Let me give you a little story. Back in about May, during the 25th Anniversary of Final Fantasy, I purchased the only PS1 era FF title I did not own in any medium: Final Fantasy VIII. My brother owns it, and it was his copy I played back in 2000 when the game first released. Hot on the heels of the insane success of Final Fantasy VII, the eigth installment failed to meet the lofty expectations of the Western audience. I wasn't in love with the game back then, and only played through it using a cheat device. Of course, I was 14 at the time, and couldn't understand the complexities of the game (I couldn't figure out Added Effect - Death = Cloud Bulldozer combination until a few years ago), so I blame my ignorance on youth. I thought it was about time a good 13 years later to give this game a go once again. I started playing it again on October 23rd. I thought I would chronicle my experiences as they come, and we could share this journey through time, space, land, sea, and sky together.
Waltz for the Moon, Storming DolletSo the game opens with that epic cutscene, blasting Liberi mothafuckin' Fatali into my earholes, and I about fall over from my giddy excitement. Seriously, listen to that Uematsu goodness. I'll wait (I won't).
Then I chill out on the Balamb Garden intranet for a good hour, learning the intricacies of the combat, junction, growth, and GF systems that I will be overly familiar with for the next month or so. Anybody remember that intranet in school back in like 1999? Remember how web navigation was through giant link buttons, and you couldn't search a website for shit, and you had to use Netscape or some crap. Back when Lycos was the primary search engine. Yeah, google that shit.Then I go and get my starter deck for Triple Triad (FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU------). This mini-game is freaking amazing, and the entire game is enhanced becuase of Card Modding. They should've just called this game "Triple Triad: The RPG Experience" becuase that's most of what I'm going to be doing. Goodness it's fun.
So I get my ass kicked in cards for a while and move on to fight some sand fish. Drawing magic and winning fish fins, refininig that scaly junk into junction gold (Water magic, basically). Go to Ifrit's cave, kick his stupid furry ass, and get back to Garden to LITERALLY ANNIHILATE EVERY DAMN HUMAN BEING IN BALAMB GARDEN IN TRIPLE TRIAD!!!!! I won MiniMog and Quistis cards (among others), and move on with the story.
Time to storm the beaches! We go to Dollet, crash on the shore, I talk to a dog for way too long, march on a communications tower, fight Biggs and Wedge, draw the GF Siren, run from a robot, save that dog (because we really had something, man!), and get back to Balamb Garden. SeeD rank 5, no big deal, 3000 G salary (ladies...), and a giant party in my (our) honor. Then that black haired chick approaches me and wants to dance. Hypnotizing me and stuff. That don't work on Squall, toots. I plainly just stated that I don't know how to dance. She drags me out there anyway. The ensuing cutscene will be addressed in the next update. Stay tuned y'all, cuz I'm loving this game so far!
Squall, the best dancer that never was. Also: ZOMG CARDZ!!!11!11
Okay, so when I left off, this flirty thing came up to Squall and was all like "I can't dance with ugly SeeD, let's dance hawttie". Squall replies with "I can't dance. Unless you count sword dancing. My sword has a gun on it. It's this big (ladies...)". She, being a woman and all, doesn't listen and drags Squall out there anyway. Here is the scene in question:So it starts off that Squall forgot what feet are and bumps into every other person on the dance floor like he's playing GTA and SeeD members are worth bonus points. Implied Squall lines: "Oops". "Gah". "I'd say sorry if I wasn't an asshole". "Watch where you're dancing, jerk". "....". Then he pauses, plays Eye of the Tiger (or the Nobuo Uematsu equivalent) in his head, and proceeds to turn into THE GREATEST BALLROOM DANCER IN THE STORIED HISTORY OF THE BALAMB GARDEN BALAMB BEES DANCE TROUPE (which is totally a thing). Like, WTF? Did extensive GF use make him forget all those long nights with Zulga Omonkeav training for Orphanage Prom? What spurred this sudden turn of fleet footness? Whatever.
