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Tricky Titles
June 5, 2007

Matt Demers - 18:16 EST

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT, and some of you placed your trust in me extra-early by getting involved in my big ol' crazy game. It's too late to join now, so don't even think about it, you latecomers, but the grand prize that the winner of Sock 2 will receive is a brand new Nintendo DS Lite. What a big, fancy prize! Yes, it's will be fun for all, and if you already have one, you can surely give it to a friend and further Nintendo's goals to one day taking over the world. There are plenty of other prizes, including new games and such, to be won along the way, so to all of you people who sat on the sidelines and said things like "Ugh, I'm not playing that stupid game. It looks way too complicated, and besides, I'm too busy playing some MMO to be bothered anyway," that's what you get. <3

Back to the real world. My weekend was great fun. I went home and watched my sister play through the digibutter.nerr scene of Super Paper Mario (which is in itself reason enough to get the game) and played many board games with the family. My brother-in-law went to the emergency room because of an unfortunate mishap involving a coffee pot and a sink, so that was a bit of an odd sidequest for my sister. Finally, we ate at a chinese restaurant in the sprawling burg of Wallaceburg where the shrimp were plump and the waitresses awful.

At the risk of turning this into a mini-autobiography, I shall stop with the ramblement and start with the letters that you have hopefully sent me. I haven't looked in my inbox yet, so there'd better be SOMETHING there...




LETTERS
Handheld heaven.


Dear whosoever is answering letters today:

Who has time for console games these days? The last console game I finished was FFXII, and that was back in January or February. Handhelds are where it's at. As for no one claiming that their favorite RPGs are on handhelds...um, I do. FFIII and Etrian Odyssey are some of my favorite RPGs of all time, plus since I found the GBA port of the SNES port of the NES game Super Mario Bros. 3, I now have my favorite game of all time on a handheld.

Add to this such upcoming gems as DQIX, plus the sheer convenience of a gaming system that you can take with you anywhere, and handhelds are looking better and better. In fact, one has only to look at the sales figures for the DS to see that we are in a brave new world, with such handhelds in it. When I'm at home, I sit on my couch, with my TV and PS2 hooked up in front of me...and I play my DS.

Matt

Furthermore, the argument that "You have to squint and get a massive headache in order to see handheld graphics" is becoming less and less sound. Graphical quality is going up, up, up, and so is the screen size and resolution. With backlights finally "standard" in all of today's handhelds, that really helps too. I really suspect that within the next ten to fifteen years, handhelds will become the new standard in video gaming, and that consoles may slowly undergo a distinctive transformation of some kind...

Etrian Odyssey is amazing (though it caused my DS to freeze up TWICE this weekend, something which has never happened to my DS) and everyone who considers themselves aficionados of old-school RPGs should definitely play this game. The difficulty level is higher than any RPG I've played, higher even than Fire Emblem. But man, is it good fun.

Matt

Yay! That's fantastic to hear. I've got the game myself, so it's only a matter of time before I obtain the ability to excitedly converse about it. I'm playing through Lunar Knights, though, first, as per the RULES of my backlog.

Hopefully the glitchy freezing is restricted to your copy, though, Jeff. I can't stand it when games freeze on me... the Star Ocean games were incredibly good at doing that, and it drove me nearly insane on a few occasions.

Disgaea PSP is the next RPG I'm looking forward to. The thought of a DS version (port or spin-off? Your guess is as good as mine) is pretty cool, too. It's supposedly being released in August, but my local game dealer won't let me pre-order it yet. The sooner the better, I say. I've not been using my PSP for anything recently, and I'd like to rectify that situation.

That's all for me.

-Jeffrey

Matt

I don't even know. It looked like a port at first, but based on a few things I've heard, it sounds more like the original will be reworked/refurbished with the story told through Etna's eyes. Wickedly cool. It makes me somewhat sad that it's for the PSP, but based on a certain interview last week, I'm now optimistic in other ways...

There does seem to be a lot on the way, though, for PSP-owners. Brave Story, Dungeon Maker, Final Fantasy Tactics, the FFI+II remakes, Crisis Core, and Riviera are all coming on top of the one you mentioned... and a few more. Your PSP won't collect dust for long, I suspect.

Hopefully I'll be able to blather on excitedly about Etrian Odyssey with you soon, Jeff! More later.



"Your blows are like miniature jackhammers wielded by tiny, angry roadworkers."


