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ASK MATT
Characteristic Fans November 9, 2005

Matt Demers - 02:51 EST

HAVE YOU been in the middle of something while chewing gum mindlessly, when all of a sudden, you chomp down with great such great force on a portion of your tongue or cheek that you start to bleed, producing the absolutely disgusting taste of fresh 'n' minty blood within a few seconds while bringing tears to your eyes? Well, I haven't.

I imagine it might not be pleasant, though.

Amidst all the talk of game music over the past couple of days, I've been itching to play Final Fantasy IX and X, both. My sister and I have been sending music from the two games back and forth, which hasn't helped quell the desire any, either. I can't start now, though!! I've got to keep my schedule free... for other games, like Wild ARMs: Alter Code F.

Onto the mailbag...




L E T T E R S
Mother lover! What's mother?


Hey Matt!

Thanks for the assist with the sis q's. Much appreciated!

Unfortunately, this holiday season does not find me pining for RPG's too much. Most RPG's I am looking forward to, such as Kingdom Hearts II or the next Zelda, are slated for 2006 by now (*sigh*). Though with your staunch propaganda for DQVIII, I might have to go check that one out... Otherwise, it's the FFIV port for the GBA or non-RPG games like Soul Caliber III or the Nightmare Before Christmas games that recently came out.

Okay, so I'm a total noob and not up on the hype, but what is this Mother 3? Feel free to chastise me roundly for this question.

Curiosity personified,
MagRowan

Matt

Oh, my goodness. This is an emergency! I shall help you right away.

The Mother series is a series developed by Nintendo in Japan. There exist two games so far in the series: the first was for the NES and never saw the North American light of day, and the second was for the SNES. It was translated for North American gamers; we know it better as Earthbound, one of my favourite games of all time. Hopefully, then, you understand why the prospect of a Mother 3 is so incredibly exciting! If not, go find a way to play Earthbound, if possible...the game transcends quirkiness.

Also, I'm glad my propaganda is working! Beware the subliminal messages... they're riddled throughout my work.

*insert spiralling spirals*



A game, a rant, and some nerdy stuff


Hello Q&A Guy! I've never written, and I feel a little outmatched in the RPG arena. I don't have too many games under my belt, due to lack of money. Sadly I had to sell my Nitendo and Playstation to help pay for school (as well as most of my clothes...) However, out the few games I have played (Crono Cross, Final Fantasy IX are some of the very few) my first love is Crono Trigger, a game which, as I read, you have yet to finish. You're missing out, my friend. I've played/finished that game so many times in my earlier years, I can still play it through in my head (which is what I have to do since I sold it, along with the console, *sniff sniff*). It has so many awesome endings that you can only get after finishing the game. My favorite is the hardest ending to get; you choose New Game+ and defeat kick Lavos's spikey butt before doing anything, before bumping into Marle, before talking to anyone, etc. The result is...well, you'll just have to see for yourself - that is if you ever finish the game. Woo! I'm getting all nostalgic just thinking about it! Damn my need for a college education! How far have you gotten through Crono Trigger, anyway?

Matt

Whew, a lengthy paragraph to begin the day!

I've mentioned it before, but I HAVE played most of the game. I got to the Son of Sun battle, which I tried a couple of times but just couldn't get past, and then finally tried to just go after Lavos in 1999, where I failed after a forty-five minute battle. I couldn't muster the patience to try again, and that was many years ago now. One of these days... mark my words, I will play it again.

Ok, onto my real question: I'll probably get jeered and booed off the stage for this one, but I just HAVE to know! I don't understand the whole Online RPG thing. They don't seem like real RPGs to me; is there a story, a set purpose for you to navigate through the online world? Do you just level up your own creation and set it loose wreaking havoc and/or spreading hope and love? Can you explain it to me?

Matt

You won't get laughed off MY stage, because I hear you every step of the way!

Maybe it started in my years of dial-up on the old farm; maybe it's because I have pennypinching genes in each and every one of my cells; maybe it's because of no particular reason at all, but I have never once had any morsel of desire to play an online RPG.

