Part 10: Part Ten: Test ResultsPart Ten: Test Results
As we approach Balamb from Dollet, time runs backwards and it magically becomes afternoon again.
Looks like Seifer's crew is here to receive him.
: Man... All they did was get in my way. Being a leader ain't easy.
I know I mentioned it when she was introduced, but I hate the way Fujin talks. I think it's supposed to convey that she's very to-the-point, but it just makes me think of a yelling robot or something.
Seifer just shrugs off Fujin's concern, and the whole disciplinary committee leaves.
How was any of that a job well done? We abandoned our post and we didn't stop the Galbadians.
Oh, who knows with Seifer? Could be anywhere, honestly.
Quistis ain't even give a fuck.
: Just be back at Garden by sundown. You're free 'til then.
I guess we're free until continental drift moves Balamb over to neighbour Dollet, then.
: Ok, dismissed!
One example of where Seifer could be: taking off in the Garden car. Only god knows for sure.
: Not again, man! There goes Mr. Ego...
Uh, Zell, his name is actually Mr. Almasy.
: Might as well walk it.
Seriously. Garden is only, like, two kilometres away anyway.
Before we leave, though, let's look at our newest refinement ability.
Cure is okay, whatever, we have a billion Cures already.
Curaga is a great, easy-to-get HP junction early in the game (100 Curagas add 2,200 to HP) and it's honestly not a terrible idea to sink a bunch of gil into Tents for it.
You can also use Cottages to get Curaga. If you don't refine, Curaga won't show up for a while. Refinement is huge in breaking the game.
I fill Squall up on Cures. Might as well have 'em around.
We're not being penalised for chatting anymore, so we might as well get our gossip on.
: You can buy some souvenirs... Have a review meeting... It's up to you. I recommend you go back and rest, though.
Going back and resting sounds great. Buying souvenirs sounds lame.
Let's go home.
We'll talk about it at length later, but here's my comment on Balamb right now: it's pretty. I like a lot of the towns in this game, they're pretty well-done.
Shit, why not grab some lame-ass Thunder spells?
Over here is a shop! Neato!
This is a junk shop, which is Final Fantasy VIII's version of a weapon shop.
See, instead of buying new weapons straight-out, you upgrade by swapping some items and gil to "remodel" your weapon. Weapons also only have one real stat, which is Hit % - for damage, weapons just add directly to Strength, instead of having an Attack stat. It's pretty simple.
Nobody has new weapons available, so I pop over to the item store.
I am not going to blow all my money on Tents.
I am also not going to blow all my money on rental cars. Rental cars replace chocobos in this game for transportation, and I think I've rented a car three times in all my playthroughs of Final Fantasy VIII. None of them have been to go between Balamb and Garden.
See? We're already there.
In an interesting design decision, the game makes you walk about two steps before starting this scene.
: Finally made it back...
Oh my god, you two, it's like a ten-minute walk.
: Well, I guess we just wait for the test results.
It's pretty cool.
We've done the entire exam and these girls still haven't gotten lunch? Jesus.
Hey, other SeeD candidates.
Squad C Student: Looks like Galbadia's real target is the communication tower.
Wait, the comm tower they repaired was their target? It seems like there might have been a better way to get there than invading Dollet.
Squad D Student: But radio signals are useless, even if they get the tower to work.
Yeah, they're probably just gonna put some stupid DJ on there. I'll stick to tapes.
Squad C Student: Why?
Squad D Student: It was on last week's exam, remember? How any form of communication using radio signals can't be used.
That's...a lot of types of communication. Wow.
They'll give you peter cancer.
(This is the real answer.)
: The worldwide signal interference.
Squad D Student: Worldwide signal interference. It started without warning 17 years ago. That's why we communicate online, and use chocobos as messengers now. That's why there's no reason to get the tower up and running.
So what the fuck were they doing?
I wonder if Garden has tuition, and this guy is pissing away his parents' money.
Nice job, man. What a pro. What's squad D, "diaper squad"?
Xu, we failed completely. Every mission objective was a failure.
Xu: The candidates are back safely, right?
Well, if that's what you consider a success, yes, mission accomplished.
Someone, maybe the squad in the town square, probably should have noticed that and stopped them. Wonder what happened there...
Headmaster Cid: We've just received word from the Dollet Dukedom. The Galbadian Army has agreed to withdraw as long as the communication tower is repaired and the uplink remains operational.
Again, it seems like they could have come up with an easier plan that invading Dollet. Maybe invade a damn Emily Post book next time, assholes.
I have a feeling that both women are making a face like "what the fuck" right now.
Xu: Well, in any case, Galbadia is out of there.
I will grant you that that was our mission, but we did not accomplish it.
Xu: We could've made much more money if they'd stayed and caused more ruckus.
