Part 18: Part Eighteen: The Occupied TownPart Eighteen: The Occupied Town
Well, our plan to use the Galbadian president as a bargaining chip didn't exactly go off, so we're stuck chasing him to the TV station now.
Squall and Rinoa have to be in the party, and we're taking Selphie since that's who the thread voted for. Who's in your party can make a pretty big difference at some points in the game, but it doesn't really matter here - one line of dialogue is affected.
Let's take a look at Rinoa, now.
Rinoa is very good, stat-wise. In fact, of all the characters in the game, she has the highest base Strength, Magic, and Spirit. Her Vitality is a little low, but that's really her only weakness - even her HP is only 6 points less than Squall's. Much better than you'd expect from an untrained rebel, when compared to the SeeDs.
Rinoa also gives me a chance to talk about another mechanic she's pretty good at, Compatibility. A character's Compatibility with various GFs influences how quickly they can summon those GFs. It ranges from 0 to 1,000; at 0, it takes about 17 seconds to summon a GF, and at 1,000 it takes about 3. If you summon GFs a lot, this can make a bit of difference in battle because it means the GF is around to soak up damage longer, but it's not a huge difference otherwise. You can increase compatibility by summoning a GF, by using various items on characters from the menu, or by casting magic. These all usually have the side-effect of lowering another GF's compatibility, though, so you can't really maintain 1,000 for all GFs if you make heavy use of them. Honestly, though, you can ignore Compatibility completely and do just fine in the game. It's one of the more obscure game mechanics and at least half of the reason I didn't discuss it when we first got GFs is that I forgot it even existed.
Here is an example of an actually useful mechanic: junction exchanging.
From the party menu, I can swap Rinoa's and Zell's junctions with just a few button presses.
Ta-da! Rinoa has now taken Zell's magic and GFs and set them up exactly how he had them. This is very handy for when you want to change your party, because you don't have to futz around in a lot of menus to get your junctions set back up.
Mechanics chat status: done.
Forest Owls status: nothing new going on.
Zell status: unable to be called upon. You can't change your party here.
Watts: But the local and transcontinental trains have stopped running, sir... Nothing to worry about, sir! There must be someone in town who knows.
Nothing to do on the train, might as well head out.
Good luck, Watts.
Before we get to run around Timber, we get this scene with some Galbadians.
Galbadian Soldier 1: He was asking about the president's stay! I found it strange that a cadet would keep asking about the president. He was very polite and kept addressing me as 'sir'.
They're obviously talking about Watts here.
Galbadian Soldier 2: I think I know who you're talking about! He was taking care of 3 suspicious looking characters from Balamb!
Probably bad news for the SeeDs.
Galbadian Soldier 2: I'll go question every teenager in the area!!!
That seems, uh...
The Galbadian officer, at least, isn't on board with the plan. Of course, that guy's already run off.
Galbadian Officer: Ahem. These are citizens. We can't commit any...
Galbadian Soldier 3: Not only is it disrespectful to the president, but also to us Galbadian soldiers as well! I'll be sure to find'em and throw their sad be-hinds in jail!!!
Even if some soldiers are reasonable, though, it seems like most aren't.
The last guy doesn't even say anything, he just salutes and runs off.
Too bad those other guys are so enthusiastic.
Now, back to the story.
Watts: I think the TV Station is located behind a building called Timber Maniacs! Please head in that direction, sir! I hope you find it!
Thanks for the directions, Watts, but you should try not to miss the train.
I'm always, careful, Watts. Now, the train.
Aaand there they go.
Watts: ...I guess you won't be needing it anyway. You're all SeeDs, you'll be fine, right, sir!?
There go the Owls. Real heroes.
The Owls would be better, in my opinion, if the game just kept to the characterisation of them as amateurish, with their slapdash base and ragtag membership, rather than occasionally portraying them as being totally incompetent like this. It undercuts the whole "inexperienced but dedicated" thing when they can't even keep all their guys on their train.
