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ASK MATT
Seconds? Try Fourths October 11, 2005

Matt Demers - 01:44 EST

AFTER HAVING returned from Thanksgiving festivities at the Demers residence in Chatham-Kent, I have come to the conclusion that eating large amounts of food in very small periods of time leaves me in a lethargic state. Eight people, plus one 22-pound turkey, inevitably results in indigestion all-around, with that extra sleepiness as a side effect.

The sleepiness might come as a bonus, though, in defending against the armies of viruses and bacteria swarming to penetrate my body's defenses. It seems that all of my family members coughed their way through the entire weekend to a painful extent. Since I generally dislike being trapped in the horrible jaws of illness, the sleep might do me some good.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed much your time with Andrew over the weekend. You're mine for now, though, so if you don't shape up and send me some mail, I'll do my best to transmit my family's germs to you all! Otherwise, I'll write some pretty sickeningly short segments (ha ha, PUNNY) that you'll all have to suffer through!

To the inbox of destiny:




L E T T E R S
The longest letter of all time


Sup Matt,

I been reading RPGamer for quite awhile (Since the late 90ís I think? I canít remember but it has been a minute) and for some reason or another, you made me interested to actually write a rare letter to an RPGamer staff (I think this is like my third one).

Matt

Excellent, excellent! The hypnotic subliminal messages are working, bwahaha!! At this rate, there's no telling how many people like you will exist only under my control. Then, we can all enslave the world (or at the very least, Baffin Island) together! It's an exciting prospect...

Throughout the eons of my mysterious life, I have had this one uncanny ability to figure out if an rpg would be ďspecial,Ē something that would set all other rpgs apart. I was able to determine that with Final Fantasy for NES, Chronotrigger for SNES, FFVII for PSX and Xenogears for PSX. Each one of those games was a groundbreaking game in one way or another. Now after years of a dry period (well, at least as far as I am concern) of high quality console rpgs, I am about to once again use my uncanny prediction and say that Dragon Quest VIII will be a very special game. I guess what I mean by special game is that it will be one of those games that make you feel giggly and excited each time you play it. I might be wrong, but nah, Iím right. So needless to say, I am extremely looking forward to DQVIII and I am probably one of the few who actually will pre-order the game for the game and not for the FFXII Demo (which for some reason or another, Iím not giggly about.)

Matt

We must remain optimistic about that game! My thoughts: Even IF the battle mechanics are subpar, Final Fantasy games rarely tell disappointing stories, so at the very least, we're probably in for a treat in that regard. Of course, if this battle system does bite the bullet, I'll be quite disappointed indeed. All we can do is sit and wait, and get giggly about other games in the meantime.

I played through Dragon Quest VIII's demo for the second time over the weekend, so that my initial awe-based excitement wouldn't augment my bias to such an extent (as it may have during my first playthrough). Even now, I maintain that it will be both fun and beautiful, and the only thing I can really find to complain about is that its release date is two weeks before my final exams.

You have no idea how mad my mom is for pre-ordering the game, though:

Matt's Mom: "What in the world are you doing buying the one game you REALLY wanted just a few weeks before Christmas!??"

Matt: "I've TOLD you for the last year that I'm buying this game the day it comes out!"

Matt's Mom: "It would be nice to be able to get you something you wanted really bad on Christmas morning for once!"

Matt: "All I really want is peace, love, and harmony for all."

Mom: (knocks Matt over the head with a rolled-up newspaper)

*insert a collective "AWWWWW!"...*

There is something that has been bothering me with rpgs these days. Maybe it is because I am getting older and thus less impatient with the genre but the whole leveling-up thing with rpgs are starting to really bother me. I mean, you would think by now that they would find ways to tweak that aspect of gaming. One thing that I can actually say that I like about PC rpgs that I think console rpgs should pay attention more to is their ability to award you Xp for successfully completing quests (I.E. Baldur Gates and any other numerous D&D-like PC games out there). This is a great thing because it actually awards gamers for exploring the game world that the developers spent long, tedious hours creating rather than taking a character to a hot spot in the game and consistently fighting random high-level beasts to gain XP and go up in level. I just feel cheated in a way. People count the random battle fights as gameplay hours but it isnít really playing to me. It is a tedious task that you know you can complete if you just stick to doing the same mundane thing. Whereís the gaming in that? Whereís the challenge? It really takes away from the challenge of the whole genre when you think about it, knowing that most rpg can be finished if one has a high enough Level. I rather see more rpg focus on gaming skills rather than max stats. Yeah you can probably get something like that from action rpgs, but who to say that a system like this cannot be implement in your traditional turn-based rpg or even strategy rpg? What are your thoughts on tedious level-building?

