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I'm playing through all of Final Fantasy, and everyone is invited (Playing FF VIII now)

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Re: FF8 play styles -- The discussion about religiously and artificially keeping the character levels low to game the system, and the lack of fun that generates honestly reminds me of the discussions that used to arise around Metal Gear Soild 3 back when appreciation for that game and its systems was really primitive and misunderstood. I used to hear/read very intelligent people completely miss the point of how to approach that game and play it. Arguing that it's a terrible game because the most "optimal" method of sneaking was to lay prone and crawl on all fours across all the levels, and adjusting your camo every time the texture underneath you changed, which was long, tedious, and boring. Like, yes, that is a way to get through the game while maintaining 95% camo the entire way and thus avoiding detection nearly 100% of the time. But it completely ignores the plethora of other tools at your disposal, nearly all of the combat mechanics, the guard behavior/routines, etc, and anything actually fun in the game. And that's kinda how I feel about FF8's battle system. Yeah, you can min-max and game the system if you want. If that's what's fun to you, awesome. But if it isn't fun? There's a whole bunch of other things you can explore and do while playing FF8, and you're closing yourself off to those possibilities because...???
For the record, I enjoyed both playthroughs of the game. By now, I'm pretty sure the reason why I didn't like it as much as the other games is, that the stoy seems less epic, and more personal - or at least, that is how it is portrayed, a lot of the details here are about the mundane stuff, like school and how Zell should visit his mum.

But yeah, especially with an easy series as FF, min-maxing is not necessary, and if it kills your enjoyment of a game, you should change your playstyle, especially if you have so many things that you can do.

I get this perspective, and this is how I felt as a kid too. But from the perspective of an educator, "stealing themselves out of their responsibility" is usually the opposite of what's going on. Teachers have a lot more obligations and responsibilities - both moral and legal - than students are even aware of. And doing what's right and fair, doesn't always line up with how a bullied kid perceives the world.
Oh, I wasn't even thinking about the training session of Squall and Seifer. I get a bit stream-of-consciousness-y sometimes, and thought more of the bigger picture, where I just assumed Seifer might be another kind of bully than he actually seems to be. The session is totally the fault of Squall AND Seifer, both are just really dumb teens, at the start of the game.

I just assumed Seifer would be more of the kind of bully, who has it really out for someone, and makes their life hell. Which clearly isn't the case, if even someone like Zell, who is also insulted more then enough by Seifer, thinks that ignoring Seifer is the best way of dealing with him. Seifer really seems more like a paper tiger, than anything, screaming for attention, without actually hurting anyone, who doesn't play along.

BTW, thanks for the perspective - I'm always interested in learning more about the reality of being a teacher.

And all of this is one of the many many many reasons why I really like FF8. Squall begins the game with a very narrow and immature perspective. His world is very small and the angle of his view of it is very acute. He allows himself to get obviously baited into conflicts by a bully in ways that only juveniles allow themselves to, and doesn't really take any personal responsibility for it. Quistis, his instructor, is naturally inclined to be more sympathetic to Squall and believe his side of things, for a lot of complex and personal reasons. But it's precisely because of those biases, that she has to maintain her professional objectivity and not allow them to color her judgment as a teacher and only consider the facts of the situation when dealing with the two of them. To do otherwise would be a completely different kind of unfair/unjust. It's an internal conflict that's harder for her than Squall even realizes, and it's a big part of why she eventually steps down as an instructor, because maintaining that professional distance is just not something she wants to have to do with regards to Squall & Co. It's a bad fit. Made even worse by the fact that she's being tasked with having more maturity and responsibility than is fair for someone her age and background should have to deal with. Did I mention I love Quistis? She's the best. Teaching is hard, it's not an easy job and it's not something just anyone can do and do well.
Quistis is kind of this prodigy, who becomes a SeeD and then an instructor at a very young age, right? The game never goes too much into that, except for that one scene where she tells Squall, that she isn't an instructor anymore. At least I don't remember, but that might be on me. There would be a lot to uncover here, how she deals with the immense pressure, and probably the dissappointment of everyone, when they decide that she isn't material for an instructor.

While I think, she forces her more on Squall than she should (he clearly doesn't care for her friendship, at least at the beginning), on the whole she seems very mature and competent. Like everyone else here, I really like her, at least what the game showed me of her, for now.

Something neat about that opening cutscene: Seifer's limit break is essentially the same attack he uses against Squall there.
That IS neat. I think, you play only during that one mission as him? I never saw his limit break, but that is really cool. I guess, I should watch it on youtube.

Without using a guide? Hoo boy.
Oh, I just meant that getting new cards motivates me the most, when playing these kind of games, and that my motivation disappears, after I got them all. I'm not necessarily trying to get them all, and I actually couldn't help myself, I looked up what the deal with the Queen of Cards was. I'm curious, if I find any in-game information about what kind of cards she actually wants.

One of the reasons Random is so widely despised is that it prevents you from using a deck full of the unique character and monster cards you've collected to just stomp every match you run up against.
Is there a reason not to mod every non-unique card you get? Because that is sort-of what I already did. Can always win them back. And the unique cards are pretty good.

You already have every Guardian Force the game forces onto your party: lightning bird, cold lady, fire lion. The other 17 are optional and missable, to say nothing of the non-junctioning GFs that may well be locked behind a piece of hardware they only ever sold in Japan and has been off the market for two decades.
I have never heard of these non-junctioning GFs. Well, while I don't care much about getting all the cards, I certainly do about getting all the junctionable GFs (and Odin, because why not). I will certainly use a guide, to at least make sure that I don't miss any. Getting them in the last dungeon from the bosses there doesn't count, I'd like to actually use them during the story.

Which was the point where I became a Trepie.
You and me both. :D

I think I'll make a new post, for my report. Having these giant posts her makes writing and correcting into a crawl.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I stopped, after getting applause from Seifer and everyone else, for making it through the SeeD exam.

Before talking about anything else, I want to mention how surprised I am, that no one, ever, brings up how funny this game is. I guess this is another counter point for VI and VII (even if VII had it's goofy moments), but I think I have never laughed so much in an FF game, as in this one. Be it Biggs (or Wedge?) crab-walking away, just to be nearly beheaded by Seifer, or the part where everyone craps on Rinoas awful job at making a model train - there are many, many funny bits in this game.

It's not as good-natured, as it is in V, I think, but it also doesn't feel too mean-spirited, to me. They just aren't a tight-knit group of friends, that I feel the group in V is, but it feels a lot like the ribbing that teenagers do (I think, it's too long since I have been one). I really enjoy this part of the game (part of the reason why I enjoy Quistis and Squall, is because she makes fun of his moodiness), and I'm very surprised, that it is such a dominante part. Just because I never read about it, when people talk about the game. Like with V, it's always about the gameplay, with the story often only getting a passing mention, mostly about how that one TWIST doesn't work, or something. The humour here is really surprising, in a very good way.

Speaking of V, this game really feels like a continuation of V in many ways. The cast is goofy with each other in ways, that hasn't been there since that game, and the character development system feels very much like a way more complex version of the job system. As mentioned, they all feel like bards in a way, with you being able to not even giving them the item-command (which no one had, up to now, items are boring). You just have so, so much control over everyone - these are, similar to V, just blank slates. Except that you don't even get stuck with jobs you might not want anymore, or something - the development of GFs is nearly completely open to you (except for a handful abilities, I guess, which only appear after a GF learns another one). And you can always switch all junctions to another member, which is mechanically identical to how Kryle took on all of Galufs abilities and jobs.

So, this feels like they took the best of V and VII (where you can swap around Materia), and went from there. Plus a bit of VI, with a way more usable version of its desperation attacks. Well, "best" in a certain way, but I think it's clear what I mean.

And, also, instead of having jobs, you just have a ton of options to customize each character. Really feels like the idea from VII, where you could combine one certain Materia to give your weapon status properties to inflict on the enemy, and just expanded and combined with the Job system from V. Like, they had this idea, implemented it, and then realized "we can do this, and that, and that too!", and it only stopped after a night that felt like a fever-dream, with a ton of options that got all implemented.

Anyway, to go back to the story, Squall behaves at parties like I do (and, just for the record, I really love how these dress uniforms look). Out of sight, away from the croud, waiting for it to be over. Part is social awkwardness, part is not liking being in crowds (I still don't, and am still bad at it), and also, of course, Sqall being scared of showing emotions in front of anyone.

I actually had the very same situation as Squall, here someone I know comes (in this case Zell), tries to have a conversation, and leaves, so they can actually have fun. Except that Zell does it really well, and just wants to have a normal conversation. I had a few really shitty "why aren't you talking to anyone?" moments, where someone is really too dense to understand, that this is the worst thing to say in such a moment. Selphie also comes, she is still recruiting for the garden committee.

You know, Squall does really make a lot of friends, without even trying. Quistis, Zell and Selphie are pretty nice and cool, even if Zell would get on my nerves relatively soon. But they all seem quite level-headed and competent, and seem to accept Squall, on the whole, for who he is. It feels a bit like a wish-fulfillment fantasy, having these people around you, who treat you like one of their friends, until you maybe want to join them.

I feel like I should mention that, while I'm way past the point of being a moody teenager, I'm still not the best at social interactions, and these people really do behave in a way, that would have been super helpful for me. People in real life tend to be way less ideal. That said, part of the reason why they already are attached to Squall might be, that they worked together. Which is really helpful, in forming relationships, at least if people work well together. Or it makes you hate the other person, for being incompetent and/or lazy.

Anyway, Rinoa appears, and immediately flirts with Squall, and they have their dance scene. It is really adorable, how Squall is really nervous at the start, and gets better over time, until he shows what a great dancer he actually is. Cool song, too. I love, how they bump into another pair, and Rinoa shows them her tongue.

Squall seems to actually crush a bit on her too, afterwards, as he looks after her, when she walks to her friends(?). That would also explain the balcony, a calm place outside is also my choice, if I'm confused.

Quistis comes, and clearly tries to talk to him about something, with him being disinterested. So, does Quistis have a crush on Squall, at the start? I always read it that way, but by now, it feels like she is just hurt that he doesn't care for her, while he does for a stranger like Rinoa. Dunno, this also seems like coding for romantic jealousy, but this game has a lot of thought put into every aspect of it. So, it might be really just a person wanting to be friends with someone, who doesn't have the same feelings, platonic or romantic.

Still, she gives him his last order, which sounds ominous. Squall actually wonders about that, I'm glad that the game does let his barrier crack, from time to time.

I really love, how this game "wastes" time with mundane stuff like this. It's all character work, neither the dance nor the talk with Quistis is necessary for the main plot. It's just details and world/character building. It's great, and I think never happened to that amount in any of the earlier games.

When we meet her in front of the training area, we get another tutorial. You know, the game really tried, giving us one tutorial after the other, spaced out over the first few hours of the game, so the player wouldn't be overwhelmed. They really tried to explain the junction system. It's also nice, how she knows how to defeat a T-Rexaur, even if she tells us to flee, if we encounter one.

The scene, where Quistis tells Squall about her not being an instructor anymore, is pretty nice. I'm also a bit ashamed, that I couldn't help but laugh at Squalls "Then talk to a wall" line. It's just so cold, and makes clear that he doesn't get it. And, to a certain degree, I think he is even in his right. He has shown Quistis no sign of wanting to spend time with her. They aren't friends, so there isn't a reason for her to think, that he would be interested in her problems. The interest in a friendship (relationship?) is purely one-sided here, and especially with her being his teacher up to now, makes the whole situation even more off.

Interestingly, she doesn't get angry at him, but tries to get through to him. She clearly is way more mature than him, and probably than most people her age, in that she knows that friendship, and talking about problems, is important. And that she won't get anywhere, by screaming. She just reaches out to Squall. Again, and again. Which might be a sign against her maturity, at some point, you should drop it. But still, she doesn't get angry at him.

And Squall is clearly hurt by something, elsewise he wouldn't think the whole "no one should carry another ones problem" stuff.

With that, we go back outside. There is a very easy boss fight, and the girl that seemed to have vanished in the dormitory appears again, being attacked by said boss. She calls Squall and Quistis, the latter even by a nickname. But Quistis also doesn't remember her.

There is some missable dialogue later, of some students who forgot that they fought. If you explore even a little bit, you get a ton of hints about the GFs erasing your memory, from the very beginning of the game.

Also, that boss dropped 16 Wizard Stones, which can be turned to level 5 level 3 elemental spells, each. Which, uh, this is absurd. Is the game begging to be broken?

Let me mention here, that I already played a ton of Triple Triad (from now on called TT), and got a giant amount of cards, with most of them modded to stuff. Which also means, that Quistis has something like eight Blue Spells, and Zell and Squalls have upgraded their weapons (only one level, though, I think). Considering that tents can be modded into Curaga, and Siren generally gives you great spells like Death for junctioning, I already feel somewhat overpowered. Squall already has over 1500 HP, and the other two are only laging behind, because I decided to go for mod abilities, instead of junctionings. Also, I made a table of all the cards I got by now, and into what they can be modded, so I have a reference for later.

By the way, I always ask everyone, if they want to play TT. Which makes me think of grim-looking Squall, who is normally a total loner, becoming super social, because he is addicted to this game.

Next morning, we already get our first SeeD mission. I really think, the game should have given us at least one day with nothing to do, except interacting with other students and teachers, and just leading a school life. Oh, well.

On the hallway, I meet Xu, who promises me to play TT later, when she brushed up her skills again. On a hallway, we find a student, who totally wants to see our cool gunblade. Squall, easily breaking his shell if asked the right questions, loves to show off - which leads to a teacher seeing him, and mentioning to him, that he will get penalized.

There is also a nice in-game explanation for characters, who can tell us all our deaths, and stuff like that. The Trepies, being way too much into her, know all about her performance. Really nice touch.

Also, on the schools intranet, a site for the Garden Committee exists now, and looks great. Like a very early, simple website, I love it. It's like, Selphie has her own blog here. She doesn't just talk about the mission, but also her inner thoughts and fears. She really opens up to the whole school (even if no one reads this), which is like proto-social media. This is way ahead of its time.

I only now realized, that there is really no equipment screen. You can upgrade your weapons, that's it, which feels very XIII (or probably, it's the other way around - I'm already very curious, to get to XIII and compare it to VIII). Armor instead gives GFs abilities, which work like armor would. It's a pretty cool system, really.

The whole system, where you can take exams whenever you want, and get paid due to your SeeD level, with you losing levels relatively soon, is interesting. Like, the questions are just gameplay stuff, but it's also stuff that someone who works in this worlds military, should know, I guess, so the questions make sense. The exams are also really harsh, with you needing to answer all questions correct, but also get no penalty for failing. I feel like I could read more into it, but I honestly can't think of anything, for now. Maybe later.

We also get briefed by Cid, and we, again, see that there is a conflict between him and the faculty members. I also get the magic lamp, and remembered that you can trivialize Diablos, if you just stick a blind spell onto him. I got some limit breaks here, due to his gravity spells. Squalls was actually somewhat weak, I found, especially to the ten hits Zell could do, or the triple cast of Selphie.

I'm never going to abuse The End. Just saying. Her whole limit break is ridiculous.

Diablos and his summon FMV are really great looking, I love his design.

In Balamb, I play a ton of TT and do a lot of modding, as I finally unlocked Card Mod. I also enjoyed the scenes, where people talked to Zell. Especially the one on the first scene, where someone talks about Zell doing these pull ups on a lantern, and Selphie just laughs, instead of being impressed ("I think you need some help."). Beautiful scene.

We also get more world building, about how Hyne was a god, who got nearly killed by humans, but his more powerful half is still out there (and, I guess, will get kids, who are naughty, it sounds very much like this kind of tale).

In the train, we find the first Pet Pals magazine. I love, how there are magazines that you can read in this game. Zell tells us a bit about Timber, before the group falls asleep, and we have the first switch to Laguna, Kiros and Ward.

They actually work for our enemies, Galbadia. Well, worked, this seems to be the time, where Timber was first attacked, which started the occupation 18 years ago.

Except, instead of having evil Galbadian forces, we play a dork and his two friends, and it's amazing. The battle song is great, by the way. I still remember Lagunas absurd limit break, but Wards regular attack is great too, with his giant anchor, that he has to manually get back, after throwing it.

We are on some kind of mission, but Laguna, the leader, got completely lost. And he wants to get back, anyway, so we take a car that just happens to be standing in the forest, and leave. Maybe it's the one, the took to get here?

Look, I can't do Laguna justice. He is great, and I'm sure everyone knows it. This whole part is hilarious. I think my favourite part is, when Julia comes over, at the hotel, and Kiros and Ward are like "see you later". She suggests that they go to her room, for some privacy, and than the camera zooms out, showing that EVERYONE in the bar is near them, watching them and listening in. Including Kiros and Ward. Love it.

In the room, after Laguna calmed down, we learn about him and Julia. That he doesn't like to fight, but loves the traveling. That she not only wants to play the piano, but also wants to write lyrics, and that Laguna inspires her.

For the record, while Laguna is a total dork and extremely nervous, Julia is really great, takes charge of the starting romance, and just shows that she has it all together, emotionally. This game has some really great women. I'm looking forward to learning more about Edea and Ultimacia.

When Kiros comes, with new orders, the "dream" stops, and Squall, Zell and Selphie wake up. I know, moron is a bad word, but that line is still really funny. You know the one. And, honestly, Laguna is the dork that Squall would be too, if he let himself. I guess, at least.

Finally at Timber, I actually tell the real password. Looking at a let's play, I regret that, because the alternative is, again, really funny. There is also a pet shop, with a guy in front. Who left his dog in there, a dog who is making noises inside. But he can't get in, because the owners are on vacation. And, uh, just left the dog inside this little hut. Just, uh, what? This sounds like a very lousy business person.

The train we get in, that is used by the resistance cell we are supposed to support, has a face and horns in front. Just so you know.

Inside, we meet to more teens, who are totally the resistance, who ask Squall to wake up their princess. I do get the Angelo card from one of them (the other got a mean look from Squall, and acted like his stomach hurt). Here, right at the start, even Zell and Selphie realize that these guys don't really know what they are doing.

Honestly, I'm a bit hard on these two. Especially Zell, who tends to act like an overactive teenager and can't sit still. But they are also professionals, and show that here. They are not as silly and unprofessional, as the game might suggest.

Surprise, the princess is Rinoa, who seems to have gotten a bit of a crush on Seifer? Dunno, I guess I'm bad at reading this stuff, I also thought she had firted with Squall, at the party.

One of the two guys briefs us, and we learn that Vinzer Deling, president of Galbadia (their ARCHENEMY) is coming. They call him a dictator. Well, sure, I guess I'll just trust them. They want to kidnap him, and make him change his views. There is some complicated plan, about de- and recoupling of train cars, that I never really followed. The mission itself is, thankfully, pretty simple.

This is also the part, where everyone is making fun of Rinoas bad modeling skills.

