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ASK MATT
Eleventh Hour August 31, 2006

Matthew Demers - 17:24 EST

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE periods of time when I don't really feel motivated to do much at all. I have a thesis to figure out how to write, and mountains of scholarship paperwork to do. Indeed, it would make a lot more sense to get this stuff done now, before my new class begins in less than two weeks, but alas, the world of logic rarely wins when my backside could instead be glued to a chair somewhere. I tried my best to get something done today. I'll try again tomorrow.

And now, I'll make use of this glued-behind-time by answering some of your questions and answers! Doesn't that sound like fun for all?




LETTERS
Another account from a Dirge player!


Heya, Matt!

I, as many others, have just recently finished playing Dirge of Cerberus. I also think the game is not great, but it is quite entertaining. The customization of guns is interesting in the beginning, but only until I realized that Cerberus was the only weapon I really cared about, with the exception of Hydra on a few sniper enemies. The story is, as the rest of the game, not great, but with some very nice moments. In the end it wraps up greatly Vincent's shadowy past.

Matt

I've heard that issue about the weapons briefly in a couple of other reviews I've read online.

Hopefully the plotline was able to make up for the weak parts!

All in all I was happy with the game when I started it. The graphics were great, the music had some nice pieces, the controls were not bad at all (it must be way better to play with a mouse and keyboard, but I never got to connect them). Well, I was satisfied. Until my brother got home. He's a great fan of FPSs and FF7, so he was very interested to play this one.

Matt

Wow! Someone who doesn't think that the controls are terrible! Maybe someone should take you to a lab and have you studied!!

Indeed, the game appears to be much nicer to control, any way you cut it, when hooked up with computer equipment. How would one do this? Ya got me, honestly. Hopefully there's an explanation of how to do so in the instruction manual.

I excitedly resetted to show him some of the initial parts of the game. And then... The HORROR! I select game start, only to realize the game suffers from the disease of only ONE save slot. Small differences aside, the save system is much like the one in the first Drakengard. And, as happenend with Drakengard, my brother simply has to wait for me to finish the game, including extra stuff, and then delete my save. Only then he can start a true new game. I don't know if it's the same with you, but for me it's nowhere near the same thing when you play from the start of a fresh "new game" compared to simply selecting the stages someone else played and unlocked before you. And it wouln't really work on Dirge because of the tempsave feature anyway...

In the end, my brother didn't care so much that he couldn't start playing immediately, but I got pissed. Do game designers think we don't have family or friends that are also interested to play the same game as you without having to destroy a save? It's so ironic... On some games (from the same softhouse) you get 100 save slots, on others, only a frustrating one with a obligatory and sometimes badly positioned auto save feature. It's almost like not having soft reset on KH2 when you had it on the first one... *sigh* Why they do that to us?

Matt

Wow... that's absolutely idiotic, especially if you have a memory card inserted with copious amounts of free space, like all four of mine do. Why would they design something that way? I really can't answer that question, since there's no real reason that I could think of other than if its save files took up more than 4 MB of space, which I'm positive is NOT the case.

It seems like such a stupid reason to detract from a game; such an easily remedied one, too, I'd imagine. Not that I'm experienced in video game development... it just seems like a simple thing to design.

Putting that aside, what are your thoughts on Contact for the DS? I'm anticipating it for some time. I think the game has that nice Earthbound carisma along with the quirky humour and dialogue I always like so much in games. It was supposed to come out september 19th and now it's stated for a october release, but oh well... Since there's so much stuff coming out in september I can't really complain. I heard that it didn't sell much in Japan, but I suppose it has to do with Mother 3 being released close to it.

Matt

I didn't really know much about it until some friends of mine on RPGamer's staff told me a few details. It does sound like it could be a well-needed "Earthbound replacement," with a kooky, light-hearted feel. I'd really love to get my hands on it when it hits stores, but I'm afraid that like many other lower-profile games, most people will just glaze over it amidst other big titles like Final Fantasy XII and III.

About Children of Mana, the aspect I'm most looking forward to is the multiplayer! I just hope it's a story mode cooperative, and not only restricted to special areas... The same goes for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. It would be GREAT to play a old school gameplay Castlevania game with a true co-op story mode <3! It has always been the type of multiplayer I have most fun with. What about you, what kind of multiplayer you like the most?

-Franklin

Matt

I'm with you all the way! Multiplayer Secret of Mana was just too much fun, and even though most people didn't capitalize on the chance, I positively loved the games where you could assign a couple of characters to a Player Two in the couple of Final Fantasy games that adopted that feature.

