Playing My First Final Fantasy Game - Parts 21-37: The Quest to Defeat Disc One

<----- Parts 1-8

<----- Parts 9-20

Part 21: A Friday of Abject Failure

As the month of June passes us by, I am slowly but surely discovering that my tendency of playing this game once a week will be my undoing. There is no conceivable way that I can finish this game during the season of summer without putting on my bootstraps and making a more valiant effort to complete it. It was this frightening fact that motivated me to play Final Fantasy VIII on Friday of last week. Now the major issue here was that I would have to play Final Fantasy VIII without my Sherpa, @thatpinguino. With only four hours of Final Fantasy VIII under my belt I was green; so green that a doctor would have recommended that all of my limbs be cut off.

Despite this, after having a brief conversation with my Sherpa I was given six very short and simple objectives to complete during this session.

  1. Beat the giant bug monster boss in the Training Room
  2. DON’T fight the T-Rex
  3. Go to the beach/shore and COLLECT FIVE fish fins
  4. REFINE five fish fins into 100 units of water magic
  5. JUNCTION those 100 units of water magic into Squall’s strength stat
  6. Rub Headmaster Cid’s Lamp and DEFEAT Diablos

As you might anticipate this was a horrible failure. Of my six objectives I only “reliably” performed one, and that was beating the big bug monster. I attempted to fight the T-Rex … and quickly discovered how that was a big mistake. However, the bigger issue came when I made the startling discovery that I had no idea how to refine items. Now to my defense Quistis, and the game in general, never stopped to teach me how to refine items, and I am beholden to a “NO GUIDES” rules as part of my agreement with thatpinguino. So in other words I WAS SCREWED. Here I was, a Final Fantasy neophyte, getting this lamp from my Headmaster thinking, “This is only four hours into the game! How hard could this be?

Uh oh....

Yeah it was hard. I MEAN SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS ABOUT? I was expecting a genie and instead I get Satan! Now part of my frustrations stemmed from, and readers from the previous entries can probably guess this, the PC controls. Firstly, the limit breaks are critical, but for some of them I still don't understand how to perform them with Zell's being the worst offender. Secondly, my blowing through the magic junctioning tutorial from earlier was a bonehead move as it meant that I was ill prepared for this confrontation. Now that aside I still stand by my defense that the item refining mechanic is terribly conveyed, and hidden in what I can only describe as the worst in-game menu systems I have ever seen.

This all led to me becoming horribly exhausted and frustrated with Final Fantasy VIII, and on the cusp of just outright quitting. To prevent that from happening my Sherpa and I initiated a drastic, but game changing “operation,” in a last ditch effort to save my let’s play which I personally titled “OPERATION: BREAK THIS GAME.”

Part 22: OPERATION: BREAK THIS GAME

  • Step #1: Farm some goddamned fish – How fish have been imbued with magic is beyond me, but whatever I honestly need to stop questioning this game and accept its loonacy.
  • Step #2: Refine the fish fins into water magic – Now here is where I screwed up last time. I kept going to the “Item” tab thinking that you refine items there in order to get their magic. Well the answer to that is a big fat fart sound. Instead, there’s a separate tab called “Ability” where you select a specific “Refine” ability in order to refine items into magic, and many long “sighs” were had on my part. I mean if you are going to have this many tabs why not make them clearer and just have a “Refine” tab?
  • Step #3: Junction Water Magic to Squall – This is yet another step that sounds easy but it is made needlessly convoluted thanks in large part to FF8’s horrible menu system. So giving Squall the water magic was not enough, and instead I have to go back to the Junction menu, and put that water magic into Squall’s “Strength” attribute. However, lo and behold I couldn’t because Squall’s original GF wouldn’t let me junction magic to that stat. This forced me to go ahead and shuffle around my GFs, which was no easy task, until I was finally able to open “Strength” for magic junctioning.

I would like to conclude this by saying that these three steps took me a solid THIRTY MINUTES to figure out. Why was I not able to just draw water magic from the fish? Wouldn't that have been more logical than refining their fins? When I select an item why can’t I just automatically refine it regardless of wherever it is? These are the questions that plagued my experience, but I managed to trudge along.

I dare anyone to look at this screen and tell me that this is good

I know that I sound like I am griping about the game, and I am. However, I must say that I gripe only because the results were completely worth it. Not only was I able to boost Squall’s strength at least twofold, but I was finally able to beat Diablos. As for Zell's limit break I simply got completely fed up with the keyboard controls and just set his limit break to auto, because I honestly give zero fucks about Zell.

Once I got the Diablos GF I immediately went back to fighting fish for strategic purposes. If you are wondering why here’s the deal: each battles with the fish draws in 6 AP when a normal fight usually nets 1-3 AP. So I get into five fish fights and I suddenly had the “Enc-Half” ability, which was a GODSEND for me.

So after my nightmarish fight with Diablos I was sitting pretty, but still wanted to make my further adventures even easier for the future. Well now that the game finally decided to open up I trotted on down back to Balamb and decided to try my hands at cards.

Part 23: Triple Triad is Kind of Awesome, but it also Breaks the Game

Alright everyone I have a confession to make: I love Triple Triad. It’s a stupid fun minigame that provides me with the opportunity to get items without having to fight enemies; which for me is a gigantic breath of fresh air. Now I could spend my time discussing how awkward I felt when I beat Zell’s mother and took her Zell Card from her. Nevertheless, after I refined that card into three “Hyper Wrists,” which allowed me to increase the strength of three GFs by 60%, all sense of guilt swiftly subsided away.

Triple Triad SON!

So just to give everyone a summary of what I have done leading up to the next handful of set pieces it goes like this. I have broken Squall so is that he commits around 500 points of damage for every physical attack he does. I’m using Diablos to cut down the number of random encounters that I experience by half. Zell is also sitting pretty with a Hyper Wrist and I now have no issues with his Limit Break because he’s now set to “Auto.” Credit where credit is due at least Final Fantasy VIII allows me to ignore certain parts of it.

Part 24: So I Guess I’m Off to My Next Adventure?

So trains…Selphie likes trains. I mean okay whatever, I already thought she was crazy. The reason why I bring this up is that I walked up to her and she just started singing about trains because I guess the game wanted to double down in her ditzy and slightly off nature. Now this sort of crazy and absurd characterization is starting to get incredibly exhausting. So much so that I am starting to increasingly react on par with Squall whenever something like this happens:

I'm just going to walk away now

Everyone in this game either comes across as an intensified version of a well-established character archetype or just have bats in their belfry. So I guess Squall’s standoffish nature is starting to make sense to me. I mean if one of my partners started singing about their love for trains I would walk away and stop talking to them. Following that I go into the train cabin and witness Zell fawning over bed pillows, because apparently Garden has been raising these kids in caves. These characters are all nightmare people, and scenes like this make it incredibly hard to ever understand what their perspective is during the story. Then...wait what?

Wait what is going on here?
Uhhhhhhhhhhh, what?

Part 25: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...

...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!

Did this game just ninja a secondary cast on me with one of the worst transitions I have ever seen? Is this really happening?

So I guess this is real?

Where is Dave Lang when you need him? Wow wow wow…wow wow. Alright so this is happening. Maybe the writers of Final Fantasy VIII realized that some people would react hostility to Squall, and as a result put a character that fulfills all of Squall’s inadequacies. Now I actually like Laguna, and I’ll go over why in a little bit, but Final Fantasy VIII ends up detracting from this sequence, and further Laguna sequences, in a couple of regards. For one having Squall and company interject and commentate over Laguna had a dizzying and oftentimes confusing effect. For one the game decided that it did not want to indicate who is who for these interjections. Also, these interjections take the stage away from Laguna, Kiros, and Ward thus preventing them from standing up as their own characters. This should be their sequence, and not Squall’s attempt at being a guest riffer on MST3K.

Now I mentioned earlier how I actually like Laguna. For one he is a charismatic and dapper adult that engages with his partners in a respectful and humorous manner. On top of that he seems to have an arc and has a clearly indicated goal. Generally speaking all of the major issues that I have with Squall, Zell, Selphie, and even Quistis are not present with Laguna. The game clearly indicates that Laguna wants to tune Julia’s piano until it hits all of the right octaves! He stumbles, makes mistakes, and is self-aware when he commits his mistakes while he is attempting to accomplish his goal. Then when everything comes together, and he finally has a moment with Julia, you feel happy for him. That is because he feels like a real person that you can get behind, or at the very least a character with a relatable arc.

How can anyone not like this?

For all of my complaints about how this feels narratively out of place; remember that the previous sequence had Selphie signing about trains; it highlights an important point that I wish to make about the writing of Final Fantasy VIII. The developers for Final Fantasy VIII CAN write good characters. The only problem is that that they were able to write believable adults, but clearly have issues when it comes to teenagers and children.

Part 26: I’m Confused, are We Mercenaries or Terrorists?

Aw shit, Squall is back. Now real quick, I want to talk about the town of Timber. This is the worst train system I have ever seen. In Timber rather than having all of the train stops located in a central hub they instead are spread all over the outskirts of Timber. Now this is going to be a major point of annoyance when the game asks me to relocate myself to different train stops all over the town. Which leads me to one of my least favorite “games” within Final Fantasy VIII which is the “Guess How to Navigate This Screen,” game. Final Fantasy VIII doesn’t really do a great job at indicating what you can and cannot interact with in the environment especially when it puts barriers in your way. Worse yet is how poor of a job the game does at indicating where and how to exit one screen in order to transition to the next one.

Anyways we meet up with our employers, which are revealed to be yet another trio of teenagers…fantastic. This time instead of being SeeDs they are freedom fighter, or terrorists, I have not decided yet. From here the game decides to reveal to you that Rinoa is going to be a party member which I was excited about because it meant that I could finally kick Selphie to the curb. Oh but wait, did I mention that Rinoa’s Limit Break is, and for people that have never played Final Fantasy VIII rest assured that I am not lying about this, her shooting her fucking dog from her fucking wrist canon:

Videos games son. Well moving on, I just want to point out that the game makes the kidnapping the President mission seem a lot more complicated than it really was. For example, the game takes five minutes to explain the difference between the blue and red guards on the first train cart when that ends up only amounting to maybe ten seconds (at most) in the game. Then the long winded explanation on how they plan to move the different train carts? Yeah, you don't need to worry about that either because that’s all done during a cutscene. I was actually afraid that this was going to be a seriously difficult mission when the game presented me with this screen:

What do the different colors mean?

Of those various steps you are only asked to perform a handful of them, with most ending almost instantaneously. In reality the scariest part of this train sequence was having to deal with the PC controls yet again.

Part 27: The Train Sequence and the Revenge of the PC Controls

Rinoa indicates that in order to unhook the train carts you first need to input a handful of numerical codes in order to successfully unhook them. So here are the controls for inputting those codes:

Oh good another timed mission...

So that would be:

C for 4, S for 3, X for 2, and V for 1.

I cannot preface how terrified I was at completing this sequence on time. The fight with the zombie monster masquerading as NOT George Bush PALED in comparison to me trying to remember which key coincided with which number. All this aside I was able to get through the entire ordeal without being caught, and made quick work of Zombie NOT George Bush. Furthermore, wanting the most “authentic” Final Fantasy VIII experience I defeated Zombie NOT George Bush, instead of using an elixir or Phoenix Down on it/him.

