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DDX & MATT
And Then There Were Two December 7, 2005

DDX - 01:48 EST

GREETINGS, DOODS! AFTER REACHING the lofty 500-point mark, I am going to be your co-host tonight. I was going to write a very thought-provoking introduction at first, but I wasn't able to locate any provoking thoughts. In fact, even mediocre thoughts were unavailable. The best I could do was to locate a semi-coherent thought, which is "Why don't animals wear pants? Hey, I've had twelve beers already!", but that really isn't the kind of thing I was looking for.

So, as an alternative, I've decided to sprinkle amusing similies throughout my replies. If you're lucky, I may even toss in an analogy or two.





L E T T E R S
Grandia III: now with 50% more Grandia-ness


Hello,

I also am a great Grandia fan! Grandia I started off with rather bad voice acting, I thought, but either the voice acting improved dramatically, or I just stopped noticing the difficulties with it. The copy I got from the pawn shop was messed up right at the beginning of the game. But I was hooked! I kept listening to the Perfect Victory theme over and over (in fact, I still have a WAV file of it from back then). When my new copy arrived from eBay, I was at the limits of my patience, and played it like mad. From the hilarity of the female generals (who also had a great theme), to all the touching moments toward the end, it was very emotionally satisfying.


DDX

On one hand, I have to agree that the original Grandia was quite a gem. On the other hand, listening to the Perfect Victory theme over and over would quickly cause my head to pop like an overripe tomato in a room full of Gallaghers.

Grandia II was also great. The story didn’t seem as good as the first, but I found the characters to be especially delightful. Both of them had a great battle system. I don’t recall ever tiring of it, although I never did get Feena’s Water skill to level 99 to see what sort of ability was available at that level. Hehe… I am looking forward to Grandia III with great excitement!

Is it necessary to include a question when writing to Q&A?


DDX

Not that I've noticed. Rants usually work just as well. In fact, I hope to one day see a Q&A column without a single actual question.

…….

At any rate, I hope that counts. :P

-Tyke


DDX

Well, I must admit that I don't share your enthusiasm for Grandia III. The PS2 version of Grandia II had such horrible slowdown while in town that I never got very far into the game before quitting out of the frustration caused by moving roughly 10 feet per minute while in a bloody village. And, after the crapfest that was Grandia Xtreme, I am very skeptical towards future Grandia releases. Still, a lot of people love them, so more power to you!




MOR KOTOR POR FAVOR?


Matt,

I thought about commenting on a remark you made a day or two ago about the availability of the Knights of the Old Republic games on computer, then decided not to...except you mentioned it again today. So, my two bits. This topic first arose during someone's defense of the Xbox. Please understand that the fact that those games were made for the XBOX and thus would probably not have appeared on the PC otherwise is a legitimate defense of the Xbox. Defending a platform by pointing out games that were designed DUE TO that platform's existence is a valid argument. Just wanted to put that out there. If someone began defending the PS2 by listing games for it and another bloke replied with "those games are on GameCube and Xbox also" you'd be more inclined to say "so what" am I right? I mean, is the Super Nintendo going to be undefensible in a year because a great number of the games for it (FF4, 6, Earthbound, Zelda: LttP) are/will be on GBA? No, because those games came about BECAUSE of the SNES.

Matt

Hmmm. I think you may have misunderstood what I meant; all I really intended to say was that SINCE I already have a PC, I'm not really inclined to go and pick up a console if most/all of the must-have games for said console are out for release on the PC I already own. I may have inserted a few sarcastic remarks here and there to spice things up, but really, that's all I meant. My apologies, because you're right... I don't discount the Game Boy Advance and it's library just because half of the titles for the handheld have already appeared in some way, shape, or form in the past, and there's no reason I should do that for any other system either!

