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ASK MATT
Ahead On Our Way
November 9, 2006

Matt Demers - 22:54 EST

ONE THING THAT I FIND is that every time I have some massive assigment to do, I end up getting papers strewn all over my room, and the space ends up falling into an obscene state of ruin. Yes, it looks like a pigsty in here, as my mom would say, and it's all in the name of math homework. Actually tidying up the aftermath usually takes quite some time, too, because hey- who feels like spending hours cleaning after working for a billion hours straight? Yes, a billion. EIGHT zeros on that one. Oops, nine. (Bad Matt!)

OK! It's time to begin today's letters before we launch into the very last SOCK questions of the contest. *sniffle*




LETTERS
There's something about FF4 Advance...


Hey Matt!

Long time reader, first time writer. I didn't remember Final Fantasy V to be so good! I couldn't resist picking it up yesterday and I've been playing it while my brother watches TV, precluding me from playing FFXII. There's something about classic FF's that is simply irresistible. Oh! And if you want the original intro and title screen, just wait a bit on the Advance title screen, and you'll be treated to the beloved 'Bartz riding on Boko to the sound of Ahead On Our Way' intro!

Matt

It's kind of funny, isn't it? I remember the days when we didn't know if we'd ever see Final Fantasy V over here, and I remember how excited everyone was when it was announced that the game would be ported to the PS1. It's amazing that those days were what, eight years ago now? The game already pulls at the old nostalgia-related heartstrings.

Speaking of which, what's your favourite intro/title screen of any RPG? Hands down, nothing beats Chrono Trigger for me (I'm talking about the intro movie when you wait 10 seconds or so on the title scree, for this particular case). The opening of Secret of Mana always sends chills down my spine. I'm also very very fond of FFV's intro. The opening of Dragon Quest VIII is a masterpiece of epic proportions. Finally, I have to include FFXII too because someone had the genius to use the Prologue ON the title screen! YESSS! I always spend at least 1-2 minutes on the title screen just to hear that piece.

Cheers!
~Marc


Matt

I have to say that the openings of both Dragon Quest VIII and Final Fantasy XII are indeed quite incredible. I'm not the kind of person who pays a great deal of attention to opening screens, though, as I usually just smack the Start button to get the game going. I'll tell you, though- when the title screen theme music of Dragon Quest VIII played for the first time almost exactly one year ago, now, I was absolutely euphoric. If I had an anthem of my own, that theme music would be it. So, I'd have to say that DQVIII is probably my most favourite, yes.

Thanks for contributing, Marc! Please, write again sometime soon. :)



Surprisingly difficult? How surprising.


Hey Matt!

I am an idiot. I somehow completely missed the fact that there is a character named Tesla. How could it have been more obvious...

Matt

Hey, it happens to the best of us. I suppose that it could theoretically have been more obvious; say, if one of the characters had the name "UnitForMagneticInduction", but that seems like a highly improbable thing, hmm? Don't sweat it too much.

On your difficulty note, when you say that the game is one of the hardest you've played in a long time, is that only relative to the recent trend of watered down games, or would it actually earn a place of difficulty in the SNES days? I'm kind of curious, and I'm all about non-spoilerific info about the game, since I get to wait another month and a half (notice I never mentioned it by name, accursed Dictionary of Doom!).

Matt

Oh, no no no no. When I say difficult, I mean difficult, in absolute terms. Maybe this hasn't been the experience for everybody, but the last dungeon I was in had me fighting enemies almost nonstop, and they really weren't trivial to best. In fact, the game gets a lot harder if battles "progress" in the wrong way. I often find that during the scuffles and shuffling and chaos of combat in the game, a single battle can tend to meander down a hallway over time. The problem with that is, you get closer to other enemies, and they join in on the fun, making things more challenging yet. I saw the Game Over screen three times while playing yesterday, and that's more times than I died in the entirety of Final Fantasy X, I think.

The game is surprisingly hard, too, in that MP costs are quite, quite high compared to past games. My best mages have just over 40 MP, and my lowest character's HP is just under 300. However, to cast "Cure" costs a whopping 8 MP, and generally restores a little under 100 HP to a single character! Add to that the fact that money is quite difficult to come by compared to past Final Fantasy games, and you've got a happy Matt. The cakewalk is gone, everybody! The challenge is back.



What's your take on reviews?


I wanted to ask what everyone thinks of that 1up.com review of Neverwinter Nights 2 that got pulled.

If you didn't hear about it, some guy at 1up gave NWN2 a 5 out of 10, and wrote a review in which he panned the game for being all about numbers and strict adherence to the boring tradition of D&D rules, or something like that. He even acknowledged that the score would go up about three or four points for fans of D&D. He then proceeded to be crucified by D&D nerds (which the dude actually predicted in the article), 1up pulled his review and said it had something to do with the review not meeting their typical editorial standards.

