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ASK ERIKA & MATT
Proud to be an RPGamer June 23, 2006

Erika Wolfraven - 17:39 EST

WELL HELLO THERE! Here I am for my second run at usurping-- ahem-- borrowing the column from Matt. I wanted to start by offering greetings to all from Backlog Land, a place I know most of us who read this column have visited, and many of us currently inhabit. However, I've developed a theory that suggests that Q&A is actually in cahoots with Backlog Land. You see, since I began reading this column my backlog of games has increased dramatically. Granted, part of the blame lies on the used game store which I recently discovered is located ten minutes's walk from my office. However, this store wouldn't be such a problem if I didn't keep reading about games here which make me think "Hmm... I should try that one out for myself..." So you see the store is the enabler, but Q&A is the evil temptress keeping me forever shackled in the land of never-ending backlog!

In the past couple of weeks I've pulled Vagrant Story, LoZ: Wind Waker, Dark Cloud, and Mario Sunshine (not an RPG, but I've been wanting to try it since I got my GC last year) out of the $9.99 bin. As if the ever-present temptation of Ebay wasn't enough! But whenever I read a letter about a series I haven't tried I can't help but want to give it a whirl to find out whether or not I agree. This is in addition to the more current games which I need to play like Xenosaga II and Suikoden V. And let's not even talk about the slew of great games coming out later this year! It never ends!




L E T T E R S
~I say to-may-to, you say to-mah-to~


Hey Matt,

Something I've often wondered about is how to correctly pronounce video game characters' names. All too often, I'll be playing a game and settle on one pronunciation, only to hear it spoken a different way in a later game that features voice acting. I know many people were surprised to hear that Tidus' name is pronounced "Tee-dus" in Kingdom Hearts. Since I had heard his name pronounced that way in a FFX trailer, it didn't come as much of a surprise to me. The entry on Tidus in Wikipedia explains that his Japanese name is pronounced "Teeda," therefore carrying over to English.

Erika

Is it really? I... I can't do it! I'm too used to pronouncing it Tide-us!

However, in the same game, I was shocked to learn that Yuffie is pronounced "Yoo-fie." Who would have thought? I've also always wondered about Cait Sith. Turns out his name is Gaelic, making it pronounced "caught shee." So I guess the rule is that they're spoken the way they would be in their source language. Voice acting is certainly a help these days, but there still reamains many names I'm unsure of. Probably the two biggest for me, especially when I was younger, are Sabin and Celes from FFVI. I've settled on "Say-bin" and "Sell-ess," but I'm probably wrong.

Erika

You never know, you might be right. I pronounce them Sa-(as in "sack")-bin and "See-less", but I have a remarkably bad track record for pronunciation. I like to blame it on being raised in a bilingual setting, as if somehow it left me with no instinct for the intricacies and irregularities of English pronounciation. Of course my other bilingual friends don't seem to have this problem so perhaps it's just me after all. Drat!

It always feels a little depressing when you realize you were calling somebody by the wrong name, even if they are a fictional character. Since names are drawn from every language, it makes it hard to really learn any solid rules. However, it is pretty interesting to see where they come from. Anyway, I was just wondering your take on this issue. Any names you've had set in your mind before learning what they really are?

Q&A is doing great, keep up the good work!
Chris


Erika

Actually yes I have a recent example. Sadly it's not even an exotic name. In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, which I polished off just last month, there's a character called "Marcia". To this day I still can't help but want to say it "Mar-see-uh", but it's my understanding that the name is usually pronounced "Marsha". So yeah forget foreign language names, I'm still struggling with the English ones! Really, though, I guess I don't feel that it matters too much in games that don't include voice acting, especially when the names are made-up ones (unlike "Marcia"-- drat drat!).



Part One...


Oy! Matt!

After running all the virus and spyware-detection programs I have available, along with downloading a couple of new ones, I have determined that I have no idea what I'm doing. A friend guided me to a handy program called HijackThis spotlighting every program currently running on my computer - but can't tell me what program is doing this horrible thing to my system and many Google searches later I am forced to call in professional help. Yes, there are programs running that could be the culprit(s), but they frequently have the same names as legitimate Windows programs the removal of which would be disastrous to my system. Perhaps a running of the computer in Safe Mode (which I inexplicably forgot about until reminded by another friend) will help. Perhaps Microsoft's help service will not strand me on the line with someone in Bulgaria whose English is not fluent. And if neither suffices, 'twill be time to contemplate the dire option of reformatting. For further reference, the toolbar does not freeze until I attempt access of My Computer. Whereupon I'll usually get the endless hourglass sign to indicate loading, after which My Computer freezes and when removed from the desktop produces the frozen toolbar.

