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(Math Geek)2 December 8, 2005

Ourobolus - 04:10 EST

HELLO, EVERYONE! WELL, this is a great start... plan will unfurl to dethrone Matt from his Q&A position, and then you can all be my subjects!

Oh, hey, Matt. Yes, Matt, we've got some questions! Sorry, I'll get back to work! No, put the whip away, I don't need...OW! Hey! C'mon, this wasn't part of the...OW! OW! Ok, I'll stop wasting time!!!

Well, I'm a senior at Penn State, stupidly majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. So, luckily, I'm able to ignore my impending exams for just long enough to answer some of you guys' questions. Let's get started!!

And then there were three!?

Heyo Person who holds this account.


Well, I don't necessarily...but soon...very soon...

I need to ask a few things about...Romancing SaGa.

Now, it hasn't been lined up for a European release as of yet. And since i dont have my sticky hands over the glossy PS2 cover i thought i should hold my head high and ask a actual american.

1.) Is it worth it at all? I know the music is good, but i ask about the game! Teh GAME!!


Well, depends on what your definition of fun is. The thing with the SaGa games is that you either love them or you hate them. With a passion, I might add. I personally enjoy them immensely, mainly because it's been so long since games have challenged me so much. This isn't one of those games where you can just pick it up and destroy the final boss in a single blow (I'm looking at you, FFX).

If you enjoy a battle system that is challenging, but has a system of levelling up based on some inexplicable formulae devised by monkeys confined to an electroshock therapy facility, then this is the game for you.

The music is quite good, I agree. The plot is somewhat lackluster, but I've never really found many of the SaGa games to be incredible in that area. But hey, the nice thing about the SaGa games is that they tend to drop in price quickly, due to the lack of interest in this part of the world. Seriously, it's like $20 at EB.

2.) D'ya think we peoples of the north deserve to even play this game?



Equal Opportunity Advocate



Huh? I mean, um...not no. That's really up to Square-Enix, though. Since the videogame world is divided into three locales (North America, Europe, Asia), they all tend to have diverse interests in games. I mean, honestly, the Japanese seem to love the SaGa games, but Americans for the most part couldn't care less. I'm amazed S-E still ports them over here.

3.) How much of it has been changed?


From the Japanese version? Not much, I hear, if any.

4.) Are you really the head of the Kwik-E-Mart?

Dankee and please write back soon,

[I'm a Cancer myself.]


Only on Tuesdays. The other times, I'm usually seen huddled in a corner, grasping my Classical Analysis and Numerical Analysis books in a vain attempt to actually learn something.

Hit or Miss? Miss my hat? Muss my what!?

Dear Matt,

Ok. I've heard alot of people complain about the Final Fantasy XII demo, And id seems as I'm going to come out as the minority, I actually really really enjoyed the demo and am super excited for the american release on Aug 1st, 2006 (Tenative release date, of course.)

Though I am not alone, Everyone that I have talked to on this side (Brother, Cousin, many friends) has expressed the same sentement. I just wanted you to know that at least someone liked the demo and isn't worried about it at the least.Maybe I should take a second to explain where I'm coming from, Hmm?


Feel free to go right ahead! I really don't think that you're in the minority though; a great many people are extremely excited about this game based on the demo.

I don't know if I'm a minority or if I'm part of a larger number that is unseen in this little slice of niceness we call Q&A that remains unheard. But Turn-based games are kind of archaic. Old-school. And while I still like them, I feel like I could put my time playing a battle to better use. Games like Star Ocean, Tales of ...(insert name here)..., Radiata Stories are great fun for me. The fact that you actually don't have to control what the whole party is doing at any given moment is nice for me. Micromanagment gets annoying at times. The new Final Fantasy is nice for me because it gives me the freedom to manage when I see fit and let the characters do what they do when I feel like they are doing a good job. The Wait system on FFXII in particular feels like a new way to do turn-based


All right. It's interesting you mention that, because I'd say that Star Ocean, Tales of ____, and Radiata Stories are THE three divisive series of recent history. Some people love them, and some people hate them, with very little in-between, and that's the way life is, I guess. I'm personally a micromanagement-lover, but that's only because if something goes wrong, then I know that I only have myself to blame, and not some potentially suspicious automatic replacement, whatever the context may be. Prime example: Do you KNOW how much extra time I took in Chrono Cross to allocate spells? After using the Auto-Allocate option once or twice, I just couldn't STAND to use it anymore, and I ended up being compelled to spend a ridiculous number of hours placing spells into specific slots to avoid the automatic version. I think that that, by the way, is one of the many reasons I ended up not enjoying the game all that much in the end, though it could have been Pierre's constant "Ah la la-ing".