Of course, I also love crazy multiplayer kill-each-other mayhem. Does anyone out there NOT love Super Smash Brothers?

I guess in the end, I like cooperative multiplayer modes too, but they're just so rare. We need more, and I'm with you in the hopes for Children of Mana!



What's your status?


Hey Matt!

If you don't mind, I'd love to take a stab at the status question from yesterday. While I know there are barrier and shell type spells, I would love to see a spell that completely avoids all physical attacks. You would become semi-transparent, and all non-magic attacks would pass right through you. With the graphics they have today, that could be a cool effect, a sword passing right through you, and the like. I'd call it "Mist," or something comparable. There's already a reflect status, although that could be really nifty looking with current gen effects.

Matt

Interesting! And it could look really cool. There's already a status that does that in Final Fantasy games though: Vanish, unless I'm mistaken, causes all attacks to miss, though the user is still vulnerable to magic. It'd be neat if your "Mist" status came with another bonus, like a guaranteed ability to run away or something, since enemies couldn't very well block your way out, could they?

I kind of miss the old float spell. I don't remember that being around for a while. Have some giant area effect earthquake type spell, and your people could avoid it if you were up in the air, but you would be exposed to wind spells. I don't know why I liked it so much, maybe because it brings back fun FFIV memories.

It took me forever to remember where the title of your column came from, then I read the first Sock question and I remembered.

296) C) Vile (and she's really clinical in her analysis of it, if I remember right)
297) C) Dragon Quest III

Thanks!

BigWook


Matt

I miss the Float spell, too! I think it was in Final Fantasy IX last, but I'm not entirely sure; it could very well have been in FFXI, but I'll never know. I liked that it was so specific, but I liked even more when it was useful outside of battle, in FFIV! What a novel idea.

Thanks for writing in, BigWook, and thanks again for the great column back on Tuesday!



Some of these hypothetical questions are impossibly hard to answer.


Congrats on finally conquering Radiata Stories! I got the non-human path ending and it was indeed brief, but, as I understand it, it's the better ending of the two; I haven't gotten around to a second playthrough so I can't say for myself. Anyway, I'm sure it'll be nice to take that off your backlog list, huh?

Best, Erika


Matt

Erika, I'm thrilled! And for a couple of reasons: Even though it didn't have the best ending in the world, I still really enjoyed the game. It'd be really cool to go back down the human path one day to see what could have happened, and I'm sure that knowing tri-Ace, there is bonus material a-plenty strewn about. All in all, this was definitely one of 2005's better games, and I'm glad that I had the chance to play through it. I'm also elated, of course, because I didn't really think that it would get finished at all, and I just knew that if I didn't get it done before the end of August, it wouldn't get done at all.

So, happy day! Thanks for writing, as always, Erika!



Another Lunar player, with an avocadoey limey twist!


Hi Matt

Hey, you're forgiven for confusing my gender - I know I have a fairly gender-neutral nickname.

Matt

Well, thanks!

I hope that I don't have to elaborate on my gender; I promise that I'm not a "Matilda" or some obscurely uncommon feminine version of Matthew. Interestingly, when I took over the column almost a year ago now, I decided to go with "Ask Matt" rather than "Ask Wonderslime" just because the latter sounded too silly. Imagine... me thinking that something would sound too silly? GEDASHBRAUHKEN!

Ah yes, I just finished LSSC recently myself. The story wasn't anything terribly special, but the dialogue was indeed great. I love the random kid that asks you how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop, that one village full of inbred yokels, and, my favourite line: "Oh, God, the stories are true... I've gone blind!" (I'm probably misquoting that.) Pity about the voice acting, though (I'm looking at YOU, Ghaleon's voice actor.) I'm surprised nobody mentioned Jessica in that discussion of strong female characters - she's a white mage who fights with a frikkin' mace!

Matt

No kidding! She was at least as powerful as the main character for a good part of the game. I was really impressed that they put a fun little spin on the typical white mage for a change!

