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Hit the Panic Button!!
November 23, 2006

Matt Demers - 21:19 EST

ACK! This will be a quick column, I'm afraid. The last assignment of my Master's Degree (outside my dreaded thesis) is due tomorrow afternoon, and suffice it to say, I have a long way to go. Tomorrow night, after I'm finished my marking, I'm totally planning for an awesome, well-deserved, uninterrupted session of Final Fantasy XII.

No beating around the bush today! Let's begin.




LETTERS
Rebuttals I and II


Hi Matt,

I'm a casual Q&A reader/submitter, but there are two points mentioned in your 11/22 column that I wanted to respond to. First, in regards to the people selling the PS3's for ridiculous amounts of cash on eBay, you said this:

"I find the eBay re-sellers to be a slimy folk. At least, I think that buying and re-selling at a ridiculous price is a slimy way to make a load of cash; it's hardly an honest buck."

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on the simple premise that it's not the SELLER'S fault that the console is going for such an inflated price. It's the BUYER'S fault. This is a two-fold issue which utilizes simple supply and demand as well as basic capitalism. How can you consider someone "slimy" just because they were willing and able to take advantage of some idiot who would actually pay $4000 for a system that will be readily available in six months? Is it slimy because these people are being entrepreneurial? Have you never sold something of yours for more than you bought it for? I own Panzer Dragoon Saga, one of the most sought-after RPG's of all time. If I chose to sell it on eBay for six times what I paid for it years ago, would you consider me slimy too? What should these eBayers do, just sell the console for the same price they bought it for just because that would be the moral thing to do? This arguement has come up on local talk radio in Chicago recently about how it's "immoral" to sell these game systems for so much money. What's truly immoral is the fact that there really are people out there willing to pay so much for it. Why? I have no idea. My point is, it's a quick buck these folks are making, but they're not going about it in a dishonest way. They didn't steal the console. They punished themselves by waiting in line in the cold for three days so they could make 8 times their money back. They have the supply for an insanely over-hyped demand. That's just being a Capitalist. What's wrong with that?

Matt

It's true. They haven't committed any crimes or anything, and you're right: At places like eBay, it is the fault of the buyer. At the same time, though, this instant profitmaking is... well, I dunno. Evil? It seems evil. Taking advantage of idiots for cash perhaps makes the idiots look idiotic, but at the same time, I feel like it reflects poorly on the seller too, for some reason. There's nothing LEGALLY wrong with it, sure. But... argh, okay. I can just sit here and talk myself in circles. My only point is that I, personally, just wouldn't feel right about buying a new console and selling it immediately for 5x the price. It could be the white mage in me. Or, perhaps, I'm just the stupid one. I don't know.

I think that it's different, too. Your copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga is something that has become super-rare, and there is no promise that more will ever be produced. It's an artifact of gaming history, and so of course I think it should be worth more; I definitely don't feel that you going and selling that now is the same thing at all. Again, though, that's just the way my brain is wired.

And the second thing I wanted to respond to was your question about the camera in RPG's. It doesn't make me ill or cause violent seizures or anything, though I was initially *very* upset about FFXII's non-inverted-axis camera. The up and down functions as you'd expect, but the left and right is backwards from a traditional inverted x-y-axis camera control. That probably took me two hours or more to adjust to. In the first dungeon when you play as Reks, I kept running one way and turning the camera the other. Just when I thought I'd finally gotten it down, I'd think about it too much and still turn the camera the wrong way. It was very frustrating. But what bothers me even more is that now that I've trained myself on the camera and can use it fluidly during battle and gameplay, I realized that if I were to pop in other games with a similar camera control such as KOTOR or an Elder Scrolls game, I'd have to relearn all over again. It could be argued that FFXII's makes more sense since turning the stick left makes the camera go left and turning the stick right makes the stick go right.... but it's counter-intuitive to every other game I have ever played with the same camera control. I'm amazed that there was no way to adjust this in the config menu. That's the only factor that made me ill. ;-P

So that's my two cents. Thanks for reading and continue being "slimy".... HAHAHA. A little joke there.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Seth

Matt

Yeah! I totally know what you mean, Seth, about that camera. I'm about 17 hours into the game now (yes, I've been playing VERY slowly) and I still find myself zooming in and out the wrong way about 25% of the time. There's something that's just not quite right about the set-up to me, though I have to admit that I haven't played many games at all that include as "free" of a camera as FFXII's is. By and large, I'm not getting headaches anymore because of it, but I found the wooshing of the background to be a little bit much on the eyes in the first days, for some reason.

