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Let the Games Begin
May 8, 2007

Matthew Demers - 18:33 EST

I DISAPPEARED AGAIN, I know. I'm sorry. The last week has been nothing short of chaotic as I frantically packed up my stuff and moved a few blocks to a nice new high-rise apartment building, the kind with no spiders, a livable indoor temperature, and with light. That basement apartment was STUNKY.

I have gotten in a little gaming! Pokémon is predictably ruling my life currently, and I've been battling vigourously against my brother, who has been religiously playing too. What a great game. Ahh!

The other piece of news? A certain big game shall now begin! Yes, Sock 2 starts as promised today. The grand prize is still being hammered out, but fear not; it'll be worth the wait, and one way or another, over $300 of prizes will be awarded by the time this whole shebang is over with! If you've already signed up, then to keep on top of the game, stay on top of the daily links in the sidebar. I'm archiving each day's game page alongside the regular column pages here, so if you ever want to go back and reminisce or whatever, you can do so more easily.

If you haven't signed up yet, you still have time: You can register on or before May 31 by sending me an e-mail telling me your proposed nickname.

Anyway, that's that, and from now on, most of my Sock chatter will happen on the sock page. Q&A is for Questions and Answers, dammit, and that's what we're going to get to right now!




LETTERS
A glimpse into the underbelly of an old favourite


The formula for the Steal command's success is as follows:

6.6 Steal***********

1. If the monster has no items, then you automatically fail to steal.
2. If your level is >= 205 (hacks only), you automatically steal.
(Skip steps 3 through 7)
3. StealValue = Your Level + 50 - Monster's level
4. If StealValue < 0 then you fail to steal.
5. If StealValue >=128 then you automatically steal. (Skip steps 6 and 7)
6. If you have a Sneak Ring equipped: StealValue = StealValue * 2
7. If StealValue <= [0..99] then you fail to steal.
8. You have 1 in 8 chance of getting a rare item; otherwise, you get a common item.
9. If the monster doesn't have an item to steal in that slot, then you fail to steal; otherwise, you successfully steal that item.

Source: http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/file/554041/13573
As you can see, speed is not a factor at all. Only level.

Matt

WHAT!? It's all math? Where has the magic gone!? And all this time, I thought that the little guys really were just getting lucky at finding whatever it was that the enemy sprites were holding. Next you're going to tell me that Meteo isn't *actually* little meteors raining down inside the TV! Pff.

Additionally, you could indeed steal a Ragnarok from "Girl", the back target at the top of the tower during the final battle, right before Kefka. You could also steal an Atma/Ultima Weapon from her companion. The difference is that in the SNES original, you couldn't save your game after you beat it, so it wasn't cheap or exploitable. If you still feel like it's a cheesy manuvre, perhaps you can take solace in the fact that every time you beat the game, you have to sit through 20-30 minutes worth of ending scenes and credits before you can save.
--

Alexander M. DeMichiei

Matt

I had absolutely no idea that you could! Talk about last-minute equipment management. The ability to repeat the final boss in the Game Boy Advance remake is a little cheap, but it's not that bad. I'll bet that with this knowledge, however, there aren't going to be many people out there who will get Narshe-dude to pound the poor remains of Mr. Ragnarok the Esper to an oblivion. Gamers for the preservation of fictional magical beings' corpses, unite!

That game is full of awesome stuff. Thanks for the glimpse into the inner clockwork, Alex... and sorry it took me two weeks to get back to you.



Hot Topics and more!


Matto-san! Konnichiwa!

How are the English names for the new pokemon shaping up? Anyone else out there think Turtwig is an awful name? I was really rooting for Twiggle, personally...

Matt

Eh, I don't mind Turtwig as much as I do a few others. "Pachirisu" is particularly awful, I think, just because it doesn't sound remotely Englishlike in any way, shape, or form. They could have gone with something lame like "Squirzap" and I would have been happier, though I could be missing a pun in the original. I thought that the beaver pokémon "Bidoof" had an awful name until I was playing Scrabble with my family last week, and completely by chance discovered in the dictionary that "Shadoof" is a word referring to some Egyptian form of irrigation. Funky.

A new personal moment of triumph to share:
Recently, I was over at one of the big electronics stores, Yodobashi Camera (for some reason, they all have "camera" in the name), and on impulse decided not to wait till my paycheck, and buy Atelier Lise anyway. The sticker price was about 4400 yen, so I handed over a 5k bill and my point card (every store has one). The teller asked if I wanted to use the points on the card, and I figured why not? I figured it could shave off a few hundred yen from the price.

