5. Final Fantasy VIII Contrived Finish Playthrough

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This achievement gets its own page all to itself. It is not because it is super hard, but because of the massive disparity in playstyle required to obtain. As such, I strongly advise to attempt this achievement separately from all of the others, since doing do makes this tougher than it needs to be. If you are going just for Contrived Finish, you are much less constrained, and thus this achievement becomes a lot easier. This walkthrough won't be as long and unnecessarily detailed as the main story walkthrough. I will instead be going over how to avoid leveling up. Side note, it is advisable not to level up any of the main party either, since if their levels are high and Squall's is low, you're inadvertently making the enemies stronger than they need to be.

Despite sounding impossible, this is very possible, and not very difficult if you know what you are doing. The reason for this is that bosses in Final Fantasy VIII do not give experience points. Since you can run from random encounters, so you only have to really worry about fixed encounters. Secondly, there are two points in the game where you have temporary party members, meaning you can use them to gain AP without having to worry about not leveling them up, since they leave the party. Thirdly, there are abilities in the game that allow you to defeat regular enemies without gaining experience points.

The first part of the game is easy enough, since you have to go to the fire cave with Quistis. There are no fixed encounters, and so you can take care of Ifrit without too much trouble. Just run from the random encounters. Once you get to Dollet, however, you are doing to want to stick all of your GFs onto Seifer, kill Squall and Zell, and then just farm AP off of the random enemies. Plus, you can use Seifer to clear out the fixed encounters once you are ready to continue.

I strongly advise learning every single GF ability at this point in the game. You definitely, however, are going to want to learn Quezacotl's Card ability, as this allows you to turn enemies into cards when their HP is low enough. You get 0 Exp from winning a battle through carding enemies, and it is a good way to gain AP later on without worrying about accidentally leveling Squall up, and it is good for some of the fixed enemy encounters. Although you cannot card human enemies, such as Galbadian soldiers, etc. For those, I would suggest using Break, since winning a battle by petrifying the enemies gains you 0 Exp as well.

Once you've learned every GF ability for Quezacotl, Shiva, and Ifrit, you are clear to continue with the story, so heal up and head to the central square. When Seifer leaves your party, Squall and Zell should be fine against fixed encounters, since you can just card them. Such as the Anacondaur by the Dollet soldier near the TV Station. Anyway, you can deal with Biggs and Wedge, Elvoret, and even X-ATM092 if you want to, without having to worry about gaining experience points.

Anyway, once you've 'graduated' and are ready to head off to Timber on your first assignment, I advise using the Magic Lamp and getting Diablos as soon as possible. Why? Because he can learn the Enc-None ability. This will make things slightly less tedious, although you will have to learn said ability via carding, etc., which can be rather boring in and of itself. For the train mission and the attack on the Timber TV station, the only fixed encounters that you have to worry about will be the soldiers at the pub. You can either kill Squall, and get a little experience with the other characters, or, if you have it, cast break on them.

Once you get to the forest past East Academy station, and before Galbadia Garden, and experience the first Laguna Dream Sequence, remember that any experience Laguna, Kiros, and Ward obtain, will transfer over to your main party characters. Laguna's experience and level transfer over to Squall's and vice versa. The second Laguna Dream Sequence, in particular, has a lot of scripted, forced encounters against human enemies as well. The second time you get a temporary character is when you briefly get Edea in your party when you head off to find Esthar. You can do what you did for Seifer again here, only you should have a bunch more GFs at this point.

Now, I advise AGAINST getting Odin, since, if he shows up and kill enemies, then you will gain Exp. You are able to get Tonberry, though. Since if you are not fighting Odin, you merely get kicked out of Centra Ruins if the timer runs down. You can also get Doomtrain if you want, since you get most of the materials for gaining him through card modding and medicine refining. Getting Bahamut may be an issue, since you have to deal with Ruby Dragons. However, it is very easy to gain Eden. Since, instead of slogging your way through the Deep Sea Research Centre and Excavation Site and having to fight Ultima Weapon, you can draw Eden from Tiamat in Ultimecia's Castle. In fact, all of the bosses in Ultimecia's Castle will have a drawable GF if you missed getting them earlier (with the obvious exception of Sphinxaur/Sphinxara.

How you go about this achievement is up to you, since you can either try to do a no leveling playthrough for everybody, or only for Squall. I do advise doing the Queen of Cards, Card Club, Chocobo Forest, and PuPu sidequests, though. Moreover, the Steam version comes with a 'magic booster', which I also recommend making use of to make things a little easier for you. You can also port over items from Chocobo World if you want. Feel free to check out more detailed guides for no leveling playthroughs of FF8 if you want. Other than that, the usual tips apply: save your game often, and don't overwrite your save files. Good luck!

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