Matthew Demers - 17:16 EST
RUSH RUSH RUSH! I managed to throw together the final report for my sidequest job this morning after staying up until 4 trying to finish it last night, and now I'm rush, rush, rushing to try and get this column finished with, because my train leaves in just a few short hours! This has officially been the craziest busy week I've had in quite some time.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I won't be around tomorrow because I'll be at home celebrating the holiday weekend with my family in Chatham-Kent, so instead, another familiar staff member will be stepping up to the plate to take things over, or so I hear. Whoever takes over, be good to them! I, of course, will be back next Tuesday (in hopefully a bit of a more laid-back state, too) to resume my job.
Mattella, since you just confessed your Pokemon-related desires, I guess now's a good time to tell you that I'm interested in trying out Pokemon for the first time. The problem is that there are sooo many Pokemon games to choose from! So, which game would you recommend for the young adult who's unsure whether or not he should get into Pokemon? Should I start with the classic red/blue or would it be better to just skip ahead to the prettier, newer titles? Thanks! <3!
As far as I'm concerned, the Pokémon games have all improved from one to the next. Red/Blue were really addictive in the first place, but Gold/Silver improved so incredibly upon everything, introducing a much bigger variety of creatures, a day/night cycle, and the ability to travel back and explore the world of Red/Blue (which was VERY exciting). While Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire lost a couple of those features, it gained a lot more and managed to make battle more strategic and engaging. Pokémon is a game that is best if you have a friend to play alongside, because it's really fun to build teams and challenge "real people", whatever those are. The game is involving, but having Pokéfriends truly makes it an addiction.
I haven't played Fire Red/Leaf Green; those games are the remakes of the original Red/Blue, and they come with a lot of extras, I think. You could try one of those for fun, or go with Ruby/Sapphire (OR with Gold/Silver, if you're playing on a GBA and not a DS). Just remember- if you're playing on a DS, you won't be able to use the multiplayer features due to the limitations of the hardware on GBA support.
Have fun! Let me know if you decide on anything! <3
This topic is an easy one for me: hey, you know what I love? Silent Hill.
I just found out that there's a Silent Hill game in the works for the PSP, and now I'm torn between my desire for all things Silent Hill and my general contempt for all things PSP.
I know what you mean! The PSP is really starting to show a little bit of life (finally) even in the RPG world, with Namco-Bandai's recent announcement of PSP versions of about 279 Tales games. Who knows if they'll be headed to North America, though? That same company is probably going to shtick it to Americans by not releasing Xenosaga I+II here, so I wouldn't be surprised if they kept Tales to themselves, too. We can, of course, always hope!
Silent Hill, though! Come to mention it, you do mention it at least once in every letter that you write in, so I guess I should have known I'd get this response from you. The floor is yours!
Yeah, yeah, they're not RPGs, but the series completely and utterly owns my soul. When I'm not in the process of playing through them (in order, always in order), I'm THINKING about being in the process of playing through them. Often, when slogging through some random battle on whatever RPG I'm plugging away on at the moment, I'll glance wistfully at where the three PS2 Silent Hill titles sit on my wall, and think, "Wow, this fight would sure be a lot more interesting if it were against a mannequin with two sprawling legs where its head should be. Or maybe one of those weird half-man, half-door creatures. And Pyramid Head's knife is just Cloud's sword left out in the rain."
You're allowed to have other loves besides RPGs, dear. I personally have a huge thing for most Mario games, as you might have picked up on, what with me blabbing about The New Super Mario Bros. and Super Princess Peach every other day. Megaman is an even more dangerous addiction for me, and it'll be sad to give away my PSX Megaman X games through the SOCK the day that someone decides to claim them, even though I already have the X Collection.
With regards to Silent Hill, I've never actually had any up-close and personal experience with it, though the guys I used to live with decided to rent one of the games a couple of years back. I watched him for a little while as I did some studying or something, and it looked... you know, pretty cool, I guess. ^_^
Addiction is an ugly word, though. I mean, I'm addicted to games in general, in the sense that when a title comes out in my favorite series (Shadow Hearts, or Suikoden, or Final Fantasy, or Dragon Quest, or Breath of Fire, or Wild Arms, or...um...) I must purchase it, whether or not I can start playing it right away.
