Final Fantasy VIII Remastered: Everything you need to know

Square Enix has made a point to bring back most of its Final Fantasy games onto modern platforms in some form or another. Though it had been port-happy with most of its titles for some time, Final Fantasy VIII had been oddly missing from most collections for some time...until now. Final Fantasy VIII not only got a port, it got the remastered treatment for Nintendo Switch, allowing audiences to experience the love story of Squall and Rinoa for the first time, or once again, on a modern, portable console.

Whether you're returning to Balamb Garden after years away or playing for the first time, here's everything you need to know about Final Fantasy VIII Remastered:

What is the story of Final Fantasy VIII?

You play as Squall Leonhart, a member of a mercenary group called SeeD that is sent to support a group of resistance fighters trying to disrupt the designs of a tyrannical government. Squall meets Rinoa, an idealistic young woman who changes his life. Together, the SeeD agents and resistance fighters work to fight the designs of a sorceress named Edea, though, with strange, time-traveling flashbacks and the betrayal of an old friend, they quickly find out that there's more to the conflict than they ever could have imagined.

How do I play?

Final Fantasy VIII is a traditional RPG title. Playing as Squall, you have the ability to explore towns, fields, and dungeons, traveling between them on an overworld. You can interact with objects and NPCs and solve some puzzles. While exploring dungeons and some other areas, you'll randomly enter battle encounters with monsters, which you'll fight using Final Fantasy's Active Time Battle (ATB) system. It's essentially a turn-based system, but each character and enemy's turn is on a timer that must recharge before they can take another turn. When it is their turn, characters can attack, use magic, summon powerful spirits to support them, use items, or take other actions to hurt the enemy or heal their friends.

Essentially, if you've played an RPG before at all, you'll feel comfortable enough in Final Fantasy VIII.

Do I need to have played any other Final Fantasy titles?

As with most other Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VIII is a standalone story. Though playing other Final Fantasy games can help you recognize certain kinds of spells, or may make you feel more comfortable immediately with how the battle system works, you don't need to have played any other games to understand Final Fantasy VIII. Its story is all its own, and the game has tutorials to teach you how to play for the first time.

Is this a remake like the Final Fantasy VII Remake?

No. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is...well, remastered, just like it says in the title. It's the same game as before, same story and gameplay, but with upgraded visuals and a few minor tweaks to improve the play experience. But if you're looking for a total remake, we, unfortunately, haven't gotten one for Final Fantasy VIII yet.

What's new in the Remastered edition?

The main, noticeable change in the Remastered version of Final Fantasy VIII is the upgraded 3D models of the characters. The backgrounds are still blurry in a stylized way like they were in the original, but the models look much better. Some other visuals have been upgraded as well.

For the most part, the gameplay is the same. However, there are some new menu options you can choose from to make the game easier, harder, or faster. "Battle Enhancements" can make your fights a bit easier with help with HP, ATB gauges, and Limit Breaks. You can also triple the speed of the game if random encounters are getting you down, or just turn off random encounters entirely. Finally, you can turn off in-game timers during some timed events if you like.

When can I get it?

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is available now on the Nintendo Switch eshop. It costs $20.

Reb Valentine