Video Game: Final Fantasy VIII
"I'll be here..." "Why...?" "I'll be 'waiting' here..." "For what?" "I'll be waiting... for you, so... if you come here... you'll find me. I promise."
The eighth entry into the finger-flayingly popular Final Fantasy
series. Originally released on PlayStation
and home computer, and ported to the Play Station Network
for the PlayStation 3
, PSP, and Playstation Vita. The PC version later got a Steam
re-release on December 5th 2013.
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. 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 battle against the Galbadian Army heats to a boil with the emergence of a mysterious new figurehead known as Sorceress Edea, a conflict that soon escalates far beyond anything anyone was expecting.Final Fantasy VIII
deals with the conflict between childhood and adulthood. It examines the consequences of being forced to "grow up", and the nostalgia for an earlier and simpler past and the fear of an uncertain future that goes hand-in-hand with that. 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. Unfortunately, human emotion cannot be so easily repressed in minds so young, and the "save the world" story is merely a Framing Device
for a sombre Coming-of-Age Story
between the main characters. On a cosmetic note, this is where Final Fantasy
started to eschew the Super-Deformed
characters traditionally found on overworlds
and battle screens, and the tone generally feels more serious than before.
Ironically (considering the game's mixed reputation
dutifully 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
) and a refinement of VII's Materia magic system: characters now equip (or "junction") Vancian Magic
directly to their bodies instead of their armour. Any spell in the game can be junctioned—including the summoned creatures
—but a single paltry Cure won't make much of a difference. Characters can increase its effectiveness by sapping and stockpiling magic from enemies.
This was also Square's latest attempt at shaking up the bog standard JRPG model: For one, it drops the Mana Meter
just like in Final Fantasy III
. 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. Modern Final Fantasy
games continue to tinker with the "no armor" approach, most notably X
replaced the previous game's Gold Saucer
with Triple Triad, a surprisingly in-depth Card Battle Game
featuring face cards of the main cast. Though optional, mastering Triple Triad allows you to transform rare cards into unbelievably game-breaking items and weapon components
. It was so popular that a (somewhat simpler) Spiritual Successor
called Tetra Master was included in Final Fantasy IX
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 (both for English and the other European languages) to work alongside the Japanese development team as the game was being created; this is now pretty much standard procedure for Final Fantasy
This game provides examples of:
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- Absolute Cleavage: Ultimecia.
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The Balamb Garden disciplinary committee - although how much official power they actually have and how much of it is just Seifer bullying other cadets is never really clear.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers of Deling City.
- Academy of Adventure: Balamb Garden.
- 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.
- The Alcatraz: D-District Prison.
- 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.
- The Aloner: Squall in the end sequence.
- Always Save the Girl: "Rinoa...... Even if you end up as the world's enemy, I'll... I'll be your knight."
- Ambiguously Brown: Raijin.
- Animal Motifs: Squall's omnipresent (winged) lion motif.
- 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.
- Anti Villains: Fujin and Raijin.
- Arbitrary Gun Power: Irvine's gun, the damage of which is based on his Strength stat like any other physical attack.
- Laguna's machine gun, in the same vein.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: By the end of the first disk there are six permanent party members, as well as a Guest Star Party Member who joins for a little while in Disc 3, but the player can never field more than three at a time.
- The Archmage: Ultimecia.
- 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.
- Artsy Moon: The moon is enormous and takes up quite a bit of the sky in most outdoor backgrounds, foreshadowing for the events of disc 3.
- 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.
- Ass in Ambassador: Edea's initial role. Galbadia plans on using her as an ambassador to create fear and ultimately Take Over the World.
- 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 Ultimecia 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 Adorable: Selphie.
- 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.
- Badass Driver: Squall hijacks a top-down car during the disc one finale and speeds up to square-off against his Rival Turned Evil and the (literal) Disc One Final Boss.
- Badass In Charge: Squall once he becomes appointed as SeeD leader.
- Badass Longcoat: Seifer and Irvine wear these.
- Badass Normal: Laguna, Ward, and Kiros, under most circumstances.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Selphie and Laguna.
- Badass Teacher: Quistis, at least at first. She probably qualifies for Badass Bookworm as well, as becoming a SeeD by age 15 requires some hardcore studying.
- Handicapped Badass: Ward after becoming mute.
- Little Miss Badass: Selphie.
- Retired Badass: Laguna, Kiros, and Ward.
- Bag of Holding
- Bag of Sharing
- 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.
- Battle Theme Music
- The Beastmaster: Rinoa.
- 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.
- The "Great Wall of Esthar" is a somewhat more standard example in that it is actually a wall, albeit one used more for camouflage purposes than physical defense.
