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ASK MATT
Poisonous Soup
January 31, 2007

Matt Demers - 17:17 EST

I HAD SUCH A BAD DAY yesterday, I can't wait to share it with you. After three hours of slogging through my dysfunctional computer program I'm working on for my Master's Degree to find an error, I had absolutely no luck, and went off to campus with my tail between my legs to get help from my supervisor. We came up with nothing, and I went to class and the gym; by the time I got home, it was around 7 o'clock, and I hadn't eaten since breakfast. I had plans to throw together an interesting soup (for a late dinner), and I was really looking forward to it. I had chopped up all the vegetables, sautéed them for awhile, and gotten the whole thing together. It was bubbling away after an hour of work, and I went to look in the cupboard above the stove for a lid to put on the pot. As I opened the cupboard, however, a bunch of little grains rained down from inside. I puzzled as to what they were, until my eyes fell squarely upon what was inside:

A dead mouse.

And those little grains? Rat poison, scattered all over the place, that we had put up in a neat little box behind our cupboards months ago when we suspected that we had a rodent around. It dawned upon me then that they had fallen down from above when I opened the door, and that it was likely that some of it fell right into my pot. My soup... my only real meal of the day... was potentially inedible. We had to throw the whole damn pot out, because we couldn't eat it. I wanted to cry. Tom and I ended up going out for a quick bite to eat, and ended up missing an episode of House, and then I got back and worked on my program until three in the morning.

ROOAAAAAR!

Better luck today, I hope? It's going okay so far, and hopefully Q&A will continue that pattern. Hopefully.




LETTERS
Dream of a dream, a soundtrack, or a remake.


Hey Matt

It's been a while since I last wrote and read your column. Been having fun travelling for a little while, just came back before Christmas and now I am working again. The Dream ends (sigh).

Matt

I hate it when dreams end. Dreams of any kind, really. Mmm sleep.

Anyways how's it going? The reason I'm writing is that don't you ever get those days when you remember a song or see something that reminds you of a game and then you get the urge to play it.

Matt

Oh yes. I have a virtual soundtrack of 80% video game music running on loop through my head most days, and it makes me want to play old games like nothing else. Interestingly, the soundtrack changes to include mostly evilbossmusic before big tests or presentations. Odd, no?

Be it going to a fun fair and singing in your head the theme from "golden Saucer in FF7", trying to kill a spider with a wrench in the garage reminding me of Dark Chronicle or finding out I haven't returned a DVD to the rental and I must go on a 20 minute journey before they close and charge you a penalty fee, with an added twist that your own brother has taken the car so you have to walk. The latter overwhelmed me with a whole montage of various rpg openings to the point I foamed at the mouth.

Matt

Surely! Fetch quest, reality version. Hopefully you gained a level on the way.

But just the other day I kept playing the classic final fantasy prelude, but I realised that the last time they used that specific theme at the start of a game was FF7. Square did fit it in some how in the rest of the games, but I kind of miss the whole game kicking off with the prelude theme. Not having played FFXII, not released in the UK yet, not sure that might be the exception.

Matt

You bet it is. The title screen of FFXII is the Crystal Theme, and while your save file loads, the classic "Final Fantasy" theme plays. Hearing it the first few times I played the game made me almost misty! I'm glad none of my non-geek friends were around at the time.

But another thing when I came back I did see more publicity from various sources on the FF7 spin off on the PSP, following Zack before he passed onto the life-stream. I did see Cloud, Zack and Aerith in their Advent Children graphic personas. I have to say the game looks awesome, but do you think Square is lining up for a FF7 remake? I mean people are buying spin off games on a game made over a decade ago. I myself hate finding out what happen in the previous game through the manual.

Anyways keep up the great column.

Singh (UK)

Matt

Ah, I've said it many times before, and I'm not afraid to say it again: Square Enix has got to be lining up for a rerelease or remake of some variety, sooner or later. They'd be stupid not to for purely business reasons, because something like that would be worth a huge sum of money to them. And come on, how fun would it be to be a part of the development team that remakes the most popular traditional RPG in history? Very fun, that's how fun.



Kiddification worries.


Matt,

I don't know if anyone else has noticed it or not or even cares, but the discrepancy in ESRB ratings between Final Fantasy VI in Final Fantasy Anthology and the upcoming Final Fantasy VI Advance is bothering me. Final Fantasy Anthology was rated "T" by the ESRB and Final Fantasy VI Advance is rated "E10" by the ESRB. Is there some kind of censorship that has taken place in FFVI Advance that I need to know about? If I remember correctly, the original (U.S. Final Fantasy III for the SNES) had a pretty mature storyline and although I had gripes with quite a few of the changes made in Final Fantasy Anthology, at least they left the maturity of the story intact. If I buy FFVI Advance and find out that it's been "kiddie-ized," I'll be one mucho irritated RPGamer.

