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Inner Ear Difficulties
July 20, 2007

Matt Demers - 21:27 EST

WELL, THINGS ARE SLOWLY improving in the land of Matt. Class went well today, and I'm going into the city of Markham tomorrow for a pool party/BBQ affair with some friends. It should be a blast. I also plan on having some quality time with Lunar Knights, and it'd be great to make a start on Valkyrie Profile 2, now that Zelda: Twilight Princess is out of the way.

Enough about me, though. What does everyone think about the Tales business? Some people seem excited and others indifferent. I find it a little bit funny; I can't believe the number of people whose reactions are "boring, we get SO many Tales games" right off the bat. Yes, it's true that there are all sorts of them spread across numerous systems. However, some of these people seem just content to lap up the billion Final Fantasy remakes and spinoffs that have been released or are in production; most of this isn't even new material! Maybe I just don't get it because I have little experience with the Tales games, but isn't this a bit of a double standard? My shoulder angels seem to think so.

Anyway, if you have a passionate reply to that, then go ahead and write me. If you don't, then go on and view today's letters.




LETTERS
What, what is a linear RPG?


I agree with you about linear games- minigames don't count as nonlinearity. If a sidequest has some story significance, that would make the game less linear, although it could still be very linear even with a few sidequests. I think our definitions of linear/non linear are fine, but we just need to realize that many games are not 100% linear or 100% nonlinear. Most console RPGs are linear, but many throw in a few nonlinear elements. We shouldn't think of them as rigid classifications.

Matt

Just as all shades of blue are not alike, so too are the shades of linear RPGs in the world of video games.

As my Set Theory instructor once said, it's all about the Power of the Continuum.

But yes, I think that under this scheme, most video game RPGs are "linear" in some respect, just due to the bounds of programming. A real-life experience like Dungeons & Dragons (Saving Throw, where are youuu?) could potentially be the only truly non-linear RPG, where you carve out your own quests and the only bounds are those of your imagination. Sadly, you can only play such games if the friends you play with don't get sucked into World of Warcraft forevermore. Moral of the story: World of Warcraft = EVIL.



Puzzle Quest surfaces again!


Puzzle Quest has finally got a release period for PC! Now I just have to wait until it is released this fall. I am so excited. *Dances a jig* Hey. Will you invest in a console version? It comes out on PS2 as well!

Draconn

Matt

Careful about dancing those jigs... you might reduce my MP, and I wouldn't appreciate it much!

But yeah, isn't it funny that now E3 is done with, the RPG announcements seem to be flowing a bit more quickly? Kind of strange.

As for Puzzle Quest, this game is going to taunt me until the day I break down and get a copy. That said, I'm actually glad that I waited, since both the DS and the PSP reportedly had their share of glitches and other issues. Perhaps one of the new versions will solve everything and provide a fun experience where you aren't constantly wondering "if it would be better if I got that other version."



Zelda, Zelda, which is your favourite?


Hi Matt,

I haven't written in to RPGamer since the yesteryear of Googlshng's hosting, but I'll make an exception for Zelda. I love Zelda, what can I say?

But to make me choose my FAVORITE Zelda? That's like asking me to choose if I like air or water better. It's a tough choice.

I loved Wind Waker, simply because of its irrestible charm. I hear that a lot of people harp on it for being such a departure from the rest of the series, but I really found it quite awesome in it's own, cell-shaded way. However, no Zelda game is as INCREDIBLY EPIC as Twilight Princess. I mean, holy crap! The horseback duels? The fight in mid-air against a dragon? The BAZOOKA!? Whoa, man. Just, whoa.

Matt

I've heard that a lot of people disliked the game for making the player spend time hunting for things over the wide ocean. I haven't played much of the game myself, and only just bought myself my own copy after getting my Wii at Christmastime. Having watched friends play some of it, though, I have to say that the visual style is simply fantastic. It'll be fun to see more of it when Phantom Hourglass makes its DS debut.

