Mail Bad #3: Don’t Be Afraid (of sending me mail)

It’s time for another mail bag post! Thanks everyone for loving Final Fantasy VIII. We’ve got some good submissions this time, including a conspiracy theory that I can’t not put out into the universe.

As a suggestion: please don’t write in with pedantic corrections if you’re WRONG. Oh my god. I appreciate everyone being FF8 lore superfans, but don’t send me a multi-page email about something you think we got incorrect and then it turns out it’s just your head canon.

SeeD couture

Steve sends this email:

I have had one burning question on my mind for the past 25 years; which FFVIII character wears the most comfortable coat?

On the one hand, Squall’s coat has a fleece collar, which is hella snug. On the other hand, Irvine’s ENTIRE duster seems to be lined with fleece and seemed very well-worn. I don’t think he’s ever taken the thing off.

While you do not, under any circumstances, have to hand it to him, I think Irvine wins this round.

Reading, writing, role-playing

We got this story from Jeremy Seith about how he convinced his teacher that playing Final Fantasy VIII was reading:

i plaigarized the plot up to the end of the train for my 7th grade semester writing assignment, made all of the weapons out of improvised materials, convinced my teacher that it qualified as reading to satisfy a DEAR project (also did this with IX), and fully cemented my longest friendship.

i was able to pull it off until 10th grade. the voice work on ps2 games ruined my little empire

for context DEAR (drop everything and read) was a semester-long project where we had to pick a book and do a whole presentation on it. the first one i chose Rainbow Six but that book is long and sucks so i just invented a narrative based on the game. then i had myself a little idear

oh and the Casady guide for VIII was part of the presentation too. the austerity of printed text to lend credence to the experiment

That’s a reference to the strategy guide we got the inside story about in a previous Mail Bad post, which only consisted of text because it was rushed out the door.

Congratulations, Jeremy, on keeping the act going as long as possible. We hope your commitment to Final Fantasy VIII has rendered you illiterate.

"Found an old issue of Timber Maniacs! ... ... ... ...... You finished reading it!"
What Jeremy convinced his teachers he was doing.

When the edible (tentacle) hits

This practical lore question comes from someone whose username was so silly that I don’t want to repeat it:

When Quistis “uses” a Malboro Tentacle, or any of those items that unlocks a new power, she’s eating it, right? She eats the leftover monster bits to gain their powers. Right?

I always assumed those items were being used to cast a spell, like a witch using a lock of somebody’s hair. But if we accept that Quistis is eating the Malboro Tentacle, that means she’s also eating:

  • Spider Web
  • Dark Matter
  • Power Generator
  • Black Hole
  • Missile
  • Mystery Fluid

If you are picturing Quistis scarfing down a spider web and washing it down with a mysterious fluid (not liquid, FLUID), then you are picturing the reality of Final Fantasy VIII.

Ice thinking

This historical reflection comes to us from JTO:

Hi Phil,

One aspect to consider is the culture the game reflects. In Galbadia Garden, there’s the impact of 1998 Winter Olympic hockey. No hockey monsters before or since FF8.

Fighting hockey players on a rink. The banners around the rink say "keep on rockin' in galbadia!!"

This is true! Despite the Final Fantasy games having a plethora of minigames, the hockey team in Final Fantasy VIII is only the second time a real-world sport has ever appeared in a Final Fantasy game! The first time was the basketball minigame in FF7 at the Golden Saucer, which arrived during the peak of Michael Jordan’s second stint with the Bulls, so it makes sense that basketball would be featured. And then hockey after Nagano Olympics! Good spotting, JTO.

I thought for sure that at least one Final Fantasy game would have a baseball minigame given the sport’s cross-cultural appeal between the US and Japan, but it’s never happened. Incidentally, “final fantasy baseball” is a completely ungoogleable phrase thanks to the existence of fantasy baseball.

Tceles B Hsup

My first Final Fantasy game was actually FF1! And then I didn’t play any others until 7 and 8. As a kid who scoured the new games for references to the original (I loved Tiamat showing up at the end of 8), I appreciate this creative reading from a reader who identifies themselves only as Z:

About a month ago I saw someone claiming that FFVIII’s time travel/compression was too confusing for a FF plot. I then did what any normal FFVIII enjoyer would do and made a shitpost. I’ve been claiming for awhile that FFVIII’s time travel plot is remarkably similar to FFI’s plot. So I thought I would share my bold but reductive take here:

“Did you know that FF8 and FF1 have the same exact story but a few things are reversed?