Matt

Matt

I do know that the game is going through a retranslation, and that might affect a few minor things, but given the high quality of FFIV and V's retranslations, I'm really not worried at all. To be honest with you, though, I'm kind of surprised that the ESRB would put an E10 rating on this game, because there are bars and people drink in them. Simple as that. What else besides that aspect, though, could Square Enix really do to the game to make it more kid-friendly? It's not like the original or the PS1 rerelease were filled with profanity or anything. One thing: That hawt sex scene a third of the way into the game with the twinkly stars and such had better not go anywhere though.



Grownup gaming.


HI!!

My names Nick. I've sent in before but the letters never get shown. Well to start I have an observation for Seth. He talked about RPG's havn't grown up. I can say there was a japanese RPG that was very adult but when it was released in america there was all of this trouble with parents groups over its adult themes political and anti-religious and psychological content.. I loved it myself I thought the whole thing rocked 5 different kinds of hard. Xenogears forever!! But anyway the creators split from squaresoft as it was called than and tried again.. Sadly learning from that mistake they tried on a less adult content filled psychological headach and it didn't go over like gears did... Not saying Xenosaga didn't rock 2 kinds of hard though, well parts 1 and 3 did, but anyway Seth get xenogears you'll love it, it's very adult oriented. And a question to the Q&A guys, anyone who wants to answer it. What other games do i not know about are on the same level as xenogears? I'd LOVE to play something like it.. I'm with Seth that RPG's need a kick in the rump.

That's all i have to say for now.
Nick

Matt

It's true. In the eyes of so many people (and so many more lawmakers) on this side of the ocean, video games are nothing more than a plaything for drooling little children who are sure to be immediately influenced by absolutely anything that appears on the screen. It's highly unfortunate, but it's the reality of living here.

If you're looking for other maturely-themed games, there are a few out there, though they're kind of hard to find at times. If you liked Xenogears, you might just love Xenosaga, if you haven't tried it already. It's a challenging series with a thick story that some might call "too thick" and others absolutely adore. I'd also honestly and heartily recommend Final Fantasy XII to you. The series doesn't quite feel the same as it used to, but XII definitely feels more "mature" than many of its predecessors, and you might enjoy it. I hope you do, anyway. I think the consensus was that Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria was considerably grown-up feeling, too, but I can't really confirm it because I haven't dug into it yet.

Otherwise, the ball's in your court. I'd recommend renting first, except that places like bloodsucking Blockbuster now charge close to a quarter of the game's retail price in the first place, so just forget it. Keep your eyes open for interesting reviews and such, and pounce on something if you have an inkling that you'll like a game in particular. Or come back and ask me, of course.

By the way, sorry that none of your letters have been answered in the past. We try to stay on top of these things, but a few fall through the cracks here and there inevitably. We don't hate you, trust me. <3



Don't beat around the bush: If you want something, just come out and say it.


Hello Matt, i just wanted to say since square-enix is making final fantasy 1 and 2 for the psp and i am excited about it however the reason i am writing isnt about that. its about asking you a question. i was reading ign and several other websites and i was curious when they said that square-enix told them that look past april for more news.

my question is to you is what type of news might this be? i am curious.

Matt

Hey- your guess is as good as mine at this point. Considering that Square Enix currently has about fifty thousand games in development, it's hard to imagine that there will be any huge new announcements anytime soon. Once a few of the current projects get released - Final Fantasy VI, Dawn of Mana, Crisis Core, Dragon Quest Swords, etc - I'm sure that greater details on games like Final Fantasy XIII/versus XIII and Dragon Quest IX will start to pour in, and the next wave of announcements will be, well, announced. It's all a waiting game.

most of my wishes came thru i asked for the final fantasys 1-6 to be on the gba and i got em the only ones i havnt got is secret of mana and chronotrigger witch i hope is gba bound but if not i will get it on the wii if it is on the wii.

now as for final fantasy 1 and 2 i wanted them on psp and i got em however i did ask for 3-9 as well. maybe 1 day.

do you think square-enix will be giving us more ports? or will it be new games when they post new info after april?

