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ASK MATT
It's Time to Play Ketchup July 7, 2006

Matthew Demers - 19:01 EST

WE'RE GOING TO DO a letter-marathon, today! The nice thing about a letter-marathon is that, unlike a regular marathon, it doesn't leave you gasping for breath and completely exhausted by the end. Also, it won't take two and a half hours to read through it, I promise, and you won't need someone to shower you with a bottle of water halfway through.

To top that off, I have some fantastic news for PAL-gamers who are participating or who might want to participate in the SOCK, near the bottom. In addition, I've added about a dozen new and crazy items to the game, so absolutely anything can happen!

In any case, unless I actually get started, I'll never get to any questions, contests, or anything. Thus, I think it's time I started the race!




L E T T E R S
So it isn't really a question. Oh well!


Matteykins,

I saw the question that Donovan asked in your last column: why haven't companies jumped on board the PSP full-on with RPG development, as one has come to expect from the PlayStation brand name? Well, the answer is pretty simple, and as usual with business, it all comes down to money. And thankfully for your inquisitive readers, I just recently wrote an editorial on this very subject: http://www.rpgamer.com/editor/2006/q2/061906bb.html. Sure, it's shameless self-promotion, but it also provides the answer you and Donovan were looking for. PSP RPGs aren't getting made in high numbers because they just aren't selling. If their games don't sell, companies aren't going to make more. Meanwhile, for the most part, RPGs have been selling much better on the DS, and there have been a lot of hit sellers (Pokemon Ranger, Mario & Luigi, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Children of Mana, MegaMan Battle Network 5, Castlevania) so it's natural for publishers to say to themselves, "Okay, I guess this is where our development resources would be better spent."

Matt

That sounds about right to me. I'm not saying that this applies to EVERYONE, but the average PSP owner isn't really interested in RPGs. The average PSP owner is definitely more interested in pretty, fast-moving things, and is far more likely to invest in some football game or some boring old racing game than in an epic story. DS owners are, on average, more creative and open-minded folk, I think, with a greater likelihood of wanting to invest in things like puzzle games or RPGs. There's nothing bad or good about it; it's just the way it is.

Also, don't worry about self-promotion. It's not like I haven't ever gone down that road before, and I'm the big guy around here. Besides, your eds have always been bang-on, as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile, the biggest RPG company (Square Enix) picked the DS as its platform of choice, which is a big reason why the DS is leading in the RPG department -- Square Enix currently has eight projects for the DS versus only three for the PSP, two of which are just ports. So that's another thing that's caused the PSP's numbers to sag. I doubt Square Enix will abandon the PSP as a development platform, and I think they have a couple more big things coming, but it's also clear that they've slated the DS to receive the vast majority of their handheld projects... particularly with the ability to reuse their Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest DS game engines (we're already seeing that done with Crystal Chronicles).

Matt

And this is only for the next little while! The DS and PSP should, by all accounts, be around for two or three more years before there is talk about a next-generation handheld. If this wave of RPGs does well, just imagine how many other companies will be inspired to jump on the bandwagon and start developing their own. I honestly believe that the DS has an excellent chance of becoming the most RPG-friendly Nintendo system we've seen since the SNES by the end of its time. We should all rejoice!

And I agree with you, Matt, that there's no question which handheld at the moment is putting forth the much stronger RPG library at this point. There are definitely some nice looking PSP RPGs on the horizon (I'd highlight Okada's Monster Kingdom, Blade Dancer, and Legend of Heroes IV which is being developed by Falcom rather than Bandai), but, on the whole, the DS lineup is just slaughtering it. It reminds me of the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 in that every time you turn around, an awesome new RPG is being announced, and that's why it's the system exciting me the most at the moment. Give me Final Fantasy III, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Yggdrasil Labyrinth, Tales of the Tempest, Dragon Quest Monsters 4, Crystal Chronicles, Mana, Rune Factory, Castlevania, Metal Saga, MegaMan Rebirth, ASH, Magical Starsign, Lunar Knights, Tingle RPG, and Contact, please.

