A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This is in large part a coming of age story, focused on a group of military academy students who are also learning to be responsible adults, make tough decisions, and be decent to their friends. Key themes include duty, fate, and sacrifice.
Positive Role Models
The heroes display a range of behaviors, from selfless generosity to off-putting bravado. They're quick to help those in need, but also a little too eager to jump into dangerous situations. Each of them grows to become a more complete person as the story forces them to confront their pasts and work on friendships.
Ease of Play
Tutorials provide plenty of guidance, but several of the game's systems are complex and will take players time to figure out. Battles can be challenging, and some later bosses may force players to quit, go exploring to gain experience and level up, and then return later when they are stronger.
Violence & Scariness
The player's characters use swords, guns, magic, and summoned entities to fight a mix of human and fantastical enemies in turn-based combat. Hits cause foes to stagger, grunt, and eventually fall to the ground, where they disappear. Several non-interactive narrative scenes show stylized, dramatic combat, sometimes resulting in bloody wounds and death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some female characters are scantily clad, including summoned Guardian Forces that appear to be almost nude, save some cleverly placed body decals and feathers.
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Frequent mild profanity includes words like "bastard," "bitch," and "ass."
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Products & Purchases
This is one chapter in a long running role-playing game franchise, which also covers toys, movies, and other merchandise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are shown drunk and slurring their words.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is a role-playing game (RPG) originally released in 1999 which has been lightly revamped for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. Characters take turns attacking enemies including both humans and fantastical monsters with swords, guns, magic, and summoned entities called Guardian Forces. These battles contain no blood or gore, but non-interactive narrative sequences show dramatic combat scenes in which characters are wounded, bleed, and in some cases die. The heroes are mostly military students in their late teens who are coming of age. They're interested in helping people and are learning about themselves, how to be a good friend, and generally growing as people. Some of the characters use mild profanity, including words like "bitch" and "ass," and some female characters are dressed provocatively, including a couple of Guardian Force characters that appear almost naked save for a few cleverly placed body decals or feathers.
Is It Any Good?
Little has been done to modernize this classic role-playing game (RPG), which will delight some gamers and frustrate others. Beyond the slightly improved character models, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered looks just as it originally did in 1999. That means blurry, static backgrounds, fixed camera angles, confusing abbreviations in menus, and even a 4:3 aspect ratio presentation, which almost makes it look quaint on modern widescreen TVs. Even with a handful of additions meant to make it more appealing to today's players -- including the ability to turn off battle encounters and speed up play -- people looking for a modern RPG experience won't find it here. That said, this was a deeply innovative game for its time, and discerning players will be able to see why. During several dramatic scenes, those blurry backgrounds suddenly come to life while players still have control over their character, creating a startling sense of immersion. It's an effect that no one in 1999 had ever seen before that remains as effective today as it did then. And the accompanying soundtrack is loaded with memorable melodies -- both in and out of combat -- that are bound to keep players humming for weeks.
The real stars of the show, though, are the characters that prove both engaging and dynamic, despite communicating by text rather than voice actors. It's delightfully easy to get caught up in their melodrama, to feel what they're feeling, and root for them even when you recognize the mistakes they make. Even the Guardian Forces, which have no real personality beyond what's seen when they're summoned to attack, are easy to grow attached to, thanks largely to their terrific animations and tendency to save your party's bacon when the chips are down. And the world is filled with striking and iconic locations, including bustling cities, detailed ruins, and broad expanses of nature teeming with monsters. Exploring these areas in hopes of finding everything from key ingredients to a rare Guardian Force for your party is one of the many draws that will keep players coming back for the scores of hours it takes to finish this fantastic retro role-playing game. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered likely won't find traction with players looking for the latest, glossiest RPGs, but it will prove a treat for anyone interested in revisiting a true classic of the genre.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.