Now this is not at all to say that I don't like Turn-based games. I have 4 (5?) turn-based games that I'm working on right now (Dragon Quest VIII [I'll talk on this one more later], Wild ARMs: Alter Code F, Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion, And I'm still winding my way to the end of Xenosaga II and Suikoden Tactics [Do these cound as turn-based?] ). Not to mention all the others that I'm playing via ROMs (I have one save on every DQ game that has come out and the ones that haven't, Via fan translation, All except VII) and the like. So turn-based doesn't bother in the least bit. Just sometimes I want something that's a little more actiony but with all the elements of the RPG games that I so adore.

Like I said. I'm more then likely the minority and I will accept my place as such. But I just thought you should know that not everyone hates the way FFXII is shaping up.


Understandable, for sure. I occasionally feel the urge to play something a little more action-oriented myself, which is why I went out and bought Star Ocean. I just hate it, though, when one of my favourite series is transformed entirely into something it's never been. I personally feel a little worried about being "swindled" by Square Enix. After promising us that Final Fantasy XII would be not-online, it seems like a bit of a low blow to make the battle system FEEL onlineish anyway.

Now Dragon Quest VIII... That's a gem of a game. It feels incredibly like a DQ game. All the mechanics and what not are almost exactly the same. And I love it for that. I'm glad that I was able to experence that and the demo in the same package. Anyhow. Enough rambling from me. On to the Q for your A.


In fact, I've said this to a few people: Dragon Quest VIII is incredibly clever, because in SOME ways, I find that the game feels even MORE old-school and true-to-its-roots than other "recent" titles in the series. It's something about the dungeon exploring, the music, or something else non-descript. I'm not sure, but whatever it is works wonders!

I have a couple. One - What RPG(s) that are not turn-based (Strategy RPG don't count, Since in essence they are turn-based.) do you like?

And one that is completely off subject - Do you like Aeon Flux at all? I'm going to see the movie tomorrow (friday, But by the time you read this, it will be a few days ago.). So I am curious if you like it or not. I think it'd actually a pretty snazzy sci-fi action RPG.

Anyhow, That's all for me. Thanks for listen to my little ranty rant. Have a good one



I actually quite enjoyed Star Ocean: The Second Story, because the game didn't seem to pit itself against me at every possible moment. The battle system was slightly less button-mashy than Till the End of Time, and the storyline was executed with much more grace, in my humble opinion. Also, Secret of Mana remains one of my all-time favourite games, and Secret of Evermore was fun too. By and large, though, I'm a true, blue, turn-based fan; I must admit.

Also, I've never even heard of the movie, though I haven't really been on top of my cinema as of late. However, I'm not sure you know this or not, but game-versions have been talked about in the past: I found this after a super-quick search, if you're interested (it's pretty old for news): Check this out!

Anyway, thanks for the letter! You've given me much to talk and think about.

Can you master this little gem?

Why the hell didn't anybody tell me about Baten Kaitos?


Sorry. You didn't get the memo?

I'm 30 hours in (no spoilers please :) and I'm really enjoying it. In fact, I'm enjoying it more than Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door and Skies of Arcadia Legends. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, the music is phenomenal. I understand there are some differences that may put people off (the leveling up at save points and money system are different... but I like them!)


Well, I guess the GameCube has to have some decent RPGs somewhere. Maybe I'll have to try this one out at some point.

I saw G4TechTV's Reviews on the Run give it 4.5/10 because they didn't like the card system, which is pretty much what the whole game is based on. Well up their asses, because I love the card system. This is easily one of the best rpg's I've played in a long time :)


I don't really trust G4TechTV so much for reviews, cause they don't really seem to be on the up-and-up. I mean, Morgan Webb is easy on the eyes, but for the most part, I consider that channel a waste of quality programming space.

