Squall serves as the main character in Final Fantasy VIII. Interestingly, though, we actually learn more about Squall through his own thoughts as the majority of his dialogue is internal and we are allowed to eavesdrop on it. He starts of the game as a clear loner, hesitant to really fully trust anyone and let people in. The majority of the time Squall is very focused and ensures everyone focuses on the orders given, even if it makes him seem cold.
Eventually, his relationship with Rinoa begins to change him drastically. He begins to get more in touch with his feelings, and eventually realizes that he has fallen for here. This leads to a completely different Squall towards the end of the game. He is willing to through caution to the wind just in order to make sure Rinoa will be safe.
Squall’s past ends up being rather complicated and is quite hard to piece together. While we know Squall was in Edea’s orphanage, it is never really quite explained how he got there; however, it can be inferred that in some way or another, his “sis”, Ellone helped him get there, after his mother, Raine, died after complications in child birth. Yes, this does mean that Laguna, whose past Squall is continuously sent to view, is indeed Squall’s father (although the game isn’t quite clear on whether either of them realize their connection).
Squall wields a weapon unique to Final Fantasy VIII, the Gunblade. The gun does not actually shoot bullets, but rather uses the explosions in the chamber of the weapon to make the weapon vibrate as it strikes its target, causing more damage than normal. This can actually be controlled by the player by hitting a button just as the weapon strikes. His limit break, Renzokuken, allows him to unleash a fury of strikes with his gunblade and can be randomly be capped off with an additional attack based on the weapon he has equipped.
Rinoa serves as the main love interest for Squall in the game (despite having a bit of a fling with Seifer a year earlier). Her attitude serves as a direct opposite to Squall. She is an open book, and tries desperately throughout much of the game to get Squall to open up to her and everyone else. At the beginning of the game, she leads a small resistance group known as the Tiber Owls. She was able to convince Cid to assign some SeeDs to her cause, allowing Squall and her to meet in earnest. Later on in the game, Rinoa gains sorceress powers and ends up becoming the sorceress of the present time.
After the party arrives in Deling City, we start to quickly learn about Rinoa’s past. She is the daughter of General Caraway of the Galbadian Army and has quite the rocky relationship with him. The party learns that her mother died while she was very young and her relationship grew worse with her father ever since. What isn’t explicitly stated in the game though, is who Rinoa’s mother is; however, there are enough dots to make the connection.
Rinoa’s mother is actually Laguna’s first love interest, the piano player, Julia (whose last name is also Heartilly). After Laguna and Julia first hit it off, Laguna was quickly called away on a mission. As we know, he never returned to Deling City and Julia assumed he was killed in action. Caraway was a personal friend of her’s and he helped her through the time, and encouraged her to write songs as she dreamed. She later penned, “Eyes on Me”, the game’s theme song, inspired by Laguna. Later on the two married and had Rinoa.
It is quite ironic though, that Rinoa and Squall end up falling for each other as their relationship ends up mirroring the one that just couldn’t work out between Laguna and Julia.
Rinoa’s weapon is another unique one in the Final Fantasy universe, the Blaster Edge. This weapon works somewhat like a boomerang; however, it is strapped to her wrist via a launching device. Her initial limit breaks use her dog, Angelo; however, when she gains her sorceress powers, she can use a second limit break that allows her to sprout angel wings and go on a spell casting rage.
Selphie is the quirky, spunky, clumsy, (insert generic comic-relief adjective here) girl in this game. She was a transfer to Balamb Garden from Trabia Garden and is first encountered while Squall is on his final SeeD exam. She grew up in the same orphanage with Edea and the rest of the SeeDs. Throughout the game she develops a crush on Irvine and provides many a laugh throughout the game.
She wields gigantic nunchaku and her limit break, Slots, allows her to cast a random magic spell a random number of times (up to 5), including magic that is not currently in her inventory as well as four unique spells. These spells are Full Cure, which completely heals the party and removes all status effects, Wall, which allows her to cast both Protect and Shell on the party, Rapture, which causes wings to appear on enemies and carry them away (doesn’t work on bosses), and the most powerful spell in the game, appropriately named “The End”, which allows the party to instantly win the battle, including many boss fights. The spells that appear are totally random, but the player has the option to select “Do Over” if they don’t like the result; however, enemies are free to attack during this time.
Zell is hothead of the SeeD bunch. His is a loudmouth, energetic, and a cocky bastard to boot — basically, think of everything Squall never is during the game and you have Zell. He is constantly in trouble for breaking Balamb Garden’s rules and also continuously butts heads with Seifer, who calls him what might be one of the most random insults of all time: “chickenwuss”. Zell also grew up in Edea’s orphanage, but was later adopted by a woman in the city of Balamb (although it is never explained how that happens).
Zell’s weapons are his fists, however, his gloves serve as weapon upgrades. His limit break is Duel, which allows the player to input commands that appear on screen. The player can input as many of these attack commands as possible within the time limit given. Like Squall’s limit break, he can randomly end his combo string with a finisher depending on the moves preformed and the finishers known to him at the time.
Quistis is only a few years older than the rest of the cast; however, her skills were so good as a SeeD, she was quickly promoted to an instructor despite her age. She is quite popular amongst Balamb Garden as well, earning herself a fan club known as the “Trepies”. However, during Squall’s final SeeD exam, she made sure her ship was the last to leave, giving them the chance to board and escape. This resulted in her losing her instructor’s license and being returned to normal SeeD status for the rest of the game.
Like the rest of the SeeD, she grew up in Edea’s orphanage. There, she was the bossy one of the bunch and constantly broke up fights between Squall and Seifer. She was eventually adopted, but for reasons not stated in the game, she ended up leaving for Balamb Garden and made it her home. While there she continued to keep an eye on Squall on Seifer. Later on in the game she explained why. She felt as if she was a big sister to Squall, and even at one point, confused these feelings as being in love with Squall since she was young and hid her feelings when she became and instructor. Seifer earned extra attention because he constantly ended up in trouble, on top of still trying to pick fights with Squall.
Her weapon is the whip and her limit break is the ability to use Blue Magic, which is magic/abilities used by monsters in the game. While the traditional method to learn such magic is to be personally hit by such spells, Quistis is able to learn these abilities by using certain items and completing certain quests. After that point, she learns the spell for good and can use it at any time her limit break becomes active.
Irvine is the last SeeD to join the party. He hails from Galbadia Garden and is known as the best sharpshooter there. He originally joins the party to be the sniper in the assassination attempt on Edea. He also fancies himself as quite the ladies man and constantly hits on all the female members of the cast. The irony of the situation though, is that when faced under massive amounts of pressure, he shuts down and becomes a nervous wreck despite his skill.
Irvine is the one that reminds the rest of the SeeDs that they grew up in Edea’s orphanage as the GFs had not completely taken that part of his memories from him like the others. Beyond his time at the orphanage though, we learn no more about Irvine’s past.
His weapon is a shotgun and his limit break is “Shot”. During this limit break, a player selects special ammo that is currently in the inventory and is given a time limit in which to get as many shots off as possible in a time limit. Each ammo has a particular attack power and rate of fire, causing the player to use a bit of strategy as to which ammo should be used.
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