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ASK MATT
We've Got Boxes!
January 16, 2007

Matt Demers - 15:06 EST

HOW ABOUT THAT? We actually got some Final Fantasy XIII details this week. Apparently, it's set to have a storyline. Fancy that! We haven't had one of those since FFX. Yeah, yeah, I'm kidding. FFXII has a storyline; it's just not a very exciting or Final Fantasy-esque one. At least it looks like there's some good "weirdness" in the works. Shell world? Yes, please.

I had a good weekend. It wasn't terribly productive, but I did manage to play a bunch of Final Fantasy III, and I spent some quality time with the Wii's Virtual Console. Call me a fanboy if you will, but I'm in love with that system.

Anyway, we have a good week planned! BigWook will be joining me on Thursday to help run the show, so make sure you show up to pay him some attention. Send him a letter or four, too, to make him feel really welcome!




LETTERS
Theories and queries.


Hey Matt,

So I feel like ranting, and always liked your column.

To start with, my theory on FFXIII: Lightning and the unknown male lead are the person. From the looks of it one of the themes of the game is things changing shape or 'identity', Shiva turns into a bike, Summons change elements, and Lightnings gun turns into a sword. Nomura said her relationship to the unknown male lead is was not a normal one. I know I'm probably wrong, but I might be close. What do you think?

Matt

Hmm- do you mean that you believe they're the same person? (That would have been a bad word to leave out.) Hey, anything is possible! This is Square Enix we're talking about, and they've visited some awfully interesting ideas in their past FF games. Who knows? We'll have to wait and see.

I'm a bit heartened to hear about Lightning's "cowboylike" friend, though. For some reason, I had the fear that she would be the only controllable character in the game, since, well, the only images we've seen so far in combat have been of her and her alone. This early in the game, it's probably a foolish idea to draw such hypotheses, though, so "my bad" as they say.

Next... I picked up Breath of Fire V awhile back on your recommendation... I loved it. Thanks.

Matt

Hey, you're more than welcome! That's a risky game to push in some ways, because there are a lot of people who just hate the idea of the game. It's very different and very hard, but I think that it's very satisfying as well. And the soundtrack makes the purchase worth it, even if you don't like the game. :P

Third... I've been playing most every FF title again (I thru X, XII and Tactics) at the same time and I have to say my opinion has changed on just about every game. VII is better than I thought it was, but is easily the ugliest game in the series, (sprites age slower) VIII is alot more fun than I remember and has a great cast. IX was the one I ended up liking less, I just didn't like many of the characters, save Freya and Beatrix, who should have replaced Stiener when he tragicly died at the start of disk 3 while saving the people of Alexandra.

Matt

Ha, ha. I've been meaning to replay them too someday, but now that I have about 300 new games that require my attention first, I don't know if that will ever happen. I, personally, love Final Fantasy VII. I wasn't new to the series when it came out, either, unlike a lot of people, so my opinion isn't just all glow-y due to loss of FF-virginity. I strongly feel that FFVI and VII represent the height of the great series, and if FF can ever recapture that level, it would be a great achievement indeed for Square Enix.

VIII is really good, and I hate listening to people harp on it, because it makes me sad. I have lots of fond memories of it. IX too, because that game's storyline rocks the socks off my toesies. It might seem strange, but I love how, in FFIX, the party doesn't just travel everywhere like a giant glob. There are interesting mechanics, with different groups going to different places, and "guests" that stay with you for surprisingly long periods of time. I find it a whole lot more interesting than the FFX and XII-style "accumulate everyone very near the beginning and then mass-travel everywhere together forevermore" pattern. Bor-ing.

Playing through X again made me realise what a great main character Tidus was. He really wasn't whiny at all, he just thought (rightfully so) that Yevon was wrong in there rituals and dogma. Heck, at the end of the game he willingly met his fate, when everyone else was hestitating, (he didn't just die, he stopped existing!)

Matt

I know. It's just... it's just... the horrible voice acting. Ugh. He would have been so much more believable, if only I wasn't forced to contort my face in agony every time he said the words "My Old Man." AHHHH!

The character, yes, was a really good one, and he fit into the storyline really creatively.

