Wraith to the Finish
August 25, 2006
Matt Demers - 20:51 EST
FOUR MONTHS 'til Christmas! Yeah, this year has flown by like a goose in the cold. On the other hand, though, it seems like it's been far longer than a year that I've been working here, pretending to know things and bringing you silly competitions and such.
First, I have a really bad headache for some reason, and I've had it all day. Grr. Anyone have a Cid-mallet that I could club myself over the head with to try and cudgel my nerves into submission? *kbh kbh*
Second, there are a remarkable number of fruit flies hovering around tonight, and I have no idea why. There isn't any more garbage than usual, and the place doesn't stink...as far as I can tell.
Thirdly, let me provide a friendly reminder to all SOCK players: I know that a lot is at stake, but try not to take the game too seriously! Bad stuff is bound to happen from time to time, but who knows? Your luck could turn around at any moment, so don't get too down! If you're really cheesed by the actions of another, nothing says that you can't try firing back in a big way one day! May the man or woman with the best strategy win!
Anyway, let's jump into the last letters of the week, shall we? We'll worry more about SOCK at the bottom.
OK, forget about waiting until the bottom.
Goodafternoon Matt, (And possible Bigwook)
My first question today concerns the SOCK. Is it possible to have a sell
shop where we can sell our items for points. A fire spell can be worth 500
points for example whilst an Ultra Sneak Glove could be 1200 poiints. Armors
with only half there remaining DF points would be worth half there cost and
Nope. You're stuck with them. Unless...you can find a summon that might be able to help you out in that department. If there were dozens and dozens of possible creatures to summon, you'd think dear ol' Matt would have thought of something along those lines, wouldn't you?
Would you really want to sell an Ultra Sneak Glove for a measly 1,200 points, though? I'd charge a lot more than that!
How cool does the new Wii Harvest Moon look. (Noting that i'm still waiting
for Magic Melodies).
Bainick, I haven't really seen much about it yet, I'm sorry to say. Unfortunately, Nintendo has been a bit tight-lipped on most of its Wiidom over the past few months, and none of its game developers have said anything worth writing home about. My only hope is that they come forward soon, and give us some more information!
It looks like you'll be able to walk whilst watering this time, saving
preciouse time. And it seems that there's going to be a visible energy bar
too, which could be helpful in those log cutting moments!
Boy, I remember back when I worked on the farm at home in summers past... cutting wood definitely does a number on the old energy meter, let me tell you. x_x
Anywho i'l still be playing Pokemon for the next few weeks, whilst my RPG
collection gains more Squarenix games and the odd other game so until then.
Bainick's footy team still has a mathamatical chance of making the finals!
Another day of guesses
Speaking of Pokémon, I just can't WAIT to play Diamond/Pearl. It's my first real 2007 RPG lust, and it's inspired me to do a bunch of research. I almost want to go get Fire Red or Leaf Green, now, because I never before realized that they were fully compatible with Ruby and Sapphire, which is the impression I've gotten from sniffing around online. I might be 23 years old, but Pokémon still drives me wild with happiness!
Thanks, Bainick, for the letter! I thought at first that I'd save it for BigWook, but, well, he'll have lots of others to deal with on Tuesday.
Too much of a good thing?
What the heck were S-E thinking, releasing three FF games in two weeks? I am getting Final Fantasy III and XII but not V Advance because I don't want to get too many FF games in a short amount of time. I just hope both of them sell well in the US, don't you agree?
Certainly I hope they do! There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that III and especially XII will sell fantastically, but I'm worried that V is going to fall through the cracks. I'm looking forward to V incredibly, because the only official translation that we've ever received of the game was on a shoddy Playstation port with more load time than likability. This is setting up to be a full remake in the same flavour as last year's Final Fantasy IV, and I can't wait. Needless to say, though, I'm really excited for the other two as well, and I will be purchasing all three of them upon their releases.