Honestly, the whole thing reminds me of Avalanche. Again, we have a bunch of teenagers who fight for freedom, but are in way over their heads. Except that the stakes aren't nearly as high, as for Avalanche in VII. It really feels like a group of people today, who have a vague idea of wanting to change something complicated for the better, but act unprofessional about it, and simply are not prepaired and don't see the whole picture.

As mentioned, the mision itself is pretty simple, and more an excuse for a minigame. Inbetween, we see Biggs and Wedge, with the lower of the two just getting everyone angry at him, by just doing his job. He gets sad, because he won't be able to buy his girlfriend a ring, propose to her, all that stuff.

This stuff is funny, but I like how it shows us a different side of our enemies. These aren't just evil soldiers, with no heart. These are just different, young people, who got caught up in battles, created by some politicians. Together with Laguna and his people, this gives nice context for our enemy.

Anyway, Rinoa now wants to hav a TALK with the president, thinking she can simply change his thinking by talking to him nicely. I honestly can't imagine her being harsh, or even having thought through, how to talk to this guy. When the guy reveals, that he is a double, she is SHOCKED, that he calls them amateurs. Which, come on, they are. The plan was better than I would expect from most teens, who think of stuff like this, but it was still pretty lacking.

With that, we start another boss fight. The human form is really weak, but the monster form hits actually pretty hard. And here, I realized that I was totally overpowered, because I did hundreds of damage with Firaga. I mean, of course. But, uh, yeah, not sure if I can have a regular playthrough, however it looks. You just have control over way too many variables.

After the battle, we learn that the real pesident is going to the TV station. Galbadia wants to use radiowaves, which are going through I guess? Rinoa and her two friends have a strategy meeting (which means, they are kneeling near each other, and talk). Because it makes total sense, to just go on and try somethng else. Why not.

An interesting detail: When a GF has learned a new ability, they decide on their own, which one they want to learn next. And it seems to be always the least useful, just something to increase the HP of the GFs. So, a bit of will seems to be still there.

Squall, Zell and Selphie are over this, and want to go home, so they ask for the contract. Rinoa shows it to Squall, but no one can read the (actually not that bad) legal jargon, so she grabs the more readable version from Cid. Seriously, these people are dumb, it's not that hard to read, at least the part they showed.

It's basically a memo from Cid, who promised the Night Owls, that the SeeDs are theirs, until Timber achieves independence. Even our heroes understand immediately, that this is absurd, and also really vague. Also, a small Cid is running around in the background, while we read the contract, and does stuff in double speed. It looks really goofy and funny.

And with that, we start the next part of the mission, where Rinoa is now part of the team. I take Selphie with us, leaving Zell behind, for now. And with that, I took a break.

---------------------------------------------

In case it isn't clear, I really enjoy my time with this game. It's so much better, than I remember it being.
 

4-So

Spicy
Indeed. FF8 is one of my favorites, and easily my favorite of the PSX generation, because it's so easy to "break". (A lot of my pleasure in any FF game is figuring out how to break the battle system.) The draw/junction system is 👨‍🍳💋.
 
For the record, I don't plan to abuse the Limit Breaks. If they appear, I will use them, but I will also heal my characters, and I certainly will not circle through everyone, to make a LB appear.
Living on a knife's edge is not the only way to get limit breaks. There is a spell in the game called "Aura" that when cast on a character, makes their limit break gauge skyrocket for a relatively long period of time. And you can just spam limits like crazy. You can get the spell many different ways, including modding cards/items, but there's a draw point on the world map as well. It's the best spell in the game imo, not just because it's OP to limit break on command, but because the stats it gives when you junction it is top-tier. I don't recommend farming/grinding spells, but this would be the exception.

Interesting, we have satellites, but for some reason, the aren't used to transmit information.
There are plot reasons for this that I really enjoy. The implications being that they *used* to use this tech, but then as a society turned it all off after the war. It's not ever really stated why IIRC, but reading between the lines, it's because the techno-marvel state that Galbadia used to fight had a revolution and became good, and the totalitarian Galbadia regime wanted to cut its population off from getting information from the good guys, so they abandoned radio communications in favor of land-lines that would be easier to make an information-bubble in. Not 100% positive on this, but that's my memory from 20 years ago.

On a side note, something I marvel at is what sticks in my brain and doesn't over the years. The small details of a lot of games I played 20 yrs ago are completely lost to the ether. But I consider it a testament to how good the game is that FF8 is one that I still remember very vividly. I love reading your playthru synopses, Felix. It's bringing back a lot of good memories. FF8 is the best!

You know, Squall does really make a lot of friends, without even trying. Quistis, Zell and Selphie are pretty nice and cool, even if Zell would get on my nerves relatively soon. But they all seem quite level-headed and competent, and seem to accept Squall, on the whole, for who he is. It feels a bit like a wish-fulfillment fantasy, having these people around you, who treat you like one of their friends, until you maybe want to join them.
IMO it's a little more than wish fulfillment. For some people it can totally be. But I see FF8 (and a lot of FFs) as games that try to talk to their primary target audience (young teenagers) in ways that are both relatable, but also instructive. There's a whole lot of young, dumb, angsty teens and pre-teens out there whose worst enemies are themselves. And FF8 as a game is basically a love letter to them that says look, I get you -- but it doesn't have to be this way either. There are people all around you that could provide you a lot of joy and love if you'd just let them into your lives. And to a certain extent that's pretty true, especially when you're a kid in a school setting where you're surrounded by peers and it's actually the easiest time in your life you'll ever have at making friends.


While I think, she forces her more on Squall than she should (he clearly doesn't care for her friendship, at least at the beginning), on the whole she seems very mature and competent. Like everyone else here, I really like her, at least what the game showed me of her, for now.
Quistis comes, and clearly tries to talk to him about something, with him being disinterested. So, does Quistis have a crush on Squall, at the start? I always read it that way, but by now, it feels like she is just hurt that he doesn't care for her, while he does for a stranger like Rinoa. Dunno, this also seems like coding for romantic jealousy, but this game has a lot of thought put into every aspect of it. So, it might be really just a person wanting to be friends with someone, who doesn't have the same feelings, platonic or romantic.
The scene, where Quistis tells Squall about her not being an instructor anymore, is pretty nice. I'm also a bit ashamed, that I couldn't help but laugh at Squalls "Then talk to a wall" line. It's just so cold, and makes clear that he doesn't get it. And, to a certain degree, I think he is even in his right. He has shown Quistis no sign of wanting to spend time with her. They aren't friends, so there isn't a reason for her to think, that he would be interested in her problems. The interest in a friendship (relationship?) is purely one-sided here, and especially with her being his teacher up to now, makes the whole situation even more off.
There are plot reasons for all of this too, that you may or may not remember about this game. As you posit, there are definitely romantic feelings here, but that really isn't all that's going on. Quistis, Zell, and Squall all grew up together as kids and were best friends. Quistis always had a crush on Squall, but it was always in that kind of anime-trope-y way where the childhood friend doesn't really know how to handle their emotions as a kid and they come off as a kind of mother-hen/big-sister figure that's always pestering their crush. Zell, Selphie, and Squall have all forgotten this, but Quistis is the only one who remembers. And it's just really a great part of her character that even though Squall has forgotten that they're friends, she still remembers and tries to support him and help him remember with the levels of patience and understanding that you'd only get from someone who just truly cares about you.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
There are plot reasons for this that I really enjoy. The implications being that they *used* to use this tech, but then as a society turned it all off after the war. It's not ever really stated why IIRC, but reading between the lines, it's because the techno-marvel state that Galbadia used to fight had a revolution and became good, and the totalitarian Galbadia regime wanted to cut its population off from getting information from the good guys, so they abandoned radio communications in favor of land-lines that would be easier to make an information-bubble in. Not 100% positive on this, but that's my memory from 20 years ago.
There's also the fact that Sorceress Adel, from her space prison, is using her magic to jam all radio frequencies with terrible oaths of revenge, and only the most powerful transmitters can overcome this.
 
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FelixSH

(He/Him)
I love reading your playthru synopses, Felix. It's bringing back a lot of good memories. FF8 is the best!
Thanks! I'm always happy, when I hear that people enjoy my giant posts here. Glad you like them.

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When I stopped last time, we just had failed to kidnap the president, and started a new plan - to be honest, I'm not sure what it is. Rinoa talked about making a speech on TV, but was that all? Did I miss something?

To finally get a bit perspective on the president, and how he is really a fashist, is that the writer of Anarchist Monthly, a magazine, was taken to prison. You know, in the end, we don't have too much information on anything. If it hadn't been for Timber, where we clearly learn about Galbadia being the aggressors, this would be a situation where we don't really know, if we are on the right side. Granted, dorky teenagers aren't trying to rebel against a government for nothing. But we only have their word, for how awful the president is. Even taking a writer away might have more behind it, than it seems. He might have been a criminal in another way, for all we know.

I know, Galbadia is the enemy and the president is the worst. Just saying, we could very well be on the wrong side of the conflict.

We need to reach the TV station, but trains aren't running, so we have to get there on foot. Which isn't that bad, it's still inside Timber. But Galbadian soldiers are looking for us, which means we have random encounters, while running through the streets. It's not a big deal, the enemy soldiers are really weak - or rather, we are really strong. I don't remember if I mentioned it, but even Rinoa, someone without any training, can easily pull her weight, if she is just using GFs. You seemingly don't even need to know how to junction, or it might be as easy in-game as outside. Or maybe Squall explains it. In any case, it seems like everyone can very easily, as long as they get their hands on a strong GF, be a horrible danger.

I'm sure we will learn more about GFs, but there seems to be a theme here, about how easily a random person become powerful, if they just have the wrong technology (say, a gun). Except that only we, the heroes, are using them. Dunno, maybe I will come back to this, if the game gives me more stuff to think about here.

We do get a bit of humanization again, for Galbadian soldiers. The captain, after briefing his men, tells them not to just harass regular citizens. His soldiers don't listen, which is a funny moment, but I like how the game tries to tell us, again and again, that we aren't fighting against an evil monolith. There are humans behind these uniforms, and some of them try their best to fulfull their orders, while trying to minimize the pain these orders cause.

The pet shop is open now, and the kid has his dog back. Well, that's good. I always loved how we can buy stuff for our GFs here, implying that they are, in the end, just pets. There is also a gift shop, that has nothing left to sell. The owner has drawn the worst map I have ever seen. Beautiful.

Oh, and I bought Pet Pals 3 and 4 in the shop. These magazines are the best, and I love the world building they add to the game (I think I'm repeating myself, but it's just so true). I especially love the magazine that talks about the ability for Angelo to give us invincibility (we aren't overpowered enough, already, you know) - "You know how the moon and your dog have some connection? Walk a lot with your dog, and he will learn to make you invincible!”

Rinoa also knows the people here, who are on her side. Actually, as we soon will learn, there are a ton of opposing groups in this city, most just inactive. Another clear indicator, that the Night Owls are on the right side. Unlike the other two times I played this game, I look around everywhere and talk to everyone, getting nice scenes like in the hotel. We can't stay, as soldiers are there, but the receptionist is totally on our side.

Timber Maniacs is interesting, as there is a guy inside, who we can ask about a few topics, and he will always go on forever. It's very nostalgic, about how little things were better in the earlier days. Squall hates it, adults complaining about things changing. I get him, but man, when he grows older, he will get that guy too. Even if he, hopefully, will not complain about it to random strangers.

Honestly, the whole world feels somewhat nostalgic. Maybe not for a distant past, but for the recent one, or even the present (if that makes sense). People know, that bad stuff is coming, and that things are getting worse in general. But it seems like they came from a time of calm (probably the time after the last war?). They seem to cling on to that peace and calm. This is probably something that we can all identify with, to a certain degree, especially at this point in time.

Anyway, back to the game. On our way to the TV station, we need to get through the pub, where we have to solve a light adventure puzzle. I mean, we automatically get the thing we need to give to a guy outside, due to a battle. These two soldiers stole a card from a sad guy here, and giving it back to him makes him move out of the way, so we can take the back exit.

There are also people in here, who talk about the negative fallout from the resistance actions. Rinoa steps in, telling them that it's Galbadias fault. And yeah, she is right. Still, we do have the whole theme again, of how resistance against a horrible government will lead to bad fallout (or even horrible one, like in the case of FF VII). And she isn't taking any responsibility for it. Which, to be fair, is absolutely in character - at this point, she is still a self-rightous teenager.

We soon get to the TV station now, and see a screen, while climbing the stairs. It's the static, that always seems to play in this world. And while the game never makes a big thing out of the fact, these people live in a world that has a certain technology, that simply can't be used. They once had TVs, I guess, and now they are worthless, because only creepy, random words appear on the screen. Sure, the game talks about how this is important for political stuff. But just imagine, if TV suddenly had stopped being usable in the 90s, it would have at least created a strong feeling of longing, and upset people. There are probably more implications, that I don't think about now, because my technical knowledge is too restricted.

But I remembered, from years ago, that someone on the internet took a look at the words. And I found something again, which seems to be true - you find the sentences, if you look for them:

I'm alive.
Bring me back there.
I'll never let you forget me.

I already played to the end of disc 1, and heard Edeas speech. With that knowledge, and knowing that this is coming from the witch on the moon, this might be creepy, but also reads like a strong anger due to sadness. If you are a witch, this world doesn't welcome you. I think the game never tells us more about the start of civilization, or whatever, when witches appeared. But knowing humans, witches were probably hunted, no matter if they were good or bad. And so, they turned against humanity.

This is just a guess, without much context. But these three sentences read like a lot of pain is in there, behind the anger and the threats.

At this point, Rinoa gets unsure again. But Squall and Selphie tell her, that they will do as she commands. I do let Squall speak his mind, though - he doesn't think that she is ready for this, that she can make her plan work. He criticizes her, bascially for being amaturish, that they actually ask for SeeD input. And yeah, he has a point. In the end, Rinoa uses him and his colleagues in dangerous situations, without having thought them through.

This might be harsh, but also fair, I think. Squall is responsible for the people under him, and with lacking plans, they might all die. But Rinoa also starts to learn. She knows now, that SeeDs alone aren't enough. But she also is seriouos, and runs away. Yeah, teenager stuff.

At this moment, Zell appears, and the screen actually starts to show a current broadcast. It worked. The first live broadcast in 17 years.

President Deling starts (we learn, that he is livelong president - yeah, sure buddy, definitely not a dictator). He wants to introduce a sorceress as an ambassador for peace, when Seifer storms in, taking him hostage. Quistis also appears, and calls us for help.

I was always confused by her being with Seifer. She is clearly mad about the same thing as he is, but she clearly also doesn't want him to take anyone hostage. Is she just following him, so she can try to deescalate the situation? A bit more on this later, when she actually talks about what happened.

We are soon there, and try to help Quistis make the situation better, but it doesn't really work. Through Zell, the president learns that we are from Balamb Garden. He is, of couse, a pompous jerk, and just threatens us, with an attack, if anything happens to us.

Seifer doesn't care, and drags the president backstage. Where Edea appears.

And we immediately see her power. A forcefield blocks the rest from getting hear her, but she does get to Seifer. She calls him "poor, poor boy", and basically seems to offer him a place, where he is treated well, where he is welcome, where someone will take care of him. I mean, considering that she also tells him to say goodbye to his childhood, that read seems questionable, but it was the vibe I got from it.

Like, Seifer has this dream that he follows, but he is also clearly unhappy. No one seems to understand him, no one seems to appreciate him and his capabilities. So he lashes out, and gets punished for it (by failing the exam, for example). And, it seems to me, Edea offers him a home, something he doesn't have. A place of comfort and belonging.

Again, this read might be wrong, but it's what it feels to me.

And he follows her. He let's go of Deling, and gets teleported away.

Just a short mention: Every time, at least on disc 1, when Edea is there, the music is amazing (it always reminds me of the tune for the Calcobrena fight, in FF IV). The mood is also really good.

-----------------------------------

I have played much further, but my head hurts (got my third Covid shot yesterday, and just feel lightly ill. Nothing major, but concentrating for too long is hard. So, I'll stop for now, and continue later.
 
Seifer is not inherently a bad person. There's a lot going on with him. He has a lot of ambition and romantic ideas about being a hero, but also has bully tendencies in order to deal with his issues. If I had to make a comp, he reminds me a lot of Bakugo in My Hero Academia. The difference there being that Seifer doesn't quite have the supporting cast around him that Bakugo does to keep him on the straight and narrow with regards to strong mentor figures, good natured rivals/friends, and loving/supporting parents. Seifer is out trying to prove himself after having his life's dreams go up in smoke, and Edea shows up to offer him everything he's dreamed off. It's a great hook for a villain/rival figure. There's a bit later in the game after this event where Squall ruminates on the idea that Seifer was this person who he didn't really know and had facets to him that he didn't really see because he was just a bully in his head, and now he's dead and he has regrets. It's a low key big moment for Squall IMO, as he matures as a character and starts trying to see people for the multifaceted human beings that they are rather than have a selfish worldview that only sees other people as glorified NPCs.

Re: the SeeD kids working for Rinoa despite all circumstances saying it's a silly setup -- love this aspect of FF8. It's something that makes no sense as it's happening, and as a player you share Squall's frustrations - both with Rinoa & Co for being amateurs in over their heads, as well with the Balamb Garden staff who ok'd this dumb mission. However, it's one of those little details that really reflects on the whole themes and ethos of FF8. The mission is getting OK'd not because your team is being hung out to dry, but because Cid knows this is his best chance to either take out/get back his wife. And he knows Squall & Co will be able to handle the job because Edea knows SeeD will save the day one day and that Squall specifically will run point. There's a lot of really neat convergences of carefully planned out story bits in FF8, and FF8 even has the grace to be subtle about it rather than rubbing the player's face in it as well. It's very good stuff.

There's also the fact that Sorceress Adel, from her space prison, is using her magic to jam all radio frequencies with terrible oaths of revenge, and only the most powerful transmitters can overcome this.
Man, FF8 is the friggin' best
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Oh, I remember the orphanage twist, and that Edea is actually their surrogate mother, together with Cid, and just assume that Cid just tries to set everything up, so that Squall and the people assigned to him will save Edea. Well, the last part is an educated guess, but yeah, there are good reasons for what is happening.

On the whole, I feel like, very similar to FF V, the story, world and characters are heavily overshadowed by the systems of the game. Everyone talks about the systems, loving or hating it, and maybe mention the orphanage twist, but no one mentions how well done the development of Squall as a leader is, and how you can find all kinds of details for the characters, if you just explore the world. I mean, the systems are great, just for existing in this abundance, but this seems to be the most realized world, if you go in chronological order at least. There are, in general, a lot of parallels to V, which shouldn't be surprising at all.

I guess it is obvious, but with regards to character development, there is a lot of II in this as well. Not in the way you have to play to develop your group, but in how much freedom you have in the way they will go. In that sense, it feels like a combination of II and VII, where you can really finetune all the stats and abilities of every character to your liking, but always can switch things up as you want, similar to how you could swap skills with the materia system.

