Final Fantasy 8’s Junction System is Proof the Meta isn’t Always the Best Way to Play.
Among the most hotly debated aspects of Square Enix’s flagship show is precisely Final Fantasy 8 rankings among the 3 names published on the first PlayStation. The main reason behind this disagreement, and lots of additional analysis in sports design for a long time to come, is that the Junction system, which dominates the players interact with Final Fantasy 8’s strongest creatures.
While the downsides of Final Fantasy 8’s Junction Method have been talked to death, most of the investigation comes from the premise that players will try optimizing their way throughout the game. Nonetheless, this is precisely why avoiding the meta and attempting not to create Squall and part as powerful as you can right from the beginning is the ideal approach to make it throughout the game.
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The Grinding Problem
Two big problems include all the Junction System. The first stems from the way players locate the magic that’s utilized to raise the character’s stats through this auto dealer. Players may either locate magic at particular draw points throughout distinct cities and dungeons, or else they may use the draw control to pull out of enemies. This allows players to pull a couple of magical piles of magical at one time from the Final Fantasy 8’s directors and regular monsters, with the ultimate aim is to build up one hundred components of every spell to optimize how successful the intersection effect is.
The result of attempting to stand up as much magical once to function these to distinct characteristics is that this may have quite a while. This may be particularly frustrating during boss battles, which often provide the participant early access to magical or special spells, which are only found in a small number of areas in certain events. Therefore, as players only do just what the game has instructed them will make them more powerful, this approach will require the great majority of a gamers moment and overshadow Final Fantasy 8’s most important story and side quests combined.
On top of the frustrating way, players must grind up magic to make their characters as strong as possible, and the Junction System comes with a secondary issue. Since magic is treated like a consumable item when cast, using one of the hundred spells that are attached to a specific attribute discourages players from using the mechanic at all when casting a fire spell means dealing less damage with each following attack, then simply attacking with Squall’s Gunblade at max strength will generally become the most consistent strategy.
The most anxiety-inducing example of this system fighting against itself is using any healing magic since these will likely be junctioned to a character’s health. This means that casting the spell to heal themselves or an of Final Fantasy 8‘s other party members will reduce the caster’s maximum health in the process, which then incentivizes healing items over spells, even when a spell would be better in the current moment. Since magic is such a grind to stack up, it becomes too important of a commodity to be used on some bog-standard monster, and fiddling with a character’s stats in the middle of a boss fight could mess up the player’s whole strategy.
Solving These Issues Through Casual Play
Ironically, it seems as though the Junction System was originally designed to mitigate the prospect of grinding and put the ability to maximize character abilities into the hands of the players. The issue only comes up when a player goes overboard and tries to grind themselves to max level too quickly, which most players wouldn’t even imagine doing with a standard leveling system. In that case, the challenge and fun that can be found in the game are almost like a hidden detail in Final Fantasy 8, where making the conscious decision not to break the experience determines player enjoyment.
Meta Still Matters For Post-Game
There is still a benefit to the grind for those players who enjoy chasing the meta, though it should probably be left until closer to the end of the game. This isn’t even new for most Square Enix titles, as other option bosses like Final Fantasy 7‘s Ruby and Emerald Weapons require a heavy time investment to get a party-ready to fight them. So, in the case of Final Fantasy 8, there is a time and a place to grind out the Junction System, and it can be easy to gravitate towards overdoing it, but it should be held until the end.
The System Can Still Be Improved In A Future Title
While there are ways that the Junction System falls short, especially for veteran players who always strive for the best stats possible, the whole mechanic itself isn’t entirely a failure. The system allows players to choose how they want to experience the game, and the unfortunate thing is that what players assume to be the best choice is counter to their own enjoyment. However, if Final Fantasy 8 gets a remake, that would be a perfect chance to take another crack at perfecting the currently slightly broken system.
Some possible solutions for the current system could include soft caps on the effect of adding more magic to each junction and increasing how many units are pulled with each draw. Considering how well Square Enix managed to bring Final Fantasy 7‘s combat and material systems into a more modern style, the developer knows how to rework old mechanics. In that case, a Final Fantasy 8 remake could be a great chance to make up for one of the series’s weaker points.