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From active time battling to zombie slaying, waffling Taylors covers video games and beyond.
In this episode, we are joined by OG Waffler and long-time friend of the show Lulu to to talk about the anniversary of Final Fantasy eight on the PS one. In this episode, we cover everything from triple triad addiction, bazooka abuse and the original Selphie.
So without further ado, sit back, grab some snacks, and get ready for this episode entitled "Final Fantasy VIII Anniversary - Phantom Dick Pain"
Take it away guys.
That’s right! This episode is all about Final Fantasy VIII. Some say that it’s the black sheep, or weird middle child of the group of 90’s J-RPGs created by SquareSoft for the PlayStation; but, as you’ll find out in this episode, it’s the favourite of both Jay and Lulu—with Final Fantasy IX in a very close second for everyone in the episode.
Speaking (well, writing) of which, Lulu joined the lads for this episode:
So we have a guest today to help us. She is our local Final Fantasy expert. She needs no introduction…
But you’re gonna get one anyway! Hi guys, it’s me!
Lulu needed to join the lads for the 25th ANNIVERSARY of Final Fantasy VIII. But not just because it’s Lulu’s favourite entry in the PlayStation Final Fantasy games, but also because it’s the game that Jay and her met and bonded over. Meaning that it’s a celebration of 25 years of friendship, too.
But that means that it was also a time for the three of them to shout at clouds:
Okay. I’d love to have my back not click in the morning.
I felt that on a spiritual level.
I felt that in the ibuprofen.
The episode was broken into several shorter conversations, all prompted by Squidge’s list of questions. The first of which was:
Describe Final Fantasy VIII In Three Words
Mother f%@$ing good!
Says it all, really.
Succession of witches
Whilst Jay’s was subjective, Lulu’s was objective and perfect.
And Squidge’s had more truth than anything else:
Triple Triad Addiction
And that sparked a conversation about Triple Triad and how it can’t hurt you (or can it?).
How Did We React To Final Fantasy VIII When We Finally Got Our Grubby Mitts On It?
Lulu went first; here’s the Reader’s Digest version of her answer:
Oh, God, I remember.
There was a demo in a PlayStation magazine—which I still have. I still have that playable demo, and I just remember getting it. This was like after school as well. Me and my friends walked to the local news agents close to our school, all bought our copy, said "adiós."
I went home and just played it so many times that night because it was the Dollet infiltration mission. And I just played it so much. And we all came back together in the morning and we were just talking about it and just being so excited for this game.
Oh, Final Fantasy VIII. Even now, I will confidently say it is my favourite Final Fantasy.
And Jay went next:
Oh, man. It’s similar reactions. I remember playing the demo that’s on the Dollet mission. And was it time limited? Because what I’m pulling from my memory is that it’s one of the first times you meet the spider.
-A-M blah, blah. Yeah, the crab spider, boss
Jay then went on to drop some knowledge on your faces—or ears, or whatever:
And the camera pans up slightly slowly and fades out at the same time because that was the end of the demo.
I seem to remember watching some video of, like, an introduction by some of the development team or something, and they were saying about how unlike Final Fantasy VII, which the character models were, like the in battle models, weren’t as detailed as the Final Fantasy VIII ones. And they were saying how the skins as applied to the models were seamless. They did have seams, but they were able to encode it…
OK, for those who don’t quite get how skins go onto 3d models. Imagine you have, like, a box and you’re wrapping Christmas paper or gift wrap around it. That’s quite literally how a texture is applied to a 3d model. And there’s going to be a seam because you start at one end and you wrap around and get to the other end. And what they’d said was they’d created the textures such that there was an overlapping element.
So instead of the textures having a defined beginning and end, the beginning would have a copy of a couple of pixels of the end tacked on the left hand side of it. And the end would have a copy of the pixels from the beginning tacked onto the right hand side of it. So what they did was they literally overlapped it, and you couldn’t see where the edge was, which apparently was a big innovation, which, I mean, it was an innovation.