Anyway, thanks for writing in; I don't know why, really, I feel the way I do about buying/selling, but there you have it.



RPGs: Rollercoaster Puking Games (this was a bad attempt at a funny acronym)


Hey Matt!

I had a roommate in college who couldn't look at any type of 3D game. This was back in the Playstation and N64 days, when GoldenEye was in every dorm room and I was playing through Final Fantasy VIII. The first time we invited him to join the group and play, he had to turn us down, and gave us a big explanation. He literally couldn't make any kind of eye contact with the screen while there was moving 3D; it apparently gave him major headaches. I would have to pause my game whenever he came into the room, although at least he was usually willing to go study or something. However, considering how little we had in common, it could sometimes be convenient.

Matt

Now that's a bit on the severe side. It's a bit weird, when you think about it, too, don't you think? I mean, no matter what an image is, it's just a bunch of pixels on a TV screen, shining in a certain pattern, isn't it? The human brain sure is a complicated glob of goo. I have a similar problem understanding how blinking lights or flashing patterns can induce epileptic reactions; it's just light. Strange. Interesting, but strange.

He had a great subwoofer, though. Three floors of the dorm could tell every time I cast a summon...

Thanks!

BigWook

Matt

Oh, one day, when I'm living in my own place where I don't have irritating girls living right above me, I'm going to invest in an awesome sound system to enjoy my games with. I love playing RPGs with the volume up, generally, and when I have the freedom to, I'm totally going to take advantage of it!

Thanks yourself, BigWook! Good to hear from you.



Pondering about today's consoles and handhelds... and playing yesterday's games in the meantime!


Hey, Matt,

I took this week off of work to start on my newest game. Instead of FFXII (haven't bought it because FFX was my least favorite in the series & everything I've seen of XII just reminds me of it too much - maybe I'll get it when it becomes a Greatest Hit) I bought the Sega Genesis Collection. Phantasy Stars II, III & IV are on it. I've never played any of these games before, & I'm having a blast. I'm immersed in II (going to play them in order) & one of my main party members just PERMANENTLY died! This game predates FFVII by 6 or 7 years. Don't know if she'll be able to be revived later in the game. This isn't even the first murder in the game! Though the first wasn't a playable charater. I'm really impressed with the story as well as the gameplay. I haven't died (the revivable kind) this much in ages. The dungeons are complex; I really can't say enough good about it. The only thing I would recommend to anyone who picks this collection up & hasn't played them before is to check a FAQ to learn how the controls work. I didn't know you had to keep hitting the "action" button during a battle to be able to get the menu back to change orders. I wondered why once I input my commands everybody kept going until the fight was finished. It didn't seem logical & that's what made me check. It now really saddens me that the newer PS's are more hack & slash.

Matt

I see, I see! Well, why not enjoy something new, even if that something new is actually something old? As NBC used to put it, if you haven't seen it before, it's new to you.

That said, let me back up a bit. First of all, Final Fantasy XII is a huge, huge departure from FFX. It's very, very different in gameplay; the two are like night and day, in fact. That said, I would also say that FFXII is quite unlike older games in the series, too. It's unique in its own right, and I feel like it's a weird combination with bits of FFIX, FFTactics, FFII (yes, II), and probably FFXI. You'd have to try it to see, but don't rule it out based on the screens you've seen. ^^

Back to your obsession, though, I'm afraid that I've never had the pleasure of playing through a Phantasy Star game. I will say, though, that they will be among the first games for me to buy if they appear on the Wii Virtual Console one day. I'm hesitant to pick up the Genesis collection because I have just way too much in the way of other stuff to play these days. (...and the homework isn't helping any!!)

