Recently I finished up Final Fantasy VIII for the first time, so I created a new feature “A Few Thoughts back” to talk about this and older things I have opinions on. FFVIII is a decent game, it has many problems, but overall I still find it an enjoyable experience.
To start, this games battle system is a step down from what VII had, it’s needlessly complicated if you don’t have certain magic types linked to certain attributes. You could get into serious trouble power wise and the game will become very difficult very quickly. The magic system using a “draw” mechanic in which you have a limited number of magic to use instead of a traditional MP bar. I get it was trying to be inventive and try new things so Final Fantasy as a series wouldn’t become stale, but I think these were poor ways to experiment. I believe it was around 20 hours into my 45ish hour playthough that I managed to get a firm grasp of how to use the battle system. While it did become like clockwork afterwards, 20 hours is far to long to understand the main portion of the game.
Another problem I have with the game is the love story the game is based around, it isn’t a good one, it feels rushed and forced. While other characters moments feel fun and interesting (for the most part), the two involved in this story (Well Squall) are dull and uninteresting. I would also doubt the two would actually fall for one another, as they are opposites but then you could argue that is why they did.
Major Spoilers from here on!
there were a few problems with the main plot too, the biggest offender being that ALL (par Rinoa) of the party grew up in an orphanage together and then all conveniently forgot about one another as they got older, EVEN THOUGH some of the party carried on living in the same vicinity, it just seemed like a needless point to tie everyone together. The main villain Ultimecia was poor and only has a few lines of dialog, she was a poor attempt at a “man behind the curtain” type villain. Also she speaks with Mortal Kombat K’s instead of C’s which was a little funny. The villain Edea for the first half of the game was the Matron of the orphanage, yet again needlessly tying everyone together.
Another big offender to the plot was the “dream” sequences with a character called Laguna, they were always sudden and unwelcome. And distracting to the main plot, although is did tie in. I feel not a lot would be lost if these scenes were cut or altered to be just pure cutscene.
As for the things I enjoyed. Most Boss Battles were fun and interesting, and the ability learned by one of the games summons to turn off random encounters was welcome.
The games presentation and CG is top-notch for 1998, especially the blending it does with gameplay at points.
The Side Quest’s were mostly fun and had a good reward at the end making it worth the time. I didn’t dabble in the Triple Triad card game, as it just seemed like a time killer/waster.
So, while it was a good game overall, the bad points do stick out more than other Final Fantasy games. But hey, it’s still a Final Fantasy game from the 90’s. So it’s still better than a lot of games today.
Well, till next time….