- "Give me a tour of the Garden."
"...Is this another one of your orders?"
"No. I just want you to show me around. You know, to get acquainted with the place. Please?"
- —Rinoa and Squall
The Garden works both as a location, and as a method of transportation around the World Map. Using the Garden is made redundant by the game's end as the player obtains the Ragnarok spaceship, which can be used to move around the map much more efficiently.
Founded 12 years before the start of the game by Cid and Edea Kramer and funded by NORG, Balamb Garden was built atop an ancient Centra structure which gives the Garden the ability to transform into a mobile form with the power of limited flight. Balamb Garden was built in Esthar by Esthar technicians, as told to the player by NPCs in both Esthar City and Fishermans Horizon, but not much else is known of its origins. It can be assumed its mobile function was used when moving it to Balamb from Esthar, however, during the time of the missile incident, Cid appears oblivious of its flight capabilities, although he might only be hiding his knowledge for unknown reasons.
Shortly after its construction, Galbadia Garden and Trabia Garden were created on the Galbadian and Trabian continents, respectively. Specializing in Guardian Force training and Para-Magic, Balamb Garden is the only Garden authorized to conduct the SeeD field exam, which Garden cadets must pass in order to join the ranks of SeeD. Cadets attending other Gardens must transfer to Balamb in order to complete this final requirement.
Near the beginning of the game, Balamb Garden is the center of celebration as its most recent class of SeeDs enjoy their graduation ball while Balamb cadets prepare for the annual Garden Festival. The Garden's serenity is broken when Seifer, a Balamb cadet, threatens the life of the Galbadian president Vinzer Deling. Garden attempts to distance itself from the incident, but Galbadia Garden's power is soon directly threatened by both Deling and the rise of his ally, Sorceress Edea. The Galbadian Garden Master, Martine, orders Balamb SeeDs seeking refuge at the establishment, Squall, Quistis, Zell and Selphie, to pair with Galbadian Garden student Irvine Kinneas to assassinate her.
When the assassination plot fails, the enraged sorceress vows revenge. This creates a wide rift between NORG, the Garden Master, and Cid, the Garden's Headmaster. NORG believes the Garden is doomed if they don't appease the sorceress and plans to hand over the SeeDs involved in the assassination attempt to Galbadia. Cid is enraged by NORG's plot, and an all-out riot breaks out in the Garden with both the Garden Faculty, who are loyal to NORG, and the SeeD, who are loyal to Cid, try to recruit as many people as they can on their side. NORG ends up losing the battle, and eventually disappears from the Garden, his ultimate fate left ambiguous.
While this is happening Sorceress Edea has taken command of Galbadia Garden herself, and launches a missile strike against Balamb and Trabia Gardens. Trabia Garden is destroyed, but the player party manages to save Balamb by restarting the ancient Centra machinery, which allows Balamb Garden to morph into its mobile form. Barely evading the missile attack, the Garden speeds out of control past Balamb town and heads out to sea. With its navigation and piloting systems malfunctioning due to lack of maintenance, the Garden eventually crashes stern-first into Fishermans Horizon. Mechanics at Fishermans Horizon are familiar with the Centra technology, being the ones who originally built the Garden, and renovate it.
At the same time, Headmaster Cid appoints Squall as the Garden's commander before going into hiding at Edea's Orphanage. Once the mobile machinery is repaired, Balamb SeeD Xu takes on the role of Garden navigator, while Nida fills the position of pilot. With both NORG and Cid out of the picture, Squall gains sovereign control over Garden, and embarks on a mission to defeat the sorceress once and for all.
The newly retrofitted Garden eventually ends up engaging mobile Galbadia Garden, now under the sorceress's control, in direct combat near Edea's Orphanage. While Balamb cadets prepare for a military assault, the flying Gardens literally butt heads as their pilots ram the hulls together, effectively tangling the structures. Balamb receives heavy damage, and part of its quad is destroyed.
Galbadian paratroopers and motorcyclists board the Garden, breaking classroom windows and wreaking havoc on Balamb Garden's interior as SeeDs and cadets attempt to defend their home. The conflict is resolved when the party boards Galbadia Garden and defeats Sorceress Edea. Balamb's inhabitants immediately focus on repairing damage to both the Garden and each other.
