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Way Cool
September 20, 2007

Matt Demers - 23:47 EST

SO, FOR THE FIRST TIME since 1976, the Canadian dollar is worth exactly as much as the American dollar. I do believe it may be time to go hunting for some good eBay deals on some old games, my Canadian friends... don't you?

Between six hours on campus, a doctor's appointment, and a debate for an upcoming election in Ontario, I don't have much time today to answer many questions. Fear not, though! I've picked a few brief ones so that you aren't completely devoid of Q&A for the day. Here they are:




LETTERS
Some things


Well Matt,

I'm back. You may remember my rant from a little while ago (could've been one week or a couple of seasons, I genuinely have no idea- the weather doesn't change in my windowless quadraticle of an office) regarding the declining state of RPGs and my purported reasons for their decline. I've become pretty addicted to reading your column and have been slowly amassing responses (like Ryu charging up a Haduken), which I will now release (like Ryu...releasing a Haduken). I don't actually have very many responses- at least not ones I can remember off the top of my head...Here come some bullet points:

Matt

Yep, I remember you! Hopefully you've recovered from your doldrumic (is that a word?) feelings on the state of our great genre, but even if you haven't, what do you have to talk about today?

1) Kingdom Hearts is the shit. Kingdom Hearts II was the shit, kinda. I was stoked out of my mind when II came out, and when I saw that it didn't get all 9.5s like its predecessor, I was pretty upset and almost didn't get it. Actually, I never did get it; this was during the Blockbuster "NO MORE LATE FEES!" debacle, which I naturally exploited by hoarding KHII and playing it as long as I damn well pleased. I'm glad I sacked up and played it, though; it was a little more linear, yes, but the game is just so much damn fun and the story is just as unexpectedly cool as the first (how can a story involving Minnie Mouse be cool?) that it really doesn't matter. It may be that I enjoy the KH games because they come prepackaged with their own nostalgia- rather than having to revisit old Final Fantasy games to get my meth-hit of nostalgia, I just play Kingdom Hearts and romp around in the Pridelands like I'm jacked on catnip. It also doesn't hurt that the first Kingdom Hearts had such spectacular music...I think I remember you bashing it a little, Matt, but you need to go grab a seat at the Traverse Town cafe and then try and tell me that the music isn't catchy as hell and borderline scrumtralescent. Could've done without that Under the Sea theme when I was...under the sea (Haduken!), but it's not like no one saw that coming.

Matt

Yes, that was (and still is) a terrible debacle. Wow, it's so great to get rid of late fees... by instead incorporating them directly INTO the prices of movies and games. Congratulations, Blockbuster; a real winner there.

Anyway, I have no first-hand basis for bashing the second kingdom hearts. However, after playing the first for a little while, I really got the impression that the gameplay in that title consisted of little more than repeatedly hitting the same button. The music, however, is top-notch. And, as I said yesterday, I even have quite a few tracks on my computer, despite the fact that I didn't play the game all the way through. So, I agree with you all the way on that point!

2) I've sorta given up on World of Warcraft. Again. I already gave it up cold turkey a couple of summers ago and didn't rejoin for a year and a half, and I think I'm approaching that point again. But WOW is really good at cultivating that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" bacteria for some reason, so I wouldn't be surprised if down the road I get an undeniable urge to hit up a Stormwind auction or dance by myself in the corner of a haunted forest and resubscribe.

Matt

They're like a disease, those MMOs! A terrible, manifested, vicious disease. It's not just World of Warcraft, either, though I've heard that it has especially addictive properties; I had a couple of friends who kept going back to Everquest time and time again, each time losing a small fraction of their souls to the game. Man, I don't know what I'd do if I got sucked into the MMO trap.

3) My ongoing quest for unique and awesome RPGs has led me to revisit FFVIII, and I'm sincerely enjoying this second go-around. Squall is a sulky mother, but I wouldn't have my Square protagonists any other way (Vaan can go to cheery protagonist hell...not to bring up the sore subject of Vaan's questionable role as protagonist in the first place). I tried to play Zelda TP on my Gamecube, but that game is too graphically detailed for my lilliputian TV, so I'm letting it rest until papa can afford a brand new bag. Next up for me is probably going to be Persona III, since everyone seems to love it so much. I swear, though: I will vaporize my Playstation if it all turns out to be a reality show in the end.

Matt

Eh, it doesn't sound like it. I really haven't heard much in the way of negative press surrounding Persona 3, so hopefully this only means good things. As for protagonists, well... I really don't understand how or why Vaan and Penelo ended up getting dragged into the whole plot- especially since it seems like the plot was developed and crafted "in the distance," so to speak, rarely involving the characters (and, sadly, the player) directly. I may get a bit of backlash from making that statement, but those are my feelings.

4) Hottest RPG character ever? Quina Quinn from FFIX. Now THAT'S sex appeal. Honorable mention goes to Cait Sith. The stuffed moogle, not the cat.

