Being one of the new guys around here, I thought I’d go ahead and get this out of the way early on, what with this being “No Shame November” and all: I love Final Fantasy VIII.
Final Fantasy VIII for the PlayStation (or PSOne) was actually my first Final Fantasy game. I had seen coverage of the others in gaming magazines and the like and briefly tried the hot mess that was Final Fantasy: Crystal Quest, but hadn’t really ever been intrigued enough to try it out… until VIII came along. Squall seemed to be a character I could relate to, with the whole “loner who pushes everyone away but desperately wants acceptance” thing. Plus, I really liked his gunblade. I mean, just look at it. Plausible in the real world? No way, but totally cool as hell.
I’ve bought this game at least four times. Twice as a physical copy, twice as a digital copy, including my most recent re-purchase so I could play it on my PS Vita. I know where to get all of the rare materials by heart, have the storyline memorized, and still get goosebumps when Squall and Rinoa first meet on disc one. I felt the romance was, well, more genuine than in Final Fantasy VII, where Cloud basically acts just like Squall toward both Tifa and Aerith, but for some reason he’s more liked. Must be the hair…
I also enjoyed the idea of stocking magic, then adding it to my stats. It made me feel like I was truly in control of my characters and how they developed. I also promptly ignored the hell out of Irvine, but paid for it when I found out the final boss fight has your party chosen at random. I don’t care who you are, even at level 100, he’s useless. A squirrel with a slingshot is more effective.
Anyway, Final Fantasy VII gets all the praise and adulation, while Final Fantasy VIII is seen as the black sheep of the franchise for some reason, but I like it anyway. Yes, I know the story has giant plot holes. Yes, I know Squall’s a giant jerk. Yes, yes, yes, I’ve heard all of the complaints, and yes they’re all valid.
Yet still, I love it, and I’ll probably end up buying it again somewhere down the road. Heck, I’d rather have an HD remake of it before VII, which I know is making me a whole lot of enemies right about now.
Editor’s Note/Opinion: Final Fantasy VI is far away the best in the series.