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ASK MATT
When the Midnight Oil Runneth Out...
November 24, 2006

Matt Demers - 21:19 EST

ONE MORE DOWN, and zero to go! Thankfully, I finished off that horrible assignment, though I lost a lot of HP in doing so. Do you know how much sleep I've had in the last day? NONE. None! That's right, not a wink. I wasn't even doing the assignment at the last minute, either; I was mostly ironing out the details in writing up a good copy. Let me tell you, it was quite satisfying to hand in the final version, but maaaaan, the path to get there nearly killed me!

Now, things get interesting. As you might have guessed, I'm trying to make it through the entire day without napping in an attempt to somehow salvage my sleep schedule. I'm writing this column in a woozier state than I've ever been while doing so! I'm a bit worried that I'll make some stupid typos or something along the way, but we'll see. Besides, I'd bet my bottom dollar that other Q&A hosts have written up columns while drunk as a skunk. At least I haven't fallen that far (yet)!

OK! To the inbox!




LETTERS
Gettin' Down 'n' Dizzy with Final Fantasy XII


Hi Matt

I just thought I spend my two cents on the whirly camera issue to say that I don't normally suffer this in RPG's but do suffer horribly in first person shooters and flight games. (That is probably why I don't play many FPS or flight games!) I agree that there are times when the camera in FF12 is really annoying but I haven't noticed any real problem with the blur issues other than in boss fights. I tend to use a character with a ranged weapon as my leader and this means that keeping back often puts me next to the walls. I do wish that Square-Enix had thought of that when they designed the camera and made its behaviour go up rather than around when this happens.

Matt

No, there isn't really a problem, per se, with the background. It's internal. Or, on the other hand, maybe the guys at Sony would like me to believe that it's because I'm not using a 2390852358230p TV with unintelligibly nonsensical features obscured in state of the art jargon and powerful-sounding acronyms.

Anyway, the camera is plenty annoying on its own, but mostly because it does that instant-pan-close dealie whenever you get close to a wall, pillar, or other environmental obstruction. Really, really weird. And irritating. But not terribly major.

On a side note I find it interesting to observe the behaviour of the nay-sayers for FF12. It seems to me that most people who are turned off of the game don't spend enough time in it to truly get the logic and or the setup of the gambits down. Once you do it is freeing to not be required to endlessly push X to attack. I like RPG's but there are times when the tedium of pressing the same button repeatedly gets really boring. Bravo Squeenix!

Good luck on those exams...may you possess your calculator +4

A

Matt

There are certainly lots of times in RPGs where you could just hit the attack button again and again. I find, though, that in most "traditional" battle schemes, I tend to change my tactics, just for fun, every now and then. If you have a hundred techniques at your disposal, why just use one? Add to the fact that Final Fantasy X put save points almost within view of each other sometimes, and there's just no reason not to squander your MP on more interesting battle pretties. Ah well.

I think that the Gambits have a lot of benefits to gameplay, but I won't joke. I've said it before already, but I really think that if I had to choose between having Gambits forever, or FFVI or FFVII-style battle systems forever, I'd definitely have to go with the latter. And that's just the way I see it!

Thanks for the good luck wishes. Trust me, I'll need all the bonus stats I can get.



Playing hard to get!


Greetings!

Another comment on the Wii controller--Although the motion sensing is cool, I think the real pragmatic application in terms of RPGs is the light-gun-style pointer aspect of the controller. I can envision tons of cool Mario-RPG-style timing action by "shooting" a certain mark at a certain time, in addition to easier menu navigation and Nintendo-DS style movement. Also, using the DS as a controller seems like an ideal way to play Wii RPGs as well since they can pop a keyboard or otherwise dynamic control data on the bottom screen but without the limiting factors of the DS hardware capabilities. I would be excited by all these fun ways to utilize this previously-engaging system, but after today I'm not really too interested anymore.

Matt

The DS as a controller? Has that been announced? If so... I'm excited! But why so glum? What hast happened?

