Oddly attractive story imbued by balanced, relatable characters, a lively world, and the discovery of love.
Final Fantasy VIII is, arguably, the pinnacle of the series to this day. Released in 1999, two years after its predecessor - the worldwide smash hit Final Fantasy VII. Why I think eight is the pinnacle is because seven was just the international boom, but eight is the immediate aftermath, the time the dust and debris is still in the air and settling. It is like the catharsis of an entertaining speech that now turns on a serious note right before it ends. I was only ten years old when I first sat down to play the game with my brother - we played it together and didn't need a co-op game to play a single-player. Although we knew the game was great, we were only allowed to rent games then and there wasn't enough time to beat it. Renting it over and over until then was not something we were inclined to do with so many games to try out so we got as far as we could and eventually lost inspiration when we worked so much on leveling and gaining everything we could only to find out the error we made with the magic lamp. You must use the magic lamp immediately after Headmaster Cid hands it to Squall because enemies gain power alongside your character's current level and if you keep the magic lamp for a worthy moment or treat it like an item to be used later, like we did at the time, you will find the monster Diablos, residing inside it, to be impossible to defeat in later levels. Knowing we would never be able to attain the Guarding Force, or GF, Diablos, we handed the game back to Blockbuster and neither of us picked it up again until 2013, when I decided to put it into my PS2 after nearly seven years of stashing a copy, that my friend let me borrow, in my closet - in a box.