- 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.
- Beta Couple: In some degree, Selphie and Irvine.
- Be the Ball: The Wendigo's main form of attack, amusingly enough, is to grab a party member, smash them into a ball, and use them as a weapon against the rest of the group.
- 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.
- Big Bad: Ultimecia.
- Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Siege of Dollet, the Battle of the Gardens, the Siege of Esthar. All of them use a BGM Override, as listed above.
- Big Damn Gunship: The Ragnarok initially appears as just a spaceship, but is revealed to be this as well during the assault on Lunatic Pandora.
- Big Damn Heroes: Half the game involves someone rescuing someone, usually Rinoa.
- Big Friendly Dog: Rinoa's dog Angelo.
- Big Red Devil: Diablos and Ifrit.
- Bishounen: In a series chock-full of handsome leads, FFVIII takes the cake. With the possible exceptions of Cid and Rajin, each of the male lead are depicted with clean-shaven faces and feminine necklines.
- Black Best Friend: Kiros to Laguna and Raijin to Seifer.
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: In the opening sequence, Squall's gunblade falls end over end and ends up impaled in the ground.
- The Blank: A Freeze-Frame Bonus in the ending sequence shows Squall with no face.
- 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).
- Boisterous Bruiser: Mentally, Seifer. Definitely Raijin and Zell.
- Boss Battle
- Advancing Boss of Doom: X-ATM092. Type A.
- 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.
- Damage-Sponge Boss / Marathon Boss: Omega Weapon, Ultima Weapon, Tonberry King, Jumbo Cactuar, Ultimecia's four forms.
- 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, the Oilboyles, 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.
- King Mook: Tonberry King.
- 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.
- Sequential Boss: Numerous.
- 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.
- Vehicular Assault: X-ATM092 in Dollet, BGH251F2 in the Galbadia Missile Base and later in Fisherman's Horizon.
- Warmup Boss: Ifrit in the Fire Cavern.
- 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 machine gun can be used indefinitely without the need to reload.
- Boy Meets Girl: Squall meets Rinoa.
- 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.
- The Brute: Raijin.
- 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.
- Burn the Witch!: Rinoa on Disc 3. Adel left the people of Esthar very poorly disposed towards sorceresses in general, and they're eager to ensure that no other sorceress remain free to someday pose a threat to them.
- Buttmonkey: Nida, the SeeD who passed the exam with Squall, Zell and Selphie. Squall can even forget who he is entirely.
- Canine Companion: Angelo, to Rinoa.
- Canis Latinicus: Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec. Looks more or less like Latin; actually a Significant Anagram.
- Can't Drop the Hero: Except for several plot-specific instances in which the party splits up to accomplish separate objectives, such as the Disc 1 assassination mission and the Disc 2 missile base mission, Squall must remain in the active party at all times.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : It doesn't matter if you have just spent the last hour rescuing cadets and children from monsters unleashed by NORG's faculty and been appointed Commander. Use magic in the halls and your ass is going down a rank.
- Cannot Spit It Out:
- 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.
- Celebrity Resemblance/No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- 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.
- Most fans believe Cid bears a strong resemblance to Robin Williams.
- The Chanteuse: Julia Heartilly, from the flashback sequences.
- Character Level
- Character Tics: When he's nervous, Laguna's left leg starts to limp.
- The Charmer: Irvine.
- 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.
- Cheerful Child: Ellone
- 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.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Dollet satellite dish.
- 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.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Irvine.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Laguna Loire is an utterly bizarre human being.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Seifer does this to Squall in D-District Prison.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
- Squall wears black, Seifer wears white.
- 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.
- Rinoa and Ultimecia have white and black wings respectively
- 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.
- Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Done with disc changes throughout the game.
- Disc 1-2: Just as our heroes think they've beaten Sorceress Edea the first time, she busts out her Limit Break, sending a massive icicle through Squall and sending him falling off the float...
- 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.
- Continuity Cameo: Gilgamesh's appearance is the first instance in the series of a character from another Final Fantasy game canonically appearing as the same person in a different one.
- Converse with the Unconscious: Squall keeps trying to talk to Rinoa while she's in a coma. He even laments that "it's like talking to a wall". It doubles as an Ironic Echo, as earlier in the game he tells Quistis to talk to a wall if she wants someone to listen.
- Cool Airship/Cool Starship: The Ragnarok.
- Cool Boat: Balamb Garden's landing vessels and later, Balamb Garden itself.
- Cool Big Sis: Ellone to the team when they were in the orphanage.
- Cool Old Guy: Cid.
- 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 - 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.
- Crash-Into Hello: How Squall meets Selphie.
