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ASK BOOJUM & MATT
Rule of Index Finger
January 23, 2007

Boojum - 15:28 EST

WELCOME TO QUATRAINS & ALLUSIONS, your daily dose of obscure poetry discussion. Today we've got lined up for you a fresh analysis of Lewis Carroll's classic "Jabberwocky", as well as a retrospective on the development of Edgar Allen Poe's unique style over the course of his career. To start off with -

What is it?! I'm trying to do my intro here! What do you mean that's not what Q&A stands for?! I'm supposed to talk about what?! Oh, fine.

Well, apparently, I was misinformed, and I'm actually supposed to be talking about these arrpeejee things that are all the rage these days. Guess we may as well get started




LETTERS
Wiissues


I hear ya on the Wii accessories thing Matt. I haven't been able to find anything outside of a classic controller, which are either in abundant supply or people just aren't needing them, and yeah it's especially frustrating to not be able to get any Wii-motes right now since my parents have taken a liking to Wii sports. However, if it comes down to me playing Zelda and them taking turns playing bowling, well call me a horrible son but I'm choosing me playing Zelda every time.

Boojum

Hey, at least you have your system - I'm still waiting for it to show up in stores again. That said, it's a really surprising oversight on Nintendo's part not to have adequate controller supplies. Given that, with the exception of Zelda, most of the best-looking launch games are mini-game/multiplayer focused (such as Wii Sports, Rayman, and Monkey Ball), you'd think they'd expect plenty of people to be picking up extra controllers to play with their friends. On a similar note, the supplies of Wii component video cables were way too low to meet the initial demand, which also makes it look like they may have misjudged their market, at least for the launch.

Last time I wrote in I said that Nintendo would milk the peripherals for all they are worth and you disagreed with me, and not that I like being wrong, but seriously, where the hell is a play and charge kit, I'm on my 3rd set of batteries since I got my Wii for Christmas and batteries aren't exactly cheap! I heard you are supposed to get 50 hours per set but I've gone through 2 sets after 40 hours of Zelda has battery life been a problem for you?

Boojum

Hmm, would a Play & Charge even work for the Wii? With the 360, it's easy enough to plug the controller in while playing, but I would think that would get in the way of waving the controller around. That does seem like a disappointingly low battery life. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I've gotten used to the Wavebird and my Logitech wireless PS2 controller lasting 60-80 hours on a pair of batteries. I guess it's possible that the motion-sensing gear, speaker, etc. cut down on the battery life. While I don't have any firsthand experience with it, I will say that I walked into Gamestop last week and tried to play their Wii demo kiosk, only to find out that all four of their controllers had dead batteries, and they were out of spares. I guess all things considered, it's not too bad. Batteries can be pretty cheap if you avoid the name brands (40-pack for $10 or so at Costco), so I'm not going to worry too much about spending a dollar per 40 hours of play. Plus which, this is probably all a ploy so a year down the road, Nintendo can sell us the Wii-mote SP with a rechargeable battery and better speaker quality.

Matt

I'd be all for a charge kit of some sort, because going through batteries does get annoying, doesn't it? That said, I've been playing the crap out of my Wii since Christmas, and I just changed the batteries on Controller #1 for the second time. That's not too bad, I think.

As for the whole FFXII being great but not perfect because of the plot deal, maybe in the future it will be an issue when I go to replay it but after playing Xenosaga III, Tales of the Abyss, .hack//GU and Valkyrie Profile 2 right before FFXII came out it felt kind of refreshing to have a plot that was simple but had a cinematic quality to it not found in the other games I just mentioned. I mean, yeah it's not going to win awards for best plot of all time, nor does it have anywhere near the scope of XS III's universe encompassing storyline but it's also nowhere near as convoluted, and I also don't have to read a massive database of text just to get backstory and definitions of terminology just to understand even some of the smaller points. I'm not trying to say XS III is any less of a game because of the convoluted nature of the story, as the story is virtually the only incentive to playing it, because let's face it, if you take away the plot of XS III you'll find that the gameplay is incredibly dated.

