The eighth entry into the finger-flayingly popularFinal Fantasy series. Originally released on PlayStation and home computer, and ported to the Play Station Network for the PlayStation 3, PSP, and Playstation Vita.Squall Leonhart is a student at an Elaborate University High for mercenaries named Balamb Garden. The organisation that runs Balamb Garden, SeeD, takes in prepubescent orphans and trains them to become soldiers, requiring them to graduate before their twentieth birthday.Squall is the epitome of a professional soldier: detached, efficient, and unflappable. He is also a sardonic Jerkass and introvert who shuns the friendship of others, as if he learned long ago never to depend on anyone. During his first mission as a SeeD, he is sent to aid a resistance movement against the occupying Galbadian Army and meets his opposite: Rinoa Heartilly, an outgoing, positive young woman naive to the realities of battle. The SeeDs' clandestine war heats to a boil with the emergence of Sorceress Edea, a mysterious figurehead who seems to be calling the shots in Galbadia these days...Final Fantasy VIII deals with the conflict between childhood and adulthood, and examines the consequences of being forced to "grow up". The main characters are teenage orphans trained as soldiers from a young age and taught to suppress their emotions and free will for the sake of the mission, with deeply mixed results. The "save the world" story is a Framing Device for a journey of self-discovery between the main characters.Naturally, the fandom either loved it or hated it. The hyper-success of Final Fantasy VII meant that VIIIhad impossible expectations to live up to. The two opposing camps over the game's quality are just as vocal today as they were when the game was first released.Ironically, VIII followed in its predecessor's footsteps for the most part, mixing swords and sorcery with a late-'80s Cyber Punk vibe (sans Fantasy Gun Control). This was also Square's first try at shaking up the bog standard JRPG model: For one, it's the first Final Fantasy to forgo a Mana Meter in favor of Vancian Magic. Monsters use Level Scaling to beef up relative to the party average, making it entirely possible to level up to Lv.100 before the first boss and still have it pose a challenge. More infamously, characters now equip (or "junction") magic to their bodies instead of armour. Any spell in the game can be junctioned, including the summoned creatures. A single paltry Cure won't make much of a difference, however; players increase the effectiveness by sapping and stockpiling magic from enemies. While admittedly a bold step forward for the genre, it just substituted one form of grinding for another, while making the level system even more obligatory. Later Final Fanasy games smoothed out the "no armor" approach, most notably X and XIII.Finally, VIII replaced the previous game's Gold Saucer with Triple Triad, a surprisingly in-depth (and murderously difficult) Card Battle Game featuring face cards of the main cast. Though optional, mastering Triple Triad allows you to transform rare cards into game-breaking items and weapon components. It was so popular that a (less well-received) Spiritual Successor called Tetra Master was included in Final Fantasy IX and XI.Prior to 1999, Squaresoft's localizations were carried out after the game's completion, which usually resulted in either a "Blind Idiot" Translation or one replete with Woolseyisms. Starting with this game, Square took this process a lot more seriously: the company hired translators to work alongside the Japanese development team as the game was being created; this is now pretty much standard procedure for Final Fantasy translations.
Action Girl: Selphie and Quistis. Rinoa tries, but is undermined by a series of Distressed Damsel moments until she eventually becomes the strongest of the three after becoming a sorceress.
Action Prologue / Fake Action Prologue: The opening scene in which Squall and Seifer are dueling could qualify as either one. To a new player, it may look like an epic fight between the hero and villain or an In Medias Res of an epic fight that will occur later, but then it turns out that it was a sparring match gone out of hand.
All in a Row: Earlier games only showed one character at a time. This was the first title to show the entire party walking around together.
All There Is To Know About The Crying Game: It is quite impossible to not know that Rinoa is a Sorceress due to the sheer amount of references available everywhere. On a similar note, Edea being Ultimecia due to Late Arrival Spoiler is another outcome, but this has notably shown how omnipresent Ultimecia really is throughout the game.
Anti-Hero: Squall. He doesn't believe in good or evil and rarely if ever seems concerned with "right" or "wrong," instead staying involved in the game's plot because he is hired to do so and, later in the game, to protect Rinoa and because he is made to believe that it's his fate.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Right before the Battle of the Gardens, Squall is given a choice of orders to issue to the students in Balamb Garden involving their battle strategy and defense, but there's also an order of what to do with the hot dogs.
Artificial Gravity: Esthar Lunar Base and the Ragnarok. The latter has a scene where it's turned off, causing Rinoa to float.
Ascended Fanboy: The Ultimania guide reveals that Seifer's dream of becoming a sorceress's knight was influenced by seeing the movie in which Laguna played a knight, and that he based his gunblade stance on the one Laguna used during the film.
Asskicking Equals Authority: Cid steps down as Headmaster and promotes Squall to Commander of SeeD specifically in order to change Garden from a school to an active fighting force against the sorceress. The decision is undoubtedly helped along by the fact that Cid already knows, courtesy of Edea, that Squall is going to defeat Ultimecia in the future.
Asshole Victim: Vinzer Deling at the parade in Deling City. Nobody felt sorry for him when Edea impaled him, even if she was worse than him. She cast Charm Person on the crowds, so they don't mind it one bit either.
Atlantis: The Centra civilization is Atlantis in all but name.
Author Appeal: Nomura admitted he flat out wanted to include a character in a skirt, heavily inspiring Selphie's design. In addition, Edea and Ultemecia were heavily designed to be a Shout Out to Yoshitaka Amano's artstyle.
Badass: Every player character, especially if you know how to play the system.
Badass Army: The SeeDs. In one day, Squall duels his rival, kicks the crap out of a Guardian Force, destroys two horrible mutant abominations, storms a beach D-Day style, fights an amphibious/urban battle, and escapes from a nigh-unkillable spider robot (or kills it for extra credit), and no one considers this strange or unusual. For SeeD, this is just an example of a final exam for them, which qualifies them to be SeeD soldiers. No wonder they've got such a crazy reputation. Admittedly, Squall in particular is considered Badass by the Badass Army, even at that point in the story.
Badass Biker: Galbadia's army includes motorcycle troops, using their mobility to race around the battlefield...
Badass Bystander: ... only for one of the bikers to get clotheslined by a Balamb Garden student swinging a sword.
Batman Gambit: The heroes actually use this on Ultimecia, although Ultimecia had gotten them with one earlier. Possessing Rinoa and putting her into a coma so that she could go into space and free the most powerful sorceress in the world... Nobody could see it coming.
Because Destiny Says So: Cid promotes Squall to Commander of SeeD based on Edea's foreknowledge of Squall's role in defeating Ultimecia. Squall in turn tells the other SeeDs at Balamb Garden that it is their destiny to fight the sorceress, and tells the past Edea that she will found SeeD for that purpose. The Stable Time Loop means that there's a lot of Because Destiny Says So running around the plot; Ultimecia, possessing Edea, also identifies Squall as "the legendary SeeD destined to face me".
Beehive Barrier: Balamb Garden gets one during the scene where it becomes mobile. However, it doesn't actually act as a force field. It's just part of the sequence that occurs while the Garden begins moving.
Not to mention the entire "Great Wall of Esthar".
Beneath the Mask: Squall, whose Jerkass Façade is a mask he developed as a child to deal with the pain of losing his "sister" Ellone. If you look at his entire persona, it's very much like how a child would think a "tough adult" would act, and beneath it he's insecure and emotionally immature, as well as more caring than he likes to let on.
Beware the Nice Ones: Selphie. As revenge for launching missiles at her old Garden, she decides to blow up Galbadia's weapon base while on a mission with a smile. Even before that, her casual suggestions for dealing with various situations will inevitably gravitate towards the most violent options imaginable, to the shock of her teammates. In particular, on her very first mission, she suggests blowing up the President's train with a rocket launcher. While in D-District Prison, she suggests skinning a moomba to wear its fur as a disguise. Mechanics wise, she has not one but two One-Hit Kill spells in her Limit Break: "Rapture," which one-hit-KO's every non-boss enemy, and "The End," which can one-shot anything up to the Final Boss if you're lucky enough to roll it up.
BFG: The gun on the vessel that Quistis uses at Dollet.
BFS: They're not the Buster Sword, but the Gunblades are pretty large, particularly the Twin Lance, Punishment, and Lionheart models. There is also Odin's Zantetsuken.
BGM Override: For the opening FMVs of the Dollet Field Exam, "The Landing" plays and continues to play during random encounters for the first portion.
During part of the escape from D-District Prison, "Never Look Back" plays and keeps playing during the random encounters.
Bishounen: In a series chock-full of handsome leads, FFVIII takes the cake. With the possible exceptions of Cid and Fujin, each of the male lead are depicted with clean-shaven faces and feminine necklines.
Blocking Stops All Damage: The unique defend command negates all physical damage and half of the magical. Considering it's a GF ability, it can be considered partly magical, but seeing the Bonus Boss do no damage with its most powerful attack it's still pretty striking.
