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Reaping Rewards June 7, 2006

Matt Demers - 18:20 EST

THERE'S A PRICE TO PAY for every shade of tan darker you let your skin fall. I pretty much re-learn this lesson year after year after year, because while I really love being out in the sun, I dislike having to peel off dead skin a few days thereafter. The worst part isn't even the peeling, though; it's the incredible itchiness that comes along with it. I've been at my poor scratch-marked back like a madman for the past 48 hours, and yet I still feel compelled to spend time out in the glorious, beautiful sunlight.

Silly human, I am. Anyway, I'll be spending the next little while indoors as I tackle a few more of your best questions. If I had a laptop, I'd find a way to be outside, though, I swear!

The excitement builds. Final Fantasy III nears!

Hey Matt,

When I think about the NES/Famicom version of FFIII, most of it is a haze, but a couple things stand out:


1. The instant death traps, if you're not paying attention, don't take the advice of NPCs, and go where you're not supposed to go. Of course, I usually saved right beforehand, but I always had to try them out. One of them I remember was right before some guy's mansion, and the other was walking in between a bunch of statues guarding one of the last areas of the game.


Ah yes. I remember meeting that unfortunate end once as my curiosity got the better of me. Gotta love the harshness there!! I can't help but wonder if things like that will be phased out to make the DS experience "gentler". It's hard to say, and I'll tell you why in a minute.

2. The areas that required you to be in Mini or Frog form due to crawling in thru tiny cracks or being underwater or something like that. If I remember correctly, you had to run from every battle, as you had no chance of beating even the simplest enemies in those forms.


Now THAT was clever. It's so neat to actually have a non-battle purpose for some of these spells-of-limited use, and it's unfortunate that they didn't bring that idea back in future Final Fantasies. Why? Because dammit, it was a GOOD idea, and added a neat, thick, gooey layer to the class system.

3. The areas that basically required you to be a certain class. There was one boss I remember that was nigh impossible without 3 or 4 dragoons, and there was always the Magic Knight Cave of Hell, where all the enemies that were hit by any weapons other than magic swords, they multiplied. I forget if magic worked, but it was a long cave so MPs would probably run out anyway before the end.


Aha! And see the above again. I remember that cave, and I remember wanting to throw something, because you couldn't just run away from battles either; if I recall correctly, your defenses drop to ZERO in that game if you attempt to flee but fail. That of course has the effect of leaving your poor party members very, very vulnerable during their missed turn.

Given the general easiness of Post-SNES games, do you think any or all of these things might be changed for the DS release?


No, in all honesty, I really don't think that they will, and I'll tell you why. At E3, I played the Final Fantasy III demo, and it was graphically and musically quite spectacular. But, beneath the amazing presentation was an incredibly old-school experience nonetheless. I was floored (in mostly great ways) at how familiar the old mechanics felt. The intro dungeon was not a simple walk in the park, and while the first boss was slightly easier than what I remember the original to have been, it was not trivial.

It feels like the same old game with a fresh coat of paint, which is exactly what I could have hoped for. The only thing I felt that was annoying was the rather-high encounter rate, which was evidently also brought back from fifteen+ years ago. We've got a ways to go before the final version, though, so it's difficult to judge at this point, of course.


Regarding Laurie's letter, Skies of Arcadia was a beautiful game to play, visually, aurally, and gameplay-wise. From the vivid colors of each area (such as the greens of Horteka and the blues of the world map), to the excellent music (especially the boss music), to the simple yet effective battle system, to the various side-quests (ship battles, bounties, discoveries, etc.) that add to the immersion of playing the role of a pirate. Good to know that RPGamers and Vegas are not as mutually exclusive as they seem to be!

Having moved to Vegas four years ago, I've had almost no luck at the tables and even less luck at the slots in the little bit that I've played (especially the stingy Wheel of Fortune slots). I've had a lot more luck at the DQ8 slots, probably because they upped the probabilty of getting three 7s way higher than any sane casino would dare to have. That, and the good ol' reset button. Too bad DQ8 didn't have poker like the previous DQs!

#214 b)
#215 c)



Yeah, and not only that... they replaced it with some LAME-O BINGO game! Sure, it featured an amazingly cute Healslime, but what a loss!! Dragon Quest IX had better bring some form of Poker back, because that's been a- a staple ever since the fourth game of the series!

