Final Fantasy VII (PSone) – Part 11 – The Gold Saucer

– The Gold Saucer-

So with Barret’s story cut short, we all climb aboard the ropeway car and set off for the Gold Saucer, a giant amusement park. During the ride, I can’t help but notice the animators weren’t really paying any attention to the direction the ropeway car was facing. When we left North Corel, it was clearly heading with the propellers in front pulling it up the rope. But as we see in the cut scene, it now has the propellers in back pushing it. Then we get to the station and the propellers are suddenly in front again. Also, if this is the only entrance to the Gold Saucer, why is North Corel still a tent town? They should be making TONS of money just from foot traffic to the park.

Anyway, we head to the entrance and buy our tickets. Apparently there is a special they run. We can either pay 3,000 gil for a day pass, or we can spend 30,000 for a lifetime pass. I do plan to come back here occasionally, unfortunately we simply can’t afford a lifetime pass right now. Also we may have wanted to gather more money before we came here, because apparently we’ll have to exchange some of our money for GP while we’re at the park. It’s a special currency that is only used here at the park. Kind of like arcade tokens I guess.

Once inside, we gather at the main lobby and start to plan our day. Aerith is the first to get excited about being at an amusement park. And even knowing it probably isn’t a good time, considering the bad memories Barret just dragged up, she tries to tell him to cheer up while he’s here. But it would seem those memories were a bit too painful for Barret, and he simply isn’t in the mood at all for an amusement park right now.

Aerith quickly brushes off Barret’s bad mood and starts clinging to Cloud as if they’re ready to go off on a date. This apparently catches Tifa off guard, since Aerith usually isn’t this heartless with people. But from the sounds of it, it looks like it’s all an act. A little bit of reverse psychology, trying to trick Barret into cheering up. It’s a great plan, or it would be, if Barret was perhaps a 5 years old child upset about not being allowed to eat candy for breakfast instead of being an adult upset that he set in motion the brutal slaughter of an entire town…

Predictably, this goes very wrong very quickly. Barret lashes out at the whole party before running off to the Wonder Square. Now gone, Aerith makes the brilliant observation that perhaps Barret is a little mad right now… yeah, I would say he is…

We should probably go after him. Who knows what kind of trouble he’ll get in if he’s this upset. Not to mention he has a machine gun for an arm. I’m pretty sure security is going to notice that before too long. We take Aerith with us, so she can apologize, and follow Barret over to the Wonder Square. However, before we can even start looking for him, we get spotted by what might be one of the parks mascots, asking why we look so sad.

Apparently this mascot is actually a fortune telling machine and is asking if we want a reading. Its name is… Wait, we get to name it? But we only get to name party members. WHY THE HELL IS THIS THING SUDDENLY JOINING OUR PARTY?! Anyway, its name is Cait Sith, and I guess it will be joining our party from now on.

Cait Sith claims to be able to predict the future, find missing people and things, pretty much anything you can do with predictions. So, Cloud asks him where they can find Sephiroth. In response, he gives a few generic predictions, basically the kind you would likely find in a fortune cookie. Cloud was ready to give up on him, but he made one last attempt and gave the ominous “What you pursue will be yours. But you will lose something dear.” Apparently, this is the first time he has every given a prediction like that, and he’s not entirely sure what it means. If he doesn’t find out, he simply won’t be able to relax, so he’s going to join our party until he finds out what it means. There we go, that’s how and why he joins our party…

We really don’t have any say in the matter as he joins our party, so there’s no point getting worked up over it. What we need to do is find Barret. At least that’s what the plan WAS before we found out the Wonder Square is basically an arcade. We also learn that the GP we were warned about earlier can’t be purchased anywhere in the park, it can only be won from these games and the Chocobo Races. So we try out a few of the games while we’re here. We can play classics like the claw game, where we win a potion. Or there are some bigger simulations like… our motorcycle escape from Shinra Headquarters? That happened like 2 days ago! How has that already been turned into an arcade game?

