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ASK MATT
Unpleasantly Lumpy
January 10, 2007

Matt Demers - 16:51 EST

WELCOME ONCE MORE to Q&A, the place where all of your dreams might come true, but probably not. I'm your weekday host, Matt; Josh will likely be back on the weekend, and then we'll be fully back into the swing of things.

For some inexplicable reason, my Internet connection is moving at something close to a snail's pace, so I'm a little bit annoyed right now. I was beginning to think it was just my computer in general, since it's... well, "dirtier" than the average system, I'd say. I went and deleted all of my temporary Internet files and a whole lot of worthless junk that is haunting my C drive unnecessarily, but to no avail. Things are still moving oh-so-slowly, and I guess I'll have to deal. And blame my problems on Rogers high-speed instead.

Either way, I'm about to metaphorically thrust my metaphorical hand into the metaphorical mailbox. Watch, and learn.




LETTERS
Final Fantasy's portable future.


Hey there Matt:

Wow, it's great to have you back! I am glad that the test went alright and that you achieved a good grade. Anyways, back to the good old letter writing!

Matt

Aww, I missed you too. I hope your holidays were gamerrific, whatever that means. Now, what do you have for me?

Unfortunately over the Christmas holiday, I was unable to acquire a Nintendo Wii or a PS3 system. Instead, however, I actually got a few games that are just as good in my opinion: Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy III DS, and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow for the DS. I also had the urge to go my local gaming store and pick up a few games there as well: Unlimited SaGa (PS2), Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (PS2), Champions of Norrath: Realms of Everquest (PS2), and Indigo Prophecy (PC). Out of all of these games, I’ve actually gotten the opportunity to finish both Dark Alliance and Champions, and currently venturing into the wonderful world of Final Fantasy III DS. I’d do the whole "Mognet" thing, but alas I do not have the wireless connection needed!

Matt

A few games that are just as good? I'd say "at least as good" because hey, there really aren't that many great games out for either system at this point. The Wii has Zelda, sure, and a few other quirky funnish things. The PS3 has, uh, hmm... Resistance: Fall of Man? Not my kind of game, but maybe it would turn your crank. I dunno. My point is that for RPGamers, the PS3 and Wii really don't offer much at all at this point. Your holiday collection sounds fantastic!

As for FFIII, as with any other DS game, it's not too hard to get connected. If you really feel the need, you can always buy a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB adapter for thirty bucks or so, and setting it up isn't too painful at all. It's up to you!

After putting in about 10 hours into FF3 DS thus far, I'm really enjoying this game. I think the graphics are absolutely stunning for a DS game, the story is good, and the battles are enjoyable because you are able to experiment with all of the many classes that are available. In an odd, shocking way, FF3 DS almost reminds of FF1 that was on the NES.

I almost think because FF3 is on the DS, it's making my interest in the game go even further because not only can I play this game on my couch, but I can also travel and play it in other locations as well (work, school, etc), thus allowing me to have more time to play games. Considering this game was the second to enter my DS collection, I've really not had a whole lot of time to devote to playing with the DS.

Matt

I agree with you! Final Fantasy III heavily maintains the difficult, old-fashioned feel of Square's early games... far more than I ever would have thought. That's a turn-off to a lot of people, but the entire package works fantastically for me. The graphics are beautiful, and the music brings a tear to my eye. This is exactly what a Final Fantasy remake should be.

As a result of getting to play an RPG on the DS (a very good one at that), I can easily see that my interest in the new Dragon Quest game for the DS has increased very heavily. I believe once it hits store shelves, I will undoubtedly have a copy because I know that I’ll be able to play it anywhere I go, making me a happy, happy boy!

Matt

Oh, me too. The news about Dragon Quest IX shocked the living daylights out of me when I logged onto the incredibly slow dial-up connection back at home over the holidays. Though I was slightly dismayed about the Action-RPG aspect of it, the trailers I've watched since have helped me to recover a bit.

