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December 1, 2006

Matt Demers - 17:54 EST

I GOT MY FINAL EXAM TODAY, sadly. My math partner-in-crime, Jelena, and I, were talking in the mall today about it; she's planning on picking it up in a week or so. It doesn't matter when you pick it up; you have exactly one week from that time to complete it. So, I told her I'd take a look at it and judge how "rough" it would be on a scale from 0 to 10, with "0" being "you could do this in your sleep... literally" and "10" being "you will die." It's an 8. Ahhh! I'm scared.

As it is due in a week, my columns may be a bit abbreviated between now and then. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, you guys sure didn't feel like talking much today! I got like one new message in my inbox today. What do you think this is? Happy-go-funland? I need LETTERS, dammit, so slave away! (*ahem* Don't feel obligated... I do understand that this is an exceptionally busy time of year, as indicated by my previous paragraph.)




LETTERS
And writerrrrrs... stop!


Hey there, Matt!

You could say that this week has been far better than last week. A lot better.

I have hit 50000 words, and thus I am now a NaNoWriMo winner. All of the rewards I bought for myself I can now enjoy, all of the gaming I sacrificed to write those words... I can now sit back and relax.

Matt

Congratulations!

*insert Final Fantasy VI victory theme*
Why FFVI? Because it's the one with the most OOMPH, I find. It's just all-around great. And whoo-hoo for you! 50,000 words in one month? That's more than 1,500 per day! Quite the achievement indeed. You do deserve some leisure time, so kick back and relax a bit!

Speaking of gaming, Pokémon Yellow arrived on Friday. Thank you again for the note and the opportunity to win such a prize. :) Bainick: the game is in very good paws.

Matt

I'm glad it arrived safe and sound!

Sure, it's not a big shiny new game, but it's cool that the contest has allowed for a game to travel from the hands of one RPGamer to another all the way across the world. I hope you enjoy it!

Final Fantasy XII spoilers can lurk anywhere. Here is a word of caution: until you finish the game, do not look at Hiro Nakamura's blog. For the rest of you, I like that the entries mention RPGs sometimes (and I can make a pretty good educated guess as to what some of the Japanese in his blog says, without even having had one lesson in Japanese, nor by possessing as good a memory as Charlie did... but then again, that may be a spoiler for those who haven't seen Heroes yet). One of my favourite passages, so far, has to be this:

Do you believe in the Butterfly Effect? I do. Nobody has to see the future I saw. The future can be changed. That is my destiny. I've been dreaming for a moment like this my whole life. I've become Chrono in Chrono Trigger or Trunks in Dragon Ball. I've become the hero in my own RPG. Except that this isn't a game. This is real. There is no saved game or cheat codes. I get no Phoenix Downs. There is no game over. There can't be. I'm excited to take this journey as a hero. In reality, I'm scared. But I have to, and will overcome it. I will not be like Trunks or Akira. I won't live in a post-apocalyptic world. I'm going to save the world! I hope I find my Marle and Lucca though. And soon.

Although I haven't seen any of Hiro's gaming tendencies in the series, it's refreshing to see a gamer as a main hero in an American television show. Take that, Jack Thompson. Take that, CSI: Miami. "New breed of criminal", my tail!

Matt

It's so true! And what series is this that you're talking about? Or have I just been living in a hole lately?

A funny thing: I just read something that Stephen Hawking said at an awards event yesterday or the day before: That humans will need to colonize other planets in order to survive, ultimately. It got me thinking lots about the fact that by sheer chance, there is BOUND to be some kind of truly apocalyptic event someday in the future. I'm not saying that living during that time would be something I'd want to do, but it would be a kind of dramatic adventure compared to the blah-blah every day that we live through in today's world, don't you think? Who wants to join my party??

Well, time to bury myself in something. Maybe a Numb3rs DVD or a video game. I really feel as if I've earned it.