It doesn’t really matter how they managed to turn our daring escape into a game so quickly, because the best game in the arcade is clearly Mog House. In Mog house, the little Mog has reached maturity and is now looking for a mate. However, he still hasn’t learned how to fly, and no girl Mogs are interesting in a male Mog that can’t even fly.

It’s up to us to help teach him to fly. And this couldn’t possibly be any easier. All we have to do is feed him some Kupo Nuts so he has the energy he needs. But we need to be careful not to over feed him. If we do that, he’ll become too fat to fly. It’s really easy to tell when to stop feeding him. If after you feed him, his stomach still grumbles, he’s still hungry. But the moment his stomach stops grumbling after you feed him, stop, he has eaten enough. For me, it was 5 Kupo Nuts before he was full… Now the tricky part of the whole game. There’s no button to STOP feeding him. We just kind of have to wait until the game decided we have finished and moves on by itself. This is only tricky because it makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong and it tricks you into feeding him more.

After feeding him, Mog will climb up on the blue mushroom and give flying another chance. If you over fed him, he’ll simply faceplant on the ground, and it’s game over. But if you fed him correctly, he will start flying gracefully though the air as a full-fledged Mog.

Tired from flying, Mog heads back into his home for some rest. However, Mogs short flight already seems to have caught the attention of a female Mog. Always ready to impress, Mog tries again to fly. Before that, we need to help him one more time by feeding him some more Kupo Nuts. This time it only took 3 nuts before he was full.

Thanks to our help, Mog managed to impress the female and the two fell in love. The screen fades and time skips forward to sometime in the future. The two Mogs are now living together and it looks like they are planning a nice quiet date out in the woods. How cute. We helped make that happen.

As the two walk off screen, a flood of little baby Mogs starts pouring out of the front door. Apparently they have gotten QUITE BUSY since we last saw them and have built a rather large family. They weren’t going out into the woods for a quite date, they were just leaving the house for some quiet time in general!… So we beat the game, but unlike many of the other machines here, this one gives no prize. However, the person standing behind us has apparently never managed to beat it, and was grateful for the opportunity to see the ending. So he gifts us 30 GP as a thank you present.

We finish off this first trip to the wonder square trying out the 3D Battler. It takes up nearly all of the floor space of the second room, and seems to be very engaging. However, I’ve learned from the Wiki pages that it’s anything but. It plays similar to Rock Paper Scissor, with High Medium and Low attacks replacing the normal hand gestures. There’s no actual strategy for this, since you can’t tell what the opponent is going to throw. The first couple opponents are pretty easy to beat, but it gets hard fast.

Even though we got distracted pretty easily, we still didn’t see Barret anywhere in the Wonder Square. He must have run off somewhere else before we got there. So with no other clues, we head over to the Chocobo Racing to see if maybe he went that way. While we’re here, we might as well place a bet. We’re allowed to pick up to 3 possible outcomes of the race, predicting the winner and runner up. All of the Chocobo have their stats showing their top speed, Stamina, and name. By comparing them, we can attempt to pick who we think will win the race.

The race course itself is actually quite interesting. The whole field is covered in holograms to make it seem like they are running through wooded areas, up mountains, and even through outer space at times. However, the outcome feels random more often than not, even with the stats comparison. What’s more, your prize is also random based on the winner. Each ticket has a number on the back that relates to one of the three available prizes. If you picked the right ticket, you win whatever the prize is on the back. For now, we’re not going to waste much more time here. We’ll be back later in the game when we’re allowed to enter our own Chocobos and actually participate in the race.

But that’s not important right now. We didn’t find Barret here either, so it’s time to move on. Picking our location at random, we head over to Speed Square, whatever that is. Before we can start looking for Barret, it seems someone else has found us. We’re approached by a half-naked man named Dio, who is apparently the owner of the Gold Saucer. That would explain how he gets away with walking around in just a speedo. Out of nowhere he asks us if we know what a “Black Materia” is. We tell him we don’t know, but for some reason he doesn’t believe us.

