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ASK MATT
Girl with Cold, Die!
April 19, 2007

Matt - 21:28 EST

WHOOPS! FLAMETHROWER WANTS me to pass on a little piece of info to all of you: The topic I got from him about the games that are likable but horrible? That wasn't his idea or my idea; it was Casto's idea. So I nod my head to him, first, at Flamethrower's request.

Secondly, it was finally a springlike day outside with nary a cloud in the sky. What does this mean? I'm not sure. I'll bet there's some kind of wacky superstitious -ologist out there somewhere that predicts events based on the weather. Oh, right... they're called "meteorologists."

We've got a few new letters, but the flow isn't so hot these days. It might be a shortish column. Make sure that you send in stuff for next Tuesday, however, when Boojum arrives to help me out with some letter-answering. I'm sure he'd appreciate having something to respond to!

Anyway, it's my turn to respond, now, so let us pray, er, begin.




LETTERS
Storylines, reviews, and... that's it.


Yar Matty, or Matey as it were,

Anywho, it's been a week or so since my last letter, but that dern ol' life thingamajig got in the way.

Matt

That "darn ol' life thingamajig" gets in everybody's way. I think it's really the final boss. Let's team up and destroy life so we can, you know, live again.

Now, onto the HOT topics:

-Which game has your favourite storyline?
MAN that's a good question. Whew.... Can I put two? I can? Great! The first would have to be Shadow Hearts II. From the seamless way the storyline is blended with a WWII scenario, to the most colorful and entertaining cast of characters I've ever had the pleasure to play as, the game is flawless in my eyes from the storyline standpoint. And I won't spoil it for anyone, but the end? Breath-taking. My best buddy and I actually played about 99% of it together, and we enjoyed the heck out of it. It was one of the only games we've ever consistently openly laughed at, screamed at, gasped and gawked at, and darned if I didn't love every minute. He likened it to a movie we could control as we go, albiet a very LONG movie.

Matt

Holy, man, that game has received one heck of a lot of votes over the past week or two. I feel like I've missed out on something big. It wouldn't be the first time. I have the kind of luck to be, you know, the only guy looking away when the Loch Ness Monster pokes its head above the water.

It's a tough question, for sure, but that's a high honour to bestow! I'm happy it was such a fun game for thee and thy friend.

My second favorite game is more of a nostalgia pick, owning to the fact that it was the very first RPG I ever played when it came out for the Dreamcast (I was an RPG late-bloomer), and that was Grandia II. It was the first game I had ever played with that kind of religious over-tones to it. *SPOILERS* From the blind faith of the devoted, to the corruption and evil displayed by the "good" guys, having a sarcastic, cynical prick like Ryudo poking fun and picking apart the god-fearing citizens and denizens was a blast a minute, and at a time in my life where my own personal religious views weren't so cut and dry, it was a refreshing look at religious fanaticism, and how truly dangerous it can be.

Matt

Those RPGs became a little clichéd for awhile, there, but I do love that kind of story as well. It hits home on the real-life world the slightest bit; games like Final Fantasy X, Breath of Fire II, Xenosaga, and so many others all have stories that leave a little bit of chill on my spine from the "austerity" of the evil... or pseudo-evil, if you like. See, a lot of the time, your religious adversaries truly believe in their cause; their beliefs give them a real reason to fight, so it doesn't just seem like you're fighting against a crazed maniac.

-What things make up a good review?
3 words: Details, details, details. A review is supposed to be an objective overview of a game, it's main points, storyline, characters, and settings. Often times, reading reviews that are painfully one-sided becomes tedious and really takes the fun out of picking out games. Reading a review, and then going out and spending $50-$60 on games that reviewers said were great, only to fall totally short of what was expected is a disheartening experience we have all had at one time or another. We who don't keep such careful tabs on up and coming games leave our time and entertainment choices in the hands of people who get paid for it, so we trust them, because if we didn't want to find out what was new and big and exciting, we wouldn't be playing in the first place, would we? Ratings and reviews won't always be agreed with by all, but just like movie and music critics, they do their best to be as detailed and informative as possible, and I give them a lot of credit for that, because after all, when someone asks YOUR opinion on something, don't you love it when they actually listen to you? I know I do.

Matt

Aha, but there's a little bit of a catch, right? You say that a review is supposed to be an objective overview, but later say that it's an opinion. This is where the big disagreements lie; I think that there has to be a little bit of opinion embedded into any review, because otherwise, all reviews would be the same. It's hard to be perfectly objective if you fundamentally view certain aspects of games as "good" or "bad" in the first place.

A conundrum, perhaps. But, a reality, I feel.

Whew...that was a long one, and I hope it makes up for my recent silence.

-Frammy

|= |=

Matt

Nah, it wasn't overly long. It was good to hear from you, Fram-fram-frammy.



AHHH, this is too true!!


Hey Matt-

It's interesting that you brought up embarassment when it comes to playing games yesterday, because that's something I have to deal with fairly regularly.

