Tuesday, December 2, 2014

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy VIII (SquareSoft, 1999; Playstation): Issue #020: A Point Of Reconsidering

This is the part of the game I was talking about in that early Looking Back article I've mentioned a time or two.

Now, since I'm writing about it with it fairly fresh in my mind this time instead of after not having played it in several months, if not years, I find that I was somewhat in error when I wrote that piece. The gist of what I was getting at still rings true, but I'll count this as something of an amendment to the original article.

When I started up this time, I had some idea of where I was supposed to be, but given the way the camera works in this game, actually getting to what's left of Trabia Garden can be a bit of a challenge. Granted, it was not for nothing, as I did wind up having plenty of time to stock up on magic, get some new cards, items, and abilities for the Guardian Forces I've got, and even a new bit of Blue Magic for Quistis.

One thing I like about the Origins rerelease of the first two Final Fantasy games is that it gives us a chance to change the zoom on the map, which really would have come in handy. Part of the reason I had so much time to get all that stuff is because I was kind of lost because I was having trouble reading the map right.

Once we got there, Selphie naturally wanted to go right in at the first possible place and moment to do so. After all, she's got friends in there, some of whom might be pretty close ones. She goes running off to the main courtyard to catch up with some of them, while the rest of the party, including the ones who weren't active party members, follow a ways behind. When they find Selphie again, she tells them that she wants to talk to her friends and that they should wait for her on the old basketball court.

As one would expect, Trabia Garden's all busted up from the missile attack, so part of what Selphie's doing is making sure everybody's OK. While the others wait, they get to chit-chatting about how it sucks that they couldn't have stopped the missiles from hitting here, too. Rinoa says she's starting to have second thoughts about what she's doing now that she knows what fighting and war are really all about. Just then, Selphie shows back up and says she wants to kick the Sorceress's ass for what's going on. Rinoa admits she doesn't understand how that is and is unsure if she can continue.

Squall tries to tell her that she's stronger than she may think, because Rinoa was the leader of the only resistance cell in Timber that had bothered to try doing anything while the other cells just talked about it. The guy does make a good point, for a change.

Thing is, though, Irvine's the talker in this game, and he's got this little speech to give about how he believes in predestination, and it's all fate that the six of them specifically are the ones who will defeat the Sorceress. He starts his story by talking about being in an orphanage at the age of four or so and how he was always trying to impress one or two of the little girls there. Turns out that the little girls were Selphie and Quistis, who instantly point out that he could have brought this up at any time before. Hell, he probably wouldn't have had to make that much of an effort to do it, given the ease with which the memories started coming back once Irvine actually started his story.

Basically, this part of the story is about how not only Irvine, Selphie and Quistis grew up at this orphanage, but so did Zell, Squall and Seifer, although Seifer's working for the Sorceress now. When they get all that hashed out, they realize that they all remember who the Matron at the orphanage was, too. Her name? Edea Kramer.

I wish I could say this was a surprise, but it really wasn't that much. Sure, we might not have known that Edea was the head gal at the orphanage, but we knew she was the sorceress, and also Cid's wife and co-founder of the Garden system to boot. The only reason we didn't know about the orphanage thing until now is because, well, this is the first we've heard of the orphanage.

As the conversation progresses, they realize that using the Guardian Forces kinda-sorta swiss cheeses their memories, which is why Irvine's the only one who could remember much about the orphanage business until he brought it up. Worse yet is that the five orphans in the party now also know they're going to have to take out their mother figure if they want to save the world.

Their decision is about the only one they could have made and still held on to any semblance of the game as it has been this far, so regardless of if it's predestination or free will, they're committed to the course of using Guardian Forces and eventually killing their childhood nanny.

One thing I will admit I did get wrong in my 2009 piece is the part where I at least implied that the party was going to look for Edea to get hugs from her. Turns out, that's not exactly the case. They're actually trying to find the orphanage so they can maybe find clues there as to what's really going on.

There's something about this part of the game that just puts me out of it, doesn't sit well with me. Maybe this is the first game I've ever played that's got a part that's meant to make me think like this. If that's what the goal was, then mission accomplished, I suppose, though perhaps not in the way the developers had intended.

The best way to explain this is to say that in the course of writing this chapter, I skimmed through my Facebook friends to see how many high school friends and classmates I've got friended. It seemed like somewhere in the area of two-thirds of the ones I could find quick have ultimately not moved any further away from our home town than I have, which means that I could potentially run into them and talk about the old days. Hell, I even work with with one of them, a fellow named Derrick, at my day job. Pretty much the same shift an everything. I bet if we got to shooting the shit for ten minutes, one of us would wind up mentioning something from high school. For example, that I was in the business club my senior year and was involved with a handful of related fund raisers.

My point here is that we're people. We talk to one another. We remember things. If we're going to assume that the same applies to the characters in this game, I have to wonder why we needed all of this as a big, sudden exposition dump a third of the way into the game when these characters have had ample time to flap their gums at one another and bring some of it up that way instead.

I think part of the reason I've had trouble going on from here is that the game just gives the player too much plot at once, and that's a little off-putting for me. What I'm going to do from here is try a few of the side quests and make a video about why I usually wind up giving up here or not long after. That should be along soon, when I'm not doing this at 2:30 in the morning. So, until then, stay safe, keep gaming, have fun, and DFTBA!

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