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Slimmed Down September 12, 2006

Matthew Demers - 18:49 EST

WHAT'S WITH MY TITLE? Well, with school to balance, a thesis to write, marking to do weekly, and a social life to upkeep, I'm going to start working to slim down this column for the time being. I stepped back and looked at my schedule that I posted for you guys last week, and I realized that if that continued, I'd be burned out more quickly than a lightbulb turned off and on, off and on, off and on, off and on, by a little kid. Ne'er fear, because I'm not going to go anywhere; I'm just not going to be doing very many days with, you know, NINE letters and such.

I'm sure that everybody will understand, and it is my hope that the actual quality won't head downhill. Besides, some of you like shorter columns anyway!

In any event, today is September 12. Six weeks remain until Final Fantasy XII gets here. MagRowan will be co-hosting this Friday. Disgaea 2 is awesome. Exclamation marks belong on each of the last three sentences.

Let's begin with the letters, before my crazy points increase any more, yes?

The worst of the best!

Hey there, Matt

Dragon Warrior VII is loathed? Okay, I admit that I haven't been able to get through it, and have restarted it about two or three times to remind myself of what I'm supposed to do, but what is there to loathe about the game? Pretty much the only part there is to dread about the game is the two hours at the beginning where you don't fight a single enemy, but other than that...



That first couple of hours is just an indication of what's to come. It's not the actual game mechanics themselves that are at fault; the battle system is as good as it ever was, and the class system is interesting, even though it feels like it takes forever to advance in it. All of the "mini-stories" told over the course of the game are well-done and most of them are really nice, but there's no continuity between 90% of them. The frustrating thing, too, is that there are just so many of them that they last for at least seventy hours of playtime. It's one thing if you have a few little anecdotes to curl up to, but when you have three full days of disconnected mini-plots, it grows tiresome.

A personal dislike about the game is that most of the exploration disappears, because you can only open up the world map one small piece at a time. It's a very unique gripe, since I don't think that a lot of people would care that much, but that just didn't appeal to me either.

Being a huge Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest fan, I still really liked the game enough to replay it, which is a lot to say, since I don't know a single other person who has replayed the game, thanks to the fact that it takes a hundred hours to get through at the very least. It's just the worst of the bunch!

POLITICAL parties can be ripe with drunkenness too!

Hi Matt,

Well, I need to eventually pick up Disgaea 2 and see how it's changed (or not) from the first Disgaea. Loved the first game, really tore into Phantom Brave after that, and then was mildly disappointed by Makai Kingdom (but, I blame Phantom Brave for that). Well, if nothing else, I have to see the improved Dark Congress. Bribing senators with candy is too much fun.



Yes, yes, yes! Makai Kingdom was definitely not up to the calibre of the Disgaea franchise, though I have to admit that I never played Phantom Brave; I heard bad things about that one, too. It's so nice to have little bits of story before and after every single battle! Makai Kingdom only had little pieces of story here and there, and sometimes three or four battles would pass without a single bit of plot to speak of. It wasn't only that, though; while the humour was there at times, it wasn't as "on," I thought. Oh well.

Disgaea 2 brings back the plot, lots of little cutscenes, and leaves the gameplay entirely intact. In fact, it plays almost identically to the original in the sense that it will take you almost no time at all to get into the swing of things. At the same time, your eyebrows will shoot up when you see some of the minor new additions to the game such as spells, geo-effects, and the design of some levels.

The Dark Assembly is only slightly different than it used to be, though there is a bit more to consider. Now, senators are in parties determined by their race; for instance, two orcs will very likely vote together, and by bribing one member, others in the same party might also feel better about supporting your cause. Each party is different, though, because one that I know gets angry if you even try to bribe them, while others will be more receptive to your little "gifts." There are so many things to propose, too; whenever you want to create certain new classes to make characters into (or reincarnate into), you have to make a proposal. The drunkenness and sleepiness is a bit weird for me, still; I haven't totally figured out how they work yet, and I've got to be halfway through the game.

If you liked Disgaea, you will like Disgaea II. 'Nuff said!

Aren't we all...?

Hello, I am your average gamer, however I have a few game related questions.


Hello, my average gamer!! Welcome to RPGamer.

Granted I know you might know this, but I am a very old school gamer.


You and me both! And I'll do my best, I promise.

My first question is, Do you know if a game named Mother 3 coming out to the USA? It may be called Earthbound two, but I know little.

I've been playing games since the late 80's and I really don't know about Modern game release dates.