- Crazy Cat Lady: A Crazy Cat Guy. There's a random NPC who asks Squall if he likes cats. If you reply that he doesn't, the guy gets mad and says he's not going to tell him his secret. But if you have Squall say that he does like cats, then he reveals that he keeps 256 cats in his house, to which Squall is not amused.
- 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.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Squall, when he's being tortured by Seifer in D-District Prison.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: Esthar, pretty much literally.
- Curse Cut Short: The S-word is cut short when Laguna falls off a cliff during the second dream sequence.
- Curtains Match the Window: Ellone.
- Cutscene Incompetence: This is an RPG, so of course the characters are unable to do things during the story that they can easily do in battle, such as summoning GFs.
- Dances and Balls/Dance of Romance: Squall and Rinoa at the SeeD graduation ball.
- Dark Chick: Fujin.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Squall wears black. Also, Edea, who dresses in black even before and after she's possessed.
- The Day The Music Lied: Someone's going to die the last time you summon Odin, but it won't be the boss.
- Death from Above: The Lunar Cry.
- Deconstruction: Oh so much. For example, Squall is utterly broken when compared to a typical teenage-orphan Eastern RPG protagonist, precisely because he's a teenage-orphan Eastern RPG protagonist.
- Desperation Attack: The game's Limit Breaks are also desperation attacks, triggered specifically by how dire a situation the character is in. Low HP is the main contributing factor, but having party members KOed or suffering under status effects also goes towards a hidden Crisis Level calculation which determines how likely a limit break is to trigger and, where relevant, how potent it will be. As a result, a common strategy (at least, before the Aura spell becomes available) was to keep one or more characters at minimal health and refresh the command menu until the Limit Break popped up.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The writing dips into this at times:
Cid: You will be passing through a real battlefield. Obviously, the battles will be for real.
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.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Odin again.
- 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.
- Diesel Punk: Though a bit brighter than Final Fantasy VII.
- Disc One Final Boss: Edea. She's also the Disc Two Final Boss.
- Disc One Nuke: Players can forge Squall's Infinity+1 Sword as early as Disc 1. It requires a lot of patience, as well as the knowledge of how to get the items needed, but forging it that early means you can kiss the difficulty goodbye.
- Before you head out to Timber, you can play Triple Triad to collect Abyss Worm cards, which refine into Windmills at a 1:1 ratio. Windmills, in turn, refine into 20 Tornado spells each. Tornado is one of the best spells in the game for junctioning to Strength and Magic, comparable to the end-game Holy, Meteor, Flare, Pain, etc. With 100 Tornadoes junctioned to Strength, Squall will deal over 1000 damage per attack.
- If Tornadoes alone are not enough, Gayla cards can be refined into Mystery Fluids on a 1-to-1 basis, and each Mystery Fluid can be refined into 10 Meltdowns. In addition to junctioning nicely to Vitality, thereby increasing a character's resistance to physical damage, Meltdown can be cast on an enemy in order to reduce its Vitality to zero, making it literally defenseless against physical damage. Forget the Lionheart - with the Tornado/Meltdown combination, Squall can solo some of the early bosses with his starter weapon.
- Curaga is a high-level spell, junctions well to HP (like all healing/reviving magic), and can be refined from tents at a ratio of 10 spells from a single item. Each tent costs 1000 gil, so it's a bit pricey for the early game, but with a high-enough SeeD rank you'll be earning 10,000 gil or more per paycheck. Also, 100 Curagas junctioned to HP will give your characters 2200 HP above and beyond their unmodified stats, at a time when enemies will be lucky to hit triple-digit damage. Finally, while the Lionheart must wait until later on disc one, Curaga, like Tornado and Meltdown, is available before Squall even leaves on his first mission.
- Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: The Pandemona GF.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Doomtrain, natch.
- The Dragon: Seifer, first to Edea and then to Ultimecia. Also, Edea is at first, briefly, the Dragon to Vinzer Deling.
- 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 hot dog rolls which would, presumably, contain hot dogs 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.
- Dungeon Crawling
- 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 Togas Utopia 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. The plot doesn't really get rolling until the party deploys on their first mission the following day.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Edea.
- An Economy Is You: This is an RPG, so pretty much every shop sells stuff the player needs and can upgrade your weaponry.
- Egopolis: Deling City.
- Electric Torture: Used on Squall when the team is captured and being held in D-District Prison.
- Encounter Repellant: Diablos' Enc-Half and Enc-None abilities that reduce or stop random battles respectively.
- Enthusiasm vs. Stoicism: Epitomized in Rinoa and Squall and a source of conflict between them.
