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ASK MACSTORM & MATT
Jammin' Pencil Sharpeners August 10, 2006

Michael Cunningham - 16:45 EST

IT SEEMS LIKE it was just a week ago that I was doing this.

Hmmm.

Since then I've picked up Shadow of the Colossus, almost finished Phantom by Terry Goodkind, and pre-ordered Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. I need to go put some money down on FFV Advance as well, maybe tomorrow. I really hope they add some interesting things to FFVA. I think I'm going to have the same gaming overload as everyone else this fall. I'm looking forward to Xenosaga Epi. III, 2 Zelda games, 3 or more FF games, a couple of DQ games, plus all of the exciting non-RPGs as well such as Mario Hoops and Loco Roco. It's just too bad that games > my wallet.

Ok, just a few more random thoughts: I <3 ice cream, I <3 [GM]Dave, I <3 my new kitty, and I <3 all these letters. Time to answer them.




LETTERS
When it rains, it pours...dragons.


Hey there, Matt (and possibly Macstorm?)

Mac

Yep, it's me.

Have you ever had something like this happen? You sit down to play a game and as soon as you get into it, it begins to thunderstorm outside?

Mac

No, but it would be cool if it did. I love storms.

This doesn't seem out of the ordinary, does it? Well, what if it's always the same series of games? I swear, I could always summon a thunderstorm whenever I began to play a Breath of Fire game. (Although that makes little sense, as it wasn't titled Breath of Thunder, was it?) Any other game was fine. Any time there was a thunderstorm in the forecast, but I didn't play a BoF game, there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. But they would inevitably formulate when I sat down with my game controller to play some BoF...

Mac

It does seem a little odd. Just be glad that it doesn't hold true to its name and your home catches on fire each time to start to play one.

Alas, this no longer happens. For one thing, I ran out of BoF games (and for another, I don't have a PS2, so no Dragon Quarter for me, yet). But for a while there, BoF games = spectacular natural light show.

Mac

Awww, I was about to say that you could come down to my place and play some BoF games. We've not had consistent rain for sometime.

Although I did acquire the game because I saw it for cheap in a local store, and knew I would never be able to find it for such a low price, even though eBay, ever again, even if I came back to that very same display the next day. (Have you ever done that, too? Buy a game you don't have the system for, simply because it was very cheap and you wanted to play it eventually?)

-CW


Mac

Yes, I have. I had let a friend borrow my Dreamcast, which turned into him breaking it, so I was without for a little while. In that time I found Power Stone for really cheap and picked it up. Of course, I turned around and bought another Dreamcast shortly after that. If I have a game, I want to play it.

Thanks for addressing me in this letter. It makes me feel loved.



Where do you think a Keyblade is kept, anyway? Of course: A KEYCHAIN OF MEMORIES! Ahahahahah!


Hey, Matt!

I read yesterday's column, and for once, I actually skipped part of it. (I'm looking at you JuMeSyn). Today, I got bored and went back to read the whole thing. And what did I find? One flipping-big letter. Oh, wait. I found that already. I found a request for a reason to go back and play Chain of Memories. First, I have to say that I am a big fan of Kingdom Hearts. When i found out that a "mid-quel" was being released for GBA, I was mildly irritated, but I went and played it anyway... and didn't get very far before giving up. Then the release date for Kingdom Hearts 2 started to get closer, so I tried again. I found myself enjoying it and actually beat it. Then, to me surprise, I unlocked an option to play as Riku! Sora's story was actually kind of blah. If you played KH1, then you really know all of the plot at that point and I am not a huge fan of "design a weapon deck that you must change for every battle". But Riku's!! First off, the storyline was new. Not stellar, but new. More importantly, the gameplay changed. You had a specific deck for each floor of the castle, prearranged for you. Rather than trying to figure out what you would need for any given enemy, it became a puzzle to solve to see what the best way of using that particular deck was. It was kind of sad that I had to beat the game once to get to the part that I enjoyed the most, but I did enjoy it. I vote that JuMeSyn give it another chance!

Draconn


Matt

Draconn, that's not a bad idea!

We've chatted about how there are so many games out there that can seem positively nasty at first glance. After picking them up after awhile and giving them a second chance, though, things can seem a lot different. It's happened to me with a score of games before, and I'm sure that that's true for many others.

Though I never played it myself, I think that I can safely say that Chain of Memories got its bad rap mostly because fans of the original went into the game expecting very similar gameplay to Kingdom Hearts. When it wasn't what they thought, the reaction was largely negative. Those that did manage to make it all the way through before giving up, however, were rewarded to an interesting game with a unique story.

I'm glad that you were able to enjoy it so much in the end! Perhaps your experience will allow many others to follow in your footsteps. Thanks for writing in!



