Truc ou Traite
October 31, 2005
Matt Demers - 03:20 EST
A COLD BREEZE licks at your hair as
you walk quickly down the sidewalk. The familiar smell of freshly fallen leaves is in the air.
Halloween must be near! Yes, that's right; it's the last day of October, and thus I'm obligated to do
something for it, so hey, I'll stick this icon here and there throughout the column:
Nice, hmm? I was thinking about putting a tiny one in place of a period at the end of every sentence, but
then it would take me about seven hours to write this thing, and that is not good a'tall. Otherwise, I don't
know any way to really make this thing really scary, necessarily, and I certainly won't subject you to nude pictures
of your favourite ugly celebrities. That might be frightening, but not in the Halloweeny sort of way.
Regardless, Happy October 31! Don't eat too much candy, check for razor blades before you eat anything, and
remember to ruin all of your best costumes by wrapping yourself in reflective tape.
Next year... how SPOOKY
Wednesdays don't seem to be good for either of us. I had round two with the dufus who's supposed to be the maintenance
person for my building. At least I see I didn't miss SOCK this time. You did a fine job working under duress.
Well gee thanks, Jbumi. I have to say, I cannot be held responsible for the Internet leprechauns that like pulling
their eternal pranks, but I do what I can to compensate for their constant trickery. That was a stressful night
though... Matt does NOT do very well when he's completely cut off from the online world. He often gets very angry
and starts spouting off stuff about "paying so much every single damn month, and for what?" He sometimes vows
to e-mail Rogers with a nasty complaint as soon as service is restored as a result; still other times he just starts
referring to himself in the third person (what a loony...)
I, too, am not an Xbox fan. Although it seems microsoft learned that they're not going to be worldwide competitors
in the gaming world without RPGs (just look at the difference between the rankings in Japandemonium & Currents - no
Xbox games to be found in J's listings), I'm not going to be willing to shell out that kind of money for a game system
only to play half a dozen games. (I think I'm being generous guessing they'll put out that many RPGs.) Then, of
those half dozen, how many will actually be good? From what I've read online, only KOTR is worth playing on the current
Xbox. One game - not a good recommendation for a system. Maybe a year or so from now, the 360 will be making me eat my
words - it's wait & see.
Friday, at last, tomorrow. Another weekend of DDS2. Tough game (just the way I love 'em)! Hope you have a super
I was not happy at all when Microsoft announced their foray into video gaming all those years ago, but as much
as I hate to say it, they have every right to. Also, despite the fact that the XBox is definitely not the console
of choice for just about every RPGamer doesn't mean Microsoft has been unsuccessful; they have, after all, stolen
the show with other certain games, almost all of which are nothing I'd ever play (or want to play, for that matter).
Personally, I'm hoping that you don't have to eat any words either. Words aren't tasty, to be sure, but also, if
there are lots of good game for the XBox 360, I don't want to have to feel obligated to pick up yet ANOTHER console...
it's a given that I'm getting a Revolution when it comes out, and I don't have much choice but to get a PS3. Ugh, what
an expensive year 2006 is setting up to be...
Awhile back, a different QnA host asked if the readers
had any good game ideas. Do you have any good game
As for myself, I'm fairly certain most everything
worth playing has already been done before. That
sounds cinical but I believe it is in fact true.
Every once in awhile you get a Katamari Damacy, but
most games build upon a foundation from previous
Do I ever! I have a bit of RPG-designer flowing through my veins (and arteries) so you'll often find me doodling
spell system ideas in the middle of my classes... especially the loooong ones. One of the ideas I've liked the most
was a game revolving around a single huge city, ruled by an insane queen who travels nowhere without
her trusted owl, Herbert. Essentially, my idea was to have the main character kid run around and carry on his daily
life in any possible way, acquiring abilities in a class system that arises naturally out of which things around the
town you choose to do (everything from being a soldier, to becoming an expert chef, to being a gym-rat or a gravedigger).
