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ASK MATT
Office Hours
January 24, 2007

Matt Demers - 15:28 EST

SO, IT'S BECOME quite clear. I need to get working on my thesis in earnest, and I need to start now. With the majority of a semester left to finish it in, it's easy to put it off, only working a few hours per day on things. But now, I'm starting to sweat. I don't like being sweaty.

This only means badness for my gaming life, of course. I would absolutely love to just sit and mindlessly play my huge load of games that require playing, but at this point in my life, that isn't very realistic. Why can't I just have some long-lost uncle fall dead, leaving his inheritance to me? It's so unfair. Sigh.

In other news, some random old man came up to me today at the gym and told me that I was the spittin' image of his wife's cousin's son, and then asked if my last name was Klein. After I said no, I couldn't help but be reminded of Final Fantasy VI's "spittin' image" mini-plotline involving Celes and Maria. Tee-hee.

Anyway, time to letter-answer!




LETTERS
Yes, this is still backlog from last week! Beware: FFXII spoilers near the top.


Hi Matt,

Sorry I haven't written in a long time. Here I am helping with your inbox problem.

1 - Lets start with... FFXII. I finished this game a long time ago. Feels like it was forever ago. I did... about half the extra content or so. I don't recall learning anything about the cast at all during it. I see the side quests in the game as merely a training ground for beating the game's uber enemies – Omega MK II and Mark #45. Anyone remember how long it took to train to be able to kill Shinryu, and Omega in FF5, Emerald and Ruby Weapons in VII, Omega/Ultima (forget which) in VIII, Ozma (?) in IX, or anything in the arena in X? The last mark has... 50 million HP. A battle that will spawn many hours even when fully prepared. These tasks, as always, will be the goal of the truly hardcore. For me? Maybe. A friend of mine is giving me his level 99 party to play around with. Well when he finishes them, that is (93 currently). I'll see then...

Anyone manage to get a Zodiak Spear without looking in guides, faqs, or being told about it? Damn stupid requirements if you ask me. At least in Chrono Trigger they warned you not to touch the chests! (Sealed with a blue light... or some such)

Matt

Heh, no. All of the bonuses and most secret stuff are completely over my head. I haven't looked online for them at all; the only things I know are from things I've run into accidentally at different websites, or from readers who have blabbed on about them. I don't really care at this point, since I'm two steps from the end of the game.

Final Fantasy games have often had really insanely hard-to-find secrets, though. Think of finding all character cards in FFVIII and Doomtrain the ridiculous GF, or finding Excalibur2 in FFIX.

2 - Next Gen consoles. I own a Wii. I use it to play my GC games (my cousin smashed my GC a while ago). I play Zelda, but not in love with it. I spend way too much time on VC games, but usually till I get bored, annoyed or beat the games. I need to try a lot of them, but man, do they ever get pricey! Good buy in my books. I desperately want a PS3, but I know I have no money for one at the moment (damn you tuition)... and the lack of a library scares me off too. But it looks amazing – a must have for the average gamer. Or will be. Eventually.

Matt

Ah, there aren't too many Virtual Console games out there that appeal to me so far. I have exactly three: Super Mario Bros, F-Zero, and Zelda: Link to the Past, as of yesterday. I'm toying with the idea of getting the original Zelda, since I've never finished it before, but we'll just have to see if I can cope with my 717 other games first.

I'm pleased with the Wii too, though a few issues still bother me. I feel like the controllers, despite being awesome, are a bit overpriced. And while there are many games in development for the system, Nintendo could have truly dominated if they had chosen to release a little bit more within the first few months. Zelda is great, but it won't carry the system on its shoulders forever, and anyway, wasn't Metroid Prime 3 originally supposed to be a launch title?

As for the PS3, I say "might be, eventually". I can't say that it will be a must-have someday until some games that I'm interested in are announced for it. Final Fantasy XIII might be exciting, but it isn't everything.

