Return from Beyond
August 22, 2006
Matt Demers - 22:45 EST
I'M ALIVE, if you can believe it!
It's been eleven days since I last showed my ugly mug around here, but it feels more like three from my end; my time at home always manages to fly by at slightly faster than the speed of sound, or so it seems. What did I do? Not a whole lot! I concentrated my efforts towards Fire Emblem and Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, the latter of which I managed to finish off by Thursday, reducing my backlog by one. Next up would be Radiata Stories, I suppose!
Despite the fact that my vacation flew by, and that I've got to get into the habit of doing some work now and then for my ever-plodding-along Master's Degree, I am glad to be back in Guelph and I'm ready to tackle your answers and questions with renewed vigour! We've got a lot of exciting things happening here-- I hope to have my first full co-host step in to take my place later this week if possible-- and I have a lot of free stuff just waiting to be given away in the never-ending SOCK.
By the way, I'd like to thank Ouro and Roku for filling in my shoes while I was absent; it's much appreciated.
Question time, anybody? I think so. Let's begin!
A lot of RPG-type news was in the latest Famitsu; but the most important bits were an announcement of a port of Riviera to the PSP (Weird) and the revelation of two new jobs for Final Fantasy V Advance: Gladiator and-get this-Demolition Expert. Weirder. One could only wonder what kind of wacky abilities these jobs could have, or what ancient hero was a Demo man.
Alexander M. DeMichiei
I think that just about everyone was surprised by the announcement that Riviera is to be ported to the PSP. Not only is this great news for the somewhat-starving-but-not-really PSP RPGamers out there, there are supposedly some new yummies included as well, such as more voice acting and a larger number of background backdrops, of which there were relatively few in the GBA version.
And Demolition Expert?!? I did hear about this recently, and I'm really excited about it. Perhaps it will be a Cid-like job class that equips hammers and can use bombs like the ones found in Final Fantasy IV? I'm really excited about the remake of Final Fantasy V, and let me tell you that while the rest of the world is drooling over their shiny new Playstation 3s, I'll be busy exploring worlds by asteroid on the good ol' GBA.
I have to agree with you about the party balance in Final Fantasy IV. For almost the entire game, everyone does seem to move in and out of the party very naturally. However, I never felt like Edge really fit in that well. It's been a long (long, long) time since I played the game, but Edge always sort of felt tossed in at the end of it. He is a convenient character, I love the throw (or is it dart in that one?) command, so handy in boss battles. Especially with the Excalibur and the duplication trick. However, Edge is example A from the discussion a few weeks ago about not needed to introduce all the characters early in the game.
Agreed. Out of the final party, he's definitely the most "disposable", if you will, and it's funny because he's often the dispos-ed anywya, due to his abysmal magic defense and defense in general. I've found that 50% of the time, I end with Rosa having slightly more HP than he, and if it wasn't for her valuable healing magic, I wouldn't hesitate to stick her in the front row instead of him!
My other issue with Edge is that the Steal function isn't really special at all. It feels like the stolen items are almost randomly generated, and there's never anything of real value that could be snatched up anyway. This is, of course, contrary to most future games in the series; has anybody else here sat for half an hour trying to grab every item from every boss in Final Fantasy IX? Ugh!
Anyway, enjoy your trip, or if you've left already and are now back, I hope you enjoyed your trip. My four days for family reunion were a nice recharge, even with two of those days being travel days (and squeezing a 6'7" frame in a stupid airplane seat), so a week should be a ton of fun for you.
284) D. The second Z
285) B. Shin Megami Tensei
Thanks! It was good, but I felt like a lazy slug for most of it, and thus, I'm more or less glad to be back so that I can get into a better routine.
As for airplanes, I find it difficult to manage in airplanes, and I'm only six feet even! My knees inevitably end up getting pressed into the seat in front of me, so I spend the bulk of the time squirming around trying to find a position that gives me something resembling comfort. I can't imagine the acrobatics you must be forced to perform!
Thanks, BigWook! Prepare yourself: This column is yours someday soon!
Personal Haste Spells! You got it.
Yo, Mr. Slime...
