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ASK MATT
Hey Diddle Dumpling January 23, 2006

Matt Demers - 02:58 EST

WHERE HAST EVERYONE GONE? Dost thou think it is my breath?

Not only is that a good sum-up of my feelings, it's also going to relate to one of today's contest questions. Maybe tomorrow's... ah, I'll make up my mind once I get to the bottom.

In other news, we have come to a monumental occasion that is to be celebrated with much happiness, chocolate, and alcohol: It is indeed my birthweek, climaxing with my Friday birthday. I shall be turning yet another year older, which reminds me of just how much time has gone by since the good old days of high school. Feel free to send me any birthday wishes/presents/money; stuff like that is always welcome, of course.

I kid, of course, mostly. On that note, let's start the week off.




L E T T E R S
The longest list of games ever is right here!


Dear matt:

First thing first, sorry for the grammar or vocabluary but my mother tongue is french (coming from belgium but living in quebec since 1999) There is always a first to anything, I try to read your column daily as it reminds me a lot of good memories. I never wrote but i have quite a dilema. I 'm a 30 year old rpg fan but too little free time (i have two loving young child) and have quite a big backlog of game to play. I try to finish every game I play but it costs money so when i finish a game I resell it(on ebay)I only buy original not copy but also have diapers to buy. I have quite a big collection of unplayed games at home but dunno where to start from, I'm playing at the moment DQVIII (what a great game about 50% finished) but when i finish it where to start from As I have little time and a lot to play and also tries to maximize my reselling process( quite methodical sorry) so, between all of these (i will not write the non rpg games and PC adventure games I also need to play, why a day has not 36 hrs) where the most fun would come?

Matt

Boy... talk about an open-ended question! Firstly, I know exactly how you feel. This semester is dragging me through the mud and I haven't had much time to stand on my own feet let alone spend time playing everything I got at Christmastime. If I had it my way... well, it doesn't matter. Reality is where I try to dwell, most of the time.

Now, to answer your question! Uh- oh, wait, you've got a list for me now. Let's read that first. Tum te tee~~

Champions of norrath,Tsugunai atonement, shadow hearts covenant, legaia 2,summoner 2, alon d'ar, wild arms 3, shin megami tensei nocturne, BOF :dragon quarter,Bards tale,Atelier Iris eternal mana,Dark cloud 2, ephemeral fantasia,suikoden IV,shadow hearts, Okage shadow king, arc the lad twilight of the spirit, Romancing saga, Digital devil saga 1 or 2Wild arms alter code F, Magna carta, radiata stories, growlanser generation, arc the lad collection, lunar 2 or xenogear. I know about the review ratings on the site but if you have played any of them wich would you recommend to me and is there any I could resell on the instant that are not even worth to play. And to this list i will probably add in the next months grandia 3, WA4th, tales of legendia Shadow hearts 3 and KH2. SO too much money, and too little time so I have to choose the good ones, will have time in 20 years to play the rest i nver played, don't mind old school graphics today so i think I will be able to play these in the years to come.

Matt

All right, let's leaf through that near-comprehensive list you have there, and sort some things out. First of all, Shadow Hearts might be a good bet; lots of people likey, and I'm hoping to get a copy finally in the next little while. Forget about Summoner 2; if it's anything like the awfulness of the original, then well, let's just say that I'm not surprised that there hasn't been a "Summoner 3". Lots of people think that Shin Megami Tensei is one of the best RPG franchises for the PS2, so that might be a good idea too. Both Cast and myself will vouch for Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, though you might not. Some of the others on your list are hit-or-miss; you might like Atelier Iris or Wild Arms, but you might not, and Radiata Stories is in the same boat. Reportedly, Magna Carta is pretty mediocre outside the graphical eye-candy, so I'd pass on that one. On the other hand, I've heard nothing but praise for Lunar 2 (in contrast to its newborn DS sibling), so that one is probably worth your while.

With that, I'm pretty much recommendationed-out. Ask me about something else now.

Also with the next gen consoles coming in the next months and the rising costs of developpement do you think the number of RPGs that will come out will reduce so I can catch up or due to the number of players nowadays it will rise and will have to chose what I buy, up until now I kinda bought everything trying to forge my own opinion but I think I kind of overflowed my playing capacity(and my wife patience) It was much easier before, only a handful of good rpg were release each year (but I had not the money to buy them all) No it is the contrary

Manuel aka Porkepik


Matt

Riiiiiiight.

It's not very often when you get someone wishing for FEWER games in order to get through more of them. No matter what, if there are MORE games released, you'll have MORE games to choose from, and there is MORE likely to be a gem among the pack (or six gems, for that matter). The optimal strategy is absolutely not to buy every single game that comes out; who has the time or the money? The best way to go is to find the games or series that you might like most, based on your personal preferences. Make a mistake or two, but do it by renting the games first. Then pick the games you have the most fun playing. Not only will you save a few bucks; you'll feel better that you haven't missed out as much. Goooood luck figuring out what you're going to do, Manuel, and thanks for writing in!



Megaman... is an RPG. Really!


Hey Matt,

I think I've got these ones down:
#92. e) Angelo!

