Though they were not ready for the final showdown, after several days of training and preparation, the team decided to go ahead and scout the area of the northern cave, in order to be better prepared for the final push. The area was filled with dangerous enemies, but with some difficulty, they managed to push forward, all the way to a fork in the path.

At this place, Cloud decided to take a smaller group in one direction, while the rest of the team went in the other. It was an uneasy separation, as everyone feared they would not see each other again. Luckily, there was no reason to fear. The two paths met up again soon enough and the group was back together.

Final Fantasy VII, Northern Crater Cave, Top View

The crater is deep, very deep.

The path closed behind them and there was no other way to go, but forward. A brief moment of desperation and fear hit them, as they were realizing the battle would be now, not later. Having no choice, though, they summoned up all the courage they had and continued forward.After an extremely long way down, the group finally reached the core, where their final foe was waiting. The area was fully explored and mapped, so there would be nothing to surprise them when they are finally ready. Little did they know, they were forced to be ready now.

I’m trying my hardest to describe what happened “in role”, but I’m not sure I’m doing it well. To put it more directly, I completed the game by pure accident. I wanted to enter the cave and get to the point of no return, so I could create a save point there and train, since the area gave good experience and AP. What happened was that I triggered the “do you wish to continue” part and accidentally answered yes without creating the save point first, or saving the game.

Since it took me quite a while to get there, I decided “to hell with it” and went for the kill. Luckily, I did some training over the last two days, so my party wasn’t that weak. I just wasn’t ready to go yet and wanted to get all the side quests first. Apparently, I did good anyway.

The core was surrounded by floating debris, forcing them to jump from platform to platform, fighting dangerous monsters nearly every step of the way. Finally, they reached the core, where Sephiroth was waiting. The first to attack was another form of Jenova – Rebirth. This one was relatively simple to dispose of, mostly in thanks to some of the new skills the party learned by observing various creatures of the world.

With Jenova finally dead, it was time to deal with Sephiroth. His first form was a twisted mass of mutated parts, barely reminding of the original in appearance. The various parts of it acted separately, healing and reinforcing each other constantly, making for a very difficult battle. Eventually, Cloud managed to recognize the critical parts and focused the group’s attacks to those spots, finally destroying the creature. It wasn’t over, though.

Sephiroth transformed into his second form, a twisted parody of an angel. This one acted as one, but it was stronger than all the parts of the previous form combined. Most of its attacks were manageable, but before the end, it used something that nearly killed every single member of the group. Luckily, Cloud was ready to react, using a megaelixir to completely negate the damage done and refresh the group for the final push. A few moments later, Sephiroth was down.

Final Fantasy VII, Safer (Seraph) Sephiroth

Sephiroth’s most dangerous form.

It was just Sephiroth. No twisted form, nothing special, just flesh and blood. Cloud was done. His determination was absolute. He started swinging, cutting, without pause, but with complete control and his sight constantly on target. When he was done, it was finally over. Sephiroth gasped lone last time and then fell.The group did all they could. It was now up to the planet and Holy. They started climbing back to the surface, with Cloud being the last one. He paused for a second and listened. It wasn’t over. He could still hear him, screaming, mocking them, and refusing to die. Something pulled him down, towards the lifestream, towards the center of the planet. There, in the darkness, Sephiroth was waiting.

Tifa was calling for him, with everything collapsing around them and for a moment, it seemed too late. She fell down towards him, he snapped out of his trance, grabbed her and used his other arm to grab the edge of a cliff. They climbed up and rejoined the group.

The party was hurrying upwards with the cave-in in full effect. Something crashed above them and the Highwind came rushing down. Luckily, the backup plane stored on the airship managed to deploy in time to provide an escape route for the group.

In the meantime, Meteor was rapidly approaching. Holy activated, but it seemed it wasn’t in time. Then, the planet itself provided help, using the lifestream to reinforce Holy and destroy Meteor. It was over.

Bugenhagen most definitely had advice. Before anything was done, Cloud stored the huge materia in his planetarium. Then Bugenhagen decided the most prudent course of action would be to take him to the ruined city of the Cetra, to the north.

Once there, they entered the chamber containing a large central pillar with a device on top of it. Bugenhagen managed to decipher a crucial piece of the writing there. To contain and defend against Meteor, Holy is needed. Holy is the ultimate white materia, the exact opposite of the black materia. At the time of need, Holy is activated and sent to the crucial location to focus the lifestream and repel Meteor.

