Final Fantasy VII (PSone) – Part 01 – North Mako Reactor

Much like my struggle with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, I have been putting off playing this game for the site for a long time. Not because I don’t want to play it, quite the opposite. This game holds such significance to me as a gamer that I feared I couldn’t do it justice. Actually, I still feel I can’t do it justice, but at this point I don’t think I’ll get much better at doing this, so it is what it is. Now, if it isn’t obvious from the title, we’re going to be playing Final Fantasy VII (PSone). I know I’ve mentioned it at least once before that Final Fantasy VII along with Pokémon Red where the two games that really converted me into a gamer. So if we’re going to do this, I want to share with you the full story of why that is.

For this, we must go back to when I was maybe 8 years old. My mom had taken me with her to visit one of her friends. While there, I was sent to play with her friend’s kids in the basement. They were older than me, maybe 12, and I didn’t really get along with them, so I simply played by myself in the corner. Likewise, they paid no attention to me and started playing a game on the SNES. I had no idea what the game was, and since we didn’t get along, I never found a chance to ask, but it looked amazing and I wished more than anything to be able to play it. In hindsight, it was most likely Final Fantasy III (Final Fantasy VI), but without a name, the only thing that I was able to hold onto was the battle system, with enemies on one side, player characters on the other, and each taking turns in battle. Up until this point I had only played games like Mario, Duck Hunt, and other NES era games that would fall into the category of 5 minute arcade like games. They were fun, I’m not trying to say they weren’t, but seeing this game that was clearly meant for longer play times blew my 8 year old mind.

Fast forward a few years and eventually one of my older brother’s friends lets me play his Pokémon game for a little while during a long car ride to a concert (Blink 182 if I remember right). I was hooked. It wasn’t exactly the same as Final Fantasy, but it was close enough for me to latch onto. I needed more. I didn’t own a Gameboy at the time, and I didn’t have money to buy one, I was only 11 at this point in time. But I gathered up what money I had from birthdays and allowance to buy the Pokémon Strategy Guide. I read that guide cover to cover several times, weighed the pros and cons of each starter, built a dream team, studied the moves, everything. Eventually I convince my parents to buy me the newly released Gameboy Color and Pokémon Red as a Christmas present. I didn’t really like the fact that my color choices for the system were purple or clear purple, but it didn’t matter as long as I got to play Pokémon (I picked clear purple by the way). Also, from reading the guides, I decided to use Squirtle as my starter, however, I picked Pokémon Red for the exclusive Pokémon (I really wanted a Ninetales). I played that game for hours, and my Blastoise became my best friend. So much so that years later I managed to transfer him to a rom and upload that rom to the cloud so he wouldn’t disappear when the battery inevitably dies on the cartridge.

Once again, we fast forward a few more years until I’m about 13. By this time I owned a PSone and had a few games. Crash Bandicoot, Need for Speed, Twisted Metal, again nothing that really breaks away from the 5 minute play sessions I had back on the NES. Honestly, I was starting to get bored with games at this point. I still loved Pokémon, as well as all my other games, but they just weren’t holding my interest enough. That changed when Christmas came around and my Grandmother got me MTV’s Game Brain VHS. I’m sure almost no one has ever heard of this VHS, so let me explain. This VHS was a video walkthrough for several PlayStation games. Remember, we’re still 5 years off before YouTube launches, so at the time, this was amazing. I only actually owned one of the games featured on the movie (Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee), but I loved it just the same. However, the final game of the movie was of course Final Fantasy VII (And to the movie’s credit, it managed to not ruin the game’s plot while still giving a good walkthrough).

