The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy VIII

by Cool Ghost

Part 100: Part One Hundred: Train Man

Part One Hundred: Train Man

It's time to check out a few important areas we can get to now that we have the Ragnarok.

The first is this tiny island off the east coast of the Centra continent, with a green thing on it.

This is the aptly-named Cactuar Island, where you can encounter Cactuars.

In fact, the only random encounter on Cactuar Island is Cactuars. As an enemy, they've got a few of interesting features. The first is that they tend to run away, which is annoying because you want to kill them. The second is that they have a special attack called 1,000 Needles, which deals 1,000 damage to one of your characters. It's quite a blow if you're not prepared. The third is that Cactuars are one of the few enemies you're likely to miss attacks on - while most things in the game have Evasion stats from 0 - 5 (i.e., jack all), Cactuars have a flat 100 Eva. Basically, you want Squall and Selphie with the Strange Vision in your party if you're hunting Cactuars.

The last feature of the Cactuar, and the reason it's worth fighting them, is that they give almost no EXP (it caps out at 100) but 20 AP each. Their HP is next to nothing, topping out at 1,400, so as long as you can land a hit, you're golden. Cactuar Island is where you go if you want to master GF abilities, especially expensive ones. Cactuar Island is also important if you're trying to do a low-level or perfect stats run, since you don't have to worry about gaining levels while you learn stuff like stat bonus abilities.

One ability I learned here was Call Shop, which means I no longer have to go to, say, Esthar's special shop to make infinite Gil. It's a useful ability.

Right here, for example, I used it to buy 60 Remedies.

Then I used DoomHouse's Med Lv Up to turn those into 6 Remedies +. Remedy+ cures status ailments like Poison as well as debuffs like Slow. I like to have 6 of them on hand when I can.

Now, while Cactuars are the only random encounter on the island, there's one other thing around the place. Just next to the Ragnarok, you can see a green thing in this shot. This thing pops up and then disappears all around the island.

I'm gonna chase it.

Should you manage to catch the green thing, you're thrown into a battle against the boss of Cactuar Island, the Jumbo Cactuar.

Unlike normal Cactuars, which are small, this one is big. Unlike normal Cactuars, this one also doesn't have any sort of Evasion. Plenty of HP, though, topping out at 330,000. Fighting it here, it's probably closer to 125,000.

Since I didn't check its HP and I'm used to a lower-level party, I thought it was closer to 33,000 (the minimum) and I wanted some Meltdown spells, so I just had Squall attack while Selphie and Rinoa did this. Meltdown is easy to get in other places, but I didn't feel like doing that, so here we are.

In another run, I also cast Meltdown here to have some fun:

The damage isn't amazing, but I like the animation. The real draw of Meltdown is its aftereffects, anyway: it inflicts Vit 0, which drops the enemy's defence (both Vit and Spr) to 0, allowing you to do more damage.

Drawing Meltdown here also gives me a chance to show off Jumbo Cactuar's special move, 10,000 Needles. It does 30 damage.

...And then a bunch more.

9,970 more to be exact, for a total of 10,000. Like 1,000 Needles, there's nothing you can do about this number. This move kills a character. This is annoying because he used it almost exclusively in this fight. I'd revive whomever he'd killed, then he'd blast them back into oblivion. This happened to Rinoa 4 times in a row, I think.

Editor's Note: As Vil pointed out in the tread, 10,000 Needles isn't just used whenever, it's a counterattack. And, not only can he use it if you Draw from him, but if you do this:

He will eventually do this:

So I guess that's what you get for healing the boss.

His other attack of note is that he falls over. It damages everyone, but doesn't hit nearly as hard.

The other thing in Jumbo's repertoire is just stomping on one character. It's a basic physical attack, nothing special.

I tried to get Squall's new Renzokuken move to fire here.

Didn't happen.

If you use Renzokuken here, it has a unique animation. Squall starts out jumping on the big guy's head.

Then it gets a little sillier.

Eventually, after much longer than I initially expected, Jumbo goes down.

If, however, Jumbo gets to 5% HP, this message pops up.

And, if it hits 2%, I know it's a little hard to see, but he will just run right out of there. Basically, if you see that message about hesitating, unload on him. (Thanks to Vil for pointing out this happens!)

The enemy running away is treated like a victory, but you don't get anything from it.

Thankfully, though, Jumbo Cactuar is still on the map so you can get his rewards. It would really suck to have him flee after a tough fight, though.

His drop is Gaea's ring, which teaches the somewhat-useful HP+80%, or can be refined with an ability we don't have yet to make an HP Up. It's much better than his Mug item, which is some number of Cactus Thorns. I did not fight him twice because I accidentally mugged him the first time. It didn't happen.

