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New Year's Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve December 27, 2005

Matt Demers - 02:35 EST

IT'S COME AND GONE in a flash. The giant blob of extended family all swarmed in the door on Christmas Eve, opened all their presents, made a giant mess, ate all the food, and then left en masse out the same door not long thereafter. Somewhere in the storm, I picked up a few very nice presents, though, so I can't really complain. In the RPG department, I scored Wild Arms: Alter Code F (what I want to know now is why it's always written "ARMs" everywhere?), Radiata Stories-o-Disputed-Goodness, and the much desired Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. Very exciting... I'm sure you'll hear more in the weeks to come.

I hope that everyone is enjoying time with their family, friends, video games, or whatever, depending on how you enjoy spending this time of year. I'm going to spend a small chunk of it answering some questions now, so buckle up your seatbelts. Oh, while you're doing so, trust me: I've been made fully aware of my ineptitude for forgetting who Cid is in FFX and X-2. It happens now and then, especially with the special festive grog a-flowin' (not eggnog... the stuff is VILE!!).




L E T T E R S
NOT THAT SLOT!!!


Didn't get a chance to write in one of my faux pas when it came to save games. Unfortunately, mine was not towards my saved game, but one of my best friends. I was about 30 hours into Baten Kaitos and my friend, having watched about half of that, started to play for himself. He played about 7 hours his first day. The next morning, I pop up my game....and promptly save over his file. 7 hours for him, gone. I felt awful. I mean he played 10 hours the next day so it wasn't the end of the world, but still...that's a fair chunk of time down the drain.

Matt

Okay, I'm so happy that you mentioned this, because it's a scary issue that's far too common. Even today, for any RPG I'm playing, I force any newcomers to save their files at least three blocks away from my own, if possible, to try and circumvent such unfortunate occurrences. Some games automatically store the save cursor's previous position into memory too for next time, but not all, and those that do not should come with a warning label!

Still on the topic of Baten Kaitos, I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of why I still love to play rgps in the first place. The first thing I commented on was how gorgeous the first village was and I said something like "Just like Chrono Cross..." little did I know, one of the graphic designers and scripwriters from Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross worked on Baten Kaitos as well. I KNEW there had to be a reason I loved it so much.... But there are far more specific reasons why I enjoyed the game. For an RPG to be truly great, through my own experiences, it must do two things. 1) It must be somewhat traditional. I know many games that try to stray very far from being a traditional rpg, but I find the best rpgs are still the ones that we consider "classics" that stick to the tried and true formula, but do it extremely well (Final Fantasy 6 is probably the best example of this. NOW, the second part, which is equally as important, as while implementing the traditional elements of an rpg, they have to have a unique trait that separates them from being just another rpg. IE, something has to be significantly different in the battle system, or gameplay, or something like that. You can't just have good characters and solid music, because many rpgs do that extremely well (Skies of Arcadia comes to mind...) but there has to be something tangible that makes the traditional game fresh to play. Final Fantasy X had the grid sphere, the ability to switch characters in and out of battle and the masterful voice acting (not the first game to do that, I know, but it WAS the first final fantasy to do it). Chrono Trigger had no random battles, amazing double and triple techs (ie it mattered BIG TIME who was in your party other than your main character) and multiple endings.

Matt

I suppose. A few traditional elements here and there make an RPG more likely to be enjoyable to me, all in all, but many people would disagree with you. I can certainly think of more than a few games that have many classical elements but fail to be anything near "good" in quality.

Baten Kaitos has the following: You can only level up at save points (i loved this feature), you don't gain money by killing enemies, but rather by taking pictures of them, the BRILLIANT concept of having you, the player, as a guardian spirit (breaking down the 4th wall never felt more natural) and the biggest feature....the card system. I loved every aspect of the traditional rpg storyline (nothing new, but i didn't care), good characters, AMAZING graphics and sound and absolutely horrendous voice acting (which I turned off). I was completely caught off guard about how much all of this worked. Even though it was a traditional plot with not TOO many twists, the original gameplay elements really made it worth playing.

Matt

You're certainly not alone there! It is agreed by many that Baten Kaitos is one of the strongest RPGs that the Gamecube has to offer, for whatever reasons they have to give, and you like it for your own reasons. Sure, the Gamecube isn't exactly home to a great abundance of RPGs, but we'll take what we can get, hmm?

I've played more than 50 rpgs in my 21 years as a gamer, and I appreciate the work you guys do at RPGamer. I faithfully read every Q & A hoping I'll get an inside joke once in a while that will justify my 60+ hours I put into rpgs i love.

Also, the definitive Cid was easily from Final Fantasy 4. Gruff beard, a hammer and a no bs attitude made him the best. I'm happy they made him a mainstay in the series, but him as a fat headmaster in ff8 and a...frog/emperor in ff9 was ok, but nothing near 4. Let's hope we see Cid return in his former glory.