A multitude of interestingnesses with a splash of randomness


In response to JuMeSyn, I'd like to point out that Link, hero of The Legend of Zelda (as if we all didn't know), has traditionally been portrayed as left-handed. Whether that counts as an RPG or not, is up to you. And as for Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories--I personally quite enjoyed the battle system, and the story itself was quite nice. It puts personalities and memories (lol pun) to the extra Organization members that just kinda pop up in the Journal in Kingdom Hearts II, as well as explaining just why Sora and friends were asleep for as long as they were (as seen in the KH2 intro). That was a good enough reason for me (though I'll admit to buying it based solely on my love of the first KH, as II wasn't out yet when I got it).

Oh, and of course there's the second story, where you see another major series player kick copius amounts of ass.

Of course, I now see that JuMeSyn has no Playstation2, and thus the entire point of the game will be lost on him. So never mind; until he's played the console installments, CoM will be useless. <_<

Matt

Good point. Even so, though, that's a double recommendation, now, JuMeSyn! How can you refuse at this point?

Instead, I'll just have to recommend Emerald for a first Poke excursion, as that's the one I chose to dive into after being absent from the series since the originals. I'm in love all over again, hunting critters and forcing them to fight other, less powerful (when I can manage it) critters. I've even gotten attached to a rare few, specifically my starter and an Abra I raised to Kadabra (with every intention of completing the guy's growth if I ever come across someone to trade with). I actually used only my starter, which began its career as an adorable little bird and has grown into an ass-kicking feathery beast of flaming fury, to complete a number of the gyms, though with the recent Psychic gym I've re-learned the folly of such things.

Matt

Ah yes. Your strategy likely turned into a painful one as soon as your adorable little Torchic decided to unleash its martial arts side after evolving one too many times, no? The poor thing...

And I have an obsessive nature when it comes to numbered collectibles (it kills me that I can't find a playable copy of Mega Man X7--despite knowing the game's reputation, I just have to have the whole series), which the series plays into quite well. I even went so far as to purchase the Gamecube installments and a GBA in anticipation of being able to further complete the list through those exploits.

Matt

Hey, even I have a copy of X7, and it is that abysmal (this coming from a semi-hardcore fan of the series). I'd give it away except for the fact that I have a bit of a collector's bug of my own. And who knows? There's the off-chance that I'll have an itch to play it again someday, too. Theoretically.

Speaking of which, I find that starting in XD and then trying to move to Colosseum is a very, very bad idea. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but something was much-improved in the newer release, and the old one just feels wrong afterwards. I've tried to compensate by ignoring XD completely, but I just can't help it sometimes...I have to play a bit more of the newer one, which also seems to have a slightly better story (and it feels really weird to be saying this about a Pokemon, for goodness' sake--who the crap even worries about the story when playing?).

You ever have to deal with that? You play a later game in a series, decide to try an older one, and have trouble because the improvements were just so right they feel like they should've been in there to begin with?

Matt

Me? That's a good, different question. I think the only example I can give, though, is with the Breath of Fire series. I usually try to keep an open mind whenever I play a series backwards for the first time (though in truth, I don't experiment with series that way very often at all). I do like playing in that fashion, though, sometimes, to see where a series has evolved from; it's a fun little excursion. With Breath of Fire, though, I had just come off of playing the reasonably okay BoF II, and when I went back to the original, I was shocked at many things. It felt terribly unbalanced in comparison to its sequel, and certain things drove me up the wall, including the most BORING boss battles in the history of the universe. I have not, to this day, finished the game!

It amuses me to no end to know that all three of my current trainers share the same name (the one signed at the end of this letter). I'm not sure why it does so. <_< Hero in DQVIII also shares this moniker, as do all male speechless characters in games I play. Females get Kely, and those who can be either, or have no choice but to be both, become Barneto. And yes, I assure you, there is a circumstance in which they have no choice but to be both.

Matt

Yeeep! What circumstance is that?

That being Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. See, I have a character I insert into whatever stories I write. Whether she's a main character or simply part of the supporting cast, Kely Barneto always makes at least an appearance. Thus, in THPS4 and both THUG installments, my main character has been Kely, whose appearance differs based on what seems right for her at the time--she's sort of a reincarnated soul, and I think of my using the character creation as finding the Kely Barneto incarnation of that world. Thus, my first task when playing THAW was to find Kely, and I did so--only to discover that the game doesn't allow you to take your created characters in story mode, instead forcing you to pick from a number of characters. All males, which ruins the "Kely" part of the name. Instead, I reduced the incarnation to Barneto and hoped against hope that there would be a decent way to insert him (as he's sometimes a seperate character all his own).

Matt

Bizarre. That's quite the little tale. What on earth caused you to come up with that trio of names in the first place?