Also, the fact that the KotOR games are based off of Star Wars movies shouldn't sway you negatively, aside from your dislike of Star Wars. I mean, some of the more rabid videogame/Star Wars fans over at the GameFAQs Star Wars board refuse to acknowledge the two games as "canon" and seem quite offended by them. They warn people about the consequences of bringing them up on that board. That should tell you that the developers of the two KotORs didn't let their plotting and scripting be rigidly limited by previous content, but took full artistic license in order to make good products. I for one am a huge fan of both the "official" Star Wars movies and much of the extended universe, and yet had no problem ignoring the discrepancies in the Xbox Star Wars fare because of how utterly fun they are. I preordered Jade Empire back when I could just on the weight of the first KotOR, and I ain't rolling in the cash.

Matt

See, and I despise movie-purists who refuse to enjoy a movie "because it was nothing like the book", even if the film in question happens to be of high quality. I guess that what I mean... is that it's just more likely for a Star Wars fan to pick up the game in the first place. I'm not "anti-Star Wars", per se, but it just hasn't turned my crank, and that's why up until this point in my life, I haven't really paid much attention to the game series, despite the amazing kudos being showered down upon it from both left AND right. At the same time, I've been pretty continuously occupied with games over the past couple of years, so I haven't really felt a real urge to fit them in.

One thing is certain: I'm not anti-SW:KOTOR; I can't be, because I haven't even touched the games, much less formed a judgment of them! Fear not, my friend.

Question time then. I own and enjoyed the first three Dragon Quests, and yet couldn't make myself wade much deeper than four hours on DQ7. To what extent is DQ8 different from 7 (other than graphically), and in what way are those differences able to draw someone who dropped out of 7 back into the DQ fold?

Thanks for your time,
Atavism


Matt

Dragon Quest VIII picks up the pace in an almost indescribable way. The game just MOVES faster and in a more involving way than its predecessor, and I personally think it feels a lot more like the Super Famicom's DQV and VI than anything else. Proof positive: I remember the hours DRAGGING by, quest-by-quest, in Dragon Warrior VII, but in VIII, I already have over fifty hours of game-time in, and I can't even believe how quickly they've flown by. It's really quite remarkable.

Other welcome changes/non-changes:

The battle system is largely untouched, and solid as ever. I was suspicious of the "Tension" thing at first, but it functions marvelously.

The job system, which was getting a bit big for its britches, has been ousted in favour of a cleaner, simpler, skill points system that seems to work spectacularly.

The musical soundtrack is at least as good as it was in Dragon Warrior VII, and the orchestrated version we've been treated to is incredible; even though you hear the same songs over and over again, it's difficult to get sick of them.

The game is as challenging as ever, and strategic battling is as in-depth and involved as it was back in the days of the NES.

For me, personally, the lofty expectations I had for the game have been exceeded. If you enjoyed the Dragon Quests in the NES days, I have NO worry at all that you won't enjoy this game.

Anyway, thanks for the great letter! It gave me a chance to clarify a few things, and once again plug my new favourite game.



The Bangaa army needs YOU!


Dear Sir,

Do you think it's at all odd no playable Bangaa have been revealed in ffXii? They went to the trouble of designing multiple sub species, and making Ivalice a diverse world, but the playable characters are all humans, with the exception of the one Viera ( essentially a human with bunny ears). Has Square ever left playable characters unmentioned until the release before?

I'm going to be really dissapointed if i spend a third of the game " dealing with the Bangaa army" . I've yet to play the demo, but since Yasumi Matsuno left the project I've been getting progessively less stoked for this one.

_ uraku_


DDX

Frankly, I don't particularly care about FF XII, because the battle system sucks more than an intern at a... drinking straw convention. What were you all thinking? To answer your question, I wouldn't be overly surprised to discover a character or two that hasn't been mentioned yet, but my money says that the characters we've seen are all we get.



The Black Sheep no more!


Hi Matt!

Thanks for the DS recommendations. Somehow I completely forgot about FF3. That's definitely something to look forward to. I wonder how thorough the changes that they're making to it are going to be. I wouldn't know either way as I've never seen it before. I'm just wondering which other game in the FF series this one will be the closest to, regarding customization or lack thereof for example. Have you seen the original version, and if so, what kind of gameplay does it have? Was the plot focused (FF4) or was it little more than a backdrop (FF1)?

