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ASK XLASH & MATT
Merry Christmas! March 32, 2006

Xlash - 03:18 EST

LIVE (this message has been previously recorded) FROM NEW YORK ..er I mean Denton, Tx, its time for Xlash to reclaim the co-hosting position. I hope I am not too late getting this in as I had planned on visiting my friend Chris this weekend before I had known if and when I would get to host again. I have hijacked Chris's computer in order to get this written and off in time. I'm sure he won't mind. It was a good month for me SOCK-wise as I just barely missed having 2 co-hosting days within March. Of course, now I am no longer on top, you will not need to fear my axis of evil. Now lets get to the letters.




L E T T E R S
What is in a name? Letters!


To Matt and Xlash (not xslash like last time, sorry for that, i'm as bad a speller on the pc as in real life.)

Xlash

Hehe, no problem. I just had to give you a hard time, really. Not like my nick is all that common anyway. In case any of you were wondering, I pronounce it as if it's spelled "ZLASH". Why I didn't choose that spelling? It was supposed to be the name of an alien that used multiple axes. You take the word 'slash' and use the 'X' from 'axe' instead. Kinda lame I know, but I came up with that when I was younger. The name stuck with me, though, and I use it whenever I can make a username at least 5 letters long cause I know its very unlikely to be taken. Sorry for that interruption. Please continue.

Matt

Wow, good to know. I always pronounced it as "Ex-lash", which made it sound a little to me like a certain name brand of medication for regularity treatment.

You know writing letters isn't easy. This is my fourth attempt but i'll keep trying. Anyway poor english skills aside, i have really enjoyed playing FFT Advance, which many reviewers, RPGamer Staff, family have not quite enjoyed it as much. Yes its a simple game, but it is one that you can spend hours customizing your team to suit your style of play. As a matter of fact, I might read about a game in a mag/review but I never trust a single entry. Mainly due to the fact that its all based on that reviewers expectations of a game. If I don't like the game fine, but thats my interpertation, and is due to my tastes. I enjoyed Kingdom Hearts, and no one gave it great reviews.

Xlash

I have to agree that any game that lets me control/customize my party as I see fit gets a big thumbs up from me. That being said, I was one of those that was not thrilled with how FFTA turned out.

First let me state that I have never owned a portable device (please don't revoke my gamer cred) so I had to borrow from a friend over a weekend. The battle system didn't take too long to get the hang of but the overall story did not grab my attention. Also, as I think I have stated before, I have a hard time connecting with child heroes nowadays. Before playing, I had every intention of purchasing my own system and that game but after that brief exposure I was left underwhelmed. Like I said before, I liked the customization a lot but the rest of the game left me feeling blah. For me the first nail in the coffin started with the tutorial snowball fight. It wasn't even a real intro fight with skills and laws like the one with Montblanc. If the game had started in the FF world it would have been much better, for me anyway.

Oh and I never did finish FF10, mainly due to the fact that I spent about 80 hours playing Blitz Ball, the cost was worth just that alone.

Bainick owns all of the mainstream Goosebumps books!

Bah my first umpiring game of the year, and it looks like rain, followed by sleet, followed by hail, followed by snow, followed by 30 degree (C) heat, Melbournes four-seasons-in-one-day is spreading!

Matt

Aha! Australia and southern Ontario seem to share a lot in common, then! I was complaining incessantly about the cold and wind last week, but today I saw three guys walking around campus with their shirts off in the sun, before it turned rainy and disgusting.

As for Blitzball, it was a really involving "mini"-game, which either absorbed players or put them off entirely. I didn't play much, for example, but my friend Ken must have logged 50 hours of Blitzball fun.

Thanks, Bainick, as always, for writing in!



