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ASK MATT
Decipher Away!
May 11, 2007

Matthew Demers - 21:02 EST

ONE CLASS DOWN, thirty-five to go. Yikes! The first day went really well, and now it's time for weekend fun and games... and planning for next week's lectures. What an odd, odd life. Remember last week how we talked about how fun it can be to play the role of the villain for a change? That's kind of how I felt at the front of the class. After twenty years of being the guy sitting in a seat and taking notes, being at the front of the room was pretty damn wacky, to be honest.

Any questions, class? I see you've dumped a few into my inbox, so let's tackle a couple right NOW.




LETTERS
Square Enix: So awful, yet so delightful.


I have never played Pokemon. I think I can understand the reason people do though and that is because it is fun to level up in RPGs. It is fun to do battle and I imagine it really would be one of those games that upon starting, I'd just become hooked and the "gotta catch 'em all" mentality would just sink in and consume me.

This past weekend I came oh so close to buying them both (Diamond and Pearl) that I actually walked around the store holding them for about 15 minutes. In that time I was just debating over and over again why it is that I have never played Pokemon before and if I would even like these games in the first place. Then, I put them both back on the shelf and left the store.

I came to the conclusion that while I would probably get hooked on them, I already have more than enough games to play and it would probably be wiser to save my money one more week until the release of Etrian Odyssey.

Matt

Oh, you have the in-store agony thing going too! It happens to me all the time; I have regular chats with the "you should" and "you shouldn't" shoulder angels just about every time I go to invest in a new game (or spend any money for fun in general, to be perfectly honest). Given that, perhaps it's a surprise that I'm not sitting in some institution with a big lawn somewhere. I dunno.

And yes, Etrian Odyssey looks like it's going to reek of old-school goodness, so if you're into that sort of thing, you should probably think about it!

As for the Final Fantasy IV re-re-remake/port, I'll probably end up buying it. I just finished playing it on my DS via GBA a couple of weeks ago, but those scans look really good. However, I can't help but feel like by my inevitably buying it yet again (I own all the previous versions), I am a part of the larger problem with SquareEnix. The following paragraphs are my response to hearing about Final Fantasy: Dissidia a couple days ago on another forum:

"I can't believe SE is making another FF game. Even though I am currently playing my third FF game in a row, I am sick of hearing about so many more FF games being made. Maybe this is because I don't feel the DQ series is getting enough attention. Where are all of the re-re-hashes of old DQ games I've been waiting for (including the ones that never made it over the ocean)? I swear, I wouldn't complain about them, just like I haven't complained about FF remakes either (I have bought them all as a matter of fact)."

"I guess what I am saying is that if they are going to make something new, make it an original game and not part of the FF series. They used to know how to do that! If they can't make anything that isn't FF, DQ or KH, then at least give me what I want... The DQ ports!" SquareEnix makes me feel like such a hypocrite.

- thinkfreemind

Matt

I feel exactly the same way. It's discouraging, because as much as I love Final Fantasy... and as much as I love Final Fantasy IV (and I really do love it), my excitement upon seeing those screens was quite overshadowed by an underlying feeling of irritation. The game, for crying out loud, has been released three different times already in North America, the last time being less than two years ago. Isn't it time to move on? If you need to do remakes, Square Enix, isn't it time to move onto other games, at least for awhile? Obviously for me, Dragon Quest-related announcements would send my excitement level into the stars. It's clear, though, where Square Enix's main focus lies.

Having said all that, though, how could I not invest in this game? The idea of seeing, say, the Tower of Bab-il in 3-D? Holy crap. So you're not the only hypocrite; I'm right there with you.



Summer Stuff, and *gasp* a letter about Dragon Quest II?!?


Hello, MattMatt!

I'm not worried about the missing letter, then. I'll just update it with newer stuff, but I'll probably still run it up to 1000 words and have to "To be continued" it. There's been a lot happening in my life lately.

Matt

Oh NO! *secretly drops word limit to 999* I'll be watching for it.

But for now, I'm going to pounce on one of the topics you've got on the sidebar. "Summer '07: What are you looking forward to?" I am looking forward to playing games I didn't get a chance to play when they were first released. This includes Kingdom Hearts II, Katamari Damacy, Yggdra Union (if I can find it), and the Arc the Lad Collection, which has mysteriously appeared in high quantities on eBay lately. I just need a disc buffing set for the second disc. So I'm wondering if there's a preferred brand among you RPGamers? Or maybe among the readers? Is Disc Doctor really the best or is it as overrated as every other disc buffing set seller would have you believe?