Matt

That is most unfortunate! I bought my computer over two years ago, now, so it's gotten to the "yeah, it's inevitable that it has all sorts of crap on it, so I don't really care" stage, but it runs really slowly, and features all sorts of random errors that show up from time to time. I'm too lazy to really do anything about it, either; I absolutely hate dealing with computer problems.

Reformatting might seem dire, but there's a silver lining to every cloud. After all, doesn't it feel WONDERFUL after you do reinstall Windows, erase everything, and you're greeted with a clean, super-fast-running glory-system? It's like breathing in beautiful fresh air after living in a sewer for months.

I constantly talk about Saturn titles because they're on my mind more than most lately. My Saturn backlog is larger than that for any other system and I want to whittle it down a bit. Dragon Force should be played by every RPGamer who enjoys tactical/strategy titles even the slightest. I think my feelings on Shining Force III have been made clear by this time; I'll just say that I consider it better than II and leave it there. Panzer Dragoon Saga is a beautiful example of a shooter/RPG hybrid that really shouldn't work anywhere near as well as it does (I heard rumours from Sega of a possible followup that was put on ice after Panzer Dragoon Orta on Xbox didn't sell very well. Sad).

Matt

For anyone interested in having their jaw drop in surprise, visit eBay and look for Panzer Dragoon Saga. Evidently, there are a lot of people out there that believe that it's one of the greatest games of all time.

There are some other titles in English on the Saturn that I think are worthwhile however. Guardian Heroes is another odd meshing of genres, a beat-em-up with magic and experience. I can't properly classify it as an RPG but it's very different from any other beat-em-up I've played. Albert Odyssey doesn't play as anything spectacular, standard turn-based combat that would've been very pretty on the SNES, but was granted a very amusing translation by Working Designs that elevates it to 'memorable' in my mind. Shining the Holy Ark I thought to be much better than Shining in the Darkness, its playstyle progenitor on the Genesis, the latter of which I played about an hour of before deciding to resell on eBay. I would append Mystaria to this list (vaguely Shining Force-like playstyle) but it bored me after a few hours and I haven't picked it up since. I would also append Iron Storm, another Working Designs-published title that allows deep strategic fighting in World War II, but I still haven't devoted the necessary time to make a comprehensive assessment.

Matt

Very interesting. Thanks for the recommendations o' yesteryear, because I certainly can't contribute as well; I wasn't brought up on Saturn (I probably wouldn't have lived very long if I had been, too! AHAHAHAahem.)

Grandia. You haven't mentioned playing this one, but I have heard that Sony's version of the game was poorly ported. Thoughts? I certainly don't plan on purchasing the Saturn version of this one when a perfectly servicable English translation was made - I just wondered how much English speakers were gypped again.

Matt

Well, Grandia III was one of the games that I mulled over buying a few months back. Remember that soul-searching I did, everyone? I had thought about Suikoden V, because I wanted some Suikodexperience, and I thought about Tales of Legendia, because some people said it was great (others said it was god-awful), and I thought about Grandia III, but for whatever reason, that didn't happen. No, instead, I fore-went (past participle of forego?) all three options and splurged on four or five DS games. Oh well.

Is it possible to use pop music in an RPG context? This is one of many odd thoughts banging around my head lately. Certainly, to fight against Zeromus in FFIV to the tune of something by Black Sabbath would alter it massively. Everybody, pick a good song for final bosses! If we're going the ironic route then some disco would really make for a good counterpoint! "He's So Shy;" "Shake Your Groove Thing;" "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real;" "You Should Be Dancing;" "Macho Man;" "Heart of Glass;" ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! "Shakes head back and forth repeatedly;" wow. What was I thinking? That came out of nowhere and should stay there, apparently.

