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ASK MATT
Lemon Squares of Destiny
March 27, 2007

Matt - 14:58 EST

AND SO BEGINS A NEW WEEK in Questions and Answers! This is a very, very special week for all of us old-school fans. Do you know why? Because tomorrow marks my 255th column! After tomorrow, I will have surpassed the traditional ceiling for stats in many RPGs. It'll be a bit sad to move past that eighth power of two, but we must go on, moving forward without regret. There's a lot to look forward to over the next 256 columns, anyway, including the new competition which is getting ever closer to beginning! If you haven't signed up, I encourage you to do so now. It will be starting in just over a month, and there will be prizes on the order of new games, guest-host positions, and more!

Oh wait. Now that I check back, I guess that my 255th was last week. Sigh. Welcome to the future, I guess.

It seems that over the weekend, Andrew wasn't around to jump into the captain's chair after all. As it turns out, he performed some unfortunate acrobatics and wound up breaking his foot late last week. Understandably, he's had to lay low for a little while. That's the way it goes, I guess.

So, it's just you and me for a little while! Let's read some of your letters now.




LETTERS
Movies, books, restaurants, and games.


You've got to be kidding me! Tetris Attack on Wi-Fi?!?! I'm so there!

Matt

I would not kid you about something as important as that! I can't wait to crush you and others like the respective bugs you are. Given the hours that my brother and I spent on the SNES and N64 incarnations of that game, you will soon understand why I am as good as I am. *EGO* <3

Anyway, back to more RPG related things. I'm another of the lucky to have played Lufia 2. Not one of the best endings for an RPG that I've ever encountered, but I love the puzzles. Even the one that I only passed cause I had a dream about the solution the night I got stuck on it. o_O;

Another good memory of the game - watching my sister feed providence to her capsule monster in the Ancient Dungeon... Hee hee hee... Talk about asking for trouble. N.O. E.S.C.A.P.E... to borrow a phrase from another RPG.

Matt

You didn't like the ending for Lufia 2, really!? I don't remember it terribly well, but I do remember liking it. It HAS been a long time since I last played it. There were so many great things about the game, though, between the dungeon design, the "old-school-with-a-few-twists" battle system, the nifty story, and of course, the hair-pulling puzzles.

That makes me wonder how many other people have accidentally or purposefully jettisoned, eaten, sold, or otherwise destroyed a key item that they needed in a game? Sometimes I'm glad the game grays out special items so you don't accidentally stick yourself in a bad situation.

Matt

Yeah, and not all games do! I'm sure most of us have at one time or another. I really think there are even a couple of key loot items in Final Fantasy XII that you shouldn't toss or sell, but I'm not sure. For three-quarters of the game, I held onto two of everything just in case I'd need something randomly. I never did, though, as far as I could see, so I was simply choking myself of a ton of money.

As for 360 vs PS3 vs Wii... I'm not sure I'm on anyones boat yet. I'll stick w/ my DS. Possibly pick up the Wii when SSB Brawl comes out or even when Super Paper Mario comes out. 360 is starting to look more favorable though when shed in certain lights.

Have a good one!
MagRowan ^_^

Matt

Yeah. I almost feel like the PS3 has caught a little bit of fire with the European launch, too. Apparently, the PS3 launch broke sales records... which can only mean that Europeans have a hell of a lot of money to burn. What a great method of positive reinforcement for the big Sony, though. Of course they're going to keep charging Europeans incredibly (and unfairly) more money than everybody else in the world... buying them so vigourously, Europe is, in my opinion, just telling them "sure, keep raping me from behind!" to put it quite crudely. Ah well- it's their money!



More on Lufia!


I played the two SNES Lufia games:

Lufia and the Fortress of Doom (Sometimes called "Lufia 1" even though that isn't quite right): I played this game for a bit but didn't finish for two reasons:

1) Random Battles. Yick!

2) High difficulty. The game requires you to level up quite a bit. More than once I found myself running out of resources halfway through and having to backtrack. The game seemed to have a good story and characters, but I don't really remember too much.

