3. Story Walkthrough
Okay. So, aside from a basic 'how to beat the game' walkthrough, I'll be pointing out missables, items, etc.
This first Steam achievement is easy enough. You'll get it after your first battle with Cloud in the train station. After leaving the train station you'll meet up with Barrett, who will join your party. You will enter into random encounters throughout the whole intro mission. Depending on how many you choose to fight, you'll get two achievements by the time you beat the first boss. All you have to do is to use Cloud's and Barrett's first limit break moves respectively.
Use Cloud's 1st limit
This area is straightforward and linear enough. The enemies are easy to beat, and the first boss is pretty simple. The only thing I would mention is to actually pay attention to the in-game cues and do NOT attack the boss when it has its tail up, otherwise it might actually kill your party (which would be pretty embarrassing). Now, when you get off the train, if you inspect the bodies of the guards you'll be able to collect two potions. Once you reach the end of the platform, Cloud automatically enters into battle with two MPs. Cloud is alone here, but... well, it's not as if he needs any backup against these enemies.
In the following area, where Barrett joins the party, you'll encounter MPs and Guard Hounds (they look more like big cats, but whatever). The exit is in the top-left corner, which leads to a T-shaped walkway. You can talk to Wedge if you want, but there is only one way to go, which is the path leading to the reactor. Inside the reactor, you'll have to get past two locked doors. Just speak to Biggs and Jessie. But, before you get onto the elevator, there's a passage to the right that leads to a chest with a Phoenix Down inside.
Anyway, once you've reached the bottom of the elevator shaft and are in the inside of the reactor proper, you'll start encountering Mono Drive's and 1st Rays. Nothing to worry about, especially considering that, as mechanised units, they're extremely vulnerable to Cloud's 'Lightning' materia. Anyway, once out of the elevator, take the staircase to the left all the way down to the bottom. Go through the door at the bottom and Jesse will give you a lesson on how to use ladders. More importantly, once she's gone down the ladder, she'll take up a position along the walkways below. There'll be a potion in front of her. Further below there will be a save point, so save the game and heal up.
As you approach the Mako reactor, you'll automatically pick up the 'Restore' materia there. After planting a bomb and Cloud have a brief mental breakdown, you get attacked by the very first boss of the game, the Guard Scorpion. Not really tough, but, again, don't attack when its tail is up. Unless you're okay with doing a lot of healing, since the laser counter-attack deals 75 points of damage to both Barrett and Cloud. A good way to use up all the potions you have. Anyway, once the boss has been dealt with, you'll have 10 minutes to escape. Basically, just go back the way you came, although make sure to rescue Jessie on the way back up (she's caught/stuck on something), since, without her, you can't get past a blast door blocking your way.
As you exit the reactor, the characters will automatically leave where Wedge was stationed earlier, and the reactor will explode. The mission has been accomplished but now your party needs to skedaddle to avoid capture and return to their base. Barrett orders everybody to split up so Cloud will be on his own again. But, once again, the only enemies are going to be MPs and a few Guard Hounds, so it really doesn't matter. Exit where Barrett left, and continue on until you reach a square with every Final Fantasy fan's favourite flower girl, Aeris. If you stop and buy a flower off of her, it basically increases a hidden 'relationship' stat that affects a later portion in the game (i.e. the Gold Saucer date).
Continue into the next courtyard and make sure to nab the potion in the chest before continuing on. In this section, you will run into numerous MPs. You can either choose to fight them or run. I personally fight them all, but you can run away if you want. The end result is the same; namely, Cloud jumping onto the roof of a passing train. Coincidentally, the rest of your team will be in this train as well. There's not really that much to do at this point, except ride the train down to the slums. Follow your team back to the Avalanche headquarters... which turns out to be a bar. Nice. Barrett will empty the place out. Better head in and keep it snappy. Barrett doesn't like to be kept waiting.
If you bought a flower from Aeris earlier, you can either give it to Tifa, or Barrett's daughter, Marlene. The choice affects the date section of the Golden Saucer. Barrett will lecture Cloud about his past ties to Shinra, Cloud walks out, but is talked back into joining the team by Tifa. There's a brief payment dispute between Barrett and Cloud, and then the team hit the hay. When you wake up, head upstairs. Feel free to skip the materia explanation. Anyway, Tifa will tell you to visit the weapons shop. Now you can actually kind of explore the Sector 7 slums.
At this point in the game, you will already have a weapons upgrade for Barrett in the form of an Assault Gun dropped by the Guard Scorpion. That's the only weapon sold at the nearby weapons store, but you can buy Iron Bangles, which are useful since your characters will only have Bronze Bangles at this point. There's an 'All' materia in the Beginner's Hall, and an Ether on the exterior of the same building slightly higher up. Also, if you want to, you can purchase a 'Fire' materia from the Item shop if you want. I usually don't bother, since you get one automatically when Red XIII joins your party. You can also buy more Restore materia here, but you should already have one from the raid on Reactor 1. Head to the train station when you are ready to embark on your second mission: the assault on Mako reactor number 5.
Once you hop on the train, things don't go as smoothly as the first time. Somehow your fake IDs don't fool the system this time, and so you are forced to hightail it to the end of the train so you can jump ship. If you don't mind being a little risky then you can take the time to nab some items along the way. The homeless guy on the first car will give you a Phoenix Down, the guy right at the other end of the second car will give you a Hi-Potion. On the third car, a guy running the opposite direction than you will nab some of your money. You can chase him down and get it back, though. There won't be any items further on. Your team will bail out once you reach the fifth car.
Where you get deposited is based upon how long it takes for you to get off the train. If you get trapped in the first car then you get dumped right in front of some Shinra guards. You can't get actually get past them. But this is a good place to grind easy EXP, and all that good stuff. Anyway, head north until you reach the green beams. Instead of continuing forward, since you can't, inspect the hatch on the left. You'll end up in a tunnel with an Ether in the middle. Yay! Anyway, go down the ladders until you end up in the big platform. It doesn't really matter which ladder you take next, as you'll end up in a hallway with Jessie and a potion. Anyway, take the ladder in the bottom-left corner.
In this section, there'll be a save point to the right and down a bit from the ladder to the next area. Then use the ladder to get into the main reactor area. This area is just like Mako reactor 1, except you'll be in the top-right corner and will have to take a slide down. Run down and then left and you'll come across the entrance to the lower levels, plus a staircase that leads upwards. Take the entrance down below and take the ladders down, and then go to the reactor. Cloud will have a flashback to a younger Tifa kneeling in front of her dead father in another reactor, swearing vengeance on someone named Sephiroth.
For whatever reason there's no timer this time. Anyway, you can't go back the way you came in... but who'd want to be stuck in a dirty subway tunnel? Instead, take the staircase up, since the layout is pretty much the same as reactor 1, so just head on up and then take the elevator. The way ahead is locked, so you will have to navigate a contrived mini-game in a control room on the left. There is a chest with a potion in it just before, so nab that. Anyway, you control Cloud, whereas Tifa and Barrett are AI controlled and you have to push the button the same time they do. It's not that hard of a mini-game on the PS1 original, but it seemed way harder on Steam for some reason.
Once you've unlocked the security door, exit and you'll be home free! No, not really. The lack of boss battle at the reactor might have given things away but, as you leave, a helicopter carrying President Shinra himself will land so he can gloat and sic a mechanised techno-weapon unit named Airbuster on you, and then fly away... presumably guffawing cigar smoke and belching clouds of over-priced martinis.
Whilst you will have Air Buster in a pincer attack, he's still a tough cookie. His big bomber attack and his rear-gun counterattack do a surprising amount of damage. Since Tifa is in your party than you'll get a chance to use her limit break (assuming you haven't already) getting you the Beat Rush achievement:
After the battle, Air Buster will explode, leaving Cloud dangling precariously on the edge of the damaged walkway, overlooking the slums below. Cloud then promptly falls to his death; Game Over. No, just kidding. Despite being clearly a big enough drop to kill just about any living creature, Cloud brushes off this fall of infinite height like it was nothing. Well, not really nothing. He gets knocked unconscious and gets woken by a mysterious voice only to find himself in a bed of flowers in a run-down church with the flower-girl, Aeris, he met earlier looking over him. What are the odds!
Since Cloud is a mercenary, Aeris hires him to be her bodyguard. A guy in suit will walk in... kind of odd given that you're in the slums. Well, this guy is none other than Reno, a member of the Turks, which are basically the in-universe version of the Gestapo, except slightly cooler and probably less evil. Anyway, you have to hightail it with Aeris out the back. Of course, Aeris will get cut-off by Shinra soldiers and falls to the floor below. You then take control over Cloud. The goal is to reach the rafters in order to knock certain barrels down in order to stop the soldiers from reaching Aeris.
Now, you can go one of two ways: you can do the barrel-pushing, or you could just do nothing. Doing nothing will initiate a battle between Aeris and the soldiers each time. So, it's up to you: 'save' Aeris, or let her fight some soldiers for some EXP. If you do decide to save Aeris, then you will have to push the following barrels in order: bottom-left, top-left, and then top-right. Once Aeris makes it to the top, you can escape though the hole in the roof. Aeris will casually explain the repeated efforts of Shinra to kidnap her, and then she and Cloud will make a mad-dash over the roofing.
They will both jump down to the Sector 5 slums. The Church is to the right, so go left. There is a save point here if you need it, otherwise continue. There's someone blocking the way to Sector 6, so go up to Sector 5 town proper. You can explore this area if you choose. There's a guy in the house on the left who speaks nothing but gibberish, prompting the 'this guy am sick' remark of infamy. On the far right-hand side is a house with a sleeping boy who mentions 5 gil hidden in a secret drawer. Whatever you do, DON'T TAKE IT. One, because stealing is wrong, two, because 5 gil is nothing, three, because it's a kid who is sleeping in his own house, but, lastly, and arguably more importantly, because the same kid will give you a Turbo Ether later on... unless you steal his 5 gil stash. Your choice: 5 lousy gil, or a Turbo Ether. Hmm... tough choice.
Anyway, Aeris' house is off to the right. Take the exit on the right side just above the house with the sleeping boy in it. Before you go in, go to the far right of this new area, and you can collect an Ether and a 'Cover' materia. Nice! Plus, there's a save point right outside Aeris' house. Here, Aeris will introduce you to her mother. Yikes! Things are moving fast! Just kidding. She's her adoptive mother, since her real mother died years ago. She will ask you to leave without Aeris. Anyway, go upstairs and go to sleep... and Cloud will start to hear voices again. (Are psychologists a thing in FF VII? Because that's something Cloud should probably have checked out. Just saying.)
When Cloud wakes up, Aeris will still be awake in her room. So, you will have to 'sneak' out. Basically, just don't run and walk slow. Otherwise, Aeris will hear you. Leave the house and go back the way you came until you get to the path that splits off left and right. The path left to Sector 6 will now no longer be blocked, so off you go. However, Aeris will already be there... somehow. I guess Aeris has some form of teleportation? That or she's a ninja... or Cloud is really slow. I dunno...
Anyway, Aeris will join your party. Head up through the wreckage, and you'll most likely run into some random encounters. You will exit the other end in a run-down playground that is eerily reminiscent of Pripyat, Ukraine. Anyway, Cloud and Aeris will stop to take a breather and have a chat. They will be interrupted, however, by a chocobo-drawn carriage coming out of a large gate with Tifa onboard heading onto the Sector 6 slums... but in a fancy getup. The plot thickens!
Follow that carriage and you'll end up in Wall-Market, the most hip and happenin' town in lower Midgar. It's actually not bad for a slum town, really. You now have the task of tracking down Tifa. If you start questioning NPCs around the south of the map, you will discover that Tifa has gone to the mansion of Don Corneo, who is some kind of underworld crime-lord/mob-boss. She is apparently being 'interviewed' for a position at the Honey Bee Inn... which is basically a strip club. Unfortunately, Don Corneo is a sex-maniac/fiend/pest and has a strict no-boys rule when it comes to visitors. If you want to infiltrate Don Corneo's mansion then you'll need a disguise for Cloud.
You only really need to get the dress and the wig to get in, but if you want Cloud to get picked by Don Corneo to be his 'companion' then you'll have to bring your A-Game. Plus, there are items to be found if you explore the town, so why not? First, visit the dress shop, which is in the top-left of the map. Unfortunately, the owner is a washed-out drunk who spends his time in the bar, and the store is being run by his daughter who explains her pops has given up on tailoring. Oh no! Well, obviously, that won't do. To find the dress-maker, you will have to go the tavern.
The tavern is in the northern section of the town, so exit the Dress Shop and head north to the next section. The tavern will be the place on the left past the gym. You can find the owner of the Dress Shop drowning his sorrows here. He'll initially refuse, but, upon learning his creation will go towards helping Cloud become a drag-queen, he cheers up and acquiesces. In order to get the 'best' dress, pick the following options when prompted: Something that feels soft, and something that shimmers. This will get you the Silk Dress later (once the guy has actually made the dress).
