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Everberries
September 7, 2007

Matthew Demers - 19:59 EST

THE SKIT WENT WELL! Basically, as an orientation day for incoming graduate students, we had a series of talks and such this morning. I had the dubious honour of putting on a mini-play about "What not to do as a Teaching Assistant in the Math Learning Centre." It was fun. I also got to talk to a small crowd about what to do and what to expect as a Master's student, and blah blah blah, and so on and so forth. My good deed for the week, I figure.

The problem with this is that they started the damn thing at 8:30 in the morning, so I'm dead tired. My poor brain isn't used to being awake at that time of day! Life's rough, eh?

Mmk. I don't know if I'm going to pick long letters today, because I might not be able to focus that well (and I have to preserve some of my energy for the SOCKiture (now that... is not a word).

Ahhh, well, I'll do my best!




LETTERS
New topic suggestions!


Hey Matt, I haven't written in a while....so here I am to answer some "Hot Topics". I promise I'll make this short and painful.

Matt

Not too painful, I hope. Not a fan of the hurt, (un?)fortunately.

1) Blackout/fire/flood RPG losses?....Thank God.....NONE!!!!!! I've had a few freeze-ups and a parent trip over a wire but that's about it, nothing catastrophic.

Matt

You're lucky! Knock on wood if you're superstitious, or laugh at the people who do so if you're not.

2) Games/RPG's I'm looking forward to? I'm sure there's about 6-12 games I would love to pick up this fall, but being married with two kids and a third on the way, I unfortunately have a higher priority than video games, although Persona 3 is awesome.

Matt

First of all, congrats on the family-building! It's sometimes easy to forget that sites like this attract people of all types in all sorts of different stages of life. To me, on here, I often feel like I'm talking to a bunch of other college kids or graduate students. Of course, I know in my head that that's not the way it is, but, well, I'm talking myself into a corner, and can't think of any way to end this sentence gracefully. Back to you, you.

3) Topics? Hmmmm, personally I would like to see a topic about either video game soundtracks and/or a topic on: Which was the first game that got you into RPG's?

Matt

I really do like talking about video game music every now and then, and I try to bring it up regularly. The "my first RPG" thing is fun: Whenever it comes up, you get this really devoted "FINAL FANTASY VII!! YAHHH!!" group, half of whom are the closed-minded RPGamers I love to hate. Also, though, you get another nerdier group that likes going "Well, MY first RPG wasn't FFVII. It was Final Fantasy SIX." Chrono Trigger could be inserted here, too, but I sometimes laugh at how my brain voices over some of these e-mails. And then you get the real wingnuts, like myself, who talk like Cranky Kong: "Back in the day, my grandmammy taught me how to play Dragon Quest 1, back when we didn't even have status ailments and we had to issue commands to walk down stairs!"

Yeah, it's always a fun chat. Maybe I'll change the hot topics, just in your honour.

4) Blue Dragon? No 360...yet. So haven't played it.

Matt

Ah- that's a good reason.

5) RPG endings? I sent it in a quickie a little while back, Lufia II...hands down.

Matt

Oh yes, I remember, and it is something I totally agree with. Whatever happened to you, Lufia series??

Now, time for me to talk about something I mentioned in topic #3, video game soundtracks. I love video game music I find it extremely relaxing and no matter how stressed I am a soundtrack can calm me to the point being completely relaxed. So I guess what I am asking is, Do you have video game soundtracks? Which ones are your favorite? And how did you become involved with video game soundtracks? My story is more or less by fluke. I was working for a small video game store that carried imported items and happened to see a soundtrack for Final Fantasy VI. Curious I asked my manager how much it costs, he told me $59.99. I think my eyeballs are still on the floor. I was shocked by the price but he told me he had it and let me borrow his copy. I feel in love with it as it brought back memories of certain scenes from the game. The rest is history. I now have I don't know, 40-50 soundtracks from various games. From Final Fantasy to Star Ocean to Warcraft to Soul Calibur, and I love them all.

Matt

I can't say that I love them ALL, but there is a ton of video game music that I love. Almost all of my music on my computer is video game music, or music inspired by video games. I find that it's good not just for relaxation, but for many different things. Music can totally help set the mood- there's nothing more exciting than listening to Indalecio's Final Battle Music, Integral Body and Imperfect Soul, while strolling towards a final exam... or while making Mazell do evil things, heh heh.