- Equipment Spoiler: A Weapons Monthly issue describing Rinoa and Irvine's weapons can be found before either of them is introduced (Rinoa does appear, but you don't learn who she is at that point).
- You could also buy ammo for Irvine's gun before you met him. Rather annoying, considering that Squall's weapon was a Gun Blade, which contrary to what one would assume, didn't use any ammo at all.
- Escape Sequence/Indy Escape: Dollet, with Squall, Zell, and Selphie running away from X-ATM092, and in D-District Prison, with Squall running away from the shifting panels on the bridge.
- Escape Pod: On the Lunar Base.
- 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 Is An I Pod In The Future: The entire city of Esthar looks like the first and second generation iMac, complete with transparent blue plastic.
- 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.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Zell's final Limit Break causes the enemy to spin.
- Evil Sorceress: Ultimecia and Adel, plus Edea while she's possessed.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Lunatic Pandora.
- Evolving Attack: GF compatibility. Using GFs raises their compatibility with the character using them and causes them to arrive faster when you summon them.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The aptly named 'Mean Guy' in Galbadia Prison. Also, Selphie's 'The End' Limit Break.
- Experience Points
- Extreme Omnivore: Anyone who uses the Devour skill. Edible objects include dragons, aliens, and mechas, and even things that will cause damage, petrification, death, or a game over if eaten are not safe. Devour can't be used on people, though. Even extreme omnivores have standards.
- Eye Beams: The first skill of Quistis's Limit Break is called "Laser Eye", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Through the hilarity of stock animations, she can upgrade to Machine Gun Eyes with the "Gatling Gun" skill.
- Eyepatch of Power: Fujin.
- The Faceless: The Balamb Garden staff, whose faces are always covered by their headgear.
- Facepalm: Squall does this, often.
- Facial Markings: Ultimecia. Also, Zell's tattoo.
- Fake Video Camera View: During the ending sequence.
- Fastball Special: Both the Granaldo boss and the GF Brothers make use of this when attacking.
- A Father to His Men: Cid.
- Femme Fatalons: Edea. Also, Ultimecia.
- Fetch Quest: The vase quest in Winhill and the rock gathering quest in Shumi Village.
- Fighting with Chucks: Selphie uses nunchucks as her weapon of choice.
- Finishing Move: Upgrading Squall's gunblade adds additional Finishing Moves to his Limit Break. Zell gets a few as well if you can get your hands on fighting magazines for him to read.
- On the enemies' side, there's the Esthar "Death Corps"' Soul Crush and the Forbidden's Iai Blow.
- Flash Back Echo: Squall's flashback to himself talking about his missing "Sis", which explains his mentality in the present.
- Pensieve Flashback: The present day version of the team members who were there are shown in the past during the orphanage revelation.
- Florence Nightingale Effect: Happens twice.
- First, in the past with Laguna and Raine. She falls in love with him while nursing him back to health.
- Second, although it's not nurse to patient, Squall finally realizes his feelings for Rinoa when she falls into a coma and is lying in the infirmary.
- Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Edea, the neckline on her dress.
- 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 1, 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.
- OH HEY, I'M THE MOON! Just wanted to stop by in every single background and let you know I'm the moon.
- The sequence of Selphie's The End Limit Break is nearly identical to the game's final scenes.
- Freudian Excuse: Just about all of Squall's mental issues stem from a mix of this and amnesia.
- Freudian Trio:
- Laguna: A smart yet impulsive and offbeat man who often makes reckless decisions. (Id)
- Kiros: Level-headed Deadpan Snarker who most often tries to get Laguna's head out of the clouds and back onto the mission at hand. (Superego)
- Ward: Respects the other two's opinions, but will side with whoever's actually making sense. (Ego)
- Friendly Sniper: Irvine.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Edea.
- 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.
- Even in the Japanese version, Her speech doesn't imply an accent or speech impediment, which is the only way she speaks funky one way and not when possessing anyone. It seems the English translation gave her an accent just for the hell of it.
- Dr. Odine as well: "Do you vant to take zis outside?! Do you vant to fisticuffs?!"
- Fusion Dance: With Griever in the final battle.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: Characters use their Limit Break outside of the battle system a few times. In the opening cutscene, Seifer casts a fire spell at Squall and then follows up with a sword slash, which is essentially his No Mercy limit break. Squall counters with his Renzokuken finisher Rough Divide. Later on, after the boss battle against Edea, she defeats Squall by firing an icicle spear that impales him through the shoulder. Later on, after she becomes a Guest Star Party Member, this is revealed to be her limit break, creatively named Ice Strike.
- 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: Quistis thinks so as evidenced by the gun on the vessel that she uses at Dollet. Also her appropriately named Gatling Good Limit Break.