I tend to use completely random names when I have the choice of naming a character myself. I abandoned self-naming awhile back, because it's so much more fun to name characters after other people you know, or even interrogative pronouns. Yes, I had one run-through Final Fantasy IV where Cecil was "What", Rosa was "Whom", and Palom and Porom were "Why" and "Whynot" respectively. I think I've told that story once before...

This naming convention shows up in other games I play as well--Final Fantasy VII, my first time through, starred Barneto (Cloud), Menko (Barrett), Kely (Tifa), Heik (Red XIII), and Llna (Aerith, in a messed-up attempt to name her "Lina")--I don't recall what I named Cait Sith, Yuffie, or Vincent, as I've since abandoned all the names save Kely and Barneto, though now that I think about it, Llna oughta make a return appearance someday. Made for interesting attempts at conversation when talking to the people from whom I'd borrowed the game, I assure you. "Cloud? Who's that?" "The guy with the yellow hair." "Gotcha."

Such traditions, though admittedly lame and sometimes annoying, help attach me, I think, to worlds in which I'd otherwise hold little stake.

Matt

I SO know what you're talking about! When I first borrowed Final Fantasy VI, years and years ago (ten years ago now!) from my friend Ken, we would talk about the game on the way home from school every day. He would refer to characters by their true names, but I had taken the liberties of renaming them all crazy things- I still remember most of them to this very day. Edgar was "Jonah", Celes was "Eileen", Terra was "Kris", Shadow was "Jade", and Gau was "Joyce". Yes, Joyce. I thought the poor kid was a girl, and I'm grinning from ear to ear as I recall all of this, because the memory makes me want to laugh my brains out.

"Gotta wait for Jade...!" Ah, I can't believe how "normal" that sounds to me.

And now to completely turn this letter in a different direction--Suikoden. Now, I've never played a game of the series in my life, but I've heard wonderful things. Still, it seems rather reckless to have EBGames ship me in a copy of the first that'll cost $40 without being rather sure I'll enjoy it. (This strikes me as mildly hypocritical, as I bought the PSP Valkyrie Profile port on a whim recently, but I'll go with it.) And now I look and the site claims it'd only be $30, which strikes me as much more appropriate for a game I may or may not enjoy.

Matt

Thirty bucks, forty bucks... what's the difference? Skip lunch for the next couple of days, and you're set.

I'd still rather they translated the PSP version that Japan has, though. Because I'm not willing to pay $60 of my hard-earned money on II, and that's assuming I get lucky enough to find a store that has it. More likely would be Ebay, and I flat-out refuse to pay their prices.

So maybe I should just wait to start the series until there's a better way of getting ahold of I and II. Damn this completed collectionist obsession! I could've had Final Fantasy Tactics months ago if I weren't insistent on instruction manuals with my disc-based games.

It's not even like I'm collecting them to horde now and sell later--I just don't want to buy a game that comes with its own case without an instruction manual. It just feels....empty to do so. Fortunately, I don't share this obsession with Game Boy games, else I'd not have any handheld Mega Man, nor remakes of a certain trio of NES games we all know you love.

Matt

Well, come on. Getting bare naked games with the labels half torn from use and no booklet is always a bit on the sketchy side, isn't it? I don't blame you in the least.

And it is really unfortunate that Konami decided not to release a North American version of their Suikoden compilation. It was one of the announcements that began the PSP's downward trend into inferiority. Not that the system is a complete write-off, by any means.

Speaking of which...I'd love to see even just a collection of the original, newly translated versions of DQIV-VI. The trilogy takes care of itself, and it'd satisfy a number of us completionist folk who are desperately looking forward to FFIIIDS.

Heck, why not make such a collection for DS? First trilogy on GBC, second on DS, then some years down the line put VII-IX on Super-Saiyan Game Boy Dual-Screened Non-Exploding System of Awesomeness!!!!1!!oneone!!pancake!!!1!

Matt

Man, I LIKE your thinking an enormous amount. I think we should storm Square Enix's offices!

There is nothing... N O T H I N G... that would make me happier than an announcement of a DQV/VI translation, in any form. Imagine what either one of them would be like in, say, DQVIII's style? The thought brings tears to my eyes!

And that brings me to the DQIX Wii rumors. To be honest, I'd be thrilled, as it's just that much longer I can put off a PS3, thus letting the price drop that much more. Your thoughts, as a much longer DQ fan than I?

Matt

Agreed. That said, Dragon Quest IX hasn't even been announced yet. Given the fact that it's taken Enix/Square Enix an average of four and a half years to come out with every new sequel lately, I don't think we'll see a DQIX release until the end of the decade. Who knows? Maybe we'll even know what the NEXT next-generation console race will look like by the time we play that game!

