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Hot Stones January 5, 2006

Matt Demers - 03:17 EST

LET'S SEE... I'M REALLY running out of ideas for my introductory paragraph here, though perhaps I'm feeling uninspired from doing so close to nothing day after day after day, here in cloudy, murky, rainy, windy, disgusting Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada. Thus, I will do an official count of all the freckles on my left forearm, posthaste (the significant ones).

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight...nine, ten, eleven, twelve... damn. There are far too many... but so many are just really light and splotchy, and they combine with others to create an overall "tan" look. I'm sure I'd double or triple-count if I kept this up. Oh well, my goal for the evening has been be...besmirched. I hope that the rest of the column doesn't go down a similar toilet.

*flush*





L E T T E R S
Strong opinions require respect, and respect is what we have


Hey Matt,

2005 was an excellent year for games and rpgs in particular, but best game of 2005 goes to Dragon Quest VIII by far. The graphics and old-school gameplay really put into a league all its own for the year and make it a viable contender for best-rpg-ever.

Matt

You, my son, know exactly what you're talking about.

*awards a gold star*

Well, except for the whole 2005 being a great year for RPGs part. To me, there weren't really a whole lot of "outstanding" games in the end.

*takes back half of the star*

As for Chrono Trigger...Having been beaten repeatedly by many for rather vocal opinions on beloved games, game systems, and franchises( I loathe Legend of Dragoon, Breath of Fire V, and all things Dreamcast)I feel sympathy for your awkward position. You don't particularly care for one the greatest games of the past ten years, and I respect your opinion. However if you come around my way spouting that noise, my boys and I will be waiting billy-clubs and blackjacks, so watch your step.

Happy New Year, Cap


Matt

Welcome to the mob of RPGs, everyone. I'll agree with you on the awful, horrible Legend of Dragoon, but I'll have to butt heads on the BoF V thing... it's just too wonderfully different to pass up, it's incredibly difficult, and it has freakin' good music too. FREAKIN good!

Happy New Year to you too, Cap! Thanks for your thoughts.



I wish I cared about anything this much... besides chocolate


Hey Matt!

I think i have lost my faith in Sqaure-Enix. If you will answer my questions (as you do) perhaps you can restore that faith.

1. The FFIV-VI GBA Remakes. Now, i just dont understand why really. I'm sorry, but i dont get it! It's Final Fantasy IV, a fantastic game in the palm of your hand. With, reduced audio effects, slightly better sprites, and a few new dungeons that are generated randomly. Look, Dawn of Souls was okay i admit. Still, it was simply a port of somthing that could easilly be done on a better format. I knok, It now has a level of portability that makes gaming on the go much better now. But, THE GBA! GOD! Listen, why not remake em all at once and bung em all on PSP. It would have a higher resolution and would be able to play FMV's! Oh, the pre-rendered glory! So why, Why not put them on a better format?

Matt

I don't know if you read some of my early columns back in September and October, but a very popular subject back then was REMAKES, and I was deadset against them at the time. Well, I would still prefer Square Enix to concentrate their efforts on new material, but at the same time, if they're putting actual effort into a remake (rather than just porting a game cheaply) I don't mind as much. It doesn't work to say "they can all be done on a better format", because that's not true. Sure, the graphics would be easier to soup up on a PSP, but why would Square Enix develop a game for the PSP when the company knows that most of its fans have GBAs instead? They released Dawn of Souls for the GBA, so it only makes sense that they'd want to keep those fans by releasing the next remakes for another Nintendo handheld, because I'd bet my bottom dollar that most GBA owners don't own a PSP. Graphics aren't everything, and with a new translation, a party-change system that lots of people have been waiting for, and extra bonus material, graphical improvements aren't really worth much at all; at least to me.

Also, it would be terrible business sense for Square Enix to release a three-in-one package when they could instead make triple the money. Besides, each of these games has quite a bit of meat to them in the first place... and are much more substantial than many current games. They're worth the money, frankly, especially if you're one of THOSE people who haven't played the games at all yet.

2. FFIII DS. That made my love in reality sink further into the hole of no return! 3D! 3D!!!! Look, that game was a NES classic. It doesn't deserve to be violated in such a way that would make it "Appeal to a new generation of Gamers". I sya it would be better if the enviroments were 3D and the characters be 2D like Grandia. But, have the camera be in a fixed position so it would be like playing it from a top-down perspective as the older gamers once did. Now all i hear is this DS crap with the 2 screens being used to play the game. Wouldn't this be better on somthing that aint another peice of outdated perversion from ninty?

Matt

Wait, you. You just got through telling me that you were upset that FFIV through VI aren't being released on a more up-to-date handheld format, and now you're decrying the FFIII's big jump to the DS? I think the screens look beautiful, if you're worried about graphics, but as long as they leave the gameplay intact, I'm just so incredibly impressed that they've put as much effort into this title as they have. It tells me that they still care enough about their old ideas to keep them alive for a new generation, and because so few people in North America have even experienced Final Fantasy III in the first place, I really can't wait.

