Final Fantasy VIII - Is This the Equivalent to Marmite Within The Series?

Vivi-Gamer

Well-known member
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
400
Gil
1,508
Gold Points
6
Community Tokens
0
Hi Ladies & Gents,

As the years go on I still have strong opinions on the FF series, as a whole - Most notably my acceptance of there being a Golden Years period which for me is between VI-X. Within that of course is Final Fantasy VIII, which unlike the rest within the time frame seems to be less and less renown as time goes on - Especially noticeable with the rise of acclaim Final Fantasy IX has gotten within the last few years. Unlike FF7 & FF9, there hasn't been a console port on modern systems to boost it's awareness to modern gamers - Which of course is a shame.

But the title has always seem to have a rocky relationship with the JRPG community and I'm just curious to investigate into why that is?

One of the biggest complaints I hear is the Junction System:
- Having to Farm magic Draw constantly from enemies.
- Magic being locked into your characters Attributes - Therefore restricting the use of them.
- Having to hold equip certain GF's to an individual to apply Magic to your Characters Attributes (Also having to Unlock them within the GF's Abilities too!)
- Having to remove your Magic from an in-active party member.

It's very fiddly... yes, I agree it's a lot to get ones head around first but in time, I found good ways to bypass this. The Summon Shops made for much quicker ways to acquire magic as opposed to finding draw points or using Draw on enemies - To the point that I very rarely even do that now, which makes me enjoy the game with less tedium.

In-Battle:
One thing that always strikes me in FFVIII is how important GF's are in Battle! As you're restricted from using Magic spells, I would often use GF attacks in replace - which would slow the pace down slightly when having to wait for their own ATB to go down. I did like the Boost Mechanic though which made for a way to keep me engaged and aim for the strongest attack. When I think of games in the series, this is probably the one I use Summons most in.

I did liked when you got deeper into the Junction system how you could apply Magic to your attack, especially ones that leave status effects like Poison, Sleep or Blind etc. this was always fun to apply and very useful when done right!

I also liked Another similar feature to which Lost Odyssey expanded on, in where you could Trigger Squall's Gunblade for a stronger attack at the right moment.

The characters Limit Breaks were also very odd in this game, as unlike VII before it wasn't just a case of using your Limits to a point where you learn a new one. Each character had their own method to expanding their abilities. Some were simple like Squall's Weapon Upgrade or Zell & Rinoa's Magazine Upgrades but Others like Quistis's Blue Magic were far more complex and really I never got them all until post game - to which by then they're weren't all that effective.

Interestingly FFVIII has a system in where your enemies difficulty increases with your character's level. The problem with this is that there isn't incentive to Level up and get the advantage over the opponent. I beat the game on very minimal levels once and I am not one of them Hardcore Level-1 Playthrough Let's Players.

Story:
Final Fantasy VIII's story is very masked, the reveal of the antagonist and their intentions is not really addressed until half way of Disc 3 and onwards, which is very outside the realm of peril which the characters are involved prior to that point. So trying to pin-point FFVIII's story is a tricky one but as off beat and surreal as it may have been the game always kept you involved with events with a good pace - So unlike many modern games I wasn't overloaded with baggage and open areas to the point to where I would lose focus.

Elone was always one of them characters who pushed the games narrative boundaries for me, along with the Languna dream sequences - but it does round up later, even if some factors are left ambiguous.

I think the biggest Elephant in the room and cannot be understated is the Orphanage Scene:
This is the part I always refer to as one of the weakest points of the series! I find it absolutely intolerable and while it does have a few good merits in bringing the casts drive to assist Edea through their bond, it's done in the mostly poorly constructed way. The notion of the characters living with each other as kids, and later being re-connected was far too forced. Along with the attempt explanation of the GF's usage causing memory loss - Something which is never referred to elsewhere in the story. Honestly, I try just forget that if ever happens.

I think what may have helped with the Story was more time in the later portion of the game in the Ultimecia's Realm - In the game You can roam the world as it appears before Time Compression but there are barriers surrounding the majority of the locations. I would have preferred to have had something similar to Final Fantasy IV's later area, which has a completely different presence. In this place, you really only have Ultemecia's Castle to go to. I'd have liked to have seen more of the world in that Time Zone/State. It would have just given Ultemecia a bit more presence - As an antagonist's she's almost as vague and ambiguous as Necron.