Hey Matt. Long time no write. I've been in the mood lately for games with absurdist humour sprinkled in the story lines but lately I just haven't seen any recent games that fit that bill. There are four that I can think of that make me smile to this day. Rhapsody, the musical RPG: I loved the way the main character was told not to fight a big boss because she would have to start the game all over again. Okage, was very interesting and tim-Burtonesque weird and having a female character fight with a parasol was silly fun. Who can forget Disgaea and its Prinnies. And finally the PS2's version of the Bard's Tale: Cary Elwes voice acting made that game funnier that it should be. Might you or your esteemed readers be able to help me quench my RPG thirst? Super thanks to all suggestions.

Pressed for time gamer

Bennedick Koh

Matt

Having just played Super Paper Mario last night, that game might be exactly what you're looking for. In fact, just about any of the Paper Mario/Mario & Luigi games are like that. Have you every played any? They're some of the most bizarrely hilarious games out there, and if you think you're having a craving for some absurd humour, then I think you need to give these a try in a major way.

Let me know if you try 'em out!



Waaaaaaah...


Matt,

You know you're blaspheming when you call Metroid Prime an FPS, right? Sure it's in the first person, but the control scheme, gameplay, and overall design are so NOT FPS. It's okay. We're still cool. Let's just call it an FPA (First Person Adventure). I'm sure you think I'm crazy, but go ahead and read the rest of this letter.

Matt

MEOW! Ragh, I always get into this battle with some random nut, and you just happen to be the nut this time. Like you, nuts can be delicious, but also have the potential to be quite annoying, especially when they get stuck between your teeth. You can't take away the FPSmanship of Metroid Prime from me! I won't let you! It's the only one I haaaave...

Nintendo brands it as an FPS, and yes, it's in first person (most of the time) and furthermore, YES! You shoot! It's first person AND you shoot, and so it must be a FPS. Sure, it might feel different from your typical FPS, but perhaps that's why it's a game that I can tolerate. Different games within the same genre can have different gameplay; I mean, here at RPGamer, we cover Secret of Mana and Dragon Warrior II. I think the difference in styles there is more vast.

If still, you insist that my sole FPS success is not an FPS success by default, I'll just have to eliminate you. Ehehe...

Speaking of stories in FPSs, I've never felt more a part of a game world and story than in Half-Life 2. I suggest First Aid give this a try. You can get it for like $9 bucks. Trust me, First Aid. I'm just like you. I only played the Halo games for their single player and never touched multiplayer and I'm telling you, Halo don't got s**t on Half-Life 2. There are no pre or post-mission cut scenes that pull you out of the game. When scripted events occur, you're not locked into some fixed camera angle. You're still able to run around. Everything happens around you. In other words, you play the cut scenes. Not to mention HL2 is RPG length. Yeah, 30+ hours. You can also wait to to get that new HL2 Black Box for the 360, which has Half-Life 2, it's two story expansions, and the new FPP (First Person Puzzler) Portal for $60. Man I'm going crazy coining these sub-genres.

Matt

*nods*

What he said. I dunno anything here, though the words "first person puzzler" have some interesting ideas poking into my head. Has anybody here ever played Palamedes for the NES? Imagine the excitement a first-person version would hold...

Anyway, I don't mind so much buying games that I don't play. It's just that I hate paying full price, not playing them, then seeing them dirt cheap a couple years later still new and factory sealed. I've wisened up a bit lately. I recently got Xenosaga Ep. III for just $16 in Circuit City's bargain bin...which was sitting next to La Pucelle going for $10. Doh! I payed full price for La Pucelle and I haven't finished that yet. Guess I'm not so wise after all.

Jonezy

Oh yeah, Odin Sphere rocks! No words to describe. Go play...now.

Matt

Wah! You actually FOUND La Pucelle hanging around? You're lucky! I haven't seen that game on the shelves in a long, long time, and it's one of those titles I'm always half-hoping to see in the used section of the EB Games over in the mall. Even though I despise buying games used, my options would be limited. Of course, it's probably just as well that I haven't had any luck, because I can't very well afford to get lost in another NIS game, especially when I abandoned poor Disgaea 2 once Final Fantasy XII barged into my bedroom last year.

Ah well. I'm glad to hear that Odin Sphere is awesome, though from the sounds of it, there aren't any people in the world who believe otherwise. And so I pose a question? Is there anybody who DOESN'T like Odin Sphere? I want to know the game's shortcomings, because hey, by now, we've all heard just how great the game is supposed to be. Kupomogli, where are you and your contraryness when I need it most?

Thanks, Jonezy! Write again soon. AND ACKNOWLEDGE MY MAD FPS SKILLZ!



Oh, I'm SOOOO evil.


