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ASK MATT
Whose Fault is This? October 26, 2005

Matt Demers - 00:48 EST

YOU FEEL THE MOST lazy when the professor of your only class decides to skip town for a week and a half's time, but only after extending your ONLY assignment by that long, plus some. The result? While I'm busy with ALL of life, it seems, I feel slothful at the exact same time. Slothful feelings breed excess lethargy, which is evident in the fact that I fell asleep on the city bus coming back from campus today.

Oh well, what's life without a little narcolepsy? I'm sure Starbucks appreciates it; that much is certain.

Now for letters:




L E T T E R S
FAQs!? Bad! Bad!


Hi Matt.

I'm playing Radiata Stories right now and though it's a lot of fun, I've encountered a problem - the game is too massive and has too many things you can miss.

Obviously you've heard that it has 177 recruitable characters and obviously I must have them all! Alas, I'm resorted to using an FAQ (although it's not very detailed) to get all the characters and not miss out on anything.

Matt

Hey-- if an RPG is going to have a problem, this is the problem to have, don't you think? We complain far more often that games don't contain enough stuff, after all. 177 characters DOES seem like a little overkill, though since I have yet to play the game, I can't really pass a fair judgment.

How do you feel about using an FAQ on the first playthrough? I usually resort to an FAQ only before the last battle/dungeon so I can complete all the side quests. Do you enjoy games more if they're a bit more linear but you know you're doing everything you can? Do you prefer to have a lot of possibilities at any moment, when you know choosing one option will restrict you from choosing others later on?

I suppose it helps with replay value but I don't mind playing games twice even if they don't have added bonuses or a New Game+ mode. So I just like to keep things simple, as uncreative as it may seem...

Zohar Gilboa

Matt

I am firmly against the use of FAQs, walkthroughs, internet sites, strategy guides, hint books, cheat codes, cheap tricks, knowledgeable friends during the first playthrough.

Why? I'm just too concerned with keeping a new RPG pure, "pristine" and clear. I want to walk in the freshly fallen snow and make the first footprints, not walk in somebody else's. The worst thing in the RPG world for me is when someone tells me (purposefully or not) who is about to leave your party, when the world is going to end, or who the final boss is.

That said, I'm not entirely against their use altogether: these resources were built for following re-playthroughs. SEE what you can discover on your own first, and then once you've finished the experience, play it again. Find out what you could have accomplished the first time around, and allow yourself a chance to see everything else the game has to offer. If the game was adequately well-made, the second time around should be just as great as the first, whether the second time is a week later or a year later.



Great Debate o'er games people hate?


Hi Matt!

First my SOCK answers: 25)e 26)b

I don't really know if there really is significantly more division on PS1 rpgs then there are for todays. Out of the titles you listed, I'd say the PS2 Suikoden titles get debated more fervently than the PS1 games. I'd say the same for the Xeno games too. But if there is, perhaps it can be attributed to being a dividing line of sorts between old school and new school. I think the Chrono games makes a good example of this, I've always thought of CT's gameplay as 'old school', and CC's is much more experimental. Same thing with the older FFs versus, say, FF8. I think if there's a debate, it's generally based on gameplay more than it is based on the platform. This is especially true within series - stay the same? or try something new?

Matt

See, I think that it's more widely agreed upon that Suikoden III and IV are ungood and doubleplusungood, respectively. You're right, though, that there is much disagreement over the quality of the Xenosagas of today.

The amount that games deviate within a single series is a very touchy issue. Gaming companies want to be able to provide more of the same goodness by releasing a sequel to a popular game, so they have to include a certain number of familiar elements when they produce one. However, they run a risk by not changing enough. Magazine reviewers seem to like to pick on games that don't change much from previous titles, and the last thing a video game company wants is for a moneymaking idea to "get stale".

I'm with you on PC RPGs. I really don't know why I don't play them, but it's pretty rare for me to even look them over. I haven't really played anything on PC since Starcraft. I've heard good things about Fallout and Planescape: Torment though so maybe someday I'll check those out. But there's so much to play on consoles now, I just may never give myself time to do so. At least 1-2 titles a month catch my interest, so where's the time for the PC.

Matt

Yeah, and since consoles are designed solely for the playing of games, you know that with a console game, you're not going to be missing some random driver, you're not going to lack adequate disk space, and you're not going to have to worry about the game running at a sub-optimal level for whatever technical reason. It seems like risky business on the technical side, which is compounded by the fact that I'm very unsure about the inherent game quality of any particular title; combine the two and you get an unlikely customer out of me as an end result.

