Matt - 23:04 EST
IT FEELS LIKE IT HAS been longer than the usual three days
between my Friday and Tuesday columns, for some reason. Maybe time really is stretching for me a little bit
in order to accommodate my impossible goals for this week; it's hard to say. With new scholarship applications to
worry about, hour-long presentations next week to prepare for, papers to mark, and tutoring to do, I have more than my enough on my plate! Add to that the fact that my cousin is getting married this weekend, and thus my presence on the home front is required, and things get even more interesting. How do I get everything done?
Easy! I play Fire Emblem. And Xenosaga. Or, at least, I think about playing them. It's teaseful. Haunting. Mean!
I can't wait for the Christmas holidays to get here, so that I can get caught up. Things are just too frantic these days for my tastes.
Between marking papers and doing research over the weekend, though, I did manage to play what is becoming an increasingly enjoyable Episode III of Xenosaga. I got in a little bit of Disgaea 2, too, and opened up a specialspecial that made the game doubly awesome, all in a moment. Wow!
Anyway, big things happened in SOCK today. I think that the beginning of the end may be near. But never fear, for if the competition must ever bid farewell, it will return one day, reincarnated, if I have anything to say about it. Plus, I'll give you lots of notice if I decide that it must come to a close, so don't lose sleep over it.
Okay, I've babbled on for far too long, so let's get to a few letters!
Wii preorders, AnticipatiGames, and awesome soundtracks.
Color me lucky! I was one of 13 people to have a Wii reserved at a neaby GameStop! Okay so maybe there wasn't a huge amount of people there and maybe only five people who came before the store opened didn't get one, but I'm still pretty much guaranteed a Wii at launch!
Good for you! You are very lucky, because from what I've heard, some Gamestops and EBGameses got as few as four. Congratulations. How early did you have to get there?
In more RPG-related news, I put down a reserve on Children of Mana. I'm not really sure why either. I still haven't bought any DS RPGs and quite a few are coming out that I'm interested in (Contact, FFIIIDS, Magical Star Sign, etc.) but I was in Gamestop buying Mario & Luigi: Super Star Saga for my friends birthday and I though "why not?" Ah well, that only one other RPG to play aside from Baten Kaitos. I don't have much of a backlog since I usually buy one game and play it through 'til the end. There's also just something about the Seiken Densetsu series I can't help but love. Sure I only played Sword of Mana perviously, but that doesn't stop me from admiring the series and wanting t o play the other games.
I really do think that you'll like Children of Mana if you liked Sword of Mana. I thought, personally, that Sword of Mana was the worst Mana games I've ever played, even if it was "pretty good". I enjoyed the demo level that I played at E3, and I have the feeling that you'll write back in a few weeks telling me all about how great it is. I could, of course, be wrong.
Speaking of Baten Kaitos, there's a game I took a long time to finally break down and buy. Even though I was impressed by the trailer, I'm a bit wary of card-based battle systems. Even after the game came out I kept hearing mixed opinions on it. For every person that loved it another hated it's guts. After beating Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance though, I found the game used for pretty cheap and thought "what the heck, I'll get it". Luckily I got into the battle system pretty easily and grew to like it. I love the music and and so far enjoying the story and characters. Although it was true what they said about the voices, but I can overlook it for the most part.
Indeed. After all, I think we've all played games where the voice acting has been... well... less than stellar, hmm? If other aspects of a game are all enjoyable, it can be easy to overlook a shortcoming. Maybe the sequel marks an improvement in that department, too.
That actually leads me to my first question. Have you ever avoided a game because you kept hearing equally good and bad things about it, only to actually try it and enjoy it?
Definitely. When my brother first got Pokémon, I was really unsure of what to think of it. I was put off by the attitude that it was just for runny-nosed sticky-handed kids out there, which was pretty rampant on the web. Nintendo Power painted it as a fun game though (what games don't they push, however poor they might be?) and Chris really enjoyed it. I finally gave it a shot, and found myself loving the game too. I've been trying to open people's eyes ever since then. Indeed, Pokémon Diamond/Pearl is one of my biggest anticipatiGames of 2007.
