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ASK MATT
Eat Your Heart Out October 6, 2005

Matt Demers - 02:57 EST

wALKING INTO THE Rozanski building on campus today, I found myself being stared at from all directions by hordes of wondering first-year math students. With a stack of papers under my arms to mark, they all thought that I was the nefarious soul responsible for their impending examination. They were wrong! It was already inside.

It's much different invigilating an exam than it is writing one. Quite more fun. You can walk anywhere you want, at a measured, slow pace, and then stop right next to a random someone, whose face will almost invariably flush numerous shades of crimson (the colour intensifies the longer you stand there, too!)

Much fun to be had. However, the marking remains. That, unfortunately, is not so fun.

Onto the mail!




L E T T E R S
Smelly Cute Mascots


Dear Matt,

What RPG elements would I love to see in real life? Moogles, man! I mean come on, you know you'd love to walk into Studio 54 and see Mog shake his white furry groove thing! Yeah! I indeed have ordered the DQ8 demo, and reffered it to someone else for my slime keychain. Yay slimes! I can't wait to play it. Looks like it will be rockin'. Personally, I'm glad they're redoing FF IV. It's my favorite game of all time (even more than Crono Trigger and Suikoden 2). Now...is there a game I regret not playing? Nope. I play every game that piques my intrest.

Matt

For sure, though I hope in real life, they'd have good enough hygiene to prevent animal odors from penetrating the world. I guess Chocobos are the notoriously smellier of the two... but just wave any old carrot around, and you'll get a big surprise! (I always wondered where exactly the big Chocobos appear from.) Dragon Quest VIII's demo is an extremely tantalizing piece of software. I just hope you're looking forward to playing the actual GAME more than the demo, since, well, as nice as the demo disc is, it IS just a demo.

I like Final Fantasy IV more than Chrono Trigger too, but I still think that it would be nicer if they'd make lots of NEW great games that we can reminisce about. Now, with the hot-off-the-press confirmation of the SNES trilogy in the works for various Nintendo handhelds, I guess I'll just have to sit and huff about it like a bitter, disgruntled old man while everyone else gets all excited. The saddest part is, I'm probably going to end up buying all three. I just hope that the "new content" is actually substantial and doesn't wreck the rest of the experience.

Whippersnappers, these days...I'm telling you.

I have a question for you now. Has there ever been a boss final, hidden, or otherwise, that made you just say "I don't care what I do, I cannot beat this boss."? I mean yeah we all have those bosses that nail you every single time, but generally we always hold hope that we will beat them someday, somehow. Has there ever been one for you that just sucked all hope through the bendy straw of fate, never to be seen again? Mine...? The last boss in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. That game is wonderful, but I'm pretty resolved to fate on that one. Glad to see you at RPGamer Matt. I look forward to reading your answers in the future.

Matt

*A* boss? Try several. Every time I've ever played Final Fantasy V, which is like, twice... I've always thought that Shinryuu and Omega in the last areas were just ridiculous and stupid. It seems like there is just no way to complete the task of slaying these things, or that to do so would require far more effort than I'd ever be willing to invest in the game.

"Final Fantasy Tactics." As soon as I say that, anyone who has played the game should immediately think VELIUS, because that is another stupidly difficult battle, and ONLY really because they lead you into a false sense of security by letting you save directly prior. However, upon defeat, it suddenly dawns upon you that unless you created a DIFFERENT save file to write that save upon, you have no CHOICE but to face him again and again for eternity, without the possibility of powering-up at all. You all know. That is one battle... that IF you don't give up and restart your game, bestows upon you wonderful feelings of accomplishment and empowerment upon victory quite unlike anything else.

Funny, how the first that come to mind are all from Final Fantasy games. Dragon Quest VI has a really frustratingly difficult final boss, and so does Breath of Fire II, I found. Non-RPGwise, Solar Jetman (for those REEEEALLLY old-school fans) has a nigh-impossible final-final level that always made me want to chuck my poor NES out the front door in fury.



Is it Time for Another List?


