Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 25

Last time in FFVII we completed the Wutai side quest with Yuffie. Now for some level grinding and a quick stop to Fort Condor.

Leveling Again

With Aeris gone, I have eight guys left: Cloud at level 51, Vincent at level 48, Cid at level 45, and the rest falling between level 42-43. At this stage in the game, I’m not afraid of anything anymore. But since we’re close to the Disc Change and a lot of side questing lies ahead, I want to cut down on time spent there. So I took Yuffie and Red XIII and grinded up in the mountains of Wutai for a bit.

The loot drops in Wutai are pretty awesome: lots of X-Potions and the occasional Turbo Ether. The enemies are pretty weak, save for an obnoxious Magic Drain attack a couple of monsters have. The lowest XP is around 880 while the AP is all 130+ in these battles. Yuffie and Red are getting there, but I’m growing tired of the scenery in Wutai. So I head all the way back down to the Tiny Bronco and shove off for a different locale.

Thanks to a nice guide I found, I remembered a good place to grind. So I coasted to the island of Mideel, on the other side of the map, where the Sea Worms live. These are massive creatures that don’t do a ton of damage, but they do give you 1300XP, 200AP, and 5,000 gil. Not to mention a Turbo Ether every once in a while. I hunted these things for a while.

Fort Condor

Yep, this again. I wonder how many battles are left? This time there is a whole mess of guys who charge up the center. I’ve been deploying “tristoners” en masse there, and with combined arms of Shooters, Defenders, Attackers, and regular Fighters, the battle doesn’t take long at all.

Bone Village

I guess it’s time, huh? I can do a bit more grinding in the Sleeping Forest, or is it Correl Valley(?) before going to the City of the Ancients, which is our next destination. In the Bone Village, we need to dig up the Lunar Harp in order to “wake” the sleeping forest. You can go in there if you want, but there’s nothing to do. Except pick up the Kjata Materia which bounces around for some reason.

The Bone Village has some good armor (diamond and rune armlets), so I bought a pair for everybody. It’s an excavation site, the NPCs tell us, and for nature lovers. I don’t quite see how the two are connected, but okay. The digging game for the Lunar Harp is a minigame, where you try to guess where the buried Key Item is, then pay guys 100 gil a pop to dig it up. Let’s just say everybody knows where the Lunar Harp is, thanks to the plethora of screenshots of its spot since the Brady strategy guide was hot off the presses.

That done, we head back into the sleeping forest, wake it up, and that’s where I stopped for today. I have to make a run back to Fort Condor before proceeding to the city. I’m actually dreading this, which is surprising me.

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 24

Another short session today I’m afraid. We continue where we last left off, in the town of Wutai.

Wutai – Search for Yuffie

I backtrack a little to the weapon shop, but they’re not selling here. Too bad. Back to the save point, there’s an item shop with some good stuff and interesting (not to mention expensive) elemental based attack items. That’s handy to have with no Materia at the moment. Speaking of, one of the NPCs in here explains they’re too destitute to have any Materia. There is a chest with an MP Absorb Materia, which prompts thief Yuffie to drop in and steal it.

We head next to Turtle’s Paradise. Ah, so this is what all those Newsletters were about. There’s a contest going on, one of the NPCs informs us, and if we find all six Newsletters, we’ll get a special reward. Not a bad marketing idea. Anyway, our pals the Turks happen to be living it up at one of the tables. Elena wants to fight us, but Reno and Rude tell her they’re on leave. She shuts up reluctantly and sits back down (Rude mentions she spoiled the booze).

I checked the other houses, but Yuffie wasn’t anywhere to be found. So, I head to the next screen to the Pagoda.

The Pagoda

There’s a large house here with a free Inn (thank you) and a sleeping man, who tells us he doesn’t know no Yuffie. That prompts the ninja to show up and they promptly get into a Father-Daughter argument. She accuses him of being a coward and a boot licker to the Shinra, which prompts the man to chase her out of the house. He tells us to get the hell out too. Ok then.

In the background, the pagoda looms. We can’t do this sidequest yet without our ninja, so we’ll return there another time.

