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ASK MATT
Ombudskitty
September 27, 2007

Matt Demers - 24:48 EST

WATCHING "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" diminishes my brain cells at an unbelievably rapid rate. Where do they find these people? Who could possibly think that "drove" is an adverb? AAAAH!

We went out to dinner tonight, and for dessert, I had this banana cheesecake that came wrapped in a fried tortilla with sugar, caramel, chocolate sauce and french vanilla ice cream. I'm still coming off that high right now. I'd tell you more, but this has absolutely nothing to do with RPGs. Granted, my real life has very little to do with RPGs either, thanks to LIFE, but ah shore do like talkin' about 'em nonetheless. So, let's start.




LETTERS
This really is from a long-time reader, first-time writer!


Hi Matt!

I've always enjoyed reading the Q & A column at RPGamer, I think I've been reading it for almost 8 years now @_@. (Wow, has it been 8 already!?) It's always sad when a Q & A host leaves. I feel as if a best friend suddenly has to leave town.

Matt

Awww! I'll still be around, in spirit. Maybe I'll even write some letters of my own, for a seriously twisted change of pace.

I've been reading for a long time too, though maybe not eight years. I've read the column since the days of Google and Castomel, so I was thrilled at the chance to jump in and take the honourable position. I had to destroy a few people to do it, though.

Anyhow, moving along to hot topics. Hmm.......which game hooked me. Well, the first RPG I ever played was.........Dragon Warrior. Whenever I visited my cousin I'd play that game. However, I remember being disappointed that there was no dragon nearly as cool as the one on the box/instruction manual.

Matt

Your cousin, my grandma. Yeah, that dragon on the front cover was hardcore, with those fiery-red eyes, and then all we got was that big eight-bit light-blue thing as the final boss! Oh, with a fireball, I forgot. Ooooo.

I looove Dragon Warrior. I mean, if there's one thing that anyone who has read my column has learned over the past two years, it is that my love for this series is deep and unwavering. I only hope that I've "converted" a few people along the way.

Fast forward a couple of years and I saw Final Fantasy IV at a friend's house. I was instantly hooked. Loved everything about the game Unfortunately, I didn't know that the Final Fantasies were standalone stories. So when Final Fantasy VI came out, I was confused about the fact none of the characters in FFIV returned. So in summary FF IV hooked me while Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger kept me addicted. Breath of Fire was new and interesting but I didn't like it too much.

Matt

Heh heh- that kind of reminds me of an issue that we had, back before the days I had access to the big bad internet. Basically, when we heard that Final Fantasy VII came out, we were shocked, since we realized that we had only seen FF games up to III. For some strange reason, a rumour started floating around that our Final Fantasy III was actually two games in Japan, split at the end of the Floating Continent between the Worlds of Ruin and Balance. Obviously, they were untrue, and I don't know how they started, but yeah.

I don't know what that has to do with what you just said, looking back now, but... oh well!

Now, moving onto the most disappointing game. It would have to be a tie between Parasite Eve 2 and Chrono Cross.. Both games suffered from having to live up to incredibly high expectations. However, everything fun about the respective titles' predecessor was removed in the sequels.

Chrono Cross suffers from random character syndrome. It's like a failed attempt at copying Suikoden. At least each of the 108 Stars of Destiny contributed to the game, either by adding things to your castle or having a personal quest/gripe with the antagonist(s) in the game. Chrono Cross had none of this with the exception of Kidd I believe. All the other characters seem to be recruited for the most random of reasons, often with little or no backstory to them. Then there was the removal of the Techs. The elemental system was unique, but it wasn't fun. The few Techs. in the game were not particularly fun to use, nor did they give the player any advantage in battle. In short, they are to be used once to appreciate the visual effect, and then shoved in a corner and to be forgotten.

Matt

Yes, exactly. They were completely unfun to use, and more precisely, to set up. Allocating those blasted things was such an exercise is frustration. It was incredibly time-consuming, and you needed to do it every time you swapped characters- unless you wanted to use the crappy Auto-Allocate system instead... no thank you.

