|Important Items in this Area||Enemy Skills in this Area|
|Guard Source||Matra Magic|
Outside of Midgar
Once you’re outside of Midgar, you’ll discover the magic of the world map! Er, you can save at any time? Your destination is the small town of Kalm, to the north-east. On the way you’ll run into random monsters, and you can learn your first Enemy Skill…
Enemy Skill (Matra Magic): In the barren land around Midgar you can encounter Custom Sweeper enemies - robots with more drills than they know what to do with. If you encounter any, wait for the machine to cast "Matra Magic" on you, which you’ll learn if you have Enemy Skill Materia equipped on any party member. "Matra Magic" deals non-elemental magic damage to all foes. Not a great deal of damage, mind you, and it costs 8 MP per cast, which is double what the traditional elemental spells cost. At first, the damage isn’t really worth the MP expenditure, but this spell does allow you to cast magic that hits all foes as much as your MP allows, without having to use any All Materia.
Enemy Info (Custom Sweeper): While not having any attacks worth noting (save the Enemy Skill "Matra Magic") you can steal some Atomic Scissors from them. These are a significant upgrade for Barret, on the level of the Hardedge and the Strike Staff. Sadly, it’s not a ranged weapon, but you’ve got spells for that.
Five Years Ago…
Five years ago (at the tender age of sixteen) Cloud was a newly minted 1st Class SOLDIER. How elite can the group be if kids can get to such high ranks? In any event, Cloud is on a truck with Sephiroth, who makes his first on-screen appearance. Progress through a bit of chatter and Sephiroth will tell you about your mission - a malfunctioning Mako reactor is spewing out all kinds of nasty critters, and it’s your job to resolve the issue. Not only do these things kill the planet, but they apparently make monsters. Not the kind of thing you’d ideally want to surround a metropolis with, but hey, Shinra doesn’t seem to care all that much about safety. After a bit, a monster will attack the truck, and you’ll get to see the true disparity in power between Cloud and Sephiroth. After the battle, Cloud will tell his present-day companions about Sephiroth’s strength before continuing his story.
After some chatter about hometowns, Sephiroth will talk - briefly - about his parents. When you’re back in control, talk to the two Shinra soldiers accompanying you, if you wish, then head on past Sephiroth into Nibelheim. Barret will interrupt to point out the obvious before Tifa shoots him down.
Back in the past, Sephiroth will give you leave to mess around in your hometown, which you should take advantage of. All the houses in Nibelheim (with one important exception) circle the water tower in the center of town. The inn is at 11 o’clock while a general store is at 12 o’clock. In the latter you can experience some cognitive dissonance, but the more interesting houses are to the east. Cloud’s house is at 2 o’clock and if you enter it you can speak to his mother, much of which Cloud omits.
Next door, at 3 o’clock, is Tifa’s house. Naturally Tifa is very curious to hear what you may have done in her house five years ago. Just confirm every time she asks you to and go about your business. Go upstairs to reach her room, which is the room to the south-west, with the piano in it. Go up to the piano and interact with it, and when Tifa questions your musical inclinations, say "Yeah, I jammed on it". This will enable you to score another piece of Elemental Materia much, much later on. If you want to practice your skills at playing the piano, there’s a little tune you can play that’ll earn you great rewards later in the game. Hit the following buttons to play the tune:
X, [Square], [Triangle], R1 + [Triangle], R1 + [Square], X, [Square], [Triangle], R1 + X, [Circle], X, [Square], X
[CANCEL], [SELECT], [MENU], [PAGE UP] + [MENU}, [PAGE UP] + [SELECT], [CANCEL], [SELECT], [MENU], [PAGE UP} + [CANCEL], [OK], [CANCEL], [SELECT], [CANCEL]
There’s no reward for playing it well, but if you do, Cloud will comment on this. If you can repeat your performance later on, you’ll benefit greatly from it. Finally, before you leave, search the dresser in Tifa’s room to find some "Orthopedic Underwear". This joke won’t tickle Tifa’s funny bone, suggesting that whatever ailment these undergarments were supposed to correct still persists. Oh well…
There are a few places and people left to visit, a house to the south and Tifa’s dad near the exit to the mountains, but none of these are terribly interesting. When you’re done messing around head into the inn and talk to the grey-beard near the counter. The one with hair on his head… not the bald innkeeper. He’ll introduce himself as Zangan, Tifa’s martial arts teacher… which explains how she learned to fight. Head upstairs and talk to Sephiroth twice and choose to rest to advance to the next day.