The Phantasy Star parallel universe, by Strawberry Eggs
Hello Matt and welcome back! ^_^
I know I sent a letter to Roku last week and I typically only send one once in a while, but after reading Boojum's letter I couldn't help but start comparing both your experiences with Dragon Warrior with my experience with another early RPG: the original Phantasy Star.
Great to hear! The floor is yours, m'dear.
As I mentioned in a previous letter, I for the large part have missed out on the early days of RPGs, as I started with the first Pokemon generation and going from there. However thanks to GBA remakes and other, shall I say, less than legal measures, I was able to play a few of the classics. Among these were Phantasy Star I-IV (I-III on the GBA collection and IV by the previously mentioned "less than legal measure"). I bought them since shortly before I was playing Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II for the GCN and I wanted to see just how the stories connected. Needless to say, there's still debate over whether they are connected or whether it's a Final Fantasy-type thing. I personally believe they are connected and PSO occurs after the original series, but I'm not going into details or else you'll be getting a five to seven page paper on it. >_<
Well, we can't all have gotten on the train at the same point, can we? A lot of people got on at the Pokémon stop, like yourself, and I'm more than happy that you're on-board now!
Anyway, that's not the point. As I was reading the letter, I couldn't help but feel the same way you do about DW/DQ as I did with PSI. I never realized it before, but Phantasy Star was one of the few games I played where the whole world was pretty much open to you from the beginning. Sure you needed a vehicle to cross the ocean and a spaceship to travel to the planets Motavia and Dezoris, but those are more natural boundaries, you know? There wasn't some guards in a town saying you couldn't pass, there wasn't a time when you approached a cave and have one of your party members say "What are you doing? We're suppose to be going to such-and-such-a-place." Instead right from the beginning Alice could explore the whole continent she was on, provided she could stand up to the higher level monsters.
Artificial blockades like that are just really annoying, because they immediately make the programming aspect glaringly obvious. "Maybe we shouldn't go here" might as well be replaced by "Ugh, we don't want to have to program a scenario for if you visit this place too early. Go away!"
Now that did cheese me off in the beginning. I couldn't believe that not a few steps from the first town were these winged scorpions who could kill you unless you were able to pop a few colas and burgers. I learned the hard way to stay out of that patch and instead stick to a small wooded area with weaker monsters (unlike DW, when you die in PSI, you had to start from wherever you last saved, none of that merciful continue-where-you-left-off-with-half-your money stuff. >_< At least it made up for it by allowing you to save anywhere anytime. Well actually now that I recall, there is a nasty glitch in the GBA version where it would occasionally crash while saving! As you can imagine, that was the source of much hair-pulling >_<). However I found an easy way around that: level up high enough that they're no longer a bother.
Ah, so Lunar isn't the only save-anywhere game? Good to know.
I had problems saving my game occasionally with both Star Ocean: The Second Story AND Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. I nearly wet myself when I had played through almost all of SO:TtEoT and saved, only to find the words "File corrupted" staring me back in the face. How do I describe the feeling? It was a little bit of rage, a lot of panic, and a sudden spurt of religiousness. I ended up being able to save on a different file, but what a scary thing to have happen!
I typically level-up high enough so that the monsters are usually not as bother but while it is satisfying to crush your enemies utterly, I'm also a tad impatient, so I don't over-level too much. Yet it's with these early games where earning enough levels was a hard thing to do. Max level in Phantasy Star was a mere 30, but it took a long time and several heard of Mammoths on Dezoris to get to that level. Heck in Phantasy Star II, it took so long to go up a level I stopped trying to reach level 50 before the last boss and beat it on 42! That whole system of dividing the total amount of experience points between each of the party members (i.e. you earn 2,000 EXP from one battle, but with four party members they only earn 500 each! ><). I quite like in the newer games where everyone earns the same amount of experience.
That sort of thing doesn't really matter to me, as long as you still receive just enough experience to make things bearable. It DOES make sense, doesn't it? A battle with four or five characters on your side is going to be a lot simpler for all involved than a battle with just one or two.
