The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy VIII

by Cool Ghost

Part 16: Part Sixteen: The Owls

Part Sixteen: The Owls

Well, here's Squall, who passed out trying to look up Selphie's dress.

I wonder how fast the inter-continental railway is. The last time I took a train further than the south side, it was slower than driving, and we got to our destination really late.

Squall is the last of the three to wake up, but neither of the others seem to have been particularly upset.

I dunno, "put the SeeDs to sleep" isn't exactly a villainous master plan. At least put their hands in warm water or something.

It's more likely you all stayed up too late partying last night and you're sleepy.

Everybody does a quick check to make sure they've still got their wallets/rule out a COBRA plot.

: ...I don't think so.
: What a relief! Everything's cool with me! Hee! I had such a nice dream!

I'm glad everyone is okay and now we can talk about our dreams.

So, if you didn't figure it out from tonal clues and basic knowledge of narrative structure, Squall was the one dreaming about being Laguna.

Thanks for the input, train guy.

Selphie apparently had a dream with similar characters but very different events.

: Hey! There was a Laguna in my dream, too! He's a Galbadian soldier, right!?

More importantly, he's a good friend.

: Laguna, Kiros, and Ward...
: Huh!? That's it!
: That's what...?

So all the SeeDs had the same dream - that explains lines like "Laguna's pretty cute," which don't quite fit Squall's character. But why would they all have the same dream?

Selphie's proposition: who gives a shit?

I just noticed Selphie's really good posture. It's not symbolism or anything, she's just concerned with spinal health.

: We'll put this incident on hold. I'll report it to the headmaster once we get back to Garden.

I guess there's not much we can do with the no leads or evidence we have on the weird dream, so we pretty much have to put a pin in it until we're done with Timber.

: We should be there soon, eh?

Where's Train Announcer when you need him?

: Here we go... Psyche yourself up, baby!

Personal note: it bugs me when things spell "psych" as "psyche" because I always read it wrong. This drove me crazy in MGS4.

When they have a text box that's just an extended ellipsis, it's meant to convey thinking, not just silence.

And now, back to the world map, featuring train.

Oh look, we're here.

As we go down the stairs, the guy in yellow gives us the call phrase.

Since we're professionals with good manners, we give him the password.

He's calling us "sir". Finally, we're getting some respect.

Wow dude I just got here I wanna hit the pet shop at least.

What the fuck is this bullshit?

When he says this, you can hear a dog bark. Kind of messed up of the pet shop to just leave a dog in there.

Oh shit, souvenirs. Let's grab something for Zell's mom and Quistis.

Do owls even have tear glands?

Souvenir Shop Person: The old man living on the edge of town would have some.

Fine, Owl's Tears were a bust. What about the map of Timber?

Fine, show me the map.

Wow, dude, your map fuckin' sucks. I hate this map with my life.

Sometimes the map of Timber makes perfect sense to me and other times it is complete incomprehensible garbage.

Anyway, let's buy Quistis and Ma Dincht some...model trains. Sure.

Souvenir Shop Person: Watts and Zone bought the last one. The owner of the hotel used to make some great models... He used to make a lot of them. He disappeared after the war... No one makes them anymore now that he's gone...

Okay, so that guy's dead. What about...can I buy some porn? Can I buy my teacher and my buddy's mother some porn?

Zone who bought all the model trains? Yeah, seems like a cool dude.

Terrible Shop Person: He was looking for a book called 'Girl Next Door'. You should tell Zone if you ever find one.

I'll keep my eye out. Thanks for nothin', buddy.

This town is terrible, lady. The pet shop's closed and the souvenir shop doesn't have any damn owl's tears. Now I have to do my damn mission instead of pissing around for three updates.

Fine, we'll follow you to your train with horns on the front, but we won't like it.

So, that's what happens if we give the correct password. What happens if we say, uh...

...This thing about moogles? Moogles are much cooler than owls, because they've never fooled anybody by making them think it was nighttime.

Yellow Vest: In the forest there are Ow...

He looks around to see if he can find anybody else to be the SeeDs. Maybe try that old lady, dude. SeeDs are probably masters of disguise.


Then he runs off, but doesn't tell you to follow him.


Shocked that the first people he meets off the train aren't his SeeD contacts, he gets hit by his own train.