We also get a new GF!

Cactuar the GF is cool because it comes with a full set of Bonus abilities. This is another reason that it's important to come to Cactuar Island in a perfect stats game. This means you have access to two of each Bonus ability.

Other than that, his ability set isn't super great. Eva-J only exists natively on two GFs and Luck-J is only native to Cactuar, so those are rare, but they're hardly game changers. Kamikaze is an ability that does a bunch of damage (six times max HP) and has a damage cap of 60,000, but removes the character for the rest of the battle. Quaint but not a mainstay.

The other thing I picked up was a ton of Meltdown spells. I think I even had Squall draw some. Meltdown is the second-best Vit junction, coming in at 0.8 points per spell against Ultima's 0.82. Keep Ultima for Str or Mag, Meltdown's easy to get and the 2 points at a full junction isn't going to make any real difference. Meltdown is also probably the best debuff in the game (drops enemies' Vit and Spr to 0 and works on bosses), if you're going that route.

If you're refining, Gayla cards turn into 10 Meltdowns with St Mag-RF, and Gayla the enemy (found around Trabia) also carries it.

I also used one of my Rosetta Stones to teach Cactuar Abilityx4. This lets me equip four Bonus abilities on a character of my choice.

Like this!

My next stop is the badlands near Deling City. I'm hunting Wendigos (pictured here about to get killed).

Wendigos have Steel Pipes. I want Steel Pipes.

I like to have 6 Steel Pipes on hand, but that one earlier only gave me two. Higher-level enemies generally drop/carry more items.

Like so. Now I have all the pipes I need.

Next up is a quick trip to another Ragnarok-only location. For this trip, I want Quistis, I want her in low HP, and I want her to get the drop on the enemy.

Then I fly over to this nice little island.

This is the Island Closest to Heaven. On the other side of the map is a second one of these, the Island Closest to Hell. They're kind of like the areas in some of the old games where you can go to fight really strong enemies and powerlevel.

They're also full of high-level Draw Points. They're world map Draw Points, though, so they refill slowly and don't give many spells at a time. If you need a handful of something and don't want to grind, sure, but don't rely on these as a major source of magic.

The real draw of these islands is that they're full of the game's strongest enemies. Right here is Malboro, a series mainstay and a nasty customer who needs some mouthwash. Malboros are tough to fight because their Bad Breath ability inflicts a ton of nasty status effects, and they usually start battles with it. They're also the hardiest "standard" enemy in the game, with a maximum of 146,000 HP. If you don't have proper status defences (which I do not) these guys are extremely dangerous.

...Which is why I set up to cheese it. But Odin showed up and did the work for me, anyway. Oh well.

First thing of note, and why the Islands Closest are good for grinding: every enemy on them is level 100, and EXP rises with level. Quistis gained four levels from this, Squall and Rinoa gained five. If you want to get to 100, set up a good strategy and spend a couple hours here.

But this is really why I came. I wanted, oh, half a dozen Malboro Tentacles. Level 100 Malboros drop 8 most of the time.

Now I've assembled six Remedies+, six Steel Pipes, and six Malboro Tentacles. This is important.

See, I've collected these items for a reason. That reason is hinted at in Occult Fan, but it's pretty oblique - I know about this from guides, not reading magazines, and I'd be interested to hear from anyone who figured it out from in-game hints alone. Occult Fan talks about UFOs, which have appeared in various situations, each of which is paired with one of the types of items I've collected. We've seen the alien-type UFO outside of Winhill, but right now we're interested in the Devil-type.

We have 666 items (well, 6 and 6 and 6, close enough) and the Solomon Ring is a "mysterious old ring" named after King Solomon, who was some guy in the Bible that cut a baby in half. Doesn't matter. What matters is that we have this weird ring and some UFO-associated items.

Normally, nothing happens when you use the Solomon Ring. But if you have these items on hand...

It gives you a GF right then and there.

In the Japanese, this guy is named グラシャラボラス or "Glasya Labolas". Glasya-Labolas is a demon who shows up in the Lesser Key of Solomon (another connection to the Solomon Ring) but there he's a dog with wings. Wikipedia has a blurb on him, but the most interesting point is that he "knows all sciences". Unfortunately, the Lesser Key contains zero trains with faces.


Doomtrain is important not because of any of its abilities in particular, though Junk Shop is handy and Forbid Med-RF lets you make stat-boosting items. No, what makes Doomtrain important is that it's the best GF in the game to actually summon. Shocking, I know, but this one is worth it, and not just because it's a flying devil train. We'll see exactly what it does later.