Thanks!
Jeremy


Matt

No problem! I'd recommend more, if I could, but I'm surprised that you could forget Final Fantasy III!

I'm VERY pumped about this game, and I'm so glad the rest of the world will get to experience it.

Final Fantasy III is such a "transition" game, so to speak. It was the first Final Fantasy to have damage/recovery represented by bouncing numbers superimposed on the battlefield, but it was the last Final Fantasy to maintain a FF1-esque turn-based system. So many skills that would soon characterize the series were born in Final Fantasy III; things like "Steal", "Terrain", "Scan", "Jump", and "Cover" appeared for the first time, along with the first summons (and the first summoners). The game also boasts one of the best musical scores of the entire series, I'd argue, hampered only by the limitations of the system it was released for. The game looks and feels remarkably like the SNES Final Fantasy IV, as well; in fact, FFIV borrows most of its NPC sprites and a number of sound effects from its lesser-known big brother.

Plotwise, this is where the game is leaps and bounds better. Final Fantasy II attempted to be more "interactive" by using the password system, and it was somewhat successful. FFIII drops the system, replacing it with the item-window popup that appears from time to time in Final Fantasy IV as well (for example, when you have to use the Magma Key at the Agart well). The story is perhaps not quite as focused as it is in Final Fantasy IV, but the traditional plot that IS there is well spun. The "cinematics" that tell the tale are a marked improvement, which helps things immensely: Music will CHANGE if something shocking or scary happens; characters have more possible animations (I believe), and the developers were just all in all much more noticeably creative with the game than for either FFI or II.


This game is DEFINITELY one to watch out for!!



'Tis a quandary. Or is it?


Hi,

I know you're going to ace your exam. I have faith in you!

Matt

Ohhh, it appears that I've let EVERYONE down. I've taken all of your faith and flushed it down the toilet like a used tissue.

I agree with your assessment of the FFXII demo. Unlike you I don't think I'll waste my money on it. Went Christmas shopping with Lisa (of the 6 kids). Saw the new GameBoy. I don't have very good close-up vision. This new GB was the first one that I could actually SEE the images (instead of a bunch of blurs). So now I'm thinking maybe I'll get myself one (partially by the money saved from FFXII); but then I think that FFIII is coming out for the DS (which none of the stores we went to had displayed so I don't know how well I'd be able to see it); but then I think that GB has a much bigger RPG library......... So what do you think - GB or DS (don't say both - I don't have that much dough!)?

Have a great evening & Tuesday!

Jbumi


Matt

You see, I WOULD say both if I could, but only because I don't think it matters which one you choose; you'll find yourself a decent library of RPGs on either one. A few months ago, I wouldn't have suggested buying a Game Boy Advance, because I kinda thought that the Nintendo DS was going to take it over completely, but apparently, there's still a lot of life left in the system, and much reason to buy the new Game Boy Micro, especially if you're a fan of Square's SNES Final Fantasies, as most people are. Also, there were a zillion GBC/GBA RPGs released over the past many years you could pick up too, if you haven't already: Many people loved Golden Sun, some others enjoyed Pokémon, and still more had fun with Sword of Mana. I'm not sure if the GBMicro plays GBC games though, so you might want to check that out.

On the other hand, picking up the DS really doesn't seem like a bad idea. It's a little more expensive, to be sure, but there are so many potentially great games for a wide variety of fans in the forseeable future that Nintendo's DS is setting up to be a very exciting system to own for any RPGamer. If you aren't into the idea of the amazing-looking Final Fantasy III, then maybe the newest Mana game might turn your crank. Xenosaga fans will have a chance to rejoice, too, with the release of Xenosaga: Episodes I + II, and Mario-lovers like ME get to have fun with Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, which is wonderful, reportedly. I'm sure there will be more to come in the future, too, so if you're willing to invest a little bit more, I really do think that the DS is going to be your best bet. After all, the DS would be able to play any of the GBA titles you're interested in getting, anyway!

