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Final Fantasy VIII is the eighth installment in the Final Fantasy series. It was directed by Yoshinori Kitase, written by Kitase and Kazushige Nojima and produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Shinji Hashimoto. The game is the second Final Fantasy that was developed for both PlayStation and PC.

Thirteen weeks after its release, Final Fantasy VIII had earned more than $50 million in US sales, making it the fastest selling Final Fantasy title. Additionally, Final Fantasy VIII was voted the 22nd-best game of all time by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu.

Final Fantasy VIII is a departure from many traditional standards of the Final Fantasy series. It is the first game in the series to consistently use realistically proportioned characters, the first to feature a vocal piece as its theme music, and one of the only titles to deviate from the series' traditional means of increasing a character's power via leveling. In addition, it does not have a Magic Point-based system for spellcasting.

Gameplay ::

The gameplay of Final Fantasy VIII is vastly different from previous titles. The Draw and Junction Systems are the most notable changes. Instead of leveling up in order to learn new spells and abilities via weapons or a job class, you must "Draw" your magic and spells from enemies and "draw-points", hot spots scattered throughout the game containing random numbers of a specific spell. This eliminated the convention of magic/mana points, but encouraged players to hoard and conserve spells both for direct use and for 'junctioning' them to different stats associated with Guardian Forces, who also held the learning of new abilities.



Guardian Forces ::

Summoned monsters in Final Fantasy VIII are known as Guardian Forces, often abbreviated to GF. They require Junctioning to characters in order to use them, as well as their inherent abilities.

Unlike previous games, GF take time to be summoned, the time taken depends on the character/GF combination. When selected, the ATB gauge begins to run backwards and the character's name and HP is replaced by the GF's name and HP. Like the Aeons used later in Final Fantasy X, the GF have HP and can take damage, shielding party members while being summoned. During the summoning, if the GF's HP reaches 0, they stop protecting the summoning character and do not get summoned. They are also unable to be summoned until they are revived. On the flip side, if the ATB gauge for the GF reaches zero, the GF is summoned, and attacks in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy VII. If the GF summoned has learned the ability "Boost", the player can attempt to boost the GF's attack power by up to 250%, although the boost may end up being anywhere between 75%-250% of the GF's normal attack power.

Guardian Forces can also gain Ability points to learn abilities. Each GF has unique abilities, though rare items allow customization of each GF's unique skill set. Most abilities at least require junctioning the GF to a character, but some abilities also require junctioning to the character to take effect. Each GF has an ability that, once learned, can be junctioned as a battle command.

The first two Guardian Forces are acquired at the beginning of the game. Other Guardian Forces can be acquired through side-quests, or by Drawing them from another boss. There are only three GF that you must find to continue the game, the others are completely optional.

Junctioning ::

The Junction System is the system used for boosting stats and to give elemental/status effects to weapons and armor in Final Fantasy VIII. The player must Junction, or equip, a Guardian Force to enable the use of battle commands other than Attack. Boosting stats require characters to obtain magic, usually by Drawing magic from enemies. The player can then Junction that magic to stats such as Strength, Vitality, Evasion and Hit-Rate. What can be customized depends on the Guardian Force that is currently junctioned. The Guardian Force can learn to unlock more statistics to junction magic to with Ability Points.

Experience and Leveling ::

As with most games of the RPG genre, Experience Points are awarded following defeat of randomly encountered enemies. Final Fantasy VIII's system of leveling is unique for two reasons: each playable character only requires 1,000 exp points to advance to the next level, whereas other games require progressively more points as the levels are gained. The statistic increases granted by a level-up are minuscule, as major stat growth is relegated to the Junction system.

The other feature is that enemies and bosses have no set level, they increase in Hit-points, statistics and abilities alongside the player party. Higher-level enemies are capable of inflicting and withstanding significantly more damage, and may have additional special attacks. They also possess better magic to draw and items to steal as their level rises. The benefits of this system are that by keeping characters at low levels, enemies and bosses at the later stages of the game can be significantly weaker, resulting in "No-Leveling Challenge" games of Final Fantasy VIII. Also, due to most locations being visited several times during the storyline and for side-quests, enemies encountered early will grow with the party and can still pose a threat later in the game.