Admittedly, I didn’t make the connection the first time I saw it, I was a very dumb child. But one day something clicked and it all fell into place. The battle system wasn’t exactly the same as that SNES game I saw years earlier, but if this is Final Fantasy SEVEN it stands to reason that this would be a newer game of the same series, and so it would obviously look more modern. I eventually talked my parents into buying it for me as a birthday present. When I finally did get it, it was all over for me. The gameplay was better than I could have imagined, the graphics blew everything else out of the water, and the deep story had me on the edge of my seat for every second of it. Just a few months later I turned 14 and was forced to get my first part time job. With that money I started buying every SquareSoft game on the shelves. From there it grew and grew into the gaming obsession I have today, and honestly I don’t regret any of it (I regret loaning Valkyrie Profile to a friend. I never got it back and I still haven’t replaced it because it sells for about $200 now). Anyway, about halfway through playing Final Fantasy VII, I started wishing I could record my gameplay so I could look back at it later. But of course that would have taken up about 25 VHS tapes at the time, so it was simply impractical to actually do.

This brings our story full circle back to the present. Now that there are emulators, and hard drive space is dirt cheap, it is easier than ever to play and record gameplay from all of these old games and share it online for the world to see. Obviously, most people would do this via YouTube, but I simply don’t have the personality for that. Instead, I started this site, and Final Fantasy VII was one of my biggest inspirations and goals when I made that decision. I had wanted to start playing Final Fantasy VII right away, but I have made no attempt to deny the facts that I am a sub-par writer at best. Honestly, why are you reading this, there must be better ways to waste your free time. With that in mind, I shelved it, and tried to get at least some experience under me before I started that task. I still don’t think I’m there, but it has been pushed off long enough already. Anyway, onto the game itself. Final Fantasy VII is obviously the seventh game in the main Final Fantasy series. However, it was only the fourth Final Fantasy game to be released here in North America. Despite SquareSoft’s previous releases being renumbered to reflect this fact, they chose to brand Final Fantasy VII as the seventh installment it was, causing some initial confusion over what happened to the remaining 3 games we never saw. Confusion aside, Final Fantasy VII went on to become one of the most beloved and best-selling installments not only in the franchise, but of the Playstation system itself. I’m not going to say it’s the best game in the series, that’s a landmine I would rather not step on, but suffice it to say it is still held in high regard by many people. That’s why it was chosen as one of the handful of games to be included on the Playstation Classic system released not too long ago.But with that said, I’m not blind to its faults. Most glaring of which is that the overworld character models have not aged well. They look like Lego characters most of the time. But I’m hoping it is still an enjoyable game to play. Truth be told, even though it has had a huge impact on my life as a gamer, I have never successfully finished a second play through of it or any other Final Fantasy game. It has now been nearly 20 years since I saw the ending credits, and as would be expected, my memories of the game as a whole are fading. So join me as we rediscover the classic RPG that is Final Fantasy VII!

Table of Contents


-North Mako Reactor-

We open to a swirling vision of the stars above. At least I believe it’s the stars. It’s hard to be sure, because they start to take on a green color as the camera settles in on a mysterious woman.

It’s unclear what she is doing in this dark alley as green energy floats around her. She’s just kind of looking at the machinery on the side of the building. Before we can learn anything, she walks out to the main street, revealing the modern, if not overly industrialized, city she lives in.

Meanwhile, we keep flashing to a scene of a train rushing around the edge of the city. We follow its progress all the way to the moment it pulls into the station.

We quickly learn that the train had a few unexpected passengers aboard it. They jump down from the roof and make short work of the two guards stationed on the platform. As part of the group rushes ahead, the last two members finally dismount the train, and we are given our first look at our main character.

With few words exchanged, we follow the rest of our group to the exit. However, our actions seem to have already caught the attention of the local security. Before we make it off the platform we are already approached by a pair of guards. Once they get in range, the screen spins and distorts and we are thrown into our first battle.

Thankfully, the battle system is fairly straight forward, and the game doesn’t hold our hands any trying to teach it to you. There is a simple menu selection displaying our possible actions. “Attack” allows us to use our comically oversized sword (Named the Buster Sword) to do a basic physical attack. “Magic” obviously allows us to cast any spells we have equipped. We start the game with “Ice” and “Bolt” magic already available. And finally “Item” is self-explanatory, allowing us to use any items we might have, like healing potions. The only thing that might feel a bit unusual is the Active Time Battle (ATB) system the game uses. On the bottom right side of the screen is a Time Meter that will fill up during battle. Every time it fills up completely we are allowed to take an action with that character. And that’s about all we need to know about the battle system. After defeating these easy enemies, we are awarded EXP (Character experience points) AP (Magic experience points), Gil (The game’s currency), as well as the occasional Item drop.