Cheers,
Aethie


Matt

And Pokémon! Don't forget Pokémon! And not only that, but there are also a ton of NON-RPGs that are also on the horizon, if you need a break every now and then. Within the next year, we'll also have a new Phoenix Wright game, a new Starfox, a sequel to Yoshi's Island, a new Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Megaman ZX, a Tomb Raider game, and much more; undeniably, there will be something for just about everyone.

Thanks for writing in, Aethelred! Go back and read his editorial, if you just skimmed over it; they're always fantastic.



*flails arms about crazily for this question*


Hey Matt

After looking at stuff for Wild Arms V (except for the Japanese part, seeing that I currently can't understand Japanese) I'm really hoping that it gets released here.Wild Arms is one of my favorite series. The first one is still one of my favorite games of all time, and I was really excited that WA : ACF was released here. I thought that it was a good re-make of the original, thought I can't really remember any of the misspellings in the game since I have an ability to spell the words correctly as they come up in my head. The only mistakes I noticed are the letters scrolling off the screen and very obvious world map bug.

Matt

Having never played the original, Wild Arms Alter Code: F was my first taste of the series. As most everyone knows around here, I was quite disappointed with what I got to taste, but I think that many significant problems could have been cleaned up simply by putting a little more effort into what was an atrocious localization. It is so obvious that the text in the game wasn't even proofread before its release, and coupled with the technical glitches, I was really unimpressed, especially when the things I really appreciate about RPGs- the storyline, battle system and music- were all fairly blah, more or less.

Now that I've pummeled the game into the ground again, I do understand that if Wild Arms is your favourite series, that you probably feel otherwise. That's absolutely fine! I'm excited that a fifth game is in the works, because it will definitely make a lot of people very happy; you're not the only WA-fan out there, after all!

Getting back to WAV. I'm glad that they're keeping the hex battle system. Well, thats all Ive got to say on the matter, since I really don't know anything else. Onto SOCK!

#248: e) not a single one
#249 b) The Strong-Arm Alchemist

LufiaLvr


Matt

I have heard good things about the hexagonal battle system of Wild Arms 4 as compared to the vanilla turn-based system of previous entries to the series. If it works, then I say GOOD! Run with it!

Thanks for your letter, O lover of Lufia!



MORE about Wild Arms V! Two questions in a row, for double the pleasure.


Hey there Matt

And I learned something from Alexander's answer to my letter, I did not know there were names for the classes of FF6

Matt

Neither did I. You've got to love the word "pictomancer" though!

I also learned apparently Bainick hates me just because I nuked him in the THONG, and I pray that that sentence is never used out of context

Matt

I guess only Bainick himself knows whether he sports a THONG regularly down in Australia, though we can all dream; apparently Aussie boys are supposed to be... er, what? OH, you were talking about the contest! Eeep!

All I can say in regards to Disgaea 3 is woohoo Disgaea 3!!! Like wise with Wild ARMS: The Vth Vanguard though I think that is a very odd title... but still woohoo Wild ARMS bring on the anime gunslinging and the puzzles there better be puzzles!!!

So my question for today is how in the world do you pronounce Vth? Fifth, Fiveth, Veeth?

Arros Raikou
*Can't help but imagine Ultimecia saying veeth*


Matt

I'm just curious why they'd switch to Roman Numerals. Presumably, it's "fifth", because "veeth" just sounds idiotic. And yes, if there is one thing that Wild Arms does well, based on my ACF experience, it is in the puzzle department, as long as the puzzles make sense. Puzzle boxes? Yes, please! Those light puzzles in the last tower? Now THOSE didn't make any sense.

I'm excited about the prospect of more Disgaea games as well! If they're anywhere close to the quality of the original, we're in for a treat (or many treats, depending on how many sequels we end up seeing).

In any event, thanks, Arros, for your latest in letters!



What are these, anyway? Mini-titles? Question-starters? Random pre-letter blips? It's hard to keep coming up with interesting ones all the time, that's for sure.


Well, the last QnA column certainly has me itching to reply. First off, I have to agree with Arros on the transforming character topic...the final boss of any given RPG *always* has roughly ten zillion forms you have to pummel your way through... whenever my character is the one transforming into something badass for once, I always get a tiny pang of sadistic glee. On a related note, as far as transforming characters go.... Serph and Sera (DDS1 and 2) have a very... *interesting* transformation. I rather enjoyed it.

