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October 27, 2006

Matt Demers - 23:59 EST

AH, THE WEEKEND. I might just get away with a little bit of gaming time at long last!! Note that it has now been nearly two weeks since the last time I touched my PS2. I desperately want to finish off either Xenosaga III or Disgaea II before Final Fantasy XII is added to my roster, but I just don't think that that is a realistic target. Maybe, just *maybe*, a retrovirus of some nonfatal variety comes and makes me adequately ill so that I don't have to worry about school, tutoring, and such for a few days. One can only hope. And now I've reached a new low, since you know that something must be terribly wrong if you're wishing ill upon yourself in order to get some extra time to play with. Ahhh...

I'm going to dive into letters presently! First, a note: You guys have been writing in some reaaaal monsters lately. Be careful, or I'll split them into fragments. Perhaps you don't mind that in the end after all, but it's just that I refuse (and reasonably, I think) to spend three hours working on a single letter, despite your good intentions!!

PawnShop PlayStations, Kingdom Hearts, and Videogame Music!

Hello there, Matt

I assure you, the reason I have not written in for a week has nothing to do with being in mourning for the upcoming demise of SOCK 1.0, nor am I boycotting the site in protest of anything. I forget if you published my letter where I mentioned buying PS2 games cheaply in anticipation of eventually acquiring a PS2 to play them (and I'm too lazy to do a simple search to find when I sent it), but last week I finally acquired a PS2 from a pawn shop, used. It even came with a wireless controller. As a result, I've been immersed in gaming. I've already drained the fresh batteries they put into the controller at the pawn shop, and have spent over a day's worth of game time in the worlds of Kingdom Hearts.


Wow. In comparison, I got a wireless controller last Christmas, and I just replaced the batteries for it for the first time, the last time I played, two weeks ago. Ten months vs. one week! I hate you. In any case, congratulations on your "new" console.

They didn't have a memory card to go with the PS2 at the pawn shop, but I had already acquired one from them last year (another cheap purchase; I used the opportunity during a visit to my girlfriend's to see what was saved on it, and then I deleted everything on it), so all that was left was to purchase a new RF switch. The television on my room is an older one, so it doesn't have those handy audio input/output thingys.

After I got home with my purchases, I found that I would have to rearrange a few things in my little gaming area, but it wasn't the nightmare that I thought it would be. The old computer stand that I use for gaming now looks as if it was built for gaming, instead of looking like a substitute gaming centre.


Ah yes. I actually hate rearranging furniture, especially when it means relocating computers and crawling behind heavy desks. Ugh. And back to your previous paragraph, it was only a few years ago that my parents bought a TV that didn't require an RF switch. I always worried that companies like Sony and Nintendo would just stop making them, not allowing me to ever play video games again, since buying a new TV, for a fifteen year old that makes $500 per year, is just out of the question.

Kingdom Hearts is awesome. I'm having a fun time exploring around, looking in every nook and cranny for those cute dalmatian puppies, and wondering why only the whale area seems to have survived from the movie Pinnochio. I suppose if anywhere else survived, I don't know about it yet.

Which brings me to an idea for a future Kingdom Hearts game. There have been time limit scenarios in Final Fantasy games in the past, where if you don't do some task and run away as fast as you can, Your Characters Will Die. Fortunately, the only time limit I've seen in Kingdom Hearts is for the tournament, and you certainly won't die if you don't beat everyone within the time limit. Well, what if Pleasure Island was a world? Naturally, you'd be teamed up with Pinnochio, but on the island, you'd have a time limit. You would have to complete whatever task within, say, an hour. As if to show how urgent your time limit is, your characters would grow donkey features at set times during the task (maybe every ten or fifteen minutes), with a full donkey transformation and a subsequent game over occuring if you stay for longer than the hour. Or, alternatively, maybe the transformation would just halt your progress with the task, and you'd have to leave the island and come back, to reset the timer. At least then, you could come back to find hidden treasure chests later on in the game.