Something else I noticed: in every FF since 4, there have always been exactly 3 female main characters, 2 'adults' and 1 kid. also, the age range of males is 4-80 something while females are between age 6 and however old Lulu was. Not counting demi-humans, (Fran might've been really old but she had the body of an 18 year old.) I kinda wanna see a female pc in her 30's or 40's.

Matt

I've brought it up before, too. I really, really want to see an old woman in one of these games! We've had a whole lot of old men over the years: Tellah, FuSoYa, Galuf, and Strago come to mind. Why is it, then, that the oldest female character is either Freya, who isn't even human, or uh... yeah, Lulu, who looked like she was in her 20s? I guess Edea in FFVIII was older, too, but hardly "old". (Why did she never join your party for good?! That would have been so cool.)

What I didn't notice was your other point: Three females per game. Very strange, but as far as I can see, you're right on. Do you think it's calculated, or coincidence? Perhaps with a female lead, FFXIII will break that trend.

Well thats it for now comments on all my ramblings?

Thanks, Dave

p.s. Favorite Color?

Matt

Oh, I like to say orange, because I think it's a nifty colour, and a lot of my clothes are of that shade. But orange, paired with blue... now that's the stuff.

Thanks for writing, Dave!



Mother, May I?


Welcome back Matt! ^_^

Though the spring semester won't start for another two weeks for me, I actually didn't get as much gaming as I would like. Both myself and my sister were busy with work and social lives that both my Wii and Twilight Princess sat atop the VCR un-played. Either of us would occasionally play Wii Sports of a GCN game, but it seems playing together is proving to be difficult. :/

Matt

It's a symptom, m'dear. A symptom that you're still a human being with a life to live! Congratulations! Live it... not every gamer has a life, after all. And save your gaming for a time that you don't have anything better to do. I didn't get as much gaming in over the holidays as I would have liked, either, but that was because my siblings were too busy hogging the PS2 playing FFXII while I was home with it. What a mistake I made by bringing it home...

Ah well, we'll get to that eventually right? In other news, I've finally got my hands on Children of Mana! ^ ^ I know the game got lackluster reviews, but as I said time and time before, there's just something I find charming out the Seiken Densetsu series. I haven't gotten to far, but it's not bad in my opinion.

Matt

Ooh, congrats! My brother got it too, and has similar things to say. I like the Mana series too. I mean, I know they haven't always been the greatest - I own Sword of Mana, after all - but even the crappy titles are just simply fun to play through. If you find the games enjoyable, reviews hold absolutely no power over you, so don't worry about what websites might have to say.

Now what I have--rather surprisingly--been playing a lot of is Mother 1/Earthbound 0. I actually just beat the game the morning before I typed this letter. I still surprised at how quickly I got into the Mother series, but a similar thing happened to me with the Phantasy Star series, so I guess I'm prone into immersing myself into a fandom quickly. Since you are a fellow Earthbound fan, I'd thought I'd relate my opinion and experiences with the game.

Matt

Cool! You'll make me salivate a little bit. How unfair is it that we only got a single taste of the Mother series? If I had a genie and three wishes relating to video games, getting to experience those "missing" Mother games would fill in one of my wish-slots.

Mother 1 shows it's age I must admit. Graphics-wise it's simple, but for an NES/Famicom game it's actually pretty good. The battle system is rather dull with no animations and only flashes of color when using PSI attacks. The psychedelic backgrounds from Earthbound do not appear in the first game. What I find especially annoying is if I have my characters hit the same enemy and one of them kills it, the others will hit the air rather than attack a nearby enemy.

Matt

Oooh- like some other old RPGs, like Final Fantasy I and NES Dragon Warrior games. The "hit the air" thing is, to me, a lesser evil than most people might think at first. It's something that takes some getting used to, but honestly, I think that it helps you to pay more attention to combat and forces you to actually learn about your adversaries, actually deepening the strategy level a bit. You can't just get through battles in a system like that by repeatedly pressing the A button while falling asleep and drooling, which is the problem that so many people whine about these days.

