Quite possibly the world's most perfect VideoGame. The boys at SquareSoft certainly outdid themselves. Four discs of addiction, guaranteed crack in each and every one. Plus, a slightly-better-than-mediocre plotline (good for a VideoGame...) to keep you entertained. Well, at least you can laugh at it a lot.

If you couldn't tell, the sarcasm in that last bit was thick enough to require power tools to cut... -- the game isn't bad by any stretch of the definition, but it lends itself to ... abuse. The game system is, uh, different (see rant, not mine, below) -- this is really the Final Fantasy Techno Remix... And the plot's nothing to write home about. Well, okay, let's be honest. The plot sucks. The CG is _really_ excellent (but see below). Overall, 4 stars (out of 5), but mostly because there are a lot of really optional things to do and also because the final boss is *gasp* challenging.--AndrewSchoonmaker

But they never explain how he (Squall, the main character) takes an icebolt through the chest and lives!

There is a universal law in video games and in movies -- that the relative coolness of a cutscene or animation is inversely proportional to the amount of explanation and plausibility needed to include it. Also, VideoGames are, notably, not the real world, contrary to popular belief.


Square seems to prefer to bypass the idea that worlds and technology evolve from simpler states. Rather, it's as if someone drew a map and then plunked techno-cities down on it like the miniature factories in Austin Powers. You don't build an Esthar or a Deling City without a good agricultural base, and somehow I doubt that FH's fish and Winhill's crops are doing this for the whole world. Furthermore, one generally wouldn't expect cities to be surrounded by so much dead space. It took the colonization of most of the planet to make today's New Yorks, Londons, and Tokyos. (For that matter, I'm convinced that Sakaguchi's "creative retreat" is located in the heart of Tokyo, hence the strong messages of urban suckage.) In any case, the world seems severely underpopulated, far too advanced where it IS populated, and somewhat implausible as a whole.

That and other quibbles aside, the game is cool. I suppose FF7 can be considered to be a "beta version" of FF8 if nothing else, because Square learned from their mistakes and added some engrossing and worthwhile elements to the eye candy. I second Andrew's **** rating. --IanTullis

I have serious beef with FF8. First off, the characters are pretty much obnoxious. Squall is a jerk, and he does many stupid things. While the graphics are excellent, it drove me to distraction what incredible rendering and modeling was wasted on such mediocre character design. Square attempted to be very... innovative with FF8, but it seems that they forgot to playtest the game when they were through with it.

FF8 takes a very different path from others in the Final Fantasy series, especially in the realm of equipment. At no time does one of your characters ever wear any armor, for example. There is no armor for sale. There are no accessories. Your characters do have weapons, but they cannot buy them. They have to make them. This is downright infuriating.

Infuriating to some. Others might consider it a welcome departure from the formulaic and derivative "every new town we come to has a weapon shop with higher quality and more expensive stuff" gig that virtually every console RPG has thrown at us for years.

Because to get the items that you will need to make your weapons, you usually have to play the built-in card game (actually quite fun, I admit), win cards from opponents, then trade those cards in for items. Oh, wait! That's only if you find SECRET MAGAZINES that tell you which items you need. *@#$^!

All of the weapon magazines, save one fairly obvious one, can be purchased later in the game, if you miss them...

FF8 has many bizarre gameplay effects. Such as the fact that if you are poisoned in battle, you can prevent the effects by not acting. There are many other things like this. Instead of noticing these things and changing them, Square noticed them, then put them in quizzes. Thanks.

A-san: Some gamers appreciate it when game systems vary at least slightly in a series. Otherwise, it gets a bit stale.

B-san: I sort of had this naive notion that maybe new gameplay elements would be incorporated, remix-style, with the old ones, after having been tested in slightly less mainstream games. ChronoTrigger, for example, produced by a different design team, had a nice variation on the typical magic systems common to most CRPGs of the day. It's a shame it hasn't really been used in any Square game since...