What Are The Stickiest Sticking Points Of The Game?
Squidge’s question was way more long form than a title would allow, so here it is:
With all of the potential sticking points of the game that really stay in your mind to this day. What’s like, the ones that stick with you the most? Are they like story driven? Is it a side quest? Is it a particular mechanic?
Lulu’s answer was in two parts: one from her 13 year old self (from when the game came out), and one looking back on it with a more mature outlook:
I think if you’d have asked me this when I was, God, how old was 13/14 years old? What’s my favourite moment from Final Fantasy VIII? I think being a young girl, I would have said the ballroom scene because it’s so iconic. It’s like Final Fantasy VI’s opera scene, and Final Fantasy VII with "the end of disc one event.".
But now that I’m older, the scene that sticks out for me, and because it’s one of those moments which it’s only when you get older, you realize how horrifying it is: Rinoa floating in space, and the silence when the music stops, and you just sat there watching her slowly floating through this vast, empty void. And it’s so horrifying.
And especially if you mess that bit up; because there’s like a chase sequence almost with Squall trying to catch her. And if you don’t catch her, this little gray box comes up saying, "Rinoa was lost in space forever." It’s so horrifying.
Where Lulu focussed on how the narrative in the game had affected her, Jay wanted to talk about a single mechanic:
One of the things I really, really liked was the boost mechanic for when you were summoning your Guardian Forces, your summons, you could hold down select and mash that square button.
It’s maybe not everyone’s favourite thing. And it was played for laughs because there was a shed load of comic relief in the scene. But when Laguna is trying to approach Julia in the bar and she’s singing "Eyes On Me," it’s played for laughs. It’s clearly not "leg cramp."
But him approaching her, and not really having the confidence to do it, and then finally approaching her. And then afterwards, the full actual song is included in the game. And that’s not something that was done in Final Fantasy games up to that point. All of the music was MIDI based, which is just small instructions for the sound chip to generate the sound.
But the actual song Eyes On Me, as sung by Faye Wong, was included in the game with the lyrics and everything.
We’ll not mention Jay’s misunderstanding of Zell and hot dogs—he’d been told by someone, many years ago, that it was an allegory for Zell being homosexual; but this is simply, patently, and obviously not true. It’s a reference to yakisoba pan, which is fried noodles in a hot dog bun.
Side Note: Missing Content & Squall’s Lineage
Lulu brought up the point that there are multiple reports of a missing FMV where Laguna and Squall both look up at the moon, in a similar pose, across time. Apparently this was meant to show a direct link between them.
And as the Final Fantasy Wikia points out:
In the Debug Menu, among the FMVs listed for disc 2, are ones called Laguna/Squall watching the moon. When played, they show scenes from the Battle of the Gardens—indicating these FMVs were left out. There also exists a promotional CG artwork that depicts Squall and Laguna looking at the night sky, which may have been part of this unused FMV at one point. There are also dozens of unused battle formations with Esthar soldiers being fought in Esthar City. All this may indicate that a good portion of Laguna scenes may have been cut.
And Squidge’s sticky moments (no, not that kind of sticky moment):
So the action sequences stuck out to me the most. I only got so far in the game, my first try. So hopefully I’ll get the pronunciation of this right because I’ve heard it done different ways. Is it Quistis?
So for me, it was Quistis laying into the robot with that Gatling gun. I was bouncing up and down, just. And it was after sort of experiencing your sprite, your character, you’re moving it while the cutscenes going. That blew my mind completely at the time because I’d never seen it before. So there was that. That always got me going. To this day, it still gets me a little pumped up.
So the point where you’ve got the—I don’t want to call it a civil war, but a war between the gardens. So the sorceresses forces against Garden.
So you’ve got Squall hanging on a robot, hanging on a glider, punching the other guy, trying to get him off to save Rinoa, right? I always messed that up because I was concentrating on the background. And then when he saves her, when they’re running across it, it’s just that whole massive situation. I love things like that, and I always have to. Sometimes I almost die because I’m just watching the background. Everything going on. You’re running through it.
