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ASK MATT
I Choose You! August 24, 2006

Matt Demers - 21:19 EST

I DREAMT, the night before last, that I was involved in some sort of academically-motivated game of some sort, in which I was pitted against a number of my other friends to navigate the streets of Montreal, somehow using DS Lites to do so. The game ended up getting really weird, though, and the dream ended up fairly grisly, so I care not to go into details; let's just say that my subconscious has the tendency of behaving disturbingly strangely from time to time.

Despite the nightmares, my sleeping schedule has remained unscathed, so I'm in good shape to go for the day. Thus, what am I waiting for? Let the questions begin.





LETTERS
...and it's pretty, too!


Hello Matt,

Is it just me, or is the Nintendo DS more of a graphics powerhouse than was originally thought? I'm astonded by the things being done on the DS, particularly by Square-Enix (who I've always figured knew how to get the most out of a system). Final Fantasy 3 and DQ Monsters Joker look amazing considering the hardware limitations, as does the upcoming Zelda title. In fact, DQMJ is particularly astonding, since the character models are very reminiscent of DQVIII. I doubt we'll every see something like FFVII, VIII, or IX on the handheld, it it still seems pretty darn incredible, and has me waiting to see what other surprises the system has.

Matt

You're definitely right! I never would have believed that the DS would have such a potential to have heavy graphics power, but Metroid Prime Hunters clarified that for me in a really big hurry. It's quite incredible what they've packed into that little machine, isn't it? Sure, the PSP is even higher quality, but the DS has proven many times over that it can also pull its weight graphically! And have you seen those in-game Final Fantasy III movie sequences?? Oh, they give me shivers!

Also, have you noticed that most RPGs now seem to be moving away from the "Realistic" graphical style towards more cel-shaded and stylized? I honestly welcome this shift, since it seems to free up more processing power for more detailed environments and such (Kingdom Hearts 2 and the 3D Tales games are good examples). Plus, I like to see that I'm not the only person who believes that texturing, not huge polygon counts, is what makes a games look great. What do you think?

Finally, SOCK!

#288: b) the second feather from the top
#289: d) who seeks to bar the intruders, can be removed from the path

--
~ The Irish Ninja


Matt

Absolutely. Super-realistic-looking characters are more of a turn-off than they are a turn-on for me. If I wanted super-realism, I'd stick my head out the window and watch people walk by. Games like Radiata Stories and Dragon Quest VIII have made it very evident that incredibly lush and gorgeous worlds can be easily constructed using cartoonish graphics. In fact, these games wouldn't be the same without 'em.



A Handheld Hmm-Haw


hello,. im new to your site, i was hoping youd be able to answer this question... can i play Zelda: Oracles' on a regular old school Gameboy, the original one... or do i have to buy a newer gameboy?

Thank you
Ryan


Matt

Hi, Ryan, and welcome to RPGamer! I'm glad you've decided to visit the site!

Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Zelda: Oracle of Seasons are both games that were released for the Game Boy Color. They won't run in the original Game Boy if you only have that, but if you have a Game Boy Color or a Game Boy Advance, they will work just fine. Hopefully, that helps to answer your question.

I've heard many good things about that pair of Zelda games, so perhaps if you do get the chance to play through them, you might want to write back and tell me about what you think of 'em.

Either way, thanks for writing into Q&A, and I hope you'll come and read again sometime soon.



Smelly SOCKs? I think we should summon some liquid detergent...


As for my letter/thought of the day: I'm actually okay with all the Final Fantasies being released at around the same time. The reason: they're for different systems (generally). If they were all for all systems, or just one, I'd probably have to think about it (just a little, since I've already played the PSX version of FF5), but seeing as how most multiple platform owners accept the expense thing, I don't think it makes much of a difference this time around.