Many online RPGs have monthly fees: Umm, yeah, no thanks, I already paid for my game. Why should I have to pay for it again? And again... and again...

Online RPGs seem to lack substance and character depth. No, I'm not talking from experience; I'm talking as a stupid outsider looking in. However, you can't tell me that plot and character depth can be masterfully crafted when you have three thousand copies of your own character running all over the world at any given time.

Online RPGs make monsters out of normal human beings. I have friends that regularly spend five or six hours to run into some random cave in World of Warcraft with sixty other people in order to seek a single item out. I used to play Dungeons & Dragons with those guys; we used to spend time doing fun things together every now and then, but they've been lost, seemingly, forever. I'm not about to spend enough money to buy three "real" games only to lose my social life entirely. My social life is fragile enough as it is!

So maybe it's not a fair judgment to make, but I think that the emphasis for most people is to just level up by continually fighting random foes until you graudally carve your way into a virtual world to become a more significant speck. There might be some story involved, but perhaps it's more "backdrop" than an involved plot. I'm probably not the best person to ask, anyway.

*awaits assault of beat-down letters*

I thought about looking up and finding an answer myself, but your answers are easier to understand for RPG deficient people like me...and you're also really hilarious! Even when I don't know what you're talking about the way you write/answer questions usually makes me chuckle. So, pat yourself on the back, I think you are pretty funny, for someone who studies math.

Mule

That Matt Guy

For someone who studies math? What's that supposed to mean!? It's INTEGRAL that you differentiate my math identity... um... C2-continuously... from my? Oh, blast it; it's way too hard to express real ideas in math-related homonyms. It really pushes me to my limit. G'faw!

Anyway, enough going off such random tangents. I'm glad you're enjoying it! I do what I can do.



Zelda, plus Breath of Fire, divided by 2


Dear Matt, I've often read your Q+A section, but this is my first time writing. In my opinion, Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter is one of the most beautiful PS2 games I've ever played, and a part of that beauty is the game's soundtrack which Hitoshi Sakimoto (think Final Fantasy Tactics) masterfully composed. He is, in my opinion, the greatest composer of medieval/fantasy themed music ever (although Dragon Quarter's seemed more industrial to me, which fits the game perfectly anyhow).

Matt

It DID sound industrial, but in an interesting way. "Industrial sounding" music sounds like it would be boring as hell, but it's just so full of power and feeling, to describe it somewhat cheesily. If you heard it, though, you would know what I mean. That's one game that I always made sure was turned up really loudly, especially at home with Surround Sound speakers; that is, at least until mom yells over the decibels.

"TURN IT DOWN!"

Now, onto my question. Considering that you say you're a fan of Dragon Quarter (unless you are being sarcastic, I can't really tell), have you ever imagined what Twilight Princess' soundtrack would be like if Hitoshi Sakimoto composed the music for it? In my opinion that would be the soundtrack to end all soundtracks. Too bad it won't ever come true. Koji Kondo has a few remarkable themes, but in my opinion, he just doesn't fit the bill when it comes to truly epic game music.

Now please excuse me while I go melt at the thought of a fully orchestrated Zelda soundtrack with Hitoshi Sakimoto's signature on it.

Christine

Matt

Well, you're right: the only things hampering Ocarina of Time's music were the capabilities of the N64. That tinny instrument was in just about every single Nintendo-branded game for that system, which was unfortunate. I'm less familiar with Wind Waker's music, but regardless, I really do hope that the music is decent for Twilight Princess, as well as the game on the whole: It does, after all, seem to be the ONLY Gamecube game that Nintendo is banking on at all for success. Is there any other game anyone cares about at all that's up on NGC's release list? Umdon'tthinkso.



Life after the hill


Hey Matt,

Long,long time reader first time writer.

I thought that I'd share a few randow thoughts about my RPG experiences.

Firstly very pumped about DRagon Quest.Ive enjoyed every single Dragon Quest I've had a chance to play. Personally # 3 was my favorite.

