Chapter 24: Limit Breaking Concerto
Chapter 24 begins with a shot of each of the Turks in a stylish, collage CG – including Legend, which may cnfirm that his bonus episode was out by now. Also, this CG must play even if you haven’t unlocked him, right? I can’t imagine this early cell phone game going to the trouble of loading two full-screen CGs!
The game recaps the events of Chapter 23, and we pick up on the highway. Reno and Rude aren’t able to believe that Tseng shot the boss, and refuse to get on the truck with him as he rides with the bodies. The two are left behind, despite Tseng repeatedly nudging them to follow and so learn the truth of his deception.
Chapter 23: On a Runaway Train to Certain Doom
Chapter 23 opens by turning back a few minutes, where we see Shotgun place a phone call to an unknown party to take care of Elfé. While this is happening, the game informs us that “there were many who were unaware of the coming crisis.” What, unaware of the giant light show outside? The game shows President Shinra and Rufus as examples, two people who should absolutely be getting a call about this, but whatever, President Shinra’s creepy, evil pride in having his son back is still interesting in its own right, now that the man’s a fully (or near-fully) fleshed character instead of a cartoon. Anyways, this is the game’s excuse for why no one talks about the giant final boss fight that took place not long before the start of FFVII, despite the two of them standing in an office with huge windows, and it is simply pathetic.
We next learn that Tseng’s group has recovered Elfé and reunited her with her father. As a matter of fact, she’s on her feet! Sort of! The two have a brief chat, Elfé dealing with a lot guilt over hosting Zirconiade. Unfortunately, the group is just getting ready to leave when they’re found by some Shinra Grunts, who are apparently also so invested in their current activities that they haven’t noticed a magical nebulae the size of the Burj Khalifa, which by all signs is not a hundred yards from their current location!
Chapter 22-2: Threatening to Shatter the Very Firmament, Continued
Verdot’s voice from the past reaches out to Tseng in the present, and empower Tseng to somehow take down the robots that nearly wiped him, Rude and Reno combined. After getting everyone back on their feet offscreen, the trio continue their rescue attempt.
Back with our main protagonist, Shotgun is for some reason wondering why AVALANCHE kidnapped Elena. She… already told you this, lady, she’s a witness and they’re just looking for a place to dump her corpse. But it turns out there really is more of it: we cut to the Ravens, who contact Fuhito to inform him that they captured Elena as some sort of pre-arranged objective.
Meanwhile, Sears is running around Wall Market, having apparently learned there’s a way to summon a “Perfect Zirconiade.” “Who knew that there was a way to summon a perfect Zirconiade?” And that I’d learn about it in the Honey Bee Inn! Unfortunately for him, he’s been found by Fuhito, who had previously hinted that he had a loose end to tie up, i.e. Sears himself. It seems Fuhito’s brought Elfé with him in a truck, and is preparing for the summoning. Fuhito demands the doomsday materia that Sears is holding, and Sears rationalizes that there’s no harm in doing so: he plans to summon Zirconiade anyways, and all that really matters is that he be near enough to the materia to break it after the fact. He surrenders.
If Ririn’s playthrough can be taken literally, and the clues suggest that it might, Episode 22 part 1 and part 2 are interrupted by an update containing one of the game’s bonus episodes. As Tseng will later make reference to the bonus episode, it’s clear it was released at least before Episode 22-2, though I guess we can’t be positive that it was released after or along with 22-1. Episode Tseng is the earliest playable segment in FFVII’s timeline, occurring in “mu 1997,” the previous era, which the opening narration points out is before Kalm was shelled by Verdot’s incompetent artillery crew. As you can expect, we’ll be exploring that time when Verdot saved Tseng’s life.
We get started in Costa Del Sol, where Tseng, using the sames sprites he’s had this entire game, is investigating the curious kidnapping of an otherwise unremarkable reactor guard. The kidnappers took him onboard one of Shinra’s own cargo ships, and Tseng contacts Verdot to tell him that he’s going to look for the control room. Unlike Tseng, Verdot is not using his current sprite, but the younger one that we accidentally got during the rating sequence of Episode 19 for no adequately explained reason. Along with a few missing wrinkles, young Verdot doesn’t yet have a facial scar.
