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ASK XLASH & MATT
Fourth Time is a Charm
November 14, 2006

Xlash the Dwarf Berserker - 21:11 EST

HERE I AM FOR my fourth and final (this time around anyway) guest hosting award from the now departed SOCK contest. I had planned on doing this back in September but complications arose which forced me to take a break from online activities until now.

I'd like to take this time to thank Matt for creating and running such a fun contest that got lots of people interacting with each other and developed into a community of sorts. I will miss the little brain teasing questions, but all things must end and I am sure the next contest will be just as good if not better (no pressure there Matt).

Sounds like the orchestra is playing me off the stage so lets get to the letters.




LETTERS
You don't have the SNIFFLES, do you? Maybe you need some decongestant <3


SNIFFLES

Okay, strange word I know. Double usage today. Sniffles cause I'm going to be sad that SOCK is on hiatus, though I shall still read the column daily. It's just I lose an excuse to correspond. I'm really no good at writing a true letter for the Q&A column.

Xlash

I feel the same way. Before SOCK I was a semi-regular reader of QNA and had never written in before. I remember seeing the questions and thinking to myself that I could never get those right. Then somewhere around question #34, when he started the 'Follow me' series of questions around FFVI is where I decided I would give it a shot. I loved playing FFVI and even if I got the questions wrong I hardly need an excuse to replay some classic games.

It sounds like the inbox is already taking a hit from the ending of SOCK, but I think things will get back to normal around here before the next one starts. There are probably readers that cared nothing for the contest and will welcome a return to more game oriented letters during the downtime. There are plenty of games and game systems out now or soon to be out that are worth talking about.

Second reason for usage today, I was playing FF4:A again last night, and ran into Yang for the first time. Guess what?! Instead of loudly proclaiming 'ACHOOO!' before attacking the baddies on the mountain top, he proclaimed 'Hiyah!' Okay, I know the second one makes more sense, but the first one made me laugh each time I read it! *sigh* At least they left the 'spoony bard' reference in Damcyan.

Xlash

Ah sweet memories of yesteryear when the sky was bluer, the grass was greener and karate men sneezed when they attacked... those were the good ole days. Honestly, I always thought the ACHOOO was a mistake or a joke and the change didn't really bother me. Of course that might have something to do with the fact that IV is not high on my list of favorite FFs. Don't get me wrong, I love the game but I tend like games I can customize more. Replays of FFIV all the felt the same, whereas with all the other FFs I had some measure of control, be it party selection(VI,VII,VIII,IX,X,XII), class selection/changes(I,III,V), weapon/magic proficiencies(II), espers/materia/GF linking(VI,VII,VIII), sphere grids(X) or licenses(XII). The Advance version makes up for this by letting you change party members later in the game and because of this I rank it above IX which only allows minor customization IMO.

So, since I am slowed, just the one question answered. Do you realize you had me counting the speaker holes on my DS at home for this question? It was right next to me since I've been playing FF4:A on it as opposed to the GBA cause I can use regular headphones with the DS. Bliss!

#370 - e) 44

Have a great one!
Maggie ^_^


Matt

Hahahaha... it's what I do best! But hey, they'll be the last speaker holes you count for a long, long time. Unless you happen to be some strange variant who just enjoys counting them. Then, all bets are off...



Does Square Enix still have enough GBA juice left for squeezing?


Has there been any other information on this at all lately? As far as I've heard, it is "supposedly" supposed to release next month, which is odd, since I've heard almost nothing about the game, and for FF fans sakes everywhere I hope it doesn't, FFXII, FFV Advance, FFIII DS then FFVI Advance a month after those? My brain is already gonna explode thanks to XII and V, and III tomorrow...ugh

Anyways, I'm just inclined to believe it's release (stateside at least) hinges on the success of FFV Advance, and Square Enix is holding off on it, moreso since the GBA is being phased out for the most part thanks to the DS.

Matt

I think so, too. I do, however, believe that Final Fantasy V is doing at least okay over here, so I wouldn't be surprised if we saw it sometime over the next few months. I did see some new FFVI screenshots not really that long ago, and they looked true to the original. But, it is, for sure, in development.

