Let's Play: Final Fantasy 7 - Part 2 (Part 1) (Gaming)
With Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Rebirth on the way in February, let's take a look at the section of the original it'll cover. With the Arbiter of Fate defeated, what changes will the remake bring? It’s stated that the game will end at the Forgotten Capital. Whether that means the story events there end the game, or merely some final scene takes place there, we don’t know. It’s where Disc 1 ends, so we end this let’s play before the northern crater.
We last left our crew as they departed Midgar, resolved to stop Sephiroth at any cost. What is Sephiroth up to? Why is the fate of the Planet at stake? Claude will explain once the group reaches the village of Kalm.
Midgar is but a small part of this massive game. The first part had you thinking that would be it - that Midgar would be where the whole game takes place, and that stopping Shinra was the end of the game. But here we are. Midgar is but one location on a World Map, filled with possibilities. This moment was as impactful as the opening cutscene revealing the entire city. This was when you realized the game had so much more in store for you.
Kalm. A little village by the river. In the Remake we know the crew hitches a ride thanks to the ending of Intergrade. No such luck here! We are hoofin’ it on foot. Upon entering, Sammy tells Claude to go to the inn to rest and round everyone up. And indeed Korny and John 117 made it ahead of your trio. Korny chastises you for being late, and then asks Claude to tell his story about Sephiroth…
The story begins five years ago. The game actually lets you PLAY the story as Claude is narrating it. An interactive flashback. This blew my mind the first time I played it, but my mind was blown once again to know how perfect this choice was in retrospect when the game’s narrative concludes (I won’t spoil it till Let’s Play Part 3, but hint: unreliable narrator).
Claude and Sephiroth are in a Shinra truck, being transported to Nibelheim, Claude’s hometown. Claude is antsy, eager to try out the new materia Shinra issued him (Sneak Attack!). Sephiroth is basically like, dude, you complete n00b calm the heck down. Sephiroth briefs Claude. They are to investigate the old Mako reactor nearby, as it has malfunctioned and the Mako spillage is creating mutated creatures. The truck stops; something is in the road. A big ass Dragon!
The interactivity of the flashback includes the battles. While we control Claude, Sephiroth is controlled by AI. He’s out there casting level 3 spells, and doing massive damage while you barely scratch it. This is great storytelling through game mechanics people!
At last, we arrive at Nibelheim. Sephiroth asks about how it feels to be home, just so he can spin his own sob story about how he’s got no home. No parents really. A deadbeat dad and a mom named ‘Jenova’. It’s not always about you dude, come on. Korny interrupts the story to astutely observe that Jenova was the name of the creature Shinra had in their headquarters, that Sephiroth busted out and took. Cleavage tells Korny very politely to shut up, listen, and save his questions till the end of the presentation, thank you very much.
Sephiroth goes to the Inn, and tells Claude he can visit his friends and family, but they leave at dawn tomorrow. You can enter whatever houses you want and mess around till you’re ready to go. Going into Cleavage’s house prompts her to stop you and ask if you really went into her house. You can say just kidding, or keep it going. Let’s keep it going. Entering her room prompts a similar interruption. But let’s press on! Searching her drawers we find “Orthopedic Underwear”. Turns out this is a big translation error. The literal translation was “little bit back stretch underwear”, so I guess the translator did his best to figure out wtf that meant and came up with Orthopedics. But the idiom has to do with kids, who stand in their tippie toes and stretch their back a bit to appear taller. Older. So really, it was underwear a child would wear to appear or feel more like an adult. Cleavage is not amused, and asks you to get back on track.
If you enter your own home, Claude reveals his mother died a few days later, and that his dad was gone. What plays is the full version of the flashback we saw back when Claude was unconscious after falling into the church. Retiring to the Inn, Claude chats with Sephiroth before going to sleep. He explains he hired a local guide to the reactor to make the journey go smoother, but that she was young.
In the AM, they gather and get read to go out. Cleavage joins them as the guide, but Claude protests saying it’s too dangerous. Her outfit can only be described as “cowgirl”, with leather pants and a big cowboy hat. One of the townspeople asks for a picture before they head out, and the three of them pose while it is taken.
