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ASK MATT
Semiconscious March 31, 2006

Matt Demers - 03:18 EST

IF THERE'S ONE THING that I've learned about myself as I've grown up, it's that I have absolutely zero tolerance for people who smell terribly offensive. Today, I witnessed a pair so absolutely rancid-smelling, I honest-to-goodness would have dove into sewer water to get away from them. It really, REALLY smelled as if that excuse for a woman today hadn't showered for a minute of her life, except that it was accentuated by a most peculiarly strong salty (yes, salty) odour, but with an undertone of chronically unscrubbed toilet seat. Actually, that most definitely would be an understatement; the scent that she was most obviously producing was the kind that you could actually feel in the air as a certain heaviness or mugginess. I was standing at the counter innocently paying for my new DS Wi-Fi connecty thing when she drew a little too uncomfortably near; I've never been so close to just leaving a store in the middle of a transaction. It was THAT bad.

If you think I'm being mean or something, then that's too bad. Any human being with a half-decent upbringing should know that is socially inacceptable to go into public smelling like an overstuffed pig barn spattered with a dried-up vomit-salt-sugar solution. Even if she lived in a tiny, crappy apartment with just a trickle of running water, I'm sure that SOMETHING could be done. I have to ask, though, that if you're really that poor that you can't afford to wash yourself, wouldn't it be a better idea to spend your money on something more productive than Sims expansions (which is what she was doing)? I don't know; perhaps I'm being horribly insensitive.

Yup, that was the most offensive introduction ever. I'm fully prepared to lose 5% of my readership, so lay it on me! I don't care; I have to live with that smell etched into my olfactory database forevermore, thank you very much. Anywho, letters, I guess. On to something less stomach-turning!




L E T T E R S
Yikes... from Q&A host to business adviser in 24 hours?


Hi Matt,

Please enjoy this uncharacteristic burst of writing activity from me, which is prompted by the depressing need to get a resume together in order to relieve the dire shortage of money currently available from my bank account.

The relation to the resume is: once I've started writing I feel much better about continuing on any topic that comes to mind. While I'm on this subject and before leaving it; any good resume construction tips?

Matt

What is it with you people lately? This is, believe it or not, the second time in the last three days that a reader has asked me about writing resumés randomly. I must seem awfully on the ball, or something, though I must admit that I seldom update my own. Just a) be honest, b) include all of your most important achievements, even if you think they might be irrelevant, and c) don't typo and put "YOU ARE A GIANT LOSER" somewhere by mistake.

As I know genuine questions/items for discussion in the RPG realm were not contained in the introductory paragraph, why don't I get moving on one of those... Ah yes, your tale of woe regarding the nonexistent localization of Dragon Quest 6 made me realize how late I was arriving to the world of RPGs. I borrowed a friend's SNES in - wow, it must have been 1994. He lent me Final Fantasy II and several other games along with it that are of no particular interest because they weren't RPGs. I seem to have been a particularly stupid child however, (do not let any relative of mine tell you differently, their eyes were clouded by some alien force!) in that I was only able to play FFIV with the help of the manual's introductory guide. Somewhere around the time he-who-was-then Milon shows up I couldn't handle it anymore and stopped playing. Yes, I had no idea what was going on and got my butt pounded into the ground quite well. I also had no idea that the 'save' option being dark meant I couldn't save, to my intense consternation after death. It remained for Super Mario RPG to be my bridge into the genre after all, and that was six years later....

Matt

There there; saving was a new and difficult concept for some of us! Did you know that when my mom, siblings, and I first rented the Super Nintendo + Mario World, we started on somebody ELSE's quest after they had already gotten halfway through Vanilla Dome? Silly little me just thought that the game started with the player able to choose any of fifteen levels or so. Actually, come to think of it, I did the same thing the first time I played Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past- I started on someone's quest; someone who was more than halfway through the game and already in the dark world. For whatever reason, it didn't click with me that there was no intro or beginning at all. Stupid kids... *shrugs*

Now here I have a genuine item of concern - why is this online methodology being so promoted by game companies (save Nintendo) and gaming publications? Especially since I don't foresee being freed from dial-up for a long time to come.... I worked alongside a person addicted to EverCrack several years ago and have no desire to see that happen to me.

Matt

Well, this online methodology is certainly making video companies big buckeroonies, especially if the game in question requires monthly payments of "only" $xx.xx. Grumble...

