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ASK MATT
Merry November 7th! November 7, 2005

Matt Demers - 04:41 EST

HERE WE stand, on the threshold of a grand new era. Yes, my sheep, this is the last week in my life that I'll be able to say "I haven't played Dragon Quest VIII yet!" Momentous? Could it be anything less than that? I've been waiting to say that for the last four years!

Of course, I have to be careful, because this is indeed not a D&Q column, but a Q&A column, and thus I should be addressing other games as well. I will, too, because Wild ARMS: Alter Code F just happens to be coming out on the same day, and this is probably the game I'm looking forward to playing second or third-most this holiday season.

That's not ALL! There are at least three other RPG titles coming out on the same day. I don't care quite as much about these others, though perhaps Magna Carta looks mildly interesting. I'm not quite sure why in the world all of these games have gravitated to next Tuesday, since more than one of them were slated for release at a different time, originally. Regardless, one thing is quite clear: November 15, 2005 will be an awfully busy day for the news-update guys here.

Let us celebrate!! I toast my glass of ice water to you all over this great November 7th. With that, I shall stop procrastinating and get to the letters, which have waited so patiently in my inbox over the weekend.




L E T T E R S
Music to my FEARS


Hi Matt,
It's my understanding that the music in DQ8 will be from the orchestrated soundtrack recorded by the london philharmonic. However, that soundtrack is not a complete collection of every music in the game. I'm not sure which specific tracks are missing off the top of my head, but does this mean that in some areas the music will be the original synth music from the Japanese version, or are they recording all the music for the american release with an orchestra? For example, in a town the music may be orchestra, but then if you go in a church it switches to synth? Doesn't this seem like it would be a bit jarring? What's your take?

Thanks a boodle, Ta ta for now!

John

Matt

I guess the first thing that my mind flips to while reading your question is the mediocre soundtrack of Xenosaga: Episode I. Yes, there are a few nice tunes in the game, but where there is no orchestration, there is either some static buzz from an in-game nearby monitor, some static buzz from your TV itself, or the "Daily" elevator music o' terror.

I don't think we'll have to worry about it too much, because a lot of Dragon Quest music, especially in recent games, feels orchestrated in the first place. If there are "normal" synth areas, I very much hope that they are well-done enough that it doesn't result in a patchwork quilt of noticeable leaps in sound quality. No matter what, we're not going to have to listen to static, and if the demo was any indication at all, the themes themselves seem to be very good (especially the overworld...it is sooooo good, and I love it). Music is crucial to a great game, as far as I'm concerned, and it would be a crying shame if THAT ends up being where DQVIII fails to please.



Starrrr... Occceeaaannnnnnnn Tw...o...


Hi Matt,
First off, let me commend you on the excellent job you are doing as QNA host. Of course, I didn't vote for you, but then again I didn't vote at all so it all evens out(I guess I don't respect the RPGamer political process and its no paper-trail voting).
Anywho, as to this week's SOCK, the first Q is, of course, E, and I'm gonna take a guess with the second and say the answer is E again, because they always tasted the same to me(that is, nasty).

Matt

Well thank you! The column is always a work-in-progress kind of thing, so if anyone at all has suggestions of things they want to see in their weekday Q&A sections, please let me know! You might end up seeing your own ideas appear every day. Are the columns too long? Too short? Do you want me to somehow include ducklings? I can't know what your deep-down desires are unless you let me know, and I'm all ears.

One thing, however, is inexcusable: Peppers are spectacular, and Red Peppers are one of the richest sources of Vitamins A and C that exist. If you buy them fresh (or eat them out of the field, for that matter), they're incredibly sweet, and if you gobble 'em down, you might extend your lifespan by 4%!

*Extended lifespan not guaranteed*

I guess I should ask a question. What is your opinion on the obscene amount of time it takes to "get somewhere" in the first few hours of Star Ocean: The Second Story? I recently had to start a new game 8 hours in because I had missed recruiting one character, and the beginning reminded me how much I hate the beginning.

Be seeing you, keep up the good work.

-Neclordsword
"That's somewhere around 80 points!"

Matt

Zzzzz...... zzzz...... zzzz... zzzzzz......

Yes, THAT'S what I did so often during the first hours of Star Ocean 2. In fact, I have a funny story:
I had just purchased the game before coming home for a weekend with my family, and I played it for the first time at home. My PS2 was hooked up in the family room, so it was highly embarrassing when my father walked through and discovered me actually asleep. He sarcastically asked me if it was a good game before walking out of the room grumbling about me wasting my time and such. The funny part was that I had fallen asleep while actually at the inn, in-game. I'm not sure, but the first hours are indeed incredibly slow, and when you couple that with some unexciting music tracks (don't get me wrong: I love the music later on) and BOOM! Lights out. I guess if I had had a decent amount of sleep, it might have helped things out a bit, but sleep is for the WEAK!



