When I was sixteen, I got “Final Fantasy VIII” for the first Sony PlayStation, and I thought it was the most epic video game of all time. The SeeD Ball was my favorite cinematic scene because I related to Squall’s shyness with dancing with Rinoa.
As an adolescent, “Final Fantasy VIII” made a great impression on me. Since “Final Fantasy VIII” was my first turn-based role-playing game, the gameplay was difficult to grasp at first. Having been used to real-time action games in which I can have my character attack at any moment, with “Final Fantasy VIII,” a meter at the bottom of the screen fills and when it is full, your character can attack. It was a new game mechanic, but I adapted.
But what I loved most about the video game was its romantic love story. In my teen years, I was always falling in love with various female classmates, and always had my heart broken. As I identified with Squall, I was always cheering him on to hook up with Rinoa, even though falling in love with her takes time. Squall is a Sorceress’ Knight to Rinoa. I wanted to be a Sorceress’ Knight as well–but I had no sorceress.
Since my current Xbox 360 games are beginning to bore me now, I disconnected my 360 and hooked up my PlayStation 2 with its backwards compatibility of playing PS1 games. I inserted Disc One of “Final Fantasy VIII”–but that feeling of joy was gone. The game wasn’t fun anymore. Battling monsters and obtaining their magic to level up my characters felt more a like chore than fun. Sadly, the SeeD Ball scene had no effect on me. That uplifting feeling of seeing Squall clumsily dance with Rinoa was gone. I no longer cared about the characters.
I had changed. I no longer share the same kind of angst as Squall. In my younger years, I was a lone wolf type of person, only concerned with myself. However, I grew up, learning that one cannot live without the support of others, as Squall’s Instructor Quistis communicates to him in the Training Center scene. So I joined the CSULB Anime Club in college, even though I hadn’t known much about anime at the time. I now had friends.
In “Final Fantasy VIII,” Squall begins his journey as a cadet of the military academy Balamb Garden and after exceptional performance on the battlefield during his field exam, he graduates in becoming a SeeD, a professional mercenary. For Squall, graduation isn’t just a rite-of-passage. It is a turning point in which he has to evolve from his reluctant hero persona to a hero who inspires.
The same goes for graduation in the real world. It’s a sign to us that we are going to change and mature, whether we realize it or not. What we once loved, we might forget to like.