Some time after the incident Squall leaves the Garden to head to Esthar, at which point the story won't require the player to revisit the Garden, although it can still be found in Fishermans Horizon and boarded. It is never revealed in the game who takes over when Squall and his friends have left.
The party returns to the Garden after defeating Ultimecia to engage in celebration. At the game's final moments Balamb Garden is seen flying across locations familiar from the game and Cid and Edea appear to have returned at the Garden.
Balamb Garden's layout is best described as a series of stacked rings surrounding a central elevator. It has three main floors, plus a large basement sub-level. The first and second floors are accessible to the entire Garden population, while the third floor and basement level require special permission.
- Front Gate
The front gate is the Garden's main entrance. Upon entering the gate's outer part, visitors travel up a set of stairs and through a landscaped area before proceeding to a security checkpoint at the inner gate. SeeD, students, and visitors must present their IDs for inspection in order to pass and enter the inside of the Garden.
- Draw points - Cure
- First Floor Lobby
The front gate entrance leads directly to the lobby. The lobby is the Garden's unofficial center and a gathering point for students. Its main features are a Garden directory and an elevator which allows students to access other floors. The lobby itself is shaped like a ring, which the main first-floor sections of the Garden branching off of it like spokes on a wheel. Before the Garden becomes mobile, the directory can be used to quick-move between different sections in the Garden.
Following the lobby to the right, the southeastern corridor branching off from the ring leads to the Balamb Garden library. Open from 9am until curfew, all of its materials are available to students. Zell can embark on a mini sidequest to gain the affections of one of the library's female student employees. When Rinoa is not in the party, she can be found in the library, and Zell can be found just outside it.
- Training Center
Continuing up the lobby ring counter-clockwise, the eastern corridor leads to the Training Center. Known by students as the "monsters' lair", it is open 24 hours a day, even after curfew. Real monsters inhabit it, mainly Grats and T-Rexaurs, to challenge students' fighting skills. A Save Point can be found inside. The player can find the CC Joker, part of the Card Club side quest who also works as a merchant, randomly in the center's easternmost screen. The Training Center contains a hidden section called the "secret area", where students go to socialize or otherwise meet in private after curfew to avoid being caught by the Garden Faculty.
- Parking Lot
The northeastern corridor leads to the parking lot. The Parking Lot is an underground complex that houses most of Balamb Garden's road vehicles including the SeeD Personal Carrier Vehicles for student transportation. The parking lot is accessed via a road that travels past the Balamb Garden front gate.
The northern corridor leads to the dormitories. Cadets share dorms with each other, with two single bedrooms connected to a shared living space. SeeD members are given their own dormitory rooms. During curfew, students can only leave their dorms for the Training Center. A save point can be found here.
- Items - Weapons Monthly Magazine (April)
The northwest corridor leads to the cafeteria. The cafeteria is open from 9am till 9pm, and students can order meals for the night and pick them up before curfew. The most popular dish in Balamb are the Balamb Garden hot dogs. The cafeteria is a popular hang-out spot for Balamb cadets to meet and exchange gossip. The Garden's Disciplinary Committee can also often be found here.
- Draw Point - Demi (during Garden Riot only, hidden)
The western corridor leads to the quad. The quad is an open-air garden, and a place for students to relax. It also has a stage where students can watch performances or films. The annual Garden Festival takes place in the quad.
The southwest corridor leads to the infirmary where Doctor Kadowaki takes care of the students who are sick or injured in battle. No items can be taken from the infirmary without the doctor's permission.
The classrooms are located on the second floor, circling around the main elevator in a ring. Students are obliged to be present in classes five minutes before the bell rings. There are 36 shared computers in every class. Each student has a log-on screen, in which they may store school-related and personal information. Students may also store Guardian Forces in their computers. SeeDs don't have to go to classes, as they have completed their training.
- Balcony and Emergency Exit
The balcony at the second floor's end is used to enter Fishermans Horizon while stationed there, and next to it is the emergency exit that, when used, opens a yellow inflatable slide. The emergency exit is used once in the game, during the Battle of the Gardens when Squall is trying to evade a G-Soldier riding a jetpack. There is a glitch that sometimes occurs to trap the player on the balcony during the FMV scene on disc 2.
The ballroom is only used for special occasions, such as the SeeD graduation ball and other formal events. It is a large, two-story room with a glass dome ceiling and a stone balcony. The player can never visit this area and such, it isn't entirely clear where in the Garden structure the ballroom is supposed to be located.