Boojum

I would tend to agree with you on FFXII. I'd rather play a game with excellent gameplay and a so-so plot than vice versa. While I still have quite a ways to go on it, it does seem that the majority of the emphasis was placed on crafting an engrossing gameplay experience, with a bit less on character development. Ideally, we'd have both, of course, but that's depressingly rare. Unfortunately, I haven't played any of the games you're comparing it to yet. As a card-carrying retrogamer, however, I'm going to have to take exception with that last comment. Traditional-style RPGs have lasted as long as they have because the core gameplay style is fun if executed well. Naturally, there are plenty of games where it's not executed effectively, or nothing interesting is done with it, but simply being dated doesn't necessarily make the gameplay any worse - in order to be a good game, it's not a requirement to reinvent the wheel. That's not to say there's anything wrong with more out-there game designs - Baten Kaitos is my second-favorite RPG of the current generation. However, I do think that there's room for both classical and experimental designs. Obviously, not having played XS III, for all I know there are other glaring flaws in its gameplay independent of being dated.

I think in the long run people will see that focusing on the gameplay for FFXII over the plot was definitely the right decision by the dev team. If you look at all the games people remember as the "greats" from the past you'll see that FFXII's plot is no worse than Chrono Trigger's or Secret of Mana's, which both had pretty basic plots but got by on a combination of great gameplay, character and heart, which I do believe FFXII has an immense amount of in every department. People just need to stop nagging on minor flaws and making asinine comments like "FFXII sucks because Vaan isn't the main focus"(which is a quite common thing to hear) and look at things as a whole. You don't look at a human being with a bad hair cut and think "wow that guy has the worst hair ever, he must be a terrible human being", so I don't see how people justify doing it about games, yet it's incredibly common to take a minor flaw in a game and use it as a starting point for why it's the "worst game ever"

Boojum

Agreed. While an intricate, well-crafted plot is one of the ways that a game can be enjoyable, it's by no means necessary. In addition to your points, both of your examples also have the advantage of excellent music, which is always a big plus. From what I've heard so far, FFXII does a good job in that area as well. I don't really care whether the character that you start with is the focus of the story throughout the whole game. However, one complaint I've heard that might have some validity (again, I haven't gotten far enough yet to be sure), is that the player is more of an observer than an active participant in the story, with plot events kind of happening around the party rather than being driven by their actions. Fighting your way through a difficult dungeon seems to have more weight if the result of the expedition impacts the plot in some way - I like to feel that my characters are heroes that are making a difference in the world rather than just helpless pawns.

So, I guess I got on a bit of a rant there, sorry. One last thing though, FFXII is definitely my game of the year, I'm really enjoying Zelda right now(just finished all the side stuff and have the last dungeon to do) but I feel that the dungeon design took a major down turn in the second half of the game(the ice mansion and temple of time especially) and that the boss fights, while epic, are entirely too easy, but then again it's always been that way in Zelda games. It's certainly a great game, but as a whole I think it just lacks that something to make it a true classic like LTTP or OoT as TP is starting to give me that "deja vu" vibe as I am finding myself wanting them to do something new, I have no idea what, but that feeling like I've done all of this before has been prevalent for me all throughout my 40 hours of time spent playing it. I haven't been reading up on what the general consensus on the game is but does it feel that way to you or anyone else you know that's played it?

Boojum

I don't have my copy yet, and the only person I know who does hasn't complained about any of that, so I'm not sure how common of a sentiment it is. I did notice a similar feeling in at least one review of the game (the one in Edge magazine). They said that it felt like the designers went out of the way to include as many elements from previous games in the series as possible, and that the balance of familiar to new was off as a result. I've read a couple other reviews, and don't remember noticing any more of that feeling, so take it as you will. Thanks for writing in!

Matt

I don't know. I don't buy the argument, myself, because I've played through the first two dungeons and truly enjoyed it. There's a lot of brand new, creative gameplay and all sorts of innovative items already, and I'm obviously still early in the game. Maybe my opinion will change by the end, but we'll have to wait and see!



You know, I (Matt) slept for nine and a half hours last night... and I'm still feeling exhausted.


Good to see you matt, i hope you are doing well.

