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Final Fantasy VIII Band Choices: how to play different songs as the Garden Festival band

While there are world-ending stakes in Final Fantasy VIII, it is still ultimately a game about a bunch of school kids - and all the teenaged angst and life landmarks that come with that. One such moment is the Garden Festival, a special celebratory event where, of course, some of the students perform in a band. Of course. This how life works, you know. But to get the most out of this segment of the game, you need to make the right band choices.

On this guide page we'll explain a little about the optional Garden Festival side quest in FF8 - including how to make the best possible choice of instruments to get the best possible end result - a positive conversation between fledgling lovebirds Squall and Rinoa.

After more help with other obtuse aspects of FF8? We've got plenty of assistance for the classic game, including:

Final Fantasy VIII: Garden Festival Band Choices Explained

Let's be clear: the garden festival is shaping up to be a bit of a disaster by the time you reach it in FF8. It's a yearly event, but with how wrong everything has been going in the world of FF8 one can hardly blame the students of Balamb Garden for not being that into a party. Selphie won't let it go, however, and the end result is that your squad of elite, mass-murdering mercenary teenagers take up some instruments to play a song at the garden festival. It's up to the player to make some band choices to decide what instruments are played - and your choice of instruments has an impact on the scenes that follow the performance.

To be clear, there's no major bonus for getting the band choices one way or another: there's no secret GF or cool buff item - the difference is simply that a conversation between Squall and Rinoa can play out a number of different ways depending on how you make the band choices. You're chosing what instruments are played rather than who is playing them.

The idea is that you're meant to figure out which instruments belong together by ear, but that's not so easy for everyone. Here's basically how it works, and the end result:

  1. Sax, Electric Guitar, Piano & Bass Guitar: the band will play "Eyes on Me", the love theme of FF8. In the following conversation, Rinoa and Squall will argue somewhat. 
  2. Guitar, Violin, Flute & Tap: with this combination, the band will play a one-off composition, an Irish Jig. Surprisingly, this results in the most positive following scene - Rinoa and Squall open up to each other a little.
  3. Two instruments from #1, two from #2: any combination of two instruments from one line and two from antoher will result in Rinoa being angry at how bad the music is.
  4. Three instruments from one of the songs, one from the other: if you get three of the four instruments from one of the two songs but then get the fourth wrong, Rinoa will be confused by it - and the result is, again, a less than positive scene.

As an aside, you play this section and choose the instruments while playing as Irvine. This actually is important: when you gain control of Irvine in this band choices scene, you can actually leave the screen and head off to explore Fisherman's Horizon and Balamb Garden. There's a range of unique dialogue and unique encounters for Irvine as party leader during this time, including with the Grease Monkey NPC that lives in FH. It's well worth leaving and exploring during this segment!

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