Creation and design
Squall was inspired by late actor River Phoenix.
The first character Nomura designed for Final Fantasy VIII, Squall was inspired by actor River Phoenix, although Nomura said that "nobody understood it." Squall is 177 cm (5 ft 10 in) tall, initially with longer hair and a more feminine appearance. After objections by game director Yoshinori Kitase, Nomura made the character more masculine. He added the scar across Squall's brow and the bridge of his nose impulsively (to make the character more recognizable), leaving the description of its origin up to scenario writer Kazushige Nojima. Squall's first illustration was used as a set up to create the world around him. The logo of the game which had Squall embracing Rinoa was left as an open interpretation for fans who still had not played the game. The scar in Squall's forehead was also left ambiguous although Nomura said it was important for him.
Nomura's design of Squall included fur lining along his jacket collar as a challenge for the game's full motion video designers. In Final Fantasy VIII Nojima worked to give players insight into what Squall was thinking, in contrast to Final Fantasy VII (which encouraged players to speculate). In retrospective, Nojima believes the staff made him particularly "cool". Across the video game it is implied that the character of Laguna Loire is Squall's father. However, Square Enix never confirmed it. Nomura designed Squall to contrast with Laguna.
Nomura created Squall's gunblade with silver accessories. The weapon is a sword with components of a revolver, sending vibrations through the blade when triggered; this inflicts additional damage if the player presses the R1 trigger on the controller as Squall strikes an enemy. Although the weapon was intended as a novel way for players to control weapons in battle, Nomura said he feels (in retrospect) that it looks odd. Additionally, he felt it was very difficult to master. Square's Hiroki Chiba said that his favorite moment in the Final Fantasy franchise was when Squall and Rinoa embrace in space due to the use of Faye Wong's "Eyes On Me" music in the background and having to work every frame to make it work.
During one of the cutscenes of Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is impaled by the Edea in battle. This created a theory that Squall dies in battle. When asked about this, Kitase laughed at this and denied this theory. However, he found it interesting if a remake of the game was ever proposed and the staff would think of changing elements from the story.
While Final Fantasy VIII did not use voice acting, Squall obtained a voice in the Square Enix series Kingdom Hearts, where he is known as "Leon". There, he is voiced by David Boreanaz in the English version of the game and Hideo Ishikawa in the Japanese version. He returns in Kingdom Hearts II, voiced in the English version by Doug Erholtz. Erholtz said in an interview that he had a "fun journey" voicing Leon and it was a "really fun role to play".