Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 45

FFVII ends with startingly abruptness. In the long final cutsence, we see Midgar slowly destroyed by Meteor, only to be saved (seemingly) by the Lifestream, and Aeris’ face appears. Then it’s a hard cut to the credits. Post credits, subtitled “500 years later” we see a grown Red XIII running, flanked by two cubs. Eventually they reach an outcropping, and below is the huge, ruined city.

How do you interpret that ending?

Anyway, thanks for reading this long series. I managed to finish the game the day before the twentieth anniversary (today – happy anniversary!). I’m glad I did it, but man 90 hours in one story game. Harder to do these days, even if it is spread out over 7 months. I liked the game better now, although it’s definitely showing its age. It was showing its age when FFVIII came out, in my opinion.

It’s kind of weird not to have some locale to visit, or enemy to beat. But I’m glad I freshened up my memories: clearly I didn’t remember the game as well as I thought I would. If I continue the RFM series, I’ll pick a shorter game. I missed a few anniversaries this year, with the extended detour in Gaia. Thanks for reading!

 

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 44

This is it: the last battle with Sephiroth. With the fate of Gaia hanging in the balance, Cloud and his crew descends into the Planet Core to face the One Winged Angel.

Moseyed, I should say.

I’ll write up the end of the game when I get through my notes. Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of FFVII, so it’s a fitting day to put out the denouement to this Read From Memory series. It’s been a long seven months. But I’m glad I did it.

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 42

We’re near the end of Disc Two, and near the end of FFVII. Last time I tied up a few loose ends with side quests. I wanted to take out Ultimate WEAPON before heading to Midgar and get a few materia from the Chocobo Races. But I forgot that flying over the city in the Highwind triggers the next sequence. Note to self for the 30-year playthrough: don’t do that.

Raid on Midgar: Underground

We’re over Midgar, but how are we supposed to get in without detection? Well, Cid reminds us in his inimitable way that we’ve got an airship for a reason. The entire party proceeds to the upper decks, and then performs a group HALO jump into Shinra central.

Cait Sith leads the way here. That makes the most sense since he is the inside man and all. He heaves open a hatch, and we descend into the underground. This is a big area with Tiny Cloud perspective in effect again. There are a bunch of unique treasures in this maze-like area, and thanks to the ever helpful bover_87, we know how to get them.
Eventually, we reach the subway tunnels.

Raid on Midgar: Subways

We can head north or south; going south will lead us to a dead end, but we also get plenty of useful treasures and the infamous W-Item Materia. Infamous because you can glitch out infinite items with it. I, of course, would never use that kind of trick. Ahem. Anyway, we need to get all the way to Sector 8. There are some obnoxious enemies in here that use Slow and Confuse, but a lot of them drop Turbo Ethers, which is always nice.

Once we backtrack to our way entry point, taking a few steps to the north path will cause Elena of the Turks to run after us. She’s soon joined by Rude and Reno, who tells her to stop making a fool of herself. It’s the Turks code of conduct to carry out their final order from Shinra: to find and eliminate Cloud. The fact that Shinra is leaderless at this point just shows us their dedication to their code. For all that, they’re not anxious to fight us. We’re given a choice here to fight them or let them leave.

I decide to fight them.

Boss Fight: Elena, Rude, and Reno

Because of the annoying Confuse status attacks of the random enemies, I had equipped everybody with Ribbons and a Peace ring before this battle. Rude is pretty tough, as is Elena, who bounces back and forth between rows. But you know what, leveling everybody up to Level 75 or so, and mastering a bunch of Materia, and getting as many of powerful items as I could, makes this fight kind of a joke. I opened with Big Guard and had Cloud Mug everybody for their items (Minerva Bracelet, Touph Ring, and Ziedrich). Then it’s a just a matter of beating the blue suits into the ground. I also happened to pair Hades with Added Effect in Cid’s spear; combined with Slash-All, our crusty pilot poisoned Elena. Meanwhile, Cloud counterattacked and 2X Cut the Rude and Reno for massive damage each round. I used Barret primarily to cast big guard and regen. It’s all over in a few minutes.

The final battle with the Turks did yield a lot of XP and AP though, so there’s that.

