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ASK MATT
Done Like Dinner
August 15, 2007

Matthew Demers - 17:10 EST

I STARTED MY TREK through Etria last night. I'm not sure what to make of it so far. It's so unbelievably old-styled, right from the start, that I found myself involuntarily smiling dopily. It does indeed remind me a lot of Dragon Quest, but my main issue right now is that the balance seems to be severely off at the beginning. In summary, for the first two hours I played, the game feels like an odd mix of Dragon Quest, The 7th Saga, and Shadowgate, except super-hard. I'll be sure to report more, the further I get.

OK, now to answer a few questions!




LETTERS
Wiiiiii, someone's happy!


Hey Matt,

Well, I finally got a taste of Wii...let me rephrase that: I finally got the chance to play Wii. A friend of mine and his wife got a hold of one, and a few of us spent a night goofing around with Wii Sports. Literally, all we played was Wii sports. I have to say, we were all laughing hysterically (and that was before a few adult beverages). Being 6' 7", with a wingspan to match, I am a very dangerous person on Wii, especially during tennis. I now finally understand the hype, even if I believed it before. A couple more big games, and I finally might be persuaded. Nintendo is hooking me back, with both Wii, and my finally opening my mind a bit toward the DS (you can thank the DQ remakes for that, so they had BETTER be brought over).

Matt

Yes. Ist integral.

That said, I have fears for my possessions with the potential RPGs, or especially action RPGs, that could be done on Wii. I tend to be very physical, and my reach of destruction could be a problem, even with the wrist strap on. If I get that hooked on a few quickly put together sports games, something that unlocks Wii's full potential might make me go crazy. And cause my downstairs neighbors to despise me forever.

Matt

Hahahaha, yeah... well, I really don't know. I'm looking forward to Dragon Quest Swords for that purpose- it is an original game that is fully designed with the Wii's capabilities in mind. There have been a load of shovelware games released that really don't take full advantage of the system's real strengths at all; many of them use motion control as a lame, unnecessary, and often awkward gimmick and nothing more. RPGs? There have been barely any. I think, though, that this is a place that the console has the potential to grow incredibly.

Are you really that noisy? Or, perhaps your big, broad, manly arms just make such a profound WHOOSHing sound as they soar through the air... and subsequently smack the lamp off of your living room table and onto the floor. I nearly did that on the first days that I played, too (and I definitely smacked my mom in the arm a couple of times, the poor woman.)

So far, of the games you've played, which ones have gotten you the most active? I was flat out winded after a few rounds of boxing, so something deeper would almost be a full body workout (not counting the Wii Fit, or whatever it is called). I've seen my contortions, and they are not pretty...

Thanks!

BigWook

Matt

If you're looking for more, I don't know that you'll find it anywhere else quite like you do on Wii Sports. Out of all the games I've played, Wii Boxing has probably also been the game that has winded me most, and caused the "post-workout sore-muscles effect" on the day after, unbelievably. I haven't played any game since that has been quite as strenuous, though I got far enough on Warioware: Smooth Moves a few times to break a sweat.

I'm glad that you've been encouraged! With Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest Swords, and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on the way, the future of the system in terms of RPGs doesn't look terrible either. Here's hoping that a few other RPG developers latch onto the bandwagon and decide to make something fun, giving people like us a bright gamind future.

Thanks yourself, BigWook.



More, more, more on Final Fantasy's Twelfth!


Hey Matt,

First, let me say that although I would agree that FFXII does not have the same depth of story as previous titles, I don't think that is a reason to complain. I feel like with FFXII Square just went a different direction. With FFX they focused heavily on plot. They had cut scenes constantly. For a large portion of the game it was more like reading a story then interacting with it (I should point out here that I loved FFX). I know a lot of people were turned off by that. With FFXII they focused on gameplay instead. I think that both goals are great and when they achieve that goal with such perfection, why are we complaining that they didn't also achieve all other goals.

Fact is, I have put 120+ hours into FFXII. I never managed to even come close to that with any previous FF unless I played through it multiple times. And more importantly, I am still not bored of it.

