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April 11, 2007

Matt - 20:29 EST

AN UNFORTUNATE SEQUENCE of events happened last night. After playing through the first incredibly enjoyable chapters of Super Paper Mario, I happened upon some dialogue that included the word "splendiferous." When I saw this, my jaw dropped to the floor, because I've been using that word for ages; I always thought that I had made it up, and thus, that Nintendo had STOLEN it from me! With excitement, I told my weekend Q&A counterpart Andrew, who told me that he thought that it was an actual word. Since his english prowess is impeccable, my eyes widened with alarm: Could I have been using a real word all of these years unwittingly?

As it turns out, the answer is yes. My "version" of the word historically was spelled with two "f"s, but the true spelling has just one, as anyone who has played through Chapter 1 could now tell you. And my creative word isn't so creative after all. Almost exactly the same darn thing happened about ten years ago, when I discovered that the word "moronic" was not of my invention. I was dumbfounded. And I sit, dumbfounded, today, again.

I need to recover, and you can probably guess how I'm going to do that. Yes, letters. There is only one solution around here to all of life's problems.


Dear RPGuys n' Gals

Okay, I got a minor bone to pick with you guys. It mostly has to do with your review of Super Paper Mario. Now, normally I'd be pleased that an RPG was getting a 5.0/5....but this is Mario?????

What were you guys thinking??? I mean, I understand, it's a great game, sure. But why does a Plumber who jumps around from block to block and step on turtles and evil mushrooms get the "Coveted 5/5 Championship Belt" that RPGamer offers??

You're supposed to be rating RPGs! Not Platformers!! Now, I understand SPM IS an RPG, with many RPG elements...but truth be told you guys have been EVER so strict with the RPG factor in many games as of late, so why stop now? I seldom ever see a 4.0 anymore. Something new comes along and you're like "WHOA I never saw this combination of platforming and RPG and story before! 5/5" Maybe I'm not justified or overreacting but....when was the last time a RPG in the Traditional sense of Swords and Magic and Quest got a 5/5 I ask?!


Wai-wai-wait, whoa whoa whoa. OK, let me backtrack a bit. I'll answer each of your questions in turn, like a Lightning Round in some '80s game show.

This is Mario? Yes it is.

What were we thinking? Well, it's more "what was Jason thinking," since he wrote the review, but since his view represents our site, fair enough. I think that the review is well thought out and justified.

Why does the plumber get the coveted 5/5 belt? Because the game is phenomenal. It's creative, as you say, but that's only part of what's important; the complete package says it all. Play it and see- I've only gotten through the first chapter, and I loved just about the whole thing.

When's the last time an RPG in the traditional sense got a 5/5? I think that Dragon Quest VIII got one fairly recently from a staff review, if I'm not mistaken. That's about as traditional as you can get!

When was the last time you didn't feel like playing Super Mario Bros and felt like carrying a sword instead of a Fireflower? Or summon a Familiar instead of catching an invicibility star?

Well to me, there are many games out there that could've been a 5/5 had I rated them, but someone else would've disagreed. I've been a long-time viewer of your reviews for RPGs and often I swear by those reviews, waiting for the review before buying. Because for the longest time I thought you guys were very scrutinizing of RPGs, right down to the last detail in equipping items or using items, that's how you guys work. Now I'm not so sure anymore.


Now now, come on! You need to play the game before you can pass such harsh judgment! Surely there is reasoning behind the utter madness that is "GIVING A FIVE" ... it's not just awarded willy-nilly. Furthermore, the game has been highly praised by just about every other website out there, so it shouldn't be too terribly surprising. I can't say personally, because I've barely scratched the surface of the game. But neither can you!

Of course, since I import, I get exposed to more games than the average gamer, but to be honest, I found your reviews tried and true, and I hope that never changes. If the review for SPM was justified, then so be it. But you guys had better be looking for another 5/5 at some point, and not just slack off in the review department...I got my eye on you!


