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November 8, 2006

Matt Demers - 22:54 EST

I DROPPED BY THE LOCAL EB Games today, and picked up my brand new copy of Final Fantasy V Advance. It's amazing, isn't it? I have to hand it to Square Enix for catering to gamers who haven't decided to go next-gen yet. They released Final Fantasy Origins on the PS1 well into the lifecycle of the PS2, and now, Final Fantasy V will prove that the GBA is still a worthy little system to have. I'm so proud!

Ah, I don't have too much to say up here today, so I'll leap right into letters today.

There's something about FF4 Advance...

As for sight... Doh, I guess there was (and still is) a Peep spell, too wasn't there? I could've sworn it was Sight in battle as well as out. Sorry didn't mean to slip like that.


Oh, Maggie. It happens to me, and I'm the one who is supposed to know everything about everything (like that will ever be true).

As for FFIV:A... I do realize that the 'original' for the SNES was in fact a FF:lite version as it were. That is not what has taken me by surprise, nor what has made me somewhat sad.

It's the music for one. I've played the original often enough that I have almost every piece of music learned by heart, but this new addition has changed up some of the songs a bit. It's subtle, I know, but still I know it is there, and I think it is subliminally throwing me off a little when I play the game.


Ah yes. I actually do like a lot of the redone themes, but others have some appalling inaccuracies. Like the Tower of Bab-il. Damn! There is ONE note that is exactly one semitone higher in the GBA version than it has been in every other version so far, and it drove me crazy when I was in the same room as my brother, who was playing through it at the time. It was just wrong!! No one except for me seems to have ever noticed this, though, so you might not be bothered by it. Blah.

For two, it's just strange to read the new translation. It's a good translation, I'll admit it, but it's like picking up a Pier Anthony novel to find it has been rewritten by say Robert Jordan. Again it's subtle, but still throws me off a bit.

I guess that's what I get for playing a game enough times that I've got it mostly memorized. Silly of me really, right?


Me too, and no, it's not silly. This sort of observation is the internally produced nostalgia-factor talking. Don't get me wrong, but the original translation was undoubtedly one of the worst in Final Fantasy's history. It's just that the kooky broken speech and odd words that graced the original really grow on you after fifteen years have gone by. I really welcomed the fresh translation, and it sounds like a lot more of the original story made it through the filter this time around.

The big changes that throw me are the addition of items like Dwarven Bread (Sight) and Hourglass (Stop). Just not used to it, I guess.


These are two things that I believe were in the original Japanese version, in fact, along with all of the other one-time-use items. It's incredible that they were all stripped from the first US version. Why does that make the game any easier? And more importantly, why were Protect, Shell, and Dispel - three of the MOST useful pieces of white magic - removed as well? That doesn't seem to easify the game any, does it? The choices that Square made back then really boggle my poor mind.

On a happier note, I finished the journal in KHII, so now I can go on and beat the game with a clear mind. My inner completest has been put to rest on that game. It was amazing, I just lined up the three tasks left, and resolved them in a matter of hours. I've been trying to complete them for months, and they just snapped into place last night. Yeay!

#366 - d) Luminous Intensity
#367 - e) The Hanged Man

Have a great one!
Maggie ^_^


Congrats! It seems like a lot of people are playing through Kingdom Hearts II at the moment! There may be lots of new and exciting games coming out right now, but come on! A lot of us have got a lot of games to finish up first! My poor copy of Grandia III. Sigh.

Thanks, Maggie, for writing in!

Final Fantasy XII observations (there are a few gameplay spoilers, perhaps, so be forewarned)

Hi Matt

You called for letters? I am now about twenty hours into FF12 and have a couple of observations. Unlike most other rpgs in this one I am spending most of my time on team over watch. It is refreshing to just have to observe things like whether the team is attacking correctly and less about pushing the same damn attack button over and over and over again. I like the flexibility that the new gambit system provides. I have several heavies that attack ground based targets quite well. The game through some nasty fliers at me last night but to defeat them all I had to do was equip some magic licenses and change some of the gambit priorities without having to change the basic equipment of the characters. Fascinating.


I'd have to say that I agree, though I'm not quite feeling the love for gambits just yet. Now, I was just introduced to gambit creation a little bit ago, so I haven't gotten into the meat of it yet. Part of me wishes that I could switch between more than one set of gambits per person, given different situations, but perhaps the system there does have enough flexibility.

