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ASK MATT
Spider Guardian June 22, 2006

Matthew Demers - 16:43 EST

IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE! The longest day of the year is behind us, and now the days are going to continue to get shorter until we're all solid masses of horrible ice once again. How miserable.

Also, I think I've mentioned something in a recent column about Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria coming out really shortly in North America. I don't know where I got that idea at all, but when sifting through some stuff last night, I realized how wrong I was. I'm not even sure when Silmeria is due for release, but Lenneth (the remake of the original) is on the way for the PSP in about a month or so. Sorry if I got anyone's hopes up terribly; I think I'm going a bit senile, and at the age of twenty-three! Terrible, isn't it?

The sad part is, I'm not getting any younger either. For maximal coherence with minimal risk of dementia, I shall start answering your questions right about NOW.




L E T T E R S
The "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" of RPGaming.


Hi Matt

Its Singh from the UK again, I’ve missed the Q & A section for the last two weeks, due to the stress of work and professional exams, blah blah real life crap! Anyway, I was just reading the latest Q & A and I realised that I myself have a playstation 2, but I spend most of my time (if I have any to spare) gaming on my pc. While I have a large, balanced selection of games, I am still true to RPG’s as my favourite genre.

Matt

Ah, a PC gaming question...I don't get those very often! I hope your exams went well, by the way! Now, what can I do for you?

But while I love the Japanese games like breath of fire, final fantasy, secret of mana…. the list is endless. I mainly played them through non-conventional means as emulation (due to the lack of availability in the Pal region). So usually half the games that are mentioned I haven’t even heard of than played. Still when I read the Q & A section, something bothers me, and it just ‘clicked’, it seems not many people are interested in PC rpg’s.

The likes of Ultima, Diablo, Balders Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Elder scrolls 3: Morrowind and Elder scrolls 4 Oblivion, world of war craft with its 6 million online users (me included)….another large list.

Matt

Come now, though; how can you say that people aren't interested in PC RPGaming when there are so many people involved with games like World of Warcraft? I have a large number of friends who normally don't like RPGs who are still addicted to that game and talk about it incessantly.

I find that talk here at RPGamer's Q&A tends not to centre around PC RPGs, but I often wonder if that's just because I'm the guy in charge right now and I've just never been big on PC gaming at all in the past. PC gaming on the whole, though? I think it's alive, and doing quite well.

How about the latest game I got (be it late), Fable the lost chapters, though I am anticipating an even better release with the sequel. The question is what do you think about these games that aren’t really mentioned? Are they really a minority this game type? Are Rpg games not worth playing unless they have a stamp at the back saying “Made in Japan”, let alone “Square-Enix” Lol!

Matt

Not at all. Japanese console RPGs just happen to be my most-beloved type, but by no means is it the only one! Square Enix just happens to be far and away the biggest RPG company of the bunch, so it's generally well-known and gets talked about the most when we're on the subject of console gaming.

I'm not sure why PC games aren't mentioned as often, but they're certainly getting purchased and played, because if they weren't, companies would stop producing them. Right?

Hopefully this will bring a welcomed change form the usual love hate campaign of Final fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I have played them all, minus FFXI, with great enthusiasm when replaying, but they do not represent the genre that is RPG...or do they?

Kind regards


Matt

You're definitely right. Final Fantasy gets talked about a lot around here, but I think that the chief reason for that is because it's the one series that everyone HAS played, so everyone can relate to it. I think it is a very important RPG series because of that fact. A column filled with nothing but talk about less mainstream games could make for a rather inaccessible column for some readers, I'm afraid, though by no means is talk ever restricted to the subject of FF. In the end, the only real reason we see such heavy emphasis on that series is because those are the games that readers write in about, simple as that. And while it isn't representative of the entire genre (not by a long shot) it is the standard to which almost all other RPGs are compared, like it or not.

Moral of the story? Is there one? I don't know. "Final Fantasy is popular, so expect to read a lot about it." Yeah, that's a pretty lame moral, I know. Anyway, thanks very much for taking the time to write in!



Philistine Westerners... we just don't know a good game when we see one!


Hey Matt,

you probably got several emails to tell you, but at the end of the japanese version of FFX, yuna DOES say "thank you". It's supposed to be symbolic. (just watch the youtube and listen for the "arigato") It's probably because in the beginning, he promised to help her as one of her guardians. Since that's the only reason Tidus was supposed to be there, Yuna was probably trying to act composed and reserved since, as they discuss in the later parts of the game, the savior of the world has to act "proper". The "love" between the two is implied, although important. The ending wasn't all about Tidus, the fact is that Tidus helped them, but this was by no means Dragon Quest where the "hero prevails". But then again, there is probably a whole lot more in the japanese version between the two (cut out of the english version) which would have led to the conclusion that they really loved each other. You've gotta understand, it's a huge culture difference. "Americanizing" games pisses me off more than anything. They try to make everything into a love story and do their best to remove any and all social commentary. Take Xenogears for example. I personally loved this game, not because of the love between Fei and Elly, but because of the heavy political overtones about political corruption and religious zealotry. That is, until you look at the USA version and vomit. I compare it to what the movie studio did when they made the "love conquers all" version of the movie "Brazil" by Terry Gilliam. Where is the story about a corrupt government? The details on an unending bureaucracy of death and subsequent replacement? GONE because "americans don't get depressing stuff"? Gimme a break. But yeah, Yuna says "thank you". But they still probably loved each other.