The big tease


Hiya Matt,

So here's my question. What's your take on why so many RPG publishers sit on their golden franchises as if they are actually the bad eggs? Examples include:

Valkyrie Profile: So, Tri-Ace has worked on what the past few years? As far as I know Star Ocean 3 and Radiata Stories. Both good games in ways, and bad in others. All that time Valkyrie Profile-- an undisputed masterpiece-- is pushed aside. What could be next gen defining perfection, is completely ignored.

Xenogears: Again, what is wrong with SE? Forget about Xenosaga for the moment….this game NEEDS a proper follow-up. Since SE has the original rights to it, they are the only ones who could. Yet, instead, they spend their time on mediocre incarnations of less legendary titles. Makes no sense

Chrono Trigger: SE, see Xenogears

Granted, these original games were all released in the infancy of American RPG mainstreamism, and they are far from the only examples, but at this point follow-ups (that stay true to the original) would make a huge dent in the doldrums of most modern console RPG gaming. What's your take on why the franchises are completely ignored? Is it just laziness on the part of the publishers? Are they afraid they don't have the skills to do justice to the namesake?

Sal Pancho

Matt

Read your own letter and tell me what it's doing. I can guarantee you that companies do not forget about their most prestigious franchises. By not releasing games as often, they build HYPE. People wonder "when will the next one come out?" after they finish playing a game like Chrono Trigger, and then after a few years, they start wondering the same thing, but in capital letters. Do you remember the buzz surrounding Chrono Cross when it was released? That kind of excitement doesn't happen when you release a new game in the series every year.

It's important, also, that gaming companies don't just concentrate on a single title: Tri-Ace, like it or not, has sold a fair number of copies of both Star Ocean 3 AND Radiata Stories; perhaps they sold more than Valkyrie Profile, I'm not sure.

Whatever the reason, I'm sure that you're partly right as well: If a company CARES about their best games, the people in charge will want to make sure that a follow-up to the game is of comparable quality, of course. I just doubt highly that that is the reason why we haven't seen Chrono Break or Valkyrie II, outside of whispered rumours and April Fools' Day jokes.

Xenogames make up a different story altogether. From what I can gather, Square DOES still own the rights to the Xenogears name. Time will tell if they actually decide to do anything with them, though you can bet that we won't see anything until well after Monolith Soft has milked their Xenotitles for all they're worth.



How can an Eternal Ring have an ending?


Okay, I know I already emailed on the previous topic, but I talked it over with my sis, and she had a few things to say herself, and weirdly enough she wanted me to say them...

1. Best endings - Chrono Trigger (especially the ending where Chrono actually talks), FF VI (can't go wrong there), and though not specifically an RPG, any of the Soul Reaver series.

2. Worst ending - Eternal Ring - cheesiest ending in all creation. I mean how are you supposed to watch someone saying the line "So this... is... death..." with a straight face while their voice keeps dropping an octave each word.

Matt

Oh dear... cheesy-sounding indeed. The way you describe it, too, I immediately picture a robot "shutting down". Of course, I have no idea what the context is of the situation at all, so my vision is probably a grossly inaccurate representation of reality. Anyway, I haven't had the pleasure as far as Eternal Ring is concerned, but I'll agree that Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger's assortment of endings make very, very good conclusions to their respective games.

And her question for you is:
Have you heard of or played the Kings Field III game? It is unknown whether this game really exists. She has seen I, II, and IV, but has not been able to find concrete mention of a third game.

Curiosity borrowed,
Monkey by way of MagRowan

Matt

Indeed, a little research shows that the answer is contained within your letter itself. Yes, that Eternal Ring you speak of is indeed the third game in the series, and it was right under your nose this whole time! Hopefully, in that case, the other three games have better endings. ^^



Bonus cookie jars worth digging into


Thanks for the ~!

I will now become ~Sean~~. Fun! Oh e to both questions.

As for FFX... Never had I played a game with such an easy set of final battles (I found myself limiting myself to what I would allow myself to do against the *real* final boss and just going to town with Yuna and friends afterwards). But then again, I don't think I have ever played a game with such challenges either! Come one and all to the monster arena! Can you defeat all the special monsters that the owner raised!