Apparently, just before we showed up, someone around our age had asked him about it, so he assumed it must be some new trend we might know about. Cloud follows up asking if the other man was wearing a black cape by any chance. Turns out here was. Dio also noticed that the man had the number 1 tattooed on his hand. Looks like we’re on the right path. Sadly, Dio didn’t pay any attention to which direction he went after their conversation, but he does invite us to see him again at the Battle Arena.

So that conversation didn’t really go anywhere. I guess we’ll check out what the heck this Speed Square is while we’re here. Turns out it’s an interactive Roller Coaster. The cars have light guns mounted on them and we’re supposed to shoot at targets flying around us during the ride. If we score enough points, we might even get a nice prize afterwards.

The whole ride is actually pretty entertaining, if not a bit difficult. There are a ton of things flying at you at all times ranging from balloons to planes and even ghosts. Then, when you get to the end, there is a massive alien mothership that you’re given quite a bit of time to try to destroy. With everything moving in addition to the car itself moving, it’s a bit hard to actually hit anything. Plus you need to watch your energy level on the gun. If you let it get too low, it will be too weak to actually destroy anything. In the end, I only managed to get 1860 points by the end of the ride, which isn’t very good, you need at least 3000 before you get a prize. Oh well, I still had fun.

As much fun as that was, we still haven’t found Barret. So we figure we might as well follow our last lead and head over to the Battle Arena to check in with Dio. That turns out to have been a mistake. As soon as we get there, we witness a Shinra Soldier drop dead right at the entrance. Heading up to the lobby area, we find that everyone has been killed. At first we suspect this might be more of Sephiroth’s handiwork, but closer inspection shows that they were all shot, not stabbed. Does that mean Barret when crazy and killed all these people?

As we’re looking around at the carnage, one of the employees starts moving a bit. Turns out they aren’t dead quite yet. But with their dying breath they tell us it was a man with a gun for an arm. That definitely sounds bad now. I mean, how many people have guns grafted onto their arms? What’s worse, Dio shows up just moments later with a handful of guards and starts questioning us as if we’re the killers.

Before we have much chance to defend ourselves, Cait Sith freaks out and runs for it. Cloud and Aerith get caught up in the moment and end up following his lead, running right into the arena. Unfortunately, there isn’t really anywhere to go in the arena. Within seconds our whole party is surrounded by large robot guards.

The robots quickly grab everyone. Cloud tries to make one last desperate plea, but Dio is in no mood to even listen to him. A hatch in the floor opens and the Robot jumps down the hole with Cloud tightly in its grasps. When we next see our party, they are just standing up in the desert prison at the base of the gold saucer. Apparently the whole area surrounding the prison is quicksand, so there’s no possible way to escape.

Looks like we’re going to be stuck here for quite a while. On the plus side, we quickly spot Barret, so at least we have that. Unfortunately, it looks like he may have already killed again. He also has no interest in talking to us right now and quickly runs off again. Not that he has very far to go at the moment.

Naturally, we head after Barret. We need to figure out what’s going on with him that he went and shot up a lobby full of innocent people. Like I said before, he doesn’t have very far to run, and we quickly find him inside one of the few buildings within the whole prison.

He quickly turns his gun on the party, to which Cait Sith starts begging for him to listen to reason. But before we can talk, he starts firing him machine gun arm. Thankfully, none of us are hit, instead, it looks like some thug was hiding behind the couch. But he’s dead now. I guess that means he at least still sees us a friends. Apparently this whole time he’s been angry because he didn’t want to get us involved.

But seeing as the three of us just got dropped into prison trying to find him, and for some reason the other 3 members of our group followed us for the fun of it, I’d say we’re all already involved. So here we are, trapped, with nothing better to do at the moment. He might as well tell us the full story that he wasn’t able to tell us before.

