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I saw you smiling at me
Was it real or just my Fantasy ♫
"Like you've been preaching, it would be wonderful if things could be settled by discussion. The only problem with that is that it takes too much time. Especially if the others are not willing to listen. So I believe that fighting is inevitable at times. It's really sad. That's all I have to say. I hope you understand someday. I think the world needs both people like you and people like us."
Squall
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Eighth entry in the break-dancingly popular Final Fantasy series.

Squall Leonhart attends an Elaborate University High known as a Garden. The organisation who run Balamb Garden, SeeD, take in pre-pubescent orphans and train them to become soldiers, requiring them to graduate before their twentieth birthday.

Squall (he's "more complex than you think"!) is an unflappable agent with more issues than National Geographic. He's the best at what he does, but his personal life is effectively zero, and he shuns the companionship of others. During his first mission as a SeeD, he's deployed to lend aid to a resistance movement fighting the expansionist nation of Galbadia. There he meets his opposite: Rinoa Heartilly, an Uptown Girl naive to the realities of battle. The cold war heats to a boil with the emergence of a mysterious new figurehead named Edea who unravels the secrets surrounding SeeD's unstated mission.

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VIII deals with the conflict between childhood and having being forced to "grow up", and the nostalgia for a simpler past and the fear of an uncertain future that goes hand-in-hand with that. The main characters were taught from a young age to suppress their emotions and free will for the sake of the mission, and even had their memories erased in some cases. Unfortunately, human emotion cannot be repressed so easily. The other theme, the one used for marketing, is love. In addition to various couples, the bonds between parents and children are examined, as well as between friends and siblings.


On a cosmetic note, this is where Final Fantasy began to eschew the Super-Deformed characters traditionally found on overworlds and battle screens, paired with sophisticated animations, Motion Capture and cinematography starring their (at the time) photorealistic renders. Additionally, Square took the localisation process much 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, which is now pretty much standard procedure for Final Fantasy translations. Finally, the in-game technology is on par with modern-day Earth: Squall pockets an hourly wage instead of killing monsters for gold (you get a raise for passing SeeD exams), can rent cars along with chocobos, post on internet forums, read magazines to glean protips (seriously) or learn new moves, and play a Card Battle Game. The characters are more grounded than the previous ones, the fantasy elements are either toned-down or explained away with technobabble, and the world is not too different.

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VIII took some major liberties with gameplay. Most JRPGs have separate systems that determine Character Levels, Equipment, Spell Lists, and so on. VIII replaced all of it with Summon Magic (here known as "Guardian Forces"). Try to follow us here:

  • The Mana Meter is gone, so your characters instead sap (or "Draw") magic directly from enemies in battle or specific "Draw Points" in towns and dungeons. These spells are stored in a quantified inventory.
  • GFs have their own growth paths, and although they can't be controlled in battle (as in X), they can gain levels and equip the magic you've found. Characters "junction" GFs and those corresponding spells onto their bodies. So instead of buying gear from shops to get stronger, you equip magic on specific stats to raise them: Junctioning Haste to a GF's Speed will make you act quicker, whereas junctioning Death to ST-Def (i.e. resistance to status effects) will make you immune to instant death attacks; conversely, junctioning Death to ST-Atk will inflict instant Death from a melee attack. Obviously, the more magic equipped on a GF, the stronger the effect.
  • GFs also determine which skills you can use in fights: To do things like "Mug", cast or Draw magic, or even Summon GFs, you need your GF to equip that move. You unlock new skills by finding new GFs. Your heroes are helpless to do much on their own besides "Attack" or use Limit Breaks.
  • Most GFs can "Refine" things, which is a form of Item Crafting. Just about every piece of Vendor Trash, magic spell, and (in some cases) Triple Triad card can be converted to and from each other, forming a complicated system with huge amounts of potential... and mind-boggling amounts of menus. Mastering the aformentioned card game lets you Refine Disc One Nukes, like rare items and weapon parts.

Additionally, no equipment can be found. Characters can upgrade their weapons with magazine articles and items, but no other gear can be equipped whatsoever. Modern Final Fantasy games continue to tinker with the "no armor" approach, most notably X and XIII. On a minor note, monsters use Level Scaling to beef up relative to the party average, which makes Level Grinding no longer a viable way to overcome challenges—though the time spent on Drawing magic can balance that out, and more. The upside is that the player has granular control over the difficulty level, making this one of the easiest sequels with which to Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game, or (conversely) attempt a Self-Imposed Challenge.

A huge part of the game is Triple Triad, the collectible card game played by NPCs in every town. It was so popular in and of itself that it inspired a real-life version, and later a Spiritual Successor called Tetra Master in Final Fantasy IX and XI. Triple Triad was also added to Final Fantasy XIV by popular demand, and it plays pretty much the same way, but without the item refinement and adding some new rules. It is also available on smartphones, though under the guise of the "Final Fantasy Portal" app.

Originally released on PlayStation and home computer in 1999, and ported to the Play Station Network for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and Play Station Vita. The PC version later got a Steam re-release on December 5th 2013. An updated port for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch titled Final Fantasy VIII Remastered came out on September 3, 2019, marking twenty years since the original came out.


This game provides examples of:

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    A-I 
  • 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 is the initial main setting for the party and is military academy. It is able to adventure itself once it becomes mobile.
  • Achievement Mockery: There is a achievement on the Steam version, as well as Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, for losing a rare card in Triple Triad. Then again, you have to lose specific rare cards to the Queen of Cards to advance her sidequest, so completionists will have to get this sooner or later. (Though technically, one could still avoid it with extremely careful application of the Direct rule, in which the game ends by awarding the cards to whoever's hand they're in at the end of the match. But this is way more trouble than it would ever be worth.)
  • Action Prologue: The opening cinematic shows Squall and Seifer in a very dramatic looking duel.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: X-ATM092 will chase after the party once deployed. When it enters combat, it needs to be stunned before the party can flee from it. Additionally, it also has a few tricks to force combat such as jumping ahead of the party.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: Rinoa states that as soon as the party's ready, she'll begin 'serious negotiations' with the Galbadian president, Vinzer Deling.
    Squall: [facepalming] "Serious negotiations"... Better make sure my GF's equipped...
  • The Alcatraz: D-District Prison is in the middle of a desert and can elevate itself using land-boring drills to prevent escape.
  • All in a Row: Earlier games in the series only showed one character at a time. This was the first title to show the entire party walking around together. Lampshaded during the missile base mission: a guard will tease you for walking in a single file if you choose to "act cool."
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Gunblade. Many people thought it was made up for the game but versions of this weapon actually did exist in real life. The functionality of the game's gunblade is described as a form of Vibro Weapon and it has no ranged capability. This is unlike the real-world attempts at gun/sword hybrids meant to combine the range of a firearm with the melee utility of a bladed weapon.
  • Always Save the Girl: Squall eventually has this revelation with regards to his relationship with Rinoa.
    Squall: Rinoa...... Even if you end up as the world's enemy, I'll... I'll be your knight.
  • Animal Theme Naming: The Timber resistance groups such as the Forrest Owls and Forrest Fox.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • As Quistis is needed to be talked to as an NPC within the Balamb Garden cockpit in order to rechallenge the match of Triple Triad against her, if she happens to be within your party when you go to the cockpit, she would automatically walk to the position she would normally be as an NPC and resume her functions.
    • You start the game with two Guardian Forces, and the Noob Cave involves unlocking a third. Five more can be Drawn from plot bosses. If you're playing the original Japanese version, they are Lost Forever... but in the English localization, they can also be Drawn from bosses in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. (Of the remaining 7 GFs, all are available during the Wide Open Sandbox portion of the game, both before and after entering said Final Dungeon... though getting out of it again is obscure.)
    • The Remastered version adds a couple of features under the thumbsticks: L3 now increases the game's framerate by 300%. R3, meanwhile, is the "Remove all challenge" button: when pressed, your characters automatically heal to full HP and will do so whenever attacked, Limit Breaks are available at all times (as though Aura had been cast), and their Speed is increased to such an absurd quantity that the ATB bar fills instantaneously. While this makes battles absurdly easy, the two buttons, especially together, also make the entire spell-grinding process way faster: when you're getting tons of turns and the whole game is overclocked, you can stock up on hundreds of spells in a snap. Plus, both buttons are toggles, so you can turn them off when you're done and get back to playing the game without God Mode on your side.
  • 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.
  • Arc Words: "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" can be heard in various musical pieces from the opening FMV to the absolute Final Battle. It's a fake-Latin anagram of the game's two intertwining themes: "Love" and the "Succession of Witches".
  • 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.
  • The Artifact: Save files for Final Fantasy VIII Remastered still specify "Disc 1," "Disc 2," etc., even though the game is no longer issued on CD-ROMs. They're also distributed between two separate "memory card" folders.
  • Artificial Gravity: Esthar Lunar Base and the Ragnarok. The latter has a scene where it's turned off, causing Rinoa to float.
  • 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.
  • Background Music Override:
    • For the opening FMVs of the Dollet Field Exam, "The Landing" plays and continues to play during random encounters for the first portion.
    • Once the alarm is raised when escaping from D-District Prison, "Never Look Back" starts playing, and keeps playing during the random encounters. In the second half of the prison, the track switches to "Only a Plank Between One and Perdition", only stopping at the boss battle.
    • During the Battle of the Gardens, "Only A Plank Between One and Perdition" plays once again.
  • 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.
  • Bad Mood as an Excuse: One gets the impression from the message programmed into the robotic dummy of President Vinzer Deling that the real Deling makes use of this a lot, given how convincing the dummy is.
    Deling Dummy: I'm in a bad mood right now! If there is nothing in particular, I order you to leave immediately!
