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ASK MATT
Too Steep a Cliff May 31, 2006

Matt Demers - 17:44 EST

JUST AS I STARTED typing here, my right leg went to sleep. Now I have that awful tickly feeling at the bottom of my foot extending to my toes, and it's just, well, awful. I hope it goes away soon, because it might just ruin my day.

Work, work, work... it doesn't feel right to have to work on homework assignments seven hours a day, but that's what I did last night. The worst part? I'm only half done. What an annoying thing. In any event, let's get started.




L E T T E R S
The PS2: King of Consoles. For now.


Hi Matt.

I love FFVII, but the only real thing that bothers me about it today is no analog control. As for everything else, while it would be awesome to see new graphics, high-quality music and so on, it's not that important. There are other things I like first (such as an orchestrated FFVI OST, but that'll never happen).

Matt

Ah, that's a good point. It's always a bit weird at first to go back to Final Fantasy VII and have to use the directional pad instead. The analog movement has just become so natural that it feels almost as if the controller is lying to me when I play the game- that somehow, originally, I WAS able to use the control stick to move around, even though quite obviously, I couldn't. That would be nice to see as a welcome implementation.

And hey, don't worry about your unrealistic dreams, because I would love to see a full remake of Final Fantasy VI, complete with that orchestrated sound, voice acting, and pretty graphics. Oh, and no 5-minute loading time to get into your menu, too. Now THAT will never happen, will it?

I find it kind of a waste of time to discuss this, when it's not a new game. If they make it, I'll buy it. Right now I'm more interested in Xenosaga, Rogue Galaxy, Valkyrie Profile (not the remake...). Don't you think Rogue Galaxy is gorgeous? I hardly care how good the game is, if it's this beautiful I'll get it!

Zohar


Matt

You have good taste! I'm looking forward to all of those games; those three alone will be reason enough to love the Playstation 2 in the coming year, and if Final Fantasy XII turns out to be great in the end, then all the better. Add Disgaea 2 to the pile, and damn, it's going to be an amazing, amazing year!

Rogue Galaxy does indeed look like a lot of fun, and the graphics were gorgeous, for those of you that care. That's the thing, though; from what I played of the demo, not only will it provide lots of eye candy, but the gameplay seems to be pretty solid as well, and quite a bit of fun. I hope that this title doesn't go overlooked in the end!



The fatal flaws of Final Fantasy VI


Status ailments? Are you mad? Just don't make things too complicated for yourself. Though, I wonder if there is a way to abuse Curse to rack up items...

Matt

Mwahahaha, I am mad! Expect more interesting developments in the competition in coming weeks, too. I aim to keep everyone on their contestual toes; the journey to the real prizes is not going to be an easy one for anybody!

By my ear, there be) 4 steps in #204. Arr!

Can't place the next game... Tales of Symphonia, Seiken Densetsu, and even Metroid Prime come to mind as possibilities, but I don't feel like looking too much into it now. I would reckon that if you were in a desert and fell into a hole, a Sand Tripper would be to blame.

What I would most like to see out of FFVI Advance is a fix of several well-publicized bugs and glitches, foremost of which is the incredible "how on Earth did they overlook this?" Evade bug. In case you or your readers don't know what this is, quite simply put the Evade stat does absolutely nothing in the game. All evasion and accuracy tests are made with MBlock% instead. Also as a result, the Blind status has no bearing on anything, except for preventing Strago from learning a lore. Other ludicrous bugs include the Rippler spell swapping more than it should (such as Shadow's Interceptor protection and Terra's Morph status) and the Genji Glove reducing damage only if you have a single weapon equipped, the opposite of what was clearly intended.

Matt

A very good point! I've heard of these many bugs before, and some of them are absolutely shocking. Beyond those issues, there's also the fact that you seem to risk a system crash every time you have Relm perform a simple sketch. You're right, issues like these should have been caught the first time around, and it would be nice to see them finally get fixed. I can't believe that Interceptor's protection and Terra's Morph status gets swapped, though... it's quite incredible. I guess that Rippler is one of those attacks that no one ever really uses anyway, so I'm not surprised they didn't encounter problems in any testing they might have done, way back in... what was it, twelve years ago, probably? Thirteen?

