The garden flew, and then it crashed in the ocean. It still worked fine, but the problem was, no one knew how to control it. After this, the game makes it seem like quite a long time has passed. Everyone’s bored, not knowing what to do or where to go next and Squall is getting slightly annoyed.

Since the game wants downtime, I decided to take some downtime myself. I started walking around the garden, playing the card game with everyone I could, turning the extra cards into items. Eventually, I used the various Refine abilities to make a stock of higher level spells for each party member. By “each party member”, I mean the three active slots I can have, of course, not the actual player characters.

I basically got my party to around 1500 health each and upped their damage to around 300-400 on average. It’s not extremely overpowered, but considering they’re all at around level 15, it’s pretty decent. I didn’t get to train my GFs yet though.

The chance for that appeared soon. Once I made a round around the Garden, I was summoned to the B1 level by a staff member. Cid was already there, arguing with the Garden master. Master? But I thought Cid was headmaster. Well, the next part was extremely confusing. A lot of stuff was said in a very short time span and a lot of it was not at all clear.

There was this Norg guy. He wasn’t human, looked yellow and overweight and was hooked to a huge machine. He’s the master of the Garden and Cid is working for him. Also, Cid is Edea’s husband. Edea is what the sorceress is called, by the way. ALSO, the master is a coward and wants to turn in the team involved in the assassination, as well as the headmaster, to Galbadia, hoping it would appease them. I had to fight him, naturally.

Final Fantasy VIII, Master NORG battle.

Master NORG was easy to deal with, especially considering the two monsters I had to fight earlier.

Apart from the gimmick that was simple to follow, the fight was not hard at all, especially compared to the last one against the two monsters. I just had to hit the two orbs in order to make them go back to blue and then focus on the boss. The orbs would switch from blue to yellow and then to red, at which point they would start casting powerful spells, but it never got to that.

Anyway, the fight was over and I went to see Cid at the infirmary. He tried to explain everything, but it was still a lot of information to take in. Basically, SeeD and the Gardens were created to fight sorceresses. Edea was one and she knew it since birth, as did Cid. They married and decided to from the Gardens. Eventually, something changed Edea. As for Norg, he was just a rich guy who provided most of the funds for the Gardens. Eventually, he pushed the administration into using SeeDs as mercenaries and it wall went to hell. Now that Edea has turned evil, the SeeD’s true mission is active again.

Final Fantasy VIII, White SEEDs

White SEEDs

You might also like:When I got out of the infirmary, Xu reported that a ship was approaching. It turns out, it was a SeeD ship. Apparently, Edea has a personal ship full of SeeD’s and they were assigned to protect Ellone, so they came to pick her up. I went to get her at the library and had even more information thrown at me. Ellone and Squall know each other, but he doesn’t remember, for some reason. The dreams the group had are also reals and are actually visions of the past. Laguna is also very much real. Other than that, she didn’t say anything else. The white SeeDs took her and Squall went back to moping.

While Selphie, Rinoa and Quistis were doing their thing at the military base, the guys were just arriving at Balamb Garden.

Something was up, though. The students were all fighting each other and those strangely dressed staff members were giving half of them orders to hunt down the other half. Apparently, some guy named Norg decided to try and take over and the staff members are working for him. The students have divided between Cid and Norg supporters, so there was a full on war.

I explored a bunch of the side areas, trying to find Cid, but he wasn’t in any of them. I did, however, get a few goodies and took the opportunity to do some training. I’m still not getting EXP willingly, but Ifrit started to learn the Strength Bonus ability, so I’m getting to the point where this will be an option. For now, I was “carding” monsters and converting the cards to useful items. Slowly, but steadily, I was getting a nice supply of higher level spells.

Final Fantasy VIII, Headmaster Cid

It’s getting hard to find screenshots. I should set up the screenshot plugin for my PSP.

After taking plenty of stairs and doing plenty of walking, I finally got down to the bottom of it, where I got attacked by a couple of boss monsters. On my first attempt, I forgot to bind my abilities properly, so I got my butt kicked, but the second time around, I managed to beat them, thanks to Ifrit and some fire spells junctioned to Irvine’s attack.I did a full circle around the Garden and finally saw Xu heading for the central elevator. I followed and met her at the second floor, where she told me Cid was in his office, hiding. He just wanted the enemy to think he was somewhere else. I got up there and spoke to him. He gave me a special key which allowed the elevator to go down to the MD floor.

