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ASK MATT
Ziti April 11, 2006

Matt - 00:48 EST

YES, YES, YES, I have returned to do a hopefully better job on today's column. Obviously, I didn't take a close-enough look at last Friday's, because as many of you keenly observed, I didn't even update one of the SOCK questions from the file I over-wrote dating to last Wednesday. *sigh* My apologies, and to Dermot especially, whose question I had intended to use, and shall today, to finish up the contest's other half.

What else is new? Well, Wild Arms: ACF is indeed working here on my brother's PS2, which means only one thing: My own console must be slowly falling into the grips of despair. Unless I can figure out a way to stop its demise, this will be a very Nintendo-centric year, I dare say. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing anyway? I'm not sure, hence the question mark.

I'm glad to see that Ouro managed to squeeze in some Q&A of his own over the past few days! As usual, he did a splendid job, and as long as Tiptail can't make it in, he will continue to be your weekend leader.

As your weekday leader, though, it's time to get this Tuesday edition officially kick-ed off. So, here we go!




L E T T E R S
Observations of me and my favourite games


170) b

167) e . . . wait a tick, silly Matthew, you posted this question two days ago. And it was my question, not Dermont's. Hehe, sorry, you'll probably get a lot more of this. But know worries, I don't mind. In fact, now I don't feel so bad about my mix up with Sephiroth's voice actor months back. Really though, I'm sure It's because of your horrible dial-up situation. In fact, I have an off campus apartment with my wife which comes only with dial-up.

Matt

Yeah, isn't it brutal?? The worst part is, this has got to be the very last region in Ontario where high-speed service hasn't even been made available except through ridiculously overpriced satellite connections of some sort; I don't blame my parents for staying all 1995ish for the time being, but at the same time, it sure is infuriating!

Anyway, there's no excuse for my iniquities, because it would have taken me four extra minutes to change the question, and I had one ready to go. I was just feeling lazy, lazy, lazy, I guess, and then there's the whole being an admittedly imperfect human thing, too.

Anyway, I had stuff to say about the Tidus theory, but it was pretty much covered by all the other people that wrote in about him simply being a dream of the Fayth. No time travel took place from what I understand of the plot. However, there was a question about the fate of Nibelheim in FF7. I'm not sure if It has been said, but here's my take on it. Sephiroth did in fact burn down Nibelheim 5 years before the start of the game. Shinra then rebuilt the town as a CIA-esque coverup. Shinra didn't want to admit to the rest of the world that one of their own, Sephiroth the SOLDIER, went ballistic and burnt the town to the ground. Most of this I got from the anime that came with the japanese version of Advent Children called Last Job (at least I think that's what it's called). And no, I did not illegaly download it (with dial-up, are you kidding me), one of my wife's friends did and I saw it on her computer. It basically depicts in anime style what happened in the game, but filled in a couple of holes that weren't completely explained in the game. Hopefully it will be included in the American release.

Matt

Well, it's not exactly any huge secret that half of everyone who wants to see FF:AC has already seen it in some way, shape, or form. That's what happens when you announce something five years before it actually takes shape and all sorts of crazy hype is generated during the interim. Silly Square Enix.

Anyway, your theory certainly does make some sense to me, though you'd think that if that were the case, the cover-up wouldn't be a very good one; shouldn't Shinra have tried a little harder to dig into the details of everyone that used to live there in order to come up with a cast of more accurate replacement-townspeople (i.e. ones that at least pretend to know more about their little hamlet's past)?

There's something I've been meaning to ask you about for some time but always kept forgetting. First of all The localization of Dragon Quest VIII was really top notch, not to mention the voice acting in particular. Have you noticed that each region in the world of that came came with it's own accent? I noticed through playing the game that the Trodain/Farebury region had a noticable British accent. However, When I got to Ascantha, I noticed that the accent of the people there changed a little. It sounded a little more Irish or something. And obviously the Pickham region where Yangus is from had an Australian accent. And Both Argonia and Baccurat's citizens sounded more American. I'm I the only one that noticed this. Empychu had its own lanquage entirely as well. I thought it was really awsome that they did the voices this way. I always thought that it was wierd that in other games with voice acting, everyone throughout the entire game sounds excactly the same, at least in games that i've played anyway (FFX/X-2, Tales of Symphonia, etc.) Other companies should learn from this, I felt that exploring the world of Dragon Quest VIII was more exciting because of this. I felt more than in other games that I was truly going to new and exciting places.

Matt

Oh yes, I did notice! You're not the only one, though we may be the only two. I just had this conversation with my brother and sister a few weeks back when we first made that observation as well, and it's really quite an interesting detail that illustrates exactly how much work went into the localization. "Above" and "beyond" would be excellent adjectives to use here. Those very adjectives describe everything else about the translation, though, too; there are almost no errors throughout the game, but that's the tip of the iceberg. Instead of "Got 1 IronArmr!" upon opening a treasure chest, the text will read "Found a suit of iron armour!" They even ensured that when targeting a group of monsters in battle instead of a single foe, that the monster names are all pluralized properly. Who really cares? Well, it makes it very evident that the people responsible for this great effort sure did.

