Disclaimer: Truth to be told, among the FF series, I have only completed FFVII and FFVIII. So, maybe FFVIII does really suck and I have no taste whatsoever to think that it was kinda cool because I don’t understand the gist and mastery of Final Fantasy.

My motivation of playing FFVIII, despite it got bashed and raped by almost everyone, was actually due to the memories of Lion Heart being a very awesome move when I watched my bro played it 10 years ago. It’s with this simple trigger that I conjure up enough mon to brave through this supposed shitstorm. I thought I will have a difficult time to wade through this because everyone and their mother told me that this game belongs in the toilet. Thanks to that though, my expectation is so low that FFVIII blown me away with how fun it actually is.

I understand all the complains of the story and pacing issue but I can’t really understand the complain of the juncture system. Maybe I have a guide beside me so I didn’t do stupid things like drawing 100 Scan, I actually can’t share or understand the frustration that many others have on this issue. The complication of the juncture system can also be easily solved by pressing the auto button on the menu so I don’t really understand how it is supposed to be complicated.

In fact, I am more surprise at the fact on how no people point out the  unclear purpose of a spell. For one, I still don’t know what the magic, “Pain”, does even after I completed the game. Hell,players wouldn’t even know what Holy does without prior knowledge of previous FF game! Holy? Is that a fucking healing spell or something? I looked at the magic option and nothing was explained, maybe it was explained but it is clearly not in plain sight because after 60 hours of game play, I still can’t find any snippets ingame on what an  Ultima does. Having to painstakingly cast every spell to know what it actually does is definitely more complicated and tedious than putting spell in your stats to see number grow for me.

Lucky for me, I haven’t cast a single non healing/support spell after disc 1 thanks to the “complicated” juncture system that make me completely owns Ultima Weapon’s ass with one Zell’s limit break. I am actually still kinda bitter about how anticlimactic that was but I also pretty much killed every form of Nyx from P3 with one blow as well so no complain there. Hey, at least I died once during Ultimecia because I never knew that she will cast a spell that damage 6000 of my HP after tasting my badass Lionheart.

Not to mention, all the hassle of drawing of spells can be nullified by playing Triple Triad, which is something I can play for straight 10 hours. Maybe those who hate the juncture system hates Triple Triad and that I can definitely understand and sympathise with. However, I think that most people’s problem is not knowing how to exploit the Triple Triad game because only those who don’t know that you can actually refine spells through cards and items will do something as stupid as drawing 100 blizzard from an enemy.

I do want to point out that the GF summoning animation is too long for its own good though. I know that it is good that they are long due to the boost ability but I pretty much gave up on summoning GF after disc one thanks to that. Hell, I don’t even know what the “Brothers” summoning sequence look like because normal attack does the job 10x better than GF.  The terrains are very convoluted as well. Sometimes I need to walk around for 10 mins to find a semi visible ladder/door.

Now after much talk about the core game play, let’s get  to the stinkiest stink in FFVIII – the story. The story definitely have problems with its video game logic and out of the blue scenarios. Lots of stuff happen without you knowing why the hell they happen. The whole GF makes you forget  about your childhood bullshit and Squall sudden romantic interest towards Rinoa after disc 2 makes no sense at all. Not to mention, I still don’t get all the time compression bullshit on disc 4. The scary thing is that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are tons of other shoddy plot points and pacing issues where things happen so sudden without any buildup.

However, after I played a handful of RPGs recently, I have come to conclude that most RPG have shitty writings.  Try giving Xenogears an anime/movie and see how well it will fare, it will be lucky if it doesn’t win the Golden Raspberry Award.

RPG mostly always follows a simple “save the world from morally ambiguous villain that sometimes might just be god who find this world so disgusting that he/she wants to destroy it” cliché since 30 years ago. How can one even expect a good story from this cliché is way beyond me.

Most people felt that RPG’s have awesome and good storyline because gaming is actually an aggressive activity where you  actively participated in, that’s why people will always neglect the finer points due to being too engrossed with it. They thought that they are enjoying the stories but little to they know, it’s not the story but the whole package that was hidden behind the story that they are enjoying.

There’s a reason why most  RPG anime failed. It is not because they divert too much from the original game but rather, they either followed it closely and the story is dumb like that or they have to divert it because an actual realization will just make the show real bad. It’s kinda like the Dragonball movie, divert away or stay close to the original will both spell disaster because DB’s story is dumb in the first place.