Soo...onto questions. Since you're a big DW fan, I'd like to hear what you think about 7. It's been quite a while since I've played it myself...I still haven't beaten it, for some odd reason I just stopped playing after I got to the very end 105 hours after I started. I like the gameplay and it has a decent storyline. It has a lot of backtracking, and while that doesn't bother me maybe that's why it put some people off. You spend a LOT of time going in and out of those ruins. So I guess while I wouldn't put it up there with 3, it's still a really good game if you ask me.

Thank you for listening...or reading I guess. hehe
Jeremy

Matt

Oh Jeremy, Dragon Warrior VII is far from a pleasant experience for many people who play it. It's very long. The storyline isn't the strongest in the world. The out-of-battle graphics are detestable to anyone who likes eye candy, and the music, while superb, gets repetitive nonetheless through a 120-hour quest. The translation is okay, but messy. The game is long. And finally, the game is really long.

The biggest problem for me, though, is none of these things. My biggest problem with Dragon Warrior VII is that it lacks the openness and exploration of every previous Dragon Warrior game, and this is something I hold very dear to me. Sure, it's true that you get to create the world, one island or continent at a time, and the idea is unique and interesting; however, the end result for me is something incredibly linear in comparison to every other title of the series, and that is not something that is pleasing to me.

It's not all bad, though... far from it. Dragon Warrior VII maintains the perfect battle formula that the rest of the series boasts; the perfect amount of challenge, an excellent-yet-simple job system, and obviously, more than its share of old-school gameplay, which is something I can really appreciate, since it's hard to come by these days.

My final say? If you are a fan of the old-school, and you have patience, this is a game to seriously consider picking up. On the other hand, it's probably one of the weakest titles of the series.

Square Enix looks to have addressed so many of these issues for the upcoming DQVIII, though, that I have been truly shocked and impressed. It really seems that they've worked hard to listen to RPG fans in North America, and with some luck, they will deliver in spades in three weeks' time. Advice: Use your Luck Seeds, now, everybody!



A special breed of ADHD


As of late, I find myself being more interested in the games of the past. The new games, I just cannot get into e.g... Romancing Saga, DDS, etc.. I have a sickness it seems. I have played through most of Star Ocean 3, and Xenosaga Episode II, but I cannot finish them. I enjoy the games, but something just clicks in me and I start something new. I grow bored with the game.

I find myself playing old games, and doing everything in the game, sidequests, level building, but I quit right before the end...

Do you find this ever happens with any games for you? I have a list of about probably 8 or 9 games I have done this with.

question answers:

25: I would say Final Fantasy VI, unless you are playing the SNES version, I cannot see anyone putting themselves through the torture of the PSX remake. AHHH runaway !!

26: (b) should be the answer, the northern lights are what they were looking at when the comment was made.

Cerick

Matt

A lot of people have this disorder, you know, and while it hasn't been named medically, it certainly is common. The only game I can think of that ever did this to me was, somewhat ironically, the game that many call their favourite. This happened to me in Chrono Trigger indeed, and as I've mentioned before, I have yet to finish it after many years. It's something about spending so much time fighting a single boss, and then losing. I hated losing that hour-plus of my life, and for some reason (school, other games, or whatever) I never felt motivated enough to try again.

Some people just get hung up in mini-quest-land, notably in games like Final Fantasy VII or X, with such a huge number of optional extra things to do. My sister Diane and my friend Lesley are two people who are guilty of this: Some people are just more interested in the optional quests than they are in getting through the main one. Or, as you mentioned, it's easy to grow bored, too, especially if the storyline isn't a captivating one.

If you don't fit into any of those categories, then the answer is simple: Your attention span is that of a hamster. Go buy Grand Theft Auto: InsertPlaceName.



Legend of Dragoon...drags on


Bonjour Matt,

As a fan of Legend of Dragoon, I'm curious about your reasons for maligning it, though of course I've heard many before.



Matt

To be honest with ya, it's been awhile since I last played it. Legend of Dragoon was interesting, because it integrated a lot of cool ideas together, especially when it came to the battle system: "Layered" characters that can morph into bigger and better ones (somewhat like the Ryus of Breath of Fire games), along with an interesting timed-button press element. The storyline was okay, and the characters were "just" okay.

My biggest beef with Legend of Dragoon was with its pacing. All-in-all, it was just "blah". Despite a unique and interactive battle system, battles still seemed to go on forever in a most horrible manner (especially when in need of healing: "DEFEND... DEFEND... DEFEND... DEFEND..." was a major strategy of mine), and the experience reaped from these battles was horribly meagre indeed. Indisputably, the experience curve of the game was remarkably bad--one of the worst of all time, I'd argue, in that you needed to get through quite literally hundreds of battles at times for a level-up in an area where the boss, when defeated, levelled-up all of your characters twice-over.