I got to the controls at the bottom and then one of my favorite parts of this game happened. The Garden flew!

The base was uneventful. I was basically just walking back and forth, disguised as a Galbadian soldier, trying to find a way to mess things up. Some lazy maintenance guys decided not to do their job, so they asked me to replace them. This got me access to an area that was off limits, so I managed to do some things there which put everyone on alert.

After some fights, I finally got access to a missile control station. I couldn’t change the target, but I did manage to set the error ratio to the maximum, which, I’m guessing, would make the missiles fire in a wider spread, instead of focusing on a single area.

Final Fantasy VIII, Selphie, Here Goes Nothing


I was doing all of this at around 3:00 in the morning, because I got some sort of cold, which woke me up. I had that annoying sensation of being extremely thirsty which you get when you have a bad cold, so I decided to make myself some chamomile tea. While the water was heating up and while I was drinking the tea, I was destroying a Galbadian army base. Fun stuff!After that, I got to the central control room and managed to activate the base self-destruct. I decided to be bad-ass and set up a minimal time limit of 10 minutes. I got back outside and was attacked by a tank of some kind. The fight wasn’t hard, but the time limit was making it very exciting. In the end, I’ve managed to beat it with less than 30 seconds to spare. The game keeps the group trapped in the base, though, so it looks as though they are gone in the explosion.

Disc Two starts with another dream sequence starring Laguna. It’s six months after the events at the mine (if ti was a mine) and he’s now pretty much recovered from the injuries. He was recovering at the village of Winhill. His new love interest is a woman named Raine and he’s also taking care of a little girl called Ellone.

Kiros visits him so they go on a monster hunt through the village. It’s obvious he has gotten a bit complacent, so Kiros keeps hinting in that direction to. Other than that, nothing is really happening. The only other thing of note is that we find out Julia got married to Caraway, meaning she’s Rinoa’s mother. Also, Esthar soldiers seem to be abducting little girls, trying to find a successor for their sorceress.

The flashback is soon over and the game switches to Zell, Selphie and Quistis, imprisoned in the D-District prison. Zell gets beat up by guards and then the game switches again, to Squall. He’s at the same prison, being tortured by Seifer. Back to Zell, he realizes he doesn’t really need weapons, being a martial arts expert and all, so he beats up the guard and recovers the groups’ weapons.

Final Fantasy VIII, Zell's Chance to Shine

Hell yeah! Some people hate Zell because they’re hipster like that. Not me!

There was some more switching back and forth, but eventually, I managed to get Squall with the group and then, just as it was about to end, Irvine and Rinoa came to the rescue. I got control of Squall back and teamed him up with Zell and Rinoa to get to the top of the prison, where the exit was. There was a short and easy boss battle and we were out.

During the escape, I took some time off to play the card game against some of the prisoners. I finally had a good, strong set of cards, so I used the opportunity to get a bunch of extra mid-level cards so I could possible refine them into items in the future. I think it’s about time I started seriously accumulating stronger spells for junction.

After the escape, I was finally told that Galbadia is targeting Balamb and Trabia Garden with missiles. I had to split the group into two, with Selphie, Quistis and Rinoa (if I remember correctly) going for the missile base, while Squall and the rest went to warn Balamb Garden.

With Brothers in the bag, I got back to Deling and spoke to Caraway. I somehow forgot about this, but it turns out, Caraway is Rinoa’s father. They have the typical “rebelling child, overprotecting father” relationship which was, honestly, sort of annoying. As expected, he keeps her there, so she goes out of the party for a while.

His plan is to give us access to a high spot on a carousel near the large gate in the middle of the city. The party would split in two groups. The first gets to the carousel with the sniper and waits, while the other gets to the get to close both sides of it at the right moment, trapping the sorceress in there for the sniper to have an easier shot.

I have to be honest here, I always hated this part. The plan is extremely simple, but stuff keeps happening that messes with it. That’s not the part I hate, though. I hate the fact that the game keeps switching you between the two groups, so it all feels like one long cut scene instead of actual game play.

Basically, Quistis, Zell and Selphie get to the gate but decide to go back fast to talk to Rinoa. Meanwhile, Squall and Irvine wait in the middle of the audience. At the same time, Rinoa has a plan to give the sorceress some sort of jewelry which is supposed to block her powers. She leaves the Caraway mansion and gets Quistis and the others locked in there so now they can’t get to the gate.