Be forewarned: This question is GRAPHIC. *slaps leg*


Mattimus Prime,

For me, graphics mean very little in the roleplaying genre. Game engines and music far surpass graphics on my personal scale of importance. There's no reason related to graphics that would cause me to skip over a role-playing game. Would I skip out on playing a RPG the entire way through because of shoddy and/or annoying music? Maybe, even though it hasn't happened yet (although the original Kingdom Hearts music came close to pushing me beyond my annoyance limits). But game engine? You better believe it. Graphics only mean so much in the grand scheme of RPGs. Sure, it's great to see graphics evolve from flailing a weapon at thin air and seeing damage registered to the enemy 10 feet away to characters running up and whacking an enemy in battle, but it doesn't make or break the genre for me. Yeah, it's kinda neat every now and then to see different summon animati ons, but again the overall game experience is more important to me than Alexander blasting up from the ground and into righteous, holy beam fury. I don't buy RPGs because of a graphical presentation. In fact, I stray away from games of ALL genres if I've read they're FMV top-heavy. But if you want to see a genre that's pretty dependent on graphics (and sound, to an even greater extent), look no further than survival horror. Any new innovation they can squeeze out of a console's graphical limitations can add to that experience in numerous ways. The latest and greatest graphics don't always mean the latest and greatest RPG. Gameplay and innovation is the key.

Matt

Well said, good sir! I agree with just about everything you've mentioned here. To me, graphics are a secondary measure. Sure, if two RPGs are equally fun, have similarly great music, and they both have a good plot, then sure, the one with the better graphics will probably sweep me off my feet a bit more. All of those other criteria come first, though; they're simply more essential to a great game, as far as I'm concerned.

As for "graphics whores," I wouldn't call "graphics whores" shallow, but I would most certainly refrain from calling them true gamers. If they have some sort of graphics fetish and every little game they play must be a digital masterpiece, that's their perrogative; they can play whatever they want. However, they lose any and all credibility when it comes to game reviews and game debates (if such things truly exist), and it's likely they have missed out on several generations of great games due to some imaginary graphics baseline they've drawn for themselves---as if playing a NES RPG degrades their senses or something. And for a person to actively choose not to play a game because of some graphic prejudice, well that's just sad. There's a big difference between "graphics aficionados" and "graphics whores": the willingness to play a game. Graphics aficionados play old games but prefer the look of new ones; graphics whores thumb their nose up at anything less than digital perfection and salivate over hair that blows realistically in the wind, breathtaking breath particles and other silly things relative to console generation.

Matt

*writes new terminologies down in personal dictionary*

Hee, hee, hee... nice definition, there. I'm no graphics whore, but I guess I could see myself as a kind of graphics aficionado. Sure, they aren't the most important thing; but jeez, there's no denying that I was blown away the first time I saw the opening of FFVIII. I can certainly appreciate the work that has been pumped into making games visual masterpieces; of course, I think I also have a rarer ability to appreciate the graphics of older games, too. There's a certain something that's very charming about old-school graphics; I miss Final Fantasy sprites a lot, for instance. Maybe that's my nostalgia talking, though.

Anyways, that's my two GP on the subject. I wrote an e-mail during the Winter Olympics sometime but missed a reply if you wrote one. My main question dealt, in my mind, with the one shining positive quality of emulation: patching. Hex-savvy individuals could improve a game's glitches (evade% bug, Vanish + Doom, etc.), add new content and new difficulty to a game, and even translate entire game scripts. Do you see this as the way of the future, specifically with Nintendo's new download service? Do you see some old, Japan-only NES and SNES RPGs---maybe games like FFVI which had a good number of glitches---gettin' their patch on and released through Nintendo's ROM service?

Dare to dream.

--Kaz (I've got sprite fever, and the only prescription is more FFVI)

P.S. You can spoil FFX away as far as I'm concerned. On a scale of 1 to apathy, I score a 9 whenever FFX is mentioned. Nice coaster, though! But keep the spoilers for newer games (like KH2) to a bare minimum. I don't read anything about games I buy---be that previews, reviews, or message boards---until there's a completed game save on my memory card. Even a minor spoiler increases my rage by 30 over 10 seconds.


Matt

Patching is a hazy area of legality as well, and I highly doubt that Nintendo will allow such activities to take place. I have a sneaking suspicion, as I often do, that whatever this download-play turns out to be, it's going to be pretty straight-forward and one-sided, in that I bet it'll allow players to download-and-save only; no uploading or altering will be permitted in any legal means.

I'm not really saying it SHOULD be that way; there would certainly be benefits to having the ability to go in and mess with stuff. If it were possible, I would have done it to, say, Wild Arms: ACF, before it stopped working, if only to fix the rampant (and unforgiveable! <--hee hee, that's misspelled on purpose ^_^) spelling and grammar errors present throughout.

