Final Fantasy VIII was released for the PlayStation in 1999 and later ported to the PC.
Set in a futuristic fantasy world, the planet on which the game takes place contains five landmasses: the largest land Esthar, the second-largest land Galbadia, the Arctic region Trabia, the small island Balamb, and the rest of the planet consists of desolate rocky terrain and an archipelago of broken sections of land.
The game designers intentionally departed from FFVII’s dark visual style to create something lighter and with a more international flavor (the locations in the game are based on such places as Egypt, Greece and Paris).
There is an elite military force on this planet called “SeeD” that is based in a series of headquarters called Gardens.
Squall Leonhart, a SeeD student at Balamb Garden and a loner with a forlorn past who usually avoids showing emotion.
Rinoa Heartilly, an emotional and outspoken young woman who is the daughter of a general and a member of the Forest Owls. She is also a musician.
Quistis Trepe, the serious and patient military instructor of SeeD.
Zell Dincht, an energetic and confident (sometimes too confident) martial artist who loves hot dogs.
Selphie Timitt, a cheerful train enthusiast who pilots the airship Ragnarok.
Irvine Kinneas, a marksman and also a ladies’ man.
Seifer, a hard-headed SeeD soldier who disobeys orders.
Ultimecia, a sorceress from the future who is actually possessing a woman named Edea to gain control of Galbadia. She uses several women throughout the game as hosts. She travelled back in time and seeks to achieve “time compression,” which would cause all eras to merge, extinguishing all life but turning her into an omnipresent goddess on the level of world creators.
This time Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi would be too busy overseeing the animated feature film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to be involved in FFVIII. It was instead being produced by Shinji Hashimoto, who would later co-create Kingdom Hearts with Tetsuya Nomura.
The game was written by Kazushige Nojima (returning after Final Fantasy VII) and directed by Yoshinori Kitase with artwork provided by Yusuke Naora and Tetsuya Nomura.
Hiroyuki Ito designed a battle system based on the “Summon” system called “Guardian Forces,” which you could assign to fighters to be used as a battle command.
The magic system was more elaborate, allowing fighters to customize their spells onto their statistics such as strength and luck to receive bonuses, as long as a Guardian Force has been assigned to the character.
The game mostly received positive reviews but there was a mixed reception to the gameplay among the fanbase. Some people dug the more complex battle system, others disliked it. Some people thought Final Fantasy VII was a better game, some people thought this improved upon it. Some people thought the characters were boring, some people thought the story was the best in the series.
Among the disagreements however, no one thought it was a bad game. It made many Best lists and was highly regarded as a quality RPG that outshone most other games that year. The cinematic scenes are high points that have themselves received praise, some people calling the opening movie the best of any video game.
The game was the fastest-selling Final Fantasy game at the time and was commercially successful in Japan, the UK and North America and was an overall success for Square and PlayStation.