Final Fantasy VIII – Meh

Three times. I tried playing this game three times, with my best attempt ending with getting to the third disc. Maybe with a fourth try I’ll complete it, but I digress. FFVIII continues many of the new stylistic threads established by Final Fantasy VII, while radically changing many other elements. It’s many of these changes to the gameplay that turned me off. That and the overly emotional characters. And the story. And the gunblade. I think that’s it.

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FFVIII is the first in the series to feature human looking characters. They were proportion, with no deformation, though they looked to be comprised by 90% legs. The main character, Squall, is prototype whiny emo. He’s a member of some soldier training school named SeeD (not a typo). He’s quiet and emotionally distant. This can be an interesting trait in a character, but here it’s annoying. I was unable to connect with him at all. Cloud, the protagonist from FFVII, is of a similar archetype. While Cloud can be endearing, and has some redeemable qualities, with Squall they completely over did it. Squall feels like Cloud, stretched to normal height, then cranked up to about 15 on a 10 point scale.

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RPG’s are comprised of three components; character, story, and gameplay. Beyond Squall, the only character I enjoyed was Zell, even with his passion for hot dogs. Why is favorite food a vital state for Japanese characters? Quistis was alright, but Selphie was the typical high pitched over the top Japanese girl. Rinoa was Tifa part 2, and I don’t remember Irvine at all. I’ll guess by his design that he’s a tool.

That’s one category down. What about the story? Again, I only finished half of it, but with the characters so unlikable, it made it difficult to enjoy or follow. Squall’s emotional apprehensions is a major detractor, as it influences many plot points. Beyond the warring countries and rebel forces (FFVII…), FFVIII is billed as a love story.  Squall falls in love with Rinoa but is all overly emotional about it. This is another troupe that should be carefully balanced, but instead is completely overdone. Having never finished the game so I can’t speak to the later half. I quit around when I learned everyone had amnesia.

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Two strikes. Lastly is the gameplay. RPG’s are expected to have some sort of inventive battle system, and leveling up mechanic. These are typically the basics, with some games branching into item scavenging/creation. Final Fantasy has always focused on the former two, with each iteration having a new mechanic. The leveling device here is fine; every 1000 points the character gains a level with most enemies moving up the scale with the player as well. That works well enough. It’s the battle system that ruins it for me. Completely doing away with magic points, characters must find and draw spells from enemies. Enemy casts Ice 2? Draw on him and your character will get a few uses of that spell. What I don’t like about this is the constant need to hunt down spells you want. This is a very linear game. Constantly stopping to hunt down the spell you need, and in the quantity you desire, is needless complicated. And the entire Guardian Force thing is garbage too. It tries to mash the Esper idea from FFVI and Materia from FFVII, and just makes a mess.

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Finally, the gunblade. Seriously? How would that mechanically work? How could the bullet not damage the blade? How could something so heavy be aimed properly? How was it held? The handle was curved, like a revolver. How? Bah.

I really enjoyed Triple Triad though. The card based minigame was a lot of fun. On my first play through I played it for 10 hours, not leaving the first area. I was a little obsessed.

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As a card game simulator I rate Final Fantasy VIII a 10/10. As a RPG it’s not really worth the time. With so many other AAA games worth playing, I doubt I’ll ever return to this.

Did you slog through FFVIII? Did you like it? Comment below!

Might go back and play more Triad though. 

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9 responses to “Final Fantasy VIII – Meh

  1. Pingback: Final Fantasy IX – Unremarkable | The Credible Hulk·

  2. I’ve encountered a bunch of gamers through the years who had your exact same complaints (and oddly enough, they always praise Triple Triad).

    Personally, I never saw Squall as an emo character–by labeling him as such, people often ignore his early-life abandonment, which triggers his quiet personality and anti-social attitudes. I’m a huge fan of Squall’s character arc, as he evolves from a guy who shuts down Quistis and everyone around him into someone who literally goes to the moon and back to save Rinoa. And it’s not just about Rinoa; there are some great scenes along the way where he sheds his closed-in nature (my favorite happens to be when he saves Zell from the prison guards on Disc 2).

    I loved the storyline, thought there were some great scenes, particularly the train disassembly mission, the sorceress assassination plot, and the space scenes between Squall and Rinoa. I agree with you on the orphanage coincidence being cheesy, but aside from that everything rocked.

    Selphie was the only grating, annoying character. I wish Quistis and Irvine got a little more face time. Squall, Zell, and Rinoa made the story all the more phenomenal (hey, my opinion vs. yours), and the Laguna segments entwined with everything nicely. I see FF8 as a story of redemption, maturity, and hope. The love story between Squall and Rinoa contributes to those concepts, and the Laguna-Squall connection layers it off (it would make more sense if you finished the game btw).

    As for the battle system, I’ll admit it’s dated. I found Drawing and Junctioning less tedious than you did, but the GFs take forever to summon, the core combat is basic. That being said it’s roughly the same as the other PS1 FFs (aside from Tactics, whose battle system is on a whole nother echelon). If you want a stellar battle system, FF simply isn’t the place to look.

    • The last time I tried to play through the game was at least 10 years ago. I know my tastes have changed since then. I have it downloaded on my PS3, I’ll give it another go, one day. Looking at the story from a different perspective might change things.

      I still think the battle system is cumbersome. I hate running out of some magic I need and having to hunt it down.

      As for the order I played the FF games, I started with FFVI on SNES. That was my first RPG, ever. From there I pretty much played them in order of release. I played FFV when it released in the Anthology collection, same thing with FFI and FFII in Origins. I didn’t play FFIV until it was on DS, same thing with FFIII (though no one really had though). Didn’t bother with FFXI or FFXIV, I don’t care of MMO’s, too time consuming. I outright skipped FFXIII. I’m skeptical of FFXV.

      • If I were you, I’d stock up on magic early the next time you play FF8. Just draw a hundred of everything early on… Fire, Cure, etc. It can be tedious, but once you’re stocked, you can just plow onward (plus when you junction the magic your stats will jump).

        And my first FF was 7. I beat half of it, then played 8, 6 (Anthology version.. yuck), 10, finished 7, Tactics, X-2, 9, 1, 4 (Chronicles), 2, 5 (Anthology), 6 (SNES emulator), 12, 13. So I was all over the place until recently. Never got around to FF3, and never finished FF5 because Anthology’s lagging is unbearable.

        I’m with you on the MMOs, but I’m crossing my fingers for 15.

      • I’ll keep in mind to stock up when I start the game again.

        Ya, Anthology was pretty bad. I never finished FFIII, it was pretty slow and bland. I wouldn’t go out of my way. Why did you not care of FFVI?

        Did you play FFXIII-2?

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