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ASK MATT
Strike Up the Final Boss Theme! September 21, 2005

Matt Demers - 02:00 EST

I HOPE that not too many of you have a shorter-than-average attention span today, because this one is packed with some meaty questions and answers alike. Thanks for all of the interest in the contest, guys!! I'm sorry I couldn't answer all of your queries, but there will be more question answering in the days to come. Never fear!

I'm feeling an emotional pinch now to thank everyone who has brought me this far, and to thank the staff for the great opportunity... I've learned a lot, and made multiple friends along the way. If Bucket stands on top at the end, I must wish her all the best here while I can, because she would make a fabulous columnist.

If on the other hand, I am the one left standing, I promise you a world filled with infinite happiness, lollipops, and confetti, for fortnights to come. So, weigh your options carefully... and vote (once) this weekend!

Seeing as this baby might be the longest one yet, I will delay no further. Behold; column three of week five of the contest dubbed "RPGamer Idol" shall now be presented.




L E T T E R S
Staying up-to-date (and up too late? Nah...) for updates


Matt - Many hosts of columns like this find that the time and effort involved in writing the column makes them unable to keep up with the new games they're allegedly there to discuss. Do you have a particular strategy in mind for dealing with this?

Good luck,
-Benjamin


Matt

Honestly, I've discovered that by participating in this whole Idol gig, I've become much more acutely aware of many games out there I hadn't considered playing before. As a result, my interest in the genre is actually being spurred and enhanced by working at this thing (I've actually gone and bought three new games in the last month- a huge number for me). You're right though, in that it does require a lot of time and effort! However, I've discovered that the time hasn't been scraped away from RPG-playing as much as it has from such non-productive things as chatting endlessly on MSN Messenger. The effort part comes easily, because I've really enjoyed writing these puppies up. Occasional minor irritants occur when class reschedulings interfere with order, but all-in-all, I have few worries.
Accursed fiends, professors are...

My strategy, in a nutshell, is to deal with the column in stride, and to continue this reshuffling of the rest of my life to balance the time I spend on this, the time I spend playing games, and the time I spend doing non-RPGamer-related activities. I've really needed to "defragment" my schedule for quite some time, and this has given me a perfect opportunity to do just that.



Surprise! Learn more about Young Merlin


Hey Matt,

I'm assuming its Matt anyway. It's nice to see another Canadian answering these tough RPG based question's. I'm Canadian too so you got my vote for that reason alone, we Canadian's should stick together. Anyway, I noticed you mentioned E.V.O in your recent article. I gotta say that game rocked. What could be cooler then evolving a fish to a full blown dinosaur mutation in mere hours, only to change this dinosaur into a cave man so that you could increase your attack and defense ten fold. I mean, could there be anything better then that, well yes, ice cream for example, but its great nonetheless. Now Young Merlin, that game sucked. I don't I need to give a reason why it sucked, if anyone has ever played it, they'll know why. I've been a gamer for almost 20 years now, I'm 22 so that's a pretty long time. The past 20 years, well 19, have allowed me to experience all the great RPG's of the ages. All the FF's, Chrono Trigger, Lufia 1-2, the Dragon Warriors/Quests, Star Ocean 2-3, you know, almost every RPG on the market (which includes pretty much anything that Square/Enix/Square-Enix had to offer). So with this in mind, I don't really consider myself oldschool because I loved games like Xenogears and FFX.

Later
purelunatic

Matt

Maple leaf pride! Only we can appreciate the ability to hunt polar bears 365 days a year; at least when we aren't chopping logs or kissing moose (meese... this would be SUCH a cool word).

I didn't think I'd get much EVO/Young Merlin reaction, but I got at least three e-mails in response! I actually enjoyed EVO at the time, but it's a game that they could have done so much MORE with. The boss battles were all incredibly hard, and finding your way to human form was an interesting task (cat jaws and rabbit body?? I'm sure that some anthropologists would have a little bibbity to say about that).

