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ASK MATT
Seven-Eleven July 11, 2006

Matthew Demers - 19:03 EST

WELCOME TO ASK MATT, Part CXLIV! I hope you enjoy the show!

This week, we have plenty in store. New prizes in the form of PAL-format games are just waiting to be won in the everlasting SOCK, finally, and we also have Xlash returning as a third-time guest host later in the week! Most of all, though, your questions and answers are just waiting to be answered. I'll get on that right now!



L E T T E R S
Mini-conspiracy theories, Sony style.


Thinking about your comment in yesterday's column on sticking to the new PS2 games coming out since the PS3 and its games are going to be exhorbently high, I was wondering, if that was not the intention of Sony?

Consider this, whether you buy PS3 or PS2, they're still getting your money reguardless. So what if they are pricing the new hardware/software high, for the serious, big buck enthusiasts, and to keep the masses, keep producing new PS2 games are regular price.

I mean, with all that high-priced stuff coming you, a consumer is more likely to spend full price or near full price for the new games for the 'older' system, thinking '$60 isn't bad'. You said it yourself, that you would rather invest in multiple new games for the PS2 rather than get a full priced PS3.

Or maybe I'm just being paranoid...

Have a great one!
Maggie ^_^


Matt

It's true that myself and many other gamers will be continuing to invest heavily in PS2 games this fall without purchasing a PS3; there's just too much good stuff coming out.

An interesting point, though. Could Sony be putting the pricepoint initially very high in order to hold off most of its sales until the Blu-Ray technology comes down in price, thus making it easier to make money off of the system and games? To me, I doubt it. You're right, that either way, they're getting my money, but based on the comments we've heard from certain Kutaragis, it really does sound like they're just pricing things high because they can. He has a point; there are people out there who would buy just about anything entitled "Playstation" by now, no matter how expensive it would be. However, Sony is forgetting that they make most of their money through the average gamer. Do a search on Google for "PS3", and sift through a few pages of results. The negative sentiment is tangible at this point, through news articles, editorials, forums, and more. I can't help but feel strongly that this is going to spell bad news for the current #1 video game console company.



RPG Potpourri


Greetings. It's me again.

Today I don't really have much of a question to ask, but I have a few things I'd like to share.

Matt

Awesome. Share away!

I just recently bought and finished Xenosaga Episode 1 for the first time. (Yes, I have a habit of letting certain games sit on the shelves for years before I muster up the courage to pick them up.) I must say, I was very impressed. Being a somewhat story-oriented RPGamer, I was in heaven watching cutscenes that went on for 30+ minutes. At the same time, I was also impressed with the battle and skill systems. Very complex, and quite possible to spend long amounts of time in the menu screen buffing up your characters-something that I love doing. The turn-based combat managed to break away from the norm enough to be interesting, although towards the end of the game it seemed like I was just using the same techs and strategies over and over.

Matt

Indeed. If you're in the market for a complex battle system, convoluted storyline, and you also like to micromanage your characters, Xenosaga: Episode I is the game for you, too. Yes, you.

You're right, though, Oliver- both Xenosagas suffer from that "battle-system-gets-old" problem, which rears its head by the end of each game. Especially with Episode II.

So overall I was impressed, and I was thirsty for more when I saw "to be continued" after the credits were done. So I went and did some reading up on episode II. To my disappointment, according to these reviews, Monolith soft has dumbed down the skill system, screwed around with the battle system, and WORST of all, they've shortened the cutscenes!! No, no, no, NO! I am now wondering whether or not I should buy episode II. I'd like to see the continuation of the story, but I'm afraid that M.S may have not only dumbed down the skill system, but the storytelling as well. And that would just be painful. So tell me, Matt; would it be worth my time?

Matt

Episode II is far from a total write-off, and I'd predict that if you liked Episode I that much, you'll still manage to enjoy II. I do think it's an inferior game; the most disappointing things for me were the removal of the database and e-mail systems, and the simplification of the skill system. Also disturbing: No money to be found, which seems kind of odd. After all, where in the world did it go from Episode I to Episode II?