I'm feeling kind of random so I'll ask something else: You collect RPG soundtracks, right? If so care to list them, and which ones are you particularly fond of? Mine is rather small at the moment, consisting of Tales of Symphonia: Memories of Slyvarant and Tethe'alla , Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles OST, Phantasy Star Online Songs of Ragol Odyssey, and Paper Mario. Out of all those, I do not hesitate to say that FFCC is my most favorite. Granted the game isn't the best out there (though I thought it was pretty decent), I absolutely LOVE the music. I haven't been able to stop listening to the tracks for months.
Oh, if Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles had one thing, it was an absolutely phenomenal soundtrack. It helped to paint such a wonderfully unique world. It's just unfortunate that you needed about $700 of equipment and a lot of proximate RPGaming friends to fully enjoy that world.
My favourite soundtracks come from a wide variety of different games. I've always, always loved the Dragon Quest Symphonic Suites, partly because I love the games, and partly because the music is awesome. My favourite soundtrack, however, probably comes from Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. There are so many high-quality themes in that game, I just can't not love it, if that makes any sense. Interestingly, I'm also a huge fan of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door's background music; I was surprised at how fantastic it was. I thought I'd bring it up, since you mentioned that you liked Paper Mario music, too.
One thing I've noticed though. While I have few RPG soundtracks, I have amassed several anime OSTs. Most of these anime CDs are domestically released and were bought at a nearby Suncoast. My RPG OSTs on the other hand had to be bought from online stores Like AnimeNation and Anime Castle. Only Paper Mario is the exception, I snagged this one as a free gift for renewing my subscription to Nintendo Power. Why do you think that few RPG (or video game soundtracks in general ) are released domestically? Even domestic anime CDs are more common and RPGs are more "mainstream" than anime.
Well, that's all I have to say. A few random topics and such, hopefully you don't mind. ^^ Thanks again for reading, Matt!
Clearly, there are far, far fewer RPG fans here than there are in Japan. I don't know about you, but I haven't gotten to the point where I'm comfortable enough to say "Oh, VIDEO GAME music is my favourite musical genre" when I'm at friendly social gatherings and such. Western society doesn't really regard video game music as having a valid place in the music industry yet, which is unfortunate.
Thus, we shall continue to import, import, import... or download, download, download, such as the case may be. Won't we? Thank you for writing, Strawberry Eggs!
He said what about Xenogears?! Where's my whopping-stick with attached flamethrower!!? I'll shows him what-for!!!
Just kidding. In truth, Xenogears is one of my all time favorites, but if you don't get, you won't get it. I've had literally months worth of conversations regarding this game and no one's mind has ever changed one way or the other. Having said that, for most people the main draw of the game is the truly epic story. It's smart, multi-leveled without being completely confusing, even though some people were likely completely confused by it, and contains a cast of the most compelling characters this side of FFVI. I love the battle system personally, though.
Well, you're just as aware as any of us that Xenogears remains one of the most divisive games of all time. Xenosaga kept up that trend a bit, I guess, with the FMV-haters just all but waging war against the Xenofans, though I think that storm calmed down largely by the time Episode II came out, anyway, though.
As I always say, though, of course, it would be pretty boring if all RPGs that came out were exactly the same. The story-heavy Xenogears wouldn't have been as special if every other game was as fleshed out in that respect, too. Everyone has different tastes, so my point is... well, exactly that, I guess.
As for the battle system, though, I have to admit that I can't really judge it fairly, since I didn't get further than a few hours into the game. Dragon Quest VIII's traditional battle system is one of my favourites of recent history, but the game wasn't exactly enthralling in that regard until you had the chance to play for a little while.
The wheels on the bus go up and down, up and down, up and down...
I agree with those who answered to "just stay put" with the bus
situation. Unless the person sitting next to you is some kind of wacko,
or smells bad, I usually stay put in the kind of situation you were
describing. I usually don't see any reason anyone would move, except
for the kind of thing I just mentioned, and other bus riders generally
know that. I know it's not possible in the situation you were
describing, but if you feel uncomfortable with that, try to get
non-aisle seats as much as possible. Then no one will wonder. Not that
I think you should be worried about that anyway. If you're willing to
be out to a bunch of strangers on a fairly popular public website, I
don't see how the bus is any worse.