With regard to FFVII - oh, eventually I'll probably play it. 'Eventually' encompasses quite a long potential time here, however. With so many years of RPG (and other genres - but since I don't much care for 3D action games RPGs would be the top priority) accumulation on the PS and PS2, the irrestible temptation for an enormous eBay binge would be upon me should I dare take the plunge into Sony's sea. eBay sings a horrible siren song to me, you see. Thanks to it I acquired my SNES, Sega CD (laugh! It has a few worthwhile entries including Shining Force CD!), Dreamcast (are there still games being released for it in Japan?), and Saturn. These items of course were not free, and I am unable to acquire a new system without simultaneously acquiring a good library of games. Do not advise me to sample a system's output in moderation, it will not happen. With that caveat laid on the table - feel free to draw up a list of all worthwhile RPGs on the PS1 and 2 that should be obtained. It would seem Wild Arms 4 does not make that list... or have I misconstrued your montage of misery?

Matt

ALL worthwhile RPGs? Ahahahaa... hmm. I'd say that on the PSX, the "must-plays" are certainly the Final Fantasy games; the rest are all niche-ish games that you'll have to sample and see. Suikoden I or II? Breath of Fire III or IV? Dragon Warrior VII? Chrono Cross? (OK, that last one wasn't exactly "niche", but it's not as widely loved as FFVII-IX; that's for sure). The original Wild Arms games? Star Ocean: The Second Story was fun, and from what I've heard, Valkyrie Profile ain't none too shabby neither.

I actually haven't played WA4, though; WA:Alter Code F is what I have been playing; or had been playing, up until my disc went "kersplat". WA:ACF is the remake of the original; WA4 is a different beast altogether, with new plot, characters and a brand new, quicker (from what I've heard) battle system.

Now I bring up Lufia, because this leads into another genuine question. About 5 years ago I played Lufia 1 and, while I finished it, found it singularly unmemorable. 6 months ago I played Lufia 2, which astonished me with the leap in quality between the titles. Should I track down Lufia 1 and play it again, hoping to discover a hertofore unacknowledged quality that my foolishness did not recognize? And are the Lufias on GBC and GBA worth playing? I see conflicting accounts with regard to both....

Matt

See, I really liked the original Lufia, because it gave me a very Dragon Warrior-like game during a time when DQ/DW games were rather scarce. Most people do feel that II is the height of the series, and while Lufia: The Legend Returns is playable, it's not nearly as good. Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, made specifically for the GBA, on the other hand, would be much better used as a handy paperweight.

Sega can regain some semblance of trust from me again if it was to finally bring the entirety of Shining Force III to the US. Having stated that it CAN, I doubt that it WILL. The remake of Shining Force does not seem to have set the charts on fire, though I bought my copy. With no more Shining Force remakes on the horizon I would have to obtain a PS2 (or eventually, 3) to play the new entries in the series, which I gather bear little resemblance in actual play mechanics to any Shining Force title developed by Camelot. Sega and Nintendo may be bosom buddies now, but Sega and Camelot, last I recall, were somewhat strained in relations. A bit of research on my part would probably reveal whether Sega has the ability to remake every Shining Force title or only the ones released before Camelot took its current name, but absent that I will blindly assume Sega does not have Camelot's permission at this time to remake Shining Force III. Even if it did - Sega's budgeteers would have to be diehards like myself to justify the translation of Scenarios 2 and 3 (plus Premium Disc for special people - even though I have it anyway) for Revolution download when so many other games require much less effort to make available for English-language consumption.

Matt

Exactly my thinking; this is why I highly doubt we'll see anything close to a complete library of retro games when Revolution's "awe-inspiring" download-play thinger is finally revealed. I would think that there would be a lot of strings attached when it comes to legal issues. Sure, I'm not a corporate lawyer, but I'm not unfamiliar with the term "Copyright" either.

Or I could fall back onto 'Sega didn't do it before, and they won't do it now! Because Sega of America knows my blistering anger can never be entirely assuaged and they hope never to attract my attention again! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!!!' That argument doesn't wholly reside within a logical foundation however.

Hm. I think I have nothing more pertinent to say at this juncture.
Mike


Matt

Everything will be okay; never fear. Go drink some warm milk, or tea, or get a massage, and most of all, stay AWAY from the caffeine. Your rage will pass eventually, but you aren't alone. As RPGamers, we all get infuriated with companies from time to time for some reason, don't we? Thanks for sharing, in any case. My response: Look on the bright side! There's no sense being a cynic, because cynics just grow into grumpy old people that nobody really likes at all, and then you'll have to move into a crochety little hermithouse up on a hill somewhere, which would be sad.