I think that handheld gaming is becoming more and more "mainstream" as time goes on. It's so much simpler for someone like me who either doesn't have access to the TV, due to certain other people watching things constantly, or who are just never home because of on-campus obligations and the like.

I guess I'll go ahead and end the letter with this question: Do you think they'll eventually do another Final Fantasy game for the DS? I'd really like to see another Final Fantasy adventure hit the DS because it would make me have to have a bigger DS library!

Well, this is all I have for today. Thanks!

Jwcooley

Matt

Hmm. I've had an idea stirring around in my head lately. First of all, I'm sure you're well aware that Final Fantasy VI is coming out for the GBA in just a couple of months. But a part of me can't help but wonder if all of these remakes... IV, then III, V, and now VI... are leading up to an announcement of a FFVII remake. Since the DS would quite easily be capable of handling a port of VII, I'd almost bet that Square Enix has toyed with the idea. However, a much bigger part of me thinks that if a FFVII remake is in the works, they're more apt to do a full-blown crazy-graphics version, just because that's the popular game.

But doesn't the idea of having a FFVII/VIII/IX remake-trio released on the DS make sense, especially after a IV-V-VI trio for the GBA? I feel like the system would be well suited to it, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?



Underratedness, and another look into the future of portable gaming.


Heó, heó Matt,
Let's see what I can ask to get people writing in passionately...

Okay, here's one....what would you consider to be the most underrated RPG of 2006? Also, what would you consider to be the most underrated video game of 2006 that deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten in the past year? I ask these as seperate questions since they don't necessarily have to be one and the same, you know? This question can be open to anyone that writes in as well to your column, so hopefully that'll help.

Matt

The most underrated RPG of 2006, hmm? I can talk about "underrated" versus my personal opinion, or "underrated" when considering website reviews... and I think I'll go with the latter. I've played a fair number of the games of 2006, but that's still a really difficult question to answer. From what I've seen of my brother's copy, and from what I've heard, I'd probably go with Tales of the Abyss. While it's received good reviews, generally, it feels to me that the gamers themselves really feel that this was a stellar title that deserved top honours. Every single person who has wrote in to Q&A about Tales of the Abyss has only had glowing things to say, so I feel that the game has been slightly underrated by the media.

I think that one of the games that deserved a heck of a lot more attention was Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. I'm not doing that out of my personal love for the series or anything; it's just a ton of fun to play, and it has largely been dismissed by most as a kiddie game that offers little to the "real" gamer. I have heard nothing but goodness about DQH from the few who have gone out and played it, and I'm having a lot of fun myself so far (though I haven't played terribly long, yet).

I am interested, though, as to what everyone else's opinions are on the subjects, too. What do you think are the games that deserved higher honours than they received? Which games should have captured the spotlight but didn't in the end? Let me know what your thoughts are!

Here's two...consider this a timely question. Yesterday (as I write this anyway), the iPhone was introduced with a touchscreen interface that works as an iPod, cell phone, wifi web browser, and camera in one device. The only thing to keep in mind here is the touchscreen though. Currently, the iPod can play games like Tetris, PacMan, Texas HoldEm, Bejeweled, and other quickie games like that. Now, say that Apple was interested in making portable games on par with those that exist for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. With the iPhone coming out in June, it won't be long before official competion against the DS Lite might be considered an option since the iPhone has that touchscreen. What do you think of this possibility? Do you think there is a next-gen portable war to come, just like the next-gen console war that has been in play with the Wii, XBoX 360, and PS3, or am I just getting ahead of myself? Once again, this question is open for anyone to answer, which in turn will hopefully get people writing to your column.

Matt

I've heard. And hey, I'm sure that you've also heard the recent announcement that the Microsoft Zune is going to be a gaming device by 2008. A battle really could be forming if both Apple and Microsoft decide to get into real gaming, though that might send Nintendo for a bit of an ideological spin... their products have been rather Apple-y lately, after all.

