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November 2, 2006

Matt Demers - 21:27 EST

NO PERSONAL ADS TODAY, which I think is a good thing. No, Arros' little bit yesterday was as a result of an Intro Paragraph that he purchased through the waning contest, and isn't going to become a regular feature; never worry.

Now, I've heard from others that some people out there aren't very happy with the "direction" that Q&A has gone. I've emphasized this a few times before, and I want to do so again: This is YOUR space. If there is something that you don't like about it, something you would like changed, new things that you'd like to see, or other ideas, comments, concerns, or anything... I'm completely open to anything you might have to contribute. There's no point in producing a column that nobody likes to read, after all, but I'm not a mind-reader! Even if you've never written in before, please write in. Tell me what's on your mind, and by all means, let me know how I can make this place better for everyone.

One thing that won't change, obviously, is the whole questions and answers bit, because that's what the Q and the A stand for. Duh. OK, I'll begin now.

Oh, Mastercard will either love us or hate us for this one!

Hey Matt,

Congrats on your 200th column!! Itís always a pleasure to read (itís like my morning paper at work).


Damn. I was hoping that it could serve more as your morning coffee, to JOLT you into productivity! I guess I haven't had enough energy to make this thing especially "jolty" lately, though, but I sure as... sure as sugar try my hardest.

Alright, Iím not sure what the deal was having never played the demo, but what was suppose to be SO horrible about FFXIIís battle system. Itís not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Granted Iím not that far into it, but I find it enjoyable. It has a nice level of customization and the gambits are almost a necessity to the way enemies are fought.

Speaking of enemies, I love how they throw in some difficult monsters to spice things up. I died! It was beautiful! I didnít even see it coming. I was fighting one guy and BAM! 800 damage when I only have 150 HP! I think this is gonna be a nice chapter in the FF series. But, then again Iíve only played a couple of hours.


The demos gave the illusion that the game was a whole lot simpler than it actually is. Not only was access to the battle menu limited, it wasn't apparent that there was any extra menu to go into to mess around with things at all. Furthermore, enemies were all really simple, and you were kind of thrown into the game with three characters and a whole lot of skills that just seemed randomly included. In the actual game, you are introduced to one element at a time, making it feel much more balanced; I'm enjoying the game much more than the demo so far, though I still have only played a couple of hours (sadly).

The license system worries me though. I have a feeling Iím gonna spend a great deal of time working on customizing my guys. This should be a good jump start for me since Iíve taken a break from RPGís ever since my PS2 died.


Oh, I'm really excited about the License Grid. It's like a blind Sphere Grid, which is pretty funky. While some people will know what is under every single square, thanks to their strategy guides and such, I'm looking forward to stumbling through and opening up things that take me by surprise. I'm anxious to open it up further!

This game better be good though, cause I ended up buying a lot of equipment essential in order to play it.

new shiny silver PS2-$129.99
new 22Ē flat screen tv-$499.99
s-video cable-$10.99
Final Fantasy XII-$49.99
Saving the world from the comfort of my room-priceless

Dark Chevalier
*hoping that his FFXII investment pays off*


Wow! New TV? That's really great! From the looks of it, and from what I've heard by means of all the people who played the Japanese version, we're all in for a treat. I'm sure your investment will be more than worth it, and hey, you'll even have all of that, uh, snazzy equipment to play all sorts of other games too!

Like a spoiled child.

Hey Matt!

I am currently in the unenviable position of having to wait almost two months for Final Fantasy XII (I'm getting it for Christmas). So, I'm looking for tips: How do you avoid accidentally running across spoilers? Obviously, you probably get buried under them, with Q&A and all. I'd like to think most of the people here are wise enough not to spoil things for you, but there's always someone who slips something through, even without meaning to. I barely look at pictures before games come out, so I'm just about going to flinch every time I see any site put up an article.


Spoilers ARE almost impossible to avoid. In the online world, it's so easy to just accidentally stumble across something undesirably spoilerish simply while looking for innocent things like art or music or information. It's even worse, though, as Leaper and I were saying yesterday, since sometimes, the companies themselves give things away in everything from their instruction manuals to their press releases. Frustrating? Yes. The conclusion is, if you never want to hear anything about a new game, become a full-fledged hermit. I hear there a few good hills you can build a crooked bungalow atop of, too.

So, I'll throw out an odd topic: What's the longest anyone has gone while dodging noteworthy spoilers, be it for games or movies. I think my best was not seeing the Sixth Sense for over a year after it came out, and somehow still not having the ending spoiled. Heck, I have one friend who had it spoiled by a radio DJ a couple of days after it came out.

