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September 11, 2007

Matthew Demers - 19:52 EST

GETTING BACK INTO THE swing of things is never a simple task. This year, it's worse, because somehow, I've stumbled upon an uncommon eighteen-hour period where I have just about nothing to do except for work on RPGamer columns ahead of time. This sort of thing hasn't occurred for a long, long time, and it's almost making my head spin.

Oh, guess what I did this weekend? I was loving Metroid Prime 3 (come on, Sean, you wimpy drama queen- that game doesn't make your wrist hurt... and if it does, or you need to give it some exercise). In fact, I was loving it SO much that I went onto the Virtual Console and downloaded the original, having never played more than the first two screens or so. I feel like this is a part of video gaming history that I've just totally missed out on.

My good god. If I've never used the word "sadistic" before to describe a game, this would be the first. That game is Sadistic with a capital S. I don't know how long it has been since I've received so many face-to-face meetings with a game over screen. There is no way to describe that game's frustrating hardness with words; mashed-together explosive sound effects would get the job done more effectively. The key, I've found, is to take it very, very painstakingly slowly... and to map everything out by hand. I'm getting the hang of it, much to the detriment of Repetrian Odyssey.

Ah, it's good to be back with a fresh new week.

Fuzzy memories...

Hey Matt,

Since I can't remember if I've written in with the tale of my first RPG, I'm going to go ahead and do it now, with your prompting. It has such nostalgia for me, not just the game, but for a friend that I'm unfortunately no longer in contact with.


I don't believe you have! The floor is yours.

Waaaay back in the day, back in junior high, my friend Scott had a Sega CD. One day he told me about this cool game that he found at the local video store, and said that I had to come over to play it. So, of course I did, and it turned out the be Lunar: The Silver Star.

We had a ball. Since only one of us could play at a time, we would trade off the controller about every hour or so, with the other person alongside discussing strategy (it helped that it was strictly turn based). We stayed up all night, pouring in huge quantities of Mountain Dew. Not the healthiest of times, but it was worth it. Neither of us had played a game like this before, and we were completely drawn in by the story and humor. We didn't even know it was called an RPG.


Sounds like innocent fun! It's a funny thing: I didn't actually know what "an RPG" was either until quite surprisingly recently. I remember this clearly because when, to my utter shock, I saw this "game like Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy" called Super Mario RPG on the shelf at Blockbuster, my first thought was distinctly "what in the heck does RPG mean?" Then, over the weeks to follow, I brought it up a few times in conversation, massively confusing the letters in different incorrect combinations. I figured it out, finally, about a year later; that's when I realized that there WAS a name for these games besides "games like Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy." Heh heh. Anyway.

One last thing: You were one of those Mountain Dew people too? I guess it's a U.S. thing... I could never stand how utterly sweet (and utterly neon-green) the stuff was. Interesting fact: Canadian Mountain Dew does not contain caffeine!

Sorry about that. Back to you.

Of course, we didn't finish it in one night. Over the next month or two, he would keep an eye out for it in the video store, and when he could get his hands on it for a weekend night, he would rent it and I would come over. We would repeat the same experience as before and push farther. We grew to like some characters, and got seriously pissed at others (NASH!).

Suddenly, Scott found out that he was going to be moving. We had enough time for one last rental, but we had to finish the game that night. We plugged on, finally reaching the end of the game. We were so focused that we didn't even trade off the controller at the end. I don't remember how long I went with it, but at about five in the morning, hands shaking from way too much caffeine, we beat the game. Nowadays, the ending seems simple, but at the time it was great closure.


Ahh! That's so tragic! That must have been a saddening conversation. *sigh* I never really had a gaming buddy to miss! Well, outside of my friend Ken, that is, but we really only traded games now and then- we never played any RPGs together.

This led to an addiction that lasts to this day. I moved on to Final Fantasy 2 and 3 (later learning of their renaming), and Chrono Trigger, and onwards and upwards. To this day over half my games library is RPGs.