Blue Shirt: Hah!

Hey, are you guys talking about us?

Yellow Vest: (Hmmmmm... They... said the wrong... password... sir...)

Don't you guys know it's super rude to whisper about someone like this?

Blue Shirt: Arhhh! Just call 'em over! We're payin'em a fortune, we can't hav'em leave now!
Yellow Vest: (......)

In the comic relief path, the SeeDs aren't really impressed with the Forest Owls (uh, spoiler).

Yeah, don't you know it's super rude to get hit by a train?

And then we just ride off without Yellow Vest.

Dude better have some legs if he wants to catch that train.

And holy shit, he made it. This is where the paths join up.

Since we're meeting the Forest Owls, here's their theme:

: I'm the squad leader, Squall. This is Zell, and Selphie.

Zone goes for the handshake.

Squall does not shake hands.

Selphie is more than happy to, though.

Zell gets snubbed, naturally.

Zone: Just take it easy. Here, let me introduce you. Looks like you already met Watts.

Watts is the guy in yellow who calls everyone "sir".

He gives a little wave while Zell goes to shadow box in the corner.

Zone: I guess it's just our princess then.

I think Selphie is supposed to be looking out the window here, but she's a little short.

That's not a modelling mistake, either. She's really too short to reach the window, so she gets up on her toes.

Zone: Hey Squall, sorry, but could you go get the princess? She's in the last room, up those stairs. Some of our other guys are in the room on the way. Ask 'em if you get lost.

I don't think Squall is impressed with our orders, or the state of the Forest Owls' affairs.

: Were we hired to run errands? Well?

He's not angry, he's just disappointed.

: This is the last time for this kinda thing.

Zone becomes sick due to Squall's overwhelming determination to do his real job.

Selphie, at least, supports her squad leader.

Zell is sceptical about the Forest Owls.

But I mean, why would he be?

Hey Watts.


Well I don't wanna play checkers. Get out your deck.

Here in Galbadia, they play cards with the Same rule. Open is a holdover from Balamb.

Since we were "carrying" Open and played a combined-rules game with Watts, it's spread to Galbadia. Open is a good rule to have for farming, since you can immediately see if the other person has any of the cards you want.

Watts has a rare card on him, the dog card.

Now, let's go meet the "princess".

There are some unnamed Forest Owls here. Let's see what they have to say.

Nothing enlightening. Let's go.

This car seems a little nicer than the others.

Oh hey, that must be the princess.

Uh, are you gonna say anything?

Just gonna stare at her till she wakes up, eh? That works, too.

Oh hey, it's that girl Squall danced with.

Princess: So...does that mean... You're a SeeD!?
: I'm Squall, the squad leader. There's 2 others with me.

The princess is very happy to see SeeD.

Princess: I've been sending requests to Garden forever, but nothing... I'm so glad I spoke to Cid directly!

Hmm, so it seems like Cid took on a mission that the rest of the faculty didn't want to. If you'll recall, the faculty member at our briefing didn't seem impressed with this job.

: Oh... So you were looking for the headmaster at the party?

Squall is not happy to hear about Seifer, or the implication that the princess was at the ball because of him.

Princess: Well, he's the one who introduced me to Cid. Cid is such a nice man. I really didn't think SeeD would come out to help a measly little group like us. But after explaining the situation, Cid gave the go ahead right away!

Squall spends the entire time after hearing Seifer's name staring at the floor. I think someone's jealous.

We're in control here, because this is another one of those bits where we need to talk to someone to trigger the next set of lines.

Like so.

: I'm goin' back to the others.
Princess: Ok, let's go!

She stops short of the door to ask Squall about someone else.

: ......No, he's not a SeeD.
Princess: ...Oh.

I don't think she's very happy about that.

Like Squall, you can rename her (Squall and Rinoa are the only characters you can rename), and I'm not going to do it.

In a change of pace, Squall actually shakes her hand.

: Approach your target inconspicuously at a dance party... There may be missions requiring this sort of subterfuge. It's expected of SeeD to learn various skills.
: Ohhh... So it's work related.

Squall's just too embarrassed to admit that he was having fun at the end of the dance.

Hey, who's that on the right?

Squall acts cool, but he's as much of a dweeb as Laguna.

Yes, please introduce me to a cool dog.

: This is my partner...

