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ASK MATT
Dragon Fire June 15, 2006

Matt Demers - 19:02 EST

THESE WEEKS SEEM SO BUSY lately, and I'm still only one poor man. No, that's right, I haven't yet split into two identical versions of me, though I'd love it if I had that ability. Being cell-like or starfish-like would be sweet, sweet, sweet. Just think of how much better the world would be with hundreds more of me running around! I can't even imagine what such a utopia would be like, though my first initiative would be to besiege all working chocolate factories and gather me up some nice-looking personal guardsmen-servants.

Happy Wednesday, everyone. And welcome to RPGamer's Q&A section.




L E T T E R S
Grand Theft Auto... THAR is 1 4 da winnerz.


Matty! There aren't a lot of games that I really hate, but when it seems like everyone in the world loves a certain game, the pressure to absolutely love it usually gets me to lean toward disliking the game. For example, a friend of mine is a huge Zelda fan, and loooves A Link to the Past. To see what she was talking about, I bought and played the gameboy advance version, and was underwhelmed. It's not really a bad game, but I felt like I had to love it as much as my friend does, and that took away from my enjoyment. The internet people are also partly responsible for said pressure. I mean, if you search for a review about a game in a really popular seires like Final Fantasy or Zelda or Grand Theft Auto or something, you'll get at least ten "BEST GAME EVER" reviews for every "Meh" review. I know everyone has his/her own taste in games, but reviews and hype influence me enough that if I play a widely-beloved game, I often prepare myself to be disappointed, and it takes away some of the fun. Does that sort of thing happen to you?

(hugs!) Until next time, <3!

Aurelius


Matt

As a matter of fact, yes! It did for me, and with the exact same game as you. I know I've recounted the story of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past many times for everyone, but it didn't really appeal to me until I finally gave into the peer pressure of the constant heavy praise emanating from the pages of Nintendo Power. Even after I got through my weird Saved Game woes and actually started my own quest, I was really unimpressed and thus even more disappointed. Interestingly enough, though, the game really grew on me over the years, and now I'm a big fan.

The same thing goes for a few others, too. Super Metroid was a big one that for whatever reason I arbitrarily labeled as "stupid" when it was first released, despite its somewhat massive popularity. I've since gone back to it and highly enjoyed it. Also, I'll never play a Tony Hawk game; I really can't stand how popular they are. I think I've come to the (illogical) conclusion that it's an idiotic series for losers, though I really have no reason at all to believe that. I'd say the same thing goes for any Grand Theft Auto game, though I have played those, and it makes me want to own them even less. My subconscious mind doesn't want me to be associated in any way with the masses who place GTA games above all others. And those masses... they're well populated.

I guess that brings me to the end of your letter. Have a nice day, Aurelius~ <3



Reviews from afar, in advance?


Konnichiwa, Matto-san

Y'know, I try to write in regularly, truly I do, but it seems like I always run into one, big obstacle barring me from writing on the games I currently have questions on, the games that are on everyone's wish-list for the upcoming six months...

I already own most of them.

This isn't bragging, it's just a side effect of living over in Japan for too long. I seem to accumulate some great games that I just can't chat about in normal channels like the Q&A, because I'm really afraid of spoiling it for others. But I still want to talk. Stupid moral dilemmas....

Well, was looking through the impressions from E3, and I noticed that, for the DS and PS2 games at least, I've played most of them at least a little. So, the question is, can we the proles of the RPGamer world submit our own Impressions-slash-reviews of games that have yet to be released transoceanically?

Your man in Japan
Gaijin Monogatari


Matt

You certainly have a much-sought-after advantage! Being in Japan allows you not only to play many games in advance, but it allows you to play many games that we might not even see here in the end. Do you have any idea how much I'd give to have the ability to play Dragon Quest V or VI? Or the IV or V remakes?

At this time, RPGamer is a site that focuses on North American gaming, and Impressions, our "advance" reviews, sorta, are generally reserved for English-language versions of games and are written by staffers. Try applying next time Uncle Cid asks for help, and you might be able to get your foot in the door!

You know, though, until then, Q&A might be the best way to communicate some of the things you're excited about. There's no reason that you can't give spoiler-free impressions about gameplay or whatever about current Japanese games. I'd be happy to post them and I'm sure Q&A readers would enjoy reading what you have to say, too. I, for one, have been dying to know what "the truth" is behind Final Fantasy XII. Have you managed to play it? If so, is it really that much better than the demos have led me to believe?

