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ASK MATT
Text Box April 25, 2006

Matt - 16:39 EST

WELCOME TO THE BEGINNING of what is setting up to be another fantastic week of questions and answers, everyone! We have a lot to look forward to, including the newest guest host, BigWook, who will be joining me tomorrow. Besides that, there's a lot of things happening in the land of RPGs lately! Let's discuss:

First of all, has anyone seen those ridiculously-amazing looking Final Fantasy III screenshots? There is NO game that I'm looking forward to more right now than that one. How about that giant Electronics show that I'll be at two weeks from this very day?! Let's not forget that Advent Children has finally, at long last, been released to North American video stores.

For those of you who have been waiting, my review of Wild Arms: Alter Code F made it into the latest Points of View update, so if you're thinking about buying the game, or if you just want to see how things shook out in the end for me, you might want to take a look. That would be my third review for the site, and the next will probably come in a little while, once I've polished off Radiata Stories or Riviera, both of which are quite the fun off-beat games so far. Stay tuned!

Now, focus your attention on this handful of letters that I'm about to serve up for you, medium. (Medium-rare is just a bit too bloody for my tastes...)




L E T T E R S
They're not my favourite games, but they're SOMEONE'S favourite games out there!


Wow, I'm honored that my very first letter ever written in was posted, incentive to keep the letters coming in I suppose. Anyway, I believe that you mentioned in the past that you weren't to fond of Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, due to tedious missions and sub-quests, along I imagine with the sound glitches. I am one of the many that had the experience of the game freezing up after the final boss. Now to my question, is this bad experience with part one going to prevent you from getting Eternal Mana 2. I've heard that it's a much improved game, and one of your esteemed colleagues gave it a decent review.

Matt

Of course! I think that a lot of people have the illusion that if they send in a letter, it isn't likely to be posted, but in reality, I'd guess that at least half, and probably more like three-quarters of my e-mails make it to this column. So, be encouraged! Write in, if you're one of the dubious folk!

As for Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, it was a very sweet, very happy game. I had trouble with the play control, primarily, which was made doubly bad by what I deem to be preposterously terrible graphics for the PS2. Yes, I know I'm not a graphics-centered guy, usually, but when they're so bad that they actually interfere with your perception, things are not at all well. The storyline wasn't very strong, most of the characters were pretty shallow, and the battle scene wasn't really my cup of tea either, being rather excessively easy. The glitchiness was really just the cherry on top, if you know what I'm saying.

Will that influence my likelihood of buying the sequel? Yeah, it probably will, honestly, even though I've heard that this game is a big improvement. A much bigger factor, though, is that I've already got my hands full with a number of other games at the moment, with no end really in sight at all. Perhaps one day, I'll see it on the Used Games shelf and pick it up for later play.

Also do you plan on playing Kingdom Hearts 2, or did your sour experience with the original convince you not too.

Now onto my sock answers. 178:D and 179: uhhhh A.

Gilgamesh


Matt

Kingdom Hearts is one of those games that I mostly followed through my siblings. I didn't really experience it for myself, because I could tell from watching that it would be something that wouldn't turn my crank in the right manner. Yeah, I ran around and fought enemies for my brother for a little while to gain a level while he did homework, but not much more than that. All in all, from watching him fight normal battles and bosses alike, it seems like a game whose battle system just needs some serious beefing-up, for starters. The technical stuff is fine... the graphics are pretty and the music is exceptional, but the game just doesn't attract me on a "game" level, if that makes any sense.

Anyhow, thanks for the second letter, Gilgamesh! I'll be waiting for your third in future days! ^_^



More games that aren't for me! How about that...


Hey Matt,

As with the Wild ARMs series, as much as I went through Wild ARMs 3 it never once glitched on me to where the characters turns wouldn't ever come up, so it could have been the PS2's. To the other guy who mentioned that his game just stopped in the Abyss, he could have always opened the cd tray, closed it, and waited a bit for the PS2 to catch the data it missed. It's never happened for me on a PS2 game, but on the PSX it'd sometimes happen on RPG's, other times on games with long loading(Warhammer for example,) but just open and close the lid when it stops, and then it'll catch the data it missed and start working again(usually when the PSX was old or if the game had a scratch.)