Matt

I think it's better, though, when you actually have control over your transformed characters. Do you know HOW cool it would be to be able to take command of Vincent during his, uh, crazy phases in Final Fantasy VII? I like the Terra variety of transformation better, myself. The same thing goes with the spell of BeDragon in past Dragon Warrior/Quest games, which would transform the caster into a huge dragon that would then use breath attacks and act on its own every turn. Why they didn't bring that spell back for DQVIII is beyond me!

Also, in regards to character death.... yes, Aeris' death was very dramatic and all, but let's not forget other comrades who have dies in battle... one from Phantasy Star 2, and one from Phantasy Star 4 (no, I'm not telling you who. No spoilers from me). Watching a certain PC get killed in Phantasy Star 4 is probably one of my most remembered scenes in any RPG... the character was well developed, and one of my favorites... kinda bummed me out. What's worse than character death, though, is something I like to call "Nash syndrome." More specifically, characters who join your party, you equip them, then they leave and take your stuff, only to join your party again later... minus the loot you gave them.

Matt

UGH, yes! It's so true. It helps to make the death a little bit more painful on one level, though, just in case you haven't really become attached to the character him/herself. Hee hee.

All in all, I can't really think of many games outside of the Final Fantasy series where playable characters kick the bucket at one point or another. It's really weird, because it feels like there should be more. But there aren't, really.

And finally, I, too, have Must Buy Every RPG on it's Release Date Syndrome. This is an affliction I picked up during the Playstation era. Now, in the SNES days, RPGs weren't released all that often, so keeping up was easy. Then, after FFVII became approximately the most popular thing ever, RPGs started showing up left and right. Some of the great games I missed the first time, and had to buy off eBay later include Tales of Destiny, both Persona games, and Breath of Fire 3. If this wasn't bad enough, I missed out on Valkyrie Profile as well... I had rented it, loved it, and decided to buy it, but there was some other game I decided to buy first. I figured "Hey, I'll just buy it next time I come in." That... was a mistake. I have steadfastly refused to pay $150+ for the game on eBay, so the rerelease of the game on the PSP is a godsend to me. Anyhow... the end result is that I feel compelled to buy pretty much every RPG I'm interested in... even if I don't own the system. I bought Legend of Heroes LONG before I actually owned a PSP. I can't help but wonder how many other RPGamers out there have a similar condition.

-DDX

SOCK:

#248 - e) not a single one

#249 - b) The Strong-Arm Alchemist


Matt

Well, I'm worse that way than I used to be; I've never, however, purchased a game without first owning the system to play it on! Lately, I've been more inclined to pick up games as soon as they come out, because if I don't, I'm very liable to encounter spoilers. Tragically, Dragon Quest VIII's final boss was spoiled for me by an inconsiderate reader even though I got the game on Day #1- I just didn't play through the game fast enough! I'll be buying Final Fantasy XII on the first day, too, to try and avoid a similar fate. With SO many interesting RPGs on the horizon, though, this could end up being an exceptionally expensive fall...



*flails arms about crazily for this question*


A few words on this horrible report of yet more expensive PS3 games: someone needs to make Sony stop. There is no good explanation for this kind of pricing - and that goes for the $60 XBox 360 games, too. Video games have become an exceedingly popular medium; there is no way this is a supply and demand issue (you know, the same half-assed, utterly made-up excuse for how gas prices in the U.S. have doubled). Nor do I buy the possibility that because they're on these new-fangled blu-ray discs, we should be paying more. Certainly not $15-plus more per title. The only way that kind of increase makes any sense is if these things are fashioned out of gold, or solidified out of petroleum.

Matt

Indeed. I'd find $80 or $90 games downright offensive. It reminds me of the N64 days, when you'd walk down the video game aisle and see prices leaping out at you that made your eyes widen- and look what happened to that console! Expensive games are not going to attract extra people to your system. The whole "you're paying for UBERTECHNOLOGY" argument only goes so far.