Matt

I'm becoming more and more used to the fact that I'm just not going to have any money left by the time Christmas-shopping-season rolls around, so I'm pretty numb to the fact, too. I really wonder if all three of them will build off of each other's hype, or if Final Fantasy XII will just steal the show, being released first? Perhaps a bunch of people new to the series will play XII and go "WHOA THIS IS SO COOL WHEN CAN I GET ANOTHER?" and then go "HEY LOOK MORE FINAL FANTASY I CAN BUY THEM NOW SWEET!" when V and III appear on the shelves shortly thereafter. It's a thought.

Speaking of FF's, I'd love to see some sort of Job system in an RPG sometime soon. Perhaps it's too much management for most people, or else it makes characters too much the same (potentially), but dammit, I like it.

Matt

Oh, I like it too. Whenever I'm faced with a job system, I go to sometimes extreme lengths to ensure that everyone in the party winds up very different from everybody else in the end. I like people to carve out their niches, and it's neat to see how different characters develop and evolve in skill over time.

On the side, I'm becoming RIDICULOUSLY ravenous for FFV by this point. There are rumblings about as many as four brand new job additions, and who knows what other special stuff will be stuffed into the remake? Yay!!

Oh, and as for SOCK, I'll be really interested to see what happens the first time someone Summons something. I would assume that no one's done it yet (which surprises me) for the same reason as I haven't: waiting for the right time (like near 100K points), but we'll see.

Long live SOCK! Long may it... uh... smell?

SOCK:

288: Uh... (d)?
289: (e)

Leaper


Matt

Look to your right, my son (or daughter- I guess you could very well be a girl, too- I never really thought about it until this very moment). Anyway, the summoning has happened already! May the fireworks begin.

Thanks, Leaper!!



From one version to another and back again!


> 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.

Well that's mostly a problem in the US SNES(FFII) version, where they took out all those interesting battle items. There's only really Artemis Arrows and free Ethers left.

Matt

I'll never know why they made those changes, either. Almost every enemy seems to give you a Cure1 potion, nearly useless by the time you actually have the ability to get them. Some of the changes made between the original version and the one we got slapped with don't necessarily make the game easier; some of them are just "stupider", all around.

The original FFIV has it better if you know where to look; free Remedies, Alerts, Silk Webs (anyone can slow them all!), Illusion (useful for avoid Behemoth attacks), Bacchus, Succubus (big save on ethers) and others. Plus the best thing is them being never ending steals from a single enemy!
Note: Just remember that you want to be a much higher level than the target, for an easier time stealing.

Matt

Oh, interesting. I guess Square Enix wasn't high-tech enough yet to have enemies carry any less than infinite items at the time. Isn't it fascinating that in the sequels to follow, party item space grew manyfold in size while monster item space fell to just one? I wonder why those stupid things don't ever use those potions and whatnot, anyway...

As for the Rows; there's room for 3 in the back and he does have Boomerangs & ninja-magic! (So only an issue while you have 3 mages.)

Matt

Touché, my friend; the 2-3 formation never even crossed my mind. Duh.

I guess he is a decent all-rounder, and thus a master of none (which is probably the real failing!).

P.s. "in the form of an item"! Doesn't that mean can store over two and well....he he he!?


Matt

Heh heh, if you're talking about SOCK summons, then I can see where this is leading. And NO! You can't sacrifice summons you're holding in order to produce more summons, because they aren't "actually" items. They can't be stolen or anything, either. Thus, anyone could theoretically sacrifice items in secret and stockpile a number of different summons to use at just the right time...



Do banks cover special loans for things like this...?


Hi Matt,

I've been insanely busy lately, but this whole "release-every-good-game-for-the-entire-year-at-the-same-time-right-before-christmas" thing is driving me nuts. This is almost as bad as Sony's Playstation 3 pricing. There are at least 13 games all being released within 3 months of each other on 3 systems that MUST be purchased by any rpgamer worth his salt. The expense is impossible to maintain. I'm trying to buy a HOUSE for God's sake! I can't tell me wife we're dropping out of escrow so I can buy 7 PS2 games, a Wii for the new Zelda, and a DS for FF remakes!!...or can I?

