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Thanksgiving Pasta November 24, 2005

Matt Demers - 04:30 EST

SICK AS A DOG AGAIN, for the third time this semester, is what I am. I felt a little "under the weather" yesterday, but today, I was bad enough that I skipped out of my class and the last part of my tutoring to come home and rest. I've been coughing and hacking ever since, and as a matter of fact, I have been rendered half-voiceless!

It was actually pretty funny to start the day, because I woke up to the phone ringing at the ungodly hour of 9:30. I answered it groggily, not realizing at all that my voice was completely coated in gobs of phlegm.

Matt: "Hgheehelloogh~o?"

It was so high-pitched and gooey, I couldn't even believe it, and I almost started laughing out loud because I was so shocked to hear it myself. Apparently, the guy on the other end was a bit taken aback, too, because there was about a three-second pause before he actually asked for me. Not in the mood to chat, of course, I screeched "Matt isn't available right now. Bye!" and hung up the phone. Later ON, when I went onto campus to try and be productive, I had the secretaries in the math office all laughing hysterically at my poor raspy self. Then, they told me to skip class and go home, so I did just that!

Enough about my sickness... I seem to always be ill these days. Let's do something more fun, like rant about games, consoles, and life in general. Oh yeah... and Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I'll be going to East Side Mario's to have pasta or something... no sweet potato pie for me! :(




L E T T E R S
Ah, we'll start off with a shorty tonight!


Dear Hotshot,

So, how are things? Alright then, let's cut the crap and get down to brass tacks. The FF 12 demo plays somewhat like FF 11 or Vagrant Story if they did it right (Zing!). Agree, disagree, stab me in the heart with my own sharpened femur?

- Eric Mills

Hotshot

I wouldn't dream of such a thing... certainly, one of your ribs could be sharpened to a much finer point, after all, and with the slight arch, it would make for a nice, ergonomically-sound stabbing arc.

Also, let me put it this way: Final Fantasy XII had better have one helluva good story.



Let us give thanks...for Xenosaga and Star Ocean!


Happy Thanksgiving Matt!

For this feasting holiday, I shall indeed be playing an RPG. I decided to break out Kingdom Hearts again since my 5 year old second cousin and aunt are in town visiting. They're both big Disney fans, so I thought I'd indulge them.

Matt

Mmm... I can't wait to show my grandma Dragon Quest VIII when she comes over at Christmastime. She showed me where the series started, and I love to keep her updated on where it has gone since then! It's fun to show typically non-video-game fans that they can, in fact, be fun.

Otherwise, I'm going to usurp the TV time during the parade and see how long I can play Katamari Damacy and get away with it.

Matt

TV time is a valuable commodity during the holidays, and I never get my hopes up, because with FIVE kids home, plus extra family members, plus the ones that normally reside there, everyone wants on one of the electronic media devices at some time or another. We really need to set up a sign-up sheet of some sort...

I hope you have better luck on your end!

As for this SO 3 thing... I haven't played it yet myself, but I've decided that after the holiday season, I'm going to break down and try it for myself. Probably end up buying it since it's $20 new. Not too much to lose considering.

I've also noticed that Xenosaga II has dropped to the $20 price point as well (at least where I am locally). Now, I've played the first one and I liked it. It's certainly not a favorite, but still, it is fun to play and a real thought provoker. But, I've heard that the second entry is not so good. Have you played Ep. II yourself? More often than not, the top complaint I keep hearing about is the character-generic fighting system. It it worth the play or a definite pass over?

Gobble, snarf, snap...

MagRowan

Matt

Mmmm, ghost food.

For $20? It depends on your income. If you're twelve years old with a $5 weekly allowance, I'd save up for bigger and better things. If you have a little cash hanging around, then sure. $20 isn't much to spend on the game, and I think that both of those titles are worth at least that, despite their shortcomings. I actually quite liked Xenosaga II... enough that I'd pay full-price for the last episode. It wasn't perfect, but it continues the same atmosphere set by Episode I, improves some things, and destroys others. You'll see what I mean, and then you'll write back.



I need my infamous crystal ball for this one...


System I'm most looking forward to: Nintendo "Revolution"
Reason: It will likely be the most affordable, and will have the games I want to play (Zelda, Metroid, Mario).

Matt

I think you're probably correct on most of those accounts. Nintendo is certainly poised to make the least expensive of the next-gen consoles, especially because they made a vague announcement about that rather recently.

Though we've seen Mario, Zelda, and Metroid about 1000, 100, and 10 times before respectively, I'm sure that their next incarnations will be glorious and well-done as well. All-in-all, Nintendo makes higher-quality, consistently fun games on average in comparison to the PS2 or the XBox; at least, to me. I'm interested in playing a bigger ratio of all Gamecube titles released than for any other console, at any rate, so it's too bad I have to go home to play them on my brother's machine, since I am Gamecubeless.

