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ASK MATT
Up On Cloud Eight September 20, 2005

Matt Demers - 03:28 EST

IT'S REALLY hot in here. I don't have a fan, but I don't think that's the issue... I'm pretty sure that the heat is a combination of a) having the computer on in my little room here for many days straight; b) not opening my window- somehow, the bugs ALWAYS manage to invade; and c) having been awake for far too many consecutive hours.

Despite my thermal discomfort, I am well, despite random gym weirdnesses of the day. Running full-speed on a treadmill while watching Jerry Springer in closed-captioning is a rather unique experience, I must confess. I declare- one has never truly watched that show until they've read it simultaneously.

This is probably my most random intro yet... I apologize. Hopefully the column is more liveable.
Enjoy.




L E T T E R S
You mean... we have REAL lives too??


Hey Matt/Bucket,
First of all, congratulations for reaching the finals. You both did well to get this far especially when seeing your past few columns, and for that I feel proud for the pair of you.

Anyway, it's question time, bwaha.

Quick and easy first thing to ask - if you never wanted to sign up for RPGamer Idol, what would you be doing with your life at this moment in time? "Slime petting" is not an answer.

Matt

I really signed up for the position on a whim in the first place... I never really realized it would turn into such an affair (I guess I lucked out). If I wasn't spending the time on this column, I'd be accomplishing more in school, chiefly. I've just started a graduate degree in math, and I've got lots of homework to do-- not an easy task, since attempting to understand the material in any of my courses so far feels quite like getting repeatedly run-over-and-backed-up-over by a massive vehicle. I'm also the "acting" president of the Math/Stats club on campus (nerd alert), planning events and such in the fall semester for undergraduates, so I'd spend some more time with that. Besides those things, I do my best to maintain a relationship with a special someone, and I try to have a social life too.

RPGamer Idol has been lots of fun though, and I'm really glad I've been a part of it.

Secondly, what's your point of view on Square Enix and its company consuming habits as of late? Do you think it may grow like EA and literally be seen as a company to loathe because of its selfish marketing habits? Or do you think they will be able to manage them sensibly and be seen as a respectable coorporation?

And let's do something remotely silly for my third and final question - what's your favorite blue magic spell?

Well, that's more than likely what I have time for. I and the rest of the regulars of RPGamer's Sound Test wish you the best of luck in becoming the site's next QnA host.

Peace out,
-Rexy-

Matt

I don't know very much about Star Trek, and I'm not a big follower of the corporate world, but I'd say the Square Enix conglomerate is somewhere in between the Borg and Wal-mart. On what scale, I really have no idea, but maybe BECAUSE of the fact those two pseudo-analogs come to mind first, I can say that my gut instinct is "This can't mean anything good!"

Incidentally, I had a conversation earlier today with someone who asked me if I thought that with all this Taito business, Square Enix would be releasing their own console by 2010. I instinctively laughed, but then I had a strange dream about it when I drifted off during my Optimization class tonight, so I'm temporarily creeped out- mostly because I've never slept so soundly in class that I've dreamt before.

The winner of best blue magic spell is Stone from FF6. Sure, you don't have to work hard to get it, but it's reasonably useful, and it just makes the best thwacky sounds ever.





Shouldn't a bonus be something less prisonlike?


Dear Contestent,

What with this recent trend of RPG's having bonus dungeons you can't access until after you beat the game? I understand the idea is to give you something to do once you've finished the plot, but why not just make the dungeon accessable BEFORE you get to the last boss and if someone wants to run through it to increase game time and experience they can. Maybe I'm just weird, but when I beat the last boss I lose a little of the drive to keep playing that game and not move onto another RPG (there are so many out there that I still haven't played). However if the dungeon is available to me before I head to the final battle, I will usually venture into it and give the challanges a try. So when did all this after the game is over stuff start, and who actually appreciates it?


Matt

Bonus dungeons have been around for years and years... they're nothing new. It is important that games offer extra sparkly adventures even after the conclusion of the game, because if they don't, they'll run into trouble with the very large population of "I-like-to-get-everything"-ers... not to mention that including special bonus dungeons and the like gives games an excuse to sell themselves as having a huge replayability factor. I know, I know; I find FUN games the "replayable" ones, but I guess there were some people that thought Star Ocean 3 was indeed the best time ever. Anyway, I like a challenge, so I'm not big on the idea of supercharging my characters before the final fight in the first place.

