The year was 1999, and I was a nerdy tween girl with basically 1 actual reliable friend who didn’t think I was a hopeless dork: my Sony Playstation. It never let me down, and it continues to this very day to hold some of my favorite video games of all time in its roster.
One of which is the critically acclaimed, but honestly mostly skipped over, Final Fantasy VIII.
This addition to the long-running Final Fantasy series by Square Enix has had a difficult time finding footing when it was released, mostly because it was nestled between two relative behemoths:
Sitting on one end was Best Girl FFVII, with Cloud Strife’s existential clone-angst and Avalanche’s eco-terrorism absolutely blowing all of our collective minds (insert stupid rant about politics in gaming here).
The other bookend just so happens to be FFIX, with a return to high-fantasy that plenty praised as being a huge step up for the series, which it was (also containing lots of PoLiTiCs).
This remains one of my favorites, as does FFVII, but I always had to ask myself why the game between the two seemed less well-received by fans.
Then came the much-beloved, but honestly hot piece of garbage called FFX (subjective opinion is subjective). When FFX hit the PS2 like a mako reactor explosion, FFVIII got the snub.
After this, fans of the series received plenty of remasters. FFX got a remaster. FFIX got a remaster. FFXII got an upgrade / remaster. Hell, even the dumpster fire that is FFX-2 got a remaster.
Sadly, FFVIII was always skipped over, and fans of the game started theorizing that Square had actually lost the source files in the 2000s.
It seemed like our best girl wasn’t ever going to get the gold-star treatment. Or even the bronze-star treatment, for that matter.
I lost hope on this front, just as I lost hope that Parasite Eve was going to get the love it deserved, instead of just shitty pornified sequels.
I still feel this in my bones, to this very day, that FFVIII is one of the best games of all time. One that, despite being highly praised at the time, still had people complain about it.
Forget about it. Forget about its dank card game. Forget about the magic it held for so many like me.
And now with the recent remaster, FFVIII is prompting people who probably never played the game when it came out, to complain about stuff that literally doesn’t affect the gameplay at all:
Gamers, for no apparent reason, need their godlike-monster-summons to show bush in order to appreciate the game. Never you mind that you should be paying more attention to bashing the square button to boost your summons, and Siren’s crotch should be the least of your concerns.
The remake is therefore abominable, to some people, some people that are making me lose my shit.
Even now with the whiny Steam reviews, from people with slow computers who somehow think you can magically ‘upgrade’ 4:3 resolution pre-rendered backgrounds to 16:9 like it’s ‘no big thang’, I can’t help but plug my ears and go “la la la la la, can’t hear you over the sound of my gunblade“.
My response, as a fan of the game, who never, ever thought it’d get a remaster, not in a million years, is this:
Why did gamers complain for years about how confusing the Junction system was, when I, a literal 12 year old, was not confused by it?
Why don’t more people wax nostalgic about one of the most cinematic, awe-inspiring opening scenes to ever grace any video game, ever?
How come we all forgot about Triple Triad, hands-down the BEST in-game card game, ever? Gwent is heralded as the second coming, but holy shit was Triple Triad goddamn addictive!
Do you know how many hours I blew through on Triple Triad just to get my Husband Laguna Lore in my deck?
Do you? No? Neither do I, but it was a lot. I was a little kid my first go-around, so you can forgive me for not being able to figure out which part of my 100hr+ playthrough was solely based around the card game.
Was I one of the only ones smitten with Zell Dincht, his unyielding optimism, and his love of hotdogs? Was I one of the only ones who was hysterically laughing about the fact that he only reaches his hot dog goals during the game’s ending credits?
Was I, and am I, one of the only people that puts FFVIII at the top of the list of best games of all time?
Have my nostalgia goggles made me blind to its faults? Will they make me blind to whatever everyone else is yelling about, concerning this remaster?
The answer is simple: No.
Peoples’ shit-tier tastes, by and large, have made them sleep on FFVIII.
And I’m losing my shit because instead of enjoying this game, they’re whining, and should just be happy we even got a remaster in the first place.
With the remaster taking full swing—literally last Tuesday—I’m expecting a metric fuckton of people realizing how dumb they’ve been about this title.
I’m also expecting to not at all be phased by whatever faults I find in this remaster.
And why is this? Because it cannot, and will not, disappoint me unless it is absolutely unplayable. Which it isn’t, because I just body-checked the child running around Balamb Garden until he gave me his Mog card. It is decidedly playable on a non-gaming laptop.
This remaster is another chance to show people this title. A title that gets lost sometimes in the quagmire between 7 and 9, and gets passed over for the abomination that is 10.
Why can’t gamers be excited when they get an unexpected gift?
Why can’t they be excited about a remaster we never thought would ever, ever happen?
Now, people who were too young to play this game and totally missed the golden-era of PSX JRPGs get a chance to pick up FFVIII, with at least marginally improved graphics to lure the dweebs who prefer style over substance.
I am excited. Yes. I am Absolutely Losing My Shit.
FFVIII is stuck between two behemoths. Don’t sleep on this title, please. And don’t believe the whiny manchildren.
You may not be freaking out, and you may not even feel the remaster was very good. You might not like the story, and you might find the Junction system too confusing. You might want to yell at me because the garbage that is FFX is your favorite game.
But I urge you to try to sit down, clear your mind, and just soak this all in. Take this remaster in, with your whole heart.
Open up your ears to the soundtrack, actually read the words on the screen and try to understand a plot that a 12 year old was able to get.
Maybe, just maybe, if you leave your crap at the door, make peace with the fact your computer sucks, and just accept this amazing gift we’ve been given, you, too, can enjoy a title that has given me countless years of joy.
You’ll never know unless you truly, truly try.