Anywho, sock answers:

#288: c
#289: d

Interesting new rules and items.

cap


Matt

To be fair, you don't have to buy a Wii; Twilight Princess is being released in a Gamecube version as well, if you want to put off buying Nintendo's new console in favour of investing in other games.

You're right, though. Many of us could very easily spend a good $500 this fall and still not possess all of the games that are on the roster. It's sad, because for me, there are so many games that I want to try out, but they'll have to take the back seat for the games I KNOW will be great.

One thing is for sure: I'm buying Disgaea 2 next week. My brother is buying Xenosaga: Episode III. Afterwards, Dragon Quest Heroes and Contact are being released on the same day as well. Do I, or don't I? Hmm. Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria follows just a bit later (this takes us to about, oh, a month from now), and right after THAT, we have Phantasy Star Universe (allegedly), Children of Mana, which apparently comes out a DAY before Final Fantasy XII, if Gamespot is on the ball. Then, of course, Final Fantasy V and III are released boom-boom right after that. Somewhere in there, the newest Tales game and the sequel to Baten Kaitos will be released as well. This giga-list is made up only of RPGs, though! There are so many non-RPGs that I wish I could play, too, with Megaman ZX, which comes out in less than a month, and Yoshi's Island 2, which will be on store shelves just a breath ahead of FFIII.

Time to take a breath myself. I really need to do a budget.



Final Fantasy IX, Fire Emblem, and more!


Well, I'm back. (In the words of Samwise Gamgee.)

And it's good to see you back as well, Matt. For some strange reason I completely missed the part where you told us you'd be gone for an entire week, and I was wondering what the hell was going on for a few days. (Not to discredit Roku, he did an excellent job).

Matt

Yep. Sorry about my little disappearing act, but you're absolutely right. Roku did a very good job! Give him a round of applause! I'll even clap a few times from behind my monitor (for real... you do it and I'll do it too).

I recently finished both FFIX and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, both of which I greatly enjoyed.

Matt

Very good to hear! So, what did you think?

FFIX really had me going for a while, but after reaching the end and judging the game as a whole, I find it to be inferior to others such as VII and VIII. The plot was very engaging, but had a few things that just kept it from being great. Kuja, I'm afraid to say, is one of the worst examples of villainry in the Final Fantasy series. The guy just never did anything genuinely hateable. And strangely enough, for a main villain, his involvement in the game's plot seemed quite small. To me, Seifer and Edea in FFVIII were better than he was.

Also, the sudden, dramatic plot twist towards the end of disc 3 concerning Zidane and his origins was just too much, too quickly, and it was more confusing than anything else. On top of that, it came off as nothing more than a rip-off of Cloud's story from FFVII. But overall I have to give it high marks; it was a great game, just not as great as certain others in the series.

Matt

Possibly. I don't know, Oliver, there was something about him that I just really liked for some reason. I know that the quality of Kuja's villainry can be a touchy topic with some people and is oft-debated in here, and certainly, there have been stronger antagonists in the past. I'd say that the abrupt storyline twist pales in comparison to the one on Disc 3 of Final Fantasy VIII, where you get to a certain location and you're basically told "Look, we'll just tell you what's going on; you don't have to care or anything, just believe it, and hey, go to the Lunar Base if you want to advance the story." The sad part is... that's not even that big of an exaggeration, is it? The Compression of Time business comes out of absolutely nowhere!

I agree, though; it's often "sub-villains" that provide better characters than main ones. Seifer and Edea come to mind, but what about Golbez from FFIV? Brahne of IX? Seymour of X? There are all sorts of other examples from beyond the Final Fantasy series too, of course.

I loved Fire Emblem, and I definitely want to check out other games in the series. Considering the fact that I am in posession of a GameCube, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance may finally give me an opportunity to blow the dust off and plug it in again. One thing's for sure; next time I play a FE game, I will absolutely refuse to let ANYONE die. For you see, over the course of the SS, quite a few of my units died, and I foolishly just pressed on, unwilling to reset. It happened gradually, and by the end of the game I was rather unaware of just how many people had died. And so, during the ending, when they gave little epilogues for each character, my heart sank lower and lower when I saw just how many simply said "Fell in battle at ____".