  • Bag of Holding: The party can access stacks of 99 of dozens of items at any given time and a copy of all of their unique weapons without having more than a couple of pockets.
  • Bag of Sharing:
    • Laguna's party and the main party share access to the same collection of Guardian Forces, stocked magic, and items, and anything that Laguna and his friends acquire during the Mental Time Travel sequences stays in the main party's inventory when they wake up.
    • Guardian Forces, stocked magic, and items are also freely shared during instances in which the main party splits up, including when Squall goes into space.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Biggs and Wedge on the Dollet Communications Tower. They're blown away (literally by wind) and replaced by the much stronger Elvoret.
  • Batman Gambit: The heroes actually use this on Ultimecia, although Ultimecia had gotten them with one earlier. Possessing Rinoa and putting her into a coma so that she could go into space and free the most powerful sorceress in the world... nobody could see it coming.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Cid promotes Squall to Commander of SeeD based on Edea's foreknowledge of Squall's role in defeating Ultimecia. Squall in turn tells the other SeeDs at Balamb Garden that it is their destiny to fight the sorceress, and tells the past Edea that she will found SeeD for that purpose. The Stable Time Loop means that there's a lot of Because Destiny Says So running around the plot; Ultimecia, possessing Edea, also identifies Squall as "the legendary SeeD destined to face me".
  • Beehive Barrier:
    • Balamb Garden gets one during the scene where it becomes mobile. However, it doesn't actually act as a force field. It's just part of the sequence that occurs while the Garden begins moving.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 a hollowed-out 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.
  • Bonus Boss: Omega Weapon was added to this game along with series staple Ultima, and it's one of the best-remembered "superbosses" in gaming. Most likely because he requires intimate knowlege of the game mechanics. There's no guaranteed way to win which doesn't involve 9,999 HP, protection against Death, and Refining a hundred Megalixers so you don't get one-shotted by him. Properly-Junctioned Limit Breaks are a cheap way to demolish him, but their success is sometimes dependant on the RNG.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Deep Sea Research Facility and the Centra Ruins.
  • Boss Banter: Several bosses talk to the party during the fight; Edea, Seifer, NORG, Fujin and Raijin, Biggs and Wedge, Fake President Deling.
  • 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 Corridor: This precedes all but the first boss of the Lunatic Pandora, acts like this twice for Edea's Commencement Room (the first visit at the end of Disc 1 to save Rinoa from two Iguions and then again after Lunatic Pandora but before the multi-sorceress Time Compression fight at the start of Disc 4), and a bridge connects the last explorable area of Ultimecia's Castle, the Clock Tower, with her throne room, which is the final Point Of No Return and where the final boss fight of the game takes place.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerize: Two small examples in the NA version: an undead boss had its guts changed from red to blue, and a bloodstain in Ultimecia's castle was changed from red to green.
  • 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.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Early on, Cid espouses that he doesn't want SeeD to just blindly follow orders and wants them to think for themselves, and other characters comment on the perception that SeeD mercenaries will do anything they're told by their commanders, which makes the party uncomfortable. However, earlier in the game during the SeeD exam, the player is penalized for not following orders or trying to do things without being told to, and Seifer doing so is why he fails the exam. Later, Squall is appointed the leader of Balamb Garden's forces by Cid with no one giving him a chance to refuse, even though he clearly is uncomfortable with the responsibility. And then it turns out at the end of the game that due to a Stable Time Loop, Because Destiny Says So has been in effect all this time, so the party didn't really have control over their own actions anyway.
    • Squall believes in Grey-and-Gray Morality, thinking that there is no such thing as good and evil, just different viewpoints that divide people. The game's villains and its treatment of them don't hold up to that standard — they show no interest in reasoning with or understanding Seifer's Face–Heel Turn, Adel is just a Generic Doomsday Villain tyrant, and Ultimecia's ultimate goal is a Time Crash and Dr. Odine dismisses any speculation as to why she wants to achieve that.
  • 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.
  • Caged Inside a Monster: Adel, the first boss of the story's last fourth, imprisons Rinoa on their chest at the beginning of the battle to periodically drain HP from as well use as a Human Shield. Rinoa not only takes damage from Adel's HP drain, but can be deliberately targeted, will get caught in any AOE attack you launch, and can eventually die from all that, resulting in a Nonstandard Game Over.
  • Canis Latinicus:
    • Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec. Looks more or less like Latin; actually a Significant Anagram.
    • The painting/clock puzzle in the final dungeon has somewhat broken Latin.
  • 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':
    • Showing off your Gunblade in the Classroom Area (where weapons are prohibited) will instantly result in you getting caught by Garden Faculty and being deducted points from the SeeD exam.
    • From the instant you put your Garden Cadet uniform until you are dismissed after the completion of the mission, you are being closely monitored. Run away from too many fights? Go out of your way to talk to people instead of focusing on the mission? Disobey an order given by your squad leader? They'll know, and your Final Exam score (and initial SeeD Rank) will suffer for it.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cap: Lampshaded with a middle-aged man who mentions that, for some reason, he's unable to count more than 256 cats.
  • Celebrity Resemblance/No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Tetsuya Nomura mentioned in an interview about The Bouncer that Squall was inspired by the late River Phoenix and that "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 features in multiple games only makes the resemblance even easier to notice.
    • Most fans believe Cid bears a strong resemblance to Robin Williams.
  • Central Theme: The entire game deconstructs the Child Soldier trope, showing how emotionally stunted, immature, and unstable a person would actually be if they were taken in by a military academy as a child and raised for combat. Reconnecting with one's past to overcome trauma and realize who they truly are is also a major theme.
  • The Chanteuse: Julia Heartilly, from the flashback sequences.
  • Character Level: Characters start in the single digits but can end up at level 100. But that just makes the enemies harder.
  • Character Tics: When he's nervous, Laguna's left leg cramps up and he starts to limp.
  • 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.
    • The fact that Zell uses his fists instead a conventional weapon for battles meant he was the only one able to defend himself against hostile opponents within D-District Prison after the other party members had their weapons taken away from them. He uses this opportunity to fetch the confiscated weaponry for the other party members.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The girl who appears at the beginning of the game in the infirmary and later appears again in the Training Center.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Zell, Selphie, Seifer, and Laguna are all theatrical characters. They would've been Large Hams if the game had voice acting.
  • 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 because they've been training to kill whoever they're paid to since the ages of 6 and 5, respectively.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Seifer does this to Squall in D-District Prison.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity:
    • Subverted with Selphie's "The End" Limit Break that, 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).
    • Played Straight with other attacks, such as Quistis's "Degenerator" Limit Break or the Level 5 death spell always miss against bosses.
    • Odin 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.
  • 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 Boat: Balamb Garden's landing vessels and later, Balamb Garden itself.
  • Cool Starship: Instead of a regular airship, you get Ragnarok, a spaceship.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 halt 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.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Selphie and Laguna.
  • 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 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.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Outside of battles, the characters are unable to do things during the story that they can easily do in battle, such as summoning GFs.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss / Marathon Boss: Omega Weapon, Ultima Weapon, Tonberry King, Jumbo Cactuar, Ultimecia's four forms.
  • Dances and Balls: The SeeD gratuation ball.
  • Dance of Romance: Squall dances with Rinoa during the graduation ball.
  • Dance of Romance:
  • 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.
  • Dead Hat Shot: More accurately, "Dead Sword and Feather Shot", as the Game Over screen shows Squall's broken gunblade with one of Rinoa's feathers.
  • Death from Above: The Lunar Cry.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Deconstructs the Kid Hero by way of overt comparison to Child Soldiers. Your party of heroic 16- and 17 year-olds is just as mentally damaged and scarred as child soldiers tend to be in real life, not helped by using Phlebotinum which erases their memories, thus taking time to deconstruct the Amnesiac Hero as well.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    [later]
    Squall: Thanks to you, I feel like I can take on anyone, even if they fight dirty like you.
    Seifer: You'll thank me when the time comes.
  • 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 was to keep one or more characters at minimal health and refresh the command menu until the Limit Break popped up.
  • 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.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • After a certain point within the game, party members not in your team at the moment can be found wandering around Balamb Garden on their own. This includes Squall himself who normally can't be switched out due to his Can't Drop the Hero status (He can be found sleeping in his dorm). This is demonstrated exactly once during the entire game where it makes sense plotwise (due to it showing Squall being there beforehand).
    • If the player decides to use cheats to make their party permanently invincible in the battle against Ultimecia's First form, she will cast Dispel which will override and remove the effect anyways.
    • As seen in Muscles Are Meaningless, Rinoa is the Player Character with the highest unmodified strength stat in the game. Although, this is likely to compensate for the fact 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 increase her stats through said bonuses. In the story, at that point Rinoa is a Sorceress so her sudden stat increase fits with that.
    • During your second visit to Esthar, there's a soldier hanging out on one screen who, when talked to, starts laughing maniacally, and thereafter transforms into an Elnoyle boss. He regenerates if you leave the screen and come back. The Elnoyle is one of the only sources for the Energy Crystal, which you may need as many as eight of if you're intent on Item Crafting everyone's best weapons, and which also refines into the Ultima spell. This does not exempt you from a great deal of grinding, but it's better than running around on the Peninsula of Power Leveling and hoping for the Random Number God to smile on you.
  • Diesel Punk: Though a bit brighter than Final Fantasy VII.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: In universe, gunblades are considered this. Apparently, it takes much skill and practice to become proficient with one. Squall, Seifer and Laguna are the only ones shown to have shown ability with one, with Laguna noting that he hasn't used one since basic training. When Squall becomes a SeeD, Cid notes that they finally have a gunblade specialist, implying that Squall is the first SeeD to use one. This difficulty is represented in gameplay by requiring the player to push R1 as Squall strikes for extra damage. You can set it to automatic, but manual gunblade triggering does more damage. In-game, the Gunblade never misses (it has max accuracy at 255), meaning that a gunblade expert is effectively a combat master (even Zell's fists miss occasionally).
