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Perpetual Hiccups May 2, 2006

Matt - 15:42 EST

DIDJA MISS ME? Yeah, there was a party last Friday night of the triple-birthday variety, and not only was I attending it, but I was helping to throw it. The result, of course, was that I didn't have the time to put up last Friday's column, and thus, Uncle Andrew had to come in and heroically save the day. I apologize for my sudden disappearance.

On a completely unrelated topic, over the past few hours I have been enduring one of the worst cases of hiccups that I can remember ever having. It's gone well past the point of being "mildly unpleasant"; they're beginning to really hurt, and I'm becoming less and less happy with every spasm (they're coming about once every fifteen seconds at this point). Why does one's body choose to punish one's self in this manner? I have no idea, but it's really frustrating, and I'd do almost anything at this point to get them to just go away forever.

E3 is in a week! It doesn't feel like it at all, but one week from today, I will not be in Kansas anymore (Toto), nor will I be in Guelph, Ontario; nay, I will be in the great state of California, hopefully with the opportunity to see what exactly our favourite video game companies have prepared for all of us to salivate over in the months to come. An exciting trip, 'twill be, I suspect.

No further commentary; let's get to the questions!

Wild Arms starts the column off again this week!

Good Day Mr. Matt,

I would like to throw my hat into the ring on the Wild Arms discussion, and incidentally every other discussion you've been having lately.


Sweet, Mr. I-don't-technically-know-your-name-until-the-end-of-this-letter! Thanks for the mail, first of all... now, let's hear what you have to say.

I have played all 5 Wild Arms games and have completed 3 of the 5. I recently completed Wild Arms 3, and I have to say I was incredibly disappointed with the conclusion. I won't go into details for the sake of not spoiling it for others, but anyone who's completed the game should know of what I speak. After investing $50 and over 40 hours of my time I want a good ending, is that too much to ask??


My brother, Chris, often makes cameo appearances in this column, and this would be a great opportunity for him to appear yet again, for he's the one who has played the game. All I've heard from him on the matter was that he spent the last half of the game thinking that he was at the end. I don't actually know if he got to the very end, but I've heard that the ending is disappointing from other people too, so you can't be too far off the mark.

Anyway, while playing WA3 I realized something, Virginia is, I believe, supposed to be the main character...and she's a woman SHOCK!!!!!! No one ever brought her up in the female lead discussion if I remember correctly. Plus, because of the level of customization involved in WA3, she also retained the possibility to be the most powerful character if you customize her correctly.


Ah yes! The thought did flash through my mind at one point, but you're absolutely right when you point out that no one has mentioned Virginia so far, unless aliens have beamed down and zapped the short-term memory right out of my brain. Trust me, it's not completely outside the realm of possibility.

On the subject of "intimate relations" in video games, Wild Arms 2 contained a scene of either blatent "relations" or it was implied, I can't clearly remember. I can't recall the exact scene, but Ashley (main character) and his country town main intrest had a good night. I believe it was near the middle of the story. Can anyone who's actually played WA2 help me out here?


Awesome!! I haven't hiccupped in over ten minutes now! Oh, I'm filled with hope that this horrible status ailment has run its course at long last. Oh yeah, and Wild Arms 2sies, write in and answer his question for me like he asked while I blab meaninglessly.

On the subject of WA2 itself, the game itself was ok, but what I remember of it was the in battle graphics were worse(?) than those of WA1, they were VERY "blocky." Understandibly, WA1 was one of the 1st games on the Playstation. However, WA2 came along late in the Playstation life, and for the in battle graphics to still be that bad is...well inexcusable.