So that's my new PS addiction! As far as new consoles go, I still don't know if I'm going to get a PS3 or just stockpile PS2s so I can continue to play my library. I think the new gen stacks up this way: PS3 v. 360 & Wii in a category of its own. Now that I've been able to see how the Wii plays on TV (which is pretty close to what I had thought) I know I won't be getting one. It controls in the same manner that I play with Bernie (my cat). He has mice on a stick that I play with him. If I bought a Wii I'd never finish a game again! Heck with Bern jumping up every two seconds I'd probably never get out of the first area! So that leaves two new systems that don't have enough RPGs to make it worth buying either. I'm thinking that maybe by this time next year we'll have a better idea which of them will be the RPG console of choice (at this point it's pretty much a tie: Enchanted Arms on both, Blue Dragon & Lost Odyssey on 360, White Knight & FFXIII on PS3).

Matt

That has to be one of the most hilarious reasons I've ever heard of to not invest in a game console. "If I play it, my cat will go bananas!" I love it. But, I understand. Too bad... you might miss out on a lot! With Zelda, a new FF:Crystal Chronicles game, Dragon Quest Swords, and *drools* Fire Emblem on the way, there is much to look forward to.

Out of the other two, I think you're right: They look like they are about on par with each other as far as future RPG offerings go, though I have to say that the promise of FFXIII makes me lean more heavily towards Sony's side. It will, of course, all depend on where Dragon Quest lands, because you know how my world works: I go where my series goes.

I do think, however, that no matter which you choose, you'll be treated to some unique and enjoyable RPGs. Good luck in your quest to decide which one is right for you, if any.

Two quick questions. I'm thinking about getting a DS. Will it play all GB games or only GBAs? Also, how exactly does WiFi work? Do you have to pay for it & if not, how do you know where these "hot spots" people talk about are? (OK, technically, 3 questions!)

Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating!

Jbumi

Matt

Ah, the DS. The DS will play any DS Cards, and any Game Boy Advance games, but nothing before that. So no, it won't play GBC or regular GB games. Additionally, you can't play GBA games in multi-player modes, though that may or may not be a factor for you.

As for WiFi? It depends on where you are. If you're in the midst of a strong enough Wireless internet field, you might be able to tap into it using the DS, which has built in capabilities to do so. If you're like me, you might have to get a Wi-Fi USB Connector, which is a little device that plugs into your computer, acting to take the internet connection from your computer and throwing it into the airwaves surrounding it, creating a mini-wireless-field that you can tap into. At least, that's the way I like to describe it... I'm definitely not up on the ins and outs of the "high-tech" world. That device costs about $30, but you never have to pay to stay connected or anything like that. "Hot Spots" are just places where you'll be guaranteed a good connection. I'm not sure where they are, but you might be able to find out on Nintendo's website.

In any event, I hope that all of this helps you out in your decision making progress!



The Wii and RPGs


Hello, Mr. Demers,

Matt

Greetings, Mr. Uh, Blottie.

So I am one of the few, the proud, the owners of the Nintendo Wii. Upon playing the system, hundreds of wild and crazy ideas for games have sprung into my brain, all of them wildly inventive and interesting. I can only hope that some of these ideas come to fruition. However, the one thing I noticed is that most of my ideas don't involve RPGs.

The question, then, is what do you think is the best use a RPG could get out of the Nintendo Wii's unique control scheme?

Thanks for the many hours of enjoyment reading your column.

The Man They Call Blottie

Matt

I'm a bit worried that some RPGs could go "overboard" and use the motion-sensing feature needlessly, just because it's there. On the other hand, I could see some really neat ideas.

The most obvious one to me is one that focuses on skillful use of different weapons. For instance, you could start out an RPG with a sword; you'd have to learn different simple moves to progress through the game, until you find a new weapon (say, a bow and arrow), which would require an entirely different way of handling the controller. Perhaps the more accurately you execute actions, the more damage you could do, or the more experience you could receive. I'm not sure! You could have staves that require interesting twirls or twists to cause magical effects, or hammers that you have to bring down from over your head. I'm excited just thinking about the possibilities!

On the magic side, you could have a magic system that is devoted to drawing symbols in the air. Perhaps this idea is inspired by Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, which I'm playing through right now, but it would be neat to gain new patterns to draw as you progress through the game, each symbol representing a different spell; the most complicated ones would produce powerful effects.

All of those ideas aside, I think that the remote might just be an easy way to change the camera angle as you're waltzing around on a vast overworld map. Do you want to look off to the right? Just aim your controller, flashlight style, in that direction. Is there a secret door in the ceiling? Aim upwards to take a better look.

