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ASK MATT
Another Week, Another Seven Dollars
March 20, 2007

Matt - 15:35 EST

HA HA! One week and two games: Who would have thought? I beat Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime over the weekend. I have to say that I'm doing pretty well for myself; I went on to get past the third dungeon of Zelda on Saturday night, while everybody else was out guzzling beer and telling limericks, or whatever people do on St. Patrick's Day. Why yes, I should probably get out. Mleah.

Anyway, I'm back for another fun-filled week, starting with this selection of fine letters.




LETTERS
Well, these WERE hot topics.


Good evening fine sir,

Once again, I'm going to address as many of your topics as I can (and then rant for a while hoping to spark some new topics!). Lets get started, shall we?

Matt

That's the idea of this place, yes. Let's!

GDC '07:
Blegh, not a very fun year for me. Nintendo banned from making any major announcements. PS3 getting steam for a system that is mostly junk, fueled by people that lack morality (IMO). The 360 is a strange upside though. RPGs such as Blue Dragon finally getting and official release date, a close one at that. I think the whole of GDC was marred by animosity amongst the different 'fanboys' development side and fanbase side.

Matt

Ahhh, I think that you're pretty much on. The PlayStation 3 did look like it was gaining a bit of momentum, but I think it was short-lived. After all, we just heard the newest big announcements that the "gimped" (is that the word they're using these days?) PS3s are going to be coming to store shelves in North America quite shortly, and then we heard that some big titles (Ace Combat, Devil May Cry 4) will be playable on other platforms after all. Hum, hum. It's like a stream of bad news for the big, bad, Sony... it's almost sad.

Random Battles:
Random battles arent the offender here in my mind, its the loadtimes before and after that grate at gamers. seemless transition between screens greatly changes how a single battle is portayed to me. Im playing Tales of the Abyss right now and the random battles get annoying after about an hour due to the long loads after battle. FFXII did away with random battle in favor of MMO style combat, as most gamers know. i think the strong point there is that once a battle is overwith, your right there on the field ready for another, no wait, no gruff. DQVIII had very short loads for combat (or it seemed since they had the running animation whilst loading). And as you said, if a game gives you an item or skill that allows you to manipulate combat encounters, it really makes you like it abit more.

Matt

Very good point. It gets frustrated when you have to wait for ten seconds for battles in Xenosaga: Episode II to load. Or how about Final Fantasy IX, where they have to pan across the background about six times before combat actually begins? "Beware, for this game can cause dizziness and/or vomiting."

2007 Gaming:
My backlog is very, very, very (very....) extensive for now. Im going to give you a weebit of a headache and list all of the rpgs in it (sorry...kinda): Romancing SaGa (all stories!), Digital Devil Saga II, Devil Summoner, Suikoden III and V, Disgaea 2, Makai Kingdom, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, Breath of Fire III and IV, Vagrant Story, Chrono Cross, Dragon Warrior VII, Arc the Lad Collection. now, now, some of those games im sorta through but most of them I havent even started (and I will probably restart the ones I'm partially through to remember the story more. There are a few games that I'm looking forward to in the coming year though. Pretty much everything that is worth it coming from the DS is making my mouth water. Blue Dragon is looking fun and lighthearted (im not a Toriyama basher, the only reason to bash him is to give yourself a 'cool factor' that is alittle stupid). Im also eyeing the Wii once the DragonQuest games come out (DQIX for DS makes me smile just at the thought).

Matt

That IS quite the backlog. And Dragon Quest IX is something that I just *HAVE* to play. I barely know anything about it, and yet the thought just makes me want to explode with happiness. Hopefully we won't have to wait the four or five years that it's typically taken to develop the last few DQ games. And yes, the DS has some other goodies lying in wait. It won't be as big of a gaming year as last year, perhaps, but it's going to be a big one nonetheless.

Lunar Knights:
Im actually a big fan of anything Kojima, the man has a great sense of humor around his games and is pretty good at making games fun enjoyable. Im going to have to pick up a DSlite before i get around to it though. No big deal, im going to have to have the thing for DQIX anyway so im not sweating it.

Matt

I bought it! I bought it on Friday. So I no longer have to worry about being a hypocrite. I'm willing to give this purportedly awesome game a try... are you? Note: It'll actually probably stay in the box for a few weeks yet. I have Final Fantasy VI and Mega Man ZX to blaze through first. x_x

Steampunk's Rant Corner:
The biggest thing i forsee in the future is the DS is going to turn into something so big, so amazing that even people already singing its praises wont see it coming. DQIX, DQIX!

About DQ, im hoping that in america the series is getting more recognition than it had. I really wish we would have got Yangus, maybe one day. It seems that everyone that writes you, loves DQ as well, so its a pretty good feeling reading all the stuff about it from this site.