The capability of playing older games is nice, but not a factor in my decision. Its more of a gimmick.

By 2009/10 a feature I will definately be looking for is some kind of virtual-reality monitor that comes with the system. I expect it to look like a pair of glasses or goggles with 2 embedded monitors (for stereo vision). I think such a device would provide for an interesting and unique gaming experience.

Thanks,
Flamethrower

Matt

I think that what you said is what immediately springs into everyone's mind: Virtual Reality. Super-funky "real" 3-D graphics. I think that while these might be cool ideas, they aren't very realistic, because I can just imagine how cost-prohibitive they might end up. I can see it now... the "XBox 720" going on sale for a cool grand in five years. Also, Nintendo tried something different a decade ago and it failed miserably. The Virtual Boy ended up feeling like a giant gimmick on a stand, though really, I don't think it's any more than what you describe: An attempt to provide something new and innovative, graphically speaking.

I guess that only time will tell, hmm?



What a fun letter this is...


Hey Matt! I had some free time and I decided that I would actually send some qna-mail for a change!

I'm just gonna cut to a question since my free time is not that plentiful - which things in RPGS do you consider to be unforgivable sins? My list is as follows:

1 - Enemies can smash your items to pieces and you can't repair them when out of battle with a skill, but must do so in town.

Matt

I haven't played many games that are that evil, but I DO hate it when enemies just STEAL your items away. If the monsters can have the steal command, you should darn well be able to steal the stolen item back!

2 - An item, once smashed, can never be repaired.

Matt

That would indeed be irritating. Was it like that in Final Fantasy Tactics? I can't remember...

3 - A character dies/gets captured/leaves and 2 minutes later a carbon copy joins the group.

Matt

Ugh, Cait Sith. Ugh, last character in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. Ugh, it happens too often.

4 - The main character hits for 600 damage a round, companions hit for max 100. Why so overpowered?

Matt

THIS is my biggest beef with one of my favourite games otherwise; Earthbound. Why should the hero be so VERY heroic compared to the others? They simply pale in comparison to his might, and I feel sorry for them.

In situations like that, though, my crazy insanibrother just gets enraged, kills the main character, and stomps around levelling the others up until they adequately surpass him/her. He just HATES main characters with a fiery passion, especially if they're stronger-than-average, which they usually are.

5 - The game doesn't let you pick targets, or doesn't change targets when a current one dies.

Matt

Aww...my old Dragon Warrior loves. I really didn't mind this before like other people, just because it meant that you had to strategize your attacks to be as efficient as possible. It meant that you got to know your characters' strengths and weaknesses better, possibly. Of course, there's an element of frustration, but come on! Frustration builds character!

At least DQ8 finally implemented specific targetting, hmm?
Let's move on.

6 - Getting to a new town requires around 10 hours of mindless tasks (not leveling) to be able to max yourself out.

Matt

Hmm, I'm not quite sure what you mean, but yes, I agree. Wait a second...

7 - All characters do the same things - no uniqueness a la Final Fantasy V-VIII - just have to learn them all the same skills! Ever seen a party use Ultima every possible chance against Kefka?

Matt

Yeah, it is kind of sad, though I have no problem with a "reasonable level" of customizability. Insert also Final Fantasy II and III.

8 - Sequels that don't have you carrying over your stats. Why have the option if all you get is a swimsuit? And... how does one lost all their power in 3 months? Seems kinda weird to me!

Matt

Welcome to 99% of RPG direct sequels ever created! If Golden Sun did something right, that was it.

9 - The Hero says he needs to go on alone and his companions say no. He does and gets his ass kicked. And then tries to do the same thing like 10 more times...

Matt

I know, but have you ever checked the Hero's Int stat? It's not usually very high, so I'm never really that surprised when such things happen.

10 - Last one for now... heroes that would be better suited battling the unknowns of puberty rather than saving the world from a super powerful wizard that can kill armies with a wave of his hand.

Matt

...and coming soon, to a store near you: Final Fantasy III DS, where you'll be controlling four pre-pubescent warriors of whatever! I can't wait.

I'll get back if I find some more!

Lunar 3 fails me at the following - 1-6, 9, 10. Hopefully I will be able to finish it tonight.

Anything bother you like this?

Bye!
~Sean~~

Matt

Wonderful, please do! I personally don't like it when you can save absolutely anywhere in an RPG. It takes the fun, challenge, and virtually any element of risk out of the game. Also, games without money bother me greatly; pick up a copy of Quest 64 to see why!



Artificial Idiocy


Hey Matt,
First off I would have to say #57 d) Premediated Abduction of Royalty and #58 e) Stamps (only cause they seem to vanish on me regardless of where I may keep them).

Never played the Star Ocean games but did they even allow for manual control of the other characters or was it all AI?