That is a neat thought, actually. And now, if it shows up in Kingdom Hearts III one day, you can argue that someone saw it here at RPGamer and stole your idea! The same sort of thing could work for The Little Mermaid. Is the world "Atlantica"? I don't remember, but Ariel had to munch on some guy's lips within three days, or else ALL would be lost. Another fun time limit there, though perhaps not as dramatic as the panicky end to Pinocchio. Notice how all time limits in Disney movies end with characters turning into something else?

Here's something I've noticed about myself: in RPGs where there are elements of platformer games included in the gameplay, whenever something is out of reach of my characters, I don't think, "Oh well, I'll come back when I have an ability to get that thing". I think, "Oh, I suck at this kind of thing. Why do they include platforming elements in these games? I hate platforming games!" And then later, when I get a better jumping ability, "Now why did I think something like that before? Now I know bet- wait, I still can't get that thing. I suck, I hate these games!"

Actually, the only real gripe I have with Kingdom Hearts is that the camera sucks, but everyone else has noticed that about the game, so... yeah. I do find it kind of funny (funny strange, not funny ha ha) that I can cast lots of magic spells when I possess only 5MP. That's not even enough to cast one Cure spell in Final Fantasy XII!


I know that for the while that I played Xenogears, leaping around the forest canopy at the beginning of the game got to be really, REALLY frustrating. I don't know if I lack the coordination or what, but I must have fallen to the bottom at least twice before I made it through, and boy was I frustrated by attempt number three. I like platforming games, too.

And yeah, most people have thought the same thing. You'll have to see if you agree with everyone else about Kingdom Hearts II when you get the chance.

As for number-scaling, this is one curiosity that gets me, as a math major. All RPGs have their own scale that works for them, and sometimes the numbers stay in the tens or hundreds, and in other games, the numbers go into the thousands or tens of thousands. For some reason, I find it slightly disturbing when the scaling is changed between two games in the same series (like Breath of Fire IV, if you've ever played it- that's a great example). If a Dragon Quest were ever released that put your people at 1000 HP by Level 20, it just wouldn't be the same...

I rented Dragon Warrior VIII yesterday, but it's still too new to rent for longer than a day or so from our local rental place. If I wanted to rent it for a week, I might as well just buy it at this point. I mostly rented it because Final Fantasy XII is coming out next week, and I wanted to see the infamous demo for myself before the big furor over the game itself gets going. And... I don't exactly have the sense that the series is turning hands-off that other people got when they played the demo. For one thing, the game seems a little more hands on than I'd been led to believe, especially when fighting certain enemies. They seem to ignore me when I walk up to him and look like I'm about to attack, so my other characters just stood around as well until my main character struck the monster, after which they realized they're supposed to do something, and got ready to attack. This meant that, especially with Bombs, I had to tell the other characters to ready an attack because by the time they all decided on their own to attack, and actually followed through with the attack, the Bomb would have started to self destruct.


...for a meagre amount of damage. I can't really fairly say, to be honest, since it's been about a year since I played that original demo. The one at E3 left me thirstier for control, that's for sure.

I was a little disappointed that none of the menus, save the battle system's menu, were available, not even the one to program everyone's gambits. One of the things I judge an RPG on is how the menu system is organized, and how the game can be configured, if it can. I also judge the leveling/stats system, and all I saw of it was a little dialogue that would pop up every now and again, saying that my characters have killed enough things and earned enough points to make themselves better in all or some of their attributes. "Basch has leveled up! Basch is now level 21" tells me nothing, really. I tell you, I am very much looking forward to the final game if only so that my curiosity will be satisfied about the license board system, and those Mist Knacks I've heard about.


It's true; it can be an important thing! The menu seemed fine enough in the E3 demo I played through, however. And, if you think about it, just about every Final Fantasy game has been vague about Level-Ups upon achieving them with the sole exception of the original, which notified you of how all of your stats were increasing.