In 1995, I paid $80 for Chrono Trigger. I paid $80 for Final Fantasy 6. In no way do I regret those purchases. The enjoyment I've gotten out of those two games made that $160 very well spent. I should let my dad know that some time, the poor dope. He actually drove me around to stores all around the county, after working a full day's shift, to find me a copy of FF6. And plop down $80 for it!

Wow, my dad's a hell of a guy.

Matt

Oh, and my mom and dad too, though I remember seeing the $99.99 pricetags for the NES versions of Dragon Warrior III and IV in Toys R Us thirteen years ago and feeling downright depressed, only because I felt like I couldn't even dare ask for something so valuable. What a sad thing that is! Kids shouldn't feel sick about money at the age of nine! It's sad to think that another generation of kids might feel the same way once again.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah. Maybe I'm showing my age saying this, but my defining, archetype-establishing games have come and gone. I will never again see a single piece of software I'd be willing to pay $80 for. Hell, I make it my business to not pay full price for the $50 games we have NOW. Out of the ten or so games I've picked up in the last several months (an unusual period of spending not to be repeated likely for the rest of my natural life), I paid $50 for exactly ONE - Kindgom Hearts II - and it was because I knew the game was way too popular to drop in price anytime soon, or be available for much cheaper anywhere else.

Few things piss me off more than blatant grabs for consumer dollars, and that's what this is. It's bad enough Sony is overcharging to an absurd degree for the system itself. Ramping up the price of their games even more implies little more than arrogant greed.

I'm getting dangerously close to avoiding the PS3 altogether, software lineup be damned. What good will it do me to own a system that plays great games I can't afford to buy?

-TV's Adam


Matt

Well, suffice it to say, you're not the only one who feels this way. The idea of this new console is causing a lot of pain for a lot of people, especially those who have remained loyal to Sony for the past ten years, and I can't say I blame them. I only hope that this sentiment is largely blown out of proportion and that it isn't long after its release that we see reasonable prices for both console and games alike. Reasonable, that is, for everyday joes like you and I.

Thanks a lot, Adam, for writing in with your feelings on the subject!



Questionably Erroneous Wackos


Hey Matt (or Alexander),

Hope everyone had a nice time catching up on some game time over the break. Me, I was in the great country of, that’s right you guessed it, Canada! And not too far from you Matt. I was visiting Niagra and Toronto with some friends, and wow was the traffic bad. Is it always like that or was it was Canada Day? My car ended up overheating so I spent a few hours watching traffic fly by. I never wanted a DS more in my life than at that point. I think I’m gonna go out later and get one. I passed the exit for Guelph and was tempted to stop by and see your town, but by the time I explained why I wanted to stop to my friends it was too late. (>_<) What does the Q.E.W. stand for by the way?

Matt

The traffic in these parts is actually not that bad, most of the time, though rush hours in the Toronto area can tend to get a bit hairy. By and large, Ontario has a top-notch road system, and you can tell that simply by driving over the border into either Quebec or Michigan: You go from a smooth, soft ride, to a spine-shattering one in a flash!

And hey, if you had come on over, you could have come to my house. I guess I wouldn't have been there, but you would have been welcome nonetheless- I'd have left some strawberries out for you to munch on, maybe. Oh, and the QEW stands for the "Queen Elizabeth Way", and is the main expressway between Niagara Falls and Toronto; notably, people drive like psychos on that highway.

This is Q&A so I should probably ask a question. Hmmmmm….ah, Which type (“traditional” styled graphics (sprites) versus “realistic” graphics (3D Polygons)) do you feel stand the test of time better? I feel its easier to go back and play a game from NES with its graphics than say early Playstation. I’m not sure if its because the NES and SNES were more of caricatures (and you have no idea how long it took me find the correct spelling for that word) of the real world and newer games are more literal representations. Somehow by stylizing the game it becomes more believable and therefore more “real” Also, the newest graphics out there don’t seem to last very long nowadays. I’m starting to ramble myself into confusion, hopefully you can make some sense out of that.

