Friday, August 1, 2014

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy VIII (SquareSoft, 1999; Playstation): Issue #008: COBRA!

Our heroes aren't exactly GI Joes, but they're not exactly Cobra members, either.

Before I actually went into Galbadia Garden after getting there last time, I got Ifrit the ability to junction elemental magic to defense, since I almost had that. Got a few more monster cards and some float and zombie magic from one of the monsters. Also refined some zombie spells from some magic stones I had. Then I finally got on with the story.

I must admit, the physical structure of Galbaida Garden looks a lot like a snake of some kind, most likely a rattler or a cobra. Unlike Balam Garden, which has just people running all over hell, the Galbadia branch is rather quiet and orderly. In fact, the opening cutscene of the place has hoverbikes and other mechanized hardware flying around more than people.

As the party enters, Rinoa comments on how different it is, and Squall says he likes it. Quistis says she's been here on assignment a few times, so she'll go in on her own to talk to the headmaster, a guy called Martine, who we'll get to meet in a bit. The rest of the party is told to wait in a room on the second floor while Quistis has her meeting.

While Squall and the others wait, they start talking about Seifer, wondering if he's even still alive after what happened in Timber. Valid concerns, of course, because when the Sorceress took him, they had pretty much disappeared to points unknown. It becomes apparent that Rinoa even has feelings for him.

When Quistis comes in from her meeting, she says that Seifer is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, dead because the Galbadian government caught him, tried him, and executed him after deciding that he and he alone was responsible for what he did in Timber. I'll give them aces for having been quick about it. Almost too quick, really, when one takes the time to think about it. After all, since the Sorceress took him off into space and time, there's been no way of knowing where to even start looking for Seifer, and now here's Quistis, not even a day later, far as I can tell, telling us that he's already been tried and executed for his crime. What did the Galbadians do, just start shooting all the people they could find that even kind of looked like Seifer on sight in hopes that one of them would be the right guy?

And really, how did Headmaster Martine know about that so he could tell Quistis? Like I said, all of this seems to have happened in the span of about 24 to 36 hours, tops, far as I can tell. I know it's supposed to be a game, a story, fiction, but that's the thing about fiction: it needs to be believable on some level to be truly enjoyable. Making something like Seifer's execution happen the way it does in this game keeps it from being believable enough to make sense. It's like me randomly picking up the apple I've got on my desk right now, tossing it out the door of my computer room and somehow hitting my dad with it. Not entirely impossible, I suppose, but since we're in entirely different houses, in entirely different parts of town right now, actually doing it is extremely unlikely, and any claims that I can or have done such a thing would be rather difficult to believe.

Rinoa breaks down when she hears the news that Seifer's dead. She says she met and developed a crush on the guy when she met him at the age of 16, and at least on her end, it developed into something more. What it is exactly, she doesn't know, in part because she apparently never got around to asking Seifer how he felt.

Quistis suggests that perhaps this wasn't as noble a sacrifice as Rinoa seems to think. I agree, because it's hard to tell exactly what's going on inside the mind of somebody like Seifer. Maybe he was doing it to be a kill-crazy soldier like he was at the beginning of the game. Or maybe it was love after all that drove him to do the crazy shit he did. But it seems too late to know for sure.

Selphie and Zell are also shocked by what seems to have happened. They, along with Quistis, all have opinions about the guy. Selphie didn't really know him that well and doesn't have much to say. Zell says he hated the guy but didn't want him to die like that. Quistis has the weirdest opinion of the guy. She says he was very troubled but nice. Given what we've seen of Seifer thus far, it's kind of like saying that I'm physically fit for a morbidly obese guy. I suppose there's an argument for that if you know where and how to look, but watching me engage in much physical activity can very easily prove why those conditions don't really belong together in that sense.

Squall takes it all in and decides that he doesn't like what he's hearing. It's not because he had any particular fondness for Seifer, really. It's more that everybody's talking about him in the past tense, and Squall doesn't want that happening to him. I understand why, of course, because I've been that age. And, of course, there's no good reason to think Seifer's dead just yet, just as there's no good reason to think he's still alive, either. All the arguments I made above could go either way.

When the others ask Squall what's going on with him, he says he won't have people talking about him in the past tense and runs out of the room, presumably to head for the exit. Gotta love those angsty teenaged outbursts. But at least he does have a point. This group of young people is learning what death is all about in one of the hardest ways possible.

On his way out, Squall runs into Seifer's entourage, Raijin and Fujin. Since Raijin is the one who speaks in full sentences rather than just shouting one word at a time, he explains that he and Fujin had been dispatched by Headmaster Cid to deliver new orders to Squall and the others. They don't know exactly what those orders are, but they know enough to realize that it was sort of a lucky break that the trains didn't go all the way to Timber, because everybody was just supposed to meet at Galbadia Garden anyway. With that, the pair say that they're going to go off to Galbadia to look for Seifer. That's kind of non-specific. Kind of like me just saying that I'm going to go to Canada to look for the relatives I've got up there. Sure, it does narrow things down quite a bit, but it's still a third of North America, more or less, so that's still a lot of ground to cover.

Once Raijin and Fujin have gone, there's an announcement of the loudspeaker that says the party needs to assemble at the Garden's front gate to get their new mission from Headmaster Martine. Apparently, Martine's in worse shape than I am, because he needs to get a car and drive to the front gate for this. The new mission is a joint one between Galbadia and Balam Gardens: execute a sniper hit on the Sorceress. It's something that none of the current party members can do, so Martine sends his best sharpshooter along with us to do it. This is our sixth and final main party member, a guy named Irvine Kinneas. He's the top marksman at Galbadia, and therefore the best man for the job. He's also a bit of a womanizer, but that's not something I ever really saw much of in the game. I more remember how he's going to lock up when the pressure's on him.

And this is the point where the whole story really starts to fall apart, in my opinion. It's like I said in that DeviantART piece I referenced in an earlier chapter. This is where we really do run into a character that should recognize at least some of the others. After all, Quistis says she's visited Galbadia Garden before, even though she's based out of Balam. So even if there aren't the errant childhood memories getting in the way, one would think that Quistis or Irvine might recognize the others, sort of like how I might recognize somebody from one of the other two locations the burger chain I work for has where I live, in that I might remember having worked with them before even if I don't know them well enough to call them by name when I see them.

So now our mission is to go to Galbadia's capital, Deling City, to connect with somebody called General Carroway and do the hit we've been assigned to do. We'll need to take a train to get there, but fortunately, Squall's paycheck came in while we were waiting around. Turns out, whatever I was doing got Squall's salary level up to seven so now he's getting 5000 gold. Another thousand isn't much, just as before, but it also adds up a little quicker, too. At the very least, we'll still have a couple grand left over for supplies or weapon upgrades when we get to Deling City.

But that's a trip and adventure for next time. Until then, here's the season eight themesong to MST3K to play us out. See you soon, friends.

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