|Final Fantasy VIII|
Fainaru Fantajī VIII
|Developers||Square Co., Ltd.|
Square Co., Ltd.
/ SCE Europe
|Game modes||Single player|
|Platforms||PlayStation, PC, PlayStation Network|
Final Fantasy VIII is the eighth installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game is the second Final Fantasy developed for both PlayStation and PC. It was made available as a PSOne Classic over the PlayStation Network in Japan on September 24, 2009, in North America on December 18, 2009 and in Europe on February 4, 2010.
Thirteen weeks after its release, Final Fantasy VIII earned more than $50 million from sales in the United States, making it the fastest selling Final Fantasy title at the time. Additionally, Final Fantasy VIII was voted the 22nd-best game of all time by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu. Final Fantasy VIII went on to become one of the best-selling games in the series; the game had shipped 8.15 million copies worldwide as of March 31, 2003.
Final Fantasy VIII is a departure from many traditional series standards. It is the first Final Fantasy game to consistently use realistically proportioned characters, the first to feature a vocal piece as its theme music, and one of the only titles to deviate from the series' traditional means of increasing a character's power via leveling (although levels are not completely abandoned as they were in Final Fantasy II). In addition, it does not have a Magic Point-based system for spell-casting. Instead, magic is collected, drawn, and created from monsters and objects encountered throughout the game, and is used to power up the characters via the Junction System.
The gameplay in Final Fantasy VIII is vastly different from previous titles. The Draw and Junction Systems are the most notable changes. Instead of leveling up in order to learn new spells and abilities via weapons or a job class, the player must Draw the spells from enemies and Draw Points, hotspots scattered throughout the game containing random numbers of a specific spell.
This eliminates the convention of magic/mana points, but encourages players to hoard and conserve spells both for direct use and for junctioning them to different stats associated with Guardian Forces, who also hold the learning of new abilities.
- Main article: Guardian Force
Summoned monsters in Final Fantasy VIII are known as Guardian Forces, often abbreviated to GFs. They require junctioning to characters in order to be used, as well as to utilize their inherent abilities. Unlike previous games, GFs take time to be summoned, and the time taken depends on the character/GF combination. When selected, the ATB gauge begins to run backwards and the character's name and HP are replaced by the GF's name and HP.
Similar to the Aeons used later in Final Fantasy X, the GF have HP and can take damage, shielding party members while being summoned. During the summon charge time, if the GF's HP reaches 0, they get KOed and the summon is canceled. They also can't be summoned until revived. When the GF's ATB gauge reaches zero, the GF is summoned and attacks in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy VII. If the summoned GF has learned the Boost ability, the player can attempt to boost the GF's attack power by up to 250%, but if the player fails to adequately boost the GF its attack power may actually be reduced rather than enhanced.
Guardian Forces gain Ability Points from battles to learn abilities. Each GF has unique abilities, though rare items allow the player to customize each GF's skillsets. Most abilities at least require junctioning the GF to a character, but some abilities also require junctioning to the character to take effect. Each GF has an ability that, once learned, can be junctioned as a battle command. The first two Guardian Forces are acquired at the beginning of the game. Other Guardian Forces can be acquired through sidequests, or by drawing them from a boss. Only three Guardian Forces are given automatically, the others are optional.
- Main article: Junction System
The Junction System is the system used for boosting character stats and to give elemental/Status Effect effects to weapons and armor. The player must junction a Guardian Force to enable the use of battle commands other than Attack. Boosting stats requires characters to obtain magic, by drawing spells from enemies and draw points and by refining from items with GF abilities.
The player can junction the spells to stats such as Strength, Vitality, Evasion and Hit-Rate. Which attributes can be customized depends on the junctioned Guardian Force(s). The Guardian Force can learn to unlock more statistics to junction magic to by earning AP in battle, and by the use of GF items.
Experience and LevelingEdit
As with most games of the RPG genre, Experience Points are awarded following defeat of randomly encountered enemies. The system of leveling in Final Fantasy VIII is unique for two reasons: each playable character only requires 1,000 Experience Points to advance to the next level, whereas other games require progressively more points as levels are gained. The statistic increases granted by a level-up are minuscule, as major stat growth is relegated to the Junction System.
The other feature is that enemies and bosses have no set level (although bosses have level caps); they increase in hit points, statistics, and abilities alongside the player party. Higher-level enemies are capable of inflicting and withstanding significantly more damage, and may have additional special attacks. They also possess better magic to draw and items to steal as their level rises. The benefit of this system is no matter where the player is in the storyline, there is a level of difficulty.
Furthermore, due to most locations being visited several times during the storyline and for sidequests, enemies encountered early will grow with the party and can still pose a threat later in the game. There are certain locations that are the exempt to this style of creature leveling, notably the Island Closest to Heaven and the Island Closest to Hell, where all creatures are at level 100 regardless of character level, and the Lunatic Pandora, where all creatures are at level 1 regardless of character level with Squall as party leader (more info here).
