Final Fantasy VIII Part One: Heart of the Cards

Final Fantasy VIII

System: PlayStation 1

Developer: Square

Publisher: Square EA/Square Enix

Release: September 9th, 1999

January 24th, 2010: I’m in the last stretch of the game, but there were so many things I never completed, that I’ve yet to attempt the final dungeon.

I tried to get some last-minute upgrades so that my party was as prepared as possible to face Ultimecia. I tried to get everyone’s ultimate weapons and all of the Guardian Forces. Well, that was partially the reason, anyway. I also did these sidequests because I enjoyed the gameplay.

Upgrading weapons required gathering materials from various sources. You could get these materials from killing or mugging monsters, or by Modifying cards won in Triple Triad. FFVIII did a lot of things differently from other games in the series. The weapon system had a default weapon for each character. This weapon would be upgraded over time with various materials. This leads to fewer different weapons overall, because you couldn’t simply buy a new weapon to replace an old one.

Guardian Forces was the game’s way of heavily featuring summons in both the plot and the gameplay. This turned out to be something of a double-edged sword because the Forces had long and unskippable attack animations. Perhaps in recognition of this fact, the game let you mash the Square button (I see what you did there) to Boost the Force’s attack power at certain intervals. Mashing the button when an X appeared over it would cause your damage boost to sink back to the default 75 percent.

In later FF games, the animations for summons would be considerably shortened.

The Forces added a lot of depth to the gameplay, however. Every GF could learn abilities, or new stat boosts or commands for their master. However, each GF had a certain time period that it would take to respond to a summon. This was partially based on the Force’s compatibility with the character that they were equipped to. If a GF has zero compatibility with the character that summoned it, expect the summon to take a while to trigger. But if they have high compatibility, it would take less time for the GF to arrive. Compatibility could also be raised by using certain items on a GF.

The Forces acted as cover in a way. When they were being summoned, they would take hits to their own HP in lieu of the character that tried to summon them. If a GF got knocked out, their compatibility with their summoner would lower.

IIRC, compatibility with a GF could be raised by using magic that matched their element (i.e. fire magic with Ifrit).

The Forces also gained their own experience points.

I tried to get a Force Armlet, a rare item from a common enemy. I didn’t get it. I need it to craft the best weapon for Rinoa.

I want to play Triple Triad, the in-game collectible card game.

Triple Triad is a minigame that’s so good, it was defictionalized in Japan. It was also turned into a feature of the Final Fantasy Portal App.

It’s pretty simple. Battle commences on a three-by-three grid. Each player utilizes the five cards in their deck to do battle with each other. Each card has a number on each cardinal direction representing both their defense and offense. The basic goal is to have more of your opponent’s cards flipped over at the end of the match. Cards are flipped over by having one of your card’s sides having a higher value than an opponent’s on the opposite side. One is the lowest number, but instead of going from one to 10, a side’s value maxes out at the letter A. Certain rules affect how cards can flip each other, like Same and Plus.

TT can be played with almost ANY character in the game. There are 10 ranks of cards to earn. The highest-ranked cards feature the Forces as well as the most important characters in the game. Of course, the most difficult opponents to beat have the coolest and most powerful cards. There are also the rules to consider. Certain rules can spread throughout a region. The most dreaded is Random, which picks your cards at random from your collection. It is suggested that you avoid letting Random spread like a nasty card infection.

TT is so good that I sometimes get the urge to fire up VIII just to play it again.

January 25th, 2010: I won the Mini Mog card! It’s so cute!

There was an Instructor Aki in this game. Hm…

I wonder if the numbers and their positions on the TT cards are symbolic of anything.

I think the main problem with this game is its slow pace. It’s sloooooow.

I got my Force Armlet! And I only need one.

Next, I need two Energy Crystals. I wore myself out trying to get one from common enemies, so I tried to get one from a rarer enemy, but it didn’t give me one.

January 26th, 2010: One of my Guardian Forces, Diablos, had 6,666 HP at one point.

Diablos turned out to be my most-used GF because his summon attack did fractional gravity damage to enemies. This is a big help because enemies scale with your level in VIII, so the stronger you get, the stronger they get, in a sense. This is one of the reasons why some recommend doing a low-level run of VIII.

In the end, Diablos had the highest compatibility with Squall out of any other character or GF. XD

I finally got all of the materials for Rinoa’s ultimate weapon. Next, I think I’ll go after Selphie’s. I only need a single piece of Adamantine for that.

I never upgraded Selphie’s basic weapon even once until I got her ultimate one.

Rinoa’s new weapon looks really cool!

Looking for Adamantine was incredibly boring, so I decided Irvine’s ultimate weapon instead. Turns out I already had the materials!

Irvine’s ultimate weapon is MASSIVE!

Now, I’m going after Quistis’ UW.