I didn't count on one thing, though, when I rented DQ8: the FF12 demo took only an hour to complete, and so I popped DQ8 in to try it out, see what I thought. If the first couple hours accurately represents the rest of the game, I am looking forward to purchasing the game and occupying the majority of my free time with it.


Well, of course! Go on...

One thing that made me roll my eyes was how the king (you might want me to include a *SPOILER* section here, just in case, so, warning: spoilers probably follow, even though I only played the first couple hours) would complain about how ugly he looked. I would say that if he and his daughter traded places, he'd see that he got the better deal: of the two, he's the only one who has demonstrated that he can still speak, he's the only one who can still manipulate things with his hands, and he could probably still eat what he used to eat as a human. The only thing that really changed for him was that he looks like Shrek's stunt double. His daughter got the bum deal. She's got hooves instead of hands, has a much more limited diet compared to her diet as a human, and she's probably only able to neigh. And having been turned into a horse, she'll probably go into heat; I bet they don't mention anywhere in the game whether Dhoulmagus gave her a heat cycle like a regular horse would have. In fact, life as a horse is probably rough for her. She has to pull the wagon, after all! The only thing she has going for her is that she's still beautiful. I don't know what she could be thinking during the adventure, whether she's enduring it well, or if she's fearing that one day she'll just give up and start thinking and acting more like a horse and less like a human. I guess I'll never know, but wouldn't that be a twist at the end, if the king realizes that he can still rule as an ogre (as long as no one saw him and declared him a monster), and that the princess decides to stay a horse?



Ah, the spoilers weren't too heavy, since I think most of that can be found in the instruction manual anyway.

And you're right! She'd all of a sudden be at risk for all sorts of new ailments, too: How many princesses do you know that have to be careful about getting gas (for REAL reasons)?

The biggest question on my mind right now is, after mentioning NaNoWriMo a couple weeks ago, why did I go and buy a PS2? At this rate, I'm not going to get any writing done come November. I suppose as long as I don't buy myself any more games (despite how many games are coming out within the next few weeks with Final and Fantasy in their titles), I'll survive. Or maybe I should use gaming as an incentive: for every 10000 words, and as long as I stay at least two days ahead of whatever goals I set for myself, I get to explore a new world in Kingdom Hearts. Of course, that means that I have to stop playing the game before November, because at this rate, I'm going to be finished the game by Halloween, and be sorely tempted to give Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter a spin.


Sure. You can't just go without a break, can you? I know that after doing one of these columns (probably 1,000 - 1,500 words, on average), the last thing I want to do is continue writing. You've got to pace yourself, or else you might just go bananas!

Gaming music must be an acquired taste. While these days, I love listening to what a composer can come up with (the music in Magnetica, especially on the title screen, is catchy), when I first started playing them, I used to turn the sound off and listen to mp3s or CDs instead. To this day, I associate Terranigma with "This Island Earth" by Glass Tiger, and Secret of Evermore with the first half of Dream's "It Was All A Dream" CD. Since then, I've played the games the way the original composers wanted me to, but still, for a while I didn't think gaming music was worth listening to, which is sad. I now consider Jeremy Soule (Secret of Evermore) one of the greats, up there with Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, and Yoko Shimomura. What's the name of the guy who writes Dragon Quest's music? Of the music I've heard from DQ8, I'd say he's done an exceptional job with that game.


Koichi... Koichi Sugiyama! Awesome guy. I much appreciate just about everything he has done for RPG music, and Dragon Quest VIII was quite the feat indeed! If you've only played an hour or so, you haven't heard enough of it! And believe it or not, that man was the very soul who composed the musical track featured in yesterday's SOCK question! *gasp*

You know, I downloaded a track from the FF12 soundtrack (not counting Kiss Me Good-Bye; I downloaded that months ago), and I couldn't bring myself to listen to it. Other than playing the demo, I want the entire FF12 experience to be as fresh and untainted as possible. Kiss Me Good-Bye already has me assuming stuff about the end of the game, and the screen shots have already got me guessing about the license board system, and so I've cut myself off from anything else associated with the game until I hold it in my own paws and play it. For the next little while, if someone writes in and talks about FF12, I'll probably skip over their letters. Have you ever done that with a game? Try to cut yourself off from hearing anything about the game until you buy and play it?


