Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Playing a crucial (though often understated) role in the plot of Final Fantasy VIII, the Guardian Forces - heretofore known as 'GFs' - are vital to surviving the game. Without GFs equipped, your characters can only use the Attack and Limit commands and cannot junction magic to their stats, leading to quick, pointless deaths. There are only so many GFs to go around, as well, so it's wise to get every GF as soon as you can.
This guide will help you locate and obtain the GFs of Final Fantasy VIII. Read these words thoroughly, as you absolutely can miss some of the GFs, and permanently at that.
The only freebies in Final Fantasy VIII, Quezacotl and Shiva are a part of your inventory from the beginning onward. They'll be staples of your GF collection for a long time, too, so don't forget to equip and upgrade both of them.
Another mandatory GF, Ifrit joins your collection shortly after the game begins. Squall will need to go on an exam run into the Fire Cavern east of Balamb Garden before his first official mission, accompanied by Quistis, and at the end they'll face off against Ifrit. Defeat the monster to earn Ifrit's services as a GF.
During the mission to Dollet near the beginning of Final Fantasy VIII, you'll face off against a boss monster named Elvoret, atop the Dollet Radio Tower. If you try to Draw magic from Elvoret, you'll see Siren among its repertoire. Draw Siren before killing the boss to earn the GF. If you miss Siren here you can also earn it from the Tri-Point boss in Ultimecia Castle at the end of the game, though it's highly advisable that you get Siren during the Dollet mission. (The same, of course, goes for the rest of the GFs you can miss.)
This tag-team GF is found in the Tomb of the Unknown King, a short walk from Deling City. You'll need to enter the Tomb to complete a mission for General Caraway, though if you complete the Tomb's puzzles you'll unlock a central chamber where the Brothers are waiting. Defeat them in a boss battle and they will join you as a GF.
One of the stranger GF acquisitions in Final Fantasy VIII, Diabolos can be acquired shortly after your first major mission, though the chances are good that your party will need some toughening up first. Just before you embark on your mission to Timber Headmaster Cid will hand over a Magic Lamp. Check it via the item menu and you'll unleash Diabolos for a boss battle. Beat it to earn the Diabolos GF.
A support-style GF, Carbuncle is attached to the Iguion bosses that you'll face during the assassination attempt on Edea in Deling City. You'll fight them shortly before facing off against Seifer and the sorceress. If you don't Draw Carbuncle here, you can also get it from the Krysta boss in Ultimecia's Castle.
A powerful water-based GF, Leviathan is attached to another boss. After the missile attack that turns Balamb Garden into a vehicle your party will be summoned into the depths of the Garden to speak to Garden Master NORG. NORG is a nasty beast who will attack your party. Draw Leviathan from him before the end of the fight. Alternately, you can Draw Leviathan from the Trauma boss in Ultimecia's Castle.
The boss Drawing continues. After the departure of Balamb Garden from its usual berth the town of Balamb will be invaded by the Galbadian military, and your team will need to sneak in and attempt to drive them off. This culminates in a boss battle against Fujin and Raijin. Pandemona can be drawn from Fujin. If you accidentally defeat her without obtaining Pandemona, you can get it from the Red Giant boss in Ultimecia's Castle.
Another GF boss battle, Cerberus is an optional enemy that you'll nevertheless be forced to run right past. Cerberus is located in Galbadia Garden during the Garden-on-Garden brawl midway through Final Fantasy VIII, in the middle of the atrium. Best it to earn the GF. If you decide to ignore Cerberus in Galbadia Garden, you can obtain it from the Gargantua boss in Ultimecia's Castle.
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The second GF you can get during the Balamb/Galbadia Garden battle, Alexander is held by none other than Sorceress Ultimecia. You can Draw it from her during the final battle with the sorceress and her lapdog Seifer. Failing to do so will send Alexander into the hands of the Catoblepas boss, located in Ultimecia's Castle.
One of the odder GFs in Final Fantasy VIII, Doomtrain also requires the most legwork to acquire out of the bunch. You'll need several items to place it alongside the rest of your GFs. These items include:
- The Solomon Ring, located at Tear's Point in Esthar, near the statue of the woman;
- Six Steel Pipes, dropped by / stolen from Wendigos in the forests around Timber or refined from Elastoid cards;
- Six Marlboro Tentacles, dropped by / stolen from Marlboros on the Islands Closest to Heaven and Hell and refined from Marlboro cards; and
- Six Remedy+, which are refined from ten Remedies using Alexander's Med Lvl Up ability.
