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ASK MATT
Shackalackaloo
May 29, 2007

Matt Demers - 21:02 EST

SO, THE GREAT CONVERSATION continueth, here at Q&A.

It was a pretty quiet weekend, all in all. You know, got my hair cut, did a few errands, and so forth. I managed to peel myself away from the evils of Pokémon for awhile, and started playing Lunar Knights at long last. Man, the game really IS pretty fun after all, and different than anything else I've played on the DS, that's for sure. It's been awhile since the last time I've action-RPG-ed, and the change is a bit refreshing.

I'm also getting ever-closer to wrapping up Super Paper Mario, though I swear to... swear to goodness that if I have to do even one more stupid fetch-quest, I'm going to snap the game DVD in half and bake it in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until dark 'n' crispy. I'm not joking.

Let's begin Week 77 (or so) of Ask Matt! Oh yeah, and happy birthday, Diane. ;)




LETTERS
What better place is there to talk about games... Board games!


Hey Matt, welcome back! So... what do you think of Settlers of Catan, anyway? It's a game I was introduced to five years ago or so, and I'm continually surprised by how many different people enjoy playing it. To me it almost feels like an RPG, where you're commanding your little settlers to build roads and cities and whatnot, but I guess it's mostly a strategy game. Admittedly, I have virtually no experience with actual board-game or pen-and-paper RPGs, so what do I know.

Matt

Well, I was introduced to it in board-game form. I literally hadn't heard of it before a month or so ago, when my sister started dating this guy. To make a long story short, the dude showed her how to play this game, but ended up being kind of creepy and AHH-I-NEED-SPACE-inducing, so he's long gone. However, the game has now been integrated into the family collective. The strange part is that less than a week after I played it for the first time, I heard about all this Xbox-related Settlers of Catan business. Weird, man, weird.

It's like the first time I ever heard of Multiple Sclerosis. This lady came to our school and gave us a lecture on it for some random reason, and I had never heard of it before then. (I was about 8 or 9 years old.) The name stuck in my head because it was weird and fun to pronounce (how many words have "scl" in them? None, that's how many.) However, I was watching the news that VERY night, and I saw a story on this woman who died in Detroit after the car she was driving crashed because she had a Multiple Sclerosis attack. It was such a bizarre coincidence, I haven't forgotten it since.

I've read the reviews for Atelier Iris 3 and I'm a little bummed. I was planning on getting it, just to have it around, especially since I liked the first one and loved the second one. Now I'm not so sure. Anyway, that brings me to my main question for today: has there been a video game you'd been eagerly awaiting, but once it got here, you were tremendously let down by it? (And since that's a yes-or-no question, I'll ask "which one(s)?" and "why?" where applicable.)

'Til next time!

Joshua

Matt

Yeah, it's unfortunate that it got bad reviews, but unfortunately, some series just don't deal well with limited success. It sounds like Atelier Iris has done exactly what Shadow Hearts did: The series crested at #2, and took a nosedive, presumably because the developers wanted to axe certain key gameplay elements and integrate new kewliorrific things that ended up ruining EVERYTHING. Pity.

Games I've been sorely disappointed in? That's tough. I don't remember being severely disappointed by many games in the past, to be honest, and I've had far more pleasant surprises. I'd have to say that because I did quite enjoy Breath of Fire II, I was more than a bit let down when I first popped in BoF III, since for some strange reason, I was bored out of my skull from the very beginning. I still haven't beaten the game... I should give that another chance one of these days.

Thanks, Josh. Write again soon, yesplease!



The ooey, gooey quintuple-layer-cake that is Odin Sphere.


Mwahahaha. All of you people assume that there's a Blue Mage class out there. But is there really? I've never actually said that there is, have I?

I assume there is, because you know I'd track you down and slay you if there weren't.

Matt

Ha-HA! But little did you know that I possess a sacred Charm of Warding, giving me a +10 to all defending rolls against crazy stalkerboys. You can hunt me down, but you might not win the fight!

Anyway, just hold your horses before you track me down and attempt stabbery. The game is still young, and there's plenty, plenty, plenty to find, so don't you worry.

Anyway, I've just started Odin Sphere, and it's pretty amazing. At the very least, the visuals are like nothing I've ever seen before. Pretty incredible stuff. It's a fairly difficult game, at least to me, even on Normal, but maybe I've not gotten the control nuances down yet. I'm also fascinated by the 5 tiered storyline, much as I was with Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. In that game, I was playing through as fast as I could so I could progress the storyline and see what happens. I'm hoping that happens to some extent here as well. I do understand from the review that this system does cause replays of previous levels, but I'm hoping that the use of new characters makes that less annoying.