So what do you think? I want the game, but not near this trifecta of FF, but not too late either, so I'm at a standstill, it's my favorite FF, and I want to hear more information about it, bonus dungeon (or dungeons), new espers (so far I've heard of 2, if those aren't rumours), possibly new characters, after all FFIV Advance added Cid, Yang, Edward, Palom and Porom as playable members you could switch in and out of your main team, personally I'd love Siegfriend as a teammate in VI, or hell even Ultros. Although I'd love Leo more, but for story purposes that won't happen.

~Tiael

Matt

Oh, if FFVI does make it here, I'll lap it up in an instant. I absolutely adore that game, and I can't wait to see what extra material/new challenges/whatever they decide to insert. New espers and spells would be a fun idea, but it's hard to say what things they might introduce. It's been more than twelve years since the original was released, and if the quality is anything near FFV's, I'll be insanely happy. The idea of having a new translation is both scary and good. The original localization was wonderfully funny, but I've heard that it isn't terribly true to the Japanese script. Hopefully, we'll get to make that judgment call for ourselves fairly soon!

I think that all of those ideas are just speculation so far. There's no doubt in my mind that a new dungeon will be included, but the rest is more difficult to call. Does new espers mean having to create new magic spells to go with them? Perhaps new playable characters would be more likely, and would be more easily implemented, too; didn't anyone else find it odd that the character-select window was never evenly filled out by the end of the game? Maybe old man Cid will come with you if you can stuff enough fish in his face. Or even Gestahl, hungry for revenge on his former subordinate!



FFXII report #6, or 5, or maybe 7 (I don't remember)


Matt,

So it's not very often that I feel the need to rave about a game, much less actually write in to your column and tell you about it, but FFXII is making me giddy with happiness. I'm sure you get plenty of emails both raving and ranting about the game, so I'll restrain myself and only say that the game feels "finished" and "well-polished." Too often, promising games end up being not so-promising because some aspects just feel unfinished. I was really looking forward to Xenosaga, but the drab backgrounds and the lackluster music of the first 2 games really soured my enjoyment of the games. With FFXII, though, it feels like the designers gave it their all, went back and reviewed and edited until it was 100% what they wanted it to be. Some people may not like the final product (some people sleep on nails too) but the game is not lacking development in any department, for which I take my hat off to Squenix.

Xlash

My name is Xlash and I approve this message.

Okay, rave over, onto my questions:

1. Can you tell me who (if any) worked on Vagrant Story and then also worked on FFXII?

VS is one of my favorite games and as I'm playing through FFXII I keep getting a sense of deja vu. The character designs are very similar, the lexicon and concepts in XII mirror a lot of those presented in VS, and Merlose (main female in VS) is mentioned numerous times in the dossiers of the monsters. I feel more like I'm in the story world of Vagrant Story than I do the world presented in FF Tactics. The names match up with Tactics, sure, but the feel is Vagrant Story, at least to me. So, if you know, I'd be interested in learning who worked on both games so I can look forward to games by them in the future.

Xlash

I had similar feelings while playing and doing a little digging came up with this info:

I found 4 names from both teams and details on them can be found in the links below:

Yasumi Matsuno
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasumi_Matsuno
http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3148855

Akihiko Yoshida
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akihiko_Yoshida

Hiroshi Minagawa
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshi_Minagawa

Hitoshi Sakimoto
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitoshi_Sakimoto

Not surprisingly all 4 also worked on Final Fantasy Tactics.

2. Can you, or someone you know, add something to the reviews on the website so it indicates at the onset what system the game is for?

Sometimes I'll read a review during a break, get excited about a potentially cool game, and then be crushingly disappointed when I look into it more and realize it's for a system I don't own. Sure it's not a big issue, but it'll cut down on the personal heart break.

Xlash

Seems like this was mentioned once before at least but I have not seen any changes. With the many consoles out now and in the near future it does get hard to keep up with what comes out on what system sometimes.

Matt

I actually keep meaning to mention that to the review people as well, because it seems like a pretty basic thing that a review should cover. I'll be sure to bring it up the next time we have a meeting! Thanks for the suggestion.

3. I can't play FFXII while my roommate is home because he doesn't want the story spoiled (understandably) so I've been playing my GBA but I've run out of games I haven't played multiple times. Aside from FF I, II, and V, Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis, Breath of Fire 2, and Fire Emblem, are there any other RPGs (tactical or not) that you'd recommend?

