The Junction System
Instead of focusing on a straight level grind, Square Enix introduced the Junction System in order to achieve stat increases. This system had two main parts, Guardian Forces and the drawing of magic.
Guardian Forces are the familiar summons in Final Fantasy VIII. Each one could be equipped, or rather, junctioned to a character. Each junctioned GF allows for certain abilities to be available to the character (and in some cases the whole party) and these abilities can be learned by gaining AP from fights. The abilities that where learned though, are completely up to the player as they can select which ability will be learned and all AP will go into that ability until it is learned.
Of course, the GFs can also be called into battle; however, unlike previous games, there is no MP. Instead, each GF has a certain amount of HP (which is also leveled along with the player) and when it is being called out, the GF’s HP replaces the players and they will take damage in place of the character. The GF can be summoned as many times as the player wishes as long as the GF’s HP is greater than zero. The speed in which the GF comes out is also based on another stat that measures the relationship between the character and the GF. The more a GF has been summoned by a character, the quicker they will come out in battle. Finally, a GF’s power can be boosted during its summon animation (which the player achieves by mashing the square button repeatedly), resulting in a much stronger attack.
In the game, only sorceresses are actually able to use magic on their own. However, GFs allow the characters to “Draw” magic from their enemies and obtain a certain amount of spells each time they do so, stacking to a maximum of 100 casts. These spells, referred to as “para-magic” are stored in each character’s magic inventory. While players can cast out of this inventory at will, they can also junction these spells to each individual stats. This process allows for all stats to be significantly boosted far more than simple leveling will ever allow. Each spell also effects each stat differently, allowing for the player to discover and experiment with several different combinations.
The Draw system though also allows for a unique function. The Draw command will allow for the player to store the spells drawn if they wish; however, they can also be casted instead of storing them, a process known as Draw/Cast. This allows for the player to not use the spells in their own inventory, and turn some powerful magical attacks right back at the enemy.
Of course, there are times when the Draw command will outright fail for both spell storing and casting, which is a danger the player must take into account during battle.
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