I totally, totally know what you mean! Some people consider only storyline things to be spoilers, and think it's okay to blab on and on about this skill and that feature and this battle and that summon and so on... and I don't want to hear any of it!!! If you've gone out and played the game in Japanese because you lack patience, then fine. But don't wreck my experience! CW, I know exactly what you're talking about, and music is just another part of it. I remember having a sinking feeling after I lost my willpower years ago and downloaded Final Fantasy IX's battle theme. Yeah, it might seem silly. But to me, it was an important part of the game that I wanted to wait for.

When you do finish SOCK 1.0, do you have to reveal everything about it? A half a month is not going to be enough time to explore everything for ourselves before you end the competition, and unless you plan on changing things around completely, surely many of the secret things you've mentioned in the past will still be accessable through the same means as before in SOCK 2.0, right? If that's the case, why not just leave out a lot of the secret stuff when you finally reveal everything? As much as I want to know all the summons, I'd love to wait until SOCK 2.0, and start gathering items again with the intent of seeing what new and interesting summons they combine to create. Hey, think of it this way: there'll already be a plethora of secret things everyone can look forward to with SOCK 2.0, even if they did try to create them during SOCK 1.0.


Surely I won't reveal everything at the end, but there are a few things that I want to drive home. I want to talk about my personal feelings on SOCK, since it played out a little differently than I originally anticipated it to. Trust me, though... it wouldn't be "me" if the next competition won't be chock-full of new things to discover. Summoning, incidentally, won't be quite as easy to pull off as it is now, but it will be present in the game for sure!

This letter turned... long. And for that, I deeply apologize. I guess I was trying to compensate for my absence. But it really does show me how easy it is to write long letters: you just find yourself rambling on and on. Well, time to borrow Sora's Keyblade, and cut this thing short.

"Give me strength!" *Summons Simba*


Ah, it's OK. You're a first-time offender, pretty much. Long letters just take a long time to work through, but that doesn't mean that they aren't enjoyable to read and answer!

Have fun playing Kingdom Hearts and other PS2 goodies, CW. Thanks for writing in!

The year of endless games has struckified...

I'm playing Thousand Year Door right now, even though I've had it for over a year. (One day last year I saved up enough money from work to reach a goal I'd had, so I literally blew half my paycheck on video games right after I got it. It was awesome.) I didn't want to play Paper Mario 2 until I had played the original, and I lucked out and nabbed a copy at EB Games or something for $25 used - the ONLY time I condone the evilness of in-store used game purchases, as I've probably gone on and on about countless times now.


Ah, maybe once or twice. No biggie! Remember: I talk about the same things every single day, pretty much.

I hate the pushy EB Games employees, though, that ask you at least three different moneygrabbing questions before you can walk out the store with your game, don't you?

"We have a USED copy for ten bucks less! Would you like thaaaat instead?"


"Do you have a membership to this or a subscription to such and such magazine?"

Leave me alone.

"Do you want to buy insurance that will cover your game in case anything happens to it in the next year?"


Anyway, I enjoyed Paper Mario, but so far I think I like Paper Mario 2 even better. I've nabbed two of the crystal stars (out of seven, and who'd have thought a Nintendo game would have you collecting stuff?!) and I'm really enjoying the improvements upon the original game. The crowd that watches you fight in particular is a great touch. And the writing is top-notch; they really did a great job making a game that would appeal to younger and older players alike.

My favorite moment so far was the kid in one of the towns who says he's playing all these different Nintendo games. First it was Fire Emblem, then Paper Mario, and now he says he's saving up for Paper Mario 2...which sent me into a metafiction spiral that nearly sent me back in time. Even though they stole this idea directly from Earthbound (two NPCs report playing Earthbound while YOU are playing Earthbound, and that's just deep, man...) it's still clever even ten years later.