Anyway, if anyone can rip themselves away from the game for a bit, I'd love to see some stories (unrelated to FFXII of course).

360) B. 1993
361) A. Zeromus




Well, you've still got me! I've got a JOB to do, right? *bitterness*

I managed to go for well over a year after Star Ocean: Till the End of Time's release before I ever actually played the game. While I had heard that there was a "big twist", I was unaware of what the twist was until it happened, so that's pretty good, isn't it? Otherwise, I'm having trouble brewing another example. Does anyone else have a fun story to share?

The two-month wait will fly by, and Christmas will be here before you know it. Think of everything else you have to play in the meantime, and enjoy these days while you can! A new big bully of a game will be knocking on your doorstep soon.

Thanks for the letter!

Isn't everyone in a Final Fantasy mood these days?

Dear Matt:

Howdy! I thought I'd pop in and write my second letter since becoming enthralled into the whole "SOCK" experience.


Glad to hear it! What do you have to say, today?

Recently (about a month ago), I decided that it was time for me to delve into Final Fantasy Origins. Before getting into Origins, I had never really gotten to play Final Fantasy of Final Fantasy 2 very much at all. I loaded up each to see what was in store for me, but never really got much farther than that. I always seemed way too busy at that particular moment or just decided to play something else in my backlog. After about a month of playing, I can officially say that I've conquered Final Fantasy 1, with 100% Items and 100% bestiary, and am currently venturing into the world of Final Fantasy 2.


This moment has been... sixteen years coming! Congratulations!

Final Fantasy 1 was so much fun because it was neat to play an RPG that was somewhat difficult and that resorted to the classic 2D style. The one thing that really stuck out in my mind that I thought was a great addition to the PS version of Final Fantasy was the Bestiary and Item collection lists that were available to the user under the configuration option. I'm a person that loves to complete everything 100% and with those lists readily available for my viewing, I was able to see if I got every item, defeated every enemy, etc. Also it helped me to figure out the weaknesses and strengths of each monster, which in some cases, really helped in those latter areas of certain dungeons. Another feature that was included that I really loved because it was a big life-saver was the memo feature. I used that so many times and it literally saved me an incredible amount of time trudging through the same dungeons over and over and over again.


I agree! The bestiary was a fun and simple little addition that helped to modernize the game ever-so-slightly.

You're right that Final Fantasy I is a difficult game, but only really at the beginning, you know? I find that by the time you get your airship, it's pretty hard to die at anything, because generally, your Fighter (if you have one) can slash through everything with ease. If there was one thing that I'd change about the original Final Fantasy, then, it would be that bosses would have their HP increased by a factor of five or ten. There were so many disappointing boss battles in that game; no boss fight should last a measly two turns, as far as I'm concerned!

Final Fantasy 2, from what little I've played the game, is somewhat different than the rest of the Final Fantasy games I've played. It doesn't rely on the standard leveling up procedure, instead it levels up the stats based on what each characters uses the most. For example, if one of the characters uses an axe for a lot of fights, his/her axe skill goes up; if a character gets hit and his/her HP goes down quite a bit as a result, his/her HP will increase at the end of the battle as a result; if a character uses a lot of magic, his/her MP will increase; and the list continues. It's really a system that reacts to your characters uses rather than just giving you a level after acquiring so many experience points. To me, it's a very interesting leveling up system, but it can be very troublesome to figure out a steady medium for when you go into dungeons and have to face the bosses at the end of each.


Square was already demonstrating its desire to be creative way, way back then. The battle system was a cool idea for its time, even if there are things about it that get annoying quickly. And hey, there are all sorts of battle systems even now, after all this time, that don't get the formula completely right!

All in all, I think that FFII is a game that demonstrated Square's push to create interesting storylines and innovative spins on the tried-and-true systems of the past. Despite its flaws, I really enjoyed it, and I hope you will too!

After I get finished with Final Fantasy 2, Final Fantasy 3 will be here for the Nintendo DS. But because I'm a poor college student that barely has enough to get through the week on food, I think I'm going to wait and see if I can get someone in my family to be a nice person and get it for me for Christmas. Until Christmas, I believe I'm going to try and conquer Final Fantasy Tactics (can't you tell I'm in a Final Fantasy mood?). After Christmas, maybe I'll have FF3 for the DS and then I can officially start making my way through that game.