But you're absolutely right here: The translation is what made this game a joy to play. Sure, the voice acting was typical anime awfulness, but the random Abba references? They made me smile from ear to ear, along with so many other things. I really should have kept a list of quotable quotes as I played... *sigh*

I saw a used copy of Paper Mario: TTYD at my local EB and am debating whether to grab it. I know it's gotten rave reviews, but is it very platformer-y? I'm not big on platformers. I never did finish Mario 64 - I think I got as far as the second Bowser fight where I kept falling off the platforms and dying in flames, and I went "screw this." I guess I need a stronger plot than "I've baked a cake for you.. OH NOES, I've been kidnapped!" to keep me interested... Anyway, I have a big enough backlog and I wasn't going to buy any more games before the brokening begins next month, but for $25 Can., should I grab it?

unholy_guacamole


Matt

Oh, I wouldn't say that it's platformy at all, and for $25 Canadian, you don't really have a lot to lose. I really, really enjoyed the game, and while there are a few very minor platformy elements, it really doesn't feel like a platformer at all- the new abilities you get are more akin to new tools you get in, say, Wild Arms, that help you to open up new areas and get to new places. Though not everyone will agree with me, I thought the game was just hilarious, and hilariously fun. Both of 'em.

Thanks, Miss Guacamole!



*yawn* I'm tiiiiired.


First off, Dirge of Cerberus, I'm not a big fan of FPSs but I'm really liking this one. It really gets into Vincent's background. In FFVII I never used Vincent, but I think that was just because I never got attached to him. He was just some weird guy with a gun I found in a basement. This game is really making me want to play VII again.

Matt

I've had an itch to play Final Fantasy VII lately, too. Unlike a lot of other people, though, and much like yourself, I was never a big Vincent fan. His limit breaks were neat, but they were totally unsuitable for the few fights you needed limit breaks for because those same fights often require things such as emergency healing. Of course, in wacko-berserker state, there's no way that's happening if Vincent is cluttering up your party. His actual character was just kinda creepy, too.

And I've got a question about tales of the abyss, is it going to be multi-player like tales of symphonia? because that would be sweet. I loved that game I played through it a couple times on my own and then used the plus game feature to carry over all my skills and get 10X exp bonus. and me and my friend went through and compleated all of the side quests and optional bosses while being compleatly intoxicated. that was definatly the most i've passed out with a controler in my hand. good times.

but I really hope tales of the abyss is better than legendia. I don't know if it was the 2-D battle system but I really couldn't get into that game.

SuperKyle


Matt

The E3 screens are awesome, aren't they? But indeed, as has been proven in the past, a multiplayer mode would work extraordinarily well, and a lack of one would be quite disappointing indeed. My brother goes on and on about how he loved Symphonia's multiplayer aspect; he got my sister to play through from start to finish, and she really enjoyed it. This is twice in a single column now, but cooperative multiplayer options are like nothing else!

I'll bet, in any event, that we'll find out a few details soon, since we honestly haven't heard too much about the game up until this point; the release date of "October" is very quickly approaching!



Three-thousand topics, and so much more to cover...


Ahoj Matt!

Everyone is now duly warned. Pack the children away, put the dog outside, turn off the TV, put on the reading glasses. That earlier letter was an aberration, an exception. I have mustered the fortitude to compose another of my customary letters Ė all with short attention spans are hereby notified of what is to come! Stinking MTV video editors and their constant cutting, it has shortened the attention span of the general populace. Plus MTV hasnít played videos of songs I like in years. I hate you, MTV!

Matt

Uh-oh. And yeah, I never really got into the whole MTV thing, or its Canadian cousin, Much Music. I do have friends that could sit and watch it for extended periods of time, though...

Remember the rush of declarations involving the fascinating condiments used with fried potatoes? Iíll interject one weeks after the fact: the Dutch prefer mayonnaise on their fries. Dutch mayonnaise is rather sweeter than the stuff on the North American continent but never seemed quite right to me. Oh, and when ordering fast food in the Netherlands, remember that when asked whether you want ketchup or mayo with the food, itís not complimentary. Getting that condiment will run another quarter, which with the current exchange rate is something around 33 or 34 US cents.

Matt

So do the Quťbecois! As was evidenced by my last three trips to Montrťal, if you order fries in most restaurants, they come with a couple of little disposable containers of mayonnaise. I'll take my ketchup and salt, thanks. Or gravy, if I'm in the mood.

Now then: Old Business to be dealt with resulting from the fallout of my last letter. First up, I must admit to never noticing Link is a lefty. Everyone who pointed it out, you have my gratitude. I did recall Kain and Palom, and I suppose since they never show up on the opposite side of the screen as enemies (and thus are not subjected to sprite flipping by the programmers) count as lefties. Reno? I associate that name with the other source of income for the state of Nevada, though many factors less important than Las Vegas. If heís a lefty, superb. Now all we have to do is isolate where all the OTHER lefties are hiding in RPGs. I keep hammering away at this theme because Iíve seen too many instances wherein a character doesnít really do anything with the left arm, which seems rather wasteful.