Thanks, Gaijin! I hope you write back with some of your thoughts, soon. I know what it's like to want so badly to talk about games, even if doing so would be a big taboo.



Overrated and underwhelming.


Hey Matt,

Yeah, for those games many people really aren't "that" interested or don't like at all.

Tactics Ogre Let Us Cling Together is my favorite game of all time, which is one game that when I'm not playing I atleast think about multiple class customizations, all different types of equipment, the storyline. I literally think about everything in that game.

Matt

Ah yes. One of those key serieseses that I haven't really plunged into all that much, but not for the reason that I'm not interested. Is it really a game that most people don't like, though? I haven't heard that much in the way of negative sentiment towards any Ogre Battle games, really. One day, I'll get to play...

Breath of Fire 3 is another game I love, as the battle system is much more fun to play than most games. Sure it may not be my favorite game, but this is a game that I love so much. A few hours after you lose two of the characters you start with(not giving any names due to spoilers) it's a little bit boring, but once you get past one part and join up with the rest of your teammates(except one,) the game gets alot better and it stays that way until the end of the game, especially the second half of the game, right where you get your "last(in a way he's not your last although he is") character(and all the rest back.) So you really should play it longer.

Matt

It does sound like a delightfully character-shuffly experience for all, doesn't it? I don't know why, but I just found the introduction incredibly uninvolving for some reason. The poor CD is sitting behind me on my rack collecting dust, where it has sat since I moved here. I'd really like to play more someday, but it's just not going to happen anytime soon.

Castlevania isn't an RPG series, it's an action adventure series. I would never label Symphony of the Night, Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, Aria and Dawn of Sorrow as well as Curse of Darkness as RPG's either, because they're not. Just because you level up doesn't mean it's an RPG. Anyways, Castlevania is my favorite series, as I have yet to see an action adventure game that has gameplay anywhere near as fun as most in this series.

--


Matt

I have to admit, it sounds like Castlevania has still changed a whole lot over the years, because last time I played, I had a little life meter, and some special weapons, but that was about it. No levels, no HP, no nothin'. Of course, it was still wonderful!

Games that I hate yet tons of people seem to love.

Final Fantasy 10 has a gameplay which features nothing but changing characters and attacking. Every ability except magic spells(only early on) Armor Break(maybe 4 or 5 enemies the entire game) and Quick Hit are useless. The storyline was extremely boring and you just wanted it to all get over with, atleast after the first 3 hours, because the storyline up until then really wasn't that bad, but it just dropped as soon as you left Luna and it never got back up.

Matt

Well, I'd have to agree with your stance that the storyline is boring, though it's not ALL bad. It has its exciting moments and startling twists. My gripe is almost entirely with the battle system, with a twist of "most-boring-world-map-ever!" on the side. Almost NO ability is needed at all, because *gasp*! All we need is for little Yunie-poo to give a twist of her staff and giant summons will appear to (quite ridiculously easily) save the day for ZERO PENALTY at all to the player! It seems like such a cheap trick, it makes the FFXII demos look like serious business, I'm telling you. Of course, the battle system went a LITTLE deeper than that. But not by much!

Final Fantasy 4 Advance. You may ask why, and I shall tell. The game is the most flawed version of every rerelease. The ATB system that was added in was extremely flawed, multiple bugs allowing characters to go two and even three times in a row, not to mention all the other inconsistencies FF4 had to begin with. The main problem in the game was that after you got three characters and fought more than one enemy at a time, the battle system had extreme lag, and this is really rare. It's like Squaresoft didn't care. I've seen plenty of games with so much more detail and tons of things happening at one time that didn't even start to get laggy(Mobile Suit Gundam Encounters in Space --- I'd recommend it to anyone, as it's one of the great action adventure games I've ever played.) The other two flaws to end this, is how you won't really see any enemies attack early on in the game, so you can breeze through the beggining without even taking much damage, but the second is far more important. Boomerangs. Arrows in the back row work and take the same damage from the back as they do in the front, but the FF4Advance version doesn't make where boomerangs do the same. Say you take 1500 in the front with two boomerangs on Edge, and then move to the back row with him? It'll only take 750. This means that once you get the two most powerful boomerangs(in the secret dungeon shop at the end) instead of taking 4000 in the back just like you do in the front, you'll take 2000, and destroys Edges chances of taking off alot of damage and keeping that double defense that you get in the back row, as he now becomes a second rate character, Cid taking his place with the better attack, defense, and HP.