Matt

Hey, it's been done before with interesting success. Anybody remember Donkey Kong 64? (I'm totally serious, I thought it was an awesome game.)

Speaking of new games, I've got a dilemma. I've got Atelier Iris 3 on reserve, but the review at this very website has got me wondering if I should bother to pick it up. I'm torn; what do you do in this kind of situation?

Matt

Well, if you don't have anything better to play- or better yet, if you really feel like you might like it nonetheless, at least give it a try. A game rating should be taken with a grain of salt, I feel, unless possibly if you're hypertensive. Every game, terrible or great, has some fans somewhere. Maybe you'll play it, like it, and feel the need to tell everyone the TRUTH about the game. Or, maybe you'll play it, and it won't be that good, but there will be something interesting and inspiring about the magic system or something. I dunno. Go for it, if you have the means. Pass it up if you don't.

Either way, let me know of your decision, and of the truth behind the game, if you do choose to play it after all!



Yeah, um, what's wrong with PS2 graphics again... exactly?


Hey Matt,

I picked up Odin Sphere this week, and from what I've played so far, I'm absolutely loving it. When I first started playing, I couldn't believe how much detail that they managed to put in all of those sprites. And when you get past that, it's still a fun game to play as well. While playing though, the question comes to mind, would we have seen more beautiful sprite-based games if Sony America wasn't so adamant about refusing to license fully 2D games to be published in the US? About the only 2D Playstation 1 game I can think of off of the top of my head would be Legend of Mana, (although it used 3D for some spell effects and such) and I would suspect that it was published because of the success Squaresoft was having with other games on the PSX at the time.

Matt

Oh, you're probably right. Even very recently, games like the PSP Suikoden I+II ports didn't meet Sony's standards for whatever, and to North America they did not sail. That said, I know of some other 2-D PS1 games... being a huge Mega Man fan and all, how could I not?

As for the graphical goodness of Odin Sphere... well, I've said it many times before, but I think that Sony could have done just fine by sticking with the PS2. If they had encouraged development of new games... well, I dunno. I think that developers are finally experts at programming for the darn system, and games like this and Final Fantasy XII prove that the graphics of this "inferior" system are really not anything to scoff at. It's all about power though, apparently... so what do I know?

Switching gears to a smaller and more handheld topic, I've also been playing Etrian Odyssey. From what I've seen, the reviews for it have either loved it or hated it. Personally, having played various Nethack and Roguelike varieties through the years, I was really excited about this. I think my favorite aspect of it though, is that my team is fully customizable, and it's nice to be able to just wander into a dungeon and whack some monsters once in a while, instead of worrying about whether Large-Haired Emo Boy-B will recover from his amnesia, or whether you'll be able to save Wistful Heroine-C from Generic Evil Guy-A's fortress of doom. Granted, I'll always enjoy an RPG with a good storyline, but sometimes it's fun to get down to basics.

Matt

And here I really agree with you. I've never actually played a dungeon-crawler, per se, but I'm excited to try this game out.

As for the inconsistent reviews, it's the way it's going to be. In an age where graphics and sprawling epic games are all the rage, some sites simply can't cope with traditional RPGs of any kind. Many sites out there consider the phrase "turn-based RPG" to be a strictly negative term, and are quick to stomp over any game sporting a turn-based system with harsh language, and, in my opinion, a closed-minded ranting writing style that shouldn't be part of any objective review.

Maybe I'm the biased one, being a lover of traditional-styled games. What do you think?

As one final question, what would you say (not counting imports) would be the most obscure RPG that you own? As for myself, I have a copy of a PSX game that was a mix of RPG and Board Game, called Battle Hunter. It wasn't that great, but it's fun occasionally, since you could play it with up to 3 other people. Anyway, that's all for now, and I'd also like to say that SOCK 2 has been really fun so far.

~FoxKelfonne

Matt

Heh heh, I'm glad!! I hope it turns out to be fun for everybody, and hey, you might earn something nice in the process.

As for the most obscure RPG I own? That's really not an easy question. I have to admit that I don't have a ton of obscure games at all, but let's take a look here. Off-the-beaten-path RPGs that I own... Grandia III? Atelier Iris, the original? Shadow Hearts, the original? None of those are really "obscure" though. Riviera: The Promised Land is a little obscure, but not really. Makai Kingdom- now we're getting warmer. (What a delightful-yet-mediocre game...)

Anywho... zat is all. More later, O foxy one. :)



Monster list of gaming doom!


Let's see what games my brother and I bought in just the last three weeks:
Bully
Gunpey DS
The Red Star
Puzzle Quest
Etrian Odyssey
Nightmare of Druaga
Odin Sphere
and to top it all off, an XBox 360 with Command and Conquer 3.