Matt

Well, that's certainly a possibility. It's funny you mention it, though, because in my case, for ACF, I actually tried that on a few occasions; when the movies ground to a halt, I opened up the disc tray and closed it again to try and defibrillate things. It wasn't very effective for me, though...

Anyways, Wild ARMs Alter Code F is by far the worst in the series. As a fan of the WA series, I didn't mind the graphics and thought the recreation of the opening in 3d was really great. Then playing the game was a bit of a downfall. Not only was the game extremely easy, all the towns and dungeons were alot smaller than originally. The equipment system was removed, and we were given a Personal Point system that's in no way even close to as good as what Wild ARMs 3 had going for it. It's pretty pathetic when a character like Jack and Cecilia's attack and magic power was based solely on their levels, and sure you could say the same on Wild ARMs 3, but each character could actually equip three runes, which altered stats, as well as leveling your gun up a certain way, depending on how you want the character. I hate to say it, but Alter Code F just clearly sucked, and it was a remake of such a great game too.

Anyways Matt, have you ever played the original Wild ARMs, second, third, or fourth? If you haven't then I'd definitely recommend those games because they are some of the best games the genre has to offer.

-andrew- -kupomogli-


Matt

You know, you're right. The game wasn't all that it was cracked up to be; I felt that the other reviews at this site were a bit overscored, and that's the main reason that I wrote my own. I wanted to portray a different perspective, from someone who hasn't played a Wild Arms game before, ever, and who thus would be devoid of possible bias-inducing nostalgic heartstring pluckage while playing through. To me, while the game is full of little badnesses, it is ruined by only one: the translation is shockingly bad, ripe with "their/there/they're" errors, incomplete sentences, and altogether terrible dialogue. For me, personally, when a game's battle system is unexciting at best, the plot/character development/gameplay needs to pick up the slack, and with a localization job like this one, it is absolutely impossible for that to happen (though the plot, on its own, was certainly fragmented-feeling enough to begin with).

Despite what I feel about ACF, the game did indeed open my eyes to the series, and it has sparked enough interest in me to go and research the original, which looks so surprisingly and wonderfully different. In particular, the in-battle character graphics look like 3-D-ized versions of the sprites from Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, which is humourous (and slightly suspicious), considering the huge number of parallels between the two games.

I might try playing WA3 sooner or later, since I got it for my brother last Christmas, and as all RPGaming fans know, game-presents to siblings are a bit self-serving for the reason that they are delightfully easy to steal back. It shall be borrowed one day, I'm sure! On the side, I'm interested, too, in why Wild Arms 2 gets almost no mention at all; it's like the black sheep game that no one is willing to talk about, it seems, which intrigues me.



The case of the disappearing games...


Hi. I'm a huge fan of the phantasy star series, and the news (a while ago) about two through four being remade was incredible. I was wondering if you guys know anything about why the news (and possible production) of the phantasy star trilogy has stopped. Thank you.

Brad Parker.


Matt

Well, Brad, in this world of RPGs, it is sometimes the case that games just fall by the wayside quietly, never to be heard from again. Such seems to have been the case with the Phantasy Star Trilogy. You're right; it was planned to be released for awhile, and it was supposed to contain PSI, II, and IV, if I remember correctly. It'd be nice, honestly, if such cancellations were explicitly announced, though, because they aren't always, and this leaves gamers like yourself hanging with shreds of hope. This happens from time to time; it tragically occurred to the Dragon Quest IV remake which we were supposed to receive a couple of years ago, and trust me when I tell you that that one hurt me a whole lot! As for yours, though, I don't think it's likely we'll see this title anytime soon, if at all, I'm afraid.



Sex Sales! I don't mean that in a, you know, prostitutionary way.


Ok Matt,

I've got a little more mature question for you today. What are your thoughts on sex in RPGs? I'm not talking nudity or porn, just sex. I know I've probably missed some major RPG that makes this a big part of, but most mainstream RPG love stories are boy meets girl, kissy, kissy stories.