At this point, I start to look more in-depth at some guides for Triple Triad, obtaining the ultimate weapons, and such. I decided that I want to go for a low-level, ultimate weapons on disc 1, Triple Triad completionist run. If you're unfamiliar, that means turning every random enemy into a card before killing them straight up. It makes the game a lot more interesting, to say the least. Luckily I did that now, because a few more conversations later, this would've been made a lot more difficult.So I battle Diablos and get a little cocky, with Zell being the only survivor with very little HP left (I didn't junction the Item command to any of my characters, so they stayed dead). I emerged victorious with a new GF and shiny new ultra card. I go around, collecting the Zell and Seifer cards, and now my deck is invincible (or so I thought...). I then spend the next 6 in-game hours playing Triple Triad, using Card Mod and magic refining abilities to get a bunch of powerful magic and materials. Being an idiot, I used two Star Fragments on my GF's instead of saving them like I had planned. Then, being an even bigger idiot, I lost BOTH my Seifer and Diablos card to the same dude. This was after about an hour of playing without saving, so I did my due diligence and WON THEM THE FUCK BACK LIKE A BAWS. Feeling somewhat redeemed, I continued on to finally win my 20th Enoyle Card, which I refined into two Energy Crystals. These will be refined into Pulse Ammo once I get Ifrit to level 10, and used to make the Lionheart. Now I can finally move on with the story.
I board the train to Timber and we got us some sleepy gas. Playing as Laguna now, hell yeah. He's literally the least smooth soldier I've ever seen. He and the gang go to their hangout in Deling, order some drinks, and ooh look at her playing that piano! "Laguna you should go ask her out right now WHILE SHE'S PLAYING THE PIANO FOR MONEY." Good idea, guys, thanks. Wait, Laguna is walking up to the stage... Oh no. Then, Laguna proceeds to get the manliest leg cramp in the history of history. Niiiiiiiice. Moving on, we all wake up from the dream, get off the train, then immediately board another train. Damn, Watts, can you give me a minute? I then take care of his "mixed rules" card game, winning his Angelo Card without saving prior (because I'm damn fearless and a man). This is as far as I've gotten in the game so far. I'm supposed to wake up the princess, then it's time to do some traincar stealing.
Stealing Trains and Bringing Pain
Now Squall goes into the next train car and that chick from the dance is sleeping in there. She's so happy that SeeD is there! Like ZOMG, SeeD is hurr! Chill out, Rinoa, damn. So then she's all like "So SeeD gets trained to dance" and Squall responds with "Yeah cuz I'm basically a super spy". So that cutscene was just Squall pretending to be a terrible dancer for..... what, exactly? Guage whether Rinoa was gonna murder somebody at the dance? Whatever. So, SeeD and the Forest Owls (henceforth
referred to as "us") need to kidnap the president of Galbadia. How to do that? Well instead of just fighting off the guards and stealing a person, they decide to kidnap an entire train car (traincarnap?). So I pull off the mission in under 3 minutes (who needs 5, honestly?), I limit break the fake president to death (the president was fake, btw.SPOOLERZ!), then wind up back in Timber to watch the real president get taken hostage by Seifer. Huh. Quistis is like "Squall I need you so bad" so we make our way up to the area and the Sorceress opens a puddle in space time and brainwashes Seifer. They both puddle into the nether, and now our mission is to find Galbadia Garden.
BUT WAIT! CARDS!!!
Why go to Galbaida Garden when I can hoof it back and forth between Timber and the newly rebuilt Dollet (formerly SpiderTank Craptown) to play some Triple Triad? The key here is to abolish the rules "Elemental" and "Random" from Dollet, to maintain the Queen of Cards side quest. It took an hour or so of resetting the game, but I finally got both rules abolished. Then I won the Siren card, won my MiniMog card back from the Queen of Card's brat (who likes to paint femurs, for some reason, I don't know). After this, I headed into the forest leading to Galbadia Garden, only to have Squall, Selphie, and Quistis fall unconscious and once again take control of manly muscle spasms Laguna. They are currently in an excavation site, wandering around somewhere. I can't totally recall this section as I was nodding off just trying to find a save point. I just hope to make it out of that cave.
