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ASK OUROBOLUS & MATT
Stop Gnawing on my Leg! February 11, 2006

Josh Martz - 03:13 EST

AGH! I'M BACK! This is my second foray into the Q&A world, so hopefully all goes well. I've somehow amassed 2,000+ SOCK points, but then I was placed on staff here as an Editorialist (Speaking of which...if you haven't read mine, you're missing out on incredible literature...truly :D), so I need to pose a question: Should I continue with mercilessly destroying you guys in SOCK? Since I'm on staff, I don't know, so I haven't submitted any answers in about a week. Luckily, being on staff does have its perks, as I am now one step closer to shaking Matt off of his Q&A coil. Bwahahahaha! I don't see what group would be complete without a maniacal good guy with an (somewhat) evil agenda.

Maybe I'll go to 5,000. Either that, or I'll just take over for Matt should he get sick or "something." In all seriousness, it's been fun, and Matt's a good guy as well, especially if he can put up with me and my odd sense of humor.




L E T T E R S
I don't think he really means what he says.


w00t,


Ourobolus

Die.

first time e-mailing for me. I hope I'm not breaking every rule of internet etiquette in the process, but nonetheless!


Ourobolus

Oh, I'm sure you will. It's ok, I think I do it practically every time I type something. Tact...isn't really my thing.

On the subject of the worst RPG ever...well wow.


Ourobolus

World of Warcraft? I think there are plenty of people out there who would have your head!

To be honest, I've hardly ever played any RPG that I couldn't find something good about, you know? But then I remember Hoshigami...oh, sweet Rubiss how I loathe that game!

Ourobolus

Oh. Never mind.

It isn't really its own fault, you know; it's just that I picked it up and saw that Quest had produced it, and being a big ol' Ogre Battle fanboy I had to try it out. I was so sorely disappointed. The game was, for me, sticky and slow and altogether unpleasant to play. I have a thing about battle and ability systems being intuitive, and Hoshigami's were clunky as all hell and not one bit intuitive. It's a game I keep up on the shelf for display, but I will probably never touch, let alone conquer.

Ourobolus

I never had the pleasure(?) of playing Hoshigami, although it did tempt me, since I'm a HUGE fan of TRPGs. But then, I heard nothing good about it, so I pretty much ignored any and all possibility of playing it. However, I tried Ogre Battle...and...I didn't really like it. I don't really know why, but I found it decidedly boring, and resumed playing Super Mario RPG.

However, battle systems SHOULD be intuitive, I agree. Or, failing that, a small learning curve. That's the main reason why I didn't like Unlimited Saga...absolutely nothing about it made any sense.

And yeah...I didn't like Final Fantasy VII, myself. *Waits to be stoned*


Ourobolus

..and let He, who is without a giant armored monster terrorizing Spira, cast the first stone.

It's just that I saw it as being so cliche...there was a good story there, potentially, but when you despise Sephiroth as much as I do it's kind of impossible to like anything that's going on. Love for Tifa and Red XIII, though. They made it bearable. I really hope that there won't be a FFVII remake, personally, because I remember missing out on a lot of great PsX RPGs when it came out in '97 and foreshadowed every single thing that was released at the same time. What if Shin Megami Tensei 4, which will obviously be a more worthwhile purchase, comes out for Ps3 at the same time as a FFVII remake? Nobody would pay attention to MegaTen4. It would go completely unnoticed, drowned out by the soudn of fanboys screaming "OMGCLOUD!!!!!2" Worse yet...what is Square-Enix decided to release Dragon Quest IX at the same time...? I shudder to think.

Ourobolus

Well, first off, S-E would be completely IDIOTIC to release a Dragon Quest game and a Final Fantasy game at the same time. They'd probably still make a profit, sure, but DQ and FF are rival products. Some gamers only have enough money to purchase one game at any given moment, and by the time they buy the second one, the product may have dropped in price, meaning less profit. And if they were released in America at the same time? Dragon Quest would probably be overshadowed by Final Fantasy, sadly.

