Zell is a playable character in Final Fantasy VIII. As Monk-type character, he wields gloves in battle. His Limit Break is Duel, where the player inputs button commands to execute various attacks, similar to Sabin from Final Fantasy VI. Zell is also available as a Triple Triad challenger, and a card based on him can be obtained. He acts a party leader a couple of times in the story, and is also playable in the PlayStation Final Fantasy VIII demo.
Zell joins the party for the SeeD exam; when Squall deboards the SeeD Assault Boat in Dollet, Zell is with him and stays until the party returns to Balamb Garden. Soon after, Zell joins Squall and Selphie to a mission to Timber. While on the train there, they enter a dream where Zell's junctions are given to Kiros. Zell is said to have inhabited Ward for a dream of the latter in the D-District Prison, but it is not playable.
Zell acts as the party leader while in D-District Prison, first alone to retrieve the party's weapons, and then with Selphie and Quistis as they look for Squall and a way out; when they find Squall, the latter takes over the leader position. Zell is briefly controlled during the Battle of the Gardens on his way to look for Rinoa. When Squall heads for the Lunar Gate, he makes Zell the party leader in his absence. Zell leads the party in Esthar City to board the passing Lunatic Pandora, but the scenario ends when they either fail to board it, or are ejected by Mobile Type 8.
Zell wears gloves to augment his hand-to-hand fighting prowess. Zell's weapons increase his attack power and hit accuracy and can be upgraded at a junk shop with the Weapons Monthly magazine providing recipes for better weapons.
There are four glove models available for Zell:
- Metal Knuckle – Initial model. Described in Weapons Monthly, March Issue.
- Maverick – Described in Weapons Monthly, April Issue.
- Gauntlet – Described in Weapons Monthly, June Issue.
- Ehrgeiz – Described in Weapons Monthly, August Issue.
Upgrading Zell's weapon is not a priority, as he only gains stats that are more readily boosted via the junction system.
Zell's Limit Break is Duel, where groups of button sequences appear on the screen. The number of attacks depends on how many moves the player can input in the allotted time, which varies between 4 and 12 seconds, depending on a hidden metric called the Crisis Level.
Zell's Duel is potentially the strongest Limit Break in the game, as the button formations are quick, allowing for multiple hits. Certain button combos lead to finishers, flashy special attacks that end the Duel. Zell can learn new Limit Breaks by reading Combat King magazines. The abilities can be used before being unlocked by inputting the correct button combination, but they will not appear as an option.
Zell's base stats are modified with the junction system, and can also be permanently enhanced by leveling up with Level Up Bonus abilities equipped. However, leveling up usually mainly enhances enemies' stats, and thus engaging with the junction system is the way to make for a strong party.
Because Zell's Limit Break is physical, he benefits greatly from Guardian Forces with STR-J (Shiva, Ifrit, Brothers, Pandemona, Cerberus) and Str+% (Ifrit, Pandemona). To have more time for his Duel, high Crisis Level helps, meaning being on especially small margin of his max HP; he could therefore equip GFs with HP-J (Quezacotl, Ifrit, Brothers, Diablos, Carbuncle) to have the best maximum health for this purpose.
The below values are the base compatibility values at the start of the game. Zell's compatibility with GFs is affected by his actions in battle and the compatibility items used in the menu, but as the mechanic only affects GF summon speed, it can be ignored.
Zell is a Level 10 Player Card in Triple Triad used for playing the minigame and for turning into 3 Hyper Wrists with Quezacotl's Card Mod. It is held by Ma Dincht in Balamb Town, though it may take numerous tries for her to use it in a hand.
After Balamb Garden becomes mobile, Zell becomes available to challenge to a match of Triple Triad. When not in Squall's party, he frequents the Balamb Garden lobby outside the library. He does not possess any rare cards and plays with Balamb region rules.
Optional scenes with Zell
There are some optional scenes in the game involving Zell, especially with the library girl sidequest, but also some others.
In the beginning of the game the player can access the Garden Square message board from the Study Panel and see messages from Zell. The message board is later closed, but Zell will contribute an entry to Selphie's "My Friends" blog later, viewable from the Study Panel after the concert in Fishermans Horizon.