The project never got off the ground, but I wanted the player to have to behave carefully so as to not get in trouble
from InsaneQueen, yet carry out a sort of normal, day-to-day storyline in the beginning, including job-searching, friend
visiting, or whatever else. Eventually, though, someone the main character cares about is arrested, or something, and it
becomes evident that something is quite amiss in the city indeed-- in the end, Herbert the Owl was supposed to be the
one behind her nefarious ways. I never got around to putting anything except for making a few character sprites for
different classes, thanks to a lack of time.
I don't think that there's any lack of new things that could be done, though! It'll take some creativity and some effort
on the part of video game companies to make a fresh new non-stupid idea work right, surely, but we're certainly not
fresh out. I think we've got some great potential, particularly, in the near future, with the Nintendo DS and the
Revolution... or at least, I'm sure hoping.
Some folks like to argue about the difference between
"New School" and "Old School" games. What are the
differences between these two? Is it possible to
define the two terms? And the obligatory question -
Do you prefer one over the other? Why?
My personal opinion on said issue - It doens't matter
whether a game is Old or New School. What really
matters: Is the game fun to play? Most of the
arguments on said issue, IMHO revolve around graphics.
The gameplay underlying the graphics is what makes
games fun. I had a blast playing the Game Boy Fire
Emblems, and am having just as much fun with the
Blahdeeblah. There isn't really a definition, but I'd say that "old-school" is just another way of saying
"traditional". An RPG with less-than-average graphics, a turn-based system, or something else reminiscent of most
games from 10 years ago can be said to be "old-school". It's a feeling more than a definable term, and there
are a lot of grey areas. You're right: If you're more concerned about classifying and labelling than having a fun
time actually playing, then you've got your priorities in a sad disarray.
One is the loneliest number...
Read about all the Final Fantasy talk, so I figured I would ask you how would you (and other readers) would rank
the games in the Final Fantasy series on a scale of 0.0 - 10.0. Here is my ranking...
1. Final Fantasy VII 10.0/10.0 Superb
2. Final Fantasy VI 9.9/10.0 Excellent
3. Final Fantasy X 9.9/10.0 Excellent
4. Final Fantasy VIII 9.5/10.0 Excellent
5. Final Fantasy IV 8.0/10.0 Great
6. Final Fantasy V 7.5/10.0 Good
7. Final Fantasy II 6.5/10.0 Fair
8. Final Fantasy I 6.0/10.0 Fair
9. Final Fantasy IX 1.0/10.0 Bad
...and there you have it. As you can tell, every game is an above average RPG (except for IX, which I absolutely
DETEST and had to force myself to finish). Of course, I have not played III, and XI doesn't count because it's an
MMORPG :) That, and I haven't played it. It should be noted, however, that FFVI was one of the last FFs I played
(and I used a walkthrough) and it STILL ranks as only one-tenth of a point less than FFVII. And no, FFVII was not
my first RPG or even first FF (Lagoon and FFII for the SNES).
Ugh, are you kidding me?
Your list isn't really so bad, but I think 1/10 is a bit of a stretch. Do you really think that game is THAT far
below average? Even if it's not my favourite Final Fantasy of the bunch, it's certainly better than a lot of other
games out there. Anyway, I guess I'm in the mood to appease you tonight, so if I had to do a quick ratings list
in the style of you off the top of my mind, it would look something like this:
- Final Fantasy: 7/10
- Final Fantasy II: 7/10
- Final Fantasy III: 8.5/10
- Final Fantasy IV: 9/10
- Final Fantasy V: 9/10
- Final Fantasy VI: 10/10
- Final Fantasy VII: 9.5/10
- Final Fantasy VIII: 9/10
- Final Fantasy IX: 8/10
- Final Fantasy X: 8/10
The problem is, I hate comparing NES games to PS2 titles; trying to put FFIII on the same level as FFX and judging them
against each other just doesn't work properly at all. They're both great for completely different reasons.
Interestingly, now, looking at what I just did, I notice a very prominent bellcurve pattern. Hopefully this doesn't
bode terribly for Final Fantasy XII...
