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Final Fantasy VII

From Academic Kids

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Final Fantasy VII
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Developer(s) Square Co., Ltd.
Publisher(s) Square Co., Ltd. (JP)
SCEA (NA)
SCEE (EU)
Release date(s) January 31, 1997 (JP)
August 31, 1997 (NA)
October 7, 1997 (Int. Ver.)
November 1997 (EU)
Genre Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: Teen (T)
USK: 12+
Platform(s) PlayStation

Final Fantasy VII is a computer role-playing game that was Square Co., Ltd.'s (now Square Enix) first Final Fantasy game on the PlayStation. It was also the first game in the franchise to be ported to the PC.

Unlike previous games in the series, Final Fantasy VII used 3D graphics, with fully rendered characters and prerendered backgrounds. The game was a huge success both commercially and critically: its release met with rave reviews from most game magazines, and by 1999, the game had sold more than 8 million copies worldwide, making it an unprecedented success for console RPGs. It became inextricably linked with the console it was released on, eventually leading a journalist to call it "the game that sold the PlayStation."

The storyline incorporates elements from sources like Kabbalah and Norse mythology, with town names such as Midgar and Nibelheim. It also references aspects of other religions and beliefs, most notably the idea of reincarnation. Recurring themes from the other games in the series are the inclusion of specific names such as Cid, Biggs and Wedge (Biggs and Wedge are Star Wars characters), and the repetition of soundtrack motifs from previous titles in the series, such as the chocobo theme.

As well as references to Star Wars, Final Fantasy VII has been called the Star Wars of the gaming industry. It broke free of 2D 16-bit graphics, boasting immensely stunning graphics and FMV for it's time, possessing one of the best gaming soundtracks ever and delivering a storyline that plays with people's emotions.

The game involves controlling the main character (named Cloud), and taking him through a set storyline, interspersed with random or pre-determined battles, minigames and FMVs (Full Motion Videos), pre-rendered short clips depicting a pivotal point in the plot.

Contents

Gameplay

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A screenshot from a typical cutscene in Final Fantasy VII. Tifa (left), Cloud (right).

Like most other Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VII features traditional RPG-style, turn based fighting. The fighting engine is heavily based on that of Final Fantasy VI and uses a system called "Active Time Battle" (ATB).

Using Materia, magic orbs which fill up "Materia slots" in weapons or armor, characters gain access to magic spells, new commands, better attacks or defenses and other abilities. Materia can be combined in several ways, and strategic use of Materia combinations can make many battles much easier.

A feature introduced in Final Fantasy VI, the "desperation attack", reappeared here as the Limit Break. Limit Breaks are unique attacks that each character can perform after he or she has suffered enough damage. Limit Breaks continued to appear in Final Fantasy VIII in altered form; similar systems exist in Final Fantasy IX (Trance) and Final Fantasy X (Overdrive).

Story

The world where Final Fantasy VII takes place is economically, militarily, and politically dominated by a company called Shin-Ra, which profits from the use of machines known as 'Mako Reactors'. These reactors pump 'Mako Energy' out of the planet and convert it into electricity. A by-product of the electrical refinement process is a substance known as Materia that has magical properties.

In actuality, this Mako Energy comes from what is called the 'Lifestream', a flow of souls beneath the surface of the planet. Life comes from the Lifestream, and death is a return to it. The Lifestream represents the soul of a planet from which all other life on that planet is born. In other words, Shin-Ra is draining the life of the planet to make electricity.

The powers in charge of Shin-Ra are fascinated with the idea of the 'Promised Land'—supposedly a place where the land is incredibly fertile and where Mako flows abundantly. Only a race called the Cetra, or the Ancients, are, according to legend, able to find it. However, the Cetra are extinct, save one girl: Aeris. As such, Shin-Ra is trying to find her.

In Midgar, a city created and run entirely by Shin-Ra, where their main headquarters are located, a resistance faction known as AVALANCHE is attempting to destroy the Mako reactors, on the grounds that the reactors are literally sucking the life away from the planet. The story begins as AVALANCHE hires a mercenary named Cloud Strife, an ex-member of Shin-Ra's elite warrior force, SOLDIER, to help them destroy the eight Mako Reactors positioned in a ring around Midgar.

Cloud is initially uninterested in AVALANCHE's cause and is in it only for the money, but he soon begins to see the danger posed by Shin-Ra, who are also responsible for the destructive acts of a man he knew in the past named Sephiroth, and so he joins in the escalating conflict to protect the planet.

