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ASK MATT
A Squeeze of Something October 27, 2005

Matt Demers - 03:57 EST

WHAT'S BETTER than a random power outage followed by a complete loss of internet connectivity? Certainly, a million dollars is, but I was thinking more along the lines of sarcasm, and the first answer I thought of was "Losing an hour of question-answering work!" I was, of course, a bit of an idiot for not saving with some frequency, but I've always had that little problem, ever since my creative-writing days in elementary school.

So, I went sockless yesterday in a wicked effort to throw something together for you guys on not-my-computer (not an easy task), and for that I am sorry. I shall do my best to make it up to you all, or rather I will as long as such random irritating issues do not repeat themselves tonight. Many thanks, of course, to my hero Andrew, who managed to put up my segment anyway, despite the difficulties.

I'm in a bit of an up-mood tonight, mostly because I made some cool progress on my latest assignment, but partly because I just had "Chocolate Brownie Blast" ice cream with peanut butter mixed in, and that is something that provides not only an endless source of energy, but enough artificial happiness to trump even the actor that plays Big Bird.

So, let's get to it! If this were a video-format segment, I'd totally do a spectacular dance right now...a get-the-ball-rolling dance, that is.




L E T T E R S
NEVAHH!


FF XII is supposed to have battles with no transitions between the field and battle screens. This concept was also used in Chrono Trigger. This bodes well for FF XII, does it not? There is something to be said for knowing what works and then copying it. Examples include Megaman, Sonic, and Dynasty Warriors, all fairly successful franchises.

Also, is there a release date for FF XII?

Matt

No transitions, true, but there WAS a transition between "modes", if you will, in Chrono Trigger, and that doesn't look to be the case in Final Fantasy XII-- at least, not from the limited amount of stuff we've seen.

I wouldn't be so scared of the battle system in Final Fantasy XII at all if there were a shift to some non-walkabout battle mode when you came within range of an enemy, instead of what looks to be an "offline version of a common online system", complete with computer-controlled allies and real-time grossness. Final Fantasy games have never been in real-time before, and while I KNOW they try and change the mechanics of every game, I have a sinking feeling that I may be unhappy with the final product. This sinking feeling could be unfounded, yes, but for now, this uncertainty issue is causing this game to not enter my top-three-most-wanted; at least not for the time being.

It doesn't really matter anyway, because to answer your second question, there still is no set release date. It looms even now, like that ice-cream-cart mirage in the distance that we'll just never get to no matter how far through the desert we walk...

Holiday games I will be buying: Gamecube Zelda II, Fable: Lost Chapters [PC Version]. Please comment.

Thanks,
Flamethrower

Matt

I shall. Hopefully the few little tweaks that appear to have been made to the game really do make an improvement, since it would appear that the original needed some sort of a boost.

Also, isn't the pretty Zelda game coming out not-in-time for Christmas now? I'm pretty sure it's a 2006 release now. Yup, it is. You lose, unless by "holiday" you mean "summer holiday", that is; or next Christmas, for that matter.



I'd like a pet floating skull...


Matt,

You mentioned that you want somebody to give you an idea of what PC RPG you should look into. The answer to that can only be Planescape: Torment, which is the best RPG ever. Period. You start the game waking up in a mortuary... you were dead only moments ago, but you have returned to life... what's more, you soon discover that this isn't the first time such an event has happened. You are immortal, doomed to die and forget your past life over and over again, unless you can find some way to stop the cycle (the plot is much deeper than that, of course, but that gives you a general idea).

Matt

"You are immortal, doomed to die..."

Just solving this strange-looking paradox is intriguing enough, and that's only a single sentence of the game description?? Hmm. Let's continue on...

The characters you can recruit to assist you are very diferent from the typical party members... whether it be Morte, your faithful floating skull, or Fall-From-Grace, the succubus determined to walk the path of righteousness. The writing in the game is phenomenal. No other game comes close. It's better than most books. The graphics are beautiful, and the locales in the game have a very otherwordly quality to them, almost chaotic, which suits the game to a "t." The voice acting is superb, the music is appropriate, and the controls are intuitive.