Oh, and you're only cheating yourself if you don't play Lunar: SSSC and Lunar: EBC. I'm an AVID fan, and they
honestly do have the best overall story ever in an RPG, IMO. The two games tie into each other SO WELL! I <3 Lunar!
Finally, DS was terrible and adds nothing to the series. It's a travesty, an absolute travesty.
Yeah, and because of all of you readers, I've been really thinking about getting back into my e-Bay habit to see if this
game is up for sale anywhere. I've got my eyes open now, and if I ever do find the joy I seek from these games, I'll have
to bid you all a fond thank you.
I do know, though, that the DS game is widely regarded to be toilet-worthy. Maybe if I played that one first, it would make
the older ones seem even BETTER!! Good strategy?? Well, I think I'll save my money for now...
Well sir, you'll likely have a hard time getting it, as it's not in
production anymore, hasn't been for awhile, and was only sold as a l33t
package including hard cover manual, maps, soundtrack, etc. I reiterate:
l33t. Anyway, you can score it on EBay (or rent/quiz friends). If you
only get a chance to play one of the pair, make it Silver Star Story.
Maybe I say this because it was the first one I played, but I find it to
be superior. Although Eternal Blue has a rad "after" mode with bonus
dungeons and such. If you like challenging games, you won't be let down
/w Lunar. I mean, its not impossible, but strategy oft need be employed
for the majority of the game and being able to make it to the boss with
enough items left to competently battle him isn't always a certainty.
I've won more than one boss fight with my last dude using his last
couple MP. It's rock solid.
Well, I guess my e-Bay plan is the best I can do now after all, hmm? If only someone had told me this years ago,
I wouldn't have such a problem on my hands. I wonder why the games have gone so far downhill in recent times...? I
guess series tend to do that eventually, but it's pretty sad.
Anyway, it's a good sign when absolutely no one has written in to say anything bad about the game at all. That said,
does anyone out there think that either of these Lunar games aren't all everyone else is cracking them out to be?
My question: Do you find you game more in the winter due to colder days
or summer due to the air of relaxation it comes with? Maritime winters
are long and cold, and of late: wet. F%&$ing global warming.
All the best,
No. I game far more in the summer, because I don't have any classes or teacher's assistantships to worry about.
Agahhh... summer. This time of year is really depressing, because it's as far away in the year from comfort and warmth
as it can possibly be, and it'll only get WORSE and WORSE for the next three months. I just started dressing in layers
last week... LAYERS!! *cry*
During the winter, I do most of my gaming during weekends that directly follow academic due dates, like this past one.
Such weekends keep me happy and adequately sane.
We're talkin' Dragon Quest
Andrew and Matthew,
I’m sending this to both columnists because one, you both say you can always use some mail, and two, because I always
like hearing different points of view.
First off, I know it’s late, but congratulations to Matt for winning the contest. I was voting for you the whole time.
Even when we had to register on the forums to vote. Haven't posted even once, but I think it was worth it.
Secondly, it would be terrible to see you leave, Andrew. I know I enjoy your humor. I just... rarely have anything to say.
But if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem, so it's letter time.
Well, good! And, you should know by now that you don't REALLY need anything to talk about when you write in...
if you send an e-mail with any old anything slapped there in text, it has a reasonable chance of making the grade,
so long as it's relatively profanity-free, and doesn't otherwise offend anyone (most importantly, Cast and
myself). Certainly, questions are better than no questions, but hey, writing this column is just like having a
conversation with you guys, to me. Since I like talking to myself in the first place, this provides an excellent
opportunity to channel this misspent energy into a more productive thing.
Also, I tried to think of a counterexample to "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem" thing...
I don't think this is true all of the time, but my brain is unable to come up with anything at this time. I'll keep
1. The Nintendo Revolution. With reports indicating that we’ll be able to download any game from previous consoles,
I have to wonder about regional lockouts. Do you think it will be possible for North American gamers to download Japanese
games? Is it at all conceivable that Nintendo would commission official translations for previously unreleased games,
like Dragon Quest V, Dragon Quest VI, and Seiken Densetsu 3? Not only would that rock all, I honestly
think it would make some sales.