Sorry for sounding paranoid and creeping you guys out or something.

Another loyal RPGamer,


Believe me when I say that our reviewers are very discriminating people that care very deeply about what they do! Any review has to make it through many levels of "okay" by multiple people. Surely, you have to realize that there is a little bit of opinion wrapped up into any review as well; what's amazing for one reviewer may be only "pretty good" for another. JUSTIFYING those opinions objectively is the important part, and I'm sure that the reviewer did just that. But, if everyone thought the same way, all reviews would be exactly the same, and it would be pointless to have multiple sites. One thing is absolutely for sure: You can't pre-suppose what score a game should get based on your impressions, especially if you haven't played it yet! Incidentally, one of my biggest GRRnesses is when I go out to eat with a friend, and I order something, and Friend makes an ugly face at the item that I order for myself... not because they don't like whatever it is, but because they've never even tried it. How can you possibly know, apart from latent oracle abilities, that a certain dish deserves praise or scorn without tasting it for yourself?

P.S. Maybe someday you guys can review import RPGs since the PS2 is chock full of obscure titles you may want to delve, say Super Robot Wars Alpha 3: To the End of the notch TRPG right there!


Alack! RPGamer has always been a North American site, and historically, we've only ever reviewed non-import games. It would be cool to make the site bigger and better, adding a section sometime in the future to deal with import RPGs, but as it stands right now, we don't have any plans to anytime soon. You're right, though; there are so many games that never see the light of day over here that many gamers are still interested. Like that one. And, uh, Mother 3. And Dragon Quest V... *sigh*

Thanks, Blade, for writing in. Don't take this response as a counterattack, and don't worry because you haven't creeped me out; I just think that it's important to keep an open mind. If Super Paper Mario got a perfect score, it must be pretty damn good, and that should be your take home message.

Final Fantastitution.

HHey Matt,

While this question sounds kindof mean towards you, it's not. It's meant to be that way towards Square-Enix.

Anyways, though. How do you feel about SE sending us stuff like Final Fantasy 12 Revenant Wings and Chocobo and the Magic Picture Book but keeping Dragon Quest Monsters Joker in Japan? The Chocobo series didn't sell well in the US to begin with yet they disregard that fact and don't send us the possibly best DQM game ever released even though we all know that Dragon Quest 8 sold a hell of a lot of copies, regardless if most of them were just for people to play the FF12 demo. Why send Rocket Slime Adventures as well which I'm guessing didn't sell that well and wait for a game with the Dragon Quest label and not a sidestory. Lastly. Why doesn't Square-Enix just label every game they release with the heading of "Final Fantasy."

For instance, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. Oh that's right, they did. But what about these few?

Final Fantasy: Front Mission 6
Final Fantasy: Seed of Mana
Final Fantasy: Endless SaGa
Final Fantasy: Etc, etc, etc.

Square USA originally slapped us in the face by originally releasing the SaGa series as Final Fantasy Legends or the Seiken Densetsu series as Final Fantasy Adventure. What is really stopping them from doing the same once again so we see some of the better games(Like Front Mission 5, Front Mission History, Front Mission 1st DS, DQMJ, DQYangus.

During the PSX days Squaresoft wouldn't care to venture out and release some great games to the US. But during the PS2 and next gen eras, it's all about the Final Fantasy series and nothing else. They do make some games on the side, but it's usually released only inside Japan. After ruining the mana series in every sequel they made, why is that one of the only non FF series to repeatedly come over here other than a few other crappy ones, like Drag-on Dragoon or Kingdom Hearts(yet this is pretty much a FF game with a different title.)

Square-Enix may be gaining a ton of money, but to my point of view, I'm done with the company. They'll still be uptop regardless because of the many fanboys who rant and rave over the company due to the title "Final Fantasy" but I won't be supporting them.