3 – Under/Over-rated games. I recently finished FFVA. I never understood why this game is praised. I find it boring – bland. I've always thought so – FFV (emulated), PS1 and now GBA. I thought it might have been the translation which everyone explained it away as, but with the newer "better" one, I don't see a difference. I am not one to complain about translations (or notice bad ones unless they are horrid – think Zero Wing), and in this case it had nothing to do with it. For once, I didn't even try to do the bonus stuff – getting to the end was enough. I found the characters to be boring (losing Galuf to get that chick with the exact stats... ick), the job system either too limiting or too generous, never just right, and the typical storyline I have seen a million times.

Matt

Well... I'd say that the storyline is one of Final Fantasy's more creative ones in history. You know, the first time I experienced the whole layered-worlds thing, I got a shivery tingle in my spine because I thought it was so darn cool.

It's not the best Final Fantasy game ever, and I agree, the job system isn't perfect. I always had a problem with the fact that some "ultimate" abilities of different classes are, for example, "Equip Spears" or "Equip Rods". Who in their right mind is going to waste their one and only skill slot to be able to equip a different type of weapon? That just doesn't make much sense to me at all, and I find myself choosing the same skills over and over again, simply because they're undeniably the most useful (generally speaking, White! and Summon!).

4 – FFXIII. I will be buying a PS3 regardless, as well as this game (well both of them).

Matt

Oho, but what about Agito, perfect for your cell phone?

5 – FFT: The Remake. Nope. I don't like the PSP. I will need something more impressive to force my hand to buy one. Even Crisis Core will need to prove itself to me...

Matt

Da. I still can't believe that Crisis Core is yet in development. It feels like it was announced about a billion years ago, doesn't it?

6 – For some reason 2007 hasn't left anything of an impression on me yet. Rogue Galaxy seems neat, but I won't bite for a while. What I am interested in are the MMORPGs. I *need* to try Vanguard, LotR: MMO edition and Warhammer Online. I don't know why, but I need a new MMO – FFXI: The Rerun has little to no interest for me right now... But... I promised not to buy any non-MMOs for a while. I need to clear some of my 49 game backlog. Only when that clears will I start buying more. That's the plan anyways. As if it'll stick.

Matt

It had better. Or, make a game of it: You can reward yourself with, say, 20 hours of online play for every backlog game you get through! What sayeth thou?

7 – Xmas saw to me getting Tales of the Abyss, Mega Man Battle Network 6 and Age of Empires 3. All are still shrink-wrapped.

Matt

Aww. I can't do that, myself. If I get a new game for Christmas, I have this inner burning need to at least put it into the machine to make sure that it works. Call me paranoid or whatever, it matters not. It's also exciting to read new instruction manuals, even though they sometimes stupidly give things away that I don't want to know. >_<

8 – This week I saw someone's comment where they said they wanted some games wherein the player's choices mattered. This is commonly seen in western RPGs. In fact The Elder Scrolls, Dungeons and Dragons and Might and Magic games have commonly allowed you free reign to do what you want to do. I just finished Dark Messiah of Might and Magic and Neverwinter Nights 2. The first had multiple paths through the game with a character you built yourself. Your choices impact the lives of those around you. In NWN2, there are multiple choices to make – do I side with X or Y? Do I help the old woman, or do I rob her blind? Many of these choices will reward or penalize you as the game progresses. Your actions and decisions during every conversation with your companions determine how they see you, how you yourself evolve... and who will guard your back in a battle, and who will take the opportunity to take you out instead. I was impressed at the end by who decided to stick it out with me, and who turned. One had it coming... and the other... well he made a BAD choice. It is always exciting for me to know that I am a hero of legend... but it is up to my actions to prove legend right... and not a pre-determined sequence of story scenes that does it for me. Romantic entanglements that need to be nurtured, relationships with friends, etc – they are earned, not given because the story says so. So, PC RPGs (and Xbox ones too I suppose) do allow for players to regularly change the course of a game by making decisions.