Matt

Not only DQIX, DQIX... but Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings! Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings! That doesn't quite roll off the tongue as easily, mind you. But Pokémon, Pokémon... and Heroes of Mana, Heroes of Mana... and Etrian Odyssey, Etrian Odyssey! Did anyone see those new screens posted yesterday? They're so delightfully old-school, I could just burst.

I often wonder if the people who read my columns are the people who more or less share my interests in the RPG genre, while other people have floated away. Yeah, I talk about Dragon Quest a lot, but it's exactly because I think that it's a high-quality series that not enough people have been exposed to. Sure, it's not for everybody, but I think that there are a lot of people out there that really WOULD appreciate it if they gave the series a chance. You don't know until you try, yes?

Now its my turn to ask you some questions Mr. Slimey!
1. do you think its smarter to keep franchise series small, or whore them out like the .hack// series, final fantasy series, and DQ series? now dont get me wrong, i like those series pretty well, its just that as a collector, its hard to find ALL of them....

Matt

Aiiieee. I think that it's good for a company to play up on hype in order to boost sales, but only if it means that they continue to put out very high quality. The great thing about increased sales and more money is that the funds are there to put MORE work into even better games. The problems arise, here, though, when games like Final Fantasy XII end up taking a frickin' eternity to produce because of this drive to go insane. The ironic part is that most people really don't think that Final Fantasy XII is any greater than many of its prequels. It was good... but was it "six-years-in-development-good"? I don't know about that.

2.Whats the longest playtime for a game you have in your savefiles? Mine is DQVIII at 128 hours (only Lvl 74, but did all extra stuff).

Matt

Hahahahahaha. Do you reaaaallly want to know? Pokémon Ruby. I have... hmm... let me see. Yesh, three hundred and forty-four hours and fifty-eight minutes on the clock. Why did I just spell that all out? Because it's so much more effective that way. <3

Of course, this is exactly why Pokémon Diamond is going to be so very dangerous to me. Just you wait; it's only a month away!

3. Do you feel RPGs are going to suffer in this "next generation' era of crappy slogans and shoddy tactics? I really dont care for super realistic graphics, im fine with games like Killer 7, Okami, Katamari, and 'kawaii' games (im going to have to play something manly after i send this!).

Matt

It's hard to say. I don't know about the crappy slogans, but I think that the tactics don't have to be shoddy. A game is what a developer makes it out to be, and with such powerful engines driving all of the new-gen consoles, at least the potential is there for some incredibly deep games. Whether that comes to pass is another story, of course. I think that the next generation holds a lot of promise for the RPGamers who were a fan of the most recent generation.

4. how obsessive are you about your gaming collection? do you care if your game doesnt have a manual or a beat up case? Do Xbox and 360's green cases make you cringe? or PS3 and Wii's small cases for that matter? do you organize your games in any particular fashion? Im asking because im increadible picky about those kinds of things, some of my friends are, some arent. I just wanna hear from another person really.

That is incredibly longwinded wasnt it?! have at it my man.

-Steampunk

Matt

The green cases don't make me cringe as much as the entirely black-and-green sections in some game stores. I don't even come close to any of those sections, just because it feels like I'm going to be... I dunno, abducted or something.

I hate it when I lose a manual, though I really do enjoy the fact that games come in cases with little manual clips nowadays. Back when I was a wee lad, my mom made me keep all of my instruction booklets in a big brown envelope so that I wouldn't get them all over the place. That envelope is still back at home somewhere.

Do I organize my games in any particular fashion? Nay. I attempt with futility to keep my DS games and PS2 games apart from each other, but they inevitably end up in a mass on the floor, because I don't have the shelf space and I'm a bit of a disorganized soul. I'm not the most messy person out there, though, and believe me, if I had room for them on a shelf, on a shelf they'd be.

Anyway, thanks for your long-windedness! Sorry it took a week to get it up, but that's the reality of having a two-digit letter backlog that begins with the number 2.



Leveling down? Don't wither away on me~


You can bet that I'll be playing SOCK 2, and I'll try to spend more time actually doing something this time around. As for my job, I'll be a White Mage. I am a little worried, though. White Mages are invaluable in parties, but this game doesn't seem to have us form parties, but take on monsters by ourselves. And of course, White Mages are the absolutely worst people to solo with. Then again, I'm sure that there is a lot about the game that I don't know yet, so I'm just probably assuming too much. I'm sure that you'll make all the classes well-balanced and equally viable in gameplay, so I'll stick with the White Mage.

Matt

I'll do my very best! I've been working on this for a long time now, so I'll be distraught and require therapy if it doesn't turn out okay. The fact is that some classes might be useful in some aspects while they are useless in others. The flexibility is thus there for anyone to gain levels in any available class at any time- you're never just confined to what you start with.