After this battle, we manage to regroup with the rest of the people from the train. Upon our reunion, one of the others (Biggs, the one on the left in the green shirt) marvels at the fact we used to be a member of SOLDIER. In the same breath, he inform us that this group we are currently a member of calls themselves AVALANCHE. One of the other members (Jessie, the one in the middle trying to open the door) happened to hear Biggs comment on us being a member of SOLDIER. This catches her off guard because SOLDIER is apparently their enemy.

Biggs is quick to brush her comments aside. We USED to be a member of SOLDIER, but now we are working with them in AVALANCHE. However, this appears to be the first mission we’ve joined them on, as Biggs eventually asks us for our name. At this point, we’re allowed to name our character whatever we want, but I’m going to keep the default name of “Cloud”.

After learning our name, Biggs starts to introduce everyone else in the group. However, Cloud seems to have quite the attitude and quickly cuts him off. He’s here because he’s paid to be here. He doesn’t care what any of their names are.

Shortly after this exchange, the leader of the group shows up, scolding everyone that they shouldn’t be traveling in a group like this. He also reminds us of the job we came here to accomplish. Once we get past this door, we need to head for the North Mako Reactor and meet on the bridge in front of it.

With that, Jessie finally manages to get the door open and everyone rushes off. All except for the leader. He might have hired us, but he doesn’t seem too happy with the fact that we used to be a SOLDIER member. It’s at this point that we also get to assign a name to this character. Again, I’ll keep his default name of “Barret”.

After naming Barret, we’re given a quick tutorial pop-up on how run. But something is off about it. Like a word is missing or something. I remember there being a few grammatical errors scattered throughout the game, looks like we just found one of them. Oh well, at least the scenery is nice.

As we follow the other members of AVALANCHE, we find two more game mechanics I want to point out quickly. First, there is an option to put a pointer hand over Cloud’s head. Since he can become rather small and hard to see with some of the long shot camera angles, I’m going to keep this feature on for most of my play through. With this option, there are also red triangles that point out any doorways or other exits from our current area. The other thing of note is that, despite the first battle, we won’t actually see most of the enemies coming. Instead, we will be drawn into random battles with no warning as we’re simply walking around.

We follow after everyone else, and catch up with them on the bridge like we planned. While most of the group rushes inside the reactor, the final member of AVALANCHE, Wedge, breaks away from the group to secure our exit. Talking with him, we also learn the full scope of our mission today. Apparently, we are actually planning to blow up this entire massive reactor.

After hearing this, we regroup with the rest of AVALANCE just inside the reactor, where Biggs is attempting to hack open a security door. While he’s doing that, Barret tries to start up some small talk with Cloud, asking if he had ever been in a reactor before. As previously mentioned, Cloud was a member of SOLDIER, which works for Shinra (The company that makes the reactors). So obviously he has been in at least one other reactor before now.

Hearing this, Barret starts into a small rant about how the world is full of some natural energy called Mako energy, and how the Shinra Company is sucking the world dry with these weird reactors. Cloud isn’t really all that interested in Barret’s lecture though.

Cloud’s cocky attitude so far on this mission finally got the best of Barret and he decides to personally keep an eye on Cloud. For the rest of this mission, Cloud is going to be traveling with Barret (Or rather Barret is traveling with Cloud, from a gameplay perspective). Either way, it doesn’t take Biggs much longer to get the door open, and we can keep going deeper into the reactor.

We quickly find an elevator and take it down towards the reactor core. Unfortunately, Barret can’t drop his lecture. Since we’re all stuck in this elevator for the moment, he decides to picks it up right where he left off. Cloud, however, continues to have very little interest in any of it. He just wants to finish the job before stronger security shows up.