Matt

Hmm. I hadn't heard about that until now, but I'm not sure where I stand. Continue.

Much was made of his "comparison" of the game to Oblivion, but near as I can tell he only brought it up once to discuss level design, in a relatively innocuous way that might actually be applicable across different RPG sub-genres, though it isn't likely.

Unless I flat-out missed something in the article - I heard something about how he only played it for a couple of hours, which I would really disapprove of - then this whole thing is a real shame. Barring some sort of damning evidence that I just skipped when reading the article, this dude was dumped on for reviewing a game and having an unpopular opinion about it, despite the fact that he JUSTIFIED his unpopular opinion and even pointed out that the game is better suited to people who like the style of gaming NWN2 seemed to provide.

What's the point of having anyone review games, if they're unable to give an honest assessment of their experience with it? Last year I wrote a bad review for the latest MLB game, which I had a terrible experience with...because it's a terrible game. But if a bunch of MLB fanboys, assuming such a group exists, were to complain about it, would it be fair for my paper to retract my review, or to issue a public apology chastising me for, in essence, doing exactly what it is I was paid to do?

Matt

You raise a good point. I think that the main things to be frowned upon in a review would be bias, including "fanpersonism" and special treatment, and perhaps almost as importantly, not finishing a game to completion.

I think that to review a game completely fairly, you almost have to be a person who lacks a prior opinion about a game or series before you play it, so that you don't go into it with any preconceived ideas about how fun it will be. That's a really difficult thing to do in practice though, especially when it comes to high-profile releases like Final Fantasy XII; after all, how many of us have never played a Final Fantasy game?

"Special treatment" is what I talked about a bit last week. Games like Final Fantasy XII and Kingdom Hearts and others are almost bound to receive extremely high scores regardless of how great they might be. Perhaps it's because the sites and magazines that do the reviewing are worried that readers will take them by storm in protest, due to that fanpersonism, but we all know it's true. It irritates the living daylights out of me (and perhaps the deceased ones too).

Finally, I can't stand it when reviewers don't play a game through to completion before passing judgment or criticism. It just isn't fair; I don't care how terrible the first couple of hours might be. The sole exception to this might be if the game just decides to do nothing but crash at a certain point due to a glitch, in which case, the stupid company deserves more than just a reviewer's wrath.

Anyway, that's the basic criteria that, to me, a review just has to meet. As long as the comments, criticism, and scoring is well-justified, then I agree with you. A review is nothing more than a publicized opinion. In this case, if he did just play it for a couple of hours before putting it down and writing the review, then I have to side with the angry masses.

Again, maybe I'm missing something. And if there's more to this story that I'm just unaware of, I'd appreciate someone filling me in, and I'll take back my little rant. If this thing about him only playing for a few hours is true, then I take everything back, because that's just shoddy work. There are countless games that only kick in several hours after they begin, and it's grossly unfair to pass judgment - and harsh judgment, at that - without playing a game, if not to completion, then damn close.

Matt

Ah. Yes. I spoke too soon. Agreed, obviously. ^^

Case in point: My copy of FF12 arrived yesterday (!) and I plan to review it at work...did I say that already? Anyway, I have a bit of a problem because my review will show up probably a few weeks from now or more, because there's no way I'll carve away 100 hours of game time very quickly. But I'm not going to publish a review of a game, no matter how long, until I've seen either everything it has to offer, or very close to it. Anything less is unfair to the designers, let alone to the people paying attention to your reviews (not that anyone pays any attention to mine).

Matt

Very good to hear! Do your best, and enjoy the ride. I'm a bit glad I'm not a reviewer, honestly (unless people paid me to do it, of course). My reasoning is that I generally like to take my time to enjoy gaming, and I think I'd find that really difficult to do if I felt pressure to play through any game as fast as possible to be able to write what I need to. In fact, I often doddle about near the end of a good game, just because sometimes, I never want it to end~

Anyway, I'm glad you're one of the "principled" reviewers out there. Kudos, props, or whatever else you like to say.

Failing that, this whole thing just makes me sad. The beauty of reviewing games is that you get to express your OPINION. You shouldn't be penalized because people didn't like what you had to say.

-TV's Adam

Matt

It's true, but who knows if we'll ever find out the truth? I am a bit concerned that the people at the site would just pull the review outright because of the fact that a few people were irritated by it, but perhaps (and hopefully) they had more justification behind the scenes.

Thanks, Adam!





THE NEXUS

I'm afraid that's all I have in the inbox for today! I have another JuMeSyn-er logged away for tomorrow, but we just had one from him yesterday, so I don't want to use it today. I guess it'll just be a short column today.


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to November 8th's Questions

#368. c) Six-Fingered Sneak Glove - 2,500 points
Yup. All of the other ones DO have better versions. It's a little bit late to take advantage of this knowledge, but there's something better out there than the Summon Encyclopedia, and believe it or not, one can level up the Rare Candy to obtain something extra special! The Item Supermagnet and Meteoga? Yikes! Good guessing to everyone who got this one correct!

