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Fundamentally Stupid January 10, 2006

Matt Demers - 15:16 EST

AH, THE JOYS OF SCHOOL have begun once again. This would now be the beginning of my...let's see, fourteenth semester in a row that I've spent doing academic or academically-related things. I won't really say that it's getting tiresome, but it's certainly not as exciting as it used to be.

School isn't about excitement though, is it? It's about cracking the whip, getting to work, drowning in due dates, and hating your life. Yay, fun! Then, I get to come home every day and get pissed off about it in my lovely intros, which all of you get to bear. My first day really wasn't that bad; it could be better described by the word "boring", but I can tell that my professors aren't going to give me an easy ride this semester.

Anyway, I love you all, and I love all of your letters, so let's focus on the positive things, yes? Optimism is good, allegedly, after all.




L E T T E R S
Till the End of Slime... Wonderslime!


-->Many others, sadly, do not receive such absolution, though, and the problem remains one of my biggest stumbling blocks in finishing games (I'm looking at you, Star Ocean 2).

That was Andrew's take on Star Ocean 2. And it reminded me of something that really angered me. (First of all, for the record I blasted through Star Ocean 2 and loved every minute--I've played it through several times even, and on the highest difficulty levels). Star Ocean 3 was to me what Star Ocean 2 was to Andrew. It was a fun game, but it just seemed to drag and drag and dragggggg...and the battle system got just a little bit more complicated, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Anyways, I was not able to finish the game as I got stuck on one of (what I think) are horrendously made puzzles.

Matt

Okiedoke. The only puzzles I can think of in the game off-hand are... the chess-piece statue thing, which they recycled for other purposes later on, and um... yeah, how to make the blasted AI work. Also, figuring out the item creation system/how to afford figuring it out without a strategy guide seemed to be one of the biggest brainbusters of all. I guess you could say that they were pretty horrendously made, then, but there weren't really that many in the first place. I can for sure agree with you on the dragging-on part, except for the final hours of gameplay, which Tri-Ace apparently decided to half-ass quite disappointingly.

Now, I failed general music, and so I went and got my self confuzzled when it came to the point where you have to use that musical instrument to open doors or some silly thing. I could not, for the life of me, do it, and I also couldn't seem to find any decent help on FAQ's at the time. Do you think you could find me some help and let a fan of the series finish a game that's been collecting dust pretty much since it came out? Thanks.


Matt

Oh, that. Yeah, I didn't understand it completely myself until I discovered it accidentally. There are four different tunes that your instrument can play, if I remember correctly, and they depend on a) how hard you press the button, and b) how long you hold the button for. Each song corresponds to a different-emotioned door, or something. Come to think of it, I thought that that was one of the more enjoyable puzzles in the game, once I had it figured out. If, on the other hand, I don't have my facts straight, I encourage you to continue your search for the truth elsewhere.



This is kinda like listening in on a random phone conversation, I think


Hey Matt,

Is it bad that I'm running a monopoly of sorts on SOCK points?


Matt

Nah. I'm not about to tax them either, so you can frolic in all of your extra pointage. You're either really really lucky with all your correct SOCK guesses, or you stalk me; I'm not entirely sure which. In any case, good job. Well, except for today; your Golden Nugget Casino guess was unfortunately not right! The randomness should have been a bit of a flag. Oh well...

Oh, ARM stands for "Ancient Relic Machine." If you haven't gotten to that point in the game yet, then it probably won't make much sense anyway.

Matt

Mmk. I hope I can get a little bit of playtime in before the end of the week again, but the holidays are over and the harsh, cruel realities of, um, reality are back in play.

I guess I can ask some stuff, or at least rant.

So, I got WA:ACF and DQ8 for Xmas, and bought myself FFIV. I've beaten FFIV with everyone except Edward (that spoony bard...only does 1000 damage and not much else), so now I just have to trek through the 50 level dungeon. The ATB issues with the game, as well as the timing with button presses is REALLY annoying, but other than those flaws, it's a great game.