I also put around 150 hours into 7 not being satisfied until everyone of my charcters had mastered every class. Then going to beat the final boss.

Matt

That's REALLY hardcore. I certainly never got that "into" the class system, because in all honesty, it's a pretty boring affair to just advance job levels by mindlessly fighting. On the other hand, it works remarkably well "on its own", if you're not the type to concentrate on powering-up your characters. What am I trying to say, here? Ugh... it's a great system, unless you find the need to level-up, in which case, it's brutally boring. There!

Dragon Warrior III is, to me, the best definition of the turn-based old-school RPG. If you haven't played it before, and you consider yourself to love the games of yesteryear, I strongly suggest that you pick it up. The world is so sprawling, the exploration is so inspiring, and a few surprises are in store. I will love that game until I die, along with its NES brethren. Thank you, Enix.

Secondly being a huge fan of the Suikoden series I extremely enjoyed number 3 despite all the flack people placed on it. I enjoyed being able to control three main characters and never found a good reason for the heat it too.

Suikoden 4 on the other hand was crap. Sailing from island to island took hours and I never seemed to really enjoy any of teh characters.

Chrono Trigger, Earthbound were both fantastic games although I must admit my first love was Final Fantasy 6. Spent so many hours playing it. Still do.

Really do miss the olde SNES RPGs still find myself playing those over all the stacks of games I have sitting there.

Matt

Wow, I'm beginning to wonder if there are any real Suikoden IV fans alive. If so, please raise your hand!! I'll surely publish your letter... <3 <3

That, and the newest Lunar game for the DS. Our RPG offerings for that contraption are bound to pick up soon, everyone; just stay (as) patient (as possible)!

I think that just about everyone who has played RPGs for more than five years has a fond not-so-modern favourite. How could they have been hooked otherwise?

Well since this is Q & A I suppose I should ask. After Dragon Quest 8 what games do I have to look forward too ?

Thanks

Beast

Matt

You're in luck! There's all SORTS of things to look forward to if you're an RPG fan. If you loved the old SNES games, they're being released within the next year or so, as we've talked about so much lately, but if you're itching for something else new in the Final Fantasy world, Final Fantasy III looks fantastic for Nintendo's DS, and there is of course, the spectre of Final Fantasy XII looming in the future.

If you're not interested in Final Fantasy but want something new, Wild ARMs: Alter Code F is being released next week as well, and so is Magna Carta. If you like Earthbound, then you like quirky humour: I'd highly recommend picking up Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, since none of Mario's RPG titles have failed to be delightful to play. Indeed, too, the idea of a likely Earthbound sequel has made recent big news as well. There's lots to look forward to in RPG-land for at least the next year and a half, and hopefully by the time we get there, we'll have a whole new crop to anticipate!



Cheaply made, highly priced


In reply to the guy complaining about a big circular ring being scratched on a dvd by your PS2, he's not the only one. I had the same thing with the Hack games. When I sent a mail to Sony, they replied that they had received other complaints, but that it wasn't a faulty model or anything. Thy said that it was most likely caused by illegally modding a PS2, although I have no idea how that could cause a disc to be scratched. - Enkidu

Matt

I'm sorry, but to me, Sony borders on having a lack of integrity with the quality of some of their products, or so I've been led to believe through rumour and experience. I had more than one friend with incredibly glitchy Playstation 1 consoles, and my Playstation 2, which I've loved and cared for, hasn't played normal DVDs in almost two years.

Add to that the curiosity that was Sony's response to questions awhile back about faulty square buttons and dead pixels on the newly-released PSP. Anyone remember? It was something like "too bad!"

Anyway, that's all I'll say about that. NEXT!!!



What's in a genre?


RPG means role-playing game. In many games you play a role. For example in GTA you play a black guy who must build his crime syndicate or whatever. Just like in Dragon Warrior you play some guy who has to save the world or whatever. Do you think RPG is still an appropriate term for the genre? Was it ever?