Sephiroth, who was a legendary SOLDIER, it turns out, is still alive and is working against Cloud and AVALANCHE to execute a very sinister plot. And as the story progresess, Cloud's identity and his past come into question....

The characters involved could be seen as representatives of individual ideologies in the world, from secular to religious, scientific to spiritual, and a deeper philosophical interpretation of the game is possible.

Characters

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Screenshot of the opening movie of Final Fantasy VII with Aeris wandering through the city of Midgar.

The main playable characters in Final Fantasy VII are (in order of appearance) Aeris Gainsborough, Barret Wallace, Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockheart, Red XIII (real name: Nanaki), Cait Sith, Cid Highwind, and two optional characters: Yuffie Kisaragi and Vincent Valentine. Sephiroth joins you in a series of flashbacks, but he cannot be controlled or equipped.

Important characters in Shin-Ra are Reeve (Head of Urban Development), Hojo (Head of the Science Department), Heidegger (Head of the "Peace Preservation Department"), Scarlet (Head of Weapons Research and Development), President Shinra, his son Rufus, and the assassin-like Turks (Elena, Rude, Reno, and Tseng).

Character Profiles

Main Characters

  • Cloud Strife —Main protagonist. A mercenary employed by AVALANCHE, and the main character of the game. Cloud is portrayed as a confused and conflicted individual with an occassionally arrogant attitude. He wears a purple jumpsuit, has blue eyes that glow green, and bizarrely spiked blonde hair (about which he is often teased).
  • Barret Wallace — The leader of AVALANCHE, a powerfully built black man with a deep-seated hatred of everything Shin-Ra. Barret mistrusts Cloud at first because of the mercenary's past affiliation with the corporation. He lost his arm in a battle years ago, and uses a prosthetic "gun-arm" to fight.
  • Tifa Lockhart — A close childhood acquaintance of Cloud's, Tifa is a skilled martial artist with a cheerful nature. One of the main members of AVALANCHE, it is Tifa who convinces Cloud to work for the group. She has long black hair tied back in a loose pony-tail and brown eyes.
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Aeris and Cloud's last time together.
  • Aeris Gainsborough — Aeris is a young woman who sells flowers on the streets of Midgar and is sought after by Shin-Ra's research department. She asks Cloud to be her bodyguard after a run-in with the Turks, and subsequently joins AVALANCHE. She has long brownish-red hair she keeps in a braid with pink bows, vivid green eyes, and wears a red mini-jacket and long pink dress. Aeris is sometimes referred to as "Aerith," due to a conflicting Romanization of the "s" sound in Japanese. The Japanese instruction manual gave her romanized name as "Aerith." While named "Aeris" in the English-localized versions of Final Fantasy VII, she was referred to as "Aerith" in Kingdom Hearts.
    • Close to the midpoint of the game, Aeris dies. A persistent rumor has it that Aeris either could be resurrected in the game, could be resurrected in the Japanese version of the game, or that she was meant to be resurrected but the feature either could not be completed, or was dropped at a relatively late stage of development. The production staff have repeatedly stated that this is not the case. By their admission, Aeris's death was always intended to be a permanent and tragic event, a response to the dramatic cliches of heroic sacrifice and resurrection.
  • Red XIII — Strong, fierce, and coated with fire-red fur, Red XIII is a large and powerful beast, with an strong intellect and warm heart to match. Red XIII joins with Cloud after being rescued from a horrible Shin-Ra experiment. Red XIII is the name given to him by Hojo, Shin-Ra's Head of the Science Department; his real name is Nanaki. Hojo claims that he is the last survivor of his species, but this information may not be reliable. Both of this character's names are likely references to Star Wars; Nanaki is an anagram of Anakin, and Red 13 is a Rebel callsign. See also Biggs and Wedge, below.
  • Cait Sith — Appearing as a stuffed, talking cat, Cait Sith is friendly but often untrustworthy and unreliable. He rides on the back of a stuffed "Mog", a magical creature that does all of the pair's fighting. He is eventually revealed to a puppet that Reeve, Shin-Ra's Head of Urban Development, used to infilitrate AVALANCHE. But over time, Reeve came to care for his new friends and used Cait as a way for him to help the gang in spirit.
  • Cid Highwind — A rather crotchety and foul-mouthed character, Cid is a pilot who secretly dreams of travelling into space. He lives with Shera, an assistant who forced Cid to abort his past chance at launching his rocket into space, possibly saving Cid's life by checking oxygen tanks she feared were faulty during the liftoff sequence.
  • Yuffie Kisaragi - A self-proclaimed "Materia Hunter," Yuffie is in fact little more than a pickpocket and thief. She is the daughter of the leader of Wutai, Godo. She has dark hair, dark eyes, short beige pants, a green sleeve-less turtleneck, and a green headband to match.
  • Vincent Valentine - A dark and brooding character, with a sarcastic wit, Vincent's past is shrouded in a mystery relating to both Sephiroth and Shin-Ra, and as such feels compelled to help Cloud and the others in their quest. In fact, Vincent was once a member of the Turks involved in the Jenova Project. After his attempt to intervene with the project, Hojo shot Vincent and performed his experimentation on him. Vincent awoke some time later to notice his mutation, and hides himself in a coffin for years until Cloud awakens him. His mannerisms and appearance have given rise to rumours among the fanbase that he may be a vampire of some kind.
  • Sephiroth:The game's antagonist. Said to be the greatest member of SOLDIER ever, Sephiroth rose to a prominent rank at an early age. Mysterious and dangerous, with an agenda all his own. Driven mad by the discovery of his true heritage, he plans to become a god by wounding the planet with Meteor and absorbing the exposed lifestream.