You evil, evil man: taunting me with the sword with a Blue Mage requisite (making me doubt if my black mage/white mage path is right) AND a Blue Mage Medal! Just you wait!

Matt

Oh, it is you who will wait, for I am going to take two weeks off of Sock 2, effective immediately. Oh HO! You didn't see that coming, did you?

Anyway, I did end up picking up Atelier Iris 3. Figured I'd at least give it a shot, especially since the guild job thing is something I like. I dunno what it is about that kind of system I like - I think it's the idea of having sidequests built in and obvious into the very system of the game, miniature stories.

Matt

The original had something similar to that, though it was only to the point of collecting items and deliberately straying from recipes to try and find new combos... that was the only way to really dig into the side stories, which ultimately were more fulfilling than the main one, really. Eh, Atelier Iris isn't my thing, I don't think, but let me know how the third one treats you.

But I'm not going for it yet; still finishing Odin Sphere. The game does a good job of making the five main characters different enough, play-wise, that going through the same levels and having the same special abilities doesn't really matter. The difference is especially stark with the character I'm on, Meredith. She has much more money than either of the previous two characters, and a higher HP level (though not necessarily higher HP, which makes things interesting!) than weapon power level, which is reversed for the other two. Can't wait to see how the last two characters suss out!

Matt

*MUST RESIST TEMPTATION TO PURCHASE THIS GAME. MUST RESIST TEMPTATION TO PURCHASE THIS GAME.* No, really. I'm going to smack myself across the face or get someone else to if I end up falling for the ploys of all ye readers and buy this devious game.

I've also been thinking about DQ9. How much power is behind a DS anyway? If I were try to compare a PS2 game (like, say, DQ to a DS game (like, say, DQ9) as far as capacity for graphics, length, and just sheer STUFF, how would the balance be? I'm basically trying to figure out if DQ9 must necessarily be "smaller" than 8. Any idea?

'Til next time... (psst - SOCK rulez)

Matt

I think it must be. Sizewise... well, I don't really know how the whole thing works, or if it would be possible to have the game on two different DS cards, but the system itself is, I believe, around the strength of the N64 graphically, which puts it somewhere between the PS1 and PS2 in terms of graphics. Indeed, the graphics of IX, from the screenshots, don't look quite as pretty as those of DQVIII, but the style is awesome, and hey, it's a Dragon Quest game. You can bet that it's going to be a full-length RPG, because we haven't had a 30-hour DQ since the days of Dragon Warrior III sixteen years ago or so.

I'm glad you're liking my little game, Leaper. Yeah, I was kidding up above... the game is still on, so you can calm your probably-freaking-out self. Later!



Knowledge is power! Don't smoke.


Hey Matt.

According to a guide on GameFaqs, "For all the jobs, Job LV enhance battle performance by increase number of hits, chance of hits, physical damage, magical damage, magical recovery, etc. For some specific jobs, Job LV enhances their special actions, too. In one of the side quests, a job-specific ultimate equipment will also be unlocked if any character reaches Job LV 99." So yeah, something happens at level 99. But I'm not really sure it's worth it. The guide wasn't wrong, just misleading.

Because Knowledge Is Power!

~Kestral

Matt

Yeah... and it sounds like the benefits of Lv.99-ness are restricted exactly TO those people who enjoy cheatery and guide-reading, because there's no way I'd figure that out on my own. I have to admit that I did notice that my White Mage had incredibly potent magic by the end, which was fine enough, but I wouldn't have kept poor Arc on White forever if I had known there was nothing extra-special there at the end to unlock. Argh.

Thanks, ~Kestral, for the knowledge. You'd do well in Archades.



QUICKIES

aww, big playa patna, I like NBA2k7 yo. anyone else? anyone? aww, maaan.
kezzy

Matt
I got my ho over here, yo, so come on o' and we'll play some awful whitetrash brain-free games that live up to the awful stereotype that video games have been branded with since the beginning of time.

IN CLOSING

I've had a blast today. For tomorrow, I want some mail in m'box, because without it, I have no hopes of writing a column containing any. I'd hate to have to write to myself, you see.

Um, does anybody here not like Odin Sphere? I'm highly curious, because from the sounds of it, one would be led to think that we've got one of the best games of all time on our hands. Do we?

See you Wednesday, when I shall write again.



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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

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. Is there anybody out there who DOESN'T like Odin Sphere?

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

3. Are handhelds inherently limited in terms of potential greatness?

4. What is it about an RPG that keeps you coming back for more? Graphics? Story? Gameplay?

5. Which console RPG would you like to see legitimately in handheld form?



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