I'll try to keep this short but first I want to say something before my question. The first RPG I ever played was Legend of Dragoon, love that game, and then Final Fantasy IX. It wasn't untill later and with my discovery of emulators that I played old games. I went back and I personally believe that Final Fantasy 1 through 6 and 9 are vastly superior to all modren final fantasy's, I hate realistic graphics, I repeat HATE them no matter what kind of game I'm playing. Also the Lunar series 1 and 2 are superior to all Rpg's of modern times except for the shin megami tensei series, In my opinion.

Matt

You're a curious specimen, my my! Very rare indeed... you should be protected on a special reserve or something like that to ensure future generations of your kind. I know of not many who started with Final Fantasy VII and proceeded to find more happiness in the preceding series installments. Peculiar.

All in all, I'd have to say that given two choices based entirely on style--Realistic, or non-realistic-- I'd certainly choose the latter. That isn't to say that I despise the former; I don't. I just sometimes wish that real people were pixelated and super-deformed (without the possible bobble-head result occurring... I abhor those dolls). Haven't you ever wondered what YOUR corresponding sprite would look like? I sure have.

On to my question of all the RPG's you've ever played which one has your favorite story, graphics, gameplay, characters and so on?

Sajen

Matt

Uh-huh. The list o' facts couldn't be avoided. Here it is, splayed out for you like a bearskin rug:

Favourite Story:
Final Fantasy VI, VII, and IX all have to be up there somewhere, but Xenosaga has to win some kudos in this department as well, just, well, because. Chrono Trigger is masterfully spun as well.

Favourite Graphics
Graphics, shmraphics. While graphics are almost never something I care much about, I do have an appreciation for sparkly spells and ridiculous framerates if I'm in the right mood. The Final Fantasy X-es, and, I guess, Xenosaga II look really nice. Dragon Quest VIII promises to challenge those, though, perhaps...

Favourite Gameplay
Dragon Warrior II, III, IV, Dragon Quest V, VI, and hopefully VIII. So perfect, in every way. Other than DW/DQ, Final Fantasy VI/VII/VIII, Earthbound, Disgaea, and Secret of Mana are all up there somewhere fighting for second-banana.

Favourite Characters
Final Fantasy VI does characters like no other game in history, ever. Well, maybe VII as well. Those two games far outclass any others I've played as far as character development goes.

Favourite and So On?
If "and so on" is taken completely out of context to refer to bonus-stuff, Disgaea had lots of special extras after finishing the game, but so do most of the Final Fantasy games. I liked challenging the bonus caves in the early Lufia games myself...

I'll cease with the Matt-awards now, but next time I'll try and get them televised, complete with theme music and a co-hostess. Does someone have connections?



New-Age, Old-Age, Middle-Age...


Hi Matt.

When you're talking old-school, I'm thinking about NES stuff, or possible SNES. My first console was the PSX, so anything before that I consider old...

I don't mind lower-quality sound (as opposed to low-quality music) or bad graphics. And really, the SNES age already has good enough graphics and sound to satisfy me. What bothers me about some older games is that they tend to have a bad storyline and worse story-telling, the interface can be sluggish (but that appears in modern games as well, sometimes) and the encounter rate is higher at times.



Matt

I think that in today's world, old-school can be pretty easily defined as anything from the NES/SNES "Golden Age" of gaming, so I agree with you.

Sound is one of the most important parts of a game! I've always thought so, and RPG music is what brought me to RPGamer so many years ago in the first place. I'll argue that the fact that sound-quality may be lower in older games doesn't mean that the themes themselves are worse: There are many games these days with very disappointingly unmemorable music, and some are using the greater sound quality to produce BGM that lacks any melody whatsoever, in favour of "atmospheric" humdrum.

It's much easier to get swept away in a story when you have stunning visuals, emotional movie sequences, and flashy new-age business, so it IS indeed true that storytelling has improved over the years. Voice acting, if done well, can contribute much to the emotional impact a story has (something not practically possible in the past); on the same side of the coin, I think that more is being invested in good localization than was the case yesterdecade.

I'm planning to buy Radiata Stories and Atelier Iris:EM, considering how I heard pretty good things about them both.