Matt

Those issues are really worrisome. My brother also noted some of those things, but not the points regarding Edge's boomerang. Chris thought that the battle glitches were annoying, but that overall, the remake was a good one. Would you definitely say that the improvements to the translation and graphics were worth the costs in the battle system? I wonder why they arose... I'm surprised that they'd tamper with the code dictating how battles unfold, to be honest.

Final Fantasy 4. While FF4 Advance is way worst, the rest really aren't that well either. The game, in my opinion, has one of the most overrated storylines in existance. The storyline isn't bad, it's actually got its good parts and its bad parts, but the story doesn't even start to get good until you're already halfway through the game. That's only the storyline though, as the rest of the game is, of course, gameplay. The gameplay of FF4 is purely inconsistent, damages loosely based off a hit rate, where one attack may damage you 1HP, and then the next damage around 3000-4000 from the same enemy, hitting the same character. Same with regular attacks. Not only that, but the rate of attacking is inconsistent as well. You may actually cast a spell such as Bahamut, and then have it go off as soon as you cast it sometimes, other times however, you may go through as many as 10 seperate character turns before the spell is cast, sometimes casting it early and then finishing the battle because of the pathetic inconsistency.

Matt

To be fair, I think that all of the NES Final Fantasies used a similar attack damage calculation method, so you can't really attack IV without attacking the previous three as well.

I think that the storyline was kind of cool, and remarkably coherent for a Final Fantasy game, though I guess that it was perhaps not as deep as many others in the series. However, I dunno- I thought that the characters were better-than-average, the music was enjoyable, and the nostalgia is just insurmountable. Yeah, isn't that just like me to throw some bias into the mix?

Kingdom Hearts. I don't mind the disney original storyline, as I wouldn't mind watching all them, just as long as I didn't have to go through the pathetic Squaresoft original "POWER OF THE KEYBLADE" story, and the extremely repetitive do the same 3-5 hit attack over and over again for the entire game. All you do is lock on and attack like there is no tomorrow. When I have played the game, I never died once during the normal parts of the game, and even took down the almighty Sephiroth(who isn't so almighty,) at level 77. Sephiroth did kill me, but only once, which then I learned what to do against him and beat him my second time. I could possibly beat him at a lower level, but after playing the game and beating Sephiroth, I couldn't play anymore the game was just that much of a let down.

Matt

^_^

People are going to be writing in like there's nooooo tomorrow, now! What an excellent ploy this is... mwahaha.

Disgaea is a game I actually liked at first, but as I played it more and more, I noticed how there really was no strategy to it, even though it was a tile based RPG(tactical RPG.) Sure you have to use some sort of strategy, but the only strategy you need is really common knowledge, so I don't count that. The game itself is nothing but intense level grinding, extremely if you're doing some of the difficult sidequests.

Matt

Ahh... yeah, that's not entirely untrue. At least there is a lot of comedy to get you through the worst of it all, and the extra nice touches- customability, reincarnation, and Dark Assembly- help to make the game deeper, I think, than just a straightforward level-grinder, though. I DO see your point, however, and I think that the AI in the game could use a swift smack across the head.

La Pucelle which is the same as Disgaea(actually the other way around as Disgaea is the same as La Pucelle,) features really no strategy, just a boring go through every stage gameplay. They have one sortof strategy type option in every stage, but it's really just there unless you want to take the time to go for it.

Matt

La Pucelle, Disgaea's gangly older sister. I wanted to play it at one point, but then I realized that with 2342 games that I "wanted" to play, I'd have to do some pickin' and choosin'. So pick and choose I did. Now, Disgaea 2 is on the way, so that will almost certainly be my next NIS game.

Then there are games that are good, but really overrated.

Final Fantasy 7 is overrated, but this is only because it's the first RPG most people have played, or the first Final Fantasy most people have played. The game itself really isn't a bad game, as it's actually pretty good, but the storyline is way overrated to where it doesn't deserve it, and there are certain flaws within the game because characters being the exact same other than limit breaks. It actually has quite alot that is doing good for the game, like the amazing mini games, and the gameplay itself really isn't bad even though the characters are duplicates and it is a little easy.

Matt

A whole lot of people have been writing in lately about how "bad" the storyline of Final Fantasy VII is. Do you really, truly believe that? I was kinda swept away by the story, myself, even if it is a little convoluted and takes about ninety-nine playthroughs to completely understand.

