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ASK MATT
Fifty-Seven May 16, 2006

Matt - 15:02 EST

E3 WAS AWESOME. I can't believe it's over with already, and that I've fallen all the way back to reality so quickly! The lights, the sounds, the flashiness, the crowds, and the incredible number of games are just unfathomable until you see it in person; the show spans an absolutely enormous floor over three or four different rooms, and the two full days that I spent there were definitely not enough to see everything. Wow, wow, wow.

So, away from the semi-formalities of Impressions and News reports, I can stand to be a little more colloquial around here in my domain of Q&A, so I can finally answer this question without worry: "Who 'won' E3?"

The answer is obvious. There is no company that attracted as much attention as Nintendo, and rightfully so; their Wii looks absolutely nuts, and from what I played of it, they could do really big things if they make the right decisions. When paired with Sony's unfortunate decision to blatantly rip off the motion-sensing idea and then price the PS3 at a shockingly exorbitant fee, I can do nothing but root for the Big N. I only hope that it really is a success, though it's definitely too early to tell. One thing is for sure: Nintendo and Microsoft both have a smashing opportunity to move in on the big, bad Sony at this point.

What else? There's so much to tell! I should upload my pics and show you all the sixty or so I took during the trip using my crappy-but-useful digital camera. We'll see if I can get up the drive to go to all that trouble by the bottom of this column. Just think! You'd get to see famous RPGamer personalities like BRYAN BOULETTE, JORDAN JACKSON, THEO LITOWSKI, JERRY SWAIN, and ANNA MARIE NEUFELD, as well as many more...even the Big D himself!! There might even be a cameo of myself here and there, but I can't remember if I have any of me or not. Oh well. You should all be excited, regardless!!

And with that, I shall resume my position as Q&A host, and get started on my "real" job for this week. Please, enjoy!




L E T T E R S
Strategy Guides: Useful, cheap, cheaply useful, or usefully cheap?


New item for debate: Do you think game companies release player's guides too soon after the original game release? It seems as if many gamers, instead of trying to play the game and figure things out on their own, buy the guidebook at the same time as the game, and just let it guide them through it all. No trial and error, no "oops, I wasn't supposed to do that", no real sense of discovery.

Matt

Nah. I think that the world would be too weird if strategy guides were to be released anytime but at the release of a game, because so many people buy them with their games, especially ones with huge hype built up. If companies started putting them out a few months afterward, I guarantee you that sales would drop off somewhat, so it'd be a poor business decision for guide publishers to make, I think.

I totally agree with you, though. If I can't stand spoilers from a message board, online, or in my e-mail inbox, I sure as sugar won't be able to stand them coming from a book, either. Let me play through the game at least once, first.

My opinion on it is, what's the point of playing, if you let yourself be led around like that? Not only does it take away from the actual accomplishment of doing something on your own, but I've known folks who simply can't seem to play a game now without their hands being held (metaphorically) by a guide or FAQ. I've been on message boards where folks ask some minor question like "Can I do it like this?", when really, the fastest answer would be to just try it and see! And it's like they're afraid of trying it on their own. They want or need a guide to let them know that it'll work beforehand, because they want to get it all right the first time...

OK, bleh, we know what my pet peeve is. What do you think?

--Gaijin Monogatari


Matt

Well, I guess it depends on your ideology, I guess. While playing with guide at hand is not my style, other people just hate to miss anything in a game, and enjoy it more if they do use the guide to try and discover the things that bring them joy. It's their decision in the end, but my eggs are in your basket here; guides are just not good until a second or subsequent playthrough! I know that back in my day, I played through games like King's Quest II and Dragon Warrior without a single hint in sight (and no Internet to go look things up with either!) Like most things, it's probably has to do a lot with how you played games while growing up, hmm?



Music, Wii, Quebec, Los Angeles, and more!