I have some other complaints, but before I keep rambling, let me just say what it is I'm trying to get at: even younger RPGamers such as myself can appreciate old school RPGs like DW and PS. Even though someone from my generation would've been exposed to the earlier generation consoles, due to various reasons my first console was actually an N64 and I didn't become a serious RPGamer until I got a GameCube. Yet was I jaded by playing games with pretty graphics, voice-acting and complex story. Nope! Playing the original Phantasy Star games was some of the most fun I've ever had. I also love comparing these older games to the more recent generation and seeing just how they have evolved. I have to admit though, I'll probably still love newer games like Tales of Symphoia and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance more than Phantasy Star or Earthbound, but that's mostly due to me loving a good story with well-developed characters and not simply because they are old. As you can imagine, I have quite a few games in mind to download from the Wii's virtual console! ^.^
Well, I'm glad to hear that you have an open mind! Of course there are many things to love about newer games. They've evolved from those old ones; they've taken what works and left behind what doesn't, they've learned what things make fantastic games and built truly epic experiences. RPGs will continue to grow into the future, I'm sure! I wonder what RPGamer's Q&A will look like thirty years from now, when we, the "old fogeys", will be talking about how we remember the good old days of Final Fantasy X and XII, and how you used to have to hold your controllers! *gasp*
That said, I can't help but think that you are of a special breed. A lot of people are into games only for their shiny shininess with little regard for anything but graphical yumyums and uncountable numbers of polygons per second. I don't understand them, but I guess I don't have to, either.
As for the release of three Final Fantasy games, well already XII is not on the list since I don't won a PS2 (as you might have gathered I pretty much stick to Nintendo since I have a limited budget and a love for their franchises). I actually already have a reserved on III because, well, an entirely re-done remake looks too awesome for words! As for V, goodness knows when. I still have yet to pick up FF I & II Dawn of Souls and IV Advance for Pete's sake! While I will pick them up (eventually) it's really FF III and VI Advance that I'm looking most forward too. III because mainly because of just how awesome it looks like it's going to be and VI because I heard so much about the many memorable and well-developed characters. As I said before, if there's one thing I love it's a cast of likeable, well-developed characters. ^_^ Hopefully those over-zealous Final Fantasy fans will quit badgering me and just because I not only is Crystal Chronicles still the only FF game I've played, but that I'm not afraid to consider it a favorite game.
Good for you, again.
I'm really interested to see what happens with the Final Fantasy VI remake. It was originally announced to be released this year along with FFV, but that never really happened. I'm starting to wonder if the future of the FFVI remake is going to depend heavily on the sales of FFV, as it will help to prove to Square Enix that the GBA is still a system worth spending time and money on. I'll be first in line to buy FFV, but if I can say the same thing about VI this time next year, I'll be really happy. Why should everyone, players and developers alike, just instantly forget about a trusty old handheld, just because something better comes along?
Ah yes, I just realized I didn't really ask a question in this entire letter. Ah wait, here's something that's just bugging me a bit. How long do you think I should wait for a possible Domestic release of Mother 3? I love Earthbound, and from what I heard about Mother 3, it's an excellent game too, but so far NoA is showing no signs of releasing the darn thing here! Should I wait a whole year from the Japanese release, a few more months until it looks like the GBA will really be dead or just forget it and import a copy now? I believe there are already mostly complete translated scripts so that I'll at least know what the heck is going on, but it's not the same thing as a legitimately translated game. I don't want to jump the gun. What do you suggest, Matt?
It's true, and I share your disappointment. I really wish that Nintendo would realize exactly how much I want this game. Yeah, I'm that important.
Damn. Or maybe not.
I dunno. I wish I could be more optimistic, but the lack of a Mother 3 translation is definitely my biggest disappointment of recent times, no question. If we get to the second quarter of next year and don't hear anything, I'd say that North Americans will have very, very little chance of being granted that treasure. Hummmm.