-CW
"Note to all my fellow gamers. In a game, you see a weapon on the floor, you pick it up. In real life, you see a weapon on the floor, probably not a good idea to pick it up." -Hiro Nakamura

Matt

Enjoy your hard-earned funtime, CW. And thanks for writing in again, of course! :)



Old favourites, and hopes for the future


Hey Matt I had a couple of things to say and ask you, first off I have to say you've probably heard this countless times but Final Fantasy VII is definetly the best game I've ever played in my life, I honestly don't think I've actually cared about a video game and the characters more then I do them. My question was do you ever think that Square-Enix will ever come close or anything like that to making another Final Fantasy that will capture people like 7 did...I mean you have to be honest a lot of people might say it sucked but being an early playstation game, you can surely see the personalities. Another Question is why do you think Sephiroth and Cloud were such well based charcters(I have my own ideas but I'd like to hear yours. And why hasn't Square-Enix came out with any better villans or hero's not one FF hero comes close to Cloud and not one Villan comes close to Sephiroth, My big question is do you think they will ever come out with a FF game again that will capture so many people in its sotry line and its characters like FF7 did....thanks Matt

Matt

Those are some good questions! I tend to agree with you, that Sephiroth is the strongest villain of the series. He was just so positively evil, he sent chills down my spine the first time I played. The reason that he ends up being such a great villain by the end, though, is because he is so well developed throughout the game, with so much eerie backstory and in-game history. The culmination of it all results in a very believable villain who has a truly calculated reason for doing the things he does.

Cloud is uniquely interesting because you really see the progression of his introspective thoughts and feelings throughout the course of the game; not just what's happening on the surface. I think that the whole "Who am I?" aspect of his character almost required this, but it helped to bring to life a hero in ways that many other games just can't. There's a certain amount of personal association there too; his memories of times where he felt like an outcast, his memories of striving, wanting to be more than he was... they're all things that many of us can relate to, in one way or another.

I think, though, that while that was the tip of Square Enix's iceberg, there have been a few successes since then. Final Fantasy VIII and IX both had good points and bad points; in VIII, I didn't really care for the villain at all, but I really enjoyed the character development. In IX, the opposite was true; the characters were, for me, only fairly strong, but unlike many people out there, I thought Kuja was a pretty wicked villain. Final Fantasy X and XII are somewhere in the middle, I think, with neither having outstanding character development (at least to the point that I've played to in XII, anyway), but neither having simply awful development, either. I think it's just a matter of time before we see another truly spectacular RPG of this kind, but whether it will be a Final Fantasy (or Square Enix) title or not remains to be seen!

Oh and so far I'm loving Final Fantasy XII...very well put together game...havent played XI(because online) but so far XII is right behind VII for me.

Matt

I agree! In my opinion, this may have broken the slight downward trend that the past few Final Fantasy games have experienced. Of course, that's just from my vantage point- it's no secret by now that I think that VI and VII were the epitome of the series. Maybe XIII will be even better yet, when it is finally released!

In any event, I hope you enjoy your journeys through Ivalice, and I thank you for your letter.



A Dual-Sided letter about Nintendo's DS


Hello Matt!

I've acquired a few DS games lately (Contact, Magical Starsign, FF III) and from message boards, it seems that all have extra goodies if you use the WiFi feature. I've never used it so maybe I'm just lazy but I am concerned that I cannot access the full game I paid for unless I do. Plus, at some point in the future I imagine it will be difficult to find people .... well, in theory that is possible, especially for the less popular games. (end whine!)

Matt

I have some good news for you! Nintendo's Wi-Fi gaming is free of charge, thankfully, and you KNOW that I'd rant heavily if it wasn't. As long as you have a wireless internet field to tap into, you may go ahead and do so without worry. If you don't, then you might have to pick up a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector like the one I have; it just plugs into your computer and creates a small field for you to use with your DS. They're inexpensive, too... something like $30 in Canadian funds.

And, from my experience, there have always been people to play Metroid and Mario Kart with. I wouldn't worry too much about lagging popularity, at least in the short term.

By the way, are you going to get Magical Starsign? I haven't played it yet since FF III interfered. Sounds like it got completely overshadowed by the many FF releases lately.

Turtlegirl

Matt

That game and many others, Turtlegirl!

I haven't purchased Magical Starsign, no, but it's supposed to be a lighthearted and fun RPG for the DS. I've heard that while the gameplay and battle system can be a bit shallow, the storyline, characters, and dialogue are all fantastic and funny. If you're not looking for a superhardcore RPG, and you want a change of pace from a game like Final Fantasy III, that might do the trick!



Assorted Questionettes


Matt-

I've always thought a great RPG-related tattoo to get would be of Sephiroth, a blend of his appearances in the final (full party) battle of FF7 and how he looks in Kingdom Hearts. Shirtless, one black wing. It'd have to be huge, all across my entire back.