Next, you'll need a wig. As it happens, the Dress Shop owner will let you know that the gym owner apparently shares Cloud's penchant for cross-dressing. The Gym is below the Tavern, on the right-hand side. Now, in order to get the 'best' wig, the Blonde Wig, you need to beat Big Bro in squats. Getting a draw will get you a Dyed Wig, whereas losing gets you a regular Wig. Whether or not you want to spend time getting the other items required to get Don Corneo to pick Cloud depends on whether or not you want to battle your way through Corneo's lackeys or not.
In order to get Don Corneo to pick Cloud, aside from getting the Silk Dress and Blonde Wig, you will need to get some Cologne, Underwear, Make-Up, and a Tiara. To get the Cologne, you will need to solve the bathroom 'situation' in the Tavern. There's a guy busting for a leak, and apparently some woman is hogging the only toilet. She needs some medicine, apparently. Well, you will need to give her some medicine. Which medicine you give her determines the 'quality' of the Cologne. You will need to go the Pharmacy in the lower map of Wall Market. It's just above the shop that says 'Item'. There is a statue of what appears to be a Panda outside of it.
Giving the woman a Digestive will net you the Sexy Cologne, i.e. the 'best', giving her Deodorant will get you Flower Cologne, and giving her some Disinfectant will get you the regular, plain Cologne. However, you will need a pharmacy coupon in order to get one of these three special items. In order to get a Pharmacy Coupon, you will need to go the Restaurant, which is the shop immediately north of the Pharmacy. You will need to purchase a meal (any will do), and you will get a Pharmacy Coupon. Go to the Pharmacy, exchange it for a Digestive, and then proceed to the Tavern in order to exchange it for some Sexy Cologne. (As a side note, why would you need Cologne to try and pass yourself off as a woman?)
In order to get a Tiara, you will need to speak to the guy running the Materia shop, which is in the top-right corner of the lower map of Wall Market. He will ask you for a favour. You will need to spend the night at the Inn and then make a small purchase from the vending machine. It costs 10 gil to spend the night at the Inn. Now, in order to get the 'best' tiara, the Diamond Tiara, then you need to fork out 200 gil. 100 gil will net you the Ruby Tiara, and 50 gil will get the Glass Tiara. In order to get some ladies underwear and some make-up, you will need to visit the Honey Bee Inn. Which one you get doesn't matter, but you will need a member's card in order to gain access.
In the bottom-right corner of the lower map of Wall Market is the entrance to the Honey Bee Inn. Just before you enter the next area, there should be a guy wandering around. If you speak to him, he will give you his membership card. Head to the right to the Honey Bee Inn entrance, and the bouncer will let you in. Now, you can pick the 'Group Room' for some Bikini Briefs, or the '&$#% Room' for some Lingerie. Which one you choose doesn't matter. You can get some make-up from the ladies in the dressing room.
Whether you decide to go the extra mile or not, you will need to head to the Dress Shop to pick up your lovely new frock and to get changed. Once this is done, head to the upper map of Wall Market, and then go all the way north and enter the structure at the top. Continue forward and you will gain entrance to Don Corneo's mansion. If Cloud gets picked as Corneo's 'companion' you start off in his bedroom, whereas, if Cloud doesn't get picked, Cloud ends up in a side-room as a 'reward' to Corneo's thugs... yuck. In the latter scenario, you have to talk to Scotch in order to reveal that Cloud is a man, which also triggers a brawl.
If Tifa was picked, you will have to go and find Aeris in the basement which is accessible via the doorway in the top-left in the main hallway. If Aeris was chosen, then you will meet Tifa in the hallway. The Don's bedroom is accessible through the middle door, which leads to his study. You have to go through his study and go through the passage behind the desk to get to the bedroom. Now, as far as items, there is an Ether in the basement, a Phoenix Down in the side-room, and there's a Hyper in the Don's bedroom behind the bed.
Whichever options you chose, you have to confront the Don. Either you crash his 'session', or your 'session' with him is crashed. The end result is Aeris, Cloud, and Tifa threatening Don into revealing some information. Unfortunately, that information is that Corneo was hired by Shinra to spy out Avalanche's secret headquarters so Shinra can drop the entire plate of that sector. Since their base is under Tifa's bar in Sector 7, they're going to drop the Sector 7 plate on the slums, wiping out every single inhabitant of that sector in the slums, and probably killing a lot of people on the plate above, too. Of course, before you have time to process this, Corneo gets the drop on you and activates a trap door (what is this guy, a cartoon/comic book villain?) that deposits you into the sewers.
But the fun doesn't end there! For you will soon have to face Corneo's pet, a lovely little fellow named Aps. There are two things to note here: (1) Aps is weak to Fire, so if you have 'Fire' materia, equip and use it! (2) It has an attack that attacks itself as well as everybody in the Party called 'Tsunami'. Sometimes it will damage the party more, sometimes it will damage itself more. Since Aeris is in the party, you will most likely get a chance to use Healing Wind, so this is not that tough of a fight. Assuming you haven't already, you will get:
You should find a Potion as well as a 'Steal' materia. Continue to the next section of the Sewers, and you should find a ladder leading to the Train Graveyard. This area has quite a few goodies, so make sure you take the time to nab them all. It's not as if the lives of everybody in Sector 7 Slums depends on it, right? But seriously, there is no actual rush. You will emerge out of a manhole next to a train. There will be a Hi-Potion inside, and if you continue through the car and exit you will find another one next to a barrel, nice! Retrace your steps and take the ladder onto the roof on the train car, and head north. Before exiting onto the left, take the grate bridge and then head up to find a Potion.
Retrace your steps and go back down to the ground. In the top-left of the screen you will find an Echo Screen. Anyway, head right and go underneath the grate bridge and inside the train. Inside you should find another Potion. Head down and exit out of the train carriage, head up the ladder opposite, walk up and take the next ladder down, enter the next train carriage, head up, exit that train, and then head up through the exit to the next area. This next area isn't as maze-like, but you do have to solve some basic 'puzzles' to get through. Once again, if you do some exploring, there are some items to be had.
Head up and go left, and then down and you will find an Old Man who also doubles up as an item shop. Of course, if you head up, go left, and then go down you will find an Ether. Go back to the right side of the map and you should find a train engine car. Enter it, and it will briefly move, which also rather handily clears a path through. You will see a train carriage with a ladder leading to the roof. Behind it should be another train engine car. Get inside the second train engine to move it out of the way. Climb up the ladder and grab the Hi-Potion on the roof, and you should be able to walk across the roofs of the train carriages and get the ladder down and enter the Sector 7 Slums' Train Station.
You will reach the pillar right as the Shinra attack begins. Aeris will leave to take care of Marlene. Fortunately, Barrett is already on the scene with Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge. Ascend the stair case, and help Barrett fend off against Shinra! Once you reach the top, sort out your party's equipment, because you have to fight Reno of The Turks, aka the guy you 'met' back in Aeris' Church. Reno activates a self-destruct mechanism and then engages your party.
There are two attacks to watch out for: Electro-Rod and Pyramid. The former does a fair amount of damage and has a slight chance of stunning the target, whereas Pyramid encases the target in a golden pyramid that essentially prevents them from doing anything. You will actually have to attack your own party members who are victims of this attack in order to free them. Of course, he'll bail; his boss, Tseng, will show up in a helicopter to rescue his underling, with Aeris on board! Those dastardly n'er-do-wells!
But, wait, there's more! Not only that, but it turns out the self-destruct can't be disarmed. There is nothing to do but to escape and leave Sector 7 to its grisly fate. Worse, Jessie, Biggs, and Wedge were still in the Sector 7 Slums when the plate was dropped. Your shell-shocked party members end up in the playground on the outskirts of Sectors 5, 6, and the remains of Sector 7. The one piece of good-news was that Aeris was able to get Marlene to safety. Head to Sector 5 and visit Aeris' house to check on her. (As a side note, there is a 'Sense' materia on the ground).
Remember the sleeping kid in the house on the south-east corner of Sector 5? Well, if you can go see him now, and you DIDN'T steal his 5 gil 'stash', he will give you a Turbo Ether (how on earth is a Turbo Ether 5 gil?!). Anyway, head back to Aeris' house. After everyone is done blabbing, you can rest upstairs. Anyway, from here, the plan of action is to head through Wall Market in Sector 6 in order to gain access to Shinra's Headquarters in the upper city. You can visit Corneo's mansion, if you want, but the only thing to do here is to release Koch, who is tied-up in the basement.
Anyway, the materia shop will now be open. However, you will need at least 300 gil to spare for the Weapons shop, as you will need some batteries in order to get all the way up top. The way up top is to the right of the entrance to Don Corneo's mansion. You should see a bunch of kids running in there. Anyway, you can now climb a large wire up. This is sort of a mini-maze with some more minor-league puzzles. Your first order of business is getting over to the right to plug in the first battery. Head up, go over to the right, then go down and place the battery. Doing so activates the propeller, thus moving it out of the way.
Head up and jump down the broken rail/track and climb up to the next battery point. Placing a battery here will raise a barrier, allowing you to climb up, reaching the best part of the game; the swinging bar mini-game! As hard as this was as a kid back in the late 90s on the original PSX/PS1 version, I found it a lot easier on the Steam version for some reason. Either way, swing on over to the other side. Head up to the next section.
You don't actually NEED to put in the third battery, but doing so gets you an Ether, and you have no other use for the last battery anyway, so you may as well. Instead of going straight up, you will need to climb the wire that wraps around the pipe and heads off to the left. Climb up, then down and drop onto the battery zone. You will have to climb down and do the bar-jump again and then climb back up and head up the pipe all the way.
This is it. This is the big one, the shake down, the pay-off. You get to take on the big, bad Shinra Corporation at their own headquarters. Of course, being so early on still in the game, it's sadly not the final mission. First, use the save point and save your game. At this point you can go one of two ways, you can either barge on in through the front door and battle your way through legions of Shinra's obeisant toadies, lackeys, and minions, or you can take the stairs. The only plus side to the stairs is that you get an Elixir for your troubles. But it takes FOREVER, and you don't face any enemies, which would mean less XP, etc.
Busting in the front way, you will have fixed and random encounters galore. Once in the front door take either of the stairs on the side. There's nothing at the back of the ground floor except elevators. On the second floor, there will be two more sets of stairs, another elevator at the back, but also an item shop. You can't open the two chests in said item shop... YET. For now, just stock up on any items you need. Take the stairs to the next level and take the elevator at the back. Enter, and you will have an elevator ride reminiscent of Gremlins 2, in that it will wildly shoot up, and you will have to engage in combat a bunch of times. It will eventually spit you out on Floor 59, and some more fixed encounters. Floor 59 is where you will also end up if you took the stairs. If you do take the stairs, then prepare for the walk of your life, since you have to go up NINE flights of stairs.
Once the thugs on Floor 59 are dealt with, you should get your first keycard, allowing access to the 60th Floor. It will also allow you to use the glass elevators from now on, which will allow you access to the highest floor you have a keycard for, plus you can go back down to the lobby. The 60th Floor is home to another mini-game, but this is one isn't so bad. First, as Cloud, you have to wait for the patrolling guards to look away so you can dash in between these statues until you reach the other side. You then have to guide Tifa and Barrett across (separately). Fun, FUN!!! ~Fun! But wait, I hear you so, we don't have a keycard to get to Floor 61! Well, it so just so happens that the door for Floor 61 is jammed and stuck open. What a splendidly, marvelous coincidence!
Anyway, there should be a guy wandering around near the door. If you play your cards right, and keep cool instead of trying to pry info on Aeris, you will get the 62nd Floor Keycard. Wow, that was... so underwhelmingly easy. The 'puzzle' to get the next keycard is slightly more fun and is actually somewhat challenging... you have to guess Mayor Domino's 'password'. Getting it on the first try will get you an 'Elemental' materia. His assistant, Hart, is willing to sell you hints, but they're quite expensive. The trick to solving Domino's password is by looking in all four of the research libraries on this floor.
The name of each library is listed on a plaque on the wall outside. If you look through the shelves of each library, you should find one that is seemingly out of place with the subject matter of that section. The trick to solving Domino's password is by looking at the numbers of each of these misplaced files. Each of the file numbers will correspond to a letter in the alphabet. And just like that, as if by magic, you can figure out the password! What is even better is that Domino's Keycard gets you access to levels 63, 64, and 65.
Floors 63, and 64 are both optional, but there's plenty of loot to be had! On level 63 is a vending machine in a room in the bottom-right that will give you items if you get Coupons. The only issue is that these Coupons are in three separate rooms blocked off by security doors, and you can only open a total of three doors. This one is certainly more of a headscratcher, since you need to optimise the door opening so you can get all three Coupons.
Start by going all the way around to the top left of the room and then take the corridor going left. Open the security door right in front of you and then continue on and then open the security door beneath you. Go down and all the way to the left to find a door to a room with one of the Coupons inside of it. Inside this room is also an air duct. Clamber in and you'll be able to reach other rooms, Mission Impossible style. Crawl down, then along to the right, but take the passage up instead of dropping down the exit on the right. Exit the air ducts and nab the second Coupon. Exit that room, head to the left, open the security door in front of you and then you'll be able to waltz right on in to the next room and get your third Coupon! Return to the vending machine room and you'll get a Star Pendant, Four Slot, and an 'All' materia. Nice!