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Edea. She's also the Disc Two Final Boss, and her knight Seifer is the Disc Three Final Boss, which is also the last time you fight him.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: Deling City, then Galbadia Garden, then Lunatic Pandora.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The "Weapons Monthly" magazines that tell you what ingredients are necessary to craft a certain weapon aren't actually a requirement for the same. That is, if you remember the recipe from a previous playthrough or just look it up in a guide, you can craft a given weapon in a junk shop as soon as you can get the ingredients. This means you can get everyone's best weapons (and Irvine's second best) as early as right before the final events Disc 1, and yes, this includes crafting Squall's Infinity +1 Sword if you go for a low-level playthrough and then kiss the difficulty goodbye. The tricky part is that it requires a lot of patience and card matches, the willingness to Refine an unique card for Adamantinesnote , as well as detailed knowledge of how to get the items needed. For example, crafting Rinoa's "Shooting Star" all but requires beating the Spider Tank Time-Limit Boss (and a bit of luck or Save Scumming) as it has a 25% chance to drop a Force Armlet.
    • 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.
    • Speaking of Card Mod, pay attention when a unique card can be converted into three of something. Those are always items that teach skills to your GFs, many of them are endgame ones and even several that only one GF will ever learn on their own. For example, the Kiros card can be Modded into 3 Accelerators, which teach the Auto-Haste passive skill that otherwise can only be learned by Cerberus at a total cost of whooping 620 APnote .
    • 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, 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. (Relatedly, Bio and Break can be refined from Antidotes and Softs. They provide some of the strongest STR and MAG bonuses in the game, typically remaining viable through Disc 3.)
    • If you keep your levels low through carding, normal monsters will keep damaging you as though you are at a low level. Boost your stats through junctioning powerful spells (gained through card playing and refining), and you can take hits like a lower level character, but hit like a higher level one.
    • Limit breaks are enabled when your current HP is a quarter of your max HP or less. Unjunction all spells from your HP stat so it lies at 700 or so, meaning limit breaks will kick in when you're at 170 or less (when normal enemies will hit for 30-40 HP damage per round). Heal yourself to full HP, which is at 700 or so. Then junction 100 Curaga to your HPs, raising your max HP to 3000 or so, meaning your normal max HP, where you are pretty safe from enemy attacks for another 10-20 rounds, will still see limit breaks enabled.
    • Carbuncle's RecovMed-RF ability unlocks an infinite Gil exploit: 4 Tents can be bought for 4000G, refined into a Mega-Potion, and sold for 5000G. Though undeniably time-consuming, it places the Curaga/Tent trick mentioned above definitively within your reach. Carbuncle is drawn during the Boss Rush at the end of Disc 1, so it technically counts even if you won't be able to teach it RecovMed-RF until Disc 2.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: The Pandemona GF.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Doomtrain, natch.
  • Door of Doom:
    • This is the entrance to Ultimecia's tower at the end of the game, with stone skulls and torches around it. Going through this start a lecture by her, which goes immediately into the final battle of the game.
    • Also the actual entrance to her castle, which opens to release mist out of it (it has the same opening sound effect as the final boss door).
  • 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.
  • Driving Question: Who is Ellone and What is SeeD's true mission. One of Squall's more charming moments is when he states that SeeD formed the Gardens to spread peace like flowers all over the world—while he's being tortured for information.
  • 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?: You're not too important to run 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Pocketstation, 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Eaten Alive: Guardian Force Eden has the Devour ability, which gives you the ability to do this to monsters. The actual devouring is censored by stock footage of a relaxing meadow.
  • An Economy Is You: Every shop sells things that the party needs or can upgrade their weaponry. Bookstores sell magazines with weapon upgrade schematics and techniques for Zell and Rinoa's Limit Breaks, and even the pet stores in Timber and Esthar sell Guardian Force items.
  • Egopolis: Deling City, named after the president Vinzer Deling.
  • Electric Torture: Used on Squall when the team is captured and being held in D-District Prison.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: When Connected to the main characters, the Laguna trio become Persons Of Mass Destruction on account of being SeeD-class, GF-empowered fighters seventeen years before there were any SeeDs.
  • 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 Pod: On the Lunar Base.
  • 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.
  • 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 helped raise Ellone, who ends up as Edea's orphanage.
    • 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. Ironically, it would be Squall who would achieve Seifer's dream, by being Rinoa's knight in her goal of liberating Timber, among other things.
  • 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 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.
  • Extreme Omnivore:
  • 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.
  • The Faceless: The Balamb Garden staff, whose faces are always covered by their headgear.
  • Fake Action Prologue: The opening cinematic shows Squall and Seifer having a duel which is edited together with lots of dramatic cuts while the main theme plays. But it's merely a training exercise gone too far.
  • Fake Video Camera View: During the ending sequence.
  • Family Theme Naming: Laguna (lake), Raine, and Squall (violent wind).
  • Fastball Special: Both the Granaldo boss and the GF Brothers make use of this when attacking.
  • Fetch Quest: The vase quest in Winhill and the rock gathering quest in Shumi Village. The latter is lampshaded upon its completion: Squall deduces that Sculptor doesn't actually need the various stones to finish his statue of Laguna, and Sculptor admits that it was an excuse to have the party tour the village (and, it's implied, give them a break from the constant battles of the main plotline).
  • Fighting with Chucks: Selphie uses nunchucks as her weapon of choice.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Squall gets a water Family Theme Naming going with his father Laguna, while Seifer has a fire affinity in his set of Limit Breaks, Fire Cross.
  • Flashback
    • 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.
  • Flower Motifs: All over the place. From the characters' base of operations being called Garden, to their group being called SeeDs. Both of the game's opening and closing montages also happen in an actual garden.
  • 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...
  • Foreshadowing:
    • 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.
    • In the same room where the Forest Owls explains their kidnapping plans with the train models, there is a bulleting board with articles from a magazine called "Anarchist Monthly" on Vinzer Deling. In particular, the D-District prison and Galbadia's new missile technology are mentioned.
    • The sequence of Selphie's "The End" Limit Break is nearly identical to the game's final scenes.
    • Anyone savvy enough to know "Cid" is a name within the Final Fantasy franchise usually given to someone associated with airships may take this as a hint that the game's equivalent to the airship, or at least one of them, is Balamb Garden itself (of which, the Cid of this game is the headmaster to).
    • During the fourth Laguna flashback, Ellone explicitly tells Squall one can't change the past. Changing the past (or, more accurately, her fate of dying to Squall) is exactly what the Big Bad of the game (who happens to be a sorceress from the future) wants to do. It's easy to see how this would end...
    • The fifth flashback portraying Laguna being at Esthar has a fellow slave tell Laguna he'd make a great leader of Esthar simply because of how much he cares for others. He eventually does.
    • The observant may realize on first sight that the man in the spacesuit on the Lunar Base (AKA the President of Esthar) is Laguna by his animations alone.
    • An observant player may also notice the mural of Winhill in the presidential palace.
    • When you pass by the outdoor Timber TV screen you can notice a message in the garbled text... It's Adel calling out from her prison demanding to not be forgotten; "I'm alive. Bring me back there. I'll never let you forget me."
  • Forgotten First Meeting: The main characters sans Rinoa grew-up in the same orphanage that Edea and Cid ran. They just forgot about it due to the side effect of constant GF use. Irvine is the only one who remembers since he hasn't use a GF until he joins you.
  • Freudian Excuse: Just about all of Squall's mental issues stem from a mix of this and amnesia.
  • Freudian Trio: Laguna, Kiros and Ward.
    • 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)
  • 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.
    • 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: Ultimecia 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.
    • A much smaller example regarding Rinoa's Limit Break: During the time Squall and Rinoa are in space, the latter's dog Angelo is on Earth with Zell and the rest of the group; since Rinoa's "Combine" ability involves utilizing her pup for attacks, Combine isn't available until she and Squall return to the surface, which is probably an attempt to make the player notice and subsequently use Rinoa's new Limit Break, "Angel Wing," which uses her newfound Sorceress Powers.
    • The moon stone item only becomes available when a bunch of monsters comes down from the moon.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation
    • In-game information indicates that sorceresses have the inherent ability to use magic without any outside aids such as Guardian Forces. The sorceresses who join the party have to use a junction and stocked magic just like any other party member (except while using limit breaks). In Edea's case this could be explained by the fact that she's no longer a sorceress by the time she becomes playable in-game, she shows no awareness that there's been a change and still has the use of the ice-element Limit Break she used on Squall in Disc 1. In Rinoa's case, the only time she could use magic without any aid is through the use of her "Angel Wing" limit break. This gives her unlimited access to any offensive spells she's equipped with, notably without depleting her stocks, at the expense of being within a state of berserk.
    • 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, Selphie attempts to draw-cast Cure during a cutscene at the D-District prison.
    • Speaking of the prison sequence, you're told that there's an anti-magic field in the prison that prevents magic from being cast properly. As mentioned, Selphie attempts to use cure, but it doesn't work very well. As such, they say that they have to rely on their weapons, so it's up to Zell, since he uses his fists as his weapons. However, the second you gain control of Zell, he has full access to and use of magic, and so do your other characters during the battle with Biggs and Wedge. Afterwards, when you leave the cell, an announcement comes on that the anti-magic field will be lifted. This, however, doesn't explain why your characters were able to use magic before it was lifted.
    • During the final dungeon, which takes place After the End, someone still pays you your hourly salary. Who?