Matt

Well, hey- it's more realistic that way. Maybe. I'll tell you one thing- if I ever tried wielding a sword in my left hand, I'd probably whack myself in the head.

(...note that the same would probably be true for my right hand, too, but we'll not worry about details...)

The consensus here seems to be that Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is best enjoyed between its two console installments. With that advice in hand I will eschew it for the time being in favor of more titles no one else reading Q&A has ever played. By the way Laurie, I am in fact male. I believe had I been born female my name would have been Karen, but I really donít want to get either parent off on another journey into the past of my being born.

Matt

Good to know. I'll scrawl that in my Big Book of reader genders right now, in fact.

Okay Bainick, I actually have looked at vgmusic before. Thing is, in any instance I prefer MP3 versus MIDI. Even with dial-up I prefer it because I frequently just download these things onto my hard drive for repeated listening. Every time I listen to MIDI outside of an actual RPG environment I feel like Iím hearing a cell phone ring tone, and those things evoke the original song without coming anywhere close to being worth the money phone companies want me to spend on them. So since Galbadia Hotel offers MP3s of an enormous number of titles, I like them. I actually stumbled onto the site several months ago when tracking down the fleeting Dragon Force 2 information to be found in English, where I found the gameís entire soundtrack Ė which clearly will never be released outside Japan.

Matt

I prefer MP3s too, though I definitely downloaded many more MIDIs back when I was living at home and condemned to dial-up of doom. MIDI files have a peculiar tendency to start sounding really wacky after awhile too; I tried doing research on it once, but I had no luck in finding out why they tend to "tune-out" after a certain amount of time, sounding bizarre and generally awful until the next re-boot. Luckily, I don't really have to worry about that anymore, now that I'm free to download MP3s at high-speed, um, speeds.

Since Bainick elaborated on his parental game experience, I guess Iíll elaborate a bit on my parents also (keep in mind they divorced 19 years ago, so not a bit of this is in the company of both when theyíve been in court before). My father, when I was much younger, would play the Ren & Stimpy game on Genesis which he enjoyed because it allowed him to slap Stimpy repeatedly Ė ĎYou Stupid Eeeeeediotí! I donít think heís played a thing save free computer games since the early 90ís though. As for my mother, I remember trying her out on a Genesis title perhaps 10 years ago but the controls were a bit too reflex-oriented for her to deal with it easily. And I can spy a Dutch name a mile away Ė go Bainick!

Matt

That's so fun! Whatever the reason might be, I've always been a bit over-interested in getting parents to play video games. I've been somewhat successful, too; while my dad is in no way addicted, my mom has actually received various games for Christmas in the past (Tetris Attack, Castlevania games for the NES) and even went out and bought her own Gamecube memory card just so that she could create a brand new town in Animal Crossing! She now plays a lot of sim games, and she's currently big on Brain Age for the DS.

And I have heard of Namco x Capcom. The licensing mess seems to forbid it being released in English however. The reviews indicate that itís best for those who desire copious fan service from both companies as the battle system isnít much fun.

Matt

Stupid rules of the corporate world. According to Wikipedia, it could be a variety of things though. Perhaps some of the characters were too obscure? Perhaps it's because the game didn't sell very well in Japan in the first place? Nobody seems to know for sure...

And now weíre ready to hit some new content! Letís start with this little link: http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/570/41. Listen to this track, Matt: itís a sample of the aural goodness to be found in Panzer Dragoon Saga, which if you owned a Saturn I might be tempted to mail to you just for the joy of the experience. This particular piece is played during a section where Edge, the dragon rider, is cruising through a section of Imperial-occupied airspace trying to defuse a city-destroying weapon. By the way, Quicktime may or may not be necessary to properly listen. And scroll down the page to the Ďclick hereí direction, as linking to the song itself will not work.

Matt

It works fine on Windows Media Player, too! Very exciting.

And yeah, sorry, I don't have a Sega Saturn, as you know. I don't know why I never owned a Sega System... I guess many of my friends and extended family members (and the Dragon Warrior grandma!) went the path of Nintendo, and I decided to follow. The path got me here anyhow, but I do wish that I had a bit more experience with those consoles. It's an alien world of gaming to me!