Oh, and you forgot the Russianesque accents of a certain area... those were my favourite of all!

On another note, I'd love to play MarioKart DS with you some time, course I don't have the game, but my young brother in law does. I entered your friend code into his game but you didn't seem to be on at the time. I'm going to try to get my own copy some time in the future with my brand new DS that I purchased for 35 bucks. You read right, BRAND NEW and only 35 dollars. My neighbor friend works at Nintendo of America in Redmond, WA and was able to pick on up for me. Awesome, eh? I always thought it was kinda cool that Nintendo is only 30 minutes away from my house. I live in Renton (Seattles neighbore) by the way. Yeah, the richest man in the world (Bill Gates) lives in my own hometown and his house is freakin huge. I saw it from a boat on the lake, he'd probably never let a guy like me on his property . . . I might break something.

Looking foward to co-hosting with you in the future,
KnightTrain


Matt

Well, I suppose that if I were worth billions, I'd probably want to live in a decently-sized pad of my own, too. It's really exciting that you're able to get ridiculously unfair deals from Nintendo through the back door, though! Maybe with Nintendo's prospective "lower-price initiative" for the Revolution, you'll be able to flick a toonie at their main office in order to walk off with a brand new console, or at least, one of those interesting-looking controllers. What's a toonie, you ask? Is it "twonie"? I've never quite figured that one out, believe it or not. Oh, and thanks for writing in, of course! :)



Looks like I misjudged.


[Y]ou suggested the other say that Barrett seemed to be the only black character in RPGs, but actually there's also a chap by the name of Gruga from Arc the Lad II. Here's what he looks like in the official character art: Voila! He's not actually quite as cliché in the game as he looks-- at least as far as I remember... Anyway there you have it. There are in fact twice as many black characters in RPGs as you thought!

Best,
Erika Wolfraven


Matt

Thanks for pointing him out, Erika! A strapping fellow he is, too. Of course, my not-knowing would be a direct result of me not playing the game at all, which I don't think is a very uncommon phenomenon. How many of us have actually touched Arc the Lad? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that they're often reviewed terribly, and given my choice of where to spend $50, I'd rather choose the game I'm less likely to despise. Oh well.

Anyway, that's good to know for future reference. Anyone have a third?



Another good point, perhaps


I haven't been keeping up with the column lately, stupid school and job, but I read yesterdays and would like to weigh in on a subject. When talking about 'Strong' female characters, and I'm using your definition as being physically strong, someone said they didn't think females in games should be as strong as males because that wasn't true. Well, maybe here on Earth, Men are bigger and stronger on average, but in whatever fictional world the writers of these RPG's are coming up with maybe that isn't the case. Maybe women are bigger, and males tend to be the white-mages. Heck, maybe men have babies, and women can breath underwater.

Matt

Aha! You're right! As a matter of fact, I just had a completely random and somewhat disturbing dream the other day in which I went to a bathroom in a restaurant. Don't ask me why, but while I was doing my thing, my sister walked up and started using the urinal three over from me! Trust me when I tell you that my subconscious is truly @$#%ed. Anyway, that would be a prime example of a fictional world where females work a little differently than they do in reality, hmm?

Of course, as Matt said, even in the real world there's the occasional 6'6" 250Lb chick that could probably kick my, and most guys, butts. I guess to reiterate my point even though the "Real World"(by real world I'm talking about reality, not the painfully popular show on MTV) might hold certain truths to be self evident, imaginary worlds are not bound by these laws.

Crono8581


Matt

Very well. I'll tell you something; those models in "Deal or No Deal" look like they could do a serious Kabuki Quantum Fighter-style hair-attack of death if they wanted to. That show is so terrible, yet so oddly addictive at the same time...

At any rate, you make good amounts of sense, young lad. RPGs don't take place in our world! Well, except for Shadow Hearts and Dragon Warrior III. What, you didn't realize that DWIII took place in our world?? Look at the world map, sillies.



The sky is falling! Er- the Skies are falling!


Mattrex,


Instead of my usual verbose nonsense, I have one quick question to ask: years ago, there were whisperings of another Skies of Arcadia game coming out. Have the dreams of many Skies fans, like myself, gone into freefall like a lead airship? Or have they already crashed and burned with the cancellation of the game's development?

-- Kaz (wants to build a lead airship)


Matt

I dunno if that lead airship is the best idea you've ever had, but I'll be darned if they didn't say that "we'd never have colour tee-vee", neither. Colour TV we have, and lead airships... well, we might have. One day. Just don't contract lead poisoning during the construction phase.