Chasing Yuffie

Back in the main part of Wutai, I head across the bridges to a largeish house. The owner calls us weirdos, but not as weird as some of the others that have come in to visit. Yuffie is hiding behind a screen, and when caught out she disappears. Back outside, she’s hiding out in the large pot outside of the Turtle’s Paradise. We corner her, and she’s contrite. She agrees to return the Materia and admits she knows what she did was wrong.

We follow Yuffie back to her house, and down stairs, there’s another Turtle Newsletter. She instructs us to hit the switch on the far wall to receive the Materia. But when we do so, an iron cage drops down onto Barret and Red XIII. She taunts us again and runs off.

At some point in all this, there was an interlude with the Turks. Two Shinra-men run in and breathlessly reports that they’ve “located him here, on vacation.” Elena steps up to the plate, but Reno and Rude continue to insist that they’re off duty and refuse to join the pursuit. The Shinra guys are stunned and tell them they don’t need them anyhow and will report this to HQ. Elena chides them for shirking their duties and runs off to help the guys.

Meeting an Old Friend

Back near the pagoda, we see a dog circling the bell on the left side of the screen. We approach the bell and ring it, and a secret door opens. Inside this place, there’s an actual ninja cornering Yuffie. He overwhelms her and soon yet another ninja appears – this time with Elena captured. In the back, the person responsible for all of this emerges: Don Corneo.

Huh?

That’s right, the Wall Market pimp from way back is here, and he’s back to his old woman stealing ways. He’s taken a fancy to Elena and bagged Yuffie as a twofer deal. The villain taunts us and runs out, only to be blocked by a Shinra assault force. Our party arrives just in time to run into this encounter, which Corneo wisely sidesteps.

I’m prepared this time, with Cloud equipped with a Ribbon and glasses on Barret and Red XIII. The battle isn’t as tough as the first outing though, and the Shinra guys go down in short order. Afterward, we race out of Yuffie’s father’s house and meet up with Reno and Rude.

The Turks came to assist Elena, and agree to a temporary truce with Cloud and the others to search for her and Yuffie. We’re off to the mountains together as a sort of team.

Da-Chao and the Don

There are a few paths here in this statue carved into the mountain. We follow Rude around to multiple spots and pick up a new weapon for Cid. At the save point in town, I used PHS to swap out Barret and Red XIII for Vincent and Cid. The rest of my crew are 9-10 levels below where Cloud is, which is something I’m going to have to address next. Anyway, we finally confront Corneo near a precipice. He’s got Elena and Yuffie tied up to the face on the mountain, and he plays his familiar game. He picks Yuffie to be his woman that night, at which point Cloud arrives.

Cloud and Vincent chastise the perv for his silly games, while Cid loudly threatens physical violence against him if he doesn’t let Elena and Yuffie go. Corneo being himself, he toys with us and then demands to know why we killed his last pet, Abs. He has a new surprise for us though, Rapps, which is a small dragon.

Boss Fight: Rapps

bover_87 cautions us against this beast, but to be honest, he’s not too much of a challenge. He smacked Vincent and Cid a few times for ~230 damage, but he never cast any of his fierce spells (Slow/Stop, etc.). After a couple of beat downs, the dragonet is toast.

Undaunted by the death of his new pet, Corneo again taunts us. We get the similar Choose a Response dialog from our first run-in with the villain, and he plays his trump card: he has a remote control that can drop the woman to their doom. Before he can do so though, Reno intervenes while Rude knocks him off the ledge.

While he’s hanging there, Reno steps on his fingers and the hapless man drops to his doom. So passes Don Corneo, the big man of Wall Market. Apparently, Corneo was the Turks’ target all along, marked for elimination since he opened his mouth about “the secret.” I presume the secret was Shinra’s plan to drop the plate on Sector 7. At that moment, Reno receives a call, and apparently, the next target of the Turks is none other than Cloud. Rude asks if they’re going to fight, but after a long dramatic pause, Reno lets us go, saying that they’re on Leave.

Thanks for the solid, guy.