Matt

I suppose you have a choice. On the other hand, though, these non-linear games, for me, can tend to leave me not really wanting to play. It's kind of like Radiata Stories was for me. Without a dynamic, happening, forward-marching plot, I was never really driven to play that often; I had to make myself. I could totally see the same thing happen with other open-ended RPGs. Of course, I'm not everybody. Certainly, the concept is nifty and very likely an appealing one to many others out there, but all gamers are different!

Currently Playing:

Portable: Nothing (I have been reading the hours away instead)

Console: Valkyrie Pofile 2 (break since FF12...), Lord of the Rings Third Age (GC), Legend of Zelda Wii

PC: Nothing

MMO: Guild Wars Nightfall, FFXI

I need to clear that damn backlog... Sigh.

Matt

Yeah... yours is worse than most, it seems. I have a good six or seven games now that need clearing, so I feel your pain. A little bit.

I've been thinking for a while that since every FF will eventually see a remake of some kind (if it continues this strongly), how FFXI will be re-done. As a long time player who lost his primary character to not keeping the account active, I didn't really want to start anew. I would just *love* to see FFXI remade with XII's gambit system. Make it single player. Include all the expansions. Sure there would be no "ending", but there is at least 4 different storylines to explore at the moment, so there would be enough content for people to explore. It would be soooo much fun. I can imagine it – you start with a full party of 6 made up of self-created characters much like in Final Fantasy I and accrue jobs as you would in online FFXI (loosely seen as learning from trainers after completing a task). It would be completely non-linear in every aspect. You could even team up with friends over the 'net to tackle some of the difficult areas. Entering Dynamis with 10 online friends and their parties... and trying to win... would be a blast!

I'm drooling now.

But I guess this all started when I realized that I don't want to take the time rebuilding my lost character. I tend to not like redoing things... and it gets boring after a while. I kind of see this as a way of completing the rest of the content that I simply am not strong enough to tackle right now. But the real point would be to avoid online fees (so people like Matt can stomach playing it) and to give the "casual" gamer a chance to complete some of the harder quests without needing to spend hour and hours trying to find people that want to help out.

Would you be interested?

Matt

Heh, if they ever came out with a not-online Final Fantasy XI? Count me in. As you say, it's not just the idea of an online game that makes me cringe, but it's mostly the fact that to progress anywhere, you have to put in an excruciating amount of time, and on top of that, most importantly, you have to keep pumping money into it in order to do so! Online games feel a bit too much like a racket to me; one that I'm not willing to participate in. I'd rather spend my hard-earned dollars on new games than on the same game, again and again and again.

I've found a recent fascination with Magic the Gathering. I used to play in high school... and have recently started collecting cards again. And reading the novels (on book 4 since last Monday). I forgot how much I enjoy reading... Ever played, Matt? If so... which color(s) did you prefer? I currently have a red/blue deck built of cards I found would be fun to kill my brother with. It is a work in progress (record of about 3-2 right now) and getting better with each game. Sword of Fire and Ice... I love you!

Matt

Nah, I haven't played. I have friends who have, though; my friend Matt (another one) used to be quite into the whole thing. Not me, though. In fact, I didn't even know what they were until my last year of high school.

How goes the SOCK 2 preparations? If you need anyone to run the rules by, lemme know. I always have ideas from all the P&P stuff that I used to play... and these card games. Also, if you need a way of automating the scoring system, I might be able to help. So just let me know, k?

Have fun Matt, and enjoy your gaming time... and trip in case I don't get back to you before then.

Cya...

~~Sean~

Matt

Sock2.0 is making me really, really excited. I've got some really fun ideas coming along, and I've got a whole folder on my Desktop dedicated to the project. It's going to be rather complex, though, from the looks of it, so I'm thinking of either capping the number of contestants or just cutting off contest entry after the first month has passed. I need to make it manageable for myself, though primarily, I hope it'll be a lot of fun for all who get involved. Watch for it once my thesis is together and I have a bit more time to play with (April/May)!

Anyway, thanks Sean, for your columnal contribution!