Cloud realized, that small piece of materia that Aeries carried on her hair, the one that she claimed didn’t do anything but was an heirloom to her; that was Holy. It needs to be activated, though, just like Meteor was, and there are no living Cetra now to do it. Sephiroth made sure of that.

The central device suddenly activated and displayed the events around Aeris’ death. As she fell, the white materia detached and dropped in the water. Before it sunk, though, it began to glow. This is what Aeris was doing at the ancient city. This is why she was praying. Her prayer managed to activate the materia. Sephiroth tried to stop her, but he was too late. She bought them a window; a chance.

Holy is active, but it isn’t moving towards the crater as it should. There’s something blocking it. That something is Sephiroth and it was time to destroy him. The group left the city and returned back to the airship. During all this, Cloud got a call from Cait Sith. Since the Junon reactor was inactive now, Rufus decided to move the Mako cannon, Sister Ray, to Midgar to make use of it. The consequences of this were immediately apparent.

Another Weapon emerged from the sea northwest of Midgar and started moving towards it while preparing to attack. The group didn’t care for Shinra, but Midgar had innocent people in it so they decided to attack, at least to hold it off until the cannon is ready. The fight was difficult, but successful and the cannon fired in time. All of Midgars reactors gave it enough power to pierce through the Weapon and continue on towards the barrier at the northern crater, destroying it. As the monster was falling, it managed to fire off a salvo of projectiles, though, one of them hitting Rufus’ office floor at the Shinra building. This was the last time he was seen.

Final Fantasy VII, Diamond Weapon

I remember the Diamond Weapon fight as much more difficult.

In any case, the way to Sephiroth was open now. They couldn’t get to him yet, though. Hojo made sure of that. Cait Stih, or as it turns out, Reeve of the Turks informed Cloud of what was going on. With Rufus gone, Hojo took control of the cannon and decided to “send Sephiroth all the Mako he needs”. Since Mako is basically lifestream, a shot from the cannon would make Sephiroth invincible so this had to be stopped.

The party dropped from the airship via parachutes towards the cannon. They landed not too far from it and fought their way to the top, defeating a new weapon controlled by Heidegger and Scarlet on the way. As expected, Hojo was there, preparing the cannon to fire. As a last desperate act to defeat Cloud and the group, he infused himself with Jenova cells, changing his form several times during the fight. In the end, he fell and it was time to defeat Sephiroth.

It was time, but the group wasn’t ready. They need to get stringer first. They need to train, find equipment and materia. They need to prepare.

This concludes the first two disks of the game and all of the main story line before the final confrontation at the northern crater. At this point, the game provides the player with an airship and complete freedom on where to go. There are several side quests to complete, items to collect and places to train at, so this is what I’ll be doing for a while. For this reason, my next several articles will not be written in the style of a story, since there will be no story. Next up, I think I’ll go and collect the ultimate weapons for the entire group, or at least for those that don’t have them yet.

After a short, but inspirational group speech, Cloud retook command of the party and the airship. With two huge materias in their possession, there were still two left and the next one was in Junon, at the underwater reactor. Getting to it was simple enough, with everyone being distracted by the operations.

Once there, however, the party was slowed down by Reno of the Turks. He ordered a machine to attack the group while he used a submarine to escape with the materia. The enemy wasn’t to difficult to dispatch, but one wrong move would have been the end of it.

Final Fantasy VII, Submarine Bay

A sub of our own!

The last materia already took off for Rocket Town on another Gelnika plain from the Junon airport, so that’s where Cloud took the airship. This was Cid’s area of expertise, so he, Barret and Cloud infiltrated the rocket, fighting through several groups of Shinra guards. It was to late too stop the ship, though, so it took off with them inside and started a course towards the meteor. For a moment, they thought about letting it crash the meteor with the materias inside, because it just might work, but then they decided against it. The amount of knowledge lost through the destruction of the materias would not be worth it.…and it was the end of it, twice. The robot you fight at the submarine is easy enough on itself, but my group was starting to get underleveled a bit and I expected to just breeze through it, so I wasn’t careful. He killed me twice before I managed to beat him.