A game should not be judged by our expectations, but rather by if it achieves its intent or not. I think both FFX and FFXII both achieved what they set out to do. For that I applaud them. Did they achieve all my expectations? No, but that doesn't make it less of a game. You will never achieve everyones expectations, no matter how hard you try. So the best you can do is set your goals and strive to achieve them. Both FFX and FFXII did that, but in different ways.

So lets talk about some of the things that FFXII did achieve:

Addictive Gameplay...Check!
Lots of Sidequests...Check!
Few annoying fetch quests...Check!
Amazing voice acting...Check!
Fantastic characters...Check!

There is lots to love here. Sure there is stuff that we may not enjoy, but every game has that (Except Beyond Good and Evil. That game was perfect).

Eggman.

Matt

Truth be told, I didn't really get bored with it either, though I got quite frustrated by the Gambit system on a few occasions. I really found that while the idea of Gambits is well and good, it was frequently too limiting. It was completely impractical, at the same time, to ever turn it off and play it normally, just because without it, the system just feels kludgy. So, I'm not 100% with you on the gameplay thing, though it did often come through. The character-building side of things was addictive- really addictive- as well, until it became evident that the license board was just too confining and that everyone would end up as rubber stamps of one another.

Your other points, though, are right on. There are lots of sidequests, but none of them ever get in your way. Some of them have a lot of depth, too, though it would have been nice to get some better returns from doing 'em. Fetch quests? True, I guess there weren't really many, though the game as a whole had a distinct "Now we must go here. Now we must go there. Now we must go here" feel to it. Amazing voice acting? Ya-huh, there's something I agree with. Fantastic characters? Ah, sure. They were pretty darn good, I'll agree, though some were better than others. I swear that Fran existed entirely so that horny adolescent boys could try and tilt the camera in, shall we say, strategic ways.

My biggest loves of FFXII were things you didn't mention, though: The music, which was absolutely top-notch, and the outstanding translation, which clearly demonstrates how much care was put into the game. Yeah, that must have been a ton of work.

Anyway, Eggman, thanks for sharing. Kind of funny, how many Final Fantasy XII opinions we're getting all of a sudden- it's going to be close to a year since its release, soon. Kinda sad.



Oh all right, ONE more!


Nice of them to make the final dungeon little more than a hallway. Although I did kind of walk into the final fight with minimal MP and about half HP because I was expecting a long dungeon. :D

I couldn't stop staring at the final boss's teeth (well, one of the forms' teeth.) Ewww~! Why why why do final bosses always have to be warped and gross? Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss are the exception, as they just pit you against other (super-powered) peoples.

Thought it was pretty funny when Fran got creamed by a metal beam. Serious luck issues there.

Carabbit

Matt

Argh, just as I start to feel like I've paved out the things I think are great about the game, you come and make me remember something I hated!

The last area... man, were the developers just sick and tired of developing, or what? FFXII has the single most boring final dungeon of all time, especially because from a glance, as you go in, well... any experienced RPGamer would be led to believe that a massive challenge awaits inside. Very, very disappointing.

The final boss, though, was pretty neat, I have to admit. It would have been nice to see a little more variety in its attacks, though. Didn't it seem that despite brilliant, huge, massively scary attack animations, every single attack would do 1500-2500 HP damage to the party, no matter what? I dunno. Kinda boring. A better boss than Final Fantasy X's laughable excuse by far, though.

As for being warped and gross? Well, obviously, sexy beautiful people will never be ambitious enough to try ruling the world. Obviously. In reality, it isn't ALL the time- it's just most of the time. Look at Sephiroth- and Kefka, for that matter- I mean, both of them were crazy and all, but they were actually rather "beautiful" final bosses. Actually, come to think of it, they looked kind of the same.

One way or another, you DID it! Yay! Now what are you going to play...?



Where oh where is Princess Gwaelin?


Matt,

I haven't written very often, but rest assured that I read the column every day. I just rarely have anything to contribute.

