Grump Alert – Remembering Final Fantasy VIII

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Can you believe that in a few months it’ll be almost TEN YEARS since the 9/9/99 release of Final Fantasy VIII? And unfortunately, those ten years have plagued the Playstation RPG with Internet douchebags ragging on Final Fantasy VIII for being a horse of a different color from the installments that preceded and followed it. It’s been, by far, the least-popular Final Fantasy from the latter six entries in the franchise, with fans citing just about everything aside from the graphics as an abomination.

But, really, FFVIII isn’t as awful as all of that. And finally there’s a thoughtful article that agrees with me on this.

I think it’s helped a lot of people put FFVIII in a new perspective now that it doesn’t have to compete with the ultra-success and expectations brought upon by FFVII and now that the people that played it when it was released have had more life experiences with which to relate to the complex themes of the game. Hopefully this article can inspire players to revisit or even visit this installment for the first time.

I also wanna take this opportunity to relate why FFVIII has such a tender place in my heart via an embarrassing high school memory. So FFVIII came out on a Thursday and I was sooooo stoked for it and got it on Day 1 and played a few hours of it that night and was on cloud fucking nine. Then I went to school the next day and… had a really unpleasant lunch period that heralded the beginning of the end of a friendship I’d had for a few years. It cut me so badly that I actually had to get up from the lunch table, go to the bathroom and cry in the stall. I felt miserable the whole rest of the day and when I went home I just buried myself in FFVIII for not only the rest of the day, but the whole weekend. I allowed myself to be swallowed up by it. Here, I was having a parallel high school experience, but instead of being a gibbering geeky mess, I was a cool soldier that got to fight giant mechanical spiders and summon magical creatures! It really helped me through a shitty time of my life and it was probably exactly the right game at exactly the right time for me.

I’m not expecting sob stories or anything, but maybe in the comments you can mention any interesting memories you have about Final Fantasy VIII as well! And remember to check out Pop Matters’ fantastic article about it.

And now, Faye Wong.

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5 Responses to “Grump Alert – Remembering Final Fantasy VIII”

  1. Tim Torres Says:

    Oh man. Final Fantasy VIII really is the high school Final Fantasy, isn’t it? As a freshman in a strange and threatening environment I found myself latching onto Squall and his taciturn nature as a model of how to cope with the feelings of isolation and uncertainty. Surely, if it works for this scarred, gunsword-carrying SeeD soldier, it would work for this lanky, cross country runner with bad skin!

    Fortunately, I snapped out of that miasma of aloof, perceived badassery and one of the things that helped, in a weird circular relationship, involved Final Fantasy VIII. I was running down the street with the rest of the running team (my fellow Garden students!?), when one team mate jogged up next to me and asked out of the blue “Hey, which do you think I should buy this weekend? Suikoden II or Final Fantasy VIII?”

    I offered all sorts of opinions and thoughts – between gasps for air of course, this was a two-mile run in the dead of winter – about both games (though my only experience with Suikoden II was EGM’s glowing review of it), and the guy came to the conclusion that FF8 would be the best fit for him. The guys running with us were interested in the conversation too, so we remained talkative for the rest of the run.

    Well! Turns out people like you more if you’re talkative and friendly instead of being dour and saying “…” to everyone! And I felt way more comfortable, too. Maybe being more like super-friendly Zell (or Irvine, if you got the roguish charm?) is the way to go…

    Not that Squall doesn’t eventually realize that himself. Yeah, FF8 is all about growing up. It doesn’t deserve all the ire it gets. (Ire that should be reserved for Final Fantasy III DS.) It’s made its mark on me. My pal Joe (who brought his always-welcome perspective with him to Marc M.’s inFamous review) and I still make various gags and references to the game. Automatically, even. Maybe…

    Maybe I’m a lion?

  2. Hige Says:

    It’s probably telling of my campy tastes but FFVIII is the one PSX FF I can replay until I’m blue in the face. It’s not my favourite of the series but it’s certainly the one I enjoy playing the most.

    I’m actually going through it at the moment and the whole playthrough has been a searching, why-do-I-love-this experience. The only conclusion I can settle on is that there’s no MP (I really hate MP) and that it skews a lot of traditional JRPG play mechanics that particularly annoy me. Plus, it’s gorgeous, even now.

  3. Rick Says:

    Ah, FFVIII. I look on that game as the spiraling decay of my high school social life.

    My PlayStation had broken the month before school ended of 1999, and the computer we had on rental was too expensive, so I lost that as well. I spent four grueling months with my old consoles and a whole lotta nothing to do, and it was at this point that I heard Final Fantasy VIII was getting released soon! Having played only FFVII up to this point, I was a Square fanboy of the worst variety and knew next to nothing about traditional RPGs other than what Wild Arms, FFVII, and Phantasy Star II had shown me, but I was stoked nevertheless.

    Still I had no console with which to play it. In those summer months, I became more socially active and spent a lot more time outside, but then school began again. And my birthday was right around the corner, and my parents asked me what I wanted if I had a $200 limit, and we’d go get it early. You’ll also recall that 9/9/99 was also the release date of the SEGA Dreamcast and I was all about that, too. But $200 would not purchase the new console and a game, so I chose the old console and a new game. Final Fantasy VIII. I delved into it for four or five hours every single day until I beat it, forgetting all about the steps toward social activity and being a regular teen I’d made during the summer.

    Give me video games. =V

    I don’t regret this in any way, because my adolescent burgeoning mind did in fact have something to connect with in the characters, and even though I loathe the drawing system it is very difficult for me to choose which FF is my favorite, VIII or XII for sheer storytelling power and emotional impact. I think VIII still wins. This newly revitalized interest that people are showing in it warms my heart. The Grump Factory joining the fun just makes it even better.

  4. John Mora Says:

    The Grump Factory never left the fun~

  5. Michelle Says:

    FF8 was perfectly pitched to us at the right time, further proof than SE fully understood it’s target market.

    For me personally, it was the first FF that I bought on launch day, and although my love for FF is waning no other game release can really beat a FF release day, that immense sort of anticipation.

    My memories of playing FF8 are profoundly happy ones, I was playing it at a really happy time of my life, and didn’t really understand or sympathize with a lot of the conflict and distress on my first playthrough, (which actually meant I disliked many of the characters, particularly Squall for a very long time) ironically, it’s only as I’ve gotten older, and more aware of these sorts of emotions that I’ve started to unravel a lot of the meaning to the game.

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