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ASK MATT
Haunted Mouse March 1, 2006

Matt Demers - 00:35 EST

A MYSTERIOUS PHENOMENON HAS GRIPPED MY BEDROOM. For some reason, I was unpacking my suitcase this morning, and I pulled out my Logitech cordless PS2 controller to find the light on and blinking, despite the fact that the receiver was certainly still in my booksack, and not in my PS2, which was turned off anyway. Maybe I don't understand how things work because I'm just dumb, but something seems odd about it. I'd conclude that controller-haunting spirits are playing pranks, but perhaps this is just what I get for going against my usual policy of using Sony-only PS2 equipment (or Nintendo-only Nintendo system peripherals, etc).

So, what do you guys have to point out today? The Final Fantasy IX track that I mentioned yesterday, by the way, has been running on loop through my brain for the last 24 hours straight now... I'm all awash with emotion!




L E T T E R S
From the other side of the emucoin


Hey Matty,

It's been a while since I last wrote in. I gave up on SOCK aspirations a loooong time ago....

I wanted to comment on a couple of the issues I read about while not studying for tonight's midterm...

Matt

Aha, yes... I'm quite familiar with the study-procrastination. It's the same study-procrastination that didn't result in the mark of 55% on my Numerical test a few weeks back now. What DID cause that? Obviously, I am just a moron!

It's too bad about SOCK! I was looking forward to co-hosting with you someday. Also, I'm trying to fish for real prize-ideas, so if anything good comes up, the people with lots of points accumulated will have a serious advantage! Oh well; I understand. Anyway, what's on your mind?

Emulation:
I played a lot of emulated games when I lived in Germany and going to high school. I would download and play almost anything that caught my eye. That was because at the time, there was like a total of 5 RPGs available in the market... and I couldn't afford to import them. Until I got a job and modded my SNES. I knew the legalities, and I used to do it anyways.

I take a look at it as follows... downloading a game whether it is PC, ROM, or PS2, is all the same thing. The age of the game doesn't matter - the owner of the game's copyright holds it for 75 years. So even though it is no longer in distribution, the item is still copyrighted and shouldn't be districuted in this way. It can't be seen as a victimless crime.

Just read the legal warnings that come with newer games. It says that backup copies are *not* allowed. It seems like it is now explicitily mentioned since it was a legal loophole that the early emulation scene abused to get their way. Sure being able to translate and modify the games can make them playable or more interesting... but look at it this way... Ever beaten a nintendo game? At the end it says... "Characters, Scenario and Program" Copyright. It means that the source code that comprises the program is also protected by copyright laws.

Matt

That's right... and whether people think it's "stupid" or not, that's the way things are. It's not exclusive to video games, either... the same goes for movies, music, and more. The purpose is to protect the companies that GIVE us these very things in the first place, because without them, well, we wouldn't have to worry about copying; no new games would even exist TO copy! Sure, the idea seems a bit extreme... but it isn't completely devoid of truth.

Another way to look at this is... I played FF3 as a downloaded ROM. By doing so, I will have made 1 of 2 situations come true.

1- I've already played and beaten the game, so why spend money on it if a release comes out.
2- I've played and beaten it, but would like to own it for my collection, so I would still buy it if it comes out. The remake of FF3 with its added content is a bonus.

Anyways, playing downloaded games that I didn't pay for leaves a sour taste in my mouth. As an aspiring software developer the thought of someone else "stealing" my hard work leaves me a little bitter... and may one day lead me to be unemployed.

There are plenty of games available in the here and now, and most people have extensive game collections.. There are always things to play, so why bother "stealing" them?

Matt

You're demonstrating my feelings pretty closely, Sean. I liken this subject to, say, a dishonest student who steals some poor nerd's perfect assignment solutions and then gives them to the rest of the class. It's not really fair. Having someone else distribute my hard work for free when I'm trying to sell it to make money myself would be really discouraging.

Nintendo Revolution:
A game list of which titles would be playable was leaked a while back by IGN. On the list? Mostly first party and a few second party NES, SNES and N64 games. The fun part? They would be sold for $3-20 apiece, or rented for a monthly fee. Dreams of getting Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG cone true, but not the same for other titles. I guess most other games still have a marketable value...

Anyways, gotta leave for a midterm cram study group...

~Sean~~


Matt

I'd prefer to wait for something a little more official, but I really hope that these aren't SOLD at all. When I first heard about this Revolution capability, I might have been mistaken, but I felt like they implied that the library of old games would be free to browse through, download, and play. I can't say that I wouldn't be disappointed if Nintendo tried to charge ten bucks a pop. I can't say either, though, that I'd be particularly surprised.

Thanks for taking the time, Sean! I hope to hear from you again soon!