Matt

Bah, not to worry. I'm just glad to hear from you. :)

Now please don't think that I am complaining, but was there some joint decision between RPG publishers to target August for releasing good games this year? I mean, there I was, suffering through the normal summer game drought, then on July 31 I get a gem in Brave Story; and on my PSP no less. After that, the floodgates open: before the month is out we get Persona 3, Luminous Arc, D&D Tactics, BioShock, Dragoneer's Aria, Jeanne d'Arc, Two Worlds, Blue Dragon and Wild Arms 5! I mean, it's hard enough sometimes convincing my wife to let me indulge in a new game or two once in a while; if she catches me selling a kidney or taking out a second mortgage to pay for all of these, you might never find me again.

Matt

It's true! The past several months have been fairly calm in comparison to, say, the blitz we saw last fall. It's true that there are a ton of games flying out lately, and RPGs are only the beginning. I fully intend on losing many hours of my life to Metroid Prime 3 when it comes out in a couple of weeks.

But that list also leads me to a question: where is the PS3? I know that BioShock and Two Worlds are going to be multi-platform, but I believe that the PS3 versions drop later on. This isn't a fanboy or system wars topic; I'm lucky enough to have all three new consoles and both portables, but the lack of PS3 support concerns me. Is it that hard to develop an RPG for it? Because I am getting really, really tired of Marvel: UA. It seems to me that this was a problem for the PSP too; it was flooded with quick ports and unfulfilled potential up until, well, that list up above. I know FF XIII, White Knight Story and Disgaea 3 are on the horizon, but tell me what you think Matt: how long until the PS3 gets a great, or even really good, RPG that doesn't also work on the PS2?

Matt

I don't know, sadly. Why have RPG developers been so slow to approach the system? I think it's for a variety of reasons. The PS3 is, reportedly, the most expensive console to develop for, and at the same time, the fewest people have bought into it. Add to that the fact that RPGs are, largely, a niche genre in comparison to sports games and racing games, and it would be very difficult for a company to decide to develop an exclusive PS3 RPG. Why go to all that work and spend all that money, just to have 50,000 people play it? Now, add to that the fact that the PSP has ten times the userbase... and the DS, twenty times... and that both platforms are way cheaper to develop for. Really, it isn't surprising at all that these are the places that we're seeing the most RPGs now.

And so, to answer your question, I don't know how long it will take. It might be a year, or it might be never. The more people invest in the console, the greater the likelihood will become, but I feel like the future is still unclear. Sorry I can't give you a better answer than that- my Oracle ability is still at Level 1, sadly.

I hear you about VP2: Silmeria; I had the exact same thoughts about it and tri-Ace in general when I was playing it. Have fun with Etrian Odyssey; it can be really addictive, and unlike most modern RPGs, if you aren't careful in your exploration, you'll get your rear end handed to you quickly. I just recently got bit by the Fire Emblem bug, and I can't put the Sacred Stones down.

Thanks again to you, Matt, and everyone else there for the great site!

Chris

Matt

It appears that we're similarly-minded on some things! Yeah, Valkyrie Profile 2 looks pretty nice, but its battle system is less deep than I had hoped. I'm really excited, however, about seeing how the skill-learning turns out, because that equipment-linking thing? It's funnn.

Have fun with Fire Emblem! Those games are really damn dangerous if you're not careful... I saw a couple of sunrises last summer, thanks to some intense battles. Not good, not good.

Take care, and thanks for writing.



Ambitions and interests...


Matt -

Tut tut. I must say I'm somewhat disappointed over your apparent leanings toward the PSP over the 360. You might be right about the future of RPG's being on portable systems though. Much like I constantly tell people that neither Blu-Ray nor HD-DVD will succeed, because the real future in media is downloadable content. Another factor in my disappointment is that I'm perhaps more bitter toward Sony than I should be. I have been ever since the rootkit debacle last year, and it just solidified with their seeming condescension toward gamers leading up to the PS3 release.

