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Grand Beef
October 13, 2006

Bainick - 23:06 EST

OKAY, SO IT'S SNOWING in Canada, good for them! We're going through a 10 year drought nation-wide at the moment, which is even worse due to the fact that Australia is also the driest continent. But we'll just cop it on the chin as per normal, its not like we can change the nature of the planet in 3 heel clicks of our red shoes now is it?

In other more RPG related news, i'm having a blast in Kingdom Hearts 2, especially with some of the sweet new costumes of which I won't give away. Though I'm always getting the "other" costume for some reason, though i'm not complaining, its uber fantastic, whatever that means.

Oh and Suikoden 5's been pushed back yet again to the 20th, which will mean when I finally get it, it will have been pushed back a month since when it was meant to be released. Go figure! Oh well, I'll end my sob story here so you can, well read I guess. Go on read my words and know them to be truth, oh and enjoy my item for today (heh heh), thanks to Matt who helped define it to make it a bit easier on him. I get a little too carried away with myself sometimes....

The bloat begins! Or has it already begun?

Dang, thatís a lot of video games in a short span of time for me...first Harvest Moon DS, then Cooking Mama (Iím going to put that aside for now) followed by possibly Contact and then FFVA, FFIIIDS and Phoenix Wright: JFA. I smell a very large backlog.


Backlog, did someone mention backlog? I don't think you can comprehend the backlog I'm facing at the moment. I have an entire shelf dedicated to this word BACKLOG. Its so enormous I twitch everytime I look at it. Whats that, did someone ask what my backlog looks like? INSERT MATT RESPONSE HERE


You summoned? Oh, um, yes! What DOES your backlog look like, O almighty Bainick?

Okay i'll go through it, but I know i'm going to forget something!

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past, Orcarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Final Fantasy 4,7,9,10, CC, Grandia 1 and 2, Skies of Arcadia, Tales of Phantasia/Symphonia, Phantasy Star Online 1&2, Pokemon Stadium, Fire Emblem: Path of Radience, these from the local video stores; Alundra 1 and 2, Dragon Valor, Megaman Legends. Star Ocean 2 and 3, Suikoden Tactics, Dark Cloud, Dark Cronicles, Baulders Gate 1, 2, and Dark Alliance 2, .hack/(Half way through Mutation), Breath of Fire 5, Dragon Quest 8, Drakengard 2, Xenosaga 2, Legaia 2, Magna Carta, Makai Kingdom, Ys Ark of Napishtum, Wild Arms 3, Lunar Genesis; these are from a friends chipped console; Dragon Warrior 7, ChronoCross, Breath of Fire 3, Wild Arms 1 and 2 and Legend of Dragoon (since my copy is stuffed). I think there's more but I think that's enough for the moment, don't you?


OK. You win. o_O

HMDS I can set aside at any time since itís a fairly open-ended game but it looks like Iíll have to tackle these in order...Do you normally play a lot of games considered open ended (no visible goal in sight, you just play until a certain goal is reached or until you get bored?)


I'm sort of both... I love the Harvest Moon series, as does my mum (still waiting for Magical Melodies though). Actually i've only missed 2 harvest moons, they being the '64 one and the first PS2 one (I have BOTH versions of a Wonderful Life). I'm really bad at staying the path in a RPG. And its usually right before the final boss, I played Morrowind (glitches and or) for about 48 hours the first time but didn't go anywhere near the games main story. I played blitzball in FF 10 for about, 180 hours and left the story at just after the Yunalesca bit, though my blitzers had levels in the 90's befoe the Memery Card fell victom to my brothers unguided foot. 15 goals was my record for a single game too. Back to the qustion ('cause I guess I have too) I just taper out when I get bored. I think its happening In Wild Arms 3 at the moment because i've lost my sandcraft somewhere and the searching isn't getting fruitful. And I really don't want to start again in it!

And now a personal note from our favorite Lunarphobic anthropomorphic mouse: OH NOES ITíS A LUNAR QUESTION!!!!eightyoneisbucketsbowlingaverage

#342 is A and #343 is D...complete guesses both.

