Tuesday, April 21, 2015

TEXT PLAY: Final Fantasy VIII (SquareSoft, 1999; Playstation): Issue #030: Clumsy-Ass Exposition Drop

Well, that was harder than it needed to be...

My inclination is to say it's because of the way the game's programmed, but it's probably just as fair to say that I suck at it. After all, if memory serves, I have admitted to being horrible at button-mashing games. That's one of the bigger reasons why I took a liking to RPGs over platformers and fighting games once I started playing them.

I know for sure there's at least one sequence kind of like this in Square's SNES title Crono Trigger, where Crono has to win a soup-eating contest with a future party member in order to get an item required to advance the plot. At least in CT, the game will just let you have the item after a half-dozen tries, saying that the hero wins for staying in the contest long enough.

In this case, though, we're required to just keep trying until Laguna knocks the Ruby Dragon out because he was too dumb to run the hell away with the director and co-star. It wouldn't have been so bad if this part of the game didn't seem so cheap. Not only can the dragon take out Laguna in three hits, at most, while Laguna needs at least nine to do in the dragon, the game's programmed in such a way that Laguna seems like he's really not much better with that sword than I am with my shotgun when I'm hunting. At least I can claim that my reflexes are on the slow side even on a good day. Half or two-thirds of the time, hitting the attack button just leaves Laguna standing there, posing with his sword, acting like that'll be enough to scare the dragon into submission when it's really just going to bite him and take his health meter down by a third. At least the defense button can just be held down to work, which really comes in handy.

I don't know how many tries it took me to finish that part of the fight. If I'd realized that it really was going to be that much of a pain in the ass, I might have tried to count, just so I'd know. But hey, at least I beat the damed thing finally, and Laguna manages to run away. Kiros shows up a moment later to toss him his gun and join the fight against what I'm assuming is the same red dragon, though there's an implication that there's actually more than one around where this movie scene is being shot.

When Laguna and Kiros kill their red dragon in a normal fight sequence and escape, Squall tries to wake back up in the game's present day, but Ellone breaks in and says she needs to keep him as Laguna for a little while longer. Her reasoning is that she wants to make Laguna go back to Winhill so he can be with Raine, who's going to die from complications of having a second child. Instead, we see Laguna at the orphanage, talking to Edea about some missing kid, presumably Ellone. When Laguna and Edea talk about how they think the Eshtar military took Ellone because they think she's the new Sorceress, Squall wakes up and somehow connects wanting to hear Rinoa's voice again to talking to Edea about where the White SeeD Ship is because they'd been dumb enough to put her on it in the course of Disk Two.

Yeah, there's a heavy time-travel element to the plot of this game. Ellone telepathically tells Squall that she just learned the hard way that they can't change the past and then fades back to wherever it is she's at right now. Squall calls out to Ellone, begging her to send him back the couple days or however long it's been since their fight with Edea so he can keep Rinoa from going into her coma. How exactly that's going to work, I don't know, but I guess that finding Ellone is the key to that. How Squall expects Edea to have the scoop on Ellone's whereabouts is beyond me. From what I can tell, the connection between the White SeeDs and Edea was broken when Squall and the others knocked the Sorceress out of her, but maybe that's just me making stupid guesses. These are things we'll have to find out next time, though, because this part of the game caused me enough confusion that I wanted to get it written about before I gave myself too much to remember.

The thing I'm wondering about this time is just why the hell Laguna and Kiros are running around and out of money anyway. I mean, yeah, they weren't exactly the most popular guys in Winhill while they were there, but at least they had something like steady jobs while they were there. One would have thought that there'd have been some compromise that allowed them to stay and defend the town while until enough of the local militia had come back and healed up from the war to take over. And what the hell happened to that travel writer thing Laguna wanted to do when he got out of the military? I know first hand that things don't always go as planned, but since he's on the road anyway, and one would think they've got the ability to file reports remotely, I must wonder why there's nobody willing to give him a couple hundred gold per article for that.

Anyway, I'm hoping some of this confusion will get sorted out before too much longer. Or that I at least get more things posted. I can't believe I went almost two whole weeks without posting anything, video game related or not. Kinda gotta work on that again, I think.

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