Thanks for the e-mail! Good luck making your decision...



Pinjas... coming soon to a store near you!


Hello!

I have just recently played the FF12 Demo that comes with the amazing Dragon Quest 8 game. I am indeed worried about what rpg's have become nowadays.

This whole action-rpg concept is something that bothers me. I am assuming that these mixes are done by companies who try to satisfy a public they couldn't reach by their traditional rpg's.

Where i am trying to go is to this new fight method of FF12. So, now I can move around my characters while fighting. So, now if I put my characters out of the Gambit Mode and I don't select any attacks they just stay there like a bunch of stupid dolls. So, now when I beat monsters the items they leave are shown as an icon I have to move towards to (WTF!!). So now beasts can kick other beasts asses while my character eats some popcorn and enjoys the fight (in the demo you see this tiny monster wannabe trying to fight this horse that is easily ten times its size. So, the animation when you do a magic sucks, cause we don't get the camera stay in the character that's doing the magic now.


DDX

I have to say, I agree with you. It seems obvious to me, as an MMO player, that Square is trying to give the combat in FFXII an MMO feel. This simply won't work, however, since part of an MMO is that the other PCs in your group are being controlled by thinking humans, which AI simply can't replicate. Also, they aren't going for a pure MMO-style combat system... they have also mixed in the ATB system, creating a half and half combat system that feels altogether clunky and lackluster. It's kind of like trying to mix a pirate and a ninja to create a pinja (or a nirate, if you prefer); it sounds like a cool idea on paper, but it just doesn't work.

I was discussing this matter with a friend of mine by first telling him that every franchise I use to dig now seems to suck humongously, with examples of Xenosaga, Wild Arms, and now Final Fantasy (I even have my mind set as not to like ff12 without even playing it completely). He wanted to convince me that Square-Enix and any other company submit their games to these changes in order to acquire new market. The market of people who hate rpg's because of this "you hit me, I send my character to hit you, you hit me, I send my character to hit you" style of game. And I concluded that if they are trying to acquire new market, that definetly shouldn't be their approach. Why? Because every action-rpg that Square-Enix has done, or any other company, haven't even gotten close to the sales that any Final Fantasy older style game has reached.


DDX

I don't know why companies are screwing with turn-based combat myself. True, a real-time system such as the one used in Tales of Symphonia can be fun, and I enjoy RPGs where timing your button presses can increase the power your attacks (like in Super Mario RPG, for example), but nothing is as entertaining as a game where the PCs and the monsters take turns beating the stuffing out of each other.

I love my traditional rpg's. Fav game being Xenogears and loving every ff game (until ffx2 which i just don't dig and ff11 because i hate online games with my entire life and this one isn't an exception)

So? What do you thing future departs for RPG's? I am scared to even think the possibilities of having in the future more mixes like these, having in our hands new themes like, sports-rpg, where u can level your characters dunk abilities, etc. Or maybe some dancing-rpg game, where you level your character's leg. I don't think that changes should be made to the type of game itself, but to the gameplay that is with the game, like for example, ffx presented the sphear grid thingie which is preety cool, and the aeons fighting with you, or how you learned ur techiques in ff9 by using different kind of weapons and you forging those, or the materia system in ff7. Story changes, characters changes, graphics changes, music changes, so now why do the concept of RPG change to? Sport-rpg for gods sake!!


DDX

It's rather funny that I'm the co-host to answer this question, because I brought up a very similar topic a month or two ago. People really like to power up their characters in video games. They enjoy watching their character grow in strength as the game continues. For this reason, RPGs and other genres have been blurring for some time now. RPGs have begun incorporating elements from other genres, and other genres have begun incorporating RPG elements. And by the way, for your sports RPG... it's been done. By winning matches in NFL Blitz 2000-something-or-other, you would gain stat points to assign to your created character. The only real question at this point is just how far the genre-blurring will go.