First things first, was he the one that shot everyone at the Battel Arena? According to Barret, no. Turns out, there’s actually another person out there that has a gun for an arm, and he just so happened to also be at the Gold Saucer when we were.

According to Barret, he and Dyne weren’t actually in the village when it was attacked 4 years ago. They were actually on their way back when it happened. They intended to rush to the village’s aid, but solders had followed the tracks back and started attacking them before they could get there. While trying to escape with their own lives, Dyne slipped and was about to fall down the cliff, but Barret managed to catch him.

This chain of events is what lead to Barret losing his arm. While trying to pull Dyne up from the cliff, the Shinra guards shot his hand. Barret would lose the use of his arm, and to his knowledge dyne lost his life as he fell down the chasm.

Sometime after that, he decided to get revenge on Shinra for what they did, and had a gun grafted to his arm in place of his now useless right arm. To his surprise, the doctor that performed the surgery informed him that there was another person who had recently undergone the exact same operation, but on his left arm. It must have been Dyne. He must have somehow survived that fall.

Knowing that Dyne is alive has been eating Barret up inside. He wants to apologize to him for everything that happened, not that it would make any of it right. But it’s something he has to do if he’s going to die in peace, and it’s something he has to do alone.

Hearing this, everyone gives him their support, in their own way. Cloud simply tells him that he’ll have nightmares if Barret goes and dies on him. Tifa is a bit more helpful, reminding him that he needs to stick around to save the planet. And so Barret once again joins our party so we can help him find Dyne and make his peace.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re all currently stuck in a prison. If we’re going to get out, we need to have the right connections. That means we’re going to have to pay our respects to the boss, Mr. Coates. According to him, the only way out of Corel Prison is to become a Chocobo jockey and win our freedom in one of the Chocobo races. But to do that, we need the boss’s permission first, and we’ll apparently never get that. However, the way he worded it makes me think he’s not actually the boss. So who is the boss?

There aren’t really a lot of people to talk to here in the prison, so there aren’t a lot of places to find clues for what we’re expected to do next. The best option we have is this group of three prisoners. Unfortunately, we’re told right away that they only ever tell lies, so they can’t be trusted.

However, if we accept the fact that what they say is a lie, we can work backwards from there to find out what to do. When asked about a man with a gun arm, they say we’ll find him to the southwest, so if we do the opposite and head northeast, we might find him there. They also mention that we’ll never see a mysterious Chocobo Carriage out in the desert. I’m not sure what that means, but coming from them I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

And so, doing the opposite of their advice, we leave the prison area heading northeast straight into the lens flare. What we find is an endless repeating landscape of barren desert that we quickly become lost in. With nothing to signify we’re making any progress, we just keep heading in a northeastern direction and hope for the best.

After several cycles thought this same area, we finally manage to get picked up by that Chocobo Carriage that the prisoners hinted at. We accepting a ride, and the Chocobo Carriage brings us back to a fenced section around the perimeter of the prison. The only thing that’s changed is that we now seem to be on the north side of the chasm instead of the south.

Heading east again from here, we end up walking straight into a scrap yard. It is here that we find Barret’s old friend Dyne, now with a gun grafted to his arm like Barret, leaning against a cross and slowly, mindlessly firing up into the air.

Hearing Barret’s voice, Dyne snaps out of the trance he was in and limps closer. They both reflect on how long it has been since they’ve seen each other. Barret going so far as stating he had held on hope that he was even still alive. But this is far from being a happy reunion.

Barret steps closer, wanting to apologize for everything that has happened. But Dyne doesn’t give him the chance. Without saying a word, Dyne fires a round right into Barret’s chest. Of course, we’re using video game logic here, so Barret simply shrugs this off. Dyne then goes on to show that his mind has deteriorated over the years from grief, stating things like he can hear his dead wife Eleanor’s voice telling him not to hate Barret. That’s the only reason he didn’t personally hunt Barret down over the years.

