Table of Contents
- DIARY ENTRY #1 – MiniMog & Quistis Cards
- DIARY ENTRY #2 – Fire Cavern + Quizicot & Shiva GF Cards
- DIARY ENTRY #3 – Ifrit Card And Training Center Battling
- DIARY ENTRY #4 – Killing Squall To Level Quistis
- DIARY ENTRY #5 – Dollet Mission, Enter Seifer, Selphie & Giant Spiders. Boss Fight Earns Siren GF
- DIARY ENTRY #6 – Zell Card, Queen of Cards at Balamb Town, Enter Rinoa At Ball Dance
- DIARY ENTRY #7 – Headmaster Cid Timber Mission Briefing, Magical Lamp, Hoverboards & Seifer Card!
- DIARY ENTRY #8 – Infirmary Hallway Girl In Distinct Clothes Vanishes :O
- DIARY ENTRY #9 – Enter Diablos. Spell Descriptions
- DIARY ENTRY #10 – Laguna Meets Julia
However FFVIII is still a favorite game of mine that I’ve never ever managed to beat. The furthest I ever got was the space scene on the third disc… Never have I gotten beyond that, even though I’ve spent well over 100 hours playing FFVIII (and on multiple playthroughs, even topping over 100 hours) in the past. Once again I’ve taken up the FF8 torch and this time I plan to finish Final Fantasy 8 and run that torch beyond the finish line!
I originally started the diary to keep track of my progress just in case I went too long without playing. So I could read my notes to refresh my memory on where I had gone and what I had done. Thankfully I did too, because exactly that happened as I went two months without playing, and then forgot what I had done previously when I picked it up again (something that happens often with very long RPGs. In fact most people who start Final Fantasy games never finish them).
So join me as I enter into the world of Final Fantasy VIII and share my diary with you! These are actual entries where I’ve taken notes as I play, so they will range from useful information, to the exact words spoken by the characters that I thought might be important to read later on, to solutions to the card game that I found online and tips from my own gameplay experiences with the Card Game to general observations and personal notes!
Just remember that these were for my own personal enjoyment, and weren’t originally meant to be in an article, so it won’t necessarily be a diary in the traditional sense. But it may still prove useful to newcomers of the game and fun to read for veterans. I will try to update the entries a bit before posting to add some clarity, make sure they are free of spelling and grammar mistakes, and make it flow more like a real article. ENJOY!
AN INTRODUCTION TO FINAL FANTASY VIII, WHAT IS THIS GAME & HOW IS IT PLAYED?
You start the game witnessing one of the coolest Computer Generated openings EVER CREATED. I love this opening and I watch it and rewatch it all the time just for fun! Even though I’ve seen it a million times. It’s just so badass and so expertly crafted! I love when the “Final Fantasy VIII” and “FFVIII” text flashes on the screen, and when the sword SLAMS into the ground!
So the game starts off with a training fight between Squall and Seifer, two students at a school called Balamb Garden. Both of these students, one a responsible, unsociable, respectful young man named Squall, the other a tough, irresponsible, my-way-or-the-high-way rule breaker named Seifer. Both of them are young (17 for Squall, 18 for Seifer) and are training to become “SeeDs”, a powerful mercenary force employed by Garden schools across the world. SeeDs are summoned to help in all manner of tough situations from towns, cities, and individuals who need to hire mercenaries for one job or another. SeeDs are highly-regarded and greatly respected, earn automatic pay from the school as they complete missions, and are expected to be the “best-of-the-best” students academically, socially, physically, mentally and supernaturally.
SeeDs also learn how to use Magic, and how to control giant creatures called “Guardian Forces” (GF for short) that they “summon” during battle (that’s what I meant by “supernaturally”). They can use these GFs to help them complete their mercenary missions and defeat foes they may come up against.
FINAL FANTASY VIII IS A JAPANESE RPG
Final Fantasy VIII is a turn-based role-playing game (Japanese RPG). Enemies cannot be seen when exploring the game’s various environments, and will attack you randomly, at which point the game switches to “battle scenes” where the player selects commands from a menu, that determine how your characters will attack their enemies. After you attack with all your characters, the enemy will then attack you. Turn-based meaning you attack, then the enemy attacks, then you attack, etc. During battle scenes, you have to wait until your ATB Meter (Active Time Battle) fills up, once filled, you will be able to attack. While it’s filling, you are open to attack. When not fighting, you will be exploring many of the game’s towns, cities, and other locations where you must talk to townspeople (NPCs meaning “Non-Playable Characters”) to learn new information about your surroundings or your mission objectives, where to go, what to do, and to active events or complete sidequests (additional things you can do beyond the main goals the game gives you that proceed in the game’s narrative and towards the ending of the game).