There's not much to do on the 64th Floor, but you can rest up and save, plus you should be able to loot some items from the lockers in the locker room. There's a megaphone in one of them, but you have no use for it... yet, so Cloud will leave it. Head to the 65th Floor. The puzzle here is more akin to Resident Evil, in that you get the Keycard for the 66th Floor by putting pieces of a model of Midgar back in place. First, go to the chest on the left side of the middle room on the left side, and place the puzzle piece in the scale model in the centre room in place. This will unlock the chest on the left side of the room on the bottom left of the floor. Placing that piece will unlock the chest in the north side of the room in the centre of the left side of the floor, placing that piece in the puzzle will unlock the chest in the north of the room in the bottom-left of the floor, and placing that will unlock the chest in the room in the top-right of the floor. Placing the final piece will unlock the chest in the stairwell, netting you the Keycard to the 66th Floor!
Now it's time for some more Mission Impossible style secret agent stuff. The Shinra top execs are holding a meeting, and you need to eavesdrop on said meeting to discover what shady, back-room dealings they are planning on next! Head to the bathroom in the top-left of the floor and enter one of the cubicles. You will then be able to climb up into the vents again. Climb along the vents and you'll end up above Shinra's chamber of evil, i.e. where they plot to ruin everybody's lives. Anyway, once they've finished guffawing clouds of cigar smoke and belching clouds of over-priced martinis, head back down. What you need to do here is to follow Hojo. Go upstairs and Hojo will conveniently leave the door to Floor 67 open, meaning you can waltz right in without a Keycard.
On the 67th Floor, follow Hojo over to the left side of the floor. As you pass a specimen tank with a glowing pink light coming out of it, Cloud will peer in and... once again briefly lose his mind. Now, once he's finished having yet another existential crisis, head over to the lift Hojo used to go to the next floor, but, make sure to nab the Poison materia from the chest, as well as saving your game before heading up. Head on up and you will walk in on Hojo trying to initiate 'inter-species erotica' between Aeris and a red, lion-like animal. Man, Hojo is into some really weird things...
As your team shows up to confront Hojo and release Aeris from the test chamber, Hojo will bring in another 'specimen'. Fortunately, it turns out the lion-looking animal is actually sapient and capable of speech and offers his help in fighting this new 'specimen' of Hojo's. His name is 'Red XIII', since he's red and apparently was tattooed with the Roman Numeral XIII by Hojo. Now, when selecting your party, choose Barret and have Tifa escort Aeris away. Now, if you have the Elemental materia as well as the Poison materia, equip them to either Cloud or Barrett's armour slots, since the upcoming Boss Battle just LOVES poison. (And, just in case it wasn't obvious, don't attack the thing with Poison either).
You're up against Sample: HO512 and three Sample: HO512-Opt. Focus all your attention on the big guy, since these little guys will keep respawning ad infinitum and will go when the big guy bites the dust. Sample: H0512 also loves poison, and so will case it on you. As such, any armour or material combination that absorbs poison would be great here. For instance, combining a character's armour with Elemental-Poison. Otherwise, just keep an eye on your party's health and/or have a hefty supply of antidotes. Focus your attacks on the big fella and he should go down in no time. There should be an Enemy Skill materia left behind in the tank afterwards.
After the fight, head up the catwalk and pester Hojo's assistant to get the keycard to the 68th floor! Head back down to the 66th Floor to use the elevator to get up the 68th floor. Unfortunately, it seems as if Shinra have had time to marshal a trap for you, since Reno and Rude of the Turks will ambush you and take you up to see the big cheese, President Shinra. Like the Bond villain, Auric Goldfinger, he is obsessed with ill-gotten gains. Unfortunately, unlike Goldfinger, he feels the need to bore to you to death gloating about his awesome plan to suck up all the Mako energy at the 'promised land'.
You will then be put into the cells. After chatting with everybody, you will take a nap... and then wake up to find the door to your cell is open. Curious-er and curious-er. Moreover, there will a lovely trail of blood. I wonder where it could go? It leads up to President Shinra's office, where you find him dead, skewered like a doner kebab with a sword. Cloud recognises it as belonging to Sephiroth, a legendary member of Shinra's elite special forces, Soldier. However. the former President's son, Rufus, shows up in a helicopter.
Go outside and have a nice chat with him, and he will reveal that he will take over as the new President of Shinra. Oh, bugger. Cloud will dismiss the rest of the party, and Tifa will volunteer to stay behind to wait for Cloud once you've reached the lower floor. At this point, you will take control over Aeris, Barret, and Red XIII. Now, at this point, you will want to take the time to make sure these three are properly equipped. Because as soon as you step onto the elevator you once again get ambushed by Shinra security.
Moreover, this fight is long-range ONLY. Meaning Aeris and Red XIII will be unable to attack the boss directly. They can only hurt it with magic, or with Red XIII's Limit Break. The good news, however, is that it is another machine: Hundred Gunner. This means he's weak to Bolt! I usually use Aeris as a healer, stick attack magic materia on Red XIII and just have Barrett attack normally. As long as you are suitably prepared, he shouldn't be that much trouble. Once it has taken sufficient damage, it will start to prepare its super weapon. Fortunately, it takes two turns to charge, so use the time to deal massive damage. You will most likely end up using Red XIII's limit break.
Once Hundred Gunner bites the dust, a Heli Gunner will descend from on high. Like Hundred Gunner, Heli Gunner will use stronger attacks as it nears death. Keep up your party's HP, and plug away with bolt, etc. Once the battle is over, you will switch back to Cloud who will proceed to battle Rufus on the roof of the Shinra Building. Before the fight, you will have a chance to change his equipment and materia. Take the time to make sure he is properly setup. Whilst this is one of my favourite sequences, it is very possible to die to any one of these three bosses.
Rufus will be joined by a 'Dark Nation', which you should deal with first, as it has less HP and will cast protective spells on Rufus. One materia combination you could use here would be Elemental-Lightning in Cloud's armour, and you shouldn't have to worry about Dark Nation's attacks. Keep Cloud's health up, whittle away at Rufus, and use your limit breaks when you can, and he should go down in no time. Once he's taken big enough of a beating, Rufus will bail and fly away on the helicopter he rode in on.
Afterwards, Cloud will join Tifa in the lower floor; you can then take the elevator to join the rest of the party in the lobby downstairs on the ground floor. After a frankly awesome cinematic, you will then have to play the motorcycle minigame, which I noticed was a bit harder on PC than on PS1. Make sure you are familiar with the controls BEFOREHAND, and it shouldn't be too much trouble. Hang near the van and focus on the bikers that come nearest to it.
Once you reach the end of the highway, get prepared for another awesome boss fight. This time, you have to fight Motor Ball, which is another mechanical unit. This one has a penchant for fire-based attacks, but, like all other mechanical units, it is very weak to bolt. However, it will get the drop on your party. Once again, keep an eye on the health of your party members. This guy will occasionally 'transform'. When he does this, he will use his 'Twin Burner' attack, which will hit hard. This guy once killed my whole party using this attack.
After the battle, your party will descend off the highway to nowhere, just outside of Midgar's slums. After one last look at the city, your party will leave after Sephiroth's trail. Decide parties here, and then head on over to Kalm. You will end up on the World Map, and, as a result, will have substantially more freedom. At least, you will do later since you have to travel to Kalm and then get through the Marches past the Chocobo Farm, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Once at Kalm, feel free to check out the town first or head to the inn to advance the plot. Your team will be on the second floor. Cloud will begin to recount his past experiences with Sephiroth, during which you get to play as a (slightly) younger Cloud on his first mission with Sephiroth. This version of Cloud will be level 1 and his stats will absolutely suck. Whereas, Sephiroth is an unequalled badass who will literally one-shot or two-piece everything. It really doesn't matter if Cloud bites the dust or not, since Sephiroth is pretty much unbeatable and he will revive Cloud anyway... at least, sometimes he will.
You will have a fixed encounter against a dragon whilst on the way to Nibelheim. You don't even need to do anything, really, since, again, Cloud is useless and Sephiroth can beat pretty much everything. Once you reach Nibelheim, Sephiroth will offer some musings on one's origins, and retire to the Inn. You can now explore Nibelheim as it was back then. You can visit Tifa's house if you want to. If so, go to the second floor, and you can do two things: play the piano, and have a good old rummage through her drawers. The tune you play on the Piano may seem unimportant now, but write it down, since it will come in handy later. If you check the drawers you will find some 'Orthopedic Underwear'... oh, Japan.
You can visit Cloud's house and chat to 'Cloud's Mom' (you'd think he'd remember his own mother's name?) and then check out some of the other houses. Once you're done, head back to the Inn. In the morning, you will meet up with Tifa outside of the mansion, where someone will take a picture of the party. You will then go for a casual stroll through Mt. Nibel. As a side note, I never could figure out why they needed Tifa to guide them when Cloud clearly should have known the way to the reactor. I mean, it's almost as if he has holes in his memory or something, right?
Of course, the bridge will give out as your party will try and make it across, depositing you near a materia cave. You'll also discover one of the Shinra troopers is missing. Oh well, ya snooze ya lose, and this guy clearly snost and lost... or snoozed and losed? Hmm... Either way, Sephiroth points out you can't spare the time to look for this n00b, so you have to continue on to the reactor. Here, you'll make the startling discover that the Reactor is the source of the recent outbreak of monsters. There are humanoid beings in the tubes that have been breaking out and attacking people. Guess we can shrug it off and go home, right?
Well, unfortunately, Sephiroth isn't too happy about Shinra producing monsters using Mako energy since it implies that he, being a member of soldier, was created using the same methods. He then becomes a bit of a recluse, taking to spending time alone in the basement of Shinra mansion reading up on the research (and misdeeds) of Professor Hojo. Then, Sephiroth loses his mind, massacres the town, and burns it to the ground. Way to go, Hojo, way to go. Cloud then faces Sephiroth down inside the Nibelheim reactor after Tifa tries and fails to kill Sephiroth with his own sword. And then... well, Cloud can't quite remember. By all measures, Cloud should have bitten the dust, but, apparently not.
When you head downstairs, you will obtain the PHS, which allows you to change party members on the World Map and at Save Points. Nice! Explore Kalm, if you haven't already. There's a few goodies to be had, plus you can look around the shops to see what they have on offer. The first two houses on the left have Ethers lurking about their innards, as does the house on the far-right. There's also a Guard Source and a Peacemaker in the last house on the left (the one with the tower).
Make sure to check out the materia shop, since they have some Earth materia as well as some Heal materia. I personally don't bother getting any weapon upgrades for Barrett, since they only have a Cannon Ball, which is one of those awful melee weapons for Barrett, and you can steal an Atomic Scissors off of the Custom Sweeper enemies outside of Kalm. The next stop on our journey is the Chocobo Ranch. When you first arrive, talk to the nearest Chocobo on the right and it will do a little dance and you will get the Choco/Mog Summon Materia!
Go to the barn and talk to the guy in the middle. He'll explain that the only way to cross the marshes is via Chocobo, since that is the only way to evade the Midgar Zolom, a massive snake that inhabits the marshes. Unfortunately, none of the Chocobos he has are for sale, so you will have to catch one. In order to catch a Chocobo, you will first need the Chocobo Lure materia, which will set you back 2,000 gil, yikes! Second, you will need to purchase some greens. The better the greens, the longer they will distract the Chocobo you're after. Of course, the better greens cost more money.
Once you have the Chocobo Lure materia and a supply of greens, head back onto the World Map, and then run around like a maniac on the set of Chocobo tracks just outside the farm. As long as you have the Chocobo Lure equipped, you should enter into a random encounter with some monsters and a Chocobo. To catch it, distract it by throwing it some greens, then kill the monsters whilst it is distracted. As long as it is distracted, and you do not attack it, you will catch it once the monsters are dispensed of.
Now, you DO need the Chocobo to cross the marshes at this point, because, at your current levels, the Midgar Zolom WILL kick your butts. I almost made it across on foot once, but, yeah, it has 4,000 HP and its Beta attack will pretty much one-shot you. So, with your mighty Chocobo steed, run across the marshes to the green land on the other side, and dismount... and your trusty steed will scarper. You won't be able to return back until you're stronger, but the only things you need to go back to Midgar and the Chocobo Farm are for are late to endgame stuff.
Of course, once you reach the entrance to the Mythril Mines for the first time, you will have a brief scene where you come across a dead Midgar Zolom, with its head skewered onto a tree. See, I thought there was only one Midgar Zolom, but apparently not, since there this one here that is dead, and one in the marshes waiting to eat you. If only Sephiroth could have been more thorough, am I right?
The mine itself isn't too large, so you should not have a hard time traversing it and locating all the various goodies scattered about. When you enter, the passage on the right will lead to an area with a good bunch of goodies. There will be a chest at the back with a Tent inside it, an ether just below it to the right, and a hidden Long Range materia by climbing the vines just to the left of where you come in this area. Once you've gotten them, go back the way you came.