Since there’s no point asking for forgiveness, Barret moves on with his questioning. Why is Dyne even here in the first place? More importantly, why has he started killing innocent people that have nothing to do with anything?

Turns out, there is no reason. Does the reason even matter to the people that died? Dyne simple doesn’t care about anyone or anything at this point. And with no one to direct his anger at, he’s left to lash out indiscriminately.

Shinra promises so many great things, but in the end they only fill the world with despair. They’ve taken everything from him. They destroyed his home town of Corel. Killed everyone he knew and cared about. And even killed his wife Eleanor and his daughter Marlene…

Wait, Marlene is still alive! After the attack, Barret went back to look for survivors, but Marlene was the only one he found. He’s been raising her as his own daughter ever since then. Dyne can see her again back in Midgar!

Hearing this news, Dyne does what anyone would do when they hear their daughter is alive and well. He tells Barret that they’re going to have to fight about it.

Turns out, Dyne is well and truly insane at this point. All this time he thought his wife and daughter were together in heaven. But now he knows his wife has been up there all alone. So he needs to send his daughter up to heaven to be with her mother. Marlene must miss her mother just as much as Eleanor misses her.

Dyne opens fire on Barret, who continues to beg for reason. Barret still has things he has to do, he can’t die now. Dyne on the other hand feels like he’s been dead already, ever since that day. There’s simply no way out of it, they’re going to have to fight.

Unfortunately, that means a one-on-one battle between Barret and Dyne. We don’t exactly have Barret set up to handle himself alone. On top of that, Dyne is a rather strong opponent with several strong attacks. In the end, we resort mostly to healing Barret and only attacking when his limit gauge is full.

Eventually Dyne takes too much damage and falls to a knee. Even in defeat, Dyne refuses to listen to Barret or even accept his help to stand up. Instead he limps his way over to the destroyed building and leans himself up against the wall. In this weakened state, he reflects on how he lost more than just his arm that day, he lost something irreplaceable.

Barret continues his pleas for reason from Dyne. Sadly, he is too far gone. He has already resigned himself to destroying the whole world, including himself. There’s no coming back from that kind of mindset.

What about Marlene? Wouldn’t it be great for her to see her father again? But Dyne argues that she wouldn’t even know him. Which is kind of true. Marlene would have been a new born when Corel was destroyed. She probably has no idea Barret isn’t her real father.

Besides, even if he did go to see her, he has done too many horrible things in the last couple years. His hands are too stained with blood to be allowed to hold her. Saying this, he pulls the pendant from around his neck and throws it to Barret. It’s the only memento he has of his wife Eleanor. Barret can pass it along to Marlene for him so she has something from her mother.

He reflects once more on Marlene being four years old already. As he limps his way over to the cliff’s edge he weakly instructs Barret to never make Marlene cry. Barret sees what he is planning to do and rushes to stop him, but it is too late. Dyne spreads out his arms and throws himself backwards over the edge to his death.

Barret drops to his knees, having failed to save his once good friend, twice now. His final words making him reflect on his own choices. His hands aren’t any cleaner than Dyne’s. He has done some terrible things since that day, and he doesn’t deserve to hold her either.

We head back to the prison area and talk to Mr. Coates again about getting entered into the Chocobo Race to win our freedom. He reminds us that we aren’t allowed to enter unless the boss says so. For obvious reasons, Dyne can’t be here to say it himself, so Barret shows him Dyne’s pendant as proof. Right away Mr. Coates catches on to what happened. There’s no way Dyne would just hand over his pendant if he was still alive.

He actually seems somewhat relieved at this news. Dyne was crazy and didn’t care who anyone was. With him gone, this place might get a little bit of peace for a chance. Well, as much peace as you can get in a hostile desert prison. Even so, he was still Barret’s friend, and he takes great offence of Mr. Coates’s blatant disrespect.