Also, Laurie, I hope you're reading! This is just one letter of many that has had good things to say about Skies of Arcadia. I remember there being murmurs about a potential sequel a long time ago now, but it seems like it never did materialize.

In any event, may the turntables and shiny dials and cubey dice bring you better fortunes in any gambling to come in the great city of Las Vegas. I'll be there to play too... one day.

The dark side of the DS?

Hey Matt,

I was just budgeting out the necessary funds to obtain a DS when I decided to peak in at rpgamer to see if there were any titles I should be eyeing, but then I noticed your 'upcoming' frame and saw that the PSP is releasing four RPGs stateside in the the next two months. I looked at the site info on Blade Dancer, Legend of Heroes, and Valkyrie Profile and decided that they were all worthy titles. I looked at the extensive lineup of games for the DS on site and couldn't help but notice that all the RPGs I want to play are TBA for North America and most haven't even been released in Japan yet. I'm starting to get the feeling the DS may not be as RPG friendly for us North Americans as I had hoped. The price is right, but that's worth squat if I don't have games to play. What do you think? I'm back on the fence and holding on to my cash for at least a few more days now. cap


No, Cap, you have a really good point. It's very true that the DS isn't really a great place for RPGs. Yet.

The Valkyrie Profile remake is indeed quite interesting, I have to admit, and the Blade Dancer demo that I played at E3 was interesting and different, while maintaining a traditional feel that was attractive in many ways.

All in all, though, I still have to throw my support at the DS. Even though it seems less likely that we'll see the Xenosaga I&II remake on this side of the Pacific, we have a whole lot to look forward to in the very near future: Final Fantasy III, Children of Mana, and Pokémon Diamond/Pearl are good for starters, but then we have a giant on the way; Zelda: Phantom Hourglass looks to be really phenomenal as well. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, Contact, and more are all on the way, too. And there are a few notable titles out already; Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time was short but fun, and there's allegedly some Castlevania game floating around that sounds like it's pretty darn good. Add to that the fact that it's good for playing all of the GBA titles of the past, and those STILL to come out, and there's a lot going for the system RPG-wise!

The kicker, though, is that there are so many OTHER great games out for the DS as well, which is something that I can't really say for the PSP, in my personal opinion. With games like The New Super Mario Bros, Tetris DS, Metroid Prime Hunters, Mario Kart DS, and the promise of a lot more to come, there's just no question in my mind which handheld is the handheld of choice. A few RPGs for the PSP? They're attractive, but maybe for a rental. The system worth owning is the DS.

ALL of that aside, I don't blame you for holding your cash aside for now. If you play only for RPGs, then the PSP may still very well be the one for you. It's ultimately up to you to decide!

Thanks, Cap, for the letter!

Hackack! I feel better!

Hey Matt,

My friend and I have a pseudo ritual of playing through hack and slash type rpg's every summer. In the past we have done Baulder's Gate 1 & 2, Champions of Norrath, and a few of the Gauntlets. We had planned on trying to use the new Gauntlet game for this summer, but we started... and finished it last night. So now I'm on the hunt for another game or a few other games that we can play through the summer. The general idea is action oriented multiplayer; anything that falls under this catagory works, although we (obviously) prefer RPGs so we can level our characters. So, got any suggestions?

-Matthew "Redbeastmage" Foster


I wish I had something that came to mind immediately, but I'm not sure that my suggestions are what you're looking for, honestly. While I've never played a MMORPG myself, you might want to think about investing in one. A lot of my friends have been bugging me to play World of Warcraft or Guild Wars over the past couple of months, and that might be a neat experience for you and your friend, if you haven't tried already. From the sounds of it, WoW at least will keep you interested until approximately the end of time. I lost a couple of friends to that game~ (really)

Where will the rainbow of RPGs lead us?

Hey Matt,

I just thought you should know that after reading your praises of DQVIII for long (as well as hearing my girlfriend's), I have not only bought the game, but am deep in its clutches. Damn that demo for turning me off to such a terrific game for so long. Perhaps there is hope for FFXII...



