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Anvil on Your Head
October 4, 2007

Matt Demers - 23:44 EST

HA! I TOTALLY missed out on patting myself on the back yesterday: It was the second anniversary of my very first official RPGamer Q&A column. Yay for me.

I also missed out on an interesting tidbit yesterday: Blue Dragon is coming out for the DS? Is it a new game or some kind of remake? Ah, Mistwalker... how deliciously unexpected of you. Stay tuned to RPGamer in the days to come, because you never know when the latest news will roll in!

OK, one more column will finish out the week for me. Then, I go hunting (not to kill cute animals)!




LETTERS
What? Who knew?


Fatal Frame is for the 'regular' XBOX not the 360....so if you have a 'regular' XBOX go out and buy this game and while you're at it buy new underwear and a defibrillator (just in case you go into cardiac). OK now 3 hours in and 7 pairs of shorts and 2 heart-attacks later, I canít wait until my kids go to bed so I can play this game tonight. ~Chris~

Matt

Doesn't the 360 play regular Xbox games? How can I not know this?

Oh, it does. Some of them, at least. You totally know that there's no way in frozen Hell that I'll go buy an original, but a 360 is a possibility.

Don't forget about the kids! I forgot about mine the other day while playing Metroid Prime 3. I missed poor Annie's prescription dosage by an hour, thanks to that damn game.



The Used games debate!


Matt,
The topic of buying used games comes up an awful lot, and I felt I needed to share some thoughts.

Matt

Go for it.

I see very often here that people want to bash used game outlets. Fair enough. I understand that they make a very nice profit on paying low and selling high. But as a business owner myself, I have to say, that's just the way it works in a used-goods market. I run a comic shop, and while new issues are what's hot weekly and what brings in the real business, you can't deny back issues. However, the only way to get them is to buy them off of people. And if you expect to make money in a business, you can't spend too much money on a risk. There is no guarantee that someone will be willing to buy what is, essentially, old stock. And to hate a business because they don't pay top dollar for that risk is ludicrous. After all, people are bringing their old stock to the business. They want to get rid of it, and they aren't expecting to make much of off it.

However, I also understand that certain companies are taking advantage of this market, and that is a serious concern. When a store only orders enough copies to fill pre-orders, and then sells everyone else a used copy weeks later at pure profit, it encourages... somewhat foul business practices.

But to suggest that people buy only new games? Absurd. As a collector, I like a nice shiny copy as much as the next guy, but who has the time and money to buy every new release they're interested in at fifty to sixty dollars a pop? I don't know about you, but i really don't like spending that much money for a game - sometimes a short game - or anything else for that matter. And to be honest, I don't have that kind of money. But twenty dollars on Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission together, after tax? I'm there. Slap them in a DS case and print out a cover, and they're as good as new. Better, in fact. Those DS cases are sexy.

Matt

Okay, fair enough. I have to admit, I've purchased several used games myself, but I only do so when I really have no other option. The only way that I found my Fire Emblem games- two of my favourite games that I played last year- was to find them used by trekking onto eBay. Sometimes, there isn't any other choice.

My big, big, irritating schtick that I have is when I go into EB Games four days after Metroid Prime 3 is released, and ask for a copy, only to be counter-asked if I'd rather save $6 and get a used copy. My answer, invariably, is no. And I don't know who would sell the game back to the store for whatever they sell them for- some shockingly small fraction of the cost, no doubt.

There's definitely a difference there, but I didn't really pave it out in that last letter. I hope that makes sense, though.

But how can a company combat this "evil" scheme of companies making money without them? I've often though that game companies should offer their own buy-back system. Using big names, let's say Square Enix bought back Final Fantasy XII at more than, say, Gamestop does, and then sold it directly to the consumer for less than them. They would then be the ones making pure profit, and it would help the gamers who don't have a silver mine in their back yard. Just a thought.

Matt

True, but it's hard to implement outside of online stores and such. What would be SUPER-awesome would be if actual video game companies were to open their own stores. Imagine having a Square Enix store *in your town* a short walk away- would that not be the most awesome idea ever? Damn, the thought just gets me all worked up and excited.

