Some questions for the FFVIII crew, in an effort to see why FFVIII is so beloved (currently ranked 5th in poll)
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Why is FFVIII one of your favorites? What about this game stood out enough, in comparison to the others you've played in the series, to earn one of your three votes in the poll?
Overworld, NPCs, story, dungeons, enemies, boss fights, protagonists and antagonists - are all those things strong enough to offset the battle system that fans tend to criticize in FFVIII?
What's underappreciated about FFVIII in your opinion?
Going by your list, it looks like FFVIII might have knocked off FFVII to make your top 5, must be a very impressive game. Not many ITT have really talked at length about FFVIII
What do you think it does better, in comparison to FFVII?
There is a hint of nostalgia in my own view and that I won't deny. My run of FF games started with VI, then VII and VIII came at the right time in my life for me to heavily invest in them. I did with IX also, but not to the extent of the other three.
In defence of VIII, it has a lot going for it. Squall, is one of the most developed characters in the series. In an age where we see Arthur Morgan as super rounded in RDR2 due to the arc he takes, Squall is right up there. His original stiff teen with abandonment issues is slowly brought out and done so subtly (with the exception of the odd jarring scene) it is great to see him finally find his own redemption.
Also, for the most part, the story is pretty awesome. It does have its horrible GF/Amnesia moment that really takes the shine off but if you can accept that, the whole thing fits really well.
You mention the battle system - it isn't a bad system at all. It is cumbersome and can be abused hugely and of that there is no doubt, but that is kind of part of its charm. It was so flexible it allowed you do to loads with it and make any character anything you wanted.
My personal major criticism of FFVIII, and to be honest, ALL FF games following VII is the lack of a good villain. In VIII, Edea was a red herring and by the time Ultimecia is brought in, you kinda lose the fear. IX had Kuja who they couldnt help but ruin. X had Seymour who ended up being beaten halfway, followed by religion itself - and it all got a bit crap. Where was the Kefka? The Sephiroth? Even Garland - a former knight of Cornelia is a pretty cool villain in the original game.