Enduring Final Fantasy VII - Episode Eleven

Posted by dankempster (2253 posts) -
<< Episode Ten - Going GongagaEpisode GuideEpisode Twelve - Just A Little Nibel >>

Yep, it's that time again, folks. It's the latest episode of Enduring Final Fantasy VII, the serial blog in which I chronicle my return to Final Fantasy VII, playing it through the objective eyes of a modern gamer to find out if it still has something to offer. This episode has emerged a little later than planned, but better late than never, eh? Roll titles!

This episode brought to you by the Russian Dance expression in Fable II - seemingly guaranteed to get you laid

Episode Eleven - Canyons And Caverns

After loading my save, the action picks up just outside Cosmo Canyon, with Cloud on the world map standing next to a broken-down buggy. A quick scan of the immediate area reveals a river to the north, meaning we can't make any progress without the buggy. Perhaps somebody at Cosmo Canyon will be able to repair it? Deciding it's worth a shot, the party steps into Cosmo Canyon. Upon entering the town, Red XIII breaks away from the party - it turns out the Canyon is his home. It's also revealed that his real name is 'Nanaki'. Now short of an established party member (not to mention all of his Materia), the game takes me to the Party screen and orders me to select a placeholder. I promptly select Barret, and set off in pursuit of Red XIII.

Within seconds, my party disbands.

This is pretty annoying, to say the least. The game's just prompted me to replace Red XIII in my party, and then removed that party, leaving Cloud to explore Cosmo Canyon alone and rendering the entire affair somewhat pointless. Thankfully, it's not an issue that I dwell on for too long, and that's largely due to getting swept up in the aesthetics of Cosmo Canyon. The environment looks completely unlike anything else I've encountered so far in the game - the caverns cut into red rock faces and elevated tribal huts blow the stereotypical-JRPG-residential-location appearance of places like Kalm and Costa Del Sol out of the water. The music is also fantastic, really helping to create the feel of a place with a long, peaceful and spiritual history. In the centre of the Canyon, Cloud encounters a fellow who offers to fix the buggy, although (somewhat predictably) it's going to take some time. While pursuing Red XIII, Cloud also takes some time to check out the various vendors in the Canyon, picking up some pretty nice new weapons and Materia along the way (including some Stat-boosting Materia, available for the first time in the game).

Cloud finally catches up to Red XIII in the Planetarium on top of the Canyon. The Planetarium is owned by an old man named Bugenhagen, who claims to be Red XIII's grandfather (I'm not sure how that works, but hey, let's roll with it). A lot of story exposition follows, concerning both Red XIII's past and the party's ongoing mission to save the Planet from both Sephiroth and the Shinra Electric Power Company. Bugenhagen seems to find the group's aim almost entertaining, given that he's already foreseen the Planet's destruction within the near future, but nonetheless he invites Cloud and two other party members into his Planetarium to demonstrate what he knows about the workings of the Planet. This is apparently my cue to resume rambling about the Canyon, hunting down party members to accompany me into the Planetarium. I opt to take in Aerith and Tifa, and make my way back up to Bugenhagen's hideaway. What follows, if you'll permit my nostalgia to creep in for a single sentence, is probably one of my favourite scenes in the entire game:

The moving Planetarium, and Bugenhagen's explanation of spirit energy and the Lifestream, is a brilliant piece of visual storytelling. Although it's not immediately apparent, the things that Bugenhagen says throughout this scene (unfortunately missing in this video) will have a great degree of relevance to later events in the game, and I remember that as an eleven-year-old, this simple visual explanation really helped me to get to grips with the rather complex concepts being banded around. When Bugenhagen's show comes to an end, things become a little clearer in Cloud's eyes - by drawing the Lifestream up through Reactors and converting it into Mako energy, Shinra are upsetting a very delicate balance and effectively choking the Planet. Could Sephiroth's plan have something to do with the Lifestream, too? Cloud, Aerith and Tifa head down to the Cosmo Candle, the big flame burning in the centre of the settlement, to meet up with the rest of the crew. Cloud takes the opportunity to sit down with the party and find out what's up with everybody, which makes for some interesting little tidbits of character development (even in spite of some awkward Engrish). Barret reveals that AVALANCHE was founded here in Cosmo Canyon, presumably by a man who'd seen the same eventuality that Cloud had just witnessed in the Planetarium.