I might be wrong, but it sounds to me like you may be one of the unfortunate RPG-loving souls who went out and bought a PSP well before you should have, thus harbouring the DS hatred virus. I can't be sure, of course... but I don't blame you. PSP-owners really have gotten the shaft, haven't they? You DS-haters really should give the system a chance; I'm very pleased with mine, and I'm ecstatic over everything that is being promised for it in the months to come.

3. Before Crisis. I think you know already that US mobiles are not as technologically powered as the phones we get over here and in japan. I mean, i'm getting the Sharp 903 in a few days which is level pegging with the P900iv from Panasonic...that aint over here yet! But, if Before Crisis is getting released in the US. What handset do you think it will be avaliable for?

Okay! Rant over. i leave you now to your own devices

Love and Kisses,

Leo


Matt

...and rant you did! I personally abhor cellular devices, mostly because I think they're socially destructive boxes of evil. Do you know how many times I've gone out to eat with friends who have sat playing with their phones through the entire meal, checking messages, "texting" friends, leaving the table to talk... GRR! I refuse to get one. Thus, blah-di-blah, I don't care too much at all, to be honest. Who is going to really play an RPG on their phone, anyway? Actually, never mind; I know some people that might. I'm not all that big on the Final Fantasy VII "stuff" that's being released in the next little while, and the fact that Before Crisis is a cell-phone series means that I'll likely never play it. Certainly, announcements will be made in due time regarding compatibility and phone-makes and whatnot, so you can scramble to get whatever will work for you then, I suppose.

*sigh* ... So, I probably didn't help you out much at all to alleviate your angst against Square Enix, but dem's da brakes. Hopefully when FFXII comes out later this year, we'll both have something that pleases us, and even more hopefully, something that reaffirms your faith in the company. Thanks for writing in, and despite my disagreements, I give you love and kisses in return, 'cuz that's what I like to do.



The worst data-loss story ever (maybe)!


Dear Matt

I think RPGamer's Best and Worst of 2005 feature was great, but if I may, I found one aspect that puzzled me. I thought the whole thing was a little too generalized. I think there should be categories like Best Tactical RPG, Best Dungeon Crawl RPG, Best MMORPG, Best Tabletop RPG, and other such categories. I dislike it when people generalize the RPG world into just a single entity, when there are clearly all these subgenres that exist. This isn't a criticism; it's just something that crossed my mind. Also, Most Improved Sequel, Funniest Game, Best Original Title, or Best Character would also be great categories.

Matt

Hmm... good ideas. I'll be sure to pass them along, to try and improve next year's Reader awards. I agree that some further classification might be nice, but there always arises difficulties, since many games are hybrids of different sub-genres these days, and people might disagree on which is what and this and that. It's easy to judge any two games by things like their graphics or music alone, but getting everyone to agree on what exactly comprises an "Adventure-RPG" could lead to fighting and perhaps some less friendly Q&A letters.

This may be a little late, but I also have a story of lost saves to share. Don't worry, this isn't one of those "I-didn't-save-often-and-a-power-outage-made-me-regret-it" story. Rather, my tragedy occured BECAUSE I save often! Let me explain.

A few months ago, I purchased a used copy of Xenogears (yeah, about time) and fired it up on my aged Playstation. I noticed some strange moments when the game would just abruptly pause for no reason, but I didn't think it was a big deal. Still, the concerned side of me made sure to save often. Yes, I AM the kind of person that saves often. I saved the first chance I got in Lahan Village, every time I went to the world map to fight, and every time I passed the save point on the mountain. But when I got to Blackmoon Forest and tried to save at the save point, one of those abrupt pauses occured and my saving screen went haywire. The next thing I knew, my entire memory card was BLANK! Now, I had literally HUNDREDS of hours worth of saved data across at least eight games on that memory card, and as I was saving, poof. A third of my life has been erased, just like that.

Matt

Oh, the lovely old PSX...how gamers both love and hate it so. That's terrible, I have to agree... but, a third of your life? You need a second hobby!! Either that, or you play through games really slowly- those memory cards didn't seem to hold a whole lot, after all.

Oh, but it didn't end there.


Matt

Ruh-oh! Sorry, continue.

All subsequent attempts at saving while playing my Xenogears copy led to error messages and failed save attempt. So not only did this game destroy all those years of hard work, but now I can't even play it through because the damn thing won't let me save. Worst purchase EVER. Does anyone out there have a story that tops this in terms of devistation? I'd like to hear it, if only to relieve my own devistation.

Matt

I guess that's the risk that you take when you buy a used copy of a game. I've become very cautious about buying used or pre-owned games, especially after this Christmas. I bought my brother three pre-owned games this year, and it was only after he opened them all that he realized that only one of them contained instructions. I was QUITE unimpressed.