Matt

Level-building, hmm? You question one of the great cornerstones of the RPG genre. Well, let's see.

I've never level-built, if that's the correct term, unless I had to. If hours and hours of level-building are truly required between each new area you explore, you're right: there IS a point where a game reeks of unbalanced-ness and becomes quite un-fun. I really like (realistically) challenging games, though, and gaining levels certainly makes things easier than harder; thus, I try to avoid it at all costs.

Attempts by some games to limit the option TO level build, to me, don't work. Even though I don't gain levels often, I still don't like it when the game doesn't allow me the option. Chrono Cross is the first game that comes to mind in this department, though there are a few others out there. RPGs, to me, are at least partly about characters learning, growing, changing, persevering, and improving as a result.

That said, I like the idea of gaining experience through completing tasks, since strategizing and exploring is also an important part of the genre. I'm not familiar with a lot of PC RPGs, but I have played Dungeons & Dragons, and the idea of quest-earned experience would fit well into many games, console and PC alike.

Well I guess thatís all I wanted to say other than keep up the great work. Oh, by the way, Iím stationed here in Yokosuka, Japan and tend to go to Tokyo a lot when I am not underway with the Navy. I been to a few cool district there (which I cannot remember any name of) and see a VAST amount of Japanese games there, old consoles to next gen. It is kind of sad though, considering that I cannot really do anything with the games since I have VERY LITTLE JAPANESE LANGUAGE SKILLS! It is almost like a version of hell, here I am surrounded by all these great RPG Games, yet I cannot read any of them, thus pretty much ruining the whole idea of getting an rpg. I mean, I probably could get games in other genres, but come on, rpgs are what Iím after. It probably wonít help to ask, but do you have any suggestion as to what I can do to remedy this dilemma? Are there converters or the sorts out there that I donít know about that would just magically transform those PS2 rpgs to recognizable English (or at the very least, good Ebonics)? Probably not, but it never hurt to askÖ

Well, I think I said all that I need to say, and remember only you can prevent a forest fire so say no to drugs. Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

The Last Paladin

Matt

Ahhh, I'm sorry to say that you're going to have to learn your Kanji and such before you can play these games, unless a genie comes down from the heavens or out of a lamp to grant you wishes three. Is such a thing worth a genie wish though? That's a good question. It's too bad though... you could pick up a few interesting titles while you're there and take some Japanese classes when you get back, I suppose, if you're motivated enough.

Hopefully your trip is going well, despite the forbidden fruit! Also, thanks for the letter; may the hypnotic urges of yours continue to prompt you to produce more to send to me in the future.



The second-longest letter of all time


Matt,

I can safely say I'm a total dunce. I never actually read one of your QnAs during the whole bru ha ha that was the contest...I'm a busy guy, what can I say. So I didn't...well...i didn't actually vote for you once. However...yes, there is a howerver...however, I'm quite glad you won cause I'm totally digging your QnA spot...if you feel the need to beat me like a little boy, I'll understand though.

Matt

Generally, I am a benevolent, and not malevolent Q&A host. In your case, however, I might make an exception, just because I'm in a little bit of a crabby mood.

My dad's biggest threat to my siblings and I in our youth was the phrase "You'd better [insert action here] or I'll put you over my knee!!" Of course, he never did. Interestingly, however, my older sister now works for Children's Aid and spends much of her time apprehending abusive parents.

Regardless, that won't stop me... I just need to buy a belt first.

So onto things...see, I started with FF1 and DW1 on the NES way back in the day. Yeah, I'm old school. So when people say things like "FFIV has stale outdated graphics" I say "WTF mate?" cause to me, they're freaking beautiful. FFIV is one of my favorite RPGs of all time and the best FF ever made. The story is amazing...you're right, when Rydia shows up all old and badass...I almost cried. And when Palom and Porom sacrifice themselves for your team...i really did cry. Great game, I love having 5 members and no one thumbing their bungs in an airship. I liked having people actually leave and join and die and such.