Beyond these is the obligatory bonus dungeon, which is always nice and adds needed challenge. Speaking of bonus dungeons, here's a question for you and your guest host Macstorm: What is your favorite bonus/postgame dungeon? My favorite was Star Ocean 2's Cave of Trials, whose awesomeness completely changed my opinion of the game from "zuh" to "Zounds!" A close second is Dawn of Souls' Soul of Rebirth, which not only added more airtime with the world's best White Mage Minh (or Minwu), but also a surprisingly interesting and pertinent story and a real nice brand-new sprite for the boss!

Matt

My favourite bonus dungeon of all time? You're right, Star Ocean 2's was pretty neat, though my brother could talk about it more than I could; he got much more into the bonus material of that game than I. I've really enjoyed Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest bonus dungeons in the past. Anyone who has encountered Dragon Quest VIII's knows that not only does it provide a lot of extra challenge, it actually ties up just about every loose end of the story as well and ties the whole game into a tight, not-so-little package. Dragon Warrior III's remix had a fantastic couple of bonus dungeons, too, even though they took an incredible amount of effort to explore all the way to the end. Anyone remember collecting Monster Coins until they were blue in the face? Oh, I do.

Disappointments in bonus dungeons include Atelier Iris (so grey) and Star Ocean 3's lame repeating floors and far inferior version of the Cave of Trials.
--

Alexander M. DeMichiei


Matt

Ah yes. The Lufia series "extra" dungeons (I hesitate to call them "bonus", since you can do them anytime) have always been disappointing to me. Even though there are some neat ideas involved, I really don't like randomly-generated anything, and 99 floors of the same old random garbage gets really tiresome, really quickly. I guess it's on the same kind of note as what you've mentioned about Star Ocean 3. The same grain goes for Final Fantasy X-2, beneath Bevelle. Bleah.



Advice to PS2 owners


Congrats on the new slim PS2. :) Recently my PS2 (old model style) was on the fritz: slowing down, reading irregularly. My bro and I opened it up, dusted it out, closed it up, broke it, opened it up, refixed a connection, closed it up, and it's good as new. :) Connection was loose.

Matt

I know, and I thought about opening up my old one too. Lacking a screwdriver set, however, not knowing what in the world I was doing if I did open it up, and also a little bit hungry to see what the new model was like, I had no choice in the matter. Plus, it was a little cheaper than I expected, too. $129? In Canadian funds? Surprise, surprise.

We were told, though, that it is _bad_ to play movies on the PS2, cause a game only spins when it is occassionally loading, and a movie always spins (constant read). So, apparently movies cause the timing belt (ribbon?) in the drive to get all out of whack. Guess I'll be getting a cheapy DVD drive, so I don't bust my PS2 again...

Catch ya later!
Maggie ^_^


Matt

That's ludicrous, though, because if playing DVD movies is deleterious to the system's integrity, then they shouldn't be supported in the first place, should they? If you can't, in effect, play them, then how is the PS2 really a "multimedia machine"? I really hope that the PS3, hefty price and all, will really resolve a lot of these issues that its older brother had trouble with.

Thanks, Maggie, for writing in!



Time for a good old-fashioned subject change!


Hi, Matt. I am growing quite tired of the PS3 and Wii talk that has been permeating Q&A of late, and therefore I felt compelled to write a letter filled with some pure RPG-related talk.

Matt

Amen, brotha. You'll be known from this day forth as the saviour of the Q&A column from the evil REPETITIA, master of all overdone subject matter.

