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ASK MATT
Dog Days of Autumn October 4, 2005

Matt Demers - 00:47 EST

WELL, I WALKED to school today, like I often do, for my thrice-weekly workout at the gym, followed by class at 4:30 in the afternoon. It's about a half-hour walk, but by the time I got to the school today, my shirt was wet with sweat. Yes, this Canadian October HEAT got to me to such an extent that I must have looked (and smelled) fabulous by the time I reached my destination. It should be illegal, in some universal (global?) law, for nature to cause smog and humidex advisories this late in the year.

In other news, I think I might be getting the illness that everyone else seems to have had for the last couple of weeks... probably from talking with sickly Andrew so much over the last little while. HEY, who says viruses can't travel through wires? They can mutate, after all...or that's what biologists say, anyway. *gasp* Maybe it's the BIRD FLU!

Or maybe not. Let's answer some mail.




L E T T E R S
Strike this one down, "Levia"!


Matt,

Great job with the column (and for making up a ridiculous acronym)!

Answer #1: Math
Answer #2: Final Fantasy VII?

Matt

Oooohh, I don't know!! You'll have to scroll down to the bottom and see what you can see there! And thanks! I tried to make it spell "sow" (like the pig) at first, because I thought that would be pretty funny, but then I realized that "sock" would probably be both funnier and easier-to-acronymize.

Call me crazy, but as far as RPG elements I'd like to see in real life are concerned, I think it would be great if there was a cut-and-dry level system to quantify growth and experience in the real world. You know, maybe some sort of status screen you can check out now and then to see your progress or something... and maybe check out your stats too.

Then again, I'm tired and really have no idea what I'm talking about.

What I do know, however, is that I'm not really ashamed of missing any specific game. I am, however, ashamed that I played Pokemon Red version on Super Gameboy for a while back in the day.

Matt

Hey: You're talking to someone who is geeky enough to make UP stats of all of his friends while bored in class. Not recently. Not THAT recently, anyway. I also used to keep track of my own level and HP when I was a young'un, and I gave myself a level-up whenever my birthday came around or I accomplished something big and important.

As for your Pokémon confession, did you enjoy it and willingly indulge in it? You can't be found guilty if you had no choice BUT to play it. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, though; Pokémon games get labelled "bad kiddie-games" too often, when really, they're far from bad. What they ARE is terribly addictive, especially when you have a friend to challenge regularly.

Though this next feeling isn't really shame, I still feel like it's worth mentioning, especially because it pertains to recent news. Am I the only person that thinks FF4 kinda sucks? I mean, I enjoyed everything when I first played it back on the SNES, you know, as a young child. These days, everything about it is sadly archaic and stale. Story, gameplay, graphics (that's a cheap shot, I know) and even music - it's all a bunch of old, tired stuff. I really think a lot of gamers are too hung up on nostalgia.

I don't mean to start any controversey just for the sake of being a douche (though I can certainly appreciate that sort of thing). I'm just focused on looking forward. Check this quote out, it really strikes a chord with me:

"To me, nostalgia is nothing more than a mindless plundering of the past for the commonplace." - Mel Torme (an old jazz musician)

What do you think, Matt?

Thanks!
Adam

Matt

NGAHHHHH!!!! I was just starting to really like you, and then you pulled the inexcusable!!

"We must not forget the old, for they are what gave rise to the new." If I had one complaint about Final Fantasy IV, it would be that it's just about the shortest RPG in history, especially for Square. But the story was great! The first time I played the game, it was so exciting, and it was filled with so many great moments: Rydia suddenly showing up at the last possible moment against Golbez is something I will remember forever. If you have an issue with the music of Final Fantasy IV, I strongly suggest turning up the volume. There are SO many good BGMs from that game, I just don't know how...you can...! Gah! Sputter! Krblpth! I just broke out in a cold sweat...!

Silly superfluous sound effects aside, some people just aren't old-school gamers, and that's fine. I guess, though, that everyone knows my weak spot now, if anybody feels like making me even more hot-and-bothered.