Also, I found the title of the game really amusing. It's a good thing that it didn't become a well-known, wildly popular phenomenon in 1990s gaming, because I'm sure it would have made many angsty sides collide. "EVO: Search for EDEN"?? You might as well just strike up a boxing match between Charles Darwin and Jimmy Swaggart. Or his ghost, anyway. Darwin's, of course.

And agreed... Young Merlin was like the biggest mishmash of horror I've ever experienced. It was like an idiotic version of a King's Quest game, except with no reading (we wouldn't want to exclude kids three and under), and the worst sound in history. I remember my dad walking into the room while I was playing and having my face flush in embarrassment-- the "main grassy area" map theme, from what I can remember, would have been better suited for a baby's musical mobile.

Now its question time, duh duh duh duuuhhh.

Do you consider yourself oldschool? I you could only play the same 3 RPG's from now until the day you cease to exist, what would they be? Finally, what RPG do you think had the most intriguing/complicated story? You know, the kinda story that makes you think for months after you already beaten the game 3 times. Good luck with the contest, and as the wise Red Green would say, "I'm pulling for ya, we're (Canadian's) all in this together."

Matt

Hahaha, yes, I am certainly old-school. BUT, I don't consider myself to be "JUST old-school"- I have bought and played through more new games in the past couple of years than at any other time in my life, and I've enjoyed most of them.

If I had to pick any three, I'd go with Earthbound, Final Fantasyyyy... hmm... 6, probably-- and then an RPG Maker game. Ooo! Tricky, hmm? Then, I figure I could make up random games for myself, put them down, pick them up ten years down the road (assuming I haven't lost/stepped on my memory card by then) and play through them, having forgotten everything. Note that the effect increases the older and more decrepit and senile you become, giving you years and years of new gaming experiences!!

Although I do reserve some rights to complain about them, the Xenosaga series has got me wrapped around its little finger. Chaos (capitalized since it's the beginning of a sentence of course) is oh-so-mysterious, and it would be nice to finally figure out why he's been hanging around for the past two games, especially after hearing the melodramatic ending of Episode II. Despite its problems, you have to give some credit to Xenosaga for its story complexity... certainly, I'm going to be sad to see the series end at installment III. They'd BETTER not leave many loose ends hanging though by the end of said installment. It's a game that depends on its storytelling, and if they don't wrap it up in style, I swear I'll throw a psychotic fit.



PAL games, DS talk, and Suikoden-speak


To Matt

After just purchasing a DS I realised that there were no decent RPG's for it, so resorted to buying Pokemon Emerald and Fire Red. Being from the PAL region of the PAL region (Sarcastic Yay for the Oceanic Region), What are the rpgs worth getting that are on the PAL horizon.

Also is it just me, or is Mario DS a lot more playable on the DS then it was on the 64.

Matt

In researching this question, I have become far more compassionate for people living outside of the North-American/ Japanese loop than I ever was before. I've learned quickly that it's really, REALLY hard to find out about this kind of thing.

For the DS, though, you're really out of luck for now. There have a been a few titles unveiled so far for North American shores yet, and sadly none of them have been announced for PAL-releases. Never fear though... there's always Warioware to pass your time, and I'm sure that one day, some game company will throw you a bone.

I'm actually finding the Mario game to be quite a bit less playable, for play-control reasons. It's easier to just play for a quick minute and find a few stars, with no muss/no fuss... but the game really hypes using the thumb-thing to try and make your movements "smooth". Well, if by "smooth" they mean "forever careening into pits of lava thus having to repeatedly listen to Bowser's cackle-o-annoyance", then yes, it's smooth. I use the D-pad.

Back on the subject of RPGs, though, let's read section B of your letter.

Will Suikoden 5 relight my fire for the Suikoden series, Noting that Suikoden 3 never passed American (maybe Canadian I just din't know) borders.

Lastly my favourite RPG's were from the end of the SNES era (Lufia, Terranigma, Harvest Moon), what made these games so great compared to RPG's of nowadays?