WHAT IS JUNCTIONING? ABOUT GUARDIAN FORCES AND STATS
Additionally, Guardian Forces enhance the statistics of SeeDs when they are controlled by them, in a system called “Junctioning”. In the game, the new hook of Final Fantasy VIII is the “Junction” system. Junction means “to link”. This allows you to set a Guardian Force and link it to a certain character. That character will then get their stats boosted depending on how much Magic they have “Drawn” from enemies and will be able to summon that Guardian Force to attack your enemies in battle (via long, extremely impressive, cinematic attacks).
Certain stats however can only be boosted if that Guardian Force has learned the ability to Junction magic to that stat (so some GFs will allow a character to enhance their health, others will allow them to enhance their attack strength, others their speed, etc.). In Final Fantasy VIII, the other main hook is the “Draw” system. You don’t buy Magic or learn it by gaining experience from battling enemies (called “Leveling Up”) like in most other RPGs, instead leveling up only increases your max stats for various character attributes. You only learn new Magic by “Drawing” it from enemies during battle. More on that in a bit.
The main character attributes (stats) are:
HP (Hit Points) – The amount of Health that your character has. If HP reaches zero, they die.
Strength – Essentially Offense. Determines how much damage you do with physical attacks.
Vitality – Essentially Defense. Determines how little damage you take when getting hit by physical enemy attacks.
Magic – Determines how much damage will be done when you attack an enemy with a Magic Spell.
Spirit – Essentially Magic Defense. Determines how little damage you take when getting attacked by an enemy’s magic spells.
Speed – Determines how fast the Active Time Battle gauge fills. If this stat is high, you can attack faster as the ATB gauge fills quicker.
Luck – Determines your likelihood at dodging physical enemy attacks, the likelihood that you won’t miss a target when attacking an enemy physically, and your likliehood gaining “First Strike”, the opening initial attack in battle.
Evasion – Determines how likely you are to dodge physical enemy attacks.
Hit – Determines how likely you are to not miss when attacking an enemy physically.
Each characters starts out with different base stats, so they might have higher Strength, or higher Spirit, than another character. As you defeat enemies in battle you gain Experience Points. Once you accrue a certain amount of Experience Points, your characters will level up and all of their stats will increase permanently by a small amount. So your stats for Strength might increase from 18 to 20. Meaning that you will now do more damage to enemies than before you leveled up.
Additionally, GF’s have their own list of unique abilities and their own set of unique stats. If you Junction a Guardian Force to a character, that GF will level up along with your character, increasing their stats AND learning new GF Abilities as they acrue “Ability Points” from battle. These GF Abilities give you an edge in battle, and allow you to learn all manner of new abilities, from the ability to see hidden “Draw Points” (new magic) in environments, to increased max stats for all categories while that GF is junctioned, to the ability to automatically defend against magic spells, or the ability to add spells to your weapons (so that when you attack an enemy, that enemy also gets hit with Fire, for example), to the ability to turn enemies into Cards, cast new and powerful magic like Death or Rage, and much more. Junctioning a GF also allows you to increase your base stats to insane levels, if that GF allows you to increase the state you desire, and if you have the right Magic. Different Magic will boost different stats in different ways. For example, if you Junction a Guardian Force that knows the HP-J Ability, then you’ll be able to Junction Magic to your Hit Points (health), thereby increasing the amount of base health that character has! However if you were to unjunction the Guardian Force, then that HP stat will return to normal. Additionally, if you have 100 of the spells “Double” or “Regen” or “Curaga”, all of which are “Health Spells”, and you Junction those to your HP that the GF allowed you to junction magic to; you could raise your HP from say, 100 Hit Points, to FIVE HUNDRED hit points! This is how magic, Junctioning, and Guardian Forces all work together to give you new abilities, raise your stats, and give you the edge in battle!
As Guardian Forces go to battle with you, they will learn new Abilities. So a GF that initially doesn’t allow you to junction magic to Vitality, may learn that Ability later on. In the main menu select “GF” and you will see a list of all the Guardian Forces you have. Select one, and you’ll see “Learn” in the bottom left hand corner, select “Learn” and you’ll see a list of Abilities that the GF can learn. If the text is white, the GF has learned that ability already, if it’s gray, you’ve yet to learn it. Here you can learn different Abilities in whatever order you desire. Some of these Abilities work automatically once learned, others need to be used in battle (Like “Boost”, which allows you to press and hold the Select Button during a GF’s summon attack, at which point you can hammer on the Square Button when prompted to greatly increase the damage the GF attack will do!), and others need to be selected or equipped before they can be used (find them under the Junction>Ability Menu). Still others can only be used in the Main Menu when you aren’t in battle, and can be found under “Ability”, such as Card Mode which allows you to turn Cards into useful Items and Spells. All of these Guardian Force abilities are useful, fun to learn, and will greatly help you in your quest!