Finally, a question. The latest issue of Nintendo Power says that there's a really good possibility of unreleased games reaching the Wii's Virtual Console. Would you be more interested in seeing some Dragon Quest or Mana titles released this way, or full remakes? Both? Also, which way seems more economical for a company? Seiken Densetsu 3 would be pure profit if released as a download, but a full remake might lure-in new "shiny-game" players, and potentially be more sales. Thoughts?

Thanks for your time.

Joshua
Comic Connection

Matt

It was realized this week, Joshua! The original Mario Brothers 2 was released on Virtual Console this Monday, and I've been pulling out my damn hair trying to get past World 4, because it's absolutely ridiculous. But yeah, I would LOVE to see some previously unreleased games. As far as RPGs go, there are all sorts of Nintendo-made games that my eyes are completely glowy over: Remember, there exists a huge handful of Fire Emblem games that we haven't seen here yet, and of course, there's the big Mother question mark. Will we ever see the original? Heck, will we ever see Mother 3? I'm not crossing my fingers, but dammmmmn, it would be nice. Outside of Nintendo, it'll be up to the companies themselves whether they want to take the time to localize these games for the VC. I suspect that as far as Square Enix is concerned, if they're going to go to the trouble of translating Seiken Densetsu 3, they'd be more likely to do it DS-wise than on the Virtual Console- they could put the work right on the DS as a direct port and make many times more money off of it, I'd guess.

I appreciate the letter, Joshua! Good luck with the store, and thanks for the "tsk-tsk" with regards to the used games stuff.



This is going to tear my brain into two pieces.


Matt or Sean or Other,

Hello, from someone who was an RPGamer staff member for about two weeks! I love the column, Matt-style *or* Sean-style, and it keeps me coming back even though I'm pretty embarassed that I put about like five news updates and then quit. I might personally have something to do with there being another hiring call only a month after the previous one -_-

Matt

Ah, no worries. We get new workers often who, for one reason or another, can't stick with the job. Some people are busy, some things can come up, etc etc. We won't hold it against you, so don't be embarrassed.

I've noticed in the past week that the Q&A section has been loaded with off-hand comments about how lame Halo 3 is and how sad an RPGamer gets when he notices it selling better than something like, say, Growlanser. I've even noticed you (or Matt, if this is Sean reading) referring to it as "the BEST just-another-FPS out there!".

Matt

Heh heh, yep... I do seem to remember saying that. BUT, that was paraphrased! Er, that was a second-hand phrase! My brother said it before I did! Don't blame the messenger! *insert excuse 4b*

It distresses me that RPGamers talk this way, because Halo 3 is one of my favorite video games. I was unimpressed at first, but the more I played it, the more I realized how precisely-designed and generally inspired every detail about the game is. With its basic featureset (you play as a Space Marine and your weapons consist of generic assault weapons and alien laser rifles), it doesn't seem like much at first, but on a higher difficulty and in the hands of an experienced player, Halo 3's lovingly-crafted single-player scenarios really shine. This is a game where every firefight is different from every other firefight in some subtle way. Maybe, if you play on Easy setting or you don't have the sensitivity to tell one space marine apart from another, you won't pick up on this, but it's there -- and video game critics talk about it when they award the game a 10. There are times when you'll stumble upon a Battle Rifle and think, "Thank JESUS for this Battle Rifle!", and from then on, you'll treasure every bullet you fire, because in that particular corridor, the Battle Rifle is the best thing that has ever happened to you. Or maybe you'll be fighting a giant walking tank in a desert, and you'll notice that instead of shooting out its legs you can jump an ATV off of a building, jump off in mid-air, land on top of the tank, crawl inside, and smash its core to bits. At these moments, you start to think this is the best video game you have ever played. Feature-wise, Halo 3's effective use of several vehicles is actually pretty groundbreaking and poorly-imitated, but that's not really my point here.