Matt

Oh my. It's an idea, and I know that a lot of other people actually do listen to other music while playing RPGs, but I just can't do it. First of all, I'm not really big into pop music in the first place, and secondly, I can never play any RPG without hearing its background music, no matter how bad it might be. It's too critical to the "feel" of the game for me, and without original themes to associate with it, a certain void is created. I think I've told everyone the stories about getting pissed off and turning off my games whenever I'm yelled at to "turn it down". I get equally upset when people play "real" music loudly to drown out the sounds of my RPGs playing.

Celes in FFVI was mentioned recently, and I must say that in my (either 4 or 5) playthroughs of the title have never yet managed to keep Cid alive. Am I just a terrible fisher? Or is it an urban legend, only slightly less traumatic than the one with the hook on the car door?

Matt

No, no, no. I almost always keep Cid alive! Man, you just gotta go for the quick fish, and if there ARE none, then you have to leave, experience a few screen changes, maybe a battle or two, and then return in hopes that a quick fish has appeared. Never settle for the disgusting, icky, slow fish; those will kill him faster than you can say "I'm not long for this cruel world..."

On that sort of thinking: Chrono Trigger is great. Where did you leave off in the playthrough, during the portion at which the player can run about on any number of missions for a time? Best go back and finish it when able, for then you can try to find all the endings in New Game+. Good luck doing it without an online hand....

Matt

I've done a whole lot, and I can finish the game at any time through multiple means. I can't remember exactly what the last thing I did was, but I'm pretty sure I've finished everything to do with Frog and the ghost and all that business. I'm afraid, though, that I'm just never going to be into that game enough to care about unlocking all of those different endings. I'm not saying it's a bad game, and sue me if you will, but it doesn't hold my interest for very long in comparison to a lot of other titles, for whatever reason.

Is character design an issue for you, ever? I refer most specifically towards the artwork for any given character, although how the character looks on the field can also be a factor. My least favorite aspect of Grandia II has to be the character artwork and readings of reviews in the past seem to indicate I was not alone here. Currently in Dragon Force 2 I find myself picking the warriors who fight in my army just because of their looks (although when I have over 50 warriors at less than the halfway point some discretion must be used regardless).

Matt

It's not usual for me to care that much about the way characters look, though I have to admit that the lack of variety in character-styles in most Nippon Ichi games is a bit disappointing. I don't like that not only do the spear-wielders look the same as the swordsmen, they have the same expressions on their faces, too, so changing classes is much akin to playing paper dolls.

Another case I can think of is my experience with Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. I was initially extremely put off by the ultra-cherubic character art on the field maps, including the main character, whose Bambiesque eyes made me want to vomit initially. I got used to it eventually, but it was a bit of a trial- more than it should have been.

I'd say that generally, though, I don't really care that much about the appearance of characters, since I really had to think hard to come up with those examples.

On another tangentially related note; where is it written that...


Matt

This goes on? You're a crazy madman! I have to let Erika have a turn, but I'll pick up the rest of it... down the page a ways.

*gasps for air*

We will be back... after these messages?



It's hot, hot, hot city! Now where have I heard that before?


Yes, the days get nothing but shorter from here. I'm looking forward to the nice cool air. In fact, a cold front is moving through tomorrow, we're down to a high of 108 degrees tomorrow. And I mean that literally, we're actually DOWN to a high of 108. It's already been 110 or more a half dozen times this year. At least it's a dry heat, and at least it's 60 degrees in the winter.

Erika

I feel exhausted just reading that. I'm one of those rare people who's much better able to handle sub-zero temperatures than balmy summer weather. I keep telling people I need to start vacationing in the Yukon for the summer. Anyway, on with the questions.

Well, Erika, I suppose it's your turn to weigh on on the latest popular topics. So, I'll fire away:

Are you more into gameplay or story? What is your best example of your favorite?

Erika

I can say with confidence that I'm more of a story gamer. Case in point, I have a great fondness for the .hack series: the AI is awful, the dungeons are repetitive, and you spend a lot of time just hammering the "attack" button, but I love the story and became very attached to the main characters. There are other games like that, too, in which I had mixed feelings about the battle mechanics, but which I love because of the plot and characters, Xenogears for example. I enjoy good gameplay too, of course, but I rarely enjoy a game that plays well but has no plot. However, my favourite games usually combine the two, hence my love for the FF series which usually does a fair job of this, VI topping my personal preference list: fun to play and a memorable plot and cast.

