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ASK MATT
Abuse of Power
February 2, 2007

Matt Demers - 17:39 EST

I AM NOW just steps away from a weekend filled with RPGS! Well, a weekend including a trickle of them, at least. The fact is that I need to be finished with a couple of games, especially if I want to pick up a copy of Final Fantasy VI Advance when it hits stores next week. And I do want, very much so. Thus, there are no two ways about it: SOMETHING will be completely completed to completion this weekend.

Not too much new mail in the inbox today, but that's okay, because you've been so great with letters lately, and I have a long queue awaiting a response anyway. With that, it's time to begin!




LETTERS
Pokémon, Phantasy Star, and way more.


Hi Matt!

It feels like I'm writing in every few days now, but there's just so much going on in my little RPG world, and I also want to make sure you don't run out of letters. That would be such a crime.

Matt

Well, I appreciate your charity. I've actually never run out of letters completely, but that's a record I'd like to keep up. Q&A has a few "regulars" and you're a more-than-welcome addition, unless you're just doing it to overthrow me somehow, in which case you would not be quite so welcome. <3

I bought a 360 last year to play The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. At the time, some of my friends thought I was crazy to buy a system for one game, especially since the original Xbox was sadly lacking in RPGs (none of my friends play RPGs, unfortunately, but they all know about my, ahem, habit). Now I can be smug and point out the RPG goodness coming to the 360 this year. Admittedly, there aren't a huge number of games coming out, but those that are look fantastic. Blue Dragon, anyone? I read the full article in the most recent issue of Game Informer. The game is going to be on three discs. Three discs! Considering the fact that they fit the huge world of Oblivion onto one disc, I can't wait to see what Blue Dragon is going to be like. What say you? Is the three disc thing a good sign? Even the upcoming 360 game Eternal Sonata looks great. I mean, who doesn't want an RPG starring Chopin?

Matt

Wellll, it's definitely unique. I can see it now:

Chopin casts "Scan"! Semiconductor-C is weak against E-flat!

No, really, the 360 does have a few RPGs on the way that look to be of very high quality. Blue Dragon looks so sexy, I'm almost depressed I don't have the damn console, and there are a couple of other Mistwalker games that are supposedly in development that we haven't heard much about either. You're a lucky bastard, to be honest, but who knows? If the games do turn out to be that good, and I happen to come into some cash, I might just have to be Microsoft's next supporter. Now that's something I never expected to say...

And the DS just continues to rock my world. I can see how I'll like FFXII much more in a portable sequel. If any RPGamer does not own a DS yet, two words should convince them to invest: Revenant Wings. I mean, it's not like the system's that expensive. I would love to see Nintendo port some FFs with upgraded graphics like they did with FFIII. And new Final Fantasy Tactics for both DS and PSP? I'm so there. And it may be juvenile of me, but I'm looking forward to Pokemon, too. The PSP's got Valhalla Knights, plus I've been meaning to get around to buying Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. Call me lame, but I also want the guide, so I can get the "good" ending.

Matt

WANTING POKEMON IS NOT JUVENILE!! Screaming in caps is, though, so I'd better watch it. Are you kidding me? Pokémon Diamond/Pearl is (are?) one (two?) of my most-wanted games, and I just turned four-and-twenty last week. I really wish that the Pokémon name wasn't tarnished with a kiddish connotation, because I played the crap out of Ruby/Sapphire and expect to do the same with its sequel. When you add that single title to FFXII, Dragon Quest IX, Final Fantasy Tactics, Heroes of Mana, and so many others (just take a look at the massive list on our upcoming games page) and how could you not be convinced? The DS is already a good portable for RPGamers, and it will become a killer portable within a few months' time.

That said, I am impressed with how the PSP has "revived" in a way over the past few months. It might just prove itself to be a viable RPGaming machine in the end, though I'm still unconvinced that it's worth the $250 or whatever it costs over here.