However, I have yet to play a MegaTen game (though I have been meaning to, I promise), but I hear good things. But considering the market for those games is much smaller in the US than Japan, I'd agree that it would undoubtedly get passed over by most.

As for Final Fantasy VII...well, I don't think I would mind a remake! In all honesty, it was a good game. It's not my favorite, and it did spawn an entire mass of gibbering fanboys, but it was still a good game. Remaking it with better graphics and updated music would be a good marketing move on S-E's part, especially when you take into account the fanbase. Whether this will happen...I have no idea.

Well, I should ask a question, here. And while we're on the subject of Dragon Quest, here goes. I noticed while playing through DQVIII that there were a lot of subtle jabs at our nation's leader plunked down into the localization. Take a look at the bestiary entries for monsters like "Head of State" and the like to clarify my point. What do you think of that, really? I didn't mind it so much, but I found it to be kind of Lunar-y after a while in that, when I inevitably pick the game up and play it again five years down the road (I'm as big on Dragon Quest as you are), I might roll my eyes for some time. Do you think things like that hurt a translation? And do you think our venerable leader would be offended to see things like that? Just curious; I've been wondering what you think about this for some time.

Janus


Ourobolus

I'm going to assume you're talking about Canada (cause, well, the current American President is Republican), since, you know, there seems to be some sort of Canadian Q&A conspiracy going on here. But yes, you are talking about the Democrobot, no? Other than that, I'm not sure what references you're talking aboot. But even so, small prods at political figures or pop culture are fine by me...they tend to add a bit of humor to the game, which is a quality I'm always happy to see. It shows that the developers are human too. :)

However, I think Matt should put in his 0.0229083 CAD in.

Matt

Yo. All up-to-date with the most current exchange rate, even, hmm? You've been doing your homework, Ourobolus! I'm proud of ye.

*digs around in his wallet to find his 29083/100000ths-of-a-cent coin*

Yeah, I do know what you're talking about, Janus; for anyone that hasn't done so already, go read the description of the "left wing" enemy in the Monster List of DQVIII: It says something along the lines of "Whines incessantly about the activities of the head of state, body politic, and right wing, but lacks the motivation to actually do anything about it". Also, in both the description of the democrobot AND when it forms in battle, the left wing is described as "the other right wing". It sounds to me like we have some jabs against American politics there, indeed! Enough for a chuckle, anyway.



It's what's inside that counts. Unless you're filled with peanuts.


Dear Matt and Ouro,

Hey you two. Congratulations Ourobolus, on earning your second guest-hosting accolade!


Ourobolus

Acco-what?


Ouro's Brain

You know, an award! Idiot.

Oh yeah...Well thank you! It's a good thing you've started praising me now...I won't have to coerce you in the future!

I'm certainly looking forward to reading your responses. Here's my question to the two of you: What things do you like to see in a good RPG? I don't mean monumental things, but rather what small niuances catch your attention when they're present in the game? For me, I like a game where you actually hear voice acting in the actual battles, be it Japanese or English. I also like a game that allows you to see enemies in a dungeon or the overworld. Good music also racks up brownie points. So what things catch your attention? Thanks as always guys. I'm expecting Tales of Legendia to arrive at my door sometime today. Hope it's good. Seeya later!

The man with waaaaaaaay too many games to finish,
~Donovan


Ourobolus

It's always the small things that make a game go from good to great. I'm gonna have to disagree with you on the voice acting, though. While I like it for story sequences (if it's done well...), having characters shout during battle drives me nuts (I'm looking at you, Star Ocean 2). Though I do like it when Yangus says "Flippin' 'ell" when he dies - it just seems to fit there. What do I find? I'm...really not sure. It's the overall feel of the game, really. If you want to go on ahead and classify it as 'immersion,' then let's go with that. If I can identify with things that are going on, or if a story sequence proves to be especially adept at evoking the emotion it was designed to bring out, then I'm quite content in the game. One of the biggest reasons as to why Xenogears is my favorite game was the fact that the characters all had their problems that were described in such detail, that I began to care about what happened. Not many games can say that they've done that to me.

