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ASK MATT
Asleep During the Game
March 8, 2007

Matt Demers - 19:29 EST

WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG with the current generation of consoles? It's becoming clear to me that the Xbox 360 is the only console that is promising to deliver more than one game over the next several months. Am I missing something?

If Sony wants the PS3 to do well, in my opinion, they're going to have to do a lot more than introduce some stupid Home thing that a) is mostly just another rip-off from competitor ideas; and b) isn't a game. If Nintendo wants the Wii to do well, they have to wake the hell up and realize that people don't want to play Wii Sports for the rest of their lives. To keep people happy, it's a good idea to, you know, release games in order to reassure people that their invested money was well worth it. Nintendo has exactly one game that anybody should care about, slated for release between now and September: Super Paper Mario. And admittedly, holy #$%! does that game look amazingly fun. BUT, that doesn't matter. Both Nintendo and Sony are completely squandering their huge chance to make it big, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not very impressed.

Grr. Grr! OK, Now I've vented a little bit. What do you think? Write it in a letter. Like the ones to come:




LETTERS
Ah oui!


Hi Matt,

First time Asker, long time Reader! You have finally had me with your french sentence yesterday : "On fait quelques lettres. Ou quelque chose comme a."

Yes i am a French Canadian from Gaspé, Québec. (By the way, it is -40 celcius today...sorry my American friend i'm not sure what it is in Farenheit) so i hope i won't write anything too funny! Please, don't write too fast and articulate your finger well so i can understand everything.

Matt

I always forget that there are actual francophones that read this column. Ugh, isn't it sad that I got a 99% in my OAC French course six years ago? I used to be able to ramble on and on in pretty-good french, and now I can barely fire off a single fragmented sentence. Zut, non!

Anyway, I'm glad you've written to me! I think that if it ever dropped to -40 here, I'd move. I whine and complain about it being -5 all the time, for heaven's sakes. I dunno how you Canadians do it.

I, too, have a problem with the "finishing RPG game"...but not in the same way as Premature Evacuater...in fact, it is the opposite.

I've been playing RPG since Dragon Warrior I and the same pattern come over and over...I really go deep in the side-quest aspect of the games for most of the game. But, as soon as i see the end of the game approaching, i rush toward it playing like crazy (5-6 hours) until i beat the game.

I always tell myself that i will play the las part again more "slowly" and do all the side quest that i missed...But the game doesn't get that chance cause i start another one.

And the pattern continue...endlessly!

Matt

Now that's different. I've had the same kind of problem lately myself though, because with little free time to play with, I find myself wanting to get through games as quickly as I can, so that I can say "yay, I'm done!" Of course, if any of you were to see my savefile for Final Fantasy XII, that statement would likely be called into serious question. I've now spent 117 blasted hours on the game without finishing it off! Argh!

I'm currently playing FFXII and i really enjoy the "Hunt"...But i can see that i'm approaching the end and i fear that, again, i will rush trough the end, leaving those poor Ivalician with many Marks running around!

Matt

Nah, don't worry too much. You won't see the end coming until you're nearly there. It's pretty abrupt, really.

Can you relate to that? What pills can you gives me to correct that?

Until a next Q/A i hope!
JeePee73

PS : What part of Canada are you from?

Matt

I could prescribe you something, except for that whole not-being-a-doctor issue, which could pose a small problem. You could talk to your own doctor about Prelaxa, though, the newest in pharmaceutical breakthroughs against this terrible disorder. Side effects include dry mouth, upset stomach, diarrhea, and non-finishers' disease.

I'm from Guelph, Ontario, which is a city of 100,000 or so situated about seventy kilometres west of Toronto. Come visit sometime! I'll put on a roast and we can talk about Americans.



Virtual Console Pipe Dreams...


Hi Bainick/Matt/Andrew! (I think I covered everyone )

My 2 cents about the VC: Final Fantasy 2 & 3 SNES and Chrono Trigger seem to be some of the more desired games for the VC, and with good reason as they are all excellent games and worthy of their legacies. But I really don't see them being put on the VC, at the very least for a couple years if at all. Take a look at how well the Final Fantasy GBA ports have done; they were all anticipated for months and months, all got favorable reviews, and save for the odd quibble have been a huge success with the fanbase. So if Nintendo/Square know that they can get 30 bucks a pop for each of these sales, why on earth would they want to put them on the VC for only $8? They would lose that 22 dollars per unit. Or maybe I'm just oversimplifying this. Maybe the lower price point would be offset by not having to pay for production, retailers' fees, etc. Either way it would at least undermine their GBA cartridge sales though. Any thoughts?

