Saturday, January 10, 2015

Let's Play Final Fantasy VII (Part 8): Boyfriends and Girlfriends

Let's get something out of the way really quick before we get on with the game. A bit later in the update, we get a Cover materia. When I first played through the game I thought this was Aeris' mom's materia, partly because well, we meet her mom this update. This is further compounded by the fact that Cover doesn't do anything unless you have teammates.

However, this is not the case and Aeris' mom's materia is a plot item that isn't listed in your key items menu. I'm not sure if this is an intentional misdirection or if the game just threw the Cover materia in because it thought Aeris might need protection (she does join at level 6, and Cloud is level 11 with no grinding).

Speaking of Aeris, here's a shot of her basic attack. I should have included it last update, but like I said, she never got to attack.

The amusing part is that even after this big, awkward jump, she doesn't actually transfer all of the jump energy downwards into her swing. Instead, she stops her staff about stomach-height. If you've ever seen someone who is kind of squeamish about using force swing a sledgehammer, that's kind of what it reminds me of.

Yeah, martial artist she is not.

We make it into the main area of the slums, and we hear about Wall Market, a place in Sector 6 with everything one could ever want for sale.

I am pretty sure that's untrue. I want a bracelet with eight linked materia slots! No, not four pairs, I mean eight slots that are all linked!

It would be cool if something like that was in Wall Market, for some ridiculous price (1,048,576 gil or something) similar to how really expensive items were in Medina Village in Chrono Trigger. I think those items were actually more expensive than the gold cap, but it's been a really long time since I played CT and I honestly don't remember.


"This guy" that she's referring to is groaning or otherwise ill. Cloud claims that he's not a doctor, and thus can't help the guy.

He also has a tattoo with the number 2 on it. This sounds kind of like a collectible sidequest. Find all the numbered guys and get some items! They don't seem to be in order, though, or else we missed #1.

We see another news broadcast about the bombings. Apparently, AVALANCHE's second bombing caused some power outages, and the mayor of Midgar, Domino, spoke out publicly against the terrorist group. In Sector 5, we see a lot less sympathy for the AVALANCHE cause, but people seem to still hate Shinra more. Wow.

There's more little bits of exposition here about Midgar, and specifically about how some young kids idealize the upper city.

We get to Aeris' house, which you can see the outside of in the screenshot above where I got the Cover materia. It's really pretty, with lots of green and flowers. The whole area around her house is roughly half the size of the Sector 5 market area (at least, the area we can explore), which is pretty large. Aeris is pretty rich, I guess.

And here we see that Aeris' mom is still alive, which is a bit odd from the previous scene where she talks about her mom's materia. It isn't actually that odd, though. After all, lots of girls get jewelry or other trinkets from their mothers in their teen years.

Aeris' mom is named Elmyra, who seems aware that the Turks are chasing after Aeris. She thanks Cloud for protecting her. She also recognizes Cloud's SOLDIER background from his eyes. In official material, SOLDIER are supposed to be some sort of secret, but that's pretty much out the window, clearly. Everyone knows about the Mako eyes!

Cloud explains that he needs to get to Tifa's bar in Sector 7, and Aeris gets slightly jealous. She asks Cloud if Tifa is his girlfriend, and we reply in the negative -- both because it's true, and because we like Aeris. She's surprised and happy by our response, and offers to take Cloud to Sector 7.

Elmyra pulls Cloud aside later and asks him to leave in the night, without telling Aeris. She claims that SOLDIER is bad news and that she does not want Aeris to get hurt again. So Aeris knows about SOLDIER from some incident in the past, and that her mom also met whichever SOLDIER was involved. Hmm.

The entire interaction in Aeris' house is really cute, and it's a bit of injection of normalcy into a game that will shortly have me fighting demonic houses that attack by shooting rockets and crashing into me.

Cloud goes to bed, and we get another black screened internal dialogue. The dark grey text appears again, and again it recalls Cloud to previous memories.

Cloud appears to actually remember this time, although I'm a bit suspect because he tends to only remember things when he's prompted (such as Tifa's promise). I'm not sure how much of this is the voice in his head recalling events and how much is Cloud recalling events. Either way, the voice in Cloud's head is clearly Cloud from the past.