Eh, I think I've said enough for today. I apologize if this letter was a too long. Thanks again for reading, Matt. ^^
Don't apologize! I'm only glad that you took the time to write in, and I'm very happy to hear from you again! Have yourself a great weekend.
RPG music... and other songs that STEAL it!
Hey there, Matt
Have you had any weird instances where a song in an RPG reminds you of another one? There's an annoying one in Tales of Phantasia that reminds me a lot of a John Denver song, and I cringe when I have to hear it again and again... At least I don't get it stuck in my head, that would be awful.
Definitely. I've had that happen a lot in the past, but the funny part is that it's usually not me that makes the associations. It's usually someone else- my mom, my sister Diane, etc- that will suddenly say "Hey, that sounds like ____!!"
The one that immediately comes into mind is the most recent; I was playing Dragon Quest VIII over Christmas break, exploring a town, when my sister sauntered into the room and started singing "It's a world of laughter, a world of tears, it's a world of hopes, and a world of fears ... " I'm sure that a few other people noticed that the village theme of DQVIII sounds a little like It's a Small World After All, but I never did until that instant, when I started laughing in realization.
Someone else wrote in a few weeks ago about some familiar themes from Final Fantasy VII as well, and I know there have been some others I've stumbled across over the years. I guess that with thousands of themes out there at this point, there are bound to be some that are somewhat similar to certain pieces of non-RPG music! Can anybody think of any other examples?
Regional advantages strike again!
I feel kinda disadvantaged in SOCK, as a lot of the games you refer to are
either not available in PAL or just very very rare. Like Suikoden 1. Ł80 for
a PS1 game!
I'd do everything in my power to get more games released over there! Unfortunately, my power to do so is just about nil, and for that, I'm sorry. Eighty pounds is more than a bit ridiculous, though, and I can see why you and many others would be frustrated! You could always shoot for the PAL Suikoden in the SOCK, you know...
I can only tailor my questions to what I know. I hope that my Canadian RPG-upbringing doesn't pose too much of a problem for all PAL gamers out there in the contest!
Anyways, can anyone tell me if FFXII and FFIII have been confirmed for
Europe this Autumn? I'm getting worried that they may not come out here.
I don't blame you at all. I think, though, that they have a really, really good chance of making it. Final Fantasy is, after all, the current crux of RPGaming, and if you've received other games, these should certainly make the cut... shouldn't they?
After doing a little online scouting, it is rumoured that a PAL release could be in the works for before the end of the year. That's definitely, definitely not a guarantee though, so don't get mad at me if that's wrong! Unfortunately, nothing official has been announced yet. On the upside, I'd be utterly shocked if FFXII were not released in PAL regions, so just be patient.
FFIII has much the same story, I'm afraid, as no official release date has been given. The DS, however, is region-free, so even in the off-chance that it doesn't come out in Europe, you should be able to import with ease if you need to. Again, though, I'd be floored if it didn't see European store shelves sooner or later.
Genjuu may have a created a rip in the space/time continuum by reading over
7,000 pages in one night. LOTR and Steven Erikson books speed runs galore
Thanks for writing in, Genjuu!
Of snorlaxes, puppies, and popular mexican avocado dips
Well, thanks for the invite - I'll have to take you up on that sometime if
I'm ever in your neck of the woods. I'll even forgive you for calling me a
Mr. (that's Miss Guacamole to you!) And don't get me wrong from my previous
letter - I've been known to indulge in a fair bit of fangirling myself. Zell
and Irvine didn't occur to me, but I can totally see it adding some interest
to the main plot. Man, that game was so random. What's up with those Shumi
guys? Why is Squall's mascot lion a GF summoned by the final boss? I could
understand if your own party could summon it, but having it be Ultimecia's
seems to hint at a previous connection between her and Squall that's just
not supported in the plot. Why does Odin turn into that strangely colourful
new summon after Seifer slices it in half? And what's up with Fujin? She
could speak in proper English the whole time... the hell? The list just goes
on and on.