Back in Wutai town, Yuffie hands over all of our Materia, and like Cait Sith before hand wants us to forget about all of her transgressions and let her continue as before. Cloud simply walks out on her, and she chases after us.

With that we’re back on the world map, ready to continue our journey. But that’s for next time.

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 23

I had very little time to play FFVII today. After Cloud wakes up and decides to do the right thing and help Aeris,  we’re back on the world map. I deliberated continuing on with the main quest at this point. Cloud is strong enough (level 51) to defeat most anything the rest of the Disc One has to throw at us, but I’m thinking now might be the best time to grind the others up. Not to mention, get some more ultimates and other items.

Wutai

Barret and Tifa are my default party mates, but I decided to swap out Tifa for Yuffie. Yes, it’s time to head to this world’s version of Japan. I took the Tiny Bronco the round about way, and finally landed on the shores of the western continent. During the last few dungeons we received a lot of powerful weapons with no Materia slots in them. Call me slow but I never put it together that this is because the game wants you to start Yuffie’s side quest(s) around this time.

My memory of Wutai is kind of hazy. I remember a mountainous dungeon, a confrontation with some Turks, and of course the town and its eerie, somewhat tragic music. As soon as I put ashore from the Tiny Bronco, I rearranged my Materia and accessories, and headed north. In short order, we go to a field map. Yuffie breaks from us and tells us that she knows the area well. With that, we’re ambushed by two Shinra-men, and the ninja books it.

Fight with the Shinra

Cloud and Barret face off with two guards in red outfits, and they prove surprisingly tough…considering I have no Materia of any kind! I forgot about that little plot twist: Yuffie is a Materia thief, so we have the second (third?) traitor in our midst. The Shinra guys spam us with a nasty status attack, leaving us blind and sad. They also use a grenade item, but their attacks are doing like 50-60 damage each time. They still managed to nickel and dime us so much that Barret’s limit break was full (called down Satellite Beam) and Cloud hit one guy for 1,000 damage to put it all away. Still, what an obnoxious little encounter.

After the battle, Red XIII comes up and tell us that all of the Materia is gone. This obviously won’t do, and Barret promises to ring her neck (or something like that) once he gets his hand on her.

So we head north a ways, and I equip everyone with their slotless weapons. I should mention that in the Clock Puzzle Room, I did fall down the tunnel and fight the miniboss there to obtain to the nailbat. It’s a pretty funny, out of character weapon for Cloud. I get to test it out in a random encounter here for the first time, and he deals out 1600+ damage in one hit. Damn.

I only got into two random encounters, and after traveling over a few bridges and in a valley, I arrive at the town of Wutai. Yuffie runs away as soon as we appear, but since I’m short on time today, I make use of the save icon and end it.

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 17

Another week, another loss for the Makers, who are now 6-11 on the season. I can’t help but feel, after the glimmer of competency last week, that the Loss this match up was preordained. This will be a brief post as I’m currently occupied with a much larger project. The main culprit for the loss this week was the absentee pitching. A week after they fired on all cylinders and delivered five wins, the hurlers returned to their non-factor form, scratching up a measly 30 points. The offense remained decent, delivering 226 points. The Makers lost by about 60 points to the last place team, but we’ll have time to settle the score. I believe I have two or three more matches scheduled against this particular opponent.

This week I’m up against a first place team with the best record in the league. They were my week three opponent, when they decisively crushed me by over 200 points. If the Bad Makers stick around this week, it’ll probably be a repeat performance. Anyhow, I’ll report back next Monday on how they did. Thanks for reading!

Break Day

I’ve played FFVII every day for the last week, and while I said I was going to post the summary of the story every day, it’s not going to happen today. I need to gather my strength before I get into the epic confrontation at the lost capitol of the ancients. I also need to play a different game or two before I become too much of a Square fanboi. And take care of some other work too.

Tomorrow we’ll cover the Fantasy Baseball Update, but in a brief preview the Makers are down about 30 points, and with no pitchers scheduled to go today and the waiver wire looking like trash, I think I’m going to eat a loss to the 12th place team. Hey, they need to win too every once in a while. That assures me a losing record this season, but what are you gonna do? But the full post will be tomorrow.