Even after the elevator ride ends, we still have several flights of stairs to descend before we’re at the core. Not only that, but we have to run across several large pipes before we actually reach our target. Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t seem safe. Are there no safety inspectors in this universe?

We’re nearly at our target now, but the various battles we’ve been in to get here have triggered one more basic battle mechanic, Limit Breaks. During battle, every time a character takes any damage, it will fill their Limit Gauge. Once that gauge is full, that character will be able to perform a Limit Break attack. These attacks are somewhat flashy and typically cause much more damage than the regular attacks.

Anyway, we have finally reached the reactor core. Before we walk up to it, we notice a lone Materia sitting on the catwalk. It is a Restore Materia, which teaches healing magic. Sadly, we do not currently have the ability to equip it, so it will have to sit in our inventory for now.

Barret ends up walking ahead of Cloud, excited by the thought of blowing up one of the large reactors. Despite this excitement, he instructs Cloud to be the one to actually set the bomb. Cloud protests this, saying Barret should do it himself. But Barret is quite to brush him off, claiming he needs to keep an eye on Cloud so he doesn’t pull anything.

Before Cloud can manage to set the bomb, the screen goes red, and it appears as if Cloud is having a PTSD episode from his time in SOLDIER. It doesn’t last long, and Barret is quick to snap him out of it, but it still leaves us with an uncomfortable mindset, wondering what skeletons Cloud might have in his closet.

Without wasting any more time, Cloud sets the bomb on the reactor core. Unfortunately, he seems to have set off an alarm in the process. Cloud and Barret are suddenly cornered by a large mechanical Guard Scorpion, and a boss battle ensues.

Because this is the first boss battle, it is not very difficult. For starters, the Guard Scorpion very frequently uses its Search Scope technique, which causes no damage and basically just wastes a turn. Furthermore, it is weak to Cloud’s Bolt magic, which seems obvious since it’s a robot.

What’s more, it will occasionally take a much more defensive stance, with its tail up ready to attack. During these instances, it will counterattack both Cloud and Barret for some significant damage if either of them attack it. However, it takes no other actions while in this stance, and it is a good opportunity to use some healing items if needed.

Or if we prefer, we can intentionally take the damage so we can quickly raise our limit gauges. We just need to make sure we’re healed up enough to survive the counterattack before we use our Limit Break.

Whichever tactic we take, the Guard Scorpion isn’t a huge threat, and is defeated rather quickly. However, we have no time to celebrate. As soon as the battle ends, the bomb timer begins. We have only 10 minutes to get out of the reactor or we’ll end up caught in the blast ourselves.

We don’t have far to go, but we still have to be careful or we won’t make it out alive. Case in point, if we don’t stop to help Jessie on our way out, we won’t make it out at all. While keeping watch, she somehow fell and got her foot stuck between the support beams. She also happens to be the only one that can hack the doors on our way out. Kind of important if we want to go through them, and we don’t have time to be backtracking to save her later.

On top of that, the time doesn’t stop counting down during battles. So we’re going to have to fight quickly on our way out. Likewise, the clock doesn’t stop if we go into our menu at any point, so we don’t want to be lingering there either.

We manage to rendezvous with everyone on the bridge with over 6 minutes left on the clock, or so it seemed. We’ve barely managed to turn the corner when the reactor starts to explode.

The resulting explosion was so massive it could be seen from everywhere in the city. No doubt that shockwave was felt by everyone as well. As for our group, we didn’t manage to get very far from the blast, but we were somehow spared from being blown up or otherwise crushed by rubble.

Unfortunately, we’re kind of trapped here at the moment. Good thing Jessie seems to have packed some small explosives for just such an occasion. After blowing out the wall, we’re all free, and Barret instructs us all to make our way to the Sector 8 Train Station.