RPGayming


Hi Matt,

This is probably not something you'd put up on your Q&A, but i'd be curious as to your reply, if you'd have the time.

Matt

Nah, I have nothing else to do at present. What ees on your mind?

I've been reading your Q&A for a while now, but just realized you were gay too (your comment about the cat-boy in BoFIV being hot). Just wondered how being gay and a serious gamer has mixed over time.

Matt

Mmmm... I don't really see the two aspects as having "mixed" at all, per se. I didn't really have many friends who were gay OR who were RPGamers while I was growing up, so I felt a little bit like a loner on both counts. It wasn't until university, really, when I found people who shared common interests as myself in the gaming world, and wouldn't you know it, that's also when I managed to discover gay friends for the first time that I could finally really open up to. I guess, then, that the two areas of my life, while disjoint, are similar in a bizarre sort of way.

I've been a gamer since the 80's, but havent' met very many other gay people who are into games as much as myself. My boyfriend plays the odd PC strategy game, but isn't into the console RPG like myself. What does your b/f think of gaming?

Matt

Well, Tom, my close-friends-ex with whom I co-habitate really enjoys a wide variety of games; he generally plays Halo online a couple of times every day, and otherwise likes strategy games like SimCity or Civilization. I got him into Dragon Quest VIII for awhile, but I don't really think it's "his bag", so to speak, since he hasn't played for about a month now. Oh well... at least I tried.

Also, do you find being a gamer helps you connect with more straight guys on a friend level? I came out fairly early to my friends in highschool (grade 8, back in 92!), and gaming was a way of life back then for us. If it wasn't for games to talk and play together, I dont' believe I'd have as much in common with my male friends, as I wasn't into sports or cars, and obviously girls.

I can tell you're a busy guy, so if you too busy to reply, I won't be offended.

Cheers,
Adam Hartling
Halifax, NS


Matt

Not a problem at all!! I think that yes, when I got to university, gaming helped me identify with some groups of people that I might not have had anything in common with otherwise, and I went to live with a fully-accepting group of four straight guys for three years in a row. Of course, by the end of that period, they had all been affected by a severe case of WoWitis, so I didn't see them much at all, but we always had (and still do have) something to chat about whenever we run into each other.

In any event, I'm glad to meet you! It's nice to know that there are some other "RPGaymers" out there, for lack of a more punny term (and y'all know how much I love my puns).



Aha, more death. Phew, I knew I was missing SOMETHING.


Hey Matt,

This may surprise you, but my biggest disappointment was with Final Fantasy VII. I love the game beyond all reason, but when I first bought it(along with the PSX to play it on), I was absolutely heartbroken that it wasn't two-player. One of these things that makes Final Fantasy VI the greatest Final Fantasy of all time FOR all time(just my opinion) is the two-player option. My best friend and I spent a significant part of childhoods bonding while hunting forest Tyrannosaurs in that forest, and it was the most fun I had ever had playing a video game. I was hoping to recreate a similar experience with FFVII, but those dreams were dashed as soon as read the back of the box. Why don't more rpgs have a two-player option? Some of us would really like to socialize while playing a game without having to pay a monthly fee or deal with the other MMORPG nonsense.

Matt

GOOD POINT! Now, there's a new look at an issue that is rarely talked about. Why shouldn't more RPGs be multiplayer without being "massively" so? Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy VI's two-player modes were both incredibly fun, and it's a real shame that they don't come into play more often. I think Final Fantasy IX had a two-player option as well, but yeah, excellent point. I personally found the 2P mode really great for easing new players into the game. Often, RPG-newbies are a little bit lacking-in-confidence to command many characters at a time with grace, so by taking half the workload off of them, I've found that not only do they get into the game more easily, they get to play alongside a friend/willing adviser.

I thought BoFIII and BoFIV were great games mostly because they contained the thing that is the reason I played BoF in the first place: a guy changing into dragons. Without that element they would have fallen truly flat like...Breath of Fire V! Sorry, had to get that shot in.

Matt

Haha... if you're going to make jabs, don't do it with a Q-tip; he does *too* turn into a dragon if you want him to. Sure, he doesn't really look like a crazy dragon while you're in dragon mode, but it's cool nonetheless. Besides, I wasn't incredibly fond of the turn-into-a-dragon aspect of any of the previous BoF games anyway; I liked the games more for their old-school challenge than anything.

