Author Topic: Complete: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)

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Ashton

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2014, 02:41:17 AM »
I think Jenova only had to do with magic in that it hijacked the planet's natural biosphere (AKA the lifestream) as an energy source for itself, which is why humans who were injected with its cells got superhuman powers and were connected to the lifestream in some way. It adapts to each planet it invades to leech off of their natural elements, so it probably has nothing to do with the magic in FF7's world, but it has a 'hot wired' access to the life stream.

Kevadu

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2014, 03:26:24 AM »
When humans created the atomic bomb, there were concerns that such a weapon would ignite the entire biosphere of the planet, but the people behind it detonated it anyway, and said afterwards "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

This is one of those myths that just won't die.  Well, I suppose it depends on what you mean by 'concerns'.  Teller raised the possibility of a sustained nuclear fusion reaction of nitrogen in the atmosphere, but at that point it was just a hypothetical idea.  He saw that there was a possible reaction but he had no idea if the energy transfer would be enough to actually make it happen.  Even so it was a troubling proposition so Bethe did the calculation and basically concluded no way.  Not even close.  Teller agreed too.  (And It should also be noted that Teller had a long history of, shall we say 'optimistic' opinions on how easy it would be to achieve nuclear fusion...)

So yes, the possibility was raised and then it was debunked, long before anyone actually exploded a nuclear bomb.  Nobody considered this to be a serious concern when the actual testing happened.  Of course you can ask what if Bethe's calculations were wrong, but they were made with worst case assumptions and it still didn't even come close.  In fact we know now that fusion is a lot harder to achieve than the assumptions used in that calculation.

Here's something fun, an actual paper on the subject.  Yay freedom of information.

I just object to the idea that the scientists in the Manhattan project were somehow flippant about the possibility or that they really didn't know what was going to happen until the bomb was actually detonated.  And given that you brought this up in the context of talking about Hojo...you really seemed to be implying just that.

And that quote by Oppenheimer was referring to the destructive power of nuclear weapons in general.  It doesn't have anything to do with igniting the atmosphere...

Ashton

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2014, 03:32:31 AM »
Yeah, I should've made that clearer.

It was less about whether it would actually happen, and more about if this line of research was open the way to worse things. The destructive power of the atom bomb still remains as one of humankind's greatest (and some would say, most terrifying) scientific achievements.

Aeolus

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2014, 02:26:42 PM »
Yeah I know that, but Jenova wasn't the source of magic right? She was unrealted. the WEAPONS may have been created to stop Jenova, but they were made by the planet, so the source is still the Lifestream.

The thing about FFVII's plot is that its a bunch of low-Sci-Fi movies tied together, clichés and all.

While Materia was the actual source of "Magic" gameplaywise; it, Mako and Lifestream energy are basically the setting's equivalent to Atomic Energy. A recently discovered powersource capable of outperforming anything that came before it but is feared to be toxic unless properly handled/refined. The WEAPONs are lifestream created monsters and are basically Godzilla/Mothra/insert cheesy Japanese Tokyo destroying monster here.

Likewise, JENOVA is basically something that was dwelling in some random meteorite that crash lands onto Earth that, once on Earth, starts running amok and terrorizing the local population of small town, bumfuck nowhere. She/it represents wholly Alien powers/tech of th Space Monster variety, but is used in the "What can it do to humans exposed to it?" way versus the "It's Game Over man! Game Over!" of the rampaging Xenomorph variety. The cliché is treated as a supplement to the "Are humans a product of Earth/descended from Apes, or are we more special than that and our race came from a hyper advanced alien culture and thus are the only species capable of Sapience?" in that JENOVA is treated like a distant cousin to humans and thus when cells are introduced to humans, a variety of effects occur in the test subject like monstrous mutations, super human abilities, the ability to survive direct Mako exposure (don't ask how Tifa manages to survive getting dumped into the Lifestream with Cloud), and weird hive mind tendencies.