In my eyes, though, the storytelling is equally good. There are plenty of cutscenes, and I didn't really notice a very significant difference in their length from I to II. I personally think that most of the voice acting is better in Episode II, with the definite exception of KOS-MOS, whose voice will make your jaw drop in disgust. chaos, on the other hand, has a way-sexy voice now, rather than that high-pitched, nasal one he had in Ep. I. Also going for Episode II are prettier graphics, though the drastic change in style is a bit "weird" at first, and better music, in that a) it exists, and b) while there is the occasional annoying track, there are many absolutely awesome ones as well. That said, you'll probably hate the music, because I seem to be the only person on the planet who loved the soundtrack to Xenosaga: Episode II.

Give it a try, especially if you liked Episode I. My brother liked II more than one, and there a couple of people in RPGamer's staff that would agree with him as well. And above all, look forward to Episode III, to be released in a few short months!

One game that I don't think I've ever seen mentioned in this column is Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the GBA. Upon my having recently aquired a DS Lite, I went and bought it, as I hear that it's rather crucial in order to fully understand Kingdom Hearts II. Now I know you've never played this game, but I thought that I'd just say that I'm rather enjoying it. The gameplay is very lacking- you literally do nothing but walk from plot point to plot point, getting into fights. However, the boss battles are enjoyable. The reason why I'm enjoying the game so much is because of the story, which is really quite excellent-I think it outclasses KH1 in that respect. So really, it's an example of a game that is enjoyable purely for its plot, which, to me, is not necessarily a bad thing. I wrote in a while ago stating that I believe plot should always come over gameplay, and I still think that that's true. But in retrospect-if you enjoy a game, whether it's for plot or gameplay, does it really matter which? At times a bad plot or bad gameplay can completely ruin a game, but in cases like KH: COM, I'm enjoying the great plot in spite of the bad gameplay. This is also why I will *probably* buy and enjoy Dirge of Cerberus. Of course, in my opinion, the truly great RPG's are the ones that manage to get them both right. Great gameplay powered by a well-written plot is when RPG's reach their pinnacle.

Matt

Good call. And you're right, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories never gets mentioned in this column, though you've officially changed that now. A lot of people find its departure from the original in terms of gameplay to be unacceptable, and others like yourself seem to enjoy it. It is, of course, still much less popular than its similarly-titled siblings, all told.

And yes... gameplay without plot, or vice-versa, can still result in a game that's lots of fun to play, and I think that extends well beyond the RPG genre. Otherwise, people would never enjoy playing sidescrolling Mario games, right? I can't really think of any non-RPGs with overemphasis on story over gameplay, but I'm sure some exist out there somewhere. Games SHOULD be played for fun, and I'm glad you're buying Dirge of Cerberus for that reason; as long as you can actually play it, there's almost no question that you'll be in for a good story.

I shall add my two cents to this topic about music in RPG's. Some of my favorite musical accompaniments include Aerith's death in FF7- (The freaking statute of limitations has GOT to be up. If you are on RPGamer and that was seriously a spoiler for you, then, well, you have issues.) Anyways, I loved how the music continued to play throughout the jenova-LIFE battle. I also must mention another scene FF7; the "reunion", when everyone finally reached the Northern Crater, and Sephiroth showed himself, the song "Those chosen by the planet" starts playing. The creepy tone of that song fit the scene incredibly well.

Matt

Oh, absolutely. Oliver, you've hit on the real reason I'm here doing Q&A right now. I discovered RPGamer because of Final Fantasy VII; after I returned the Playstation I rented along with the game to the Chatham Blockbuster back in the tenth grade, I came home and immediately did an online search to try and find some Final Fantasy music. What did I find? The beginnings of what is now our Sound Test section and a plethora of MIDIs for me to become obsessed with - enough to cause me to re-rent the system and game just a few months later, JUST to play through it again.