Thanks,
Flamethrower

Matt

Nah, not really. But, I guess you could say that you play "more of a role than usual" in that you're not only controlling a character, but looking into their thoughts and perspectives, much of the time: You essentially shadow the character's life by playing a role in a story. That's what I think it originally meant, and that's still what it means. Somehow, HP became necessary along the way, presumably due to Dungeons & Dragons.

Of course, names for genres aren't ever completely accurate: Not all "platformers" contain platforms in the truest sense; you can often beat the crap out of people with blunt weaponry in "first-person shooters".



If you like to watch 'em die...


Greetings Knowledgeable One,

First Off Congratulations on your victory in the competition. I would probably have voted for you if I had known that there was a contest. Second the answers to the SOCK, #40 is b) Phoenix and #41 is c) Ci and if I get that wrong then all my preparations for the Chemistry GRE subject test have been for naught.

Now since this is the Q&A column I suppose I might as well ask a question. Since the recent questions seem to dwell upon the recent influx of remakes, I think I will throw in my two cents. First I will agree that the story line should remain mostly unaltered but I think it would be acceptable to add to the story. Such as side quests that provide more back story for the main characters/villains/setting. graphical updates are par for the course and have to be accepted if not embraced, but they should at least remain true to the original art style. Finally I wouldn't mind updating the music as long as they don't change the classic sound effects, and voice overs are almost always a mistake so they should never show up on a list unless they were a part of the original game. Now for the first question which aspects of games slated for remakes should remain untouched and which should be changed?

Matt

You've touched on things fairly well. I think that if a company is going to do a remake, they should at least pump enough elbow grease into the game to get the graphical/musical standards up to a reasonably adequate level, in my opinion.

Beyond that, it's difficult to make the call: Some people are purists, and want their games pristine and untouched. Others, like myself, think that it's a bit of a cop-out for companies to not put effort into improving the game somehow. How so? This can take the form of anything from tweaking the balance of battles (not necessarily to become easier or harder), to adding extra secrets/bonus dungeons/boss battles, changing dungeon layouts without introducing random dungeon generators, or adding non-cheesy multi-player modes if possible.

One thing, though, that I'm not big on, is storyline alteration. Nothing should actually be changed, though perhaps I wouldn't mind a few added details here or there, if the people to add them were in fact involved with the original plot development.

In a nutshell, making aesthetic audio/video upgrades is somewhat akin to giving a game plastic surgery, while messing with the in-game systems is like giving a game organ transplants. If you tamper with the story, though, it's like trying to replace someone's heart and soul: they just wouldn't be the same person anymore!

My next questions revolves around the characters that populate the rpg world. The first time I played Final Fantasy X the only reason I finished was because someone spoiled the ending and told me Tidus died. Now I absolutely hated him and Yuna. So my first question is does it make me a bad person that the only reason I finished the game was to see Tidus die and Yuna cry? My second is have you ever come across characters either main or supporting that you thought deserved to die for, or that caused you to purposefully lose the final battle so that the world would be destroyed?

Sincerely
Bastion9999
"Insert witty comment here"

Matt

Ugh, you sound like my brother, who spent most of Final Fantasies 7 through 10 hoping and praying that the respective main characters "would just die". I wasn't the biggest Yuna fan, and Tidus was certainly all looks and no brains, extending a "stupid hero" trend that began in Final Fantasy IX (I wasn't much for Zidane either, despite the monkey tail, sorry). You're not BAD, per se, but the game obviously didn't impact you the way that the developers wanted you to be impacted.