I guess I’ll take a stab at SOCK
#244: e) Final Fantasy VII (Reeve)
#245: b) Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

The Dark Chevalier *wanders aimlessly lost in thought*


Matt

No, no, no, you're making perfect sense. Sprites, hands-down, is my answer! Don't you remember looking at Final Fantasy VII's polygons and thinking "oh, man... graphics just can't get much better than this!" Now, we're laughing. Look at games like the original Wild Arms, too! We make fun of the battle graphics because of how incredibly primitive they look. When we talk about sprites, though, sure, they're two-dimensional, but the detail is still there, and in games like FFVI, a lot could be done with them anyway to convey a really great story quite effectively.



Oblivia Newton John. AHAHAHA!


Oblivion:
The only game on my backlog that mocks me right now is Oblivion. I was anxious for the game to come out as I had recently upgraded my PC after years of living with 98 as my OS. I got the game and it was indeed a gorgeous game. The mechanics were new to me as I had never played an Elder Scrolls game before. Once I got the hang of it I began to experiment with different races and skillsets. There is a whole lot to do and work with that I kinda got sidetracked from the main quest and just went exploring. After several weeks I had to cut back on gaming drastically as more important real life issues came about. Now that I am back into a gaming mood I have yet to load up the game for some reason or another. I don't think I was burned out on it but at this point I would probably want to start with a new character and I just have been putting it off. PC gaming just isn't as fun as it used to be for me and I think its because I do a lot of multitasking when I have free time at home and getting drawn back into Oblivion at this point would not be ideal.

Matt

Interesting. It's been a couple of days since I sent the call out to Oblivion players, and I've received very little response! I'm beginning to wonder if Oblivion has become, in a way, "the RPG for non-RPGamers" because the game IS selling exceptionally well and IS very popular, no matter how many people around here are interested in it.

Marathon gaming:
Maybe what I need to ease back into PC gaming is a Wizardry marathon. With all the data transfer between games I really only need to create characters 2 or 3 times total.

Xlash the dwarf berserker


Matt

PC gaming just isn't for everyone! I sat down at E3 and played the PC version of Oblivion alongside a couple of other RPGamer Staffers for close to half an hour inside the Bethesda booth, where they offered us some of the most delicious cookies and brownies I've ever eaten. The game was beautiful, and it was fine, but it's just not something I could ever really get into, I don't think, based on that experience. When PC games become less... unlike consoles... I'll probably be more likely to give them a serious whirl myself.



Another old-time Q&A writer-inner strikes!


Hey, Matt, & Welcome, Alexander,

Matt

Darn! I wish I had been able to get more of these dually-addressed letters up in yesterday's column. Oh well, my apologies.

I was thinking about the PS3 & its games pricing issues. While I agree that the prices being bandied about are exorbitant, I can remember swearing I was going to quit smoking when they raised the price to 50 cents a pack (I told you I was old), & I was going to start taking the bus & sell my car when gas went to 99 cents a gallon. Now here I am lighting a smoke while I get in my car to go to work. What I have done is cut down. A carton lasts two weeks & I make a tank of gas last a month. So I guess if the games do cost $99.99, I'll only buy the ones I REALLY want. Either that or I'll stockpile new PS2s so I can play my library & have backup machines. Of course that would leave me with no source for new games. Wii or 360 - at this point, I'll wait. Mario, Zelda, Metroid - not my cup of tea. I'm also concerned that developers will get too caught up in trying to use the new controller in ways that will annoy me. Lost Odyssey & Blue Dragon sound interesting, but who knows what they'll be like at this point not to mention that two games doesn't make it worth it to purchase a console. Oh, Sony, thanks so much for making my awful year that much more rancid.

Matt

It's true, and I can understand your Wii-worries. That said, I think that there's the potential of great success, even in the RPG realm. Wait and see, and perhaps your worries will be unfounded (or proven).

I'm sure that a lot of people will follow a strategy similar to the one you're thinking of taking, but cutting down is going to be nothing but detrimental to the company anyway, right? If people are far choosier about which games they invest in, I can bet that fewer new games and MORE sequels will see smashing successes, which is something that I don't think is a good thing. People will invest in what they know they'll like, or what they've liked in the past, and will be less likely to pick up a brand new idea. This could stifle the genre, one that is already too-heavily dependent on successful sequels and remakes than on new, creative ideas.