I had one of those life-defining moments yesterday. I was in EB Games browsing the DS / GBA shelves, when I saw Final Fantasy VI Advance sitting there. In the space of about half a second I had all these crazy thoughts: "OMG, this game isn't supposed to be released until February! Maybe the store made a mistake and released it early. Maybe God is smiling on me and placed this early copy here just for me. Or maybe I have multiple personalities and I'm just now coming back to myself after a two week absence and it really is February..." Then I saw that the shelf the game was sitting upon had the following label: "Coming Soon." Gah. And then (because I am simple), I had nearly the same heart-stopping moment when I looked at the PSP shelves and saw Gurumin. I finally had to stop shopping because the stress was killing me. I mean, come on, do you think that's fair of them? Don't put the fracking cases out there until the games are released. It's cruel.

Matt

Ugh, I remember doing the exact same thing as you a few years ago, about a month before Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was released. They had several boxes on the shelf, too, which made my heart skip a beat, but they all contained that irritating "Coming Soon!" message. I don't get it either.

When I need a break from RPG goodness, I turn to two games. Lumines II hasn't left my PSP for months. Who knew that the PSP would have a game better than Tetris? And Guitar Hero II has replaced FFXII in my PS2. There's something unbelievably satisfying (which you have to experience to understand) about nailing sweet riffs or pulling off complex chord progressions. I couldn't even wait for the 360 port. If that version has a sweet axe included, I may buy the game again.

Matt

My friend Steve has told me about Guitar Hero II and its amazingness several times now, but I really have no intention to pick it up, partly on account of having finite money, and partly on account of having finite time. Sure, it sounds fun, but I'm just going to have to play it at somebody else's house, I'm afraid. (I wonder if/when they're going to come out with a sequel with a different feel. I can see it now: "Flutist Ace". Any takers?)

I see I've written a lot of things without really asking a question, so I'll leave you with this question that's been perplexing me for a few weeks now. I tried Phantasy Star II, III, and IV in the Sega Genesis Collection. I spent over an hour with PSIV, and to be honest, I don't see what the big deal is. Control was confusing, I had no idea what the items did (sometimes even after I'd used them), and it just didn't have anything at all that I found redeeming. So what's the big deal? I've heard people call this the greatest RPG of all time. Is it one of those things where "you had to be there?" Because I just don't get it. Thoughts?

-Jeffrey

Matt

Hey, I wasn't there either, so I can't really say. In fact, I've never seen a single game from the series in action firsthand before my eyes. Phantasy Star, along with Suikoden, is one of my greatest RPG holes.

If you're not into older-styled RPGs, though, that might be why. I use this example all the time, but I love old Dragon Warrior games, while all sorts of people hate, hate, hate them. I don't think they should, because I think that a lot of the time, one just needs to be more "patient" with the oldies before their goodness becomes apparent, but that's the way it is. If you tend to prefer more modern-era games, then that's that. And there's nothing wrong with it, either.



2007: A breather year for RPGamers?


Hiya Matt,

Sorry, it's been awhile since I've written a letter of notable length. School takes up too much time. Only one more semester to go though, Yah!

Matt

You and me both. So, double-Yah! Or Yahyah! *sings* Double-Yah, Ex, Why, and ZED.

First off, I need help deciding on which game I should finish first. For Christmas I got many RPG's, whether through my loving parents or through the leftover money. Okay, here's the list: Valkyrie Profile 2:Silmeria, Final Fantasy III DS, Magical Starsign, Grandia, Vandal Hearts, Vagrant Story, Vanguard Bandits, Shadow Hearts, and La Pucelle Tactics. I started FF3, so I'll finish that off first, but I'm lost to which I should play next. With so many "new" games I have the habit of starting one for about ten hours then get too excited and play the next one. Does this ever happen to you?

Matt

That is a huge number of games. I personally like to alternate between handheld and console games if possible, so my vote is for you to give Shadow Hearts or VP2 a whirl next. La Pucelle Tactics, though? Ack, I wish I had played that game while I had the chance. It looked so funny! *grumble*

Okay, what is up with Ar Tonelico? How come I haven't heard of this before? It comes out in a month, doesn't it? And it's a NIS game! I don't know too much about it so far, but from the videos it looks nice.