The crew hikes up the mountainside, but the rope bridge collapses leaving them having to take the long way. We’ll notify OSHA later. One of the Shinra soldiers is missing, but Sephiroth is like “Just leave him, we must go on”. Pretty cold man. You’re just on a mountain, not Antarctica. Young Claude even gets his own portrait in the status screen. Level 1. And he’s in Soldier?! I’m sensing some holes in this story… but let’s move on.
They stumble upon a natural Mako fountain, and Sephiroth explains how Mako is condensed into Materia. Claude asks some dumb ass questions, to which Sephiroth rightly replies in disbelief. You’re in Soldier and you don’t know this shit?
They make it to the reactor. Only Claude and Sephiroth can go inside. Shinra secrets. No girls allowed. One of the Shinra guards keeps watch over her.
At the top of the stairs, a door with the word JENOVA written over it sits closed. Sephiroth tells Claude to fix the malfunction. While Claude is working Sephiroth checks out the nearby pods. He laments Hojo is a lesser man than professor Gast, the previous head of science for Shinra. Sephiroth tells Claude to look through the pod. Inside, a hideous monster! After a few seconds, Sephiroth starts to get it. Putting two and two together, he wonders if he was not the creation of such experiments. A pod breaks open, revealing one of the monsters. Ok, a boss fight. No? Really? We’re just gonna ignore it? Uh, ok…
Korny is of course not surprised Shinra was out there doing shady shit. Claude continues, saying that Sephiroth locked himself in the Shinra mansion - an old building nearby that used to house Shinra science employees. Claude enters the mansion, and looks around for Sephiroth, finding a hidden passageway to the basement. Spooky!!
Claude finds Sephiroth in a research library. Sephiroth reads from the records how a 2000 year old organism was found buried, named Jenova by Gast, who (falsely) identified it as an Ancient. The records detail the Jenova project, which injected Jenova cells and Mako into Soldiers to attempt to give them powers of the Ancients. Was Sephiroth created this way too? He’s understandably sulky, having found out his whole life was a lie. Claude lets him be. But he was in there for days…
So he comes back. Sephiroth gives him the rundown of the Cetra / Ancients. He’s convinced they are the rightful caretakers of the Planet. Since he was created from Jenova, the planet belongs to him. Ok… cool man. Like, are you sure? Sephiroth fucks off to go see Jenova, his “mother”.
Nibelheim is one fire! Sephiroth! How could you! Here comes the legendary shot of him walking through the flames. Claude follows him to the reactor, but Cleavage is huddled over her father, slain by Sephiroth. She rushes Sephiroth, but what can she really do? Sephiroth slashes her down, and she falls down the stairs worse than John Wick in Part 4. Claude picks her up, and puts her to the side. She’s not in good shape. Remember the water tower 2 years ago? Remember how you said you’d promise to come for her if she were in trouble? You let her down man!
Inside Jenova’s chamber, Sephiroth pulls off the decorative face revealing the actual Jenova. It’s a good thing the cinematics are super compressed, because the details are pretty icky. Claude confronts Sephiroth. They prepare to fight. And… the story ends.
This leaves everyone confused. What happened? Did Claude win? Where’s Sephiroth? What happened to Cleavage? Claude doesn’t remember. Korny correctly states that “Don’t none of this make sense!” And yet, they all know Sephiroth can’t reach the Promised Land. That would be bad for the planet. Claude wants to find out what happened.
Korny gives Claude a PHS, or Personal HandyPhone System. You use it to call people to switch party members. So 90s! The crew learn in town that a man in a black cape passed through. Sephiroth?! And so the manhunt begins.
The next stop is the Chocobo Ranch, a little farm on the edges of a marsh. Only way to go is across the marsh… but in it lives the dreaded Migar Zolom. There (isn’t supposed to be) any way to cross the marsh without encountering the beast, and at this stage in the game it will wreck you silly. Worse than what Elon did to Twitter. Like, it’ll totally destroy you. So… how to get around?
