This Games Magazine Trolled A Final Fantasy VIII Hater For Two Years 1
Image: Phil Salvador

Final Fantasy VIII had a tough act to follow. Final Fantasy VII had turned the series into a global megahit, making JRPGs mainstream all over the world in the process. Its sequel would need to be bigger, better and bolder – and while it remains a solid example of the genre, few would try to argue that it is truly superior to the game that went before it.

Even so, it has its fans – one of which is Video Game History Foundation library director Phil Salvador, who we've spoken with in the past.

Salvador recently created "an unhinged Final Fantasy VIII fansite" which proclaims the 1999 release to be "the best", and he's been sharing posts related to the game – one of which (as spotted by Brandon Sheffield) recounts an amusing story of how a North American video game magazine trolled a Final Fantasy VIII hater for two years.

The publication in question is GameNOW, which ran for 27 issues – although its history spans 20 years, as it was initially known as EGM2, then Expert Gamer, before rebranding as GameNOW.

As Salvador explains, issue one of the relaunched magazine featured a letter from Tim Spollen, a reader who expressed their dislike for Final Fantasy VIII and the fact that, when Expert Gamer had covered the game previously, it had tended to use the same screenshot of the game – specifically, Ultimecia’s throne room.

I have to tell you there is something that has been bothering me. In what seems like every issue of Expert Gamer, in your letter section, you have had the same screenshot of Final Fantasy VIII. Let me express my feelings: Final Fantasy VIII sucked compared with Final Fantasies 7 and 9. If you are going to put the same screen shot up again and again, at least put up a good one. Still, I know you will probably put it up again just to tick me off.

This letter kickstarted a two-year campaign by the magazine to print the screenshot as many times as possible.

This Games Magazine Trolled A Final Fantasy VIII Hater For Two Years 3
Image: Phil Salvador

Despite assurances from the magazine that "we honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. We haven’t noticed any such thing" and a claim that it would "certainly not print anything in our magazine that is deliberately trying to upset our readers," an effort was made to ensure that the screenshot was included in every subsequent issue of GameNOW.

In January 2004, publisher Ziff Davis pulled the plug on GameNOW, and in the last issue, the screenshot was printed as a full-page poster. The final laugh, you might assume? Not quite.

As Salvador noticed during one of his shifts in VGHF's library, when all of the issues from 2003 onwards of GameNOW are placed spine-on, the following image appears:

This Games Magazine Trolled A Final Fantasy VIII Hater For Two Years 2
Image: Phil Salvador

[source, via]