At this point, realized we had picked up a copy of Weapons Monthly during our first trip to Trabia, and checked it out only to learn it had some of the best weapons in the game for Selphie and Zell, and second-best for Zell and Quistis. This gave me fears that the two of them would drop dead soon (similar to how Aeris got her best weapon before she died), which Kyle refused to confirm or deny! Thanks to refinement, the Mug ability we had picked up somewhere (which replaces your regular attack), and luck, we also had many of the ingredients we’d need to make the weapons, but Kyle soon confirmed that none of them were immediately within reach.
At this point, we headed to a chocobo forest nearby, that Kyle happened to remember. Unfortunately, this meant a second minigame that I barely understood, partially because the puzzle used in this particular chocobo forest was a little cheap. To catch a chocobo, you have to either pay a grifter kid named “Chocoboy” some big bucks, or solve a puzzle at each chocobo forest, which also involved paying Chocoboy big bucks. The objective is to use a radar and a whistle to get exactly one hidden “chicobo” (a chocobo chick) to appear in the area, no more and no less, at which point it will call for its mother and you can ride her. If you make more than one appear, you can get them to leave in a similar fashion, but be careful blowing that whistle willy-nilly, because if you blow in an invalid spot, you lose the whistle to a chicobo (sometimes this seems to happen even if you stand still in a so-called valid spot!). You have to rebuy it for 700 gil, too! The game’s not even polite enough to just hand you one, you have to do a walk of shame over to Chocoboy first. You can lose your whistle really easily, so all these extra steps are a mark against the minigame. The ideal revision would be to have the chicobo fly in to steal your money, and then to kick you out if you go broke.
Xu called Squall up first thing in the morning to explain his new responsibilities as head of the Garden. Hope you weren’t excited for a military-plus-business sim minigame, because as far as the player is concerned, all this means you gain control of the Garden’s movements on the overworld. The Garden’s pretty capable as a vehicle. I personally expected it to be a mere boat, but it can actually travel on land, which must be horrifying for the locals. It’s still rather slow, and I would happily take better, but it’s not quite as slow as the ships in FFVII. Overworld’s still hideous, though.
The game was willing to let you move freely about the overworld, but it did give you a lead: to return to Balamb and see what happened after the bombing. Also, Quistis asked you to leave Selphie behind. Like hell I will, she’s the lowest level member of the party and needs the EXP! But I had no choice, as it seems Selphie she was still in the dumps. Is it because we walked out on her party that she worked so hard on? HEY SELPHIE, ARE YOU UPSET BECAUSE WE WALKED OUT ON—
Weirdly, talking to Cid didn’t progress the plot on its own! We had to aimlessly wander back to the middle of the school for Xu to show up and speak to us, instead. She told us to the observation deck, as a ship was approaching, and god knows who’s on board! Since this was an urgent situation, we went to play cards, and this time we did win the Fujin and Raijin card (from someone other than the person who first had it, as it happened)!
As for the approaching ship, the people on board appeared to be dressed like the people we had seen rescue the strange woman during the insurrection in the Garden, though they claimed to be SeeDs working for Sorceress Edea. Naturally this only confused and conflicted the party. These supposed SeeDs demanded to speak to the headmaster, and told him they had come for Ellone. Stranger still, Cid seemed to think that Squall would know Ellone somehow, and told him that she could be found somewhere in the school. We ultimately found her in the library, and as I had guessed, she was the mysterious woman who had shown up at the start of the game, etc (because who else would it be at this point?).
This post is here to serve as an announcement that, during January 2019, I will be shutting down the comments sections for the Kingdom Hearts Retrospective. Don’t worry, all the old comments will stay up, but you won’t be able to make any new ones. The idea is to have them closed before the release of Kingdom Hearts 3. Since I have to do each page manually, it may take a while, so I’m not setting any exact date, but it will be done before the release date on the 29th.
This is first and foremost an anti-spoiler measure, but I don’t intend to reverse it, since it’s also my way of signalling that I don’t intend to keep polishing up my commentary – in the post or in the comments – every time Nomura does something that expands on said commentary. Once KH3 is out, the Retrospective will be out of date (even more than it already is), and this is my way of acknowledging that. I’ll probably put a boilerplate to that effect in the intro post, too.