Rinoa gets to the sorceress, tries to trick there and fails as expected, so she gets attacked by some lizard-like statues that the sorceress brings to life. Squall and Irvine see this, so they rush to help her. They get rid of the lizards, but not before I remember to draw another GF from them – Carbuncle. Carbuncle is the first GF that doesn’t do damage. Instead, it casts Reflect on the entire party, which is extremely useful in the boss battle soon to come.

Final Fantasy VIII, Carbuncle

Carbuncle’s Ruby Light is extremely useful, especially against Edea.

As the battle is over, you switch again to Quistis and the rest. They find a secret passage through the sewers and navigate through it to get to the gate, pulling the switch just in time. Irvine freaks out at first, but manages to get a perfect shot anyway. Of course, he’s shooting at a sorceress, so she blocks it. Squall charges in and beats Seifer easily thanks to the 1000 Curaga i refined from 10 Tents and junctioned to his HP. Then the fight against the sorceress starts.

Rinoa and Irvine join in. As I said, Carbuncle is extremely useful here. I summoned it to Rinoa every second turn, which caused the sorceress to just constantly cast dispel on my group, instead of doing any attacks. Soon enough, I won with almost no damage done to me. In the cut scene that follows, the sorceress summons a shard of ice and hits Squall with it, piercing him straight through. Everything goes to black and disc one ends.

I got to Deling quickly, using a train from Galbadia. However, I didn’t enter the city right away. Instead, I decided to save me some time and go to the nearby tomb right away, in order to save me some time. You see, my contact, a military official named Caraway, would send me there anyway, before even meeting me in Deling.

I got to the tomb and read the ID from a sword on the ground. As far as I know, this number changes in every game, but it was 155 in mine. I might be wrong, though. I really can’t remember what it was last time. This is all that needs to be done in the tomb, but most players opt for getting the extra GF hidden in there, so I did the same.

Final Fantasy VIII, Tomb Map With Route

This is the correct route, I went in the opposite direction.

The brothers are Sacred and Minotaur. They’re an earth based GF and pretty much impossible to beat by a low level party unless you figure out the trick. They get healed every few seconds. Sacred got healed by about 100HP at my level. This was easy enough to offset in the first battle against him, so I could do it in the team battle as well. His brother, however, was healing close to 500HP every turn.It feels like a maze at first, but once you understand the layout, it’s easy enough to navigate. Sadly, I went in the wrong direction at first, so I did an extra unneeded lap around the tomb before doing all I needed to do. At the east side of it was Sacred – the first half of the GF. He was easy to beat, but he always runs away to the center. To get to the center, I had to first go north to open a floodgate and then west to lower the drawbridge. Then I got out to save and returned to the tomb, going straight forward towards the central chamber. That’s where the battle against the GF “Brothers” starts.

Final Fantasy VIII, Minotaur Scan

Scan tell you all you need to know.

It was time to go to Deling.A cast of the Scan spell hints on how to get past that. They get healed through their connection to the ground. Casting float on them stops the healing. Luckily, you can draw float straight from them, so all the tools to beat them are available in the battle. Soon enough, they were dead and another GF was mine.

With the president abduction being a failure, Rinoa decided they should take over the TV transmission the Galbadians are planning and use it to broadcast Timber’s proclamation of independence. It took the group some time to get access to the tower, but when they finally did; their plans were forced to change. The president’s speech was broadcasted and he announced peace negotiations between the nations, being led by Galbdadia’s new ambassador, a sorceress.

Now, from what I understand, sorceresses are extremely powerful women, born to be conduits for some outside power I don’t fully comprehend yet. They have existed in the past and they usually aimed to rule nations, or even the whole world. Their rule would always be a dark time, full of dark magic, sacrifices, etc.. All in all, it was very obvious Galbadia is using the sorceress as a fear factor, to force the other countries into peace terms they wouldn’t accept otherwise.

Anyway, as this speech was happening, Seifer suddenly barged in, following by Quistis trying to stop him. He took hold of the president and tried to pull him out of the room, threatening his life. As they entered another room, the sorceress suddenly appeared and took Seifer with her. The group managed to get there in person, but it was too late.

With no order and nowhere to go, since they were wanted now, they decided to follow protocol, meaning they need to report to the nearest Garden. This would be Galbadia Garden, so that’s where I went next. Some resistance members helped me avoid Galbadian troops and then I got to a train in the direction of the Garden.