Back to Shinra HQ

In Sector 0 (beyond Sector 8, bear with me a moment) we can visit the Shinra tower one last time. Taking the stairs all the way up, we find an Elixir and a good weapon for Red XIII. Back inside the tower, in the item computer area, we find a Glow Lance for Cid. One flight up, in the employee R&R area, we finally get our money back from that dumb energy drink vending machine. And remember that megaphone we found in the locker, way back when? Yup, it’s Cait Sith’s ultimate weapon.

Back down on the first floor, I read the Turtle Paradise Newsletter no. 2 in the lobby, then jog up to the second-floor gift shop to pick up two strong weapons for Tifa and Barret.

Ok, with that detour down memory lane over, I head down into the Subway again and back to Sector 8, where I take the other tunnel. There’s a ladder here, which leads up to the streets. And another boss fight.

Boss Fight: Proud Clod

The horselaugh tag team of Scarlett and Heidegger want us dead too. They come up from behind us in their immense “anti-WEAPON artillery” mech, the Proud Clod. I’m not entirely sure how our intrepid heroes missed the 60-foot tall robot in the alley, but whatever. Maybe it blended in with the skyline? It looks cool in any case. From the thing’s massive claw, Scarlett insults us while Heidegger laughs incessantly like a proper cookie-cutter villain. Then the fight is on.

I’m just not in the mood for a long battle here, so I cast Ultima with Barret and summon Knights of Round with Cloud. And that’s that for Proud Clod.

Yup.

We get a final short dialog from the irritating bad guys, and the Proud Clod goes to a light red and fades out of existence. So passes the Shinra Executive Leadership team. It starts raining too to add to the atmosphere.

To the Sister Ray

Carrying on up the street, we reach a save point and some more good items. I pause here to freshen up a moment and check Materia and equipment. The huge Materia cannon Sister Ray is right above us, and Cait Sith again leads us on. Half way up the ladder screens, we pick up Barret’s ultimate weapon, Final Score. Neat. Along the way, Vincent is hanging out but he only says “Hojo!” or something like that.

When we reach the control platform, the mad scientist is still pounding away at the console. That must make it work fast, right? Anyway, Cloud takes a moment to ask him why he’s doing
this, which prompts Hojo to call him a moron. Hojo rambles on about experiments, his double failures in life, and how science is meaningless and all that. Hojo also repeats that Cloud-is-a-failed-Sephiroth-clone plotline, but Cloud has had enough of that. Thank God.

At last, Hojo is coherent again. He reveals that Sephiroth is his kid (but he doesn’t know it). See, he offered his child in the womb (Lucretia’s womb that is) to Dr. Gast for the JENOVA project. Baby Sephiroth got an injection fo JENOVA before he was even born. “Giving” Sephiroth all the energy from the Mako Cannon, er, Sister Ray, is Hojo’s gift to him. It’s nice that even the villains want their kids to succeed in FFVII. One more final plot twist: Hojo has injected himself with JENOVA cells, and now he’s going to share the results of this experiment with us.

Cue the Jenova boss music.

Boss Fight: Hojo

Hojo has three forms; and of the three, his second form can take the most pounding. I remember this boss fight being pretty brutal when I did it the first time, but as you know, I overachieved with the grinding this time around. We open with Big Guard and Regen for buffs and then spammed attacks until he was dead. I cast Ultima once or twice for good measure too. I was about to call in the Knights once more, but that was overkill.

Once he’s finally dead, we get a lot of XP and AP, and the cannon is shut down for good.

Back on the Highwind

On the bridge of the Highwind, Cloud gives a surprisingly introspective speech to the crew. He admits that the only reason he’s on the quest is for his personal feud (interesting word choice there) but saving the planet is a nice side bonus. For his part, Barret admits that bombing the MAKO reactor at the beginning of the game was a bad idea, as it set into motion everything that’s happened in the game, and got a lot of people hurt and killed. Nevertheless, now he’s fighting for Marlene’s future, and everyone else’s. At this, Red XIII mentions that Bugenhagen estimates there are seven days left before Meteor strikes. Cloud gives everyone some impromptu leave so that they can sort out their personal motives before the final battle. He will understand if anybody decides not to come back for the throw down with Sephiroth.