I really hope that this isn't the case. With a three-way competition in the console-gaming industry, it depresses me to think that I'd need to spend over a thousand dollars just to have the ability to play any game that I want. I hate having to pick and choose, even if picking and choosing is a necessity, because either way, I know I'm going to miss out on something. With one or two systems to stay on top of, things aren't quite so terrible. But four? I certainly hope not. Besides, I can't imagine that there would be enough room in the portable gaming industry to house four competitors. Someone is bound to lose, and quickly.

Finally, to sate your curiosity, Let's get ready to rumble!" is the trademarked catchphrase of American boxing announcer Michael Buffer according to wikipedia. Here's the link...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let%27s_get_ready_to_rumble%21 Welcome back, and happy new year, BLG

Matt

Yes, of course. You and about three others informed me about Mr. Buffer; obviously, I'm not much of a boxing buff. Happy New Year to you too, BLG!



Final Fantasy XII... good, but not great, but not bad at all.


Hey Matt!

Welcome back! I have to say, I haven't been on the site as much regularly knowing that the Q&A section isn't being updated as much, and I only check for news every few days. I have been poking my head in (in the site? on the site? at the site?) from time to time, and it's good to see you back.

Matt

Well, good! It's a difficult time of year regardless, because most everyone running the site is busy seeing friends, family, and the like. I've got to admit, too, that after the deathsemester that was the fall, I really needed the month off to vegetate. But hey, here I am again, slightly refreshed, and ever-hoping that this semester will be less painful than the last!

I have to say, I'm not happy that DQIX is a DS game. As hooked as I got on VIII, I'm not a handheld gamer, so unless it gets ported (which I think is unlikely), I'm probably never going to play it. Action RPG does seem like an odd direction for a series that's so heavy on tradition, that's a pretty radical change.

Matt

I can understand the way you feel. Obviously, I'm a big DS fan, so I was quite happy (and surprised) to hear that it would be released for the little handheld. I can see why, though, Square Enix would make that decision. It's really unclear at this point who the console war is going to belong to. Who will be the successful one out of the three in Japan? That's what really counts for a Dragon Quest game; because it's SO big in Japan, they're not going to release it for a system that only has a couple million owners in total. In that way, the DS makes perfect sense: Since everybody and their mother in Japan does own one, there's virtually no risk. Unfortunately, though, if you're turned off to the idea of portable gaming, that's not good news for you.

As for the Action RPG aspect, I'm really surprised too, and this is where I'm most scared. Dragon Quest is my tried-and-true; it's where I started in RPGland, and I really thought that it would stay "true to its roots" until the very end, so to speak. Because of the team that's working on it, I do have faith that it will be fantastic in the end, but it's going to take some time to get used to the idea.

With Christmas come and gone, I've finally gotten my grubby mitts on FFXII, and I'm enjoying it immensely. This game feels huge! I'm a very thorough player, so it's taking me long stretches to cover entire areas. I'm adjusting to the battle system, it felt really awkward at first, but it got a lot better once I got more than one person, and I was able to tinker with my gambits. However, since it looks and feels like it should be an action RPG, I keep getting mad that I can't dodge attacks. I understand your comment about everyone starting to blend together, I've made a conscious effort to keep everyone on slightly different paths, but they are still growing together. I wish everyone could have gotten their own license board, it would have felt much more individualized.

Matt

Agreed. I started out taking everyone in a completely different direction, but the license grid is just nowhere near as big as it looks at first, and it doesn't take much time to come close to mastering the whole thing. I'm at the end of the game, and a couple of my characters are very close to having the entire board cleared. It's a little bit crappy, to be blunt.

Like you, though, Final Fantasy XII is a game that I'm very much enjoying. The battle system is less bad than I originally thought it would be, and it's also, without question, the hardest FF game that I've played in a long, long, long time. There are a few things that bother me about the game, though- the license board, obviously, but also the storyline, which is just far too bland for a FF game (in my opinion), and the characters, which are really not outstanding as far as FF characters go.