These are the things that come immediately to my mind, and there is great opportunity for a lot of amazing creativity here; the control scheme allows games to expand in ways that they've never been able to before, and I think that's pretty exciting. I hope that the minds of developers are hard at work to come up with some great and fun ideas!

Thanks for writing in, and congrats on your shiny new console!



The last of the GBA Final Fantasy trio: Is it lost in the World of Ruin?


Hey Q and A!

Q&A

Wow! No one ever asks me questions! AHAHAH! Sweet! What now?

Matt

Hush, you. You're only the title! Now get outta here.

First off, I wanted to vouch for that whole getting dizzy with a 3-D camera. That totally gets in the way of my long gaming sessions.

Matt

Aha. Don't you find that it's not so much a single game as much as switching between different games? I find that after enough time, I adjust to any one game, but when I'm thrown into another game with a different graphical representation, it can be a bit "woozifying" for the first little while; there's a refractory period sometime in there that I have to go through. Weird, I know.

You know what SUCKS, though? I haven't been able to have those killer-long gaming periods since I was in high school anyway. I can distinctly remember getting through an assignment and playing through Final Fantasy VII for ten hours straight, just because the game was awesome, and I had the ability to do so. Now, the ability has been stripped away from me! Stripped, like a suspicious old lady in airport security! It's frustrating. Grr. I'm okay now. Keep going.

More importantly, have you heard anything about final fantasy 6 advance? It's supposed to be coming out in Japan in a few weeks (days?) and the latency between the release of FF5 advance in Japan and America was only about a month and a half. That means it should happen here before Christmas. Why have I neither seen nor heard anything about it? Considering I am not the only person who feels that it [FF6] was one of the best games ever, shouldn't there maybe be, I don't know, a press release? Am I just losing my mind here thinking that there should be something out there somewhere?

Matt

It's hard to say. There's certainly a lot more text to translate in Final Fantasy VI than there is in either IV or V, but rest assured that the game is in development. Somebody just wrote in last week with information about it, in fact; apparently, it's nearly finished; there have been two new espers and a bonus dungeon announced! The two new espers are... well, I don't want to give them away, but they're cool; and the bonus dungeon is one where you'll have to switch between three parties, much like you had to in Kefka's Tower. I'm really looking forward to this remake, and hopefully it will arrive safe and sound to this side of the Pacific within just a few months!

I suppose I am probably expecting too much for Squinx US to release three games with a similar demographic so close together, but couldn't they have at least released the best of those three?

-ATG

Matt

Ah, it's on its way. Just be patient. I think it's the best one, too, but you can't argue that FFIV and V were both long overdue for decent translations. I'm really excited to see what's in store for the last of the 16-bit era, all shined up for 2006... or 2007!



QUICKIES

hiya, I just need a straight answer. What do you think are the chances of a Final Fantasy X-3 being made.

Matt
Slim to none. 'Zat straight enough for you?

Will Final Fantasy XI be compatible with the PlayStation 3?

Matt
At the moment, no. According to the link I have over in the sidebar to the right, Sony states: "Users are unable to play titles that require HDD for PlayStation 2. This condition is planned to be resolved in the future with a system software update for PS3."

So, there you have it.


MOGNET MAIL



You can send me Mognet Mail, now! If you have Final Fantasy III DS, send me your friend code, and I'll add yours! My code is 515 480 192 117. The moogles will be waiting, kupo!

Word is, one must send several letters over MogNet to open bonuses, so I'll be thinking of lots of questions for you!

Alexander M.D.

Matt
Really!? Sweet. I guess I'm not going to have many problems discovering those bonuses, will I? Consider: The only FF III I've had the chance to play over the last three days is to check mail. Stupid homework.



IN CLOSING

Oh, I'll be a happy camper come tomorrow night. I can't wait! Until then, subcritical Hopf Bifurcations are unfortunately calling my name (and louder than my poor copy of FFXII).

If you have any questions, comments, rants, or anything, feel free to write in! I'll finish up the week with a Friday column in the morrow.

In the meantime, I hope that all American readers out there have enjoyed a restful and relaxing Thanksgiving! Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope to see you again soon, here in Q&A.



Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: A fair bit better! Thanks!



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is not a vegetable.


Not yet, anyway.

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