I agree, though, that the gameplay is solid or better, and the Materia system is the best that the series has had to offer, as far as I'm concerned. Thinking about the game makes me want to go back to it, because it has now been... probably a good five or six years since I've played it from start to finish!

Symphony of the Night is another one. Now I love this game, and it's really not that much overrated. But when it comes to basing this game off other CV games, people really overrate this one because it's the same thing as FF7, usually the first CV they've played, or the first they've played with the level system and the fact that you can change to multiple weapons and return to wherever you want in the castle. The other fact is that even if another CV game is better, these people just say "nothing will be as good as SotN" and because of this, they'll keep believing this game is the best in the series. It's an amazing game though, and I'd recommend it to all who haven't played it.

-andrew- -kupomogli-


Matt

More Castlevania, huh? I've always wanted to try Symphony of the Night, just to see what all of the fuss was about.

Thanks for your input, kupomogli. I'm sure that people will have lots to say about your thoughts and feelings!



Another vote against MMOs!


Hiya Matt/Ouro,

I have to say, my last letter mey have been a bit...errmmmpphh. If that is the correct pronunciation, of course. Anyway, I was on GamesRadar today, and I saw the news that Sony's gonna have to reduce its much vaunted Cell processor to get it to fit in the case without blowing up. Apparently now its gonna have around the same processing speed as an Xbox 360. That kinda makes it all the more sucky cos of the price. Now Sony can't really boast about there PS3 rulnig the world from your living room, cos its not that much greater than a X360. Haahahahhahaa Sony!

Matt

Really?? I haven't heard anything, and a quick check of Gamesradar yielded nothing for me, though it's possible that I've missed something along the way. I'd just find it very surprising to have Sony peel back the specs even more at this point in the game, especially with so many games so far (presumably) into development already. Maybe this is that plot that I mentioned a month or so ago... with a reduction in power, a "surprise" price drop could make all sorts of people dance with glee!

Of course, I support Nintendo all the way. I still have my first SNES...(I wasn't old enough to warrant getting a NES). I might end up getting a PS3 when it drops it's price, just because of Sony's considerable third party support, but the Wii sounds so much cooler. (Not the name, the whole package thingy).

I just realised i'm repeating a topic that has already been overdone. So this is for all people who read this letter: DO NOT SEND IN A LETTER CONCERNING THE PS3 VS THE WII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Matt

Wow, you make me feel old. I didn't get my NES for Christmas that long ago, did I? Fifteen years?? NO way...

To tell you the truth, there has been a little bit of a lull in the PS3/Wii discussion lately, probably because everyone got sick of that debate two weeks after E3. You can talk about it now if you want to, though, I suppose.

I am really happy (look, kirby: (>^-^)> ) about the success of the DS. I got one as soon as it came out, and haven't had a single regret. Actually there was the one about now me not being able to get a DS Lite, but thats not a proper one. I've just ordered Metroid: Hunters, and can't wait for Zelda and the New Super Mario Bros. (Not out in UK yet), amongst others.

Matt

I'm actually starting to crave the next Pokémon game, which is really bad, because I told myself after playing Ruby that I would never buy another one again. There's just nothing I can DO about it, though! I'm starting to lust for Diamond or Pearl upon their release... uh, whenever they end up being released. Between that, Yoshi's Island 2, Starfox DS, Contact, the GBA Final Fantasy V + VI, Dragon Quest Heroes, Zelda, Final Fantasy III, Children of Mana, and more, there is an altogether incredible number of good reasons to be a DS fan right now, especially if you're an RPGamer, which you probably are, seeing as you're reading this column at a site with the name "RPGamer".

The PSP isn't bad, either, with Blade Dancer out in the not-so-distant future if not already, and Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth on the way soon as well.

And yet, I'm strangely bored. I can't bring myself to touch my PS2, where I have Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King, Star Ocean 3, Dark Chronicle and quite a few PS1 RPGs like Vagrant Story waiting for me, nor can I summon the will to play anything on my Gamecube, like Wind Waker, Lost Kingdoms 1+2, Paper Mario 2, or Tales of Symphonia. What the hell is wrong with me? I feel like I'm never going to play a console again. I'm stuck with my DS and my bro's PSP. Whoever's answering this letter, please help me. I want to play an RPG again.......