But enough about the Owls, the pet shop is open.
Also, being a new place, Timber has a new track:
Rinoa got Angelo at this shop.
The pet shop sells a lot of GF medicine and items. Pet Houses are the same as Tents, but for GFs, and the Scrolls teach abilities. Of course, all GFs come with Magic, GF, Draw, and Item pre-learned, but there are other items we'll be able to get later on that teach abilities that aren't so common.
Amnesia Greens are used to remove abilities from a GF's list. As you get more GFs, it can be handy to drop some of the basic abilities to grab more support stuff, but it's not really crucial.
Anyway, the only things we're buying today are the two volumes of Pet Pals.
Volume 3 contains what is probably Rinoa's most useful Limit Break, Invincible Moon. It makes the party invincible for a while, which is indispensable for certain boss battles later on.
Angelo Reverse I have never seen go off in battle. It works on the hidden "dead time" timer that a few other things are based on, mainly the other passive Angelo abilities, but it also needs a knocked out character to activate. What it boils down to is that, after about 13 seconds, the game does some checks, and there's a 1% chance that Angelo Reverse will activate. It's not exactly reliable.
Invincible Moon is great, though, and you can actually activate it reliably (it's based directly on Rinoa's crisis level; using her limit at crisis level 3 means Invincible Moon is used if you know it), so we're going to learn it right now.
Now it's back to our number one pastime, talking to NPCs.
Someone over here is making fun of Watts.
There are random battles in Timber, but they're all with the same Galbadian soldiers we fought in Dollet. They're still not a threat.
Maybe this guy can help us find the TV station.
Timber Guy: Yeah, that's in this town. You wanna know more about it? Maybe the lady next door would know...
Well, we'll get right on that, as soon as we're done checking out Timber Maniacs.
: We just want to look around.
Receptionist: Oh, ok. Go right on ahead.
There are a lot of these around.
Squall's a big fan.
I'm sure Zone will be very happy to know that we finally found this porno rag he wanted.
Unlike other magazines, you can't read it in the menu - when you auto-sort items, it's not even kept with them.
This is the only thing of value in this room.
Not really lucrative, though. It also never refills, so these are the only Blizzaga spells we'll ever get in this room.
This is the last stop on the tour of the Timber Maniacs office.
: (I didn't say anything...)
Artist: It's a major sell out, and we don't have any in stock.
Glad that's working out for you, then.
Artist: A lot's happening in Timber, but art is definitely the way to go. Hey, I heard that card games are getting popular. Maybe collections of photographs on cards might sell.
This guy isn't really important to the plot or characters, he's just some skeeve who's more interested in money than integrity or Timber's freedom.
This guy (the editor of Timber Maniacs) is mad about the sad state of the modern media.
Well, let's take it from the top.
This is what you get if you ask about Timber Maniacs.
Editor: We are a publisher that was started 20 years ago. We used to publish a magazine called Tim Mani, short for Timber Maniacs.
I feel like that title sounded better in Japanese than it does in English.
Editor: It was a compilation of freelance writing: letters, reports, etc... The majority of the fans wanted to become journalists. I joined the company because I wanted to become an editor for Tim Mani.
This guy talks a lot.
Squall's not a fan (and neither are Selphie, looking out the window; or Rinoa, looking at the floor).
He just doesn't care much for people who get stuck in the past.
This is another one of those oh-so-annoying subtle characterisation things. A whole lot of character stuff and world-building in this game only show up in side conversations, so it's very easy to miss and think things later on are coming out of nowhere.
Editor: A word of advice! You're still young! Don't let your life pass you by!
The editor gives us this bit of advice, but we're not quite done in there yet.
First off, we can find another old issue of Timber Maniacs.
And now we can chat with the editor about our dream about Laguna.
: Recently, I had a strange dream that I became a Galbadian soldier named Laguna.
What a stupid thing to bring up with a stranger.
: Actually, it was too realistic to be just a dream. My friends had a similar experience, too.