Cloud took command of another submarine in order to catch the first one. Finding it wasn’t toó difficult and it was dispatched of easily. The party now had the third Huge materia as well as their very own submarine. They used it to explore the central ocean floor, soon finding a key and a sunken Shinra plane of the Gelnika class. Reno and Rude were already there, investigating what happened to it, so there was another physical confrontation that was dealt with quickly enough.

They released the final materia from its lock, and then left the rocket ship in an escape pod before it was destroyed. The crash did almost nothing to the meteor.

The group had all four Huge materias now, but no idea on what to do with them. Still, they had to do something and they will do something. Then Red XIII had an idea.

Maybe his grandfather would have some advice.

The group found Tifa and Cloud in the same state as when they left them. Cloud was showing no progress and things remained hopeless. They stayed for a bit, but their meeting was soon interrupted.

A Weapon attacked Mideel. Barret, Cid and Yuffie ran outside to engage it, while Tifa remained with Cloud, to keep him safe. The creature was extremely powerful, but somehow, even with Barret and Yuffie knocked out in the end, the group managed to make it retreat.

The damage was already done, however. The crust began to break apart and soon, the town was sinking into the lifestream. Tifa took Cloud on his wheelchair and tried to escape, but they failed and were gone again.

Final Fantasy VII, Lifestream

As I said, I can’t quite figure out the lifestream.

The events of Nibelheim five years ago have happened. The reactor broke down, so a Shinra team arrived with a pair of SOLDIER members protecting them. One of them was Sephiroth, but the other was not Cloud. Tifa waited for Cloud, hoping he would show up, but he never did. The other SOLDIER was a black haired man.She woke up in a world of Cloud’s own creation. He was confused, not sure what is real and what isn’t, so the world around him reflected this. Tifa decided to help him any way she can, but she was done with hiding things to protect him. He needs to face the truth.

So Cloud wasn’t there, but he definitely is real. Otherwise, how would Tifa remember their time on that starry night when they were kids, when Cloud promised to join SOLDIER and come back strong. If he isn’t real, the neither of them would have that memory.

On the other hand, Cloud doesn’t remember being that Close to Tifa. Tifa acts like they were always best friends, but this was not true. Cloud was the outsider in Nibelheim. The rest of the kids, including the group Tifa was friends with never liked him. It was only after the starry night that they grew closer for some reason.

One thing was definitely certain. Cloud was not the SOLDIER who entered Nibelheim with Sephiroth that day, and yet he remembers those events as if he was, and he is personally involved in it. Suddenly, it became clear. He was there, he just wasn’t the SOLDIER. The memories came rushing in.

The SOLDIER was Zack, the same person who went missing from Gongaga and the boyfriend Aeris mentioned. Cloud was also there, but not as a SOLDIER. He was never accepted into the ranks. The furthest he ever got was a low ranking Shinra guard. He was there, and he spoke with Sephiroth, even met Tifa, but he never spoke and never took off his mask. He was too embarrassed to do so.

When Sephiroth attacked Tifa and nearly killed Zack, Cloud came rushing after him, only to get stabbed with his Masamune. With all the strength he could muster, he used the sword piercing his body as leverage and threw it together with Sephiroth into the abyss bellow the reactor.

Final Fantasy VII, Mideel in Ruins

Even in ruins, Mideel looks nice.

Cloud was fine now, so he can and will stop him. He and Tifa woke up at the ruins of Mideel, with the rest of the group there with them. They were all together again. All but Aeris…Sephiroth died that day. His body entered the lifestream and rode it all the way to the northern crater. His willpower wasn’t completely absorbed into the stream, though. He retained control and use it to influence the current events. He started the reunion, made Cloud follow his apparition and gained access to the black materia. That’s how powerful he is. That’s why he needs to be stopped.

With Cloud at least found, if not found being well, it was time to take action against Shinra, Sephiroth and the meteor.

Last they heard, Shinra was going to gather a type of materia from their reactors around the world and then use the decommissioned rocket ship to collide it with the meteor, hoping it would destroy it. The group, with Cid now in charge, intends to intercept this and do it slightly differently. The plan actually might work, but the Planet cannot put their trust in Shinra, because they are sure to have hidden intentions even if it works. No, the group needs to get this “Huge” materia themselves. The next two reactors the materia is to be collected from are the one in Corel and the one at Fort Condor. For Barret, this was personal, so Corel was the group’s first destination.