The music, and the timing and placement of that music, was absolutely bang-on in Final Fantasy VII. It's one of the many reasons that VII remains one of my favourite games of the series to this very day.

FFX has my favorite soundtrack of any videogame, ever. One of the reasons that I love that game's plot so much is because it always had a very epic feel given to it by the music. One of my favorite instances in that game is in the Macalania Temple, when Seymour betrays you and you battle him for the first time, his theme song plays throughout the fight. Another slightly more controversial favorite of mine is the song "otherworld", and when it played during the boss fight against Jecht in FFX. Otherworld is certainly a strange composition for the FF series, but for some reason it really seemed to click during that particular battle.

Matt

Definitely. I loved Otherworld, and I think that most people would agree with us when we say that Final Fantasy X had a very, very strong musical score- my favourite of the series as well. It's too bad that you couldn't hear most of Otherworld in that game, due to the fact that that battle lasted about twenty-three seconds. Really, a final boss with just 25% more HP than some of the random-battle monsters? Come ON! Final Fantasy XII had better present an improvement in that department.

Here's a question for you. What's your favorite final boss music of an RPG? Final boss music is very important to me, and it's something I look forward to hearing. My personal favorite is One-winged angel from FFVII, although Dancing Mad from FF6 follows close behind. Maybe I'm a Lion/The Extreme from FF8 are both pretty good, and while it's fresh on my mind, Xenosaga's final boss theme kicked ass as well. (Dunno what it's called, though.)

Matt

I love this question, because there are so many to choose from, and I like so many. There's no question that One-Winged Angel was yet another reason why I discovered this site. I have so many others, though, that I absolutely adore. I agree that Final Fantasy VI and VIII both had awesome final battle themes. Star Ocean: The Second Story has a lesser-known one, though; Integral Body and Imperfect Soul is one of the most evil tunes I have ever listened to in an RPG, and I am absolutely crazy about it. I could, however, travel all the way back to the NES days and point out Necrosaro's boss theme from Dragon Warrior IV. In my pre-teen years of gaming, it was far and away the most effective final boss theme I had ever heard at the time, and I still love it, even in its lowly NES quality.

I also wonder why games like Oblivion are rarely mentioned in this column, and I think you may have hit on something when you said that Oblivion is the type of RPG that appeals to non-RPGamers. And it's not just Oblivion either; I know many people who are addicted to World of Warcraft who won't go near a Final Fantasy game, or any console RPG for that matter. People like this also seem to enjoy games like Diablo, Knights of the Old Republic, (another rarely-mentioned title), and other such "american" RPG's. Basically, it seems to me like these people enjoy the less-narrative, more open-ended RPG's. (Or to put it simply, these are the kind of people who generally can't stand watching cutscenes or reading dialogue.)

Thanks very much,
Oliver.


Matt

I think it's true; it's the impression I've gotten from reading about it here and there on the web. I'm not sure if it's a "This RPG is acceptable to play because it has pretty graphics" thing, or if it's a "This RPG is acceptable to play because it doesn't have random battles and stupid turn-based gameplay" thing. Perhaps you're right; maybe it's just the open-endedness that turns people on. Whatever it is, Oblivion isn't entirely for non-RPG-enthusiasts, as the next letter will prove.

Thanks, Oliver, for your look into all of those subjects!



An Oblivion player! *grovels*


Matt!

I might have an idea of why no one talks about Oblivion despite it's good sales...It's rather intimidating to talk about! Honestly, I'm trembling(not really) just trying to think of all the wonderful things to say about it. Not to mention it's a HUGE, HUGE game.

Matt

In my best Match Game-styled reply: "How HUGE is it??"

I've stopped playing due to a backlog, but I have every intention of returning to it. When I first got the game I was very overwhelmed by the scope of the game, I didn't know where to start! It was actually a rather large learning curve for me especially considering I've played very few western RPGs...In fact, by nature I'm very much a JRPGamer...but wow, was I amazed at the depth and quality of this game.

