Another 3000 Gil had to be spent to enter the Golden Saucer. The party should really work on getting that 30 000 and buying a lifetime ticket. Dio really didn’t have much issue with giving away the keystone. The only thing he asked for in return was for Cloud to “entertain” him in the battle arena. The battle was short and not at all entertaining, though. Cloud managed to lose from the very first monster, who got lucky with an instant death spell.

Final Fantasy VII, Dio at the Gold Saucer

The time at the Gold Saucer makes the events that follow so much worse.

As they were ready to return to their rooms, Cloud and Aeris spotted Cait Sith carrying the keystone. As he noticed them, he instantly started running. Cloud suspected there was a Shinra spy in their party for a long time now, so it now became obvious what Cait Sith was all about. After a lengthy chase through the various areas of the Saucer, Cloud and Aeris finally managed to corner him at the Chocobo Square, but not before he gave away the key to the Shinra.With the keystone in their possession, the party was ready to leave, but sadly, the tram was broken, so they were forced to spend the night at the Saucer. Due to the issues with the tram, all of the events were free for the night, so Aeris woke up Cloud in the middle of the night to take him on a “date”. It was a fun night for Cloud and he even managed to learn something new about the girl. She used to have a boyfriend who was in SOLDIER. His name was Zack and Cloud reminded her of him for some reason. This was also probably the same Zack the people in Gongaga are looking for.

Cait Sith had nothing to hide now. His body is just one of many, as would be expected of a fortune telling machine. It’s being controlled from Shinra Headquarters, by an unknown person, and destroying this copy would simply activate the backup. The person controlling him is a Turk and has taken Marlene hostage just in case this happens. Cloud and Aeris are forced to hide the fact Cait Sith is a spy and keep him with the party if they want to keep Marlene safe. It wasn’t all bad, though. Cait Sith seemed reluctant to use Marlene as leverage and admitted he is starting to see things differently from Shinra, now that he’s been with the group.

In any case, there was nothing to be done but move on. Whichever side has the keystone, their next step would be to open the temple, so that’s where Cloud decided to go next, keystone or no.

Yuffie was hard to track in Wutai. Appart from her being a ninja, it was obvious the rest of the town was helping her elude the group. After several encounters where she managed to escape, Cloud,  Barret and Red XIII managed to corner her near an inn. Even then, she only pretended to be defeated to lure them into a trap.

During the search, Cloud had another encounter with the Turks. They were Reno, Rude and Elena this time. While Elena was eager for a conflict, Reno and Rude decided to ignore the party due to, in their words, being on a vacation. They even refused to help a bunch of Shinra guards with tracking down another unknown individual who was in the area.

Eventually, the group tracked down Yuffie again, this time to a hidden room under a large bell. This is where they discovered Yuffie and Elena were captured, by none other than Don Corneo, the perverted idiot with whom Cloud has already dealt in the past. He lured the gang into another trap and then escaped towards the gigantic statues carved in the local cliff side.

Final Fantasy VII, Wutai

It was difficult to consider Wutai a nation in Final Fantasy VII. Crisis Core made me realize that.

There was nothing left to do in Wutai, so the party returned to the Tiny Bronco and continued sailing to the north. On the shores of the northern continent, they found Bone Village, a tiny settlement built upon an arheological dig. This is where Cloud finally managed to get some information about Sephiroth’s whereabouts. The Temple of the Ancients is located to the southeast, directly opposite of Bone Village, in relation to the central continent. It is supposedly a pyramid, located in the middle of the forest, on an isolated island. In order to enter, however, one needs a keystone. The rumor is, some rich guy has it.Reno and Rude decided to initiate a truce and help Cloud and the others with saving Yuffie and Elena. Together, they searched the cliff side and soon found Corneo with the girls strapped to one of the statues. At first, he threatened their lives unless Cloud lets him go, but he did not expect Reno and Rude to be there, so his plan failed. Yuffie and Elena were finally free and Yuffie even gave back all the materia she stole.