This is an important line that is easy to miss or forget. SeeD is not a heroic organisation at all. They are strictly clock-punchers, and any good or bad they do is incidental to gettin' paid.
Well, we did destroy the Galbadian bank machine.
: Of course! He's my best student. He's not very social, though.
This is a straight-up lie. You have to leave this area to get your results.
This is kind of a quaint choice, because every answer is true in some way. It probably felt exhilirating, because of how adrenaline works.
But it also would have been scary, because of how being in a life-or-death situation works.
And this one is true to Squall's character as a person who tries not to think about stressful situations.
Headmaster Cid: Whatever?
That's what he said, man.
Headmaster Cid: That's great! Whatever!
Cid approves of hiding from your problems.
Headmaster Cid: Well, I'm just glad nobody got hurt.
Squall spent most of the exam unconscious. He probably has brain damage or something now.
Since this game has something like seventy trillion lines of dialogue, we can go over and chat with these guys about the exam, too.
This is the guy in yellow we saw chillin' outside the front gate earlier. He probably slipped a disc being too laid-back.
Kid, that's what "chronic" means. (This is the jogging kid with the MiniMog card, by the way. In fact, if you don't have it already, this is a good time to win it off him, since he's just standing around.)
Oh, great, you know, I left my post, failed to stop the enemy. 100%, full marks.
Life lesson: if you brag about your abilities, children will respect you.
If you're a little more down-to-earth, children hate it, and they will hate you.
Well, whatever, let's go to the dorm and grab a nap.
Oh, hey, Seifer.
: We would've been heroes if it weren't for that withdraw order.
Heroes of what? It's explicit that the G-army left when the comm tower was up. If we hadn't been there, they probably would have gone anyway. If we'd stopped them, things probably would have just been worse for Dollet.
: My dear instructor. I'm hurt. Those are rather cruel words for an aspiring student. A mediocre instructor like you will never understand.
Xu: You'll take all responsibility for leaving the designated area.
: Isn't it the captain's duty to take the best possible action?
Xu: Seifer, you'll never be a SeeD. Calling yourself a captain is a joke.
After dropping the , Xu walks away with a sassy little wave. Also, look at Seifer here, hanging his head in shame. He knows he's a joke. Notably, despite the fact that he told Instructor Trepe to fuck off earlier, Seifer doesn't say anything to Xu.
After Xu disappears, Cid shows up.
Then he says something we don't hear to Quistis, and she leaves. I wonder what's going on there.
I have a feeling that Seifer's in deep shit now.
Headmaster Cid: You will be disciplined for your irrational behavior. You must follow orders exactly during combat.
I think Xu was right, and he's never going to be a SeeD. You know, the game mentions that Seifer's taken the exam before, but I doubt that he was ever a squad captain before, and I think this is much worse than whatever he did to fail then.
Headmaster Cid: But I'm not entirely without sympathy for you. I don't want you all to become machines. I want you all to be able to think and act for yourselves. I am...
Also interesting is that Squall says nothing in this entire scene. Seifer getting told off is not his problem, and mouthing off to superiors is neither his style nor his place. Even though he's the main character of the game, Squall is just a grunt, and he knows it.
Cid is cut off by this faculty member.
I have a feeling like something is going on, but we're not privy.
Seifer, usually so full of bravado, is silent now. He knows how badly he fucked up.
Garden Faculty: We are not a non-profit organization. This incident will be a hard-learned lesson for the Dollet Dukedom. They'll now know to be more generous when hiring SeeD.
This seems pretty dark, but it's how mercenaries work, and it gives a little more context to Squall's character. Everyone in SeeD is a clock-puncher, and it's not an organisation for wannabe heroes or boy scouts. Squall's blasé attitude makes him a better SeeD than Seifer or Zell, in that sense.
I included the second text box because it uses weird text positioning and I love to show off dumb shit. It just repeats the message after that.
At this point, we can't go anywhere else.
We can't even use the directory now.
Well, let's get to the second floor then, I guess.
Hey, what are Fujin and Raijin doing here? They didn't take the exam. And where's Selphie?
Of the three candidates at the back, only the guy on the far right would talk to me. Now who's anti-social, Quistis?
Well, if these guys won't talk to us, let's do the rounds.
: S'up? Said they're gonna call out names, one at a time...
Raijin: Fujin was sayin' that it'd be all your fault if Seifer doesn't become a SeeD. She can be pretty scary, ya know!
Wow, it must have taken her a lot of dialogue boxes to get all that out.
Fuck off, Fujin.
Like the square in Dollet, you have to wait around a bit for the game to move this scene on.
: See ya!!!
Zell does the stupidest walk possible after being called.
I have no idea why they use Zell's last name and not Squall's (Leonhart). It's not important or a surprise or anything, but there you go.
