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ASK MATT
Wet Dust Can't Fly! September 19, 2006

Matt Demers Erika Wolfraven - 19:25 EST

ANOTHER WEEK AND A brand new column! What does todayís Q&A have in store for us? Well I have no idea since Iím only doing an intro cameo and thus havenít read any of the letters. So instead I think Iíll hijack the spotlight for a moment ask the burning question thatís been on my mind for a while... Is anyone other than me excited about Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria?

I know itís not Final Fantasy XII (which I am excited about too!), but still... I was the only person at my local game store to reserve a copy. Granted itís a small game store but there were a couple of dozen names down for FFXII (mine among them, of course). I have high hopes for the game. The original Valkyrie Profile was quite beautiful and had an amazing soundtrack. Iíve got my fingers crossed that the prequel lives up to the original game, though Iím also hoping that the plot takes a more central role. Just a couple more weeks and Iíll find out! Iím so excited!

All right Iíve said my piece. Back to you Matt!




LETTERS
XII, WII, and XSIII. I only have "I"s for you...


It seems like the big topics right now are XS III and FFXII, so I might as well start there. After playing Xenosaga II, and losing interest in it at the last REAL boss in the game and never finishing it, I really didn't have any desire to get XS III. However, this summer was just awful for games and I hadn't really sat through a long rpg in a while, so I caved and bought it. I was pretty much hooked the second I put it in my ps2, to the point that I played 6 hours the first day and managed to put in 50 hours in a week and finish it. I think they managed to do the best job they could with managing story and game play, sure there is lots of long cut scenes(especially towards the end), but the dungeons are really quite long too, and there are some really epic E.S. battles. Overall, I was very satisfied with the conclusion, even though the religious themes were taken to the extreme point of blasphemy, I still felt it added to the overall plot instead of detracted (you'll see when it all comes together when you eventually get to it).

Matt

It's not exactly a secret that the entire series is oozing with religious symbolism. I don't really mind, because it gives the game a unique blend of herbs and spices not found in just about any other game.

I always liked E.S. battles, and I think that the E.S. battles of Episode II were far, far more fun than having the largely useless ability to "call A.G.W.S." in the first episode. It's nice to see that they've (the E.S. battles) returned with gusto in numťro trois.

Moving on to FFXII, when I first read about it and played the demo for the first time I was very against the game, then I sat down one day and played the demo again and found that it is actually quite a great system, in my opinion. I mean yeah it wrestles some control away from you, but then again you've heard the argument against previous FF games that they could be beaten by just mashing the X button over and over. I've always said that mashing X and picking "attack" all the time was very inefficient, same is true for FFXII. In the FFXII demo you COULD just let them attack and let the gambits do their job(allies healing you when you are weak, and so on) or you can manage all the characters at once and use spells and kill things much more efficiently(such as leading off with a triple blizzard on a bomb >_>), once I started to do that I had a blast with the demo. Also, it's a demo for an FF game, they are notorious for not being accurate compared to the final game, you are generally much more powerful than you are at the point in actual game the demo portrays, and you usually have spells and summons that you won't have either(Flare and Holy?), now I could be completely wrong since I haven't played the Japanese version but oh well. Also, just like you I've heard from everyone that's played the Japanese version that they love it to death, so hopefully once people can wrap their minds around the battle system they will actually see what else the game has to offer. As for the whole "action RPG" debate, I'd say it leans heavily towards an MMO style(without being as restrictive) than it does an action RPG, but there are some similarities to an action RPG. My opinion is that it's a battle engine we haven't really seen before so I think people should just stop trying to throw it in with all the different types, and either love it or hate it for it's own merits instead of what it MIGHT resemble but probably isn't.

Matt

That's what I keep telling myself. I never got my hands on any demos for any previous Final Fantasy games, so I'm new to this land of year-prior previews.