Hojo himself is also a cliché of the greedy mad scientist who has an end in mind and is more than willing to play god in regards to the means of getting there variety, and plays it to the letter. He kills his predecessor in order to steal his research, he's obsessed with JENOVA cell research even though he's a total hack at it and he's willing to use anybody and everybody to further his own ambitions, up to, and including himself.

The tl;dr is that the game pretty much runs off of B-grade Sci-Fi Movie logic.
In my vision, I see that one of us is going to KO the other.

Cyril

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2014, 02:59:58 PM »
I wouldn't entirely go that far.  JENOVA is quite possibly an alien virus,  not a space monster (in the Xenomorph-style) or even a self-reliant organism.  We don't know exactly the time frame of JENOVA's arrival and its relationship with the Ancients to say enough about how much of it falls under the specific cliches you mentioned.  In the virus theory, the reason why JENOVA is initially thought to be an Ancient was because she had infected an Ancient's body.  The body itself was just a random nobody, but the cells contained a viable virus sample.

Which, of course, is entirely another major science fiction cliche in itself.  But cliches and tropes aren't necessarily bad.

In my opinion the worst offender in ridiculousness in the lore was making the Ancients super-powered aliens who could "speak" with a planet they had never been to before.  It does explain why the Ancients don't assimilate with the Lifestream when they die and gives Aeris the deus ex machina excuse of helping the party/world through death in the ending, but I can't help but feel it's backwards.  Shouldn't those who settle and remain on the planet be the ones capable of "speaking" with it?

Unrelated, but before the compilation and I had read proper translations of VII's dialogue, I always thought that the Ancients were something akin to Geomancers.  I find that more satisfying than them being aliens. Even if they could have been aliens that came from X-2's world.

Aeolus

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2014, 03:52:38 PM »
I wouldn't entirely go that far.  JENOVA is quite possibly an alien virus,  not a space monster (in the Xenomorph-style) or even a self-reliant organism.  We don't know exactly the time frame of JENOVA's arrival and its relationship with the Ancients to say enough about how much of it falls under the specific cliches you mentioned.  In the virus theory, the reason why JENOVA is initially thought to be an Ancient was because she had infected an Ancient's body.  The body itself was just a random nobody, but the cells contained a viable virus sample.

Which, of course, is entirely another major science fiction cliche in itself.  But cliches and tropes aren't necessarily bad.

In my opinion the worst offender in ridiculousness in the lore was making the Ancients super-powered aliens who could "speak" with a planet they had never been to before.  It does explain why the Ancients don't assimilate with the Lifestream when they die and gives Aeris the deus ex machina excuse of helping the party/world through death in the ending, but I can't help but feel it's backwards.  Shouldn't those who settle and remain on the planet be the ones capable of "speaking" with it?

Unrelated, but before the compilation and I had read proper translations of VII's dialogue, I always thought that the Ancients were something akin to Geomancers.  I find that more satisfying than them being aliens. Even if they could have been aliens that came from X-2's world.

Re: JENOVA. Tomaeto, tomahto. Its why I likened it to the Miticlorians of Parasite Eve in the first place. Whether JENOVA is just a space virus or a space monster made of Cosmic Rays or whatever. She/it serves the same purpose.

As for the Ancients, I thought it was the other way around. The Humans are the ones who came from some primordial ooze off some space rock during prehistory (or maybe a couple of apes hanging off a space rock that used to be a planet until the DOOP mined it hollow for Dark Matter, whatever) while the Ancients were the Planet's original inhabitants until the JENOVA space mutant plague wiped them out. That, to me, is why they had a greater affinity with the Planet versus the Muggle Humans (and then Red's Grandpa's infodump suggests that it really doesn't matter if a person is an Ancient, Human or otherwise, as long as they're living and not a threat to the Planet (the Planet basically puts JENOVA on ice because it can't deal with it otherwise), they'll get sucked into the Lifestream and intermingle shat back out as a new lifeform in a new life). I think that's the implication in regards to Sephiroth's comment to Cloud in Nibelheim (or was it the Temple of the Ancients).
In my vision, I see that one of us is going to KO the other.

