Read the earlier sections of my FF8 replay:
From Balamb to Timber
From Galbadia to the Assassination
From Prison to a Floating Garden
From Fisherman’s Horizon to the Battle of the Gardens
Rinoa is a Sorceress
For the first time ever, I tried to acquire all the GFs during this break before the finale, and I mostly succeeded! I leveled up on the Island Closest to Hell (Squall to 100, Rinoa and Quistis to upper 80s), then crashed through finding and acquiring Tonberry, Odin, Doomtrain, Bahamut, and Cactuar. The one that I didn’t manage to get (until drawing it from a boss in Ultimecia’s Castle) was Eden. I spent over an hour making my way through the descending levels of the Underwater Research Lab to fight Ultima Weapon. I drew Eden…and then died. It was so infuriating that I refused to try again.
- It had been awhile since I had interacted with the plot by the time I rammed into Lunatic Pandora, so I was SO HAPPY to see Raijin and Fujin, even though they were demanding that I hand over Rinoa.
- When Squall refuses to do so, Rinoa does a little happy dance in the back, and it is so cute.
- Biggs and Wedge are canonically gay (say I!) They quit their jobs and say, “Let’s go home and have a drink.” I love this for them.
- When we finally find Seifer, he’s holding Ellone hostage with the help of Raijin and Fujin. But his buddies have had enough! Their storyline is really fulfilling; watching them grow from mindless cronies to doubting his path to rejecting it. Fujin even speaks in full sentences for the first time, which opens up SO MANY questions about why she was screaming single words for most of her life.
“You’re being manipulated. You’ve lost yourself and your dream. You’re just eating out of someone’s hand. We want the old you back.”
- Seifer is the most teenager-y of everyone, insisting he’s a revolutionary. It’s sad to see him at this point as he desperately insists, “I don’t wanna stop. I’m gonna keep running!”
The boss fight with Seifer was incredibly confusing to me. Odin appeared, but Seifer cut the GF in half. This was alarming! But Odin’s sword flew into the sky and was caught by another being, who later appeared and said, “You gave me the fourth one. Dodge this,” and attacked Seifer. I looked this up later and found out it was Gilgamesh, apparently popping over from FFV. All of that is very cool, but SO RANDOM and mostly unexplained.
- After being defeated, Seifer leaps to his feet very strangely, and yells, “It’s not over yet, Squall!!!” Yes, with three exclamation points. The boy is dramatic. He kidnaps Rinoa, which causes me stress because all of my other characters are horrifically under-leveled.
- Seifer takes Rinoa to Adel, and this whole scene broke my heart. She insists this isn’t like him, and when he continues, she says, “Seifer. No more….please?” OUCH. They used to date!
- Seifer almost gives in to Rinoa’s plea, but Squall shows up, and Seifer can’t not perform for Squall. Adel takes Rinoa and…grafts her onto her torso?? It’s incredibly creepy looking.
- After defeating Adel, Laguna and Ellone appear. She magicks Rinoa back to her non-sorceress-controlled self, and at this point I just don’t understand the scope of Ellone’s powers at all.
“Time compression is about to begin. ‘Love, friendship and courage.’ Show em what you got!”
This whole series of scenes is done VERY well. The group falls through a sky of memory bubbles into an ocean into a sunset into a space tunnel. It is all very cool and vaguely creepy. They wind up in the Commencement Room where Rinoa once confronted Edea (remember the good old days when the plot made sense!?), and when you try to save your game, the Save Point multiples. This more than anything gave me the willies. There was something about a game mechanic being brought into the plot of the game and twisted that hit me hardest in the “ooo, this is all wrong!” feels.
The group is thrown into a series of fights against generic “Sorceresses.” The fight itself isn’t important. What is cool is that with each defeated sorceress, the scenery changes. We get to relive old locations in a nice sign off as we head into the finale.
At the end of the battle montage, the group winds up at the orphanage. It seemed very much like Rinoa was not with them, which makes sense because she was scared of being left behind, but she reappears in a later scene with no explanation. Okay.
I don’t know what’s going on. But since we’re still here, I think we still have some time to finish our job.”
- Full disclosure: I did not even attempt to figure out how to get through Ultimecia’s Castle on my own. I used a walkthrough; I hate wandering through places like this and having to backtrack a million times!
- Being so leveled up meant that most of the boss fights at the end were not a problem. Getting Squall’s best sword with the Lion Heart limit break was also a game changer – it’s SO powerful.
- The castle itself is really cool looking, and I can’t help wondering why Ultimecia went to so much trouble to design/take over such a cool space only to want to collapse all of time and space. You clearly have an appreciation for the finer things – go out and experience more of them!
- Ultimecia herself speaks with Ks instead of Cs, like, “Kurse all SeeDs!” Is it to imply a vaguely Russian accent?
It took me three times to defeat Ultimecia/Griever, and when it was done, time went wonky and Squall is thrown back into his past. It’s a nice moment to acknowledge his character arc, with Baby Squall thinking he’s alone and Adult Squall insisting he isn’t.
BUT it seems as though he IS alone, wandering through a space desert until he collapses on a space island. A feather appears, and it’s Rinoa! But he can’t hold on to her memory in one of the most genuinely emotional and distressing cut scenes of the whole game. Of course, Rinoa does end up finding Squall, and she cries over him while the song that her mom wrote about his dad is playing. This is kind of weird, but I chose to see it as a hopeful message about generational experiences.
Where did everyone end up?
Seifer is fishing, which is very weird! But he’s with Raijin and Fujin, and he’s still an asshole, so I guess it checks out.
Laguna visits Raine’s tombstone and flashes back to the moment when he gave her an engagement ring before revealing his own. It is HELLA romantic and sad. This game is the most romantic Final Fantasy game, prove me wrong!
Over the credits, we get a home video recording of Selphie filming Irvine and Quistis at a school dance/celebration. Cid is there with Edea, wearing her clothes from 15 years ago for some reason. Selphie takes Irvine’s hat in the cutest teenager move of the game. Zell is eating hot dogs like an absolute maniac, shoving them in this mouth to the point of choking…c’mon dude. Get a new gimmick!
Angelo runs by, and we see Rinoa on the balcony, pointing at the sky in the same pose as the dance where she first meets Squall. But he doesn’t seem to be here as the credits take over, and I literally yelled, “WHERE THE HELL IS SQUALL?” fearful of his having been lost to time. But no, this actually is a romantic game, and we get one last cut scene of Squall on the balcony with Rinoa as she once again points toward the sky.