For a second I thought we were going to go on a world tour with each of the characters, but we just stay with Cloud. Below the parked airship, we get a stationary shot with Tifa in the foreground. The animators gave her as much facial expression as they could. Cloud and Tifa admit that they don’t have anybody or any home to go and visit. They reminisce about their time in the Lifestream together, and finally, Tifa says that sometimes you can express your feelings in ways “other than words.”
We get a brief fade, and then it’s sun rise, and she’s all snuggled with Cloud. It’s a tender scene, really, and Tifa wants the moment last a bit longer. It took him a long time, but our hero cuddled with a girl he cared about, all night long. (Hey, this game is rated T for Teen, okay? “Suggestive themes” only).

To the North Cave

Tifa and Cloud get back aboard the Highwind, and there’s nobody around. Cloud jokes that he won’t have time to be sad about the end of the world since he’ll be too busy piloting the airship and “not flying around casually.” Little does he realize that everybody has decided to come back for the last ride.

I know, it’s a shock. Even Yuffie sticks around, despite Barret reminding her that she’s a thief. For her part, Tifa collapses on the deck from embarassament that there was an audience for her nice evening with Cloud.

At that, Cid pulls down “two levers he’s always been wanting to pull, ” and we get a CGI sequence of the Highwind shedding its propeller engines mid-flight and sprouting a bunch of turbojets. The newly jet powered airship speeds off to the cave. Things start to go badly for the pilot but as with most aircraft that lose their power plants mid-flight, the rest of the air crew shows up to crowd the cockpit and save the day. Cid admonishes them for not following his orders to return home, but they insist that the Highwind is their home, so they followed his orders anyway.

That concludes Disc Two.

In the next update, we’ll take care of some final side quests before heading into the cave for the final confrontation. Thanks for reading!

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 41

Last time in FFVII Diamond WEAPON attacked Midgar, and Shinra destroyed both this monster and the barrier protecting the Northern Crater. Our road to Sephiroth is finally open, but first, we need to deal with an insane Hojo and the remnants of the Shinra. Before we do that though, it’s time to finish up some side matters.

The Sunken Gelnika

One of the underwater sidequests available to us right now is exploring the wreck of the Gelnika. This is a plane that got knocked down by Weapon and in its cargo holds are some advanced weapons that Shinra developed to defeat Sephiroth. The wreck lies south of Costa Del Sol, in the harbor.

The first chest we open up contains Heaven’s Cloud, a weapon for Cloud that’s almost as strong as his Ultima Weapon (which we’ll get later). At the save point we have an option of continuing left or going up; I chose to go up. There’s another hold here with some good stuff, including a great armor in Escort Guard, Conformer – an excellent weapon for Yuffie, and the excellent Double Cut materia. There’s also a Megaelixir in here for good measure.

Before we get to the boss fight here (Disc 2 only), the enemies are very tough, but their basic rewards aren’t all that great compared to the much easier battles I’ve been finding in Mideel. Unless I want to morph for more Sources – not a trifling consideration – I think I’ll stick to Mideel for farming. All of the enemies here attack with Confusion and other nasty status effects, so ribbons and peace rings are essential accessories to equip beforehand.

At least the save point is convenient.

Boss Fight: Rude and Reno

If you come to the left hall (left to the save point in the main hall) on Disc 2, you’ll fight these two Turks. They’re here to recover the items from the plane, and they won’t permit you to get the hold ahead. Or something like that. Since we equipped the Confusin-protection stuff beforehand, I’m not worried about losing the encounter. But for all that, they’re kind of tough: Rude has something like 20,000 HP and Reno has 15,000 HP. By comparison, the late Diamond WEAPON had 30,000 HP.

Our goal with these guys is to steal the Touph Ring (Reno) and the Ziedrich armor (Rude) before dispatching them. Cloud mugged Reno for the Touph Ring on the first shot, and it took three attempts to get the Ziedrich off Rude. I had Cid cast Slow on the Turks, and finished up pummeling them with physical attacks. The blue suits ran away again, but now the path is open to us.