Matt

Yeah... as I sort of described before, the battles feel something like walking through a big vat of thick maple syrup. Of course, walking about towns and dungeons feels like running on a treadmill, so maybe the tradeoff evens out in the end.

WA:ACF...I LOVED the original Wild Arms. When it first came out, they had it on demo at the nearby PX in Colorado...I stayed there for 2 hours playing it, enough to get all the characters together and do Lolithia's Tomb. I've been busy with DQ8 recently, so I haven't played too much of it, but some of it drove me nuts for the first few minutes. Take the Berry Cave, for instance. In the original, it's SE of the town. In WA:ACF, it's WEST!!! I wasn't paying too much attention to the townspeople's rantings, so I spent like 20 minutes looking for the damn place. Sigh...I'm gonna have to treat this like a whole new game...heheheh.

Matt

Ooh, crazy. I had heard that they changed dungeon layouts, intracacies of the battle system, and several other things for Alter Code F, but rearranging the world map is a whole different can of worms. Is this some strange, parallel Filgaia, or what? Maybe they changed the ending to help explain that, too.

As for DQ8...I love it. I'm planning on going through again once I beat it, using only Fisticuffs on all my characters (and their non-weapon-based trait). [...] so far, it's an incredible game.

Anyway, just thought I'd rant. Now that I don't have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays...I'll have plenty of time to beat RPGs!! Weeeeeee!

~Ourobolus


Matt

Ha, you ARE watching me closely... that's exactly what I've told several people I plan to do on my second playthrough, mostly to see what kinds of crazy abilities are unlocked, if any. For all of you who are raising your hand going "ME ME ME I KNOW I KNOW!!!" ... well, I don't want to. I didn't get a strategy guide for a reason, so don't you dare e-mail me giving away that stuff.

Also, you are a lucky lucky man, with your three-days-a-week situation. Give ME a free day off, and I'll give you an instant virtual sloppy kiss. Or an instant something else. A tilde? Isn't that lame? What can I give, anyway? I have nothing of material goodness that any of you would be interested in, do I?

Anyway, good to hear from you, Ourobolus, as always.



Brrrzzrzztt!


Yo Matt,

So, the time has finally come for Mother 3 to release, as I hear it is coming out this spring. Alls I gotta say to that is...IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME!! It seems like ages that it's been in development, or perhaps 'on a hiatus' is a more proper phrase for the game.

Well, my question is, with all the anticipation for the game, or maybe lack of anticipation, are you excited for Mother 3? And do you think it's realistic that we'd get it localized over here?

Sincerely,

Aleksander


Matt

Hahahahahaha. What have we heard? Almost nothing at all. Anyone who reads this column often knows that I love Earthbound, but I'm sorry; I'm just completely unconvinced that this alleged GBA release will ever be released.

Yeah, I know I said something about optimism way back above, but take a look at the facts: What screenshots have we seen? Have we heard a morsel of news about game details? Hell no, we sure haven't. If all of these things weren't enough, it's being allegedly released for a system that Nintendo has kind of abandoned as far as development is concerned. They care about competing against the PSP with their flashy new Dual-Screened toy right now... how could they possibly waste time on a project they've been working on for ten years, for a system they don't care about anymore?

SHOW ME PROOF, I say, that you're working on something, Nintendo, and then I'll show you one of Earthbound's biggest fans gushing about its upcoming sequel, day after day. Until then, all bets are off.



PSP? DS? Are you torn, too?


77) I don't think you got D, Radiata stories. This is the only GC game in the group (the others are DS or GBA) and you might not have a Gamecube? Because you never praise GC games??

Matt

AHH no! I actually really like the Gamecube; it just doesn't possess a great wealth of wonderful RPGs. Tales of Symphonia was a strong showing, and it was liked by many. I didn't play it all the way through, myself. I've also heard good things about Fire Emblem. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year door was fantastic as well, as far as I'm concerned, though I'm sure that could be widely contested. You're right that I don't own a Gamecube, as I have to play while I'm at home where my brother's is stationed; however, you're not right about Radiata Stories, which is certainly a PS2 title, and not a GC one. *smack smack* (those were loving slaps)

78) D. And who still plays wizardry? Apparently Xlash!


