The Sun casts Kasizzle!
August 1, 2006
Matt Demers - 19:34 EST
IT IS HOT. Really, really hot. I'm here, back in Guelph for two days before I leave on my excursion to Montreal, and I'm living through some of the hottest weather I can remember. The forecast high for today is 37 degrees, but with Gulf of Mexico-induced humidity worked into the equation, the humidex (or apparent temperature) is as high as 50, which is 122 Fahrenheit. If you're familiar with hot air but unfamiliar with what hot air feels like in the midwest, Great Lakes, or Southeastern US, you really have no idea what me (and about 150 million others) are suffering through right now. 40 degrees is much easier to take when you're actually able to do human things like sweat and breathe.
That said, I'm quite enjoying it. I've got a big glass of ice water right in front of me as I type away, and my shiny new fan about one foot to my right, blowing its little heart out. I'm comfy! And since I'm comfy, I'm all set to begin Week 45 of Ask Matt.
I hear rumors that E3 will be no more. Lucky you got
to attend one before it ended.
Really? You made my heart skip a beat when I first read your letter, and I went to check out the news in more depth online.
My conclusions: There's definitely something in the air, though I'd still call it a rumour, officially. There have been murmurs over the past few days that the show is so costly for video game companies that it really isn't worth putting on. Thus, E3 will be drastically cut back next year if it isn't cancelled outright! Or so the rumour goes. The rumour also says that there will be more information to come very shortly, so we'll have to watch closely over the coming days. The rumour is true, though, according to an article I just found at CNN's website, and since CNN is the prime authority of news, twenty-four/seven... well, you do the math.
If this is true, I'm really, really lucky to have had the opportunity to go. It was quite incredible, and in a sense, it would be a shame for it to be no more. That being said, I can understand why they would need it to be toned down. If a company spends one million dollars on a booth -and believe me, some of them spend much more than that- they'd have to sell enough games to make a million dollars in profit in order to "break even", in a way. If a company makes $10 on a game (I have no idea if that's an accurate estimate), they would have to sell an additional 100,000 copies of a game, which may or may not happen. E3, in effect, is a wrestling match. The biggest, baddest companies who blow the most money can put on the flashiest displays and consequently snag the greatest market share. What about the important things? Perhaps if it is toned down a little, the emphasis will shift back to the quality of the games themselves, never mind booth babes and crazy light shows. Additionally, the companies themselves won't have to take a nearly obligatory financial hit just to promote their wares.
I love the new look. The rules page with all the item
descriptions and status colors looks great and is easy
Good! It's a little bit of a change, but nothing major; I mostly wanted to clean up the last section of the column, which was becoming quite unruly. After receiving a few complaints about the lack of a SOCK banner, though, I'm putting one back in as of today, so ye can all breathe a good old-fashioned sigh of relief.
Oh, I was going to say that the background music in Steambot Chronicles
is good-- it's the band instrument music and song lyrics that are
pretty average, and it's a bit unfortunate because they factor so
heavily on the plot. That doesn't stop me from playing the harmonica
or guitar on every street corner in the game, though. Oh, I agree that
RPG music is really good nowadays, but I also like chiptunes, so my
taste is suspect.
Heh heh, well, that's too bad, though at least the entire soundtrack isn't a write-off.
I'm having a blah time with the music in Lunar right now. Yes, I played more of it on the weekend, if you can imagine that! While the game is all right so far, the music is really quite hit or miss. I understand that some of it is entirely different than the Sega CD version's, oddly. The battle music is so... non battle-y and lacks a good, exciting, forward speed. Hum.
And never you worry, Megan. It's all a matter of taste! I've been known to go for hours listening to .nsf files myself...
Long time reader, first time writing a letter. Just wanted to tell you you're doing a great job, and keep up the good work.
Thanks very much! I feel like sometimes I don't have quite as much time to invest in writing this every day as I'd like to have. I do my best, though, and I'm glad you're enjoying it!
