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ASK MATT
Terrible Idea
August 2, 2007

Matt Demers - 23:40 EST

IT'S SO HOT, YOU COULD fry an A.G.W.S. on the sidewalk. Ha, ha. Really, I'm sweating profusely, despite the fact that I have the air conditioner and fan blasting in on me. Is it time to go make a dive into the freezer? I shall have to ponder on this.

While I ponder, I'll also take a look at some e-mail you've sent me, assuming you have. *reaches deep into the mailbag*




LETTERS
Epic games and more!


Hey Matt.

Good DQ news huh? I'm excited myself! If they bring them over to the good ole U.S. I will have no choice but to sprint to the store and buy a DS and go away from my Dutch ways :P.

Matt

"If" they bring it to the U.S. IF!!! It's quickly become one of the biggest ifs of my video gaming life. If that game isn't released here, hell hath no fury.

Anyways, the question about epic rpgs caught my interest. For some reason, I always have this weird thought when I hear epic and I think back to Nintendo Power Magazine which I got as a kid for probably the first 100 issues. The latter part of those had an "Epic Corner" or something of the sort in every issues where they talked about rpg's/adventures etc. and I remember specifically tips and information on FFVI and Chrono Trigger, aside from I'm sure many others. Weird tidbit, but anyhow, I think epic, I think story. I think of a game that I dont want to set down, or when I'm not playing, I cant wait to play and see what happens next, foremost, or what new treasure or magic I'll find or learn. Epic to me, is story...and a good, long, intense, interesting, fun, and engrosing one at that. So I may be a classic gamer, but the SNES games, notable FFVI and Chrono, back to the Nintendo Power sidenote, fit the description of epic. Maybe I'm just a sucker for those early games, but I havent played a more recent game that has grabbed me in such a way that I cant set the game down. However, I would probably consider DQVIII epic for its beauty and grandure, eventhough its a bit lacking in the overall story I guess. Awesome game, needed a little more depth. It was simple and it worked but yeah...as I contradict and talk myself in a circle.

Matt

Epic Center is what you're thinking about, I do believe! It was discontinued shortly after I started getting my subscription back in, oh, 1996 or so, and then Nintendo basically forgot all about the RPG genre for approximately a long time thereafter. Tragic.

As for Dragon Quest VIII, no, it didn't have the deepest, most amazing story of all time. I enjoyed it for its interesting twists, funky twists, and eerie/sad/dramatic moments. But, I also felt that its simple story was interestingly satisfying, especially once the bonus material was complete. That dungeon and subsequent town tied together the last of the plot elements in such a neat package, and I was quite impressed with it, all in all.

Well, I guess I agree with recent readers. RPG's have been, well, mediocre. Some have been fun, but nothing that has really really really impressed me anyway or caused a great stir to the point of using a term of 'epicness.' So I may have high standards, but no recent game has really captivated me.

Matt

Fair enough. I think that the last game that really grabbed me was Xenosaga: Episode III, which came out about a year ago. That's not too long ago, I guess, but I'm really hoping for more greatness in the days to come. I guess that's a no-brainer, though; it's not like I'd hope for mediocrity.

Quick rundown. Zelda: A Link to the Past, by far, best Zelda. FFXII is in my backlog, but according to my brother, isnt "epic." Refuse to pay for FFXI, and I think PS2 still has life. Word! Done! Adios good sir.

Derek

Matt

Hahaha, well done. Yeah, I agree with you on the Link to the Past. FFXII is really good. I'd call it epic, too, but there are way more epic-feeling games out there; the vastness of the world and grandeur of the storyline ends up being overshadowed by things like markhunting and other things like that, and I think it takes away from the epicness in a way I can't really describe. Does anyone know what I'm trying to say??

Anyhow, thanks much Derek!



Final Fantasy XII's Epicness Level: 7


Hey Matt!

epic (adj.) - surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size.

I have a counterpoint for my namesake Chris's opinion of Final Fantasy XII. While it by no means is my favorite Final Fantasy, I have to say that it does meet the requirements of the word epic (leaving out the whole literary epic/narrative poem definition). For one thing, this is one heck of an expansive game. A sprawling story, involving warring empires, ancient history, political maneuverings; FFXII screams epic. However, on a personal scale, the story seems to move around you as much as you move through it. Thus, while the amount of plot you directly experience is a bit thin, the scope of the entire story feels as epic to me as any Final Fantasy. Heck, I thought it felt more epic than FFX, even if I liked that game's plot more than FFXII.