There's no denying it; the demo that I played of Final Fantasy XII was nothing but disappointing. I know it was a demo, but a demo shouldn't be so easy that you can walk through the game without having to touch a single button. I've always liked HAVING to control my allies; not just having the option to do so. The battle system still felt messy, chaotic, and unattractive to me. Everyone tells me to wait for the real thing, though, because it'll be soooo much better, so I'm trying to remain optimistic.

That said, I'm far from being the only one who feels that the game, as showcased so far, is far from perfect. RPGamer's other E3 Impressions besides my own weren't all daisies and blue skies, and Gamespot didn't even mention the game when talking about "best RPG at the show". As I've mentioned before, there were -no- lineups to play the game after Day One. I just don't know.

Anyway, I was curious about your thoughts on RPGs on the next generation of consoles. Both Xbox 360 and PS3 are delivering vastly more powerful hardware, but looking at titles like Tales of the Abyss, Kingdom Hearts 2, and Dragon Quest VIII, I'm not sure it's needed. Developers can already create expansive and fantastic-looking game worlds, complete with voice acting and many other bells and/or whistles. Furthermore, many RPGs like the ones I mentioned aim for a more stylized look rather than realism, with cel-shading being a popular choice. What more could possibly be done? And will games (besides FFXIII) take advantage of this new horsepower?


The problem is, some people have this idea in every generation. Don't you remember playing, say, Super Mario 64, and going "Oh my God... there's no WAY that the graphics can get any better!" Of course, that was ludicrous. The difference, I guess, is that now, graphical power is good enough to create realistic worlds and more detailed characters than ever. While there can ALWAYS be improvements made, will there get to be a point where they're just unnecessary? I don't really care if I can see the texture on every piece of un-fixed gravel covering a dirt path; I'd rather the attention be paid to making richer gameplay, personally. This is now where companies are branching off, because it is the philosophy of Nintendo that, yes, there is no more need to push graphical limits; it's time to look in another direction to attempt to make things better. Sony and Microsoft, on the other hand, still want to push a little further. Some people will be behind one way of thinking, and some will be behind the other.

And of course games will take advantage of the new technologies and powers; otherwise, what would be the point? No one would even consider paying $600 for a PS3 if they knew that the games would just look like current offerings.

Finally, do you think Nintendo will be able to garner more RPGs on the Wii Console than they could for the Gamecube? As much as I love my Cube, it's disappointing that I was only ever interested in three RPGs.

Keep up the good work!

~ The Irish Ninja


I hope so, of course. That said, I think that they're off to a relatively great RPG start. Right from the getgo, we have six different RPGs announced to be in development; that's not bad for a system that might still be six months away. Add to that the fact that we'll more than likely have a lot of older titles available on the Virtual Console, and I think that this system will provide great opportunities for your average RPGamer. Wouldn't you agree?

Another Phantasy


My question has to do with the overlooked Phantasy Star remakes for Playstation 2. I own both the first and second ones from Japan, but I'm curious as to whether you think (or know?) or Sega has any interest in localizing these for English release, particularly given the success of PSO.


It doesn't look good, I have to be honest with you. Those remakes were released nearly three years ago now in Japan without a word of an english translation since. I'd like to be able to give you better news, but I'm afraid I can't, unless I just lied to you, which would probably be a dumb idea.

Also, in that same vein, has any word among the gaming press community surfaced about the Phantasy Star IV remake? It's only been a year and change since PSG:2 came out, but I'm curious as to whether Sega is still gonna do PSIV or drop it.



See, this is what's wrong with stupid game companies that just leave its poor customer base hanging! Phantasy Star IV was supposed to be remade and included in the much-anticipated PS Trilogy... but we were supposed to see that at the beginning of last year, and obviously, that never happened. The franchise is still alive, and at least you can take solace in that; one day, someday, maybe they'll finally commit to these re-releases so that people like ME can try them out for the first time.

Thanks for writing in, Corey, and try to stay somewhat optimistic, if you can!

Multiplayer is Missing... where did it go?

Hey Matt! <3

I just thought I'd share my brother's and I experience playing Chrono Trigger back in the day. I was a plucky 12 yr old (I think) and my brother is 2 years my junior. We played it together, and by together I mean he played it and I watched. This system lasted until we discovered Secret of Mana was 2-player XD But then we went back to it for FFVII. Huh. Y'know, I don't think I actually played a game without him until I played Chrono Cross.