Bucket NezuMi


And its still higher then mine. I once got a 150 and a 7 in the one night, sigh.

Checking in.

Hi Matt,

I haven't been able to write in at all lately, as indicated by precipitous fall in SOCK, but I have been able to buy and play rpgs. You might remember how bitterly I was complaining about the large number of must have games coming out at the end of this year. Well, through some creative financing and call in some favors from some *ahem* "Men of Honor", I was able to purchase Disgaea 2, Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria, and Tales of the Abyss all on their respective release dates and will probably be able to get FFXII without any trouble. So, YAY for me!


Oho! It sounds like you've found yourself a connection or two. Good for you. Now the tables have turned: I'M the one who has been bitterly complaining, though more about my own workload than at the number of games slated for release. But you were always a loyal reader; you know full well that this column is merely a tool used for my own ventilation.

About the never-ending SOCK: Don't sweat it! I'm glad to have you back! Questions are probably worth a bit more than you remember 'em, and there are a few other small changes, but you already have a substantial score to build on. Good luck, if you're planning to jump back in!

Anyway, I never played the first Disgaea but, after playing Disgaea 2, am definitely going to give it a try. Disgaea 2 is the most engrossing crack-like game I've played in a long time. For one stretch I played for 8 hours straight from 11:00pm to 7am and only stopped because I had to go to work. I haven't done anything like that since high school. I wasn't even tired; my mind was all worked up on geo-panels and cross species reincarnation schemes, not mention my unbridled joy at corrupting the corrupted senate to the nth degree. Sheer bliss! Incidentally, I only bought the game because you recommended it; so thanx.


You're more than welcome! I love the fact that there are so many ways you can go about playing the game. It's probably not the optimal strategy, but I personally like reincarnating characters into better versions of what they were and then stacking their high stats for maximum-concentration-of-skill. It's really addictive to a number-lover like myself, and you're right: The game IS like crack for those of us who always secretly loved leveling our people up to ridiculous heights. The best part is, you can reach levels 500, 1000, 2000, and still face a considerable challenge!

Valkyrie Profile is another game I missed the boat on the first time through and am kicking myself for now. I was initially turned off by the side-scrolling nature of the game, but somewhere in chapter 2, my love for platform jumping resurfaced. It has a good story with a nicely muted sense of coming dread that I find appealling and one of the most innovative yet intuitive battle systems I've ever encountered. There is a tendency to mash buttons almost randomly to get through the dungeon fights, but you will be punished for this in boss fights which is an element of difficulty alot of rpgs lack. I may have to actually find a way to play VP:Lenneth now.


Find a friend with a PSP if you don't have one! I've heard that the remake is pretty darn good. The original regularly sells for $toomuch on eBay, though, if you wanted it badly enough.

Tales of Symphonia is one of my top five favorite games of all times. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The story was derivative, the plot "twists" were obvious and overly forshadowed, and the two player battles were useless due to the leader-centric camera. But I loved the characters (except Collett), and the battle system (in single-player mode) kept me endlessly entertained. I also loved collecting titles, cooking, and the combination of linear and nonlinear storytelling. Tales of Legendia was a big disappointment for me personally. The characters were hard to relate to, the world was extremely limited, the battle system was horribly easy, and the storytelling was imbalanced and klumsy (whenever you have three unwinnable battles in less than 3 hours, the game is in trouble). Tales of the Abyss returns to the excellence of Symphonia in a big way. I've only played about 3 hours worth and I'm hooked already. So far the battle system is the best part. Tales Studio added an element call "additional skills" that actually evolve the gameplay as you go. Be sure to check it out.


Good! All series have their black sheep, but it's good to hear that TotA might successfully get the series back on its feet. There was also a "Tales of the Tempest" in development for the DS at last check... I wonder how that's coming along? Hopefully they'll deem it worthy of a North American rendition in the end, hmm?

In light of my new burning passion to play Disgaea and VP:L, what games do you most regret not playing when you had the chance at initial release. For me, those two are topping the list right now.


#342: b
#343: b



That's really tough!

