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Tasty Enzymes
January 12, 2007

Matt Demers - 17:33 EST

OH, HOW LOVELY. I have plans to go to the passport office today, but word on the street is that people have been lined up for hours to get them processed in times of late. Is a sun-drenched trip to the Dominican Republic really worth all of this trouble? I hope so. I think so. I could be going in February, but argh, what an annoyance in the meantime.

I'm getting ever closer to the end of Final Fantasy III, and I'm somewhat appalled by some of the slight changes near the end. I don't want to say anything just yet, though, because I want to see what happens before I jump into a big rant. But, maybe once I do rant, I'll get some agreement from others. For now, though, I'll get to the mailbag.




LETTERS
Hey, wait a sec... is this a question about the other column?


Welcome back.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that you were missed and offer my condolences on your family tragedy.

Matt

Thanks, I appreciate it. These things happen, and you deal with 'em and move on. I regretted not being around to wish everyone a happy holiday, but, that's life.

I write to ask your advice about THONG. When last Josh was with us, I had gotten pretty close to that final coveted position where I would be able to win Final Fantasy XII. I worked very hard to get there, and although my victory is not guaranteed, I think I have a good shot.

My dilemma is this - I got Final Fantasy XII for Christmas. So here is my question. Should I, assuming I win, go ahead a get FFXII and try to sell it? Would it be worth my while to get Grandia 3 instead despite my disinterest in Grandia 2 and Grandia Extreme? (No GBA, so no Riviera) Or should I just be a nice guy, back off, and let the others who were less rewarded over Christmas get the final victory?

What do you think?

Draconn

Matt

That is up to you, Draconn! If I were you, I'd give Grandia III another shot. Even if Grandia II wasn't really your thing, a lot of people have really enjoyed III's battle system, and even if it had a crappy storyline, you might find something enjoyable there if you ever find yourself looking for something to play. It'd be more useful to you than a game you've already got... or a game you can't even play.

Of course, you could always grab Final Fantasy XII out of spite, if you're feeling villainous. It would be a shame to just drop out of the game, seeing how hard you've worked. Perhaps you could claim victory, but decline the prize, and maybe bargain for something else (a co-hosting, etc). It's your choice to make!

Good luck in Ouro's game. Hopefully it goes better for you than mine did in the end. (You did get the co-host prize you did win, didn't you? I don't quite remember...) ^^;



JMS 2007


Wow - you're back? I guess I need to recapture my letter-writing acumen. So let's give it a try.

I was sending a few anime themes way back when we last did this - here's one I just heard recently. http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/5812/1 Theme for Saber Marionette J this is, done by Megumi Hayashibara - and her name may well pop up again soon.

Matt

Hmmm, I like it well enough. It kind of reeks of eastern influence. Not that that's a bad thing or anything, it's just so... I don't know, stereotypical of anime music? Exactly what you'd expect? *shrug* Let's move on.

I'll deal with Xmas briefly. I got nothing whatsoever game-related, some stuff I didn't really want, and quite a few DVD's. And I learned that I detest Xmas music when it is played on the Muzak system of a certain department store chain I won't mention today.

Matt

It's funny. Some families just don't "do" the gaming thing when it comes to Christmastime. I used to be afraid to ask for much in the way of video game stuff until a few years back when I realized that hey, if video games are what I want, then why let my family members blow money on me on things that I don't really care about as much? I appreciate any gifts that I receive, don't get me wrong, but nowadays, my Christmases are way "gamier" than they used to be.

Which brings me to a question, Matt - when you're forced to be around music you dislike, what is your response? My response was to avidly seek out customers to chat with around the register so as not to hear the Muzak.

Matt

Enh. I don't really detest any one type of music enough to have an adverse reaction to it. I don't really enjoy country music much, but I don't mutate or anything when I hear it, and I don't really respond, except maybe to whine about it after awhile.

I'm gonna throw music at you from Dark Savior today. I talked about it far more with Josh than you, but if you want to know more about the game either read my review or just say so. http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/3410/30 I cited the music as one of the best parts in the review - what say you?

Matt

"Fantabulous!" Well, it's all right. I find, though, that it doesn't really compare with the games with the best music. Just me, maybe.

I think I wrote you a minor symposium on how MY review process goes, at least insofar as the flat numbering. It's this simple: I can't predict how other people will play it, so I judge based on how much I enjoyed the game. Call it the 'Fun Factor', if you will. I make every effort to point that out in the text, so people who just look at the numbers and don't read the reviews (usually because they're of games that few other people have played) got irate about it. Thankfully that's calmed down.