Final Cargo Hold

In the next room, Cloud says “man this is all messed up, ” but hey, at least there aren’t any decomposing bodies around or anything. It’s surprising the air bubble has remained in the holds for so long as it is. There’s a downed LEGO Copter in here, and near it is the very useful Hades summon materia. For good measure, we also get another Megaelixir, Spirit Lance and Outsider weapons for Cid and Vincent, and Cid’s ultimate limit break manual, the Highwind.

Awesome.

There’s nothing left to do here except farm, and as I said above, the farming at this time isn’t great compared to what I’ve been getting near Mideel. So I exit the place, crossing my fingers that Emerald WEAPON isn’t camped right outside the wreck. It’s not, so I surface and head back to the Junon era where I parked the Highwind.

Huge Materia

Although I’ve collected all of the Huge Materia, I need to master Yellow, Red, and Green materia before I can finish the quest. This requires a lot of time and training, even with Rune Armor equipped and triple/double growth weapons. But the rewards are worth it, in my opinion. Once you have mastered the requisite materia, examine the corresponding Huge Materia by color (i.e., master all Green Materia and then examine the Green Huge Materia). Each Mastered materia in that category will be removed, and you’ll get Master materia. Equipping that will give that character access to every spell contained in the Master list.

Pretty neat, huh?

At this point I’ve mastered all the Yellow materia required (Deathblow, Manipulate, Mime, Morph, Steal, and Throw) and all of the Green materia except Ultima and Comet (pretty close on both). Mastering all of the Summon materia is going to take a lot more time (Knights of Round needs half a million AP), but I’m getting there too. So I’m taking the time out to do this before proceeding on the main quest. I know there are better places to level for AP, so if I get tired of it before the Midgar Raid sequel, I’ll hold out for them.

Ultimate WEAPON

The other item I’m going to take care of in this mini quest interlude is downing the Ultimate WEAPON. I want those items he’s carrying (via Steal), the Shadow Flare Enemy Skill, and the Ultimate Weapon for Cloud. To do this, we’re going to have to fight him multiple times around the globe, before his last stand at Cosmo Canyon. At this point, Cloud is level 75 and Barret and Cid are level 70 each. I’m not overly concerned with this series of battles, but it is a time investment in any case.

Next time I’ll continue to the Battle Square for a few more items before hitting the Midgar raid, and the final battles with the Shinra guys. Thanks for reading!

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 40

Last time in FFVII, we foiled Shinra’s plan to strike the oncoming Meteor with a Huge Materia equipped rocket. Now we have to do something to save the planet, so we head to Cosmo Canyon to consult with Bugenhagen.

Cosmo Canyon and the Huge Materia

If you talk to Cait Sith, he’ll reveal an interesting tidbit about “Grandfather’s” past: he was a Shinra employee at one point. And he’s equally at home with machines and magic. Can’t help but feel this guy should have been named Cid. Anyway, at the entrance to Cosmo Canyon, the bouncer tells us all the children are frightened of the Red Star and don’t want to play outside anymore. I get that; the overworld music isn’t pleasant at all now. Back up the way to Bugenhagen’s lab, we find the old man has been expecting us. He gathers all of our huge materia in his planetarium room and gives us our next objective: the forgotten capital. Bugenhagen also says he’s accompanying us on the trip, which is nice so we don’t have to fly to and from there. I’ll have more to say about the Huge Materia in a later post.

Aeris and the Holy Materia

I confess I read ahead a bit and used the sub to get the Key to the Ancients. Landing the High Wind near the Forgotten Capital, we head into the center chamber. Bugenhagen discovers some Ancient writing and notes that there’s a message there scrawled that says (Key…) (Music Box). Or something like that. He also theorizes that the Holy magic, contained in the White Materia, is the only thing that can stop Meteor and Sephiroth. Cloud realizes that Aeris had this materia and dropped it when she died, and he despairs (again). To make matters worse, activating the Holy Materia would cause a hard reset of the entire planet: including all of humanity if the planet thinks that’s best for itself. But, the old man says that if someone entered the lifestream with the holy materia, and prayed for a sort of intercession, the planet may listen to this individual. If it decides to spare humanity, the materia will glow a pale green.

Bugenhagen, man of the esoteric materia knowledge.