Gah! This has happened twice in one day, now. Knowing someone's gender is key to several things, including correct pronoun use, as I just told leaper earlier today. With all of these pseudonyms floating about, I sometimes have to make stabs in the dark. My apologies for presuming incorrectly, Miss Guacamole!
On the subject of Final Fantasy VIII, yes, it had a large number of random things. Surely, Final Fantasy games have always been big on randomness and coincidence, especially during the Super NES era. I mean, Ultros? Come now. And if you haven't played FFV before, there are so many very convenient coincidences that happen in that game, it's nearly "sickifying".
Yes, randomly being prevented from advancing to the next area is annoying.
The worst example, for me, is from the beginning of the first Golden Sun
game, where you can't leave town because there are puppies playing in the
middle of the road. See, not wanting to climb over 3 tons of pissed-off
Pokemon, I can see. I can even understand your party characters not wanting
to leave an area if something big is going on (and how much say do they
usually get in where your party goes, anyway? Usually it's just the
player/protagonist dragging them around from town to town.). But, God forbid
we disturb the puppies!
Heh heh. I totally hear ya. I seem to remember that Wild Arms Alter Code: F did something similar with little birdies suspiciously placed in front of narrow passages to treasure chests. Like tall, lanky Rudy couldn't just step over them! *grumble*
On the subject of backlogs, I justify mine because I won't be buying a PS3
for a while - maybe by the time I get through my backlog, they'll have
dropped the price to something reasonably affordable. And anyway, gotta grab
those rare PS2 games before they dissappear from store shelves entirely,
right? I've got a dozen or so games waiting to be played at the moment, the
latest additions being Xenogears (I've played it, but didn't have my own
copy) and Shadow Hearts: From the New World, which I managed to score from
my local anime convention for $40 and $35 Can. respectively. As for new
games, I'm definitely going to have to grab a copy of Xeno 3 (been meaning
to replay the first two back-to-back anyway) and the new Zelda. My sister
will go halfers on those with me (having a sibling who's also an RPGamer is
awfully convenient.) Anything else, I can wait till the price drops a bit.
Wel, I suppose I should turn in for the night now. Toodles!
Another Xenosaga fan! I've heard so many accounts that this game more than makes up for the shortcomings that I and II possessed that I'm more than pumped to play it. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until my brother beats it first. While our proposed system will save us a buck or two, it'll prevent me from playing one of my most-wanted games for a little bit longer!!
I don't blame you, though, for waiting on some of those games to feature price cuts. Plus, FFXII will almost certainly be slapped with a "Greatest Hits" label and sold for $20 two years from now. With the waning PS2 and dawn of the PS3, other games should be destined for steep price-drops as well over the year ahead.
Thanks, Guacamole, for writing in. And sorry, again, about that little mix-up. Eheheheheh...
Quiz time! Do I get a prize for getting it right...?
Matt, I finally got my Dirge of Cerberus, and I must say, the game is incredibly fun. Hey Matt, here's a question for you, just for fun. Can you guess which game I'm looking forward to most? If you've paid attention to what I talk about, it should be cake. I wanna see how your memory retention skills are. :D
I don't have a lot of time this mornin', but I promise to write a longer letter soon! Seeya!
Donovan! I'm glad to hear that someone is enjoying Dirge of Cerberus. The verdict on the street is that it's highly mediocre, but I'm starting to hear a few positive comments from gamers, which is a good sign. Hopefully it ends as good as it has started for you.
And... you're one of the relatively few people out there who is looking forward to Persona 3 the most this fall! Of course, you're not the only one. Believe it or not, just look at the coincidental next letter up in my inbox:
I was thinking about games most people aren't looking forward to, and
realized I'm getting excited about Persona 3. Sure, part 2 had flaws, but in
what other RPG can you hear someone unleash a slew of curse words at the
start of battle? I can't think of one.