Why would you say this to someone, you dork?
Editor: Yeah. Dreams are really strange. This morning I dreamt that...
The question on all of our minds.
Squall isn't a big fan of dreamers, either.
He gives you the same advice after every little chat.
Well, one option left.
Like the artist, the editor isn't very politically engaged.
Editor: Back then, we were in the middle of a war against the sorceress. So I kept writing letters to Timber Maniacs stressing how meaningless the war was. I was really happy, even though there was a war going on. It gave me hope about my future.
Editor: Look at the young people these days. They're all so lazy. I don't know what they're thinking...
Squall, of course, isn't interested in the editor's story.
Of course Squall is the kind of guy who thinks adults need to grow up and move on.
Just look at his body language here. He thinks this guy is a moron.
: Nothing. Thanks.
Editor: That's too bad. I like talking to young people.
Jeez, even when you don't ask him anything the guy talks too much.
We will not.
On my way to the next place to check out, Booyakaga learns Enc-Half, which cuts the encounter rate by three quarters.
This is a very useful quality-of-life ability, and goes on Selphie immediately.
I also finally get around to putting her Curagas on her HP.
This is the house where the guy said we'd be able to learn about the TV station.
: We have no choice. The trains aren't running.
Woman: Let's see... There used to be a way through the back alley of this house... The Pub was built around the time they stopped broadcasting. We haven't used the back alley too much since then. Why don't you try looking through the 2F window? You should be able to see the back alley.
We should just jump out the window, then. We could have jumped off that cliff earlier, I think a SeeD could take a fall from the second floor.
Thankfully, we can also hear about this person's parents' marriage.
Well, that's enlightening. Let's go upstairs.
This house doesn't have a lot of rooms.
Kid: Can u believe him! He eats up a wot of r food 2... That's y we're charging a look-see fee... We can't help it. It's the kitty's fault...
So this kid's gonna shake us down for money if we look out the window. Whatever, we have money.
The headstanding kid just tells us which window to look out.
Might as well.
Look, there's the alley. All we have to do now is just jump. Jump jump jump.
...What a baby.
We can spare 10 gil for this kid, sure.
His mother has different ideas, though.
I think we're gonna get to keep that 10 gil.
In Trouble: Awwaah...(sob) I...I reduced the pwice from 1,000 Gil, though...(sob)
Mother: It's not about the money! I didn't raise you this way!
And so, he goes back to headstanding and Squall keeps his 10 gil in his pocket.
If we go back to the train station, we can find this Zone-looking guy.
Somebody has a crush.
I was going to transcribe this one, but I figured everyone would put Zone Wanna-be up as a joke.
Zone Wanna-be: I'd be able to actually meet'm. Ya know what I'm sayin'?
This guy has a lot of dialogue for being someone who's never relevant to anything at all, ever.
Zone Wanna-be: First time I came to this here city, I was lost as a sheep... Many thanks to the mighty kind lady at the gift store, though. Showed me the Map of Timber and now I'm set.
How are seeing the gift store's map and learning the layout of Timber at all related, though?
We can also check out the other platforms. Trains aren't running.
: Usually, the local trains would be running here. A lot of hustle and bustle...
Sneezy: I'm allergic to cats... My daughter loves them. What am I to do?
Just tell your daughter to go pay those other kids to hang out with that cat, and everyone's problems are solved.
The sign on the store doesn't say "tampons", but I always hope it does.
If we tell her we're good, she's very happy.
But, I mean, we're mercenaries, not saints.
Squall is a dog guy, Seifer likes cats. That's important Final Fantasy VIII lore and not a throw-away joke.
Jesus, kid, we're paid to kill people, not to be mean to animals.
Security Guard: ......
: We have to get to the TV Station fast. I can't bear to watch them suffer like this.
Galbadian Soldier: Just imagine how much this place would thrive if you were loyal to us. This place is gonna be stuck in the backwoods forever.
