II. How to Play

A. Controls

Since Final Fantasy VIII was originally made for the Playstation, I highly recommend playing with a gamepad. (Gravis's Gamepad Pro is ideal). Because this is the PC version, throughout this guide I will be referring to the buttons by their functions rather than their Playstation symbols.

Note: On most screens, you can press Ctrl+q to quit to Windows and Ctrl+r to reset to the Main Title Screen.

1. Menu Screen

Function Keyboard Gamepad Description
Movement arrow keys d-pad Moves cursor
[Execute] or [Open] x Button2 Execute Command / Open screen
[Cancel] w Button4 Return to previous menu / Cancel
[Limit] a Button1 Open Limit Break screen from Status
[Switch] q / e Button5/6 Switch between character & GF

2. Field Screen

Function Keyboard Gamepad Description
Movement arrow keys d-pad Moves character
[Pause] s Button10 Pause game
[Menu] d Button3 Opens Menu Screen
[Execute] or [Talk] x Button2 Executes Commands or talks to people
[Challenge] a Button1 Challenge a person to a card game
[Cancel] or [Walk] w Button4 Cancel an action, or hold to Walk(as opposed to run)

3. World Map

Function Keyboard Gamepad Description
Movement arrow keys d-pad Moves character/vehicle
[Pause] s Button10 Pauses game
[Map] f Button9 Toggle World Map display
[Menu] d Button3 Open Menu Screen
[Mount] x Button2 Get on/off vehicles
[Forward] a Button1 Move vehicle forward
[Reverse] w Button4 Move vehicle backward
[CW] q Button5 Rotate camera clockwise
[CCW] e Button6 Rotate camera counter-clockwise
[POV] c Button8 Change Point Of View

4. Battle

Battles are the main action in the game. The screen displays your characters' HP and time gauge in the lower right. When a character's time gauge is full, he/she can perform an action. They can Attack with their weapon, use Magic, Draw magic from an enemy, use an Item, or summon a GF. And when a GF has learned the "Boost" ability, you can increase the damage done by that GF.
Function Keyboard Gamepad Description
Movement arrow keys d-pad Moves cursor
[Pause] or [Help] s Button10 Pauses game and displays help
[Info] f Button9 Hold down to hide/show battle info
[Switch] d Button3 Switch to another active character
[Execute] x Button2 Perform selected action
[Boost] or [Scroll] a Button1 Scroll Status window or Hold with [Info] to Boost a GF
[Cancel] w Button4 Cancel
[Target] q Button5 Toggle target window
[Trigger] e Button6 Trigger gunblade or gun
[Escape] z+c Button7+8 Hold to escape a battle


HP stands for Hit Points. This is basically your character's lifeline, energy, or health. Once your HP goes down to 0, you die. HP is subtracted by attacks (represented by white numbers popping up after a hit takes place), or added by curative magic or items (represented by green numbers). Your character's HP is displayed in the lower right corner of the screen during a fight scene. The maximum number of HP is 9999 for your character. When your character's HP is getting really low, it turns yellow. When your character's are down to about a third of their max HP, Limit Breaks become available.


EXP is short for Experience. EXP points are added to your character after each battle (with a few exceptions). After a certain amount of experience, your character will go up a level. Going up a level increases that character's stats, being attack power, defense, magic power, speed, and a handful of others. You can check your character's total experience, level, and amount of experience to go to the next level by accessing the menu and selecting Status. Under the character's name, it says LVxx, where xx is the level. To the right, just next to the box that says Status, is the character's total experience. Under the box that says Status is how much experience is needed to get to the next level.

AP stands for Ability Points. This is basically EXP for your Guardian Forces. GFs only gain AP if they were junctioned during a battle. When a GF levels up, it also gets a new ability. See Section II:D for more information.

D. Guardian Forces

While summoned creatures are not new to the Final Fantasy series, the concept and function of Guardian Forces (or GFs) is new to Final Fantasy VIII. GFs are not only summonable creatures, but through the junction system they can increase a character's stats. In fact, junctioning is pretty much required, as it's the only way to access most commands. Also see Part VII.C: Finding GFs.

To junction a GF, access the menu and select Junction. Available GFs will be displayed in white (you can't junction to multiple characters). After selecting a GF, you need to junction magic. It's important for raising a character's stats, but not so important that you need to fiddle with it yourself; just select the Auto option and let the computer do it. Next, make sure you select Command and Character Abilities. Command Abilities are available to your character during battle. It's a good idea to have at least one person with Draw, one with Magic, and one with Item. Character Ablilities are additional bonuses to your characters' stats and such.

