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ASK MATT
Final Straw
July 19, 2007

Matt Demers - 23:36 EST

SOMEBODY STOLE MY bike last night by taking off the front wheel, since I was too stupid to buy a real lock that reached the frame. I am not having a good day today. Actually, this whole week has been fairly shitty; this just tops it all off. Yes, I said shitty. Shitty shitty shitty! Ahaha, I'm so bad.

I hate the world.




LETTERS
I hate the world.


Matt,

You'll probably get a million and one emails asking you this, but were you as disappointed by E3 as I was? Granted, if I had been there, it would probably have been more whelming, but I just felt like there wasn't much in the way of announcements. The hardware announcements, about the new PSP and cheaper(?) PS3, were kind of cool, but the only game announcements seemed to be release dates for stuff we already knew about. Most of the impressions (at least the ones I read) said, "Hey, this game looks pretty much the same as the last time we showed you stuff from it."

Sigh, maybe I'm getting old and cynical.

So long and thanks for all the fish,
Draconn

Matt

No, you aren't getting old and cynical at all; it's the truth. There weren't any shocking or grabbing announcements at all, and you're right, most of the games that I saw screens for didn't look terribly different from different screens we saw a year ago. I remember the days when great games didn't take three... or four... or five years to put together. I loathe the "3-D revolution" for causing this. I loathe the fact that we can no longer expect new annual installments of our favourite series simply due to the fact that production is so much more complex.

Anyway, it wasn't me that gave you the fish, because if I had had any, I would have slapped the bastard who stole my bike with their cold, scaly dead bodies rather than give them to you. No offense, of course.



I hate the world.


Hey Matt,

I managed to mark off a few games from my backlog these past few weeks: Odin Sphere, Tales of the Abyss, and just a while ago Xenosaga 2. Yay me! With that fresh in my mind, I guess I'll answer the question of game completion.

4. Does game-completion make you happy? Sad? Or something else?

Yes, yes, and yes...

First of all, there's always that feeling of satisfaction when finishing a game and watching the ending and having the credits roll. Couple that with mentally checking off a game from my backlog and I'd say that's a pretty happy moment.

Matt

It's true... as long as the ending is actually worth it. I really hate it when you pump countless hours into a game just to get a half-assed thirty-second ending and a long string of boring credits. Yeah, Radiata Stories, I'm looking in your general direction and increasing in temperature.

But, on the other hand, with a backlog looming over my head, I can't help but feel at least somewhat rushed to get to the end. Finishing a game and not actually "completing" it makes me cry inside because I know that chances are slim that I'll find time to get back to what I left behind.

Matt

Yeah, but it's becoming impossible to actually "complete" so many games out there. There are so many obscure things to find, so many ridiculous sidequests that are only realistically accomplishable if you have a dirty strategy guide at your side, and all in all, it's much less realistic to actually COMPLETELY finish off most games these days. Of course, I'm probably looking through the black-coloured glasses of a going-into-a-Ph.D-20-something with way less time than he used to have. Life sucks: Don't let anyone else try to tell you otherwise.

Ahh... I miss the good old days when I actually had the time to try to do everything.

Matt

Yes, that's what I just said. Oi, we are of one mind, you and I. Let's meld.

Anyway. As for self imposed challenges, I was never really a fan of it. At least not until Final Fantasy Tactics. I was already playing it over and over again, so I decided to try one of those challenges of using a party of the same class. I never got very far, but it gave me more time to spend with a game I loved and a chance to appreciate the classes I didn't use very much, like oracles. Other than that, I managed to put in a few hours into DQ8 with only fisticuffs before another game distracted me and lured me away...

Matt

Oooh, that's an interesting but absurdly-difficult sounding challenge. I haven't played the original FFT in so long, I had almost forgotten about that useless Oracle class. OK, it wasn't useless... it was just "not very useful," that's all. Why? Because Square has always hated letting the player inflict status ailments. You can get to be as powerful as you want, inflicting 9999 damage 15 times over in one attack, sure, but Blind an enemy? NEVER!