Planescape: Torment is a game that every RPGamer owes it to him/herself to play through at least once. There are none better. More information on the game can be found at http://www.sorcerers.net/Games/Torment/index.php.

Matt

Interesting. In fact, interesting enough for you to single-handedly cause me to create a NEW SECTION in the right-hand sidebar of destiny, entitled "A PC game for Christmas?" Maybe, by next year, the question mark will have been replaced by an enthusiastic exclamation point, like this one: !

This one will go there for now, but there's something of a Summonerish look to this game's screenshots. While I'm not one to judge a book by its cover, it still makes the hairs on my back prickle up in suspiciousness (NO, I don't have a hairy back).

If deserving, though, it's time to taste some PC games again to see if they're still my "liver" of RPGs. Despite liver being high in Vitamin A, it's dreadfully high in cholesterol, and tastes worse than almost anything else. Trust me: Despite my contest-happy nature, there will NOT be a competition anytime soon to see if anybody can convince me to try a new liver recipe, because it just ain't happenin'.



A mishmash of business


Heya Mr. Weekday Q&A! (I feel bad using your first name since I have not been properly introduced to you).

Matt

Well, in that case, greetings, MagRowan. Your name, incidentally, sounds like a monster from Final Fantasy VI: One of the few monsters of the series with two different forms. What crazy nonsense am I talking about? You find 'em in the Magitek Research Facility...

Anyway, I felt like responding to your post about PSX RPG's (yikes that's a lot of letters!).

MWQA: Why do you think that so many Playstation 1 RPGs were so loved by some and hated by others? You know, I think most RPG's fall into this dilema. But since you asked about PS1's, I shall restrict myself to them - though SNES RPG's are more my forte.

I usually find that people take sides on RPG's because they look for a certain element to play for. For example, people like traditional (and long) storylines so they flock to the likes of Final Fantasy, or they like battling with less story, so they go for the Breath of Fires, and so on.

Matt

I think you're right, Mag, that people feel passionate about their "home-base" elements of RPGs, and not everyone has a single one. It's when people don't understand another person's passion that miffs or tiffs occur. I've defended Dragon Warrior through thick and thin, because it's always been my home-territory of gaming, so to speak. The gameplay and challenge are what I love about games, and I always find a hearty helping of that in a Dragon Warrior/Quest game. Many, though, of other home-territories, don't understand how I can appreciate levelling-up or a nonstellar storyline. Others, who play Grand Theft Auto: RandomPlaceName, don't understand any RPGamers at all. Then there are those who just refuse to play games at all, though most of those are the famous JTs and the overcrazed yuppies.

MWQA: What are your favourites?

Here I'll have to go with FFIX and Legend of Dragoon (gasp!) for my top two contenders. I know you're not a big fan of LoD, but what can I say, I liked Rose and Meru. Also, though they are really SNES originals, FF Anthology for FF VI and FF Chronicals for both FF IV and Chrono Trigger.

Matt

Bleah, well, Final Fantasy Chronicles and Anthology don't count, so just stop, you.

I still have a lot left to play out of the Playstation 1 era, for sure, and I haven't talked about my favourites among that bunch too often because my All-Time-RPG-Top-Ten-List doesn't really contain m/any of those titles.

Without a doubt, Final Fantasy VII, VIII, Tactics, and IX are all up there, and in that order, with Star Ocean: The Second Story tailing somewhat closely behind. I guess beyond that, there's Chrono Cross, maybe, and Breath of Fire IV? By that time, though, we're talking like... my 26th, 28th, 30th-favourite RPGs of all time; not exactly top honours. Now that is a list to compile one of these rainy Saturday afternoons...

MWQA: Also, how high can any series go without getting out of the habit of numbering them? Will we ever see a Final Fantasy XX? If the "numbers" are taken away, does that mean anything for the series? I bet S-E will try to squeeze out as many of the FF series as they think they can get away with. Maybe one day they'll resort to Greek letters intead of Roman Numerals. Of course, naming a game Final Fantasy Alpha would make it sound like a fighter instead of an RPG.

