Final Fantasy VIII Review: Time Compression? Why? Because We Can!

Posted: 12/22/2012 in Video Game Reviews
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Final Fantasy VIII Cast: Left to Right: Squall Leonhart, Quistis Trepe, Zell Dincht, Selphie Tilmitt, Rinoa Heartily, Irvine Kinneas. Top: Ultimecia, the main villain

By Keith Crandell Jr.

As I sit down to write this review, I cannot, for the life of me, remember why I hate Final Fantasy VIII. Then I remember that I actually don’t hate the game as a whole, I just don’t like a single character or think the story is particularly interesting. I do, however, LOVE the game mechanics, especially the customization system. Final Fantasy VIII was released in 1999, and is the one game in the series that fans in Japan want remade more than any other.

Final Fantasy VIII holds up today as arguably the best looking Final Fantasy game on the original Playstation, but I regard it as the weakest. The main character is Squall Leonhart (which is an awesome name), a member of a military training organization called SeeD. Squall is a loner who completely shuts out other people, and throughout the game it is clear that he has the heart of a lion (see what they did there?). Squall’s mission to protect Rinoa, who helps Squall learn to open up to others, starts off simple, but takes him into international political conflicts, a war against the Sorcerers, and into spaaaaaace itself. Loneliness and love are the two great themes which drive Final Fantasy VIII, which compliment the futuristic world that Square Soft created for this game.


On to the good stuff: the battle system. Final Fantasy VIII’s battles are extremely interactive; almost every character requires the player to give them extra attention to properly utilize their abilities, and instead of the traditional magic system, Final Fantasy VIII nearly forces you to Draw magic from your foes. That’s right, you gain magic from enemies in combat, and instead of the traditional leveling system in which the player levels up in order to properly match monsters, this time around the monsters level up as the main characters do. This system makes the player really have to be selective about how much level grinding they do, as a level up for one of the characters right before a certain boss could actually make it more difficult.


A low level run through this game is actually fairly easy to accomplish.

Due to this leveling system, the main characters don’t actually gain significant stat boosts. Instead, their stat upgrades are tied to the game’s summoning feature: Guardian Forces. By Junctioning GFs to the characters, they not only gain abilities which can be leveled up as the GF gains levels, as well as the ability to attack with that particular summon, but they are also able to Junction the magic that they Draw from enemies to a particular stat, thus increasing it. The system seems complicated, but I actually prefer this type of character upgrading to almost every other in the series.


As I previously mentioned, Final Fantasy VIII is probably my least favorite entry in the series (though Final Fantasy XII is literally neck in neck with it). That doesn’t mean it isn’t great. It really is. I just couldn’t get into the characters, story, or world at all. Squall is a badass though, and truly embodies a lion.

Score: 8.5/10

Keith Crandell Jr. is a Political Science major at Slippery Rock University, and believes that comedy can be found in just about anything. His favorite Playstation 3 game is Flower, and he has 30 Platinum Trophies (much to the disappointment of his mother). Follow his insanity on Twitter @kmcrandelljr and continue to read his reviews at so he can do more awesome things like this!

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