Matt

It was wonderful. The game didn't have as many elements as Lufia II; there weren't as many puzzles, the battle system was more old fashioned, and the story was quite more primitive. It was still a winner for me, and I've been craving it lately, strangely, probably because we've talked about it so much lately. You know that the random battles don't faze me any, and the difficulty is more attractive than it is detractive. I don't think that I ever required level-grinding when I played it, though it was scary to have to MP-budget, Dragon Quest-style. (Love it!)

Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals:

This is by far the best Lufia thus far. The game introduced many new concepts. There are not-too-hard puzzles to solve as in Zelda Link to the Past. On the overworld map, monsters will attack randomly as in Lufia 1 and Final Fantasy, but in dungeons, monsters and you move on a grid. Monsters move only when you do creating a sort of strategy game. If you touch a monster (or a monster touches you) a battle will begin. If you touch the back of a monster, it will be a preemptive strike style battle, while if a monster touches your back the monsters will have a free attack round when combat begins. There is even a randomly generated dungeon in the game. The combat system is turn-based, similar to FF1. The story as in Zelda is nothing to write home about, and consists entirely of one fetch quest after another. There is a ship, submarine, and airship to drive around in the game. The focus is on puzzle solving and battling and not as much on story and exploration.
Matt

Well... I think that the storyline of Lufia II was made more exciting if you had played through the original game. Because Lufia II was a prequel to the game, it was really neat to see familiar people and places. The characters were neat too; there was a lot of fun-fun dialogue, or so I remember in my brain's time capsule, which could be slightly inaccurate.

I didn't play the Lufia for handhelds (I forget the title). It featured random dungeons and got terrible reviews which is why I didn't pick it up.

Matt

It is pretty bad. The one with random dungeons, Lufia: The Legend Returns, actually isn't so bad as ITS sequel, Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, which was an absolutely disastrous game. If you've played it, you know what I mean. The GBC Legend Returns was actually a little bit fun at times and a lot bit cute at others. The battle system was really original, too- the entire game was ruined by the fact that they, for whatever reason, turned to random dungeon generators. Those things wreck 90% of good games, I'm afraid.

Series notes:
The cure/healing spell is called "Strong." The medium strength version is "Stronger" and the highest strength version is "Champion." Maybe I'm the only one, but I thought that was quite strange.

Flamethrower

Matt

Don't forget about Valor! Actually, in the later Lufia games, the "Strongest" that you're looking for, I assume, does indeed make an appearance. Perhaps the spell was just a bit shy? I can't tell you.

Thanks, Flamethrower!



Pokémon Diamond and Pearl... only a month away!


Yo Matt, Andy or whoever, what's been happening?

Matt

Oh, not too much. Some test-marking (ugh) and some Zelda-playing (yay!) marked this weekend, along with a fantastic road trip to my sister's place. At her direction, we went to Anna Olson's bakery in Saint Catharines and she was there in the flesh! Being a Food Network Canada personality that I've watched for years on TV, I was SO excited when she was the one to hand me a lemon square. I've eaten something that she's touched!!! AHHHHHH!!!!

So the PS3 surposedly launched in Australia, not that I even realised 'til I saw something over the net. Guess it shows how interested I was in it. I'm still ploding along with FF12, but my copy of Europa Civalis 3 came in last week so i'm going to see if it'll work on my home computer.

Matt

Ooh, hopefully. Obscure games for the win, no? I've never heard of it, anyway.

It sounds like the PS3 made more of a "splunk" than a "splash" from the articles I've read, but you're there, reporting live! It's so nice to have correspondents from across the globe. No, you won't get paid until I do.

So SOCK starts soon. Are you as excited as me?

Matt

I hope not!

I've been putting a lot of work into creating tools that will make the whole thing easier for me by far. With a new form entry, the wonders of Microsoft Excel (yes, I used to do all the sorting by hand), and the tidbit that I'm announcing today over on the tidbit page, my hope is that the whole thing will become a whole lot more enjoyable for me, too! We don't have long to wait, now.

