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Author Topic: Remembering the Orphan: Final Fantasy VIII  (Read 10076 times)
Jet16
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« on: June 17, 2009, 04:46:07 PM »

Kotaku posted a link to this article a few days back and I thought I'd bring it here for discussion.

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/70336-remembering-the-orphan-final-fantasy-viii/

I think the article has some good ideas, and it gives FFVIII some of the credit it deserves. The article actually shined a light on a few things I was muddy about with the game, of course this is due to the fact that the last time I played the game was at least 4 or 5 years ago. I can't even begin to remember what went through my mind when I played it on it's release at the age of eight. Reading this has given me incentive to go through the game now so that I can look for and try to fully understand the ideas presented.

So, what are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: June 17, 2009, 05:07:04 PM by Jet16 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2009, 04:50:58 PM »

I think I've beaten approx 150 RPGs and FFVIII is in my top 10.

I also think that this Kotaku article is quite good.
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Jet16
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2009, 05:09:15 PM »

Sorry, meant to say they posted a link to this article. But, yeah, I definitely rank it up there. Probably this or 9 holds the place as my favorite Final Fantasy.

Here's where Kotaku linked it, along with a few of their words about it: http://kotaku.com/5292917/remembering-final-fantasy-viii
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2009, 06:01:30 PM »

I also love FFVIII. Drawing tons of magic got tiresome at times but all the optional GF's plus the card game made up for it. I've played through the game three times. Great soundtrack too.
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2009, 06:12:40 PM »

I need to play it again. I played it partially when I was sick and so associated feeling sick with FF VIII. Damn conditioning.

I can't say it's one of my favorite FFs at the moment, but it might be because of the above reason and the fact that I was an immature little runt when I played it.
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2009, 06:13:51 PM »

I loved FFVIII when I played it years ago and I still have it in my top 10 games ever. I've been itching to replay it for awhile now, but I just have to much on my plate and too many games I haven't touched to replay through a game for the third time.
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2009, 07:08:02 PM »

My problem with VIII was my introduction to it in the series.

My first FF was II(IV) then 6, rounding out to 7.

8's constant plot shifts and deterring of the FF genre feel to me.

I agree that I definatly didn't give it the adoration it probably deserves.  I'll give it another shot if it someday shows up on the PSN, as I just can't find myself playing older games on consoles anymore.  No clue why =/
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2009, 07:46:46 PM »

VIII appeared in my 5-6 year hiatus of video games,

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Prime Mover
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2009, 07:57:38 PM »

I make no bones about the fact that I thik FFVIII is the finest installment in the series, and this article really sums it up: The creators really seemed to have a vision in mind before creating it, instead of just throwing together a hodgepodge of various ideas and styles. It was a totally unique approach to video game construction and is the essence of what separates good litterature from the mondane: a sense of purpose and direction. In contrast, FFVII sometimes feels like it was developed by a committee who were all trying to come up with "cool" ideas and make them fit together. While each of FF7s vignette's succeeds in being very entertaining, the sweeping focus and direction of the game is very week. While FF8 has the unfortunate problem of being a bit plodding at times, it's overarching vision of character definition and development is stunning. I really like works that start with a clear vision. I like to know that the artists care enough about the cohesion of their work, that they have some general idea of what the whole is going to represent, or how it will take shape. That's why I love concept albums or TV series that works towards a defined end (instead of simply giving me repetitions of the same things for 8 seasons before finally shutting off).

Sure, FF8 gets lost at times (tomb of the unknown king), and it has it's weak points, but I think it starts with a really great idea, and holds to it through thick and thin, and that part of it is always strong. I disagree with two points from the article however. I did not find the whole, "we were all orphans that grew up together" plotpoint to be particularly inspired, compelling, or believable. In fact, I found it downright cliche. When I fondly remember the game, I find myself having to excuse that part. In fact, I think it's a bit of a departure from the rest of the storytelling, which is so cohesive and shows a realistic depiction of human nature. You can partially chalk it up to Japanese fatalism, but I think that it was just an overly simplistic way of tieing all these unrelated characters together... when they never NEEDED to be tied together in the first place!

The second thing I disagreed with the article about was the translation. Okay, so it's not Hemmingway, however, I think the quality of the writing/translation was FAR superior to that of FF7. The characters actually had very subtle personality, and there was interesting dialog that seemed to fit the characters. It's not perfect, and it may be a half-notch below FF9 and FFXII (which I believe to be the strongest in the series), but it's much more believable than FF7 or FFXs.
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2009, 08:27:49 PM »

FF8- the world was really cool.  The lush towns, the Gardens, Esthar...

As a character study, the game was good.  Part of why I think Squall is a compelling protagonist is why we don't like him.  Some of the sentiments he expresses are verbatim things I thought, felt, and said back when I was 15.  Few of us like to revisit the place and times when we were "young and stupid" like that, and Squall represents that teenage nihilism many of us had.  His internal dialogues and soliloquies were great.  He was one of the most fleshed out heroes in the entire FF series. 

The part the article describes about when the party eulogizes Seifer when the news says he died was cool to read.  You know, what's wrong with saying "the dude was a bully who made my life miserable.  Good riddance, I say!" 

Thumbs up for cool world and believable characters.

I think the issue I have with FF8 is the actual storyline.  I felt that the cool characters were stuck in a plot that had more holes than Swiss cheese, succumbed to cop-outs (the alcoholic guardian forces made me forget...), lacked focus/cohesion, and had an ending that, while visually stunning in an avant-garde way, was just plain wacky.  The cast deserved better.  It felt like the writers were just kinda writing as they went along.