While the group contemplates all that, Bugenhagen makes his way over to the music box (how he could tell that was it, we’ll never know). The music box releases some water all over the center platform, which acts as a kind of projector. Inside this new water room, we get a replay of the death of Aeris, and the holy materia falling into the water below. It starts to glow pale green, meaning that Aeris’ prayers were answered. Happy news for all of us, but Cloud pauses to reflect on her sacrifice and dwell on how much of a failure he is for not protecting her.

Jeez, our protagonist is getting a tad obnoxious ever since he decided to stop living a lie, huh?

Shinra and Sister Ray

As we go to leave the Forgotten Capital, Cait Sith gets in touch. He’s giving us some high-level intel about the Shinra’s plans. Even though the rocket failed to stop Meteor, they still want to get at Sephiroth. Rufus ordered the big cannon moved to Midgar, where it’s hooked up to every MAKO reactor in the city. The idea is to fire a huge shot at the Northern Crater, hopefully taking out Sephiroth in the process. Reeve is in charge of getting the Mako reactors to produce their energy at full tilt, which he objects to but is bullied into doing anyway. Scarlett uses the opportunity to elbow her way closer to the front of the Shinra pecking order, reminding Rufus that it was her idea to use the reactor energy in the cannon. When the president calls it a Mako cannon, she reveals that the new name of the weapon is Sister Ray.

I don’t get the significance but ok.

At that moment, Diamond WEAPON appears and heads straight for Midgar. After some deliberation, the heroes decide to intercept the beast before it can reach Midgar. We land and wait for it on the beachhead to the north of the city.

Boss Fight: Diamond WEAPON

I’ve got Cloud, Barret, and Cid in my party, and Cloud has just reached level 70. Although he has a bunch of HP and physical attacks deal no damage to him, I’ve got a bunch of strong spells. He really hates Lighting based attacks, and with Cid equipped with Mime, I Trine and Bolt 3 the monster to death. He managed to get off a few strong attacks, but it was all for naught. Our reward is a metric ton of XP, AP, and Gil.

Afterward, we get a long CGI sequence of the Sister Ray charging up and firing a round. The crew makes its escape about the Highwind to observe the battle. Diamond WEAPON moves away (it senses murder according to Cloud(?)) and it shoots off a volley of its own energy. But the huge bolt of Mako energy cuts right through it and the monster itself, which falls dead on the ground. Hate to be the guy who has to pick up that carcass. Anyway, this Shinra plan actually works somewhat, as the round destroys the barrier that was protecting the crater. But the volley that WEAPON fired also hits the Shinra building. We go into full rendered mode and see Rufus in his office, which is destroyed in short order.

Another dead Shinra president (maybe).

With the barrier down, all that remains is to go and kill Sephiroth. BUT…

Hojo’s Madness

Just as we’re about to enter the crater, Cait Sith pleads with us to turn around to Midgar. We finally get the truth: the cat robot is controlled by Reeve. We’ve had a Shinra VP in the party almost the whole time. With the Shinra leadership more or less decapitated, Heidegger and Scarlett are free to do whatever they want. At that moment, Reeve is informed that somebody is prepping Sister Ray for another shot, overloading the Reactors and locking out all remote control directly from the mainframe.

It’s Hojo, who has seemingly lost his damn mind. He’s talking to himself, admitting that Sephiroth has defeated Science and now he’s going to give him all the Mako energy he can handle. Reeve pleads with him that the Sister Ray can’t fire yet and by overloading the reactors, he’ll destroy Midgar. The mad scientist isn’t phased at all.

Reeve/Cait Sith begs the crew to get back to Midgar and stop Hojo and the Sister Ray before the city explodes. There’s an interesting exchange between him and Barret, about blood on the scales. But before it can get deep, Tifa steps in and moderates. We will return to Midgar and raid the Shinra once more. We’re near the end of Disc Two now, and the end of the game is in sight. But the final confrontation with the Shinra will have to wait until the next update. Thanks for reading!

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 39

Last time in FFVII, we managed to sink the sub carrying the Huge Materia from the Underwater Reactor near Junon. We’ve been “ordered” to return to the airport at Junon, so that’s where we go to next.

Surfacing at Junon

The sub world map is a cool touch; I have to admit. In the end, there’s not much to do with it and flying around in the Highwind is much more useful. But there’s a WEAPON we’ll fight later, and a sunken plane we’ll explore. For now, though, we want to finish the subplot with the Huge Materia. So we surface at the little cove right next to Junon and park there.

