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thuganomic

Final Fantasy

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On 30/09/2019 at 13:28, Skummy said:

Fuck the random rule.

Refine any non-rare cards into items/spells. That way random only gives you a quality rare deck to play with every time.

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Yeah, I've started doing that - I have a real compulsion to have one of everything, so tend to leave myself with one of each of every card, but there's no reason not to refine all that stuff into Items. I probably barely used that ability first time around, but I'm playing so much more tactically than I've probably played any Final Fantasy game before, and refining is a big part of that.

Not using a walkthrough means not knowing how to get some of the rarer cards, but I've managed to get Seifer, Zell, Quistis and Selphie just through common sense figuring out who would be most likely to have to win them from, and a few GF cards on top of that, so I tend to get dealt a decent hand anyway. But I have a specific strategy most games around having cards good enough to block off either the corners or the top row pretty consistently, and not being able to rely on that is a nuisance.

I also still can't figure out all the Plus/Combo rules and whatnot, which other people routinely use to fuck me over with otherwise low-level cards, yet never seems to work in my favour.

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Finished this over the weekend, so here are some thoughts;

  • Squall is a much more interesting character than I initially gave him credit for; as a teenager playing this for the first time, I saw him as a bit of a blank slate, or a surly "man of few words" in the same vein as Cloud. This time around, I see a lot more in his internal dialogue, and that his character is defined by being scared of getting close to people. As a result, the romance with Riona feels far more organic than I remember - I was always confused by it being held up as a great love story, but actually it's the real backbone of the story to this game. I think what I love about it is that it feels awkward and stumbling - because it's two teenagers figuring out their emotions, and not really knowing what happens next, rather than being presented as an epic romance.
     
  • Similarly, Seifer is a far richer character than I can remember. He's flawed in a far more human way than most Final Fantasy antagonists; he's not as melodramatic as Sephiroth, or as crazy as Kefka, he's just a sad, scared boy. You basically see the same character traits as Squall, but taken in another direction. What was great about playing this remastered is that, in your final battle with Seifer, his coat is in tatters, he looks absolutely knackered. So you really get the impression of him as an increasingly desperate character. Him wanting to be the Sorceress' Knight feels like a very childish dream, but one that gives him purpose in a world he can't understand - he's every spoiled under-achiever thinking there's a fast track to success. What makes that story more interesting is that it's at least implied that the reason he wanted to be a Knight is because he watched the movie Laguna made in which he played that role (and used a Gunblade!), while Squall legitimately becomes Rinoa's Knight, rather than just allowing himself to be manipulated by the Sorceress.
     
  • Speaking of Sorceresses, I still think this is probably the weakest part of the plot. Edea is introduced as a reasonably compelling villain, with some serious impact on the narrative. She's then fairly abruptly face turned, and we meet Adel as the next Sorceress, only for that to be a load of nothing, and to bring in Ultimecia as the final boss. Ultimecia's plan is so ill-explained and confusing (what, really, is the end goal of Time Compression?), and only made worse by the fact that you have absolutely zero interaction with her as a character. Edea you have a history with, Adel you have the (somewhat out of nowhere) outer space section of the game, in which she's released from her prison via possession of Rinoa, in probably the highest stakes part of the entire story - I just can't see why Adel couldn't have been the Big Bad from that moment, and what it adds to the story having THREE sorceresses when two, or just one, would have served the same purpose better.
     
  • You obviously can't talk about Edea's face turn without talking about Turns Out I Forgot. Other than possibly the "seen once and then never mentioned again" Garden Master, this is probably the maddest part of the whole plot, and both were points where, even playing this for the first time, I felt "they're just making it up as they go along". If I've looked back negatively on Final Fantasy 8 for twenty years, it's because of this plot point.
    Now, there was some more foreshadowing of this than I had first realised - Quistis first mentions "GF Critics" prior to the Fire Cavern Quest, and Selphie's diary on the Garden computer explicitly says she's scared of losing her memory from GF use, while the orphanage itself is at least seen in Squall's brief childhood flashbacks (which start late enough in the game to still have a sense of "made up as we went along"). What really makes it unbearable, though, is that at no point does anyone even entertain the idea of not using GFs (I'm now wondering if it would be possible to make it this far in the game never junctioning a GF...), and you continue to collect more. Meanwhile, Irvine hasn't lost his memory, just at no point thought to bring up that he was at the same orphanage as all of you, or that the woman you were all hired to assassinate was your primary caregiver.
    A lot of stuff like this is why I actively disliked the story for so long, and while I'm not as angry at it now, it's still not good. But looking at it as the backdrop to the more inter-personal stories, it'll do.
     
  • The Laguna stuff's weird, isn't it? Obviously it leads into the Time Compression story, but looking back, almost the entire story could have taken place without ever needing to do the Laguna missions. I remember them having been a much bigger part of the story than they are. 
    Also, I feel like I missed some dialogue this time around, because I was sure it was made clear that Squall was Laguna's son? Maybe it's intentionally left open, but I thought that was a sure thing. If it is the case, then it's a bit of a mess of relationships, in that the love of Laguna's life ends up marrying Rinoa's dad, so are Squall and Rinoa step-siblings? Am I missing something?
     
  • Moombas. What was all that about?
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Kiros and Ward reference the fact that Squall is Laguna's son in some optional dialogue, but it's never explicitly stated.

Also there's no way Squall and Rinoa are related. Rinoa is the daughter of General Caraway and Julia, Squall is the son of Laguna and that lass in Windhill who's name I can't remember right now. I'll call her Donna but that's definitely not her name.

