Squall Leonhart is the primary protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII. A young and aloof SeeD mercenary, for much of the game Squall is viewed by others as a cold and focused person. However, the events of the game cause Squall to question his choices in his life, and he changes into a heroic and caring swordsman. Squall’s weapon, the Gunblade, is one of the most famous weapons of the Final Fantasy series. Within the game, he is one of the few people along with Seifer to have mastered the weapon
Squall is most often seen wearing a distinctive black leather bomber jacket with fur trim on the collar and a low-cut white shirt underneath. With this he wears black pants along with three interconnecting belts hanging off the waist as well as black boots and gloves. He has a silver chain necklace with a Griever pendant on the end and matching ring. The only time he isn’t wearing this particular outfit is when he’s wearing his SeeD uniform, which he only does if he is required to. Squall’s gunblade of choice is the Revolver, of which he owns a customized version with the Griever symbol imprinted on both sides. However, as the player can customize the Revolver to other models in Final Fantasy VIII, one can assume that Squall can handle all forms of the weapon. He is even proficient in using the highest gunblade model, the Lion Heart. In a duel with his rival Seifer, Seifer’s gunblade Hyperion slashed Squall across the face, giving Squall his trademark facial scar. After this, Squall counter-attacked and gave Seifer a scar that mirrored his own.
In the Kingdom Hearts series, Squall is several years older to match the ages of the Final Fantasy VII cast members he appears with. His hair is longer, his clothes are deep blue rather than black, and his Revolver does not have the Griever etching. The sleeves of his jacket are shorter and have red Griever insignias. In Kingdom Hearts, Squall’s jacket is missing the ruffle of fur around the collar, but it is present in Kingdom Hearts II. Otherwise his appearance is the same in both games. In Dissidia Final Fantasy Squall is mostly identical to his Final Fantasy VIII appearance, but is given additional fur ruffles on his jeans and a sash partially covering his right leg.
Squall starts the game as an introverted, brooding, cold, and taciturn teenager who pushes away those who would otherwise be considered his friends. Though withdrawn, Squall does not shrink from what he considers his duty. As much as he resents assuming leadership, he is the first to ensure that what is necessary gets done. Squall’s clear mind and sense of responsibility lead others to trust and follow him. Even though everyone agrees on how difficult Squall can be, staff and students admire him, and he is eventually appointed commander of the Garden. Squall also becomes the de facto leader of the party, though at first he dislikes his comrades looking to him for orders and advice.
During the game, Squall frequently narrates his thoughts and feelings in silent voice-overs. It is during these narrations that Squall reveals he deliberately acts the way he does to purposefully push others away for fear of getting close to them. Near the end of the game, Squall tells Rinoa Heartilly that he cannot remember his parents, and his sister was taken away when he was young, making him afraid of losing the feelings of comfort they provided. In various other narrations, Squall reveals he does not believe in relying on others, as friends and family are inevitably lost and in the end he will be alone.
During the course of the game Squall comes to rethink his choice in life, and comes to fall in love with Rinoa and accept the support and friendships of his comrades. However, he does not change fully – he is still a silent and focused individual, though he does warm up to others and become more social. This more open version of Squall is more or less how he is characterized in the Kingdom Hearts series. Dissidia somewhat mirrors Squall’s evolution from a cold loner to the man he is in Final Fantasy VIII’s ending. Squall fights alone but still finds himself worrying about Bartz and Zidane, and eventually accompanies them and helps them on their own quests once he completes his own.
Squall’s own model gunblade is unique in its appearance, featuring a stenciled image of the Guardian Force Griever on both sides of the blade as well as possessing a chained pendant of Griever’s head attached to the base of the handle. The gunblade’s casing itself seems also to be custom, featuring an enlarged image of Squall’s Griever pendant on the lid.
There are seven gunblade types/models available for Squall to use throughout the game: the Revolver, the Shear Trigger, the Cutting Trigger, the Flame Saber, the Twin Lance, the Punishment, and the Lion Heart
In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall’s Limit Break is Renzokuken. Immediately after starting, the player will be prompted to tap the R1 trigger button at the correct time, indicated by a moving bar on the bottom of the screen. Squall will then proceed to slash the targeted enemy four to eight times before beginning one of his four finishing moves.
The ability to use all of Squall’s finishers depend on what gunblade he is currently wielding and appears after his limit break, Renzokuken. The finishing move is then chosen randomly; however, Squall learns finishing moves in accordance to his acquiring of new gunblade models, and can only utilize a certain finishing move if he is already acquired the gunblade model necessary to perform that technique. For instance, Squall cannot use the Lion Heart if he is not equipped with the Lion Heart gunblade.
Squall Leonhart was the first character Tetsuya Nomura designed specifically for use in Final Fantasy VIII. Initially he was given longer hair and a more feminine appearance. However, Yoshinori Kitase felt that this design did not work and asked Nomura to shorten his hair and make him look more masculine, which lead to the final design of Squall seen in-game. Aspects of Nomura’s first design, however, can be seen in his Kingdom Hearts appearances where his hair is shoulder length; and in Dissidia in relation to his clothing.
Nomura doesn’t remember why he created the scar that crosses Squall’s face, saying it was just something spur of the moment. Like Cloud Strife‘s distinguishable hair, he wanted something that set Squall apart and made him more recognizable. The scar was there before establishing the character’s history, and Nomura left it to Kazushige Nojima to work out how he obtained it, leading to the famous duel between Squall and Seifer in the game’s intro. Squall’s design was completed with a fur ruff along the collar of his jacket, included by Nomura for the purpose of challenging the game’s FMV designers.Squall’s gunblade was also designed by Nomura. At the time when he was thinking of Squall’s weapon he was into silver accessories and felt he wanted Squall to have a silver weapon. Another key factor in creating Squall’s weapon was how he wanted some new way for the player to control the weapon in battle. With both of those ideas combined, he came up with the gunblade. Now that Nomura thinks back on it, he says it has a rather odd appearance.