Thursday, July 17, 2014

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy VIII (SquareSoft, 1999; Playstation): Issue #006: Timber Television

So, basically, we're on our way back to Timber, and the plan is that we're going to go take the Timber television station. That's about the extent of it. We're just going to go charging in there, on foot, to take the studio by force.

Well, okay, it's not that simple. Because the whole town's on lockdown as a result of our attempt to kidnap the president that we only just now fucked up, we're going to have to hoof it on over to the TV studio, which is conveniently located behind the offices of Timber Maniacs magazine. I'd suggest that Timber Maniacs is the local visitors' bureau book that's handed out free to tourists in most businesses, but given the other weirdness we've seen, it's more likely to be a propaganda tract like the Anarchist Monthly was on the train.

Fortunately, Timber is a relatively small town, with not much going on, aside from the invasion. I did a little exploring, and found the hotel and what passes for the weapons shop. The hotel's all booked up because our buddy Vinzer's in town and apparently the whole damned hotel is the presidential suite here. The weapons shops in this game are kind of an odd bird because they function on a neat idea that was carried over to Final Fantasy IX. We'll be needing the shitload of items the monsters drop to upgrade our weapons, but in order for those upgrades to actually appear in the shops, we need to also have used a magazine item called Weapons Monthly. I've heard said that it can be done by just having the items in your inventory and the money to pay for it, but that was something I read on the Internet, so take from that what you will.

The idea actually works a bit better in the next game, because it tends to rely on modifying weapons and items the party doesn't have to go very far out of its way to get or would have anyway. Granted, it also requires having a rather large quantity of things that we'd previously not needed to have more than one or two of sometimes, but luckily, Final Fantasy 9 continues the trend of flooding the inventory with things pretty much right from the first random battle that started here in FF8. And I still haven't done my article on the whole drop rate thing, have I?

But anyway, back to the task at hand. As the Timber Owls' train pulls into the station, we're given a cutscene where a Galbadian officer is in a briefing with a squad of soldiers. It seems they know what we look like and have sufficient cause to bring us in for questioning. The soldiers are all gung-ho about doing exactly that and are only too happy to be aggressive about it. The officer, on the other hand, at least has a plan. Even though I know the soldiers are trying to do what's right, it would have been a bit smarter to stick around and hear the officer out instead of just running off and asking everybody in town if they've seen us. I suspect the officer had a plan to set a trap for us, just in case we were actually dumb enough to do exactly what we're being dumb enough to do. As is, though, the soldiers have given the resistance a good chance to warn us off. Not like it'll do either side any good, because there are random battles with the Galbadians here.

Since I've got the Card command equipped to Selphie and it lets us win battles without getting experience, I thought I'd try it on the troops. Turns out, it doesn't work, apparently because the soldiers and officers are all human. That's odd, because I could swear we win cards of them after battles, and I know there are some high-level cards of specific characters, too.

And I think I might have fucked up a time or two here. One time is that if you head past the hotel, away from the train station, there's a little scene where there's a pair of Galbadian officers bullying a pair of Timer militiamen. If you approach, Rinoa gets pissed enough to start a fight with them after one of the Timber guys tells the officers off. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I did it and rescued them.

The other is that you've got the option of going into the Timber Maniacs headquarters before heading on to the TV studio. I think there are a few things to be had in there, though, I don't know how important they are. I know there's like a porno mag in there that the party can't read, but if we keep it and give it to Zone and Watts later, they'll help us with something. But since I didn't do that, I'll have to see if I can get it on my way out of Timber, since I did the whole studio thing already.

I know where the entrance to the studio is and how to get there, but folks on the street tell us to go talk to a lady who lives with her kids in the house next to the Timber Maniacs office. The lady tells us we can go look into an alleyway that leads to the studio from the upstairs bedroom. She's got two kids, little boys, I presume, up there who try to scam us out of ten gold for looking out the window by saying they need the money to feed a cat who sleeps on the bed all the time. The mother swats their asses for it, and one of them whines about how they're not asking a thousand gold for it any more, and then says we don't have to pay.