-Nate


Matt

It seems like the Western world has gotten special treatment for a long time now. Think back, back, back... even twenty years ago, when I was a wee three-year-old messing up rooms and drawing on walls, Nintendo decided not to release Japan's Super Mario Brothers 2 just because it was deemed to be too difficult for American players. Uh, excuse me?

And yeah, I don't know why subtleties are changed and emphases are shifted for english release. I wonder exactly how many games out there we'd have a different perspective of if we had been given a more accurate translation. I wonder exactly how many games out there would make sense if we had been given a more accurate translation. Final Fantasy VIII comes to mind immediately, because I feel like we lost something there. The game was good, but it could have been better if the storyline had been a little bit more... what's the word... intelligible? Comprehensible? Take your pick.

It's good to know the truth behind the ending scenes of that game. Arigato yourself, for the input.



Some reassuring words.


Greetings Matt,

Firstly, to the guy enjoying Dirge of Cerberus, I hope he still enjoys it after finishing the game, because it's very hard to do so if he gets the secret ending. Without spoilers, it can summed up as "Gackt, you dork." Don't know who's Gackt? Unless you like his music, you won't be missing anything, so it's ok. I'm looking forward to the US release after they announced that they're improving on the game, but I'm more intrigued whether they'll keep Gackt's appearance in the story. Unless they removed the secret ending, but there's no fun in that.

Matt

Ahhh... more Japanese content removed for North American eyes? How insulting! I certainly hope there is no such removal in the end!

I'm very bothered by this quote of yours:

I wouldn't be nearly as worried about the changes if they had only chosen to employ a battle theme. What's a Final Fantasy game without a wicked battle theme!?

Since monsters are visible on the world map, every area has a battle theme. The game is one long running string of battle themes! Isn't 75 battle themes more than enough?

Matt

Ohhh... but come on! There are lots of area themes in other games; take Chrono Trigger for example. There is all sorts of great background music, and some unique to different areas, but it would have been really disappointing to have THAT as the battle theme, wouldn't you say? There's something fun about a constant couple of battle themes that help to tie the whole game together, somehow. I'm sure that all of these different areas have spectacular music, but I'm really going to miss being able to say "I loved FFXII's battle theme!" I don't know. Do you understand what I mean? I don't know why it's bothersome to me, really, but it just is.

It's weird how so many people are prejudiced over FFXII because it's not a "true" FF, or because it's not the usual FF staff or that the characters actually move instead of standing in a row and politely taking turns in a vicious battle, and this is after a one-hour demo.

Matt

No kidding! Now, it's true that a "demo" should be just that- a demonstration of what the game has to offer. I was unsatisfied by every demo I've played so far, obviously, but I have tried my hardest to maintain a positive and optimistic outlook on things. You're right; far too many people have completely turned their heel at the game (is that a real expression?) and have outrightly refused to play it. I think that's being a little bit closed-minded, honestly.

Even weirder is that over here, everyone loves FFXII. A bunch of us got together and treated the demo like an extended movie trailer complete with fanboy/girl gushing. A couple of friends are playing it now, one's going for his second playthrough. They love FFVII, they everything FF, but they say FFXII's battles are the way to go because it keeps the excitement, turn-based battling gets boring after the umpteenth fight. You don't have to fight every enemy in the area, but if you want the challenge, you're more than welcome. I brought up the general impression from Q&A, and:

me: They don't like how the game looks and plays, that the gambit system looks awful, the battles are too easy-
them: Meh, they're idiots. They only played the demo, what do they know?

Frankly I'd be taking their word for it - they've played the game. I'm playing it even though I should wait for the US release, but it's so fun I dropped Disgaea for it. It's just sad that people are making a lot of wrong assumptions because Squeenix chose to show the wrong thing to the public.

Honestly, don't be too pessimistic about it - it's not the whole picture after all.

#234: (c)
#235: (d)

DMJewelle


Matt

Ah, DMJewelle. Don't you worry about me. I'm saving my final judgment for when it should be passed; I'll judge once I see and play the final product for myself. I won't say that I don't have some reservations about many aspects of the game, but those can only be reassured by playing, not wildly speculating. As I've said many times before, I have yet to play a Final Fantasy game that wasn't fantastic, so I'm very hopeful that XII will not turn out to be an exception in the end!



Mmm... steroids. What!?


Hi there Matt

First SOCK

***Today's New Questions***

#234:
e) ...scream!

Reader-Submitted #235:
a) Ask Google

Um in regards to your startling confession I've never seen anything Star Wars outside of commercials and part of the clone wars cartoon thingy before DBZ or Kenshin or some other anime came on back in the day on toonami on cartoon network so uh yeah...