We will return to Read From Memory starting Tuesday and have a good run. We’ll definitely make a dent in Disc Two. It’s my intention to finish the game by the 20th anniversary of the North American release. That gives me a month to strike down the One Winged Angel. I believe I can do it.

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 22

Last time in FFVII we defeated the Red Dragon and learned what Sephiroth is truly after: the Black Materia.

A Redeeming Sacrifice

Still in the room with the carved relief, the Black Materia is conveniently here. There’s just one problem though, when Cloud attempts to remove it the entire place starts to shake. Aeris communes with the life stream, and learns that the Temple itself is the Black Materia. To prevent just anyone from gaining the power to summon the meteor, the Ancients devised an ingenious trap. You have to solve a series of puzzles to unlock the Materia, but as you do, the Temple shrinks and collapses in on you.

Brutal.

The implications should be obvious, but before we have to draw straws, the traitor Cait Sith volunteers his services. Since he’s just a stuffed doll/robot, he will stay behind and solve the puzzles, and get crushed in the process. We just have to go back and unlock a door for him to join us.

So we backtrack to the Clock puzzle room. The Time Guardian is gone, but the clock is frozen with the two hands pointing from our location (Six) to twelve. Straight forward enough. Running up there, we reach a large room with a locked door. When Cloud approaches it, he notes that it’s very warm. When he turns around to confer with his mates, a large demon morphs out of the wall behind him.

Boss Fight: Demons Gate

So I guess the Red Dragon was just a warm up act. This guy is supposed to be a tough battle, but truthfully he’s no match for my OP party. I gamely cast Big Guard on my party, halving all of his damage, and then spam “Slow” on him with Aeris. After a few tries with Aqualung and Summon spells, which don’t do much damage to it (~400?) I just pummel him with Cloud and Vincent. They do between 6 and 900 damage each, and finally I summon Bahamut and put him away. That’s still a cool animation, all these years later.

After the fight, Cait Sith saunters in. He’s glad at his chance at redemption, but before he sacs himself, Aeris asks him to read their fortunes one last time. He’s very “exited” to do so. It confirms what we’ve known for at least the last 20-40 hours, that Aeris and Cloud are star crossed lovers. With that he hops down into the room with the Black Materia. This is supposed to be a fourth-wall breaking hero monologue, I take it, where he expresses some regret and hopes that we won’t forget him, even if “another Cait Sith shows up.”

Foreshadowing within foreshadowing.

With that, the spy gets us the Black Materia.

Losing A Party Member

In the aftermath of Cait Sith’s sacrifice, there’s a huge crater where the Temple used to be. At the bottom of this hole lies the Black Materia. Vincent keeps watch while Cloud and Aeris descend to the bottom to collect it. At that moment, Sephiroth appears again, and Cloud begins to freak out. He has an out of body experience, where you’re in control of a youthful Cloud, begging and pleading with his older self not to submit to the villain. But to no avail: your avatar hands the Materia over Sephiroth, who gloats and flies off.

Aeris is horrified but attempts to console Cloud. Her reward for doing so is an epic ass whopping. He leaps ontop of her and starts to bash her face in. During all this another Cait Sith shows up (hooray?) and he and Vincent rush down and finally stop Cloud. He passes out.

Who’s the real traitor, right?

There’s a lengthy dream sequence next with Aeris and Sephiroth. The flower girl forgives him for beating her to near death, and tells him she’s going to the protect the planet from Sephiroth. Somehow the evil guy is in our dream too, and he sets up the confrontation.

Gongaga

When we come to, we’re in a small hut with Barret and Tifa. For once I’m on Barret’s side, as he berates Cloud for being a coward and a having a dumb haircut. After Cloud whines about his dilemma, he resolves to join the party and to save Aeris.

So we know where we’re going next: Bone Village, and the Sleeping Forest. The end of Disc One is in sight, and I’m kind of dreading it. Thanks for reading this installment.