Dice

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2014, 06:19:54 PM »
So all this talk of Sephiroth makes me curious if he was [biologically] crazy from the start or developed it naturally from some bad grape-vining from being told he was a descendant of the Ancients (ie; Jenova) when he isn't... Just a human/virus hybrid with a lot of power.  I'm with Cyril though, I don't think the "alien" in this case is a bad trope, just slightly derivative given how Chrono Trigger *just* tackled that plot two years prior (iirc), but not a bad one.  And quite frankly, the implications surrounding it are just as great since Jenova isn't even the *sole* antagonist in this and there's a bigger story at hand.

...Eugh.  Dear lord, imagine making love to this man (with the best/worst concept art ever).



= I love how strange things are after Midgar: You hit up a friendly Chocobo Farm and get chased by a massive-sized snake (...then see it gruesomely impaled less than a minute later)

= I hate talking about Sephiroth as a "man in black cape".  It's a coat, dammit!

= As much fun as it is to make fun of Tetsuya Nomura's designs, I think he did alright with FF7 and 8.  Here, let's look at Seph!
First off, I love that his belt is the same as Cloud's (I assume it's from SOLDIER), I like that his 'armor' takes medieval cues but stays very modern, and finally, I love that his blade looks like its been stained in blood.  Or perhaps it was a conscious decision to show the main party using a "blue shadow" colour scheme, while Sephiroth has 'red' in the shadows. Because red is an evil colour.

But dear lord his anime look is starting to get dated.  He looks like a 90's CLAMP character with "V"-pointy chin and super-broad shoulders.  Plus the leather straps across his chest are odd.  
The main party looks great though; they have a great variety with respects to their design (WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED FF15?!  WHAT HAPP--) that beautifully coincide with the game's modern atmosphere.

= Is it just me or is protecting Fort Condor a waste of time ....and money?
...Love the song that plays there though.  Very mysterious.

= I fucking hate the Rufus parade and any mini-game surrounding it.  From doing CPR (so boring) to the really shitty mechanics in joining the parade.  

= On the other hand, I love the CG cutscene that shows all of Junon and how it makes sense of why the tiny town (where Priscilla and the dolphin is) is so dark. I mean, it's hidden under a giant airship runway (you can just barely make out the lights from the houses).  
Once again it feels like a lot of love went into creating places in this game.

= I like just running into the Turks from time to time.  I just find them a great enemy; they're cool as ice, they're relentless and mean, but really it's just because duty calls (they fall in love and go on vacation and all that).  
I also love their style: When exiting battle, Rude checks his watch and simply walks off like nothing happened or that he has more important places to be.

= Things that wouldn't translate into an HD/Remake Version: Red on 'two legs'. Mind you, for how serious the second half of the boat ride is, the comedy in a tough-badass like Berret wearing a dorky sailor outfit is simply perfect.


= Heidegger: "Alright we've arrived at Costa de Sol!"
Rufus: "The ride felt strange.  Everything okay?"
Heidegger: "Well, we've mysteriously lost most of the crew in the cargo hold due to bizarre circumstances. ...Oh, and Sephiroth was on board and---"
Rufus: "Yeahyea shut the fuck up.  Let's go".
Heidegger: "HAARRHARHAH..HAR... ok...  ... ... ..." *rage push soldiers into the water*

= Did anyone else wish Costa de Sol was real??  I love that the song has a "lobby"-esque sound to it (or like you're listening to a cheesy travel agency video).
*Hasn't been near a beach in 10 years* :(



Now through the mountains to chase the man in the black....coat.  

Till next time
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 06:44:55 PM by Dice »
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Aeolus

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2014, 07:01:35 PM »
One thing to point out about the whole "Man in a Black Cape" bit is that there are a bunch of dudes in Black Capes, or Cloaks in this case. After all, the real Sephiroth is still chilling up at the North Crater, either he through JENOVA or JENOVA itself is controlling the various people in Black Cloaks (I personally think the implication was that when Sephiroth exerts enough control over a host, he can sorta magic the sap into a copy of himself as well as invoke bizarre mutant powers like flight and teleportation; either that, or the Man in the Black Cape isn't Sephiroth at all and its all the screwiness involving Cloud's head and the JENOVA cells inside of him, he's basically seeing Sephiroth and shouting "Sephiroth" and all everyone else can see is some dude who's figure is obscured by a Black Cape/Cloak and just take his word for it; after all you never actually fight Sephiroth prior to the events at the North Crater).

