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ASK MATT
Mind Your Brackets October 19, 2005

Matt Demers - 01:51 EST

I SWEAR that there are some bus drivers that just don't possess human emotions or any consideration at all for their fellow man. If not everywhere, then at least this is true for Guelph.

Allegedly, the #52 University/Kortright is SUPPOSED to come on the 00/15/30/45, but it has become QUITE evident to me that the drivers' clocks are running about 7 minutes fast. The obvious result is that if you show up at any time OTHER than when the bus is supposed to come, it will come.

It was 9:25 as I walked out the door this morning; the bus stop is RIGHT in front of my house across the road, so I figured I was safe to make the 9:30. Well, wouldn't you know it: I closed and locked my door, heavy booksack on my back, and I heard the bus coming to a stop out front. I RAN out as fast I could, waving my arms and making a giant scene; I certainly took a hit to my dignity this morning in order to make it there on time, and nearly got hit by a car running across the road to get to the stop (truly, a Frogger moment).

I was racing UP to the door when it shut icily; the bus then roared away carelessly. If the bus driver didn't notice me, he certainly couldn't have been observant enough to be a damn bus driver in the first place. I got many shocked looks of pity from some of those on the bus that had managed to make it onto this chariot that, apparently, I was not good enough for.

Moral of the story: I was ten minutes late getting to my tutoring session today, and my whole life has been ruined. Except for your letters, of course. Those are coming right up.




L E T T E R S
Another voyage into the realm of the unknown...


Heya Matt, I should've done this ages ago, really.

c) Rudra's Treasure

a) Just over 1,923, although I think e)'s a more suitable answer.

Also, the strongest armour in Valkyrie Profile is the Eternity Garb, for those who eventually gave up searching FAQs for that. ^^

Kartia also had a similar concept where you combined words on cards to make new spells, but I'll be damned if I can recall whatever nonsense my dad did when he played the game.

Matt

Kartia! Wow.

*flips back in the ancient tome of obscure gaming

Interesting, interesting. Released for the Playstation in 1998 by Atlus (they've been pumpin' out the games, haven't they?), Kartia was a tactical RPG in which you could collect ability cards, change the terrain around you, and battle against friends using a versus mode (something that SHOULD have been present in FFTA that wasn't...one of the many failures of that game).

Bizarre. I feel like I've spent my life playing games, and yet I also feel like I haven't played a thing.

And a question: In any game, has there been any characters you loved so much that you just kept them in your party for the rest of the game no matter what?

That should cover it, I guess.

DMJ

Matt

Oh certainly... I used to always be Cristo in Dragon Warrior IV so long ago, because I loved him so. Also, in Breath of Fire 2, I almost always had Jean in my party if only because he looked like such an eediot. Certainly, it wasn't for his power and muscles; he was pretty incredibly useless, like most non-hero characters in that game.

Since then, though, I've developed a strange ailment or disorder of sorts that causes me great amounts of grief if some allies get behind in levels or experience in RPGs. Almost all of the time now, it doesn't matter how much I love or hate characters; if there is a party-select system, I am compelled to select the lowest-level members without question. This works well and keeps your party well-diversified. At the same time, you can probably imagine just how long it took me to get through Disgaea and Makai Kingdom while exercising such a policy...



The Remake War continues!


Matt,

I feel compelled by some mysterious outside force (or perhaps by boredom. Whichever) to throw my hat into the ring on the subject of remakes. As you said in response to Chris, you don't need an excuse to play old games! IN fact, my problem is that I seem to need an excuse to play NEW games... an increasing amount of my time is spent replaying my old favorites. Before too long, I will no longer have enough time to play both new RPGs and my old standbys without hiring an expert in quantum physics to bend the laws of space/time for me. But I digress ( I tend to do that a lot). My feeling is that a game should not be remade unless

A. It remakes the game with a significant amount of video/audio enhancments

or

B. The remake in question is a very old game that many who have never played it would be hard-pressed to find a copy of (FF Origins, for example)

Matt

Don't apologize about digressions... if you didn't digress, and I didn't digress, then the sandwich of this column would lack a lot of the toppings that would make it an otherwise tasty treat! Since I NEVER digress (...), I'm only glad you do, for I certainly hated it when mom would send me off to school with a boring ham sandwich with nothing on it but a scraping of mustard.