Have you ever heard of Hydlide, Matt? There appear to have been two titles on NES, one Super Hydlide on Genesis, and Virtual Hydlide on Saturn. I may soon sample Super Hydlide as a seller on eBay had it together with Sword of Vermillion, which I had sought for awhile.

Matt

Never! I haven't played it nor heard of it, JuMeSyn! Sorry to disappoint you, if that's disappointing.

Heheheh... "Virtual," though. I love it! It was such a mid-nineties buzzword that's so "cute" now.

Time to send internet searches some unexpected results: Michael Jackson. Anybody reading Q&A ever played Moonwalker on Genesis? Itís hardly an RPG but surprisingly is not that bad. All that must be surmounted is the concept: Michael Jackson saving the children. Bubbles makes appearances, saving children restores Michaelís health. The super move of making all enemies onscreen dance themselves to death is kind of funny though.

Matt

Oh. My.

Why wasn't this game released for the system with the Power Glove? I demand to know!!

Time for another musical link: http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/1012/10 Albert Odyssey on Saturn possesses some truly beautiful music, as I mentioned in my review of the title which may have been posted by now. This is an overworld theme with real violin playing Ė I encourage listening for people who want to be mellowed out!

Matt

Oooh. It is pretty. I get a bit of a Xeno and Chrono Cross feeling out of this one, but at certain times, I also get little bitty pinches of Disgaea, too! Am I crazy? Oh well. Very likable indeed!

Continuing the Saturn theme for awhile, Iím going to bring Princess Crown to your attention. Iíve already outlined quite a bit to Josh on this title (which may in fact be brought to English speakers on the PSP yet Ė stupid Sony). So Iíll speak of different things to you. I canít claim to understand the plot intricately, but this is a game where the hero is a heroine Ė and 13 years old at that. Gradriel is her name, and I know this because itís displayed in English text. According to what I gleaned somewhere on Gamefaqs, her senior twin sisters cannot be queen because there is a prohibition against twins in the nation of Vanadiel. And the final boss is enormous; it takes up the entire screen! One wouldnít at first glance think the name Larva to represent something overly threatening, but this is one massive monster.

Matt

Interesting. Sega games ARE like a parallel universe of gaming for me. I feel embarrassed when people like you ask me questions about them 90% of the time, because outside of Shining Force, I haven't played much. It definitely sounds... neato, though!

As for the PSP and Sony's stupid rules... well, I dunno. Surely, it'd be nice if more RPGs could make it across the Pacific, but not all is lost; PSP owners do have a few good RPGs to play and/or look forward to! Sony will be proven "stupid" if it becomes evident that the DS is beating it. I'm afraid that after this fall, it will be beaten to an utter pulp; at least in the eyes of RPGamers.

FAQs. I do my very best to avoid them when playing through a title for the first time, unless I become egregiously lost. But what is your stance on using FAQs for titles that are not in English? I know I probably would have wandered around endlessly in Princess Crown without a FAQ, Dragon Force 2ís main quests werenít hard to deal with but the item creation system is damn hard to navigate without a FAQ, there are a few parts in Seiken Densetsu 3 that are pretty much impossible to figure out if one doesnít speak Japanese (and I played the cartridge so Japanese knowledge was required)Ö the list goes on. Your commentary here is welcomed.

Incidentally, the ROM situation is not necessarily illegal. I blab on about ROMs frequently because I do in fact own the original cartridges of most of these titles. If one owns the original cartridge a ROM is perfectly legal to keep on oneís hard drive indefinitely. Without the original cartridgeÖ letís not delve too deeply here.

Matt

Enh... not having played many alternate-language games, I couldn't really say. I don't think I'd have the patience of sitting through a game trying to figure out what the heck's going on, only to go online and go "OHHHHH, so THAT's what happened!" It seems a bit silly, though I guess it's the only way for many people to play some games they might want to play. I guess there wouldn't be much choice in that case, wouldn't you agree?

Hereís another musical link: http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/1344/9. This piece will mean a lot more to someone who has played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night than it will to you Matt. This particular track exists only in the Saturn version and is played when Alucard must fight Maria for Ė whatever that thing to reveal Shaft is (the Saturn version isnít in English). Mariaís a tough fight also, she killed me the first time. But for Playstation players Maria just gives the item without a confrontation.

Matt

Yeah, yeah, I know I should play the game. I will. Maybe. One day. And then I'll probably wonder why I waited so long, too. I know me all too well by now...

Youíve started the first English Fire Emblem, Matt: what do you think?