Angelo is short for Sant' Angelo di Roma, which raises two questions: why does a female dog have a masculine name; and why would Rome be in her name, when Italy doesn't exist in Final Fantasy VIII?

: Angelo is really smart! Here, let me tell you...

And that's all you really need to know.

: Smart, huh?

: Ok, I'll meet you there.

Hey Angelo, you wanna play cards?

Fine, ignore me. Dick.

On the way back, the Forest Owls have new dialogue.

Forest Owls' Engineer: Of course there's nothing wrong with this train. I'm the one who's taking care of it.

Forest Owls' Blue Hat Manager: By the way, you're really lucky to come away without a scratch.

Well, here's everyone.

: Hi everyone! This way.

And so they all pile into that room.

But first, the Forest Owls have some new lines.

Forest Owls' Engineer: Anarchist Monthly used to write special reports about the president. I saw the guy who wrote for that magazine being taken away to the prison. Being imprisoned for telling the truth... That's downright wrong!!!

This guy has a lot of information about the Forest Owls.

Forest Owls' Blue Hat Manager: Watts and Zone's fathers founded 'The Forest Owls'.

Annoyingly, his dialogue is behind a couple of dialogue choices like this.

Forest Owls' Blue Hat Manager: 18 years ago on the day before the big invasion, there was an all out hunt for resistance members. Watts and Zone's fathers both died to protect everyone in the city. Galbadian soldiers shot them in front of everyone as a warning. Everybody looked away as they were executed. But... Watts and Zone were watching. They saw the whole thing. Deling glared down at the two of them like they were dirty rats. He had just become president. So, to show his power he took a soldier's gun and shot their father's already dead bodies. From that day on, they decided to carry on with their fathers' work as 'Forest Owls'. I decided to become a member after hearing that story.

That's pretty grim, man. This story is a lot more real than I'd expect for a group like the Forest Owls, who are immediately set up as comic foils to SeeD.

Forest Owls' Blue Hat Manager: We may look like a bunch of jokers to you guys. But we all have our stories. So try to understand, eh? When it all comes down to it, we get the job done. Still, we've got a long ways to go to live up to our 2 founding fathers.

It's a good point. To the SeeDs, and the player, the Forest Owls don't look serious, but they are. Zone and Watts may seem incompetent at first blush, and the group is certainly rough around the edges, but they've got a drive and dedication that someone like Squall, who's just there to make a buck, doesn't.

Overalls Man: (I just joined 'The Forest Owls'... So, I don't really know everything yet. No one would tell me. Why is that? The mystery is killing me!)

This guy just rubs salt in Squall's wounds.

With that done, let's get to this meeting.

Zone: This is a full-scale operation. Our resistance, 'The Forest Owls', will forever be known in the pages of Timber's independence! Exciting, huh?

Watts: He's a dictator, not a president. Not even popular in Galbadia, sir!
: President Deling is taking a private train from the Galbadian capital.
Zone: Our plan is to...

Selphie is maybe a bit more eager to kill the president than the Forest Owls.

: So get to the point! Just tell us what to do!

The SeeDs are all more interested in the actual plan than the reasoning behind it, of course. They're mercenaries, not heroes.

: Shall we begin?

Since I can't buy any of them, I want in-depth explanations of all model trains.

: Our ultimate goal is to seize the president in his car using our 'base'.

So we're kidnapping the president of Galbadia.

: That means, we'll have to switch our 'dummy car' with their 'president's car'. We'll use the 2 switch points leading up to Timber to carry out this operation. Ok, now I'm going to explain the procedure in seven steps.

Alright, so we start with jumping onto a moving train from another moving train. No problem.

: A high tech officer is onboard. I'll talk about the sensors later.

Zone: Deling hates the company of his guards and being surrounded by sensors, and keeps them away from his car.

That's convenient.

: BOOM! ...Game over, right?
: ...Yeah. So we'll have to move fast. I'll explain the uncoupling process later.

: We'll have the 'dummy car' and our 'base' move in. At this point, our train and their train will be linked and be moving together.

: After that, we'll return to our base and prepare to confront Deling.

Not exactly a long timeline, is it?