I live with three other guys, and tons of other people are constantly coming in and out of my room all the time. While I'm proud of the fact that I'm a big video game player and I keep a handful of games on my shelves in the dorm-room, it's still very difficult to get into an RPG while other people are always around. For example, when I was powering through Super Paper Mario two weeks ago, I always had to explain to people what was going on, which kind of took me out of the world. The worst, though, is having to wait to advance text so everyone around me can read it; I have to try to keep a balance of going quickly enough so bystanders don't get bored yet going slowly enough so that everyone can keep up.

Matt

OK, this is the most wonderful letter I've read in some time- no offense to anybody else- but crapdoodles, I exclaimed out loud when I read this paragraph. I can't agree with you more! Now, many of you know that it was my Grandma that got me into RPGs, back when I was a budding lad. I haven't mentioned that in awhile, but yeah, it's true. So, I'd often purposefully play RPGs in front of her and mom if she happened to be over, to show her "how far they've come" and whatnot. Fair enough, right? Well, damn. I gave up on it eventually, because I'd have to scroll through at roughly the speed of a sedated three-toed sloth with arthritis. It's not that I read particularly quickly, either... it's just that poor grandma would always have to sit and absorb every little word on every little window, and holy crap, it was grating.

The same goes with my mom: My brother and I used to be somewhat obsessed with getting her to play our favourite RPGs, and I played a few alongside her. HOWEVER, it was always so difficult to do so, because getting...through...the...text...... sooooo hard.

Anyway, I totally hear you. Fifty bonus points. So great. You win.

The worst is DS games, because I've been reviewing a lot of them lately, and I usually play them on the go. Spectrobes, for example, caused me quite a bit of embarassment as people look over my shoulder on subways and I can just feel their glares. Puzzle Quest also attracts a lot of unwanted eyes. So yeah, sometimes I just wish I could have more privacy when it comes to playing my collection of RPGs; it would definitely give me more chances to play and replay a lot of the games I've been meaning to delve into.

Matt

I'm sure Nintendo appreciates the free advertising, though. Or maybe everyone's looking and going "holy crap, he actually has Puzzle Quest!" since it seems to be incredibly difficult to find at stores. The makers weren't expecting this kind of demand, I'm pretty sure.

Now here's my question for you - my modern console collection currently consists of a PS2, Wii, and DS. For my next purchase I'm debating between an Xbox360 and a PSP -- the 360 has a great current and upcoming lineup: Mass Effect, Gears of War, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Dead Rising, etc, and it seems like it might even get Metal Gear Solid 4 or (gasp) Final Fantasy XIII.

On the other hand, the PSP has a decent collection of its own, and is getting more RPGs soon; I've been dying for multiplayer in Final Fantasy Tactics since 1997, and now it's actually arriving. Its biggest selling point, though, is that it can be modded to play old Playstation games; being able to play Xenogears, Suikoden 1-2, FFT, etc. on the go is a HUGE advantage for it.

I figure I'll get both eventually, but I want to buy one of them in the next month or so; the other I won't pick up until at least this Hannukah. So what do you think - 360 or PSP? Other readers, you're welcome to chip in as well, or send me an email with your opinions - ishmael@rpgamer.com.

- Ishmael

Matt

That's a difficult question. It's hard to imagine playing PS1 games on the go. I have a few, but not so many that I'm sure I'd find as much use for the retro gaming aspect, especially since eh, I have a PS2 that I could play them on if I really wanted to. But, it's certainly something to think about. Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP? It's enticing... but for me, it isn't enough either. I want both new and good.

The 360 does have a few neat-looking games coming out, and if FFXIII is announced for the system, it definitely slips into "buy" territory. I guess what you have to ask yourself is "What is more important to you: Old games, or new?"

It's not a no-brainer. It takes some thought. But maybe things will change before the end of the year; perhaps if a few more games are announced for the 360 by then, the decision won't be as tough.

Good luck with your big decision, Ish. You can figure this out... but make sure you write back and tell me if you do!



Those horrible pleasures...


(Bucket is wearing a Groucho Marx style eyeglass, nose and ‘stash mask as she is typing this.)

Don't tell anyone, but I could never play Final Fantasy 7 with people in the house. (Except the dog, but she didn't care.) If my mother could ask embarrassing questions when I play The Sims or The Sims 2 ("Is there...murder in this game? What about crime?") imagine what'd she say about my fixation on certain 3-D polygon models...*facedesks* Luckily she's no longer here to look over my shoulder.

Matt

Oh, wow. Yeah, I never had that problem. Oh, wait. Oh, WAIT! Except for on my second or third playthrough, when my mother witnessed the Honeybee bath with homoerotic connotations. Holy crapballs, my face must have flushed thirteen shades of purple, testing the spectrum's blue section, even. Awk-ward!

This past weekend I had to work up the courage to go down to Blockbuster and rent Dirge of Cerberus, then work up the courage to actually put it in the PS2 and play it, because I was fully expecting I'd hate it. (I'm actually enjoying it so far seeing as I only rented it as "research" for the convention I'm going to this weekend.)