There are several rich people Cloud knows, so this wasn’t a very useful rumor. Because of this, the party decided to find the rumored temple first and only then worry about the keystone. As described, the temple was on an island between the southern tips of the central and the eastern continent. Without the keystone, the party was unable to enter.

North of the temple, on a peninsula of the central continent, there was a lone house which Cloud already visited in the past, but there was no one home. Desperate for clues, the party visited the house again and found a man living there. As luck would have it, he used to have the required keystone, but sadly, he was “persuaded” into selling it to Dio, the manager of the Golden Saucer.

This was Cloud’s next stop.

The Nibel reactor was another area I used to have trouble with as a kid. The place itself was tough enough, with the dragon monsters which would hit extremely hard, but the boss at the end, Materia Keeper, was the real issue. Back then, I didn’t understand materia, and I understood elemental absorption even less. This monster absorbed fire and did a huge amount of damage through Trine, as well as single hits. As a kid, I barely even knew how to bind healing materia to my gear, so I would be able to heal my party. 

There was nothing left but to follow Sephiroth through the mountain. The road was the same as in the past, for the most part, and the party was near the reactor in no time. The way out was soon found, but before that, Cloud wanted to navigate through a series of ladders and pipes in order to gather the valuable equipment left behind by the reactor crew. This involved some walking back and forth, but it was eventually worth it.

The cave exit was guarded by a monster, the Materia Keeper. It was a powerful creature, able to use attacks which hit multiple targets at once, as well as some powerful physical moves. Eventually, Cloud managed to defeat it with Barret and Red XIII.

Once outside the caves, the only place reachable by foot was a local town. The town was built around an old run down rocket ship. Asking around town revealed that the rocket belongs to Shinra. It was part of a space exploration program that was scrapped due to a launch failure and high financial costs.

Final Fantasy VII, Rocket Town

After the depressive atmosphere of Mount Nibel, Rocket Town serves as a refreshing change.

The captain’s name was Cid and he was definitely not willing to give up his plane. He was also an extremely ill-mannered person. His assistant, Shera, felt it the worst because, according to her words, the initial launch of the rocket failed because of her. She was attempting to repair an oxygen tank seconds before launch and was even willing to die, but Cid aborted the launch to save her life. After that, mako became a lucrative industry and the space program was scrapped. Cid basically never forgave her, even though it wasn’t really her fault.There was nothing in town for them so the party decided to search for a way to continue their journey. In the backyard of one of the houses, Cloud managed to find an old, but functional aircraft. Cloud asked the resident, a woman named Shera if it was possible for them to borrow it, but she said it belonged to “the Captain” who was at the rocket ship.

As the party was talking with Cid and Shera, they were interrupted by the arrival of president Rufus and his posy. At first, Cid was hopeful that the space program might be restarted, but it was soon obvious why they were really there. They wanted to take Cid’s plane, the Tiny Bronco. Cloud and the gang listened to the conversation from inside the house and decided to take the plane before Rufus could.

Before that, they had to deal with Palmer, Rufus’ lackey, who was inspecting the plane. Palmer was a pathetic man, easy to deal with, but he slowed them down enough for Shinra to notice the theft attempt. They started shooting at the runway. Cid also noticed what was happening and even managed to catch up and climb aboard, but as the plane was taking off, several bullets hit one of the engines and a forced landing was soon required.

The plane was not airworthy anymore, but at least it could be used as a flotation device. With nothing left for him, Cid decided to join the party for the off-chance to one day pay the Shinra back for what they did to him. They now needed to decide where to go next. Cloud overheard Rufus about Sephiroth going to some place called The Temple of the Ancients, but he had no idea where that was. However, they crash-landed at the shores of Wutai, so they decided to land on the shore and ask around in the nearest town.

They reached a bridge connecting two cliffs, when Yuffie stopped them to say something. Before she did, a pair of Shinra officers attacked. When the battle was over, Yuffie was nowhere to be found, along with any materia the party used to own. This was her plan all along – to lure them to Wutai and rob them. For better or worse, the party was now stuck in Wutai until they track down the thief.