Matt

What is up with it? I know, it's kind of simmered on the backburner all this time, though it was first announced for a North American release in the first half of 2006, so it's not like it's late-breaking news. Yeah, there are so many games to keep track of, these little surprises just pop up every now and then. It looks like a neat game, too.

Are there any RPG's coming out in the near future worth credit other than Rogue Galaxy and Ar Tonelico? All the coverage seems to be on games like FFXIII or DQIX. Of course I could be completely wrong and just be looking in the wrong direction.

Matt

And those aren't really near-future games. While Square Enix has announced "2007" for each one, I somehow doubt we'll see either until well into 2008 at least, here in the western lands. You never know, though.

Anyway, there are a great number of good-looking games on the way. Final Fantasy VI, for one, comes out next week. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl and Super Paper Mario are on their way for March or April sometime, followed by games like Persona 3 and Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix. There are so many games in development right now that don't have well-hammered-out release timeframes yet, but expect that to change within the next couple of months. 2007 is setting up to be yet another great year for RPGamers. Maybe not quite as huge as 2006, but that's okay- we need a bit of a breather and some time to catch up, wouldn't you agree?

And why are there only 5/6 (depending on how you count FFXIII) games in the upcoming section for the PS3!? The Xbox 360 has 10! If Sony wants me to choose them for my next gen system they're gonna need a line up of 20 or so, though I'll never have time to play them. I refuse to buy an Xbox, and the Wii just looks sooooo damn nice, so the odds of me picking up a PS3 are looking slimmer and slimmer.

The Dark Chevalier
*Dammit, every time I think about the Wii, I want one more and more!*

Matt

There is little RPG support for the PS3 right now because, I suspect, many developers are very hesitant to take the plunge! It's no secret that the console is massively expensive to develop games for. Whether you want to believe it or not, the RPG genre is not quite a mainstream one yet, and when only just over a million-or-so-systems exist in the homes of gamers worldwide, a company might not feel comfortable producing an RPG when they know it might only sell 100,000 copies (and barely - or not - break even, if they do).

I feel like I'm not articulating this very well, so I'll just say this: The PS3 is going to have to shake its tarnished image and make its way into people's shopping carts if we ever hope to see a long roster of RPG titles on the release list. It's a catch-22, in a way, because part of the reason that many of us aren't buying the system is because there aren't many enticing releases on the way. Only time will tell if that will change.



TPing that does NOT involve invading people's lawns.


Hi Matt

I usually read your colum when I get a chance too. I find it very interesting and amusing. My question to you is How are you likeing the new Zelda game? I put over 50hrs into it and loved every minute of it. I got it on release day when I got my Wii. I just beat it this month. I took my time and enjoyed every minute of the game. All my friends had gone through it before Christmas. I just wanted to take my time and enjoy a beautiful game. Also what do you think of Rouge Galaxy? Just wanted to know and say Hi and contribute in one way or another.

Thanks
Jeremy

Matt

I'm absolutely loving Twilight Princess so far. The world is so vast, and the dungeons are fantastic. The bit of story that is present is interesting to see, but what wins me over is the artistic style. The graphics convey so much in the game, and the world is absolutely gorgeous; it's obvious that a lot of work went into creating some really neat lighting effects, and I personally can't believe that many websites are criticizing TP for having "Gamecube-quality graphics". Good... good frick. Who cares!? That's not the point, as far as I'm concerned.

The game feels like it follows in Ocarina of Time's footsteps perhaps a little too closely at times. While the game doesn't really feel at all the same, couldn't they at least have shaken up the order of dungeons a little? Forest->Goron->Zora has been done before, and recently. In the end, though, it's hard to find much "real" fault with the game at all.

And Rogue Galaxy looks like a fun and fresh game to a genre that is saturated with sequels and long-running series. Based on positive reviews, and good feedback from many people, I think that the game looks really promising indeed!



Travesty!


Hey Matt,

I have a question (go figure). I preordered Rogue Galaxy at EB Games' website, and even paid for overnight shipping, and yet the shipping status is listed as "backordered." Isn't the whole freakin' purpose of preordering to avoid this nonsense? I want it! WANT WANT WANT!

