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Final Fantasy VIII is one of the most underrated games of all time. It was given the impossible task of following up the legendary Final Fantasy VII just a year later, and despite being seen as the black sheep of the series, to me, it’s still one of the greatest games ever made.
I’ve played through this adventure countless times, and the reason I keep coming back to it is because of how relatable it is, no matter what part of my life I’m in. It somehow remains a timeless game because of the bizarre world it takes place in, and it was ahead of its time in so many ways.
There was video chat, tiny cell phones, futuristic-looking cities, and all kinds of crazy vehicles on display here, and it only went to predict the kind of lifestyles we’d be enjoying today.
What made the game so special to me, though, were the characters. Squall, in particular, was a character I gravitated toward, and not just because he is the main character of the game. He felt real, more so than any game protagonist I’ve played before, and his growth throughout the game was both believable and powerful.
Of course, another thing that made Squall so cool was the Gunblade. Taking two of the most famous weapons in media history and combining them to create one incredibly cool weapon was a special moment for the Final Fantasy franchise, and to me, it stands right up there with the Buster Sword.
To pay tribute to this awesome weapon, in this Gunblade guide, we’re going to check out everything there is to know about the Gunblade in Final Fantasy VIII.
Gunblade Mechanics in Final Fantasy VIII
The Gunblade is Squall’s weapon of choice when it comes to combat in Final Fantasy VIII, and although it seems like it’s just an aesthetically based weapon at first, it actually has a few interesting ways it can function in combat.
During combat, you can perform basic attacks, but unlike other Final Fantasy games that provide the same option, in Final Fantasy VIII, every time Squall attacks, you can trigger the Gunblade by pressing R1 on your controller right as his blade makes contact with an enemy.
You have a bit of leeway here as you can press it as long as the bright orange slash to signify his attack hit appears. This isn’t just for flashiness, as hitting this trigger causes a huge explosion that deals a huge amount of damage compared to if you miss the trigger. This will not be able to be performed if Squall has been blinded, though, so keep that in mind.
You can set the Gunblade to Auto or Manual. Auto will make it so that the trigger will set off on its own, but the caveat here is that you will miss far more often than if you control it yourself.
If you ask me, the additional input from the player is an awesome feature of Final Fantasy VIII’s combat, so unless you’re really lazy or unable to be that engaged with your hands, just leave it on manual.
Seifer also gets to use a Gunblade during combat, but you will only control him during the Dollet mission. His Gunblade trigger is a bit tougher to time than Squalls, but it works similarly.
The calling card of Final Fantasy has always been the lure of the awesome Limit Break attacks, and for Squall, his Limit Break is incredibly involved compared to how it was treated in previous games.
When Squall hits his limit in Final Fantasy VIII, a special sequence called Renzokuken begins where he rushes at the enemy with a sword drawn, and below him, a long black bar appears with two white bars separating a space and then purple squares coming down the bar.
The idea here is to time your trigger presses when the purple squares hit the space between the white bars. Each time you hit this, Squall will do an explosive amount of damage. The tricky part here is figuring out the pace at which the purple squares come because it seemingly changes at random when you’re able to do this.
If you hit the majority of the purple squares, Squall will perform one of the various Limit Break attacks you’ve unlocked. Depending on the amount you hit, Squall might perform any of the Limit Break attacks you have.
I’ve found that the higher your health is when you activate Renzokuken, the bigger the chance that you’ll only hit 3 or 4 times during it, and that usually means a weaker Limit Break can be used.
On the flip side, if Squall is down to 10 HP, let’s say, and you activate Renzokuken, you will have upwards up 10+ hits on the ensuing attack, and the finale will almost always be the strongest Limit Break attack you have available.
How Do I Unlock Limit Breaks?
Squall’s Limit Breaks are strictly tied to the weapon he is using. At the beginning of the game, you are strictly going to be using the Revolver weapon, which unlocks the first Limit Break.
In total, there are 4 different Limit Breaks to unlock. Generally, each one is unlocked as the story progresses, and you gain access to tougher areas and therefore have access to stronger materials. The four Limit Breaks Squall has in the game are as follows.