The next morning, Cloud shows up a bit late. Talk to Sephiroth and your guide will show up, who just so happens to be a certain childhood friend. Cloud whines and Sephiroth ends his protestations sharply, after which everybody poses for a photo. Later, on the mountain, follow Tifa across a bridge, and after you recover from your eventful crossing everybody will group up. If you want to ogle Sephiroth’s sweet gear and high stats, now’s the time to do so. It’s also your only chance to see baby-Cloud’s party portrait. Daww… Late bloomer.
Head north-east and into a cave. The monsters in this area are far beyond you, but Sephiroth is impervious to everything, so… the battles are really just nuisances that let Sephiroth show off how badass he is. After some chatter continue north along the eastern side of the cavern to progress to the next area, where the group will discover a Mako fountain. Sephiroth will proceed to explain to the youngins about Mako, Materia, and magic, generally amused by Cloud’s ignorance. Afterwards the party will reach their destination - the Mako Reactor on Mount Nibel.
Go up the stairs leading to the reactor and the two members of SOLDIER will leave the others behind. Once inside travel along some pipes, then onto a walkway, from where you can (and will automatically) jump to reach some chains leading to the lower level. They really design these places to be inaccessible, don’t they? Wonder what the accident rates amongst maintenance crews are? Travel north-east on a walkway and go through a door to reach a chamber full of pods. Ascend the stairs, who is standing outside of a door labeled "Jenova". Talk to him and he’ll identify the malfunction, after which he instructs you to fix it. Why isn’t there a full-time resident staff of maintenance people here to fix such trivial problems? Shrina Inc., efficient as always… Oblige Sephiroth, then talk to him again, who will make an observation about Hojo’s little experiments, then direct you to have a look-see. Talk to him again and Cloud will do just that, followed by a bout of questioning concerning Shinra’s latest unethical practice. Sephiroth will spaz out, a pod will hatch, and the group back in Kalm will comment on Cloud’s story. Save your game if you wish, then Cloud will continue his story.
Those Chosen by the Planet
What happened to the monster that was birthed following Sephiroth’s tantrum? Who knows. Cloud’s story picks up back in Nibelheim, where Sephiroth’s behavior has become increasingly erratic. Once you’re back in control of Cloud, head up two flights of stairs and go east to reach the upstairs eastern wing. Talk to the Shinra guard nearby and he’ll tell you Sephiroth went in the room to the east. Head in there and go through the circular stone wall to reach a tower leading underground. Descend the rickety stairs to reach the next screen, then head towards the camera through one screen of caverns, then go east through another. In the well-furnished office beyond, Sephiroth lurks, reading up on the experiments Shinra performed in the past. Talk to Sephiroth, only to be tersely dismissed, then grant him his sought-for solitude. Cloud will narrate as Sephiroth’s research continues, day after day, night after night…
Until one night, with ominous music playing, Cloud wakes up in the Shinra mansion. Return to the eastern wing and head down to the underground offices, where you’ll find Sephiroth in a somewhat more combative mood. He’ll tell you the score - you, and presumably all humans, are treacherous parasites, and he is the cure. Before he elaborates further, however, he decides it’s time to go see his mother.
Follow him out of the mansion and into the city, where Sephiroth has caused a great deal of trouble in a short amount of time. Head to the center of the village and, when Zangan is done talking to you, search your house, after which you’ll see Sephiroth going about his business in one of the more iconic, and chilling, scenes in gaming. Back in the Mako Reactor, head down to the pod-chamber outside the Jenova chamber. Along the way you’ll see the flashback you saw during the No. 5 Reactor bombing mission, but this time with the context still intact. Follow Tifa into the pod room and witness a struggle. Clean up Sephiroth’s mess, then confront him - and his mother.