Disk 1 was f'n awesome.  Some of the best JRPGing I had of that generation.  But it went from a school-ties storyline with lots of political intrigue to a "blair witch hunt" that ended with some rather lame witches.  More of the school-ties and taut political intrigue would've been sweet.  The school-ties stuff where the kids were being kids was cool.  Like the shy library girl harboring a crush on Zell.  Or when Zell promises to make Rinoa a ring like Squalls, she playfully teases him about the library girl.  Or Irvine trying to appear more cool and suave with the ladies than he really is.  We all knew people like that.

Even with Harry Potter, my favorite parts of those books were not the epic struggles, but of the kids being kids.  That's why games like Persona 3 and 4 sit so well with me.  Sure there's epic struggles with humanity at stake, but the most memorable moments of those games are the kids being kids and going through teenage issues.  (Persona 2: Innocent Sin's flashbacks of the kids playing Masked Raiders is what FF8's orphanage scene should have been.)

Basically, my take on FF8 is that it had so much potential, but it kinda botched it up.  It tried to be too many things and I think a lot of the charm was lost in an unfocused mish-mash.  Too many cooks/ideas ruining the stew and all that.

Certainly a memorable game and not the garbage heap some people claim it to be.  And I think it's better to be the red-headed stepchild of the series than FF9 which did everything right, but is kinda forgotten.  At least FF8 is remembered and hotly debated.  To be forgotten is to be dead, and FF8 will not be forgotten. 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2009, 08:38:30 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2009, 09:28:35 PM »

Prime Mover you better goddamn respond to my post because I'm writing this at you and if you don't read it I'll be all "What did he just jilt me oh my god man what the hell." So.

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The creators really seemed to have a vision in mind before creating it, instead of just throwing together a hodgepodge of various ideas and styles.

Yeah, I disagree here. It's Square. They hardly ever have a unified vision behind their games. They're not that kind of company.

More salient and relevant and specific, that scene with NORG and Cid and you going through the Garden's underworking. That entire plot point doesn't amount to anything. Or the orphanage scene. Or the weird mood shift in Esthar. Or how Ultimecia doesn't have any coherent reason for what she's doing and how the game even admits it.

I'm also not sure what sweeping, overarching focus of FFVIII's your referring to because I really don't remember anything like that. You're hunting down Edea, crap happens in the process, whoops wrong villain, you're hunting down Adel, crap happens, oh shi-- Ultimecia's the real enemy. Same plot structure that a lot of JRPGs have.

I also though the character development blew, honestly, because only Squall and Rinoa were developed much after a point, and does Quistis even say anything after the five hour mark?

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I really like works that start with a clear vision.

What's this clear vision, anyway? Are you referring to some sort of central theme?

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which is so cohesive and shows a realistic depiction of human nature.

What does this even mean and what are you even referring to in the game specifically?

Quote
Disk 1 was f'n awesome.  Some of the best JRPGing I had of that generation.  But it went from a school-ties storyline with lots of political intrigue to a "blair witch hunt" that ended with some rather lame witches.  More of the school-ties and taut political intrigue would've been sweet.  The school-ties stuff where the kids were being kids was cool.  Like the shy library girl harboring a crush on Zell.  Or when Zell promises to make Rinoa a ring like Squalls, she playfully teases him about the library girl.  Or Irvine trying to appear more cool and suave with the ladies than he really is.  We all knew people like that.

Yeah, agreed. And after Disk 1 is when everyone's personality, except for Rinoa and Squall, just goes away, and the plot sort of starts going off wherever the hell it feels like. Disk 1 is rather tightly plotted if you think about it. It's very concise, lots of buildup, nothing really extraneous.

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin's flashbacks of the kids playing Masked Raiders is what FF8's orphanage scene should have been.

Good point. The orphanage's problem wasn't the deus ex machina -- and it wasn't. Cid was a manipulative bastard. That's what you mainly learned. It's just that instead of saying anything about the characters it's just like, "Well, we all knew each other. Ain't that some shit." Actually, it sort of says stuff about the characters, but it's like, they're... it's like the Muppet Babies, almost. They're the same personalities, just distilled into single, childish lines.

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and FF8 will not be forgotten. 

Whiskey cures everything !!

Anyway, honestly, this is all sort of moot. As I said before, FFVIII was too easy for me to really enjoy it. Sure, you could fiddle with junctions all you liked, or you could completely ignore that and just auto-junction everything and the game'll still be easy as hell, especially after you get that instant-summon, instant-kill GF with all the arms that later is Odin, and then it's just auto-pilot from then on out and it's really boring.
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blackthirteen
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2009, 10:33:03 PM »

Oh boy, it's painful to realize for me that I was 21 years old when I played this game - IT SEEMS LIKE TWO YEARS AGO!  But actually 10 years passed, I'm 31 now.

The soundtrack was quite unique in FF8, it gave the game a tremendous atmosphere. But I agree that the plot was too much vague, as if there was no real purpose. It was superb anyway.

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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2009, 12:03:05 AM »

I should try taking those Seed exams again..... this time without cheating. It's been a good 10 years since I've last played it myself, so I'm sure I forgot the answers by now. :P
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2009, 09:52:34 AM »

I rather suspect that FF8's "bad reputation" comes from the FF7 fanboy crowd being bitterly disappointed that it wasn't FF7-2.

I got past disc 1 of FF8, but never really felt compelled to play much past it. Maybe I should pick it up again.
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2009, 05:21:13 PM »

The soundtrack was quite unique in FF8, it gave the game a tremendous atmosphere.

Yes.

Uematsu has a lot of trademark sounds and melodies in his repertoire. He abandoned most of them when he did VIII. And it was awesome.
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