Then the teller handed me back several thousand-yen bills as change.

Well, I figured I'd made a mistake somewhere, maybe handed over a larger bill than I'd thought or something, but as I left the store and checked the receipt, I had a pleasant surprise. Apparently I'd had far more points on that card than I'd thought, because I'd just bought a brand-new DS game, not four days after its release, for about US$5.

So I'm happy, happy, happy.

Matt

Awesome for you! Why don't EB Gameses employ such systems around here? It seems more like video game stores exist here to suck as much extra money out of you as they possibly can. Insurance? No, thanks. Subscription to random magazine? No. Strategy guide? GIVE ME MY GAME, PLEASE!!

Anyhoo, if this game makes it across the Pacific, I'd recommend it for a fun change of pace. It is much more like the original Atelier series (though not as good as the PS2 installments) than the Iris series. It's pretty easy to play, but difficult to finish with a good ending, especially the first time through. The writing is funny as heck, too, and the Japanese version at least is definitely aimed at a lower reading level than previous games, with far fewer kanji used.

(Is double-happy, because he can actually read everything in the game now)

Matt

Doubleplusgood. No word on whether it's coming across or not, but they seem to be enjoying releasing the Iris games over here these days, so you never know.

And here we are. The week's topics, my take:

1. Playing Pokémon?

--Not now. I power-played through Ruby a few weeks back to farm pokemon for Pearl, but that got a little dull after a while.

Matt

And THEN you get Pearl (or Diamond) and realize that you can't transfer them until you're through the entire game. Phooey. I've put in altogether too much time so far, to be perfectly honest. How much time? Eheheheh, I'm not going to say. I'll tell you in a few months, mayhap.

2. What's the game that embarrasses you most in front of friends?

--The most embarassed I've ever been while playing a game was when I was playing Zelda : OoT back in college. A friend of a friend would always come over and start making pimp-daddy jokes whenever Link was talking to one of the many girl characters in the game.

Matt

Aww, the dorks. I used to get made fun of for playing anything remotely RPGish in general by my high school non-friends. Maybe this is where I grew to dislike Grand Theft Auto, nearly all sports games, most fighters, and altogether the majority of "mainstream games": A tortured high school life, by idiots who played (and liked) those games for some inexplicable reason.

Ah well, I said screw 'em and enjoyed my games, and you did too. We're like two peas stuck on two prongs of the same fork!

3. Is the PSP a smart buy for RPGamers?

--Honestly, I haven't seen too much that's been worth my consideration, RPG-wise. Given the state of my finances, there's nothing that tempts me enough to plop down 30,000 yen for a combined purchase. The Devil Summoner remake comes close, though.

Matt

Is that a Japanese-only one? I haven't heard of it, but I could just be missing something. I try to stay on top of things, but I worry that I'm a bit guilty of not being right-up-to-date with PSP news on account of not having one myself. Bad Matt!

4. Which games are your "comfort games"?

--Pretty much anything. I need to concentrate so hard on reading most of my game library that outside worries seem to evaporate.

Matt

More or less, this is becoming my position too. GAMES in general are a comfort-thing-to-do, with limited free time and excess stress to blow off. My fond memory games, though, that I always go back to in times of old-game-craving, are the NES Dragon Warriors and the SNES Final Fantasies.

5. What elements of RPGs do you miss and want to see?

--Maybe just more overall thought to the storyline, and how it affects gameplay? Definitely more tactical situations like in Vandal Hearts, with complicated goals, instead of the usual "kill 'em all" scenarios.

Matt

It is exciting, I'll admit, to have more interesting conditions for victory than your usual extermination. Fire Emblem kind of woke me up there, because every Fire Emblem game I've ever played varies the situation from battle to battle wonderfully. It makes the game feel a little deeper, or multi-layered, like a delicious cake.

Well, gotta get going now. Talk at you later!
Your man in Japan,
Gaijin Monogatari

Matt

Thanks, Gaijin! More later!



Something smells goooood.


Hiya Matt!

So yeah, since someone threw in Guitar Hero as their game of embarrassment, I thought I'd come forward and say Karaoke Revolution or SingStar. I own them all, and yes, sing them all... Most embarrassing is singing "I Believe In a Thing Called Love" by the Darkness (it's on Karaoke Revolution 2). If you know the song, you'll know why it is embarrassing.