Characters:
TwoSqualls.png

One of my key complaints about Final Fantasy VIII is that the majority of the characters are just there - Similar to Final Fantasy XII with Vaan & Penelo. Many characters lack a decent back story and struggle to overcome during the story, take VII's Red XIII who you visit his village and enter the scenario where you help him overcome the ghosts of his pasts. While a slight diversion from the main games plot, it really helps extend his relatability as a character and then justify his availability in the party. Now take Quistis as an example of VIII, beyond the Fire Cavern and Dollet Mission, she has no further involvement with the games party - She may help with the mission at the end of Disc 1 but say if she hadn't and after the Dollet Mission she remained a teacher at Balamb Garden as an NPC... would that have effected the story in anyway? I don't believe so. She has no dedicated scenario like Red XIII's which just leaves her to linger about. It's the same with Selphie, Irvine and even Zell really, without later scenes that showcase them more they just sort of become forgettable - Y you could say that Orphanage Scene was a way to round up all the characters motives to proceed on but it just so awful and impersonal that it doesn't hold effect.

With all that said, Final Fantasy VIII features my favourite main protagonist of the series (Discounting Vivi from IX, whom IMO steals the show!) in Squall! While the secondary party members lack depth and involvement in the quest the trade off is worth it in the attention to detail the game delivers with Squall. I think one of the great things FFVIII does in telling the story through Squall's perspective is how we get involved in his inner thoughts. A great example is when the party hears of Seifer's punishment at Galbadia Garden. We experience the situation through Squall who is naturally quiet but we experience his inner frustration and concerns escalate until when confronted he explodes at the surrounding party members - This scene wouldn't work had we not been involved with that inner dialogue.

One of the beautiful things about the game is following Squall troubled inner-self. How through these inner dialogue moments we see how vulnerable and damaged he is - Re-occurring past moments of isolation when he is asleep. Then seeing how he overcomes his difficulties in trusting and relating to others throughout the adventure. Another key moment being when take on Responsibilities like Co-ordinating the Seed Garden Battle and the game lets the player decide what Squall says to his comardes in the hart of battle, I appreciated the layer of interactivity there. Then when tragedy strikes Rinoa, how he is filled with regret and keen to help the person he cares for beyond anything else.

I really think Squall is the highlight of the this game more so than the actual plot, which if his personality is too off putting at first, I can see why people struggle to enjoy the game as much. Me personally, I have plenty of empathy for such a character and once he begins to open up to others it only makes the game that much better.

The game also features a great antagonist in Seifer too, who you encounter on the opposing team in many incidents, he works great as fuel towards supporting your party. I like how he's this cocky teen, who then gets seduced as the Sorceresses Apprentice and how he strives for his goals even
beyond the moment when Edea regains control of herself.
I also liked his tag along goons in Fujin & Rajin
and how when things go too far they begin to question Seifer and stop supporting him before his final encounter, yet there is still respect among all three of them.

Story Moments:
As momented before, while FFVIII's plot is difficult to pin-point, it has many memorable moments which I think back on fondly.

I think the biggest is the SEED Garden Battle. It's a full-scale war which comes out of nowhere (Which I love), as it's a full-on attack from the antagonist team. it begins from just exploring the world map, your set on a mini- objective but the opposing airship is in the away and the whole situation suddenly explodes. And what a situations, I already complimented how it shows Squall's growth but on the technical Level this even just ups the ante! The scenario lasts a good few hours where you have many interactive moments in fending off against the opposition as they attack vulnerable students. One in particular in which you fight a solider while hanging onto a jetpack gone rogue! - This all presented in a mixture of in-game graphics and groundbreaking CGI. But the scenario even extends further than your party then breaches the other airship for one of the biggest confrontations in the game. It's just brilliant scenario writing from moment to moment and one of the highlights in the entire series … IMO :)

There are many moments I could pick, even IGN surprised me recently with an article praising FFVIII's scenario with the Train Heist - IGN's FFFVIII Article on Train Heist
There are many I could extend more on but the main point is that it is important to note this in FFVIII's favour as there are a few more recent FF games where I cannot do the same.

Art Direction:
I cannot mention Final Fantasy VIII without praising it's Art Direction, it's among my favourite within any medium. I love it's vision of futurism, from the sleek architecture of the Towns and City's to the extreme cases with Esthar. I adore everything from the buildings even to the transportation vehicles. While many praise IX for going back to it's routes, not so many praise Final Fantasy VIII for it's approach to Sci-Fi. FFVIII is the certainly the closest we've got to a Sci-Fi FF game and I'm grateful for it - As the many attempts I've tried to embrace Star Ocean each title seems to have major flaws to them.