Matt

As a rule, you're always controlling one character at any given time in Star Ocean, while the rest of your allies presumably take directions from the machine, each according to the tactical option you have selected for them. Evidently, the horrible AI is SONY'S fault!

In a related question, what games have you found the best AI? And if its optional when if ever do you use it? The only times I really let AI take over is when I'm way over leveled and feeling lazy or if its like FFT and I want the best result from my Calculator character.

Thats all for now and I at least will be here to read and answer your column so don't feel all alone. And I say go ahead and celebrate a second thanksgiving with us!

Xlash the dwarf berserker

Matt

Ohhh, none. I don't like AI at all, and it bugs me that it's going to take a front seat in Final Fantasy XII. I don't know if I've ever played a game where I said "Gee, I'm going to turn ON this AI function". In the end, I'd have to frighteningly say Summoner, if you can believe that, just because the computer could manipulate the horrible battle system far more effectively than I could ever hope to.

And bah, don't worry about Q&A! Enjoy the holiday! Gain 10 pounds, and have some extras on my behalf! I want some turkey... :(



A mini D-Q


Hey Matt,

In DQ8, is there any point at all to leveling up "fisticuffs"? It seems ridiclulous to fight without a weapon, but maybe I'm missing something...

-ill Scott

Matt

Absolutely! If you put points into Fisticuffs, then you won't NEED a weapon to dole out massive damage, because your stats might increase while unequipped, and several very powerful barefisted techniques may become available to you. Why "might" and "may"? Well, I haven't concentrated on those abilities, myself, so I'm not really sure! Just rest assured that there is, indeed, a point.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

A quiet end to the week, for sure, but things will pick up soon again! I just hope that for all of you American folk out there, you're having a very happy Thanksgiving with family and/or friends. Take the opportunity to relax, before the onslaught of Christmas is upon us all! Man... I have so much shopping to do.

Flashay!


Let's get right to the answers of yesterday, shall we now?

Most of you saw right through #57 and picked up the twenty points for guessing d) Premeditated Abduction of Royalty, because that is the right answer. I tried to think of suitable other possibilities, but either they just weren't good enough, or you're all just too obsessed with Chrono Trigger.

Almost NONE of you, on the other hand, got #58 correct. Many of you tried to deduce that "red pens" was the answer, thanks to my TA-ing habit, but I've always got one laying around. An eternal curse of mine, however, as a math major, is that I always write in pencil and thus need good erasers every now and then. Whenever I go out of my way to obtain such a high-quality white eraser, though, I always end up losing it almost immediately. Thus, d) White Erasers was correct. I knew that this one would be hard, so I actually provided a hint in the hidden text yesterday... apparently, none of you picked it up! WAHAHAHA!

The next two take us all the way to the sixtieth!

Question #59: Follow me!--> In Chrono Trigger, which of the following characters muses about consuming which other at one point? (20 points)

a) Robo/Frog
b) Marle/Frog
c) Ayla/Frog
d) Robo/Marle
e) Ayla/Robo

Question #60: (25 points) What is the product of all factors of the number of this question?

a) 777600000
b) 972000000
c) 3888000000
d) 9331200000
e) 46656000000

Remember! QNA mail continues until further notice, so if you want to send in your best guesses, send here.

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

200 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!)
2000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (5 remaining!)



And remember; it's never too late to get involved with this Spectacular Ongoing Contest of Knowledge! Sure, you won't be in the Top Ten right away, but if you keep at it, you'll have a good chance: Inflation is underway slowly, as you may have noticed, so the 500 points you'll have to make up won't be that big of a deal. Also, inflation will take complete misses up a notch, so as of next week, even if you send in and get nothing right, you'll leave with at least 8 more points to your name.

Furthermore, if you aren't in the Top Ten, but you'd still like to know what your current rank is, just pass a message to me, and I'll let you know where you stand!

Anyway, this is where I'll bow out. I will you all soon! Please have a safe and happy weekend; remember to send in more questions for Andrew, and for me next week.

Thanks, guys!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt is ready for some good Dragon Questing!


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Bwahahaha... it will be awhile before I put another hint here. Eeheeehee!

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Cookie o' the Week:

Mattie's False Delight Cookies

Ah, a recipe full of delicious almosts and not-quites, great for someone who "sort of" has a palate. Give these to guests that you don't really like, and maybe they won't overstay their welcome for just as long. Final Fantasy XI and X-2 fans might like these as well.

-1 1/2 cups white flour
-1 cup oil
-1 cup Splenda
-3 portions egg substitute
-1 tsp imitation vanilla extract

Combine the wet ingredients, then add the flour and stir until doughy! Bake in an Easy-Bake Oven until they look like cookies. Try to just about enjoy them!

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5. MagRowan
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10. ~Sean~~
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