I currently have one of my allies doing nothing but Steal, which is kind of cool; it takes the pain out of trying over and over to steal unsuccessfully in a normal turn-based battle system, which we've all experienced before (and given up on), I think.

Unlike you I tend to have favourite characters. There are several in this game that I do not care for in the least. As a result I do not play them and they do not advance in levels. Normally this would mean that they would become anemic and useless. Since the characters do accumulate license points even if they are not played this has led to another neat use. I use these characters to explore the license grid. Even unplayed they are then useful. Neat.

Anyway, my two cents.



Ah, yes. I just can't stand to let some characters go into the abyss of uselessness, no matter how crappy they might seem, no matter what game I'm playing. FFXII will be no exception to that rule, I'm sure. Though I guess it depends on the game in general, and how "twisty" the storyline is, who knows when you might need their help?

Thanks for the update! I'll likely get my next dose of the game tonight.

Caution: More FFXII!

Ever wonder, in a game, how far you are into it? I have in FF12 a few times, especially since I take a leisurely pace, storyline-wise, in my constant hunt for subquests and a couple of level/gil gaining expeditions. I'm just about to enter the jungle stage (not very spoilerish, I hope), and I'm on my 32nd or so hour of play, and I wonder how much more I have to go. It FEELS like there's quite a bit more, which'll make FF12 my longest game experience since the infamous Dragon Warrior VII, but I can't find out without spoilering anything for myself, and I'm determined to make it through without a hint of clue for either story or gameplay. I guess I'll just have to find out the hard way: by playing it!


Oh... one of the most annoying things to me is finding OUT how far I am through a game. I really don't like it when games come with "percentage completion" indicators for that reason, and I despise people who find out where I am in an RPG only to respond with "oooh, so you only have like four hours to go until the end!!!" ROAR. If I wanted to know, I'd ask!

That's weird, I know, but spoilers, to me, encompass a wide, wide range of things, and I get really easily annoyed when I hear things that I want to find out for myself, no matter how minor.

Anyway, I have heard that the game is fairly lengthy, and there is a ton of stuff to do outside the main storyline too, it seems. Enjoy the ride, because I think you'll probably have a long way to go.

And I'd like to repeat a question to Josh to you: how are you building (or wanting to build) your FF12 characters? My letter with my character growth is in Josh's last column, so I won't repeat it here!


As with most games featuring customizable-characters, I'm really trying to differentiate every character from each other in a hurry. I refuse to teach Vaan the elementary healing spells for exactly that reason: He's not a white-magey person! I haven't opened more than a few licenses for every character so far, though, so it's hard to tell exactly how they'll branch out in the end, but I really want to aim for very distinct characters, each with unique traits that make them special (and useful). It is the way of me!

Some next-gen speculation!

Greetings Matt!

First off, congrats on prioritising word length - now maybe it won't take me an hour to wade through the column!


I think that it's better for all parties. Not only will readers quit yawning their way through columns; the damn things won't take ME five hours to write up every day. Sure I love RPGamer, but too much of a good thing is not always a good thing, yes? And hey, a thousand words is still a pretty darn long letter.

I promised I'd answer JuMeSyn's stuff, but I'll try to be brief:


Ah, the fallout of giving you one of those letters. Sure, the floor is yours!

- Song is "Dress You Up" by Madonna. I'm not a big fan of 80's music, just that I grew up with it along with tons of boyband music, so while I'd have to thank you for the kind offer, I'm going to pass.

- I actually requested for it since Matt was reluctant to pass your letter. I figured if I'm going to do one Q&A column my whole life, I might as well do something significant, and what better mark to hunt down than one of your legendary long letters?


That's one way to think about it. You did a fine job, too! Perhaps you'll make it back to the captain's chair one day, though; you never know.

- My reflexes are bunk in action games, but I can play DDR Hard Mode and Pop'n Music and other music games no problem. I could take on Sonic, but it takes a little more effort than the God-given reflexes of guys. Is there something wrong with me or is this just a horrible malady of being a female gamer, Matt? ;__;


Hey, you're looking at a guy whose only high school sports experience was being on the curling team. For one semester. As the weakest player. I slipped and fell on the ice spine-shatteringly at least eleven times. Reflexes? Not for me. In video games, I'm a bit better; I maintain that I am better than at least 99.9% of the population when it comes to Tetris Attack (my brother is in the top 0.01%) and boy, does THAT game require reflexes!

Anyway, no, there's nothing wrong with you at all. Nine out of ten doctors agree.