Other than those nit picky details, I actually thought it was an excellent game. For starters, it's music is surprisnly catchy and very fitting (though the vocal versions I mentioned earlier help). It also has a deep and original story (original even by today's standards).. In the 1900's, a young couple from a small town mysteriously vanished. Two years later the husband, George reappears. His wife Maria doesn't. For the rest of his life he conducts some strange research, rarely venturing out of his home. 80 years later his great-grandson, Ninten, the main character (who bears a striking resemblance to Ness) finds George's diary and the first part of an eight melody lullaby Over the course of the game he finds the other melodies and learns of the rest of his great-grandparent's story. They were abducted by aliens for two years where Maria raised a baby alien named Geigue. However something happened and both tried to escape. George manages to, but his wife doesn't perhaps either killed or recaptured. Upset with what has happen, Geigue plots to conquer the Earth over the course of 80 years, returning about the time when Ninten starts his quest. Ninten collects eight melodies of a song Maria once sang to Geigue that he hated. This song turns out to be his only weakness.

Matt

Interesting. The ol' baby-turned-bad routine, except with some extraterrestrial twists. I like it.

While playing the game, similarities to Earthbound become very apparent. Aside from Ninten looking an awful lot like Ness, there is also the character/love interest Ana, a girl with blonde hair, psychic powers and wields and a frying pan. The only thing separating her from Paula is that she wears a hat and has pigtails rather than a bow. Before Jeff, there was Lloyd (or Loid as you might find his name in some places). He too uses guns, is a nerdy genius and uses items like bottle rockets. His main physical difference is having white hair. While only three character can be in the party, there is a character somewhat similar to Poo, a gang leader named Teddy. His only similarity though is using a sword. And of course you will find shared music and enemies. Ninten's sister will even store extra items and the game is saved by phone through his absent father, just like Ness.

Despite this, there is still an on-going debate over whether the two games actually take place in the same world. Earthbound takes place in 199X and Mother 1 exactly in 1988. Yet the only thing that actually connects the games plot-wise is the name of the main villains. Giygas' original name is exactly that of Giegues' name. Plus at the end of Mother 1, Geigue swears vengeance on Ninten. It's possible that Gyigas of Earthbound is actually Geigue of Mother 1, having come back and possibly mistaking Ness for Ninten. They are even defeated in the same way: Gyigas' last form can only be defeated by Paul's prayers and Geigue can only be defeated by singing the song and driving him away. However other than this, there are no other mentions to Mother 1. No mentions of character, of events, or even a "something like this happened only a few years ago" from an NPC. The eight melodies of Mother 1 isn't even used as the eight melodies of Earthbound. Of course, this doesn't stop people (like me) from thinking up theories as to how they connect.

Matt

It's a Nintendo franchise, so it might be something similar to Zelda. You know, the whole "lots of different Links" thing? Perhaps the elements of the Mother games are just similar in style in order to invoke nostalgic feelings and some form of continuity between two disjoint games, kind of like the Final Fantasy series, bridged by monsters and spell names. The game sounds really neat! It's a shame we never got to play it here in the first place.

Wow, I didn't think I'd spend this long on an older game that was never really released here. XD Regardless, I thought it would be an interesting change from everyone talking about Twilight Princess or Final Fantasy XII. And I may as well ask a related question: IF Nintendo sees it fit to release Mother 1 (probably as Earthbound: [Enter subtitle here]) on the Wii's virtual console, would you give it a try based on what I told you? After all, if Earthbound performs well on the VC, they might release Mother 1 which in turn may make Nintendo release Mother 3 in some way, shape, or form. And there's still that rumored DS compilation of all three games...

Well anyway, that's all for today. Until next time, thanks for reading!

Matt

Oh, there is no question that I'd be on the Virtual Console in a flash to get it! I would be incredibly excited if it came up, and you would all know about it, too. My love for Earthbound is deep and profound, and if we North Americans were ever graced with another Mother game anytime in the future, a loud whoop will be sounded from my lips.

We can always hope, right?



Forget the PS3... look at how much life the PS2 still has!


Konnichiwa, Matto-san!

Not writing from Japan for the moment, but give me three days and I shall once again be storming the halls of my regular game stores. Ikuzooooooo!