So... E3... not much to say about that...

- Tasukete

P.S. Disgaea 3 + PS3 = T_T_T

Matt

Well, the way I see it, Disgaea 3 gives me one little reason to favour Sony over Microsoft in this old console war. Why is this important? Because, back in the day, I vowed never to support Microsoft and its alien-green Xbox ways that made FPSing the centre of attention AND stole Rare away from Nintendo. I want to keep that vow, but it's hard to when Sony looks like it's on the verge of becoming a useless company to me. Disgaea 3 and Final Fantasy XIII are the two support columns keeping the sagging ceiling that is Sony from completely collapsing.



I hate the world.


Jeez, I didn't think I was that confusing. Let me clarify.

Matt

Hey Raaj! It's your turn.

Of all the games I play, 99% are for story. Of all the games I love enough to purchase, 100% are for story. Beating the final boss of an RPG doesn't give me half the satisfaction that seeing the final cutscene does. I don't care one smidgen how good the gameplay is. (I do care, however, how bad it is. If a game is unplayable, then there's really no way for me to enjoy the story.) That said, let's take a look at the games I mentioned in my last letter.

First and foremost, there's Morrowind. Yes, I quit the game after only three hours of playing it. I guess I'm going to have to face double punishment in Nanny Jo's Naughty Corner, because I also quit playing Breath of Fire V after a couple of hours. I had nothing against the game at all, I was just RPG'd out. I wonder if that's a problem other people have. Playing so many RPGs at one time that you just hit a limit break (did I really just type that?) and have to stop. I'll probably give BoF5 another shot sometime in the future.

Matt

SUPERNANNY!! Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh, nuh-nuh-nuh nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh, nuh-nuh-nuh... *nananas the theme song*

We don't have any corners here though, so you'll have to take the Naughty 404 screen or something like that.

Yeah, I can become fed up with RPGs after awhile too. I don't know about you, but this need for change builds up inside me until I just have to go blast robots in Mega Man or crush some poor soul online in Puzzle League.

Why did I quit Morrowind, though? Because the way I see it, as a story-minded gamer, the opening hours of a game are crucial. They should be the most dense hours with regards to presenting the story, as is the case with any work of fiction. Imagine a novel whose first fifty pages were blank, or were just there to tell you that the world in the story is big and explorable and the main character can talk to people and do jobs for them. Are you really going to keep reading? I know I'm not. Sorry Morrowind, but you wasted those first few hours, and I had to drop you. I don't care if you have a cohesive story that kicks in later on. You should have showed it to me earlier.

Matt

Yow. That's harsh! I like it. You have a good point, really, and I say that just because I can't tell you the number of times I've fallen asleep during movies that start out slowly. No, seriously.

As for me saying that Morrowind's non-linearity and lack of direction killed it, while proceeding to say that non-linearity can be an asset to a non-story-oriented game like Elder Scrolls... I meant that if you like non-story-oriented games, then it can be an asset. I don't like non-story-oriented games, thus non-linearity is a detriment. Pretty simple, really.

Final Fantasy XII is another game I disliked. Matt, you said this in response to my calling FFXII non-linear: "the storyline events definitely laid out exactly where you should go next in sequence." Sure, you were told to go to the Tomb of Raithwall before you had to go to the Tomb of Raithwall, but it takes hours to get there, and I ended up forgetting where I was going. If a story is going to be truly linear and cohesive, then this can't happen. It did a great job of presenting the story in the first few hours, enough to make me continue playing through to the end. But the rest of the presentation got screwed up. Like I said before, if a story lets you forget what's going on, then it has failed. Pacing is key to linearity.