When Cloud sits down beside Red XIII, a full account of his history comes out. It seems that long ago, the people of Cosmo Canyon were attacked by a tribe known as the Gi. Red XIII's mother bravely fought back the attackers, but his father supposedly ran away from the onslaught, a coward. Bugenhagen arrives on the scene right on cue, telling Red XIII he has something to show him, and inviting Cloud and one other party member along. Logic dictates I should revert back to my accepted posse of Cloud, Red XIII and Aerith, so that's exactly what I do. The Cosmo Canyon scenario has forced me to shift my party around rather a lot, and most of it has seemed pretty unnecessary. There's just enough time to rejig my equipment and Materia to accommodate my recent purchases, and as soon as that's done I follow Bugenhagen up to the locked door on the second floor of the Canyon. According to the eccentric old fellow, there's a secret trapped behind this door that he believes Red XIII is now ready to see. Suited and booted, Cloud and the others descend into the Gi Cave. As they do so, the pleasant music of Cosmo Canyon slowly fades into nothingness.

The Gi Cave is a dungeon. In fact, this blog may well represent the most clear-cut structural conformity in Final Fantasy VII thusfar - moving from the world map into Cosmo Canyon, and from there into the Gi Cave, adheres pretty strongly to the formulaic standard of "overworld->town->dungeon" typical of most JRPGs. Typical of Final Fantasy VII, though, the Gi Cave isn't an out-and-out dungeon - it also serves as a means of revealing the truth behind Red XIII's lineage. Reaching the exit of each screen is accompanied by a brief bout of storytelling from Bugenhagen, detailing the occasion when the Gi tribe attempted to infiltrate Cosmo Canyon through this very cave. This constant stream of exposition means that while the Gi Cave is definitely a dungeon first and foremost, it serves as more than a simple shortcut under a mountain or levelling hotspot (although it's deinitely one of those). Another thing that surprises me about the Gi Cave is how small it is. My personal recollection of the Gi Cave was a lengthy dungeon, but the entire cavern is made up of only three navigable screens (to put it in perspective, that's one less screen than the Mithril Mine I navigated in Episode Six).

I take my time working through the dungeon, making sure I pick up all the items on offer, as well as gaining some useful experience points from the steady stream of battles I get into. It's somewhere within this process that I'm reminded of one of my pet peeves with Final Fantasy VII - the way it handles the obtaining and setting of Limit Breaks. For the uninitiated, allow me to explain - in Final Fantasy VII, each character has four levels of Limit Break. In most cases, the first Break in each level is earned by defeating a certain number of enemies, while the second Break in each level is earned by using the first Break of that level a certain number of times. This means it's possible for a character to earn a Limit Break from a more advanced level before earning both Limit Breaks for their current level, and this is exactly what happened with Aerith while I was fighting in the Gi Cave. Another, even more annoying issue in my eyes, is how these Limit Breaks are organised - it's only possible to use one level's Limit Breaks at a time. I can understand putting a cap on the number of Limit Breaks available to a character at any one time, but the levels prove to be an inconvenience a lot of the time. Just ask my poor Aerith, who's been stuck with the mostly-useless Breath of the Earth for the last five hours in the hope of unlocking the much-more-useful Fury Brand. Being able to pick any two options from a character's bank of learned Limit Breaks would have remedied this while ensuring no character became overpowered, not to mention offering an additional level of character customisation.

Anyway, Cloud and the party finally make it to the end of the Gi Cave, where they're confronted by that face. I should imagine that pretty much anybody who's played this portion of Final Fantasy VII will remember that face:

That Face

No word of a lie, this face gave me nightmares when I was a kid, and it still freaks me out now. The picture is bad enough, but to see it in-game, moving and gurning away, is a whole other level of disturbance. As far as unsettling, distorted faces go, I think it's right up there with Soundgarden's video for Black Hole Sun. Back on topic, that face represents Gi Nattak, the end-of-dungeon boss. It's a battle that has the virtue of being both the most complicated and the most straightforward encounter in the game thusfar. Which depends entirely on your approach. Battling it in the traditional way makes for a tough, strategic encounter. It's undead, immune to Fire attacks, capable of healing itself, and accompanied by two Soul Fires that can possess your fighters and damage them with Fire spells from within. It's a battle that requires a careful balance between attack and defence on the part of the player, ensuring that your party deals out enough damage to exceed Gi Nattak's healing spells, while at the same time keeping one eye on the party's health to ensure the Soul Fires don't put you in a dangerous position. This was the approach I chose to adopt, and it definitely proved to be the toughest and most rewarding boss battle in the game up to this point. Alternatively, for players who aren't willing to dig their heels in and grind away at Gi Nattak's HP, it's possible to end the fight simply by throwing a Phoenix Down at him. Yep, that's right - because he's undead, it'll kill him outright. Cheap and unrewarding, but it gets the job done.