Matt

That's an ambitious idea! It might cost you a thousand dollars if you ever actually wanted to get something like that done, but hey, it sounds like the ultimate RPGamer's design. With all this talk about tattoos, I wonder if anyone has actually gone to the lengths of having anything that big done in the past? Final Fantasy VII had something like seven million fans in the end... surely a few of them had to get that hardcore about the game.

[Careful: Possible Minor/Moderate FFXII spoilers in the paragraphs to come]

Also, about where are you now in FFXII ? I just completed a section that unraveled a great deal of backstory for Fran. Didn't seem to me that it really explained how she hooked up with Balthier, but certainly gives reason enough for her to stick with the whole crew as they're trying to figure out just what's going on with the Empire and the Nethicite and all that.

Matt

I have a feeling that we're at -exactly- the same point in the game. I have about 24 hours on the clock, and my characters are all in Level 23; the last area was a little bit more challenging to get through than it should have been, too, I expect.

The Fran stuff was a welcome change, because I was beginning to worry that we'd never learn anything about her. I feel like there's a lot left to learn, though, so onward we'll have to play in order to find out!

Oh yeah, about the Empire. The more I play this game, the more paralells I see between it and FFIV, storyline-wise. I can't shake the feeling, as ridiculous as I know it is, that XII was made by people who were told to remake / re-envision IV but never played IV themselves and are relying on a secondhand account of IV's story. An empire with corrupt leadership is collecting crystals of unknown power at all costs. That is the basic plot of both IV and XII for the early parts of the game Basch and Cecil are both disgraced soldiers.

Matt

To be honest? The game in the FF series that XII reminds me of most is, incredibly, Final Fantasy II. The basic evil-empire storyline is there with very little in the way of "weirdness" outside of a few elements. The same freedom is present to wander the world and engage with way-over-your-head enemies, characters are almost completely customizable, you have a main party of three members with a rotating "guest" as the fourth, and there's even a ship called the Dreadnought! That sounds awfully FFII-ish to me.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think XII is really particularly derivative of IV. With so many games and so many different people working on developing them, it's only natural that you'd be able to find similarities. It's just unavoidable. And I've not seen anyone else compare it to IV, so maybe it's just me. I'm very much looking forward to seeing where it goes from here. I don't know why there seems to be a lot of talk about the story not being particularly engaging. I mean, I must admit it's not pulling me in the way that VII did .... but, really, few works of art (I consider some games to be art as much as some books or movies) mean as much to me as FFVII did. For example, I just finished reading Neuromancer by William Gibson, and while I liked it very much and am looking forward to reading the next two novels in that trilogy, it's FFXII whose story is on my mind. Maybe that's because XII is less than a month old while Neuromancer is around 20 years old, but you get my drift. Oh yeah, I'm also playing through X-Men Legends II (some games have been on my queue for years) ... well, I had been until I picked up XII. I don't really care what happens in XML, but all day when I'm at work I wonder what's gonna happen next in XII.

Matt

Oh, me too! I've been thinking about the game a whole lot lately, and lamenting the fact that I haven't been able to put more time towards it so far. I don't remember the last time I bought a new Final Fantasy game and spent an average of less than an hour per day in the first month. That's just unacceptable! Argh!

I'm really anxious to see how the story unfolds too. Unfortunately, though, it will likely be well into the Christmas vacation that I get a whole lot more done. Oh, responsibilities, why must thou haunt me so?

And yeah. The game doesn't pull you in quite as quickly because this is the first Final Fantasy since FFV that the main hero's quest doesn't start out "dramatically" in some form. It's a bit of a change of pace, but once the ball gets rolling, everything feels right.

Okay, lots of commentary out of the way and I'll end with one more question. Maybe other readers can help me out with this one ... as I mentioned, my entertainment queue is backed up for years, and I'm trying to get some advice on what to get to next after I finish XII:

FFIV:A
FFV:A
Count Zero (novel, by William Gibson, the follow-up to Neuromancer)
Knife of Dreams (novel, by Robert Jordan, 11th book in the Wheel of Time series)
Lost in Translation (movie, with Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, directed by Sofia Coppola)
Adaptation (movie, with Nicholas Cage)

I can't watch movies while I'm in the midst of a game ... if I have more than one hour of free time, I use it on the game, but I can read a book while I'm making my way through a game. And I rarely have enough time and attention span to watch a movie, so I usually only wind up watching movies people tell me I need to see, which is where I'm hoping you folks can help me out, since you're all fellow RPGamers if you say I need to see those before picking up another game I'd probably listen.

