Let’s be honest, one of the best elements of any game in the Final Fantasy series is the selection of summons available. Leveling opponents with weapons and spells is certainly fun, but little in the franchise is more satisfying than commanding a gargantuan mythical beast to unleash a ridiculously overblown attack upon your poor, unsuspecting enemy.
Final Fantasy VIII tweaked the summon formula somewhat by re-branding them as Guardian Forces (GFs for short) and each creature, once obtained, could be “junctioned” to individual characters which resulted in new abilities and stat boosts in addition to the summoning attack itself.
The only downside to these monsters was the side effect of memory loss which acted as a plot point in the game’s story. Happily, the gameplay itself remained unaffected, so as long as players had no hang-ups about forcing their character to wield a weapon that was slowly sapping away at their brains, all was well.
Which summons are better than others largely depends on how you approach the game. Players who battle using all-out-attack tactics are unlikely to have much faith in GFs that only cause status changes. However, those who use more varied tactics may find that offensive-based creatures quickly outlive their usefulness after a while.
This list will be judging FFVIII’s GFs based on their primary summon attack, the unique abilities they offer your characters ,and the overall awesomeness of their appearance and animation sequence. Additionally, only the main, junctionable GFs will be considered here, excluding the likes of Odin and Phoenix this time around.
Here are All The Summons In Final Fantasy VIII, Ranked.
Wind based summons generally don’t get much love in the Final Fantasy series and that habit didn’t change with FFVIII’s Pandemona. This GF’s Tornado Zone attack does Wind damage to all opponents and with few enemies having a resistance to such attacks, so Pandemona definitely isn’t useless. It’s also one of the few GFs to offer speed-based stat boosts and abilities to your party so if you’re slouching in battle, this beast may prove useful.
Unfortunately, that’s about all Pandemona brings to the table, with little else in the way of unique abilities and a somewhat lackluster animation sequence, which sees the bellows-like creature suck up opponents and harshly blow them back out again. Not a total waste of time, but still one of the more forgettable summons in the franchise.
Carbuncle certainly has the cute factor but plenty of Final Fantasy fans see the creature as one of the least exciting summons in the franchise, especially for players only concerned with dishing out damage.
However, Carbuncle is far from powerless and will cast Reflect upon your entire party, ensuring that enemies who rely on magic to attack are rendered impotent. The drawback of this technique however, is that your own healing spells can also be reflected and potentially benefit your foes.
Carbuncle has a few other perks such as teaching the ability Counter and allowing players to refine health items, but it doesn’t quite make up for the GF’s underwhelming appearance. When most players think of Final Fantasy summons, they don’t think of a small green bunny with a gemstone stuck in its head.
When first obtaining the Cerberus GF, many players might have felt a rush of excitement at the prospect of summoning a brutal looking three-headed hellhound. However, those same players would undoubtedly have been disappointed to discover that this GF’s Counter Rockets technique isn’t at all as destructive as it sounds. Instead, this summon grants your party the power to double and triple cast your various spells.
In itself, this is actually quite useful, particularly if you’re a heavy magic user of if you have a strong spell like Ultima in your arsenal, and when junctioned, this GF can also grant the immensely handy Auto-Haste ability. Still, when you’ve got such a huge beast at your disposal, blood and carnage is expected and in this respect, Cerberus' bark is much worse than its bite.
This famous cactus is both an enemy and a GF in Final Fantasy VIII, and is unique in that its 1000 Needles attack deals fixed damage to your opponent, relative to the level of the GF. This can be great against foes with high defensive stats or against creatures you’re trying to weaken without killing but can be equally as frustrating against regular enemies if your Cactuar isn’t at a high level.
In terms of junctionable abilities, this GF is also a mixed bag. On the plus side, Cactuar can provide your character with stat boosts across the board and its Kamikaze technique can break the damage limit barrier.
However, the summon offers no refine abilities, and since you pick it up late in the game, players are unlikely to get too much use from this summon in terms of offensive capabilities.
