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ASK MATT
Salstickler
March 23, 2007

Matt - 16:17 EST

AND NOW, THE PS3 is finally available all across the world! Apparently, the launch went without incident, which is nice; I think one or two people died during the North American version a few months back. Sad, no?

I'm a bit tired as I usually tend to be on Fridays. I'm trying to finish up the marking I have to do, but I also have to go into campus and tutor on Friday mornings. The unfortunate thing is that sitting in one place marking for six hours straight causes much pent-up energy, and thus, I ended up laying awake in bed for half the night, causing me to now be quite zombific indeed. I hate these kinds of days.

Hopefully I... make... it... through this... column. Ackth! Sputter!

Also, it's too cold in here. Where's global warming when you need it?

On tap: Some more Zelda-age will definitely happen this weekend, so I'm excited. I'm also bumbling slowly through Final Fantasy VI Advance, which is lots of fun, of course. It's only, like, the seventh time I've played the game (or thereabouts).

Enough of the me-babble, though, for it is time for you to do the babbling. I didn't get much new babble in my inbox overnight, though, I'm afraid: Just a letter or two. Don't ditch me!




LETTERS
Movies, books, restaurants, and games.


hi matt

yeah still beating this horse and you'll note in my original letter i said "good rpg" and there have been some good licensed games. spiderman 2 rocked for a licensed game exept the pc version which wasn't even the same game and sucked badly and ultimate spiderman which is based on a comic book series i follow was very fun to play. but getting away from spiderman here theres also Super Dimension Fortress Macross for the PS2.. though noone but me i know has played it since i had to import it.. LOTR the two towers was great. i didn't play return of the king but i've heard good of it. and very very recently there was the ghost rider game which though i won't say it was the greatest it was by no means lightyears ahead of superman returns :feeling dirty he even played that: and than theres buffer the vampire slayer: chaos bleeds which was also very good.

Matt

Well, you'll have to keep reporting in for me! I'm afraid I've been scarred for life. Plus, I'm not really interested in many games beyond the RPG realm, except for this and that. And a little of that. And none of that, for whatever reason, includes anything TV show, movie, or Burger King-related.

so you see there have been good cross media games that have come out.. and yes i had home alone 2.. i don't think i ever got passed like the third stage. luckly that same year i got tetris which is still one of my favorite games to play. plus neverwinter nights which is an rpg everyone says is great as well as baldurs gate and icewind dale all based based on novel series that i've read and enjoyed. so you see it is possible to make good video games out of licensed material. you just have to make sure it gets put in the right hands to make it great.

Later days

Otaku Nick

Matt

OK, now games based on books are a bit of a different story, since I've heard this and that about Xenosaga's story originating from a novel... and of course, I loved the series. "Loved" in the past tense... isn't it sad that it's over with?

Anyway, Home Alone 2 was an atrocious game, and I sold it at a yard sale for three dollars a long time ago. That didn't stop me from actually beating the game, though, because unlike now, I actually had nothing better to do back then. This is exactly why I'm sure I wouldn't have a backlog if only I had a few months to kill; the roots of playing games, crappy or not, reside within me!

Thanks, Nick! I appreciate the letter.



"Got-Du-al-Blade~"


Hey Matt,

Lufia 2 is by far one of my favorite games. One of the things that I really liked about Lufia was the puzzles. I still remember the sliding floor puzzle, don't remember what I got from it but I'm sure it was worth it. All of the little side puzzles always had a nice piece of equipment at the end. I don't even know how long I spent exploring the 100 floor dungeon. I also liked the items, bombs, arrows, and even a hookshoot. It reminded me a lot of zelda as an RPG instead of an action adventure.

Matt

Surely. And the treasures even came along with that four-note fanfare, too, remember? I used to drive my brother crazy by singing in time to that music whenever I'd get something special, like "Got-Mi-ra-cle~" It's since become a bit of an inside joke in our family, funly.

As far as the PS3 vs. 360 I'm really not sold on either of them. I think I'm going to have to wait and see. So far it seems that there aren't many good games for either system.