But, on the other hand, I can see where they're coming from, because I for one am not a fan of card battle systems, and while I haven't given Baten Kaitos a fair shot, my past experiences don't really give me any confidence.


ps-but not as good as chrono trigger


It would take quite the game to beat the likes of Chrono Trigger, agreed.


Dear matt

For the past year and a half I stopped playing console rpgs and turned to competitive games, still rpgs thou.


Thou, thou, thou! Thou, thou, thou! Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

I read your column for a quick news flash, so I donít feel left out of the community and i must say DQ8 has tempted me to go back. But then where will I find people to call "teh noop" from time to time?


Teh noop, huh? I'm unfamiliar with this noop of yours, but if you spell it in reverse, you get "poon", which seems like a really fun non-word. Actually, let's look it up, because come to think of it, I think it actually IS a word:

n 1: wood of any poon tree; used for masts and spars
2: any of several East Indian trees of the genus Calophyllum having shiny leathery leaves and lightweight hard wood

Thar ye go; don't you dare tell me that you don't learn anything in Q&A.

You see in competitive games you get better, it shows. You lose you feel bad, you win it feels 10 times better then it dose on computer controlled foes.


Possibly, but it can also cause massive fights and possible scarring. Never, ever play Super Smash Brothers with two competitive siblings simultaneously if you don't want to see your own blood over the course of the night. I used to piss my brother off by accusing him of "knowing special cheat codes" every time he'd win five games in a row, though it was usually because I was in a frenzied, upset state in the first place.

I cant say i got a question to ask thou, it is more of a "thinking on paper" thing, and that led me to think of another thing. The reason I stopped was morrowind on Xbox, nothing tasted good after it, i just gave up.

thx for reading me out....
-the "al-burtgalh" orange


Don't forget about the RPGs! Also, don't become sour altogether; there are all sorts of interesting games you might want to give a try, and Dragon Quest VIII is just one of many. Good luck rekindling your fire!

Potpourri... Lavender Garden-Scented, at that

Okay, so Final Fantasy 4 is supposed to be coming out in less than a week, but I've yet to hear anything about it. I'm starting to get worried. This is exactly what happened with the Megaman X Collection and that got delayed by two months ~_~


Yeah, I'm still waiting for that too. Maybe they'll ship it with some glasses that don't allow me to see boss names like "Crush Crawfish" or "Toxic Seahorse." >.<

I've read the news you guys had on it and I see it on your list of upcoming games, but it just seems too good to be true. I mean... releasing it before the Japanese game? Doing a re-translation THAT fast? Usually they take forever on these things. And yet I hear nothing about it.


Well, it might have just been me, but back when FFIX came out, I had absolutely NO IDEA that it was coming. I think I might have heard about it in passing, but then I'm wandering around the local PX, and I catch it out of the corner of my eye. I proceed to buy it, and enjoy it, but I'm still fazed by the fact that after FFVIII's hype, there was pretty much nothing concerned with this one.

As for FFIV, a re-translation shouldn't have taken too long. All they're doing is cleaning up the ruggedness a bit (though, like many of you have pointed out, if they replace "You spoony bard!" I'm going to throw a midget strapped with dynamite at someone).

I suppose I'll go check EBGames's or Gamestop's (not that it matters either way, they're both the same store) websites. And if I don't see anything there, I'll just call. But I dunno, feeling weary... I'm really looking forward to this game, but it just seems odd that it's coming out so fast.


Well, everywhere I've looked (including EB) says 12/12, seems like a pretty good estimate. Since that's five days from now, I'd say it's a good guess, since we probably would have heard about a delay by now.

Oh, and I'm wondering if I should get Dragon Quest VIII in the near future or not. I've never played a DQ game before, but this one looks promising... Just don't know if I'd like it. There's virtually no rental stores that I know of on my campus (not that I have time right now), so I can't exactly try it out. I'm mostly an FF fan, but I enjoyed Star Ocean 1, 2, and Tales of Symphonia... so I'm just wondering if DQ VIII is worth playing.