Blow You Away: Fujin. Also, the Pandemona GF (which is drawn from Fujin).
Bait-and-Switch Boss / Trick Boss: Biggs and Wedge on the Dollet Communications Tower. They're blown away (literally by wind) and replaced by the much stronger Elvoret.
Bonus Boss: Omega and Ultima Weapon. Also, the various GFs that you have to fight and defeat before obtaining.
Boss Banter: Several bosses talk to the party during the fight; Edea, Seifer, NORG, Fujin and Raijin, Biggs and Wedge, Fake President Deling.
In a subversion, Ultimecia starts to talk right before the fight is over.
Boss Bonanza: The game had a last dungeon full of semi-optional bosses who need to be defeated to unlock abilities for the final battles.
Boss in Mook Clothing: T-Rexaur. Tonberry. Malboro. Elnoyle looks like the second boss in the game, but it's much, MUCH worse. Also, Ruby Dragon.
The game actually has two areas filled with nothing but bosses in mook's clothing called the Island Closest to Heaven and the Island Closest to Hell.
Contractual Boss Immunity: A rare subversion with Selphie's "The End" limit break, which, if pulled off successfully, can One-Hit Kill any boss in the game except the Final Boss (and then it's only because it's a four-stage fight; The End will still knock out one of the stages for you instantly). However, it's played straight with other attacks, such as Quistis's "Degenerator" limit break or the Level 5 death spell.
There's actually a notable example with Odin, who will randomly appear during non-boss battles and use a One-Hit Kill attack to destroy whoever you're fighting. When fighting Seifer for the fourth time, Odin will appear and use his One-Hit Kill attack, but Seifer blocks it and destroys Odin. However, this causes Gilgamesh to appear later in the battle and use his One-Hit Kill attack to defeat Seifer.
Cowardly Boss / Get Back Here Boss: Sacred in the Tomb of the Unknown King, who runs away after your first optional fight with him. The player then has another optional fight with him again along with his brother, Minotaur.
Jumbo Cactuar can run away while the player is fighting it, requiring the player to have to fight it all over again, which is not fun. It will do so if it's brought down to less than 2% of its hit points.
Cutscene Boss: X-ATM092. If the player doesn't destroy it by bringing all of its hit points to zero — which most don't due to either the time limit, the amount of Level Grinding required, or just the sheer repetition of having to fight it numerous times — then Quistis will destroy it in an FMV.
Degraded Boss: Granaldo and its Raldo backup. Inverted with Elvoret being a boss, but Elnoyle being a palette-swapped copy monster who is about 10 times as powerful by comparison.
Dual Boss: The Iguions, Fujin and Raijin, Biggs and Wedge, Sacred and Minotaur, Vysage with Lefty and Righty.
Duel Boss: In the first boss fight against Seifer, Squall fights him alone.
Final Boss, New Dimension: The climactic battle against Ultimecia begins in her throne room, but grows increasingly chaotic as Time Compression proceeds; the last stage occurs in a nearly-featureless void.
One-Winged Angel: Ultimecia goes through several of these. Also, the Fake President Deling has this when he transforms into Gerogero.
Puzzle Boss: The Propagators on the Ragnarok. Also, Odin. Before you fight him, you have to complete the Centra Ruins puzzle quickly enough to get to him and beat him.
Recurring Boss: Several. Biggs and Wedge have to be fought twice. Seifer has to be fought four times. Edea has to be fought twice. Raijin has to be fought three times. Fujin has to be fought twice. Sacred has two optional fights. BGH251F2 has to be fought twice.
The fight against Biggs and Wedge goes straight into the fight against Elvoret without the battle sequence ending.
The first fight against Seifer in Deling City goes straight into the first fight against Edea, but with a scene in between.
The first fight against Raijin in Balamb goes straight into the next boss fight against both Fujin and Raijin, but with a scene in between.
The third fight against Seifer goes straight into the second fight against Edea without the battle sequence ending.
All eight of the Propagators on the Ragnarok. They don't have to be fought one after the other, but they are all in the same area, and there's really nothing else to do since the player is stuck on the spaceship until the Propagators are cleared out.
The several fights against sorceresses while entering the time compressed world have to be fought one after the other without the battle sequence ending.
After defeating the necessary number of Tonberries, the Tonberry King appears right after the last one, without the battle sequence ending.
The boss fight against Vysage, Lefty, and Righty goes straight into the fight against Gargantuan without the battle sequence ending.
All four of Ultimecia's forms must be fought one after the other with no breaks or scenes in between.
Skippable Boss: All eight of the bosses in Ultimecia's Castle do not have to be fought. However, since you have to beat them to unlock your abilities before fighting Ultimecia, skipping them is not recommended.
Time Limit Boss: Ifrit in the Fire Cavern, X-ATM092 in Dollet, BGH251F2 in the Galbadia Missile Base, Odin in the Centra Ruins.
Zero-Effort Boss: The first fight against Edea. If she reduces the party's hit points too low, the battle ends, and the game goes into the following cut scene. The player just won't get any AP, which they will if they defeat her.
Having Odin makes Seifer's last fight this. You can wait, see Odin be killed, wait, and see Gilgamesh beat Seifer without taking any action.
Bottomless Magazines: Irvine's shotguns actually do have consumable ammo, but it is only used for his limit break. His firing animation with his shotgun shows him quickly loading the barrels while entering the "ready" stance. Laguna's machinegun can be used indefinitely without the need to reload.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Seifer, although it is debatable as to how much of it was due to that and how much of it was his willingness to serve Edea (who in turn was possessed by the main villainess, Ultimecia). Certainly given some of the comments, he seems to fit this trope more towards the end when Ultimecia admits that she is using him.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Unique to the French version of the game, but characters say things like "This is a video game, not a fairy tale", "she's gonna hold me there for the whole game" (in a transparent thought panel), or "I won't say anything until the end of the game" (and here, it's Ward saying this out loud to Laguna) pretty often.
Brick Joke: Interacting with the structure inside Centra Excavation Site during Laguna's second dream sequence in Disc 1 will unlock passageways to rare items while you infiltrate Lunatic Pandora in Disc 3.
Irvine pretends to be a cool loner, then a nervous flake, in an awkward attempt to hide the fact that he remembers his childhood at the orphanage and recognizes all his old friends (and their "Matron", Edea), while none of them remember him. When they finally remember, he reveals that he didn't say anything because he was embarrassed about being so utterly forgotten.
The same goes for Squall's feelings towards Rinoa. This is because for the majority of the game, he's simply not emotionally mature enough to understand his feelings towards her, or how to reciprocate.
Rinoa addresses this when the team is at Trabia Garden. She tells Squall that he has to voice his feelings or she won't understand.
Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them: Squall spends the first two discs of the game grimly resisting Rinoa's efforts to get him to open up to her, but gradually giving way. When she falls into a coma at the end of disc two, however, he realizes how much he doesn't want to lose her, and she becomes his main priority.
Catch Phrase: Selphie tries to get "Booyaka!" to catch on among the students. It doesn't work. Squall's may as well be "Whatever", especially in the English version which altered some of his dialogue to add this as much as possible.
Tetsuya Nomura mentioned in an interview about The Bouncer that Squall was inspired by River Phoenix and "Nobody understood it". Though, many series fans have also noted a resemblance to idol singer Gackt. The fact that Gackt has cosplayed Squall and Tetsuya Nomura's obsession with him appeared in multiple games only makes the resemblance even easier to notice.
It may just be the late 90's graphics, but it is just plain creepy how much Vinzer Deling looks like George W. Bush (completely by accident, after all, Bush wasn't President yet, but creepy nonetheless).
Charm Person: Visiting Deling City during the second disc and talking to the citizens will reveal that when they saw Edea speaking to them before she killed the president, they all felt incredibly loyal to her and are willing to do whatever she wanted them to. It's never addressed why her magic didn't work on the protagonists.
Chekhov's Armoury: The Information menu, as well as numerous little things mentioned at the start of the game. Hints as to the Guardian Forces causing memory loss come as early as the terminals accessible at the very beginning of the game.
A little (not-so-)honorable mention was used by the Big Bad against the player: Squall's ring, named by the player partway through the game, is Ultimecia's inspiration for her sort-of dragon, Griever.
Chekhov's Gunman: The girl who appears at the beginning of the game in the infirmary and later appears again in the Training Center.
Child Soldiers: SeeD is made up almost entirely of them. The oldest member of the the party proper is Quistis, who's 18. The whole game is a savage Deconstruction of the concept, showing just how screwed-up soldiers of such a young age should be.
Seifer and Squall seem to suffer the most due to this in game, probably justified by the fact they've possibly been training to kill whoever they're paid to since the ages of 6 and 5, respectively.
The propagators on the Ragnarok appear in color-matched pairs, and if both of a given colored pair aren't killed one immediately after the other, the remaining one will revive the defeated one. It's eventually possible to simply wear them down and kill them normally — and is a good way to grind AP for a low-level game — but only after killing them thirty-six times.
