Final Fantasy VIII, as all franchise fans know, has its share of foibles and jarring design decisions. The junctioning system, which allows players to become entirely overpowered very early in the game indeed (if they have enough patience), is still a bone of contention over two decades after the game’s initial release.
There’s something so familiar-yet-different about almost every aspect of the game. The quirky side quests with the (often) unusual rewards and results stand out, as do the optional bosses. Let’s take a look at every hidden boss in Final Fantasy VIII and see who’s the strongest (and weakest).
Now, it’s a shame to rank the formidable warrior that is Odin as weakest, it really is. After all, the guy has been relentlessly Zantetsuken-ing opponents into squishy hunks of pastrami for decades. What the heck happened here, then?
In Final Fantasy VIII, Odin in encountered in the optional dungeon Centra Ruins. There’s a puzzle to solve to reach his throne room, and a time limit in which to do so. When you complete that, and with the clock still ticking, you must prove your worthiness by defeating him in battle… which isn’t particularly difficult to do, as he won’t attack back. One word of warning, though: if you do run out of time during this battle, Odin will immediately wipe your party out in a single blow.
This curious quest is very well hidden away within the game, to the point that players who are neglecting to read those magazines they’re collecting on the way may never have known about it. There’s a small UFO you can encounter at certain points on the map, though you can’t actually engage with it at all at first.
When you’ve seen it at all four of its spawning points, another sighting at Grandidi Forest will allow you to battle it. Simply attack however you wish and the damaged spaceship will crashland near Balamb Garden’s original location. Go there and another ‘battle’ with the ship’s pilot, PuPu, will be initiated. Again, a single attack will dispatch the hapless little blue creature, or you can offer it the Elixirs it asked for (and get the exclusive PuPu Triple Triad card for you trouble). Really, this is only classified as more difficult than Odin because of the busywork involved.
Early in the game, Squall and his team seek an audience with General Caraway. To demonstrate that they’re worthy of the honor, though, they’re sent on an errand to the Tomb of the Unknown King. Their goal is to collect a missing student’s ID number, which can be easily achieved within the first couple of screens of the dungeon. Venture in a little further, though, and the Brothers Guardian Force awaits.
The player battles Sacred by himself first, then he teams up with Sacred for a second encounter. Being early in the game, they aren’t especially difficult, but new players will have to be wary of their relatively powerful physical attacks and self-healing mechanic, which kicks in while their feet are on the ground (use Float on them and Protect on your party!).
When it comes to difficulty, Diablos is tough to gauge. It’s one of the bosses that, depending on how early you take it on and your party set-up, you can either breeze through or find almost insurmountable.
To initiate the battle with Diablos, you simply use the Magical Lamp that Cid gave you very early in the game from the item menu. Diablos uses potent gravity magic, which can easily cut your party down to size and leave you vulnerable to one of his follow-up physical attacks. The key thing here, though, is that gravity magic alone can never knock your party out. If you can inflict Blind on Diablos, you’ll be mostly free to unleash limit breaks on him (as your HP will be low) until he’s defeated. With the right preparation, he’s a cakewalk, but newer players can find him a real roadblock. As such, he’s placed around the middle of the list.
6 Tonberry King
While you’re finding your way to Odin in the Centra Ruins, you’ll probably notice that another familiar Final Fantasy face calls this place home too: the Tonberries.
These macabre little things with their rusty knives and shuffling gait have a lot of HP, so you might not have bothered battling many of them. If you do, though, you’ll find that defeating enough of them causes the Tonberry King to spawn and attack you in a vengeful rage. Like his subjects, he has a large HP pool and deals a good amount of physical damage, as well as a party-wide attack that deals randomly-determined damage that could be deadly. You get the useful Tonberry Guardian Force for defeating him, though, so it’s definitely worth your while.
Cerberus is one of the game’s most unusual optional bosses. While they mostly tend to focus around tanking damage with large HP pools and dealing heavy physical damage back, Cerberus’s battle strategy is entirely different.
You encounter the demonic doggo in Galbadia Garden during the climactic Battle of the Gardens. On engaging it in battle, it will first bestow the Triple status on itself, before firing a volley of three powerful spells at the party each turn. While Cerberus doesn’t have a huge amount of health, the player can certainly struggle if their magical defense isn’t up to snuff (especially if they don’t have the defensive elemental junctions or ability to remove Triple from Cerberus with Dispel).
4 Jumbo Cactuar
As is generally the case in Final Fantasy titles, unlocking the airship grants the player access to all kinds of areas on the world map. Once you have the Ragnarok, you’ll be able to access Cactuar Island, a little place to the south of Esthar City.
You’ll know it by the odd green creature that keeps surfacing and resurfacing on the island. Reach this creature and you’ll find that it’s the absurdly large and hilariously mustachioed Jumbo Cactuar, which challenges you to a battle. It’s a difficult one, too, because it has a huge amount of HP, a counter-attack which will almost always eliminate a party member (10,000 Needles) and can even run away at low health like a regular Cactuar is you aren’t quick enough to take it down.
Well, of course Bahamut, the iconic Dragon King, was going to be high on this list. A couple of superbosses we’re about to meet definitely beat him out, but for now, he’s more than enough to be getting on with.
In Final Fantasy VIII, Bahamut appears in another optional late-game location, the Deep Sea research Center. On your first visit to this hidden haven (in the bottom-left corner of the map), you’ll see a curious glowing object in the centre of the room and a pulsing light. On reaching it, you’ll be asked a series of questions and have to answer them to Bahamut’s satisfaction. Do so, and he’ll deign to fight you. He’s a formidable opponent.
2 Ultima Weapon
Return to the Deep Sea Research Center after defeating Bahamut and you’ll find that you can now reach the rest of the building. It’s not a place for the faint-hearted, as it’s home to one of the game’s two mighty superbosses: Ultima Weapon.
The great beast is found at the very lowest point, after a gruelling puzzle that sees you carefully managing resources to open each door. Ultima Weapon is the second hardest boss battle in the game (for our gil, at least), boasting unstoppable attacks like Light Pillar (which will instantly KO a party member). Only endgame setups stand a chance here.
1 Omega Weapon
If you successfully bested Ultima Weapon, there’s just one final (optional) boss left: Omega Weapon. This remarkably similar creature is found in Ultimecia’s Castle and requires both parties to work together to access.
Its attack pattern is fixed, but still requires some very specific abilities and lots of preparation to counter. With techniques like Megiddo Flame (9,998 damage to the whole party) and the familiar Light Pillar, only truly skilled players will break through its defences and triumph over this monster.