As for death in rpgs, I remember when Lavitz bit-the-big-one in Legend of Dragoon, in order to be replaced by his infinitely inferior superior, that I felt a large sting of disappointment that the rest of the characters didn't immediately join him in the grave. Man that game was lame...

#157: d
#158: c

See ya,
cap


Matt

Oh yeah... good for you! That's one extra guy-that-dies-outside of Final Fantasy; one that I can remember oh-so-vaguely. Legend of Dragoon definitely didn't strike many of my heartstrings; outside a few interesting musical tracks, the game was a mass of blah with the worst experience curve in the history of experience curves, with the possible exception of the horrifying game entitled "Summoner". Ah well.

Thanks again, Cap! Come to think of it, I've put up a whole lot of your letters this week, haven't I? I would hope that you aren't magically compelling me to respond to every last one of your e-mails. Mysterious...!



Just for kids...?


Hey Matt

Two-part letter today.

First of all I wanted to add my two cents regarding FFVII's convoluted plot. The complexity of the plot was one of the things that I most loved about the game and what gave it the most replay value for me so I would hate to see that tampered with were they to go ahead with a remake. I played that game a lot of times and I thought it was great that I didn't have a really firm grasp of everything until the third of fourth playthrough when I'd ferreted out every last little secret. But as for Kanato's questions specifically, Nibelheim did burn. I think it's implied that Shinra rebuilt it as part of Hojo's project. Now, I may be rusty here-- it's been years-- but I don't believe the townspeople you meet when you first visit Nibelheim are the original ones. There's a man in the item shop whom Cloud says he doesn't recognise despite being born and raised in Nibelheim. I thought Shinra rebuilt the town in order to further the "Reunion". But as for Tifa, that's an easy one to answer: she remembers because she was rescued by her martial arts instructor Zangan, as you find out from his note which can be found along with Tifa's "Final Heaven" limit break. It also mentions that everyone who survived the fire was rounded up by Hojo for an experiment. That note makes a lot of pieces fall into place.

Matt

Eww... so does that mean that the hooded numbered figures you can find when you visit Nibelheim could possibly be those very people who used to live there, long ago? That'd be freaky-deaky, though I always thought that the Reunion was something that went well beyond Shinra; that Reunion was a Sephiroth-orchestration only, as far as I can remember. I could, as always, be wrong.

Secondly I'm amused by the idea that according to RPGs by twenty-five you're over the hill. I'm turning twenty-six this year. I guess I should get out my walker and apply for old age pension, huh?

Matt

Yep yep... and don't forget to save me a spot in the senior home down the road, eh? Also, if you're gonna go get a walker, could you stop by the grocery store on the way home and pick me up some Dentucreme, please?? My old bones just ain't what they used to be.

But this does make me wonder about the targeted demographics of a lot of games. Is the average RPG player younger than the average action/FPS/racing/sports gamer? Certainly those genres have no problem having older (and I use the term very loosely) lead characters in many prominent series. Many of the characters from the the Resident Evil series are in their twenties, as are, I believe the leads of the GTA games and various shooters, for example. Granted a lot of these are M-rated games and thus (at least in theory) are designed for older gamers. In fact it's been suggested that one of the reasons Pychonauts didn't sell many copies, despite being a truly innovate and well put together platformer, was because it was a game about a ten year old boy. So if mainstream games don't shy away from having older characters why then do so many RPGs? Have any theories on this? And is it my imagination or do some games seem particularly youthful? Tales of Legendia comes to mind as a recent example. Legendia seemed very young to me. It was extremely easy to the point of being dull and just seemed as if it was made for either a very young player or one inexperience with the RPG genre. The Grandia series, too, has always seems very youthful to me in terms of its story-telling (the protagonist of the first game was fourteen years old if I'm not mistaken).