Matt

I'm not sure, to be honest! I just got through Chapter 16, and it feels like the story is starting to escalate towards a climax even though my character levels indicate to me that I shouldn't be anywhere near the end of the game. Despite what I've heard, I'm finding the game to be quite a bit easier than I found The Sacred Stones, even though you can't "level up," apparently, which is fine with me. Mostly, it's more of the same, and for me, that means it's really good!

Ö More stories about my experience with the game? Not too much of note, really, when my stupid ways kept me arena-leveling for hours at a time in each battle it could be done in. This gave me far more money than I could ever use but prompted many angry restarts thanks to a momentís inattention that resulted in someone vital to my plans getting killed in the arena. By the way, if you havenít passed all the arenas, remember the trick with Ninian; using the defense-up ring on someone, going into the arena with that person, and then rescuing the person works wonders. The rescued person is released in the next turn and Ninian dances, reviving the person with the protection intact! Rinse and repeat. Still not a good idea with Oswin though, since people with high defense spawn opponents from the nether regions in the arena.

I challenge you to play through Hector Hard Mode, Matt. I did eventually triumph over it despite my tale of woe transcribed in the last letter. See if you can do better than I managed.

Matt

I see.

I guess I haven't progressed to that point yet, since I have yet to encounter an arena of any sort. I really didn't like the whole arena aspect of The Sacred Stones, though, so I'm unsure that I'll partake this time around either, especially since- did you hear? I'm playing it "Que sera, sera" style. Scary, eh? I've only lost one person so far!

I hear Square Enix intends to recoup increased game costs through a variety of techniques in the future, including in-game advertising. Iím not sure how my ad-avoiding eye would handle the presence of commercials within a game itself. What about you, Matt?

Matt

Ugh. If Hi-Potions turn into cans of Mountain Dew, I will never touch Final Fantasy again, I swear.

Is it just me, or do monarchs in RPGs tend to have a terrible survival rate? To allow the typically young protagonists to take over the monarchs generally die Ė is there a hidden democratic message veiled under the feudal systems usually espoused?

Matt

It's true, though you have to remember that we're dealing with a slightly skewed subset here! RPGs aren't going to take place in the bland, boring kingdoms where nothing happens except for bake sales and workin' in the fields, right? In times of war, corruption, invasions of beings from other dimensions, and comings of demon kings, monarchs are definitely not going to be reigning during the safest of times.

Okay Matt, I presume that youíve played the Lufia title on GBC along with the others. Is this one more or less worthwhile than the GBA edition? And do you concur or dispute my judgment that Lufia 2 is the pinnacle of the series? And will there be any further titles in the series?

Matt

Lufia: The Legend Returns is only slightly more worthwhile than its ugly younger brother. While it doesn't have the impossible dungeons, it has *gasp* randomly generated dungeons, which are impossibly BORING, which is almost as bad. The battle system is really interesting, and the game has surprisingly good music, even if it is of low quality. It's worth a try. But don't expect greatness, by any means!

I doubt that we'll see any future entries for awhile, if at all. And yes, Lufia 2 is the top of the mountain of Lufia. I hope that if another sequel is ever made, some serious quality control is put into place, since it's been awhile since we've had a strike... lots of balls, not many strikes. Yeah, that was an awkward attempt at a metaphor. Move on.

I wonder every now and again whether most Koei titles can be counted as RPGs or not. Dynasty Warriors seems an elaborate beat-em-up variation to me, but older Koei titles were known for their deep strategy gaming based upon actual historical scenarios. Having played a bit of Pacific Theater of Operations and Liberty or Death, I can agree with this synopsis. They tend to get a little too involved with minutiae for even me to stomach during a long play session though.

A word everyone needs to use today: nebulous. Nintendoís relationship with the information-seeking public is nebulous.

Matt

Yes. Yes, they are. They definitely do things on their own time, though, and aren't easily persuaded by the masses, which is actually pretty impressive. Whether it's impressive in a good way or a bad way is up to you, I guess, but think of how they stuck to their guns when they announced the name "Wii". Everyone thought it was idiotic at first, but just as the people of Nintendo said, it only took a couple of weeks of getting used to, and boom! Now it's setting up to be a potentially amazingly popular console. Only time will tell! But dammit, I'm with you; I wanna know WHEN we'll be getting this thing!

Is there word on a potential further Breath of Fire title? Dragon Quarter was released, what, 4 years ago? From what Iíve heard (you being but one of the sources here) ending the series at this point would be a shame.