Also, the second question in Sock, about renting Dragon Warrior III repeatedly, brought back some sweet memories of renting games from blockbuster. In my case, it was Shining Force 2. I bought Shining Force 1 and loved it, and seeing it at the local blockbuster, I just had to rent it. And rent it the following weekend. And renting it a few other weekends after that. I honestly don't know why I didn't just buy it, but hey, these are not things you think of when you're in elementary school. That game was even better than Shining Force, though Shining Force was the first TRPG I ever played, leading me onto a path of tactical rpg addiction which I am still trying to fight off.
Ah. The answer is simple for me: I didn't have the money to! The disparity between renting and buying games has dropped sharply over the past ten to fifteen years. When I was a wee gaffer, it used to cost me $2.29 to rent games from the video store in town. Dragon Warrior III, on the other hand, sold for $89.99 at the Toys 'R' Us in London, which is thirty-nine times more. Today, games sell for $40 or $50 instead, while it costs $7.99 to rent one from Blockbuster here. Thus, if you rent a game five times, you may as well have bought it in the first place! Times have really changed.
In fact, writing this letter makes me think back to the unique, obscure rpgs the genesis had during its lifetime, like Shadowrun, Landstalker, and Warriors of the Eternal Sun, to name some. I remember staying up way too late fininshing these games, then turning right back around and replaying them again, with none of that fancy-shmancy New Game+ option. Hopefully, some other people recall as fondly the Genesis RPG heydays.
Anywho, here's my first guesses for Sock, if you don't mind adding me to the shenanigans:
The Genesis really did have a bunch of completely original games that many kids brought up on Nintendo (like yours truly) are completely unfamiliar with. I'm really looking forward to the Wii's Virtual Console, because it is bound to feature a number of Genesis titles. It's definitely within the realm of possibility that some of these old games might be included, and if so, a whole new generation of gamers will have the opportunity to play them. People like yourself will be able to dive back in and fondly play the oldies once again. It will surely be fun for all! Ahaha!
Also, it's great to have you as part of the great SOCK! Keep it up for a few days, and you'll likely break through onto the scoreboard, where the REAL fun happens. Watch out for stray Thundaga spells (mwahahahaha)!! And best of luck to you- you could win something really great one day!
One for Arros Raik..mmmm, random Daiiiiiry Queen craving!
Hi there Matt,
To whoever wrote in about Tales of Phantasia not being
mentioned much, I've mentioned it once or twice in
your collumn specifically when you asked about puzzles
where the answer should be obvious and it wasn't and
whenever I asked you about your thoughts on
steroid-items, and I mentioned it Monday when I
co-hosted with Ouro in my intro, I even tried to get a
SOCK question about the bloody game passed, what am I
chopped liver come on people acknowledge the Arros,
just don't taste the Arros that's just creepy and
probably illegal o.o
Oh, come on. I'm sure someone has tasted you before. Besides, when I was a little baby, my mummy gave me Arrosroot cookies all the time! G'FAH!
Anyway, I do my best to include everyone's submitted SOCK questions, but I can't include them all! All I can say is to keep on trying, and you'll probably get through eventually. Just do your best to be creative and come up with something difficult-to-research.
Anyway as to why it doesn't come up very often and
then I'll write my thoughts on it
Reason 1: It was originally an SNES game, so a good
deal of people who have wanted to play it already have
through illegal means
Really? Perhaps some, but I don't think the number would be that huge. Illegal emulation is a big thing, but it's nowhere near as big of a thing as "real" gaming.
Reason 2: It is a game in a relatively unknown series,
most people look at the title and probably assume it
has something to do with some old Disney movie and
walk on, because unlike Final Fantasy the Tales of
series doesn't have the same name recognition, most
people bought FF1+2:DoS because they liked FF7, 8, 9,
or 10 and wanted more games like that, where as a good
chunk of people probably haven't heard of Tales of
Symphonia or if they had they wouldn't expect a game
called Tales of Phantasia to be the predesscor to it,
for that would be like assuming any game with The
Legend of in the title was a sequel to The Legend of
Well, this reason holds a little bit more water. RPG enthusiasts are quite familiar with the "Tales" name, but the average gamer is definitely not. Tales of Symphonia probably broke the most ground because it was one of the few RPGs released for the Gamecube, and thus received perhaps a bit more publicity from magazines and websites than it might have otherwise. By no means, though, is it an "obscure" series. There are many games out there that even hardcore RPGamers might not recognize...