Matt

Sex in RPGs, hmm? It might make the high-strung yuppies out there go absolutely nuts, but if we can shove blood, intestines, and exploding brains into our video games, then I think that of course, sex could (and, perhaps, should) be a part of video games as well, when portrayed responsibly. Here's my take: I've never understood why it's not okay to show someone's bum on TV (a natural something that everybody has), but it IS okay to show someone smashing another over the head with a baseball bat several times, causing massive, irreparable damage and possibly loss of life. Violence is something that is just so much more unacceptable, in my eyes, though that's just my point of view. The amount of attention invested towards Janet Jackson a few years back because of her "wardrobe malfunction" was a perfect example, I think, of how twisted our society has become. People, it was a nipple (and it was covered up anyway)! If people just chilled out a bit and focused on something more productive, we'd get so much more accomplished.

In RPGs, sex could certainly be used as a plot device to help in character development, perhaps. I'd say that a lot of the time, the kissy stories you talk about act as a cover for "what really happened." I mean, you can't tell me that you don't think Tidus and Yuna had a little bit more fun there by the pond, can you? It was a loooong adventure!

I really like it when sex is implied symbolically, though; the scene between Maduin and Madonna in the World of Espers in FFVI is a perfect example of what I mean. Nudity or "porn" in itself isn't really necessary, I don't think.

Have a missed any RPGs that really hit on this? I vaguely recall some hints of sex from Xenogears, but it seemed like such a minor part. Should it be in RPGs or should it just stay in the bedroom?

- Macstorm


Matt

Certainly, it shouldn't be included in all games, but to me, that's exactly why we have a ratings system in place. If there's a scandalous moment in the game, then by all means, rate it Teen or even Mature. And, while I think that in many or most cases it might not be necessary to take that route in order to create a perfectly fine plot, there is no reason to rule it out in all cases.

Other RPGs? I can't think of any others, besides the ones I've hinted at above. I've heard that the original script of Final Fantasy IV made it very obvious that Cecil and Rosa were more than just good friends, but I can't really verify it at all. Otherwise, I'm sure I'm missing some, too.

At any rate, thanks for writing in on what should prove to be an interesting new topic of conversation!



Do or die, Big N.


"Inindo: Way of the Ninja"... I had never heard of this game before today. It looks like a neat little oldschool RPG. I'm tempted try to snag a copy off of Ebay but I'm really trying to hold off on the classic game purchases until we know more about the Revolution's game catalogue. That's certainly on my E3 wishlist: what games are they going to be including and how much are they going to cost?

Best,
Erika


Matt

That, m'darlin', would be my million dollar question as well. Since, outside the controller, we have heard next to nothing new from Nintendo since the last E3, this year's would be an excellent time for them to do big things. By "excellent," of course, I mean "absolutely necessary," because if they don't start pumping out details, they'll be run into the ground by every media website around. Nintendo, unfortunately, has been the third-place contender in consoles for quite some time, but I think that if they play their cards right, they could get back into the game one day soon. Unfortunately, such successful actions would include releasing some of their games before the next century arrives. What good is a "perfect" game if it's never released?

So, yes, I'd love to receive many more details about the download-and-play feature, about prospective titles for the console, and about the timeframe- how long will it be before we have Revolutions in our own living rooms? Right now, it's anybody's guess.



Ooh, a list, and a question of music, all in one!


Matt or not-Matt,

I seem to remember one RPG columnist mentioning a favorite boss music a while ago (was it FFVIII's "Force Your Way"?). Maybe my memory is shot, but I still have an inquiry to make on the subject. If you (the Q&A person) had to do a top 10 list of RPG battle music, boss or otherwise, how would it go? Here's mine:

1. The Decisive Battle (FFVI) (boss music)
2. Those Who Fight Further (FFVII)
3. The Brink of Death (Chrono Cross)
4. Fighting of the Spirit (Tales series)
5. Force Your Way (FFVIII)
6. Battle 2 (Skies of Arcadia) (ship deck battle music, I think)
7. Gothic Neclord (Suikoden II)
8. Tieger and Neesa (Vagrant Story)
9. World Revolution (Chrono Trigger)
10. Fight 2 (FFIV) (boss music)

I would say to branch out towards non-RPGs and make it that much tougher, but this is a RPG website and I figured it would work out well enough as is.