Matt

It would definitely be a shame, but it appears that Capcom has taken an extended break from the series. Maybe we'll see another in the future. If it takes what Dragon Quarter did and runs with it a bit, we could set up to have another interesting, strategic, and uniquely fun game. Maybe.

Did you think the musical links were exhausted? Not so! http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/2987/28951. This is a sample of Dragon Force 1ís music, in the form of a track heard so seldom in the game as to be welcomed. Most of the gameís music is heard very frequently but not this one, played only during 4 battles at the endgame.

Matt

Hmmm. I'm not as big of a fan of this one as your previous ones; at least until it gets past the introduction. That instrument gets a little bit annoying fairly quickly.

Having brought up left-handed characters in RPGs, Iíll now address briefly the topic of ambidextrous characters. To me, using two weapons with one as a shield and the other as the offense is better than one weapon and one shield. Vyse in Skies of Arcadia is ambidextrous, and with the Genji Glove anyone in FFVI can be made that way. Others?

Matt

Surely. A couple of characters are ambidextrous in Final Fantasy IV; namely, Yang and Edge. Anyone in Final Fantasy V can be "made" ambidextrous by means of the Ninja class, and similarly, anyone can become so in Final Fantasy Tactics and FFTA by choosing the correct classes or pieces of equipment, respectively.

Outside of the Final Fantasy series, things get quite a bit sketchier. I'm having a lot of difficulty coming up with a single example, in fact. Anyone care to help out?

Private annoyance of mine: when a title only displays the experience needed to hit the next level and not the total experience gained. Not many titles pull this trick on me but it bothers me.

Matt

Minorly annoying, I suppose. The math major I am, I like as many numbers as I can possibly get! I love keeping track of things, and I always have.

Whatís your preference for the maximum attainable HP of characters, Matt? 999 or 9999? Wait a minute here Ė didnít FFX allow a maximum HP in the quintuple digits? Havenít played it so I donít know.

Matt

Now this is a peculiarity of mine that not many people seem to agree on. Ready? Sit down.

I really dislike limits of any kind in RPGs, unless they're "realistic" limits put on item space or things of that nature. I'm fully aware that certainly, some limits are necessary computationally, but 99, 999, 9999, 255, 511, or whatever... they're all so artificial. If I spend the MP to get the extra attack power out of a huge spell, I want the damage to be DONE. I don't want to see "9999" and go "AWESOOOOOME," because it's not awesome. It sucks. Limits on damage, HP, levels, attack power, or whatever, all make the game feel like it's exactly what it is- a mechanically constructed game.

Does anyone else agree with me here? I personally can even get disappointed when I see that "there isn't space for an extra digit" when browsing through status screens. Pretty bad, eh?

The battles of an RPG can be handled in a number of different ways. Random battles seem the most prevalent even now though. I enjoy the sensation of killing everything in an area definitively and/or avoiding a lot of combat that comes in other systems though. What are your thoughts on this subject, Matt?

[JuMeSyn]

Matt

I don't really have a preference here, even though I was born and bred on Dragon Warrior. As long as the system that is chosen doesn't become monotonous and boring, yet manages to keep things challenging, it's doing its job. I've experienced the good and bad of both, too, and I'm sure that many seasoned RPGamers might agree that either can be poorly constructed!

Believe it or not, this is only half of JuMeSyn's latest monster! I'm going to cut it here, though, and save the rest for LATER! Ha!

*goes and sticks the rest of JuMeSyn's letter in the fridge*





THE NEXUS

So, I -just- mentioned that this Fire Emblem was easier. Since I wrote the response to the first half of JuMeSyn's letter, I tried Chapter 17, in which my poor (WEAK) Valkyrie fell, shockingly followed by Eliwood, thankfully granting me another chance to salvage a clean victory. Perhaps this game isn't as easy as I thought it was...


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to August 30th's Questions

#296. c) Vile - 575 points
Yep, it was Vile! It kept going "wanting to go up, up up!" as the voice actress said in the outtakes. Gotta love 'em!

#297. b) Dragon Quest II - 450 points/900 for Genjuu
Yep. It was that long ago! While DQIII and IV had coliseums and casinos, Dragon Quest II had a lottery! You could find tickets throughout the land or even win them by spending a lot in other shops. More of you than I thought messed this one up, but thanks, Genjuu, for submitting this question!



