Squall’s Dead seems to be a rather popular topic, so I’ve decided to add my 2 cents to the discussion.
Squall’s Dead suggests that the events following disc one in Final Fantasy VIII were merely a dream. However, I’d like to suggest that FFVIII as we know it today almost never was.
After the massive success of Final Fantasy VII, Square decided that they wanted to take a break from the series and try something different. Something completely different. After much deliberation, they decided on the high school romance genre. At first they had thought about distancing themselves from the RPG genre, but later determined that would be a bad marketing choice, considering their worldwide reputation for developing epic fantasy RPG’s.
So it was decided; they would create a high school romance RPG. The fantastical elements would be kept in to remind players that the game played like an RPG, a format familiar to Square’s target audience.
Somehow in the midst of development, talks of Final Fantasy VIII were also commencing. A confused but well-meaning assistant produced a new folder, and labeled it “Final Fantasy VIII”. The folder was filled with new files; the initial sketches and blueprints for the new game.
Meanwhile, the game tentatively titled “High School Romance: A Journey of the Heart” was coming along nicely. The game resembled the Final Fantasy world in small ways, but was still different enough that it wouldn’t be confused for another Final Fantasy game. Essentially, the game followed the eventual romance of two characters, to be called Yusuke and Miho. At first there seemed to be no hope for this mismatched couple, especially since Miho showed more interest in Yusuke’s rival, Kenta. However, this merely a plot device, the romance between Miho and Yusuke grew and blossomed by the end of the epic tale.
The game was now ready for beta testing. However, positive responses weren’t exactly forthcoming. Many testers expressed their distaste for the superfluous tutorials as well as the convoluted and disjointed storyline. Square reasoned that players would require all of the tutorials because of their new “Junction” system, unlike anything seen previously in the Final Fantasy series. However, they did promise improvements to the storyline.
And now it was time to announce the upcoming release of “High School Romance: A Journey of the Heart”. In the ensuing weeks, the marketing department received a new folder with all of the details concerning the new game. A folder labeled “Final Fantasy VIII” was also submitted for their review, although the game had not entered the development phase yet. One of the files was to be submitted as a press release, and simply stated that Square would begin production of Final Fantasy VIII now that High School Romance was complete.
One early morning, a hapless assistant happened to brush against the files on his way to his cubicle and scattered them across the floor. No one else had arrived at work yet, so he promptly picked up the files and put them back in place. However, the files ended up in the wrong folders!
Although the marketing department had noticed that the High School Romance files were in a folder labeled “Final Fantasy VIII”, they rarely questioned the decisions from up high, so they went ahead and released the details of High School Romance, under what they assumed to be its new title: Final Fantasy VIII.
The next day, the creative directors of Square were shocked to find that their new game was being dubbed Final Fantasy VIII. At first they thought that there must be some kind of mistake, but all of their news sources indicated the same. Realizing their error, the whole company went into a flurry of panic, and those responsible for the mistake were promptly fired.
On the up side, the game wasn’t released yet, and this gave Square some valuable time to make some corrections. Fortunately, the battle system resembled other Final Fantasy games enough that all they needed to do was rename the characters, the spells, the summon spells, and make some minor adjustments to choice graphics.
The game was of course released as Final Fantasy VIII and although it was not received well by all critics, it still went on to sell incredibly well. Those fired during the clandestine scandal were later offered a generous severance package, the end justifying the means.
The game thus entered into the collective consciousness as Final Fantasy VIII. However, experts questioned its very existence, jokingly citing that most fans were “unable to describe it with any accuracy” and further added that “there were too many inconsistencies between people’s testimonials”. One sarcastic expert was even quoted as saying “It [Final Fantasy VIII] was probably some kind of fan faction. Sure, I’ve seen many cosplayers trying to imitate the likeness of Squall, Selphie or Quistis, but that’s not proof enough that the game ever existed.”
Although mass hallucination is a well documented phenomena, it has been determined that Final Fantasy VIII does indeed exist, and wasn’t just a dream, though many of us wish it was.