The Nibelheim Cloud entered was not the Nibelheim he and Tifa remembered from five years ago. The town seemed like nothing bad ever happened to it. In fact, it seemed so fine, Cloud began doubting his memories. Upon investigation, though, it became obvious something is wrong. Most citizens would get overly defensive on any mention of Sephiroth or the towns destruction.

Even more disturbing, some of the people there, namely those dressed in black acted unstable, constantly talking about joining Sephiroth and some sort of Reunion. Through one of them, Cloud found out Sephiroth is at the Shinra mansion. The ground floor of the mansion held a book written by some Shinra researcher. He mentioned a subject that has been put in suspended animation in the cellar. The key to his room was stored in a safe and the pieces of the combination were hidden in the mansion. He also left several clues about where the pieces might be:

One of the pieces was supposed to be “in the place with the most oxygen”. There was a room filled with plants in the upper left wing, and this is where Cloud managed to find the first part of the combination. Another piece was “behind the ivory’s short of tea and ray”. This one was difficult, but Cloud managed to remember that piano keys used to be made from ivory. Once he remembered that, it became clear that “tea and ray” were actually do notes “Ti” and “Re”. The second part of the combination was found next to the piano, again in the upper right wing of the mansion. The third piece was found by simply following the instructions in the message. There was a chair in the upper left wing, placed next to a squeaky floor. From that point, one simply needed to follow the required number of steps in the right direction in order to find the third part of the combination. The fourth and final piece was found in the research notes themselves. It was written in invisible ink, right underneath the third clue.

The final combination to open the safe, thus, was “right 36, left 10, right 59, right 97”. With this, the safe was opened and the group was attacked. The monster was tough, but the party managed to dispose of it. As a reward, they gained the cellar key, something called Cosmo Memory, and a materia which can be used to summon Odin.

Final Fantasy VII, Vincent Joining

I used a guide from the PSX magazine to get Vincent in my first play. Even so, I only got him and Odin later in the game.

The subject the research notes spoke of was found in a casket in the locked room. He was reluctant to help Cloud or even to get up upon being awoken, but eventually, the group managed to persuade him to join their cause. His name was Vincent and he used to work for Shinra, as a member of the Turks. He also loved a woman named Lucrecia, who was the woman who gave birth to Sephiroth. Basically, she was the surrogate for the cloned child.
In the same cellar, at the library, Cloud and the party had an encounter with Sephiroth, again in a state that didn’t really seem living or real. He was more like an apparition than a person. He told Cloud he should follow him through the mountains of Nibel, past the reactor, if he wishes to learn his intentions.

Nanaki’s grandfather, Bugenhagen, was an extremely knowledgeable person. Cosmo Canyon is a place devoted to learning about the Planet and life living on it. Bugenhagen has spent a large deal of time studying nature and listening to what the Planet has to say, so he filled Cloud and the group in.

Every living thing, every object, everything on the Planet is connected as energy. When something dies, its energy goes back to the planet, circulating through it until it ends up back in some other living thing. All of this energy forms a network called the lifestream. The lifestream gives live to everything, but it also gives life to the planet. If the lifestream is ever depleted, the planet will die, just like everything on it.

This is exactly what Shinra is doing. Mako reactors create electricity from the lifestream energy. Once that electricity is spent, there is no way for it to go back to the lifestream. With every mako reactor built, the Planet is dying faster. If there was every anything to strengthen the party’s resolve, it was this realization. Shinra needs to be stopped. Whatever Sephiroth is planning needs to be prevented. The Planet must be saved.

Final Fantasy VII - Seto in the Cosmo Canyon

Many forget this sad scene in favor of the one later in the game, but I find it almost just as sad.

