Thursday, 12 March 2015

Let's Play: Final Fantasy VIII - Part Eighty Seven

 Part Eighty Six


 Day Thirty Eight: Time Waits For No Angsty Teenage Boy

 There’s no more side quests, no more technically optional bosses to beat, no more treasure to find, and I haven’t prepared well enough to take on the Omega Weapon, so all that’s left to do is to take on the source of all the trouble in Zog’s life.

 Apart from Cid.

 And Edea.

 And Ellone.

 And Laguna.

 And Nina.

 And Irvine.

 And Seifer.

 And Adel.

 And Deling.


 Oh! And Zell!

 Basically, Nida and Selphie are the only two reliable figures of support in Zog’s life.

 Remember, Quistis did want to bang him when she was still his teacher and then conveniently decided that she would rather be his older sister.

 So… ew.

 This guy has more enemies than just Ultimecia if you think about it.

 But she’s the focus of the story, at this point anyway, so let’s finally confront the sorceress to end all sorceresses.

How does she get her hair like that?
  Wait, why is she talking like that?

 I’ve heard this referred to as a speech impediment, but there’s no way you’d be able to hear this. It’s all hard ‘c’s being replaced. Krusty the Klown sounds identical to ‘Crusty the Clown’, the whole hard ‘c’/’k’ thing only works when written down.

 It’s usually used to misspell a word in such a way that it’s still recognisable, but not so generic that it can’t be successfully copyrighted. (See Krispy Kreme.)

 I’m guessing that they did this to make her seem more… German, maybe? It is a thing in German that they tend to use the letter ‘k’ instead of the hard ‘c’ as seen in English.

 Or possible to make her more Greek? Ancient Greek had no time for your soft ‘c’. In Greek words adopted into English, we either technically mispronounce them (e.g. ‘cancer’) or have changed how they’re spelled (e.g. ‘chaos’). I have seen a theory that she's supposed to be Artemisia rather than Ultimecia, but that raises its own questions, mostly why they'd reflect that in her speech but not give her the proper name.

 This may be why she’s not in Kingdom Hearts. How would you ever voice this without giving her a comically strong German accent? Well, no, because then we’d also have the ‘w’/’v’ thing to deal with, which isn’t a feature that shows up in her dialogue.

The brink? If we didn't do it, how did we end up here?
  I checked out how she speaks in the original Japanese and there is nothing there that could explain this. All there is in the Japanese version is that she speaks more like a man than like a woman. (Unlike English there are speech modifiers that change depend on the gender of the speaker, like using boku, atashi or ore.)

 Although I joke about her not showing up in Kingdom Hearts, she has been fully voiced in Dissidia and there's nothing there to reflect this. Even in the text of her dialogue they do not do this.

Unlike pretty much every other boss, Ultimecia appears to be aware that there are six people in the party, and that only half of them can be in battle, because she randomly chooses who will be fighting her.

 Yes, this is the main reason why you ned to make sure each of your characters has been set up to be able to fight. If you take the Spoony route, like I did through most of my playthrough, it's going to screw you over really badly.

 Or at least make things take longer than they strictly need to.

 If a character gets knocked out and you don't revive them quickly enough, this happens:

Zell's preferred afterlife is Valhalla
 Nah, don't worry, he hasn't died, he's just been absorbed into time.

 That sounds like it might be serious, but it really isn't.

 It'll be like nothing happened to him once the battle is over.

 He got knocked out because in the first phase of the battle, Ultimecia has this awful attack called Maelstrom which does 66% damage to the whole party and curses them. It's a total pain in the neck.

 He also got knocked out because I forgot to give him any abilities back, so all he could do was hit her.

 I don't know why I kept screwing that up.

 I found the rest of the fight a lot less anoying than this part, even when she decided to summon a GF to do her dirty work for her.

I'm getting Devil May Cry 4 flashbacks. "I am Berial!"
 This is where the random naming of the ring from all the way back in the Garden on Garden battle comes into play.