If the player visits the Balamb Garden cafeteria before obtaining Ifrit, they spot Zell trying to score a hotdog, but the cafeteria is out and the disciplinary committee gets on his case for speeding.
In Balamb Town, after returning from Siege of Dollet but before returning to Balamb Garden, if the old mechanic appears at the gas station Zell helps him fix a car. When the party is to go to Timber, they pass by the gas station when they first enter the town. If they return to this area and talk to the gas station attendant, the player can get a scene of Zell boasting of his pull-ups record on the gas station sign.
In Galbadia Garden, after Squall storms out of the reception room the party will have scattered around the Garden. Zell is below the stairs on the ground floor doing push-ups and sneaks a peek at a girl who walks past. When the party departs, Irvine divides the party pairing himself with Selphie and Rinoa. If the player accepts the party set-up, Zell protests and wants Squall to hurry so they can beat the other party to their destination.
If Squall takes Zell and Irvine back to Balamb Garden to warn the establishment of a missile strike, Zell will eventually come and wake Squall up in his room, asking him to join him in a training session at the Training Center. If the player brought Rinoa and Zell back, when Squall takes Rinoa on a tour of the Garden and they visit the cafeteria, there is a scene of Zell trying to score a hot dog but they are sold out.
Zell is a mandatory party member for liberating Balamb Town, and the player can get various scenes when visiting Zell's room depending on who the third party member is.
If the player brings Zell to the Deep Sea Research Center, they can get some extra scenes and a gameplay advantage. If both Selphie and Quistis are in the player's party, Zell will pilot the Ragnarok.
Library Girl with a Pigtail
The player can witness numerous optional scenes between Zell and the Library Girl, who works in the Library Committee in Balamb Garden. Their romance culminates with the girl giving Zell the Combat King 003 magazine. Viewing the scenes is not required to get the magazine, but the more scenes the player witnesses, the more complete the dialogue will be at the end; to display all of the dialogue at the end of the quest with no "..." replacing parts of it, the player needs to trigger all event scenes. Zell can also gain a spell from the "Love Compatibility Survey" as part of the sidequest.
Big Bad Rascal
Several scenes involving the Big Bad Rascal can be viewed if Balamb town and Zell's house are visited repeatedly with Zell in the party. The scenes can be watched as soon as Zell becomes available and include:
- The Big Bad Rascal running out of Zell's house with his mother chasing after him before she stops to talk to the man sitting outside the junk shop. Talking to the mother and the man will cause them to point out how everyone respects Zell's mother and how rowdy Zell can be.
- The Big Bad Rascal pushing over the hotel owner's daughter outside the hotel. Leaving and re-entering the screen and then talking to the hotel owner will cause him to scold Zell due to how he and the Big Bad Rascal act similarly.
After these two scenes the player can find the Big Bad Rascal hiding behind crates by the parking lot next to the dock. Finding him will cause him to speak some nonsense that confuses Zell. After this, examining Zell's pillow in his room finds a Spd Up. This scene can be seen before departing for the mission in Timber, but the item cannot be obtained until the player gains access to Zell's room during Balamb's liberation.
Additional scenes can be viewed before leaving for the mission in Timber. After Balamb's liberation, they cannot be seen, but are not needed to find the Spd Up. They involve Zell's mother and the mother of the Big Bad Rascal talking in Zell's house. If the player goes to the back room, the player can talk to the Big Bad Rascal who will mention finding a frog, signing something, or leaving something under Zell's pillow. Depending on what the Big Bad Rascal says, the player can examine the umbrella holder near the front door to find a frog, the painting between the stairs to Zell's room and the door to the back room to find the Big Bad Rascal's signature, or Zell's pillow to find the Spd Up.
Deep Sea Research Center
If Zell is in the player's party when they visit the Deep Sea Research Center, he will divulge the knowledge he has on the location. After felling Bahamut, exiting and returning, the party can descend deeper into the structure and must expend steam units to unlock further levels. Zell can open the last door without expending any units if he is in the party, but it will wake up the lair's monsters and the way down to the ocean floor will be plagued by encounters against strong opponents that can't be avoided with Enc-None.