Well i have completed phantasy star universe and i have to say that game sucked really bad, because it has the most boring battle system i have ever played, only oblivion had a battle system that was even worst then PSU's. and the dungeuns where horrible because you did the same thing over and over and over again and that was getting those stupid key cards. but it had one good thing and that was the story and it was very well put to together, but aside from that the game had many bugs and such. but the game sucked really bad and it was the worst JRPG i have ever played and i mean that.

Matt

That's too bad! I know that Phantasy Star is a series that a lot of people (especially Sega fans) feel a lot of nostalgia for. I hadn't really heard anything about PSU until now, since I certainly haven't played it. What does everyone else have to say?

Well i have also completed FF12 and that was a really awesome game, one of the best i have played this year but i totally agree with you on the story thing, i never found out why penelo was with them it made no sense to me, and the marks gave you no good reward and i have done 44 of them. but i really liked the battle system at first but i got really bored with it because the magic is useless and summons are useless and mist attacks are also useless in the end.

Matt

Well, I don't know. I'm actually finding that as I've played, magic has become more and more essential, and now spells like Thundaga, Darkga, and Drain are all on some of my characters' gambit lists. Espers are indeed useless as far as I can see, though they look cool. Quickenings are okay for emergencies, but by the end, they're too expensive for what they do. So, more or less, I pretty much think the same way that you do.

But still it was a very good game, and the dungeuns where very good and the maps where fun to explore, and i liked having all the extra bosses and espers to get, but i was having a blast playing the game and one night when i was off work i decided to not go to bed and i was up for about 28hours and playing FF12 like crazy and i loved it, and when i came back to work they where asking me why i looked so tired after having a break from work, and i said well i was playing alot of FF12.

Matt

I think that most of us have had that experience at one point or another. I'll tell you something... there's a reason that I've feeling especially yawny during my past supervisor meetings for my Master's work, though I don't confess to why I'm feeling that way. Somehow, I'm guessing that "I was playing video games until 5:12 last night, tee-hee!" wouldn't go over so well...

And guess what one of them said (get a life) well i would agree that if you where playing 12hours a day nomally that would be very bad, but the fact remains that i was having a blast and that is why it was a very good thing to do, and you have got to remember that life is about enjoying yourself and having (a life) is not working or something else, it is doing what you enjoy and you go to school or work and work your ass off to get to have your house or apartment and to fond you hobbies such as gaming or sport etc. this is have i define (having a life) what is your definement of (having a life)?

Matt

Sure, I think that you've got it right. Having a life? I think that means "Do what you enjoy doing most, but keep yourself healthy in the process." In other words, if you're sick, get some sleep. Eat your vegetables. See a dentist once a year. Get some exercise every now and then. Have a couple of good friends. But do a variety of the things you love. And hey, if you love to do eight-hour marathons of your favourite video game, then do so! I do. I wish I could more often, to be more exact.

And i have also started playing FF3 now and i really like it, my party is this:

Theif: level37
Black Mage: level29
White Mage: level29
Warrior:level30

I was thinking about replaceing my black mage with a scholer, is that a good move? is scholer any good?

Matt

Scholars aren't fantastic. Their books are great fun to attack with, but their abilities are limited. You get to Scan enemies with them, and they can learn low level white and black magic. Red Mages can do the same things, since they have the ability to cast Libra, plus they have access to a wider variety of magic, plus they have better attack power, in all likelihood. Hmm, according to the instruction manual, items used by scholars are also twice as effective. Meh, I don't know. Give them a try if you feel like it.

Well i have to go now so i will see you later.

Welcome back matt it is awesome having you back.

Take Care Matt.

grandiaerbest.

Matt

Thanks very much for your letter. Good luck with Final Fantasy III!



Feel like procrastinating? Write to Q&A!


Heya Matt!

Boojum

Hey MagRowan!

I am ever so sorry for slacking in my participation duties as a Q&A reader. I shall throw in my lame excuse of a major code deadline coming up by the end of this week. Though I am still in code crunch, I decided to take a break and do a little write in to ease my conscience and to procrastinate. ;)

Boojum

Good choice! RPGs should always be a much higher priority than mundanities like work or school ;).