How disappointing for you three.
Oh, hey, we get to see the headmaster's office for the first time.
Garden Faculty: These are the 4 students that passed today's exam.
From left to right: Selphie, someone we don't know, Zell, Squall. What a surprising lineup.
Headmaster Cid: First of all, congratulations. However... From now on, as a member of SeeD, you will be dispatched all over the world. We are proud to introduce SeeD, Balamb Garden's mercenary soldiers. SeeD soldiers are combat specialists. BUT... That is only one aspect of SeeD. When the time comes...
Yes? When the time comes, what?
Hmm... It seems like maybe Cid's not entirely in control of the proceedings here.
Garden Faculty: SeeD is a valuable asset to Garden. It's reputation is solely dependent on each one of you. Handle your mission with care.
I have the distinct impression that that is not what Cid wanted to say.
Oh boy, our report card!
Cid has a little line for each of the new SeeDs. I don't think Squall can hear them, but the player can.
I think that this guy is the guy who pissed himself during the exam. My evidence is: it would be funny if the pants-pisser was one of the four most competent people to take the exam.
If Zell could do that, it would tie up pretty much all his weaknesses as a SeeD.
And this is us. Squall is the first SeeD to use a gunblade.
Maybe we can finally get that nap.
The others leave immediately, with Zell still doing his stupid prance.
We're free to get some chatting in, though.
Garden Faculty: Be sure to ignore all the GF criticism you hear from other Gardens or military forces.
Remember, kids: whenever somebody tells you to ignore all criticism of something, that means it's completely above board. They're just looking out for you.
Oh, Cid's got a present for us.
Headmaster Cid: It may come in handy for future battles.
The Battle Meter is completely useless.
I mean, unless you're huge into knowing how many steps you've taken.
We're done here. Catch ya on the flipside, Cid.
Leaving Cid's office dumps you out onto the second floor.
What chance would that be?
Alright, you just keep on creepin' on, hoss.
Zell, I just graduated. What possible reason would I have to go back to class?
: What do you mean, 'why?' Don't you remember what new SeeD members do?
Well, apparently, they don't sleep.
: They give a speech in front of the entire class! And after that, the inauguration party!
Yeah, have fun with that, nerd.
Selphie's just happy to be here.
Oh hey, it's Seifer.
He steps forward, as if to confront Squall. You can see Zell already freaking out.
Then he starts to clap.
Gradually, everyone else starts to join in.
And the new SeeDs take a little bow.
Then we get our grades! Let's go through this:
Conduct is based on how much time you have on the clock when you escape from Dollet. You need 25 minutes or more to get 100 on that, which is pretty damn tough. I got a shit score, since I stopped to destroy X-ATM.
Judgement is how much time is left on the clock when you beat Ifrit. Since you can just run out the clock waiting on the battle results or name screen, and since it's not hard to time it properly anyway, it's easy to get 100. I got 100 because I left it on the name screen.
Attack is how many enemies you killed in Dollet. To get 100, you need 75 kills, which means you have to grind them out. For perspective, I spent half an hour grinding with Seifer and still only got 80 (that's 50-74 enemies killed). Attack isn't hard to get 100 on, but if you don't go out of your way to max it, you're not going to.
Spirit is how many times you ran away from battles. To get 100, you have to only escape once, in the mandatory battle against X-ATM092. After that, you have to either avoid it or destroy it completely if you want max points. If you know what you're doing, it's easy to max this, but if you don't, it'll probably be a bit lower. It also drops off quickly - having 3 escapes gets you 50 points, and if you get to 10, you get 0.
There's another category, Attitude, that's based on talking to people, jumping off the cliff, and a couple of other things you can do in Dollet. Again, easy to get 100, but if you don't know you're being marked on it, it's easy to screw up, too.
You can also see I got 100 points off (a full SeeD rank!) - that's because I showed that one dude my gunblade and the instructor spotted me. It's cancelled out by the 100 bonus points I got for destroying X-ATM092 on the bridge, though.
For the final rank calculation, the game takes some modifiers based on your points, adds them up with a base, then spits out a number. That number is between 1 and 10. I got 9, which means that if I'd kept my gunblade to myself, I would have gotten 10... yeah, I'm pretty good at the SeeD exam.
And then the game explains paycheques. See, instead of winning gil off of enemies, in this game you get paid by walking a certain number of steps, based on your SeeD rank. Rank 9 entitles me to 7,000 gil per pay period, which is pretty good. Rank is based on invisible "SeeD EXP", and if you get 100 of them, you can bump up your rank; there are several ways to do this, but beware: you can also lose SeeD ranks, and again, there are several ways to do so.
Well, I think that's enough of that. Next time: we finally get our nap.