Reason 3: It's for the GBA, which is for all intents
and purposes mostly dead, the DS is king and it's
older brother is dying, people don't buy games for old
nearly dead systems
Aha! That is not true, but something CLOSE to it is true.
I think that what you say is incorrect; if games were continually developed for older systems, I think that they would sell. There were NES games developed for a few years after the SNES came out, and many of them sold fairly well indeed. The problem here is slightly different. The problem has to do with developers.
For the last couple of generations, developers have almost immediately stopped creating games for consoles as soon as their successors are released. And not only that: The media tends not to cover the games that ARE released for older systems just because the ones released for newer systems are flashier, prettier, and altogether "cooler". If adequate attention were paid to new games for old consoles, I'd bet they'd sell just as well as ever, because no matter how you want to slice it, there are still a huge number of people out there with Game Boy Advances; far more than there are people with DSes and PSPs put together.
So I believe that while your statement "People don't buy games for nearly dead systems" is correct, it's not the people that choose for that to happen. It's chosen for them.
I think that should sum up why no one seems to talk
about it, now for my thoughts on it, this is a mini
review and rant so consider yourself warned
The floor is yours, Arros.
*Minor Tales of Phantasia Spoilers watch out!!!*
The Story: Honestly the story is really dull and
typical, evil douchebag does evil things far more
eviller guy arises kills evil douchebag, the heroes
discover they are tied to the superduper evil guy by
fate and go off to learn what harms him so they can
defeat him and end his not so nefarious plot, and this
involves magic, going arround making pacts, healing a
tree and time travel, it's not a bad story but
compared to a FF's story it's quite bland and cliche
*Minor Tales of Phantasia Spoilers are over!!!*
The Gameplay: The gameplay is quite nice at first but
much like all action gameplay it wears on you after
some time, also the high encounter rates in some areas
will drive you crazy, there are also some interesting
puzzles sprinkled throughout the game though some of
them are rather difficult to figure out
Music, Voices and Sound: The background music is
pretty catchy in most of the areas, I particularly
like the boss battle theme, the voice acting is pretty
good though some of the character's voices are
inaudible at times(Mint's...), and I had no complaints
with the sound effects in the game
Graphics: The game features sprites, which are pretty
well done and come with a good range of facial
Now for the stuff about the game I had complaints
The fact that everytime a spell is casted the action
stops, this should never ever ever be the case with an
action-based game, it is very easy to lose your
rhythm(sp?) while wailing on an enemy and be defeated
The fact your stats only grow one or two points per
The fact that certain enemies take a long time to kill
and encounters are usually highest in areas that
feature those kinds of enemies
The AI could use some work, Mint's in particular, even
set on Heal with only her best healing spell active
for use she still didn't heal the group when they were
near death, and she also refuses to revive and purify
unless commanded to
The fact you can't make a temporary save, or save
anywhere you want, some of the areas are fairly large
and I usually play my portable game before or after
work, so that's just a complaint of mine
The fact the game doesn't give you any reminders of
were to go next at times, I've wandered arround the
first three or four towns for hours before I finally
realized where I needed to go to hunt -.-;;
The fact the game doesn't bother to point out some
puzzles' solutions to you, how in the bloody hell was
anyone supposed to know to leave Arche on that switch
The fact that most of the game you are confined to
just four party members irked me, I like to be able to
have some variety in my party at times, trying
different teams etc, but no by the time you get Suzu
and Chester they are pretty much obsolete -.-;;, other
games have only had 4 party members period but managed
to keep things interesting by giving you control over
how they developed etc, but in here everyone has a
certain thing they are good at which isn't really that
bad but I guess I'm spoiled by customizing party
members and switching them out for different members
etc etc as the need arises over the course of the
Thanks for your overview! You know, you or anyone else can always make a review an official part of RPGamer by writing into Points of View. Roku is always accepting new submissions, so you might want to summarize your feelings for him!