I think that like you, Valkyrie Profile has to be somewhere close to the top of my list. I've heard so many great things about it and how creative and original it is. Unfortunately, this only occurred after I took over here a year ago, long after it was ever available.

I think that atop my list, though, must sit Xenogears. I do in fact own it now, but I just haven't had the energy (or the time, frankly) to get through the game. I bought it only after I was completely wowed by the first Xenosaga, but even now, three years later, I haven't progressed past the first couple of areas. I really, really want to see what the game is all about nonetheless, though, one day; I just regret not playing it earlier, back when life used to be, um, easier.

It's great to hear from you again, Cap! Thanks for the letter.

Skies of Arcadia, Final Fantasy V, and uh, a wasteland.

Hi Matt, Let me join the teeming masses who are undoubtedly singing the virtues of Skies of Arcadia to you right now. True, I can't begin to boast the RPG pedigree of some of the posters to this site (although I've been playing RPGs for over 20 years, including pen-and-paper AD&D), but I can say unequivocally that SoA is my favorite RPG ever. (Well, okay: Wasteland. But that's probably nostalgia talking.)


I enjoyed it quite a bit too, though as per usual for me I stopped playing as I neared the final boss (like the last save point beforehand), I think that battle against the other Vyse's team really annoyed me, mostly because I just couldn't beat him. Bah!

Yes, critics will note that SoA's story isn't particularly profound, and I'll accept that. But otherwise, the game is almost perfect. The battle system is awesome; the pacing is great; and you really come to love the characters, even the villains. More than anything, it's just FUN to play -- with a swashbuckling, happy-go-lucky attitude that you just don't find in many RPGs these days. If you get a Wii, I'd *highly* recommend dl'ing Skies of Arcadia Legends.


I won't recommend it as highly as you, but it is my third favourite RPG on the gamecube (behind Paper Mario and Legend Of Zelda: WW and just slightly ahead of Tales of Symphonia)

*******[WARNING: Final Fantasy V SPOILERS]********

As for Final Fantasy V, I think it's every bit as enjoyable to play as -- frankly, overrated -- Final Fantasy IV. And perhaps better than FF IV, based on the nifty class system.


Still havn't beaten Gogo but anywho...

I think the main knock on FFV is that character development basically consists of the main characters' family members dying, over and over and over again. Eventually it just gets comical, which I'm sure was not the intended reaction. I also think FFV also suffers from many RPGamers encountering it simultaneously with FFVI (on the Final Fantasy Anthology set for PSX), where FFV obviously suffers by comparison. But it's a fun enough game, I think. Certainly more fun to play than, say........


Ohh what could it be, Aydin's Chronicles, FF: Chrystal Chronicles, Harvest Fishing???

*******[END Final Fantasy V SPOILERS]********



What??? I was expecting something more known for its pathetic quality, and you made me wait just to read that, for shame, like...

***KH2 SPOILER*** ...the Atlantica section of Kingdom Hearts 2, how did they get those voice actors to repeat such drivel???, No game should have such a bad song section of a game. ***END SPOILER***

Yes, I know this is just asking for abuse, but I honestly fail to see the appeal of this game. Despite my discipline, I can't make myself get through it. Indeed, I'm probably no more than 33% through the game (although I haven't picked it up in over a year). But the pacing is SO slow -- and the battle system SO lousy -- that the very thought of spending another 40+ hours with the game makes me want to run right back to work. Hopefully, you or one of your readers can (in a non-flamatory manner) instruct me as to the hidden pleasures of this game. But in my experience thus far, I've found getting a tattoo to be an all-around more enjoyable experience than playing Xenogears. (Maybe it's just the endorphins.)


Sorry I can't give it any positively glamouring reviews on this game either, mainly because I havn't played it. Actually I've only played Xenosaga 2 which so far as been the only game to be released PAL side of the series, just like so many other RPG's. Maybe Matt can help shed some light on it...


And as you likely read above, I'm not exactly an expert on the subject either!