But even the monster designs, they're all so rich in detail which I think is due to the technical capabilities of the hardware. This was a big step-up graphically from VII - Where a lot of the lesser enemies were polygon shapes. With that the artistic expression in the enemies is far more Vivid, I remember being very intimidated by the T-Rex as a kid, not just because of the ferocious stats but in how well detailed it was animated. Same with the GF's Ifrit's Roooarrrr! or Brother's detailed game of Paper, Rock Scissor (Poor Big Bro' gets duped everytime :P) just adds so much charm. My personal Favourite is Odin, with it's excessive horns and almost Greek God-like design, I just love it.
FF8ODIN.JPG

Also, as a world, I find FFVIII's to be very distinctive - Admittedly it wins over every FF from VI and before as most of their towns were very generic but with the Pre-rendered backgrounds they really could achieve any atmosphere they wanted. I loved seeing the different designs like how Deling City how the colour scheme almost reminds me of a 1930's Mob setting. My favourite place is probably Balamb Town just because of how peaceful it is, an ideal holiday resort indeed by the sea There are honestly times to where I have gone train hopping from each location just to enjoy the environments. Each region has a very distinct feel too it. Yet, they still have a familiarity, then when you enter Esthar it's such a momentous event, like entering a whole separate planet!

Music:
One feature of FFVIII which has grown on me more in recent years I the OST. I didn't used to think much of it but as I find myself listening to music more when travelling, I find that FFVIII's OST is the one I listen to most of all! The long and short of it is that there are simply less ear grating skippable tracks. I find with FFVIII the quality of the sound increased from VII as much as the visuals - They're less chip-tunish and lighter in tone (Leave Languna's Battle Theme out of this :P... Actually no I like that also too!) . Some of my favourites are breezy & Fisherman's Horizion for their peaceful nature but I also love a lot of the more Sci-Fi based tracks like Esthar's 'Sound and Motion' which I always envision as a chemical experiment as the high pitch tunes burst out.
Also, FFVIII gets credit for the first game in the series to feature a vocal performance with Eyes On Me which is fittingly romantic and highlights the special moment.

Extras:
Another feature about FFVIII is that it hosts plenty of extra content! It excels with the Triple Triad game in offering a Mini-Game which differs from the typical gameplay mechanics - Unlike XII, XIII's focus on Monster Battles, I like to see something that differs from the main stay of the game. I do admit it does get a little complicated and I try keep the rules set to the basic set. The caveat to this is that in order to get the true pay off to this Mini-game you have to sacrifice the cards you've worked hard to get! - Very similar to the philosophy in how the game approaches Magic. In this case I was also reluctant to do so. But the quest does lead you around the world to face opponents in the game, which is fun, even if the Queen of Cards is a bit much.

The game also has many optional areas to go to, there are many where you can gain great Summons but the most fun I had was actually in returning to Dollet, where there is a painter who paints areas of the city but finds each painting has a Bone in it ( Which his pesky Grandson keeps interjecting accompanies him for :P) But each location is a place you can go to and find a useful item. It could be seen as a simple fetch quest task, but the way it is visualised and the little narrative that progressed makes it very fun to get involved with.

… Actually I lie, I just rembered Shumi Village is my favourite Optional area but it features similar functionality :)

Beyond my rambling, I mostly have good things to say when it comes to Final Fantasy VIII, I really do! The gameplay flaws it has I find I can by pass to easily immerse myself within the experience. I just think it's sad that this title may slip peoples memory to a similar fate of Final Fantasy V. But I am curious to know what you think of the game and it's placement within the series as a whole. Do you think a port would rekindle interest and word of the title? It's certainly an oddity but one I feel I can embrace and cherish.
 
Last edited:

Dionysos

Βρεκεκεκὲξ κοὰξ κοάξ
Staff member
Administrator
Veteran
Joined
Jun 26, 2008
Messages
5,523
Location
Somewhere.
Gil
6,412
Gold Points
137
Community Tokens
133
FFXIV
Polyphemos Bromios
FFXIV Server
Lamia
I enjoyed reading this!

I think FFVIII is quite a divisive game. I find your comparison with FFV to be quite appropriate. Both FFVIII and FFV were placed between two titles which are more often considered classics (FFVII and FFIX, and FFIV and FFVI, respectively). Also, FFVIII makes a few FFV references, most prominently with Gilgamesh.

Personally, I've never hated the game. I like marmite, and I like FFVIII! Like marmite, I do find FFVIII to be very weird. The plot doesn't make sense in many parts, but that doesn't mean that the plot is altogether bad. Some characters were developed, others sidelined after a few scenes.

The action scenes, as you described, were truly phenomenal for the time.

There was also quite a healthy number of memorable scenes in this game, be it because of the humour, the sadness, the tension, etc.
It certainly belongs with the rest of the franchise as an achievement.
 