I find your family experience with Wii interesting. Of the new systems, I have to say that it is the one I'm most curious about, and hearing about your entire family getting hooked certainly hasn't changed that. I could see how something like that when I was younger (when the whole family was together a lot more) would have been a kick. Nowadays, I see my friends and I as likely to smack each other with the controller as anything.

Anyway, I'll leave some room for everyone else to have some space. Welcome back!

BigWook

Matt

Well, there was plenty of controller smackage going on, that's for sure! I whacked the ceiling once while playing tennis, back when I didn't realize that you don't have to jump for the balls. My mom gave me a nasty bruise on the back of my right upper-arm on New Year's Eve, too. Another new concept in our family is "when you feel the breeze, you're sitting too close" regarding bystanding observers on living room chairs, etc. I myself have felt the breeze of closely-passing-by remote swings more than a few times. It's a bit scary, always bracing for what could be a painful blow! But, it's worth the fun.

Thanks, BigWook, for the welcome-home! Get in touch with me soon if you're interested in co-hosting sometime shortly, O Sock-winner of yore. ;)



Here are more: Questions four!


Dear Alicia, Josh, Matt or other person?

I've been out of RPGaming for a while but I think the DS will get me back in, at least a little bit. I have a few questions on a variety of topics.

1. Is Final Fantasy III (on the DS) easier than the original famicom release? It doesn't seem very hard to me so far.

Matt

I think that it's slightly easified, but not by much. I think that the most significant change is that battles never have more than two or three enemies in them, while in the original, it wasn't uncommon to face five or six monsters at once. I'm not sure, but I think that you get a bit more experience from battles, too. But, don't let your guard down: The game does get plenty hard- at least, I think so. You'll see.

2. Do you think it's odd that the re-release of FFT will be on the PSP while FFT Advance and it's sequel are on Nintendo handhelds?

Matt

It is a bit strange, but very interesting, that Square Enix is really catering to both sides of the competition. I'm not sure what they're hoping to accomplish, though with millions of PSP owners out there and relatively few great titles, the success of FFT is, I'd guess, pretty much guaranteed. It is hard to say, though, because I don't know many RPGamers who own PSPs at all. Time will tell!

3. Is there word on the next Suikoden title (not counting the PSP re-release which isn't leaving Japan... arg!) and what platform it'll be developed on?

Matt

Not as of yet. It hasn't even been a year since Suikoden V was released, though, and I'm guessing that Konami is likely sitting on the decision until they're more sure of which console they want to concentrate their support towards. That is, of course, under the assumption that a Suikoden VI is even in the works at all.

4. Remember the Ogre Battle series? I miss those games - I wish there were more

Cheers,

Mike

Matt

I wish I had experienced more of the series than I did while I had the chance to! Maybe I'll get lucky and it will appear on the Wii's Virtual Console. Yeah, I can keep dreaming, I know...

Thanks for your letter!



Yet another happy DS owner (-to-be).


Hi Matt.

It's been a long time since the last column! My daily online catching-up time has been significantly shorter in the past month or so...

Matt

Total coincidence: My daily online production-time has been significantly shorter, too. Crazy! ;)

Anyway, in two weeks I'll be holding a DS! I'm very excited. Unfortunately, it arrives just on time for the finals here. Maybe I'll find lots of excuses to drive the bus, so I can play the DS then. It's actually the first mobile console I ever owned. My brother had an original Gameboy and also a Sega Gamegear but I wasn't that into games then. I only started playing games during the PSX era so I've got some catching up to do (although I did play many games on emulators but it's just not the same).

Matt

That's pretty exciting! My first portable was the Game Boy Advance, so I'm really not that far ahead of you. Of course, I've been gaming since the dark ages, so that probably puts me ahead a few pegs. I'm happy, though! The DS is a good choice for all sorts of games, RPGs included. And with others like Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Dragon Quest IX, Heroes of Mana, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Pokémon Pearl/Diamond, and way more on the way... well, I don't think you can go wrong, can you?