Awww... and think of how many memories you created in the duration! Why did you stop playing together? Even though my sister, brother, and I live far apart now, we still game in the same room whenever possible- i.e. whenever we're all home at the same time.

On the side, 2-player Secret of Mana was absolutely killer. It was so much fun, and just thinking about it makes me want to return to my youth to play once again.

*total tangent* How come there aren't more multiplayer RPGs like SoM was? With the system capabilities lately you'd think someone would be brilliant enough to expand on the idea. MMOs are great, but I think a truly multiplayer RPG could be awesome. But I digress...


Indeed... I have no idea why multiplayer options aren't more common than they are in RPGs. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was a neat idea, but why must a multiplayer RPG be made so much more difficult to play with others than any other games? Four GBAs and special connectors just shouldn't be a requirement.

I loved playing the Final Fantasy games with multiplayer options, and I mentioned not too long ago that it would be awesome to see a Star Ocean game with at least 2-player features. Such things might help shake the whole "RPGamers are antisocial beings" stigma, no? And, it'd make things a lot more fun, potentially, too.

Well, as my brother would play CT, I would periodically get up and go out and about while he was doing the dungeon crawling and world exploring type stuff since I wasn't actually manning the controller. Unfortunately, it was during one of those Carabbit-less moments when my brother made it...does CT need a spoiler warning? to wherever it was that you fixed the sword (was it a sword? My memory is failing me...) with the special red rock. My brother being my brother sped through that part, eager to get on with the game, managed to miss the very important information about going to Melchior's house to trigger the next plot point. And so he wandered around the BC area, clueless as to what to do next. I'm sure he pretty much went everywhere EXCEPT Melchior's house because I actually had to start a new game and catch-up to that part and tell him "Oh, dude, we need to go to Melchior's house!" before we were able to move on.

Of course, his characters were all level badillion by then, so it worked out. :D

Hey. This has got to be the longest letter I've written. Poor Ouro, I sent him a one-liner.


Ahh, don't worry about it. People like writing novels to me, or novellas at least, for some reason, but I'll gladly take 'em!

Chrono Trigger is an easy game to get sidetracked or lost in, and the almost complete non-linearity of the end is probably what has prevented me from actually getting past the game entirely on many occasions in the past. I have a quest saved right now where I COULD go fight the final boss... but, for some reason, I just haven't felt like going back to it. I think I have a disease. *sniffle*

Anyway, Carabbit, thanks much for contributing to the conversation!

A question of numbering... and back to the good ol' RPG Music discussion!

Dear Unlucky RPGamer host is reading this
First time writer,LONG time reader.


No, no. Lucky! Very lucky! I'm glad you felt like typing to me. Now, what's up?

You know that the 6/6/06 isnt correct dont you? Thats because we base our calender on the birth of christ.If we used the traditional hebrew calender(which i think is the proper one to use with things like these)then the 6/6/06 happended a LONG time ago and we should be in the ,around,the year 5,000.


And imagine! The world didn't explode yesterday or in that other day. I guess this end-of-the-world business must be based on the Venusian SLURMGABLAR's calendar instead. After all, if they're going to blow up the planet, they probably will do it on their time schedule, don't you think?

All this talking about having RPG experiences with loved ones sorta makes me jealous,im a lonesome gamer tending to play games on my own. The only time i played with somebody else was with my ubergeek friend. We decided to play multiplayer Tales of symphonia but he insisted on spending a LONG time walking around the towns. I was on controller 2 so it was hell for me.


Life just isn't the same without a supergeek friend every now and then. It's true, though; you kinda have to match up with someone who has a similar playing style, because I'm sure I'd piss friends off by employing my typical "gotta check everything, talk to everyone, and find every treasure chest" ways.

However my brother once watched me play hours of FFIX and now he has the battle theme tune in his head. Forever. Excellent.

On that note i really like the battle themes for FF games, they were pretty good and made you want to cast ultima on every enemy just for the hell of it.


Definitely! The new battle themes would be, bizarrely, one of the things I'd look forward to most with every new Final Fantasy game. That's one more reason why this new enemies-roaming-the-landscape thing in Final Fantasy XII is... well, sighful. I'm sure there will be good music here and there, but some important pieces are missing! A few little pieces, that is. Hopefully, the whole package makes up for those little things.