Also, if you caught the announcement last Friday, you actually can form parties in the form of Guilds. Of course, you'll need someone to find a Guild Permit, first...

Using Exp. points for spells? That's an interesting twist. Is it possible for me to actually level DOWN if I use too many spells, or is my level set once I reach its exprience point requirement amount?

Matt

Nope. You can't level down, and if you don't have enough Experience to cast a spell, it will just fail and you'll waste your turn. Besides, the idea of leveling down just sounds so depressing. It gives me a great idea for an RPG, though: "Old Man Quest"! You START the game pretty strong, but you have to get to the end and defeat the boss before you're too weak, because every so often, you level down, as the sands of time run freely.



More on battle formats.


Hi Matt!

I'd like to sign up for SOCK 2.0 as a Defender.

Random battles don't bug me at all. Out of all the RPGs I've played, the ones with random battles significantly outnumber all the others. Which isn't a real reason in itself to like random battles. But since I played so many that used that system, especially early in my RPGaming life, that I probably wouldn't have become very attached to the genre if I absolutely despised such a critical component to the gameplay, know what I mean? I'm not a pure traditionalist by any means, I've played and enjoyed games of all main 'types' of battle systems. I don't really have a clear favorite, it all comes down to the individual game's execution. Some games execute random/scripted/real time battles well, other games can have said systems and be pretty bad. I don't think any are inherently good or bad. I will say this though, games with random battles HAVE to have reasonable load times. Few things irritate me more in an RPG then having to wait 10-20 seconds from the point of encounter to the point where I enter my first command.

Matt

And that makes two of you. I don't know why I didn't think of that before, but you're absolutely right. It's not just games with random battles, though, because, as I mentioned above, Xenosaga II I gave above is one of the biggest offenders in recent times, I think.

Scripted battles have their own annoyances, I feel. Having text interruptions every few turns in battle really disrupts the flow sometimes; there were a few times during some Final Fantasy XII boss fights that I was completely disoriented because all of a sudden, it would cut to some random dialogue sequence. No thank you, I'm in the middle of a fight. Just stick the damn voices in over top of the ongoing battle, please!

Lunar Knights...almost inevitably going to end up on my "I'd like to check it out, but I have to many other games to play first" list. I just finished up everything in Castlevania DoS, next DS game is going to be either Phoenix Wright 2 (TOTALLY loved #1), FF3 (dying to get this one), or Metroid Prime Hunters. I was playing a bit of my brother's copy of that game, and if someone had merely told me about how the control scheme is in that game I would have thought it to be pretty ridiculous. But then you play it and it just feels....so....right. Had a couple hours of fun with it and I really want to play the rest. I also need to get back to Fire Emblem (the first US GBA one), I'm trying to unlock all the support conversations....up to 91%. ^^ Speaking of a series I'd like to see more of on the VC...

That's all I got for now, take care!
Jeremy V

Matt

Metroid Prime Hunters does feel awesome. It's unfortunate that the game totally ditches traditional Metroid gameplay for something terribly formulaic and uninspiring, in my eyes. I'm like 30% through the game, and while I don't want to completely forget about the game, it'll be awhile before I pick it up again.

And hey, Fire Emblem on the VC isn't completely out of the question- the door has been left open for untranslated games to make the cut, which makes me very happy. I don't know if it will actually happen, but at least we can have hope!

Thanks, Jeremy! May all of your days be merry.



Licensed games and attractive gulfs.


Hey Matt,

The letter about TV shows/books to games got me thinking about the Alias game they made a few years back. I actually never finished it (maybe I've played too many traditional RPGs and now can't figure out how to be "stealthy"--stupid other games deluding me into thinking I just can barge into a room full of people with guns and kick them all), but it sort of played like a lost episode of the show, which was sort of its most redeeming quality. I can't say there's any book or TV show I'd really want transformed into a game right, though. Half the fun of the game is all the discovery--of locales, of characters, and so forth--and I feel like an important part of that would be lost on a TV-show/book-turned-game.

Matt

Exactly. Add to that the problems associated with licensed games, and you're left with something that is likely to be crappy indeed. Have you ever played a licensed RPG - or game of any sort- that you've actually enjoyed? I quit back when I got "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" for Christmas about ten years ago. Not my cup of tea, that.

