Final Fantasy VIII: A Remake Worthy of its Quirks and Quandaries
Rumors of a Final Fantasy IX remake have been buzzing around the internet lately, but let's be honest, Final Fantasy VIII is the one that truly needs ...
Rumors of a Final Fantasy IX remake have been buzzing around the internet lately, but let's be honest, Final Fantasy VIII is the one that truly needs a rebirth in the modern era.
I mean, come on! Final Fantasy VII is still in the middle of its epic remake trilogy, so it only makes sense for Square Enix to finish Cloud Strife's grand return before diving into other remakes, right? Well, that's what we thought until 2021 came along and the Nvidia GeForce Now leak happened. Dataminers uncovered a list of upcoming titles, and guess what? Final Fantasy IX remake was on that list! It's still unannounced, but it sent shockwaves through the fans.
Now, here's the kicker: Final Fantasy IX getting a remake ahead of Final Fantasy VIII. And why? Well, the most plausible explanation is that it's a promotional tie-in to the upcoming Final Fantasy IX animated series. But let's be real, Final Fantasy VIII is the one in dire need of a makeover, despite already having a fancy remaster on modern platforms.
The biggest problem with Final Fantasy VIII lies in its story. It's notorious for its mind-boggling plot twists and underdeveloped characters. I mean, who can forget the magical-induced amnesia plot that sneaks up on you halfway through the game? From there, things just spiral into utter nonsensicality. What starts as a military-themed story about mercenaries transforms into something unrecognizable, with fantastical elements left unexplained and unexplored. It's like taking a road trip to a fantasy realm with no GPS and no idea where you're going.
Oh, and let's not forget the time-travel plot involving Laguna. Sure, it might make more sense on a second playthrough, but for first-timers, it's like navigating through a labyrinth of confusion. You find yourself playing lengthy sections with new characters seemingly unrelated to the main story, and you're left scratching your head, wondering what in the world is going on.
And then we have the villain, Ultimecia. Talk about a disappointment! She's as flat as a pancake, with the most generic evil villain motives. When you compare her to her predecessors, Sephiroth and Kuja, she pales in comparison. Sephiroth had depth and presence, while Kuja had style and charisma. Ultimecia? She's just another obstacle to overcome before the credits roll. A Final Fantasy VIII remake could give her the makeover she desperately needs and make her a villain worth fighting.
Now, a Final Fantasy VIII remake doesn't have to go all multiverse and timelines like its predecessor. But it does have the opportunity to tidy up the story, trim the sillier elements (yes, amnesia, I'm looking at you), and give some much-needed attention to the underdeveloped characters.
On the other hand, Final Fantasy IX doesn't require as much work on its story. While it may have some quirky guide problems, overall, the story holds up quite well. The only change it could use is perhaps swapping out the final villain, using Kuja instead of introducing a new character in the game's final hour.
The Final Fantasy series is known for its experimental shifts between games, and Final Fantasy VIII is no exception. Its gameplay system is one of the most unique in any RPG. You have to steal magic from enemies and apply it to your stats, offering countless options for character customization. The only problem? It's poorly explained in the original game, leaving newcomers scratching their heads and potentially underpowered.
But the real kicker is how exploitable Final Fantasy VIII's combat and stat system are. The game matches the enemy's level to that of your party, and with a little finesse, you can break the game's difficulty within the first few hours. The Card Mod ability, for example, lets you turn Triple Triad cards into end-game items, making the rest of the game a cakewalk. A remake can address these issues, get rid of level-scaling, scrap the Card Mod ability, and fine-tune the Junction/Draw system to prevent overpowered heroes.
And don't even get me started on those ridiculously long summon sequences. The Guardian Forces need a serious makeover. Their cutscenes were a source of mockery in the PS1 era. If they come back as powerful attacks in the remake, they need to have their cutscenes considerably trimmed down. We don't need to watch a ten-minute spectacle every time we want to unleash their mighty power.
Final Fantasy IX doesn't suffer from these problems. Its gameplay system is straightforward, and it's far more challenging to exploit than its predecessor. The only issue with the base game was its slow combat system, which was addressed with the fast-forward option in its remaster on modern consoles.
But let's not forget Final Fantasy VIII's penchant for hiding its biggest secrets behind obscure clues. Backin the day, players had to scour the game's world for hidden hints, draw magic from specific enemies, and piece together puzzles to unlock powerful abilities and items. While this added a sense of mystery and discovery, it also led to frustration and confusion for many players. A remake could streamline these mechanics, providing clearer hints and making the process of obtaining rare items and abilities more intuitive.
Despite its flaws, Final Fantasy VIII has its unique charm and memorable moments. The romance between Squall and Rinoa, the iconic ballroom dance scene, and the breathtaking setting of Balamb Garden are just a few examples. A remake could enhance these aspects, fleshing out the characters' relationships and motivations while delivering stunning visuals and updated music.
Speaking of music, let's not forget about Final Fantasy VIII's incredible soundtrack composed by Nobuo Uematsu. The original game's score is already fantastic, but imagine hearing updated versions of "Eyes on Me" or "Liberi Fatali" with a full orchestra and modern production. A remake would give us the opportunity to experience these beloved tracks in a whole new way.
In conclusion, while Final Fantasy IX may be in line for a remake, it's Final Fantasy VIII that truly deserves a modern reimagining. Its convoluted story, underdeveloped characters, and gameplay quirks are all areas that could benefit from a fresh take. With a remake, Square Enix could refine the narrative, improve character depth, streamline gameplay mechanics, and create a visually stunning experience that captures the essence of the original while addressing its shortcomings. Final Fantasy VIII has the potential to shine brightly in the modern gaming landscape, and it's time for Square Enix to give it the attention it deserves.