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Too Close to Call
September 12, 2007

Matthew Demers - 19:55 EST

EARLY DAYS DO NOT make Q&A hosts named Matt terribly happy. So, you could imagine my demeanor when my academic sister, Kim, requested our second lecture to take place at 8:30 in the horrible morning today, for medical reasons (i.e. she had a doc's appointment, not that she's allergic to hours that are post-10 o'clock). I understand, I understand, and no hard feelings towards her, but arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! Now I feel like a piece of awful.

Actually, it was made worse by the fact that the monstrous roar of the garbage truck undulated through my apartment at some horrifying time like 6:48 this morning. Even the morning people among you might find that a little ridiculous.

As such, this may be a short-letter day; that's all I have the patience for at desperate times like these. Given that many of you have expressed a great preference for short letters anyway, I'll manage to please some of you in doing so, I imagine.

Oh yeah, and Sock 2 will be exciting today too. You should tune in. <3

Fuzzy memories...


I'm back to answer a couple more of your "Hot Topics"


Fanshmastic. Have at 'er, to put it like a yokel.

1) My first RPG? Wow. Well I was working at a FuncoLand(remember those?) and the store I worked in was in a Strip Mall so we were particularly slow. But, everyday the owner of the Chinese food restaurant would come in and the manager would let him play a game. So one day while I was left in charge of the store, he came in and started playing a game called Shining Force for the Sega Genesis. I watched with utter confusion on what was going on, when he got beeped(remember those?) and he told me to play his game. He was gone for about an hour and thus he lost about an hour of game-play in Shining Force. Needless to say I was hooked. I brought the game that night and played it until 2AM. I was in love. A few weeks later another game came out Final Fantasy III, my co-worker picked it up and invited back to his house to play the game with him for a little while. From that moment on I knew I was hooked on RPG's and started looking for and buying all RPG's I could get my hands on. I would say now about 60-70% of my video game collection consists of RPG's and I have about 600+ games.


Man, I do remember FuncoLand, but not because of any personal experience. I don't even think they were in Canada at all. What happened to them?

Who'd have thought, though? You actually got your start on the genre by playing on a demo station!? First of all, I've almost never seen an RPG playing on one of those, presumably because the store owners just assume that everyone would rather play the latest rubber-stamp sports or racing game... for some reason.

Unique, I must say, but funly so. I like that you knew that he was the owner of a Chinese restaurant... it's such a fun pointless detail, and now I kinda want some Black Pepper Beef. That's one in Shining Force's column, anyway. Thanks for sharing!

3) The longest I played an RPG in one sitting? I answered this one a while back. I remember playing and beating a PAL copy of Terranigma (amazing game by the way) in one sitting. My PAL converter wouldn't allow me to save and it was a rainy day so I figured I might as well do it in one sitting. 8AM to about 11PM with an occasional bathroom break and a snack. Good times........good times.


Ahh scary! Just imagine the risks you took, looking back. Certain disasters happen with alarming frequency: Power surges, careless fathers walking through the room without picking up their feet, catching on the controller cord and ripping the system out of the wall, etc.

Very courageous of you. And I've heard that Terranigma is terrific. Damn Europeans... they have all the fun. (I'm definitely joking, don't slam me.)

5) Which RPG's have the best soundtracks? Well, I don't want to sound too cliché but I would have to Final Fantasy although I am interested in Dragon Warrior/Quest's music. DQ8 was my first foray into the series *waits to be scolded* and I thought the music was great and will do some research and pick up some soundtracks in the future. But Final Fantasy is simply amazing. I even went to the Dear Friends: Music from Final Fantasy concert in Los Angeles on May 25, 2005. Side note: I live in New York. This was the first time this concert was ever in America. I was blown away. It was just "WOW" I liked it so much that when it came to the East Coast (Hartford, CT) I made sure to scoop up tickets and watch the concert live for the second time.