Everyone scatters, but Cloud seems to want a few words with Barret first. Unfortunately for Cloud, it’s Barret’s turn to not care what the other has to say. He simply assumes Cloud wants to talk about his money, and tells him to wait until they’re all back at the hideout. With that, he too rushes off, leaving Cloud to find his own way to the Sector 8 Station.

We climb the stairs, and right away find ourselves in the same street where we last saw the mysterious flower girl. She starts up a conversation with Cloud, trying to figure out what is happening. No doubt she saw the reactor explode and is now very worried. Cloud tells her it’s nothing to worry about and quickly changes the subject towards the basket of flowers she is carrying. With how polluted the city is, you don’t see many flowers growing.

She is happy to see him notice her flowers and offers to sell him one for a single Gil. At that price, we have no reason not to buy one, so we do. Again, she seems happy, and ends up walking away after her sale without asking any more questions.

Flower in hand, Cloud continues through the center of town towards the train station. Unfortunately, that interaction with the Flower Girl seems to have slowed him down long enough for a couple of Shinra Soldiers to catch up to him. We have the option to fight them, or run away, so naturally we choose to fight them.

Cloud defeats them easily, unfortunately, this patrol is not alone. More soldiers appear from the other streets as well, eventually surrounding him. However, Cloud is still much stronger than any of the Soldiers, and chooses to fight his way out of the situation.

In the end, Cloud simply can’t defeat the soldiers fast enough and they completely surround him. On top of that, these constant battles have made him late for his rendezvous with the rest of AVALANCHE. But as luck would have it, these soldiers have inadvertently given Cloud the perfect escape route. Right as they start to close in on him, the train passes underneath the bridge they are on, allowing Cloud jumps over the railing, land on its roof, and ride it off to safety.

Inside the train, we discover that all the other members of AVALANCHE made it to the train successfully. In Cloud’s absence, they start wondering what happened to him. Was he killed on the way to the train? If he is alive, will he keep fighting for AVALANCHE? These questions do nothing but enrage Barrett, who gives rather sharp responses and slams his fist on a nearby crate.

Wedge tries to change the conversation towards their pay for the mission. But that doesn’t appear to be any better of a topic. Thankfully, it was at this moment that Cloud managed to open the train door and swing his way inside, nearly giving Barret a heart attack in the process.

Cloud’s cockiness once again shines through as he arrogantly announces he was a little late, brushing off the whole thing as just something he always does. In a way, I want to believe him. When he jumped onto the train, it was coming from the opposite direction he was heading. So even if he wasn’t slowed down by the Shinra Soldiers, he wasn’t heading in the direction of the station anyway.

Already in a bad mood, Barret tries to turn his anger towards Cloud, scolding him for making everyone else worry about him. Unfortunately, Cloud is in cocky mode right now, and flips it right back on him by pointing out that Barret was worried about him.

Doing his best not to punch him, Barret simply claims it will be coming out of his pay. Now that everyone is here and accounted for, the group makes their way up the train to the passenger cars. Each member makes a comment to Cloud either thanking him for helping or claiming they will do better next time. Jessie ends up being the last to leave. After closing the train door, she has a brief moment alone with Cloud where she cleans off some soot from his face and thanks him for saving her back at the reactor.

We eventually follow after Barret and the rest of AVALANCHE into the passenger cars. Once there, we get to witness nearly all the other passengers fleeing at the sight of them. Apparently they have quite the reputation. Then again Barret does have an imposing body type AND a massive gun for a right hand. I’d probably run from him too. Likewise, everyone probably already knows they are the ones responsible for blowing up the reactor, they may have even been expecting it. I base that on the fact that the “Shinra Times” has already published an article about the bombing even though it only happened a few minutes ago.

As we go around talking to everyone, we eventually get to join Jessie as she excitedly shows us the Midgar Rail System map. While looking at this 3D model of Midgar, she fills us in with a good bit of exposition about what this world is like. For starters, the whole city of Midgar is supported about 50 meters above the ground by massive support pillars. There are also apparently 8 of those huge reactors circling around the edge of the city. Each of these reactors powers its own sector which is treated as its own town. Furthermore, these towns used to have their own names, but the city has become so industrialized that no one remembers what they were. Instead, they simply refer to each town by Sector number.