Use the Solomon Ring once you have all of these items in place and you'll acquire Doom Train.
The mighty recurring dragon of Final Fantasy series, Bahamut is not an easy acquisition in Final Fantasy VIII. To nab this beast, you'll need to enter the Deep Sea Research Centre, a hidden location in the far southwest of the map, way out to sea. You'll need the Ragnarok to enter. Within the DSRC, you'll find a blue containment unit that subjects you to enemy battles if you move whenever it is pulsing with light. Slowly make your way to the light, then, when asked questions, answer in this order:
- "It's not our will to fight"
- "It's our nature" (this is a hidden option at the bottom of the list)
Answering correctly will pit you against Bahamut. Defeat it in battle to earn the Bahamut GF.
Another recurring beastie, the Cactuar GF is obtained by defeating - yes, defeating, there's no need to Draw - the Jumbo Cactuar boss. Once you have the Ragnarok, head to the Centra continent in the south of the world map and check along the eastern shore for a small, desert island. You'll occasionally see a cactus pop up on the map. Touch the cactus to fight the Jumbo Cactuar.
The silent stalkers of the Final Fantasy franchise make a return in Final Fantasy VIII, appearing primarily in one location - which, unsurprisingly, is also where you can get their GF. Once you have Balamb Garden under your control, use it to travel to the Centra continent and check the blasted plains of the northern island's southern tip. You'll see an odd, diamond-shaped structure called the Centra Ruins.
Enter the Ruins and you'll immediately set off a countdown. Ignore it for now and run around the entry area, a circular platform with stairs in the back. Here you will encounter slews of Tonberries. Keep killing Tonberries and, after a minimum of twenty kills, you'll run into the King Tonberry. Defeat this enemy for the Tonberry GF. The game keeps track of your kills, so you can always leave and come back without needing to start over.
The most powerful of the GFs by a fair margin, Eden is also the most difficult to get. After you defeat and acquire Bahamut in the Deep Sea Research Centre you'll find a path deeper into the facility. Beyond is a math puzzle of sorts that will take you further and further down, and when you reach the depths of the facility, inside an underwater cave, you'll find the dreaded Ultima Weapon. You can Draw Eden from Ultima Weapon, though you'll also need to survive the battle to make use of the GF.
Alternately, if all of that is too daunting, you can wait until you reach Ultimecia's Castle. The Tiamat boss is holding Eden if you didn't get it earlier. (Given how difficult Ultima Weapon can be, this is the one GF where it might be worth waiting to get it. Tiamat is much easier to beat.)
Despite not appearing alongside the rest of GFs in the menu, Odin and Gilgamesh still count... kinda. They both appear in battle and can be quite helpful, despite not providing any junctioning services, and even work into the plot a little.
First you need to retrieve Odin. You'll have heard from him already if you went to the Centra Ruins, as he challenges you to track him down within a time limit. Make your way through the puzzles of the area and you'll find him waiting near the top of the Ruins. Diabolos' Enc-None ability will make this trip much easier. Odin challenges you to a battle, and he will not make a single move so long as you don't run out of time during the fight. Defeat Odin and he will randomly appear to dispatch enemies in battles. Fail to beat him before time out, and... Game Over.
Odin can be acquired before and after Time Compression. If, however, you recruit his help before completing the events in the Lunatic Pandora, Odin will show up during the fight against Seifer and be killed. He'll then be replaced by Gilgamesh during that same battle, and Gilgamesh will take Odin's place as a random summon for the duration of the game. If you recruit Odin after the Time Compression, however, Gilgamesh will never appear in your game.
For combat purposes, Odin and Gilgamesh play out differently. Odin will show up at the beginning of normal battles and attempt to kill every enemy on the screen, usually succeeding. Gilgamesh, by contrast, can show up at any time during battles - including boss battles - and has a number of potential attacks, including ones that may fail. Ultimately Gilgamesh has more utility, though which you want is up to you.
Should You Recruit Odin or Gilgamesh?
In most games this wouldn't be a question, but given the unique nature of Final Fantasy VIII's battle system, it's worth asking whether or not you want either of these two characters. Odin and Gilgamesh are both beyond your control, and may show up to kill enemies you'd rather avoid, mug, or transform into an item. Gaining experience makes Final Fantasy VIII more difficult, and you're virtually guaranteed to get some with Odin or Gilgamesh butting into your fights. Think carefully before you recruit either one.