With the hype for Final Fantasy Dissidia NT growing the past few months, and this being Final Fantasy’s 30th anniversary, I’ve been in a major Final Fantasy nostalgia mood this year. My favorite game is VI, but there are a few games I just never quite got into, or always thought were lacking and forgot about them over the years. After watching some Dissidia and Dissida 2 footage, it’s changed my opinion of some characters, and therefore, made me look more into the games they originated from.
One of these characters was Squall. Never liked him as a character, because he was “emo” and just so uncaring to me, with a one-dimensional character. Seeing him voiced, and actually quite entertaining even though he is a loner and prefers to be alone, honestly reminded me of myself in ways I didn’t identify with younger. To me, Squall is a character who doesn’t mind being alone, but at the same time always wants a connection with people that he longs for, and because of his reclusive nature can never 100 percent reach. It’s really fascinating to watch, and his voice actor isn’t bad either!
I love all Final Fantasy music, and love a lot of tracks from FFVIII. Man with the Machine Gun, Fisherman’s Horizon, the world map theme. All really iconic tracks, along with the battle and boss themes. I remembered the final boss theme being really good, but totally forgot how awesome it was until I heard it in game footage of Squall vs. Ultemesia gameplay, and dang!
I can’t get over how amazing this piece of music is. Nabuo Uematsu never disappoints, and with this track, there is no acception. I can’t get over how much different this is from other final battle entries in the series: the two games before this, Final Fantasy VI and VII definitely are more character showcase pieces than something like this. Dancing Mad (Final Fantasy VI_ is setup more like an overture/opera, and the music is so synonymous with that fight, and Kefka, that it’s hard to think of anything more than climbing up the distorted statues, and destroying the man who believed himself to be a god. One Winged Angel is iconic for being the first battle music with a choir, but once again, it’s 100 percent connected to Sephiroth (they say his name repeatedly in the chorus, after all) and there’s no possible way I could ever hear One-Winged Angel without thinking of Sephiroth, and FF7.
The Extreme however, is a completely different experience. It starts out haunting, eerie, desolate. It feels like there’s no hope left, and that there are such higher stakes at hand if you lose this battle. After that section ends, the battle music starts, and gets your heart pumping. It truly feels like you’re fighting for your life, that if you fail here you’re failing the world, and overall the entire listening experience is both a combination of “We have to do this/can we do this?” determined courage, fear, tension, all culminate in this track to make it a truly emotional experience, and I’m sad I totally forgot about this track until recently! I absolutely love the use of minor chords in the main melody to sound like the section should be resolving, but at the same time leaves that air of tension and dread abound. This is some of Uematsu’s best meldoy work hands down, and the way this track just crawls further and further up until it crescendos back to the beginning of the battle section is so perfect to me.
Final Fantasy VIII is one of those games that is overlooked hardcore. It was between VI, VII, and IX, and all of those are such beloved games that VIII just falls through the cracks because it tried something new with it’s characters, gameplay, and storytelling. I used to be that way, but revisitng the game has really made me appreciate Final Fantasy VIII for what it is: A tale about inner discovery, with a scifi plot that may not seem like it makes sense on the surface, but is a really interesting and dynamic take on a time travel themed story. Plus, the villan is truly terrifying, and I think the first time we get a full on demonically supernatural creature to face.
That’s why The Extreme is such a fitting final battle piece. It feels like we’re facing insurmountable odds, because we are: We’re facing a witch who wants to completely reshape time for her own whims and domination, and facing her needed to have a track that really sounded like we were fighting for our lives. The Extreme does that excellently, and is by far one of my new favorite final battle songs from the Final Fantasy series.
I hope you enjoyed this musical moment, that also turned into a mini discussion about Final Fantasy VIII! I’d love to know: What’s you’re favorite game in the series, and favorite final battle song?