The immersion factor in this game is top notch, you get to name, create, and customize what type of character you wish to play as. Not to mention whether you want to be a do-gooder or a good-for-nothing. It's also not so simple as making a textual choice to be bad or good, it actually depends on the actions you take as you play. I, of course, chose to be good (I always do on the first play through on any game), but there were a number of chances I could've killed/stolen from/lied to many a NPC for my personal gain. You can also be somewhat in-between, although you'll have to remain unseen during criminal acts. Now, some games have done this kind of thing before, (the only one I can think of is Fable) but this is on a MUCH broader scale.

Matt

There's no question that it's an enormous game. That ability to forge your own story and to hammer out your own character details is very attractive to many people. I'm not sure if it's out of habit, but most of the time, I just like having a pre-defined character and a more linear plotline.

On the other hand, there are so many people out there that absolutely love games like this, where there exists an enormous amount of freedom to grow in character, however the player wants to. When I walked out of the Bethesda booth at E3 after playing the game, one of the first things I said was "That's a game that would be dangerous for my sister to get into." Coincidentally, or perhaps not-so-coincidentally, she's also a huge fan of Fable.

There are a number of things this game does better than most. For one, the sidequests...There are a LOT of sidequests in this game and they are of such high quality in terms of story and gameplay, you get just as much satisfaction and reward from the sidequests as you would with the main. In fact, a number of sidequests often branch in terms of path & outcome and it will even affect whomever was involved in said sidequest. I was also very taken by the NPCs in this game...They actually have lives outside of your field of vision and can even be seen committing some lewd acts if you follow them around long enough...I don't know, I just found it so entertaining to follow a random NPC and not have him/her either walk back and forth or make the same rounds repeatedly.

It's so hard to talk about Oblivion in a nutshell, it may very well be the reason why many never even start to write you a letter about it.

HeeHo


Matt

Well, I'm certainly glad that you took the time! Whatever the reason, it's true that people haven't been writing in on this game, which has been one of the (if not THE) best-selling RPG of 2006 so far.

It IS nice when RPGs take the time out to make NPCs into more realistic people, instead of simple space-fillers that repeat the same one-liner over and over again. Of course, there are a few different games that take that road: If you haven't, check out Radiata Stories and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the first ones that come to my mind. I think that more complex MPCs really help to deepen the world a lot, and make it more immersive and realistic.

My appreciation, Mr. HeeHo, for telling us what you have to say on the subject of the newest Elder Scrolls game! Perhaps we'll get a few others to weigh in with their opinions, thanks to you.



A gamble worth taking?


Hey Matt.

And no Arros I don't hate you. I"M JUST VERY VERY LONELY!! But enough Comedy (Inc) humour, onward with thou slims Socks! (And we never, NEVER want to see me in any other thong, bar THONG)( "Shudder the thought" Bain).

Matt

OK, OK. I'll keep my lewd commentary to a minimum. At least for awhile. Mweeheehee...

Anywho, surposedly Wild Arms 4 is ment to be coming to PAL consoles in September (Damn its not like I don't have 4 other games i'll be wanting that month). So any hints as if it would be worth it? Other games i'm probably going to "Aquire" ("You mean beg your mommy to get it" Bain) are (Deep breath) Kingdom Hearts 2, FF 12, Harvest Moon:MM, Suikoden 5, HM:DD, Twilight Princess, Disgaea 2, and Shin Magame Tensel: Gigital Devil Saga. And those are the ones I know of at the moment!

Matt

This is the incredible battle that many of us have to face this fall. There is a sick number of amazing looking RPGs on the way, and I really don't know how I'm going to handle it, either. Speaking of which, I actually just got finished watching the latest Xenosaga: Episode III trailer, and it looks absolutely fantastic.

