Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy VIII (SquareSoft, 1999; Playstation): Issue #007: Last Train to Dollet

Why did I not know the song I'm referencing in the title was by the Monkees?

Still, I guess it's somehow fitting that it would be, all things considered.

Anyway, when we left off last time, Squall and crew were on their way out of the Timber television studio. The lady who let Squall look out her upstairs window meets the party in the bar and tells everyone to come hide out in her house while the Galbadian soldiers do their sweep in search of the gang who tried to off the president during his televised speech. On the way there, I did go into the Timber Maniacs building to get the nudie magazine for Zone. It's kind of like the Lute in the original game in that we won't be needing it for awhile, but it'll be handy to get it now, while we've got the chance.

While we wait for the soldiers to complete their search and pull out, there's some discussion about what exactly happened to Seifer. Squall thinks there's a good chance he's dead, while the others are more optimistic about his chances. Rinoa's almost insanely so. Along the way, there's also mention of everybody being tired. If they mean depressed, I would think so, given all the screwing up they've been doing so far.

Some soldiers come by, so the lady goes to the door while her daughter sends the party upstairs to hide. The daughter says not to worry because her mom can throw the soldiers with her legendary charm, cooking, and beauty. Selphie makes a smart remark, and I can't remember if the daughter has a reply to that, because I just breezed through it thinking “Fuck you, too, Selphie.” After all, this nice woman is risking her life to save the party, and somebody's mouthing off about her looks? Really?

While they wait it out upstairs, Squall and Rinoa have words because, while Squall does have a point about how Seifer's probably going to wind up dead for damn near lopping off President Deling's head on live, global television, he also seems to forget that they had a little encounter with the Sorceress, who must be Taelon or something, because when she dragged Seifer off by the balls, it seemed to be by way of an Inter-Dimensional Portal, and we don't really know where either of them are right now.

Once the soldiers have gone, the lady and her daughter call the party back down so they can help plan the party's next move. Since all the trains, save for one last one to Dollet, have been stopped, they can't go back to Balam Garden. The good news, though, is that there are other Gardens, and they're at least networked well enough that actual SeeD employees can go to any of them to check in if something prevents them from reporting directly to the one they're officially based out of. Better yet, there's one conveniently located on the way to Dollet. All the party has to do is hop the last train, get off at a stop partway to Dollet and then hoof it through some woods to get there.

Of course, just when you think things are going smoothly, we're thrown into another dream sequence with Laguna, Ward and Kiros. This time, they're lost on a patrol mission in someplace called Cetra, run by somebody called the Eshtar. They wind up running around in a mine or something, where there are little things they can do that can potentially help Squall and the others when they wind up going there later in the game, when the place is called Lunatic Pandora, I believe the name will be. I'm not sure I'll get there, but I got my old paper-bound strategy guide for the game to see where all the things were so I could do them, just in case.

There are some interesting monsters in there. There are two kinds of Eshtar soldiers, human and cyborg; some 790-style robots called Gespers; and some weird spider-like creatures with four legs and spheres in the middle. The soldiers can't be turned into cards, but the others can. The Gesper cards can be turned into Black Holes. Beyond teaching Quistis a blue magic move called Degenerator, I'm not sure what they do or are good for.

And naturally, things really go badly for Laguna and crew here, too. There's a boss fight at the end. Laguna comes through OK, but Ward and Kiros get taken down to one health when the last soldier of the troop does something called Soul Crush on them.

Worse than that, the damage carries over to Selphie and Quistis, who were along with Squall in the dream this time. Fortunately, I'm familiar enough with the game to be aware of that and heal them up before moving on. It's not much farther to the garden we're supposed to report to, called Galbadia Garden. Just gotta head left the first opportunity we get. Of course, there's still time to get in a fight along the way, and Selphie and Quistis will wind up toast if they don't get healed before any potential fights.

Since we're right at the doorstep of Galbadia Garden, this is where I'll stop for now. As I've been doing in previous issues, I'll wrap this up with a few thoughts and questions.

Gotta say, I still like Laguna and his crew more than I do the regular characters. As I've said before, it may be because we spend less time with them, but I find them less annoying than the main party. They also seem to have a much better group dynamic than the main party. They actually get along like they're friends, buddies, even, in spite of being platoon-mates.

Another thing that really helps is that Laguna's battle theme, The Man With The Machine Gun, is what I generally consider my favorite single piece of music in the series, at least of the parts of it I've personally played.

One thing I do have to wonder, of course, is something that Spoony brought up in his review. If Galbadia Garden was so close, and is linked closely enough with Balam Garden that it can be used as a checkpoint for SeeD Agents, why didn't Rinoa just go there to hire the mercenaries? After all, next issue, we'll be seeing that such a thing would have been possible. Was it because she knows Seifer somehow? If so, how do they know one another, and why does Rinoa think that would be an advantage? So many questions, not a lot of decent answers, at least not yet, and I'm not sure if that changes at some point. Perhaps I'll be able to find that out as I go. After all, these Text Plays have helped me finish games I'm not sure I would have otherwise, and this may be the same.

But for now, it's late, so I'll wrap this up and get to that later.

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