Final Fantasy VIII was released for Microsoft's Windows-based personal computers in 2000. The game's story focuses on a group of young mercenaries who are drawn into an international conflict, and seek to protect the world from a sorceress manipulating the war for her own purposes.
Final Fantasy VIII is a departure from many traditional standards of the Final Fantasy series. It is the first game in the series to consistently use realistically proportioned characters, the first to feature a vocal piece as its theme music, and one of the only titles to deviate from the series' traditional means of increasing a character's power. In addition, it does not have a magic point-based system for spellcasting.
The game was positively received by critics and was commercially successful. It was voted the 22nd best game of all time by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu. Thirteen weeks after its release, Final Fantasy VIII had earned more than US$50 million in sales, making it the fastest selling Final Fantasy title.