 I named the ring that you never see, and yet is so important, Galahad, so that's what this is called.


 I don't know. There's a theory floating about, and it covers more than just this, but that's something that I'd rather talk about another time. So we'll just leave this in the category of baffling design choices that this game has a whole bunch of.

 With the introduction of Galahad here comes the mechanic where certain things, like limit breaks, GFs and magic can be taken away from you.

 But I didn't find it to be much of a problem, just hit this thing and keep the party healed up.

 It's got a particularly cool looking attack called Shockwave Pulsar which does a lot of damage.

 But even with this, it wasn't a particularly tough fight.

 Neither was the stage afterwards where Ultimecia gets desperate enough to fuse together with Galahad and has what is possibly the coolest attack ever.

Great Attractor
 Yes, she's throwing planets at them.

 That's so cool.

 It also makes them look like they're giants, and I think that's funny.

 Apart from this, the Ultimecia/Galahad combo isn't much of a threat, the use of powerful spells is what she does, but with good defences and high health, it's not a problem.

 There's two interesting things about it apart from the Great Attractor attack.

 The first is that the form kind of looks like Giratina.

The Renegade Pokemon
 The second is that the back end falls off after you've hit it enough.

"I can't stand this manicure!"
 I don't know why, I really don't.

 I saw my party attack, they were hitting the front part.

 So, after this excercise in desperation the next stage it...

 Well, it's hard to be sure what's exactly happened.

 She turns into this, but I get the distinct feeling that she really didn't want to.

 She doesn't go, "you fools, this isn't even my final form!" She just kind of gurgles and explodes, then this thing shows up.

 Just look at it.

 She's bound, the top half has her upper arms bound behind her back, forcing her into this uncomfortable and kind of sexual position, and the bottom half has what looks like the actual Ultimecia hanging upside down and bound with blood vessels.

 It's almost Silent Hill-esque in its design.

 She also makes this speech, and by 'her' I do mean the faceless top half, about how she's Ultimecia and that time will compress and existence will be denied.

 ... We know you're Ultimecia, love, why are you telling us this now?

 This is one of the best parts of the whole end sequence, heck, one of the best parts of the game.

 In this form Ultimecia is really tough.

 She has an attack called 'Hell's Judgement' which takes the entire party down to one HP, and she can and will knock them out with other attacks.

 One of which is Apocalypse, a spell that both she and you can draw from her lower half. Further suggesting that the top half... isn't the same person as the lower half.

 Just as Edea was seperate from Ultimecia, the top half of Ultimecia and the bottom half in this form are seperate entities.

 So maybe she's just a woman who is being possessed by some immortal and timeless entity. Which would be kind of cool, and more fulfilling than just some random woman from the futuuuure.

 Near the end of this battle, she gives another short speech, this time telling them to reflect on their lives and that time marches on and escapes you, no matter how hard you try to hold on.

 That's... odd.

 As far as we know for certain, Ultimecia is just some random woman from the futuuure, so why this speech? This is the kind of speech that someone who knows the heroes all along would make.

 But she hasn't. She's possessed people, sure, but she hasn't really interacted with these losers.

 I don't get it.

 Upon dying, she doesn't explode. Everything goes staticy and she dissolves from the top down, leaving the true Ultimecia's head as the last thing to disappear.

This is increasingly Silent Hill-ish
 This leaves the party in a white void, running around with that Moloko video effect I keep referencing and seeking each other out.

 Well, except Zog, who for some reason gets special treatment.

 We cut from Nina shouting for him to him standing in a black void. He barely has time to wander where the hell he is before his younger self runs by and he finds himself in the orphanage.

  He runs into Edea, who isn't at all worried by the sudden appearance of a leather clad man who talks about one of her charges like he knows something about him. This orphanage is in the middle of nowhere, any normal adult would be a bit concerned by the sudden appearance of a stranger.

 Well, unless they thought he may have appeared to attempt to adopt somebody.