So, enough of that, I want to share what I got for Christmas (aside from 4ft of snow)! :) Sadly enough, no new consoles for me, bummer. I did get a lot of games though. My family knows what I like. ^_^ RPG-wise I got FF III (as evidenced by the moogle mail), Contact, Pokemon Mysterious Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team, Xenosaga III, Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC version), and Final Fantasy XII. Boy, now I'll never finish my load of games!

Boojum

Wow, that's quite a haul there. Good luck getting through it. My "gaming" present is still pending at the moment (my wife is getting us a Wii as soon as it's back in stores), so my holidays were spent chipping away at the backlog rather than starting anything new.

Final Fantasy III is my next portable game to tackle once I finish up FF:IVA (still going at it). I'm thinking either my new Zelda or Xenosaga II (since I haven't done that one yet) for regular console. What do you think?

Boojum

Hmm, how recently did you play Xenosaga I? If it's still fairly fresh in your memory, you might want to finish the series before you forget too many details. Otherwise, I'd go with Zelda. There are certain to be lots of people talking about it for the next couple of months, and if you play it first, you can join in.

I've been falling behind in my own games though, cause I've been helping my sis with her Christmas games. She got her own versions of Super Smash Bros Melee and Soul Caliber II (GC), so we've been unlocking characters and features like mad. :D

Boojum

Very nice, those are both excellent games, and the only two fighting game series that I've ever really gotten into (well, those and Powerstone). I remember trying some of those challenges in SSBM about 30 times before I finally managed to get them right.

Matt

Me toooo. Super Smash Brothers Brawl might be the death of me, if Melee was any indication of Smash's tendency to addict me so.

Anyway, enough of that! I have to tell you though, I'm thrilled about the announcement of KHII:FM+ coming to America, especially with the addition of a partial remake of KH:COM. Yeah, I know that I've already got and beaten both games, but yeay for new content (and graphics in the case of COM)! You don't think it's weird that I'm anxious to by the same game over again do you? I can't be the only one with the urge to buy things again just for some new content...

Boojum

I'm glad to see that it's coming here too. I never played either KH2 or COM, so being able to pick up improved versions of both of them at once is fairly attractive. I don't think I would consider it if I had already played the original games, but if the extra content is worth a second purchase, then more power to you. Given the recent spate of FF handheld ports, I certainly don't think you're alone in being willing to pay for games twice.

Shoot, come to think of it, I'm planning to get FFVI:A and have already got some of the remakes of the other FF's for different consoles. Okay... I admit it, I'm a sucker for game companies' ploys to suck more dollars out of us with rehashed games. *sigh* Time to go turn in my gaming decoder ring...

Boojum

Uh . . . hehe, guess I should have finished reading your letter before writing that last response. Anyway, I have nothing against "cash-in" ports and re-releases (whether enhanced versions of current games or revivals of classics), as long as they don't prevent the company from putting out original material as well. As with any new game, I'll read reviews and see if it looks like it warrants a purchase. If not, I haven't lost anything by its existence, and hopefully the company will put the profits back toward making other games that might appeal to me more.

Well, back to the dreaded code! I've procrastinated long enough!

Have a good one!
MagRowan ^_^

Boojum

You too! Good luck with your code, and thanks for procrastinating.



Addressing Hot Topics.


Dear Matt

It's been ages, hasn't it? Well, if you need any more letters, I can shoot you one.

Matt

And I'm glad to be on the receiving end. What's up?

1. Square Enix + PSP = BFF??

I don't know about BFF, but the release of Final Fantasy Origins on PSP for the series' 20th anniversary does show something (I say "Origins" instead of "Dawn of Souls" because it would likely include the same cinemas as the PS1 game). Still, I assume that PSP owners may be a little less than overjoyed by this announcement. They'd probably prefer a port of FFVII instead of FFO. Come to think of it, 2007 is the tenth anniversary of FFVII, isn't it? Then I say that if Square really wants to buddy up with PSP fans, they should release a port of FFVII for the PSP as a tenth anniversary celebration of the game, in addition to the series' twentieth anniversary release of FFO on the PSP. Would that make sense?