Alright, I am here to nitpick about the story again. So how the Hell did three teenagers manage to do all of the setup for this kidnapping mission by themselves? Similarly, how did no one from the President’s army notice that there were these “dummy” train cars on the train tracks while they weren't being used? Did Rinoa just happen to locate a vacated train line that just happened to be on the route that the President was going on? Did Rinoa just hope that a train full of orphans would NOT be careening down that track anytime soon? Now let’s talk about the zombie monster boss and the questions I have about that. Consequently, I am guessing that not every person in this world is a human. By “everyone,” I mean living things that are capable of communication and thought. Are there different races of people that I have yet to see and encounter, or is this just a zombie that just so happens to work for the President? Could I find an elf or cat person just wandering around the streets of Dollet? What about the GFs? They usually talk to me before I captured them, so are they a race? Who am I? Who are you? WHERE AM I?

He is NOT AN ANIMAL! He is a...huh I don't know.

Part 28: The Lady in Purple and Seifer’s Small Penis

So the attempt to kidnap the President turned out to be a wash. If there is a single point in the game where I can identify as to when I started to sympathize with Squall, more than the other characters, it was here. Rinoa is running a shit show, Zell has anger issues, and Selphie has a thing for trains that is borderline fetishistic. Squall on the other hand comes across as being completely fed up with everyone else’s shit, and his no nonsense response to everyone around him else seems level headed and reasonable to me. For as much as the game wants you to see the passion and spirit of Rinoa I just cannot prevent myself from rolling my eyes whenever she starts talking. She thinks she can win independence for Timber with an army of teenagers. One of whom always manages to get the shits when an important mission starts.

Then when Squall told Zell to “shut up,” I was honestly jumping for joy. Finally someone is confronting Zell for his ridiculous mannerisms. Anyways there’s this really confusing and haphazard scene where Seifer decides to hold up George Bush hostage at gunbladepoint. Which I guess when you have the President host the first television broadcast in seventeen years you don't have any security whatsoever? Squall and company arrive at the scene to…convince Seifer to let the President go? Wait, I thought that we were supposed to capture the President in order to begin negotiations regarding Timber's independence, so isn’t Seifer a hero? How about we just have Rinoa take the President from Seifer and call it even at that?

As I’m starting to wrap my mind around this entire sequence a purple lady appears out of nowhere to taunt Seifer by calling him a “boy.” Already confused with the set-up for this scene I am just going to assume that this is a reference to Seifer having a micropenis. Then the purple lady, Seifer, and the President disappear because the purple lady has the ability to summon portals...I think. Can I learn teleporting magic? Then the scene ends and there’s zero indication as to what just happened or who the purple lady was, and now we need to get the Hell out of Timber.

This blog is brought to you by ExtenZe

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!

Part 29: This is the Most Pointless Sequence in the Game Yet

Oh GOD the part of the game where you have to leave Timber is so painful. Why is this even here? Why? The only reason why I am even talking about this sequence in the first place is because it highlights all of my earlier complaints when I first arrived at Timber. Everything in Timber is spread out, thus making it difficult to know where you should be going. I was given the rather simple directive of getting out of Timber, but how this game manages to convolute that simple task is nothing short of amazing. Part of this is due to the fact that it is oftentimes not clear how to navigate in the correct direction.

However, let’s be honest and recognize the real reason why this segment, and partially the previous one, are here. This segment is here to provide Rinoa an opportunity for some much-needed characterization after yet another plan of hers is bungled. On that point the game screwed up royally. She so far is coming across as a naïve and impulsive opportunist with unclear motivations. Additionally the game characterizes her in all of the wrong ways possible. Yes, I understand that Rinoa wishes to gain Timber its independence, but why? The game never establishes how President Deling has wronged Timber other than to mention from time to time that he is a big bad evil dictator that does big bad evil things. An example of total war by the G-Forces, or Deling violently putting down his opposition, or something other than Rinoa’s long winded rants would have gone a long way to establish her motivation, and as such provide her with a much needed arc. Instead, the game makes time for a scene where you enter a bar, which totally allowed for teens waltz around in, and interact with a drunken bozo in order for you to exit through the back door of the bar.

Also teenagers don't talk like this.
Unless you can convince me that Selphie exists in the real world

Hey game! Get your priorities straight!

Part 30: OH GOD! SAVE ME LAGUNA YOU ARE MY ONLY HOPE!!!

Awesome Laguna is back! From what I can deduce I’m here to experience another set of wacky adventures from the past with Laguna, Kiros, and Ward. Going off of the Hero’s Journey this is either going to be the last of the fun adventures with the trio, and most likely feature something terrible that irreparably jeopardizes the friendship between Laguna and his party members.

Now I am going to let it slide how the GFs and magic junctions from Squall’s side of things translates into Laguna’s story even though it makes no goddamned sense. The reason why I am willing to be a hypocrite here is because I enjoy Laguna being able to one shot all of these alien soldiers. Whom we are fighting because…reasons.

Maybe it is the fact that the surprise of having a secondary cast has finally begun to subside, but this sequence with Laguna felt decidedly less impactful, despite its content, than the previous one. Laguna is still a wise cracking jokester that his friends feel comfortable calling him out on, but it essentially treads the same tracks from before.

As I predicted things go south and it appears that both Kiros and Ward are down for the count, thus ending the last great adventure that our trio have had together. However, it continues to surprise me how much the writers for Final Fantasy VIII manage to get done in these quick ten to fifteen minute set pieces with Laguna, but fail to do in the hours that they have with Squall and company.

Why are you tickling him when I JUST JUNCTIONED 100 casts of Cures to you?

Part 31: Oh Boy its More Forced Characterization Featuring Teenage Drama

So our party ends up in the Galbadian Garden. Which judging by the cut-scene that introduced the place is a more science based Garden as their students PILOT MECH-SUITS!

Please tell me that I get a mech-suit like this at some point

Squall I hate to break it to you, but you signed up for the wrong Garden. I would take mech-suits over summoning monsters any day. Anyways we have more of the same characterization of our various party members, which is unfortunately free of any signs of maturation. Rather than show the party learning from their ordeal in Timber they continue to maintain all of their previously established character quirks. This is not character development. This is character solidification.

Now I am going to share with you one major concern that I have about the progression of the story. I get that I still have plenty of game to burn through after this, but I have some major concerns about the development of Squall and Rinoa’s relationship. Look, I haven’t spoiled the story and looked up what ends up happening, but whenever I boot up the game I am greeted by this image:

The issue of Rinoa and Squall eventually forming some sort of relationship is all but assured. However, what I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO SEE is Rinoa all of the sudden falling in love with Squall after maybe one act of heroism, thus ignoring that they had no established relationship for 80% of the story. The reasoning behind all of these concerns stems from the fact the writing has been engaged in what I can only describe as “plot by convenience.” Where the only justifiable way that any event in the story can occur is because it was written that way, and thus lacks any feeling of being organic. Again, it may be too premature to have these concerns, but I just wanted to mention them. Therefore, for now I have my eyes on you Final Fantasy VIII, mark my words I am watching you.

Fine I'll use present progressive: "Squall is killing me from the inside"

Part 32: Enter Irvine (i.e. This Cast is STILL Full of Nightmare People)

Oh hey! A male cast member that doesn't have a fucked up face!

WHY DOES EVERY CHARACTER POSE TO THE CAMERA AS IF THEY ARE IN A COMMERCIAL DURING THEIR INTRODUCTORY CUTSCENE?

So Irvine is a nightmare. What else is there to say other than he’s a creepy pervert whose establishing moment is to sexually harass all of the female members of my party? He’s fucking terrible, so let’s move on.

Part 33: YEAH!!! LET’S ASSASSINATE A SORCERESS…wait what?

Oh you fucked up!

Upon meeting with the headmaster of the Galbadia Garden I am given the task of assassinating the purple sorceress from earlier. Wait, why me? So if you are the leaders of SeeD why are you only sending one assassination team? Technically SeeD is essentially an army so why not just send all of your students to kill the sorceress outright and justify your actions after the deed? How about having multiple teams so if one fails there are other teams that can support an alternative plan immediately? Similarly, I don’t know about Irvine, but Squall and everyone in his party, with the exception of Quistis, JUST GRADUATED from SeeD like a couple of days ago! Shouldn't Garden have like elite students that have been with SeeD for years and are battle hardened undertake this mission? Why the fuck are you sending Squall to do this task? Worse yet why is Squall the captain of this assassination team when it makes more sense to have Quistis, the previously established “prodigy” of SeeD, be the leader for such an important mission?

I cannot say this enough why does SeeD only send one team? If the headmaster of the Galbadia Garden recognizes that Edea plans on taking over his garden, why not send all of your student to kill her? I am guessing that there’s no understanding of “Murphy’s Law” in the world of Final Fantasy VIII, but every avenue of preventing this assassination attempt from going horribly wrong was overlooked or ignored. Is SeeD organized by stupid people?

Maybe the purple lady and Seifer should take over SeeD, because right now it’s being run by a bunch of morons.

Part 33: Welcome to the Dungeon of Nightmares

Despite the game indicating that it was imperative that I begin my assassination attempt on the Sorceress I first have to go to a dungeon in order to prove that I am worthy of participating in this assassination attempt. Wait, what?

Who thought that this was a good idea?

I am honest to goodness not joking about this. I go up to the mansion of the general that hired me, and his guard won't let me through until I recover the dog tags of a student that has gone missing. Where is this general coming from? Rather than question my party’s abilities this general should be questioning why SeeD only sent one team of teenagers to assist him in killing what the game has established to be the worst person in the world.

In large part thanks to Operation: Break This Game the battle with the minotaur brothers went surprisingly quick, but that didn't mean that this dungeon was a cake walk. To my surprise the bigger boss battle was making sense of how to navigate this nightmare of a dungeon. Now I get it game, you have a labyrinth populated by minotaurs, I see what you did there. However, it was a REAL DICK MOVE to have all of the rooms in this dungeon look exactly alike, and on top of that provide no hints whatsoever as to how I should navigate this dungeon aside from one of the worst maps I have ever seen. I mean shit, Myst provides better hints for its esoteric puzzles than this. This is all ignoring how out of place this whole ordeal feels. I am in this Byzantium horror because a general wanted me to prove that I was up for the challenge of assassinating a sorceress; despite the fact that he already paid for my services. I wish I could highlight how absurd the previous sentence was.

Now is not the time to get poetic about death on me Final Fantasy VIII

Part 34: Brevity is the Soul of Wit, and Let’s Just Say that FF8 Sure Doesn't Have Any Brevity

Oh bloody Hell! Final Fantasy VIII decided to have ANOTHER long winded explanation on how the next SeeD mission will play out, despite the fact that the game is clearly going to force me to deviate from the plan. Things are eventually going to go horribly wrong it is just a matter of who is to blame for messing everything up.

I cannot preface how long winded this whole scene is. For one particular part the general, who is revealed to be Rinoa’s father, is running around in circles like a maniac in downtown Galbadia explaining how the parade is going to work. Are there no cameras to see this happening? Is no one seeing this general run around with a party of heavily armed teenagers and thinking this isn't the least bit suspicious? This sequence should have been a three minute cutscene at most, but instead lasts more than three times that amount. Worse yet is how artificial it feels considering that you, the player, know that none of these steps are ever going to be followed with this level of rigidity.

No yeah I've got it! I understand how parades work.
Oh no, please don't make this a timed mission.

Part 35: I Hope You are Ready for More Forced Characterization DURING AN ASSASSINATION MISSION!

Rinoa is in timeout and if you are surprised that she doesn’t accept this silently then you are an idiot. It’s honestly insulting how boilerplate the first phase of the assassination attempt plays out. Rinoa breaks out of the living room and ends up hypnotized by Edea. I'm also guessing that Edea has Emperor Palpatine levels of mind control powers when she publicly executes President NOT George Bush everyone in the background starts cheering and participating in this neon drenched parade.