Matt

Mmhmm. It's more in the "what's to come" column that you should be looking though. That's where I feel a bigger difference could potentially lie.

What I really want is a Wii, but alas I still can't find one anywhere around here. I even work at a wal-mart. I even unload them off of the trucks. Every time that we've gotten a shippment(which is rare) managment says, "we can't sell them yet." because we have to wait for the date in our ad before we are even allowed to sell them. So last time we got a shipment, at 1 in the morning the day of the sale after I got off work I tried to get one of our managers to sell me one. The ass. manager told me I had to come back at 7 when we opened like everyone else. So I showed up at six in the morning and waited, second person in line. 6:50 rolls around 9 people waiting(which was the number of Wiis we had) the electronics manager comes out saying they already sold them. I was pissed. The same manager that wouldn't sell me one the night before had opened the store at 3 in the morning to sell our 9 wiis to 6 people. Did I mention I HATE Wal-mart.

Matt

I hate Wal-mart for my own personal reasons that are actually first-hand, but that's a story for a whole different column. My mother kids around that she sold her soul to them in order to buy my Wii for Christmas, since she got there on launch day and was the last person in line to get one. What an awesome woman. ^^

Um, my problem right now is that the Wii reaaaallly doesn't have a much better library than the other two next-gen consoles right now, as far as I'm concerned. Zelda is phenomenal, yes, but beyond that, things are pretty barren. Of course, that will quite likely change by the end of this year, but hopefully Super Paper Mario is ridiculously fun enough to fill the gap.

One last thing to end this long e-mail, the length of video games. I just spent 50 bucks on God of War 2 , and I flew through the game in 12 hours. It was a really good game. It was pretty. It was fun. but it was SO short. On the other hand though overly long games can start to get boring. What I would really like would be a semi-short, roughly 20-30 hour, RPG with an insane amount of replay value. I'm not really sure how that would work but someone needs to work on it.

SuperKyle

Matt

I totally agree. I always feel ripped off when I play games that are on the short side, and it's partly because my parents were always penny-pinchers. I always felt nervous when ordering at restaurants, because I'd never dare to order anything costing more than, you know, $14 or $15 even though I'd really want the item that was $20. You might have heard that birthday/Dragon Warrior IV NES story, too, that I told a few weeks ago. Anyway, I'm digressing incredibly. Games need to be long enough to enjoy; I don't care how many kids have ADHD these days, and I don't care how many people have the attention span of a gerbil. Grr. So I understand you completely. Hopefully you feel like it was worth it, despite the lack of length!

In any event, thanks Mr. SuperKyle, for your input today!



JMS o' the week.


Hi Matt!

I think most people overlook a very important aspect of bosses - they can be fatal. For a last boss, I'd like two things - a save spot and the ability to escape and level up. Apart for those reasonable requests, I'd like a boss not to be so incredibly more difficult than the rest of the games (Lunar 2, I'm looking at you!). Storywise, I'd like him/her/it to make sense and not just jump out at the last second (FFIX, I'm looking at you! And maybe Chrono Cross too). I'd rather him to make sense and not just evolve into some strange winged beast in 512 battle stages (Everyone but mostly FF). If the boss has an emotional aspect to it ( i.e. FFX) that's just better. It makes you more involved if you're fighting something you know, and not just a mindless blob (Chrono Cross again).

As for random battles, I don't mind them as long as they're spaced far enough to allow to breath. Battle-avoiding items can be really helpful in these games, especially ones where leveling isn't that important. The bad things about non-random battles is that they can get in your way sometime (an area is impassable unless you fight them), depending on the game, leveling up can be cumbersome (you have to exit an area once you've cleaned it up). On the other hand, they allow you to target specifically the monsters you want, no need to search for hours for tonberries - they're just there.

Random battles can be quite easily balanced with an ample amount of HP-restoring spots - either save points, a lot of money to buy healing items or a cheap healing technique. That's the case with Rogue Galaxy for example. The save points serve as save points, healers and teleporters, so they're usually scattered evenly and adequately throughout a level.

Zohar Gilboa

Matt

That's a reasonable breakdown, I think.