Nintendo really needs to redefine what's going on here, because I'm afraid that they might be making a lot of people
excited for nothing. I'm very worried that once the Revolution does get here, this infinite realm of old-school gaming
will be a disappointment for some reason, or at the very least that it will come with several strings attached.
I doubt highly that every game will be available, and I doubt even MORE highly that untranslated games will be up for
grabs by North American players. Do I know this? No, of course not. Realistically though, it seems like a big
2. And speaking of Dragon Quest, a friend of mine didn't enjoy his trail run on Journey of the Cursed King.
Should I... kill him?
But seriously, fans of the series claim they want it to do well and become a name in the North American market.
But really... do they? Think about it for a minute. Do you really a want a group of fanboys running around claiming
it to be the greatest thing ever made, and everything else sucks? Do you really want a group of people claiming to be
hardcore Dragon Quest fans when they have no respect for any previous entries, and will undoubtedly bash any subsequent
releases because it's not the same game as their first foray into the series? I call it First-Timer's Disease. It
happened with Final Fantasy VII and Ocarina of Time. Do you see it happening again?
OK, let's look at things: Right now, the Dragon Warrior/Quest series has a pretty tight core-fanbase that is,
by and large, quite devoted to all of the past games. Final Fantasy has the same thing, and had the same thing
before Final Fantasy VII was released. Is it ever a bad thing to have more fans for a game? Sure, there might
be a few downsides, but the devoted ones are still there, and they won't change their attitudes at all. The truly
hardcore will KNOW in their hearts that they are, indeed, worthy of the adjective "hardcore."
My only real hope, though, is that the Dragon Quest name becomes popular enough that the future of the series is
a happy one, with sequels safely guaranteed for North America forevermore, so that we don't miss out on any more insanely
good-looking games like the Dragon Quest V remake we were left without fairly recently.
Oh, and about your friend... that's not quite enough; you'd better drag his coffin around like Dragon Quest characters
do to their fallen comrades. The problem is, I don't know any priests capable of resurrection, so maybe you'd better
contain yourself; people ARE entitled to their opinions, however wrong they may be.
3. Finally, I received my slime treasure box in the mail today, and it had not one, but two keychains! Was everyone's
like this, or am I special?
Thanks for the time, and I do hope I formatted this properly. My apologies if I didn't.
I haven't received mine yet, but I'll let you know when I do!
Also, if all readers were as keen as you, I would be absolutely elated! I usually do the formatting myself, y'see.
Love and kisses for you, J, whether you like them or not, because letters like yours make my job at least 23% easier.
Scoping out Planescape
No idea where you got the idea of the Summonerish look to Planescape: Torment, but P:T is built off Bioware's
Infinity Engine, which also powered the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series. The feeble plot conjured up by
Summoner, which I could only be bothered playing five or so minutes of, is nothing compared to the masterful
storytelling you encounter in Planescape.
It doesn't bother with the whole epic hero-of-prophecy-here-to-save-the-world gimmick you get with practically every
other RPG, but instead focuses on your personal quest of self-discovery. The worlds you visit are grounded in the
Planescape campaign setting, with a rich diversity of characters and factions to explore. Oh, and the game's script
is about one million words long.
It's also the only RPG I can think of where statistics like Charisma, Intellect and Wisdom are actually more important
than Strength, Constitution and Dexterity. There are only four required instances of combat in the entire game --
though you're more than free to slaughter almost everyone and everything you encounter.
Well, to be honest with you, I really only did a quick search for a few screens, and the first thing that popped
into my mind when I saw the walking-around graphics was "Summoner." I only saw a couple, and I've never seen the
game in person, so my apologies if my messily-drawn-hypothesis was completely inaccurate.
On the side, Summoner was the first PS2 game that I ever played. It was definitely an infuriating game, which was
made incredibly worse by the fact that for some reason, the TV which I played it on was on its way to TV-heaven at the
time, as it was slowly getting unalterably darker and darker, pixel-wise. The consequence of this unfortunate
situation was that the text was incredibly difficult to read, and made the gameplay far slower than it was to begin
Anyway, thanks for the input.