Matt

I have to agree with you on the voice acting thing, Ouro... it's not that I don't LIKE the idea of voice acting in battles, the main problem is that inevitably, you'll start hearing the same voice clips over and over and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER... and over and over again, within the first few battles. If there was one thing wrong with Disgaea, that was it; even though it's been almost a year since I played it last, I can just HEAR Laharl in my mind's ear going "Hmmm... cha! Bite-the-dust! BABOOMKAPOW!!!!" While the voice clips might be good or really funny the first time, the effect wears off quite noticeably by the sixty-sixth.

Music = Enormous points. I've got one of those phonographic memories, so I tend to memorize music the moment I hear it, so...if it's stuck in my head and it's terrible music, I will probably have issues with that game in some form. I don't like muting the game while playing, so if I have to tolerate the music, then...puppies may be tossed at the TV.

Matt

No puppies here, but you just can't have a spectacular RPG without above-average music; it's almost a make-or-break element to me, quite honestly. Like you, Ouro, I believe that I shouldn't have to mute a game, or even turn it down much, while I'm playing. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves occurs at home when one of my parents or sisters walks into the living room while I'm playing and tells me to turn it down. I've responded by turning if OFF on more than one occasion before leaving in a melodramatic huff.

(Developers, take note: Music = IMPORTANT)

Matt's sister, Diane

We only tell you to turn it down when it's blasting through the whole house and no one can hear anything ASIDE from that...!

What is this, a party? Grrr... who asked you, anyway??

*eats Diane*

My favorite encounter system are those that allow you to see the enemy. I don't think you should HAVE to fight. I think you should be able to fight at your own pace, and if you get to a boss that's too difficult, it's your own fault! On that note, both Matt and I are currently stuck on the same stupid boss in Dragon Quest VIII (it's a bonus boss, don't worry), and he is...absolutely insane. I've managed a whole 500 damage on him, over the course of an hour, which is just disgusting.


Matt

What, you caught up with me!? I thought it was freaky when the last boss did over a thousand damage to me in one hit... but the current one, unfortunately, takes the impossicake.

Good luck with ToL!! Let me know how it is!



Quoth the Raven: "Evermore!"


Howdy there, Matt.

I try to keep my e-mails to your great column as controlled as possible, though I've been tempted to send one out to just about every question you post.

Ourobolus

Feel free to rant...I don't think I've asked an actual RPG question in the column in years.

However, I'm posting now because I gotta be your back-up on Secret of Evermore. That game was really a lot of fun, and one of my favorite RPGs, actually. The storyline was corny, yeah, but it was supposed to be, and I actually thought it was very funny. Plus, the alchemy system for magic was much more successful than people seem to remember. I'm usually very intolerant of systems that require me to put in a lot of extra hours, foraging in random places to scrounge up nearly useless items, but, by including the necessary ingredients in both searchable sections in areas and in monster battles, SoE kept me awake and interested, and gave me a reason to grind through battles, other than just for experience. I can definitely see why it would be a polarizing game, but I still think it had merits that should be defended.

Anyway, that's just my little piece.

Keep up the awesome work.

JMM


Ourobolus

Ahhhh...Secret of Evermore. I enjoyed that game, I'll admit. Yes, the storyline was designed to not be taken seriously - "Well, as 'Dusty' Duffy McGander says in 'Perilous Patrol Over Pluto:' 'We may not have a rat's chance in a room full of cats, but we're gonna go after that cheese.'" - and that was fine by me. Going to have to disagree with you on the alchemy thing, though. I felt that a good 85% of the spells were useless, and none of them were worth levelling up, besides Heal. So while it was a very simplistic system, the depth that they DID provide wasn't needed.