Matt

Oh, you people and your requests! Well, let's see, I think I agree with a lot of your selections. The ones I know are all pretty good, I think, notably World Revolution and Force Your Way. I'm not so familiar with "Those Who Fight Further," in that I've never even heard of it. What do you speak of?

Anyway, if I had to compile my own list, I'd say something like this:

1. A Moment of Joy (Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter)... so good, like ALL of the music in that game.

2. Integral Body and Imperfect Soul (Star Ocean: The Second Story)... if you want "evil sounding," this would be it.

3. One-Winged Angel (Final Fantasy VII)... because who doesn't remember how amazing it was the first time?

4. Man With the Machine Gun (Final Fantasy VIII)... it brings back incredible memories for me, for some reason.

5. Battle with Magus (Chrono Trigger)... so wonderfully dramatic.

6. Challenge (Final Fantasy X)... because it's so COOL and wonderfully different.

7. Doom Dragon Battle (Golden Sun: The Lost Age)... I could have picked any of about six different themes, but this one is just so wonderfully panicky. Even though GS isn't my favourite game, it has some of the best music ever released for any handheld system, ever.

8. The Fierce Battle (Final Fantasy VI)... no need for explanation here whatsoever.

9. Necrosaro's Battle theme (Dragon Warrior IV)... it's just the perfect climax to one of the best NES RPGs ever.

10. Shadow Queen battle (Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)... this might seem like a curious addition to those who haven't played the game. To those that HAVE, it's the most amazing blend of old-school sounds with crazy, almost atmospheric effects. I was really, shockingly, impressed with it.

And that about does it for my list! There are about a hundred others that I want to include: Xenosaga: Episode II has a couple of battle themes that could have made the cut for me, and I've always loved Dragon Warrior VII's regular battle music for being so delightfully kooky and fun.

A little late, but my most cherished gaming memory is the one that started it all. I was a young kid wanting some digital excitement; I had asked my grandparents for one of those new toys called a Nintendo Entertainment System. My Atari 2600 broke 2-3 months after it was purchased, and I figured I could upgrade. The Nintendo looked like it was a lot of fun, and it WAS! I was so excited to unwrap that present that once I had unveiled its greatness from the festively decorated paper, I rushed upstairs --- neglecting ALL of my other unwrapped presents --- to plug that sucker in. My mom finally convinced me that it was a good idea to come back and open the rest of my presents and not keep my sister waiting, so I did. But I played for a good 5 hours that night with my family, I think. Forget Pong, Tank, Cops & Robbers, E.T., and Kool-Aid Man... the Atari did not have enough gaming power to draw me in. The NES did; it did for a lot of people. That was my true introduction into video games. And Nintendo builds those systems to last, too! [insert two broken Sony consoles here] My original NES still works like a charm, unlike some of the other consoles I've invested in over the years. [fire two broken Sony consoles out of a cannon here]

Matt

You're telling me. While my NES is sputtery, it still works on good days, and my SNES hasn't broken down once in almost fifteen years. Meanwhile, I complain about my PS2 twice weekly in this column, on average, because it's quite evidently slowly losing its effectiveness at reading discs. Sad.

I remember getting my NES, too; I was so excited, and when my oldest sister, Annette, helped me plug it in, I was in absolute heaven. My first games were Super Mario Bros, which I of course loved, as well as Ironsword, which I also loved, and Solar Jetman, which I eventually grew to love even more than the previous two; that game is now easily one of my all-time favourites, and my completely unrealistic dream would be for Rare to one day make a sequel in a similar fashion. Oh, sigh.

I didn't get introduced to RPGs until I rented FFVI for the SNES. I started playing one of the already-saved files commonly found on rental cartridges back in the day --- it was saved around the first trip to Thamasa. That was the moment that got me hooked on the RPGs.

--- Kaz (currently uploading a new array of video game ringtones into his mobile phone)


Matt

So, Final Fantasy VI took your RPGVirginity from you? I'd call you a late bloomer, but I guess that WAS almost twelve years ago now. Can you imagine what RPGamer will be like in thirty years, when I'll be sitting here at the age of 53, talking about how much I loved the games of forty years ago? The thought is almost frightening. As it stands, I've been playing for about fifteen already.