The caves are the site of an old battleground, where the Cosmo Canyon fought off the Gi tribe. They tried to use the caves to sneak into the town, but they were somehow stopped. Now their spirits haunt the caves, unable to return to the lifestream. The road through the caves was a perilous one, but eventually, the party managed to reach the end of it. This is where the undead leader of the Gi tribe attacked, Gi Natak.There’s something else that needs to be done first, though. Red XIII, or Nanaki, as he is truly called, needs to come to a realization. He is convinced his father died a coward, leaving his mother and him alone to fend for themselves. He has grown up resenting him. Bugenhagen is saddened by this, because he knows the real truth. To make the truth clear, he needs the party to follow him to the caves bellow Cosmo Canyon.

Of course, being undead, there was a simple way to deal with the creature. A single X-Potion defeated the spirit instantly. With the spirit out of the way, the passage to the outside was open and that’s where Nanaki could see the truth. Guarding the canyon was the petrified body of Seto, his father. He is no coward, he never was. He sacrificed himself to stop the Gi from advancing. His sacrifice is what saved Cosmo Canyon from certain doom.

Upon realizing this, Nanaki was filled with remorse for how he felt. He let out a long, sad howl as a sign of respect for his father. While he did this, the statue let out a stream of crystalized tears. The truth was now known and Nanaki could focus on what’s important – the salvation of the Planet.

It was now time to return to where the Sephiroth story started – to Nibelheim, Cloud and Tifa’s home town.

With the buggy in their possession, the party decided to search further for Sephiroth. The road led them to Gongaga, another village ruined by the Shinra Company. The village was located near an old mako reactor which eventually blew up. The few that made it are now barely surviving and the village is slowly dying out. They entered the village, but not before being attacked by a young Wutai ninja named Yuffie in one of the outlying forests. She acted her age, but has shown eagerness to join the group, for some reason, so Cloud decided to let her.

Final Fantasy VII - Gongaga Village

It took me two plays of the game to figure out what Gongaga was and who lived there.

At the town entrance, the gang had another encounter with the Turks and this time, it got physical. Reno and Rude were no match for Cloud, Barret and Red XIII though, so the fight was not a lengthy one. After the Turks retreated, Cloud and the group continued towards the reactor, where were forced to hide from a Shinra helicopter. The passengers on it were Scarlet, the new head of the Shinra weapons branch, and a couple of low ranking guards. Apparently, they were surveying decommissioned reactors, looking for powerful materia, but they got nothing here in Gongaga. As they left, Cloud decided to take a look at the ruined reactor himself and he was right in doing so. He found a piece of materia which would enable him to summon Titan. It might not be powerful enough for Shinra, but it will surely help the party.

The group explored the town, trying to find some information about where Sephiroth might have went. Sadly, they got nothing. It wasn’t uneventful, though. One of the families there asked Cloud if he knew their son, who was also a member of Soldier. Cloud denied every knowing anyone by the name of Zack, but admitted the name did sound familiar to him.

Since there was nothing to be found in town, Cloud decided to continue exploring with the buggy. The next place along their way was Cosmo Canyon. As they entered, Red XIII was greeted as Nanaki. It turns out this was his real name, and Cosmo Canyon was his place of origin. His grandfather lives there, so he decided to visit him and let the rest of the party explore the town.

As suspected, Barret was being too hard on himself. He used to live in a mining town called Corel. Coal was getting used less and less, so the villagers voted on letting the Shinra build a Mako reactor in the mountains nearby. Barret was one of the supporters of the idea, while the only person against it was his friend Dyne. The village accepted the Shinra offer, but soon enough, the company showed its true face. For some reason, probably to remove the potential bother, they burned down Corel and killed everyone there. Barret and Dyne were on their way home from the reactor when it happened and got ambushed by a guard platoon. Barret survived with his arm ruined, but Dyne fell off a cliff.

Flash forward to today, all the survivors moved tho North Corel and they blame Barret for all that happened, for some reason Cloud didn’t really understand. I mean, sure, Barret was a Shinra supporter back then, but so were most people.

In any case, this didn’t matter now. The gang needed to get information and the best place for that was to go where everyone goes – The Golden Saucer. The entrance fee was costly, at 3000 Gil, but hopefully it would be worth it. Barret went to sulk on his own, while Cloud took Aeris to explore and investigate.