There's no way I'll ever put up spoilers about brand new games, anyway; trust in your Q&A host, for he is not completely without sense! Thanks, Kaz, for writing in, and happy Fathers' Day.



Your sister is on fire! Go, throw a vase at her!


Hello QnA host!

This is the first time that I've actually written in so I hope you have a comment on my upcoming question! First of all I've just purchased Kingdom Hearts 2 and it is better than I thought it would be! Which is saying alot seeing how I had high hopes for it. The first Kingdom Hearts game had a storyline that truly died down after the first hour and didn't get interesting until the last 8 hours of the game. The last 8 hours made the game really as ALOT of massive plot elements came up. However most of the game felt like it was a hack and slash game with hardly any real reason to be hacking and slashing. With that said I almost struggled to call it an RPG. It just didn't feel like much of an RPG until the very end. This is something I find most common about real time or "action" RPG's. They just never seem to have that RPG feel that most turn based games have for some reason. There are exceptions of course (Star Ocean series and Tales of Destiny 2 come to mind) but for the most part action RPG's never capture the RPG feel very well at all and wind up feeling like hack and slash games with nothing more than RPG elements thrown in for good measure. So am I the only one plagued with this feeling when I play action RPG's? Is the lack of an RPG feel in these games common to others perhaps as well?

Xlash

The term RPG has taken a life of its own over the years and honestly when asked the difference I have a hard time coming up with a definitive answer. When you say action or realtime RPG I automatically think Diablo and X-Men Legends. I have not played Star Ocean or Tales of Destiny 2, though I did play some of Tales of Phantasia.

I think the RPG genre is divided into sub-genres such as action, turn based, tactical or whatever as long as there are RPG elements in the game. Whether you like the sub-genre is up to you to decide.

With that said I'll say that Kingdom Hearts 2 has somehow succesfuly captured the RPG feel somehow inspite the first games lack thereof. Only being a few hours into the game I feel that the game has a much more darker and serious story (Wow, I never thought that I'd say a game featuring Donald and Goofy was serious). I'm sure it will have it's crazy and goofy parts that will make me regret saying that perhaps but I encourage you to pick it up if ya get the chance. And despite it being real time it is now one of the few, the proud, the exceptions. In my list anyway. My rant is over.

Xiro.


Xlash

KH was one of those series I heard about but was never on my 'must buy' list. Several years ago I had a roommate that purchased the game and being as I was the one with the PSX it stayed with me. To this day I have yet to advance past the Tarzan world. Not because it was too difficult or I was lost, it was that I just could not take anymore of it. Now I grew up watching Disney cartoons and used to be a fan, not to mention that I have been a fan of the Final Fantasy series from the start, but something about the game just rubs me the wrong way and I have not been able to pinpoint exactly what it is. The battle system didn't help keep my interest much either and while I may someday go back and try to continue on or even restart, it is very low on my priorities.

All that said, I am glad to hear that it is better, for the most part, than the first game. Maybe some day I will try out the sequel for myself but for now I will save my money.



Ah, a most melodic subject.


Cool boss music? Iíd say I wasnít enamored of the boss themes in FFIV, although the boss theme that plays vs. Atma Weapon and the 3 Statues in FFVI is really cool sounding. But if you really want cool, go for the final battles in Earthbound, especially (I think?) when you face off against Pokey and Giygas. The boss battle theme starts out in 8 bit style before heading into a heavy metal riff.

Matt

YES! What an exciting, exciting, exciting theme music; I can't believe I forgot to mention it!! The great part is that after you defeat Pokey and go into the FINAL battle, the music just goes into this nightmarish, frantic state that goes so unbelievably well with the battle. Bucket, you're a damn genius!! Ugh, I'm so excited now, I'm almost bursting to go and play Earthbound right now.

If you can get your hands on the original Kirbyís Dream Land, play through to the end and fight against King Dedede. That is the best boss music EVAR, even after tons and tons AND TONS of remixes.

Matt

Oh, see, I never got that far! I really loved the game; Kirby's Dreamland was a massive sidescroller that not enough people played, and it sported the same great, upbeat music that every Kirby game since has featured.