Thanks anyway

Bainick

Matt

I'd say that it might be a good idea to try-before-you-buy, maybe, with Suikoden V, if possible. It's just that every time the subject arises in conversation, all I hear is how Suikoden III is a beast from which fleeing is necessary, and how IV is the same to a much greater extent. Having said that, there really isn't that much information about the game yet; maybe they'll mix things up for you a smidgen and make everything better. I never got into Suikoden myself-- I did spend a few hours with Suikoden II, but I just kinda trailed off and ceased to play anymore, marking yet another one of those least-hardcore moments in Matt-gaming history.

Oh, and I'm fully convinced that the games of the SNES era are loved by people like you and I for largely nostalgic reasons. I'll wager that if you come back to RPGamer's Q&A section in 2015, you'll hear people talking wistfully about the old days and the great games much like we are now- except that those people will be talking about Final Fantasy X and World of Warcraft ('member the plague of '05...?) ...



I wish that "remake" had more synonyms


Yes...Squeenix has been beating remakes into the ground. But there is still a good reason why FFVI should be remade. The one on Playstation is hardly playable. To this day, I've started it twice, and have not finished it once. The reason?....Those horrid load times. I can't imagine why they appeared in FFVI....particularly when FFs IV and V came out okay (regarding load times)....But Squeenix needs to make up for that. Note that for this very same reason, a remake of Chrono Trigger would also be okay.

Speaking of remakes...how awesome is it that Suikodens 1 and 2 are coming to the PSP? That better get a stateside release. I can't see why it wouldn't...the demand on Ebay is obvious.

Question Time....how in the world could Xenosagas 1 and 2 be crammed into a DS cartridge? Don't get me wrong, I'll buy it the day it comes out...but I'm guessing that compared to the originals...it'll be a HUGE letdown.

an RPGfan


Matt

I can understand that you'd want a "real" re-release, since I'm with you 100% here on one aspect... the load times WERE of course unacceptable to the point of frustration, and the PSX ports were indeed slaps in the face to such high-quality titles. The fact remains, though, that remakes are not good, nor will they ever be! The more that companies make off of leftovers, the more leftovers they'll continue to sling around!! Who wants leftovers when you could have something fresh 'n' tasty? Some leftovers taste better the next day, but really, I'd rather have something new.

Tragically, things aren't looking so great for your Suikoden, as RPGamer reported here a very short time ago. I'm not sure if it's a great move on their part... if Konami is looking to spur sales for their newly announced Suikoden V, I'm surprised that they wouldn't try appealing to their fanbase with this one. But, I don't claim to be a marketing expert; I'm just a lousy RPGamer Idol contestant. I'm sure the statisticians in Japan have thought this one carefully over...

As for Xenosaga, what a perfect example of- um, two paragraphs ago! I'll wager that there will be some drastic changes, graphically and gameplay-ly, but certainly, all of that is still up in the air. There will HAVE to be changes to put it on the small screen, I think, so there might actually be effort involved in this one. HOWEVER, could you imagine if they had instead decided to put all of that energy into working on further episodes? There IS a lot they could improve in the first two, but there is no need for remakes after such a ridiculously short period of time...no need a'tall.

Oh, in case you haven't noticed, I don't like remakes.



Oh... my first heart!


Dear Matty,

Question 1:

It seems the new Nintendo controller for the Revolution will indeed be a revolutionary one. It may change the gaming industry forever. It has the potential to attract a whole new audience. With a new audience, comes different games. These games will probably be specialized to work with Nintendo's quirky mechanics. So with this in mind, my actual question is: Do you think the RPG market for Nintendo could suffer, if the focus is more geared toward games for 'non-gamers' with 'simple mechanics'? The rotation of the controller is certainly an idea for playing RPGs, but it seems like the main focus will now be more focused on action/adventure games that require use of the gyroscope function. I personally think it would be best to have a flexible controller that can work well with all kinds of games, but it just doesn't seem that way to me with this odd 'simplified' design.

Matt

With a huge number of Revolution-related letters still in the inbox, how could I pass up the opportunity to chat a bit more about this super-hot topic?