- 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.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: During the SeeD exam at the beginning, Evolret shows up out of nowhere to dispose of Biggs and Wedge and attack the team. There are hints that it's actually an assassin sent back in time by Ultimecia to kill Squall before he even knows of his enemy.
- 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.
- Global Airship: The Ragnarok.
- The Glomp: Rinoa gives one to Squall when he meets her in Timber.
- Going Through the Motions: Squall's Facepalm in particular is iconic enough that it was reproduced in the Kingdom Hearts games.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Two of them. Fujin and Raijin. Biggs and Wedge.
- Good Morning, Crono: After the title sequence, the game proper begins with Squall awakening in Balamb Garden's infirmary.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: The recurring Buel creature has both bird and bat wings. In threes. And the bat wings are the bigger ones.
- Rinoa (in her second Limit Break form) and Ultimecia both possess wings. Rinoa's? Pure white and angelic. Ultimecia's? Black.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Zell uses his fists as his weapon of choice.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Squall and Seifer have mirror-image diagonal facial scars. Ward has a typical "tough guy" scar running down the entire left side of his face.
- Grotesque Gallery: Gerogero, the various sorceresses.
- Grand Theft Me: Ultimecia's specialty.
- 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.
- Gray and Grey Morality: As mentioned by Squall: "Right and wrong are not what separate us and our enemies. It's our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another. There's no good or bad side. Just two sides holding different views."
- Great Escape: The team does this getting out of D-District Prison.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The guards in D-District Prison and in the Galbadia Missile Base.
- The Gunslinger: Irvine uses a shotgun as his weapon of choice.
- Guest Star Party Member: Seifer and Edea.
- 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.
- Handshake Refusal:
- Squall does this quite a bit, most notably to Zell and to Zone.
- Everyone does this to Zell. It's one of the game's Running Gags.
- Hates Being Touched: Squall, though he doesn't actually hate it. He just says he's not used to it when Rinoa is sitting in his lap and has her arms wrapped around him.
- Haunted Castle: Although it's not haunted, Ultimecia's Castle definitely has this appearance from the outside.
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The Edea battle at the end of Disc 1, which the party loses even though Squall is the only one incapacitated by Edea's Limit Break.
- Heel-Face Turn: Edea.
- 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.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Squall, or rather heroes prefer gunblades.
- Herr Doktor: Dr. Odine.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Biggs and Wedge.
- Hidden Elf Village: Shumi Village; until you traverse the Great Salt Lake, there is hardly a hint of Esthar.
- High-Altitude Battle: The Battle of the Gardens and Squall's midair fight with a Galbadian paratrooper for a jetpack.
- Hit Points
- Hot Librarian: The library girl who likes Zell.
- 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.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Lunatic Pandora.
- An Ice Person: Edea.
- Ice Queen: Fujin.
- Idiot Hero: Laguna.
- 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.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Edea does this to Squall with her Limit Break.
- 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. Seifer mastered it because he saw a video of a sorceress' knight as a kid and wanted to emulate the style (and he's still rather blunt when using it). Various secondary media point out that Squall learned it because he was stubborn, and wanted to master the weird weapon when everyone else went to something more commonsense.
- There's also the fact that at the end of the game, Squall is sent back in time to his childhood orphanage. Aside from giving his adoptive parents the idea to form SeeD, the fact that he wielded a gunblade could have been Cid's inspiration in wanting him to be trained in its use. So in a sense, he gave himself the idea.
- 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).
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains: Biggs and Wedge.
- 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.
- Instant Fan Club: Quistis Trepe; her fans call themselves Trepies.
- 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 down a couple FLOORS to save Zell.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Ellone with her Uncle Laguna.
- 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. Seifer ultimately doesn't care.
- 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.
- It's All My Fault: Zell has a moment in Disc 1, after he inadvertently reveals that Seifer is affiliated with Balamb Garden right in front of the President of Galbadia, who Seifer has attacked and is holding hostage at the time. However, Quistis later reassures him that Garden is not being held responsible.
- It's Raining Men: Galbadia Garden uses this technique during both of their offensives during the Battle of the Gardens.
- Jerkass: Seifer, who has pretty much the same personality when he turns evil.
- Jerkass Façade: Squall. He gets better.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Seifer's Electric Torture on Squall in D-District Prison.
- Justified Tutorial: The Fire Caverns quest at the very beginning of the game.
- 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 unlocked Gilgamesh).
- Kick the Dog: Seifer does it early on. Not just figuratively, either.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Edea's murder of President Deling.