It's not that it is a bad game just it is dated and
most people have already played the rom of the SNES
Definitely not "most". Many, perhaps. Mmmm, vague adjectives rock. I didn't even realize there was an English version out there.
Anyway I thought I'd share that I really really really
hope you post this letter Matt
*Is still inside the Tower of Flames -.-;;*
And here it is, Arros, just for you. Thanks for writing in, and best of luck dousing the flames of the Tower!
Any RPG Packrats around here?
272: B) Silver
273: E) Tantegel
I have an actual question this time! One behavior that I've recently noticed in myself is compulsively stockpiling consumable items rather than using them in whatever game I happen to be playing. For some reason, I tend to only actually use items in the most dire situations or to get rid of status effects that I don't have the proper spell for. Instead, I'll go to great lengths to use renewable resources like magic as much as possible, even when I have a drastic surplus of items and using one would likely make a battle easier. I'll think about using them, but almost always decide that I might REALLY need them later, so I get by without.
A chronic disorder of RPGamers worldwide, I tell you! I have it too, bigtime. Tell me more!
For example, I am now almost to the end of SMT: Nocturne (great game, by the way, and I'll add my voice to those recommending you try the series). I don't think I've used more than 5 hp/mp-restoring items in the whole game, and have never used an attack item, even though I have about hundreds of each sitting in my inventory. Instead, I built my main character to keep the party healed and drain mana from enemies every chance he got.
This is so familiar. There are so many RPGs out there that have disposable attack items that might be perfectly useful, except that players just never think to use them. I most recently experienced this with Wild Arms: Alter Code F, where there are all sorts of elemental crystals that are dropped, allowing non-magical characters to perform magical attacks anyway. The big problem here was that I did think to use them eventually, and when I finally did, I found out that they were essentially useLESS anyway, since the damage done was based on the magic power of the character using the item. Of course, the non-magic users have a pitiful magic stat. Thus... yeah, why would you ever waste the button pushes to go out of your way and use one of those crystals? They're better used as selling fodder at the local Item Shop.
Similarly, in FFTA, I'm almost to the end and have never used a law card (or an item for that matter). Even when the current laws are disfavorable to me, I end up thinking "I can get by without using a card if I'm creative enough with my tactics, and the card might come in handy later." My inventory is completely full, and I have to throw away cards after every battle, but I still don't use them (admittedly in this game part of my motivation is to increase the otherwise almost-nonexistent challenge).
Me too, totally. It was fun to try and deal with the unfavorable laws, I thought, for exactly the reasons you mention. The only laws that I thought were STUPID were the "Dmg2:Whatever" ones, because how, pray tell, are you supposed to deal with those if killing them is the only way to win? Urgh. Of course, I never had the anti-law cards corresponding to those ones on hand, either, it seemed.
Anyway, my question is, is this a common behavior? Do you tend to hold on to items even when it doesn't really make sense to do so? I intellectually recognize that this isn't the optimal way to get through a game - the items were created to be used, and I'd be more effective if I did use them - but I can't bring myself to use them unless absolutely necessary. What are your thoughts on compulsive hoarding of consumables?
I'll tell you; every single time I play a Final Fantasy game, I get to the final boss and realize that I have 23 Elixirs, 6 Megalixirs, 27 Turbo Ethers, and 10 X-Potions on-hand. Like you, I'm always very hesitant to use these items for the sole reason that they aren't easy to obtain, generally. Of course, it does make the game more difficult to go without using them, but it's not something I really think about at the time; I think that I've automatically been programmed to find alternative ways of doing things and conserve magic rather than requiring MP-restoring items, because of my Dragon Warrior upbringing.
The answer is almost surely "NO! You're not alone!" because you know that you hoard your items and I know that I hoard my items and I'm sure there are many others who do too. The way to combat this? Well, I dunno. Use them, I guess.