I will say one thing, though: There are a lot of people who would agree with you, so don't feel like you'll get "abused" by speaking up here. Xenogears represents a very different style of RPGaming that not everyone is able to appreciate. From what I played, too, the battle system and gameplay can lack at times. I can't blame you for feeling the way you do!

Compare and contrast: beating the Sewers beneath Vegas in Wasteland. Hell yeah!



Still don't know what Wasteland is.......*checks a faq*........Still don't know, 'cept EA has the rights to the game.

Quoth the raven, 'Evermore!'

oh my gosh! Secret Secret of Evermore fans! Add my name to the list, kids, 'cause I'm a secret Secret of Evermore fan too. I liked the unabashedly campy sci-fi and the sense of humor it had, and guy-lost-in-an-unfamiliar-reality stories have a special place in my heart. And the combat system was a step up from Secret of Mana; while you could tell SoM was programmed by guys who were used to making games where timing and reflex played less role than tactical planning, SoE was a lot more responsive, had sharper hit detection, and was generally less buggy in battle than its spiritual predecessor. It did have a few balance issues, though. Specifically, I did not appreciate having to relearn all my charge-up skills for every new weapon I acquired, which is not only annoying but unrealistic. How are these techniques transferable between spears? They're spears. Similarly, having to level up every single alchemy formula was extremely annoying, and it was fortunate that SoE generally rewarded muscle over magic.


You're right. Secret of Evermore had its share of issues, but it came through in many other ways! Not only did the areas really tie in together; the alchemy system just went together magically with the rest of the game and the setting, don't you think? I loved searching for ingredients, and I remember how exciting it was when I'd find something new or really rare.

On the other hand, the two-character party got old quickly, the character development of the hero was nearly nonexistent, and as you say, certain elements of the weapon system were pretty annoying.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the game. As a gameworld, Evermore really does have a special and unique flavor to's definitely a lot more creatively-envisioned than most of the anime-influenced sci-fantasy you see out there in RPG's. And the world cohered. Somehow, the elements really fit together in some inarticulable way. In spite of its flaws, I certainly had fun playing it and exploring its virtual realms.


Well, I'm glad to have found a friend! While it is my belief that Secret of Mana is the better game out of the two, it is also my belief that they shouldn't really be compared in the first place, since they're technically unrelated, outside of the borrowed battle/ring-menu systems.

This topic came up once before, almost a year ago now, and a whole lot of "closet" Secret of Evermore lovers stepped up to the plate. I know there are more of us out there!

Thanks for sharing!


I should beat Disgaea 2 this weekend if I get the chance. I've got a bit of marking to do first, though. How unfortunate!

Disturbingly, I had a dream last night that I had spare eyes sealed away under skin-covered pockets in my forehead. I've felt downright ill ever since; every time I've thought of it today, I've touched my forehead reassuringly. My brain KNOWS that I'm terribly squeamish, especially where eyes are concerned. Ugh, why does my subconscious do this to me?


For complete contest rules, click here!

Answers to October 12th's Questions

#344. b) 36 degrees - 800 points
180 degrees, divided by five different angles. It isn't six; the End of Time option isn't marked by a tick on the dial.

#345. e) 6 - 900 points
Yup. Not much more to say about this one. Oh, Earthbound was the game, if you were wondering. Most of you got this right though, surprisingly... I honestly thought this would be a more difficult question than it was in the end. Ah well!

Today's New Questions

Reader-Submitted #346:
Which of the following terms can best be associated with a "Magic Egg" that flies around casting Freeze spells? (820 points)

a) Dusk
b) Sunday
c) New Year's Day
d) October
e) Decade

Bainick's #347:
"T.V. It's fun" is a quote from a SNES RPG; what sort of building is the person who says it in? (750 points)

a) School
b) Hospital
c) Pub
d) Orphanage
e) Residential

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Which in your opinion is a better modern day era RPG threat/villian group, Robots, Demons, or Aliens? Also don't wimp out and say zombies or other people or vampires etc Arros Raikou *needs a main villian group*

Its a good thing I'm no wimp being Australian and all (though I struggled to sit through the Blaire Witch project, actually I probably am a wimp but I still have perfect skin). Anyway i'd say tellitubbies. You never know when they're going to leap out of the T.V. and start sucking out all of your brain matter whilst an evil floating baby head laughs at you maniacally. Oh and seriously something that no one would expect like an actual organized group that get along and have reasonably good henchmen working for them. I'd go on but this was meant to be a quicky so....