Matt

Yeah, I know what you meant when I said that, and I totally agree. My issue was just one of nomenclature more than anything-- I'd personally call FFXII a very linear game, even if it's less linear than FFX, just because of the fact that the story is laid out the way it is. Yeah, you can go off and do other things and explore and stuff, but the painful truth is that none of it adds one iota of anything to the storyline. The extra side stuff is never more than extra side stuff, and it isn't very useful even when you do it. A teleport stone and 1100 Gil? I'll go and buy the former from the local bazaar, and sell one item to get the latter, thanks- and NOT have to use Turbo Ethers and Elixirs in order to do so. (Since, of course, we all know that I'll end up using those for some better reason.)

I'm pretty new to Zelda games. My first was A Link to the Past about a year and a half ago. Since then I've played Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Ocarina of Time, Link's Awakening, and am actually currently playing Majora's Mask. I've noticed that the Zelda games always have some sort of twist, like an alternate world, or time travel. Something to mix up the game's world. Majora's Mask is the most interesting of all so far. I'd heard a lot of negative things about it, but the first time you have to go back in time, I was like "Whoa. That's damn cool." The Mask Salesman is thus far my favorite Zelda character, hands down. I have no idea why. Something about the way the camera keeps cutting between his expressions just makes him seem absolutely insane. I can't wait to find out what his deal is. Actually, I'm having a heap of trouble with the boss in the Great Bay Temple, if you have any advice that wouldn't be found on a GameFAQs walkthrough.

Matt

I'm not the guy to ask about this one! Majora's Mask was a funny animal for me: I got the game thinking that it was going to be subpar, thanks to the fact that it was only advertised as having four temples. However, I got halfway through the game and started to really appreciate the extra layers that the countdown-clock and "real"-time system added. And then, I went off to university, leaving my Nintendo 64 behind. It's now been at least six years since I've touched the game, and that makes me very sad. That and Banjo-Tooie are two games that I started but never finished and regret heavily.

Link's Awakening is my least favorite. It's pretty bland as far as Zelda games go. No alternate world or timeline. Nothing particularly good or bad about it. I guess that's why I don't care so much for it.

Confusingly yours,
Raaj

Matt

Hey, a lot of people love the game. That's another Zelda, in fact, that I played a lot but never finished. There's a creepy sort of cute aura to the whole game, though, that's unique to it. I did get bored with the game after awhile, though, but shamefully, it was only after I beat the second-last dungeon that my true boredom kicked into effect and I fully lost interest. Ohhhhh well, bygones.

Thanks, Raaj!



I hate the world, but I got a new bike.


http://youtube.com/watch?v=2M9gTjmtil4 The characters in this episode clip are supposedly talking Dragon Quest V, but since I never played the game, I was wondering if you could enlighten me and explain what they're talking about. Personally, I think it's rather cool that DQV is still getting referenced to in this day and age. It must be a really popular and well-known game, at least in Japan.

Matt

That's SO wonderful!!! Hahahahaha, wow. Okay, here's the story: Dragon Quest V is a phenomenal game because of the fact that it follows the main character throughout his whole life, from birth, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. At one point in the game, you have to make a choice: Do you get married to your childhood friend, Bianca? Or, do you go for Flora, the daughter of a well-known and respected, wealthy man? You'll get whoever you choose in your party, and each has different abilities (Bianca much cooler than Flora, admittedly). So that's what the reference is from- it's very direct in that clip, and a joy to watch. Heh heh.

Thanks for the link! That was really cool.



It's okay, but it doesn't go as fast. But it's shinier.


Matt,

I am writing in response to Tycho's letter specifically the part about playing RPGs when younger and how we regarded them then. I think I would have to agree, I first delved into RPGS in the PS1 generation (as I am only 20) and started with FFVII like many and branched out to Legend of Legaia FFVIII LoD and so on. I would have to agree that because of my age at the time (age 10 when I first jumped into FFVII, still can't believe I was that young when I beat the game) it allowed me to fall deeper into the games and be more enthralled with them.