#93. c) If my memory can extend back to first year psychology.

You mentioned Megaman X, X2 and X3 today. I just wanted to say that I'm planning on picking up the Megaman X Collection which contains all of those incarnations plus, X4 - X6 all on one convenient DVD for the PS2. You want to consider it, with it only retailing for ~$40 (CAN) I believe!

Derek


Matt

Yes, it retails for exactly that much. Would you believe that I received your e-mail on the very night that I came home after buying it? I actually made a random friend at the EB Games, because while I was browsing through the store, I overheard a poor guy at the counter inquiring about when Breath of Fire III for the PSP would be released. When the girl behind the counter started looking it up without much luck, I felt compelled to jump in and add my two cents like the Q&A columnist I am. I probably ruined his day with what I had to say, but then he came back and we chatted it up for a good ten or fifteen minutes. It was one of the most pleasant random chats I've ever had, I must say. That's when I bought the collection and scurried home to the warmth of my computer chair. I'll probably play it for the first time sometime in April. *sigh*



More Secret of Mana spoilers... stop now if you'll be offended.


Hey Matt, this is what I remember from the end of Secret of Mana. Basically, the activation of the Mana Fortress triggered a massive imbalance in the world's mana. To counter the imbalance, the mana from the remaining monsters in the world coalesced into the Mana Beast, which would then attack the source of the imbalance. The Mana Beast and Flammie were separate entities, but at the beginning of the final battle the resemblance was noted, and the characters guess that Flammies were once descended from the Mana Beasts. It was still the cutest final boss ever, though Thanatos got the better boss music.

Anyway, for the SOCKs... #91 is e)FF & DQ 8, with Angelo, and #92 is... d) hitting the patellar tendon.

--GaijinMonogatari


Matt

That does pull a few chords of familiarity, now that I've a) read a couple of your letters, and b) had a chance to ponder it for awhile. You know how those technicalities go in games; I tend to remember games very well on the whole, but details in the storylines get lost over time unless I play the game in question more than once. Have you ever gone back to a game after a few years and played it again, only to go "Man, I don't remember this happening at all!"? I definitely have, and I'm sure that I've come to the point where Secret of Mana would likely be one of those games.



Mechanics, and not the auto-body-shop variety


I once read an interview with a Wizards of the Coast developer about making a new Magic the Gathering (trading card game) card set. He discussed what it takes to make a good set. I recall him saying "We do extensive playtesting to determine whether or not the mechanics we have come up with are fun to play" or something like that. While I won't get into trading card game examples (because they are way too complicated), I will mention some video game examples.

Matt

Sounds-a good. Let's see what you have to say, right after these messages.

*dee dee dee [insert commercial theme song] blah blah blah [insert bad acting] corny ending caption THE END!*

We're back. Now, lay it on me.

It should be said that most videogame mechanics are unique to a game and must be judged on their own merits (like FF7's materia system).

Mechanic: The player can avoid battles by seeing enemies onscreen and avoiding them (examples: Zelda, Dark Cloud, Grandia, Chrono Trigger...). A good mechanic because in most RPGs, there are times when the player just doesn't want to battle.

Matt

On that one, I have to disagree with you. I argue that if a player doesn't like battling, then there's something missing in the battle system, which to me, is central in an RPG. In a fully-fulfilling battle system, combat should be involving and exciting; balanced but challenging. If it does things right, I think that "not wanting to battle" would (or should) never be an issue, unless you're just one of those people that plays RPGs solely for the story and you despise violence of all forms, in which case I say this: Go read a book!

Mechanic: The player must press a button during an attack, the timing of which affects the attack (examples: Magna Carta: Tears of Blood, Gladius, Super Mario RPG).

A bad mechanic. It works when only used for certain special or powerful attacks, but requiring the player to "time" every attack increases battle length and is boring.

Of course the above is just my opinion. Feel free to disagree.

Flamethrower


Matt

I'm not sure if I always agree with the last one either- but maybe I do at times. Indeed, that mechanic can often seem tacked-on or gimmicky, and yeah, it can slow down battle a lot in some cases. Sometimes, though, well-timed button-presses can often liven up or be central to a combat system. That's actually one of my favourite things about the Mario RPGs, but most notably the Mario & Luigi games; it's often absolutely hilarious to try and dodge the tricksy moves, and if you don't stay alert, you just die. When I rode the train back up at the end of Christmas vacation, I accidentally said "OH SH**" after mis-timing some jumps during battle in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, and I turned the head of a poor old lady sitting, oh, a couple of seats up and across the aisle. She gave me a "youngsters these days have no respect" kind of look, and then turned back after I mumbled a sheepish apology. Thanks, Nintendo!



Life's Ultimate Question


Why?

