Right-o, back to work I go. By and large, the 100-question weekend seemed to go over pretty well. To celebrate it, we may even get the friggin' Archives up and running this week. Cross your fingers, folks. It was sort of fun, sort of frustrating, and plenty weird. Thanks again to Jonathan Weng for sending the questions, and hey, maybe I'll do something like that again... after exams, preferably. :)

In any case, it's an eclectic set of letters tonight, so we'll just pull on our boxers and flippers and dive right in, I think. A few responses to the 100 Qs are saved for the end. Let's see how coherent I am by that point...

Unlocking the Huge Materia

Hi, I'm writting you from Guatemala, Central America. I'm a big FinalFantasy fan and I own every single Final Fantasy Game. But although Ihave tried over and over again I can't solve one important puzzle inFinal Fantasy VII: How do I retrieve the Hugh Materia #4 from therocket?!?! I've tried every single combination of the 4 digit code and IcanĒt retrieve it. Would you help me?!?! Thanks!!!!


Wow! An actual gameplay question! Better yet, a question I can answer! The combination you're looking for is: Circle, Square, X, X. This will open the lock and give you the Huge Materia. Ta-daa!

Translations and Reis

This is the first time I've ever been to this webpage (thank Fritz), and it'sreally quite interesting. Just had to get that out. Now, I have a few thingsto say.

I was reading over the letter about multiculturalism in video games. I was notterribly surprised to see mentioned some of the Gears in Xenogear. Although Ionly am working on German, I know a little Spanish (with my father as areference). Stier actually means 'Bull' in Spanish (if you didn't know).Siebzehn and Achtzehn are just Seventeen and Eighteen in German. EinHander(can't find the umlaut) is just 'One Handed' in German, most likely from theway the ship was piloted or the 'arm' that can grab weapons. Ergheiz, I amamazed to say, is actually German. I wasn't expecting it to be, seeing as itdoesn't resemble anything I've seen yet. It means 'Supplementary Heat'. Now, Iunderstand the heat part (Hitze, Heiz, pretty close) but the supplementary isthrowing me for a loop. Any clue?

Since everyone is entitled to an opinion, I must vent mine. Reis, theDragonmaster (I believe that was her title) was actually very useful. After alittle bit of work on her, earning her different Bracelet Techniques, gettingher a little bit of speed and some more distance for her, she is one of thebest characters (aside from the fact that I more or less have been levelinglike a lunatic. I'm not leaving the first couple of levels until I have aDragoon!). Having her is basically the same thing as having a version of allthree dragons (I think there were three), without having to capture or trainthem all. Plus she has a Bracelet that only she can use (Holy Bracelet). Nodragon I've seen can do it. But Rafa and Malak, yeah, they sure were pitiful.Easier to kill them like I did with Delita and Algus (they were worthless whenI got to the second fight!).

It's been surreal.

Ellipsis Knight

Okay, first off, I'm gonna try and find the list of translations and meanings for video game characters and weapons, see if it's still being maintained, and if not, ask permission to update it and put it up at GIA. I got a slew o' letters about what such-and-such a name meant, and I figure there should be some sort of formal list of 'em. I know there used to be an FF Name Origin List at Tat Nakao's Illucia, but I have no idea what's become of it. Stay tuned, and anyone that knows of the list (or one like it), gimmie a shout.

As for Reis, well, I still don't like her. A bunch of people wrote in, mostly citing Holy Bracelet and Holy Breath as good abilities. Still, in a game where you can only select five active combatants, a character whose raison d'etre is enhancing the abilities of another party member (dragons) is sort of wasteful, to my mind. I'd rather bring along Agrias, or Meliadoul, or especially Orlandu.

Nobody likes Rafa and Malak, though. Ha ha. Whatta bunch of lamers. They ought to get in a fistfight with Edward the Bard, and see which one chickens out and has to run away first.

Culture clash

About what you said yesterday about cultures I'd like to see...does anyoneremember the ol' NES game "The Magic of Scherezade"? That game, which istruly a classic, was set in Arabian times. It was a little bit ofeverything, from Zelda type action, to a Dragon Warrior like battle system.It kicked! There are also some excellent stories to be created from themultiple battles between Scottland, Ireland, and England throughout history.A realtime strategy game that took place around the same time as Braveheartwould be pretty cool. I'd also like to see some Native American stuff.There are numerous legends that could be told from their culture that couldhave some interesting results.

-Dark Paladin

This conversation thread actually disappeared a few days ago, but anyone that mentions the Magic of Scherezade gets Gold Agent Points from me. Also, for other Arabian-styled RPGs, the Exile games from Working Designs on TG-16 CD (with the most lopsided difficulty levels in gaming history...), Beyond Oasis for Genesis, and Legend of Oasis for Saturn are of note. I think there was a Game Gear game in the Oasis series, but the title escapes me.

That darned Marsh Cave

I cannot understand what people have against the Marsh Cave. FF1 was my first RPG, and I played it when I was 7 or 8 years old. Yes, the Marsh Cave was difficult, but I didn't find it frustrating in the least. I _liked_ going through and finding all of the treasure. It was the first real challenge in the game. Of course, seeing how the modern gaming community's (read: a few people sending righteous editorialsclaiming their way is the only right way) only concern is getting to the next plot sequence, I could see how they hate difficulty (hey, I like plot as much as anyone else, but these are still GAMES, and they need some challenge).

--The Critic, he who shall be loathed.

