The Junction system is one of the main things that sets this game apart from the others in the series. The typical FF summons, are called “GFs” short for “Guardian Forces,” like Shiva, Ifrit, Bahamut, and many more. In order to use them and magic, you have to “Junction” them. Doing also allows you to set magic to various character stats like HP, Strength, Vitality, and more. You get magic by using the “Draw” command at a Draw Point or from monsters. Some magic is better for certain stats than others.
My only problem with the game is when it comes to the parts when the story takes you back into the past. Only certain characters time travel at various points in the game. Their Junction configuration gets transferred to characters in the past. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes some members or the past don't get properly Junctioned. This means you have to reconfigure your Junctions before, during, and after these events take place. However, you can get by with not setting up all of the characters in the past with Junctions, but it gets a bit tedious to have to constantly reconfigure your characters.
In the years after my introduction to this game, I've played it numerous times. During a few of my college years, I often played it at least once a year. In more recent years, I haven't played it very often. I gave it a try a few years ago on my PS3 and HDTV, but I didn't finish it. Recently, however, I became interested in playing it once again after seeing that FFIX would be coming to PC via Steam. This rekindled my interest in the series.
So, I decided to jump in and buy FFVIII and VII on Steam. I played VIII first, deciding I would go a bit backwards. Immediately, I was greatly impressed by how this version of the game has updated graphics. Only minor backgrounds and character models reflected how the original game looks. This was really the first HD re-release of a game that I played and I was totally wowed.
The Steam version also includes numerous other additions such as achievements, a tool to “cheat” in magic, and Chocobo World. CW was a mini-game that, until recently, only those with a PocketStation could play, which was only available in Japan. Due to that, I was only able to try it out recently.
Chocobo World is a very small and simple game with simple black and white only graphics. It opens by default in a very small window. You gain access to it once you get a Chocobo in the main game. The very small mini-map contains dots which represent Event encounters. These encounters can be friendly creatures that give you items and weapon bonuses or, more commonly, fights with monsters. Initially, the main objective is to find MiniMog. After that, you can continue to explore CW and eventually you run into a female Chocobo who needs to be saved from CW's final boss.
There is little music in the game and it gets repetitive, but fans of the series will recognize it from FFVII. Controlling your Chocobo is simple using the directional keys on the keyboard and CTRL. When encountering a monster, both it and your Chocobo have to wait for the ATB to count down to 0 before they can attack (and they do so automatically). You can speed this up for your Chocobo by continuously pressing the left and right keys. Your Chocobo is equipped with a “weapon” which can be upgraded by encountering a Moomba. The weapon contains four squares, each contains a single digit. When you attack, the game randomly chooses one of those numbers to determine how much damage you do. So, having a weapon with the digits 9000 means that you have a 1 in 4 chance to actually hit your enemy. Once you defeat an enemy, you get a “stone” that randomly goes into a position on a 3 by 3 square. In order to level up, three stones must match up in a line. If your HP is reduced to 0, the fight is lost and your Chocobo will end up sleeping to regain HP. While exploring, your Chocobo may end up randomly falling asleep, watching TV, or going fishing to replenish it's HP. You can wake it up or get it back to exploring by using the CTRL key.
Getting your Chocobo leveled up helps you in the main game by increasing the damage that the summon can do. Cactuars in CW also give you items, which transfer over to the main game. So, this mini-game has a few ways to help you out in the main game. There's even a Steam achievement for getting the Chocobo to level 100. I accomplished that and beat the final boss, but I spent a few hours playing it, at least 4 or 5.
One of the things I didn't have to try to do in the main game was grind to get to level 100. My characters actually reached that level while I was grinding for rare items for weapon upgrades. Still, I finished the game and explored almost all of the side quests in just 64 hours. In some previous playthroughs, I did work on the card mini-game, but decided to ignore it this time around.
So, if you like Final Fantasy games, especially this one, I strongly recommend jumping back in and getting this Steam version. I've noticed that other games in the series are also available on Steam and I've decided to jump back in.
FFVII was what I played next, so stay tuned for a post about that. When I finished with it, I jumped back into VI. So, stay tuned for more about Final Fantasy on Steam!
Chocobo World: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Chocobo_World
FFVIII on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/39150/