-ATG

Matt

That sounds slightly scammish, if you ask me, though that wouldn't really be anything new for them. I tried to order a game from them last year, but cancelled it when I discovered that the shipping charge would have been something like $17.00. That's absolutely ridiculous! I shipped several games to people all over the world for the big SOCK contest last year, and never paid more than $10 for any single one of them. Asshats. I hope you get your money back.



Next-gen media sucks.


I tend to lose all logical reasoning when it comes to certain games. For SRPGs it's Front Mission. I'm not even a fan of mecha, but for some reason, everything else is a load of bull when it comes to Front Mission for me, FFT included. (moment of silence for the never to be locally released FM5). I don't know why. As for fighting games, it's Virtua Fighter.

Matt

I'm about to go all crazy on you for talking about a fighting game on an RPG site!

Before you go all crazy on me for talking about a fighting game on an RPG site, I must say there are some RPG elements to be found in the greatest fighter of all time. There is a "Quest" option that allows you to traverse from arcade to arcade vying to become the champion. Although you can't customize the performance of your pugilists, you can alter their attire, as well as, gain ranks that show your status in the Virtua World, kinda like leveling up. You get better, you fight better opponents.

Why am I bringing this up? It's the only game I don't see mentioned on people's lists of "why I would blow $600 on a PS3!" I truly believe this game is worth the dough, especially considering the arcade boards in Japan run upwards of $20,000. I am truly blessed, however. I got my Wii on day one. And my sister loves me so much, she blew part of her bonus on a PS3 for me on New Years. Wallow in your jealousy!

Matt

In all seriousness, now, there are really a lot of games from different genres that have evolved to include RPG elements in them. Has anyone here ever played Mario Tennis for the GBC? You gained Experience and Levels in that game, for heavens sakes!

Also, congratulations on your ridiculous acquisitions. I guess it doesn't really matter which way the new-generation race tilts, because you'll have what you need to make the most of it, won't you? Grr.

Which brings me back to my original point. I lose all logical reasoning when it comes to certain games. VF5 is the only reason I switched gears and willed myself (and my sister's wallet) to get a PS3. It's coming to the 360, which I'll get eventually, but I need VF5 now.

Matt

Oh, come on: We all have our favourite series, though they differ somewhat from person to person. I've said many times before that I go where Dragon Quest goes; I don't really care where. Luckily enough, I have the right system already for the next one, but if it had been announced for the PS3, I would have licked up a system like that. I don't blame you a'tall (or a'short, for that matter).

Chew on this for a moment. 360+HD-DVD add on=$600. Now who says the PS3 (with full Blu-ray functionality out of the box) costs too much? I'm not a fanboy. Just wanted to throw that out there.

Jonezy

Matt

Xbox 360 without add-on = $399. The new media formats are valuable if you really care about them, and yeah, it might mean that the PS3 is a good deal if you do. The problem is, though, that NOBODY CARES. Is there anyone that can really say that we are in desperate need of a new format? Didn't we just go "all-DVD" a few years ago? Introduce the new technologies when you like, O companies, but don't force me to invest extra money in super-new technology just because I want the next PlayStation. I like the fact that the HD-DVD drive is an optional thing for the 360 for exactly that reason: I don't give a sh** about new media; I want to play GAMES.

This is exactly why I'm pulling for Nintendo right now; they're the only company out of the three that is, primarily, a GAMING company. Their business plan is, as far as I'm concerned, far from perfect, but I feel like the others are stomping all over what used to be the simple joy of video games by fighting this war over bigger, better formats, when the true war should be about producing bigger, better games that everyone loves.

*sigh*



Advance to the next Final Fantasy!


Hi Matt.

Next time you can order in and not miss House! I've only recently started seeing it - there're reruns of the first season here, hopefully followed by the second and at some time or other the third. It's good, one of the few shows I regularly watch. The others are mostly guilty pleasures I won't mention.

I've looked around a little and couldn't find what's new for FFVI Advanced. It's probably my favorite FF, tied with FFT. So I was wondering what's up with that. The graphics don't seem that much better than the original from the screenshots I saw here.