Certainly though, if you're reading this and have a similarly horrible sob-story of your own, please send it in and tell me about it! I'll promise to keep a box of Kleenex nearby so that we can cry together.

And to not end this letter on a gloomy note, my favorite RPG of 2005 has been Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time. Then again, I haven't played Dragon Quest VIII, so maybe I'm biased.

Alan


Matt

Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is really fun so far, but I'm having difficulty playing it for long stretches of time. Because of my horrible sleeping habits lately, I've been unbelievably sleepy during the day, so I'll be playing Wild Arms, Mario & Luigi, or Dragon Quest for 15 minutes or so until I feel like collapsing, and then I'll turn it off and have a nap. It's a pretty sorry state of affairs...



With these two cents, I'm up to... eight cents!


I actually agree with you on Chrono Trigger. When I first played it, I was amazed but with all the subsequent play throughs, I feel that maybe I was just overreacting. When you look at it in a calm manner and not a “OMGSQUARECHRONOTRIGGERPWNES” way, you see that the game isn’t really the be-all, end-all of RPGs. It remains an awesome game but yeah, there is something thing(s) missing from it that really could have made the masterpiece more of a masterpiece.


Matt

All right, all right... so I'm not all alone. I don't think there are many people at all that would ever say that Chrono Trigger is a downright terrible game, and I'm certainly not one of them, but a few little things here and there are the reasons why it's not one of my top ten favourites of RPG history. I really should update that list sometime soon, though, because I think DQVIII is gonna shake things up a bit...



And then we have this one...


Hey Matt, I just wanted to comment on you Chrono Trigger thoughts.

I totally agree with your non-plussed attitude towards it. I played it after all the hype was gone so it ended up just feeling like a great game that was undeserving of the endless praise. The characters were ALRIGHT, but Chrono especially was just a dude. So what if he has a sword? Welcome to RPG’s!

Matt

Two points for me! I really wish that I had gotten it back on that Christmas all those years ago. I wonder if my opinion would be completely different today as a result...

Only one way to find out, of course. We must... travel back in time to alter the past! Start the Epoch, someone who cares!

Chrono Cross is a different story though. Now that game is underappreciated! Everything about it rocks, honestly there are no flaws. Difficulty, story, characters, battle system, music, graphics, length…it was all there. It even had New Game + (which CT had as well)! Anyway this ain’t no review, but have you played Chrono CROSS? If you haven’t then I would encourage you to because it reminds me of DQVIII in that it took its roots and kept them while making a much bigger and prettier game.

Matt

W-w-whoa... (that's WHOA; not WOAH. Somehow, the latter has become acceptable in English in recent years, and it bothers me like you wouldn't believe)

You're outnumbered, that's for sure. Interestingly, I'm outnumbered too, because I'm one of the few people who have actually played Chrono Cross to completion without first beating Chrono Trigger.

My opinion, though, is a fairly sour one. There were a lot of really neat ideas in the story, I thought, but I didn't think they were executed as well as they could have been. The non-linearity of much of the game was interesting, but it left me feeling completely lost at times. Obviously, the game was gorgeous and it had an amazing soundtrack too, but I wasn't as pleased with some of the central game mechanics, including the spell system and the 29385723 allies, none of whom I now remember.

So for me, it was a mixed bag of annoying and amazing, terrible and wonderful, disappointing and pleasing. To each their own, to put it in a non-gender-specific way.

Oh and I also remember that you said you hadn’t ever played LUNAR. Well You can do what you want but I just bought Silver Star Story Complete for my PS because Working Designs is out of it now. I don’t want to wind up paying hundreds of dollars for it (not that I would) later. Now would be the best time to try and play, if you can find the time. I found a $25 copy at my EB’s used section, you might have the same luck.

Anyway I had a rainy Xmas too, since I live in Connecticut. Oh well snow for next year then (crosses fingers). Go well Mattzana (anyone know the movie?).


Matt

What really sucks about the rainy Christmas is that abnormally, we got a ridiculous amount of snow in November and December, so a white Christmas seemed to be a given. There isn't a trace of the white stuff left on the ground here, though, anymore, and the clouds have just made the view a depressing one lately.

This isn't a weather forecast, though, as you know. Lunar is something that I'd love to play sometime in the future, and I guarantee you that if one of them ever crosses my path, I'll be quick to fumble for my debit card. I've heard good things, so I figure it wouldn't hurt to add yet another title to my ever-growing list.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Good weekend, everybody. You've all been swell!! Next week, the SOCK will finally make a return, as I will also make a return back to home-sweet-Guelph, so get your thinking caps ready; the lazy holidays are over! Hopefully, we'll have a guest host or two, and have a whale of a time, as they say.

Take care until then, please! I'll be back to answer your questions soon.


wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt wishes he had learned how to play the guitar sometime


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