Incidently, I study math and physics at my local university, so I wouldn't mind too much if you put the test answers here, but I'd rather read about RPGs...

Zohar Gilboa

Matt

Atelier Iris seems to be okay- just okay- up until the point I'm at. Stunningly, it's actually close in ways to Secret of Evermore, which is interesting, though it seems way too easy to collect alchemy ingredients. I have a lot more to play before I can pass my ultimate absolute judgement, but I'll report when I can.

By the by, there's NO WAY I'm going to do Math, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, or anything requiring anything near left-brained thought (it's left-brained, isn't it?) while I'm writing this thing every day. So, you can mope or be disappointed, and everyone else can frolic with joy, unless everyone else really wants to see a proof of the Cauchy-Kavalevskaya theorem next week. Trust me though, it's not gonna happen anyway.



Radiata Stories Stories


Hey there Matt,

Normally I don't write in because I simply don't have anything to talk about, but Radiata is still fresh in my mind, so I'll offer what I guess is a rare opinion from the way you mentioned it. I do, in fact, think that the game was neither good nor bad. It was interesting in that it actually made use of the flashy graphics that are so common in RPGs these days by having a noticeably cinematic presentation, doing things like having very far or very close objects out of focus and managing what I consider to be a fairly impressive job of voice acting. It also had the distinction of being the first game I've seen with a massive (100+) cast where I really believed each character was unique and kind of interesting. The problem was the plot itself was mediocre at best, which is also common these days. It started out pretty good, with lots of cutscenes and character development, but it fell flat pretty quick, and by the time I got to the human/nonhuman split I was pretty much forcing myself to care what happened. The battle system was pretty ho hum too; it was really only marginally better than SO3's, which was almost the entire reason I abandoned that game. Just give me SO2 back and I'll purr like a kitten.

Matt

A kitten, eh? Imagine getting a back massage while nestled in the softest blanket you can think of, while being fed chocolate AND playing Star Ocean 2, all at the same time! Then, you might be purring like a lion, or some other oversized feline.

Maybe it's just the air in here, but I fail to see how 100 characters or more could all manage to be interesting, much less memorable, probably because Chrono Cross grandly failed to do so with only forty-some, or however many it had. It could be that my mind is closed; in other words, not open. At any rate, the Christmas list is where this one stays.

The battle system of Star Ocean 3 could have been so great if the developers had just spent a little more effort on ally AI. How depressing. That game was number one on my most-desired list for so long, too.

Matt notices that he used "eh" in the first sentence of this reply and chides himself for leaving Canada open to stereotype...

On to the question:

Squeenix (and several others) seems to think the future of gaming is online. But for a genre like RPGs where plot is the staple element, is this really a good idea? A few MMOs are fine, but I want to be able to choose when I want a combat-oriented game and when I want a virtual book. In a medium where you can't really ever have an ending or you lose subscriptions, can a truly memorable story really be told?

Thanks,
Chris

Matt

No, not really. If companies have to concentrate all of their efforts into creating a giant online world where the monitary economy stays in perfect equilibrium and everyone's connections are of utmost stability, while maintaining graphical splendours of jaw-dropping loveliness, the focus is not going to be on story.

I think, though, that it's people like you, and me, and the hundreds of other people reading this that agree out there, and moms... that will ensure that the world of non-line RPGs does not crumble in the near future. There's a market for what we already have: Not everyone enjoys paying twenty bucks a month to play a game they've already paid for, and "not everyone" always will.

My biggest personal fear of online games is exactly the nostalgia factor that creeps up exceptionally often when I talk about things here. Sooner or later, every online game will, eventually, shut down. Sooner or later, the remaining fanbasewill shrink to an unviable level, and it really will be GAME OVER. Then what? All you have are memories...there will be NO replaying; no happily playing and reminiscing with these old-school games once again (once they are actually old-school).

I'm feeling so passionately heartfelt and determined right now, I need to lighten up! Anyone got some cotton candy?



Fool Human


do you have any idea where i can get the lost painting piano piece from castlevania symphony of the night? if yo do please reply to me or if you have it please attach the file thanks


Matt

No.

