Tag Archives: final fantasy viii remastered

Returning To Final Fantasy VIII After 20 Years Is Letting Me Resolve Childhood Shame

Photo: Square Enix
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I vividly remember when Final Fantasy VIII came out in February 1999. I coveted it for months but didn’t get it until October for my 11th birthday. It was my first Japanese role-playing game ever. I struggled desperately just to get through its opening moments of tutorials and text walls and Y2K CD-Rom-ass menus. I was waiting for a fight where I had to run around and throw grenades into tanks. Ultimately, I resigned to give up and just watch my older brother play, leaving JRPGs untouched for years thereafter. Revisiting Final Fantasy VIII as an adult, after years of recovering with other role-playing games, has been revitalizing: It’s actually fun this time.

When the remaster was announced, I had to prepare myself to revisit some old trauma. In addition to not being able to get through its opening hours, I accidentally deleted my older brother’s save off the memory card one night after he’d just gotten to the third of four discs. So this game is cursed not just for me but for the whole Tamayo family. He never picked up the game again.

I distinctly remember spending way too long in the first testing sequence where mercenary Squall acquires the Guardian force Ifrit, a fire beast, by successfully battling him alongside his instructor Quistis. I could not figure out how to manage the menus and the rhythm of the battle. In little-kid time, this took me days to figure out. I then moved on to the first actual field mission, where I stopped and left the original for good.

In the time since, I’ve played dozens of other role-playing games, including other games in the Final Fantasy series. I racked up a lot of experience leading up to the moment this morning when I reached the same place I gave up as a kid. I reached the field mission, put my Switch to sleep, and got off at my subway stop. I was able to complete all this in under an hour of grown-man time.

The feeling of returning to this game and actually understanding how to flow through it is incredible. It’s like I’m finally able to get a tiny bit of closure. And honestly, the fast-forward feature is helping a lot. Finally getting what used to be such an impossible game for me and finishing something I started 20 years ago is empowering. Plus, we’ve got cloud saves now, so maybe I’ll pick up a copy for my brother too.

Source: Kotaku.com

Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad Is Why I Love Card Games

Image: Square Enix
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is finally here, which means I can continue my long and storied history of never actually finishing Final Fantasy VIII because I am too busy playing Triple Triad. It’s a whole thing: I get a copy of Final Fantasy VIII, immediately start playing the in-game card game more than anything else, and then tragedy strikes. My disc gets scratched, or my save file is lost, or I need to clear hard drive space, or one of hundreds of other games demand my attention. Nevertheless, I love Triple Triad, and it’s a big reason I’m into card games in the first place.

Triple Triad is a card game you can play in Final Fantasy VIII that’s kind of like dominoes. Each player assembles a hand of five cards to use for the entire game and takes turns placing them on a 3×3 grid. Every card has four numbers from 0-9, one for each edge of the card. You want to place cards so their values are higher than they cards they’re played next to, causing opponents’ cards to be flipped while protecting your own cards. It’s extremely simple, and extremely satisfying.

But Final Fantasy VIII also makes Triple Triad incredibly rewarding to play not just because it’s a good in-game diversion but by seamlessly integrating it into the game’s world. Just about everyone in Final Fantasy VIII plays Triple Triad. The game has a button dedicated to asking other characters if they want to play, and most of them say yes. Each region of the game world has its own rules variants, so playing in Balamb, where the game starts, is slightly different than playing in places you visit later on. Regional house rules in a fictional card game are the sort of thing that makes a world feel alive and worth spending time in. There are side quests that stem from playing Triple Triad, and unrelated side quest goals can be achieved through playing Triple Triad. It gives the world texture.

Card games’ design constraints are compelling—small rectangles with one side only you can see, and one side everyone else can see. You can only fit so much information on a card, and you can fit even less when you try to make the card itself nice to look at, with beautiful art.

How card games solve for these constraints fascinates me. When digital card games like Triple Triad replicate physical card games successfully despite missing out on some of their primary appeals—their wonderful tacticlity, the satisfaction that comes with amassing a collection or admiring a well-constructed hand or deck—I feel a rush.

I love deck-building video games lots—and deck-building tabletop games too—but I wouldn’t have even tried them before Triple Triad showed me how fun they could be, how easy to slip into and suddenly become obsessive over. I never got into Magic: The Gathering or any of the fad collectible card games that spread in my youth, so for a long time card games for me were just limited to the kind of games you could play with a regular poker deck.

Final Fantasy VIII changed that. Even though I still, hilariously, have not finished it (I hope to someday soon) it still managed to make my world a little bit bigger, richer, and more varied. Now I love card games of all stripes, and can’t get enough of them.

Source: Kotaku.com

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered Is The Best Way Ever To Play Final Fantasy VIII

After years of its suspicious absence from Square Enix’s unstoppable barrage of ports and re-releases, Final Fantasy VIII has emerged remastered for all consoles (and PC). This is the best version of the game that has ever existed. Watch me play it for 47 minutes, while discussing 20 years’ worth of crystallized thoughts about the game.

For example: I argue somewhat passionately that you should not use the fast-forward function.

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is even better than the original. I noticed a peculiar trend in YouTube comments on the debut trailer Square Enix showed at E3 2019: “The graphics look exactly the same,” many commenters said. They absolutely do not. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered keeps the original’s fuzzy JPEG backgrounds, though its 3D models are butter for the eyes.