I had somewhat of a mini-revalation today. I was waiting in a 30-person line for EB games only to have them give tickets to the first 5 people (I was number 12 or so) and break the hearts of the remaining 25. I realized that I have completely lost interest in the Wii simply because of the difficulty I've had trying to obtain one. I've heard people say that when you have to overcome seemingly hellish circumstances to obtain something, you appreciate it that much more in the end, and I'm not disputing that claim. My issue is that I've now been through 2 really aggrivating lack-of-Wii-acquisition experiences, and it's just soured the feeling of the console. When I think about the Wii, the motion-sensing frenzy no longer comes to mind. I think of hitting Refresh for 6.5 hours only to never even see the purchase button, just a "Unavailable" to "Sold Out" between minute-refreshes. Now I think of the little douchebag whose dad was literally linebacker-charging through the mall at 4 a.m. to spoil his ugly little demon.

Matt

Trust me, you're not the only one who is doing this, and I want one too. But yeahhh... that's probably an unhealthy habit to get into. It reminds me of when I'm procrastinating instead of doing homework. You know, when you've gone to alllll of your favourite websites, and then you start clicking "refresh" on the ones you just visited 30 minutes ago because you just know that you have work awaiting you once you're finished? Sorry, that was random.

Don't get too down. This is a really, really long-anticipated console launch, and I'm pretty sure that Nintendo is getting them off the assembly lines as quickly as they possibly can. Hang in there...

Is this typical? Back before I switched my major from psych to business/communications, I remember learning about classical conditioning and I think I'm a victim of negative Wii classical conditioning. Has this happened to any of the other have-nots thus far? I'm gonna have to get one as a gift or just wait til they're as commonplace as virgins playing WoW, because I don't even have the desire to try and track one down anymore. I'd rather think happy thoughts about my girlfriend--even our nastiest fights can't outweigh the happy memories....then again if I had to hit refresh on her every minute to no avail I'd think differently... Keep doin your collumn thing--first time I've read it regularly since Thor Antrim used to completely regulate RPGamer. Hope he's doin alright these days...and that he's cut that damn Fabio hair.

-Dan, Doby G, Swerd Murderous, any other nicknames I'm forgetting

Matt

Ohhh... Mr. Murderous Doby Dan guy, I'm sorry to hear. You know, your story really reminds me of the way I used to be when I was a little kid. I rented games often as a youngster, and I'd get really, really excited if mom decided to stop at the video rental store on the way home from piano lessons. Well, there were some weeks there where I'd go in searching (and yearning) to play a game in particular, only to find that it had been rented out to someone else already. This sort of thing sometimes happened for weeks in a row, and it was totally saddening; almost depressing. I guess I had no life. Anyway, your story seems to be somewhat similar. Just remember, though, that it'll only be a few months before they're fully stocked at every video game store. And hey, with some of those errors and glitches happening here and there, perhaps it's a good thing that you won't have a Wii from the first "crop," if you will.

You can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. We can both do it! We'll be playing soon, rest assured.



Final Fantasy: Flawed?


Matt: Here's a question for your column. Keep up the good work!

Matt

That seems like more of an exclamation than a question, honestly. I'm glad you're enjoying it, though!

Is it just me?

Matt

Ah, that's more like it.

After four years of eager anticipation plus a week-and-a-half of bated breath post launch, I've finally got my hands on Final Fantasy XII. But now that I'm 15-or-so hours into the game, I'm feeling a bit let down.

Is it the graphics? No, they look great. How about the battle system? No, that's a lot of fun--and often intense because of the many more-difficult-than-expected situations that pop up. The music? I enjoy listening to it, thank you very much. The characters? The story? Now I think you're on to something.

I want to give more than just a damn when it comes to this jumbled, awkwardly thrown together collection of heroes, but that's just it: I can't get over how awkward the circumstances are that bring and keep them together. As such, I feel detached from my in-game personae.

