Previously on Final Fantasy VIII: 3 teenagers brought order to a massive organization by beating the shit out of everything, proving every other SeeD graduate to be useless. Then again, they could all be out on missions. At the same time. Which would be unbelievably stupid. That would be like leaving a police station empty save for the janitors. Well…at least the janitors are armed with sticks.
_We managed to avoid ramming into Balamb by pressing buttons and turning levers, which was good because a lot of the student’s families live there. Fisherman’s Horizon, however, was not so lucky to have loved ones living there, so nobody bothered trying to avoid it. But it turns out it’s ok. Not because they weren’t pissed about it, but because the whole town is full of a bunch of wussy hippies that abhor violence in all its forms, including abhorring violence, for abhorring violence is itself a form of abhorring violence, and therefore is to be abhorred.
_Allow me to get political for a moment…couldn’t we hold up every extremely peaceful town from any RPG that throws out anybody that might possibly invite conflict into the town as examples against gun control, seeing how everything eventually goes to shit and the town finds itself defenseless against even the most minor threat against it? If Fisherman’s Horizon found itself swarmed by 10 BiteBugs, they’d be kind of fucked unless someone stopped by to help them out.
_So Galbadian forces charge into FH, try to burn down the village, and we naturally help them out by killing people. Then we fight a giant beat up tank…that housed the rest of my party who drove it here from the missile base…how the fuck did they manage to steer it all the way Fisherman’s Horizon if they couldn’t control it well enough to not attack their friends when they found them. And on top of that, none of the party fighting them bats an eyelash when they climb out from the wreckage. It’s just like “Hey! Glad you’re safe!” Actually, that was Squall internalizing. It was a really sweet part, actually. Squall thinks to himself “Selphie! You’re alright!” with exclaimation points and everything, showing he’s genuinely glad that they all made it back safe and sound…but out loud, he just says “Hey guyz.” It was a really nice touch regarding Squall’s genuine feeling towards his comrades and his inability to vocalize them.
_15 minutes spent hanging out with an old mechanic fisherman later, and Balamb Garden is officially mobile, giving us probably the worst Stage 2 mode of transportation in any Final Fantasy game ever [Stage 1 being things like yellow chocobos or, in the case of FF8, cars. Stage 2 is like…the Tiny Bronco in FF7 or the non-drill airship in 4 and stuff]. But it is a vehicle that allows us to travel the world, so there isn’t that much to complain about besides the dehydrated-man-in-the-desert crawl speed at which it moves or the general mind blowingly awful aesthetic look Garden has while traversing the planet. On the plus side, it’s like a traveling Triple Triad cruise ship and I’m the captain.
_Naturally, with a mode of semi-global transportation, new areas of the world and side-quests are now available to me. Our first stop…random towns, to try and spread the Open rule in Triple Triad while also being on the lookout for the Queen of Cards location. Sadly, I did not find her. Thankfully, Open spread like a boss, although when I left Dollet, the rules were Open/Random/Elemental, which is probably my least favorite combination of rules that don’t include the word “Closed” anywhere. Yeah, that’s right, I hate Closed more than Random. Although Closed/Random is pretty much the absolute worst thing that can possibly happen. Closed/Random/Plus/Elemental is a “Skip the soft reset, we’re just starting a completely new game” rule set. But yeah, I don’t mind a rule set of Open/Random/Same/Plus. Just keep Closed the hell away from my file.
_I stop by de Shumipuff Village, use some of the money I’ve been hording for my first delicious taste of Ultima draw point, and then ride de elevator down into de village. I go on a fetch quest which is purposely made to be as long as possible by not letting me collect 5 items all at once, but making me get them one at a time and return back to the guy I’m fetching them for. It makes even less sense considering that before I can get any of the items for him, he lists everything he needs for me. It’s like giving people a scavenger hunt list, but making them come back to the home base after collecting each item and not allowing them to hold more than one thing at a time. I mean…I suppose you could make that a rule if your goal was “Get sum exercise” but past that, it’s more than a little dumb as shit.
_There’s some interesting info in Shumi Village. Like Shumi’s turn into moombas…I wonder if FF8 has a furry fanbase? “I think I was born a shumi, and one day, I’ll evolve into my beast form!” Also, Laguna was here many years ago [Naturally. From reading Timber Maniacs magazines and talking to random NPC’s, Laguna has apparently been everywhere and left a general impression of bumbling-ness on everybody he met]. The Shumi Elder pretty much says “Yeah, Laguna is kind of dumb, but we love him anyways. That’s why we’re making a statue of him.” Rocky in front of the Philly Museum of Art, it is not.
_And then my reward for helping the Shumi make their sweet Laguna statue was to look at an old man’s hands. Needless to say, Quistis was not impressed.
–Final thoughts for the day– Don’t be the the town that abstains from violence in a fantasy setting. Your only reward will be a cup of tears.