- Rough Divide – Squall rushes at his opponent and performs a rising slash that unleashes an explosion around the enemy. Hits a single enemy
- Fated Circle- Squall jumps into the air, levitates, and powers up his Gunblade, unleashing a wide arcing magical circle that unleashes a fiery exploding wave. Hits multiple enemies.
- Blasting Zone- Squall powers up his Gunblade and unleashes a huge beam that pierces through the planet’s atmosphere into space, then brings down the attack on top of the enemy with a mighty slash which causes a massive explosion. Hits multiple enemies.
- Lionheart- Squall rushes his enemy and slashes them high into the air, where he performs a crazy number of attacks culminating in a massive final slash that causes an explosion. Hits a single enemy.
How Do I Unlock More Gunblades?
In order to unlock more Gunblades, you first need to find Weapons Monthly Magazines, which detail the weapons you’ll be able to craft. This is sometimes an obvious thing, and at other times, you might miss some of these very easily without even noticing. In case you’re worried about missing them, here’s where to find each one.
Weapons Monthly March Issue
During the first official mission of the game, during the invasion of Dollet, you will encounter the monster Elvoret at the top of the Communications Tower.
Once you defeat it, it will drop Weapons Monthly March Issue for whatever reason. Keep in mind this issue is pretty much useless because you have all of these weapons at this point anyway, but if for some reason you want to revert back to them once you upgrade, you’re able to do so.
Weapons Monthly April Issue
After the iconic dance sequence where Squall first meets Rinoah, you’ll be back in your dorm room. Once you wake up here, check your desk, and you’ll find the Weapons Monthly April Issue. This contains the blueprint for Squall’s first upgraded Gunblade, the Shear Trigger.
Weapons Monthly May Issue
There comes a turning point in the game during the assault on Edea, so you need to make sure to grab this one when you’re in that mission. You need to jump down into the sewer that’s outside the Presidential Residence, then climb down and go left to find the issue. This issue unlocks the Cutting Trigger blueprint.
Weapons Monthly June Issue
When you’re on the mission with Selphie’s team to divert the missiles aimed at Balamb Garden, you will come across a large machine boss called BGH251F2. In order to get the issue from this boss, you need to hit it with lightning attacks.
Doing this will make the crew evacuate the machine and, from there, defeat them, and you’ll have the new issue. This issue unlocks the blueprint for the Flame Saber, which looks almost exactly like the Shear Trigger.
Weapons Monthly July Issue
After the epic Battle of the Gardens, you can explore Balamb Garden. Here, you can go back to the training center, and you’ll find the Weapons Monthly July Issue. This will unlock the blueprint for the Twin Lance, which has one of the coolest designs of any Gunblade to this point.
Weapons Monthly August Issue
Trabia Garden gets completely obliterated during the attack from Galbadia, and unfortunately, there isn’t much left from the once-proud academy. When exploring this tragic area, you can find another issue of Weapons Monthly on the ground by the Gargoyle Foutain.
This magazine is tough to find because it’s only visible at the very edge of the screen and can easily be missed. Finding this will unlock the Punishment Gunblade blueprint for Squall.
Weapons Monthly 1st Issue
This is the most important Weapons Monthly that you can find as it houses a good amount of the ultimate weapons you can acquire in Final Fantasy VIII. You can grab this in the last Laguna Dream sequence in the game. Once you rescue Ellone, you will be at Lunatic Pandora Research Station.
In the lab there, you will see this issue lying on the floor. With this in hand, the knowledge transfers to Squall in the present, considering he’s Laguna’s son, and you will be able to craft Lionheart, Squall’s ultimate weapon.
Purchasing New Gunblades
In order to get these new Gunblades, you need to find a shop in any of the various cities you’ll be visiting. Luckily, as long as you have the correct Weapons Monthly Issue on hand, you will be able to purchase any of the weapons at any shop.
In order to do that, you need to have the money available as well as the ingredients for each blade. Here is what’s required and where to find each of the ingredients.