This is for passing the Patriot Act!
Comparing this to the Star Wars prequels is admittedly too harsh

This is summarily followed up with Quistis, Selphie, and Zell being locked in the room that Rinoa was previously in. What happens next can only be described as adventure game logic that would make the designers of Gabriel Knight 3 laugh hysterically. In order to get out of the room you take a goblet and place it in the hand of a statue. By doing this the statue turns around and reveals a secret exit for the general’s home.

Scooby-Doo where are you?
I'm sorry did I boot up Myst on accident?

WHAT IS THIS SCOOBY-DOO? I should also mention that the only hint that you have is a portrait of a lady holding a goblet in her hand in the background that you can walk up to. This is the worst adventure game that I have ever played!

Part 36: THIS SEWER SEQUENCE SUCKS! WHY IS THIS HERE OH MY GOD WHY?!

Overall I think the last hour of Disc One features some of the game’s strongest moments, but with one exception. The part of the game where you are traversing through the sewers of Galbadia with Quistis, Zell, and Selphie is among the single worst moments of the game. I am going to also provide my own generalization about the dungeons in this game based off of this sequence, the minotaur dungeon, and the lava cave. I think the dungeons in this game are bad. For the most part, they compound all of the problems I have with navigating the world of Final Fantasy VIII but taken to an extreme. Take this screen for example:

No yeah, this is definitely Myst!

I spent around ten minutes trying to figure out how to navigate this screen before finally giving up and looking the answer up online. For those of you that are wondering you have to get halfway on the bridge and then jump on the wheel in order to land on the other side of the screen. This kind of shit happens all of the time! There are plenty of other examples where it is not entirely clear as to which parts of the game’s environment you can interact with and which parts you cannot. On multiple occasions I was held up from progressing because I didn’t know that you had to press X when walking up to a gated wall in order to open its door. Worse yet, unlike the minotaur dungeon the game doesn't provide you with a map for the sewers which forces you to just brute force your way out of here. Then there was this ladder:

Did Kojima guest direct this game?

I climbed the ladder and the characters just jumped off it automatically. I was then stuck in this random room that they jumped off into wondering what I needed to do next because there was nothing that I could interact with in that room. The answer was to hop back on the ladder and climb up it one more time, but I thought that it was a dead end. Therefore, I went back down and spent another fifteen minutes aimlessly wandering around in this fucking sewer!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! THIS IS THE WORST ADVENTURE GAME EVER MADE!

Part 37: Some Great Battles and a Killer Ending

There’s really no sarcastic or cynical way of going around the fact that the ending for Disc One is a solid and effective conclusion. Once you get past the really ill-conceived sewer segment you are graced by a mini boss rush that feels appropriately placed, rather than say…THE FIRST MISSION AT DOLLET, HMM?

Moving on, rest assured that I have Carbuncle as a GF following my battle with Iguions. In large part thanks to Operation: Break This Game all of these battles went rather quickly allowing me to absorb the scenery. When I got around to the confrontation with Seifer rather than employ tactics or legitimate strategies I just started walloping him in the face with Squall’s gunblade. Now there are two reasons as to why I did this. The first being that it was 1 A.M. (a story for another time), and could not be bothered to put in the extra effort to care. The second reason is that I wanted to have Squall in Limit Break mode for either this or the next battle. Anyways I have to ask a Final Fantasy VIII neophyte question. When I am at low health and the Limit Break does not appear as a selectable attack, what do I do? I hear that if you select and cancel attack it resets and allows for the Limit Break to reappear, but I don’t know if that is true, nor do I understand how to do this. Anyways, I hit Seifer in the face like six or seven times, and he went down for the count which then led to a battle with Edea, or formerly known as “Purple Lady.”

By pure chance I was able to break my confrontation with Edea so is that it was a piece of cake. Firstly, I had Irvine shoot Edea in the face with his gun. More importantly, I had Rinoa test out Carbuncle during the battle. Now for some reason the designers prioritized Edea to dispel all positive status effects first, before attacking any party members for damage. This is great news for me as casting Carbuncle automatically bestows all of my party members with “Reflect,” which screws with Edea’s priorities.

With the battle now beside me, the game then moved onto the final cutscene of Disc One and BOY DID IT NOT DISAPPOINT! I plan on discussing Final Fantasy VIII’s use of the Hero’s Journey next episode, but for all intents and purposes this game finally decided to drop its hook and reel me in. Now there is no conceivable way that Squall is actually dead. However, creating the illusion that he is, is a great way to depict the heroes at their lowest point. More importantly it hooks me into seeing how the story justifies keeping him alive, and seeing where his party members end up. This scene also does a great job of establishing Edea as being a major threat to the world of Final Fantasy VIII, as prior to this scene she was all talk and no bite.

Everything about this scene is great!
Down goes Frazier!
Yup, good stuff!

Well done Final Fantasy VIII. You have finally decided to show your teeth, and a few cases of gingivitis on a number of your molars aside, I'm liking what I see. More importantly I'm in it for the long haul now. At twelve hours strong at this point you can safely assume that a new episode will be up next week.

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Playing My First Final Fantasy Game - Parts 9-20: Final Fantasy VIII is Breaking Me

<----- Parts 1-8

Part 0: A Little Introduction from Your Author

Dear readers I wish to express a story to you that acts as a caricature of my latest session with Final Fantasy VIII. Back when I was a freshman in college and was habituated in the college dorms I had a roommate that we will call “Arnold.” You see Arnold was one of those “straight edge” types and was really into working out, lifting weights, and refraining from the consumption of both alcohol and tobacco products. So let’s talk about one unusual character quirk that Arnold had. If Arnold did not sleep for at least six hours his body would behave as if it was intoxicated. So flash forward to the penultimate night before Winter Break and it is maybe two in the morning. I spent the night making about fifty chocolate dipped coconut macaroons for all of the people in my dorm, and I made them with a female compatriot who will go unnamed. Well Arnold you see had gone to a concert and arrived from the event as we just pulled the macaroons out of the oven, and he was clearly “tired drunk.” Well my female compatriot and I decided to have some fun with Arnold. We offered him two macaroons; now before I continue I wish to inform you that we did not make dainty ass macaroons. Conservatively I would estimate that each macaroon was approximately 150 to 200 calories each. So Arnold ate the two cookies quickly and this is where the trick begins, we asked Arnold to go ahead and have his second macaroon. Arnold, being “tired drunk,” excitedly said yes.

We repeated this, and by the time we had stopped Arnold had eaten around a dozen macaroons. We kept coercing him into having another macaroon whilst concealing the true number he had eaten to him. When he asked how many macaroons he had previously consumed we would always answer “two,” and then would state that we were insulted that he didn’t want to eat another one. Anyways let's just say that the morning after Arnold did not have any breakfast.

So dear readers why am I telling you this story from my college days? Why that is because @thatpinguino is me during the "macaroon incident," and I am Arnold. Why is that the case? Because @thatpinguino tricked me into playing four and a half hours of Final Fantasy VIII, when I only wanted to play two, AND I AM PISSED!

Part 9: Someone Responsible with the PC Port of This Should Be Punched

Alright so before we go onto my recent adventures we need to address the big elephant in the room from the previous episode: junctioning. For those of you that read the first episode of this you may recall that I had a fleeting grasp on how to junction in large part due to the PC controls. Through brute force I figured out how to junction and the series of button presses you must input when you are on the junction page. For those that are curious it goes like this:

  • X (to select the person) -> X (to select the GF) -> S (to bring of the list of possible abilities) -> X (to decided where the GF is going to be junctioned) -> C (to bring up the command list).

Now I wish to bring you back to the in-game guide for the controls that I referenced during the last episode as well:

Help me, someone help me

So maybe you can see why I was having issues with the junction screen. If you are not able to locate what the problem is I first want to ask you if you can find the S-key on the guide. Yeah, the guide indicates that the S-key is supposed to be the button that engages Triple Triade matches. Now this is MY BAD because Quistis does indeed indicate during her tutorial that you should use the S-key to bring up the abilities list when junctioning. Whatever, because what I am more perturbed by is related to the C-key. Now go back to that image and look-up what the C-key is used for.

That’s correct, the C-Key is SUPPOSED to be the “cancel” button. HOWEVER in this one instance it is the “BRING UP THE COMMAND LIST,” button. Do you want to know what the cancel button is when you are on the last junctioning screen prior to brining up the command list? It’s the X-key, which 99% of the time is the GODDAMNED SELECT BUTTON. But in this one goddamned case the designers decided that the X-key and C-key should switch places because “Command” starts with the letter-C. So here I was just jamming away at the X-key thinking it was going to bring up the command list when reality all I was doing was telling the game to navigate to the previous screen. All I can say is that this PC port was done by garbage people that have never used a computer before. Also, stop asking me to just plug in a controller because I don't have one that can do that.

So that’s done and dead. Let’s get onto the summary detailing what I was able to accomplish on Monday, because boy howdy…we have a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT to talk about today.

Part 10: Setting up the SeeD Exam

BAD!

So I’m still a little bewildered by the premise of both the garden and SeeD, and please bear with me if the game answers all of these questions later in the story. Also, no spoilers please. If anything just consider the following few paragraphs the ravings of a crazy person.

So I get that this is some sort of military academy that shares a great deal of independence from the other governing forces in the world of Final Fantasy VIII. Now what doesn’t make sense is…well everything else. For example after you complete the lava cave you are immediately greeted by Headmaster Cid, who as his title might suggest is the commandant of SeeD…or oh wait is it just this garden? Anyways normally, and I may be incorrectly applying real life logic here, headmasters of military academies are like high ranking officials from a specific branch of the military.

The problem is that Cid looks like a regular dude, and NOT even a current member of SeeD. In fact, as many people have already pointed out, he looks like Robin Williams. Why is Robin Williams the one to tell me how act on the battlefield when he looks like a substitute teacher you can find at any old public school? I mean he looks like he could barely do a single chin-up! I mean at least Quistis is established as being a prodigy of SeeD so you have some sense of respect for her when she tries to help and assist her students, but this?. Who is this guy?

Additionally, and I'll try to refrain from getting too hypercritical, our exam is fighting in a battle during a war. How do you grade that? Does SeeD have cameras all over the battlefield just spying on the students watching them perform? Does SeeD have some sort of Ministry of Truth that is always observing the students' every movement and action? Are there instructors secretly shadowing their students to see what they do during the battle, and then do nothing when their students are in extreme danger? Or, are they just relying on the testimonies of all of the students participating in this exam? That sounds like a terrible idea, and I can tell you that as a teacher. Another thing, how is this school preventing students from being maimed or even killed during this exam? Oh my God…this is the worst school in video game history! I challenge anyone to name a school that is worse than this. Whoever accredited this school clearly was paid off.

Part 11: I Met Zell

These are not human beings
These are not even teenagers
I mean a simple handshake and a hello would have been fine
Are there going to be ANY male cast members that have NOT messed up their faces?

This game has a cast full of nightmare people. Please send help.

Part 12: Off to the Battlefield, or Oh Wait Exam, No Wait Both?