I think I'm addicted to the act of purchasing the games; of acquiring some new title that promises something better than it usually plans on delivering. Hell, just the other day I was messing around on eBay, trying to pick up cheap but decent copies of Magna Carta, Final Fantasy I+II: Dawn of Souls, Shining Force Neo, Tales of Legendia, and anything else I could think of that I was sort of interested in, but not enough to pay retail.
I think that it's an easy addiction to pick up. I didn't really have it until I started working here, when I was kinda forced to become more acutely aware of all of the great games around. I've bought more games more frequently in the past year than at any other time in my life. Granted, I actually have money with which to buy them for the first time in my life as well; that could be a small factor, too.
What's really funny about it is that you can feel so compelled to buy something even IF you know that it's going to just sit on your shelf for weeks (or even months!) before you get the chance to get into it. It's like my inner kid has finally gotten the chance to be able to run around buying fun games, but my newfound adulthood is keeping me busy with other things instead. To be thirteen again~~~
The only time the addiction idea doesn't quite pan out is the very, very rare occasion where I buy a used game from a retail store. Then I just feel dirty.
Indeed. The guys at EB Games always try to shove used copies down your throat, because that's how they make the lion's share of their money. I don't want someone else's copy, though! I want shiny... new... shiny... "ungrunged". I guess I'm what you might call a "game bitch", though, in that regard. The worst thing was last summer, when they asked me if I wanted to buy a used DS. I would never, EVER consider buying a used system of any kind, because the questions just start flowing: "Why did they return it? Is there something wrong with the system?? Someone likely BLEW into this microphone... is there foreign saliva residue on the system??? How many times did this potentially ultra-smelly person pick their nose while playing?!?!??"
So, I definitely understand where you're coming from. Thanks, TV's Adam, for your letter!
I haven't finished Vagrant Story, though I started it
about three times (one of those in the last few
months). I just don't like the atmosphere in the game.
It's too lonely and silent. That might be why I never
finished Ico or Shadow of the Colossus... True, the
music in that game is good. The graphics are great.
The story looks full of twists (didn't get to many of
them, though) and the battle system is pretty deep.
Still, it's too oppressive for me. Also, the menu
system is cumbersome and if you're not adequatly
prepared, some enemies you can only do 1 point of
damage at a time, which is frustrating.
Thanks for your version of the story! It's interesting to me; even the people that are "behind" the game have a reservation or two about it, so it makes me wonder idly whether someone wink-wink-nudge-nudged Famitsu's judges into giving the game a perfect score. Of course, I have heard great things about the story, and the people that enjoyed the gameplay seem to have REALLY enjoyed it. What can I say? I'm an outsider to the discussion, frankly, because I don't have my own opinion to contribute. I only wish I could have played 'em all sometime in the past...
*smiles sheepishly and does some softshoe instead*
As for addicting games, I suppose for me that would be
strategy games. Sure, in RPGs you can run into the 70+
hours of gameplay easily (78 first playthrough of
Suikoden V). But at least with RPGs once you're done
with the game, you usually (or in my case, anyway) put
it to rest. On the other hand, when playing Heroes of
Might and Magic or Civilization, you can always find
new maps. The game is practically endless.
Indeed. There are only a very few games that have the honour of being replayable in my view. I'll always find the time to go back and replay Final Fantasy I-VIII, and Dragon Warrior I-IV, with a few other games dotted in there for good measure. Beyond that, though, yeah... it's a good thing RPGs aren't endless, or my life might have taken a far different course. Perhaps that's one other good, very practical reason why MMORPGs are just not for me.
Oh, and of course there's Final Fantasy Tactics.
Probably the FF I played the most, somewhere between
7-10 times. I think I pick it up and play it at least
once a year.
So no, you're not at all lonely with you addicting
Oh, YEAH! Final Fantasy Tactics is another great game to replay, and I've done it twice already. For whatever reason, that simple class system is just so unbelievably "timeless". It never gets old, and I'm always incredibly excited when I spend my good ol' JP on new skills after saving up forever. I don't think I'm quite addicted to the game, but I know that lots of people are. It's too bad that with FFTA Advance's release three years ago (yes, it's already been three years) we weren't granted another replayable-until-the-end-of-time game. I had my hopes so high, too!