Two funny things about Fort Condor, first is that its a call back to the Battle of Narshe in FFVI (you're defending a location from enemy grunts and you must deploy your troops to halt them), and that its essentially a Tower Defense minigame that predated the establishment of the Tower Defense genre by over a decade. Also you do get some fine rewards for the mini-game, including a Large Materia and the Phoenix Summon Materia, but you have to play through it several times to get those and the later battles unlock based upon story progression. It's also cheap to run through and braindead easy to complete so its easily on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the game's minigame's annoyance factor.

Meanwhile Junon, is pretty much where the second most annoying concentration of minigames are in the game (Icicle Inn's shenanigans like the Snowboarding minigame and the keep your body temperature up bullshit are easily the worst).
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Cyril

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2014, 09:09:55 PM »
Yeah, I absolutely hate the first section in Junon. The only redeeming part of it is Rufus' Ceremony theme. I do enjoy the second visit with Tifa/WEAPON though. That's one of my favorite parts of the game.

Also, since you posted the picture of Mt. Corel, I have to say the song that plays there is one of my favorites.  It seems to mix Anxious Heart (my favorite) and the FFVII main theme.  It also sounds like it has a few notes of FFVI in it by coincidence.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDltRnQ4CiQ

I remember liking the Fort Condor mini-game, but I haven't played it recently so maybe my opinion will have changed.  I think it was my first exposure to tower defense and now that I've played better games in the genre I probably wouldn't like it as much.  Still, I appreciate the variety in the mini-games in VII.

Dincrest

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2014, 09:15:10 PM »
In FF7, I made a sad face when
Code: [Select]
Jessie died.  She was a sweetie-pumpkin.  Mourn forever. 
"I think I'm losing it.  I'm pulling out my hair trying to figure out what couch defines me as a person.  This is freaking madness.  This is hopeless.  This... my perfect little habitat here, and I still don't even know who I am."  - from Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom by Burnt By The Sun

Dice

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2014, 03:08:15 AM »
One thing to point out about the whole "Man in a Black Cape" bit is that there are a bunch of dudes in Black Capes, or Cloaks in this case. After all, the real Sephiroth is still chilling up at the North Crater, either he through JENOVA or JENOVA itself is controlling the various people in Black Cloaks (I personally think the implication was that when Sephiroth exerts enough control over a host, he can sorta magic the sap into a copy of himself as well as invoke bizarre mutant powers like flight and teleportation; either that, or the Man in the Black Cape isn't Sephiroth at all and its all the screwiness involving Cloud's head and the JENOVA cells inside of him, he's basically seeing Sephiroth and shouting "Sephiroth" and all everyone else can see is some dude who's figure is obscured by a Black Cape/Cloak and just take his word for it; after all you never actually fight Sephiroth prior to the events at the North Crater).

Two funny things about Fort Condor, first is that its a call back to the Battle of Narshe in FFVI (you're defending a location from enemy grunts and you must deploy your troops to halt them), and that its essentially a Tower Defense minigame that predated the establishment of the Tower Defense genre by over a decade. Also you do get some fine rewards for the mini-game, including a Large Materia and the Phoenix Summon Materia, but you have to play through it several times to get those and the later battles unlock based upon story progression. It's also cheap to run through and braindead easy to complete so its easily on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the game's minigame's annoyance factor.

Meanwhile Junon, is pretty much where the second most annoying concentration of minigames are in the game (Icicle Inn's shenanigans like the Snowboarding minigame and the keep your body temperature up bullshit are easily the worst).