- Kill the Ones You Love: Averted, more or less, with Cid. He's fully prepared to send his and Edea's surrogate children to kill her, because he knows he's not capable of it himself, but it all works out in the end.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Ultimecia in her final One-Winged Angel form.
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.
- King of Games: The members of the Card Club in Balamb Garden, and the Queen of Cards.
- 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...
- Klingon Promotion: Edea after killing Vinzer Deling.
- La Résistance: The people of Timber are doing this against their occupation by Galbadia. Also, the people of Esthar are shown doing one against their ruler, Adel, in the flashbacks.
- Lady in Red: Ultimecia's default form.
- 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...
- Law of Cartographical Elegance: As is typical for an RPG, the world is nice and square.
- 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).
- Lethal Lava Land: The Fire Cavern.
- 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.
- Limit Break: One of the more easily-abused systems in the series. See the "Game Breaker" entry on the YMMV page for more details.
- Literal Cliff Hanger: Rinoa, hanging off the side of Balamb Garden during the Battle of the Gardens.
- Little People Are Surreal: Dr. Odine.
- 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 Dollet communications tower.
- Any item in D-District Prison.
- Any item in the Galbadia missile base.
- Any item in Galbadia Garden.
- Any item on the Esthar Lunar Base, one of which is a card that can only be gotten there.
- Lost in Translation:
- The Japanese version of Rinoa's confession in Galbadia Garden plays out a differently from the English translation, and includes a line referencing that indicates that she no longer likes Seifer:
Rinoa [Japanese]: "If I did I couldn't talk about it like this"
Rinoa [English]: "If I didn't, I wouldn't be talking about it."
- 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).
- Love Transcends Spacetime: Basically how Squall is revived after nearly being lost to the rebound against Time Compression. Extra Credit for combining this trope with Timey-Wimey Ball.
- Love Triangle: Subverted. The game initially seems to be setting one up involving Squall, Rinoa, and Seifer, particularly when Rinoa thinks back to the time she spent with Seifer the previous summer and confesses that she thinks she might have been in love with him. However, by the time all three of them are brought together, Squall and Rinoa are beginning to grow close to one another while Seifer has fallen under the sorceress's influence, to the point that there's never any actual romantic conflict involving the three of them.
- 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.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Galbadia's missile attack on Balamb Garden.
- Mad Scientist: Odine.
- Make-Out Point: The secret area in the Balamb Garden Training Center.
- 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.
- Man in White: The male White SeeDs and technically Seifer.
- Meganekko: Quistis. Unfortunately, only during FMVs.
- Mental Time Travel: Ellone's power.
- 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.
- Mildly Military: For an academy that produces the toughest and most elite soldiers in the world, Balamb Garden is surprisingly cozy and cheerful. And the music that plays while you're in there...
- 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.
- Military Academy: The Gardens.
- Milking the Giant Cow: Most of the characters do this at some point.
- 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.
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. Do that without turning into Jenova AND YOU SHOULD BE PERFECTLY FINE
- A close inspection of Eden could liken it to a Garden structure. Garden... Eden... anyone else seeing this?
- Minidress of Power: Selphie, and the female SeeD uniforms.
- 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.
- More Dakka:
- Once again, the gun on the landing vessel that Quistis uses in Dollet.
- Laguna's "Desperado" Limit Break. Irvine can hit this if he uses fast Ammo with his "Shot" Limit.
- Mr. Fanservice: Squall.
- Ms. Fanservice: Rinoa in her white dress, Julia, Selphie, Edea and Ultimecia.
- 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 3 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.
- Muggles Do It Better: Faced with an unkillable robotic warmachine that your team of One-Man Army soldiers and their summoned demigods can't stop? Break out the .50 cal machineguns.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Since Square's rendering abilities had progressed dramatically since VII, they rendered anything they could possibly find an excuse to render in FMV. Which works when it's a dramatic chase sequence featuring our heroes pursued by a giant mechanical spider, but tends towards the absurd when an elevator is given the same loving treatment.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: At level 100, the playable character with the highest unmodified strength stat in the game isn't Squall, Seifer, or Ward. It's Rinoa.
- 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.
- Mysterious Waif: Ellone.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Galbadia's initial plan bears resemblance to Nazi Germany's actions at the Munich talks in 1938; hold peace talks that are really just a guise for demanding concessions in order to ultimately Take Over the World.
- 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.
- New Era Speech: Edea's speech in Deling City.
- News Travels Fast: While typical for an RPG, in this case this it's notable because of the radio silence mentioned throughout the game.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Squall's efforts to revive Rinoa from a coma over the course of Disc 3 end up playing into the Big Bad's hands, as Ultimecia, controlling Rinoa, releases Adel from imprisonment as her stasis pod is dragged out of orbit by the Lunar Cry.