Well after that first game, and after Scott moved, I saw an ad for Lunar 2 in a magazine. I didn't have a Sega CD, and I had no hope of talking my parents into buying me one (I already had a Super Nintendo, and they wouldn't have gone for another system), so I mourned the missed chance to play another Lunar. Several years later, when I had the money, I tracked down a used Sega CD system and bought both games. Replaying the first game brought back great memories, and then I with Lunar 2 I got to fall in love with that world all over again. A completely new story, but plenty of old references: It was exactly the way a true sequel should be.

Anyway, that is the story of my introduction to RPGs. Thanks for letting me tell my tale, I always enjoy that story.



How touching. You're of an interestingly rare breed, sir: How many people started their RPGaming days on the Sega CD? Man, I didn't even know that Sega CD existed until the last few years. Yeah, I'm a wholesome Nintendo-raised boy, I know.

I'm happy that you got the chance to relive the old game, playing it again after so long. As the Lunar series is very special to you in a nostalgic way, it's highly unfortunate that the series has gone downhill as it has.

Thanks for sharing!

A tricky question...

Hey Matt,

I just thought I'd send in this article about Square-Enix being frustrated with Sony's PS3 marketing.

Link of Destiny

My question is-- what do you think will happen if SE's frustration turns into action against Sony?



Oh, I read about this last week. My problem with your question is a simple one: I don't think it's going to happen.

See, right now, Square Enix is in a little bit of an awkward position. Over the years, their biggest moneymaker, Final Fantasy, has blossomed into a series of mega-games, each of which spans multiple years of development and costs incredible amounts of money to produce. Final Fantasy is the "presentation" RPG, and so Square Enix undoubtedly wants to keep the series on a platform that can support this cause. Unfortunately, they're stuck between a rock and a hardplace here: Even if they turned on Sony, where would they go? The only other viable alternatives are to publish for the Xbox 360, which they won't do, since it's doing far worse in Japan than the PS3... or to publish for the PC, in which case, I will be sad, since my machine has difficulties running MSN Messenger at times.

What's wrong, and why are they frustrated with Sony? Well, when their big system isn't doing so hot in terms of sales, it would be difficult to justify planning a three or four-year development project for it. Can you imagine spending four years of preparation and a year's salary to get ready for an incredibly massive party, just to have ten people show up on your front door?

Square Enix will play a careful game when it comes to this generation. I suspect this is exactly why we're seeing a crapload [*edited*! See more below] of S-E games coming out for the PSP and DS as of late; these are the established systems that they know are worth their while. The big three consoles still have a lot to prove to the king-company of RPGs, and I think that the main fallout will be that this will be the first generation where we DON'T see the release of another trio of main-series Final Fantasy games. Maybe two. Probably one.

More on Slashlen's interests...

Hey, just because it's dark in here doesn't make this the dark side! Their hotness is as pure as driven snow! :) Yes, it's more about THAT topic.


Oh, great. Children, shield your ears and plug your eyes.

Quistis? Honestly, other than Squall's lame excuse for a gunblade, FF8 was pretty forgettable. I honestly forgot. It's not like that was a complete list anyway. I ran out of room. And with all the lovelies in Persona 3, maybe a part 2 is deserved. I should probably wait a little while, as more keep popping up as I play, both human and persona. And if it wasn't so OT, I could create lists for fighting game characters and anime characters.


No, see, Final Fantasy VIII was the episode where finally they concentrated on making some good-looking guys for a change! Between Squall, Zell, Irvine, and Seifer, I was pretty happy with the pickings. Oh, and Kiros too...

That artbook pic is a little close to the line, I admit. I figured it was alright since the game was rated T and the artbook came with it. But four square inches away? It all depends on where those inches come from! I also disagree about the V in Shion's pants. It's not about laziness, it's ease of access! That's very important for a space whore. :)


She wasn't supposed to be a space whore... she was supposed to be a nice nerdy reserved girl! Wahhh...

Plus, she looks way, way too skinny in a bikini; I think she needs to take a few extra trips to that diner to eat some muddy-graphics curry. Either that, or she needs to stop using that overblown excuse for a gun, and get some physical activity in battle instead.