Cliff Diving to Guess What? More Cards!
So when I left off, I was falling asleep while attempting to find my way through the LSD trip excavation site (what are they excavating, anyway? Lava lamp juice?). I found both Old Keys, which Laguna promptly made disappear. Then I tampered with all the latches on the hatches and detonated some rocks, causing them to fall on my hapless enemies (soldiers from a place. Trabia? I can't remember. They had pickaxes though. Which makes sense I guess, what being in a lava lamp mine). I ended up at a cliff overlooking a bay where some ships (read: VESSELS) were stationed and ready for our totally warranted boarding. Some dudes attacked us and nearly killed Kiros and Ward. As Ward lost his voice and Kiros lost consciousness, Laguna came up with a plan so brilliant that he should be arrested for blinding us all with sheer magnificent brain aptitude. Namely, throwing them off the cliff, then subsequently slipping off the cliff.
That takes care of that dream, welcome to the club, Quistis! Now that I'm free from that mess, I can continue to Galbadia Garden. One more item on the agenda, though. Since my party is all under level 20 (8-11, to be exact), I can now fight the proper level of Grendel in the forest where we had our little Sorceress induced flashback dream sequence. Grendels drop the Dragon Fang item, of which I need 4 to make the Lionheart. They are also completely badass tail-whippy hax, as they can do upwards of 200 damage with a single attack or spell, 500 damage with a critical. It takes care to whittle them down, turn them into cards, and keep my weaker members alive. Good thing Rinoa has 100 Sleep junctioned on her attack! After besting 5 Grendels at 0 exp. and 6 AP a piece, time to move on to Galbadia Garden!
Jetpack guys flying around! This garden is the tits! So Quistis leaves my group to "talk" to the "head"master because she "knows him very well". She works quick because the party is told to wait at 2F Reception area. GUESS WHAT I'M NOT GOING TO DO? I will play card games, though.
The lady in one of the classrooms has every level 6 monster card in her inventory. Unfortunately, the Diff. rule had worn off by this point so I had to win each one individually. After that, we find a transfer from Trabia chilling in the locker room. I use this opportunity to spread the Open rule, and abolish both Random and Plus rules from Trabia. Now that those are all set, I'm free to explore the Garden. Unfortunately, I began to drift off again as I continued to play, so I quickly found a save point and logged off for the night. Hopefully soon I can have a decent playthrough with more story points and exploration, but it seems like Triple Triad will be my focus.
Irvine Kinneas? I'm Chris Hanson with Dateline NBC....So I guess where I left off, I was in Galbadia Garden, just about to speak to Headmaster Martine, but I wouldn't remember that, what falling in and out of sleep last time I played. So, I scoured the entire Garden, screen by screen, until I decide "fuck it" and head toward the exit. HEY IT'S QUISTIS! We go to the entrance and Rinoa is like "Just pretend I'm super SeeD, it'll be easier". Um, no, Gardens all communicate with each other, Cid will let Martine know whatsup. So, she tries to act like a SeeD, fairing only slightly better than Cloud Strife during President Rufus' welcoming parade. We get our orders: shoot da sorceress between the eyes. But how do we accomplish that? Why, with our very own playground creeper/sniper, Irvine!
Now with Irvine, my ragtag crew is complete! I learn about switching party members and magic/junctions, then I get sent to Deling City (where Laguna was earlier! How about that shit?!) to receive my orders from some dude named Caraway. I get to Deling city and holy crap where am I going?! This city is mad confusing at first, until I speak to an NPC and find out that the city is just a circle with a cross going through it, like the reticle Irvine sees before he claims another human skin to decorate his basment. I find a tourist from Fisherman's Horizon, and spread the Open rule to FH, then I obtain the Kiros card from another NPC. Now, the guide I'm using says to Mod the Kiros card to get 3 Accelerators, which will teach Auto-Haste to a GF. That sounds nice and all, but Kiros really rounds out my hand, so I decide to keep his card. Caraway's guard then directs me to the Tomb of blah blah blah fetch quest.
