Magic Junction, What’s Your Function?

Final Fantasy VIII – I started playing this recently, and I’m not entirely sure why, other than that it’s the only one of the first nine games in the series that I hadn’t played at all. I’ve played 3, 5, and 9 all to near the end, but haven’t finished any of them. It’s a bad habit for me with video games, but when there’s really only one thing left to do and it’s really hard, it’s no longer all that much fun. Still, I should probably try some of these again someday. 8 generally seems to be one of the less popular ones, but it’s not like I do random polling on these topics; I’m just basing this on a few things I’ve read over the years. And some people love it. I have the game on PC, and I’ve played up through what I believe would have been the end of the first disc on PlayStation. I bought it a while ago, so it’s not the remastered version. I feel like the first thing I should bring up is the Junction system, which is pretty non-intuitive. Every playable character has to be bonded to a Guardian Force, this game’s name for summoned monsters, in order to have any battle commands other than attacking with a weapon.

An ice elemental in a bikini? Now I’ve seen everything!
To use magic, you have to draw it, mostly from enemies but sometimes from various spots throughout the landscape. This can be advantageous when you draw a spell from a monster and cast it immediately, meaning you don’t have to use any of what you have stored up; but each enemy only has specific spells to take. It’s somewhat more like the FF1 magic system than what’s in other games, although more complex. You have to switch characters fairly often, and there’s a way to immediately exchange Guardian Forces and spells with another party member. It’s easier than having to move stuff around individually, but still kind of a hassle and sometimes easy to forget, at least for me. And I swear the characters are sometimes un-Junctioned for no apparent reason. Hopefully I’ll soon have enough GFs that I can give each playable character at least one throughout. I know there are a few I’ve missed. When fighting, you can have a stronger attack if you hit the trigger button at the right time, which is something I first came across in Super Mario RPG, although I don’t know if that was where it originated.

I haven’t explored much of the world yet, but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve read elsewhere, it’s a more modern setting than any of the previous games. I guess the series had been going in that direction anyway. 6 has an industrialized world, and 7 even more so. 9 regressed a bit in that respect, but even the ones with more medieval settings have some sort of more modern technology. The very first game has robots and a space station, attributed to a lost civilization. FF8 has guns, cars, television, and the Internet. But then, the cars look very old-fashioned by today’s standards.

And the main character’s weapon is a strange hybrid of sword and gun.

I think the main thing that makes the setting somewhat less appealing to me is that most of the characters belong to a military school that hires out mercenaries. While perhaps not a conscious decision, it does often seem like FF games, while obviously full of armed conflict, come off as somewhat opposed to military organization. Not all armed forces are necessarily bad, but the world is ultimately saved by groups of heroic misfits. Several significant characters either deserted the military or at least have come to not totally trust their leaders. And I don’t know exactly how this one is going to play out, but so far it seems a little more pro-military. And apparently the Headmaster of Balamb Garden, this game’s Cid, monitors people’s sexual activity. Okay, maybe not, but that’s kind of what this warning makes it sound like.

I guess monogamous sex is okay.

Our main protagonist this time is Squall Leonhart, who has another weather-related name like Cloud in the previous game. There’s also a character named Raine. I suspect Squall’s last name is a reference to Leon in FF2.

He’s a quiet, brooding guy who seems to be intentionally callous to others, yet for some reason people in the game tend to like him, and girls think he’s cute.

Quistis is a young instructor at Balamb Garden whom a lot of students crush on, but who is demoted early on in the game for some as-yet-unexplained reason.

She knows some blue magic, and being tall (well, not THAT tall, but taller than the other female characters) and wielding a whip gives her kind of a dominatrix vibe. That said, she’s also pretty insecure.

Zell is a loud, boisterous guy who fights with his fists. My favorite so far is Selphie, who’s cute, enthusiastic, a little clumsy, and obsessed with trains.

Based on her hairdo, I think she might also have visited Jenny Jump‘s Style Shop.

I don’t yet know too much about the sharpshooter Irvine, other than that he’s lonely and likes to hit on girls.

Rinoa is the only playable character so far who isn’t part of SeeD, instead being a member of a resistance group in Timber. She has a pet dog, Angelo, who helps out with her Limit Breaks. The exact history between all these characters hasn’t been entirely explained, but it’s obvious that there is some. They’re all around the same age, seventeen or eighteen. Most FF heroes (and RPG heroes in general, really) are young, but there’s often at least one party member who’s over thirty. Every time I look at the characters’ official ages, they tend to be way younger than I thought. Except maybe Cyan from FF6, who’s fifty but has a son who still seems to be a kid. All these kids won’t get off my lawn, probably because there’s a draw point there.

The game recently introduced the Sorceress Edea, who’s obviously creepy but has mind control powers that make people tend not to notice.

Who does she think she is, the Phantom of the Opera?
And Seifer, a Balamb Garden student, Squall’s former rival and Rinoa’s former love interest, has decided to be her knight.

I’m currently in the part where I have to break out of prison, which has far too few save points.

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1 Response to Magic Junction, What’s Your Function?

  1. Pingback: Curse You, Programming! | VoVatia

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