So the game has a quick little story moment with Squall, Zell, Seifer, and finally Quistis as they are being transported to their "exam." Now the whole point of this scene is to establish that Squall is an emotionless blob with no redeeming qualities, because that’s how I felt by the time the scene ended. The problem that I have with Squall is that he completely fails to engage other cast members as a human being. Twice he responded to other characters with an ellipses, and worse yet he shows no form of self-motivation when interacting with others. He’s just in this state of self-loathing once the scene starts with no clear indication as to why that is the case. I would be fine with an angsty teenager as my protagonist, but the game has to actually build up that angsty teenager up as a character and take the time to provide them with an "arc." Final Fantasy VIII has failed to do this up to this point so yeah Squall comes across as this blob of nothingness.

The rest of the cast does not bode well with me either. Zell is the goofy comic-relief sidekick that oftentimes lets his emotions get the better of him. Siefer is clearly established as being a villainous inversion of Squall. Let me make one prediction right now regarding Siefer: Siefer will fall to the dark side because he doesn't want to play by the rules, and feels like an organization like SeeD is holding him back because he's confident that he is already destined for greatness? Then finally you have Quistis…and I have no idea what her character arc is right now. Honestly the game has yet to be really forthcoming as to what any of these characters are feeling or thinking, so I’ll give the game more time before I pass judgement on Quistis’s characterization.

Oh real quick I have to complain about the PC controls again. Now I know that a lot of you are tired about me complaining about this stuff, but I promise to be real quick about this one. First I want you to guess what YOU THINK the controls are for vehicles in this game are!

.

.

.

.

Alright here’s the answer:

Did whoever that ported this game know what a computer is?

That’s right dear readers…the S-key is forward, the C-key is backwards, the X-key is exit the vehicle, and the F-key allows you to change the POV. Alright look here Game…what are you trying to do to me, give me an aneurism? You keep telling me that the S-key is for starting a Triple Triade match, and the C-key is cancel! Now the C-key is go backwards, and the X-key is exit? I’m looking at my keyboard and I’m noticing that “S” and “C” don’t even freaking touch each other. Why would you not just default with the arrow keys? Why am I asking a video game to have control consistency?

Part 13: We are Going to War…I Guess?

Now for any concerned users that have been following me I want for you to know that I do understand how the “drawing system” in Final Fantasy VIII works. This is in large part thanks to my Final Fantasy VIII Sherpa thatpinguino. As it stands each member of my motley crew has a junctioned GF with at least ten to fifteen casts of “Cure” at their disposal. I'll talk more about my feelings about the drawing system as I go, but right now I would say that I find the system annoying, but inoffensive. The only criticism that I will share about drawing is that I wished that it was more like Pokemon. Essentially what I am asking for are stations that immediately replenish all of my spells up to a certain point for all of my party members. Certainly there are draw points, but those are all over the place and only replenish a single spell.

Speaking of the gameplay, I guess I should thank the game for having the first handful of battles with the Galbadian army be easy, and as such allow for a little experimentation on my part. I would also like to thank the army of Galbadia for sending their D-Tier soldiers to the Siege of Dollet. That is good news for Squall and company, because as you can see here SeeD didn’t exactly have the best general in charge of re-securing the town:

Yup, great work Eisenhower! Just charge the enemy directly with an army comprising of teenagers!

Anyways I get that this is a test and all but that leads to more questions than answers for me. What happens when there aren't a lot of wars going on? What happens when the world of Final Fantasy VIII achieves world peace? Is there an alternative test for the potentially hundreds of students that no longer are able to graduate? Or what happens when there's a massive economic depression and no one can afford to pay SeeD their asking price? Does that mean that everyone has to take a gruelling multiple choice test to figure out who is ready to murder for money? WHY AM I ASKING THESE QUESTIONS?

Part 14: I Met Selphie (Again?)

How are...
... you still ...
... alive?

This game has a cast full of nightmare peop...oh wait a minute I already made that joke.

Anyways how has Selphie managed to survive this battle if she is established as being klutz? In the background there are sounds of gunshots and artillery fire booming. Was it really appropriate to have her introduction be her tripping and falling in the middle of a warzone? Also, you can’t have a second comic-relief character when you just gave me Zell ten minutes ago! Firstly, because that is character redundancy! Secondly, this cast IS GOING TO DRIVE ME INSANE!

Part 15: This is a Radio Tower of Great Importance…I Think?

So the party finally arrives to a giant radio tower of great importance because of something. This also leads me to another major problem that I have with this sequence. WHERE IS EVERYONE ELSE? In the very first scene leading up to this sequence it was suggested that Squall's group was the last of a number of squads seeking to pass the SeeD exam. So did everyone decide to give up and wait for the next SeeD exam, because this battle was too difficult? Squall is honestly behind enemy lines in a matter of minutes and there is no one around him besides his party. Man if I was the governor or President that paid SeeD money to save my town I would be PISSED. Here you are expecting the best of the best and instead you get this army of untrained teenagers that immediately start cowering in the nearest coffee shop when confronted by danger. Or you get a lot of Siefers that just charge straight into the enemy and die immediately.

So Selphie has never seen an escalator before?

Anyways you end up fighting Biggs and Wedge Antilles. There's really nothing to say about this battle other than mentioning how inconsequential it is. Actually let's talk about that and why this battle should not be here! This is the FIRST of THREE boss battles. By itself this fight is easy, but compound this battle with the next two and it becomes a complete wash and waste of time. Sure you can draw some magic from them, but there are going to big two big boss battles immediately after them, so why have this fight in the first place?

Part 16: BOSS BATTLE WITH HELLSPAWN TIME!!!

I’m going to be honest with you and just say that I died the first time I fought this boss. There were a couple of major mistakes that I made though. Firstly I forgot to use my limit breaks which I know was a critical mistake. Secondly, whilst trying to revive a downed party member I accidentally used a Phoenix Down on the boss and I don't think you are supposed to do that. So, apologies to Zell for that. Finally, I forgot to assign one of my junctions to have the ability to cast magic. All in all my first encounter with this boss went poorly, and as a result you can officially put a "1" on my "DEATH COUNTER."

Using a Phoenix Down on this boss may be my "Bufu Moment"

So that first loss is on me and not the game. However, between that and my successful second attempt I came to a startling realization that rocked me: THESE BOSS BATTLES ARE REALLY LONG! It doesn't help that I have to do the battle with Biggs and Wedge all over again on top of fighting this demon hellspawn. What really grinds my gears is how this monster has way more health in comparison to the previous battles I have encountered up to this point. This is the second real boss and the game just decided to exponentially jump the difficulty by the power of three. Now before any of you ask, YES I did cast “draw” on the boss demon in order to steal Siren from it.

As for the battle itself I played it really conservative on my second go. I attacked with summons whenever possible, and used draw to cast “Cure” whenever one of my party members got into the “danger zone.” The unintended consequence of this is that it elongated the battle by a good twenty minutes. You combine my low damage levels on top of the ridiculous summon times in this game, and it ended up feeling like a slog. Compound this with the fact that I am a Final Fantasy neophyte and the results are that my nerves are starting to shatter. Luckily for me nerves I finally did beat the evil hellspawn from parts unknown and rushed to save my game.

Then the game broke me.

Part 17: The Robot Spider of Doom - Or the Moment Final Fantasy VIII Broke Me

This boss...it is pure evil!

This boss just completely exhausted me. Not only is this the THIRD boss battle in a row, but it is also one of the most annoying confrontations that I have ever experienced in a video game. Luckily Zell came to the rescue by still having Thunder Chicken at his disposal, and in this games’ elemental strength/weakness system machines are luckily weak to electricity.

Now…whoever planned the sequence of events for this part of the game is a bad person. WHO THINKS IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO DO A BOSS RUSH IN THE SECOND OR THIRD SET PIECE IN A GAME? WHO?! WHY?! Now put a time limit on this final boss battle, and you've got me sweating bullets! Anyways what makes this whole confrontation worse is how quickly the Robot Spider of Doom recovers from its damage. You put in like five to seven minutes of trying to knock this fucker down and it gets up in maybe...four seconds only to attack you again and start an entirely new battle all over again.

Add insult to injury using the menu to heal or tinker with your junctions COUNTS AS YOUR TIME!!! I’m trying to get a breather and this game won’t stop punching me in the gut! Additionally my Sherpa later informs me that there is a secret way to avoid fighting the Robot Spider of Doom THAT THE GAME NEVER INDICATES IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM! I must concede that I never “died” at the hands of the Robot Spider of Doom, but that doesn't mean that I was looking forward to fighting this stupid thing four times!

When I finally reach the beach Quistis has the genius idea of using a machine gun to blow the Robots Spider of Doom to the pits of Hell. Which I should be applauding, but inside causes me to rage a torment of flames. Some test Quistis...was a giant goddamned robot spider on your rubric?

Part 18: Can Someone Teach Me What Emotions are, Because I Can’t Feel Anymore

Here's my SeeD score:

Yup fighting a robots spider isn't on the rubric, but "Spirit" and "Attitude" are

I will attempt to provide humorous commentary when my brain is not fried. Is a SeeD rank of five good or bad? You know what, don't answer that because I honestly have zero fucks to give anymore. I just don't really care because I'm just happy that this is over and done with. Oh wait…there’s one thing that I want to talk about during this interlude, and it’s shit like this:

Selphie is literally jumping for joy at the prospect of being a mercenary. Zell is excited about being a child soldier that will at some point be ordered to kill people. What the fuck kind of world is this? Are they just excited about getting money, or is my party actually populated by psychopaths that want to kill? I have to go back to the point that I have now made a number of times: these are nightmare people! These characters are not behaving like human beings, because real human beings do not act like this when it comes to joining the military or in this case a mercenary group. I’m oddly enough starting to see why Squall does not want to talk to any of these people…oh no I really have lost my sanity. I'm starting to agree with Squall!

I should now mention that it was at this point that I WANTED to stop playing Final Fantasy VIII, but instead @thatpinguino kept goading me to keep on going. I listened to him because I trusted that the next few scenes would be worth it. They were not.

Part 19: Dance Dance Revolution…Also Squall is a Dick

The game then has a dance sequence because the game needed yet another scene where Squall acts like a soulless irredeemable asshole to everyone around him. I got so fed up with this that I actually had Squall agree to help Selphie out with whatever committee she asked me to join. Look game writers, I know you want to be really edgy because this game was being made in the late nineties, but you have been pushing it a little too hard with Squall. How do I know this? Well because I am starting to feel that Squall has no redeeming characteristics and as a result want him to not talk whenever he interacts with another character. This is your protagonist, and this is how I already feel about him!

Then Squall meets up with…someone. It's the female character that the introduction cut to in very beginning. So one last thing about that; did Squall also see those quick smash cuts to this character as well, or was that just something that I, the player, saw? I ask because this scene seems to suggest that Squall and whoever this is have some sort of confused or unknown history between each other that the game does not want to reveal right now. Anyways Squall is a dick to her but she forces him to dance in a scene that I can only call “fanservice.” I mean this scene is only here to look cool and impress people who like Final Fantasy, but for me it’s just kind of here. Maybe I would have cared if there were characters that I knew or cared about?

Uhh...do I know you?
Raise your hand if you think you could beat Squall at Dance Dance Revolution.
Oh look! Squall felt something for the first time in this entire game!
I wish I could still feel emotions....
Always get tested before dancing with a random partner, Dance Transmitted Diseases (DTDs) are serious business!

Part 20: I Hate Quistis, but I Hate Squall Even More

I was honestly going to call it after the dance sequence but then Quistis told me that she wanted to show me a "Secret Area." Prior to that Quistis starts to convey some feelings towards Squall, and I'll be honest with you I side with Squall on this one. Quistis is an adult as well as an instructor, and personally I find this entire scene creepy. So I'm really confused at what the purpose of this scene is when this happened:

FUCK!

