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Ray of Delight
August 1, 2007

Matt Demers - 17:29 EST

I GOT TO PLAY a little more Valkyrie Profile 2 last night, and I'm beginning to realize exactly how Star Oceany the game feels. The sound effects, the music, the serious tone, and the weird idiosyncrasies all scream tri-Ace. Why is it that every tri-Ace character always introduces themselves as "First name. First name Last name"? It drives me up the wall, though it put a huge smile on my face when I met "Lezard. Lezard Valeth" tonight. The game is ramping up quickly in difficulty, but I'm still finding it somewhat difficult to appreciate the battle system, as of yet. It's not TERRIBLE; it's just kind of whatever.

Oh, and apparently the Xbox 360 is being slashed in price by $50. Quel surprise. It makes my desire to get one increase by about 6%... but I'm far from sold. If the poor student can get a nice wad of cash from the sky, then, THEN I may start talking new systems.

Enough about me, anyway. Let's get to some letters, provided you guys wrote some to me.


Just wanted to warn you not to get your hopes up too high for Shining Force. I played the enhanced GBA remake a couple years ago, and although it was kind of fun, it was very obvious how early it came in the evolution of TRPGs. Character customization is minimal, and there's not all that much depth or nuance to the tactics -- it has a hard time comparing to either the rigorous knife's-edge tactics of Fire Emblem or the profusion of options in FFT/Disgaea. Still might be worth trying if you have time, but it's more to respect its historical significance than because it really holds up today.



I'm definitely aware that traversing into Shining Force territory means taking a trip into the past. Primitive as it might be, I just have to try it. How many times do I bubble about the original Dragon Quest, despite the fact that I know it has many shortcomings? I think that a lot of these games are real treats. Going back in history and SEEING firsthand where the tactical RPGs of today have blossomed from? There's nothing like it. The Wii- it's a frickin' time machine now, and I can't wait to download this old game, mediocre or not.

Thanks for the heads-up though! If and when I do start playing, I'll be sure to keep you updated. Maybe I'll eat my words, but I hope not.

Life is a game...


All this talk of inspiration to write letters has inspired me to write a letter! Sort of. I was wondering if you could mention a potentially obscure RPG or two that inspired elements of the SOCK2 competition. Note that this is in no way a request for you to cleverly hint at some heretofore unmentioned aspect of the game, but such a response would not go unappreciated, I'm sure.


Honestly? Sock 2, I'd say, is a mix of so many different things at this point. There's a lot of Final Fantasy, but an obvious Dragon Quest influence; I designed the monster art especially to make it look old-school Dragon Quest-ish. But there's more: There's some Pokémon in the mix, too, and a few ideas snatched from everything from tRPGs like Fire Emblem to non-console RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons to the original SOCK, which ended last November. The story is, as I've mentioned once or twice, based on an RPG from the pen-and-paper console-style series that I made for my little brother to play during my teenage years. I guess, then, that that is the most obscure inspiration for this game, and that in a way, this competition is a strange, twisted, backdoor way of getting everyone to see what I came up with in my youth.

No matter what, I hope that the trivia-answering and strategizing and guild-collaboration is turning out to be a lot of fun! It's a bit of work for me, but I'm enjoying pulling the strings from here in my lair.

'Til next time!


P.S. Silly you. Didn't you know Vyselocke's name is actually a combination of two of his cousins' names? Oh yeah, good ol' Vysel and Ocke. You should see 'em. They're an absolute riot!


Whoa, crazy. I have two cousins named Wönders and Lime. They're German and Trinidadian, respectively.

Some Dragon Warrior VII tips, from a sage pro like me!

Hey Matt,

I've been retro-gaming lately, and I am currently working on finally beating DQVII. I was wondering if you had any advice on good classes for the final battle. I was thinking of having a hero, godhand, summoner, and whatever the best monster I can get is. Would you agree or do you have better advice?



Nice job! The final area is tough to navigate, and the final boss is fairly tough if you aren't ready. It took me a few times to get through, myself. Your plan sounds decent, though I never really found the monster classes to be all that useful in the end. Some of them are cool, don't get me wrong, but mostly because when you master the jobs, your character graphic changes into something so cute, I could spell it kyoot. Anyway, the most important thing here is the spells your characters know. Make sure that at least two people in your party can cast Revive. HealUs, HealUsAll, HealAll, the Hustle... they're all really useful too. If you're in the mid-to-upper thirties in terms of levels, and you have at least one tank-like attacker in your party, then you should be okay.

Best of luck! Take care of that pretty-boy wannabe-villain for me! I'll call him "Orgy" for short.