Buenos dias Senor Matt,

No offense was intentionally directed at the nation or people of Japan. Offenses are so often intentionally directed in this world that I do not want to contribute further to endless conflict.... And of course every nation has its skeletons in the closet. A list of the stinky bodies buried in Russia's backyard alone would require a letter far lengthier than anything I've written in years. Even Canada is not exempt - those secessionist Quebecois haven't been in the news much lately but they won't stay away forever.

Matt

Bah, no worries; I'm sure no one was offended. I can't even remember your last letter exactly, since it was so long ago at this point. Stupid E3. Errm...

And yeah, you should come up to Canada and listen in on the news here! You don't hear about them every day, but you definitely do (and fairly often, at that) through such media outlets as CTV, Global, and CBC. Not all Quebecois are successionists though, and many of them love the country a whole lot. Of course, perhaps there are valid reasons to want to leave for those that do. Ah well. Ontario ain't goin' nowhere anytime soon, anyway.

Since I still think about the GBA a lot (Riviera having made itself most amenable to replay) I inquire quickly as to what happened to Magical Vacation. The poor thing was announced as a North American release, what, four years ago? And Nintendo fell through. Tsk.

Matt

Oh, and now we have heard about a Magical Vacation sequel in the works, too, fresh from E3! Who knows if that one will be released over here in the end, though it HAS been announced as a North American release, but here's hoping! If released in the Americas, it would be entitled as "Magical Vacation" and not "Magical Vacation 2", causing a lovely stir, I'm sure.

Your mention of Winters' music is absolutely correct. I forebore mentioning it merely through a horrendously lackadaisical memory.

Matt

Mmmm...

*whistles the tune*

Okay, Motoi Sakuraba is indeed a man - and because Google returned a very fast result on him I'll just put down a few soundtracks he's been involved with (and which of course I haven't played because I'm both afraid of a new console and poor). Valkyrie Profile, the Star Ocean series, most of the Tales games (I think - so many entries in this series), Baten Kaitos 1 & 2, Beyond the Beyond, and apparently the Mario Sports titles. The last two I had no idea about until a little Google search told me.

Matt

Yeah, that sounds pretty familiar; I have a vague memory of a random Wikipedia search some number of weeks ago in which I came across similar information, since composers are definitely a subject that comes up from time to time in this little place. The Mario sports titles are an odd entry, though, because I really don't remember a thing from most of them, with the sole exception of Mario Golf for the N64, which had undeniably awesome music in the Shy Guy Desert and Yoshi somethingsomething courses.

The Wii is certainly an interesting choice of name, but what will stick with me is BigWook's insertion of that accursed squirrel song! Arrrrrgh, I struggled for the past three years to forget that little rodent bouncing away - and now it's back into my precious memory cells! At least it's a little better than 'Project Reality' though.

Matt

And truly, it's better than the names "Suckybox", "Spinach", and "Fgsmlhsvqqqq". Everyone is used to Wii by now; I figured that it would catch on quickly. I don't really mind it much at all, and besides, the "i"s were so cute in the videos we saw during the press briefing last Tuesday!

Sakura Wars - will it ever come to the English-speaking world? With the demise of Sega hardware the series is now ensconced upon Sony's systems - so no unfamiliar controllers to work with! (I must add however that I picked up my Saturn for about $30 on eBay after cursed United Airlines managed to throw my old one into a brick wall or something similar to break it utterly - I knew I should've kept it in the carry-on! - so no fears of excessive costs until you get into the software. After E3 you will most likely know more than I about what Wii can see soon.)

Matt

Well, it's possible, but I'm not sure that a new translation will ever be in the cards at this point, I'm afraid. You can hope for it in your subconscious, if you're a wicked dreamer, I suppose, but that's about all you'll get. Don't worry, I'm doing that for Mother 1 and 3, myself.

Cavils with regard to LA - depending upon the areas you frequent, knowledge of Spanish is a necessity (despite my opening I can't do much more than recognize the language). Hopefully precipitation will have occurred recently, alleviating the frequently visible air. Many people and places are quite louche (though E3 will probably not be in such a zone). The city can be quite callous - I adduce a friend having a cup of noodles tossed onto him from a moving car last year. Mendacious tendencies are rampant. The city itself is inchoate, devolving upon the separate neighborhoods. And WATCH OUT FOR CARS! Their vicissitude is a necessary price to pay for going anywhere in the megalopis.