Now that you're back from vacation, that puts me in mind of something:
when you are an RPG player, and have a schedule that comes out of real
life (such as school, but ESPECIALLY a job), how do you plan your RPG
playing time? Do you, as I do, reduce your time doing certain daily
time-wasters in the weekday evenings (such as lazing online)? Do
intense play on Friday and weekend nights? Do you find your enjoyment
at all spoiled by the time you are forced to spend away from it, not to
mention the times you are forced to stop and save when you'd rather not
(like at a key plot point)?
Heh heh heh, interesting questions.
I'd have to say that between working here and working on academic activities (coursework, thesis writing, programming, TAing, what have you), I don't really get a lot of time to play in the first place. Generally, I don't play at all anymore during the week unless I decide to go to bed early; then I'll try to get in some handheld playtime. The bulk of my time playing occurs on Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons, or Sunday afternoons, unless I have plans to meet friends or do other things.
You're absolutely right in that it does pose a bit of a problem for some games. It has occurred in the past where I won't be able to remember all of the plot details or names very clearly, and it sometimes takes me fifteen or thirty minutes to get "back into the groove" as far as the battle system is concerned. It's a sacrifice that I don't really have a choice but to make, though, to be honest. Of course I'd enjoy the game more if I had the ability to play it when I want to play it, but I'll take what I can get!
A couple of people have mentioned this already, but I believe that that's the reason that I've let the SOCK sprawl out into something so massive. It's become almost my RPG-substitute during the week, and it gives me a chance to let my creative juices flow even when I don't get the chance to play my favourite games.
I know you usually save these kinds of letters for some kind of themed day
but I just can't pass up an opportunity to tell you about my luck this week.
First of all, I had read that a whole new lot of games had become Greatest
Hits titles. I love it when this happens because I rush out to grab any
remaining copies of the originals with the discounted price (like I did last
summer with Star Ocean 3 and Killzone). This time I managed to score a copy
of Shadow of the Colossus before it donned that dreadful red banner. It has
got to be one of the most beautiful games I've played. I'm 10 Colossi in and
the gameplay is new and bold with each giant. I had read so much about it
but delayed picking it up because of the cost and the potentially low replay
value (once you figure out how to kill the Colossi, it kind of lessens the
fun factor). But since it had dropped to about 1/3 the price of a rental, I
couldn't pass it up.
Good point! And I never even thought of that, but I guess you're right. They'd have to sell the old copies at the reduced price as well, and those red banners do kind of uglify box covers, now that you mention it. Good for you, too! I've heard that Shadow of the Colossus is an absolutely fantastic game, and I don't know if I've talked to anyone who has described it in a negative tone. I meant to pick it up awhile back to see what all the fuss was about, but then I just didn't.
Second, when I was browsing around Futureshop yesterday I had noticed a copy
of Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, but delayed picking it up because of my
recent SotC purchase. It had a price sticker of $19.99 which it has hovered
around in new and used game stores for about a year and a half now. I
decided to grab it today, impulsively. When the cashier rang it through, it
read $4.95. I thought it was wrong and said so... NO! Why did I do that? I
wasn't thinking! But the young lady was nice enough to say, "well, that's
the price. I guess someone just forgot to change it." I now have a pristine
copy of BoF: DQ for just over 5 bucks! It was pretty much awesomely amazing.
Whooooaaaa. That's incredible, and well worth your money! While I (and many others) absolutely love Dragon Quarter, there are several that despise the game as well. At five bucks, though, you've got almost nothing to lose! Let me know how you like it.
Then I bought Wild ARMs 4 for a mere $24.99 because of the money I saved on
Breath of Fire. I couldn't believe it. My girlfriend is going to kill me...
buying 3 new games this week... oh well, hahaha. I'm stoked! They only cost
me about $60 in total! Just thought I'd share my bit of good luck this week.
I love it when stuff like this happens!
That's really lucky, Derek! And I know what you mean; I'm always compelled to come up with some justification to my friends whenever I've gone out and bought a video game. It's funny, because other people buy DVDs and music CDs all the time without need for an excuse; I don't buy either unless I'm doing Christmas shopping, so why shouldn't I be able to have one indulgence of some variety, too?