But yeah, as to Wild Arms 4, I don't know. I've only played Alter Code F, and needless to say, I wasn't very impressed. On the other hand, though, WA4 seems to have made some very significant changes to its style of gameplay and it could very well mark a huge improvement in the series; indeed, many people wrote in after I expressed disappointment with ACF, saying "don't give up, 4 is better". So, sure. If you have a few extra bucks to throw around, and you're feeling curious, then give it a whirl. Just report back to me and tell me what you think of it, in case you do!

Anyway I have Utopia Kingdoms to conquer so bar from a letter to Ouro to try to earn that Guest THONG (His surposedly airing out 5 of them!) and the sock questions fairwell to we meet anon!

Bainick had to wait 5 hours to use the Net, and its already Sunday too!

Time for the guessing game

250: A
251: E

Bainick has read 175 8 bit comic strips in 3 hours on a modem!


Matt

Have fun with that! Your waiting-to-use-dial-up reminds me (painfully) so much of being back at home with the family. There's a reason that I take time off from writing these columns while I'm there- it would take me twelve hours to do them, given the loathesomely sluglike speed of the connection there.

In any case, thanks Bainick, for sending in your question!



Hats off to the sprites of yore~


"Don't you remember looking at Final Fantasy VII's polygons and thinking "oh, man... graphics just can't get much better than this!""

Actually, Matt, I don't. I'm a little older than you, and while I loved how much more ambitious Square became with FF7, all I remember about my reaction to the graphics was horror. Sprites may not have been capable of a huge amount, but they were effectively evocative just by being so abstract--something you couldn't say about the eerie Raggedy Ann figures that populated FF7. Did Cloud ever have an emotional reaction to anything over the entire course of the game? You might have been able to tell from the dialogue, but not from the artwork.

Matt

*gives a trademark Cloud shoulder-shrug as a response*

You do have a good point- I guess I was also talking about the in-battle character graphics and/or FMV sequences of Final Fantasy VII, both of which glued even my parents to the TV for the first evening and made me want to cry with delight. "THIS is the sequel to that other game you always play, Matt??!? What's next, holographic projections??"

In retrospect, of course, things are a lot different for me. Of course you're right- the super-polygonal character sprites were definitely not as efficient as conveying emotions as the sprites from games like FFVI and Chrono Trigger, and arguably, one could say that the field-map character graphics were a little bland even in FFVIII and IX... though with many more complicated gestures than shrugs, I don't think they suffered as badly as VII did.

It's easy to forget that those simple sprites could do a really fantastic job of expressing anger, sorrow, amusement, excitement, surprise, and more.

Polygons have come a long way since then, but I was very worried when FF7 took off like it did--I saw RPGs going in a direction I didn't want to follow. (In truth, that didn't really happen until Square dragged us down the MMORPG path.)

-Mike


Matt

Heh, indeed. That's a path I didn't follow either, as I'm sure you've picked up on. Luckily for us, a few million others chose not to as well, so I don't think we'll ever be condemned to playing things in the massively multiplayer style to sate our appetites for RPGs. As FFX (and XII, I'm sure) have proved, it's evident that the expressiveness of the past is back in spades; polygons have indeed come of age, and your worries in that department should be banished.

Thanks, Mike!



SOCKtastic!


I see from Ouro's column that you finished Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Now you know what you must do: find its predecessor, Fire Emblem (7). I liked it more than 8, but to be fair I didn't spend as much time with Sacred Stones, only enough to do one path. You'll love it for sure.

Matt

As a matter of fact, while I DID get past the game, I shut it off upon reaching a save screen- poor Duessel fell during the final battle, but seeing as it was the final battle, I stuck it out and beat the boss to see what would happen. I still have to beat it the way I want to.