Coming of Age Story: A theme of the story is how the main characters think they're mature and adult, but quickly prove otherwise; Squall and Rinoa mature visibly over the course of the story.
Disc 2-3: Just as our heroes think they've beaten Sorceress Edea another time, she snaps out of it, reverting to Matron Edea Kramer... but Rinoa has inexplicably gone into a coma...
Disc 3-4: Just as our heroes think they've beaten Seifer for the last time,he kidnaps Rinoa and hands her to Adel on a silver platter.
Competence Zone: Completely torn to shreds. At first, the game seems to fall in line with most Eastern RPGs by setting the Competence Zone under the age of eighteen. Unfortunately, most of the non-global conflict is caused by the young average age of the main characters, as they are too emotionally immature to deal with the events of the story in a sensible, adult way.
Conditioned To Accept Horror: Squall, Selphie, and Zell are completely up-front about their willingness, as SeeDs, to follow their client's orders no matter how little chance they have of succeeding or how likely they are to get killed as a result. Rinoa is shocked and upset by this attitude, and Squall is in turn confused and frustrated by her reaction — he thinks they're simply being professional.
Conspicuously Public Assassination: Edea's killing of Vinzer Deling in front of a huge crowd, who continues to cheer as if nothing odd is going on. Justified, as she had cast a charm spell on the crowd.
Cool Sword: Squall and Seifer use gunblade swords as their weapon of choice.
Cool Train: Trains are the primary way of getting around cross-country for most of the average citizens of the game world, and they're usually pretty neat, but Doomtrain takes the grand prize -a not only for design (which is an obvious throwback to the Phantom Train in Final Fantasy VI), but for his summon sequence and the fact that he slaps the target with just about every status effect in the game, making him one of the most consistently useful Guardian Forces.
Cowardly Lion: Watts and Zone know how to avoid doing work. However, Watts is very good at gathering information very quickly, and Zone saves the day by giving Quistis his own train ticket out of Timber.
Crazy Enough to Work: Laguna's plan to defeat Ultimecia is to let her start Time Compression, then have Ellone abruptly "disconnect" her to half the process, while Squall and the party use The Power of Friendship to navigate their way through the time stream and make it to Ultimecia's Castle so they can kill her, and they'll return to the present when the timeline is set right. It works.
Deconstruction: Oh so much. Consider for example, how Squall is so utterly broken compared to your typical teenage-orphan Eastern RPG protagonist, precisely because he's a teenage-orphan Eastern RPG protagonist.
The GFs; Ifrit, Diablos, Brothers, Cerberus, Bahamut, Cactuar, Tonberry, and Odin, who offer you their powers after defeating them.
Determinator: Squall gradually develops into one of these, and by the third disc of the game, he engages in what nearly turns out to be a suicidal determination to bring Rinoa back after she goes comatose.
Cid: "You will be passing through a real battlefield. Obviously, the battles will be for real." (later) Squall: "Thanks to you, I feel like I can take on anyone, even if they fight dirty like you." Seifer: "You'll thank me when the time comes."
Deus ex Machina: The Ragnarok conveniently floats by as Squall and Rinoa are drifting in space. It's revealed later that it was used to launch Adel's tomb and thus was abandoned in the same area of space. However, its timing and placement is still incredibly convenient.
Didn't Think This Through: Squall gets into a space suit and leaves the Escape Pod to escue Rinoa, who's floating out in space. Even though he succeeds, they're both stuck out in the middle of space, low on oxygen, and with no way to get back to the Planet. Fortunately, Deus ex Machina saves the day.
Distressed Damsel: Rinoa requires rescuing several times over the course of the game, and is unplayable for almost all of the third disc thanks to being variously comatose, possessed by Ultimecia, or imprisoned by Esthar. This makes her a Damsel Scrappy to many players, at least until she Takes A Level In Badass by becoming a sorceress. Even then, she still gets taken captive by Seifer, later to be held hostage by Adel, but of course, he was holding her at weapon-point.
Divide by Zero: In essence, this is Ultimecia's plan and the effects of Time Compression.
The Dragon: Seifer, first to Edea and then to Ultimecia. Also, Edea is at first, briefly, the Dragon to Vinzer Deling, but she then becomes;
Dragon-in-Chief: Edea. After killing Vinzer Deling, she takes over as leader of Galbadia.
Dream Sequence: Squall has several of these showing him as a child talking about his missing "Sis."
Dressing as the Enemy: Done in the Galdbadia Missile Base mission. Also, Watts is seen in Timber dressed as a Galbadian soldier.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: One can be seen briefly in a hallway in Galbadia Garden making students do push ups, one of whom is Zell if he's not in your party.
Dub-Induced Plot Hole: A minor example — in the beginning of the game, Zell continually tries (and fails) to get his Trademark Favorite Food from the Balamb Garden cafeteria. What his favorite food actually is, however, depends on what translation of the game you're playing (in English, it's hot dogs; in French, it's bretzels, which are similar to hot dogs; etc). Much later, during the Dance Party Ending, Zell is seen stuffing his face with a pile of what looks like dinner rolls. This is actually the punchline to a Brick Joke — in the original Japanese script, Zell's favorite food is a particular kind of bread. He finally got his hands on some!
It still sort of works in the English version, as the dinner rolls look like hotdog rolls which would, presumably, contain hotdogs therein.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: This is an RPG, so of course, you're not too important to run people's errands like finding pieces of a vase or gathering rocks to make a statue. Squall lampshades this during the Timber Mission when the Forest Owls ask him to go wake up Rinoa.
Squall: Were we hired to run errands? Well?
Zone: A-Are you angry?
Selphie: You tell 'em, Squall. They can't treat us that way.
The Dulcinea Effect: Inverted. Irvine appears to be invoking this on the train to Deling City, when he's telling Selphie they're destined to be together when they just met a few minutes earlier at Galbadia Garden. However, the orphanage flashback reveals that he has known her a lot longer.
Dummied Out: Originally, Selphie was supposed to have two more Limit Break spells which apparently were never programmed in. The spells were Percent which cuts all enemies' current HP by 93.75% and Catastrophe which is more powerful than the ultimate spell, Apocalypse. They both can be accessed with a Gameshark.
Another example is an entire mini-game mode for the Pocket Station, which never made it out of Japan. Said mode is still referenced in the English release and manual, probably because the decision not to release the hardware hadn't been made yet. It is possible to play with an imported Pocket Station from Japan. The mini-game could be used to get many useful items, guardian forces, and of course, 100% Completion. However, the PC version had this mini-game as a separate program.
Final Boss, New Dimension: The ruined future controlled by Ultimecia, accessible through Time Compression. The distortion hasn't been fully-realized yet, which allows Squall's party to cross back and forth from the main overworld.
Locomotive Level: A daring mission to detach President Deling's passenger car and attach it to a SeeD-controlled train.
Dungeon Town: Probably the most prominent example of this trope in a video game, you engage in combat in every town in the game except for the Hidden Elf Village where the Shumi reside. You fight in Arcadia. You fight in what will become your Global Airship (both of them.) You are even forced to kick ass in the "completely safe" Crystal Spires and TogasUtopia once the skies turn red and demonic forces are literally poured on top of the town.
Dynamic Entry: In the D-District Prison, Squall saves Zell by leaping a half a dozen stories onto a prison guard about to shoot him.
Easing Into The Adventure: Before taking the Fire Cavern Exam and the Dollet Field Exam, Squall is shown in class, and the player has the option of giving Selphie a tour and/or wandering around Garden on their own for a while.
Everyone Can See It: Squall and Rinoa. By halfway through the game, even Squall can see that everyone can see it, but it takes him a little longer to really reach an epiphany himself.
Everyone Is Related: Most of the cast comes from the same orphanage, which makes sense, considering the Gardens were founded by the owners of said orphanage, Cid and Edea. Even Rinoa, the character with the least number of connections to the rest of the party, is still tied to them because she used to date Seifer before the game began.
Not only that, but Laguna was in love with Rinoa's mother before he disappeared to Winhill and before she married General Caraway, adding a further connection between them.
In the film sequence, Laguna plays a sorceress's knight and uses his gunblade the way Seifer does as an adult. Seifer saw the film as a kid and copied Laguna's fighting style, while the film itself inspired his dream to be a sorceress knight.
Everything's Better with Princesses: Rinoa is not a princess, but the resistance calls her that as a nickname, most likely because she's the daughter of the military commander of the occupying state and because she acts like she thinks she's one in the early parts of the game.
Fake Skill: Selphie's limit break scrolls through random skills, including 'The End', which instantly destroys all creatures. It worked on bosses. An easy abuse of this skill was to open the top of the playstation which puts the game into a pause like loop where you can keep scrolling through her skills until you get 'The End'.
Force Field: Edea uses one to block the incoming bullet from Irvine's rifle.
Foregone Conclusion: Squall and Rinoa are embracing in the game's logo. The game is billed as a romance. If you are surprised that Squall and Rinoa become a couple in the course of this game, then you're just going to flip out when you find out who Superman is...
