Triple Triad (トリプルトライアード, Toripuru Toraiādo?) is a card game originating from Final Fantasy VIII. It was conceived by battle system designer Hiroyuki Ito. In the game two players face off against one another, one side playing as "blue", the other as "red" on a 3x3 grid. Each player has five cards in a hand and the aim is to capture the opponent's cards by turning them into the player's own color of red or blue.
Triple Triad is played on a three-by-three (3x3) square grid of blank spaces where cards will be placed as the game progresses. Each card has four numbers (known as Ranks) placed in top left corner; each number corresponds to one of the four sides of the card. These numbers range from one to ten. Cards can have elemental alignments that affect the gameplay if there are elemental icons on the game board.
In a basic game each player has five cards. A coin-flip decides who begins. The player who wins the coin toss may choose a card to play anywhere on the grid. After the first card is played, the opposing player may play a card on any unoccupied space on the board. The game continues with players' turns alternating.
To win, a majority of the total ten cards played (including the one card that is not placed on the board) must be of the player's card color. To do this, the player must capture cards by placing a card adjacent to an opponent's card whereupon the 'ranks' of the sides where the two cards touch will be compared. If the rank of the opponent's card is higher than the player's card, the player's card will be captured and turned into the opponent's color. If the player's rank is higher, the opponent's card will be captured and changed into the player's color instead. Capturing can only occur during that player's turn, and no other opponent can capture a card during said turn.
A draw occurs if the player and the opponent possess equal numbers of cards in their color on the board. Depending on card rules, this can be defined by a sudden death scenario where the first person to capture a card in a new game wins, or by playing until a winner is defined. The winner claims a prize of taking one or more of the loser's cards, depending upon the rules in effect.
Cards have different levels. Low level cards have low ranks, like 1's and 2's and 3's, while high level cards have 8's, 9's, and 10's. Some cards are considered "rare".
Different rule variations affect gameplay, such as can the player see the opponent's cards or not, or whether the player can choose their hand or if it is randomly generated from the cards they own. There are also different rules to capturing the opponent's cards—Same and Plus let the player set up combos if the cards' ranks align favorably against one another, allowing for more strategic gameplay. Trade rules dictate which and how many cards the winner can take from the loser.
Triple Triad first appeared in Final Fantasy VIII as a long side quest and minigame the player could play to take a break from the main game and to obtain items through the Card mod abilities. The cards in Final Fantasy VIII depict monsters, Guardian Forces and playable characters. GF and character cards are rare, there being only one card of each in the world. Obtaining some of the rare cards are side quests on their own. Regular enemies drop their cards, and can be turned into cards in battle with the Card command that sometimes also yields a rarer boss card. The player can challenge NPCs to a card game via the button, meaning the game can be played almost anywhere the player is currently at. Different players play different levels of cards, and different regions have their own rules that can be mixed to create varying rule sets.
Triple Triad is playable once the player begins it at the Manderville Gold Saucer, and can be played around Eorzea and in several Triple Triad-enabled areas. The game is based on the Final Fantasy VIII version with some differences, notably that the player does not lose a card upon losing a match, and that card drops from NPC players are random. Triple Triad is an optional minigame and does not directly benefit the players' stats.
Final Fantasy Portal App includes Triple Triad minigame featuring cards from throughout the series. The player can battle against Final Fantasy characters from the first fourteen entries in the series on Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulties as well as battle with other players. The player has also the ability to create "new" cards, but they will merely have shifted point values between the four nodes. The game is constantly expanded with new cards added from time to time.
Physical Triple Triad
In 1999, following Final Fantasy VIII's release, Japanese games company Bandai produced a full set of collectible Triple Triad cards. The set was made up of the 110 cards as seen in the game along with 72 artwork cards and a collectors' edition playing mat. The cards have a blue side and a red side. Because the set was only released commercially in Japan and was not generally available in America or Europe, the cards have become a rare collectors' item. Counterfeit versions also exist, but the one produced by Bandai is the only officially released Triple Triad collection.
The game remains popular with many free third-party internet versions currently thriving online. These online editions often add new decks, and many have additional rule sets. An unofficial port of the original Final Fantasy VIII version also exists for Android phones.
A fan-made Triple Triad game called GL Triad for Microsoft Windows was developed by Rich Whitehouse and was released in 2008. The game requires an ISO image of the first disc of Final Fantasy VIII to run the software.
The Triple Triad theme song is "Shuffle or Boogie". A piano arrangement of it is included in the Piano Collections: Final Fantasy VIII album.