Final Fantasy VII - Cait Sith at Gold Saucer

This is one of the images that drew me to the game. I saw it first in a Croatian gaming magazine called PSX.

At the Wonder Square, they encountered a strange creature, describing itself as a fortune telling machine called Caith Sith. As far as fortune telling goes, it seemed to be broken because, even though it’s supposed to be able to find lost items and people, it couldn’t say much about Sephiroth’s whereabouts. He did say one thing, though. Cloud will find what he’s after, but he will lose something very dear to him on the way. This puzzled the creature, so it decided to accompany the gang.

Things made a turn for the worse at the Battle Square. The guard at the entrance was found dead. The party decided to investigate further and soon found most of the people there to be dead or dying due to gunshot wounds. Before they could understand what happened, the security arrived and mistook them for the killers, casting them to the desert prison bellow the Golden Saucer. This is where the gang found Barret again. Even though the gunshot wounds pointed at him, he denied the blame. Apparently, there was another person with a weapon drafted to his arm. The doctor who did the procedure on Barret said so.

Upon some exploration, Cloud found out the only way to escape the prison is by winning a race as a Chocobo jockey. Of course, in order to become a jockey, the local “boss” needs to approve it. As suspected, the boss was none other than Dyne. He survived the fall and had the same procedure as Barret, but he was not as well of mind. He wants to destroy everything due to what happened to him. He wants to destroy the rest of the town, the Shinra, the world, even his daughter, Marlene, who Barret took care of for the past few years. He is going to start with the gang.

Cloud was ready to engage, but Barret asked him to hold back. He was the one who needs to handle this and so he did, without much issue. Before the Dyne realized he was in the wrong and then threw himself off a cliff, for the second time.

With the “boss” out of the way, Cloud was “approved” as a jockey and it was just a matter of time before he won his first race. Even better the owner of the Golden Saucer, Dio, realized the gang was wrongfully accused and pardoned all of them. As an apology, he additionally awarded them a buggy, which will allow them to traverse rivers and deserts. He also gave them the crucial information they have been looking for – Sephiroth is on his way to Gongaga.

The fortress the gang stayed at had a roost of condors on its roof. It’s a rare, majestic bird and it chose a dangerous place to nest, what with a Shinra mako reactor being housed at the fortress as well. The Shinra Company isn’t too pleased with a bunch of birds damaging their precious reactor, so they attempted to forcibly remove them on several occasions.

They tried, but they failed, thanks to some acts of bravery committed by the locals. The cant last long, though. They need manpower and funds to hire defenders. This is where our gang comes in. Every opportunity to set the Shinra back a bit is a welcome one. The issue is, Clouds funds were low, so he didn’t have the 7000 Gil required in total to fund a battle. He donated as much as he could, which was 4000, but it wasn’t enough.

Final Fantasy VII - Junon on the World Map

For some reason, Junon invokes a special feeling with me. It’s one of my favorite towns, but I have no idea why.

Sephiroth was sure to cross the ocean from this town, though, so the gang needed access to the upper districts. The issue was, the only obvious route was the elevator, but it was guarded. With no idea what to do, Cloud decided to go for a walk on the beach. This is where the gang met a little girl playing with her pet dolphin. She taught the gang was with Shinra, so she tried to shoo them away, but luckily, Cloud lingered long enough to notice a monster attacking from the sea. They managed to beat it, but Priscila, the little girl, wound up in the water and nearly drowned. Luckily, Cloud knew CPR, so he saved her.Since there was nothing they could do, the gang decided to move on to Junon. Junon is a port town which used to prosper, before the Shinra came. They built a city on top of Junon, blocking the sun and stopping the influx of tourism. Suffice to say, the locals share their feelings towards Shinra with the Avalanche.

As a token of gratitude, Priscila gave Cloud a Shiva materia and helped him get access to the upper districts with the help of her dolphin. Cloud infiltrated the district by disguizing as a Shinra guard and soon got access to the ship Rufus took to cross the ocean. The rest of the gang had their own methods to get there, so they were all on the boat.