A slime: Your brain on DQ-crack


Matt,

As a trusted DQ aficionado, I trust you'll know the answer to this. Why is Dragon Quest CRACK? I had the chance to watch, simply watch, a few friends play DQVIII for about an hour today, and after playing five minutes of it myself, I'm totally hooked. It's amazingly fun.

Sadly, I don't have a PS2 myself. Tragic, really. I do have an old PS1 hanging around the house; are any of the PS1 DQ games anywhere near as fun as DQVIII is, in your opinion? I really enjoyed the mechanics of the game; the battle system, wandering around the world map, etc. It was a little more free-form than Final Fantasy, which makes for a nice change. Thanks!

~Cheese~


Matt

Well, I've told people for years... and I'm so glad that people are finally catching on with DQVIII! If it hooks you in the right way, Dragon Quest DOES become a horrible addiction; I found out the hard way when I was only eight or nine years old, and my grandma was the only link I had to the RPG genre.

Dragon Quest games (and specifically DQVIII) are addictive because the package is so complete. The battle system is very strong yet simple and easy-to-pick up. The storyline is wonderful yet never becomes an overcomplicated mess of convolution.

While the NES games are very addictive as well, the only PS1 entry into the series, Dragon Warrior VII, isn't quite stacked up. It has a large number of very well-spun mini-stories throughout the game, but many people feel like the game drags in length; there are many times that it does indeed feel long and drawn out. The world, also, is nowhere near as open and huge as it is in Dragon Quest VIII; it feels as if there is little to discover, and indeed there isn't much to find scattered about the land. I still think it's a good game, but I think that you have to be a fairly hardcore fan to be able to appreciate it.

If you're interested in Dragon Quest, I'd really recommend to you Dragon Warrior III or IV; III should be pretty easy to find, since it was just re-released a few years back for the Game Boy Color in a rather fantastic remake. DWIV might be more difficult to track down, but it's one of my favourite video games of all time, and almost certainly the strongest RPG that the NES boasted, even if very few people actually played it all those years ago.



We have enough drama in real life... do we need it in our RPGs, too?


Dear Matt,

I've read on and off for the last 6 years now, and never really had the urge to write until last night, while perusing the Friday Q&A.

I was most surprised to hear that noone had ever voiced any sort of positivity for Rhapsody... I thought it was quite brilliantly done. Wonderful music and characters, charming story, and it didn't try to take itself seriously at ALL.

Matt

Well, to be very honest, I'm not basing that opinion on much more than the little bit of second-hand information I've received over the past months, as well as more than a few sub-par reviews. Take a look here if you're bored sometime.

Which is one of the most annoying things plagueing most recent RPGs. Always full of anti-heros who're trying to be "Cooler" or more snarky than the last. I swear if I have to read through one more text-box of some pop-culture punk stroking his own ego I'm goind to sand down the disk and use it for a coaster. FFVIII made me wretch particularly for that reason... I had to literally force myself to play through that heap, ever worried that all the Melrose-esque angst was going to come pouring out of one of the disks and permanently render my poor PSX disabled.

Which brings me to ask, are there any more light-hearted RPGs in the works? Not necessarily the vein of KH, but rather just goofy niche RPGs that have more basic charm and character than would attract most people.

Matt

There are actually a lot of games out there, especially in recent times, that fit the bill, I think. I'd highly recommend Disgaea or its kindred if you're into Tactical RPGs; Disgaea 2 is also in development even as you read these words. So is Mother 3, and if Earthbound is any indication of what we should expect, then it won't disappoint in terms of its "attitude" at the very least. Even Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana performed the job of being a light-hearted game adequately well, but since it was pretty boring and fairly crappy, I'd give you a warning flag.

If you're looking for something funny and fun, don't turn your nose up at any RPG starring Mario. I have yet to truly be let down by one, even if there's something lacking in the newest entry, Partners in Time. The games are always hilariously well-written and well-translated; my favourites so far are Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. Do give them a chance!

Secondly, I'm surprised so many people dislike Secret of Evermore. I honestly can't really think of any real complaints I had when I played through :3 Much less DWII... I think that's probably the game I've played through the most times of any game ever.

Matt

Reeeaaalllly!? You're kidding me! I love both games, but there are few people out there that will admit to enjoying Dragon Warrior II. I think Secret of Evermore's biggest problem is simply that people associate it with Secret of Mana and scoff; clearly that association shouldn't be made in the first place. On its own, I think that Secret of Evermore is a decently solid Action RPG that can be a lot of fun to play.

Ok, now a couple of other questions for you:

Have you ever played any MUDs, Like DragonRealms or Gemstone? I know alot of RPG players shun the thought of graphicless RPGs, but I've been playing DR for a good 3 years now, and even with a few breaks here and there, I've always gone back, whereas with graphical MMOs like FFXI or WoW, I tend to max out and get bored in only a month or two. The amount of detail in games like DragonRealms is just astonishing, not to mention the lack of "ZOMG ir l33t" is a wonderful breath of fresh air.