Support Characters

AVALANCHE
  • Biggs: Member of AVALANCHE. Killed by Shin-Ra.
  • Jessie: Member of AVALANCHE. Explosives technician that fakes IDs for herself and fellow members so they could pass through Shin-Ra's security checkpoints without being detected. She also gives Cloud a lesson on the Midgar rail system and the structure of the city itself. The player also has the option to flirt with her a few times. Killed by Shin-Ra.
  • Wedge: Member of AVALANCHE. Killed by Shin-Ra.
Shin-Ra
Executives
  • President Shinra: Head of Shin-Ra Corporation. Sends "Airbuster" to kill Cloud, Tifa, and Barret. Cloud's group is taken before him after the Turks foil their plan to escape from Shin-Ra Laboratories with Aeris. He tells them that Aeris is an Ancient and that they plan to use her to find the Promised Land, where they can build a new Midgar in a Mako-rich environment. He then sends them to be locked up. He is found dead with Sephiroth's sword stuck through him.
  • Rufus Shinra: Son of President Shinra and Vice President of Shin-Ra. He becomes the president of Shin-Ra after his father's death. When the group hears that he isn't controlling Shin-Ra for the money, like his father, they are relieved, only to be shocked when he reveals he controls it for the power and fear it gives him over the people. Ruthless entrepreneur who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Eventually, he and Cloud's group put their differences aside to fight their common foes, Meteor and Sephiroth. Rufus' determination finally comes in handy to the good guys when he uses Shin-Ra's resources to defeat two WEAPONs and break the barrier surrounding Sephiroth's crater. Rufus is presumed dead from one of the incoming blasts from Diamond WEAPON, but the cast of characters in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children shows that he may not be dead after all.
  • Heidegger: Shin-Ra employee. Head of Public Safety Maintainence, which is just a euphemism for the Shin-Ra military, the elite SOLDIER unit, and the Turks. Death unconfirmed but probable. Possibly named after the German philosopher Martin Heidegger(1889-1976).
  • Scarlet: Shin-Ra employee. Head of Shin-Ra Weapon Development. Wants to make the perfect weapon, but doesn't trust Heideggar to use it properly. Helps in creating a large mako cannon, Sister Ray, used to fight WEAPON. About the most competent and ruthless Shin-Ra employee next to Rufus. Death unconfirmed but probable.
  • Reeve: Member of Shin-Ra who disagrees with Heidigger about the plan to destroy Sector 7. Head of the Urban Development Department. It would soon turn he 's the one who created Cait Sith as a way for him to interact with the heroes. Over time, Reeve decided to help the gang when he discovered that Hojo is sending power to the Sister Ray that will destroy Midgar.
  • Palmer: Incompetent head of Shin-Ra's Space Program. Reveals that Sephiroth is trying to take the Promised Land from Shin-Ra. Arrives with Rufus to Rocket Town to steal Cid's plane, the "Tiny Bronco." Hit by a truck as he tries to escape Cloud and company.
The Turks
  • Tseng: Leader of the Turks. Revealed to Aeris that she was an Ancient. Killed by Sephiroth. Before he dies, he hands the Keystone to Cloud and says that the Promised Land is not what Rufus and the others think it will be.
  • Reno: Member of the Turks. Sets the bombs to blow up Sector 7. Later, he tells Cloud that he sees no point in fighting any more and calls a truce.
  • Rude: Member of the Turks, who usually appears with Reno.
  • Elena: Newest member of the Turks. Has a crush on Tseng. Stupidly reveals that the Turks are chasing Sephiroth and that they are headed for Junon Harbor. Blames Cloud for killing Tseng.
Researchers
  • Hojo: A scientist sent by Shin-Ra to assist Professor Gast, Hojo is the primary instigator of the Jenova Project. He impregnates Lucrecia, a young scientist who was the object of Vincent Valentine's affection. His experiments with fully matured subjects having failed, Hojo turns to his as-yet-unborn child, injecting Lucrecia with Jenova cell samples. The experiment eventually destroys Lucrecia, but her child, who was named Sephiroth, survives, and is kept under close supervision by Hojo. He performed similar experiments with Jenova cells on numerous people, including both Cloud and Zack following the accident at the Nibleheim Mako reactor five years before the events of the game. Some fans speculate that Hojo is, in fact, the true villain of the game, along with Jenova. When the gang confronted Hojo, they learned that he infused himself with Jenova's cells as he evolved into a super-being the heroes killed off.