My first question is a little trivial, but here goes: What is your favorite scene in a video game? To be more specific, what moment do you wish you could re-load and experience anytime? A few examples of my favorite moments are General Leo vs. Kefka in FF6, the first Tower of Salvation scene in Tales of Symphonia, the Temple of Time scene in Ocarina of Time, and you-know-who's death in FF7. However, if I had to choose my all-time favorite scene in a game, it would probably be the assassination attempt on Sorceress Edea at the end of disc 1 in FF8. The whole entire scenario was amazing, especially when playing it for the first time. I loved the air of suspense, I loved the liberal use of CG, the music was amazing, and I loved how it switched back and forth from three different viewpoints. And, be honest....who DIDN'T scream at their television sets when Irvine broke down and refused to shoot? (In my case, I did it at roughly 12 AM when the rest of my family was fast asleep!) But then again, it's not like any of us thought the assassination would work anyways. (We were only on disc 1, after all. How could the main villain possibly die on disc 1?) So, what would you call your favorite scene in a videogame?

Matt

Good call!! My brother and sister have discussed this subject on many occasions, and yes, the assassination scene is most certainly one of my favourite moments ever in any Final Fantasy game, and the scene at Thamasa is probably my second-favourite one. That moment was exactly when the "I hate the empire" opinion of my characters finally floated through the TV screen and implanted itself into my brain. That scene really, truly made a player hate the empire, and it's amazing that such feelings could be conveyed so well using a bunch of simple 2-D graphics.

Other than those, though, I could go a step back to even fewer bits, and reminisce on the first time I ever felt any gripping emotion in an RPG context, ever. It was in Dragon Warrior IV, when you view the scene where you see humans torturing Rosa, just to get her to cry rubies. It carried such power for such a simple scene, and it really made me think and wonder if perhaps the villain of the game had valid reasons to want to destroy humankind. I want to go back and play that game sometime soon; what a horrible shame that it never got remade for North Americans.

Using my favorite scene of a game as a springboard, I shall talk a little about FF8. While the Assassination may be my favorite scene in a game, FF8 is by no means my favorite Final Fantasy. As was mentioned in yesterday's column, Sorceress Ultimecia is a huge letdown as a villain. Her "ultimate purpose" throughout the game was to...um...compress time. However, we never even find out why the hell she wants to do it. In fact, after all the times I've played it, I can't even figure out what "compressed time" really is. Ah well, that aside, I really enjoyed the story of FF8. The interwoven, personal tales of Squall, Laguna, Ellone and Rinoa were the focus of the story, and it was excellently told.

Matt

What's especially funny in Final Fantasy VIII is that it seems that the developers knew that the plot didn't make much sense by the end. I haven't played in awhile, but I always found the scene in Esthar hilarious when Dr. Odine essentially tells you what the final major plot details are, and tells you what's really wrong with the world (how he knows is anyone's guess), with Laguna, who is basically standing in the background saying "Yeah yeah yeah, nobody cares, just tell us where to go next so we can get this over with."

I really enjoyed Final Fantasy VIII, but it was definitely not without its faults.

Also....in response to your comments about Lord Seymour Guado the other day: FFX is, in fact, my 2nd favorite after VII, although I actually can't argue with what you said. Seymour's motives were rather difficult to determine throughout the game. In fact, his "Mwahahah, I'm insane, goofy, and evil to boot" attitude reminded me quite a bit of FF6's classic antagonist, Kefka. (Now it's time for FF6 fanboys to get their feathers ruffled.) To this day I do not understand why Kefka is regarded as such a great villain, because he's just about as shallow and generic as they can get. He's evil, he's insane. Besides that, he receives little to no character development throughout the game. (Talk about a character you can't take seriously!) In fact, It's entirely possible to go through the entire game and completely miss how he lost his sanity in the first place. He's an interesting character, but I refuse to acknowledge him as a great character. (It was actually a little dissapointing to me, considering how well-done most other characters of the game are.) There are more than a few similiarites between Kefka and Seymour. Both of them are insane, both were in positions of power yet desired more, both of them wield magic, and they both seem to want power just for the sake of being....well...powerful. But in the end I have to give the edge to Seymour for being a better-developed character overall. And for having a better theme song. (Kefka's is pretty good, though.) That's just my opinion. But in the end, Sephiroth would kick both of their mentally-deranged asses. (Plus, One-Winged Angel is better than both of their theme songs.)

