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Mattissimo
February 7, 2007

Matt Demers - 19:16 EST

TEACHER OF MATH, Master of the RPG: That's right, it's Mattissimo! Quite randomly, I've suddenly stumbled into having to teach my very first calculus class next Friday, because the teacher will be out having surgery done. And holy yikes-balls: The class is of 375 students, so I have more than a little bit of a lump in my throat. My job? Doing three integration-by-trigonometric-substitution examples. So, it's not like I'll actually be TEACHING them anything, but still, AHHHHHHHH!

I'll compose myself a little, and then answer some of your brand-spanking new questions. Can you wait? I can't.




LETTERS
Son of a...


Hey Matt,

Final Fantasy VI Advance! Yay! It's out. I just picked it up this afternoon and have thumbed through the instruction booklet and will sit down to try it out in a while, but I was wondering what you thought about some of the changes made noticeable through screenshots in this little book. I, for one, am surprisingly a little bummed that tonics are potions and potions are hi-potions. I mean, I'm all for standardizing item names as much as we can, but I didn't expect the disappearance of tonics to be so bittersweet! Truth be told, though, I'm excited to see how the new translation stacks up. The retranslations of IV and V Advance made me love those games in totally new ways. What did you think of the rewordings?

Matt

It is true that in the Japanese versions, all of these items were named the same as they were in all of the other Final Fantasy games, so this whole changing business is just for consistency's sake. Some of the original shortforms were a little eyebrow-raising in the first place. I mean, "Fenix Down"? YECH! For a snooty speller like myself, I wretched in pain the first time I saw that one. All in all, I'm just dandy with the changes, though it'll be interesting to see how Espers are renamed!

My other question randomly involves numbers. If you check out the Japanese screenshots, the HP digits in battle are, well, better looking than they are in the North American release. How come we got stuck with big ugly digits? Are they trying to tell us something, and if so, what?

Matt

I only have one explanation: Because they hate you.

No, really, do you really think that our font is uglier? It looks a little wider, and honestly, a little more true to the SNES, I think. I think it's a subjective matter, personally.

Anyway, off to race to find the script replacement for "son of a submariner!" Man, I might have to dust off the ol' SNES after I get through this to play the game I fell in love with ten years ago. Well, I would in an alternate reality where I had all the time in the world to play video games, anyway.

Josh, who can't decide on a nickname to distinguish himself from the other Joshes

Matt

AHHH! Son of a submariner! Nooo! Oh, I really hope that they don't get rid of Kefka's "hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate" line later on! It'll make my SOCK question of yore invalid, and plus, that's just a classic. :(

Nonetheless, banking on the fact that IV and V had great translations, I'm still looking forward with great hope to seeing what they did with VI!



More Phantastic!


Hi, Matt,

Just finished Phantasy Star IV. Thus completing the 3 on the Genesis Collection. To address Jeffrey's comments - he's right about not knowing what items/spells do. That's because there's no real instructions with the disc (with so many games on it, I guess they would've needed a HUGE booklet to go into them all). He could do what I did - go online & just read the beginning of a walkthrough that explains controls, items, magics, etc. While I don't think IV is the greatest game of all time, I can see why it's so highly thought of. Each of the games improved over its predecessor, & IV was pretty perfect. The dungeons were difficult without being tear inducing (II's almost brought me to my knees at times), chests actually gave you better items, travelling was a bit less linear with the addition of sidequests, more bosses to fight, all while keeping the things about the series that make it a really good one - difficult battles (regular & boss), engaging story & characters.

Matt

Awesome! I'm excited to one day try it, even if by "one day" I mean by the time I'm ready to retire. Nah, I'm sure I'll get around to it before then, entity-willing.

Happy belated birthday, young'in - hate to admit it, but I'm more than double your age (I'm the super niche rpgamer - female, gay & over 50!!!)! I'd love to start a Super Niche RPGamer club, but since I'm the only one I know in this category.........

Matt

...you'll get to be the president! I'm sure you're not alone, honestly, so I wouldn't think much of it. It's cool to think that people of all different flavours, traversing all sorts of different roads in life, have converged on this single site, united by the same interests.

Can I ask you an interesting question? How do you feel about Nintendo's current cause to "expand the market to include historically non-gamer groups" such as the one you're in? They've been marketing a lot to the boomer-age and senior-age female population, as if those people would have to have completely different tastes in gaming. Maybe it's true on the whole, and certainly there would be exceptions to that rule such as yourself, but what is your take on the subject? I'm interested to hear your perspective!

In the 360 v. PS3 dollars & sense debate - Xbox Live costs $50 a year, PS3 online (don't know if it has a name) is free. I haven't bought any next-gen system yet, but I'm slowly leaning to PS3. While I'm not a Halo player, I thought it was rotten of Microsoft to not offer their Halo 3 beta free (buy Crackdown for $60 & get a "free" invitation to the beta - not to mention you're already paying the above mentioned $50 a year)! I know it's a business, but throwing a bone or two to your customers IS good business.