Thank you for all your hard work.


Ah, ah, ah.

You have to understand something: Earthbound is among my favourite games of all time. I would love if an announcement were to be made, but as of yet, North Americans have heard absolutely nothing about a translation.

It's a big tease, isn't it? If you're anything like me, you were already hurt terribly by the fact that Earthbound 64 was cancelled all those years ago. When announcements were finally made about a new, portable Mother, most of us just assumed that it would be eventually translated and brought over to english players. I don't know exactly what the reason is, but this has not materialized, and it's saddening.

I often wonder if this reasoning is linked to the fact that Nintendo has nearly abandoned the Gamecube in terms of support. With Nintendo's competitive DS and upcoming Wii, it seems like they're trying to redefine themselves entirely for gamers who, over the past few years, have been more apt to pick up a PS2 controller. Perhaps by releasing Game Boy Advance games like Mother 3, they believe that we would be given a reason to "cling to the past," which would counter such a strategy.

SO, my answer to you is that no, it hasn't been released, and it hasn't been announced either. I'm really sorry about it, too. Also, I highly doubt we'll ever see it unless by some miracle a DS or Wii english compilation of Mother games comes out one day. (And that'll be the day...)

More old-school, more Disgaea!

"Preemptive Greeting Here"

Matt, how's it goin?


It's going. Pretty well, even, I'd have to say.

I just recently finished XSIII. Good times. I personally liked all three Xenosaga games despite what everyone else thought of II. I guess i'm the type that can play an rpg that involves scooping virtual fecal matter to progress, as long at the characters are deep and the story is moving.


Ah... wait, let me guess: A Nintendogs fan?

Did you actually have to stoop 'n' scoop in that game? I've never actually seen it outside of a demo-booth at the local EB Games, so I really have no idea.

Then again, The Sims has "messes" from time to time, doesn't it? I guess it's not really an RPG either, so whatever.

In any case, this is definitely a new topic to the column. x_x I'm just glad that you enjoyed Xenosaga! I can't wait to get started on the third Episode myself.

My first RPG was the original Phantasy Star. Good times. I remember leveling up a bit to keep Noah from dying so often in that game. Next I believe I tackled Dragon Warrior. I always wondered something about that game. Is it absolutely necesssary to save the princess? Couldn't you go beyond her, and just finish off the DragonJerk? That Gwealen (i have no idea how to spell it) Love item isn't all that necessary in retrospect...if you've played it before.


"If" I've played it before. Sillykins, that's the game I started with! Indeed, if you know where to look for Erdrick's Token, you don't even have to worry about saving the princess; you can leave the poor girl trapped in the Swamp Cave along with the fearsome Green Dragon, though at the end, I believe she'll be right back in the throne room to congratulate you as usual, get married, and eventually have offspring so that future Dragon Quest games could be produced.

Phantasy Star is the alien RPG series from an alien system. Sega is definitely not what we grew up on in the Demers family! I really hope that the original shows up on the Wii's Virtual Console, though, because then I'll get my chance.

I was also thinking about load times for games nowadays....How many people remember how long a Commodore 64 took to load a game?


Long enough, that's for sure. We had Commodore 64s littering our classrooms back in my formative years. Remember the command line? "Comma eight, comma four. Comma eight, comma one. Just comma eight?" I never understood what I was doing back then; I just knew that if ONE combination didn't work, I had to try others until I found one that did. I still don't understand what I was doing back then even now, to be perfectly honest with you.

Well, I guess I'll end this with a question about Disgaea...I still can't grasp the concept of the Dark Assembly mechanics, other than the rank and create character aspects...How do u use this system?




Some proposals that you make in Disgaea games are freebies. If you're creating relatively weak characters, renaming one of your units, or reincarnating, there's no question; you automatically have permission to go ahead. This isn't, however, always the case! Nay, some requests, such as proposing for better weapons/armour/items to be sold at shops, opening up new character classes, and creating relatively powerful characters, are requests that require approval from the Dark Assembly.

To summon the senators, a character must spend Mana. Then, you'll have to take a look at everybody in the senate itself. Are most of them with you, are most of them against you, or is there an even split? If you have your Item Bag stuffed with extra worthless items you won't need, it's a good idea to bribe senators who aren't on your side until they're in strong support of your cause. If you can make it so that most of the senators in the room are in "Total Support" or even "Love" you when it comes time to finally vote, you'll likely get the proposal through. Beware, because high-level senators have greater clout, and then, as mentioned in another letter up above, senators can be sleeping or drunk, affecting their voting patterns.