- Headmaster's Office
The headmaster's office is located on the third floor, accessible by the main elevator. Students may only visit the headmaster's office when summoned by Headmaster Cid.
The bridge replaces the headmaster's office once the Garden transforms to become mobile. Navigation and piloting controls are accessible from the bridge.
- MD Level
The MD level is only visited by the player once during Disc 2 in order to save the Garden from the oncoming missiles. Headmaster Cid gives the player a key to use in the elevator which opens a hatch and leads into an oil stratum. The team will find a console which will activate the Garden's transformation into its mobile state on this level.
- Draw points - Full Life
The Balamb Garden basement is only accessible by the main elevator with special permission from the headmaster. It is home to NORG and the machinery to transform the Garden from its stationary form to its mobile form. After NORG's defeat a hidden draw point can be found on the pod.
- Draw points - Bio
Balamb Garden was located on Balamb continent to the east of the Alcauld Plains, nestled at the foot of the Gaulg Mountains. After becoming mobile, the Garden's location is no longer fixed, although it does dock at Fishermans Horizon frequently for repairs and supplies.
A student in Balamb Garden Training Center appears randomly on the bridge to sell items. He is called CC Joker and is part of the Card Club and holds the rare Leviathan card. The player can win the GF Meter from him, to obtain stats on kills and KO's for the party's GFs. CC Joker will also be met in Ragnarok on disc 4 where he will also let the player model weapons.
- See also: Triple Triad.
Balamb Garden uses the Balamb region rules, where Open is the only default rule. The rules get mixed up if the player plays games with mixed rulesets.
- Main article: Card Club
On disc 2 the player can start the Card Club side quest after having won enough Triple Triad games within the Garden to gain fame. Squall must find and win all Card Club members to gain the chance to challenge the secretive Card Club King itself. Even if the player participates in the quest as Irvine during the time the Garden is stationed at FH, the player will still be referred to as "Squall".
Rare Triple Triad CardsEdit
Many rare Triple Triad cards can be won within the Garden:
- Quistis - Quistis's card can be won from Trepie Groupie #1 sat in the cafeteria, or from either Trepie Groupie #2 or #3 in the classroom on the second floor.
- Minimog - Minimog's card can be won from the boy in blue shirt who runs around the central area. If the player fails to save him from the T-Rexaur during Garden Riot, he will disappear and the player loses the chance at winning MiniMog.
- Seifer - Headmaster Cid has the card and there are several occasions the player can challenge him. The first is by returning to his office on the 3F after being issued with the Timber mission on disc 1. Cid can be challenged later while he is in the infirmary once the Garden is mobile, and on the bridge after asking Squall to apologize to the mayor at FH; and finally at Edea's Orphanage on disc 3.
- Leviathan - CC Joker as part of Card Club quest.
- Carbuncle - CC Heart as part of Card Club quest.
- Gilgamesh - CC King as part of Card Club quest.
- Chubby Chocobo - The student sitting on a bench outside of the library has it as part of the Queen of Cards sidequest.
Library Girl with a PigtailEdit
- Main article: Library Girl with a Pigtail
Zell and the girl with pigtails of the Library Committee have a crush on each other, but both are too shy to let their feelings be known. The player can unite the two by frequently visiting the library with Zell in the party to view scenes with the two, which culminates in a romantic encounter in Balamb Hotel on either disc 2 or 3.
"Garden Riot" ItemsEdit
During the events NORG attempts to take over the Garden and the player party must locate Cid, many items are available if the player refuses to join NORG's cause.
While not exactly a sidequest, the items that can be obtained are:
- Mega-Potion from the student lying on the ground near the entrance gates.
- Mega Phoenix from the pigtail girl in the library if Zell is in the party.
- Remedy from the pigtail girl in the library if Zell is not in the party; from the female SeeD in the Training Center after saving the kids.
- Tent from the SeeD in the parking lot.
- Gysahl Green from the people in the cafeteria.
- X-Potion from a SeeD on the quad.
- Elixir from Dr. Kadowaki after dispatching the Granaldo.