Now THAT is exciting! It hasn't really dawned on me that my MOST WANTED game since Dragon Quest VIII is coming out in just a week and a half. Wow! I am absolutely certain you're going to love Final Fantasy III, because it represents such a remarkable transition between the NES games and the SNES ones. A "dynamic" job system, summons, and all sorts of other familiar abilities (like "Jump"ing... teehee!) get introduced in the third Final Fantasy game. I'm pumped.

My question starts here: A long, long time ago, I started Final Fantasy Tactics, got really far, and somehow got into a lot of different things (school, work, homework, etc) and had to take a longer than wanted break, thus making me really forget what the game was all about (I HATE THAT!). So instead of starting it again right away, I just left it in the backlog and decided to play something else. However, I really enjoyed that game and because of that game I have Vandal Hearts 1 and 2, games similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. I was just curious but could you tell me of other games that are available that are similar to games such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Vandal Hearts that are for the more recent generation of systems (Playstation, PS2, Gamecube, DS, Advance)? I would really appreciate it because I enjoy the games that involve strategy with the RPG element rolled into them.

Until I write again...




Oh, MAN! It sounds like you're a budding Tactical RPG player!

I highly recommend that you check out Fire Emblem (either for the GBA or the Gamecube), if you haven't already. If you like strategy combined with RPG, which you say you do, I really think that you'll love the games.

Otherwise, you could always look for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. I know it comes under fire quite often, but regardless, I still found it to be enjoyable in many ways, and it would serve as a good way for you to get more into the genre. Finally, if you're into the idea of trying something a little bit different, there's always the fun/weird Disgaea; Disgaea 2 was just released a couple of months ago, and it's pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!

Best of luck! I can't wait to hear if you get into any of these new games. Report back when you do!

Bowing out...

Well, it was fun while it lasted. I was hoping to go for the cohosting session that was left, but it looks like I couldn't reach it in time, so I'll make my exit now. Don't worry, I'll be back for the next SOCK, whenever that may be!


Sometime early next year, as long as you guys want it to happen. I have many ideas stirring, and unless I get some indication that people don't want it to happen, you'll hear the first details next week!

Also, there might still be one more chance for a cohost... but you'll have to wait and see.

I guess I'll try to write something for the column just so this isn't a total waste of space. It's kinda seemed like you haven't had the money or time to buy games right when they come out. Does that ever bother you? I've been in kind of the same situation since I got out of school. The only thing that really gets to me is that I have a kind of big backlog of games that I really would like to play, including picking up a DS. Then I also remember that waiting this late to play them also means I can pick up all of those games used and discounted, and don't worry about it as much.


Well, for me, it's more of a time issue than a money issue. I could afford games pretty well, I think, but I can't afford to spend a lot of time on them when I have multiple assignments on the go, a hundred papers to mark every weekend, two tutoring students to stay on top of, and four Q&A columns to take care of every week! It's a lot, given the time I have. I'm kind of hoping that a meteor strikes the world obliquely, such that the Earth's rotation slows very slightly (by a few hours, tops). What do you think?

In the end, it bothers me a lot, because while video gaming isn't quite as essential as air to me, it's just about necessary to keep me mentally healthy. Does that mean that they've become a dependency, almost? Hmmm.

That brings up another question, what's the best deal you ever found on a game? I've found you have to go places you would least expect them to be selling games, because they're the ones who don't realize how cheap they're selling them for. Case in point: I went into a store with friends and noticed a lot of old music CDs, not expecting to buy anything. After looking around, I found a whole bunch of used PS2 games. On a hunch, I looked through them to see if I might find anything interesting and found the original Shadow Hearts, a good 4 years or so after its release, and after a few months of searching through a few branches of EB Games for it. After finding it, I had this conversation with the cashier:

Arpijy: "Hey, how much for this one?"

Cashier: "Let me see...*searches book*...$12 plus tax."

Arpijy: *immediately pulls out debit card* "Deal!"

I still like to brag about this one to my friend who paid $30 or so for it on eBay.

-- Arpijy


Oh, right on... good for you!

The best deal I ever found definitely happened three years ago, as I was Christmas shopping for my brother. In the local EB Games, I was stewing about, looking here and there for a different idea, and then I stumbled upon Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, which had just been reduced in price to a bizarrely-economical $19.99. Yes, please. For a game I ended up enjoying so much, I thought the value was incredible!

Anyway, just think of it this way: The fact that you have such a big backlog must mean that the RPG genre is in good shape, right? Thanks for your letter, Arpijy!

