Final Fantasy VIII

 · 7 mins read

Final Fantasy VIII review

Final Fantasy 8 (aka FF8) is a game developed by Squaresoft for PS1 in 1999, following the hit of FF7. There was an international version that included an optional boss. It was also released for PC (Windows) in 2000 and many years later it has been released again for Steam. Final Fantasy VIII remaster is going to be released in 2019.

The reason I’m reviewing this game is that still there are many players that don’t understand some of the game mechanics. I’ll try to review it for them but also introduce the videogame without spoiling it for those who still didn’t played it.

Final Fantasy VIII


Strong points

FF8 was a great step up in the technical side after the release of FF7 but that’s not the only point to consider:

  • Innovative combat mechanics. The Guardian Force (GF) mechanic is probably the most innovative of all FF games because here they just reversed some JRPG key mechanics. In this game, you should not level up, but instead you teach skills to your summons and link magic to raise attributes. Weapons also are not too relevant. If you’re interested, please read the mini guide.
  • Nice fantasy story.
    • Main plot is mostly composed of two interlaced plots: Seed garden and the the True story:
      • The former casually starts with Squall graduation and missions as Seed.
      • True story adds a villain and twists here and there. It’s slowly introduced from beginning, by adding some intriguing hints (remember that girl in white?). It’s deeply linked with the Squall romance.
      • In fact, we could add a third plot that is shown in parallel to main story: Laguna’s story, which is also really cool. You could just play this game because of Laguna. He deserved the spin-off FF8 never got.
    • The garden and students plot is greatly executed and it makes the player to feel it’s into something bigger.
    • There are also many small subplots: Squall vs Seifer, Timber resistance, Zell and the pigtail student, Selphie’s band and many more. Some of them are spinoffs of the main plot that serve to slightly develop characters. Other are actual sidequests to earn prizes. But overall they add some liveliness to Balamb and other places.
  • Triple Triad, a card minigame. I think it’s fun and far better than FF9’s Tetra Master. The main complain with it was the rule propagation, which was affected by random number generation (read more about RNG here).
  • The game dialogues and actions in the beginning has actual effect: effects your evaluation as Seed.
  • There are some collectible magazines, needed to unlock stuff.
  • Your typical JRPG semi-open world with an overworld map.
  • There is no backtracking. Of course, you can revisit some places to do optional stuff. But there is no crazy time-consuming backtracking as you need to do in FF7 (for full Fort Condor) or FF10 (for Blitzball).
  • There are few lost-forevers (items that can only get one time). All cards and GFs can be got on the very end of game. Most stuff can get by refining or in pocket-station. You must be only be careful with few magazines.
  • Awesome FMVs, it looks great. Ingame prerendered scenarios and models are nice too.
  • As usual on Final Fantasy games, it’s got an awesome OST. This time, the game features some cool warfare themes and a great happy theme: the Balamb Garden.

Final Fantasy VIII


Flaws

FF8 has an amazing gameplay but story development render mixed feelings on fans:

  • The game story starts strong with a very interesting Seeds plot. During disk one end, the game starts to switch to the true plot, which feels a bit weak on the end. The reason is this is a typical Japanese story telling, confusing and open to interpretation, like in some popular anime or manga. Interesting but it loses narrative strength.
  • Some continents (Esthar and Centra) feel a bit empty. They could add few scenarios there, to explain few things about the story, before ending the game. Sadly, they didn’t take care of that during the remaster.
  • Game relies too much on random number generation for important stuff. It’s usually better to rely on “player skill” or intelligence, better than randomness. To name a few, this affects to:
    • Card rule propagation: luckily, you can use RNG to you favor, but still it’s troublesome until you understand the mechanics.
    • Selphie limit: you have to skip spells until, randomly, appears what you look for.
    • To carding enemies: unless you reduce enemy health to 1/4th or less, it’s likely is going to fail few times. It’s not so bad, but it can annoy a little bit.
    • The prison card game prizes are random too.
  • Chocobo forest puzzle is, IMO, meh.

Final Fantasy VIII


Why to play?

Because it’s one of the best JPRGs ever done and there is a remaster about to launch in 2019. Gameplay is unique and fun. There are some scenes (one on disc 1, other on disc 2 end) were there’s some cool warfare action, like COD but on a JRPG. Believe me it’s totally worth it. And Triple Triad… it’s great.

Final Fantasy VIII


Media

This is the official trailer for FF8 remastered:

And this is the Intro video for the FF8 Steam release (which is not truly remastered, just a renewed port):


How to acquire

You can acquire the remaster for PS4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch and PC (Steam) soon in 2019.

The original game is available in second hand for PC and PS1, and afaik, in PS Store for PS3. Original game (with slight modifications) is also available in Steam.

Final Fantasy VIII


Version / Platform

The reviewed game is the Steam version, but I also played old PC and PS1 versions which are almost equal games (there are only small differences in graphics and sound).

Final Fantasy VIII


Future

The future is here! We’re going to get a remaster for FF8. And, probably depending on sales and reception, it’d be not impossible to have also a full remake for next gen (PS5…) after they finish with FF7 remake’s 2nd part. It’s unlikely but not impossible.

Final Fantasy VIII


Games like FF8

Other PSX JRPGs you can like:

  • The Legend of Dragoon. The direct competitor from Sony.
  • Dragon Warrior VII. This is a awesome saga but this was more old-school and, I think, not so popular outside Japan.
  • Final Fantasy VII. FF7 is an awesome JRPG you must play.

Final Fantasy VIII


Conclusion

After playing many times to FF8 and get everything 100%, I’m happy there is a remaster and I’m sure I’ll play it again.

Final Fantasy VIII


Appendix

The additional appendix information now can be read in the mini guide.

Final Fantasy VIII