FInal Fantasy VIII, Galbadia Garden

Galbadina Garden seems much less friendly than Balamb.

Timber had random encounters, but sadly, I had to run away from most of them, since they were against soldiers, meaning I couldn’t turn them into cards. Some of the battles were forced, though, so I managed to get a level or two, but nothing major.

When I boarded of the train, I was supposed to go through a forest to reach the Garden. This is where another dream sequence with Laguna happened. This time, they were in a mine infested with Esthar soldiers. From what I understand, Galbadia was at war with Esthar two decades ago and back then, Esthar was run by a sorceress. They did some running around, being their usual useless selves, and then they got ambushed by a bunch of soldiers, getting severely injured and being forced to jump off a cliff.

The group woke up and I could go to the garden now. Before that, I decided to finally train for a bit, using Card to get some AP without gaining levels and learning some item creation abilities that way. I used these to get a bunch of higher level spells and then junctioned them to my characters. Doing all this finally got me to above 1000 health on two of my characters. The third didn’t have HP junction yet, but would get it soon enough.

I entered the garden and reported to the headmaster. The group was also told that Seifer was captured by Galbadians, tried and executed soon after. On the way out, Squall met Raijin and Fujin who wouldn’t accept Seifer was dead and decided to go look for him. They brought new orders for Squall, though.

The group now needs to assassinate the sorceress, so they were joined by a sniper, Irvine, a new playable character. This one is a bit over the top, but all in all, one of the more stable individuals, by Square’s standards. I left the garden and trained some more, but soon I decided to just go to Deling City for the assassination.

Timber, all though named after the woods it used to be surrounded by, is an area revolving around trains. The base of the resistance group, for instance, is a train. The contact took the group there and I was told to go wake up “the princess”. She was in one of the rooms at the back and it turned out it was Rinoa, the girl Squall met at the party. She was actually there to recruit a team personally.

With her awake, the plan was explained. The Galbadian president is going for a train ride, so the resistance plans to abduct him, with some clever use of their base and track switching. For this, the president’s guards needed to be avoided and some codes needed to be entered in order to override the car couplings.

Final Fantasy VIII, Train

I love the train design of Final Fantasy VIII

In any case, the train part was done and I went to the president. It turns out he’s a fake, and a zombie at that, or at least his second form was. After drawing some Berserk and Zombie spells from him, I did what I do with all undead enemies in this series – killed him with one shot, by using a Phoenix Down on him. Back in VII, the undead boss was Gi Natak. Phoenix Downs also worked on him, but X-Potions were much more reliable.Even though it was all supposed to be really simple, I managed to fail once at the second uncoupling. At the second attempt, I managed with a lot of time to spare, but the failure probably affected my SeeD rank. SeeD rank? Well, this is the way you get money in this game. Your rank grows if you complete objectives fast enough or by solving tests in the menu. It drops if you take too long or fail at stuff. The higher the rank, the higher your salary, which you periodically get. Since the enemies don’t drop money, this is pretty much the only way to get Gil in this game.

The boss was dead and the mission was over. We got back to Timber, where the second part began. The Galbadian forces were preparing for a transmission via the Timber TV tower and we needed to get there.

Before this this, which I decided to do in my next session, I took some time at a save point to solve all the SeeD exams up to level 10. This is the highest I could go at my current character level.

The group was back at the Garden and, since the last mission was basically the final exam required to become a SeeD, the results were in soon. Squall, Zell and Selphie, as well as one other guy passed, while Seifer was disqualified for being a douche and making the team go to the tower. After the graduation, the group got back down to the second floor and fully expected for Seifer to be there and cause trouble, but he actually just applauded them along with everyone else.

With that out of the way, it was time for a party. This is where we meet the next character of the game, Rinoa. She pulls Squall to the dance floor, even though he sucks and somehow manages to turn him into an expert over the course of just one song. We don’t get her name here yet, though.

Quistis then approaches Squall and makes him go to some romantic spot at the training area. There, she says she won’t be an instructor anymore, so they’re both just SeeD now. Squall is his usual self, so they return, but on the way back, rescue a girl from some monsters. I have already seen the girl at the start, when Squall wakes up at the infirmary. Here, she refers to Squall and Quistis as if she knows them, calling Quistis “Quistie”. When she’s rescued, her bodyguards arrive and take her away before the I could talk to her. The game makes it very clear she’s somehow important.