Matt

Oh, you just reminded me of one of my very favourite RPGs... Earthbound, because of its spell system. Your mentioning of Greek and its alphabet made me want to hear the sound effect for PSI Shield Sigma, or whatever it is. SO cool.

Again, I don't think that it's a matter of Square Enix abandoning the series- just its current method-of-titling, since it those covers ARE bound to get more and more cluttered as the sequels mount up over time. I, for one, would be irked, if they decided to start subtitling, though I don't really know why.

So, my question for you (keeping in theme with PS1 games) - what's your take on Squaresoft's Vagrant Story and Threads of Fate? Worth the play or high quality coaster material?

Curiously awaiting,
MagRowan

Matt

UGH... such a nice and fun little string of questions, only to get to something hard.

Vagrant Story is something I never played, due to a couple of reasons:

a) it was during my cheap, pre-university period, where I couldn't really afford any games beyond the occasional "major release". You'll note that I lack a lot of knowledge in games released in this era of time...

b) Despite the fact that it's supposed to have a decent storyline and a good translation, it's an action RPG, and action RPGs don't turn my crank quite like many other RPGs tend to, with the possible exception of Secret of Mana.

Threads of Fate is something that must have completely passed me by, back in the day, so I read a bit about it. The concept sounds kind of interesting, I have to admit, but by all accounts, it looks like it's dreadfully short and easy, without much to say for plot or substance. Further, it looks like yet another action RPG, which might be why I didn't pay attention to it when it landed in North America six years ago. A decided "meh".



Ooo, make your own games! Let me in


i also find myself unable to finish some rpgs, usually due to some annoying puzzle element or perhaps that last boss. That's even *with* using a walkthrough. Sad thing is on those games, it's such a relief when I view my stuckedness as an excuse to prematurely end the game. Where are the enjoyable rpgs these days?



Matt

They are being held captive in the southwestern Tower of Zapast! You must travel there with the Memo of Rycard to find them locked in the top along with Elvis, and um, what's-her-face... damn. Lac... Ma... oh, right, Amelia Earhart. Didn't she disappear in a plane or something, long ago?

Anyway, you have to play any new RPG featuring Mario, because I've loved every single one of them. Sure, they might look stupid at first glance, but they bring much happiness to my life (maybe not as much as chocolatey ice cream treats, though).

If you were to design rpgs, what kind of rules would you stick to? For example some of mine might be:

1) Game can be finished in 30-40 hours. Personally I find myself fidgeting around the 40 hour point in most games. By then hundreds of battles have been played, so the gameplay just doesn't seem quite as exciting anymore. And like long movies, the story can start to drag some. Having shorter games might encourage replayability too.

Matt

It might, but it might not. I LOVE long games, but all of the good ones always end too soon! I believe that if you have a STRONG enough game in most departments, the length could go on for quite awhile. If you're fidgeting and unexcited by the 40-hour-mark, then the game simply hasn't done its job, in my opinion.

Games like Final Fantasy VI and VII were good for 60+ hours easily during my first plays-through, and both are always SCREAMING "replay me!!" with some fervour.

2) Being able to see monsters before fighting, with the possibility of avoiding them (at least in the dungeons, not necessarily overworld). Makes exploring less tedious for me and gets me in the battle frame each and every time because I know when one is coming for the most part. And hey I still have fond memories of Chrono Trigger, of being pelted by rocks or having monsters come rolling towards me.

Old-Fogey Matt

Blahdee-blah... sure, there are some games where this is good, but more games do this badly than do it goodly. Again, I think that with a strong enough/fun enough battle system, and an adequately low encounter rate, random battles "feel" better... back in the day, we didn't try to get out of battles! We went into every single one of 'em an' we liked it, too, an' we didn't run away all the time neither! Yes, I'm beginning to sound like Cranky Kong.

3) Some degree of choice. For example: be it selecting character classes, party members, or skill sets, I just don't care for games where you have to play the exact same three characters throughout and they develop the same way in everyone's game.

Matt

Ahhhh... there we go, there we go!! There might be some hope for you yet!