We go through the entire elevator-bribing thing again. But when we get to the airport, we witness a CGI scene with a plane taking off. Presumably, the remaining Huge Materia is on board. Somehow Cloud knows where they’re going. Rocket Town!

Ok then, this was a useless detour.

To Rocket Town

I put Cid in my party because I figure he’s going to be part of the story now. In the town, the residents mention that Shinra has restarted the rocket program. After picking up a few new items in the stores, I head up to the rocket screen.

Once more we have to power through some Shinra guys to get onto the vehicle. This time Rude is here with the troops.

Boss Fight: Rude

Compared to Carry Armor, a tussle with Rude is a cake walk. Before I got here, I gave Cid his triple growth weapon, which only has two slots (compared to Apocalypse’s three) but at least these are connected. So I placed the Contain materia with Added Effect in it. This pair turns out to be a nasty little combo. I paralyzed Rude in one hit, while Cloud took care of business with Slash-All. The guys in the front row die pretty easily, and two more hits send the Turk reeling in defeat.

After the battle, the blue suit is KO’ed and falls on the walkway. Proceeding inside, the Shirna guys prepping the rocket are shocked that their Turk pal got beat. They try to fight me, and it’s not a long battle.

Cid’s Flight

Near the bridge, Cid lambastes the prep crew. They were working on the autopilot, and Shera is here too, to Cid’s chagrin. The crew chief explains that the rocket is set on autopilot to collide with Meteor. Cid dismisses them and says he’ll pilot the rocket into space himself. What follows is a fit of character lunacy. Cid tells Cloud to F off, in so many words, and that this is his dream and he’s going to see it through: getting into space. Cloud protests that the huge materia is the collected, concentrated wisdom of the Ancients that took thousands of years to form. Ancients, schmancients, is the gist of Cid’s reply.

But before they get a chance to continue the discussion, Palmer – apparently recovered from getting run over by a truck – activates the auto launch sequence. Now there’s nothing more to be done, but at least Cid gets into space. At least, that’s what Cloud says, prompting Cid to scold him about giving up too soon.
He has an escape pod prepped and ready to go, just for these kinds of emergencies. After getting the Huge Materia out of the locked chamber (randomly guessing at the four button sequence), we make our way to the pod. Just as we get there though, the number eight canister blows. Recall when we first met Cid, the launch had to be scratched because of this, and he never forgave Shera for it. Well, all these years later she was right after all.

The cranky captain is pinned to the ground by debris. Shera emerges and helps him out of it (along with Cloud and Barret), and he gruffly apologizes. But there’s no time for a long thing, apparently, and they all make it to the pod.

Striking Meteor

Although it’s lacking all the Huge Materia, the Shinra-26 rocket is still a potent weapon. We get a long CGI sequence of the spaceship colliding with the large celestial body, and there’s a blinding flash seen throughout the world. But like in every disaster movie where this is tried, the missile attack doesn’t destroy the space rock. In fact, it looks like it somehow magically reassembles itself, causing a breakout of mass depression throughout Midgar and other places.

The power of Meteor cannot be undone.

Back on the Highwind, Cid gives a speech about how he they have to find an answer to the question: how did Aeris plan to protect the planet from Sephiroth? Cloud, Tifa, and Barret all admit they’ve felt her presence all along. So now we need to find answers, and Red XIII tells us Bugenhagen, “grandfather,” may be able to help. But that’s for the next entry. Thanks for reading!

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 38

We last left off having acquired some pretty decent materia with our Chocobo, and got our first triple growth weapon in the Ancient Forest. Now we have to return to Junon to continue harassing the Shinra’s plan to gather all of the huge materia.

Return to Junon

There seems to be something missing in Junon…Anyway, returning to the shanty town, some of our friends inform us about Shinra activity. I have to get to the “underwater reactor” where the next huge materia is located. I tried to go to the beach to ride the dolphin up to the airstrip, but we apparently don’t have our whistle anymore.
Thankfully, the security around the gate is lax. The guard offers to sell us access to the elevator for a measly ten gil. I take him up on his offer and ride the elevator up to the city. I’m a little disoriented when I first get up there, but I finally realized I had to get out on the streets again. Cloud will mention that he feels like he’s forgetting something. What could it be? Anyway, continuing along the road here, and into the tunnels, I can finally get into the passageway leading southwest.