ABOUT MAGIC, SPELLS AND ABILITIES
As previously mentioned, new Magic is learned by Drawing it from enemies. When you encounter a new enemy, you can select “Draw” from the Battle Menu, and you’ll see a list of Magic that the enemy carries. Sometimes it will be new magic that you don’t yet have. You can then choose to “Stock” that magic, which takes it from the enemy and gives it to you (thereby meaning you’ve “learned” that spell).
Once you’ve stocked magic, you can use it whenever and wherever you want, and are no longer dependent on that enemy since you’ve taken the magic from it. You can stock up to 100 of each spell, meaning you can cast that magic 100 times before it runs out. Once it has run out, you’ll need to restock that magic or learn magic through another method (finding Draw Points in the Field, learning Magic Refine Abilities from your GF, turning Cards into Spells using Card Mod, etc.) or find another enemy that has the spell you want and Drawing that spell once more. This system is really cool, although drawing 100 spells for each of your characters takes a LONG time. Which is one of the major drawbacks of FFVIII and of the Draw system (you don’t HAVE to Draw 100, which is the maximum number of a specific spell you can carry. But having the Maximum increases the potency of Junctioning Magic to your stats), it’s very time consuming. It can easily take you a whole hour to draw 100 of a single spell for all three of your characters! And there are TONS AND TONS of spells! *the mind wobbles*
In order to save your game, you will need to find a brightly colored orb-thing in the environment called a “Save Point“, then access your main menu while standing on the Save Point (press Triangle) and select “Save” at the bottom of the screen. You will need a PS1 Memory Card to save if you are playing the PlayStation version of the game.
ABOUT THE FFVIII IN-GAME CARD GAME CALLED TRIPLE TRIAD
Final Fantasy VIII features a unique game-wide Card Game officially called “Triple Triad”. I’ll simply refer to it as the “Card Game”. Almost every NPC and character you meet in the game plays this card game, and by pressing the Square Button on your controller when speaking to them, you can challenge them to the Card Game. There are Cards that you can find and win for every enemy in the game, along with every Guardian Force, every Boss, and every main Character! You can see all the Cards you possess in your collection by selecting “Card” from the Main Menu.
Some Cards are much rarer than others, and some are super rare, only obtainable once in the entire game (sadly, you CANNOT trade cards with other characters or other FFVIII players who own the game, in a major missed opportunity for developer Square). You can get new cards by defeating enemies in battle, turning enemies into Cards using the “Card Mod” ability (that you’ll need to learn from a GF. Then Junction that GF to your character and turn it on in the Ability Menu under Junction), finding Cards by exploring the environment or you can be given Cards by other NPC characters you meet. Mostly, you’ll get new Cards by challenging people you encounter and beating them in a match.
Stupidly, the Card Game’s rules are vague and are never properly explained to you in the game, and the game never goes into detail on the Card Game or how to play it. All you have to tell you how to play the game is the “Card Game” rules section in the Tutorial (accessible via Squall’s computer in Quistis Classroom, or in your Main Menu under “Tutorial” at the very bottom). This is one of the major annoyances in FFVIII, especially given how the Card Game is a major part of FFVIII and works as the main mini-game and side-quest in the game.
READ GRANNY’S HANDHOLDING GUIDE TO UNDERSTAND THIS COMPLICATED CARD GAME
Read “Granny’s Handholding Guide to FFVIII’s Card Game“, a faq written by a girl named Cindy (email@example.com) which has been a huge help for me in understanding the Card Game. It also gives you lots of tips and tricks on how to get all of the Rare Cards, where to find them, who to challenge, and how the game is played and what everything means. And does so with little spoilers, taking you from the beginning of the game to the end, section by section. The best way to read the guide is to play the game without using it, and only read it after you think you’ve challenged everyone in an area, but need to be sure that you don’t miss anything. If you read ahead you will encounter spoilers on upcoming cards, but you’ll avoid missing a Card that may be impossible to find later. Often times, a rare Card is only available once at a single point in the game. If you go beyond that point, and save your game, then you are screwed and can NEVER get the Card again unless you start a whole new game over again. As such, reading ahead so you know where to find Cards and what to expect, is often the best course of action. Use your own discretion when reading the faq above. I’d also make sure to keep several Save Files as backups, just in case you need to go back in time because you missed a card. Be warned though, if you do have to go back in time, and you saved a long time ago, you may have to replay lots of sections of the game. For this reason, the Card Game is not something to take lately, if you want to get all the Cards, be prepared to dedicate a massive amount of time and effort to doing so. It’s not something you can do half-way if you want to find them all.