Shear Trigger- 14 Strength, 255% Hit Rate- Rough Divide and Fated Circle Limit Breaks
- Steel Pipe- You can find these from Wendigos. You will find these near Deling City, but you can also find them in Laguna’s first dream sequence as well.
- Screw x4- You can find these near Galbadia or Deling City. You can also find them in the Dollet mission as well. Enemies such as Geezards will drop these if you’re at lower levels too. Another method is to Mug Geezards, which will net you a ton of screws very quickly.
- 200 Gil
Cutting Trigger- 18 Strength, 255% Hit Rate- Rough Divide and Fated Circle Limit Breaks
- Mesmerize Blade- You can gain this item by either defeating or mugging Mesmerize enemies. You will find these enemies in Trabia, as well as the Great Plains of Esthar.
- Screw x8- You get these from a variety of enemies, but they are mainly found by killing or mugging the low-level geezards.
- 400 gal
Flame Saber- 20 Strength, 255% Hit rate- Rough Divide and Fated Circle Limit Breaks
- Turtle Shell- Adamantoise or Armadodos both drop these shells. You can get them by defeating them or mugging them. Adamantoise can be found on most beach shores in the game. Armadodos are found in many places like the Tomb of the Unknown King, Centra Ruins, and Ultimecia’s Castle.
- Screw x4- Screws can be gained through mugging Geezards.
- Betrayal Sword- You can find this unique item in Centra near Esthar or in the Tomb of the Unknown King. Enemies called Blitz will drop these.
- 450 gal
Twin Lance- 22 Strength, 255% Hit Rate- Rough Divide, Fated Circle, and Blasting Zone Limit Breaks.
- Dino Bone- This is dropped by the T-Rexaur enemy that can be found in Balamb Garden Training Grounds as well as in the Balamb Forests, all of Balamb garden during the rebellion period, Ultimecia’s Castle and the Island Closest to Hell
- Red Fang- Chimeras and Hexadragons both will drop these. You can find Chimeras in the desert areas of most places, including Galbadia and Esthar. You can also encounter them in Ultimecia’s Elevator Hall.
- Screw x12- These can be gained by defeating Geezards or by mugging them.
- 800 Gil
Punishment- 24 Strength, 255% Hit Rate- Rough Divide, Fated Circle, and Blasting Zone Limit Breaks
- Star Fragment x2- These unique items are dropped by a handful of creatures. Anaconda, Chimera, Hexadragon, Iron Giant, Ruby Dragon, T-Rexaur, and Tri-Face all drop these. This suggests the monsters are of the alien variety. You can find the majority of these creatures on the Island Closest to Hell or in the Esthar region.
- Turtle Shell- Obtained by defeating Adamantoise or Armadodo enemies.
- Screw x8- Obtained by mugging Geezards or defeating them.
- Chef’s Knife- You can get this unique item by defeating Tonberry in the Centra Ruins area.
Lionheart- 30 Strength, 255% Hit Rate- Rough Divide, Fated Circle, Blasting Zone, and Lionheart Limit Breaks
- Adamantine- Found via defeating Adamantoise and Armadodos
- Pulse Ammo x12- You can get Pulse Ammo by refining it from a variety of different cards or pieces of equipment. These include the Laser Cannon, Energy Crystal, Power Generator, and the Elnoyle Card
- Dragon Fang x4- Dragon Fangs can be found on a variety of different enemies such as the Blue Dragon, Grendel, Hexadragon, SAM08G, and T-Rexaur. You can find the majority of these on the Island Closest to Hell, though the SAM08G and T-Rexaur can both be found in Balamb Garden.
Tips For Using Gunblades
Low Health, High Damage
There are plenty of ways to maximize your Gunblade ability throughout Final Fantasy VIII, but the strategy I’ve found that does the most damage is to keep Squall in the yellow to red health range as much as possible while putting protect and reflect spells on him.
This will keep him in a near-constant state of Limit Break while keeping him relatively safe. You will need to have a healthy supply of Phoenix Downs and Hi-Potions in order for this to work, and it’s certainly high risk, but it’s definitely the best way to get the most damage possible out of Squall.