You know, one thing I don't get is the complaint about how you can't use magic, because they are bound to your stats. I mean, sure, your stats will go down, but only slowly. Yeah, Squall might have 50 HP less, after I cast Curaga, but he still has over 2000. Doesn't matter. And it probably won't even lower my strength, if I cast a fire spell. If you aren't min-maxing, you can freely use your spells, your stats won't go down that much. And even if they are, you can just draw from the enemies here and cast their spells. They are basically free. Just use one round for your mage, get 9 spells of Fira, and blast the other monster, or something. Or just stock up on material to transform into spells.

Honestly, the many ways how you can get spells in this game seem like a very intentional way of making it so that you don't have to worry about your spells. You don't need to worry about running out of MP, a limited ressource. Just get more. It's not quite that easy, but every enemy provides you with more charges.

Anyway, back to the story.

-------------------------------------------

When I stopped writing, we lost Seifer to Edea. And assume that he died, which is probably a sensible thing to assume, considering that he just could have killed her business partner.

Rinoa actually appears, and asks us, running away again, due to her emotions being in turmoil now. She and Quistis are waiting outside, where we also learn that her hideout has been destroyed. Showing some actual competency, Rinoa isn't without a plan here, and leads us to a woman we can meet earlier, who lets us use the upper level window, to get a look outside, if we want. She is a leader of another resistance group, one of many in this city, the Forest Fox.

I really like, how the whole city is at least sort of fighting the occupying force, even if it's a slow fight. At least, Rinoa is not alone in her quest. It also makes more believable, that we actually are on the right side, and are at least fighting for something worthwhile.

Selphie asks what I was thinking: Why Seifer even came here. I actually was pleasantly surprised, that the game didn't really expect me to just understand what happened, back at the TV station, and offered some explanation, here and later on too. Here, we also learn what the game suggests, that Rinoa and Seifer know each other, and have spent some time together. We also get some info from Quistis, that Seifer was actually mad about rookie SeeDs getting sent on such a dangerous mission.

Which shows Seifer in a new light. That he isn't just a jerk became clear, when he gave us applaus for passing the exam, and if you are a bit careful, it gets clear that there is quite a bit of respect for Squall (and vice versa), and both are just too boneheaded to actually show it without fighting, because that is the only language they know. I guess we have a commentary about toxic masculinity here.

Point is, Seifer wanted to help us. And I assume that Quistis, aside from trying to keep things under control, probably felt similar to him. Because, seriously, this is dangerous. Squall and his team are rookies, they could have died. I get Seifers anger, and appreciate it, even if he goes about it in a bad way.

Squall still doesn't think much about other peoples feelings, and just says what he thinks happened - that Seifer died. Rinoa calls him a meany for it. And I think we already get a more mature Squall here, as he actually apologizes. If nothing else, he seems to care for Rinoa at this point, and maybe just doesn't get it, but acts if pointed in the right direction.

As we can't get back to Balamb, the rule is to go to the nearest Garden, which is the one from Galbadia. We get the info how to get there from a Zone, who is dressed as an old man. I do find it interesting, that you actually have to remember these directions yourself, and I think, when you are in the train, you have no way of getting anyone to tell you again. Certainly not after the ride. Which could be a problem, if you hadn't been careful to listen (how I probably was, during my first two playthroughs). In the end, you are just dumped on the overworld, and while you don't have to walk far, there seems to be a lot of space for you to explore.

I was surprised, that we were going to Galbadia Garden, considering that we have now fought against Galbadia two times. But it seems like, for now at least, the Gardens are not bound by any conflicts of the countries they are in, so we are supposed to be save there. I guess after disc 1, that changes, at least for the Galbadia Garden.

To get to the Garden, we have to pass some woods, where we get the second flashback.

Oh, before they get unconscious, we learn that Zell actually feels bad, for telling Deling where we are from, and that he fears that Balamb Garden will be attacked, due to his big mouth. Which is an important point for Zell, I think. He might act too fast, but he does have a mind for the responsibility he is carrying. He isn't an airhead, as I always thought of him, at least not completely.

Squall just tells him how it is, that the Garden might be attacked, and that it might lose. Which Rinoa calls him out on, this is bad leadership. I agree - he doesn't need to lie here, but maybe at least bend the truth a bit? Make his comrade feel better? He will learn this, with time, though. He just didn't get that he is the leader now, where he has to actually take care of the people under him.

The flashback starts funny, with Laguna is a dork again, not realizing that they are at the point where they are supposed to be.

Elsewise, I wasn't a fan of this. It's mostly dungeon crawling, through a boring cave. I did like that we could set of some traps, and this created some nice dialogues, but on the whole, I wished I had already gotten Enc-None, to make this part go by faster. I also think I messed up, by blowing the wrong thing up first. Oh, well.

The flashback ends at a cliff, a dead end, where we are implied to fight a bunch of enemy soldiers, until Kiros and Ward are nearly dead. There are boats waiting, so Laguna throws them off, hoping for the best. And we get another pretty funny moment, when Laguna tries to jump, but loses his balance, and falls down. I mean, I guess he could die, but it's certainly played for comedy.

After this, we wake up, and Rinoa apologizes. She and Squall are getting there, slowly.

At the Garden, Quistis leaves for a bit, to introduce us to the headmaster here. They know each other. The Garden on a whole seems like it is sports themed. The faculty staff (I guess that's what they are) look like sports coaches, and the students all wear tracking suits.

We wait in a room, Quistis soon appears, and tells us that the Garden understands our situation. I liked, how she explicitely took the time to tell Zell, specifically, that there will be no attack on Balamb Garden, as it was seen as an independant action. It is too short to actually call an arc, but I really like how Zell realized he made a mistake, and was shaken by it, and that Quistis made sure to take note of it.

But what we also learn is that Seifer would take all the blame, and has been executed. Which gives us a great scene - or, rather, a moment of shock for everyone. We can talk to the others - no one liked Seifer, but it's obvious that no one wanted him to die. The only one who liked him was Rinoa, who thought pretty highly of him. They spent last summer together, and she had a crush on him.

It's pretty well done. I like, how the game actually gives Seifers death the gravitas it deserves, shows the reaction of the people who knew him. And not having it be a sympathetic character, but one where people had complicated feelings for.

Squalls reaction is pretty interesting. He sees people think of Seifer already as a memory, as something from the past, that people make into whatever they want to see in him. With no way for the dead person to do anything about it. This all goes on inside his head, until he screams "I won't have it!" The others, obviously, think he has gone a bit mad. Which probably isn't helped, when he screams that he won't have anyone talk about him in the past tense, before running out of the room.

I'm still not sure, if I get Squall here. I mean, it is clear that he sees Seifer as an equal, in some way. He knows, that they are way more similar than he would like. If people talk about Seifer that way, they will probably do say after his death, too.

And the idea is interesting - after your death, you stop being a person, and all that's left of you are memories. And people will make you into what they think of you, more or less completely out of your control. If one would be very cynical, one could argue that the dead person becomes a tool, used for the emotion of the one who remembers him.

Is that what Squall is upset about? That he doesn't want to be this kind of tool? That he will stop being able to make sure that people see him, the way he wants them to see him? It would fit, considering that he is a teenager, who wants to make sure that everyone know, how competent and unbreakable he is, that he has no emotions to make him weak.

The others leave him to his grieve, and do theirs on their own. Zell seemed to show his grieve, by running around too much, as he is already punished by the instructors, when we go downstairs, by having to do pushups.

I did play a bit of Triple Triad, but used savestates to make sure that the Random rule wouldn't spread. I honestly don't even understand what was happening. I think I spread the random rule, but don't understand how, as I had never used it before getting here. Anyway, I made sure that another rule was spread (I think plus?). Which makes the game already complecated enough, with the possibility of combos.

When continuing, I met Fuujin and Raijin, who brought new orders from Cid. We don't know the orders yet, as they were brought to the headmaster. They ask, of course, about Seifer (I really like, that he has found two friends who really care for him), and Squall gives it straight to them - he is dead. Which they don't believe, so they ignore everything else, and go looking for him.

There isn't much to find, but apparently, they have a hockey team here, and theirs will soon play against a team of monsters. Uh, ok? I'd really like to see this monster team. Can't help but think of the Monstars from Space Jam, hehe.

Outside of the Garden, we wait for the headmaster, to get new orders. Rinoa does a fun bit, where she acts like a SeeD, and always looks to the others for how she is supposed to move.

Headmaster Martine briefs us, about the sorceress, galbadians peace ambassador, who doesn't want peace, only working with threats and fear. She also wants to use this Garden as her base, with the goal of world domination.

More on this later, but I really like how Edea is built up as this extremely dangerous enemy, who, despite her magic, doesn't just set everything ablaze, or something. No, she tries to reach her goal through politics. There is a clear implication here: She is smart.

This is an assassination mission. Due to not having a sniper, we get Irvine assigned to us, a student from this Garden. So, yeah, there is another very important mission, very dangerous, and again, a bunch of rookies are supposed to do it. Our goal is Deling City, where General Caraway will tell us more about the details of the operation.

As Rinoa is on the run, and Balamb is out of reach, she will stay with us. I guess that is actually he best bet, even though we are on a dangerous mission. That said, I would guess she might be able to stay in the garden, in we just asked Martine, and explained the situation. But then, Rinoa wants to keep fighting.

I don't remember anything about Irvine, except that I never cared for him, because gun users are always inherently less interesting to me, as party members. Don't care much for guns. And he is a womanizer, which, ugh. Thankfully, the game very soon acknowledges that him flirting with Selphie and Rinoa is not ok, and Quistis tells him, in clear terms, to stop this nonsense at once.

I know, I'm repeating myself, but Quistis is great. Love how she doesn't take shit like this

We also get some whining from Irvine, how he is so poor as this lonely sharpshooter, so why can't he just have some fun, and I'm not putting this guy into my party, if I can avoid it.

I mean, I do like the bit about a sharpshooter having to really focus on this one moment, where he is completely alone with all this responsibility. It is great, and it is believable. I'll get back to this a bit later, when he shoots Edea. The rest of him? Is there more to him, I don't remember.

This seems to be the point, where the regular story starts, and we are near the end of disc 1. Honestly, the slow start of this game is fascinating. FF games are really good at starting you with a strong hook, with VII being the strongest, just throwing you into the story and the action from the word Go. This is a big exception, at least for now, and especially in contrast with IV, VI and VII.

I do really enjoy it, though. I'm a fan of slow starts, where we can get accustomed to the world, before everything goes up in flames. I understand that VII starts very strong, but I definitely prefer this here (see also: me loving the start of Twilight Princess).

It is, generally, a very slow game. Yeah, we had a bit of stuff happening, and some missions to do. But there was also a lot of downtime, and just character and world building. Really crazy, that such a big, high budget game, took such a risk.

Soon, we are in Deling. It's a labyrinth. I think at the end, I got the hang of it, but there are a lot of screens, and how they are connected isn't that easy to find out. Well, it's not hard, but you have to put a bit of work into it. Thankfully, if you just want to find the general, a bus guy near the start tells us to take this bus, and we will get there.

By the way, this city looks great. Love how it is night here. and how it feels like a big city, but has no skyscrapers and giant parks. It's great.

Before we can meet the general, we have to prove our worth, by getting to some ruins, get an ID number from the entrance, and get back here.

This could be considered pure filler. But, if you don't want to deal with it, you can just rent a car, go two screens in, and get back. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes, with no random encounters. So, no big deal.

But I think this is more the way of this game of telling us, that this is a world full of secrets. That we should look around, side-dungeons might be waiting for us. It's the games way of showing us, that it has sidequests.

I, of course, searched through the ruins. I did buy the thing that marked my position on the map, which made everything very easy. These ruins have the most adorable slimes ever, they are so cute! Feel like a 3D version of the ones from FF II.

After going to the two dead ends first, I find the first Minotaur (a reference to the brothers in FF V, of course). It's an easy fight, especially if you learn through scan, that they get their power through the earth. So, float is useful, and can be easily found here. Also, you can draw Life from him. After being a bit beaten up, he runs away. Coward.

There is some light puzzling, until we reach the center, where we find him again. He summons his big bro, who is adorably small, and we have to fight both at once. I love the name of their strongest attack - Mad Cow Special.

Someone had a few Tornado spells on themselves, I think Zell. Who wasn't skilled for magic, and still did nearly 1000 damage to both. Quistis had been beaten down a bit, by the enocunters here, so she actually could use a limit break. Aqua Breath is super powerful, you guys. Did around 1600 damage. I mean, she was a bit skilled for magic, but still, that's absurd.

After beating the brothers, we get them as GFs, and the coffin behind them opens. The soul of the knoight in there is freed, finally. Uh, ok, sure.

At this point, Ifrit learned Mad Rush, which seemed pretty great for a second, before I realized that the whole party would be berzerked. Which, uh, not great.

Summoning the brothers is great, the first really goofy summon of the game. It's really fun to watch them play stone-paper-scissors, and the bigger getting catapulted in the air, streams of tears flowing out of his eyes. Beautiful. As mentioned before, this game ahas a great sense of humor.

Did I mention, that we are bascially helping a guy from the military carry out a coup. My thoughts bring me immediately to the show Babylon 5. I mean, we sort-of did this already with Rinoa, but not on this giant scale. I mean, the sorceress is dangerous, but this is really big, and a few numbers too big for rookies. Cid really has a lot of trust and hope, I guess.

Inside the mansion of the general, Rinoa mentions, as a sidenote "Oh, by the way, this is my house, and THAT MAN is my father." Well, that's a surprise. The general lets us wait, so she will go to complain. But he comes back alone. Sensibly, he wants her to stay out of this, as she has no military training. Like, yeah, totally right, and this would be the sensible part for her to leave us.

At this point, we learn that the sorceress is called Edea, which reminds Squall of...something. There will be a talk, then a parade, and we are supposed to shoot Edea during said parade. If that fails, we will attack her directly. Ideally, that won't be necessary, as no one should see us. But killing her is, according to the general, essential.

One last time, we are allowed to do whatever we want, before we start the mission.

Right, the leader is supposed to attack Edea, if the shooting fails. And here, everyone suggests Squall as the leader, which he accepts.

--------------------------------------------------------

There is still a bit more, but this post is already long enough. I need to start writing them more often, so that they don't get so absurdly long.
 
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I'm still not sure, if I get Squall here. I mean, it is clear that he sees Seifer as an equal, in some way. He knows, that they are way more similar than he would like. If people talk about Seifer that way, they will probably do say after his death, too.

And the idea is interesting - after your death, you stop being a person, and all that's left of you are memories. And people will make you into what they think of you, more or less completely out of your control. If one would be very cynical, one could argue that the dead person becomes a tool, used for the emotion of the one who remembers him.

Is that what Squall is upset about? That he doesn't want to be this kind of tool? That he will stop being able to make sure that people see him, the way he wants them to see him? It would fit, considering that he is a teenager, who wants to make sure that everyone know, how competent and unbreakable he is, that he has no emotions to make him weak.
The way I read things, Squall is just really upset dealing with a lot of complicated emotions and grief in his own way. This might be the first time he's ever really hard to confront death (that he remembers) and thus really ponder his own mortality. Having lived the life of a teenager who dealt with a lot of premature deaths in their life, it felt very true to life the way he reacted and handled the situation. Which is to say, not very well.

We also get some whining from Irvine, how he is so poor as this lonely sharpshooter, so why can't he just have some fun, and I'm not putting this guy into my party, if I can avoid it.

I mean, I do like the bit about a sharpshooter having to really focus on this one moment, where he is completely alone with all this responsibility. It is great, and it is believable. I'll get back to this a bit later, when he shoots Edea. The rest of him? Is there more to him, I don't remember.
I like Irvine a lot. Yeah, he comes across as a creeper sleazebag at first, you definitely aren't supposed to like or approve of him at first I think. But after a while it becomes clear IIRC that it's all a façade to paper over his insecurities. Which is not really an excuse or anything, but it makes what he does more understandable and paves the way for some real character growth down the line where he learns to be a bit more open and vulnerable with himself and his feelings and thus can begin to act a bit more mature and responsible in time. The kill shot is a fantastic moment in the game. Especially given Irvine's memories are all much more intact versus everyone else's. He still remembers that Edea is basically his mom, and that he essentially buckles under the pressure of having to murder his own mother is a low key powerful moment when you realize it, because it shows the guy has a lot going on up in his noggin than simply being a mindless horny bastard.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Honestly, the many ways how you can get spells in this game seem like a very intentional way of making it so that you don't have to worry about your spells. You don't need to worry about running out of MP, a limited ressource. Just get more. It's not quite that easy, but every enemy provides you with more charges.
Why did it take me until just now to realize that this is something that Chrono Cross and FF8 have in common?
 

nosimpleway

(he/him)
Been out of town and not checking the thread for a while. Lot to catch up on even though you're only through Disc 1, huh.

but from:
Squall AND Seifer, both are just really dumb teens, at the start of the game.
There would be a lot to uncover here, how she deals with the immense pressure, and probably the dissappointment of everyone, when they decide that she isn't material for an instructor. While I think, she forces her more on Squall than she should (he clearly doesn't care for her friendship, at least at the beginning), on the whole she seems very mature and competent.
through:
Like, Seifer has this dream that he follows, but he is also clearly unhappy.
to:
I like Irvine a lot. Yeah, he comes across as a creeper sleazebag at first, you definitely aren't supposed to like or approve of him at first I think. But after a while it becomes clear IIRC that it's all a façade to paper over his insecurities.
This is the Evangelion of Final Fantasy. By which I mean: very nearly all of your questions about character motivations and reasoning boils down to "every person in the cast, everyone, is so deeply traumatized by something that they are incapable of dealing with their thoughts and emotions in any reasonable manner whatsoever." Throw in the memory loss and these people don't even remember what it is that traumatized them into acting like they do in the first place.

such as
Quistis comes, and clearly tries to talk to him about something, with him being disinterested. So, does Quistis have a crush on Squall, at the start?
Much later on Quistis has a bit of a monologue where she talks about how her feelings for Squall were a poor way of dealing with her trauma and memory loss.

Is there a reason not to mod every non-unique card you get? Because that is sort-of what I already did. Can always win them back. And the unique cards are pretty good.
There's barely a reason not to mod all the unique cards, too. You're better served playing the game by getting some of the items off of those uniques instead of using them as cards, especially after you get more than five of the top-tier ones to make a deck.

But yeah mod it all, mod it all away

I have never heard of these non-junctioning GFs. Well, while I don't care much about getting all the cards, I certainly do about getting all the junctionable GFs (and Odin
Odin is one of them! His replacement if you get him before certain story event is another. Phoenix is summoned via an item then shows up randomly whenever it feels like it. Then Moogle, Moomba, and Chocobo are all GFs that you can only get if you have a Pocketstation, which is the bit of hardware that's been off the market for 20 years I mentioned.