Matt

I think you're bang-on, mister. The reason that they might eventually put them on, though, is that the cost of "developing" a ROM is nearly nothing, and putting it on the Virtual Console list for download? I'm not sure if Nintendo charges something or what, but it's a way to make some fast cash. There would be a fair bit of cleanup work to do, though, since the originals would have to be translated first... not that that's a very big job in comparison to the localization of a more modern game.

Regardless, I'd personally be very surprised if they ever make it. It's one of those "ooh it would be SO cool" things, like say, the idea of a VC Dragon Quest V or VI, or Mother I. Realistic? Hardly, I think. Sad, eh?

As for what I'd like to see on the VC....Shining Force 1 and 2. My memories of those games are just as fond as anything else from that era. And I had mixed feelings about the Shining Force 1 GBA remake. I liked how the extra characters helped flesh out the story some more, and I liked finding the extra collectibles. But the extra characters were ridiculously overpowered, and the overall difficulty (sp?) was nonexistant. And this is just a personal thing, but I liked the original's graphics better. Either way I was happy to play the game again, I really miss being able to play Shining Force 2 though.

Matt

Definitely!! I've played a tiny bit of Shining Force II, and I loved what I played of it, which isn't surprising, given how much of a Fire Emblem fan I've become. (The two games feel awfully similar.)

Those are within the realm of possibility, too, thanks to the fact that Genesis games are appearing in... well, not quite droves, but in significant numbers nonetheless.

One final note for Andrew (if you get this letter), a long time ago I asked if I should hunt down Shadow Hearts 1 before playing Covenant, and you said I would probably enjoy/appreciate both games more if I did so. Turns out that you hit the nail right on the head. Had a lot of fun with both of them, I'm glad I played them in sequence. Thanks for the advice.

Take care and have a good day,
Jeremy V

Matt

Not being Andrew, I'll pass it on. I'm sure he'll be glad to hear. Shadow Hearts is one of those games that has been on my "long-term backlog," which Zelda: Majora's Mask is also on. Sad. I'd love to play it to completion. One dayyyy...



Everything and more!


Alright Matt, this time it's a mix between game and anime music. You get to hear the opening theme of Sakura Wars 1 & 2, Geki! Teikokukagekidan! http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/7181/1 I recommend keeping it around and listening to it repeatedly, because this tune really does grow on a person. Everyone else, listen to it also! Kouhei Tanaka wrote the music for the entire series.

Matt

It starts like a game show theme and turns into something that sounds more like Disgaea. It's fine, but it doesn't really turn my crank. Plus, Tom would totally laugh at me if I put this on loop, just because.

If I had an iPod, I'd definitely be playing some game music on it. As is, I have about 11,500 songs on my laptop and perhaps 20% is game-derived. Seeing you looking at my playlist would be mildly disconcerting, however. But the price of an iPod deters me when there are other things I would like to buy with my limited funds.

Matt

Well, I don't try to be conspicuous when I spy on other people's MP3 players! Sheesh. I do it in the most discreet of ways, I assure you. I'd say that at least 80% of my playlist is made up of game music. Yeah, really.

Today I finally started LandStalker. Should this pop up on the VC, you would be wise to acquire it. 'Zelda for the Genesis' is a descriptor I've heard, and it's fairly accurate. Only with isometric view and jumping. Reached a point in Tales of Phantasia today where I got to go underwater for a bit. Not anything close to what I espoused in a recent editorial, but the music was interesting. See if you agree:

http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/1189/23 Motoi Sakuraba apparently co-composed this soundtrack with two others I don't know.

Matt

Hey, there have been Zelda games with jumping in them! And ho-whoa. This music just gave me some crazy déjvu. I'm almost certain that I've heard this before! Where, though?? I've never played a Genesis in my life. This is gonna bug me.

Awhile back you said that playing a Sonic game would be nice. Gotta say, Matt, the Saturn wasn't good to Sonic (a lame port of Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic Jam, which was superseded by more recent compilations). Pick up one of the Gamecube collections or get Sonic Rush for your DS. What've you got to lose?