Twilight Princess did tackle some things really ambitiously. I would have liked it if the horseback control had been tightened up a little bit; I always felt like I was fighting them, in a way, rather than have them feel natural. Nevertheless, they WERE very cool. The mid-air fight was fun too, but as with all boss battles save the last one, it was just too darn easy. When you have 14 hearts and two bottled fairies and a battlefield that's literally lined with jars of hearts, the half-heart you lose when you misstep in battle is rather inconsequential.

So, I have a few gripes... but most of those gripes are retroactive to Ocarina of Time. The game was, despite them, absolutely phenomenal.

However, my favorite Zelda of all time is, and likely always will be A Link to the Past. Compared to more recent games, it's short, slow, and possibly even repetitive at times, but man is it fun. I've played through it at least 3 or 4 times, and I'm sure I'll play through it again someday in the not-too-distant future. It's just that good.

Brandon "save the princess" Palaver

Matt

Do you really think it's shorter and slower? I find that it's much quicker, personally, and with at least as many dungeons as more recent games, I feel that it's pretty big, even when compared to its younger brother games. I love the open-endedness of Link to the Past; how it's very much up to YOU to figure out how to access new dungeons. You don't have someone constantly pointing out where you have to go, and what you have to do. You have to puzzle a bit more, and I miss those days.

But, with less emphasis on story, cut-scenes, and the like, I find Link to the Past to be more blunt and to-the-point; kind of like the lovechild of the original NES Zelda and Twilight Princess. It's a mix of old and new that I can appreciate. That's why LttP is great in my books.

Thanks, Brandon! I'm glad my question inspired you to write in.



The flow of games continues...


Hey Matt!

To Start...

Matt

To start, I'll have the French Onion Soup and a Caesar Salad. Ice water is fine.

You said: "There are simply no games that look appealing on the way in the near future for the big brute of a system, and it's sad."

I say: http://www.rpgamer.com/games/disgaea/disgaea3/disgaea3.html

Hehe.

Matt

Yeah! Fate turned on me totally when that piece of news was released just before I got my column up the other day, making me look like an idiot. NOW, the PS3 has both Final Fantasy and Disgaea going for it. Disgaea 3 for the PS3 sounds like a bit of a curious choice for NIS, to be honest, but if that's the way it'll be, I'll take it.

I bit the bullet last week and got a Sony Blu Ray player, aka the PS3. Hooked it up to my parents 42 inch 1080i tv, and playing... Virtua Fighter 5 and Ridge Racer 7 on it. No RPGs yet. But, what I have is fun, for short bursts. It is just not that usable on smaller tvs (I hate moving it), so I just leave it there. Maybe I will buy the HDMI to DVI converter cable for it and use my nice PC monitor as a PS3 monitor...

Matt

Sounds scary and complicated; definitely something I'd leave to Tom to figure out.

That said, I walked by some NICE TVs in the mall the other day, and dammit, it would be so nice to have some nice electronics in this place. My tube-TV is nice, but, you know, the next level would be nicer. And then boom, I have to spend $200 on a new bike instead. *stormcloud*

Other games? I am looking for cheap copies of a few games (Resistance just to have the "big" game, Untold Legends at least it is a semi-RPG, Enchanted Arms just because, Genji looks neat, and Motorstorm looks violently fun). Maybe Marvel Ultimate Alliance since like half my friends are huge fans. And Lair, Soul Caliber 4, etc.

Did you see the HD trailer for White Knight Story? That thing brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it... Now... if only it would come out, I would be a very happy gamer.

Matt

It is really nice, I have to admit. It'd be nicer still to have some gameplay details. I find that a lot of Sony's previews and "new information" bits are based entirely on what games look like, and frankly, that tells me nothing, nothing at all. I already know that PS3 games are going to be easy on the eyes, but I'm not going to buy any if I don't know anything about them!

About the PS3 I couldn't believe it. My non-gamer girlfriend actually argued with me over the purchase. She was the one who wanted it not me! It is kind of funny actually. Now all I need is for her to actually play the thing and not just determine costumes and paint jobs for characters/cars...

Matt

Hahaha, that sounds like my sister sometimes. She spends more time than anything else in RPGs trying to figure out good names for her characters. She can literally take ten minutes at that alphabet board and drive people like my brother and I completely bonkers while waiting.