Matt

I think that, much like the past several years, Square Enix will concentrate some effort in both remakes and in new projects. Of course, one can only remake Final Fantasy I+II so many times before the entire world has foiled Garland's nefarious time loop plan and upset the EMPEROR, so I'll bet that we're coming closer to some "new" remade games. Unfortunately, if that's true, I'd guess that seeing anything old pop up on, say, the Wii Virtual Console, would be slim for the next while.

i know on the nintendo forum allot of em want Final Fantasy VII-XII on the Wii.

i am figuring any port that square-enix wants to give now for new systems should be on the wii as it can handle it then no one pays $50. but if i got my wishes from the other games for the psp and the gba i will be happy.

i just hope square-enix makes sure taito gives us lufia 1 and 2 for the wii if they dont put it on the gba.

like i said chronotrigger,secret of mana,seiken densetsu 3,lufia and lufia 2 are the ones i want to see on gba and if i dont see em there let me see em on the wii.

anyways thats your thoughts?

Matt

If Lufia were ever remade or rereleased, I'd be one happy Q&A host. Lufia I & II are traditional RPGs that too few people have played, and I think they deserve more credit than it typically gets.

Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger are the kinds of games that I'd expect Square Enix to concentrate on rereleasing on their own over the next few years. Both of 'em are great, and they both deserve a royal treatment that doesn't involve a chamber pot.

as for andrew he recommended me not to ask for ports and find a hobby witch i have witch is play and beat video games as well as do something creative witch i have witch is keeping my mind off of remakes and ports and look to the future for new games witch i do want.

Matt

How wonderful; I'm glad you've discovered a hobby.

Remarkably, we all kind of share that hobby. Actually, if you're reading this and you don't, you're probably looking for some other kind of site (thanks for the hit, though).

Anyway, my dear friend Andrew has a good point. It's a bit irritating to get uncared-for re-releases cranked out every few months just to capitalize on ideas that have been done before. It doesn't cost very much to port a game to a different system, so it's basically money from heaven for gaming companies. The more gamers buy into the idea of purchasing those hasty remakes, the more video game companies are going to go "Ooh, look at the stupids, let's keep shovelling more old crap down their throats!" Note that I'd say the same thing about the Virtual Console games, except that Nintendo isn't charging an arm and a leg for them; just a foot or so.

i also want a new chronotrigger and lufia game as well as breath of fire game.

Matt

*I* want a million bucks, a new Lexus, a time machine, and an invisibility-bestower, but that doesn't mean it'll happen.

Luckily for you, though, I suspect that sometime, sooner or later, a new Chrono game will be announced. Breath of Fire, maybe. Lufia, less likely. But, we can all hope.

anyways i must go to the post office and post some letters off but again i want to hear your thoughts on what is square-enix is thinking next for news or surprises.

Later

Paine

Matt

Well, I appreciate your time, Paine. Don't trip and fall on the way to the post office. Write again soon!



Games, games everywhere, and not a minute to game with!


Hey Matt

You may, but probably won't, remember me from almost a year ago when I sent you a letter telling you how generic RPG's had lost their lustre after I'd played through Dragon Quest VIII. Well I'm glad to say after a month or two that wore off, and since then I've played through Final Fantasy I+II, Wild Arms 4, Final Fantasy IV, Growlanser II, Arc the Lad Collection (for a second time), Grandia 3, half of Twilight Princesss, and most of Final Fantasy XII.

Matt

Yep, I remember. And, I remembered your name too, when I saw it. This can mean only one thing: I AM A KOM-PU-TAH. I'm glad that your dark period has lifted, too; damn you, you've played more games than I've even started in the past year. Well, maybe not quite. It's close, anyway.

What has prompted me to write in is the number of people writing in to criticise the plot of FFXII, and the lack of people defending it. I know it all comes down to personal taste, but I thought it was excellent. It is well localised - a little flowery perhaps but to me that fits in with the olde worlde atmosphere of Ivalice, and from what I've seen of Vagrant Story Yasumi Matsuno is rather fond of Shakespeare, going so far as to name characters Rosencrantz and Guilderstern for example.

I also really enjoyed the amount of depth they put into the world, from the vast dungeons which feature tiny little details to extra information you can uncover in the extremely well written bestiary. Have of the "plot" to me was actually all the backstory and history suggested by things you discover just by exploring the world, so in effect you're also creating your own little story in your imagination. I haven't enjoyed an FF game this much since.... since FFIV actually, but I only played that recently. Anyway, I enjoyed it more than VIi, VIII, and X. I'm not so sure about IX, I really had a soft spot for that one (I think prefer pure fantasy to steampunk/industrial stuff to be honest).