A sisterly defense.


Hello bonjour!

I just wanted to add something to your Ever-So-Gracefully-Handled-Response to the anonymous insult implier about finding hardware and accessories for the Wii. In regards to the days between its release and Christmas, he/she/it said "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." You failed to point out that "Santa" went to several stores EVERY SINGLE DAY between Release Day and Christmas and was barely lucky enough to come up with 2 Wii's let alone 6 extra controllers and nunchucks for them. And as for getting your hands on all of the accessories ON release day while trying to get your hands on the system itself?? Well..... I won't even get started on that... And while I know Chatham is not as well-known or as large as some places, the fact that it was just as difficult to find the Wii or any of the stuff for it in cities like London and Windsor should be taken note of. MOST of the world isn't going to live in New York City or Toronto. The insinuation that lack of accessories is due to lack of effort REALLY makes me mad. And you'd better post this or I'll tell Mom.

Love your lil sis,
Diane

P.S. I wish you were coming home for reading week so I could play Warioware on the Wii.

Matt

Hey, Diane!

It's true. When I opened up the big present on Christmas morning, Mom was nearly bursting at the scenes with a million stories of how she went out every single day secretly to EB Games to search for accessories for both myself and my brother. It took her an incredible amount of time just to come up with the things she found, so they couldn't possibly have been that easy to find. And no, it's not because we live in some backwoods place, either; from all accounts, it's something that has been universally experienced by Wii-owners across North America. So, I was taken aback by yesterday's letter too, because yeah, mom did work her tail off for me, and I love her for it.

And, darn it, I'm going to make the topic into a hot one. How easy has it been for you to find Wii accessories, if you're a lucky owner? Let me know!

Thanks, Diane! I love you, leetle seester.



Broken Heart...


Hey Slimey.

Wow, I'm actually writing into Q&A. Shocking, huh?

Matt

Not at all! It's good to hear from you.

Anyway, I just wanted to write in a snippet response to the guy hoping for more Shadow Hearts. It unfortunately will likely never happen, as I recently learned that Nautilus (the company that developed all four of the Koudelka/Shadow Hearts games) has disbanded.

Now, of course, Aruze has the rights to the characters/world/etc., but based on the poor sales of From The New World, it's very unlikely we'll see a new game from that series. Even if we did, it wouldn't have the same developers at the helm, and well, that typically doesn't turn out so well.

So basically, don't keep your hopes up.

-Xero

Matt

Oh dear. That's a piece of news that I didn't realize, which is indeed very unfortunate for Shadow Hearts fans. If Aruze does still possess the rights, though, you never know what can happen. Perhaps the series will be put on backburner for awhile so that people forget about it... or grow fonder memories of it. Then, after a few years, a big surprise announcement of a sequel, or spiritual successor, might prompt a surge of support. It's hard to say, but it doesn't look good at the moment, I'll admit. It's too bad, considering that many people thought even a year ago that Shadow Hearts had the potential to become the next "great" series.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Xero. Write again sometime soon. :)



Capping it all off...


Hi Matt,

I apologize for not having written in so long, but my work life has recently taken a turn toward Crazy-Town. You know Crazy-Town, where all deadlines are due two days BEFORE you are told about the project? Well, I have tons to talk about but not much time.

Matt

Yeah, I've definitely been feeling some of that lately. Ugh.

First, condolences to your family for your loss. The holidays are always a rough time for that sort of thing.

Second, congratulations on getting a Wii, but I must say, I don't have one and am developing a deep seated resentment towards all those that do. Do you recommend connecting a flat screen to the Wii? I've seen people do it but am not sure if the Wii's graphics are really improved by the extra pixels.

Matt

Aww, don't be resentful of little old me! Besides, it won't be long before everybody and their grandmother owns one, at this rate.

As for the graphical differences, I'm not really up on all of that stuff. I know that you can make the picture look better with hard-to-find Wii component cables, but I think you need a decently-new TV in order to work with those. Again, this isn't really my thing, so I'm totally talking out of you-know-where.

