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Possessed Three-Headed Angel Cookie December 22, 2005

Matt Demers - 04:17 EST

WELCOME, WELCOME, TO THE LAST edition of Q&A from me for the week, and the last edition of Q&A from me before my family's Christmas celebration of 2005. Sorry my columns have been shorter than usual this week, and there are a lot of questions I haven't answered, but it's an awkward time of year, and dealing with dial-up is never a pleasant thing. Things will be back up-to-snuff in a few weeks, I promise!

Today marked the umpteenth annual Demers family sugar-cookie decorating day, featuring dozens of cookies (and dozens too many) baked by my very own mother. The fun twist, though, is that over the years, my brother and I have come to appreciate the design of "crazy psycho cookies", much to the chagrin of my mother. Now, it's pretty divided... the males of the family spend time designing cookies that shock and appall the females of the family. This year's offerings include:

  • From me: A "hunchback" angel made by putting the face on one of the WINGS of the cookies... a frowny face, of course.
  • By Chris: An angel shot by a silver bullet, portrayed by a single silver ball in her solar plexus region, with many red sprinkles staining the white icing below the ball.
  • By Dad: A decidedly male snowman cookie (using the newest in 3-D sprinkle technology) with yellow sprinkles trickling down from certain body parts.
  • Another of mine: A snowman being devoured by an alien--I outlined an insect-alien using long green sparkles devouring the poor snowman's two snowballs from above.

I could go on, but I think you see the picture: This IS a pretty good indication of what my family is actually like. They all say "hi", by the way.

Turn on some holiday music, now, and take a spin through the column! I'd tell you to have some eggnog, but that stuff is just vile.




L E T T E R S
More Save-Loss Horror Stories!


Hiya Matt!

Okay, I have a couple of good 'fiendish stories of gaming woe' to share with you. Ya ready?

Matt

Yes! As soon as I'm back from the bathroom.

*trots away from the computer*

...
...

Ahh, that feels better. Now you can go ahead.

First one happened during one of my many replays of the SNES version of FF VI. I was working my way through the long (long, long, long, long) battle at Narshe against Kefka and his despicable hoard (you know the battle). Well, after 2 hours of effort and no save in site, I finally beat Kefka, and there was much rejoicing. So, I leisurely stroll one of my groups up to the save point, and lo and behold, before I can save, the power blips... Not goes out, not fails, just flickers for the briefest nano-second... And my complete battle was lost. Yes, kiddies, MagRowan had to start all over again from the beginning of the battle. The moral there, save early, and save often!

Matt

Ah, a lesson that has been learned the hard way for a good twenty years, I'm afraid. I don't know anyone who HASN'T lost data due to unfortunate circumstances at some point or another. Just thinking now, I'm always afraid while I'm at the computer that with my long legs and obtrusive feet, I'll accidentally hit the power bar switch. One day, I'm sure it will happen, but one thing is for sure: All this talk about file loss has got me saving as I type about three times more frequently than usual.

The second tale of woe occurred with FFVII PC version. Yes, like you, I had no original PlayStation. In fact, the only reason I have a PS2 is cause I took an additional TAing job at college and treated myself to one for Christmas. But I digress... Anyway, I loaded it onto my laptop (student's best friend) and fired that bad boy up. I got through the intro part, played up until one of the soldiers asked the damnable question of my name and up popped the naming screen. There's one problem with the PC version though. On the name screen, suddenly only the Num keypad's Enter button is active, not both the keyboard and the num pad's. And guess what a laptop typically doesn't have? A num keypad, that's right, folks. So I was stranded on the naming screen, no way to name the character, and no way to move on in the story until I named said character.

Matt

Ugh, Final Fantasy VII PC was a disgrace to the series only to be outdone by its PC sequel, which was simply horrible, to be generous.

But wait... it gets better! I emailed Eidos asking for a solution, cause dang it, I wanted to play! They emailed me back a form letter stating that they were sorry, all laptops are different, they can't account for it, sucks to be you. Basically, they couldn't and/or wouldn't help me, they had no patch for my needs, go find a PC you college yokel.