Matt

Oh, I'd say that I enjoyed it more than IX and X, and maybe about as much as VIII. That's saying a lot, too, because man, I loved FFVIII.

I think the localization is far and away the very best of the series, though that really isn't that hard to achieve with games like FFIV, VII, and IX on the list (say what you will, but they all had original translations that were quite miserable. I loved each one of them, too, so nyah.)

I really do feel that the story lacked somewhat, though, despite the amount that I enjoyed the game. I miss to death the big dramatic moments where your mouth just drops. You know, like the scene where you first see Garland and the Invincible in FFIX; the scene where Aeris dies (gasp) in FFVII; the scene where Kefka mass-murders about seventeen espers in Thamasa in FFVI. The moments that are supposed to be huge in FFXII never seem as big as they should be. When a certain important NPC is killed in the game, it didn't bite into me like I felt it should have, because I had spent half the game trying to figure out who exactly the characters were in the first place and how they fit into the storyline. There's a certain amount of disconnect from characters playable and nonplayable to the player, and that's just the way the game is. It doesn't mean it's a bad game; I was just left wanting a bit more.

I have to admit though, it's not the sort of plot that I'll probably remember much about in a years time. What I wanted to ask you was, do you think to a certain extent this is a deliberate ploy on Square-Enix's behalf, and they've split more far-reaching plot over mulitple games (The Ivalice Alliance)? It wouldn't surprise me if the threads of FFXII's story are picked up in Revenant Wings, FFTA 2 and FFT The Lion War.

Matt

Absolutely. I can't wait to get my hands on it, myself, because just the screens look like a ton of fun. A sprite-based version of FFXII's battle system? Yes, please.

Speaking of the Lion War, I've owned the PS1 version for a couple of years now but never really played much past the tutorial. Given that it's going to be rereleased on the PSP (which I own), and the rather horrible translation of the original, do you think I should wait for the remake and play that instead.

Matt

If you own a PSP, then yes, absolutely. You'll want to get it anyway; come on. If I was an RPGamer and the PSP was my handheld of choice, I'd be leaping at the chance to show support for any RPG that happened to be developed for the darn thing. Chances are that the game will be sent to the body shop for a new translation, as you say, which is very welcome as well. Yes, get it, and then get back to me and tell me how awesome it is (or not, but I doubt that will happen).

I'm now 95 hours into FFXII, with at least 10 more hunts to go and 6 optional Espers (I plan to beat them all), and beginning to contemplate what to play next. I need to finish off Twlight Princess that's for sure, as I only stopped because FFXII arrived and distracted me. I also have a copy of Enchanted Arms which was on sale over Xmas, and I still have to play FFIII, FFV and FVI (but that would require spending money, which I don't have much of right now).

Matt

Goodness me, you crazy gamer. You must own all the systems. I envy you greatly, except that you know, I wouldn't even have time to play all of those games. Incidentally, I'd like to know what people think about Enchanted Arms, because I haven't really had any reports, and I hate to go by all of the reviews out there that call it "mediocre" at best. I much prefer the personal injection of opinion from readers, so let me know when you play it, and I'll use you to influence me more betterer. Deal?

I don't know what's worse really, not having many good games to play, or having so many that you couldn't possibly afford the time or money to play them. I think these transition years between console generations are a good thing though in one way. Back when the PS2 was released and there wasn't any RPG's worth playing on it, I spent most of the first year catching up with the PS1 releases I hadn't played, and I expect much the same with the PS2 to PS3 shift.

Matt

'Tis true. And hey, few RPGs are announced for the new-generation systems as of now, anyway. So this is your chance! Catch up while you can.

By the way, it's definitely better that we have too many to play. At least this way we know that the RPG genre is alive and well, and perhaps increasing in popularity, minute by inchy-squinchy minute.

Anyway, I've wittered on enough and you've got lots of other letters to answer, so I'll leave it at that for now. I'll try not to leave it so long before I write again this time!

Ice^Tiger

Matt

I will feast on your soul if you don't live up to that claim, so please do. Have a nice day, now!



Back to the slate! Get 'em out.


Hey Matt, long time reader, long-time-ago-one-time-writer. And you won't believe what's driving me to write, but your probability calculations from Wednesday! I expect more from a grad student of your caliber!

Matt

Oh, great. What did I do now?

Given the first three probabilities you gave are correct, and assuming a 100% chance that those games arrive on the systems for which they are announced, there's a (100%)(15%)(15%) = 2.25% chance that all three will show up on the PS3 and a (100%)(100%)(10%) chance that they will all show up on the 360. So there's only at most 12.25% chance that all three games will show up on one system or the other. As for the other probability, crying uncontrollably as a result, I interpreted that to mean the probability of crying uncontrollably given the first result, so that's independent of whether the first result really happened, which you said was 50%.