The characters were all too similar as well. I mean, they were different, and very random, and largely immemorable. But at the end of the day, I didn't really know or care who to use, and since changing characters/re-allocating elements was such a pain in the ass, I didn't do it very often.

Parasite Eve 2........Or Resident Eve 2 as I call it. Everything fun about Parasite Eve was taken out, while the deficiency in aiming from Resident Evil were implemented. I am referring to the infamous rooted to the ground while turning to aim that both games suffered from. The upgrading of weapons (and armor) was nearly entirely removed. Guns are no longer fun, powerful, nor customizable. In fact, I remember running through a large portion of the game sticking the bayonet attachment through enemies because it beat shooting >.> Next, the Parasite Powers that Aya developed innately was removed completely. They now had to be 'bought' instead of evolving on their own. Survival of the fittest is not in play here as it was in the first Parasite Eve. Rather, it is survival of the Richest as whoever can earn the most points can then 'buy' the best parasite powers.

Matt

Yeah, that does seem pretty lame. I can't really say, though- I'm a Parasite virgin. (Out of context, that sounds like a very good thing.)

In closing, faults in gameplay can be forgiven, as neither were particularly punishing. However, the horribly weak story that the 2 present in comparison to their forebearers is a quality that no other aspect of the game can redeem (eg music, visuals, etc.)

Matt

I guess this is where the difference lies- I found the fatal flaws in Chrono Cross, at least, to exactly be in the game mechanics themselves. The not-really-very-strong storyline... well, it was okay. For me, anyway.

Phew, I haven't typed this much in a long time. I hope the sentences were mostly intelligible and didn't make your mind scream or your eyes bleed when you read this.

Thanks!
First time writer, long time reader.

Matt

Not at all! I'm glad that you wrote in and made a contribution to the column. Perhaps I'll hear from you again before my time here is up.



Annie, heroic kitty!


Hey. Sorry to hear about Annie. Hope she's better soon.

Matt

Hey there! Eh, she's doing a little better. She's still a little stuffed up, and she's made some strange coughing noises occasionally, but she's gained her playfulness back, which is a good sign. I spent about half an hour with her and a laser pointer today having a little bit too much evil fun.

What do you think about pets in RPGs? I personally feel a bit bummed they play a larger role in MMORPGs, though they aren't given any character development. My favourite RPG pet is FFVI's Interceptor (Shadow's dog).

-Virtuoso

Matt

I know! I don't have any idea why that is, either. Interceptor is definitely a great example, but some pets are just not as fun- Rinoa's Angelo is a little bit silly sometimes, though cute. "Oh yeah, my dog can turn into a missile launcher!"

Actually, one other great example is Munchie in Dragon Quest VIII, who is actually quite deeply involved in certain elements of the story. What a fun addition to the game.

Despite these few limited examples, though, I'm hard-pressed to come up with many. Considering how many people have pets in real life, though, I don't see why this sort of thing couldn't become more commonplace in our little genre!

Annie gives an enormous yowl! Everyone dies in fright!

Annie receives 470,522 Experience points and 68 MP (Meow Points)!
Annie gains seventeen levels, reaching Level 52!

Sorry about that, geek moment. But, I'm sure her attack power would be high. Thanks, Virtuoso, it's good to hear from you. :)



Monay monay


Matt,

Are games and gaming systems overpriced? Well, for me personally, yes. That's because I work a minimum wage job, and have to pay for my own games and everything. However, remember that games and gaming systems used to cost even more in the past, way more. And because I actually lived through those days, when I see the prices climbing up again, I don't think it as big a deal as other people do. When I hear people complaining, I basically go into old geezer mode and mention how they don't know how expensive games used to be in my days. Furthermore, consider how much MORE the games and systems CAN cost. They all use very high-tech and sophisticated technology now, and both Microsoft and Sony are indeed losing money for each console sold. So all things considered, I actually think that the prices are fair, in the sense that they aren't too far out of the average gamer's budget, and don't cost as much as they past systems did. When the gaming industry wasn't big at all and games cost less to produce, a developer needed to sell a couple hundred thousands copies of a game to cut even. Now with the game industry being huge with a hundred million gamers, systems and games costing multi-millions to produce and need millions to be sold in order to cut even, they better not exceed gamers' budgets anymore, and I think the curent prices are indeed fair.

