Final Fantasy VIII: Junction System, Explained

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Final Fantasy VIII: Junction System, Explained

The earliest games in the Final Fantasy series specifically distinguished between melee and magic-using classes by equating them to the standard role-playing archetypes of pen-and-paper RPGs. As the series continued to grow and develop, the teams behind each new Final Fantasy game introduced new wrinkles to the class and magic systems of each title, to where by the time of Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII‘s release, every character could use both physical and magic attacks. The Materia system from Final Fantasy VII significantly levels the playing field, making it a perfect starter game for the series. Interesting then that Square follows it up with one of the most complex and intricate magic systems in the franchise with Final Fantasy VIII‘s Junctioning.

Rather than learn spells permanently and cast them endlessly with an ever-depleting pool of magic points (MP), players must draw individual spells from enemies and stockpile them. The more copies of a spell a player has, the more powerful its Junction is, which is facilitated by equipping Final Fantasy VIII‘s version of the iconic summon monsters — Guardian Forces. Junctioning can be a bit of an intimidating system to wrap your head around, and it has left Final Fantasy VIII with a bit of a mixed perception among series fans. Still, the game has an ardent cult following that is partially due to the power the Junctioning system affords when players correctly engage with it.

How Junctioning Works

Final Fantasy VIII gameplay

Before diving into the intricacies of Final Fantasy VIII Junctioning, it’s important to note that players can get a very adequate tutorial of the system from Quistis right at the very beginning of the game. After the introductory FMV and conversation with Dr. Kadowaka and Quistis, Squall will end up back in the classroom. Here, Quistis informs him that he should review his Study Panel before they head to the Fire Cavern. Interacting with the Study Panel gives Squall access to the game’s first two Guardian Forces, Shiva and Quezacotl, and provides tutorial information on several of Final Fantasy VIII‘s mechanics. Later, both before and after heading to the Fire Cavern with Quistis, she walks the player through the Junctioning system.

To Junction, players first need to assign a Guardian Force to a character. Each Guardian Force has preset abilities that allow the player to Junction spells to various stats or boosts. And, after equipping a Guardian Force, characters can Junction the spells they Draw to these stat-boosting abilities. As an example, any Guardian Force that has the Vit-J ability will allow the player to Junction magic spells to the Vitality stat after equipping that particular Guardian Force. The Vitality stat (which determines resistance to physical attacks) then increases greatly after junctioning restorative magic to it. Luckily, Final Fantasy VIII allows characters to equip multiple Guardian Forces, and through careful allocation players can boost every stat of every one of their characters.

However, before being able to Junction, players must Draw spells from enemies or refine them from Triple Triad cards and/or items. More than just a fun distraction and addictive card-battling mini-game, Triple Triad is an essential component toward getting the most out of Final Fantasy VIII and the Junction system.

The Importance of Triple Triad and Drawing Spells

Final Fantasy VIII gameplay

Final Fantasy VIII happens to be one of the notorious few games in the series to include a robust card-battling mini-game in the form of Triple Triad. While players can choose to completely ignore Triple Triad and still enjoy their time with Final Fantasy VIII, to do so would be a critical mistake. Not only can players acquire some incredibly powerful magic in abundant supply prior to the first real mission of Final Fantasy VIII‘s main quest, it’s possible to utilize Triple Triad to get the materials to craft Squall’s most powerful weapon (Lionheart) before the end of Disc 1. And, most importantly, playing Triple Triad is an absolute blast.

Drawing magic spells from enemies is hugely important to the Junctioning process as well, especially as players progress further into Final Fantasy VIII‘s story. There are several enemies and bosses that exclusively have possession of some of the best magic in the game, and having a guide of Final Fantasy VIII‘s bosses handy is helpful to identify which magic players will want to focus on Drawing ahead of the encounter. The benefit to Drawing is being able to quickly stockpile more of a particular spell, with 100 units of a spell providing the highest boost/bonus to its Junction.