At any rate, thanks Adam, for writing in! ^^



Ogre Babble


Hey Matt, Starting off on your questions before I forget about them, the first, I'd have to guess would be math. As for the game you haven't beaten yet, I'd have to delve into a little thought for this one. Final Fantasy 10 is the worst FF title, and easily the most boring out of those games listed, so taken to the fact that you may have played all of these titles, I'd say FF10 because it's the worst one on the list. So, Math and FF10 are my two answers. Anyways, as for a question, just wondering what your thoughts are on the Ogre Battle series. Seeing as Square-Enix now owns the series, do you think there would be another title created in the series, and do you think it would possibly be a good game, seeing as Matsuno works for Square-Enix(and the sole reason Square-Enix owns the Ogre Saga and the Quest company to begin with.) Or do you think the Squaresoft employees will push nothing but graphics on the title, sending the game down the same road as the FF series has gone, making it only be loved by Squaresoft fanboys who need perfect graphics in order for a game to be good.

Matt

My experience with Ogre Battle has been limited to a 3-Day rental from Blockbuster, back when the N64 installment was unleashed upon the world. It was actually pretty addictive and really challenging, and left me wanting more when I had to go and drop it back in the return-slot. Having no money at the time, however, proved to be a problem, and Ogre Battle ended up becoming a piece of my history rather than a part of my library.

If indeed Square Enix does own the series, I hope they don't mutilate it too much, because the formula present before seemed to work dandily. Frankly, the company would do well to have another tactical RPG franchise, since Final Fantasy Tactics is on a road to nowhere at the current rate, and um, that's about all they have to say on that front. How soon we'll see another, though, or even "IF" we will see another, is anyone's guess.

Speaking of background music on your last Q&A also, what would you have to say your favorite video game soundtrack would be. Mine would be FF6, then Wild ARMs 3 following closely after. -andrew- -kupomogli-

Matt

Such a difficult... thing... to decide! While I love Final Fantasy IV-VIII's soundtracks much, I must say that overall, there was more goodness for me in the ninth and tenth installments of the series. Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter had an indisputably awesome musical collection as well, but at the same time, Xenosaga II was so incredibly improved soundwise over its predecessor that I'm tempted to say that. I'd even throw a small honourable mention at the Golden Sun games: for Game Boy Advance games, you can't argue that they don't have some pretty darn good themes.

So many choices, so many choices! It's like being in a damn ice cream store!

I'm afraid that I don't think I can tell you a best! I'm even enjoying Makai Kingdom's soundtrack a lot right now, even though the sound quality is less than 100%. The western-ish sounding track that takes place in Micky's (I think?) netherworlds has a curious habit of kicking around my brain for hours after playing that game, even though it really isn't that good at all.



Anyone Wanna go to Montreal with me...?


Hey Matt,

Per Andrews request, i've decided to help bulk up your inbox with a couple of questions. the first is pretty easy. I've been looking to reaquire a SNES and the only place i've been able to find them was on e-Bay. I checked out my local Electronics Botique and they sell SNES games, but not the systems. I hate e-Bay, so do you know of any other locations, perhaps more legit, that sell SNES?

Matt

Less legit, certainly. I have bought a few items from e-Bay, but it took me awhile to get used to the idea. I certainly wouldn't choose to, but you don't have much of a choice, now, it seems. The first "other" options that come to mind are pawn shops (hello, stolen goods!) or yard sales (worse than e-Bay by a longshot).

However, in my travels to Montreal earlier this year, I managed to stumble across an amazing little store downtown; a store filled with amazing and wonderful things (Insert Mario Bros. 3's Toad House-music). It captured the history of gaming, and sold consoles right down to the NES, new, along with several peripheral thingamabobs including controllers, etc. Now, if you managed to find such a place on your own, you are most lucky; be prepared, however, to shell out major dollars: I think the SNES systems there went for CDN $200.

Also, since the above question was kind of silly, let me ask something a bit more on the opinion side of rpgs. I went to see a movie last weekend, during which i happened to see a preview for a movie coming out, DOOM. little did i know, they actually shot (at least in part) the movie from the same perspective you play the game in. that sounds just... weird. So, bringing it to the RPG level, have you seen any game-to-movie creations that were just too weird to be liked? This includes not just live-action fims (i don't think such live-action rpg movie exists?) but also Anime movies, CGI (like in the case of FF:tSW) and even mini-series.

Zindrazil

Matt

I just heard about the Doom movie first thing this morning, before I read your message. Didn't that cheaply-made Blair Witch Project movie do a first-person perspective as well? I don't know, I never saw it. It is difficult to imagine a wonderfully-directed film shot in such a fashion, but I'll probably never know how good it turns out in the end anyway (You're not talking to a Doom fan in any form.) My only real RPG-movie experiences have been The Spirits Within, and like... the first Pokémon movie, which I brought my brother to see at the theatre. FF:tSW was garbageworthy, in my opinion, though I found that almost all of my non-RPGaming-friends actually enjoyed it. I don't understand! I'm not sure that it was too "weird", per se, but well, I'm sure that many others share my sentiment. The Pokémon movie was cute and all, but again-- the TV series was already a regular thing, so it wasn't that weird, really.