Graphics aren't that high on my priorities list, though if a certain standard is met, it's far more likely to indicate that yes, the developers actually cared about the game enough to do more than just slap it together and shove it onto shelves. I don't think that bad graphics can ruin a game, necessarily, but they can start one off with a serious handicap; that's for sure. Again, for all of you that haven't seen WA1 (or 2) "in person," you should go check out the screenshots here at the site. Okay, fine, I'll give you some links: Look HERE and THERE to see exactly how far the series has come in the past decade, graphically. Aren't they cute? <3

While I've been reading the QnA column, I've noticed a lot of talk about bad or sub-standard Playstation 2's. 1st, on the subject of your problems with WA:Alter Code F, if you have a 1st or 2nd generation PS2 then the problem is that the WA:ACF disk is a dual layer DVD disc. I have been experiencing problems with the game locking up as well, and the only other game I've had those problems with was God of War which is also a dual layer DVD. It may be the problem, it may not be. Anyway I digress. I was one of the 20 people in America who was able to get a PS2 on it's release date. (It was magic, I worked in an electronics store and my boss actually held one for me without me asking her.) Aside from WA:ACF and God of War, I have experienced zero problems with my PS2. (I know I'm dooming myself and it will blow up now) But I'm confused as to the problem that others are having. I haven't done anything odd to mine that I know of. I always set my PS2 upright instead of horizontal, and never watch DVD's on it, Maybe that was the trick?


The problem for me in that argument is simply that you should be able to play horizontally without worries; you should be able to play DVDs with no fear of system-meltdown; heck, you should even be able to play DVDs horizontally! My system stopped playing DVDs consistently, for those that haven't heard yet, after a paltry eight months, and quit altogether shortly thereafter. To me, when a company says that "you can play/watch this media type, that media type, and this other one, with this system!" you should be able to do so for longer than a calendar year. I wouldn't normally generalize, but because similar problems to these have been so widely reported, I have no problem doing so. Making shoddy consoles and selling them for obscene prices is not a good business practice, and there should be consequences for those actions; if even my little rants every day on RPGamer are the only consequences, I'll die a happy man. (There's some messed-up life priorities for you, huh?)

One last thing, on the subject of black characters in RPG's, I think General Leo is a black character in Final Fantasy VI. I could be wrong but the artwork for him looked black.


Noooooo... really?? NO way, I don't buy that! He's got a darker-complexioned closeup shot, sure. His character sprite is so white, though! I've never thought of him as black at all. Am I off my rocker?? Or am I on the ball, here?

Well I've rambled on enough, and I can hear the snores of the other readers, but that's their problem, stop just reading you lazy bums and write in. It's more fun!!


Yay!! You're definitely a smart one; there's no way I could NOT include your letter with a sentence like that. Nice work, Sneaky McDuff.

My question is which 2nd level (niche) RPG series is the best? (my opinion is that Top level rpg's are the Final Fantasy's and Dragon Warrior's (I refuse to call it Dragon Quest) of the world.) In my opinion the best 2nd level series is Breath of Fire. I love that series!

Where in the hell did I get "Sneaky McDuff" from?

Personally, while Breath of Fire is an excellent series that is less popular, I'm going to have to place my opinion in either the Mario RPG or the Xenosaga buckets. Even the disappointments in each series have been at least good, as far as I'm concerned. I'd say "Mother" instead of both, but to North Americans, that isn't really a series, thanks to the meanies at Nintendo. Ooh, the spite! Did you hear that Nintendo?? YOU'D BETTER BE SHOWING US MOTHER 3 AT E3!!

Sock Answers: Time for me to start this.
#184 D) Cinnamon from Mega Man X Command Mission!
#185...well it's completely arbitrary but I'll take A) Axes

I hope to be a regular contributer to QnA if time permits.



I hope so too, Talon! I also hope that I was accurate in my assumptions over the past few paragraphs that you are, indeed, male. If not, just exchange all of my "he"s for "she"s and such, and we should be all set.

A Gaijin letter about... something

Hey-ho Matt!

A question of sorts for you : Have you ever reached a point in a game where the going gets too tough for a while? Where you just HAVE to slum it in some dungeon for an hour or two before your levels are a match for the challenge? Don't you just HATE that at times? I've been there before, and I'm there right now --for the second time, no less!-- in Grandia III. I blast, I slash, I blow things to high heaven, but Mother Breed stays alive... and then I finally check an FAQ, and the only one to mention levels idly states that the writer was at level 30 or so when they fought her, and she was a breeze. I go back to my PS2 to check my own level... 23.