Erika Wolfraven


Matt

That's a good question: What IS the target demographic for most RPGs? I think that there isn't any one single answer, really. There are certainly many games that do indeed target the new generation, if you will; these are the people who started on Pokémon a few years ago and are now searching for something new. Kids read books that feature teen heroes, and watch TV shows that feature teen heroes. It only makes sense that their RPGs should have teen heroes as well! Games like Mario & Luigi, Tales of Legendia, or even Kingdom Hearts are the next logical steps for younger gamers who have been bitten by the RPG bug, but having younger characters that are more easy to identify with will help them to stay into the genre. On the other hand, there are games like Xenosaga which are far more brainy and "mature", in a sense, than most other games of all genres. Of course, it can manage to become almost "snobbish-feeling" at times for that same reason. Games like that, as well as a select few others (Shadow Hearts comes to mind), are definitely not geared towards younger children, as far as I can see, and in both games, this is reflected at least somewhat in the casts of characters, wouldn't you agree?

Anyway, thanks Erika! Hopefully we'll see you in the co-host seat soon!



ANOVM: Analysis of Villain Musics!


Greetings, Mat^2!

I've been visiting RPGamer for approximately one million years (it was the very first website I visited regularly,) but I have never dared to become an active question-asker. Recently, though, I started reading QnA again, and your math- and music-friendly nature has convinced me to take action!

Matt

Wow, then, you must be REALLY old! If 25 is over-the-hill in RPGs, you must be over-the-hill in terms of geologic age. Fancy that, I didn't realize RPGamer was around in 997,994 BC. The things you never knew you never knew<3...

I'm glad you decided to take the time to write me a letter! Now, what do you have to say?

I was just listening to Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles' somewhat eccentric (but good!) last boss music, and I got to pontificatin': What kind of music do you prefer to slay the ultimate evil? Operatic/apocalyptic (a la FFVI and VII)? Eye-squinting, head-banging, evil-slaying rock (FFVIII, IX, and X)? Or more atmospheric and introspective (Xenogears/Xenosaga: Episode I/anything Yasunori Mitsuda)? I tend to prefer the latter, especially if the story of the game is interesting and thought-provoking (though, I admit, nothing quite gets the world-saving adrenaline flowing like a squealing synthesizer solo. Ohhhh, yeahhhhh... *squints eyes, bangs head, and slays evil to Maybe I'm a Lion*) Ideally, the music for last bosses of an RPG should really encapsulate the essence of the entire quest (in my mind, at least), so I guess my preference depends on the game's scenario. Hearing Those Who Bear Fangs at God's minimalistic ambience while fighting Sephiroth would be quite jarring...

Matt

Oh, I can appreciate all sorts of final boss musics, but generally, the ones that come up on my Playlists most often are the ones that are really, really REALLY *EVIL* sounding. Final Fantasy VI's and VII's, of course, were thus exceptional to me, but my most favourite theme has to go to Indalecio, from Star Ocean: The Second Story, because holy crap; that music, when turned up loudly, is absolutely fear-instilling and jaw-dropping in its perfectly wonderful evilness. Truly, there is little that is as disappointing as getting to a final boss and discovering that the final battle's background music sucks majorly. Oh, that's another one I love, by the way, before I move on: Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Jeesh, that game had a few really neat tracks!

In a related matter, has music ever played a factor in how much you enjoyed a game? Personally, my opinion of a game is vastly improved by a quality soundtrack. For example, I think Xenosaga: Episode I could have been a lot more than it was, but its soundtrack is just so amazing (sparse though it was) that I still think very highly of the game. Also, if I don't like the music in a game but the gameplay and everything else is pretty good, I'll still think the game was "eh." Xenosaga: Episode II was entirely unremarkable to me despite its fun battle system simply because the music was nowhere near the calibur of the first. Well, there also wasn't nearly enough exposition (don't listen to the critics of Episode I, Monolith! I want MORE explanatory cutscenes!). I think music is just so emotionally immediate that it influences the player's impression of the entire game without the player even being conscious of it. For me, too, the music is what stays with me after I'm done with the game. But I'm probably in a crazy minority of one with this mindset where music dominates all.

In conclusion, I am a music nerd and FF:CC is severely underrated. (It's MULTIPLAYER. You have to play with FRIENDS.)

P.S. As you're into math, I highly suggest reading Keith Devlin's The Math Gene. Cool stuff.

-Shawring


Matt

Ahhhhh!! It's another person that has this opinion!! AAAH!!! Okay; breathe deeply, Matt; we'll get there.

First of all, abso-@%!#ing-lutely music has a humongous effect upon my enjoyment of a game. To me, sound is a key part of setting the tone/mood/atmosphere of any RPG, and games with mediocre music disappoint me much more often than not. Any developers who believe that sound is something that can be easily skimped upon half-assedly without fear of sacrificing much in the way of the final package are sorely mistaken.