Sorry to drop the dictionary bit into the middle of it, it did a better job than me of expressing it in words. Next letter, the thesaurus! Then the book of famous quotes!

Thanks!

BigWook

Matt

No no, not at all. I'm glad to get some english-language perspective, but my opinion from last letter still holds. It is an epic game in many ways. It always feels like the main focus of the game is on these smaller-scale markhunts; the grandness of the world is scoured by the fact that there isn't really much to do in it besides fight massive numbers of eighth-time-palette-swapped monsters. The storyline is big and great and underscored by good voice work and an excellent translation, but in practice, it only FEELS big and great to me while you're actually playing through the storyline. And as anyone who has experienced the game knows, that is a great minority of the time you inevitably spend playing FFXII.

That's what I've got to say on the matter! Now people, attack me!



Down, but not out.


Hey, Matt,

I don't think we've seen the last of the Playstation 2 quite yet, though it will really begin to phase out next year. After all, according to the June NPD data, the PS2 sold more hardware units than the Xbox 360, which, in turn, sold more than double the units of the PS3. Out of the twenty top selling games, five belonged to the PS2; none of these were PS3 games.

Matt

I think that's probably likely; the PS2's sales will finally start to dissipate by the turn of 2008. The thing is, though, that I feel like a lot of people aren't buying a PS2 just because good new games are coming out. I've heard from so many different people who are buying a replacement PS2 because their hulking old ones have kicked the electronics bucket already. That's why I bought another PS2 last year; it just works a lot better, and, while $130 is a substantial amount of money, it isn't devastatingly so. If this continues to be the case, however, I could see the PS2 selling well for a good year to come.

I can't imagine that Sony would abandon the system until it becomes profitable to do so. Given that the PS2 must be relatively cheap to produce by now, there is still a impressive library of games available for it, and that third parties seem willing to continue development support for it, right now, it makes far more sense for Sony to continue to encourage support for the system. I would expect this to be the case until the PS3 can gain more steam; perhaps this will happen in the next few months when more system-selling games such as MGS4 are published. At least, if I were Sony, I'd keep the PS2 going as long as possible, at least until I could determine how their price point drop and the increased PS3 library affected their overall sales for the next two quarters. I believe that Nintendo abandoned its consoles so early because the numbers weren't there to justify continued promotion for the N64 or the Gamecube.

Matt

Quite honestly, the PS2 and PSP are the pillars that are keeping Sony from losing a HUGE asston of money on their video game department, instead of just a regular asston of money. I'm sure that as time goes by, technology becomes cheaper, and ah, more people start taking the plunge, the PS3 will start regenerating some of the money that it has burned up until this point.

As for MGS4... you may have heard the news by now, but it won't be within the next few months after all. Ouch.

And Nintendo? Of course. For this generation especially, I think that they realized that what they risked with the DS ended up a huge success, and so they wanted to take the Wii and run with a similar idea to totally redefine themselves as "the company that does things differently" in a sense. In doing so, however, they quite nastily abandoned all of their past machines (read: GBA and Gamecube) leaving their owners crying out. I'm still convinced that the reason they didn't release Mother 3 over here is simply because it was a GBA title, and by the time it came out, they were well into the "look at us, we're new and innovative" campaign, GBA games be damned. Sad. And maybe slightly paranoid thinking on my part. I don't know that it's true; I just need a reason... a reason for why my poor, much-wanted Mother 3 never made the cut. :(

By the way, I'll chime in on my excitement about the Dragon Quest announcement as well. I've been waiting to play through those games for a long time. I even missed IV when it came around the first time.

Matt

I think that most people did. By the time DWIV came out, the series had been quite overshadowed by the new and fancier Final Fantasy series, and I don't think III and IV sold very well at all- or II, for that matter. It's really unfortunate, because the games got so much better by the time the later ones rolled out; DWIII and IV will be two of my very favourite games for as long as I live.

Also by the way, I still continue to be excited about Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Since Nintendo has revealed the Assist Trophies, I've been fantasizing about who I'd like to see in the game. It'll never happen, but I wish that Geno from Super Mario RPG could make an appearance. I always thought his character was pretty cool.