Before Barret has a chance to get violent, Cloud pushes the conversation along towards getting them all out of prison. To this, Mr. Coates informs us that we don’t fully understand the problem. Yes we can gain our freedom by winning the Chocobo race. But the problem is that only one person can race at a time, and only that one person can leave. Even if we threaten him, those are rules from above. There’s nothing he can do to change them.

With his life on the line, Mr. Coates suggests that whoever does enter the race might be able to talk to Dio and convince him to let the rest of the party out of prison. Obviously, Cloud is nominated to be that one racer. However, we still have the problem that we are lacking a manager to enter us into the races and provide us with a Chocobo.

Lucky for us, there just so happens to be a manager down here in the prison, and she seems to have heard the whole thing. According to Mr. Coates, Ester “may look kinda funny” but she’s the best Chocobo manager in the races. She’ll take care of everything for us from here.

On the ride up the elevator back to the Gold Saucer, Ester listens to our story and agrees to talk to Dio personally to try to get us all out of prison. In the meantime, we need to focus on the race. Since it’s our first time racing, she offers to teach us the basics. First off, we need to choose if we’re going to manually control the Chocobo, or just let it run and do its own thing. If we do choose to manually control it, it controls much like a typical racing game. You turn left and right, you can go faster or slower, and you can make it sprint for some extra speed. But because this is a living creature and not just a car, we have to be mindful not to overwork the Chocobo. If we do, it will become too tired to race anymore and we’ll almost certainly lose. Also because it’s a living creature, if it doesn’t like us, it won’t listen to us anyway, and we’ll probably also lose.

After what feels like the longest elevator ride ever, we finally make it up to the jockey lounge. Right away we’re spotted by Joe, apparently the best jockey around. He and Ester have a small exchange in regards to Cloud and his entry into the races. From the sounds of it, he doesn’t seem to like us much, and will probably become our Chocobo racing rival at some point. Thankfully, Joe is in the top ranked league and we’ll be starting out somewhere closer to the bottom. So we won’t see him any time soon.

Anyway, Ester quickly heads off to get us registered in the race and get a Chocobo ready for us. She raises them herself, so she assures us they are all well behaved and will listen to us. Not long after Ester leaves the lounge, the next race is announced. Somehow Ester managed to get us entered into it, and we are on our way to freedom.

Actually participating in the Chocobo races is so much more fun than just watching them like we did before. I thought I was doing pretty good too. We were in 1st place heading into the home stretch. Unfortunately, I didn’t save enough stamina for the final rush, and my Chocobo got too tired just feet from the finish line, ultimately placing 4th in the race.

Thankfully, we’re allowed to retry the race as many times as we need to until we win our freedom. On the flip side, that also means we’re stuck here until we actually win a race. Fortunately, the Chocobo are actually smarter than I initially gave them credit for. When I switched to Auto for the next race, the Chocobo actually won the race by a pretty good margin. Probably should have just done that the first time.

Since we’ve won a race, we should now be free from prison. Back in the lounge, ester is waiting for us to congratulate us and hand us a letter from Dio. Clearly Ester did as she promised and talked to Dio on our behalf. Now that he knows all the facts, he has agreed to give our entire party a full pardon for everything we have been accused of.

As his way of apologizing, Dio has prepared a little gift for us as well. Just as Cloud finishes reading the letter, he gets a call from Aerith. Apparently back down in the prison, the assistant manager has given the rest of the part a Buggy. So not only are they all free from prison, but they get to drive out in style.

The letter continues. Apparently Dio just had a run in with Sephiroth. Curiously, he talks about it as if he just met a celebrity rather than a mentally unstable killing machine. According to Dio, it looked like he was heading south across the river towards Gongaga. If we hurry we might be able to catch him. So it looks like we have our next destination all picked out.