Matt

Yep yep... sounds like Eidos! A billion possible errors, and cheapo tech-support solutions to correct about a third of them half-assedly.

But wait... there's more! My mom, bless her, found a patch on the Eidos site. Get this, it was cleverly hidden in with two, count 'em two, sound patches for the game! If you read the fine print of the patch on the site, it said to some effect, this is the patch for the Enter key problem with laptop computers. So, in the end I learned Eidos doesn't know it's own site or patches, and if you want something done, go ask your mom!

So, those are my two greatest tales of video game woe, though there are a few instances of losing NES save data to the dreaded hold in both Reset and Power to turn off...

Matt

That's a skill that I slowly developed over time, but the games were always a bit vague as to what exactly "hold in the RESET button" meant. My sister and grandma used to always push both in at the same time, and release them together. I, on the other hand, would push IN the reset button, hold it there while pressing power normally, and then release the reset button. Thankfully, I never lost a thing, though once, my dad randomly just pushed the power off while I was playing Dragon Warrior III just because I hadn't done some chore. Needless to say, I was NOT impressed. Neither was Queen Brahne.

On a lighter note, I'm thinking of picking up Skies of Arcadia (GC version) post-holiday season, any thoughts?

Merry Holidays and Happy Christmas!
MagRowan

Matt

Good choice! Considering the large ratio of people that liked the game to people that hated it, you're probably going to be in for a treat. As far as I know, that ratio is equal to approximately infinity, because I've never heard anyone say "I hate that game" with reference to Skies of Arcadia, so if that's any indication... yeah. Good good. Let me know how it goes.

Merry Holidays to you too!!



Not enough Kingdom Hearts Sunshine!


Hey Matt,

I was curious about what you think of Kingdom Hearts and the upcoming sequel. DQVIII get a lot of screen-time in your mailbag, but I know there are a lot of people (myself included) excited about the next Kingdom Hearts

Matt

You're absolutely right: Dragon Quest VIII has been taking up a lot of space in Q&A these days, but that's only because a good 50% of my mail is composed of letters that concern the game at least partially. I don't know if that's any indication as to how many people are playing the game right now, but it certainly is a popular topic. I expect that next year, we'll go through similar periods of time with Kingdom Hearts II, Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Final Fantasy XII!

I'm not the biggest fan of the original Kingdom Hearts, to answer your question, for a variety of reasons. The Disney/Final Fantasy blend seems just a bit too gimmicky to me, but beyond that, the battle system seemed ridiculously repetitive and really shallow. I'm hoping for some healthy changes in the sequel, but we'll see as its release gets closer how likely such changes might be! There ARE a lot of people excited about Kingdom Hearts II. Don't fret, though; your turn will come soon! Enjoy the anticipation while it lasts...



Lufia vs. Lunar, and video game manuals vs. Québec


Hey Matt,

I'm going to have to agree with you on that one! Lunar and Lufia are very similar in ways, including having an almost "cult" following. And both franchises kinda want downhill after the original two. Lufia is a series I feel never really got the street cred it deserved, despite being challenging, having great characters, and a fun-yet-no-frills battle system. Lufia II was an improvement over the first, and the ancient cave a was fun and difficult pastime. Both stories were a little light, but the character development was right up there.

Matt

I know... every single time I talk about Lufia, I have a deep stirring inside that urges me to go back and play the games. If only humans didn't require sleep... *curses*

As far as Lunar goes, I can't say that I thought the story was weak, however. Aside from having good, meaningful dialogue, some of the plot twists and story arcs were downright sinister. And where the original (Saturn) version came out a ways before the PSX versions (with a Sega CD release in between no less) I think it would be safe to say Lunar spawned more clichés than fell victim too.. It was the dialogue (voice acting included) that really got me hooked on Lunar. Ghaleon, still my favourite villain, was just downright evil. None of this puffy "I plan to destroy the world, yet I haven't really -done- anything yet" villainy either. This guy was stirring s&%$ up from square one, and he wasn't wasting time either. Murdering people, destroying continents, enslaving races. The whole shebang.

Matt

I've heard much about this Ghaleon character. I'd do well to take some lessons, for whenever I'm feeling especially sinister... nothing can stop a Wonderslime when it wants something.