I like to compare Halo 3 to my other favorite game, Dragon Quest 8, which I know you love (unless this is Sean, in which case I'll call upon Brave Story because pretty much every word in this paragraph applies to both). DQ8 has, like Halo 3, a very basic core featureset. On the surface, it seems like a game straight out of 1990. The reason people love DQ8 is because every dungeon, piece of dialogue, bit of music, and monster encounter is lovingly crafted to be the best dungeon, dialogue, music, or monster that can possibly apply to that scenario. In DQ8, I get really excited about acquiring a boomering for the first time, because the game is so well-paced that is just *matters* more than in other RPGs. Boss fights always kept me on my toes, and I can't say any other video game hase given me the same sense of wonder as I aimlessly wandered around its countryside. Unless you have enjoyed previous DQ games, you might not appreciate DQ8 until you play it for awhile and get to know it a little better. You have to compare it to other RPGs, which almost universally seem to have less love and care injected into them. I feel that this is why a lot of older gamers who have plays millions of RPGs tend to love DQ games, while younger gamers tend not to. In Final Fantasy XII (another personal favorite) or something, I just don't really *care* about finding a new weapon or hacking through a dungeon, because these things are somehow much less significant. This is an issue with overall game design of individual scenarios, rather than innovative game design implementing lots of novel features (Shadow of the Colossus is an example of a success in this second area). The excellent design around a basic featureset is what makes Halo 3 and Dragon Quest 8 my favorite games.

So, here's the question: Have you ever considered comparing RPGamers who dismiss Halo 3 as "just another frantic first-person shooter" to the frat boys that dismiss Dragon Quest 8 or Brave Story as "just another lame Japanese RPG"? It's perfectly acceptable to not like a game -- maybe someone just doesn't *like* shooting aliens, and maybe some else just doesn't *like* turn-based slug-fests against creepy-smile goo monsters. I don't really like Zelda games and I can't help it! At the same time, I appreciate Zelda for what it is: a very well-designed series of adventure games full of clever puzzles and neat tools (doesn't Link sort of remind you of James Bond or Inspector Gadget?).

Still, I wish that RPGamers were as open-minded about FPSes as they wish FPSers were about RPGs. Maybe there was a good reason why people lined up at midnight to get Halo 3, and maybe it was related to more than just marketing. What do you think about this?

Matt

Ah, I thought about butting in earlier, but decided to let you keep going, since you seemed like you were on a pretty big roll.

Well, I don't have much to say. I have a tumultuous and somewhat emotional history with the FPS, I have to admit. Take a peek back about two months ago, and you'll see a detailed account of the many reasons that the genre has let me down. I admittedly don't have a ton of first-player experience with any FPS beyond Metroid Prime and Prime 3; I rented Goldeneye once, and thought it was a bit of a bore. My other experiences have been multiplayer, and have not been particularly pleasant.

Over the years, as a result, many of these titles have just kind of blurred together. For sure, it's an unfair generalization.

I wouldn't, however, go as far as to say that it's as terrible as dismissing a traditional game- IF you're an RPGamer to begin with. You know how to hit where it hurts, hahaha, so I don't know how to respond to this. I think that NON-RPGamers can hate Dragon Quest all they want to, and frankly, I don't care. As long as they've tried it once or twice with an open mind and have drawn conclusions based on some rational reasoning, I'm fine with that. And herein lies my hypocrisy, because I haven't really played a first-person shooter (in an acceptable, non-multiplayer manner) outside of Metroid in close to ten years.

So, I'll tell you what: If I ever make good on all of my blabbings and get myself an Xbox 360 one day, I vow to take that plunge, give the genre one more shot, and see if I can find a new appreciation somewhere in my, uh, heart. Really, it's the least I can do, and you're absolutely right: I can't very well ask people to be open-minded about the games I love without being open-minded myself, especially when I have dubious reasons to close my mind in the first place.

So there! What thinkest thou of that?

PS: I think I also like making fun of the mega-gazillions of people who have lined up to get this game. Plus, the advertisements were really making me go nuts for awhile.



What if...?


Heya, Matt!

I love the new topic; I think you'll probably get a lot of fun responses from people about what aspects of RPGs would be convenient in real life.

Matt

That's the idea!

Here are some that I came up with:

1. Despite being some no-name guy, a beautiful princess/childhood friend/white mage/etc. will fall desperately in love with me. Possibly two, so that there can be a love triangle!