- I'm not too sure about the complete end of Sakura Wars, but Sumire's character as well as the seiyuu have retired (not quite a spoiler since it was heavily publicised in Japan), so if any more of the seiyuu retire, we'll see more characters leave the show. It's definitely preferable to having a replacement seiyuu, since fans deeply associate the characters with their voices.

- Stalin, since at least his regime enabled women to be freer.


Okay, I don't even remember what questions these address, so I'll leave them to you, sir J, and the both of you can bask in your Sakura Wars bubble. (I'm such an enabler.)

And now to be on topic, I've a question for Matt. I read an article that the PS3 will either make or break Sony. They've got a 100,000 units ready for shipping in Japan, with an expected loss due to Cell technology research. Is there a reason why they don't want to produce more, or would it just incur more losses than if they were to understock? Since they say the PS3's sales will gradually cover the cost of the research, wouldn't producing more cover it faster? Am I making any sense?

Have a good week ahead!

#364: (a)
#365: (c)



Part of me suspects that Sony is purposefully holding off for awhile, because with every month that passes, the technology will likely become cheaper to produce. As it stands, they are suffering heavy losses, and it's all to try their darnedest to control the next generation media race. There is honestly so much hype, though, that I'm not sure that the Playstation 3 could ever be a complete and utter failure at this point, despite all of the mishappenings.

An interesting note: In remarkable contrast to Sony's bleaker financial picture, apparently Nintendo is projected to make a nearly disgusting profit of one hundred billion yen (almost $1 billion, in US funds) this year. As a company, it's doing fantastically in comparison to its multitasking competitors, even though it's really seen most of its success in the handheld market lately. If Wii catches fire too, then wow. The sky's the limit. It makes you wonder why on earth they're going to charge such an exorbitant amount for the darn controllers...

Matt casts "Condense"!

'Whoooa, a storm is threatenin', my very life today, if I don't get some shelter, whoooa I'm gonna fade away. War, children! It's just a shot away, it's just a shot away! War, children! It's just a shot away, it's just a shot away!'

NAME THAT SONG! I accept no excuses here, Matt. This is hardly an obscure song - and I've even mentioned the group that performs it in Q&A before (long time ago though).


Rolling Stones! Gimme Shelter! And I definitely, most certainly did not use Google search to figure that out (really) (no, really). And I never lie!! NEVER would I ever do something like that. Seriously.

Popular music, old and new, is just not something that I pay attention to. I have far, far greater interest in kicking back and listening to Xenosaga soundtracks; I dunno. I never got into it at all when I was growing up, and now, I just don't care too much. *shrug*

Heh heh heh - I'm going to give you this link. What you do with it is your business, I only ask that you look at what is onscreen and decide if the game warrants the thorough trashing it receives:

I have to admit that I had a really good laugh while reading this "review". You guys should take a look, if you like seeing horrible-looking old games; plus, the people who wrote it seem to have a really good sense of humour. Just from a glance, it looks pretty darn bad. I think it's pretty safe to say that we won't see anything like this grace Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console, wouldn't you say?

Do you have any thoughts about the Summon Night games Atlus has recently brought over the Pacific for the venerable GBA? As genuine GBA titles that people on the message boards tell me are worthwhile, I'm giving consideration to them.


I haven't played them either, but I know a couple of people who have, and both of them seem to have really enjoyed it. There have been two games released in North America, and both this year; they are supposed to be funny and worthwhile, so perhaps you should give 'em a whirl and get back to me!

Arrrgh. Remember that Sword of Vermilion I brought up? I talked at much greater length to Josh about the game than I did to you - research his columns for full details. In short; I have given it up thanks to the shoddiest boss controls I've ever seen. Act Raiser was positively glowing compared to this crap. In essence, a boss fight takes place akin to a fighting game - although the boss's sprite is roughly 5 times my own size. All my character can do is duck and swing his sword. He can't move fast, he can't jump, he has no ranged attack. I somehow beat an INCREDIBLY IRRITATING boss that threw high and low fireballs at me just by getting lucky on the third try, then I ran into a flying boss. If the controls were better its pathetic AI would be easy, but nooooo, my character moved too slowly to get out from under it as the thing landed. Repeated hits were landed thanks to it sitting on top of me, then it flew up and LANDED ON ME AGAIN! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! In case I wasn't clear above, this discomfited me. I don't like losing to a boss in 10 seconds. I DON'T LIKE IT!