*Laments his failure to properly guide and preserve his precious units*

Matt

Awwww. Yeah, it is sad, isn't it? When I played The Sacred Stones, I employed that strategy, resetting the game whenever a unit would fall. This time, though, I decided to do the opposite! I wanted to feel the sadness and loss I'd feel if a unit were to die; I wanted to feel genuine panic if a much-beloved unit was precariously hanging in the balance, and not annoyance (i.e. "noooooooooo!" versus "ugh, now I have to restart the battle"). I'm playing the first GBA Fire Emblem right now, and I've only lost one character so far. I think that that feeling of loss (or real danger of loss) can be key to handling situations with utmost care and treating combat as if it were MORE REALER, as my young cousins might say.

So....on the subject of backlogs.....I don't have one. There's a very simple and effective trick to this, Matt; you start a game, and you play it to the end. Unless the game just sucks, I do not give up on games and go off to something else. I know a lot of people quit playing games because they're stuck. There's a simple solution: check a guide. Checking a guide just to figure out where to go, or how to solve a puzzle, or how to beat a boss, is infinitely preferable to just giving up. Maybe I just have more self-control than most, I dunno. But I have never in my life had a problem with backlogs.

Matt

Yeah, but what happens if real life gets in the way? School, work, socializing, relationships, TV shows... they're all bad, bad, bad for RPGaming! And then what happens? New games come along and steal the sunshine. This is exactly what happened with Radiata Stories, by the way. I kept trying to be into it, but I couldn't make much progress, and then blammo! Other more interesting games came along. I really should get through RS before I grab Disgaea 2... (why did I impulse-buy Grandia III again?)

So....on the subject of replaying old games....I CAN'T DO IT! I am driven by this mad desire to play each and every quality game out there, and this goal unfortunately does not give me time to replay games. For instance, when Advent Children came out, I was siezed by a sudden desire to replay FFVII. But alas, this never came about, because I simply could not justify spending 30+ hours on a game I've played already when I could be playing something I've never played before, and thus expanding my horizons.

Matt

See, that's a time sink for me. I couldn't live without replaying the occasional game. One might have guessed by the SOCK question the other day, but I'm currently replaying the original Dragon Warrior, as I feel compelled to do every now and then. Final Fantasy VII has been really attractive lately, though, too. I wish there were more hours in the day and fewer responsibilities in my life...

About finding time to play games: well, Matt; the truth is that I have no social life outside of my work. This, in turn, allows me to devote quite a healthy chunk of time to games. This, of course, raises a question that I simply cannot answer. What came first: my lack of social life, or my addiction to games? In other words, am I able to play so many games due to a lack of social life, or do I lack a social life because I play so many games?

Bah, I need no companionship.

Matt

You've got us~ <3

Jeeze, there's been a lot of talk about Chain of Memories lately. I think I've stated my opinions before, but COM has its redeeming qualities. And if you are interested in playing the Kingdom Hearts games, you absolutely must play it in order to fully understand the story. That alone makes it worth playing, to me at least. I've just recently spent $85 on games, and KHII was among them. I've yet to play it however. (Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones has taken priority for the moment.)

Matt

See!? You DO have a backlog, good sir. Admit it!!

Speaking of Prince of Persia, I simply must take this opportunity to give you my wholehearted recommendation of the series. I know it's not an RPG, but I just know you'd love it if you gave it the chance. The action/platforming gameplay is some of the best in gaming, and on top of that, it tells quite a decent story. (Something we RPGamers value.) Read up on it, and if you ever have the time, give it a chance. (In case you're wondering, The Sands of Time is the first, Warrior Within is the second, and the Two Thrones is the third. Don't even think about playing them out of order.)