Anyway, to go back to the story, Squall behaves at parties like I do (and, just for the record, I really love how these dress uniforms look). Out of sight, away from the croud, waiting for it to be over.
If this party had a kitchen and a dog Squall would be in the kitchen, petting the dog.

You know, Squall does really make a lot of friends, without even trying.
It is a fantasy game after all.

Squall seems to actually crush a bit on her too, afterwards, as he looks after her, when she walks to her friends(?).
18-year-old sees pretty girl, pretty girl walks away, 18-year-old's boner goes "wait hold on I thought we were doing something here"

"Then talk to a wall" line. It's just so cold, and makes clear that he doesn't get it.
Oh, you'll love the ironic callback to this later.

Also, that boss dropped 16 Wizard Stones, which can be turned to level 5 level 3 elemental spells, each. Which, uh, this is absurd. Is the game begging to be broken?
Yes. I for one would have loved to see how Sky Render's "let's crack this bad boy open" LP would have gone had Real Life Issues not struck.

By the way, I always ask everyone, if they want to play TT. Which makes me think of grim-looking Squall, who is normally a total loner, becoming super social, because he is addicted to this game.
That's... that's actually pretty good, imo. Squall has found an outlet to get the social interaction he is in such utter denial that he so desperately wants!

She really opens up to the whole school (even if no one reads this), which is like proto-social media. This is way ahead of its time.
Facebook didn't exist yet and that cursed word "blog" was still a few years off but people were using web journals and stuff like that. Hell, back when it was still topical to base jokes on this game I had a "Magic 8-Squall" script on my own mostly-personal-journal where you could ask questions and the Squall in the black orb (Squall orb, or Squorb) would give you answers like "I don't care" or "It's your problem, not mine" or, yes, "Go talk to a wall."

Squalls was actually somewhat weak, I found, especially to the ten hits Zell could do, or the triple cast of Selphie.
Against special enemies (most bosses IIRC) Renzokuken has a particular timing setup with a particular number of hits available.

Zell, though, Zell is the combat-trivializer.
You never need to use any of his advanced techniques. After you do Punch Rush, then Booya (??? the headbutt move, whatever dumb name they gave it) becomes available next. And once you headbutt, you can Punch Rush again. One input is, like, X -> O, and the other is Up -> Down. They take about a third of a second to input because they're only two buttons and there's no losing track of which two buttons they are. Just use those two, back and forth, and by the time his clock runs out Zell can outdamage everyone else short of, like, abusing Rinoa's lategame Limit unlock... particularly if you give Zell a STR-J.

In the room, after Laguna calmed down, we learn about him and Julia. That he doesn't like to fight, but loves the traveling. That she not only wants to play the piano, but also wants to write lyrics, and that Laguna inspires her.
Laguna is Squall's opposite just as much as Seifer is. Laguna is loud and obnoxious, utterly without guile, and succeeds to a station of power and influence without even trying... but like Squall, makes friends effortlessly in spite of everything.

And, honestly, Laguna is the dork that Squall would be too, if he let himself.
This is a 100% perfect character summary and I love it.

Finally at Timber, I actually tell the real password. Looking at a let's play, I regret that, because the alternative is, again, really funny.
"You didn't give the right password, but it's not like that marks you as any less competent than we are, so let's go ahead."

They are not as silly and unprofessional, as the game might suggest.
A running joke that's easy to miss is that despite her bubbly personality and cheerful outlook Selphie is the first to suggest horrific or violent solutions to her problems. Thinking specifically about later on where you're in a jam and Selphie's just like "Well hey, there's this sapient but bestial creature here, let's skin it and wear its fur as a disguise." She knows the thing can understand her. It's standing right there. Selphie don't care.

Surprise, the princess is Rinoa, who seems to have gotten a bit of a crush on Seifer? Dunno, I guess I'm bad at reading this stuff, I also thought she had firted with Squall, at the party.
Rinoa's got a type, and as you've observed, Squall and Seifer are mirror opposites.

An interesting detail: When a GF has learned a new ability, they decide on their own, which one they want to learn next. And it seems to be always the least useful, just something to increase the HP of the GFs. So, a bit of will seems to be still there.
Your GFs really, really want to be summoned and Boosted for whatever reason.

Squall, Zell and Selphie are over this, and want to go home, so they ask for the contract. Rinoa shows it to Squall, but no one can read the (actually not that bad) legal jargon, so she grabs the more readable version from Cid. Seriously, these people are dumb, it's not that hard to read, at least the part they showed.
You'd think there'd be at least one "parse legal boilerplate" language class on the way to becoming a SeeD.

So we'll be talking about TT on TT? I feel like that could get confusing.
What we really need is a summary of Triple Triad from Talking Time to make it to a Toastyfrog Thumbnail Theatre. A TT TT TTT, if you will.

When I stopped last time, we just had failed to kidnap the president, and started a new plan - to be honest, I'm not sure what it is. Rinoa talked about making a speech on TV, but was that all? Did I miss something?
Nope! You've officially given this plan more thought than Rinoa has.

(The plan in its entirety is "If the TV station is running and people are watching then lots of people will hear us when we say Timber is independent of Galbadia".)

I'm sure we will learn more about GFs, but there seems to be a theme here, about how easily a random person become powerful, if they just have the wrong technology (say, a gun). Except that only we, the heroes, are using them. Dunno, maybe I will come back to this, if the game gives me more stuff to think about here.
Nobody else wants to use GFs because of the memory-hole issues. Balamb Garden is the only place on the planet who considers the costs worth it.

("Here you go, Rinoa, if you want to be on our team you'll have to get buddy-buddy with this savage elemental spirit that lives in your brain and takes up the room formerly held by your most precious childhood memories." "Sure OK, I already have a pet but whatever helps me kick Galbadian butt.")

Through Zell, the president learns that we are from Balamb Garden. He is, of couse, a pompous jerk, and just threatens us, with an attack, if anything happens to us.
We wait in a room, Quistis soon appears, and tells us that the Garden understands our situation. I liked, how she explicitely took the time to tell Zell, specifically, that there will be no attack on Balamb Garden, as it was seen as an independant action.
Remember this bit when you're running around inside a missile launch base later on.

Honestly, the many ways how you can get spells in this game seem like a very intentional way of making it so that you don't have to worry about your spells. You don't need to worry about running out of MP, a limited ressource. Just get more. It's not quite that easy, but every enemy provides you with more charges.
There's a certain kind of player who needs every number to be as high as possible at all times. For this, a stat at 254 is worthless when it could be 255. These are among the people who are very vocal about how much they hate FF8.

But it seems like, for now at least, the Gardens are not bound by any conflicts of the countries they are in, so we are supposed to be save there. I guess after disc 1, that changes, at least for the Galbadia Garden.
IIRC Gardens are sort of independent city-states on the political scene. This one is located in Galbadia but doesn't answer to the Galbadian government or President Deling. That Edea as Galbadian ambassador wants to use Galbadia Garden as a command base, and give direct orders to the army of soldiers there, is a very bad thing.

Elsewise, I wasn't a fan of this. It's mostly dungeon crawling, through a boring cave.
"Oh, you want the really good items and spells when you explore this same passage 20 years from now in game time and like 10 hours from now IRL? Your actions here matter, but not in any ways that are intuitive. Buy the strategy guide, only $19.99 at your local GameStop!"

Squalls reaction is pretty interesting.
*brood*
*brood*
*brood*
*brood*
*brood*
"NO ONE WILL TALK ABOUT ME LIKE I'M SOME KIND OF MEMORY!!!"
*runs out of the room*

Everyone else, off-camera because you still control Squall: what the actual fuck was that about

There isn't much to find, but apparently, they have a hockey team here, and theirs will soon play against a team of monsters. Uh, ok? I'd really like to see this monster team.
You'll see 'em later, no problem.

This could be considered pure filler.
Even in-game I'm pretty sure the party goes "This is a waste of time, why are we doing this for some random mook in our way"

but this is really big, and a few numbers too big for rookies. Cid really has a lot of trust and hope, I guess.
Cid has not been a part of the proceedings since you left Balamb for Timber. I'm pretty sure he's completely locked out of the loop here. Nobody you're talking to has picked up the phone to ask if it's okay that they're gonna borrow his child soldiers to overthrow a government official or anything. He probably thinks Squall and co. are still in Timber doing unimportant but ultimately not terribly dangerous missions for the Owls.

(Later on someone points out that no one knew what to do about the Sorceress ascending to power until you guys showed up, and could be conveniently used and discarded with plausible deniability if things gang agley.)

Inside the mansion of the general, Rinoa mentions, as a sidenote "Oh, by the way, this is my house, and THAT MAN is my father." Well, that's a surprise. The general lets us wait, so she will go to complain. But he comes back alone. Sensibly, he wants her to stay out of this, as she has no military training.
Gotta split up the party for the big end of Disc 1 finale.
 
This is the Evangelion of Final Fantasy. By which I mean: very nearly all of your questions about character motivations and reasoning boils down to "every person in the cast, everyone, is so deeply traumatized by something that they are incapable of dealing with their thoughts and emotions in any reasonable manner whatsoever." Throw in the memory loss and these people don't even remember what it is that traumatized them into acting like they do in the first place.
Hard disagree. It might start out as much, but if anything FF8 is like an anti-Evangelion. Shinji & Co are so traumatized and so socially stunted that it causes the end of the world. On the other hand, Squall & Co all experience immense growth and maturity during their story, and build up the strength to save the world as a result. The actual Evangelion of Final Fantasy is Xenogears. Evangelion is the story about falling into a depression spiral. FF8 is the story of clawing your way out of one.
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
After this, we wake up, and Rinoa apologizes. She and Squall are getting there, slowly.
I really love Rinoa's dynamic with Squall and how it changes over the course of the story. I don't want to say too much, but I think it's great that she completely (but understandably) misinterprets him as a stoic, man-of-few-words type, and calls him out for being rude, only to recognize he's got a lot more going on than it seemed, and her interactions change accordingly.

The way I read things, Squall is just really upset dealing with a lot of complicated emotions and grief in his own way. This might be the first time he's ever really hard to confront death (that he remembers) and thus really ponder his own mortality. Having lived the life of a teenager who dealt with a lot of premature deaths in their life, it felt very true to life the way he reacted and handled the situation. Which is to say, not very well.
To add onto this, Squall is someone who has a lot of difficulty putting his thoughts into words— not just in vocalizing them to others, but even just mulling them over in his head. So that his thoughts about Seifer's death are a bit muddled and confused (and confusing) seems to be, I think, part of the point; he really doesn't know how to handle it.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Another week already, huh? Time is just flying by, I tell you.

I like Irvine a lot. Yeah, he comes across as a creeper sleazebag at first, you definitely aren't supposed to like or approve of him at first I think. But after a while it becomes clear IIRC that it's all a façade to paper over his insecurities. Which is not really an excuse or anything, but it makes what he does more understandable and paves the way for some real character growth down the line where he learns to be a bit more open and vulnerable with himself and his feelings and thus can begin to act a bit more mature and responsible in time. The kill shot is a fantastic moment in the game. Especially given Irvine's memories are all much more intact versus everyone else's. He still remembers that Edea is basically his mom, and that he essentially buckles under the pressure of having to murder his own mother is a low key powerful moment when you realize it, because it shows the guy has a lot going on up in his noggin than simply being a mindless horny bastard.

To be clear, I will at least try to give every character a chance, and take a look at how they are developing. My memory tells me that he is pretty much a non-entity, after shooting Edea, but I my memory is extremely spotty, especially after Disc 1. So, I'm looking forward to learn more about him.

The kill shot IS a great moment. Partly, it's the whole work and setup, the emotional drama for Irvine, and then it was completely useless, because Edea was ahead of us. But it alone gives Irvine a lot more depth, just by showing us how lonely he is, up to this point. He needs someone like Squall, a leader and friend, who helps him with his job.

You know, I have thought a lot about how the idea of "I did it all on my own" is one of the worst and dumbest lies a person can tell, or even believe. People thrive by getting help and support. We grow by being given chances, often by pure luck, and people who look a bit further than some numbers about us. This is the basis of how human society works, and it is probably the most important theme of the game - let's work together, let's help each other, let's allow other people to help us. That's why I get angry at people, when someone complains about something, clearly just needs someone to listen and really see you, and people are just "your problem is dumb".

I'm not perfect in that regard, far from it, but I think it's important to remember and try.

There's barely a reason not to mod all the unique cards, too. You're better served playing the game by getting some of the items off of those uniques instead of using them as cards, especially after you get more than five of the top-tier ones to make a deck.

But yeah mod it all, mod it all away
I can't give away unique things. Maybe I can get there, but this is a really hard thing for me to break out of, even knowing that I likely won't get all the cards. Anyway, thanks for the info, will mod everything to pieces, thanks.

A running joke that's easy to miss is that despite her bubbly personality and cheerful outlook Selphie is the first to suggest horrific or violent solutions to her problems. Thinking specifically about later on where you're in a jam and Selphie's just like "Well hey, there's this sapient but bestial creature here, let's skin it and wear its fur as a disguise." She knows the thing can understand her. It's standing right there. Selphie don't care.
I just read over the first one, where she assumed the Night Owls planned to shoot a rocket into the train, or something. But when she suggested to skin that lion thing, I was...perplexed.

Selphie is awesome, I love her.

You'd think there'd be at least one "parse legal boilerplate" language class on the way to becoming a SeeD.
Considering that they even have dancing lessons, so they can play their parts, if a mission needs them to, one would think so, yes. But, honestly, Cid doesn't seem to be that great of a headmaster and manager, so I'm not surprised that he forgot about something essential like this. And NORG definitely doesn't care about this.

Cid has not been a part of the proceedings since you left Balamb for Timber. I'm pretty sure he's completely locked out of the loop here. Nobody you're talking to has picked up the phone to ask if it's okay that they're gonna borrow his child soldiers to overthrow a government official or anything. He probably thinks Squall and co. are still in Timber doing unimportant but ultimately not terribly dangerous missions for the Owls.

(Later on someone points out that no one knew what to do about the Sorceress ascending to power until you guys showed up, and could be conveniently used and discarded with plausible deniability if things gang agley.)
I assumed Cid was aware. After all, he sent Raijin and Fujin to deliver the message about assassinating the sorceress to Galbadia Garden. I mean, what you are saying makes sense, with the lack of communication options in this world. But does that mean, the message was just asking the Galbadia headmaster to start the assassination attempt? Which probably makes sense, Cid certainly doesn't want Edea to have control over the Garden, and he is in constant contact with his colleague.

I really love Rinoa's dynamic with Squall and how it changes over the course of the story. I don't want to say too much, but I think it's great that she completely (but understandably) misinterprets him as a stoic, man-of-few-words type, and calls him out for being rude, only to recognize he's got a lot more going on than it seemed, and her interactions change accordingly.
Yeah, their whole dynamic, and how it is already developing is pretty great. The way this was handled, with a person to actually wake up his emotions, and with us knowing about all his thoughts, is pretty well done.

To add onto this, Squall is someone who has a lot of difficulty putting his thoughts into words— not just in vocalizing them to others, but even just mulling them over in his head. So that his thoughts about Seifer's death are a bit muddled and confused (and confusing) seems to be, I think, part of the point; he really doesn't know how to handle it.
As Whisteria mentioned, that's really not surprising. He is still so young. My experiences with death are different, but he clearly feels stuff for Seifer - it's no wonder, that he is overwhelmed by his emotions here.

New post for the report, again. Dunno if it is my PC, but with this much in the "Post reply" box, the forums responses to my typing already start to slow down.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Last time I stopped writing, I was...good god, I didn't even touch the assassination. Oh well, let's go.

So, we have the sniper team with Squall and Irvine, and the others, who are responsible for capturing Edea. Lead by Quistis, of course. Not sure if this is only true in my head, but she is the obvious choice.

Squall, Irvine and the general leave, and Rinoa tries, again, to make up some plan just now, because she just doesn't get it. I mean, I appreciate her dedication, but...well, she will learn soon enough that she can't just run somewhere and make everything up, as she goes. She does have a plan, to put an Odine Bangle on Edea, meant to stop magical powers. Not too bad for a start, but we are talking about a sorceress. Getting to her is hard, and Rinoa wants to plan this out now.

Which, come on. Squall and Irvine are counting on their team members to carry out their part of the plan. They could die. There is no time. Quistis is pretty great here, saying it in clear terms, that this just isn't working. I love that it's finally someone else but Squall, who tells Rinoa that this isn't a game, and that you can't just do whatever you want. "Who, When, How"?"

They leave. And Rinoa, teenager that she is, doesn't get it.

With the other group, there is a neat little bit of interaction between Irvine and Squall. Irvine still thinks of them as heroes, while Squall has a more adult view on things. “Right and wrong are not what separate us and our enemies. It's our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another. There's no good or bad side. Just 2 sides holding different views.”

To be clear, I think Squall is a clearer understanding of how conflicts of this kind can work, but he also shirks his responsibility to think about them. Point is, conflicts of this magnitude are complicated, and there are mostly no true heroes or villains. You always have, even within the worst armies, decent people, who are just in because they have no choice. The game shows us this often enough, with Galbadia soldiers, who are actually decent people (just think of Laguna, but he isn't the only one). I'm not saying that both sides are equally bad, just that it's more complicated than just shooting the evil enemy with your gun of heroism. As an example, as someone who lives in territory that was once occupied by the Nazis, I don't really care much about the reasons for the US to join the fight. I'm eternally thankful that they helped defeat these monsters.

Squall has an outlook here that is very different than what you would get from a typical JRPG hero, which is likely informed from his desire to detach himself. But he doesn't take on the responsibility to question orders at this point.

As a short aside, isn't it dangerous for the general to walk around with us in the open? Doesn't he have to be somewhere? Doesn't he look like he has planned something, by showing the place to SeeDs?

We switch to Quistis, ready to climb the tower. Except that she has second thoughts, and feels bad for talking to Rinoa the way she did. She decides, that there is still enough time to talk to her.

Which was the first time that Quistis disappointed me. I assumed she was more professional. Look, I appreciate that she cares for other people. But she was right the first time, and Rinoa isn't a little girl, she will survive a few harsh words. But leaving your post, at such a critical point in a very dangerous mission is a bad move.

I'm not even sure why we do that, in gameplay terms. The sewer dungeon is bad and boring, and Rinoa can just go outside and do her thing, without us having to solve a Resident Evil puzzle.

Well, Rinoa takes it on herself to get close to the sorceress. Partly, to show all these dumb people that she is very much to be taken serious.

I might not like what the characters in this game are doing, but they are very well done teenagers. Blockheaded, overemotional, depressed, while still having competency that just needs to be sharpened - I really like how they are portrayed. These characters are way better, than I ever gave them credit for.