- Main article: Limit Break (Ability)#Final Fantasy VIII
The Limit Break system in Final Fantasy VIII is a more advanced version of the Desperation Attack system from Final Fantasy VI. Each character has a unique Limit Break based on their preferred fighting style. As a rule of thumb, while a character's HP remains below a certain point, Limit Breaks will become available.
One notable difference between this system and the Desperation Attack feature in Final Fantasy VI is that the player can opt to Attack normally even if a Limit Break is currently available. Another is that the chance of a Limit Break becoming available will increase the lower his/her HP becomes, among other factors. Also, while Desperation Attacks could only be used once per battle, there are no limits to how often Limit Breaks can be performed, so long as the character remains in critical condition.
Several characters' Limit Break sequences are also interactive, requiring the player's skill to reach its full damage potential; if performed correctly, these interactive Limit Breaks can be far more powerful than the non-interactive ones.
- Main article: Triple Triad
Final Fantasy VIII introduced a minigame that can be played whenever there are NPCs around; a trading card game, known as Triple Triad. Triple Triad varies from a simple easy-to-play game to a complicated one. More rules and variations of other rules come into play depending on what area the player is playing in. And to complicate things further, rules played with in one area are carried to other areas, so the player will want to be careful what rules to pick up while playing.
Cards won from monsters or by playing NPCs can be turned into various items using Quezacotl's Card Mod ability, ranging from screws to items capable of being refined into the most powerful magics in the game. Cards can also be obtained by using Quezacotl's Card command to turn targeted monsters into cards.
- Main article: List of Final Fantasy VIII Characters
Overall, Final Fantasy VIII has eleven playable characters, six of them used for the majority of the game, three used at certain interludes, and two temporary characters.
- Squall Leonhart - The taciturn and reluctant hero. A lone wolf, he is known as a fearsome warrior in training, specializing in the rare gunblade. Though aloof and seemingly detached, he grows to appreciate his friends and love Rinoa, evolving into a model leader for his peers. His tagline is "...Whatever".
- Rinoa Heartilly - A beautiful and spirited young woman who abandoned a privileged lifestyle to join a resistance movement. Owns a faithful pet dog, Angelo.
- Quistis Trepe - A top-notch member of SeeD who serves as Squall's instructor. Though beautiful and popular, she is insecure about herself and her capabilities. She overcomes this through her deep caring for Squall and her friends.
- Zell Dincht - A Garden student with unsurpassed martial arts skill who has a passion for hot dogs. In spite of his loud-mouthed attitude, Zell strives to be a model cadet.
- Selphie Tilmitt - A spunky young woman with a carefree spirit. Transferred from Trabia Garden. She tends to overcompensate her sad past with a happy disposition.
- Irvine Kinneas - An expert gunman and consummate ladies' man. Despite his shallow façade, Irvine is determined, caring and sensitive man, and is the only one who knows the hidden connection between all the members of the group.
- Ultimecia - A powerful sorceress from the future who desires to become omnipotent. A manipulative woman filled with hatred and resentment, her past is shrouded in mystery.
Other major characters:
- Seifer Almasy - Squall's rival who wreaks havoc within Balamb Garden. An accomplished warrior and gunblade specialist, he considers Squall his equal and dreams of becoming an hero, but his mind becomes warped by the sorceress's influence.
- Laguna Loire - A passionate man whose "pen is truly mightier than the sword". Despite disliking violence, he bravely takes up arms in the face of injustice or when his loved ones are in peril.
- Kiros Seagill - A Galbadian soldier who wields katals in battle. An intellectual and cool person, he is Laguna's best friend and the voice of reason within the group of friends.
- Ward Zabac - A Galbadian soldier who wields a harpoon. Though intimidating at first glance, he is a caring individual and a most loyal friend to Laguna.
- Edea Kramer - A mysterious sorceress and estranged wife of Cid Kramer, whose connection to the main cast is more than just antagonism.
- Cid Kramer - Headmaster of Balamb Garden. A nurturing man and a true dreamer, he guides the main cast through several points in the game.
- Ellone - A mysterious young woman with the ability to send people's consciousness back in time.
- Adel - Sorceress and (former) ruler of Esthar. Brutal and cruel, she is said to be pure evil.
Several characters from the game have appeared in other Square games. Squall and Ultimecia appear in Dissidia Final Fantasy as the main protagonist and antagonist representing Final Fantasy VIII and Laguna also appears in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. Selphie, Irvine, and Quistis appear as in-game tutors for the original Dissidia Final Fantasy where Seifer and Laguna also appear as ghost cards.
Squall has made cameos in Chocobo Racing, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II and Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special. Rinoa appears in Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special and Quistis appears in the game's portable version. Selphie also appears in Kingdom Hearts, and is joined later by Seifer, Fujin and Raijin in Kingdom Hearts II.