Matt

Sure it would, but it wouldn't make me happy. I'm not really sure what Square Enix is up to, but their strategy is in stark contrast to what it used to be before about five years ago. We're seeing them support just about every system on the market, and while that's good for gamers of all stripes, it's also bad, because damn, I don't want to have to buy every single darn system out there! Between FF I&II, the Final Fantasy Tactics remake, and Crisis Core, they are throwing a lot of support towards the PSP. Not quite as much as they are lending the DS, but still, it's a significant amount. I don't know what to think.

I do think that a Final Fantasy VII announcement is not far away. I really do. I can FEEL it. But, we'll have to wait and see. And if it is announced for one of the new-gen consoles, that title alone could shed light on who will emerge the "champion" of the console war.

2. Final Fantasy XII: Yay or Nay?

Yay. Definitely yay.

Matt

Yay!

3. Console Wars: Who is destined for glory and failure?

By the looks of the current state, it's a dead ringer between the Xbox 360 and Wii, but MANY things can change in the next few years. I'll stick my usual practice of not getting a new console until about two or so years into the new console war's lifespan to see which is the most worthwhile (and possibly benefit from price drops). Yeah, I'll fall further behind the times, but hey, I can't get everything that I want.

Matt

Besides, if you're anything like me, you have lots of catching-up to do from the last generation anyway. I don't blame you in the least.

4. Wait, wait, the PS2 era isn't over yet! Upcoming PS2 RPGs.

Not just upcoming, there are dozens of PS2 games from years ago that I want to play (there are half a dozen of these from the previous year alone)! Furthermore, I'm planning on getting my PS2 modded in the near future to play Japanese-exclusive RPGs. I'm confident enough in my ability to read the language now to consider doing it. That's all the more reason not get a next-gen console just yet, as the opportunities that a modded PS2 opens up are huge. I am aware that the PS3 a backwards compatible and region-free, but until the bugs on those features are FULLY stomped AND the PS3 library improves, a modded PS2 is lot more attractive then buying a PS3 right now.

Matt

It's true. There is a somewhat long list of titles with irritating bugs from the "backwards compatible" list, and that list happens to include all of the Final Fantasy games from the PS1 era. For example, I think that the camera-panning-into-battle goes black or something in FFVIII, and that's just something that would get to be really grating for me, even if it doesn't really affect gameplay at all. It's like trying to enjoy a nice steak dinner with a loud mosquito buzzing nearby: Yeah, the mosquito doesn't affect how the dinner tastes, but there's no question that it would be better if mosquito were absent.

And congratulations on the Japanese-skills. I envy you greatly.

And a question: What's your take on all this HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray movie "format wars" going on, and why is it that gamers care so much about it?

Alan

Matt

Because gamers have been sucked into the damn debate by Sony, primarily. Gaming never used to be about format wars. It all started when games started changing over to CDs from cartridges, and it's just escalated since then. Now, based on some forums out there, you'd think that the game format was more important than the game itself. To me, that's like caring more about the plate on which the steak dinner is served than the steak itself. Does that make any sense at all? No! It doesn't.

That said, it appears that despite the PlayStation 3's woes, Blu-Ray is making more headway in the needless war. I've started to see commercials for movies on Blu-Ray, but I haven't really heard anything about HD-DVDs at all. I don't think it's necessarily true that Blu-Ray's success will boost PlayStation 3 sales, though, and it's way too early to tell. Frankly, I don't understand the need for a new format in the first place. Call me an old fogey, but when I rent a movie, I watch the movie and don't care about special features as it is. What can they possibly do with the mass of extra space on a Blu-Ray disc that I would care about? Likely not much.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on the matter. Growr. Thanks, Alan, for your letter!



Well, howdy-doo to you too.