SPOILER: Boss of the game = Energize + Barrier + Some Lv3 Weapon. END SPOILER

Seriously, that system was so easy to exploit at the end of the game. All in all, however, the game was a delight to play through once, but there wasn't much that made me want to come back.



Strangest monsters yesterday, silliest ones today. What will next week bring?


Matt,

Hello again. I'm away a few days and miss out on the worst game discussion and maniac mansion! Tell me there was someone out there who played Zak McKracken or Day of the Tentacle and disliked it- I dare you! Those old LucasArts games were some of the best of all time.

Matt

I know!! It was sad to see letter after letter coming in with people scratching their heads and going "What in the heck is Maniac Mansion?" I pity the poor souls!

As for the worst RPG ever, if it's still relevant, has anyone out there played Shadow Madness? Good God, this discussion wouldn't even have occured if more people had played that steaming pile. A FFVII knockoff of the worst kind, the characters included a robot with a bucket head and "hot" elfin-type girl who was literally stick thin. Everything about the game was atrocious, particularly the fact that, even though it is a four disc game, you reach the max level some time in the middle of disc two. That means that the random encounters in 65% of the game were utterly and totally pointless. That one did everything but come out of the screen and slap your face while playing it, though the $65 price tag it bore upon release did seem like a slap at the time. That having been said, Unlimited Saga deserves special mention too.

Matt

You dork, of course it's still relevant. This column belongs to YOU guys, so you can talk about whatever you wish, perhaps barring subjects like "The Merits of 1st-Degree Murder", "Timeless Timepieces", or "Guaranteed to Make You 2 Inches More Manly in 48 Hours or Less!" My poor inbox is a holding pit for the latter two; thankfully, I haven't seen any questions about the first to date.

Two things about your last bit of ranting, though:

a) RPG girls are almost always stick thin, and you should know that by now. My favourite part of the whole thing is when there are character stats in the instruction manual; almost ALWAYS, the female hero stands 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs something like 98 pounds, no matter how many digits her physical attacks may inflict. Same thing with the guys; I must say, I'd be quite shocked if any 120-pounders out there could even try to skillfully wield weapons that weigh more than they do. Get real!

b) I've never liked level caps, stat caps, or any sort of caps (especially hub caps... *shudder*). That might be one more thing about both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross that I don't like, though CC is a far greater offender than CT is. They make games seem artificial, or in the worst cases, limited by the inner mathematics of the game.

*glares at ANY 255-caps in the history of RPGaming*

Even 999, 9999, or 99999 caps kind of bother me. I know that they prevent characters from "getting carried away", but it's pretty stupid when, for instance, you put hard work into building a character's level and then use a magic spell that you put your hard-earned MP into casting, just to have it NOT able to take full effect, thanks to a stupid 9999 limit.

So here's my question, but well there really is no contest.... I was going to ask what you think the worst or silliest monster attack in an RPG is, BUT...... if you have played phantasy star III you know the answer. Its a tie between those humongous muscle men who attack you by wagging their pinkies or those muscular guys with the stones on their heads who flex their pecs at you, thus attacking your entire party. I'd like to think that both of these attacks were jokes thrown into the game by the designers, but sadly I suspect they were not. Top that, if you can!

Sgt Dawkins


Matt

Evidently, you haven't played Earthbound or the Mario & Luigi games. I'll get to Earthbound in a second, but M&L monsters have the zaniest, silliest attack patterns ever, and while I can't really name anything specific, you'd totally understand if you gave the game a try. Dodging attacks or attempting to counterattack often sends me into uncontrollable laughing fits, as I've mentioned before.

Earthbound, however, is king: Nowhere else do you have monsters that burp, causing the party to start crying uncontrollably (yes, that's a status ailment). Nowhere else do you have monsters that shoot beams causing nighttime stuffiness (yes, another form of bad status: Ness sneezed and took 4 HP worth of damage!) Nowhere else will you see the words "Scalding Coffee Cup spills some hot espresso!"