The map goes on to show the train spiraling around the center pillar and down towards the ground. Jessie takes this moment to explain to us that the train is also equipped with a security scanner. By linking up with a database at the Shinra Headquarters, these scanners can check the identities of every passenger on the train. For obvious reasons, all the members of AVALANCE are using Fake ID’s to ride the train right now.

Right on cue, the lights in the train start flashing red, indicating that we are now within the security checkpoint. Even though we are clearly the creepiest people on the train right now, Jessie still comments about the creeps that come out when the lights go off.

Following the Security Check, Barret starts commenting on the scenery outside the train. Specifically, he points out that the area underneath the main plate no longer has a day or night cycle since they can’t see the sky anymore. Finally, Cloud offers up his first sympathy to the situation, acknowledging that the floating city of Midgar is “Pretty unsettling scenery.”

Of course, Barret didn’t miss this either, admitting surprise to hear such words coming from Cloud. He goes on to detail the pains that the floating city causes the people living on the ground. On top of blocking out the sky, the city is polluting the air, and the reactors are sucking the life right out of the ground.

Cloud offers up the obvious solution that everyone should just move up to the plate if the ground is so polluted. Unfortunately, most of the people living in the slums simply don’t have the money to move there even if they wanted to. “No one lives in the slums because they want to.” as Cloud summarizes.

The train eventually comes to a stop at the Sector 7 Slums Station without any further incident. Upon disembarking, Barret calls everyone together to congratulate them on a successful mission. Likewise he warns them not to get scared, because the next one is going to be an even bigger explosion. Personally, I don’t think it’s very smart to loudly talk about your terrorist activities at the train station. That might be why the Shinra Times already had an article published on an attack that just happened.

Everyone then leaves the station and heads back to the hideout. It is on our way there that we get some proper perspective on how massive the main plate of Midgar really is. Just outside the Sector 7 Slums is one of the support pillars for the plate, and it really makes you feel insignificant while standing next to it.

Even with our little sightseeing, we manage to make it to the Sector 7 Slums just in time to see Barret rush in to the local bar and quickly kick everyone out from inside. What really surprises us, though, is when we enter the bar ourselves and are immediately approached by a young girl assuming the next person to enter would be her Papa.

The little girl ends up running away into the corner as soon as she realizes we’re not her dad. Thankfully, the bartender is there to comfort little Marlene. She then starts up a conversation with Cloud, with Marlene still half hiding behind her. She’s glad to see us making it back safe, but she’s worried Cloud and Barret must have fought with each other the whole time, since Barret is always pushing people around. We are then given the opportunity to name this character. I will continue to use the default name of Tifa.

Tifa takes notice of the flower we bought earlier. As she states, it’s rare to see them down here in the slums. We are then given the choice to give it to Tifa or to Marlene. I want to take this moment to simply acknowledge that there is a secret dating minigame going on in the background throughout the first half of the game. Various responses will either add or remove affection for different characters which changes an event later in the game. I will not be aiming my choices towards any particular character, and so I chose to give the flower to Marlene. A little girl growing up in this environment deserves a pretty flower.

Even after giving her the flower, Marlene continues to be shy around Cloud. That’s ok, because the other members of AVALANCHE are more than willing to let Cloud join in on their fun. Biggs is drinking himself stupid, Wedge is filling his stomach with Tifa’s delicious food, and Jessie is simply muttering to herself about getting all excited about something…

We don’t get much time to relax though, as Barret comes running through the doors shortly after. Turns out, Barret is Marlene’s Papa, if you hadn’t already guessed it. Despite his tough attitude, he actually comes across as a very caring dad. He notices her flower right away and even makes sure Marlene thanks Cloud for giving it to her.

Now that everyone is here, Barret calls a group meeting. He then shows us that the pinball machine in the corner is actually a secret elevator down to the secret base. Barret gets to ride it down with Marlene on his shoulder, but it looks like everyone else simply has to jump down the hole and hope for the best.

