The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy VIII

by Cool Ghost

Part 7: Part Seven: The SeeD Exam, Part 1

Part Seven: The SeeD Exam, Part 1

Here's Squall, all dressed up for his field exam.

Once you put the uniform on, you have to do the exam, so make sure anything you want to do to prepare is done before that.

You don't even get to run from the dorm to the directory, it cuts straight to Quistis waiting around.

This is the SeeD theme, which plays throughout this briefing:

: Squall! Over here!

Off-camera, Squall takes the extremely long way around and comes up from the front gate.

: I'll be announcing the squad assignments for the exam now. Let's see... You'll be with... Zell Dincht. Quite a lively fellow.

I really like how the characters emote in this game, like Squall's hand-on-hip pose here. He's already sick of Zell.

: I'm afraid that's not possible.

I also like this little exchange between Squall and Quistis; Quistis is Squall's CO here, so it's inappropriate for him to question the squad decision, but Quistis isn't bothered. She treats Squall more like an equal than a subordinate.

: Over here, Zell!

After Quistis calls out for Zell, we cut to an FMV.

Bruce Lee over here is Zell. I think this is an FMV that was mostly to show off, because it doesn't really serve much other purpose.

Well, it does give us that shot of Zell doing a backflip.

And this shot of Zell pointing at himself/Zell's tribal face tattoo.

Note: as pointed out by ApplesandOranges, the SeeD exam is flipped in this FMV.

Quistis mentioned in the Fire Cavern that Squall and Seifer were very talented students, and it carries through a lot in dialogue around Garden. As the player, we don't know anybody, and it's believable that Squall doesn't either, but everybody knows Squall. He's good, and word gets around when you're good.

Again with the emoting. Zell goes for the handshake, but Squall crosses his arms and turns away. Neither says anything about it.

Fuck off, I'm trying to analyse.

: You don't get along with Seifer, do you? Heard he whooped you pretty bad this morning.

Yeah, he damn near took Squall's head off.

As usual, Squall takes a more professional, distant approach. He and Zell are just classmates, they're not friends. This isn't a conversation you would really need to have with a classmate.

: I bet you he doesn't think so. Look, Seifer's just being a pain in the ass. All you have to do is ignore him.

This isn't the first time we've been given this advice today.

They're both right, it is none of his business.

By the way, Quistis really is finishing his sentence - Squall's line doesn't finish coming up before Quistis's does.

: Ahem... Excuse me, but...

Quistis knows exactly how it looks when she does that in front of another student.

: That Seifer you're talking about... He's your squad leader.

What? Whose fucking decision was that?

I agree with Zell completely. I mean, I hate to belabour the point, but he almost killed Squall this morning.

: It can't be changed.

Read: it was done on purpose.

: Seifer! Are you here?

Here's the man himself, not even having changed into his uniform.

This is probably why Seifer's not expelled, but who let him be on the damn disciplinary committee?

: You're the squad leader. Good luck to you.

Seifer's pose here is pure arrogance, I love it.

: I hate it when people wish me luck. Save those words for a bad student who needs them, eh?

It should be noted that Seifer is only a couple months younger than Quistis; like her, he's older than Squall, and also holds a position of relative authority, both as the head of the disciplinary committee and as the squad leader. He's a clear foil to Squall, but he's also acting as foil to Instructor Trepe here.

: Ok then.

Seifer shrugs this off, but he swipes his arm when he tells Fujin and Raijin to put Quistis on "the list", which betrays his actual anger. His pride is hurt.

: (The list...? What is it?)

This is kind of a weird line. I think that it's just Squall misinterpreting Seifer's line as being about a literal thing. I don't think "the list" actually comes up again. Quistis doesn't seem to care.

: Well then. You're all assigned to Squad B. I'll be the instructor in charge. Teamwork is of the utmost importance. Let's get through this exam, everyone!
: Listen up! Teamwork means staying out of my way. It's a Squad B rule. Don't you forget it!

Again, Seifer is playing the foil to Quistis. Even though she has real authority, she talks to the squad as being more equal, using "let's" and having a more open tone, while Seifer talks down to the others and uses a non-inclusive imperative.

You can see how mad Zell is, and how cool Squall is, in this shot. It seems like other people are more bothered by Seifer's attitude than he is.

It's a neat detail that you can actually read the directory when the camera is at this angle.

Headmaster Cid: This exam will involve 12 members from Squads A through D...

...He says, addressing only Squad B.

Headmaster Cid: You will be proceeding to a real battlefield. Obviously, the battles are for real. Life and death, victory and defeat, honor and disgrace... Each of these go hand in hand. There's only one way or the other.

Man, save the speeches for convocation or whatever.

Cid seems a little bit more excited for this exam than the students are.

Headmaster Cid: You will be accompanied by 9 SeeD members. Should you fail, these members shall get the job done. They always do. Well, that's one less worry on your mind.

"Hey, if you die, the real SeeDs will do the job anyway, so don't worry too much."

Headmaster Cid: Learn from them, obey their commands and accomplish the mission. Prove yourself worthy of becoming a member of SeeD. Best of luck.

Yeah, thanks.