We jump to a flashback. Cloud's wearing his SOLDIER uniform (remember that flashback Tifa had a different outfit, and in the promise flashback, Cloud has a different model, so this isn't a tech limitation), and talking to a lady who seems to know him.

She claims that the girls probably never leave Cloud alone, to which Cloud responds in the negative. She then says he should find an older girlfriend who will take care of him. We can safely say that this woman is either Cloud's mom or some other relative, and based on her hair color, I think his mom is the most likely option. She isn't named in this scene, though. Either way, Cloud tells the woman that he's not interested in an older girlfriend, and then he wakes up.

This scene is obviously referring to Aeris, who is older than Cloud. It's a coincidence, but coincidences are meaningful in this game even if this woman probably could not have predicted Aeris meeting Cloud (well, probably).

The real take-home part of this is that at some point after joining SOLDIER, Cloud returned home. I'd further a guess that Cloud actually was at the scene where Tifa swears vengeance on Sephiroth, and that scene at the No. 5 Reactor was a flashback and not some psychic viewing of Tifa's memories.

Either way, Cloud sneaks out of Aeris' house and makes his way out of Sector 5.

Well, we thought he snuck out, anyway. Aeris must have been working on that physical training, because she beats Cloud out of Sector 5 and meets him at the entrance to Sector 6 before he can get there.

Maybe she did one of those really awkward jumps from her basic attack to leap halfway across the sector.

Cloud pulls the white knight card again, telling her that it'll be dangerous, and Aeris pulls the female empowerment card and asks him if he's done talking, then tells us that we'll need to go through Wall Market to get to Sector 7.

We arrive at an abandoned playground, and Cloud asks Aeris if she'll be alright getting home. She openly mocks his white knight attitude (seriously, I love her), and he agrees to let her tag along with him to Sector 7.

This scene is so adorable.

Aeris asks Cloud what rank he was in SOLDIER, and here comes another scene that screenshots cannot properly do justice.

Cloud hesitates for a bit, scratching his head, then the camera flashes white. When it finishes, Cloud is no longer in his confused state, and answers "First Class."

This implies that the current Cloud does not actually remember much about being in SOLDIER, but the grey voice in his head was able to answer the question. What the heck is up with this guy?

Aeris leaves us with the big reveal: she used to date a SOLDIER First Class. This explains a lot, actually; she used to date a SOLDIER, and knows about the Mako eyes because of her ex-boyfriend. Her mom knew, because her mom had met the ex-boyfriend. This almost makes you forget about all of that Ancient business (we haven't forgotten, by the way).

Cloud asks his name (since he might have known the ex), and Aeris dodges the question by saying it doesn't matter. Well of course it matters!

This part is really clever because it alludes to Aeris being Sephiroth's ex-girlfriend. We don't yet know whether that's true, but it makes a lot of sense. We only know about two members of SOLDIER, and Sephiroth has to have been the highest rank in SOLDIER, which presumably was First Class.

On top of that, Sephiroth was famous, which gives Aeris a very real reason to evade the question. And to tie it all together, Sephiroth was involved in a tragedy in Cloud's hometown, and because Cloud and Tifa are both alive, it seems safe to suggest that Sephiroth might not even be alive. He disappeared some number of years ago, and Aeris probably never got a chance to say goodbye.

This explanation fits so cleanly into our understanding of the game at this point. It's actually pretty scary how easily we can deduce this based on the things we know.

A carriage pulls out of the gate behind Cloud and Aeris, and Cloud spots a familiar face (or at least a familiar chest) sporting a purple dress.

This scene kind of annoys me because we do not really get to see the girl on the carriage in any way that lets us identify her as Tifa. She's wearing a different outfit, we can't see her dolphin hairstyle, and the only girl we've seen that isn't outrageously busty is Aeris.

I think it would have been better to show Tifa in her default outfit in this scene just to give more visual clarity.

Cloud can recognize her though, and Aeris runs ahead.

I wonder what she means when she says that this place is "especially scary for a girl" though?

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