The first two discs of the game are packed with foreshadowing regarding the latter half's big revelations, well before the player has any of the context in which it's relevant. Notable examples include Edea's New Era Speech at the end of disc one, early and easily-missed discussion regarding the significance of sorceresses in general and Adel in particular, a note in the study panel regarding memory loss as a possible but as-yet-unproven side effect of Guardian Force use, and almost everything out of Cid and Irvine's mouths. None of this makes any sense until disc 3, by which point the player has probably forgotten about it.
Funetik Aksent: Ultimecia replaces all C's with K's... except for her final line as she dies. She never has it while possessing Edea, Adel, or Rinoa, either.
She doesn't speak like this in Dissidia: Final Fantasy either, where she suddenly gains a more coherent speaking style. This is likely because Dissidia used a different translator and was written ten years after the original game.
She doesn't speak like this in the Spanish translation either.
Dr. Odine as well: "Do you vant to take zis outside?! Do you vant to fisticuffs?!"
Gameplay and Story Segregation: This is an RPG, after all. However, there are a few exceptions. The classroom control panels indicate rules regarding use of magic in school, and at one point Squall is given the option of demonstrating a spell for a student. If he does, a Balamb Garden staff member appears and yells at him, and the player's SeeD rank is lowered. Also when Selphie attempts to cast Cure while under the influence of an Anti-magic barrier.
Gatling Good: Qustis thinks so as evidenced by the gun on the vessel that she uses at Dollet.
Gender Is No Object: Male and female Garden students and SeeDs live, train, and fight together, and no one mentions anything about it. Also, both Galbadia and Esthar are shown having both a male and a female leader. The only time in the whole game that any gender differences are brought up is in a blink-and-you'll-miss it-comment by Raijin during the boss fights against him, in which he says "I don't hit girls, ya know", and only if he KO's your male characters and there is a female character remaining standing.
Generation Xerox: Squall's father is implied to be Laguna. Laguna's first love, Julia Heartilly, later married General Carraway and became Rinoa's mother. Seventeen years later, Squall and Rinoa meet and fall in love.
Get On The Boat: The Garden students take landing vessels to get to Dollet on another continent and to get back to Balamb. Additionally, once Balamb Garden becomes mobile, it's needed to progress from point to point in the game for most of Disc 2 and Disc 3.
Giant Hands of Doom: Vysage, Lefty, and Righty. They also form the first stage of a boss (the rest of his body rises out of the ground once you defeat them) in Ultimecia's castle.
Girlish Pigtails: The aptly named "Library Girl With a Pigtail" in Balamb Garden.
Glamorous Wartime Singer: Julia Heartilly, though she's more of a Glamorous Wartime Pianist during her single appearance in the game. She later goes on to write and perform (in-story) the song "Eyes on Me," which we don't hear as a full vocal performance until disc 3, although the tune recurs several times in the game's instrumentals starting with the waltz Squall and Rinoa dance to at the graduation ball.
Grave Marking Scene: During the visit to Trabia Garden, there is a cemetery for the students killed in the missile attack with other students visiting and paying their respects. Also, at the end of the end of the game we see a flashback to Raine's proposal to Laguna. When we return to the present, Laguna is visiting her grave.
Guide Dang It: Finding the White SeeD Ship on your first playthrough without a guide can be a bit of a hair puller. The only clue you're given is that it's located in the Centra continent, which is quite large, the smaller waters are very difficult to navigate through in the Garden, and the ship itself is quite well hidden by the geography, so you may miss it if the camera isn't facing the right direction.
Also, when you're supposed to head to Esthar for the first time, more than one gamer flew around in the Garden endlessly, trying to reach the Esthar continent before finally realizing that you were supposed to pilot the Garden into Fisherman's Horizon, then, when it automatically cuts to inside the Garden, go to the infirmary.
The Tonberry King GF. There are very few clues in the game that it even exists, let alone how to get it.
The entire Shumi sidequest in Fisherman's Horizon. Try finding the ladder to the old fisherman without knowing it's there.
It's stated that after you hit Time Compression, you will not be able to access any towns or characters. But you still have access to your Global Airship... where a number of NPCs have inexplicably set up shop. And the only way to reach your airship is a wildly circuitous Chocobo ride. How many people figured this out without being told it beforehand?
Halfway Plot Switch: As is typical for the Final Fantasy series. The game has a very, very clear line in its plot where the focus shifts completely. The first two discs of the game consist of Squall and the forces of SeeD battling Edea and Seifer as they use the country of Galbadia to try and conquer the world. The very first event after Disc 2 is The Reveal that Edea was just Brainwashed and Crazy, and the real antagonist is Ultmecia, a Sorceress in the future who wants to destroy the entire space-time continuum. That's in terms of the overarcing plot — otherwise, focus from this point shifts to Squall searching for a way to get the comatose Rinoa back to normal.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Probably the first in the series where you are not allowed to name all of the player characters; you are allowed to name all of your Guardian Forces and Rinoa's dog. The only two player characters you are allowed to name are Squall and Rinoa, just in the case the game didn't make it obvious enough who the two lead roles were.
Hufflepuff House: Trabia Garden; the only real information we have on it being that Selphie went there before transfering to Balamb Garden and its eventual destruction.
Hulk Speak: Fujin only speaks in one- or two-word sentences, at maximum volume. In the Japanese version, she spoke solely in Kanji, leading to more of a Funny Foreigner style as all-Kanji lines look similar to Chinese. Notably, near the end of the third disc, Fuujin drops this speaking style to try and talk sense into Seifer.
Human Shield: Adel uses Rinoa as one during the boss fight against her on Disc 4. If Rinoa dies, it's game over, which requires the party to keep her healed, as Adel absorbs her hit points, and also prevents the party from using any offensive GFs or attacks that hit all targets, as they'll damage Rinoa as well.
Earlier, in Timber, Seifer uses Vinzer Deling as one.
I Can't Dance: Squall in the ballroom scene. Turned out to be a lie.
If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Male warning male version. Before leaving Timber, Zone warns Squall that he'll kill him if he lets anything happen to Rinoa. Later on, when they meet again, Zone goes berserk when Squall reveals that Rinoa is in a coma.
I Know Madden Kombat: The Slappers in the Galbadia Garden skating rink who incorporate hockey techniques into their attacks.
I'm a Humanitarian: Amusingly, in one battle, Rinoa can be eaten alive by a party member with the Devour command equipped, though this causes an immediate Game Over. She is, however, the only human who can be eaten in this way, so this was probably an oversight on the developers' part.
Improbable Age: Despite being an elite squad of mercenaries tasked with highly dangerous wetwork (such as political assassinations), none of the characters are old enough to drink. Both lampshaded and sort of justified: Edea knows the man who will kill Ultimecia is a teenager, so she knows SeeDs will need to be below a certain age.
Improbable Weapon User: Although many characters do use fairly sensible weaponry, there are also quite a few examples of this trope:
Squall and Seifer both use gunblades — that is, a sword with a pistol built into the base of the blade; perfect examples of Exotic Weapon Supremacy, as they have 100% accuracy and can do additional damage with the press of a button. Exactly how gunblades function are a source of much Fan Wank, though Square themselves basically explained them to be Vibroweapons in the Ultimania guide. In-universe, Cid mentions that gunblade specialists are rare, as the weapons are rather difficult to use, hinting that even in the game's world, they're not necessarily practical.
Rinoa has her "blaster edge", a chakram-like ring which fires from a wrist-mounted launcher and returns like a boomerang. It can also fire her dog.
Ward uses a giant harpoon. Which he has to go run over to the monsters to retrieve and then run back into formation to use again.
And Esthar's army uses what appear to be pick-axes with shotguns built into them (not to mention an armor ensemble that makes them look like mass-produced Kamen Riders).
Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Mostly averted; there are no treasure chests. However, the party can still sometimes find useful items lying around.
Infinity+1 Sword: As with the other games in the series, every character has an ultimate weapon.
Info Dump: A huge one from Zell to Squall after he returns from the Esthar moonbase with the Ragnarok, disc 3.
Injured Vulnerability: The Card skill only works on enemies that have been weakened. There's also Devour ability, which also only succeeds against enemies low on health, but can grant you various bonuses if you use it successfully, including permanent stat increases.
Inner Monologue: Squall does more of this than he does actual talking. A source of humor with pretty much anyone who gets to know him.
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: In the D-district Prison, there are waist-high barriers that look as if they could be climbed/jumped over with very little effort, instead, forcing your party to run all the way around the big hole in the middle. Then you see Squall jump up a couple FLOORS to save Zell.
Interrogated for Nothing: Squall not only doesn't have the information that Seifer tortures him for at the beginning of disc 2, he doesn't even understand the question.
Ironic Echo: Early in the game, Quistis turns to Squall for support and comfort; unfortunately for her, Squall believes that people shouldn't have to rely on others, and tells her bluntly to talk to a wall. At the beginning of Disc 3, when Rinoa is in a coma and Squall, having realized his feelings for her, tries to talk to her, he comments that it's like talking to a wall.