(Below is a brief video featuring an artist’s rendition of me owning haters in YouTube comments.)

I think what a lot of the commenters were driving at was that, yes, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is not on the level of graphical upgrade of Final Fantasy VII Remake. This is because it’s a remaster, not a remake. (As it says in the title.)

I do understand where those commenters are coming from, though. In 1999, when Rinoa told Squall “You’re the best-looking guy here,” we role-playing-game-lovers hunkering in front of dull CRT televisions barely noticed his face was a clump of hideous pixels. We had no idea what a meme was, much less that this screen would eventually become one.

By that point in the game—about three hours in, if you mosey a bit—it had hooked us completely. We were so in the zone that Rinoa’s words filled in the gaps in our imaginations. We knew Squall was a good-looking guy. We remembered him from the hours-ago two-minute anime-music-video-like opening movie. We’d probably watched that opening movie about 90 times.

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered keeps the fuzzy, barely animated background JPEGs. It keeps the aspect ratio. It keeps the original full motion video quality. Then it gives us wonderfully, lovingly new 3D models. In their geometry, these models are identical to those in the 1999 PlayStation original. In their texture detail, they are identical to our fond memories of the 1999 PlayStation original.

In this video, I admit that I didn’t really like Final Fantasy VIII when I first played it. Ten years after it first came out, I played it again and thoroughly enjoyed it. It takes so many bizarre risks with its game design, structure, and plotting.

As I say in the conclusion of my video, the original creators of the Final Fantasy series often regale us with the anecdote of the desperation with which they developed that initial game. According to their legend, Squaresoft only had the money to make one more game. If it didn’t hit, they were dead. It hit. They lived.

Final Fantasy VIII arrived two years after Final Fantasy VII busted blocks worldwide. At the time of Final Fantasy VIII’s release, Squaresoft was developing the next three numbered Final Fantasy games. They were also financing and producing a Final Fantasy feature film all on their own. As far as video game development goes, this is a level of ambition whose modern-day equivalent I can’t immediately think of.

Final Fantasy IX, X, XI, and the movie would offer a rich platter of something for everyone. Final Fantasy VIII was thus destined to come across as “The Final Fantasy That Came Out After Final Fantasy VII.”

Now that I’m able to look back at it so crystal-clearly 20 years later, I deeply admire its creative risks. If the spirit of Final Fantasy as a franchise has always been, as its creators say, reinvention with every numbered installment, Final Fantasy VIII represents the absolute zenith of old-fashioned Final Fantasy.

I’ll admit, as a 20-year-old, I rushed through it. It was hard for me to like the protagonist, Squall. The very first character we meet aside from this tough-guy-wannabe teenage protagonist is his slightly older teacher who sees right through his cold exterior and mocks his tough-guy dialogue affectations not five text boxes into the game. It felt embarrassing; it felt to me, then, like reading my old writing feels now.

I didn’t want to think about my dirtbag teen days at age 20 the way I don’t want to think about my dirtbag twenties at age 40.

Replaying the game in 2019, so far, has been a delight. I’m able to fully appreciate the oddball game design choices that me and my hardcore fellow Final Fantasy fanatic friend frowned at in 1999. The battles have a Bravely Default level of game-designerly, simplistic urgency that was sitting there all along, for 20 years, waiting for me to revisit it and appropriately freak out.

The card game, Triple Triad, is still amazing. The Triple Triad theme music is still amazing.

My video consists of eight chapters, each telling a different story about my time with the game. In one chapter, I talk about the game design. In another, I try to find the truth behind the rumor that Square Enix had lost the game’s source code.

The seventh of these chapters concerns a marketing campaign Squaresoft executed back in 1999: pre-order Final Fantasy VIII, and you could win a car. And not just any car: it was an exceptionally bland car. It was a 2000 Toyota Echo

In my mind, whenever people talk about the anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast, I immediately think of the 2000 Toyota Echo: in the magazine advertisement for the sweepstakes, the date “Available 9.9.99″ loudly begs the page-flipper’s attention.

I wanted to surprise you all: I wanted to find the person who won this car. I promise I tried as hard as I could.

I asked some people at Square Enix if they might know anything. They did not know anything. However, they knew some people who might.

I ended up spending more time on the phone in two months than I usually spend in a year.

Ultimately, I didn’t find the car. Though someone at Electronic Arts—with whom Square Enix had partnered to market Final Fantasy VIII in 1999—told me with confidence that the winner of the sweepstakes had almost certainly taken the $10,000 cash prize over the car.

I explain this in my video, though I thought it was worth telling you about in this text. What’s not worth telling you about in text, however, is my off-the-top-of-my-head musing about what cars other Final Fantasy protagonists might be. Please leave a thousand comments debating this topic, even if you don’t watch my video. (Watch my video, though, please. I tried to do an NPR voice this time.)

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered arrives on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 3rd—six days short of the game’s release’s 20th anniversary. It costs the exact appropriate amount: it costs a number of US cents equivalent to its release year. (I’m saying it’s $19.99.)

Don’t use the fast-forward function. Even for grinding. You’ll thank me 20 years from now.

By the way! If you personally liked, commented, and / or subscribed to our YouTube channel, that would definitely fuel my habit of making a lot more videos like this. I promise you might love it.

There’s even a playlist of all my other videos. Wow!

Source: Kotaku.com