WAY BACK WHEN
1997’s Final Fantasy VII may have brought role-playing games into the mainstream, but its 1999 successor played an equally important role in proving that Sony’s PlayStation console was the place for RPGs. Developer Squaresoft’s previous game had redefined the genre with its seventh entry in the long-running series, and thus the pressure was on Final Fantasy VIII to keep that ball rolling lest the franchise lose its appeal in a genre that was beginning to blossom. Luckily for both the company and the many gamers it was eager to please, Final Fantasy VIII succeeded not only in being a worthy follow-up but in managing to try some fresh ideas that set it apart from its contemporaries.
Like its predecessor, Final Fantasy VIII used pre-rendered 2D backgrounds to give its world considerably more detail, but it was also the first game in the series to use realistically proportioned 3D character models to give them a more mature appearance. This attempt to cultivate a more adult-oriented tone was helped along by its dark sci-fi setting and somber tale that encompassed such themes as betrayal, sacrifice, and crippling anxiety. Casted as a 17-year-old mercenary named Squall. players encountered feelings of duty clashing with the mounting hopelessness caused by overwhelming odds. Yet even as the game presented obstacle after obstacle to overcome, it nevertheless managed to capture the feeling of being an awkward teenager through its budding romance between Squall and love interest Rinoa, which as a result also provided one of the franchise’s sweetest and most memorable CGI cutscenes.
Like many games in the Final Fantasy series, the eighth entry was a critical and commercial success and has been added to many ranked lists of the best games of all time. Primary points of praise revolved around its exceptional soundtrack, deep and fascinating story and lore, and its varying design choices that set it apart from other entries. Sadly, it’s also that latter point that gained it a bit of negative reception, as some weren’t fond of the game’s unconventional magic system, which required players to absorb and stockpile uses of magic spells from enemies or specialized “draw points” rather than have unlimited casts as most RPGs allow. Despite those complaints, however, Final Fantasy VIII‘s positives far outweighed its divisive quirks, and the fact that it remains an incredibly enjoyable experience even today further proves that Squaresoft was the master of PS1 role-playing games.
Where You Can Play It Now
Final Fantasy VIII is available on most modern devices, though it’s important to understand they’ll be the Remastered version of the game. This edition features improved graphics, a higher resolution, and significantly updated character models, but it’s otherwise still the original experience.
Like other PS1-era Final Fantasy titles that have been remastered for modern consoles, Final Fantasy VIII also features trophy and achievement support and an optional turbo mode that speeds up the game to allow for quicker battling and navigation for those just seeking to move quickly through an old classic.
Here’s the modern platforms on which you can access Final Fantasy VIII:
- PC (via Steam)
- PlayStation 4
- Xbox One
- Nintendo Switch
It may not have achieved the level of appreciation required to receive a full remake like Final Fantasy VII, but there’s no denying that Final Fantasy VIII remains one of the franchise’s most unique and fascinating experiences. With plenty of ways to play it nowadays, there’s no reason to overlook such a classic.