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ASK MATT
Three-Legged Potato Sack Rat Race
April 25, 2007

Matthew Demers - 19:58 EST

SO AH... I'm not going to beat around the bush. What about those new Dragon Quest IX screens?!? Holy crap, could it be a turn-based RPG after all? Or is there some hybridization of the traditional with the more actiony stuff we saw in the first trailers? I'm SO excited for this game, but it's soooo far off yet. Waah!

On another note, Pokémon is so wonderfully great. The games are so slow, but more addictive than cigarettes that have been laced with heroin. Plus, I played a couple of battles with my brother on Wi-Fi. The voice chat feature is quite unbelievable! I was taken aback by the quality/clarity of the transmission. Who'd have thought?

In conclusion, the DS rocks my world, which we all knew to begin with. Why are we wasting our time up here in the intro, then? Don't ask me... let's move on to les lettres.




LETTERS
Kingdom Hearts: Portable?


Matt:

So, this is what I'm reduced to. My brother demanded that I return our shared PS2 to him so that he can play Tiger Woods on it ("Hope you have fun with that sub-par graphical simulation of a game that nearly qualifies as a sport"). At first I thought I'd have to go out and buy a new PS2 with my very next paycheck, as I couldn't imagine being without one. But I'm trying to be philosophickal about this: having my system count reduced by one means that I might actually finish a game.

Matt

"Philosophickal" ... ahahaha. Buddy, you've got to lay off the FFXII.

Yeah, don't you hate it? In my earlier university days, I used to want to take back the N64 for awhile, since I knew it was collecting dust around home. It wouldn't happen, though, because the argument was that my younger siblings or mom/dad "might want" to play something on it sometime. It was technically a shared console too, so I was out of luck. Winning strategy? Start making money, and buy your own before selfishly hogging it. Alternatively, cut some special deal with Santa.

Unfortunately, I have been feeling a desperate urge to play me some Kingdom Hearts, and, without a PS2, the only option is (shudder) Chain of Memories.

Matt

Ruh-oh. Not a fan, are we? (Actually, we talked about this not long ago, so I know how you feel on the subject.) Chain of Memories is a funny thing. Even though the consensus is that the game blows, blows, blows, there are some real, true fans out there that really did enjoy it. I can't say, myself; I never played. (Plus, I can't say I'm a huge fan of the main series in the first place.)

Which brings me to the question of heroines. I have said it before (repeatedly), but a Kingdom Hearts with Kairi as lead character would completely rock my face off. I'd love for her to step forward and take an active role, as a sign of her growing empowerment (she IS one of the Princesses of Heart, after all). Will it happen? I can only hope. It would be especially cool if it happened to be calleld something like, oh, I don't know, Kingdom Hearts DS.

Matt

Uwaaa, that would be very cool. Actually, I'd be a bit surprised if Square Enix didn't make an announcement in the DS department for the KH franchise. The DS, for some reason, seems like it would be a perfect fit. I can't put my finger on why.

So, a few questions for you: if (when) you get Puzzle Quest, which version are you going to get? I've never heard you mention owning a PSP, but I think now's a great time to get one, what with the price drop and some of the announced titles for the system. So, which version intrigues you more: the PSP with its "no-companion" bug, or the DS with its higher crash rate and wonky controls?

Matt

Weeellll, yeah. I don't have a PSP, it's true. The other thing is that in all honesty, right now, I feel like there's no way I could fit in time for yet another system. Of course, that could just be because I'm feeling completely frazzled lately, but yeah. No immediate plans to buy anything new, including a PSP. So if I got Puzzle Quest, it would likely be the DS version, though I'd be completely pissed off if it crashed on me, erasing an hour of work or something. That would not be a happy day.

And, with just a few days left until P-Day, I have to ask: which starter are you going with? I think Piplup seems to be pretty universally popular, but I did read that it would be important to have a strong grass-type early on. So, what is your choice?