-Genjuu


Matt

There are all sorts of inspiring reasons to have a console as an RPGamer right now, especially if you're a PS2 owner. Before the end of the year, we're going to have Final Fantasy XII, which is obviously going to be huge, as well as Rogue Galaxy, Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria (not "Slimeria", you stupid G4 numbskulls), Tales of the Abyss, Disgaea II, and Xenosaga: Episode III. And more, probably, that I haven't thought of. Oh yeah, that .hack game is another... Persona 3 is another... Wow! There are so many things to look forward to if you're not feeling any interest right now.

The Gamecube isn't quite as bright. In fact, it's not really bright at all; there's allegedly a Baten Kaitos sequel on the way, as well as the pseudo-RPG "Super Paper Mario", which looks fun but not REALLY RPGish. Even so, there are still things on the way. And both the Wii and PS3 look very RPG-friendly at this point. Don't give up hope! And even if you don't feel the pull towards consoles, there are enough RPGs on the way for the DS and PSP in the next year to keep you incredibly busy anyway.

Thanks, Genjuu!



Revisiting a couple of issues with our friend Oliver!


Greetings, Matt; I am here to talk about a few things. I believe I shall go from the largest topic to the smallest.

My first topic: What is more important to an RPG? Gameplay or plot?
You have said before that you place gameplay over storyline in RPGs. Not to be rude, but I find this rather difficult to understand, and I wonder if you really mean it. Now please, allow me to explain.

The story, the moments, and the characters of an RPG are what makes certain RPG's hold special places in the heart of gamers. They are also what makes RPG's so engaging, to the point where you can play for hours on end because, like a good book, you simply must see what happens next. For example, why do people still talk about Final Fantasy VI? Even after all these years, they still have such fond memories of the time they spent with Locke, Edgar, Sabin, Terra, and Shadow. They remember scenes such as the opera, the esper massacre in Thamasa, and the floating continent. They remember how much they loved to hate Kefka, and how satisfying it was to defeat him in the game's climactic final battle. Final Fantasy VI is only one example. People hold the same kind of memories for all RPG's.

RPG's exist to tell a story. Character development and plot exposition is far more important to an RPG than it is to, say, a first-person shooter. Some RPG's are more story-driven than others, (compare Final Fantasy VI to Xenosaga Episode 1, for example.) And yet as a general principle, all RPG's contain far more dialogue and plot development than games of other genres. That in itself should make it apparent that the main purpose of RPG's is, quite simply, to tell a good story, whereas other genres are more focused on the gameplay experience.

Games like Halo, Prince of Persia, Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda, and many other non-RPG games are superb, memorable games because they are so well-made in terms of gameplay. They all contain plots as well, and in the case of a few, very memorable plots. However it is safe to say that the plot is not the focus in a game such as Ocarina of Time. A game such as that is driven by its gameplay while the story is merely there to create the premise. RPG's function in the exact opposite way.

Of course, this is not to say that an RPG can't be fun to play, because a well-made RPG can be fun. But in comparison to other genres, the gameplay in an RPG is often quite minimal and, in many cases, unexceptional. The reason is simple: The gameplay does not necesarily need to be spectacular in order for the game to be engaging, because the storyline is the main focus of the game in the first place.

Final Fantasy VI was certainly fun to play, but what if all the dialogue and plot exposition had been stripped away, and you were left with only the gameplay itself. Woud it be nearly as fun, engaging, and long-remembered as it is now? I personally don't think so. Crawling through dungeon after dungeon and getting into countless random battles without any reason whatsoever for doing it would not be fun at all. Why exactly did we continue to crawl through the cave to the gate of the esper world? (Man, am I the only one who got frustrated in that place the first time through?) Because we all wanted to see what was going to happen. We all wanted the story to advance.

That's all I have to say, I suppose. In short, I think that if we carefully examine our motives, we'll find that we all play RPG's for their characters and their storylines, and we all have great RPG memories that come from the characters and storylines. Sure we can appreciate the gameplay, but it just isn't what we remember in the end. Or at least, it isn't what I remember.

Matt

Thanks for the rather passionate analysis. I can definitely see that you've thought about this long and hard, and you do have a lot of great points, for sure.