You know what I think about the remakes. I guess that makes you my friend. You really should give new games a try though; they're occasionally fun and gratifying. Surely, there were many great games of the past, but that doesn't mean that are a complete lack of good ones in the present; similarly, let's not forget that the past was no stranger to terrible RPGs either. I think I just played less of them.

I've been a bit mitffed at the remake-happy Square-Enix lately... I've always had a love/hate relationship with Square (love because most of their games are damn good, hate because there are so many fanboys who refuse to play any RPG that isn't made by Square). On a related note, I fail to understand why so many gamers want a remake of FFVII. I mean, really. So what if it isn't as pretty as the later games? It's both perfectly fun, easy to find, and playable on current-gen hardware.

Finally, about question #18... as I mentioned at the top of my letter, the answer is c) Almost 19,231 decades. That translates into 192,310 years. So, nobody's going to E3 unless they (and you) cryogenically freeze yourselves, and you both use your money to hire proxies to write/answer for you. And even then, nobody will go to E3, because the Q&A will have stopped after the Giant Radioactive Space Kitten invasion of 4367. Darn.

Random closing statement,
DDX

Matt

I agree with you, but I still wouldn't be surprised if we do see the mythic idea of a FFVII remake turn into reality within the next couple of years. Fans screamed and whined for FFVII sequels after they saw the FFX sequel, and it seems that they're about to get those; they've been screaming and whining for a remake, too, and I figure that with re-releases of FFIV/V/VI in the next year's time, it sets Square Enix up perfectly to go in for the kill with a big remake of FFVII sometime in the not-so-distant future (perhaps the next big project after FFXII?). Of course, this is purely speculation, so don't go off to your respective message boards and start eighty random rumours based on my drivelous ramblings.

Trust me when I say that come hail, come fire, come space kittens, or giant 300-story-tall robot replicas of certain videogame critics, Q&A will always be here fighting through it with you, busily answering your cries as always.



Rudra no Hi-who?


Hello again, Matt!

You asked for some information on Rudra no Hihou (although it can be titled "Rudra's treasure", those who know their Hindu mythology know that Rudra doesn't refer to a person but rather a group of deistic beings. "Treasure of the Rudra" would be more accurate). There are two unique parts to the game: the multi-party system and the spell system. Anyone who has played one of the PSX Wild ARMs' games probably remember how they work at the beginning: your characters all start out on their own and you have to switch between them until they finally meet up. Well, Rudra is like that for the entire game. There are three parties, each with their own quest. Each time you load your save, you can choose which party to play as. The storyline take place simultaneously, so you see the same events from three different perspectives. I don't know about you, but when I played it I thought this was way cool. Also, there's the magic system. The spells are called chants or charms (depending on how you translate it), and basically you are given syllables that, when combined, make different spells. You can learn some spells by talking to people (notably bartenders, for some reason), and others you just make up by combining syllables until you get something that works well. To extend to the Final Fantasy world, it's like if you had the syllables 'fir' 'a' 'aga' and 'ara'. You combine 'fir' and 'a' to make 'fira', a base-level fire spell. But you can then combine 'fir' plus 'aga' to make 'firaga', a much more powerful fire spell (which also takes more MP). Hopefully I have been at least somewhat clear on this.

Matt

Woo... that is a different idea. Camelot should have taken some lessons while designing Golden Sun: The Lost Age. Something interesting like that could have improved the flow of the game substantially. It's been awhile since I've played, really, and I can't believe that I'm having some pangs to go back to it now. MUST KEEP READING- these feelings will be quelled, I hope.

It is also a pretty cool system, because you spend a lot of time running around making up words, using them in battle, and seeing if they do anything. Being a scientific type person, when I was playing it I kept a list of prefixes, roots, and suffixes I had discovered and how they could be chained together. This seems suspiciously like a game to teach young children grammar and vocabulary, but the words are all nonsense.

I'm guessing that either Square balked at the work it would take to localize the incantation system, or they were still going through their phase where they honestly thought American gamers were retarded and preferred titles like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest over Final Fantasy V. Chances of ever seeing this game in English are slim, but with how remake-crazy they've been lately, who knows? Maybe we'll actually see Bahamut Lagoon Advance, Treasure Hunter G DS, and Treasure of the Rudra as a dark horse title for the Revolution!

Cheers,
Nathan

Matt

Hey Nathan, thanks for sharing your knowledge. It sounds like a pretty interesting game. Seeing as we have no idea what's being served up for the Revolution, you never know; having a gyroscopic controller could make drawing letters in mid-air a feasible idea, for a twist on slapping syllables together.