That Rinoa even just can walk into Edeas room seems weird, but ok. Stuff like this happens, especially if you fear no one, like Edea does. Well, she is soon made into a puppet of Edea.

The FMV, and the whole mood, the music, is amazing. It reminds me of the song that played during the Calcobrena fight in FF IV. We see her moving forward onto the balcony, giving a speech to the crowd, with the president behind her.

And I guess she already has everyone under her spell (no wonder people fear sorceresses, if they can charm such a giant amount of people). She calls the people lowlifes, criticizes them for celebrating and enjoying this occassion. And talks about the sorceresses from earlier times, who are still feared. Who were seemingly horrible tyrants.

I really hope we learn a bit more about the sorceresses. By now, this seems like a case were, no matter if the sorceress is good or bad, she would still be feared and fought against. The whole thing reads a bit like criticism against the Partriarchy, against how people ALWAYS feared powerful women, and acted like they were monsters. I don't remember, if this is a theme the game follows through on, but I can't help thinking of it.

Like, there have been sorceresses since the beginning of History, in this world. Since the mythical age of Hein, longer than people can remember. And you want to tell me, that every sorceress, through all of History, was a power-hungry, tyrannical monster? No way is this true. If I had to guess, sorceresses probably are just striking out first, because they know that everyone will hate them, just because they are how they are.

Anyway, Deling realizes that Edea isn't quite doing what he wants her to. I guess, no idea what he had hoped for, and what plans they had actually made, but it's probably here that he realizes that he made a pact with the devil. And then he dies, because he gave Edea all that she needed.

Thanks, Edea, this guy was the worst.

She promises the people a reign of terror. I wonder how that is supposed to look, because the game never goes dark in that direction - at least I don't remember seeing that here.

I really, really love this, and Edea is already near the top of my favourite FF villains. Granted, part of it is her amazing outfit, but all of her screams "I am powerful, I am to be feared." I know, she isn't the actual villain, but she does a very good job at seeming incredibly powerful and threatening.

She starts by awakening two statues, who go for Rinoa, which makes Squall and Irvine move.

At this point, switch to the other group. We are doing the mentioned Resident Evil puzzle (which, granted, I found kind of enjoyable, even if it is badly designed, I think. I guess I shouldn't even question, why this room has a hidden exit.

Switching back, we see Seifer standing close to Edea. He isn't dead, but no one seemed to be actually shocked? I guess the situation is already tense anyway, so, fine. We fight the two statues, which are lame but give me the cute Carbuncle.

Side note: Due to one side of my nose being swollen (harmless, it's already back to normal), I now know what Carbuncle really is. Spoiler: It's gross.

Also, the summon of the minotaur brothers is delightful and great, and if you haven't seen it, watch it. Are all the hidden summons that goofy? I remember the King Tonberry one being very funny, too.

And this is the moment, where Rinoa finally understands that this stuff is REALLY DANGEROUS, and that she can't just run around, doing whatever she wants. The game does a very good job, of showing how she is horribly shaken. But she isn't the only one, who shows growth here. Squall tries to get her off of him, doing his stoic thing again. But when this doesn't work, he actually shows empathy, and tells her to stay close to him.

This is big. This is a really big, important moment, for Squall and Rinoa. But if you aren't careful, you can easily miss it. I certainly did the other times I played.

With that done, we are, thankfully, at the very place we needed to be anyway, and can climb up from there into the top of the clock tower. Irvine takes the sniper rifle, and gets really quite. Squall doesn't think much of it, at first, and only now realizes that Seifer was there, right next to Edea. He might have to fight Seifer.

Is Seifer actually brainwashed? The whole setup is very reminiscent of FF IV, Edea looks like the Big Bad, but is actually controlled herself, but also controls the rival of the hero. Who does respect (and probably like) the hero, but also has a deep problem with him, due to jealousy. When Seifer and Edea first met, it is clear that she manipulated him, but it seems like this is what Seifer wanted, anyway. But then, I don't think he would just attack Squall, trying to kill him. Like Kain, he is just very easy to manipulate with a bit of magic.

Sorry, was jumping ahead a bit.

After a bit of time, Squall actually asks Irvine if he is ok. And here, Irvine confesses that he can't do it. I love, how Squall facepalms, before we switch again.

Not much to say for the other team. It's a sewers dungeon, and as always, it's the worst. We make it just in time, to capture the sorceress.

Switching back again, we have a repeat of Squalls attempt to get through to someone. First, he tries the hard way, but Irvine doesn't care. He is paralyzed with fear. No wonder, the whole operation hinges on him and his one shot. The pressure has to be enormous.

But Squall shows again, that he is actually a really good leader. "I don't care if you miss. Whatever happens, just leave the rest to us. Just think of it as a signal. A sign for us to make our move."

This is a great approach, trying to make Irvines role and responsibility way smaller. He doesn't have to hit. He only has to shoot, to try. If it doesn't work, they will try something else.

And he says "please".

It's just all around a great way of leading people. Not telling them how they have to behave all the time, but just trying to see them as people, and help them overcome their weaknesses. To lead them.

We get another great FMV, where we see that Edea expected us (granted, she was locked in a place and she is not stupid). Which means, plan B, Squall asks Irvine and even Rinoa to help him.

I think this is another important moment, with regards to Squalls growth. He knows, that what he has to do will be dangerous. The sorceress isn't a joke, she might kill him. He needs the help he can get, and asks for it. Not just Irvine, but Rinoa too. Which seems really big, considering that he doesn't want her to be in danger. But he has a certain trust, that they will help him through this.

We get another fun cutscene, where Squall steals a car and rams it into the gate. The cutscenes in this game are really fun. I haven't even mentioned the celebrations, and all the stuff the clock does. I love it all.

First, we have to go through Seifer, and fittingly enough, it's a duel between him and Squall. So, this is Seifers dream, being a knight, who protects his master.

If I hadn't been overpowered, due to my 3000 HP, this fight would actually have been decently difficult. Seifers damage wasn't trivial, and he could take a bit, too. But with so many HP, it was pretty easy to win.

And then, we have the big finally of disc 1, the fight against Edea. And she is actually challenging, using -aga spells already. That we got Carbuncle just before this fight wasn't a coincidence, I guess, because summoning him does trivialize the battle. But without him, this would probably be pretty hard. I appreciate, though, that the sorceress had some heavy hitting spells to use. Maybe some status stuff would have been appropriate too, though.

We do win, but only because Edea, after realizing that we aren't just bugs, gets serious at some point. It's similar to the battles with Beatrix in IX, where we have to show her that we are a bit of a challenge, only for her to use an actualy strong attack, and defeat us all with it.

Point is, we never had a chance.

Squall is impaled (I will take a look at the fan theories of this game, when I'm done), and falls of the car. And with that, we end disc 1.

--------------------------------------

Which is a fitting place for me to take a break. I'll continue during the weekend, there is a lot more to talk about.

Thanks for reading.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
I mentioned that Seifer uses his limit break in the intro cutscene; Edea's limit break is the giant icicle she uses to impale Squall.

I love it when games use their mechanics as part of their storytelling. I wish it happened more often in this series.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I mentioned that Seifer uses his limit break in the intro cutscene; Edea's limit break is the giant icicle she uses to impale Squall.

I love it when games use their mechanics as part of their storytelling. I wish it happened more often in this series.
That is pretty great. And very fitting, considering that she is a sorceress.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

At the start of disc 2, we get another flashback/dream/whatever, where we take the role of Laguna and his friends. Well, friend, because Zell is stuck with Ward, who does nothing but clean up a prison and miss the time with his buddies.

Fitting to the fact, that I remember disc 1 way better than the rest, I had completely forgotten that there were more then two Laguna sequences in this game. I have no memory of this one, at all.

So, Laguna has built up a nice live in a cozy little village, where he plays with a girl named Ellone and helps out, while getting food and a house from a woman named Raine. Ellone is the girl that talked to Squall and Quistis near the start, and that both didn't remember, right?

It's acutally not so cozy, monsters are running around inside the town, and it's Lagunas job to kill as many as he can, to keep the place safe. Also, there are Galbadia soldiers who are scared of a place called Esthar, and an attack from there. Due to that place being ruled by a sorceress, and her looking for a kid to take her place, after she died. Oh, and the sorceress that rules Esthar is called Adel. I think that's the one who is imprisoned on the moon?

When Laguna talks to Raine, there is a cute scene where both of them get in trouble with Raine, and make fun of it. It's really sweet, and we are immediately shown that Laguna has found a home here. Which is made more clear, when a guest appears. It's Kiros, who has looked for Laguna since what happened in the last backflash.

When Kiros asks Laguna what he plans on doing, we get different answers, with one of them grayed out - it's Squalls own answer, asking where he is. It's interesting, Laguna can hear Squall, if Squall tries, but doesn't understand him. This whole flashback stuff is never explained, is it? I guess it has to do with Time Compression? Well, I'll see later on, I guess.

The situation here is worse than it appears, with all adult men being sent to fight in a war. Against Esthar? Or are they still working on taking over Timber?

Julia did fulfill her dream, she is a singer now, and has released "Eyes On Me". She is also married to General Caraway, which blew my mind a bit. Also, there is a story going around that she waited for a soldier, who never came back, and Caraway was there for her.

I like how this plays out. Lagunas life is at a different place now, and while it seems to hurt him a bit, that his chance has gone, he seems to be fine with her being happy. Just the fact, that we get this romance between the two, but they don't end up together and we still don't get drama out of it - it all seems pretty real.

Lagunas job is pretty easy, considering he is a soldier. He just has to kill pretty weak monster (I don't think they are implied to be strong), and just spends his time in the little town of Winhill. There is a funny scene at the item shop, where the owner clearly hates him, for unclear reasons. I think the owner assumes Laguna might be a bad influence, for Raine and Ellone?

Kiros also tells us, that he talked with the chief editor of Timber Maniacs, who would be interested in someone like Laguna, who can write about foreign places. So, basically what Laguna dreamed of doing. But, again, he is in a different place now. He built up this whole new life, and it is clearly fulfilling for him, especially with Raine and Ellone. He basically has a family, and is at a point where he seems to want to settle down.

Basically, he grew up, I guess.

Soon afterwards, the dream ends, and Zell wakes up in a cell. Together with Quistis, Rinoa and Selphie. Here we learn, that he was Ward, and did nothing of interest, at all. But it makes him realize, that he does know this place, as its really the prison from the memory.

As nosimpleway alluded to, this time, the situation is seriuos. Attacking the president? No big deal. Attacking Edea? Major offense, punishable by death. Well, after her speach, where she just killed Deling in front of everyone, and no one cared, it was obvious that she is the person in charge, and probably has been for some time.

I wonder, how honest Deling was with himself. I mean, it must have been clear that Edea was the bigger player, but he seems to have been a pompous ass. So, did he think he was the senior partner in this business relationship? Well, we'll never know. I'll just assume, that he was taken completely by surprise.

Squall is also here, but in solitary confinement. This prison is really elaborate, as it has cells that can be taken out by a giant, mechanical arm, and put somewhere else. Reminded me a bit of the place in the Matrix, where Neo finds himself after waking up.

He is taken to a torture room, by Seifer. We see Squall crucified, and hurt by electroshocks. I wonder, is the crucification an intentional religios symbol, or is it just used because it looks so scary, and is strongly related to torture? Or does it just look cool in a bad way?

I mean, there doesn't seem to be much religious subtext in this game, but then, we do have basically witches who are hunted. And one of them becomes kind-of god, by ruling not only over the world, but all of time and space. Dunno, maybe I'll come back to this later.

Here we learn, that there is more behind the SeeDs, than even Squall knows. Seifer asks him, as Edea wants to know, but he doesn't either. Not that this should be a total surprise, Cid alluded to us being more than just soldiers more than once. To spare Squall from more torture (without GFs, he is probably a regular, vulnerable human), I let him lie - SeeDs want to spread flowers everwhere, so that they seem harmless, and can catch their enemies off guard. The guard who is left behind by Seifer is dumb enough to believe it, and runs out to tell someone.

There is actually some jumping between Squall and the others, but the scenes are too short to cover them that way, I think. It's a nice way of making the whole stuff more interesting, and I'm glad we actually learn what's up with Squall.

The others are visited by an asshole guard, who the game fittingly calls "Mean Guy". Zells brain sets out, and he doesn't realize, for now, that he doesn't need a weapon to fight back against these losers. I mean, they can't use magic and their GFs, due to some anti-magic field, or something, but Zell is still a trained martial artist. I'm glad the game takes this into account, even if it's a bit later than it should be.

Mean Guy punches and kicks Zell, until Rinoa comes with him, which was what he wanted.

Right, I forgot about the part with Seifer and Squall, where Seifer talks about his dream of being a knight is now fulfilled. Squall tells him, that he is just a torturer.

This is an interesting moment for Seifer. This reaction makes him angry - he wanted this to be the dramatic moment, where Squall told him his eternal hatred, or something, and how they are now mortal enemies. He actually wants to be the hero, in a story of an evil mercenary vs the sorceresses knight.

I still can't say how much brainwashing is going on with Seifer, as this probably fits wonderfully in the script, he has for his life. Him as the hero, fighting for justice. Like he never grew out of the fairytales he heard, as a child. The whole thing is just really a childrens fantasy, that you should grow out of. But then, he is still a teenager (and some dumbasses never grow out of the fantasy of being the hero in a simple story of black and white), and I guess we were all there, at some point, wanting to be like the heroes we see in games and on TV.

You know, I have for some time now thought about how we have so many stories that are about some rightous hero, who stands up against the evil government, ignores all the rules and saves the day. Which is a really bad idea of how to think about the world. I mean, situations in real life aren't so black and white, and a hero who just ignores all the rules is a criminal. I mean, these type of stories seem to suggest that all leaders are bad, rules are always about oppression and that it is ok to take the law into your own hands.

Dunno, I just think we need less stories about these loner heroes, who do what they think is right, ignoring everything and still come out as the heroes. It doesn't work that way. It just creates people like Seifer, who put themselves above the law and think, no matter what they do, they are the hero.

Sorry, this is all mushed, I think I can't really get a grasp on my thoughts today. Feel free to disagree with me here. My interpretation seems off, here.

The others get food by one of the lion guys, who is then kicked by Mean Guy. When thinking of an escape plan, Selphie suggests to skin him, and use his fur as a disguise. Which, uh, aside from being horrible wouldn't even work. Selphie, are you with us?

The lion guy is right next to her. He can hear her. Selphie is scary. She also can use some kind of magic in here. I read a fan theory, about Selphie maybe being a sorceress, also due to her Limit Break, which gives her access to spells she otherwise doesn't have. Plus one that kills everything. Seems like a sensible theory, honestly.

Zell gets his brain back, and he realizes that he can just punch everyone. That way, everyone gets back their weapon, and each character (including the lion guy) gets this weird scene were they grow gigantic for a few seconds, say something cool and show off how good they are with their weapons.

I'm really thankful for the character scenes in here, because the prison, as a dungeon, is awful. Everything looks the same, and is horribly boring. For fun, there is a one-of-a-kind magazine at the very bottom. I mean, I think the game doesn't tell you if you need to go up or down, which means you might get to the bottom, basically pointlessly. There are people in some cells, but nothing really interesting.

To be honest, despite my best efforts, I don't really understand what they are doing inside. Running up, running down, running up and down, and then they get out. It's confusing. Thankfully, at some point we have the scene where everyone takes cover from being shot at, and Irvine arrives, doing heroic poses. And then, Rinoa kicks him down the stairs. That was funny, and earned, considering that he only wanted to save her, ordered by Caraway.

So, Edea didn't realize that Caraway was behind everything? Considering how smart she seems to be, I'm surprised that she doesn't know. Aside from that, why isn't he under her spell? And why is Irvine free? He fought against Edea too.

I don't feel like the game is offering answers here. If it does, I would love to hear them.

There is a fun bit, where Selphie suggests to jump from the top right down to the bottom. I love Selphie.

And there is the scene, where a guard nearly kills Zell, and Squall saves him. First, the way Squall jumps in is the coolest way to do so, and I'm sure he knows this. He might act like "I have no emotion, don't look at me", but he is a teenager and clearly craves attention, and getting some by being cool is the dream of someone like him. Jumping in that way is clearly intentional.

Second, Zell clings onto Squall, thanking him for being saved. Squall hits him on the head with the grip of his gunblade. It makes a 'donk'-sound. As I said, I'm glad for these scenes. I feel like this game is at it's best, when it is just dumb teens being dumb teens. I would love for the alternative story, where Squall is always made to help other people at school, and hating it, but also loving it inside, or something. And how no one would realize how he hates everything, and is just like "we are best buddies". I want more school hijinks out of this game.

More stuff happens, and we get to the top, where we see that the prison is made up of three GIANT pillars, connected by bridges. And the pillars can drill out of or into the ground, and it looks like the are drilling out of it, but are actually drilling in. So, we are extremely high (and fight a lame boss), have a thrilling FMV where we can get a game over, if we don't move Squall, despite not knowing that we have to, because it's an FMV. I think. I never let Squall just hang there.

And then it's over, and we drive out with cars.

Honestly, I have no idea how the whole escaping works. I mean, sure, someone drilled the towers underground again, but the actualy steps of who did what and why are beyond me. It feels like one of those times in movies, where people are running around in a giant complex and have to find each other, free someone and get out, and they get everywhere they need to, just by running around aimlessly. It's fine, but I don't like it much.

Anyway, Rinoa told Quistis that the Sorceress is going to launch rockets at the Gardens. As mentioned, attacking Deling doesn't matter. Attacking Edea is a declaration of war.

So, we split up. One half is going to Balamb, to warn everyone. The other half is going to the missilbe base, due to Selphie not wanting that Trabia Garden, where she came from, is going to get destroyed. Because that is also a target.

I'm really glad we get more Selphie. She was a bit of a non-entity on disc 1, glad she got a bit more of the spotlight. I let Quistis and Rinoa come with Squall.

It's the moment, where Quistis calls Squall the leader, and wants him to decide on the team composition.

"Leader? I never asked to be a the leader."

Squall really doesn't realize all the abilities that he has. He is a person, that people look up to, and who takes charge. He is a leader, maybe by being raised that way, but I think also by the abilities he just has.

It is also a special moment, in general. Squall briefs the others, and tells them, that this is different than their other missions. There is no request, no one is asking them to do this. They are acting on their own. It's their decision, to do this.

Like a good leader, he asks Selphie if she has a plan. And she straight up says, that she will make it up as she goes along. It's not like there is time for planning much out, but I appreciate how honest these people are with each other.

Selphie feels, that this is really important, and that she has to do it. Even if it's dangerous, and she doesn't know what to expect. And Squall knows this, doesn't critizise it, and just trusts her abilities.

They are becoming a team. I like where this is going.
 
He is taken to a torture room, by Seifer. We see Squall crucified, and hurt by electroshocks. I wonder, is the crucification an intentional religios symbol, or is it just used because it looks so scary, and is strongly related to torture? Or does it just look cool in a bad way?
Crosses are Seifer's motif. He has them on his coat, and his limit break is called Fire Cross, so the crucifixion might be his idea as well.