- No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: Characters always use the base model weapons in cutscenes, regardless of what model they've been upgraded to.
- 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-Action Guy: Cid.
- Non-Standard Game Over: Final Fantasy VIII LOVES these. There is at least one on each disc.
- The very first dungeon and the boss fight at the end of it are timed. The primary objective of this first mission is have as little time as possible at the end of the boss fight to help set up the team's initial SeeD ranking. If the timer expires before the player reaches the battle result screen after the boss, it's Game Over.
- After defeating Elvoret on the Dollet communications tower, another timer starts that counts down to the SeeD trainees evacuating the town. Squall and co are also being chased by X-ATM092, which will no doubt slow the player down. The timer requirement is an inverse of the first mission's timer, but failure to escape before it's expiration will still leave the team stranded and end the game.
- Subverted in a way with the train hijacking mission in Disc 1. If the player messes this up, they are given the option of either taking the Game Over or restarting the mission. If they choose to restart, however, they lose the opportunity to raise their SeeD rank, and being bad enough to fail at the train mission multiple times will reduce their SeeD ranking.
- When escaping the D-District Prison, there is a scene where the player has to guide Squall across a bridge. If they can't get Squall across the bridge, it's good night.
- Two at the Missile Base. Selphie's party MUST alter the missile coordinates, or else the player is treated to a fully animated cutscene of the missiles tearing up and obliterating Balamb Garden. Afterwards, the player has to rig the base to explode by choosing another time limit. Surviving on the lowest time limit will earn a SeeD promotion, but failure to defeat the boss of the base before the timer runs out will wipe out the party. This is much more complicated if the team has to take a So Much for Stealth option, since they will have to set the timer early.
- When Squall returns to Balamb Garden, he also has a time limit to activate the garden's flight capabilities before the aforementioned missile reach the garden, or the destruction scene plays despite the missiles being altered to fail.
- Subverted AGAIN with the paratrooper punching duel during the Battle of the Gardens. Losing gives the player the chance to retry, and unlike the train hijacking, there is no penalty for retrying.
- Being unable to save Rinoa in space.
- And the classic, the Adel boss fight at the start of Disc 4. Rinoa is an additional target in this battle that Adel will be sapping health off of. If she dies before Adel, the player loses the fight automatically regardless of the party's condition, and the game is over. This could leave the game Unwinnable by Mistake if the player was overdependent on GF's through the game.
- 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 they 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 the Intended Use: 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'.
- 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.
- The GF menu lists the GFs in two rows of eight.
- There are 4 pairs of color-coded propagators inside the Ragnarok.
- Obstructionist Pacifist: The community of Fisherman's Horizon in Final Fantasy VIII has a large proportion of pacifists amongst its citizens, and the Mayor, Dobe, tries to stop SeeD from fighting to defend the town from invading Galbadians in favour of attempting negotiation. He has no idea how to react when he learns the Galbadians are under orders to raze the town, nor when SeeD fights on his behalf and ends up saving his life.
- Occupiers out of Our Country: What the Timber resistance wants.
- Official Couple: Squall and Rinoa.
- 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.
- Onee-sama: Ellone to Squall.
- 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.
- Opening the Sandbox: Disc 2, when Balamb Garden lifts off. And of course getting the Ragnarok in Disc 3.
- Opposites Attract: Squall and Rinoa.
- Orchestral Bombing: Galbadia's attack on Dollet and the missile attack on Balamb Garden.
- One Head Taller: Raijin to Fujin.
- Orphanage of Love: The focus of the game's major plot revelation.
- 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.
- Parental Abandonment: Ellone. All of the playable characters except Rinoa, though she has a Missing Mom.
- Parental Substitute: Cid and Edea to the orphanage kids.
- 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.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Edea's, with the feather collar, and the cape with the arch on top. Accented by a bitchin' helmet with bird-beak visor and magical hair extensions, natch. Ultimecia also has one, only it's a lot sexier.
- Pink Means Feminine: Quistis and Ultimecia.
- Player Headquarters: Balamb Garden.
- Player Party
- Playing Sick: Zell uses this technique to help the team escape from D-District Prison. He has Selphie and Quistis lie down and act unconscious and tells the guard that a snake bit them.
- Point of No Return: There are two of these in Final Fantasy VIII. The first one is the door before the last Seifer boss fight in the Lunatic Pandora. Once he falls, he captures Rinoa, and takes her to Adel, ending Disc 3, and making it impossible to leave the Lunatic Pandora when Disc 4 loads up (Squall will refuse to board the Ragnarok), thereby forcing the player to complete the dungeon by taking out Adel, at which point Time Compression begins. After surviving the Time Compression boss fight, the player can return to the world map, but all areas with people in them are sealed off permanently. The second, and official, point of no return is the door to Ultimecia's throne room at the end of her castle; entering this door will start the lengthy Final Boss fight against Ultimecia.