Here’s a video showing off the FFVIII Card Game. Which is officially called “Triple Triad”.
TIPS ON STARTING OUT WITH THE CARD GAME
Talk to the guy squatting on the floor outside the elevator near the second floor Quistis Classroom to get your first deck of cards (you’ll need to get this deck from him before you can start playing). Read through the Card Games Rules in the Main Menu to get an understanding of how the Card Game is played, then battle a bunch of people at the Card Game and keep playing until you get the hang of it (don’t do anything to proceed in the story, just stay in Balamb Garden doing nothing but playing Cards). As you are defeated, the enemy will take Cards from you, making it really hard to get an upper-hand during the early portions of the game and tough to win Card Matches. Keep playing however until you learn the Card Game and feel like you are good enough to beat the computer. Keep playing different people until you’ve lost all your cards, then reset without saving and do it again until you find yourself winning some matches. Then reset once more and get prepared to do it for real, saving after each Card Game win. I always Save my game EVERY time I win, so that I never lose a card. If you lose a card, you’ll have to defeat that person again to win the card back, which can be difficult but gets easier as you progress in the game and gain powerful, hard-to-defeat, rare Character and GF Cards. You can easily and quickly reset the game using the Soft Reset feature, by pressing all four shoulder buttons, all four face buttons and Start and Select at the same time. This will reset the game. Be sure to challenge EVERYONE at the card game, as there are many spots in the game when a rare Character or Guardian Force card is held by an NPC, and if you don’t challenge that character to a Card Game at that particular moment in time, then you’ll NEVER be able to get that card again! BE WARNED!
This girl does a good job explaining the Card Game to you and giving you some good tips as well in her Let’s Play FFVIII Card Game videos. Some Card spoilers in video.
All Cards can be turned into Items and Magic Spells, and eventually very rare items, using the Card Mod Ability. By doing this you can learn very powerful spells earlier in the game than if you played it without playing the Card Game, and you can get your hands on awesome new abilities, magic and items that are harder to get otherwise or impossible to get without playing Cards. So it pays off to play the Card Game.
However you can completely 100% and entirely skip the Card Game if you want, there is zero requirement to play it. And FFVIII is just as fun to play without bothering with the extremely time consuming Card Game. It’s up to you to decide if you want to bother playing Triple Triad or not. If you think you’ll re-play FFVIII, you may want to play through the whole game once without playing the Card Game, then play it again a second time, concentrating on getting the Cards and playing the Card Game for your second playthrough. Of course, FFVIII is very long, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that playing the Card Game makes actually beating Final Fantasy VIII infinite harder and double or triple as time-consuming as it otherwise is!
* After the intro of the game is played, players are introduced to the main set of characters, namely Squall, Seifer and Quistis, who is your teacher. However you’ll also see glimpses of unknown characters in the intro, including a black-haired girl known as Rinoa and what appears to be a Sorceress. After the opening, Squall wakes up in the Infirmary, the school’s doctor’s office, after Seifer cut his face with his sword during what was supposed to be a Training Fight (as you saw in the opening).
* Both Squall and Seifer make use of a unique weapon called a “Gunblade” (a combination of a gun and a sword, with a revolver for a handle) and Seifer is jealous of Squall and his good-standing and do-goody nature with the school’s teachers and administrators plus the fact that Squall is the school’s only other “Gunblade specialist” at the Balamb Garden school. Quistis comes to meet Squall at the doctor’s office and escorts him back to class.
* During class she scolds Seifer (to Squall’s embarrassment) and tells the class of the impending Fire Cavern Training Mission for SeeD candidates. That’s when the game officially starts, and you can control Squall and explore the school. The first thing you want to do is check the computer at Squall’s desk (press the X Button), which will earn you your first two Guardian Forces. Immediately enter your Menu (press Triangle) and select “Junction”, then Junction them to your character, which will allow you to use Magic in battle among other things.
* It’s really hard to win at the Card Game at first, and you’ll probably play 20 games before you win your first card. Even then, you’ll lose easily. I wish they would’ve given you a few very powerful cards to start off. Play the guy running around the Garden to win a Mini-Mog GF Card that features 9’s on the top and bottom, it will make things MUCH MUCH easier and ensure that you EASILY win new matches. This will allow you to very quickly build up a huge deck of new cards.