*cracks knuckles*

(cont'd from yesterday) Now I'm going to give you music from a game I haven't mentioned in awhile, and have never sent music from before: Tales of Phantasia. Olive is a desert town, but that music doesn't really make me think of a desert.


No, not at all. In fact, I've got images of Mario Kart courses that never were. Don't you think that sounds a bit like one of those games?

As for my Tales of Phantasia progress; I've been moving along a bit lately, although I'm currently in the Heimdall forest and it is INFURIATING me with its propensity to appear virtually identical from space to space. I FINALLY found a save point after wandering about frantically for half an hour this morning. Tales of Phantasia was clearly not originally designed for a portable system when there is no save option outside of save points and the overworld. But I am enjoying the game, despite the irritating random battles. They're my bane today!


I have to admit, I rarely use those instant-save features on my portable games anyway, because especially lately, I can sometimes go for a week or more between picking it up from one time to the next. I'd totally forget what I was in the middle of doing!

I do believe you misread my earlier query. I was not inquiring as to whether a good game will ever be based on a movie (and I like a few movie-based games, although I readily admit the vast majority are truly terrible). Instead, I openly wondered if a MOVIE based on a GAME will ever be good. Tomb Raider bored me, I can't remember much of the Super Mario Bros. movie, I think the Mortal Kombat movies were very true to the games, and sadly my uncle actually treated me to see the Street Fighter movie on Christmas Day, 1995. Aside from that, I don't think I've seen any movies based on games. Oh wait, the Final Fantasy movie - but it bored me. Can it be done?


No. I don't know. No.

Mario Brothers really was that terrible. Mario and Luigi are cartoon characters, and Goombas are cute little evil mushrooms, not big ugly thugs. Ugh. I remember being so miffed after watching that horrible flick, and I was probably only nine or ten years old when I did, too.

And yes, Final Fantasy was really boring too; in fact, I fell asleep in the theatre for a small portion of it (no joke). The funny thing to me is that the people that loved The Spirits Within were all non-RPG players, at least in my bubble. The rest of my family enjoyed the movie, but I yawned and sighed and shook my head through the whole thing. Ah well.

I think the potential IS there, but I don't know if it's ever going to be one that is fully attained. A REAL Final Fantasy movie might be pretty neat, if totally fleshed out, but I'd probably still be annoyed, since the transition from 30 hours or more to 3 hours or less is, well, a lossy reduction.

And yes, seeing Street Fighter on Christmas was an odd experience. If you truly desire it, I can wrack my brain for further details.

Another game I haven't sent you music from before, and I don't think I've ever mentioned directly to you is Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. The tunes in this one I remember instantly upon playing them again, although I haven't played the game itself in about 3 years (but it's good enough for me not to ever sell). Underground Reservoir tells you about all about the setting that would be desired without playing the game.

As long as I'm on a Castlevania heading, here's one from Symphony of the Night (and not the Saturn-only stuff, so you'll hear it whenever you get sucked into the game. As you WILL.) Boss tune, this one. Get that air guitar going now, because when you're locked in combat there's no time to goof!


Now, I have always loved Castlevania music. I have a lot of much older music on my computer. In fact, I used to spend time listening to the songs in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse's secret sound test on the title screen with my brother, who had a certain affinity for the music "Riddle" at a young age.

These are cool too. Thanks for sharing.

Hm. I feel compelled to say a bit more regarding Sakura Wars. Once I got into my groove regarding these titles, I actually do feel more and more like any English localization would be an affront to my newfound sensibilities. The seiyuu voicing these characters in Japan have done it so much as to BECOME the characters. Sure I've watched the OVAs and movie and TV show, but I just can't picture this series dubbed. Kanzaki Sumire is voiced by Tomizawa Michie, who cannot be replicated; same for all the other characters, but Sumire's 'Oh ho ho ho ho ho!' pops into my mind at present.

Picture what the Germans do: EVERYTHING going into Germany gets dubbed if it receives a theatrical or television release. I've watched a bit of Return of the Jedi dubbed into German, that was odd. The point is, the Germans dub everything, and they have certain dubbers who always dub certain actors. Nicholas Cage has a full-time dubber, Gwyneth Paltrow has a full-time dubber, etc. But doesn't that sound incredibly strange to think about for anyone used to hearing actors speak with their voices instead of having the sound and lip movements not match?