Limit Breaks ::

Limit Break abilities returned in Final Fantasy VIII and once again received an overhaul from previous incarnations. The system is similar to the Desperation Attacks in Final Fantasy VI, but the player has more control over when and which Limit to use. A Limit is triggered by low health, however the spell Aura increases the chance a Limit will be available even at full health. Each playable character has their own unique Limit Break, attune to their character style, and are accompanied by an interactive element which, when performed correctly, can increase the potency of the attack. Squall's Renzokuken and Irvine's Shot can be considered amongst the strongest Limit Breaks in the entire series.



Triple Triad ::

A trading card game featured in Final Fantasy VIII. This was later followed up by Final Fantasy IX's Tetra Master card game. Triple Triad varies from a very simple easy-to-play game to one that is incredibly complicated. If you were to play Triple Triad throughout the entire game, you'll find that more rules and variations of other rules come into play depending on what area you are playing in. And to complicate things further, rules you play with in one area are carried by you to other areas. So you'll want to be careful what rules you pick up while playing.

Cards won from monsters or by playing NPCs can be turned into various items using Quetzalcoatl's Card Mod ability ranging from Screws to items capable of being refined into the most powerful magics in the game. Cards can also be obtained by using the Card command learned from Quezalcoatl, which turns the targeted monster into a card. It isn't advised for anyone to pass up playing Triple Triad.

Recurring Bosses ::

In Ultimecia's Castle the party is allowed to fight numerous bosses in order to get the characters' stolen abilities back. Two of these bosses are the returning enemies Omega Weapon and Tiamat.

Characters ::
Overall, Final Fantasy VIII has eleven playable characters, six of them used for the majority of the game, three of them used at certain interludes in the game, and two temporary characters.

Major::
These six player characters are used throughout the entire game. They are:

* Squall Leonhart - The taciturn and reluctant hero.
* Rinoa Heartilly - A beautiful and spirited young woman.
* Quistis Trepe - A top-notch member of SeeD who serves as Squall's instructor.
* Zell Dincht - A SeeD Cadet with unsurpassed martial arts skills.
* Selphie Tilmitt - An energetic woman with a carefree spirit.
* Irvine Kinneas - An expert gunman and consummate lady's man.

Other major characters include Seifer Almasy, Laguna Loire, Kiros Seagill, Ward Zabac, and Edea Kramer.

Supporting (Minor)::
* Ultimecia - A mysterious Sorceress from the future.
* Ellone - A girl with the power to make people re-experience the past.
* Julia Heartilly - A lounge singer turned star thanks to a popular song.
* Raine Loire - A country girl with a heart who brings in a complete stranger and falls in love with him.

Subsequent appearances ::

Several characters from the game have appeared in other Square games. Squall and Ultimecia are set to appear in Dissidia -Final Fantasy-, while Squall himself has made cameos in Chocobo Racing, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special. Rinoa also appears in Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special while Quistis appears in the game's portable version. Selphie also appears in Kingdom Hearts, and is joined later by Seifer, Fujin and Raijin in Kingdom Hearts II.

Squall and Rinoa were featured in an official Final Fantasy VIII Technical Demo for the PlayStation 2 in 1999.

Story ::

The game opens with a duel between the two arch-rivals Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy. Squall and Seifer are both students at Balamb Garden, a military academy training SeeDs, an elite mercenary force that helps people all around the world. Squall loses the duel, although both men end up with scars across their faces. Squall wakes up a few hours later, on the day of his SeeD field exam. He goes with his instructor Quistis Trepe to retrieve a Guardian Force (GF), that enables normal humans to use magic. The final test Squall must pass to become a SeeD, is to go the the occupied city of Dollet, together with his squad members Zell Dincht and Seifer. They quickly uncover the reason for the Galbadian Army's occupation; to reactivate an old radio tower. Seifer leaves his teammates behind, and disobeys Garden's orders. A spunky young girl, Selphie Tilmitt, joins the party at this time, and after defeating a monster at the top of the tower, the tower is reactivated, and they are chased back to the beach by a spiderlike war machine.