B-san: On the other hand, one of my biggest gripes with FF8 was the whole limit break thing. The percent chance based on how damaged the character was (shades of Attack Level Infinity from XenoGears) was a really neat idea that was completely ruined because they let you reroll as much as you wanted. And you have to do the quizzes to get money. Because that's the only way to get money (aside from in chests, which won't get you very far. Okay, you can acquire, then sell items, too). But it's not like you get money for doing quizzes... no, that would be too easy. It increases your rank when you complete quizzes, and your salary goes up when your rank is higher. And if the game happens to deem that you are not trying very hard (through a number of strange, arbitrary methods), it demotes you. There are a certain number of quizzes in the game, so if you are demoted enough times, well... it sucks to be you.

You can actually get promoted for fighting things, too. It just doesn't happen very often. And it's not like you actually need money for things. Sure, X-Potions are nice (can't recall off the top of my head if you can actually buy them anyplace) but if you want to use them you'd actually have to equip somebody with the Item command...

All these flaws pale before the horror that is the magic system. Called the draw or junction system, it does away with the effective, if somewhat boring MP/Magic? Point system of most previous games. It is replaced here by giving characters a certain number of uses of a spell. This, in itself, is fine. But, to acquire uses of a spell, one must actually suck that magic out of enemies. God knows why. You can hold up to 100 uses of any spell. But, you'll actually want to get 100 uses, because you can 'junciton' your spells to your attributes, and thus get bonuses to them. Which you'll want to do, because leveling up does just about jack for your stats, in comparison.

I see someone hasn't got "Devour" yet. :-P When Square designed this game, they were obviously aiming for the obsessive gamers who like to spend months perfecting their party (as evidenced by a goodly number of the later refinement charts...)

Which leads to the highly entertaining battles which consist of your characters repeatedly sucking magic from a single enemy for upwards of an hour. Whee. This problem is compounded when the spell you want is rare and only available from a boss, which means that you will draw that spell at a particularly slow rate. Basically, it's torture.

So if it's so boring, why bother? The game certainly seems possible without it....

Because the alternative to trying to buff up your characters with junctioned magic is to summon GFs, or 'Girl Friends'. Basically, they're like the summons we've all come to know and love, but worse. They take several minutes to call, all the while you are expected to madly tap buttons. If you use GFs frequently, battles start to take a loooong time. You have to 'equip' GFs on certain characters, too. If that character spends a lot of time with their 'Girl Friend', then their 'compatibility' will increase. However, if you call a GF and he/she gets hit, then the compatability will decrease. And don't even try to swap GFs between characters.

I could go on...

Actually, if you do some neat tricks with Refine you can get a bunch of the higher level magic very early on (I believe Quetzotl has Cure-refine, which makes Cura or Curaga from tents, in particular), and making Draw completely worthless. I spent the entire game with encounter-none on, and did not feel hurt by the lack of spells (admittedly this was because my characters, being lower level, made those higher level spells that I _did_ draw from bosses even stompier, but let's ignore that for the moment). -- EvilSouthie

''Or...if you have the PC version of the game you can play Chocobo World, and there's a very simple hack that lets you import as many items as you want from the mini-game. And some of these items do neat things, like refine into 100 ultima.

Well, you could theoretically buy the actual PocketStation? attachment... Although PocketStations? are pretty much unheard of in the US and it's probably cheaper to buy just the PC game...

On an amusing counterpoint to the entire argument above about pointless improvements to the characters, at least the first disc is playable without equipping GFs at all. Yes, this means you don't have access to the draw, magic, GF, or even item commands. Yes, this means you don't get Mug, or any of the refines, and you can't junction anything at all. I reached the middle of the second disk and then those Oilboyles started kicking my ass. Selphie's "The End" means that the game is theoretically beatable if the section without Selphie can be gotten through. It just happens that this section includes some really assy fights. -- EvilSouthie

Just bear in mind that I didn't need to do anything remotely like powergaming at all for the first two discs, and then then suddenly the game started laying the smack down. So it's not playable until the fat lady sings or you actually get somewhere on Disc 4 (even though you won't need to beat most of the bosses).


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