NOW, beloved friend, let's talk about Xenosaga. I feel more and more like I'm the only person who really, truly loves the soundtrack of Episode II in comparison to that of the first. Am I deaf? I don't know what's wrong with me... but that's the thing I noticed MOST when I turned on the game for the first night. It was so full of music, and not just music, but meaty, full-bodied, satisfying music! After the stark and cold Episode I, where you spend more time listening to computer static and there exist all of two battle themes, I thought that Episode II improved drastically in the sound department, even if the game stepped down in many other ways. A number of background themes in II weren't even melodic, yet retained a really great emotional musical quality of some sort, and some of these were so incredibly airy and ambient; the forest/beach area, for example, in the dive nearly halfway through the game, has the most wonderfully constructed background music, I found. Yeah, boy, wow, just thinking about it now makes me want to go back and play again; it's been a year, after all.

I guess I'm disappointed that so many people feel the way you do about the matter. Sure, Xenosaga I had a few good tracks, but half of the music that played during the entire game was that stupid situational lounge music. The battle theme was fine, and all of the sound was very high quality; I just didn't find a lot of it terribly memorable. I suppose this is one instance where "to each their own" rings true, since your opinion is certainly a valid one! Obviously, I feel passionately, too, or I wouldn't have written three huge paragraphs on the matter. :)

Moving on, though, Final Fantasy: CC is indeed much more fun with friends, but gathering together four people with GBA systems is not a very easy task, so I think that the demands were a little bit high, there. It certainly had its share of great music, though, to come back to what we were talking about before. Heh heh, we're SO going to have to have a music-discussion early next week!!

So, that's about all I have to say on your matters, and I'm certainly glad that you decided to mail me your thoughts! Man, I'm getting sleepy.



Theorizing about Tidus (now with bleach alternative!)


Hi Matt –

Having recently played FFX and not yet played FFX-2, I’ll give you my personal thoughts on the ending. Tidus MAY have been alive in old Zanarkand, but the Tidus in the game is a dream of the fayth. The fayth dream about old Zanarkand because they miss it and the memories make them happy. Because Auron is already dead he uses the power of Sin to enter the dream and extract Tidus. The fact that Sin helps Auron accomplish this is made clear near the beginning when Auron asks Sin “You are sure?”. Yu-Yevon dies, the fayth stop dreaming and therefore Tidus must disappear. There is no time travel; the dream of the fayth is concurrently ongoing with Spira. I guess I view the dream kind of like the Matrix. Sort of. Is there any in game text to contradict this? Will FFX-2 contradict this?

iehley


Matt

Thanks for writing in to explain your vantage point to the crowd! I don't have the answers to this one, I'm afraid, and I'm not about to pump my arms all Cait Sith-style to come up with anything. Obviously, the plot isn't quite as clear to everyone as others might have thought, but I think that especially with Final Fantasy games, there's enough left up in the air to leave the plotline up for interpretation in an open-ended sort of way. I haven't played Final Fantasy X in a loooong time, and I didn't really unlock anything terribly special in FFX-2 or do much in the way of bonus material after I got past the game, so I feel I'm of little authority to contribute on the matter. The debate continues, nonetheless...!



Still MORE theories, but this time, from an Xlash (formerly equipped with a warp stone!)


Begin FFX and FFX-2 spoilers:

I'm not usually one for picking answers apart but I thought everyone that played both games realized that Tidus was not real, he was modeled after Shuyin. There were many signs that make sense after you get a complete history of events.

Matt

Yikes! Now there is a different opinion. I always thought that he WAS real at one point, and the fact that his father is involved in the storyline seems to anchor that, somehow, into place. Are you saying they're both not actual Spirans, and never were?

1000 years in the past Bevelle and Zanarkand were at war. The war was devastating for both sides but Bevelle's machina proved superior to Zanarkand's summoners. Now if Tidus was indeed from 1000 years ago he would at least know what a summoner was right? Also the Zanarkand from the opening sequence does not appear to war torn. There is no sign of military patrolling the streets and everyone is happy. Shuyin, on the other hand, was trying to "save the summoner" by using Bevelle's super machina weapon, Vegnagun, against them.