Matt

Forty-five bucks. It could be a significant sum of money, especially if I don't land the summer job I've got my eye on. Especially if I don't get the megascholarships for the next few years. Plus, more importantly, I have time to lose, man! Time, time, time. I don't have time for anything these days. It's funny you mention this though, because my friend Steve just had this conversation with me yesterday, and he says he's getting Sonic Rush and then making me borrow it after. So, hm, I may not have a choice in the matter after all.

I'm not gonna be TOO musical today, but there is another game I've never sent you music from before. The oft-mentioned (by me) Tengai Makyou IV has a composer I've never heard before named Toshiyuki Sasagawa. First, the music for Union Square, San Francisco: http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/6603/33 You've been to San Francisco, Matt; does that make you think of Union Square?

Matt

Negative. It does make me of Super Mario 64, though.

And yeah, I've never heard of that composer before either, though I'm bad with names.

And second the music in regular battles: http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/6603/60 I find it kinda catchy. Danceable, even. What think you?

Matt

Hahahaha... danceable? This I've gotta hear. Where I come from, dancing only happens to very specific types of music.

Hee hee, this is honestly fun. It sounds more like music from Tetrisphere, back in the good ol' Nintendo 64 days. Man, that game had wicked sound. So I guess you can consider that as a compliment to this Tengai game of yours!

I just finished Sakura Wars 4 yesterday. While I enjoyed it immensely, I can't help but wish it had been accorded the same development time the first three games received. Here's the breakdown, Matt: 1, 2, and 3 each had about 2.5 years in development. 4 had one year. 1 was on 2 discs, 2 and 3 on three. 4 is on one. 90% of the music is reused, the battle system is identical to 3, many graphics are reused, and worst of all is the story not being given sufficient time to unfold. Each of the first three games had a False Dawn after a False Climax - this being obvious because the final disc had yet to be inserted after the False Dawn. This is the farewell to Ohgami and all 13 of the women who have been under his command in the Kagekidans of Tokyo and Paris, it deserved so much better.... But it's still awesome to see all the characters together towards the end.

Matt

That's too bad. I think that all series have fallen prey to the evil rushjob at one point or another. Well, maybe not all series, but many. When people sit around and gripe at companies for delaying things forever *ahem* you can just imagine how much pressure a developer can have to face. The idea of making a game is great... but doing it under a deadline would be scarrific, I think.

As for getting older, Matt - get used to it. Either you get older or you stop. I don't think you want to stop. And at least your birthday isn't Dec. 27, so people can differentiate Christmas from you.

Matt

True. That fewer-presents thing would suck bigtime. Of course, birthdays haven't traditionally been a huge affair in our family anyway.

Plus, are you kidding? I'd love to just stay at the age I am forevermore! If I could figure out Jr.'s (from Xenosaga) secret, I'd be all for it. The wrinkles... the grey hairs... the joint problems... the Dentu-creme... I don't want to face all of those!

Speaking of Christmas, I did something interesting this past one thanks to lack of funds. I burned some CD's of video game music (almost all RPGs) for one grandmother and two aunts. One aunt loved it, although she'll never be a gamer when she chairs a symphony and teaches music at three schools. My grandmother also liked it. Haven't heard from the other aunt about it.

Matt

Heh heh- that's interesting. My sister did exactly the same thing for my younger brother the Christmas before last, giving him a boxed set of video game music from at least a dozen of his favourite games. Why can't I ever think of the cool gifts?

I don't think I've talked about Grandia II with you. In short, it's pretty good but not great like the first game. Plus the PS2 port is supposed to be tainted by nasty glitches. Here's a nice evil piece for you to chow down on: http://gh.ffshrine.org/song/345/8 That's from the moon of Valmar, and a few other places Valmar's influence reaches. Howzit?

Matt

Funny thing about Grandia: I just lent my sister Diane my copy of Grandia III, since I'll never have a chance to play it anytime in the near future. She's really enjoying the game. Anyway, about uh, its prequel? This music sounds like a kind of stereotypical techy piece. A little clichéd, but on the good side of average. Yeah, I know, I'm weird and like the evil themes, evidently because I'm sooooo bad.

There ARE a few Saturn RPG's I don't care for. Shining Wisdom, for instance. It ought to have everything going for it - Working Designs translation AND developed by Camelot? But Camelot didn't know how to make an action-RPG. At least not one that attracted my interest.