Oh, and Chrono Trigger is definitely not hyped...it is arguably the best RPG ever made...but there's definitely an arguable in there. Depends on my mood, but the music is definitely the best imho. Oh, and Magus is the coolest character ever, can't forget that. CC was a disappointment as a sequel though...they totally set it up so that you could be Magus scouring time-space for his sister. Oh well...

Sajen

Matt

Mmhmm; the whole game of Final Fantasy IV reeks of nostalgia. I did end up sticking it on my Christmas list (the remake, that is... we all knew I would cave), but they'd better not wreck it somehow. Chrono Trigger is indeed among the best games ever made, although I wouldn't rank it number one. Probably number eleven, as I've stated in the past... though it's been long enough that maybe I should give it a re-playthrough to finally kick Lavos in the spikes.

So now here's the test...wanna see whether you are truly worthy of this whole QnA thing (Also what i can expect from you). I wanna know what your favorite RPGs of all time are, what series you dig, and what games you're lookign forward to (Even if theyr'e way down the road). If this was like part of the whole contest and you already said...well, i don't give a crap, I want an answer.

As far as me, Suikodens 1 and 2, Wild ARMs, FFIV, FFVI, CT, well those are among my favorites. I also dig the Tales series, the Shadow Hearts series (including Koudelka), and so on...lost more, just can never think of them. Oh, and FFVIII was horrible and FFIX was badass. Just for some opinions of mine. FFVII is overrated but still a great RPG. Um, yeah, rather disjointed but whatever.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend,
Gryphon

Matt

Gryphon, huh? It's usually spelled "Griffin", but the University of Guelph's mascot is the Gryphon, with that very spelling, puzzling many and delighting a few. Interesting coincidence...

I've done the "TOP TEN BEST GAMES EVAR" thing already, back at the end of the RPGamer Idol era of Mattdom, but I could give you a quick shake-down/breakdown of what I like and don't like.

Earthbound, NES-era Dragon Warrior games, and the SNES-era Final Fantasy games are my top picks, generally speaking. They're hilarious, ultra-nostalgic, and amazing respectively. This isn't to say I don't like modern games at all, because I really do; it's just that the cream of the crop, for me, occurred much time ago. For instance, I've really enjoyed the new Mario RPG games (you'll note that Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is among my top-most-desired games right now.) Also, I really liked Disgaea, when I finally picked it up late last year.

I disagree with you on a couple things, though. Shadow Hearts is a series that never inspired me enough in the beginning to pick up since, and Final Fantasy VIII is a game I adore (and one I've been having mysterious cravings to play in recent days...)



Oooh, the excitement!


Hi there Wonderslime,

As for an uber-spiff-spiffy prize I'd say who ever reaches some really really high total should get a shot guest hosting with you

Um uh I don't really have any questions but keep the collumn as it is

Arros Raikou

Matt

An interesting idea, my friend, and one to cross my mind as well. What makes it SO great is that not only might it be fun for you, it also allows me to do half the work I'd normally have to!!

Expect a related stunning announcement following the awarding of my first tilde (which might happen sometime this week). Also, I'm not gonna change what I'm doing until I hear otherwise! One big factor though is letters... one cannot do as much with a Q&A section when one does not have letters to do things with. So key factor #1: WRITE 'N' SEND!



From one reader to another


In response to the person having trouble breeding chocobos, here's some advice. Right before you breed, save your game. If you don't get what you want, reset and try again. That way, you avoid wasting tons of time racing them.

Matt

There you go, reader! Have fun breeding your smelly chocobos. The reset-and-try-again trick is a little bit cheap but much helpful, and it appears this might be one of those times where it comes in handy.

On to the question. I'm about 8 hours into Shadow Hearts Covenant. I can't help but notice a lack of inns in the game. Wait, let me rephrase that. There are inns in the game, but they don't seem to be the traditional kinds of inns. In other words, they're there....but I can't sleep in them and replenish my HP/MP. So, am I doing something wrong?....or are there really no places to go in that game to refill your HP/MP? I can't quite remember how it was in the original Shadow Hearts.

an RPGfan

Matt

I zipped around online a bit to figure out what I can for you, since well, I haven't played the game myself. As far as I can determine, you are correct in that the game is innless, quite like my hometown of 2,600. There must, however, be SOME way to restore your stats, for if not, I'm not sure how you would progress. How about save points? Are they "cheap" and restorative? Or is there a way to heal up when you hit one? My sniffings-around tell me that there might be...