Anyway, Skies of Arcadia was a promising new game that lots of people hoped would turn into a full-blown series with the addition of a sequel. You're right, though, because while news exploded about its development back in 2003, all has been quiet since. It may have been put on the back burner for awhile, but I suspect that it might have fallen off the stove entirely for some reason. Given the relative success of the original, though, I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see another title by that name, eventually. Key word: "eventually".



More speculative speculation about speculated upcoming titles


Hey Matt,

What do you think the odds are of any type of announcement about Dragon Quest IX at this year's E3? I'm not thinking anything concrete, but even a vague announcement would be interesting. I'm trying to decide if it would be a good idea or not. They're coming off a successful run with VIII, and could build some buzz. However, Square Enix is going to be hyping the heck out of FFXII, and they've also got Dragon Quest Yangus on their plate. But, just a teaser might be in order, even with 2008 probably being the earliest we'll see it, if not 2009. Heck, there's been teasers for FFXII for several years.

Matt

The chances of a Dragon Quest IX announcement at E3 in a few weeks are, I'd imagine, quite low indeed. There are just too many other games they want to push, and I'm sure that Final Fantasy XII will be, by far, the centre of attention for them (as it was last year, was it not?), and rightfully so. Plus, with North American gamers that are still coming off the excitement of DQVIII, they'll want to spend more time talking about their little random-dungeons spinoff when it comes to promoting Dragon Quest, at least for now. That said, I wouldn't at all be surprised if we saw an announcement of this sort next time the Tokyo Game Show rolls around come September; I think it's September, anyway. Not only is Dragon Quest incredibly popular there (I believe Square Enix sold about 8x as many copies of DQVIII in Japan than they did in North America), but DQVIII was released in 2004 for Japanese RPGamers. They're probably getting a bit hungry for some news of a sequel by this point!

That said, what direction do you think the series is going to go next? I've only got VIII to my credit, and I'm curious if you think that the series can withstand the onslaught of insane graphics. VIII was beautiful, and there's a built in Japanese audience that will buy it even if they go back to sprites, but it's got to be in the back of some people's minds. Do you think there will be an upgraded battle system? I love the old school feel, and this was very well polished (if extremely erratic in agility and attack order), but there's a part of me that would like to at least pick my characters individually, rather than the whole group at a time. I'm just curious, a lot of people have thrown in their ideas from time to time, but I'm not sure there's been a flat out "expectations" discussion. Or, my short term memory has gone to heck.

Matt

Now now; I actually really like the fact that you're never completely certain who is going to go first. In a real battle, a person's agility would never determine absolutely whether they'd get in the first attack or not, right? Dragon Quest's system is one based on probability and statistics, and as RPGamer's resident mathematician, I appreciate that. There is a general likelihood of what order attacks will proceed in, but the slight uncertainty makes things a little more interesting and less mechanical-feeling for a turn-based system.

In the past, you'd be interested to know that there always WAS a party-select system from Dragon Warrior III through VI; a wagon first appeared in DWIV for the NES, where up to ten allies could fit at a time; you could change them in the heat of combat or outside of battle, and you could even stuff everyone inside in order to fight as a lone character, if you felt like doing that. I'd really like to see a return to that slightly more-complex system. Certainly, it's nice to see at least a bit of variation from game to game, and of course, it's possible to preserve the old-school feel at the very same time.

For that matter, from the numbering discussion a couple weeks ago, will it even be Dragon Quest IX? Dropping the numbers and going with subtitles would be another way to differentiate the series from Final Fantasy. Who knows...

BigWook


Matt

I think that the next sequel will be numbered, sure, though it might be slightly more likely in Japan, where the series is more established. The same thing happened with Breath of Fire; Dragon Quarter was released in Japan under the name "Breath of Fire V", I believe. I don't really know why they made that change; perhaps they thought that unfamiliar North American gamers would think that the title would be pronounced "Breath of Firev" and then say "Wow, what a stupid-sounding game!". Then again, perhaps not.

No matter what, as a wise man once said, a rose by any other name smells as sweet, and thus the title of the game should be the least of your worries.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Yup, that about does it for letters. Keep 'em coming, because I like my Q&A columns just like I like my cherry tomatoes: supple!

Flashay!


I'll tell you the solution to #170 next week next Tuesday; tonight, I'm just going to give you Dermot's question that I had intended to insert into last Thursday's Q&A. And NO, you're not getting the points TWICE for the same stupid #167. Nice try, though!

Lost Question #171:
Ask Dermot!-->Oh my hero, so far away now. Will I ever see your smile? (175 points)

a) I'm the darkness, you're the stars
b) Must I forget you? Our solemn promise?
c) What shall I do? I'm lost without you.
d) Love goes away, like night into day
e) For eternity, for me can there be


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


That does it for today. For tomorrow, what titles do you secretly hope will be unveiled at this year's E3, or any other shows this year, however unlikely your dreams might be? As long as you don't respond with "Young Merlin 2", I'd love to see what you're looking forward to! We'll take a look, tomorrow in Q&A.


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt: The name you've known and trusted since 2005. Er...


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