The lion guy is right next to her. He can hear her. Selphie is scary. She also can use some kind of magic in here. I read a fan theory, about Selphie maybe being a sorceress, also due to her Limit Break, which gives her access to spells she otherwise doesn't have. Plus one that kills everything. Seems like a sensible theory, honestly.
Selphie's magic in the jail cell is just a Cure spell that she draws from... somewhere (maybe the Moomba itself?), that doesn't work very well because of the anti-magic field. You can see that in action during the Zell solo bit, too; he can still use magic during that part, but it does almost no damage.

Selphie does have her own magic, though, and so does Quistis, and Ellone. It's kind of unclear what the difference is between their powers and those of a sorceress. Maybe that's why it's hard for Adel to find a successor, because there are lots of girls with magical abilities, and most of them aren't true sorceresses, but she needs to meet them or examine them somehow to make sure.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
I never noticed before you mentioned that but all the limit breaks line up along gender lines. Maybe all women are just more magically inclined in this world (even the queen of cards seems to have something of the mystical about her), with sorceresses are just the exceptionally strong ones.
 

nosimpleway

(he/him)
I assumed Cid was aware. After all, he sent Raijin and Fujin to deliver the message about assassinating the sorceress to Galbadia Garden.
That's... huh. Hmm.

“Both sides blame one another. There's no good or bad side. Just 2 sides holding different views.”
This is somewhat undercut when the characters realize that this isn't a war of differing political outlooks. This is a war between someone who wants to dump millions of man-eating monsters from the moon to the earth in a plan that results in the extinction of every thing that not only lives, but ever has lived or will live. There's not "but both sides"-ing that.

She promises the people a reign of terror. I wonder how that is supposed to look, because the game never goes dark in that direction - at least I don't remember seeing that here.
Monsters from the moon.

Side note: Due to one side of my nose being swollen (harmless, it's already back to normal), I now know what Carbuncle really is. Spoiler: It's gross.
The summoned monster is the other kind of carbuncle, which is to say, a red gemstone. Legend holds it gems like that can shine with their own light in dark spaces, hence "Ruby Light" being Carbuncle's summon spell.

The dermatology kind of carbuncles are really gross though yeah

Is Seifer actually brainwashed?
My impression is that Edea et al didn't need any sort of charm magic on Seifer, so much as just feeding him exactly what he wanted to hear and allowing him to be exactly the person he wanted to be.


We get another great FMV, where we see that Edea expected us (granted, she was locked in a place and she is not stupid).
It turns out giving some sort of indication to your target that you intend to snipe them is not a good idea! The various clueless teen PCs can take some comfort in knowing that adults make boneheaded moves too.

Ellone is the girl that talked to Squall and Quistis near the start, and that both didn't remember, right?
Yes.

Oh, and the sorceress that rules Esthar is called Adel. I think that's the one who is imprisoned on the moon?
In a geosynchronous satellite, but mostly yes.

This whole flashback stuff is never explained, is it? I guess it has to do with Time Compression? Well, I'll see later on, I guess.
It is explained, but if you don't remember I won't spoil it. It doesn't give a ton more insight as you play to know now.

The situation here is worse than it appears, with all adult men being sent to fight in a war. Against Esthar? Or are they still working on taking over Timber?
Winhill is near Galbadia, and Adel is in Esthar. Presumably the men were sent off to Timber in order to defend it from Esthar attack. I don't know if much is ever made of a counterattack on Esthar itself to get Adel to knock it off.


Julia did fulfill her dream, she is a singer now, and has released "Eyes On Me". She is also married to General Caraway, which blew my mind a bit.
Yep, Julia is Rinoa's mom.

I wonder, how honest Deling was with himself. I mean, it must have been clear that Edea was the bigger player, but he seems to have been a pompous ass. So, did he think he was the senior partner in this business relationship? Well, we'll never know. I'll just assume, that he was taken completely by surprise.
Deling is the sort of evil mastermind who always assumes he's one step ahead of everyone else. That one of his own underlings, that he'd just done a favor for by appointing her to a position of political power, would lash back and kill him is unthinkable to someone like that.

That kind of flaw is the difference between "game's overarching villain" and "iced before the end of disc 1".

To spare Squall from more torture (without GFs, he is probably a regular, vulnerable human), I let him lie
Whoops! The Moombas are watching, and they're appalled by your cowardice! They'd have given you items if you had answered honestly. Oh, was that not obvious? Buy the strategy guide, available at your local GameStop! Only $19.99!

She also can use some kind of magic in here.
Can she? She tries to Draw a Cure spell and cast it but it doesn't work, and that's how you find out that there's an antimagic field. I don't think she tries again until the escape sequence, where they lift the antimagic field so the monsters they use for security can do their jobs.

So, Edea didn't realize that Caraway was behind everything? Considering how smart she seems to be, I'm surprised that she doesn't know. Aside from that, why isn't he under her spell? And why is Irvine free? He fought against Edea too.
Caraway's whole skepticism about Edea's rise to power in Galbadia is from his experiences in the first Sorceress War. He probably knew he had to keep a low profile.

Besides, he didn't get off completely scot-free. Edea fired him as leader of the Galbadian military and put Seifer in his place.

have a thrilling FMV where we can get a game over, if we don't move Squall, despite not knowing that we have to, because it's an FMV. I think. I never let Squall just hang there.
Not only do you have to move Squall, but there's not a ton of indication which way you have to move Squall. At least I'm pretty sure I always Game Over at least once at this scene because I make him go the wrong way.

Anyway, Rinoa told Quistis that the Sorceress is going to launch rockets at the Gardens. As mentioned, attacking Deling doesn't matter. Attacking Edea is a declaration of war.
I always figured this was "Oh yes, of course, the assassination attempt on President Deling was the work of one crazed swordsman, not a coup d'etat orchestrated by Garden. We totally believe you. There will be no repercussions against Garden whatsoever." wink wink

But this makes just as much sense. Even if Edea doesn't know who all these people rushing her parade float and getting ice-lanced are, Seifer's right there to tell her all about them.

I let Quistis and Rinoa come with Squall.
This is completely the correct thing to do. Sending Zell to the missile base unlocks some extra guilt-based dialog, and sending Rinoa with Squall is also good for actually developing their relationship. It's possible to reverse that and Squall and Rinoa still end up growing close without any of the legwork that would demand.

Like a good leader, he asks Selphie if she has a plan. And she straight up says, that she will make it up as she goes along.
"Worked great for Rinoa so far!"
 
This whole flashback stuff is never explained, is it?
It is explained, all in good time though. And iirc it takes a while to get explained. The general gist of it is (massive story spoilers) Ellone is secretly a sorceress, and has been sending the minds of Squall & Co back into the past to experience Laguna's story. Both so they could be guided to where they need to be and gain some much needed exp/perspective, but also so Squall can get to know his father. (Being Squall's older sister, she cares about that kinda stuff.) It's also to fulfill a self-fulfilling prophecy as well, since Laguna & Co get a powerup when Squall & Co are with them, and those powerups save their lives on many occasions, and they needed Squall & Co from the future to do their things to make sure the past worked out well. It's very much a destiny kind of thing, where Ellone knows what's going to happen and knows she has to do her part to make sure things play out the way they're supposed to.

I mean, these type of stories seem to suggest that all leaders are bad, rules are always about oppression and that it is ok to take the law into your own hands.
That's not really FF8 though. You could say that about a lot of FFs, but not this one. Squall might be fighting against bad, tyrannical governments, but he's not really a freedom fighter or a rouge vigilante. He's beholden to a power structure that he conforms to/never really bucks. And there are several governments run by good people in FF8 that Squall either works with or for depending on the scenario. Governments/countries in FF8 aren't inherently bad, they're just bad when a bad person gets into power.

So, we split up. One half is going to Balamb, to warn everyone. The other half is going to the [missile] base, due to Selphie not wanting that Trabia Garden, where she came from, is going to get destroyed. Because that is also a target.
For me, this was the first big learning curve spike/difficulty bottleneck in the game. When I first played the game, I made my party selection choices based on which characters I liked the most and which ones I didn't care for as much. The ones I liked the most, I had stay with Squall. Since I liked those characters the most, they tended to be the ones in the party I used the most and had the most exp. So the squad that went to go stop the missiles, were all underleveled and underequipped, compared to the other half of the party. Which will make that entire sequence at the missile base hard af if you're not prepared for it. I spent a lot of time redoing that segment of the game over and over before loading an older save file to grind some levels before trying again. The result of the missile base scenario was also surprisingly impactful for me as well, since all those characters seemingly die. I was racked with a lot of guilt playing this game as a young teen, because I didn't necessarily hate these other party members; they didn't deserve to die just because I made a bad decision. It's another big moment for Squall in the story.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Crosses are Seifer's motif. He has them on his coat, and his limit break is called Fire Cross, so the crucifixion might be his idea as well.
Oh, didn't catch that. Makes sense

Selphie's magic in the jail cell is just a Cure spell that she draws from... somewhere (maybe the Moomba itself?), that doesn't work very well because of the anti-magic field. You can see that in action during the Zell solo bit, too; he can still use magic during that part, but it does almost no damage.
I just trusted the game, and assumed I was incapable of casting spells, at all. I guess, I should have tried it. It did seem like her Cure spell was effective enough, too, but I guess I misinterpreted that part.

Whoops! The Moombas are watching, and they're appalled by your cowardice! They'd have given you items if you had answered honestly. Oh, was that not obvious? Buy the strategy guide, available at your local GameStop! Only $19.99!
Was there anything valuable to get there? I mean, something more interesting than an X-Potion or something, which is probably considered a good usable item, at the moment.

I don't mind too much, with stuff like that. It gives you ways to play the game different the second time, and maybe get something out of it that isn't one-of-a-kind. Even the fighting magazine at the bottom of the prison isn't that important, you just have one less tool to work with for Zell, not too bad.

Huh, I guess I develop an acceptence for missables and hard-to-get obscurities. Thinking about it, even missing a GF isn't that much of a deal, considering how easy the game is.

I'll still get all the GFs, because they are just too interesting. But elsewise, there isn't much that you need. Missing this stuff is fine.

Caraway's whole skepticism about Edea's rise to power in Galbadia is from his experiences in the first Sorceress War. He probably knew he had to keep a low profile.

Besides, he didn't get off completely scot-free. Edea fired him as leader of the Galbadian military and put Seifer in his place.
Oh, I'm glad the game makes it clear that there were consequences for what he did. Or at least for the fact, that he let an assassination attempt happen.

Not only do you have to move Squall, but there's not a ton of indication which way you have to move Squall. At least I'm pretty sure I always Game Over at least once at this scene because I make him go the wrong way.
That one is way worse, than the missables, I think. I do appreciate, that Square tried to give you some interactability during the cutscenes (also indicated by the easily gained ability to make summons stronger during the summon). But also, if you fail, you might not even learn what you did wrong, and the whole excitement of the situation is lost. In such cases, the second attempt is already one where I am out of it, and just try to not die again. The excitement is gone, and I'm just annoyed, that I have to repeat stuff. It also reduces the emotional impact, to replay scenes beforehand, I think.

This is completely the correct thing to do. Sending Zell to the missile base unlocks some extra guilt-based dialog, and sending Rinoa with Squall is also good for actually developing their relationship. It's possible to reverse that and Squall and Rinoa still end up growing close without any of the legwork that would demand.
Yeah, Rinoa says she is ok to go with either group (which suggests that she grew a good deal - she doesn't NEED to stay near Squall, and she accepts that it isn't all about her).

Taking Quistis with you, to do stuff at the garden, just feels right.

"Worked great for Rinoa so far!"
I feel like this is different? Maybe? Selphie is a trained professional, who is (I assume, but considering how the school works, I'm not sure) educated at improvising, and making tactical desicions on the spot. Also, they worked together for some time now. I think she earned the trust, Squall has in her.

Nothing of this is true for Rinoa. She has the will, but nothing more.

That's not really FF8 though.
Yeah, that's what I wanted to say (and it seems like I failed).

You could say that about a lot of FFs, but not this one. Squall might be fighting against bad, tyrannical governments, but he's not really a freedom fighter or a rouge vigilante. He's beholden to a power structure that he conforms to/never really bucks. And there are several governments run by good people in FF8 that Squall either works with or for depending on the scenario. Governments/countries in FF8 aren't inherently bad, they're just bad when a bad person gets into power.
The game makes it very clear that, even in a fascist nation like Galbadia, there are good people, even within the army. See the soldier, that wanted to get it through to his underlings that regular people are not supposed to be harassed, or just Laguna in general (maybe that is a meta-reason for us to spend time with him).

It's a bit like Seifer wants to be the hero in a classical JRPG story, the shining knight that defeats the evil antagonists. Except that it doesn't make him into a hero, and more a torture and general bad person, who does horrible things.

I think I mentioned this already, but I'm very impressed by the storytelling in this game. There is a lot of complexity there.

For me, this was the first big learning curve spike/difficulty bottleneck in the game. When I first played the game, I made my party selection choices based on which characters I liked the most and which ones I didn't care for as much. The ones I liked the most, I had stay with Squall. Since I liked those characters the most, they tended to be the ones in the party I used the most and had the most exp. So the squad that went to go stop the missiles, were all underleveled and underequipped, compared to the other half of the party. Which will make that entire sequence at the missile base hard af if you're not prepared for it. I spent a lot of time redoing that segment of the game over and over before loading an older save file to grind some levels before trying again. The result of the missile base scenario was also surprisingly impactful for me as well, since all those characters seemingly die. I was racked with a lot of guilt playing this game as a young teen, because I didn't necessarily hate these other party members; they didn't deserve to die just because I made a bad decision. It's another big moment for Squall in the story.
Due to me playing with a guide, and reading up on how to break the game, during my first playthrough, I don't know about any difficulty spikes in this game. So, thanks for this story.

I've already played up to the reunion in FH, so I know what happens there. I guess your feelings are related to Squalls - not that he didn't care for his companions, but he felt the weight of his decissions, I think. They might have died, due to a decision he made, without anyone else demanding him to do so.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Contrary to optics, I'm also still playing this. After being distracted by various things for a bit, I have completed disc 1.

  • the elapsed time on my file at this juncture of the game is just short of 40 hours. It's a preposterous number, as you could comfortably have finished the game in "regular" play in less than, but expediency's not really where the mindset lingers in extended interactions with VIII; it's a game that mechanically and experientially rewards one for fooling about with its systems and poking around its setting not because explicit prompting compels one but because the opportunity exists. It's not necessity-driven just as VII wasn't, and there isn't a great general-purpose answer to why one might play tens of hours of a virtual card game for statistical advantages that are never particularly needed to interact with the rest of what the game is. Is it just lizard-brain compulsion? Exploration of game systems isn't an unfamiliar frontier to the series as a whole but it rises to a particular expression in these most free-form instances, typified by the language and desire to "break" the game, where the intimation of the parlance doesn't really seem to be relevant; the game does not cease to function but the ways in which we're conditioned to keep on with it contort and assemble into curious, unforeseen shapes and rhythms, twisting our expectations of what it should be. That's why VIII remains entertaining and fascinating to push to its limits--not just because "it's there" but because the means of gaining that leg-up and fast-tracking to the pinnacles of its power curve are not the series or genre's usual tools of the trade, and remain novel in how they feel to interact with even so many years later. It's a game capable of making one invest of themselves in the numbers side of the RPG machine, even if that predilection is not particularly practiced or cultivated, just on the basis of its unconventional approach to the status quo.
  • once upon a time, the Dollet mission was VIII's demo, and it's not difficult to ascertain why. It's practically nothing but momentum from beginning to end, the great blockbuster play the series had honestly already made and was at this point committed to riding to its destination, catching that pop-cultural wave hard. It's also in the background of things if not a culmination then another example of a kind of way to pull in active audience roleplaying inhabiting a character and their circumstances that Square had been playing with for a while now--of note in particular, the actions one takes or doesn't at the Millennial Fair in Chrono Trigger, and on a much larger scale, the myriad character interactions possible for the bulk of the first disc in FFVII, dictating the partner for the date scene. Invisible scrutinizing eyes keeping track of many variables, informing later events and eventually, player behaviour upon replays as these metrics would be unearthed and incorporated into the means toward the end result desired. VIII carries on that spirit, but it's more localized to a sequence and contextualized by the game's circumstances; being evaluated does not come as a total surprise when the premise given is an organized exam, after all. Regardless, the means by which one is graded remain invisible and unclear even upon receiving the results, and nothing critical or even significant hinges upon the outcome, so this experimental tangent that's remained a throughline for the studio's works can remain as the appreciated flavour it is, to be manipulated by those gaming the system in post or happily ignored by those not. It's another commonality to the design mentality that lives in VIII, where the game is capable and willing to be very exacting and granular about its various interlocking mechanics, systems and interactions, but is never in a hurry to adopt a punitive stance toward those who are only lightly grazing against their obfuscated enormities.
  • how do you form an impression of a particular media work in your mind? Is it represented by characters, scenes, aesthetic, written voice, performances, anything else? It doesn't need to be and rarely is only one thing, but when I key into aspects that keep VIII near and dear to me, it's foremost encapsulated by characters in conversation amongst themselves, or failing to communicate altogether. Quistis and Squall's disastrous post-exam debriefing, Squall and Rinoa's butting of heads, Squall's internal and inadvertently external outburst regarding Seifer's fate, and the many criss-crossing character motivations during the assassination mission... they all form the absolutely essential lifeblood of what the game is interested in saying with its storytelling, where the narrative creative interest lies, and how these characters can be understood and enjoyed. Contrary to prior or even subsequent games in the series, almost everyone in VIII's principal playable cast share similar backgrounds and lived experiences because of the military school setting the game's perspective is focused on; Rinoa's very exception to the rule casts her as an outsider relevant to the character conflicts around her. There's an external imposition of being peers and comrades and teammates according to the system around the characters's lives, which ostensibly unifies them for a given cause but in actuality completely fails to maintain their respective mental healths and leaves them isolated in their own heads--our look into Squall's explicit headspace doesn't exclude others's interiority being just as relevant.
VIII's characters have a reputation for being "samey" or "boring" according to the habits of a genre that designs characters for engineered diversity within a narrow sample pool of archetypes, but they are so for the organizational backdrop of the narrative where a for-profit paramilitary business cult is actively molding them from childhood to become good little footsoldiers to drive up the profit margins in proxy wars and conflicts. VIII adopts a character-focused storytelling mode to highlight that organizational friction, while also having the lens close to the people involved to portray how they eventually grow close to one another not because a governing body told them to, but because they're kind of all they have in their mutually fucked-up circumstances they've all grown up in. It's intensively about character in every way, but the framing of the character conflicts doesn't always stem from singular and external traumatic events, but are more about the conditioned and accrued systemic repression brought about by the reality of the world they live in, and so lack many immediate hooks as far as iconic development. The lowkey angle that comes with this isn't so much more "realistic" than alternatives but it's by nature more intimate, necessitating a closer and more long-term eye toward those interactions and what each individual shares of themselves. While a general preference in fiction personally anyway, it's why I do not look forward to boss fights, dungeons or the like in VIII at a level equal to what a squabble or a heart-to-heart between the characters might offer, simply because the close-knit ensemble of six comes alive and means more when they're arguing about something in a meeting room or dawdling about on the train as opposed to what the usual RPG operatics can convey.​