Yeah, though... there are certain characters that become hated in any RPG, just as much as there are characters that are much loved. For me, hatred is borne in Action RPGs easiest, especially when characters go off and do things that they're not supposed to. I remember hating Sprite in Secret of Mana for always being dead at inconvenient times, and similarly, I seem to recall despising just about every ally in Sword of Mana when I played it through a year or so ago. Needless to say, I also hated just about every character in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time at one time or another. Perhaps standing absolutely motionless in the heat of battle when a character is SUPPOSED to be set to "Concentrate on Healing" breeds a kind of homocidal rage in me when all of said character's allies have fallen; I'm not sure.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Oooog, my head. I feel like I've gone downhill in a big way healthfully in the last 24 hours. How can someone feel so good one day and so near-death the next? I'm not really feeling near-death, yet, but I've got those "beginnings" of a sore throat that you just KNOW have the biggest potential of blossoming, blooming, and building into a full-blown pain in the neck, so to speak. Fluttering headachelike pains every now and then add to the fun, too.


Flashay!


Very well done, yesterday!! Most people got all 25 points, which is pretty good. I never really paid much attention to the stat-bonuses on Espers until this current playthrough, and I thought it would be a tougher question than it turned out to be. How about that? Well, in case you're wondering, the right answer was b) Phoenix. 10 points for that one!

#41 wasn't too bad, since Ca, Co, and Cu are all fairly well-known (Calcium, Cobalt, and Copper). A little bit more obscure is Ce, Cerium, but almost everyone guessed c) Ci, and that is the correct answer indeed. Very good, for 15 points.

Congratulations, MagRowan!! One delicious tilde is yours for having accumulated your first 100 points:

~


Keep sending in your guesses!! It won't be long before we have our first guest hosts, and before people get to hear an entire soundtrack of my weirdness! It's very exciting, isn't it? In any event, the next two ARE:

Question #42: (10 points) Follow me!--> Which of the following can you fight on the Veldt in Final Fantasy VI?

a) White Dragon
b) Dirt Dragon
c) Storm Dragon
d) Ice Dragon
e) Blue Dragon

Question #43: (10 points) Which of the following games was released in North America first?

a) Earthbound
b) Tactics Ogre
c) Chrono Trigger
d) Final Fantasy VI
e) Secret of Evermore

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!)

One more day to round out yet another week, with only three more weeks to go before exams this semester. Time flies when you're having fun, and like I always say, if you're not having fun, you might as well just eat ice cream while sulking on the sofa.

Gimme letters, and have a good day.

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt dislikes dizziness, especially where throwing up is involved.


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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Makai Kingdom

2. Warioware: Twisted!

3. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana

Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:

1. Dragon Quest VIII

2. Final Fantasy III

3. Mario & Luigi: PiT

A PC Game for Christmas?

Current Leader
Planescape: Torment

Recommended by:
DDX

Cookie o' the Week:

Mattie's Atelier Iris Cookies

Get ready in advance for these by lacing up your best hiking shoes. Dr. Scholl's cushions help immensely too.

-1 piece of Spoiled Meat
-1 cup of Bread Crumbs
-1 stack of magic paper
-1 Metal Pole
-1 stalk of Tall Magi Grass
-2 helpings of brown sugar

Go into the nearest forest and kill a wolf to find the meat and a badge. Walk east until you reach the first town you get to and exchange the badge with a random shopkeeper for the Magic Paper. Scout the area for Tall Magi Grass; if you don't find any, walk away and come back again and again until some happens to appear, and take a stalk. If in your walking back and forth, you happen upon a werecat, beg it for some Berry Mousse and take that two towns over to exchange for a metal pole. If they aren't sold out of it, buy brown sugar from the local store; if they are, travel back to the FIRST town and purchase it there, but talk to the girl in the bakery before you go six different times until she reveals her recipe for bread crumbs. Buy a few dinner rolls from her and use them to synthesize bread crumbs; then buy THOSE. Now, you have all of the ingredients! Throw them all together, and they'll change remarkably in appearance into something delicious, prompting a humourous bit of banter between your allies. Enjoy!

SOCK standings:

1. Jbumi
345 pts

2. Ourobolus
300 pts

3. DDX
287 pts

4. Arros Raikou
172 pts

5. Flamethrower
149 pts

6. Binser
135 pts

7. ~Sean~~
115 pts

8. MagRowan
105 pts

9. Jeremy
87 pts

10. Bainick
83 pts

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