  • 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-Equal Ensemble: There are six playable characters, divided equally for each gender. There are also two Guest Star Party Members throughout the game with the same ratio.
  • 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.
  • Ghost Train: The Doomtrain, according to help guides, which has its own summon attack: Runaway Train, which makes it crash into enemies.
  • 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, Elvoret shows up out of nowhere to dispose of Biggs and Wedge and attack the team.
  • Gigantic 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Gotta Kill Em All: The various GFs that you have to fight and defeat before obtaining.
  • 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.
    • Lagunam, Kiros, and Ward does this in Esthar during the final "dream sequence". Laguna even lampshades it.
      Laguna: Jail Break!
  • The Greatest Style: The gunblade is noted in universe to be hard-to-master weapons, and the only practitioners we see are 2 people: the hero Squall and his rival Seifer.
  • Grotesque Gallery: Gerogero, the various sorceresses.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The guards in D-District Prison and in the Galbadia Missile Base.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Seifer, Laguna, Kiros, Ward 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. (You're told that Esthar is on the other end of the Horizon Bridge, upon which FH is built, but it's in a throwaway comment which players could be forgiven for overlooking; and the Infirmary part just plain comes out of nowhere.)
    • The Tonberry King GF. There are very few clues in the game that it even exists, let alone how to get it.
    • Ditto for the Doomtrain GF. You'll likely piece most of it together through Occult Fan magazines (and good luck knowing they exist); but the third item needed to summon him (hint: Remedy+, an item which must be crafted via Alexander's MedLVUp ability) has eluded some players on their first runs.
    • 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?
    • Obtaining the PuPu card requires you to encounter the UFO in four different places. You must then go to a fifth location and fight the UFO, destroy it, then feed the PuPu five elixirs. Other than a brief mention in one of the Occult Fan magazines (which are primarily hints on getting Doomtrain), there's nothing in the game explaining any of this.
    • Obtaining Quistis's final Blue Magic Shockwave Pulsar. First and foremost, you have no idea what item gives it, so that's a treat. The way to get it is that you have to use a Dark Matter item. Said item comes from refining 100 Curse Spikes, a drop from Tri-Face, via Tool-RF. The sucker-punch in this though is that Siren herself has to be level 100 in the original PSX version (in a game that discourages grinding, mind you) in order to be able to refine those items. The in-game tutorial only states that Siren can refine the items, but not the level stipulation. In addition, the player wouldn't likely think of it either as no GF other then Doomtrain has a level requirement on their abilities either. It's no wonder the developers got rid of the level requirements for Refining in latter versions of the game.
    • Even the short and low-award Winhill sidequest, where you have to find and collect the pieces of a broken vase around the village, has an element of this. You're given no clue that you have to have Irvine in your party to find one of the pieces. To add insult to injury, the piece in question is closest to the NPC that gives you the quest and is in an otherwise very conspicuous spot.
  • 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 overarching 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.
      • Including Zone immediately after Squall does it to him.
  • Haunted Castle: Although it's not haunted, Ultimecia's Castle definitely has this appearance from the outside.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Seifer's "romantic dream" of being a Sorceress Knight. He's talking in the classical definition of chivalric romance, a genre and time where to love someone meant to be loyal to them, as a knight would proclaim his love for his king. Seifer grew up a fan of films about heroic Knights that protected Sorceresses from harm, and wants to be just like them. In summary, Seifer's "romantic dream" is to become an Ascended Fanboy and be a Sorceress Knight, which is why he goes with Edea and becomes so devoted to her. But without the knowledge of what "romantic" means in the chivalric sense, and without Seifer's history with old films ( which is only explained in the game's guidebook), it comes off as him talking about romantic love, which is wildly out of character and makes no sense within the narrative.
  • 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.
  • 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. You can also name Squall's ring, which also determines the name of a certain boss.
  • 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: As usual. You can increase them by leveling up or junctioning magic onto them.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Potential meta example. If Gilgamesh shows up while you're fighting Adel and uses Zantetsuken (or causes enough damage with one of his other swords), bye-bye Rinoa and hello Game Over.
  • Horns of Villainy: Edea and Ultimecia both have curved horns on their headdresses. Edea's are fairly small while Ultimecia's are almost as long as her arms and emphasize her inhuman appearance even more than her wings.
  • Hot Witch: Aside from Adel, every sorceress introduced are certified knock-outs.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Ball: Quistis shoots down Rinoa's suggestion to alter the assassination plan against Edea, but once she, Zell, and Selphie are preparing for their part of the plan, she starts feels guilty about being rude to Rinoa and decides that she must go back to the mansion and apologize immediately, despite the severe importance of the mission and the extremely limited time frame to pull it off in. But upon returning she manages up locking herself and her group in the mansion when Rinoa (who never even saw her) accidentally springs a trap. It's nothing short of a miracle that Quistis' group found a way out of the mansion in time to perform its mission.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Lunatic Pandora.
  • 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.
    • The recurring Wendigo creature does basketball moves USING your party.
  • 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 twice over, in quick succession:
    • First, she does it to President Deling, skewering him through the chest with her arm before casually tossing his corpse to the side.
    • Then, she does it to Squall with her Limit Break, impaling him through the shoulder. This time, the injuries were not lethal, and Squall and his friends end up jailed in the D-District Prison.
  • 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%- no sorry, 255% 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.
  • Inescapable Ambush: The area prior to the boss fight against Ultima Weapon in the Deep Sea Research Center has numerous set encounters against tricky enemies like Tri-Faces, Behemoths, Iron Giants, and Ruby Dragons at unavoidable fixed points. If the party leaves the area before defeating Ultima Weapon, the set encounters will be reactivated and the player will have to fight them all over again to get to the boss chamber. However savvy players are known to leave the Bonus Boss very well alone and get the GF Eden in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon instead just so they can trigger these encounters at will. The reason is they all rare enemies with excellent items in their drop/mug tables, which makes farming them in a time-efficient a lot more attractive prospect. Particularly stealing Curse Spikes from the Tri-Faces, which can be refined into a super useful Dark Matter at a rate of 100-to-1.
  • 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.
  • Informed Ability: The Queen of Cards' card skills are so respected that any new rule she adopts soon spreads among the populace wherever she is playing. However, upong playing with her, she doesn't use powerful cards or a better AI than most opponents you can find (this is most noticeable when trying to deliberately lose a card against her).
  • 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.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • You'll know that Squall's instructor Quistis will eventually become a permanent member of your team when she doesn't disappear from your list of party members even when absent. Similarly, you know Rinoa would eventually join the party some time after being formally introduced (and named) because she also appears within the party list.
    • When the player regains control of Rinoa on Ragnarok for the first time, they may notice that she has a new magic-related limit break called "Angel Wing". This is the first indication that she has become a sorceress.
  • 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.
  • Item Farming:
    • A variation. Magic in this game works like a kind of item, and the easiest way to get it is to Draw from a monster. Accordingly, many players will tell tales of spending a couple hours drawing endless Fire spells from Bite Bugs.
    • The more conventional form is also found in the game, due to the importance of Item Crafting to generate magic and weapons. Have fun killing Bite Bugs for hours to churn out M-Stone Pieces, or Elastoids so you can get that Steel Pipe to upgrade your rifle!
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Neglect to set the missiles' error ratio in the Missile Base to maximum, and as you exit the base, you get to see Balamb Garden going kaboom.
  • It's Raining Men: Galbadia Garden uses this technique during both of their offensives during the Battle of the Gardens.

    J-R 
  • 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.
  • Kick the Dog: X-ATM092 will mindlessly chase after the party, without care of whatever it crushes. Allowing X-ATM 092 to harm the dog causes a penalty to the SeeD rank score.
  • Killer Bunny: One beach-dwelling monster is a sand-swimming, flying, piranha-toothed goldfish.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: With Cid'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.
  • King Mook: Tonberry King and Jumbo Cactuar.
  • 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.
    • 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...
    • The only places with treasure "boxes" are D-District Prison and Ultimecia Castle. With the latter needs you to play organ to remove bars blocking the passage to the treasure chest containing a Rosetta Stone.
  • Klingon Promotion: Edea after killing Vinzer Deling.
  • Lady and Knight: One of the features of this world is the Sorceress and Knight. Sorceresses possess great power inherited from their predecessor in a long line (supposedly) back to the god Hyne. This power makes them powerful Witches but can be corrupting to their spirits, in order to combat this they will be served by a Knight who will protect them, body and mind, from themselves and the rest of the world. Those that have a genuine bond with their Knights such as Edea and Rinoa remain outwardly and inwardly normal whereas those without a real Knight such as Adel or Ultimecia tend to become grotesque, heartless and power mad.
  • 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.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Ultimecia and Edea. This trope is pretty much what the Sorceress power is all about, really.
  • 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: 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.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Nobuo Uematsu noted that he avoided making character themes for FF8's soundtrack, with the exception of "Eyes on Me". However, different versions of "Liberi Fatali" are used as leitmotifs for the concept of sorceresses.
    • "Eyes on Me" is more the Leitmotif for the concept of love itself. Every time something romantic between Squall and Rinoa, or their parents (it's complicated, but there's no incest) or Laguna and Raine, this music plays. In addition, most of the main cast ends up with someone by the end of the game, and the reason that SeeD exists in the first place is because Cid loved Edea too much to just outright kill her when he saw what a monster she was becoming (that and before being mind controlled, Edea knew a teenager killed Ultimecia).
  • Let's Split Up, Gang:
    • After breaking out of D-District Prison, the team splits up into two groups; one to head back to Balamb Garden to warn them about the missile attack, the other to the missile base to try and stop the attack.
    • The team also splits up when Squall and Rinoa are sent into space.