- Police State: Galbadia; the Galbadian army occupied Timber, and briefly, occupied Balamb.
- 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.
- The Power of Love: A major theme of the game's plot.
- 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.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang: Fujin.
- 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.
- Private Military Contractors: SeeD.
- Protagonist Power-Up Privileges: Squall has more weapons than any other party member, and his Infinity+1 Sword can be acquired earliest.
- Punch Clock Villains: Fujin and Raijin.
- Putting the Band Back Together: The orphanage revelation reveals the team is actually doing this.
- Quest Giver: Various NPC's for the various sidequests.
- 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.
- Random Encounters
- A Real Man Is a Killer: All the male playable characters' Limit Breaks are purely offensive compared to the females' sans Edea.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Cid.
- Rebel Leader: Rinoa leads the Forest Owls at the beginning of the game.
- Rebellious Princess: Rinoa, although she's not an actual princess, the other Forest Owls nickname her "Princess", and she is the daughter of a high ranking government official.
- Red Herring: Zell is shown playing with a T-Board, claiming that it might be useful in SeeD missions someday. It doesn't.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Squall (Blue) and Seifer (Red). Biggs and Wedge are an even more blatant pair, complete with color coding. Also, Raijin and Fujin, though Raijin only has a red scarf.
- The Brothers GF, who sport color-coded bucklers and Caps Locked dialog accordingly (Sacred/Red/all caps, Minotaur/Blue/no caps).
- Redemption Earns Life: Raijin and Fuujin refuse to serve Seifer when they discover he is merely Ultimecia's pawn. The ending shows the three of them together, alive and well.
- Relax-o-Vision: The Devour ability cuts to a flower field, though you get crunching sound effects if you successfully eat the monster.
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Like the other games in the series, there are numerous examples, both characters and summons.
- 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.
- Resigned to the Call: Squall. Until Disk 3, anyway.
- 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.
- Rhythm Game: Renzokuken!
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Moombas.
- Right Under Their Noses: In the Galbadia Missile Base, though this can end up a So Much for Stealth situation.
- Rival Turned Evil: Seifer, who is also a Guest Star Party Member for exactly one mission.
- Rule of Cool: The reason the place is called "Fishermans Horizon" turns out to be this in-universe.
- Rule of Funny: Some of the Guardian Forces' animations, such as the Brothers, Cactuar, and Tonberry.
- Running Gag: No one ever wants to shake Zell's hand...
- Not to mention Zell never getting his hot-dogs. Until the ending, at least.
- Squall doesn't shake anybody's hand at first. So it's pretty significant that he shakes Rinoa's hand when they're first properly introduced in Timber.
- Squall's "whatever" Catch Phrase.
- Irvine acting smooth to the ladies. Also, Irvine hitting on Selphie and she acts either flustered or completely oblivious.
- Quistis finishing Squall's sentences.
- Safety In Indifference: This is Squall's viewpoint throughout most of the game. After growing up in an orphanage, and then watching everyone he cared about slowly go away one by one, he decided that if people were going to die or otherwise leave him alone, it was better to be alone in the first place to avoid he pain of losing them. He intentionally pushes everyone away to avoid developing bonds with them that would hurt to sever. It takes Rinoa to break him out of it.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Squall and Rinoa early on, though they both move closer to center as the game progresses.
- 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.
- Scenery Porn: Background bitmap detail compared to VII was cranked Up to Eleven.
- 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.
- School Nurse: Dr. Kadowaki.
- School Teachers: Quistis fits several sub-tropes.
- Screw The War, We're Partying: This seems to be Laguna's attitude in the first flashback sequence when he leaves Timber and goes to Deling City to see Julia peform.
- Screw This, We're Outta Here: Biggs and Wedge.
- 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. She's noticeably more conservative in her dress in flashbacks, although she keeps her updated outfit for the rest of the game as well.
- Serious Business: Triple Triad — though not in terms of the game's storyline, but because of its Gamebreaker status.
- She's All Grown Up: Ellone.
- 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.
- She's Got Legs: Selphie, Rinoa in her white dress and Ultimecia.
- Shifting Sand Land: Galbadia Desert, where D-District Prison is located, which is why it's named D (For Desert) District Prison.
- Shipper on Deck: During the Garden festival at Fishermans 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.
- Shock and Awe: Fujin.