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ASK MATT
Endless Barrage
May 9, 2007

Matthew Demers - 19:45 EST

SOCK ENTHUSIASTS, I direct you once again to today's Sock 2 link in the sidebar! A few minor issues are addressed today.

The rest of you? Let's get the column off to a good start by me ranting about Final Fantasy IV. Exactly how many times does Square Enix think that we're going to buy the same damn game? They just released a port less than two years ago, after all. The saddest part of the whole picture? The screens and design look awesome, and damn it all anyway, I want it. How sad is that? At least I didn't buy the GBA version (my brother owns that one) so I won't feel quite as bad about investing in it. But, still.

And how about that other announcement? You know, the one about the new version of FFXII having the License Boards that the original should have had? Very exciting, that, even if it doesn't have a Magikarp's chance in the Pokémon League of being released on this side of the Pacific.

On to the letters? Sure.




LETTERS
Ooooops, I have more mail than I thought.


Hey Matt-

As far as my PSP vs. 360 debate, I'm still not sold on either. Mass Effect getting supposedly pushed back to September definitely supports the PSP argument, though; plus if I get a PSP soon I'll be able to play portable PS1 games all summer, mmmmmm. I'm still not sure if I want to spend my hard-earned cash (birthday checks) on either system just yet, but the PSP is tempting me with its portable goodness. I'm still a huge fan of the DS, though; I have 10+ games for it now, I believe -- and I only got it last June. Now that I think of it, portable gaming has always been my favorite, ever since I was really little and had a huge clunky Game Boy with a gigantic battery pack on its back. I remember being so happy when I finally found Final Fantasy Legend II and completed my Game Boy FF collection... ahh, nostalgia.

Matt

All right! Yeah, I didn't realize the greatness of portable gaming until I unexpectedly got a Game Boy Advance for Christmas back after it was released. Since then, I've put more hours into portable gaming than console gaming by a large margin.

And Final Fantasy Legend II? I really, really couldn't get into it. I tried! It was just too mediocre for me. I remember seeing it for the first time going home on the school bus when my friend Ken was playing it on his Game Boy. This is talking... fifteen years ago, maybe? Scary.

I picked up Pokemon Diamond, and although I haven't played much of it yet, my first impressions are that the game is VERY sluggish. I haven't played a Pokemon game since Blue, so I'm not used to the pace at all, but battles take longer than they should and text moves slower than it should, even on the fastest speed setting. Even the walking is slow -- I have the Running Shoes but it seems absurd that I should have to hold a button to move faster, when a run option should be default in this day and age.

Matt

It's true. Well, most of what you say. The running shoes thing is a bit silly to me, because there are lots of games on other systems where you have to hold a button to run... though honestly, given that there really is no advantage to walking over running, I don't see why you just don't run automatically in the first place.

Elements in RPGs that I want to see, eh? How about a decent story for once? Or even better, how about some RPGs that DON'T come from Japan? Japanese RPGs are all well and good, and of course the Suikoden series is my favorite ever, but it'd be nice to see some more Western RPGs other than the occasional PC or 360 game. I really miss the Baldur's Gate series; playing and replaying those games gave me many hours of enjoyment.

Matt

See, this is something that SHOULD have changed slightly after RPGs grew in popularity. Unfortunately, the vast majority of North American publishers are, I think, not wired that way, and choose to make more money with endless sports games and shooters. It's probably smart business sense for them, since admittedly, those genres are more popular here than anything else. It's sad but true, since the RPG market does exist in North America- it's just not as mainstream.

Here's a question to all you readers that Matt asked before but wasn't really answered by many people -- what do you look for in a good review? I like getting constructive criticism on my reviews, so I'm curious as to what you guys want to see. Same question to you, Matt.

- Ish

P.S. I woke up this morning to find that every time I turn on my computer it goes straight to a blue screen of death and doesn't start up. Yay.