So where did Tidus come from? Well Yevon, Zanarkand's most powerful summoner, saw a losing battle and took drastic measures. He had most if not all the people of Zanarkand become Fayths for him to summon a perfect Zanarkand that would exist all by itself, securing the knowledge of his people for all time. This dream world was created from real memories and Shuyin was most likely used as a model for Tidus. To protect himself while he maintained this summoning, Yevon developed the 'protective armor' that becomes Sin. Sin in turn destroys Zanarkand, where is was most likely created, and continues to destroy populated areas on Spira. The part I'm rusty on is exactly how Sin was able to bring Jecht and Tidus from the dream world into the real world but it was either Auron or Bahamut Fayth that explained it in the game.

Matt

Man... that is far out. I'm glad you're going to be co-hosting tomorrow, so that you get the chance to respond to some of the replies that will inevitably turn up in my mailbox over the next 24 hours on this matter, because I sure as hell don't want to deal with 'em!! Perhaps I need to go back and finish off X-2 a little bit "more".

When Yuna and company defeat Sin/Yu Yevon once and for all, the Fayth can finally stop dreaming and that is when Tidus starts to fade away. A couple of years later, Shuyin's unsent spirit tries to activate Vegnagun. Yuna and company save the day and helps put to rest the possessed Fayth that she used to summon. The Fayth offer to bring Tidus back for Yuna as a sign of appreciation and she is reunited with him once again.

End FFX and FFX-2 spoilers:

I still think it was clearer than figuring out Cloud's past.

Xlash the dwarf berserker


Matt

Well, Xlash, I guess this just demonstrates how "up in the air" the whole storyline really is! Some could criticize Square for being unclear, but at the same time, it's kind of neat that everyone has their own very passionate ideas about what actually happened during this game in particular. It makes me smile, anyway, though I'm a bit of a geek and get amused quite easily.

Growr, you dwarf berserker! Come back tomorrow, and we'll answer some questions together, okiedoke?



Beauty... it's in the eye (and sometimes the right nostril) of the beholder.


157) Full-on guess, but since it seems like a nice, safe, not overly-complicated answer...B.
158) A.

I don't know if graphics-enthusiasts (read: graphics-whores) are "shallow," per se. Obviously, graphics can add an awful lot to an RPG experience. On the other hand, RPGs are arguably the genre in which graphics should matter the least. Xenogears would be worth playing many times over even if it were presented with 8-bit, NES-style graphics.

Matt

Mwahahaha... some people would argue bitterly that your last sentence is a rather debatable one, while others would flock to your defense. I'm so lucky! I get to stay neutral, like I usually do.

Let's see; I guess I find that graphics-whores (<3 graphics enthusiasts; nice euphemism, good for a tilde~) are only shallow in the following sort of manner: I know a lot of people who really wouldn't care about a game at ALL without the eye candy of sheer 923872395723 polygons/second bliss, and I think that such people are missing the point of the genre. To me, and to most everyone reading this, RPGs go so much deeper. Whether a mysterious, involving plot and incredible character development is central to your RPG desires, or you're more of a gameplay nut like me who plays for the strategy and challenge, all of these things are the foundations of the entire genre. Breezing past all of these things nonchalantly without a care just because you want to see the next FMV destroys a little bit of that, I think. It is somewhat, but not exactly, akin to judging a book by its cover, or judging a person based on their appearance, and I find that to be a little bothersome. Sure, looks can cause some initial attraction, but you can't grow to truly LOVE a person/book/game unless you really love their charm/writing style/the way it's put together.

But on the other, other hand...I was just about to say that most of my favorite RPGs are old titles on the SNES and the NES (Dragon Warrior IV), and they had lousy graphics. But I'm reasonably convinced that they're my favorites because they were there first. In a lot of ways many of them have been trumped one way or another in terms of gameplay or even story, let alone graphics; they just become your favorite because you discovered what makes RPGs worth playing, by playing those games.

Matt

Bah, I'd argue that Dragon Warrior IV had some of the best graphics of its time. Of course they're crappy compared to now, but yeah, I just had to interrupt with that. I guess the situation you describe, though, is what some newer gamers call "nostalgia-itis", the tendency to judge old game subjectively due to some sort of personal emotional bias. That sounds so hokey, but I can see why they might feel that way at first. Once you get to know old games, it's like getting to know an old friend. Sure, there are young'uns that are more popular, better-looking, smarter, or whatever... but it doesn't take away from the fact that spending time with the old friend is just more comfortable.

I like good graphics as much as the next gamer. When I saw the opening movie to FF8, its initial awesomeness may have made me travel, however briefly, through time. And I care about graphics on occasion, like the Xenosaga switch from deformed and cartoony to slightly more realistic.

