Rinoa is good for Squall, getting him out of his head and going for a walk around Garden. He’s good for her too, with his tendency to think things through rather than act impulsively. Video game romances rarely read as relatable to me, but Squall and Rinoa totally do! I love them.
- The mayor of Fisherman’s Horizon lives in the middle of a giant solar panel? …Okay. If that weren’t bad enough, he’s made out to look ridiculous for wanting to talk to the Galbadian soldiers who have appeared looking for Ellone. Squall gives him a bit of credit, saying it would be great if fighting weren’t necessary, but this is a game about mercenary children. It was never going to be pacifist.
- Zell, Selphie, and Irvine pop out of the machine that was just trying to kill Squall, Rinoa, and Quistis (from my group alignment, anyway), which is strange! Were they pranking us?? Why does no one ask why they attacked?
- Squall is internally happy to see them, and Rinoa calls him on it. It is great!
Squall is then named leader of the mobile sorceress-hunting Garden without his consent. A student was given control over a war school over all of the teachers. There is a lot happening right now that requires significant suspension of disbelief! However, I’ll give it a pass, because being thrust into leadership triggers all of Squall’s fears. He doesn’t want to be responsible for everyone in case he cannot protect them. He’s just a big squishy marshmallow, and I adore this game for revealing that their taciturn loner is not actually cool – he’s just scared.
- The amateur band performance is such a fun mini-game.
- Lesbian Irvine (this is now canon in my mind) is very invested in setting up Squall and Rinoa, and it’s so cute! Something else that is cute is Rinoa telling Squall that his friends know he’s going to take on this responsibility by himself, but that he has to remember that they are here with him.
- It’s a new era with a mobile Garden that allows playing in a bigger world map! Xu suggests they check out Balamb, where the Galbadia Garden is…also floating. Copy cats.
- Finding “the captain” is such a runaround, and I spent way too much time figuring it out. Thank goodness it turns out to be Raijin (with general Fujin)! We have to fight them again, and they are hard! Squall further reveals his inner softie by letting them go when they say they’re going to stay with Seifer because he’s their friend.
- Selphie then brings up a storyline that feels ages ago…remember those other bombs that Galbadia set off? The ones that hit Trabia Garden? She wants to go there.
- Many of the students are still alive, trying to restart their lives in the crater of a school that’s left. The trauma is understated, but hit me hardest when I found the graveyard, and one of the tombstones had a jacket draped over it.
- When Rinoa says she wishes there were a way to end this without bloodshed, Squall goes deep into inner monologue. She continues to win my heart by telling him, “If you don’t voice your feelings, I can’t understand.”
Orphanage reveal! When I was a kid playing this game, I thought this reveal was SO COOL. They all grew up together! But forgot because their connection to Guardian Forces eats away at their memories! Whoa!
As an adult, I cannot help fixating on how weird this is. Why would Irvine not say something before this, even accidentally? Quistis says her love for Squall was about being his big sister, which….okay. When they realize the GFs are affecting their minds, they SUPER QUICKLY agree to keep it up. Guys! You might someday forget this very conversation! This is not sustainable! And Sorceress Edea is Matron, aka their mom, but they’re soldiers so they’ll still kill her. (This revelation makes Irvine’s inability to shoot her in Galbadia make so much more sense!)
- Also on the Northern continent, this little village is super cool. I love the weirdness of going down an elevator to a lush forest landscape with advanced technology.
- There is a draw point that costs 5,000 Gil to use, but it’s Ultima so okay!
- There is a statue of Laguna, and we learn that moombas (aka fire dogs) are the final form of Shumis, which is just so weird and delightful.
- Continuing the weird theme is the scavenger hunt for stones that winds up in a prize of…seeing the elders hands! Wah wah.
- It’s too easy to just find the orphanage and get some answers…instead we have to fight Galbadia, flying garden against flying garden! It actually is super cool, with some great cutscenes of flying ramp motorcycles and attacking soldiers as Seifer watches with a grin.
- Zell decides the middle of a battle is the right time to ask for Squall’s ring, and then everyone is SO WEIRD about Squall prioritizing the safety of an entire school over Rinoa. “You’re the one that has to save her.” Um, why!? He’s kinda busy, and it’s his literal job to take care of everyone; a role that you guys all JUST SAID you would help him accomplish.
- I just realized that Squall has a cropped leather jacket.
- Squall DOES rescue Rinoa, though, and the mini-game of punching a soldier while floating over a battlefield was pretty cool! They then flirt over lions, and this relationship is heating up, omg omg! Squall says it’s so obvious that everyone wants them together that even he noticed.
- We have to run, run, run all over the garden to get keys that lead us to our final Raijin and Fujin interaction. They’re done with Seifer and all the chaos he has caused.
- Seifer continues to be very gay (no wonder I shipped Squall/Seifer as a wee one) and demands that Squall kneel before him.
The final battle with Sorceress Edea is pretty easy, but that’s because it isn’t the final showdown like everyone thought! Instead, she regains her sanity and Rinoa gets woozy. She heals Seifer before passing out, which is very alarming! Edea asks if she succeeded in saving Ellone, which is very strange! Everything is topsy turvy, and unfortunately, it seems like “sorceress” is a possessing spirit who is now in Rinoa. Dun dun dun!!