#2 // FINAL FANTASY VIII: REMASTERED
Final Fantasy VIII is one of my all-time favorite games. Not just in the Final Fantasy series, but in general.
The game itself is quite divisive. After VII, Square had a big role to fill (Pun not intended) – after what is considered by many to be one of the best RPGs ever created (At least now.), they had a choice to make for the next game.
So what did they do?
They took the irrationally risky route of trying something almost entirely different.
This was also around the time of Square Pictures – so it wasn’t exactly out of character for them to make odd choices. And the opening of FF8 shows why they wanted to try their hand at film.
Unlike Square Pictures, though, FF8 wasn’t a complete and total disaster. The game’s actually really good if you give it a chance.
It has some odd systems in place that can be convoluted at first glance, but are actually fairly simple with a little patience and taking the time to actually learn them.
Junction isn’t that far removed from the Materia system, for instance. Instead of attaching an orb to a weapon or armor slot to get spells and stat boosts – you attach a spell, like Life, to a stat like HP in order to boost it. The more powerful the spell, and the more related it is to the stat you’re boosting, the greater the benefit.
That said, the story is admittedly weird. Especially the “twist” that happens about 2/3rds in (If you know, you know. I still pride myself on not completely spoiling things, even if the game is 21+ years old.)
Squall is also, very much, an asshole. Especially early on – in very basic storytelling fashion, Squall’s rough exterior gets worn down and softened over the course of the game and you learn that it was all mostly a shield/barrier. That kind of thing.
Anyway – why is this on the list? Because while Final Fantasy 7 has received all kinds of love over the decades – from multiple spin-off games to a full-on, from the ground up remake – FF8 has gotten pretty much nothing.
A janky PC port, and a PS Classic digital version.
When I heard that 8 was finally going to get some love in the form of a remaster, I had to get it. And it was great! The game looks amazing. They managed to make the game look the way you remembered it looking, not the way it actually looked.
Character models are updated and look much nicer – closer to PS2 quality. The backgrounds haven’t been redone, but they still look nice – and the way the game seamlessly goes between gameplay and CG is still impressive.
There is a staggering difference in quality between how the remaster looks, and how the original looks. But it’s almost imperceptible somehow.
I loved this game when I was younger – and I still love it today. I honestly think I’ll always love it – and I can only hope that one day Final Fantasy VIII gets the same kind of remake love that VII has gotten.
I’ve always wanted that old PS2 tech demo to become a reality.