Back at Garden, Squall finally has passed the final test to become a SeeD, as have Zell and Selphie. Seifer, however, having disobeyed a direct order, failed. That night, during the SeeD Graduation Ceremony, Squall is asked for a dance by a girl. The introverted Squall is forced out onto the dance floor, and a cutscene ensues. The day after, they receive their first mission as SeeDs: to aid a resistance faction known as the Forest Owls, in their quest to retain the independence of a small nation called Timber. On the train trip to Timber, the SeeDs strangely pass out, and have a dream about a man called Laguna Loire, and his two friends Kiros Seagill and Ward Zabac. Upon waking up, they meet up with the Forest Owls, only to find out that the leader is the girl who danced with Squall, Rinoa Heartilly. The Forest Owls' plan is to abduct Vinzer Deling, the tyrannic president of Galbadia, and force him to withdraw his soldiers from Timber. However, once they manage to hijack the president's train, they find out it is an impostor.

After defeating the impostor, they learn that the real President Deling is going to the Timber TV Station to broadcast something. He announces that the new diplomat for Galbadia is the Sorceress, Edea. However, an enraged Seifer somehow goes there and holds the President hostage. He is, however, led to following the Sorceress, and is officially announced executed.

The SeeDs are then hired by Galbadia Garden, to kill the Sorceress, with the help of the master sharpshooter Irvine Kinneas, under her inauguration parade in Deling City. Rinoa, however, comes up with a plan of her own; to suppress the Sorceress' power with an Odine Brand item. She is struck down by the Sorceress, who then kills President Deling. Running through the parade, Squall is surprised to see Seifer, standing at the Sorceress' side. Squall and Irvine eventually reach Rinoa, Zell, Selphie and Quistis, and trap the Sorceress inside a gate. However, Irvine seems to lose it just before he is supposed to shoot her, but with a little help from Squall, he fires at the Sorceress. Edea blocks the shot with a magical barrier. Squall must then fight the Sorceress, but has to go through Seifer, who has now become Edea's protective Knight. Edea uses her ice Limit Break, which pierces Squall's chest and renders him unconscious.

Squall wakes up in the D-District Prison, where he is tortured by Seifer, who demands to know the true purpose of SeeD. Squall is knocked unconscious by the pain, but is rescued by a Moomba. His friends manage to escape as well, but upon escaping, they see that the Galbadians have launched missiles against Trabia Garden, and are planning to launch some at Balamb Garden as well. They split into two teams, one with Selphie as the leader, who try to stop the missile launch, and one with Squall, who go to warn Balamb Garden. Selphie's party fails to stop the missile launch in time, and barely escapes the self-destructing missile launch base inside a machine. Squall arrives to find Balamb Garden in an uproar; students are fighting each other, one side siding with the Headmaster Cid, and one with the Garden Master NORG. They eventually stop NORG, and find out that the Garden is mobile, and moves the Garden just in time before the missiles hit.

However, Balamb Garden isn't controllable, and they crash into Fisherman's Horizon. The crafty technicians there help restore the Garden into full functionality. When they go back to Balamb, they find that the Galbadians, under the supervision of Seifer's friends Fujin and Raijin, are searching for a woman named Ellone. They decide to go to Trabia Garden, Selphie's original Garden, where they suddenly remember that as children, they all, except Rinoa, lived in an orphanage together, cared for by a woman named Edea. They had forgotten all about their past because of the memory loss that using the GFs bring. They decide to go back to the orphanage, only to find out that Galbadia Garden had gotten there first. They prepare for an assault on the Garden, which is now under the control of Edea and Seifer. The many brave SeeDs show their skill, and they finally reach Edea, but are stopped by Seifer. Seifer is defeated once again, but appears again in the subsequent battle. When they finally defeat Edea, she returns to her normal state of mind; she has been possessed by a Sorceress called Ultimecia, who is said to be from the future. However, Rinoa becomes possessed by Ultimecia now, and manipulates Seifer, who is now merely Ultimecia's puppet. Rinoa then falls into a coma. The SeeDs return to the orphanage to speak with Edea, and learn of Ultimecia's plans for world domination.