Matt

Heh heh. Do you want to hear something funny? Nearly every time I bring up Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD, I get met with blank stares. Honestly, I'm pretty sure that the only people who even care at all about this format war are crazy gamers, because the general populace seems to be completely unaware that either new format even exists. Why should they, anyway? A tiny minority of everyday people have the capability of displaying in high-definition, and most of those people are probably happy with their "ANCIENT" DVD players anyway. We just got on-track with DVDs within the past six or seven years... there's no way that my grandma would be impressed if she were told that it's time for her to upgrade yet again. VHS lasted us for twenty years; why does our relationship with the DVD have to be over in a third of the time?

My point is that neither format will be successful until people actually care, and people don't.

For the record, my opinion of Sony fell at three different stages. First, they released shoddy PS2s with absolutely atrociously-bad lifespans (I'm on my second); secondly, when they made up lame excuses to cover up the faults of their PSP; thirdly, and most importantly, when they made asses of themselves with this PS3 thing. When top spokespeople respond to questions about a $600 pricepoint with "It's probably too cheap," yeah, more like "probably not good for my opinion of you." Just because you're making a mint sitting in your big tall spokesperson's chair at Sony doesn't mean that the rest of us are. Pigs.

But that's neither here nor there. My purpose for writing in is two-fold. First, I want to comment on one of the current topics: "Do you wanna be a video game designer when you grow up?" This was pretty much my goal when I started studying computer science in college. It handily turned out that programming is right up my alley, as I really enjoy the logic puzzle aspect of it, and finding more elegant designs for existing applications. However, during my third year, I took computer graphics, and found that I absolutely detest graphics programming. Needless to say, this was quite disappointing.

I've grown as both a programmer and as a developer since then (the distinction, I feel, is important), and I still feel that I *could* have a place in the gaming industry. But I think it'd be a tough sell to any prospective employers without any graphics skills to speak of. Specifically, I feel I could do a great job maintaining and modifying an MMORPG. Sometimes I'm tempted to pursue a job working on FFXI, but, I don't know if that would suck the fun out of actually playing it after hours. For right now, I'll just continue to hone my skill at my current (far less exciting) job working on B2B commerce applications.

Matt

I totally know what you're talking about. The single thing that has discouraged me from truly looking into that career path is that it seems like all jobs are in graphics design or gruntwork coding. These are the two aspects of development that I'd appreciate least! I'd love to be a creative guy, coming up with stories, battle systems, skill systems, designing creatures and characters on paper, and doing that side of things. It's impossible, though, because from my vantage point, you just have to be in some special club to be that guy, though. It's depressing.

And thus, if anyone ever wants to give me a job, feel free. I'd take it.

Lastly, in your opinion, what are the odds that we'll ever see FFXIII ported to the 360 within, say, 6 months to a year of its initial release? Should I keep hope alive, or resign myself to someday caving in and buying a PS3?

Take care.

-Straadin

Matt

It's so hard to say. The problem here is that the 360 is still not that big of a phenomenon in Japan, so a port like that would be in almost complete ignorance of the core Japanese fanbase. The chances are there, however, but I'd put them at less than 50/50. My main thought is that either way, the game is a long, long, long way off from the looks of it, so none of us will have to worry about it for a good while. I'm almost willing to bet at this point that we won't see it until 2009 (I'll turn 26 that year... aughhh).



QUICKIES

Hi Matt,

Quick Question. Which do you prefer in an RPG? When characters level up at equal rates like, for example, in Final Fantasy 9, or different rates, for example Dragon Warrior 2 (or any of the others I suppose)?

-Kharamain

Matt

Interesting question, strangely. I have to say that there is a part of me that gets really annoyed when every single character is in Level 44 at the same time, because really, everyone SHOULD be at different skill levels. So yeah, I'd say "different rates." How bizarre.



IN CLOSING

Another dose of answers and questions will come your way in the morrow.

Since you guys can't stop talking about Final Fantasy XII, I'm going to grab a knife and twist a new topic that looks like this: Why do people focus so much on the Final Fantasy series? Do you find that you limit yourself to the FF franchise because you know you love it? There is, after all, a group of people who DO only play FF games- it's blatantly obvious when you look at sales figures- so I'm interested to know.

Anyway, goodbye until next time!



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Matt is headed home for a week on Saturday!


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On my Wishlist:

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