No Chicken-Wusses Allowed (FF8 thread)

I got the remaster and so far I gotten to the point where you meet the Timber Owls. My wife has gone from “wanting to name all of the GFs after Pokemon or Disney princesses” to being invested in the game’s story and general dorkiness (though those aren’t mutually exclusive). As for myself, I don’t regret the purchase (I cut my teeth on the PC version, so I’m used to its shortcomings.)

I have a lot of weird nostalgia to unpack with this game. It was one of those mid-late-PS1/early-PS2 era games where my older brothers and a cousin who was living with us played together, gathered around a TV or huddled around a PC monitor. I never got to play myself, but I remember watching the majority of the game and several conversations they had about strategies. For me, FF8 is unique amongst those games because it’s the only one I ended up revisiting on my own terms (a few years later when I was around 15).

One random thing I remember is that the PC version of FF8 (and FF7) came with a cardboard cutout that would fit around the numpad and tell you the default controls (it even had the game’s logo on it). I remember that they’d always put that on the keyboard when playing. Sadly, I couldn’t find any pictures of it on the internet (just lots of pictures from sites selling keyboards).

So, when my older brothers were playing the game I remember them hitting a brick wall vs. Edea in Disc 2. Their playstyle at that point was still based on spamming summons and not engaging with the game’s magic-crafting economy. I forget what they did, but they eventually beat that fight and beat the game. My memory tells me that they played cards more and used summons less, so I think that they looked at a guide that told them what to do. When I first played the game for myself I ran into a similar stopping point (slightly earlier on). I recall following a low-level guide from that point on and that really (hilariously) trivialized the game.

Anyhow, with my current playthrough I’ve determined that I will use the refine abilities, but I won’t reference a guide or a speedrun to find out the optimal ways to bust open the game’s economies. I’ve been enjoying it thusfar. My favorite early-game shenanigan is to refine a bunch of tents into 10 Curagas apiece, allowing me to quite safely spam limit breaks when I’m at “low” health.

I’m a bit amazed at this point just how many refining-items the game dumps on you early on. Most of the early overworld encounters like to give you M-Stones (for tier 1 spells mostly), but also there’s a boss battle shortly after the SeeD exam that gives you 16 Wizard Stones (which translates to 80 -aga level spells). Frankly, I’m kind of amazed that my younger self (and I assume most other first-time players) just assumed all of those items were junk — though it kinda figures since refining is one of the game’s few systems to not receive a tutorial.

As for as the writing and characterization and such: I like it. There’s a lot of subtlety and nuance and stuff that I feel I missed when I was 10 or even 15. Like, I dunno, the awkwardness and physical comedy in the dancing scene is something I appreciate a lot more now as a late 20-something who has Actually Danced with Girls than as a teen whose thoughts on dancing were closer to Squall’s.

On the other hand, a lot of stuff that seemed complex or grandiose to young-me seems very straightforward in 2019. Like, even my wife who had no prior experience with Final Fantasy was able to tell that the bombastic opening cutscene was establishing relationships between Squall/Seifer, Edea/Rinoa, and Rinoa/Squall, even if she didn’t know the names. Likewise, the opening part of the Dollet mission is hilarious with how intense the music is, juxtaposed against the fact that you’re just repeating the same braindead fight 4 or 5 times in a row — though that probably has a lot to do with it being in the weeds of early-game RPG design where the design space can be limited.

FF8 is one of those few games I’m attached to enough that I could talk about it ad nausuem, but I’m typing this on my wretched phone so please feel free to talk about things like “How problematic is it to play a game that is largely uncritical of your mercanaryhood?” or “What in the world is a balamb fish?” or “Why did they never make a hoverboarding spinoff starring Zell?” or “What were the macroeconomic consequences of radio technology becoming unusable 18 years ago?”

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that ms paint meme of the guy with his hands on his cheeks and his eyes closed, but it’s me in front of this thread

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i’ve been tempted to play this again for the first time in a decade or so but i’m struggling to get it running without looking hideous / slight glitches in beetle

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play it on retroarch with a crt shader and super sampling tho

it’s so beautiful like this

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just be like me and play the remaster on a decade old 720p tv at a distance of 10 feet

you’ll hardly notice the mismatched resolutions at work!

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I remember when sims would do this because they used damn near every single key, but how many keys could FF involve?

The pc version still used PSX button icons in the game. I have not actually seen this overlay (my copy didn’t have a box) but maybe it was just to say what key was Square, Triangle, ETC?

This was extra fun when the game relayed what button to press, by telling you a number( which corresponded to a PlayStation button, which you activated by pressing something on your keyboard.

Good times, PC FFVIII

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this is valid

Here’s the FF7 numpad guide.