* Directly after winning the Mini-Mog Card, head to the Cafeteria and challenge the black guy sitting across from the table of white guys who say “Saaaaaad”. The black guy will have the mega-killer Quistis Character Card! Once you have this you’re golden and shouldn’t lose… I wish I would’ve known/remembered this before playing 6+ hours of the damn card game! >_<
* As previously mentioned, I always save after each Card Game win and restart if I lose, particularly because losing means they'll take your best card… That makes the Card Game even more time-consuming than it already is, and extremely annoying since you have to run all the way back to a Save Point each time you win a match (if you are me… and don’t want to lose ever lol). Being able to save anywhere would be one huge plus… I bet playing this game on an emulator instead would make things less time consuming. I'm still opposed to piracy though so I'll grit my teeth and make it through in PS1 form (playing the game on my PS2). Plus on PC you can't play with the awesome PS1 controller (er… well, I guess you CAN, if you have some sort of adapter thingy), not that it really makes a difference though…
* 6 hours after starting the game (according to the in-game clock, longer in actual time) I had acquired a massive 72 Cards total and have yet to even leave Balamb Garden and step foot outside where Quistis is waiting to take me on my first quest to the Fire Cavern!
And even with all this Card playing, there are several Cards I’ve still yet to get including Tom Berry King… This is way too much mini-game to be available at the start of an RPG…. But I digress!
Squall starts off with the Quizicot and Shiva GF Cards you get from his computer in the Quistis’ classroom, then earns Ifrit early on from the Fire Cavern.
* I played literally everyone at Cards in the entire Garden, including in the hallways. Exceptions being the lone guy in the Training Center who appears later on I believe (I’m too weak to enter the Training Center yet) and the guy at the front desk near the exit rotator things that lead outside the Garden. The Cafeteria Lady (the lower one), the black guy at the table next to the saaaaaaad guys (who has the powerful Quistis Card, as mentioned above), the guy running around the whole place (who has powerful Mini-Mog Card as described above), and Dr. Kawaki in the Infirmity are the best CPU Card Players at this point I think. And they have the best Cards. There is a girl on the second floor outside Quistis classroom who says she’s “much better than her brother”, and there’s a girl in the library at the end where the desks are, talking to a guy about a murder mystery book, who says “heh heh” when you challenger her… and there’s a guy in the main hallway who tells you about the CC Group of expert players… all of these are people I might want to play later on as it seems like they are good players or might have good Cards later. Particularly the Cafeteria Lady, as she tells you she’ll be practicing when you beat her.
* Did tons of fighting in the Training Center to learn the Boost Ability for GF’s Quiz. and Shiva, as well as the Card Ability for Quiz. I also Drew Sleep and Silence from the plant “Grat” enemies. Yet to encounter a T-Rex, I want to try and Draw from it….
* After tons of time spent in the Training Grounds I finally battled the final guy in the Garden at cards (not counting the guy in the Training Center who has yet to appear). Total Card count is 114. 1 GF Card, 1 Character Card, 112 Monster Cards and 9 hours 27 minutes playtime so far!
* Did tons of battling around the area before the Fire Cave, purposefully killing off Squall (who is Level 13) and just battling with Quistis to level her up to Level 13 as well (actually level 14). I then spent lots of time in order to Draw 100% magic from all the surrounding enemies for Quistis and Squall. I even went back into the Training Grounds with Squall to draw Sleep and Silence from the Grat plant enemy in the Training Grounds, then exited and gave it all to Quistis (she’ll wait for you at the entrance to Garden so you can’t take her inside alone even if Squall is dead, as he’ll be at 1HP when you enter).
* Entered the Fire Cavern and defeated Ifrit within 10 minutes, getting the quickest time possible! Huzzah!
* Changed uniform for the first Seed Mission following the Fire Cavern Training Mission.
* Seed head to Dollet on a mercenary mission to protect their Parliament and backup their army from invading Galbadian forces. They head into a city where you must defeat enemies for the mission. Galbadian soldiers attack you, and your team’s goal is to liberate the city by defeating them. Seifer is in your group, along with teachers Xu and Quistis (who stay behind), while a new character, a spunky girl named Selphie, joins you halfway.
* During the mission, Seifer gets restless and follows some Galbadian soldiers beyond the central square (where they were supposed to hold fort) to the Dollet Communication Tower up on a mountain. Squall, following orders from his “Captain”, willingly goes along without complaint (Much to Zell’s distress, as they are supposed to follows orders from Garden on this “test” in which you are being graded based on your conduct. You must follow orders exactly and not talk to anyone or you’ll get points deducted). Once at the Summit, you fight a comedic duo of higher-level Galbadian soldiers named Wedge and Biggs and then are attacked by a Flying Boss called “Elnoyle” who uses Wind Magic during its attacks. I Draw from it for some new magic and an all-new Guardian Force, “Siren”!
