FF8's release was a highly anticipated one for me. I borrowed games just to watch the demo trailer and played the demos before finally getting a hold of the Japanese version. It wasn't until winter break of the next year that I got around to playing the English version. Thanks to all that playing, I was able to track the changes between each release relating to Rinoa.
Both the demos had Rinoa instead of Selphie in the Escape from Dollet mission. They were shown at conventions like Tokyo Game Show before being made available to the public in the form of bonus discs with other games. The demo video ended with FMV scenes tied together in a way to suggest that Squall would die and later reunite with Rinoa in a major scene. It also had the orchestrated prelude song used exclusively on commercials for Final Fantasy games. When the the demo game was released, it ended with the FMV of Squall getting rescued just in the nick of time – as he does in the final game.
The characters in the demo were changed to the proper ones in the final game, along with further refinements to the graphics. Selphie in her Garden uniform replaces Rinoa and Quistis in her SeeD uniform replaces a random soldier. The story stays exactly the same since Rinoa never says a word. However, a few details specific to the demo were mistakenly left in the final version.
For the longest time this website listed Invincible Moon as Invisible Moon and Wishing Star Wish Star because that's what it said in the Japanese game. Final Fantasy games usually have shortened ability names due to a lack of space or need for neatness, however this does not seem to be the reason for the change.
All of Rinoa's weapons already had English names except for one, her initially equipped Pinwheel. Both Rinoa and Fuujin's Pinwheels were known as 円月輪 in the Japanese game, meaning "Full Moon Ring". Staying true to the original name, the German game called it Vollmondring.
The Pet Pals magazine has undergone name changes in each localization of the game. In the Japanese game it was simply ペット通信, which could mean "Pet News" or "Pet Diaries". Although "Pet Pals" was a cute fit, people with dirty minds didn't quite see it that way! In the German game it was Mein Hund, which literally means "My Dog". The French version called it L'Ami des Bêtes, which closely matches "Pet Pals".
Both the German and French games had Angel as Angelo's default name. This lead to players thinking that Angelo was a girl from the get go. I won't go into further detail on the French game though, since most of the other changes in it defy all sorts of logic.
For consistency's sake, I've referred to Rinoa as a Witch on this website because it's the English translation of 魔女. I saw no reason to change everything to Sorceress since things like "Succession of Witches" and "Love" were in English to begin with. I figured that the negative connotations might have been the reason for the change to "Sorceress". However, the German version of the game even called Rinoa a Hexe, which means "Witch".
A few things regarding Witches were changed from the Japanese version to the English one. Sorceress Memorial was called エスタ国立魔女記念館, which means Esthar National Witch Memorial Hall, suggesting that more Witches than Rinoa and Adel have been kept there. Speaking of which, Adel's Tomb was called アデル・セメタリー, Adel Cemetery. The changes were likely meant to make more sense in our language. Everything else is perfectly intact, though I wish Adel's name was written as Adele instead.
It could be a regional thing but the general consensus amongst most English players was that Rinoa seemed annoying. Meanwhile, most Japanese players thought her to be endearing. What I think caused this shift in opinion was her dialogue.
All of Rinoa's unique vocabulary was left out instead of localized in some form, which meant that she sounded like any other girl most of the time. Meanwhile, new dialogues which were probably meant to sound cute ended up being quite the opposite. Rinoa calling Squall a meany during a moment where she might burst into tears isn't all that endearing at the age of seventeen.
Rinoa also reads as someone more sarcastic than she's supposed to be at times. I don't mind that the forced femininity of her character dialogue is gone but in some scenarios it seemed like something just wasn't quite right. One example is during her tour of Balamb Garden with Squall. She was supposed to be making a cute comment about feeling awkward but it read exactly like one of Squall's blasé lines.
"Woo. I'm speechless."
–Rinoa at the Infirmary
General Caraway was really カーウェイ大佐, Colonel Caraway when you meet him for the first time. During the flashbacks he is referred to as カーウェイ少佐, Major Caraway. These are the ranks I use when referring to him on this website. It should also be noted that his name can also be read as "Carway" instead.
A small change was the TV screen in Timber Square. In the Japanese game, the TV shows red blurred text. After Zell notices it, the text (Adel's message in English) appears in a dialogue box. In the English game, the TV's red text isn't blurred. On both versions, Rinoa is the only person who feels that the message is giving off a bad vibe.