Matt

That's really true. I wasn't aware of that, to be honest, though I'm not likely to follow a game like Halo, as great as it might be. I can say, though, that stuff like this is, unfortunately, common to the video gaming world, and is even present in the RPG genre! It wasn't long ago when everyone had to pick up a copy of Dragon Quest VIII in order to first see FFXII in action, if you remember that. Some people screamed "not fair" while people like me said "whoa, cool, people are actually going to buy my game." It's business, just like everything else in this, uh, business.

Non-RPG question. Once you've graduated what field will you be going into? Are you already considering any applications? Will we lose you once you're employed? I hope not.

Have a great week.

Jbumi

Matt

Heh heh, no promises, Jbumi, but I hope to be around here as long as I can! I'm going to be doing a Ph.D. program by the looks of it, so my current lifestyle will very likely be extended by four or five years. I should be around for a good while yet, so no fears.

After the Ph.D.? At the very least, I'd like to be a math prof. I'd especially like to do that without becoming "professorial", since that usually means turning into a snooty bastard.

Thanks for your letter, as always!



But the devil's goodies are shiiiiiny!


Hey Matt,

You know, I'm one of those guys like you who never thought he'd be supporting a system developed by Microsoft... and yet, I've been leaning more and more towards as of late. In fact, I've been doing more than leaning - I plan on getting a 360 within the next couple weeks because I just can't justify shelling out the cash for the PS3 when the 360 is getting most of the same games (think Assassin's Creed, and the MGS rumour) as well as sole support from Mystwalker. The future looks bright indeed. I mean, Blue Dragon looks so much like Dragon Quest I can probably justify buying the system on that game alone, not to mention enjoying some Gears of War and finally playing through Halo 2 after never having owned an original Xbox.

Matt

It's true. As of right now, there's no question that the Xbox 360 looks more attractive as an RPGaming console than the PS3. Keep this in mind, though: It's taken the 360 a year and a half to get to this point, and the PS3 has a long way to go before it gets to that mark. We have a lot of announcements to get through, and a lot of games to be revealed (other than yet another rubber-stamp racing game that LOOKSTH STHWWEEEET). That being said, there's no question that Blue Dragon looksth sthweeeet, so I can't say that I'm not feeling a little pull towards Microsoft's devil-box myself.

I find that as I'm getting older, I have less and less time (and subsequently less and less patience) for RPGs that take upwards of 100 hours. I love my DS and I can't wait to play FFXII: RW and Dragon Quest IX on it (as well as FFVI this week) but my PS2 gaming habits just can't hold out for longer than 50 hours per game. It's why I'm finding the quick, intense games of more interest lately as well as the added bonus of co-operative play. With my girlfriend living with me, it's hard to find the time and solitude to waste an entire day on RPGs like I used to when I was a kid - now we're looking to play games together... and no matter how hard I try, she just can't get into the whole J-RPG thing. So that's why I'm going to be getting a Wii and an Xbox360. And who knows, with joining the workforce this year after graduating from uni, I just might have to pick up a PS3 somewhere down the line, but I know that it definitely won't be anytime soon.

Matt

Oh, that's so sad. I know, I've tried to make Tom play RPGs as well, but the only thing he's remotely interested in is Zelda. (He says he's playing through Dragon Quest VIII, but he hasn't touched the game in eight months, so whatever.)

I totally understand the time-crunch, because I'm definitely feeling it myself, but you should still get the chance to play the games you want to play when you get the chance! I'm not completely convinced that they'll be popping up on the PS3 as much as they did for the PS2, though.

Anyway, thanks for listening to me rant. I know others are in the same boat I am though and I just thought I'd share.

BTW, did you know tha Mario Hoops 3 on 3 was developed by SquareEnix? Crazy, eh?

Derek

Matt

I'm glad you used Q&A as your rant-dumping ground. We don't even charge a fee! And yeah, Mario Hoops 3-on-3 looked interesting, except for the curious omission of anything connected to Nintendo Wi-Fi. Uh, excuse me? There's no way that I'd be able to play the game multiplayer in person, because I don't have any friends with DSes, let alone ones that would buy a sports game by Square Enix. Actually, I don't have that many friends, period... they've all moved away, as I rot here in Guelph. *sniffle*



Revenant Trepidation


So Matt thinks the FF12: Revenant Wings screens are amazing huh? Well, you can't argue w/ the fact that they do look great for a handheld. That said, I read in GameInformer that the game is the spiritual sequel to Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. That is to say, the game will have overly simplistic gameplay, story, etc... which does not bode well for the game. I'm going to wait for a couple reviews before picking this one up. Graphics alone do not make a great game. As a side note, its refreshing to see/read previews that acknowledge a game's flaws. Too often previews follow an unwritten "positive coverage only" rule.