How many different systems are there in this game? HOW MANY? HOW MANY MORE TUTORIALS ARE THERE?! HOW MANY MORE UNINTUITIVE SCREENS ARE IN THIS GAME! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Before you ask...you bet your ass that I sped through this. Whatever, I'll deal with it when it becomes necessary to understand the importance of this mechanic, which I am betting will be the T-Rex enemy that Quistis referenced when she first met and started talking to Squall. Fine...I'll fight a T-Rex let's find this "Secret Area" so I can get some more of Squall being an asshole characterization.

BUT WAIT! I have to fight through an army of plant monsters to get there! That's not a "Secret Area" Quistis. That's a "we designed this labyrinthine practice room and decided to put a room where you can get a break from all of these monsters Area." Anyways it just so happens that you draw the magic that Quisitis mentioned will easily defeat the T-Rex. So it's going to be a "tutorial boss," awesome thanks for that game!

So we get through all of this bullshit and lo and behold I was right! Squall is a total asshole to Quistis when she shares with him that she has lost her position as an instructor in SeeD. He's standoffish and fails to comfort her when clearly she just wants some words of assurance during a time of stress. It's a Squall-ass Squall sequence and results in the unintended consequence of me being completely incapable of relating or understanding Squall's angst. I mean Jesus Squall Quistis is ONLY one year older than you!

Wait a minute....
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!

How is Quistis a still a teenager? I...what? Who designed these characters? How old is headmaster Robin Williams, twenty one? How about all of those weird robed people? Are they secretly just three kids standing on each others shoulders?

This game is actually set IN HELL! A Hell where the world is run by teenagers! I'm sorry but I can't...I just can't anymore, this BLOG IS DONE!

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Playing My First Final Fantasy Game - Parts 1-8: Getting Use to Final Fantasy VIII

Parts 9-20 ----->

Part 1: Introductions – Or Why Am I Doing This

As mentioned before I have the noted distinction of having never played a Final Fantasy game before. For this introductory paragraph, I will go ahead and explain why I selected Final Fantasy VIII to end that horrible pox. Firstly, I do not own any Sony based platforms at all which seriously limited my choices. This also meant that I was stuck with whatever games were available on the PC. Luckily for me Steam had its Summer Sale and Final Fantasy VII and VIII where both half off. Now why I selected VIII over VII falls squarely on the shoulders of my “Final Fantasy Sherpa@thatpinguino who rope-a-doped me into doing this. Firstly he indicated that VIII was easier than VII, and secondly he felt it would be funnier to see me react to VIII rather than VII. I guess I have to discover what he means by that latter fact as I play more of this game.

Part 2: Everything I Know About Final Fantasy (the Franchise) Before Starting This

Now of course I have talked to people that have actually played Final Fantasy games before. Surprise suprise wink wink nudge nudge. I have no idea where I was going with that. Not knowing even an infinitesimal amount of Final Fantasy trivia or nomenclature is all but impossible in this day and age. However, I’m not starting out with a lot. So to show you how “dire” my understanding of the beloved Final Fantasy franchise is here’s a list of everything I already know about it:

  • Final Fantasy VIII stars Squall.
  • Final Fantasy VII stars Cloud
  • The villain of Final Fantasy VIII is Ultimecia.
  • Aeries dies in Final Fantasy VII.
  • Kafka is not a modernist author, but an evil clown.
  • Ozma is a really hard boss.
  • I will be using Phoenix Down.
  • Spoony Bard
  • Son of a submariner.
  • People love Final Fantasy Tactics.
  • Cast life on Sin.

List of proper nouns that I know come from Final Fantasy: Golbez, Cid, Aeries, Kafka, Shinra Corp., Tidus, Barrett, Lightning, Squall, Vanilla, and Noel.

Yup that’s it! I am so doomed.

Part 3: First Impressions are Everything – Or I Don't Understand the First Ten Minutes of This Game

Why are the introductory credits introduced with a montage of black and white stock photos of characters I have never seen before? This introductory montage is baffling and incredibly weird especially considering that all of the photos appear to be sequences that I will latter experience in the game. What's the purpose of this, and why would you include this? Worse yet is how most of the photos have been hilarious cropped to remove the faces of the characters in them. If you really needed and introductory credit sequence then just have white text on a black background with orchestral music.

What is the purpose of this?

Then we have our introductory cutscene which already plows the seeds of confusion into my skull. Firstly, I have to give the game credit where credit is due. The character designs and cut scenes do not look as outdated as I had originally anticipated. This cold open however, featuring who I can only assume is Squall with a yet unnamed antagonist, is a bit too cold for my tastes. Not only do I not have any idea why these two are fighting, or what they are fighting for, but there are these sudden smash cuts to this dark haired female character with zero proper juxtapositioning. This introduction is a rather dizzying ordeal and it is further compounded by the fact that there is no dialogue. Yes I understand what the technological limitations of 1999 are, but holy crap I have no idea what is going on right now. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? WHO AM I? WHY ARE WE FIGHTING? WHERE ARE MY PANTS?

We then transition to Squall waking up in a hospital bed. It is there that the game makes the horrible mistake of allowing me to name Squall to whatever I please. Now I have to let you in on an odd gaming habit that I have. Ever since I started playing games I have always named my characters after California politicians from the 1990s to early 2000s. You can blame SimCity 2000 and 3000 for starting that habit. Anyways the result of this is that Squall is now named “Jerry B,” after California’s most famous octogenarian, and current governor, Jerry Brown. This taskmaster isn’t just going to solve California’s water crisis, but he is also going defeat all of the evil of the world of Final Fantasy VIII. Wait a minute...where is this game taking place?

I'm not joking about how I named Squall

Once I’m done naming Squall I am already asking myself a myriad of question like the one above. Most of them are absolutely inane. Like, what is going on in this world where teenagers are trusted with giant swords with guns on them? That and if the introductory cutscene is to believed then I got into a huge fight with giant swords, why have I not been suspended.? What’s up with the discipline in this school?

You want to know which post-apocalyptic future I wouldn’t want to be in? The one where teenagers are smacking each other in the face with giant swords with guns built into them. That’s even bellow Fallout 3 for me.

Part 5: The Moment I Realized I Was in Trouble

Alright, let’s roll this one back because I can already anticipate what one of the biggest issues with this game is going to be. The default keyboard controls for this game are MAD WHACK! Sorry that was my attempt to try and talk like it was 1999. Anyways take a gander at the default key bindings for Final Fantasy VIII on the PC:

[insert fart sound noises]

No WASD, no mouse control, and I still have no idea what the “HOME” button is. Oh, and by the way you have to use the arrow keys to move around in the world. I am going to have to change these key bindings or else I am going to die.

Anyways at this point Squall is now under the careful ward of Quistis, who I assume is a teacher otherwise Squall’s permissiveness with how he follows her without question is rather troubling. In fact before this I took a deck of playing cards from a random dude so maybe abductions and kidnappings aren't a thing in this world. Anyways let’s talk about the importance of “place.” So this is like a school for teenagers that can cast magic? It’s kind of like Starfleet Academy but Final Fantasy? Even if you responded with “no” in regards to that last analogy I’m still going to pretend that this game is secretly set in the Star Trek universe otherwise I will lose my fleeting grasp over what is going on right now. Rather than hit me up with tutorial after tutorial the game should have just paused for a bit and explain what is going on with the world, even if that meant a ten minute talking sequence with no gameplay.

I like the look of the world which is why I wished the game actually took the time to establish the importance of "the Garden". It is a fantastical and beautiful environment to look at even today, but I wanted it to be a character in and of itself earlier. I guess what I am trying to get at is that I hope that the designer’s intent was to have me, the player, feel as out of water and bewildered as Squall. If not then I find it hard already to be enamored with this world.

Part 6: Junctioning – Or: OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THIS WORKS!!!!!!!

I mean don’t even understand how to "junction" abilities to my command list. Here’s the screen when I junction:

OH GOD what is this screen?

You see that “Command” list where I am supposed to assign abilities like draw or summon? How do I put stuff in that? I finally was able to put stuff into that list after randomly hitting buttons on my keyboard, but I don’t actually understand how I did that. In conjunction with that, do you want to know what I think is a major jerk move? Having a tutorial that shows you how to junction abilities and not have any of the junctions shown during that tutorial stick permanently. Here I was thinking that Squall was all set up for battle when a neon rib cage decided to attack me only to discover that the only thing I can do is "attack".

I didn't actually realize that something was wrong until I reached the “Educational Lava Cave of Doom.” Which I might say I couldn’t find because the game didn’t give me a way point and I accidentally went to the town with the train station instead. Thanks game. Anyways I finally realized the importance of having actual junctions while in the Educational Lava Cave of Doom, but only after I had engaged the first timed mission. One more thing and ties into the fact that Squall is named "Jerry B." I have named have named all of the junctions after political terms. Right now Quistis has been junctioned with “Veto,” and Squall has been junctioned with “Fillibust-(er).”

This is not a place for a field trip!

Don’t actually answer this question, but why are all of the summons in this game named after major and minor deities in Western and Eastern religions? I get that it is kind of awesome to be able to summon “Shiva” to fight for you, but why are Hindu based Gods in a world that, at least from inference, is not on Earth? I guess I can chalk that one up as an anachronism.

Part 7: Victory Amidst Despair - Beating My First Final Fantasy Boss

Or how I used spam to defeat the first boss. I completely forgot that you want to grind in JRPGs, so when Quistis told me that I had to report to the Educational Lava Cave of Doom I interpreted that literally. I booked it to the cave, and the game decided to let me set my own countdown for defeating the first boss. After consulting my Final Fantasy Sherpa I elected to go with thirty minutes in hopes that I can use the extra time to finally figure out how to junction my executive powers.

TWELVE MINUTES LATER!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPE!

I managed to junction Quistis and Squall, but only as a result of me randomly pressing all of the buttons on my keyboard. Anyways at this point the timer ticked down to the eighteen minute mark and I had not even made any progress whatsoever with the Educational Lava Cave of Doom. Now about that, I just want to say that as a high school teacher that I would revoke the accreditation of this school for having this be a required field trip for their students. Firstly it’s a FREAKING LAVA CAVE! Secondly, what happens when you have a student accidentally trip? They fall into a pit of lava. HOw do you insure that? Alternatively, what if you have a tenured teacher that does not give a shit because they are only two years away from retirement? All I am saying is that this looks like a school designed by assholes that want to see fewer teenagers in the world.

By the time I reach what I can only assume is the boss I am down to the sixteen-minute mark. During that battle I realized that my lack of grinding really is coming to bite me in the ass as my regular attacks are only doing maybe thirty points of damage each. After consulting my Sherpa, I decided to employ my only reliable weapon against this boss…summoning spam.

Have fun back in committee!

I just started spamming my summons repeatedly until the boss was defeated, and this strategy worked perfectly. On one hand I beat my first Final Fantasy boss; on the other hand, I got some BIG ISSUES to deal with if I want to survive battles that are more difficult in the future. Also, after getting back to the Garden rather than call it a day Quistis decides to teach me another important and convoluted game mechanic, “elemental junction abilities.” I have to be honest…I totally blew through this tutorial and did not pay attention to what she was saying. I was exhausted and wanted to call it a day, and can you blame me? That and I should probably figure out how to junction stuff into my command list first.