This time, go left past the exit to the World Map and then go down. In the bottom right corner will be a chest containing a Mind Source. You will then need to head to the bottom-left, head up, and then take the exit to the next area on the right. Here you will encounter Rude, Tseng, and Elena of the Turks. They are not here after Avalance, however. Instead, it seems they too are in pursuit of Sephiroth, and so extend you the professional courtesy of not trying to kill you. Even better is that Elena will let-slip some info that Sephiroth was last sighted heading towards Junon Harbour!
Before heading out the way Tseng left, go to the back of the passage, and you will enter another section of the mines. In here, you will find a chest on the left containing an Elixir, and a Hi-Potion on the right. Now you can go back and follow where Tseng left. Now, back on the World Map, you should see a structure ahead of you, which has what appears to be a giant bird on top of it. This is Fort Condor, there is nothing you NEED to do here now, but you can rest, browse their wares, and try out the Fort Condor defence mini-game at the top.
Now, the forest area around Junon Harbour is one of two areas where you can encounter 'Mystery Ninja', the second area is the forest areas around Gongaga Village later on. This is Yuffie and beating her will lead to an after-battle conversation scene. In order to recruit her to your party, you have to pick the right dialogue options. First, do not try to use the Save Point, as Yuffie will run off with some of your gil. Instead, walk up to Yuffie to start the conversation. Here are the 'correct' dialogue options: Yuffie: 'You spikey-haired jerk! One more time, let's go one more time!' Answer: Not Interested. Yuffie: 'You're pretty scared of me, huh!?' Answer: '......petrified.' Yuffie: 'I'm really gonna leave! REALLY!' Answer: 'Wait a second!' Yuffie: 'You want me to go with you?' Answer: '......That's right.' Yuffie: 'All right! I'll go with you!' Answer: '......Let's hurry on.'
Yuffie will now join your party, getting you the following achievement:
Get Yuffie on your team
Junon Harbour is located against a cliff right next to the ocean. Much like Midgar, there is an upper and lower area. You will enter a small town at the base of Junon Harbour proper. Unfortunately for Cloud and Friends, the Shinra guard won't let you use the lift to go up the main area. There's not really a whole lot to do here. There's a 'weapon shop' that only sells a Mythril Armlet and the rest is regular items.
You will need to head to the 'beach', which is down some stairs on the left, past the first house on the left. Before you do, you may want to prepare, since there's a boss fight coming up. Now, my advice is to have Barrett in your party (and make sure he has an actual gun equipped, not one of those silly melee things), and equip Cloud with the long-range materia. I will usually have Aeris as a healer, and make sure at least one character is equipped with Choco/Mog.
On the beach, you will find Priscilla, who is teaching a dolphin tricks. Unfortunately, the fun will be rudely interrupted by Bottomswell, who is a flying monster (hence the long-range suggestions). This guy can be a pain in the butt if you are not prepared. Moreover, it has an attack, called Water Bubble, which encases a character in a bubble, removing them from battle. Kind of like Reno's Pyramid attack, except you can only free your characters by using magic on them instead of attacking them physically.
Bottomswell also has the Big Wave attack, which is basically what it says on the tin, a big wave that hits your party with damage. It will do roughly 100 damage per character, so my advice is to ensure your character's HP are above 150 each. Of course, once you've beaten the boss, you will then have to resuscitate Priscilla, since her lungs seem to be full of water. This is another one of those 'fun' mini-games. Basically, you will have to perform CPR by pressing a button to fill up the breath meter and then pressing it again to breathe into Priscilla's mouth.
Once she recovers, someone from the village will carry her back to her house. The lady who owns on the first house on the left will also let you rest at her place for free. Nice! In the morning, visit Priscilla in the house with the stairs leading up to it, and Priscilla will first give you the Shiva materia, and then offer to use Mr. Dolphin's help to get the party to the upper Harbour! Double nice!
The only issue is that you will have to navigate another mini-game that is kind of a pain. You will have to find the right spot to stand and then call Mr. Dolphin to launch you into the air. If done right, you will land on a metal girder that connects to upper levels. If not, you will fall back down into the water. Once you make it, you will then be able to climb up the pole to the airport. Head over to the lift and take it to the lower level, and then take the exit across from the lift to enter the Harbour proper.
Once inside, a Shinra captain will mistake Cloud for an out-of-uniform Shinra soldier and order you into the locker room to practice maneuvers for the parade being held in Rufus' honour. This mini-game... well, it sucks. It was hard enough on the PS1 version, but it is way harder on Steam. Essentially, this is practice for the next section. Different buttons will do different things with the gun. You will also have to stay in step with the other Shinra soldiers.
Anyway, once practice is done, you will need to join the parade, which is already in progress. How well you keep up with the other Shinra soldiers will determine the live TV ratings, which, in turn, determines which item you will get as a reward. 29% or lower will net you a measley grenade, 30-39% will get you 6 potions, 40-40% will get you 6 ethers, and 50% or more will net you 5,000 gil.
Once it is over, you will witness Heidegger, one of the Shinra 'execs' getting berated by Rufus, and then you will return to the locker room automatically to prepare for the 'send-off' ceremony for Rufus. This is another one of those 'fun' mini-games. Anyway, once the 'drill' is over, you will actually be able to control Cloud again. You will have to head off to the ship that Rufus is leaving on, but you will actually be able to explore Junon first.
When you're out of the locker, take the exit on Cloud's right, which should be YOUR left, onto the main area of Junon Harbour proper. You should see Rude walking towards you, but don't worry about him. He'll disappear into an alley where he will end up in a bar under the materia store. You can go down there if you like, but there's no point since nothing happens. Unless you find Rude getting hammered in a bar exciting.
Anyway, the first shop on the left side of the map, the one with the fat guy standing in the door way, is the materia store. You will be able to get the Seal and Revive materia here. The alley Rude went down only leads to the aforementioned bar, and there's literally nothing down there. The next store on the left will be the item shop. The last door on the left will lead to some goodies! Now, once you enter, if you take the passage on the left and enter the room there, you will be able to find a ladder leading down to the Respectable Inn. It's kind of like Beginner's Hall in Sector 7. There's an Enemy Materia down here if you want one.
Once you had enough with the Respectable Inn, head back up, and take the stairs up a level. In the rooms on the left, you will find some items: a 1/35 Soldier, a Mind Source, and a Luck Source. On the third and final floor, you will find a Power Source and a Guard Source. Once you've nabbed all the goodies, head back outside and continue onwards. You'll head past the lift-thing that Rufus took up and into the tunnel. There is a passage leading to the left, but you can't go down there as the way is blocked. So, just continue to the other side and keep going until you get to the next section of shops.
The first door on the right leads to a bar where Elena, Reno, and Tseng are just hanging out for some reason. There's nothing to do here, so just carry on. The next door leads to an Inn with a Save Point inside. The staircase on the left leads up to a second materia store, and there is an accessory store on the third floor. The next door on the right will lead to a room with a Speed Source inside of it, and a staircase leading up to an area where you can nab a second 1/35 Soldier. The final door on the right is the Weapons Shop.
Once you're done shopping and exploring the depth and breadth of Junon Harbour, head all the way down to the end of the map and you will arrive at the docking yard for the ship. You now get to take part in the Send-Off mini-game, which is only mildly less infuriating than the parade mini-game. How well you do affects Rufus' mood, and that affects what prize you get. 0-50 gets you Silver Glasses, 60-90 gets you an HP Plus materia, and 100+ gets you the Force Stealer sword. There's nothing left to do but to head onto the boat.
The ship will depart and you will then find yourself in the holds. If you explore the cargo hold, you will find an Ether and an All materia, and if you keep exploring the ship, you should find the rest of your team. A sailor running around the deck will sell potions and phoenix downs, and also give you 'Invisible Alpha' which serves the same purpose as resting/using a tent. Once you've found and spoken to Tifa, head to the front of the ship and you will find Barrett spying on Rufus and Heidegger.
However, the alarm will sound... Sephiroth has made it on board! Somehow. I mean, did he walk on water, or just Solid Snake his way on board? Details, people. Details. Head down to the cargo hold, and the door to the engine room is no longer blocked. Go through, and you will find a single Shinra soldier with their back turned. Before approaching, if you take the ladder on the left and head around the catwalk, you will find a treasure box containing a Wind Slash.
Anyway, approach the Shinra guard, and he will turn around and collapse to the floor. Then Sephiroth himself will appear, fly around, and then disappears, leaving you to deal with part of Jenova... Jenova-BIRTH. Boss time! This fight shouldn't be too tough as long as you are prepared. Just bear in mind that Jenova-BIRTH has a powerful attack called Tail Laser that it can sometimes use twice in a row, dealing 200 damage to everyone in the party per hit. Jenova-BIRTH can also cast Stop. If you have already learned the Enemy Skill 'Flamethrower', that attack can be pretty effective. You can also use Choco/Mog and Shiva to great effect.
Once Jenova-BIRTH has been defeated, make sure to grab the Ifrit materia before leaving, as it is the only one in the game. You miss it, you can't master every materia. Exit the engine room, and the ship will reach the other side of the ocean to the resort town of Costa del Sol. After a brief cut-scene featuring Rufus and Heidegger, you'll be free to explore this lovely little town. There's not much to do here, although you can find Hojo on the beach... 'relaxing'. He'll advise you to head to Mt. Corel. There are a few items to be had, and, in the unlikely event you have enough money, you can buy former President Shinra's beach house for the low price of 300,000 gil.
Once you're stocked up, rested, and ready to move out, leave Costa del Sol and head north-west. You should find path leading into the mountains. This is the entrance to Mt. Corel, and it's the only path you're able to take on foot, since you currently have no means of crossing rivers. The path forward is pretty straightforward. Head up the path for two screens and you'll come across a mako reactor. Follow the winding staircase down and then follow the railway tracks south.
You should arrive at a bridge; follow it across to the other side and you'll reach... more railway tracks! Now, in this area, there are sections of track that are damaged and, if you stand on them, you fall. Now, if you allow yourself to fall instead of mashing whatever button it is to prevent the fall, then you will have the chance to get some items. To do so, press and hold the button to move left or right and mash whatever the OK button is. Pressing and holding to move left will allow you to nab a Wizard Staff, whereas pressing and holding to move right will get you a star pendant.
You have three chances to get one of these items, so you can mess up once and still get both, or mess up twice and get one. Aside from those bonus items, there are some other items in this area that are less annoying to obtain. There will be a chest containing a W Machine Gun at the top of a section leading up. To reach the other side, simply backtrack and head down the path leading down, and it will let you ascend the other side, where you can find a Turbo Ether and a 'Transform' materia.
Now, when you get to the end of this section, there will be two paths, one up and one down. The own leading down leads to a dead end (for now) as it is leads to a raised drawbridge. If you take the path up, however, and follow the path round, you will reach the bridge controls. Inside the little shack will be a Tent, a Mind Source, and a Power Source. You can use the little lever to activate the draw bridge, and those not in your current party will saunter across. Now, in the area outside you will hear some chirping. Now, you can climb a section of wall that will lead to a bird's nest. If can bring yourself, you can take 10 Phoenix Down's... but doing so will cost you. A battle with some Cokatolis. Okay, so not that big of a deal.
Backtrack and then take the lower path to cross the drawbridge and continue all the way to the right and you should come to a rope bridge. Cross that and you will end up in North Coral, the remains of Barrett's home town. Once you arrive, Barrett will get a pretty cold reception. Now, to get back on the world map, you will exit the bottom-right... but, should you exit onto the world map, you'll find that, once again, you are stuck. There's a huge impassable desert with some kind of golden tree-like structure in the middle, and impassable rivers on either side.
So, you can go to the world map to save, but make sure to re-enter North Coral. If you go to the bottom-left section of North Coral, you will see a sign pointing to the left saying 'Gold Saucer'. Follow it into some kind of station, and Barrett will fill you in on his past, which also explains his hatred of Shinra. Anyway, you can enter the blue vehicle in the middle. Remember that gold structure in the middle of the desert? Well, it's the theme park, Gold Saucer, and the blue vehicle thing will take you there.
Now, you might be wondering, how will a visit to a theme park help with the quest to track down Sephiroth? Well, Gold Saucer is the best (and only) theme park in FFVII and, aside from spending some time to unwind, there are a lot of people there who may have information about Sephiroth. The admission price is 3,000 gil for a one-day pass, or 30,000 gil for a lifetime pass. You probably can't afford a lifetime pass right now, but you'll definitely want to get one later on in the game.
One thing to note is that, to use the save point in this area, you need to spend 5 GP. Not gil, but GP. You can get GP either through the mini-games at the theme park, or you can buy them from a guy who occasionally appears in this area, but it is 100 gil for 1 GP. Anyway, it seems as if everybody needs a little down time, so pick a travel partner and explore. If you visit the Speed Square, you will bump into Dio, the owner of Gold Saucer, who will mention that a guy in a black cape with a number 1 tattoo came asking about a 'Black Materia'.
Next, visit the Wonder Square. Here, you will meet Cait Sith, a pretty lousy fortune teller who insists on joining the party to see if his predictions come true. After this encounter, you will now be able to visit the Battle Square. However, inside the Battle Square, you will find a dead Shinra soldier, with more dead soldiers further inside. But it wasn't Sephiroth, since they had bullet wounds, and Sephiroth only uses a bladed weapon. This is right around the time, however, when Dio arrives. Cait Sith will then run away, and Cloud, et al. will follow him. Unfortunately, you get cornered by these weird mech things, and then dropped down a hole into the prison at the base of Gold Saucer.