TRPGs, SRPGs, or whatever you wanna call 'em.
I write in to say, that I finally cracked on a "retro" game
purchase. I don't own the systems to play them, with the exception of of
PS1 so I generally talk myself out of buying them, as much as I'd love
to have mw own copies of Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, FF3/6, etc., etc. I
found Final Fantasy Tactics for $30.00 CDN at a gamestore in my hometown
(Gamezilla, as it were. Maaaad props.) So I cracked, and bought it, as
it is, in my mind, the best TRPG made to date as far as mechanics go,
and it had one hell of a well fleshed out skill/job system. Well, maybe
not the best to date, but surely a solid contribution to the genre. It
walked a good line between being not having to micro-manage toooo much,
but still having a really good level of customization/tactical options.
And the more you leveled, the harder the game made itself (notably in
the zodic dungeon, key bosses). Thats a smart feature, that rewarded
those who fought who the increasingly harder random battles to gain exp,
and played a team well, v. those who farmed their own parties
incessantly (which you could do...a weak/strong point. Its helpful early
on, but you miss out on a lot of sidequests/gear/treasure if you do this
as your means of lvling. But, I guess you could say thats more a
preferance of the gamer. What a long digression....) Anyway, main point:
It rocks. So I couldn't pass on what I saw as a bargain I could actually
play on my PS2. Now my segue: Actually, that was it. Oops. Anyway, have
you played FFT? If so, what were your most trained classes typically,
and what was one (or as many as you feel like typing...it is your
column) of your favorite skill combinations to equip characters with? I
was a big fan of ninjas /w ignore height or teleport, and knight swords,
for massive sneak attacks. There are tons though. And Calculators were
the all time awesomist EVER! And yes, awesomist is a word. Its Latin for
Final Fantasy Tactics proved to be my introduction to the realm of tactical RPGs, and I absolutely loved it. I remember, though, when it was first announced. Based purely on its name, I passed it off (and this is really silly, I know) as some sort of Final Fantasy tutorial game. It wasn't until about a year after its release that I finally got to play it and discover the magic.
I agree with you; it is definitely one of the strongest games of its kind in terms of gameplay, though I felt that the gruesomely bad translation really prevented anyone from enjoying what could have been a really deep and involving plotline.
My favourite classes were Mages, and, of course, Ninjas. Who didn't like Ninjas? They were obscenely powerful, and if I recall correctly, they were the key to learning the double-weapon ability that was key to certain ridiculous boss fights. Summoners were fun, too. I really liked Teleport as well, but my all-time favourite ability was that Pre-Counter move. Why hasn't it returned to a Final Fantasy game since? I demand to know!!
And my final question(s): What other TRPGS have you
enjoyed, and why? And lastly: is their/have there been any rumblings of
a FFT2 or alternatively named sequel on a non-handheld platform???? I
enjoyed FFTA quite a bit, I shall note.
You do a good job of fostering a colum based on thought and opinion,
not gimmick or fad, and its awesome. Lots of long well thought out
letters, usually covering both sides, and well thought out replies. You
don't try and hide your biases, and always tend to write a bit on both
sides of the coin. Job well done sir, job well done.
I've only very recently discovered my new favourite tactical RPG series: Fire Emblem. It's so wonderfully complex compared to Final Fantasy Tactics, though it feels completely different; you should try one of the three english games sometime soon. There are currently two out for the GBA, one of which is quite difficult to find at this point, and one for the Gamecube, which I've heard is quite good. A Fire Emblem game has also been announced for the Wii at this point, so I can't wait! While the skill system isn't nearly as complex, the game makes up for it by featuring maps with weather affecting movement, the ability to "rescue" units that are endangered, the ability for enemies to call for reinforcements in the midst of battle (or allies arriving on the scene), sometimes drastically turning the tables, and much more. If you've ever played Shining Force, Fire Emblem feels very, very similar.
To answer your second question, there isn't really anything at this time that has been announced. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance wasn't a complete write-off, and had some really interesting ideas, but I found it to be somewhat disappointing in terms of difficulty, gameplay, and plot, when compared to its big brother.