Despite everything I've said in the past, too, I DO recognize the potential that the gambit system possesses. Essentially, it sounds like you just do the AI programming yourself; something that could get very involving, I'm sure. I'll admit that at first, a huge part of me was disappointed when a more traditional turn-based battle system wasn't included, but at the same time, I realize that new battle systems can be very well-done, especially where Square Enix is concerned! I've moved on, and I'm happily looking forward to the game by now. Less than six weeks to go, now? I think so. While everyone else is trick-or-treating, I hope to be running through Ivalice, gambitting my evening away.

Finally, someone asked how a multiple console owner manages it, listing examples of being under age or having a good job. Well, I am neither under age(22) and don't have a job at the moment, so the only way I can manage owning every currently released console and handheld is by carefully planning what I want to buy. I generally follow release dates of games I am interested in and try to get enough cash during the summer for the onslaught of holiday releases. I can tell you that November of 2006 is going to destroy my funds, I have about 1k saved up right now, that was going to go towards a new TV, but alas, November...Let's see, 3 FF games in 2 weeks, Gears of War, Wii + Zelda + SD card(I hated that idea on the psp and I hate Nintendo for using the SD cards now), Dead or Alive Xtreme 2(I am a perv what can I say), then there are the ones that I am considering getting like .hack//GU and the new Sonic The Hedgehog for the 360. So, needless to say, I will be probably $600 lighter at the very least. Occasionally, I make impulse buys(who honestly passes up Disgaea 1 for 40 bucks? not me!) and the like but generally you need to plan and realize what you REALLY want or you will end up hitting the holidays and screwing yourself. Most people probably aren't comfortable with spending the amount I will in November all in one month so I would say that you should figure out which is the most important to you and buy that and also try to pick up the one that you think will be the hardest to find in a few months.

Matt

It's true. It doesn't take too much to get on top of things for me either, and I'm only 23 years old. It's not as if I pull in a huge amount of money every year by any means. I decided that I would tutor this fall in order to make some extra money that I can spend on electronics, and it doesn't take more than a few hours per week in order to make enough to buy a new game every now and then. Budgeting is important to me, too; I only really eat out once or twice per week at maximum, and I don't really drink much at all. Money is tight for most of us at this age, but managing multiple systems is usually both possible and easy if you're careful enough.

Finally, just some advice on people buying a Wii because it's "cheaper". Just remember that it's not the console itself that is expensive it's the amount of games and peripherals that you buy that really adds up in the long run. If you've ever followed Nintendo's history you know they LOVE to release peripherals that only work with 1 or 2 really gimmicky games and then become useless, the Wii is perfectly designed for them to abuse this, and they definitely will do so, so please remember to be smart about it and try and stay away from the Wii equivalents of the power glove and Okama ok?

Matt

You have a point; how many games worked with the SNES Mouse? The Zapper? R.O.B.?

In this case, though, there are already dozens of games in development that will use the motion sensing feature. It's not just a "gimmick"; it's the main controller, and it's an important part of Nintendo's strategy to use it effectively. Thus, I'm very confident that Wii is setting up to be a really big thing, cheap or not. I'm personally really, really anxious to get my hands on my very own!

Thanks for the mail!



Final Fantasy XI, plus another I


Hi Matt,

This isn't a question per se, but I just had to weigh in on this whole "Is the FFXII battle system Action RPG'ish?" question. The battle system is new in the sense that it diverges from every other single player Final Fantasy game that has ever been released. I say single player simply because for any player of MMORPG's, this battle system seems to be very familiar. I played the demo that came with DragonQuest VIII, and disregarding the other members in your party, the battle system is very FFXI'ish. That is, you walk around the world area, enemies can clearly be seen, and encounters do not flash to another battle screen. Your character simply "engages" and draws his/her weapon. Attacks are automatic once you are engaged, your character swings at intervals determined by your speed (haste) stats. You are free to move in 360 degrees to change the tactic of the battle (one example is to keep yourself away from other party members to avoid area of effect attacks) and basically make choices by selecting abilities or magic from a menu.

