Monday, December 5, 2016

Final Fantasy VIII Demo Disc

 In which I partake in one of Square's fabled demo discs.
 Back in the 90s/early 00s, Square devised a fantastic idea to sell their more... monetarily risky games, y'know, their one-off all-new IPs like Brave Fencer Musashi, Parasite Eve, Tobal, etc. While these game turned out great on their own right, Square just wanted to make sure that they would recoup the budget they spent, by coupling these releases with demos for their hottest upcoming games. Fast forward to the present day, and these demo discs have become somewhat of a collector's item, many times ending up being more expensive than the complete games they came bundled with!

 Unsurprisingly, these discs have eluded me, not that I care since I'm not into demos... but not this time! The Brave Fencer Musashi copy I tracked down came with FF VIII's demo disc! And having just played it... it's surprisingly unsurprising! I was expecting some interesting changes, but it's mostly minutiae:

 - NORMAL CLOTHES: The demo takes place during Seifer, Squall and Zell's first mission in Dollet. However, Squall and Zell are wearing their casual clothes instead of their SeeD duds.

 - MUTE RINOA, NO SELPHIE: Your party is made up of Squall, Zell and... Rinoa. All she says is '...', but it's rather interesting getting to play as Rinoa on a sequence where she is unavailable in the full game! Selphie is missing from the entire ordeal, not even making an appearance near the satellite tower.

 - HARDCORE BOSS BATTLE: This was rather surprising, the game's first boss, the creature that does in Wedge and Biggs at the top of the tower is really tough. It took me a rather long while to take down, whether it's due to the fact that you only get Leviathan or because he got buffed is beyond me. Still, ultimately it was fun, it would've been interesting to get a 'hard mode' on Final Fantasy games back in the day.

 - SQUALL AND SEIFER SEEM FRIENDLY?: I might be remembering things wrong, but Seifer and Squall seemed rather... friendly. I recognized a few lines from the final release, and Seifer even mentioned his 'romantic dream', but a lot of the dialogue felt different, and I didn't notice much antagonistic banter between these two. Their talk near the Radio Tower with Squall talking about 'a subject I don't like' doesn't seem to ring a bell at all, for example, and there's a few added lines about the characters ages too.

 - ALTERED CG SCENES: The Dollet CG scenes have been entirely remade to feature Squall and Zell on their casual wear as well as Rinoa. Plus, Quistis' scene at the end has her replaced by a generic high-poly soldier.

- LIMIT BREAKS - DIFFERENT NAME. FUNCTION AND ACTIVATION: I only managed to trigger Zell and Squall's Limit Breaks, they seem to activate veeery rarely. They have different names and work differently than in the final fame. Zell's just a single special move while Squall's R1 trigger function rhythm bar has been changed.

 - THE OBVIOUS: The magic you can draw from enemies is different than the one features in the full game, there's no Draw Points or Save Points, which is to be expected.

 All in all... it was rather unimpressive. I was expecting different enemies in these places and maybe some tweaks to the objectives. It's easy to tell that the game's development was progressing smoothly when the demo was made.

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