The Games That Define Me - When I Fell in Love
In this series I am going to talk about the games that have defined me as a gamer. They might be worldwide hits, overlooked gems and anywhere in between. I am going to solely focus on games from the current gen back to the days of the Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation. For me to consider a game to define me as a gamer it must do a few things. First and most important of all whenever I talk about it I must be able to reflect upon it as if it was just yesterday.Secondly it must have brought something new to the world of gaming for me. Lastly it must be a game I could find rather easily today. I will also do my best to keep this as spoiler-free as possible just in case someone hasn't played these games.
The third entry in this series will be the game that truly started my love affair with games. Before this game I'd play them in my spare time, but this is the first game that actually made me make time to play, thus changing how I look at gaming to this day. I give to you what is easily my favorite game of all time; Final Fantasy VIII.
Final Fantasy VIII was released on February 11th, 1999 by Squaresoft. I really wish I could say I got this game on day one but I didn't. I didn't get it until later that year when I was walking around a Circuit CIty needing a new game. I remember seeing it on the shelf and noticing it was four discs, I decided to grab it and goto my mom saying "It's four discs long! It'll lost me awhile!" Oh, how right I was.
Ah, love in a box.
The game puts you in the shoes of Squall Lionheart, a 17 year old loner student at a military academy. Not exactly the most original idea anymore, hell it probably wasn't back when it first came out, but that didn't matter to me then nor does it now.
Emo before it was cool. Okay, it never was cool but Squall is still like the other side of the pillow.
The beginning of the game shows you training with your “partner,” Seifer Almasy. Withen the first minute or two you realize Seifer is a total douchebag cutting you between the eyes with his gunblade thus leaving Squall with his trademark scar.
Don’t let the pretty clouds fool you, Seifer is a complete asshole.
The game starts with you, as Squall waking up in the infirmary, having you woud tended to. Then you meet your teacher Quistis Trepe. She walks you back to class, where she informs everyone that a SeeD test will be hld that day and informing Seifer publicly to be more “careful” whilst sparring. After class is dismissed Quistis pulls you aside and informs you that she’ll be assisting you in your test, and to meet her outside of Balamb Gardan. As you’re leaving class a you girl named Selphie Tilmitt runs into you, she is new in school and infroms you she’s already passed her SeeD test at her previous Garden then ask you to show her around Balamb. If I had to wrap of Selphie, I’d say she’s like you annoying younger sister, very playful and childish. After showing Selphie around you finally meet up with Quistis heading to the Fire Cavern to complete your SeeD Test and gaining Ifirit as a Guardian Force.
She looks the same age as Squall and the others, how the hell is she a teacher?
Soon after that you are sent on your final SeeD exam, with Seifer as your squad leader. Atleast this time you won’t have to deal with him alone as the third member of your party is another SeeD candidate named Zell Dincht. Zell is a rather interesting character, firstly because his weapon in the game are basically brass knuckles, and if you’re just using brass knuckles to fight some of the enemies in this game you’re a bad ass. Secondly he’s a lot more outspoken and dosen’t hide how he feels about something, quite the opposite of Squall. Lastly he’s also used for comic relief, with him him being given the name “Chicken-wuss” by Seifer, him always missing out on hot dogs in the cafeteria and his animation at times during conversations, Zell is normally used to lighten the mood a bit.
I want gloves with knuckle dusters on them!
Once Squall, Zell and Seifer are all BFF it’s off to Dollet to help secure a communications tower. Except you’re not supposed to worry about it. You three are to just secure a part of the city, after doing that you all stand around bored and Seifer takes off to the comm tower and unfortunately Squall and Zell have to chase after him. As soon as you get there you are reintroduced to Selphie who is charged with delivering Seifer a message and she joins up with your group for the time being. Once you get to the top of the tower you find yourself in another battle, actually two battles in one. Once you receive the orders it’s time to pull out and head back to Balamb Garden and to become an official SeeD.
Even today I still love that scene, I remember like it was yesterday, back when I first saw that I turned around and told my brother “See that? That’s what games are going to look like in a few years!” Little did I know how right I’d be. For some reason, that one moment has always stuck with me, it was the moment that really made me love this game and change how I viewed games. After that day when I got home from school I wouldn’t bother looking what was on TV, I’d pop in this game and hide in my room playing as long as I could often neglecting my school work.
I seriously have this cutscene saved my my computer and PS3.
After the party you are outside when Quistis comes out and gives Squall one last order. He is to accompany her to through the training grounds to where a lot of the students hang out after curfew. Once you are out there she informs you that she is no longer and instructor and simply just a SeeD now like Squall and the others. This is when she explains how she became an instructor at 17 and now the staff seems to think she lacks the skills required and begins questioning wither or not they are right. Squall decides he’s herd enough and heads off to bed.
Once you wake up you are informed that you have a new mission and that You, Zell and Selphie are all to head to Timber for your next mission. Once you board the train to your next mission however something strange happens resulting in Squall, Zell and Selphie to be knocked unconscious. You’re suddenly in what seems to be a dream world controlling three new characters; Laguna Loire, Kiros Seagill and Ward Zabac. The three of them are Galbadian army soliders and at this point in time you have no idea as to why you have taken control of them, nor what their role in the overall story is.
Way to go dumbass. Hey, who are you anyways? GET OUT OF HERE!