GFs grow the same way you do, through EXP. They also gain AP, which goes towards learning new abilities. Each GF can only learn one ability at a time, and you need to set this in the menu. GFs have the potential to learn many abilities, but can only "know" 22 at a time. Some abilities are upgrades to others, so you can clear those using the item Amnesia Greens to make way for better ones. Abilities can also be learned instantly using various items that you find or buy. "Boost" is an ability you should learn early on, as it will increase a GF's attack power.

GFs also have compatibility ratings. Compatibility refers to how much a GF "likes" the character it's junctioned to and affects how long it takes to summon a GF in battle. You can raise compatibility in many ways: by summoning the GF, by healing it, by using the same elemental magic that the GF uses, and by using various items.

E. Status Ailments & Benefits

FF8 has a status system, like all the other Final Fantasies. When a character has a particular status, he/she behaves differently from normal. Junctioning various magics can defend against or attack with a status. Here are the various statuses:

F. The World Map

Towns & Places

Areas & Regions

G. Chocobo World & Pocket Station

1. Explanation

The Pocket Station was Sony's portable gaming system. Chocobo World was somewhat unique in that it was not only a game in its own right, but also served as an add-on to Final Fantasy VIII. For the PC version, Chocobo World is included in the installation, and can be accessed from the start menu. In FF8 proper, once you solve any of the Chocobo Forest puzzles, you get access to Boko on the Save menu. Send him to Chocobo World so he can begin his adventure. Bring him home, and he can be summoned in battle with a Gysahl Green.

2. Controls

The game is played entirely with the keyboard:
Key Function
arrow keys on Map/Field Move Boko/Cursor
up/down on menu change option
left/right on menu change screen
Ctrl Open/close Menu, wake Boko

3. Playing

See Part VII.S: ChocoboWorld Secrets for details and spoilers. The game opens on the Field screen. There's not much to see here. Hit Ctrl to bring up the menu. The first screen is the Map screen. The flashing dot is Boko, the solid dots are events. Events are places where Boco will either meet a friend or an enemy. Friends include Moomba, who gives you weapons; Cactuar, who gives you items; and plot friends like Mog and Coco. Enemies you have to fight.

The next menu screen is the Status Screen. It shows Boco's current weapon, Level, HP, and ID. When Moomba shows up with a new weapon, you have a choice of keeping your current one, or using the new one. If the game is on Auto mode, the computer will choose whichever weapon's numbers add up to more. This screen is a good place to check on Boco's stats if you've let it run for awhile.

The item screen shows the number and quality of the items that Cactuar has given you. "A" is the best type of item, and is correspondingly rare. Similarly, "D" is the most common, and of the lowest quality. Once you get Boco in FF8, bringing him home also brings all the items he's found so far into your FF8 inventory.

Event Wait is the "autoplay" screen. Turning this on makes the game wait for you before going into an event. Turning it off lets the computer handle everything. Note that even if it's off, you can still control the game, to a certain extent.

The Mog screen isn't available until you find him. Turning him on Standby lets him assist in battle. He'll appear when Boko's HP falls to zero, and perform one final attack. If he wins, Boko stays alive, and continues with 1 HP.

The Movement screen determines how Boko will move around the map. You can still override this by using the arrow keys on either the World Map or Field screens.

Occasionally, Boko will pause to take a nap or goof off. When he does, his HP will slowly regenerate. You can wake him by hitting the Ctrl key.

H. Triple Triad

Triple Triad is a sub-game like no other. Throughout the entire game you can challenge various NPCs to a game of cards. Aside from the challenge of collecting all the rare cards, you can refine them into valuable items. One thing to note is that Triple Triad is completely optional. Skip it if you find it too challenging, boring, a waste of time, or whatever.

Challenging someone is easy. First, you must have at least five cards. The easiest way to get these is to talk to the guy on near the elevator on the second floor of Balamb Garden, near the start of the game (for a complete list of cards, see Part VII.B: Triple Triad). After that, simply walk up to an NPC and hit Challenge. Most likely they'll accept your challenge, but if not you'll just end up conversing with them. If you're currently on an assignment it's best not to play, as SeeD doesn't like it when their employees goof off while working.

All cards have four sides, each with a number value, 1 through 10, with 10 being denoted by an A. The playing table is set up with three rows of three places (hence the name triple Triad). The computer randomly selects who goes first. That player places a card. Players then take turns placing cards. When a card is placed next to another card, the values of the adjacent sides are compared. The card with the lower value is then "flipped" over, shown by a change in color. The winner has control of the most cards at the end of the game.

1. Rules

The biggest challenge you face in triple Triad is the rules. They change constantly, and some are quite annoying. Each area starts out with its own unique set of rules, and these change depending on your interaction with them. When you play cards in one area, then travel to a new area without those rules, an NPC may suggest you play with a combination of the local and "new" rules. After the game, the old rules may be replaced with the new ones. If you get too frustrated, the Card Queen can change rules for a fee.

Here are the rules:

I. General Tips

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