Matt

Now that I've been refreshed on the subject, I can stick my tail between my legs and sheepishly say that I think that FFX had the strongest Cid since FFVII. Headmaster Cid was certainly not Cidesque, and Regent Cid was a disappointment too, as far as character was concerned, I found. I'm not making any bets on Cid quality for the next game yet, since it's way too early to call.

And now I'll share with you a moment that I remember as to why I KNOW Chrono Trigger is the best rpg I've ever played (still my favourite game ever). I don't know why I'm telling you this, it IS Christmas Eve though and I'm feeling nostalgic. The following most certainly contains spoilers. When you get the ending where you defeat Lavos without reviving Crono, the ending is phenomenal. In one version I got, everybody gives up on him and says he's dead, he's never coming back. Not Nadia (Marle). She goes through hell to revive him all by herself. When she goes up to Death Peak...and you see Crono's ghost and she starts running up to it....man, I still get shivers thinking about it. Here's hoping a third Chrono game comes out soon.

Merry Christmas Matt

Dollerz

Matt

If you ask me, it's not a matter of "if", but "when" instead. With Square's massive success for the first two games, and Square Enix's penchant for sequels, I'm not worried that sooner or later, we'll hear something.

Merry Christmas to you too, and a Happy New Year!



Festive holiday ova


I'm glad to see that another family in the world is as insane as mine is. While I've never had the demented sugar cookie making experience you've mentioned, we have done something similar with eggs on Christmas. To give you a few ideas of more sugar cookies, here's a few I'd like to see:

  • A reindeer mounted on a plaque with a hole in the head
  • Lois Griffin from Family Guy breathing fire ont o frosty the snowman
  • Santa Clause with his big white butt cheeks showing, and a big read hang print on his butt with a caption reading "someone's been a bad boy"
Matt

Man oh man; with eggs on Christmas, your family must be crazy enough to trump mine five times over! What do you do with Christmas eggs: hang them on the ol' tree, or scramble them for brunch on Christmas morning? Or perhaps you are referring to a different holiday...(I hope)?

Anyway, beauteous ideas. I've logged them away for potential use next year.

As for the issue of Final Fantasy X's Cid, my little bro informed me that, not only was there one, but that it was Rikku's uncle. However, he shouldn’t receive much mention in the favorite Cid contest because he was not memorable by any stretch. Some time in my life I intend on playing all the FFs straight through (like when I'm 90 and have time) and then I'll be able to tell you which Cid is really the best. However right now my bets on FFVII.

Matt

Hah, he's evidently NOT memorable, given my recent bout of amnesia. I'm going to be kicking myself for weeks, you know. You should have seen the way my brother pointed and laughed at me for being such an idiot when he read the last Q&A...


*mourns silently*

Memorable or not, it's still a piece of Final Fantasy trivia that should never have escaped this cranium; that much is certain. Enough about me, though: Final Fantasy VII's is a fine choice indeed, and number two on my all-time totempole of Cidmanship.

But to give you an actual question; Currently Shadow of the Colossus, Magna Carta, Disgaea, Wild Arms Alter Code F, and your favorite, Dragon Quest VIII are all showing up as RPGs on my family's wish lists. What are your thoughts on the order to play these games in if, theoretically, we were to get them all?

Matt

If you prefer Tactical RPGs to "regular" ones, OR if you don't have a great deal of extra time on your hands, I'd tell you to play Disgaea as soon as possible. The way the game is set up lets you jump in and out pretty easily, and the lighthearted humour is wonderful. If you like epic-style huge RPGs and you've got a lot of time on your hands, definitely give DQVIII a go. I'm so impressed with it, though I don't really need to say that... by this point, I think I've driven the point home quite sufficiently. As for the others? So many people have loved Shadow of the Colossus, I'd say it would be a pretty good bet. I have yet to sink my teeth into Wild Arms: ACF, but from what I've heard, it's pretty good too. Magna Carta, I'm not so sure about, so my final order is: Dragon Quest VIII, Disgaea, SOTC, WA:ACF, Magna Carta. Well, unless you want to save the best for last, that is. In that case, do what you will!



Sit and wait... and wait... and watch your Fol fall...


First off, in your last column you said that you couldn't think of the Cid from Final Fantasy X. There is one, Rikku's father. He pilots the Farenheit (the airship). At least I'm pretty sure that's him... I'm not 100% sure... I haven't played FFX in quite a while. Maybe I should replay it...

Matt

Note to self: Make more mortifying failures in the future in order to generate massiver-than-usual amounts of e-mail.

On to the next subject!

