34 – Final Fantasy VIII
Initial Release Date: September 9, 1999
Why it’s one of the best RPGs: The next Final Fantasy to make it to this list of greats is Final Fantasy VIII, the one where the serious, brooding military cadet Squall Leonhart falls for the passionate and feisty sorceress Rinoa in the middle of a complex military conflict and some time travel. Final Fantasy VIII was aesthetically beautiful for its time, with a fabulous opening cutscene, well-placed story cutscenes, and cinematic special attacks. There were no voiceovers, but Nobuo Uematsu never disappoints, and Final Fantasy VIII was the first of the series to include a vocal piece in-game.
While its battle system received criticism from some, even more players enjoyed its complexities. Series veterans were already familiar with Limit Breaks, but Final Fantasy VIII introduced interactivity to these sequences. It also included weapon upgrades, a unique leveling system (with a set EXP amount for all levels gained), scaling difficulty in enemies, and the Guardian Force ability allowing players to unleash individual, powerful attacks. While not the most innovative game of the series, Final Fantasy VIII polished known elements and improved in many ways on a tried and true formula.
Next: 33 - Bravely Default