  • I've mentioned it a couple of times but making reference to individual discs as indications of what stage of a game you're in is such an era and system-specific notion that it basically only existed in this timeframe, and most commonly on the PlayStation. It's particularly emblematic of the three PS1 FFs as the most widely-played examples of their genre and how they pushed storage capacities to their limits, making it a constant reality of their formats. There was a kind of perception of "prestige" to the thick cases these games came in, the luxurious multi-disc treatments of them, that elevated them as media events of more-than compared to others--illusory and fabricated or not, they built up the myth of each. It was not just posturing either, as there were observations to make of the associated scale of production: VIII is packed to the brim with a presentational flair that VII made famous but which has only been supercharged since. There are innumerable instances of the game using its baseline of pre-rendered worlds to seamlessly segue into transitional FMV clips of often just brief moments before reining in the view back to the standard--trivialities, maybe, to convey what was still deemed important to dedicate that much exacting attention to and render specific interactions for. The money that had at this point made returns for Square was absolutely spent on evolving the presentation of what could be done in their chosen genre, and it's difficult to regard the results with anything but awe because they operate on a rarely seen combination of a studio at the height of their profitable power, met with the drive to use that status and opportunity to experiment and innovate.
The concept of individual discs also shapes the way these games are remembered and described later in ways that haven't been replicated outside of that context. People make specific claims that one "disc" or another is better or worse than others, pitting them against one another as if they're in competition rather than pieces of a complete work. It's not an unreasonable perspective on things, because it's clear to see the media formats informed on some level the construction and makeup of the games--disc change breaks are frequently if not uniformly framed as dramatic intermissions of tension and release that create naturally reading narrative borders around the stories even outside of the explicit pauses. In these conversations it's very common to have the early stages of the games highlighted as among the best, with particularly VIII and IX having their respective inaugural discs singled out as exceptional. Outside of the baseline preferences for beginning-hours novelty and unfamiliarity making things exciting for people, the fondness that exists for this material can again be indicated by how it's arranged in the games themselves. VIII's first disc, when reduced to its mandatory, central aspects, is extremely brief and setpiece-driven, always pushing one from one insulated mission with completely unique circumstances to the next. It's a rollercoaster that had intuited this kind of design style far before it became a standard, but also hadn't closed itself to opportunities to break away from that orchestration and allowing players to linger in the margins when it suited them in the downtime. It ends up serving both needs at once for its willingness to plot itself with momentum and immediacy without the cost to meaningful diversions--the sights to be seen looking out the train window as it barrels forward.​

  • I'm unable to have anything but FFII on the brain when thinking of VIII's world--its world map--in comparative thought. It lacks the former's looping geography where the bulk of it is in theoretical walking distance from the beginning, with Balamb serving as a naturally formed tutorialization zone for the game's purposes, so the commonalities that I feel exist aren't so much rooted in exact analogues but an almost imperceptible atmosphere permeating both. The relative scale of them is one factor, where the distances between habitation are vast and the overall population of the world sparse. VIII's world is interesting for its romanticized, rustic-European aesthetic in many places but also for how isolated from each other all the respective regions feel--not only Esthar's intentionally cultivated and maintained mass-scale isolation, but elsewhere too. It's difficult to make judgments like this in the informal language of RPG world map abstraction, but the world feels uninhabitated and bleak outside of the few pockets of civilization in it, where people avoid the wilderness as much as they can outside of those safe zones. The railroad that encompasses the entire Galbadian continent and extends to Balamb or the cars one can rent in the game point to this odd relationship between modernity and fantasy worlds that the game navigates without calling especial attention to it; it's a rare thing to have seen VIII marketed or recommended as a "modern-day RPG" in the way a Mother or a Persona might be, even if they share much in the concepts explored and portrayed. VII's liminality was driven by technological generations and dimensionality, while VIII has no less steep a climb ahead of it, but on a more difficult to path, as it's living on the bleeding edge of world presentation and conceptualization in some ways while putting them across in the traditional language of its heritage that doesn't necessarily apply anymore. Its messaging can feel torn in this sense, as if being unsure as to what to do with itself, in how its world feels to navigate and how downplayed it is in intricacy to what has come before. Rather than a condemnation of how the world is in a vacuum, I think it's more interesting to consider its nature in relation to the game's priorities because they go a long way toward explicating how simplistic and barren it can be, and those answers are in the kind of story the game is and what place setting has in the telling of it. Whatever the case, it feels like the series on the cusp of re-examining its creative paradigm, once again, in the creative restlessness that has always defined it.
  • I'm not that keen to jump into character assessments at this relatively early stage in the game, but there's never a bad moment to talk about Squall. I don't think there's a better lead in the series anywhere, give or take a Lightning, and that's a pretty rare thing as often a main character is one that's merely tolerated for the more interesting fringe perspectives around them. Squall doesn't represent any kind of imagined median of human or social behaviour in an idealized sense, though he may exemplify one that is truer than those contrivances. It's his abrasive and acerbic exterior that maintains that in no circumstance is he ever the least interesting person in the room, even without the internal monologue to complement that performance. Just on an archetypical level there's a level of stinging opinionation to Squall that in no way renders him a void of personality but such a force of one that it's his defining trait within the fiction and outside of it, in whether people will reject him outright or try to understand who he is. I can't think of a more appropriate metatextual treatment for a character whose way of life is to build so many walls around himself that no one can get close and hurt him, terrified of the eventual rejection and separation--the refusal to accept Squall as more than his artifice is just playing into his hand in keeping the self-sufficient loner at arm's length while denying the scared kid of the connections he needs and is afraid to form.
The "past tense" outburst is a critically good scene and spotlight into his personality, and is at the latest the point where the character completely clicks into place. It's a darkly funny exchange in the first place, but in me it doesn't elicit laughter at the absurdity of the situation or the exaggeration of a character's thought processes for the sake of drama--rather it's a mirror that's almost painfully clear and invasive in its reflection. I constantly find myself in situations of having run through internal discourse, debating and reasoning and then saying something as the culmination of those processes, before realizing that whoever I was talking with wasn't privy to those exchanges and so need to backtrack, summarize and explain what I even meant. Squall doesn't patch things out in that way, as he simply runs out of the room, and I've escaped situations that way too--not as dramatically, but no less authentically in what kind of damage and anxiety this kind of interaction portrays. It's very easy for me to identify with Squall because I harbor many of the complexes that he carries with him, and to further appreciate the game he's in because it's never in the business of mocking him or taking him less seriously for them--it just seeks to portray him as he is, at that level of painful intimacy. The embarrassment inherent in Squall's character isn't something we feel about him, but how he makes us feel about ourselves, in representing those qualities, past and present, just a little too exactingly, and that's a valuable main character to star as the lead of a story that's so much about communication and deprogramming between varyingly repressed people.​