Squall and Rinoa were featured in an official technical demo for the PlayStation 2 in 1999, recreating their waltz scene from Final Fantasy VIII using real time animation. Rinoa also makes an appearance in Monty Oum's fanmade movie, Dead Fantasy.
- “At the forefront of a rising tide of violence brought on by Galbadia's war declaration is a SeeD cadet named Squall Leonhart. Serious to a fault, Squall has earned himself the reputation of being a lone wolf.
A chance encounter with the free-spirited Rinoa Heartilly, however, turns his universe upside down. Having thrived on discipline, Squall finds Rinoa's carefree attitude fascinating. Yet there is no time to ponder these thoughts, for the job of dealing with the sorceress behind Galbadia's irrational hostility has fallen to SeeD and Squall.”
- —Official Introduction
Welcome to SeeDEdit
The game opens with a duel between the two arch-rivals Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy. Squall and Seifer are both students at Balamb Garden, a military academy training SeeDs. SeeDs are an elite mercenary force contracted to help people all around the world. The duel ends in a tie, when both men end up with scars across their faces. Squall wakes up a few hours later, on the day of his SeeD field exam. He goes with his instructor Quistis Trepe to retrieve a Guardian Force (GF), a creature that enables people to use magic to enhance one's physical capabilities.
The final test Squall must pass to become a SeeD is to go the the occupied city of Dollet, together with his squad members Zell Dincht and Seifer. They quickly uncover the reason for the Galbadian Army's occupation; to reactivate an old radio tower. Seifer leaves his teammates behind, and disobeys Garden's orders. A spunky young girl, Selphie Tilmitt, joins the party at this time, and after defeating a monster at the top of the tower, the tower is reactivated, and they are chased back to the beach by a spider-like war machine.
Back at Garden, the exam results are announced. Squall, along with Zell, Selphie, and another man named Nida, are the only ones to pass, and are subsequently graduated to SeeDs by Headmaster Cid Kramer. Seifer does not make the cut, due to having disobeyed direct orders. Later that night, at the SeeD Graduation Ceremony, a young woman in a white dress approaches Squall and asks him for a dance. Squall is initially disinterested, but the assertive young lady manages to get him on the dance floor. They share a dance, before she abruptly excuses herself.
Afterwards, Quistis asks Squall to meet in the "Secret Area" of the Training Center for a talk, where she reveals she has been relieved of her position as an instructor, which effectively removes the professional barrier between them. Quistis tries to tell Squall she has feelings for him, but Squall, being emotionally distant as he is, quickly becomes impatient and leaves her.
The next morning, Squall, Selphie and Zell receive their first mission as SeeDs: to aid a resistance faction known as the Forest Owls in their quest to reclaim the independence of a small nation called Timber. On the train trip to Timber, the SeeDs strangely pass out, and have a dream about a man called Laguna Loire and his two friends Kiros Seagill and Ward Zabac. Upon waking up, they meet up with the Forest Owls, only to find that the girl who danced with Squall, Rinoa Heartilly, is a member. She had been at the dance to enlist the help of SeeD. The Forest Owls' plan is to abduct Vinzer Deling, Galbadia's tyrannical president, and force him to withdraw his soldiers from Timber. However, once they manage to hijack the president's train, they confront only his body double.
Opposing the SorceressEdit
After defeating the imposter, they learn the real President Deling is going to the Timber TV Station to broadcast something. The president announces the Sorceress Edea as the nation's new ambassador when Seifer appears and holds the President hostage. After a scuffle, Seifer disappears with the sorceress, and is later announced executed. With Garden's reputation at risk following the incident, Squall and his friends flee to Galbadia Garden, having another mysterious dream about Laguna on the way.
In Galbadia Garden they are enlisted in a plot to assassinate the sorceress with the help of Galbadia's General Caraway (Rinoa's father) and the master sniper, Irvine Kinneas. The assassination is planned to take place at Edea's inauguration parade in Deling City. Rinoa, determined to prove she is capable and serious about the resistance movement, comes up with a plan to suppress the sorceress's power with an Odine Brand item.
Rinoa is quickly struck down by the sorceress, who then kills President Deling. Zell, Selphie and Quistis trap the sorceress inside a gated archway, as Squall and Irvine arrive at their post where a high caliber sniper rifle has been left for them to assassinate the sorceress. Irvine nearly breaks down just before he is supposed to shoot Edea, but with a little help from Squall, he fires at the sorceress. Edea blocks the shot with a magical barrier, forcing Squall to attack the sorceress head on. Running through the parade, Squall is surprised to see Seifer standing at the sorceress's side. Squall attacks the sorceress after going through Seifer, who has now become Edea's protective Knight. Edea hurls ice spikes at Squall, piercing his chest and rendering him unconscious.