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From elementary school through junior high, I was a console loyalist, so when Square decided to go PlayStation for FF7, I figured I was done with Final Fantasy—until my friend showed me the game on PC. Getting it on PC myself with the keypad overlay in that photo was what convinced me to stop caring about console manufacturers and start caring about game developers.

When FF8 was nearing release, they had a monitor playing the opening on a loop at the game store in Wichita’s Town East shopping mall. My parents could tell I was interested, because they wound up getting it for me as a gift that year. I tried to be gracious about the fact that I didn’t also get a PlayStation, so there was no way for me to play it, because I think they were a bit embarrassed when they realized what happened. We picked up the console maybe a week later.

I played using a guide, but I barely engaged with the refinement mechanics; instead, I’d kill off extra enemies and then just draw from the one survivor over and over until I’d maxed my supply of the spells it offered. I’d repeat that process every time I encountered an enemy with a spell I hadn’t collected yet. Since spells were so valuable as stat boosters, I’d only ever cast those spells that weren’t junctioned to something already. If I were to replay this, I’d try to avoid falling into those same habits again, and deliberately play contrarily to my usual instincts: don’t get Boost on any of the GFs, don’t worry about spreading chaotic Triple Triad rules, actually use and refine items, etc.

Considering fishing is the only food production that gets any respect at all in FF8, it’s kind of surprising there wasn’t more of a fishing minigame.

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on my last playthrough I don’t think I used a single summon. they aren’t really worth it if you can get decent junctions from refining, you can usually do more more damage quickly with limit breaks and normal physical attacks

I was so dumb when i played this as a kid because I thought double and triple were useless when actually they are arguably the best spells in the game, especially for junctioning.

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I finished the first disc and it didn’t show me that interstitial image telling me to insert disc 2 what a scam 0/10 never playing again

oh and it’s 9/9/19 happy 20th birthday vidcon

Regarding the question of “ethics in mercenaryhood”, I like how the first mission you’re given is to provide a literally unlimited amount of service to an anarchist cell until they accomplish their goal (seriously they have clippings for a magazine called “Anarchist Monthly” in their train-base). It’s great.

Less great are Squall’s (obviously wrong) thoughts in the non-existence of good and evil while trying to squelch his doubts regarding the hairy politics of two garden heads and a general conspiring to assassinate the sorceress.

Speaking of which, the semiotics of the crowd raucously applauding Edea as she brutally murders President Nixon Deling in plain sight are hard to unpack, though he was a fascist so I think I answered my own question so okay nevermind.

The bus stops in Deling City are serviced by a bus every 30 seconds, which is absolutely incredible. Their train service is also astoundingly good (except when they’re closing them for fascist reasons).

Laguna is such a dork. I love him. Also, the fact that his house (and only his house) in Winhill is littered with bullet holes is hilarious to me. Makes me wonder what the story is there.

Also, the Laguna sequence at the start of disc 2 implies that Laguna and friends are at least vaguely aware of the influence that Squall’s party has on them, which implies that those sequences are more than just dreams/flashbacks. My Game Theory Brain is telling me that this influence is basically equivalent to the influence that Ultimecia exerts over prior sorceresses like Edea and Adel. I can’t remember if this is comfirmed later in the game or not.

This game does some weird stuff with spatial abbreviation in certain areas. Like when you head to the dorms in Balamb Garden it takes you directly to your dorm, and you never get to explore the other ones or the hallways between dorms. Or later on there’s a mansion, but entering the front door takes you to the meeting room, even though it’s implied that there are rooms between the entrance and that room. I can understand a couple reasons why they might have done this, but it does feel weird.

On a related note, I find it weird that the game has three consecutive dungeons (The Tomb of the Unknown King, the Deling sewers, and the D-District Prison) where the gimmick is (slightly different flavors of) “everything looks the same.” I wonder what the planning meetings that resulted in that decision were like.

I found an astonishingly low level card that refined into an item that could refine into 10 Meltdowns (a top 5 spell for defense junctioning), but now I’m kicking myself for not remembering where/how I got the card. Granted, it’s not like it matters too much since I’m rapidly approaching “too powerful to be challenged by anything”, but it would be at least be nice for my one dude who can’t junction to HP yet.

I haven’t been playing cards too much since I ran into the random draw rule, but in retrospect I feel that rule is just there to encourage you to refine all your junk cards.

I haven’t found any of the magazines that contain the ingredient list for weapon upgrades. Are there really none on the first disc, or did I just miss them?

Really nervous that I’ll miss out on a bunch of sidequests and stuff without referencing a guide.

*previews post* good grief i’m rambling (slow day at work again)

Reminding myself here and now to remind you folks of my wife’s reaction to the orphanage scene when the time comes.

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Your posts like this are the highlight of my day.

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I have thought about this and the more I think about it the more I decide that this detail unequivocally owns and makes the game better.