Matt

Boy oh boy, do I ever remember the first time I played Final Fantasy VIII. I don't know if I've ever been so enamoured by a game in my life; that first impression I got was absolutely incredible. It was another two months before I actually borrowed a friend's (faulty) Playstation to play through the whole thing, though because of the screwy-uppy-ness, I didn't actually get through it, due to game-freezes, which was most distressing at the time.

The Xenosaga example you bring up is a special one, I think; you're not talking about "graphics" as much as you are "graphical style", and I'd say that the two subjects are only very loosely related. I actually really preferred the graphical style of the first; "kewl Shion" was nowhere near as fun, for some reason, as the nerdier version from Episode I.

Shallowness is only prevalent if people refuse to play games because of bad graphics. If someone came up to an RPG fan who got into them during the PS1 years, and said "Hey, you should try out FF4." And they look at it and go, "Hell no. Look at those tiny little sprites! They have giant heads and tiny, tiny little feet! This is stupid."

Matt

Heh heh, yeah, I know those people too, I'm afraid. They're generally very disheartening to talk to on those subjects, since I myself possess so much passion for those oldies.

That's when you tackle them, tie them to a chair and force them to play through 7th Saga as the white-haired healer guy. I can't even imagine how much that would suck. And then they'd get to the ending, see how short and lame it was for all that trouble, and their brains would just shut down from the experience.

Matt

Alas; I somehow doubt that such a strategy would be very effective in opening their eyes to the benefits of old-school games. 7th Saga... now THAT was a brutal game.

What was I saying?

Oh, yeah. Spoilers. I think I'll stay away from the issue altogether, since it's such a gray area. You never know who hasn't played what game, from how long ago; but at the same time, if everything from "Aerith dies" to "Golbez and Cecil are brothers" to "(whatever lame plot twist Legend of Dragoon might've spat up)" are forbidden, then what would any of us ever talk about? Communism? There's no TIME for that!

-TV's Adam


Matt

Is that a second time that Legend of Dragoon has come up in today's discussion?? Now THAT is bizarre, since typically, I get almost no letters about it at all.

*insert Twilight Zone theme*

Anyway, yeah, I want to keep spoilers of all sorts from newish games to a minimum, so I'll be sure to not talk about anything 2002-or-so-onward in great detail. If anyone catches me, PLEASE slap me metaphorically in an e-mail to keep me in shape!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Yes, sleepy. Very, very sleepy. I guess this is to be expected; while I'm certainly elated that most of my academic responsibilities are finally out of my hair, obtaining 5 hours of sleep on three consecutive nights cannot possibly be good for one's energy levels. That pillow looks soooo soft from over here at my desk!!

Flashay!


#157, for those of you who are wondering, comes from one of my very favourite NES games, entitled Solar Jetman. It had infuriatingly "accurate" physics, but that made the play control absolutely perfect once you got the hang of it. The game's learning curve was incredibly steep, but it's a game that I have memorized photographically in my mind. Shammy Gen is the TENTH planet, and its pretty pink image in your approaching-planet screen is complimented by a background theme that starts off with a e) Minor 7th between notes one and two. 265 points to the lot of you who actually managed to get that right!

#158 was submitted by our old pal, Bainick. Mewt, from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, had the last name of a) Randell, for 155 points (310 for Bainick). Thanks, as always, for the submission!

Question #159:
Wakka's hairstyle most resembles a feature on which of the following creatures? (190 points)

a) Zuu
b) Gargant
c) Mesmerize
d) Biblos
e) Adamantoise

Question #160:
Ask Cap!-->Which of theses characters ruthlessly murdered a defenseless baby? (180 points)

a) Kratos
b) Magus
c) Eve
d) Rose
e) Galeon


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*********************************************************


Well, you'll have to greet Xlash with a few questions tomorrow, now won't you? I've heard dwarf berserkers go a little crazy without adequate letters to respond to! Of course, we have a lot of contentious stuff to talk about: What do YOU think happened in Final Fantasy X? Are all of today's writers completely nuts, or are any of them right? Also, what are your thoughts on the perhaps lower-than-expected scores that Kingdom Hearts 2 has received from certain websites? Are they well-deserved? Or, do those scores really matter in the end?

One more day to wrap up the week! May you all have a very great Friday in the meantime.


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is severely deficient in sleep, currently.


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