Magical Mondays: Final Fantasy VIII and Drawing Magic

Final Fantasy VIII headerWhile I’ve never talked about Final Fantasy VIII on this blog before, I do really like the game. Or rather, I like the first half of it. For whatever reason, I tend to lose interest somewhere during the second disc. I think that is in part due to the battle system. FFVIII’s battle system, use of magic, and summons makes it a bit more confusing than other Final Fantasy games. It is, thankfully, something that you can get the hang of fairly quickly, but in many ways it was needlessly complicated. It was also nonsensical, especially when it comes to magic.

Like all the other Final Fantasy games, FFVIII uses basic spells, such as Fire, Water, etc. during battle—and a few non basic ones, such as Demi—and even curative spells, like Esuna or Life. So in comparison to the other games, it’s pretty standard in that regard. What’s unique about FFVIII is how it uses spells. Instead of utilizing any kind of Magic Point system, in FFVIII the characters have to stock, or “draw”, magic like they would with any other item.

No character can have more than ninety-nine of any one spell, and there is an overall limit to how many different spells characters have as well. You can also equip, or “junction”, spells to your characters like you would armor or weapons, which increases said character’s stats. The more of a junctioned spell you have in stock, the higher the increase. Because of this, I was actually able to make it to the final disc of the game before even reaching Level 9. Any other game, and I would probably be at about Level 50 or 60.

What’s unfortunate about junctioning, though, is that since your stats go up the more spells you have, and since spells are apparently a finite resource for some reason, I never actually used magic unless I had to. Why would I? Burning through my spells would only hurt my stats. During battle, it’s possible to draw magic from your enemies and use their magic against them (thankfully, they cannot draw from you)—but as I said earlier, the entire system is nonsensical.

For starters, why would the essence of magic be limited? Why can I only have so many of each spell to use before having to stock more? How big is a Demi spell, for instance? While FFVIII’s battle system is certainly unique, and I will admit, a lot of fun, it’s just one of those things that I cannot wrap my head around. Do the characters keep spells in bottles? Do spells have physical sizes? Is that why I have to stock magic? How the hell do you store the essence of fire? Earthquakes? So on and so forth?

Making magic limited could probably have been one of the better things about FFVIII, because it potentially feels like you have to give something up in exchange for using spells. If that had been more of a plot point, or something that the game spent time explaining, I probably wouldn’t have this problem with the game. But FFVIII doesn’t do that. There’s never any point when people talk about how there’s a limited supply of magic in the world. And even if they did, if you for some reason run out of magic, it’s fairly easy—although incredibly tedious, irritating, and unnecessarily drawn out—to stock up more. (Seriously, it can take like twenty minutes to stock up on just one fucking spell for all three characters in your fighting party.) So in the end, limited magic is simply an annoyance that exists to be… well, annoying.

As I said, the battle system and use of junctions make FFVIII unique to the other games, and because of that, in many ways it’s quite fun. The limited spells, however, just didn’t make sense, and FFVIII could have still utilized its junction system without pointlessly turning magic into a finite resource for no reason.

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About MadameAce

I draw, I write, I paint, and I read. I used to be really into anime and manga until college, where I fell out of a lot of my fandoms to pursue my studies. College was also the time I discovered my asexuality, and I have been fascinated by different sexualities ever since. I grew up in various parts of the world, and I've met my fair share of experiences and cultures along the way. Sure, I'm a bit socially awkward and not the easiest person to get along with, but I do hold great passion for my interests, and I can only hope that the things I have to talk about interest you as well.

2 thoughts on “Magical Mondays: Final Fantasy VIII and Drawing Magic

  1. I love FFVIII (and recently played it again) but I agree that the finite number of spells is weird. I always tried to avoid using my magic as well. I think the only times I did was for healing ones or when I needed to make more room for other spells and had too many kinds.

  2. Lol I’m glad I’m not the only one who questions things like this. I was always trying to wrap my head around the idea of ‘stocking’ up on spells. How exactly DO Squall and company carry around 100 earthquakes? Or 70 Tornados? Or 50 waters? What exactly IS a singular tornado, and how do they collect tornados like pokemon cards?

    Speaking of cards… how do they transform the monsters into cards, which then can be transformed into spells? What exactly are the logistics of turning a physical object into an intangible spell? How can a person tell if a trading card is going to give them a useless spell or 100 incredibly powerful ones? Do they learn this sort of stuff at the Gardens, or is it just common knowledge in their society? Who first came up with the idea of ‘drawing’ magic from monsters? How exactly do people draw magic from monsters to begin with? How did the first person come up with the idea of turning trading cards into spells, and HOW did he/she do it?

    So many questions!

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