Tonberry is a perennial feature in the Final Fantasy series as either an enemy, a summon, or both and, although the creature’s design has become as iconic as the Chocobo or the Moogle, this creepy little knife-wielder isn’t the most useful GF in your arsenal.
Tonberry can deal a fair chunk of damage -- although the short animation doesn’t allow for much boosting – and can also learn a variety of unique moves including the invaluable ability to summon a shop from your game menu.
Unfortunately, the GF is let down by its animation, which sees the creature appear out of a puddle and “doink” your opponent with his Chef’s Knife. Furthermore, by the time you obtain this summon in the game, many players would have found much more effective ways to deal damage.
By far the best thing about Brothers is the comedic animation sequence. Two Minotaurs – one large, one tiny - appear from underground, launching the enemy into the sky and proceed to play a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner then gets to launch his brother into the enemy at full speed, high in the air.
Top marks for originality then, and the Earth type damage dealt to all enemies isn’t too shabby either. However, most of Brothers’ abilities are obtainable via other means and considering the maze-like dungeon and double boss battle the player must go through in order to obtain the GF, you could almost argue this summon that is almost not worth the hassle.
If Brothers was available earlier in the game, it may have been remembered more fondly.
With its winged demonic design, there’s no arguing with Diablos’ appearance but this GF’s usefulness solely depends on how highly the player values Gravity-based magic. Such techniques deal damage in percentages, meaning that they have less impact on heavily damaged opponents and aren’t ideal for finishing enemies off.
Crucially, Diablos' Dark Messenger technique doesn’t work on the vast majority of the bosses in FFVIII, rendering this GF useless in the game’s most important fights.
Happily, Diablos can learn the Enc-None ability which helps stave off those pesky random battles when you’re out and about exploring the world map and its summon attack is still good for fighting high-HP or high defense monsters in the game’s many dungeons. A GF whose style is perhaps slightly better than his substance.
Siren isn’t exactly the most popular GF in FFVIII. After all, the damage that her Silent Voice attack causes isn’t particularly heavy, and although her ability to inflict Silence upon your opponents is certainly useful, there are easier ways of causing this affliction. However, there’s more than meets the eye to this summon, particularly when you consider the potential abilities junctioning her can unlock.
Foremost is the Move-Find technique which reveals Save and Draw points that may be hidden on the map, unlocking a whole host of goodies outside of battle. Her Treatment ability also gives players the power to remove status ailments without wasting spells or Remedies, and Siren’s refine powers are also particularly handy. You can never have too many healing items.
Siren may not be the most useful GF to summon into battle but she’s certainly good to have alongside your party.
Final Fantasy games just don’t feel the same without the ability to summon this icy goddess of destruction and, thankfully, Final Fantasy VIII gifts Shiva to players almost immediately via the SeeD classroom computer. If only all educational establishments offered students such awesome perks.
As a summon, Shiva’s Diamond Dust does exactly what you’d expect, dealing ice damage to your foes with a gorgeous animation sequence, and she can also teach you the Doom ability which can be useful in longer, non-boss battles.
Naturally, as one of the first GFs you receive, Shiva’s usefulness does wane somewhat as the game progresses and your party grows in power. She never quite falls into complete redundancy however, and FFVIII marks a strong appearance from this classic franchise staple.
Alongside Shiva, players also gain Quezacotl as a starting summon in FFVIII. Although the franchise’s resident Thunder elemental is usually Ramuh, the developers decided that the GF gimmick required more beastly summons, and so the bird-like Quezacotl was born.
As is typical for the first summon to be obtained, Quezacotl deals no-nonsense damage with little concern for status ailments or power-ups and the Thunder Storm attack is very useful early on in the game, with the animation itself a thing of beauty.
Quezacotl has a slight edge on its icy partner, however, albeit only for those interested in the Triple Triad side game. This GF will give players the Card technique: the ability to turn living opponents into cards for your game collection. For those who have no intention to play Triple Triad, the GF also learns the Card Mod ability which transforms the cards you collect into actual items.