Even if we didn't have jobs, we couldn't play all these games. Not to mention all the games left to finish before all this.

Do you think we have a problem? Tell me honestly, friend.

--

Alexander M. DeMichiei

Matt

Okay, so I thought that I was bad, but this is rather extreme. I dunno what to tell you. There must be an Anonymous program out there somewhere, though I guess you don't care so much about anonymity, seeing as you're splaying out your feelings in front of MILLIONS of others. Okay, thousands. (okay... hundreds. *sigh*)

On the side, is it "ET-rian" Odyssey, or "e-TREE-an" Odyssey? This has been bugging me since the doofuses (doofi?) decided to change the name from Yggdrasil Labyrinth, cuz, you know, everyone knows how to pronounce Yggdrasil. Anyway, I'm accepting votes on what you think the pronunciation should be, so vote now... or DIE! <3

Have a nice day, Alexander!



A Handheld Fool's Gold Mine?


Hello.

Think about your favorite console RPG of all time for a moment... Done? Good!

Now then; Do you think there could ever be a handheld exclusive RPG that can match the greatness of your favorite console game? Basically, I am asking if there is the possibility (assuming that it hasn't happened already) that an original handheld RPG could ever be your favorite of all time. If it has already happened, what handheld game is it? If it hasn't, do you really think a it ever could?

As for myself, I don't think such a thing is possible. No original handheld game I have ever played has come close to matching the depth of my favorite console RPGs over the years. The most recent champion of the "all time greatest game in my opinion award" is Dragon Quest VIII. To think that any handheld game could come close to my perceived greatness of DQVIII is just crazy. I am not saying that it could never happen, but as of right now due to limitations on the size and scope of most handheld RPGs caused by the restrictions inherit to the platforms themselves, it seems unlikely.

-thinkfreemind

Matt

While I agree with you that my favourite RPGs have been for consoles, I can't agree with the whole baked-up pie that is your letter. See, I don't believe that there are inherent restrictions to handheld platforms... or at least, ones that truly factor into RPGs. The reason that I say this is because my personal favourite games were for the SNES, and today's handhelds are far more powerful than the SNES was, plain and simple. So, while yes, I think that the truly epic and great games have been for big nonportable consoles to date, I don't necessarily think that handhelds are condemned to Mickey-Mouse RPG experiences for the rest of time.

In fact, I'd go as far as to say that I believe the further along we get, the more likely it will be that sprawling, epic RPGs will appear on handheld systems. Why? Because handhelds are simply way more popular than consoles nowadays. Why wouldn't a developer jump on the opportunity to make a great game for a system that is the most popular, especially if the system has enough power to do great things? We've learned that one of the biggest RPG series of all time is making the jump to handheld-land: You think that Dragon Quest VIII was great, after all... so perhaps its sequel, Dragon Quest IX, coming to the Nintendo DS sometime soon, will be the game that proves to you that the terms "great RPG" and "handheld system" can go hand-in-hand.



QUICKIES

i heard u play pokemon have u heard of the glitch where u can copy pokemon by using the gts.. its awesome u can have as many starters as u want lol!

Matt
People like you spoil the game and give Pokémon a bad name. Stop cheating and play the game the way it was meant to be played. Oh, and a random sidenote: I have zero Pokérespect for anybody who doesn't change the battle style to "Set" from "Shift" in the Options menu. No wonder people think the game is easy... the "Shift" option is like an auto-advantage, and it tilts in-game battles sickeningly in the player's favour. *end rant*

IN CLOSING

What do you think about the future of handheld gaming? Will it continue to grow in popularity? Will handhelds one day put the idea of non-portable consoles to rest? Better yet, do you share the belief with Thinkfreemind from above? That is, do you think that great RPGs haven't and won't ever appear for a handheld system? Write to me and tell me why!

Until tomorrow, everybody.



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 6 - one weekend, and SLAM! They're gone...



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt wonders what the future will bring...


More handhelds? Final Fantasy XIV? Delicious cake, perhaps?

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On my Wishlist:

1. Dragon Quest IX

2. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

4. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker

5. Metroid Prime 3



On my Portable Playlist:

1. Pokémon Diamond

2. Lunar Knights/Final Fantasy VI

3. Mega Man ZX



On my Console Roster:

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess/Super Paper Mario

2. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance



Hot Topics:

1. Playing Odin Sphere? Tell me about it!

2. Dragon Quest remakes (possibly)?!? What are your thoughts?

3. Are handheld RPGs inherently limited in their potential for greatness?

4. Etrian Odyssey: Excited about a new dungeon-crawler?

5. Don't you hate it when you're addicted to buying games you can't play?



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