The Running Diary: Final Fantasy VIII -7-

Prviously on Final Fantasy VIII: The party strolled into a mystical tower unannounced and beat the shit out of the Norse god residing there. He was so lonely and depressed, he didn’t even bother to defend himself so as to be bound to occasionally help them out in their travels. This is what I love about the FF8 writing. It’s so lacking in explanation and sense that you can fill it in yourself with whatever you’d like.

_After freeing the town of Balamb from the tyrannical occupation of the Galbadia forces, we had nothing better to do than visit Selphie’s old missile stuck home of Trabia Garden. It might not be important to the main story, but it is nice that the guys decided to help one of their companions recover from an emotional crisis. The act itself shows more of a bond of friendship and unity than most of the dialog ever does, especially as the game goes on and a lot of the spoken dialog and characterization starts to get more and more confusing, jumbled and nonsensical.

Annnnddddddd here we go…one trip to the ruins of a basketball court later, and we’re suddenly in “WTF” territory. Before I go into the orphanage shit…why is it that Galbadia has a hockey rink, Trabia has a basketball court, and Balamb has no recreational sports arena anywhere? At least they have a library, though.

_So…Irvine talks about how all 5 of them minus Rinoa, she borne unto a silver spoon, grew up in an orphanage and the matron of the orphanage was Edea, the sorceress!

They all grew up together.

In the same orphanage.

Everybody forgot.

Except Irvine.

Who didn’t bring it up when they first met.

Cause nobody else seemed to remember.

Despite him never mentioning it.

Not like “Hey, do you guys remember growing up together in an orphange? No? Shit.” It was just “Well, none of them brought it up, I guess I won’t either. They must’ve forgot.” You know Irvine, if you assumed they forgot because you they never brought it up, you not bringing it up would make it seem to them like you forgot too, if they had all remembered. You’re a dumbass. Oh yeah, and one way this reveal could’ve been made interesting is if it was revealed that Irvine couldn’t shoot Edea back in Deling City because he knew it was Matron from back in the orphanage where they grew up…but it’s never stated. Hell, it’s not even hinted at during the mission. Maybe a bit of foreshadowing…even something as vague as him actually saying “I can’t shoot her.” Something to point back to and say, “Oh look, it’s like an actual clue hinting at a reveal later in the game.” But no, he just pussed out and said some shit about the succumbing to the pressure.

_They also drop some shit about GF’s making people forget their memories. Something about some people in the world theorizing that using GF’s causes you to forget stuff…although, considering how quickly they remembered the childhood they all forgot after Irvine brought it up a single time, it seems more like GF’s compartmentalize memories. The memories aren’t erased, but more put off into a room in the brain that can only be accessed by an outside force. Irvine just says “I grew up in an orphanage. There was a girl I liked,” to which Selphie responds “Wait, was it a stone building?” and Quistis asks “Was it by the ocean?” All it took was one guy saying “I grew up in an orphanage” for everybody to remember. Except maybe Squall. Although he did remember the orphanage, he straight up says he doesn’t remember Irvine at all. Grew up with five other kids, only remembers four of them. Harsh. And when everybody wonders how they forgot/never thought about their upbringing, Irvine says “It’s the GF’s. Obviously. Because I never used them until recently.” Irvine is also the only party member to wear wild west outfits, so I’d theorize that cowboy hats, large belt buckles and boots simply cause the mind to function at a higher capacity.

…that’s a bit of a stretch, though, because Selphie does mention rumors about GF’s causing people to forget things in her diary…which is totally optional reading material. But it seems like it’s pulled out of thin air. Not only is this the first time in the main story that it’s brought up, it’s also the last time it’s brought up and your entire party continues using them throughout the rest of the game with no reservations.

_Boy…this next section is a doozy…

Having no other clear objective, we head over to the old orphanage, where Galbadia Garden was very cleverly waiting for us. Why they were waiting at an old, abandoned, dilapidated orphanage located in the southern hemisphere of the world where there are seemingly no signs of modern civilization anywhere to ambush Balamb Garden, home to hundreds of students, about 4 of which grew up in said orphanage, I couldn’t even begin to guess. But we somehow fell into their cunning trap, and a large scale battle looms over the garden’s head.

Naturally, with the threat of such violence hanging over the garden, it falls upon the leader’s shoulders to keep calm, formulate a plan, and protect the lives of as many people as possible. Naturally, Headmaster Cid is nowhere to be found. Nor is Xu. Or any of the instructors. No, these responsibilities fall upon Squall, of course. Why shouldn’t they? It’s not like he’s a green SeeD graduate who has yet to successfully complete any official missions given to him or anything.