Looks like they totally revamped the series with Persona 3 though. The
trailers really show off the battle system and art style, and the plot looks
looks really good. From what I can see, the game uses the same
religious-esque enemies as the Shin Megami Tensei series. The game's
creators said they aren't editing anything out of the U.S. translation,
which is also good.
Plus let's admit it, the Japanese occult is cool.
But how do you and other RPGamers feel about it? I haven't seen any reviews,
and I realize it won't be for everyone (just as Nocturne and DDS aren't),
but I don't think I can pass this one up.
Peace out trout,
Neat, eh? Persona 3 isn't a game that has gotten much attention lately, so I was definitely surprised when I got two e-mails in a row about it! I, personally, have no experience with the series, though if my brother is as big of a Shin Megami Tensei fan as he says he is, I'm sure he'd have a blast with Persona, too.
I played a bit of a demo at E3 back in May, but I never got much of a chance to before I got kicked off by the demo-guy to show some other magazine person the ins and the outs of the game. Boo! From what I saw, though, it looked pretty interesting, though apparently, your characters shoot themselves in the head in order to summon creatures, which creeped me out a little bit. When it first happened without warning, I think my mouth dropped a little bit in shock! What can I say... I'm an innocent farmer boy, through and through.
Anyhow, thanks Donovan and waterfiend, for taking time out to write into Q&A. I really appreciate the letters, and perhaps your desire for Persona 3 will rub off onto some other RPGamers out there!
It's actually still Thursday night as I sit here contemplating how long I should continue writing and when I should probably hit the hay. See, the problem with writing this column is that I have friends who want me to go to lunch and visit tomorrow. In other words, I have to do things well in advance! Alas for me, I suppose. I assure you that I wouldn't miss a day in Q&A for the world unless I gave you all good and proper notice!
I just thought of something scary. We're likely only two years away from having next-generation handhelds unveiled. How stupid does that sound?
For complete contest rules, click here!
Answers to August 24th's Questions
#290. e) Planters Peanuts - 560 points
I was playing through last night when I stumbled across this. Wow! How bizarre. But it's definitely good ol' Mr. Peanut on the sign, even if he lacks the monocle. Good job, to everyone who got this one correct!
#291. c) February - 500 points/1,000 for BLG
If you're wondering how in the heck that phrase could have anything to do with February, click on the Q&A archives, and the answer might just come to you. Thanks, BLG, for coming up with this one!
Which of the following items is not one of the rare treasures of Sindarin?
a) A Gauntlet
b) A Ring
c) A Book
d) A Crown
e) A Cross
In the platform level "Castles - Masterpiece Set", the first stone brick
formation in mid air looks most like which of the following?
I'd like to inform everybody that for the very first time, a few items are up for sale as prizes. That's right! from this day forth, I'm actually allowing you to spend your points to obtain items that might prove to be quite handy for you. I've also made some things more clear about summons in the rule guide. Best of luck, as always!
Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!
2,000 points: Fire Spell (2 left), Quick Spell (2 left), or Water Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Aux. Point Generator (1 left), Regen Spell (1 left), or Point Doubler (2 left)
5,000 points: Slowra Spell (2 left), Reflect Spell (1 left), or Fira Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Vanish Spell (2 left), Damage Deflector (2 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)
(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!
SOCK will return next Tuesday, but I will not. That's because BigWook, our first full guest-host, will be taking my place for the day! Tune in, and see what he has to say. Otherwise, I'm finished for this week, so I have no choice but to hand you over to Ourobolus. You're in good hands!
Thanks for a great week, everybody. I shall return soon!
***Matt died at the hands of a Wraith Knight...
They're so, SO much more powerful than any other monster in the game to that point. It doesn't matter how many times I play Dragon Warrior... The strength of Wraith Knights will always, always take me by surprise!
Aug. 24: Matt
Aug. 23: Matt
Aug. 22: Matt
Aug. 21: Josh
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. Final Fantasy V
4. Disgaea II
5. Final Fantasy XII
SOCK's Top 35:
6. Alan Tse
11. Arros Raikou
13. TV's Adam
28. Hunter B