Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Final Fantasy VIII: SeeD Rank

Final Fantasy VIII has a subsystem in the game that tracks how highly ranked you are in the mercenary group SeeD. I knew from previous plays that you made money over time based on how high your rank was, that there is a max rank, and that the best way to rank up is by taking little true/false quizzes. I also knew that the number of quizzes you could take is based on Squall's maximum level and therefore that my SeeD rank would likely be pretty low in a game where I never level. Is this going to cause problems? If so I could probably address the issue by maxing out my initial rank by doing well on the first couple missions. Is that worth worrying about?

The short answer was no. It isn't going to cause problems, and it really wasn't worth worrying about. Of course since I'd looked into it and figured out how to score highly I did the best I could (how could I not try to make a number get bigger) but it didn't really help out in any relevant way. All your SeeD rank does is gets you more money on each pay-day. And since there are other ways to make money, and since you could just run in circles to proc more paydays, it's really not a game breaker to make less money each pay-day.

One interesting thing I discovered was that you can actually kill the 'unbeatable' monster (X-ATM092) during the invasion of Dollet. Normally you beat it up a bit, it falls down, and you run away. You have a time limit so running away is how you survive the mission. But it turns out if you stand around it'll heal to full, and you can beat it up again. Do this enough times and eventually it stops getting up! Killing it is worth an extra SeeD rank, a ton of AP, and a powerful item. I actually gave this a shot and managed to kill it. Woo! Unfortunately it turns out that you don't get random encounters in Dollet while running from X-ATM092 but once you kill it they come back. And those random encounters are with humans (immune to the card ability) that are worth experience, and where you can't run from the fights. On your way into Dollet you have Seifer in your party and he can earn all that experience for you (after killing Squall and Zell off, which I'm sure thrilled Seifer to no end) but on the way out you have to eat that experience. I'm playing without leveling, which meant this was unacceptable, so I had to restart and go again without killing him.

It also turns out you can avoid a lot of the fights with X-ATM092. You can dodge him on one screen. If you use the walk button to move slowly you avoid him on another. A third time you can trick him into jumping over you to avoid a fight. And apparently there's a cafe you can hide in and he'll just run on by! I've got to say, I really like that all those things exist even if I never figured them out myself.

One final point on this topic... I think the idea of the SeeD quizzes is pure genius. What better way is there to teach the player about quirks in the game system. Just having NPCs talk about stuff (like how only physical damage will break sleep) is boring. But tieing that information into a system where the player gets to both make a number go up and earn more money over time by doing it is just awesome. And if you don't want to do it for some reason, you aren't harshly punished for it. Win-win!

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