Now, this dungeon is genious becuase the view point when you change screens is always behind the party leader, so it's easy to get lost (being used to set screen entry points and whatnot). I managed to keep my wits about me and encounter Sacred and Minotaur. I defeat them with relative ease, even though their combined attack is very powerful (over 300 damage to each member). I get the GF Brothers, and both the Sacred and Minotaur cards. Jackpot. I can now complete the Lionheart.See, the Minotaur card mods into 10 Adamantine, of which I need 3 for the Lionheart (and another for Selphie's ultimate weapon, the Strange Vision). So, I go back to Dollet, intentionally lose the Sacred card to the Queen of Cards, send her to Balamb, then win the card back from her chode son. I card mod the MInotaur card, then level up my Ifrit to level 10 to learn the Ammo-RF ability. I refined my 2 Energy Crystals into 20 Pulse Ammos, then voila! A fresh Lionheart and Strange Vision for me! Now I have Squall's fully powered limit break, and Selphie will never miss a physical attack! My party will now consist of Selphie, Squall, and Rinoa for the foreseeable future, and for the record, Squall is level 14 at this point. A bit higher than I wanted, but I had to get Ifrit to level 10 to get the Lionheart on Disc 1. C'est la vie.
Sorceress Parade to Prison Break
We returned to Caraway's mansion, victorious in our efforts to find a dead kid's sword, to discover the General is actually Rinoa's dad! Wowee zowee, what a twist! She has a teen angst moment, and the General goes over the plan for the assassination (while sprinting merrily through the streets of Deling). Of course, it has to be more convoluted than "Irvine, shoot that broad between the eyes", it includes trapping her float under a gate, spinning out of a clock tower, doing a jazz-tap routine on a pizza plate, and fighting world hunger. Some of those were made up. Squall and Irvine are on sniper duty, while Quistis, Selphie, and Zell are on pull a switch duty. Needless to say, Quistis' being a bitch gets turned on Rinoa full throttle (which is hilarious). While waiting to just flip the damn switch, Quistis decides she needs to find Rinoa and apologize. Selphie and Zell, the trained SeeD members they are, also abandon their post and join Quistis. Whacky!
Why was Quistis so mean to Rinoa? The black haired strumpet had an ingenious plan of approaching the Sorceress right before her parade and telling her to wear a brooch that will negate her magical powers. Pretty sound plan, ditz. After she gets reamed by Quisty, she says "fuck it" and breaks into the abode of the sorceress. Normal stuff happens as Edea reveals that her hair and snappy visor are more than just a fashion statement. They're a physically retractable fashion statement! I seriously don't know the point of that at all, but hey, whatever, I don't care. Rinoa gets tossed around, Edea straight up murders President Deling, then she brings some giant lizard statues to life to terrorize the city BEFORE her parade. Okay.... Oh, and to also mercilessly slaughter Rinoa for the crowd. Sorceresses know how to party!Squall is all like "Oh snap, dat person is in trouble over there!" and backflips onto his motorcycle and lands but keeps going too. Him and Irvine rescue Rinoa and take her to the sniping perch. MEANWHILE Quistis and company get trapped in Caraway's mansion cuz daddy drama sitcom misunderstanding. They then sneak out through the sewers, back to their switch, then the plan goes smoothly. Except Irvine pusses out and gives Edea enough time to erect her sniper rifle bullet shield (I think I have that spell junctioned onto Rinoa's accuracy...), so Squall goes to plan B and charges the Sorceress. He kicks Seifer's ass then gets ice cast on him, and takes a tumble. Don't look at me like that.