Oh, and for the sake of adding a question (one related to Planescape, no less): what can change the
nature of a man?
An adequate quantity of beer certainly changes the nature of me, but we won't get into the details of that. Well,
actually, wait a sec-- you said A man? Come to think of it, I do fall into that criterion, so behold; your
answer is that, after all.
In the scheme of things...
So yesterday someone commented on how Radiata Stories was massive and there
was so much to miss. I played this game and found it to be fun, but far
from massive. Sure there are 177 recruitable characters, but thats about
it. If you don't spend time trying to recruit everyone you can get through
the entire game in less than 10 hours. And while I'm not saying a short
game is bad, Radiata Stories just felt like they left out a lot of the
details. There is a lot in the story than they seemed to have left out in
favor of a grand scheme. The overall concept of the story is great and
playing both sides is interesting, but the game just feels like it's lacking
What is your whole take on RPG's with a Grand Scheme vs. RPG's that have
minute details (and you can't say you want both =P because, sadly,
developers seem to thinks it's one way or the other these days).
-- Kalledon --
Your question is a bit vague, but I'll do my best.
If by "Grand Scheme" you mean "central plot", then I think that THAT is probably more important for me. If an RPG
is going for storyline, then it had better do it well: All of the Xenogames, for example, are games that you play
because you enjoy the plot. The problem is that often you're right: In such games, the developers are messy with
the little details- anything from mini-games, battle system, and NPC dialogue, to in some cases, character depth (see also:
This is, what I think, has made Final Fantasy so great, generally speaking. The games in the series do a great job
of balancing a background story and grand scheme with these "minute details" of yours. I think that really, this
balance is an important part of what exactly makes the difference between RPGs that are "decent" and RPGs that are
Ha! Yet another suggestion
Console style RPG for the PC? I can think of none other than Septerra Core. Very overlooked game, and for
its time a wonderful looking RPG. The story line is quite decent, being set in a ruined post-apocalyptic style world.
Religious undertones, cool characters, and a fight system similar to Chronotrigger, its a nice little diamond in
WoW is 15 bucks a month, and the money it saves me from having to rent games, buy games, or buy women alcohalic drinks
on the weekends has helped me save quite a bit of money. I just kind of miss all the RPG's on the consoles I miss
out on... oh and the women.
As for the 100,000,000 points wins all expense paid trip to E3, watch out! Remember that Pepsi commerical that had a
Harrier Jet for an insane amount of points? Some guy saved up alot of points, then used the money substitute clause
they put into their little sweepstakes. He sued the crap out of pepsi for not actually offering what they advertised lol.
Man, today's column has just turned into a "What should Matt play?" game, hasn't it? I guess I brought this upon
myself, but I feel like this has turned into the A&Q section for a bit.
Anyway, after finding RPGamer's own preview for Septerra Core, written back-in-the-day, I smiled when I read the
following quote: "Valkyrie Studios looked at this situation and thought, 'Why aren't there any console-style RPGs for the PC?'
And seeing this void, they decided to fill it - with Septerra Core."
It does, upon reflection, look a little bit Chrono Triggerish. I wonder why it didn't make much of a splash upon its
arrival? Any input, m'peeps? I mean, for heaven's sakes... even the HP and MP are separated by a colon; that's almost
a bit too much! I suppose the use of punctuation to separate fields on an interface doesn't make or break an RPG, but
it's funny nonetheless.
World of Warcraft is not something I'm interested in. I DO have a social life, and meagre as it is, it would be a
shame to lose it entirely. The problem, of course, is that being the pennypincher that I am, I'd feel obligated to
play a ridiculous amount of it even if I didn't become addicted (like many souls I know), so at the very least, I would
have the ILLUSION of being addicted, and since I hate it when people accuse me of things I'm not guilty of, I'd probably
fall into a deep inescapable depression. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure it's more than $15 for Canadian players. Even if it WERE just $15, though, that adds
up to $125 in a single year, plus $50 for the game itself. I could buy THREE "real" games instead, and probably end up
Oh, and I'm fully prepared to dole out a fresh E3 trip, no worries. By the time I'm 19,000 years old, I intend to be
able to do anything I please, and if giving out free trips is one of those things, then by gosh, I'm going to follow
through. I promise!
