Thanks to WonderWaseda for the inspiration!
In great Final Fantasy fashion, Final Fantasy VIII provides a homage to the series, but by turning the tropes on their head. Each of the six characters roughly corresponds to the six job classes of the original.
Zell – Monk
Selphie – White Mage
Squall – Warrior
Rinoa – Black Mage
Irvine – Red Mage (who originally was to use bow and arrows as long range attacks)
Quistis – Thief, (as she steals monsters powers)
You can make them all warriors or mages due to the system, inverting the class system once again.
They’re constantly being flung mentally into the past, then physically into the future. Like them, we move forward through time and can only remember events from “back then”. Maybe we’re messed up but we think we’re normal (what teen hasn’t thought this…and they’re teens). And the whole message of the game is to not let our lives pass us by and… And what? That’s for us to decide.
It’s a game we relate to ourselves to get the full meaning from and to understand what the writers were trying to do with the script lol. Are we supposed to believe that our dreams are our consciousness being flung into the past? What do we remember about our childhood, really? Are we in the right place at the right time due to coincidence, or for reasons we don’t know? Will we end up hating our love? Did we just die, but now we’re fine? Will we become a memory and nothing more?
People weren’t prepared for a video game story so tangential and introspective, so it remains a strange black mark on the series.
Maybe Final Fantasy XV will be a return to this way of storytelling?
First, this story perfectly mirrors the hidden complexities within Squall himself. All the half-truths, ambiguity, vagueness…the plot is so awkward and weird because Squall feels awkward and weird. The plot goes in many directions because Squall is trying to figure himself out. As we have the option to name Squall, we have the option to be Squall. We can think what he’s thinking of all of this and such, all while challenging our assumptions.
Second, Final Fantasy VIII challenges the principles of Final Fantasy and storytelling in JRPG. Final Fantasy VI told a simple story in a great way. Final Fantasy VIII told a cliché story in a new way. It wasn’t the only video game to do so and wasn’t the most successful. But it was an odd mixture of science fiction, romance and reality warp that kept the series fresh.