– Costa Del Sol and Mt. Corel-
With no further interruptions, the ship finally makes it across the ocean and docks at Costa Del Sol, a beachside resort town. As soon as it stops, our whole party rushes off the ship before anyone can see us. We get together for a quick group huddle and Barret tells us all to just try to blend in like regular tourists.
The girls, however, can’t pass up the opportunity to make fun of Barret and how “Cute” he looked in that sailor outfit. Of course, Barret becomes incredibly defensive and eventually storms off followed shortly after by everyone else going their own ways.
Lucky for us, everyone ran out of there just in time to miss being seen by Rufus and Heidegger as they got off the ship as well. Rufus doesn’t seem too happy about everything that happened during the trip. Obviously, Sephiroth was spotted on board, but so was our entire party. Even with how many soldier were on board, not member of our party was captured during the trip. Instead we were simply given a free ride courtesy of Shinra.
After digging into Heidegger for his obvious incompetence, Rufus boards the nearby helicopter and rushes off, most likely to continue his search for Sephiroth. Heidegger meanwhile vents his frustrations by throwing people off the docks and into the ocean. After knocking a few sailors into the water, he even turns his attention to the random locals that also happen to be on the docks at the moment.
As we explore the small town, we gradually run into everyone. Red XIII found a nice spot in the shade to rest in, but is still managing to use his tail to play pass with some of the local kids. Yuffie somehow managed to score a part time job at the Materia Shop in the few minutes since we saw her last. And Barret, hilariously, is trying on that sailor outfit again and checking himself out in the bathroom mirror.
It just so happens, we manage to run into one other familiar face while checking out the beach. Lounging out on a beach chair, surrounded by girls in swimsuits, is none other than Professor Hojo, the mad scientist that thought he could breed Aerith and Red XIII.
Even though Hojo is relaxing right now, he admits that he is also in search of Sephiroth. Though he didn’t go into much detail before a side thought popped into his head. Out of nowhere he starts asking Cloud if he ever feels like someone was calling out to him, or that he had a sudden urge to just go somewhere.
Cloud answers with the typical response that he’ll go wherever Sephiroth is. This seems to have been an acceptable answer to Hojo and he quickly falls back into his mad scientist ways, asking Cloud if he would like to become his new guinea pig.
Hearing that, it looks as if Cloud is just going to cut Hojo in half right here and now. Thankfully, Tifa manages to talk some reason into him.
Hojo doesn’t let any of this get to him, his attention has already shifted to Aerith. He remembers her as the ancient and starts up a conversation with her. Aerith, however, quickly takes over the conversation asking questions of her own. She already knew she was an ancient, her real mother had told her that much. But she wants to know if she and Sephiroth are related since the two of them are both ancients.
To this, Hojo refuses to give us an answer. Instead he just mumbles a bit and tells us to head west. We try to pressure him to explain what he means by that, but it doesn’t do any good. He’s done talking to us, and nothing we can do will change that. We might as well just head back to the inn and get ready to head west like he suggested.
We wake up early the next morning, and get another piece of information. Apparently one of the sunbathers saw a man in a black cloak rise up out of the water the other day. She’s not sure, but she thinks she saw him holding tickets for the Gold Saucer. Technically, that’s also west from here, so we might as well check that out as well.
Just outside of Costa Del Sol, we can already see the Gold Saucer in the distance. Unfortunately, there is a river blocking our path, making it impossible to get there on foot. Instead, we’ll have to take the long way by heading through Mt Corel. However, before we even make it past the foot of the mountain, we run into an injured man telling us about a man in a black cloak that passed by just before us. The injured man warned him that the mountain was dangerous, but he ignored the advice and went on ahead anyway.
Our group isn’t so arrogant as to ignore such a warning, so for the moment we return to Cota Del Sol to stock up on supplies. In the process we learn that Yuffie’s little part time job the other day was more profitable than we thought. Not only did she get paid for her time, but it turns out she also ran off with all the money and even some Materia. I don’t know where she’s keeping it, because she definitely isn’t sharing it with the group…
Yuffie’s theft aside, we should really stock up on Soft potions. Several people in town have been talking about them, which leads me to believe there are monsters on Mt Corel that can cause petrification. Being petrified is basically the same as being dead, so we want to avoid that as much as possible.
Now that we’re prepared, we head back to Mt. Corel and start our hike over the top of it. Quite to our surprise, we actually come across what looks like another Mako Reactor right there in the middle of the mountain range. What’s especially weird about this Reactor is that all the lights are on, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is home. Like it’s been abandoned or something.
We take a moment to explore the area around the reactor, but ultimately find nothing of interest. What we DO find, however, is the enemy Cokatolis. Clearly based on the Cockatrice, this must be the enemy we were warned about that would cause petrification. We can’t be sure though, because we never gave it a chance to attack. Instead we cooked it like the giant chicken it is!