I think that all these new powers next-gen consoles have can be used for great things, without the need of those changes, for example, we can have an rpg that visually changes the character every time you buy a new set of clothing item... We have seen weapons changed in battles, how about the clothing?


DDX

I enjoyed the way Jessica's outfit in DQVIII would change based on her equipment. My only wish is for other characters to have been given the same treatment, instead of just the character with boobs. PC RPGs have been utilizing graphical changes to a character based on equipment for some time... I have no idea why console RPGs refuse to do it. I can see how disk space could have been an issue long ago, but that should no longer be a problem.

I am still waiting for news about PS3 rpg's cause until today i am a bit scared knowing that xbox360 is getting some great looking rpg's and no news about games for ps3, like enchant arm, and mass effect.

My last observation would be something that I really dislike in rpg's. The girlie looks that most characters have right now. I have always thought of myself being the character in the game I am playing, and I have had fun being Cloud, a little bit of Squall (cause of his all i dont give a shit about anything attitude), etc... But now I have to be at ease knowing that game developers want girl-looking men to be their principal character in a game? Vaan? Tidus? The guy from Magna Carta? Even the guy from Dragon Quest 8 looks like someone who works cleaning houses or something (and I have being praying that he gets a costume change troughout the game). How about we getting REAL baddasses characters starring in our rpg's? Imagine a Dante from DMC sending everyone in a town to hell cause they didn't tell him something important about his quest.

well, thats all...

Thanks!
Marino


DDX

About the girlie look that boys in RPGs have been having... that's because the girlie look for men has been popular in Japan for quite some time now. And, since the Japanese are the ones making console RPGs, it's only logical that the fashion currently popular in Japan would show up in the games.

As for "badass" characters... I hate those almost as much as I hate the paladin-like heroes that typically populate RPGs. Can't we have somebody in a console RPG that DOESN'T have an extremely one-sided personality? Just once?



Dragon Quest Abroad? No, I'm not talking about Jessica!


Matt its 11 pm here so I will be thinking of you as I try to kill Yukimura Sanada. Samurai style of course. I have my fingers crossed for you anyway.

Matt

I appreciate the gesture, but it appears that it was not nearly enough to combat the evils of my Partial Differential Equations professor. I don't know why he wanted to kill us, but now, having talked to every single person in my class about it, it looks like there isn't a single person who had a good time during that exam. I'm just going to be embarrassed to show my face to that man for awhile, though I'd better suck it up, since I have him again next semester for Biomathematics.

Anyway with Drahon Quest 8 being released in both NTSC formats is there are confirmation that it will cross over to PAL format as Square/Enix games have a tendency to not make it over that giant border. Its just that RPG's are looking few and far between with only Mario and Luigi coming out before April. Oh well, it does look like I might (points parents in right direction) be geting Fire Emblem for christmas so at least my needs will be filled, as long as i'm not working that is.

Supporting you from across the world Bainick. P.S. My Year 12 exams were fairly easy this year


Matt

Well, good for you! One of us was well-prepared, at least. You know, I really thought that Square Enix had said something about a European release of Dragon Quest VIII and Final Fantasy XII, but maybe I've been hallucinating. Last we heard was this little bit here, which indicates that the idea has at least crossed the minds of some people at Square Enix. Considering how well the game has done in Japan, and how well I *think* it's doing here, I'd say that seeing it in PAL format would be at least a more-likely-than-average possibility. I'm sorry I can't say anything more!!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I think that we can all agree that DDX has done an excellent job as first co-host; DDX, you have now officially lost your Q&A-hosting virginity! Maybe one day, I can grab you and use you for backup, now, if I'm feeling too lazy to answer my own questions, one of these nights.

Of course, I'm kind of feeling extremely lazy right now, too. Now that my exam is done with, for better or worse, I took part of the afternoon to do some hardcore napping (as opposed to softcore? Whatever) and I even got to play some more of a certain nameless game...er, a nameless game that actually has a name, come to think of it.