Final Fantasy VII ponderings


Dear Matt, Writing from the UK, I have just got a hold of the new Final Fantasy 7 AC movie, very enjoyable. It didnít quite add anything new to the FF game itself, but the story and graphics were amazing. I also had a look at the special features, and it mentioned various other launches of related products associated with FF7 game (apart from an actual remake of FF7).

Well my first question is, if you have seen the movie, what you thought of it. My second question is, keeping in mind various FF remakes being launched and FF7 (DC and crisis core) game launches, and Squares choice of using FF7 demo to showcase the PS3ís graphics at E3. Do you think square are lining up for a remake of FF7 itself and would you welcome it?

Congratultaions on the win. I enjoy reading your work.

P.S. Just imported Xenogears and Chrono Cross, talk about being blown away.

Matt

I can't really say that I approve of everyone out there who has done this or that in order to obtain this piece of video-bliss, and I just blew up at my brother for having watched it already himself at a friend's house (remember... horrible dial-up at home). Yeah, I don't know... the prude within me shines clear as a... star, perhaps, on this topic.

Otherwise, though, I'm neutral on the Final Fantasy VII explosion. I'd really rather see Square Enix work on new titles than create spinoff titles to past games, but maybe I'm just a stick-in-the-mud. With the run-up of Game Boy Advance Final Fantasy titles in recent times (we'll be up to VI in the not-too-distant future), I would say that sure, anything is possible. If indeed they do a Final Fantasy VII remake, though, don't expect it anytime in the near future: It IS my personal opinion that the FF7 demo was originally just something to generate frenetic excitement among fans and letters to Q&A guys like this one. Certainly, if they re-made it, I would have no choice but to buy it, since my will power to not fall prey to the dreaded remakes is close to nil, despite my ever-present cries against them.



For everything else, there's Mastercard


Hi Matt or WonderSlime, just call me Gouden Draak or GD for short ; )

What do you think about bonus offers? Like having an FF12 demo in Dragon Warrior 8, or having a free soundtrack like Atlus is doing with its games these days (I`ve gotten soundtracks for SMT:Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga, Phantom Brave and Digital Devil Saga 2 so far, and know more of their games include it as well). Do they affect your buying decision? Or are the just a nice treat to go with something you are buying anyway? Personally, I am not going to get a game just for the demo (although I imagine some people do...) or just for the soundtrack. However, it does make me think better of the company to get some free goodies...!

Bored Dragon,
Gouden Draak


Matt

There's nothing wrong with free stuff! If someone's going to throw something at me and say "here, take it!", chances are that I probably will, unless that free something is poisonous, illegal, or tastes bad (or, all three).

Surely, there are some oddballs out there with more money than brains that will buy things just for the free stuff, but people always do that. Kids buy Happy Meals just to get the free toy; people sign onto long distance plans they'd NEVER agree to normally just for a free month or two of chatting; when she was little, my sister used to love the plastic "Barbie Tables" that came in the centres of take-out pizza, for crying out loud. I never did figure out what the plastic things were for... or the less common mystery doughballs, for that matter.

I don't think that freebies have ever affected my decision to buy a game though, so no.



Stamp out the Rubber Stamps!


To Mr. Q&A,

Lately, I've been noticing a disturbing trend among the gamer population concerning Nippon-Ichi's series of TRPGs. I've seen multiple complaints that 'every game is exactly the same, just with some new paint.' And this assessment irks the patience right out of me.

While indeed, I can see what they are trying to say - there are, in fact, similarities between the games. (gasp!) What upsets me is that these people are not cognitive enough to realize that the similarities are more a side-effect of the genre rather than the developer. What's more, nearly -every- series of RPGs is very similar when comparing the games within the same series. And in most cases, RPGs made by the same developers, regardless of series have very blatant similarities. It's the nature of the industry.

When I look at how similar games are in series such as Breath of Fire, Lunar, Tales, and Final Fantasy - it bothers me that these plaintative gamers don't realize that Nippon-Ichi's games are significantly more diverse in terms of gameplay than most of the series out there.