Turns out, Chocobos are pretty fast. If we only had one we could outrun the Zolom! You talk to the owner, and he says to go to the stables to buy one from his grandson, Choco Billy. A family business I see. He advises you not to, and that he even saw a fella in a black cape head that way. Sounds like we are on the right track. Whoops! All the Chocobos are already sold. Only way forward is to catch one. Choco Billy sells you some Chocobo Lure materia and some greens to distract them, at a pretty steep price at this point in the game. So we go out, find a Chocobo, and basically kidnap it.
Now we can ride that bay boy over the marsh and outrun the Zolom. But, it looks like we didn’t need it after all. Someone has already taken care of the beast… Another nice bit of storytelling through game mechanics.
Across the marsh is a cave, leading you into the Mythril Mines. While navigating the caves, the crew runs into some familiar faces. Rude, from the Turks, and Elena, a new Turk filling in while Reno heals from the beating you gave him atop the sector 7 plate. Tseng shows up too, and tells them not to get sidetracked; they have likewise been tasked with going after Sephiroth, who is headed for Junon Harbor. They leave, and basically tell you to stay out of their way and not interfere.
Exiting the caves, we come to Ford Condor. Sadly, this place is exceedingly lame. There’s a Mako reactor, but a big Condor has laid an egg on it. The people want to protect the condor, but Shinra wants the reactor back and the materia in it. They need help on the battlefield. Now, you can totally say no, skip it, and not be out anything really at all. The rewards are super lame, and the mini game is hot garbage. It’s like the worst RTS you can think of, and the Remake's version in the Yuffie DLC is 1000x better. You buy and manage an army to fend off Shinra’s. You issue them commands etc, it’s just lame as fuck. Moving on.
Now, from here on out there are certain forests you can encounter that have a chance at giving a random encounter with a female ninja. Beating her lets you recruit her, but only if you make the right dialogue selections (and don’t use the save point). Choose wrong, and she’ll rob you and run away. Yuffie? Well, she’s small… so Small Arm? You can go the entire game without ever bringing her on your team. The first optional secret character!
We approach Junon. A grand city built around a giant canon, with a poor fishing village down below underneath it. Sounds familiar. The CG here looks super dated, but your imagination fills in the gaps. The people of the town talk about how Rufus is here, and a parade welcoming him as the new president of Shinra is scheduled for tomorrow. The elevator up is blocked by a Shinra goon. Claude’s taken out many of them before… not sure why he can’t just bust his way in but whatever.
The crew find a little girl, Priscilla, playing with her dolphin, Mr. Dolphin, by the water. A giant monster appears, and she runs in the save Mr. Dolphin, face plants, and starts drowning. This can actually be a tricky fight, as one of the attacks puts a water bubble over you draining your health over time. Not only that, but the thing is flying, so if you don’t have a gun / throwing weapon or long range materia, then you can’t hit it with physical attacks. Not to mention it hits pretty hard. 3rd hardest boss on Disc 1.
Anyway, you beat the monster pull the girl out, and have to do mouth to mouth to bring her back to life. Claude is strangely apprehensive about it. The CPR minigame I hope is improved in the Remake. Her dad thanks you, and you’re allowed to stay in a nearby house for the night. Claude’s inner voice wonders about 5 yeas ago… and what actually happened to Cleavage. Why didn’t they see each other before the trek to the reactor? Hmmm…
You wake up, and can hear things gearing up for the parade up above. But you can’t get up there! Korny suggests climbing a nearby support tower, but Priscilla tells him it’s electrified. But! She has a plan. She gives you her whistle, and says Mr Dolphin will jump you up to a safe part of the structure so you can climb. Handy little guy. Claude climbs the rest of the tower, and gets view of Shinra’s airship, not quite yet ready to fly.
Claude makes his way into the barracks, where the soldiers are getting ready for the parade. Mistaken for one, the commander pulls Claude aside and gives him a uniform. In the locker room you go over the choreography for the parade. Because you’re late, you gotta slip into the back unnoticed. After 26 years, I still cannot do this perfectly. The TV cameras are watching, and if you mess up the producers will flip out.