Huh, that kinda diverged from Sakura Wars. But I think there's a principle I'm too batty to tie together buried somewhere in that paragraph. While I'm on Sakura Wars though, there's one fascinating fellow named Kayama who likes to pop into Ohgami(the player-controlled protagonist)'s path with a guitar. He also likes to hang upside down akin to a bat. Then he'll utter some saying that helps Ohgami come to terms with whatever character is having a problem at the time, and depart again with an 'Adios!' Yep, 'Adios' in mid-1920's Japan. It's this kind of stuff that makes me eagerly await the opportunity to play Sakura Wars 3 on the Dreamcast, just so I can get into the Paris cast's groove. That will have to wait a bit, unfortunately. Even the $25 or so it would cost on eBay, plus the DC-X adapter to get my Dreamcast playing imports, is something I have to wait on for adequate cash availability. But I WILL get it, and Sakura Wars 4!


OK, I'm going to address your dubbing thing above, first: There ARE times where dubbing just doesn't work. I'm actually finding that the english dubbing I've seen in FFXII so far is a little irritating, mostly because of the fact that the development crews have gone to such lengths to create such detailed speech motions. At times, I'd be more in favour of subtitles; indeed, I'd watch many foreign movies in subtitles long before I'd watch a dubbed version (though that's just me, and some people would hate that idea).

I wish you the best of luck in obtaining more of this newfound love of yours, no matter how you end up doing so. I'm glad you're enjoying it!

One more random Sakura Wars note; thanks to it I'm picking up some Hiragana. I picked up Katakana, Hiragana isn't any harder to learn - with the major caveat of it usually being for Japanese words instead of words borrowed from another language (usually English). But there are about the same number of characters (a little over one hundred) so it's doable. Kanji on the other hand - I can recognize a very few symbols, nothing more. BUT - one fascinating thing about Kanji is the way characters can be combined to create new ones. Wouldn't it be cool to have a name that doesn't look like anyone else's on the paper? Kohran and Orihime have incredibly ornate names that I can't begin to replicate when they're written in Kanji. That aspect I must commend with regard to the language.


I know!! If I ever had the opportunity, it would have been really neat to take a few courses in Japanese. I can't begin to imagine how awesome it would be to know that if I wanted to, I could import games that are unavailable for purchase here. And you're right: The language is just so darn cool. I learned some of the kana myself a long time ago, just for fun, but most of it has since fallen out of my brain, replaced by math... stuff. Alas, though, because there aren't any available Japanese courses at my university. How sad. Keep up the good work, yourself, though! It's this sort of thing that can make video games a neat learning tool; suck that, JT.

Okey dokey, more music! This time we're featuring Dragon Force 1 and 2. It's not really fair to compare the music though, different composers did the two titles. This is Fandaria's theme in 1; Fandaria being the country that starts the war leading to the entire game's addictive combat. And here is Fandaria's theme in Dragon Force 2: I'm less sure on exactly what goes on in 2, but certainly once again Fandaria has commanders who are normally enemies on its side. Another Dragon Force 2 musical item for your consideration: This is the track my stepfather proclaimed to remind him of 'Conan music.' Does it sound like something a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been well-suited to 'acting' in front of to you? (And I can jest with regard to the Governator because he is the Governator of the state I currently live in. How many of the rest of you have governors recognizable around the world?)


Certainly not here, as we have premiers rather than "governors"! The music isn't overly barbarianish, I don't think. I wouldn't associate it with Conan, myself, anyway.

Anyway, you sure were feeling musical in this e-mail, weren't you? The first two seem to be pretty standard RPG fare, honestly. Not bad, but nothing more than I'd expect, I guess. I think that overall, I prefer the second to the first; there are more interesting things to listen to in the music.

Does it ever bug you when the game clock keeps going while something unavoidably draws your attention away? Doesn't matter how devoted you are, if someone makes a phone call, a loud noise occurs outside and you need to investigate, a chore gets into your face with its imminence, the clock will keep running. I don't like having my time displayed being not quite representative of how long I was actually playing!


Oh, not at all. I'm forever guilty of running off to do other things while leaving games running, and I always have been. My mom and dad would call me to dinner, and I would sometimes leave games running for up to three hours as I chowed down, did the dishes, did homework, and more. In the end, it inflates my "playtime" even more, since I tend to play through games to begin with. However, it would be nice if more games came with an option to pause the clock; you know, hitting the Start button to take a break is a concept that has been around for twenty-some years!

Hee hee - another musical item for your sampling (I'm outdoing myself today!) comes from Lunar 2. To talk much about Mystere would spoil one of the more charming moments of the game, so I'll let Mystere's theme speak for itself:


Nifty. My only hope of ever playing Lunar 2 is to get another shipment from Montrťal Sean sometime, since he's such a nice guy, and even then, only if I ever find the time. Ugh.

