This guide is for those experiencing Final Fantasy VIII for the first time who want to experience it as such. All of these tips are based on the original game and will help you understand the basics.
There are also new cheats in the game which will help out players a lot. Encounters can be turned off, health can be put on infinite, and time can be increased up to three times. That last one is actually pretty useful, as battles can get a little long in the tooth. That is a free bonus tip.
Whether one picks up the new remaster, or decided to try their hand at the original PS1 copy, these tips will help out newbies no matter what.
10 Monsters Level Up With You
One of the most important things to note about the game is the leveling mechanic. Each character can reach a max level of 100 and every level increase only needs 1,000 experience.
On top of that monsters also level up with the player within range of whoever is higher. So let’s say Squall is at 100 and the rest are at 10. In this case the monsters will scale more toward Squall. On the plus side, the majority of bosses cannot exceed a certain range, although some optional ones do.
9 Squall Breaks The Game
Speaking of Squall being at level 100, it is possible to achieve this in the starting area.
In order to become a full-fledged warrior, Squall must undergo a trial near Balamb Garden. It is here that he will fight Ifrit. Besides that cave and the world map, there is also a training area within the school which Squall can battle in. In said area is a T-Rex that gives a massive amount of experience. Grinding him will get Squall up to a 100 in no time.
Try that out before Ifrit to make the game a bit more challenging.
8 Breaking Down Triple Triad
Final Fantasy VIII was the first game in the series to feature a card battling mini-game: Triple Triad. It is one of the most daunting quests in the game.
Why care about collecting cards? Later on, a spell can be learned in order to extract rare items from them, which is important for weapon crafting. These items also help unlock powerful spells.
Make sure to always save before going into a duel, just in case. It would be terrible to lose rare cards.
7 Draw, Draw, Draw!
The magic system is definitely one of the weirdest in the series, right next to Final Fantasy II. Instead of MP, spells cast use Draws. A player can Draw magic from enemies in limited amounts up to 100. So let’s say Squall takes 11 Fires from an enemy and uses one. That means he only has 10 more Fire uses left to cast.
When encountering a monster, always Draw from them, especially during a boss fight as they often have hard to find magic.
6 Never Use Magic
The other important thing to remember about magic is to not use it! This is because spells can be equipped to boost stats. So if a player uses a spell, reducing the Draw amount, then that stat will decrease in value.
Magic isn’t even that powerful anyway. Pay more attention to weapon crafting in order to boost strength on the battlefield. Also summoning monsters or Guardian Forces will help win the day. The only exception is if the spell is not rare and easy to come by like curative magic.
5 Transfer GF Builds Between Party Members
GFs, or Guardian Forces, are the aforementioned stand-ins for Summons this time. Equipping a GF onto a character is how they, in turn, can equip spells.
Only certain traits can be equipped per GF. So let’s say Ifrit has a slot allocated for Strength and HP and Shiva has Defense and Luck. Equipping both will allow, let’s say Squall again, to put spells on those four stats but not anything else.
These builds can be swapped around characters in the menu. This will cut down on time if one needs to swap out a party member in a hurry.
4 Understanding Limit Breaks
There are Limit Breaks in the game like Final Fantasy VII, but there is no meter counting them down to activation. These special moves can instead be activated within death meaning that if a character gets their health low enough into yellow, there is a chance their powers will come forth.
Simply passing to the next character on repeat will increase this chance. Just make sure to not accidentally pass too fast, thus missing an opportunity. There is also a spell, Aura, that can activate this mode at will, but it is extremely rare.
3 Ace Your Grades Early On
Unlike most games in the series, gold cannot be easily obtained through monster encounters. Instead, Squall and the gang get payments from the school in timed intervals. This is based on rank. Once per level Squall can take a test. If he aces it his rank will increase and thus his party gets more cash.
Do this until he becomes perfect in order to maximize money allocation early in the game. Don’t be afraid to look up answers online because those questions can be difficult.
2 Button Prompts
While Final Fantasy VIII is primarily a turn-based RPG, there are some more active segments during battle.
The button prompt players should get most familiar with is timing Squall’s slashes. At the moment of impact hitting R1, or whatever another console equivalent, will cause his Gunblade to fire thus initiating a critical hit. Using GFs will also bring up a meter. By tapping the circle, or whatever alternative button is required, during certain sections, the damage will be boosted.
1 Don’t Be Afraid Of Guides
Our final piece of advice is to not be afraid of guides. This year marks the 20th anniversary for the game, which is to say there are already plenty of walkthroughs online for the base title.
There is no shame, even on one’s first time, to seek help from others. That’s why this small tips list exists. We want to help those in need. And for that matter Final Fantasy VIII exists to have fun with no matter how one plays. Just enjoy it!