This seems, to me, completely uninteresting to the readers so you shouldn't post this.

Regarding the bus, I always move to an empty seat if there is one. I don't find anything bad with that.

Also, as I've said I went to a Neil Gaiman thing and he was reading stuff. I recorded him on my mp3 player and while it's not very high quality, it's pretty cool. I know Josh was interested, so could you tell him to e-mail me his address? In a few days I'll upload the file online (using yousendit or something) and then he'll be able to get a copy for himself. While you're at it, tell him that I thought about getting him a signature but they limited us to two signatures a piece.

Zohar Gilboa

Hah! I have thwarted you and posted it anyway. Sure, it probably isn't that interesting, but I got a kick out of the response, so you'll just have to cope (or scroll down, if you prefer). You wouldn't believe how many other people wrote in with advice. Just watch:

As to your bus etiquette question it's not just a macho thing; around here anyway both men and women will move when there are free seats. I think it's just the sense that one should give other people space when that's an option. I wouldn't stress out about being rude, though. After all it's not like there's a manual-- Bus Etiquette for Dummies. ;)


Incidentally, the proper way to handle sitting next to a gentleman on the bus, is to continue sitting next to him. There's no reason for discomfort; you are not insecure about your sexuality - quite the opposite in fact. Nor should he be. Some people opt for extra elbow room, and that's cool too.

If you take up crocheting baby booties or explore your murse filled with Revlon products, then it may be appropriate for him to move. Otherwise, or unless he cares to sit and chat with you about his own murse or Rip Taylor or some fabulous what-have-you, there is no reason for discomfort!

Hope that helps,
- waterfiend

As for your bus seat dilemma...that's a tough one. I say do whatever your current mental status tells you to do, and don't worry about what your neighbor thinks because who would be able to figure that out anyway? If I were in his position, given what you did, I might think that I had some sort of charisma that was preventing you from moving away from me, and I'd be flattered (LOL), or I might just see you as one of those people who doesn't feel the need to move just because there's an empty seat somewhere else (But I am a girl, and girls do think very differently). If he's a jerk, he might be thinking something more negative, but then if he is, who cares about him anyway, right? On the other hand, if I had been in your position, it would depend on my mood that day, whether or not I was feeling claustrophobic, what kind of vibe he gave me, and whether or not he was hot.
Anyway, my point is that you can give yourself a headache trying to analyze these things to figure out what society wants us to do, so just do what YOU do.


Hey Matt!

Personally I don't see a problem with sitting next to a guy even if you could later take another one. It would be a little weird to sit down near him, if the rest of the bus is empty. And you are right, changing seats afterwards could probably deliver a wrong message.

I would just stay where I am, and if he feels uneasy with that, he can always tell you.
But then again if you don't like it, just change seats, it's your right after all.

Phew, I hope I didn't sound too confusing or silly.

Have a nice weekend,


In the end, I guess I still don't really know what to do. Maybe I'll base my decision solely on the guy-in-question's smell after all. ^_^


That's all I've got to share for this week! I'll return next Tuesday as always, but you get to spend some time with Ouro until then. I'm sure he'd love to hear from all of you lucky buckos who managed to get your paws on a Gamestop or EB Games pre-order for the PS3 or Wii. Were you one of the people to wait for hours before opening time in the hopes of being first? Write in and tell us about it!

Thanks so much for another great week, and thanks to Bainick, who did a fine job cohosting as always. Have a great weekend, everybody!

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Inbox Status: Wow. Awesome!
Matt doesn't like the idea of spare eyeballs one little bit.

Yeah, those ribs? I think that they might have been the true cause of some of today's ill. Owwie. I like spicy, but perhaps not quite to that level...

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