Security Guard: So what if we're undeveloped. We're not looking to thrive. All we want is to be able to stand on our own feet; to be independent and live according to what we believe. You guys will probably never understand, having thrown away your pride and dignity. We're not the fools. You are.
This guard's got guts.
The Galbadians aren't really feeling like a philosophical debate, though.
Look, man, you're either going to discuss morality civilly, or we're going to kill you.
This is hardly even a fight. The Galbadian army is a huge joke.
No problem, buddy.
This is the town gate, and we still can't leave Timber.
Let's check out the hotel. Even when the game is railroading us, there's a whole bunch of dumb crap we can run around doing.
Like being in people's way.
Or talking about model trains.
Does it matter?
Not even a little. But it's nice that it's here.
There's also this option to be shitty to Rinoa for no reason at all.
It really hurts her feelings! Wow! What a jerk you are for choosing this!
: Just kidding...
: When someone says they're kidding, it's usually half true...
Squall is very difficult to talk to, because he's so blunt about things and doesn't pay much attention to others' feelings.
Rinoa, for example, doesn't really know Squall that well, so she's at a loss here. This is their second conversation that had nothing to do with business, and Squall dissed her out of nowhere.
: Oh... Um... It's just a saying, you know, I'm sorry.
The lady finds this whole exchange so awkward that she has to walk away.
We can't even stay at the hotel. This sucks.
Well, that's easy enough to solve.
: I understand. Thanks, Miss DiMarco.
Rinoa takes a more diplomatic approach.
Miss DiMarco: Oh, Rinoa. How long have we known each other? Call me Francesca. I'm behind you all the way! Good luck!
If we try to go into the hotel without a room, the gate blocks us.
It doesn't like folks trying to sneak in.
Hey, kid, I'm the LPer around here.
Well, it's back this way.
Towards the pub, there's fuckin' even more people to talk to. Towns in Final Fantasy VIII are generally fairly well-populated.
Maybe we're supposed to go to the pub?
Well, I don't want to go to the pub now.
Not really. I mean, I think people on a date would sit together.
Like that one Galbadian said, pretty much everyone in Timber is a resistance supporter.
Over here is maybe the weirdest response menu in the game.
Thanks for the advice.
Man, Squall's not even 18. That's bad advice to give a child.
Squall is excited about the sky.
Informative Person: I lose sleep when I think of what those beams could do to me.
Laser beams will not be a problem for us.
Well, there's only one option we've not seen.
Informative Person: Used to be that we were surrounded by this beautiful forest...
Well, at least you've still got the Owls.
Now we finally have the chance to play on the train tracks! Yay!
You and Selphie should be friends, kid.
Probably better than the alternative.
Jesus, kids, buy a soccer ball before you're killed.
It probably wouldn't be as bad if your train platforms were centralised at all. For example, at a train station.
I will spare you from the train itinerary.
Instead, let's talk to the three people in this tiny room. Final Fantasy VIII has enough damn townspeople for two games.
For Christ's sake, old man, I get it about the pub.
Yeah, go tell some other teens about getting wasted.
Of course, the old guy really wants to tell us about beverages.
Beverage Lover: Ahhh, you don't have to hold back. It's just water.
Water is pretty great. Thanks, old-timer.
Over here, we have a very sad girl.
Lovelorn Girl: Life is so strange... It's not like anyone teaches you, but why do people end up hurting each other...?
If you're Squall, you end up hurting people because you get paid to.
Lovelorn Girl: When you're feeling blue and you hear a touching song, doesn't it make you wanna cry...?
Squall's just going to tell you about how feelings are stupid.
Well, uh, there's plenty of fish in the sea.
This house is too small for a family of one, yo.
Cramped Girl: Mom's working at the pub, grandma's at the gift shop... They don't seem to mind. And grandpa's so stubborn, he refuses to move to a bigger house. I want a BIG, HUGE room to myself! One of these days, I'm gonna get my own place!