Matt

I asked the question because a few people were irritated by the rating that Super Paper Mario received a few weeks ago. The definition of what exactly is a "review" is nebulous at best, so it'd be nice to hear what your thoughts are on the subject!

Otherwise, I'm sorry about your computer woes, Ish. Hopefully they clear up soon!



Gaming Family Trees for the win


Hey there, Matt!

Did you ever get that long letter I wrote a few months ago, where I cut myself off once I reached 1000 words, and then was going to write the second part, but then I never got around to it? Doesn't really matter, though. I've got something else on my mind right now.

Matt

I think I must have, but I can't be too sure. I went back and checked, and I don't see any unopened mail from you, so either I responded, or I'm senile and didn't after reading it.

The return of SOCK! SOCK was wonderful, but it's good to see it's sired a daughter (there are far too many males in RPGs, so I think SOCK II is female), and that she's now come of age. How're you feeling, revealing SOCK II to the world?

-CW

Matt

I'm feeling 90% good! I'll feel better once everyone (including myself) gets into the groove of how things work. I'm really excited to make this whole thing a big success... and I hope that some people get to win some nice things.



Hypnotic games of evil involving cute little critters.


Hello,

Haven't got a Pokemon yet, but I have become quite intrigued with all this praise you have given to it. When I last played a Pokemon game, Crystal, some years back, I recall being somewhat consumed by that one. Their addictive qualities have been retained, or, Light forbid, increased, since then, yes?

Matt

Yeah, truly. It's so hard to put them down once you start... I know I'm just kidding myself when I say "I'll play this for just a half hour" before bed every night. Inevitably, 4 o'clock rolls by before I know it, and I get that sort of queasy gulp when I realize how late it is and that I have stuff to do in the morning.

There was, however, one extreme annoyment in Pokemon: capturing rare pokemons. Not the tasks of finding or battling them, of course, but the actual capturing where the Master Ball seemed only viable means as I have many times failed even after throwing dozens of Ultra Balls at sleeping pokemons with 1 hp. Do you have any idea whether or not this one still persist in Diamond and Pearl?

Matt

Ahh... it's all luck of the draw, and I guess luck wasn't on your side! I've never had TERRIBLE problems with catching rare Pokémon in the past, but it's funny you ask. Why? Because I encountered my first rare Pokémon last night in Diamond. I tossed a single Ultra Ball at it without reducing its HP at all, and successfully caught it right off the bat. I'm not sure if I just got ridiculously lucky or what, but it happened, and I named it Diane.

Plus, I dunno about this game, but in Ruby/Sapphire, it was actually possible for you to get another Master Ball, if you got extremely lucky at the daily lottery. It wasn't very likely at all, but yeah, kind of cool.

Also, what games should we exactly be looking forward to this summer? I do not see any title that would spark much intrest, but I may have missed something. Give me some suggestion and I'll look into it.

-Shadowchancellor

Matt

Etrian Odyssey! It looks interesting, new, and delightfully old-school. I say "go for it" now, and hopefully it turns out to be a great game. There are also the Final Fantasy remakes for the PSP, Persona 3, and more. It won't be a busy summer by any means, but it's not empty either.



A follow-up letter!


Hey Matt

Just a quick note to say that I did partly take your advice on which games to get for my holiday RPG bonanza. FFVI has been on my gaming "to do" list for almost 10 years now, ever since FFVII introduced me to the series (and to the world of turn based RPG's for that matter). Before then, my only experience with the genre was with action titles such as Soul Blazer, Secret of Mana and Illusion of Gaia.

Matt

Oh, wow! What are you waiting for, then? Play it! Or have you already? It's viewed as the height of the series by many people for a reason, and it's one of my favourites for sure!