Matt

Konnichiwa yourself! Actually, you're probably back by now, given that you sent this in sometime last week. Welcome home!

I just realized though, Rogue Galaxy's been out in Japan for 6 months now, and the price is verging on what I consider reasonable. About time I picked it up! It really does look nice, no?

Matt

It looks wonderful graphically, and the game's demo was fun to play all those months ago at E3. I would be looking forward to it, except that with so many other new games to play, I don't really have room to buy anything for awhile. (Well, except for Warioware... maybe...)

However, priority is going to a few other games, Dawn of Mana being the frontrunner. This one came out the very day I flew home for the holidays, and the videos in the store were driving me to distraction for the entire week before that. The series looks to have made an awesome translation into 3D, and what I saw of the action was beautiful. The whip skills in particular caught me, when the hero seemed able to snag anything with that weapon, and start spinning it into everything else on screen. Woo-hoo!

Matt

Oh, awesome! Dawn of Mana looks disgustingly gorgeous. Hopefully after the "misses" that the Mana games have faced, this one will be an absolute hit. The series has such incredible potential! Secret of Mana remains one of my favourite games of all time. It would be amazing for a sequel to capture that same feeling with an updated presentation. It sounds like this is very promising!

My second priority game is Atelier Lise, but dunno if that one is coming to the states or not. The Atelier games are just fun, though.

Matt

Eh, they're all right.

But in my ridiculously long list of almost-recent releases that I plan on snatching up, Rogue Galaxy is up there. And not just because VP: Silmeria and Persona 3 remain pretty close to their original prices.

So, Matt, any thoughts on the new VR-oriented MegaMan series and its behind-the-back battle perspective? That one's somewhere on the list as well.

So many games, so little cash...
--Gaijin Monogatari

Matt

You know me by now: It's not a big secret that I love Mega Man, so any announcement of a new series is bound to capture my attention. I haven't really heard many details about it, myself, so it's kind of difficult to say at this point. If it turns out to be a big new RPG, though, you can bet that RPGamer will be on top of it.

Good to hear from you, Gaijin! And I hear you... does anybody have a money tree to pick from for me?



Life's great decisions... in RPGs.


Hey Matt,

As awesome as your stand-ins have been, it's great to see you back.

Matt
The pleasure is all mine, though the people that covered Josh and I over the holidays did a really great job. I'd ask for a round of applause if this were a "live" column, but such as things are, the traditional thanks will have to do.

So here's my question: it seems that on a small, tactical level there are choices to make in many RPGs (e.g., what job to master, what action to take). But that there are very few such existential choices you have to make as a character. Indeed, Chrono Trigger is the only game that comes to mind in which the choices you make (save Chrono or not? forgive Magus or not?) really affect the outcome of the game.

Now, I recognize that in this day and age, hoping for just ONE coherent story (much less several) may seem like a lot to ask. But I'd love to see an RPG that really forced to to make a choice in which you had to sacrifice something to gain something else -- which seems to me to be the majority of important choices in real life. Even if this simply meant that you could only go on one sidequest or another, I think it would be a big improvement. Besides Chrono Trigger, can you recommend any RPGs to me that hinge on such choices?

Thanks for taking my letter. All the best!

Foolicus

Matt
That's a great question. There aren't a lot of games like that out there, either. There are a few games where the actions you decide to take can have a profound effect on things like who comes with you, who can come with you, etc. Chrono Cross, I believe, has that sort of thing, as do the Star Ocean games, though it's nothing like saving Chrono in the original. Fire Emblem games make it feel sometimes like you can really influence the direction of the story, even if you don't in the end, but it doesn't really measure up the same either. A game that you MIGHT want to try out is Radiata Stories, if you haven't already. The game is filled with decisions to make and people to meet, and indeed, the entire plot splits into two at one point of the game. Depending on the decision that you make, you can wind up playing through an entirely different sequence of events, which might be right up your alley.

Let me know if you do give it a try. Though results may vary, Radiata Stories can get boring for some people, so don't say I didn't warn you. And thanks for the interesting letter!



Mmmm. I want a hamburger.


