Final Fantasy VIII Remastered Overview (Switch eShop)

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Visualize getting in the unenviable position in which Square Enix identified itself following the release of Final Fantasy VII in 1997. The studio had just place out a genre-defining game that several nevertheless say they haven’t topped and had catapulted itself to a position that invited unrealistically higher expectations. Gamers are a notoriously fickle bunch to please, and something significantly less than an equally groundbreaking game as Final Fantasy VII would be met with waves of disappointment and complaining. Bearing this huge stress in thoughts, it is no wonder that Final Fantasy VIII turned out as… nicely, weird as it did.

The only answer to the not possible query of “what’s subsequent?” was to take issues in such a preposterous path that fans would just be left baffled by the final solution, unsure of irrespective of whether they loved or hated it. Certainly, now that Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has ultimately arrived on modern day consoles, it is rather fascinating to see how time has treated this one particular. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered absolutely is not the very best release in this treasured series, but it also proves to be one particular of the most memorable and revolutionary instalments.

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Exactly where to start with this story? Immediately after the heady, brooding tone of the narrative in Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII was certainly… fascinating. The narrative follows Squall, a cringy and angst-filled ‘lone wolf’ teen who is needlessly irritated by just about everybody in his life. Squall lives at a military college referred to as Balamb Garden as a member of a specific organization referred to as SeeD and spends his time going out on missions for the organization in a mercenary-like part, sometimes accompanied by his longtime rival Seifer. Immediately after his graduation ceremony, he falls in like with a kindhearted girl named Rinoa, but issues immediately go awry when the plot turns and starts to concentrate on the eclectic mixture of antagonists. Final Fantasy VIII attributes not one particular, not two, but 3 evil witches, every of which appears significantly less planned by the writers than final.

See, Final Fantasy VIII has the sort of story that is a comprehensive dumpster fire if you attempt to take it seriously, but it becomes exceptionally enjoyable if you take a step back and love it for all its ridiculousness. Case in point, a absolutely left-field revelation partway by way of the game reveals how many of the major characters – such as one particular of their teachers – all grew up in the very same orphanage when they have been young, but they forgot mainly because the Guardian Forces (summonable entities) that reside in their brains produced them shed their memories. Or, in a different memorable instance, the major financier of Balamb Gardens is revealed to be a miserly goblin creature named NORG, who lives in the basement of the college and ultimately gets in a fight with Squall and his gang. As soon as defeated, ol’ NORG basically retreats into a cocoon and is scarcely referenced once more.

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Lengthy lost, time-manipulating sisters getting chased by witches? Verify. Hordes of monsters living on the moon that inexplicably fall to the planet? Verify. Final Fantasy games have generally had some rather meandering plots, but even by series’ requirements, Final Fantasy VIII plays out like a bizarre fever dream that just keeps upping the ante as it gradually descends additional into madness. And however, it is a story that you cannot aid but like. Final Fantasy VIII attributes a plot that is extremely considerably an instance of ‘so terrible it is good’, supplying up a completely gripping (if largely incoherent) tale that is really unforgettable.

The strangeness of the story extends to the gameplay systems, also, which drop series’ convention by eliminating the MP bar and introducing the ‘Draw’ mechanic. With this, you can devote a character’s turn in battle to siphon magic away from enemies, either casting it in that very same turn or storing it in your inventory for later use. Magic is a generally a consumable item right here, and it is crucial to character development and improvement. See, Final Fantasy VIII does not function equippable accessories and products as a normal JRPG would alternatively, you basically ‘wear’ magic spells to bolster stats. It is absolutely an fascinating thought, but sadly, the Draw mechanic just serves to be a tedious time sink that punishes you for applying magic and encourages you to do the very same repetitive actions ad infinitum.

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You can stack up to one particular hundred of a offered spell at a time, and the a lot more spells you have, the a lot more they’ll bolster the stat that you have attached them to. So, it is in your very best interest to devote battles not basically fighting the enemies, but repeatedly spamming Draw to suck out as considerably of the magic that you will need from them. The quantity of magic drawn out every time is random – you get anyplace from one particular to nine spells at a time – which indicates that battles can take close to ten minutes if you are beginning from scratch with a offered spell’s stock. If you select not to do this, or you basically cast your magic in combat, your stats will inevitably endure and later enemy encounters and boss fights will be produced immeasurably tougher. You nevertheless level up like in previous games, but the major stat increases will come from the spells you equip. The thought behind this entire Draw technique is fascinating, but it forces you to play the game in a extremely restricted, time-consuming manner that quickly becomes a bore.