Some customization is good, but complete customization is not. I think this is where Final Fantasy VII's and VIII's battle systems fall short of VI's... and where Dragon Quest VI and VII's battle systems fall short of that of previous entries.

I agree with you though, my friend, and I would help you make such a game, if ever a game were to be made. Based on what you've told me, you should probably give Xenosaga or Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter a try if you haven't already. Both of them are more-difficult-than-average, but they sound like things you might enjoy.

One other question: what do you think of strategy rpgs like Final Fantasy Tactics? I used to play them when there weren't as many rpgs out but the training system was so boring yet necessary. Probably I just suck at playing them.

-turtlegirl

Matt

What do I think? You get bored pretty easily, though it takes a lot more patience to wade through a strategy-RPG. If you can really get into the micro-managing and character-training, tRPGs can suck you away; Final Fantasy Tactics is one such game, but Nippon "Itchy" Ichi can steal hours away when it seems only minutes pass. I love 'em, if they're done right, anyway.

Thanks for the mail, turtlegirl!



It's getting really late


Hi Matt,

Just a quick question: what's up with the Playstation and Playstation 2 Greatest Hits lists? I mean, when are they updated, what causes games to get added, where can I find updated copies of the lists, etc.? Sometimes I think about forking down the cash for a new game (Disgaea is the current offender, along with Soul Calibur II -- okay, so "new" is relative), but then become morbidly convinced that as soon as I do it will be re-released with the accompanying 60% price drop. What are your thoughts on all this? Do the games I mentioned have a hope of being added?

Humbly yours, The_Great_One

Matt

Yeah, I really think so! I don't think that Disgaea has much of a chance at all, though, unfortunately. While it did sell better than anyone initially expected it to, it's nowhere near the top of the list and has been off of store shelves (at least around here!) for quite a long time. Soul Calibur II, however, might be a more likely possibility. In the case that it DID make the Greatest Hits list, it would probably happen sooner than later. Of course, I'm sure that a number of titles will go onto the GH list as soon as the PS3 is released, as a last-ditch attempt to squeeze every bit of juice out of the fruit that is PS2's lucrativeness.



WAHHH... another weak point, found!


Hey Mathew (can i call you "Mathew"),

Matt

AHH! AHH! AHH! Two Ts, please. "Matthew" is fine though, if you like.

I just read your bio on rpgamer and noticed that one of your top favorite games is Earthbound. Amen to that. Back in the day, that game gave me the giggles everytime I turned it on. I have played many rpgs since then some great some great, some bad, some a complete waste of 50 dollars .I'll never get over the mistake of buying Ephemeral Phantasia, only rpg purchase that actually made me sad. But I digress. I would really like to know what you thought of the cancellation of Earthbound 64. Years and years ago, I saw a two page article in Nintendo Power with an awsome preview of E64. Every issue afterwards I would head to the upcoming releases section and see of E64's status of "future" had been changed to a date to look foward to. Then came the awful day when E64 was no longer on the list. I thought to myself, "this must be some silly mistake." When further issues failed to list E64, I began to get seriously worried. I finally looked on the internet for further information about the game . . . . "canceled" it said! The next thing that happened was that I let out an enormous death wail in the school library. I was too upset to notice any of the awful stares of the librarian and fellow students. Anyway, tell me what you thought of that awful anouncement.

I'm going to end here, I can't seem to write any more . . . too . . . (*sniff*) . . . sad . . .

Woeful in Fourside,
Brandon

Matt

Okay, I wanted to interrupt you halfway through and say something about Nintendo Power and its evil ways, but then I decided against it, for you had much to say. NOW is my chance.

Nintendo Power likes listing every single minor game/idea-of-a-game on its "Upcoming" list, or "Pak Watch", or whatever it's called these days, and then fails to mention anything when they mysteriously drop off. My favourite, favourite, favourite example of this was for the months and months during the development of "Conker 64" by Rare, where they provided colourful screenshots and updates and were singing praises in every issue... UNTIL, finally, the true nature of the game was finally revealed. The game simply dropped out of Nintendo Power altogether, never to be seen or heard from again, presumably in an event to shield kids from the evils of that game. Sooo funny.