Matt

Considering that really, few details have been made available so far, I'm still optimistic!

You've been reading my column for long enough that you know that graphics are one of the least important things for me when it comes to judging the quality of a game- especially an RPG. The screens do really look nice, as I mentioned, but I can't very well say much for the rest of the game.

I did take a few things from the screens, though: It looks like a lot of the same elements will be preserved, and I've heard that some form of the gambit system is returning as well. As for a simplistic story? We'll have to wait and see, but to be honest, FFXII itself didn't exactly have an overwhelmingly complex plot to begin with.

I figure that there's no point in stewing and being pessimistic, because, well, there's no point. Did I just say "no point" twice? I think you get my point.



Oracle of Ages


Regarding your little blurb about how being a quarter of a century old and still a gamer as being disgusting (or disturbing), I've almost reached that myself and there's no signs of the gamer in me slowing down. Nor would I want there to be. Maybe you haven't realized that when you were 10 or 11, gaming wasn't as mainstream as it is today, and people who were 25 then probably didn't grow up with games the same way our generation has.

Matt

Oh no no! Don't mistake what I was trying to say: I think it's fantastic to be an adult gamer now. I just never would have thought that that would be the case while growing up, because I didn't know anyone in their 30s (or 20s) who loved games. Now, of course, things are different, because today's 20 and 30 year olds are the kids who got exposed to video games "big-time" in the 1980s. I can't wait for 2050 to get here; perhaps gaming will be a regular thing throughout all ages. It's exciting to see the demographic expand over time!

Looking at statistics clearly show that the average age of gamers is climbing, and as long as games continue to thrive as a pasttime, that average is probably going to climb as well. Personally, I can't see why gaming, which allows one to actually have an active participation in their entertainment as well as releasing endorphins which create a safe and natural 'rewarding' experience, can be seen in such negative lights as 'kiddish' or 'immature', while something like television which literally causes your left brain (the side which controls analysis and communication) to switch off, leaving you in a trance-like- almost zombie-like state, is such a wide-spread and accepted form of entertainment. Especially now, with all that reality stuff on. What a noisy box of junk.

Matt

I totally know what you're saying. I've always argued that games help develop everything from reading skills to hand-eye coordination to problem-solving skills to mathematical ability, in people of all ages. I can't stand the fact that certain politicians, catering to the yuppie populace, would rather sit kids down in front of blaring images of colourful, ADHD-inducing cereal commercials.

Hopefully, within thirty years, the old fogeys that run the world will be dead and buried, and a more accepting age group will have control of the situation, if the world hasn't gone to hell before then, of course.

To most people, reading books is respectable, watching television is fine, but being a gamer is immature and senseless, a waste of time. I guess they fail to see how games (and especially rpgs) is the middle-step between reading books and watching television. I look forward to the time when games receive the respect they deserve as a worthwhile and meaningful form of entertainment.

Here's a little quote I found while researching brain activity that I thought was rather interesting-

"Edgar A. DeYoe, PhD, professor of cellular biology, neurobiology, and anatomy, and graduate student Julie Brefczynski report their findings in the April 1999 issue of Nature Neuroscience. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Using your attention is a little bit like playing a video game where things happen so fast, you can't look at each one individually. You have to let your attention pick up the targets without moving your eyes," says Brefczynski." (HealthLink Medical College of Wisconsin) http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/922995048.html

~animetayl

Matt

Thanks for your insight! This is obviously the subject of a huge ongoing debate, but it's impossible to argue with some people on the subject. A few games have painted the entire medium with the wrong colours: Not all games are needlessly violent, and there are almost no games that don't require some level of discipline, practice, or real thought. Arguing with some of these characters is quite literally like arguing with some people about their favourite religion... you're just not going to win, no matter how hard you try. That's why we've gotta wait for the whole dead-and-buried thing to happen. It sounds crude, but hey, it's the reality of the situation! Git out yer shovels, everyone.



QUICKIES

If you take a peek over at RPGfan, you'll notice under their Soundtracks section (which is exemplary) that the reviews frequently mention never having played the game from which the music came. What say you about that?

JuMeSyn

Matt
I say that no matter what game it is, the music within hits you completely differently once you've experienced it "in context" and that judging game music without playing the game is almost unfair. You send me three trillion links with each of your e-mails with all sorts of music, but I guarantee you that you feel more passionately about them than I do, and there's a reason for that. What a great quickie, JuMeSyn- thanks!


MOGNET MAIL

No Mogmail today, kupo! But, 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, as they say, is that. What game is that quote from? If you know it, answer me, and while you won't get any SOCK points or anything, you'll get to feel all warm and tingly inside. There's nothing better, I assure you.

Later, gators.



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 13 - safe



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is all tired out!


YAWN! Hmm, hmm. I'll bet that... three people will answer my last question at the end. Well, maybe now that I've mentioned it down here, I might get four or five. I'll guess FOUR, final answer.

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