: If we fail, our train will collide with theirs at the switch point and it'll be all over. Don't forget that.
: 5 minutes...? You sure that's enough?
Zone: According to the simulation that we ran, it should take only 3 minutes to complete the operation. Piece of cake for SeeDs, right?
: Of course! Too easy!
: ......

This briefing is pretty long, and a lot of the stuff past this point is mostly tutorial for the player, so I think I'll skip over it for now.

: That's about it for the sensors.

This is a little more important, but there's still a lot of tutorial that isn't really material to the LP.

: Question...! How can you uncouple the cars from a moving train?
: Umm...we can't uncouple the cars directly.
Zone: Instead, we'll have to tamper with the control system that manages the coupling. If we temporarily disable the circuit for the connection, the car will uncouple automatically. To disable it, we have to enter several codes.
Watts: ...And we have the codes. Rinoa has them, sir!
: I'll be in charge of relaying the codes to Squall. Squall, you'll slide down on the side of the train using a cable and enter the codes into the system.

She explains how the codes actually work at this point, but I'll sit on that until we actually do it.

: After we uncouple the cars, we'll wait for the others to operate the rail switch. Remember, we only have 5 minutes to do everything, so make sure you're prepared.

You know, for being such a ragtag group, the Owls seem to have this planned out pretty well.

: By the way...this model's nice but the president's car looks kinda shabby. ......Why is that?

The SeeDs, of course, are fixated on minutiae.

Watts: Yeah, Rinoa made it. That's why. We bought everything else at the gift store.
: Oh... I thought some kid made it. The paint job sucks, too.
: (......? Yeah... It kind of does.)

Wow, SeeDs are assholes.

: Oh, shut up! I made it look like that on purpose. It represents my hatred towards Deling.
: Hatred, eh...? Yeah...right.
: It's one of the...ugliest things that I've ever seen in my life. You must really hate him.
: ......
: Are you guys finished!? Enough about the model! Can we get on with it now!?

That's the end of the briefing.

Of course, you can make her repeat it.

The whole briefing, from the beginning.

I am not doing that.

: Let's decide on the party!

Watts has a real job, but Zone has performance anxiety.

I don't think Rinoa is impressed with him.

: We're moving again... I'll go take a look. Talk to Watts when you're ready. The sooner the better.

Before the mission, we have a little light reading to do.

Anarchist Monthly First Issue!!! posted:

Galbadia's dictator, President Vinzer Deling Special! How does he stay in power!? We reveal his darkest secrets!!!

Anarchist Monthly 2nd Issue! posted:

President Deling became the president after the 2nd Sorceress War ended. To gain support quickly, he carried out the invasion of Timber. It was only a ploy to decorate an already corrupt man's immoral career... Our land Timber was brutally destroyed. Here began Vinzer Deling's road to dictatorship...

Anarchist Monthly 3rd Issue! posted:

To imprison anti-government sympathizers, the D-District Prison was built in the desert south of Deling City. Millions were spent to build the facility. The threat of being sent to the prison intensified Deling's unpopularity. The prison began imprisoning Galbadian anti-government sympathizers just as they did in Timber. Moreover, the leaders of the resistance movements faced the threat of having family members imprisoned as well. Around this time, Deling began surrounding himself with only loyalists, which turned him into an even more fierce dictator.

Anarchist Monthly Final Issue!!! posted:

With the exception of Esthar, the Galbadian Military possesses the world's only long range missiles. Although never used in combat, their existence has become a worldwide threat. It is said that the missiles have the ability to hit any target with astounding accuracy even without using radio signals. Will the time come for the president to push the button!? When the time comes, Ti... (The print is blurred on the last part.)

And there you have it, the abridged biography of Vinzer Deling.

Now we can go talk to the Owls one last time before the mission.

Forest Owls' Engineer: It talks when you get close enough. I hope this will trick the guards.

Forest Owls' Blue Hat Manager: That way, his face is covered. No guard would dare look over the paper after what we programmed him to say.

Huh. I suppose they wouldn't.

Hey, Dummy President, you wanna play cards?

Finally, if you head back to Rinoa's room, you can find a second Pet Pals.

Pet Pals lets you teach Angelo new tricks to use as limit breaks or just over time in battle.

In this menu, you can set a trick to learn. The bar fills as you walk around, and when it's done, your old dog learns a new trick. I'm going to learn all the tricks.

Next time: we kidnap the president of Galbadia!