Squall is overcome by emotions, and understands that he is in love with Rinoa. He will do anything to bring her back, and they go to the hidden nation of Esthar, to speak with Dr. Odine, the inventor of Guardian Forces, and specialist on Sorceresses. Edea joins the party to Esthar, and Squall carries Rinoa with him. In Esthar, Dr. Odine tells him where he can find Ellone, who might be able to help Squall find out what happened to Rinoa. They are launched into outer space, to Esthar's Lunar Base, where they are keeping the Sorceress Adel, who once ruled Esthar, confined. However, Rinoa wakes up and forces her way through those who might stop her. Back on the ground, Zell's party is shocked to see the Lunatic Pandora, a mighty pillar, that was used long ago to destroy the Centra continent by summoning monsters from the Moon, rise again from the ocean, due to Seifer. Rinoa goes out into outer space and destroys the seal upon Adel, who returns to the Lunatic Pandora. Squall goes after her, and rescues her from a death in outer space. They escape on the lost spaceship Ragnarok. However, Rinoa is now deemed a Sorceress, and Esthar demands that she be handed over to them, as she poses a threat to the world. Rinoa agrees to go with them, but Squall can't bear it, and rescues her. They then go to the Lunatic Pandora, where Seifer fights them one last time. After his defeat, he takes Rinoa, and offers her to Adel, who junctions Rinoa to herself. Squall fights Adel, and after her defeat, they travel forward in time with the help of Ultimecia's Time Compression, and reach Ultimecia's lair. After many grueling fights, in which they must reclaim their sealed abilities, they reach Ultimecia, and finally defeat her. Squall goes back into his past, and the land is now free from the tyranny of Sorceresses.

Music ::

The soundtrack for the game was Nobuo Uematsu's 23rd work for Square. Released on four Compact Discs by DigiCube in Japan, and by Square EA in North America a special orchestral arrangement of selected tracks from the game (arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi) was released under the title FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC, and a collection of piano arrangements (performed by Shinko Ogata) was released under the title Piano Collections: Final Fantasy VIII.

The Final Fantasy VIII theme song, "Eyes on Me", which Uematsu wrote and produced for Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong, sold a record breaking 400,000 copies. Placing it as the best-selling video game music disc ever released in Japan until the release of "Hikari" by Utada Hikaru for Kingdom Hearts. It also won "Song of the Year (Western Music)" at the 14th Annual Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1999. The first time a song from a video game ever won the honor.

Another popular song from the score of Final Fantasy VIII is "Liberi Fatali", a Latin choral piece that is played during the introduction to the game. "Liberi Fatali" was played during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens during the women's synchronized swimming event.

The Black Mages, a band that arranges music from Final Fantasy video games into a rock music style, has arranged five pieces from Final Fantasy VIII. These are "Force Your Way" from The Black Mages, published in 2003, "The Man with the Machine Gun" and "Maybe I'm a Lion", from The Skies Above, published in 2004, and "The Extreme" and "Premonition" from Darkness and Starlight.

Development ::

Character designer Tetsuya Nomura, while exchanging e-mails with director Yoshinori Kitase during the period between the development of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII, suggested that the game should have a "school days" feel. Because Nojima already had a story in mind in which the main characters were the same age, the idea worked. Thus, they created the concept of military academies, called "Gardens", in which students would train to become "SeeD" mercenaries. Nojima also planned for the two playable parties featured in the game — Squall's present day group and Laguna Loire's group of twenty years in the past — to highly contrast with one another. On one hand, Laguna's group consists of characters in their late twenties and have a lot of combat experience. They are also close friends who have fought together for a long time and trust one another. On the other hand, Squall's party is young and inexperienced, and Squall himself does not initially understand the value of friendship.