The only difference from a MMORPG battle system is that the AI controls the other party members as opposed to other players controlling them, and I'm not quite sure if other enemies can join in on a pre-existing battle (which can happen in an MMORPG if you get too close to another monster). So, I would qualify the FFXII battle system not as an Action RPG (I'm reminded of Zelda and Illusion of Gaia here) battle system, but as a MMORPG battle system. Seems like they just ripped it straight from FFXI and called it Gambit, I don't know.

Cheers,
Chris


Matt

I'm pretty sure that if other monsters draw near, they'll join in any skirmish that happens to be underway. I once mentioned a long time ago that my first impression of the game felt like what I would have thought FFXI would feel like; I can't actually compare the two since I haven't even seen FFXI in action, shamefully. When I made that comparison, though, a couple of people metaphorically jumped on my head to start metaphorically beating on me giving me metaphorical cuts and bruises. What say you all? IS Final Fantasy XII more like a "non-line" RPG? Is it Final Fantasy XI dressed up in new clothing after all? And for those of you that have played an FFXII demo, how similar do they feel?

Thanks, Chris!



I, I, I. I like I!


Hey there Sir Matt or MagRowan,

Matt

Ah, sorry. You just missed her! Usually, if you have a question for a cohost, it's best to send it out a couple of days in advance. Oh well, maybe next time. I'll just have to answer your question instead.

It's been awhile since I've written anything in. This new information about the Wii has me eager though.

Since the Playstation came out Iíve been a Sony guy, but now Iím not sure anymore. The combination of the PS3 being way to expensive and the growing anticipation for the Wii has me questioning my loyalty to Sony. Recently I bought a DSLite and it was so damn nice that Iíve become interested in Nintendo. Iíve never had a Nintendo system before and this one is so nice. I thought the stylus was going to be a stupid gimmick, but it wasnít. I was making fun of friends for playing games with a stick, but once I got my hands on it....Iím in love. So now Iím not even concerned with the crazy remote thing that the Wii has. If they can pull off the stylus and touch screen, they can do anything.

Matt

It's so true. I was worried at first, too. When I bought my DS at first in the summer of 2005, there weren't even that many good games out for it. I remember poking the screen hesitantly and carefully with my stylus, highly skeptical of how well it would work, but before long, it became apparent that the DS was crafted with quality and that the touch screen was more than just fluff. The controls for games like Metroid Prime Hunters are so wonderfully well done using the touch screen, it's almost impossible to describe it to another skeptic unless they were to try it for themselves.

Concerning FFXII, I havenít played the demo simply because I donít want any of my hopes to be crushed. Many games that Iíve played Iíve hated the battle system in the beginning, but end up getting used to it by the end. Even in FFX I was annoyed by many of the battle aspects, but ended up enjoying it in the end. Weíll only be able to tell once we get our hands on it in a few weeks. Ah, I canít wait!

Matt

I had my reservations for Final Fantasy X as well, but I also had reservations for IX when I started it, and many other games, too. You have to ease yourself into them, like a nice hot tub. A demo doesn't do a game justice.

One question thatís been bugging me for awhile now is what the differences between Dragon Quest and Dragon Warrior are. Are they connected stories or are they like Final Fantasy and completely independent (mostly independent)? Which is the best as in intro to the series? Iím gonna guess VIII.

Matt

Ah, the Dragon Quest story. Well, there's virtually no difference between "Dragon Warrior" and "Dragon Quest." "Dragon Quest" has always been the name of the series in Japan, but because of copyright laws, the name had to be changed in North America for a time to "Dragon Warrior" instead.

The first three Dragon Warriors produced a nice inter-related trilogy. The second set of three also shared several elements in common, and shared a similar theme involving a castle in the sky that watches over the world; thus, they're said to be a trilogy, sometimes called "the heaven trilogy."

Dragon Warrior VII and Dragon Quest VIII don't appear to share anything in common, so perhaps IX will tie that up handily. Perhaps it won't, and the day of the trilogies will have passed. I don't know! I can't wait until IX is announced, though, one day...