Oh, it's true. I guess that the kind of discomfort that I was talking about is more like
the kind of discomfort when... argh... well, okay. You know when you get onto an elevator
with a friend, and you're having a casual conversation AS you get on, but you kind of pipe down awkwardly
because all of a sudden you're in a "private" room with someone you don't really know? I personally
think it's silly when people have that problem, but everyone has been in that situation before. It's a "Do I talk? Do I not talk? Do we talk quietly?" multi-dilemma. Silly humans. Anyway, that's the kind of "uncomfortable" feeling I get on the bus. For the record, I've never thought to myself "AHHH, this dude is gonna think I'm gay if I don't move and beat me up!"
Anyway, I have to say that the outpouring of advice has been truly phenomenal on this subject. I meant it mostly as an interesting anecdote at first, but hey, it's fun to hear what everyone has had to say on the matter!
And Bainick's situation made me wonder: how often do you feel sorry for
those in non-NA countries who are game fans (and NOT in Asia)? Will
anything ever be done to help them, or are they stuck with importing or
For now, yeah. There's no way they're going to get around the fact that many companies are just not going to make some places "market priorities" if there is such a term. From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense: Why invest most of your energy buy selling a game in a place where only a few thousand people might buy it when you could go to North America or Japan and sell twenty or fifty times as much?
In a more personal way, though, it obviously just sucks for RPGamers down under or in Europe, even. I can't even imagine living in South America or Africa, though. You think it'll tough to get your hands on a PS3 here? Boy, I'll tell you. We're the lucky ones!!
Take care, Leaper!
Which Final Fantasy game is your most overrated?
'Il a monté son groupe
Il y a deux ans ŕ peine
Un chocirc; meur en déroute
Le fils de la pharmacienne
Un bassiste de Toulouse
Un batteur looké Harlem
Un mélange de jazz and blues
Version new-wave africaine....'
That has to be one of the most original introductory paragraphs I've ever read in my whole stint as Q&A host. Something about a pharmacist's son watching a group for two years, and a couple of musical dudes (drummer and bass player?) who are doing a some "new wave African" thing. JuMeSyn, you have outdone yourself. I take it these are lyrics from some obscure French pop? It sounds like the kind of thing Québec might produce, though I'm no expert on the matter.
I'll have you know that I have yet to figure out exactly what these lyrics
mean, but I really like them. Anybody who can figure out the origin of
these lyrics - bully for you! I picked up my liking for this artist from a
friend born in Romania!
Indeed. Unique. Truly.
Anyway... to make you feel a little better about the weather you're
experiencing lately, Matt, along with anyone else in the northeastern part
of the North American continent, I'm going to relate a little bit about the
typical Russian winter -which makes Canadian winters look mild!
Russian summer tends to fade by late September, and right around then the
autumn rains begin. This is known as the rasputitsa, which can be better or
worse depending upon how severe the rains are. But Russia is HUGE, and I
think there are still significant stretches of the country without much in
the way of paved roads. The rasputitsa turns everything unpaved into mud.
It lasts for about a month, then the first frost comes in to solidify the
ground again. The first frost is followed by more frost, then the
snowstorms come. They last until early April usually, and when the weather
warms up a bit all the snow melts - causing the SECOND rasputitsa, which is
always unpleasant because there is always a lot of snow to melt. The
Russians actually have vehicles that are akin to boats they use during the
rasputitsa, because boats move better than anything else in a morass of mud.
I see. Yes, it's a bit silly to compare "Russian Winters" to "Canadian Winters", because you're comparing the two largest countries, geographically, in the entire world. Winters in southwestern Ontario are nothing, nothing, NOTHING like winters in the plains, from what I hear, and I can't imagine what life is like way up above the Arctic Circle, but they get "warm" (MAYBE 15 degrees C/60 F) for about one month out of every year. I've heard that milk is expensive, and I'll bet RPGs are hard to come by.
Want another Albert Odyssey soundtrack sample? Of course you do!
http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/1012/48 This is a piece from later in
the game, in a manufacturing town.