Up to this point, I was just assuming they'd made the level to be challenging, not that I was severely underleveled (not to mention under-equipped, since I was living out of treasure chests for my weapons). Funny thing was, the same thing happened with the last major boss battle before this.

Honestly, the last time this happened to me was when I was in Dragon Quest 6, and I went up against Mudo at level 19... and 20... and 21... and 22... and I finally beat him at whatever level that one girl character learns the all-effect defense spell... Granted, I felt a massive wave of accomplishment after finally kicking that scaly moron's behind....

Oh well... anecdote's over. Has this ever happened to you, though?

--Gaijin Monogatari


Hey, yeah, you're definitely talking to someone who thinks that Dragon Warrior I and II were absolutely phenomenal games. What does that mean? It means that not only have I experienced many moments like that, but I've actually enjoyed them from time to time!

There's something wonderfully gut-wrenching when you realize after you go to a new cave or tower that you're into something a little too deep. When these challenges occur in the right places, it can be really dramatic and exciting, I think; evil villains' castles are best served with big jumps in enemy difficulty, because otherwise, I get disappointed. I dunno about you.

As long as the level-gaining isn't too terribly boring, I find it fun to watch my characters grow, and I love venturing back into the challenge after levelling-up to see first-hand exactly how things have changed. This is why games like Dragon Quest turn me on so much; there are so many other RPGs out there where you never, ever have to worry about difficulty anywhere except for the occasional boss fight, and then for circumstancial reasons only. How can great challenge be pleasurable, then, some of you might ask? Because when you finally do succeed, it feels like such a great accomplishment; it feels like a victory that you actually had to work for, as Gaijin mentioned above. I only wish that more RPGamers shared this point of view!

New feature time!

Hey Slimer, loved ya in Ghostbuster I + II.

Anywho, the quote is from Shadow Hearts: From The New World, and is said by Mao during the movie scene. I don't know if anyone has gotten it yet and I'm too lazy to look. (At least I admitted it.)


All eyes to the right: Josh tried to introduce this new thing a little bit ago, but I didn't take notice, and only now am I sticking into the column. Yes, that's an official list of quotes that includes their sources for all of you to feast your eyes upon! We never had one of those before, until recently, so enjoy.

Anywho, question time: In light of some new detail about the Revolution and the Wii, do you think this greatly increases Nintento's chances of playing a major role in the next gen saga?


What new detail, the name? I haven't heard much information in the practical, traditional definition of information, though I'll say that the name can only be detrimental for them in the North American market. Altogether too many people are responding by saying "Whaaaaaat...?" and some of those idiots will use the odd name as an excuse to not buy the console. To me, it's just a name; who in the hell cares what it's called as long as it has some decent games? If there's one thing I like about the name, it's the way that the word looks from a purely aesthetic standpoint. Other than that, well, it's interesting; that much is sure.

Do I think it increases Nintendo's chances of playing a major role? Not enough information yet, my friend. Right now, my prediction would be that the Wii will sit about the same in popularity as the Gamecube is sitting right now; admittedly, not very high, but at least "in the game." The Wii really needs to be a hit, because Nintendo can't really afford to lose market share at this point.

A longie, to wrap things up. We used to call the long blocks in Tetris "longies," by the way.

Good day,

I haven’t written to your website in quite a while, but I had some questing for some questions that could only be answered by you. Now, I never follow the theme, and I lack segues, so let us sally forth to the questions. Excelsior!


You may lack segues, but you more than make up for it in dramatic introductions of destiny. Gesundheit!

1. A friend who works at a videogame store and I we’re having a discussion about Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, when inexplicably the conversation gravitated towards videogames—more specifically, RPG’s with real world maps. Now, I could recall two games that had real world maps—Dragon Warrior 3 being one of them—but darned if I could recall the name of the second. All I could remember about it was that said game had a real world map, but that it had been flipped so that all the position of the continents were reversed, and they were all facing the other way. Could you please put the question to your readers? I fear it shall eat away at me like some particularly virulent plague should I never learn the answer


Sure! You heard him. What is the answer?