At this point the story ignominiously ends in the very definition of an anti-climax. Cloud’s friends rightfully complain, but they’ll get nothing more out of him. When Barret rants, respond to him by saying "Right" to gain a tiny bit of favor (+1 Barret), or decline, then say "Beautiful, just beautiful" to gain significantly more favor (+3 Barret), or "Is that all?" (-1 Barret) to lose some approval.
Head downstairs to meet the two party members you didn’t take with you, who will give you a "PHS" which is essentially a phone that will let you call up your other party members at Save Points and on the world map, and switch your party. Your next destination? The Chocobo Ranch, far to the east, but first, you might as well explore Kalm. First head back to the second floor of the inn and search a dresser near the stairs to get the game to tease you by showing an unreachable vial. Do this five times and Cloud will throw a tantrum, which results in the object - a Megalixir - falling down to where it can be reached. Score.
A redheaded guy near the inn will tell you about "some guy in a black cloak" with a "killer sword" who apparently was heading east towards "that grassy field". A black-haired guy in green will tell you about the world map controls, should you need the help.
Now let’s explore the houses around town, going clock-wise starting from the inn. In the first house you’ll find a woman in a blue dress who will comment on how convenient Mako energy and Shinra have made life. If you agree with her, you’ll piss off, well, pretty much everybody (-1 Aeris, -2 Barret, -1 Tifa, +1 Yuffie), while if you disagree you’ll increase approval to the same extent (+1 Aeris, +2 Barret, +1 Tifa, -1 Yuffie)… but only if these characters are in the party with you. Head upstairs and talk to the girl wandering about and agree with her to raise the approval of most characters (+1 Aeris, +2 Barret, +1 Tifa, -1 Yuffie), or disagree to lower it (-1 Aeris, -2 Barret, -1 Tifa, +1 Yuffie); just like with the last question, Barret will gain (or lose) more approval, and everybody has to be in the party if you want their dispositions to change.
Leave this house and head to the next one, where you’ll find an old man who has a dog locked in a closet for whatever reason. Head upstairs and search a cabinet near some beds to score an Ether . In the next house you’ll find a blue-shirted lady who will mention Sephiroth. Head up the eastern stairs to find two kids. Ignore them and search a cabinet near the girl to find a Guard Source , a nifty little item which will raise the Vitality of the character who consumes it by one point permanently (you also got one off of Dark Nation, if you remember). Return downstairs and head up the winding metal stairs to the north-west which will lead to a small room with a chest in it. Loot it to score the Peacemaker weapon - a weapon for a character you’ll meet later on.
Return outside and head south-east past some stairs, where you can find an arch leading to a bar. The only thing of interest here is a miner who will name drop the Mythril Mines. Finally, in a house further on to the south-east you’ll find a compartment under some stairs which contains an Ether .
Only three buildings left now. Head up the stairs near the bar to reach a line of shops, the northern-most being an item shop and the middle two, which are internally conjoined, are a Materia store and a weapon shop.
You can now buy Earth, Poison, Steal, Sense, and Heal Materia If you’ve got the Gil. It might be wise to buy at least one of each Materia that you don’t already have (Earth and Heal), as having one of each type of Materia will pay off greatly at the end of the game; not that you won’t get more chances to buy this Materia, but still. Buying two more Steal Materia can also help with stealing. After all, stealing with all characters is better than stealing with one. If you need to raise funds, Kalm Fangs outside can be robbed for Ethers, which sell for 750 Gil each.
At the weapon shop you can pick up a Mythril Saber (if you didn’t get a Hardedge, it’s superior to the Buster Sword, if not, well, no harm in completing your collection, right?) The Cannon Ball is inferior to the Atomic Scissors you can steal from Custom Sweepers, and the Full Metal Staff is inferior to the Strike Staff. The only certain upgrade is the Mythril Claw, which will finally give Tifa a better weapon.
|Full Metal Staff||800|