At this point, Edea actually joins the party as a guest! Thanks to Rinoa being unconscious during all our unwanted grinding, but still counting towards the party average, Edea ended up level-averaged to be in the low 20s. What with her being a guest, it seemed like it would be a waste of EXP to bring her in the active party, but I decided to take her when Kyle said we’d be able to use the Limit Break she used to take out Squall at the end of Disc 1. Thankfully, you only have a short dungeon to play with her / waste EXP on her (assuming you don’t go wandering off in the other direction, I don’t know if that’s possible), so it’s not much harm.
You have to walk back to Rinoa manually, the first of two times during this play session that the game expects you to check on Rinoa without actually prompting you to do so? This first one at least leads off from a scene where Squall was thinking about Rinoa, so I can sort of understand in hindsight, but the second is “very 1986,” if you follow me. But I’m getting ahead of myself. While visiting Rinoa, Squall collapses into a Laguna flashback.
When we regained control in Disc 3, Squall had been up and about for hours or days and the game wasn’t going to give us any explanation for the missing time. FFVIII, do you… have to do this bullshit? We shouldn’t have to learn things that Squall learned during our play period a second time, second-hand. It feels like flourish for no purpose, if you follow me.
We did some walking around. Rinoa is still unconscious, but Quistis calls Squall to go to Matron’s House, the old orphanage, where apparently Edea is walking around freed, for reasons the game refuses to explain until you get there! Since Kyle and I were already annoyed at the game for trapping us with the plot in the middle of our Chocobo Forest hunt, we just went back to our sidequesting and said nuts to Edea.
Session 4 was something of a recording fiasco. First off, we got together one day to do some things in the real world, but played just over an hour of FFVIII while we were together. Let’s call that “Session 4a.” Session 4a had no recording at all, because it just plain refused to work. The next time we got together for a full session (Session 4 proper), our capture program kept ignoring our hotkey to start recording. I can’t say why, but that was only the start of our hotkey-related problems: it turns out that we had inadvertently bound our recording hotkey to the same hotkey used by FFVIII for soft resets (Ctrl+R), and ended up soft resetting twice this session. You might be wondering how it took us four sessions to notice this was the case! It turns out FFVIII will only soft-reset if you hold Ctrl+R, albeit for only a second, and we just hadn’t done that by accident until today. What a mess!
Ultimately, despite around twelve hours of play in Session 4, only three were recorded! This made it pretty important for me to do the write-up as soon as possible after our play-session so that I wouldn’t forget the details of the missing 9 hours! Thankfully, we spent most of the day on some truly, truly repetitive sidequests, some that I’m not sure I’d never dare repeat if I ever play FFVIII again. In terms of the main story, Session 4 covers the Battle of the Gardens and some of the subsequent events, including the Laguna flashback that happens not long after the Battle.
(Ed. We’ve since come up with better recording practices, so don’t worry about sending in advice, but it took a few sessions yet, so this won’t be the end of our recording problems in this Journal!)