You know, I'd say that there are a lot of world maps out there that at least vaguely resemble the continental patterns of the real world, perhaps because it's a pattern that works for RPG flow, especially when you throw in fun elements like boats, airships, and if you're playing Final Fantasy VIII, cars. Thankfully, I haven't played that one lately; I wouldn't want to know what the price of fuel has gone up to by now.

2. Sweet guinea pig of Winnipeg! What is up with the debacle, clustereff, and fiasco that is FFXII? I’d heard about some of the radical changes they’d planned for the series, but I until I played the demo, I had no idea just how asinine they’d be. I thought I was in for a real-time battler like Zelda or Kingdom Hearts, not Johnny McScrewups Colossally Bad Idea. I mean, what insane genius at Square-Enix thought diabolically to themselves: “Gamers love to play MMORPG’s with their clunky battle systems that are specifically crafted that way because of lag, so it then follows that would also love to play selfsame clunky battle system off-line in a game that isn’t a MMORPG.” And then they cackled evilly to themselves. Ugh. The game is just sheer awfulness coated with sickly sweet caramel inanity, topped with the sour cherry of rankness. This is one gamer who has no desire to play said horrible game, and who also won’t be waiting in line come sale day.


My initial opinion was so similar. I played the demo and was absolutely aghast at how "messy" it felt. I kept saying "What a kick in the teeth; they might as well have made another MMORPG, because that's what they made the damn game feel like." I hated the fact that all of a sudden, I had to worry about stupid things like the camera, and that in the real-time world, strategy would be soundly replaced with idiotic and simplistic hacking and slashing.

I'm optimistic, though, that things will be better than that. While I'm not a fan of action RPGs (and this IS an action RPG, I don't care what any of you say), there have not been very many negative words said about the Japanese version of the game at all, and Famitsu did give it a perfect score. Square Enix hasn't made too many missteps in the past, and I hope that this doesn't count as one of them.

There still will be, however, some things that bug the hell out of me. The MP trickle, for one, is just unforgivable. "It's not as if MP wasn't easy enough to acquire in the first place in FF games, so let's make it even dumber and less needful of strategic use!" they say. The fact that the real-time battles could create chaos with only one camera angle to view it with at any given time is bothersome, too; I get the feeling that I'll be griping about bad camera for a long time after I start playing. Surely, the graphics will be amazing, and I hope that the music is just as good; the plot probably won't be too shabby either. But, it's the GAME part of the game that worries me most; all we can really do is wait and see.

3. To what would you attribute the poor sales of Xenosaga II: Nietzchean subtitle that is also a book? Do you think gamers felt cheated by the ‘To Be Continued” ending from Episode 1? Or do you think they licked their way through the Tootsie Roll Pop candy-coated pseudo-philosophy, only to find there was nothing at the centre, and thus were embittered by it? And how do you feel about the series coming to a premature end?


I think that a lot of people bought Xenosaga thinking that it was going to be one thing, when they were actually served up another. That other thing was really attractive to some players, and a lot of new players like myself were bitten by the bug. At the same time, it really turned off a lot of the Xenogears fans who were hoping for more of the same, when "same" was definitely not what Xenosaga was. Sales of Episode II were further slowed by the fact that the people that did love Episode I generally didn't like Episode II as much, after they super-simplified many of the systems, ripped some great features out of the game altogether, and then made it even shorter than its prequel. Not the best smorgasbord of features, truly, and when the word got out, a lot of people decided to give the game the cold shoulder.

I personally feel really disappointed, because I went out and bought Xenogears just to see how the two stories would link up. Perhaps the link will still be there, but it would have been really neat to see a Xenosaga: Episode V remake one day, and it doesn't look like that day is near. I think it's too bad; Xenosaga was turning into a good new "alternative series" to my everyday Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Ohhh well.

Actually, what I really want to know is where that damn Xenogears remake is? I always wanted to play disc 2, not read about it.