There’s a huge squad of Shinra men here, drilling for one of the captains. Cloud looks reluctant to fight them (with good reason). But when the captain orders them to charge, they run off in the opposite direction toward the submarine docks. Phew. While looking for the elevator entrance, I managed to set off an alarm (oops) but I think the combat I faced was a random encounter rather than a scripted event.

On the elevator, there are two Shinra guys and a cowering woman. The Shinra soldiers amp each other up to fight Cloud, saying whoever lives gets to date the girl. Well, neither of them lived, and if you talk to the woman afterward, she laments that two datable men are now dead.

FFVII is so weird.

Descent into Junon Harbor

The next part is a linear tunnel, which is just a bunch of screens with planned encounters on them. Off the elevator, a few more Shinra guys (and their barking dog) attack us. They fail to stop us though. We continue on this way until we reach another elevator down and then a short corridor with a music transition into the underwater tunnel.

The enemies in this tunnel are different from the robots and soldiers in the rest of the place. Some of them are downright strange (Ghost ship?) but they hand out a lot of XP and AP. I’ll be returning here to level in the future. We can see fish and the familiar dolphin swimming outside about the transparent tunnel. Cool.
After two screens of this, we’re at the reactor.

The Underwater Reactor

We hit the button in there and exit the way we came in. The submarine dock is ringed by a catwalk, and in the next screen, there’s another series of scripted encounters. The guards once again can’t stop me. Have I mentioned I fear nothing in this game anymore?

In the reactor itself, we get there just in time to see the heavy machinery take the Huge Materia and spirit it away to the sub dock. We go after it, and end up back where we started here. The Materia is loaded onto a red submarine. But our old friend Reno is here, and in our way.

He mistakes us for workers as we creep up on him. Cloud challenges him to a fight, but he runs off, leaving us to deal with Carry Armor.

Boss Fight: Carry Armor

Carry Armor seems like an easy, dumb looking robot we’re used to in FFVII by now, right? I didn’t heed bover_87’s warning that this boss is one of the hardest opponents in the game. I went right for the melee attacks and paid the price. It opened the battle with Lapis Laser, dealing 1500 damage to everybody. This wasn’t so bad for Cloud of Barret, but this reduced Tifa to less than 50% of her health.

Up to this point, I had held onto Cloud’s limit break. I hit Carry Armor with Meteorain, and that did a bunch of damage. Barret also got his limit break in. So far, so good. Then, Carry Armor responded by grabbing both Cloud and Barret, effectively removing them from the battle. All I’m left with is a half dead Tifa. Guess what happened next?

Game Over Screen - Final Fantasy 7 disc 2
Just another victim of the Carry Armor boss

Oh, my injured pride! This was the second game over screen I’ve gotten in this playthrough. But I’ve been good with my frequent saves, so I don’t have to backtrack far to get back here. This time, I cheese the thing with Knights of the Round, and that’s it for this battle.

The Sub Chase

After dispatching my surprisingly worthy opponent, the red sub is gone. Thankfully there’s another sub on the far dock, and after picking up some unique items (including the other triple growth weapon in the game, for Cid, of all people), I fight my way onboard the second sub.

In the bridge of this boat, there’s a cool little scene with our former training-marching buddies from way back during Rufus’ inspection. They try to fight me, but I take them prisoner instead. There should be some reward for being cool to us back when we weren’t OP’ed.

You have 10 minutes to sink the “leader sub” while avoiding mines and other attack subs. This is a little harder than it sounds. I got all turned around trying to sink the red guy right away, and had to spend at least 4 minutes search the water before I got him. It’s a cool mini-game, and having the Shinra sub as a vehicle afterward will open up even more quests for us.

We don’t recover the huge materia from the sunken sub right away. We do however get a radio instruction for our next part of the quest: return to Junon and the airfield there.
Next time, that’s what we’ll do. Thanks for reading!