Matt

Wowee... now that is not my kind of game. I've been known to start humming in the shower, but beyond that, I don't sing in public for a reason, and that reason is self-respect (I'm really that bad, though I used to be part of an awful choir, once upon a time.)

As for embarrassing RPG...? Hmmm... can't say I've ever had an RPG that I've been embarrassed to play. Maybe for a bit FF IV, but that's just cause we would read the lines aloud dramatically when I was a young kid. We'd do it cause one cousin or another didn't want to miss the storyline, but they were in the next room. ^_^ Doh...

Matt

Ahaha, and with that wonderful excuse for a translation, it must have sounded pretty humourous. Don't be too embarrassed, though; I often make it a habit of sitting in the room while my brother or sister are playing an RPG while reading aloud in different voices the dialogue of various characters. I love it much, even if I'm more annoying than a swarm of gnats in doing so.

Comfort games? RPGs - FF VI or Chrono Trigger. No surprise there... They're like reading well loved novels. I know all the best parts and can recite my favorite lines by heart. Playing them are like visiting with old friends. Non RPGs - Tetris Attack, Dr. Mario, Katamari Damacy. Yeay for no-brainer brainy games! (Oxymoron I know :D)

Matt

Tetris Attack is like crack, except with pretty shapes and colours. Not that I've ever tried crack or anything, but, you know.

Okay, you have me on the villainous pairings. I love working with Bowser in SMRPG. He's just too comical! Hrmmm... Another good villain to work with is Magus from CC. Completely arrogant, but powerful addition to the team. Could drop kick his younger self though. *Punts Janus*

How about anti-hero heroes? Have you played the most recent installment of Bard's Tale? The one where Cary Elwes did the voice of the Bard? So funny... there are three endings to the game. A 'good' ending, a 'bad' ending, and a selfish ending. First game I've seen where you can choose yourself over anything else happening in the game. The non-ending ending. ^_^ So fun! Can't think of any other game that has such an ending setup.

Matt

Magus is definitely one of the coolest villains-turned-hero ever. Also, I haven't ever played a Bard's Tale game! And, to be perfectly straight-up with you, I know next to nothing about them. Sounds creatively fun, though.

G'luck with wrapping up your thesis!
MagRowan ^_^

Matt

Oh, thanks. Hopefully that chapter is behind me now... until the PhD hits. *gulp*



More on crossover villains


I really enjoyed being Fou-Lu in Breath of Fire IV. As much as I despise bishi characters now, I couldn't help but feel like a total badass when that guy was under my control. He spoke in biblical English ("Thine art gods"), had way cooler battle music than Ryu, and I loved the way he took a step backwards and just walked off the screen after a fight. It was like he was saying, "Thou art too damn cool for thine background...bitches."

Jonezy

Matt

Ah, it's true! He was fun to play as, and his little scenarios were more significant than they might have been if the developers had been lazier. He definitely helped to spice up what was otherwise a pretty bland game. Well, Ershin too... what a strange cute little robogod.

Yeah. Huh, I totally forgot about that game... how about that. Bad Matt, again!



QUICKIES

Salve Matt!

Just a short message to congratulate you on sending in your thesis, so soon we have to call you by some title, won't we?

And good luck for moving too!

Best regards Master, Major, PhD, Dr, or whatever you have in Canada.

Belthasar2

Master Matt? Light or Dark Side?

Matt
Master Matt it is! And now that I've moved into my bright sunny new home, I've gotta go with Light. It's way more fun to zap things with giant beams of energy than with burbling blobs of dark ambiguous fluid.

IN CLOSING

Wahh! So the inbox is pretty empty, now that I've been away for so long. I apologize for my absence, but things should become much more stable now.

AND, I'll be back tomorrow! Write in with your latest questions, answers, suggestions and comments, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. For next time, tell us all what games you're looking forward to most in this shiny new summer that is looming. There aren't a huge number of them, but there are a few.

Bye, all!



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On my Wishlist:

1. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

2. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

4. Dawn of Mana

5. Metroid Prime 3



On my Portable Playlist:

1. Pokémon Diamond

2. Lunar Knights/Final Fantasy VI

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



Hot Topics:

1. Playing Pokémon?

2. Summer '07: What are you looking forward to?

3. Is the PSP a smart buy for RPGamers?

4. Which games are your "comfort games"?

5. What elements of RPGs do you miss and want to see?



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