Good!! I'm glad you're enjoying it, and it only gets better. Well, except for one part later on in the game which drags a little bit, but all in all, there are a lot of really neat ideas thrown into the mix. It left me feeling a whole lot more satisfied at the end than I felt after the original Paper Mario.

And yes. One of the main draws to either game is definitely the fact that the dialogue is so wonderfully funny. It makes me want to go back and play again, just thinking about it.

It's nice to be back playing RPGs after a long absence: God of War led to Killer7 led to Metal Gear Solid 3 led to Eternal Darkness and oh my god Eternal Darkness is awesome. And Paper Mario 2 is a perfect way to get started with RPGs again after playing three titles as innovative as the last ones I played.

Plus, getting all the shorter games out of the way has reduced by console backlog (I won't even go into PC stuff). Now I've just got Xenosaga III, Wild Arms 4, Atelier Iris, Kingdom Hearts 2, Steambot Chronicles, Gladius and maybe Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, which I've had forever and only played for like 15 minutes. On the other hand, I've got to get used to the idea of playing one game for a month at a time again...even Paper Mario 2 seems like it's got a good 40 hours in it.


Welcome back to the club! It's good to have you again. And yes, Paper Mario 2 took me over 30 hours, and I was hurrying to get through it during a visit at home. Expect more, in that respect, than you might have initially expected.

And yet now there's the new Shin Megami Tensei, the new Tales, that new .hack to give a fair try, and of course FF12. Also, Contact looks really, really appealing to me. I wish I had the money to spend. As for FF12, even though it comes out next Tuesday, I at least will have no choice but to leave it alone. It's probably all sold out anyway. It's not like I don't have enough to occupy my time. I'll just have to ignore every conversation every RPG player has for the next year or so.

I really miss having the time to play games. On the other hand, the time I had to do that was a product of me living with my parents. I do not miss that. So maybe it's a fair trade.

-TV's Adam


We've seen this coming for nearly a year, and now we're finally feeling the effects first-hand. We all should have known we'd never have time to get through 'em all. And while it's a bit depressing that way, it's great in another: The RPG world is flourishing like no other time in history, and so we have a lot to be thankful for!

Thanks very much for writing in. I hope to hear from you again soon!

ANOTHER biggie? Jeez, are you guys bored or something?


Well, as the tradition goes I've been reading this column semi-regularly (in bursts of several months at a time) for a while now and often keep meaning to send in a response to questions and debates but never get around to it. So I think it's about time I did as I have a few comments on a couple of issues in the last few columns.


The floor is yours, my friend.

Firstly the issue of the "lesser-known" or "obscure" RPG. As a rule I tend to prioritise these over any of the big name RPGs such as Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts for the very simple reason that I know that in 6 months time or more I will still be able to easily purchase the big name games whereas the obscure titles will become a lot harder to get a hold of. Therefore I am much more likely to preorder an obscure game which I think will have limited numbers such as the Super Robot Wars Taisen: Original Generation and Summon Night games than I am to order a bigger name RPG (unless they have a very tempting preorder bonus, which unfortunately we don't get a lot of over here in the UK).

This mentality probably originated with my owning of a Sega Saturn and not purchasing the RPGs (which were technically big name, but came late so had limited numbers) and mising out on them as the prices sky-rocketed. Luckily I managed to pick most of them up cheap eventually (the Ł7.50 for a good condition complete PAL Panzer Dragoon Saga ranking as one of my better bargains (especially as that was a couple of years after the Saturn's death and the price on ebay was high)) but had to pay a bit of a premium for some of them (my general rule is I don't like paying more than RRP would have been ever). This has made me an over (or under depending on perspective) cautious buyer, where I will try and wait for a game to drop in price to an acceptable amount but without disappearing altogether (which thankfully is becoming less common these days but my paranoia of the fact still reigns high...). UK game pricing, the RRPs anyway are terribly high, especially handheld titles.....