Although the jobs technique is nevertheless nowhere to be identified, it finds a thing of a replacement with the new Guardian Forces technique. As you progress the story, you will gather a series of monsters and deities (Ifrit, Shiva, Cactuar, and so on.) which can be equipped to characters and summoned in battle for super attacks. Immediately after every victory, Guardian Forces obtain knowledge and level-up independently of your characters and can unlock new passives and skills which can be transferred to other characters with that Guardian Force. It is a cool technique that encourages experimentation though also providing you the flexibility to swap up group compositions at will, and it smartly brings summons back to the forefront of combat following their relative obscurity in Final Fantasy VII.

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Aside from the attempted and tested loop of ATB combat and dungeon crawling, Final Fantasy VIII also introduces a rather fascinating and surprisingly addictive ongoing minigame referred to as Triple Triad, which a lot more or significantly less functions as an in-universe equivalent to Magic: The Gathering. The guidelines of the game are easy adequate to choose up, but they have rather a bit of depth after you get into it, and this is only additional exacerbated by a substantial quantity of collectable cards and an ever-altering ruleset based on what area of the planet you are in. Aside from supplying up a good break from the usual gameplay, Triple Triad is also integrated into the major game mechanics in how you can transmute cards into spells, which lets you reduce down on the Draw grind though also providing you access to some unusually potent spells early in the game if you know what you are performing. It is not typically that a minigame receives this level of TLC in a many-dozen-hour epic such as Final Fantasy VIII, but Triple Triad stands as a excellent instance of how introducing a absolutely unrelated however nicely-created gameplay idea alongside the core gameplay loop of a game can bolster the worth of the all round solution by a substantial margin.

This getting a remaster of the original Final Fantasy VIII, specific high quality of life attributes that have been integrated in most of the other Final Fantasy remasters are all present and accounted for. In contrast to the original PSX release, you can opt to triple the game’s speed, buff up your celebration members to max well being and limitless limit breaks, or absolutely disable random encounters, all at the click of a stick. For the most element, Final Fantasy VIII holds up reasonably nicely in terms of all round pacing and difficulty curve, but obtaining the capability to gloss more than the uglier components of gameplay proves to be an absolute godsend that considerably raises your all round enjoyment.

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For instance, summon attacks are entertaining to use, but also function some just about comically lengthy animations when casting their attacks. Although a minigame can permit you to bolster the attacks’ harm through these animations, it is good that you can breeze suitable by way of them if you’d like. Our only true complaint in this region is that Square didn’t contain a slew of other high quality of life buffs that have been integrated in the Computer re-release, such as maxing Guardian Forces levels and enabling all Triple Triad cards. Thinking about that the console and Computer ports are proficiently the very same game and that there is not any rational purpose for why these attributes couldn’t also function in the console port, it just comes off as feeling like a low-priced way to encourage a lot more sales of the Computer version.

From a presentation standpoint, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered absolutely stands as the very best-searching version of the classic, even though its age as a PSX title is all also apparent. The new, redesigned character models and UI are a welcome inclusion that bring considerably a lot more clarity to the blocky and aged appear of the original, but the pre-rendered backgrounds, sadly, haven’t been shown the very same like. Subsequent to the enhanced models, the backgrounds appear painfully flat and low-res, building a stark divide in between the old and new. It is understandable why this is the case – evidently, Square lost the original files to the backgrounds a lengthy time ago – but that does tiny to soften the harshness of these antiquated relics. That getting stated, you do develop a lot more accustomed to the backgrounds following placing adequate hours in, and the battle animations are nevertheless leading-notch.

Conclusion

Almost twenty years later, Final Fantasy VIII proves to be just as weird and polarizing a release as it was when it 1st came out. Cool new concepts like Guardian Forces and Triple Triad are hamstrung by an definitely wack story and the tedium of the Draw technique, creating for an knowledge that is excellent in some regards and not so excellent in other individuals. Taken as a entire, having said that, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered proves to be a entertaining and enjoyable romp by way of the weirder side of the Final Fantasy series, notably bolstered by the new HD presentation and the inclusion of useful high quality of life attributes. This is simply the most skippable entry of all the mainline Final Fantasy games on the Switch suitable now, but if you come across oneself to be a fan of either the Final Fantasy series or the JRPG genre, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered proves to be a release that is absolutely worth your time.

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