Sundoulos

Matt

It's funny you mention that; somebody else (my brother, maybe?) mentioned that he'd also love to see Geno. I don't see why they couldn't. He's a Nintendo character with a wide variety of funky attacks. The idea has a lot of potential! Actually, my dream for a Smash Bros Brawl character that's also quite viable (I'd think) is Paper Mario. Imagine having the abilities that you obtain in The Thousand Year Door... he even has a built in "save yourself and get back on" attack: The paper airplane!

That game is getting closer every day. This is going to be a great fall.



A not-quite-quickie


So, at the moment I am playing:

Zelda: TP (one dungeon and one final boss)
Odin Sphere (about halfway through)
FFXII (like two hours in)

What do you think, Matt? Do you like playing multiple games at the same time, or do you try to finish one off before starting another? I like multi-gaming, but there are those times when you get your plot and/or characters mixed up.

Carabbit thinks that all games need a jump button. And a hook shot.

Matt

Oh, that's not my problem. My problem is that if I really end up liking one game a lot more than the other, then I run a great risk of dropping the inferior one and focusing all of my energy towards the other. Not good, since I really hate being haunted by those "ghosts from the past," so to speak- a few of them line my poor shelf. I can always keep plots straight; I don't ever remember mixing anything up in the past.

Anyway, I've adopted the policy of playing one console game and one handheld game at any given time, which is a nice compromise. It's easier to just play my DS for an hour before bed every night, but sometimes, I just want to play prettier games on the big(ger) screen.

By the way, for the record, I would totally abuse a Hookshot if I had one in real life. You know those moments when the light switch or the remote control are just too far away? Yeah, my laziness meter would skyrocket through the roof.



From the other side of Final Fantasy XI


Hey Matt!

I have a confession to make. I was a player of Final Fantasy XI. Yeah, I played an MMO. I played that game for about a year, but I can say that it was an interesting experience to say the least.

I decided to try out FFXI a few years ago. I decided to go with the PC version, mostly because there was no way I was going to pay over $100 for the PS2 version with the albatross that was the hard drive. I thought that if I didn't like it, I wouldn't be out too much. After waiting an eternity for it to download the patches (I have a Dial up connection. Believe me, it took a REALLY long time for this to happen!), I created a character and started to play it.

Matt

Wow, yeah. There's a myth that I guess was just dispelled... I always assumed that there was just no way to play online games on a dialup connection. It's not an issue for me or anything, but it's interesting to know that it's possible- it's just hard to imagine that it could keep up with the amount of information streaming in for me, though admittedly, I know next to nothing about anything like that, so I'm hardly a decent judge. Anyway, continue.

My first impressions was that it was nice, bu t a little daunting. Being that I never really played an MMO before, I was lost for a bit. I ran into a helpful experienced player and was able to get acquainted with the game at a decent rate. After fumbling my way through for a few days, i eventually hooked up with a few players and started a linkshell together. It was fun for a while, but due to my work schedule, i was completely outpaced by my linkmates within a month after joining. It's too bad that happened. They were pretty cool guys to hang out with.

Matt

See, this is another thing that I'd be worried about, being an unconfident young whelp and newbie to the MMORPG realm. I'd just make the assumption that high-leveled, experienced players would find it exceptionally annoying to have me pester, asking trivial questions. It'd probably take me half of a night's playing session to garner the courage to ask somebody, and it would be like putting everything on the line... if I got a "lol go f yerself" or something, I think I'd just be done. Now, based on what other people have written in with, I don't think that happens very much, so those fears aren't really HUGE... but they're there nonetheless.

I stopped playing for the same reasons that some people always do: lack of funds. Being that I was busy with work, had lots of bills to pay and I couldn't spend any significant time with it, I had to stop. It's too bad, really. I actually enjoyed it.

Would I play it again? Sure, if I could swing it. But the way life is, I guess I might never roam the hills of Vana'diel ever again.

Witecat

"Hey, whee can I buy some Phoenix Down?"
"u cant n00b!"
"Jerk..."

Matt

See, this was one of the first problems I had with the idea of Final Fantasy XI being online. All throughout my video gaming life, there have been many games that I've loved so much that I go back and play them, years later. Final Fantasy I was released nearly twenty years ago, and I still have the ability to go, turn it on, and whack some imps, and break some TIME LOOPS. Who is to say, however, that Final Fantasy XI will even be around in twenty years? Inevitably, there will come a day when no one is playing the game anymore. The servers (or whatever runs the whole shebang) will be shut down, and Final Fantasy XI... it'll be Game Over, forever, for everybody. Only fuzzy memories. No replays.