Eruyt Village? Nah, the Viera did nothing for me. That and I wasn't much of a fan of FFXII's art style, Nameless Girl aside.


Butt...butt how could you feel that way? Terrifyingly bad puns aside, the art style was a little bit bland- a lot of the characters seemed really stylized. It's not necessarily a bad thing, for me, it's just the way the game was made.

Ouch, all the Yuna-hate! I understand all the complaints about her missing personality, however it does not change the fact that she is hot. This was hottest characters, not favorite characters, regardless of how much overlap there seems to be.


True, but I find that personality can, much of the time, really influence how attractive a person is to me. If the most gorgeous person in the world had a heart of stone and a horrid demeanor, I probably wouldn't find them all that hot. Of course, to each his own.

No, I have not been, nor plan to be, on any episode of To Catch a Predator.



Oho, but neither were those guys who were caught with their pants down! I'm just teasing you, Slashlen. Thanks for writing back, you plant-fetish-haver you.

Simple and easy.

Hey Matt,

When you go back to play an old playstation game, do you dig out a still functioning PS to play it on, or do you play it on a PS2? (or PS3 - can they play PS games? I don't recall)



Yes, PS3s can play PS1 games... as far as I know. There may be some that aren't run properly, on that big ol' list published by Sony that I used to have a link to in my sidebar.

And to answer your question, no I don't! Why? I don't have an original PlayStation. So, I play it on my PS2. It seems to do the trick, and then some- there are some graphics smoothing options available in the system menu that are kind of funky in certain games.

Uhhh... heheheh.

Is it me, or was the word "shitty" used in both columns for the last two days? What exactly is Q&A's limit on profanity now anyway? Are we the readers allowed to say words like that as well now?


Heh, oops. I think I used it today, too. Maybe I should edit that out. I always felt in my inner being that the s-word just isn't as bad as some other words, but yeah, some people find it offensive.

I don't mean to be a garbage-mouthed-garbagram, but lately, I guess I've been letting things slip. Everybody KNOWS what I really want to say when I use mother-satisfying euphemisms anyway.

However, I am sorry if I've surprised or offended anybody, and I'll watch my tongue in the future, for fear that people will come after me with a dental vice and a bar of soap. Hopefully I can be forgiven! If not, you can all go *@%# yourselves.

Uhhh... heheheh.

Dear Matt,

Hi, I've been reading the letters page for a while now, but this is my first time writing in. First off, on the subject of hot RPG characters, I want to say that I liked most of Slashlen's choices, and it doesn't make him a pedophile to to say that he'd like to see Suikoden V's Lym grow up. Euram Barrows is a pedophile, since he flirts with her WHILE she's a child, and it seems apparent that it's for reasons beyond the purely political marriage she ends up in during the game. But that just makes it more satisfying to watch his feeble schemes fall apart. Besides, as far as Lym is concerned, if her mother and aunt are any indication, it seems apparent that she's destined to one day be a hottie of epic proportions (and most likely WITH epic proportions.)


Oy. From someone who has never played the game, you could certainly take that in a few different directions. She might have come from a family of eight-foot-tall bobble-head giants, for instance. Hey, you never know...

Another point that I have to agree with is Shion. I loved her design in episode 1. The cute Vector uniform, the glasses, it looked good on her, and she was different. For the first time in my recollection, the central hero of a major RPG wasn't a teenaged boy with a sword, but a cute she-nerd. And then the developers decided to make her look like a 1980's rock band groupie. Yeah, it was a sexy outfit. I'm shallow enough to admit that, but it came at the cost of what had made her so appealing in the first place.


Exactly! Her unique charm was quickly lost to the need to conform. Sad.

And keeping in the Xenosaga frame of mind, KOS-MOS should get a mention. On top of being well-built in every sense of the term (why does a combat android need high heels? Who cares?) her grace of movement and ability to easily wield gatling guns the size of her entire body is not to be ignored. And if it weren't for what I'm guessing is an approaching plot twist (in the middle of episode 3 right now) the borderline slashiness between KOS-MOS and Shion would be a contributing factor as well.