You’re soon woken by an announcement that you have reached Timber and you meet up the Forest Owls, they are the a small resistance faction fighting against the Galbadian Army’s occupation of Timber. The Forest Owls are headed by a familiar face, the girl from the party! Come to find out her name is Rinoa Heartilly, She explains she was at the party to talk to the headmaster of Balamb Garden in an attempt to aqquire the SeeD’s help freeing Timber from the Galbadian forces. However there is no time for chit-chat as you quickly get briefed for the first mission assisting the resistance.
You’re first mission is to switch out a train car holding the Galbadian Dictator, Vinzer Deling. However soon as the switcharoo has been completed and you confront Deling you learn he is simply body double. Once you defeat the impostor you learn why the communication tower in Dollet was worth protecting, the real Vinzer Deling is going to make an announcement using the tower. With that said, you and your party realize that you must waste no time getting to the television station. However it seems that your good friend Seifer has beaten you there. As you and your party watch President Deling give his announcement Seifer runs in headlong with Quistis chasing after him. As he takes President Deling hostage Quistis asks Squall to come help. When you show up Seifer takes the president away and has we are introduced to Sorceress Edea for the first time. Edea plays mind games with Seifer while she has Squall and the others frozen. When everyone comes back around Edea, Seifer and the President are no where to be seen.
That would make an amazing set of curtains!
Thanks to Zell letting it slip to the president that everyone is from Balamb Garden the team decides it isn’t safe to go back to plan out their next move. Instead it is suggested they goto the nearest Garden, that would be Galbadia Garden. Thanks to Rinoa’s team everyone is able to get a ticket to ride the train there, much to Selphie’s delight as she loves trains. On the way to Galbadia’s garden Zell begins to beat himself up for letting it slip where everyone was from. With Squall being less and comforting to Zell, Rinoa jumps in and takes Squall to task, as she tends to do a lot. However while being berated by Rinoa, once again you slip into “Dream World” and once again, Laguna, Ward and Kiros are lost and have to find their way to safety. That “safety” comes in the form of a boat in the ocean, however you have a wave of enemies and a cliff standing in your way. After dispatching the enemies in your way (while listening to Laguna complain the tip of his nose itches) the group finds out that Ward has lost his voice, but before he can be worried about that Laguna, being the nice guy he is, throws his friends off the cliff into the water.
What’s that fatty? That’s what I thought, shut up.
Once everyone comes back around they arrive at Galbadia Garden where Quistis goes to explain this situation with the headmaster of the garden. When she comes back she lets everyone know that Seifer has already faced trail and the punishment has been carried out. The news shakes Rinoa to her core as she reveals that she she loved Seifer, she just didn’t know if he felt the same way. Everyone talking in the past tense takes an effect on Squall who wants revenge as Seifer was “one of them” and storms out of the room. Soon you are informed of a new mission, and to assit you in your mission is an elite sniper SeeD from Galbadia Garden named Irvine Kinneas.
Since when do snipers use a shotgun and wear a cowboy hat?
You all are to report to Deling City and meet with Galbadian Army General Caraway. Once you (finally) gain access to his mansion Rinoa becomes impatient waiting for him and runs off to complain, not before informing everyone that the general is her father. Once the general comes in he informs you that your mission is to assassinate Sorceress Edea. You are split into two teams each charged with a different part of the plan. Sniper Squad consists of Squall and Irvine who are in charge of killing the Sorceress, one way or another. The second squad consists of Zell, Selphie and headed by Quistis, they are to trap Sorceress Edea’s parade float under the arches to ensure Irvine a clear shot on it. Due to the Father-Daughter quarrel between Rinoa and General Caraway, Rinoa has been separated from everyone else for “her safety and the safety of the mission.” As Quistis and crew are about to take off Rinoa rushes in with a plan, however Quistis has no time for it and leaves her. But later, once everyone is getting into position, Quistis realizes she may have been a bit too hard on Rinoa so they run back to apologize because they have time before they are to trap the float. They just miss each other as Rinoa realizes that her father is going to lock her in his office. Rinoa gets out but now Quistis, Selphie and Zell are stuck in the office.
You women with your feelings… always making everything complicated!
Rinoa sneaks off to put her plan into action and is soon put under a spell by Edea. As She gives her speech to Deling City it soon becomes clear that she isn’t going to negotiate peace, as was originally intended, but to take over the whole damn world! She strikes down President Deling and decides to let some monsters loose in the city to spice things up, naturally they go right for Rinoa. Once again your back in control of Quistis, Zell and Selphie who find their way to the sewers frantically searching for a way to get back into position, but it’s too late and the parade has already started. With the festivities in full swing Squall and Irvine finally have a chance to get into position and save Rinoa. Soon enough the others make it out of the sewers just in time to trap the float to allow Irvine to take the shot. However due to a combination of him freaking out and Edea using magic to stop the bullet, Irvine’s shot misses meaning it’s up to Squall who charges the float. Once he arrives however he must get through her Lap Dog, or as he prefers to be called her knight, Seifer who is apparently still very much so alive. He might be alive but he has gotten rusty as he goes down easier than a two dollar whore on nickel night. Once Squall has taken care of Seifer, Rinoa and Irvine rejoin you for your first battle with Sorceress Edea, who puts up a bit more of a fight. Once she realizes she’s in a losing battle she decides to end the battle and leave Squall with a nice parting gift in the form of a big icicle through the chest…
This is where disc one ends and you are prompted to enter disc two. Being as this has already gotten much bigger than I have expected it to, this is where entry one comes to an end and I will begin working on entry two. I really hope you guys liked this first entry as I am putting as much time as I can into it while trying to avoid making it too long. Feedback would be appreciated and be on the look out for the second part soon.