Final Fantasy VIII Music
Squidge’s next question was about the music, composed by the absolute legend Nobuo Uematsu:
If someone said to you: "Final Fantasy VIII music, what would you suggest?" What suggestions would you give for music to listen to apart from the Garden you start off in, Fisherman’s Horizon and Liberi Fatali—which is the intro cinematic.
What would you suggest other than that? Because I think those three come up. Quite a lot.
So other than the three that you suggested, my suggestions would actually be:
Premonition—which is the boss battle music against Edea and Ultimecia. Such a good track
The track itself, Succession of Witches—the one with the harps and accordion. So good
And then my third choice would be The Extreme—which is the third form of Ultimecia, her battle theme. So good
Those three. Absolutely outstanding. And they don’t get enough love and attention.
It’s incredibly difficult picking out just three tracks from the Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack because they’re all absolute bangers. Lulu picked wonderfully, but how did Jay fare?
Well, okay, so mine, they have to be:
First off, the OG, the winner is definitely Breezy, right?
Maybe I’m A Lion
Man With A Machine Gun
I have to say Eyes On Me, everyone says it anyway.
And Shuffle Or Boogie, which is the song that plays during the Triple Triad games
And Squidge’s suggestion was rather controversial:
I’m going to say something that might be a slight controversial here. I’ve got one track and one track only, and that’s Man With A Machine Gun.
However, I would say the game version, not The Black Mages version. The Black Mages version. The Black Mages version has got some beef to it. It’s really nice. It’s got some meat on its bones. But the original game version, there’s just something about it.
Controversial Plot Points?
In your opinion, what [are] the more controversial plot points? So things like time compression and again, spoiler, and the orphanage twist.
For me, the more controversial points would be sending teens on an assassination mission. But what’s sort of like the most controversial bits for you?.
Lulu came in hot on this one:
I think just because it’s a fandom theory that has been debunked, and also, if you’ve got—I’m not saying that people are stupid, but it is a case of, "if you just engage your brain for just a second, you’ll realize that the theory is wrong." The "Squall Is Dead" theory. Yeah. I personally don’t buy it because, again, it’s another thing that I think a lot of people haven’t realized, or they have, and they just really want to buy into the "Squall Is Dead" is that at: the end of the game, when time compression’s sort of happening but not happening, Squall goes back to the orphanage when he was, I think he was about four or five years old, and he witnesses Edea doing the right of succession with Ultimecia, and that is what they call a predestination paradox. If you’ve watched the Terminator movies, you know what it is. It’s when Kyle Reese goes back, and that moment has to happen for the game to happen. So it’s in a constant loop.
And I think, in a weird way, if they were ever to remake Final Fantasy VIII, and they said that they’re making changes to VII because the OG technically didn’t have a happy ending. And if you think of it in terms of Final Fantasy VIII, well, neither did they because that loop is going to start again at some point because he went back and had that conversation with Edea in the past, and it’s just going to constantly loop.
So technically, yes, there was a happy ending, but it’s not an ending because it’s going to happen again. So if they did ever remake Final Fantasy VIII, I’d like them to address this and maybe change it. So you do defeat Ultimecia once and for all. And that would be the happy ending, because no more loops.
Whereas Jay’s was the “Who Shot JR?” of Final Fantasy VIII: Guardian Force’s cause memory loss because reasons:
I’m just going to echo what you guys are saying about the [Guardian Forces] causing memory loss thing. It was very clearly shoehorned in, and it’s a case of a bunch of writers got themselves into a corner where they were like, "right, how do we explain it? We can go with some kind of magical moonbeam, or we can just go, ‘hey, you know these things that you’ve been equipping since the beginning and that we told you you have to equip to progress through the game?'"
It is possible to play final Fantasy VII and never have Squall equip a [Guardian Force] at all. But obviously, the story means that he still loses his memory and all that kind of stuff. And I think there’s, like, a throwaway line about how he had them equipped before that first training mission and stuff like that. But, yeah, it does feel like it’s been sort of shoehorned in.