Take a glance at the left side of your screen, where the lovely "Games" link is. Follow it, and you may discover the pot of gold/piece of info yourself! Besides, I'm allergic to attachments (I have an epipen).



Pipe Dreams are Fun


Hi, Matt,

My guesses (& these are really just guesses) for your questions are Muriel and things you can't mention.

I don't think the column can be too long. It shows that people are interested in discussing topics with you & the rest of the readership. I think it'd be great if you had your grandmother do a column with you. Not all gamers fit the perceived demographic (I should know - I'm an old battle ax myself +20-60 melee damage).

The ULTIMATE prize for the SOCK contest (though I know this probably isn't feasible) would be a pass to E3. The winner would have to get there on their own & make their own hotel accomodations.

Matt

That WOULD be quite a good prize, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, I've got a long way to go before I can offer such offers, though I've got some semi-fun-sounding ideas rumbling around in mine brain, thanks to a few other letters I've-a-received.

How about *I* get to go to E3 first to see what all the fuss is about? Then we can talk.

I was wondering. With going to class, studying, writing this column - how do you manage to find time to play games? I work all day, mess around on the computer a bit when I get home, do stupid household stuff (the price of living alone - can't get the cat to do the vacuuming or anything), go to bed & start all over again. I only get to play on the weekends. If only we humans didn't have to sleep - I'd get so much more done. I figure it's got to be harder for you because you have homework on top of it all. That's one thing I don't miss. Of course, with me being old, you at least don't have to chip your essays into granite (boy, what a time killer that was!!)!

Jbumi

Matt

Bah, sleep is overrated. Also, sitting in front of screens all day long (TV and computer alike) causes such a small amount of energy-burn in the first place, your body doesn't have to worry about sleeping much at all to recover from whatever it has to recover from.

In reality, I get six or seven hours in a typical night, I spend six or seven hours in front of my computer chatting or writing, and six or seven hours on campus. If I don't have homework, the remaining few hours get tossed into the air, and whatever pastime seems most interesting at the time snatches them away like wicked witches snatch candy from children.

Weekends are usually my playing time as well, but I won't get much this weekend, no thanks to the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday.

Also, I've heard that despite its shortcomings, granite doesn't smudge when you fall asleep on your work, which is certainly a problem arising in today's standard equipment.



There's no one like good ol' Jack


Hey Matt, figured I'd send an e-mail into the 'ol QnA box of goodness.

I usually just read the column, but since I found out you are going to the same school as I just graduated from, I just had to. (FYI: I finished up a degree in the Engineering Systems and Computing program). So, how's Math doing over there? Have any courses with Jack Weiner lately? He always made our first year Calculus classes a blast...

Oh, and to answer your random questions, having lived in Guelph for 20-odd years, I can safely say it is closest to Toronto... though I'm sure you'll get some confused Montreal guesses based on the game store comment. As for the RPG introduction, Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy are the typical choices, but I'm going to go on a limb and guess Crystalis.

Matt

*gasp* (Come on thunder; rumble in a dramatic clamour!!)

I'd scan you a picture of the exam paper I'm currently marking, but yes, it is from Jack Weiner's class... because I'm Teacher's Assist-ing for that very professor this semester!

The chances are simply infinitesimal! Well, not quite as infinitesimal as the chances of a "Young Merlin 2" ever being released, maybe, but infinitesimal nonetheless. Now get on with the question, you.

Gah! I almost set the pizza timer for 70 minutes! Ick... gotta be careful with those zeroes...anyways, to possibly ask you a question that may or may not be related to RPGs, how many RPGs do you actually have on the go, anyhow? I'm usually pretty good, but over the past couple months to a year or so, I have found myself in progress on a whole bunch of excellant to good games. Currently, however, they have all been pre-empted for Radiata Stories (on the second playthrough, no less), but I'm sure I'll get back to them. They are: Final Fantasy V & VII, Dragon Warrior III & VII, Phantasy Star II, Breath of Fire, Ultima VII (replay), Tactics Ogre, Disgaea & Phantom Brave, Dark Cloud 2, and Baiten Kaitos. I guess you could also count Star Ocean III and Grandia, but they have become too hard/boring (respectively) that I stopped. I'm also trying to finish up Growlanser 2, but the last battle is kicking my ass (too little time!).

