I think I forgot to mention I beat FF VII over the weekend. I absolutely love the open-ended ending.
This morning, I popped in FF VIII and was like, "Ah..." Old friends, re-met. Poor Quistis, irrational Seifer, moody Squall. People I fought with and for and against, when I had this on my PC.
You have to care about these characters. The story leaves you no other choice. That's what seems to set the Final Fantasy franchise out above the others.
And it's the problem I'm having with Kingdom Hearts... I just don't care enough about Sora to want to help him find his friends. I play it sometimes for an hour or so, just to see who I see next (so far: Wakka, Tidus (altho I didn't recognize him), Selphie, Squall, Yuffie, and Aeris), but that's about it. Also, the fighting controls are TEH SHITS, and the camera is TEH MASSIVE SHITS. Incredibly frustrating.