Squall dreams of Laguna in a little peasant town called Winhill, living with a woman called Raine and her adoptive daughter Ellone. He suddenly wakes up in Galbadia's D-District Prison, where his friends are being held nearby. Seifer tortures Squall, demanding to know SeeD's true purpose. Squall is knocked unconscious by the pain, but a Moomba frees him. His friends manage to escape as well, but upon escaping, they see that the Galbadians have launched missiles against Trabia Garden as part of Edea's plans to annihilate both Gardens. Inferring that Balamb Garden will be next, they split into two teams: Selphie's team tries to stop the missile launch, while Squall's team goes to warn Balamb Garden. Selphie's party fails to stop the missile launch in time and barely escapes the launch base as it self-destructs.
Squall arrives to find Balamb Garden in an uproar; students are fighting each other, some siding with Headmaster Cid and some with Garden Master NORG. Cid reveals NORG originally funded the Garden's foundation and saw them as a profit venture, declaring himself the owner and dismissing Garden's true purpose of fighting and defeating the corrupt sorceresses. The conflict of interest sparked the internal fight among the SeeDs and Garden Faculty. Squall learns the Garden can be made mobile and moves the Garden before the Galbadian missiles hit. As the Garden's steering devices have broken down over time due to lack of maintenance, Balamb Garden is left drifting in the ocean. Squall visits the basement level to hear the story from NORG himself. NORG tries to kill Squall and his companions to appease the sorceress by proving Garden was not behind the assassination attempt, but fails as Squall defeats NORG.
Balamb Garden crashes into Fishermans Horizon, a pacifist town built around a defunct train station. The local technicians help restore the Garden into full functionality and Squall is reunited with the missile base team. Cid places the Garden under Squall's command, a duty he accepts reluctantly. When the Garden returns to Balamb, Squall finds the Galbadians, under the supervision of Seifer's friends Fujin and Raijin, have occupied Balamb to search for a woman named Ellone. After liberating the town, Squall decides to go to Trabia Garden, Selphie's home Garden.
Selphie mourns the wreckage of her home by the Galbadian missiles. As she talks with Squall, Quistis, Zell, and Irvine, they gradually realize that as children, they all lived in an orphanage together, cared for by a woman named Edea. They had forgotten all about their past because of the memory loss brought on by using the Guardian Forces. They decide to go back to the orphanage, only to find out that Galbadia Garden has arrived there first. They prepare for an assault on the Garden, now under the control of Edea and Seifer. Squall and his friends eventually manage to infiltrate Galbadia Garden where they confront and defeat Seifer, and finally defeat Sorceress Edea herself.
Edea returns to her normal state of mind in surprise. She reveals she had been possessed by a sorceress from the distant future named Ultimecia, and that up until now they had been fighting against Ultimecia inside Edea's "shell." In the battle's aftermath, Ultimecia takes possession of Rinoa, rendering her comatose. Ultimecia embraced and revived the unconscious Seifer, and ordered him to raise the Lunatic Pandora from beneath the ocean. The SeeDs return to the orphanage to speak with Edea about Ultimecia. It is through this conversation with Edea that they learn of Ultimecia's plans for time compression.
A Sorceress from the FutureEdit
Overcome by emotion, Squall realizes he is in love with Rinoa and will do anything to bring her back. Having found out Ellone is the one who has been sending him and his friends back in time to inhabit Laguna in the form of dreams, he wants to seek out Ellone and have her send him back in time so he can stop Rinoa from becoming comatose. Squall and his friends learn Ellone has gone to the hidden nation of Esthar and Edea joins the party to Esthar due to her fear that Ultimecia may possess her again. Squall carries an unconscious Rinoa on his back through the Salt Flats, where the party discovers Esthar is cloaked behind a massive shield. In Esthar, Dr. Odine tells Squall where he can find Ellone. At the Lunar Gate, the party launches into outer space to Esthar's Lunar Base. The Lunar Base confines Sorceress Adel, who once ruled Esthar.
Once the party is on the Lunar Base, Ultimecia takes possession of Rinoa's body and forces her way through those who might stop her. Back on the ground, Zell's party is shocked to see a massive black pillar rise from the ocean and appear over Esthar. The pillar, known as the Lunatic Pandora, was created by Esthar to artificially trigger an event known as the Lunar Cry, where countless monsters fall to the planet from the Moon. Seifer engineered the unearthing of Lunatic Pandora as part of Ultimecia's plan. In Rinoa's body, Ultimecia goes into outer space and destroys the seal on Adel, who returns to the Lunatic Pandora. Ultimecia then abandons Rinoa's body in space to enter Adel's.
Squall goes after Rinoa, and rescues her from death in outer space. They escape on the lost spaceship Ragnarok, which had been floating in orbit near the Lunar Base. Rinoa is now deemed a sorceress, and Esthar demands she be handed over to custody, as she poses a threat to the world. Rinoa agrees to go with them, but Squall cannot bear it, and rescues her before she is sealed away. The party prepares to head to the Lunatic Pandora to rescue Ellone, who Seifer had captured to further Ultimecia's plan.