They arrived at the reactor in the mountains just in time for a train carrying the materia to leave the facility. With no time to lose, the group took the other train to catch up. Since it wasn’t loaded with anything, they were at the first train in no time and jumped on it immediately. They fought from car to car until reaching the engine. With the crew disposed of, the materia was now safe, but the train wasn’t stopping, risking a crash and the destruction of North Corel.

Final Fantasy VII, Cid and the Train Chase

OK Cid, time to shine!

With Corel safe, it was time to go to Fort Condor. The group arrived just in time for another attack by Shinra troops. Luckily, the funds of the group were enough to hire mercenaries and the attack was fought off with very little losses. It took all of the funds the group had, but it was well worth it.In the last moment, Cid managed to somehow stop the train and North Corel was safe. The villagers welcomed their saviors and finally forgave Barret for his involvement in the past destruction of the old Corel. A child gave them the Ultima materia and one of the people in the upper part of the village gave Barret Catastrophe – the manual for his final limit break.

Just as the attack was over, the condor egg at the top of the fort finally cracked open and a chick hatched. As is the way of the species, the parent died in the process, but now the circle could continue. The chick flew off and left behind a Phoenix materia. With the fort safe, the leader gave Cid their “Huge” materia and the group could move on.

The next reactor to be hit was the underwater reactor of Junon, but before that, the group had to go and check up on Cloud and Tifa.

The group was at a loss on where to find their friend. He fell into the lifestream, so he could be anywhere, if he’s even still alive. Red XIII mentions that there are areas in the world where the lifestream can come to the surface, where the crust is thinner or some other factor is playing into it. The party hasn’t heard of such an area though, nothing other than the northern crater, where they cannot go now, because Sephiroth put up a barrier around it. Besides, if Cloud is there, he might as well be lost.

There was one place, though; a place known for its hot springs and relaxing effect on visitors. There is a town on the tiny southeastern continent called Mideel, known as a tourist location. With the hot springs and other qualities, it just might be possible that one can get out of the lifestream there.

Final Fantasy VII, Mideel

Mideel – the perfect place to unwind, provided the world isn’t ending.

A couple of older people were talking about a young man at the local hospital. No one knows where he came from and he can’t remember anything, so no one knows what to do with him. Tifa rushed into the hospital and talked to the doctor. The man she heard about was in the next room. It was Cloud!The group lands next to the city and enters, with Tifa starting her search immediately. The town was small. It had a couple of shops, a restaurant and a few other houses, but nothing much. With nothing found, Tifa stopped for a second to think and petted a local dog. Then she overheard the most important conversation of her life.

It was what was left of Cloud. The person sitting in the wheelchair couldn’t even produce a word or keep their head straight. In one moment, the hopes she had of reuniting with him were gone. Still not willing to give up, she decided to remain and take care of him while the rest of the group keeps fighting.

Tifa woke up with Barret next to her, seven days after the events at the crater. They were at the Junon military base, where Rufus took them. Rufus was out fighting off weapon attacks and doing pretty much all he could to find a way to save the Planet from Meteor. Yes, the Meteor. Sephiroth summoned it and it’s already well on its way to crash into the Planet. Things seem lost. Cloud is missing and most of the others are to. Only Barret and Tifa are at the facility.

Moments after Tifa wakes up, Scarlet arrives to show Shinra’s true face again, just as Barret was starting to change his opinion about them. The people are worried and in fear, so Rufus intends to blame what happened on Barret and Tifa. A public execution would give the people a focus to direct their hate on and calm things down for a bit. The two are taken to the execution room, where the press and officials were already waiting.

Tifa gets sent into the gas chamber and the gas is released, but just at that moment, one of the Weapons attacks Junon. Everyone other than a single reporter, Scarlet and Barret leave the conference room and Rufus orders to fire the huge Sister Ray cannon. Using a moment of carelessness, the reporter uses sleeping gas on Scarlet and she faints. It was Cait Sith!

Final Fantasy VII, Sister Ray

The Sister Ray

Barret tries to open the door to the gas chamber, but there’s no use. Desperately trying to find another way in, he goes back to the hallway, but then the door to the conference room locks as well. With nothing to be done, the duo hopes that Tifa will figure something herself and goes for the air field.

In the chamber, Tifa gets lucky. The guard who led her in there dropped his key on his way out. Tifa uses her feet to grab the key, catches it with her mouth and then manages to unlock her cuffs. The gas was easily disabled, but she’s still locked in there. With another stroke of luck, a Weapon attack pierces the outer wall of the gas chamber, so Tifa climbs out and starts going in the direction of the cannon.