See, heres the thing. Black friday cleaned most stores out. Launch day cleaned most stores out. Christmas kept people at the stores pretty much everyday. If you were to go back random days of the week about 3 times a week, you'd have found Wii's, nunchucks, and remotes. And when i was there on launch day, They had a very large amount of remotes, and they had an equal amount of nunchucks. but going back to stores in general. if u live in a town that no1 else but u and ur friends know exist, ur not getting the mass supply of the Wii's and their acesories. And, the best yet, My grandfather went to Wal-mart yesterday, and guess waht he got me? A NUNCHUCK!! and u know wut they had at this same wal-mart? NINTENDO WIIS! as there was a period where getting ur hands on them was impossible, it wasnt as long as most people think. the systems and controllers were there, and people bought them from having asked. no1 knew when the shipment would come. they just knew when they got there which is why they could never tell you when. There was a controller shortage, but you should have been smart enough to buy some controllers when u bought ur system. like the people throwing their controlers through the screen, that is user error.

Matt

All right, buddy. First of all, I wasn't there on launch day; I had work to do. I received my Wii for Christmas, thanks, apparently because I was on Santa's good list. So it's not really that I'm not smart enough LOL, tho I've broken like 17 TV sets allready!!! Note: The implied insults aren't becoming of your writing, so please refrain.

Secondly, Guelph is not a place that "only me n my friends know exist." It's a city of 120,000 people. It's a fact that around here, Wiis have been nearly impossible to obtain. I was in EB Games last week, and there was a lineup of eleven people- eleven- waiting in line to get a new console. This is two months after the release of the system, and it looked as if it were launch day!

I've been back to stores multiple times in past weeks, and one thing is for sure: Controllers are not easy to find in the least. And I have all sorts of other letters in my inbox on the subject, to back me up.

I got a letter from Sabin, an RPGamer staffer, on the subject (thanks, Sabin!), and he says that it's because of the controller strap recall that they're so hard to find. I still say that if that is so, Nintendo has the responsibility to step up and provide as fast as they possibly can. If a console's appeal depends on its controller, actually having an extra kicking around might be useful. Single-player Wii Sports gets old quickly, after all.



Sixth of the day.


hey slimey,

Last time I wrote in I rambled on about my love of DragonQuest, this time will be alittle different (maybe). I'm going to try and address every one of the subjects you've touched on in last time's closing!

Boojum

Sounds like a plan. Let's get to it.

First up: Next-gen consoles! I do own an Xbox360, no Wii or PS3 is in my near future. As with other writers, my main concern with next-gen is the price point. I just can't see myself spending so much on the PS3. The Wii....well I just see much in it right now. I'm sure down the road it'll have some amazingly high quality titles akin to the gamecube.

Boojum

Agreed. The wait-and-see attitude is often the best one to take with new systems. You can wait until manufacturing quirks have been resolved, plenty of good games are available, and the price has come down. Especially in the case of the PS3, which strikes me as drastically overpriced and lacking in quality games so far. That will certainly change over time, but whether it'll be enough to catch up to the 360 is anyone's guess. I plan to get one or the other of them, and will be waiting to see how their lineups look a ways down the road. At the moment, the only game that looks like it might tempt me to commit sooner is Mass Effect, which looked absolutely amazing at E3. Since both the 360 and the PS3 look like they're both occupying the same niche, and quite a few titles will be cross-platform, I don't expect to get both (well, maybe at the very end of their lifecycles, when the PS4 is on the horizon and they've gotten drastically cheaper). As for the Wii, I feel more comfortable committing to it earlier, both given the low price and the fact that it offers a different experience with no direct competitors.

Next is xmas. I got a gift card to ebgames and promptly emptied its coffers. I picked up mostly RPGs and a few non RPGs. the list is as follows:

Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter - It was $8, I mean come on, i had to. i have all other BoF's and just never got this one out of sloth.

Dragon Warrior VII - played a friend's copy awhile ago and found it interesting. Imagine my surprise when EBgames had a fresh trade-in sitting in their bin! Expensive but still less than I saw it on amazon going for. Im in love with it as i play. 50 hours in and only lvl 23! Im playing it slow, dont want it to end.

Godhand - I heard some really mixed reviews on this baby, but I'm having a blast being stupid in that game.

Devil May Cry 5th Anniversary - Ive never played the series and this was the best time to start, eh?