The party discusses Ultimecia's plan with Dr. Odine. Ellone's ability to send the consciousnesses of others into different eras of time had been used by Dr. Odine at some point in the future to create the Junction Machine Ellone. Ultimecia is using the Junction Machine to reach back in time to connect and take over the bodies of sorceresses so that she could exist in all eras of time. However, the machine has limitations in regard to how far it can send a consciousness back in time. Thus, it had become Ultimecia's goal to find the real Ellone, so that her consciousness would simultaneously exist in the past, present and future. With her mind present in all eras of time, Ultimecia would finally be able to achieve time compression and become an omnipotent deity able to fully control all time, space and existence.
With these revelations, Squall and his friends quickly form a plan with Laguna, now the President of Esthar, and Dr. Odine, to stop Ultimecia. The plan is to wait for Ultimecia to possess Adel. The group would then defeat Adel, so she would pass her powers onto Rinoa, making her the only sorceress left in the present era who Ultimecia could exist within. With Ultimecia inside Rinoa, Ellone would send both of their minds into the distant past, allowing Ultimecia to cast time compression. Ellone would then bring back both of their consciousnesses and send them back to their respective eras, which would temporarily stop the spell.
After discussing the plan to stop Ultimecia with Squall and his friends, Laguna gives information about the only way to survive in a universe of compressed time. In order to survive, Squall and his friends would have to keep their bonds strong by remembering each other and thinking of a place they are all connected to and want to travel to. They would then be able to survive through time compression, and with their love and faith in each other make it to Ultimecia's future and defeat her.
Endgame - Fate's ClosingEdit
With the plan to defeat Ultimecia prepared, the party travels to the Lunatic Pandora and confront Seifer. Fujin and Raijin try to convince Seifer to stop serving Ultimecia and go back to being their friend. Seifer ignores their pleas and does battle with Squall and his comrades. After Seifer is defeated, he captures Rinoa, and offers her to Ultimecia (now in the body of Adel).
Ultimecia junctions Rinoa to Adel's body. Squall and his comrades fight Ultimecia (as Adel), and defeat Adel's body. As Ultimecia's possession of Adel ends, Adel passes on her Sorceress Power to Rinoa setting the plan into motion. With no other vessel to exist within, Ultimecia possesses Rinoa, allowing Ellone to send Ultimecia's and Rinoa's minds into the past. With her mind in all eras, Ultimecia casts time compression, though it is temporarily halted when Ellone sends her mind back to the future era.
However, the partially compressed time allowed Squall and his friends travel to the future and finally reach Ultimecia Castle. In the future, the party finds a dark world ruled by Ultimecia. The corpses of White SeeD members are found around her castle, causing Squall to state that SeeD has been fighting Ultimecia across generations. After many grueling battles in which the party must reclaim their sealed abilities, Ultimecia is finally confronted. The final confrontation between Ultimecia and SeeD is an epic battle that shifts through the fabric of time and space.
Ultimecia attacks with an array of abilities including reaching into Squall's mind and creating Griever, a Guardian Force created from Squall's idea of the most powerful force that could exist. After Squall and his friends triumph over Griever, Ultimecia junctions herself to Griever to increase her power. After she is again bested Ultimecia transforms into her ultimate form to complete time compression.
Ultimecia begins absorbing all time, space and existence into herself, merging with it in order to become an omnipotent "living god[dess]". Ultimecia even reaches into her own mind to create Apocalypse, the ultimate Black Magic spell. However, her fated destiny, as well as the links that bound Squall, Rinoa, Quistis, Zell, Selphie and Irvine, prove to be too much for Ultimecia to overcome. Ultimecia collapses in a massive explosion that emanates across space.
After Ultimecia's collapse, time starts to revert back into its original form as Squall and his friends must find their way back to their own time. Ultimecia and Squall end up traveling back in time to Edea's orphanage, to a time when Squall was only a child and the Garden hadn't been built yet. Squall witnesses Ultimecia passing her powers on to the Edea of the past before she fades away. Squall speaks with Edea and mentions Garden and the SeeD. Edea is puzzled as she's never heard of them, and Squall realizes he has traveled too far back in time and enters back into the compressed time.
Squall finds himself in a featureless, desert-like state of limbo that is gradually slipping into nothingness. Squall tries to concentrate on Rinoa to make his way back home, but unable to recall his memories of Rinoa's face, Squall resigns himself to his fate of being trapped in this dimension. In the present era, Rinoa waiting for Squall at the flower field at Edea's Orphanage where they had promised to meet if ever parted. Possibly using her sorceress powers, Rinoa is able to jump back to the time compressed world, where she finds Squall unconscious on the ground and brings him back to the real world.
The ending cutscenes reveal the fates of the various characters. Seifer is shown to have abandoned his dream of becoming a SeeD and is spending his days in the company of Fujin and Raijin in Balamb Town; though his satisfied smile as Balamb Garden passes overhead suggests he has accepted his fate and moved on. Laguna visits Raine's grave in the hills outside Winhill where he recalls his memory of proposing to her, while Ellone, Kiros and Ward watch on at a distance.