SeeD Rank DemotionsEdit
- Main article: SeeD#SeeD Ranking
There are a few events in the Garden the player can do, but if the player follows through their SeeD rank will go down. In the beginning of the game, showing off Squall's gunblade to the two students sitting on the floor outside the 2nd floor classroom lowers the player's rank by one; even if the player isn't a SeeD yet, it will later de deducted. Trying to sneak out of Balamb Garden during the night of the SeeD graduation lowers the rank by one; if the player tries to leave three times, the rank will drop. After defeating NORG there will be a boy outside the 2nd floor classroom asking Squall to show him magic. If the player complies the player's rank decreases by one.
Galbadian Occupation EventEdit
People Associated with Balamb GardenEdit
- Cid Kramer - Headmaster and co-founder.
- Edea Kramer - Originator and co-founder.
- Squall Leonhart - Commander.
- NORG - Garden Master and proprietor.
- Dr. Kadowaki - Garden physician, psychiatrist, and retired CC Group "King".
- Quistis Trepe - SeeD instructor.
- Xu - SeeD instructor and CC Group "Heart".
- Aki - SeeD instructor and strict conduct observer.
- Nida - SeeD member and the Garden pilot.
- Selphie Tilmitt - SeeD member and current head of the Festival Committee.
- Zell Dincht - SeeD member.
- Seifer Almasy, Raijin, and Fujin - Members of the Disciplinary Committee.
- Wimbly Donner - Retired head of the Festival Committee.
- J.I. and M.S. - Anonymous students who type in the Garden Square.
- Cafeteria Lady - School cafeteria lady.
As a VehicleEdit
After the events in Fishermans Horizon the player can use Balamb Garden to traverse the world map. The Garden is slow, and can only ascend on land from beaches, and it cannot cross the Horizon Bridge. The player can move the Garden by talking to Nida on the bridge. On disc 3 the player can still find Balamb Garden on FH and use it if they wish, but acquiring Ragnarok makes it obsolete.
|Trouble with the audio sample?|
Balamb Garden's musical theme is "Balamb GARDEN" that plays whenever the player walks its corridors. The song "Fear" is played whenever one visits the Training Center. Balamb Garden's theme is also found as part of the "Ami~Balamb GARDEN" track on the Piano Collections: Final Fantasy VIII album and the Final Fantasy Orchestra Album.
- After Balamb Garden becomes mobile, when the party members are not assigned as player characters they can be seen wandering the Garden on their own: Rinoa is reading books in the library, Selphie is updating her site in the second floor classroom, Irvine is hanging around the classroom with Selphie and even when she's not there, Quistis is on the Garden's control bridge, Zell is wandering the Garden foyer just outside the library and Squall himself (during the one time he is not in the party) is seen asleep in his dorm room. Sometimes Selphie and Zell will wear their cadet uniforms.
- During Zell Dincht's intro FMV the SeeD symbol seen behind him has been flipped.
- Goodbye, Pupurun tells the story of the small sprite Pupurun rendered into the language of humans. Originally it was part of the Balamb Garden Library's collection of books, however Raijin borrowed it and never returned it.
- There is an FMV on disc 2 which shows Balamb Garden being destroyed by the missiles which is displayed if Selphie's party run out of time escaping the Missile Base or the player doesn't set the missiles' error ratio to the maximum. Interestingly, the Garden is still in its stationary state when destroyed, even though the missiles would still have been launched at the same time as if Squall's party had activated the MD level. The player instantly earns a Game Over after the FMV plays.
- Garden appears to fly over water in the game's ending, despite being partially submerged like a sea vessel every other time.
- In the beginning of the game, the different sections of the Garden are attached to the main building via open walkways with bushes and other greenery seen growing on the sides. These areas disappear after the Garden becomes mobile, all but for one scene: in Fishermans Horizon Rinoa comes to ask Squall to attend the concert in the walkway that leads from the dorms. The screen is unaltered from its appearance on disc 1, and stills shows bushes growing at the sides on the outside, which can be considered odd, as the Garden is supposed to be seaborne and stationed at FH at the time.
- Cid's office is facing the tail of the Garden. However, when the Garden becomes mobile, Cid's office becomes the pilot's bay. Thus the pilots appear to be steering the Garden backwards.
- On the second floor, when the player heads to the balcony they take a right path from the elevator hallway which faces the main gate, yet when the Garden is seen from the outside, the balcony is to the left of the main entrance.
- "Balamb Garden's Festival" is a quiz answer on an Academia quiz terminal in Final Fantasy XIII-2.