See, the Marsh Cave is the embodiment, to me, of sections of games that are not tough because they're tough, but annoying because they're necessary and have one solution: level-building. Lots and lots of level-building and GP earning, so you can equip those fighters with Silver Swords that cost 4000 GP which is a hella lot of money and god it drove me up the wall. Anyhow, put simply, it's the single biggest cash-building section in the game, a placr where you *need* equipment upgrades in order to survive, and so the gameplay grinds to a halt while you kill Ogres over and over again. It's annoying, not tough. That's why everyone hates the Marsh Cave. The cave itself isn't so bad. It's getting ready for it that's the problem.

Tech stuff, god help me

This may be beyond your technical knowledge, but what the hell.

1) With the FF4-6 re-releases for PSX, I've heard that loading time was a problem. I was wondering though - FF4-6 are teeny compared to anything like FF7. One minute of FMV is probably larger than these three games combined. Also, a lot of PSX games often load up a couple of things at once so that there is absolutely no loading time between them (eg. when the Diamond Weapon attacks Midgar, there's a bit of instant switching back and forth between FMV and non-FMV). So why can't the whole of one of FF4-6 be loaded up in one shot? And if that's not possible, then why can't they load up something like one town at a time?

2) What are the standard resolutions for PSX FMV and anime?


1. Frankly, the PSX remakes of the early FF games are widely known for having pretty FMV, and otherwise being utter shit, as far as ports go. The airship scenes in the FF4 remake are, if anything, actively inferior to the originals. There's loading time. Basically, it's possible, and Square's slacking off. They can cut loading time to virtually nil when they feel like it.

2. Anime generally runs at 24 FPS, PSX FMV at 30 FPS. Is that what you're looking for? If you want resolution numbers, as in my monitor is running at 1024x768, that's virtually impossible to categorize. Some are run in a letterbox-esque format, some full-screen, some grainy, some not. Depends on the game and the compression involved.


I found your usage of the word 'it' in yesterday's GIA column highlyoffensive. I believe the populace should beed saved from having to hearsuch vile language, and thusly request that said word never be used byAllan again.

- Max

Go to hell, you Cossack bastard. I'll use it whenever I damn well please. Go back to stealing old women's cows or something.


Regarding the dossier pics again, how come you're wearing a gas maskand everybody else isn't? AK couldn't possibly smell that bad...

- Tewkman

I wear the mask because my face was horribly scarred during a battle with Fox Hound operatives during a mission in Mongolia. I now take all food and air through a straw located at the base of my neck. It's very disgusting. I'd rather not discuss it.

As an aside, in answer to some questions, yes, we'll be getting Jeremy Parish-drawn portraits of Andrea, Fritz, and Tami for the dossiers section (linked to from the About GIA text in the blue box) as soon as we forward him photo reference. Which we'll be doing soon. Blame Brian Glick. I do.

100 question fallout

Where did you get the answer to number 2? Did you make it up? I don'tremember anything about that being said in the game... Maybe I should play itagain. Yeah, I think I'll do that. I'm almost finished with Abe's Exodus anyway.

--Matt Elder

>From the Breath of Fire 2 Handbook by Ben Siron:

- - - - - - - - - - Basic Mapping Mechanics - - - - - - - - -

there are two different flavors of non-combat overhead view in BoF2: theoverworld, and the area. Both views use the same graphics, but the theoverworld is a heck of a lot bigger. There are no battles to the death onthe overworld. The overworld also 'wraps-around'. If you move off theedgeof the world, you come back on the opposite side (the view conceals thefact that there is any break. You can take this mean:

[Here's what I support]1) the world of BoF2 has the topology of a doughnut

[Here's your theory]2) BoF2's universe has an 'above' and a 'below', and the surface of theworld separates the two. Some kind of funky spacewarp links the oppositeedges of this surface together like an endless reflectionor

[Like that's gonna work]3) just try not to think about it too hard.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this thoroughly pointless showing of questionnumber I forget being previously answered. Note my commentary in bracketsand bold letters. The doughnut theory does make sense though consideringthe way the world map is used in almost all RPGs. Of course, then me haveto ignore scenes and FMV where a sperical world is being destroyed, shown,etc. Mmmm... Glazed...


the "martial arts" weapons in the FFL games are meant to improve your agility. In FFL2, if humans and mutants use them a lot, their agility will increase over time. Also I don't see what's wrong with a weapon that actually gets stronger the more you use it. Ever noticed how much damage a punch with 1 use does? I think it's very nifty and original that the original SaGa team put this sort of thing in. Now, the thing about the FFL games (the first two) is that their system is very open. How they accomplish this openess, is through their class and weapon system.

- Desmond Gaban

Oookay... in any case, rule of thumb for getting the 100 questions: if the answer surprises you, and it sounds a bit off-kilter, chances are that I pulled it out of my ass. For example:

Q: What causes scurvy? A: Monkeys.

This is an example of an answer which I researched extensively, and should be taken at face value. On the other hand, if it does not involve monkeys or scurvy, don't believe a word I say. I'm a liar. I'm a damned liar with statistics up his sleeve.

Closing comments

I came to do this column a bit late, even for me, only to discover that the backlog I'd incurred from dealing with the 100-question weekend had left me with quite a few letters to pick and choose from. Which was cool. Keep the letters coming, but don't be surprised if you see a letter you sent a day or three ago popping up in tomorrow's column, okay? :)

Anyhow, I've got some email to write, so I'll wish you all well, and see you tomorrow.

- The Double Agent

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