The main party reunites at Balamb Garden for a celebration party, where it is shown Edea has reverted back to her old self. Irvine and Selphie use a video camera to document the party, though Squall is nowhere to be seen and the camera runs out of batteries. After the credits, a short scene shows Rinoa gazing at the stars from the balcony of Balamb Garden. A shooting star streaks overhead, and Rinoa points it out, not unlike her first meeting with Squall. Squall looks at Rinoa and smiles for the first time in the game. Squall and Rinoa share a kiss as Balamb Garden ascends through the moonlit sky.
Final Fantasy VIII strives for thematic combination of fantasy and realism. To this end, Yoshinori Kitase has mentioned he aimed the characters to appear like ordinary people, and Final Fantasy VIII was the first Final Fantasy game to have realistically proportioned characters — a departure from the super deformed designs used in the previous titles. The game locations were designed to resemble real world locations, rental cars and trains are used as a method of travel in-game instead of the use of more fantasy-like vehicles, and to enhance the feeling of realism, motion capture technology was used to give the characters lifelike movements. Different nations and factions in Final Fantasy VIII have their own flags, their designs based on the country/group's history and culture.
Final Fantasy VIII was designed to be bright and fresh in feel, an inversion of atmosphere from the previous two games, Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII, that both had dark settings reflected in both the characters and world design. This decision manifests in the location designs in the use of "bright and fresh" colors, such as the aquamarine and pink design of Balamb Garden or the overall design of Esthar, and even war-ravaged and poor locations such as the destroyed Trabia Garden are displayed as sunny, vibrant and lively, as opposed to the shadowy oppressed slum atmosphere present in Final Fantasy VII.
This strive for light and bright feel, however, can conflict with the actual plot events and the characters can appear indifferent and unable to react to tragic events with the seriousness one would expect them to exhibit; for example, after Rinoa has become comatose only Squall appears worried about her, whereas the others remain their cheerful selves, even when Rinoa and her condition is the topic of discussion. Still, one can identify a running theme within the game: Dealing with the aftermath of war and tragedy and how people continue on despite of it.
The story of Final Fantasy VIII focuses on Squall Leonhart, his love interest Rinoa Heartilly and a small group of Squall's friends and rival. Though each character starts as something different from what they end up becoming, they all share a common background (except for Rinoa, whose background ties to only that of Squall), and it is the discovery of this fact that becomes the turning point for the motivations of the characters.
The story of Final Fantasy VIII concentrates heavily on the main character of Squall Leonhart; whereas in Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII most characters have some playable scenario or side quests of their own, the characters in Squall's party are shown in more of a supportive role. To strengthen the main character's role the player has less control over his actions in the form of dialogue choices, and as a unique feature in the series, the player is able to see the main character's thoughts communicated via transparent text boxes.
The story ultimately is a coming of age one, with a group of orphans training to become remorseless mercenaries. The events of the game function as a way for the characters to grow, regain their lost memories and to become heroes by fulfilling their fate in vanquishing a greater evil. A major theme in the game's storyline is fate and predestination. The game's villain, Ultimecia, is aware of the prophecy of how she would meet her end at the hands of the "legendary SeeD", and in order to escape her fate, pursues time compression, which would make her the all-ruling God of the universe.
Unknown to her, however, time compression is what allows the "legendary SeeD" to reach her and destroy her for good. Garden and SeeD exist solely to train these "legendary SeeDs" to one day fight Ultimecia, as per Edea's encounter with Squall in the game's ending, but Squall himself has no knowledge of his role until the end. In keeping with the theme of fate, the characters are often displaced through time in the roles of Laguna, Kiros and Ward, thus being able to "live" through past history, although never having the power to actually change what has been.
However, Ellone (whose power allows the characters to travel in time) touches this subject once, when she explains to Squall that although one can't change the course of events through her ability, they are able to learn and grow through these experiences, bringing again the theme of the importance of growth, and learning from the past to achieve a brighter future.
- Main article: Final Fantasy VIII: Original Soundtrack
The game's soundtrack was Nobuo Uematsu's 23rd work for Square. Released on four Compact Discs by DigiCube in Japan, and by Square EA in North America, a special orchestral arrangement of selected tracks from the game (arranged by Shirō Hamaguchi) was released under the title FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC: Final Fantasy VIII, and a collection of piano arrangements (performed by Shinko Ogata) was released under the title Piano Collections: Final Fantasy VIII.
The Final Fantasy VIII theme song, "Eyes on Me", which Uematsu wrote and produced for Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong, sold a record-breaking 400,000 copies, placing it as the best-selling video game music disc ever released in Japan until the release of "Hikari" by Hikaru Utada for Kingdom Hearts. It won "Song of the Year (Western Music)" at the 14th Annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1999, the first time a song from a video game ever won the honor.
Another popular song from the score of Final Fantasy VIII is "Liberi Fatali," a Latin choral piece played during the game's intro. The sorceress theme "FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC" was mixed with "Liberi Fatali" and played during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens during the women's synchronized swimming event.