Otherwise, I found the game to be just generally boring (and yes, I know, THIS coming from a Dragon Warrior VII fan... shuddap). I can't tell you why, and not because it's a secret.

I wouldn't be too surprised if they stopped making numbered Final Fantasies. I would, however, be sad, as I'm a fan of the traditional "console-style" RPG and the Final Fantasy series has done a good job of upholding that tradition (With the exception of FFXI). If they must put the series to rest, though, I think they should end it with FFXIII, just because 13 is a nice ending number. And the final FF should seem conclusive in some way, though the how of that would require a lot of thought.

I don't know what SOCK stands for, but here I go anyway:
25. A
26. C (Because the Pomeranian Bay makes me think of a sea of fluffy dogs)

-His Neutralness

Matt

SOCK stands for... oh, wait... maybe I'll make that a cheap question for today. What DOES it mean, anyway?

Um, that was an interesting spin on the Final Fantasy question. I personally don't think that it's going anywhere anytime soon, but I do think it's possible that they'll drop the numbers within the next few installments. Doesn't the idea of going up to the counter and saying "I'd like Final Fantasy Sixteen, please!" seem odd, for some reason? I bet that within the next five-or-so years, they'll switch to subtitles, instead: for example, "Final Fantasy: Echidna of Glory", or something like that, though presumably they'll choose something far more enticing than that.

On the other hand, I thought that "Final Fantasy Nine" sounded stupid, back in the day, so what do I know? I think it would be fun to go to the Gamestop at the nearest space station in 2065 to buy Final Fantasy XXVIII, but I doubt it will happen, if only because there's a point where just too many people won't be able to read the Roman Numerals anymore; damn the stupid masses!



Bleah


Vegemite huh, its not that bad. One container that is equiverkant to a Peanut Butter container will last up to 10 times as long. The secret to eating Vege or any other Mite (there are a few) is to spread it very, very, thinly and use lots of butter. A good way to make money is to get a small container (palm sized) and dare someone to eat the contents within 10 seconds. $50 dollars should do it.

Matt

Yech... and that's even less in Canadian funds. Increase the offer tenfold and get back to me.

Finally what do you suggest for an Aussies stocking, i'm thinking about getting Makai Kingdom on the 28th (oct) is there anything worth getting this year.

P.S. My moms cookies can last the distance and make great paperweights, door stops, and shot puts!

P.P.S. Big hint. When playing Morrowind on an X Box, make sure you have 2 save slots and double save, over 60 hours of work down the drain.

A sad Bainick

Matt

My favourite Bainick!! I'm sorry to hear. All mothers should come fully equipped with a wonderful cookie-making ability, and grandmas should be able to back that up if need be. If all else fails, grab a cookbook. Cookies aren't that hard, unless you cook them for too long, in which case you've learned too much from your mom.

Also, Makai Kingdom isn't a bad choice. Sure, it isn't the game-to-end-all-games, but it's far from being bad. I see that Magna Carta is slated for a European release, too, if you're looking for something possibly new and different, as I view the upcoming games list, so maybe you'll be lucky enough to see that on store shelves upon your island all the way down there. It might be worth a shot!

Also, sorry about your luck. This is just reason #3143 to not by an XBox!



No questions here!


Hi there Wonderslime,

Question #25: e) Dragon Warrior VII

Question #26: d) A harvest moon

I say a series can go as far with numbers as it's fans are willing to buy, though honestly tacking a number on or off doesn't change the game or series, Zelda is still going strong after ditching the numbers so is Castlevania, though with Final Fantasy the numbers distinguish the main games from the weird off shoots or at least it did until 11... some game series don't even use the same name per title...(soul blazer/illusion of gaia/terranigma) so I'd say numbers nor titles really matter in the long run of a series

Matt

You make some good points... some good points indeed. Well, maybe not for Castlevania, though. The change-to-subtitles coincided with a slight change-of-genres, and I still prefer the old side-scrollers.

*Matt <3s the music from Super Castlevania IV!!

As far as the love hate relationship with PS1 games goes, one it was one of the early times if not the earliest(Arros sucks at history...) when rpgs went 3D that accounts for some of the love/hate and secondly companies started trying weirder concepts to spice rpgs up, and thirdly more companies equals more games which changes the cool stuff to crap stuff ratio

Arros Raikou

Has no questions

Matt

No questions, but plenty to say!

I think you bring up many more great points. Certainly, the Playstation era was the budding age for the transition to three-dimensions in many genres, including RPGs, as the Nintendo 64 did very little to contribute to that area. I'm quite sure that many Q&As from many sites would have been flooded with outcries from people scared of the change (many still do hate the 3-D ones, even today). The ones that rose to embrace the new graphical styles and original ideas probably set themselves apart from those fiercely defending the more "traditional" stylings. Maybe you're right. People have never been hugely fond of change, to be sure...