Matt

90% of the time, you'll live happily ever after with the girl.

10%...? Well, we won't think of what happened with the whole Aeris being impaled on a piece of metal thing. Yeee.

2. I'll end up with one of the most, if not THE most, advanced airship on the planet. I will somehow be able to handle it easily, or else some scruffy guy named Cid will pilot it for me.

Matt

And no matter how hard you try to push the controls so that you run into the ground or the side of a mountain, some magical force will stop you from crashing and burning. That is, of course, unless it's an important moment in your storyline.

3. No one will mind if I wander into their houses and check their dressers, barrels, chests, and other containers for money or useful items.

Matt

And you won't care if you come home to find some spiky-blue-haired hero rooting through your private stash either.

4. Any piece of clothing that I might possibly want to wear will be perfectly sized to fit me. Also, shops will buy any old clothes I don't want any more, regardless of where I got them in the first place.

Matt

With a non-negotiable repayment rate of 50% of the original price. Not bad.

5. If I'm ever not sure what I should do with my life, I can ask random people in the most recent city I've come to and they'll probably be able to tell me where I should go.

Matt

Ask them again, if you missed what they said the first time, and they'll almost certainly spout the exact same thing once more! Keep doing this while someone is waiting to get onto a bus, and you'd make them miss it, heheheheheh.

Hope you feel better soon, Matt.

Laethiel Makaze

Matt

Thanks, LM. I'm getting there, though I'm still not at 100% health.



Oopsiedaisie- again!


Hey Matt,

I don't know how 'unique' it is, but one of my favorite abilities used to be Mad Rush from FFVIII. I don't remember the the details, but I think it cast Protect, Shell, Haste, and Berserk on all party members. I would cast this in almost all of my nonboss battles. However, you notice I sadi 'used to'. This ended up resulting in a game over for me after I foolishly used it in a battle with a Ruby Dragon while all of my characters had fire junctioned to Elemental Attack. We were hitting hard and fast and causing absolutely no damage. Since Berserk doesn't wear off, there wasn't much I could do. I was a lot less fond of that attack since then and haven't really used it since. Have you ever done something that stupid?

Draconn

Matt

Absolutely! I think that just about everyone has had a really blond moment where they go into a battle completely unprepared (and, possibly, 'anti-prepared') only to execute attacks messily and altogether act like a fool.

On multiple occasions, especially in a couple of Final Fantasy games, I can recall having one character do ZERO damage or even healing the current boss. I'd make a mental note of it, but by the time that character's turn came around again, I'd somehow put in the same attack and make the same mistake again. I'd smack myself in the head and swear at myself as soon as I confirm my move, of course. But yeah, I'm sure I've had that sort of thing happen a couple of times in the past.

It happens. Anyway, I remember Mad Rush only very vaguely, but I do have a memory there. It sounds kick-ass, anyway, at least if you're feeling like you're in a crazy Berserker mood.

Later, Draconn!



Hmmm...


Hi Matt,

I remember once when I was like eight, I was sick and stayed home from school. We had Final Fantasy III (six) for the Super Nintendo borrowed from a friend of my brother's, and there hadn't been enough free slots available for me to make my own. So, when I said I wanted to play the game, my brother loaded up his quest and told me I could play and level up his characters and teach them magic and things like that.

And so I did. ... All day. The party of Relm, Edgar, Locke, and Strago became frightfully dominant over all of the other members of the party... looks like he didn't inform me that I was allowed to change his party! I just spent like seven hours levelling up people around the Thamasa area... and unsurprisingly, they knew all their magic and were like ten levels ahead of the others by the time my brother returned home.

I wonder if he was impressed or not? I know he took Relm with him to the Floating Continent... she's a powerful little girl, she is. But yeah. So that's not really my taking a sick day to play some 'extra' video games so much as it is just... playing them.

That's also where I thought I was mentally ill because I saw Relm's Star Prism attack! And my brother scoffed at that and probably thought I was lying when I told him. Anyway, that's all!

-Kharamain

Matt

Well, your brother sounds like giant doof. Though really, you sound like you were an eight-year-old sucker for punishment: An all-day level-grind for free, courtesy of slave-labour younger brothers? Yes please (though really, no thank you, because I hate being over-leveled-up in any game, because I just do).