Earthbound is a game I LOVE just for that silliness, spread everywhere throughout the game. The people behind it had such an amazing sense of humour... if we ever do get a sequel, I will be incredibly disappointed if the silly stuff doesn't come with it.



First things first.


Good morning Matt and Ourobolus!


Ourobolus

Look! He said my name! Woo! My plan is slowly unfurling!!! Soon...the poisoning and eventual demise of "Matt and!" Hahahahaha...oh. A question. Crap.

Matt

*readies a table leg*

You really do have to play a game before giving critisinging it don't you. I mean i've heard a lot of flak about Crono Cross but after finally playing it, it reminds me how I fell in love with RPG's. The music is just beautiful and the story so far as not let me down. And the fact that you can alter the story by choosing how you respond to people males it a lot less linear then most games aka the Final Fantasy series with exeption to 6. So my questions are what games have the music been so great that you have ignored the lesser quality of the story and or graphical qualty of the game, and which rpg game deserves a sequal? My choice is Terranigma but it already a non direct sequal to Illusion of Gaia/Time and Soul Blazer (I think).

Anywho thanks.

Bainick says Veni, Vedi, Vici. But only on Sundays!


Ourobolus

Well of course. I couldn't criticize Matt's job until I actually took part in it, right?
Matt's Doppelganger

What was that? Did you say something?

No, no! Just...answering questions, that's all! Can I have my teddy back?


Matt's Doppelganger

Not until you've finished, and know all of the words to O Canada!

But, but...oh...all right. Chrono Cross does have a special place in my heart. The music to me is still one of the greatest game soundtracks ever created. Time's Scar, Chronopolis, The two Overworld themes, Arni Village, etc...all of them are absolutely incredible. As for the story, I'm confused as to what you mean by "alter the story." From what I recall, you have several choices as to what characters you can recruit, and in what order you go to some places, but I can't remember ever changing the story. If you mean the different endings you can get through New Game+, then yes, you can do that, but other than that... ::shrugs::

Music driving me to play a game? My answer is a big fat Unlimited Saga. Eventually, the terrible battle system and randomness got to me and I stopped playing, but the thing that kept me going was the great music. I still stand by Battle Theme I being one of the best battle themes I've ever heard, and the rest of the music was equally enjoyable. But...augh...that game was worse than being attacked by spoon-toting rabid weasels. And I should know.

Which game deserves a sequel (Yes, Soul Blazer -> Illusion of Gaia -> Terranigma)? That's a toughie. I think Xenogears deserves a true PREquel, but meh...I suppose I'll have to just dream about it. I think the Fallout series could use a new entry, and none of that "Tactical" Brotherhood of Steel drivel they produced a few years back. That game was just...awful. I would most welcome a new Fallout game, so I could continue my quest of mutant genocide.



Oh sigh...sigh I say!


Hey Matt

I must say this.Buy grandia3 it is a game that has very good grafix and the story is really good I think. and you can fly all around the worldmap with rain sometimes and mists sometimes and sun sometimes and you can speed the plane up.It is really funny and the game itself is very funny.and the battle system is the best ever create and the game is very hard not too hard but if you donīt level up often you will never win the bosses and it is about 40-60hours long however I played it for 72hours. so tell me are you gonna buy this game or not I hope you do.


Matt

I really wish I could! In a perfect world, I'd have infinite time on my hands to play new RPGs. I have a major problem right now, in that while I finally have the ability to purchase games on my own, without tugging on mom's skirt incessantly, I suddenly find myself with not nearly as much time to play, an unfortunate consequence of being a graduate student. Why must life always be unfair?

Also, in a perfect world, I'd have my own show, and it would have my own theme music. Wasn't that the way a Saturday Night Live sketch making fun of The View started? Hee hee hee...

At any rate, you never know what could happen; I have to confess, though, that with a lineup of games to get through, and several new releases on the horizon, Grandia III isn't on my priority list, I must admit.



Why would anyone bring up this evil, evil man??