Will you be getting Pokemon Pearl and Diamond? Hopefully i'll have broardband connected by the time I get back to my Uni house next week. Wii'ng and Dsing all night long maybe, except when i'm doing my assignments.

Matt

Without a doubt! I might just battle against you one day soon, Mr. Bainick. Pokémon is giving me reason to exist next month, truly. There are so many aspects of that game that I feel like I'm going to love, the least of which is the Wi-Fi battling. Times of day are being brought back, and that makes my heart (and kidneys, maybe) leap with delight.

Anywho that's it, not to bad considering its like 3:20 in the morning.

Oh and if Andy gets this one, hi Andy.

Matt

No Andy for you! At least not this time. Maybe next time.

Thanks for your letter, and I await your Pokéchallenge. May the best man win!



A mish-mash nearly as tasty as potatoes.


Hello again,

So I have been playing RPG's since the days of Dragon Warrior (not that I think that to be a true RPG enthusiast one needs to have played everything out there) and continue to play games such as Rogue Galaxy and Final Fantasy XII. To be honest, despite the fact I have played these many games, the truth is I have seen few of them to completion. This didn't used to be a problem, in fact I wouldn't just beat them once, but several times. A few factors enter into this I suppose, being 27 and working all the time have had a large impact on the amount of time I can play. Also, there are just a greater number of Rpgs to play now. Once a game like Mario RPG would come out and that was it for a long time. You really didn't have much else in the way of Role Playing until say Chrono Trigger came out. (I am aware that I may be wrong on which came out first, but you get the point). Now, last year alone, we had: Xenosaga 3, Tales of the Abyss, Valkryie Profile 2, Suikoden 5, .Hack GU, Final Fantasy just to name a few. Am I happy that we get alot of games, yes of course, but I kinda miss when that one special game consumed your time.

Matt

See, I often feel the same way as you, but I often wonder if it's just because now, I'm way more aware of what things are coming out now than I used to be. When I was a little kid, I had no idea when new games were supposed to come out; I'd just see something new at the Toys 'R' Us and go "OMG, something new!" In addition to that, I only had an NES and SNES when I was younger, so I was completely oblivious to all of the games on other systems. Now, with the Internet being as big as it is, and me being an informed adult with a little bit of money, I feel like it's not so much a matter of there being more games coming out as much as it is a matter of me being more aware of the games that ARE coming out. There are probably more games being released, though, on top of that, anyway, doubling the effect.

If you couldn't follow that whole big mess of a paragraph, my point is simply this: It's quite impossible, given a set of responsibilities and a life to live, to play absolutely everything that is being released nowadays. So pick the ones that look fun to you, play 'em, and then write back to tell me about them! Then, others will get an idea of games they might like to play, and the cycle is renewed, like the great Circle of Zarathustra, or something like that.

On another note, what do you think is the right amount of playable characters in a game. Something in the way of Radiata Stories or Suikoden, where you can pick and choose to your hearts content. Or something like Final Fantasy or Shadow Hearts where despite the lack of characters, they are more spealized and have a better chance of a full backstory?

Matt

No question, I prefer the Type B with fewer characters and better chance for backstory, and I think most people would agree with me on that one. Some games do this better than others, of course.

Thanks once agian for listening to me go on and on. I know I get a bit long winded.

Matt

Heh- have you read some people's letters on here? Trust me, you are far from the worst offender. ^^

Arkadysmile "Still waiting for that stupid tax return"

PS. What do you think was the best reason for a villian in a game to do the thing they did?

Matt

I hear you on the tax return- I'm awaiting mine, worth a cool $1100 or so. That could be the Xbox 360 that I might (or might not) get.

As for villainous actions, I really love when there are good reasons for villains to believe in what they believe in; it makes them somewhat more credible and fearsome than the "crazed I want to destroy the world" type, which is oh-so-common in our little genre. So, I like villains like the main one of Xenosaga that genuinely feel that their cause is for the benefit of the world (or universe, such as the case may be). There aren't many of them, though.

That's all, Master Arkady! Talk to you later.



Dead End for FFXIII?