Regarding job switching in different games. In FFT, each job gave you a temporary percentage boost to different stats, while in that job. Also, when leveling up, the stats that are increased depend a lot on the job you're in at that moment. So if you were a mage throughout the game, you'd have a lot of MP and magic power but very little HP and strength. So even if you switched to a knight which has a great stat boost to strength and HP, you'd still inferior to someone that's been a knight for all the game.

Incidentally, FFT is also one of the most diverse games I've played, party-wise. In almost every game I have a black mage with math skill. That alone can win a battle in a couple of turns, most of the time. But I usually have a mix of characters - geomancers, samurais, maybe even bards and dancers. The only strict knight I use is Orlandu. And while I might not use the most efficient party conceivable, it's a lot more fun to play.

Matt

Agreed! Even if it makes a game slightly more difficult, it's far more fun to me to have a variety of different characters rather than rubber-stamping a bunch with the same boring abilities. Orlandu isn't my favourite characters of the game, by the way; he's just way, way too overpowered, in my humble opinion.

But many other RPGs have different, diverse characters. In Xenogears you only have one sword wielding character and only for a pretty short part. In Xenosaga it's almost the same. Some RPGs don't give you any flexibility - the two Lunars for example, but still you have at the most two sword fighters. Wild Arms doesn't have swords at all and I could go on.

I try to have at least one powerhouse and one healer (maybe combined with a different set of skills like status effect magic and such). The rest can be more exotic characters.

Zohar Gilboa

Matt

Of course, you can be a powerhouse character without wielding a sword! I really like it when RPGs are creative with their weapons of choice; one of my favourite things about FFIX is that the hero isn't your typical sword-toting guy. I don't even have a name for the weapons that Zidane used, but damn, they were cool. Having a healer around is almost a necessity... I hate having to drop back to an all-attack party and being forced to rely on potions for emergency HP-replenishing.

In some ways, I like a more rigid system like the one that Lunar provides (along with countless others... FFIV, Dragon Warrior IV, Breath of Fire, and more). It helps to more solidly define a character, in an interesting kind of job-specific-personality way. Rosa just SEEMED sweeter in FFIV because of the fact that she was a specialist in White Magic. Or maybe I'm just weird.

In any event, thanks for your first letter of 2007! May you write many more.



QUICKIES

So Matt, what are your thoughts on Rogue Galaxy for PS2? Hot, or not?

- waterfiend

Matt
Hot. And quite hot, at that. I'm convinced that this game will be yet another reason that RPGamers will realize that the PS2 still reigns supreme, despite the bigger and badder machines that are now out there on the market.

What is the Gigas in ff 12?

Matt
Ooh... I know where you are! It's one of your Espers; check your Bestiary to figure out which one it is exactly. And good luck!


MOGNET MAIL

If you'd like to send me some Mogmail, and you have Final Fantasy III DS, my code is 515 480 192 117. Send me your number, and I'll add you to my list! Then you can send all the mail you like!

Yay Slimey!! (sorry, that's all I got)

Carlisle

Matt
Hey, that's okay. Any mail gives me a little lift! You're awesome.

Also, uh, I just added about four new friend codes, so I should be good to receive mail from new people sometime soon! Whoo-hoo!



IN CLOSING

We had some interesting conversation-inspiring letters above, so I'd like to see what your thoughts are for tomorrow. What are the most underrated games of last year? What games should have been recognized but failed to make the spotlight in a big way? And hey, because Zohar Gilboa's letter got me on the topic a bit, which weapons do you like seeing in the hands of your hero? Are swords necessary? Or would you squeal with delight if FFXIII's hero/ine ends up running around with a whip?

Like always, I'm dying to know. Well, not quite dying, but close. Send me some mail, and you might just see it in the column soon, here at Q&A!



Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: More muscly than yesterday.



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt wishes that he had a crystal ball!


Hey, in all fairness, the closest I get to that sport is when I put on a clean pair of boxers in the morning. (And they don't scream anything to get the crowd cheering (thankfully)).

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