  • Professor Gast: Aeris's birth father, Gast found Jenova while excavating the Northern crater. Transporting Jenova to Nibelheim, he begins to research her origins and powers, believing her to be an Ancient. After Shin-Ra sends Hojo to assist him, Gast grows uncomfortable with his colleague's lack of scruples. Unable to reason with Hojo, Gast leaves the project in order to continue his researches into the Ancients on his own. Eventually he meets, and falls in love with, Ifalna, one of the last surviving members of the Ancients' race. After the birth of their daughter, Aeris, Hojo finally tracks them down, and attempts to capture both Ifalna and Aeris for further study. Gast attempts to stop Hojo, but is killed in the process, and his wife and daughter are taken captive.
  • Lucrecia: Young female scientist who served as assistant to Hojo and Gast during the Jenova Project. She has an affair with Hojo, and becomes pregnant by him. Shortly thereafter, she is betrayed by Hojo, who injects her and her unborn child with Jenova cell samples. Disgusted with what she has done and afraid of the effects Jenova cells could have on her, she isolates herself in a waterfall cave, where she is confident she will never be able to harm anyone again. However, the effects of Hojo's experimentation have granted her unnaturally long life and resilience, and she is discovered by her true love, Vincent Valentine, roughly 30 years later.
Others
  • Big Bro: Cross-dressing owner of the gym in Wall Market - offers a wig as a prize for a squatting competition.
  • Bugenhagen: Red XIII's/Nanaki's grandfather, Bugenhagen has an observatory at the top of Cosmo Canyon, and provides vital information to Cloud regarding how to stop Sephiroth and Meteor.
  • Choco Bill: Owner of the Chocobo Farm.
  • Choco Billy: Choco Bill's son, sells greens and deals with Chocobo mating.
  • Chocobo Sage: A mysterious old "man" who lives up north. He offers advice on Chocobo breeding and sells the most expensive greens.
  • Chole: Choco Billy's younger sister, helps out in the stables.
  • Dio: Manager of the Gold Saucer Entertainment Complex. When he hears reports of a man with a gun for an arm has murdered his employees, he arrests Barret's group and places them in Corel Prison. Later lends the Keystone to them that will open the Temple of the Ancients.
  • Don Corneo: The crime-boss of lower Midgar who resides in Wall Market. After being confronted by Cloud, Tifa, and Aeris, he spills the beans on the plan to destroy Sector 7's support pillar. Later, after being kicked out of Midgar by the Turks organization, he kidnaps Yuffie and Elena in Wutai, only to be killed by Reno.
  • Dyne: Barret's best friend and father of Marlene. Left for dead after Shin-Ra attacks his hometown of Corel, Dyne actually survives. When Cloud's group finally finds him, he is a twisted, angry man. Unable to live with what he has become, he makes Barret promise to take care of Marlene, and kills himself by jumping off a cliff.
  • Elder Bugah: A friend of Professor Gast and explains some about the world to you. He also mentions a brief history about Professor Gast, his discovery of Jenova, and subesquent flight from Shin-Ra.
  • Elder Hargo: Details some information regarding the Lifestream.
  • Eleanor: Dyne's wife and the birthmother of Marlene; she died when Corel was burned to the ground.
  • Elmyra Gainsborough: Aeris's adoptive mother, she offers aid to an injured Ifalna after Ifalna escapes Shin-Ra Headquarters. After Ifalna's death, Elmyra takes charge of her orphaned daughter.
  • Ester: Chocobo Racing manager assigned to Cloud.
  • Godo Kisaragi: Yuffie's father, and the leader of Wutai. Wutai was the enemy Shin-Ra fought in a war that occurred around the time of Sephiroth's birth; in fact, Sephiroth was part of Hojo, Lucrecia, and Dr. Gast's work in a super-weapon project to defeat Wutai. As a condition of its surrender, Wutai was not allowed to possess any materia and was reduced to a tourist town.
  • Hart: The mayor's assistant.