But when did it all start, you ask?? Bonus features have been around since the early years of the NES- everyone remembers the second quest from the original Zelda, or the original Mario Bros (where did all the goombas go??). Bonus dungeons in the sense you speak of though came around a little later. I know that Dragon Quest V and on all contain at least one extra dungeon- and DQV was released in the early 1990s in Japan. It's become a lot more common since the popularization of REMAKES (common theme these days)... where such additions make it seem like the company doing the re-releasing has actually altered the game enough to warrant a re-buy.



A peek into Matt-history...and subconscious (run)


Dear contestants,
I know Heath asked this question whilst he was temporarily hosting Q&A, but I feel that your particular response will allow the rest of the RPGamer audience and myself to find out a little bit more about who you really are at heart. My question is, what is your most "hardcore" and least 'hardcore" RPG gaming moment? If you don't know what I'm talking about, go back and read heath's old column.

Matt

I remember the question well!! I do think it's storytime o'clock everybody! Pull up a toadstool and listen.

Once, when I was a wee lad growing up in the smog of Southwestern Ontario, I discovered the video rental store. There, I found that there existed such a game as "Dragon Warrior 3", completely unbeknownst to me until I saw it with my eyes. Since I loved playing the original Dragon Warrior at my grandma's house so much, I decided that with my hard-earned money (my "allowance" came from toiling in the pepper field) I would rent this little gem for an overnight period. I loved it so much, I rented it the next weekend again, to continue playing off my save file.

And then again. And again. And again... *continue this pattern for awhile*

Yes... eleven rentals, and $30 (MEGA CASH back then) later, I was still playing. Luckily, no one had erased my file, though some idiots had bashed up my characters between my rentals one week. I had fallen in love with the game, though, and as I tried to face the final villain on this eleventh rental, unfortunately, I found my heroes to be not quite strong enough. I turned off the game and went to bed, knowing that it had to go back to the store until the next weekend in the morning. I woke up early though to try again, turned on my NES... and discovered that something was awry. The game mysteriously featured a glitch whereupon taking any step in any direction would result in the screen freezing up. After resetting for the 32985235th time in desperation, I conceded that it was a permanent glitch, and went into the living room to weep- and boy, did I weep. Mummy needed to give me a big, long hug to make me feel better.

I've done crazier RPG things in my years since then, but for a 9-year-old, that's pretty hardcore.

Least hardcore? Once, I rented this horrible RPGesque "game" known as Young Merlin. Very obscure, yes? Well, being the most terrible game I've EVER played in my life, I put it down after about five minutes, wishing that I hadn't invested such a large amount of valuable time in it. Really...'twas that bad.

Also, have you ever had a nightmare or otherwise oddly vivid dream that was based on an RPG you spent way too much time playing the night (or day) before?

-ATG

Matt

In fact, I've had several. A few years back, I had a strangely vivid dream once about the volcano in the original Final Fantasy, where the monsters were all different than they actually are, and where there was some other strange boss character awaiting at the bottom- which laughed like Kefka. Everything was sketchy after that, except that somehow, the dream transformed somehow into just Kefka's sprite laughing on a red background that wouldn't go away no matter how much I tried. I got really upset and woke up in a puddle of sweat in the middle of the night. Really, it was more intense and less funny than it might sound now...

At any rate, I didn't play FF6 for awhile after that, though I'm not sure how FF1 crept into the picture. I must have eaten some really funky peppers that night.



An Eclectic Question Selection


Hello,
This is only the second letter I've ever sent in since I've been going here, and I've been here since the Unofficial Squaresoft Homepage days. Anyways, on to the question(s). Do you even briefly think it's a possibility that the new Revolution controller is only one of others made by Nintendo? There could be other designs in the works that are much more friendly to a broader base of games. That motion sensor thing is going to be bad in the case of sudden twitches and/or other things.

Matt

If you're looking for a different controller, you're looking in the direction of the wrong company. Sure, it hasn't been released yet, but I suspect that this will be the one (maybe with some last minute ergonomic/aesthetic tweaks). The reason for this is because developers have reportedly expressed very large amounts of love for this oddity. As I've said in recent days, though, in cliché form: "you never know until you try."

I will say, though, that I had my doubts about the precision of the DS touch screen as well- but those fears were put to rest almost immediately. I'm sure that if Nintendo's focus really will be on play control, you won't have much to worry about as far as jerkiness or twitchiness is concerned, unless you happen to have a twitch yourself.

In other things, have you ever played the Lufia series? And if so, are 3 and 4 worth playing as much as part 2 was?