Matt

*gasp* I never would have believed it! Actually, Aethelred and I just had a conversation last night, and he sent me a link detailing just how many Sega-borne games there are out there that I missed. The number is incredibly huge! No wonder you always talk about them. And of course, with so many, there are bound to be a couple of stinkers. 'Tis the law of averages.

No, you had not mentioned in memory how you dig Golden Sun's score. But we have that in common.

Jigoku ni okate ageru wa!
JuMeSyn

Matt

Gah- if there's one great thing about Golden Sun, it's that the music is incredibly great. I'd go as far as to say that Golden Sun is probably one of my top-few-favourite RPGs of all time, musically. Hmm, I miss those games. In a way. Where's the necessary sequel, now!? Argh!

OK, that's enough for now! See you later, mister JMS.



She fell into the trap...!


Hey Matt!

First of all, good job on getting all that work done! I used to have the kind of dedication to school, but I think it burnt me out somewhere along the way...

Matt

So much done... and so much more to do.

Writing a thesis is, I swear, like playing Tetris. With every new revision that I send to my prof, a hundred new issues pop up. Ugh. Two months... two months, and I'll be done. Temporarily. x_x

Anyway, I just felt like writing in about a few things, so here goes.

FFVI's new translation: I wasn't too sure at first, but the more I experience it, the more I'm enjoying it. Especially after finishing the opera house. The lyrics are 100 times better. And yes, I'm glad that Sabin's "bear" comment was finally cleared up. Plus, who couldn't love the "weapons of Magitek destruction" line. Heh. However, I do miss a few of the good ones, like Terra's "body builder who had strayed from his gym." But oh well.

Matt

Aieeee! I can't wait- the next place I go is the Magitek Research Facility. I think that anybody who is wary about FFVI's re-translation should rest their minds and try this game out. It's really neat to see.

Funny thing, though: Did anyone else notice that evidently due to a layering problem of some sort, Celes' head is now chopped off for about fifteen seconds during the opera scene? Ack, Maria... what an oversight!

Next topic: I broke down and ordered a DS and FFIII. Amazon finally got DS Lite's in and currently has FFIII for $5 less than local retailers. With free shipping and not paying tax on any of it, I caved. Good decision, right? It'll probably be worth it just to not have to skip over all the FFIII letters now. =^)

Matt

It'll totally be worth it. The DS is slowly growing into a real RPG powerhouse. And with games like Dragon Quest IX on the way? H-h-holy crap. And the idea of doing Pokébattles over Wi-Fi makes me... quiver. Even BETTER? Pokémon Diamond/Pearl's release date is exactly two days before my thesis defence. Guess what I'm going to be buying on the way home?

My final topic is something I'm almost embarrassed to admit. A long time ago, some friends of mine tried to get me started on EverQuest. I wasn't impressed, and swore I would never get involved in an MMORPG. I just couldn't see what the fuss was about. Just recently though, I started dating this guy who plays World of Warcraft. For about a month, he kept begging me to try it out so we could play together. I made all the excuses I could to avoid it, and succeeded...for a while. Then one day he was fixing me dinner and I needed something to do, so I started a character.

Matt

Ruh-oh.

Now every time I go over there, I have to play that damn, freakin game. Can I just tell you how much I wish more RPG's were at least 2 player? I'm not really into the massively multiplayer part, but I love the cooperation element that you can have with even just two people. (How hard do you think it would have been to do that with FFXII?) And I love the interface. Almost every weapon, robe, etc has a unique design, and some of them look jaw-droppingly awesome. Unfortunately though, this reinforces my single-RPG habit of hording things, and he groans when we're out in the middle of nowhere and my bags are suddenly full. He doesn't appreciate my other habits either, like feeling the need to read everything and talk to all the NPCs, wanting to open up every area, etc. He asked for it though. =^D

Matt

Ugh, well, too bad for him! I'd want to take my time and enjoy the details, too. Game companies can force us all into MMORPG worlds, but they can't take the traditional RPGamer out of us. I'd be reading the signs too. :P

So now I have to eat my words and remind myself (and everyone else) that keeping an open mind can have some pretty pleasant results (this does come with a caveat though - I am getting to play without paying the monthly fee!). The only major drawback is that it's keeping me from working on MY games. I'm kinda hoping that the novelty will wear off and things will return to normal.