As you may have seen, along with DragonQuest, I'm a hopeless Capcom fan (Megaman Legends and Tron Bonne forever!!!!)

Boojum

I also snagged Dragon Quarter and Dragon Warrior VII when I saw them for cheap, but they're both still sitting in my backlog. Liking the other Breath of Fire games doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be a fan of Dragon Quarter, though, since by all accounts it's a huge departure for the series. I've also been eying that Devil May Cry box set, since I've never tried the series. Unfortunately, I'm only so-so at action/combat games (still haven't managed to beat God of War or Viewtiful Joe), and I've heard that that's a particularly tough series. Never even heard of Tron Bonne.

Onto overrated/underrated games! Most underrated RPG has to be Romancing SaGa IMO. It holds way more freedom than most western rpgs! then again this may be why most people abhor the series. Most overrated....right now i have to stick with the good old FFVII here. People's oppinions are changing with all the new FFVII stuff coming out, seeing it with less clout as before. dont get me wrong, I played it and liked it but the steampunk setting was strange (which is really strange considering my penname!). I much more preferred the mystic fantasy of FFIX.

Boojum

Hmm, having heard nothing but bad things about the SaGa series, I've never actually played one. I may have to give it a shot now, if it emphasizes freedom. Probably my all-time favorite RPG is Fallout 2, which gives the player a huge amount of freedom, so hopefully it can do something similar. As far as other underrated games go, I'd have to give a nod to Secret of Evermore. Quite a few people seem to despise it because it was made in the US and released instead of Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2), but I always thought it was a pretty fun game. It had a colorful and unique setting, tried-and-true action-RPG gameplay, and an inventive alchemy-based magic system. While it didn't quite reach the classic stature of Secret of Mana, it's still a fun romp, and well worth playing.

I have to agree with you on FFVII being overrated. Being a big fan of the SNES installments, I was really looking forward to it when it came out, but I didn't think it held up quite as well once I played it. My memories of the visual style are getting a bit hazy, but I didn't really think of VII as having a steampunk setting - it seemed more like dark future-tech as compared to the steam-age vibe of VI (with steam-trains, pipes and valves, gadgets, etc.) That said, my main gripes with VII were with the gameplay, particularly the way that the reduction to three-character parties cut down on possible tactics, the fact that the characters weren't really differentiated in terms of their abilities, and the constant delays for loading and for over-long spell animations. It's still a reasonably good game (I'd give it 3/5), and it deserves a lot of credit for being the first real mainstream RPG and introducing so many people to the genre, but it really felt like a case of one step forward, two steps back for the series. I'm just now getting close to the end of IX for the first time, and it is fun to return to the mystic fantasy setting. I've got nothing against other types of settings either, though - it's always nice to have a variety of possible settings available.

Another game that strikes me as overrated is Tales of Symphonia. I bought it after seeing rave reviews, and haven't been able to motivate myself to move past about the 15-20 hour mark. While I like the graphical style and the characters are fairly interesting, the plot seems fairly dull and predictable, and the battle system just isn't holding my interest, due to the drawn-out button-mashy battles that don't require any real tactical decisions and the emphasis on AI characters.

Ive been lazy and disinterested in FFXIII due to the future-esque setting so I dont have a formulated opinion right now, sorry.

Boojum

The future setting doesn't bother me, but what they've shown so far is just so vague and lacking in gameplay details that there's really no meat to get excited about yet. As far as PS3 RPGs go, White Knight is looking much more intriguing to me based on what they've shown so far, but Mass Effect for the 360 looks like it could be better than either.

Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP is so far down on my radar that even the amazing manlyness of Balthier cant sway me (he rivals Big Boss and Haggar for most badass male character...). how hes going to fit into the story as an actual character is beyond me unless they completely change the game's calender so that it now takes place in the same time.

Boojum

Well, I don't have a PSP, and I do have the original FFT, so there's approximately zero chance of me buying the system for a port of a game I already have, particularly when my portable gaming time is so admirably filled by my DS.

2007 RPGs! Rogue Galaxy is going to be so much fun. It looks cliche and all that but sometimes a familiar walk in new shoes isnt so bad. Im not really a Wild Arms fan and Ive already played Kingdom Hearts II (horribly by the way, but thats due to my dislike of Nomura).