Xlash

My advice? Give your roommate some headphones and let him play your GBA games while you play FFXII! If he decides to watch you play instead its his fault. This is why I prefer having things setup in my own room. Unfortunately if your roommate shares the same room that turning the TV won't help then I guess you will have to find some GBA titles to play. Sadly my limited collection of GBA games does not leave me with many options to give you except the FFs you didn't list FFIV:A and FFTA. As I stated in a previous letter IV was not high on my list of FFs but it did rank better than Tactics Advance. You might like it for the tactical part alone but to me the story was lacking and I still have not finished it. There you have it, 2 lackluster recommendations from me. Maybe Matt will have better suggestions.

Matt

Good question. You might have to dig into the past a bit, though, by rooting around the "used" sections of video game stores, or online. If you haven't played them already, Golden Sun is worth a try. The two games are a few years old now, but a whole lot of people really enjoyed them when they came out. If you like puzzles and the idea of something original, you should give them a try. Otherwise, if you can manage to find Riviera: The Promised Land (which will be no easy task), you'll have an even more original experience; it's quite unlike any other RPG I've ever played, and it was a lot of fun, I dare say. Then, there's always the Pokémon games...

Anyway, those ideas will give you a bit to build on!

4. FF III looks pretty cool and so I may dish out the money for a DS, but what other RPGs are there that would justify the money? I'm rather disenfranchised with the Secret of Mana and the Zelda games, so those don't count.

Xlash

I have a hard enough time justifying it to myself but the sad truth is I will buy the DS just to play FFIII. If there are other titles worth getting I may try them out but I kinda doubt it. As it stands I will have to wait until after the holidays to get them.

Matt

RPGs, huh? Well, there are a lot of bizarre little games that you might want to try out if you do manage to get your hands on a DS. If you're into the Castlevania series, you should give them a whirl; their RPGness, of course, is arguable. I thought that Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time was a bit disappointing, personally, as well. However, a lot of people have been enjoying the creative new titles that have been coming out; you might want to take a look at Contact, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, or Magical Starsign. To be perfectly honest with you, though, right now, the vast majority of RPGs that I play using my DS are definitely GBA games. Of course, with a spinoff of Final Fantasy XII coming out for the little handheld, as well as a Dragon Quest Monsters game and Pokémon Diamond/Pearl next year, there's a lot I'm looking forward to. There are a bunch of games that I've also seen screenshots of, but absolutely don't remember the names of. Take a look at the loooong list on our upcoming releases list and see for yourself!

Okay, those are all my questions at the moment. Before I go though, in response to the letter from Marc, I'd like to mention that the original Wild Arms had a very nice anime opening sequence and then if you waited a couple minutes after the start menu came up you were treated to a very nice additional scene that gave you some more info about one of the character's past. That's my personal favorite game opening.

All right, I'm out.

koala bob


Xlash

If I ever get my hands on that game I'll check it out. I still can't decide on what game had the best opening sequence to me. I remember really liking the opening song to Legend of Dragoon but that may be all I liked about that game.



Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy, and Interesting Challenges


Hey there, Matt!

Wow. I just have to say wow. Whoever writes Fire Emblem games does a very good job with each game. I finished The Sacred Stones over the weekend, and I felt it ended very well. They made the end credits worth sitting through, too. I love it when games do that (Final Fantasy VIII and IX come to mind). All that's left is for me to buy a GameCube so I can play Path of Radiance. My girlfriend enjoyed the game quite a bit, so I figure I will as well.

Matt

That's one of the games that I'm looking forward to most as soon as I get myself a Wii, be that on Christmas or shortly thereafter. I've heard way, way, way too much good about Path of Radiance, and I am pretty much in love with the series as it is.

My current gaming goals are to find the last six puppies in Kingdom Hearts, and to find out if the Cecil gets to keep his HP if he gains more as a Dark Knight than he'll start out with as a Paladin. This requires I level him up to at least 30, so right now (yes, as I'm typing this), I'm having him wander around just outside of Mount Ordeals, having him KO the monsters there in one hit (I do so love the Deathbringer sword), in the hopes of bringing his HP up past 750.

What I like most about this challenge is, it won't ruin the balance of the game beyond Mount Ordeals. And I won't have to worry about money for the next few hours of the game.