But it looks incredible, and I am having the same amount of fun with it as the Wii. I just wish the Wii had some more interesting games... (for the record I have Zelda, Excite Truck, Wii Sports and used to have the oh so boring Super Paper Mario). I need... Metroid Prime and Dragon Quest! I don't know what else I will get for the thing... but I doubt even Mario Kart will be purchased I just find that series getting old.

Matt

Aww- Super Paper Mario has some fun moments, but it does get slow during some parts, I have to admit. Chapters 4 and 5, I have to say, I could have done without. Still, it was worth it simply for the laughs.

Um, I REALLY need Metroid Prime and Dragon Quest too, just because I keep hearing awesome things about both. 1up.com... some other insignificant video game website *cough*... recently did an impression on Dragon Quest Swords that makes me want to die in anticipation. Besides those, though, Fire Emblem and Smash Brothers are incredibly exciting games on the horizon as well.

All three of the systems have got to get games for me to play. Not that I really mind waiting... I still have a huge backlog of games to play on my other systems!

In the systems:

PC: Lord of the Rings Online, Tomb Raider Anniversary

PS2: Valkyrie Profile 2, Sly Cooper 2

PS3: Virtua Fighter 5, Ridge Racer 7

PSP: Nothing at the moment

DS: Etrian Odyssey, Final Fantasy VI

Wii: Zelda TP

I just finished my third PSP game. So far I am really impressed with what I have seen. First was Valhalla Knights, then Legend of Heroes and just recently Kingdom of Paradise. How did I let these gems pass me by? And only Legend of Heroes is a port, and not one that we have previously seen (or at least I haven't)! And what is wrong with ports anyways? I have like 10 PSP games, and not a single one is a port. They are all original games I have never seen in Canada before! Oh and they are all RPGs. ^_^

Matt

It's true... and tell that to the people that don't complain about endless Final Fantasy ports, as well. I can't really make any judgment calls on any PSP games at this point, due to the fact that I've played zero of them, but it's good to hear that they're being enjoyed by somebody. And, with a bunch more just on the way (including the FFT remake!) there is plenty of reason to be a happy PSP RPGamer at this point.

E3 snuck up on me as well this year. I am happy that MGS4 is staying PS3 exclusive, because I would like to see the system do well. It is simply leaps and bounds ahead of the others technically. All I need to figure out is what saving the game data does, besides taking a lot of time to do (well Ridge Racer lets one play Xevious while doing so, but that is torture in my book I can't believe some people PAYED to play that game on the VC!).

Matt

The PS3 is indeed a powerful piece of technology, and I'd like to see it do well too. In retrospect though, I now think that Sony might have been much better off waiting a year or more to release it. Imagine releasing the system THIS fall, alongside a bunch of big-name releases, even at $499 instead of $599. I think that it would have been a huge hit and might have caught on a lot quicker. Sony has paved themselves with a difficult uphill battle by pricing themselves way out of the league of the majority of gamers out there.

Anyways, Matt you should come play LOTRO with us. It is a lot of fun. And I could just imagine you as a hobbit. Just remember not to eat the spoiled pies!

See ya!

~Sean~~

Matt

Unfortunately, Sean, my toes just aren't hairy enough. *sniffle*

Thanks for writing, and keep on gamin' (as if you wouldn't)!



Snarky advice for gaming companies and Guelphites.


Hi Matt,

Unfortunately for me, games that looked good at E3 for the PS3 aren't it my price range, as the system itself isn't. Therefore, I wasn't too impressed with the Disgaea 3 revelation. A part of me hopes some games will do poorly to teach a lesson or two that systems shouldn't realistically cost a gazillion dollars, especially relative to people like me who are students and don't have money to spend. As for your bike, maybe you should live in a less criminal city. Just a thought. <3

Matt

It'll be interesting to see what happens in the end, but this next year will tell us more precisely what fate holds for the PS3. Once some of those big games come out by the end of the year, we'll see exactly how many people are willing to latch on and dish out the bucks. For now, and for the forseeable future, I'm with you. I'd frankly rather spend the $550 on games for the systems I do have, since they will not be in any short supply over the coming months, by any means.