With all this talk about music: which RPG you have played a sufficient portion of to judge has the worst music? And in a somewhat response to JuMeSean (ha ha! But you have to work MUCH harder to deserve the title!) as I play my games in my own room, unless I blast the volume way too loud I hear everything the game has to offer. Except in a few isolated instances when the music irritated me so very much to make me slap headphones on and listen to something else. Sword of Vermilion did that, but since I elaborated upon it at length I'd rather not relive the drudgery again yet.


Oh, there's no question in my mind as to what RPG I've played that has the worst music: YOUNG MERLIN. That lesser-known game coincidentally has the worst of everything, and constitutes the most idiotic waste of time I've ever spent, I think, on a video game rental (AND I've rented a game entitled "Tom and Jerry", too). Yuck.

Ahh, random question! Does Guardian Heroes strike you as worthy of being listed on RPGamer? If you haven't heard of it, a quick little symposium by me is in order. First: developed by Treasure (those with poor reflexes need not apply) for the Saturn in 1996. It's a genre-bending title, with the most recognizable part being the beat-em-up. But it is not JUST a beat-em-up. Characters gain experience, which can be assigned to beefing up statistics at the end of every level. Magic is also used, by some characters more than others. There are branching paths; it's impossible to see everything in the game on the first, second, or even third playthrough - too many choices to make. And the story is kinda goofy but still a lot more involved than the standard beat-em-up. There's probably a Wikipedia entry on it. Why don't I give you a piece of music to attach to my short description, eh?


Interesting; Wikipedia describes it as being a platformer with RPG elements, just as you say, and then classifies it AS an RPG! There aren't really any screenshots to judge it by, there, though. From the sounds of it, if experience and character-strengthening is involved as a result, I'd say that sure, it's at the very least "RPG-like". The music is a bit frenetic, though!

I'll doubtless have to cave in and buy a DS sometime next year. What recommendations on the system might you have, Master Slimey? Understand that I am hesitant to upgrade because I remember what happened when I bought my GBA - I immediately went onto eBay to acquire a worthy library for the thing and wound up with some Hong Kong GBA titles (the games worked just fine, the boxes looked funny and had abbreviated instruction manuals) which disconcerted me. Just know that I WILL go for a good DS library upon acquiring one, and trying to dissuade me is akin to dissuading you from singing the praises of Dragon Quest. So recommendations will be nice.


If you're going to import the most crazily obscure games ever from all ends of the earth, you're going to run into things like that from time to time, I'm afraid, no matter what system you're getting them for!

Hopefully these are worthy enough for you, though: If you like classic side-scrolling, you owe it to yourself to try the New Super Mario Brothers, because it's just awesome. Also, if you like Castlevania, as you do, I bet you'd like either of the DS titles, one of which I'm playing through currently. Those might provide a good starting point, and then you could buy Final Fantasy III to revel in its greatness once you're through them!

Speaking of eBay - remember my joy in acquiring Shadowrun for the Genesis? That has turned into an unpleasant action, because the seller has gotten nothing but negative feedback recently and did nothing but take my money. No messages from the scum, no reply whatsoever. It's been over 5 weeks since the auction ended - no excuses for the seller! Negative feedback has been left, I'm going to have Paypal try getting my money back. This is an unusual experience for me though, 99% of my eBay transactions have been pretty smooth.


Yuck. That's no fun. I guess it's the risk you take when you plunge into the online shopping world, but still, it's unfortunate that those people aren't disciplined more severely than they are currently. Certainly, things happen from time to time, but if they have had consistent negative feedback lately, then something should be done, in my opinion.

Oh, and with regard to reviews once again: EGM seems to do a pretty good job of having all three people complete the game. And if someone doesn't complete it (usually in the case of something REALLY bad or in the case of something like an MMORPG) they'll mention it. Doesn't necessarily invalidate all your objections with reviews, but I still find them useful in detailing titles I might be interested in, and spotlighting games I wouldn't play unless paid to.


It's definitely a plus if they do state that they haven't played it through. However, I would then argue that they shouldn't even be writing the review if they didn't finish the game, so that hurdle should never have to be leapt, in my opinion. Really discouraging is that a lot of online reviews seem to pay just too much attention to graphical beauty of games while giving other aspects just a nod. Gamespot will never give a game with terrible graphics a score higher than an 8, because that's just the way it is. It's depressing, but you know where the priorities of some people lie...