I think I might make Lunar-playing a New Year's Resolution of mine. Like most people, I rarely keep them, but it's worth a shot. I just really wish I hadn't missed the original Lunars when they first came out... it's so much more work to track them down now.

As far as Final Fantasy Cid's go, I definitely think of FFIV's Cid when I think of "Cid". My runner up is FFVII, because even though he lacked a puffy beard and specs, he had that no-nonsense, badass pilot attitude. And he cursed. A lot.

Matt

Indeed! The two characters were remarkably similar, though FFIV's Cid was quite more...pinkish-orange? FFVII's Cid wasn't quite as acrobatic either-- I didn't see him leaping out of airships and exploding himself like a crazy suicide-bomber only to survive, after all.

A question for you: I know a few years ago, games used to come out in Canada a little later than the US because there was a big kafuffle about manuals appearing "en francais" in addition to English. Is this still the case? I haven't really bought/rented any games in recent pass (roommates) so I'm not sure. That, and I live in an anglo town in Canada so I'm sure they just throw away the franco manuals anyway, as the games my roomies rent come with only English books!

Keep rockin! You got me back on Q&A,

ndhl

Matt

Thank you muchly! It's my pleasure to converse back and forth with all of you, and it's a great outlet into which I can vent most of my video-game related excitement and frustration.

Anyway, I know exactly what you're talking about. Those little French-language manual versions, with the red "Français" triangle on the corners of the cover, can sometimes overstuff packaging, as I'm sure you know. Interestingly, I've discovered many occasions where the french version has been cheaply printed in black and white, evidently to save money. Now, I come from a very French family, so I can say this comfortably: French manuals don't make much sense to me, especially if the game they're FOR is an RPG that's in English. Clearly, most French-speaking people wouldn't buy an ENGLISH game with lots of reading/voices unless they had a decent understanding of the English language in the first place. *sigh*

Back on topic, though, if games in Canada were delayed for this in the past, I'm not sure if they are any more. I'd guess that special manuals must be printed beforehand sometime, because I've bought two different games in recent times on their release dates (and indeed, before they were available for many of my American friends). Or, it could be true for some games but not others. I'm not really sure! It'd be a stupid reason to have a must-have game delayed by a week, though, après moi.



Great Expectations


Hi Matt.

I'd just thought I'd email to say that, even though Breath of Fire 3 and Tales of Eternia for the PSP haven't been announced for the US, they have got a European release date. So if worst comes to worst, the person who wrote in to complain about this would just have to import the games from the UK or something. As a UK gamer myself, I have to say it's kind of nice for it to be this way round for a change :p

Matt

Aren't there, y'know, format difficulties with cross-ocean importation? PAL stuff isn't really a "pal", in the friendly sense, to we, the people of North America. Or, does the PSP not work that way? *shrug*

I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually hear more about it in this region eventually; not creating a North American version would seem to be a curious oversight, in my opinion, especially for series that have found a fair amount of success here.

Terrible lost save files? Too many stories to tell really. Levelling up for ten hours straight in Final Fantasy VII only to have the power cut out before I could save, having to start Wild ARMs three times because a dodgy memory card kept eating my saves and suddenly not being able to save at all in Wind Waker after exploring for a couple of hours have been three of the worst for me. Very annoying to have all that time and effort go down the drain. Although I do save more regularly these days, at least I've learnt something from this.

Matt

That's terrible! I'm a paranoid person about that sort of thing, and I think I have some sort of psychological disorder as far as saving in RPGs is concerned; I kid you not. It's so bad that I've had friends and past roommates make nasty comments about it: Things like "No wonder you have fifty hours of playtime on the clock! You've spent ten of them saving to the memory card!"

Maybe I got burned really terribly in my youth beyond the stories I've described in past days. Anything too monumental though? Perhaps I blocked it out because it was just too horrible...

My definitive Cid? Has to be the one from Final Fantasy VII. He was crass and somewhat bad tempered at times, but he was a great character and very useful to have in your party. I did, however, like the one in FFIV as well. My least favourite was the one in IX. He was just so..dull..and unfunny.