To actually get into the alleyway, we have to go through a bar that's on a lower level. Outside the bar, a pair of Galbadian soldiers are bragging about how they'd horked a playing card from some drunk guy in there. One at least has the good sense to say that maybe they shouldn't do that so much because the people of Timber already hate them enough as it is. When they see us, they decide to take us on, and of course, get the crap kicked out of them. After they go down, Squall finds the card and picks it up.

Once inside the bar, there's a loud drunk guy going on about how it's the resistance's fault that he's stuck there and drunk off his ass because he can't get on a train and go home to Dollet. I don't know if the trains in this game are like most forms of mass transport in our own world. My understanding is that most such things in the real world won't let you get on if you're that drunk, so it wouldn't have mattered that nothing was running anyway.

There's a couple ways of getting past him. One is to observe what he's drinking and buy him one or two more, but I've never been able to do that successfully, so I just try to give the man his card back, because it's a crappy one if you're going to be serious about the card minigame. But because he's still only just barely sober enough to appreciate your honesty, he'll let you keep the card and give you another before having the barkeep drag him away from the door.

In the back alley, there's another drunk guy who says something about boxes, but it doesn't make sense. I guess we can move them and find a draw point or something. Past there is the actual studio complex.

On the front outside wall of the studio is a big ol' jumbotron. I guess it kind of makes sense that it would be switched on right now, since our good buddy Vinzer is going to be doing a broadcast soon. When we first see it, though, it's just showing static, apparently the interference that's been blocking all over-the-air broadcasting for 17 years. If Galbadia's got a way of overcoming that, hell, they could take over the world the same way Microsoft sort of has: by licensing the hell out of it and selling it to anyone and everyone who wants it, because let's face it, over-the-air communications are really kind of something important, and more than a little handy to have in quite a lot of situations.

And then Rinoa goes and has an attack of intelligence when she realizes that holy shit, the president of Galbadia's in there and he's got armed guards up the ass with him, which means that charging straight the hell in might be kind of dumb. It helps that Watts shows up and reminds her of this, of course. Yeah, they think of it now, after we're like three quarters or four fifths of the way to the studio.

And then, on top of that, Rinoa and Squall get into an argument about this, because he rightly can't stand the fact that the Forest Owls don't seem to have three brain cells amongst them, and she's all upset because she doesn't get that she hired a team of mercenaries who get paid to just do whatever their clients say.

Of course, it turns out that it's kind of a moot point, because Seifer managed to break out of whatever kind of cell he was in back at Balam and sneak past not only us but all the Galbadian security people, too. He makes his presence known when he takes out a couple guards and then manages to grab ahold of our buddy Vinzer and hold his gunblade to the president's neck just as he announces that somebody called the Sorceress will be his representative at a world peace conference.

Turns out that Quistis had been tasked with bringing Seifer back to the klink, so she's there, too, and tells us to get to the studio and help her.

As if this whole thing wasn't enough of a mess, when we get there, Zell and Seifer get into it, and they spill the beans about most of us being from Balam Garden. The president says he's going to have his army crush Balam. Seifer drags him off the set, and we see the Sorceress for the first time. She convinces Seifer to let the president go and then all but literally drags Seifer off by the balls, telling him that he's just a scared little boy and she can help him with that.

Once all that's said and done, Rinoa shows back up after having run off in a hissyfit after her argument with Squall. On the way out of the studio, she asks Squall and the others to take her someplace safe because, at least for a moment, she realizes that she's gone and fucked her own cause right up the ass. It may not be irredeemably so, but we'll get to that next time, because this has gone on far too long, and given my usual writing time, I'm well past my bedtime again, so I need sleep.

But worry not, dear friends, I'll be back before long, because our friends the Forest Owls and their SeeD companions have only just begun to derp on us. Until then, join me in getting a little shuteye, won't you?

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