I've been reading your version of this column now for a little while so i decided to write in. The only other time i wrote in was back when one of the Andrews was the host. Anyway I think your doing a great job.
Thanks! I only hope to be a worthy successor!
It's fun to look back at the history of Q&A at this site, because there have been great periods of rule, other times of unrest, and well, it's been kind of like governing bodies in a country. I can't believe that my turn has lasted almost a year already. That's, like, more than 4% of my life!
On to your prompt. The last RPG that i was completely addicted to was Dragon Quest VIII. I come home from school for winter break and my brother shows me the game. As soon as i started my own file i think i was playing that game for about 8 hours a day (or night really, I'd play from around 10 or 11 pm to about 6 the next mourning). I think i logged about 60 - 70 hours in about a week. My natural sleeping schedule was thrown off for weeks after that.
Hee hee! My brother and sister did the same. It's an addictive game, and it pained me to peel myself away from it to do constructive things like schoolwork, exercise, or RPGamer duties. The thing is, though, is that I hate to play such highly-anticipated games so quickly, because then they're just OVER with! I took great care to play DQVIII in small doses, just to stretch it out over a few months, instead of blasting through it in a couple of weeks, which I could very well have done if I had wanted to.
On another note, congrats on the DS Lite, I recently picked one up myself only to realize that most of the games i wanted were not quite released yet. Oh well, I've been busy playing New Super Mario Brothers and Trauma Center. Anyway, one game for it i am looking forward to is this. It looks very promising and i hope nothing stops it from coming out.
You mean there's yet another RPG out there that's in development that I haven't heard of? The DS is a gem of anticipation these days, isn't it?
Thanks for the congrats! It's so nice and pretty, and I can't wait to finally get the chance to play with it this weekend. Stupid work.
Lastly i assume i need to have a question of some sort. Umm... What's your take on random;y generated areas in RPGs? I have to say that them normally bother the snot out of me. It just makes it look like the environments are so bland. I know thats a pretty bad question but i couldn't think of anything else.
Generally speaking, I dislike randomly-generated anything in my RPGs. It seems like a lazy way to produce dungeon floors quickly from a programming standpoint. While the argument is usually "it keeps things fresh and boosts replay value," I usually find that exactly the opposite is true. By the time you get to the third dungeon in a RGD game, you've seen all possible "rooms", in my experience, so the environments get incredibly bland very quickly. There aren't ever any neat puzzles or secret exciting treasure chests to find, which is disappointing as well, and the usual way of making such dungeons "harder" as a game possessing them progresses is to simply make them longer, drawing out the pain even further. UGH.
First time writer long time…reader. First off let me say congrats and thanks
for doing a kick ass job. My workday would pretty much suck otherwise.
Awww... thanks! You make me sound like one of those up-with-you-in-the-morning, easy-listening radio stations; you've all heard the commercials: "Make your workday fly by!" and such. Anyway, I'm honoured. ^_^
My first question is final fantasy related. Since I started the genre
recently (atleast compared to some around here) I haven’t had time to get
into too many games. Like so many others I started with final fantasy, but
this time with IX not VII. But I haven’t played any of them before VII. I
was wondering which versions, (the originals, playstation remakes, or DS
remakes) should be played first? I know people say each have their own
faults, but which one has the least errors or is simply more enjoyable to
So far, I'd really have to say that the highest quality versions of FFIV through VI were the originals, so if you CAN, find SNES copies and play them. Do avoid the Playstation remakes of IV, V, and VI, because they take the games down so far, introducing terrible load times and messing with the music; some people also dislike the glitchiness of the battle system in the GBA remake of IV, even though by all accounts it IS a good remake. For FFI and II, the Game Boy Advance (FF: Dawn of Souls) and PSX (FF Origins) versions are both of high quality. There are a lot of extra features on the GBA versions that aren't present on the PSX, but FF Origins is truer to the originals. If you haven't even played the series in 2-D yet, though, I'd ease myself into the past slowly, by starting with FFVI, like I would ease myself into a nice hot tub. Get in too fast, and it might be painful. Get in slowly, and you might have an awwwesome time!