Matt

Agreed. He could have been a lot more comedic, given his situation, but it didn't really turn out that way, unfortunately.

Talking about Cids... perhaps it's a memory lapse I'm having right now, but I can't recall if there was a Cid at ALL in Final Fantasy X! I know it's been awhile, but it's no excuse; this is knowledge I should have stored safely in my mind. Please tell me I'm nuts! This is troublesome.

Here's a question for you and the other readers of the Q and A. I'm really looking forward to Kingdom Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy XII, and I enjoy seeing the magazine scans and propaganda for them as the games get developed. However, I'm also worried that I'm being too eager for these games, and am going to expect too much from them. Hence I won't enjoy them as much as I would a game I haven't been waiting what seems like forever for. Do you ever feel like that about some games? Or am I just being rather weird?

-Flame Foxfyre

Matt

No way... of course it's scary to build up your hopes, because you're right: They can easily get shot down, and quickly. I held similar hopes for Dragon Quest VIII, and I talked about it ALL the time before it was released, and it made me scared too. What on earth would I do if it wasn't as good as I built it up to be? In this case, it DID end up being as good, so this is proof that the expectations are sometimes worth it. The anticipation, though, is part of the fun, and it's no fun to NOT hope for the best. Of course, I'm a notorious optimist in most aspects of life, so many of you are probably thinking the opposite. I figure... what difference does it make? The way you think about a game before its release isn't going to change its ultimate quality, so there's no point in worrying it, OR worrying about being too optimistic about it, is there? I dunno... I need sugar.



It's so hard to decid...


Matt,

In Tucker Carlson's book he describes his first meeting with James Carville. It was at a lunch with some suits from CNN and those suits were laying out what was acceptible to say on air. Carville gets drunk and tells them he's going to say whatever he wants and he doesn't want this job anyway. He says it more colorfully than would pass the RPGamer censors. That's how I think of FFIV and FFVII's Cids. Though because the latter smokes in a game marketed to children, he gets my nod for blatantly going against political correctness. And for panache.

Matt

Very nicely put, monsieur. I should *$@#%ing well reward you somehow, but I'm a little low on funds, what with the $*^@!ing Christmas shopping.

Honorable Mention: Cid from FFVI had that whole Smokey-the-Bear mascot thing going for him, but for condums instead of careful forestry.

Matt

Yoiks! I think that his 16-bit big yellow coat hid his age really well; I didn't really realize he was in "grandpa" territory until Celes actually used the term for the first time. In this grandpa state, though, he might need to pop a pill prior to any prophylactic presentation he might want to put on...he didn't seem especially spry, that's for sure.

Honorable Mention2: To Cid Orlandu in FFT, for being more unbalancing than anything that can be done with a gameshark.

Drinkslinger

Matt

Ughh... what a horrid cheapo. He singlehandedly took one of the greatest challenging games in Playstation history and drove it into the kids-only section of Disneyland. Cheapo characters should all DIE, so needless to say, that would not be one of my favourite Cids. ^_^





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I've voiced on several occasions the HATRED I feel for all things wintry. Well, one thing that I have to admit that I like is a White Christmas, as clichéd as such a thing may be. I'm quite annoyed at something right now, though: For the first time in MANY years, there has been a great deal of snow on the ground for the entire month of December. There have been years in the past where we didn't get a flake of snow right up until this time of year. Anyway, after suffering through this frigid month o' despair, it looks like we won't even get treated with a White Christmas, because it's supposed to randomly warm up and rain JUST in time for the holiday. What poo is this?

That's all I have to say! Enjoy your holidays! For those of you who celebrate Christmas, have a safe and happy one. I'll be back sometime next week to answer some more of your questions, and fill you in on any new RPGs I happen to receive Sunday morning (hopefully at least one or two!)

Bye guys!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt wraps a mean present.


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I am running out of time to get past Dragon Quest VIII!!! Must...play...more...

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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Dragon Quest VIII

2. Makai Kingdom

3. Warioware: Twisted!

Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Mario & Luigi: PiT

3. Wild ARMs: Alter Code F

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3. Jbumi
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