My favourite soundtracks? Jeez. I love so many. I used to really love Final Fantasy X's, and there are so many tracks in the mix that are great, but I find that there are a lot of dull earthy cavey musics that all sound the same. Final Fantasy XII's outshines it, I think. My very favourite though, composed by the same guy, is that of Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. It's so fantastic, you have no idea until you listen to it. Say what you will about the controversial game, but there's no doubt that the music is unmatched. Other great RPG soundtracks include those of Xenosaga: Episode III, nearly every Dragon Quest game in existence, and definitely every Final Fantasy game in existence. Chrono Cross gets an honourable mention.

Outside the RPG world, I'm also a huge fan of Mega Man music, for some reason. Those techy, techno-y, awesome themes just hit me with happiness.

Oh also a topic I wanted to touch on. Hot video game characters. Uh, hmm. Well, sure the developers of video games can make women/men look anyway they want. Playing God they create the perfect Woman/Man. Weird Science anyone? I can't say I've looked at a video game character and said "Damn, she's hot. Why isn't she real?" Honestly, I think it's sad when people look at a cartoon/video game character and get aroused by it. I worry that these are the people we will see on Datelines: To Catch a Predator.

Ok so maybe I didn't make it short and sorry about it being painful.

~Chris~

Matt

Oh yes, with Mr. Squeaky Voice himself. Well, I wouldn't go that far in general. However, when you think about the fact that RPG heroes are almost always barely-post-pubescent teenagers, perhaps you're not too far off the mark after all.

Anyway, it wasn't painful in the least! Thanks for writing in, good sir.



When RPGs try to "do the RTS thing..."


Hey Matt,

From a glance, the battle systems in Heroes of Mana and FFXII: RW seem awfully similar, don't they? I'm blindly trusting the latter won't suck as much as the former. Have you heard much about how they differ?

Joshua

Matt

Actually, it's true that they look similar, based purely on the idea. Heroes of Mana seems to be a funny thing: It hasn't been received as poorly as Dawn of Mana was, for sure, but it still hasn't been welcomed with open arms. A few other sites have given the game scores that are at least okay.

From what I've heard, many of the issues in Heroes of Mana are play control issues that are very different from the issues I've heard about FFXII: Revenant Wings. According to the RPGamer review, for example, it really emphasizes how difficult it can be to get a unit where you want it to go... which could be very frustrating in the midst of a big battle. In FFXII, I think that the response is much better in this respect, but it leads to all sorts of characters "overlapping" one another and difficulty pinpointing any specific unit with the stylus. You gain in one way, and lose out in the other, from the sounds of it, but I'm optimistic for Revenant Wings yet.

The battle system of RW sounds a little bit deeper than that of Heroes, and further, it looks like the game will take a lot more time to develop an interesting story. Indeed, from the sounds of it, Heroes of Mana stumbles over its own plot in a few ways. The things that Heroes looks like it did well are things that Dawn of Mana apparently did well with too: Graphics and Sound. If this is where the primary emphasis of the Mana series lies now, though, the series is just going to die off.

For more, read lost_keeper's review here!



Ogre Battle: Trapped in the Cleft between Companies


Matt,

The horny letter about erotic plant monsters was on the "that made my day" level of hilarious insanity. Just when you thought he was going to list every female in every RPG ever, he took it a step further and listed vampy Castlevania abominations. Then he went even lower and listed Yuna.

Matt

Oho, burn. Not only does she suffer from multiple personality disorder; her eyes can't even decide on a single color. Yeah, that was quite the letter.

Ogre Battle 64 will never be on VC. Square owns the development rights to the game but Atlus USA owns the publishing rights in the Americas. It is a twisty, tangled legal nightmare which neither Square nor Atlus care to unravel. The game was over produced, though, and is comparatively cheap on ebay for an Atlus game.

7thCircle

Matt

It's true that Ogre Battle series is in limbo for the moment, but I still believe that stranger things have happened. There's a potentially awesome series beneath the legal mess, first of all- one that could be very profitable. Further, Square Enix has worked with other big companies before, including Nintendo itself, on single projects. And besides, who wants to wager that in this strange world, Square Enix will probably swallow Atlus at some point or another, anyway? Then what will the Squeenix-sayers do? "Squatlus Enix" just don't sound the same. One way or another, that bizarre possibility would definitely open the gates.



