Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - Introduction to Balamb Garden

Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - Introduction to Balamb Garden
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Welcome to the official Bright Hub walkthrough of the Square Electronic Arts game, Final Fantasy 8. Released in 1999, FF8 has been a beloved RPG for a decade, and is still regarded as one of the top RPGs of all time, especially for its innovative battle improvements, stunning-for-its-time cinematics, and player emersion. For me, personally, Final Fantasy VIII ranks among the top RPGs I’ve ever played, and holds a high replay value even the fourth time through.

In this guide and walkthrough I will direct you through the main plot of the game, give detailed instructions for mastering the combat and junction system, show you how to play and make the most of the card game, as well as get all of the Guardian Forces, upgrade weaponry, and more!

In the Beginning…

FF8 - 2nd Floor Classroom

After a lovely cinematic introduction, your main character, Squall, wakes up in an infirmary bed. Answer the Dr.’s questions however you like - it only effects the dialogue. Name Squall by selecting “confirm”, or rename him to whatever you wish. At this point you’ll meet Quistis Trepe - Squall’s instructor and another main playable character in the game. Walk with her away from the Infirmary and you’ll get a cinematic introduction to Balamb Garden.

Once Squall becomes controllable in the classroom, go to the front and speak with Quistis. She’ll direct you to the study panel, back at your desk. I highly recommend you take this time to learn what you can about the story and how to play the game. The tutorial will offer a wealth of information, but for now focus on learning about GFs, the battle system, card game, and especially the icons. When you select the tutorial you will be introduced to your first two GFs - Quezacoatl and Shiva. When you get into the meat of the game elements icons will be used quite often, and recognizing them on sight is very useful.

On this panel you’ll also notice a selection called SeeD Test, which is greyed out. Once you complete the SeeD exam later in the game, this will be useful to you. Most of the information here can be found in the Tutorial area of your main menu as well.

Selphie and the Tour

Selphie Tilmitt

After you’ve reviewed the tutorial at the Study Panel, exit the classroom and go down the hall. A frantic running girl will smack right into you - This is Selphie, who will be another of the main playable characters in the game. Respond to Selphie with “Are you OK?”, and when she asks for a tour say “Yes.” This tour is more for you than it is for her.

FF8 - 2nd Floor Hallway

Go down the hall that Selphie came from and you’ll see a man standing on the right side of the walkway. Speak to him, and he’ll give you your first set of Cards. Enter the elevator, which takes you to the first floor. The Garden Directory is in the center of the atrium, and shows a simplistic map of the layout of the Garden. To get around the Garden quickly, you can use the directory. Simply select the area you want to go to and it will take you there.

FF8 - Balamb Garden Atrium and Directory

To the left of the directory is a save point - a blue and yellow spinning circle thing. When you approach the save point it will instruct you to save your game. I suggest you do this as often as possible, which will likely be whenever you see one of these save points. You may only ever save your game when you are at a save point, or when you’re out on the open world which you’ll encounter later.

Balamb Garden

Balamb Garden Atrium and Directory

After you’re finished with Selphie, I suggest you take a real tour of the Garden. Skip the Dormatory, Front Gate, Training Center, and Infirmary - you’ll be seeing plenty of those places. In the cafeteria you’ll find tidbits of the story by talking to the various characters there - including Seifer and his posse. This is also where Trepie #3 is located, which we’ll talk about later on in the card segment of the game tutorial.

In the quad you’ll encounter the makings of the Garden Festival - something that will figure into the game at a later point. Selphie mentions this during your tour, and desperately wants you to be a part of it. At this point all you can really do is poke around and speak to some of the other students - Selphie included, about what’s going on there.

FF8 - Occult Fan 1 in Library

In the Library you’ll find two things that will actually prove to be quite useful. The first of these is a magazine called Occult Fan, issue 1. While using this item does absolutely nothing for you at this point, you will be able to sell it for quite a bit of gil once you reach a shop - again, this is a little later in the game. The magazine is located on one of the bookshelves - namely, the one on the rightmost side of the screen.

FF8 - Library Draw Point - Esuna

From where you picked up Occult Fan 1, move towards the left section of that bookshelf. You’ll come across a guy fishing for a book, and your first Draw Point. Interacting with the draw point will give you a message that says “Esuna Found: No one can draw”. This is because you have not yet junctioned a GF. Read this junctioning tutorial to learn about GF and magic junctions in Final Fantasy VIII.

Drawing Magic

FF8 - Draw Point Found, No One Can Draw

Now that you know how to Junction a GF and select abilities, do this with Squall. Junction Quetzalcoatl to Squall and select Draw, Magic, and GF as your three battle abilities. Now, interact with the Draw Point again. This time it asks you “Who Will Draw?” Select Squall, and you will receive several Esunas.

Esuna is a magic ability that removes all negative status effects, and is a very powerful one to have at this stage in the game.

Go Meet Quistis

FF8 - Draw Cure Front Gate

Now that you’ve explored all the important areas, its time to go meet Quistis at the front gate for your SeeD Test Prerequisite: the Fire Cavern. Instead of using the directoy, run there from the Atrium - you’ll be picking up another Draw Point along the way. After going through the turnstyles and a little toward the front gate, you’ll see a draw point on the left side. Draw Cure from it.

FF8 - Meet Quistis at the Front Gate

When you meet Quistis at the gate she’ll want to give you a tutorial on junctioning - but you’ve already mastered that, so you can skip it if you want.

At this point you’re going to want to Junction Shiva to Quistis and set up her abilities. I recommend giving her Draw, GF, and Item or Draw, GF, and Magic. It’s up to you. You also are going to want to give Magic to Quistis.

FF8 - Junction Screen

1. Go to your main menu screen and select “Magic”.

2. Select the Character who has Magic - in this case, Squall.

3. On the Magic screen, select Exchange, select Squall, and the Magic you want to exchange.

4. Select who you want to receive the magic - in this case, Quistis.

5. Select “Split” and give Quistis at least one Esuna and one Cure.

In the next section of this guide I’ll show you how to obtain more magic and instruct you in Junctioning it for the best effect in the Fire Cavern. I’ll also walk you through the Fire Cavern test, the Ifrit Boss Fight, and preparing for the SeeD Exam.

This post is part of the series: Final Fantasy VIII Walkthroughs

A collection of walkthroughs to help guide you through the challenges of Final Fantasy VIII.

  1. Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - Balamb Garden Training Center
  2. Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - SeeD Inauguration
  3. Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - SeeD Exam Boss Battles
  4. Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - The SeeD Exam
  5. Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - Ifrit and the Fire Cavern
  6. Final Fantasy VIII Walkthrough - Introduction to Final Fantasy 8 and Balamb Garden