Third, what do you think about DQIX going to the DS, from a state of the industry prospective. I'm sure it will be a good game, but wouldn't it have been a better game on more powerful hardware? Is the DS really so popular that it can literally steal HUGE franchises from the consoles we know and love, or is Squenix just trying to shake themselves up a bit?

Matt

Really, I feel like Square Enix had no other choice when it came down to it. Really, what were they supposed to do? Wait around until a clear winner was decided among the new-gen consoles? The DS has an established fanbase, especially in Japan where the series is the biggest. When you think about it, the decision makes complete sense. The graphics aren't quite as sharp, and the music will require headphones for true quality, but in the end, I'm 100% positive that the game will be a great success, perhaps moreso than if it were released on any other system.

Fourth, FFIII is one of the best games I've ever played. Just throwing that out there.

Matt

I had an enjoyable time with it, sure. It's maybe not the best game I've ever played, but it's really nice to finally play an official translation of the long-lost title!

Fifth, FFXII is losing a bit its hold on me. As I play, I'm starting to get mildly annoyed at how the game appears to be sabotaging my efforts to differentiate my characters. This isn't a gameplay issue for me so much as a story issue. Since the game doesn't have very many talking points and cutscenes, most of the character development, that is the development of the character's personalities, has to come from the battle actions and dungeon crawling, but with all my characters essentially turning into palette swaps of one another, I find myself disconnecting from them. I'm starting to think this game may not hold up well on a second play through.

Matt

I hear you, unfortunately. It's funny, too, because at the beginning, I felt like the game was oozing with replay value. Now I'm not so sure... not that I'm not enjoying it or anything; I just feel like the game isn't really going to turn out any differently no matter how many times I play it. I would have liked to see some character-unique abilities on the level of, say, Final Fantasy VI.

Sixth, I want Rogue Galaxy so bad it has become a physical sensation, a small tingle at the base of my spine. The graphics, the battle system, and the oh-so-delicious idea of actually playing a game on a Sony console WITHOUT load times. *shivers* Be still my heart...

I have more to say but am out of time. Later

cap

Matt

You're not the only one looking forward to that game! And it's creeping ever-nearer by the day.

Thanks for your letter, Cap! Get back to me with the rest of your thoughts sometime soon.



Topic Overload!


Hey Matt,

I was appalled to read about the size of yesterday's column. So I'm writing in about ALL your suggested topics. BTW, permanently adding suggested topic to the column is a great idea. Give me an excuse to write in more. I'm usually scrapped for ideas.

Matt

Awesome. Sounds like a fair deal to me! I'm always accepting letters, even if it does take me awhile to respond to them sometimes... (sorry about that)

RPG wise, there's not much to be impressed by on the next gen consoles, at least not yet. I'm not expecting to see Blue Dragon or Eternal Sonata in English till at least next fall. Final Fantasy XIII & its "sequels" won't come till at least mid 2008. I haven't really paid attention to the Wii's RPG offerings simply because none of the titles interest me. The only ones I can think of are FFCC: The Crystal Bearers, DQSwords, & Fire Emblem: The Goddess of Dawn (never considered Zelda to be an RPG). I do own a PS3 (didn't pay inflated prices) and I do like how some of the "next gen features" are implemented. I very much enjoy having an actual OS when I turn the system on as opposed to the glorified "Memory Card Manager" the PS2 had. The PlayStation Store has some nice demos and I like the idea of paying a few dollars for a downloadable game. Is the PS3's price a problem? Yes, but once the system's first big title comes along (I'm betting Metal Gear Solid 4), the system will move regardless of the price.

Matt

You think so? I'm sure that a number of them will sell, but I'm not sold, myself, on the idea that the first big title will have them flying off the shelves. Money isn't as much a factor for me, but I do know that for a lot of gamers, gaming is done with spare change after the rent is paid, the groceries are purchased, and the essentials are taken care of. Six hundred bucks, plus tax, plus money for games, is not a trivial amount of money, and a lot of people might not find it worth saving up for, even if it does carry a couple of killer games.

