Final Zone – Final Fantasy VIII

A whole weekend and six attempts this took me.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 19.29.01

Ultimecia is a boss that requires a lot of strategy before the fight even starts. With every character now present, you have to make sure all of the stats and abilities are with the right person, otherwise you can go into the battle and find yourself at a loss as soon as you begin.

With the eighth instalment, it revolves around time travel. Spanning over four disks, the main character, Squall, is a student at ‘Balamb Garden’, who finds himself trying to defeat the ultimate sorceress, Ultimecia.

First of all, I should explain some terms that you use throughout the game, otherwise you’re going to be lost in this piece, especially if you haven’t played Final Fantasy before.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.21.59

It’s a turn-based RPG, that features different choices in how you attack. This can be a simple melee attack with their fists or chosen weapon, or certain magic spells can be used to attack the enemy much more effectively, or to cure any team members alongside.

As you progress the game, you will also come across, or work towards a hidden Guardian Force summon, or GF for short. These are monsters that you can summon during a fight, which will perform a move that can inflict massive amounts of damage. They usually conform to an element, such as fire, water, electricity, but some can be random. They can come in the form of a monster, a machine, or a cactus.

In Final Fantasy VIII especially, you can manage these spells and abilities to each character by a ‘Junction’ system. It’s taken me over ten years to understand how it works, but essentially, it’s a way of improving your characters’ stats by attaching magic and GF’s to each team member.

A very short way of understanding the rules, but otherwise, it’s a fun game once you do understand the way it works.

After roaming the game across four disks, you finally reach the final boss’ castle, but it does a Tomb Raider, where it strips you of all your abilities and items.

The only way to get these back, is to fight the enemies in different parts of the mansion, and once you win a fight, you can select which ability you’d like returned to you. If you go past this without the magic function especially, you’ve set yourself up for a very short fight soon. Eventually, you get these abilities back, and you can then face Ultimecia.

The last fight is in four parts.

1. Her human form mainly tries to summon many magic spells, from ‘Demi’ to ‘Earthquake’.

2. The second is her summoning of her own ‘GF’, called Griever, to me a mix of two GF’s of Ifrit and Bahumut,  who is able to strike massive hits to your HP (Hit Points) in one turn, especially with the claws.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.28.23

3. The penultimate part is followed by a merger of Griever and Ultimecia using the ‘Junction’ technique that you’ve become familiar with since the start of the game. If you try to use a GF, they will instantly be destroyed, so do try to use ‘Triple’ and ‘Ultima’ spells as much as you can. After many hits across thirty minutes, the tale is lost, followed by the GF junction being destroyed and only leaving Ultimecia herself in her true form.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.50.26

4. The last part of Ultimecia is her true form; a slightly disturbing look which features one big eye of light on her face, with her form dwarfing in size compared to your party. The stage is completely black, with a song played in the background, mainly by harp to start with, which makes this last part ever so more creepy.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.05.40

Everytime a team member is fatally injured, they are replaced by another, so you always have to make sure that the plan you have with the abilities attached to each character is available, alongside any GF’s they have that could aid the battle. A lot of revival potions and spells will be used here, so make sure there’s at least 20 to use.

At last, after avoiding the ‘Apocalypse’ spells, she is beaten. You’re then treated to the conclusion of the story, and the end of Final Fantasy VIII.

This took me a long while to beat Ultimecia, with many a ‘Game Over’ screen seen, but it’s very fulfilling when you finally do. After a long time of managing all of your team members’ abilities, alongside seventeen years since failing at the start of Disk 4 with Adel for me, it was a long time coming.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.35.16

It’s the only Final Fantasy game that I like coming back to. Everyone raves about VII, but playing it myself a few years back, it just seems incredibly depressing to me, and exploring the world of VIII seems much more interesting than what Midgar ever did. I’m still amazed that Final Fantasy IX and X has been re-released onto new platforms and Steam lately, after only being available on Playstation. But with VIII, there’s been no rerelease on iOS as yet.

I hope this will be rectified, as being able to play as Squall on my iPad Pro will be an incredible time to waste away some hours. But for now, it’s available on Steam and the Playstation Store.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.47.35