Read From Memory: FFVII Pt. 21

Last time in FFVII I had just beached the Tiny Bronco “east of the sea” on the island where the Temple of the Ancients is located. Thanks to the traitor Cait Sith, the Shinra have the Keystone, so we’ll deal with that when we get there.

Leveling Up

It’s around this point that I remember FFVII getting tough. So to avoid that this time around, I did the necessary drudgery of leveling. The “Slaps” monsters around the temple give pretty good XP/AP – if you encounter a group of five, I think it’s around 1400XP and 150AP. Armed with the Aqualung enemy skill (thanks bover_87) and a peace ring to avoid the berserk status, I slaughtered dozens upon dozens of the insects. When it was over, Cloud was at level 50 and I had Mastered a few Materia and unlocked many of the level 3 spells.

Entering the Temple

After entering the Ziggurat, there’s a scene with Aeris. She’s hearing things from the world, but can’t make them out. Crossing the well maintained bridge, and up the stairs, we encounter the slumped figure of one of the black capes. He tells us “black….materia…..” before he dies. They note the tattoo on his arm before proceeding into the temple itself.

Inside the Temple

We find a wounded Tseng lying up against an altar. He speaks briefly about betrayal and misfortune, and admits to Cloud that Sephiroth is indeed here. Aeris loses her composure over the Turks’ injuries (apparently he’s a childhood acquaintance) but she resolves to carry on. Tseng gives us the Keystone and instructs us to place it on the altar. The room is actually an antechamber to the temple proper.

The party is teleported to what looks like an imitation Escher painting. There’s no way back, Vincent helpfully points out, so we have to make our way through. On the other side of the screen, there’s a strange creature that hops away from us. It’s leading us through the semi-maze. There are a few nice items and Materia here. Eventually we reach the creature, which is an Ancient in the flesh. Aeris can’t understand their language, but it acts as a Shop and Inn for us.

After the maze we’re lead by a creature into dexterity-puzzle room with falling stones. A stop by the pool in the middle of the room gives us a vision of Sephiroth shanking Tseng. Afterward, we find ourselves in the clock puzzle room. This is where, 20 years ago, I blew off the items in favor of rushing through the plot, costing me the Ribbon accessory. Guess who never got Ominslash 20 years?

Finally, there’s a chase puzzle in the next room (from the Six O’clock position), which leads us to a boss fight.

Boss Fight: Red Dragon

I should mention there was a lot of dialog and plot reveals from Sephiroth’s ghost(?) in this section. What he wants is the Black Materia, which help him summon a planet-killing object from space. The planet will attempt to heal itself, and when it does, he’ll absorb all the Spirit Energy and become a God. Ok, back to the fight: maybe leveling up to 50 was overkill. A couple of hits and aqualungs later, the dragon is toast, and we get Bahamut Materia as our reward.

Now we’re talking.

We still have to get the Black Materia and get out of the temple, which we’ll do in the next installment. Thanks for reading!

Read From Memory: FFVII Pt. 20

We’re getting close now, real close, in FFVII, to a major plot twist that will change the nature of the game. Last time we left off needing to get the Keystone from Dio at the Gold Saucer. We head there now.

Gold Saucer Battles

Using the Tiny Bronco only gets us so far. I forgot that you can’t go over the desert directly to the Gold Saucer. So I make my way back up to North Corel, Barret’s desolate hometown we first visited in Part 12. It’s still desolate. Over in the Gold Saucer, we pay the 3,000 gil day pass and make a beeline for the Battle Square. It’s still surprisingly nice having recently been the scene of a mass shooting. Anyway, heading over into the museum, Dio has put the Keystone on display prominently in the center of the room. Shortly, the man himself joins us, wearing his trademark speedo.

Dio refuses to let us “borrow the Keystone,” not unreasonably. But, after a split second he changes his mind and agrees to give us the Quest Item on the condition that we “entertain him.” That means battling in the Battle Arena. Even though Cloud is Level 40, I have a hard time getting all of the eight battles. By the skin of my teeth (and a timely Meteorain Limit Break) I got the Keystone, a protect vest and a chocobo feather. Not bad.