....
Alright, I've said my piece. What's your take on the subject?

-Caffeine247

Matt

I like the Nippon Ichi games too, though I think that they've decreased in quality ever-so-slightly since Disgaea.

Certainly, I've heard the complaints, but lots of people complain about lots of things. Ultimately, it's your decision whether you want to let yourself be bothered about these sillies, or instead, to just buy the games anyway and laugh at them for being losers.

Games SHOULD be similar to each other within single series, especially if the storylines of each installment have nothing to do with each other. I think it's easier for people to say that Nippon Ichi games are all too similar, because they ARE so straight-forwardly formulaic in structure (at least, the two I've played, anyway).

The key is that if the style WORKS, it should work for all of the games. For me, Makai Kingdom did maintain that in most respects. What has changed a bit is that the storyline is weak and the game is much shorter; evidence of the dreaded developer-laziness syndrome. I remain optimistic about Disgaea 2 though, and you should too!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

We're at the end, so what shall I send you off with? Oh, wait, the silly competition answers. Yes, I haven't forgotten about SOCK, though I haven't worn any in the longest time (I'm a "sandals" kind of guy)

The first question of last column confused a few people, but reading carefully will net you the correct response! My first RPGamer column ever was c) "It Has Come to This" which happened back in August. You can go read it if you want to, but I think it's pretty bad. In the archives, my name didn't correspond to the column, but that was a mis-print... or, rather, a typo-of-sorts. I didn't put it there on purpose, anyway, for those of you who caught it. 10 points for all you keeners who guessed correctly!

For the next one... indeed, the only animals that live on my farm are the mice, snakes, toads, and insects that dwell between rows of vegetables, so e) There are no animals was the correct response for 15 points. I do have an ultracute puppy named Zack, but he's not a farm dog as much as he is a very lazy family pet.

Like always, mail ME to participate! It just has to be a little blip with your answers and a nickname; or you can append whatever nagging questions are on your mind to the response so that I may answer them in a future edition of Q&A. The choice is yours!
For today:

Question #9: Matt put up a column last week in which the first word of the introduction was very evidently and embarrassingly missing a capital letter. What word should he have corrected? (10 points)

a) "Walking"
b) "Faced"
c) "Well"
d) "Der"
e) "I"

Question #10: If you were to get these questions right, what is the maximum number of points that you could have potentially earned to this point in the amazing SOCK? (10 points)

a) 80
b) 95
c) 110
d) 130
e) 150



2 points per response guaranteed! Not just for a limited-time only, either.

I guess that now, I can finally say good day, good bye, and what-have-you. Write in, and we'll respond with a 98% probability! Why not 100%? Well... I'm not sure. Just make sure your subject line isn't "glamourous watches for under $100", and you'll have a pretty good chance.

Anyway, lots of news since I was last in the captain's chair...why don't you guys tell me what you think of the newly-made announcement for the remakes of Final Fantasy V and VI? Does this bring you happiness? What "new content" is Square Enix going to make us play with? How about those 3-Dish graphics for FFIII DS? My ears (and eyes) are burning!

Until next time...

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt really hates it when coughing sounds more like dying.

Send a Question

Someone got TWO POINT FIVE out of forty on the math test I just marked! Isn't that just so unbelievably terrible that it causes you to involuntarily smile? I marked nicely, too (remember... I'm benevolent.)

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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. Final Fantasy III

Cookie o' the Update:

Mattie's Post-Thanksgiving Relief Cookies

-1 cup of flour

-1 bottle of Pepto-Bismol

-a handful of Tums (they have calcium! Other antacids don't...)

-3 or 4 egg whites, for fun

-some sprinkles (rainbow, preferably)

Add the Pepto-Bismol and egg whites to the flour and stir until mixture is bubble-gum pink throughout with a muddy consistency. Crush the Tums somehow into a fine powder and mix well into the other ingredients. Spoon out small blobs on to a greased cookie sheet and throw in the oven until things smell really funky. Top with sprinkles, and bake for another minute or so. Attempt to enjoy after overeating on days such as the lovely Canadian Thanksgiving.

SOCK standings:

1. Nwash
65 pts

2. Jbumi
60 pts

3. Yugiohfan1986
57 pts

4. darkcecil13
57 pts

4. kupomogli
47 pts

6. Angel0886
30 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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