  • Holzoff: Lives at the base of Gaea's Cliffs and tells the party how to overcome the "biting cold".
  • Ifalna: Aeris' birth mother. One of the last Ancients alive on the planet. Found by Dr. Gast in Icicle Inn, where he records a series of interviews with her. The two fall in love, and after Gast leaves Shin-Ra, have a daughter named Aeris. Hojo tracks them down a few years later and kills Gast. Ifalna escapes with Aeris as far as the Sector 7 station in Midgar. Here, exhausted and wounded, she hands Aeris over to Elmyra Gainsborough and dies.
  • Jenova: Believed (incorrectly)to be a powerful Ancient, Jenova's remains were found by Gast and became the subject of extensive research and experimentation by Shin-Ra. Some people argue that Jenova is actually controlling Sephiroth and therefore the true villain of Final Fantasy VII. It is also possible that Jenova appears many times during the game as Sephiroth by using its shapeshifting ability.
  • Joe: Chocobo Jockey, rides Teioh.
  • Johnny: Young man from Sector 5 who ends up in Costa del Sol.
  • Kalm Traveler: A man in Kalm looking for a Guidebook, Earth Harp, and Desert Rose. Willing to trade Underwater Materia, Mastered: Magic; Command; and Summon Materias, and a Gold Chocobo for the items, respectively.
  • Kotch: One of Don Corneo's lackeys.
  • Marlene: The young daughter of Barret's friends, Dyne and Eleanor. Adopted by Barret after Eleanor's death during the burning of Corel. She is left with Elmyra during the game.
  • Mayor Domino: The mayor of Midgar by title only; he's actually a figurehead, and holds no real power over the city.
  • Mr. Coates: Runs the prisoner racing program in Corel Prison but is really a subordinate of Dyne.
  • Mukki: A bodybuilder first encountered in Honeybee Inn. He makes his way to the Costa del Sol bar.
  • Myrna: Barret's wife who died when Corel was burned to the ground.
  • Priscilla: A young girl that Cloud rescues by performing CPR. Helps the party get into the upper levels of Junon with her trusty friend, Mr. Dolphin.
  • Seto: Red XIII's/Nanaki's father. Was believed to be a coward by Red XIII but later shown to be a great hero who sacrificed his own life for the tribe.
  • Shera: A scientist working on the No. 26 who ultimately made Cid cancel the launch. For this, he hated her, but later came to respect her greatly and named the airship in Advent Children, the Sierra, after her.
  • Skotch: One of Don Corneo's lackeys.
  • Snow: An ice queen that lives on Great Glacier. Defeat her to receive the Alexander Summon Materia.
  • Weapons: Created by the Planet as a defense mechanism, these biomechanical monsters were activated when Meteor was invoked. Each Weapon serves to exterminate everything that threatens the planet, including humans. (It is worth note that when Sapphire Weapon struck Junon, it released Tifa from the gas chamber with surgical precision. Some claim Sapphire was attempting to help her and the group, and was the only weapon capable of knowing that Cloud and the others were helping the planet.) There are five known Weapons that protect designated areas: Ultima, Sapphire, Diamond, Ruby, and Emerald. In Dirge of Cerberus, there is a sixth Weapon, Omega, that was not activated upon Meteor being invoked.
  • Zack: A SOLDIER 1st Class from Gongaga. While stationed in Midgar, he met and dated Aeris. Sent, along with Cloud and Sephiroth, to investigate reports of monsters disrupting life for the workers at Mt. Nibel Mako Reactor. When Sephiroth goes insane, Cloud and Zack are taken prisoner in the Shin-Ra Mansion. Zack breaks out and carries Cloud with him during their escape. Zack gives Cloud some of his clothes and gets them transport to Midgar, but upon arrival to the outer area, Zack is shot dead once Shin-Ra finds them. Cloud takes Zack's persona and Buster sword afterwards. For much of the game, Cloud is actually convinced that he is Zack. Many people insist that Zack is a hidden playable (or non playable, the belief differs from person to person) in the game, noting that there are several Zack-like characters throughout the game. This has yet to be proven ny any means.
  • Zangan: Tifa's Martial Arts instructor, helped rescue her after she was hurt by Sephiroth. His letter to Tifa (found in her piano) shed light on the events following the burning of Nibelheim and the coverup that ensued.