Well, that escalated quickly. No judge, no jury, no trial, nothing. What kind of due process does the world of FFVII even have? Anyway, you will find yourself in Corel Prison, which is actually the remains of the rest of what used to be Corel. Moreover, the whole prison is surrounded by impassable desert, so escape is impossible. Barrett will be there but will run off past a dead guy through an open gate. It's the only way to go for now, so just follow him.
In the next area, if you go to the house on the right beneath the billboard, you will find Barrett. After killing some guy hiding behind the couch, he will fill you on what is happening. Barrett and his friend Dyne were on their way back to North Corel when they were attacked by Scarlet, with both men losing an arm. Barrett had a gun grafted on to his missing arm, but he knew of someone else who had a gun attacked to their other arm, and theorises that it may be Dyne, whom Barrett had thought killed in the attack.
Barrett will join the party. Leave the house and then head back to first area of the prison. A gate to the north will now be open with another dead guy lying around. Go through the gate and in the next area, go through the gate on the right and head right to the next area. If you head to the top-right part of this area, you will continue on to a kind of cave. Far from being a happy reunion, Dyne has dedicated his life to destruction... including Barrett. Barrett will then have to face Dyne in a 1v1 boss fight.
This battle can be tricky, given that Barrett is all alone here. However, as long as you keep Barrett's HP up and use his limit break's on Dyne, it should be over quite quickly. One thing to note, however, is that whilst his S-Mine attack doesn't do any more damage than his regular, physical attack, he can use it right after said normal attack. This can lead to Dyne dealing 300 hit points of damage in one go. He also has a final attack called Molotov Cocktail that inflicts roughly 150 hit points of damage, and he can also use it when his HP is low.
After the battle, Dyne gives Barret a pendant to give to Marlene and then throws himself off the cliff. In the morning, you will then visit Mr. Coates. Upon learning that Dyne is dead, he will agree to help you. If you want to get out of Corel Prison, you need to win a Chocobo Race. You will then meet Ester, who will offer to be Cloud's manager and will take Cloud to the Chocobo Racing area. After taking an elevator up, you will enter the Jockey's Lounge. DO NOT LEAVE THIS AREA. There is a Ramuh materia here and is the only one in the game. Miss it, you can't get the achievement for mastering every materia.
When the bell sounds, the other jockeys will leave. Follow them and the chocobo racing mini-game will begin. The chocobo racing mini-game here is relatively straightforward: the goal is to get ahead without exhausting your chocobo. The AI jockeys will push their chocobos way too hard in the beginning, so you can just keep at a steady pace, even if one goes flying past you. Don't sprint until reach the space-themed area. Once at that area, gun it and run like hell. Also, bear in mind, that you can gradually refill your chocobo's stamina by pressing whatever you've keyed the R1 and R2 buttons to on the keyboard.
If you lose, you can retry, but, once you've won, you will let out of Corel prison and Dio will give you a buggy as an apology, which will enable you to cross deserts and shallow rivers! Once you have the buggy the very first thing you should do is... head back to Costa Del Sol. Don't disembark before entering, just drive into Costa Del Sol. Bear with me on this one. Once in Costa Del Sol, head back to the dock and speak to the sailor in front of the ship you arrived on and you head back to Junon. Do so.
Once back at Junon, exit back to the world map, which involves traipsing all the way through Junon, but, trust me, it'll be worth it. When you appear back on the world map outside of Junon, you will find that the buggy came with you. Nice! The reason why you should backtrack here? Well, there is a cave with a sleeping old man inside that was inaccessible when you first went by. Should be close to where you exited coming from the Mythril Mine. You need the buggy since the cave is on the other side of a shallow river.
Now, go inside and talk to the old man. Keep leaving, entering, and speaking to the old man until he tells you how many battles you have fought. If the last two digits are the same, and it is an odd number, he will give you a piece of Mythril. Chances are, they won't be. However, make sure to make a note of whatever it is. Your goal is to get to the nearest odd number where the last two digits are odd. So, if you have fought 100 battles, you would need 111 battles. If it is 112 battles, you would need to have fought 133, and so on.
Why do you need the Mythril? Well, it's quite simple really. You need it in order to get Aeris' final limit break, and given later events in the game, it is imperative you teach her said final limit break sooner rather than later. You won't be able to do anything with it until later, so hang on to it for now. For now, you will need to stop and pay a visit to Gongaga Village. Just in case it wasn't obvious, Gongaga Village is basically just a ruined Mako reactor surrounded by grass. Park the buggy. Upon entering, you discover the Turks.
Unfortunately, they spot Cloud and the party. Elena will run away to pass on information to Tseng, but Rude and Reno will attack the party. One tip here is to focus at first on Rude, since he is the healer in this battle. Aeris' Seal Evil limit break has a chance of paralysing both, assuming Aeris is in your party and she knows Seal Evil. This should be a short and easy fight. The disconcerting thing, however, was that it seemed like the Turks were waiting there for them. Almost as if a spy where amongst the party. Who would do such a thing? I couldn't possibly imagine.
After the battle, head to the left, where Elena ran off to and you'll arrive as the destroyed Mako reactor. You will witness Scarlet and Tseng show up in a helicopter to survey the materia here. It turns out it's not the materia they are looking for. They are looking for something called 'Huge Materia'. Hmm, sounds interesting, but I'm sure that'll never show up at any point in the game.
Once they are gone, if you inspect the area Scarlet was looking at, you will find a Titan materia! Head back to the crossroads, making sure you nab the Deathblow materia along the way. The village will be on the right. If you visit the hut in the bottom-right corner the couple there will ask Cloud if he ever knew anybody named Zack in Soldier, and, if Aeris is there, she will recognise the name.
Aside from that, the only thing to do here is to check out the weapons and materia stores, stock up on any items you may need, nab any items that may be lying around, and then head back to the world map and back into the buggy. If you continue on in a Westerly direction, and begin heading up, through another river and into some rocky terrain, your buggy will (in)conveniently break down. Coincidentally, it will do so right next to a town. Well, there's nothing to do but to go inside and request help with repairing the buggy.
Cosmo Canyon is a pretty cool place; not only is it a place dedicated to the study of the planet, not only does it have a really cool planetarium at the top of the town, but it is Red XIII's hometown. Moreover, prepare for a shocking discovery: Red XIII is NOT Red XIII's real name! I know, right? Makes you question everything. You will also meet 'Red XIII's' 'grandfather', a mysterious floating dude called Bugenhagen. Of course, those who have played the game who know this fact can name Red XIII 'Nanaki' way back in Midgar, leading to some pretty hilarious dialogue.
Anyway, there should be a guy who kind of looks like a construction worker. Speak to him and tell him you're not there to study, and he'll offer to fix the buggy. Also, if you stop to speak to Barrett, he will reveal some of Avalanche's history to Cloud; this was where Barret hoped to bring Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie once Shinra were finally stopped. Once you've quite finished farting about, following Red XIII up the stairs on the left-hand side to meet Bugenhagen.
Bugenhagen is at the top of Cosmo Canyon in his laboratory. He'll ask if you want to see his observatory and allows you to select one of your party members to take with you (with the exception of Red XIII). Once you have picked that person, speak to Bugenhagen and he will take you up into his observatory. Here, Bugenhagen will explain what is really at stake in the fight against Shinra.
He will explain the lifestream, some kind of spirit energy within the planet that is made up of the souls of deceased beings and is responsible for life continuing on the planet. When someone dies, they return to the lifestream. When someone is born, their spirit is drawn from the lifestream. So, basically, a form of the Gaia hypothesis heavily influenced by Japanese Shintoism. Shinra extracts Mako energy from the lifestream, which is slowly drying up the lifestream and killing the planet. Once the lifestream is all used up, the planet WILL die.
After this depressing lecture, head back down to the bottom and you will find your party members sat around the big, central flame (i.e. the Cosmo Candle). Make sure that you speak to everyone, but leave Red XIII for last. He will talk about his mother and father, prompting Bugenhagen to appear. He asks Cloud and Red XIII to accompany him, along with a third party member of your choice. Follow Bugenhagen, and he will lead you to a locked door. He will open it for you, leading to the Cave of the Gi.
This should go without saying, but you only have access to this area during this portion of the game. Once your business here is concluded, Bugenhagen will seal the door once again, preventing any future access to this area. I mention this because this area is full of goodies, and is also a good place to get EXP, etc. as there are a few battles that have to be fought in order to continue, as well as several such optional fights that yield good rewards.
Once you've descended down the various ladders, and climbed down the rope, you should enter the first area of the cave proper. One thing to note is that there will be an 'Added Effect' materia in the top-left side that is currently inaccessible, but is accessible from another section of the cave further on. Now, in order to advance, you have to inspect one of several holes in the wall and break a rock in order to open the hidden door that leads further into the cave. One of these rocks will do this, but the others will lead to fights against Gi Spectors.
Now, the 'correct' rock is the third from the left, but I personally like to break the other rocks so I can fight the enemies for experience and so on. Now, the next section is where things get a little maze-like, but it should not be too hard to navigate. Head forward, and you should see a split to the left, but with what appears to be a dark, golden-brown substance covering the path. If you try to run over said slime, you will slide out of control into the wall of spikes on the other side, doing damage to your party.
So, walk across, and then head down, and you will find yourself back in the previous section of cave, in the previously inaccessible area with the 'Added Effect' materia. Make sure to grab it! Now, head back up and back over the slime. Then head up, go left, and take the stairs down. If you go all the way down to the bottom of this path, you will find a 'Black M-Phone'. Whereas, if you go right and then up under the arch, you will find an Ether.
Once done, head back up the stairs and to the top-left to get to the third section of the cave. This area will have five paths to take. From left to right, I will refer to each by number from 1 through to 5. Paths and 1 and 5 don't go anywhere, and neither does path 3. First, take the fourth path. You will enter a scripted battle once you reach the spider web against a spider-like creature called a Stinger.
These guys are tough as far as non-boss fights go, as they have an attack called Sting Bomb that reduces your party's HP by 70-80%. It can't kill you directly, kind of like Demi, but it means any follow-up attack could be lethal. Anyway, these guys are great for experience and all that stuff. If you continue all the way to the top, you will find a chest with an X-Potion. I highly recommend getting this item.
Head back down and then go through the second path, again, you will enter into a scripted battle with a Stinger. Now, there are two hidden paths before exiting to the final section of cave. There will be a path to the left that splits into two directions. If you follow it and go down, and keep going down, you will enter a secret passage. Continuing all the way down will lead to nowhere, but if you stop roughly halfway and then head right, you will happen across a chest with a Fairy Ring inside. Backtrack and then head up. Just before the exit to the next part of cave will be a secret passage on the left leading to a chest containing a Turbo Ether.
Once you're done, head up and into the final section of cave. As you approach the face on the wall, it will come to life and attack you. You will enter into a boss fight against Gi Nattak and two Soul Fires. Now, there are two ways of beating this guy. The good old-fashioned way of actually fighting him, which can be a pain as the two Soul Fires will periodically possess a party member and inflict fire damage on them, and the Gi Nattak can drain both HP and MP. Or you can use either a Phoenix Down, which has a 1/4 chance of one-shotting him, or an X-Potion, which is a guaranteed insta-kill.
Once defeated head through the new opening into the valley outside. Bugenhagen will teach Red XIII the truth about his father (no, he's not Darth Vader, just in case you are wondering). But it turns out that his dad wasn't a useless schlepp after all. Make sure you pick up the 'Gravity' materia on the way out. Once back in Cosmo Canyon proper, someone will inform you that the buggy is now miraculously fixed. Moreover, Red XIII will decide to continue with you on your quest to stop Shinra and find out what the deal with Sephiroth is.
Speaking of Sephiroth, the next town you happen across will be Tifa and Cloud's hometown, Nibelheim. Yes, that Nibelheim. The one Sephiroth burned to the ground and massacred the inhabitants. Yet, somehow, everything is exactly like it was prior to said slaughter. Moreover, the inhabitants will claim to have no idea what you're talking about when you bring up aforementioned incident.
There's also a bunch of guys in black hoods. Definitely conspiracy theory material. Anyway, if you speak to these cloaked guys, most will give you an item. There will also be items in some of the houses. One will have two Luck Sources, one will have an Elixir, one will have a Turbo Ether, and one will have a Platinum Heart. You will want to head to the Shinra Mansion. There will be two hooded guys outside, and one of them will imply that Sephiroth is inside. The mansion itself will be full of enemies, but there will also be chests containing items.
One will container a Silver M-Phone, one will container an Enemy Launcher, one will contain a Magic Source, and one will container a Twin Viper. As you enter the mansion, you may want to go to the bottom left as there will be two notes here. One will mention someone trapped in the basement, and the other will mention a safe. According to the note, you will only have 20 seconds to open the safe correctly, and, if you keep reading, it will give you hints about the combination.