Well, blame the fans, I guess! Or, the lack of them; I guess would be a more accurate description of the truth. If we ever see a remake, it won't be for an awfully long time, unless Episode III randomly sells three million copies or something, in which case Namco might just reconsider its terminal decision of yesteryear.


5. What do you think of Kindgom Hearts 2? I'm enjoying it, but it's not without its flaws. First and foremost amongst said flaws is that the plot is sparse, nor as compelling and cohesive as the first game. It feels like a series of disconnected episodes playing at being a gestalt, rather than a coherent amalgamated whole. Organization XIII's motives are far too nebulous for their own good; I got little sense of them or their desires, and thus found them lacking as villains. The worlds, while diverse, are mostly bland and uninteresting, and the few that buck that trend are too short, e.g. Space Paranoids, Hollow Bastion, Port Royal, Pride Lands, Halloween Town. And the levelling? They give out levels like candy on Halloween. Those flaws notwithstanding, I still find myself playing it whenever I can.

Thank you kindly for your time.




From what I've heard, the game, from a game point of view hasn't improved too much; while camera angles have been improved, combat has become even easier, and worlds have become completely linear, generally made quite uncreatively, which to me is a grave sin in a game that should be the most creative one around. The saving grace, everyone says, is the story, which is "soooo good" and "more grown-up," but since my gripe about the first game was the blah blah blah gameplay, there isn't anything very attractive about its sequel, in my eyes. I'm not saying that it couldn't be good for some; I just doubt that it's something I'd enjoy very highly.

Hmmm. That about does it for your letter, I see! From one Matt to another, I extend you my thanks for a well-constructed letter. Do write again!


A day has passed since I wrote the introduction, now, and the hiccups are finally gone. They were really terrible, though, I must say.

Also, Riviera: The Promised Land for the Game Boy Advance is getting crazier and crazier; it's definitely the strangest and most unique game I've played in quite some time, I must say. I'd highly recommend it for anyone who liked anything from Lufia to Shadowgate (now THERE is an oldie).


Back to the Spectacular Ongoing Contest of Knowledge; it feels like it's been forever.

#184 asked which spice out of a list of five is a playable RPG character, and the answer to the question is d) Cinnamon, who is a little healing machine in Megaman X: Command Mission. So many of you said a) Thyme, presumably because of the title of the column. But no, I just thought of the name because of the question, since I'm just sooo witty. Apparently, though, there's also a character named Cinnamon in the Jade Cocoon series, according to one of you? How about that! Anyway, getting that right yielded a cool 240 points.

#185 was the second survey question to ever be featured in the competition! Let's see how you guys answered:

a) Spear: 2 votes
b) Axe: 14 votes
c) Staff: 0 votes
d) Hammer: 1 vote
e) Gun: 2 votes

What the heck? Was this a conspiracy or something? In retrospect, I guess this was a predictable result, because of the little discussion we had about axes a couple of weeks ago in the column. In any event, d) Hammer is the correct answer, and all 14 of you that guessed correctly shall have 250 points added to your scores.

Question #186:
How do you cure sunstroke status? (225 points)

a) Use a Wet Towel
b) Eat a Popsicle
c) Drink a Blue Potion
d) Cast Esuna
e) Hiccups

Question #187:
Ask Gaijin!-->In the Eternal Corridor, which monster corresponds to the Greek letter Theta? (200 points)

a) Pico
b) Excise
c) Gigas
d) Aton
e) Vershroom

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Well, I broke down and bought Final Fantasy: Advent Children this past weekend! I must say that it's pretty much what I expected it to be, except a little more battle-y than I perhaps would have preferred. Oh well; the music, of course, is what shone through in the end, and it was cool to see a new graphical take on some very familiar characters. Maybe we'll see more in a remake one day.

Until next time, yes, I've got some old mail bubbling around that still needs to be answered, so don't despair if I haven't gotten to your letter yet! There's always tomorrow. Of course, any new letters would be greatly accepted as well! Since we haven't had the chance to talk too much about it, yet, what are your opinions on the Wii? Is it going to tank completely because of its name alone? Or, does it hold a bright future? Please, discuss!
***Matt will be in Los Angeles in one week's time!

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