Oho, I won't say anything. But yeah, I love KOS-MOS too, and if I were straight, I'd think she was really hot. Actually, as it stands, I kind of want to bury my face in her long, flowing, incredibly-soft-looking blue hair already... just because.

Also, in order to add to the discussion, there are two hot characters that I don't think I've seen mentioned yet. Karin Koenig and Ouka, both from Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Karin is a german soldier with a fencing style of fighting, and Ouka is a magically- and genetically-engineered super soldier created by one of the game's antagonists to resemble the woman he loved. Both are sexy without showing a lot of skin, tough and feminine at the same time.


See- that, to me, makes more sense. I think that a character is truly "hot" when they can pull it off without running around in half-unzipped pants or boobs that are hanging out, apparently for purposes of easier combat. It leaves more to the imagination!

And while on the subject, I think I recall you saying that you had problems with the first one, but I thought Covenant was extremely enjoyable and a good example of balance between main story and sidequests, since most of them give your characters improved moves, weapons and spell sets, and the more major ones have storyline significance to the characters involved. The optional uberboss that you have to fight with Yuri alone, for instance, has a very important reason for being there, and defeating him unlocks Yuri's most powerful transformation. Plus, Covenant has Joachim! Best. Vampire. EVER.


Oh, I do enjoy bonus material that isn't just there for the sake of being there. It's true that I had difficulties with Shadow Hearts, mostly because I grew bored with it. I was enjoying my first years at university at the time, so between nights out on the town and my classes, I didn't have the patience for a game that didn't click with me. Sad, though... I still have my savefile.

Also want to point out a few ladies from Luminous Arc. It's a pretty lightweight SRPG, but I've been using it as a temporary placeholder until FFTA2 comes along. Anyway, there are three witches that caught my attention. Mavi, the Nature Witch; not the prettiest, but I have a thing for tall, athletic women. She's definitely athletic, being more a martial artist than a magic user, and if the character portraits in dialog are an indication, she's one of the tallest characters in the game. Second would be Claire, the Thunder Witch, leader of the witches. Though in dire need of some self-confidence, she's the most elegantly beautiful character in the game, and her dress is very figure-flattering. Third, on a more purely shallow level, has to be Vanessa, Witch of Immolation. As I understand it, most straight guys prefer their fantasies to be more attainable and realistic. Not me. She's hot-headed and violent, but I find myself looking forward to every encounter with her and her behemoths. (I'll leave it up to you to guess whether or not I'm talking about her pet monsters.) Plus her weapon of choice is a giant scythe, and I have an appreciation for unconventional weaponry.


Oh my god, I've never seen the word "behemoths" used... suggestively, but reading your words made me laugh out loud. What has my poor column turned into?

And it seems that you are into giant women after all. Maybe my comments about Lym weren't too far off the mark! Ahahahahahaha.

And that said, I should probably wrap this letter up. Hope it wasn't too long-winded for a first time.

-Crow Magnon


Oh no, Crow, it was a pleasure, and I thank you much. Write back again soon, if you feel like it!


I dunno about good RPG music, but I am absolutely convinced Persona 3 ripped off a DDR soundtrack B-side set for its bg music.




Yikes! I don't even know what that means, but it doesn't sound good.


This one I promise will be short and painless. There is a website that reviews videogame soundtracks, it's I'm sure people know about it but I stumbled across it a few days ago.



Why yes, that's my very favourite RPG-related website. Er, wait a sec.

Actually, we do soundtrack reviews too, though it's a newer aspect of our site. I think that our own barieuph would be elated to receive one from an ambitious reader!


Interesting column. I hope that it was enjoyable for you!

But don't go anywhere: Three more are yet to come this week, so stay glued to your monitor until the next one comes up. Actually, don't... that might just give you a massive eyestrain-related headache. Actually, I think I just talked myself into a new hot topic: If you can remember, what's the longest you've ever found yourself playing an RPG in one sitting? Did you regret it afterwards?

My mailbox and I will be awaiting your letters, so don't hesitate: Tell me your stories, send me your thoughts, and help me build another great column for tomorrow!

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