Final Fantasy VIII ending theories and other final boss musings and stuff!
The world of disk 4 in Final Fantasy VIII always annoyed me a little. Because it's stupid. Really? Ultimecia lives in a flying gothic castle anchored to the former orphanage with an organ and dungeons and art gallery and clock tower and shit with magical portals leading to the world map where all towns are blocked off by magical white light? I think not!
Maybe it is all just figment of your imagination. Or Ultimecia's imagination.
On the nature of time compressionEdit
The way you manage to time travel in Final Fantasy VIII the first place is never really properly explained (devs didn't have a clue that's why), but this sort of leads one to make their own theories about it all. Here's the little we get from the actual game:
- Dr. Odine
- "Once Ultimecia iz in ze past, she'll use ze time compression magic. We will see some influence here."
- "I don't know vat kind of influence, but once Ellone feels it, she'll cut Rinoa and Ultimecia off from ze past."
- "Rinoa will come back to this world. Ultimecia also goes back to her own world."
- "Vat would be left is ze time compressed world."
- "Past, present, and future will all get mixed together."
- "You will keep moving through ze time compression toward ze future."
- "Once you're out of ze time compression, zat will be Ultimecia's world."
- "It's all up to you after zat."
You will keep moving through time compression toward the future. Once you're out of the time compression that will be Ultimecia's world.
- "Then, [head to the future through compressed time]!"
- "Ultimecia lives far in the future where none of us can technically exist."
- "There's only one way to make yourself exist in a world like that!"
- "As friends, don't forget one another! As friends, believe in one another!"
- "Believe in your friends' existence! And they'll also believe in yours."
- "To be friends, to like one another, and to love one another..."
- "You can't do these things alone. You need somebody."
- "Right, guys?"
- "What place reminds you of your friends?"
- "Imagine being in that place with all your friends."
- "Once time compression begins, think of that place and try to get there! That's all!"
- "That place will welcome you. You'll be able to get there no matter what period you're in!"
- "You need love and friendship for this mission! And the courage to believe it."
- "It's all about love, friendship, and courage!"
- "I'm counting on you guys!"
- "Love and friendship and all that sounds corny, but everyone seems to be up for it."
You said it Squall.
What place reminds you of your friends? Imagine being in that place with all your friends. Once the time compression begins, think of that place and try to get there. That place will welcome you and you'll be able to get there no matter what period you're in.
I suppose that is the reason decide to go to the orphanage of all the places. During the "trip to the future":
- "I'll...Probably disappear..."
- "Just stay by my side. I won't let you disappear!!!"
This bit I find very relevant.
Laguna says you can only exist in the future if you believe hard enough, and if all your friends also believe in your existence and you believe in their existence, then you can travel through time when the time is pulled together because of time compression (heh never noticed this is lowercase in game... something to fix for the wiki I guess). Why Rinoa thinks she will disappear is because she has hard time "believing", but Squall says he won't let her disappear; as long as Squall believes in Rinoa's existence she can't disappear altogether.
I have an idea what the disappearing means exactly...
Once you get out of the time compression you are in Ultimecia's world, but is this the future? I think it may be just an image given to you when you "believe" you are somewhere. You get to a regular-looking orphanage with the dead SeeDs but the bodies just fade away and the whole orphanage also fades away. Magical portals? Flying castle? Really? Well. Maybe. But it looks to me the world really doesn't have any other people than your party and Ultimecia, so I don't think "Ultimecia's world" is exactly the future, but maybe the combination of what you believe and what Ultimecia believes factor in making this landscape. After all, if believing affects your own existence, then isn't there a good chance it affects other things as well? This whole place may be a little bit outside of normal timeline. It would make sense as well, if Ultimecia wanted to reside in such a place, after all, that'd be the last place the SeeD would really find her, although Ultimecia should know she can't hide from her fate.
First you battle Ultimecia in her throne room, but then the room disappears when she draws Griever from Squall and there is just the sky. This could also go with the whole belief thing; it says in the Scan description that Griever is the most powerful GF in Squall's mind or something like that, so if Squall would believe he is seeing Griever that alone would give it a form in a place like this. Ultimecia takes control of it of course and pins it against the party. Then for the final showdown the sky even disappears and there is just nothing anymore but blackness, and Ultimecia's grotesque form that seems to lose her human features.