Squaresoft went through a phase where they thought we were a little slow over here; with the simplification of FFIV before its arrival here and also with Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, I'm not sure exactly what was going through their heads. Also, while Square IS remake crazy, it is only remake crazy with their crazy-popular franchise, since it would be crazy for them to release crazy games of yesteryear that possess a current fanbase countable in only thousands. Rather, these "dark horse" series are the ones that I think we're more likely to see some innovation in one day soon. IF indeed they make new sequels to some lesser-known games and release them here, we might find some new gems to dwell upon for a change.



I'll take any chance I get to complain about school


Hey Matt, I've written in to Q&A in a very long time.

PDEs, huh? I've done a couple of courses in PDEs... the first course was not very much fun but I don't think it was due to the subject.

Matt

Yeah, it's pretty painful, really. Finding classical solutions seems to take a ridiculous amount of paper and more memorization than what it's worth. This is my second course in Partial Differential Equations, though, and it seems to be flowing at a somewhat more acceptable pace. The professor that taught me the first course, by the way, also had a very curious accent that. Caused! Her! To. Accentuate! Every! Word! In. Every. Sentence! She! Spoke! In. The. Same! Disjointed! Shrill! Voice! Which. Was. Very! Grating! Since. I. Had! Her! For. Two! Classes! Back-to-back! That! Semester!

I drew a doodle of her once during class and scanned it; I suppose I could stick it here if you wanted to see it.

Here's Anna!


We all called her the "Queen of Grey" because she would wear like four different items of clothing, each with its own distinct shade; when added to her perfectly evenly silver hair, her skin seemed extra-vibrantly colourful in contrast. What a bizarre lady.

1. I was reminded of FFT (not advance) the other day and I realized that I can't really remember how the game concludes. I can remember certain character deaths in Chapter 4 and a battle involving a garrison. Would you be able to give me a few hints - I don't think I'll have the time to play it again anytime soon.

Matt

G-hod, it's been many years since I actually beat FFT (not advance) myself, so I'd be hard pressed to remember many details with much accuracy even if I wanted to tell all! The story of FFT was really rich, but it was also terribly translated, and when indeed I played it at the age of fifteen, my attention span probably didn't catch it all. Perhaps it's just as well that I don't convey any details through this column; I wouldn't want to SPOIL it for anyone who hasn't played, of course. Next time I play, I need to do an Orlandu-less quest... that guy is just so damn cheap, it hurts.

2. I like RPG remakes. The idea of it, I mean. I'm generally pretty nostalgic... I look back at many games from the SNES/PSX era and think "these are great games". In some cases, there have been re-releases but I wonder if we'll ever start to see more RPG remakes. I'm looking forward to Alter Code F - I think it has amazing potential. Comments?

Matt

Me too, and that's just because I never discovered Wild ARMs the first time around. I guess that makes me something of a hypocrite, doesn't it? It's easy to say "I'm sick of all the remakes" when all of the remakes are those of games I've played before. To then turn around and support a Wild ARMs remake might seem a little fishy at first, but I don't think it is. It is definitely true that WA is a series that has not had even close to as much popular exposure as the Final Fantasy series, so I think there are a lot of potential fans out there like myself who are itching to give it a spin, now that word of mouth has declared that, yeah, it's a pretty good series. This is, of course, in contrast to the Final Fantasy series, which already reached the top of its current popularity curve quite awhile ago now (just look at the sales figures if you don't believe me!) What's the difference? WA stands to gain many new fans from Alter Code F, while FF's remakes seek to wring as much money as they can out of the already-existing-and-diminishing fanbase.

It's not a ZING; it's the truth.



Thrifty Entertainment not involving rusty nails


I have a question that probably been answered before, but oh well. Can I play Shadow Hearts Covenant without having played the previous games in the series? It looks like an interesting game, but I can only afford one, as I am a poor and starving college student who lives in a cardboard box with a TV and PS2 as my only company.

Mary

Matt

Oh, please. There are PLENTY of ways to entertain yourself in a cardboard box, and there's no reason for you to be so lonely! You could, for instance, tear off little scraps of cardboard in different shapes and pretend that they're little pets; then you could play house or take them for a walk or pet them without even having to worry about paying for their food or cleaning up malodorous messes.

In all seriousness, I don't think that many game companies really aim to restrict potential new buyers by making sequels inaccessible. I think that if you're sure enough that this is what you want, there is no question about whether you can enjoy it. So, enjoy.