Berserk and Haste
This strategy is a bit risky, but if you come across an enemy particularly vulnerable to physical attacks or fire, casting Haste and Berserk on Squall will turn him into a ferocious and uncontrollable melee machine.
His physical attack strength will go way up, and with Haste cast on him, he will be attacking at a very high pace allowing you to perform support attacks with GFs and the like with your other party members.
The Junction system is one of the most complex ones you’ll find in any Final Fantasy game, but mastering it is incredibly vital to your success. Junction allows you to use a GF to connect your stats to various magic spells that you acquire throughout your journey.
You can Junction to any stat you want, and when it comes to strength, you want to focus on high-level spells that you don’t often use to get it as high as possible.
Something like Firaga you’ll likely come across early on in your travels if you find the right areas, and depending on how many of the spells you have, you might find yourself dealing an insane amount of damage with the Gunblade.
This isn’t just for Squall, as all characters share the same system, so make sure you allocate your spells to your strongest characters accordingly.
How Gunblades Work Throughout the Series
Believe it or not, the iconic Gunblade is not specific to only Squall when it comes to Final Fantasy games. You can also find them throughout the series at various points. Here is how each game treats the Gunblades.
Final Fantasy VIII- Squall’s main weapon, the Gunblade, has various functions during gameplay. It is not an actual gun but rather a buff to the sword.
Seifer also uses the Gunblade during the game, though you only control him during one mission early on in the game. Laguna wields one as well during one of his dream sequences, which is possibly what leads to Squall using it as his main weapon.
Final Fantasy XII- You don’t actually get to use the Gunblade here as instead, it’s a weapon used by the recurring character Gilgamesh. Here, it is one of many weapons he wields, although instead of Griever on it, there is the image of a Chocobo.
Final Fantasy XIII- In Final Fantasy XIII, the Gunblade has more flexibility than ever. Lightning uses it as both a projectile weapon as well as a melee weapon. This changes how it’s performed in previous games as it’s usually only used as a sword.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn- In a recent update, Gunblades got added to the game as the weapon of choice for the new class, the Gunbreakers. The functionality is pretty much the same as in Final Fantasy VIII, and here, magic is used to fuel the power of the blade.
There are tons of variations in the game like Gunhammers, Gunshields, Gunhalberds, and Gunbaghnakhs. Each one has a unique attacking style, with the Gunhalberds being the most similar to how Final Fantasy VIII Gunblades work.
Final Fantasy XV- Lightning’s weapon, the Blazefire Saber, is a weapon that Noctis gets through DLC. It doesn’t function as a normal Gunblade, though, as the gun part of the blade is not used.
Question: Which is the Hardest Final Fantasy Game?
Answer: In many ways, Final Fantasy VIII is the hardest Final Fantasy game if you can’t get a hold of the junction system. If you master that system, though, it quickly becomes one of the easiest.
Another really tough one is Final Fantasy Type 0, which introduces a full action system to Final Fantasy for the first time in the series and requires precise timing to defeat your enemies.
Question: Which Final Fantasy Game Has the Best Story?
Answer: I think it’s Final Fantasy VIII. It’s got a timeless feel to it with characters that both look and feel real.
There are certainly some insane twists that happen, but fans like to say how non-sensical it is that all the party members grew up together and had their minds erased because of their Guardian Force relationships while allowing Final Fantasy VII to have one party member be a bionic vampire and another being a talking cat controlling a robot.
The overall plot here is just brilliant, and it houses one of the best love stories gaming has seen.
Question: Where Can I Play Final Fantasy VIII?
Answer: Final Fantasy VIII: Remastered is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One consoles currently. You can also find Final Fantasy VIII on services like PS Now.
Final Fantasy VIII created one of the coolest weapons in media history, and Square clearly recognized it and ran with the ball, installing it into several more games in the franchise and, most recently, making it a centerpiece of their most successful game ever; Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn over 23 years later.
Hopefully, this guide helped explain how it works, how to fight with it, and where to find my favorite weapon in videogame history.