Now, you could figure out the combination on your own if you want. The hints are kind of vague, though. The first hint is 'look for the lid of the box with the most oxygen', the second is 'behind the Ivory's short of tea and ray', the third is 'the creek in the floor near the chair on the second floor. Then to the left five steps, up nine steps, left two steps, and up six steps. The last is just '(missing)'.
Well, thinking about it logically, 'the lid of box' could refer to one of the treasure chests. But which one is located in the room with the most oxygen? Well, if you go upstairs, and go to the left, you will find a circular room full of plants. Once you open the chest, go around and inspect the lid and you will find something written on the back: 'Right 36'. The second clue is more baffling, since it seems to be have been mistranslated out of the original Japanese and so has improper grammatical structure.
The only thing that logically makes sense is the reference to 'ivory', which is a colloquial term to refer to a piano. So, something to do with a piano? Well, there is a piano on the room to the left on the ground floor. But what on earth does short of tea and ray mean? Well, apparently, it refers to a location that is near the tea room, and to the sunrays coming through the windows. Basically, if you check the floor around the piano, you will find a note: 'Left 10'.
The third clue is easy enough to understand, but you have the laborious task of actually finding the squeaky floorboard in question. Well, there's a squeaky floorboard next to the chair in the upstairs bedroom. Just follow the directions and you should end up halfway up the little corridor in between two rooms on the right-hand side. Inspect that point and you will get the following note: 'Right 59'. The only issue is finding out the last dial, and the fourth clue is missing.
Is it a matter of trial and error? Because that would be tedious. Well, all is not lost. For if you go back to the clue sheet in the bottom-left of the ground floor, you can uncover the fourth clue. You see, the last clue is written in invisible ink. Whilst reading the clue sheet, the fourth dial is hidden but still accessible. Selecting it allows you to read the hidden/missing note, which is the last dial to the safe combination: 'Right 97'.
You now have the combination to open the safe, although you might want to save the game before opening it, or waiting until later on in the game. Assuming you are brave enough to open the safe now, put in the combination within the 20 second limit. If you mess up, you will have to start again. Opening the safe will trigger a boss fight against Lost Number, who is one tough customer at this point in the game. Although, it is much easier if you have Aeris in your party and she has learned Seal Evil. It is worth noting that this monster is split into two halves.
The red half will use magic attacks and the purple side will use physical attacks. The red side is resistant to magic attacks and the purple side is resistant to physical attacks, so attack appropriately. If you use Seal Evil, it will be paralysed for most of the fight. Using Choco/Mog will accomplish the same thing. If you kill one side, then the other will use stronger attacks. Beating it will get you Cosmo Memory, which teaches Red XIII his final limit break of Cosmo Memory, once he has learned all of his other limit break attacks. Lost Number will also drop the Odin materia on the ground, and you will be able to collect the Key to the Basement. Intriguing.
If you head to the basement then you will now be able to unlock a previously locked door down there. Once you reach the bottom of the stairs, at the end of the passage, right before you exit to the next area, will be a locked door on the right of the screen. With the key, you will now be able to enter. You will find a coffin inside, and interacting with it will reveal a man. Speak to him and make sure to talk about Sephiroth.
However, after talking, he will return to his coffin. Speak to him again and he will reveal his name, Vincent. Moreover, he casually lets drop that Sephiroth's mother was a woman named Lucretia. Huh, I thought Jenova was Sephiroth's mother? The plot thickens. He will return to his coffin, and you won't be able to get him to come out. Leave the room and head to the library area. Here you will come face to face with none other than Sephiroth himself. He will reference something known as 'Reunion', and invites Cloud to go to Mt. Nibel before throwing a piece of materia at him and then flying off.
The piece of materia will be a 'Destruct' materia. If you spoke to Vincent before or after entering the library, he will join your part as you leave, netting you the following achievement:
Get Vincent on your team
To get to Mt. Nibel, just take the path near the Shinra Mansion to get back to the world map and then the entrance to Mt. Nibel is a short hop, skip, and a jump away. This area, much like Nibelheim and the Shinra Mansion, should look familiar enough, since it's basically identical to the flashback sequence at Kalm. Follow the windy mountain trail. Now, there are two area with chests that are optional. One split occurs with a path leading to the right, leading to a chest that contains a Rune Blade, which is worth getting, imo.
The second chest is only reaching at a fork right before the bridge. There is a path leading up, follow it, and then there are a couple of hidden bends round corners. At the top is a chest with a Plus Barrette. Anyway, take the bridge across. Don't worry, it won't break this time. Now, on the other side will be an area with a bunch of tubes heading to various parts of the lower level.
First, take the third tube (they're numbered, and there's five of them, so it's kind of hard not to know which one is the third one). This will drop you by a chest containing a Power Soul. Head all the way back up, and, this time, take the fourth tube and it will drop you off in an area where you can get an 'All' materia. At the bottom, you should notice a large creature. Whatever you do, don't attack it yet.
First, it is time to explorer for some decent items. There should be a path to the left of the path the creature is apparently guarding, which leads to the area Cloud, et al. ended up in when they fell from the bridge all those years ago. You should be able to jump down, enabling you to take the entrance to the cave below. Inside said cave will be a chest containing an Elixir. The trick to getting to the chest is to head up and then left, just past where you can see the chest. There should be a hole in the wall that you can enter. There is a secret passage leading to the part of the cave with the chest inside.
Backtrack and head up to exit the cave. You will end up at the materia fountain. Inspecting it will yield you an 'Elemental' materia. Head on into another cave with a chest inside containing a Sniper CR. Exit that cave and take the path up and you will find yourself outside the infamous Nibelheim reactor. Except there's nothing in there. Which is odd. You'd think the developers would have at least put SOMETHING in there, but no. Anyway, head past the reactor and you will find yourself back in the main area with the tubes and the big monster.
Make sure you save your game here, as this guy is a tough customer. Plus, this is one of few chances you will get to learn the Trine Enemy Skill. The monster in question is the Materia Keeper. Most of its attacks will cause 200-300 points of damage, with Trine causing 500 points of damage. One thing to note is that Fire magic heals it, and it is immune to gravity based attacks like Demi. Whereas lightning and ice attacks are effective, as are Limit Breaks. When it is defeated, you will get a Jade Ring, and it will also drop a 'Counter Attack' materia.
Now the path it was guarding is cleared, head down, and you will return to the area where Cloud ended up after the falling incident in the flashback at Kalm. Except this way leads to the exit. Follow the path round and you'll end up back on the world map. The town ahead is Rocket Town, so named because there is a rusting old space rocket teetering precariously in the centre of the town, i.e. this is where Shinra's ill-fated space program was based.
As you explorer the town, shopping for the latest materia and equipment, man of the NPCs will refer to someone known as 'the Captain'. Go to his house and have a look around. He's nowhere to be seen, but, if you head out back, you will find a plane named the Tiny Bronco. You will be interrupted by the Captain's assistant, Shera, who will inform you that the Captain is at the space rocket in the middle of town. She also tells you that none other than Rufus will be visiting the town soon.
Before you head to the rocket, speak to the old man outside the item shop. If you look at the rocket with him, he will give you a Yoshiyuki. Anyway, head to the rocket and you will find the Captain, whose actual name is Cid. Turns out, he was an astronaut for Shinra's space program who nearly made it to space, but didn't. However, he clearly states he has no intention of giving the Tiny Bronco to the party.
If you head back to Cid's house, Sherea will greet you. Cid will show up and begin berating Shera. The Shinra executives then show up. Go outside to check on Cid, and you will overhear that Rufus has no intention of restarting the space program. He just wants to use the Tiny Bronco. It's a small world, ain't it? Shera will interrupt you and informs you that Palmer is trying to steal the Tiny Bronco.
Interrupt Palmer, and you will initiate a boss fight against him. As can be expected, he is not a tough opponent in the slightest. Once enough damage is dealt, the Tiny Bronco will distract Palmer, since he turned it on and it has started moving, resulting in Palmer getting run over by a truck. You will hop on the Tiny Bronco, and Cid will join you as you fly overhead. However, Shinra soldiers will shoot at you, hitting the Tiny Bronco, leading to it falling into the sea.
However, despite landing in the ocean, it seems as if the Tiny Bronco can float and can somehow navigate the seas. Cid, with his dreams crushed, his prized possession either stolen or broken, and with Shinra now his enemy, joins the team. He mentions that Rufus was looking for a place called the Temple of the Ancients. At this point in the game, you can either head west to Wutai, where a bunch of side quests involving Yuffie take place, or you can try and find out information on the Temple of the Ancients.
I personally visit Wutai first since its right there. Now, you can only do the sidequests here if you have Yuffie in your party. When you land on the shore and start walking up the path through the mountains, Yuffie will turn up. However, you get interrupted by Shinra soldiers, and Yuffie hightails it. These guys aren't tough but you come to a startling discovery. All your materia is now gone.
Make the trek through the mountains and you will enter some plains with a town up north. This town, Wutai, is Yuffie's hometown, and is clearly modeled after Japan. When you enter the tow, you will catch a glimpse of Yuffie, who then runs off. You must now play a cat-and-mouse game of hide-and-seek that is as intricate as a well-played game of chess.
Unfortunately, the shop owners don't seem to want to actually sell you anything, although they will mention that Lord Godo lives in the north part of the town. Well, he sounds important, so I guess that's a good place to start. In the northern part of town, Godo's house is on the right. He'll be sleeping but, if you speak to him enough times, Yuffie will eventually show up. Turns out, Godo is her good 'ol dad. However, Godo will chase her out of the room. Rats.
Take the time to explorer Godo's place, as there is a hidden goody. In the bedroom next to Godo's is a clear fake-wall that opens up to a secret passage. Take said secret passage and head up to find an area with a chest containing a Hairpin. Return to the south part of Wutai and have a good look around. Search everywhere, including Turtle's Paradise and Da-Chao. Return from Da-Chao, the boy outside of the item shop will tell you he keeps hearing a pounding noise from inside.
Enter the item shop and the person who was previously blocking the chest will be in a different location. Inspect the chest to pick up an 'MP Absorb' materia. Of course, Yuffie will swoop in like some kind of fell beast, steal it, and then run away again. Look around town and you should see something suspicious at the house near the entrance. You can clearly see Yuffie trying to hide behind a screen. Inspect it, and the screen will open, revealing the rambunctious ne'er-do-well herself. She will once again flee.
Head back outside and you should notice something. The stone jar outside will be wobbling slightly. Inspect it and have Cloud punch it several times, and Yuffie will jump out and will apparently concede defeat. She will lead you to her own place, down into the lower floor. She will tell you to pull the lever on the left. In reality, both levers will drop a cage on the rest of your party, and Yuffie will once again hightail it.
This time, head back to Northern Wutai. You will notice that the gate to the left is now open. Head to the gong and interact with it to sound the gong. Doing so will open a hidden door. Enter the door and you will find that Yuffie has been kidnapped, along with Elena of the Turks by none other than slimeball extraordinaire, Don Corneo. It's almost too horrible to be true. But, before chasing him, make sure to nab the Swift Bolt and Elixir in the two chests.
Follow Don Corneo and his goons and Corneo will get the slip on you, leaving you to fight another Shinra goon squad. Return to southern Wutai, and Rude and Reno will inform you that Don Corneo has fled to Da-Chao. It almost feels wrong teaming up with the Turks, but its in both your mutual interests to do so. Once in Da-Chao, head up the path and then take the path leading up where it splits.
Head up and go around the big head to the left and you will see a cave ahead. There are a bunch of goodies in here for now, but only one is accessible for now, a Dragoon Lance. The rest are behind impenetrable walls of flame. Anyway, from outside the cave, head down and you will come across Corneo. Both Yuffie and Elena will be tied to the face of Da-Chao. Moreover, Corneo reveals he will let them drop and fall to their deaths if Cloud doesn't back off.
Corneo then summons his new pet, Rapps. This fight is made difficult by the fact that you still lack all of the materia Yuffie stole. Great job, Yuffie. Well done. Rapps does attacks that deal 200-400 points of damage, and can cast Aero 3 which does 1,500 points of damage. Make sure you've stocked up on Hi-Potions and Phoenix Downs. Beating this beast nets you a Peace Ring. Of course, Corneo isn't going to give himself up and is about to let Yuffie and Elena drop. Of course, the Turks show up and... save the day? Rude appears and hits Corneo with a well-timed, well-aimed rock throw, and Reno coldly lets Corneo fall to his death.
However, in recognition of Cloud's effort in saving Elena, and due to the fact that the Turks are 'on vacation', they walk off rather than try to capture the party. Yuffie will then return all the stolen materia, but will put it back wrong, meaning you will have to re-organise everybody's materia. However, the shop keepers will now actually sell you their wares. Moreover, a ladder in the cat house will appear, enabling you access to another hidden area containing an 'HP Absorb' materia.
Moreover, if you place Yuffie in your party and go back to northern Wutai and then enter the Pagoda, Yuffie will have the option of fighting each master there, one per floor. The first is Gorki, who loves gravity based attacks. So, naturally, make sure Yuffie is equipped with the Elemental-Gravity materia combination in her armour slots. It is also advisable to equip her with Cure, Barrier, and Counter Attack. Cast haste, and it should be an easy enough fight. Defeating him will get you an X-Potion.