Matt

I suppose getting to play for free would make the idea a little more acceptable. However, I just refuse to pay more than $200 per year to play a game I've already paid for. I probably sound like a broken record. However, I just refuse to pay more than $200 per year to play a game I've already paid for.

Anyway, I don't remember you explicitly saying so, but have you tried any MMORPGs? What did you think? But as for your thesis...hang in there. Grad school IS probably the environment that's most supportive of a gamer's lifestyle, right?

Laurie

Matt

I've never! I'm an MMO virgin! It's hard to say when exactly I'll lose that virginity, but it's not going to be soon at this rate.

My sister wanted me to get into Guild Wars awhile back, but I never ended up doing so. I honestly believe that they just wouldn't fit into my current lifestyle. It's kind of sad. And no, that isn't the most supportive lifestyle for playing games: Being a 14-year-old kid living at home is. *pines*

Thanks Laurie!



My crystal ball? Yeah, it's cloudy. In fact, it's NIMBOSTRATUS-style-cloudy.


Dear Matt,

Welcome back from your vacation and torture. Jumping right into the excitement, I'm thrilled to finally have a release window for Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. If I recall correctly, then you don't have a 360. Would either of these games be enough to make you buy a 360? If not, then what would? What about a PS3? Is even Final Fantasy XIII enough to make you buy one down the road when it gets released?

I'm still happy with my current setup. What does your current gaming forecast have in it? What's in your backlog that you will need to go through first? Just curious.

- Macstorm

Matt

Mac, my world is being completely shaken up! I thought that I'd be happy with my Wii forevermore, but I'm worried that Zelda and Super Paper Mario alone over the first year will not be enough to sate my hunger for new stuff. It's the brutal honest truth. Of course, when I look over to the PS3, Final Fantasy XIII remains the only thing that I'm really truly interested in. I don't know enough about White Knight to care right now. Sure, it looks pretty, but what if that's all it is- pretty?

The Xbox 360, for the first time ever, has caught my attention. Between Mistwalkers RPGs and the possibility of games like Banjo-Kazooie, fond memories of which I have for the Nintendo 64 (that's getting mentioned a lot today, mm?), I'm actually tossing the idea around in my head. I don't feel like I'm ready to buy one, but if that scholarship I keep talking about comes through, I might go ahead and give it a chance after all. Doing so, of course, would break one of the biggest promises to myself: At one point, I had vowed never to support a Microsoft console, what with them coming in and stomping all over the video game industry, and helping to morph it into a big graphics-race. Time will tell. I can't really say for now, but I feel like for the first time ever, there's a real possibility that I could end up (eventually!) with all three consoles, in which case, I will have officially nothing to cry about. Only your wallet loses when you take the "ha I own everything so I don't care" strategy, you know.

Of course, since this column is basically my personal gaming blog-of-sorts, you'll be the first to know if I do make a crazy decision. But right now, I'm stickin' it out: Me, my PS2, my Wii, and my DS. Together.



QUICKIES

Noooo quickies today! Not much mail in general, actually. Get with it, people... I want some letters!

Yep, soooooo close to finishing code project... sooo... close. Yes, I chose GWAAAK cause it sounded like a demented bird, a chocobo on crack as it were.

Any thoughts for the upcoming Chocobo game for the DS? I'm tempted, but I'm also still on the look out for a copy of Chocobo's Dungeon 2. I am the proud owner of Chocobo racing though.

Hrrmmm... snore....
MagRowan ^_^

Matt
It looks ubercute, in a "word." I've never been a big fan of the idea of card-based games, but on the other hand, I've never really played one either. Besides, I'll need some DS games for the summer, in case I get tired of Pokémon. 'Tis a possibility!

IN CLOSING

Uh, yeah. So, one more day this week. You've heard my rant on Nintendo and Sony. Do you agree with me on both counts? Do you think I'm absolutely insane? And what do you think of the announcements that have been made at GDC '07? I'm just DYING to know your opinion... or maybe that's just my bubonic plague acting up. Grah, ha.

I'm hoping to seat Bainick in the chair sometime next week. I think I also have two Boojum cohosts plus a full-host to get through over the next month or two. Send in lots of mail, at any rate, and keep me happy!



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Matt is now RejuvenatoMatt!


Super Paper Mario looks like the most sickeningly amazing game of ALL TIME. The blend of two of my favourite genres, all in one wonderful, pixelated package. I can't wait!

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