Speaking of Nintendo sidescrollers, I really must commend the work that was done for the boss theme in Super Princess Peach; it's absolutely wonderful, in my opinion. It would fit so perfectly if Peach ever had an RPG of her own, but it does the trick in that sidescroller, for sure. For those of you (probably most of you) who haven't heard it, it's a mixture of amusing and sinister, but then goes into an interesting and surprisingly dramatic fast-paced sort of sound that is nothing short of perfect for the bosses in that game. They make me very happy! ^^

As for the ever popular Sock, Iím going to say #159 is A because I have no idea, and #160 is E because you and everyone who reads Q&A KNOWS that I would answer E to it, and if I didnít, there would be something terribly wrong with me.

Bucket

P.S. The US shall kick Canadaís butt in curling at the World Championships, happening right near my hometown.


Matt

Oh ho ho!! I don't know about THAT! Funny you should mention it; curling is one of the only sports that I really enjoy watching on TV, despite how boring it might seem to the casual observer. You have to love a sport consisting entirely of throwing stones at a house!!

Thanks very much, Bucket!! Hopefully you'll be able to poke your head back up into the Top 25 sometime soon, after Xlash dealt you that devastating blow a few days ago.

*consoles*



Missed a Tiptail... but found a Xlash!


I missed the cute Tiptails. And forgot what I was gonna write about. Whoop.

.._.

Ah! There it is! Now I remember :D!!

*coughs*

Hallo Matt! :D

The other day, my Final Fantasy-fanatic-Physics-classmate and I got into a little blurb about videogaming again and he told me about how he'd maxed out everything in stats for FFX and how some classmate of his levelled up all 250 Pokemon to 99 in their Pokemon game..... My question is.... How and WHY?! ~_~ How do they do it? I looked at FFX's grid and just about died of uber daunt...ing...ness. And what exactly does maxing out all skills and stuff do? ~_~;

Xlash

I will generally replay games, especially the FFs, and try different things. When I read about what was involved with maxing stats in FFX I didn't think the payoff was really worth the effort. The game was really too easy IMO especially towards the end, and thats where you would usually benefit from max stats.

Why would you want to max your character stats anyway? Well, damaging spells/skills will do so little damage that really none of your characters need the Break HP Limit and you can laugh maniacally at all the big bad scary monsters.

Then, lurking around and reading random stuff at Gamespot and 1up led to a bittersweet little discovery; this site here. << Gah, FF6 64? Was this a sort of April's Fool thing or did they really make a pre view of an N64-ized FF6 way back when as a sort of teaser? I know it looks dated but still.... :( If they had gone ahead with it, my darling FF6 would be a happier game :(! (And Keffypoo will be a more known villain :O!)

Have you seen the opening video for Final Fantasy XII btw? :D And and... um... KH2 :D!!!!!!! Nyaaa! :D I wish I had the money to buy it -_-; At this rate, I won't be able to get it until... it... hits...Greatest...Hits... wheneverthatis. :o

Xlash

I have seen the page you linked to brought up before here in QnA coloumn before, I think. Back then was the first I had ever heard of it as I never really stayed up to date with game development over the years.

If I had been 'in the know' I would wonder why they would suddenly remake their last game in a new format instead of moving on to a new title. What I mean is it would be like coming out a with a 2d version of FFX only a few years after its release. I would have hoped for a new cast and storyline, as much as I loved that game. The reason why they used FFVI characters was because that game was still fresh in players minds and could be identified even with 3d bodies. Luckily they are now remaking or porting the game for those handy handheld devices and I look forward to playing it if I ever get around to becoming a portable gamer.

And my final question is... um... Lately I've been imagining how it would be like to make my uber favorite anime/cartoon at the moment (ufaatm yay!) a game~~ Have you ever fantasized like that? Like thought, "Oooh, this big-red-eyed-silver-haired-cute-boy would look so cute CGed, not cel-shaded! Ooooh, and we'd have him throw paper charm like Dante! And and... have clothes that flutter like that guy from Shinobi's scarf :D!" And hoped you had a rich friend who had all the money in the world to spare you a couple of million for its production? :d

.....Mmm. Random. I can't think. Physics kill.