Matt

Ooh, that's good. My lack of Star Wars experience has gotten me into a whole lot of trouble with my friends, most of whom are shocked when I tell them I haven't seen the entirety of the original trilogy. I'm only one man! I'm sure I'll see 'em someday.

though in regards to the comparisons to it and FF12 the same can be said for damned near any RPG ever, RPGs predominately feauture blonde blue eyed heroes, princesses, evil empires, etc etc, people compared FF2 to star wars for those same reasons

Also to be childish Vagrant Story was a masterpiece of ----!!!! I enjoyed Legend of the Dragoon more than that tripe!! Ah I feel better now as for FF8 I agree it needs a remake to flesh out the thrown together later half of the tale...

Matt

Really? Vagrant Story is funny, because from what I gather, people either call it "one of the best games of all time" or very much NOT that. I know that it's one of the rare games that Famitsu gave 40/40 to, but I also know that some people pay no attention to Famitsu at all anymore because of that very fact.

In regards to Plot VS gameplay, Something has to be good about a game whether it is the battles and puzzles or the plot and it's twists and turns I care not as long as something keeps me interested and entertained So yeah certain games I play for the battles and puzzles, Zelda, Wild ARMS, Tales of, Star Ocean, some are more for the plot, FF games since the combat in the latter games has been laxxed and easy in my opinion, some have a hearty blend of both, DQ8 and Disgaea for example, and some are just devoid of fun... Lunar Dragon Song, Vagrant Story etc... I've discovered I have odd tastes in games, I can hate a game and love it all at the same time, Ugh your story is so dull and poorly translated, gasp new puzzles eek new flashy ability i'll never need ^_^ so uh yeah

Matt

It's true, and I've done a lot of thinking about it over the past couple of days. I've come to the realization that while it's generally true that I value strong game mechanics more than a good hearty plot, there are some games that I do play for the plot nonetheless. It's because of the story (and the characters, and the music) that I enjoyed Xenosaga: Episode II as much as I did; the gameplay was rather disappointing, especially in comparison to its predecessor. It's true, though, that when either story OR mechanics are gone from the equation, the game in question feels dreadfully "empty".

Anyway now for a bizarre question what are your thoughts on steroid items in RPGs? by steroid items I mean the permanant status increase items, do you find they can cheapen the game and take away from the difficulty or do you use them at every opportunity to give your team some added muscle?

Arros Raikou
*Spent part of the morning pumping Cress with Herbroids only to still lose the tourney*


Matt

I've never heard them called "steroid items" before, but I don't really mind them at all. They provide a good way of fine-tuning party member strengths and helping to boost weaker allies to allow them to take a stronger role in combat. I know that some people do just the opposite from me, and pump all such items into the strongest character in order to make them a super-powerhouse, but anyone who has read this column for long enough knows that my communistic level-up habits would never allow for such a thing. ;)

My only gripe with these items is when games artificially decide to cap stats at certain levels, or adopt the Pokémon strategy of having them not work anymore after a certain number are used. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

A little bit shorter than usual today, but we've had a pretty long-winded week so far, and some of you out there enjoy shorter columns than others (and they take less time for me to write, too, obviously). Plus, I have to save some mail for Erika, who spent 10,000 points on a guest-hosting position a few weeks ago and will thus be stepping up tomorrow to help me out!


Flashay!


***Answers to June 21st's Questions***

#234. c) ...go crazy. - 340 points (In Final Fantasy X, find this girl sitting on a bench on the Guadosalam side of the "Ride zee shoopuf?" place; she says this after Seymour has been bested)

#235. b) Ask Andrew - 325 points/650 for Bainick (Apparently, you can find Bainick's very first question in the July 15, 2005 edition of RPGamer's Q&A. We're almost at the one-year anniversary!)


***Today's New Questions***

#236: In which of the following games can you play as a character whose name is a homophone of the maker of the sexy GS 430 sedan? (350 points)

a) Breath of Fire II
b) Dragon Warrior IV
c) Xenosaga: Episode I
d) Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
e) Suikoden III


Reader-Submitted #237: In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Nanami Kiryuu thinks that her lovely new silver bell accessory is a product from what fashion line? (330 points)

a) Sorya Rich
b) Chanel
c) Prava
d) Sebastian Dior
e) Luitton


I wonder who the loose cannons are going to be? Someone appears ready to aim, fire, and fire very hard, but who? WHO!?!? It's so exciting, I need to go to the bathroom!


--------------------------
STRAGGLERS: (people who I love, but who still need to check their e-mail or somehow get in touch with me because they have unclaimed items- if you fall off the list, it's TOO LATE FOR YOU! Check your spam/trash folders for my messages if you're not getting them, and I'll check mine, too!)
  • none to speak of!
--------------------------

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So, as I mentioned above, Erika will be joining us together for her second time in the co-host's chair! Please give her your warmest welcome!

If you're thinking about writing in, ponder the following question: Do you think that Final Fantasy is talked about too often here in Q&A? Or is it a reasonable expectation that it's a subject that is bound to come up more commonly than others just because of its popularity? What are your thoughts? One more day will round out the week with me, before Ouro seizes the column. I hope you all come to read again tomorrow!

slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt can't think of anything to write about himself today!


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Matt also dislikes referring to himself in the third person, but, ah, what can you, er, one, do?

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