Boojum

Rogue Galaxy is definitely near the top of my list for this year. Level 5 hasn't let us down yet, and I see no reason to think that they will this time. I picked up Wild Arms 3 and 4 because I saw them for really cheap, but they're both still sitting in my backlog, so I'm not in a hurry for 5. I haven't touched KH2 yet, so if I decide to play it, I'll wait for the re-release. The other main RPGs on my radar are Hellgate London, which looks like the spiritual successor to the Diablo series that I've wanted for years, Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn, Persona 3, and Mass Effect (though I still haven't decided whether to bite the bullet and get a 360 for it or not). Other than that, I don't know if BioWare's Dragon Age or Obsidian's new project will make it out in 2007, but I'll be interested if they do.

For new sequals.....hmmm, thats a tough one. It goes down to a new MegaMan Legends or Zone of the Enders. Neither is an RPG per se but of RPGs they seem to make sequals enough for my taste. If Inafune ever does make a new MML i really hope they keep the visual style and playstyle of the first two, just alot bigger.

Boojum

Never played either of those, though I've been hearing good things about MML. It seems like most current franchises are getting sequels at a decent rate, so I'll dig back a bit further in time and ask for a sequel to Ogre Battle, a new side-scrolling Metroid (since Dread seems to have dropped off the radar entirely), and Fallout 3 (Bethesda has the rights, but there hasn't been a peep out of them about it).

Matt

Oh, I would be extremely excited if a new sidescrolling Metroid were announced! Great idea. Wow. Now I'm all hopeful...

On second thought, an actual sequal to Phantom Brave would make me very happy (and very sad after the games completion. very sad game). its my favorite NIS game due to the moving story and meloncholy atmostphere. A proper sequal would be really nice.

Boojum

Unfortunately, due to the dreaded backlog monster, the only NIS game I've managed to play all the way through so far is La Pucelle, but I have started Phantom Brave, and enjoyed what I've played. I'd also love to see a sequel that cleaned up some of the quirks with the gridless system.

Anything on my mind eh.... So much DragonQuest love for the DS that my head is spinning! whats your take on IX, would you rather they didnt change the combat? whats your concern about the audio relative to VIII's? Is Joker going to be better than IX somehow?

-Steampunk

Boojum

I'm thrilled as always to have more RPGs to play on my DS. As far as IX goes, my feelings are mixed. With the team behind it, I have every confidence that it'll be a great experience, and I have every intention of buying it. At the same time, however, the Dragon Quest series has always sort of been the standard-bearer for classical gameplay, so I'm a bit disappointed to see that portion of its identity go away, and hope that it's not a sign for the genre as a whole. The audio doesn't really worry me. While the orchestrated music in DQ8 was great, I still regularly listen to SNES soundtracks, so returning to a more synth-style sound isn't a big deal for me. As far as whether Joker or IX will be better, it's too early to say, but I'm looking forward to both of them. Thanks for writing in, Steampunk!

Matt

I echo just about everything you say, Boojum, but I do want to say that DQIX looks far better, to me, than Joker. The past Dragon Quest Monsters games have been, well, "fine" but nothing to write home about. While this one looks pretty, and I'd jump at the opportunity to play it, I, personally, am looking forward to the next main-series-entry way more. I'm actually not quite convinced that they're going to localize Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker at this point, either. Time will tell, there.



QUICKIES

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MOGNET MAIL

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IN CLOSING

That's about all for today, guys! Thanks to Boojum for a splendifferous job as always- we still have two or three co-hosts plus a full host from him, thanks to his big SOCK win. I've been working a bit on Sock2.0 lately... hopefully that will start sometime in April or May. I'm looking forward to it!

Now, I'm excited to announce that I've finished Final Fantasy III DS, and that the final dungeon is about the most sadistic that Square Enix has ever concocted. What say you? Also, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on virtual console?! You'd better believe that I've downloaded it and started playing. You might not believe that I've never owned it before in any form, either. What are your thoughts?

I'll see you all again tomorrow!



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