~Ai-chan


Xlash

Since I am drawing a blank here and Chris is more knowing in the field of anime. I will refer to him.

Matt

Ahem... who said that you could co-host your co-hosting position off to some third party wannabe co-host who should only get to co-host if he gets enough points himself to buy a co-hosting position on his own? Ah, ahem, hey Chris! How's she goin'? ^_^

Ai-chan: No, I've never fantasized like that before, but you can bet your booties and my cooties that if I did see a character so cute, I'd be inclined to think in the same way as thee. Now, uh, Chris?

Chris

Mmmm... Bubblegum Crisis....

*eyes Chris warily*

Well thats better than anything I could think up! Thanks for the assist. Now say goodnight to all the nice people.


Chris

Oyasumi nasai.

I hope that meant goodnight.

Well that wraps it up for me too. Thanks for the letters and hopefully it won't be too too long before I get to return.






C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

If anyone here plays Mariokart DS, I'm now connected to Nintendo's Wi-Fi network!! If you want to play against me, my friend code is 463924 581003. I want yours too, because for now, I'm only able to play random, mean-spirited yokels online who disconnect when I get too far ahead. Poo on them!

Flashay!


One more set of questions to wrap up the week, but only before we take a look at those of yesterday!

#159 concerned Wakka's hairstyle, which certainly has a giant "hook" of sorts arching back in the front. c) Mesmerize is definitely the creature out of the bunch that looks the most similar; these Final Fantasy VIII creatures were like unicorns, except that the spiral horn was replaced by a hooklike appendage arching backwards. 190 points for all correct-guessers!

#160 was Cap's question about babycide in RPGs! As terrible as it sounds, d) Rose, from Legend of Dragoon, did the deed, for 180 points. Cap receives 360 points plus honourable mention for his contribution; thanks!

There actually aren't any new SOCK questions for today; my greatest apologies. You can't expect me to keep coming up with new stuff each and every day without at least a little bit of burnout, can you?


SOCK's Award List

*You may obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!*

500 points: Point Tripler (1 left) or Quick Spell (2 left)
1,000 points: Your choice of Fire Spell (2 left) or Drain Spell (2 left)
2,000 points: Your choice of Point Tripler (2 left) or Fire Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Warp Stone (1 left) or Wait Mode (1 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Quick Spell (2 left) or Drain Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Point Doubler (1 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)


Click Here For Item Descriptions!

SOCK's Prize Shop

*You may SPEND points here in order to obtain any of the following prizes- new ones may appear at any time*

1,000 points: Matt's Mom's Cookie Compilation- 6 fantastic recipes right out of Matt's mom's amazing kitchen! Yours, upon request. (5 left)

2,000 points: Intro Paragraph Cameo- If you feel like having a piece of Q&A all to yourself for a day, but you're not up for answering a bunch of questions, this option might be just for you! Say the word, and the Intro Paragraph is yours to do whatever you want with for a day. (5 left)

5,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #3- The goal of many a SOCK competitor is to rule the column alongside me for a day. Say the word, and it's yours, if you have the points to spend. (2 left)

20,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #4- It might sound like a lot, but it'll be here before you know it. Your next chance to reign over Q&A with yours truly. (5 left)

25,000 points: Full Host Opportunity #1- This is it. Write your own Q&A section, without having me interrupt, break in, or steal your sunshine. Be RPGamer's new idol for a day. (1 left)

30,000 points: Your choice of Megaman X4, X5, or X6 for the PSX. If you're into the Megaman series as much as I am, and you don't own any of these, I don't need them any more, now that I have purchased the collection. You can take your pick, and I'll send it to you in the mail with a handwritten note of congratulations from myself. They aren't RPGs, for sure, but I'm working on it for the future. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left)

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


Yep, that's all I have to say, so have a good weekend! I hope you've enjoyed the show; we've talked about a whole lot this week and I've gone through a lot of letters. By the way, there's a fairly large chance you won't get to see Tiptail this weekend, so we might have someone familiar take the helm instead. Don't worry, I won't let the person-in-question take me over completely. I would chew off my own toenails before that could happen!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt likes playing hide-and-go-seek.


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