Final Fantasy VIII will always remind me of living in the dormitories back at college with my charismatically grumpy roommate ‘Willy’ ( Name changed to protect his true identity ). I owned a TV and a Playstation memory card. Willy owned a Playstation and a copy of the game. We were both playing the game at the same time, but I managed to put slightly more time into the game and was always a few steps ahead of where he was, much to his chagrin. When I beat the game we had the volume cranked up as high as it would go on my 20″ CRT TV, which managed to earn us a visit from the RA’s. Lucky for us they seemed more amused to find two big burly guys listening to a sappy love song together at full blast than they were concerned about any noise violations.
Willy gave up playing the game after I beat it. It was fairly anti-climactic after that point. The game itself is fun to play, but the story is awful. I think Willy’s friend said it best – It’s like the game designers only created 15 years of history for the world and then built the story around that. There is no depth to the world whatsoever. The plot consists of an unlikely series of coincidences, random occurrences and unbelievable events (but even more so than every other Final Fantasy).
It’s not just the plot that sucks. All of the characters are total losers. The main character Squall (who my kids recognized as Leon from Kingdom Hearts) is completely unlovable EMO a-hole. The other five characters were similarly terrible. Willy especially hated the Selphie character. He was particularly offended that she was trying to make the word ‘booyaka’ happen.
I started replaying the game over a year ago, well before Bravely Default came out. I hadn’t played a classic style RPG in awhile and while the story in FF8 is a lame duck, the mechanics of the game play are quite enjoyable. It has a lot of content to get through, but I made a good pace through the end of disc 3 (of 4) and then I took a 14 month hiatus from playing so I could avoid the side-quests. There are several side-quests that must be completed prior to moving on to the disc, and such is the nature of my OCD that I felt compelled to complete them all. Unfortunately one of those quests is collecting every card in the ‘Triple Triad’ collection, which is a mini game that can be played with many of the NPC’s in Final Fantasy VIII.
The rules for Triple Triad start well enough, but each region you visit has it’s own set of rules. Horrifyingly, some of these rules make the game nearly impossible to win and completely impossible to enjoy. To add a little extra insult, some of your card playing opponents play extra slowly, just to make sure you feel the burn. Worst of all, the rules can be spread between regions ensuring you’ll be banging your head on the wall for hours.
I remember thinking the graphics were amazing at the time, and they still look pretty good, for a 15 year old game. I’m not sure I’d feel the same if they were blown up to the size of a 50″ TV, but I was playing on a Vita and I found the graphics to have held up quite well. Some of the animated cut-scenes leave a completely different impression than they did years ago. The much hyped ballroom dance scene now seems completely unremarkable.
So, the game is still fun, but the story is still crap. I was in the mood for a RPG, and this pretty much fit the bill.
- Fun RPG game mechanics.
- Lots of content.
- Story is so, so bad.
- Irritating, unlikable characters.