-andrew- -kupomogli-


Yeah, they've become a little bit liberal with splashing the Final Fantasy franchise all over the place, but they've also dug up some old goodies, giving us hope. Last summer, we saw a remake of Valkyrie Profile, of all things, followed by a sequel. That's a step in the right direction, though examples like that are considerably outnumbered. The problem is that Square Enix is a business, and Final Fantasy is their well-known franchise. It makes them a ton of money. So despite our whinings, they're going to keep making them, because it's just business sense, like it or not.

Not to pick at your boycott-claims, but I'll bet that a couple of years down the road, you'll be writing in to tell me how awful or how great Final Fantasy XIII is, despite them. Keep in mind that Square Enix is a company that I and many others have hated too! They've cancelled some of my most-wanted games of all time, and refused to translate others that I've longed for. When Final Fantasy XI was announced to be completely online, I can remember my reaction: I was absolutely infuriated. There are so many times in the past that I've felt great surges of annoyance towards them, but their games are like an addictive drug that you just have to keep coming back to. Final Fantasy XII had so many issues with it that bothered me, yet I still loved it in the end. Just wait until you read the next letter.

Sadly, this is so true.

Dear FFXII, read right! I just finish you on April 2nd (2 days late) and i feel...well...empty!

Where is my feeling of accomplishment?

Where are my memories of great moment with you?

Why am i not sad to finish your saga like i did with other Final Fantasies?

OH FFXII...I hate you...

1. Storyline
Where are the twist? Where is the fantasy?
You had everything to be good! Why are you making me walk 10 hours to Archades? Why?
Why didn't you go more in depth with the characters and with the Ochurian?
Let me meet Vayne sooner!!!
And the ending? What it's that? Sure it looks great...but gives me something to think about please!

2. Characters
First, thank you for Balthier and Fran, they are all-star cast! How can you not like Balthier charisma and Fran accent? But for the rest of the gang...
Bash is like a Steiner from FFIX with a little more class Ashe doesn't seems to care about nobody
And Vaan and Penelo...what are they doing there? It looks like you decide to add 2 extra characters once the game was complete.

3. Foes
Yeah your battle system is great...But the foes animation were anything but exciting.
And another thing : Ok a wolf is scary...but is it really neccessary to put a new kind in each new dungeon?

4. Quickening
How can you make me depend on something that random?
How many time was i waiting for that "Mist charge" just to see the timer run off...
Quickenings look great! But a 3 minutes chain of 15 quickenings kind of cut the battle tempo...

5. Boss
Hum...Who are they?
Isn't a boss suppose to be story related?
And why are they getting so strong when near-dying? I told you, i'm tired of using quickening to kill bosses!

6. Saving
You know, i have other thing to do then play you in my life!
Why are you making me walking for almost an hours to get to a save point? I have to go!
You know, you don't have to heal me...i jsut want to save!

7. Music
Where is the theme song that will be stuck in my head when i think of you?
Where is your "Hymn of the fayth" or your "Melody of life"?
Ambiant music is good...but not just ambiant music!

8. Customization
Your grid system is really good at the beginning!
But soon enough, i found myself with 3 mages and 3 fighters...
Where is my specialized character? The one that is good for certain battle and useless for others...
I just don't seem to care who is fighting.

9. Magic
Why can't i get the powerful magics sooner?
And where are the effects? Blizzaga is supposed to be cold...I want to see LOTS of ice!

And do you know what i hate the most about you FFXII? Is that, i LOVE YOU...and i can't explain why.

Even if i was disapointed a lot of time, each of the 70+ hours that we were together were enjoyable!

And if you ever ask me to come back...i will gladly!



Oh, I have one, I have one!! 9.5: Random treasure chests! HOW I HATE THEM SO! Why go well out of your way to get yet another "Knot of Rust"? Or 23 Gil? I don't understand.

Anyway, this was an awesome letter, because it's so incredibly true. That lovable disease of Final Fantasy XII took over my life and many others for a few months despite its shortcomings. You should submit it to the editorials section and make some other staff members here happy campers.

Oh, I'm so good.