Cloud's Deathblow attacks and Red XIII's Ice 2 spell both whittle away at Gi Nattak while Aerith keeps everybody's health topped up, and after a few minutes of sustained punishment the boss falls. With the spirits of the Gi tribe put to rest, Bugenhagen leads Red XIII out through the rear entrance of the Canyon. Red XIII is finally told the truth about his father, Seto. Anything but a coward, the courageous warrior had given his own life ensuring that the Gi attackers never made it inside the Canyon. Seto's body, petrified by the poisoned arrows of the Gi, now stands watch over Cosmo Canyon for all time. Reinvigorated by his new-found sense of pride in his father, Red XIII vows to keep travelling with Cloud's party, hoping that saving the Planet will keep the Canyon (and by extension, his grandfather) safe. With the buggy now conveniently fixed, the group are free to cross the northern river to reach Nibelheim. Thinking it best to save that leg of the journey for next time, though, I simply hop into the buggy and save the game, bringing this rather long episode to a fitting end.

So at the close of Episode Eleven, my current vital statistics are:

  • Current Party - Cloud (Lv 29), Aerith (Lv 29), Red XIII (Lv 29)
  • Current Location - Cosmo Canyon Region, World Map
  • Time on the Clock - 16:37

As always, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading, especially those of you who've been sticking with Enduring Final Fantasy VII throughout the whole series so far, but also those of you who hop in from episode to episode to offer up their opinions on the game and the scenarios covered. Besides revisiting a game that I hold particularly dear and getting to write about it, a great deal of the satisfaction I get from writing this series has come from receiving and reading your comments, your feedback, and the memories (both fond and not-so-fond) you've shared. Part of the reason for the delay in writing this episode is that I've been playing Fable II alongside Final Fantasy VII, and it's captivated me quite a bit with its art style and dark, quintessentially British sense of humour. Rest assured, though, this is no indication that I'm slowing down, and I'm really looking forward to writing the next episode. Once again, thanks very much for reading. I'll see you around.

Dan

---

Currently playing - Final Fantasy VII (PSP)

<< Episode Ten - Going GongagaEpisode GuideEpisode Twelve - Just A Little Nibel >>
#1 Posted by dankempster (2253 posts) -

Yep, it's that time again, folks. It's the latest episode of Enduring Final Fantasy VII, the serial blog in which I chronicle my return to Final Fantasy VII, playing it through the objective eyes of a modern gamer to find out if it still has something to offer. This episode has emerged a little later than planned, but better late than never, eh? Roll titles!

This episode brought to you by the Russian Dance expression in Fable II - seemingly guaranteed to get you laid

Episode Eleven - Canyons And Caverns

After loading my save, the action picks up just outside Cosmo Canyon, with Cloud on the world map standing next to a broken-down buggy. A quick scan of the immediate area reveals a river to the north, meaning we can't make any progress without the buggy. Perhaps somebody at Cosmo Canyon will be able to repair it? Deciding it's worth a shot, the party steps into Cosmo Canyon. Upon entering the town, Red XIII breaks away from the party - it turns out the Canyon is his home. It's also revealed that his real name is 'Nanaki'. Now short of an established party member (not to mention all of his Materia), the game takes me to the Party screen and orders me to select a placeholder. I promptly select Barret, and set off in pursuit of Red XIII.

Within seconds, my party disbands.

This is pretty annoying, to say the least. The game's just prompted me to replace Red XIII in my party, and then removed that party, leaving Cloud to explore Cosmo Canyon alone and rendering the entire affair somewhat pointless. Thankfully, it's not an issue that I dwell on for too long, and that's largely due to getting swept up in the aesthetics of Cosmo Canyon. The environment looks completely unlike anything else I've encountered so far in the game - the caverns cut into red rock faces and elevated tribal huts blow the stereotypical-JRPG-residential-location appearance of places like Kalm and Costa Del Sol out of the water. The music is also fantastic, really helping to create the feel of a place with a long, peaceful and spiritual history. In the centre of the Canyon, Cloud encounters a fellow who offers to fix the buggy, although (somewhat predictably) it's going to take some time. While pursuing Red XIII, Cloud also takes some time to check out the various vendors in the Canyon, picking up some pretty nice new weapons and Materia along the way (including some Stat-boosting Materia, available for the first time in the game).

Cloud finally catches up to Red XIII in the Planetarium on top of the Canyon. The Planetarium is owned by an old man named Bugenhagen, who claims to be Red XIII's grandfather (I'm not sure how that works, but hey, let's roll with it). A lot of story exposition follows, concerning both Red XIII's past and the party's ongoing mission to save the Planet from both Sephiroth and the Shinra Electric Power Company. Bugenhagen seems to find the group's aim almost entertaining, given that he's already foreseen the Planet's destruction within the near future, but nonetheless he invites Cloud and two other party members into his Planetarium to demonstrate what he knows about the workings of the Planet. This is apparently my cue to resume rambling about the Canyon, hunting down party members to accompany me into the Planetarium. I opt to take in Aerith and Tifa, and make my way back up to Bugenhagen's hideaway. What follows, if you'll permit my nostalgia to creep in for a single sentence, is probably one of my favourite scenes in the entire game:

The moving Planetarium, and Bugenhagen's explanation of spirit energy and the Lifestream, is a brilliant piece of visual storytelling. Although it's not immediately apparent, the things that Bugenhagen says throughout this scene (unfortunately missing in this video) will have a great degree of relevance to later events in the game, and I remember that as an eleven-year-old, this simple visual explanation really helped me to get to grips with the rather complex concepts being banded around. When Bugenhagen's show comes to an end, things become a little clearer in Cloud's eyes - by drawing the Lifestream up through Reactors and converting it into Mako energy, Shinra are upsetting a very delicate balance and effectively choking the Planet. Could Sephiroth's plan have something to do with the Lifestream, too? Cloud, Aerith and Tifa head down to the Cosmo Candle, the big flame burning in the centre of the settlement, to meet up with the rest of the crew. Cloud takes the opportunity to sit down with the party and find out what's up with everybody, which makes for some interesting little tidbits of character development (even in spite of some awkward Engrish). Barret reveals that AVALANCHE was founded here in Cosmo Canyon, presumably by a man who'd seen the same eventuality that Cloud had just witnessed in the Planetarium.

When Cloud sits down beside Red XIII, a full account of his history comes out. It seems that long ago, the people of Cosmo Canyon were attacked by a tribe known as the Gi. Red XIII's mother bravely fought back the attackers, but his father supposedly ran away from the onslaught, a coward. Bugenhagen arrives on the scene right on cue, telling Red XIII he has something to show him, and inviting Cloud and one other party member along. Logic dictates I should revert back to my accepted posse of Cloud, Red XIII and Aerith, so that's exactly what I do. The Cosmo Canyon scenario has forced me to shift my party around rather a lot, and most of it has seemed pretty unnecessary. There's just enough time to rejig my equipment and Materia to accommodate my recent purchases, and as soon as that's done I follow Bugenhagen up to the locked door on the second floor of the Canyon. According to the eccentric old fellow, there's a secret trapped behind this door that he believes Red XIII is now ready to see. Suited and booted, Cloud and the others descend into the Gi Cave. As they do so, the pleasant music of Cosmo Canyon slowly fades into nothingness.

The Gi Cave is a dungeon. In fact, this blog may well represent the most clear-cut structural conformity in Final Fantasy VII thusfar - moving from the world map into Cosmo Canyon, and from there into the Gi Cave, adheres pretty strongly to the formulaic standard of "overworld->town->dungeon" typical of most JRPGs. Typical of Final Fantasy VII, though, the Gi Cave isn't an out-and-out dungeon - it also serves as a means of revealing the truth behind Red XIII's lineage. Reaching the exit of each screen is accompanied by a brief bout of storytelling from Bugenhagen, detailing the occasion when the Gi tribe attempted to infiltrate Cosmo Canyon through this very cave. This constant stream of exposition means that while the Gi Cave is definitely a dungeon first and foremost, it serves as more than a simple shortcut under a mountain or levelling hotspot (although it's deinitely one of those). Another thing that surprises me about the Gi Cave is how small it is. My personal recollection of the Gi Cave was a lengthy dungeon, but the entire cavern is made up of only three navigable screens (to put it in perspective, that's one less screen than the Mithril Mine I navigated in Episode Six).

I take my time working through the dungeon, making sure I pick up all the items on offer, as well as gaining some useful experience points from the steady stream of battles I get into. It's somewhere within this process that I'm reminded of one of my pet peeves with Final Fantasy VII - the way it handles the obtaining and setting of Limit Breaks. For the uninitiated, allow me to explain - in Final Fantasy VII, each character has four levels of Limit Break. In most cases, the first Break in each level is earned by defeating a certain number of enemies, while the second Break in each level is earned by using the first Break of that level a certain number of times. This means it's possible for a character to earn a Limit Break from a more advanced level before earning both Limit Breaks for their current level, and this is exactly what happened with Aerith while I was fighting in the Gi Cave. Another, even more annoying issue in my eyes, is how these Limit Breaks are organised - it's only possible to use one level's Limit Breaks at a time. I can understand putting a cap on the number of Limit Breaks available to a character at any one time, but the levels prove to be an inconvenience a lot of the time. Just ask my poor Aerith, who's been stuck with the mostly-useless Breath of the Earth for the last five hours in the hope of unlocking the much-more-useful Fury Brand. Being able to pick any two options from a character's bank of learned Limit Breaks would have remedied this while ensuring no character became overpowered, not to mention offering an additional level of character customisation.