Good luck figuring it out! Let me know if you successfully pass something! Oh, and a last pointer: If you save your game right before going to the Dark Assembly, you can just reset it if your proposal doesn't pass. It's a bit annoying to just lose fifteen items without receiving anything in return.

A sneak peek!

Hey Matt check out all of the new Pokemon
Excited no?

Bainick performs a quicky then falls asleep.


I'm so excited!! I knew Chansey would have a baby version eventually.

Pokémon Diamond/Pearl is one of the games I'm looking forward to most in the semi-near future. Once we get through the regular-near future, that one and Dragon Quest: Joker will both be on the top of my most-wanted list, I guarantee you!

Stay tuned for more updates on these games and much more in the weeks to come!

What games are YOU anticipating?

Hey Matt!

I can't wait for Final Fantasy 12. I just finished paying it off at my local Gamestop, and all I gotta do is wait for it to be released. I decided to go for broke and order the special edition, which is probably one of the coolest things Sqare Enix has done for the hardcore fans in ages. I'm kind of curious to see what is on the DVD that comes with it, how about you?


Heh heh. I must confess that I pre-ordered the, uh, non-spiffy version. But, I'll be playing it right alongside you once it's released! I've heard that there is a "history of Final Fantasy" blippity on the DVD, and maybe some inside scoops on development and whatnot. It's probably worth the extra ten bucks, but with so many other games coming out soon, I've been watching my every penny.

What has me excited about the next installment of Final Fantasy is the battle system. I know everyone is a bit worried about how it will work (I did play the demo with my copy of Dragon Quest 8), but have a feeling it will be better than what everyone says. I like the idea that you can program your party members with basic commands, as well as the possibility of customizing every facet of their abilities. This custimization stuff is going to be great, concidering that the producer/director was responsible for the ultra custimizeable Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, so it should be at least interesting.


I really hope so! Effectively, Final Fantasy is, for the first time, making the quantum leap from traditional RPG to action-RPG. I hope that the transition doesn't leave anything behind. I, personally, am most worried about the challenge, because on both of the demos that I've played, I honestly didn't need to press a single button in order to defeat any of the enemies in my path. Any actions that I did attempt to take seemed rather inconsequential as well, leaving me feeling as if "the game was playing me" instead of the other way around.

I do hope that the end result turns out to be wonderful, though! It won't be long now.

MINOR Disgaea 2 Spoiler Warning ahead:

I just finished the Collesseum in Disgaea 2, and boy was I surprized that I got dumped into a battle at the very start of chapter 8! Not only that, but the entire chapter is an endurance battle! I just tried going through it, but my party got crushed on the final map, thanks to the double attacking Archers. Well, at least they made the story mode challenging this time, unlike Phantom Brave or Makai Kingdom (Both of which I enjoyed). Looks like it's back to the item world in the rest area for a while...

Well, here's my sock answers:
#304) I'm guessing C (I haven't played Dragon Warrior in ages....).

#305) I'm Guessing E (never played BoF:DQ, unfortunately...)


"I'm not evil, I'm morally challenged!"


You goof! You wrecked the surprise for me; I was just ending Chapter 7! Grrrr. I guess it comes with the territory; if I'm going to write this column, I'd better expect some commentary on the newest games.

Well, it wasn't anything major; some asshat e-mailed me asking about how to defeat the final villain (he gave the name, too) in Dragon Quest VIII, only two weeks after it was released. Now THAT was highly uncool. Unsurprisingly, the e-mail was written entirely in caps.

Regardless, I definitely hope that you're enjoying the game as much as I am! There's so much old there to love and just enough new to keep it fresh. And indeed, I'm happy to get a good challenge for a change, just like yourself!

Thanks for writing in, Witecat!


No more music. This place is boring again. Blah.

Oh, Fire Emblem is going well, by the way. I just had the closest battle in the history of the game, though. See, I sent one of my characters (a very capable one) on a lone mission to grab some weapons from a shop in the corner of the map when no enemies were near, but just as soon as I had retrieved them, two groups of four wyverns appeared nearby over the course of two turns, and I consequently had to hold a massive rescue mission, due to the fact that I had chosen not to bring a Pegasus Knight along for that one. It was an extremely close call, but thank goodness for the awesome Physic staff!


For complete contest rules, click here!