Rufus and Heidegger chat about the status of the airship, and about his new leadership style: fear. They task the soldiers with finding Sephiroth, whom they know to be in the city. But the commander has plans for you. For some reason, unknown to anyone, you are picked to help send Rufus off on a boat going across continents. You practice your moves, and toss in your finishing touch impressing everyone. You can wander around the town and shop in your disguise. Turns out, the Turks are chillin at the bar. Looks like Reno is getting better after that ass whoopin’.
Claude makes his way to the boat, and gives Rufus a send off. If you nail it, Heidegger will give you a desirable weapon for Claude as a reward. Claude and the crew sneak on board the ship in disguises, and it sets sail for the new continent.
In the cargo hold, Small Arm is getting sea sick. Sammy asks Claude if he saw the airship, and asks if they can go on it someday. You can promise to do it… a promise you can’t keep. Cleavage is chillin on watch duty. John 117 is doing his best to walk upright like a human. I can tell you the internet is going crazy wondering how this will look in the Remake. Korny is out there rocking a sailor suit. He and Claude overhear Rufus and Heidegger, and it just gets him so angry. Biggs. Wedge. Jessie. Dead because of them. But an alert goes out! A suspicious character is on the ship. Is it…?
On the way to the hold, you can get into random battles. With monsters. On a ship secured since the president of Shinra is on board. Okay cool. Let’s roll with it I guess. They find Sephiroth in the back of the hold. Sephiroth doesn’t seem to know Claude though. He flies away, leaving behind a piece of Jenova to fight. The fight is fairly simple, but sometimes Jenova can act quickly twice in a row screwing you over. After the fight, Korny is once again (understandably) out of the loop as to wtf is going on. Claude explains Sephiroth is taking Jenova to the Promised Land, a place of plentiful Mako energy. Shinra wants it too. But he doesn’t trust either of them with it.
The ship docks across the ocean to the resort town Costa Del Sol. Now see, this is a pretty goofy game as you may have noticed. But Costa Del Sol is where it starts to get really goofy. The crew tease Korny about his sailor suit, and decide to relax for a while. After all why not have a vacation. In the bar is a familiar face from the Honeybee Inn.
On the beach, the crew sees something else that everyone is dying to know how the remake will handle. Hojo. With a harem of bikini clad hotties hanging off his arms. Claude approaches Hojo, and he asks Claude if he’s ever felt… something calling him? After a chat, they leave Hojo to work on his tan. Onward west to follow Sephiroth.
We got Russian Nesting Eggs as enemies. Ok. The trail is hot, and Sephiroth is not too far ahead. The trail through the mountains leads you down to Corel’s Mako reactor. You have the option of stealing feathers from baby birds for phoenix downs. Times are tough right? Strangely, this horrendous act offers no negative consequences. There are also… floating bombs with faces that have the annoying habit of exploding right before you can kill them, doing massive damage and netting you zero exp. Dicks. Walking along some roller coasting lookin’ train tracks, you arrive at Corel Village.
The townspeople don’t take too kindly to Korny. He’s sworn at. Spat on. Sucker punched. They blame him for the town’s sad sorry state. Someone sees a man in a black cape head for a nearby rope tram. Always one step behind. Korny takes the time to explain the situation. Korny’s flashback is NOT playable like Claude’s. Shinra wants to build a Mako reactor in Corel. Everyone is cool with it, except Korny’s best bud Dyne. He’s latching on to the coal mining like republicans in West Virginia. Ain’t no way Mako is gonna change the way of life in this coal town! Korny can’t talk him out of it, as he’s all in on Shinra’s might Mako future. SOMEONE tried to blow up the reactor, whose name rhymes with Mine. Shinra goes and burns the town to the ground in retaliation. Korny laments he was taken in, and should never have let the reactor be built. He lost everything when the town burned, including his wife. Naturally, the thing to do next is to go to an amusement park.
