Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - SeeD Inauguration
In one of the most beloved and remembered sections of the epic Final Fantasy VIII game, we'll go through the events following the SeeD exam, up through the epic Dance and SeeD inauguration party.
Seifer is a Jerk
When your party arrives back in Balamb after the arduous SeeD exam, Seifer and his 'pals' take the only car, leaving Squall, Selphie, and Zell stranded. It looks like you're going to have to hoof it back to Garden. However, since you're stuck in Balamb for the aternoon you might as well try to enjoy it. First stop: the Hotel.
Head into town by running "down" on your screen, away from the marina. On the next screen, run right around the building, and go inside. This is the hotel. You can skip talking to the lady - she won't stop you. Go upstairs where you'll find a save point, and an old Timber Maniacs issue to read.
Let's Play Some Cards
This day-trip is also the perfect time to learn to play some cards. You should have already picked up a starter deck at Balamb Garden, as well as the Ifrit card, which gives you a good enough deck to win with. Exit the hotel and head left. Remember the draw point from before? It's refreshed so you can draw it again. Talk to the guy sitting on the bench - he recognizes Zell. Apparently Zell's mom lives nearby. We'll talk to her later.
Head left, which takes you to the train station. Here is the shop, and also the Queen of Cards. If you talk to her she'll try to convince you to pay her tons of money to spread a crappy game rule - don't be suckered in. The easiest way to learn new card rules is to just play with her. Eventually you'll learn a variety of new rules, but be careful. Some of them are quite undesirable. To learn the basics of playing the Triple Triad card game, read this tutorial. To learn about advanced rules and variations, and how rules are learned and spread, read this advanced guide.
After reading those guides you should have the skills you need to beat the "Queen" at her own game. She has some pretty decent cards, and you're going to want to take as many of them as possible from her. Be careful, though. If you lose she'll take Ifrit and chances are you won't be able to get it back. Save your game before playing her and reload if you lose a valuable card.
Zell's Mom Has Got it Goin' On
After you've deprived the Queen of Cards of everything that you desire, you can head over to Zell's Mom's place to check out the breeding ground of one of the characters that will be in your party 'til the bitter end. Head back towards the guy on the bench, then enter the first door on the right side of that screen. Talk to Zell's mother, and explore the house a little bit. Zell will stop you before you have a chance to enter his room - It's "sacred", you know.
His mother has a nice surprise up her sleeve, however. She is quite the card player. In fact, the cards you've managed to acquire up 'til this point are wholly insufficient. Keep this in mind though - not only does she carry the classic Biggs and Wedge card, she also is the only person in the game with Zell's card. You're going to want to come back a little bit later in the game and win that bad boy off of her.
Back to Garden
That's about all the little easter eggs the town of Balamb has to offer up until this point. When you've explored to your heart's content head on back to Balamb Garden. If you follow the road you won't encounter any extraneous monsters. If you're in the market for some XP and quite possibly some items and/or cards to refine into great magics, however, you can hit the beach and try your luck with some more advanced beasts.
Once at Garden, head towards the atrium and Directory. Along the way, be sure to hit up the Cure draw point again, and if you're interested, the man at the turnstiles has some pretty good Cards. Once inside, be sure to speak to Xu, Cid, and Quistis. When you're finished, head off to the right and speak to a moping Seifer. After a brief cutscene, head back towards the directory, save your game, and go up the elevator to the second floor hallway. Speak to everyone in the hallway and wait for the cutscene where Squall's (and Zell's) names are called for passing the SeeD exam.
During the short and sweet inauguration Cid will say a few things (you'll notice Selphie is also one of the passing students). If you get the feeling that he is being strong-armed by the Garden staff, good job picking up on the nuance. You'll find out much later what is really going on here - and it is all part of the intrigue that makes this game such a pleasure to play. Be sure to talk to Cid after his truncated speech to receive the Battle Meter, which you'll be able to access from the menu.
After receiving a round of applause by those gathered in the second floor hallway, the screen will fade to black and the next thing you'll see is your SeeD rank report. The highest possible SeeD rank to attain is 10 on this report, so best of luck to you! Your SeeD rank determines your daily salary. You can raise your SeeD rank by passing SeeD rank tests found in the menu. Click through this and the next event is you and Selphie in the dorms - she is showing off her new SeeD uniform. Have Squall change into his, then speak to Selphie to leave and attend the inauguration party.
This is, in essence, just another cutscene. There is very little player decision involved here. Click through the dialog with Zell and Selphie, but most of all just enjoy the show - this is one of the most beloved and remembered animations in the game!
In the next section of the guide, we'll go over the Training Center events and how to progress through that part of the game, on into Squall and the team's first real SeeD mission.