I realized the Narshe bit when I was staring and planning tactics around the rock bundles.... (FF6 had it where they could NEVER breach your defences if you places your guys in a certain position)!  I like the minigame, but I'm not sure I wanna keep going back for it (for other than Big Mat and Phoe-Phoe).

Icicle Inn, as pretty as it is, I'm not looking forward to. :/

And I admit I didn't think about the Black Cape people part.  They kinda freaked me out, I just remembered them  I kinda wanna get more information on them, I forgot all about it.

Yeah, I absolutely hate the first section in Junon. The only redeeming part of it is Rufus' Ceremony theme. I do enjoy the second visit with Tifa/WEAPON though. That's one of my favorite parts of the game.

Also, since you posted the picture of Mt. Corel, I have to say the song that plays there is one of my favorites.  It seems to mix Anxious Heart (my favorite) and the FFVII main theme.  It also sounds like it has a few notes of FFVI in it by coincidence.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDltRnQ4CiQ

I remember liking the Fort Condor mini-game, but I haven't played it recently so maybe my opinion will have changed.  I think it was my first exposure to tower defense and now that I've played better games in the genre I probably wouldn't like it as much.  Still, I appreciate the variety in the mini-games in VII.

I will add I do prefer Fort Condor to the two versions of it in FF6.  The music isn't as good though. ;)

And yeah, I love that Mt Corel tune.  It's also kind of odd; a real hopeful tune plays right before you hit...what's left of Barret's home area....  But the use of lighting versus the dilapidated scenery make it a pleasant "in between" area.

In FF7, I made a sad face when
Code: [Select]
Jessie died.  She was a sweetie-pumpkin.  Mourn forever.  

I liked her too.  To their credit, there's a ton of great [supporting and main] female characters in Final Fantasy.  The entire AVALANCHE team have little exposure, but worked well with their allotted time to get their own personalities and feel just a LIL' something when they meet an untimely but noble death.

ON WE GO


After a small [Smash Bros] break;
The [literal] Prison Town, the Wonderland, The Canyon



= More adventures in great scenery.  This game is not short of these.

= Seriously, the amount of metal and materials NEEDED to create something the scale and scope of The Gold Saucer is...baffling.  I mean, the individual areas? Ok, but the actual gold/metal pods and beam??.  Goodbye, Gaia, your resources are fucked, with or without Mako/Lifestream energy.

= I think some of the greatest plot points in this game is how simply, effectively, and concisely the "Character Chapters" are told.
Both Barret and Red are great examples of side chapters that have no real bearing on the main plot of the game, but adds great backstory to their character.  Red's misunderstanding about his father changes him from a coward to a still-suffering hero (the shot of his petrified body is really something to look at).  Barret confronts his best friend; a man with the same gun-arm augmentation because they were involved in the same incident against Shinra that claimed their hands while they were trying desperately to flee.  
Tifa too, I like how even though she shares most of her "character backstory" with Cloud, their accounts of the event are detrimentally different.

= Given the absolute motherfucking train wreck and state of North Corel, YOU'D THINK that the Gold Saucer execs, with its CLEARLY INFINITE resources, would buff up the state of the garbage heap shit-hole that transports people in and out of their park --- and more than just its cable cart boarding area (however, I do love the attention to detail that the ONE area does look better than the rest of the town).

= This song.
http://youtu.be/XvmbO9wXMkQ
While I find the FF7 OST much simpler compared to the almost operatic/symphonic style of FF6 (though FF8 is much more hit-or-miss to me), the simplicity and effectiveness of its melodies is perfect (and even despite the crap MIDI quality synths).  Each song suits each location very well and really sets up the mood for the game.

= One stupid reason I love, love, love Tifa?  Because she makes me feel good for having BROWN EYES.  
Squeenix LOVES blue eyes... :(
....sha la la la la la dee dah~

= I forgot Deathblow.  Is it a good materia or can I just move on with my life?

= Yeah, I brought Tifa and Aeris to Gongaga.  It's strange, creepy, and wonderful how both girls were involved with Zack, neither feels terribly contrived (although it does make you question Aeris' attraction to Cloud....I doubt he'd care).
 