Fight two places you against Shake, whose Rage Bomber attack can deal around 600 points of damage. Of course, barrier cuts that in half. Moreover, he is vulnerable to paralysis making Choco Mog a great choice for this fight. Defeating him with get you a Turbo Ether. The third fight is against Chekov who is capable of causing paralysis and likes to drain HP. Equip Yuffie with the Jade Ring to protect against paralysis, and case haste and barrier.
The fourth fight is against Staniv. Basically, just use haste and barrier, and it'll be over in no time. You will net an Elixir for defeating him. Now it's time for the big one... the shakedown... the pay off. The fifth and final fight is against the big cheese himself, Lord Godo. Unlike the previous four, Godo is actually tough. In his boss form, he has three faces that have different attacks. The red face attacks with Beast Sword, dealing 250-300 points of damage, and also Trine, dealing up to 1,000 points of damage.
The gold face casts status ailments, like Sleepel and Mini, and will also heal Godo when his health gets too low. The white face casts Drain, Bio 2, and Demi 3. Well, then... Equip Yuffie with Counterattack, Heal, Cure, Time, and Barrier. Moreover, equip the Added Effect-Poison materia combination to her weapon slots. When the fight begins, use haste, barrier, and then cast regen to keep her health up. Cast slow on Godo, and just wail on him until he goes down. Defeating Godo will net you the Leviathan materia, as well as All Creation, which teaches Yuffie her final limit break! You will almost certainly have used her first limit break at least once by now, unlocking the achievement:
After this, there's nothing else you can do in Wutai for now, so head back to the other continent and take your buggy to the Gongaga area. Down here you should find a house belonging to a Weapon Seller. Previously the weapon seller himself wasn't actually here, but now he will be wandering around and you can actually do stuff here now. First, speaking to him will reveal some limited information about the Temple of the Ancients. Apparently, you need an item called the Keystone to gain access. Unfortunately, he has already sold it to Dio, owner of the Gold Saucer.
Before leaving, speak to him again and give him the piece of Mythril you get earlier. Then, go and inspect the small box. This will get you the Great Gospel item, which teaches Aeris her fourth and final limit break, Great Gospel. Now, at this point I strongly encourage you to do some grinding to teach everybody all of their limit breaks. Essentially, you will need to use the first limit break x number of times until the second limit break is unlocked. Then it is a matter of getting kills with a character to unlock the next tier. Rinse and repeat. Using the final limit break item once all previous six limit breaks will unlock their final limit break.
Assuming you haven't already, you will get the following achievements:
Use Cait Sith's 1st limit
You can also use All Creation, Cosmo Memory, and Great Gospel to teach Yuffie, Red XIII, and Aeris their respective final limit breaks:
Moreover, you can learn Cait Sith's final limit break without needing an item, as he only has two limit break attacks, Dice, and Slots. You can learn Slots just by getting 40 kills with Cait Sith:
Get Cait Sith's last Limit Break
These will be the only final limit breaks you can learn for now, so it is now time to head to the Gold Saucer. Time time, you will want to definitely shell out the 30,000 gil for the lifetime Gold Pass if you haven't already. Head to the Battle Arena, and check out Dio's showroom off to the right. The Key Stone will be at the end. The big man himself will arrive, but won't let Cloud borrow it. However, if Cloud participates in the Battle Arena, Dio might give it to him as a reward.
It doesn't matter how well you actually do, as he will give the Keystone to you regardless. Although if you make it through all 8, you will also get a Protect Vest and a Choco Feather. This will also net you the following achievement:
With the Keystone now in your possession, it is simply a matter of finding the Temple of the Ancients... but the tram back to North Corel is broken. Fortunately, Cait Sith will use his Gold Saucer connections to get you rooms at the Ghost Hotel. Cloud will be interrupted in the middle of the night. Now, usually it is Aeris, but if you've somehow managed to balls things up with her, it will be someone else, depending on how well you've treated your party members.
Anyway, assuming you've been somewhat decent to Aeris, she will ask Cloud to take her on a date. Before leaving Cloud's room, make sure you check the dresser for an Elixir. Anyway, you will first be directed to participate in a stage show. You can play along or deliberately mess it up for funnier dialogue if you like. Once that is done, you can then go to the Gondola. Afterwards, however, you'll notice Cait Sith is acting strangely... he has the Keystone. Chase Cait Sith, and, eventually, Tseng will show up in a helicopter, and Cait Sith will throw the Keystone to him.
Nevertheless, despite being the spy, Cait Sith will freely give you the location of the Temple of the Agents, and will also decide to tag along whether you want to or not. To get the Temple of Ancients, you will need the Tiny Bronco. According to Cait Sith, it is east towards the sea. You can actually see it from the world map if you are close enough, as it is a giant Ziggurat surrounded by jungle.
It is located on an island southeast of Gold Saucer. Once you get there, you will find more cloaked/hooded guys, who will mumble something about Sephiroth before apparently dying. Inside the temple entrance you will find an injured Tseng who was apparently stabbed by Sephiroth. He will give you the Keystone and tells you how to use it. Placing the Keystone in the altar will let you gain access to the maze-like interior.
When you arrive, you will see a strange, purple creature run-off. Now, there are various items scattered throughout that are worth getting, even if they are kind of tough to see how to get to them, owing to the MC Escher style appearance of the place. First, head forwards, then left, then forward, then right, down the stairs. Then, you are going to want to go up through the arch, right through the next arch, down the vines, and then right, underneath the staircase above. The treasure chest here contains a Trident.
You are then going to have to go right, and then climb up some vines. You won't be able to go through the archway here, as some magic force will repel you, so go left, and then up the staircase and up the vines. Grab the Mind Source, and then go through the archway down the stairs on the left. Inside this room is a chest containing a Silver Rifle, and the purple being you've been chasing. Aeris explains it is one of the 'spirit bodies' of the ancients. Anyway, you will then be able to buy items from the purple dude, as well as rest, and save your game. Nice.
Go back outside, and you will see a second purple ancient guy who immediately runs off. Go back up the stairs and down the vines. This time, head down through the archway, making sure to grab the Turbo Ether on the ground. Go down the large staircase and the path from here is fairly linear. Go left, underneath the archway, and then down the stairs. Left and down around the pillar, and then down the vines at the end of the pathway there.
Go up and you will find a treasure chest containing a Rocket Punch. Go right, down the stairs, then up, right, and then up the vines. Here the path splits. Before going left, you will want to go up the stairs in front of you, and then go through the archway. You will then head right, down some stairs. You will then want to climb the long vines there. At the end of the path of the top will be a 'Luck Plus' materia. Head back to where the path split, and then head left and then down underneath the arches, and then left through another archway.
So, you've navigated the maze and made it past the first challenge/trial/puzzle. The next part involves making a mad dash up a lengthy corridor whilst evading large boulders, Raiders of the Lost Ark style. Although the trick to getting past is pretty simple, as each boulder is U-shaped, and so all you have to do is stand where the gaps are so they can just roll over you harmlessly. If one does nail you, then you get dragged back to the beginning.
Once you reach the end, then the trap will shut itself off, and you'll return to the pool off to the side in the middle. Here, you are presented with a flashback of Sephiroth attacking Tseng. Make sure to grab the 'Morph' materia once you are done. The second purple ancient guy will be at the end of the corridor, and will sell you wares, restore your HP/MP, and let you save the game. Another challenge completed!
Go down the stairs and you will end up in a large circular room with a pit in the middle, with giant clock hands acting as the path ahead. When you first enter, it will let you set the minute and hour hands, enabling you to choose one of 12 numbered doors to gain access to. One thing to note is that, if you are walking on either the minute hand or hour hand as the second hand goes by, it will knock you off into the pit below, triggering a battle, but allowing you access to that part of the maze area that was guarded by magic. If you deliberately allow yourself to fall down here, you will be treated to a Nail Bat in the chest for your efforts. If you decide to do this, simply backtrack through the maze area back to the clock room.
Now, the list of what is through each of the 12 doors is as follows:
I: Enemy encounter with two Toxic Frogs and a Jemnezmy.
II: Dead End
III: Enemy encounter with two 8 Eye.
IV: (which is incorrectly labelled IIII): Princess Guard, which is Aeris' ultimate weapon.
V: Gives you access to part of the labyrinth that is otherwise inaccessible, where there is a chest containing a Ribbon.
VI: Leads to the Door Maze, and where you need to go to advance the story.
VII: Leads to a chest containing a Trumpet Shell.
VIII: Leads to a chest containing a Megalixir.
IX: Dead End.
X: Leads back to the rolling boulder room.
XI: Dead End.
XII: Leads to the exit, but which is locked right now.
Once you've gotten all of the goodies, and fought the various scripted battles, go through door number VI, which will lead to the Door Maze. As you enter, a third purple ancient dude will run off with the keys to the door in the centre into an opening at the opposite end of the top layer from you. Now, entering one of these will deposit you out of one of the others in the lower levels. The goal is to enter the door that will deposit the purple guy out of.
Each door is linked to another door, but just because entering one causes you to exit another does not mean that entering the door you came out of will deposit you out of the door you went through to get there. If we number each doorway from left to right, going down row by row, then, starting with the top-left door, and ignoring the top-right one since that is the area entrance/exit, as well as the big door in the middle, since that is the door you need to unlock, we end up with the following numbering scheme:
Top Row: 1
Middle Row: 2, 3, 4, 5
Bottom Row: 6, 7, 8, 9
I shall now label each exit point for the corresponding entrance point above:
Top Row: 9
Middle Row: 4, 6, 1, 8
Bottom Row: 5, 2, 7, 3
So, when the purple guy enters the top-right door, it will kick him out of door number 9 on the bottom row. Observe which door he enters, and then use the information to catch him. You can jump down a row, but you won't be able to jump back up. Also, once you are done, there is a chest on the bottom row containing a Work Glove. Once you catch him, go back to the top row and enter the previously locked door. The purple ancient guy, much like the prior two, will now sell you wares, let you rest/replenish HP and MP, and will let you save your game.
You will enter a large, long room with murals, which you should recognise from the vision you had earlier. At the end will be an altar, and you will encounter Sephiroth, who will drop vaguely worded, cryptic half-sentences about his master plan. Cloud will briefly freak out, but then apparently gains realisation of Sephiroth's grand plan. However, you will then be attacked by a Red Dragon, leading to another Boss Fight.
This chap absorbs fire damage and is immune to gravity based attacks. However, it is susceptible to poison, so start off by hitting him with Bio 2. Moreover, cast barrier and haste on your party. You can also use Regen, to keep your health up. Defeating it will net you a Dragon Armlet, and it will also drop the Bahamut materia. Make sure to grab it before leaving, since if you miss it, you will be unable to go back for it. Also, at this point, de-equip Aeris, for reasons FFVII veterans will know.
Now, it turns out, the Black Materia isn't IN the temple... it IS the Temple. In order to obtain it, you have to 'solve' these puzzles on the altar at the end of the long room. However, doing so will shrink the Temple down to the size of a regular piece of materia, crushing the person inside. However, Cait Sith volunteers for this duty, as he is, in reality, an artificial being that is being remote controlled, and he can be replaced with another artificial construct/being.
When you return to the clock room, the path will be stuck so you can only get to the exit from here. Cait Sith will show up, and suddenly the room itself will come to life and try and kill you. You guessed it, boss fight. Now, this boss fight, which is reminiscent of similar boss battles of prior FF games is a tough one. Demon's Gate has 10,000 hit points, has high damage attacks, and likes to use status effects on you. First thing's first, barrier and haste up the team. The one status effect he likes to use is petrify, so it is wise to have the Heal materia equipped. Unlike the Red Dragon, the Demon's Gate is immune to poison.
You will receive a Gigas Armlet for your trouble, and Cait Sith will sacrifice his artificial body to shrink the temple down to size. Cloud and Aeris go to claim the Black Materia, but then Sephiroth shows up, and somehow mind-controls Cloud into giving the Black Materia to him. Way to go, Cloud. Meanwhile, Cait Sith's replacement artificial body shows up. Cloud then has some kind of weird dream of Aeris going off to fight Sephiroth alone. When he comes to, Aeris is no longer in the party, and you will all be in the inn at Gongaga Village. Well, that went swimmingly well.
The Tiny Bronco will be parked on the coastline just away from Gongaga. Now, in Cloud's dream, Aeris was in the Sleeping Forest, and the only way to get there is through Bone Village, which is so named since they engage in various sorts of archaeology and paleontology... and because all the structures are made from skeletons of long-dead giant creatures. Bone Village itself is located just off the coast of the northern continent. Once there, speak to the locals and they will give you the information about how to travail the area ahead.
You see, you can't just waltz into the sleeping forest and emerge the other side. You see, the forest is 'sleeping', hence its name. Trying to get through the sleeping forest in its current state won't get you anywhere. What you need, is a lunar harp. As it just so happens, said lunar harp is buried in the vicinity. If you speak to the foreman, he will let you place as many as 5 workers for 100 gill each, and then set off a seismic device. The workers will then measure the seismic activity and point to where a hidden item is. You then select a place to start digging, and the chest outside will contain either an item or nothing.