So, we file out. Because this game uses analog control, you usually end up running, which I think is funny next to Seifer and Zell just walking out.

Despite the fact that we headed towards the front gate, we end up in the parking lot. It's not important, but it bugs me.

Everyone gets in the yellow car and we finally head out.

There's even a shot of the car driving out of Garden, rather than the game just dumping us on the map.

Wow, nobody has a seatbelt on? I hope the GF can unbreak your necks if we hit something.

: .........

Squall learned his lesson about showing off his gunblade when he got yelled at earlier.

: C'mon, man!
: .........
: Just a peek!

Squall doesn't even move during this whole exchange, while Zell is always moving.

: Tch, fine...

Good. Now sit down and enjoy the ride.

: Yeah, yeah...

Zell is visibly disturbed by Squall's no-selling this.

This is the first line in the exchange that even makes him turn his head.

: .........

Zell basically never stops moving in this sequence, while the other three are pretty restrained. He's shadow boxing here.

: Stop that... It's annoying.

The player is supposed to be just as annoyed by Zell's antics as Seifer is, I think.

PS, Seifer's a prick.

Wasn't Zell just telling Squall that he had to ignore Seifer?

I think they're both going to get points off for misconduct.

: ...Instructor... Who was that girl in the infirmary this morning?
: Was someone there? I didn't notice anybody.

I always thought this exchange was stupid, since the girl had clearly left before Quistis walked in.

: Is there a problem?
: No...not really...

: I have Chicken-wuss and a guy who just reached puberty in my squad...

Quistis is just so disappointed.

Oh, by the way, that entire exchange took place in the Garden driveway, and we have to actually drive to town now.

Wow, man. You shoulda taken care of that during free time if it was gonna be a problem.

This is the first time we're seeing Balamb the town. It's a nice little seaside town, and we'll be seeing a lot more of it later.

Right now, though, we have somewhere to be.

: Ain't no turning back now.

There's no time to be scared. We're on the clock.

: Don't disappoint me now.

Seifer's a douche, but he knows how good Squall is and he respects that.

Once Squall gets out of the car, the player has no control.

But once we're here, we do. I cannot fathom why.

Now it's straight onto the boat. During this exam, you get docked points if you talk to anybody, so I'm keeping mum.

And we're off!

Over the horizon, our destination begins to come into view.

So let's go back inside for our briefing.

: Well, these are the members of Squad B.

Everyone is doing that with their hands because it's the SeeD salute, if you're confused.

Xu: Seifer, how many times has it been now?
: Oh, I just love these exams...

Are you guys as excited for this briefing as I am?

Xu: Our client for this mission is the Dollet Dukedom Parliament.

For some reason, I find it very amusing that Dollet is a dukedom. It seems antiquated.

Xu: A request for SeeD was made 18 hours ago.

Good to know that this operation, which is to be carried out by people still in training, has been extensively planned.

Behind Xu here is a useless map of Dollet.

Considering this from a gameplay standpoint, it becomes very funny. Dollet takes up about three screens, so just imagine someone fighting in that space for two days.

Xu: Currently, they have retreated into the nearby mountains and are reorganizing their troops. That's the current status. Now onto the mission objective.

Xu: We're to make a landing at Lapin Beach. We're to eliminate the remaining G-Army within the city and liberate it A.S.A.P.

I'm sure this will take an hour, at most. We'll be home in time for dinner.

That seems doable for 12 people, sure.

: So, what are WE supposed to do?
Xu: SeeD candidates are to eliminate the G-Army inside the city.
: Sounds important!
: Sounds boring.

They're both right.

: So what you're saying is, we do all the little, dirty work...
Xu: ......... Oh, it hardly needs to be said, but... The order to withdraw takes priority. Do not forget. We're almost there. We anticipate a battle as soon as we disembark. Just be prepared. That's all. Any questions, talk to Quistis.

Whew. Well, now we know what we have to do, at least.

If you choose to talk to anyone here, you get points off.

: We'll be landing pretty soon. Get ready.
: Alright.
: Roger.
: Yeah, yeah... Well then, Squall. Go see what's going on outside.

If you choose to disobey Seifer here, you get points off.

: .......Ok.
: Good. Because it's MY order.

Well, let's go see what's going on outside.

Ah, my old friend, the moon.

And my other old friend, missiles.

As the missiles pass by, the moon ripples, revealing that is was just a reflection in the water!

Then we get a look at the SeeD boats. It's apparently much brighter than that shot of the moon might make you think.

Here's Squall, enjoying the wind in his hair.

And admiring his photo of scenic Dollet, with optional tourist overlay that points out all the sights.

There's the real thing!

Seems like a bad time to go sunbathing.

Let's do this.

There are barriers in the water.

I think this is supposed to be cool, with the boat jumping the barrier, but it just sort of smashes through it. It honestly looks kind of lame.

This is another one of those seamless transitions from FMV to real-time. It results in the very pretty-looking boat vomiting some very rough-looking character models onto the beach.

: Ok, you are to secure the Central Square! Be sure to equip your GF before you head into battle!

For reminders like this, the game tends to use "equip" instead of "junction", which makes it clearer what junctioning actually does.

Yes! Finally!

Next time!