My most recent playthrough of Final Fantasy VIII has been going swimmingly. Or, to be more accurate, it was. Because it has now come to an end. I pretty much completed every extra task, with the exception of winning Doomtrain back from the Queen of Cards’ son. He just wouldn’t use it. Except for this one time, but we were playing with the Direct rule, and he shoved Doomtrain in a corner where I couldn’t possibly flip it, and I wasn’t able to get it. Curses!
The rest of the game went by pretty quickly. I got the strongest weapon for every character. I visited the Deep Sea Research Center, where I defeated Bahamut and the Ultimate Weapon with ease. I thought the Ultimate Weapon would be a problem when he immediately wiped out two characters. Then Squall used Lion Heart, and the battle was over. Wow, that was easy. Fast forward to disc 4, and I…failed to defeat Omega Weapon. With the 100 Heroes (they make your characters invincible) I got from my Laguna card, I definitely think I could have, but after a long battle and some poor timing that resulted in all of my characters being vulnerable at once, I lost, and I just didn’t feel like fighting it again.
Just know that I could have, if I was more patient.
And then, with the sorceress’ castle finally at an end, the moment came. I had arrived at the top level of the castle, outside the chambers of Ultimecia, our most frightful adversary yet. And it was at this point that I set those online guides aside, for it just wouldn’t seem right unless I beat her on my own. With a few changes to my characters, Squall, Rinoa, and Zell were as prepared as they were ever going to be. Let’s see if months of preparation were finally going to pay off.
When I played the game several years ago, I only reached the third stage of the final boss once. The rest of the time, I would struggle for an hour, doing next to no damage, before finally losing at part 2. This time, things were completely different.
Part 1 of the battle was over in a flash, followed by part 2. I was lucky enough to have Squall and Rinoa right from the start, but my third character was not Zell, so I put no effort into protecting them. Selphie eventually fell, followed by Irvine, and last of all, Quistis, who managed to hang around at 1 HP throughout part 3 and 4 of the battle, much to my surprise, though she did finally succumb towards the very end. Zell never made an appearance during the battle. He was probably too busy eating hotdogs….
My first order of business was using Meltdown on each stage of the boss in order to inflict more damage, followed by Aura for increased limit breaks, after which I used Hero to make my character invincible. I felt it was overkill, but I was taking no chances, and the battle went by quickly when Squall kept using his limit break and Rinoa repeatedly used Wishing Star, which appears to be her strongest limit break. (In fact, it was solely responsible for me reaching stage 3 of the battle years ago. And then, she never bothered using it again. Figures.)
During part 2 or 3 of the battle, I forget which, I made a fatal misstep, as I allowed my invincibility to run out, and I failed to heal my two main party members. One powerful attack from my enemy wiped out the entire team. When a character dies during this battle, they are eventually replaced with another team member, never to be revived again. I could not afford to lose Squall and Rinoa, and I thought with dismay that I had failed. Perhaps on my second attempt I could finish the game?
Fortunately, Phoenix appeared and saved my team in my hour of need! After that, the battle continued, and I remained all the more diligent in keeping Squall and Rinoa protected, using limit breaks when available, while Rinoa would use Meteor and Squall would use Ultima whenever a limit break was not an option. It wasn’t long before the battle was over, and I watched the final cut scenes with an immense sense of accomplishment.
I had done it. I finally beat Final Fantasy VIII, my long-time nemesis! It was almost surreal, as this was a game I never believed I would ever be able to complete, considering the Junction system had formerly eluded my understanding. Now that I have completed the game, I can give advice to anyone else who has yet to complete it themselves. Here is the strategy I would recommend:
1: Once it becomes available, visit Cactuar Island to gain AP quickly for your GFs. Try to learn Diablos’ Enc-None as soon as possible so that you no longer need to fight random enemies.
2: Triple Triad is important for two major reason: the Laguna and Gilgamesh cards, which will get you 100 Heroes and 10 Holy Wars respectively with Quetzalcoatl’s Card Mod ability. As you already know by now, the former makes one character temporarily invincible, while the latter makes all three invincible. Keep in mind that Aura does not work when you’re invincible, so use it first.
3: Get Lion Heart, Squall’s strongest weapon, which will give you access to his insanely powerful Lion Heart limit break.
4: Draw lots of magic because it will increase your stats when junctioned. But only focus on powerful magic or magic you think you’ll use because you can only hold a limited amount, and drawing magic is time-consuming enough as it is. (In the menu, press square to delete magic you don’t need.) By the end, I had lots of healing magic, Firaga/Blizzaga/Thundaga, Ultima, Flare, Meteor, Meltdown, Aura, along with Blind, Sleep, Bio, etc so that you can inflict status ailments on enemies with the Status-Attack junction, which allows your physical attacks to cause status ailments without having to waste magic.
5: You may want to avoid leveling up. This is possible with Enc-None and turning enemies into cards, which gains AP, but no exp. Of course, you can still win at a higher level, but the stronger you are, the stronger your enemies are.
6: Have Rinoa in your party whenever possible to learn Angelo’s abilities.
7: And last and most importantly…GET LION HEART!
I gotta say, I had a great time with this game. Having an increased understanding of how Junctioning works, and the importance of playing Triple Triad, the game became much easier, and I became far more interested in the characters and story, as well. And of course, sharing my experiences here, with all of you guys, has been a whole lot of fun. This trial has been overcome, and before I can decide upon my next game, I need to spend some time basking in the glory of victory.
Oh, and I’m curious, who here has defeated Omega Weapon? And what was your strategy for defeating Ultimecia? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for joining me on this little adventure!
Image from Flickr User: metallimaniac