-Jeffrey

Matt

Yesh, it's always important to have a grass-type handy from the start. However, I went with a grass type when I played Pokémon Blue, the Water type when I played Ruby, and so this time, I had no choice! Chimchar is mine. I also forgot to give him a nickname, so unlike all of my other critters, he still appears as CHIMCHAR, as if he's some godzilla-like creature. I'm sure I'll find a way to change it... sometime. Besides, the game could use a boost in difficulty anyway.

That's all, Jeffrey-o-awesomeness. Take care!



Video game stores... of a different colour.


Hey Matt, You may not remember me but i wrote in a couple months ago whining about how my original DS's charger broke. Doesn't matter is you don't, but I found out when I bought myself an SP (so I could finally play Dragon Warrior 3 again) that the SP and the Original (fat) DS use the same charger, so yay! ^__^

Matt

I remember you, of course! What do you take me for?

Anyway, I ran into this issue with chargers... in that even THOUGH the old-model DS uses the old charger, the new one, for some annoying reason, uses a completely different one, and older chargers are completely physically incompatible. Really irritating. I once grabbed the wrong one on my way home, and I ended up not able to play much while I was there, because I discovered that no, they were not the same after all. Silly/stupid/whatever you want to call it.

Also, I'd like to respond to something a writer said regarding Grandia 2. I can't remember off the top of my head what he said, but was something about Grandia 2 on PS2 being really bad. Now I'd like to make something clear, there are 3 versions of Grandia 2. The original Dreamcast one, a PC port (which I own), and the PS2 port. I've played the PC and PS2 versions, and whats weird is that even though they're the same game, the PS2 version sucks ass (we can say ass here right? <_<). The graphics are grittier, and for some reason they changed the end battle voice clips into what sound like horrible outtakes. So if your going to get Grandia 2, get the original or the PC version.

Matt

I can say whatever I want here... it's my column. Ass, ass, ass! Bitch! Damn! F---! Oh... sh--, I guess I can't say everything after all. Damn.

Anyway, yeah, liberties are often taken with hasty ports of games that end up turning a good idea into a bad, bad final product. Unfortunate.

I'd also like the oppurtunity to brag about my soon to be new job. I'm going to end up working at a local game store. ^_^ And not like an Ebgames store, I mean one of those local stores that carry things from NES games to Saturn to imported japanese stuff. Hell, they even have the Earthbound collectors edition box with game, manual, and player's guide in it's original packaging! O_O (240$ canadian btw) And I get to work there!!! The owner even told me that he was planning on closing down for a week and taking his employees to the tokyo game show next year!!! I was practically in shock!!!

Oh and Matt, they also have the first 4 Dragon Warrior for the NES as well, so if your in the Edmonton area look for a place called Nexwave Games.

Neo Turbo

Matt

Wowee! That is exciting. There are a couple of places like that in Toronto and Montréal, but nothing around here. I love browsing, though, and seeing the incredible markups. When I went to Montréal last year (anybody remember anything special about "La Piazzetta"?), I was just playing through Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, which my friend Sean had lended to me. I saw a boxed copy there for $250. That's one four-thousandth of a million!

I've never, in any case, seen all the Dragon Warrior games. I own the Dragon Warrior IV cartridge, and my grandma has II. Seeing the original isn't uncommon, but its sequels are quite a bit rarer (sadly).

So uh, yeah. I'll swing by next time I'm in Edmonton (I've never been) and we'll do lunch or something.



Ack, I just remembered DQIX again. Holy me, I'm excited.


Hi Matt!

I wouldn't mind playing FF Tactics on the PSP if I already had one, but as much as I love the game (probably my 3rd favorite all time), I really can't justify buying one just for that. I wrote off the system for a while due to it's somewhat prohibitive price and the fact that my portable gaming time was easily filled by my DS and GBA. Thus I haven't followed the PSP's releases as closely as much as the other systems. But I think I still have plenty of time to change my mind and look into it more seriously. Just guessing, I would think both the DS and PSP have at the very least 4 years of life ahead of them. Portable systems seem to stay "current" for a longer time than home consoles do. Maybe it's because there's less competition (none until recently), or there's less of a graphical/tech push. What do you think?