Matt

Aha! I think that many of us have fallen victim to this curse: For some reason, Final Fantasy IV inspires a lot of people to level up for no reason at all. I remember spending all sorts of time on the exact same mountain, many years ago, just to see exactly how far Palom and Porom's spellcasting could go. And WOW, they learn some really, really strong magic at a very low level! Of course, with FFIV Advance, everyone is pretty much able to see this anyway. But, back in the day, I thought that working them up to Level 30-35 that early in the game was just good, pointless fun. I also spent a lot of time once in the last dungeon mindlessly fighting Behemoths and Red Dragons in order to see what my party looked like in Level 99. It was easy to do, because it took me less than thirty hours to achieve that goal. Maybe we do miss the days when games were shorter, simpler, yet still fun.

Oh, here's a nifty challenge: play through Final Fantasy IX without buying items from item shops. Weapon, armour, and synthesis shops are still alright. And Chocobo Hot & Cold is technically not an item shop. I suppose if you want to make the game especially difficult, a better challenge would be a buy nothing challenge. Steal what you can, play Chocobo Hot & Cold, etc. Just don't buy anything.

Yay for being over halfway done NaNoWriMo already. ^^
-CW

Matt

Congrats! Don't lose the writing bug yet!

In Final Fantasy IX, I think that's a very doable goal, because the monsters (and especially the bosses) hold just about everything you need in the first place. I can remember back to the very first time I played through the game; I'd spend a good half an hour or more trying to steal everything I could from every boss, only to discover that yes, all of those things could be purchased in the next town. x_x

Anyway, good luck with the rest of NaNoWriMo, and thanks for writing in!



A Triple-Whammy of great gaming!


So the Apocalypse spell did nothing to advance him! Clever, clever! I should've thought of it! I'm really glad that it was deliberate and not random, tho' - makes me feel better about the abruptness of the ending!

Xlash

I would have been really surprised if it had been 'accidental' in nature. I had been able to make lots of points all at once but nothing in the vicinity of that. Well played, well played indeed.

I too applaud CW's letter - that's pretty much the way I feel. I totally agree with everyone who ever wrote into you about how great SOCK is/was, even the ones I've never seen! :) I know it was a lot of hard work, and, more than how much *I* enjoyed it, I'm glad YOU enjoy(ed) it. After all, if it weren't for that, we wouldn't have it!

Xlash

'Nuff said.

And count me in as totally stoked for 2.0. I had a few ideas for the implementation of jobs myself. The monster thing seems inspired at least partly by Summons, which is really cool, and it looks like you learned a lot from this last year's game.

And as for jobs... Hmmm... I *wonder* which one I'll pick... Gotta think REAAAAAAALLY hard about THAT one...

*ponders hard!*

Leaper

Matt

Yes, yes, Leaper, ye who designed the scroll of Blue Magic, I just wonder what you want to be...?

Xlash the Dwarf Berserker

Oh yeah, I had almost forgot about the Jobs mention. I just know Matt won't forget MY favorite class or all hell may break loose.



QUICKIES

No mail present to quickieize, today. :(



IN CLOSING

I walked by Blockbuster yesterday, on the way to the grocery store to pick up cereal, bananas, milk, and toilet paper, and I discovered something quite incredible. Facing the outside windows, Blockbuster has advertisements up that they'll be having something like 30 Wiis for week-long rental, with the cute logo everywhere. The reality is setting in, people: The next generation is here.

Interestingly, and a bit shockingly I might add, I read an article this morning from ctv.ca that reported that many Japanese PS3 owners have discovered that the system will not play all PS1 and PS2 titles as promised. Uh, what!? As if there wasn't enough gameplay to start; now some of the great classic games we thought we'd be able to play, we won't! Even though the idea is still intriguing, I'm almost certain now that it will be at least Final Fantasy XIII before I buy my console, if ever. Old games are just way, way too important to me.

So, what do you have to say about this? Is it really a big deal? Or is Sony just more evil than ever? Let me know! Write in, and we shall discuss these things as we have never discussed before!

Thanks, everyone; I'll see you tomorrow!



Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: You can do better than that!



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt finished off Xenosaga: Episode III over the weekend!


One more down, many more to go...

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Nov. 13: Josh

Nov. 12: Josh

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What I Want to Play:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

5. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl



What I'm Playing:

1. Final Fantasy XII

2. Xenosaga: Episode III

3. Final Fantasy V Advance



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