It's so... disgustingly peaceful at the beginning, and it smells curiously of Dragon Quest. Once the main theme actually starts up, though, it sounds less like Dragon Quest and a lot more unique. Cute.
Now then Matt. Looking back at the PS2 launch, quality PS1 titles kept
coming out for about a year and a half afterwards. Not much on the PS1 came
out after the spring of 2002, except for cruddy junk titles that only money
wasters buy. How long do you think the PS2 will remain a viable platform
for new games? Will mid-2008 be the end of hope for those who want new
titles on the system?
Ah, but you forget! That cunning Square Enix, releasing Final Fantasy Origins in- what was it, 2003? I had a lot of fun with that remake. To be honest with you, I really didn't pay much attention to many releases outside of the RPG world as far as the PS1 was concerned.
I really think that the PS2 would have a ton of life in it if it weren't to be superseded by its younger and more expensive brother. It's an extremely popular system, and aren't the graphics "good enough"? I feel like there's little need to push the envelope here, since so many great-quality games have been produced only very recently (or are still in development!) In the end, I don't know. I think, though, that the majority of PS2 titles that will come out have now been announced, at least. We'll probably see the last of them sometime in 2008, sadly. That would, however, give the PS2 a total lifespan of nearly eight years, which isn't too bad. Can you believe it will have been eight years since the PS2's release by then? Augh, I'm old.
Have another Panzer Dragoon Saga musical link!
http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/570/49 What is this dealing with? Well,
I can't tell you too much about the Seekers unless I spoil a fair amount of
the game. Just know that this is another segment of on-foot action.
Well, I have to say that it sounds distinctly like the other PDS links you've sent in past weeks! It has that exotic, almost eastern "twinge" to it, that to me, makes it interesting and quite likable.
Oh dearie. EGM's reviews are not infallible, but the point raised by all
three reviewers in relation to Magical Starsign seems all-too valid to me.
Using the stylus for menu operations without the option of pressing a button
instead seems needlessly laborious to me. What say you?
I'm definitely big on the touch screen; my fears have been long-banished since I haven't really played a game that I haven't enjoyed the touch feature yet. So, the idea of a touch menu actually seems attractive to me. After all, doesn't it seem like it would be quicker to just touch options than to scroll to the one you want using the Directional Pad and hitting "A"? The latter sounds like it would take more work, even if it's the more familiar approach to menu systems.
Since I'm ranting about EGM for a bit, why not inquire of you regarding a
question debated in the newest issue: which FF is the most overrated?
As I've only played through 5 of the games, I can only comment upon this
issue tentatively. Having stated that caveat, FFI was probably the least
fulfilling to me, although a long way from bad in any sense. And since I
only played it through on GBA it is entirely possible for the original or
the PS1 version to be better.
In my eyes, Final Fantasy X has to be the most overrated main-series Final Fantasy game out there. I know I risk some debate by stating this, but I really feel that this is the case. I thought that the story was boring compared to other FF games, the game was really, really overly linear for a Final Fantasy game, and too many other annoyances reared their head. Yuna gets to summon the most ridiculously overpowered summons of all time free of charge? The final boss only has twice as much HP as some of the normal monsters in the last area?! Et cetera.
The game was also overrated because at the time, there were so few good RPGs out for Sony's new system that Final Fantasy X was a huge breath of fresh air. I'll agree with that. But just because Polaris is brilliant compared to the stars around it doesn't mean that it's the brightest star in the whole sky. That would be a good analogy to any telescope-loving geeks out there, I suppose. When the first reviews were published for it, I raised my eyebrow, because so many websites and magazines gave it perfect scores it made me want to barf. It's the way of Final Fantasy though, and I'm sure that Final Fantasy XII will also be put on a grand pedestal whether it deserves to be (and it might well!) or not. That's my honest opinion.
Don't get me wrong. Final Fantasy X was a great game. But I've played better.
Because I'm naughty like that, I'm going to ask whether you prefer the
regular or the final boss music in Revenge of Shinobi on the Genesis.
http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/3002/29408 is the usual boss tune,
http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/3002/29409 is the final boss. Give it
all you've got!
The latter, no question. And by a long shot. The drums are just far too annoying in the first one. Neither one is particularly inspiring to me, though.