Perhaps someday I'll work up the courage to walk into a store and put Kingdom Hearts onto the counter. Let's hope.

Matt

Oh my. Actually, I had a recent experience with this sort of thing. Now, I am twenty-four years old, and I fully encourage everyone to go out and get Pokémon, because they're kick-ass games with a surprising amount of depth. However, that does not make it easy to reserve the game in front of a whole bunch of teenage guys. Honest to god, my exchange with the guy at the counter felt exactly like that "buying condoms for the first time" scene that's in about three hundred movies.

The lineup was about six people deep. It was a P.D. day, so as usual, the EB Games was quite busy. Matt stood at the counter, as the guy on the other side addressed him with a nod.

"Hey! I'd like to get Lunar Knights, please. I'd also like to preorder Super Paper Mario... and Pokémon Diamond."

"So, it's Pokémon Diamond for the DS you want? You could also get Pokémon Pearl, you know."

"Yes... Diamond, please."

"Hmmm, I didn't realize we were already taking orders for Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl already! How about that."

"Hmm, that's interesting."

"We'll make sure to give you a call when your copy of Pokémon Diamond arrives."

"Thanks..."

The guy behind me in line was a punky seventeenish dude with his cap turned backwards and some bloodygorey Xbox 360 game, and the guy behind HIM in line was some old bastard thirty-something with a beer gut, greasy black hair with the odd white one showing, and an evidently unremarkable football game for the PS3 of some sort in hand, which I found more than mildly amusing. But yeah, it was a bit of an interesting situation, anyway.

Annnyway, thanks Bucket! We'll overcome our fears and play to our heart's content one day.



How strange is this?


Hey Matt,

The hard thing about picking bad games that you actually like is the fact that they aren't really bad games to you - just to everyone else. I can only thing of one example - that would be Grandia II on the PS2. A lot of my friends didn't care for it and I will be the first to admit it had some major glitches, but that didn't stop me from loving the battle system, the music and the storyline. So what if a spell that you cast only displays half of the magic circle it's supposed to make? Who cares if one of the towns has a jittering motion to it due to poor programming that causes lag? In the end its all about the enjoyment and personally, I found the boss battles especially to be smoking hot - hot enough even to cause a kernel of corn to burst inside out into a morsel of fluffy goodness (that's right - the metaphor has mutated and continues to grow!). In the end, however, whether a game is good or bad is more a personal preference than anything else. Heck, I know a lot of people who don't like Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter and I love that game as well. The sad thing about that game is the fact that everyone I know that doesn't like it, all have the same reason - because it's not like the previous four games. Sad, isn't it?

Kolphyre

Matt

Well, wouldn't you know it, but Grandia II was mentioned again in this very column. How crazy is that? I never hear about that game, and two in one day! I should write this down in my writing-down book.

Anyway, that little piece of evidence should prove to you that you're not the only one! Plus, I don't really think that Grandia II is regarded among the masses to be a "horrible" game by any means; too few people played it in the first place, probably. Or, maybe I'm just saying that because I haven't played it... I tend to use tunnel vision at times, though I swear I'm not a mole, or mole/man hybrid. If you've got a minute, by the way, look up the "Star-Nosed Mole." It's got to be the most disgusting real-life creature I've ever laid my eyes upon.

I love BoF: DQ as well, and I think it's one of my favourite games of the past several years, to be honest. It's just different, refreshing, quick, and challenging, representing a huge jump from its mediocre older brothers.

Thanks, Kolphyre!



QUICKIES

2007 PS2 RPGs? The new Mana game, most certainly. Mostly due to my like of Ritzia's (I think that's her name) costume. Potential fodder for a cosplay costume...

Laters!
MagRowan ^_^

Matt
I haven't seen her yet. Send pictures, though! The closest I ever came to cosplay was when I dressed up as Manannan the wizard for Halloween one year. LOVED that game... (which game am I talking about? ;) )

PAL, overlooked, or the new market?

Bainick

Matt
PAL overlooked. PAL always overlooked. Actually, though, no. It sounds like Sony broke through there more than anywhere else, so maybe they'll end up catering more towards people in Europe and down under; maybe the PlayStation will become "the PAL system." I don't know.

Is Andrew getting my mail? Deci-letter, here.

JuMeSyn

Matt
I have no idea. You'll have to ask him. Hmmm, that's a problem, isn't it...?

IN CLOSING

One more day will bring me closer to my doom and the rest of you closer to the lovely weekend. The newest topic for you to digest comes to you from the beautiful Ishmael: Is it time to think more about the PSP? With games like Crisis Core, FF Tactics, another remake of FF I + II, and more outside of Square Enix on the way, is the PSP becoming a worthy choice for RPGamers? Discuss! I shall be waiting as always to pounce on your letters, like the kitty pounces upon an unwary cricket.

Bye, all!



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 13 - actually, pretty good



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is not sure why he thought he didn't get many letters...


Odd, that. No matter. More tomorrow. Leave me in peace.

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On my Wishlist:

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