And, done! I spent the better part of Saturday checking this and that out online. To my outright disgust, I discovered that EBGames charges an absolutely preposterous sum for shipping to Canada: $14.99 USD. In addition, they only offered a used copy at the price of $19.99, and didn't guarantee a box, instruction manual, or anything. After tax, I would have paid upwards of $45 CDN for a simple beat-up cartridge, and so I sauntered over to eBay, where I paid about the same amount to buy a copy including the box, book, and everything. I should have it very soon, and I'm so excited about it!

I can't help but notice that the point awards for SOCK Q's are slowly climbing. Times were that they'd barely crest 200; my question was worth a record-breaking 420 pts! That brings me to my question for you to answer: Do you find it difficult to come up with compelling and interesting SOCK questions (well, question) everyday? I like the questions that are indirect, riddlish, and/or "something you just have to know," and those are the kinds I try to submit, but striking the right balance of clever and fun without going into ridiculously obscure or needlessly cryptic is not easy.

Matt

It's easier than you might think, though it's always nice to have reader-submitted questions to lessen my workload somewhat while providing questions potentially about things I could never have the knowledge to ask about.

There are people around here who will remember back in the very beginning, when there were some questions worth a measly 5 or 10 points, and the consolation points for guessing incorrectly were just 2! At this rate, we'll have questions worth in the thousands by this time next year...

If PAL games are to be introduced as prizes soon, should be distinguish contestants as NTSC or PAL, so a PAL SOCKer doesn't Hyperbeam an NTSC participant to prevent him from getting a prize he wouldn't want anyway? Or is the mystery part of the fun?

Matt

That's a very good point...but on further thought, I think we'll keep that detail hidden from view. It's too easy for people to simply lie about their SOCK intentions (though I like to think everyone around here is pretty honest), and there ARE people who are just playing to be able to cohost. Perhaps, though, others think this is a good idea... maybe if enough people request something similar, I'll add labels onto the scoreboard. Thanks for the suggestion.

One more thing; in our fragmented discussion about Hybrid RPG's, I would like to bring attention to Capcom's Survival Horror RPG called Sweet Home... for the Famicom. There are five characters, each with a specialty, which you can split into parties of 3 or fewer to solve puzzles, fight ghosts, and level up. 8-bit games can be very creepy (and graphic); I suggest checking it out.

--

Alexander M. DeMichiei

Matt

Interesting! I've never heard of it, but maybe I'll see it on Wii's Virtual Console when it is unleashed in (potentially) a couple of months. I agree with you that 8-bit games can be very "creepy"... games like Maniac Mansion, Shadowgate, and Bubble Bobble have all proven that to me. You could almost argue that Shadowgate is a quasi-RPG, too. What are your thoughts on that one?



I made a horrible mistake in my response to the last letter...


Once more, please post in addendum. I try to keep these interesting to stave off any hint of boredom at their barrier-crashing length. A few quick items I somehow forgot to include in the earlier communique, starting with: is the list of virtual download systems for the Wii complete? Might it possibly include portables or other Sega consoles?

Matt

At this point, it appears that Sega Genesis and Turbo Grafx 16 will be the only non-Nintendo consoles to also make Nintendo's Virtual Console listings. This feature of the Wii is of critical importance to me at this point. I will be gravely disappointed if the list of games up for download ends up being a few dozen in length. It could very well include a sparse selection of the most popular games, but I really, really hope that it goes beyond that.

Also, I can't get the Bubble Bobble theme music out of my damn head, now. What a grievous error I made by bringing that up in the last letter...

Also: how is it that RPGamer has no listing for Dragon Force 2 after all associated annotations with regard to it I have made? I know this is not your department but a right must be wronged!

Matt

Taking a look myself, I see that there is a page dedicated to it, and it is listed under the series section of the Games section. Unfortunately, there isn't really anything there. It's quite difficult to make updates for a game that is eight years old, as you might imagine! However, it is the goal of certain staffers at this site to ensure that every single game has at least some boxart and screenshots, so perhaps one day, that blank space will be filled.

