Two decades after it initially debuted, Final Fantasy 8 is getting the attention it deserves. A remastered version of the title, appropriately named Final Fantasy 8 Remastered, is set to arrive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on September 3 with HD visuals, new speed options, and an option to skip random encounters. As great as all the new bells and whistles sound, there’s no denying that Final Fantasy 8 is a great game as is. The following are a few reasons why the title remains such a memorable experience today. Just be warned as there are slight spoilers ahead in the first two sections.
Why Final Fantasy 8 Remastered Is Worth Playing in 2019 | Its story and themes
Though most Final Fantasy titles task players with journeying to one set piece to the next, taking down all sorts of imposing bosses along the way, Final Fantasy 8 sets itself apart by dialing down the action. While players are tasked with assassinating political leaders and evading missile strikes early on, they’ll find that the game chooses to focus on character development in its latter half. Here, the title doesn’t shy away from discussing serious topics like child abandonment and militarism. Rather, it slowly morphs into a story about learning to live in an imperfect world.
Time plays a thematic role in the game, as it has Squall and his squad mates grow from their trauma in order to become better people. Players are forced to come to terms with these scars face-to-face via time travel and flashbacks. It’s easy to perceive the flow of time as an enemy in Final Fantasy 8, given Ultimecia’s goal of compressing all of time in order to become a god. However, the title does a good job explaining that time can also be a great thing, as it helps us move on and build better versions of ourselves. It’s hard to find messages that are as profound in other video games, let alone other entries in the franchise.
Why Final Fantasy 8 Remastered Is Worth Playing in 2019 | Its admirable cast
It’s easy to write-off Final Fantasy 8‘s protagonist, Squall Leonhart, as a carbon copy of Final Fantasy 7‘s Cloud Strife, as the two young men both have sullen, aloof personalities. However, upon further inspection, one may discover that Squall differs from Cloud and most other Final Fantasy characters in that he’s riddled with self-doubt. Squall’s thoughts throughout the game indicate that although he’s judgmental of other people, he’s most critical of himself, refusing to believe other people’s compliments and failing to see the value his comrades see in him. He’s not unlike a normal, introverted teenage boy, as he struggles to find his identity among his peers.
While Rinoa Heartilly isn’t as dynamic as Squall, she’s more than just the protagonist’s main love interest. She’s uncompromising in how she deals with the hero, insisting that he open up a little more with his squad mates in order to make their mission a little easier. When Rinoa enters a coma, Squall realizes how much he needs her. The old adage that claims “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” finds merit through Squall and Rinoa’s relationship. Seeing their bond grow and change throughout the course of Final Fantasy 8 shows what love can do to a person if he or she is courageous enough to let someone in.
Final Fantasy 8‘s other two female leads, Quistis Trepe and Selphie Tilmitt, are also noteworthy, as both attempt to overcome their insecurity and childhood trauma in different ways. Witnessing both characters evolve to become confident, strong women by the game’s conclusion is inspiring, to say the least. Few other Final Fantasy games feature female character arcs that are as remarkable.
Why Final Fantasy 8 Remastered Is Worth Playing in 2019 | The Junction system
Final Fantasy 8‘s Junction system is one of the most novel aspects of the title. While turn-based battles remain a core aspect of the gameplay, this mechanic forces players to collect magic from enemies, items, and draw points in order to build their stats and grow stronger. While fans can level up and upgrade their weapons like they do in other entries, the Junction system is essential for anyone who plans on defeating the game’s final boss, as it’s nearly impossible to take her down without properly allocating magic points and taking advantage of the bonuses available for each character’s statistic.
The Junction system may seem convoluted to the uninitiated, but the degree of customization and flexibility it affords is impressive. It’s unlike anything any other title in the genre has offered since 1999, staying in line with the franchise’s tradition of regularly offering something fresh and new from a gameplay perspective.
Why Final Fantasy 8 Remastered Is Worth Playing in 2019 | Triple Triad
Of course, no Final Fantasy 8 article would be complete without mention of the title’s addictive mini-game Triple Triad. The overall goal of the game is simple: capture the opponent’s cards by turning them into the player’s color. What makes Triple Triad so fun is that its rules differ depending on what region its being played in. Furthermore, the NPCs scattered throughout Final Fantasy 8‘s world vary in difficulty, forcing dedicated card game aficionados to backtrack once they’ve found better cards in the wild or through side quests.
It’s easy to understand why Triple Triad was brought back in Final Fantasy XIV, as obtaining rarer cards and taking on challenging foes is a rewarding experience. The mini-game even has its own dedicated app for people who want to sharpen their skills on the go.
Players who have yet to try this classic out can do so on the modern platform of their choice real soon. Using an Australian Shepard dog named Angelo as a weapon or battling an evil sorceress in space are two experiences that truly need to be seen in order to be believed. Final Fantasy 8 embraces its absurdity head-on but still wears its heart on its sleeve, which is precisely why it remains one of the most unforgettable Final Fantasy games so far.