Reappearances of FFVII Characters

Final Fantasy VII proved to be so popular that several characters from the game have appeared in other Square/Square-Enix games. Cloud, Tifa, Sephiroth, Vincent, Yuffie and Zack are playable characters in the fighting game Ehrgeiz. Tifa appears on a poster in Solaris in the RPG Xenogears. Cloud appears as a secret character (in a scene with Aeris) in Final Fantasy Tactics. Cloud, Aeris (as Aerith), Yuffie, Cid, and Sephiroth appear in Kingdom Hearts. Cloud, Tifa, Aeris, and Sephiroth appear in the game Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special. Cloud also appears in Chocobo Racing as a secret character and in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as an NPC. Most of the characters from Final Fantasy VII reappeared in the four-part spinoff series Compilation of Final Fantasy VII released between 2004 and 2006 and consisting of Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, the CG movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII.

Locations

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Map of the primary areas in Final Fantasy VII.

Eastern continent

  • Midgar: The main city where both Shin-Ra and AVALANCHE are based. The player begins here, and subsequently returns later to confront Shin-Ra.
  • Sector 7 Slums: Home of most of the people in Midgar. It sits under the seventh Mako reactor in Midgar. Location of Tifa's 7th Heaven bar, a front for AVALANCHE's base. Destroyed early on in the game when the pillar holding up the section of the Midgar plate directly above the slum is demolished.
  • Wall Market: A black market area where Don Corneo's mansion and the Honey Bee Inn are located. It's the only way to reach Shin-Ra Headquarters.
  • Shin-Ra Headquarters: A 70 story building that houses the different divisions of Shin-Ra, including their weapons research labs.
  • Kalm: A town near Midgar. The place where Cloud tells the group about his mission with Sephiroth. Later in the game if the player gives the Kalm Traveller 3 very rare items, he will provide very valuable items.
  • Chocobo Farm: A farm where the player gets the Chocobo Lure materia and some greens which are needed to catch a Chocobo, so the player can reach the Mythril Mine. Later the farm can be used to breed Chocobos.
  • Mythril Mine: An abandoned mine. Site where Cloud and group finds out that Sephiroth is headed to Junon Harbor.
  • Fort Condor: A military fortress dedicated to resistance against Shin-Ra. It is so named for the massive breed of Condor that makes its home there. The Shin-Ra have attacked the fort several times in order to get at the Huge Materia inside the derelict Mako Reactor at the top of the fortress.
  • Junon: Junon is a heavily-armed Shin-Ra military base that is located above a small fishing town of the same name, built upon a plate and housing troop garrisons, an airport, and a seaport. Site where Sapphire WEAPON (name confirmed in a recent collectible toy release (http://www.square-enix.co.jp/shop/goods/ff_s_creatures_4.html)) is killed by the Sister Ray Cannon.
  • Underwater Reactor: Primary Mako reactor for the city of Junon. A Huge Materia is removed and transported by sub from here.

