Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy VIII (SquareSoft, 1999; Playstation): Issue #003: Celebration Time

That's right, folks, Squall's got a graduation party to go to! Now, I'm not much of a partier myself, but hey, it's one of those things where the school's paying for drinks and decent food for a change, so why the hell not, right? Zell wants to talk to Squall a bit, and Squall just blows him off. Granted, I don't think I'd be able to take much of Zell either, but at least I could give him a little chit-chat at a company event, since we'd be coworkers and all. Selphie wants Squall to join the Garden Festival committee. At least we're given the chance to do that. Might as well say yes so we can have one or two good marks on Squall's resume', right?

And then there's this chick in a white dress who wants to dance with Squall because she thinks he's cute. We'll later find out that this is Rinoa, but that's going to be next issue. I suppose she's not bad looking, for a young Asian woman. Nothing against them or anything, mind you, it's just not an aesthetic I care for. Personal preference, you understand. So, when Squall tells her he doesn't want to dance, I can understand why he wouldn't want to. Plus, there's the fact that he says, quite truthfully, that he can't dance. I get that, too. I can't dance for shit, either, though I might be slightly better at it than Squall. Luckily, he does get his crap together for the second half of the dance. There's even a couple bottle rockets fired off at the end of the dance. It's just too bad that all of this came as a result of Rinoa not taking no for an answer when she was asking Squall to a dance. I actually kind of like women who are a little more assertive, so long as they know when to cool it.

After the fireworks, Rinoa sees someone and runs off. Squall steps out on a balcony for some air. Quistis comes out to have a word with him. Turns out, Squall's slightly worse at carrying on a conversation than I was at that same relative age, and that's saying something. Quistis has come to give Squall one last order, after commenting on his dance earlier. I might not be much of a conversationalist, but at least I know how to take a damned compliment with some grace.

Anyway, Quistis's order is for Squall to change back into his street clothes and meet her at the Garden's training center. I don't think I mentioned that area of the Garden before. It's full of monsters so we can learn how the various controls and stuff work. By now, we've got a Guardian Force that has the “Status Junction” ability, so we get a tutorial on that. Essentially, the goal is to put sleep magic on Squall's attack and use it as an advantage against a monster in the training center called T-Rexaur.

This is a prime example of a few of the negatives I was talking about before. Because I'd not yet run into any enemies with sleep magic, I had to get some from somewhere. The good news is that there's a plant monster in the gym hat has some, so I stocked up to have 100 to give to Squall and bind to his attack. Yeah, it's a tedious thing to do, but a necessary thing, in this case.

It's necessary because, well, as I was saying last time, the monsters in this game level with Squall, and some of them can be damn near impossible to beat if his level is too high. The T-Rexaur is one of them. The son of a bitch I ran into right after the plant monsters was only at level ten and had damn near 15,000 life points and really high defense. I tried to keep it asleep as much as I could while spamming Shiva and what few other strong attacks I had available, and the damned thing still wound up killing Squall. Would have been nice if I could have finished it off, especially since I was pretty close. Actually finishing the job bumps Squall's salary up to the next notch in the schedule, and trust me, the couple thousand extra gold per paycheck really comes in handy.

Our destination this time is a secret area in the training center where students and SeeD members go to have private discussions in company after-hours. Basically, Quistis wants to confide in Squall after having pretty much getting fired as an instructor. At least she has the composure to explain herself without being asked, because Squall couldn't be bothered to do that. As I said earlier, I may not be much of a conversationalist, but at least my social skills are slightly better than his. Guess I do have a few things to thank my parents for after all, because I'd at least have heard her out without being a dick about it. And my wrap-up would be that I didn't know how to help her, but if she wanted me to try, to come find me.

The good news, though, is that she's now just a regular member of the SeeD organization. She'll be dealing with some doubt issues over having gotten sacked from her teaching job, but that was as much the company as it was her. After all, one would think a for-profit organization like SeeD might know better than to make a 17-year-old a teacher, regardless of their other hiring practices.

On the way out, we hear a scream by the entrance and see the chick who talked to Squall in the school's medical bay. She's being attacked by a bee monster who has three minions with it. This foursome has Blind, Shell, and Protect magic, all of which I need to stock up on, even if it's hard to draw. I don't have much of it, but then, I never really use it, either. The strategy I use is to take out the three minion beasts first and then the big bee thing.

Once the fight's over, a pair of garden workers come and escort the nicely dressed lady out. We still don't know who she is, how she knows the characters, or what she's doing at Balam Garden. But we do know she knows who the other characters are..

This is one of those things where I really do have to agree with Spoony's review of the game, from back in 2007. Here's this mercenary organization who's got this training center full of wild, man-eating beasts to fight, and anybody, be they student, staff member, or client, can just wander on in there, regardless of if they're armed or experienced in combat. More evidence that SeeD must just like getting people killed for the hell of it, I guess.

After the fight, Squall contends that everybody should just be able to take care of themselves all the time. Quistis says that's not true. And she's right. Or at least, I would think so, because even an unsociable guy like me knows that he needs people around to help him sometimes.

But for now, Quistis and Squall part ways, with Squall going back to his quarters. Along the way, Zell shows up to tell Squall that they've all got their own rooms in the dorm now, and Sqall's is right across the hall from his old place. And it looks like somebody already moved all his stuff for him, too.

After getting a little sleep, Squall wakes up to hear a knock on his door and a voice telling him it's time to get their first mission. He's to get his gear and report to the front gates.

And that's where we'll pick up next time. Until then, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA.

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