- Nwash


Matt

Well, as someone once said, in the beginning, there was nothing. And then Matt someone (I) said "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" Then, lo and behold, all these little photons suddenly materialized everywhere, somehow, like magic, in just the way Einstein would describe 4500 years and 7 days later, or approximately 4.6 billion years, whichever you prefer. Then I said something about the sea and the sky (the earth, and the cursed princess?) and bling! There they were. The H2O just plopped into place, apparently, as the planetary debris swirled together, thanks to that lovely thing we call gravity. What came next? A bunch of green stuff I called plants, and then a bunch of animals, including both birds and bees, which is funny, because BOTH of those creatures are used to refer to subjects of sexual nature, tee-hee. Who'd have thought that I'd be having a no-nonsense chat about that on RPGamer, anyway? Well, anyway, there were more animals than that, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Aardvark
  • Aardwolf
  • Ant
  • Anteater
  • Armadillo
  • Babirusa
  • Baboon
  • Bactrian Camel
  • Beaver
  • Black Widow Spider
  • Blue Jay
  • Bushbaby
  • Cardinal
  • Cat
  • Cheetah
  • Chinchilla
  • Chipmunk
  • Cow
  • Damselfly
  • Dog
  • Duck
  • Dugong
  • Echidna
  • Elephant
  • Emperor Penguin
  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Ferret
  • Firefly
  • Fly
  • Flying Squirrel
  • Fruitfly
  • Giant Tortoise
  • Giraffe
  • Goat
  • Goose
  • Gorilla
  • Grasshopper
  • Heron
  • Herring
  • Hornet
  • Ibis
  • Iguana
  • Ibex
  • Jaguar
  • Kangaroo
  • King Crab
  • Koala
  • Lemming
  • Lemur
  • Lobster
  • Loon
  • Louse
  • Moose
  • Mountain Goat
  • Mountain Lion
  • Mountain Pig
  • Musk-Ox
  • Mynahbird
  • Okapi
  • Opossum
  • Ostrich
  • Ox
  • Pig
  • Platypus
  • Poison Arrow Frog
  • Quail
  • Raccoon
  • Raven
  • Rattlesnake
  • Roach
  • Salmon
  • Scorpion
  • Snapping Turtle
  • Stellar's Jay
  • Suricate
  • Swan
  • Three-Toed Sloth
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Wallaby
  • Wombat
  • Xyphias
  • Yak
  • Zebra

After all that, I put people on the earth, proving that yes, I am sort of a god. Perhaps a "God" with an uppercase G, would be in greater order- you be the judge. The thing is, I put people in charge to take care of all of these things I made beforehand, which might have been a giant mistake. Thus, vote GREEN PARTY in tomorrow's election, Canadians! Green party. Anyway, one of those people had a baby named Nwash, and that's why. At least, that's why I got your letter.

If that isn't exactly the response that you were going for, then I just have one question for you: Why not? Mwahahaa...





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

There you have it: A couple of stories here, a few opinions there, some laughs, some tears, and I'm spent. Wait, tears? I don't remember it being sad... though, I saw Queen Latifah's "Last Holiday" movie today, and it made me far more teary-eyed than I should have been. Obviously, I'm turning into a giant softy, because I've seen far sadder movies in the past that haven't even fazed me. What is wrong with me? Booster, from Mario RPG, had the best quote; it was a question about what his tears were, but I can't remember it accurately at all, and I'm way too lazy to go and look it up.

Flashay!


Thus, we come to the answers from yesterday, or at least the answers from last time, since last time was last week, and not yesterday.

#91 was a bit awkward to put into words, but you all got the gist of what I was trying to convey. There is a dog named Angelo in Final Fantasy VIII, and a white-haired man-of-Goddess named Angelo in Dragon Quest VIII. Thus, naturally, the answer was e) VIII, for 55 points.

#92 was an interesting trek into the realm of psychology, thanks to Knighttrain. The unconditioned stimulus described in his question was d) hitting the patellar tendon, for 50 points (and 100 for Knighttrain himself). You know, when the doctor hit my knee with the little mallet to test for reflexes as a little kid, I used to think that my leg was supposed to jerk upwards automatically, and thus, I thought for years that I was guilty of cheating somehow, since I did the motion on my own. Ah, stupid children...

Yet another tilde gets handed today; this time it's to the sixteenth-place DEREK, who is now up to 226 points. Congratulations; I would cover yours in chocolate syrup if that were a feasible idea.

~


With that, the price for a tilde o' recognition just went up to 400 points! Keep working at it, and start with these questions:

Question #93:
How tall am I? (65 points)

a) 5'4"
b) 5'6"
c) 5'8"
d) 5'10"
e) 6'

Question #94:
Ask GaijinMonogatari!--> In the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", detective Eddie Valiant finds himself in an "out of order" restroom. The graffiti on the wall says "For a good time, call...." who? (45 points)

a) Jessica Rabbit
b) Allysin Wonderland
c) Betty Boop
d) Lena Hyena
e) Daisy Duck

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

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


I'm spent, people. I'll give you some more Q&A action in the morrow though, so hang in there until I return. While you're hanging in there, you might want to send some mail (wink, wink) my way. If so, what do you think about battle mechanics? Do you like the ability to avoid your adversaries? Do you enjoy being able to do button combinations in order to enhance your powers or evade enemies? Let me know what's on your mind, by all means...and any means necessary!

Toodaloo!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is all out of ideas for dinner.


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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

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