The Radiata Stories Official Tally Begins NOW


Matt,

I'm in the middle of playing a bunch of RPGs I've bought over the years, never having played them before due to being distracted by evil online games. Frankly, I haven't been all that impressed by my selections.

I shudder thinking about the 100+ hours put into Persona: Eternal Punishment negotiating with demons and levelling up persona in addition to the usual levelling of characters. I weep that I bought Saga Frontier 2 (hey Saga Fronter 1 was somewhat interesting, to me). And who really thinks Jack in Radiata Stories is someone worth playing... ok I'm somewhat bitter because I actually enjoyed playing Star Ocean 3 and Radiata Stories was *supposed* to be a lot better. Jack annoyed the heck out of me. Die Jack. Whew I feel better.

Matt

Wellll, no one said life would be perfect, and you're bound to run into some bad apples along the way here and there. Long games are great, but there aren't very many games that are 100 hours long that don't drag somewhere along the way; I just had this exact conversation last night on IRC about Dragon Warrior VII.

And I'll take it that you're one of the non-enjoyers of Radiata! I should start a tally... this game is divisive. I haven't heard a single person say "Ohh... it's not bad," or "Gee... it's, well, okay."
It's always "GREAT" or "TERRIBLE", and as such, I'm afraid to touch it myself, especially if it will set me back $65. AHA, I know! One for the ol' Christmas list...*scrounges up a crumpled piece of paper*

Anyway, I have many many games but I have to wonder what can new games offer that haven't been seen before. Game mechanics are getting more and more complex for the most part, making using a FAQ almost mandatory. And of course the stories are usually nothing to write home about. At least games labelled Final Fantasy are more likely to *try* to inject some drama, philosophy and an unhealthy dose of confusion...and they tend to be sprinkled throughout the game instead of just at the end.

So I saw you recommend Dragon Quest 8. Why? What makes you think this game will be so good that it's worth purchasing, rather than replaying some other game in ones game collection that haven't been played in years, thus saving $$$. I'm not interested in cutesy or humorous characters, collecting dozens of characters or the like, or some other game mechanic gimmick...I want a great playable story.

-Turtlegirl

Matt

Many games are getting more and more complicated, you're right. Even WITH an FAQ, instruction manual, strategy guide, and two friends who have already played the game, the Xenosaga battle systems are quite a bit over-the-top until you're very familiar (which could take half the game)...and that's only one example.

That's ONE very good reason why you should play Dragon Quest VIII, by the way: The game mechanics of Dragon Warrior/Quest games are invariably simple and turn-based, with little to perplex you. The story we'll have to wait upon; past games of the series haven't had the most incredible stories in the history of roleplaying, but the demo features some arson and murder, which indicates at least a little bit of drama.

Now, why do I recommend this game so highly??

Dragon Quest VIII looks to be an incredible marriage between old school gameplay and a modern package. The grassroots-RPG-feel is definitely present in the Demo disc, yet the graphics, sound, translation, voice-acting... it's all just breathtaking. Walking through the overworld is honestly like going for a hike through a forest; the attention to detail is quite something. As an avid retro-gamer, and Dragon Warrior fan of the past, there is no other game I'm looking forward to more at this time, yet the game offers such a step forward in so many aspects of its design that I think many new-age gamers could also be blown away. That's why I think it's worth my money, and at least a chance from just about anyone else.



Parsley Power!


Hey, Matt,

I really like what you're doing with the column (trying cool new ideas the first day in).
As to your questions, I think the answers are Math & FFVII. The RPG element (though it really isn't RPG specific so much as it is a game thing) that I'd like in real life is save/reload. Oh, the messes that wouldn't have been if I could have done that!!! On to my question. Prior to the RPG Idol contest when we had guest columnists, one of them recommended Saiyuki: Journey West. I bought it & am loving it. There's a spell Cho Hakkai gets called Chef's Paradise. I understand all the food, pots, pans, etc. that fly when you use this spell, but the end of the spell has a panda holding a little, green sprig doing a jig across the screen. Do you know what he & his little sprig represent? Just curious. It makes me laugh every time. Not to mention it's a great spell.

Thanks. Jbumi


Matt

Well, thanks Jbumi!