I think that while character and plot development are much more important to RPGs than they are to other genres, that doesn't make them more important than actual gameplay. A good, solid, storyline is indeed incredibly important to RPGs, but for me, the gameplay remains more important. You're right; we look back upon Final Fantasy VI so fondly because of the great moments of the game, but what made the game fun and involving in the first place for me was the quick battle system, the interesting magic system, and the ability to search for new relics and new magicite the world over. In Final Fantasy VII, I loved the plot, but the intricacies of the Materia system were just mesmerizing and made me want more. Heck, I wasn't a huge fan of Final Fantasy X's story, but I STILL thought the game was pretty great, thanks to an interesting, different (albeit "cheap") battle system and crazily-cool Sphere Grid. To me, that's just the super-exciting part of any RPG, and while I might remember fondly upon moments in the plotline, I also remember what got me so into the game in the first place- the very mechanics of the game.

What makes me so sure of this is the fact that when I think of my mental list of all-time favourite RPGs, all of them are very involving, gameplaywise, to me. Their battle systems are all strong and challenging in some way or another, and that's what makes them good, fun games.

There's no question, though, that RPGs do need decent storylines to feel complete, and you're bang-on when you say that Final Fantasy VI wouldn't be nearly the same without its storyline. I just think that engaging gameplay is necessary in order to them to feel complete "even more", if that makes any sense. Why? Because once you whittle that away enough, you might as well be watching a movie, just going through the motions of pressing buttons every now and then to move on. That's not a "game" to me.

In the end, I guess it's just a difference between people's priorities. Not everyone plays games for the same reasons, and I respect you for your honest opinions, for sure.

Okay, my next topic is FFX. There's been a little bit of discussion going on lately, especially concerning the, ah, scene in the spring. I always thought that the scene should have never ocurred. I liked the whole discussion Tidus and Yuna had, (him asking her to come to Zanarkand, her saying she can't, et cet,) but then the whole romance scene kinda blew it all to hell. Throughout the entire game we had been aware of their increasing feelings for eachother, and I didn't like how they had to throw it all in our faces in one big, fat, sappy romance scene. The end of the game would have been so much more effective without it; when Yuna finally said "I love you" to Tidus, it might have actually meant something. As it is, it was a little superfluous. Gee, you love him? I believe I already got that impression a while back....ah, well; this is basically me wishing I could write for Square Enix. Suteki Da Ne was a good song, at least.

Oh, BTW, I thought it was funny when you mentioned that your dad came in right when you got to that scene, because the exact same thing happened to me. I can still remember how aptly he phrased his words:

"What is this wierd stuff?"

Oyvey.

Matt

Yeah, that was definitely an awkward time. I guess there's nothing really wrong with the fact that they fell in love, having thought about it; it's just a little bit too obvious of a pairing from the beginning. I think that rather than having five minutes of FMVs showing them spinning through the water, a much more effective scene would have showed Yuna resting her head on Tidus' shoulder as the camera catches it from behind while fading out, and having her whisper "I love you" after the screen fades to black or something. Of course, I'm not a film student, so, well, maybe it's a bad idea. In any case, it's a pointless thing to pooh-pooh about now, isn't it?

That aside, I really love FFX. It's my second favorite in the series. Back to the discussion about gameplay in RPG's, FFX was, to me, the most fun in the series to play. I think the CTB system is the best in the series, and the boss battles were just plain fun. (Not to mention the fact that many were quite challenging.) Magic spells were actually worth a damn in FFX, and were quite often vital to success in tough battles. The Sphere Grid is one of my favorite forms of skill advancement in the series, the game was loaded with secret stuff. The story is my second favorite in the series next to VII, and the soundtrack is my favorite in the series, hands down. The reason I mention all this is because I hear that it isn't exactly your favorite...out of curiosity, could you give a few reasons why?

Matt

Battles were fun, and the new battle system seemed to be really cool, except for one small thing: Yuna is too damn powerful, and it bugs me now, it bugged me when I played it the first time, and it'll bug me until the end of time. There should have been some MP cost attached to her summons, because it was frankly unbelievable how cheap they were. The fact that two Bahamut Overdrives could easily wipe out the boss of the game on my quest just appalled me. I don't know... maybe I shouldn't be such a stickler about it, but I hate it when games contain potential excess cheapness.

The Sphere Grid, however, was fantastic, and is my second favourite skill system of the whole Final Fantasy series; FFVII's Materia is definitely my favourite of the bunch. The secret stuff was "all right" for me, but nothing special; the soundtrack was fantastic, and probably my favourite of the series. The storyline... not necessarily my favourite. It was quite bland for a Final Fantasy game, especially because it lacked a really solid, detestable villain. I think I mentioned this last week a few times, but I never found myself able to take Seymour too seriously; it would have been better if he had been more evil in the end, somehow or another. Also, it would have been cool to have a little bit more in the way of character-shuffling. Maybe it's a weird gripe, but I like it when you get characters here and there, and lose them elsewhere, etc. In X, you had the bulk of your party from the very beginning, and they never went anywhere. I dunno. It is an odd thing to complain about, but I have to be honest.