So, in closing, please don't have TOO much fun tonight. I, after all, have no plans whatsoever, and seeing
other people having lots of fun is sometimes a saddening affair. Why am I not having any fun? I can't very
well go out; regretfully, scholastic responsibilities are present in my schedule early Tuesday morning. I do,
however, hope to score on some chocolate nonetheless, because if there is ever an opportunity to eat a lot of chocolate,
I take it, no questions asked. Chocolate is something that is always good...
OKAY! We had a triple decker set of questions last day. Since I missed a day last week, sure, I'll give out
4 points instead of 2 to anyone who tried but missed all three; however, I don't think that happened with anyone
at all. You should all pat yourselves on the back for being so smart.
Question #27 was... the course code one. I suppose that if you were really ambitious, you could search out the
university website and look for it. I don't think I've mentioned it here, but I may have. The right answer, though,
is c) MATH*1200, for that is the course for which I teacher's-assist.
The next question was interesting indeed, and most people picked up on the gibberish. Those people who were observant
enough noticed that every letter of the question was simply substituted with the letter following it in the alphabet,
so the answer was clearly b) Sfqmbdjoh fbdi mfuufs xjui uif ofyu mfuufs pg uif bmqibcfu.
The final question was another one most people got right! Indeed, c) You can't just divide the (a-b) into both sides!
was correct, because a-b = 0, and you can't ever divide by zero. I guess if you didn't know the math behind that one, you
could have guessed c) anyway, because I really make too many of my correct answers option c) even though it's a completely
15 points for every one of 'em! How about today's, though? Will you fare as well this time?:
Question #30: (15 points)
Which game have I invested the most time into in a single playthrough?
a) Dragon Warrior IV
b) Dragon Warrior VII
c) Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
d) Pokémon Red
e) Pokémon Ruby
Question #31: (10 points)
In the substitution cypher from last time, what mistake did I make?~
a) The options were labelled incorrectly!
b) An "s" was present in the question where there should have been a "u"!
c) A "c" was present in one of the answers where there should have been an "e"!
d) Squall is so much better-looking than Tidus...
e) HA! It's a trick question... the question was pristine.
This is the day that BINSER gets congratulated for crossing the 100 barrier. For that, you shall be awarded
the fifth prize of the SOCK competition. Folks, we could be talking about our first GUEST CO-HOSTS here! This
is the stuff to get excited about! Anyway, Binser, this is for you:
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??)
With that, I must end what I have begun, because if I don't, I won't have enough HP to write tomorrow's column too.
Running out of HP just isn't fun.
***Matt's current HP is only 273! He's got little sweat-drops above his sprite!
Oct. 29 - Cast
Oct. 28 - Cast
Oct. 27 - Matt
Oct. 26 - Matt
About the Host
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
A PC Game for Christmas?
Cookie o' the Week:Mattie's All Saints Day Cookies
These treats commemorate the oft-overlooked observance that follows Halloween. Indeed,
All Saints Day certainly goes ignored, probably due to the fact that nothing sweet and sugary is traditionally
consumed on that day, except for things acquired on Halloween.
-1 large zucchini
-1 cup of holy water
-2 freshly laid golden eggs
-1 cup of fairy dust (I'm pretty sure this stuff is actually dandruff...)
-a sprig of ambrosia
-an olive twig
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Peel the zucchini and chop into smaller pieces. Put into a blender with the eggs, water, vanilla, and olive
twig, and mix until very uniform throughout (it might take a minute or more). Add the fairy dust, and then pulse
the blender at high power for a few seconds at a time until a muddy dough is formed. Roll this amalgam into balls
and place on a greased cookie sheet; press a piece of ambrosia into each ball. Bake on Cloud 9 until they look
heavenly, and then enjoy in your own favourite Utopia.
5. Arros Raikou