I'm sure I missed something, and don't get me started on non-RPGs either...

Anyways, have a great day/night/timeless void
Ryan

Matt

I should have let you be guest host tonight; your blather is much more funny to read than anything I've managed to come up with this time around. Indeed, 70-minute-baked pizza would probably not be very healthy for you, your home, your smoke detector, or your nextdoor neighbours if you're in an apartment.

What am I playing? Too many things. I started Zelda: Majora's Mask four years ago and I still mean to finish it... one day. I started Shadow Hearts a year and a half ago... and I'm still playing. I'm replaying Final Fantasy VI right now; I'm trying to maintain interest in Megaman X: Command Mission without much success; I'm playing Makai Kingdom for a disappointingly surprise-free-so-far second-run through; I'm working on Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana slowly but surely...

Why stop there? Well, because I think that's about it, for now. I'll have another entry to add to the list in about seven weeks, too.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

And that's the end! I'm headed home for Thanksgiving weekend as of tomorrow, where I will be met by much family, much indigestion, and of course, the marking. Oh, the marking. School; how I hate thee...

As expected, people did not fare as well with yesterday's questions! There must be a hole in the SOCK. At any rate, a disturbing number of people thought my grandmother's name was Effy, and many more expected there to be some sort of hint hiding in the column or elsewhere. Well, her name is not Effy, nor is it Eva, Judy, or Marie. The answer is c) Muriel and 15 points go to anyone who responded to that with success.

Also, I figured I'd fool you with the implied naughtiness of the last option of Question #6. While it is true that I get some e-mail of that sort, this week has been filled with random watch offers, so a) "Timeless" timepieces and wristwatches was the 15-point-netting answer.

Check the scoreboard on the side to see how you're doing! Again, 2 points to those who were keen enough to respond yet unlucky enough to get struck by lightning guess incorrectly.

Today's questions will be answered next week, after Cast has his turn in the Q&A seat.

Question #7: What was the title of Matt's first RPGamer column? (10 points)

a) "Lights, Please"
b) "Dawn of a New Error"
c) "It Has Come to This"
d) "Gamecube Zelda Gets Emotional"
e) "More News on Pokémon Silver/Gold"

Question #8 is to celebrate the festivities of this Canadian holiday weekend!
Matt was born and raised on a farm. Which of these animals can be found on it? (15 points)

a) Ducks
b) Chickens
c) Turkeys
d) Geese
e) There are no animals


Mail your responses to this address, please, and we'll see how the leaderboard changes as we go through the weeks! I'll be thinking of more questions to ask you guys upon my return.

We're getting closer and closer to those tildes... and yes, anyone who manages to get their way up to 1000 points (distant in the future as it may be) may receive a much more exciting surprise, to be revealed next week, if I feel like it.

This brings the week to a close, for me! Keep writing into Andrew, though, because he's hungry for your letters, and so are the inboxes.

Au revoir, everybody.

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt will be back soon, so don't panic.

Send a Question

Aha... I get it now. Trefry/Effy... that's why some of you made a false connection, you silly people.

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About the Host


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. Final Fantasy III

Cookie o' the Update:

Mattie's Invigilation Cookies

-1 cup of flour

-1.5 cups of butter

-1 cup of sugar

-1 tsp of vanilla extract

-4 large dallops of liquid panic

Combine the first four ingredients as quietly possible after walking up and down the grocery aisles slowly to find the very best ingredients possible. Bake in an overheated classroom complex while watching the clock for a very long time, gradually adding liquid panic every few minutes. Liquid panic should overcome other ingredients by the end; remove and serve immediately while gleefully watching crying and upset students.

SOCK standings:

1. Yugiohfan1986
55 pts

2. Jbumi
45 pts

3. Nwash
40 pts

4. darkcecil13
32 pts

4. kupomogli
32 pts

6. Another Matt
25 pts

6. ATG
25 pts

6. Binser
25 pts

6. Benny
25 pts

6. DDX
25 pts

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