crisis core

Marathon Look-Back #2, Reviews

Well, it’s that time again: time to look back at a long period of gaming spanning several years in both development and playtime. The last time we did this, we were covering the NES, SNES and GB eras, plus their direct continuations. The games we’ll be covering this time are all the PSX-era RPGs and their continuations, basically everything we played after FFVI and up to the present day, including six Final Fantasy games (seven if you count Before Crisis), three Persona games, two Final Fantasy movies, and one Final Fantasy TV show. This is proximate to our last look-back in terms of product count (our last Look-Back covered twelve Final Fantasy games, one OVA, and the undersized FFII Soul of Rebirth and FFIV Interlude), but represents way more blog posts overall. The Directory was really getting unwieldy. Admittedly, as Kyle comments in one of his reviews, all these spinoffs and sequels are going to make this something of a FFVII-centric post, but it’s how it’s gotta be.


Final Fantasy Marathon Look-Back: The Worst Dungeons!

We’ll open with the same screenshot, just like playing the actual dungeon!

So, during my most recent FFVIII post, I was discussing my least favourite dungeon in the entire Final Fantasy Marathon, D-District Prison. For point of reference, I also threw some shade on my previous least-favourite dungeon, the Ronka Ruins from FFV. But as I added in an edit after the fact, I actually replayed FFV not long after FFVIII, and realized I didn’t dislike the Ronka Ruins as much as I remembered. If you want to see my comments on those two dungeons, check out that post. In this post, I’m going to follow up those thoughts by trying to work out my new #2 least-favourite dungeon!

Now, some quick standards. Because not every FF game has “dungeons,” we’re going to be weighing whatever each game considers to be a distinct “unit of play.” That means dungeons in the traditional RPGs, any chapter/stage in the stage-based games, or any battle or fixed series of battles in FFT (spoiler: there are no FFT battles on this list, not even the duel with Wiegraf. But I thought it would be nice to have that rule in case we revisit this list after playing FFTA!). Also, this is only for games we’ve covered in the Final Fantasy Marathon at the time of writing (in the middle of FFVIII), and for Final Fantasy alone. If I had allowed Persona 1 dungeons, there’d be nothing else on the fucking list, so I am happy to dismiss it. No TV episodes or films either, both because they’re so different and because, like Persona 1, LotC and FFU would just dominate the list. With that out of the way, let’s take the the dungeons in Marathon order.


FFVII Crisis Core – Banora Wipeout

Let’s go on to things that were definitely in our final session. We decided to go back to the Yuffie plotline and finish off Bahamut Fury to complete our set of summons and acquire “all characters” as per our Marathon goal. As it happened, we rolled a Summon on the DMW during the battle, prompting one of us to shout: “Help me, Bahamut!” We rolled Ifrit instead. Such a disappointment. In return for getting all of the DMW entries, we were also rewarded with the Fury Ring, a ring that allowed counterattacks.


FFVII Crisis Core – Just a little nap

When Zack recovers, it’s only enough to open his eyes to see Hojo carrying Cloud off on a stretcher, saying that “He’ll make a fine test subject!” Next thing we know, we’re in the next chapter, where Zack is having a vision of Angeal scolding him. As the vision ends, Zack discovers he’s in some sort of tube, like Jenova’s, except his is in the Shinra manor basement laboratory. After a dreamlike CG wherein Zack remarks that he now wants wings like Angeal’s, Zack wakes to find the tube shattered. Zack shakes off the butterflies despite glowing green, and punches out a research assistant. As you do. He then finds Cloud in a neighbouring tube and lets him out, but Cloud does not wake. Now that Zack has let Cloud out of this tube without checking on him or his medical charts, I’d like to tell you some fun trivia! In Dirge of Cerberus, which was made before this game, we see one of these tubes being used because the guy inside has a big hole in his chest and they were trying to heal it! Or he’d die! A big hole, just like Cloud had in the previous scene! Neat, huh? Just thought I’d bring that up. No reason!