Of course, there are new GBA remakes of V and VI on the way, and the crux of anticipation lies with FFIII for the DS, which I hope will be released in North America before the end of this year (no guarantees).
So yeah, start by playing FFVI, and then move backward and play IV or V (perhaps the GBA remakes of both?) and then make the leap to the original three starting with the DS remake of III!
So, once I get those out of the way (hopefully it won’t take too long ^_^)
what series or games are good to move onto next? What would be considered
the essentials of RPG’s? I’m sure everyone has different opinions, but there
has to be several games that everyone agrees on…right? Right!? Also, what
other series like FF don’t need to be played in order, I have too many games
to play to jump into another ten game series. I think I have Arros beat with
about 96 games in my backlog on top to those coming out this year!
Outside of the Final Fantasy series, people's tastes tend to vary widely. Do you consider yourself to be a person who plays RPGs for an intriguing, complicated plot? Give Xenosaga a whirl. Do you think it would be fun to search for and recruit all sorts of allies to help tell an interesting story? Maybe Suikoden is for you. Do you like micromanaging character equipment and developing powerful characters out of fledgling fighters by strategizing in battle? Maybe a tactical RPG is your style: Pick up a Fire Emblem game, a Nippon Ichi game like Disgaea or Makai Kingdom (Disgaea 2 is coming out this summer), or Final Fantasy Tactics. Other very popular RPG series include Dragon Quest; Dragon Quest VIII is an epic game that unfolds kind of like a dramatic comic book, and is one of my favourite RPGs of recent history. Shadow Hearts is a newer series with a darker, yet "funny" attitude that has developed a cultish following. For a funny, light-hearted game, try any Paper Mario game or Mario & Luigi game, and you won't be disappointed.
There are so many other games that I could recommend to you, but the only way that you can figure out what you like is to give something a stab! You might find something unique and interesting out there that just tickles you the right way.
Ok, random question. Has there ever been a time in a game where the setting
or architecture becomes too unbelievable for you to enjoy the game? I ask
this cause I’m an architect in the making and often pay attention to little
details others probably glance over. It may just be me, but the style
usually helps me get into the games more.
The Dark Chevalier
Heh heh, that's interesting. I'm sure that it must drive you insane to play games like Final Fantasy X, then; some of those buildings are a bit over the top and just out of this world.
Generally, no. I can get "wowed" easily by huge buildings or towers with great detail, especially if the graphics are nice, but I would never stop enjoying a game because of unrealistic architecture. It's not a jab against you, for sure; I've stopped enjoying games because of bad music, myself. We all have certain details that we care about in our games.
Thanks for the letter, and I wish you good luck on your hunt in the RPG world!
Radiata Stories? Me? I know of no such game. What is this "Radiata Stories"?
I noticed that Radiata Stories is no longer on your list of Games Matt is
playing. Does that mean you finished it? Or did the depressing tone of the
game after the "big decision" turn you off? I played through each choice and
always felt bad at the end of the game. I was just trying to save the world.
Oh! Oh! TEH SPOILERAGE!! I'm actually not that far, but you oddly aren't the only one to write in with this concern. Radiata Stories isn't holding my interest as much as it should. It's a really fun game by all accounts, but I find it difficult to "feel the need" to play it, probably because it's so open-ended at the moment. It's interesting and good while I play. Recently, I basically got to a mission that I couldn't figure out involving a sewer and some noises, and after I spent four hours looking around the huge city, I got a bit frustrated and haven't played it since, since it seems that you can't cancel a mission and start a new one, and I assume that I should be able to accomplish this *somehow*. I mean to go back to it, one day soon, without it being added to the nigh-clichéd backlog.
First, let me say that I am shocked that Arros was able to decipher the Blind madness. Nice work! (Unless he was the one who used the Blind spell with a Rename to redirect the blame, but I can't confirm that... yet)
You never know...! The Blind spell really did paralyze a lot of people; I didn't give out too many points yesterday, I'm afraid. Every SOCK item has the potential to be very useful if used in the right way, and that's just one of the things that (I hope) makes the contest so fun!
