If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re either reliving some nostalgia, or want to experience one of the best Final Fantasy games ever made. Final Fantasy 8 is now out on Steam, but don’t let that old school charm fool you, because it’s a damn hard game. Fortunately, I’ve played way too much of it, and have some wisdom to share.
The Junction system
The battle system in FF8 is all about getting as much magic as possible. It’s always handy to have a stock of 100 certain spells on hand, which when junctioned to certain stats, can boost them considerably. You’ll need Guardian Forces to help with that, but more on those guys later.
Junctioning is pretty flexible, and exploring the elemental attack and defense options can help you build up several immunities, as well as augment your basic attacks with added bonuses. Heck, throw enough time into working your fire elemental resistance up for example, and a flame-based attack will actually heal you up.
Each character in the game has a unique weapon, which corresponds to their limit breaks. Minus Selphie, who has that weird random magic casting ability and Quistis who learns blue magic skills through various items.
Upgrading weapons is a must, but you’ll need to also refine items and find Weapons Monthly magazines to get the most out of your guys. Squall has the best limit break of out of everyone, with his Lionheart finisher dealing dozens of 9999 damage when you achieve the final form of his gunblade.
Even though they’re mostly optional, it’s a good idea to hunt down Guardian Forces. They’re powerful allies, can have their attacks boosted and they offer plenty of bonuses when trained. Here’s a list of where and how to grab those elusive spirits.
One of the two starter GFs, Quetzacotl is a lightning-based spirit that can be levelled up to learn the card mod ability, several useful junctions and thunder magic spells.
The second starter GF, Shiva jas ice-based magic that’ll be very useful in the Ifrit GF fight, and she can also help players research powerful ice spells.
You’ll face the fire spirit as part of your SEED examination, when you journey to his cave just left of your GARDEN. Ifrit is no pushover, but a little bit of training, compatibility with Shiva and some ice magic can knock him out.
Fire magic spells, good junction options and the ability to refine ammo for Irvine make him indispensable.
Before you leave for your first SEED mission, talk to headmaster Cid again. He’ll give you a cursed lamp, that when activated will initiate the Diablos fight. The trick to dealing with Diablos, is to cast blind on him as soon as possible.
With his physical attacks useless, his only other magic is gravity based, and while it may do heavy damage, it can’t kill you. Hit him with limit breaks, keep him blind, don’t focus too much on health and you’ll wear him down and gain a powerful new ally.
Make certain that you learn the Mug skill, as you’ll be able to steal some useful items in battle.
This GF can be drawn from Elvoret at the top of the Dollet Communication tower. She’s doesn’t deal massive damage, but Siren does have the handy effect of leaving enemies with the Silent status effect which renders them unable to use magic.
Siren can also help refine further life and status healing magic from items for players, as well as a tool ability to create useful items.
Near the end of the first act/disc, you’ll be tasked with visiting the Tomb of the unknown king. Exploring that maze and completing several puzzles will have you fighting a pair of Guardian Forces known as The Brothers. The key to beating them, is to cast float on the two which will prevent them from healing.
Keep it up, and you’ll clobber them into submissions. Their earth-based attacks are strong against earth elemental monsters. Once captured, you’ll find that they provide several significant health bonuses.
This little fella doesn’t do any damage, but he will cast reflect on your entire party, useful for magic heavy foes. Carbuncle can be drawn from one of the Iguions you fight when you rescue Rinoa. When equipped, Carbuncle has plenty of junction options and some handy recovery medicine refining abilities.
The water elemental dragon can be drawn from Boss NORG in act 2. While not the most pwerful GF, Leviathan does have many fantastic extra abilities, such as Recover which can revive fallen comrades and one hit kill undead monsters.
Similar to Leviathan, Pandemonia doesn’t pack much of a punch but it does come with several skills that are pretty handy. After Pandemonia from Fujin in the Balamb hotel fight, you can teach the beast to boost your speed with Initiative, as well as the very off Absorb skill.
During the Galbadia GARDEN invasion, you can find Cerberus waiting for you in the center of that building. While Cerberus does zero damage to enemies, he does cast Double and Triple on your entire party, and he has plenty of junction options with which to make your team that much faster.