In one example, the Abyss Worm card is fairly easily obtainable from several of the Triple Triad players in Balamb Garden. Using the Card Mod ability, which allows players to transform Triple Triad cards into items, players can refine Abyss Worm cards into Windmills, which can then be further refined into the Tornado spell using Quezacotl’s ability to refine items into Thunder and Wind magic. The Tornado spell, Junctioned to the strength stat, can have players dealing damage in the thousands at below level 10.

The Low-Level Playthrough Approach

Final Fantasy VIII gameplay

In order to get the most out of the Junction system and the stat boosts it provides, it’s actually best to keep the party’s level as low as possible, later making use of the Cactaur GF to bring character stats to the max 255 through its level-up bonuses. Enemies in Final Fantasy VIII, including bosses, scale to the player’s average level. For instance, fighting a group of enemies at level 10 will see the enemies also be level 10, while fighting that same group of enemies at level 100 will see the same once trivial encounter become something akin to a mini-boss. Thankfully, there are several ways to facilitate keeping a low level throughout your playthrough.

The easiest way to make sure player levels are kept low is to use the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered‘s “No Random Encounters” cheat, which removes the potential for Squall and his companions to face enemies unless the boost is turned off. Alternatively, players can use the Magic Lamp to acquire the Diablos GF (which they should absolutely do regardless) and then focus on first unlocking its abilities that reduce and then eliminate random encounters. One last method is to use the Card combat ability learned from Quezacotl to transform enemies into Triple Triad cards, only earning AP but no EXP from battles in the process.

With character levels low, players will have an easier time with enemies and bosses that would otherwise prove challenging, opening up plenty of opportunity to Draw the most valuable magic spells at low or no-risk. Then, once players reach Disc 4 and have the Cactaur GF, leveling up one character at a time and boosting their stats can see players create the ultimate party that has all stats at their max level of 255.

Guardian Forces & Abilities

Final Fantasy VIII Guardian Force menu
  • Quezacotl
  • Shiva
  • Ifrit
  • Siren
  • Brothers
  • Diablos
  • Carbuncle
  • Leviathan
  • Pandemona
  • Cerberus
  • Alexander
  • Doomtrain
  • Bahamut
  • Cactaur
  • Tonberry
  • Eden

Ability Descriptions

Ability NameEffect
HP-JJunction magic to Hit Points (HP)
Str-JJunction magic to Strength (increases attack power)
Vit-JJunction magic to Vitality (increases physical defense)
Mag-JJunction magic to Magic (increases magic damage)
Spr-JJunction magic to Spirit (increases magic defense)
Spd-JJunction magic to Speed (increases chance of acting before enemies)
Eva-JJunction magic to Evasion (increases chance of enemy attacks missing)
Hit-JJunction magic to Hit (increases chance of physical attacks landing)
Luck-JJunction magic to Luck
Elem-Atk-JJunction elemental magic to physical attacks
Elem-Def-JJunction elemental magic to character’s defense
Elem-Def x2Junction 2 different elemental spells to character’s defense
Elem-Def x4Junction 4 different elemental spells to character’s defense
ST-Atk-JJunction status ailment magic to physical attacks
ST-Def-JJunction status ailment magic to character’s defense
ST-Def x2Junction 2 different status spells to character’s defense
ST-Def x4Junction 4 different status spells to character’s defense
Ability x3Increases the amount of abilities usable in battle
Ability x4Increases the amount of abilities usable in battle
T Mag-RFRefines Thunder/Wind magic from items
I Mag-RFRefines Ice/Water magic from items
F Mag-RFRefines Fire magic from items
L Mag-RFRefines Restorative/Curative magic from items
ST Med-RFRefines Status Ailment Recovery magic from items
ST Mag-RFRefines Status Ailment magic from items
Time Mag-RFRefines Time/Space magic from items

Best Magics to Junction

  • Aura
  • Curaga
  • Double/Triple
  • Full-Life
  • Meltdown
  • Meteor
  • Regen
  • Tornado
  • Ultima
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