Matt

Yessir! Much bad air (and worse than you'd ever believe, to most of you readers who have never been) and incredibly bad traffic marred the city last week, though it was still a beautiful place to visit. The people were generally very friendly, too, though the cab drivers were all a tad psycho, predictably.

I'm sorry for the vocabulary usage - I'm reading something in which the author has used a number of words I didn't immediately understand, so I wrote them down and am trying to use them in order to remember their meanings. If you desperately need to know what I just said I can define them later.

Matt

No worries; since Andrew departed his position as weekend Q&A host, we've been severely lacking in the wordiness department, because I just don't cut it standing next to that guy. Hopefully that's a good thing in one sense, but on the other hand, using flashy words can be great fun if inserted appropriately.

The book I'm currently reading is a history of postwar Europe, which I thought about in regard to Chris's invitation to discuss politics and religion awhile back. No worries, I'm not jumping onto a soapbox and proclaiming the advent of Armaggedon unless you donate now! But politically in particular, postwar Europe gave me an idea that I don't think has been utilized prior in an RPG - instead of the world being threatened by a world-conqueror who must be defeated, why not set the story AFTER the world-conqueror has been brought down? The land is devastated, there are no established leaders because all the old ones were tainted by the world-conqueror or killed, and the people need security. It would take a lot of development time to make this work, especially if competing ideologies are trying to rebuild in their own images and the player's choices make the decision as to whether Communism, Socialism, neo-Fascism, monarchists, democrats and/or whatever other philosophies one might want to interject are the ones that govern the nation and/or world subsequently. Religion could be worked into this too, especially if the conflict recently ended carried a religious overtone.

Matt

Sounds like a neat idea, for sure, though it's not completely untouched; I can think of a few games that take place in the aftermath of a war. Filgaia is falling apart in Wild Arms: Alter Code F at the very beginning of the game after a war with demons, and even Final Fantasy VI sorta falls under the post-war criterion. To build the world yourself, though, would be interesting, but would lend itself even better to a strategy-type game more than to an RPG, methinks.

That's all for now. (And the crowd sighs with relief...)
JuMeSyn


Matt

Thanks for writing in again! You might construct long letters, but they're a pleasure to respond to! Hopefully, they're decent to read for everyone else, too.



Pure, lovable drivel


All I can say Matt is that your one lucky bugger!

Matt

Nah, not that lucky. Just land yourself in a media position anywhere, and you might get the chance to go one day yourself! The airplane tickets from Australia might be a bit steep, though, in price...

Anyway I finally turn 21 on the 22nd (Which means I will be of the legal age to drink in Ameriaca, or hace been the legal age in Australia for 21 years ;).

Matt

...all the while, us crazy Canadians are getting blitzed out of our minds by the age of 19, legally! We've always been a bit off the beaten path, but in a good way, for sure.

So i'm wasting time waiting til the 26th when both Kingdom Hearts 2 and Harvest Moon Magical Melody cames out. Its still unknown to me when Suikoden 5 will be released but, if you believe Gamefaqs (Which I have stopped believing in for a while now) it was released the same time as the American version, which seems to break all of the rules and such! Anyway i'm fairly depressed as I finally had the nerve to defeat ML: PIT and reached Bowser without having saved it after the previouse slogfest, evidently i'm not very good at dodging Bowsers attacks. Oh well 90 minutes wasted. I might as well stivk to HM: AWL and try to get my son (Do you remember the times where it was possible to have 3 kids!) into a jon that won't make him a freak. Why did I have to marry Muffy!

Bainick waves 2 white flags (Which is just as nonsenseable as my letter writing!)!


Matt

Well, good luck scouting for releases down under; I know it's not always easy! In the meantime, though, there are so many great games being released over the next few months that you're not going to have time to worry about the couple you haven't seen. This is setting up to be a very exciting year for RPGamers, all around the world!



