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"Thank God Aila decided to join the party, so I can make use of her kick-ass Shield magic. I mean, it would have sucked if the one Karayan they had met and brought along turned out to be a magically inept sword monkey. So go Aila! And go game designers, for giving me a balanced party!"
     -Sam, Suikoden III Part 6

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Final Fantasy VIII : Part 9
By Jeanne
Posted 07.04.05
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
Last time we checked in on Squally and the band of misfits, the team unfortunately attempted to carry out the world's shittiest assassination mission. Not only was the whole thing designed by a group of lobotomized baboons (I'm referring to the in-story mission planners and the game designers), but Rinhoa also threw an irritating, Mary Sue-shaped wrench into the proceedings. Squally was forced to save her worthless ass for neither the first nor the last time, but not before he discovered that his favorite gunblade-wielding stud is not, after all, among the deceased. Too bad said stud has been brainwashed by a chick.

Now, after a riveting cliffhanger, we finally get to find out what happened after the assassination failed and Squally was brutally raped in the shoulder with ice shards and ended up with six kids. Except that we totally don't. Because when the lights come back up, we're in a decent-sized bedroom with Laguna (yes, he apparently survived his fall -- yay and shit) and a little girl. Raise your hands if you just took that the wrong way. Yeah, I thought so. Fortunately for everyone involved, including us, Laguna is not FFVIII's version of Seymour Guado. Even if the little girl does refer to him as "Uncle Laguna." Ick.

Anyway, the whole point in having her barge into his very unmasculine bedroom is that "There's someone here to see yoo." That is not a typo -- it may be the game designers' attempt at making us all melt over the kyoot little kiddie talk. Or, more likely, it's just another example of the game designers' intense and irrational hatred of me. Making me want to kick in my TV, thus badly injuring my weak girl foot and destroying my only source of happiness isn't very nice of them, is it?

Laguna immediately and correctly assumes the person in question is a guy. Go figure. When Laguna asks Little Miss Speech Impediment for details, she describes his clothes as "funny." Well, that narrows it down to every single male in this game. Jesus. "He's tawking to Raine right now," LMSI says, causing my blood pressure to spike. If I want to see badly misspelled shit, I'll surf the web. Laguna deduces that the mystery person and this Raine individual are both at the pub. Awesome, maybe I can get a drink.

LMSI is proud of herself for running from the pub to wherever the fuck Laguna is in order to give him this thrilling news. But Uncle Laguna isn't proud. In fact, he practically pops a blood vessel. "It's dangerous to be out there by yourself. What if a monster comes and attacks you?" Wow, a video game character just gave me some good mental imagery. Mark this date on your calendars; I think we just created a new holiday.

Some more back and forth establishes some no doubt essential information: the girl's name is Elle, the pub is next door, there are monsters everywhere, and no one seems to give a shit that a little kid is hanging around a bar. Of course, the last one isn't so surprising in this day and age. Also, Laguna makes sure to let us know that the monsters are all skeevy pedophiles, since they apparently prefer to suck on little girls. And there's the bad imagery again. So much for the holiday.

There's more saccharine and nauseating talk that none of us gives the slightest shit about, and then Elle -- full name Ellone -- runs out the door. Laguna yells after her, but it can't be all that urgent, since he stops to draw Curaga out of a draw point in the room. It turns out that Ellone, who's waiting downstairs, hasn't stupidly raced out to certain monster molestation, which is good in the sense that we don't have to be horribly disturbed but bad in that we still have to deal with her retarded baby talk. It looks like she and Laguna are in some sort of house that's been royally fucked over -- there are bullet holes in the wall, at least. The rest of the room is your basic kitchen setup. And I neglected to mention this earlier, but since I'm describing the surroundings, I may as well talk about the background music. It's kind of a nostalgic waltz played on an out-of-tune music box. In other words, we're not exactly supposed to feel threatened and on-edge here. More like suffocating boredom. This is foreshadowing.

Ellone figures that she was a good girl since she waited for Laguna instead of rushing out the door to get raped by the child molesting monsters. This time Laguna and his new short denim jacket and brown pants ensemble agree. "Dear Ellone's father and mother. Ellone's been a good girl today," he says to a pair of photos on a nearby shelf. So either Ellone's parents are dead and we're supposed to feel all sad and tragic over this, or Laguna's just fucked in the brain and talks to pictures. It's a toss-up, really. And then Ellone runs out the door, negating the entire last scene. So I sat through that for nothing.

I don't know about you, but this is the most exciting subplot in the history of gaming and I can hardly wait to follow Ellone out the door and find out more about what's going on. As it turns out, the bullet-ridden house is located in the town square of a quaint little village. The pub, like Ellone said, is right next door. There's also a mansion guarded by some Galbadian soldiers. Well, I might as well talk to them, since I'm pretty much starved for adult conversation by now. And not the kind of adult conversation that Rina enjoys.

The Galbadian soldier standing smack dab in the center of the town square's flower design wonders when the Esthar soldiers will show up. "That was 2 years ago, right? They would've been here by now," Laguna replies. I'm not sure -- since the conversation makes about as much sense as a women's brothel in Hyrule -- but I think we're supposed to translate this shitty exposition into "Hey, it's been two years since the last horribly boring Laguna adventure!" He makes some other clumsy expositional comment about Esthar being ruled by a sorceress. We'll file that little piece of information away in our brains for later, displacing other more useful real life knowledge. I love being a gamer.