Many people would be quick to jump on you and say "Bah, fool! The Gamecube doesn't offer RPGs in the first place! How could things get any worse??"
I think though, that the Nintendo has done all right with the Gamecube; at the very least, there has been a marked improvement over the N64's slim pickings, most of which were trashworthy anyway. So, yes, that troubles me too-- I do think that Nintendo now has a lot (or at least "some") to lose, RPG-wise. Hopefully, companies can rise to the challenge and realize that with a little creative juiciness, RPGs don't all have to flock to the PS3.

There is no doubt in my mind, though, that there WILL be a demand for Revolution RPGs, so someone is bound to rise to the occasion, I think- but we can only wait and see! If not, we'll all be condemned to use Sony's stinky Spock-eyebrows PS3 controller forevermore.

How do you work with such a simplified controller though? Well, you know, a lot of people have been whispering without end that this controller is incredibly simple. Let's take a closer look: there are four buttons not including the D-pad, start, home, select, and power; far more than the original NES controller, and two buttons shy of the SNES controller! Both of those systems featured some pretty amazing games too, so I'm not worried about the simplicity of the controls as much as I am the design itself. That, my friend, is a worry that will only be relieved when I sit down with a nice, um, Margarita (lime)...and actually play my first Revolution RPG.

Question 2:

I used to be hyped about DQ8, until I heard about the extremely simplified skill system, reduction of difficulty, and vast areas of empty space on the world map, making the 'vastness' of the world more of a 'void'. What is your impression of this? The proof is in the pudding, sure, but with a new developer (Level 5) I'm a lot more apprehensive this time around. Do you feel the same way or are you totally gung-ho on snatching this game when it's released?

Love <3,

Benny

Matt

Considering that I've never once been sorely disappointed by a Dragon Quest game, gung-ho is definitely what I am about this title. I hope hope hope that this will be the "Game of the Year", especially since so many other games originally slated for release this fall appear to have been unceremoniously bumped back.

I'm personally happy about the new developer: I think that a makeover is exactly what Dragon Quest needs to kick some new life into it- and from everything I've heard, they've done a great job of preserving the way it used to feel at the same time. As for in-game specifics...well, just you continue reading.

The idea of a big open world kind of turns me on, since I like overworld maps much, and they are disappearing from our world at an ever-increasing rate. All of the past Dragon Quest games had big open areas of map without anything to find or do in particular, so I think this game is just continuing the idea- but more "up close", perhaps. I'm personally hoping that the explorative feel of the NES Dragon Warrior games makes a return, in which case, random idiotic minigames and special events all over the place would be unpleasant.

The skill system looks to be a bit different, for sure, but it's been awhile since we've had things shaken up in Dragon Quest. I've heard that there are far fewer skills to learn at all- and while that distressed me for fifteen seconds or so, I suddenly recalled the fact that 77% of the techniques available in Dragon Warrior VII were things I never had any desire to use in the first place ("Gabo put Ramming on AnkHorn" is not something that appeared on my screen except the few times I stuck my characters on AI). The difficulty issue, on the other hand, remains to be seen. I really hope that things aren't too cakewalkish, because that will make for an awfully disappointed Matt (and Benny, I assume). And IF they introduce easily-available disposable MP-restoring items, I'll be sure to... throw yet another psychotic fit?

I <3 you too~~
*tear*





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

With that, it ends, like all good things, and all non-MMORPGs, which are also good things.

Now, I get to sit back for awhile and take a few days off to spend some quality time with my textbooks fiddle around and play new games that require my immediate attention.

Don't forget too: In the unlikely event that you're unaware by this point, Bucket is up for the next THREE days straight- followed by an Andrew triple-feature, the first we've seen in quite some time! Don't miss it, for it should be a merry little Q&A hootenanny.

The final obligatory conclusion-sentence: "So read away, send your letters, and keep doing the Q&A thing you've done for years now."

Bye bye, everybody...

***Matt is currently accepting big hugs from all feeling inclined.
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With all of these spasmic rage-fits, my chill-pill prescription must be running low- note to self: REFILL. Oh right, cookies. Can't forget to mention those.

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