_After instructing everybody to protect the school’s supply of hot dogs, the next order of business is to put a squad under Zell’s command, ignoring the fact that Zell leaps before he looks, has little foresight, and that Quistis was a former instructor and has generally shown more leadership qualities than anybody else in the party, save for the times she deferred to Squall for no good reason. Zell, in a display of expert leadership to a squad of cadets he’s barking rules to, stops everything when Squall shows up to ask him an important question: “Can I borrow your ring?” Squall, for reasons unbeknownst to anybody, gives him the ring, which Zell hands over to Rinoa about 10 minutes later. You know what kind of a friend borrows something with the explicit reasoning being to give it to somebody else? A bad one.

After this, a recurring theme develops. Nida [The guy who became a SeeD along with Squall, Zell and Selphie, is expertly piloting the building in the safe confines of the bridge, because an actual trained SeeD soldier is too valuable to actually risk in combat] calls up Squall on the PA system and tells him to get back to the bridge because he has to see something. “I know I’m busy trying to fight off all of the soldiers invading garden, but I gotta go…I have to see this!” Zell, Rinoa and Irvine run off on foot to stop guys on motorcycles from barging in. They arrive at their point of entry as soon as they’re done invading from that specific part of Garden and then stand around so the floor can give way and Rinoa can fall off and hang on a ledge. Zell tells her to hold on while he looks for something to help her. One might think “Oh, he’s gonna go find a rope, which there should be at least one of somewhere on a school campus,” but you’d be wrong. Zell, he worthy of enough trust so as to lead his own squad, goes off to find the most useful thing in Balamb: Squall, who tells him “I have better shit to do than worry about one person…like worry about hundreds of people. Zell, you go help her any way you can.”

_Back on the bridge, we find the head doctor. Can’t afford to let the doctor perish, so she’d better be on the bridge as opposed to in the infirmary treating the injured, I guess. Zell also stops by to tell us that Squall has to save Rinoa. It’s gotta be Squall. Never mind that he’s been the guy who had to step up to lead everybody because all of the actual leaders and authority figures of Garden have mysteriously vanished when they’re needed most and that nobody has even bothered to ask “Where did all of them go?”, he now has to go and save a lone woman in a now crumbling, non-strategic area of Balamb because Zell, stripped of all other immediate responsibilities other than helping Rinoa, couldn’t find a rope, ladder, or a long stick anywhere, and he thinks Squall either has longer arms than he does or knows where the storage closet is located.

All of this is going on in between a lot of very well done FMV sequences, that still hold up as being engaging. The writing around these FMV’s, however, are not as lucky. Squall’s plan of “Get attacked by a flying mech inside of a hallway, lure it out through the emergency door, then beat up the pilot while flying in midair and commandeer it to save Rinoa” goes off without a hitch, and they bring the fight to Galbadia’s turf…right after Rinoa teases Squall about the ring of his she has after he gave it to Zell about 10 feet from a bloody conflict in which many of Squall’s classmates and peers are engaged in.

_Inside of Galbadia Garden, we discover…Cerberus, the three-headed hound that guards the gates to the underworld, hanging out in the foyer. He’s not even guarding the place. He’s just standing around in the middle of the room and won’t bother you if you want to just go around him. He was probably supposed to have his own sidequest and be the boss of an optional dungeon, seeing how he’s the hardest boss in the game up to this point other than Tonberry King, but then they ran out of time and just stuck him in a big empty room somewhere in the game.

Eventually, Seifer and Edea are confronted. Seifer spouts of some ridiculous bullshit, gets shot down by the females in my party for being a humorless dick, and then we beat his ass. Rather mercilessly, too. Edea then…phases through the floor to fight me somewhere else. Maybe because they didn’t want to make me fight back to back bosses without saving? Anyways, I go to another room and have to fight Seifer again anyways. How did he even get there without me noticing? Did Edea just make a hole form underneath his battered body, dropping him between us? So I beat his ass again, beat Edea’s ass, and then…there’s some scene with Rinoa stumbling around, touching Seifer who gets up and waddles around and disappears into thin air, and then Edea recognizing all of the kids. DISC 2 END.

_God damn…everything became a mess and turned to shit really fast. And I don’t mean that in the “Things have gotten crazy for our intrepid heroes!” way, I mean it in the “What the fuck happened to the narrative all of a sudden?” way.

Final thoughts for the day– Garden was founded to train people to fight an extremely powerful, magic wielding sorceress, yet can barely defend themselves against a military using modern technology. G fuckin’ G.

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