Matt

Good eye. What was that one worth, 40 points? Felicitations, as the French would say.

A comment for the reader, who, yesterday, inquired about PC RPGs: I have played Icewind Dale (though not to the end) and thought it was an enjoyable experience, and I hear Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights are also good choices (though I haven't played them myself). The system requirements for Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale are rather light; both will run on a Pentium 500 MHz machine.

Another comment: If you are thinking about giving Fable (the PC version) a try, you will need a rather powerful machine. The experience isn't enjoyable on my two years old machine (due to hardware issues).

Matt

Thanks for the tips... I can use a seeing-eye reader in the PC RPG area, that's for certain, and yesterday's reader will be quite thankful, I'm sure. As for Fable, well, it seems that she's figured out that she needs a sexier video card to do anything with it, so it looks like my cool present is going to be promptly returned to EB Games. *sigh* I tried...

Finally a question: PSP or DS? My feeling on this is that there are too few RPGs for both systems and no must-buy titles for either (yet). I am trying to decide which one to get. I know which way you went but can you please tell the readers why?

Flamethrower


Matt

You're right, there aren't many on either. Out of the two handhelds, though, my support still has to go to the NDS, which is showing some real promise for the coming months. With Final Fantasy III, Xenosaga I & II, and Children of Mana announced, it could set up to be a very exciting system for an RPGamer to own. The PSP doesn't seem to be entirely devoid of promise either, but I just don't expect as much at this point. If you're a longtime Valkyrie Profile fan, though, you might think differently.

Thanks for the letter, Flamethrower. Hopefully you'll figure out which one is for you before the companies all decide to come out with their NEXT systems... they seem to come faster and more furiously than they used to, don't they?



Patience, patience!


Hello Matt my condolences on starting school, yes the luxery of homeschooling in high school. I feel for you particularly since next year I go to collage as well, and will no longer be able to bask in my sheltered life. I have to be responsible and get a job and all that nonsense. Any who You know I was rooting for the bucket way back when, but I guess it all worked out since I haven't stopped visiting Q and A since you showed up. Still miss Googlshng

Matt

You know, I read Google and Andrew's columns for a loooong time too before I started this fall. If I have half the success of either of them, I'll be ecstatic, because I thought they always did a fantastic job.

Sadly, I'm too lazy to send in all the time so I will not try to answer the sock questions, not this time anyway. But so you won't be bored I'll just go a little off topic

Matt

That's okay. Questions and answers are quite more important than silly side competitions anyway, since, well, this little space in RPGamer wouldn't really exist without them. So, fire away, and go as off-topic as you like. I'll stop you if things get a bit too unruly. (No one wants to hear about the history of Azerbaijan - my apologies to any Azerbaijani readers out there- though I'm sure no one wants to hear about Canadian history either.)

Can you think of any game with a "mini" game that is so fun it actually motivates you to come back after collecting all the post boss stuff, but still has enough purpose to LvL you up that extra five levels to 99?

Matt

Oh yes, I certainly can. Final Fantasy VI's coliseum enraptured my sister and I to such an extent that we spent many hours well after the end of the game strengthening our characters and trying to defeat some of the difficult enemies that one can face there. Having gone back to it since (many times), I've never found it to be quite as involving, but I'll tell you: Way back then, I was hearing Johnny C. Bad in my sleep at night.

Also on the note of FFXII one of you're "Qer's" mentioned that the real-time engine offered extra strategy. Having played Morrowind, Kingdom hearts, KOTOR, and Legend of Mana, I point out that yes it offers a strategy, one that's as buggy and gimmicky as a certain gummi stage in a certain FF/Disney game. I'm not saying it's an invalid point or that I disliked any of them, I'm just saying it needs a miracle to be done right and I don't have THAT kind of faith in Square Enix.

