I’ve been playing the original Final Fantasy VII for the first time and it reminded me of this post about Final Fantasy VIII’s sound design that I wrote but never published back in 2018. (Why, I don’t know. I suppose because it lacked a profound conclusion I felt it “not worthy”? Silly of me in hindsight.)
All of the Playstation era (and earlier) Final Fantasies have a silent/pre-talkie era film quality to them. There are surprisingly few sound effects outside of battle, and no voice acting whatsoever throughout. One of the most unusual features of the series’ sound design is the total absence of sound during on-screen dialogue. It was and still is a common device in videogames without voice acting to have a sound effect during dialogue… why? I don’t know, to be honest. Sometimes noises indicate who is talking, with an indistinct voice gurgle to represent each character. In games of yesteryear where the sound effect don’t change between different speakers, the purpose was less clear.
In any case, the effect of doing away with any text scroll/dialogue sound effects is a lot like watching a silent film, where title cards showed text and dialogue against music. It means these games relied a lot on Uematsu’s score, and thank goodness then these soundtracks are so strong and so varied. Continue reading
I’ve had a long history from Final Fantasy VIII. I played it when it first came out on PC only to get stuck somewhere on the third disc (in all fairness I was only 10 years old at the time). A few years later with a better grasp of VIII’s systems I started over and made it to the final boss. Here however I was defeated – beating the final boss’s various forms proved impossible. I was forced to download a save file from the internet with every characters’ stats maxed out just to see the ending. Over the years since I’ve played chunks of Final Fantasy VIII a couple of times, never to the end and more often than not just to enjoy Triple Triad. If only younger me had known that the game can essentially be played as an interactive novel – seriously! No random encounters, comfortably easy bosses and over-powered characters, and with little to no grinding at all! It’s the special, broken magic of FFVIII. Continue reading