Thursday, March 19, 2015

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy VIII (SquareSoft, 1999; Playstation): Issue #029: What Does The Sorceress Need With A TARDIS?

It's not quite as concise as the answer the God entity gave in Star Trek V. Too bad this game's story can't stay quite as focused as that movie's did. It's like I was saying in that last video I did. It seems like every time we change disks in this game, we start what could very well be a whole new story, and that says nothing about all the Laguna interludes we get along the way, which could have been their own game, too.

The story we're getting for Disk Three is that now Edea's pretty much free of her Sorceress powers now, because she was possessed by the spirit of this whackjob Sorceress from the future and having us slap her around was enough to knock her free. This means that we now have to go looking around for whoever's got the powers instead now. The only real clue we've got at present is that Rinoa's essentially dead in the Garden's infirmary.

The only other almost worthwhile bit of information we've got is that there's this other person called Adel, in that Eshtar place Laguna and friends were at war with awhile ago, who had the Sorceress powers for awhile. Something else happened along the way that made them jump to Edea when she was just a wee lass of five. Thing is, though, that was apparently a while before that business Laguna and his guys were doing 17 years ago, game time, because it seems by then, Edea had grown up enough to get confused with Adel. Either that, or Adel was only a kid then, too. Either way, we're probably going to have to go look for her at some point. And that Ellone kid that's been showing up from time to time, because she's got the ability to send people's minds to the past for some reason. Turns out, the future Sorceress, named Ultimecia, wants that so she can compress time for... reasons, I guess.

But before we can even get to the point where Edea explains any of that, Cid does show back up to explain just where the hell he's been all this damn time. He says he ran away and hid because he couldn't face the no-win situation he'd gotten himself into. The fact that he knew victory meant the death of his wife and that defeat meant the end of everything was just more than he could take. He says he understands if we're mad at him for pussing out on us when we kinda needed him the most. The way I look at it is it's something we can call even, because I suspect that most men I know would probably be just as, if not more, pissed if I beat the hell out of their wives or girlfriends, even if I had good reason to. At least we got her back alive and sane, at least for now, and she told us what the story is now and even gave us a few clues to work with.

With all that in mind, Squall finally starts cluing the others in to the fact that yeah, he's got a boner for Rinoa. The others, including Cid and Edea, are understandably annoyed with him as a result, because there's a somewhat more important conversation going on. After all, there's the soul of some time witch going around now, and it wants to mess up the universe or something, and we don't even have any ideas where to start looking for it.

Back on the command deck a short while later, Squall finishes telling the rest of Balam Garden about it, and that we're going to leave Edea alone for awhile while we go looking for other clues. Kinda wish I'd had the sense to talk to the other folks in the room before I had Squall go cry over Rinoa's seemingly dead body some more. That way, I might have known there was another Laguna scene that I needed to have a party all junctioned up for.

There would be another Laguna scene here, too. What sucks about this one is that it's where whatever semblance of story this game might have had before really does start going down the shitter. At least with the Squall stuff I was talking about before, it can be said that the writers were, at worst, just pulling things out of their asses at this point. With this little visit with Laguna and Kiros, it seems like they didn't even have enough left up there for a fart. The setup we're given is that Laguna and Kiros are going to be in a movie because our slightly less obnoxious duo is out of money. Why? Well, Laguna spent a big chunk of the money they got from protecting Winhill on staying at a hotel, and now they don't even have anything left to sell.

So, Laguna gets all dressed up as a knight, with a gunblade like Seifer's, no less, to be a stand-in for the male lead in a fictionalized version of their war with the Sorceress. They're at one of the final scenes, where the Sorceress is about to get beaten by a red dragon. Turns out the guy who was supposed to be working the animatronics for the dragon was sick that day, so Kiros gets that part. Of course, things have to go FUBAR when a real red dragon comes along after having done who knows what to Kiros. I'd say it ate him, but I've seen things that lead me to believe even that's worse than it sounds.

Of note here: Kiros and Laguna are the only characters there to have names, adding to my comment about the authors being out of ideas. Were there no analogs to, say, George Lucas or Sigourney Weaver they could have come up with for the director and female co-star in this?

Because, of course, again, if Squall does something, we have to see a scene where Laguna does it first. It kind of explains the gunblade thing, I guess. And I suspect we'll go to Eshtar later, too. For now, though, both Laguna and the dragon have health bars, and we've got a button-mashing event on the map screen. I'm not sure if it's the way the game's coded or if it's because my equipment's getting old and has been through a lot, but there seems to be a hell of a lot of latency here. I'd try blaming it on the fact that I suck at button-mashing events, but there's even a bit much lag for that, and after a good half-dozen attempts, I just got tired of losing. I'd figured that choosing the “I'm done for...” option would give Laguna some sort of boost or something, like it did with Squall when he fought that Galbadian paratrooper on the flying mech, but in this case, it just leads to a game over, at which point, I decided it was just time to call it a play session and file my report.

I begin to see why there's so much frustration with this game nowadays. My guess is that it has mostly to do with the story, and I'd be surprised if I wasn't pretty close with that. See, before this game, it was easy to say that the folks at Squaresoft knew how to tell a good story. The first seven Final Fantasy games were evidence of that. Hell, the fourth an sixth entries in the series are two of my all-time favorite games for just that reason, as I've said in my Text Plays of those, and the other ones I've either played myself or seen Let's Plays of are pretty damned good in that regard, too.

Or there's the Mana series, or the Seiken Densetsu series, as some call it. Secret of Mana is a great game, story-wise, and so is Legend of Mana, which came out at around the same time. I've heard equally good things about other games in the series.

Hell, I think a lot of folks in the particular school of thought I'm in on this might even have been willing to call Final Fantasy 8 a fluke if the series had ended at 9, but that's not the case. I'll just leave the explanation of why that is to Spoony.

This is not to say that there aren't things to like about this game. I think I may have mentioned the soundtrack before. But the story kills it for me.

Anyway, this is where I end up for now. Next time, I'll do it all again and hopefully get Laguna's duel right. Until then, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!

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