Item Crafting: The only way to improve your weapons in the game. There's also a fair bit of "Item Mutation" in the game, as almost every GF has the ability to "Refine" spells into different spells, items into different items, items into spells, or (in one case), Triple Triad cards into items/spells.
Karma Houdini: Sure, he was under Ultimecia's influence, but Seifer, as a Sorceress Knight and while leading Galbadia, was responsible for a lot of death and destruction... and yet he gets to live happily ever after with his buddies Raijin and Fujin. Well, unless you count the beat down the party delivered to him near the end (especially if you unlockedGilgamesh).
Kick the Dog: Seifer does it early on. Not just figuratively, either.
Kill The Ones You Love: Averted, more or less, with Cid. He's fully prepared to send his and Edea's children to kill her, because he knows he's not capable of it himself, but it all works out in the end.
Ultimecia: Reflect on your... Childhood... Your sensation... Your words... Your emotions... Time... It will not wait... No matter... How hard you hold on... It escapes you... And...
Killer Bunny: One beach-dwelling monster is a sand-swimming, flying, piranha-toothed goldfish.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Not as bad an example as many RPGs, but there are some instances. There's also an aversion — rooting around in cupboards in a house in Timber finds the party some gil, but it also makes the house's resident refuse to let you rest there any more, and since the hotel is off-limits during your first visit...
Also, Julia in the flashback sequence from Disk 1 is wearing a red evening gown when she performs, making her even more the Glamorous Wartime Singer.
Ladykiller In Love: The daydreaming guy carrying Quistis's card in the Balamb Garden cafeteria whose dialogue reveals he's smitten with her. The guy sitting next to him says he used to be the cream of the crop before her.
A Lady on Each Arm: Irvine does this with Rinoa and Selphie if you follow his suggested party split at Galbadia Garden. It's possible to swap one of them out for Quistis, but for some reason, Irvine isn't as happy about it.
It's because he remembers her as a big sister figure.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Guardian Forces inhibit memories, which is a fundamental plot point that defines most of the game.
Last Stand: During the Battle of the Gardens, after Galbadia Garden's first two offensives, the Balamb Garden leaders realize another offensive will probably result in this, so they decide to take the offensive.
Late Arrival Spoiler: The PSN version of this game actually blows Ultimecia's identity right in the product description. Normally, this would be Trailers Always Spoil, but as the game is ten years old and the PSN version came out well after Dissidia: Final Fantasy included her as the main villain representing Final Fantasy VIII, it ends up falling under this trope due to sheer age. But woe to the newer generations playing this for the first time...
Lazy Backup: Hand-in-hand with that Arbitrary Headcount Limit — except notably during the final battle, in which party members who remain KOed for three turns are "absorbed into time" and replaced by one of their teammates.
Leet Lingo: The young boy in Timber uses it in speech.
Leitmotif: Largely averted as far as characters go. Nobuo Uematsu noted that he avoided making character themes for FF8's soundtrack, with the exception of "Eyes on Me". However, different versions of "Liberi Fatali" are used as leitmotifs for the concept of sorceresses.
"Eyes on Me" is more the Leitmotif for the concept of love itself. Every time something romantic between Squall and Rinoa, or their parents (it's complicated, but there's no incest) or Laguna and Raine, this music plays. In addition, most of the main cast ends up with someone by the end of the game, and the reason that SeeD exists in the first place is because Cid loved Edea too much to just outright kill her when he saw what a monster she was becoming (that and before being mind controlled, Edea knew a teenager killed Ultimecia).
Let's Split Up, Gang: After breaking out of D-District Prison, the team splits up into two groups; one to head back to Balamb Garden to warn them about the missile attack, the other to the missile base to try and stop the attack.
The team also splits up when Squall and Rinoa are sent into space.
Level Grinding: As mentioned, the game slims down this process as it is normally seen in RPGs. However, players often find themselves spending a while Drawing spells from monsters, either to keep for its own sake or the purposes of Refining. Triple Triad got a similar reputation, but at least it was more fun than spamming "Draw" for five minutes.
Level Scaling: The levels of every mob are determined by your party's average level, except for some bosses. But never fear: bosses have level caps, and will never get above a certain level no matter how strong the player is.
Lighter and Softer: When taken against most of the rest of the series. The world is a cheerier, more prosperous place in general than in VII or VI, and unlike games 4-7, no party members or major sympathetic characters ever die over the course of the game. Hell, even Biggs and Wedge survive, and their whole thing up to that point in the series was to show up and die horribly. Even the Starter Villain, who would've been killed by the game's real Big Bad in previous games (Gestahl and President Shinra say hi) gets her own Happily Ever After, and the Rival Turned Evil gets a measure of redemption and is last seen fishing with his friends with a big smile on his face.
If you want to get down to brass tacks, the only named characters who die are Vinzer Deling, Raine, Julia Heartily, and Adel. Odin may die if you acquired him before fighting Seifer at Lunatic Pandora, while whether Ultimecia dies at the end is vague due to time compression shenanigans.
Like Brother and Sister: Quistis and Squall. During the orphanage revelations, Quistis claims she thought her initial feelings for Squall were love, but later realized it was misplaced sisterly affection. How honest about this she's being is subject to some debate among fans, particularly considering her later comment that she gave up once Rinoa entered the picture.
Lost Forever: Any item or sidequest that involves entering a town after getting to Disc 4.
In the Japanese version, this happens with any of the GFs that have to be drawn from a boss, and with Cerberus. The US version, however, averts this by allowing the player to draw any of the missed GF's from the bosses in Ultimecia's castle.
Any item on the Esthar Lunar Base, one of which is a card that can only be gotten there.
Lost in Translation: Although it's still possible to guess from Gilgamesh's comment about the Rift that he's the same Gilgamesh that appeared in Final Fantasy V, a single syllable confirming it was left out of the English translation:
Gilgamesh [Japanese]: "Huh? Was it you... Ba—?" [referring to Bartz]
Gilgamesh [English]: "Huh? Was it you...?"
Love Confession: Notably Subverted. The IGN review notes that, for love basically being the main theme of the game, the word is not mentioned once (although this is incorrect; Rinoa does tell Squall "we love you" during the concert at FH. Nevertheless, neither of the leads of what is primarily a love story ever makes an official Love Confession).
Low Level Advantage: If you stay at the lowest level possible throughout the game, Dynamic Difficulty means enemies will never develop their stronger attacks and defenses. Plus, because of Refining and Triple Triad, you can still get access to top-tier spells which mobs aren't themselves carrying yet, leading to low-level characters with stats that are nonetheless maxed out. For bonus points, stay at a low level for most of the game, then start advancing when you finally get Abilityx4. The stat bonuses will practically make your characters demi-gods.
Luke, I Am Your Father: Squall turns out to be Laguna's son. Nobody in the game ever confirms this, but plenty of clues direct the player to that conclusion: Comparison of the timeline to Ellone and Laguna's account of events, moombas identifying Squall as connected to Laguna based on his blood, Laguna's comments about needing to talk to Squall after the war is over, and Kiros and Ward's remarks that Squall looks like his mother and it's a good thing he doesn't look like his father.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Rinoa subverts this - she really only acts particularly quirky or footloose around the lead, then gets told off for it repeatedly before learning to take things more seriously. She shapes up on Disc 2 after nearly getting killed by Edea.
Meganekko: Quistis. Unfortunately, only during FMVs.
Metal Slime: The cactuars, who give a whopping 20 AP for each one defeated. They have an annoying tendency to run away before the party can even attack, and if the party does get in a turn before, they are very difficult to hit.
Subverted with Galbadia Garden, which appears to be much stricter and doesn't have a cheery atmosphere. Irvine Kinneas, however, is looser than most of the Balamb crew.
During the first disc, Balamb Garden is far more spit-and-polish; while there's still plenty of leeway for horsing around and playing card games while on duty, there are lines that should not be crossed. Zell gets his futuristic skateboard confiscated when he rides it around Garden, and when Seifer disobeys orders on a mission to further investigate the enemy's actions, it causes him to fail the field exam even though he cut a swath through the opposition in the process. Finally, your initial SeeD rank is partly determined by your willingness to stick to the regs on that mission (the Attitude score), and later on, your rank can drop if you spend too much time playing around and don't stick to the mission at hand.
Miles Gloriosus: This seems to be the case with Irvine when he panics during the assassination attempt and can't carry it out, and he even gives that as the explanation; that he just loves to talk tough but can't do anything when the time comes. However, he's very clearly not a coward when it comes to all fighting, and it's later revealed he had very good reason for not wanting to kill Edea.
Mind Screw: It is not exactly clear what the GF Eden is, nor what exactly happens during its attack, except that the universe appears to fold in on itself and back out again.