Matt

I'm somewhat guilty of that myself, I have to admit: That is, categorizing all PSP RPGs by tossing them in a "whatever" sack, just because most of them have indeed received mediocre reviews.

It's just easy to do when you don't even own the system. It isn't really fair, though, and I could well be missing out on some great games. Despite that, I still don't have plans to buy a PSP, whether or not Balthier and his charming wit will appear in Final Fantasy Tactics; a man only has finite money and time, and honestly, the Wii/PS2/DS combo is keeping me plenty busy as it is.

Bad games I like...hmmm I'm probably one of about 7 people that liked Unlimited SaGa. The artwork really drew me in and the open ended gameplay sounded pretty appealing. I asked for it for my birthday. I started playing it and...yeah it was a pretty rude awakening. Instructions were next to worthless, it took me a REALLY long time to learn what was going on.

If it weren't for some VERY helpful people on gamefaqs, I probably wouldn't have ever gotten it. I wanted to stick with it though since I had in fact asked for it specifically. I certainly recognize it's flaws (steepest learning curve ever, badly designed menus, plot/character development is minimal/nonexistant). But it grew on me a lot and I enjoyed it for what it was, enough to beat the game with each of the 7 main characters. I thought that having HP serve as a buffer for LP worked out really well. The battle system was a lot of fun once you learn how to start chaining attacks and magic together effectively. I can't explain how characters "level up" and gain skills concisely here, but once you learn how it's done (no easy task), the ways to set up your party are almost limitless. And even people who hated the game agreed that it has an awesome soundtrack.

Matt

Yeah, you'd hope that if you had an "outside-the-box" battle system that it would be explained very carefully to you. Tutorials are funny things; they are definitely not the first things you'd think about as a developer, but on the other hand, not having them (or not having good ones) can turn a great system into an exercise in anger management.

Regardless, you're not a whack-job, because there are other people out there who likes the game. I think that Ouro had a bit of a fun time with it a little while back. And HE'S not crazy. Oh no. ;)

I'm not really embarrassed by any particular game per say, but certain situations can be uncomfortable. Being on break at work I'll often play some Fire Emblem or something, every once in a while some other employee's kid will come running up to me in the employee lounge, practically shouting "OH IS THAT A GAMEBOY?? WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING, CAN I WATCH? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHO IS THAT? CAN I PLAY???" Normally I can't take it for more than a few seconds and end up cutting my break short. Not that I dislike kids or anything, but how do you explain Fire Emblem to some 7 year old that, chances are, plays mostly Spongebob, etc. Perhaps I'm just being grouchy but I value my breaks and my privacy. And games that have atrocious voice acting have a way of making me play them with nobody around either.

Matt

It's so true! I learned to put my portable systems away whenever my little cousins would come over, because they'd walk in the door, and proceed to immediately gravitate towards me as if I was some kind of human neutron star, plastering themselves to my side and generally invading my personal space in a most indescribable way. Yeah, I know, they're just kids. But that's why I don't plan on having any.

That's all I've got for now, I'm going to be buying Dragon Quest: Rocket Slime for DS soon, so I'll let you know how that goes!

Seeya
Jeremy V

Matt

Do! It's a fun, fun game. Even if it's easy, easy, easy. Take care!



Final Fantasy VI Advance spoilers ahead! (bonus material stuff)


Hey Matt,

I have to say, as part of this generation that used to have all the time in the world (well, compared to today anyway!) to sit around in front of the TV playing video games as a kid, I really appreciate the shift in focus to handhelds. Quicksave functions are the ultimate convenience, even if I occasionally forget what on earth I was doing the last time I picked up a game.