I won't be scolding you or anyone for just playing DQVIII; in fact, that's about the best place you could possibly start. I think that the music was absolutely fantastic too, but like you, I tend to prefer the music of Final Fantasy more, especially now that Sakimoto is on board. I guess that remains to be seen for FFXIII, but holy crap, I loved the soundtrack of XII, and I think that it was one of the very strongest things about that game.

That said, I've never had the pleasure of going to any video-game-music related concerts. The Black Mages came to Detroit a few years back, which is -very- close to home, and my sister and I really wanted to go... but I think that was the same weekend that my older sister got married. Unfortunately, in the scheme of things, the wedding took precedence. Stupid Annette.

That is all for today.......I think.........Yes, that's all.



Hey, good to hear from you again, Chris. It seems I've been publishing a lot of your letters lately... perhaps they're just that great. Hopefully this one won't be your last!

...but she has a great personality...

Hey Matt,

It is nice to see that when people consider the "Hotness" factor of a female character, many of them take personality into account. I totally agree that personality can make or break hotness. I have seen many women I would not normally consider hot, but due to their fantastic personality, they are. And vice versa. Someone who is incredibly hot but annoying or devoid of personality quickly falls off that scale of hotness.


But of course! I wouldn't care how picture-perfect, long, and lithe the Evil Ice Queen is; if she's a cruel, heartless, wicked Evil Ice Queen, those things would make her seem rather unattractive, to me. The same thing goes with guys, too... Sephiroth might have wicked abs, but the whole twisted-mind wannabe-god aspect and strange mommy-son relationship? Yeah, not exactly turn-ons.

A game where there should be lots to find...

So! How much do you want to bet Infinite Undiscovery uses the same Star Ocean/Valkyrie Profile sound effects? Wahh, I have to buy an Xbox 360 to find out? Darn you, Tri-Ace!


Oh, the chances are high, given that, as you say, it'll be a tri-Ace phenomenon. It sounds neat, but I'll bet that it's still a ways away in terms of release date. "Hopefully" and "near future" used in the same sentence? It reeks of consumer appeasement. This will probably end up as yet another game that I'd buy IF I had a 360, but wouldn't buy a 360 for. I guess this ever-lengthening list begs the question: When does a sum of okay-looking games become as weighty as a single MUST-HAVE game? The wrestling match continues (the one in my head, that is).

By the way, you did not just tell me you buy your games because of cute sound effects. You so silly~

A Blue Dragon report!

Hey Matt,

I haven't played too much Blue Dragon yet (about 10 hours), but I thought I'd give my opinion thus far.


Sweet. And hey, Oliver! It's been a little while.

The review scores are generally far too low, and I'd chalk that up to the media's general disdain for traditional RPGs. Blue Dragon is certainly not groundbreaking, but it is very solid, as it should be, considering who's at the helm.


That's true. I do consistently get pissed off when I read what Gamespot (etc) has to say about my favourite style of game. So, maybe I should be taking their reviews with a grain of salt after all.

I'm surprised nobody has yet compared the job system in Blue Dragon to that of FFV, because they're practically identical. This is hardly a bad thing, and they have tweaked a few aspects-you can now equip more than 1 ability to your class, which was the biggest problem in FFV in my opinion. I think you can equip five at the start, and you can find and equip items that give you more ability slots.


I see. Yeah, it's not a bad thing in some respects, but then you lack the individuality that I love about non-job-system RPGs; I'm just not as into systems where characters all become rubber-stamps of one another over time. They can WORK just fine, don't get me wrong. Is there anything individualized about each character's abilities?

The battle system is fairly tradition turn-based stuff, but still very solid and with a few tweaks added, such as the charge meter-(hit a sweet spot to enhance certain aspects of certain abilities), and the ability to pick and choose your fights. (Play your cards right, you can get two monsters to fight eachother).


Sounds meat-and-potatoesy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The story...well, I've only played 10 hours so I can't say much about it. It seems decent enough, although rather cliched. The main character is very annoying, due largely to his incompetent, over-emoting voice actor. (Which is a shame, because the rest of the cast is quite solid).