Now I'm playing as Laguna again, and he is now living in a small town that has been overrun by monsters. Kiros shows up one day and they kill some monsters together! This is where we learned that Julia (that piano person from before) was totally in love with Laguna's lack of hydration and muscle control, but after his mission in Centra, he never returned for her. She then fell for a General Caraway (she just LOVES a man in uniform!) and they got married. Wait, isn't Caraway Rinoa's..... No! Caraway Heartilly? Really strikes fear in his opponents hahahah. But seriously, spoilers. Squall wakes up, gets strapped to a cross, then gets Thundara cast on him a few times (what Final Fantasy considers tortue, I guess). Quistis, Zell, and Selphie are also imprisoned, but they break out and retrieve Squall, only to be pinned down by enemy fire. Luckily, Irvine "High School Girls" Kinneas saves the day, then gets kicked down the stairs by Rinoa. We all somehow manage to escape the prison as it drills itself downard into the desert, then we steal some cars because we're military, dammit. After stopping to talk, some missiles go flying away, presumably toward Trabia, where Selphie is from, so she goes Incredible Hulk and takes a party to infiltrate the Missile Base and kill some dudes. What kind of crazy shenanigans will ensue?! Probably lots of war casualties, those wild kids!
War Crimes to More War Crimes
It's been a while since I've updated this, due to a lack of time to play, and a lack of time to update the blog. Hopefully I can recall all that's happened so far. So, I sent Selphie with Quistis and Irvine (Irvine alone with two women, what could possibly go wrong?) to the Galbadian Missile Base. Selphie proceeded to do the smart thing when giant airborne explosives are aimed at your hometown: just whack the shit out of every piece of technology in the enemy base, then hit random buttons, then set the self destruct, then fight a giant tank, then explode. Awesome plan. The scene shifts back to Squall, Rinoa, and Zell back at Balamb Garden. Those weird robed dudes are sending everybody to try and murder Headmaster Cid. When we pledge our allegiance to Cid's flag, we get items from other students. Neato. Oh, and those missiles are heading for Garden, so we gotta jump around in the basement and hit switches until things happen. I think that's my favorite thing about this game, nobody knows how technology works so they just hit buttons until the story continues. It's amazing.So we hit the buttons until Garden just gets up and saunters away from the missiles. Sweet. Then it floats out into the ocean, and we drift away uncontrollably. This should turn out great for everyone. The next day we are all summoned by Garden Master NORG who lives in his pod in the basement. Sounds normal, lets see what he wants and OH LAWD WHAT IS THAT THING SLUG YELLOW THING WAT! We beat him up, then learn all about the origins of Garden, which I won't spoil it for you guys, but it involves Cid being married to a sorceress. Also, apparently the attack on the Sorceress was planned against NORG or something, I don't remember. The thing is, Cid and NORG had their disagreements, and now NORG is a cocoon, and we are about to crash into Fisherman's Horizon. Well, shit.
Now we're at Fisherman's Horizon, and I play the mayor and his wife in Triple Traid to get the Quezacotl and Irvine cards, I take advantage of the Ultima draw point in their house, then we fight a giant tank as Galbadia invades FH, looking for Ellone (oh yeah, Ellone was in Balamb Garden the whole time, and we gave her to some dudes on a ship). After we beat it up, Selphie, Quistis, and the creeper emerge from the wreckage. How convenient. How did you guys escape the exploding missile base? Meh, who cares, let's keep playing.Selphie assembles a band (Zell plays the mayonnaise) and they get Squall to go on a date with Rinoa, because they all love him, ya know? Now that the helpful FH guys are done repairing the Garden, I go in to complete the Card Club quest. Basically, you play 6 mediocre Triple Triad players with decent cards, then you become the champion, or something. It doesn't matter til late in the game. Also, I got the Gilgamesh card from Quistis. This is as far as I've gotten, but I now have control over a floating garden, so the game has opened up to even more sidequests. Which to do first....?