Hey Matt! (Or whoever is answering today <_<)

I had the worst luck this week, I ran over my DS's charger with my computer chair, crushing it. *cries* Now my DS is dead and I can't charge it. So now I have to use the money that I was going to buy Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (an anime just so you know) on a new DS charger. *sigh* That'll teach me to leave my charger on the floor. -_-

What makes it even more a pain is that I was just about finished beating both Dragon Quest Heros Rocket Slime and Castlevania Portait of Ruin. >_< Both awesome games btw.

Matt

Nooo! Luckily, I think you can buy one of those for a small price on its own at most video game stores, so don't fret too much. We all make those mistakes from time to time. Actually, though, my own DS is currently charging on the floor besides my chair, and will promptly be moved up to the desk. Eheheheh...

In other news I'm patiently waiting for Rogue Galaxy to come out with some World of Warcraft (just started playing it again after about a month) and to a lesser extent Xenosaga Ep.3 (which I should be beating, but I died against Citrine because of those 666 attacks of hers. Damn boosts. And I'm a procrastinator <_<).

Matt

Oh, yeah, she was a nasty boss. Be ready with "classic" turn-interrupting boosts for that one, or prepare to meet a grisly, Dragonly death.

And World of Warcraft? Noooo! I can't believe how many people have been absorbed into the void of WoW now...didn't they pass 8 million last week? That more than one in every thousand people on EARTH. Disgusting!

Anyway, I should leave you with a question right? Here's a couple: Have you ever had a interesting situation where you accidentaly broke a gaming accessory or something? And are you into anime and manga? If so what ones?

Neo Turbo (call me turbo though)
Alberta (land of beef ^_^ lol)

p.s. I'll do my best to write in more often from now on, so be prepared. <_<

Matt
Huh. I haven't really had a gaming-related accident to that degree, to be honest. Of course, there have been a couple of times where I've jostled a portable system and dropped it on the floor. You know those "nooooooooooooooooooo" moments when the world moves in slow motion, and you extend any body part possible in order to try and soften the blow? Thankfully, my GBA and DS have lived on through many little accidents like that. Controllers are easy to drop, too, and one of my favourite things to do is to yell at careless family members who drop them onto the hardwood floor back at home with a sickening crash. Grr. But, I don't recall a single accident that caused the death of a device, no.

As for anime and manga? I'm really not that into it. It's not that I don't LIKE it or anything; I just haven't been snagged. I love the style, and seeing familiar video game characters depicted in anime-style fanart is fun. But I've never really gotten familiar with any series or anything. It's a good thing, too, because damn, I don't have enough time for my current hobbies as it is.

Thanks for writing, my fellow Canadian. Send over an Albertan steak sometime, and I'll give you some Ontario... uh... smog... in return.



QUICKIES

No quickies today! I searched the mailbox top to bottom, and alas, there weren't any to speak of. Send!

MOGNET MAIL

Lots of mail today! If you'd like to send me some Mogmail, too, 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 letters you like!

What is your favourite character class in FFIII?

Blottieb

Matt
Oh, that's an awfully difficult question! There are a lot of fantastic fighting classes to choose from, but just for the creativity, I just have to go with the Scholar. I know they're not the most useful class, but it's just TOO satisfying to club monsters over the head repeatedly with books.

Never thought I'd like playing F with a stylus, but here I am. Most useful in the battle menu. Which do you prefer: buttons or stylus?

Mags

Matt
I didn't think I would either, but the touchscreen controls are just magical. By the end of the game, I used a combination of the two! I use the stylus for moving around the map screen and in the menu screen as well, but I find myself using buttons more often in battle and sometimes when I'm searching for treasures or talking to people. Strange, I know.



IN CLOSING

So, what do you think about the new Final Fantasy XIII details? Is the game reason enough for you to think about investing in a PS3? I mentioned it a bit in the forums, without reaction, but I think that the plot sounds somewhat parallel to that of Final Fantasy III! Given that FFXII had some obvious parallels to FFII, too, does that mean we'll be shooting for the moon once FFXIV comes out (assuming it does)? It's time to discuss!



Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: Not happy.



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt did not fulfill his weekend objective...


What a disaster area! It's time to clean my desk. Yeah, the column is finished... come back tomorrow.

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