I think that most of us have missed something that we wished we had played at one point or another in the past. And what you say is absolutely true: The less-high-profile games can sometimes only be found on store shelves for a couple of months before disappearing altogether, so your chance to get them is likely very limited. When you find out that a game has disappeared, you might have to pay triple the price by selling your soul to eBay in order to have that same chance again.

On the other hand, you can pretty much rest assured that Final Fantasy XII will be available for at least a couple of years, and it will likely come DOWN in price after being recognized as a "Greatest-Hits" title. I think that your reasoning is sound.

Which brings me onto my next point and another common theme, the dreaded backlog............ I try and purchase every RPG I think should be worthwhile on every format I own (basically most things that precede the X-Box 360). And thus I have many dozen RPGs which I either have not played or have merely "tested". Another issue this used to bring was distraction from RPGs I was currently playing, leaving them unfinished. I like to finish games so have now pretty much set myself a set of rules of solidly play 1 or 2 handeld and 1 console RPG fully at a time before I start any others. Obviously I keep buying more while this is going on so the backlog increases hugely. I also have very little playing time being a parent and 1st year University student which doesn't help the situation. And being in a PAL region I often import RPGs from the states that I think have little chance of appearing over here (which are a considerable amount of them), although I am sometimes surprised such as Disgaea getting a PAL release. I also import some Japanese RPGs which will hopefully be more use to me as I progress through my Degree (I am studying Japanese language) such as Star Ocean: Blue Sphere and the many unreleased "Tales of" games.


Wow, it does sound like you have a lot on your plate! How do you get through a dozen titles when you only have time for a few? Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. (Hopefully, your child comes at the top of that list, but hey, I'm "Matt", not Dr. Phil, so what do I know?)

Good for you, though, for picking up those rare titles. I don't know anyone else who has Blue Sphere. That's pretty awesome.

As this is becoming a very long letter I think I'd better be brief about my 3rd topic. The Japanese RPG habit of still using and releasing games in series they originally licensed from the West and continuing them with new entries. This was obviously one of the origins of the J-RPG with the Japanese versions of titles such as the Ultima series and the Wizardry series, which is still going strong over there today judging by the number of releases in it. Yet I can only think of one game off the top of my head in these series' which made it to the West, Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land for the PS2 (which even made it to Europe, a game I was unaware of the existence of until I happened upon a pre-owned copy). It's an interesting melding of Western and Eastern principles with the character art being drawn in a way that is meant to "look Western". Being a first-person dungeon crawl (party-based) it probably sold atrociously, but I found it to be a very enjoyable game with an interesting combat system (Allied Actions) and interesting dungeon design (although the first Ultima Underworld still ranks as one of the best dungeon designs I have encountered). I'll have to get around to finishing Wizardry and writing a review for it (after finishing off the first Digital Devil Saga which I am currently trying to finish) as it is one of the many games on here without a review.


Sounds good! Thanks for sharing. To be honest with you, I didn't even realize that such a title existed in English, if that says anything about how well the game fared over here...

And I seem to have forgotten to ask a question........... Thinks.................. Why do you think that many console RPGamers seem to be put off by games on the basis of a first-person perspective? Is seeing your party members "that" important?


I think that there are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, most people are used to being able to see their characters, outside of sprite form. Despite the good old Earthbounds and Dragon Quests and Legend of the Ghost Lions (ewwwww) out there, many out there will argue that "it's not 1990 anymore" and that games have moved on to the point where there's no real excuse, graphically, to not show more combat action from a third-person perspective.

I have to admit, I was a little bit scared when I first heard that battles in Dragon Quest VIII would be the first to be partly seen in first-person and partly seen in third-person. It was always cool to see the slimes blob up really close towards the screen to attack in Dragon Warrior VII, and the style was a comfy one. I still miss it in some ways, but Level 5 found a way to capture the feel of the old games in a prettier format. Good for them. And here I am, talking about my series yet again...