    • The final dungeon also involves the party splitting into two groups, which the player can switch between. At a few points, players will need both parties in order to proceed, such as having one party hold a lever while another crosses a chandelier that would otherwise fall under their weight.
  • 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.
  • 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 versions in the series. Hearkening back to their original "Desperation Attack" nature, Limit Breaks have a chance to be made available every time you switch to a character's command panel in battle, with lower Hit Points on the character meaning higher chances. Consequently, if you just leave a character at low HP, they can crank out Limit Breaks to your heart's content. Each character has a unique one:
    • Squall: "Renzokuken," translated to "Blade Flurry." Like all of Squall's attacks, they can be strengthened by hitting R2 at the right time. Additionally, after the Limit Break, Squall has a chance to attach a Finishing Move; he starts with "Rough Divide," but can unlock "Fated Circle," "Blasting Zone" and "Lion Heart" by upgrading his gunblade.
    • Zell: "Duel." For a short period of time, the player is given a menu of options, and must select one by pressing the corresponding button combo. These tend to be similar to Fighting Game combos (left-right, Square-Circle, etc). Every time a move is selected, the menu refreshes. Zell unlocks new options by reading "Combat King" magazines.
    • Irvine: "Shot." Irvine fires bullets at the enemy for a short period of time. Bullets are purchaseable inventory, and the player chooses which kind to fire from amongst 8 different varieties; thereafter Irvine shoots as fast as the player can handle the Button Mashing.
    • Quistis: "Blue Magic." By feeding Quistis items outside of battle, she can learn attacks; you are then allowed to select one. These include "Shockwave Pulsar," the first ability in franchise history which can break the 9,999 HP damage cap.
    • Rinoa: "Combine." Rinoa can unlock new tricks to perform with her dog, Angelo, by reading "Pet Pals" magazines. The game then selects one at random from amongst those learned. (This allows Character Select Forcing by simply not teaching Angelo the attacks you don't want her to use.) Angelo also has a small chance of showing up during battle to commit other actions; for instance, if Rinoa takes damage, Angelo may counter-attack with Angelo Rush.
    • Rinoa: "Angel Wing." Rinoa, the only character in the game with two Limit Breaks, gains this one during Disc 3. She enters a "Magic-Berserk" state where she will randomly fire off powered-up versions of her stocked attack spells. She does not consume them, but also cannot be controlled until either the battle ends or she is killed.
    • Selphie: "Slot." Selphie randomly selects a spell and a number of times to use it; the player may commit, or reroll for a different result. Using "Slot" does not consume spell inventory. The Slot mechanic also includes four spells which are not available under any other circumstances: Full-Cure (heals everyone), Wall (Protect / Shell everyhone), Rapture (a One-Hit KO that can handle any non-boss) and The End (a One-Hit KO that averts Contractual Boss Immunity... if it shows up).
  • Literal Cliff Hanger: Rinoa, hanging off the side of Balamb Garden during the Battle of the Gardens.
  • Locomotive Level: A daring mission to detach President Deling's passenger car and attach it to a SeeD-controlled train.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • Squall's "Whatever" is a case of this, as it made him look way colder in the US version than in the original.
    • Selphie has a Kansai accent in the Japanese version, which was ignored during the localization.
    • 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 (in English, Selphie asks her if she still likes him, and Rinoa responds here):
      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.
    • Edea's speech in the original version gave a few hints about Ultimecia's goal of Time Compression.
    • 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: averted. Neither of the leads ever makes one. The IGN review went on to note that, despite love basically being the main theme of the game, the word is not mentioned once; this is incorrect, but not by much (the one time it does appear is when Rinoa does tell Squall "we love you," speaking for the party, during the concert at FH).
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: During the ending, Rinoa's attachment to Squall is what allows her to find him in the limbo and bring him back to the present.
  • Love Triangle:
    • 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.
    • Quistis seems to have some kind of feelings for Squall, but admits that she "gave up as soon as (Rinoa) entered the picture."
  • 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 Ability×4/Rosetta Stones and the "[Stat] Bonus" abilities from your GFs. The stat bonuses will practically make your characters demi-gods.
    • The key to this is the "Card" ability found on Quetzacotl [sic]. When used, it converts the targeted enemy into a Triple Triad card; its chance of success is, roughly, equal to the amount of HP the enemy has lost. If it is successful, the foe gives no Experience Points. While there are some foes that cannot be Carded (particularly fellow humans, AKA Galbadian soldiers), abusing the "Card" ability still keeps your levels quite low. You also get some cards.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Your party for the final boss fight is randomly chosen by the boss. If you are not expecting this, then you will probably give all the good stuff to your A team, leaving the B team with nothing, only to find some of the A team on the bench. Party members who are in KO status for long enough will be replaced with a randomly chosen person. Working out the probability of getting an all B team party at first is left as an exercise.
  • 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.
  • Make-Out Point: The secret area in the Balamb Garden Training Center.
  • The Maze: The Tomb of the Unknown King.
  • 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...
    • Galbadia Garden is 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.
    Commenter: Summoning Eden requires you to get to a new planet in a new galaxy, drop Eden down to bend reality, and then remake the world as a giant IMMAFIRINMAHLAZOR which shoots at the new galaxy and that drops the enemy FOR MASSIVE DAMAGE in less than a minute and a half. Do that without turning into Jenova AND YOU SHOULD BE PERFECTLY FINE.
  • Model Planning: The Forest Owls use train models to explain hijacking the railcar of an enemy president.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Moving Buildings: Balamb Garden and Galbadia Garden are buildings that can fly.
  • 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.
  • Multilingual Song: "Liberi Fatali" is sung mostly in Latin, but opens and ends with the chant "Fithos lusec wecos vinosec", an anagram of English words.
  • 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.
  • 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, with the students and staff loyal to Cid are opposing them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nemesis Weapon: Seifer, the rival to our protagonist Squall, also wields a gunblade like him. The weapon is said to be hard to master with only 2 have been shown as its practitioners, and there's also a prophecy that a hero wielding a gunblade will save the day; Seifer jumps at the opportunity while Squall takes it in stride.
  • 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 Heroic 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: In this case this it's notable because of the radio silence mentioned throughout the game.
  • No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: Characters always use the base model weapons in cutscenes, regardless of what model they've been upgraded to.
  • No Flow in CGI: The fur collar of Squall's bomber jacket is designed to challenge the CGI artists.
  • No-Gear Level: An unusual example occurs in Ultimecia Castle: the game mostly lacks equippable gear to deprive you of, but achieves similar effect by locking all abilities - including item use, magic, summoning, reviving KOed party members, and even the ability to save the game - upon entry to the dungeon. The player is obliged to unseal each of these abilities by defeating bosses in various different parts of the dungeon before progressing onward to face Ultimecia.
  • No Hero Discount: 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?
  • Nominal Importance: Only plot relevant characters have names. Those who aren't important enough for them have names such as "Mean Guy" and "Library Girl With a Pigtail".
  • Non Standard 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.
    • If the player messes up the train hijacking mission in Disc 1, 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.
    • Losing the paratrooper punching duel during the Battle of the Gardens 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. 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 the 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.
  • Noob Cave: The Fire Cavern.
  • 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'.
  • 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.
  • 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. It's in the logo. It's also the trope's page image.
  • Official Presidential Transport: President Deling travels to make his speech in Timber in a private and heavily secured railcar, which is intercepted by the Timber Owls in an effort to capture him. Unfortunately, it actually contained a decoy which was actually a monster.
  • 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.
  • One-Winged Angel: Ultimecia goes through several of these. Also, the Fake President Deling has this when he transforms into Gerogero.
  • 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.
  • Orchestral Bombing: Galbadia's attack on Dollet and the missile attack on Balamb Garden.
  • Orphanage of Love: The focus of the game's major plot revelation.
  • Our Presidents Are Different:
    • After the whole game portrays Laguna 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.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: Sphinxaur resembles a giant reddish-purple beast with a vaguely human face and generally Egyptian aesthetic.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In his second confrontation with her, Squall finally realizes that Edea is, despite all appearances, somehow not the same woman that raised him. What makes him certain after all the other destructive and cruel things Edea had done? Calling one of her other former foster children and her loyal Dragon Seifer "worthless".
  • 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: Most notably in the Balamb Garden library.
  • Party in My Pocket: The first game in the series to avert it. While in a town or dungeon, the party members will be shown All in a Row, but on the world map, only the leader will be shown.
    • It's lampshaded during a scene where you march single-file past a soldier while in disguise, where they commend you on your ability to do so.
    • It is however played somewhat straight with the GFs. They are said to take up space in the character's brains while they're junctioned, but no explanation is given as to where they're hanging out while they're not junctioned, though the game nevertheless considers them to be "in your party," where they can craft items and spells for you. It's even implied that Tonberry is intimidating shopkeepers into changing their prices, yet you can't see any of this taking place.
    • Rinoa's pet dog Angelo shows up during certain cutscenes, but doesn't appear on screen the rest of the time despite the fact you're considered to be walking her as long as Rinoa is in the active party, and nobody ever seems to acknowledge that there is a dog with you. Maybe she's got a really big one of them Paris Hilton handbags. Late into the game, all of this seems to be lampshaded by a sudden appearance by her that makes the other party members jump, made all the more amusing because Squall was carrying Rinoa on his back up till that point, implying Angelo followed you the entire time and somehow was never noticed by anybody. The two are clearly shown to be temporarily separated just after this, and the function of always walking her is turned off during this time.