And secondly, do you watch anime at all? If so, what are your favorites?

-Crow


Matt

Well, I'm going to have to answer your last couple of questions with a disappointing "no"; however, I'm absolutely not against graphicsless RPGs by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I've even gone as far as to play my own RPG creations with friends over MSN Messenger, and with relative success, I might add. To me, graphics are often just illustrations to the book. Not including them gives a person a chance to exercise their creative juices, allowing imagination alone to take over. In my opinion, if you can read fiction novels, there's no reason that graphicsless RPGs should be unappealing!

Also, I'm not really an anime fan, no. I used to occasionally watch Pokémon back when my brother was really into the show, and at the time, I was playing through the games, but that was... years ago, now. Other than that, I can't really say that I have watched any series. Perhaps things would be different if I had some extra time on my hands... it's hard to say.

In any event, thanks, Crow, for the letter!



Oh, brother


What kind of chance do you give Mother 3 of ever making it stateside? I'm thinking that it won't happen, however I have a genius idea. All of the big websites should start a little uproar and post "We want Mother 3" pages on their websites or something like that and it will influence Nintendo into giving the Mother series another chance. You do know how loyal Earthbound fans are, and how much we want to see another game in English. What are your thoughts?

Brett


Matt

Well, I had my doubts too, for a time, but with more information and screenshots slowly surfacing, I'm starting to (dangerously) get my hopes up. If in fact it is released in Japan, I'd be very surprised if it didn't get localized for North America, if only because such a huge number of North American fans have waited for a sequel for ten years, and many, many, many were upset when Earthbound 64 fell through the cracks. I, for one, would be crushed, like an aluminum can under the heel of someone who likes making crunching sounds with aluminum cans.

I also think that it would make very good business sense for Nintendo, if indeed they hope to juggle the success and longevity of both of their two handhelds. The Game Boy Advance is starting to lack on the release date front... and Mother 3 might give the system a little boost of life. We're all crossing our fingers, "we" being "me", at least.



News: Visit often!


I was wondering if there was any way I can sign up to get updates on Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS when they become available. If you could tell me I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,
Adam


Matt

Sillykins... new updates shall be posted on the front page as soon as we hear anything, so never you fear! Just visit RPGamer regularly, add a dash of patience, and everything will be just fine. You're in the same boat as everyone else; you have no idea how much I want to play FFIII DS, because it looks so awesome, and I've wanted to play an official translation of FFIII for many, many years! So, hang on tight...more news will arrive soon.



A little spectroscopic analysis of RPGs


I have a quick question for you that may have been asked already! What do you think about RPGs that focus on battles and leveling up, versus RPGs that focus on plot and character development? Personally I find that (arguably) the two biggest series, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, are on opposite ends of this spectrum.

-Daniel H.


Matt

Well, you'd think so at first glance, but I think that the lines are blurrier than you might think initially. Dragon Quest really isn't what it used to be; the plotline of DWVII was fairly solid, if a bit long-winded, and the plot of DQVIII is one of my sister's favourite parts of the whole game, and she has never enjoyed a Dragon Quest game before.

Final Fantasy is strong BECAUSE it combines powerful plot/character development with addiction-causing methods of character-building. FFX's sphere grid and Calm Lands arena inspired an enormous number of players to continue powering up for hours of game time after the conclusion of the game, and if that isn't a focus on battles and levelling-up, well, I don't know what is!

To me, RPGs have to have some sort of mix of both in order to be "wonderful", but if I had to choose one of the two, I'd have to go with battles. A flowery story is meaningless if there isn't a game to back it up with; I've said it many times before, but RPGs have the G in them for a reason- they're games, for heaven's sakes. Without the battles and the levelling up, you're left with a beautifully-illustrated book, and that's about it! I don't mean to say that a good background story and strong characters aren't important; they are. It's just that other things are more important-- to me, anyway.



Scapegoats (...why isn't it "scapesheep"?)