Let's have another cryptic statement from the source I will not claim to be! "I believe the next trend in cosmetic surgery will be a procedure that leaves the person with a cryptic smile. Occasionally, of course, the surgeon's hand will slip, and the patient will wind up with a baffled look."



I suppose I can always import Mother 3; translations have to be out there by now. It's just that if I do so, I'll have a few other GBA titles to import also. I was always curious about Magical Vacation and wondered why Nintendo teased us by announcing its English localization and then - nothing....


Well, that's one thing that Nintendo has always managed to do with skill. I've been annoyed by them before, and with the same series; need I say more than the tragedy that was "Earthbound 64"? Of course, they didn't even FINISH that one. Maybe they'll come through. One day. I'm an optimist. Or at least, I try to be...

You've heard Synbios's battle theme, you've heard Medion's: time to hear Julian's! You can say something bad about this if you want, but in return I'll say something bad about Dragon Quest music: I feel very strongly about this track, although there are a few other tracks in the game that inspire even greater passion from me.

Kono reiki ni taerareru ka!?



No, this isn't terribly bad! It's a bit clichťd, but that can be a good thing, depending on what game you're talking about. This would be another one that pulls at my Star Ocean 2 heartstrings...

Anyway, THAT does it for this sucker. I don't know how you do it, JuMeSyn, because wow, if I wrote something like that, I think I'd be too worried that the power would go out while typing and that I'd lose it ALL!

May you be well until next time. And please... smaller doses next time. If you kill me, you'll only have Josh to answer your letters. ^^;;


I have a mildly interesting and random story for you: I was playing Xenosaga III over the weekend late at night, and Tom decided that he wanted to make french fries, due to some craving or something. So, he got out the deep fryer, which hasn't been used in a few months. The oil within looked innocent enough, and the fryer had been sealed the entire time, so he decided to use it. Well, I'm telling you, the entire apartment smelled like... a cross between gasoline and rotten eggs for the two days to follow; it quickly became apparent that the oil was rancid, and the fries were thrown out. But ugh! It made my gaming time highly unpleasant in a most unwelcome way.

So, any pointers on how long is too long to store oil in a deep fryer? Or better yet, how to enjoy playing your favourite RPG while being marinated in noxious vapors of rot? THAT is another "Q" for today, my friends.


For complete contest rules, click here!

Answers to November 1st's Questions

#360. b) 1993 - 1,500 points
No, really. The game was a well-known one, too! Santa Claus transformed into "Frost Gigas" because kids stopped believing in him, or something. Santa is there, Rudolph is too, and the game is Secret of Mana!

#361. a) Zeromus - 1,500 points
These don't work quite as well when few people are participating, ahahaha... let's check out the numbers:

Zeromus: 8 votes (57.1%)
NeoExdeath: 1 vote (7.1%)
Ultimecia: 4 votes (28.6%)
Necron: 0 votes (0.0%)
Yu Yevon: 1 vote (7.1%)

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, but that's a pretty remarkable landslide victory by such an old villain. Good job to those of you who guessed correctly!

Today's New Questions

With regards to Fire Emblem Games, which of the following is a relatively strong weapon when compared to the rest? (1,500 points)

a) Iron Sword
b) Iron Blade
c) Iron Axe
d) Iron Lance
e) Iron Bow

In the Shinra Corporation's theme music, which of the following is true? (1,500 points)

a) the first seven notes are those of a major scale
b) the first seven notes are those of a natural minor scale
c) the first seven notes are those of a harmonic minor scale
d) the first seven notes are those of a melodic minor scale
e) none of the above

SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

3,500 points:
A.P.G. (1 left), Mythril Armor (2 left), or Regen Spell (1 left)

5,000 points:
Any 1st-Level Elemental Spell (1 left), Rare Candy (3 left), or Rename Card (1 left)

7,000 points:
Slowga Spell (2 left), Float Spell (1 left), or Blind Spell (2 left)

10,000 points:
Sneak Glove (1 left), Any Gem (1 left), or Biora Spell (1 left)

14,000 points:
Ultra Sneak Glove (2 left), Nightmare Staff (1 left), or Scan Spell (2 left)

19,000 points:
Mythril Armor (2 left), Warp Stone (1 left), or Wait Mode (1 left)

25,000 points:
Vanish Spell (2 left), Item Bomb (4 left), or Flare Spell (2 left)

32,000 points:
Mythril Shield (1 left), Staff of Aid (2 left), or A.P.G. (2 left)

40,000 points:
Toxic Waste (1 left), Sean's Dictionary of Doom (1 left), or Super Sneak Glove (2 left)

50,000 points:
Regega Spell (3 left), Rebirth Stone (1 left), or Item Destroyer (2 left)

61,000 points:
Flare Spell (1 left), Rare Candy (3 left), or Item Destroyer (2 left)

73,000 points:
Rare Candy (1 left), Cloak of Evasion (2 left), or Regera Spell (3 left)

86,000 points:
Meteor Spell (2 left), Item Bomb (1 left), or Rare Candy(2 left)

100,000 points:
Rare Candy (2 left), Diamond Armor (2 left), or Meteor Spell (1 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!)