Interesting question, Boojum! Thanks for writing into Q&A!
So, as I mentioned above, I did manage to get in some more Lunar time this weekend, though I did not spend any time on Fire Emblem. I'm itching to, but Nall and Alex and friends just keep me coming back for more! It's funny... the storyline is a blur between being focused and being composed of random sidequests, so I don't really know what to make of it. The battle system is quite challenging, bordering on downright hard. They tend to sic large parties of enemies on you in every single battle, and it seems that every single monster has a rather overly strong attack power. It isn't quite too much for me, though, and besides, a difficult experience is so much better than a watered-down walk in the park, as far as I'm concerned. The game on the whole is oddly addictive, probably due to the humourously silly translation, thanks to Working Designs' crew.
Again, let me remind you of Sean's list of games that are up for sale! Sean has generously donated prizes to the SOCK and THONG competitions, and he has several other games spanning many consoles up for sale. If you're looking for something that's hard to find, Sean might be your guy, so get in touch with him by firing an e-mail off to him at BuddyWingnut@yahoo.com. He'll tell you more.
For complete contest rules, click here!
Answers to July 27th's Questions
#272. b) Silver - 400 points/800 for Megan
The vast majority of you managed to come up with this correct answer. Incidentally, this is, I believe, the first time that an Ys game has been featured in SOCK, too...
#273. e) Tantegel - 450 points
This was definitely NOT a "read-Matt's-mind" question, silly ducklings. If you read Q&A regularly, you know that I got to almost the very end of the game before it stopped working properly. Tantegel is the last location you visit out of the five options I gave you, so it was the natural choice. In fact, almost everyone got this right, so pat yourselves on the back and tattoo gold stars on your foreheads or something.
In a certain Final Fantasy Web Comic, which of these characters have not yet been
given a 2nd Class?
c) Black Mage
d) White Mage
e) Red Mage
What does Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth, sing most often? (470 points)
a) La, dee-dee!
b) La, la, la!
c) Dee, dee, doo!
d) Tra, la-la!
e) La, dee-dah!
Before anyone asks me if I forgot to add their points on, today, I want everyone to carefully look at the scoreboard. DMJewelle is now in DARK Status, causing great damage to everybody else in the Top 35. Those of you with Armor are slowly having them whittled away, and anyone with a Damage Deflector can choose to use them simply by telling me.
Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!
2,000 points: Mythril Sword (1 left) or Point Doubler (2 left)
3,500 points: Sneak Glove (2 left) or Rename Card (1 left)
5,000 points: Venom Spell (2 left) or Thundara Spell (1 left)
7,000 points: Blizzaga Spell (2 left) or Damage Deflector (2 left)
10,000 points: Merton Spell (2 left) or Hyper Beam (2 left)
14,000 points: Point Tripler (1 left) or Killer Sword (2 left)
19,000 points: Economizer (1 left) or Gold Armor (2 left)
25,000 points: Demiga Spell (1 left) or Nightmare Staff (2 left)
32,000 points: Point Quadrupler (2 left) or Hastega Spell (2 left)
(people who I love, but who still need to check their e-mail or somehow get in touch with me because they have unclaimed items- if you fall off the list after a week, it's TOO LATE FOR YOU! Check your spam/trash folders for my messages if you're not getting them, and I'll check mine, too!)
Obtain enough points, and you may buy merchandise or guest-hosting positions.
Click here for the current list of potential prizes!
That is all for today. A reminder: Tomorrow is my last day this week, as I'm off to Montreal! I'll return for a full week of columns next Tuesday. With that, I bid you all a fond farewell!
***Matt is feeling oppressed.
July 31: Josh
July 29: Josh
July 28: Matt
July 27: Matt
About the Host
What am I playing?
1. Lunar: SSSC
2. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
3. Radiata Stories
What do I want to play?
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Xenosaga: Episode III
3. Disgaea II
SOCK's Top 35:
4. Alan Tse
13. TV's Adam
18. Arros Raikou