Commenter: Summoning Eden requires you to get to a new planet in a new galaxy, drop Eden down to bend reality, and then remake the world as a giant IMMAFIRINMAHLAZOR which shoots at the new galaxy and that drops the enemy FOR MASSIVE DAMAGE in less than a minute and a half.
A close inspection of Eden could liken it to a Garden structure. Garden... Eden... anyone else seeing this?
Model Planning: The Forest Owls use train models to explain hijacking the railcar of an enemy president.
Mooks: Notable even among Final Fantasy games for how absolutely infested the game is with Galbadian soldiers, pitting them against you constantly, from Dollet right up until the second-to-last dungeon. They are never anything resembling a threat. In the Laguna sequences they're swapped out for Esthar soldiers, who aren't much more dangerous.
Money Spider: The first Final Fantasy game to avert it, actually. Instead, Squall receives a regular stipend proportional to his rank, which itself rises and falls depending on your performance. Monsters still drop standard consumables / components for Item Crafting.
The Mutiny: The team returns to Balamb Garden after breaking out of D-District Prison to find the school undergoing one by students and staff loyal to NORG.
Anti-Mutiny: The students and staff loyal to Cid are attempting one.
Mutually Exclusive Party Members: The pseudo-Guardian Forces Odin and Gilgamesh can't be possessed at the same time. Getting Odin before disc three results in him being killed during the events of Lunatic Pandora and replaced by Gilgamesh. You can keep Odin if you wait until disc four to get him, but then you lose your chance to get Gilgamesh.
Mundane Made Awesome: Since Square's rendering abilities had progressed dramatically since VII, they would often render almost anything in FMV if they had the chance. Which worked when it was a dramatic chase sequence featuring our heroes chased by a giant mechanical spider, but tended towards the absurd when an elevator was given the same loving treatment.
Probably justified in that she's unavailable for most of disc 3 and will rejoin you at a level close to your average party level. If you're playing normally and had been using level up bonuses, she'd fall way behind if her growth rate had been average due to lost opportunities to to increase her stats through said bonuses.
My Friend Right Or Wrong: Fujin and Raijin state that they're on whatever side Seifer is on, which they do for most of the game, however, at the end of Disc 3 when they finally feel Seifer has gone too far they call him out on it but still tell him they will remain his friends.
Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Discussed in-universe, when the party thinks Seifer is dead. Everyone else starts talking about him positively, while Squall finds himself disgusted by the way they've changed their opinions about him as soon as they think he's croaked.
Squall has a mini BSOD later on when he realizes that if HE dies, everyone will be talking that way about him. Needless to say, he gets moving and goes to kick some ass.
No Export for You: Unless you have the PC version, there is no way to play the ChocoboWorld game in international releases unless you import a Japanese PocketStation.
No Hero Discount: This is an RPG, of course. Though there is one exception in Timber, when saving some kids from being hit by a train gets you a free hotel stay. Played straight for everything else. How much for a train ticket?
HOW MUCH for the Queen of Cards to spread a new rule?
Probably justifiable since, to everyone else in the world, you're just doing your job.
Nominal Importance: Only plot relevant characters have names. Those who aren't important enough for them have names such as "Mean Guy" and "Library Girl With a Pigtail."
Non Standard Skill Learning: The Limit Breaks are like this. Squall's Limit Break availability is based on his equipped weapon. Zell reads magazines to learn finishing moves. Quistis uses certain items to learn skills. Rinoa takes her dog for a walk, and learns a new skill during the plot. Irvine can use different bullets based on what's in inventory. Selphie (technically) has all of her best Limit Break Magic available from the word go, but once you use the special ones once the show up more frequently in future.
Non Uniform Uniform: Squall and Zell wear their Balamb Garden cadet uniforms in nonstandard fashion, in ways that echo their civilian clothes — Squall leaves his jacket open, and Zell leaves his collar undone and rolls up his sleeves. Seifer forgoes the uniform entirely even during the field exam.
Laguna, Kiros, and Ward have Galbadian blue uniforms, but missing the helmets. Ward's bandana and Kiros' hairdo push this trope straight into Mildly Military.
No Social Skills: Squall is not the most socially apt of individuals. At first glance, this is because of him being raised in Garden all his life, but as the story progresses, it becomes more clear that his mental issues stem less from being in Garden and more from Ellone's disappearance. Contrast with Seifer, who also joined at about the same time.
Not a Game: Rinoa gets this lecture twice on Disc 1. The first time is from Squall, who doesn't say these exact words, but questions Rinoa's sincerity about resisting the government after witnessing the unprofessional way she and the Forest Owls come up with poorly-thought-out plans (also a notable moment of Character Development for Squall, marking the first time he clearly expresses his feelings to anyone). The second lecture comes from Quistis, who uses the exact words to shoot Rinoa down when she proposes another poorly-thought-out plan just as the SeeDs are preparing for their own mission.
It's worth noting that Rinoa herself doesn't consider the situations a game either. She's dead serious about assisting Squall and liberating Timber, but she's simply not mature or experienced enough at planning things out to carry out the operations successfully on her own.
Not What It Looks Like: Rinoa claims she doesn't want to ask Squall to see his ring (so Zell can make a replica of it) because people would get the wrong idea.
Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Doesn't happen so much after getting the mobile Balamb Garden, as the NPC's on the deck will tell you where you need to go, but it can happen before that, as there's no real reminders of where you're supposed to be going or what you're supposed to be doing.
Numerological Motif: The number eight recurs throughout the game, presumably for the obvious reason. The Galbadian soldiers have 08 on their armour, the heroes have to catch a number 8 bus at one point, and there are eight playable characters (including the two Guest Star Party Members) in the present.
There are 4 pairs of color-coded propagators inside the Ragnarok.
Off with His Head!: NORG wants to offer the heads of the party members to Edea on a silver platter to calm her after the assassination attempt.
Ominous Latin Chanting: "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" is just supposed to sound vaguely like Latin; it's actually an anagram of the phrase "Succession of Witches" and the word "Love." Everything else in the opening theme is genuine Latin, though, and relevant to the plot.
Opening the Sandbox: Disc 2, when Balamb Garden lifts off. And of course getting the Ragnarok in disc 3.
One Time Dungeon: There's Dollet Communications Tower, Galbadia D-District Prison, Missile Base, Galbadia Garden (during the attack), Great Salt Lake, and Lunatic Pandora (only visited twice) leading to almost all locations inaccessible due to Time Compression. Not to mention the Laguna dream sequences.
Our Presidents Are Different: The President Buffoon type, subverted with Laguna. After the whole game portrays him as awkward, dimwitted, and reckless, he then becomes President of Esthar and seems to be doing quite well at it. Still a pretty big dork when you meet him with your party. His background also helps make him a President Personable and President Action.
President Vinzer Deling of Galbadia, however, is President Evil played quite straight before Edea makes him a President Target.
Overly Long Fighting Animation: The Guardian Force summon animations are some of the longest in the series, leading to the most powerful summons (and not coincidentally, the ones with the longest summon time) being rarely used at all. The backlash is likely what led to Square offering the option to shorten them in future titles. Ironically, this was also the first game to make those movies interactive: there's a "Boost" function which lets you Button Mash your way to higher damage.
Pamphlet Shelf: Several places, this being an RPG, most notably in the Balamb Garden library.
Party in My Pocket: The first game in the series to avert it. While in a town or dungeon, the party members will be shown All in a Row, but on the world map, only the leader will be shown.
Peninsula Of Powerleveling: The Island Closest To Heaven and The Island Closest To Hell. Not only does it have (hidden) Draw Points stocking some of the game's best spells, it's also the only place where Dynamic Difficulty is averted, instead providing Lv.100 versions of some pretty fierce monsters. While the EXP they provide doesn't go up, it does affect their item drops and the magic you can draw from them, and at a high encounter rate. Spam Degenerator for rapid experience gain.
Perfect Pacifist People: The people of Fisherman's Horizon, who refuse to fight even when their town is invaded by Galbadia,
Piggyback Cute: Squall carries Rinoa to Esthar this way after she falls into a coma.
Power at a Price: The act of junctioning Guardian Forces to your characters is put forward as the reason for their memory loss. The only one who doesn't suffer from this is Irvine, who didn't junction one until he joined your party. This is representative of the effects of war erasing their childhood.
Powers as Programs: The Guardian Forces can be junctioned to anyone interchangeably. Not to mention magic spells, which can be traded around to people (even, presumably, to people who don't use GFs, since you draw magic from such entities all the time). The Final Boss junctions herself to her Guardian Force.
The Power of Friendship: A theme of the game, as highlighted in a speech by Laguna towards the end of the third disc.
Power-Up Letdown: Reflect is heavily Nerfed in this game, only working on single-target spells the player characters can learn. Later on, all it does is block healing spells.
Porn Stash: That copy of "The Girl Next Door" you pick up from the magazine publishers in Timber rewards you with a Triple Triad card later on. Also, Zell is very adamant about not letting anyone enter his room. One can only guess what he's got hidden away up there. Of course, when you actually do get a chance to visit his room, (during the Balamb occupation sequence), there seems to be no evidence of it. Though, you can see a spare T-Board and a collection of guns.
