Balamb Garden - Beginning the Adventure
(Disc 1)

FF8 - the predecessor to Square’s wildly successful game, Final Fantasy VII. Certainly a worthy follow-up and one of my all-time favourite games. You can click on any of the screenshots for an enlarged view. So let’s get started...

Final Fantasy VII Intro Screen

Balamb Garden Infirmary

Final Fantasy VIII starts off in the infirmary area of Balamb Garden after the lead character gets his ass handed to him by Seifer. Answer Dr. Kadowaki’s questions so we can move on and get into some of the fun parts of the game!

Dr. Kadowaki will ask you what you would like to name the main character of the game. His default name is Squall and I will be referring to each of the characters by their default names. Somehow any name other than Squall seems unfitting so I would suggest leaving his name as the default selection – just as the game designers intended.

Dr. Kadowaki speaking to Squall in the Infirmary
Quistis during her introduction cinematic

Before you leave the infirmary you will be introduced to Quistis, Squall’s instructor, and the first member of your team. She is a damn good party member at that and I highly recommend using her throughout the game. More information about the strengths and weakness of the various characters is available in the Character section.

Balamb Classroom

Quistis will begin running through some lecture material once the two of you reach the classroom. Go up and speak with Quistis when she calls you up to the front of the classroom. Quistis will explain a few things regarding the examinations, the Fire Cavern, etc. and will send you back to your desk to study up on Guardian Forces. The various tutorials on the screen will give you a full rundown on how to set yourself up for the upcoming battles. Head out of the classroom once you have finished reading up.

Balamb Garden during the opening cinematic
Selphie running past Squall in the Balamb Garden hallway

Another student will run into you as you walk down the hallway (your first unnofficial encounter with Selphie). After explaining that she is new to the school, she will ask if you are interested in partaking in a tour around the grounds. Selecting “Sure” gives you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with Balamb Garden along with some side commentary as you go along. It is up to you whether you would like to go.

Card Player meeting up with Squall in the hallway

Speak to the man along the hallway on your way to the elevator (shown in the screenshot to the above). He will provide you with your first set of Triple Triad cards. The Triple Triad card game is both an interesting side quest as well as one hell of a good way to acquire magic and other useful resources as you progress through the game. I would highly recommend getting good at the game and gathering up cards along your journey. More information about Triple Triad can be found in the Triple Triad section.

Balamb Garden

Make your way to the save point and save your game once you get down the elevator just to make sure you do not have to go through all of those intro conversations again. One of the major downsides of this game is that you cannot skip any of the videos or dialogue sessions – even if you have watched them 18 times (like I have).

Squall at the elevator in Balamb Garden
Squall checking out the Library sign in Balamb Garden

Before you begin your adventure with Quistis as your teammate you should start by making your way back to the library. I have provided a map in the screenshot below as well as a screenshot of what the outside of the library looks like.

Balamb Garden Map
Occult Fan I in the Balamb Library

In the first area of the library (at the back of the room) you will find a draw point for Esuna magic. Just make sure that you have one of your fancy new Guardian Forces junctioned (either Shiva or Quetzacoatl) and that Squall has the Draw ability activated. Back in the main part of the library you will also find [Occult Fan I].

Make your way out the front entrance of Balamb Gardens and do not forget to draw from the second draw point on your way out for some free Cure magic.