Anyway, Cloud and the party finally make it to the end of the Gi Cave, where they're confronted by that face. I should imagine that pretty much anybody who's played this portion of Final Fantasy VII will remember that face:

That Face

No word of a lie, this face gave me nightmares when I was a kid, and it still freaks me out now. The picture is bad enough, but to see it in-game, moving and gurning away, is a whole other level of disturbance. As far as unsettling, distorted faces go, I think it's right up there with Soundgarden's video for Black Hole Sun. Back on topic, that face represents Gi Nattak, the end-of-dungeon boss. It's a battle that has the virtue of being both the most complicated and the most straightforward encounter in the game thusfar. Which depends entirely on your approach. Battling it in the traditional way makes for a tough, strategic encounter. It's undead, immune to Fire attacks, capable of healing itself, and accompanied by two Soul Fires that can possess your fighters and damage them with Fire spells from within. It's a battle that requires a careful balance between attack and defence on the part of the player, ensuring that your party deals out enough damage to exceed Gi Nattak's healing spells, while at the same time keeping one eye on the party's health to ensure the Soul Fires don't put you in a dangerous position. This was the approach I chose to adopt, and it definitely proved to be the toughest and most rewarding boss battle in the game up to this point. Alternatively, for players who aren't willing to dig their heels in and grind away at Gi Nattak's HP, it's possible to end the fight simply by throwing a Phoenix Down at him. Yep, that's right - because he's undead, it'll kill him outright. Cheap and unrewarding, but it gets the job done.

Cloud's Deathblow attacks and Red XIII's Ice 2 spell both whittle away at Gi Nattak while Aerith keeps everybody's health topped up, and after a few minutes of sustained punishment the boss falls. With the spirits of the Gi tribe put to rest, Bugenhagen leads Red XIII out through the rear entrance of the Canyon. Red XIII is finally told the truth about his father, Seto. Anything but a coward, the courageous warrior had given his own life ensuring that the Gi attackers never made it inside the Canyon. Seto's body, petrified by the poisoned arrows of the Gi, now stands watch over Cosmo Canyon for all time. Reinvigorated by his new-found sense of pride in his father, Red XIII vows to keep travelling with Cloud's party, hoping that saving the Planet will keep the Canyon (and by extension, his grandfather) safe. With the buggy now conveniently fixed, the group are free to cross the northern river to reach Nibelheim. Thinking it best to save that leg of the journey for next time, though, I simply hop into the buggy and save the game, bringing this rather long episode to a fitting end.

So at the close of Episode Eleven, my current vital statistics are:

  • Current Party - Cloud (Lv 29), Aerith (Lv 29), Red XIII (Lv 29)
  • Current Location - Cosmo Canyon Region, World Map
  • Time on the Clock - 16:37

The Story So Far...

Table of Episodes
Episode Zero - The Obligatory Back StoryEpisode One - Initial Reactors... I Mean, Reactions
Episode Two - Flower Girls And Honey BeesEpisode Three - The Valiant Rescue Effort
Episode Four - Escape From MidgarEpisode Five - All Kalm On The Eastern Continent
Episode Six - An Abundance Of Big BirdsEpisode Seven - Hitching A Ride
Episode Eight - Over The Mountain, Into The SaucerEpisode Nine - Face-Offs And Race-Offs
Episode Ten - Going Gongaga

Looking for the next episode? You can find Episode Twelve - Just A Little Nibel here.

As always, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading, especially those of you who've been sticking with Enduring Final Fantasy VII throughout the whole series so far, but also those of you who hop in from episode to episode to offer up their opinions on the game and the scenarios covered. Besides revisiting a game that I hold particularly dear and getting to write about it, a great deal of the satisfaction I get from writing this series has come from receiving and reading your comments, your feedback, and the memories (both fond and not-so-fond) you've shared. Part of the reason for the delay in writing this episode is that I've been playing Fable II alongside Final Fantasy VII, and it's captivated me quite a bit with its art style and dark, quintessentially British sense of humour. Rest assured, though, this is no indication that I'm slowing down, and I'm really looking forward to writing the next episode. Once again, thanks very much for reading. I'll see you around.

Dan

---

Currently playing - Final Fantasy VII (PSP)

#2 Posted by BulletproofMonk (2725 posts) -

Man...reading your thoughts on Cosmo Canyon and watching that clip really made me wanna through this game again.

#3 Edited by Meowayne (6084 posts) -

Yay!
 
I wish I still had my drafts and outlines of my FF VII screenplay project. I remember that one of the challenges I faced was my goal to tell what is essentially disc 1 in a time frame of 45 minutes. My... epiphany regarding this goal ended up being the decision to omit the character of Nanaki altogether while retaining Bugenhagen and Cosmo Canyon, by making it part of Aerith's story - and by making it the goal of the group from the moment they leave Midgar. There is no denying that while Nanaki is a fan favorite, his part and motivation in this story is arguably the weakest one, and it was easy to sketch this story without him. 
 
And how is Seal Evil useless? I don't remember ever having a problem with the limit system, in fact getting all Aerith's Limits is probably the easiest of the game. I love VII's limit system and greatly prefer it to VIII's or IX's. 
 