It's true that the Wii's RPGs might not appeal to everybody, and yeah, a lot of people don't really consider Zelda to be an RPG in the first place, but I still think that at this point, it "forseeably" has more to offer than its competition, especially when coupled with the potential for Virtual Console RPG downloads.

My Christmas was bland, like normal. I got Yoshi's Island DS from my sister, Tales of Phantasia from a friend, and PoPoLo Crois from a roommate. Nothing dramatic. No games from my parents. I'm not really surprised about that though. My parents usually don't get me video games, save last Christmas. I got Dragon Quest VIII that year. As soon as I opened it (and picked my jaw off the floor), my mother went into how funny it was to watch my father go shopping for it. He apparently really embarrassed himself with his lack of video game knowledge in GameStop. Twas an effort I truly appreciated though.

Matt

Awww... that's cute. I remember when my mom told me similar stories about the difficulty she faced when she was shopping for Final Fantasy X-2 for my Christmas gift a few years back. "Final Fantasy Ten... Two?" she would ask hesitantly, as if she didn't know what the heck she was talking about. What an awkward title... however, it's far better than what some people were calling it. "Ex-two" ... UGH!

I can't think of anything that I consider overrated of recent release. KH2 & FFXII were worth their hype. Don't really care about Zelda, so I won't comment on it. Underrated though, Tales of the Abyss most definitely falls into that category. Poor thing got released during the massive RPG torrent this past fall and its sales numbers reflect that. The game was awesome, definitely worth every penny. The Japanese version was released on the same day Tales of Phantasia SNES was 10 years prior. Tales of the Abyss is very much the culmination of 10 years with the series. Just wish more people would find that out.

Matt

I'm thinking that's true more and more, with every report I get from my brother, who is apparently enjoying it much. I got him the game for Christmas, but haven't played it myself yet. Once he's finished, and I have a bit of time on my hands, I'm planning a borrow/swap deal so that I can experience it first-hand.

But yes, many games met the same fate this year. A lot of video games did, just because the publicity centered totally around the release of the Wii and PS3; the fact that Tales is an RPG meant that it was sandwiched out of view by the next-most-popular news story of this fall, Final Fantasy XII: It may as well have been the only RPG released this fall, or so an uneducated soul might guess from media coverage.

Recent FFXIII details? I'm intrigued. This is the first news we've had since the initial trailers. I like that the crystals are not only back, but more integrated in the story. I'm not so intrigued by the idea of an oppressive religious government again, but we still have to see implementation. Finally seeing the other new character is refreshing, as the game feels more developed with an actual cast, not just a protagonist. The cowboy-like design was a surprise. Haven't seen anyone like that in a FF since Irvine.

Matt

I'm excited about crystals too, but I'm a bit disheartened that the game seems to start right at the "one last crystal remains" stage or whatever, for some reason. It reminds me a little of Final Fantasy VII: The Spirits Within, and how you're joining the crew seemingly in the middle of their journey to grab those special spirits or whatever they were. Hopefully, the story in XIII is told well, so it doesn't feel as if we've had the beginning chopped off.

And yes, I was oddly scared for a moment that Miss Lightning would be the only playable character... wouldn't that be a twist that would rile up the fans? I'm looking forward to seeing what others are revealed in the months to come.

Already got a PSP, so FFT won't influence my purchase. I probably won't even get it anyway since I already played & beat the PS1 game. FFT was ok, but not something I'd play again. The extras look nice, but not enough to warrant purchasing another copy. Balthier, on the other hand is most assuredly OMGWTF!!!!

Matt

Yeah, his inclusion does seem to be a little bit random. I've also heard that he's actually being integrated into the story... not just present as an extra character on the side. Bizarro!

Am I looking forward to 2007 RPGs? Absolutely! All of the ones you listed & more. I'd like to hear an official announcement from SE/Sony before I get excited by Kingdom Hearts II:FM+ & Wild ARMs V, but I'd love to see them in North America. Plus, I'm looking forward to Ar Tonelico & Gurumin in February & hopefully Blue Dragon this summer.