So Squall and Ellone are half-siblings, and Squall's Dad used to bump uglies with Rinoa's Mum, but they're not related.

And yeah, Moombas. Bonkers.

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4 minutes ago, Ollie said:

Kiros and Ward reference the fact that Squall is Laguna's son in some optional dialogue, but it's never explicitly stated.

Also there's no way Squall and Rinoa are related. Rinoa is the daughter of General Caraway and Julia, Squall is the son of Laguna and that lass in Windhill who's name I can't remember right now. I'll call her Donna but that's definitely not her name.

So Squall and Ellone are half-siblings, and Squall's Dad used to bump uglies with Rinoa's Mum, but they're not related.

And yeah, Moombas. Bonkers.

Ah shit, yeah, I got Laguna's two love interests confused. Squall is the son of Laguna and Raine, Julia was the singer in the nightclub bar. My mistake.

 

It makes sense that Squall would always "be" Laguna in the flashbacks, given that connection. But what connects Zell and Selphie to Kiros and Ward, then? Because isn't it always those two? 
I know Elle says that she can only do the "send back in time" thing with people she's met, but I can't remember if it's ever stated that the two consciousnesses in question have to met as well? So Squall can be sent back into Laguna, or into Rinoa, because both Squall and Elle have met them. But Kiros and Ward?

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When Ward loses his voice, his voice gets transferred into the body of Zell and Kiros is the person who made Selphie's shoes.

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So I just have the final battle to go on FF8 so here's some thoughts on my first completed replay since the very first one:

  • The game is a lot better than I remember. Despite the junction system being a very flawed game mechanic and basically breaking the battle system, that and the odd "why didn't Irvine mention shit earlier" are actually my only major gripes in an otherwise very good game. The other minor issues are all actually explainable either through in-game dialogue, or a little assumption from the player.
  • Ragnarok is by far and away the coolest airship the game ever produced, it's a fucking airship robot dragon, it's design is wonderful, and I always really enjoy the mission to obtain it.
  • I used to really like Irvine, but to be honest he's my least favourite character in this playthrough, instead Sell comes to the forefront a lot for me. I always liked him, but he's by far the most human in the game, and his passion and caring is actually the backbone of a lot of the plot for me.
  • The Rinoa/Squall relationship is a lot more awkward than I remember, but I guess as a teenager playing the game, that seemed more romantic at the time :lol:
  • The weapon upgrade mechanic is great, and I always adored it and much prefer it to having a million pointless weapons. I think a combo of that, and FF7's materia slots in place of the draw system for junctioning would be the perfect system.
  • Triple Triad remains the best mini game in the series, and combining that with the card mod ability makes for a great item system.
  • Still hate the way you gain money, but it's not a major gripe.
  • Seifer is probably one of the best secondary antagonists in a series, he's such a tragic character, and him being so similar but ending up in such a different place to Squall only exacerbates that tragedy.
  • I feel like of all games that could have a sequel/prequel in the series, this is the one. You could cover the Centea incident, the Hyne incident, or the Galbadia/Esthar war in a prequel, and the sequel could cover Ultimecia's rise to power (because you can't change the past, so the future she comes from is innevitable).

Probably more I'll think of, but that's a few random bits.

 

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Forgot how freaky the ending FMV is for this game. Hella weird at points.

Really enjoyed it, and now suffering the innevitable post FF slump 😭

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I'm pretty sure they said that if they ever made an FF8 sequel/prequel, it would focus on Laguna. But you're right, there's a ton of lore just mentioned in passing that never really impacts on the main game. 

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I'm contemplating going back to FFXIII in the wake of VIII and trying to mop up that arduous weapon trophy. Anyone else interested in a bit of a shared playthrough or something?

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You saying Weapon reminded me - one of the few trophies I didn't get was the one for defeating Omega Weapon.

Because my main party were all Level 100, and the first thing it does is cast Level 5 Death. So I either had to meticulously level up my secondary party to something like level 99 in order to have a chance of beating him, or just write the whole thing off. Cheap stuff like that is what put me off FF8 first time around.

On a similar note, the Lake/"Mr Monkey" sub-quest is inordinately complicated, and the worst kind of video game secret. There's no indication that you might be able to interact with a specific, otherwise unimportant bit of lake on the world map, and there's absolutely no way to figure out that quest without a strategy guide, surely?

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3 minutes ago, Skummy said:

You saying Weapon reminded me - one of the few trophies I didn't get was the one for defeating Omega Weapon.

Because my main party were all Level 100, and the first thing it does is cast Level 5 Death. So I either had to meticulously level up my secondary party to something like level 99 in order to have a chance of beating him, or just write the whole thing off. Cheap stuff like that is what put me off FF8 first time around.

On a similar note, the Lake/"Mr Monkey" sub-quest is inordinately complicated, and the worst kind of video game secret. There's no indication that you might be able to interact with a specific, otherwise unimportant bit of lake on the world map, and there's absolutely no way to figure out that quest without a strategy guide, surely?

RE: OMEGA, just status junction death to defence. That or use initiative and use a holy war before he gets a turn.

Agreed on the Mr Monkey bullshit. Add to that the Luck-J scroll with the stones is absurdly hard to actually locate.

 

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1 hour ago, Benji said:

I'm contemplating going back to FFXIII in the wake of VIII and trying to mop up that arduous weapon trophy. Anyone else interested in a bit of a shared playthrough or something?

😪

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