I love your examples on final bosses, because it's so true. I actually kind of enjoy having multi-stage final battles, just because in general, I hate it when I know I've finished a game and it's all over with. Like you, though, I do appreciate when these bosses actually make sense.

I'm not sure where I stand on having healing points everywhere. The save points and ability to leave are integral, but I feel like many RPGs coddle their players these days. I don't think the trend is as bad as it used to be, but when games like FFX have two heal/save-points visible on the same screen, that's just a bit much. Heal-points suck the challenge out of games like a vampire sucks the blood out of a weak one's neck. A little bit of sucking isn't necessarily a bad thing, but once a game is bled dry, it's, well, dead. OK, weirdest metaphor ever. (I'm not into that kind of thing...)



Final Fantasy XII Spoilers for all! Read at your own risk: RAYOR!


Matt:

Well, two nights ago I finished Final Fantasy XII, and, therefore, spoilers ahead. To me it seemed like those final two hours (from the boss battles in Giruvegan onward) contained more story than the rest of the game put together. Despite the final punch of "ZOMG story," however, I was left wanting more. Intentional on S-E's part? Perhaps. Maybe they learned their lesson with X and X-2, and are now setting themselves up for a quality sequel in the form of Revenant Wings. The thing is, by the end, I truly cared about the characters, even that pathetic twit, Vaan (I still would have preferred to have Larsa in my party instead of Vaan; the whole time we were facing down Vayne, I kept worrying about whether or not Larsa was going to die). So I truly think S-E is planning to hit us with a two-parter and wrap up all the loose story ends with RW. Of course, since the game isn't out yet, we're left hanging with nothing better to do than discuss the failings of XII's story. Thoughts?

Matt

Careful: Spoiler-Heavy:

It's weird, you know? I didn't really care for the characters through the first 95% of the game, but the last sequence of movies and perhaps the dialogue contained within them helped to make me almost misty in the end. That's pretty good. In the end, I feel like in the scheme of things, there really aren't -that- many things left hanging in FFXII's story. Everyone kinda wants to know if Vaan and Penelo are actually, well, "you know." I personally was left thirsty for more details about the Occurian rebel and why he "went maverick," to put it in Mega Man terms, against his own. In a way, he was a kind of hero in himself, even if he worked to try and channel bigbig powers into Mr. You're-So-Vayne (I bet you think this song is about you). It's an interestingly-layered storyline in that regard, but I think it could have been told more interestingly.

Actually taking control of some different characters would have been really neat; as you say, following the storylines of Larsa or others at certain points would have been a really neat way to add a dimension to the plot.

But noooooo... games never do anything cool like that! Grr. And further, just while I'm thinking about it, I'm sick of the FFX and XII format of handing all of your allies to you in a little bag within the first two hours of gametime and having the party change never again throughout the next one hundred hours. Give me more of the FFIV or IX dynamics, where people leave and you actually miss them/wonder what they're up to! *shakes head*

Spoilers end here.

Sony hasn't shot themselves in the foot; it's more like they've shot themselves in the balls. They're hemorrhaging exclusives. Within the coming year I plan to buy the following systems: Wii, backup PS2, DS Lite, and GBA. Then, if I have money left over, I'll buy one of the upcoming black 360's (I already have a 360, by the way). Then, if I have the funds after all of those purchases, I might consider buying a PS3. By that time, however, S-E will probably have jumped ship, removing the last reason for me to invest in a PS3. Sony's going to lose this round; M$ and Pwntendo will split the market between them, each appealing to their own school of gamers.

Matt

It's true. I'm really, really wondering if it's too late for Sony in many ways. If their big franchises all spread their wings and travel to other consoles, then the only reason people will have to get a PS3 will be for PS3 Home. And that's not much of a reason, especially when the damn thing costs upwards of a thousand bucks. $699 + tax = $797 here in Ontario. How about where you live?