Matt

Hmmm... are you comparing Final Fantasy XII's battle system to the gummi ship crap in Kingdom Hearts in terms of bugginess and/or lame-itude? I'm not sure; while I found the demo slightly awkward, I definitely didn't find any bugs. The strategy side of things can't possibly become clear until we get to experience the entire game. The demo we've seen is just a tiny cross-section of what the game might actually contain, and the battle system didn't allow the player to fiddle with many things that will be fiddleable-with in the end. Keep your hopes up.

Last question to you and your readers, what do you do when you are strong enough to escape 100% from the enemies in all previous areas, yet if you go to the next area you get right near creamed? How do you motivate yourself to keep leveling up? In essence what do you do to turn training into a fun part of the game? This is particularly for Suikoden 3 as I'm in the latter areas, with maxed weapons, all characters I'm just waiting for items to respawn in the FC's hideaway to make Sgt. Joe viable for one of the latter battles.

Kit Cloud


Matt

Enh, I've never been one to run away from a fight unless absolutely necessary; this is probably a product of my Dragon Quest upbringing. In almost any RPG I play, I don't run from anything, anywhere, and then I almost never have to worry about levelling-up or being outclassed by my foes. Maybe I'm more patient than most. Maybe my real life is just more boring. I'm not sure... I have fun, anyway, just by seeing my characters gradually grow and improve. If you're one of those people that just can't stand battles at all, for whatever reason, I'll bet that action RPGs are more up your alley... or non-action "vanilla-flavoured" RPGs, but those easy ones without much battling (of which there are none).



To cheat, or not to cheat?


Greetings Matt!

Just wanted to drop in with my opinion on the whole Chrono Trigger thing.

I don't think you're bad/evil/misguided in your opinion of CT. I must admit, myself, that the game is not the most difficult RPG I've ever encountered, but it will always be one of my favorite none the less. Mostly this is because of the storyline; what can I say, I'm a sucker for humor and a good plot. Otherwise, yes, it is easy to memorize how to beat bosses/enemies and forthwith destroy them the same way each time.

Matt

Those are two of the things that are really strong in Chrono Trigger. The plot isn't really the most complicated plot ever, but it's just inexplicably wonderful and very likable. The humour is done very well, also, and that's certainly worth a lot, in my eyes.

I guess, thinking about it, my only semi-big issues are battle-system oriented. It's not like the battle system is done badly, or even mediocre-ly. It's just not enough to make the game one of my favourites, I guess.

I will say, though, that CT is an excellent starter RPG. I usually recommend it to friends and/or family who are interested in getting into the genre but don't know where to start. This is where the easier fight/shorter game play have an advantage. Again with the good plot and great humor carrying a significant part of the fun.

Speaking of starter RPGs... which RPG(s) would you recommend for someone fresh to the genre?


Matt

Mmm, I'd agree with you there, as long as the person(s) you're starting on RPGs aren't part of the whole graphics-whore subset of those interested in gaming. I've started many people on RPGs in the past, and I've found that I've had the greatest success with Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X. Why those games? I think VI has a great storyline, and a funny translation. Final Fantasy VII was good enough to get a few MILLION people into the genre, so it's probably a good bet. FFX is one of the best and nicest-looking RPGs for the PS2, while it's a little less "daunting" than, say, a Dragon Quest game, for the RPG-inexperienced.

I also wanted to make a comment regarding the use of FAQ/'cheats'/flaws in the game in RPGs. I'm right with you on the 'not on the first time through' mentality. Usually I play through the game once on my own, to see how far I can get and how much 'cool' stuff I can pick up. After that, it's no holds barred, I go find a book or online FAQ and plow through the game again, this time looking to get everything!

Matt

Yeah. I think a lot of people are like that, but I hate automatically knowing how to get the best-of-everything in one run, thus making the game into a joke, challenge-wise. Plus, it's fun to accidentally discover some of the great things and be genuinely surprised. Spoilers suck!