Edit: Oh yeah, the Cosmo Canyon music is always my #1 argument for why orchestrated music isn't always better. There is just something about how the midi tunes in combination with a lack of voice acting shaped and made these JRPG locations what they are, something which I miss today. Locations in JRPGs just don't have the impact they used to have.

#4 Posted by WalkerTR77 (1380 posts) -

As much as I love it, final fantasy 7 is really difficult to go back to.

#5 Posted by gla55jAw (2692 posts) -

The Limit Breaks actually unlocked differently depending on each character and each specific limit break. On my play-though now, I'm just a little further than you and at this point Cloud and Barret already have both their level 3 Limits unlocked.
 
Are you going to get Vincent on your trip to Nibelheim?

#6 Posted by mzuckerm (351 posts) -

Great look back at a classic.  This was one of the first games that really dominated my life (Tie Fighter did that first, probably).  I must've beaten it three or four times.  The last time I think I did pretty much everything that's possible to do in the game, which took a ridiculous amount of time.
 
I still think that the materia system was one of the most well thought out mechanics in an RPG.  Really simple and intuitive, but some of the combinations were really complex and powerful.

#7 Edited by dankempster (2253 posts) -
@Meowayne: Final Fantasy VII screenplay? Sounds mighty interesting. I'd definitely be willing to agree that Nanaki is the least necessary of the mandatory characters. I'd even go as far as to say Vincent's ties to the main story are stronger than his, although I'm not sure I could say the same for Yuffie. Interesting to observe that it's Red XIII and his backstory that are completely obligatory, while obtaining Vincent is optional, and digging into his past requires a fair amount of additional effort. 
 
Regarding Seal Evil, I apologise. It is a useful Limit Break, and one that I've used a number of times in this playthrough alone. It's an error on my part - the Limit Break I meant to refer to was Breath of the Earth, and I'll fix the blog accordingly. My issue with it is that it's an ability that cures status ailments. I've got items and Materia in my inventory that can handle that in a much more time-appropriate fashion than waiting for a Limit bar to fill up. Compared to something like Fury Brand, which has an effect that can't be replicated with items or Materia, it feels a lot like a waste of a Limit Break. In terms of the whole "Level" system, I just don't like the way some of the Limit Breaks are paired up, I guess - purely a matter of personal preference. It also bothers me that Aerith is the only character with Limit Breaks that are defensive in nature. At the risk of being put up against the wall and shot, I'm going to run to the defence of Final Fantasy IX's version of the Limit Break - the Trance system. I liked it because it took each character and amplified their strengths, rather than giving them what basically amount to "finishing moves". Vivi could use two Black Magic spells, Steiner became a physical powerhouse, and Dagger's summons became stronger, for example. I'll close by saying that I have no real qualms with most of the Limit Break attacks in Final Fantasy VII, I just think the system of learning and assigning Limit Breaks could have used a little refinement. 
 
@gla55jAw: I know that the number of Limit Break uses required and the number of enemies that have to be defeated vary from level to level and from character to character. As things stand for me, Cloud and Red XIII have all of their Level 1 and Level 2 Breaks, while Aerith has all her Level 1 Breaks, her first Level 2 Break and her first Level 3 Break. Regarding Vincent, I'm pretty sure I'll be picking him up, although if I do, I'm thinking that Mount Nibel will probably get pushed on into Episode Thirteen - covering Nibelheim, the Mansion, Vincent AND Mt Nibel in a single blog would be a pretty mammoth entry, even by this series' standards.
#8 Posted by gla55jAw (2692 posts) -
@dankempster said:
" @Meowayne: Final Fantasy VII screenplay? Sounds mighty interesting. I'd definitely be willing to agree that Nanaki is the least necessary of the mandatory characters. I'd even go as far as to say Vincent's ties to the main story are stronger than his, although I'm not sure I could say the same for Yuffie. Interesting to observe that it's Red XIII and his backstory that are completely obligatory, while obtaining Vincent is optional, and digging into his past requires a fair amount of additional effort. 
 
Regarding Seal Evil, I apologise. It is a useful Limit Break, and one that I've used a number of times in this playthrough alone. It's an error on my part - the Limit Break I meant to refer to was Breath of the Earth, and I'll fix the blog accordingly. My issue with it is that it's an ability that cures status ailments. I've got items and Materia in my inventory that can handle that in a much more time-appropriate fashion than waiting for a Limit bar to fill up. Compared to something like Fury Brand, which has an effect that can't be replicated with items or Materia, it feels a lot like a waste of a Limit Break. In terms of the whole "Level" system, I just don't like the way some of the Limit Breaks are paired up, I guess - purely a matter of personal preference. It also bothers me that Aerith is the only character with Limit Breaks that are defensive in nature. At the risk of being put up against the wall and shot, I'm going to run to the defence of Final Fantasy IX's version of the Limit Break - the Trance system. I liked it because it took each character and amplified their strengths, rather than giving them what basically amount to "finishing moves". Vivi could use two Black Magic spells, Steiner became a physical powerhouse, and Dagger's summons became stronger, for example. I'll close by saying that I have no real qualms with most of the Limit Break attacks in Final Fantasy VII, I just think the system of learning and assigning Limit Breaks could have used a little refinement. 
 