I downloaded a MIDI song years ago from RPGamer years ago titled Mountain Road. I've searched and searched your games list and I can't find the game it's from. Can you please tell me what game it's from? I'd really appreciate it.


What do I look like, a super-crazy MIDI-track-name figure-outer? I don't even know the official track names of most themes from games that I play and love, let alone mystery ones. Aren't *I* supposed to come up with these questions? Anyway, it's from Ys. Don't believe me? I have psycho powers that would leave you breathless, man, breathless...

P.S. If possible, could you also find the MIDI song: Forest of Selceta. Thanx again. :P



A hint for you: MIDI files don't just exist by default. They're approximations of in-game tunes constructed solely using the ears and abilities of composers, so people work hard to make them exist. If you can't find "Forest of Selceta," it might be because it hasn't been created. Or, using my mysterious and powerful mysterious powers, you can find it here. Don't think that I'm this nice to everybody; this skill costs all sorts of MP... Matt Power.

A little-talked-about game.

Hi Matt!

Ok, I have to ask: What -is- the stupidest item you've gotten in a Zelda game? The items I tend to like the most are ones that are useful in a variety of situations throughout the game. I'm playing through Twilight Princess now too, I don't know how far you are in the game so I'm hesitant to cite any examples, I don't want to spoil anything. I guess I'll just be sorta cryptic and say that I like 'the combo', and the items from the water and ice dungeons. Most of the time I have those ones at the ready. But there have been a few that I have not found any practical application for outside of their resident dungeon (desert dungeon item was a pretty big letdown for me). It seems like those are there just to take up space with no purpose but to allow you to complete the current dungeon. So there's one minor complaint, I just have one more, that being that I found the first half of the game to be ...well I don't know if I'd say linear, I'll just say..somewhat restricting. I just love exploring. But that's it. I'm really liking it, with most Zelda games I have a hard time stopping once I get started and that is certainly the case here. I love exploring every nook and cranny in Hyrule, the anticipation of what the next "big" item/tool is going to be, the dungeons are long and fun, the boss fights alhough pretty easy are just a blast to play. I'm liking the story in this one quite a bit too. Seems with each installment the story/plot development expands quite a bit. And I'm impressed with the length of the game itself. I'm at 40 hours and I know I still have a ways to go. I guess I'm trying to say that I don't find Twlight Princess subpar at all.


The desert item is exactly the one I'm talking about! I've always hated these stupid, situation-specific items that are not at all useful outside of those limited times. It's like, say, the mallet-thingie you get in Link to the Past. It doesn't really have any "real" purpose beyond smashing down mallet-barriers that stand in your way. You can only ever find it useful WHEN those barriers are in your path. It's a good thing that using that one is so delightful, though, causing one of the cutest sound effects ever. I can't say the same for the awkward-to-control-and-figure-out desert temple item from TP, which is FINE, but something that will quite obviously come in handy rarely. Good guess there, anyway.

But yeah, the rest of the game is wonderful. The dungeons seem to be remarkably well-designed this time around, for some reason. I'm finding them to be straightforward, yet challenging enough that I don't ever get awfully frustrated, which is, well, exactly what I'm looking forward to. The plot isn't spectacular, but it's neat and original, especially for a series that hasn't exactly emphasized story in the past.

How's FF6A going? I don't have it, but from what I've read the Vanish/Doom trick is gone. Is that something you ever used in the SNES days? I did sometimes. My rationalization was that it just facilitated what the spell was supposed to do in the first place. It always bugged the hell out of me that spells like Doom, Break never worked unless it was on something that would get killed in 1-2 attacks anyways. One hit kill spells like that are an extreme example, but one of my major pet peeves in games is status magic that never seems to do anything but miss. Or the ones that are pretty nasty when used on your party, but pretty useless when turned back on to the enemy. This happens a lot, and yet somehow I can't think of any examples, oh well.