Hey Matt

Answers to todays sock:
123) a
124) d

Anyway, I wanted to throw in my opinion about violence in video games. A couple of months ago I read a story on video game violence in the Reader's Digest. It talked about how a sixteen year old kid was arrested for throwing someone out of his car and drove away with it, and later shot down two policemen while they were trying to arrest him. When he was asked later at the local jail why he did it, he said that he did it in Grand Theft Auto and thought it seemed pretty cool. I may not have the story down exactly word for word, but the whole article was aimed at raising awareness to these violent games our children play and the influencial affect on their behavior. First of all, I would like to point out that I do not in any way condone games like GTA. I think that they are stupid, and an insult to gaming. Titles like these give video gaming a bad name that it does not deserve. However, I agree with you when you said that parents are the root of this problem. Yes, games have a huge impact on kids, but so does the 7 hours of TV they watch every day; so does the music industry with its extremely sexual and violent lyrics, and much more influencial stimuli that a kid is bombarded with every single day. Yet each of these things (games, tv, and music) have there own good qualities to them. There are plenty of decent games, tv shows, and music. The problem is that parents these days fail to moniter what their children do, as well as teach them the difference between right and wrong, and reality and fantasy. In the case mentioned above, the kid was 16-years-old. Well past the age of when he should know the difference between right and wrong. I think it is lazy to blame the video game industry for the actions of this kid. If this kid was properly taught to value other peoples lives and property, and was monitered in what he was doing, and his parents made sure he didn't own and play the game in the first place if that's where they're going to place the blame, then never once should the thought of stealing a car and killing a couple of police officers go through his mind. And if he still did it anyway, he would not have been a victim of poor upbringing and improper socialization, but would have been rightly labled as a psychopath. I do think it is a shame, however, that these types of games exist, however they are only a small piece of the puzzle in why these kids kill people simply because they did it on a video game. That's how I feel about it. And to the parents of the world, if your going to blame all of these external factors such as video games on your kid's violent behavior, DON'T BUY THEM THE GAME IN THE FIRST PLACE. There's a reason why these games have ratings, and why there's a law that says kids under seventeen can't buy them. Also, to those kids out there that commit violent crimes and blame them on video games, remember that they are JUST GAMES. Real life has consequenses. Make sure that before you play these games that you understand that.

KnightTrain


Matt

You certainly raise a lot of good points! Parents really do need to pay more attention to what their kids are up to, and sure, it's good for them to know about the games they're playing. I think it's more important that kids are just made aware that shooting people or setting them aflame, or whatever you want to do... is just not acceptable. This shouldn't be difficult thing to teach kids!

Quite frankly, though, while I'm not a psychospecialist by any means, if anyone is truly unable to discern between what is fun in a game and what is an unacceptable action in reality, they are mentally unwell. Putting the blame on a game is equivalent, to me, to growing hideously fat and then putting the blame on McDonald's, or developing lung cancer and suing cigarette companies for compensation. These people *HAVE* to know that their situations are their own damn faults; I wish they'd instead stand up and take some responsibility for their own actions. Bleah, what a stressful topic, and I have a half-dozen more e-mails addressing this topic, too... more to come tomorrow!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Today's experiment has worked wonderfully: I have duly proven that four hours of sleep make for a very sleepy version of my normal self. Upon conclusion of writing this puppy, I think I'm going to slide underneath my very warm comforter and have a lion's catnap.

What else did I have to share today? I can't even remember. Bah! There's something else, but maybe I'll remember it for tomorrow's column. Anyway...

Flashay!


Before leaping into today's new questions, let's look at yesterday's duo:

#123 was perhaps a bit difficult unless you've actually played Dragon Warrior IV; I have every area, every monster, and every monster's HP and skills totally memorized just out of love, so it's easy for me. The first game that King Slimes appeared in was Dragon Warrior IV. I remember the first time it happened quite well, because I was so impressed to see the animation of the slimes all getting together- and so shocked that they did in the first place. You can fight them in the northern regions of the continent you explore in Chapter 4, and the spell that they know is c) FendSpell, which is an interesting spell that doesn't even exist in later games: FendSpell surrounds the target in a fog that prevents any spells from affecting the him/her except for those that are cast by the target him/herself. Very, very useful for boss battles, and also, for 90 SOCK points.

#124 was a relatively simple question that Bainick sent up from the other side of the world; d) Serge is the star of Radical Dreamers, and as most of us know, went on to be the main character of Chrono Cross. 75 points to all correct-guessers, and 150 to Bainick!

Question #125:
Which of the following does my university mascot have? (100 points)

a) A lance
b) A blue colouring
c) A burgundy colouring
d) A pair of horns
e) A pair of wings

Question #126:
Ask Gaijin!-->What's the original (Japanese) name for the Chrono Cross (and Radical Dreamers) character, Lynx? (100 points)

a) Kuroneko
b) Toraneko
c) Yamaneko
d) Mikeneko
e) Bakaneko


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

800 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!)


I daresay that I have not much more to say for today, but tomorrow's column will be filled to the brim with all sorts of new letters. You guys have been especially keen with the mail lately, so if I don't get around to posting your letter right away, don't despair... eventually, I'll get to it!

Whether you're an experienced writer-inner, or you've never sent anything before, please don't hesitate to chat! Send me a message, and you might just get to see your letter posted in Q&A someday soon!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is feeling uncharacteristically tranquil.


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