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 37

Last time in FFVII, we did a bit of side questing and got our Gold Chocobo. This, of course, lets us get the famous (and incredibly powerful) Knights of the Round summon materia. But thanks to bover_87, we know there are some more goodies we can grab on the map. Time to do that now before continuing with the Huge Materia list.

The Materia Caves

Technically the Knights materia is in a materia cave. There are three other caves located near Corel, Wutai, and Mideel. You can travel to these when you have a Blue, Green, and Black chocobo, respectively. But I decided to wait until I had the Gold bird. Do it all in one shot.

The cave located near Mt. Corel has a HP<->MP materia. I honestly have no idea what it does, since I never got it before. The Mime materia is much more useful. Equipping this will make the character mimic the last action of the previous character. Nice when you want to do two limit breaks in a row with the same guy. Lastly, the cave near Mideel has the very handy Quadra Magic materia. Yes, don’t mind to have that. Casting spells four times in a row will be nice soon.

The Ancient Forest

I decided not to wait until the throw down with Ultimate WEAPON to do this. Near Cosmo Canyon there’s a puzzle forest of sorts. It’s four screens with unique treasure, and you have to navigate it carefully. You use insects and frogs to close off pitcher plants and jump around the jungle, basically. The Minerva armor we get here is very nice (for Tifa and Yuffie only though). But the real reason is Cloud’s Triple Growth weapon, Apocalypse, at the end of the area.

It took me a while to get through the forest. I didn’t remember it as well as I thought I would (it has been 20 years you know…despite the hours I spent in it the first time). Of course I could have followed bover’s ever helpful guide, but I decided to rough this one out for some reason.

Ok, with all the sidequesting out of the way, I’m now ready to continue on the main quest. The huge materia awaits us, along with some epic confrontations back in a familiar haunt. Thanks for reading!

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 36

Last time in FFVII, we got the gold chocobo and consequently the OP Knights of the Round summon. There are plenty of other items I can get with the gold chocobo, not to mention racing at Gold Saucer for some good items.

But for now, I’ll settle for a couple of ultimate weapons and limit breaks.

Tifa’s Final Heaven and Premium Heart

With Cloud back in the party, it’s time to stop at Nibelheim one last time and play that piano. With Tifa in the party, play the familiar FFVII overture on the piano, and Tifa will discover a sheet of music. On the back of this music is a note written to her by Zangan, her old master. He explains what happened the night of the fire, and what he did to fight the Shinra afterward. He’s decided to retire from that effort, but writes out the instructions for her Level 4 limit break, Final Heaven. I actually still have to unlock a few of her ultimates, so she can’t learn it right now.

Meanwhile, at Bone Village we can dig up a “Key to Sector 5” item. So I did this and flew back down to Midgar. Brings back some memories. Anyway, the point of this nostalgia is to head to Sector 6: remember that Item Shop in the wall market, the one with the auto guns? Well it’s working again, and spits out Premium Heart – Tifa’s ultimate weapon.

The guy at the weapon shop also sells us a Sneak Glove accessory for a measly 129,000 gil.

Now Tifa is all powered up. Time to use some of our new chocobos and take care of our resident vampire guy.

Vincent’s Chaos and Death Penalty

We can load up the green chocobo onto the Highwind and fly over to the Nibelheim area and land. There’s a cave ringed by mountains just to the south east of here. This wold be the cave of Lucretia, who plays a small but pivotal role in the narrative.

Vincent tries to approach the woman in here, but she tells him to back up. We get  a series of cutscenes which depict Vincent as a Turk. There’s the woman, Lucretia, and Hojo. Apparently they were performing human experiments and Vincent took issue with this, and it’s implied there was some sort of love triangle going on. Anyway, we see Vincent get shot by Hojo, and operated on in the creepy basement of the Shinra Mansion. So that’s how he became vampiric.

Long story short, Lucretia is none other than the mother of Sephiroth. She decided to wall herself into this cave as penance for her sins, and his too, presumably. From here, we leave the cave and fight 10 random battles before returning. When we do, the woman is gone, but she’s left the death penalty ultimate weapon and Chaos limit break for Vincent.

There are a few materia caves I can go to with the chocobos, as well as the ancient forest. I’ll be doing that over the weekend. Speaking of, I’m going to be taking a break for a few days before picking up the playthrough again on Tuesday. Thanks for reading so far!