Chapter 22-1: Threatening to Shatter the Very Firmament
It seems that this episode was released in halves, and perhaps in an even more complicated fashion that we’ll get into later. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! We’re too shitfaced to get ahead of ourselves. Well, Shotgun is, anyways.
We start the chapter by learning that Tseng still hasn’t been kicked out of Top Secert Turks HQ, and is trying to hack his way to find Verdot’s location. Reno is there, but they’re otherwise alone. It’s now one day to Verdot’s execution, and the other Turks, true to their character from FFVII, can now be found in a dive bar.
Chapter 21: Ready to Head to the Finale
That chapter title might be a little overeager, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, even if it wants us to. As a related, but more general, narrative complaint, I want to mention about how the ongoing, “plot coupon” structure is leaving us with no tension in the build-up to the finale. We’re one plot coupon away from the finale and this doesn’t rightly feel any different from the last few missions, or honestly better than filler in general.
Chapter 20: Accepting the Price of their Resolve
The chapters get longer again from here on out, and part of that is because enemies are catching up to Ririn, forcing combats to run for more than three seconds. This one in particular is probably the longest single chapter in the game in Ririn’s playthrough, so let’s get to it!
We’re in Shinra HQ, where several grunts have found Cait Sith lying on the floor, and mistake him for a doll. They take to talking about work: these grunts are looking for Turks HQ to spy on them on orders from Scarlet (who doesn’t know that the Turks have Rufus locked up and that the big boss doesn’t want anyone to learn about him). Luckily for the “heroes,” no one knows where Turks HQ actually is inside the labyrinthine HQ. Really? I’m not so hung up on the secret HQ so much as the fact that the Turks are really still inside the building, after your open betrayal. Fuck’s sake. After the guards say as much, the Cait Sith doll gets up and walks away.
Chapter 19: The Choices Made in the Beginning and the End
Grimoire Valentine normally adds a sprite of Grimoire-Valentine-the-character next to the mission title while Ririn’s game is loading the chapters, but today he substitutes Lucretia. I should note that neither sprite is used by the game itself: they’re either impeccably on-model fanart, or were created by the BC team for some other purpose.
December 19th: Zack and Cloud break out of the Nibelheim Manor… through a side door or window… before moving right in front of the open main doors. A hell of an opening shot. We cut away to the surrounding forests, where Shotgun has arrived with orders to capture the “samples,” preferably before the army finds them, fights them, gets mowed down in an emotionless massacre on Zack’s part, that sort of thing.
Chapter 18: The Howl Echoing Through Heaven and Earth
Chapter 18 begins with Shotgun waking up after being in a coma for some time. The two new Turks are here to meet you: Katana (Male), also known as Balto, and Shuriken (Female), also known as our old friend, Cissnei from Crisis Core! Oddly, Grimoire switches to proper names for the new Turks in this scene, probably because of Cissnei. The game uses later parts of this scene to establish that the two of them have been with the Turks for a while, just not in Shotgun’s group, which the writers would later loophole as an excuse to put Cissnei into CC.
Very bad news: Shotgun’s been in a coma for three years. Balto tells you this almost right away, making me wish he had been the one to meet up with Zack, since Cissnei entirely fucking forgot to convey a certain similar bit of information, as you may recall. The translation is a little wonky here, as Cissnei either credits your coma or your survival to the pyramid materia, which they’ve apparently been keeping by your side this entire time, perhaps even under that suspicion if Cissnei was trying to imply the latter.
Chapter 17: Fangs of Chaos
Thoughts on semiotics in Final Fantasy: when the game says “Fangs of Chaos,” am I supposed to think of the literal fangs of the demon Chaos, progenitor of evil in the Final Fantasy series? Because I do, even if they didn’t intend that.
This is a shorter chapter overall, as will several of the ones to follow! Ririn has taken between 30-40 minutes for every chapter from Chapter 4 to Chapter 16, but all of a sudden we regress to the 20-30 minute range for a stretch. Maybe the money was running out, or maybe design sensibilities were changing as the months went by, who can say? My gut instinct is to bundle up two or so small chapters into the same posts, but since I’m still stalling for time with regards to P2EP, maybe it’s best if I settle for short posts for a few weeks. In fact, I just managed to line things up so that BC and P2EP will end on the same week by setting up some full-sized EP posts, at which point we can move on to the next game (FFIX) without any left-over mess!