One of the mansion guards exposits that Laguna looks all better so he should join back up with the army. I was going to make a comment about his army adventures sucking a lot of ass, but then I realized they were a lot better than the last two minutes and thirty seconds. If this is a downward trend, I shudder to think of how assy the future Laguna episodes will be. That's the kind of scary shit that keeps me awake at night.

Don't give Laguna any ideas.

Laguna whines at the last Galbadian mansion guard to help him fight the monsters that apparently plague the town. The guard haughtily replies that he's an NPC and thus cannot do anything of the sort. This doesn't go over so well with Laguna, but considering how much the random scrub Galbadian soldiers blow balls in battle, he should be glad they're not fighting alongside him.

Of course Laguna runs into some of the aforementioned monsters on his way over to the pub, so I finally get to see what all the fuss is about. As expected, these are some nasty motherfuckers, and I can see why Laguna needs to recruit as much help as possible. Surely you can detect my sarcasm by now -- the monsters are totally lame. Seriously, it's a Bite Bug and a Caterchipillar. I'm pretty sure I fought these losers at the very beginning of the game. Yeah, scary -- that giant rainbow-colored caterpillar makes me shake in my boots. Don't bother pointing out that monsters gain levels along with the characters. I know this. They're still easy and lame and stupid.

After he mows them down with his masculine machine gun, Laguna finally makes it to the damn bar. When he reaches the door, he yells to Ellone that it's all clear. I'm confused until I see a tiny group of five pixels run over to join Laguna at the pub -- apparently she's been waiting for him on the front step of the bullet house. So it's the worst transgression in the history of humankind for the kid to go outside if she's running from one building to another, but it's okay if she just stands around out there like live bait. That makes sense.

Now Laguna enters the pub. In the single second between Ellone's and Laguna's entrance, Raine has managed to bitch Ellone out for the running around outside shit. Before I go on with the rest of this lamery, I have to take a moment to recover from my sudden heart attack. You see, Raine is a woman. No, that's not the shocking part. But she is a woman in a Final Fantasy game who, although she is young, thin, and pretty, is wearing a simple off-white sweater and a pair of jeans. And she has her long, brown hair back in a simple headband. I'm really not shitting you this time. Seriously -- neither her boobs nor asscheeks are displayed to the entire population. I know! Christ, Tetsuya Nomura must have wanted to kill himself while designing her.

Raine finishes the lecture with an order for Ellone to go play in her room. Yeah, that's about the worst punishment ever. Laguna says something to Ellone that I totally tune out, and Raine bitches at him as well for not using "proper English" around the girl. Holy shit, I like her already. I want to hire Raine to mod the forums. Of course, Laguna and Ellone just snicker behind Raine's back and act like imbeciles.


Sorry about that. I had to do something to lessen the emotional pain. Anyway, the view we have of the pub interior is from the front door. There is about a foot of pub space off to the right of the screen that we can't see. From this tiny amount of offscreen real estate steps a familiar individual. Well, his face is familiar anyway -- it's Kiros. Like Laguna, he's no longer wearing the Galbadian uniform. He's changed into something a lot more...well, gay. It looks to be some skintight number, but I can't see much more detail than that at the moment. That might not be a bad thing.

It soon becomes apparent from the scintillating dialogue that the two haven't seen each other since the cliff incident. And judging from what happened back then, I can only assume that Kiros has returned to seek revenge. Laguna doesn't seem to think so -- he tells Ellone that Kiros is his friend. Or "friend," if we're going by fandom and common sense.

The view changes to a side shot of the bar with Raine as the bartender and the ambiguously gay duo standing in front of her chatting. There are some very realistic bottles of liquor right in the front of the screen, and I think I now understand the true meaning of temptation. It's like presenting Squall with a naked Seifer after he's just finished watching several hours of porn. But without the penises and buttsex.

We find out that it's actually been only a year since the incident and not two years as I originally assumed. So that mention of two years was just totally random then? Stupid NPCs, not doing their jobs. "I was bed-ridden for over 6 months. It seemed like every bone in my body was in pieces," Laguna whines. We'll skip over the double meaning of bone for now and just be totally thrilled that Laguna recovered. Isn't that awesome? It would have been so sad if he died! Why, I wouldn't be recapping this touching reunion scene if that had happened! What a tragedy!

Raine makes sure to mention that she was responsible for Laguna's recovery. You can almost feel Kiros's hackles go up as he hisses his thanks for her nursing services. I'm not sure if he's pissed that she didn't let him die or if he's just being possessive of his girl-haired prettyboy. It could go either way, but since this is Final Fantasy VIII, I'm going to have to go with the latter. Kiros steps closer to Laguna seductively and mentions that he's been searching for Laguna since his own recovery. "Why?" Laguna wonders coyly, turning to face his exotic lover. "After leaving the army... Well, just killing time I guess," Kiros answers, also playing along with this little game. I was going to make a comment about how I wish it were "killing time," but then I realized that this scene actually got a whole lot more interesting. Even though Laguna makes me want to weep tears of irritation, I just can't resist a good old-fashioned bit of HoYay. "Life's pretty boring without you as entertainment, my man," Kiros winks. Raine gets out the video camera.

After some non-subtextual blahing, Kiros opens himself up for questioning. Like that. So I get a list of exciting conversational options. For some reason, they're all in parentheses like they're thoughts instead of dialogue. However, all but one are supposed to be actual dialogue. It confuses and saddens me when the game designers can't stick to their own rules. What am I supposed to believe in this confusing world?

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