People are all just livin' their lives.
Cramped Girl: People mistake this place for the station office. It's really annoying...
We can also check out the faucet, like the old man said.
: I feel revitalized...
Grandpa: How is it? Good?
You may remember that the gift shop told us about the Owl's Tears. Well, here they are. Since we can't stay at the hotel, this is how we get healed in Timber.
Grandpa: ...Hahaha, I'm not trying pressing you for money. Don't worry, young lad. Aaaaahhh... You can't beat it! It's natural spring water. It only works the first few times you drink it. I've been drinking it all my life... No effect for me anymore, but oh, it's so good!
There's one other little thing you can do here.
Grandpa:: Say, young lad... ...What on earth are you doing?
You have to be very serious about cupboards to do this.
: (It won't open...?)
Grandpa: So is that what youngsters are doing nowadays? Opening up people's cupboards?
Cramped Girl: That cupboard is kinda stuck. You can open it by BANGING it a little.
Well, there we are.
Grandpa: You're quite the strange one, young lad... Is it that fun, opening an empty cupboard?
Cramped Girl: (Pssst...Pssst... Grandpa, I remember you hid something there...)
Let's give it one more look, eh?
Finally, we can be a piece of shit to a poor old person.
Of course, this isn't a real reward. He also won't let you drink any more tears, so it's not worth it at all.
Now, let's finally get down to the pub.
What are these Galbadian idiots up to now?
Galbadian Soldier: Yo, better ease off a little. These Timber hicks hate us enough as it is.
You're gonna die.
Two hits later, I find this Buel card on their dead-ass corpses.
Then I get paid just for looking at this draw point.
Over on the side of the area is the Timber shop, where I pick up some Tents to give everyone a boost to their Curaga junctions.
Drifter: I came from Dollet to have me a good time. And now... Trains are no longer running... Can't even stay in a hotel because of some stupid official...! Harrassed by Galbadian soldiers... Had my precious card stolen... This hasn't been my day...
Great, now we probably have to fix this asshole's problems.
Drifter: Those jerks... They think they can use brute force to get anything they want. Hell... This town's a good example... Yeah... Everything's jacked up because the resistance tried to kidnap the president.
Not being from around here, the drifter isn't very concerned about Timber's independence.
Drifter: Don't they understand I'm the one suffering from their reckless actions!? Stupid, boneheaded, good-for-nothing, resistance! You can just kiss my...
Rinoa, of course, takes exception.
And so does this guy.
Resistance Supporter: The resistance is fighting for Timber's future! They're all doing the best they can. It's the Galbadian soldiers and their leader who are at fault!
Owner: Might be a little difficult right now. He's being pretty stubborn. The guy throws a fit when you try to move him from that spot.
Christ, what a hassle.
: We need to get through.
Drifter: Geez, and now I'm getting dissed by some punk...!? Owner, gimme another drink!
Basically, we have to get the drifter to move so that we can reach the back alley and get to the TV station.
To do this, we can either buy him a drink (this is a puzzle, where you have to match the guy's favourite type of booze) or just tell him about the card you got from beating the Galbadians outside.
Long story short, the drink he wants is named after everyone's favourite president, Reagan.
The drinks at this pub are all named after the greens you could feed chocobos in Final Fantasy VII.
He's very happy to get it.
Drifter: I ain't the rude type, either. Here, take some o' this! Ha ha ha...(hic)
The easier way to do this is just to tell the guy about the card you got outside.
: Is this your card?
Drifter: Huh? ...It is! Why do you have it!?
: ......Found it outside.
Drifter: Are you serious? ......Okay. Thanks. Know what? I'm feelin' generous! So you can keep that card. And also...this one! I'll move out of the way now.
The Tonberry card is the better reward here, since you can refine it for 30 Death spells (and Death is probably the most important thing to have on status defence), but you can only get 20 Confuses from the Forbidden.
Whichever method you choose, he's out of the way.
And we're finally to the back alley!