She climbs on top of it with Shinra guard following her. There is no other way to go, so she keeps climbing further and further, eventually reaching the barrel of the cannon. In the meantime, Barret and Cait Sith meet up with Yuffie and continue to the air strip, where the airship Highwind was located. Scarlet and a couple of guards corner Tifa at the edge of the Sister Ray cannon. Tifa hears a voice in here haid “Run for the edge and jump!” She decides to listen just as Barret and the rest rise up to it with Highwind. Barret throws her a rope and she catches it. They are free!

It’s now time to find Cloud.

The group followed Sephiroth further north, thirsting for revenge. The road led them through a cave with the exit on the northern side of the central mountain rage. Further north, they arrived at the town of Icicle Inn. Sephiroth passed through, only to move on to the crater further north, so the party had to do the same. The road is impassable by foot, though, so they had to find another way.

Investigation discovered an empty house which used to be inhabited by a professor Gast and a woman named Ifalna. Watching some of the video records revealed that Ifalna was the real mother of Aeris, naturally also a Cetra. Gast was recording any information she could provide, so Cloud and the group learned much from the records.

Final Fantasy VII, Icicle Inn

The definition of “quaint”.

Apparently, there was something that fell from the sky 2000 years ago. The fall severely wounded the planet so it tried to heal itself. The Cetra also tried to help, but it wasn’t working. Even worse, the object that fell brought something living with it. At first, the creature acted friendly and infiltrated a local Cetra tribe. Eventually, though, it destroyed the tribe from the inside like a virus.

Over time, it managed to infiltrate and destroy most of the other Cetra clans and nearly destroyed the entire race. In the end, the planet managed to contain it, but the surviving Cetra weren’t enough for them to remain the dominant species, so they were slowly replaced by modern humans. The contained creature, or virus, or a collection of cells or whatever it was never destroyed, though. It was just contained at the place of impact, with the planet watching. Several decades ago, the creature was found and retrieved by Gast and Hojo, who mistakenly thought it was a Cetra and named it Jenova.

Further investigation of Icicle Inn found a possible route through the crater via a glacier. Some sort of transportation was needed to descend via that route, however. Before the party could act, Shinra arrived at the town, led by Elena, and blocked all the exits. Luckily, Cloud managed to get a snowboard from a kid nearby, as well as a map of the glacier, so they were able to descend that way.

The area of the glacier was a maze of snow, very difficult to navigate, but not impossible. Eventually, the party reached a cabin at the base of the crater cliff. A man was living there for the past 20 years. He and his late friend attempted to ascend the cliff at one point but failed. He gave the group advice on how to survive and sent them on their way.

The climb was exhausting and difficult, both physically as well as mentally. At one point, the group actually had to induce a cave in in order to create a path to move on. At the top of the cliff, a two-headed dragon attacked the group to top it off. Thanks to some equipment they managed to find along the way, however, the dragon was defeated, though it was an extremely close call, with only Tifa staying conscious at the end.

In any case, the group was at the top of the crater and it was time to move in. They navigated the windy mazes towards the center and finally reached the center, only to be attacked by another form of Jenova. Jenova Death was much easier than Jenova life, fortunately, so the battle didn’t take too much of their strength.

Final Fantasy VII, Northern Crater Lifestream

I’m still not completely understanding how the lifestream works. It’s basically like radiation, but also not?

All along the way, the path was riddled with bodies of the tattooed people cloaked in black. Sephiroth was killing them one by one on his way to the center, and yet, they continued to follow. Finally, then the party was just about to reach Sephiroth, everything turned black and they were in Nibelheim.

For some reason, Sephiroth wanted cloud to revisit these memories. Something was wrong, however. The soldier visiting the town that day with Sephiroth looked sort of like Cloud, but his face was different and his hair was dark. Why would Sephiroth try to confuse Cloud this way? If there was one thing Cloud was sure of, it was those events from five years ago.

Finally, Sephiroth spoke. The soldier there was someone else. Cloud was born in Nibelheim that day, created by Hojo, his memories assembled from various other people. There might have been a boy named Cloud growing up with Tifa in that town, but it wasn’t the person here today. The person believing to be Cloud was just a failed creation, nothing else.