@gla55jAw: I know that the number of Limit Break uses required and the number of enemies that have to be defeated vary from level to level and from character to character. As things stand for me, Cloud and Red XIII have all of their Level 1 and Level 2 Breaks, while Aerith has all her Level 1 Breaks, her first Level 2 Break and her first Level 3 Break. Regarding Vincent, I'm pretty sure I'll be picking him up, although if I do, I'm thinking that Mount Nibel will probably get pushed on into Episode Thirteen - covering Nibelheim, the Mansion, Vincent AND Mt Nibel in a single blog would be a pretty mammoth entry, even by this series' standards. "
Yeah some of the Limit Breaks are just how many times you use them and others unlock simply just defeating a number of enemies in general by any means necessary.
 
Yuffie and Cait Sith both have a limit (well Cait Sith's is random) that healed the party's health.
 
Maybe do Mt Nibel and Rocket Town in the same entry, I just finished Rocket Town and it's fairly short. I was going to say I hope you go to Wutai after (since that's what I'm up to), but if I remember correctly you never found Yuffie?
#9 Posted by dankempster (2253 posts) -
@gla55jAw: I did pick up Yuffie, although I didn't devote much blog time to it (a single paragraph at the end of Episode Six). I haven't used her much, either, although I'm thinking I might start mixing up the party a little more for future episodes. I'll definitely be doing Wutai, at any rate, so don't worry about that :) 
 
The situation with Aerith's Limit Breaks seems to get to me more and more with each successive playthrough of the game. Throughout the first disc, she's pretty much the only character that the developers expressly pin down as a Magic-user. Sure, Red XIII has high Magic-based stats, and it's possible to fit any character into any role thanks to the flexibility of the Materia system, but Aerith is without a doubt the best healer in the game. This is supported by her Limit Breaks, which are totally focused on healing and buffing the party like there's no tomorrow. When she's no longer available, you're left with a band of eight adventurers that are designed more to deal damage than to support. In terms of supporting the story with gameplay, it's great - without going too heavily into spoiler territory, Aerith is the one character that can stop Sephiroth passively, and her Limit Breaks are a very clever reflection of that in the gameplay. In terms of practicality and actually playing the game, though, it sucks. Weird thing is, I ALWAYS pick Aerith for my team throughout the first disc, KNOWING that what's coming is coming, and I STILL get pissed off by this stuff. You'd think I'd have learned by now, but no... :P
#10 Posted by gla55jAw (2692 posts) -
@dankempster said:
" @gla55jAw: I did pick up Yuffie, although I didn't devote much blog time to it (a single paragraph at the end of Episode Six). I haven't used her much, either, although I'm thinking I might start mixing up the party a little more for future episodes. I'll definitely be doing Wutai, at any rate, so don't worry about that :)  The situation with Aerith's Limit Breaks seems to get to me more and more with each successive playthrough of the game. Throughout the first disc, she's pretty much the only character that the developers expressly pin down as a Magic-user. Sure, Red XIII has high Magic-based stats, and it's possible to fit any character into any role thanks to the flexibility of the Materia system, but Aerith is without a doubt the best healer in the game. This is supported by her Limit Breaks, which are totally focused on healing and buffing the party like there's no tomorrow. When she's no longer available, you're left with a band of eight adventurers that are designed more to deal damage than to support. In terms of supporting the story with gameplay, it's great - without going too heavily into spoiler territory, Aerith is the one character that can stop Sephiroth passively, and her Limit Breaks are a very clever reflection of that in the gameplay. In terms of practicality and actually playing the game, though, it sucks. Weird thing is, I ALWAYS pick Aerith for my team throughout the first disc, KNOWING that what's coming is coming, and I STILL get pissed off by this stuff. You'd think I'd have learned by now, but no... :P "
It's funny because I always use Aeris in my party too! Actually I usually always use Aeris and Barret, then switch Aeris to Vincent. This play-though though I'm finally trying to mix it up. I've been using Barret and Yuffie and may swap Barret for Cid. Also I'm sure you remember, but using Vincent in Wutai is a big help because of his Limit Breaks.
 
Oh man I really do love Final Fantasy VII haha.
#11 Posted by azhang (111 posts) -

I would play FFVII again but I already beat it twice, so really no point in replaying it.

#12 Posted by Korne (625 posts) -

Great read... I don't remember 'That Face', but you totally hit home with the nightmares from the Black Hole Sun video. 