This little GF is mission to find. In the Centra ruins, you’ll find plenty of random encounters with Tonberries, and you’ll need to defeat over 20 of them before the Tonberry king appears. Each Tonberry usually has more than 20 000 HP each, and can deal over 4000 damage as a fight drags on.
Once the final Tonberry has been beaten, the king will appear to fight you immediately, and he’s faster, bigger and stronger than the little guys.
Beating him earns you a Tonberry GF, who is uvery useful for the traveling mage, as he is bale to call up shops, weapon dealers and can haggle prices down for you.
Around Act 3, once you have the Ragnarok ship, you’ll be able to fly to Cactuar Island. The island can be spotted by the green Cactuar that appear on it on the world map, and fighting those comical creatures gives players tons of AP with which to train GFs.
Keep attacking Cactuar until the massive Jumbo Cactuar reveals himself, and prepare yourself for a long-ass fight. Jumbo Cactuar has hundreds of thousands of hit points, and you’ll need to wear him down quite a bit before he’ll relent and grant you a GF.
The Cactuar GF can be taught speed junctioning, and his damage corresponds directly to your level. So if you’re in the level 60s, he’ll deal 6000 damage to all enemies automatically. Quite a useful little guy.
The Holy damage dealing GF can be drawn from Edea when you face her a second time, in the Galbadia GARDEN. Perfect for taking on the undead, Alexander can also level up medicine, refine magic into more powerful spells and revive fallen allies.
You’ll only be able to get Doomtrain from Act 3, and obtaining him is worth the long quest that lies ahead. Near Eshtar is Tears Point, where you can find the Solomon Ring. You’ll need to collect six steel pipes from Wedigos, 6 Marlboro tentacles (Try the Island Closest to Hell for this) and you’ll need to use Alexander to refine six Remedy+.
Once you have all those items, use the Solomon ring and Doomtrain will appear. This GF does light damage, but he also leaves enemies incapacitated, thanks to several lasting status effects such as Blind, Berserk, poison and Slow.
In the far bottom left corner of the map, you’ll find the Deep Sea Research Center. When you enter the station, you’ll notice a column that emits light regularly. Move only when it stops, or you’ll have a random encounter.
Speak to the column, and answer the following questions with these answers:
- It is not our will to fight
- And the hidden option below the third question
Each question will have you fight a Ruby Dragon, so be prepared for some tough fights. Bahamut has some strong physical attacks to go with his flare magic, and when captured is not nearly as strong. Bahamut does have a long animations sequence though, and his attack can be boosted to the 250 maximum.
Other than that, he packs some superb abilities, and can junction you with the chance to find rare items.
Not exactly a GF, but worth the effort anyway, Odin can be found in the ruins of the old Centra capital. There’s an easy puzzle to solve, as well as a time limit, so get moving. When you finally do face Odin, he won’t attack you, but you’ll have to wear him down before he joins you as a card that remains in your collection.
What makes Odin so useful, is that he’ll randomly appear during encounters and one-hit kill any enemies using his Zantetsuken blade. You’ll lose him in act 3 though when Seifer cuts him down, but he’ll be replaced by…
Gilgamesh is only as powerful as Odin 25% of the time, due to the fact that he wields four blades. On the other hand, he’ll appear during boss battles as well, where he’ll either deal poor, weak or strong damage, so that is an upside.
To get Eden, you’re going to need to explore the Deep Sea Research Center where you found Bahamut. I’s a long quest, and you’ll need your best fighters for the most powerful GF. Once you get to the bottom of the station, fight your way down to the bottom of the ruins, and you’ll eventually encounter Ultima Weapon, who is a right bastard to take on.
Ultima Weapon has the Eden GF which can be drawn from him, but he can also wipe out your party in a single turn if you’re unprepared. To defeat him, you’ll need to get Squall to use his limit break as quickly as possible, and pray that he selects the Lionheart finisher.
What makes Eden worth the struggle, is that he can surpass the 9999 attack limit and do tens of thousands of damage easily.
One side-quest of sorts that really needs to be explored in FF8, is Triple Triad. The addictive card game is plenty of fun on its own, but you’ll find that it serves a massively useful purpose in the game. Thanks to Quetzacotl’s card mod ability, you can turn cards that you’ve acquired into useful items, which will help you out in he final battles.
Learning the ins and outs of that game is a necessity. especially when character cards like Laguna can be modded to give you 100 heroes. But I’ll touch more on some other time.