In the early 2000's, a game called Final Fantasy VIII came to me.

It was my first Final Fantasy game, other than an FF7 demo I played before and wasn’t impressed with.
But this — this game was different. This game was epic from the first moment I popped the disk into the tray. The intro cutscene had me wide eyed on the sofa. The graphics were so good, and the characters looked so cool.

Now, growing up, I was the gamer girl. My sister never really got into playing video games, which I never understood. She was a bit of a girlie girl, and was usually off watching romance anime or chatting online.

She watched that cutscene with me, and as soon as she saw Rinoa, she got hooked. She loved characters like her — a strong, confident woman, with a soft emotional side.

But my sister still never played the game. She would watch.

Anyone who knows Final Fantasy knows that these games are insanely long. 30, 40, 50+ hours of nonstop goodness. It was gruelling, but we would stay up late every night and I would play for hours. She would watch.

The thing is, my sister couldn’t read or write. And Final Fantasy 8 had no voice acting. So without thought (because it was honestly my normal) I would read every text to her. Every character communication, every plot point, every word on screen.

Because of this, the game is very memorable for me. I remember character names, story parts, even quotes. Me and my sister experienced an epic telling of love, friendship and one scary witch. It was probably one of the only things we ever bonded over. Our love for the story and characters lasted for years after, well into our adult life. She even used Rinoa as her avatar online.

My sister is gone now, and we can't share these memories with each other anymore. No one will ever experience FF8 the way I have, or understand why such a game holds such significance in my life.

I haven't played that game in years, since before she was murdered. I don't know if I can ever play it again. Listening to the soundtrack yesterday had me remembering every. single. moment.

The first time we fought Ifrit and got my ass kicked.
The first time we met Zell, and he had that silly thumbs up cutscene.
The first time we fought the boss at the tower and kept dying, not realizing I had to level up first.
And the first time we beat him.
Meeting Rinoa, watching her confidently sway Squall into dancing with her.
Balamb Garden Seed training!
Catching and using Shiva, and being embarrassed by her lack of clothing.
On and on and on,
To the point Squall saves Rinoa in space and they cuddle wordlessly and god, we were such hopeless romantics.

We really did have fun with that game, didn’t we? It’s too bad you had to go. I could have read so many more games to you. We could have beat some goodies together. But we can’t now, so instead I’ll just remember Final Fantasy VIII, and our endless nights of fun.
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