Speaking of which...and I realize that this is very much reading stream-of-conciousness...system pricing. I like to think of the purchase price of a console being justified when I've paid as much for the games as I did for the system. So far, this has been fairly easy, as I never had to buy my own N64 or SNES games (well, not when they were my newest systems, anyway--I've since gone back and picked up some of the gems I missed the first time due to parents' stinginess/unwillingness to buy more games for their kids to waste their lives away playing). I paid $150 for the Gamecube, which included a Game Boy Player (great successor to my favorite SNES peripheral, I might add, though I miss custom borders) and the Zelda Ocarina of Time/Master Quest disc. DS was pretty simple, as I got it for $130 with Super Mario 64. And the PS2 was a gift from my parents, but after it died I bought the smaller model for $130, I think. Both prices, I've more than doubled on games, made easy by my lack of needing a lot of money in my current arrangements (at school, I almost never leave campus, and during summer, I live at home rent-free, which my parents are kind enough to offer so long as I'm in school).. But PS3's lineup just doesn't look to do so. Heck, I still feel bad about paying the price for PSP when I only have four games--four supremely excellent games (Lumines, the Mega Man remakes, and the awesomeness in disc form that is Valkyrie Profile) for it. What's it going to take, when the only games I know of that interest me are the big-name hits--Metal Gear Solid and FFXIII? Sure, there are going to be lesser-known names that I end up with, assuming I get the system at all.

Of course, as a rabid Metal Gear fan I feel I have no choice but to see Snake through to whatever the game brings, I'll just have to wait quite some time, especially given my other standard for console purchases--$250 is the absolute maximum, with $200 much preferable. How long will it be, for $600 to become $200? Long enough that PS4 will be around, I'm sure.

Matt

Certainly. With your habits, it seems like buying $600 worth of PS3 games is an unlikely prospect. Unless, of course, the games retail for $100 apiece; then it might not be so difficult to accomplish.

In any case, let's look at this: The PS2 is now what, a little less than half of what it cost originally, in American funds? According to Wikipedia, it debuted at $299, and now sells for $129. If the PS3 followed a similar path, proportionally, then once it reaches the point that the PS2 is at now, say, in 2010 or so, it would cost $258. That's... a lot.

Of course, lots could happen between now and then, and DVDs weren't a new phenomenon back at the start of the PS2's lifespan; the same is NOT true for Blu-Ray discs, so the pricepoint could definitely change at a different rate as the years go by. No matter what, though, it'll be a long time if ever that you can buy a PS3 for under $200.

So how does everyone else do this? Or do you even think about it? Curiosity abounds in the mind of the penguin.

Ah, well. I still have mine own massive backlog to deal with. Nearly 200 games I have, and the only ones I've completed in recent memory have been replays of games I've already finished.

Matt

That's...disgusting.

I do intend to finish Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth in the near future--I'm less than ten hours in, and already I can tell it's destined to be one of my favorite RPGs. The battle system is fun and the story intrigues me, or rather the smaller stories of the characters intrigue me. I couldn't care less about the fate of the gods at Ragnarok--it's the fates of the newly dead warriors that interest me, seeing the circumstances of their death and recruitment into the armies of the Aesir. Any RPG fan who has a PSP and doesn't have this game is doing themselves a disservice. And besides, assuming a $120 price on Ebay, you're saving $80 versus buying the original PS1 version--and getting snazzy new FMVs to go with it (they've all been transformations thus far, but great-looking transformations they are). Getting back to gameplay, the battle system is the most fun I've had in an RPG since Final Fantasy X-2, the pinnacle of ATB as far as I'm concerned. (DQVIII's quite fun as well, but these two are moreso.)

Matt

You heard it first from Erunion, folks. Valkyrie Profile: Play it or suffer the consequences!

Vagrant Story is another recent purchase that has me quite intrigued, but the opening hours of the two games have led me to play much more of VP, for whatever reason. Still, I can already tell VS has quite the intriguing battle system. It reminds me, on the surface at least, of Parasite Eve, which I've only played the first portion of. Graphics are fairly good, given their PS1 status, and PS2's texture smoothing helps as well. The camera's especially handy, in that it can be moved to what seems like any direction you would need. And I'm told the equip system is quite nice, allowing battles to play out in more interesting ways than most--they have a reasonably realistic feel, to be honest, which is quite the change from my beloved turn-based dash-and-attack. Really, I wouldn't mind seeing it get the port/sequel treatment VP is getting, though having not completed the story I have no idea whether the story leaves openings that could be used to start a new story, or if a certain amount of retcon would be needed.

Which brings me back to VP, only this time wondering what's known of the new game. Specifically, I'm hoping the battle system hasn't been fiddled with to disaster, and that Silmeria's goal of returning the dead to their mortal lives will be an interesting enough contrast to Lenneth's purpose of training the dead into end-of-the-world warriors. Perhaps the return to normal life could replace the exit from life overall, with an equally bittersweet feel?