The lack of Earthbound 64, though, was one of the greatest letdowns to me, as a hybrid Nintendo-lover and RPG-fan. I felt so betrayed and frustrated, because I had been looking forward to that game for the longest time, and I think that a lot of people out there, including yourself, thought the same. I remember even going onto the Internet (a big thing, back then, for me) to find a petition to sign... surely, that would do the trick. Oh, my fifteen-or-however-many-year-old innocent self was naive as a minnow foraging among the anemones.

I really don't understand why Nintendo hasn't done more with the series. It has HUGE potential, and the Nintendo consoles could always use a good RPG or seven in the first place. Very disappointing, indeed.



Ugh, really... it WAS that insane


Pathetic DQ groupie, So yeah, I don't write in unless a) I have time and b) I have something to say. All these people that must write in strictly to get points...don't really understand that.

Matt

Gah! Kneel, you audacious fiend. One lashing for calling me pathetic, and another for insulting my writers! Actually, the majority of letters I get contain more than just SOCK answers, and especially today, seeing as I didn't have any questions yesterday. So, "ahaha" I say!

Anyways, yeah, 7th Saga was ridiculous. My buddy (this was what, 10 or 12 years ago?) well he had one of those programmable SNES controllers that had two or three extra buttons that you could program button combos into (very nice for street fighter moves). So since enemies just attack you on their own in 7th Saga, we found a button combination (not hard, it was like a, a, a, b or something) That allowed you to attack over and over then just wait to get attacked again. This allowed us to put a c-clamp down on the button to keep doing it over and over again and then just leave the game on overnight. The result, of course, was waking up to find our character 5-10 levels higher (depending on how difficult the enemies were).

Matt

That's pretty hardcore, but GRR... the cheating makes me seethe! On the other hand, this game might be one of those very rare moments where I could just buckle under the pressure and accept your underhanded ways.

I think the Enix was just looking to make people suffer when they developed that one... a game's balance should never be so bad that you have to rig something so tricksy in order to have a chance at success.

So throughout 7th Saga, you know how you have to fight the other people you could be? Well, I was the fighter and the random person they picked me to fight (maybe it's not random) was the sorceress and i couldn't beat her so i leveled up a bunch overnight with said controller and then fought her again the next day. Well, apparently their levels scale with your own so I still couldn't beat her. It wasn't a matter of me doing the right or wrong things, she just did enough damage to take me out in like two hits or something...quite unfair.

So where 7th Saga was a really cool game (choose your character/class) and for the time sweet graphics and such...yeah, majorly unforgiving.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend,
Gryphon

Matt

Ahahahaha... serves you right, though that is quite unfortunate, because those fights, as far as I can remember, were absolutely stupid. If ONLY you were as powerful as the other heroes you could have chosen, hmm? And like IF you chose them you'd actually be as powerful as they are when you fight against them.

I guess this is right up there with one of my least-favourite RPG clichés of all time: The stupid "fight me, future ally!" battles, where you combat some character right before they join your party. IN that battle, however, they almost without fail have twenty times the HP and four times the attack power that they'll possess five minutes of game-time later, and they'll have access to at least three techniques that will soon be mysteriously absent from their skill list.

I guess that doesn't have a whole lot to do with your letter, but the response is wholeheartedly "I agree wholeheartedly", because who wouldn't? Only somebody with a serious sadistic streak; that much is clear.



Jack of all trades, that's me!


Hey, First time writer here!

I just started reading your section about a few weeks ago and I gotta say, I'm already a fan. It's really interesting to hear what other rpg fans have to say on a plethora of random topics. Also, because of your Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest rants, I started playing Dragon Warrior 1&2 for the GBC again. In fact, just last night I slayed the evil Dracolord and returned peace to the land for the time being. Now on to DW 2!

Matt

Aww, the underdoggy of the series!! Dragon Warrior 2 pulls special strings in my heart, and I <3 it so, and part of that is due to the wond'rous word "Zarlox". Zarlox, Zarlox, Zarlox!