The Black Mages, a band that arranged music from Final Fantasy video games into a rock music, arranged five pieces from Final Fantasy VIII. These are "Force Your Way" from The Black Mages published in 2003, "The Man with the Machine Gun" and "Maybe I'm a Lion", from The Skies Above, published in 2004, and "The Extreme" and "Premonition" from Darkness and Starlight.
|Yoshitaka Amano's renditions of Squall and Seifer, though not representative of their in game appearances, still show their visual similarities, most noticeably the scars across both character's faces, each given by the other in battle.|
Final Fantasy VIII follows Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII in displaying a world with high technology, diverging from the more traditional medieval feel of the original titles. Final Fantasy VIII diverges further still by focusing the story on the characters instead of the world events. Character designer Tetsuya Nomura wanted the game to have a "school days" feel. Because Yoshinori Kitase already had a story in mind in which the main characters were the same age, the idea worked. Thus, they created the concept of military school-like academies in which the students would train to become mercenaries.
Further on, Nojima planned for the two playable parties featured in the game - Squall's present day group and Laguna's group of twenty years in the past - to contrast with one another. Leading to Laguna's group consisting of characters in their late twenties and have a lot of combat and teamwork experience while Squall's party was young and inexperienced, and Squall himself not initially able to understand the value of friendship.
With Final Fantasy VII, the main protagonist, Cloud Strife, had a reserved nature that led Nojima to include scenarios in which the player can select Cloud's responses to certain situations and dialogue. With Final Fantasy VIII, Nojima wanted to give players actual insight into what the protagonist was thinking and feeling, even while the other characters remained uninformed. This led to Squall's "internal monologues" that appear in transparent text boxes throughout the game.
Kitase also expressed desire to give the game a deliberately foreign, largely European atmosphere. As part of this theme various designs were created using the style of ancient Egyptian and Greek architecture as well as styles from the cities of France and idealized European societies seen in various artworks. Additionally, Kitase explained that the game's logo - Squall and Rinoa embracing - was inspired by the team's efforts to express emotion through body language.
This aim was also referred throughout the game; utilizing the game models to physically display their emotions and actions alongside the text boxes as well as using updated CG full motion videos, which were far more advanced in detail than any Final Fantasy game that had come previously, to convey a kind of 'silent movie' operatic atmosphere that didn't rely on words to convey their meaning.
In terms of character artwork, Final Fantasy VIII reflected Nomura's preferred technique at the time, as opposed to Final Fantasy VII, which featured characters that "weren't really his style." The team had decided to use realistically proportioned characters; the higher level of full motion video technology would have otherwise created an inconsistency between the in-game graphics and the higher definition full motion video graphics. After Final Fantasy VII was finished the development team thought players would feel something is off with the difference in proportion between the character models in battle and on the field, and so in Final Fantasy VIII the character proportions on the field and battle were kept the same.
Nomura ended up altering each of the characters in some way before they reached the final design stage, which required sacrificing his original intentions. For instance, he had originally wanted Seifer to be involved in a love triangle with Rinoa and Squall. As another example Quistis was originally going to be designed with a short skirt, but in the end was given a long skirt worn over pants. Rinoa was originally planned to wear a mini-skirt over shorts, but this led to a conflict as he wished to have at least one female lead wearing a skirt; a compromise was made in this regard with Selphie's design: she was originally intended to be wearing overalls, but Nomura eventually decided that her outfit should be something of a combination of the two, resulting in her overalls-skirt look.
Final Fantasy VIII was the second Final Fantasy game to be ported to a Windows platform. It has been released on December 31, 1999 and re-released on December 5, 2013 for Steam.
Similar to Final Fantasy VII, the re-release version comes with the Magic Booster feature that allows the player to boost their characters' magics to 100. Achievements and cloud save data storage are also available. Windowed mode and high resolution displays (up to 1920x1080 @ 60Hz) are now supported. However, the game still uses the original midi songs from the 1999 version, rather than the PlayStation version music, unlike the 2012 re-released Final Fantasy VII that has received a musical update. Chocobo World is playable directly from the launcher after booting up Final Fantasy VIII.
Sales and ReceptionEdit
At the time of its release Final Fantasy VIII received positive reviews and was commercially successful. After its North American release, Square Electronic Arts announced Final Fantasy VIII had sold near unprecedented amount of units. The game was the number one selling video game in the United States across all videogame software categories and remained on the top spot for three weeks. Final Fantasy VIII grossed a total of more than $50 million in the 13 weeks to follow, making it the fastest-selling Final Fantasy title at the time. In Japan it sold more than 3.3 million units within the first month of release and more than 6 million units were sold by the end of 1999. As of March 31, 2003, the game had shipped 8.15 million copies worldwide: 3.7 million in Japan and 4.45 million overseas.