1 – Character Death & 0 – Game Overs
Sadly, this didn’t protect us from the next enemy we encountered, a Bomb. Bombs are very dangerous enemies that tend to explode upon death. I remembered this, but I didn’t remember how powerful that explosion was. It actually ended up being strong enough to knock Cloud out of the battle. So finally, after almost 14 hours of play, we have our first character death. I’m actually kind of proud we lasted this long without one.
Thankfully, we’re well stocked on Phoenix Down and we get Cloud back up on his feet pretty quickly. Following this incident we find ourselves walking along the mine cart tracks as they rise and fall like a roller coaster. This spot of the game is actually very memorable for me because it was this section of the game that was presented as part of the demo I had. I must have played that demo a dozen times before I managed to buy the game.
Even though I played this section so many times, it wasn’t until THIS playthrough that I FINALLY understood how to get the treasures hidden in this area. Certain parts of the track are weak and fall out from under Cloud as he walks over them. As he falls, we’re given the prompt to move left or right while pressing the O Button to get the treasure. No matter what I did while climbing back up, I could never get Cloud to move left or right while climbing. But I finally got it, we were supposed to be pressing it AS HE FALLS to make him flap his little arms and try to fly. This makes him move over left or right to collect the treasures as he climbs straight up. I can’t believe it took me 20 years to figure that out.
Having finally solved a puzzle that has plagued me for my entire adult life, we meet up with the rest of the gang on the bridge. Apparently they are a bit trapped at the moment because the drawbridge is up, so they can’t cross right now. Thankfully, the solution is obvious. There is a small shack along the upper tracks that most likely has the switch for the drawbridge. We just have to head up there quick and let the bridge down for all of us to cross.
With the drawbridge down, we continue on our way around the mountain and quickly find ourselves crossing a rather long rope bridge. Now this is just me, but that sounds like a terrible idea. You NEVER want to have train tracks on a swinging rope bridge. That’s just ASKING for the train to derail and kill everyone. With how long this thing is, I don’t even feel comfortable WALKING across it. It’s probably going to break just like that other bridge back in Mt Nibel.
As soon as we make it across, we end up walking right into a little tent town built along the tracks. It looks like Barret has run ahead of us and for some reason is just standing there being punched in the face. From what we overhear, it looks like Barret used to live here a long time ago, and something must have happened to get him kicked out of town.
We gather from the mostly one sided conversation that whatever Barret did in the past is the reason this is a tent town instead of a proper city. He must still feel bad about whatever happened, because the only thing Barret managed to say during the onslaught was a weak “… I’m sorry…”
We try to get more information out of Barret, but he doesn’t tell us much. He just admits to being the reason the town was destroyed and then runs off on us. After that, all we can do is talk to the people living here to see what they have to say. But once again no one has much to tell us. We do gather an interesting piece of advice though. One of the men saw the man in the black cape head towards the Ropeway to the Gold Saucer. So at least we know we’re on the right path.
Once we talk to everyone we can, we finally corner Barret by the Ropeway and make him tell us what happened. Reluctantly he opens up and we get to hear why everyone seems to hate him so much. He tells us that his home town used to be around here, but it’s gone now, and the few survivors have been forced to take refuge here.
The town of Corel had always been a coal mining town for generations. But a few years ago, Shinra had taken an interest in the area and wanted to construct a Mako Reactor just outside town. Everyone in Corel thought it was a good idea, and backed Shinra all the way. Everyone except a man named Dyne. He felt they should have more respect for their own history and keep the town a coal mining town.
After some discussion, Barret and the other townspeople managed to talk Dyne into the idea. People weren’t using Coal anymore. If they wanted to survive, they would have to evolve with the times and switch to Mako like everyone else. With Dyne reluctantly on board, Shinra was given the green light, and construction was started on the Mako Reactor.
Everyone thought it would make their lives so much easier, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. Shortly after construction was finished, Shinra Troops stormed the town, burning it to the ground, killing everyone in sight.
But why would Shinra burn down a whole town completely unprovoked like that? Well, according to Barret, there was an explosion at the reactor. Without evidence, Shinra simply blamed “A Rebel Faction” living in the town. Rather than try to find the ones responsible, Shinra just burned the whole town to the ground. Ironically, Barret’s survival of this attack motivated him to found AVALANCHE, creating the supposed rebel faction Shinra was trying to destroy.
Because Barret was such a vocal supporter of the Mako Reactor, he holds himself personally responsible for everything that happened to the town as a result. Tifa sees it differently though. He was lied to, just like everyone else. He can’t blame himself for the terrible things Shinra did back then.
Even so, Barret can’t stop feeling responsible. Had he not helped convince everyone to go along with the Mako Reactor, all his friends and family would probably still be alive. It’s a touching story, but not touching enough for the ropeway operator. Finally annoyed with our hanging out on the platform, they yell at us to hurry up and get on already! So I guess we’ll have to continue this story another time. Right now, we need to head to the Gold Saucer and have some fun! I mean… look for Sephiroth… I think I saw him on the roller coasters. We should go there first.