Lastly, can I just say that this boss battle makes no thematic sense whatsoever? So if going into the Educational Lava Cave of Doom is a required rite of passage for all students at the Garden then does that mean that everyone experiences this exact boss battle and has Ifrit as a possible junction? On the flipside, is there a rotating cast of minor deities that have been given the shitty job of eventually being enslaved by plucky teenagers? Like if I encountered another student would they have Ifrit as a junction, or a completely different deity from the lava cave? I think I’m asking way too many questions at this point, but I’m a nitpicker at heart and what can I say?

Part 8: Finishing My First Hour - I HAVE SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Alright so when you attack with Squall you can actually time your physical attacks in order to maximize damage when attacking. So far I have been just mashing on “G” in order to activate the Gunblade. Unless one of you can inform me why I should not do this I am going to stick with this strategy. If there’s one thing I lack it giving a damn right now.
  • One other thing, while I was conducting the journey back to the Garden Squall ended up with low health and started crouching on the ground like he was constipated. It is at this point that I discovered what a “Limit Break” was. As an outsider let me just provide my possibly incorrect opinion pertaining to Limit Breaks…these seem totally broken. Not only do they deal a ridiculous amount of damage they appear to encourage players to get down to low health rather than defend their health. Secondly, why does the game never take the time to explain what a limit break is if it is huge damage dealer? I would have preferred learning about Limit Breaks, which are tangible and easy to understand, than freaking elemental junctions!

Anyways I have completed the first hour to my first Final Fantasy game. So far so good. While I do recognize that I have a long way to go before I even veer close to being competent at the game it still feels doable to see through it all the way. That said if there is one thing I really hope for it is that that was the last timed mission that I will have to experience. The last thing I need while dealing with crippling key bindings is a time limit.

40 Comments

Summer Blog Plans - Video Games, Anime, and Plans for the Future

Since the Community Spotlight moved to front page status my blogging activity has petered down significantly on Giant Bomb. To at least temporarily remedy this I have set up some significant plans for this Summer. Some of these I am excited about, one of these I already regret agreeing to doing, and maybe I will get to another point? Anyways Summer is going to be busy, and in order to at least placate my loss of what should be a restful and relaxing period of time I have set forth my plans to remedy that problem.

I have ranked my plans based on a triage system. With Triage Level I being something I have to do now, and Triage Level IV being something that has been sent to the morgue.

Triage Level I - I Have to Do This Because I Made a Stupid Bet That I Already Regret

I am going to play Final Fantasy VIII.

I have to do this out of obligation

This is going to be the first Final Fantasy game that I have ever played. By the way you can thank @thatpinguino for this "momentous" occasion. Shortly after his Final Fantasy IX speedrun for the Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run I informed him that I have never played a Final Fantasy game. To say that he was flabbergasted would be an understatement. For the next TWO MONTHS he harangued me to rectify what he considered to be my greatest gaming shame. Then maybe...a month ago pajamasampenguinman and I agreed to a compromise. I would play Final Fantasy VIII if he would play Myst without a guide, and we would both publish competing blogs at the same time. I should also mention that the rules that we agreed to state that I too have to play Final Fantasy VIII without a guide. My first Final Fantasy...light seeds...junctions...and Squall. No guide. I am doomed.

Yes this is a terrible idea. I am going to hate this game, I am going to hate myself, and I am going to express my anger in ways that I feel I should preemptively apologize for right now.

Are there better Final Fantasy games, or even JRPGs for that matter, to start with for a person like me? Absolutely! However, Final Fantasy VIII was agreed to be the most comedic pick for my summer plans. Also, I do not own any Sony platforms so I have to go with whichever games were available on Steam. Those factoids aside I hope you will join me as I experience pure pain and dread this summer.

Triage Level II - It is About Time That I Finally Do This

I am going to do a retrospective of Kill la Kill.

This should happen out of principle

Ask any member of the Giant Bomb Anime sub-community how I feel about Kill la Kill and they will laugh hysterically about how I am a crazy raving maniac.

They are correct BUT I have to finally convey my crazy ravings about why I think Kill la Kill is a garbage ABOMINATION BULLSH...wait sorry let's save this for the blog series when it finally deploys.

I have to do this. I mean the English dub deployed before I finally started a retrospective, and that is just shameful! I need this more than anything else, and honestly I do not care that I may have missed the boat in terms of when it was "topical" to talk about Kill la Kill! The world needs to know the truth. My truth.

Triage Level III - I Plan on Doing This but Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu ... I Have Lot to Do This Summer.

Maybe play games that I was not been rope-a-doped into playing, or watch something I actually enjoy watching?

I will "try" to make this happen.

I recall mentioning at the end of 2014 starting a retrospective of every anime based on a video game. Maybe I'll start that by the end of Summer, because I still like the idea. I also recall mentioning trying to play DmC: Devil May Cry which is a well regarded game from another franchise that I have never experienced. That or Metal Gear Solid. Or maybe I play Chrono Trigger? Many of you mentioned that the paltry number of turned based game that I have played is so pitiful that I should consider playing that and discussing what I think about it.

Triage Level IV - This Has Been Sent to the Morgue

My vision of breaking 10,000 wiki points is dead.

Every now and again I remind myself that I use to be a fairly good platform page wiki editor as well as a credits page editor, but those days are done. I just do not have the time to repeat those halcyon days of sinking in two to three hours on the Giant Bomb wiki anymore. It is a shame because I truly care about the Giant Bomb wiki, but I just lack the free time to rally show that passion anymore.

33 Comments

I Played Twelve Hours of Mario Party 10 - My Final Impressions (Hint: I Like Mario Party)

So Mario Party.....

I have never played a game developed by Square Enix, Blizzard, nor Atlus . I have never played a game directed by Hideo Kojima. Instead I have accomplished a different gaming feat worthy of a mighty prize indeed:

I have played every single Mario Party game ever made…yes even the handheld editions.

This year Mario Party 10 was released and in order to maintain this gaming feat of mine I recently invited a friend of mine to bring their Wii U. Over the course of three solid weeks I have now played approximately twelve hours of the game, and as any purveyor of video game websites I have decided to encapsulate my potentially polarizing opinions about the game for your own visceral and visual entertainment.

Rule Changes to Standard Ass Mario Party

Much to the chagrin of fans of the series like myself Mario Party 10 maintains all of the rule changes from Mario Party 9. For those that are unaware of what those changes are here’s the gist of it:

  • Players do not collect stars and coins and instead collect Mini Stars, ala Super Mario Galaxy, and work on increasing a running total of mini stars. There are ztars that negatively impact this total.
  • Players move collectively and on a single vehicle.
  • Items and the item shop have been removed completely. In their stead there are different types of dice. These dice are the only possible "items" in the game:
    1. Dice Block - Your standard 1-6 die.
    2. Slow Dice Block - Slows the dice block so you can easily pick your number.
    3. 0-1 Dice Block - Changes the dice block to feature only the numbers 0 and 1.
    4. 1-2-3 Dice Block - Changes the dice block to feature only the numbers 1, 2, and 3.
    5. Slow 1-2-3 Dice Block - Slow the 1-2-3 dice to where you can easily pick a number.
    6. 4-5-6 Dice Block - Changes the dice block to feature only the numbers 4, 5, and 6.
    7. Double Dice Block – You get two die. Woo-hoo!
  • Minigames are not played at the end of a turn and instead are only played if you land on a minigame space. Sometimes you will land on spaces that engage a minigame despite not being a minigame space. It's secretly the game realizing that you have not played enough minigames at a certain point, which we will discuss later.
  • Boards are not circular, and instead are linear with a Point A and Point B. The game ends when you reach the end of the board.
  • There are five total bonus stars but only two of those bonus stars are put into play to boost the star totals of players. Possible bonus stars range from “Most spaces moved forward,” to the atypical “most minigames won.”
  • Matches take at most thirty minutes, and there are no “turns.” You finish your game when you reach the end of the map.
  • Bowser Spaces do not exist until players roll a “full house.” He roars at you via the Wii U gamepad to remind you when you are getting closer to unlocking him.
  • Each board has a mid-boss as well as a final boss at the end.

Playing Standard Ass Mario Party

So yes, there are no “stars” nor items in this Mario Party game, and a lot of bellyaching has been made about that point as well as the decision to group players onto the same vehicle. In practice both of these changes address one of the biggest and most pressing issue facing the Mario Party franchise: it’s just too freaking long to complete one game. The linear maps also assist in this regard as matches realistically cannot possibly last more than thirty to forty minutes.

Vinny's Rule 1-1 Applies to Mario Party 10

The collective movement gives Mario Party 10 the added benefit of being…the least annoying edition to the series in a long time. The collective movement means that there are fewer surprises in this version. Event/Happening Spaces are also less annoying. When you land on event spaces rather than screwing up players that happen to be in a specific area, events usually just deduct mini-stars from the player that landed on the space. Now, there are still plenty surprises, and Bowser will fuck you up if you land on him or unlock him in this edition. There are also an increase in the number of board specific “Special Events” in this edition, and these more so than in nine can be game ending. THAT SAID the decision to randomize the bonus stars that are awarded at the end, and also limit that number to two, is a genius design decision. The linear maps also have the added benefit of preventing user confusion about where to go next on the map, as many of you may have seen during the Mario Party 4 stream on Giant Bomb.

However, where does that leave Mario Party 10 for people who actually like playing Mario Party games? Well conflicted to say the least. All of the changes that I have mentioned addressed one problem to Mario Party, but have worsened or created all new ones as a result. The biggest of which is related to the number of minigames that you will play for the duration of a match. It is very much possible for you to only play maybe three or four minigames total during a single session; in fact it happened to my party twice.

I should also add that there are only five boards in this outing. Now I know what you are thinking, and yes most of Mario Party games do only have five maps. However, with all of these rule changes five maps is simply not enough content. By converting the format of the boards you essentially see everything there is to see on the maps in one thirty minute session meaning that boards lack any longevity after one play-through. In the standard format there were plenty of cases where after playing a fifty turn match I still felt like there was more to see on maps. I should also mention that one of the maps is Bowser’s Castle which you will only want to play once meaning the actual total is four. Much has been said about the fabled “Price to Game Hours” ratio, but I am just going to go on record and say that five maps at maybe thirty five minutes each…is not exactly worth fifty to forty dollars. Which then places a great deal of the burden of justifying purchasing this entry on the other modes and additional features..which we will get to.

The minigames…still repeat the same minigames within the same match, and have become increasingly reliant on counting and memory games. Given that they are experienced at a limited basis this is completely baffling. Worse yet is how once the party reaches the middle point of the map the player in last place gets to pick, from a selection of three, which minigames are played. Now to many this may sound like a good change. However, for me this meant that my drunken friends kept picking the same games over and over again because they felt more comfortable playing something “safe,” rather than something new. That said with each entry it seems as if the emphasis on the minigames grows weaker and weaker. Also, my criticism of the minigames being too reliant on counting and memory games is moot as every entry seems to zero in on one style or flavors of minigame the most. For example let's not forget the "Mash A to win" nature of Mario Party 4.

Playing the Amiibo Boards

In theory this mode was envisioned to be the “alternative mode” for people who want to play more traditional Mario Party. In execution this mode is completely worthless. While this mode tasks players with collecting coins, playing minigames at the end of a turns, and using coins to purchase stars a couple of design decisions spoil this mode. Firstly the boards are all exactly the same shit over and over again.

Are you thinking that I’m being hyperbolic? Here’s the board that you play on if you play the Mario Amiibo:

That's a Fucking Square!!!

Now here’s the map that you play on if you utilize the Peach Amiibo:

That is..Another Fucking Square!!!

Yoshi Amiibo:

WELL SHIT SON!