For my other choice though I ultimately decided against Tales of the Abyss in favour of Steambot Chronicles for several reasons. Firstly, it was cheaper, secondly, I reasoned that as it was an Atlus game it may be fairly rare in the future and if I wanted to get hold of it I should do it now, and thirdly, you get a free mini harmonica key chain! I've played a bit of the game and I have to say to start with I was unimpressed because the graphics are rather angular and basic, but the interesting gameplay more than makes up for that. Nearly every conversation results in a multiple choice response, so you can be friendly, indifferent or mean, and these have a direct result on the outcome of the story. Plus, after the initially linear hand holding session the game broadens into a free roaming adventure, a bit like a cutesy GTA. I'm looking forward to getting deeper into it.

Matt

Score! Free goods. Do you play the harmonica in tune to the music? That would be a crazy sight.

It sounds pretty cool, though. I've honestly never given Steambot Chronicles much thought at all, though I have to say that I broke out into laughter when I saw "cutesy" and "GTA" side-by-side. It makes me think of bunnies hopping around and dragging women out of balloon cars before jumping in, running over them, backing up again, and doing so repeatedly. No blood! Balloon cars are light! Well, as long as the bunny isn't obese or something.

I'll sign off now - not long until Sock 2 eh? Exciting times!
Ice^Tiger

Matt

Yeah, I guess that last line makes it obvious that this was sent in awhile ago. Sorry about the wait on this letter, but good luck with the contest! And yes, it should be exciting.



A rare find!


Hey Matt.

Well the other day I saw Disgaea: Hour of Darkness in one of the game stores, and as it was the first time i'd ever seen it in PAL in any gamestore I bought it.

I've only played the tutorial levels so far though as both Pokemon and Uni studies are keeping me pretty occupied. On Pokemon, how are you going in it? I've found it annoying trying to trade pokemon on line, as everyone has been far too selfish in there requests.

So what are your thoughts on all of the Pokemon games that have been released on the DS thus far?

Anywho's back to working up/studying.

Bainick; now with extra cuddilyness

Matt

Wow! Congrats on your rare find! Disgaea is a wonderful, wonderfully different game, and I hope you have fun with it.

It's true; I tried doing an online trade at the GTS, and it was ridiculous; all anyone wants for anything, no matter how crappy, is a one-of-a-kind critter. Lame! I think that gradually, people will catch on that no, people are not going to trade their Geodudes for a DIALGA. Idiots.

Also, I have to be frank: The Pokémon games all look like they suck awfully, obviously with the sole exception of the main series Diamond/Pearl. I haven't actually played any of them outside the demo of Mystery Dungeon at E3 2006, but I played enough to know that I wasn't about to rush out and buy it myself.

Thanks, Bainick!!



QUICKIES

Can you play both fire & green leaf at the samae time? Can you battle each other?

Thanks

Matt
If you like multitasking that much, there is no law of nature that says you can't have one GBA in one hand and a second one in the other. I suppose that if you had both, then yes, you could battle... yourself. Um, anyway, yes. If two people are playing Fire Red or Leaf Green, they may battle each other through a Link Cable, assuming you aren't playing on DSes.

What do you think of Squarenix's announcement of The Last Remnant for the 360? Sounds mighty sexy, to me.

Matt
Mighty indeed; it looks neato. Score one more for the 360. Sony, you've got a lot of catching up to do!

Rumor:

Final Fantasy IV to be remade in the style of FFIII DS. Must have, meh, or "No moar FF remake plz" ?

Jeffrey

Matt
Not a rumour any more, from the sounds of it! And, can I vote for all three? Really, I feel the oddest combo of disgust, anticipation, and indifference towards this announcement. Ugh. I'm so sickened/excited/whatever at myself.

IN CLOSING

Well, this has been one heck of a Pokémon-flavoured column. I suppose that it's brand new and all, but for tomorrow, I want to hear from some of you who just refuse to play it. Why do you hate Pokémon? Why is Diamond/Pearl a game you'll never, ever play? I want to hear from you!

Otherwise, that's all! Write in with your best questions and comments, and you might just be featured in Q&A someday!



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On my Wishlist:

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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:

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2. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance



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