So I think from my perspective, that’s the most controversial bit. So I get why they did it, and I get why it was shoehorned in the way it was. But I feel like maybe an extra couple of days, if they’d have had it, to think of a slightly different way of bringing in, "right. Everybody got memory wiped or whatever."
And Squidge’s was related to not being able to wrap his head around time compression:
For me, I don’t know. I’ll be honest. I’ve seen the ending. I’ve seen the battle. I got up to, let’s see, I think it’s on disc four. You know when you’re prepping to go to the moon and Laguna is explaining how time compression works, and, "you’ve got to think of yourself in the future, in the past, and we’ll do this, we’ll get there, we’ll go into time compression, we’ll go to Bowser’s castle, and we’ll fight different parts and then take an Ultimecia."
I got to that point and my brain just went, "nope. I haven’t seen enough schlocky, Sci-Fi, Dr Who to understand any of this."
Favourite Guardian Force?
This question seems pretty self explanatory, but it’s way deeper than it might originally seem.
I’m gonna say Diablos.
Yeah, Diablos. I just really like how you obtain him. I like his style. I love his summoning, cinematic sequence. It’s just so cool and very much my aesthetic, personally anyway. So, yeah, if it’s not him, probably Cerberus. Because again: Hell’s Gate, and who Cerberus is in mythology, and so on and so forth. So, yeah, I think it’d be between those two for me.
It’s got to be either Tonberry or Sabotender. It has to be.
The way you unlock Tonberry is just like, that’s a proper test of skill. And then just being able to summon this thing that can insta-kill something.
Or being able to summon like, a 25 foot tall cactus that shoots pine needles at things. I mean, just. Yeah, let’s do it. Sign me up.
I’m going to quote Dylan Moran here.
I’m going to say Doom Train because it is fabulously f%@$ing stupid. On top of the fact it’s bat $h#t on toast. It’s what it is. And I love it.
To this day, I still don’t know what it does, but I remember getting it and I’m like, "I’m using this. I don’t care what it does in the battle. I’m using it because it makes no sense."
What Was The Most Pain-in-the-Ass Guardian Force For You To Acquire?
See, I want to say Doom Train because you’ve got to get all those random bloody items. But my heart says Eden because of the deep sea research centre, because you’ve got to go through Bahamut first, which is a pain in the dick, and I don’t have a dick, and I felt pain in it.
That’s how bad it was. I got phantom dick pain
I think it’s got to be Brothers. I hated going to find the place in the middle of nowhere, work your way around the maze. And I just hate it.
For me, I’m gonna be honest. I’ve. I’ve tried and nearly completed it three separate times. Realizing different parts, understanding more of the game as I grew up. But for me, it’s trying to get Odin early.
That was such a pain. That was in the first disc, and if you got him early, Seifer would slice him in half, and then he got Gilgamesh, and I thought, "I want that."
A Question of Triple Triad
Squidge’s next question was another complex one:
If you could create a Triple Triad competition with most of the more memorable characters from Final Fantasy VIII, who would make the top six? Who would win overall? And most importantly, who would be the craftiest?
Okay, so six characters. Edea, Rinoa, Seifer, Selphie, Irvine—because he doesn’t go anywhere without Selphie…
Yeah, bring that b%@$h in!
I think the craziest, and I mean, this thing, like, who would get more into it intensely would be Zell. I think he’d be the one that be like, throwing down cards, and effing and jeffing all over the place, and threatening to head butt people. So, yeah, definitely Zell would be the craziest.
Although saying that Selphie does have a thing about bazookas. So neck and neck.
And Jay couldn’t possibly improve on Lulu’s suggestion.
And with that, the episode on Final Fantasy VIII’s 25th anniversary came to a close. Did you play Final Fantasy VIII when it first came out, did you play the remaster, or have you never played it? What were your answers to Squidge’s questions? Get in touch with us on our Discord and let us know.