Following everyone’s lead, we too take the secret elevator down to the hideout. On the TV we find out that the news is already reporting on the bombing and the Shinra President is stating that AVALANCHE has already claimed responsibility for the attack. Once again, I feel like the news knew this attack was coming, since no one in the group would have had time to claim responsibility.

The Shinra President goes out of his way to paint AVALANCE as an evil terrorist organization. He even goes so far as to state he is mobilizing SOLDIER to protect the citizens of Midgar against them.

Meanwhile, Barret is in the corner working over a punching bag rather than conducting an actual meeting like he claimed. Upon seeing Cloud, he casually asks if anyone we encountered today was part of SOLDIER. Cloud then states the obvious that if they had encountered anyone from SOLDIER, none of them would have made it out alive.

As would be expected, Cloud’s answer just riles Barret up to the point that Biggs has to hold him back from punching Cloud. Unfortunately for him, that means Barret ends up punching Biggs right into the screen instead. He then makes a few snarky remarks of his own, warning Cloud not to even think about hanging out with his old buddy Shinra.

Cloud ends up quite upset at the accusation. Barret asked him a question and he answered it. If that’s how Barret it going to act, he might as well just get his money and leave like he originally planned to do.

Tifa tries to stop Cloud from walking out, but Barret just has to double down and make matters worse. Cloud defends himself, stating he doesn’t care about Shinra or SOLDIER at all. But he also throws in that he doesn’t really care about AVALANCHE or the Planet either.

Now heading for the door, Tifa makes one more attempt to stop Cloud from leaving and convince him to join the cause. The planet is dying and someone has to do something to save it. But Cloud is checked out at this point, let Barret take care of it.

With no other options, Tifa plays her “Childhood Friend” trump card. Surely even someone as tough as Cloud would have to listen to the requests of a childhood friend. She even goes so far as to remind him about the promise he made to her when they were younger.

Cloud made the promise seven years ago, back at their home town. It takes a little pushing from Tifa, but Cloud does eventually remember. They met at the well at the center of town. Cloud remembers because he was getting cold waiting for Tifa to actually show up.

Back then, Cloud had called Tifa to meet him so he could tell her he was leaving town for Midgar. Tifa isn’t surprised by this. Apparently most of the boys in town have had the same idea recently. Cloud is different though. He’s not moving to Midgar just to work, he wants to join SOLDIER.

Not only that, but Cloud is aiming to become as strong and famous as the great Sephiroth. Without question, it’s a hard path to walk, and Cloud knows he probably won’t be back home for a long time. But Tifa manages to break the tension of the moment by asking if he will ever be in the newspapers.

It’s then that Tifa talks Cloud into making a promise to her. Once Cloud reaches his goal of becoming a member of SOLDIER, he needs to promise to come save her whenever she is in trouble. Every girl wants to be rescued by their hero at least once in their life.

Promise or not, Cloud doesn’t feel like he became the hero he had aimed to be. Sure, he became a member of SOLDIER, but he never gained anything near the level of fame that Sephiroth attained. However, Tifa sees things differently. Only the best of the best are allowed to join SOLDIER. Famous or not, Cloud got his dream, so now he needs to keep his promise.

It’s not clear if Barret was listening in, and trying to make a point about keeping promises, or perhaps he’s still mad and wants Cloud gone. Either way, Barret shows up to give Cloud his pay for the mission, 1500 gil.

Between Tifa and Barret, something they said most have gotten through to Cloud. As soon as he picks up the money, he makes a spectacle of how small the pay it, and asks for twice as much for the next mission. Tifa is quick to stop Barret from fighting the demand, they really need the help. But Barret has good reason not to pay that much, he’s trying to save money for Marlene’s schooling, like a good father would.

Reluctantly, Barret settles on paying 2000 gil next time. Tifa, however, happily thanks Cloud for agreeing to stick around for at least one more mission. With that, they all head off to get some rest while they can. They have another hard mission ahead of them.