Matt

Prince of Persia has always seemed like an interesting game. I saw it for the first time when my old roommates decided to give it a rental about, oh, two years ago now. I'm afraid that time is not something I'm going to have a lot of in the next eight months or so, but you never know. Maybe a TIME BOMB will explode over us and give some extra weeks, seconds, and hours to work with. Yeeeee, that was bad.

Xenosaga III is five days off, Matt. Are you going to pick it up first day? And I don't know if you've heard, but Namco has effectively stated that if III sells well enough, future episodes may be in store. How would you like to see the Xeno series continue?

(Oliver still has to play Episode II.....)

Matt

I'd absolutely love to see it go on, if at all possible, and I'm sure that thousands of other fans would be equally delighted. I've heard incredible things about Episode III as well, and my brother will be picking it up on release day from the Chatham EB Games, while I buy Disgaea II from Guelph's EB Games. We'll each play our own, and then perform a "great exchange" once we're done. Hopefully that'll serve to save us $50 each.

Hmmm....I'm surprised at how little mail concering Dirge of Cerberus has been sent. I dunno if you've read any reviews, but they aren't any more positive than the Japanese reviews. (7/10 from IGN and a lowly 6/10 from GameSpot.) It seems to me that this just goes to show that Square Enix doesn't know how to make a good shooter. Not that we can blame them.

Now that I think about it, they don't know how to make action games either...so why was Kingdom Hearts such a success? I have played both Dirge and Kingdom Hearts, and in all honesty, KH's hack-and-slash system is far clunkier than Dirge's shooting. (I spent quite a bit of time with Dirge at the game store, thanks to a friendly clerk. I certainly hope he wasn't dissapointed when I ended up not purchasing the game.) I will probably buy Dirge, but not until the distant future when the price has dropped considerably. Basically, I just want to play it for the story. (Plus, Vincent is one of my all-time favorite FF characters.)

Matt

It sounds, though, from everything I've heard, that the story is rather disjoint from the original plot of FFVII. Nearly everyone who played the demo at E3 knew that the game was destined for mediocrity as far as gameplay is concerned, though hopefully it isn't a complete waste of developer power.

Kingdom Hearts is a success for... well, I don't really know why. What is so likable about Kingdom Hearts games? Some people will say that it's the plot, and others will say that it's the intermingling of all sorts of different worlds, and still others believe that it has to do with the unique characters. Few say that it's for the engaging battle system, that's for sure. The game isn't for me, but there's something about it that has attracted millions of gamers to the series. What is it? Well, answer me! I know there are hundreds of fans reading this very sentence who could quite easily write in. DO EET!

Here's a quicky: if you could choose one character from the Final Fantasy series to devote a solo game to, who would it be? (Besides Vincent, of course.) Hmm.....I know FF7 is being beaten to death, but I would love to see a solo game for Sephiroth that focused on him and the time he spent in the employment of Shinra. It could also shed some light on his undoubtedly abnormal childhood.

Until my next writing,
Oliver.

Matt

Oh, man. Yeah, Final Fantasy VII has been beaten to death, you're right, so I'm going to search outside the realm of that game for this one. Out of all the characters in the Final Fantasy series, I'd have to say that I'd love to see a game that focuses squarely on Rydia, and her time spent in the Land of Summoned Monsters. Wouldn't that be neat? Other great candidates: Galuf and the Warriors of Dawn, in a game about the battle that took place 30 years before FFV occurs; Shadow in a game covering either his life before OR after FFVI occurs; I'm sure there are many other possibilities that would be lots of fun! A game about Sephy would indeed be really neat, too.

Thanks, Oliver, for your thoughts. Write again sometime soon!





THE NEXUS

Tum te tum. Oh, I'm going to be participating in Ouro's next rendition of THONG, coming soon to a weekend Q&A column near you. I highly suggest you get involved too, because I think that there are some potentially wonderful prizes in store!


