- “A complete mystery. Various states of "present" are believed to become compressed. Sorceress' power from many generations may cross over to give 1 sorceress great strength. No one knows what effect this may have on regular human beings.”
- —FFVIII Info Corner
Time Compression (時間圧縮, Jikan Asshuku?) is a major plot point in Final Fantasy VIII, being the method by which the game's antagonist, sorceress Ultimecia, plans to change the course of time, space, and destiny.
Time compression is the concept of condensing all of time and space into a single moment, or "singularity". It can be initiated by the casting of a spell, which requires incredible power on behalf of the caster(s) and places them at the center of said singularity. By compressing the entire universe in this manner and placing herself at the center of it, Ultimecia would assimilate all of creation into herself, then use her sorceress power to recreate everything according to her desires.
Ultimecia's spell affects time and space, an event which Squall and his party are relying on to reach Ultimecia's future and stop her before she can finish what she started. When time and space begin to compress, Squall and his allies watch the world turn upside-down (similar to a Salvador Dali painting) as a thousand different kinds of space from a thousand different points in time begin to fuse together all around them, and they must "swim" through the psychedelic landscape to reach Ultimecia. Because time and space are merging, moving through space allows the party to also move through time, and by utilizing this aspect of the halfway-completed time compression, Ultimecia is reached and defeated.
In keeping with time compression's psychedelic nature, the party initially lands in a version of Edea's waiting hall in Deling City, wherein the atmosphere is foggier and there is a save point. When the party steps on the save point, dozen more spring up around the room, all of them illusions. It is at the center of this room the party fights a series of sorceresses from across time and space.
The world in disc 4 of Final Fantasy VIII is changed due to the effects of the time compression. Of the locations previously accessible in disc 3, most have become unreachable behind curtains of white light. The backyard of Edea's Orphanage is accessible, as are the Chocobo Forests and the Ragnarok for transportation. Trabia Canyon is still accessible as a foot passage through the Vienne Mountains between Trabia and the Mordred Plains.
The remaining accessible locations are home to Guardian Forces, which can still be claimed if they haven't been already: Centra Ruins (for Tonberry and Odin), the Deep Sea Research Center (for Bahamut and Eden), Tears' Point (for Doomtrain) and the Tomb of the Unknown King (for Brothers). The Fire Cavern also remains accessible.
Since disc 4 is occupied by only the final SeeD mission—invoking the time compression and vanquishing Ultimecia—the most important location of consequence is Ultimecia Castle. Four portals at the castle are linked to four corresponding portals scattered in the world: at Wilburn Hill in Galbadia, at Serengeti Plains in Centra, at Grandidi Forest in Esthar, and a fourth less-accessible one at Kashkabald Desert in Esthar near where Ragnarok has initially been landed in disc 4. This fourth portal (along with the Ragnarok) can only initially be reached by chocobo.
Time Compression is Ultimecia's EX Burst. She freezes her opponent in place and conjures a swarm of magic bolts to bombard him or her. The EX Burst uses a slight variation of the mechanics used to execute Squall's Renzokuken, requiring the player to press in time with icons on a power meter to land up to twelve hits, compared to Squall, who presses to land eight hits. The finishing blow is an explosion called Sorceress Heart, paralleling the name of Squall's finishing blow, Lion Heart.
Compressing all of time is once again Ultimecia's goal, but her motives and the consequences vary. In Dissidia Final Fantasy she tells Squall she wishes to compress time to create her ideal world where she will be worshiped as a goddess-like being that can live forever, but in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy her museum profile and speech to the Cloud of Darkness allude that time compression will allow Ultimecia to freeze time and kill all the other summoned warriors, leaving her to rule World B for herself.
The Omega version of Ultimecia's Castle undergoes time compression as a stage effect. When this occurs time rewinds, the gears of the arena spinning wildly to damage the Bravery of characters that touch them, and destroyed stage elements reforming. The stage Bravery also randomizes constantly.
Time Compression returns as Ultimecia's EX Burst. It has identical execution and power as in the original Dissidia.
The Time Compression effects of the Ultimecia's Castle stage also remain the same.
Time Compression is the special ability of Ultimecia's Dissidia card. For the discard of another Ultimecia card and three Water CP, Time Compression causes all Forwards other than Ultimecia to not become Active during the controller's next active phase.