Based on Matt's extreme enthusiasm for the game, I'm gonna go with a wholehearted YES. I plan on getting it either for Christmas or with Christmas money, so I'll have a better understanding then. But, if you like Final Fantasy, chances are you'll like DQ, since they are at least somewhat similar (more so the older versions of FF. You know, the input-team's-commands-at-once battle systems, the simplistic ways of learning skills, etc.


P.S. Was Star Ocean 3 really THAT bad? I'm planning to starting playing it during winter break...


I LIKED SO3. I even got my roommate to play it, and he pretty much hates console RPGs (the only other one I got him to play was FFX). Sure, the story is kinda lame, but the battle system was awesome, and I never encountered this "lame AI' problem that people seem to be having. It's definitely worth at least one playthrough.


Nooooo...!!!! Don't believe him!! Don't!

*snaps fingers* You know, I just realized that I played it on the hardest difficulty level, if I remember correctly. I would hope that goodness/badness of the AI is not determined by this difficulty level...that would be the most worstest idea ever.

At any rate, sorry to interject.

Oh... you're finished anyway. Nyah nyah, too bad!
*Matt once again gets the last word in!

Exam flunking, Dragon Quest worshipping, and Final Fantasy Twelve questioning


Hopefully that exam went well for you. I really don't have any at all at the end of this semsester, which isn't surprising considering I currently go to a Technical College. Its kind of hard to give final exams in lab classes. Hehe.


True enough, but I'm sure that they come with their own set of annoyances; namely, labs. At Guelph, they often like to schedule lab courses to run as late as 10:00 pm, which is a little bit ridiculous as far as I'm concerned. It's not that it's late at night, necessarily, but does it ever cut into potential prime-time TV watching!

Anyway. I have been playing DQ8 for about two days now, I think I've clocked right around 18 hours. I'm in love with it. Kind of as an answer to one of your letters in yesterday's column, I would have been pretty surprised if the main character *did* have a voice. I guess I'm pretty used to games where the hero doesn't talk aside from chosing "Yes" or "No". ^_~


Yeah, and to anyone who has played Dragon Quest for a long time, this seems immediately true. It's a difficult thing to judge though, because I really don't think that anything could be taken away from the game if a hero-voice was present. I guess it boils down to how much you really care about such things; to me, there are so many other games with silent heroes, and they all work fine, so it feels like a trivial issue to debate in the first place. It is interesting, though, that this brings to mind the fact that Crono really isn't developed much at ALL in Chrono Trigger; while it seems like it should be a major issue for a game with such a great storyline and rich character development otherwise, it really isn't in the end.

Anyway. As for the Final Fantasy XII demo.. I didn't get much of a chance to really play it, because I was having my ear talked off on the phone at the time, but I am going to have to say I love the graphics.. the game looks "pretty". The music is wonderful in the demo at least. The battle system... will take some gettin g used to. I don't like the ATB at all. If they would have done without that, I would have been a happy angel. But overall, I'm still pretty excited about the game. I figure, once I've finished DQ8 in a few weeks, I'll stick the demo back in and see if I can't get used to the new battle system. I was already getting there by the time I finally got off the phone so I could put DQ8 in, but I'm not sure.

What is it about the demo that has you so upset?


I tend to agree that the technical things are done beautifully. Obviously, the FMVs are setting up to be eye-poppingly gorgeous; enough to make even the most discriminating graphics-whores experience wave after wave of orgasmic delight, perhaps. The music was all right, but I still mourn the lack of a battle theme and the destruction of the victory theme. What has made me so upset, though? As I've said over the past couple of columns, the thing that makes me most upset is the transition to an action-RPG/online RPG style. Having to juggle gameplay with worrying about things like the camera and moving your character around takes the focus off of strategy, which isn't even necessary in the first place, judging from the difficulty of the demo (non-existent outside of the awkward controls) and the MP trickle, which is sacrilegious as far as I'm concerned.

While I'm upset, I remain optimistic; surely, there are several issues here that I've touched upon, and many of them are quite bothersome, but judging a game by a demo released months before its completion, to me, is like judging a movie by a trailer you see at the theatre months prior to the real thing. That's why I remain quite hopeful for the future!

Uwahahaha, I get away with not answering this one again! --Matt

what machine do you like the look of, the best - X-box 360, PS3 or Nintendo Revolution ? Also what one would you conisder buying of the three ?