    • Later in the game, you adopt a chicobo who also functions somewhat like a GF. He can be sent back and forth between Chocobo World, possibly bringing MiniMog back with him, so while he and MiniMog are with you, they can be used in battle, but trying to do so while they're away in the minigame causes a message to pop up to tell you they're not here. The chicobo will follow you on the world map while you're riding a chocobo unless he's away, but both are just invisible the rest of the time.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • The Island Closest To Heaven and The Island Closest To Hell. Not only do they have (hidden) Draw Points stocking some of the game's best spells, they're also the only place where Dynamic Difficulty is disabled, 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; the encounter rate is also extremely high, for ease of fighting. Spam Degenerator for rapid experience gain.
    • Catcuar Island, where you can find nothing but Cactuars. They yield almost no experience, but lots of AP to learn abilities with; and in this game, keeping one's levels low has its benefits as well. Kashkabald Desert is an earlier-game alternative; the chances of finding Cactuars there are lower, but it's available much sooner.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The people of Fisherman's Horizon, who refuse to fight even when their town is invaded by Galbadia.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • 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 overseas versions allow the player to draw any of the missed GF's from the bosses in Ultimecia's castle as a backup method, but if they miss them there as well, they're gone for good.
    • Diablos is gone if you forget to talk to Cid before boarding the train to Timber.
    • 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.
  • Piggyback Cute: Squall carries Rinoa to Esthar this way after she falls into a coma.
  • Player Headquarters: Balamb Garden.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Powerup 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.
  • Pre-Meeting: Rinoa asks Squall to dance at the party, but he doesn't think much of it. Squall's first mission as a SeeD is assisting her resistance group.
  • Press X 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.
  • 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.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The orphanage revelation reveals the team is actually doing this.
  • 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.
  • Race for Your Love: 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 lot of areas in the game, as with the previous games, have random fights with wandering monsters happen without warning.
  • Random Events Plot: Thematically, VIII is basically every eighties action anime rolled up into one big package. Squall is a lone wolf with an exploding sword who sets out to defeat an evil witch who time travels. The plot gets wacky by the end, though not neccessarily in a bad way. (They literally survive the Time Crash via the power of friendship.)
  • Rank Up: There's the SeeD rank, which you gain early in the game upon your main playable characters' acceptance into SeeD following the entrance exam. There are ranks 1-30 and Rank A. Your starting rank can be anywhere from 1-10 based on your initial performance in the entrance exam, though you have to really screw around to get a 1, and similarly you have to really go out of your way to perform well to earn a 10 starting out. Afterwards, there are a number of events throughout the game which can raise or lower your rank, though the easiest way (and easiest to exploit way) is to take a series of yes/no quizzes accessible from the menu, each of which raises your rank by 1. However, once you reach Rank A, your rank will always drop back to thirty if you don't kill at least ten enemies before your next rank payment. In any case, your SeeD rank has no affect on actual gameplay, only on a recurring payment of the game's currency of gil.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin:
    • Rinoa is light-skinned and dark-haired. Although her character designer intended her to be "cute" rather than gorgeous it's obvious this aspect of her appearance is meant to amp up her looks.
    • Edea also has these features, though this overlaps with Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette due to being a sorceress with an outrageous outfit. Her beauty is more pronounced in her regular outfits as seen in the flashbacks and the game's closing credits.
    • Julia is yet another example, as she is desired by Laguna and most of the Galbadian soldiers except Kiros and Ward. She's also Rinoa's mother.
    • Laguna himself is a Rare Male Example.
  • Real After All: Squall and company has this reaction towards their dream sequences about Laguna and his pals after The Reveal that said experiences are due to Mental Time Travel.
  • 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. He's highly regarded by most of Balamb Garden, who sides with him over NORG when a civil war breaks out.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Xu to Seifer after his running off on his own costs him his chance at passing the exam.
      Xu: Seifer, you'll never be a SeeD. Calling yourself a captain is a joke.
    • The fake President Deling gives one to Rinoa and the Forest Owls for falling for his plan.
      Fake Deling: Boo-hoo... Too bad... I'm not the president. I'm what they call... a body double. All these rumors about the many resistance groups in Timber... You pass along a little false information and they fall for it... How pathetic... Seems like there are only amateurs around here.
  • 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.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Raijin and Fuujin refuse to serve Seifer when they discover he is merely Ultimecia's pawn, and Fujin even lets Ellone go. The ending shows the three of them together, alive and well.
  • 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).
  • Refusal of the Call: Just before Squall gets promoted to Garden leader, Cid gives a speech about how this is all Squall's destiny. Squall, reasonably, hollers back that they can't just decide for him like it's been that way since his birth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • The plot of the game is fairly simple. To wit, Ultimecia knows a "legendary SeeD" is destined to kill her, so she uses the Junction Machine Ellone to send her consciousness back in time to possess Edea and try to engineer events to destroy SeeD, while also furthering her true goal of casting Time Compression. The party allows Time Compression to happen so they can travel to the future and kill Ultimecia, but as time gets put back right Squall briefly ends up in the past, where he causes a Stable Time Loop that will result in Edea and Cid founding SeeD and Edea being possessed by Ultimecia. Good luck trying to follow that on your first playthrough, though, because the way it's presented is anything but straightforward. It gradually takes over an entirely different narrative about a pseudo-World War II, very important plot points like the "legendary SeeD" or the mechanics of Time Compression are mentioned briefly in passing, the inciting incident happens during the laser-light show of a finale, the older characters' motivations are presented to the player in non-linear order, and the main plot leans on Ellone's seemingly-unrelated subplot like a crutch for crucial emotional and thematic context. The game is practically made for Rewatch Bonus, as each time through the cryptic hints and brief mentions start to build connections that solidify the fragmented narrative into a whole.
    • The reason for Irvine's seeming tendency to crack under pressure in Disc 1 takes a different turn when you realize he was lying and was actually cracking under the stress of being asked to shoot the closest thing he had to a mother. And he is the only one that can remember this. And thus, on top of this, is freaking out about how seemingly cold and easy his old friends are being about committing essential matricide.
    • On the second disc, if you take Rinoa on a tour of Balamb Garden, when you meet Dr. Kadowaki in the infirmary you have the option to say that Rinoa is your girlfriend. Rinoa is left shocked, before Squall says he's joking. A very early sign of him opening up to her and defrosting slightly.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    S-Z 
  • 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.
  • Save Point: You can only save at save points when in towns and dungeons and the like, but can save freely when in the overworld.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Serious Business: Triple Triad — though not in terms of the game's storyline, but because of its Gamebreaker status.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A shout-out occurs in music form: the final boss music, "The Extreme", contains a call-back to the original Final Fantasy battle music.
    • On the music example, the beginning of the final dungeon theme is very similar to the third segment of Dancing Mad from Final Fantasy VI.
    • Another notable music example occurs in the opening measures of the recurring sorceress battle theme, where it plays the iconic theme of Final Fantasy VII.
    • Interestingly enough, this game pays large homage to the oft-overlooked Final Fantasy III. A major character in the backstory is the Sorcerer Hyne, a reference to Sorcerer Hein from Final Fantasy III. The basic layout of the overworld in this game roughly maps onto that of Final Fantasy III's overworld also.
    • Doomtrain isn't terribly different from the Ghost Train/Phantom Train, either. And by that, it has a freakin' ghost face and looks undead enough.
    • Lunatic Pandora likewise has sequences very similar to music from the Moon in Final Fantasy IV. Appropriate, considering that it was designed to call down monsters from the moon. Likewise, when the monsters are ready to drop, the moon grows red. This same feature is shared by the corrupted moon of IV.
    • The blue Galbadian uniforms resemble the SOLDIER uniform from Final Fantasy VII.
    • Zell's final weapon is quite appropriately named for a Fighting Game, Ehrgeiz.
    • "Leonhart" was previously the name of a major character in Final Fantasy II (shortened to "Leon" in localizations due to character space limits).
    • The arrival at the Lunar Base is a shout-out to the "Blue Danube" scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey, using the similar waltz BGM "Dance with the Balamb Fish" instead. The station itself has some similarities (centrifugal force to generate gravity, camera angles,...) with Discovery One.
    • Headmaster Cid's main dilemma is having to kill his wife Edea if the situation calls for it. Their surname is Kramer.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Biggs and Wedge. The theme is continued with Nidanote  and later supporting character Pietnote , and in the original Japanese, Headmaster Martine of Galbadia Garden is named Dodonna.
  • Significant Anagram: "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" is an anagram of "Love" and "Succession of Witches."
  • Single-Stroke Battle: If you have Odin, he randomly appears at the beginning of a battle and ends it quickly, except against Seifer. In addition, after Odin is killed, his replacement, Gilgamesh, will randomly appear during any part of a battle and attack with a weapon. If it's the Zantetsuken (Odin's recovered sword), then this happens as well.
  • Sinister Geometry: Lunatic Pandora's outer casing.
  • 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.
  • Slow Clap: Initiated by Seifer after Squall, Zell, and Selphie graduate as SeeD.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: Squall gets two of these. First, in the FMV at Dollet, with him jumping to reach the landing vessel before X-ATM092 fires at him. The second occurs after the first boss fight with Edea when she impales him, and he falls off the parade float.
  • Sole Entertainment Option: It doesn't really have a city that specializes in the Card Game of the Week, but each city has its own rules. Regardless of this fact, practically everyone plays. Not only that, but people carry all of their cards around with them as they aimlessly walk around.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: "Eyes On Me".
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: The game manages to avoid this for the most part - the "Junction Switch" mechanic allows the player to quickly switch every spell and GF attached to Character A to Character B instead, and the sheer number of Guardian Forces available in the later stages of the game make it possible to outfit all six party members with decent junctions if the player is so inclined.note  The game also usually goes out of its way to remind the player to check the party's junctions after any involuntary lineup changes - for good reason, since neglecting to do so can result in an unprepared party getting tossed into battle with no abilities junctioned, "naked," unable to do anything other than attack, and not even able to do that very well because their un-junctioned stats are still so low.