The casual boat ride soon took a turn for the worse. It started with a general alert about intrudes on the boat. Cloud’s and Barret’s first thought was that one of the gang was found. They all met up and then realized the intruder was someone else. They went to the lower deck just in time to see Sephiroth killing one of the guards. The peculiar thing was, he didn’t seem to remember cloud. He flew through him and disappeared, leaving a peace of her mother behind.

If this is what the Cetra were, then most would probably be glad they don’t exist anymore. This single piece of the creatures arm was alive and grew into a dangerous monster. The gang managed to beat it, somehow and the voyage could continue. The rest of the trip was uneventful and pretty soon, the gang boarded off the ship at Costa del Sol.

Final Fantasy VII - Mt. Corel Rail Bridge

The Mt. Corel reactor is of an older design, apparently.

Barret was not welcome here. Cloud isn’t familiar with the whole story yet, but basically, the town blames Barret for their current state and Barret seems to accept the blame. The story will have to wait.Costa del Sol was a pretty little tourist town, but the Cloud couldn’t relax there while Sephiroth was on the loose. They went north, towards Mt. Corel, an abandoned Shinra reactor facility. The trip was mostly uneventful, so eventually, they reached North Corel, a ruined town located at the bottom of the cableway leading to the Golden Saucer casino and entertainment complex.

Last time, our gang just fled Midgar and decided to make their way to Kalm, to regroup and review the situation. Well, Cloud and the girls arrived at Kalm and met up with Barret and Red XII. Since Sephiroth seems to be the focus and Cloud has a personal history with the guy, he decided to describe what he knows.

A few years back, when Cloud was still a member of Shinra’s SOLDIER program, Sephiroth was his partner on a mission to Nibelheim, Cloud and Tifa’s hometown. The mako reactor there, one of the early models, malfunctioned and started causing monster appearances. Apparently, mako energy can corrupt wildlife, causing horrible mutations. Cloud and Sephiroth were the two SOLDIER members ordered to escort and protect the repair crew and help with the repairs. Tifa was hired as their guide, being familiar with the area and all.

At the reactor, they’ve found a bunch of pods containing horrible creatures. Sephiroth realized they are experiments made by Hojo and used to be human. This made him worry his history might be similar, since he definitely was experimented upon with mako and wasn’t made SOLDIER in the same way the other members were. Upon their return to Nibelheim, he locked himself in the library of a building where Shinra scientists used to work, trying to figure out what he is and where he comes from.

His eventual conclusion was that he was produced by Shinra, cloned from the remains of a Cetra, discovered and exhumed somewhere in the northern continent. Apparently, the Cetra were the previous intelligent beings living on the planet. They went extinct for some reason, long ago and were succeeded by humans soon after. In Sephiroths unbalanced mind, this makes him the last of the Cetra and every human on the planet a traitor to his kind. Of course, back then, he had no knowledge of the existence of Aeris and her mother.

Final Fantasy VII - Nibelheim in Flames

The legendary Nibelheim scene cemented Sephiroth as my favorite villain.

In his rage, he destroyed Nifelheim, killing most of its populace and severely injuring Tifa and Cloud. He went back to the reactor, tore out the remains of the Cetra he was cloned from, called Jenova and was gone, never to be seen since. A few years later, he arrived at the Shinra building while Cloud and the others were imprisoned and killed everyone there, including the president. It seems he was there to take the rest of his “mother” with him. This is all that Cloud and Tifa know, apparently.

With the story out of the way, it was time to make a plan. The gang needs to get to Junon, to see what Shinra is up to and to try and hitch a boat ride to the central continent. In order to do this, they need to traverse the marshlands to the south, which are guarded by the Midgar Zolom. The Midgar Zolom is a huge serpent who attacks anything that ever enters the marshlands.

