I just finished my #FF5FJF2015 playthrough, so I’m casting around for another mobile game. You might have thought the end of the Fiesta would mark a change in blogging subject, but no, I’m staying adamantly Final Fantasy for the time being (kupo). I have a long flight to Portland, OR on Friday, so I’d like to get something lined up before then. If I’m sticking with the Final Fantasy series to complete another title then that has to mean… Final Fantasy VIII, my white whale.
“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale!”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
If I want to complete the entire series – and I do – I’m going to have to finish VIII, and I know that if I leave it until last, I’ll never do it. I have very mixed feelings about VIII, most of them bad. I’ve played the bulk of it through twice now, and still never finished it. Back when it was first released, none of my little circle of friends finished it, either. Part of the problem for me is the way my stubborn brain and the battle system interact.
In FFVIII, most encounters scale in bands to match your level, so there’s a bit of an incentive to remain under-levelled while boosting your stats in other ways. The primary way of boosting your character is by junctioning magic to them, which you acquire the bulk of by drawing copies of magic from the enemies you encounter. This leads to a rather tedious strategy whereby you draw the maximum number of copies of every magic type you see, and then either run away from the fight, or turn the monster into a Triple Triad card, neither of which cause you earn any experience points. I wish I could just enjoy the game playing it as it comes without worrying about twisting the mechanics like that – I’m sure it’s not designed that every playthrough would be completed meta-gaming the system that way – but I can’t. I get itchy feelings if I feel like I could be doing things differently.
Like I said, it’s a stupid, tedious system, but I’m hoping it’ll be pleasant enough done on the ePSXe Android port, and probably in fast-forward. I’m going to abuse some emulator tricks to ease my pain. I’ll unlock the framelimit to fast-forward through fights, and I’ll use save states whenever I feel like it. I don’t care any more, I just want this one finished. I will stop short of actual cheat-cheats though, honest. I’m also going to go it alone. Normally when I tackle a Final Fantasy game I use a guide, because otherwise I’m paralysed by the thought that I’m missing something down the other corridor, or by pressing (or not pressing) this switch or that one, I’m locking myself out of some secret sidequest reward. I didn’t do that during my Four Job Fiesta – okay, I looked a couple of things up here and there – but I didn’t follow a guide line-by-line like usual, and it went fine. It was actually kind of liberating, for the first time. So I’m just going to rely on what I remember from my previous attempts, and see what happens.