As for my bike? Well, Guelph is a pretty tame city, and it consistently gets ranked among the best places to live in the country, so I think that my bike was an isolated incident. I'd be a lot less confident, though, in the nearby city of Kitchener/Waterloo, where downtown should be called "Rundowntown" due to its inherent sketchiness. "Lock the doors," I often say, as we drive through.



Memories... memories of modes of transportation and games lost.


Hey Matt,

Sorry to hear about your bike. At my college, the security staff actually started a program to confiscate bikes (for safekeeping) that were left unlocked around campus, but they didn't tell anyone that they were doing it. It was certainly one of the odder experiences at college. And now that I'm thinking about stuff stolen at college, I remember that my friend's ps2 was stolen and inside at the time was MY copy of suikoden 2. I didn't think it was a big deal, but that game is so overpriced to replace. It was around twice what it cost when it was brand new. But since I'm poor, I decided not to replace it. So how much would you be willing to spend to replace a game that was stolen?

Nightwolf

Matt

That's really difficult to say. A lot of my favourite games right now are ones that are still pretty common. To replace a copy of Xenosaga or Dragon Quest, it might cost me $20, which isn't any big deal at all.

Some of my older stuff, though, is incredibly valuable. The original Breath of Fire II... Star Ocean: The Second Story... the original NES Dragon Warrior games... some of these things would be nearly impossible to find except on eBay, and even then, I might have to pay a good $100, knowing that the stain of someone else's use is present (I'm such a snob, eh?). I'd probably wait for a bit and potentially do some shady emulation instead until I have a real job, just because hell, for THOSE old games, I've earned the ROM, wouldn't you say?



QUICKIES

You killed me with the Betty Quest comment the other day Matt. That game sounds like it would be alot of fun.

-Whitney

Matt

Hey, a struggling menopausal woman's RPG might be perfect for a company like Nintendo, as they try to expand the demographic. Then, if that's successful, sequels like "Gertrude Quest" could debut, where elderly people from an old-folks' home gang up to battle the evil OSTEOPOROSA. I sense a winning formula...

Clearly the best Zelda game is the one where Link (finally) started wearing pants.

Carabbit

Matt

...and then, wouldn't you know it, he lost his shirt in time for Twilight Princess! Well, at that one sumo part anyway. How strange that was.

When does yuna ever get the coating spere??? my sis was talking and she said it was near the end..

Matt

I really don't know what you're talking about, m'dear!! A "coating spere" sounds more like something you'd batter fish with than anything I can remember from FFX-2. Take a gander online, and come back if you can't find anything.

Hey-o Matt,

A linear RPG is one that allows you no(or almost no) option but the quest. Breath of Fire V is like that(in a good way!) but most MMO's are not. How linear a game feels has a lot to do with the amount it is driven by it's story. Or am I way off base?

Ken

Matt

Nah, I'd say I'm with you on that, more or less.



IN CLOSING

It's been an interesting week, but it's coming to a close. Thanks very much for reading! I don't say it too often, but this column wouldn't be the same without the people who read it and contribute.

Anyway, today's new question is an obvious one: What are your thoughts on the trio of newly-announced Tales games? Does the idea make your loins quiver in excitement, or do you think we've had enough Tales for the rest of time? Make your opinion known if you're just dying to say something, and write me a letter!

One final note: Boojum is going to be sitting as a co-host next Tuesday, so if you want to ask him any questions specifically, get them to me as quickly as possible, because I'll be sending him some letters tonight!

Thanks again, everyone! Have a safe, fun, and hopefully game-filled weekend.



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On my Wishlist:

1. Dragon Quest IX

2. Metroid Prime 3

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

5. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker



On my Portable Playlist:

1. Lunar Knights

2. Mega Man ZX

3. Etrian Odyssey



On my Console Roster:

1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

2. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance



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1. Final Fantasy X: Your thoughts?

2. What exactly is the definition of a "Linear" RPG?

3. E3 2007... discuss!

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5. Tales games galore! Yay? Or Ugh?



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