In response to your first question about the playstation 1 games, and why some people liked them and others disliked them, it is my opinion that it is because of one phenomenal game: Final Fantasy VII. I've read so many times rpgamers comparing every new game released after FF7 by this game alone (i.e. "although a good game, it doesn't compare to the majesty that is FF7", or "Square has been slipping ever since the release of FF7," etc). When I played through FF8, I was impressed. Although very different from FF7, I thought it was a great game. And it makes me sad when all too many times I read that people feel that Square saw the large sales following FF7 as an oppertunity to focus more on cinematics than story. Don't get me wrong, its true that FF7 was a major milestone for rpgs, but people need to stop focusing so much on one game and appreciate the new ideas that are coming forth in new rpgs. Although I will say that card battle games, such as YuGiOh and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, are something that I will never understand. I find it boring to have to use abilitied by use of cards, its too . . . wierd.

Matt

Uh, yah. Final Fantasy VII was the very FIRST game that launched such a huge population into RPGland all at once, and so the term "fanboy" was coined. I think you're right that people (including myself!) should keep a more open mind towards a variety of different games. However, there IS no denying the fact that Final Fantasy is the backbone of North America's collective RPG experience and has set the "standard" in being that backbone, in no small part because it HAS been consistently great.

Also, to break my own advice within three sentences or so, I've never played a card-based RPG, because I've always felt that they seem way too silly and artificial. Why is standing and waiting patiently for your turn in battle to come around any less artificial? Heh heh... umm... *flees*

Regarding the future of the Final Fantasy series, I don't think we will see the end of it for a while. I've always seen Final Fantasy as the James Bond of video games. As long as movies exist, MGM (is it MGM?) will probably always come out with another 007 flick. Similarly, as long as videogames exist, we can probably always expect another Final Fantasy. One thing that seems clear, however, is that the series as we all know it probably ended with FFX. Now that Sakaguchi and Uematsu have moved on (I read that Nobuo Uematsu's last Final Fantasy is going to be FFXII), the series is going to be very different I suspect. And as long as Final Fantasy games are released, I will keep on playing them. I honestly have yet to be dissapointed by any FF game (Except FFXI, where I quit playing because leveling up was annoying as hell on a hot day in the desert).

Matt

Hmmm... I could be wrong, but I don't even think Uematsu is DOING Final Fantasy XII, which is hugely disappointing, but he's got to move on sometime (especially if the series gets up as high as XXVIII).

I like your Bondly analogy, because it's pretty accurate. I dislike Final Fantasy XI by principle.

Now for a question. What is your favorite job class in a FF game? Mine would be Dragoon, hands down. I've always held Kain and Freya as my favorite FF characters because of their awsome jumping skills. And I hope that Freya from FFIX won't be the last Dragoon in a FF game.

Sincerely (or something),
KnightTrain

Matt

Dragoons ARE fun, aren't they? I wasn't 100% fond of Freya's Dragon Magic, but whatever. Jumping is something that Final Fantasy has done for a long time, and the DragoonBoots are a favourite relic of mine from FFVI.

However, I'm not sure if that's my favourite class; that's a lot to say. Summoners are overdone, Knights are too boring, Bards are too spoony, and Geomancers are too idiotic. I really like Scholars from Final Fantasy III, and I hope that in this remake dealie, they polish them up a bit, because they're really damn cool. My all-time favourite, however, is the eternal Red Mage, whose versatility transcends spell names.



An opinion (like everything else you'll find here)


Hi Matt,
To the guy who was wondering what to play through on the PS1, here is the (IMO) top five must play list, with short reasons. (No particular order).

1. Suikoden II: Better graphics, story than Suikoden I, great mechanics.

2. Final Fantasy Tactics: Best implemented job system in a game with awesome customization, and rockin tactical battles, never on the "button mashingly easy" side.

3. Valkyrie Profile: Probably one of the most original RPGs to grace the PS1, the characters and battle system rocked my world, and the story was hella fresh. The only game I condone FAQ use for to obtain alternate ending, as it was painfully hidden.