Matt

What's new? There is, I believe, an entirely new translation, in which names like "Vicks" and "Atma Weapon" have been returned to their original forms. Also, I've heard that there are a few new espers to find, and possibly some new spells to go along with them. That's exciting. There have been rumours about an extra character, but I haven't even read RPGamer's FFVI review yet, because I don't want anything spoiled for me just in case. And, as with all of the FF Advance remakes, there is a bonus dungeon to work through after the game has come to a close. All in all, a decent number of additions to a game that's already packed with things to do and find.

How powerful do you think the DS actually is? I'm not sure it's more powerful than the PS1. I'm basing my opinions solely on FFIII which I've played almost exclusively. It's not as pretty as, say, Vagrant Story but most PS1 games aren't... When you look at the actual hardware capabilities, do you know who's better? And how many MBs does one of those tiny cartridges contain, anyway?

Matt

It's really hard to say, because while in-battle graphics were a little bit, uh, polygonous, the animations are wonderfully smooth, and the FMV at the beginning of the game is of surprisingly high quality. I think that the DS must be somewhere near on-par with the original PlayStation; I mean, the N64 was a more powerful machine in terms of graphics, and the DS has some N64 remakes on it that haven't obliterated the look at all (Mario 64, the nearing Diddy Kong Racing come to mind).

It's an interesting question, but hard to answer, because while it might be better in some respects, it could be worse in others. And, according to Wikipedia, up to 1 Gigabit of stuff, or 128 MB can be held on one card, which would put it in N64 territory, if I remember correctly.

As for Rogue Galaxy, I've got a friend who's flying to the US next week and I'll get her to buy it for me. I think it's my most anticipated PS2 RPG since Xenosaga III.

Zohar Gilboa

Matt

I hope you enjoy every last moment of it, Mr. Zohar. I don't know if a non-Square Enix RPG has been this talked about, ever, in recent history. Make sure to tell me all about it once you do get your paws on the game!



QUICKIES

Hey Matt, just a quickie!

H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y !!!

I'm sorry that I don't have a present for you, but if I could, I would give you this: Time

So much time you need to do all the things you want. It's the only thing you really can't buy with money, and I think you could need it and would deserve it.

Have a very good birthday
Belthasar2

P.S: You're 3 months older than me, I'm still 23.
nya nya

Matt
Darn you, you slightly-younger person, you. And that's the best (and sweetest) idea for a b-day present of all time, no pun intended. ;)

C'mon it's not THAT cold in the Great Lakes region....okay, maybe it is, but it's suppose to be cold. I wouldn't have my Detroit winters any other way.

Have a Happy Birthday!!

The Dark Chevalier

Matt
By the time I make it through all of these birthday-letters, I'm going to have my next one. Thanks, TDC, and I did! I hate the cold and plan to hibernate all this weekend.


MOGNET MAIL

No new mail today, kupo! If you have Final Fantasy III DS, my code is 515 480 192 117. Mail me your number, and I'll add you to my list! Then you can send all the letters you like! I'll continue this section until at least the end of February, and we'll see how it goes after that.



IN CLOSING

That's enough to wrap up still another week. I've done an awful lot of these weeks now, haven't I?

Next week is an exciting one, though, because North Americans are set to receive their very first good remake of Final Fantasy VI, ever. Are you looking forward to it as much as I am?

Grant Ouro much in the way of mail and cookies while I'm gone! I'll be back next week as always, unless I fall into a bottomless pit, screaming "aaaaaa" until the end of time.



Send a Letter!

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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is a math master! At least, he wishes he was.


You know when in Looney Tunes, the characters go to flex their biceps at times but get the puny floppy result that hangs down? That's how I sometimes feel when I'm trying to work on my Master's thesis. I hate feeling useless.

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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 Smash Bros. Brawl



What I'm Playing:

1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessI

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

3. Final Fantasy XII



Hot Topics:

1. Got Rogue Galaxy?

2. Super Paper Mario in April! But is it an RPG?

3. Maaan, those FFXII:Revenant Wings screens look amazing.

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5. Console Wars: Which should the RPGamer invest in?



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