But why does Tifa remember him then? Because he was infused with Jenova cells. When he met Tifa in Midgard, the cells accessed some of her memories and then formed a mutual bond, so they both believed the same thing. It wasn’t perfect, though, so parts of it were missing on both sides. This is why Tifa had some trouble with the story Cloud told in Kalm. Parts of it just seemed off. This is also why Cloud doesn’t remember how or why he joined SOLDIER. It never happened.

This was the final drop. Cloud completely lost his mind and then disappeared, along with Sephiroth. Meanwhile, a Shinra chopper landed at the crater, with Rufus, Scarlet, Hojo and Heidegger on board. At the center of the crater was a large crystal encased in twisted roots and surrounded by materia. Inside the crystal was Sephirot’s body.

Hojo finally understood it completely. Sephiroth was dead for the last five years. The apparition in the Shinra bulding, at the temple, at the ruined city, all of it was created by Jenova, or pieces of Jenova, her cells. This is what the reunion is all about. All of the tattooed people are clones Hojo created in his experiments. The tattoos are simply specimen numbers. When Sephiroth died, five years ago, he attempted to create a perfect clone by infusing specimens with Jenova’s cells, but most of them failed. Now all of those cells wish to join together, a reunion of a sort. Since the majority of Jenova’s body was in Midgard, Hojo expected the rest of the scattered cells to make their way there, but instead, they all decided to move to the crater, to Sephiroth. It was obvious he was somehow controlling them.

He was controlling all of them, including Cloud. All of this time, the group thought they were chasing Sephiroth, but in reality, he was summoning them there.

Suddenly, Cloud appeared in the middle of the group. He took the black materia he gave to Red XIII previously and then was gone again, with Tifa and Barret remaining there. In the very next moment, he was next to Sephiroth’s body, and in the moment after that, Sephiroth, the real Sephiroth, finally had the materia he wanted.

Beneath the crater, the earth started cracking and a creature started to emerge. It was a Weapon; something Ifalna spoke of in one of the records. Weapons are extremely powerful creatures which the planet creates for protection. Once created, they can never be unmade. They just go to sleep until the planet needs them again.

Before the creature destroyed all of them, Rufus called for his helicopter and everyone evacuated, just in time. Cloud, however, was gone.

Cloud woke up in Gongaga a week after the events at the temple, with Barret and Tifa at his side and Aeris gone in search of the Promised Land. She was hopping she might get there before Sephiroth and stop him. Sephiroth mentioned he was going northwest, to the northern continent, so that’s where the group needed to go to.

They boarded the Tiny Bronco and soon landed on the shore near Bone Village. The only way to get further north was through the Sleeping Forest, and for that, they needed the Lunar Harp, buried somewhere in the village. Luckily, the villagers were more than helpful with finding it, so the group was on their way through the forest in no time.

Past the forest was a canyon full of petrified trees and a ruined city in the middle of it. The city was obviously built by the Cetra and the architecture was amazing, but there was no one to be found. Exhausted from the search, the party decided to take a break in one of the houses.

Final Fantasy VII, City of the Ancients

Back in the day, I found the Ancient City fascinating, but these days, all I can think of is what’s coming.

He lost control and reached for his sword. Every part of his body was fighting it, but his limbs seemed to have a will of their own. He pulled out his sword and raised it above his head. It took all the strength he had left, but somehow, he managed to fight it off and take a step back. Aeris raised her head and smiled. Suddenly, Sephiroth dropped from above, with his Masamune trusting forward.Cloud woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible feeling. He was sure Aeris was somewhere near and he sensed Sephiroth as well. The group continued to search the city and soon found a hidden passage leading under a lake. Aeris was at the bottom, praying. Cloud decided to approach her alone. He leapt from pillar to pillar without her noticing his approach. When he finally reached her platform, it happened again.

This probably sounds clichè, but I really was extremely sad when this happened on my first playthrough. The death of Aeris was an extremely well made and an extremely sad scene. Back then, I actually barely managed to get through the Jenova fight afterwards. The fact that the fight starts with a powerful attack by Jenova further increases the despair and makes you feel even worse. I remember saving my game there and then just not playing for a couple of days. It was the first game I played where a character was lost and the first game I played where I cared enough about the character to be sad about it. To this day, when I hear the song, I get sad.