FF1: World is getting fucked by Chaos who lives in the past. Heroes defeat Garland. Garland is sent to the past and becomes Chaos. This creates a time loop. Heroes go to the past to kick Chaos’ ass. The world is saved.

FF8: World is getting fucked by Ultimecia who lives in the future. Heroes defeat Edea. Edea was just being controlled by Ultimecia. Heroes go to the future to kick Ultimecia’s ass. Ultimecia is sent to the past and her power is inherited by Edea. This creates a time loop. The cafeteria hot dogs are saved.”

I never finished FF1 (Chaos was too difficult) but even so, I NEVER understood what was going on with the time loop in that story. FF8‘s story is downright linear and its orphanage plot twist totally normal by comparison.

Didn’t your pants feel safe and secure being held by this belt

There’s a lot of good weird FF8 merchandise, as we’ve covered on this blog. Sara writes in with a story about an incredible piece of unofficial swag I have NEVER seen before:

Final Fantasy VIII was my first and is my favorite FF. I brute forced my way all the way to the end of disc three as a nine year old by spamming GFs. (Which I did try to cut back on after they revealed that GFs were why their memories were messed up. I thought I was personally affecting their memories. I got over it.) I fell in love with Squall and Rinoa, who are still my favorite FF characters to this day (My dog is named after Rinoa.) I had a crush on Zell which… we’re not going to unpack. I’ve even got a few unhinged rants of my own that my FFXIV FC members are probably tired of hearing about. Like how did Final Fantasy Brave Exvius take five years to add Selphie and Irvine to the game. There were multiple Katy Perrys and Ariana Grandes added before they added main characters from a mainline game. You know that shit wouldn’t have happen to FFVII.

But that’s not why I’m here.

Back when I was a kid, I went to a specialty store in a Florida mall, and I found a small box that had screenshots of Final Fantasy VIII all over it. It looked similar to the Banpresto figure boxes. It had a little window on the box so you could see a belt buckle inside with an attempt at Amano’s logo.

I didn’t care what it was or what it looked like though. I had never seen any Final Fantasy VIII merch in a store, and I immediately convinced my mom to buy it for me.

I’ve always suspected it was bootleg because the Amano logo looks like that, there is no copyright on it, and I’ve never been able to find another one online, but maybe someone out there will recognize it and be able to tell us something about it. Either way, it’s one of my prized possessions.

A fabric belt with "Final Fantasy VIII" written on it, with a huge cheap-looking buckle with the Amano FF8 icon art on embossed on it.
A close-up of the belt buckle. Squall looks pained.



Okay, as promised, we’ve got a conspiracy theory here. This comes to us from reader Richard, who think he’s stumbled upon a shocking revelation:

This feels like the right place to make public my recent finding that the Balamb Garden might have been inspired by BGM from Matlock. I have no evidence that this is deliberate but I took this video of the start of this episode, and it’s really just the Balamb Garden theme with a different note here and there. The similarity of the original Dollet theme to the theme to The Rock is well-documented, so I don’t know how this slipped by, except maybe none of us who played the game were of the Matlock-viewing age.

I uploaded my evidence and hopefully Youtube won’t copyright strike it or anything:

Okay so there is no chance this is intentional. These two pieces of music just have a similar chord structure. But it’s fun to imagine Nobuo Uematsu was a diehard Matlock fan who composed the soundtrack to FF8 while watching reruns on whatever Japan’s equivalent of TV Land is.

You should absolutely look up that thing about The Rock though! It’s true and the song got changed for the final game.

Quistis’s Qraft Qorner

And lastly, here’s some craftwork from a person who actually goes by Squall Leonhart on social media, which for lack of originality their name makes up for in commitment:

I wanted to share some of my FF8 stuff. Here’s a (bootleg) Griever necklace and a jacket I had commissioned.

A Griever necklace on a leather jacket.

Thanks for your continuing to send in those messages, fellow sickos! I’m reading them all as they come in and try to reply to them all, but if I didn’t get to yours, keep on being a freak.