Kitase's expressed desire to give the game a foreign atmosphere ("foreign" being in relation to Japan); his objective with the environment was to create a largely European atmosphere. As part of the theme various designs were given to its locations using the style of internationally familiar places, while also maintaining a fantasy atmosphere. Inspiration ranged from ancient Egyptian and Greek architecture, to the city of Paris, France, to an idealized futuristic European society.

With Final Fantasy VII, protagonist Cloud Strife's reserved nature led Kazushige Nojima to include scenarios in which the player can select Cloud's responses to certain situations and dialogue. With Final Fantasy VIII, which also features a reserved lead protagonist in Squall, Nojima wanted to give players actual insight into what the protagonist is thinking, even while other characters remain uninformed.

In a Famitsu Weekly interview with Kitase, Nomura and Yuusuke Naoi, the team agreed that Final Fantasy VIII reflects Nomura's preferred technique, as opposed to Final Fantasy VII, which featured characters that "weren't really his style". The team had decided to use realistically proportioned characters. The higher level of full motion video technology would have otherwise created an inconsistency between the in-game graphics and the higher definition full motion video graphics. Additionally, Kitase explained that the main logo of the game — Squall and Rinoa embracing — was inspired by the team's efforts to express emotion through body language.

Nomura ended up altering each character's appearance before they reached the final design stage, which required sacrificing his original intentions. For instance, he had originally wanted Seifer Almasy to be involved in a love triangle with Rinoa and Squall. As another example, Quistis was to originally be designed with a skirt, but in the end was given a long skirt worn over pants. With Rinoa wearing a mini-skirt over shorts, this led to a conflict with the intended notion that one of the female characters would wear a skirt. A compromise was made in this regard with Selphie's design: she was originally intended to be wearing overalls, but Nomura decided that her outfit should be something of a combination of the two. Finally, when designing Rinoa, Nomura decided to make her "cute" and full of personality, instead of "too beautiful".

With Final Fantasy VIII came the inclusion of some designs Nomura had previously drawn, but had not yet used in a Final Fantasy game. These were the designs of Edea, Fujin and Raijin. The latter two had originally been designed for use in Final Fantasy VII, but with the inclusion of the Turks, it was felt that Fujin and Raijin were unnecessary. Nomura had designed Edea before the development of Final Fantasy VII, based on the style of Yoshitaka Amano.

Packaging Artwork ::

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Japan , U.S./Canada , Europe & US PC version




Posted 9/18/08
God I love this game. When I was a little boy, my big brother bought it for me. I played it for hours and hours. Than the discs broke for some reason. So I bought it again. The discs broke again. So I bought it again. The discs broke again. So I bought it again......and so on and so on....WTF WHY THE HELL DID IT KEEP BREAKING ON ME! Okay I feel better now. I play FF VIII VERY VERY OFTEN. I'll always remember it. ^_^
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Posted 9/19/08 , edited 9/19/08
Yesh! The only game so near and dear to my heart!!! I love it!! I have just about all versions of it. Greatest hits, Original, PC vesion, all it's demos (like the one that has Rinoa instead of Selphie in the first Seed mission), among others!!! I will never, never, ever tire of it!!! I'd play it more on my PS2 but.....for some reason it won't let me!!!!! (I've only passed it like 10 times....not nearly enough) =p
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Posted 9/20/08
The first time I ever played this game, it was only a demo. lol But then my brothers and I bought it. Oddly enough they weren't too fond of Rinoa. For some reason, she annoyed them o.O Haha.
Sadly, though, I no longer own a copy. :[
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Posted 10/21/08
Man i love this game. I remember when i first got it i couldn't stop playing it. passed it like 8 times and i still dont get tired of it. I also love playing triple triad online woooo so much fun.
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Posted 12/13/09
This is a good game under rated because of 7 but good game
cast of characters villians and heros alike
bosses are sick
and i live to fight bosses

8 needs a move a cg of course
no lame real life
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