The big end bossEdit
It is always a little corny with these things...that a group of what are basically meant to represent the "ordinary human" are able to defeat god-like beings in universe-scale battles. This is a common trope, of course. The player must represent the ordinary human, or the player characters can't work as surrogate for the player; they would be difficult to identify with, and thus fail to make anyone emotionally involved with the plot (although one could argue this is already the case with Final Fantasy VIII). But then, really, you really shouldn't be able to win against Zeromus, against Neo Exdeath, against Kefka, against Sephiroth or Ultimecia. They should be able to wipe you away in a single move, not even trying very hard. Final bosses look flashy but are not usually all that difficult. They're meant to be able to be defeated with a normal playthrough of a game, even the first time when you missed the best equipment and didn't do the sidequests. So many of the final bosses just look big, but are really just a load of hot air.
I would criticise the current trend of multi-tier ending boss battle, the flashy one with big music, the one that decides the fate of the world. It's gotten pretty old. I think one day, someone will design a JRPG that will not have a big multi-tier boss battle at the end. The one guy who stands between the world destruction and eternal world peace, or so they like to display it. That is really kind of dumb the first place...it sets a kind of restriction on what kind of villain you can have. You must write your story around the kind of idea that there is this one bad guy who is the be all end all, and if you rid of him you "win". The game. Roll on the credits. You always face him at the same place too. Just when they are just about to reach their big goal, or when they have just acquired it on the peak of their power. And at this crucial point a band of ordinary humans shows up and shows...what the will to live looks like or whatever is the big theme this time.
In Final Fantasy VIII the fate theme kind of works. The "prophecy" goes that a legendary SeeD will defeat Ultimecia. That is the sole purpose Balamb Garden exists. That is the sole purpose behind everything that happens to Squall Leonhart. It is such a duhhhh theme maybe, but...why not. WHY NOT. But if Ultimecia was doomed to lose since the beginning, if you have already won before even putting the game disk in, then does that take away any meaning of the final showdown? If Squall and friends are fated to win, they cannot lose even if they tried, Ultimecia will fall at the height of her power no matter what you do, then what was the point of all the struggling, all the war and sad times, just to get to a place where your victory is...what, totally outside of your control and thus meaningless?
I don't think so. If you like to think about it a certain way...and I do like to think about a lot of stuff in many different ways...then doesn't the predestination theme run exactly parallel with the fact that this is a linear game? The game story is predestined of course, although none of the characters know they are just characters in a videogame. You can't lose in the storyline. You can get a Game Over, but that's not the actual end of the story. The player will win against Ultimecia, she is programmed to be winnable. She has no chance. No such outcome where Ultimecia will win has been programmed onto the game disk. You will be victorious.
Ultimecia seems to be the only one who knows it. The only one who knows she's a character in a video game. That she can't win. She was aware of her predestination since the beginning.
Maybe the point is the same it is for the player? The experience. So maybe you have the comfort of knowing that you will always save the world. Does it make Squall and friends less of heroes if they are predestined to win? Maybe the saving the world is the secondary storyline, maybe the learning experience, the "growing up" part of the storyline is the one is meant to be communicated via the game.
Don't let him disappearEdit
At the end, Ultimecia is defeated and the time compression spell is broken and the timeline begins to revert back to its original form. In order to survive our heroes must think of themselves in a place where they want to be, with the people they want to be with, and believe. And Squall finds himself in an empty wasteland that is shrinking around him. Rinoa runs around the flower field, during the day, during dusk, during nighttime, but she can't see Squall. She makes a feather out of a flower petal and it flies into the wind. Squall who has given up his journey sees a feather float toward him, and grabs it, and is transported behind Rinoa standing on a flower field. He calls out to her but it's as if she can't hear. Then she turns around and everything around Squall just dissolves into crazy images. He's disappearing. Like Rinoa was afraid of would happen to her, a little earlier. These are his "last thoughts" but they are a mess.