As an example for your case, what number grade would you give, say, Dragon Quest IV - and would it be different if you factored in what other hypothetical players might think of it?

Matt

I'd have to take in a number of factors. To me, a good review has to go beyond simply one's enjoyment of the game. Obviously, that's an important part, and it will have an influence. But you have to be able to objectively look at the good aspects and poor aspects to piece together the overall quality of the game. The review isn't meant for your benefit, after all; it's meant for the benefit of all of the other readers, and those readers have a wide variety of different opinions on what constitutes a good RPG. I'm not saying that I'm the king of reviews or anything, but when I write one, I try and bear in mind all of the things that I think would make the game very well-liked or very much disliked by many different people, and I skew the results towards my own personal opinion.

For example, Dragon Warrior IV is one of my absolute favourite games of all time, but there are several ways that I know the game is flawed. The encounter rate is fairly high, which many people would not appreciate. You're forced to have your allies controlled by AI in Chapter 5, which is really disappointing, especially at the times when the AI isn't that great. While the story is leaps and bounds ahead of previous Dragon Quest games, it doesn't compare to later RPGs. Even if the game is a "5" in my books, I'd probably give it a 4 in the end because of those factors. I really do think it is, overall, an above-average game, especially for its time. But, it isn't perfect, and in my opinion, that needs to be reflected in the score, no matter what my personal opinion is.

Even though the text of a review may be more important, a numerical score is really essential, I feel, because it helps compare the game to others in various categories. Plus, scores are effective as a quick check on quality; if you go to gamerankings.com or whatever it is, and you see that a game in particular has an average score of 50% or something from 40 reviews, it's probably a good idea to give another game your attention first.

Final review item for the day - my Shining Force III triad of reviews is up. Go read it, please. Because after doing so I think you'll understand much better why I adore that title so much.

Matt

I did so, back when it first went up. I've always liked Shining Force from the moment I first played SFII, and it's the reason that I took such a liking to the very, very similar Fire Emblem when I first played it. Little did I know that Fire Emblem was actually the true "original" out of the two! You're not the only one that has spouted about the greatness of SFIII, so if I ever had the opportunity, I'd certainly give it a whirl.

Long as we're talking SFIII - this track http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/1780/45 is heard mostly in Scenarios 1 and 2, while this http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/1780/40 is only heard in Scenario 3. Moments of darkness, both - whaddaya think?

Matt

Oooh...evil! I like much. Heh, whenever I hear anything by Sakuraba, I feel like I'm listening to some "lost" Star Ocean theme.

Today's the day! I'm sending my Saturn off to get a language switch, from a shop in Alberta of all places. I cannot complete Tengai Makyou IV until I do that, because the second disc starts without an opportunity to save and without a save file to load from my converter can't do its job. And when I was about to enter the Carlsbad Caverns enroute to Houston so that I could find what caused a gigantic laser beam from a satellite to destroy Tombstone, the urge to complete the game is irresistible.

Matt

Well, no one can say that you haven't gone to great lengths! I don't think I've ever wanted to play a game *that* much, though you have no idea what I'd do if I heard that Dragon Quest IX was to be Japan-only. Then, we'll talk.

Question inspired by my father, of all people: he who is not and probably will never be a gamer. CD's can be scratched a bit and still work alright, while DVD's have to be handled much more carefully. What about Blu-Ray? Will the slightest piece of dirt cause the disc to have problems being read? Quick note to Bainick: Bubsy just infuriated me with its incredibly large levels lacking reasons to explore them (except more balls of yarn! Yay!) I would add Earthworm Jim 2 onto your list, and since EWJ 1 had an extra level on the Genesis you'd have incentive to get that version. Aladdin on Genesis was easy but a lot of fun.

Matt

I did a little bit of hunting around, and it seems like while the first discs were highly susceptible to scratches and the like, there are a lot of hard, durable coatings that are being developed and put into use, though they might be expensive. It may be the case that Blu-ray discs are the most scratch-proof yet, but I'm not quite sure. And either way, I'd handle with care.

I'm probably out of time... but I'll end by making your brain work overtime, Matt. I'm gonna give you a grant of $2000 US - but you can ONLY buy Saturn games (and accessories) with it. What's on your list? Include imports of interest!

Waga ninpou, ya bu reru no ka?