That bugs me! After potentially playing for years and years, and investing hundreds of dollars into the game, it is conceivable that the whole thing could just end one day. Isn't that bothersome to anyone else? Argh! I can't stand the thought.

While the game looks attractive in many ways, these issues and the fact that my time is limited will prevent me from ever trying the game out myself. It's not a case of "GRR SQUARE ENIX I HATE YOU WHEN YOU TRY TO BE DIFFERENT!" ; it's a case of practical reality. In a dream world, I'd love to chill out all day and do nothing but play games. But while some say "life is but a dream," I'm, unfortunately, wide awake.

Thanks, Witecat!



What could be inside...?


Hey Matt,

I'm in a dungeon at the very end of Chapter 3 of Lost Legend IV. In the lower-left hand corner of the 'dimensional' room with the train tracks and the lever are at least two treasure chests that I can see, but cannot get to. I've searched the whole dungeon about five times and cannot find how to get to the part where those treasure chests are. To make matters worse, part of the dungeon later becomes inaccessible. Am I even able to get to these treasure chests at this point, and if so, do you have any hints on how to get to them.

Thanks,
Vyselocke

Matt

Aha, yes. It's been years since I made that game, but I know exactly what you're talking about. Isn't it irritating? Don't worry about it now... maybe later on in the game, you'll find another entrance to the same dungeon if you look hard enough.

(This is TOO exciting.)



Matt and the FPS. A look back in time...


Hey Matt,

This may be unusual for an RPGamer, but I'm actually quite a big fan of the Xbox360. As such, I feel compelled to see if I can increase your desire for one by a little more than the 6% the $50 price drop incurred.

Matt

Sure. Before you start, I think that while it's unusual, it's becoming less and less so. The 360 is slowly emerging as a stronger RPG powerhouse than either of its generational opponents, and so it's not surprising that Microsoft is gaining some ground with people like yourself.

I've already seen mentions of Blue Dragon and the RPG goodness it's sure to bring to the system. What's really caught my eye though is Eternal Sonata, set to release a couple weeks or so after Blue Dragon. There's not as much buzz surrounding it since Blue Dragon has the more famous names associated with it, but Eternal Sonata looks like something truly different in terms of plot. The entirety of the game takes place in the dream of a dying composer from real life: Frederic Chopin. The story loosely follows his real life, so there's sure to be all sorts of musical trivia and references thrown in to increase enjoyment of the game, as well as (I'm sure) an amazing soundtrack. Personally, if I only get one of the two, I'm pretty sure it'll be Eternal Sonata. As far as other RPG's on the horizon there's also The Last Remnant (also on PS3) and Lost Odyssey. I don't know much about the latter, but the premise of the main character being "sentenced to live for 1000 years" sounds intriguing.

Matt

Eternal Sonata does look like a completely original concept for an RPG just because of the fact that it seems to be somewhat grounded in historical reality. The screens look interesting, to say the least, and while I didn't take the game very seriously when it was first announced, it looks like it's shaping up to be rather substantial, as it turns out. Blue Dragon looks really great, too- if my mom and dad had got me a 360 for my graduation (which they didn't), I'd be right on top of that.

There's also a topic that came up a long while ago that I meant to comment on but never did: Enjoying the story in FPS-type games from an RPGamer's perspective. Like you Matt, I play very few FPS (another reason the 360 may seem an odd choice for me), and Goldeneye was the first one I truly enjoyed or was good at. That said, Gears of War is amazing. It's more 3rd person shooter than FPS, but the premise is the same. It's more strategic than normal shooters in that firing from behind cover is VERY important. While an amazingly fun game, it's made even more so by the richly detailed world the game takes place in.. You truly feel like you're in a war-torn world, and like you're really part of the small unit at the center of the game. I'm eager for a sequel just to know more about the world.

Matt

I think, oftentimes, that I haven't given the FPS genre a fair shot. I have a tendency to really not deal with blood and gore well, and I associate the ideas of FPS and red smears a little more closely than I should, perhaps. I tried a few FPSes first for the N64, back in the day, but they all gave me a crappy impression: Hexen, unfortunately, was not a quality game. Turok wasn't too bad, but I only rented it once and never played it again.