Adieu,
Shenodin

Matt

Lufia!! My day has officially been made.

Yes, I have played it. Lufia 2 was the epitome of the series- it had diverged enough from the first to carve out its own style in the RPG world, yet JUST enough. It was just fun to play, and I miss the game a lot- just thinking about it now makes me want to pick it up again.

Unfortunately, the Lufia series didn't stop evolving at the second installment. The mutation progressed into the Game Boy Color's Lufia: The Legend Returns. Despite the fact that it had an intriguing new battle system, it lacked balance terribly. It starred characters that were not even CLOSE to being as lovable as the characters from the previous two games. Most of all, though, it committed the greatest of RPG transgressions possible: ONLY RANDOMLY-GENERATED DUNGEONS OF PROGRESSIVELY INCREASING LENGTH?!? Goodbye. *slam*

Lufia: The Ruins of Lore, for Game Boy Advance, was just garbage. Recycled battle music is the least of your worries here, though to me, that in itself is inexcusable. The dungeons, while not random, were excessively elaborate- almost to the point of intraversability. The characters sucked. The battle system was horrible and worsely balanced than the GBC Lufia's, and the return of monster-raising was very poorly done-- not fun at all. Far worse though- no Sinistrals! How can you have a Lufia game without... graggh, now I'm all hot and bothered.

You won't miss much if you pass on them both. I'd personally recommend the original, if you haven't played it- just be prepared for an old-school experience.



Control Freaks: Part II


Dear Current Contestant,

Dear Idol,

With the recent revelation of the Revolution remote system, I require you to ruminate on the ramifications to RPGs.

How do you expect the Revolution to impact RPGs? What potentialities (both negative and positive) do see for a fully 3D controller integrating with RPGs? What would you do, if you were given the power to design an RPG around the Revolution’s controller?

Tyler Willis

Reviewer, RPGamer.com


Matt

This is a question... that requires time and thought. To start, I'm a bit worried, as a traditional RPG fan, that with the Revolution and the DS, there won't be many "normal" RPGs around in big numbers- at least, not for Nintendo's systems. On the other hand, I'm excited to see if developers get up the motivation to make some interesting and creative games without making them "stupid"... that could be a thin rope to walk!

Like most things, I think that a balance would be of utmost importance. What sort? Well... despite the fact that you want to be able to take advantage of the crazy features of the controller, you can't make things too wacky, or else gamers are going to be turned off.

The things that first come to mind are more obvious: you could make a sword slashing motion in whichever direction might kill the enemy quickest, or have a spell-casting system that makes you look like you're practicing some really odd form of TV yoga. I think that it would be interesting to have a game where becoming skilled with various weapon-types is a focus. Imagine a game where whenever the hero attacks, you have to make a slashing motion (sword), but when party-member number two, an archer character- takes his/her turn to attack, you actually have to carefully aim, pull backwards, and fire. The list goes on... hammers you could swing hard and vertically, whips you could lash through the air in an arc, and for time bombs, you could jump up hurriedly and set the controller down across the room from you, before it explodes (another reason to play six feet from the TV, boys and girls). Add eleven-or-so more different weapons, maybe adding a touch of this here, and an extra that, there, and you've got a unique battle system.

The problem is that I think that some of these ideas, while very cool, are a little bit much-- and might get quite tiresome after a period of time. So, I think it's important that game companies recognize this and add features to either keep things interesting somehow, or allow you to "just hit the A button instead".

A funny thought randomly occurred to me though while thinking about this-- if Square Enix remade Final Fantasy X for the Revolution (ahahahahha), they could insert a little "sending" mini-game every time Yuna does her thing: Crank up her upbeat theme song from FFX-2, and see how quickly you can launch souls into the Farplane by doing the dance yourself! 15 seconds or less nets you four chocobo feathers!
*shudder*





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

I'd really like to hear from all ye who have played some really obscure RPGs. Are any of you a FAN of Young Merlin? How about E.V.O.: Search for Eden? That's a lesser-known classic. It'd be interesting to see who among you have heard of these little gems of yesteryear- mostly to reaffirm for myself that the titles actually existed and that I'm not just heading into the depths of senility (further, anyway).

Tomorrow's column could be my last here at RPGamer... then again, it could be the beginning of a new era; an era in which CANADIANS rule exclusively over the world of Q&A... bwahhhhhahahahahaha!
Goodbye, until tomorrow (insert inn music).

No animals were hurt in the making of this column.

***Matt does not advocate three-hour math classes, oversized spiders, or Jerry Springer.
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