Ah, backlog games. My one's really REALLY bad. The only RPG's i've accomplished are breath of fire I, FFIX and FFIV and thats it,all my other games are STILL not finished.


Wow. Get to work! Make a to-do list and start checking things off, pronto!

Then again i live in England so thats not that much.
Sorry for the lack of questions.



Don't give it another thought. Thanks, Dr. T, for taking the time to write to RPGamer, and good luck tackling that list that I'm sure you've compiled by now!

*hums Final Fantasy IX's battle theme*


Blah blah blah. Welcome to the nexus of Q&A, awkwardly connecting the letters and questions and answers with the daily edition of the SOCK, four days a week. Any ideas for this boring little spot besides me going on about how boring this little spot is? I could, for instance, do a mini-poetry corner, talk about food (oh wait, I do that just about all the time ANYWAY), or do Letterman-styled Top 10 lists every now and then. What do you think? Or, I could just blah on, day after day, until the end of my days here. Can you believe that this is my 130th column as staff here at RPGamer? Isn't that wicked? It feels like I just started this job yesterday. Anyway, that's enough. Whew!


***Answers to June 6th's Questions***

#216. e) Evil Clown - 310 points (about half of you got this, and it was a bit of a trick question, especially if you're not familiar with the series. A LOT of you said "Metal Hunter", but they return in Dragon Quest VIII; you fight them in Trodain Castle, where they've just been retranslated as "Hunter Mech". While "EvilClowns" did appear in Dragon Warrior VII, they were NOT the same monsters as the Evil Clowns from Dragon Warrior II, which actually looked like clowns and carried two spiked staves. I have to throw a screwball every now and then, and still, many of you did catch it, and you should be proud if you did!)

#217. b) Ymprat - 300 points/600 for Bainick (the question is written in Al Bhed; thanks, Bainick, for the neat question!)

Bonus: a) Fallarbor Town - 1 Star (you can find the lady in the item store)

***Today's New Questions***

#218: How many steps lead up to the entrance of Luka's Water Palace? (340 points)

a) 8
b) 10
c) 12
d) 14
e) None.

Reader-Submitted #219: In the pilot episode of Due South, Fraser blows Vecchio's cover by calling him what? (290 points)

a) Detective Gucci
b) Detective Prada
c) Detective Armani
d) Detective Versace
e) Detective Valentino

A few of you managed to find the SECRET LINK yesterday, which could be discovered by hovering your mouse over the word "zzz-ing" near the very bottom. Another secret link to a bonus question is hidden somewhere in today's column! Can you find it? The person to collect the most STARS after the end of this week will be granted Ouro's 2,094 points!

SOCK's Item List

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

2,000 points: Your choice of Fire Spell (2 left) or Drain Spell (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 (1 left) or Firaga Spell (1 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Mithril Sword (1 left) or Damage Deflector (3 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Ultra Sneak Glove (1 left) or Confuse Spell (2 left)
14,000 points: Your choice of Blizzara Spell (2 left) or Blind Spell (1 left)
19,000 points: Your choice of Rename Card (2 left) or Vanish Spell (2 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*

2,000 points: Matt's Mom's Cookie Compilation- 6 fantastic recipes right out of Matt's mom's amazing kitchen! Yours, upon request. (5 left)

4,000 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. (1 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)

15,000 points: Bonus Cohost Opportunity- I like giving these out because I don't have to pay for shipping. (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)

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)

100,000 points: Arc the Lad Collection, for the PSX. Donated by ~Sean~~, so thank him! This collection contains four RPGs from an often-overlooked series. If you can get to 100,000 first, you can call this your own. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left) *********************************************************

...and that would be all for today! For tomorrow, let's touch upon a couple of those newer subjects: We've talked about it for a long time, but is the PSP going to give the DS a run for its money for RPGamers the world over? Or, are we still much safer by investing in DS games, with a long library on the way in the coming days? Or, does all handheld gaming just SUCK? Tell me! Please! Until then... be well.
***Matt is seeing stars!

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9,934 pts

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7,097 pts

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25. TalonX13
1,660 pts

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