Note to those who've played the Japanese release and are no doubt preparing very informative replies: Don't be too informative; I like a certain amount of surprise. Heck, I bought Lenneth knowing nothing save that it was a port of one of the most expensive PS1 games out there, which was said to be pretty damn good.

Matt

Well, I played the demo at E3, and I have to say that it was pretty, and pretty fun as well. The battle arenas are definitely "arenas" in that they're fully 3-D; I don't think that the original had battles in three-dimensions. It seemed that the system was very fast-paced, and potentially quite fun, but I couldn't figure out all of the intracacies within the ten or fifteen minutes that I spent... it seemed fairly complex.

I think that VP fans will be happy with the result, but we'll know for sure in just a few short weeks!

On that note, I think it's time to end this letter.

But not before giving a hearty recommendation that everyone play Karaoke Revolution Party, or one of its predecessors. Those games are far more fun than one would think they had any right to be, especially with a bunch of people who don't mind making fools out of themselves (though I've had great fun with Party solo, oddly enough--including create-a-character, which falls victim to the "Kely/Barneto/Erunion curse", three or four characters under each name).

Shalom and good day.

--
Erunion


Matt

Heh heh. Thanks very much, Erunion for all of your recommendations and discussion-starters!! I'm sure that readers will take them to heart.

You people sure are writing lengthy letters lately. I wish *I* had that much time on my han-urp, I guess I've been spending the time to answer them, though, haven't I? ^^;;;



Here's an interesting FAQ for you.


Hello there Macstorm

Mac

Hello there Erika.

So here's a question for you. How do you feel about FAQs?

Mac

I've written one. Not a walkthrough, just a FAQ.

Now I think we all know that Matt is quite leery of them and many people consider them to be a crutch. However, I've found I use them much more these days-- in fact I use them regularly ever since I started working. And you know what? I don' regret it either. I don't really use them for strategy or anything like that, but, rather when things aren't clear or when a game has multiple endings or branches or hidden characters, which are missable.

Mac

You are talking to someone that uses FAQs, walkthroughs, or printed guides. I don't tend to have one sitting open in front of me each step of the way, but so many RPGs are annoying without them. I don't have tons of time these days, so I want to make sure I don't waste time looking around for stuff that might or might not exist.

A while back Matt (sorry Matt; I don't mean to pick on you) mentioned that he left off with Radiata Stories after a mission that he couldn't figure out and spent three hours wandering around as a result. I have to tell you I would've just run off to an FAQ long before that.

Mac

I just starting playing Radiata Stories myself and can understand his frustration. I, however, am printing off a walkthrough of that game as we speak. I don't really like to use them to solve puzzles, beat bosses, or to explore, but if I've done everything that seems feasible and I still can't progress, I'm checking the walkthrough. With Radiata Stories, there is so much that you can do that it is easy to get overwhelmed. The time system just makes it even deeper. I love the game, so I'm not going to let a little bit of confusion stop me from playing through it.

My reasoning is as follows: I work full time now and the amount time I can spend on games without neglecting my other interests and various responsibilities is limited. Thus if I end up running round for ages and making no progress I generally feel frustrated that I've wasted time which is quite precious to me. It becomes no fun. Also since I don't have as much time as I used to, the odds of my having a chance to replay a game anytime soon is slim unless I simply stop playing new games. That means if there are characters I really want to meet or an ending I prefer to see, then I'll glance at an FAQ to get an overview of how to do it. Maybe it's not "hardcore", but I find it allows me to have more fun.

Mac

I think I just said the same thing. I'm in the same time restraint boat as you Erika. I work 40+ hours a week, perform church duties, take care of my wife, and have other interests like watching House, Monk, and Law and Order: SVU.

So what are you feeling towards and experiences with FAQs?

Best,
Erika


Mac

I love FAQs. People that write them, especially walkthroughs, get my uttermost thanks. I wrote a FAQ for Final Fantasy XI's Warrior class back in the day when I played Final Fantasy XI. I have used a FAQ on Grandia III, Kingdom Hearts II, Radiata Stories, Wind Waker, Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time, and Fire Emblem this year alone. Needless to say, they can be a crutch, but they can also help you when things get annoying.

I share your pain Erika. Thanks for the letter.



Hmmm.


Hey Matt, To begin with, are we who keep trying to make it into the TOP 35 going below 2000? If so, doesn't that mean we have the opptunity to purchase a 2000 mark item again and again?

Matt

I'll let you know, so don't worry about it!

Everytime you pass any point-benchmark in the right direction and manage to stay there until the beginning of next column, you'll get an item, yes. On the other hand, if you pass 7,000, for example, but immediately get hit back down below that level by a status effect or for some other reason, you unfortunately won't get an item. The general guideline is that if you are able to TELL from one day, based on the scoreboard, that you passed a benchmark, then you'll get something.

Hopefully, that clears that question up!