= Cosmo Canyon is so fucking cool.  Some point between the literal down-to-earth decor, the mild native influence (a weapon shop called Tiger Lily's is a cute touch), that catchy tune, etc.  


= On that note, Bugenhagen's lecture on the lifestream is brilliantly done.  I love the song that plays and I love that the first few notes are the same heard in the opening Bombing Mission tune as well
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVuvUKTixes#t=19
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Holykael1

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2014, 06:42:58 AM »
Your impressions are awesome, really makes me want to replay the game. Must resist those urges though, whenever I touch FF7 again I want to see the whole compilation through to the end(even with it's disasters, I do like Crisis Core and enjoy AC on a superficial level).

Dincrest

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2014, 07:42:30 AM »
I think some of the greatest plot points in this game is how simply, effectively, and concisely the "Character Chapters" are told.
Both Barret and Red are great examples of side chapters that have no real bearing on the main plot of the game, but adds great backstory to their character.  Red's misunderstanding about his father changes him from a coward to a still-suffering hero (the shot of his petrified body is really something to look at).  Barret confronts his best friend; a man with the same gun-arm augmentation because they were involved in the same incident against Shinra that claimed their hands while they were trying desperately to flee.  
Tifa too, I like how even though she shares most of her "character backstory" with Cloud, their accounts of the event are detrimentally different.



That's one of my favorite overall themes in the game- how every character believes something that is untrue. 
"I think I'm losing it.  I'm pulling out my hair trying to figure out what couch defines me as a person.  This is freaking madness.  This is hopeless.  This... my perfect little habitat here, and I still don't even know who I am."  - from Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom by Burnt By The Sun

Damacon

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2014, 10:19:55 AM »
  One thing I will never forget is how I felt when I first escaped Midgar, I thought the whole game was going to take place in Midgar since it seemed so huge like a world of its own. Then out of no where I am making my escape with a awesome motorcycle mini game to freedom and when I was finally free I was greeted by this beautiful colorful world full of adventure.

 I had the same feeling in FF13 when you finally get off the one way areas out into the open fields but I was greeted by the most annoying combat and endless grinding that I never want to remember.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2014, 10:22:08 AM by Damacon »

Aeolus

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Re: Dice plays FF7 (Sponsored by Maxx)
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2014, 06:42:59 PM »
*snip*

I realized the Narshe bit when I was staring and planning tactics around the rock bundles.... (FF6 had it where they could NEVER breach your defences if you places your guys in a certain position)!  I like the minigame, but I'm not sure I wanna keep going back for it (for other than Big Mat and Phoe-Phoe).

Icicle Inn, as pretty as it is, I'm not looking forward to. :/

And I admit I didn't think about the Black Cape people part.  They kinda freaked me out, I just remembered them  I kinda wanna get more information on them, I forgot all about it.

*snip*

I will add I do prefer Fort Condor to the two versions of it in FF6.  The music isn't as good though. ;)

And yeah, I love that Mt Corel tune.  It's also kind of odd; a real hopeful tune plays right before you hit...what's left of Barret's home area....  But the use of lighting versus the dilapidated scenery make it a pleasant "in between" area.

*snip*

I liked her too.  To their credit, there's a ton of great [supporting and main] female characters in Final Fantasy.  The entire AVALANCHE team have little exposure, but worked well with their allotted time to get their own personalities and feel just a LIL' something when they meet an untimely but noble death.

ON WE GO


After a small [Smash Bros] break;
The [literal] Prison Town, the Wonderland, The Canyon



= More adventures in great scenery.  This game is not short of these.

= Seriously, the amount of metal and materials NEEDED to create something the scale and scope of The Gold Saucer is...baffling.  I mean, the individual areas? Ok, but the actual gold/metal pods and beam??.  Goodbye, Gaia, your resources are fucked, with or without Mako/Lifestream energy.