Moving on... I'd have to say my favorite battle-engagement scenario is that of games like Earthbound and, maybe even more so, Lufia II--the monsters are on the map, but if you're lucky or clever you can avoid them. Random battles are more mindless to me, and especially annoying if I can blow the enemy party out of the water with no effort when I'm revisiting an old area. The other annoyance to random battles is that, by being random, I may never run across a certain monster (important when I'm obsessively trying to fill out my bestiary in the remade FF games, for instance) purely because of dumb luck, or it may just take forever. That's annoying. So, anyway. Have their been any games more recent than Lufia II and Earthbound with the not-exactly-random battle encounter? I guess I vaguely recall Star Ocean III, but that game just kind of annoyed me. Are there others?

Matt

Xenosaga is much the same way, though in practice, it's quite impossible to avoid many fights. Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter is similar as well, but in a nifty way, because the field map actually turns into the battle field- with a transition. So cool.

It's good to see another Lufia Fan out there, though. That's another series that just doesn't get recognized enough, even if it's only really the first two games that deserve it.

Aaaand, just for the heck of it, another visit to the random question generator. I'm sure there's some punny, clever response, but I'm not the question-answerer, I'm the question-asker. (Whew!)

Where did the chicken become interested in the Gulf of Mexico?

Matt

The Gulf of St. Lawrence. Much icier. Much dicier.

I actually had to try the program a couple times... this "random" question generator appears to be obsessed with "motor torpedo boats."

'Til next time,

Joshua

Matt

All random numbers have to grow from a seed... if you plant the same seed, you're going to grow the same tree! Perhaps that's it. Anyway, see you, sir Josh!



All the better to play Tetris with, my dear.


Greetings Matt!

I figured I've been putting off this letter for a long time, so I decided to bite the bullet and write it!

Matt

It has been awhile, DMJewelle... a good while. How you have changed, grasshopper. (It actually hasn't been that long.)

First up, the letter asking about the title page quotes was asking where the quotes were archived, not who thinks them up - in this case they can be directed to the lovely quote archive sidebar on the right.

Matt

Ah. Yes, my bad. I remember that letter... it appeared a week or more ago. Yeah, I'm behind on my letters, but it's hard to include seven or eight with every update, because they're so meaty. You guys really like to write.

Second up, I forgot to ask JuMeSyn this when he was guesthosting a few weeks back (that's how much I've been procrastinating), so I hope he just reads this letter. So JMS, since you own a Sega Saturn, have you heard of a game called Baroque? I've never had the good luck to own the PSX version, but you seem seem to have a strange library of import games so I thought I'd ask.

Matt

Yes, I wouldn't be surprised! If you need some obscure Saturn game that 99% of people have never heard of, he's the one to seek. Or Aethelred, for that matter; that guy is like an infinite fountain of video game knowledge.

And now for your topic!

This year is most likely either the year I get a DS or I spend my time finishing all the games I bought but never played (the .hack series being one). Either way the next-gen consoles are out of the question - the Wii costs $1800, the PS3...much more....and it's not worth getting it when I have no guarantee I can play anything besides Wii Sports and Twilight Princess. A PS3 is almost a given, but until FFXIII comes out localized and reviewed, it's going to be nothing more than a glorified PS2 brick.

Maybe this year'll be the day everyone finishes their backlogs, you never know.

DMJ

Matt

And as they lose exclusive support, there's less and less reason to get one, too. Unless, of course, you really think that this PS3 Home business actually provides a reason to invest. Hrm. I'm just waiting for Final Fantasy XIII to be announced for the 360. Or a Final Fantasy VII remake. That kind of announcement would go off like a hundred hydrogen bombs.

For now, you're right. It's brick. A really, really, really expensive brick, with a big ol' fan inside it.



QUICKIES

Can you tell me how to find the fire crystal?

Matt
Which? You've just narrowed your question down to about three hundred RPGs. Congratulations!

IN CLOSING

OK! That closes out the day. For tomorrow, I call on all Lufia fans to step up and tell me all about their favourite series! It's time to put the spotlight on this old gem. Also, I've talked on and on about how the PS3 is crappy. But have your feelings for the Xbox 360 changed as they have for me? Is it within the realm of possibility that you could get one yourself? What RPG would it take for you to be pushed over the edge?

I'm awaiting your messages, so get writing, and I'll do my best to get around to you in the quickest manner possible (though it might take awhile, given the letter backlog).

Au revoir, mes amis.



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 13 - good



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is excited about forms.


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On my Wishlist:

1. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

2. Super Paper Mario 3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Metroid Prime 3

5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl



On my Portable Playlist:

1. Final Fantasy VI

2. Lunar Knights

3. Mega Man ZX



On my Console Roster:

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

2. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance



Hot Topics:

1. What "makes" a good boss fight?

2. Calling all Lufia Fans: Talk to me!

3. Random battles: They aren't so bad, are they? Oh, they are not!

4. The Xbox 360... in new light?

5. Are you interested in Lunar Knights? Why not!?



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