Final Fantasy VIII Tips & Tricks: The Ultimate CollectionThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
It took a long time for Final Fantasy VIII to become Remastered with modern standards.
For a long time, it was stuck in the retro purgatory of either the 1999 PlayStation original – or the now-antiquated 2000 PC release.
It wasn’t until 2019 that the game was Remastered and made easily available to a whole new generation.
This means a lot of people will be experiencing the game for the first time. And it’s always helpful to have some help when starting something new.
So here are our recommended tips for Final Fantasy VIII, to help you get your adventure started right (or even to make an adventure already in progress that much better)!
10. Learn Mug As Soon As Possible
A few hours into the game, right before heading out on the first big stage of your journey, Squall’s party will be gifted a Magical Lamp.
Using this conspicuous item from the menu puts you into a battle with the Guardian Force Diabolos.
Defeating him puts him into your GF arsenal, and he teaches a very useful ability:
Mug is a normal attack that also steals, and is the only way to do so in Final Fantasy VIII.
Items are very important, serving purposes in just about every faucet of character progression and enemies always carry something.
If you learn Mug as soon as you can (and keep it equipped to Squall), you’ll have at least twice the amount of goods that you’d get otherwise during a typical playthrough.
And that equals a surplus of spells and abilities.
9. Keep Multiple Saves
Unlike back in 1999 on the PS1, with this remastered edition you have just about infinite save slots.
And you should use them.
Yes, the game auto-saves. But that’s only occasionally.
Keeping multiple saves helps if you forget to draw something from a boss, or want to rewatch a scene, or just want to play a part of the game again.
There’s a lot of stuff to see. And unfortunately there’s a lot of stuff to miss.
Keeping multiple saves from multiple times and places will eventually save you a big headache.
8. Weapons Can Be Made Without the Magazine
Throughout the game you’ll discover issues of Weapons Monthly.
These publications provide insight on the latest and greatest weapons of the world (which thankfully are also all used by your party members).
They tell you what items you’ll need to create said weapons, so you can then gather the goods.
Here’s a little tricky trick the game doesn’t tell you, though:
You don’t need the magazine.
They’re great for knowing, sure. But if you have all the required items, the weapon will show up in the weapon shop menu.
You can use this to your advantage to get better weapons very early, including Squall’s ultimate gunblade before the end of the first act.
7. Learn Refine Abilities First
When you get a new GF, it can be somewhat intimidating to look at the big list of abilities to learn – especially the ones that cost a lot of AP.
Your natural instinct will be to go for the Junction and Command abilities. And I get that!
But it is much more important to learn the utilitarian abilities first.
Everything else can wait.
Refine (RF) abilities allow you to turn things into other things.
Magic can be made into more powerful magic, and items can turn into other items, such as ammo and restoratives.
Most importantly, items can turn into magic – meaning all that junk you collect through your journey can be turned around into spells that let you get the edge in battle.
Every Guardian Force has a refinement ability.
And it’s always worth it to learn them first.
6. Don’t Forget about SeeD Tests!
Gil in Final Fantasy VIII is much more of a limited resource than its contemporaries.
Enemies no longer drop any, and selling goods doesn’t really become a decent source of the stuff until much later in the game when you have a lot of refinement and shop-price altering abilities.
So how does a fresh-faced SeeD pay the rent?
Through their SeeD paycheck!
Determined by the number of steps you’ve taken (the formula is randomized), you’ll get paid intermittently as you travel about.
The amount you get paid depends on your SeeD rank.
And while there are other ways to raise this, the most reliable way is through written exams.
The TEST option is buried in the menus, hidden in the ‘Tutorial’ section.
Once there, you’re given a 10-question quiz on various game mechanics.
Every time you pass a test, you go up a rank and get paid better.
The game only mentions this test once and never again, so it’s important that you keep it in mind and pass a few whenever you have the time (and patience).
5. Different Magic Junction Differently
One of the key bits of Final Fantasy VIII that I see a lot of people overlook is that magic has vastly different stat boosts when junctioning.
This is especially prevalent early in the game when you have to ‘settle’ with your junctions because of your limited amount of magic.
And this mentality lasts to even when you have plenty of the stuff.
Curative magics will always be better for HP junctioning, and status-affecting magics are always better for stuff like Speed and Spirit.
It’s important to always keep these preferences in mind as you adventure, and to periodically take the time to adjust your junctions accordingly – or to even take some time to make magic that would be a better fit.
4. Cards Can Get Just About Everything
After learning the Card ability with the GF Quetzalcoatl, the Card Mod ability becomes available.
This simple refine ability is one of the most important in the game.
Card Mod lets you turn the Triple Trial cards you collect into items and magic, a lot of which are rare and valuable.
It’s always worth checking what your excess cards can get you – or even going out to play for uncommon cards to get the stuff you need.
And if you totally want to break the game, Card Mod can do that for you too!
It’s possible to get over 5000 HP before even heading for Timber.
Getting Squall’s ultimate weapon or spells usually reserved for endgame is easy as pie if you take advantage of your cards and what they can be modded into (lots of guides online if you’re after something specific).
3. Remember the Point of No Return
There’s a point in the game where the world drastically changes, and a lot of locations, items, and side quests become unavailable.
Back in 1999 this point was a lot easier to discern, because it was the end of disc 3 and into the entirety of disc 4.
In the modern age there’s no disc switching.
So you have to just ‘know’ when the point is, and be careful not to cross it until you’re ready.
The point of no return is the Lunatic Pandora.
And if that doesn’t make sense to you – good.
Just keep it in mind so when it does make sense, you know that you should stop your story progress and explore the world as much as you can.
It’s very disappointing to realize that you’ve crossed the threshold without knowing it, and seeing you’re locked out of everything.
2. Always Have Draw
The Draw command is one of the fundamental Command Abilities.
It allows the user to draw magic (and sometimes other stuff) from enemies in battle.
It’s important to keep this command on at least one party member so you can’t ever miss out on new and potentially powerful magic.
And if you can, keep Draw on the party member with the highest magic stat.
That way you get the most stock from every draw.
A fair number of bosses also have Guardian Forces in their draw lists, and it’s a major bummer to miss out on those just because nobody in the team can get access to it.
1. The Difficulty is Up to You
Final Fantasy VIII is widely considered to be one of the easiest games in the series.
This is due to the nature of its most fundamental mechanic: the junction system.
It’s possible to make the game a trivial ‘press X to win’ experience within the first few hours.
Even without going out of your way, just keeping up on magic and weapons keeps the game at a low level of frustration.
But what a lot of people overlook is that the junction system and its inherent flaws is that while it can make the game stupid easy, it can also make it stupidly hard.
This discrepancy between the two difficulties (and the space between) ultimately means that you decide how difficult an experience you want.
You want it easy? Get Lionheart early and 100 Curagas for your HP.
Want it hard? Don’t junction at all!
Your experience is (more or less) very much in your control.