Another summon that fans expect to see in a Final Fantasy game is Ifrit, who makes a welcome appearance in FFVIII as the target of your very first mission alongside Quistis. Venturing into a nearby cavern, players are soon confronted with the demonic fire beast who acts as the game’s first big boss and becomes your third summon upon victory.
Like his elemental counterparts, Ifrit deals straight-forward damage with an epic animation sequence and is particularly useful for players who regularly include the gun-toting Irvine in their party, as this GF can refine ammunition from other items.
Predictably, obtaining Ifrit so early in the game means that his shelf life is somewhat limited, but for the majority of Disc One at least, this GF will likely be a key part of your offensive strategy and the trial players must go through in order to obtain him only makes the reward sweeter.
What’s not to like about a huge watery dragon snake launching a massive Tsunami at your hapless opponents? As a mid-level GF, Leviathan will likely cause more damage than many other elemental summons in your arsenal, and Water damage is also generally harder to defend against, making this creature a very useful offensive partner to join your party in FFVIII.
Leviathan also offers some relatively decent abilities, such as the self-explanatory Recover – which can also be used to damage undead foes - and the catchy-titled GFRecov Med-RF, which allows players to refine medicine for their GFs.
As an added bonus, Leviathan’s Tsunami attack will also wash away weaker enemies completely, making it a summon with very few real drawbacks.
Final Fantasy fans will remember the frustration of being hit by a Malboro’s Bad Breath attack but the Doomtrain GF allows players to inflict similar peril upon their own foes. As well as causing damage, this summon can afflict opponents with a variety of status ailments including Poison, Sleep, Stop, Silence, and many more.
In addition to its Runaway Train technique, Doomtrain also provides your party with the ability to access the Junk Shop menu from your home screen, as well as learning the immensely useful Auto-Shell.
The impact of Doomtrain’s summon attack is somewhat lessened in boss battles where your enemy is immune to some status effects, but nevertheless, this GF is an incredibly useful and vastly underrated summon in the franchise. The intergalactic rail crossing animation is the icing on the cake.
The resident Holy summon in the Final Fantasy franchise is undoubtedly one of the best GFs on offer in FFVIII. Aside from its classic Holy Judgement attack that rains highly coveted Holy damage down on all of your opponents, Alexander can bless your party with a whole host of advantageous abilities.
Revive offers a quick way to heal your fallen allies and High Mag-RF allows you to convert those weak spells your team outgrows early in the game into more powerful magic. Additionally, this GF can also increase the potency of your medical items, making it ideal for both offensive and defensive reasons.
Aesthetically, the GF is epic in every sense of the world, completely defining what a summon should bring to the Final Fantasy series.
Traditionally, the final summon you obtain is the most powerful, and fans hoping that FFVIII would deliver something similar to the classic Knights Of The Round may be left somewhat disappointed with what Eden has to offer. They may also be deterred by the super-long summon animation that clocks in at over a minute.
However, Eden is clearly the most powerful summon available in the game-- thanks largely to its ability to break the damage limit -- and can be heavily boosted thanks to the amount of time it takes to actually appear. As such, incredible amounts of carnage can be doled out to all of your opponents.
The GF’s abilities are nothing to be sneered at either and include the likes of Devour – which introduces a whole new dimension to the battle system – and GFAbl Med-RF which can allow your GFs to learn abilities they usually wouldn’t be able to, thus increasing your scope for character customization.
The dragon beast that many fans would claim as the best and most iconic summon of all time also tops the pile in the franchise’s eighth installment. Bahamut may not be the strongest GF in the game, but the summon has virtually zero weaknesses.
As you would expect, Mega Flare has a beefy impact upon your foes and does so upon the conclusion of a wonderful animation sequence. The GF also bestows upon your characters an array of useful abilities including Auto-Protect and a 60% increase to your strength and magic statistics, whilst also allowing an additional number of commands to be added to your character’s battle menu.
This creature’s appearance in Final Fantasy VIII played a key part in establishing the summon as one of the most iconic in the series and Bahamut brings excitement every time you call it into battle.
Do you agree with our Final Fantasy VIII summon ranking? What would you change? Let us know in the comments!