Western continent

  • Costa del Sol: A port town on the western continent that resembles a summer resort. You can also purchace President Shin-Ra's summer cottage.
  • Corel: Barret's hometown. Barret feels responsible for its destruction as he pushed for a Mako Reactor to be built there. Shin-Ra toops razed the village after a terrorist attack on the Mako Reactor facility. After being burnt, Corel was turned into the Corel Prison and Gold Saucer was built atop it.
  • North Corel: The location that the survivors of Shin-Ra's assaut on Corel settled in. Can possibly be destroyed if the player fails to stop a speeding train carrying Huge Materia.
  • Gold Saucer: Built near Corel's ruins and in the middle of the desert, the Gold Saucer is a towering amusement park operated by Shin-Ra.
  • Gongaga: The remains of a town that was destroyed by a reactor explosion. Zack lived here.
  • Cosmo Canyon: Red XIII's hometown, also called the Valley of the Fallen Star. Bugenhagen's observatory in also here.
  • Ancient Forest: An incredibly old forest near Cosmo Canyon. Only accessible by a Green, Black, or Gold chocobo, or after defeating Ultimate WEAPON for the last time.
  • Nibelheim: Cloud and Tifa's hometown. It was burned down by Sephiroth when he discovered his origins. It was later rebuilt by Shin-Ra to cover up the incident.
  • Rocket Town: Cid's hometown. This is the site of the first rocket launch that was loaded with special materia and flown into Meteor.
  • Wutai: Yuffie's hometown, where Don Corneo reappears and kidnaps her and the Turk, Elena.

Northern continent

  • Bone Village: A excavating town. Site of the Lunar Harp which is needed to wake the Sleeping Forest.
  • Sleeping Forest: A forest next to Bone Village. Without the Lunar Harp, the characters will wander in the forest aimessly.
  • Forgotten City: A lost city of the Ancients; The place where Aeris went to try to use the White Materia to summon Holy. The site of Aeris' death.
  • Icicle Inn: Aeris' hometown; for a time, Professor Gast and the Ancient Ifalna hid from Shin-Ra here.
  • Great Glacier: A large glacier to the south of Gaea's Cliffs. Few people venture that far north.
  • Gaea's Cliff: A huge cliff that leads to the Whirlwind Maze.
  • Whirlwind Maze: A site that is near the Northern Crater.
  • Mideel: Hot springs town attacked by Ultimate WEAPON, but destroyed by a Lifestream eruption; Cloud appears here after falling into the Lifestream.
  • Northern Crater: Where the remaining portion Sephiroth's body had ended up after cruising through the Lifestream. Site of the Reunion; the final area.

Other

  • Materia Caves: Caves scattered around the world where the player can find very rare and variable materia; chocobos are necessary to reach them.
  • Temple of the Ancients: A large structure that the Black Materia was turned into to prevent its use. Whomever wishes to turn the building back into Black Materia must sacrifice his or her life by solving a series of puzzles that shrinks the temple down, thus killing whomever is inside.

Musical Score

Nobuo Uematsu's twenty-second work for Square. Music from the game has been commercially released in an original four-disc soundtrack, a single-disc album, titled Final Fantasy VII: Reunion, which is an arranged collection of selected tracks, as well as a piano-only collection of selected tracks. Popular pieces from the production include "Aeris's Theme," a subdued and melodic character anthem, and "One-Winged Angel," the first composition for the series to have utilized recorded voices which is also used in trailers for the game's sequel, Advent Children.

Fanbase

The characters of Final Fantasy VII are incredibly popular among the RPG fanbase. Cloud won the 2003 GameFAQs character battle, suggesting that he is one of, if not the most, popular character of all time. Interestingly enough, Sephiroth, a villain, came in second. Some feel, however, that the character battle was a haven for Square and Nintendo fans.

Sephiroth recently won the GameFAQs 2005 Best Villain Contest, beating Ganondorf by 16.34%.

In addition to the character contests, Final Fantasy VII won the GameFAQs 2004 "Best Game Ever" tourmament by a significant margin.

Many Nintendo fans were angered by Square's decision to develop the game for the PlayStation instead of the Nintendo 64, as all previous games in the series had appeared on Nintendo's systems. Future installments in the series continued to appear on Sony consoles, but spin-offs and such are beginning to appear on Nintendo consoles as well.

As the PlayStation console drew a new audience to video games, Final Fantasy VII introduced many gamers to the RPG genre. Those who had followed the series through its earlier iterations publically lamented that many amongst this new generation of gamers were unfamiliar with the earlier games in the series. Many also accuse Final Fantasy VII of leading to a glut of subpar RPGs, released to capitalize on the sudden popularity of the RPG genre. It should be noted, however, that corporate opportunism in no way reflects on the quality of the game itself.

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