Answers to September 8th's Questions

#308. e) Pre-Emptive (prE_E,tive) - 600 points
The question asked "If you bought a current package of original assorted M&M candies but then shockingly discovered that each candy was in fact a piece of materia that just looked exactly like an M&M, which of the following would you know you could not possess?" Since original assorted M&Ms don't come in purple, Pre-Emptive was correct. The thing was, option c) also looked like a purple material... Cover! But it was in fact Comet, and "Pre-Emptive" was most certainly what it was. A good deal of you saw through the blindness, so you should give yourselves a pat on the back! The other options were a) Kjata, b) W-Item, c) Comet, and d) Sneak Attack, for reference.

#309. c) Epyx - 525 points/1,050 for Draconn
The question originally read "Mario's original name is also the name of a game developed by which company?" and the options were a) Square, b) Enix, c) Epyx, d) Broderbund, and e) Namco. Of course THIS had to be the question on the day someone casts Blind! "Enix" and "Epyx" were awfully similar... However, a majority of you got this right nonetheless, so good job. Thanks for the submission, Draconn!

Today's New Questions

>Popularity Contest< Which of the following options will arbitrarily be chosen most by those who choose to answer this question? (i.e. the responses you guys give me will determine the correct answer!) (620 points)

a) Fire
b) Ice
c) Lightning
d) Water
e) Wind

Reader Submitted #311:
Gradriel now has a dodo egg, courtesy of the defeated dodo. What can be done with this dodo egg? (540 points)

a) Egg on the face (literally) of an attacking enemy
b) Use it for the Secret Dodo summons!
c) Something to be cooked and eaten for HP replenishment or HP increase if HP are already full
d) It can be sold for a pathetic amount of cash
e) It can be kept around until it hatches into an impriming dodo

Not much else to say today, so let's move on!

SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

2,000 points: Fire Spell (2 left) or Sneak Glove(1 left)
3,500 points: Regera Spell (2 left), Mythril Armor (2 left), or Point Tripler (1 left)
5,000 points: Dark Gem (2 left), Point Doubler (2 left), or Firaga Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Watera Spell (1 left), Venom Spell (2 left), or Blind Spell (1 left)
10,000 points: Vanish Spell (2 left), Blizzaga Spell (2 left), or Scan Spell (3 left)
14,000 points: Red Gem (1 left), White Gem (2 left), or Killer Sword (1 left)
19,000 points: Esuna Spell (2 left), Rename Card (2 left), or Thundaga Spell (2 left)
25,000 points: Summon Encyclopedia (1 left), Apocalypse Spell(1 left), or Nightmare Staff (1 left)
32,000 points: Point Quadrupler (1 left), Mythril Sword (2 left), or Hastega Spell (2 left)
40,000 points: Flare Spell (2 left), Sean's Dictionary of Doom (1 left), or Blizzaja Spell (2 left)
50,000 points: Regega Spell (2 left), Rebirth Stone (2 left), or Hyper Sneak Glove (1 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!)

  • Angus Creighton
  • Ourobolus

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!


So, what did you think? Slimmer? Trimmer? Dimmer? Dumber?

In any case, you'll get more of me tomorrow, but there will be some twists towards the end of the week. Erika is getting set to take over the Introductory paragraph for a brief cameo someday soon, and MagRowan will be sitting down for another co-host by the end of the week! You should send her letters NOW if you have something to ask her!

That's all from me! See you later, and have fun gaming.
***Matt finally saw "Zyxenfryx"! It really is there!

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It was a Mage Knight's name in the Item World. I did a double-take when I first saw it, but my name really is a part of Disgaea 2! Awww!!

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Matt's Top 5 Most Wanted Games:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Xenosaga: Episode III

3. Final Fantasy XII

4. Final Fantasy V

5. Children of Mana

Top 3 Games Matt's Playing Right Now:

1. Disgaea II

2. Fire Emblem GBA

3. Grandia III

SOCK's Top 35:

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39,693 pts

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28,335 pts

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26,790 pts

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24,370 pts

8. Alexander
22,500 pts

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22,457 pts

10. LufiaLvr
22,054 pts

11. Purelunatic
21,465 pts

12. Draconn
18,835 pts

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18,612 pts

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18,118 pts

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18,051 pts

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18,028 pts

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14,541 pts

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14,424 pts

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22. TV's Adam
12,376 pts

23. BLG
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25. Dermot
12,196 pts

26. Bainick
11,940 pts

27. DDX
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28. MrMSty
11,062 pts

29. Hunter B
10,935 pts

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10,390 pts

31. Vigilante
9,975 pts

32. Megan
9,863 pts

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9,378 pts

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9,175 pts

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