#369. a) A cave housing a piece of armor with storyline significance - 2,500 points
Yep. The first Medal King of the Dragon Quest series can be found in DQIV, and he's found on a small island just a short distance away from the cave holding the Zenithian Armor!

Boreas emits a bitter Arctic Wind!!

Belthasar2 is frozen!
Erika is frozen!
MagRowan is frozen!
JuMeSyn is frozen!
Laurie is frozen!
Alexander is frozen!
Prismatic is frozen!
JokingChimer is frozen!
Thinkfreemind is frozen!
Macstorm is frozen!
Genjuu is frozen!


Today's New Questions

#370:
How many more speaker holes does the original Nintendo DS have than the DS Lite? (3,500 points)

a) 8
b) 18
c) 24
d) 34
e) 44


#371:
Which of the following SOCK summons may be produced one way by sacrificing Diamond Armor, a Demija Spell, and a Hyper Beam? (3,500 points)

a) Emerald Weapon
b) Vegnagun
c) Neo Bahamut
d) Epoch
e) E.S. Asher


And those two questions shall be the LAST of the competition! Remember that whoever has the highest point total by the end of tomorrow, other than Boojum, will obtain a bonus co-hosting position. This is the last opportunity for you to use any items, etc; nothing will carry over into SOCK II. If you're planning on taking some action, this is the time to do it!

Best of luck, everybody, and thanks for playing. It's been a lot of fun for me, and I hope it's been fun for you too! Tomorrow, we're going to have a recap, and I'll reveal a lot of interesting things about the contest. I'll also be giving you a sneak peek at SOCK II, coming to a Q&A column near you within the next few months. There are lots of interesting changes in store; my hope is that the game will become bigger and better than ever!

SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

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

19,000 points:
Mythril Armor (1 left), Rare Candy (2 left), or Wait Mode (1 left)

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

32,000 points:
Mythril Shield (1 left), Staff of Aid (1 left), or Point Quadrupler (1 left)

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


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!


QUICKIES

Hey there, Matt!

How much longer do you think it'll be before we'll see something like a Dragon Warrior V Advance?
-CW

Matt
Never, ever! Sad, eh? Well, maybe soon, in some other dimension.

Anywho I STILL don't have much to say, though what do you think the music in Super Smash Brothers Brawl will be like? I'm expecting big things from mister Nobuo Uematsu!

Anywho cricket training beckons (and if i'm lucky Harvest Moon DS).

Bainick can't stop playing Utopia!

Matt
It really does boggle the mind, doesn't it? I never thought I'd see the day where Uematsu is composing for Smash Brothers but not for Final Fantasy! I'm sure we have a lot to look forward to.



IN CLOSING

For tomorrow, tell me the things that you look for in a good review. How would you judge RPGamer's staff reviewers?

Also, it's not exactly something that's easy to forget, but it's almost upon us: The release of the PS3 is incredibly less than a week away, with Nintendo's Wii soon to follow. Are you one of the lucky few who have one pre-ordered? And, does Sony's future look bright? I look forward to hearing what you have to say!



Send a Letter!

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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt lIkEs HiTtInG tHe CaPs LoCk BuTtOn RePeAtEdLy!


I have nothing to say to thee. That's right; nothing at all.

Most Recent

Nov. 8: Matt

Nov. 7: Boojum & Matt

Nov. 6: Josh

Nov. 5: Josh



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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. Pokémon 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:
CW
-----------

Summon in Play:

-BOREAS-
HP: 8,000
----------
1. Boojum
502,377 pts

2. BigWook
96,549 pts

3. Belthasar2
54,793 pts

4. BLG
45,812 pts

5. Erika
38,640 pts

6. Kanato
37,425 pts

7. WereDMJewelle
32,643 pts

8. JuMeSyn
32,509 pts

9. Laurie
31,550 pts

10. CW
30,931 pts

11. Bainick
29,837 pts

12. Ourobolus
29,638 pts

13. Alexander
28,883 pts

14. Arpijy
27,587 pts

15. LufiaLvr
26,890 pts

16. Prismatic
26,410 pts

17. TV's Adam
25,721 pts

18. JokingChimer
24,926 pts

19. Thinkfreemind
23,336 pts

20. MagRowan
23,334 pts

21. Kharamain
23,329 pts

22. Erunion
21,640 pts

23. Dermot
20,146 pts

24. MrMSty
19,630 pts

25. Waterfiend
19,355 pts

26. Hunter B
18,836 pts

27. Arros Raikou
15,840 pts

28. Draconn
13,985 pts

29. Gaijin
12,438 pts

30. DDX
10,908 pts

31. Macstorm
10,631 pts

32. Carabbit
10,015 pts


33. Genjuu
9,373 pts

34. Cap
9,205 pts

35. Weretiger Rei
8,935 pts


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