Stayin' Alive in Disgaea!


And here's a quick question: You played Disgaea 2, right? I heard that it had a hex grid, yet these screenshots clearly indicate a normal square grid. Unless, of course, this battle takes place at a disco.

--

Alexander M. DeMichiei


Matt

Of course! Haven't you seen the subtitle for the next Disgaea game? It's "Disgaea: Hour of Disco: Savouring the Seventies" featuring all sorts of popular music from that era. The dark senators might even get themselves involved in a scandal, and following that, claim not to be crooks. It looks to be a spectacular title as well as a clever satirical look into the past.

Joking aside, yes, the grid is square (or at least it was on the levels I played,) though a hexagonal grid would have been awesomely cool. Six-person combos for the win!



Simple E3 questions require complex answers!


Hey Matt,

First off I would have to say #192 a) Horseradish and #193 b) Trauma Center: Under the Knife.

Welcome back.

Now, where are the goodies?

Also, where are the pics?

Xlash the dwarf berserker


Matt

I thought someone might ask! I definitely didn't have as much luck as I had hoped; while some other staffers managed to snag soundtracks and t-shirts, I came home with only a few little knick-knacks. I DID manage to get a few slime keychains from Square Enix's booth, a couple of which I have put up for sale in the SOCK shop! Besides that, I got this little harmonica thing, a squishy stress ball, and various other useless items that I might decide to throw at you all. Then, you could be proud to own a piece of E3 yourself!

The pics... sure, I'll upload them and you can see what I've got. Some of them will be random shots out my airplane window, since I flew over the desert and 'twas quite nifty, but you can view for yourself down below!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

All right, all right! Picture time!! Let's see here, I've got a ton, but not all of them turned out. Behold:

Nintendo's Pre-E3 Press Briefing - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
In the first couple, you can see just how many people there are in the Kodak Theatre; we were near the top, and I was sitting next to Bryan/Aethelred, Chris P./Nubuo, and a really, really hot media guy to my right. Eeep! Among the famous personalities in the distance on stage are Reggie, President Iwata, and Shigeru Miyamoto, all of whom are playing WiiTennis in the last pic with a really lucky guy.

Random Los Angeles Pics - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Outside the Kodak Theatre, I took a few snapshots of a couple of famous celebrities' stars on the Walk of Fame, which was kinda cool. 4 and 5 are pictures of the Los Angeles Convention Center from the outside; that's where E3 itself was held.

E3 Day One Floor Pics - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12
Lots to show you here! 1 is a picture of Tyler and a random .hack character. 2 and 3 are screens from up above the Square Enix booth showing a Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime trailer, and the next five are from a little display nearby with a whole lot of funky figurines... I wanted to buy the Yangus one, but they weren't actually selling them there, which was too bad. Besides a trio of Sonics, 9, 10, and 11 just prove just how packed the place was, and that last one... yeah, that's myself sporting a retarded smile next to Zelda and Link, neither of whom looked particularly happy with their jobs. Awww...

E3 Day Two Floor Pics - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13
About half of my day on Thursday was spent waiting in line for the Wii, so of course I had to capture it. The first four are shots of the Wii lineup from each corner that it wrapped around; after getting THAT far, I delightfully walked past the sign pictured in 5. I got bored and took some pictures of the incredible sprawl of playable DS games that we went by, but eventually got into the booth, which you can tell by the crazy lighting and bizarre shape of the interior. 11 and 13 show pictures of people playing Wii games; probably Zelda and Mario, though you can't really tell from the pictures. 12 is an indication of exactly how packed it was inside. It's a good thing I didn't have to go to the bathroom at all, that's for sure.

Back at the Westwood on Wilshire - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
This is a picture of my hotel room, with a couple of shots featuring Anna/Paws, Bryan, Theo/Vigivalgus, Tyler, and Jerry/XeroZohar. There were lots of other RPGamer staffers hanging around, but I didn't think to drag out my camera to capture more people. Ah well. We got a looooot of work done in those rooms, despite the absolutely terrible connection we had.