Matt

Well put! That's a pretty interesting analysis, and I never really thought of comparing the two before. I've always thought that Kefka was a great villain just because he's easy to hate; his actions throughout the game are either directly against life, or full of "racial" disregard. Whether he's poisoning water, frying innocent villages, or using Espers for their power and disposing them like garbage, there are many reasons why he's much better as a villain than, say, Exdeath, who is evil because he regularly laughs maniacally and randomly throws things into big dimensional holes.

I would have loved it if somehow, Seymour had a more major role in the end than just sitting in your way soon after encountering a conveniently-placed save point. He was also one of the stupidest bosses in the whole game; focusing on just elemental magic that was awfully easy to defend against, and doubly so with Yuna around to whistle for her pets. Bah... a wasted opportunity for greatness, I say.

Ahah! I just got another springboard with the mention of one-winged angel! To me, the music of FFVII: Advent children was probably the best thing about it. Which of the film's numerous re-mixes was your favorite? I personally thought that the remix of JENOVA was awesome, even better than the original. I liked the rock/orchestra remix of One-Winged Angel, but I kinda wished they had mixed a version closer to the original.

Matt

The One-Winged Angel remix was really, really cool, I thought, but the one theme that almost brought a tear to my eye was a piece of the peaceful town theme from Final Fantasy III (the one being developed for the DS right now, yep) that plays very near the end, right at the conclusion of a scene featuring a certain someone. I'm sure that it was from Final Fantasy III, because I stood up stupefied when I heard it, and then rewinded it to listen again with my mouth gaping open. Really exciting.

Oh, and about Squeenix's denial of announcing a FF7 remake: they have NOT denied that a remake is in the works, they have only denied that they ANNOUNCED it. The fact that they will not come out and say that no, a FF7 remake is not planned and in development tells me that...well... it probably is. Bah. This remake buisness is so disconcerting. On one hand I don't want them to do it, and on the other hand, I know that if they did, I would buy it, along with a PS3. If that makes any sense at all to you, then please explain it to me, because I sure don't understand myself.

Matt

Hahaha, exactly! The same thing happened with Final Fantasy X-2 and FFVII: AC. I really would have rather had them busy developing other things, but oh well, I bought what they did make anyway. Does that indicate a bit of an addiction? Is it a foregone conclusion that anything labeled "Final Fantasy" will sell like hotcakes? Pancakes are amazing, by the way; I'd pay a lot to have a few right now, drenched in butter and maple syrup. MMM!

Anyway, I think that your position is all too common, and many, many people share it with you.

Oh, and about Final Fantasy VII's remake, you're absolutely right: They never denied that they're developing it at all; perhaps this recent piece of news is just so that they CAN come out in a year's time and go *BAM* "Look what we've got on the table!" The hype will be outrageous, for sure.

There seem to be a lot of people out there that don't think that a remake is ever going to be, but I have to disagree with those people; they've remade I through VI, after all, and every last one of those was less popular than VII. It would be idiotic for them NOT to remake it one day, but they'll wait long enough to make every last one of us lust for it, I'm sure.

One last question: Was there ANY mention whatsoever of Baten Kaitos 2 at E3? I know that it's coming here around the holiday season, but they've done a fairly terrible job of making it known. Oh well, it's a GameCube game, which means that nobody will care about it except me. Although come to think of it, it might mean that they'll retail it for less than $50.....heheheh.

Matt

No. However, it has been confirmed to be in development for release by the end of this year, if I recall correctly. Nintendo's abandonment of the Gamecube was made painfully obvious at E3, where there were *zero* Gamecube-games playing at demo stations. I guess, now, I can understand their reasons for doing so, but... well, you're about to get to this, so I'll let you continue.

I'm actually a little miffed at the fact that even Nintendo themselves don't give a damn about the GameCube any more. What about the faithful ones, such as myself, who have bought and owned the system for years? Last year my GameCube stopped playing discs, and I promptly went to purchase a new one. You know why I did that instead of just waiting for a Wii? Because I thought I NEEDED one to play the Twilight Princess! And, gosh gee! It's coming the the Wii as well, in the form of a half-assed launch title! Yipee-skip! The announcement of TP for the Wii actually angered me more than it thrilled me, because it suddenly became painfully obvious why Nintendo delayed the game for so long. And it made me, a faithful gamecube owner, feel like I have been officially abandoned by Nintendo. Why not save these so-called "revolutionary" features for the first REAL Zelda game on the Wii? Why, oh why did you delay TP for an entire year just to cram some gimmicky extra features into the game? Why, Matt; why?

