Right now, in that title above, I’ve committed one of the worst crimes among the gaming community: I’m not a fangirl of Final Fantasy VII. For those who pop off about how VII is superior to the rest of the long-running franchise, to not agree with them is suicide. Why? Because they refuse to consider the possibility that their beloved Final Fantasy VII is over-hyped. Released in 1997, it was a huge hit on the PlayStation console, but what most gamers don’t know is that the game actually started to be developed back in 1994 and was originally intended for the SNES. Since that didn’t work out, plans shifted to bringing it to the N64, but due to the cartridge not being able to handle it, plans changed again and it was ultimately released on the PSX. Yes, I recognize how financially successful it was. Yes, I recognize how insane it was to kill of a major character like with what happened to Aeris. And yes, I know that it’s the highest selling title in the entire franchise. But… numbers aren’t everything.
In terms of graphics, Final Fantasy VII was terrible. Compared to FF VIII, which came out on the same system, VII looks like something you would’ve seen on the N64. Seriously. The FMV’s in VIII were better, the in-game graphics were better, and holy cow… did the characters look better. I felt that I was able to connect with Squall better than with Cloud, and that throughout the time I played it, I saw Squall grow and come out of his shell. Now, I should probably say that I played the hell out of FF VIII. I maxed out the in-game clock, I bred to get the gold chocobo, I got everything you could possibly look for. I even got a weapon that wasn’t even in the strategy guide: Rising Sun. I cleaned up in that game. Even though I spent all of that time, I still never connected with it the way that I did when playing VIII.
Sure, I got weepy when I saw Aeris die, but seeing Rinoa almost die in space affected me more. The song “Eyes on Me” by Faye Wong was touching, gorgeous, and boy did that bring me to tears. The love between Rinoa and Squall was so cute at first, but then it developed into this deep bond, and it was beautiful. I felt like I was playing this amazing fairy tale, and I never wanted it to end. Speaking about the ending, it was far more rewarding than what VII gave me, and I really felt like I had a sense of closure.
For the villain, I wasn’t impressed with Sephiroth. Sure he had the long hair, and he carried a big sword (that’s what she said), but he had his Mommy issues, and that’s not scary. With Edea, you had a woman who was possessed by the crazy Ultimecia, and all Hell broke loose. Squall took a bolt through his chest, Cid lost his wife for awhile, and Rinao ended up getting caught in the clutches of Ultimecia. The other characters in your party were awesome and brought their own touch to the game. Selphie was clumsy and playful, Quistis was the teacher you wanted to sleep with, Irvine was the cool cowboy, Zell was the “tough guy” you just wanted to punch and say to knock it off, and then there was the bit with Laguna and friends. In VII, Vincent, to me at least, was the only one I really became interested in, and Cait Sith was a riot.
Final Fantasy VIII also introduced the Junction system with the guardian forces, and when I hooked up Squall to Eden, I was unstoppable. Of course it wasn’t like in FF VII where you maxed out the Mimic materia, put it on all of your peeps, and then used a maxed out Knights of the Round. Now that shit was cheap.
I’ll forever have fond memories of both, and I proudly have them in my Final Fantasy collection, but for me it’s all about VIII.