Things are looking grim...

Hey Matt,

What are your thoughts on Grim Grimoire? I am really bad at RTS games, but it feels a lot more like the Defend the Tower mini-game (from FF7) then Starcraft. And my friends wouldn't stop saying how much it looked like Oden Sphere until I explained that the same group (Vanillasoft) worked on both games.



Actually, it doesn't look so grim. I read the review that Roku finished a little while ago, and it looks like there are some interesting ideas involved. I'm slightly intimidated by the realtime aspect either, though, but that's mostly because I don't really have a lot of experience with RTSes at all, and I'd be open-minded to try it if I had a good chunk of time to work with. After all, who DIDN'T like the Fort Condor minigame in Final Fantasy VII? I always thought, back in the day, that they should make an entire FF spinoff that would use that same format. Oh well.

You'll have to let me know what you think as you get into it, Nightwolf. This one has really been a sleeper; frankly, you're the first and only so far to write in about the game, and it hasn't been high on my internal radar either. Perhaps it's time for a technology upgrade.

Looks Grim.


Back again to answer some topics and maybe add a silly quote.


Swell! Which topics wilt thou answer?

FFXI?.....I can't answer this because I haven't played it, I really don't see why Square released it as FFXI, they could have just tagged it as FF online and leave it at that. Besides I don't believe in spending $15 a month to play a game online.


You're a man after my heart. I really have no problem with an online Final Fantasy game, but since it's such a dramatic departure from the rest of the series, it really should have been its own thing. Then, Square Enix wouldn't have had the excuse of releasing the next console FF in 2006, and my day wouldn't have been ruined. You know, that fateful day back in 2001 where my jaw hit the floor as I learned what FFXI would be. That really hurt, too- I had a bruise on my chin for the better part of a month.

RPG lull? I really wouldn't call it a lull. There are a ton of RPG's that have recently come out and a few good looking ones that are coming out. However, I would say we are in RPG mediocrity. There really hasn't been anything epic to come out and I'm not going to say FFXII is epic because it isn't. I want a game where I can put in 50+ hours without side-quests. Like I've said before RPG's nowadays are like 20-30 hours with like 40 hours of side-quests....garbage. But anyway, I am playing DQ VIII right now and plan on picking up Persona 3 when it comes out in a couple weeks.


Hmm, hmm. Nothing like a good polarizing opinion to stir up some letters. I think we have a new hot topic brewing...

That said, Persona 3 looks awesome, and I think that any SMT fan will owe it to themselves to pick up this title. Actually, non-SMT-fans should too, because dammit, I really need to try the series out. And you know, while I'm on it, I'm getting sick of saying "I need to try this out" with regards to that series. I'd move one into my console backlog, but it's lengthy enough as it is...

Can I be convinced? Can you guys convince me?

"Don't jog with your pants's really hard to do."



Especially in public. Don't try this at home, boys and girls.

Thanks, Chris!


Hey Matt,

I've started playing Digital Devil Saga, and I must say I'm hooked. The story and characters are, for lack of a better word, badass..



Sometimes, there is no better word. I know for a fact that my brother would heartily recommend the game to you. Perhaps he did. He's been wanting me to try it for months now...

All that DQ stuff, *yawn*. I could never figure out why you loved such ugly games. :P


Man, you are so lucky that we live far away from each other.


Well, you heard me up above: What did you think of Chris' statements? Do you think that we're facing a lack of epic RPGs? Was Final Fantasy XII nowhere near "epic"? If so, why? If not, what are the things that an RPG needs to truly be fitting of the "epic" label?

Thanks for reading, everybody! I'll be back again tomorrow, to finish up the week before my early weekend departure. Tune in then for more!

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Unanswered Letter Backlog: 39
Matt is hot and humid.

Despite the air conditioning, this apartment is becoming more and more "moist" and it's supposed to be in the low to mid-90s tomorrow. Grraaagh! Where's an Ice spell when you need one?

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On my Wishlist:

1. Dragon Quest IX

2. Metroid Prime 3

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

5. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker

On my Portable Playlist:

1. Etrian Odyssey

2. Mega Man ZX

3. (Taking Suggestions!)

On my Console Roster:

1. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

3. Tales of Symphonia

Hot Topics:

1. Have there been any "epic" RPGs lately? Is FFXII epic? Why or why not?

2. Final Fantasy XI: Played it? Liked it?

3. Is the PlayStation 2 winding down, or does it still have some wind behind it?

4. Which Zelda is your favourite?

5. Tales games galore! Yay? Or Ugh?

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