= I think some of the greatest plot points in this game is how simply, effectively, and concisely the "Character Chapters" are told.
Both Barret and Red are great examples of side chapters that have no real bearing on the main plot of the game, but adds great backstory to their character.  Red's misunderstanding about his father changes him from a coward to a still-suffering hero (the shot of his petrified body is really something to look at).  Barret confronts his best friend; a man with the same gun-arm augmentation because they were involved in the same incident against Shinra that claimed their hands while they were trying desperately to flee.  
Tifa too, I like how even though she shares most of her "character backstory" with Cloud, their accounts of the event are detrimentally different.

= Given the absolute motherfucking train wreck and state of North Corel, YOU'D THINK that the Gold Saucer execs, with its CLEARLY INFINITE resources, would buff up the state of the garbage heap shit-hole that transports people in and out of their park --- and more than just its cable cart boarding area (however, I do love the attention to detail that the ONE area does look better than the rest of the town).

= This song.
http://youtu.be/XvmbO9wXMkQ
While I find the FF7 OST much simpler compared to the almost operatic/symphonic style of FF6 (though FF8 is much more hit-or-miss to me), the simplicity and effectiveness of its melodies is perfect (and even despite the crap MIDI quality synths).  Each song suits each location very well and really sets up the mood for the game.

= One stupid reason I love, love, love Tifa?  Because she makes me feel good for having BROWN EYES.  
Squeenix LOVES blue eyes... :(
....sha la la la la la dee dah~

= I forgot Deathblow.  Is it a good materia or can I just move on with my life?

= Yeah, I brought Tifa and Aeris to Gongaga.  It's strange, creepy, and wonderful how both girls were involved with Zack, neither feels terribly contrived (although it does make you question Aeris' attraction to Cloud....I doubt he'd care).
 
= Cosmo Canyon is so fucking cool.  Some point between the literal down-to-earth decor, the mild native influence (a weapon shop called Tiger Lily's is a cute touch), that catchy tune, etc.  


= On that note, Bugenhagen's lecture on the lifestream is brilliantly done.  I love the song that plays and I love that the first few notes are the same heard in the opening Bombing Mission tune as well
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVuvUKTixes#t=19

The Narshe Defense battles are more about attrition than anything else really. Fort Condor is more of a question of how much money are you willing to sink into this minigame. At least its quite a bit more RTS than the Narshe stuff since you can't just out-level the competition and you have to pay attention to what troops you use and what remains.

You'll be seeing the Black Caped people soon enough. Nibelheim and the North Crater are where they show up in force.

My issue with the character chapters in FFVII is that unlike in FFVI where they were more necessary, this particular part of FFVII is basically where the game spends its time giving the characters who really don't matter to the main plot of the game their moment in the spotlight (and really, even FFVI revisited character arcs at least once more; Gau, Setzler, and Mog are the only ones who really get shortchanged on this (and Mog kinda falls in with Umaro and Gogo in optional character status)). Once these are done, Red's and Barret's role in the plot consists of little more than adding their own flavor of commentary (and in Barret's case, maybe a date with Cloud). When you think about it, of the Midgar 5, these two are kinda stragglers to the main plot (Cloud and Tifa both have Nibelheim, Sephiroth, and each other; Aeris/th has a bunch of stuff implied with Zack, her Parents, the whole Ancients business and the end of disk 1; and the others didn't join till later and thus will receive their development later or are optional). Hell, even Yuffie has two segments to herself even though she's optional.

Deathblow is a good Materia for when you get it since its quite literally Critical Hits on Command, but eventually it will become less relevant as enemies gain more Deathblow resistance, that damage cap rears its ugly head and Double Cut comes along. Its also required as one of the seven Command Materia needed to make a Master Command Materia.

At least there are definitely good reasons to like North Coral and Cosmo Canyon, even if I feel like that whole segment drags like hell (especially you Desert Prison). That said, Gongaga Village to me has always been little more than a Wide Spot on the Road with a random (and much easier) fight with the Turks (seriously, Seal Evil is hilariously gamebreaking for when you have it, getting Vincent on your first pass through Nibelheim proper is hella easy with it) and a Titan Materia.
In my vision, I see that one of us is going to KO the other.