Matt

I couldn't tell you. I've never buffed a disc in my life, so I couldn't tell you anything about one brand either way.

It's sad, but it's true that you might have difficulty finding Yggdra Union by this point. GBAs are still selling all right in North America, somehow, but it seems that many video game stores have eliminated GBA sections from the wall, a bit sadly.

If you do find it, though, let me know how it goes. It's supposed to be the "spiritual successor" to Riviera: The Promised Land, and that was one of the neatest games I've played in the last little while.

I recently surprised myself at how much I can get into a game recently. Do you think that most of the cities in the kingdom of Alefgard were destroyed by monsters between the first and second Dragon Warrior games? And was this the reason that Brecconary became part of Tantegel castle? For protection against the monsters?

I admit, I'm not at the end of the game, so if they address such an issue in the game, I don't know about it yet. I can tell you that I don't like the princess's father. When she was a dog, his father called her a "common mutt"! He should take pride in his daughter, no matter what form she is! And I bet she was a beautiful dog. ;)

Matt

Ahahaha. What a cute little puppy... I remember the first time I played the game. I always found it a trifle suspicious that the dog would decide to follow you after talking to it. Of course, it was supposed to be the princess "wanting to join your party." So cute!

Yeah, there aren't many things that are resolved, but one could safely assume that yes, massive parts of Alefgard were destroyed. Alternatively, you could assume that the designers were just too lazy to make another three or four towns, which is likelier. (They could use the first as an excuse for the second.)

Anyway, I've gotta get back to Alefgard. Hargon doesn't sleep, you know. Take care, Matt, and tempt not the fates.
-CW

Matt

Bash a Hibabango for me, CW! And thanks for the letter!



Worlds and worldliness


Hi Matt. Nice having you back.

I've been playing mostly FFXII lately. At some point I should get back to the dozen games I haven't finished...

Matt

Aye, this seems like a common complaint these days. Sorry I can't help you out there.

It's pretty fun, and pretty too. I don't think the setting is that great, though. I have nothing against politics-oriented games - FFT is one of my favorite games. However, I don't think it works so well in this game. Maybe it's just that it isn't as deep as FFT. A good example of an excellent setting, for me, was FFX. The entire world was built coherently with the storyline - oppression by religion and the fear of death. Practically every place had a piece of history which made sense in the overall scheme of things.

On the other hand, in FFXII, the world seems mashed together. It's as if the designers said "We need a long dungeon, I know! Let's put an ocean of sand!". It's not that I'm not enjoying the game, just it isn't very story intensive and it doesn't work as well as FFX.

What do you think?

Zohar Gilboa

Matt

The world of Final Fantasy XII does feel a bit less coherent in a certain sense. Or cohesive- maybe that's a better word. It often seemed like places or regions existed only as things to walk through. Certain areas, like the Mosphoran/Salikawood/Tchita/Cerobi marathon, are absolutely ridiculous. There's -very- little to do in most of these places except wander through fighting things. There was a bit of back-history that you could dig up if you killed like 17 of each monster in each region, but ugh. It seemed so blatant that they existed ONLY to give the player something else to wander through whacking things.

On the other hand, though, I think that geographically, Final Fantasy XII is slightly more realistic. Well, except for that super-fast transition from desert to mountainous hills. And that super-fast transition from jungle to winter wonderland. Oh, and the Giza Plains, which seem to have "seasons" that are about one hour in duration (that was a little bothersomely unrealistic for me). But, it was even more irritating to me that nearly ALL significant places in Spira were arranged in a beautiful straight line. *shrug*

But in terms of the way that the world looks, feels, and fits with the story, I'd agree that FFX has the edge. Interesting subject, Zohar.



Begin a New Life?


Hey Matt,

It's been a while since Pokemon Gold/Silver and it's nice to get back into the series; they have made some cool additions and changes in Diamond, like the Sinnoh Underground. I'm still sharking in the legendaries though; a nine-hour car trip to get Mew is ridiculous and it would be difficult to get the ones from my old Red and Silver editions. How long have you played the Pokemon series, Matt? Are you going to catch them all in Diamond?

Matt

I've played every one of them! I really don't have the patience to go and try to catch every last legendary pokémon, though, especially considering what you have to go through to get some of them. Apparently, some people are trading them for massive demands over the Global Trade System, though, so you might be able to go that route; it's just that the massive demands might be, well, too massive for your liking. Darn the GTS.