Pepsi points or Sock points? Come on, you've always wanted pointy socks, and you know it


Hey Matty,

Through simple arithmetic it will take 1923 decades to get enough points to go to E3, although I think it is safe to say that no one is going to E3. As for the other one, I need to guess - Mystery of Rudra will have to do.

As for the E3 thing... if 100000 of your devoted readers decided to give me all of their points and I actually had the 100 million, would you honor your promise and send me to the next E3? Or does doing that void the terms of the SOCK? Or did you just say that number since you never ever want to give out such a prize? I remember Coke or Pepsi doing something like that... and having to give a kid a fighter jet. Or Bart getting an elephant.

Matt

Psh. This SOCK is sooo better than Pepsi points. As long as I'm around, this thing isn't goin' anywhere***. Also, if I had money kicking around in large quantities, then sure, I'd put up an elephant myself. The problem is, the legal issues (especially in cross-border elephant trade) have got to be pretty stiff.

And no, you can't "transfer" points. You can earn your way to the top like everyone else! Come on, it's not that far away! Think in terms of geologic time: "If you made the entire history of the world a 24-hour clock, the next 1923 decades will be less than a tenth of a second... blah blah blahdee blah." This example clearly proves that my generosity is practically overflowing.

***contest subject to change without notice at Matt's discretion

School is taking too much of my free time... my RPG time is slowly disapearing... As such, I wanted to start a new game that fulfills the following conditions:

A) It is able to be played a couple of hours per day with days or weeks in between sessions
B) It must be able to keep my interest over such a period (ie I can't lose track of what I am supposed to do, etc)

The games I have stockpiled include: Dark Cloud 2, Makai Kingdom, Digital Devil Saga 2, Planescape Torment, Atelier Iris, Baten Kaitos, Arc the Lad: End of Darkness, Phantom Brave, Shadow Hearts Covenant, Samurai Legend Musashi and LotR Third Age.

Gotta get back to multiple exam studying now (been procrastinating too much today). Stupid graduate classes are too much work for what they are worth... ^_^

Sean

Matt

Well, if by "stockpiled" you mean "acquired without the time to play them yet", I'd say you have quite a meaty library to chew through in the next little while, especially with some more big RPGs coming up in the not-so-distant future. If you need those two criteria fulfilled though, pick Makai Kingdom (and probably Phantom Brave as well). Makai, I know, has a fragmented-enough story to be able to pick up at almost any time without fear, and the game is BUILT for half-hour or hour-at-a-time playtime installments. I used to play Disgaea for one battle or two between two classes, and I would have done the same for Makai Kingdom if indeed I hadn't purchased it during the summer months, when class is not something I had to worry about.

Graduate classes ARE too much work for what they're worth... I hear ya loud and clear, my friend. Don't follow in my footsteps by being a loser and dropping a course.



Random Replays and More Memories


Dear Wondermatt,

Upon noticing a slight deficiency in your letter levels, I decided to crack open the ol' question barrell. Upon finding that empty, I had to use my brain (egads!) Well, anyways...for a completely unrelated reason to just about anything, I decided to go back into my collection of rpgs and play one through to the end (I'm rather notorious for not finishing games.) Thus, I picked up the FFV remake for the PS1 and despite the loading times issue, I'm finding it quite fun. There's something satisfying about both gaining levels and job levels, thus making your characters doubly strong in half the time.

Oh yes, the question: have you ever gone back and played a game for no reason whatsoever, just to see if you could get to the end? If so, which game(s)?

Regards and congrats,

Peter 'Explode?' Brennan.

Matt

I don't know if this sounds "weird" or anything, but things were a lot different when I was very new to video games in general.

See, I never had a Nintendo or a Game Boy at first, but my friends started acquiring these things all around me, making me want and wish, whine and pine, etc. I would go over to friends' houses to play these games, and I would LOVE playing the original Super Mario Brothers, or Kirby's Adventure. I even loved a game called "Fun House", which was based on the kids' game show but really was just a puzzle game of sorts that had absolutely nothing to do with the program at all. Anyway, while I always found these games fun, it never really crossed my mind, for some reason, that you could ever "beat" them in any way. Sure, it might sound stupid, but I was a pretty stupid kid (like many kids out there).

Well, when I finally got my own NES on that VERY memorable Christmas morning (14 years ago? 15 years ago?), things changed completely, as I realized that with no "I have to go home soon" threat lurking at the back of my mind, I could actually play games and WIN them. So, I spent my next year or two finding games that I had played elsewhere, and doing exactly that: BEATING them.

