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New Horizon
January 9, 2007

Matt Demers - 14:29 EST

IT FEELS LIKE it's been forever, doesn't it?

To everybody, I hope that your holidays were restful and relaxing! I wish I had had the chance to say goodbye before my little Christmas break, but an unexpected family tragedy brought me home a little sooner than I thought. In any case, I'm back now, and I'm ready to start 2007 off on the right foot.

Christmas was good to me, I must confess. I got my brand new Wii, primarily, which was accompanied by about three thousand stories from my mom about how much trouble she went to in order to obtain one. Apparently, the Walmart in the little city of Chatham, Ontario (population: 43,500) got their hands on thirty-six consoles on release day, and mine was number thirty-six. Anyway, I got a pretty complete package, including an extra controller and nunchuk, 4000 VC points, a classic controller, and Zelda. I didn't get much chance to play Zelda, though, while I was at home, because every time I'd try to sit down to do so, some family member would walk in whining to play Wii Sports. Sigh. The console was a ridiculous hit at Christmas - so much so that my Aunt Peg (late 60s, doesn't own a computer) was blabbing over Christmas dinner about "Jeez, Mike! I need a golf rematch with you after dinner, for heaven's sakes!" and "Hey Judy [my mother], we need to get one of these so that we can have 'bowling Saturdays' don't you think?" Ironically, I was the one standing on the side, asking family members if they wanted to play euchre; it was almost a little bit sad to see the Wii take the place of more traditional family activities!

In addition to the Wii, I received Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for Christmas. After playing both Fire Emblem games for the GBA, playing one on a console just doesn't feel quite right. It's a fine enough game... it just feels weird. I also got Yoshi's Island DS and Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (which I haven't opened yet). Finally, my copy of Valkyrie Profile 2 came in at long last. The conclusion? I have no hope in hell of getting through all of these games.

I'll dig into the mailbag today to see what's there; it's been a month, and there isn't much there that's recent. But, now that I've returned, you'll be able to write me some more, right? RIGHT!?




LETTERS
Multiple Flavours


Dear Matt and/or Ouro (because I value both opinions!)

Final Fantasy III's job system has reminded me of my love for characters with individual skill sets, yet customizability. My favorite part of the game is definitely everytime you get a new job, I just love trying it out and seeing what kinds of skills work well with which jobs and what kinds of skills completely ruin another job's usefulness. For a character who's been using primarily physical jobs, but you want to make them more magic-based, a Geomancer's MP-free skills are fun. And for a mage in need of some STR growth, a switch to Thief or Ninja (speedy physical jobs) makes a good transition, when you look at their stats. Of course, that's just my strategy, I'm not sure it's the preferred method for RPGamers out there.

Matt

The neat thing about Final Fantasy III is that you influence a character's basic growth by the jobs they choose. In Final Fantasy V, a character can change from being an axe-wielding Berserker for the whole game to a Time Mage in a second and be just as powerful as another character who has been a Time Mage forever. In FFIII, however, a character's base stats seem to change gradually, the longer that they stick with a certain job, so that monks will eventually have more HP and strength and less magical ability than a mage. It's better, in a sense, but less forgiving.

I like making four very distinct characters; on my quest, I've confined Luneth to ONLY physical-powerhouse jobs, and Arc has been a White Mage since the very beginning, only so that I can see what happens when you "master" something. Ingus has been an Onion Knight since early on, so he's fallen behind in power, while Refia has been a halfway-mage, changing between jobs like Bard, Geomancer, Red Mage, and others. I'm really enjoying it so far, and there are an infinite number of strategies anyone could take.

Anyway, so the job system reminds me of why I loved RPGs - team building. When there's 13 or so unique characters and only 4 party slots - how do you choose which character/class will work best? Do you go for a balance of magic and physical? Or is far-ranged and close-ranged the best way to look at it? Do all skills use MP or just magic-based ones? Should you really equip your cleric with a boomerang? What always ends up bugging me about most RPGs is that the best party always ends up being something like 3 sword-users and a healer - the least amount of diversity possible.

So there's my question: "What RPG or series do you think has done the best in keeping characters/classes diverse and balanced?" Or... for a more creative question along the same lines "If you could make a diverse cast of RPG characters, where each character has something to bring to the table, from all the RPGs you've played... what would this roster look like?"

For me, I'd probably have to go through a lot of the Tales, BoF, and Suikoden games for their diverse characters, and then filter through all the FF classes to fill in some holes. I mean, if I've only got so many slots to make 'the perfect party', my Ninja better be able to cast healing spells and summon big monsters as well as throw stuff. (Yay for Sheena from Tales of Symphonia!)

Matt

Hmmm. Final Fantasy has done a fairly good job in some of its past games, but not all. In FFXII, for instance, I'm finding that the closer I get to the end of the game, the more similar my characters are becoming. Because of how confining the license board is, everyone is "growing together" in a sense.