  • this is something I keep coming back to, but it just cannot be stressed enough how impressive and transfixing VIII's handle on its presentation is. The disc 1 climax in the Deling City assassination mission stands as the rightful culmination of the efforts established in the prior SeeD missions in defining the game's voice as far as using its visual toolset. The term "cinematic" can be kind of a loaded one when applied to video games, as especially today it calls to mind treatments that have serious medium-envy and reduce the form to imitative process with little of the format's native strengths and possibilities. Everything that happens in Deling City has grand setpiece aspirations which are pulled off without question, but the sequence of events is anything but static for the player to passively observe. The point of view shifts between parties and actors with their individual agendas, and not in a clearly segmented A-B-C manner, but sometimes only briefly for a handful of seconds to keep the many moving parts feeling frenetic according to the tension of the situation. In all these parts, you have the aforementioned integration of environment and FMV, and many ambitious sections where you remain in control of the polygonal characters running atop the environment that's now an interactive video clip. They're a type of storytelling that lives in such a specific frontier of technological expression that time has only made stand out more as it's a practice that's essentially died out. For this moment, it was the development team showing off and integrating techniques from other media into a kind of multimedia expression that actually felt matured from the gimmick that it could otherwise be read as, because removing them from the game would strip away much of the storytelling dynamism available to it. VIII would cease to be the game it is if it wasn't willing to flex the resources it was constructed with, but it's always mindful how to best apply them to serve its purpose, and as a result there is no rote feeling of settling into a rhythm with any of it because it's so wildly inventive every step of the journey.
~~~
At this point the only other thing that's really on my mind is IWILLNEVERLETYOUFORGETABOUTMEBRINGMEBACKTHEREIAMALIVEHERE
but really, when isn't it?
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I was wondering, if you were still playing. Glad to know that you are.

  • once upon a time, the Dollet mission was VIII's demo, and it's not difficult to ascertain why. It's practically nothing but momentum from beginning to end, the great blockbuster play the series had honestly already made and was at this point committed to riding to its destination, catching that pop-cultural wave hard.
Sorry to cut the paragraph short, this just caught my attention. FF VIII really has a spectrum that goes from full-on spectacle (like this mission) to low-key student life (like the concert, after the events on FH, where I'm at). And while this is clearly an eye-catcher, it showcases only one side of the game. And, as much as I like the way you can play around with systems and stats, it is the weaker side, I think. My favourite parts of the game are clearly the character interactions and little things you can do, and I'm very glad that the dungeon-crawling moments, like the prison, are broken up quite often by character scenes.

I can see, how these characters can seem flat (I thought so too, up to this playthrough), but the game offers you so many little insights into their heads, that I can only disagree. There is much to love about all of them. The character work in this game, the moments where they are teenagers first, are my clear favourites. The whole concert sequence is so, so great, I love it. As is the (mentioned, by you) scene, where everyone is grieving for Seifer. Beautiful stuff. I will talk more about the concert, when I do my next write-up, but it really felt like such an important moment in the life of teenagers, when Rinoa says that they might only be together like this now. So they might enjoy it, while they can. I find this moment very powerful, and it spoke to me like few moments in the series have, up to now.
  • I'm unable to have anything but FFII on the brain when thinking of VIII's world--its world map--in comparative thought. It lacks the former's looping geography where the bulk of it is in theoretical walking distance from the beginning, with Balamb serving as a naturally formed tutorialization zone for the game's purposes, so the commonalities that I feel exist aren't so much rooted in exact analogues but an almost imperceptible atmosphere permeating both. The relative scale of them is one factor, where the distances between habitation are vast and the overall population of the world sparse. VIII's world is interesting for its romanticized, rustic-European aesthetic in many places but also for how isolated from each other all the respective regions feel--not only Esthar's intentionally cultivated and maintained mass-scale isolation, but elsewhere too. It's difficult to make judgments like this in the informal language of RPG world map abstraction, but the world feels uninhabitated and bleak outside of the few pockets of civilization in it, where people avoid the wilderness as much as they can outside of those safe zones. The railroad that encompasses the entire Galbadian continent and extends to Balamb or the cars one can rent in the game point to this odd relationship between modernity and fantasy worlds that the game navigates without calling especial attention to it; it's a rare thing to have seen VIII marketed or recommended as a "modern-day RPG" in the way a Mother or a Persona might be, even if they share much in the concepts explored and portrayed. VII's liminality was driven by technological generations and dimensionality, while VIII has no less steep a climb ahead of it, but on a more difficult to path, as it's living on the bleeding edge of world presentation and conceptualization in some ways while putting them across in the traditional language of its heritage that doesn't necessarily apply anymore. Its messaging can feel torn in this sense, as if being unsure as to what to do with itself, in how its world feels to navigate and how downplayed it is in intricacy to what has come before. Rather than a condemnation of how the world is in a vacuum, I think it's more interesting to consider its nature in relation to the game's priorities because they go a long way toward explicating how simplistic and barren it can be, and those answers are in the kind of story the game is and what place setting has in the telling of it. Whatever the case, it feels like the series on the cusp of re-examining its creative paradigm, once again, in the creative restlessness that has always defined it.
The sparseness of the world is one thing that really put me off of the game, when I played it the first two times. It felt so empty, pointlessly empty. I wanted it to be filled with caves and towns, stuff to do. I can't say anything useful about it now, but I'm curious to find out, how I feel about it this time. And what I will get out of it, with regards to what it says about the setting.

At this point the only other thing that's really on my mind is IWILLNEVERLETYOUFORGETABOUTMEBRINGMEBACKTHEREIAMALIVEHERE
but really, when isn't it?
It's really powerful, and grim, and I love it. I'm looking forward to learn more about...Adel, I think?

Thanks for the write-up.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Last time, the team split up, after escaping the desert prison.

There is a short, funny scene, where Squalls group steals a train away from a soldier, who is really doing his best to run along, but ultimately fails. Poor guy.

Then, we switch to Selphies part, and take the car to the missile base. Entering on foot doesn't work, but driving in, dressed as Galbadian soldiers, does. Knowing Selphie, I expected her to just crash through the gate, but she is a professional, in the end.

Inside, we get Selphies great plan, that she came up on the way here: “If there's a door, we go in! If there's anything we can break, we break! And in the end, we blow this place to smithereens”

I like the last part, as does Selphie. But when inside, her plan seems to fail immediately. There is a door. "It's CLOSED!". We need an ID-Card. "We don't HAVE ONE!" Selphie isn't taking this too seriously, is she? Zell finally tells her, to calm down, and Irvine produces an ID-Card from the car.

The great thing about this dungeon is, that we don't have to fight inside. Well, nearly at all, but you can make it through most of it, without raising your weapons, which I always appreciate.

For example, at the first guard, we have to decide how to walk by. Doing it slowly works, even if he complements our parents at raising us well. Which is weird, even in Selphies eyes.

I wrote down, that there is a draw-point for Full-Life in here, which is pretty neat.

In the end, the dungeon is full of little encounters with soldiers, that we could fight, but don't have to. Considering that this game lives as much by it's character interactions as it does by its battle system (I'd say even more so, but that some people only think of it's systems really speaks to the strength of the whole game), I really love when we actually get a chance to have funny conversations instead of just punching everything to death. As much as I disliked the last dungeon, they all have some sort of gimmick, something to make it special, and are often broken up by character scenes. More than any FF before it, and I think also afterwards?

We get access to the missile controles, and can choose a different kind of missile, as well as how big the radius is. The control read, like you can make the missiles just miss, but that is weird and misleading. Instead, you can put in 100%, which means every missile will hit the same, specific spot, or you can turn it down, so the missiles will rain down around that spot. Which we do, hoping that the Garden will not be hit. The best we can do.

But then, we get to the room with the leader of this place, and he finds out that we aren't from here. I guess Selphie uses a flashbomb? Anyway, we fight an easy fight, and then stop the missile launch, I guess? And there is a self-destruct mechanism in here, which, sure, why not. I try the lowest time limit for escape (10 minutes), and take the other door, getting out nearly immediately. A real boss fight follows, which we easily win (it is fun, seeing parts of the machine blow up, as we fight it).

And then, we realize that we are stuck inside. And, to be honest, I don't really get what is happening. I assumed, I had stopped the missile attack, but they were still fired. I mean, I took notes about the room where I fought the soldiers, that we could stop the missiles from here, and actually did it? *shrug*

All snark aside, this is a pretty heavy scene. Selphie and her companions realize, that they can't escape, and expect to die. We switch to an FMV, and see a giant explosion. It is heavy stuff, and if I hadn't known, that letting them die here isn't something the game would do, I would have been really shocked. Probably in a way, that Wisteria described, assuming I had down something wrong, and doomed these three.

There is a nice part, where Irvine thinks Squall puts him on this team, because he didn't believe in him. Which Selphie disagrees to - she knows, that the reason for them being here is the opposite. Squall believed in them, assuming that they would be able to deal with whatever was coming. Which might make the gut-punch of seeing them basically die even worse? But I really love, that Selphie gets it.

And with that, we switch to Squalls team, as they reach the Garden. Where all hell has broken loose, as the faculty members are screaming around like crazy, demanding to know which side we are on, and are just the worst.

Seriously, what is even up with these guys? I assume they aren't the same race as NORG, so, are they just weird, paid humans, who are also extremely loyal to their paying overlord? Are they getting treats? Are they his familiars? Why are they so loyal to NORG, and so behind catching Cid?

I never liked these weirdos, from the start of my first playthrough. Annoying creeps.

There is a nice scene, where we meet up with Raijin and Fujin, who are as confused as we are. And, learning about the missiles, they just help us getting everyone outside.

Squall isn't friends with them. But I like, how they have their priorities straight. More on that later, when they are standing by Seifers side, no matter what. But I like, how we are partners here, working together, and just ignoring the whole "choose a side" nonsense.

There is so much commentary in this, where we try to get everyone away from certain doom, and POLITICS make our work way harder than it would need to be. But, uh, let's not go there more than I just did.

Kadowaki may be a side character, but I really like her. She doesn't care for this "choose a side" garbage, and just treats whoever needs her. Great woman. Which is also true for Xu, who took charge when the whole nonsense started.

In teh training facility, the worst assholes in the game appear. NORG loyalists, who try to, dunno, hurt two little kids, who are protected by a SeeD. I mean, I get that teens can be really dumb, but do they seriously have to go after kids half their size? God, I hate these clowns.

Squall does his cool jump-in thing, where he puts himself inbetween both groups, and we scare the jerks away.

We have to go everywhere, before Xu leads us to Cid. He is hiding in his office, and there was some weird plan, by making everyone believe that Cid was not here. Xu goes away, helping the Jins with the evacuation.

First, Cid doesn't want to tell us his plan (only that he has one). I guess this is the moment, where he accepted Squall as a grown-up, instead of his student - Cid falls down, and the others tell him to tell us what he wants to do. Cid asks, why this is so important to Squall, and we get something that tells us, again, a lot about him.

“(I don't know...Because you might screw up. Because I want to do more than announce the evacuation. Because this place is important to me, too. Because this is my home. I have too many reasons.)"

These are his thoughts. But he doesn't say any of that. We already have a very different Squall here, compared to the beginning of the game. His few of Cid seems pretty low, at least when it comes to competency, but also that he realises that the Garden means very much to him. He can't lose it. He might not be ready to say so, but he knows it by now, at least. He wouldn't have, at the beginning.

All he says is, that his feelings have nothing to do with it. Not that it helps, everyone is looking right through him.

Cids plan is to find a control panel under the Garden, hoping that it might help. As the Garden was once a shelter. That's it, that's the plan. He never was there.

You know, I think Squall is right. Cid isn't quite the right person, to lead a place like this. A regular school would be a way better fit for him. That said, I wished all soldiers had someone who at least tried to make them remember, that they are humans first, killing machines second.

The dungeon isn't interesting, and, for some reason, I only encounter enemies one time in it. The boss fight is just two random, big monsters. Look like nothing, and are just there because dungeons are supposed to have bosses.

Fun fact: In my other two playthroughs, this boss fight was the only one that I lost. First time at each playthrough. Changed my setup, and then it worked. I think, because they stop you from being able to do Limit Breaks? And they seem to do really brutal damage? One time, Rinoa was hit for 2000 damage. At least she contered, by shooting Angelo like a rocket.

I only realized it now, but Angelo is, of course, a more complex version of Interceptor, from FF VI. And, considering that Interceptor can neither make you invincible, nor can be shot like a rocket, from your arm, Angelo is just the better dog.

Still like Interceptor, though. FF dogs are great.

Soon, we are at the control panel, and Rinoa nearly drove me crazy. I press a button. "Do you know what you are doing, Squall?" I press another button. "Do you know what you are doing, Squall?" I press the same button again, because nothing happens. "Do you know what you are doing, Squall?"

Isn't it obvious, that Squall has no idea? I can't even come up with an in-game reason, for Rinoa to act so obnoxious, and asking a question all the time she very well knows the answer for. Maybe you could help? How is Squall supposed to know anything about this machine, that he just learned about existing?

At this point, I realized that also Quistis (and maybe Cid, don't remember if this happens only later) started to constantly ask Squall what they were supposed to do. It got a bit irritating, and seemed like they stopped trying at all, just waiting for Squall to do the right thing. This will change soon, when the Garden can move, but at the moment, I thought Squall showed great skill in dealing with very annoying people.

Just in time, Squall works out what to do, and we see a great FMV. The rockets are closing in, but the Garden starts to change and move, and slowly gets away from the explosions. We can go to a platform, where we see birds flying, and the sky being blue, and just everything being beautiful. After the stress from just now, this was really nice to look at.

Unfortunately, Cid has no idea how to control the thing, and all he can come up with is to whine to Squall, what to do. I mean, seriously, dude. I get that Squall is the leader of Quistis and Rinoa, and that they might look up to him for solutions. But you are 30 years older than him, and the leader of the school. If you don't know what to do, why should he?

Sorry, but I got really annoyed, when everyone just stood around, demanding that Squall save them, and them not doing anything. Well, he presses random buttons, and makes the Garden not destroy Balamb City. At which point we are just slowly drifting over the ocean. We made it, sort-of.

We get downtime. As mentioned before, I love how the game does this. There is no immediate danger, no meteor to destroy us, so sometimes the game just takes a break from the story. I love, how slow it moves most of the times, and how we get so many moments of calm.

But for someone like Squall, who lives too much inside his head, this is bad (I have experience with this myself). He just lies in bed, having a bad feeling about Selphie and how she is doing, and about Edea and Seifer. If he made mistakes. Thankfully, Rinoa appears, asking him to show her around.

It's a sweet scene, where Rinoa makes fun of Squall for doing this little, fun thing in the most serious way possible. I totally get Squall here - she asks him, he gives answers. Sometimes, there would be something in my life (like my first job interview), where my mum would ask me how it was. My answer? Something like "It was fine."

I didn't understand, what she wanted, which I partly blame her for, for making the question so simple. People can, maybe, ask a bit more specific, if they want details. So, I am very sympathetic to Squall. I get Rinoa, and I bet explaining stuff about the cafeteria very seriously would be funny. But she knows Squall. Maybe try to get into his head, and understand that he needs questions that are a bit more clear?

Telling him "Make it more fun" is not helpful, Rinoa. Reminds me of something else: I was never good with people, and talking to someone I didn't know well, was always hard. It still is, but I can now deal with it better. But I had to work it out on my own. Asking "what can I talk about with people" would just show that no one could actually tell me. The general answer was "about anything", which is super unhelpful.

Sorry, I will stop complaining about this now. But I feel like, people are unfair to Squall here. Explain a bit what you want from him, in a way he can understand. People are hard.

Wow, I always knew that I was similar to Squall, but I feel like I'm getting him way too much.

You can walk to all the different areas, and find students just enjoying their time. I really love it. It's like the game is telling us "You had some stressful things happening, take a bit of a break." There is a fun scene in Kadowakis office, where she asks if Rinoa is Squalls girlfriend, and I make him say "Yes". Rinoa is shocked, before I take it back. Made me smile.

But, when getting near the elevator, a faculty member calls us down to the Garden Master. So, these jerks at least settled down.

While it was always clear, that Cid didn't really have control, the Garden Master was never mentioned, until now, was he?

But we follow orders, and meet Quistis, too. We watch, as Cid is thrown out. The conflict that we got bits and pieces of, through the game, is now exploding. Cid wants us, to do our true purpose, and NORG is against it. Cid goes, NORG talks to us.

Oh, NORG is a yellow creature inside a machine. Which didn't irritate me much, but I appreciate that the game thought this through, and we can visit his birthplace, later on.

And now, we finally get some information. That it wasn't Cid, who sent the order to Martine (his subordinate. Huh.) to assassinate Edea, it was NORG. So, Martine actually played us and NORG, using us for the order. So, if we failed (as we did) Balamb and NORG would be blamed.

Not that I have any sympathy for NORG here, he hid behind his subordinate, wanting him to take the blame for his order. I honestly don't blame Martine, NORG is a jerk.

So, he needed us as bargaining chips, so Edea wouldn't be angry at him. Which is the reason, why we ended up in prison, and Irvine stayed free. But this was, apparently, not enough, so he wanted to give Cid to her too.

I honestly didn't remember this info dump to be so interesting, and the conflict here so complex. The only thing I don't like here, is that we never have heard about NORG, up to now. Elsewise, I really like how the game worked up to this, showing a conflict during the whole time, and letting it finally blow up. Well done, game.

We also get another twist: Cid and Edea are married. I did remember that, but it is a nice twist, I think.

At this point, because Squall mentioned that it isn't just NORGs Garden, NORG loses it, and attacks us. It's a bit of a gimmick boss, but nothing too bad. Easy fight, and I didn't forget to draw Leviathan.

You know, I still have trouble here, with the whole "It's not your Garden", that Squall says to NORG. Which probably tells me more about myself than I want to know, because, being the one who paid for the Garden, means, to me, that NORG does have a big say in what is happening here.

Which is awful. Important things are at stake, we have to save the world from tyranny, and that shouldn't have to wait, just because some greedy jerk doesn't see money in it. But, considering that the Garden(s?) wouldn't even exist without his money...dunno. I certainly don't like to side with NORG here, at least a bit.

Also, don't like how NORG would have been totally fine with us trying to kill Edea, if we had been successful. He doesn't stand behind us, at all.

I do find it funny, how the machine closes, and everyone is like "what happened to him?" I was reminded of the line "Did Jet just die?" I mean, considering that we stabbed him multiple times with a sword makes it easy to assume his death, but I find it funny that the game makes it unclear, draws attention to it, and then never touches this point again.

Also, we know now, that the SeeDs, and Squall in particular (I think?) are just puppets. Cid might look nice, but in the end, he raises kids to become weapons. Next thing, he will tell us about him and Edea, and how this was her dream, raising people to fight the sorceresses, and...that's pretty awful.

I also wonder, how does this fit with his whole "don't become soulless killing machines" ethos? Is this just, because this is about Edea? Dunno, how can you raise kids, with the very purpose of making them into specialist fighters, who are suppoed to potentially kill someone, uh, at all? This is bad. I get it, sorceresses are a problem (maybe self-made?), but maybe create machinery instead of making kids into murderers? Or, dunno, did anyone ever try to coexist with them? Maybe they don't become blood-hungry tyrants, if they aren't feeling hunted and hated, all the time?

And Edea, knowing that she is a sorceress and might turn BAD, raised kids, who are then supposed to kill their own mother? That is horrible. Did they use the GFs for that reason? So it wouldn't traumatize THEIR CHILDREN too much? Which is still bad, maybe don't destroy peoples memories, please?

Guys, I hate Cids and Edeas plan. He talks about it, like it is this great, nice plan, with nostalgia, like it will bring world peace, or something. It is horrible, and the more I think about it, the worse it gets.

Small detail, the Garden cost so much, that SeeDs were used for mercenary work. Which basically became the main reason to have SeeDs, for NORG. That said, if they earned the money for the upkeep themselves, why did NORG still have a say? I guess because Cid is likely a horrible business man. Considering his contract with Rinoa, this seems very likely.

Well, that was a bit, so I'll take a break here, again. At the moment, I'm doing sidequests (like killing 20 Tonberries), and just explore the world, so I hope there won't be many more notes added, before I continue.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him + RT/artee)
I love everything about NORG, from his sudden, inexplicable appearance to his just-as-sudden being shelved and forgotten for almost the rest of the game.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Continuing on, a ship is approaching, while we just drift through the ocean. They come on board, without permission, but make it clear that they come in peace, and want to talk with Cid. They call themselves Edeas SeeDs, and are on a Galbadian ship, which both is really weird, considering that Edea lets her soldiers just run around, setting places on fire, to get to the same person these people are.

One thing I forgot: Edea is completely brainwashed, isn't she? Like, is she just a vessel for Adel, at this point? Elsewise, she wouldn't need to find out what the purpose of the SeeDs is, she would already know! Which leads to the interesting conclusion, that we are not dealing with Edea at all, and that Adel has been part of the story for a way longer time, than I always assumed.

I think it's Adel. Don't tell me, I'm curiuos to find out more.

Cid and Xu appear. The other SeeDs say, that it is too dangerous for Ellone here, so they want to get her. Honestly, I agree. They seem to be way better at hiding, and aren't just a sitting duck for an incoming attack (like this one could very well be).

Squall, of course, knows the name (for different reasons than he should), from his time with Laguna. He is tasked with finding her.

Surprise, she is the girl that knew Squall and Quistis, but wasn't remembered by them. And we finally learn, that it's her, who makes us move through time, and ride the conscience of other people. Ellone is talking about changing the past, which shouldn't be possible.

Hmm, while the gameplay implies, that we control Laguna, Kiros and Ward, this doesn't seem to be the case. Considering that, when Squall tried to talk in the last flashback, Laguna only heard a vague voice, there doesn't seem much they can do, back there. They certainly can use their GFs on Laguna and his friends, though. Do they just experience and increase in power and capability?

Squall is more angry, than he ever was during the whole game. Again, he is used as a puppet for something that he never agreed on, in any way. I mean, maybe he did, and he just forgot? Ellone doesn't seem to realize, that he has lost a good part of his memory.

Honestly, Squall is right to be angry here. He grew up, being trained as a human weapon, being made into this by his own father (well, father figure, because his real father isn't here, and I expect Laguna doesn't have an actual good reason for not caring for his son). And now he learns, that someone else is screwing around with his body and mind, for other, nebulous reasons, without any of his consent.

I get it, there is much at stake here. But this still doesn't make it ok to use Squall as a puppet for everything.

So, that means Seifer just decided to change puppet masters, funnily enough to his surrogate mother, instead of his surrogate father (he was in the orphanage, too, right?). There is even more mirroring going on between the two, than I realized.

Aside from that, I feel like this all can be interpreted as a warped version of what a teenager goes through. The whole "I want to be an independant person, and not just a puppet of my parents / society". I mean, even now, he is just treated like a kid, with Cid soon deciding to make him the leader, no matter if he wants to, or not.

But he already showed signs of growing up - after the prison, it was his decision, is very own, what they wanted to do next. And it makes all the difference. To do hard things, but not because you have to, but because you want to.

Well, Xu appears, and Ellone goes with her. But, before going, Ellone tells Squall that he is their only hope. And she goes onto the other ship.

Again, we see Squall spend time in his head, realizing that the whole "I don't need anybody" is nonsense. First, he accepts that he needed someone as a kid. Sure, but now? Well, he has no idea what to do, on his own.

This is a short moment, but I feel like it's pretty important. Squall realizing for the first time that he actually DOES need others, even if he hates the thought.

And then, we see him as a kid, standing alone in the rain, telling his sis the he will be ok, alone. His sis is Ellone, I assume. Even without much context, it is clear that here, he was horribly hurt by people he trusted, which made him lose the will to depend on others, so that he would never be hurt again.

Man, I feel for Squall.

Thankfully, he has friends. Rinoa appears, wanting him to go for a walk with her, just so he gets out of his own head. But, of course, Cid makes an announcement, being happy that he can, again, and then screams. It's really funny, how we switch to this lonely, calm fisherman, who is scared away by this giant monstrosity, that is floating his way.

At least, the Garden finally stopped moving.

Squall is called into Cids office. But, while he gets an order (apologize to the mayor of Fishermans Horizon for the destruction), this is about getting outside a bit, getting to know people, and simply relax. No fighting intended, this should just be a way for Squall to get out of his head a bit.

And, again, I can't imagine that the game isn't talking to the player a bit. Yeah, there are bad things happening, but you should enjoy the downtime, when you can. Generally, enjoy your time. Get to know people, and cultures. And maybe don't just focus on your main quest, but explore and get to know the world. There is side content, fun stuff, try it. Don't focus on just doing the story.

Don't just play video games. Sure, do, save the world, but also, go outside.

Outside, we are greeted. After we tell them, that we come in peace, we are welcomed into the city. We learn about Esthar, that it seems to be nearby. I wonder, if I can already get there, with my moveable Garden. Will find out, after writing.

FH is an interesting place, very calm, very enjoyable, but also seems a bit like a dump? Like, it looks a bit like parts of the island are built out of metal garbage. Or maybe the whole? The thing is an artificial island, right?

We do as we were asked, exploring a bit, but finally talking to the mayor. Who doesn't do smalltalk - we are to leave again. He may seem harsh, but I get him. We crashed into his island, and we are military, something he doesn't agree on. We may bring trouble. He even offers is technicians, to help us, but he wants us gone.

I mean, we are intruders. It is perfectly within his right, to tell us to go, and I feel like it is actually pretty nice, that he understands that we might have to ask someone about brining in technicians. Honestly, I feel like he isn't really a jerk about anything here. Just wants his peace.

By the way, I love that his house is in the middle of a solar(?) dish. Looks pretty great.

I'm also with Squall - he facepalms, when Rinoa asks WHY we are supposed to go again, as soon as possible. It's none of our business. It's perfectly fine, not to want strangers inside ones city. Especially military. And still, the mayor actually explains his reasoning.

Before I go, I find and use my first Ultima draw point. At this point, I wondered what Draw Points actually are. Are they similar to Mako, places where the energy of the planet is particularly strong, and someone like a SeeD can get a certain kind of magic out of it? I don't think this is ever explained, but the comparison sprang to mind immediately.

When going back to the Garden, Galbadian soldiers appear. Flo, the mayors wife, tells us that it's our fault. Which doesn't seem to be the case, actually. We soon learn, that they are looking for Ellone. If it had been about us, they would have just attacked the Garden, instead of the city.

So, Edea is just sending her soldiers out at random, looking everywhere for that girl, and burning places to the ground, where she doesn't find her. It's just, well, actually good luck for FH, that we are here at the same time. Elsewise, the place would be destroyed, and everyone would die.

The mayor doesn't want us to do anything, while Flo screams at us to stop the soldiers, as she thinks we are at fault. But the mayor just wants to talk to the Galbadians.

Fittingly, there are random encounters here, now. I do like, how the game turns these save zones, cities, into danger zones, when it makes sense, from a plot point of view. Especially with the ability to just turn them off, whenever you want (which, granted, you might not have, but still). It's such a nice change of how JRPGs work. I do focus on story in my posts, but the way this game changes up the gameplay, is really great.

Square realized here, way before FF XIII, that buying new equipment is often just busywork, so this is nearly cut out. And maybe the player should decide, if they want to fight or not. So we get Enc-None, if we just want to enjoy the story.

Is this the reason, why the monsters level with us? So that we can turn off random encounters, without being underleveled if we change our minds? I guess it is at least part of the reasoning here.

Talking to the soldiers doesn't work, of course, and we come just in time to save him. Well, we come way earlier, but Squall listens in until the last second, which Quistis even comments on. I love how selfaware this game is.

We do fight the soldiers, who are no problem, but then fight against the same machine that Selphie fought against, in the missile base. No repairs, just in the same, nearly destroyed state. No problem, either, of course.

I love the next scene, where that thing slowly drives backwards, and then falls into the water. And, surprise, Selphie, Zell and Irvine aren't dead.

Another big moment here - Squall calls out "Hey, Selphie" and doesn't hide how happy he is, to see them again. "It's great to see you guys." Rinoa comments on it, and I straight-up let Squall say, that he simply was happy to see them again. Matter of fact. I love how Squall grows and grows, over the course of the game. Great character.

There is a last bit with the mayor, who acknowledges that we saved him, but doesn't thank us for it. And Squall explains his views on the whole thing. That sometimes you have to fight. Even if the world would be a better place if that weren't the case.

I mean, he is right. Even if you don't fight, you need at least a good defense, so that it is costly for others to attack you. Talking doesn't help, if the other side simply doesn't want to listen.

Perfectly honest, for such a smart game, this seemed a bit simplistic.

When getting back to the Garden, Irvine tells us to talk to Selphie. The stage is ruined, and she feels down. We can decide to cheer her up, or let Irvine do it. Doing it myself, of course, which does cheer her up. Selphie is beyond herself, to see Squall be sensitive here. Which leads her to the conclusion, that she must look really depressed.

This is really funny, but not the end of it. Squall, of course, starts to question this, why she is surprised. I fell him. The urge not to tell "obvious" stuff is sometimes hard to fight. But thinking about it, I feel like this is often something I would like to say, but don't, because I don't want to make myself vulnerable. "It's obvious" is not necessarily a lie (though it often is), but it's an excuse. Generally speaking, of course.

Selphie immediately calls him out on it, that he is again going back into his head, keeping everyone else out. At least she feels better, though, and Squall leaves the rest up to Irvine. Who has a thing now for Selphie, and tries to make his move. Still don't like it.

Squall reports to Cid, who decides that it is time, to fight Edea, as she is now going hard on the offensive.

Cid wonders, if Edea is behind Ellone, because of the sort-of time travel ability. Which indicates that each sorceress has different capabilities and strength. This is interesting, especially together with this idea, that each woman has some magical abilities, and only some are strong enough to be a sorceress (sorry, forgot who brought that up, and I hope I remember it correctly).

Cid announces this, while we see everyone directly respond to it, which is pretty cool. He also mentions, that Squall will be the leader who, of course, hasn't been asked, if he actually wants to have this position. He does tell Cid, angrily, that it is not his destiny.

With more and more pressure on Squall, his shell starts to break. I still think he has a right to be angry, that he has been used for so long, by someone he trusted.

With this, I'll leave it for now, and talk next time about the concert, and doing everything but going back to Balamb.
 
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