Aside from the legitimate FFV translation on PS1 and the horrible Breath of
Fire II translation, what RPGs were 'graced' with truly terrible
translations in your memory?
Final Fantasy Tactics. If you ever play it, you'll know. More recently, Wild Arms: Alter Code F had an absolutely appalling localization. The sentence structure was terrible, to be generous, and the spelling errors were shockingly bad and occurred all the time. As I said back in my review of the game, the translation that the game received was so bad that I found that it cut into the enjoyment of my experience, which was limited to begin with.
Then we have the issue of North Korea recently. Putting yourself into the
place of Kim Jong Il for a moment - which requires you to be a megalomaniac
dictator totally unconcerned for the lives of others - would you launch a
missile at Japan? Would it be a nuclear missile? How about South Korea,
incredibly easy to reach? North Korea doesn't have anything that can reach
Ontario - that we know of. But one nuclear weapon used on Tokyo would
change the world drastically.
In my barrage of lesser-known titles at Macstorm, he revealed that he has
played Fire Emblem 6. So go inquire of him just how worthy an entry into
the series it is! I watched a former roommate play some of it (illegally -
not that legalities ever bothered him when he played FE 7 via the same
means) and it looked very close to FE 7, only all in Japanese (naturally).
Also inquire of him about the difficulty level, for I have heard many
variants upon just how challenging FE6 truly is. All of them have it as
being harder than Eliwood's quest in FE7 at the very least though. And Roy
is supposedly not very good at gaining reasonable statistics, even worse
than his father.
The probabilistic method of gaining stats in Fire Emblem games is really neat, because sheer chance could help to steer certain characters towards being more useful than others. It's an interesting yet simple quality that you don't find in many games, hmm?
Huey Lewis - awesome. I remember singing along to Huey Lewis songs in my
father's van back in 1986 - and he's still good! Everyone who likes Huey
Lewis, write in!
Yes. And ask me something about your favourite RPGs while you're at it, if you do. ^^;;;
I gave you Synbios's battle theme last time, so this time it's Medion's!
Wow! This is the theme that I like most out of everything you've sent me today, though I mostly just like the introductory background of destiny. Very cool. And it has that characteristic Sakuraba sound to it, too. <3
Will there ever be a good movie based upon a video game? I'd limit the
field to RPGs but that seems a little too much to ever hope for.
Waga karada wa, tetsu nari!
Never! And you can bet on it. More accurately, I'll never know, because I highly doubt that I'll ever invest in one. My experience with "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" for the NES was enough to drive that point home to me at a very young age.
Thanks as always, JuMeSyn!
Though I'm sure all of the SOCK people have already scrolled right to the bottom to see why the heck someone has three hundred thousand points all of a sudden, I thought I'd mention it here. Someone has three hundred thousand points, all of a sudden! AHHH!!
For complete contest rules, click here!
Answers to October 13th's Questions
#346. b) Sunday - 820 points/1,640 points for Boojum
#347. d) Orphanage - 750 points
Boojum says: This question refers to Shining Force (either the original or the GBA version). If you are thorough in exploring the towns, you can get an egg that eventually hatches into a cute, flying squid-like thing named Domingo. Even after hatching, his class is listed as 'Magic Egg'. And 'domingo' as anyone with a semester of Spanish can tell you, means 'sunday'. Thanks for the submission!
This was Bainick's question, and it was from that oft-mentioned yet little-played and interestingly PAL-exclusive Terranigma!
Erika casts Apocalypse! Every Top 35 Competitor is compelled to use a random item!
Leaper uses a Wait Mode! SOCK is delayed for a day!
Wow. How fitting. This extra day will let you all absorb the chaos that has happened. I'm afraid that this spell is going to put some people so utterly far behind that recovery would be a true feat. It's the game, though, and I can't change the rules, I'm afraid. If you were bitten by severely bad luck- and there were several of you- you have my sincerest sympathies. Trust me; it was absolutely painful for me to lower some of your scores by as much as 50,000 points. The Apocalypse just happened to occur at a time when a lot of people were frozen, too, making things even more terrible.