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to August 22nd's Questions

#288. b) The second feather from the top - 525 points
This is the case in the english language manual, anyway. If anybody has a counterexample from an international version, take a picture and send it in, and I'll credit you with the points as well!

#289. a) who challenges everyone to a duel, can be made to serve - 500 points/1,000 for JuMeSyn
This is a reference to a set of instructions given by a skeleton in Shining the Holy Ark. Thanks, JuMeSyn, for the submission! Not many people got this one...



Today's New Questions

#290:
Levante General Store in the Beast Pit has a sign out in front. On that sign is a crude drawing that looks almost unmistakably like the mascot of what real-life product? (560 points)

a) General Mills Lucky Charms
b) Energizer Batteries
c) Vlasic Pickles
d) Frito-Lay Cheetos
e) Planters Peanuts


Reader-Submitted #291:
The odd sentence "Stop gnawing on my leg to faraway times" is most closely associated with which of the following months? (500 points)

a) October
b) December
c) February
d) April
e) June


And one of you has created and summoned our very first monster! It's a Cacnea! Beware, all, for its prickly might could spell disaster. Or, at least, it could spell C-A-C-N-E-A. Either way, our first summon is now in play. Best of luck to everyone!



SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

2,000 points: Fire Spell (2 left), Blizzard Spell (1 left), or Water Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Aux. Point Generator (2 left), Regen Spell (2 left), or Point Doubler (2 left)
5,000 points: Slowra Spell (2 left), Reflect Spell (1 left), or Blind Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Vanish Spell (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), Call Bead (2 left), or Killer Sword (1 left)
19,000 points: Esuna Spell (3 left), Point Tripler (2 left), or Drainra Spell (2 left)
25,000 points: Summon Encyclopedia (2 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)

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

Thanks, everyone, for reading once again! Just so you know, Tuesday we'll have our SOCK veteran, BigWook, at the helm as our very first full guest host! If you want to send him any letters, now would be the best time to do so.

Otherwise, I'm sure that there are lots of topics ripe for the picking. I'd like to give a hand to the "underdog RPGs" of this fall, though, over the next few days. Are there any games that look to be really great, even though they might not be the ones that everyone seems to be drooling over? Are you looking forward to some other game much more than Final Fantasy XII or III? Tell me what you're thinking about, and you might just make it into Q&A one day soon!

Bye, everybody!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is having a devoid o' energy day!


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Whee! I actually passed a few more missions in Radiata Stories today, and I passed the 20 hour mark of playtime. How much further do I have to go...?

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About the Host

Quote Archives

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. Final Fantasy V

4. Disgaea II

5. Final Fantasy XII

SOCK's Top 35:

CACNEA
-HP: 3,750-
----------
1. Aurelius
27,105 pts

2. Kanato
24,174 pts

3. JokingChimer
22,242 pts

4. Erika
21,921 pts

5. Alan Tse
20,870 pts

6. DMJewelle
20,116 pts

7. Cap
15,173 pts

8. LufiaLvr
15,140 pts

9. Leaper
14,843 pts

10. Belthasar2
14,518 pts

11. Arros Raikou
12,619 pts

12. TV's Adam
11,651 pts

13. Dermot
11,636 pts

14. DDX
11,309 pts

15. Tabor
10,426 pts

16. Colabottle
9,175 pts

17. Alexander
8,725 pts

18. BigWook
8,705 pts

19. Purelunatic
8,510 pts

20. JuMeSyn
7,994 pts

21. CW
7,566 pts

22. Draconn
7,537 pts

23. Megan
7,344 pts

24. BLG
7,138 pts

25. Boojum
5,970 pts

26. Gilgamesh
5,675 pts

27. FinalDelerium
5,557 pts

28. Macstorm
5,175 pts

29. Xlash
5,001 pts

30. Flamethrower
4,863 pts

31. Ourobolus
4,815 pts

31. Hunter B
4,723 pts

33. Erunion
4,653 pts

34. Thinkfreemind
4,350 pts

35. Gaijin
4,203 pts

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