That’s not to say that the story of FFVIII is not weak at all, the above paragraph only further prove that FFVIII has mediocre writings. Still, like I once said, a mediocre story in RPG equals to an above average story for RPG and FFVIII does have its moment.

Firstly, it’s definitely set up to be a style over substance story. The purpose and motivation of each and single scene is about how cool will it be if motorbikes flew across flying fleets that crash into one another than the practicability of actually doing that. This is 1999 and gamers are mostly teens that don’t understand literature and just want to see cool scenes. So with that in mind, I can definitely see what FFVIII is trying to do with these nonsensical scenes

Remember how my motivation of playing the game is actually because I am enamored at how cool Lionheart looks when I was a kid? That should be a good indication on how well FFVIII has done in their style department and how it can captivate its target audience.

I will admit that I am still very childish( I am nearing 20 now by the way. I still can’t believe it because I feel like I am 12) to be amazed by the good-looking cut scenes  of  flying motorbikes and gunblade  and find them to be very awesome. No, getting trapped in a room because you wanted to apologize to someone does not bother me at all if what comes after that is a cool parade scene with awesome chorus. Ebou, Whowaze!

With that all said, I kinda like some of the subtleties in FFVIII though I am not sure if these subtleties comes from me giving the creator too much credits or are they creator intentions. For one, everyone and their mother is bewildered by the motivation of Ultimecia and why the hell did she want to compress time. I know because I don’t know what the fuck happen as well. Little do we know that she actually already mentioned her motivation when she gave the speech in Disc 1 where she talk about how sorceresses are scorned and hunted down in the future. Because of these witch hunt, Ultimecia suffered and her hatred grew of this world grew( I felt corny after writing that). There will be only one sorceress during one time so she has no one to rely on, she treated every human as enemies because they are the one that hunt them down. This is why she wanted to compress time and live alone in this time compressed world.

So why the hell did human hunt down sorceress? It’s because of a time paradox created by Ultimecia herself. Going back in time triggered the event where Squall will eventually defeat her and give Edea the idea of  SeeD whose mission is to hunt down Sorceress because of Squall knew that there will be this evil sorceress bitch in the future call Ultimecia, coupling with the fact that sorceress can cause lots of trouble as shown by Adel. This is also why Ultimecia wants to know the true meaning of SeeD. End of Story.Suddenly, every fucking thing makes sense isn’t it?

Not only that, there are also little inexplicable things done by Irvine that I find to be a nice touch. For example, his sudden pussified antic during his assassination and his weird, “This is fate isn’t it” line when he first met Selphie hinted at his knowledge of the orphanage are really subtle . This shows that the writer actually sort of have some ideas in what they are doing so I feel that the whole GF makes you forget bullshit and the sudden realization that they know each other since young can be less bullshitier if they paces it better.

The whole Seifer wanting to become a Sorceress Knight because he saw the Laguna’s film of a knight protecting the sorceress from a  Ruby Dragon was a very good touch as well. You will only be aware of this by observing his limit breaks and through some miss-able dialogs.

With these knowledge in mind, things started to tie in a lot better and doesn’t look as detach as it is isn’t it? All these aren’t explain explicitly and I appreciate that because I treated these as subtleties  instead of the failure on the writer’s part.

That’s why even though I know that most(I am using most and not all to be courteous) RPG can be lacking in their writing , they still have these tiny surprises and cool things that makes me appreciate RPG stories.

In the end, maybe because FFVIII was being shat on too much, it makes my expectation so low that I am surprise to receive a B material when I was promised with a S material. The meaning of S is obviously, substandard.

The ending still gets to me even though I don’t really understand what the fuck is going on. Must be the song.

Wohoo, I  just spoiled the ending of a popular 12 years old game for you … a 12 years old game…

So, anyone have any ideas on which RPG to play next? I have the mood to try something similar to FF VIII. Now I have a psp, ps1, ps2, nds and could get a XBOX360 for free if I want. MSX, NEC PC 88/98, Sega CD/Genesis/Saturn/DC, Turbografx,  Gamboy, Gameboy Advance, SNES and NES games are more than welcome as well. Don’t worry, any recommendation will do because I definitely haven’t play them yet. You will be surprise at what game I haven’t play.

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