However what I was wondering is that if because of that fact, we raise these games up and still today think they are better than they really are.

For example Legend of Legaia generally had much lower reviews than its sequel for the Ps2 however I found it to be a far superior game. Do you think gamers generally idealize the games they grew up with instead having a more objective view and being fairer to newer releases?

Ryan

Matt

There's no question about this, Ryan. I've mentioned it a oftentimes before in the column, too, under several different names. Call it nostalgia, call it idealization, call it whatever you like: There is a time in your life when certain things, including games, impact you the most, and that time is in late childhood/early adolescence. It's exactly the reason why so many people feel so strongly about Final Fantasy IV; it's exactly the reason that no matter what other people say, Dragon Warrior II will always be one of my favourite games.



I hate the world still, and I will for the rest of this column, I swear.


Matt!

I think I have figured out why Final Fantasy XIII was not on display at E3 this year. The fact is, they have nothing new to show. I just read a news story online in which Sony press materials have stated that FFXIII is only 13% complete. What's worse is that they also mentioned only 1.3% of FFVersusXIII is finished. I have been viewing the same pictures and extended trailers of these games for almost two years now, and SquareEnix has only been able to produce a measly 13%? Dang, I'm glad I didn't run out and buy a PS3 like some friends of mine.

What do you think about this news? Do you think SE has been showing too many trailers for these games to have the time to actually work on making them? Or maybe they have too many remakes of older FF games on the way and have stretched themselves thin on the labor force? One thing I can't accept is an argument that it is so much more difficult to make next gen games. Oblivion was a big game and Blue Dragon has been released in Japan for quite some time.

Sorry for adding another letter to an already huge pile, -thinkfreemind

p.s. Here is the link: http://ps3.ign.com/articles/805/805646p1.html

Matt

This isn't surprising at all. We got a second batch of screens a few months back for the first time since E3 2006, and what did we see? More of the same. We got more of the exact same scenes that we had seen before, and so I'm really beginning to believe that FFXIII is going to be a 13-minute long game. I mean, come on. If it's going to take two years to develop a single movie, then I'm frankly not interested in how realistic or fluid anything looks. I WANT TO PLAY THE DAMN GAME BEFORE I DIE! And I'll bet you that close to 1% of all people who were originally looking forward to this game will have passed on to the next world by the time that it actually comes out. That's pure, unarguable statistics thar, I swear.

In all honesty, I don't think that the slow progress is due to anything except for Square Enix's own hesitations on the system. Why develop a game for a console until it'll sell more than a million copies? As it stands right now, there's no way the million-mark could possibly be passed. No, they'll wait until more people have lapped the system up and then make it a big release. I bet we'll see it NO SOONER than Christmas of 2008, if not sometime in 2009. Depressing, isn't it?

But, tongue-in-cheek, that's what gamers asked for...

Anyway, don't ever apologize for sending me mail, because dammit, I like it. And so, thank you much for writing to me!



QUICKIES

Matt-o

Here with the "funghoul" answer.....although it's not spelled the same but pronounced the same....va fangoule in Italian means "fuck you" or "go fuck yourself".......what exactly was Square-enix trying to say to the game players when they fought a "funghoul".....you can e-mail directly to me with you comment or if you want to post it......it's all yours.

~Chris~

Matt

Heh, good to know... it's always good to add new words to the old vocabulary, and this one's easy to remember. If I ever catch the scumhole that stole my bike, I'll tell him to go fungoule before punching him in the testicles repeatedly.



IN CLOSING

Well, I've had enough, and hopefully I'll be in better spirits tomorrow. As I mentioned mid-column, I took time out this afternoon to buy a brand new and shinier bike. I'm hoping to equip it with identification acid so that hopefully the funghoul that stole my old one will die a slow and painful, burning death if he tries to touch my new one.

Sigh. More tomorrow, guys and girls.



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