In the end, I don't really feel that it's a hugely important thing, because the way battles are presented to you from a purely visual standpoint just isn't what makes a good RPG "good" to me. However, it's worth the change, especially if by having those first-person battles, a company's game will be ripped to shreds by the critics. *shrug*

Anyway I've ranted too long, and this quick email (and obligatory question) turned into a rambling sprawl (hopefuly not TOO long) so I shall say Goodbye and leave this in your hands.



Not at all! I appreciate the mail, and as you can see, something is in the air this week: You're not the only one who has gone on a massive writing frenzy, that much is certain!

It's an emergency!!

Hello to Matt/Ouro/any guest hosts/anybody else who might help,

I am freaking out. Do you ever have one of those moments where you remember part of a movie and can't remember what movie it was? And then, you start to obsess... trying to remember? I am having one of those moments with a very old computer game. I believe in was text based in the style of Monkey Island and whatnot. I hope you or one of your readers might be able to help me.. This is how the game starts:

Your character is teenage nobody, that is abducted off the street, because some secret agancy decided he would make a great secret agent. He is hauled off to a boot-camp-esque place and forced to pass three tests. First, he must escape from his cell. Second, he must interrogate his trainer to find out what the third task is. Finally, his third task is to find his trainer, who somehow mysteriously disappears.

It was incredibly hilarious. Lots of slapstick humor. I would love to know what it was called.

Can anyone help me?


P.S. Uh... B's for SOCK.


I'm drawing a blank, but it sounds like a cross between Sally Jesse and CSI, or something. Can anybody help this guy out?? It would be much appreciated, I'm sure!

Now THIS is an example of a considerate "pre-gamer"...

A friend of mine had a review copy of Final Fantasy XII, but he doesn't like RPGs so he let me have it. I have been playing it for about 2 weeks and I'm about half way through. I don't have much time for games anymore now that I'm married, and I'm not allowed to play unless she is watching. She likes to watch me play games and feel like she is helping. The one downside to playing it before anyone else is that I have no one to talk to about it. Its very frustrating. I will say that the game is amazing, I absolutely love the new combat system. On to my question, do you know if they have ever released cds of Dear Friends or Play or any of those video game concerts?



Good! I always liked playing with other people, though mainly with my brother and sister. I really do miss the days that people around me actually cared about the games that I played, and would watch, interested, and talk with me excitedly about it when I wasn't playing. There aren't any of those people around here...

As for your question, I've done a little bit of searching online, and while there IS a "Dear Friends" CD, it's only a compilation of various themes from different Final Fantasy games. Unfortunately, so far there has been no official release of the music that was performed at the Friends concerts, as far as I can gather. Sorry about that!


Whee! It's the Wheekend! Whoo!

I did end up playing Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow last night, and got in a couple of hours of playing time before my laundry finished and I called it quits. Wow. This is definitely not your mother's Castlevania. Things are a lot different than they were back in 1992, or whenever Super Castlevania IV was released. (This would be my most recent prior experience with the series!) It'll be fun to play some more when I get the chance.


For complete contest rules, click here!

Answers to October 26th's Questions

#354. a) E.V.O.: Search for Eden - 1,000 points
Wow. I think that we've set a record for the number of people to get a question wrong. I picked the other options strategically, since a couple of them use similar instrumentation, but I didn't expect so many people to fall for my trickery. Also, dammit, I just realized that I haven't changed the date on the "Answers to ... ... Questions" line right above this in almost a week. Such a slacker!

#355. b) Ypres III - 1,000 points/2,000 for ???
And for the answer of "why" this is the case, we'll go to...


Alright, everyone, here's your history lesson courtesy of me for the day. Tannenberg found the Germans completely destroying one Russian army (leading its commander, General Samsonov, to commit suicide) and severely mauling another. The Russians never again attacked Germany itself in the war, and that let the Germans generally choose how to tackle their adversaries in the east.