The eternal Final Fantasy debate: FFVII, great or overrated? FFX, same question. FFXII, looks great or what the heck are they doing?

Erika

FFVII is my second favourite of the series, so I'm sure you can see guess whether or not I feel its popularity is well deserved. I enjoyed the materia system, the wonderful score, the graphics, which were superb at the time of its release, and, most of all the wonderfully convoluted story. I love the fact that I had to play the game several times to really understand it and it was interesting enough that I was entirely willing to do so. For some reason that did not happen with FFX. I liked it, but I didn't feel nearly as drawn in by Tidus's story as by Cloud's-- or even by Squall's for that matter. I can understand, though, why a lot of people really like the game as it has a lot going for and if they have fun with it then that's great.

As for FFXII, I have no opinion at present as I haven't played the demo, in spite of being a proud owner of DQVIII. You see, way back when, I played the demo for FFVII in advance of the real thing... and hated it. I did not like that demo one bit and I started panicking about whether buying a Playstation had been a terrible mistake. When I finally got my hands on the game it was a completely different story, but ever since then I'm wary of demos. After all if a demo can trick me into thinking I'll hate a game which I ended up loving then maybe they're not entirely to be trusted. So I've decided to just wait and see with the real thing.

And a random one: If you were making your own RPG, what parts of various games would you like to borrow/be inspired by? I'm thinking the open world of DQVIII paired with the character individuality of FFIV with the historical scope of Shadow Hearts: Covenant paired with the graphical quality of FFXII paired with the humor of Lunar. Plus, the minor detail of an epic plot.

Erika

I'll have to agree with you on using the huge overworld of DQVIII (old-school overwold maps don't seem in fashion just now, but I love them) and I'd also like to add the day/night shift, which was an element I really enjoyed in DWIV and was happy to see return. I'd also bring in something like the reputation meter and alignment stat from Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen. They affect how NPCs and recruitable characters react to you and influence which ending you get. And multiple endings would be nice too, well developed ones especially, like the "A ending" branch of Valkyrie Profile. I'd have the variety of NPCs from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, which has some of the most well-developed and/or individual NPCs around. And to top it off how about a convoluted plot a la FFVII just to mess with our heads a little?

Anyhoo, time for Sock!

236) D. Lufia II (although I debate the GS430 being sexy. The one I've been in was kind of blocky, although the A/C vents were cool in how they panned back and forth)

237) D. Sebastian Dior

Hope I got this in in time...

Thanks, both of you!
BigWook


Erika

And thank you for the great questions! I got to talk about a slew of my favourite games and what's better than that?



Part Two...


(continued from above)...heroes of Japanese-made RPGs must have the spiky hairdo? If I meet someone on the street with spiky hair, I do not assume heroic potential exists beneath. Instead I assume either that I am dealing with a person who wants to be perceived as a 'punk' (as opposed to a true punk - read this link ) or I am looking at someone who does not have the ability to wash his or her hair regularly. I am sure this is not the impression Japanese artists (and the Westerners who have influenced or been influenced by them) wished to convey, that heroes are consistently lacking the ability to bathe regularly. But when the hero frequently appears to be wearing the same outfit through the entire adventure, AND his hair is a disgusting, unsightly mess, what else is one to make of it? Let alone when the entire party is without a chance to bathe... but this is one reason to be glad games don't come with smells for the player to experience along with the sights and sounds.

Matt

That's true. We really do need an RPG where people change their clothes regularly, because that's one detail that just shouldn't be forgivable. After running around everywhere, battling slimy, disgusting monsters, and presumably working up quite a sweat, RPG characters should be a giant mess by the time they reach Level 5, let alone by the time they fight some random evil archdemon on a different planet somewhere.

I don't really know where the hairstyles came into play, but they've been around for decades; Dragon Warrior III's hero had crazy spiked blue hair, and in a pixelated form, too!