Indeed. Play control has come a long, long way over the years, hasn't it? I think that a big part of the challenge in many "classic" games was finding ways to overcome awkward controls, you know? Think of how difficult it is to make precise jumps in the original Mario, for example. Castlevania for the NES comes to mind, too. Things like this can be really, really frustrating, even for those of us who still find a place in our hearts for these oldies!

Ah well. You're bound to hit a lemon every now and then.

And here's a Symphony of the Night track to tantalize you. While I COULD give you another Saturn-exclusive piece ( and probably will in the future - nya ha ha ha!) this is on every version. And it's rather cool. RPGamers who have played it ought to recognize the groove.


Not bad, not bad. Not the best piece of music I've heard from the game so far, though, I have to say.

While I'm thinking about this; there is apparently no bonus in any way to Marth (or whoever the lord in FE 2 is) to compensate for lacking promotion. And in fact Marth's stat growths are supposedly worse than Eliwood's by far, leading many people to question his inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Melee when he apparently stinks. I will give you my own findings when they are available.


Yeah, Marth was a bit of a random inclusion in SSBM. Maybe Eliwood, Hector, or Lyn will make the cut for Super Smash Brothers Brawl, though!

Even though I know I complained a lot that my Eliwood wasn't very useful as a Lord, he really bucked up and grew nicely by the end. Still, he was far from the most powerful, and it's hard to imagine a main character who would be even less special in terms of power. Man, it would be so awesome if Nintendo ever decided to bring over some of those older Fire Emblem games though, so that we could see for ourselves.

And now we go into my current obsession of Sakura Wars. I'm debating over whether to play it again immediately after finishing or head on the Sakura Wars 2. Y'see, there are multiple endings depending upon which of the Teikokukagekidan is most in my favor at game's end. Along with different scenes also dependent upon who is most in my (well, Ohgami's) favor along the way. I realize being the only male member of a fighting force isn't really your thing, but the game is quite akin to playing an anime. There isn't as much voice acting as really should be present with that concept, but then it's only on 2 CDs. And there is plentiful voice acting as it stands, I would just like more. Especially since I understand things when they are spoken that I wouldn't get just by looking at the Japanese text onscreen.

That brings me to a central difficulty of enjoying Sakura Wara: it is very gaijin- protective. If you haven't heard this term, it refers to having pieces of the game that cannot be understood without Japanese knowledge. Sakura Wars is set in the early 20's, meaning that to better capture the mood of that era very little Katakana is used - and what IS used frequently spells out Japanese words that make no sense anyway. Such as a 'mogiri' - that is spelled out in Katakana, but do you know what it is? According to context it's a ticket-taker. Or a 'hebi' - apparently that's a word for snake. I'm slowly picking up some Hiragana thanks to its prominent usage here, but Hiragana is harder to work with than Katakana because it always spells out Japanese words instead of words that (usually) originate in another language.

So how do I deal with it? By going to GameFAQs, copying out the translation a very kind person put of 95% of the game, putting it into Notepad, and reading it as I go along. It makes a BIG difference to know what people are saying. The FAQ doesn't deal with the battles, because they really won't be a challenge to figure out - although since all the options are in Kanji in battle some trial is necessary to gauge exactly what does what.

This is why I'm so angry at Sega of America (nothing new, that). As Sega releases Sakura Wars titles in Japan it ought to be Sega's bailiwick to bring the titles over the ocean, and it has manifestly failed to do this. The manga is currently being released, all but the most recent anime has been brought - by companies not Sega - yet the start of the Sakura Wars craze remains in Japan. Why, Sega, WHYYYY?


Because, JuMeSyn, they're just mean. Mean!

Considering how difficult the language can be to pick up in the first place, I think you're doing a fantastic job with it. It must be a decent game, considering how much effort you're evidently putting into this!

I don't know how you do it in the first place, honestly. I tried to play a few games in Japanese, back in the day, but I just didn't have the patience at all to look up translations to everything I come across. If only I were born in Japan...

I guess Sega just decided (arbitrarily, perhaps) that North Americans wouldn't lap up the title. It's an unfortunate reality of being a video gamer in the western world, I'm afraid; just be glad that you don't live in Europe.

Okay, enough Sakura Wars for now. I'll just ask you this, Earl of Slimes: how did it come to pass that you completed Chrono Cross and not Chrono Trigger?