Ok Matt or Cast or Ouro or whatever other guest might be hosting...


Ourobolus

Me.

I would like to get your thoughts on the recent casting of Christopher Lee in Kingdom Hearts II. I mean really, he is in everything these days. Do you think he will add or take away anything from the game with his voice acting?

Ourobolus

Well, I don't know if having a specific voice in a game could make or break it (Except for James Earl Jones...that man could sell toasted puppy, and people would buy it), but it could add a bit of a familiar feel. But people knowing that a well-known actor is taking part in a game could certainly draw some attention to it. I definitely don't think that it would take away from actually PLAYING the game, though.

What would you think about a DQ/FF crossover game? What aspects would appeal to you and which would not?


Ourobolus

I'd have to go with Final Quest, cause I'm sure that Dragon Fantasy is some weird lewd video out there that 22 year olds with scale and fire-breath fetishes watch late at night while they wait for reruns of Thundercats (HOO!!) to come on.

I'd go with the standard FF battle system, because I think it allows for more flexibility than the same old "Everyone inputs their commands at once" method. However, I've always found (especially recently) that the DQ games are much more difficult than FF, which is a good thing. Graphics are up for grabs, really. Final Fantasy has better stories than Dragon Quest, in my opinion, but Dragon Quest is better at storytelling, if that makes any sense. I'd welcome a crossover, and considering it would be made by the companies that made the original series, it should theoretically be a good product (but, I've been wrong before).

Have fun with the horses...

- Macstorm


Ourobolus

What? How did you know about that? I didn't do anything, Matt put me up to it! I was blackmailed, I tell you - Blackmailed!!

Matt

...and henceforth, this terrible scandal shall be known as the Great Horse Incident of Ourobolus. "Ghio", for short, if you like.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Well, it's me, Matt, again, and I have to say that after a late night of playing Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, I've finished the game off, seen the final credits, heard the uncommonly-styled ending music, and watched as the words "The End" appeared on the screen.

My opinion? I'm underwhelmed, to say the least. Sure, it was a funny game, but it was very evidently nowhere near the quality of the original Mario & Luigi game; it was very short, and felt rushed near the end, too. Could one of my very favourite franchises be going downhill? I certainly hope not.


Flashay!


We must play the Spectacular Competition one more time this week before adjourning for the end-of-the-week period. To do that, we must first look at yesterday's questions.

#111 asked you to model the money received during each step of the Gilgame cave with a difference equation. First, you'd need to know that the Gilgame cave is an area in Final Fantasy V, in which a secret passage leads to big bucks. With every step, you risk fighting a terribly powerful boss... how greedy are you? On your first step, you receive 10 Gil. On your second, 20 Gil. On your third, 40; then 80, 160, 320, 640... all the way up to tens of thousands! Evidently, the NEXT step (Xn+1) is equal to two times the current step (2Xn)! Thus, clearly, the answer is b) for 100 points.

#112 was a question posed by relative newcomer, Dermot, who asked us the name of Lakilester's girlfriend in Paper Mario. The answer, for 75 points, was b) Lakilulu. 150 points go to Dermot for submitting the question! Many thanks.

Question #113:
Ask Ourobolus!--> Which boss are Matt and I currently stuck on? (110 points)

a) Vermillion Dragon
b) Divine Dragon
c) Golden Dragon
d) Emerald Dragon
e) Darksteel Dragon

Question #114:
Ask Xlash!-->When the original Back to the Future movie starts, what time is it? (90 points)

a) 7:28
b) 7:53
c) 8:00
d) 8:18
e) 8:25

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

400 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
2,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (4 remaining!)
5,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #3 (5 remaining!)


Thanks for coping with the pair of us yet again! You've sent in a lot of great letters this week, and I've had a lot of fun. I'll be back next week for more, if that's what you're looking for (actually, even if it's not what you're looking for, I'll still be back).

Please have a safe and relaxing weekend!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt lost at his most recent game of Monopoly.


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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

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