  • none to speak of!

SOCK's Prize Shop

Obtain enough points, and you may buy items, merchandise, or guest-hosting positions.

Click here for the current list of potential prizes!


Frankly, I'm not sure what to think about them. I really want the PS3, at least, to be a success, because it seems that the Sony platform is the top RPG platform (am I wrong?). If it were to fail... Actually, I dunno what would happen. What do you think would happen to RPGs in America without the PlayStation? Where would they go, if anywhere?

In the generation-currently-ending, yes, Sony is the top platform. But think back a mere ten years... the SNES was the system for RPGamers, but the Nintendo 64 clumsily fumbled that ball (and quickly!) letting Sony pick up the slack. The PS3 is currently the system with the fewest RPGs announced for it right now, too, though it's hard to say who will win in the end. I'm confident that even without the Playstation, we'd have seen more RPGs for other consoles in the past, and the same should hold true in the future... shouldn't it?

Um uh hi there Matt, you could have waited until after your special collumn to post my piddly little ad, I'm such a bad Arros gomen nasai!!!!

Arros Raikou
*is a terrible man for stealing Matt's sunshine !.!*

Come now! You earned that intro piece, and what were you supposed to do, keep a tally of the number of "Ask Matt" columns as the year has gone by? I think not! And hey, the math gods stole the little sunshine I had left loooong ago, so don't feel bad. ^^


The weekend draws near!


Write a letter to Q&A! Tell me why you hate this place! Tell me what you want changed! Tell me what I could do better! You heard me in the introduction, so now I want to hear from you.

If you'd rather talk about video games, though, there's an infinity of topics to cover there, too. Is anybody else excited about FFIII even more than they are about FFXII? Does anyone have anything at all to say about the release of FFV? And hey, the long, long, long-awaited Twilight Princess is just two weeks away!! It snuck up on us in a hurry, but the day is nearly here. Tell me your thoughts, and I'll counterattack with mine.

Thanks guys, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: No better than mediocre.
Matt didn't include a period in this sentence yesterday! For shame.

Yes, yes, yes. Uh, what? Oh... I seem to have run out of things to say. *charges up power for tomorrow*

Most Recent

Nov. 1: Matt

Oct. 31: Matt

Oct. 30: Josh

Oct. 29: Josh


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About the Host

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What I Want to Play:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

5. Pokťmon Diamond/Pearl

What I'm Playing:

1. Final Fantasy XII

2. Xenosaga: Episode III

3. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

SOCK's Scoreboard

Dueling Glove Holder:

Summon in Play:

HP: 14,830
1. Boojum
503,002 pts

2. Erika
56,686 pts

3. Belthasar2
45,193 pts

4. Kanato
43,149 pts

5. CW
40,874 pts

6. DMJewelle
34,690 pts

7. JuMeSyn
34,009 pts

8. MagRowan
33,454 pts

9. BLG
30,812 pts

10. MrMSty
29,930 pts

11. Ourobolus
29,638 pts

12. Alexander
28,883 pts

13. Arpijy
28,587 pts

14. TV's Adam
28,321 pts

15. Prismatic
26,410 pts

16. Leaper
26,065 pts

17. JokingChimer
25,466 pts

18. Thinkfreemind
23,336 pts

19. Bainick
23,332 pts

20. Kharamain
23,329 pts

21. Laurie
22,050 pts

22. Erunion
21,640 pts

23. Dermot
20,146 pts

24. Arros Raikou
19,355 pts

25. BigWook
19,311 pts

26. Hunter B
18,836 pts

27. LufiaLvr
15,890 pts

28. Draconn
13,985 pts

29. Waterfiend
11,550 pts

30. DDX
11,098 pts

31. Gaijin
10,138 pts

32. Carabbit
10,015 pts

33. Genjuu
9,523 pts

34. Cap
9,205 pts

35. Weretiger Rei
8,935 pts

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