The tram soars into the stratosphere, into a world of gold, wonder, fireworks, and fun. Sammy is elated, but Korny is still grumpy. He runs off all angry.
The wondrous attractions are as follows: A spooooooky hotel. Chocobo Racing. The Wonder square full of games. The battle Arena. The event square for stage performances (pour one out for Remake Jessie). A roller coaster. And finally a gondola that tours the whole Gold Saucer. I’m poor and could barely afford the entry ticket, so we’ll come back and do the attractions when we revisit.
Outside the Roller coaster, you meet Dio, the owner. Just a well built man in only a skin colored speedo. Not weird at all. He keeps calling Claude ‘boy’ but I imagine this might turn to ‘bro’ in the Remake given Wedge’s liberal use of the term. He urges Claude to stop by the battle arena and test his might.
Outside the wonder square you meet… a stuffed cat riding an animatronic moogle. He tells your fortune and says his name is Cait Sith. Apparently pronounced ‘ket shee’ because he’s Scottish. We can call him CheapLEY instead. Now, CheapLEY is just bonkers nuts and doesn’t make any sense. Claude and Cleavage apparently have no problem with a toy cat somehow being animated, controlling his robot moogle by screaming into a megaphone. Your fortune is ominous. Will it come true? He also just joins your party. Don’t ask why.
Stopping by the battle square, you find a man. Shot dead. Going inside there are more. A survivor says it’s a man with a gun arm. Korny! Say it ain’t so! Dio figures them for the killers, and grabs everyone with security robots. They get dropped down to the prison in the desert below. Everyone confronts Korny, and he denies killing anyone, but runs off. This is not a nice place. It’s full of criminals. And one guy who follows you around uncomfortably close. Ewwwww. They find Korny, and he tells more of the story…
Korny and Dyne see the town being burned from a distance, but are ambushed by soldiers led by Scarlet. Dyne slips, and Korny grabs him. Hanging over the edge, Scarlet shoots Korny and Dyne’s arms, leaving Dyne to fall into the ravine. Korny grafted a gun to the arm, and vowed revenge. But, he heard the doctor did the same to another man. He puts two and two together. Scarlet shot Dyne’s arm too. He must be alive.
You head out in search. Mr. Coates, who lives in a truck, seems to run things. He says nobody gets out unless they win a Chocobo race, and fat chance getting a shot at that. Who makes these rules again?!
After wandering through the desert, Korny finds Dyne. Dyne says he wants to end everything and everyone. There’s nothing worth living for. His wife and daughter Marlene are dead from the fire. Korny tells him Marlene is safe, that he found her and took care of her all these years. Dyne should see her again. No he says. You’re her father now, she wouldn’t even know me. They fight. A wounded Dyne inches closer to the cliff, and arms outstretched… leaps off.
Damn. This is heavy.
Korny shows Mr. Coates Dyne’s medallion. Fearing that Korny is a badass motherfucker who will kill everyone else, he arranges for Claude to enter a race to win his freedom. A woman who is the walking manifestation of Easter walks in. She’ll be your manager for the race and get you entered. She’ll be your contact from now on when Chocobo Racing.
The racing minigame is… okay I guess? This race is pretty easy. Claude races. He wins. Moving on.
Ester clears everything up, and Dio gives you all pardons. How nice of him. For your troubles, he gives you a buggy that can cross deserts and shallow rivers. Oh, and he met Sephiroth and got his autograph. Said he was heading towards Gongaga. Sephiroth has a habit of not making his next destination very secretive, doesn’t he?
Gongaga is a village around an exploded Mako reactor. The crew get the drop on the Turks, who are already there. They gossip about who they like. Tseng likes Elena. Rude likes Cleavage. In fact, if Cleavage is in your party whenever you fight Rude he’ll never attack her. Claude is noticed, and they fight. Of course you kick their asses again, and they run away.
How’d the Turks know Claude was here? A Spy? Gee, who could it be? Maybe that random cat who just joined your party for no reason? “I trust everyone” says Claude. Uh… really?