And has anybody studied how well the most expensive games from the 16-bit era sold, to compare prospects with Sony's possible (or, indeed, probable) price scale alteration? In particular the Genesis edition of Virtua Racing that sold for a fat $100 seems a fascinating case study for comparison in Sony's bottom-line-fixated headquarters as a precedent is sought.

Matt

It's true that despite pricey games, the Genesis and the SNES both managed to do very well. I think, though, that gaming has become much more commonplace over the past fifteen years, and it is very uncommon for games to deviate outside of a normal $20 range or so, which didn't used to be the case. By breaking this trend, they're taking a really big risk; one that, I'm afraid, a lot of people won't jump for.

New SOCK! I have to try answering these more often it would seem! 248: e and 249: d. I have no idea, as per usual....

JuMeSyn


Matt

Indeed! EVERYONE should try answering more often- there's no reason not to, as far as I'm concerned! In any case, we shall hear more from you again soon, I'm sure.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I bet that in fifteen years, when they decide they need to adjust Jeopardy's dollar values again, because of inflation, they won't increase it to $400/800/1200/1600/2000 in the first round, and $800/1600/2400/3200/4000 in the second. They'll probably make it $500/1000/1500/2000/2500 and $1000/2000/3000/4000/5000 instead. That's just depressing, don't you think...?

Sorry, that was pretty random. In RPG news, though, as I mentioned above, I watched the latest Xenosaga III trailer, and I can't even describe how excited I am. Monolith Soft has listened to its fanbase... they've brought back the original Shion voice actress, and they're even backpedaling a little bit in style, so that the characters look a little more Episode I-ish than they did in Ep II! Add that to what sounded like amazing music, of course beautiful visuals, and what is sure to be a fantastic story, a return of the database, and a skill system more like Ep I's... and this might be the game to surprisingly steal the scenes this fall!

Flashay!


***Answers to July 7th's Questions***

#250. a) Clockwork - 390 points (World 2! Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse! What a fantastic side-scroller, despite the awful play control!)

#251. d) afterload would be reduced - 420 points (Now THIS was something that was way above my head. Thanks, Tabor, for your submission!)


***Today's New Questions***

#252: A sea-dwelling monster in Greek Mythology lends its name to a skill that may be used by which of the following characters? (375 points)

a) Tia, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
b) Skye, Earthbound
c) Eiko, Final Fantasy IX
d) Jessica, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
e) Sophia, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time


Reader-Submitted #253: Where would find the missing element needed to evolve a random-level Axe 1 to a first-level Axe 3? (420 points)

a) Kirara
b) Island A
c) Island B
d) Snow Mountain
e) Space Forest Cyberspace


And now, behold! PAL-format games at the item shop! It's time to get excited, all you crazy Australians and Europeans and other PAL-regioners.

--------------------------
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
--------------------------

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*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 (NTSC). The instructions are in each, but the jewel cases are cracked from use. (3 left)

50,000 points: Vandal Hearts (PAL) for the PSX. One of the earliest tactical RPGs of the Playstation era. Latch onto this if you're a PAL gamer and you have enough points! Thanks to Sean for the donation. (1 left)

50,000 points: Final Fantasy VII (PAL) for the PSX. If you're a PAL gamer who still hasn't experienced the greatness of this game, this is your perfect chance! This is another donation by Sean! (1 left)

50,000 points: Suikoden for the PSX. Play the game that started off the entire series! Thanks so much to Ouro and Sean for donating these - it would be cool to send them to a good and loving home. (1 left in NTSC-format, 1 left in PAL-format!)

100,000 points: Arc the Lad Collection (NTSC), 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. (1 left) *********************************************************


That's all I've got for today, but tomorrow's column will contain many more! I know there's a lot of your mail stirring around that I haven't gotten to, yet, but I'll do my best to work on getting as much up as I can. Tomorrow, the column will likely be posted later than usual, as I'm off to Toronto with my family to see the Lord of the Rings musical. Until next time!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt wonders what MORDOR will be like on stage...


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