At the time, Final Fantasy VIII was generally viewed as a leap forward from Final Fantasy VII in terms of graphics, but many criticized the junction system as being overly complicated. Many critics praised the game's storyline, but some found it inconsistent in quality and that some plot twists were too sudden with not enough setting up beforehand, leaving players feeling indifferent, although many also praised the game's character development and called Final Fantasy VIII the pinnacle of the RPG genre. In 2002, IGN named Final Fantasy VIII the seventh best title for the PlayStation of all time, placing higher on the list than Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy VIII was voted by Famitsu readers as the 22nd best game of all time in 2006 , and was named one of the 20 essential Japanese role-playing games by Gamasutra, stating "There's a lot that Final Fantasy VIII does wrong, but there's even more that it does right".
|Executive Producer||Hironobu Sakaguchi|
|Main Programmer||Ken Narita|
|Battle System Designer||Hiroyuki Itou|
|Character Design / Battle Visual Director||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Art Director||Yusuke Naora|
|Scenario Writer||Kazushige Nojima|
|Image Illustration||Yoshitaka Amano|
|Movie Director||Motonori Sakakibara|
|Movie Character Director||Hiroshi Kuwabara|
|Character Modeling Director||Tomohiro Kayano|
|Real‑Time Polygon Director||Akira Fujii|
|Battle Effect Director||Shintaro Takai|
|Motion Director||Tatsuya Kando|
|Card Game Director / Battle Camera Director||Takayoshi Nakazato|
|Lead Field Designer||Kazuyuki Ikumori, Kenzo Kanzaki, Yukio Natakani, Tetsuya Takahashi|
|Event Script Programmer||Shun Moriya|
|Battle Programmer||Hiroshi Harata, Kentarow Yasui|
|Event Director||Hiroki Chiba|
|Map Director||Takeshi Endo, Masaru Oka|
|World Map Director||Ikuya Dobashi|
|Sound Programmer||Minoru Akao|
|Sound Editor||Eiji Nakamura|
|General Manager||Yuji Shibata|
|Localization Director||Aiko Ito|
|Coordination Director||Tchie Tokoro|
|Localization Engineer||Richard Mark Honeywood|
|Marketing Managers||Akira Kaneko, Yasuhiro Suzuki|
|Assistant Manager||Tomomi Nishigaki|
|Localization Assistant||Yuichi Yamada|
|Square Soft, Inc.|
|Localization Management||Masahiro Nakajima|
|Editors||Brian Bell, Richard Amtower IV|
|Associate Producer||Akihito Kozu|
|Square Electronic Arts L.L.C.|
|Senior Customer Service Manager||Rick Thompson|
|Vice Chairman||Yoshihiro Maruyama|
|Special Thanks||Hideo Yotsuya, Lynn Biscoe, Beeline Group Inc., The Kenwood Group, Saatchi & Saatchi, C.H.E.N. PR|
- To date, Final Fantasy VIII has the highest number of Star Wars-inspired names, including Biggs and Wedge, Nida, Piet and Martine, who is named Dodonna in the Japanese version.
- Final Fantasy VIII is the first game in the series that allows the player to name summons.
- Final Fantasy VIII is the first game in the series where Ramuh is not present as the Lightning-elemental summon. He is replaced by Quezacotl.
- Final Fantasy VIII is the first game in which all enemies have a death animation before they fade away.
- During Ultimecia's (as Edea) parade in Deling City, the masked dancers are performing the dance moves from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video.
- Final Fantasy VIII is parodied in the Dreamcast game Segagaga, where it is called Final Pharmacy VIII.
- In the first Charlie's Angels movie, in the scene when Dylan approaches a house for clothes, there are two kids inside vigorously button mashing and moving while playing Final Fantasy VIII. Infamously for fans, both kids hold controllers despite the fact the game has no two-player mode, and there are no sequences in which such button mashing would be required (except maybe for when using the boost mode for summons).
- The game's demo uses a track called "Raid on Dollet" for the Dollet invasion. The game's final version does not use that track and it was never released on any official soundtrack album. It is unknown why the track was scrapped, although a widespread theory is that it was removed for legal reasons due to heavy similarities with the song "Hummel Gets the Rockets", composed by Hans Zimmer from the movie The Rock.
- Final Fantasy in Popular Culture
- Final Fantasy VIII Demo
- Final Fantasy VIII Technical Demo for the PS2
- Final Fantasy VIII Allusions
- Final Fantasy VIII Timeline
- Final Fantasy VIII Wallpapers
- ↑ Weekly Famitsu Issue no. 1224 Yoshinori Kitase Interview translated by TheLifestream.net
- ↑ Final Fantasy VIII Tops Videogame Charts
- ↑ FF8 Breaks Sales Records
- ↑ Final Fantasy VIII Is Out!
- ↑ http://www.square-enix.com/jp/ir/e/explanatory/download/0404-200402090000-01.pdf#page=27
- ↑ Japan Votes on All Time Top 100
- ↑ A Japanese RPG Primer: The Essential 20
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