Matt

Well, let's see. While FFIV and FFV have spot-on translations and some nice additions, FFV is the cleaner of the two games; FFIV is unfortunately plagued by a few annoying technical issues when it comes to the battle system. They aren't anything that render the game unplayable, by any means, but they might make you grumbly.

The next two I haven't heard of (and the last time I actually read a novel was, embarrassingly, during my trip to E3 in May). Lost in Translation was a decent movie, but it's rather different than anything else I've ever seen from Bill Murray. It'll take you a mere two hours to watch; why not give it a whirl once you've finished FFXII?

I'd have FFIII:DS on there, but I don't have a DS. Hm ... only games on that list are SquareEnix ... maybe someone can recommend something non-SE.

What do you think ?

-D.J. Watts

Matt

Sure! If you're big on games that emphasize plot, then I strongly suggest the Xenosaga series, if you haven't played (or tried playing) them already. Other recent strong titles worth at least a rental are Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, and Tales of the Abyss. Give 'em a try! Or get a DS and try FFIII after all. Or both.

Good luck with that list of things to do, and thanks for writing in!



A mission for permission


Hi Matt,

I would like to ask you if Final Fantasy XII is worth the buying. My parents have a strict policy on what is on a game or not and I'm wondering if I should convince them into letting me buy it or not. So if there is anything that won't get them to let me buy the game can you please tell me? I have heard how good that Final Fantasy XII is from a friend and I have decided that I would like to buy it. I have played Final Fantasy X and thought it was one of the best games I have ever played. Thanks.

Rigel

Matt

Hey, Rigel!

I think that your parents should feel extremely lucky to have a son that is interested in playing a Final Fantasy game; you could be one of the millions that would rather play Grand Theft Auto, after all.

If you played Final Fantasy X and loved it, there is no reason that you shouldn't be able to play FFXII too. There isn't even any slightly bad language present in the game, come to think of it... outside of a few minor references to drinking, I haven't found much reason at all for even the most conservative of thinkers to believe that this is a "terrible" game.

I wish you the best of luck! And hopefully, the next time you write in, you get to talk about how much you're enjoying the game, rather than how much you want it.



QUICKIES

have you played DQ:Rocket Slime, and would you recommend it for the wife? I'm buying her a ds lite, and wanted to know some good games to get her. I was thinking FFIII, FFIVa, FFVa.... and after the final fantasys I have no idea.

Matt
Rocket Slime is supposed to be a lot of fun, and I really haven't heard anything negative about it, other than that the music is repetitive. There's also Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, which was pretty fun, Magical Starsign, which we talked about above, and a few other non-RPGs, too. Between Brain Age, The New Super Mario Bros, Nintendogs, Yoshi's Island DS, Super Princess Peach, Mario Kart DS, there are a lot of things that she might be interested in (you'd know better than I, obviously). Good luck!


MOGNET MAIL

If you have Final Fantasy III DS, send me your friend code, and I'll add yours! My code is 515 480 192 117. Then, send me mail, and I'll respond to you in the column. The moogles will be waiting, kupo!

RDM is good, but I don't like the fact that they can only get up to level 5 magic. I wish FF3 had introduced Blue Mage instead of FF5.

Matt
It's true that they aren't the best spellcasters in the world, but I'm a big fan of the "all-around" characters. Blue Mages are awesome, though, I agree (and so would Leaper). Keep in mind that FFIII did introduce a whole lot of other neat ideas for classes, such as Dragoons, Bards, Geomancers, Dark Knights, and so on. The fact that enemy skills came a little bit later just goes to show you the progression of the series as time went by. It's kinda cool, really.



IN CLOSING

And now, it's time for me to dive into the disgusting Dynamical Systems final boss. Wish me well!

Also, send Ouro some mail. He deserves it, and he'll never do with nothing in the qna inbox, which is the current state. Ack! You're free to get chatty about anything you like in the world of gaming- the PS3, the Wii, Final Fantasy VI, Pokémon, World of Warcraft... We're here to answer your questions about whatever might be on your mind, so let us have it!

Anyway, I hope the first day of December has treated you all well. Have fun playing your favourite games over the weekend, and I'll be back next Tuesday, I promise!



Send a Letter!

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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt just wants the vacation to get here...


I miss my family... I haven't seen them in almost two months. *sniffle* Maybe I'll call them tonight.

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