Well, thanks for your time. Keep up the great work.
OIiver.


Matt

Nintendo's decision to simply abandon the Gamecube is annoying, but understandable. They're in the middle of an awkward process right now; the company is working hard to redefine itself to prevent it from being squeezed out of the game entirely, and to do that, they've had to go full speed ahead with the "different" concepts that are working for them. The DS is obviously one of them, but the Gamecube is kind of like the final reminder of what they're trying to get away from.

That said, there are still plenty of reasons to be a fan of the Gamecube. Twilight Princess IS being released in a Gamecube version as well, and it's quite possible that the controller could lend itself well to the game, perhaps at least as well as the Wii's controller. Besides that, Baten Kaitos is still in the cards, as is Super Paper Mario, which looks bizarrely fun.

I definitely understand your frustration, though; I've always been a vocal critic of Nintendo's decision to delay the crap out of their so-called "perfect" Zelda game, just as I've been exceptionally annoyed with Square Enix's decision to push back the release for FFXII forever. No matter how good the games are, what good will it be if we all just die before they're ever actually released? I understand that it's a decent idea to iron out the gameplay and make sure that everything is smoothly well-done, but delays of a year (or two!) are just too much.

Thanks, Oliver, for writing in! Hopefully your subjects inspire some new directions in conversation!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Ugh, more to do. Much more. The blah will never end. Thank goodness I have your letters to keep me going, adding some variety and spice into my life. What would I do without you? Probably play more video games instead, actually. Ah well.

Flashay!


***Answers to May 30th's Questions***

#207. c) FFVI for the SNES - 265 points (a horrible lot of you guessed FFIV, incorrectly, though that was a decent guess. I only played about ten minutes of the remake on my brother's Game Boy Advance SP, in reality.)

#208. e) Magus' - 320 points (about half of you wrote in guessing 'Frog' instead, but his irises are yellow, and yellow light has a higher frequency than red light; Magus' irises are red)


***Today's New Questions***

#210: In which game can you sauté your enemies? (265 points)

a) Super Mario RPG
b) Earthbound
c) Makai Kingdom
d) Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
e) Final Fantasy IX


Reader-Submitted #211: What words are spoken during the during the ending song during the credits of Earthbound? (300 points)

a) "I miss you"
b) "Congratulations"
c) "Good luck"
d) "The end?"
e) "See you later"

Let me take this opportunity to apologize to Macstorm; yesterday I printed that the question submitted was from BigWook, for some bizarre reason, and as much as I love my friend BigWook, Mac should have received the credit instead. Additionally, out of haste, I had Mac's name plastered all over the last question in my column yesterday as well. Sorry about those glaring errors!


SOCK's Item List

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

2,000 points: Your choice of Point Doubler (2 left) or Wait Mode (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Blind Spell (1 left) or Sneak Glove (2 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Annoying Curse (2 left) or Fire 3 Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Mithril Sword (2 left) or Damage Deflector (3 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Ultra Sneak Glove (2 left) or Hyper Beam (1 left)
14,000 points: Your choice of Auxiliary Point Generator (1 left) or Blind Spell (1 left)


Click Here For Item Descriptions and Contest Rules!

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. (2 left)

15,000 points: Nintendo Wii Canvas Carrying Bag- It's simple and 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. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left) *********************************************************


Oliver was great enough to pick into a number of other interesting subjects today, so maybe we can get into some of those. Specifically, what would your vote for "Best RPG Moment" be? And, are delays acceptable, even if they extend for over a year's time? Do gamers have a right to be angry at Nintendo for all but abandoning the Gamecube? Let's chat!

slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is weary.


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I'm thinking I might do a side-contest sort of thing for Ourobolus' points sometime next week... but we shall see.

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