Yeah, that is too bad. Voice acting can be a great thing when it's done well. When it is not done well, however, it make a great game seem good, or a decent game seem mediocre. I generally don't care all that much about voice acting myself, though; we all endured Final Fantasy X, and heck, I thought Star Ocean 2 was great back in the day. If you don't know how bad the voices were in that game, you owe it to yourself to do some research on the subject. Those voices were bad.

I don't know where you heard that the music is bad, because in my opinion, it's just as good as we've come to expect from Mr. Uematsu. Overall, the soundtrack tends to remind me of FFIX. Yes, the boss theme has lyrics, but I don't find it all that out-of-place. It's actually kinda nice, and quite different from the norm.


Hmm, it's only secondhand information, so I don't know. I heard from a friend that after hearing the soundtrack, they lost all desire to play the game, which obviously doesn't say much. It might have been melodrama, since I have a few friends who like to get really excited over stupid things. But I also read a couple of reviews that didn't give very high praise for the music of the game, and so that's where I got this wacko idea from.

Your words, however, are encouraging! Perhaps it isn't so bad... or perhaps, rather, reviewers have been spoiled on crazy, orchestrated, million-dollar-masterpiece soundtracks lately. I don't have the answers.

Anyways, maybe I'm not too qualified to speak about it, having only played 10 hours, but I thought I'd just let you know that I, for one, am really enjoying the game. No, it's not a "final fantasy killer" ,but c'mon....were you really expecting it to be?


Eh, that's what the hype machine told me. I knew it was malfunctioning again...

Oh, and just for good measure, the game is beautiful. It features artwork from Mr. Toriyama, who, as we all know, did the character design for the infamous Dragon Quest VIII.


Yes indeed. Leave it to you to stick the wrench in- you know where to tickle me to get the results you want. :P

Truly, if I had a 360 to play it on, I'd have purchased this game long ago in order to draw my own conclusions. This hearsay business isn't my forte, but it's all I have to go on. Plus, the game was the one that I was really looking forward to for the system.

Blue dragon is only part of the reason I bought a 360 anyways. Certain titles like Lost Odyssey, another Mistwalker title, are looking pretty sweet as well.


Ah yes, it's true. Lost Odyssey looks like it'll be an enormous game, and I'm really hopeful for it. I feel like I'm dangling precariously close into impulse-buy-360-land, but I need a real push to truly justify it. Perhaps this will be it.

Thanks for your time, I'll write in again upon completion. And I'll be sure to send a few more letters to you before your time is up, Matt.



Thanks Oliver!! It's good to hear from you again after so long. I'll be around for a few more months, so don't despair. I hope you're doing well, and thanks for sending us your preliminary report. (Since it's been almost a week since you sent the letter, I wouldn't be surprised if you were ready with a secondary report already!)


Hey Matt,

Do you have any thoughts about the upcoming Growlanser game? Were any of the earlier ones any good?



I don't know much about the game besides the fact that it's going to be very hard to find, it being a "Single-run Limited edition" thing and all. A new tactical RPG could be great news for loyal PS2 owners. I also can't tell you anything about previous games in the series, because this is the first one ever to be translated and brought over. Another victory for the west!


Thanks, everybody, for contributing!

Let me just remind you, too, that I really do my best to get around to everybody's letters. The problem is that I have so much in my inbox that it's utterly unrealistic to include each and every one, as much as I'd like you. It's a tricky business, trying to get everyone in the spotlight occasionally, while balancing the material on any given day so that there's a wide variety of different stuff covered. Please be patient and understanding!

Okay, now, for a new hot topic: The Tokyo Game Show is quickly approaching! In your dream world, what crazy announcements or startling revelations would you love to see happen? This is the big one, folks...

Until tomorrow, I bid you all a fond farewell!

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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/Metroid Original

2. Shining Force

3. The Legend of Zelda (NES)

On my Console Roster:

1. Metroid Prime 3

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

3. Tales of Symphonia

Hot Topics:

1. What was the RPG that got you into the genre to begin with?

2. What games/RPGs are you looking forward to this fall?

3. What's the longest you've ever played an RPG in one sitting?

4. What announcements are on your wishlist from the Tokyo Game Show?

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

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