#13 Edited by Pepsicolaboy (321 posts) -

I really hope they don't remake this game. I love and hate everything about it as it is.   
This is great feature buddy, keep it up!

#14 Posted by Meowayne (6084 posts) -
@azhang said:

" I would play FFVII again but I already beat it twice, so really no point in replaying it. "

You'd be surprised how much stuff you had not seen or thought about, or what new things you might try with the materia system, or how much fun going through some of this can be. 
I personally did my third playthrough when VII became portable. First on my netbook, then on the PSP. 
 
Speaking of the materia system, it constantly amazes me with its possibilities.
 
   


 Barret's max HP is 7935.
With Restore (HP -2%) his max HP equals to 7777.
And now HP is 3100~3300.

Missing Score
Mime=Counter x 4
Wizard Bracelet
Mime=Counter x 2, Attack=Restore (LV 3)
Ribbon

First, Barret use Regen by Attack. Second, do Ungarmax before Ruby Weapon act. Weapon doesn't use counter before he puts out a feeler. And his MP Attack, barret starts Mime=Counter Ungarmax. If HP is 7777 between weapon's attack and counter, doesn't use normal attack, repeats counter 7777 damage.

#15 Posted by Fallen189 (5033 posts) -

Sorry if this has been answered in a different thread Dan, but have you played it through before this?

#16 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6297 posts) -

Fable 2 is really a hell of a companion piece to Final Fantasy VII.  They don't share a lot of qualities, but there's a certain level of care put into the world creation that tends to shine through, and it's quite a fun contrast in RPG styles.  
 
In any case, I liked Cosmo Canyon, but I used to have a bit of trouble navigating the town due to some odd door placements and my visual problems.  I'm curious to see how that translates to my 32 inch TV as opposed to my older, smaller one from my childhood.  I played a ton of Final Fantasy Tactics on the PS3 recently (because I was too lazy to get up and pop in a game, which worked out favorably), and now I'm thinking I ought to finish it, and finally go back to finish VIII and IX.  We'll see.

Moderator
#17 Posted by gla55jAw (2692 posts) -
@Meowayne said:

" @azhang said:

" I would play FFVII again but I already beat it twice, so really no point in replaying it. "

You'd be surprised how much stuff you had not seen or thought about, or what new things you might try with the materia system, or how much fun going through some of this can be. 
I personally did my third playthrough when VII became portable. First on my netbook, then on the PSP. 
 
Speaking of the materia system, it constantly amazes me with its possibilities.
 
   


 Barret's max HP is 7935.
With Restore (HP -2%) his max HP equals to 7777.
And now HP is 3100~3300.

Missing Score
Mime=Counter x 4
Wizard Bracelet
Mime=Counter x 2, Attack=Restore (LV 3)
Ribbon

First, Barret use Regen by Attack. Second, do Ungarmax before Ruby Weapon act. Weapon doesn't use counter before he puts out a feeler. And his MP Attack, barret starts Mime=Counter Ungarmax. If HP is 7777 between weapon's attack and counter, doesn't use normal attack, repeats counter 7777 damage.

"
Wow that's crazy. There really are tons of materia combo's I never thought of when I was a kid playing this. That one is insane! I know there's tons of other one's. One example I saw will have you counter attack 3 times and finish with a deathblow.
#18 Posted by dankempster (2253 posts) -
@Fallen189: This is my... *counts on fingers* ...sixth time playing through Final Fantasy VII, and the first time I've touched the game since 2007. If you're interested, you can find a fairly extensive account of my history with the game here
 
@Sparky_Buzzsaw: I'm surprised by how much content there is in Fable II. It's a pretty shallow game by RPG standards, but there are still a lot of activities open to you at any given time. It looks gorgeous, too - like a Disney cartoon, my girlfriend commented. I'm just taking care of some side quests and expanding my real estate empire before continuing with the story - just about to rescue the second Hero, I think. 
 
@Meowayne: Holy shit. The Materia system really is an incredible thing when it's pushed and experimented with. I honestly can't think of any other game with an ability system than can allow for stuff like that. Seeing that also reminds me that in ten years and five playthroughs of this game, I've never defeated Ruby or Emerald WEAPON *hangs head in shame*
#19 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6297 posts) -
@dankempster:
Its shallow nature is really my only complaint with the game.  More side quests and a much longer main quest with a better ending are high in my list of wants for Fable 3.  I'd also like to see a few more towns and ways to influence the game world around you, but I think the exploration elements of Fable 2 were top-notch.  I'm still occasionally finding some new bit of treasure or a silver key I hadn't found in prior playthroughs.  Good stuff.
Moderator
#20 Posted by Meowayne (6084 posts) -

in ten years and five playthroughs of this game, I've never defeated Ruby or Emerald WEAPON *hangs head in shame*  

Say whaaat.
 
 

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