 Which might be the case here, although Ultimecia shows up before we have the opportunity to find out why Edea is so chill.

 Although she's still really chill when Ultimecia shows up, so maybe Edea just has a really broken sense of potential danger.

 Zog tells her that he's fought this woman, and that he thought he'd 'defeated' her (although I usually read 'defeated' as 'killed' in these situations).

 Yet in the face of this, Edea tells him not to worry and that all Ultimecia wants is to hand her powers over to someone else because:

I'm a bit weirded out that she's so open with this.
  Wait, so what does this mean exactly?

 That they're doomed to some kind of tortured afterlife if they don't hand their powers over, or that they cannot die unless they hand their powers over?

 Are Sorceresses functionally immortal?

 I'm actually inclined to believe the latter, as it would explain a couple of things.

 Mostly how Edea and Adel both look so young.

 But also how Adel being trapped in the satellite would work as a long term solution. If she can't hand her powers over, she can't die, and if she can't die then they can just keep her trapped until the end of time and the problem of her Sorceress line is sorted out.

 Because, by the sounds of things, this isn't an automatic process. When Ultimecia had Edea hand her powers over to Nina, we learned that this process is not dependent on a Sorceress dying.

 So, in order to prevent one of the girls from ending up with Ultimecia's powers, Edea chooses to recieve Ultimecia's powers instead.

 Although Ultimecia doesn't seem keen on the idea, although if she is being possessed by some immortal and timeless entity, it would explain why it happens anyway. Just as Edea handing her powers over to Nina was Ultimecia's doing.

 After this is done, we find out that we will never discover what SeeD stands for.

 Because Edea didn't actually come up with the mind numbingly stupid and cruel idea of training children to fight Sorceresses (or which there were a grand total of two at the time, including her), Zog gave her the idea.

 So SeeD doesn't actually stand for anything.

 Although, this exchange does clear up how to pronounce it, because there is no way in hell that Edea worked out how to spell it by a teenage boy telling her that gardens train seeds. He has to have told her that they train 'seedys'.

 Which is hilarious.

 She isn't impressed when she finds out who he is and demands that he return to his own time, which he does.

 Or at least tries to.

 He returns to the black void being all 'don't worry about me, I'm not alone' and then he shouts for the others and gets no response.

 So, yeah, he is alone.

 I'm really not sure how to describe the next cutscene. It's a combination of Nina and Zog wandering around vaguely looking for each other and then Zog finds a feather and has some kind of weird fever dream comprising of a bunch of CGI cutscenes from elsewhere in the game and this one cutscene where Nina's space helmet smashes open for some reason...

Damn, that looks cool.
  And it's blurry and staticy and it's hard to make out what the point of it is, and by god, they clearly want to make some kind of connection between Nina and Ultimecia.

 Once it's all settled down, Nina finds Zog passed out in a wasteland, and she gets all sad and stuff and then... I don't even know, brings the world back to life?

Praise be to Amaterasu
 After this we see a cutscene with Seifer, Fuujin and Raijin, which is cute.

 Then Laguna reminiscing about the second woman he started a romantic relationship with and then left to worry and die after giving birth. (Why is Julia even in this game?)

 Ellone joins him too, which... eh. It's not like I care.

 With this, we get to the credits and a cutscene of the party using a video camera which is probably supposed to be cute, but isn't really.

 And we end on Nina and Zog kissing.

 D'awww, she lied.

 I feel so confused by this whole segment, I don't feel like anything important has been explained. It's just things I don't really care about that got 'wrapped up'. Like, I don't really care if Edea and Cid got back together.

 I don't care about Laguna and Raine's relationship. I was never given an adequate reason to.

 I understand the idea of intrigue and mystery, but this feels more like they started a plot that they didn't know how to deal with, so they thought that if they concentrated on a romance then they could get away with not developing things properly.

 I can feel this devolving into a massive rant, which I'll post up tomorrow.


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