Anywho after reading JuMeSyn's report 6 on his life in RPGaming I thought I might try to write one with at least a quarter of his length, and maybe my version of his subjects. Here we go!

Matt

Dear me. The last thing that I thought would happen would be that other people would attempt to emulate his style. Just for kicks, I threw his last letter into a Word Counter. It was THREE THOUSAND, NINE HUNDRED, and TWENTY-FOUR words in length. That's longer than any essay I've ever had to write; it must have taken him the better part of a day to come up with!! I'm honoured that some of you guys feel that this lowly place is worth that much effort! Don't feel, though, that you have to create something that insane in order to write in; I take one-sentencers, too.

Bainick turns on the SPOILER ALERT button for this letter.




In your journal you were talking about dreams and it got me wondering what games I have played that involved dreams, either as the game or in part of the game. The first one that came to mind was Chrono Cross where you end up in the crayon world when you lose your body. And I wondered what was the point of ending up here! Yes it is a beautiful place but I never really understood the meaning for it (probably because I havn't passed the game yet). The next one was FF X, where the dream is actually Tidus. A gods dream that can make anything real (And reminds me a lot of the last battle scene in Shards of a Broken Crown). This is another game that didn't make a lot of sense to me (probably due to the less then stella script for a FF game). My main point is that companies seem to use dreams as a way to explain things that don't make any sense (like baseball), and so less effort ism put into the game as a whole!

Matt

Though it's been a long while, Dragon Quest VI does an absolutely fantastic job with its dream world/real world environment. The game is absolutely enormous, and the ideas that were included in that game were exciting and innovative. I'll plea until the end of my days for that game...

The funny part about Final Fantasy X is that I originally thought that I totally understood the plot, before people wrote in about it a few months ago, making me realize that perhaps I missed the point. FF games, since the very start, have had convoluted plots. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that X is no exception!

So lately i've had a huge increase in desire to play through my collection of PC RPG's, like Baulders Gate, Morrowind, Ice Wind Dale and Neverwinter Nights. Then it dawned on me. A huge percentage of non MMORPG RPG's are Dungeon and Dragon games! And the question is why? Why is there so little in the way of varience of RPG's on the PC. It seems like its either D&D or Eldur Scrolls, and with console systems becoming more high tech developers have given up on making PC RPG's. Now PC RPG's consist of a one player team instead of the party teams of Baulders Gate and such, and therefore have less story background to worry about!

At least there's an advantage in playing Morrowind on the computer! The map works! Actually with the DS and Wii we could be seeing a return of the mouse (like) controled RPG! The Wii in particular would handle this with ease!

Matt

This is a topic that gets touched on periodically around here. I don't really know the reason to the question, but it could be a combination of controls, memory capacity, and plain old tradition, among other things. Love 'em, hate 'em, or feel indifferent towards 'em, PC RPGs are different animals from their console brethren, and will be for some time to come, whatever the reason might be.

In response to remixs I find http://www.vgmusic.com/ a much quicker way for game music. (See I can seem cool and post links too) Actually I think this site http://www.kylejcrb.com/talesproject/ is more in line with RPGamer, the projects nearing completion too!

Matt

Ah yes! RPGamer's own Powerlord has been heavily involved with vgmusic in the past. I used to go there a lot, back when I didn't have the space to hold MP3s and such. I haven't been lately, though.

As for my parents and video games. My mum loves the SNES especially TERRANIGMA (100th time i've said it perhaps), Lufia 2, Secret of Mana, and Harvest Moon. She also loves Morrowind and Baulders Gate 2, and for non RPG's Bubsy. Dad plays card games though he did one Dark December play Super Mario Brothers 2 and was the first in our family to discover the warp tubes) My Mums parents know that it is possible to play games on the PC but I don't think they would know anything more then solitare.

Matt

I remember exactly how excited I was when I accidentally discovered Warp Pipes in Super Mario Bros. 2. I had no idea they even existed until I tried to do a squat-jump off of the top of one while in the potion world, and squatted DOWN it instead! How fun.

I wish my mom loved Lufia 2 and Secret of Mana. I forced mine to play Final Fantasy VI from start to finish, though, when I was young.

ADVERTISING!!! Which is why game companies don't even bother in Australia

Matt

Ja. *frowns, Frau-style*

A SLICE of pizza for $11.20 Australian??? I can buy a large pizza for that, with change!

Matt

It's a little much, isn't it? It's funny, because you can buy a large slice of pizza and pop here for a mere toonie if you go to the place on the corner. At the same time, though, you can travel to a theme park (anyone ever heard of Canada's Wonderland?) and pay $9 for the same meal.

And I think I converted a little kid into buying a DS by playing Mario Kart with the only person in Colac I know who has both, and happens to be 8 years younger then me!

Matt

Congrats! You should have grabbed a friend code from him, so that you'd have someone local to play with!

