Twitch Plays FF7 Part 2: Chocobo Hunting and Learning to March

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kerikxi

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PART 1 - **NEW** PART 1.1 - PART 1.2 - PART 1.3 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14 - PART 15 - PART 16 - PART 17 - PART 18 - PART 19 FINALE

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As of this writing, Twitch Plays Final Fantays 7 stands complete. Clocking in at almost exactly 170 hours or just over 7 days, completing on FF7's launch day 24 years ago, Jan 31st 97. With every superboss dead and the game completely broken over our knee. How poetic is that? Let's talk more about how it happened.

The World Map

We are for the first time acquainted with the world map, and have access to all our core party members (at least without the panicked pressure of bikes behind us). There's a lot of forced and limited parties in Midgar, so everyone was kinda 'good enough' setup. Now, we more or less have to start thinking about how we're going to play the rest of the game.

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We decide to go with the girls. Aeris is not a healer, or a white mage. Magic is one stat in this game. She is a wizard, and she will be our main carry until she leaves the party. Our initial win goal was set as "steal tiny bronco", which is well before Aeris dies. Oh by the way, if you're reading this, spoilers for a 24 year old game, sorry. So we weren't anticipating beating the game, and besides, Aeris is a monster. We'd want to use her anyway. Tifa is a pragmatic choice until we have access to Yuffie. She hits like a truck and needs little management or materia. We ran lean on magic for a while, and not having the materia equipped helped boost our physical stats anyway.

World map didn't present many issues throughout the run, with a few notable exceptions. The ability to save anywhere at any time definitely increased our relative safety against costly resets, and the fights out here weren't much threat to us. If it wasn't clear from last part's description, game overs were frequent to say the least. And losing menu work or traversal ate up a lot of time. Almost all the time in this run is menu and movement, if I had to estimate. Brief periods of intense action followed by a lot of stutter stepping and thumbing through menus. Movements and command sequences became memorized, repeated hundreds if not thousands of times. Saving, healing, walking. I'll probably type n+x- in my sleep.

Kalm Flashback

We make it to Kalm and begin the flashback sequence, a large lore dump where Cloud basically sets up this whole Sephiroth nonsense as he understands it. You're playing as young Cloud and ol Sephy is in your party from start to finish, so absolutely zero danger through this segment. I ended up driving a lot of this, as it was late at night and it was just a lot of story to chew through. Nothing exciting happens in the flashback, but it was at this point I started to properly realize we had more than a few people in chat who had never played the game before. Inputs were slow enough that you could read all the text easily, so for some people this was their first time experiencing the game.

I just want to take a moment to talk about the goddamn spiral staircase in Nibelheim mansion, and a bit more on movement in general. FF7 is an 8 way game and basically behaves like it's locked on a grid. A lot of times simply figuring out which way was north or west was an issue. Some screens orient south as facing the right, some left. Many times the cardinal direction to enter a door will be the same one to exit on the next screen, moving us back and forth stuck in the loading zone. It's much more intuitive with a controller, but translating that motion to keys took an adjustment period. Precision was very difficult, approaching ramps or climbing ladders could take minutes of fidgeting in place. Assuming you weren't caught on the edge of some geometry. We'll talk about ladderboss later. Navigating the spiral staircase was like doing the sector 7 pillar stairs on steroids. We had to do them twice in short succession. My hands hurt afterwards.

We finally complete the flashback and visit Kalm proper. We have a little bit of shopping to do before we leave. Most of our gear sucks, and this is the first shop we've hit in a while. Fortunately we're pretty rich, which happens when you kill everything you meet in this game. We buy every available weapon and armor, giving each party member a significant boost. The materia store here isn't great though, so we only grab an Earth for an extra damage spell. After stocking up on Phoenix Downs we bounce. Our next destination is Chocobo Ranch and Midgar Zolom.

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OH GOD CHOCOBO HUNTING

Fear creeps in as we approach Chocobo Ranch. I do my best to rally chat, but this will definitely be our greatest challenge yet. Before us lies the marsh, and its snakey boi denizen. In this sequence you are to catch a chocobo and use it's speed on the world map to ride across before the Midgar Zolom catches you. The chocobo itself does not protect you from zolom, only makes you fast enough to avoid him. Unfortunately even with a chocobo our lurching movement is insufficient to outrun him. Before we can even consider all that, we have to catch the damn thing.

