I'm long overdue for a replay of FFVIII basically any JRPG I've already played myself though every time I've tried to replay it since I first beat it, I tend to stop during disc 2 or 3.
I always believed that one of the reasons Final Fantasy VIII was shit on so much by various online communities at the time was due to the influx of all the new fans Final Fantasy VII brought in. Even today it's not unlikely to hear someone say that Final Fantasy VII was their first Final Fantasy game. Being in High School at the time (and also a surely teenager which was why I liked Squall so much back then) there was a lot of questions among classmates like:
"Where is Cloud?"
"Does this take place in the distant future of VII?"
"Is this a prequel?"
"Is Squall Cloud and Tifa's son?"