Today's New Questions

#298:
San D'Oria's symbol features all of the colours of which real life flag? (500 points)

a) Finland
b) Macau
c) Ecuador
d) Uzbekistan
e) Papua New Guinea


Reader-Submitted #299:
Throughout the empire's reach, you might encounter two people who can later join you as the game progresses. Who are they? (550 points)

a) Natasha and Saleh
b) Saleh and Tethys
c) Tethys and Gerik
d) Amelia and Saleh
e) Tethys and Amelia


Hmmm. Hmm, hmm. Hmm!

A whole cluster of people are just waiting to burst onto the scoreboard, any day now! We have Vigilante sitting in 37th with 4,825 points, MrMSty who is in 38th with 4,740, Arpijy in 39th with 4,720, and an unfortunately burnt Kharamain in 40th with 4,060. Others such as Prismatic, Magrowan, and Donovan are not far behind!

Remember that only through being vigilant and constantly trying will you ever get to the top! Even if you think things are going slowly, never give up, because chances are that someone else will. Take it from some of the frontrunners right now; with a little bit of luck and a lot of patience, it doesn't take long to lead the pack. There are several great prizes and a few interesting items in the shop, too, to spend your points on. If you haven't checked it out, do so!

Finally, there are a whole lot of secrets buried under the surface of SOCK. You might just discover something, somehow, that could make things very interesting very quickly. I wish you all the best of luck in the weeks and months to come in the ongoing contest!



SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

2,000 points: Fire Spell (2 left), Quick Spell (1 left), or Water Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Mythril Sword (2 left), Mythril Armor (2 left), or Point Doubler (1 left)
5,000 points: Slowra Spell (2 left), Dark Sword (2 left), or Blizzara Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Paint Can (1 left), Hastera Spell (2 left), or Thundaga Spell (2 left)
10,000 points: Merton Spell (1 left), Hyper Beam (1 left), or Confura Spell (1 left)
14,000 points: Red Gem (2 left), Call Bead (1 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 (1 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 items, merchandise, or guest-hosting positions.

Click here for the current list of potential prizes!


IN CLOSING

One more day will take us to the end of my four days and one step closer to the official commencement of Ouro's THONG2! I'm so excited, I could just burst.

Disgaea 2 and Xenosaga: Episode III have finally been unleashed upon North Americans. Does anybody have 'em yet? I'm going to be getting Disgaea 2 tonight! If you have picked one of them up, or both of them up, speak up! I want to hear what you think, and so does everybody else. Watch out for spoilers, though, or I might have to wring your neck!

Bye, everybody!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt also decided to start playing Grandia III today!


Send a Question

My first impression of Grandia III was actually bizarrely good. I'm really looking forward to continuing my quest!

Most Recent

Aug. 30: Matt

Aug. 29: BigWook

Aug. 28: Vicissitude & Josh

Aug. 27: Josh

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About the Host

Quote Archives

Matt's Top 5 Most Wanted Games:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Xenosaga: Episode III

3. Final Fantasy XII

4. Disgaea II

5. Final Fantasy V

Top 5 Games Matt's Playing Right Now:

1. Grandia III

2. Fire Emblem GBA

3. Radiata Stories



SOCK's Top 35:

CACNEA
-HP: 1,750-
----------
1. Aurelius
28,322 pts

2. Kanato
26,490 pts

3. DMJewelle
25,111 pts

4. JokingChimer
24,730 pts

5. Alan Tse
24,670 pts

6. Erika
24,596 pts

7. Leaper
17,998 pts

8. LufiaLvr
17,805 pts

9. Belthasar2
16,468 pts

10. Cap
15,351 pts

11. CW
15,246 pts

12. Arros Raikou
14,682 pts

13. Alexander
13,078 pts

14. BigWook
12,473 pts

15. Tabor
12,387 pts

16. Dermot
12,196 pts

17. TV's Adam
11,651 pts

18. DDX
11,309 pts

19. Draconn
10,842 pts

20. JuMeSyn
10,499 pts

21. Purelunatic
9,735 pts

23. Colabottle
9,175 pts

22. Boojum
9,099 pts

24. BLG
8,913 pts

25. Xlash
8,697 pts

26. Macstorm
7,985 pts

27. Megan
7,977 pts

28. Ourobolus
7,920 pts

29. Bainick
7,768 pts

30. Hunter B
6,901 pts

31. Erunion
6,187 pts

31. FinalDelerium
5,557 pts

33. Gilgamesh
5,525 pts

34. Gaijin
5,178 pts

35. Thinkfreemind
5,000 pts

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