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Friday, December 14, 2012

Final Fantasy 8: That Penultimate Fabrication we all love to hate

If a game series could have a quarter life crisis, Final Fantasy 8 would be that sad, bitchy 20 something with a chip on his shoulder that no one seems to understand. Back when FF8 was 7, he was cool; just old enough to hit the bars and get into some real shit trouble. He had the cool haircut, spent all his time at the cyber punk gym, and was always caught up in some drama with the ladies.

Then he turned 8, and everything went downhill. 8 finds himself with a job, responsibilities  no ladies, and some crappy friends who seriously don't give a damn about what he's whining about this time.

"What??? When did bro necklaces become not okay?
 So what happened here? Why is FF8 generally regarded as perhaps the worst in the series? (Please note: until further notice, the 'series' ends with FFX. To my knowledge, no FF game has been released since.) The first reason may be as simple as the game play. The Stock/Draw system of magic was, at first, easily confusing and then just as easily exploitable when understood. Spending half an hour on the beach stocking water spells before heading over to Dollet makes the game significantly easier. Outside of that though, the gameplay is solid (read: the same as all FF gameplay).

I think the primary reason for the distaste for this red-headed stepchild is nothing more than the issue of timing. Final Fantasy 7 was released at the perfect time, when steampunk and evil corporations and outrageously disproportionate swords were pretty much the coolest thing I could imagine. Not saying that FF8 didnt have some hella sweet stuff going on (remember that bad ass spider robot shit?), I just had to wade through hours of Squall's seemingly endless whining to get to the next awesome scene.

So I played through the game quite begrudgingly. Whine whine whine nuclear missle crisis whine whine orphan whine whine resistance whine whine whine who the fuck is this last boss, again?

Timing. FF8 is not meant to be an action filled, Japanese Michael Bay movie and it's unfortunate that I was expecting that after FF7. Years later, I returned to FF8 out of boredom. I hit the threshold where I hadn't played the game in a long time, so it was basically new to me. The most surprising thing was it was an entirely different story. 

See, in 1999, I had no real problems. Sure, there were exams and crap, but no actual problems. Playing through the game in college, I found I could appreciate the story on a deeper level and unhappily being able to relate to Squall. When you take a step back, Squall goes through the real shit in this game. 1999 Alex perceived these problems as nothing more than hating school and not being able to get a girlfriend. 2007 Alex realizes this isn't a story about teenage angst, but about loneliness. 

Squall, albeit in an overly Japanese/emo way, depicts loneliness is a unique way. Unlike other games where the player is physically alone, Squall exhibits a human who is surrounded by people, yet can't bring himself to trust or rely on any of them. 

5 comments:

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    1. Appreciate it, man. If you guys have any games or topics you'd like to see me ramble aimlessly about, let me know.

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  2. There are numerous problems with 8 that don't always outweigh the numerous positives. I still hate the final boss deeply.

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    1. ^^ Yes. So much yes. I still don't understand who/what the dude was and why all of a sudden I broke all the Space/Time Continuums. I think I just summoned EDEN and boosted the GF while making a sandwich that whole boss fight.

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