In the end, Final Fantasy X is a fantastic game, but all of the FF games that I've played have been fantastic, and I've only missed XI, because I refuse to do the online-thing. The thing is, there have to be SOME fantastics that are better than other fantastics, and because of those few irritations I outlined, Final Fantasy X isn't one of my favourite fantastics. Personally, I prefer FFIV-IX.

Hopefully, I was able to explain myself adequately!

My next question is a short one. What is your opinion on songs with lyrics in RPG's? I usually don't mind. I love songs such as FF8's Eyes on me, and FFX's Suteki Da Ne. FFX-2 became a little obnoxious, I thought. (Plus I just didn't really like the majority of the music in that game.)

Matt

Hmm. I don't really mind, necessarily, unless a song seems to be inserted too artificially into the mix, just to get some singer exposed. I don't really think that songs with lyrics take much away from a game, even if they're done poorly, but they can be effective at conveying a particularly intense emotion at certain points of a game, sure.

Oh yeah, one more thing: I finally bought into this whole DS craziness by picking up a DS lite last Sunday, and right now I'm going through some major nostalgia as I play through Super Mario 64 DS. (I also bought Mario Kart DS, but I've yet to give that a try.) Let me tell you, man...this thing gives the PSP a run for its money in terms of sexiness. It really is much smaller, more portable, and more attractive. Plus the screen brightness is much improved, and you'd be surprised at how much difference this can make in a game. Seriously, even if you do own the original DS, you might want to consider an upgrade.

Thanks for taking the time to answer all of this.

Oliver. (But my friends call me Ollie!)


Matt

Damn! I want one badly, but I shouldn't even be thinking about it. I already HAVE a damn DS; why should I have such a strong desire for another?

*whimper*

Anyway, Oliver, thank YOU for taking so much time to put together such a well-thought-out letter! I very much enjoyed thinking about my own opinions on the topics you brought up, and I hope you'll write in again soon.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Damn. I watched a single hockey game in the Stanley Cup Finals last night, between Edmonton and Carolina, and now I'm hooked. Sure, the series is a hair's breadth away from being over with, but wow. Very exciting and addictive! I kinda wish I had started watching sooner in the season.

Flashay!


***Answers to June 14th's Questions***

#226. c) Raine - 325 points/650 for Alan Tse (Think "Raini" from Super Mario RPG. Thanks for the submission!)

#227. d) The number of little people, the number of pigs, and the number of frogs are all divisible by 2 - 320 points (There are 4 frogs, 4 pigs, and 6 little people! The game is Final Fantasy IV, of course.)

Bonus: a) Jimmy's Folks - 1 Star (Jimmy says this in Warioware: Twisted! It comes up on the screen when you select "Jimmy's Folks", anyway. Pretty wicked question... I'm not sure if ANYONE got it. You'll have to find out, below!)


***Today's New Questions***

Reader-Submitted #228: In Dragon Quest VIII, what is the probability of getting the x400 multiplier in a single game of Bingo (assuming that the balls picked by the healslime are completely random)? (325 points)

a) 2/5313
b) 1/21252
c) 1/63756
d) 2/6325
e) 1/607725


#229: In my answer to the question "Why?", once upon a time, which of the following animals did I not explicitly list? (360 points)

a) Babirusa
b) Damselfly
c) King Crab
d) Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
e) Xyphias

Side contest scores: (look for the hidden link in every column to compete for Ouro's 2,094 points!)

6-Star People
Dermot
Macstorm

5-Star People
BigWook
Erika
JokingChimer
Gilgamesh

4-Star People
Aurelius
DMJewelle
MagRowan
LufiaLvr

3-Star People
Xlash

2-Star People
Cap
Knighttrain
Leaper

1-Star People
Bainick
Gaijin
Belthasar2
Arros Raikou
BenOblong


Yes, only two of you got the right answer that time! The quest continues, though, until only one person is in the lead. Keep trying, even if you don't have 6 stars... you might have a fighting chance!