Vampiric Lord

Final fantasy forever !!!


I was wondering if someone would ask this.
As far as aesthetics, I like the way to Nintendo Revolution looks, cause the XBox 360 looks like a diaper with a green light on it, and the PS3...well, I'm just not a fan of the color.

As for the controllers...Urgh. None of them are appealing to me. I think the PSX controller and its Dual Shock incarnation are the most comfortable controllers I've ever used. They're rather annoying for FPS games, but great for everything else. The XBox controller is perfect for FPS games, though.

I'm worried about the Nintendo Revolution controller. It has potential to be incredibly useful, but until I get a working unit to mess around with, I'm gonna reserve judgment.

I'll probably end up getting the PS3, simply because Sony has a long-standing history of outputting quality games in pretty much all genres, especially RPGs. Sure, I'll miss Metroid, Zelda, and Halo, but I can always mooch off of my friends :)


Oh yeah, it's me again! The true host! I hope you didn't enjoy Ouro's little funtime that much; you'll feed his ego to a breaking point whereupon my job will be jeopardized. Why? He's scheming, I tell you... conspiring! If anyone has undermineage on their minds, it's this guy.

In all seriousness, merci beacoup, Ourobolus (pronounce it frenchly!)... it's been an interesting column.


Oh ho ho... it's not over yet, though! You still have to endure yet another co-host granted question, and this'un isn't going to be an easy question either. You want some math? You got it. First things first, though...

Finally, I managed to stump even some of the heavy hitters with this one! In Chrono Trigger, you have to press Y, and then X, when fiddling with the controls on the Epoch, and thus, for 25 points, c) was the right answer.

Also, DDX, you'll be disappointed to learn that your question didn't stump very many people at all! I'd say a good nine-thirteenths of you got it right. No, that's not a precise figure... I got more than thirteen submissions yesterday. Anyway, the question was a rearrangement of a number of words whose letters had been jumbled. The question asked "What would someone who really hates word puzzles be most likely to say?" and so clearly the answer was e) I really hate word puzzles. 40 points?! What a ripoff...who allocates these points anyway?

The new questions will be the first NOT to include a "Follow Me" in quite some time, because I don't have access to Chrono Trigger while I'm here at home!! I'll be back in Guelph for awhile next week, though, so if this is a disturbing phenomenon to you, don't panic: They will be back soon!

Here they are... and observe the ridiculousness of both:

Question #69: Ask Kanato!--> in the Q&A column "Raspberry Heaven", which of the following words appears most often? (55 points)

a) and
b) to
c) but
d) a
e) my

Question #70: Ask Ourobolus!--> With respect to the infinite normed vector space, a family of functions is Compact if it is Closed, Bounded, and which of the following? (35 points)

A. Complete
B. Uniformly Continuous
C. Uniformly Convergent
D. Uniformly Equicontinuous
E. Pointwise Convergent

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

200 points: Tilde (infinite number 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!)

We haven't had much movement among the top ten in the last little while, but that's set to change dramatically, as we have some grumblings from down below. At this rate, positions five through ten are in Jeopardy! Also, I've heard tell that Jbumi, the second-place contestant, will be taking a break from the competition after she co-hosts the column for next Tuesday! What does that mean? More chances are up for grabs for YOU to get in on the fun and join in this Spectacular Ongoing Contest of Knowledge!

Oooh, the auxiliary heat just kicked in. The digital thermometer now reads 3.2 degrees F (-16 Celsius, for those crazy Canadians out there... those...other than myself) making this the coldest night of the winter so far. My hands are really cold, because it's also very cold inside; I'm pretty sure that they forgot to include insulation when we renovated this place a couple of years back.

This isn't my blog, though, so enough with my random ramblings. I sincerely hope that you've enjoyed this week of columns, as well as our great guest hosts, DDX and Ourobolus! It's been really fun, and putting Q&A together has been an awesome pleasure, thanks to all of you readers.

Keep sending your questions in, though! We have another big week coming up as we get closer and closer to Christmas, and some more co-hosting will take place. Send a letter in to me, or Jbumi, or whomever you choose, and have fun reading!

Otherwise, happy weekend, my friends! I'll be back on Monday.
***Matt has goosebumps on his goosebumps

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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.

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