RoboCop versus Terminator... those were the days. Filmwise it is undeniable that the Terminator trilogy beats the crap out of RoboCop (1 good RoboCop versus three good Terminators - if you liked RoboCop 2 I don't understand you). Gamewise neither of them translates to RPG particularly well, with Terminator being a better fit just by virtue of the sheer amount of Skynet hardware roaming the earth in, what was is, 2029? The versus aspect was actually explored in two mediums I've dealt with though; there was a Dark Horse comic miniseries about ten years ago postulating that RoboCop's fusion of human with machine was the spark that led to Skynet's gaining of sentience. whereupon RoboCop was attacked by three Terminators determined to make him servile. RoboCop actually triumphed over all three and had determined to destroy himself rather than let the future come to pass, except Skynet cheated and sent two more Terminators (one a freaky spider-modeled affair) after a badly damaged RoboCop. It then led to the future where RoboCop had preserved something of himself despite Skynet's efforts to rid the last of his humanity from the system and he managed to regain physical form and fight with the human resistance... been awhile since I read this so my recall isn't perfect. And there was the game on Genesis and SNES which was entertaining to the me of 12 years ago while being notable for presenting a Terminator as a boss three levels BEFORE ED-209 showed up. ED-209 took a long time to bring down, too, for such a stupid robot.

Matt

I'm really not the guru you are, evidently, on the subject. However, I kinda liked the Terminator movies too, though it seemed like there was no option but to have a fourth in the series after the conclusion of the third. Unfortunately, Arnold's gubernatorial responsibilities seem to have put the kibosh on that possibility for the time being, no?

Portables. A friend of mine is currently lamenting his overhasty purchase of a PSP last year. While a sometime-RPGamer, he's not one who would peruse RPGamer. Thus his use of the device is limited to Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and probably the upcoming Metal Gear Solid game, the title of which escapes me (he also uses the PSP to transfer TV programs onto and watch in short bursts - but does not buy UMD movies). His roommate just offered him 5 DS games and the wi-fi adaptor for $30, which he is finding an impossible offer to turn down. This in turn requires that he own a DS to enjoy these items, and compiling a list of DS titles has in turn driven him far from the necessary activity of studying for economics finals. Poor fellow.

That didn't deal with me at all, did it? Anyway, if I were to buy a new portable it would be the DS. And watching movies on the PSP seems like far more eyeglass-prescription-altering pain than it's worth. Seems Sony made an overhasty move with the UMD....

Matt

Agreed. Even with the introduction of a few attractive RPG titles and the weirdest platformer in history, the PSP still doesn't really turn my crank. Sure, I'd like to have one to be able to play these games that I'm missing, but my bank account simply doesn't allow me to have EVERYTHING, and I think that if most RPGamers had to choose one handheld system to own, the DS would be the choice to make. It does seem like there's a bit of a DS lull these days, though, doesn't there...?

All interested in George Carlin from my mentions and Matt's familiarity with his very un-PC brand of humor should check the original performances. They lose a LOT in translation to text.

Matt

Absolutely! If you're not easily offended, you have to hear him sometime, because he's pretty awesome. If, on the other hand, you ARE easily offended, then just forget it; you'll end up angry if you do.

An author I read quite regularly is Harry Turtledove, whose area of expertise is historical fiction - frequently alternative historical fiction. For those not familiar, this involves taking an event in history, changing it, and following the result. This brand of thinking seems to possess excellent potential for transition into the RPG realm. Have the Nazis win, and be a party of people who are either marked for slavery or extermination under Hitler's dogma fight against the swastika-ridden world! Have Stalin not be so timid, conquer Europe for the forces of the proletariat everywhere, and be people who still believe in the capitalist system coming forth to unfurl the red flag! Have Pol Pot be ambitious in addition to completely insane, conquering the entire southeastern Asian landmass, and stop his lunatic ambitions to revert everyone's lifestyle to the Dark Ages! Mao Zedong wasn't satisfied with Communism in China and tried to conquer the whole of Asia! Napoleon beat Russia and Great Britain, becoming an indomitable titan! Aaron Burr succeeded in his plot to fracture the U.S. by allying with Spain, and must be brought down in the aftermath of the War of 1812! Emperor Pedro II of Brazil did not abdicate, bringing a civil war in Brazil that spread throughout South America and necessitates brave adventurers to bring it to a close!

Matt

Indeed, this "alternative historical fiction" is incredibly interesting, and I love hearing new perspectives on what might have been, or what might be, or what should have been, or what should be. Movies and books that deal with the possibilities of the near-future of the world just intrigue me to no end, and books like 1984 have kept me more absorbed than most books tend to be able to.