* After defeating it, the team is given the order to evacuate by Selphie, they only have half an hour (time will still tick down even if you are in the menu so BE WARNED!), Seifer runs off ahead. Biggs is still alive and orders a giant robot Spider to attack you as you are fleeing. It chases you back through the city as you race back to the beach where the mission started, and you have to fight the giant mechanical spider at multiple spots. After getting away from it and back to the vessel, Squall is running behind and the machine goes after him on the beach. As he is running to Selphie and Zell ahead of him and it looks like he’s not going to make it to the escape vessel, Quistis comes in and starts shooting it with a mounted chain gun, destroying (?) it and allowing Squall to make it safely to the vessel, which then takes off over the water to safety. During this exam Seifer basically went berserk and disobeyed all orders, endangering the whole crew in the process.
* We arrive back at the peaceful town of Balamb, a waterfront place and home to Zell and Zell’s mom. I do a ton of Card Battling and win the Zell Card from Zell’s mother! Huzzah! My second Character Card!
* After fighting the Queen of Cards a ton, and ensuring that “Diff” is the established Card Game rule (meaning that if you win a Card Game, you get the “difference” of your opponents cards, which usually means you get tons of cards each go!). I then go around and re-fight everyone else in the Card Game that lives in the town.
* Following all this Card Battling, I go outside into the field and fight enemies after killing off Squall to level Sophie and Zell to Squall’s level. I also use the Card Battle Command on a ton of enemies to turn them into Cards, and mod the Buel and Caterchipiller into unique cards that you get for Carding them a lot. I then use Card Mod to turn them into rare items and Card Mod the rest of my card doubles into tons of items.
* Time to continue progressing the story. We head back to Balamb Garden and meet a new dark-haired girl named Rinoa at a school ball dance. She noticed Squall wallflowering it up in the corner, and pulls him (reluctantly) out to the floor, proceeding to dance awkwardly with Squall in what is one of Final Fantasy VIII’s most iconic CG (Computer Generated) cutscenes.
* Following this major event, Quistis asks Squall to meet her at a secret place at the Training Center this evening. While looking at the Garden lights at night, she opens up to Squall and tells him how she was let go by the school and, apparently, wasn’t up to the instructor job. She tries to get close to him (Does she like Squall? “Like like”. This is the first hint at a possible romantic relationship between student and teacher), but he coldly tells her he doesn’t care and isn’t interested in hearing about other people’s problems. The next day they head for the town of Timber.
* The black student in the hall to the library seems to have high-level cards with low cards, lots of Hexadragon, Adamantoise. So I do lots more card battling.
* The group (Selphie, Squall, Headmaster Cid, a Garden Faculty member and… eventually Zell, who arrives late) meets up at the front of the garden. A funny scene ensues as Zell comes riding in late on a hoverboard (trying to act cool), or “T-Board” and the Garden Staff confiscate it. Your next mission is to head to Timber and help the resistance there, a resistance member will meet you at the station. They will talk to you and say “The Forests of Timber Sure Have Changed.” You must reply with “But the Owls Are Still Around” as the password. You’re to follow the faction’s orders. Squall is the leader and there are only three Seeds going, much to Zell’s surprise (“Just us three?!”) the faculty responds that they normally don’t do small missions for such little money… Cid says “Enough about that.”
* Headmaster Cid tells Squall to use his best judgment based on the situation. Everyone must help Squall carry out the plan of the faction. Talk to Cid and he gives you a “cursed item. But if one with enough power uses it it will be of much help”, you get the “Magical Lamp” which contains a GF named Diablos! I then went to check to see if Cid was on the third floor (up the main elevator in the Garden) to see if he’d be in his office, as he wasn’t there before meeting the group outside. He WAS there and I was able to play Cards with him! On the second try, he brought out the Seifer Card!!!!!!! I played and beat him by one and earned the Seifer Character Card from him! Huzzah! It features A at bottom, 4 at left, 9 at right and 6 at top. Great Card! I’m so glad I went to check or I would’ve missed Seifer! :D And this follows about three hours spent doing nothing but replaying cards with EVERY single person in Balamb Garden, including the students who walk between hallways, simply because it had been so long (over a month), since I had last played FFVIII. So I wanted to refresh my card playing memory, and I also talked to all the NPCs and read everything they said to rebrush up. HELL YEAH! SEIFER!
* I then re-walked the entire Garden, because I noticed Quistis isn’t anywhere to be found and not in our group (neither is Seifer), I wanted to see if she’d reappear in her classroom or something. First thing I did was check the second floor, and encountered two “new” situations with NPC conversations that I hadn’t encountered in my three hours of playing and talking to everyone as listed above. Outside the classroom the girl was talking to her brother, and the other girl came and said “Hey brother” while the girl he was talking to in the corner called him “Mr. Brother”. The other situation was the appearance of two guys sitting in the hallway just outside the elevator. I then encountered several new convos and card games in the hallway to infirmary. I encountered a woman in very distinct clothing who said she had to see the Dr. But I couldn’t encounter her again! >_< Maybe she only appears the first time you go there after entering the Garden since she is going to see the doctor? I didn't try to battle her to cards so I need to look for her next time….