Matt

Ah, they're right up there with Ershin from Breath of Fire IV, and Umaro of FFVI. Who doesn't want to have a taste of some hot sasquatch-on-man action? *shudder*

5) What the crap is this SOCK thing that gets mentioned every day? I keep waiting for someone to accidentally define it for me, but it hasn't happened. WHAT! THE CRAP! IS! SOCK! WHAT IS IT!?

Matt

It's my little game! <3

There's a link to it on the sidebar, and about 65 people participate in it actively. Basically, you answer trivia questions and try to attack enemies in the hopes of landing a kill, making you stronger- even though it comes down to a lot of luck, I think it's fun. The name stands for the "Spectacular Ongoing Contest of Knowledge." And there you have it.

6) This one time, my brother was playing FFVI and it was my turn, so I threw a boot at his head. I got my turn back. The next time he stole my turn, I slew him with my Gunblade.

Matt

That's not very nice. I hope you had some Phoenix Down in the medicine cabinet.

That's all the bullet points I can mustard today. Mustard?

RUFiO

Matt

Thanks for ketching-up. Har har. Good to hear from you, sir!



Kittens and Suikoden!


So how is Annie settling in? (Update LJ, dammit.) Who, if anyone, is she named after?

Matt

Ack! Yeah, I've kind of abandoned my Livejournal account over the past year, with the rest of life busifying up. Sorry 'bout that, but perhaps I'll have more time to take care of it once my days here are up.

Also, Annie has taken to us ridiculously well. She's on my bed looking on as I type. She's named, in part, after "anniversary," since Tom and I brought her home on our fourth, which was last weekend. I know, "awwwww." :P

Am I alone in biting my fingernails off for a new Suikoden? It's probably the most richly textured RPG series of all time, full of hundreds of years of detailed history and the better part of a thousand characters, and people seem indifferent about the possibility that there might not be another one. (Konami's about to announce a couple more titles for next year--cross your fingers.)

-Mike

Matt

Don't bite too much! Don't you hate it when you can't stop, though, and you have to "just even them out" by biting a little bit further, and then you end up in awful burning pain? I used to do that all the time, until I noticed that it hurt like hell and that by stopping, the associated pain could be easily prevented.

Anyway, Mike, a LOT of RPGamers are holding their breath over an announcement of Suikoden VI. If there's a time in the near future to be announced, these next few days would be it, as the TGS proceeds! Keep your fingers and other appendages crossed.



A Puerto Rican's problems


I was finishing playing though super paper mario the other day and noticed what I thought was an annoying new trend: the use of "100" floor dungeons as side quests to abnormaly lengthen the game. Off the top of my head I can think of FFX-2 using the same device and I have a few others on the tip of my tongue that I can't name at the moment. One of the main problems I have with the pit in super paper mario is that in the second version of the pit one has to comlete the pit twice!!! to get anything really good out of it. The first time through the pit (and it takes a few hours without any save points) you encounter an empty room. To me this seems like a flagrant attempt to lengthen a game and fill up time with a device that is very repetative and often boring. I was wondering if anyone else had comments on this trend and what did other people think are the worst offenders when it comes to filler in rpgs and video games in genera l.

Greg

Matt

Oh, tell me about it. I don't know if it's a trend of games in general as much as it is a trend in annoying games only. If there was one major complaint that I had about Super Paper Mario, it was the absolute ridiculous amount of needless backtracking and fetchquesting. It escalated to such a ridiculous point in World 7, where you needed to chat with some witches or something, and do them random stupid pointless favours by wandering five minutes backwards in the stage... multiple times. I was really frustrated at that point, and I wish that Nintendo (and Square Enix, in the case of Final Fantasy X-2!) could put a little bit more thought into extending quest-times. I only have so many hours in the day to spend gaming, and if I'm going to have to use them up mindlessly going back and forth for some totally contrived reason, I'd really rather not play the game in the first place.

That said, FFX-2 and Paper Mario are both fun in their own ways. But, I agree with you: Some development efforts could put a lot more work into extending quests in a more enjoyable manner.

Thanks for the rant, Greg! It's so true.



QUICKIES

Hey there, Matt

Quickie question: If you could pick an existing song to use as the ending song of an RPG you would design if you were given the opportunity to, which song would it be?

-CW

Matt

Ugh, what a horrible question. Not a terrible question to ask, but for me to answer: I just don't listen to a lot of music outside that of RPGs, so my answer would be something terribly lame and a little bit embarrassing. I'll spare you.



IN CLOSING

Well, it's not the longest column ever, and it won't do much to put a dent in my infinitobacklog, but I've done what I can. I'll be back tomorrow too, as we chat a little bit more about the issues that matter to you. Ugh, now I sound like a smarmy politician: That's what I'll get for watching the Ontario Leaders' debate!

More tomorrow, everybody!



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Matt is going to have a late night tonight!


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