Hmm what Australian Animals might try to kill you? Possibly a Kangaroo (Watch a Doco to see how deadly they can be) maybe a Dingo though you would be hard pressed to find a full blood Dingo in Australia due to The Wild Dog population, Tasmanian Devil's perhaps (not WB style) and the plentytude of World's Most Dangerous Spiders, Snakes and Jellyfish! Mostly though you'd probably die from starvation and thirst in the outback, not that i've ever been there either though! Oh MAGPIES. They would defintly go for the head during spring!

Matt

Oh, I've heard many stories of the frightening wildlife on your little continent down there. Needless to say, I need to gain a few levels before I venture down there, that's for sure. My friend Tyler is going on exchange to Australia for awhile during the next year, and he's terrified of the crazy arachnids he might encounter!! How often do you actually see dangerous snakes and spiders in everyday life, though?

And my name gets thrown through the cleaner in both first time sayers and spellers alike. There are no N's in there, It isn't spelled like the toilet. And its two sylable not four. de Leuewn my but! (See Q&A March 24)

Bah I still can't write a JuMeSyn letter! How do you do it? This is the reason Bainick hated English so!

Matt

Please... this is quite sufficient, Bainick!

It's good to hear from you, even if RPGs weren't- wait, did you even mention any in your letter? Oh right, mum likes Lufia 2. OK, you're good to go. ;)

Thanks for sending in a letter!



Left. Left. Left, Right, Left.


Dear Matt/Mac JuMeSyn has got me thinking of a couple things lately. First of all, about lefties in RPGs, they are pretty rare. There's Kain from FFIV, and let's not forget our hero, Link. Even in the sprite-based games, you can tell that he was left-handed by the way he held his shield. I hear that this actually matters in Twilight Princess when you're fighting on horseback, as it's easier to to hit someone on your left than someone on your right, given how he holds his sword in his left hand and the reins in his right.

Mac

I'm pretty sure that Palom was a leftie as well. But Link? I could honestly say that I had no idea that Link was until you said that. Interesting.

On the topic on possible movie/cartoons being made into RPGs and vice versa, I remember asking Josh a similar question a while back. Given what a big Dragon Quest fan you are, I recommend that you seek out this show. And about the Street Fighter-with-Tales-battle-system RPG, there already is something like that in Namco x Capcom. It's part Namco, so the Tales battle system is there, and it's also part Capcom, overlords of 2D fighting games (IMO), and sure enough, SF characters are included, and thanks to the Tales battle system, I imagine that they still control similarly to their fighting game counterparts.

Mac

Actually, Namco x Capcom is a Tactical RPG whose battle system just looks Tales-ish, at least from what I've seen. Truly a shame that we will never get to see KOS-MOS vs. Chun-Li here in the states.

Also, these are the teams that I remember using in the final battles the last time I played these games:

FFVI: Relm, Cyan, Terra, Gogo

FFVII: Cloud, Tifa, Red XIII

FFVIII: Squall, Irvine, Rinoa

FFIX: Zindane, Vivi, Eiko, Steiner

Mac

Here's mine...

FF: Knight, Master, Red Wizard, White Wizard

FFIVa: Cecil, Edward, Palom, Porom, Yang

FFVI: Sabin, Shadow, Setzer, Gogo

FFVII: Cloud, Tifa, Vincent

FFVIII: Squall, Irvine, Rinoa

FFIX: Zidane, Vivi, Dagger, Freya

FFX (to start at least): Tidus, Auron, Yuna

Though it was kind of hard to end up with you team you wanted in FFVI and VIII, as dead characters get taken out of the battle if you don't revive them quickly enough.

Yeah, before I get into a JuMeSyn-sized letter, I'll just stop here.
Alan


Mac

Thanks for the interesting letter. I like jumping around to different topics, especially talking about characters.





THE NEXUS

Corn is hard on the gums! Yeah, it's me, Matt, again. Argh. I had three cobs of corn last night for dinner, and while they were rather tasty, I hurt my gums somehow in the process of consuming them. I guess I'll just go off into the corner and cry about it some more. Boo, and hoo; both of them!

Again, look at Sean's list of games he has for sale! He has generously donated prizes to the SOCK and THONG competitions, so please support him! Take a look at the used games, including some rarer titles, all to be sold for $40 or less. Some of them come with bonus art books, strategy guides, or more. So, if you're looking for something that's hard to find, Sean might be the one to talk to! Get in touch with him at BuddyWingnut@yahoo.com, and he'll be sure to tell you more. Thanks!


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to August 9th's Questions

#280. b) Hrathnir - 470 points/940 for Prismatic
Apparently, there are more Wizardry fans floating around out there than we might have thought otherwise! This question came from Wizardry 2: The Knight of Diamonds. Thanks for the submission!

