Squall is the main playable character in Final Fantasy VIII. He is the most powerful party member due to his Renzokuken Limit Break's sheer strength and his gunblades, which can manually be triggered to deal a critical hit every time, and have a 255% accuracy and thus never miss. Like other playable characters, there is also a Triple Triad card based on Squall. He is also playable in demos for Final Fantasy VIII.
Squall is the default party member the player starts with, and will be the player character for most of the game. He is powerful and versatile. During dream world sequences, Squall always inhabits Laguna, his junctions transferring over.
In his intro pose Squall stands with his gunblade resting on his shoulder before slashing the air. In his victory pose he will slash the air twice, then turn his back on the camera with his gunblade resting on his shoulder.
Squall uses the hybrid weapon known as the gunblade in battle. Through upgrades via junk shops he can come to wield variant models, although in cutscenes he always wields the Revolver. The player should prioritize upgrading Squall's weapons as he gains new Limit Break finishers from them as well as improved attack power. The upgrades are described in Weapons Monthly magazines, but having the corresponding magazine for an upgrade is not needed if the player only has the materials.
Gunblades provide 255% accuracy, making Squall the most proficient melee fighter as he never misses, even when afflicted by the Darkness status. When pressing the trigger immediately as the weapon hits an enemy, he can boost the damage dealt by 50%.
Squall's own model gunblade is unique, featuring a stenciled Griever on both sides of the blade, as well as having a chained pendant of Griever's head attached to the handle's base. The gunblade's casing is also custom, featuring an enlarged image of Squall's Griever pendant on the lid.
There are seven gunblade models available for Squall to use:
- Revolver – Initial model. Described in Weapons Monthly, March Issue.
- Shear Trigger – Described in Weapons Monthly, April Issue.
- Cutting Trigger – Described in Weapons Monthly, May Issue.
- Flame Saber – Described in Weapons Monthly, June Issue.
- Twin Lance – Described in Weapons Monthly, July Issue.
- Punishment – Described in Weapons Monthly, August Issue.
- Lion Heart – Described in Weapons Monthly, 1st Issue.
Squall's Limit Break is Renzokuken. The player is prompted to tap the trigger button at the correct time, indicated by a moving bar on the bottom of the screen. Some bosses have unique Renzokuken sequences. Squall will slash the targeted enemy four to eight times before possibly beginning one of his four finishing moves.
The finishing move is chosen randomly, but Squall learns finishing moves in accordance to his acquiring of new gunblade models, and can only do a certain finishing move if he is wielding the gunblade model necessary to perform that technique. For instance, Squall cannot use the Lion Heart finisher if he is not equipped with the Lion Heart gunblade.
- Rough Divide - Obtain Revolver or higher to execute.
- Fated Circle - Obtain Shear Trigger or higher to execute.
- Blasting Zone - Obtain Flame Saber or higher to execute.
- Lion Heart - Obtain Lion Heart to execute.
Squall starts at level 7 with his EXP bar half-way filled, similar to how Cloud always levels up in his first battle in Final Fantasy VII. Squall's first level up being from level 7 to level 8 alludes to the number 8. Natural stat growth is a minor influence in Final Fantasy VIII because of the junction system, but Squall has generally high stats compared to other party members. His Hit% is always 255% because of his weapon. Because he already has perfect hit rate, and his critical hits are manually triggered, the player may be better off prioritizing the other party members with Luck junctions.
Compatibility with Guardian Forces determines how long the Charge Time is when summoning them. The below values are the base compatibility values at the start of the game, but changes as Squall acts in battle, as some actions boost compatibility whereas others lower it. Using compatibility items on him in the menu can also be used to boost compatibility. However, it is a minor mechanic in the game and can be ignored.
Squall is better off junctioning GFs that give STR-J to capitalize on his excellent physical capabilities. Out of the starter GFs, Shiva, can learn it initially, and Ifrit joins with it already learned. Ifrit also has Str+% abilities to further boost Squall's physical attack, making him a good GF for Squall for a good portion of the game. However, the GFs' abilities are highly customizable later on.
The player can't usually interact with Squall as an "NPC" because he stays as the controlled character so much of the game. After Balamb Garden becomes mobile, when the party members are not assigned as player characters, they can be seen wandering the Garden on their own. During the short time he is not in the party (during the scene the party is choosing the instruments to play at the FH concert), Squall can be found sleeping in his dorm. The player can interact with him as Irvine, but only "..." appears.
There are couple events in the Garden the player can do as Squall, but if the player follows through, their SeeD rank will go down. After completing the Fire Cavern and obtaining Ifrit, two students will be sitting outside the 2F classroom. They will ask if Squall can show them his gunblade. If he does, Instructor Aki will arrive to give demerit points towards Squall's future SeeD rank. After the encounter with NORG, a student on 2F of the Garden will request a display of magic power. If Squall obliges, Instructor Aki will arrive to deduct a SeeD rank as punishment.
Squall is a Level 10 Player Card in Triple Triad used for playing the minigame and for turning into 3 Three Stars with Quezacotl's Card Mod. The card is won off Laguna in Esthar City palace or on the Ragnarok. Squall's card is the final card of the inventory and also the final card of the game were the player to get every card as early as they can.