Quickly I'll say that if the Final Fantasy games of the new consoles aren't exclusive to PS3 , Sony, you're in for a world of hurt. Losing exclusives from 3rd parties seems to be the case anyway. Sony has a lot of good 1st and 2nd party games/series to pull from, but 3rd parties always make or break a system.

Matt

I totally agree. But can you blame them? If I were Square Enix, I'd be sweating bullets right now. We have a PS3 that has shipped what... a million copies, maybe as an upper bound, in Japan? Of those owners, even if half of them bought Final Fantasy XIII, that works out to a paltry 500,000 copies, which is a joke compared to previous games in the series. And half of them won't buy it; like it or not, RPGs are not quite THAT mainstream, even in Japan. The big problem then is that the Xbox 360 is far less popular even, in Japan, selling only a few thousand consoles, from the looks of it, in February. Square Enix suddenly finds itself in a no-man's land, because the big game that it's developing is too big for the britches of the only systems that are popular in Japan. So what do they do?? It's a huge conundrum.

On to hero (stereo/arche)types. I dislike is the idiot hero. The one who has no business attempting to save the world. Though I haven't played FF12 yet, I have watched a bit of it over my girlfriend's shoulder. Vaan strikes me as this type of hero. He's the main character, yet he's the least decisive and most ignorant of the group.

Matt

Well, I also hate the brashly decisive and brainless hero as well, and perhaps moreso. The hero from Golden Sun- his Fire-elemental good friend, whatever his name was- THAT guy was one of the greatest offenders of all time. Man, I hated him.

Also on the list of dislike is the effeminate male teenager. Yes I know that plucky young heros are the standard. But why must the character I watch the entire game look like an escapee from an SNL Pat skit?

Matt

There there, I know what you mean. With the ridiculous hairstyles and outfits of some of these guys, you'd think that they'd have to stop between each battle, grab a compact, and touch themselves up a little bit.

I prefer capable heros. By that I mean the ones who can do the job through skill, planning and some application of effort. Again to reference FF12, Basch and Balthier strike me as this type of hero. I felt that the main character in Breath of Fire 5 fit this. But generally the capable role is given over to an older mentor character, so that the plucky young hero can learn from them.

Matt

It's true! And something strikes me here; I think that a lot of the time, the hero is made to seem less heroic from the outset just because you are them, in a sense. Just as your character learns from older, wiser, more experienced friends, you learn more about the game, becoming more skilled and more capable as you progress. By the end, both you and hero alike have blossomed into true heroes. I think in this sense, young and plucky doesn't have to be a bad thing; it's just a little clichéd.

I'm willing to say that even if I do dislike a type of hero if the story around them is done well, that's no big deal. However sometime it'd be nice to have a main character who is an older, experienced, hell perhaps even married, pillar of society. Rather than Little Timmy who likes to wear mommy's make-up.

Ken

Matt

Ha ha ha. It's too bad that Dragon Quest V hasn't been translated!! By the end of that game, you actually do end up married with children, and you lead your whole family to fight against evil. It's really awesome, I think, and it's a pity that this game hasn't made it across the ocean yet after all this time.

Thanks for your heroic input! I appreciate the letter.



QUICKIES

I am trying to find a file of the music that is played in FF7 when you win a battle. Would you know where to find this??

Matt
Yes! Buy the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack. Or search around online, or use a questionably-legal filesharing program... I won't tell. If you're interested in a synthy version, I turn your attention to this site, home of MIDI files galore. Happy hunting!

IN CLOSING

So, what can I say? That's all for today. Thanks for tuning in once again, as always, but I'm always looking for some mail, if you're interested in helping out my supply. What say you?

Next new topic: We're already one quarter of the way through the year, so what games have been your favourite from 2007 so far? And why?

There will be more tomorrow, so please come back and visit!



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On my Wishlist:

1. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

2. Super Paper Mario 3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Metroid Prime 3

5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl



On my Portable Playlist:

1. Final Fantasy VI

2. Lunar Knights

3. Mega Man ZX



On my Console Roster:

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

2. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance



Hot Topics:

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3. Are games chiefly an art form?

4. The Xbox 360... in new light?

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