#281. b) Eirika - 480 points
Oh, how soon we forget! Yes, the answer was B, because Eirika has blue hair, and Counter materia, no matter what you might think you remember, is BLUE! Indeed, Counter materia allows you to counterattack with its paired materia, and should not be confused with Counter Attack, which is purple. About half of you succumbed to that one, selecting Lute instead! Good job to those of you who saw through this!



Today's New Questions

Macstorm's #282:
In my first ever Q&A letter, combined, Matt and I referred to which two games the most? (470 points)

a) Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XI
b) Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy VII
c) Final Fantasy IV and Dragon Quest VIII
d) Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy VII
e) Dragon Quest VIII and Final Fantasy XII


Reader-Submitted #283:
The following five options are anagrams of skills from Xenosaga: Episode II. Which is the anagram of a skill that is available without the use of any secret keys? (450 points)

a) All Betsy
b) Numb Jake
c) Rest Hubert
d) Pink Space Axon
e) Red Wolf Sam


BONUS ITEM DRAW:
Those who answer BOTH of today's questions correctly will be entered into a draw to receive a bonus item!

The item is Macstorm's Illusionary Storm Staff, a one-time-use item. When used, this will cast an illusionary Thundaga spell on a specific target. The target will only be informed that the user has hit them with a Thundaga spell and the 1,500 points damage will be removed from their score. The user will also have "Vanish" cast on them at the same time, so that they don't appear to be in the Top 35. After 4 columns, the spell wears off, the attacked person's points return, and the user reappears on the board. By then, there is no telling what the attacked person might have done in the meantime. Any items gained during this time of illusion are kept as normal.

There have been an unusually large number of SOCK question submissions as of late. If you're waiting to see your own, be patient! There have been a lot of great questions out there, and I do want to get around to everyone! If you're thinking of submitting one, be creative and different! Catch my eye, and make me notice your question; you'll have a better chance of making the cut. Most of all, with so many people submitting, keep trying. If you don't see one of your questions make it up, try, try again, and eventually you'll succeed.



SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

2,000 points: Hastera Spell (1 left) or Drain Spell (2 left)
3,500 points: Mythril Armor (2 left) or Rename Card (1 left)
5,000 points: Venom Spell (1 left) or Confuse Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Blizzaga Spell (2 left) or Damage Deflector (1 left)
10,000 points: Merton Spell (1 left) or Hyper Beam (2 left)
14,000 points: Slowga Spell (2 left) or Killer Sword (2 left)
19,000 points: Point Tripler (3 left) or Gold Armor (1 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)

STRAGGLERS:
(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!)

  • none to speak of!


SOCK's Prize Shop

Obtain enough points, and you may buy merchandise or guest-hosting positions.

Click here for the current list of potential prizes!


IN CLOSING

I only have one more column before I take a week off to go home, where I'll do my very best to catch up on the games I'm falling behind in. Believe me when I tell you that there are many of them!

Join me tomorrow, before I hand you off to Ourobolus, if only to say goodbye. If you have anything you'd like to chat about, please send a letter in! There are lots of interesting topics, the least of which is Square Enix's bizarre hardware involvement. What does this mean for the world's biggest producer of RPGs?


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt has a funny taste in his mouth.


Send a Question

Ever since people started talking about Dragon Quest for the Super Famicom earlier this week, I've had the biggest yearnings for real, official translations of those games. I've laid awake at night thinking about them! Will we ever, ever be so lucky? Oh, I HOPE!!

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Quote Archives

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:

1. Aurelius
24,217 pts

2. Kanato
21,649 pts

3. Xlash
20,448 pts

4. Erika
19,583 pts

5. Alan Tse
19,345 pts

6. JokingChimer
18,869 pts

7. MagRowan
18,793 pts

8. DMJewelle
17,641 pts

9. Cap
15,050 pts

10. Belthasar2
13,918 pts

11. LufiaLvr
12,140 pts

12. Leaper
11,943 pts

13. Dermot
11,636 pts

14. DDX
11,309 pts

15. TV's Adam
11,251 pts

16. Arros Raikou
10,474 pts

17. Colabottle
9,175 pts

18. Tabor
9,106 pts

19. Purelunatic
7,085 pts

20. Megan
6,684 pts

21. Gilgamesh
5,675 pts

22. Alexander
5,637 pts

23. FinalDelerium
5,557 pts

24. JuMeSyn
5,519 pts

25. BLG
5,413 pts

26. Flamethrower
4,863 pts

27. Gaijin
4,203 pts

28. CW
4,121 pts

29. Knighttrain
3,821 pts

30. Draconn
3,565 pts

31. BigWook
3,275 pts

31. Macstorm
3,275 pts

33. Prismatic
2,830 pts

34. Ourobolus
2,776 pts

35. Bainick
2,646 pts

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