FFVII Crisis Core – Falling: The Useless Killer

Our next session started with Zack and Kunsel being separated for what would prove to be the last time, only for Zack to reunite with Cloud at his briefing for the mission! Buddies! Soon, Cloud had rounded up a total of three guardsmen (including himself) to go with Zack and Sepiroth on the mission, which Sepiroth finally revealed was to the village of Nibelheim, for any FFVII fans who hadn’t already worked that out. That started Chapter 9, and Crisis Core’s recreation of the famous flashback from FFVII. And that means it’s time for us to see just how many of the flashback’s elements no longer make any damned sense when put into their “proper” context.


FFVII Crisis Core – Umbrella Braver

After yet another time skip, we follow up Zack’s inspiring speech to the new SOLDIERS with news that while Hollander has been arrested, Zack has been put on standby, the company is in shambles, Zack’s being spied on by the Turks, SOLDIER is utterly disrespected, and Zack has no motivation. This is probably meant to contrast the bittersweet previous scene involving a group full of happy new SOLDIERs and Zack inspiring them with the motivation he tries to live by, but it’s so much all at once that it almost contradicts the scene instead!


FFVII Crisis Core – Quadriceps of Steel

After the usual post-chapter time skip, we learned that Sephiroth locked himself away in the data room, looking up Hollander’s data. Hey, good for him, I’m glad to see him so studious, I’m sure we can trust him in any instances where he might lock himself away reading research data in the future. After this brief introduction, Zack was called by Aerith to come work on the flower wagon.

Of course, Kyle and I continued to be min-maxing little shits. We went looking for missing side-missions, to make sure we weren’t locked out of any by proceeding too far through the story. Kyle was insistent that, even though the Summon DMW was buried so deep in the slots that it was almost useless, we should nevertheless recruit every Summon as part of our Marathon objective to “recruit every character.” For all we knew, being locked out of side-missions might have prevented us from doing that, so we used a guide to track them down. We were now in Chapter 6, which is where the last of the missable side-missions is unlocked: namely, you get an order to track down Wutai spies in the Shinra company, and each one of them returns a side-mission once caught.


FFVII Crisis Core – Petnapping

Zack woke up in the next chapter, thinking he was hearing the voice of his mother. This one line does, in fact, seem to be voiced by a unique character for a single line of dialogue, but I’m afraid I can’t find a credit for the actress! The whole scene starts becoming really Freudian when Zack wakes up and meets Aerith Gainsborough, one of the future party members of FFVII, and immediately gets a crush on her. Aerith is just a year younger than Zack, though it’s hard to say exactly how old, considering Crisis Core spans a fair chunk of time and it’s never clear exactly how much of it has passed at any given moment (although a look at the wiki timeline suggests that Zack and Aerith are both 16 and 15, respectively. Yeah, sure). While I can’t place the voice of “Zack’s mother,” Aerith is voiced by Andrea Bowen, my favourite actor in the role. Bowen would go on to cameo in the role in Dissida 012 and actually appears in an unrelated bit part in Advent Children. While she’s never voiced Aerith in Kingdom Hearts, my Kingdom Hearts-covering gut instinct is to point out that she voiced Faline in Bambi II. Besides voice acting, Bowen is also known for live acting and music.


FFVII Crisis Core – Zack! Zack? Zaaaaaaack!

At the start of the next chapter, Zack reported the Wutai War was over, and then grumbled and added: “Everyone’s real happy.” Naturally, this implies another time skip, and naturally we’re not given any specifics. Sephiroth then called him on his cell phone, ordering him to the director’s room. It’s been a few months, but judging from my notes, Kyle and I found the idea of great, grand, big-bad Sephiroth calling Zack casually on a cell phone to be hilarious.


FFVII Crisis Core – Detonating an Old Lady

Heading out of town the other side, Tseng called us to a cliff side which overlooked a factory just outside of town. It seemed Genesis’ forces were using the factory as a base, and Tseng ordered us to “attack from above” rather than approach through the front doors like an idiot. You know, like in the last mission. And every other mission in the game. Tseng may be a trifle bit better at the whole “tactics” thing than Zack, I think. Around this point in the game, we received a company-wide email from Lazard, talking vaguely about an “unspeakably tragic incident” (presumably the defections at large) and babbling somewhat incomprehensibly about biological and non-biological ties leading to “ill-blood,” and trying to focus on risk prevention in the future.