With nothing else to do I head back to the gondola, but apparently it broke down while I was entertaining Dio. So Cait Sith pulls some strings and gets us a free room at the Haunted House Inn. Once there, we go over the entire plot of the game for everyone, and Barret who still doesn’t understand what’s going on. With that, everybody retires to their beds.

Subterfuge on Date Night

Cloud is staring out his window in his room when Aeris comes in. She says “hee hee” and asks him to take her out on a date. Apparently this is our reward for dialog choices we made throughout the game. It’s free night at the Saucer, so we run off to Event Square. We’re the 100th couple in there so we get to enact the play for that night. It’s a fun little sequence that doesn’t take long. After that, we head to the gondola ride and get some CGI scenes and character development. Aeris is falling for Cloud, but ever the beta male, he doesn’t get it.

As we return to the station to call it a night, we find Cait Sith by himself. In a shocker, the robot mascot has stolen the Keystone! We chase him throughout the place and end up the Chocobo Square. Our chase is in vain, as the cat evades us and tosses the Keystone to Tseng, waiting nearby in LEGO copter.

What happens next is bizarre. Cait Sith tells us to forget the whole thing happened and “continue like before.” Cloud rightly wants to throttle the traitor, but he plays his trump card: he’s a Shinra employee, remote controlling Cait Sith (okay…) from Shinra HQ. What’s more, he has Marlene hostage. He expresses remorse that it had to come to this, but he wants to continue on with the crew. He’s intrigued by “our way of life.” He does give us the location of the Temple of the Ancients, for what it’s worth.

Ugh. I hate this character.

To the Temple of the Ancients

There were a few runs back to Fort Condor, but I decided to take the time to level considerably, with Vincent and Aeris in my party. We’ll run through this in the next update.

Read From Memory: FFVII pt. 19

Last time in FFVII we were right at Rocket Town, having traversed Mt. Nibel.

Fort Condor Trip and Back

Thanks to bover_87’s guide, I’m know that I have to go all the way back to Fort Condor before speaking to “the Captain.” With that in mind, I visited a few houses, got some items, and met with Shera, really a tragic figure in the story. I bought a few pricey accessories (earring and another power wrist) and picked up the Yoshiyuki from an old man. With all that done I made the long journey back to Fort Condor. The trip wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I admit. Once at the Fort, I commanded a successful battle, losing only 4 units, and received 5 potions (yay?). I then started the long journey back to the plot thread.

That little side trip out of the way, at Rocket Town the party finds its next vehicle, the Tiny Bronco. It’s a cool little plane, reminiscent of a real Osprey. At Shera’s behest we go speak to “the Captain” who is in the tilting rocket north of the town. Oh, I should mention that Rocket Town derives its name for this prominent landmark. The Shinra space program built this town. This rocket, named Shinra-26, was supposed to be what took man into space, and the captain was to be the first guy to do it. We meet him now, this game’s Cid.

Cid is a foul-mouthed eccentric. He’s excited though, because Rufus is in town and he anticipates the new president Shinra will restart the space program. Cid refuses to let us “borrow” the Tiny Bronco though. Very well.

Uncomfortable Meetings

Back at Cid’s house, the long-suffering Shera relates the backstory to us. During launch day, she “caused” the last launch to fail, because of her slowness. She performed her final safety checks too slowly. Cid canceled the launch at the last second (literally) to save her from incineration. Ever since she’s served as his submissive woman without complaint.  Cid returns and promptly berates her (and us) and demands she serve tea. I remember back in the day one of my buddies thought this whole sequence was hilarious. It is still kind of amusing.

After a series of conversations and some more berating, Palmer of the Shinra Corp enters the room. Cid insults the man’s weight several times, and leaves to speak with Rufus. Palmer doesn’t recognize us initially, but he does ask Shera to put lard in his tea. Ok…

Outside, Cid is beside himself as Rufus tells him that he’s not in Rocket Town to restart the space program, rather he wants to take the Tiny Bronco as part of his pursuit of Sephiroth. After this scene, we head back inside and Shera tells us that Palmer is out back, preparing to hijack the plane. Cue the boss fight music.