I wanted to know your thoughts on a 5th Star Ocean game. I think that would be an AWESOME idea! Though if they do, I think they should revert back to the SO2 SP Skill system and item creation system. They were much better than the SO3 one. Also if SO3 had more of a free battle system like SO2 did, that would be great. What I mean by that is... when Fayt normal attacks.. he's really slow and you can't constantly slash in SO3 like you could do in SO2. It was kind of disruptive of the gameplay... though maybe that's why you rarely ever normal attack in that game. It's always... "Air..RAID!" or "Ethereal....BLAST!" or "Sidekick! Sidekick! Sidekick! Sidekick!" Y'know? But anyways, though I haven't beaten that game yet (I already know how it ends so I kind of lost my will to play) I still really like the battle system and some of the really hard bosses too. My friend has been trying to beat Freya for MONTHS. Even I tired, he's level 255 and everything, it's just that hard! I think he needs more bombs.... but they're hard to make. Anyways, no more rambling. I also think they should bring Star Ocean: Blue Sphere over and make it for the GBA, I played a Japanese ROM for that game and it's so fun! But.. kinda hard when you can't read any of it. It's actually a sequel for SO2 which is why I wanted to play it so bad.

Alright, I gotta stop writing or else I...y'know.. won't.

See ya!

Matt

Being a pretty big Star Ocean: The Second Story fan myself, I too was quite disappointed with many of the things that Till the End of Time had to offer. They omitted so many of the interesting skills and then made what was left of the item creation system into an annoying, boring, expensive chore that was a pain in the neck to use and almost completely pointless 95% of the time. Also, the battle system in II was far more responsive, and at least for me, the AI of the uncontrolled allies was a great deal better.

I share your sentiments about end-of-game spoilers, too. There is nothing that destroys a great healthy drive to play a game than finding out from someone else's blabbings about what happens at the end of it all. It's an absolute tragedy for me, and is one of the biggest reasons that I went out and bought DQVIII on the very day it was released.

I suppose that Blue Sphere wasn't released here over fears that it wouldn't sell spectacularly. Also, I think it came out at just about the time that Enix was starting to stretch its legs again in North America after being nigh-absent for many a moon. Perhaps these are factors? We may never know.



Busy busy as an evil stinging bee


Hello there.

I've been reading QnA for quite some time now, and something troubles me. I've been playing rpgs since the dawn of dragon warrior I and its ilk, but I don't see how its at all possible to play as many rpg's as so many claim to have played, without being completely unsocial, undernourished, unrested, or any combination of such. I work at least 40 hours a week, eat normally, have a fiance, animals, and regular house chores. I'm still playing Xenosaga I, and i hear its supposed to be "too short". I've been playing for 2 months now. Damn responsibility. How does a typical Rpgamer utilize his/her time nowadays? My backlog of games spans back to Shadow Hearts I... Thanks for reading!

King Peekaboo

Matt

Peekaboo!

Trust me, I know. I put a large amount of my free time into games, but I definitely end up having to set aside time for it every week. For the past three months, I've been able to play anything for any substantial period of time on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only, and even then only while not spending time with friends or pondering my homework. The older I've become, the busier I've come to be, but I know I'll never lose my thirst for RPGs. For you, all I can say is to just find the games or series you appreciate the most, and play those first. There's a lot of crap out there, as I'm sure any big gamer would agree, so remember that a lot of what you're missing out on isn't really that much to get excited over. Also remember that having a life outside of video games is a very good thing!



PS3 shall be a pal...?


'lo again

Apparently the ps3 is going to be rid of the whole Japan/America/Europe thing. I hope it's true cause being a UK gamer, I always have to wait a hell of a long time to finally purchase a new game eg dragon quest viii!!!!

Matt

Hopefully your wishes pan out!! I don't know if I can fully understand the woes of non-Japanese, non-North American gamers, but I'm sure it isn't pleasant. If what you and others and myself have heard does indeed filter through, the future may be bright and sunny for you indeed!

Also, to answer your confusion about a Cid in FFX, there was, I think I remember him being an Al Bhed or however the crap you spell it!

Matt

Yeah yeah yeah yeah, I know, okay. :P

So, i might as well ask ein Question too, which i'll have to wait for an answer to until after crimbo! But anyways, have you got any info on Shining Force Neo? I like the look of the characters, but I'm not sure if it'd be worth buying if I only like the characterization?

Anwyay, Have a good one ,
Stef

Matt

Shining Force Neo looks like a drastic departure from earlier games in the series. From what I understand, it's a more fast-paced (realtime?) version of a tactical battle system, though I'm not entirely sure. I've heard a few good things about it, in fact, but while I put it on my Christmas list, it didn't appear under the tree on Christmas morning. I don't know much more beyond that, but it has been enjoyable for some, if that's any indication.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Hopefully that satisfies your appetite for a bit. If not, there are likely to be a ton of leftovers in the fridge... there are in mine; that's for damn sure. Turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes of the mashed and sweet varieties... the list goes on and on!

I won't be around to do tomorrow's piece, unfortunately, since I have one last family event to attend, but I'll be back on Thursday to answer some more of your burning questions.


Thus, it's time that I fleed. Ta ta, until next time!

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt finished off Dragon Quest VIII last night! *tear*


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