As for wanting more American RPGs: Secret of Evermore, Square's first American-made RPG, was a pretty good game but was panned critically when it came out. I've played the game and seen others like it get better reviews; I never figured out why it failed. Self-xenophobia from American gamers, maybe? Whenever I think of how far American RPG developers have come (e.g. Oblivion), I can't help but think of games like Secret of Evermore that should have succeeded. What failed RPG or series do you wish had succeeded?

Matt

The reason that it was panned is that people compared it to Secret of Mana. (Many people called it the 'sequel' which it very clearly is not!) Unfortunately, it seemed that many people overlooked the original alchemy system, solid gameplay, great graphics, and really quite awesome background sound/music. Instead, they concentrated on the lame storyline, the weak dialogue, and its shortcomings. I personally found it an enjoyable game, and it's one of my brother's favourite games for the SNES.

What game do I WISH would have succeeded? I really want to say Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. Reviews for it were mixed, and some of them were unfair, I thought, possibly constructed by reviewers-on-a-schedule without the patience to play through the game more than once. I don't really know how well it sold here, but it couldn't have done that well; I don't know anybody else who owns it around here, and Capcom hasn't released (or announced) a BoF game since. It's criminal, considering that it's far and away the best of the series, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm adapting this from a Gamefaqs poll because I want your take on it: if you could see one thing in real life from an RPG series (e.g. magic, chocobos, etc.), what would it be?

Enquiringly,
- Waterfiend33

Matt

I voted in that poll, and I said Magic. My REAL answer, though, is Save Points. There are so many things I'd love to do, just to see what would happen. But, I wouldn't dare unless I could save the game (save my life?) first and had the chance to return if necessary. Could you just imagine?? Now that... that would be awesome.



I'm huuuungry. :(


Hi Matt,

Nice SOCK2. Let me know if you need any help administrating it (I would even drop out to help you!).

Matt

Thanks for the offer! So far I'm doing okay; hopefully that doesn't change over the weeks to come (though it might). Running a contest is... a lot of work.

I finally finished Heroes of Might and Magic V, its expansion pack and Super Paper Mario. I was disappointed in the latter, but won't go into the details. Heroes was really good, and it felt fresh even after playing the series for years. Now I have to wait for the final expansion that comes out in the summer.

Matt

Never played the first, but Super Paper Mario I'm enjoying so far... except for the problem that the game is sadly, incredibly easy. Since The Thousand-Year Door had a decent challenge-factor, I thought that SPM would continue in that vein. That definitely hasn't been the case so far, though.

I both love and hate expansion packs. They allow for the player to witness more of the same goodness from the original, while supplying the player with an increased challenge (because it is assumed you beat the original first). On the flip side, they can frustrate players, and may ruin the original story by just taking it too far, or in a random direction). I have fond memories of the Baldur's Gate series the first one had a "bad" expansion, the second had an awesome one. I wish more games would have expansions, as they give more gaming goodness in a style you know you like, for half the price. And even let you carry on with the same party. What are your thoughts on expansions, and if some were available for say... Dragon Quest 8, would you play them?

Matt

I'm really big on "leaving well-enough alone" and I feel the same way about expansion packs as I do about direct sequels, spinoffs, and the like. Most of the time, I'd just rather play something new. It only took Advent Children to kind of wreck the magic of the ending of the original game; I'd rather not have that happen with others. Of course, I'd still consider getting an expansion for something like DQ8 anyway, just because I enjoy the gameplay over the story in the first place, and really, for me, more = good.

I am currently actively playing four games:

1 Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2. Picked it up and was able to resume without a hitch last night.

2 Valhalla Knights: Finally got a hang of the system, should be ok now.

3 Final Fantasy XI (AGAIN): Playing with my brother.

4 Vanguard: Playing with my friends.

The others I listed last time are on the back burner.

Matt

Yuck! That's a lot on the go at once, including not one, but two MMOs!?

I totally kid myself when I say I'm going to play more than a couple of games at once. I can say that I want to play Zelda AND Super Paper Mario concurrently, for example, but we all know that I'm going to finish SPM before I get back to the other. It's just the way it is. Good luck on that balancing act, anyway.

I only played Pokemon in Japanese with a Japanese girl on emulator before it came out here and became popular. You know... when it was cool and not for kids? Do I despise the games? No. I just don't like that style of game. I tend to not play them, even if they manage to sneak into my collection.

Matt

Eh, to each their own. Your form of gaming addiction comes from MMOs, and I can't say that mine is, after all.