Well thatís my two cents for the day.

The Dark Chevalier loves his DSLite.


Matt

I don't know many DS owners who don't love their little systems! I personally think that the DS is one of the best systems I've ever owned, and hey, I've owned a fair number of systems.

Take care!



I just hate that meaningless drivel...


I hear a lot of complaints about all the mindless, meaningless drivel that Kingdom Hearts II has players do in order to reveal a secret movie at the end. You have to finish EVERY SINGLE TASK in the game in addition to getting sometimes absurdly high scores in un-fun minigames. I thank my lucky stars every day that I played on Expert difficulty my first time through, which ignores all the silly requirements and gives you the movie for free. So, I suggest to any readers having difficulties or are simply annoyed by the asininity that it may be both faster and easier to restart one difficulty level higher. After all, you're planning to play the game again at some point in the future, right? Why torture yourself skateboarding or fighting in the Paradox cups with have no tangible reward?
--

Alexander M. DeMichiei


Matt

Thanks for the tips; I'm sure they'll be much appreciated by some readers out there. It seems kind of paradoxical in the end that choosing a HIGHER level of difficulty could lead one to obtain something more easily, but then again, I never really understood Kingdom Hearts. Oh well.



The excitement builds...


I'm excited about the Wii. Seems it finally close to being releases in the States, and at least 3 months away in Europe =(. Btw, I like those stupid faces you can make with brackets and equal signs ^_^. I'm also glad that Nintendo isn't following the Way of the Sony (tm) and skimping on accessories, cutting down on production and delaying the Europe release date by miles, AND avoiding all of this and still making a profit on each console and software.

Cya!

Genjuu


Matt

I'm excited too! And isn't it great? There will only be a few weeks between the North American, Japanese, and European releases. A small part of me worried that Nintendo would follow suit after Sony gave us that disappointing announcement, but my feelings were reassured with their newest announcement.

On the Ellen DeGeneres show, incidentally, a really amazing blind kid who loves video games and can sense things using echolocation was given a Wii, Zelda, and DS Lite. No joke! If you don't believe me, check it out on YouTube here. Thus, at least ONE lucky person on this continent is already playing, and it won't be long before people across the world will be as well. I only hope that the games are as fantastic as some of the E3 demos were!

Anyhow, thanks for writing in, Genjuu!





THE NEXUS

I tried to do an odd version of chin-ups in public for the first time yesterday, because there is a machine in the fitness room that has these sort of side bars that are high up. You grab them, and lift yourself up, and repeat until you're too exhausted to do anymore. Six! And a half, I guess. Six in a row is all I could muster, but I'm making it my goal this fall to be able to increase that number to ten or more.

"Matt's Strength increased by 2!"


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to September 15th's Questions

#316. d) 350, 800 - 650 points
Out of thirty-some responses, I think that two people got this correct. TWO! It's a bit of an obscure sequence though, and as with many of my past sequences, has nothing at all to do with math. It might become clearer as to what the sequence was if I told you that the next five terms in the sequence are "Lose a Turn", 300, 400, 600, and "Bankrupt". Is it clearer now? Yes, these are values of spaces in the American version of Wheel of Fortune, starting from the big-money space in round one and going counter-clockwise! For you non-North American competitors, I don't want to hear it, because I've had questions about obscure Australian geography on more than one occasion.

#317. b) Totoro - 550 points
This was Maggie's question, even though I mistakenly put that it was "Erika's" for the first part of the weekend, probably because I had them scrambled in my mind; Erika is doing a co-host THIS week, after all! Anyway, the answer may be discovered here: http://www.squidworks.com/Peters/40winks1/preview.pdf.



Today's New Questions

#318:
Consider the following piece of MIDI music: Voila!. What game does this music come from? (625 points)

a) Illusion of Gaia
b) The 7th Saga
c) Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen
d) Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
e) None of the above


Reader-Submitted #319:
In Harvest Moon DS, how many recipes can you make using curry powder as a primary ingredient? (525 points)

a) 10
b) 12
c) 14
d) 17
e) 20


Maybe you guys will do better with today's selection. I wish you the best of luck!



SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

2,000 points: Fire Spell (1 left)
3,500 points: Regera Spell (2 left), Mythril Armor (2 left), or Gold Gem (2 left)
5,000 points: Dark Gem (2 left), Point Doubler (2 left), or Firaga Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Slowga Spell (2 left), Venom Spell (1 left), or Ultra Sneak Glove (1 left)
10,000 points: Vanish Spell (2 left), Drainra Spell (1 left), or Scan Spell (3 left)
14,000 points: Red Gem (1 left), White Gem (2 left), or Gold Armor (1 left)
19,000 points: Esuna Spell (1 left), Magic Pearl(1 left), or Thundaga Spell (2 left)
25,000 points: Waterga Spell (2 left), Dark Sword(1 left), or Killer Sword (1 left)
32,000 points: Mythril Shield (1 left), Mythril Sword (2 left), or Hastega Spell (2 left)
40,000 points: Flare Spell (1 left), Sean's Dictionary of Doom (1 left), or Blizzaja Spell (2 left)
50,000 points: Regega Spell (2 left), Rebirth Stone (2 left), or Hyper Sneak Glove (1 left)

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!)

  • MagRowan


SOCK's Prize Shop

Obtain enough points, and you may buy items, merchandise, or guest-hosting positions.

Click here for the current list of potential prizes!


IN CLOSING

'Tis all for the day. But as you heard, we've got an exciting week ahead of us, as we march forward into the exciting fall of video game heaven. If you'd like to write Erika a letter, she will be joining us on Thursday to co-host the column, so by all means, give her something to chew on!

We've come so far now since E3 and the blast of news we received in May. What are YOU most excited for this fall? What system tickles your fancy? Do NONE of the systems appeal to you? Or do we have big things in store? I want to hear from those of you who will be queued up on release morning to grab a new PS3 or Wii, and I want to hear from those who will be there pointing and laughing at those people in line!

For now, though, I'll say bye-bye. Bye-bye!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt has known the expression "bye-bye" for nearly twenty-three years!


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My whole self feels kind of sore today. Ugh. I'm not into pain-killers either, because I hate the idea of not being able to feel something that's wrong with you. Yeah, I'm weird.

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Matt's Top 5 Most Wanted Games:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Xenosaga: Episode III

3. Final Fantasy XII

4. Final Fantasy V

5. Children of Mana

Top 3 Games Matt's Playing Right Now:

1. Disgaea II

2. Fire Emblem GBA

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SOCK's Top 35:

--Procne--
HP: 10,500
----------
1. Aurelius
41,824 pts

2. JokingChimer
35,923 pts

3. DMJewelle
31,004 pts

4. Kanato
31,170 pts

5. Alan Tse
26,790 pts

6. Draconn
25,480 pts

7. JuMeSyn
25,349 pts

8. BigWook
23,709 pts

9. LufiaLvr
22,919 pts

10. Purelunatic
22,909 pts

11. Boojum
22,142 pts

12. Belthasar2
21,183 pts

13. Erika
20,306 pts

14. Arros Raikou
19,594 pts

15. Cap
18,051 pts

16. Bainick
16,027 pts

17. MagRowan
14,430 pts

18. Thinkfreemind
13,636 pts

19. TV's Adam
13,476 pts

20. BLG
13,263 pts

21. Arpijy
13,075 pts

22. Hunter B
12,794 pts

23. Dermot
12,371 pts

24. MrMSty
11,855 pts

25. DDX
11,203 pts

26. Erunion
11,180 pts

27. Vigilante
10,535 pts

28. Ourobolus
10,499 pts

29. Prismatic
10,115 pts

30. Bucket
9,961 pts

31. Gaijin
9,378 pts

32. Kharamain
9,310 pts

33. CW
8,641 pts

34. Xlash
8,094 pts

35. Colabottle
8,045 pts

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