Boss Fight: Palmer

After all that grinding, Cloud is level 41, and Aeris and Tifa are at level 39 and 37, respectively. The fat man takes a shot at Aeris with his Mako gun (Ice2) but unfortunately for him Cloud is at his limit break. I used Meteorain on Palmer, and that was it. In an amusing bit of slapstick, Palmer ducks the propellers of the rotating plane (ala Raiders of the Lost Ark), mocks us and waddles away – only to be hit by a truck.

Yeah I know. It’s ridiculous. But I can still appreciate the Saturday morning cartoon zaniness of it all.

The party mounts the Tiny Bronco and it takes off on its own. Apparently on autopilot, the plane circles around the rocketship back to Cid, who’s still accosted by the Shinra men. The cantankerous guy leaps up to the plane for the dramatic escape, but one of the SOLDIER’s manages to put a round through the Tiny Bronco’s tail. We crash in the sea, and Cid is inconsolable. He lets us have the now unflyable (but apparently seaworthy?) plane, and then joins the crew. He insults all of us too, for good measure.

Now I’m starting to remember why I didn’t care for this dude.

A Brief Side Quest

Now that we can coast along the shallow water areas of the world map and travel rivers, I take the Tiny Bronco inland down a river and head back to the Gold Saucer area. There’s a small shack here, in which an Arms Dealer resides. If you recall way back when, we spoke to the old man in the cave near the Mythril Mine. Well, the Arms Dealer happens to need mythril to make weapons, so in exchange for letting him have this key item, he gives us a choice. We can take the contents in the big chest, or the little chest. The big chest contains some armor, but the little chest contains the Great Gospel, which is Aeris’ ultimate limit break. I choose the latter. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten Aeris to this point, so I’m happy to try it out.

The Saucer and the Temple

The friendly Arms Dealer also gives us some plot information. There’s a keystone that’s important to the fabled temple of the ancients. I believe that’s where we’re heading next. Unfortunately for us, the dealer had the keystone, but he sold it already to somebody else. When pressed for an answer, he tells us the buyer’s identity: our old friend Dio, owner of the Gold Saucer.

Next Up, we’ll visit the arcade again and maybe take the Tiny Bronco a spin, before heading toward the Ancients’ area of the world.

Read From Memory: FFVII Pt. 18

Last time in FFVII we got to the Shinra Mansion in the creepy (but important) town of Nibelheim. Just a reminder I’ll be posting my progress as I go along every day now until I beat the game.

Shinra Mansion

This time Shinra Mansion has a side quest for us. We don’t have to unlock the hidden character now, but since we’re here, why not? The mansion features what amounts to a scavenger hunt to unlock a safe on the second floor. Once you have all the numbers, there’s a time dexterity test to unlock the safe. That done, you face a tough boss called the Lost Number.

Thanks to bover_87’s guide I had little trouble with the boss. With a key and a shiny new Odin materia in my inventory, I headed downstairs to the graveyard/basement. Here’s where you can unlock a crypt which contains Vincent, the second hidden character of the game. He’s initially reluctant to join you. But after you confront Sephiroth in the next room, he decides what the hey and signs up.

At the suggestion of the main antagonist, from here we continue north into the mountains.

Mt. Nibel

Unlike in the flashback sequence we actually have a distance to go. We’re back on the world map and cut off from our buggy. Anyway, you’re in a valley of sorts, and at the end of it is our next destination. You find a few good items and Materia on the mountain path and in the ruins of the Mako reactor. And the enemies drop a lot of XP and AP. Cloud is around level 40 now, so these enemies aren’t difficult. After grinding a bit and unlocking my first level 3 spell (Ice 3), I make my way to a huge scorpion-like creature blocking my path. This is the Materia Keeper, but like Lost Number before him, he’s not overly difficult for my party.

Rocket Town

At last we’re getting somewhere in the main plot. After journeying for a while to the north, I got to Rocket Town, where yet another party member waits for us. Since I need to do some back tracking before meeting the new guy, I decide to save here for the day.

We’re getting close to the end of Disc One now, with a lot more plot twists to come.