Was someone asking about zany RPG Hybrids (yes, someone was)? One of my favorite examples is, appropriately named, Hybrid Heaven for the Nintendo 64. Konami, '99. The best description of it would be "a turned-based fighting game." It has all the token RPG elements: levels, experience, items, attack and defense values for each body part, and amnesia. You even learn new attacks "Blue Mage style." Like Vagrant Story, though, it's one of those love it or hate it types, but even more obscure. I love it; I've played through it many times and not only do I enjoy the battle system, the cold steel atmosphere and somewhat cliche sci-fi story also manage to charm me. It shows me that things don't have to be innovative to be enjoyable, they just have to fit together and be done right. Even a cliche can be beautiful if effort is put into it. After all, aren't cliches created by copying what was once a good idea?
Its very name was a testament to its hybridness, too! Even though I had an N64, I never got around to trying Hybrid Heaven, though I heard mixed things about it, as you say. I guess I really didn't know much about it, but I'm kind of surprised, in retrospect, because there weren't that many games that turned me on in the N64's library, so I'm surprised I didn't take greater notice. What can you do? REGRET! REGRET my fifteen-year-old ignorance, that's what.
And you're right; people are way too obsessed with the concept of "totally original games", and while I do appreciate that creativity, it's the things of the past that have been perfected over time. Why not pay those older, perfected ways of doing things tribute every now and then?
It also shows me that even if everyone hates a game, it's OK to love it. Never be ashamed of loving or hating any game, from Kingdom Hearts to Final Fantasy VII, as long as you give it a fair chance.
P.S. Guardian Legend is awesome!! Great taste, Blade!
Greetings from the top,
Alexander M. DeMichiei
Fine parting words, Alexander! Thanks for writing in.
Wow. T-minus an hour and a bit before my bus leaves. It's time to lay on the accelerator!
***Answers to June 28th's Questions***
#242. b) B, X - 360 points (The game is Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time for the DS. An older brother Mario and Luigi, runs and jumps on an enemy, so you have to press either A or B, and the Chomp follows dragging a baby along, Mario style, either Mario or Luigi, who can then hammer the enemy again with X or Y.)
#243. d) Invoice - 375 points/750 for Kanato (The song is Illusion by Invoice (featured in the anime El Hazard,) and the station can be found at live365.com, according to Kanato. Thanks for the submission!)
***Today's New Questions***
#244: A town in Dragon Warrior III shares its name with a character from which other RPG? (390 points)
a) Dragon Warrior IV
b) Dragon Quest VIII
c) Final Fanasy V
d) Final Fantasy VI
e) Final Fantasy VII
#245: Out of the following five games, which creates save files that take up the most space on a Playstation 2 memory card? (430 points)
a) Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
b) Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
c) Final Fantasy X
d) Megaman X: Command Mission
e) Xenosaga: Episode I
And BOOM, the 25,000 point level has been revealed, complete with some absolutely spine-tingling items!! Who will get there first?
STRAGGLERS: (people who I love, but who still need to check their e-mail or somehow get in touch with me 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, and I'll check mine, too!)
Click Here for a Complete List of SOCK Items and Rules!
SOCK's Item List
*You may obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!*
2,000 points: Your choice of Drain Spell (2 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Point Tripler (2 left) or Mithril Sword (2 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Blizzara Spell (2 left) or Dark Sword (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Gold Armor (1 left) or Super Sneak Glove (1 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Damage Deflector (2 left) or Light Converter (1 left)
14,000 points: Your choice of Confuse Spell (2 left) or Thundara Spell (2 left)
19,000 points: Your choice of Rename Card (2 left) or Vanish Spell (2 left)
25,000 points: Your choice of Demiga Spell (2 left) or Nightmare Staff (2 left)
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. (4 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. (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)
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)
That's all I have to say for this week, except for "Happy Canada Day, everybody!!" If you're not from the True North, strong and free, I'll eat a piece of chicken for you.
See you next week!
***Matt is hurried!
Rush! Also, the name of a robot dog from the Megaman series!
June 28: Matt
June 27: Matt
June 26: Josh
June 25: Josh
About the Host
What is Matt playing?
1. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
2. The New Super Mario Brothers
3. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
What does Matt want to play?
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl
3. Xenosaga: Episode III
SOCK's Top 25:
3. Alan Tse
17. TV's Adam
25. Arros Raikou
34. Angus Creighton