FirstAid

Matt

It is a very good point, FirstAid- and it wasn't that long ago that I remember looking on the shelf at Toys 'R' Us and gaping at triple-digit prices on lame-looking Nintendo 64 sports games. Not cool.

So, you're right- nowadays, things are a lot better in that respect, though for me, they're still expensive enough that I can't just go out and buy something on a whim. A $35 DS game, maybe, but certainly not any console game that costs $60 or $70. It's too bad, because I'm really not as likely to go out on a limb with some small-name game that I've never tried before. I'd be even worse that way if I were stuck with a minimum-wage job, too.

As for consoles? My feelings are like this: Sony, or any other company, could use some 2300-intergalactic technology to develop a system using liquid diamonds that ends up costing them $10,000 per system to construct, but that's not going to make me go out and buy the system on the store shelf for $4,999 because it's a "deal." If Sony wants to get serious about this generation and start bringing in some sales, they're going to have to bring the pricepoint back down to earth. I have the money to pay for it if I really wanted to, but a lot of people out there, and a lot of parents looking for Christmas presents, are just not willing to spend $500 or $600 on a stupid system. That's the reality of the situation.



Generosity and crappy, crappy games


Matt,

Thought I'd throw in my vote of hatred for the Saga Frontier game for the PS2, the game truly was an atrocity. I couldn't get more than 15 minutes into the game. It was made even worse for me since I had been in the hospital and my mom bought it for me as a get well present, I've never had the heart to tell her how much the game sucks.

Koala Bob

Matt

That's so sweet of her! But I totally know what that feels like. Don't you hate it when you really aren't a fan of thoughtful presents?

My Aunt once bought me "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" for the NES when I was young, and even at the age of 11, I was pretty much equally snobby about my games as I am now. I always felt terribly guilty about hating the game, until finally I quietly sold it at a yard sale for $2.50. Phew.



A fun DW2 question! How delightfully rare.


Matt,

In DW2, both the original NES version and the GBC version, there is BGM (Background music) that plays at the load game screen. This is a decent piece of music and it's very long (>2 minutes). The song is found nowhere else in whole game. Why did they shoehorn a decent piece like this into the load game screen?

Flamethrower

Matt

Oh, but it is found in-game! Where? Well, perhaps I'll make it one of today's Sock questions. Yeah, you'll have to wait for the answer to this one!



QUICKIES

Poor sick Annie. Does the superior Canadian healthcare system not cover kittens? Even cute ones?

-Mike

Matt

According to this vet bill, the answer is a very, very, strongly resounding NO! Sadly. See? I can't afford a PS3! I have a friggin' kid to pay for all of a sudden.



IN CLOSING

I talked about it a little above, and it's something that has constantly come up again and again over the past year. However, I think I'll make it today's hot topic: Now that all three of the new consoles have been around for nearly a year (or more, in the case of the 360), where do you think this race is going to go? Who will come out on top? And who are you rooting for?

I'll be glad to hear your opinions as always, everybody. Your letters are like my life-blood. My delicious, textual, online life-blood.

Later!



Send a Letter!

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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt refuses to become nocturnal!


It just doesn't work for me. I swear I'll get that sleep tonight, if it's the last thing I do!

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On my Wishlist:

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2. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

4. Dragon Quest IV DS

5. Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass



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2. Shining Force

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

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5. Are new video games and consoles overpriced?



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