On an upbeat note, I know that you, like me, were disappointed in the first Atelier Iris game. I've been playing the 2nd one & have to tell you it is a vast improvement. My only complaint is that they made your opponents a bit too easy. Fights would actually take quite a bit of strategy if they'd made your foes more difficult. The glitches have been worked out (it hasn't frozen or skipped). Overall it's quite an enjoyable game.

Matt

That's good to hear! I've heard similar things from other people, though it's a bit disappointing that the game hasn't beefed up in difficulty at all. I'm guessing, though, that most of the first Atelier Iris game's fanbase isn't out there in the RPG world looking for a huge challenge; the games are, after all, fairly light-hearted, as the decidedly pastel palette and cute hand-drawnness might tell you from the getgo.

I was also sad to see Working Designs close shop. There are a few companies that still try to do good by us. Atlus, NIS, & my personal favorite XSEED. I know they've only put out 2 games so far, but here's why I'm so psyched with them. First, they put a wonderful questionaire on their site regarding our opinions on WA4 & what we'd like to see (or not see) in WA5. They even allow you to write commentary! Even better, I had sent them & email & received a PERSONAL reply (as opposed to some standard email - you know the, "Thank you for writing..." one you get where you know noone even read yours). The only other company to do this (in my experience) was Working Designs. So I'm excited to see what they do in the future.

Matt

Imagine that: A game company that cares about the people that buys their games! What a concept! That's really good to hear. Hopefully they'll take suggestions to heart and use them to improve the next game even more.

On the side, isn't it peculiar how many people have written in about Wild Arms for today?

Lastly, I have to ask, where did you see someone eating a candy bar with cutlery?!

Jbumi


Matt

Oh, it was Tom, my boyfriendish housemate who I've known since the beginning of time or so. He's a big Seinfeld fan, and apparently, he thought it would be funny the other night to sit down and start cutting a frozen Snickers bar with a knife and fork. Silly.

It's nice to hear from you, Jbumi! It's been awhile, and I'm glad to see you're doing well.



Reviewing, in review


Hi Matt, Do you have a hard time writing game reviews? I have a terrible time because I can never tell if I'm being impartial or not. Often I'll read a low review for a game that I love and after some thought realize that the things that bothered the reviewer also bothered me, but another aspect of the game was so awesome to me that I didn't notice the flaws. For example, I read once that Star Ocean 2 has horrid voice acting and long spell animations. I didn't really pay attention the first time because I loved the combat, the plot, and the character of Dias Flac, but after a third or so playthrough, I heard myself say, "What does that even mean '50 points'?!" Have you ever loved a game so much that you completely overlooked an egregious flaw? Have you tried to review this game? And on the flip side, have you tried to review a game that mostly good but had one or two flaws that were absolute deal-breakers for you? #248: e #249: d cap


Matt

What an interesting question. I've written four reviews at RPGamer so far; one for Atelier Iris, one for Makai Kingdom, one for Wild Arms: ACF, and one for Riviera: The Promised Land. I really enjoy writing reviews, because they can help me to formulate a concrete opinion about a game. To me, I try my best to approach reviews with an open mind, and for that reason, I try to wait at least a couple of weeks between finishing a game and writing the review; thus, any shining or hateful feelings towards the game I had will have long since dissipated.

Sometimes, I realize while I'm writing about a game a few things that I never really noticed explicitly while actually playing, and because of that, I might end up giving a much different score than I ever would have thought initially. Sometimes, that isn't the case. I think that breaking a game down into several different components and looking at each one critically is a productive way to come up with a justified opinion of that game, which of course is a good thing for someone like me to have.

And, to answer your last questions, I've reviewed two different games that received vastly lower scores than they might have potentially received if it weren't for a single issue. As I've mentioned above, Wild Arms Alter Code: F was made highly unpleasant just because the entire thing felt like an amateur, thrown-together game that went entirely untested. If more care had been taken, I might have scored the game at a 3 or a 3.5 instead of the lowly 2 I gave it in the end.

Makai Kingdom is the other game, which also felt a little bit hastily made and altogether too brief. I think if there is one "deal breaker" for me, then, it is the amount of care that is put into a game. If it's evident that a lot of work has gone into a title, and that it "feels good" in that it's adequately polished and complete, then it's much more likely that it will score highly with someone like me.