The party's over! - 1 - 2 - 3
Some random shots from my plane window... I tend to stare at the scenery whenever I fly, because it's gorgeous. And, uh, how did #3 get there?? Introducing: My mom and dad, and the left third of my oldest sister, Annette!

Anyway, I hope this photographic tour has been most exciting, because it's been a damn lot of work for me! No more until next year!!! ^_^

Flashay!


With so few people getting their answers in to me, due (presumably) to the week-long break, I'll let you all take one more look at May 5's questions. With new items on the list of things to buy at the SOCK shop (is that a new game I see?) I want everyone to be able to get back on track, and I'd love to see new people get in on the game, too!

How do you play, for those that haven't tried participating yet? It's easy! Just mail me answers to both of that day's questions, and if you get them right, you'll get the points that each question is worth. Even if you don't get them right, however, you'll get points just for participating- the participation minimum has just increased to 100 points as of today.

As you accumulate points, you'll go past certain benchmarks listed on the SOCK's Item List and then receive an item that could be of use to you in the game. If you pass 1,000 points, for example, you'll get to choose between a Fire Spell and a Point Halver, and then have the ability to use them at a later time in the competition to get an advantage and eventually work your way to the top. See the link to item descriptions for more!

At any time, you can spend the points you've received on prizes from the SOCK's Prize Shop, and there are everything from free cookie recipes to keychains to free games and guest-hosting positions available! You can't win if you don't play, though, so even if you don't know the answers, give it a try... it's lots of fun, and you might snag something cool!

SOCK's Item List

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

1,000 points: Your choice of Fire Spell (1 left) or Point Halver (2 left)
2,000 points: Your choice of Scan Spell (2 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Blind Spell (1 left) or Point Tripler (1 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Mithril Armor (1 left) or Sneak Glove (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Fire Spell (1 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Scan Spell (2 left) or Point Halver (2 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)

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. (5 left)

15,000 points: Nintendo Wii Canvas Carrying Bag- It's white with blue print, and two drawstrings; I picked this up while waiting in the nigh-infinitely long line to play Nintendo's new console at E3 2006. If you'd like it, I'll mail it to you free of charge! (1 left)

15,000 points: Pokémon 10th Anniversary game case- Not as special as it sounds, but useful for carrying up to 4 DS games or 2 DS games and 2 Game Boy Advance games. Translucent plastic with a silver Pikachu and print on the front. (1 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)

22,000 points: Slime Keychain Dangler- Fresh from the Square Enix booth at E3 2006, this cute little guy can be yours. (1 left)

22,000 points: Slime Snail Keychain Dangler- Anyone remember Slime Snails from Dragon Warrior III? I managed to snag one of these, too. Strut with Dragon Quest pride!! (1 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: Nintendo DS Lite Carrying Case- This won't quite fit old-model DS handhelds, but it's lightweight and flashy. White and black with an extra zippered pocket for carrying games, and a hook to attach to clothes, backpacks, or whatnot. I received this at Nintendo's Pre-E3 Media Briefing. (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) (3 left)

50,000 points: Suikoden for the PSX. Play the game that started off the entire series! Josh was generous enough to donate this exciting prize, so it would be cool to send this to a good and loving home. (1 left) *********************************************************


For tomorrow, we only have one thing to talk about, and that thing is huge. E3! What did you feel about the show? Did we cover it well? Which games are you dying to play now? What were your surprises and disappointments? Your opinion on next-generation offerings?

This is going to be a busy week in Q&A, so get in your letters quickly! I'll be back tomorrow to answer more of your best questions and ask you to provide a few answers of your own, since that's what we do around here. Take care, until then!

slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is keeping a couple of slime keychain danglers for himself...


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E3 has come and gone already... it feels like one of those dreams that you wake up from only to have it feel like it happened forever ago. Ahhh... maybe next year again!

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