But. Of course. As long as Rinoa is thinking of Squall he cannot disappear completely. I'm not sure they ever really left the flower field either, although the view of the area from Squall's point of view is just grey nothingness. Rinoa sends a feather, it floats to Squall who grabs it, he is standing on the flower field, then the scene dissolves into a mess of warped scenes, then he disappears into white light. Then Rinoa walks from the mist and sees Squall lying on the ground. This doesn't look exactly like the wasteland island anymore either. There are no features to this place at all. Just grey mist. Then she hugs him and they are on the flower field, and she looks up, the wind is fluttering flower petals, she looks down on Squall and smiles and all the flower petals turn into white feathers. Happy ending.
But what if Rinoa had forgotten about Squall? What if he had been absorbed into time?
See, I made this up myself, so it doesn't have any founding in the game or anything, but...what if (what ifs are the best thing sometimes)...Squall would thus be erased from all timelines completely? Poof, and you're gone! The time would revert itself back to normal, but with him removed from the timeline, as if he'd never been born. It would have been someone else Edea met 12 years ago and heard of SeeD from, or came up with it by some other means, and it was someone else who graduated as SeeD and was sent to Timber and met Rinoa... Wouldn't that be fascinating! When the time would put itself back together basically it could be pieced together piece by piece. If a piece goes missing (Squall) it would just have to fill the gaps. I like the idea you have to kind of "forfeit your physical existence" to be able to travel in time. How else can you just materialise anywhere if you just try hard enough? Why else would be be so important to believe that you exist? Because most of the time you don't really have to think about that one so hard. We just keep on existing without really bothering a second thought to it, just...out of habit! Why else would Rinoa be afraid of disappearing?
And one more thing that I find of interest. I think this, again, draws a nice parallel to the idea that this is a game and none of the characters are real. Maybe this is all total far-fetched wanking, but then everything of this is to begin with, the reason anyone writes anything on their userpage, it's all just wanking. It is too! There is just no limit on the possibilities you can look at certain things. You experience something and sometimes the experience will stay inside of you in a form you can examine and turn around and observe. (How deep.)
The characters at the end of Final Fantasy VIII who have to believe in each others' existence to be real, is exactly the same thing that a player, playing Final Fantasy VIII, must "believe" in the characters' "existence" for them to be able to "exist". If nobody ever played Final Fantasy VIII, or any other game, the game doesn't really exist in the form it was intended, because it isn't the physical CD that is really the game. In order for it to really exist as a game someone will have to play it. Squall couldn't disappear anyway, because the player has played the game with him, as him. Even had he been absorbed into a fictional timeline in a fictional world.
When this little thought took proper form inside my little head, I wrote it down to my writing project. Dare I?? But since it has already been established...that you can really write anything here...it is all just wanking...after all. ;)
- Do you think characters in books know they’re just characters in a book?
- Who knows. What do you think they’d think?
- Wouldn’t they be scared, that soon the book will be ending, and they will disappear?
- Isn’t that true for all of us, anyone who doesn’t belong in an afterlife? Any moment you might just disappear.
- Well. They might get to live multiple times. So maybe they’re not so bothered.
- You think so? But wouldn’t it be always the same?
- The same?
- The same life, everytime?
- No, because that’s what you need the reader for. If a book didn’t even need a reader for the characters to live, then they’d live forever, and never disappear, stuck in an infinitely long singular moment, frozen in time, existing eternally.
- I suppose so. Never thought of it like that.
- Reader is what gives the characters a life, and that’s why it’s never the same every time, because every time you have a different reader.
- But what if the same reader reads the same story again?
- Then it’s still different, because you have different perspective on it. You already know the characters, but they may still surprise you in a way you didn’t expect. And knowing how the story will end might give some new meaning to events you never really thought about before, or you may find some new themes, and view it all-together differently.
- I suppose so. But for a character in a book, even if they can exist only once for a brief moment, maybe that’s enough? Maybe just the experience of having lived through someone’s reading is enough. Isn’t that a bit like life itself?
- But what if just having existed isn’t enough for you?