Save points in real life would be so much fun. I always wondered when I was a little kid what would happen if I actually went up and pushed the kid that called me fat into a giant puddle, and then step on him once or thrice; but I was not nearly courageous enough. With a save point, though, I could follow through, and then hastily hit RESET if anything scary started to happen without worry!

Anyway, Saiyuki, one of the much lesser-known tactical RPGs out there, was kind of swept under the rug in the last breaths of the Playstation's lifespan. I had never heard about it until your message prompted me to do some homework! Proof positive: I learn more from you guys than you guys learn from me.

I think your question, though, is pretty obvious, Jbumi. It's all about the presentation, of course! How could any chef serve up anything remotely near to being "paradise" without including some garnish? Any ninja-chef would have you know that a plate without something leafy upon it is simply unacceptable!!

Remember next time you go out for dinner that parsley is very high in many vitamins, so give it a munch.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

That's all that is written for today. Tomorrow should be lots of fun: I get to mark my first calculus test as a Teacher's Assistant... I'm REALLY looking forward to that (end sarcasm). Hopefully I don't come back here and start writing solution sets as answers; I'm sure you guys aren't looking for a math lecture.

So, what, finally, is the answer to yesterday's trivia?? Let's see... Question #1 had to do with school. The answer was b), math, which you could have discovered by checking out my bio. I promise I'll try not to let my mathiness penetrate the poor Q&A section too much... it's been traumatized enough lately. 5 points to those who answered that one right!

The shocking answer to #2 was not Final Fantasy VII, as most people answered. The truth is, I've never actually finished d) Chrono Trigger. It was long ago when I went to Lavos and fought my heart out... but it was a long, hard, fight, and I lost in the end. I never got up the motivation to try again, and then I lost my savefile. So, there you go! 20 points to whoever correctly guessed that one!

Also, 2 consolation points go to anyone who mails in without any correct answers. I have to reward your dedication to my cause somehow, after all.

I'll continue the style from yesterday and make this an "All About Me" week, because you might want the chance to get to know your new host better (but really, because I have an ego that needs satiating).

Here we go: Question #3 is a dull and tasteless question, designed to fill space! But which answer is correct?
What major city does Matt live closest to? (10 points)

a) Montreal
b) Detroit
c) Buffalo
d) Toronto
e) Calgary

Question #4 is another dive into Matt's RPG history. Which of the following games introduced Matt to the RPG world? (15 points)

a) Dragon Warrior
b) Final Fantasy
c) Final Fantasy IV
d) Breath of Fire
e) Crystalis


Remember: Anyone can mail answers in to me to try and get their name on the board! I'm keeping all of the scores tabulated in a cute little text file stuffed away on my machine. Hopefully it doesn't crash or anything in the near future, laying waste to my efforts.

High merits, special mention, and a tilde go to anyone who can reach 100 points! Keep mailing away, and see if you can get to the top of the SOCK. Pull up your SOCKs? Yeah, it's pretty bad... I'll work on a catchy slogan-of-sorts.

In the interim, some things to ponder and write in about: If you've played it, what is YOUR take on Radiata Stories? Prove me wrong-- IS there someone out there who thinks it's neither good NOR bad? Also, beat my old-schoolness down! Tell me why old-school games are tiresome, boring, or otherwise awful! The questions are in your hands... the answers are in mine.

Ta-ta, everyone!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt gets to judge hordes of first-year calculus students tomorrow!

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This column has been made by Matt: Lv 97 Red Wizard; HP 6570; MP 1299; Str 323, Def 178, Agl 256, Int 351, Wis 328

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Matt's Next Unhealthy Addiction

Another Unhealthy Addiction

Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

1. Makai Kingdom
2. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
3. Warioware: Twisted!

Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:

1. Dragon Quest VIII
2. Mario & Luigi: PiT
3. Disgaea 2

Cookie o' the Update:

Mattie's Test-Marking Treats

-1 cup of butter

-1/2 cup of cocoa powder

-1 cup of sugar

-1 tsp of salt

-1-2 marked papers (preferably graded D or lower), cut into strips

-1/2 cup of crushed red pen shards

Mix together the first four ingredients in a metal bowl until well-combined. Spread in a 9x11 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded paper and pen shards, and return to oven until paper is golden and pen shards are nicely melted. Serves one hungry math class

SOCK standings:

1. Yugiohfan1986
25 pts

2. Adam
5 pts

2. Angel0886
5 pts

2. BLG
5 pts

2. darkcecil13
5 pts

2. Jbumi
5 pts

2. Kupomogli
5 pts

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