* Exploring the Garden again ended up taking another hour and seemingly forever! Quistis was no where to be found, but I’m glad I searched because as I was going through the Training Center again, I discovered that the Gnat plant enemy had some magic I had never Drawn! It was the Berserk Spell! I stocked up on that and stocked up on Silences which Zell and Selphie were low on. Also had more new conversations in between hallways and played a few card games with them. I am ready to leave now! Gonna first fight Diablos by using the Magic Lamp!
* Diablos: “Who dares disturb my sleep?” Strange, it makes the regular enemy music and not the boss battle music! …. And I died! Following my death, I spent a long time using Card Mod and checking what the rare items are, to see if I have any Cards that give rare items. Now I’m going to go back and do some card battling to pick up a few more extra cards I need. Namely Ruby Dragon (Red and black-colored dragon. I have 7, need 10 to make “Inferno Fang. Found the Card by battling the library girl at back that says “hehe”), Elnoyle (Flying boss from Biggs fight. I have 4, need 10(!) to make “Energy Crystal” Item) and Torama (Lion creature, I have 4, need 5 to make “Life Ring”!). I don’t know what those items are or what they do, but I’ll find out! I also used my Ability menu to create lots of Curaga’s, lots of wind magic (Aero and Tornado) which Diablos is weak again (Use the “Scan” spell on an enemy to find out what they are weak against, their HP and other stats, and a description about them. At the bottom of this article I will put what it says when you Scan each enemy. As I Scan them I’m writing it down), Regen magic and even Holy Magic using Holy Stones! All of this new Magic should help me defeat Diablos a lot easier. I Save, then fight Diablos again following me getting all that new magic as described above. In the battle I died and I only had Cure’s so it was hard to heal myself (the person I gave Curaga’s too died! >_<). So for the next Diablos fight, I'm going to spend time reorganizing my Magic for each character so that Cure magic and Curaga comes up first. I arranged it in this order: 1. Curaga 2. Double 3. Shell 4. Regen 5. Protect (6. Selphie: Holy ) 7. Tornado 8. Aero 9. Esuna
* “Curaga” heals you pretty much all the way, it’s the most powerful Healing Magic in the game. “Double” allows you to use TWO spell moves in one turn (as opposed to only one Spell per turn like usual). “Shell” casts a pink shield around your character that protects you against Magic Attacks. So a good strategy is to immediately use Double on all three characters, then you can cast two spells like Shell or Protect on one turn to protect your characters quicker than normal. “Regen” is healing magic that makes your character heal automatically, but in small increments. It’s kind of the opposite of Poison (a spell that automatically hurts you in small increments). “Protect” casts a blue shield around your character that raises your defense against Physical Attacks. “Holy” is extremely strong light/good Magic that is devastating to evil characters, like Demons or Undead creatures. The Magic is “holy”, as opposed to evil, and is one of the strongest spells in the game. You usually can’t get this magic until you are near the end of the game, however if you use Card Mod, an ability your Guardian Forces can learn (select “Ability” in your Menu and you’ll see “Card Mod” in the list if you have it), you can get certain cards that Card Mod can turn into items and spells, including Holy! :D Huzzah! “Tornado” and “Aero” are both Wind Magic Spells. “Esuna” is extremely useful magic that heals all status ailments, including Poison (described above), “Blind/Darkness” (makes your physical attacks miss), “Silence” (prevents you from using Magic Attacks), “Berzerk” (Makes your character uncontrollable, boosting their attack while making them attack continously), “Confuse” (Makes your character automatically randomly attack a target, including your own characters), “Sleep” (Puts your character to sleep so they can’t attack until they wake up. They wake up if they are hit, including hit by their own party) and others.
* FINALLY, after re-arranging my magic, I try to fight Diablos once again! And this time, I CONQUER HIM! “Too much sleep… Too weak…” says Diabos when you beat him. Finally on the second try, I defeated him! Although both Squall and Zell died, and I nearly failed again despite my GF’s being extremely powerful when attacking him. Used all my magical might from everything I had done above to successfully defeat him! PHEW! Once Diablos is defeated, he joins your team as your newest Guardian Force, and a character that does devastating “evil” magic!