Also, a terrible announcement to make today... Alexander, through use of a Warp Stone, has managed to do the impossible, leaping about 15,000 points to claim second position at the expense of poor, poor Dermot, who now sits in 35th position after such a huge build-up. I'm so sorry, Dermot, but that's the game! And, nevertheless, congratulations, Alexander, on your lucky break!

--------------------------
STRAGGLERS: (people who need to check their e-mail because they have unclaimed items- if you fall off the list, it's TOO LATE FOR YOU! Check your spam/trash folders for my messages if you're not getting them)

  • none to speak of!
--------------------------

SOCK's Item List

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

2,000 points: Your choice of Blind Spell(1 left) or Quick Spell(2 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Blizzard Spell (2 left) or Confuse Spell (2 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Esuna Spell (2 left) or Fira Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Mithril Armor (2 left) or Damage Deflector (2 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Dark Converter (1 left) or Light Converter (1 left)
14,000 points: Your choice of Blizzara Spell (1 left) or Annoying Curse (2 left)
19,000 points: Your choice of Rename Card (2 left) or Vanish Spell (2 left)


Click Here For Item Descriptions and Contest Rules!

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*

2,000 points: Matt's Mom's Cookie Compilation- 6 fantastic recipes right out of Matt's mom's amazing kitchen! Yours, upon request. (5 left)

4,000 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)

15,000 points: Nintendo Wii Canvas Carrying Bag- It's simple and white, with blue print, and two drawstrings; I picked this up while waiting in the nigh-infinitely long line to play Nintendo's new console at E3 2006. If you'd like it, I'll mail it to you free of charge! (1 left)

15,000 points: Pokémon 10th Anniversary game case- Not as special as it sounds, but useful for carrying up to 4 DS games or 2 DS games and 2 Game Boy Advance games. Translucent plastic with a silver Pikachu and print on the front. (1 left)

15,000 points: Bonus Cohost Opportunity- I like giving these out because I don't have to pay for shipping. (3 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)

22,000 points: Slime Keychain Dangler- Fresh from the Square Enix booth at E3 2006, this cute little guy can be yours. (1 left)

22,000 points: Slime Snail Keychain Dangler- Anyone remember Slime Snails from Dragon Warrior III? I managed to snag one of these, too. Strut with Dragon Quest pride!! (1 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: Nintendo DS Lite Carrying Case- This won't quite fit old-model DS handhelds, but it's lightweight and flashy. White and black with an extra zippered pocket for carrying games, and a hook to attach to clothes, backpacks, or whatnot. I received this at Nintendo's Pre-E3 Media Briefing. (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) (3 left)

50,000 points: Suikoden for the PSX. Play the game that started off the entire series! Josh was generous enough to donate this exciting prize, so it would be cool to send this to a good and loving home. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left)

100,000 points: Arc the Lad Collection, for the PSX. Donated by ~Sean~~, so thank him! This collection contains four RPGs from an often-overlooked series. If you can get to 100,000 first, you can call this your own. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left) *********************************************************


One more column will get us to the weekend, no one will be joining me. No one, that is, except for Arros Raikou, who will be delighted to take my side! Thanks very much for reading, and please keep writing; that's what Q&A is all about. Bye, everyone!

slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt is like a mushroom, sometimes.


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Because... I like dank, dark places, as I said in yesterday's column! Oooh... connections!

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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. The New Super Mario Brothers

2. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

3. Radiata Stories

Matt's Top 3 Gaming Desires:

1. Disgaea II

2. Final Fantasy III

3. Xenosaga: Episode III

SOCK's Top 25:

1. Bainick
15,631 pts

2. Alexander
15,346 pts

3. BigWook
14,716 pts

4. Macstorm
14,625 pts

5. Alan Tse
13,963 pts

6. Xlash
13,297 pts

7. Colabottle
11,196 pts

8. Aurelius
9,854 pts

9. Flamethrower
9,161 pts

10. FinalDelerium
9,147 pts

11. Cap
8,209 pts

12. Erika
7,700 pts

13. Kanato
7,497 pts

14. TV's Adam
6,635 pts

15. Knighttrain
6,604 pts

16. DMJewelle
6,410 pts

17. MagRowan
5,652 pts

18. JokingChimer
4,345 pts

19. Leaper
3,830 pts

20. LufiaLvr
3,655 pts

21. Gaijin
3,258 pts

22. Purelunatic
3,015 pts

23. Belthasar2
2,923 pts

24. Gilgamesh
2,793 pts

25. Donovan
2,540 pts

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