I can't. I beat 2 of them and then gave up on the rest. How does one survive a 40k damage hit anyways? I still swear that it cannot be done! And if it can be, is it worth leveling up 24782174 times to be able to do? And now I am tempted to start over and do just that... ><

Matt

Ah, you bring up such a great point to talk about! Am I the only one that "feels bad" about slaying a final boss too easily? More than once in the past, I have felt myself kicking some final-villain tail in the midst of a heated last battle, only to purposefully "slack off" and not use my biggest, best techniques just for the sake of WANTING to tremble a bit. I want a final boss to FEEL challenging, even if it's not really. Using Ultima repeatedly against Kefka does not make for a fun and interesting battle; having three of your characters nearly die and then reviving them desperately using a Phoenix summon before hurriedly getting in a Cure 3 and attacking when possible but CAREFUL! He's about to use... GAHHH!!! ACK! No! ...et cetera... Now THIS is far more fun; at least, to me.

Anyway, I never got into the Calm arena, because it seemed a bit tacked on, and I didn't have regular access to my Playstation 2 at the time. If I ever re-played the game, I'd probably put a little bit more effort into it. I do know, however, that a friend of mine had rigged a system so that his characters would receive more than a million AP every battle, and powered up his characters to such a ridiculous extent that he was able to destroy MOST of the hideous fiends at the arena (at least "most", but possibly "all"... I'm not sure).

I guess anything is better than trying to slog one's way through Lunar DS. I just found out that the enemies scale to whatever level you are, but don't give you more of a reward for beating them at higher levels. It's weird that you can choose to go through the game with high levels or with awesome gear (or both if you feel inclined to double the time you spend playing).



Matt

Ugh, so that's one of the things that are wrong with it, unless you'd rather call those two separate points.

Enemies that level up with you are the bane of my existence, and the number ONE reason why Final Fantasy VIII is not as good as Final Fantasy VI or VII. Monsters levelling up WITH you? ARGH, that completely defeats the original purpose of levelling-up, and quite honestly, there's no reason in that case that you level up at all. You might as WELL just stay in Level 1 forevermore and fight different enemies who are also at Level 1 strength throughout the whole game.

*grumbles*
The ultimate irony is, that by thinking about FFVIII, I still want to play it, because it's been years since I have.
*grumbles some more*

OK, moving on...

Do I have a question today? Yes, yes I do. When you finish a game, how much effort do you put into finishing all the bonus stuff? I find myself looking it up and completing *reasonable* goals, like killing certain giant bugs in SMT:DDS1, but completely ignoring those games that throw pointless 100+ level bonus dungeons at me. Emerald Weapon? - yay! Random bonus dungeon in Dark Cloud? - boo!

Have fun, Mr Mattematican.

~Sean~~

Matt

The extra tilde looks great on you!! Call me up sometime soon so I can see it up close and personal...
*wink wink*

My creepy stalker side aside, it really depends on the game. I'll put effort into unlocking bonuses and exploring secret dungeons and fighting special battles only if I've had enough fun playing the rest of the game to care, and only then if I have some extra free time on my plate. In general, I'm never in any rush to get it all done, but I'm not really in a rush ever. I think. Except for that time my kitchen sink overflowed... I was quite rushed then.



Jack? Jack? Jack! Jack?


In response to your most interesting question of disappointing endings, I could simply point to the end of "Titanic", when we all wanted to see Bill Paxton go jumping over the side of the boat screaming "Nooooooooo, you horrible witch!" - but you were asking about games, were you not?

Matt

Ooh, a sneaky low blow, and it's no longer in the worn-out category, because it's been almost ten years since the movie came out already. G-hod. I do remember, at the time, almost every late-night comedian/comedy series doing some Titanic mockery at some point in time.

You didn't like it?? Farrrr... acrosss the distannnnnce~ ! Where's a musical note symbol when you need one?

Therefore, I would submit two for your perusal. The first is from "Parasite Eve", a game I actually enjoyed. And when I discovered that there was another ending, I was curious to see the ending. I collected all of the pieces of junk and items to forge myself a sniper-rifle of immense power to take with me in the replay, a weapon I named "Mjord". I scaled the 70 levels of the tower, making my way patiently up to the top, up to fight translucent thing - a fight that strained every power I had.

And what was the incredible ending? Uhhh - a 10 second "OK, it's over". Alternate endings should be - I don't know - legendary. Incredible. Not "wow - I just lost hours of my life". Like watching "Star Wars Episode III".

The other game that just screamed "WTF" was the ending to "Ultima V". You save the world, defeat Lord Blackthorne, stop the Shades or whatever they were called, and restore Lord British to your home. And what is your reward upon returning to Earth?

You discover your cabin has been trashed by vandals and all of your stuff stolen. Wpw - talk about Karma. Yes, I understood why they ended the game like that - but dang, I was still annoyed.

So, there you have it - my modest contribution to poor game endings.

Have fun, and thanks for the times.