Remakes and retranslations?


Howdy Matt!

I just had a question about the GBA port about FFIV. I looked around, but I haven't seen this answered before...

Will this new FFIV have a new translation as well? I remember reading something about the early FFIV translation not being all that great.

As a matter of fact, will the new DS FF III be newly translated as well?

Thanks a lot, man
Congrads on the column
Jake

Matt

I doubt that we'll see a new translation for Final Fantasy IV. It is my understanding that they re-translated it for the Playstation remake back when that happened, so I'm GUESSING that they'll re-use at least most of it. Of course, with new material added, including another dungeon, they'll have to come up with some new stuff regardless, so anything is possible. The original translation for the SNES was a very, very stinky one indeed, so you've read correctly.

Final Fantasy III, of course, will have to undergo a new translation, because an "original translation" didn't exist to begin with. This should be an absolutely spectacular game, and it looks like Square Enix has really pumped a lot of work into it. Here's hoping for something amazing!!



Time for a trip to the guilt store!


With all of this gaming goodness during the holiday season wouldn't you be even more excited if they announced a Breath of Fire sequel? No!? Well, I would!

Matt

No!? You'd assume I'd say NO!? Of course I would. I was very impressed with what the turned the series into with the last installment, and it would be very cool to see if it continues to evolve and improve.

I really thought that Breath of Fire was sinking, since I didn't really like III incredibly lots, and I wasn't fond of IV either, but man... did Dragon Quarter prove me wrong!

Anyway, do you ever find yourself buying new RPG's when you have yet to finish your old ones? Or sometimes trudging (is that a word?) through an old RPG you don't really like for the sake of completing them so you can move on to your new RPG's?

I recently purchased Fire Emblem and Digital Devil Saga 2 and felt the guilt for having started DDS2 when it first came out then I ditched it for Fire Emblem, then I felt guiltier and went back to Xenosaga 2 which I purchased the first day it came out and recently completed today.

Is such guilt reasonable?

RPGamer666

P.S. The side-quests in Xenosaga II suck fatty.

Matt

Yeah, dammit. Those sidequests were the most tacked-on things I've played in such a long time. Honestly, you go from an epic, dramatic quest to rearranging books to dealing with random panels of light-colours for no reason... in thirty-five seconds flat. Garbage indeed.

I'm always trudging through old ones, come on. Every RPGamer has a little twinge of guilt when they think about the games they deposited six or more months ago and still need to "get back to". Zelda: Majora's Mask is one of those for me, and another one I've mentioned more often is Shadow Hearts, which I just couldn't stay interested in. Maybe one day...

Trust me, though, the guilt is more widespread- and understood- than you might think. :)





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Due to previously unforeseen circumstances, there aren't going to be any questions for me to sock at you tonight. My internet died for some accursed reason, so I'm frantically trying to get this typed up on Tom's computer before he hits the hay for the night.

I PROMISE it will be up again soon, along with updated scores and all. I might even throw in an extra question for good measure!!

Anyway, for tomorrow, the last one o' the week for me: What games are YOU looking forward to most this winter? For the holiday season? Can you wait that long? And why?

I <3 you all, and shall see you soon again. Ta ta!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt is a kind-hearted soul with only the occasional crazy outburst.

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Matt's Next Unhealthy Addiction

Another Unhealthy Addiction

Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Makai Kingdom
2. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
3. Warioware: Twisted!

Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:

1. Dragon Quest VIII
2. Final Fantasy III

3. Mario & Luigi: PiT

Cookie o' the Week:

Mattie's Mid-Semester Cookies

You can do lots of fun things with these; if midterms are making you suicidal, you can eat them, or you could use them as projectiles to whip at your teachers/professors-of-choice!

-1 1/2 cups butter

-1 1/2 cups flour

-3 eggs

-2 tbsp gunpowder

-1/2 tbsp cement mix

-3 oz. cactus spines

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together the butter, flour, gunpowder, cement mix, and eggs until very well combined. Roll into balls, and place outside, preferably when sunny, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until moist but firm. One at a time, press cactus spines into balls to create an urchin-like result. Bake in a 350 degree oven until rock-hard, and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Use one of the cactus spines as a fuse to create a needle-bomb, or simply whip at detestable people for fun!

SOCK standings:

1. Jbumi
235 pts

2. DDX
150 pts

3. Ourobolus
120 pts

4. Binser
95 pts

5. Arros Raikou
94 pts

6. Angel0886
62 pts

7. Yugiohfan1986
61 pts

8. darkcecil13
57 pts

9. Gryphon
52 pts

10. Flamethrower
50 pts

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