One of the luxuries of the Journals over the Retrospectives is that the Journals were never intended to be all-inclusive. A playthrough of FFIV on the Complete Collection was simply that, and the fact that I’ve played FFIV on PC since then doesn’t necessitate an update to the entire Journal. If I ever get back to doing Retrospectives, I should probably make sure it’s for series that are long dead, but no promises, not even to myself. If I break that promise, you can bet that one day, I’ll have to close their comment sections too.
We return to FFVIII on the other side of the world, where Sonic the Leonhart has crossed country so fast that, judging by my math, he must have arrived almost an hour ahead of when he started. Arriving in the garden, he finds that the men wearing kasa have suddenly staged an open coup against Headmaster Cid, and had recruited what seemed to be most of the students, all of whom wanted Cid dead or alive! Whoa, uh… well geeze! I knew things were suspicious but I didn’t think they were this bad! Points for the twist! The men in kasa said they were working for “Garden Master NORG.” I was in control during this section, and initially lied about being one of NORG’s followers in hopes of getting more information, but none came, and I soon cast aside any pretence of mixed loyalties and stealth once I came across students under attack by the NORGites. As I said previously, I don’t have any emotional attachment to the Garden or to Cid, but the NORGites were openly evil, like caricature evil, so it didn’t take long to pick a side. Honest to god, one decision in this section you deciding whether or not to defend two actual children from being eaten by a T-Rexaur.
You also meet Squall’s mystery woman from the start of the game again during this sequence, but nothing happens with her quite yet. Each group of students you rescue earns you an item, though some of them were less valuable than others. Probably the most surprising was in the cafeteria, where someone gives you some Gysahl Greens. Uh… friend, I don’t even have a Chocobo, and so this item literally cannot be used? “Squall, we’re counting on you to save the Garden. Have a carrot.”
So, during my most recent FFVIII post, I was discussing my least favourite dungeon in the entire Final Fantasy Marathon, D-District Prison. For point of reference, I also threw some shade on my previous least-favourite dungeon, the Ronka Ruins from FFV. But as I added in an edit after the fact, I actually replayed FFV not long after FFVIII, and realized I didn’t dislike the Ronka Ruins as much as I remembered. If you want to see my comments on those two dungeons, check out that post. In this post, I’m going to follow up those thoughts by trying to work out my new #2 least-favourite dungeon!
Now, some quick standards. Because not every FF game has “dungeons,” we’re going to be weighing whatever each game considers to be a distinct “unit of play.” That means dungeons in the traditional RPGs, any chapter/stage in the stage-based games, and any battle or fixed series of battles in FFT (spoiler: there are no FFT battles on this list, not even the duel with Wiegraf. But I thought it would be nice to have that rule in case we revisit this list after playing FFTA!). Also, this is only for games we’ve covered in the Final Fantasy Marathon at the time of writing (in the middle of FFVIII), and for Final Fantasy alone. If I had allowed Persona 1 dungeons, there’d be nothing else on the fucking list, so I am happy to dismiss it. No TV episodes or films either, both because they’re so different and because, like Persona 1, LotC and FFU would just dominate the list. With that out of the way, let’s take the the dungeons in Marathon order.
So: the worst dungeon to date. Because I never really qualified this sort of thing in the past, the previous record holder was arguably the Ronka Ruins from FFV, as I implied during the FFVII Journal of all places. I don’t consider the air battle before the Ronka Ruins as being a part of the dungeon itself, for the record. Once you’re actually in the ruins, the dungeon itself were a huge, messy maze, little more than an traditional paper maze, with no attempt made to make it resemble a real location and what appears to be active effort to make it more challenging and frustrating. Mazes are everything I despise about dungeon design, and so the Ronka Ruins was once my #1 and still holds my #2 shit-spot.
(Ed. I actually replayed FFV after clearing FFVIII, and found I didn’t mind the Ronka Ruins all that much after all! Still, I’m going to leave my original comments as they stand. I then decided to put some thought into my new #2, and wrote a whole post about my Bottom 5 FF Dungeons so far! Go check it out!)