|Punny sweets and magic themed beer, what else would it be?|
So, after finishing the game, what else is there to say about Final Fantasy VIII?
Mostly that it's a game with some serious potential to be one of the greatest fantasy RPGs ever made, but just isn't.
The premise of child mercenaries working for and with the daughter of a general from an imperialistic superpower against said imperialistic superpower which reveals itself to actually be a fight against powerful sorceresses who are somehow both an ancient and future evil is awesome.
Yet the execution is just awful.
The tonal problems that Doug mentioned in one of his rework posts really work against the potential of this premise and turn it into an incoherent mess.
The premise is dark, much darker than the premise of the immediate predecessor, or even of later games in the series, but they were so keen for the characters to be liked that they stripped them all of the character traits that would make them make sense in this setting.
Let's take Rinoa (AKA Nina) for example.
She has been robbed of every trait that she'd need to be a convincing resistence leader, or a convincing rebellious daughter.
She's far too nice, far too soft, has no concrete reason to care about Timber and its independence and if rebellion is meant to be the motive then it's a terrible one because why is she rebellious?
There's virtually no time dedicated to why she doesn't get on with her father, her mother's death seems to be somewhat the motive but so what?
Did he drive her mother to her death? Was he too busy when she was sick? Was he an absentee husband and father?
What did he do?
The best the game seems to give us is that Julia didn't really love General Caraway, but why is that his fault?
If it's anyone's fault, it's Laguna's.
If she had known he was alive, she wouldn't have ended up in a loveless marraige in the first place. Yet the game wants us to be really pro Laguna/Raine.
A woman lost the best years of her life in a loveless marraige because of this, yet we're meant to be really keen on it? What the living hell, Square?
I'm spending so much time on Rinoa's plot becuase it's the driving force of the story. WIthout Rinoa and her resistance movement, there is no story. Yet it's the part of the story that has had the least amount of effort put into it.
Not that most of it feels like it's had much effort put into it, but this is really the vital part.
Early on in the Let's Play I did bring up the fact that Rinoa would make a much better protagonist, but it's not just because I don't find Squall all that engaging, it's more because she's the protagonist that the story demands.
The thing about this game which makes me want to take about it as much as I have, and as much as I'm bound to do so in the future, is that because the story is related to time travel, it's entirely possible that every problem I've had with the game could be solved with a sequel.
If Ultimecia is being possessed by some timeless and immortal entity, then the interference of that entity could explain the odd actions of the characters and the way that the world feels so small and relatively underdeveloped.
It would also provide some real conflict in the romance between Rinoa and Squall (aka Zog), because if he's relatively unaffected he'd be dealing with a much harsher and volatile Rinoa and they'd have to make a choice between their relationship carrying on as normal, or the fate of the world.
A sequel could also answer a lot of the questions that the original game left alone in favour of a strange obsession with romance.
Like where the Sorceresses came from, why they are so powerful, who Ultimecia is and what happens to Rinoa as the last Sorceress in the world.
Because she is.
If SeeDs started when Squall told Edea about the future, then that means that all the SeeDs after the end of this game have stood against Sorceresses in Rinoa's line.
This more than anything else needs to be explained in a sequel.
Well, I say it needs to be explained in a sequel.
But it could be explained, and the whole game made retroactively far better, in three little words.
Ultimecia is Rinoa.