The return of Final Fantasy 7, which has been rebuilt from scratch to adapt the aged game to the modern taste, has been reported for years. At the E3 in 2019, Square Enix fans and media got a demo of the Final Fantasy 7 remake in their hands, which will not come out for years completely – but soon, they showed, it would be another explosion of the past: a remaster of the following game in the series, Final Fantasy 8.
Although the game has never looked better, it is more or less a tidy port – and light-years away from the great footage we saw from the completely reworked Final Fantasy 7 remake. So the question remains: is it worth the effort to play the Final Fantasy 8 Remaster?
It's a difficult answer because 8 is a difficult game to love.
While Final Fantasy 7 heralded the triumph of the series into the polygonal age with a rousing steampunk fantasy, its successor was a more atmospheric adventure full of neurotic characters drawn in a realistic style. Suffice to say that it shared the fans when it was released in 1999, resulting in a deadlocked 7-on-8 rivalry.
This tribalism has inevitably influenced the minds of all of Final Fantasy 8, including the author's opinion, and has caused the fans to gloss over the mistakes of the game in order to agree on the battlements. The announcement to redo FF7 has probably sparked an infinite grin on his loyal fans. Presumably, FF8 fans have given a weaker cheer when they learned that their own remaster will arrive much earlier – even this year.
Final Fantasy 8 Remaster faithfully ported the game to the post-HD era with limited – but crucial – rework. Square Enix created brand new models for characters (everything else is just ridding the 32-bit days of the game), while players can use three debug cheats to ignore fights or blow them up to just enjoy the story.
This is very, very far from a real remake, and it's hard not to watch the film sequences and in-game footage of the Final Fantasy 7 remake without much envy. The remastering of FF8 is a hackneyed solution to satisfy fans of the Final Fantasy dynasty and gain time as the publisher brings Final Fantasy 7 to modern times. It's not really fair, but the denialism of FF8 fans is not limited to ignoring the larger cultural footprint of their predecessor.
This underdog mentality does things to a fan to make them believe that their game is inaccessible to anyone who has not signed up years ago.
Before I started the remaster, I would have warned all new arrivals – the original game is obscure, with less helpful tutorials that leave it to the players to figure out the odd branching and draw systems for themselves. And thanks to all the ribs of FF7 fans, I'm sick and tired of defending the really weird story of the game in which worried teenagers fight sorceresses in an unrelated steampunk world.
My first few hours confirmed my suspicions, especially with the polarizing protagonist: Squall is a loner who is stubbornly cut off from his peers, who all try in vain to break him up – sometimes because they only need him to be one leaderHell, again. I picked up the Junction system the way I did yesterday, but then spent hours lapping myself with magic to complete my statistics before continuing with the story. Even the inwardness of the character – Squall's frustrated thoughts about teammates, his aggressively distanced attitude – annoys my older, wiser self. How did I stand this fumbling idiot?
But after driving Squall for a dozen hours, my frustration thaws. I'm not really tired of the wild loner being too stubborn to let others in. I was desperate not to revisit the character I identified with as a teenager. Cloud is a silent ass with a big sword; Squall is prickly and loses himself in an endless introspective spiral. No matter which game I played first, I would have clung to the latter in my founding years.
I have rediscovered a game that is as awkward and clunky as it is fast and slender, emotional and serious, and that appealed to lonesome players than I expected. I warned potential players with reservations, as if describing all the warts in my hometown and trying to stop people from seeing a place, a game of mistakes that I projected onto my younger self. I used to be in it and identified with it so much. to play it means to see me young.
But Final Fantasy 8 is unique. Apart from the Super Move Limit Breaks, every party character is basically interchangeable – you build your squad by choosing who you like best, rather than weighing your skills and team composition. The backdrop is such a mix of esoteric architecture and futuristic technology that it feels like being torn from time, familiar yet fantastic. And while the game has melodramatic stripes, it's also prone to slapstick humor and ridiculous dialogues.
I've seen people who tweeted long threads about the first Final Fantasy 8 game and fell in love with the stupid, headstrong, self-doubting mess that makes up the cast. (And no, they were not turned off by intersection, as idiosyncratic as it is.) It's no confirmation that I and other FF8 heads were right all the time; It is a relief that the game was always more than just a ragged experience that was eager to prove itself in one of the biggest dynasties of gambling.
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