Do you have any particular cheats/flaws of games you really like yourself? Mine all time favorite is in FFIV (at least the original FFII SNES version).

********Cheat warning********
The cheat was regarding creating duplicate weapons by unequipping in the middle of battle and running away, then re-equipping in the menus.
********End Cheat Warning********

Come to think of it, does that exploit still exist in the later two ports of the game (PSX and GBA)?

Curiously Sleepy,
MagRowan



Matt

Oh, yeah, I heard about that one and actually gave it a try once or twice to see if it was true. My personal favourite wasn't in an RPG, but in Mario Kart 64... falling off of Rainbow Road at just the right spot could land you on the track some 35 seconds ahead of everyone else. Of course, if you missed by the slightest bit, you ended up behind everyone else by 15, so it was a bit of an interesting gamble. I could never use it while playing with my family, though, because anger resulted, but it was fun nonetheless.

Also, I'm not sure if it still exists. Does somebody out there want to give it a whirl and let me know pronto? I might even throw you some delicious kudos if you do. *wink wink*





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

That's all for today! Well, not quite all... more questions are awaiting you, first, so read them, and then I can wrap things up.


Flashay!


Let's look at the answers to yesterday's questions, shall we? Most of you did absolutely terribly compared to normal (I think only one person got both questions right!), but let's see why.

Firstly, #77 asked about my Christmas presents, of which I received too many this year. The only one out of the list that I did not receive was b) Final Fantasy IV, which I've hinted at in the past, as I've only played my brother's copy. Several of you guessed Golden Nugget, and you'd be wrong. While I'm not into casino games, generally, my boyfriend caught me having a bit too much fun at the Dragon Quest VIII casino. Thus, I'm now the owner of this DS title, which isn't really as bad as you might think; it's good for whiling away hours on a train, at any rate.

#78 was a submission from Xlash, and a bit of a difficult one, too. The list of healing spells were taken from Wizardry, and the only one on the list that doesn't belong is d) Dialko, for 40 points. Nice job, Xlash- for that, you receive a cool 80.


And now, to round out the first eighty questions...

Question #79: Follow me!-->In Chrono Trigger, which item can you discover on Ozzie VIII's kitchen counter? (40 points)

a) A Speed Tab
b) A Power Tab
c) A Magic Tab
d) Nothing except a basket of bread
e) Nothing except a plate of some non-descript 16-bit red stuff

Question #80: Ask Arros!--> In La Pucelle Tactics the character Captain Homard shares a name with a character from which other game series? (30 points)

a) The Legend of Zelda
b) Guilty Gear X
c) Perfect Dark
d) Pokémon
e) Metal Gear Solid


Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):

200 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
700 points: The Final Fantasy 1 "Official" Crazed-Chipmunk-Hold-your-Ears Zipfile Soundtrack (4 remaining!)
1000 points: The Mattie's Mom Cookie Recipe Compilation (5 remaining!)
2000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (5 remaining!)


Anyhow, thanks for all of the letters. Keep sending them in!

For next time, try and remember back to the first days of your RPGaming life. It seems that there's been a lot of talk going on about how amazing it is that games like Final Fantasy VII are now getting close to being TEN YEARS OLD. How hard is that to believe? Is it strange that these are now becoming more "nostalgic"? What games are now nostalgic to you? Which ones got you hooked as an RPGamer? Let me know, and I might just post your letter! Take care, guys.


wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt could use a good beet. "Carrots with character", they are!


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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Dragon Quest VIII

2. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

3. Mario Kart DS

Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Disgaea II

3. Children of Mana

SOCK standings:

1. Ourobolus
1,090 pts

2. Flamethrower
784 pts

3. MagRowan
703 pts

3. Jbumi
703 pts

5. Xlash
625 pts

6. Bainick
609 pts

7. Arros Raikou
523 pts

8. DDX
522 pts

9. Jeremy
470 pts

10. ~Sean~~
422 pts

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