YUUUUUUUUUUUP all of the maps are just squares. Each board has one map specific feature that lets the player collect more coins, most of the time from other players, but they are still boring ass squares. Like I said this mode is worthless, and as such I only really played it twice.

Playing Bowser Party

This is Some Tense Some Right Here!

Now here’s where actual fun can be had in regards to Mario Party 10. There are two distinct “flavors” Bowser Party, and both are actually fun. The first is perfect if you have that one person in your party that enjoys being a troll. In that mode you have two to four players on “Team Mario,” and another player playing as Bowser using the Wii U pad. If you play in Team Mario each player takes a turn and works towards trying to get the team as far away from the Bowser player as possible with the goal being able to reach the end of the map. Bowser on the other hand has to gobble up all of the members of Team Mario by depleting their hearts during minigames or board based events. The other version has all of the players on Team Mario and working together to get to the end of the board and away from an A.I. controlled Bowser.

I really enjoyed this mode as it takes the luck based aspect of Mario Party and finally embraces it, as well as tame it. Now that players work as a group if one player rolls poorly you can then rely on the next team member to bail you out. Also with special die blocks being shared there is a sense of collective strategy. Bowser on the other hand works to ruin the fun of the other players, and plays off of the trollish undertones of Mario Party’s luck based nature. More importantly players are participants in all parts of Mario Party’s shenanigans. If you are Bowser you are actively trying to ruin people’s fun, and for everyone else you are trying to frustrate that one person that wants to ruin the fun for everyone.

In this one mode it appears, very briefly, a viable alternative to the standard Mario Party playstyle. There were plenty of times when someone was playing as Bowser and completely fucked up team Mario in one minigame, and in this mode that is all in good fun. Bowser Party also puts stakes on the minigames as each hit from Bowser removes your heart, thus finally integrating the minigames with the actual game. Sure the minigames are all cheap parlor tricks meant to waste away hearts but it is a nice inversion of the standard format. The issue is that of the five boards, only three can play this mode.

Final Assessment

Despite my best efforts, and every bone in my body telling me to be a Mario Party apologist…I can’t...I just cannot recommend Mario Party 10 with a straight face. There are still people that will get some semblance of joy out of this game, but those are crazy people like me that enjoy playing a game as mindless and trollish as this. I mean I had fun…with one third of the game. Which might I add I enjoyed the Hell out of that one third, but that is not a great reason to purchase this game.

To be honest this is all dancing around the big elephant in the room. We live in a post WarioWare and Fortune Street world. Yet Mario Party has consistently failed to borrow any of the good ideas from either of these game franchises when trying to reform and tame its inherent flaws. Why the Mario Party developers don’t just borrow the style of minigames from WarioWare is just downright stupid. Also the board format of Mario Party definitely could learn something from Fortune Street, especially regarding how to utilize luck in an engaging and fun way. Yet how it stands now is that the general party mode of Mario Party 10 is a disappointment to fans of the series, and too much of the same for people that have never enjoyed Mario Party in the first place.

BUUUUUUUUT…that is my recommendation to most of you. I’m still playing Mario Party 10…and most likely will continue to do so for the next couple of months. So what’s the deal? Mario Party is still one of the few games where I can honestly invite any person I know to play, and regardless of video game experience they will be able to play it and be able to win. It is for that reason that I continue to play it under very specific circumstances, and will continue to do so.

P.S. I also played Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U, but that is a stupid game lacking any form of finesse and discourages skill based play. It is the Mario Party of fighting games.

38 Comments

The Community Spotlight - (03/20/2015)

@fobwashed is the Person to Thank for This Animated .gif

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Giant Bomb Community Spotlight, and I am honored to be your host as always! How about this week we all agree to recognize as the guns a blazin' type rather than the "silent but deadly" type.

State of the Site

Do you miss listening to podcasts featuring the voice of Vinny? Well you are in luck as the site's number one Italian made a guest appearance on CNET's 404 Podcast with the topics ranging from the death of Internet Explorer to Mortal Kombat X. For users that are still having issues with the URL system, please understand that the engineers are working on a solution to the problem. The Giant ROM project hosted by @havochq now has SEVEN user created, Giant Bomb inspired, fan games!. Check out the domain and enjoy the wonderful creations that members of this community have made. Finally, Dave Snider and his wife welcomed a new child into their lives this year. Please welcome "DUKE SNIDER"

Clip of the Week

@theburlaplemur is BACK with a new edition of his Bitesize Bomb video series. For those that are unfamiliar with this series TheBurlapLemur seeks to find the funniest moments of EVERY Quick Look on Giant Bomb. A daunting but continually rewarding folly as you can see here:

Awesome Artwork

@dalai is the one to thank for the giant Dave Lang head that you may have seen during any PAX East live streams last week. @aurahack calls on YOU to join him in taking a stand against RUN GFB by cancelling your PAXW Network subscription. JohnMcFarland on Twitter has created an AWESOME pencil sketch of Dirty Dan Ryckert. @fobwashed brings clarity to Dan's love for all things Waluigi. Finally the giantbombquotes Tumblr has created a welcome banner for the state of Kansas using a pull quote from Dan.

Community Activities

  • Sign Up for the Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run MTG FNM and Royal Rumble - Help the Effort to Raise Money for Charity By Heading OVER HERE!
  • Donation Incentives for thatpinguino's FFIX Speed Run for the Giant BomB Community Endurance Run - Help Him Figure Out How to Better Raise Money for Charity HERE!

Wonderful Wikis

Final Fantasy Type-0 recently had its console HD version released in the West this week, but if you want to learn more about the game then feel free to check out our wiki page for the original game. Cities: Skylines has been getting a lot of buzz with the Giant Bomb community and you can learn more about that and Ziggurat on our nicely detail wiki pages for those games. Also you concept page of the week is "Mid-Game Haircut."

Best of Blogs

As mentioned on the Art Showcase Dalai is the madman behind the massive Dave Lang head that many of you saw during the PAXAMAINIA stream. Read all about that plus his other adventures during PAX East 2015. With Final Fantasy Type-0 HD making the rounds kyle_is_1derful decided to go back to and play FFVII: Crisis Core, and shares his comprehensive thoughts on the game. Speaking of Final Fantasy GrantHeaslip continues his retrospective of FFXIII with a look at the games' introduction of Snow. To continue the trend of Final Fantasy blogs on the showcase thatpinguino treated the community with another speedrun guide for FFIX, and this week examined the hardest parts of disc one. thatpinguino also talks about his personal relationship with the Magic the Gathering card game. Tarfuin extrapolates on why he thinks Hotline Miami 2 built upon what he disliked about the original game on his latest blog, whereas JBG4 talks about why he is completely fine with the difficulty spike in Hotline Miami 2. Yummylee details exactly why The Evil Within's latest batch of DLC, The Assignment, is DLC done right. Meanwhile andylonn shares his hatred of all things fishing related in video games. MooseyMcMan had fun with Helldiver, but less so with cloud saving, and finally FLStyle has the play by play for Final Round 18 this week.

Fantastic Forums

As already mentioned Dave Snider and his wife recently welcomed their new son, Duke Snider into the world! If you could please join the rest of the community in wishing the Snider household the best. Moving onto game we have two threads for Cities: Skylines players. The first thread welcomes you to post screencaps of your cities, and the other gives you the opportunity to share any tips or tricks that you have about the game for newcomers. Hotline Miami 2 still has the community in a buzz and this week you are welcomed to discuss your favorite and most hated levels, as well as your experiences with the games' Hard Mode. We have a discussion thread for the Final Fantasy XV demo, as well as a spoiler-riffic ending discussion thread for Ori and the Blind Forest. Finally share the last time that the visuals to a game had an awe inspiring impact on you.

Lovable Lists

FreezyFrog has started his own "Gaming Hall of Fame." So check out that list and think of what games you might want to send to Canton. ATD88 on the other hand decided rank all of the main Final Fantasy games from best to worst.

Useful User Reviews

11 Comments

The Community Spotlight - (03/13/2015)

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Giant Bomb Community Spotlight, and I am honored to be your host as always! This week let's all agree to not rely on RUN GFB for alliances or getting jobs done. I wouldn't even trust the motley crew with yard work.

State of the Site

With the insanity of PAX East finally concluded we can now return to normalcy on Giant Bomb. For those that missed them you can catch the archive for PAXAMANIA over here, and the 404ing It (Featuring Vinny) over here. The Giant Bomb Community Eve Online Corporation, Kite Co., has started selling their own t-shirts! Check out the design that they selected over here. Finally as always remember that the The Giant Bomb Community Endurance is still all set for April 12th, and you can volunteer to help the effort over here. Wit that let's get on with the latest edition of the Giant Bomb community Spotlight!

Clip of the Week

Well...I am not exactly excited at the promo image that @turboman selected for the latest edition of his "Best of Giant Bomb" video series, but I guess well all just have to deal with it.

Awesome Artwork

A very hearty thanks is in store for @electrickumquat for creating an awesome set of Unplugged themed D&D figurines. @datarez is on a roll with the iRacing car designs with and Alt+F1 and a Tested.com design this week. Finally cosmic-bacon on Tumblr has created some AWESOME Dirty Dan and Dr. Tracksuit artwork.

Community Activities

  • Sebring 12 Hours 2015 iRacing.com Tournament - Set for March 28th - Sign Up Here!
  • Helldivers PSN ID Trading Thread - Find a Co-Op Partner Over Here!

Wonderful Wikis

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. has a MASSIVE wiki page largely thanks to the hard work of DeF. Hotline Miami 2 also has the community in a buzz and you can learn more about the game on our wiki page as well.

Best of Blogs

Sarumarine found Hotline Miami 2 to be a completely brutal, but overall enjoyable experience this week. kyle_is_1derful on the other hand has done a fantastic job of translating and explaining what in the world Hissatsu Shigotonin, a Japanese only game, is all about. thatpinguino dabbled with the Khans of Tarkir card set in Magic the Gathering, as well as continuing his speed running theorization of bosses from Final Fantasy IX. MajorMitch details the science and logic of the games that graced his top fifty games of all time list. MooseyMcMan finally had the pleasure of going to PAX East for the first time this year and shares what the experience was like. ArbitraryWater takes a stab at trying to explain the appeal of Monster Hunter games as someone who played over 100 hours of Monster Hunter 4. Abyss Odyssey is an oddity that was mostly overlooked by the press and gaming community and Ford_Dent has a blog pleading everyone to give it a shot. noahtheboa999 recently fell down the Starcraft 2 rabbit hole...again, and he details why he has no regrets. Similarly VincentAvatar decide to go back to Titanfall and shares how the community in that game has been doing. JBG4 questions Microsoft's decision to create a Master Chief Collection Xbox One bundle, and finally Marino welcomes you to join him in trying to summarize PAX East in 100 words.

Fantastic Forums

As the artwork showcase shows electrickumquat has done a bang up job with his D&D figurines inspired by the most recent Unplugged video series. So please join the rest of the community telling him that he has done a job well done. Hotline Miami 2 is the recent release that has the forums in a buzz, and you can feel free to discuss the story or soundtrack. Kaysauce has created some hilarious Terminator 2 inspired posters. thatpinguino wants you to help him in planning the format for the upcoming Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run charity stream. The Evil Within got new DLC and the JRPG sub-community wants to see if you bought Atelier Shallie. Finally please join the rest of the Giant Bomb community in paying our respects to the late great Sir Terry Pratchett.