I'll be a-heading home, though, while you're reading this, on the ever-delayed lines of VIARail Canada, this country's sorry excuse for a passenger train system. The Nintendo DS will be keeping me company all the way, so don't worry about me; if someone wants to come over and keep me company anyway, I'd be more than happy! Feeling lonely is, in general, a bad thing. I'd better not be crammed besides some new mother with an overly noisy child that enjoys spitting up every five seconds, or... I'll be "fit to be tied", as they say.


Flashay!


Today, we take our socks off to DDX, who has one last thing to add here: His very own question to go along with the day's Chrono Trigger offering! Let's take a look at the answers to yesterday, though.

#65 surprised me, because I didn't realize so many of you would get it right, which is WHY I allocated a record 40 points to that question alone. The man who says that is Dalton, and Dalton is also the first name of Mr. McGuinty, the premier of a) Ontario. Great job, people... I'm impressed!

MagRowan's question hailed from a somewhat obscure comic, but that didn't keep many of you from guessing that the Pirate Queen names all her Proles b) Roger for 25 points.

It looks like the end is in sight for the first 5 guest host spots! Yesterday's questions put Flamethrower over the 500 mark, and put MagRowan dangerously close to it. Prepare yourselves, everyone, for a few more guest-hostings in the weeks to come!

Now, for today's questions, DDX appears to have hijacked #68 for today and has developed something truly monstrous; a veritable cryptographical cranium-crippler! Everyone, get down!!

Question #67: Follow me!--> When trying to take control of the Epoch after recovering it from Dalton, which buttons do you have to try out? (25 points)

a) Y, then B
b) L, then X
c) Y, then X
d) B, then A
e) A, then B

Question #68: Ask DDX!--> Thaw ot erally moonsee how eulzspz etsha dowr keylil wdlou eb omst ysa? (40 points)

a) Rfo sbte lseurts, rdae hte mnalua, spidut.
b) rosfte a lefl ni hte Fi, nad snodu? wsa ronuad, lduwo ti etre meka obdyno a
c) Gdaetg... Xten xten mtie, mtie...
d) Ti hwit nipa! Ho husotnad hte nsubr hte rief fo a, nsus!
e) I really hate word puzzles.


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

200 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
500 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #1 (4 remaining!)
700 points: The Final Fantasy 1 "Official" Crazed-Chipmunk-Hold-your-Ears Zipfile Soundtrack (5 remaining!)
1000 points: The Mattie's Mom Cookie Recipe Compilation (5 remaining!)
2000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (5 remaining!)


And so ends my first dual tech of Q&A columnship! I hope it was to your enjoyment. We have another one lining up for tomorrow; Ourobolus is set to take the stage along with yours truly in yet another edition!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt is DAWG (not dog; DAWG) tired


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Cookie o' the Week:

Mattie's Partial Differential Equations squares

The only study food while preparing for an exam with the coincidental same name. Tastay.

-1 1/2 cups of flour
-1 1/2 cups of butter
-1 1/2 cups of sugar
-lots of chocolate frosting
-1 set of Dirichlet conditions
-1 travelling wave front at time t = t0
-1 domain, D

Cream the butter and sugar, and add the flour. Mix until well combined, and spread into the domain D according to Dirichlet conditions, and place a travelling wave front at time t = t0 anywhere within D. Bake at 350 degrees; the heat will distribute according to the heat equation uxx = ut until t = 15 minutes. Remove from oven; the travelling wave front should have maintained its shape and the crust should be golden brown. Spread chocolate frosting everywhere and eat while studying differential equations.

SOCK standings:

1. Ourobolus
755 pts

2. Jbumi
703 pts

3. Flamethrower
539 pts

4. DDX
522 pts

5. MagRowan
490 pts

6. Bainick
386 pts

7. Arros Raikou
377 pts

8. ~Sean~~
349 pts

9. Jeremy
312 pts

10. Xlash
300 pts

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