Part 85: Part Eighty-Five: I'm LostPart Eighty-Five: I'm Lost
Leaving the reception room or whatever we were just in, there's a hallway with a picture of downtown Winhill in it. That's an interesting piece of decor. Also, if you look at the carpet, there's Esthar's logo again, just like on those camo panels we saw here:
and the Lunatic Pandora lab:
This isn't particularly interesting, since we already know those things were in/around Esthar, but I think it's a quaint little detail.
As the guy implied earlier, we're now free to explore the city. This particular hallway isn't very fruitful.
So let's try this, instead.
When you take the lift, this little FMV plays. It's, uh, let's say better in motion. Very impressive in 1999, I'm sure.
Now we're back on this screen, in the city of Esthar proper.
This guy is very surprised to see us.
Squall is a very important person.
There are a lot of people in Esthar, and some of them have more interesting things to say than others. I wonder how weird it would be to see a tourist for the first time in 17 years.
Talking to the sentries is actually sort of useful.
LEFTSIDE Sentry: Dr. Odine's Laboratory is on this side. You can take the lifter via Esthar Airstation to get there.
It's not remarked upon, but Esthar actually has an airport. At the moment, of course, it's the only one in the world. I guess air traffic control is too hard to do when you can't use radios.
LEFTSIDE Sentry: Please visit our shopping mall, too. It's by the city entrance.
Shopping is always important.
Over on the right, this guy has some good advice. It's definitely a good idea to leave the city in a car.
RIGHTSIDE Sentry: This side is called the RIGHTSIDE. If you wish to exit the city, stay on the RIGHTSIDE. You can get to the city entrance quickly if you take the lifter. Are you going to Lunar Gate? Head east from the city.
Another useful bit of navigation advice. If you want to move on with the story, this guy pretty much tells you how. Thanks, guy.
I, however, want to explore, so I'm going left.
Leaving the Presidential Palace takes you to Esthar - City. Every screen without a major landmark is just called Esthar - City. That's important.
Now, let me explain the rule of Esthar - City: I'm lost. As soon as I see those blue roads, my sense of direction goes right out the window. I have no earthly idea how any screen in this place relates to any other screen, I just let it wash over me. That's not to say the layout of Esthar is complicated, it's just big enough that I can't remember it.
No matter where you are, though, you can talk to NPCs.
They don't seem particularly unfriendly. I suppose it's the higher-ups who are really into isolationism.
There's a lift(er) here, but I'm not taking it. Lotta runnin' around to do today.
On this screen, we can help a man get his dog back by talking to the dog. It's important to help people out. Good manners.
Despite being pretty well-protected from any approach, Esthar still has soldiers walking around. They're not interested in a war against Galbadia, but they're still ready to fight one.
Over here, we can find out the president doesn't spend a lot of time in his office. Maybe a bit odd.
It's very nice. Very distinctive look, and nobody has tried to kill us. Probably one of the better spots we've been.
Over here, again, someone is complaining about the president's odd hours.
Esthar Guy: Then again, maybe not. He must be very busy everyday.
Another guy on a break! Fascinating.
Yeah, I love to be...under an overpass? Sure.
This screen also has a save point, and when you go near it, a green light pops up that heals you. I guess this is Esthar's equivalent of an inn.
Not really a surprise, but the president, who replaced Adel, is also responsible for not continuing the war with Galbadia.
As it says on the ground, this path leads to Odine's Lab.
Lab Sentry: Especially when they're subjects of research. You better make sure nothing happens to your girl.
The guard takes a moment to remind us that Odine is a typical research-before-ethics guy.
He also elicits one of Squall's few responses to NPC dialogue. This was implied before, but now it's explicit.
The other guard is not as useful.
We can hit the draw point at the lab, but we can't actually go in. I'll try back later.
This is a screen I like a lot because you can see just how sprawling Esthar City is.
Guy who's here for no particular reason: Perhaps we should've made contact with the outside world and shared our vast knowledge.
Talking to people around the place, you can kind of get the impression not everyone's on board with Esthar's isolation. Still better than war or Adel, though.
It's useful to have this sentry here because I never remember which path is the exit. I like to look at Esthar, but I'm honestly kind of ambivalent about going around the place.
And, naturally, there's still more to see, so we're not leaving yet.
Look at all the stuff in this picture. Like I mentioned, I love the scale of Esthar, and how it's clear you're only visiting a tiny section of it.
There's a draw point here, but everyone has 100 Curaga already, so.
Ah, a dialogue tree, because they really liked those for this game.
We're going top-to-bottom, here.
Elderly Woman: Oh...so you've been to FH.
Elderly Man: ...Over 17 years ago, a number of my friends left to go there. I hope they're doing all right.
I wonder if these people know Dobe, or the Master Fisherman.
If we tell her we took the Garden, she says this, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me? The Gardens weren't made in Esthar.
Elderly Woman: Yes, I knew you were lying. Shame on you.
Or, if we straight-up lie to her, she just casually mentions the Esthar space program.
Elderly Woman: Yes, I knew you were lying. Shame on you.
Unfortunately, she doesn't expound upon Esthar's spaceship technology. I wonder if they've gone to the moon.