Matt

Plus, if you're away from home a lot, which a lot of people are, you still have a means of playing. Busy people like me can play on the bus, and well-designed portable games will take these things into consideration. Final Fantasy V Advance, for whatever reason, was especially good at this. I don't know why, but the battles feel short, snappy, and the game is more easier to pick up and put down than its (ultimately better) brother, FFVI Advance.

I bring it up because I worry that I'll never make it through the bonus dungeon in FFVI Advance. I made it through the original game much as always, but then I started playing around with it after the fact, and I am totally exploiting Cactuar's +2 speed bonus with level up. Locke's speed is in the triple digits and it beyond amuses me. Do you know if his steal success rate is attributed to his speed? I just sort of steal or mug constantly with the guy (and have Miracle Shoes equipped to boot, so he's lightning fast), so I don't know if I'm more successful because I can steal so often, or what.

Matt

I have no idea. One thing I do know: Locke's Steal success rate is more probably associated with my own luck rate, from the experiences I've had. I started working on the bonus dungeon myself, and I quickly got defeated by the first boss, and it was such a terrible defeat that it kind of turned me off. The same sort of thing happened with FFV's bonus dungeon as well. You have to ease a player into it, for heaven's sakes.

I also have two Lightbringers (I still call them Illuminas... stuck in the past, what can I say) now that I finished the game and stole a Ragnarok in the final battle. I was amused to discover I still had it after the credits rolled and I got to save it. At first, I wondered if I was being ridiculous by exploiting the game this way, but I suppose I already played the game fair and square a decade ago, so I'm entitled to do whatever I want this time around. What do you think? Do you try to play your remade games markedly differently than you played the first time around, if you can?

Matt

The question is, can you go back, finishing the game again and again, receiving more and more of these swords until you have as many as you like? It seems kind of cheap to me. Could you steal those in the original?? I can't imagine that you could, but maybe I'm wrong.

Anyway, I do try and play the games differently on new attempts! This time, I put a few stipulations on Esper equipping: People HAD to equip espers with an associated stat-boost that went best with their "natural" jobs. For instance, Terra and Relm had to equip Magic + 2 Espers before anything else, Sabin had to equip the Stamina + 2 espers first, Cyan the Strength + 2 ones, and so on. I dunno. Kinda cool, I guess.

Finally, another SOCK tangent! I was wondering about the spell if you have the experience thing, so thanks for clearing that up. Unfortunately, it confirms my fears that the black mages among us will be able to abuse us all early on in the game, once they have two experience points to cast Fire, inflicting 10-15 points of damage and killing someone starting out instantly, obtaining half their experience to do the same thing the next day. Tell me there's a way to defend ourselves!

That's all I've got. 'Til next time!

Josh

Matt

Don't worry, Josh. Things will work out. I'm the guy in charge here, and I'm going to make sure that this thing plays out as fairly as possible. Of course, if it becomes apparent that one class has an advantage over another, there's nothing stopping anyone from gaining levels in other classes at any time!

Thanks Josh! Until next time...



QUICKIES

Super Paper Mario, a new look for the action RPG's?

Matt
Clearly! Well, I've never seen anything like it, anyway...

Did the results of Sock 2 Beta have no real effect? Meaning, when the game actually starts, did any of those purchases, attacks, etc, actually happen?

Draconn

Matt
No no, definitely not. That was just a trial-run designed to make me confident in the automated aspect. I'm confident now, so we'll go ahead with the main thing soon: It starts a week from next Tuesday!

IN CLOSING

One day down, another to go. But that one won't start until tomorrow. Visit again then, and I'll give you a new bunch of Questions and Answers for you to chew on! Oh, and by the way... if any of you have Pokémon Diamond or Pearl, you should take my friend code down and give me yours. It'd be fun to trade or battle! 5026 0921 8039 is the key.

And that, as they say, is that.



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Matt is too stressed for a day like today.


Funny, that. And yeah, the voice chat on Pokémon is way too awesome. SO cool!

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