Reborn, yet again.


Best parts of real life being an RPG: existence of Remedy/Full Heal/etc. means no more illnesses, infinite item bag space makes traveling a breeze, inn and hotel business would flourish, infinite spawning of money-dropping animals to fight means less work, less obesity, AND less endangered species all at once

Matt

And not just that: International productivity would SKYROCKET! Why? Because between those three things, you've made moot the basis of like half of all statistical studies out there in recent times. All those nerdy statisticians can go and do something meaningful for a change. (I'm a math guy, not a stats guy, but I take full responsibility for anyone who takes offense to this JOKE of a sentence.)

Worst parts of real life being an RPG: existence of Remedy/Full Heal/etc. means no more sick days, global currency would make all inflation global as well, teenagers would overthrow the world, either too much death due to instant-death abilities or overpopulation due to life-granting abilities

Matt

Interesting. Imagine, too, what the world would be like if everyone spoke the same language. Well, that is, except for one isolated town somewhere in the South Pacific populated by descendants of some age-old tribe. You'll need the SpecTOME to understand what they say, of course.

I'm also curious as to what you thought of the latest FFIV DS trailer. Did it make you swoon with anticipation and nostalgia, or did it make you groan with feelings deja vu and sacrilege? (I am in the former, if you want to know)

FirstAid

Matt

Oh gosh, it made me want it more than ever. I don't understand how Square Enix can do this YET again and make us crave, but they have managed to again. The worst part is that I'll bet that a higher-resolution, GORGEOUS full-3D version will be developed within the next ten or fifteen years. You know, as a release title for Apple's second video game console, after Sony withdraws from the industry of video games completely. Yikes.

Thanks, FirstAid.



QUICKIES

Hm, favorite unique RPG ability... there are two neat ones in Dragon Force. Ensnare freezes your opponent's magic charge gauge and bars retreat (so it SUCKS to have that used on you). Summon Reaper can only be used by one character and reduces her and the opponent to one HP. Dangerous but has high potential.

JuMeSyn

Matt

Wait wait, but let me guess: It only works against easy-to-kill enemies anyway. No going up to bosses or enemies you'd NEED to use it on, of course. Oh, and Ensnare sounds so evil, I'd almost call it "evile."



IN CLOSING

I can't believe how absolutely beautiful it is outside. Coming home from campus today, people were out playing frisbee shirtless, and we're a week into October. Incredible! The pool might even be warm enough to swim in while I'm home this weekend, if I'm lucky. That's the one place I won't bring my DS. Nintendo makes their products good, but I don't need my handheld chlorinated, thanks.

Anyway, here's where I cut things short. Thanks for tuning in for another week. Enjoy whatever substitute, if any, RPGamer decides to provide tomorrow.

Oh right, a new hot topic before I go: Um, um, um, I made a little joke of it up during FirstAid's letter, but can you fathom ANOTHER company joining in the console race at this point? Will Sega ever get back into the console industry? Will Apple ever come out with a video game console of their own? Will the N-Gage become the number one portable contender in the future? As laughable as some of these things might seem, I'm waiting for your letters, so send 'em on in.

I'll be back to answer them on Tuesday. Canadians, enjoy a hearty helping of turkey, please.



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 49 - *cough*



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is thankful! ...For the long weekend.


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On my Wishlist:

1. Dragon Quest IX

2. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

3. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

4. Dragon Quest IV DS

5. Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass



On my Portable/VC Playlist:

1. Etrian Odyssey/Metroid Original

2. Shining Force

3. The Legend of Zelda (NES)



On my Console Roster:

1. Metroid Prime 3

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance/Valkyrie Profile 2(?)

3. Tales of Symphonia



Hot Topics:

1. Nearly a year into the console race, who do you think is gonna "win"?

2. What is your favourite unique RPG ability (like Runic, for example)?

3. Have you ever taken advantage of illness to play excessive video games?

4. If the world were more RPG-like, what would the best parts (and worst parts) be?

5. Could you imagine ANOTHER company getting in on the video game industry?



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