Because of this, it is recommended to only enter the marshlands on the back of a chocobo, since this riding bird is fast enough to avoid the serpent. For this reason, the gang visited a local chocobo ranch, to try and rent one of the birds. Sadly, none were available, but the rancher gave Cloud advice on how to catch one. A special materia and a large amount of bait would be needed. Since the materia alone would take the party back 2000 gil, Cloud decided to take another approach. He waited for the serpent to be as far away from them as possible and then went for the shortest route through the marshlands he could find. Luckily, this was enough to avoid the serpent and the party managed to reach solid ground before anything bad happened.

With the marshlands behind them, a series of caves also needed to be traversed in order to get to the Junon region. The caves were short enough, but not uneventful. The party encountered a group of Turks also on Sephiroths trail. They were very clear that they did not want Cloud and the gang to get in the way and would do what it takes to make it that way. Luckily, other than a few harsh words, nothing else happened and soon enough, the party was in the Junon region. Before heading to Junon, though, they decided to take a break at a local fort.

After a bunch of puzzles I enjoyed actually solving with my brain, instead of with pure luck as I did when I played this game as a kid, Cloud and the gang managed to get to floor 65 of the Shinra headquarters. This is where they met the creepy professor Hojo. He was performing experiments involving Aeris and a strange four legged animal. Cloud decided to put a stop to this and engaged. The animal escaped, but instead of attacking the gang, it went for Hojo. Aeris fell back to safety, but it wasn’t over yet. A specimen escaped its holding cell and Cloud, Barret and the animal had to fight it.

The animal wasn’t really an animal, though. It could talk and it did so fairly intelligently to. The gang asked him for his name, but he said he doesn’t really care about names. Hojo designated him Red XIII, so that’s what we will call him from now on.

With Aeris free and safe, it was time to escape the building. The mistake was, the gang went directly for the elevators and promptly got ambushed by Shinra personnel. They were put in holding cells and, after reflection, decided to get some rest before attempting to escape.

Cloud woke up in the middle of the night with the door to his cell open and a trail of blood leading through the corridor to a dead guard. He took the guards key and opened the rest of the cells. The gang followed the blood trail all the way up to the top floor, where they found president Shinra dead in his office chair, with a huge katana in his back.

Final Fantasy VII - First Encounter With Rufus

Rufus is far too smug for my liking.

When I played this game as a kid, I was stuck at this part for weeks. As I said, I owned the German version. I barely spoke the language, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t understand how materia works, had no idea that I was able to unequip everyone before the following two battles and was low on any sort of supplies, what with not buying anything throughout the game. Let’s just say the following part was tough and leave it at that.It was Sephiroth. Sephiroth killed everyone. Before they could even talk about it, a helicopter landed on the roof of the building. The gang went up and met up with Rufus, president Shinra’s son, the former vice-president of the company and the new president. He was not willing to let them get away, so Cloud decided to hold him back while the rest of the gang escapes. Tifa couldn’t leave him, though, so she remained on the floor below as support, while Aeris, Red XII and Barret took the elevator.

Barret, Red and Aeris got ambushed by a war machine during the elevator ride. Since the machine attacked from a distance, from the other elevator, only Barret could reach it with his arm gun. Luckily, I was prepared so both Red XII and Aeries were equipped with a Bolt materia, which is the element most machines are weak to. The enemy and his backup were dealt with soon enough.

In the meantime, Cloud was battling Rufus. Rufus had a dog like beast throwing physical protection spells on both of them, so Cloud hat to use Fire magic to damage him. The beast was dealt with soon enough and after a few more casts, Rufus gave up as well and escaped with his helicopter. Cloud met up with Tifa and they continued to the lobby. Barret and the rest of the gang were waiting there, with the building surrounded. As a last desperate move, the gang took a truck from a back room exhibit, while Cloud opted for the motorcycle. They crashed through the front of the building and soon a chase on a newly built highway was in progress.

Cloud did all he could to keep the Shinra away from the truck, but eventually, they reached a dead end and had to fight one final battle against another war machine. This one was dealt with easily and they were finally free. They climbed down the unfinished road and reached the edge of Midgar. Barret decided they should split up and regroup in Kalm, a town relatively nearby.