The 360 appears to be holding up exceptionally well. It's selling okay, despite what I consider to -also- be a high price, though it pales in comparison to other choices, of course. The thing to remember is that the killer for Sony will be that a pricedrop will almost certainly be countered by an equal pricedrop from Microsoft's side, since they can actually afford to do it. I wouldn't be surprised if the Wii's price dropped at the same time, considering they likely COULD have launched it at $200 and made money anyway. Those darn capitalist crooks, wanting to make a profit and all.

So now that FFXII is out of the way, I can focus on Pokemon for awhile. I had planned on playing through Pearl without a transfer team, but since then there's been an in-depth discussion of an RPGamer tournament, and I don't want to be completely creamed by CactuarJoe. By the way, the tourney will be open to anyone who has Diamond or Pearl and access to a WiFi hotspot. Anyway, the next game to go in my PS2 is going to be Dragon Quest VIII. Because there's nothing better to follow up a lengthy, in-depth RPG than another lengthy, in-depth RPG.

Take it easy.

-Jeffrey

Matt

I am SO at that tournament, you don't even know. That game alone is making me drool for the end of April; that's saying a lot, because my thesis defence is also at the end of April, and I'm dreading that like a daytime date with a wisdom-tooth-pulling orthodontist.



Good bosses, bad bosses.


Hi Matt!

So Lufia huh? Lufia II was my RPG cherry, oh the memories... anyways...

Matt

A late bloomer, then, are you? Earlier than those FFVII-boomers, though, I guess. Yeah, Lufia II was a gem.

Talking about good boss fights, I for the first time ever just beat a difficult boss by a margin of 1 hp. Poison + Five gravity attacks in a row left only Terra standing... Mostly though a good boss fight for me is usually about a good lead-up to the fight. Jecht in FFX was my favorite final bosses in an FF even though he went down in 3 hits. Though any longwinded boss fight that constintly mixes things up is good too. Fou-lu in Breath of Fire IV constintly had me switching party members, trying to get a good balance between offense, defense and theft.

Matt

See, I like those bosses too: The ones where you can't get away with just using one boring strategy through the whole fight, or the ones that suddenly blow you away by an attack you really weren't expecting at all, leaving you scrambling with the knowledge that you're potentially seconds from failure. So exciting.

Fou-lu! It's been years since I've thought of that guy. Oh, Breath of Fire IV... the only thing that wasn't average about the game was just how average it was.

Final fantasy tactics is coming out on PSP... my fanboyish nature demands that I spend $200 and forgo eating for a month... hope I dont have to import...

Matt

Enh. You can't wrap an old package in Balthier and sell it to me again. Final Fantasy VI was one thing, but FFT is another. The game really could use that new translation, though; I anticipate that the storyline might actually become simple to follow. Impossible!

Finally... Wii Virtual console of Seiken Densetsu 3 and Star Ocean would be nice...

Bye,
Dave

Matt

I'd personally be happy to see any untranslated game make it onto the Virtual Console, just so that we know that games like those are indeed possibilities. The problem is that Square Enix is in charge of both of those, and they haven't lifted a "virtual" finger as of yet. Most disappointing, but we still have a long way to go in the lifetime of the Wii, don't wii?



QUICKIES

Lord of the Slimes, what country do you believe could offer the most interesting and/or desirable perspective through a new RPG? That is, which country has never made an RPG before and is deemed worthy of the opportunity by you?

JuMeSyn

Matt
Canada! There's all sorts of huge terrain and interesting spots to explore, and heroes here can swing a mean axe. And with potential spells like "Mooseaga," there's no way you can disagree!

IN CLOSING

That does it for this week! I cannot say what the weekend terrain will be like in Questions and Answers, but I can only assume that Cast will be coming in at some point or another. I'll be back next Tuesday, one way or another, with more letters, and hopefully more slimes.

We're getting into a bit of a letter-crunch compared to last week, so if you can't think of anything to write about, I direct your attention to the Hot Topics on the sidebar! Empty inboxes do not happy columnists make, as you might suspect.

And... that's all from me! See you again soon, and have a safe weekend.



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 7 - officially iffy



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is looking forward to the weekend... nothing unusual there.


Matt is suddenly craving some serious Lufia with all this talk!

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