I guess this is the centre of the city. There ya go.
Over here, some guys are being vague at each other.
There's something we haven't seen mentioned in a bit. I guess between the one that busted up Centra and now, a Lunar Cry came down in Trabia. There's actually a big crater on the Trabia continent that I may have "forgotten" to "look at" when we were there earlier.
This is a really weird line, because it seems like he's going to say something else, or he's responding to something, but it's just on its own. Oh well.
Who cares about soldiers when we could learn about Estharian fashion?
Fashionista: The hem of our attire does not become dirty, because the city is kept very clean.
I love lore.
Moving on, let's hassle some children.
Boy: The moon looks pretty, but it's really scary. Did you know that?
Girl: My dad taught me. My dad studies the moon.
All I know about the moon is you should never fuck with it.
On this screen is also another Esthar soldier, surprise surprise.
If you tell him you don't know about Esthar, he just says this. Sure.
But, if you say you do know about Esthar...
You get a dialogue choice! This probably isn't something you'd normally see, because why would you talk to this guy? But it's here.
: It's scientifically advanced.
Middle-Aged Soldier: Yeah, our weapons and vehicles are really advanced compared to the outside world. We have great engineers and scientists.
Based on this, I get the impression Esthar isn't particularly focussed on things like consumer goods or, say, medicine. Most of those guys probably went to FH.
: It has remained isolated...
Middle-Aged Soldier: Yeah, I guess... It wasn't our intent, though. It kind of happened naturally. Also, our government isn't really into diplomacy. I guess it worked out fine. We all wanted to live peacefully and do research on our own.
I think this is the first time anyone's really remarked on why Esthar's isolated, even though the reason isn't surprising.
: Dr. Odine resides here...
Middle-Aged Soldier: He's an odd fellow... He changes his mind so often when it comes to research. I'm surprised he actually gets things done.
I get the impression the soldiers aren't particularly fond of Odine. He must be useful to someone.
: Sorceresses have reigned here.
Middle-Aged Soldier: There hasn't been a sorceress here in 17 years. Numerous atrocities were committed during Adel's reign. Since then, it's been peaceful. Maintaining peace and order isn't easy, though. It requires a lot of effort.
Well, there you go. I guess the soldiers are really beat cops.
: I have no time for this.
Middle-Aged Soldier: That's right, huh? I heard you have something important to do. Well, good luck.
The other soldier is far less useful.
Other Soldier: Just be careful not to get lost.
Over here, another guy can tell us about the president.
Presidential Aide (I think!): This time, he wants a device that allows you to scratch anywhere on your body. You know, so that you don't have to reach with your hands.
Is the president an idiot?
Researcher: Oh, if you want to leave the city, take this lifter.
We're still not leaving yet.
If we left, we wouldn't see this important scene!
(The woman leaves, but thankfully you can just follow her, so I'm very temporarily not lost.)
Man: I thought we agreed to meet down here.
Even the fuckin' NPCs are lost in this place.
Speaking of, this entire time, I was looking for the shopping mall. Having not found it, I just went to the lift(er).
There we are. It's much easier to get around the city with these, but you're deprived of the NPC dialogue.
Daughter: I couldn't help it.
Mother: Thanks to you, I had to buy 999 potions.
Soldier: Excuse me, but where did you buy your clothes?
Nobody else has mentioned it, but I suppose Squall's outfit would look pretty interesting to Estharians.
Now, let's shop.
Shopping in Esthar is kind of a pain in the ass, since you have to use this menu to access any of the shops. It doesn't navigate like you might think, either - you scroll through it (left to right, then up to down) by pressing the down button.
Also, two of the shops are closed "today"! What that really means is you have to scroll to them over and over, trying to open them, until they decide to be open. It's great.
Some of the shops, like the Pet Shop, are always open. Now we can get the last two issues of Pet Pals!
Most of these are standard shops with slightly expanded stock, but this one is a special shop with some really cool stuff, such as Elixirs. This is, of course, one of the two shops that's closed most of the time.
Another type of store unique to Esthar is the book store, where you can get pretty much any magazine in the game, such as Combat King 001, which is only found in the D-District Prison otherwise. This is, of course, usually when I remember that you can find Combat King 001 in the D-District Prison.
While we're shopping, there's one last thing to see. I said two of the shops are closed. Well, this is the other one.
It will never open, but if you try enough times, you'll get this.
As the bottom text says, this gives you a Rosetta Stone, which will be handy someday.
Now, back to NPCs.
This one guy has a bunch of lines for some reason (yeah, I know there's one from the other guy mixed in there).
And, naturally, the layout of NPCs here is semi-random.
I don't know what this has to do with anything. I guess this is the engineering district of Esthar.
This was a strange line to me until I remembered that there are Esthar soldier cyborgs during Laguna's dream at the dig site:
In the Japanese version, they're called Terminators. That's what they're talking about here.
Remember: don't make the cyborg soldiers too weird!
And, on that note, we're done talking to people and can leave the city.
Well, after Squall thinks about how cool it is.
Following the one soldier's advice from the start of the update, I rented a car.
They really like these kinds of lifts here. If it works, I guess.