Of course Turtledove's books don't really follow the scenarios I just threw out fancifully, and depend upon the actions of thousands if not millions in armies to enact goals - just like real life where one person against a gun is usually dead. His current series deals with the CSA defeating the USA in 1862, then defeating it again in 1881 with the aid of Great Britain and France, causing the USA to make fast friends with France's bitter enemy, Germany. 1914 comes along and US troops invade the CSA and Canada, eventually winning after three very ugly, very bloody years of war. Same with Germany, where Russia, France and Britain all go down. It's currently up to the winter of 1943 with a Confederate revenge invasion of the US coming to grief in Pennsylvania after splitting the US in half via Ohio, and rebellions ripping through occupied Canada while the Confederates are pursuing a Final Solution-esque activity against the people they blame for everything (guess what group this might be...). I just cut nearly 5000 pages of material down to a paragraph; is it any wonder it reads oddly? But that precise scenario doesn't make for a good RPG unless tinkered with quite a bit or I'm missing something important.

Matt

Well, there are some RPGs that are set in the real world in "alternative" pasts, you know. If you haven't done so already, check out the Shadow Hearts games. I don't really know how significant a role the historical events of the past actually play in those games, but that's only because I need to sit down and actually get through one all the way, one of these days...

Even by my standards, this one's kinda verbose. The reasoning is twofold: I'm not sure how long it will be before I can use the computer to its fullest again, and in a week I'm going to Disneyland, so no messages may be forthcoming for many days (dull hurrah from the glazed readers). I anticipate no significant RPG playing while at Disneyland. So sorry.

SOCK speculation: 222)a. 223)b.


Matt

I have to admit, this is definitely the longest letter I've ever answered (or attempted to) in the history of my column. I've certainly never had to break one up and distribute it throughout, but I guess that's the nature of the beast, or uh, something like that.

My internet browser is currently the only open window, eliminating my...

Matt

OK, actually, why don't we break it off there and continue it in a little while! Consider it another Erikammercial break, yes?

*insert Gilette ULTRA SEVENTEEN seventeen-bladed shaving "system" advertisement and accompanying background music*




Cap things off with this fierce letter!


Hi Matt, Ed wrote a well thought out letter recently about why people shouldn't use the term "overrated", and no one seemed to listen. "Overrated" isn't an opinion word, it's an insult. When you say, "FFVII is overrated" you're not saying FFVII is bad, you're saying anyone who rates FFVII highly is stupid. That is insulting and untrue no matter how many times or in what context you say it.


Erika

Well to be fair I don't think "no one" listened. A couple of people have used the word "overrated" since that letter came in, but they used it very mildly and I really think there is an issue of context here. For example, isn't there a difference between: "That game is so overrated!" and "I liked it, but it seems kind of overrated." ? To me anyway, the first statement clearly suggests disdain, while the second suggests disagreement with the general consensus, but without necessarily implying that everyone who disagrees is a moron.

It's true that "overrated" is very often used in a snobbish manner as a way of elevating onself above the opinions of "the masses". However, some people just use it as a shorthand way of saying that they didn't like the game as much as everyone else did.

I dislike FFVIII and feel FFX-2 was a complete waste of code, but it's perfectly ok if other people like those games. The fact that I don't like those games doesn't make me smarter than those that do; it just makes me different from them. For example, the part of FFX-2 I hated the most was the battle system. I felt combat oversimplified and gimmicky, and that the costumes were mostly meaningless fan-service born of simple laziness. Others probably feel differently. So what! That's what gaming is all about. Finding the things you like and things you hate.

Erika

Hear! hear! I agree entirely. We can like different games and still respect each other and discuss the differences in our tastes. In fact that makes for some of the most interesting discussions, don't you think? The recent back and forth about plot vs. gameplay for instance-- clearly it's very much a matter of taste, but it's really interesting to hear from both sides of the debate and to get a sense of the wide variety of RPG gamers out there. After all discussions would be pretty boring if we all agreed on everything, right?