Pre Meeting: Rinoa asks Squall to dance at the party, but doesn't think much of it. Squall's first mission as a SeeD is assisting her resistance group.
Press Right To Not Die: During the escape from D-District Prison, when Squall is hanging off the bridge connecting the towers, the player has to hold down the right directional button or else it's game over.
Pretty in Mink: The collar of Squall's bomber jacket, designed to challenge the CGI artists.
Quickly Demoted Leader: Quistis is demoted from Instructor to normal SeeD early on, leaving her free to team up with Squall and join the party.
Race for Your Love: Variant — in disc 3, after the return from space, Rinoa chooses to allow Esthar to take her into custody and seal her power rather than risk becoming a danger to the world through Ultimecia's possession. Squall, paralyzed by his own issues and convinced he has no right to interfere with her decision, lets her leave, but when Quistis catches up to him and reads him the riot act over it, he changes his mind, rushes to the Sorceress Memorial where Rinoa is about to be sealed, storms the facility, and sets her free.
Required Party Member: Squall for almost all of the game, except during the Galbadia Missile Base mission, during which it's Selphie. The two teams during the assassination mission. Rinoa when the team goes into space.
The Reveal: NORG revealing that Edea is married to Cid.
Irvine telling the team about Edea's orphanage.
Edea revealing that she was possessed by Ultimecia.
Revive Kills Zombie: Certainly a staple of the series (particularly in Final Fantasy VI at one point), but particularly egregious here, where you can remove the zombified 'president' in one hit on the early-game train mission. This can also be done against Abadon, but has less of a chance of being successful.
Scars Are Forever: Apparently true for Ward's facial scar. It's not clear about Squall or Seifer's, however, since they both get their scars right at the start of the game, actually making it plausible for them to still have them considering the short period of time that passes.
Dr. Kadowaki does specifically say that Squall's wound will leave a scar, however, heavily implying that it will be permanent. If so, this likely applies to Seifer's scar as well, as he suffered a nearly-identical wound.
Schizo Tech: Despite having access to a wide range of advanced technology, including cruise missiles, cybernetic robots, energy weapons, hovering buildings that can traverse both land and sea, and advanced spacecraft, radio broadcast is not used. This is a major plot point, as Sorceress Adel's containment device in orbit interferes with radio transmission; it isn't until the Galbadian army invades Dollet and upgrades the old radio tower there that any radio signals are able to bypass this interference.
Scripted Battle: The first fight against Edea. Seifer vs. Odin/Gilgamesh. Also, the end of the battle with Ultimecia.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The entire reason for the radio interference on Earth is that the sorceress Adel was sealed in a high-tech containment system and launched into orbit. This was necessary because nobody knew how to kill her permanently, and because of how powerful she was, just flinging her into deep space could have had long-lasting consequences. This does, of course, mean that by the end of the game, you've not only traveled through time and saved the world... you've also brought TV back into the world.
Security Cling: Rinoa does this three times to Squall. First, after being rescued from the Iguions, she grabs onto him and doesn't want to let go. Later, while on the Ragnarok, after the intense sequence of events that's just occured, she takes advantage of the gravity being turned off to float down into Squall's lap and puts her arms around him, telling him that it makes her feel safe. The third time is when she hugs him after he rescues her from the sorceress memorial.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Ultimecia's actions are fueled by a desire to avoid persecution for crimes she hasn't commited and stop history from coming to pass, which states she will be killed by SeeD. Thing is, her attempts to do this involve possessing people of the past to try and wipe SeeD out, starting war in the process, and eventually causing SeeD to kill her in retaliation for it all by traveling to the future. To put it simply - she tries to stop the chain of events that results in her death, and in doing so causes said chain. See also Stable Time Loop.
Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Though in this case, it's really just Ultimecia. Though Edea pushes it for most of the game, she's also possessed by Ultimecia the entire time she's your opponent, so this could be her influence.
Serious Business: Triple Triad — though not in terms of the game's storyline, but because of its Gamebreaker status.
She Is Not My Girlfriend: While in the infirmary when Squall gives Rinoa a tour of Balamb Garden, Dr. Kadowaki asks if Rinoa is Squall's girlfriend. The player is given the option several times of having Squall either confirm or deny it.
Shifting Sand Land: Galbadia Desert, whereD-District Prison is located, which is why it's named D (For Desert) District Prison.
Shipper on Deck: During the Garden festival at Fisherman's Horizon, after meeting up with Rinoa, Squall comments that everyone is trying to get them together and that it's so obvious even he can tell.
Interestingly enough, this game pays large homage to the oft-overlooked Final Fantasy III. A major character in the backstory is the Sorcerer Hyne, a reference to Sorcerer Hein from Final Fantasy III. The basic layout of the overworld in this game roughly maps onto that of Final Fantasy III's overworld also.
Doomtrain isn't terribly different from the GhostTrain / Phantom Train, either. And by that, it has a freakin' ghost face and looks undead enough.
Lunatic Pandora likewise has sequences very similar to music from the Moon in Final Fantasy IV. Appropriate, considering that it was designed to call down monsters from the moon. Likewise, when the monsters are ready to drop, the moon grows red. This same feature is shared by the corrupted moon of IV.
The blue Galbadian uniforms resemble the SOLDIER uniform from Final Fantasy VII. They're even issued with Buster Swords.
Single Stroke Battle: If you have Odin, he randomly appears at the beginning of a battle and ends it quickly, except against Seifer. In addition, after Odin is killed, his replacement, Gilgamesh, will randomly appear during any part of a battle and attack with a weapon. If it's the Zantetsuken (Odin's recovered sword), then this happens as well.
Slow Clap: Initiated by Seifer after Squall, Zell, and Selphie graduate as SeeD.
Slow Motion Fall: Squall gets two of these. First, in the FMV at Dollet, with him jumping to reach the landing vessel before X-ATM092 fires at him. The second occurs after the first boss fight with Edea when she impales him, and he falls off the parade float.
Small Girl, Big Gun: The cutscene with Quistis at Dollet taking down X-ATM092. Although not petite, she's still pretty trim and the gun she's using is freaking huge.
Sole Entertainment Option: It doesn't really have a city that specializes in the Card Game of the Week, but each city has its own rules. Regardless of this fact, practically everyone plays. Not only that, but people carry all of their cards around with them as they aimlessly walk around.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: The game manages to avoid this for the most part, thanks to the "Junction" system, which enables the character to create three sets of abilities/GFs and use them at all times; these sets could be swapped easily from character to character, and concentrating the experience points onto fewer abilities/GFs obviously sped things up. However, this leaves the remaining characters totally "naked," unable to do anything except "Fight", so if the party composition was changed without your say-so and you weren't allowed to check your weapons before a battle, you had problems.
So Much For Stealth: Escaping from D-District Prison. Can also happen in the Galbadia Missile Base, depending on your actions.
Sorry I'm Late: Irvine and Rinoa join Squall during the battle sequence in the first fight against Edea.
Spotting The Thread: In the Galbadia Missile Base, if you manage to get through it without getting caught, Selphie gives herself away when she salutes the wrong way.
Sprite Polygon Mix: The vast majority of the backgrounds are pre-rendered bitmaps, though several times, the game will transition into an FMV sequence and the background will change into a fully-rendered sequence while the player still has limited interaction with the game. Rather groundbreaking at the time.
Stable Time Loop: Ultimecia's meddling in time and space ended up sending Squall and herself back in time to his childhood. This sets in motion Edea's possession by Ultimecia and subsequent reign of terror, but also allows Squall to give his old matron the idea for creating SeeD, thus ensuring the creation of the organization that set Squall and his comrades on the path to ultimately fight and defeat Ultimecia. Of course, this also means that while Squall technically hasn't stopped her reign of terror in the future, her defeat is already a Foregone Conclusion.
Stand Your Ground: Balamb Garden during the first half of the Battle of the Gardens before taking the offensive.
The Starscream: Edea. She kills Vinzer Deling and then takes his place as leader of Galbadia.
Start X to Stop X: The master plan to prevent Ultimecia from compressing time; Let her compress time and jump her ass while she does that.
Stepford Smiler: Even after all that happens, the only time we see Selphie show sadness are during the Missile Base sequence after she realizes they can't escape and the resulting damage at Trabia Garden. And she's cheering people up at Trabia a moment later. Oh, and the Garden Festival.
The Stoic: Squall. It's interesting to note that the exact qualities that make him a good soldier (quiet, emotionless, obedient) make him a poor human being, because he forced himself to become an adult as a child to cope with the loss of Ellone. Contrast this with Laguna, who is both a competent soldier and a complete dork because he matured at a natural pace.
Stoic Woobie: A great deal of the tension between Squall and his teammates throughout the game is he refuses to open up to them about any problems he may be suffering. It does lead to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when he finally does open up to Rinoa; of course, she was unconscious at the time.