Final Fantasy VIII, Balamb Garden Training Center

The training center of Balamb Garden 

Before all this, I took some time to draw new spells at the training area. The plants there have Sleep and Silence to draw, so I got 100 of each on both Quistis and Squall and junctioned sleep on Squall’s status attack. This could be very helpful later.

The next day, the group gets their first official mission as SeeD. This time, it’s to help a Timber resistance group to, again, fight Galbadia. Timber is a country that got occupied by Galbadia early in the war, unlike Dollet, which is still independent. I got to the town of Balamb and this time, took the transcontinental train to Timber. The train actually runs through an underwater tunnel, which is pretty cool.

During the train ride, something happened which keeps happening throughout the game. The party gets sleepy and blacks out, suddenly having a collective dream about Laguna, Ward and Kiros, three Galbadian soldiers back during the war. All of this gets explained later, but it’s actually happening and it isn’t just a dream.

The soldiers first do some running through a forest near Timber, I think, then get to a car and drive to Deling City. There, they go to a bar to listen to a singer who Laguna likes a lot. She approaches him so the two other guys step back. They go to her room and basically talk all night. That’s when the dream ends and the gang realizes they all dreamt it. Squall shows his funny side in this, saying he dreamt he was a moron.

During the sequence, I could finally try out my Card ability, having learned it during the boss battle at the training area. Basically, I need to weaken the opponents and then I can turn them into their respective card. I can only use it against monsters, though. Human enemies are off limits. If I win the battle this way, I get no experience, which is excellent, but I do get the AP, which is even more awesome. It’s safe to say, I got some training. I decided to get Boost on most of my GF next and then go for the item creation and junction abilities.

As I said, the group soon woke up and was at Timber. They met their contact and he took them to the resistance base.

I’m not sure if you know this, but if you want to be the strongest you can in Final Fantasy VIII, you need to do things counter intuitively. Leveling your characters means the monsters will level to, and they get a bigger boost with leveling than you do. Basically, you should only start leveling after your Guardian Forces learn the passive abilities which add stat bonuses on level up. This only happens later in the game, so you need to avoid battles as much as you can until you get to that point, or at least until you get the Card ability.

The Card ability turns an enemy into a card, which makes you not gain any experience after the battle, but you still get the AP. This is basically the most desirable scenario, since you continue to learn new abilities, while not making your enemies stronger.

Dollet was an issue with this, though, as will many parts of the game be, since you often get into forced battles. There are ways around this to, but you get to the point of diminishing returns eventually, so I wont be doing that. For now, I just run away from battles I can run away from and that’s about it.

Final Fantasy VIII, Dollet Square

The Main Square of Dollet

There are several forced battles against soldiers in Dollet, so the party did gain a level or two. Their job was to get to the central square and wait for incoming soldiers, but nothing was happening for a while. Eventually, a bunch of soldiers charged through the square towards a local communications tower, so Seifer took the team there, all the while being the douche he is.

Once near the tower, he charged alone and Selphie caught up with the party, so she replaced him as part of the team. At the top of the tower were two Galbadian soldiers, Biggs and Wedge, the recurring characters of this franchise. They are easy enough to deal with, but get replaced mid battle with another monster. This is the one you can draw the new GF, Siren from.

Once the battle was over, I junctioned Siren to Squall and started going back, with a 30 minute limit to do so. Ont he way back, the party gets attacked and chased by a robot. The idea is, you damage him enough int he battle to force him into recovery mode and then run away. Apparently, it’s also possible to kill him with high damaging attacks during recovery, but none of the spells or attacks I had available could do it. I guess I needed to grind some more or something.

Final Fantasy VIII, X-ATM092

I never managed or even really tried to beat the X-ATM092, though I know it’s possible.

In any case, once you reach the shore, Quistis handles the robot with the ships rail gun (or whatever kind of gun it is). Once I got back to Balamb, Seifer was his usual asshole, so he took the car and ditched the rest of the group, making them walk back home. I got back to the point where I was just about to enter the garden and saved my game. I have a horrible headache, so I’ll do more some other time.

Right now, my plan is to get as many spells to junction as possible and get my party overpowered. That wont be happening until I get “Card” on at least one of my characters, so I’m able to acquire AP without acquiring EXP. I’m getting there, but it will take another boss or two.