So please people, let's keep making constructive criticsm and stop taking "overrated" shots at each other.

cap


Erika

You may well be preaching to the choir around here. I've only been reading the column for the past six months, but I've found it to be one of the most civilized forums around. Matt's kept the place pretty clean and I think the fact that we can talk about potentially dicey issues like "overratedness", girls in games, or console wars (things which can lead to flame wars in less well-maintained forums) is testament to the quality of this column.

.......

No, Matt didn't offer me extra SOCK points to say all that. Why do you ask?

Nameless

0:-)



Part three...


(continued from above) ...incentive to delay the pain. And every other program that I have closed hasn't disappeared, but instead has an endless hourglass over it whenever I move the cursor there... oog.

Matt

Ouch. I think that your poor computer could use some serious professional help. If I were you, I'd definitely be in the "crying helplessly on my keyboard" stage, I'll tell you that.

Have you considered sunscreen when outdoors? Melanoma is nothing to take lightly.

Matt

Ooo, but you see, according to a few recent studies, there are many factors pointing to Vitamin D deficiency as a major cause for why cancer rates have skyrocketed over the past few decades. Effectively, we may have been sunscreening ourselves to prevent skin cancer while making us more susceptible to about fifteen other kinds! My point of view is... well, there's got to be some reason that humans have evolved to love the sunlight, right?

By the by, I never really thought I'd get lectured on my tanning habits in this column, but I have to say that I truly appreciate your concerns. It's nice to know that readers actually care about my well-being. *sniffle*

[In addendum, nine days later:] The computer difficulty has seemingly resolved itself, and it was linked to some unfortunate file on my external drive anyway. The first English Fire Emblem I will wax poetic about some other time when I am freer to write, given the hours I spent on it: but I will say that if you have managed reasonably few resets thus far in The Sacred Stones the first English Fire Emblem will require more: it was harder. Oh, and you have to play The Sacred Stones again for the different tangent on the story you'll get by either Eirika or Ephraim's path from chapter 9 (or maybe not, but I certainly did and the differences are quite noticable particularly in the middle portion of the game). Disneyland is very enjoyable, although quite crowded and hot in the middle of the day; thus the brief break now.

JuMeSyn


Matt

It's good to hear that your issues have been smoothed over! You're lucky that things didn't just turn uglier all of a sudden, because that's what happened with me once; things started going crazy, and then my system decided to, uh, reformat itself (essentially) before I had the chance to do anything about it. It was a grievous loss, but I have learned a lesson.

I've loved Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones so far; it's a game that is absolutely oozing with replay value, and it makes me delightfully woozy whenever I think of it. It's gotten to the point where I'm actually applying it to my real day-to-day activities, which is just friggin' weird. For instance, when I was doing some programming for my thesis last night, I'd have the destinyish "Player Turn" music playing through my head as I'd tweak my C++ code and write new lines, etc; but then I'd hit "COMPILE" and then the music in my head would change to the "Enemy Turn" music, which would conclude when the Compiler finished, returning the 2958235-or-so errors in my work. The mind-music would then return to the "Player Turn" theme once again, as I tried to make corrections, and so on. Computer, evil! Matt, good! I hate programming! I love Fire Emblem!

JuMeSyn, you are the most long-winded writer-inner I've ever known. However, you write a mean letter, and I hope you take the (massive amount of) time to do so again sometime soon!



RPG all-stars!


Anyway saw this topic in the forum and thought I would ask you here! What would be your 6 member party if you could use any RPG character from any RPG!

Erika

What a fun question and Matt was kind enough to let me have this one. So fire away!

Mine

(Team 1)
Precis (Star Ocean 2) (Hard Hitting Fighter)
Humphery (Suikoden) (Defence Machine)
Link (LOZ) (Swordsman Extreme)

Yuna (FF10) (Healer/Summoner)
Vivi (FF9) (Black Mage)
Kid (ChronoCross) (Theif)


Erika

Oh! Precis and Kid! I would never have thought of them. Here's my team. I tried to get a few in there that weren't too obvious.

- Celes (FFVI) Good at physical attack and magic-- and one of my all time favourites so I just had to include her.

- Rydia (FFIV) Great Black Mage and Summoner-- two-in-one!

-Laharl (Disagaia) He has great special moves: you just can't beat Overlord's Wrath.

- Boyd (Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance) Axe-wielding powerhouse-- he was my boss-killer for most of the game.

