to one of the characters in a game that dies, that when they did lose their life, you saw no reason to keep playing the game?

Although Auron didn't die until the very end, it still made a bit upset. He reminds me of Robert DeNiro actually...both are just too cool as well.




Nah. Most of the time, I find that killed-off characters, while significant to the plot, aren't really that likable. Sure, there's the exception in Final Fantasy VII, but looking at the rest of the series, the characters that die are more often just annoying and thus expendable. Tellah comes to mind; what kind of legendary sage doesn't even have enough MP to cast some of his spells? Useless old bag.

Outside the series, maybe I'm having a dull night, but I can't really think of many other games that feature the total killing-off of playable characters. Actually, wow, yeah, I can't think of any at all, but perhaps that's because I'm running on a complete lack of sleep. How strange.

Anyway, if I'm attached to a character and they die, it just makes the story all the more involving and great, to me, and it gets my own feelings worked up a bit; it makes ME, personally, want to go fight the big villain, which is a step up from simply watching your characters want to fight Mr.EvilWhoever from afar. Predictable storylines are boring, too; when a character dies, especially suddenly, it spices things up a bit. Is that a cruel thing to say?

Things that make you go "OOO!" like crazy-powerful final bosses.

Howdy Matt,

I was thinking about your comment that final bosses should be the toughest challenge in the game, and now I'm thinking back to games where that was actually the case. It's hard for me to remember the toughest battle in a lot of games, but I remember Ramses and Miang in Xenogears being a ridiculous challenge. Secret of Mana had a pretty significant upscale in difficulty toward the end as well, if I remember. Definitely BoF:Dragon Quarter...ummm, others too. Can you think of others? I guess we have to exclude optional bosses since that's not fair...even with that, though, most Final Fantasies' end boss was pretty much a pushover, right? Anyway...oh yeah, and people writing in slamming FFVII...yeah, it's talked about waaaaay too much, but it's still a really good game. It may not be the best ever, but you must not like too many RPGs if you say it was downright bad. That's my thought anyway. Adios,



Agreed. Final Fantasy VII is a game that just upped the standard so much for so many other games and series out there, and it couldn't have done it without being "special" somehow.

Anyway, to your meatier question, I have to say that RPGs make me very happy when there are big jumps in difficulty towards the end of the game. If you're going up against an ultimate evil, things should not be a walk in the park, as far as I'm concerned! The games fitting this criteria that I think of first are Star Ocean 2 and 3, which become ridiculous (at least, at the Hard level, which I played it on); Dragon Warrior games tend to get difficult near the end, too... notably, DWs II and VII. I found Breath of Fire II's Infinity to be remarkably, wonderfully, terribly hard as well. There are a few other games here and there that I could think of, too. It just makes me take an evil villain much more seriously when I'm actually afraid of evil villain's minions.

FFVI movie!? I only wish...


I'd have to agree with you on FFVII being the game that brought so many into the RPG fold. I've been gaming for almost twenty-years now, but there was no game to match the hype created when FFVII was released. Maybe it was a boost in advertising that helped spur it on. Who knows?


Yeah, I think that advertising had a little something to do with it; I remember watching TV one day back in 1997 and seeing a commercial for the game, featuring flashy FMVs and an overdramatic announcer. It sent chills down my spine with a mixture of excitement and dismay; excitement, because I wanted to play it so badly, and dismay, because, well, I wanted to play it so badly BUT had no Playstation on which to play it.

For me, it took one overnight rental of the original Final Fantasy to forever hook me on the RPG genre. I’ve enjoyed playing many titles over the years, but there has been none that have had an impact on me like FFVI. Why is that? Well, let me try to explain.

I believe that FFVI has the most coherent and thorough story of any RPG that I’ve played. The plot was very well laid out and executed, but there are still enough “holes” to allow the fanfic writers material to work with.

Almost every single character has sufficiently development throughout the game. Due to their varied jobs, abilities, and personalities, it’s easy to find one that you can kinda’ identify with.


Yes, I think that Final Fantasy VI goes down in many people's books as their favourite of the series for those very reasons. The thing, to me, about the characters, is that I actually liked them ALL! The game managed to get me to care about each and every character, and did it while constructing an incredible plot with an even more incredible villain, topping it off with a brand new skill system, great graphics for its time, and one of the best musical scores in the history of RPGs.

*runs out of breath and dies*

In the end, you can keep your new-fangled CGI as far as I’m concerned. Give me a great plot, and characters that I can connect with, and I play it over and over and over again!

Now, w ith the monologue out of the way, I’ll ask my question. Do you think there’s any hope that FFVI will be developed into a movie?

-Mike T.

Not-Alive Matt

Nah. There's not nearly as much hype for VI as there is for VII, and while I think that there would be the potential for an absolutely fantastic movie in that game, I think we'll have to happy with Advent Children for now. I guess anything is possible in the distant future, but unfortunately, I don't think I can say the same about the forseeable one. Thanks for writing in, Mike!


Now that I've finished the worst that this semester has to offer, I should be in great shape for the next little while! Thus, expect a happier, less-stressed-out version of your normal everyday Matt for the next little while. Of course, the beautiful weather is only working to enhance my mood. Sunlight is a happymaker!


#155 was dedicated to my poor puppy, who was put down on Monday, suddenly. He was b) Part Lab, and part Chow. 250 points is what that question was worth, for those of you who guessed correctly.

#156 was BigWook's submission; thanks for the idea! The announcer in Morrie's Monster Pit of Dragon Quest VIII does NOT say b) They'll slash and they'll smash, until someone ends up in the trash!" for 165 points, and double that, as always, to BigWook.

Question #157:
In Shammy Gen's "Approaching Planet" theme, what is the musical interval between the first two notes of the main (higher-pitched) melody? (265 points)

a) Minor 3rd
b) Major 3rd
c) Augmented 4th
d) Perfect 5th
e) Minor 7th

Question #158:
Ask Bainick!-->What is Mewt's last name? (155 points)

a) Randell
b) Radiuju
c) Malbeur
d) Nutsy
e) Amelia

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So, then, we come to the end of another day of Q&A, and I'm not even tired yet, so you'll have to send in more letters for me to keep answering, until I'm all answered out. Anyway, how important do you think graphics are in RPGs? Am I crazy when I say that graphics-whores are shallow? Is "graphics-whore" an offensive term? Also, I'm looking for your opinions on what spoilers can/can't appear in the Q&A column. Is FFX too fresh to spoil, or is it okay to break the silence?

Thanks, guys and girls! There shall be more tomorrow!
***Matt did *lots* of work! Now it's party time!

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702 pts

19. Cap
670 pts

20. TV's Adam
663 pts

21. Gaijin
636 pts

22. DDX
523 pts

23. Jeremy V.
471 pts

24. Cheesypoof
395 pts

25. Colabottle
281 pts

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