Vivi-Gamer

Well-known member
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
400
Gil
1,508
Gold Points
6
Community Tokens
0
Haha thanks - I guess I was bored last week :P

But yes I have always felt that this title seems to be the one that the gaming community disregards from the PS1 era. Final Fantasy V is one of the FF's I have yet to experience due to the lack of an appealing port available - I was really hoping for a 3D FFV Remake in the style of FFIII & IV, but it never happened, don't even get me started about the iOS version... I am considering using a GBA emulator to play it and the results I have tested seem playable. I think another issue is that I do really struggle to go back to play 16-Bit games, it's terrible to admit but I do. Also, I think I'm sort of suckered into the Trophy/Achievement system so playing games without that sense of progress sort of puts me off - Admittedly equally as terrible :P

When it comes to FFV as a game though I think it simply is the job system that puts me off, the idea of having to select classes and level them up and change them about just isn't all that appealing to me. I don't like the idea of progressing with one class, then if I need to change later into the game, having to start a new class from base level again. If possible, I prefer FF games that have characters abilities pre-set to narrative character type - Like in FF9 with unique characters as Summoners, Mages, thief's, Soliders personality reflect their combat style. But Final Fantasy V is a game I want to properly attempt this year and intend to do so after Kingdom Hearts III & Resident Evil 2 are done and dusted.

Back on to FFVIII, I really do fear that the lack of a console port is going to distance itself from the gaming community, one of the best things about the RE series in recent years is how accessible Capcom has made it on PS4. I've got a stack of RE games which is a beautiful thing. It's made the series more accessible and honestly made me more fond of it in recent years. With how S-E are now branching all their classic ps1-ps2 era titles to Switch & Xbox One it's really concerning that FFVIII isn't being included in the ride and I think damaging to it's reputation.

Upon my reflection (And admittedly gushing) over the title there is just so much good that outweighs the bad and I'd hate for other people to not give the game a fair chance because of an intimidating junction system or questionable plot route.
 

charliepanayi

Paladin
Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2007
Messages
1,306
Age
36
Location
London, UK
Gil
1,124
Gold Points
1
Community Tokens
1
This certainly is the Marmite game in the series, I can't think of another instalment that divides people quite this much. But its fans (of which I am one) are definitely big fans of it, anyone I know who loves FFVIII REALLY loves it and that dedication is nice to see. I do think the game had a thankless task having to follow up FFVII, and I think any game coming after that was always going to find it difficult. The junction system is the weakest part of the game but unlike many people I really like the plotline (even if there are maybe some pacing issues between discs 2 and 3). It's very much the Squall/Rinoa show but that is finer with me, not every game needs to be an ensemble like FFVI or FFIX. And the orphanage twist is great! It's no dafter than some of the other FF plot twists anyway.

And it has the best opening and ending sequences of any FF game which has always sealed it for me as my favourite.
 

bandokanon

amazing avocado
Joined
Feb 1, 2019
Messages
40
Location
hellup hellup i am stuck down this well
Gil
50
Gold Points
0
Community Tokens
0
Funnily enough I still love FFVIII, and I even like most of the cast. The only one I don't actually like is Irvine. He annoys me to no end... and I feel like Selphie just enables his dumb behavior by reacting the way she does.

I guess I'm biased in favor of VIII because it was my first FF, but I feel like I would have still liked it better than VII even if I had played VII first. We'll never know though, will we? Not unless we turn back time and do over the order in which I played the FF games lol
 

h34rt1lly

Ex-Soldier
Joined
Jun 21, 2015
Messages
75
Location
USA
Gil
991
Gold Points
2
Community Tokens
0
Hi, hello, I am emerging from the dead to pipe up and say that some of the reasons that I consider FF8 to be my favorite are actually some of the points of contention you mentioned in your write-up!

I actually thoroughly enjoyed the junction system. It required you to be prepared, to be strategic, and play around with the right combination of spells in different slots to be successful in certain boss fights. The soundtrack is also easily my favorite, with FF9 as a close second (coincidentally, also my second favorite FF. Maybe they're related, haha).

Granted, FF8 was my first FF. They do say that a person's first is usually their favorite. Maybe a lot of my thoughts are biased due to that, but I still go back and replay it every year or two and my feelings have largely remained unchanged <3
 

Starships

Zero Gravity
Veteran
Joined
Mar 24, 2010
Messages
1,270
Location
no
Gil
3,020
Gold Points
0
Community Tokens
2
I love Final Fantasy VIII. It's one of my top favorites of the series, though you could tell that they rushed it out for a 9/9/99 release date. Final Fantasy VIII a slice of marmite toast that needed some more time in the Square Enix toaster.
 
Top