* Following all of that Diablos shenanigans, I did a ton of other crap and ended up playing Final Fantasy VIII from 1am until 1pm! :/ (this is not a lie or an embellishment!) I did tons of battling outside of Balamb, focused on drawing the new more powerful versions of spells and getting everyone’s Spells stocked to 100 (so I have 100 of each spell to cast. If you have 100, it also improves your stats that the spell is junctioned to). Did lots of Card Modding and Item Refining as well. At this point I’m at 33 hours played.
* Finally I boarded the train at Dollet and took it to Timber!
* 18 years ago Galbadia invaded Timber, it’s now under occupation, with resistance factions everywhere. On the train ride Selphie suddenly gets sleepy and passes out, followed by Zell. Just then Squall hears a ringing in his ears and passes out too…. the screen fades to a new group of playable characters in a forest area…
* “Whoo boy not again!?” says one of the new characters (Zell “Dream?!” – Selphie “Where am I? – Squall “…”)
* Turns out the group is in “Timber Forest” according to the menu…
* They are there to fight a war against the “Almighty Timber Army”. So does that mean they work for Galbadia or are part of the Galbadian army? Or are they mercenaries?
* Their “home” is Deling City… so says Laguna (who is apparently the leader) In addition to Laguna there’s a huge (somewhat fat) guy named “Ward” and a skinny black guy with blades on his hands named “Kiros“. The group makes it’s way through the forest fighting enemies, then we find a Galbadian truck and they drive it into Deling City. So we are now at a completely new town, a city. Laguna says he’s here to “have a drink”… The soldier sentries standing around say “Sir” to you, so you obviously have a high rank. Apparently Laguna has the hots for the pianist in the Hotel Bar…. Julia is her name. \
* Zell “Is this a dream?” – Selphie “Laguna’s pretty cute!” Squall – “What’s goin’ on?! W-What’s happening to me?!”
* As they go into the room where Julia is in the basement of a fancy bar, Laguna says “No no no! If I run from this the guy’s will call me a weenie forever…” He says that if you try to leave once they sit down at the table and Julia starts playing the amazing FFVIII theme song “Eyes On Me” on the piano.
Laguna: “Ah… to be this close to Julia” (Squall – “Is this guy serious…?” Selphie – “… Uh-oh…”
Laguna: “My leg’s cramping up…!” (Zell – “Sad…” *said after Laguna’s leg cramps up just as he gets close to Julia to try to talk to her*
Hahahahaha, oh man that was a classic, awesome scene. Laguna goes to talk to Julia at the piano, but just as he gets to her he gets a major cramp in his leg and is forced to hobble back to the table! :D She comes up to him…
* Laguna: “Oh man, oh man. It’s really HER! What do I do?! Kiros? Ward! HELP! What do I say?! But man, she is pretty…” (Squall – “What’s this guy thinking…?” Zell – “Am I dreaming? – Selphie … This is a dream… This is a dream… No this can’t be a dream! This is too weird to be a dream…)
* Laguna: Julia…? Wants to talk to me…? (Squall “… He talks to himself too much…”)
* Julia then comes to the table and invites Laguna to speak to her later at her room in the hotel. Score one for Laguna! Kiros and Ward, sitting at the table, clap and congratulate him. You then head up to the hotel room to speak to Julia. Laguna is extremely nervous and keeps saying funny things.
* Earlier, Kiros and Ward kept telling Laguna (before he went up to Julia for the first time), that he talks too much and doesn’t let girl’s speak their mind. In the room, Laguna tells Julia he likes to be in the military, because he gets to travel. But he wants to quite the army and become a journalist. So he can tell people about what he’s seen in his travels. He notices he is talking to much and tries to stop himself. He asks Julia about herself. Julia tells him her dream is to sing, not just play the piano. She say she can’t cause she is not good at writing lyrics. She tells Laguna that he has inspired her. She tells him thank you. He says, “thanks to me?” She says yes, because of what his eyes have shown her. “Times when you were hurt, worried… Or felt pain deep inside you… Your smile, your face, your eyes.” She holds his hand and says she’ll write a song inspired by him. She tells him he isn’t dreaming and pokes him. Just then a knock on the door from Kiros, “Laguna! New orders! Meet by the Presidential Residence, on the double!” She says she wants to meet him again, he says of course, he has to hear her sing.
* Just then the crew wakes up, Zell & Selphie are already up, Squall is the last to awake. Selphie says she had such a nice dream, Squall says to himself that he had a dream too but it wasn’t nice. “I dreamt I was a moron” he says. :P Selphie then exclaims aloud “Seriously, sir Laguna was so cool!” Zell is shocked, and says there was a Laguna in his dream too, “A Galbadian soldier right?!” Selphie says there is no way they can understand what just happened, Squall agrees and says they must put this incident behind them, he’ll report it to Headmaster Cid once they get back to Balamb Garden after completing their mission in Timber.