Finally, I'm glad you're enjoying the column! I try my best to be receptive to other people's points of view and I like to keep an open mind on most topics, because it's only through listening to readers that I'll learn something myself! I appreciate the kind words, and I hope you'll take the time to write in again someday.
Let me summon some answers for you...
Summons sounds like a lot of fun. Now you said that
if 2 people try and summon at the same time only the
first one will succeed. Does that mean that the other
person wastes their 3 items or just count as wrong
timing and nothing happens to the items. Same thing
if the Call Bead is used. I'm sure you will be kind
enough to negate the loss of said items in such cases,
but I just want to be clear that summoning isn't a
risky thing to do, just costly.
OK. Here's the lowdown to try and clarify matters for you and everyone else. Starting with today, anybody can sacrifice any three items at any time, no matter what. Doing so will give you a "summon" in the form of an item that you can then use at any time to call a creature to help you. Using THAT item can only be done if no other summons are in play, but if you accidentally use it anyway, it just has no effect and it will be returned to you, no worries. You're right: Summoning will be risky enough as it is! It is certainly possible that people will just fire all of their weapons at a summon as soon as it is called in to help. Of course, those attackers will have to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of "wasting" an item to target an entity that has no chance of winning any prizes at all. I don't know what strategies everyone will take! All I know is that SOCK is going to get very interesting as we get closer and closer to some big prizes. 100,000 points will get one lucky person Final Fantasy XII. Who will it be?
August nearly through
Summer sun fading away
Here's to coming days...
For complete contest rules, click here!
Answers to August 10th's Questions
#284. d) the second Z - 550 points
A surprising number of you got this one correct! On the placemats, the nine letters are arranged in a three letter by three letter square, and the middle one, the second Z, is the only one coloured red. Nice job!
#285. b) Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - 450 points/900 for Boojum
The attack in question is called Freikugel, to those of you who just don't believe poor old Boojum. Thanks for the submission!
In the original Dragon Warrior, what two things are said to have "served thee well" upon being promoted to the next level?
a) courage and valor
b) courage and wit
c) valor and wit
d) valor and luck
e) luck and wit
Which Q&A host had a discussion over the course of
several days about <3?
d) Andrew Long
e) Andrew Kaufmann
Just to inform everyone, some massive additions have been included to the rule guide! A few items have been added, a few, such as the Ultra Sneak Glove, have received an upgrade, and a few new status conditions have been introduced as well! Best of luck to all of you!
Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!
2,000 points: Fire Spell (2 left), Blizzard Spell (2 left), or Water Spell (2 left)
3,500 points: Mythril Sword(2 left), Regen Spell(2 left), or Point Doubler (3 left)
5,000 points: Slowra Spell (2 left), Reflect Spell (2 left), or Poison Needle (2 left)
7,000 points: Ultra Sneak Glove (2 left), Item Bomb (1 left), or Thundara Spell (2 left)
10,000 points: Merton Spell (1 left), Hyper Beam (2 left), or Light Converter (1 left)
14,000 points: Red Gem (2 left), Force Field (2 left), or Killer Sword (1 left)
19,000 points: Esuna Spell (3 left), Point Tripler (3 left), or Drainra Spell (2 left)
25,000 points: Demiga Spell (1 left), Holy Spell (2 left), or Nightmare Staff (2 left)
32,000 points: Point Quadrupler (2 left), Diamond Armor (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!
Well, that's my first column in over a week, and perhaps I'm a bit rusty. Let me practice some more! Send in some mail, and I promise you that there will be another helping to come in the morrow. G'night, all!
***Matt went to the CNE this afternoon!
I've had enough fried food to last me the rest of my days... or at least, the rest of this week.
Aug. 21: Josh
Aug. 20: Josh
Aug. 19: Josh
Aug. 18: Roku
About the Host
What am I playing?
1. Fire Emblem GBA
2. Radiata Stories
3. Lunar: SSSC
What do I want to play?
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Xenosaga: Episode III
3. Disgaea II
SOCK's Top 35:
4. Alan Tse
12. TV's Adam
14. Arros Raikou
31. Hunter B