Final Fantasy has been around for what must be eons now, in gaming terms of life, a franchise that has had ups and downs, while expanding in too all manner of media at the same time. Not every game released by its developers, Square-Enix has been a license to print cash, but back in the summer of 99, the eighth proper instalment in that legacy-building series was a breath of fresh air, taking the advances that the iconic seventh game had made, and expanding on them greatly.
Even though the story hasn’t exactly aged well (Child soldiers! Battling buildings! Something about time compression!), the core gameplay has remained ahead of its time over the years. It’s a complex system, where using magic doesn’t require points, but is rather based on how much of it is stocked, and drawn from enemies.
That’s where the Junction system came in. Although tedious at first, outfitting a character with the right spells, defenses and Guardian Forces soon became second nature. Handled properly, you could build up a teenaged mercenary who could absorb a magic blow instead of getting damaged.
It’s a hell of a deep system to get invested in, but combined with the right items, abilities and attributes, it made for one deep and intuitive form of combat. I still love this game, and even though time hasn’t been as kind to everything else in this title, it still holds a special place in my heart, as one of the very first new Playstation games that I ever bought.
It’s on sale right now on the PSN, for R45, and considering that the first disc took me around ten hours to beat, that’s a damn good price to pay for a game that was clearly ahead of the curve. Great combat systems, an even better soundtrack, and one trippy story in an open world that was just overflowing with hidden quests, treasures and spells combined for one magical title.
As much fun as FF7 was, the eighth game was just so much better in terms of gameplay, and needs to be experienced at least once in the life of every gamer.