Lovable Lists

To follow up his blog about what it takes for a game to appear on his all time favorites list, MajorMitch has updated his list to include some recent releases. Similarly brodehouse has gone back to the games of 2000 and re-examined what he thinks are the best games of that year.

Useful User Reviews

11 Comments

The Community Spotlight - (03/06/2015)

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Giant Bomb Community Spotlight, and I am honored to be your host as always. As you all hopefully know it is the weekend of PAX East 2015! If you are attending the event drop a yelp on our Roll Call thread and see if you can hook up with some other users in person during the event. Otherwise stay safe and please have fun at the event.

State of the Site

Are you having issues with hyperlinking on the site? Well there's been an odd problem with the backslash on the HTTP code that has been messing up our system. If you paste a link without a backslash go ahead and add one in at the end of your link. If you already have a backslash and are getting an error try deleting it and trying to submit the link. How about those PAXAMANIA videos that Jeff, Alex, and Dan posted? If you have not yet seen them here are the links to all of them:

Clip of the Week

So what do you do when you are a well known user like @turboman and you get invited to join the staff during an online co-operative Quick Look for Helldivers? Why you deploy right on top of Drew instantly killing him is what you do, and @quaglartheiv has the video to prove it! Also @rapid would like for all of you to check out what the community Warframe clan did for the Phoenix Intercept event!

Awesome Artwork

We have another shot of @datarez's AMAZING Giant Bomb East iRacing skin, and also fanart from lcomart that crosses Waluigi and Peach to create...Wa-peach.

Community Activities

  • Sebring 12 hours 2015 - Hosted By the Giant Bomb iRacing Community & Set For March 28th - Join Over Here!
  • OlliOlli 2 PSN ID Sharing Thread - Fill Your Leaderboard With Giant Bomb Users By Heading Here!
  • Helldivers PSN ID Sharing Thread - Hook Up With Other Users Online By Heading Over Here!

Wonderful Wikis

I'm just going to use the weekly wiki showcase this time around to provide some extra promotion for fellow moderator @mento's effort to rejuvenate the wiki pages for a smattering of TurboGrafx-CD games. These are just a few of the games that he has attempted to improve recently.

Best of Blogs

Let's give a big hearty round of applause for Mento for putting in the effort to not complete Metal Gear Solid 3 this week but to also put in a ton of tender loving care into the Giant Bomb Wiki. Speaking of the Giant Bomb Wiki bobafettjm is back with his Wiki Update blog series where he welcomes you to join him in discussing what wonderful work you have all been doing on the wiki. Similarly JBG4 also wishes to welcome you with a weekly update on what he accomplished in terms of gaming last week. Shivoa wrote an introspective look at the status of reviews as a source of accurate consumer information. GrantHeaslip is continuing to write his retrospective of Final Fantasy XIII and this week discusses why he enjoys the games' introduction and cast of characters. Meanwhile thatpinguino is talking about a different Final Fantasy game in the form of a Deep Look and speedrun advice blog pertaining to Final Fantasy IX. thatpinguino is also up to his old tricks with a blog discussing card combat, but this week blogs about Triple Triad. theacidskull recently read Halo: Fall of Reach and heartily recommends it to anyone with an interest in science fiction. A new month means that BlackLagoon has a blog annotating all of the games coming out for the PlayStation Vita. Ford_Dent enjoyed Aliens: Isolation, but extrapolates on why its use of throwaway characters hurt the games' immersion. Finally MajorMitch and shindig have monthly updates on what they accomplished in the last month in terms of gaming.

Fantastic Forums

So how has Helldivers been treating you? Join the rest of the community in discussing your online experience, both good and bad, on our community discussion thread. We also have a Dragonball Z Xenoverse discussion thread where you too can share your experiences with the illustrious Pinto Bean. Also, community favorite Super Hot finally released in the form of an alpha and if you got your hands on that please feel free to discuss your early impressions of how the game is looking. FINALLY, the Big Live Live Show is BACK and is all set for April 28th! Mark your calendars and talk about what you are most hoping to see during the event.

Lovable Lists

HDetective games are a rare breed nowadays and Kewlsnake took the time to look back on some of the Noir and Detective games that he has the fondest memories for.

Useful User Reviews

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The Community Spotlight - (02/27/2015)

The End is NIGH! (Thank you @humanity for this Banner!)

State of the Site/Housekeeping

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Giant Bomb Community Spotlight! I am your honored host as always, and for those wondering yes this was released super late! The reason is that this week marked the first week in about two years where I "lost" a Spotlight. But enough of my problems let's discuss the notable news and site happenings this week.

There are TWO new t-shirt designs available on the Giant Bomb store. The first design is a Metal Gear Scanlon themed t-shirt, and the second is the 2015 Members t-shirt. Be quick as some sizes have already sold out! Also in a bit of surprising news did you know that the Happy Hour intro song had lyrics to it originally? Well check out this post from Vinny on Tumblr, and have your mind blown. With that let's get on with the latest edition of the Giant Bomb Community Spotlight!

Clip(s) of the Week

As listeners of the Bombcast may recall there was a recent joke about the crew forming their own band and calling the band "Guns N Roses II." Well @jgray went ahead and created a T.V. advertisement for the would be musical ensemble. The second video comes from Dan and...I don't know wrestling is happening at PAX East this year again.

Awesome Artwork

@monkeyman04 has created a new logo for Giant Bomb East using the New York F.C. emblem. @metalliccookies on the other hand created codex hub pictures for Dan and Drew in lieu of the start of Metal Gear Scanlon 3. Finally @ltsquigs "discovered" Dave Lang's wonderful acting career.

Community Activities

  • The Next Annual Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run is All Set for April 12th!!! Sign up to Help or Host a Livestream on the Official Thread Over HERE!
  • Giant Bomb Community Game Jam!!! - Help @havochq Potentially Organize a Giant Bomb themed Game Jam By Heading Over Here!
  • Giant Bomb Under Nigh In-Birth Exe-Late Community Hub - Hook-up with Other Users Playing This Game Online Over HERE!

Wonderful Wikis

Resident Evil and DragonBall are the big new releases this week and they both have wiki pages that are worth checking out. Anime fighter Under Night In-Birth finally was released in the United States which means that if you have not heard of the game you should check out our wiki page for it.

Best of Blogs

JJWeatherman has written a massive blog detailing the first twenty hours that he played in Monster Hunter IV Ultimate and tries to "demystify" why he enjoys the game. JBG4 joins him, but is a newcomer to the franchise with Monster Hunter IV being his first experience with the franchise. JBG4 also provided a weekly update on what he played, similarly mooseymcman shares his thoughts on The Last of Us' Left Behind DLC as well as The Fall, Giant Bomb's "Best Story" of 2014 GOTY recipient. GrantHeaslip has written a massive blog detailing exactly why he has warmed up to Final Fantasy XIII, whereas N7 details why he is flummoxed with the first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2. Some may call demoskinos a crazy person as he spent $93 on Dead or Alive 5 Last Round, but he stands up for his purchasing decision on his latest blog. The science of basketball and the world and atmosphere of Grim Fandango where the subjects of two blogs from thatpinguino. Mento has the special distinction of having written four blogs this week. However, Mento is also struggling to get comments on his blogs so please give them a check and drop a comment on them. ArbitraryWater is back to his old tricks and is playing old games of questionable quality and this week he played Bound By Flame. VincentAvatar admits that the Resident Evil re-remake is a cash grab, but it's a cash grab that he can get behind. Finally morecowbell24 discusses the difficulty and art of making a balanced game, and joe423 has started a retrospective blog series for Okami.

Fantastic Forums

As already mentioned jgray has created an AMAZING mock T.V. commercial worth seeing. metalliccookies has created the first piece of Metal Gear Scanlon 3 fanart on the site with Codex Pictures for Dan and Drew. The Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars communities welcome you to read all about the updates to their games. On a more somber note you are also welcomed to share your experiences with losing save data as well as the cancelled games you are most disappointed never were released. Finally...wrestling stuff is going to happen soon. Something about a P-A-X from what I hear.

Lovable Lists

TechnoSyndrome is working on a list of the coolest video game main characters, and if you have any ideas for additions on his list drop a comment on it. CottoneUD on the other hand completed his Endurance Run of Persona 4 Golden and lists out all of the games he played and potentially completed while he worked on Persona 4 Golden a day at a time.

Useful User Reviews

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The Community Spotlight - (02/20/2015)

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Giant Bomb Community Spotlight! As always I am honored to be your belated hostess with the mostest!

State of the Site/Housekeeping

@rorie has recently indicated that if all things go according to plan he hopes to host a "Box Office Winner's League" once a week, so if you missed the competition last week just wait for the new one this week. Are you still confused about Premium versions of the podcast disappearing from your podcast feed? Well relax, Jeff has an answer for you over here. Some users have been reporting that their user avatar has not been appearing properly during live streams. If that is the case please file a bug report over here. With that we should be done withe the site news, so lets get on with the Community Spotlight!

Clip of the Week

Animated Bombcasts are back with our first clip, and our second clip features what the Guilty Gear Weekly Tournament was up to last week. You can join the fun by heading over here.

Awesome Artwork

Everyone should check @havochq Dan Ryckert TNG game in the blogs section NOW! The Giant Bomb Blurb Tumblr is back as always. Finally...Dan has located some nightmare fuel staff related fan art from NeoGAF.

Community Activities

  • PAX Guide 2015: East Edition - If You Plan on Going to PAX East Check Out Marino's Guide in Order to Improve Your Enjoyment of the Event HERE!
  • Frozen Cortex Giant Bomb Friendly League - With the Full Release Share your Information to Play with Other Users Over HERE!

Wonderful Wikis

Our wiki page for DoA 5 Last Round tries its darndest to make sense of its insane amount of DLC. RRDDD is finally out and it has a neon drenched wiki filled with text. Finally, check out our wiki page for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.

Best of Blogs

As already mentioned HavocHQ has created an AWESOME browser based game that lets you pilot a Federation spaceship from the perspective of our very own Dan Ryckert. TwoLines has written a massive epic related to Final Fantasy IX which discusses in great detail the themes and characters of the game. On a similar note thatpinguino extrapolates on the dangers of nostalgia, and how he has fallen victim to it on a couple of occasions. Aurahack lays out his plans for distributing his Puyo Puyo Tetris x Giant Bomb cards during PAX East. FLStyle has the event itinerary for Winter Brawl 9 plus some interesting Fighting Game Community related news. For those interested in going back to old Bombcast episodes give Matthew's blog a look as he breaks down a fantastic Bombcast from 2008 on his latest blog. Ford_Dent details his adventures with Darkest Dungeon, whereas VincentAvatar shares how Sword Coast Legends surprised him in regards to how much he enjoyed it. N7 made the leap to the next generation after getting some wonderful help from another Giant Bomb user, and JBG4 graced us this week with a trifecta of blogs all worth reading.

Fantastic Forums

Fobwashed is the user to thank for the awesome animated .gif banner this week so please thank him for an awesome work of art. FLStyle wants YOU to join him in discussing the lineup and your hopes for the upcoming Capcom Pro Tour. Weapons were oddly enough a fixation of the Giant Bomb community this week with a discussion about the best weapon in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate as well as a thread debating the best video game shotguns. Finally Majora's Mask has been a bit of a...prickly issue on the Bombcast, so why not share your opinion on the game?

Lovable Lists

Brodehouse is continuing with his effort to create comprehensive lists compiling the biggest and best games of every year that video games have existed in. This week 2006 and 1993 are his targets. arkid on the other hand has a problem, he keeps buying games that he never plays, and shares his list of shame.

Useful User Reviews

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