4. Breath of Fire III: Could be nostalgia on this one, but I loved it, as I loved BOFI/II. Neat little apprentice system, challenging battles and in-depth story. BOF IV was also great, but I liked III better.

5. Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar: Eternal Blue. Jesus. My all time favourite games. GREAT story, characters, anime cut scenes, and challenging at all times. Constantly worrying about having enough MP and healing, getting out alive, and no "easy bucket" random battles. But man oh man, its sooooo worth it. Ghaleon was the first cool/loveable villain IMO, way before Sephiroth or Kefka (though both badass too).

Wildcard: Final Fantasy 8: Loved the card game, the junction system, guardian force system, and the "mature" story line. Also, a decent amount of hidden stuff to find, and I liked the characters/story a lot, though the ending is kinda just thrown together. But the ending is only like 1% of the story! It's the journey man! THE JOURNEY!!! My favourite PS1 Final Fantasy, though I can speak fondly of VII (nostalgia to the max extreme), and loathe IX.



Matt

Thanks for the input. Here's mine:

Suikoden II: Seemed boring at the time. Lots of gamers love it, though, so you never know.

Valkyrie Profile: One of the Tri-Ace games I haven't tried before, though it seems lots of people like it, too.

Final Fantasy Tactics: Hmmm... in fact, it's quite difficult indeed, until cheapo characters join the party whom I have mentioned in past columns, and yes... such a wonderful-yet-simple job system.

Breath of Fire III: 'Twas okay. My brother liked it more than me, and he didn't really like it all that much.

Lunar: You make me feel like I should start keeping my eyes open for this little gem, man!! Where can I get it? Where where where??? Oh wait, this is supposed to be for other-person's benefit, isn't it...? At any rate, this can ONLY mean that the new DS Lunar game must be equally as good, eh???

Final Fantasy VIII: Mature storyline, hmm? There are some glorious things about the game, including the wickedly evil villain-plans/some other storyline elements, the disgustingly good FMVs, and the soundtrack, which is, unsurprisingly, breathtaking. The junctioning system was fun, too, though it pushed character-customability up a little bit TOO far, methinks. The card game, also, was super.

That's all. Sorry for the length.

Matt

But...but... you're not done yet...!

Also, my question. I played DW7, and I have to admit that I found it quite tedious to play at times, as I was rewarded with very little story, endless battles, and overall a very flat gaming experience. Now that Enix and Square (arguably the kings of game polishing) are one entity, do you feel that DQ8 will retain the challenge of previous titles but finally add a little flair to the game as a whole? The screens look rad-tastic (but I'm no graphics whore, I promise), so as long as the story and char development are on par, are we in for as much as a treat as you claim? I have to ask because I know you likely loved DW7 more than your average non-DW acquainted gamer(a) and hence are slightly (majorly?) biased Thanks Matt! Keep up the great work. You made me a regular reader again!

N.Hizzale.

Matt

Ohh... you meant "that's all" as in "that's all for my recommendation", meaning you weren't actually done yet after all. Indeed. My bad.

I'm not majorly biased, though, I don't think. I have a little bit of nostalgia-bias, sure, but I can still recognize when a game is less than perfect, even if it is a game in my all-time-bestest-most-favourite-series-ever. For proof, recognize that I think that Dragon Warrior Monsters was an awful shouldn't-have-been, and also, see my little rant yesterday on Dragon Warrior VII, since I do agree with you in most ways.

I was worried about Dragon Quest VIII at first, because I had heard some rumours about its difficulty level months back, from here and there. Upon playing the demo, though, I can safely say that the cave was a fair amount harder than the first locations of just about every other Dragon Quest game there has been. I really hope that the challenge of the series remains intact, because that's one of the things I <3 about it, and if it happens to be the case that it ISN'T present, believe you me: you'll all hear about it (about three and a half weeks from now, probably! WAHAAAAHHHAAA I can't wait!)