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feel free to ask for gentle hints. a lot of the sidequests are just like… really easy to miss. however I don’t think anything gets cut off until the very obvious point of no return before the final dungeon, so you have plenty of time to catch up on them at the endgame.

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“oh no we have to cut these scenes for time and budget”

“will that be a problem?”

“…maybe? Or not, it’s three in the morning, god I miss my cat”

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tomb of the unknown king at least has an interesting navigational gimmick. the deling sewers are short enough to where they just feel like mild padding

the d district prison though… I don’t know, I feel like they could have been trying to save disc space or man hours on assets or both. that’s probably the worst part of the game in terms of pacing, especially because they force you to backtrack the entire area again after making it to the top. and then to add further insult they arbitrarily add obstacles to make you run the entire way around the circle on each floor. somehow the fact that the moombas create “shortcuts” by removing like two of them is even more insulting.

I still feel like in the grand scheme of the game’s pacing these sequences are over relatively quick.

it’s worth watching ff8 speedruns to see the ways that they handle some of these. speedrunners have figured out all these weird details that are tied to the RNG seed for the tomb quest so you don’t even need to go in there at all. it’s almost like black magic divination, I’m pretty sure you can figure the answer out by counting the number and spacing of power lines that pass by on the train to deling city. I love shit like that.

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I always interpreted that part as the crowd being under the sorceress’ thrall

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that makes sense, but what if they’re just like “damn the sorceress owns”

it’s extra hilarious because she just straight up calls the crowd “shameless filthy wretches” and they LOVE IT and I’m like actually in 2019 that’s pretty realistic

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I still think this is the case to a some extent. I just think that dramatically meaningful mind control requires an appeal to some desire or another of the party being controlled. Like with Seifer and his desire for an authority figure to approve of his brand of nonsense, or with Kain having the hots for his best friend’s girlfriend.

so yeah, I like the idea of the sorceress manipulating the people by appealing to their desire for a regime change, while simultaneously appealing to the desire for blood and conquest that the previous regime had instilled in them. Or, in other words, the people want change in the abstract sense but don’t want to critically reexamine what real, positive change would look like, making them ripe pickings for manipulation. (something something also very 2019)

I feel like the prison’s internal design is entirely in the service of generating a sense of spectacle and surprise during the exterior reveal. (In this context it’s funny you can see the prison in the up position on the overworld map in disc 1.) The fact that it was economical to produce seems like a secondary concern. Also, it’s really not that bad if you’ve got enc-half or enc-none set. (plus the walking distance means more sweet SeeD paychecks)

My real issue with the prison (having played it last night) is with how often you switch parties — it’s a real pain to be switching junction sets all the time and remembering who has what.

To mitigate that issue, since I have enough GFs for each of the 6 main party members, I think I’m going to assign a GF to each one and make those assignments (semi) permanent. If my theorycrafting is correct, that should make my team less over-powered and have a more diverse range of builds (rather than being all-limit-breaks-all-the-time). Getting enough magic for everyone might be tedious though. Hoping this turns out well.


Sending an all-girls party to the missile base is the correct choice if only for the fact they do a magical girl transformation into their normal outfits near the end.

I forgot how funny Rinoa’s limit breaks with the dog are. Angelo Cannon, where Rinoa causes an explosion by firing her dog from her wrist, is astounding. And whatever the one where the dog grabs the enemy and flips around in the air several times with it is hilarious to see applied to a giant tank. My wife was quite astonished at both.

Also, I completely forgot that the missile base just straight up explodes without giving any clue as to how your party could possibly survive. Genuinely curious how they’ll justify their survival. Feels great to not remember everything. (This post is brought to you by the Guardian Force Users’ Association.)

Hyper Technologies is a bit of a disappointing name for a military contractor in a setting like this, but I do appreciate how their missiles use evil magical eyes as their tracking systems.

The fact that “Squall swooping down from side of the screen with his gunblade in hand” is one of his stock animations (I counted it 3 times last night) is incredible.

Rajin and Fujin are great. They have better chemistry than most of the canonical couples in this game. Also, whenever I think of them I’m bummed out that the FF8 sequel that the GIA announced with them as playable characters was just an April Fools joke.

Of all the stupid plot contrivances in this game, NORG is my favorite. “Inexplicable landlord in the basement” is such a great concept for a petty minor villain, and him intruding on everyone’s business out of nowhere at the worst possible time is perfectly in character for a petty landlord.

The boss fight against the two slug things in the garden basement was the awkward brick wall I ran into in my last playthrough (in my teens) that forced me look at a guide and respec. They were only minor bumps in the road this time.

I ended my play session shortly after the garden took flight, and my wife vocally protested because she wanted to know who the heck NORG was (“honey it’s 11:30 and we have work tomorrow”). She is now fully invested in this game’s nonsense.

These posts will continue as long as I have nothing to do at work.

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