Matt

Yeah, I think I went awry by thinking only about one of the consoles, so you're right. BUT, you're wrong, too, because your calculations don't take into account the very, VERY slim possibility that all of them are released on both systems. Then again, maybe I'm just crazy. Statistics != Mathematics, and I'm definitely not a stats major (for a reason). If I felt like it, I could do a better job. I will do better in the future, I swear it.

Haha. Just giving you a hard time. I probably did some calculation wrong myself--I only got my bachelor's degree in mathematics and now I'm in grad school for engineering.

Matt

Ah, there you go. And, who cares? It's not like my profs are reading this, or yours, for that matter. Unless they're huge RPG fans, but I don't think that's the case. It'd be so cool, though...

Anyway, on to something RPG related. My next major video game investment is going to have to be the DS, given the RPG collection it's accumulating (and the fact that I can carry it around--the days of sitting in front of the television for hours on end are over). The thing is, I'm obviously not going to buy every single RPG at the same time, so where would you suggest I start?

Good luck finding your own time for video games! I'm feeling your pain. And happy birthday on Saturday!

yet another Josh

Matt

You're jumping onto the right bandwagon, I suspect. With Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, and *DRAGON QUEST IX* slated for release on the DS, I don't see how you can go wrong. Anyway, you already have a large library to choose from, but you could start with any or all of the Final Fantasy remakes if you feel like it. They're all fantastic in their own special ways, and seeing FFIII in all its glory is quite something, especially if you're a big fan of the old-fashioned RPG.

You should also think about Dragon Quest Heroes, which is an absolute blast, and perhaps Magical Starsign or Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, if you're up for a lighthearted, not-so-involved gaming experience. I'm so excited for the future of that system, though, that I can hardly contain myself when I talk about it. Give me a ring or something when you finally take the plunge and get your shiny new DS!



QUICKIES

Matt,

I like Sean's idea of an FFXI off-line game. I will now write an editorial about it. Keep an eye out and enjoy.

</shameless self-promotion>

- Macstorm

Matt
Damn, I had meant to get this up before the last editorials update! Check out Mac's interesting piece right here.

I have noticed that some people are looking for Phantasy Star I. I'm playing the game now via Phantasy Star Collection for the GBA. It has PS1-III on the cart. I found the cart at my local EBG for $10, so it's worth checking your local stores. I have also found plenty of complete copies on Ebay for around $15. I hope this info might help someone.

Q&A's shopping assistant. HaHa! ^_^
-Thinkfreemind

Matt
Cool! Thanks for the tip. I didn't even realize that such a thing existed. I must be slacking. Argh.

Did you ever notice how FFVI's Mog is actually a geomancer?

Zohar Gilboa

Matt
A Geomancer and a Dancer in one! That's what I absolutely LOVE about FFIV and especially VI; a lot of characters are distinctly based on jobs from games like FFIII and V. Gogo the Mime, Umaro the Berserker, Relm the Animal Trainer, Sabin the Monk, Strago the Blue Mage. I love it! Don't you?


MOGNET MAIL

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! I'll continue this section until at least the end of February, and we'll see how it goes after that.

So whats next for you DSwise? Playing FFVI Advance on it is next for me. My favorite FF, portable will be great. :)

Tiael

Matt
Dragon Quest Heroes! If I can get Yoshi's Island DS sewn up, I can't wait to really get started playing it, since I haven't much so far. After that comes FFVI Advance; we don't have long to wait!

Got the new classes in FF5A yet? Managed to kill your entire party with a prediction yet? Those new abilities are quite something.

Tomi

Matt
Yep, nope, and meh. The new abilities, other than the cheapo skill of the Gladiator, are largely "whatever" in my books. I haven't really played much since I died in the bonus dungeon over the holidays. Too many other things to worry about! Forward march! (I'll go back and play it later (Sure you will, Matt).)



IN CLOSING

Well, the day has been not bad up until this point. Perhaps I'll make it to bedtime uneventfully! One can only hope.

As always, please write in with whatever you feel like writing to me. If you're itching for something to write about, the sidebar is the place to look! Any comments or suggestions or ideas for Q&A or the site itself? I'm all ears. Whether you're feeling writey or not, I hope you've enjoyed my column today, and unless something cataclysmic occurs, I'll be back tomorrow as usual.

The saga continues then, my friends. G'day to you all.



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