Thanks, Cap, for writing in again!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

For those of you who lova-da-letters, you should have had your fill today! I still can't believe how many times Wild Arms came up... how random. It's nice for the focus to not be completely Final-Fantasy-centric for once!

Flashay!


***Answers to July 6th's Questions***

#248. e) not a single one - 375 points/750 for Gaijin (According to Gaijin, in order to get all 8 Love Spirits, you cannot catch a single gummy frog in the wild for the entire game.)

#249. d) Jewel-based thief/assassin/shop clerk - 420 points (This was Alexander's question, and not many of you got this one right. Option d) referred to the only Alexandra of the bunch, from Legend of Mana. The others, of course, were Alexes or Alexanders.)


***Today's New Questions***

#250: Grant, expert thrower-of-knives and clinger-to-ceilings, could join you on your quest after a trip up a stage featuring a background music with what name? (390 points)

a) Clockwork
b) Aquarius
c) Anxiety
d) Rising
e) Pressure


Reader-Submitted #251: An 80 year-old female has experienced a severe myocardial infarction. Your treatment might include administration of vasodilator drugs such as hydralazine or nitroglycerine. Why? (420 points)

a) preload would be increased
b) heart rate would be increased
c) stroke volume would be reduced
d) afterload would be reduced
e) none of the above


I'm just about finished introducing new items for the time being. I added about a dozen to the list of potentials, so read up and find out what could be in store!

There's bigger news, though: There will soon be PAL-format games on the list of prizes to win, thanks to the generosity of ~Sean~~, who we hear from every now and then! Work hard and scale the ranks, and you might get your hands on one of them one day! Watch the SOCK shop next week to see what titles in particular are up for grabs!

--------------------------
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 after a week, 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!)
  • Gilgamesh
--------------------------

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 Point Doubler (1 left) or Blizzard Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Point Tripler (2 left) or Mythril Sword (1 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Light Converter (1 left) or Haste Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Firaga Spell (2 left) or Super Sneak Glove (1 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Item Magnet (2 left) or Warp Stone (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 (1 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. The instructions are in each, but the jewel cases are cracked from use. (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 was quite the column, wasn't it? It's the last one you'll get out of me this week, but never fear, because as always, I'll return next Tuesday to continue my quest to bring you the best of answers and questions. For all of you out there waiting for responses to letters, don't despair! I'll do my best to answer you as soon as I can.

Have a fantastic weekend, everybody!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt wants a Blizzard (from Dairy Queen)!


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There is nothing more wonderful than a Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard. I could do without the Xtreme spelling, though...

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What is Matt playing?

1. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

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1. Final Fantasy III

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3. Xenosaga: Episode III

SOCK's Top 25:

1. Alexander
20,446 pts

2. Macstorm
19,225 pts

3. Alan Tse
17,098 pts

4. BigWook
16,749 pts

5. Aurelius
16,042 pts

6. Kanato
14,842 pts

7. Bainick
14,741 pts

8. Erika
13,293 pts

9. MagRowan
12,467 pts

10. DMJewelle
11,245 pts

11. Colabottle
11,196 pts

12. TV's Adam
10,495 pts

13. Cap
10,224 pts

14. JokingChimer
9,978 pts

15. Dermot
9,676 pts

16. FinalDelerium
9,147 pts

17. LufiaLvr
8,975 pts

18. Belthasar2
8,113 pts

19. Flamethrower
7,653 pts

20. Knighttrain
6,604 pts

21. Purelunatic
6,515 pts

22. Xlash
6,242 pts

23. Leaper
6,025 pts

24. Gaijin
5,478 pts

25. Gilgamesh
5,068 pts

26. Arros Raikou
3,996 pts

27. Donovan
3,780 pts

28. BLG
3,188 pts

29. Bucket
2,860 pts

30. Tabor
2,555 pts

31. Kyre7lar
2,520 pts

32. Rexy
2,284 pts

33. Angus Creighton
1,640 pts

34. Megan
1,620 pts

35. JuMeSyn
1,615 pts

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