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I guess that's plenty long enough... I don't want to bore any of you to tears, to be sure, and I would like to save some for Andrew when he välses back onto the scene tomorrow. Whatcha all doing this weekend? I'll be submitting my only assignment that's on-the-go currently on Friday night, and then wheeee...! The weekend is in the palm of my hand! Isn't impending freedom great? It makes Thursdays and Fridays fly by like a dragonfly in the summertime. Actually, the feeling of approaching freedom is often better than freedom itself: Ironically, while I crave it, I tend to feel worse while in the midst of it, though I suppose I could say the same thing about peanut-buttery, chocolatey ice cream. Either way, I'll take it (either or both of them). Sockwise, I again apologize for the lack-o-fun yesterday, but the annoying gods prevented me from having nearly enough capacity to do all of the scoreboard updating and such yesterday.

Anyway, what were the answers to the questions from last time? Well, first of all, we had that dreadfully boring one about me and playing and replaying and whatnot: The only one of the list I'm not working through as we speak is e) Dragon Warrior VII, even though I feel a bit like I should be in order to commemorate the coming of certain sequels in the near future.

Many people actually managed to get guest SOCK-host Tom's question, too, and for that, I give you a nod.

Apparently, Hitler was observing b) The northern lights when he spoke that bloody, violent quote, though I would have never guessed that.

Today, I shall offer questions three, in order to try and make up for yesterday's lack (BWAHAHAHA, I'm still getting savings of one in the end! Too bad for you):

Question #27: (15 points) What is the course code of the math class I mark for?

a) MATH*1000
b) MATH*1050
c) MATH*1200
d) CALC*1080
e) CALC*1210

Question #28: (15 points) Xibu jo sif xpsme bn J epjoh?:

b) Sfqmbdjoh fbdi mfuufs xjui uif ofyu mfuufs pg uif bmqibcfu
c) Esbhpo Xbssjps Fjhiu spdlt!
d) Ujevt jo Gjobm Gboubtz Ufo jt ebno ipu...
e) Nbuu offet tjhojgjdboumz npsf tmffq bu ojhiu
f) What the hell is going on here?

Question #29: (15 points) Consider the following mathematical proof:

Let a = 1, and b = 1

Then a = b

So multiplying both sides by a, we get a2 = ab
and a2 - b2 = ab - b2 when we subtract b2 from both sides.

Thus, we can factor it as (a + b)(a - b) = b(a - b)

and divide by (a - b) on both sides to get (a + b) = b

But a = 1 and b = 1. Thus, 2 = 1.

What is wrong with this picture?

a) The math doesn't lie; this is a proof of the transcendental nature of real numbers.
b) You can't just subtract the b2 from both sides!
c) You can't just divide the (a-b) into both sides!
d) The difference-of-squares factoring is performed incorrectly!
e) Man... I thought you told us "no math"?

Bwahaha. Have fun! Oh, and before I forget: Here you are, Arros Raikou! This tilde is for you, for being the fourth person to cross the 100 barrier!

~


Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):

100 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
500 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #1 (5 remaining!)
700 points: The Final Fantasy 1 "Official" Crazed-Chipmunk-Hold-your-Ears Soundtrack (5 remaining!)
1000 points: The Mattie's Mom Cookie Recipe Compilation (5 remaining!)
100000000 points: All-expenses-paid trip to E3 (can this be yours??)

It's been fun, everyone, but this is where I must turn in my hat and say "happy weekend". Andrew is hungry for your mail, so play fair and send him lots too. There's a huge number of things to talk about, after all, with many exciting games (and consoles!) on the release list for the next few months. Incidentally, what do you guys think about the XBox 360? I despise the idea of XBox, period, but do you think it holds promise for RPGamers out there?

Ah, this is where I get off. I'll see you next week!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt forgot to change this stupid one-liner in yesterday's column.

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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Makai Kingdom

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3. Warioware: Twisted!

Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:

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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
245 pts

2. DDX
165 pts

3. Ourobolus
135 pts

4. Arros Raikou
104 pts

5. Binser
95 pts

6. Flamethrower
65 pts

7. Angel0886
62 pts

8. Yugiohfan1986
61 pts

9. darkcecil13
57 pts

10. Gryphon
52 pts

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