    • Additionally, the game lets you swap spells between party members: if you've maxed out on 100 Cures on Squall, you can give them all to someone else, or half, or even spread them out. This becomes valuable when a Sixth Ranger party member (Edea) joins during disc 3 — with, of course, no spells equipped — and later leaves just as abruptly. The game, fortunately, passes the character's spells back to your party.
  • So Much for Stealth: Escaping from D-District Prison. Can also happen in the Galbadia Missile Base, depending on your actions.
  • Sorry I'm Late: Irvine and Rinoa join Squall during the battle sequence in the first fight against Edea.
  • Space Station: Esthar's lunar base.
  • Spider Tank: X-ATM092.
  • Spotting the Thread: In the Galbadia Missile Base, if you manage to get through it without getting caught, Selphie gives herself away when she salutes the wrong way.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: The vast majority of the backgrounds are pre-rendered bitmaps, though several times, the game will transition into an FMV sequence and the background will change into a fully-rendered sequence while the player still has limited interaction with the game. Rather groundbreaking at the time.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • Ultimecia's meddling in time and space ended up sending Squall and herself back in time to his childhood. This sets in motion Edea's possession by Ultimecia and subsequent reign of terror, but also allows Squall to give his old matron the idea for creating SeeD, thus ensuring the creation of the organization that set Squall and his comrades on the path to ultimately fight and defeat Ultimecia. Of course, this also means that while Squall technically hasn't stopped her reign of terror in the future, her defeat is already a Foregone Conclusion.
    • To a lesser extent the Laguna sequences. Laguna remarks the "faeries" (actually the spirits of Squall and co.) inhabiting their bodies grant them great power during battles. Without Ellone's interference, the amazing feats Laguna, Kiros and Ward pull off may never have been possible, up to and including liberating Esthar.
  • Stand Your Ground: Balamb Garden during the first half of the Battle of the Gardens before taking the offensive.
  • Start X to Stop X: The master plan to prevent Ultimecia from compressing time; Let her compress time and jump her ass while she does that. See Batman Gambit above.
  • Stepford Smiler: Even after all that happens, the only times we see Selphie show sadness are during the Missile Base sequence after she realizes they can't escape and the resulting damage at Trabia Garden. And she's cheering people up at Trabia a moment later. Oh, and the Garden Festival.
  • Storming the Beaches:
    • How the SeeD exam in Dollet happens in Disc 1. Their mission is to drive out the Galbadian forces.
    • The entrance to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is through a beach near the orphanage the main characters were raised.
  • Storming the Castle: Occurs a few times.
    • Dollet while under attack by Galbadia.
    • Galbadia Garden.
    • Lunatic Pandora.
  • Summon Magic: Guardian Forces represent yet another mechanic that is ripe for abuse. Unlike every previous title in the franchise, FF8's GFs can be re-summoned within the same battle without restriction. The limiting factor is that, while the Charge Meter is filling, the GF's HP bar replaces that of the summoning character, and if the GF takes enough damage during this time, they can be "killed", requiring use of appropriate items to revive them. Every GF also has Relationship Values with every party member; if these values are increased, either by repeated summoning or by feeding the character appropriate compatibility items, the meter charges faster.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The sorceress Edea possesses these, as does the sorceress Ultimecia. This is likely not a coincidence, considering the connections between the two characters.
  • Super Soldier: The SeeDs are trained as such, and for good reason: they are intended to fight and defeat sorceresses. Their status as such is played straight, with small numbers of SeeD soldiers being deployed and garnering a mixture of both fear and respect for their capabilities.
  • Supervillain Lair: Ultimecia's Castle.
  • Surrounded by Idiots:
    • Squall behaves this way through the first disc or so. How much of it is justified is subject to debate.
    • His team also acts like this towards the Timber Owls Resistance, which is not unjustified.
  • Sword Drag: Done by Squall in his Rough Divide Limit Break.
  • Sword Fight: Squall and Seifer's duel at the beginning of the game.
  • Sword Pointing: Also Squall and Seifer's duel at the beginning of the game.
  • Take Over the World:
    • Vinzer Deling's plan for Galbadia, for which purpose he makes the sorceress his ambassador in order to intimidate other nations. The sorceress, however, has other plans.
    • Xu lampshades this at one point, asking, "What does the sorceress really want? It can't be something as simple as world domination."
  • Take Your Time: Happens at least three times.
    • The first time is as Squall and his party are arriving back at Balamb Garden after you complete the Missile Base mission with the other team. Missiles bearing down upon Balamb Garden? No problem! Head on over to Balamb Village! Play some cards! No worries.
    • The second time is during the Battle of the Gardens, when Rinoa falls off the side of Balamb Garden and is dangling from a rock over a tremendous fall. You must hurry there and rescue her! However, there's no timer counting down... so, sure enough, you can take your time. No matter what you do, you'll always arrive in time to grab her hand and save her from falling. In all, she ends up holding on for a solid thirty minutes, while the two Gardens keep crashing into each other.
    • The third time is on the Esthar Lunar Base, which is about to be swallowed by the Lunar Cry, but you can take as long as you want getting to the Escape Pod. To gain a particular card in the game's card game sidequest, you are required to play a secondary character, an opportunity that comes only in this instance. The game does some Lampshade Hanging on this by having the character state, "You wanna to play cards now!?"
  • Talking in Your Sleep: At one point, Squall wakes up in his dorm room to find Rinoa standing over him, who reveals that he was talking in his sleep, and that "she isn't even going to tell him what he was saying". However, just before, he was shown having a Dream Sequence flashback to himself as a child. Also, earlier, during the Winhill flashaback, Raine is listing off Laguna's annoying traits and mentions that he also talks in his sleep.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • Many of Quistis's male students (and apparently quite a few female ones, if the Trepies are any indication) are pining for one. She lampshades this in the Fire Cavern Test when she mentions to Squall how the boys often choke on the test when she comes with them.
    • Quistis for Squall, though in her defense, they're only a year apart in age and apparently grew up together, though neither of them remembers it anymore. Squall comments on the awkwardness of it fairly early in the game, and Quistis eventually says that her crush on him was actually misdirected sisterly affection, although how honest she's being about that is subject to interpretation.
  • Technicolor Death: Following series tradition, the Final Boss goes out like this.
  • Technology Porn: Throughout the game, but in paticular, the scene of the Dollet Satellite Dish being reactivated. It even has its own theme music!
  • Tech Points: Ability Points.
  • Temporal Paradox: Specifically, an Ontological Paradox — present Squall gives past Edea the idea for SeeD. Since FFVIII's model of time travel seems to involve a single, immutable sequence of events, there was never an alternate timeline in which Edea came up with SeeD on her own. On a lesser scale, Laguna's ability to overthrow Sorceress Adel may have been due to the "faeries" from the future granting him power, and there was no original timeline where he did so without such help.
  • There Are No Therapists: Some characters would need one. Possibly justified by the Schizo Tech setting, as psychology might not have been invented yet.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Most of the GFs.
  • They Have the Scent!: You have to track down Raijin in Balamb in Disc 2 by entering the kitchen where his attempt to cook some fish he just caught went a bit awry, after which the scent all over you will trigger a guard dog to find him.
  • Those Two Guys: Zone and Watts. Biggs and Wedge. Also Raijin and Fujin, although the latter pair is much more dangerous.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Seifer, Fujin, and Raijin. Also, Laguna, Kiros, and Ward.
  • Time Bomb: The Galbadia Missile Base's self destruct sequence.
  • Time-Limit Boss: Ifrit in the Fire Cavern, X-ATM092 in Dollet, BGH251F2 in the Galbadia Missile Base, Odin in the Centra Ruins.
  • Time Master: Ellone. Also, Ultimecia.
  • Title Drop: The Japanese version of Edea's speech in Galbadia plays out a little differently from the English translation, and includes a line referencing the series.
    Edea: You and me. Together, we'll bring about this final fantasy.
  • Token Minority:
    • Kiros, the only non-white playable character.
    • Raijin, the only non-white human enemy, boss, and supporting NPC. Kiros's hair and fashion appear to be modeled on Real Life African patterns, while Raijin is Ambiguously Brown.
    • There are only two notable characters who appear to be of Asian descent: Xu and Dr. Odine.
  • Tomorrowland: Esthar. There is an enormous technological difference between their continent-spanning Crystal Spires and Togas city and the rest of the world, which is mostly just past the 20th century in terms of technology. The main reason for this is that the majority of population of the destroyed Centra civilization emigrated to Esthar, carrying most of their advanced technology there with them, while only a small portion of the refugees made it to the western continent, forming the small nation of Dollet. A combination of massive population size, having a head start is tech, and isolationism meant that Esthar developed advanced technology far beyond the rest of the world.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Playing the game normally, you'll hang onto your best items and will never use them except for the final battle, and any spells you've junctioned to your stats will never be cast unless you don't mind your stats dropping from it. If you take the time to abuse the hell out of the card and item refinement, you can have 100 of the best items and spells in the game without having the need to grind for them by other means.
  • Took a Level in Idealism: The game follows Squall as he breaks out of his cynicism to properly connect with other people, Rinoa especially.
  • Took a Shortcut: To get Rinoa's card from General Caraway, you have to play him in Triple Triad and lose your Ifrit card to him in a game to get him to use Rinoa's card, and then play him again and beat him. Immediately after the game screen fades out, if you talk to Caraway, he says he lost the Ifrit card to Martine in Fisherman's Horizon.
  • Too Many Belts: Squall has one belt around his waist, two hanging around his hips, and three on his right leg.