-Angelo (DQVIII) He makes an excellent archer/healer. Yes, I actually went through the game with Angelo as an archer and it worked very well especially with his MP-absorb abilities.

-Lenneth (Valkyrie Profile) An all-around good fighter plus she's a goddess so it's probably good to have her on your side, right?

Bainick, the dual weiding half shouvles. Slash and Bash my way to Victory


Erika

Thanks for the cool question! I had fun running through my mental rolodex of characters and trying to come up with a few interesting names to add to the party.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I've come to expect great things from Erika, and she certainly delivered today! I hope you all enjoyed reading what she had to say, and I only hope that we'll get the chance to see more from her again one day. Thanks for a job very well done!


Flashay!


***Answers to June 22nd's Questions***

#236. d) Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals - 350 points (Yes, it's Lexis! Lexis Shaia!)

#237. d) Sebastian Dior - 330 points/660 for Bucket (Thanks for the submission!!)


***Today's New Questions***

#238: Which of the following attacks would be 4x as effective as usual against a Torkoal? (350 points)

a) Earthquake
b) Ice Beam
c) Focus Punch
d) Muddy Water
e) None of the above


Erika's #239: Of the following Shakespeare plays, which contains a pair of characters whose names mean, respectively, "blessed" and "the one who blesses"? (350 points)

a) As You Like It
b) Twelfth Knight
c) Much Ado About Nothing
d) All's Well That Ends Well
e) The Taming Of The Shrew


And... as of today, SOCK has expanded enough that it's time to also expand the Top Scoreboard! Now, the top THIRTY-FIVE will be featured on the board, all susceptible to item use as well. If you have a problem with that, too bad for you!


--------------------------
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!
--------------------------

SOCK's Item List

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

2,000 points: Your choice of Drain Spell (2 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Aux. Point Generator (1 left) or Mithril Sword (2 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Thunder Spell (2 left) or Fira Spell (1 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Haste Spell (1 left) or Super Sneak Glove (1 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Point Tripler (2 left) or Light Converter (1 left)
14,000 points: Your choice of Hyper Beam (1 left) or Annoying Curse (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)

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. (2 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) *********************************************************


That's all for this week! I know that there is a lot more mail waiting to be answered, so if you're one of the people eagerly awaiting an appearance in Q&A, just be patient and hopefully I'll get around to it next Tuesday. Get involved in the SOCK if you haven't thought to yet, because there are some really cool prizes on the line, and anyone can win them, even if you're just starting now; believe me.

If you'd rather just keep reading the column for the sake of reading, then of course that's fine too! I only hope that you'll join me again next week as I continue to answer your very best questions. Until then, have a great weekend.

slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is sick of programming! *barfs*


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One can only program so much before slowly descending into lunacy.

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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

2. The New Super Mario Brothers

3. Radiata Stories

Matt's Top 3 Gaming Desires:

1. Disgaea II

2. Final Fantasy III

3. Xenosaga: Episode III

SOCK's Top 25:

1. Macstorm
17,830 pts

2. Alexander
17,487 pts

3. Alan Tse
14,873 pts

4. Aurelius
13,723 pts

5. BigWook
13,234 pts

6. Bainick
12,096 pts

7. Colabottle
11,196 pts

8. Kanato
10,657 pts

9. Erika
10,513 pts

10. Flamethrower
9,261 pts

11. FinalDelerium
9,147 pts

12. DMJewelle
8,930 pts

13. Dermot
8,736 pts

14. Cap
8,509 pts

15. JokingChimer
7,760 pts

16. TV's Adam
7,415 pts

17. MagRowan
7,032 pts

18. Knighttrain
6,604 pts

19. LufiaLvr
6,520 pts

20. Belthasar2
4,943 pts

21. Xlash
4,777 pts

22. Leaper
4,530 pts

23. Purelunatic
4,300 pts

24. Gilgamesh
4,248 pts

25. Gaijin
3,808 pts

26. Arros Raikou
3,341 pts

27. Donovan
3,100 pts

28. Bucket
2,860 pts

29. Werekitty
2,730 pts

30. Kyre7lar
2,520 pts

31. Rexy
2,284 pts

32. TalonX13
1,660 pts

33. Megan
1,620 pts

34. Angus Creighton
1,270 pts

35. BLG
1,173 pts

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