Exploitation!


I hear you on the prices of videogame rentals. I agree. Why would anyone ever pay 1/4 of the price of a game just to have it for a week (or less). Even worse, games depreciate in value so quickly now; a rental is more like 1/3 or 1/2 the price for a slightly older game. It's too bad that Gamefly isn't just a little less expensive; otherwise, I'd consider it. In that case, its that I don't have enough time to make the monthly expenditure worthwhile, as I only have a fraction of the time I once had to game. A full time job, college classes, and pending fatherhood will do that to a guy.

Matt

Wow, another father. We're all growing up... *sniffle*

But yeah- it's not like we have twelve hours per day to devote to a rental anymore, and since games really aren't expensive as they used to be, I find that there is very little incentive to rent anymore.

It's kind of sad, because one of my favorite pastimes as a kid was to rent a game for a long weekend. At least back then, game rentals only maxed out at about 5 bucks, depending on where you went. Granted, this was during the early 90s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the first Bush was president of the U.S., and the musical styling of M.C. Hammer was sill popular. Now with the current prices of rentals, I can never justify the expenditure. This is a frustrating thing, too...there are several games that I would like to try out without buying them initially, but none of common rental sources are attractive options. Am I going to take wheelbarrows of cash to my local video store? No, sir! So what's a guy to do?

Matt

Oh, I so know what you mean. I'd be peeing-my-pants excited on the occasions that I could convince my parents to stop at the rental place on the way home from piano lessons. That's how I got my first experiences with such classics as EarthBound, Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, and yes- the great Dragon Warrior IV.

Now, mostly, I'll just wait for a game to become low enough in price on-line to justify buying it. Then, after I'm finished, I'll resell it. Normally, I only lose a couple of dollars; sometimes, if my timing is right, I can break even or even make a small profit. Certainly, if I lose money at all, it's less than what I would spend renting a game.

Most recently, I did this with Paper Mario: TTYD, Prince of Persia 3, and Radiata Stories; and, by the way, I do NOT recommend the latter game. Go get that root canal you might need instead; it's far more interesting and less painful to endure. Okay, that's an exaggeration, and I would expound, but I think I'll save that for a review or another letter.

- Sundoulos

Matt

Wow!! I'm so excited to hear. Radiata Stories was the divisive game of... wow, two years ago now, I guess. I've got mixed feelings on the subject, myself, but I'll be anxiously awaiting your follow-up letter, after that opinionated cliffhanger.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you fall into my boat on the subject of rental prices. I don't know what Blockbuster and other places hope to achieve by charging ridiculous sums of money in the name of having no late fees or whatever- aren't they just "pricing them in" this way? We're not stupid.

Thanks!



QUICKIES

Blue Dragon? UGLY! No need to play it to know that. :)

Matt

Beauty is only skin deep, and nowhere is that truer than in the video game world. If you play games for their slick outer layer, then I guess that's your right. I don't!

Matt,

Did you really have to ask what game has the best endings? Clearly that would be Chrono Trigger where the ending changes to reflect what events have happened in the story.

Nightwolf

Matt

That IS cool, I have to say. Dammit, when are Square Enix guys gonna stop grinning evilly from ear to ear and get to work on the next?



IN CLOSING

Sorry to cut things short for today, but I'll be up until midnight with this if I don't take a breather. I know that a lot of you haven't had your letters responded to yet, but I'll do my best to get around to some when I return next Tuesday to resume my duties. In the meantime, enjoy the show that my weekend friend Sean will surely put on.

If you're looking for something to write about, look no further than these "new" hot topic... ones that have been visited before, admittedly, but that have been inspired by my dear friend Chris from above. First of all, what are your favourite RPG soundtracks? Why do you feel that way? Secondly, what game started it all for you? Whether you're a Cranky Kong type like me who has been playing since the Dark Ages, or a newcomer to the genre, I'm interested to hear what you have to say!

One way or another, I really hope you'll join me again next Tuesday. Have a good weekend.



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Matt needs to learn to humanize his sleep-schedule.


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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/VC Playlist:

1. Etrian Odyssey

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On my Console Roster:

1. Metroid Prime 3

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance/Valkyrie Profile 2(?)

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4. Played Blue Dragon? Is it really that bad?

5. A musical question: Which RPGs have the best soundtracks?



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