Caporetto found the Italians being kicked away from everything they'd spent two and a half years slowly taking away from Austria-Hungary, and losing 700,000 prisoners. They almost lost Venice. France and Britain rushed troops into Italy in an effort to prevent the country from dropping out of the war.

Gallipolli had a number of effects. It ended any effort to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war quickly, it became a black mark on Winston Churchill's political career for years to come, and it got Mustafa Kemal, aka Mustafa Ataturk, widespread attention in his homeland. It also ended up killing a disproportionate number of Australians and New Zealanders, which would be remembered very well in those nations.

Somme II is the beginning of the final German offensive operations for the war, and it represented the first time in three years anyone had actually broken through on the Western Front. The German attack smashed General Gough's Fifth Army in the British sector, penetrating distances unseen since the line firmed up in September 1914. The gravity of the situation made the Allies appoint a supreme commander after years of doing without one, in the person of General Ferdinand Foch of France.

Ypres III, also known as Passchendaele, is less significant than the others in the sense of its effect upon the war's progress. The British initiated this battle mostly with a desire to do something to keep the Germans occupied when the Russians were having a meltdown just prior to Lenin's takeover. The French, after Nivelle's idiotic offensive, were in no condition to keep the Germans occupied, and it fell to the British.

Hundreds of thousands on both side died, and it became an even muddier hovel of filth than most Great War battlefields thanks to the quick destruction of the land's drainage system, but not much land was gained (even by Great War standards) and no plans were changed on either side.



And that's why. If you feel like arguing, just write in. I would give you his e-mail address, but I feel like I'd be violating something in the process. In any case, thanks for the submission!

MagRowan uses Leaper's Scroll of Blue Magic!

MagRowan casts "Angel's Snack" and all abnormal status has been removed!

...which means, unfortunately, that those of you who used "Haste" spells and such today had the effect immediately dissolved. Ick.

Today's New Questions

A character from Breath of Fire IV shares their name with a villain whose underlings are named Flotsam and Jetsam, respectively. What sort of weapons does that character tote? (1,000 points)

a) Long Swords
b) Rods
c) Claws & Knuckles
d) Clubs
e) Firearms

Which of the following Pokémon is considered to be most overweight by taking into account their Body Mass Index? (1,000 points)

a) Swalot
b) Flygon
c) Golduck
d) Gardevoir
e) Crobat

Yup, this is definitely winding down. The Wii bag is gone... the DS Lite Carrying Cases are gone too... and the only thing left is poor old me, scheming away to try and rebuild this game one day, greater than ever before! *thunder*

I think I'm going to go get some ice cream.

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I have to agree with your assessment of the subjective nature of question 355; it’s subjective not because it is a history question, but the criteria for detemining a battle’s significance is somewhat open to interpretation. A quick search showed that each of these battles had some significance, be it negative or positive, to those involved.


I'm telling you; this is why I'm a Science major. This whole lack of correctness, incorrectness, and altogether heady nonsense drives me crazy. For example, Tom, my partner, is currently TAing for a history course where he has to mark the major paper. The professor met with him early on, and told him that for his marking, "The high mark will be 86. The low mark will be 50. The average will be 70." Uh, what? Did he say "will"? What is he, a psychic? Or just a crazed control freak trying to penalize hard-working students and allow lazy-asses to get off easy by not giving marks that are deserved, all because "in history, things are open to interpretation"? Please.


All right. I'm handing you off to Ourobolus for now, but rest assured that I shall return. Soon. On the day that Final Fantasy is reborn in North America, offline, where it should be! Let us wait with bated breath.

Anyway, have a great weekend everybody! Hopefully I can make SOME progress on Xenosaga. I sure will try.

Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: Healthy enough. But send more stuff to Ouro, or I'll KEEEEL you.
"Matt" is one of the most common male names in North America!

Next on the agenda: The marking of the homework.

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