Matt

Oh... Blue Dragon... sniffle.

This is the problem with not owning all systems: YOU CAN'T PLAY ALL THE GAMES!! I need a job. A real one, I mean.

New sequel? Definitely another Chrono game. Loved both Chrono Trigger & Chrono Cross. Breath of Fire is another series I'd like to see back on its feet. Dragon Quarter or 1-4 style, I don’t' care. Just gimme another game in the series that got me into RPGs in the first place.

Matt

Oh, me too, totally. And after how critically acclaimed Dragon Quarter was after the mediocrity of III and IV, I'm surprised that Capcom hasn't announced another. Phooey on them. As for Chrono, it's just a matter of time, no pun intended. The excited rumours surrounding a potential Chrono sequel come in spurts. I'm sure that we'll see another some day, because it's an almost guaranteed hit for the big Square Enix.

Anything on my mind? Well, at the moment, I'm wondering if it's really worth all the work to find a boyfriend. All these guys either have some significant flaw, are just looking for sex, or are too shy to even talk to me! What else do I have to do to find a guy that's a bit closer to my version of "normal"?

Hope I've helped. I'm eager to see your next column.
venus577

Matt

It's good to be picky, because then, hopefully, you won't find yourself in the middle of something you don't want to be in the middle of. ;) I've been where you are, so I know how you're feeling. It takes a bit of luck, I think; I wasn't really looking for anyone or anything specific, and I just happened to run into the guy I've been with for three and a half years now. Imagine that! I never could have, back then. Now, if I could only convert him into an RPGamer...

I wish you the best of luck!



NSMB and the Vth Suikoden.


Hey, Matt.

I've got to agree with you about the New Super Mario Brothers. I chainsawed through the majority of it one night over at a friend's house, and I honestly felt like I'd done all this so much before that there wasn't really anything new here. No real test of the reflexes, no strategy to it. I gotta admit getting a mega mushroom and pulling a total Godzilla on the level was fun, though.

Matt

I know that Ouro tackled this letter over the weekend, but I wanted to, too, so I'm reviving it and answering it myself. It's addressed to me anyway, so I can do that.

Anyway, I thought so too. The game was a lot of fun, and it was really cool to see a lot of old ideas refreshed. But jeez, there were so many 1-Ups everywhere, and it didn't get very difficult at all, in my opinion, until the last few levels. While the bosses were fun, I felt that most of them were jokes. Even so, though, if a New Super Mario Bros. 2 were ever announced, I'd die of excitement.

But this is RPGamer's Q&A column, so let's talk RPG's. Lately I've been playing Suikoden V. Very nice plotline there; the politics are intriguingly complicated and serve to keep the game moving, and they also develop familiar Suiko themes like authority, loyalty, the balance between duty and freedom, family. Family! Hey, here's some food for thought: what do you think about family in RPG's? I can kind of see why it's often dismissed in RPG's, as it allows for more individualist protagonists with a lot more freedom, not being tied down to obligations and duties. But on the other hand, everyone has parents, which gives familial situations a universal kind of relevance, and the efforts RPG makers take to create "individualistic" heroes end up contrived or cliched (man, another mysterious amnesiac with no personal ties?). I found that in Suikoden V, when so much of the action revolves around the Prince's family, I felt more invested in events that had import for them, and Lyon's background as an orphan (for example) had a unique spin on it from the contrast. What's your take on the family thing?

-Jackson Ferrell

Matt

I love the idea of having families in RPGs to solidify the hero's background. The Dragon Quest series is a great place to look for this: You see a little bit of it in Dragon Warrior VII, where you live with your mom and dad at the beginning, and help out with chores and such. It makes that aspect of the storyline a little endearing, which is good, considering that the rest of it kind of sucks. Dragon Quest V is even better, even though it never made it to English-speaking lands. You play a little boy who wanders around with his father, a great hero, until he dies, whereupon he tells you to find your mother. The game follows you throughout the entire game, as you grow up, get married, and raise a family of your own, all of whom become potential fighters for your party in the end. It's really quite awesome.

