I was 13 when this game came out, but I remember first playing it on a Pizza Hut demo disc. The demo was great fun, but it didn't prepare me for what the game actually was. The demo saw Squall, Zell and Rinoa, running through one of the earlier missions in the game at Dollet, however, I don't believe it let you mess with anything in the menu, junction, GF, cards or abilities.
Pizza Hut introduced me to many great games.
The last FF I played was II for the SNES (really IV) and I didn't even beat it. Otherwise, the only epic games I had played up to that point was Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past (SNES) and a little gem from KOEI called Uncharted Waters: New Horizons (also on SNES). My mom also loved this game, but she mostly traded and discovered new villages, while whenever I played it, I wanted to be the best pirate in the world!
So, back to FF8, I have been replaying this game on the PS3, and this isn't my first replay of it. It is a wonderful game with cheesy humor, major plot twists (some almost too major) and a plethora of magic spells, side quests and GFs to collect. It is quite different than most other FF games, in that each character doesn't have a particular job. Of course you can set it up that way if you wish. No MP this time around either, magic was almost the same as items, you collect individual spells through the draw command, or use GF abilities to make magic from items. Characters would level up often, but if you wanted to stay ahead of the curve, you had to learn the Junction system. For instance, Squall's HP is 1000 and after you junction a magic to his HP he can have much more than that. It wasn't for defense only, you could also assign it to Magic or Strength etc. In this last play-through, I had Squall's STR junctioned so well, that it only took two swings of his gunblade to defeat Sorceress Edea on the first disc.
I could write for hours about this game, but I would rather just play it. I think that is what I'll do. In closing, here is the intro video to FF8.