Final Fantasy VIII

From Before I Play
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  • The Guardian Force and Junction systems can be a bit confusing, so make sure to pay attention to the tutorials.
  • If you enjoy the card mini-game, you'll have an easier time with the main game as the cards you win can be refined into useful items and spells.
  • Enemies level up with you, meaning excessive EXP grinding is not recommended. AP which teaches your GFs different abilities always good though. Turning enemies into cards with Quezacotl's Card ability gives you AP but no EXP, and adds a card in your collection which can then be refined further.
  • You can use the config menu to set cursor to "Memory" in order to easily repeat your last action in battle - very useful for drawing loads of magic without selecting the command every turn.
  • The various Refine abilities are extremely useful as being able to convert your junk into magic or items is critical to an easier time. As an early example, the fish enemies you can encounter on the beach at the very beginning of the game drop Fish Fins which can be refined into 'Water' spells, useful for Junctioning into stats early on.
  • Limit Breaks are the simplest way to break the game as they can be used repeatedly for as long as a character is low on health. You can simply cycle through character turns until a Limit Break pops up over and over again.
  • Talk to Headmaster Cid at every opportunity. More than once he has an item to give you that you can't get anywhere else, and that he'll never give you again if you move forward with the plot (or even off the current screen) before speaking to him.
  • Late in the game when you have access to an airship, you can visit two hidden islands to the extreme east and extreme west called 'Island Closest to Hell' and 'Island Closest to Heaven' respectively. They each hold a number of valuable draw points and enemies which reward large amounts of XP and AP.

Drawing & Junctioning

  • The magic system involves drawing magic from enemies before you can use it. This may seem tedious at first, but you really only have to do it in the beginning. You can get most of your magic in the game from draw points, or from refining cards/items.
  • Draw effectiveness is governed by the Magic stat, so leave it to high-Magic characters or boost the stat by junctioning something to it beforehand.
  • Make absolutely sure to check what can be drawn from every boss. Many missable GFs can only be found by drawing them from specific bosses.
  • When junctioning, offense spells work best on offensive stats whereas defensive spells work best on defensive stats. Protect would give a far higher Vitality than Fira, for instance. The auto-junction can do a fairly decent job, but you'll want to adjust some things to fit.
  • In most cases your best spells will be saved for junctioning, but don't forget to make use of the ones not junctioned at the time. Eventually you'll run out of space for spells and will have to discard them anyway.