I think what ultimately did it for me was that I really honestly didn't like Goldeneye much, and whenever I'd tell someone that, they'd FREAK OUT ON MY HEAD and tell me how wrong I was. Obviously, that didn't put a great taste in my mouth, and I began to think that "well, if that's what a "good" FPS is, then I guess I just don't like them. When I gave Halo a chance and found that the 4-player version at least felt something like Goldeneye did, albeit with better graphics, I came to a bitterer and unfair conclusion: That all FPSes are just the same. When I saw Tom play the game online, the level of immaturity made evident led me to further associate such games with homophobic elitist jerks with little regard for the English language and all-around asshole-ism.

It took a bit of time until I broke down and played Metroid Prime. To my surprise, I LOVED the game, and finally, I thought, I had discovered that not all FPSes are bad. What then? Then, various people scoffed at me and told me almost belittlingly that "Metroid Prime is NOT a FPS." I felt like a puzzled puppy, tail between its legs.

Not understanding that whatsoever, I'm at a loss with the genre and haven't played anything since. That, my friend, is the really quite sad history of Matt and the First Person Shooter. And while it might be cool to have one with a great story and a sprawling, detailed world, it would take a lot for me to try yet again, especially when so many other promising RPGs are being released left and right.

Wahhh, this is so a hot topic now. Thank you for letting me spill!

Finally, there's Xbox Live. It's truly a well designed platform. Even if you're not into playing things online (which does incur a monthly fee) there are lots of free benefits, such as the ability to download demos. While not every game gets a demo, most high profile games do. For example, I've already tried out Blue Dragon, and it was pretty fun. It also serves to get you exposure to some games you might not normally give a chance.

Matt

Ah- but those kinds of online games are more understandable. Wasn't Castlevania: Symphony of the Night just released a little while back on XBLA? I still haven't played the game, and that would finally give me the opportunity to. Very exciting, even if it costs a little bit extra. I mean, I'd pay money to play normal everyday games; it's not as if I'd have to pay monthly fees on Castlevania once I have it, right?

I'd really like to see the 360 become THE system of choice for RPGamers, but it's probably not going to happen given Sony's influence. I do think the 360 will give them a run for their money though, and we may even see a shift in the *next* generation. I'm still desperately clinging to hope that Square will port FFXIII to the 360 so I don't have to buy a PS3, but it's not looking too good right now.

Matt

Sony's influence is quickly spiraling down the drain, to be honest. The company has completely lost their dominance in the industry, and I feel that RPGamers (or, at least, this RPGamer) are among the people that are feeling the most discontent. Sony has Final Fantasy XIII coming, but really, what else is there? Disgaea 3 and White Knight just won't cut it. And there's -nothing- else in sight. Reputation can only get you so far, and once Microsoft has built up their fair share, I don't think that fans of the RPG will necessarily stick to the leader of the past. We're gamers. We have to go where there are great games; it's that simple.

So how'd that affect the old desire percentage? (I promise I don't work for Microsoft)

-Straadin

Matt

Ah, it might be up a couple more. Really, I want to wait on things, especially given the fact that I have so many games that are still waiting to be played. It's no secret that if I were to go out today and get a new console, it would be a 360. The problem is, I'm just not ready to make an investment for any system right now.

Thanks, Straadin, for the great letter!



QUICKIES

I was curious what you thought of Etrian Odyssey or if you had enough time to try it out yet.

--
Xlash the dwarf berserker

Matt

I haven't opened it up myself, yet. But, from the sounds of it, it's every old-school-dungeon-crawler enthusiast's dream. If you like turn-based, traditional games that emphasize battling and character training over a deep storyline, this could be just what the doctor ordered!



IN CLOSING

I have to leave a day early, since I'll be out of town until next week. But this is your chance to tell me something: What do you think of the First-Person Shooter? Yeah, it's an RPG column, but we always talk about RPGs, and I'm interested to know if anyone feels the same way that I do. I'd love to be able to give FPSes another try one day, but it'll take a lot of convincing. Can you do the job? Write in and try!

Otherwise, have a safe and happy weekend, everybody.



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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. Your thoughts on the FPS? Is there one that I should play?

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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