Final Fantasy VIII marks the beginning of new category among the series. A whole new story about love, friendship, loyalty and strength. It was first released back in 1999 and I still have a huge temptation to play it more than once.
Even though it has a “school days” feeling, I got to give in for Squall’s gunblade and Irvine’s flirting comments.
Final Fantasy VIII follows Final Fantasy VI and VII in a high developed world, filled with advanced technology, but not forgetting the medieval style. With swords that shoot bullets and snipers that… shoot bullets.
The big difference from all the other plotlines in Final Fantasy, is that this one tries to focus as much as possible on each character backstory. You start with Squall Leonheart, an odd looking guy, with a bald atitude of avoiding as many people as he can due to past abandonment, and all you have to do, is to follow orders from the Balamb Garden’s headmaster. Garden’s are military schools that train students to become strong mercenaries known as SeeD’s, who help people all around the world.
You’ll end up fighting other Garden’s and later in the game, you’ll be watching two stories. One at a time of course… You’ll be able to play as Laguna, Loire, a Galbadian soldier who is playable during flashbacks as the main characters fall asleep. These two roles were planned by Kazushige Nojima. One set in the present, and the other 20 years in the past to highly contrast with each other.
The gameplay from Final Fantasy VIII is a lot more different than all the other titles. Guardian Forces (known as Eidolons, Summons, Espers) are the main summoning creatures and a lot more differences have been made to this game. With the implement of Junction, Draw, the new leveling system and the Mana/Magic Points have been taken off from it, so that this way, players would conserve all the magic either for battle use or junctioning.
In order to use Guardian Forces (abbreviated as GF) you’ll need to Junction them with your characters. You can junction as many as you wish or even none, but you might wanna do it so you can raise their battle status.
Junctioning GFs will let you add battle commands, increase your defensive and attacking status. You can also junction Magic to your weapons and increase its damage. Even adding an element boost, or even making you armor absorb any element.
The leveling system is also very unique. For each playable character, their experience needed to grow a level will increase as you level up, but, neither the enemies nor bosses have a level limit set. They’ll also grow as you grow up, and the experience received at the end of each battle will also increase. This way, it is even possible to get to the maximum level right from the start.
Limit Breaks make their comeback from Final Fantasy VII, but this time, they’re used in a different way. Instead of a Limit Bar which would fill as the opponent attacks you have to be as weak as possible to use the special attack. A Limit is triggered by low health, however the spell Aura increases the chance a Limit will be available even at full health. Each playable character has their own unique Limit Break, attune to their character style, and are accompanied by an interactive element which, when performed correctly, can increase the potency of the attack. Squall’s Renzokuken, Irvine’s Shot, and if used correctly, Zell’s Duel can be considered amongst the strongest Limit Breaks in the entire series.
The soundtrack is once again composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Themes like “Eyes on Me” become one of the top hits on Japan back in 1999. Produced and written by Uematsu, featuring Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong, sold more than 400 thousand copies.
Another sucesseful hit is “Liberi Fatali” played in the opening FMV, a Latin choral piece that was used at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens during the women’s synchronized swimming event.
One of my favorite theme songs is certainly Laguna’s battle song “The Man With a Machine Gun“.
Final Fantasy VIII was developed and published by Square Co., Ltd. for the Playstation on February 11 (Japan); September 9 (USA) October 27 (EU) in 1999 and later on, it was available for Windows on December 31, 1999 (USA) and March 23, 2000 (Japan).