With every cut scene and scripted event, I hope for more information about my crew--something that will allow me to connect with them as a player--but often come away with more of the same disjointed take on politics, war, etc.

What bits and pieces I do pick up on the characters are at best vague and at worst perfunctory. Take, for example, the introduction of Balthier and Fran, seemingly out of nowhere, with little explanation or development thereafter. Or, for another example, the introduction of "Lamont," when some random person happened to overhear the group's discussion of the next dungeon and then suddenly wanted in on the hunt for no obvious reason, no coherent explanation.

I need more than this. The standards for storytelling were set too high with previous incarnations of this game, as well as other games, for these methods to do nothing more than disappoint.

So I ask again: Is it just me?

Matt

I suspect that you and I are at a similar point in the game. I am finding the plot a bit slow to start, but I'm most surprised at how un-Final-Fantasyesque it is. It's so... typical, so far.

As for characters, I think that with only 15 hours on the clock, you still have a lot to learn about many of them. At least, I hope so! On the other hand, though, look at Final Fantasies as recent as FFIX: I still have absolutely no understanding of why Amarant ever joins your party (the scene where he DOES for the first time doesn't even make sense, if I recall correctly). Quina? Need I say anything more?

I think you should keep playing through it. I don't know if the storyline will get more exciting or if the character building will grow in the hours to come. I'll be there right along with you, though, as my intention is to blow my entire weekend on the game. Tee-hee.



Feeling Scruffy?


...I can't remember if it was in one of your columns where someone wrote in and asked if there were any RPG characters with facial hair... I found one. Haschel, in The Legend of Dragoon! It's just a mustache, but he has facial hair. Now all we need is to find someone with a full beard. I think I can safely say that there won't be any facial hair (outside of the Pride Lands) in the Kingdom Hearts series for quite a while!

-CW
(Unless there's something Sora's not telling us about his age.)

Matt

Well, you never know; some kids can be early bloomers. Maybe that Keyblade of his doubles as a handy oversized razor!

Other examples that come to my mind? Marcus, from the first GBA Fire Emblem. Tellah, from Final Fantasy IV. Cid, from FFIV as well. Melvin, from Dragon Warrior VII (what a horrible name for a legendary warrior). Actually, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that even Basch of FFXII has a decent-looking chinstrap. There are lots of 'em out there, see? Actual beards; some kept trim, and some not so much. But there's your answer! Can anyone think of any more?



QUICKIES

Hey Slimey,

I've been getting motion sickness from games since they stopped making pre-rendered backgrounds. I always thought it was just me because I'm sensitive or something. I've gotten car sick before making it past the driveway before.

Yet I still managed to put unholy hours into games I love. Tales of the Abyss is a fantastic game, owns my soul, but does make me a little motion sick at times. Still, I think my gameplay hours counter is about 125 and it's only going to go up.

--Carabbit wishes she had mognet

Matt
*gasp* It's so nice to hear from someone who hasn't sold their soul exclusively to FFXII! Congratulations! I've heard that it's a big step up from the less-than-legendary Legendia, so any Tales fans past or present might want to give this game a try. Write in with a mini-review sometime, if it pleases you!


MOGNET MAIL



I have no Mognet Mail today! If you have Final Fantasy III DS, though, send me your friend code, and I'll add yours! My code is 515 480 192 117. The moogles will be waiting, kupo!



IN CLOSING

And that's that! My four days are up, and the sun shall now dawn on our hard-working, good-looking, and crazed-dancing weekend host, Ourobolus. Give him your fullest attention and send him lots of mail, or else I'll get really mad and stomp around all over the place when I return next Tuesday.



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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is t i r e d!


In my english, spaces between letters in a word is equivalent to preceding the word with "really, really, REALLY!"

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What I Want to Play:

1. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Yoshi's Island DS

5. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl



What I'm Playing:

1. Final Fantasy XII

2. Final Fantasy III DS

3. Final Fantasy V Advance



Uhhh...

This space seems awfully, terribly empty, doesn't it? :(



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