The smile was gone and in a split second, it was over. Aeris was gone. Cloud was in agony. He never really showed how much he cares about her and it was to late now. Sephiroth was completely indifferent. In fact, he was surprised with Cloud’s reaction. In his own words, “Why does Cloud pretend to care? He’s a puppet, he can’t have real feelings.”

He was gone and left the group in despair, with Jenova Life attacking them. Somehow, they fought through the agony and managed to defeat the monster. They said their goodbyes and Cloud let Aeris rest in one of the beautiful lakes in the abandoned town. It was a peaceful resting place.

Sephiroth will pay.

As expected, Shinra got to the Temple of the Ancients before Cloud and the rest of the group. Unfortunately for them, Sephiroth also managed to get there. The Shinra group was attacked and destroyed, for the most part. Tseng of the Turks was lying wounded at the entrance. He knows they failed, so he gave the keystone to Cloud.

The temple was a maze, the layout of which was difficulty to even comprehend, let alone navigate. It wasn’t empty, though. Aside from the usual menagerie of monsters, several guardians lived there, left by the Cetra to protect the temple from intrusion. They weren’t able to communicate verbally, but Aeris could still understand them. They were scared, very much so. Sephiroth needed to be found and dealt with, fast.

Final Fantasy VII, Temple of the Ancients

I’d consider the Temple of the Ancients a fun place if I didn’t know what was coming.

The black materia is extremely powerful. It can be used to summon Meteor, the most powerful destruction magic imaginable. Luckily, the Cetra used a trick. The temple itself is the materia. Whoever wants it, needs to solve a puzzle which shrinks the temple to a manageable size. However, the puzzle is located within the temple, so whoever solves it gets destroyed. At first, some of the people in the group suggested to just leave the materia, since no one can get it. However, Cloud saw it differently. Sephiroth has plenty of lackeys – all those tattooed people in black who have been following him. He could easily sacrifice any or all of them to get what he wants. No, the party needs to somehow get the materia and keep it safe from Sephiroth. Someone had to step in.Pretty soon, the group found their way to a room with a huge mural along the wall. This is where they met Sephiroth and this is where he revealed another part of his plan. He wants to become one with the planet. He intends by trickery. The lifestream serves to protect the planet and everything on it. If the planet ever gets damaged or “wounded”, a large portion of the energy is used and focused on that place to heal it. Sephiroth intends to intercept that energy and absorb it. First, he needs a fresh wound and for that, he needs the black materia from the temple.

Cloud got a call on his PHS. It was Cait Sith. It’s simple, really. His body isn’t real. He has backup bodies stored at Shinra. Who else would be more suitable as a sacrifice? Cloud accepted and the trio went out to meet up with the fortune teller. However, there was a trap. The door leading through the exit was guarded by a demonic creature in the form of an entire wall.

This was the first battle in this play through in which I failed, twice. The first issue was, Aeris was underleveled and the Demon Wall hits extremely hard. It could kill Aeris in one hit and any of the other two in one more. Cloud basically had to devote his every turn to heal, while Barret was the only one doing the damage, what with Aeris being dead throughout the battle. 

Final Fantasy VII, Demon Wall

Giger’s designs must have inspired this boss.

Secondly, there’s this gimmick in the game where, if you get exactly 7777 current HP, your character goes berserk and starts repeatedly hitting the enemies for 7777 damage until they are all dead. Apparently, this works the other way around to. On my first attempt, a hit from Cloud’s limit break got the boss to that exact amount of health and suddenly, all of his attacks were hitting for 3 times the health Barret had. Suffice to say, that attempt didn’t last long. 

On my final attempt, I finally got smart. I’ve combined Barrier with All on Aeris and cast it on my entire group at the start of the battle. With that, the fight became extremely easy and the boss was dealt with.

When the enemy was defeated, Cait Sith entered and the rest of the party left the temple. He solved the puzzle and then he was gone. He wasn’t absent for long, though, as his replacement body was already being flown over from Shinra headquarters. In Cloud’s eyes, this redeemed the robot and whoever was controlling him, at least by a bit.

The materia was at the crater left by the temple. Cloud and Aeris leapt in and Cloud picked it up. Suddenly, he lost control of himself. First, he tried to hurt Aeris, but managed to stop himself in time. Then Sephiroth appeared and Cloud gave him the materia, against his own will and with the rest of the group unable to stop it. Before they could react, Sephiroth was gone with the materia. Cloud blacked out.