To those of you in the negative five-digits: Thanks so much for playing. If you decide to stick with it nonetheless, I'm truly appreciative, but I'd totally understand if you were to drop out of the game. Best of luck in SOCK2, one day, if that is your choice!
Now what? I think that it's fairly obvious that a new "final boss" has gripped the scoreboard. What will come of this competition? You'll have to wait and see...
Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!
Point Doubler (1 left),
Mythril Armor (2 left),
Regen Spell (2 left)
Any 1st-Level Elemental Spell (2 left),
Point Halver (1 left),
Drain Spell (2 left)
Slowga Spell (2 left),
Float Spell (1 left),
Damage Deflector (2 left)
Sneak Glove (2 left),
Any Gem (4 left),
Biora Spell (1 left)
Shuriken (1 left),
Rename Card (1 left),
Scan Spell (2 left)
Mythril Armor (3 left),
Merton Spell (2 left),
Wait Mode (1 left)
Vanish Spell (2 left),
Sadness Stone (1 left),
Rare Candy (3 left)
Mythril Shield (1 left),
Drainra Spell (2 left),
A.P.G. (2 left)
Toxic Waste (1 left),
Sean's Dictionary of Doom (1 left),
Holy Spell (2 left)
Rare Candy (2 left),
Rebirth Stone (1 left),
Demira Spell (2 left)
Dark Converter (2 left),
Drainga Spell (2 left),
Item Destroyer (2 left)
Rare Candy (2 left),
Cloak of Evasion (2 left),
Point Tripler (2 left)
Meteor Spell (2 left),
Item Bomb (1 left),
Any Gem(3 left)
Rare Candy (2 left),
Diamond Armor (2 left),
Gold Sword (2 left)
(people who I love, but who still need to check their e-mail or somehow get in touch with me because they have unclaimed items- if you fall off the list after a week, it's TOO LATE FOR YOU! Check your spam/trash folders for my messages if you're not getting them, and I'll check mine, too!)
Obtain enough points, and you may buy items, merchandise, or guest-hosting positions.
Click here for the current list of potential prizes!
Saw this article at IGN and remembered your query: where will calculus get
me in life? According to the article, you could be working on software to
make the Nintendo Wii function more smoothly!
Make the jump when you get the chance; very interesting stuff:
Aha! I saw something about this a few days ago at Gamespot (yes, I do go there from time to time). Really neat. I guess to deal with new technology, you have to have the tools to do so! Since Nintendo is making the next generation all about play control, the developers have just got to get it right. Maybe this will help them do the trick.
Do the rules for the Duelling Glove accomodate multiple attackers? Is one randomly chosen, or are they all compared? And in the event of multiple winners...?
Alexander M. DeMichiei
I've gotten a few questions about this. There will only be ONE challenger at maximum per day; I'll take the first person to step up to the plate, and the others will be out of luck. It's the only real way I can keep things simple enough to follow easily! Hopefully, this clears things up.
A completely silly and random question:
What name will you give to your Slime when you get to play Dragon Quest
Heroes: Rocket Slime? Wonderslime, Matt, leave it as Rocket, or will you use
something completely different?
Ah... the first time I play a game, I usually leave the protagonist's name alone, unless it's something seriously stupid. Rocket is cute, so I'll stick with that for now. In a second playthrough, though, all bets are off!
The problem with this week is that I just have an incredible number of things to accomplish, and about 48 hours left. What should I do? Well, I should say g'night for now, and come back here tomorrow, for some more questions and answers! Everyone, do take care.
Inbox Status: Decently decent.
Matt would think that Apocalypse Spells were more fun if he were not such a busy guy!
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM, like a Mazda! W00t, as the say; that sentence had four "Z"s!
Oct. 16: Josh
Oct. 15: Josh
Oct. 13: Bainick & Matt
Oct. 12: Matt
SOCK's Rule Guide
SOCK's Prize Shop
About the Host
What I Want to Play:
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Final Fantasy XII
3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
4. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn
5. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl
What I'm Playing:
1. Xenosaga: Episode III
2. Disgaea II
3. Fire Emblem GBA
Dueling Glove Holder:
Summon in Play:
13. TV's Adam
17. Alan Tse
21. Arros Raikou
24. Hunter B
31. William T.