FFVIII was the biggest game in the world once and people were weird about it

Remember that Final Fantasy VIII was the follow-up to one of the biggest and most explosively marketed video games of all time. It was hugely anticipated, gracing the cover of basically every video game magazine for months and leading to a whole string of tie-in merchandise, which we’ll no doubt be looking more closely in the future.

The point is, people were REALLY excited about Final Fantasy VIII. Which means that, as always happens in video games, people got weird about it.

By people, I mean PSM, the independent PlayStation magazine published by Imagine Media from 1997–2007.

In my day job, I look at a lot of video game magazines, and I always grab any magazine that talked about PlayStation games in 1999 to see if they mentioned Final Fantasy VIII. Usually they did, and frequently it’s pretty terrible. I’m choosing not to focus on the worst ones, like the British magazine I can’t remember the name of which ran a preview of FFVIII that was loaded with weird sexual comments about the characters. Instead, I wanna focus on whatever the hell was happening at PSM.

Squall, wearing wraparound shades and a gold "S" medallion, rapping into a microphone. By his side, Rinoa and Quistis, also wearing wraparound shades, are dancing in thongs. I am so sorry.

Squall: "Yo! Yo! Yo! Check it out! Squall and his magical maidens are in da house, can you dig it!"

Rinoa: "Squall! I thought you said you were good at this!?"

Quistis: "Oh, come on, Rinoa! Just shake it till they can't take it!"


This is from the October 1999 issue of PSM that featured their long-awaited review of Final Fantasy VIII. Ryan Kinnaird was one of the artists for PSM who drew some of the incidental character graphics they would decorate the pages with, including this drawing. I don’t think there’s anything I can say to contextualize or explain why it exists. This was PSM‘s version of a New Yorker comic. Kinnaird’s output for PSM was almost cosmically horny, and unfortunately that overlapped with the brief time when Squall, Rinoa, and Quistis were briefly the biggest new character in video games. Thus.

A comic titled "Every Gamer Has A Soft Side," with captions undernearth screenshots of Squall and Rinoa talking in Final Fantasy VIII.

"Aw great, here it comes - the mushy stuff!"
"Maaan, who wants to see this crap?"
"Could we please go back to the fighting already?"
"Get a room, you two!"
"Hey, wait - where's he going? Is he not even going to kiss her?"
"Don't those two realize juts how crazy they are for each other? (Sob...)"

A comic from the back pages of the same issue, demonstrating the personal growth that happens over the course of playing Final Fantasy VIII. Incidentally, this issue was scanned by the Video Game History Foundation, so you can thank us for unearthing these back into the present day, like that sarcophagus full of black liquid they dug up that everyone wanted to drink.

An anime guy in a suit and a press hat, playing PlayStation while chewing on an memory card.

"Konichiwa, Otaku! It's good to see all of you again! A lot has happened since we spoke last issue, most importantly, I got my hands on Final Fantasy VIII! IIIEEEEE!!! Even cooler, I didn't have to camp out overnight to get one (let's just say I know a few guys in Akihabara). How is it? I wish I knew! Those slave-drivers are PSM won't let me near it until this column is finished! Kisama..."

Oh, boy. This is an excerpt from the March 1999 edition of “Banzai Chibi-Chan’s Nihon Game Otaku,” the section of PSM that had game news updates from Japan, written by an anonymous contributor. If you look at that sample above, yes, the entire thing is written like that. With 25 years of hindsight, it is pretty regrettable, but I think even back in the day, at the height of growing American interest in Japanese culture, you still would’ve wanted to give this guy a swirly. At least he was pumped about Final Fantasy VIII, because literally everyone was.

The point is that Final Fantasy VIII was really big, and everyone was excited. Given how much it’s in the shadow of the rest of the series today, it’s hard to forget what an event it was. May these snippets from PSM serve as a reminder, for good and for bad.

Just shake it till they can’t take it.

Quistis Trepe, teacher