I'd have to say that I disagree with you on Breath of Fire. In just about every BoF game, I find that while the characters are unique, the team can be quite unbalanced, with the hero usually being about 102 times more powerful/useful than the other characters.

If I had to take a team that covers all bases, I'd have to choose Edge from Final Fantasy IV, due to his powerful attacks coupled with his ability to steal and use elemental magic. I'd combine him with the dashing Angelo from Dragon Quest VIII. Not only can he be a powerful swordsman; he's an incredible healer too! Some other doubly useful characters would be Maria from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, chaos from Xenosaga, and Ness from Earthbound.

Thanks for all the great columns,
DebiruFlonne

Matt

No problem! It's my job. Thank you for the letter!



TV shows, and new-gen stuff.


Hey, Slimey,

I hope that all is going well with the exams. I'm in the middle of writing a entrance essay for grad school myself, so my pain is just beginning. Since I already work full time, that Master's Degree is a long, long way away. Sigh.

I don't know if anyone ever answered your questions about the series Heroes; it's a new show about superheroes on NBC. Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) is the best reason to watch this show, because anyone who has ever been an uber-geek or a techie cubicle slave can identify with him. It's so much fun watching the guy geek out about his superpowers, and he has a lot of great throwaway lines that reference comic books, fantasy or sci fi. My wife gained interest in the show because she thinks he's "adorable." I noticed one of "Hiro's Blog" entries held a had a Chrono Trigger reference...he claimed that he had found his "Marle". :) It makes sense if you know that his power is bending time and space...which isn't really a spoiler since it's revealed in the first or second episode.

Anyway, at first, I was put out by the show's dark overtones, and I'm not normally into comics, but now I'm hooked on the show! NBC currently has every broadcast episode available for streaming @ http://www.nbc.com/Video/rewind/full_episodes/heroes.shtml. After you're done slaving over exams, I recommend that you check them out. After the first couple of episodes, you'll know what this means... {{{(>.<)}}} (o.o) \(^o^)/

"Yatta!"

Matt

Oh, you're not the only one who has urged me to give the show a chance. I've heard good things from a couple of other people, and both of those people I know through RPGamer, so perhaps it does offer a lot to our kind. To be honest with you, I haven't had much time to watch TV lately, and I've spent most of my free time trying to plug through the three billion games that are just waiting for me to get through. I'll definitely keep my eyes open, though, and I'll even add the link to my favourites so that I can go and download some day when I'm feeling bored. Thanks for the recommendation!

Now that my commercial for heroes is over, I have to celebrate a little. After a few weeks of research and disappointment, I finally managed to score a Wii after a four hour wait in front of Circuit City! If anyone is still trying to find a console, I found the http://www.ps3seeker/wii/ site to be a great help. I also had the opportunity to buy a Playstation 3; I just lucked out by walking into my local Gamestop at the right time on the right day. I was actually still looking for the Wii and wasn't prepared for that kind of expense for my personal library; however, I did pick it up, though, because I knew that my brother in law had saved up for one.

Matt

Ooh, congratulations! You're really lucky, because I know that a lot of people had to go without over the holidays. It's funny, though. Now, I'm hearing more and more stories about how the PlayStation 3 is readily available on many store shelves while the Wii remains difficult to find. Incidentally, I've become a little bit obsessed with checking the nextgenwars website quite often. Sure, it might not be completely valid, but it feeds my interest.

I hope you're enjoying the new console! I hope that Nintendo realizes that Zelda will only carry the system so far, though. If they were smart, they'd release another droolworthy game, and soon at that, if they want to keep their "must-have" status from fading away.

I may have missed your impressions, but how are you enjoying Final Fantasy DS? I'm hoping to finally get my hands on Final Fantasy III DS or Final Fantasy V sometime early next year after my gaming funds are replenished.

Matt

I love them both!

It's just so spectacular to see Final Fantasy III produced with such care. The remake is really great, even if somehow, it isn't quite as much "fun" to play as FFV. The GBA version of FFV is, frankly, the version to have. I'm completely convinced that if we had seen a game of that quality instead of what we got on the PS1, a lot more people would rank the game higher up on their list of favourite FF games. To me, with the great new translation and a quick, snappy battle system, FFV is just awesome. It lends itself well to portable play, too. For some reason, it's just easier to pick up FFV and play for a few minutes than it is for FFIII, mostly because there is a scary lack of save points in III, and the battles feel like they drag on a bit. I think that the pacing of III's battles could have been made a lot better if they simply hadn't chosen to fade out and in again between the final blow and the victory theme... it makes it feel like there's a weird loading time built into the game.

In any case, I'm rambling on randomly at this point, but don't get me wrong: Both games are great in their own right. If you love old-school FF, you'll love both of them without question. If you're not so big on the ancient FF games, then you might have a bit more difficulty appreciating III.