I never have the ambition to just finish off the final boss once I get far enough in the game! I've made several attempts at beating Chrono Trigger, the latest being about a year ago, but ugh. The boss goes through sooooo many phases, and it gets boring after awhile, and after spending 40 minutes just to get Game Over, the thought of going back to the game makes me not want to. If I don't fight him directly, going another route leads to a dungeon that seems overly challenging given the power of my characters, too. Grr. I have my saved game, but I just lack the desire to do anything with it. It's sad.

I really like Chrono Trigger a lot more than I liked Chrono Cross. I actually borrowed the sequel from my friend, Ken, along with his Playstation and Final Fantasy VIII, back when I was without, and that's when I played through it. It was a more frustrating game, overall, but I did eventually get to the end of it, probably so that I could talk about it with Ken. I honestly don't remember too much about it, though. Is that bad? Anyhow, that's my story.

I think we've had enough Shining Force III voice acting for awhile. Listen now to Synbios's battle theme in Scenario 1: It never fails to get me energized for stomping enemy hides into the dirt.

Kitare, rengoku no hono yo!


Ah, this is the Synbios' theme that you were talking about in the last letter of yours I posted! It's a bit meaty, and definitely very soldiery, though it definitely retains the sound of the other music in the game. Not bad, but knightly themes are rarely my favourites.

That's all for now, JuMeSyn! Thanks for your letter.


Now, thanks to Dawn of Sorrow, I've gone on a big Castlevania kick. I think that one of the most endearing things about the game is that all sorts of enemies that have been around since the original games that I played are here and in DS form; I'm finding the game slightly addictive, and a bit tugging-at-the-ol'-heartstrings-ish. I want Portrait of Ruin. I want. I want, I want, I want!

Also, any fears I had about Final Fantasy XII being "too easy" have been totally blown out of the water. This is, honest to goodness, the hardest game I've played in a very long time. No joke.


For complete contest rules, click here!

Answers to November 7th's Questions

#366. e) Magnetic Induction - 2,000 points
Oh ho ho, yes. There's a character called "Tesla" in the game, according to a couple of FAQs I read online. I was GOING to say that yeah, I can create good trivia about games I've never played, but apparently there are other sources that list his name as "Telsa". What an annoyance. Anyway, look up the word in the dictionary if you've never heard it before. Or take a first-year physics course, like the one I nearly failed. <3 In any case, because this question may or may not be correct (I hate the internet), everyone who tried this question will get the points.

#367. d) The Fool - 2,000 points
According to Boojum, this refers to the tarot cards used in Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen. Good job to all of you who guessed this one correctly!

Today's New Questions

Which of the following SOCK items cannot be leveled up using a "Rare Candy"? (2,500 points)

a) Summon Encyclopedia
b) Rare Candy
c) Six-Fingered Sneak Glove
d) Item Supermagnet
e) Meteoga Spell

The very first Medal King of the Dragon Warrior series made his home nearest to which of the following? (2,500 points)

a) A cave housing a piece of armor with storyline significance.
b) The place where your second ally joins your team in the final chapter.
c) A tower in which you can fight King Metals.
d) An enormous desert.
e) The dungeon containing the strongest sword in the game.

These are the fourth and third-to-last questions that will be involved in SOCK! Isn't it sad? I'm a little misty just thinking about it.

SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

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10,000 points:
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14,000 points:
Ultra Sneak Glove (2 left), Nightmare Staff (1 left), or Scan Spell (2 left)

19,000 points:
Mythril Armor (1 left), Rare Candy (3 left), or Wait Mode (1 left)

25,000 points:
Vanish Spell (1 left), Item Bomb (4 left), or Flare Spell (1 left)

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

40,000 points:
Rename Card (2 left), Rare Candy (3 left), or Point Quadrupler (3 left)

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

61,000 points:
Meteor Spell (2 left), Rare Candy (3 left), or Economizer (2 left)

73,000 points:
Rare Candy (2 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)

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Now I don't plan to get a PS3 in the near future, but if I did, there is a major factor that would play into it. I've read a lot of things saying it will play PS2 games, but nothing about playing old PSX games. Do any of you know whether it will play both PSX and PS2, or only PS2? Thanks.

I'm 100% positive that it will play all games dating back to the PS1 era! I'd be 100% upset if it didn't, too. :)


That will be all for today! It's time to float off to Final Fantasy V land, while I don't have giga-assignments staring me down. Please, write in, and you might find yourself on Q&A one day soon! See you tomorrow~

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