JuMeSyn

Matt

Argh. But you always make my brain work overtime. ;_;

$2000 is a lot of money! I don't know if I've spent that much on my PS2, let alone systems I don't know about. I'd probably get a couple of controllers, and a couple of extras, because they're not exactly easy to find in this day and age. Then, I'd get Castlevania: SotN, since tragically, I haven't played it yet, and Dragon Force, I guess, since you rave about it fortnightly. Panzer Dragoon Saga would take a big bite of change to obtain. I'd almost surely get Shining Force III, and Shining the Holy Ark, even though I believe that game follows quite a different format. Finally, I'd get a Sonic game, because the Nintendo geek I am, I've never really played one before. I've said this before, but I'm not into the whole idea of imports, because I can't stand playing a game that I can't understand. I tried it before, but having to resort to online walkthroughs really isn't my thing.

So, when are you going to offer me this two grand? I'm waiiiiiting! ;)



Rumours and not-so-rumours in the new year.


Going in to send mode ...

Hey, Matt is back, Matt is back!
Welcome back Chrono Trigger, err Wonderslime.

Matt

Why thank you! I'm only too glad to be here.

Good to hear you enjoyed Christmas, (I hope the tragedy you spoke of, wasn't too grave).

I can feel for you concerning the backlog. University is still kicking me even during holidays, so I only got to finish Valkyrie Profile the second time for the good ending, and started a little Kingdom Hearts II. At the same time I acquiered FF XII, Xenosaga III, Valkyrie Profile 2 and some more, I even managed to borrow a Dreamcast with Arcadia, and Shenmue 1+2, not to mention PC games.

Oh Time, why do you deceive me so?

Matt

Time hates you. It hates me too. I don't know why it has this burning desire to run out so quickly during holidays, too, but it happens.

At least you got through a second playthrough of Valkyrie Profile! That's not bad at all. :)

Ahem, I heard the rumors about Dragon Quest IX too, how reliable are they, in your opinion? I would be very disappointed cause I never owned a handheld, and don't plan to buy one for at least another 1 1/2 years. An action title too? Blasphemy!

Matt

Very reliable. The "rumours" aren't rumours at all; we've actually seen screens and a trailer from the game! The action aspect does seem a little bit blasphemous, but perhaps it will win us over in the end. And a year and half? I bet it'll be at least that long before we see Dragon Quest IX available outside of Japan, so don't get too worried yet.

Since we are talking about rumors: What is for you the "the most hoping for coming true rumor" about games in 2007?

Take care, new years are known to eat people.
Belthasar2

For me it's that the PS 3 won't be

Matt

I think a lot of people are saying that, but I think that with a game like Final Fantasy XIII planned, it would be a bit of a shame for the system to just tank. Rather, I'd love it if Square Enix stepped up and announced that FFXIII is to be a multi-platform title. That would make my day. But, I doubt it'll happen, and I'll be forced to get a PS3 if I want to play, and so on. Ugh.

Good to hear from you!



From one of our extraordinary interim columnists!


Welcome back Matt,

To start off, "Let's get ready to rumble" comes from American boxing announcer Michael Buffer. Just a quick FYI.

I'm with you on liking to make distinct characters. I did this in Final Fantasy XII with Penelo being a Paladin, Basch a Dark Knight, Vaan a Ninja, etc. Final Fantasy V had Bartz focusing on Knight-type jobs, Lenna was my mage, Faris was my odd job character, and my fourth slot was a powerhouse melee focus. I'm now doing the same with Final Fantasy III. Refia is my Knight, Luneth a damage dealer, Ingus a melee/magic mix and Arc a healer.

Matt

Your roster for FFV is very similar to what mine was! I had Bartz as my heavy lifter, taking jobs like Berserker, Knight, and Samurai, while Faris became a "lighter" attacker, taking jobs like Archer, Thief, and Ninja. Galuf, etc, was my mage character, heavily versed in Time, Black, and Blue magic, while Lenna was a pseudo-mage/backup mage, specializing in White Magic, Geomancy, and Chemistry. Very well rounded, that one was. Final Fantasy V has a disgusting amount of replay for those of us who love the little idiosyncrasies of micromanaging.

I find it quite fun to play this way, though I hate almost always having to create cookie cutter roles. Oh well. I still love games with job systems.

Glad to have you back in the swing of things.

- Macstorm

Matt
I'm glad to be back in action myself! With different abilities, it's neat to see who you end up relying upon at different stages of the game, and watching how each character's usefulness changes depending on where you are exactly.

Besides, variety is the spice of life, or so the old saying goes. If everyone was the same, it'd be a pretty boring world, and the same goes for the worlds inside our favourite games!

Good to hear from you, Mac!



A few words, from a lover of Lufia.


Hey Matt! It's been a while since I've written in, and I plan to write in a lot more since I recently got FF3, along with a very sexy black DS! I also received the very fun and addictive Rocket Slime. Personally, I think that Suikoden V should have received a lot more attention than it got. I enjoyed it more than KH2 and FF12. On the latter, I pretty much lost interest in playing. I don't know why, but it just feels like something is missing from FF12. Its good to have you back!

