Although Final Fantasy VII stole show at Square Enix's E3 2019 presentation, the publisher also announced a high definition port of the beloved Final Fantasy VIII, due out later this year. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered completes the trilogy of mainline PlayStation Final Fantasy titles playable on modern consoles. It came as something of a surprise when VII and IX were announced for PlayStation 4 (and later, other current-gen systems), while no news emerged regarding VIII.
At long last, that unfortunate oversight has been noted and rectified with the announcement of Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. Initially released in 1999 for the PlayStation, Final Fantasy VIII earned a legion of fans for its innovative Junction system, which lessened the importance of traditional JRPG level grinding by instead focusing on linking magic to characters' stats, allowing for greater customization of the roster's strengths and weaknesses. The story of Final Fantasy VIII divided audiences with its intimate focus on the whirlwind romance between protagonists Squall and Rinoa, with game-changing plot twists that would define other titles in the series being swiftly overlooked by the characters who simply have different priorities in their lives. Final Fantasy VIII's bold storytelling was controversial to the point of derision, but now allows the game to stand out from the pack in an ever-growing landscape of JRPG titles.
While Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX both received minor visual enhancements in their HD ports, Square Enix has clearly gone an extra mile with Final Fantasy VIII, with brand new textures replacing the old, pixelated versions, allowing characters to appear clear and expressive in battle. Subtle, yet profound, the changes cause character models to practically pop off the screen; it still looks like a classic PlayStation game, but the prettiest and cleanest HD version of a PlayStation game one could possibly imagine.
As of this writing, it's unclear as to whether Final Fantasy VIII Remastered will receive any other enhancements over the original game; the HD ports of VII and IX both benefited from cheats which allowed players to skip random encounters, instantly max out stats, and triple the game's speed. It would be reasonable to expect Final Fantasy VIII to follow suit, but nothing is confirmed yet. Either way, fans of the classic PlayStation era of Final Fantasy will be overjoyed to have all three timeless classics downloaded to their gaming platform of choice, finally playable in glorious high definition.
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered releases later in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
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Edited by Zak Wojnar