As for summer releases... I am looking at purchasing Etrian Odyssey, Persona 3, Odin Sphere, Dungeons and Dragons Tactics, and Dawn of Mana, as well as the few missing games for the PSP (Jewel Summoner, Gurumin, Legend of Heroes 1, etc that I still seem to be missing from my PSP game collection).

And... Persona 1 and 2? Is anyone interested in trading me one of these two games (with manual, covers, and disks) for something I might have? I would offer up Super Paper Mario, Excite Truck, Resident Evil 4, Baten Kaitos, etc for them. I have others too, but not too sure what I would want to remove from my personal stash... Let Matt know! ^_^

Matt

Ack! This is not RPGamer's official trading post! Though actually, I did try to do something like that once long ago with that one dude who had all the old games to give away, didn't I? What was I thinking??

Oh, for both of them I might even be persuaded to purchase a new game to trade for them.... I love having a full time job!

Matt

It's true... nothing quite beats having a steady and healthy income, especially if you're a gamer (ESPECIALLY one with eyes for, you know, the more expensive systems out there).

I am in a SMT mood right now, what else can I say?

Does anyone remember the old Might and Magic games? Not Heroes, or the new Dark Messiah, but rather the old main series. Man do I ever miss those. Are there any recent games in this style that I should take a look at? Or all new games made in Diablo or Oblivion style? I guess I am hoping that Etrian Odyssey fulfills this need.

Matt

Truly, I only really know about them by name. I know little about the games themselves (and I call myself an old-school gamer). Thus, I don't really know what modern games would be much like them. Looking at Wikipedia, it seems like the original games were almost based on Dungeons & Dragons more than anything. There are some Dungeons & Dragonsy-styled games out there these days... but I have to admit that I really don't remember any titles off-hand, since they're usually PC titles, and as always, I don't pay much attention to PC releases, even of most RPGs. (I know! It's a weakness, but it's true.)

I don't think that Etrian Odyssey will fit that bill exactly. It looks more, to me, like a Dragon Quest-like dungeon-crawler. Think Dark Cloud, except with traditional, turn-based battles. At least, that's my impression.

Matt, with the teaching gig coming up, will you have a chance to play any games? How is your personal gaming backlog coming along now? I told myself no new consoles until I polish off my current backlog and have a need for them (as if I will ever follow through though). Well it is working so far... And with no classes this semester, it may just come true faster than I think!

And of course... I can always just sell my backlog to quicken the process. That idea *has* crossed my mind already. Or I could donate it to Matt...

Matt

Ha ha, you're always welcome! My personal backlog doesn't need any help, but I might find a use for a game here and there...

I really don't know how much time I'm going to have for gaming over the summer. I'm going to be busy, but it'll be a different kind of busy than I experienced over the dreadful winter semester of death. It'll become clearer as the first couple of weeks go by, I think.

You asked me a strange and exciting question the other day to which I had no immediate answer. You asked me why don't more RPGs feature goats. I finally have an answer after many hours of reflection because goats are stupid and no one would play a game starring them.

Matt

My old highschool friend Chris would kill you for saying that! Goats are what make the world turn 'round! Goats make... goat cheese. Actually, I hate goat cheese.

Actually, DO any RPGs have goats in them at all? I posed the topic as a joke, but now that I think about it, I really can't come up with any off the top of my head.

With that, I am signing off for the week. Enjoy your first class tomorrow, Mr. Professor!

~Sean~~

Matt

Thanks, Sean! It went fantastically. You're welcome to sit in, if you want to make the trek down to Guelph. I can't promise that it'll be riveting or exciting or anything, so bring your DS or PSP along.



QUICKIES

Have you seen the Noruma drawing of Zidane for recently announced Dissidia? SE is finally giving FFIX the love it deserves! I don't think he's ever looked so good.

-Lady Bahamut

Matt
I haven't yet, but he sure needed a redesign. He looked a bit like a garden gnome in the original game, didn't he?

IN CLOSING

...And so ends another week! Thanks for reading, as always. Don't quit writing, though; Castomel has to have something to respond to for his weekend columns. Come back and visit then! One way or another, I shall return next Tuesday with another episode of "Ask Matt." Hopefully I'll get to do some gaming between now and then, too.

Bye, all!



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 6 - yeee



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt controlled himself in his first lecture today.


BUT, if I had had that SAVE point, man, I could have tried talking about Pokémon after all. When is someone going to invent one?

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On my Wishlist:

1. Dragon Quest IX

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. Wouldn't it be wicked if we had save points in real life?

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

3. Do you DESPISE Pokémon? Tell me why!

4. What things should be a part of every RPG review?

5. We need more goats in RPGs, don't you think?



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