Not So Stoic: His stoicism increasingly breaks down as his coping mechanisms are tested and proved wanting. Disc 3 provides the best example, but instances occur as early as disc 1, starting with the mini-meltdown he has over the way people talk about Seifer after Seifer's supposed death.
Supernatural Gold Eyes: The Sorceress Edea possesses these, as does the Sorceress Ultimecia. This is likely not a coincidence, considering the connections between the two characters.
Super Soldier: The SeeDs are trained as such, and for good reason: they are intended to fight and defeat Sorceresses. Their status as such is played straight, with small numbers of SeeD soldiers being deployed and garnering a mixture of both fear and respect for their capabilities.
The first time is during the Battle of the Gardens, when Rinoa falls off the side of Balamb Garden and is dangling from a rock over a tremendous fall. You must hurry there and rescue her! However, there's no timer counting down... so, sure enough, you can take your time. No matter what you do, you'll always arrive in time to grab her hand and save her from falling. In all, she ends up holding on for a solid thirty minutes, while the two Gardens keep crashing into each other.
The second time is on the Esthar Lunar Base, which is about to be swallowed by the Lunar Cry, but you can take as long as you want getting to the Escape Pod. To gain a particular card in the game's card game sidequest, you are required to play a secondary character, an opportunity that comes only in this instance. The game does some Lampshade Hanging on this by having the character state, "You wanna to play cards now!?"
Talking In Your Sleep: At one point, Squall wakes up in his dorm room to find Rinoa standing over him, who reveals that he was talking in his sleep, and that "she isn't even going to tell him what he was saying". However, just before, he was shown having a Dream Sequence flashback to himself as a child. Also, earlier, during the Winhill flashaback, Raine is listing off Laguna's annoying traits and mentions that he also talks in his sleep.
Tall, Dark and Handsome: Laguna and Squall get two out of three; at 175cm, and 177cm respectively, they are shorter than any other male playable character in the game except for Zell.
Hot for teacher variation: Many of Quistis's male students (and apparently quite a few female ones, if the Trepies are any indication) are pining for one. She lampshades this in the Fire Cavern Test when she mentions to Squall how the boys often choke on the test when she comes with them.
Hot for student variation: Quistis for Squall, though in her defense, they're only a year apart in age and apparently grew up together, though neither of them remembers it anymore. Squall comments on the awkwardness of it fairly early in the game, and Quistis eventually says that her crush on him was actually misdirected sisterly affection, although how honest she's being about that is subject to interpretation.
Temporal Paradox: Specifically, an Ontological Paradox - present Squall gives past Edea the idea for SeeD. Since FFVIII's model of time travel seems to involve a single, immutable sequence of events, there was never an alternate timeline in which Edea came up with SeeD on her own.
They Have the Scent: You have to track down Raijin in Balamb in disc 2 by entering the kitchen where his attempt to cook some fish he just caught went a bit awry, after which the scent all over you will trigger a guard dog to find him.
Raijin, the only non-white human enemy, boss, and supporting NPC.
Too Awesome to Use: Played straight and averted all at once. Playing the game normally, you'll hang onto your best items and will never use them except for the final battle, and any spells you've junctioned to your stats will never be cast unless you don't mind your stats dropping from it. If you take the time to abuse the hell out of the card and item refinement, you can have 100 of the best items and spells in the game without having the need to grind for them by other means.
Took A Shortcut: To get Rinoa's card from General Caraway, you have to play him in Triple Triad and lose your Ifrit card to him in a game to get him to use Rinoa's card, and then play him again and beat him. Immediately after the game screen fades out, if you talk to Caraway, he says he lost the Ifrit card to Martine in Fisherman's Horizon.
Too Many Belts: Squall has one belt around his waist, two hanging around his hips, and three on his right leg.
Torture Always Works: Subverted. Squall is subjected to Electric Torture in the D-District Prison, but since he doesn't have the information he's being tortured for in the first place, all that this accomplishes is to either provoke him into lying or just make him want to die.
Torture Technician: Seifer fills this role while the team is being held in D-District Prison.
In the original Japanese, it's a particular kind of bread. In the French version, it's pretzels.
Train Job: Squall, Selphie, and Zell's first mission as SeeDs is to assist the Timber resistance with one of these to kidnap Galbadian President Vinzer Deling. It's done in a way that's definitely cool but would be impossible to pull off in reality, with the team using switch tracks to swap out a dummy train car with the President's car.
Trauma Inn: Well, duh. This is an RPG, so a night at the inn cures everything.
True Companions: The party, especially after they learn that most of them grew up together in the same orphanage.
Two-Teacher School: Aside from Quistis and a minor NPC named Mr. Aki, none of Balamb Garden's instructors ever actually make appearances. This may be justified by the fact that Squall graduates within the first stages of the game and no longer attends classes.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: Quistis, though in a subversion, she doesn't remember being Squall's friend, and when she does, she realizes her feelings for him weren't supposed to be romantic at all, leaving her embarrassed.
The Unreveal: Laguna never comes out and says "Squall, I am your father," and in fact nobody ever mentions anything about it except for one oblique reference by Kiros. It's still heavily implied.
Urban Fantasy: One of the foremost examples in the series, complete with cars, modernized cities, and even space flight and the internet.
There's also a Useless Useful Summon: Siren, who casts Silence on any enemies on the field susceptible to it — and little else, making summoning her barely more worthwhile than casting Silence yourself. Doomtrain, who hits every enemy on the field with every status effect in the game, is much more useful; if nothing else, the defense-nullifying Vit-0 effect usually works even on bosses.
Vancian Magic: There's no Mana in this game: Magic spells are quantified by individual uses, either by using Draw on monsters or certain Draw points, or by refining items into more spells using GFs.
Verbal Tic: Raijin says "ya know?" at the end of each sentence, while Fujin says one worded sentences in all caps. In the case of Fujin, her verbal tic was to speak using only one kanji in the original Japanese version. However, before the last fight with Seifer, the two drop their verbal tics and plead with him to stop what he's doing to show their dedication for him.
NORG, who says made up words like Fushururu or Bujururu before everything.
Vibroweapon: Gunblades, according to Ultimania; the bullets channel a 'wave of power' through the blade instead of firing a projectile when the trigger is pulled.
We Have Ways of Making You Talk: Electric torture used on Squall in D-District Prison when he refuses to tell Seifer the true purpose of SeeD. Seifer also warns Squall that if he doesn't talk, then the others will.
The Galbadian occupation of Timber is never officially resolved; although the city is apparently free of Galbadian soldiers if you return there later in the game, nothing is ever stated about what happened there after the party left in disc 1.
After the party defeats NORG in disc 2, he's engulfed in a cocoon, and a boatman in Fisherman's Horizon asks if he's "evolved" yet. Although the party can later visit the Shumi Village and learn that evolving into another form is normal for the Shumi, the cocoon just sits there for the rest of the game and the player never gets to see what NORG evolves into.
Late in the game, you can see his cocoon has hatched, and two smaller Shumi are wandering the basement.
It's never made clear how much damage the flood of lunar monsters in disc 3 does to the country of Esthar. The Esthar military are still fighting them by the time the party embarks on the endgame.
After the Battle of the Gardens, Galbadia Garden disappears and isn't seen again.
Precisely what happens to the Lunatic Pandora is never answered. Squall's team manages to take control of the Pandora's control room, but what is done with it after time compression is not made clear.
When Balamb Garden is about to be carpet bombed by Galbadian missiles, the party instructs Xu, Raijin, and Fujin to tell everybody to evacuate. When they finally reach the underground control center and get the Garden airborne, they end up crashing into the sea. After that, they never return to Balamb to pick up all the SeeDs and other classmen who, supposedly, evacuated. Since there was a fight going on between sympathizers of Cid and NORG at the time, the evacuees might have continued fighting amongst each other or even have died due to collateral damage from the missile strikes. (On the other hand, since Garden is not appreciably less populated afterwards, they may not have managed to evacuate many in the first place.)
What Is Evil?: Ambiguity between good and evil is a prominent theme in the game. The fight against the primary antagonist is almost purely pragmatic, only loosely tied to any personal motivation against the antagonist proper. Arguably, the antagonist even has a defensible position (one of the heroes even considers this, albeit briefly).
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Raijin, during the three boss fights with him, will not attack your female characters. He even says "I don't hit girls, ya know" if he KOs all the male members of your party and only females are left. (Sadly, it is not possible to take advantage of this by fighting him with an all-female party since you Can't Drop The Hero, and during the first two fights, Zell is a Required Party Member.)
You Are in Command Now: Cid summarily hands command of Balamb Garden and SeeD as a whole over to Squall in disc 2 - to Squall's intense dismay. He proves quite good at it, but doesn't enjoy it.
Your Mom: The player can receive one of these during the Mr. Monkey sidequest, which involves finding a monkey near Dollet and throwing rocks at him. After completing it, the monkey calls you names and tells you that your mum wears combat boots.