  • Train Job: Squall, Selphie, and Zell's first mission as SeeDs is to assist the Timber resistance with one of these to kidnap Galbadian President Vinzer Deling. It's done in a way that's definitely cool but would be impossible to pull off in reality, with the team using switch tracks to swap out a dummy train car with the President's car.
  • Trauma Inn: A night at the inn cures everything.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Done in The Black Mages' version of "The Man with the Machine Gun".
  • True Companions: The party, especially after they learn that most of them grew up together in the same orphanage.
  • Two-Teacher School: Aside from Quistis and a minor NPC named Mr. Aki, none of Balamb Garden's instructors ever actually make appearances. This may be justified by the fact that Squall graduates within the first stages of the game and no longer attends classes.
  • Tyke-Bomb: The SeeDs begin their training at a very young age and are brought up to be the best and most highly skilled soldiers. And as the end of the game reveals, Squall getting lost after Time Compression ended up with him turning himself into one, as well as the other orphans he lived with.
  • Ultimate Final Exam: The final exam Squall and his friends must take before graduating from Balamb Garden is participating in a military exercise to liberate a port town that has been annexed by the Galbadian army. Justified in that Balamb Garden is a military academy where the curriculum is explicitly designed to turn orphans into Child Soldiers.
  • Uncommon Time: The main combat music is in 5/4. The boss battle theme is mostly in Common Time, but throws in a bar of 5/4 and a bar of 6/4 to change things up.
  • Underwater Base: The Deep Sea Research Facility.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Other than the obvious Triple Triad turning it into a card game, there is also a pseudo-Fighting Game sequence near the end of Disc 2.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The final cutscene of Disc 1 shows Squall being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. The character's first scene in Disc 2 shows him just fine, even lampshading how the hell is he still alive.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The good people of Winhill, barring Raine and Ellone. After Laguna recovers from his injuries, they either drop broad hints that he should leave or outright tell him to scram, even though he's risking his life daily in a one-man mission to clear the town of vicious monsters. When Raine dies in his absence, they simply drop Squall off at an orphanage, and seventeen years later they still blame Laguna for her death.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: After the opening FMV, the game starts with Squall in the Garden's infirmary.
  • Uniformity Exception: The characters Laguna Loire, Ward Zabak and Kiros Seagill initially serve in the Galbadian army (which is the game's go-to source of mooks). They wear the uniforms, but without the helmets, making their faces visible.
  • The Unreveal: Laguna never comes out and says "Squall, I am your father," and in fact nobody ever mentions anything about it except for one oblique reference by Kiros. It's still heavily implied, especially in one of the conversations Squall can have with him in which Laguna mentions that they have a lot to talk about when it's all over.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Ultimecia's castle is the Point of No Return. This can lead to frustration from players who came in without adequate supplies (and didn't use the internet to discover a workaround: You can get back to your Global Airship if you're careful, and aboard it you will find various NPCs who can help you resupply.)
  • Urban Fantasy: One of the foremost examples in the series, complete with cars, modernized cities, a Trading Card Game, and even space flight and the internet.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • Standard Status Effects are still not worth casting, but the junctioning system removes the necessity of casting them: just assign them to your gunblade and hit the road!
    • There's also a Useless Useful Summon: Siren, who casts Silence on any enemies on the field susceptible to it — and little else, making summoning her barely more worthwhile than casting Silence yourself. Doomtrain, who hits every enemy on the field with every status effect in the game, is much more useful; if nothing else, the defense-nullifying Vit-0 effect usually works even on bosses.
  • Vancian Magic: There's no Mana in this game: Magic spells are quantified by individual uses, either by using Draw on monsters or certain Draw points, or by refining items into more spells using GFs.
  • Vehicular Assault: X-ATM092 in Dollet, BGH251F2 in the Galbadia Missile Base and later in Fisherman's Horizon.
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Ultimecia's Castle.
  • Vibroweapon: Gunblades, according to Ultimania; the bullets channel a 'wave of power' through the blade instead of firing a projectile when the trigger is pulled.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • The final event of the Alien Encounter sidequest. The idea is to give the little alien some (rather expensive) medicine and PuPu will return the favor by giving the party his unique Triple Triad card. However there's nothing stopping the player from simply killing it, which will actually reward the party with an item that teaches a GF the ever useful Auto-Haste passive skill. It is a trade down, though, because the PuPu can't be obtained by any other means unlike the Accelerator which "merely" requires lots of grinding or refining the Kiros card.
    • It's even worse if someone has the Devour skill, because for some reason PuPu is an edible monster that grants a small but permanent bonus to the character's Speed stat.
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: Renaming Angelo something gross or perverted to milk Rinoa's Combine commands for comedic potential is a running joke among some players.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Seifer, repeatedly.
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • The Queen of Cards sidequest is advanced by losing specific rare cards to the Queen. The game will tell you this and what cards she wants you to lose, but the dialogue option only comes up if the Queen's in Dollet.
    • Getting every achievement on a single run in the Steam version requires both that a character reach level 100 and that you beat the final boss while Squall's at his starting level of 7. The easiest way to do this is to have your own party members knock out Squall at the start of the game, as well as every time that an event gets him back up, and play the entire gamenote  with the other two characters alone. Proper use of the Junctioning system makes this very doable, but the required behavior is nothing short of bizarre.
  • Visible Silence: Squall, frequently, and Ward as well after losing his voice trying to escape Esthar.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Laguna and Squall respectively. The father is a Bunny-Ears Lawyer who tends to misuse words and in general is a total loon, while the son is brooding, stoic and professional. Interestingly, their familial ties is never revealed in the game.
    Squall: I dreamt I was a moron.
  • Wall of Weapons: Zell has one in his room in Balamb.
  • Warmup Boss: Ifrit in the Fire Cavern.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: Electric torture used on Squall in D-District Prison when he refuses to tell Seifer the true purpose of SeeD. Seifer also warns Squall that if he doesn't talk, then the others will.
  • Weird Moon: It's covered with monsters.
  • Wham Line:
    • When Squall confronts NORG after thwarting his coup, which was caused by NORG wanting to turn the SeeDs over to Sorceress Edea after their failed assassination attempt on her, the following exchange takes place.
      NORG: THIS-IS-MY-GARDEN!
      Squall: NO! It's not just yours.
      NORG: Bujurururu! THEN-WHAT-IS-IT!? IS-IT-CID'S-AND-EDEA'S!? THAT-PATHETIC-MARRIED-COUPLE'S!?
    • A mysterious group clad in white claiming to be SeeDs arrive in Balamb Garden, asking for a particular person to come with them.
      White SeeD: We've come for Ellone.
    • When the party members remember that they were all in the same orphanage along with Seifer, Irvine reveals who the orphan matron really is.
      Irvine: Matron's name is Edea Kramer. Matron IS Sorceress Edea.
    • Immediately after rescuing Rinoa from the Sorceress memorial, the SeeDs are hired by Esthar. Then Zell informs Squall of the name of their client.
      Zell: By the way, the guy says he's Kiros.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Seifer appearing in Deling's live speech in Timber to kill him, followed by Quistis trying to apprehend him.
    • Seifer appearing with Sorceress Edea in the Deling City parade.
    • Edea impaling Squall via her Limit Break during the concluding cutscene of Disc 1.
    • Selphie and her party apparently dying in the Galbadian missile base.
    • Squall and his party arriving in Balamb only to see that it's in chaos.
    • The Pensieve Flashback of the main characters except Rinoa during their time at the same orphanage.
    • The Reveal of who the President of Esthar is. Same goes for his advisers.
    • Seifer killing Odin at the start of Disc 3's Final Battle.
    • When trying to focus on a subject to allow him to escape the end of time, Squall picks Rinoa, and we see every encounter cutscene the two have shared. Squall's reliance on the Guardian Forces has led him to forget Rinoa's face, blurred out in all the cutscenes and stranding him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The Galbadian occupation of Timber is never officially resolved; although the city is apparently free of Galbadian soldiers if you return there later in the game, nothing is ever stated about what happened there after the party left in Disc 1.
    • It's never made clear how much damage the flood of lunar monsters in Disc 3 does to the country of Esthar. The Esthar military are still fighting them by the time the party embarks on the endgame.
    • After the Battle of the Gardens, Galbadia Garden disappears and isn't seen again.
    • Precisely what happens to the Lunatic Pandora is never answered. Squall's team manages to take control of the Pandora's control room, but what is done with it after time compression is not made clear.
  • What Is Evil?: Ambiguity between good and evil is a prominent theme in the game. The fight against the primary antagonist is almost purely pragmatic, only loosely tied to any personal motivation against the antagonist proper. Arguably, the antagonist even has a defensible position (one of the heroes even considers this, albeit briefly).
  • What Is This Feeling?: Squall has the love version of this a few times with Rinoa.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Squall rescues Rinoa from the freaking void of space, only to let her be taken into Esthar custody for becoming the next sorceress, Quistis tears him a new one.
  • You ALL Share My Story: The Pensieve Flashback to the orphanage.
  • You Already Changed the Past: The simplest explanation for how the various forms of time travel in the game work, and why Ellone concludes the past cannot be changed.
  • You Are in Command Now: Cid summarily hands command of Balamb Garden and SeeD as a whole over to Squall in Disc 2 - to Squall's intense dismay. He proves quite good at it, but doesn't enjoy it.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: This signals the end of Vinzer Deling, once Edea is in a position to take over.
  • Your Mom: The player can receive one of these during the Mr. Monkey sidequest, which involves finding a monkey near Dollet and throwing rocks at him. After completing it, the monkey calls you names and tells you that your mum wears combat boots.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Timber resistance against the Galbadian occupation, even though the Galbadians never explicitly refer to the resistance as terrorists.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: 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.


"ELLONE! WHERE?"
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