Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is a Japanese role-playing game where a group of young cadets of a mercenary school, led by the main character Squall, are sent on missions all over the globe, leading them to ultimately have the fate of the world in their hands. It’s a game about friendship, politics, magic and time-bending sorceresses. It has a touching story, intricate game mechanics and most of all it has a vast number of items to hoard. The remaster has upgraded all the 3D models and smoothed out the pre-rendered background images, but the best feature of the Switch port is that you can play it anywhere!
Other improvements include the option to speed up the game by three times, make the characters invincible and block all random encounters. Some games may force players to grind levels and items for them to progress but there’s never any fear of getting stuck in the remastered version. To most grinding is a tedious chore but for me it’s relaxing.
However, the best feature in the game is the addictive mini game called Triple Triad, which most of the inhabitants of the game world play. A simple card game where the player needs to flip the opponent’s cards to their side with stronger cards. Depending on the applied rules and score the winner may get all the loser’s cards. I think it is the best way to grind in the game! Cards are also are a part of a larger and complex game mechanic: The Guardian Force junction system.
The GF’s are powerful entities which the player can summon in battle to aid them or use outside of battle in a more passive way. The player can use certain GF-abilities to improve their characters’ stats by junctioning a GF to the character and assigning a magic to the desired stat. Because I want powerful characters, I must get powerful magic, and I want them now.
Luckily in the very start the player acquires a GF who has two special card related abilities, Card and Card Mod. With the Card-ability, monsters can be turned into their corresponding cards in battle. With Card Mod these cards can be turned into items, which can be further refined to magic with other GF-abilities.
Early in the game the best way to get cards is to play Triple Triad. Most of the cards can be won early on, even rare ones. This mechanic enables the player to become quite overpowered in the beginning of the game. Later in the game, when one needs to get items reliably, carding enemies proves more fruitful than Triple Triad.
The new features make grinding so much more cost-effective – it’s three times faster! I’ve now only spent 20 instead of 60 hours on Triple Triad and carding. The game can be easily finished in about 60 hours playing normally but it is rather the journey than the goal that is important.
I do recommend playing it at least once without grinding – it’s a magnificent game!
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix, Dotemu, Access Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release date: 03.09.2019
Screenshot via MobyGames http://www.mobygames.com
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