LufiaLvr

Matt

Final Fantasy XII is a good game, for sure, but I know what you mean. There is something about it that isn't quite right, and I'm pretty sure it's the plain-jane storyline. Honestly, there hasn't been a Final Fantasy with such a straightforward and dull plot since Final Fantasy II, and to be honest with you, the game is remarkably similar to FFII in many, many ways (good ways). It's not what I would have expected beforehand, but that's the way it is. Either way, it's certainly one of the most impressive RPGs of the year, and a very good addition to any RPGamer's PS2 library, in my opinion.

I'm excited that you're enjoying Square Enix's other offerings! With so many fans, I'm sure that we're set for a happy future, no matter what your tastes might be. Well, unless you hate absolutely everything made my Square Enix... though I imagine that 97% of readers don't fall into that category; especially ones reading this column.

Suikoden V got a little bit of attention, but only for a few weeks after its release. It's one of those games that, I think, could have a much larger fanbase if more people gave it a shot. No matter how good Square Enix might be, there is more to life.

Thanks for writing in!



Ugh, I'm pretty sure that I have a problem.


Hello Matt,

Portable RPGs do seem to be all the rage. I recently purchased Contact for my DS; which I probably shouldn't have since I still haven't finished FF3. But the game is fun and the leveling system works on the more you use it the better it gets principle.

Matt

Oh, we're all guilty of buying too much when we don't have a snowball's chance in hell of finishing it all. Why, today, I went and bought Zelda: The Wind Waker, at long last. Now that I have my very first Gamecube-game player, my Wii, I have a bit of catching up to do!

So I've been making Terry run around beating monsters with his fists and rock magic(since he's wearing the Knuckle Mole costume). Then getting him back to the ship, changed into the Mr. Cuisine costume and cooking up a storm.

It's also interesting that as the player you are not the main character. You're known to the Professor(who Terry is helping out) but Terry doesn't know about you at all. But thanks to the power of the DS you get to play "god" as it were. Lots of fun, seriously recommended for inclusion of space dogs that want to be space cats.

Matt

Noted! I might just borrow it from my brother, once he has finished up. I've heard that Contact is one of the oft-overlooked gems of last fall. Based on the positive response, if you're into quirky games and weird humour, this one might be right up your alley.

I want to try out Castlevania, but I have never played any off the games in that series before and am unsure if they'll be to my taste. All I know is that the current games are a cross of Metroid exploration and Zelda2 : Link's Adventure leveling. So can I get a little more info if you played them? It's be great help(though probably not to my pocketbook)

Ken

Matt

Castlevania games go a long way back; the first one was released in something like 1986 or 1987. Many things remain familiar about the game, though many others have drastically improved- play control and plot, primarily. On the DS, Castlevania is a 2D-platformer, and generally, the game plays quite similarly to Metroid. You'll fight through rooms, opening up a map as you go, and occasionally, you'll face a strong enemy that will yield a new ability upon its defeat, allowing you to progress to previously inaccessible areas. You'll collect money along the way, and have the ability to buy a variety of different weapons that can be upgraded, and you can also buy potions and such to keep your HP afloat. Similar to an RPG, you'll gain experience and levels by fighting, making the going easier the longer you play.

If it sounds like it might be fun to you, go ahead and give it a try. If you're on the fence, I think you should still give it a try; the quality is really good, and the layout of the castle is masterfully impressive. Also, unlike most platformers, it might take you a good 20 hours to play your way through, so there's a fair amount of substance, too.

Best of luck, Ken! Let me know what your decision is.



QUICKIES

Here is a quickie. Do you know if the FFXII characters always get the same Quickenings regardless of where they get them off of the board?

Draconn

Matt
Yes. I was wondering that in the beginning too, but your characters will always learn their three Quickenings in the same order, no matter where they obtain them on the board. Thus, there's no real advantage to seeking out the furthest one right away, because a nearby Quickening square will grant the same powers (as far as I can see). Hope that helps!


MOGNET MAIL

Mogmail is on hiatus, kupo! I'm at a place where Moogles aren't exactly accessible. ^^;; If you'd like to send me some Mogmail, though, 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!



IN CLOSING

And that wraps up the week for me! But don't stop writing now. Josh will be in on the weekend to clean up after me and to contribute his first columns of the new year. Greet him with a flurry of e-mails, and I guarantee you he'll be a happy guy.

Until next Tuesday, everybody!



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Matt's greatest desire is to get Final Fantasy III over with! Now!


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