John Hummel

Matt

Hey, you can't criticize a game's SECOND ending if the first one was done okay. Or was it not done okay? I've never actually played a game with two separate endings before (in sequence, that is... games with multiple endings in the "usual" sense, of course). What an interesting phenomenon, albeit disappointing if it's as bad as you say it is.

Anyway, thanks for sharing. I must say, there is a certain charm to concise endings, but the charm usually comes with tinny music and 8-bit graphics.

Some thanks... where's the cash?






C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

That's all I have in me tonight, but I'll be back tomorrow with more, so all of you just be patient. Or, if you're bored, send me some mail... it never hurts to have some extra yummies to answer laying around the ol' inbox.

Now, I can wait no longer: Behold, the new and exciting TITLE BANNER THINGIE for a certain nameless competition:

Flashay!


Cool, huh? There's the first cameo of my feet on the Internet EVER... you'll get to see it every weekday now, so consider yourselves lucky.

*ahem* #36 was the latest entry into the FFVI-themed questions, and surprisingly few got it correct. Although it would be a foolish endeavour, it IS possible to travel to the final area without picking up d) Sabin on the way. Who is stopping you from continuing past Tzen? No one, that's who! 10 points to those that got it right. Oh, and thank you, Zohar Gilboa, for catching an error early on in the wording.

#37 is something that I am certainly an authority on... for those of you still in the dark, I have spent MANY hours walking down rows of my father's pepper fields, chopping weeds or doing whatever. Peppers are one of the most commonly consumed things in my household between the months of July and October (sometimes November, if it stays mild). Anyway, d) Greens are simply unripened, while reds are fully ripe is correct. There IS a remarkable difference in sweetness, though: Next time you're in a grocery store, buy a green and a red. Take a bite of the green one, and then of the red one. It will be VERY CLEAR that the red pepper is sweeter (and, in fact, even better for you). There's your lesson in agriculture for the day! 15 points for all correct-answerers.

Flamethrower!! You came as close as anyone could... but one more day should do you fine. Also, if we pay close attention to the top, we find that Jbumi is already well over halfway to a guest-host spot. Wouldn't it be FUN to work together on a nice, fun Q&A column in tandem? Oh, I think so! Keep pluggin' away.

Also, we bid farewell to Angel0886, but congratulate her as well for being hired as staff at the website! Gigacongratulations to you.

Question #38: (10 points) Follow me!--> What item can the only sasquatch enemy of Final Fantasy VI use in battle?

a) Super Ball
b) Dried Meat
c) X-Potion
d) Tincture
e) Green Cherry

Question #39: (15 points) Which is furthest south?

a) Windsor, Ontario, Canada
b) Rome, Italy
c) Eureka, California, USA
d) Sapporo, Japan
e) Madrid, Spain

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

100 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
500 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #1 (5 remaining!)
700 points: The Final Fantasy 1 "Official" Crazed-Chipmunk-Hold-your-Ears Soundtrack (5 remaining!)
1000 points: The Mattie's Mom Cookie Recipe Compilation (5 remaining!)
100000000 points: All-expenses-paid trip to E3 (can this be yours??)

Ha! That is all, my friends. For tomorrow, let's talk about all of the announcements, as well as the black hole of next Tuesday. What are your thoughts about Mother 3? Is the new buzz "for real", or is it just another tease? What game(s) are you going to be picking up next week, if any? Or, which of them is first on your Christmas list? Why? Why... the eternal question. That's all! See ya next time.

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt is proud of his new sig banner.


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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

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3. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana

Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:

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Cookie o' the Week:

Mattie's Atelier Iris Cookies

Get ready in advance for these by lacing up your best hiking shoes. Dr. Scholl's cushions help immensely too.

-1 piece of Spoiled Meat
-1 cup of Bread Crumbs
-1 stack of magic paper
-1 Metal Pole
-1 stalk of Tall Magi Grass
-2 helpings of brown sugar

Go into the nearest forest and kill a wolf to find the meat and a badge. Walk east until you reach the first town you get to and exchange the badge with a random shopkeeper for the Magic Paper. Scout the area for Tall Magi Grass; if you don't find any, walk away and come back again and again until some happens to appear, and take a stalk. If in your walking back and forth, you happen upon a werecat, beg it for some Berry Mousse and take that two towns over to exchange for a metal pole. If they aren't sold out of it, buy brown sugar from the local store; if they are, travel back to the FIRST town and purchase it there, but talk to the girl in the bakery before you go six different times until she reveals her recipe for bread crumbs. Buy a few dinner rolls from her and use them to synthesize bread crumbs; then buy THOSE. Now, you have all of the ingredients! Throw them all together, and they'll change remarkably in appearance into something delicious, prompting a humourous bit of banter between your allies. Enjoy!

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