Most of my gaming time is still split between Final Fantasy XII and Wii Zelda, and will probably remain so for the next month. I hate doing it, but I've put down Final Fantasy XII for Zelda, since Zelda is my first video game love. My first two hours of Twilight Princess have been an absurdly blissful experience, though I can't say that I have enjoyed the fishing thus far. I was probably handling the Wii remote incorrectly, but it took a long time for me to ever get a bite, and I had no bait. :o( At any rate, I want the gaming experience to last for a long time. Final Fantasy XII may very well be the last console mainstream Final Fantasy game I play for a long time, and Heaven only knows what Nintendo will do with the Zelda franchise after this game.

Good luck with the test!

Jeremy aka (Sundoulos)

Matt

Hey, I'm looking forward to what the Wii will do with Zelda! If anything, Twilight Princess has totally renewed my interest in the series; I haven't actually finished off a Zelda game since Ocarina of Time. Final Fantasy XII is good too, but I find that it's a less interesting game as time goes on. I've pumped 92 hours into FFXII now, and while it's still good, it's taking more and more effort to bring myself to play more at this point.

Anyway, thanks for the wishes. The test went fine; I got an 86% in the course. Not bad!



PSP Lite? Would they?


Matt,

So, I just picked up a DS as a present for my wife (and me) for christmas. I got her FFIII, magical starsign, and Phoenix wright (because who doesn't wanna be a lawyer?). Are there any other big RPG's I should know about that have already been released for the DS (other than FFIV and FFV advance) that I should think about picking up. Also speaking of FFIII (granted I haven't touched it yet) how do I send mognet mail? Since there was some PSP talk recently... what ever happened to talk of the PSP "lite" that sony showed and talked about a while back?

Matt

I think you picked some good games! Those are the most major ones, I think, though there have been a few other fun games released. I've heard that Contact is good but really strange and pretty funny; Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is creative, fun, but kind of short. There are a few others in there, but not really any "big" names that come to mind.

As for a PSP Lite? I'm really not sure I've heard anything on that, so perhaps it's just a rumour at this point... or maybe I just haven't been paying attention. It wouldn't really surprise me, though. The handheld needs a little boost (and more than a little price drop) to stay competitive with Nintendo.

I am almost finished playing .hack//G.U. and I've noticed that no one has mentioned it at all here in QnA and that the majority of the reviews I have read have been on the negative side. I am on the exact opposite side of those opinions. While I don't think the game is perfect, I am Having more fun with GU than I have had all year with any game. This is the first game I picked up to play all year that I'm not catching myself being disappointed with. My expectations were so high with KH2 and FFXII that in the end they both let me down for different reasons. But GU was such a huge surprise I am loving it. I couldn't play past the first game in the original series and now I can't wait for Volume 2 to come out. If I had to give it an RPGamer score it would be a 4 out of 5. Since giving it a 4.5 would be injecting too much personal opinion and gratitude into the score. Maybe I should write a reader review... where would I email one of those too?

-TheBluick

Matt

I'm glad you've enjoyed the game! Yeah, no one's really talked much about the game, but G.U. was one of the many titles that was heavily overshadowed by games like FFXII this fall. I haven't dabbled in .hack myself, but if you're interested in writing a review for RPGamer, simply follow the Submission Guide in the Points of View Update or e-mail Roku for help at roku@rpgamer.com. We'll be glad to hear from you, or anyone, for that matter!



QUICKIES

Where do you find the aurara ticket on pokemon emerald

Matt
Aurara ticket? Nowhere. Aurora ticket? Now you're talking. Unfortunately, I think you have to go to a Pokémon event, held in different cities which you apparently must travel to, in order to get one. Of course, you can always trade with a friend who went to one, too. But yeah, it won't be easy.


MOGNET MAIL

If you'd like to send me some Mogmail, and you have Final Fantasy III DS, my code is 515 480 192 117. Send me your number, and I'll add you to my list! Then you can send all the mail you like!

Have you noticed how final area musics in RPGs tend to be much better than other area musics? FF1,FF3,FF5 and Secret of Mana are great examples.

Tomi

Matt
Yes, of course! Final areas have to be dramatic and breathtaking. It'd be a bit anticlimactic to have a final area with crappy music. I think that just about every Final Fantasy excels in that respect; not just the three you listed. Many other games outside the FF world have fantastic background music for final areas too, though, of course!



IN CLOSING

So, 2007 is upon us, and the last few weeks have been ripe with news. Of course, you can imagine my extreme and mixed reaction when I heard that Dragon Quest IX would be a DS title... and action RPG. What are your feelings on the subject? Does anyone have any predictions for the next year in video games? And hey, did anybody get any nice gifts over the holidays? I'm back, so share with me, and it'll be like- like old times. *sniffle*

Bye, everybody, and Happy New Year to all!



Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: OK people... time to get back into sending-mode!



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is ready to rumble, kinda!


Is "ready to rumble" from wrestling or monster truck-stuff? I'm drawing a bit of a blank right now, but I think it's the former.

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What I Want to Play:

1. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

2. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

3. Final Fantasy VI Advance

4. Metroid Prime 3

5. Super Paper Mario



What I'm Playing:

1. Final Fantasy XII

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess



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