As expected, chocobo encounters proved our toughest challenge to date. It not only required a menu to select the greens and target the chocobo with them, it also required targeting the other enemies and killing them quickly. Hit the chocobo or wait too long without feeding him and he'll run away. Even letting one person drive, the complicated nature of the inputs and the speed they needed to be delivered seemed overwhelming. Other methods for crossing the marsh were considered. In theory we could just grind until we were strong enough to defeat the zolom in battle, but zolom is level 30, we were half that. It could take days of grinding the pitiful experience in this area to do it. Another option was the save trick. Every time you load a save, the zolom changes position on the map. The idea is to run as far as you can and save before he catches you, then load and run farther again. This would eventually work, but it would also take a LONG time and we could potentially get stuck in a deathloop. Chat settled in for the grueling task and after EIGHT HOURS, we caught a bird.

Democracy is immediately enacted. We cannot open the menu to save while riding a chocobo. If we press X, we get off and our bird runs away, destroying all that work. The decision is made to use turbo to cross the marsh, as our input speed cannot hope to do it fast enough, and nobody wants to spend another day hunting. The other side is reached, a save is made, and the run continues. I was asleep by this point. It had been way too long time since I took a break.

A few hours later chat has reached the forest outside Junon and the first opportunity to recruit Yuffie. Yuffie is a good all rounder and will be with us for most of the rest of the game. But first we have to find her, beat her, and successfully complete her recruitment event. Encountering her isn't difficult, but her event requires specific menu inputs or she will flee. On the first attempt, even despite using democracy, the wrong inputs are used and she escapes. After about an hour of searching, Yuffie is recruited. About this time I rejoin the run. One person asks if I've slept in the past few days. I answer not much.

Lower Junon

Chat faces a daunting task ahead. Junon has a series of complicated tasks to complete. First is a boss, Bottomswell. This boss is fairly difficult even casually, and marks the return of a dreaded mechanic. Periodically throughout the fight he will encase a character in a bubble, a similar attack to Reno's pyramid that must be targeted and killed. Fortunately he uses this abiilty far less often than Reno, and Aeris was able to carry most of the fight first try with the rest of the party downed. She even took out Cloud herself with a bolt, I'm sure because she knew she could handle it.

Next we faced the CPR minigame. This sequence involves pressing square to begin filling your "lung power", and then square again to perform the CPR. Some of chat was worried but again, this minigame has no fail state. You're just filling an invisible meter, so even spamming square will eventually work. The next minigame proved more intimidating though. After saving her, the little girl gives you her whistle so you can call her dolphin and use it to jump up to Junon proper. The position you have to be in when you call the dolphin is fairly exact, but there's a little known trick to this minigame. If you simply don't press any directions and call the dolphin twice, you will land on the platform every time. However, any movement at all would render the trick useless. Fortunately, chat rallied and we jumped to the platform with ease. We have reached Junon proper and the start of what is effectively a minigame gauntlet.

Rufus Welcome Ceremony

Cloud is seperated from the rest of the party again, but fortunately there are no fights in this sequence. Instead our hero dons a familiar uniform and poses as a guard to infiltrate the welcoming ceremony. We skip shopping in Junon entirely. While there are some decent things here, we're plenty strong enough now to handle what lies ahead until our next shopping opportunity. Chat is mostly looking to get this part over with, because while most minigames we have been able to fail out of up to now, there is one ahead that requires at least one correctly timed input.

Both the minigames in this section offer decent rewards if completed well, but since that absolutely won't happen our only goal is to get past them. The first is the dreaded parade march. While you can completely botch the second half, you are required to get in line first. The window to run to your position at the back of the line is short, and any input in the wrong direction will start you over. However, once again chat pushes past with relative ease, receiving a 3% viewer rating and costing a man his job.

The next minigame is the Rufus sendoff ceremony. We can safely fail out of this one as it just affects the rewards. Our performance still somehow warrants us with a potion. With that, at 45 and a half hours we sneak aboard a Shinra transport boat and make our way across the sea. In the next part, we'll play on the beach, cross some mountains, and gamble our money at Golden Saucer. If you've stuck with me this far, thanks! Hope you're enjoying the recaps, any feedback is appreciated!

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PART 1 - **NEW** PART 1.1 - PART 1.2 - PART 1.3 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14 - PART 15 - PART 16 - PART 17 - PART 18 - PART 19 FINALE

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