Families can not only help to establish a hero's background, but also help to give them more realistic emotional connections and, potentially, a real reason to fight. It would be nice to have fewer RPGs that adopt the "hero is an orphan" cliché, wouldn't it?



Grab your slates: It's time for Probabilities 101.


Matt,

Let's talk console exclusivity for RPGs. What are the chances (in percentages) of the following things occurring?

1. Blue Dragon also being released for the PS3
2. Lost Odyssey also being released for the PS3
3. Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII also being released for the XBox 360
4. Having to plunk down the hard-earned dough for two new consoles in order to play the aforementioned games
5. Crying uncontrollably because of #4

Matt

Matt

1. 15%: If this happens, though, it won't happen for awhile. Blue Dragon is a game that's designed to boost Xbox 360 sales in Japan, which has never really embraced Microsoft in the past, as you probably know. Once sales slow to a crawl, and if there's enough people out there that are screaming for a port, it might be a possibility.

2. 15%: I'd say the same thing. I really don't know much about this game yet, so it's rather hard to say.

3. 10%: I would not count this out, especially if the PlayStation 3 fails to do much better throughout the next year. In the very unlikely event that this did happen, I would have to spend much time trying to screw my jaw shut and then swallow the fact that yes, I'd have to buy a 360. With the other 360 RPGs you've mentioned, perhaps that isn't a bad thing, either.

4. Well, let's do some statistics. If those percentages are true, then the percentage of all three NOT being true would be (.85)(.85)(.9) = 65%. It would be quite surprising if all of those things did happen, but it's way too early in the game to know if that's even a possibility.

5. It depends on how emotional you are about your cash. If half of all souls shed a tear at having to shell out that much money for both, then I guess the chance would be a 32.5% one, wouldn't it?

That's today's statistics lesson for the day, boys and girls! Until tomorrow...



QUICKIES

Hey Matt, how's Yoshi Island DS going for you? I finally passed level 5-6. My hate for the level designers grows when i died or the 50th time but fortunately i still have 150 lives left (and thats without going repeatedly to those roulette games and what not)

Bainick's freedom is slowly ebing away from him!

Matt
I'm not far behind! I'm on 5-2, with about as many lives. I was using Yoshi's Island to pass the time while waiting for my program to compile, which takes forever, on the weekend. 'Twas fun!

Just had to write in quick to say: You've never played Zelda: LttP before?!? Wow! You're in for a treat; one of the best Zelda's in my opinion (that and Link's Awakening (GB)). Funny enough, at one time I had possession of a French translation SNES cartridge of the game, and I don't even know French! Fun times.

Laters,
MagRowan ^_^

Matt
Oh, no, I've played before! Back when Blockbuster didn't charge $10 for game rentals, I rented it a few times and beat it. I think it's awesome, and I'm so happy to finally have my own.


MOGNET MAIL

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

The newest remake of FF1&2 sure looks pretty but wouldn't the effort be better spent remaking some less remade games? Like some Enix games.

Tomi

Matt
TELL me about it. I'd kill to see a fantastic new remake of some early Dragon Quest games. Or better yet, a real remake (and translation of) Dragon Quest V or VI. If such a thing were announced for the DS, I would be in blissland to the power of infinity, believe me. And you'd know it, trust me.



IN CLOSING

That ends another great day in Q&A! Don't forget to look over to the new Hot Topics bit in the sidebar, if you're thinking about writing in but can't figure out what to write about. I've got a lot of mail in my inbox still (I'm still working through some of last week's blitz!) but I am always very happy to receive a new letter. Or six. I liked a few of the ideas presented in today's column, so please, feel free to write me! I don't bite.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day, and that is when my next update will go up. So please come back when the discussion will continue! I look forward to it.



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