Otherwise, most of the games I ever went back to were games that I had dismissed as "impossible" in my childhood but would suddenly conjure up memories in my adolescence. These were mostly NES games, including Shadowgate, Solar Jetman, Ironsword, Mario Bros. 2, Adventure Island 2/3... and about 500 others, the least of which include Dragon Warrior 3 (and I've already recounted THAT story). Finally seeing the endings to those games, though, is very gratifying indeed.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

So many of you have passed on your get-well wishes that they must have helped; I really am feeling a bit of a spark today. I'm far from 100%, but my head-cold seems to be subsiding quite nicely. I'm still abnormally tired though, and the idea of sinking into a cloud right now makes me want to close my eyes and float off into sleepy-bye land. Hopefully, things only get better from here (though I don't know when anyone would say otherwise at any time).

I've got some new ideas brewing for the good old contest! After all, we need to change our SOCKs from time to time, or else they'll get old and smelly, won't they?? Thanks to some of your e-mails, I have some interesting things planned for the weeks to come! What, what, what are they? Well, come back and read some more later, and I'll be sure to leak some goodies. Thanks to people that have sent in ideas! Keep brainstorming.

Oh, the questions yesterday. Again, almost everyone that wrote in got things right. Rudra no Hihou is most accurately translated as c) Rudra's Treasure. A few people guessed Mystery or Clue, but most of you got that one for 15 points.

Also, you guys make me happy, because you're all able mathematicians. It would take you 1,923 decades to save up, so the answer is a). I fooled someone who wrote in saying it was 19,231 years, which it IS...but that wasn't the question. A few of you guessed "e) No one's going to E3," but fool humans--that's not true! Of course there will be people going to E3. "They" might not be any of YOU, anytime soon, but yes, "they" will go nonetheless.

With that set of questions, we witness the third person to break through into triple-digit territory!! May we all take this moment to congratulate DDX on his heroic question-answering abilities!

Voila: ~


Also, I totally forgot to give Jbumi similar praise after reaching the same goal earlier this week. Many apologies, and one extra:

~~


Now, everyone... say Fuzzy Pickles:

Question #19: What ingredient does Matt almost always omit from any baking recipes, if at all possible? (20 points)

a) White Chocolate
b) Nuts
c) Oil
d) Raisins
e) Icing Sugar

Question #20: How much does it cost to stay at Park Place when an opponent's hotel is built upon it? (10 points)

a) $1,000
b) $1,250
c) $1,500
d) $1,750
e) $2,000

Send hyah, yah? It's never too late to start sending in, whether you want to SOCK me with your answers to my questions, or you want to SOCK me with some questions to answer. Either way works for me!

Three items up for grabs! Well, really, an infinite number, if you count multiples.

Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):

100 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
500 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #1 (5 remaining!)
100000000 points: All-expenses-paid trip to E3 (can this be yours??)

These weeks just keep flying by... we stand only a month away from Dragon Quest VIII now! You don't wanna KNOW how crazy my segments are going to be that week... BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!!!

Bye bye, until next time!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt does not like waiting 15 minutes for the bus.

Send a Question

My pants-fairy fund is up to 55 cents, as of today! And hey, that's like 67 cents, or so, in US funds!!

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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. Final Fantasy III
3. Mario & Luigi: PiT

Cookie o' the Week:

Mattie's Mom's Oatmeal Cookies
That's right! A real recipe! If SNES Final Fantasy games are my nostaglic video games, these are my nostalgic baked goods.

-1 1/2 cups butter

-1 1/2 cups brown sugar

-1 egg

-2 1/2 cups oatmeal

-1/2 tbsp baking soda

-1 3/4 cups flour

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

--------

-a little bit of cinnamon

-a little bit of white sugar

Cream together butter and brown sugar. Mix in the egg. Separately, mix together the next four ingredients with a fork. Combine the wet and dry mixtures. Roll into balls, and place onto cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a moistened glass dipped in a mixture of white sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees, and cool on a rack.

SOCK standings:

1. Nwash
200 pts

2. Jbumi
185 pts

3. DDX
100 pts

4. Ourobolus
90 pts

5. Binser
80 pts

6. Angel0886
62 pts

7. Arros Raikou
59 pts

7. Yugiohfan1986
59 pts

9. darkcecil13
57 pts

10. Gryphon
52 pts

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