Anyway, thanks for the letter, Kaz! If I had a cell phone, I'd love to get a ringtone for FFVII's "Debut" (the music that plays during your theatrical performance at the Golden Saucer), just because that would be too funny.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Ah, RPG soundtracks. Letters like that last one send me into la-la land, because I start listening to old themes, which all invoke incredible memories, and then instill great desire in me to play the games they come from, which is a very dangerous thing, because I'm only starting to make progress on that oft-mentioned backlog of mine! Tsk, tsk, Kaz... tsk, tsk. That said, the subject of RPG music is absolutely one of my favourites, so any of you who feel like keeping the discussion up... feel free. ^_^

Flashay!


Oh yes, it's another week of SOCK, for sure. But before we begin, shan't we look at the answers from Friday?

#178 didn't trip many of you up; e) Riviera: The Promised Land and Wild Arms both share the name Asgard, which is the name of Riviera's realm of gods and Wild Arms' big fun vehicle. 220 points! Boy, I was feeling generous, wasn't I?

#179 was Bainick's question about the obscure game entitled "Inindo," in which you play a ninja. Around the chest in question, there are reportedly b) 4 torches, for 200 points, with 400 going to Bainick for submitting the question so kindly. Thanks very much, and of course, I'm always accepting more submissions!

Question #180:
What colour is Odin's cape in Final Fantasy V? (235 points)

a) Green
b) Black
c) Blue
d) Gold
e) Red

Question #181:
The main character of Radiata Stories shares his name with a breed of what animal? (190 points)

a) Dog
b) Cat
c) Horse
d) Bat
e) Rabbit


SOCK's Award List

*You may obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!*

500 points: Your choice of Point Doubler (1 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)
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5,000 points: Your choice of Mithril Armor (2 left) or Point Tripler (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Point Doubler (1 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)


Click Here For Item Descriptions!

SOCK's Prize Shop

*You may SPEND points here in order to obtain any of the following prizes- new ones may appear at any time*

1,000 points: Matt's Mom's Cookie Compilation- 6 fantastic recipes right out of Matt's mom's amazing kitchen! Yours, upon request. (5 left)

2,000 points: Intro Paragraph Cameo- If you feel like having a piece of Q&A all to yourself for a day, but you're not up for answering a bunch of questions, this option might be just for you! Say the word, and the Intro Paragraph is yours to do whatever you want with for a day. (5 left)

5,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #3- The goal of many a SOCK competitor is to rule the column alongside me for a day. Say the word, and it's yours, if you have the points to spend. (2 left)

10,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #3.5- Ah, why not? Cohost days are fun, so here are a couple of extra chances for you to snag, if you're so inclined. (3 left)

20,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #4- It might sound like a lot, but it'll be here before you know it. Your next chance to reign over Q&A with yours truly. (5 left)

25,000 points: Full Host Opportunity #1- This is it. Write your own Q&A section, without having me interrupt, break in, or steal your sunshine. Be RPGamer's new idol for a day! (1 left)

30,000 points: Your choice of Megaman X4, X5, or X6 for the PSX. If you're into the Megaman series as much as I am, and you don't own any of these, I don't need them any more, now that I have purchased the collection. You can take your pick, and I'll send it to you in the mail with a handwritten note of congratulations from myself. They aren't RPGs, for sure, but I'm working on it for the future. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left)

*********************************************************


There will be more in the way of answers and questions tomorrow! I've touched on a few subjects throughout to focus your attention towards, but any old topic will do, as always. I hope you have a most pleasant day!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt head is clearing up gradually!


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Listen, I don't care what anyone says-- the Xenosaga II soundtrack beats the crap out of the Episode I soundtrack. I can't stop listening to the music...

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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Radiata Stories

2. Riviera: The Promised Land

3. Metroid Prime Hunters

Matt's Top 3 Gaming Desires:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. The New Super Mario Bros.

3. Final Fantasy XII

SOCK standings:

1. Belthasar2
6,809 pts

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6,490 pts

3. MagRowan
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4,658 pts

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14. Erika
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17. Ourobolus
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18. BigWook
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19. Gaijin
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21. Alexander M.D.
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