You can't think of any examples, because that issue is present in almost all games, especially those made by Square Enix. When almost every enemy can be destroyed in a single hit, why in blazes would anyone take the time to silence them or slow them, especially when taking that extra time poses a significant chance that the technique won't work in the first place? It's so bothersome.

Anyway, Final Fantasy VI is one of these wonderful offenders, but it's going really well so far. The new translation is smooth, and while there are a few subtle differences here and there, and a few bigger name changes, there are also a few lines that were very obviously not in the original, presumably thanks to the scathing eye of the supercensors in Nintendo back in the 1990s.

I don't really have too big a problem with having a lot of save points in RPGs. I do think the ones that heal you up completely sap away a lot of the difficulty. I can't remember who brought this up, but having save points in the room before every single boss can be a problem. Some games like Star Ocean 3 and Shadow Hearts Covenant may as well just wave a flag announcing the upcoming boss.


Ohh... most games have resorted to this, I feel. Not all, but most. And yeah, my problem is: How can a boss be even remotely scary if being defeated by it means nothing more than losing a couple of minutes of playtime? People complain to me often about Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest and its "Retry?" option when defeated in battle, but there is absolutely no difference to me between something like that and sticking a stupid save point before every single challenging battle in the game, you know? *grumble*

Hmmmm, I'm not trying to be negative but I feel like I am so let me go out on a positive note. I agree with you about Fire Emblem's story. When I bought it, it was because I had a pretty good idea that I would fall in love with the battle system, and I did. But the story was much better than I expected, and I really liked the characters. And I have just found it to be the perfect game to have on the go, you can turn on the GBA and be in the fight within 10 seconds. And when you have to go, you don't even really need to quick save, just turn it off and it'll be exactly where you left it. I just don't think any other game has been better made for quick 5-10 minute spurts of gaming. Just don't forget what you're doing when you quit, losing a character right when you come back because you forgot you needed to heal someone is no fun at all.


Yes, yes, I've definitely experienced that before. That game is so darn unforgiving if you're someone who just can't bear to let people go. It's really, really painful to build up characters and become attached to them, only to have them fall in a major battle... especially when it's due to an unexpected critical hit. Aah!!

Anyway, Fire Emblem is awesome. The Wii version will complete my life, I think. Yes, I do.

My letter is too long as it is, so I'll just throw in that my favorite storylines are from Xenogears and FF Tactics.

Have a good day!
Jeremy V


Ah, and perhaps in the upcoming PSP remake, you'll be able to comprehend it more. Are you planning on investing in it? Let me know! And thanks as always, Jeremy!


I remember back in ye olde days when all the letters were quickies. Alas, my poor quickies section is dying! SAVE THE QUICKIES!!!


It's so true, eh? I don't know what I did to inspire all the novelists out there, but I musta did something. You heard the man: Write me some quickies, on the double!

Mister Mister, is there any game you would give a '5' upon reviewing? If not, are you just waiting for the right game or will that rating be forever unused?


Of course, and it has, within the past week! But, it's a value that I think should be used with a lot of care, because it defines the absolute cream of the crop. There aren't many games out there that are "close to perfect," but if an RPG ever came along and swept me off my feet in the same way that, say, Final Fantasy VI or VII did, there's no question that it would receive a 5. For me, personally, even games as good as Dragon Quest VIII and Final Fantasy XII have just too many little issues to give anything higher than a 4.5 to. But, that's me.


We've talked a lot about ratings today, so I'd like to see what you have to say about video game reviews. What elements make up a good review? Is RPGamer's "weird" scale irritating to you, or is it the way things should be?

Until the next day that I am back, which should be tomorrow assuming normal circumstances, I bid thee all a fond farewell! Play something for me while I work on revising my big huge ugly paper.

Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 11 - safe
Matt is revising his big huge ugly paper.


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On my Wishlist:

1. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

2. Super Paper Mario

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Metroid Prime 3

5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

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1. Final Fantasy VI

2. Lunar Knights

3. Mega Man ZX

On my Console Roster:

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess/Super Paper Mario

2. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

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