The actual lunar harp is located in the upper section, in the area to the left and just down of the big bone tent thing. Once you have the lunar harp, you can then enter the forest. Enter the sleeping forest, and you will see a piece of red materia that keeps appearing and disappearing in the trees in the second area of the forest. Grabbing it gets you the 'Kjata' materia. The third screen will be a rocky area with a chest containing a Water Ring. To get to the ring, go underneath the log. To progress to the end of the screen, climb the red plant, and then go across the log. You will then continue on to an area that exits onto the world map.
You will exit in a canyon. Right ahead of you will be an upside-down conical structure. This is the City of the Ancients, and is one of the more haunting locations of the game, as it is completely devoid of inhabitants. Enter the City of the Ancients, and there will be three paths, one left, one straight ahead, and one to the right. If you head to the left, and then go through the doorway in the next area, you will enter a structure with a save point, and, on the upper level, a chest containing a Magic Source on the upper.
Continue past the first house on the left, and you will arrive in an area with a spiral staircase leading to an Aurora Armlet. If you backtrack to the split in the road, and then head right, you will have two houses on the right, as well as a path on the right ahead, and then a path to the left. You can't take the right path yet, since it exits the city to the next area, and the path to the left leads to a dead end. In the first house on the right, there will be a chest at the top level containing a Guard Source.
In the next house will be a chest on the right containing an Elixir. Continue to the next floor and your party will rest for the night. Cloud will then wake in the middle of night. Before continuing, grab the 'Enemy Skill' materia, and then head pack to where the path splits into three. This time, go straight ahead and into the building up there. Make sure to grab the 'Comet' materia at the top before taking the staircase down. Head down the staircase and you will find yourself in a crystalline city. Follow the path around and you will find Aeris.
Cloud will then resist Sephiroth's mind control, who tries to get Cloud to kill Aeris. Whilst Cloud resists, Sephiroth gets the drop on you and kills Aeris himself. Sephiroth will then gloat and leave you to face another Jenova creature, Jenova-LIFE. Jenova-LIFEs attacks are all water based, so it is a good idea to equip one of the party, preferably Cloud, with the water ring. Use MBarrier and Haste, and, if you have it, use Quake 2 or 3 with the supporting characters and let Cloud just wail on Jenova with his sword.
One thing to note is that Jenova-LIFE can cast reflect on itself, and can also use the Enemy Skill, 'Aqualung'. This marks the end of the first disc of FFVII, but since this is the Steam version, you don't need to change discs, but you will get the following achievement:
Once you're ready to continue, take the right hand path on the right hand section of the City of the Ancients, just above the two houses. Before heading up the spiral stairs, grap the Viper Halberd out of the chest. Climb the conch-shell staircase and then enter the cave at the left hand side. Now, there are a bunch of goodies in here that you won't want to miss. Climb the second crack, and choose to go left. Climb up the next crack all the way to the top and get the chest on the left containing a Bolt Armlet. Go back down, and, this time, choose to go right. Go right to the end, and then climb down the crack and get out on the left. There will be a chest here containing a Hypno Crown.
Climb back up, and continue up and get out on the right. There will be a chest with a Megalixir in here. Go to the left side, take the crack up and then left. Go to the bottom of the ladder to find an 'Magic Plus' materia. Now, climb the ladder all the way to the top and take the door on the far right side. Get the chest on the right, as it contains a Power Source, and then exit the cave onto the world map.
Continue by heading west, and then wrap around the mountains to find another town, the appropriately named Icicle Inn. If you try to leave through the other exit, at the back of the town, you will be stopped by one of the locals. Tell him you are leaving, and Elena of the Turks will show up and threaten to punch you in the face for hurting Tseng... even though that was Sephiroth. If you dodge to the left or right she will go rolling down the slope. If you let her deck you, you will regain consciousness in one of the houses.
Said house will actually turn out to have belonged to Ifalna, Aeris' mother, as well as Professor Gast. Basically, here you find video recordings basically showing that Gast was Aeris' dad, and that Hojo eventually tracked them down, shot and killed Gast, and then kidnapped Ifalna and Aeris... who would later escape to the Sector 7 Slums train station. Turns out Hojo is quite the A-Hole. If you try to exit the town from where you came in, the way will be blocked by Shinra soldiers, who are ordered not to let anybody enter or leave until Rufus arrives.
In order to get to and traverse the Great Glacier, i.e. where the other exit leads to, you will need a map and a snowboard. If you try to leave without those two things, then you will be stopped by aforementioned local. First, head to the right side of the town and enter the middle building that is slightly further back than the other two. Inside, take the stairs up and inside a chest you will find an X-Potion.
Exit and enter the house below on the right. In the top-left corner will be a Hero Drink and a Vaccine. On the wall below, down and to the right slightly, will be a map of the Great Glacier. Make sure to take it. Go back outside and then go to the house on the left. Inside, you will find a snowboard. You are now ready to traverse to the Great Glacier. Before leaving, make sure you are equipped with armour, etc. that is good for dealing with ice damage. Just in case it wasn't obvious.
Now, when you exit Icicle Inn, you will be treated to a snowboarding mini-game that is basically the same as the one in Gold Saucer. One thing to note is that the snowboarding course splits in two locations, and which splits you take determines where you will end up in the Great Glacier. The Great Glacier is kind of huge, as there are over a dozen different areas, of which, you can end up at one of four possible landing points.
If you take the left path first, but then take the right path on the second split, you will arrive in the entrance of the Great Glacier. You can exit to the world map from here in order to save your game if you want. Alternatively, you can walk back to Icicle Inn from here, but you'll have to go through the Snowboarding mini-game again. If you take the left path both times you will land in the forest area north of the entrance. If you head right both times you will land in an area to the right of the entrance, which has a cave that leads back to the world map.
If you go right the first time, and then left the second time, you will land next to a tree just above of the entrance. Moreover, this area is particularly maze-like, and there is an area that is only accessible from one other, yet has two exits. The entrance to the Great Glacier, is marked on the map at the bottom with a square sign symbol. It's also worth noting that you can only wander around for a certain amount of time before you succumb to the cold and wake up at the exit, which is where you need to go.
However, there are goodies to be had, some particularly nice ones. Although, due to the convoluted, maze-like structure of the Great Glacier, you will have to take a more circuitous route than one might have otherwise surmised to get them all. Starting from the entrance, head north and you will arrive in an area full of trees. If you go all the way north in this area, you will find a Mind Source. Grab it, and then head back to the middle and then head right until you each an area that has some trees at the bottom, but there will be some water on the left hand side. Head up and to the right, and you should see an ice-flow to the left that stretches into the north-west of this screen.
Head onto said ice flow, grab the Potion there, and head up into the top-left corner. This will take you to an area with a bunch of little icebergs in the water. To get to the other side, you will need to navigate this iceberg maze. Stepping on a piece of ice will cause nearby pieces of ice to switch sizes. You can only step on the large pieces, and if you do it wrong, you end up in the ice water below. To get across take the following path after jumping onto the first piece of ice: North, West, South, West, North, East, North, North, North, West, South, East, East, North.
Once on the other side, continue ahead into another area, which has a cave in the middle. Enter the cave, and there will be a Safety Bit all the way to the left. The way back across the ice puzzle after jumping onto the first ice block: West, South, East, East, South, West, South, East, South. You will then want to backtrack back to the area full of trees, north of the entrance. Once back, go straight across to the west part into an area that is similar to the area with the ice flow. Except there will be no trees at the bottom, except for a single, solitary tree with no leaves right next to an isthmus connecting two sections of land with water on either side.
Head to the top-left into the next area, and you will end up in a rocky area all covered in ice. Head up, into a cave and you will find an Elixir. Exit the cave and head down but then go to the right and take the exit on the east side of the screen. You should end up in area with a log over a small crevasse. Head over the log and exit to the next area. You should end up in area with a single tree. Head all the way to the right side of the screen and exit to the next area until you reach a rocky area with multiple paths. From here, head all the way to the end of the path, and then head north. Now, in the second connecting area, there will be an Added Cut materia.
You should then end up in area with some hot, steaming springs. Make sure you go to the hot spring and touch the water there. Once that has been done, head north. Now, you will end up in a big snow field that is kind of similar to the world map. If you head all the way east you should end up in area with a cave on the right. It is vitally important that you do not go down, since backtracking won't take you back to this area. Go into the cave, and walk up to the woman. This will initiate a fight against a Snow. After defeating the Snow, it will drop the 'Alexander' materia.
Head back the way you came to the snow field. Now, you will want to go north, but there is a cave in the centre of the snow field containing an 'All' materia. Once you have that, you will have collected all the goodies available. Now, if you head all the way north in the snow field, you will reach a cabin owned by Mr. Holzoff. This is also where you will wake up if you pass out from the cold. He will provide you advice about the travails that lie ahead in this perilous and treacherous climate. Make sure to save and rest up before continuing.
You will now have to engage in some rock climbing, whilst simultaneously preventing Cloud from freezing. In the Playstation version, you would mash the Square button to warm Cloud back up, so, in the Steam version, use whatever you've keyed that to in order to keep Cloud's body temperature up. If his body temperature gets too low, you will pass out and wake back up in Mr. Holzoff's cabin. Anyway, once you are ready, head north outside of his cabin to reach the Gaea Cliffs.
The first rock-climbing sections is actually fairly straightforward and linear, so just climb to the top, making sure to stop at each ledge to warm Cloud back up, and then, at the top, you will find an entrance to a cave. This area is where things get to be more maze-like again. Head north underneath the arch, and through the door to the next screen. From here, head left then down again to re-enter the previous room. Go down and then right across the bridge. Now, if you keep going right, there is a hidden passage leading to a secret room with a chest containing a Ribbon.
Head back over to the ice bridge, and then head up to find a chest containing a Javelin. Head to the left and through the door to re-enter the second room. Head up the narrow passage and through the door at the end to end up in the top-left hand side on the uppermost level. Here, there will be a boulder. Push it and it will roll through the cave and destroy a blockage preventing access to the rest of the cave. From here, backtrack to the previous room, and then across the ice bridge opposite the secret room, and then up back into the second room again.
The way ahead is now clear, so head up and around to the right and enter the doorway up ahead and it will wrap around to a higher level just below the level with the ice boulder. Head all the way to the right and you will find the exit to the next section of rock-climbing. This time, the path ahead is a little less straightforward. From the ledge you start on, head up all the way, making sure to ignore the path that leads to the right as that is just a dead end. Then, head up and to the right, then up. From this ledge, head diagonally to the top-left and, from this hedge, diagonally to the top-right, and you will reach the entrance to the second section of cave.
In this cave, the way ahead will be impassable due to there being water in the way, as well as a chest in the top-left corner that is currently inaccessible. In a chest on the right, there will be an Elixir. Then, head to the door in the top-right and then, in the next screen, head along the path, around the bend, and along the path to the end and you will enter an area with a chest on the right containing a Fire Armlet. On the left, however, will be a bunch of large, icicles handing from the ceiling. Walking into them will trigger a mini-boss battle, one per icicle. Defeating them will cause the icicle to crack and fall down into the room below.
After defeating the icicles, head all the way to the left and it will give you the option to jump down. Instead, go to the end of the passage to find a Megalixir (incorrectly labelled 'Last Elixir'). Then head back down to the room below. The chest in the top-left corner will be now accessible and you will find a Speed Source. Head through the big door that was previously inaccessible, and along the path in the next screen, stopping to get the chest, which has an Enhance Sword inside. Go around and then back down the top part of the path and you will find yourself in the lower section of the icicle area.
Take the path down and you will emerge outside at the third and final section of rock climbing. Head right and then straight up, then, from the next ledge, head up all the way. Then head right and up to the next ledge, and then up to the entrance of the final cave section. There will be a save point here, and also a pool of water that restores your HP and MP right next to it. I recommend using both of these, since there is an upcoming boss fight. Head right of the save point and then down the long hallway, and one of the hooded dudes will come flying out towards you, following by a two-headed dragon, Schizo.
I'm not going to lie, this guy can be quite a pain, because one head has ice-based attacks and absorbs ice damage, and the other head has fire-based attacks and absorbs fire damage. Meaning if you hit both with the same elemental attack, you will damage one and heal the other. Moreover, you will also need to make use of armour, accessory, and materia combinations that reduce and/or absorb ice and/or fire, or at least mitigate some of the damage from these elements. Moreover, Schizo is immune to Gravity, and will periodically use Quake 3.
I recommend a combination of MBarrier and Regen to mitigate the strength of their attacks. Moreover, once you defeat Schizo, both heads will get off a final attack that will deal 1,000 hit points of damage. At the end of the hallway will be the exit back out to the cliff where you can climb to the summit of the Northern Crater. Once inside, if Tifa isn't in your party, she will join here.
As you progress to the left, there will be a piece of materia on the ground. PICK IT UP. It is the 'Neo-Bahamut' materia and IS MISSABLE. Just to the left will be a save point. On the next screen, you will come across a thin strip of land. Two fallen cloaked guys will be up ahead. Interact with them to get a Hi-Potion and an Ether. In this area, the high winds will occasionally form a barrier to prevent you from heading forward. The trick is to wait for the winds to die down so you can cross safely.
Once the winds have died down run across to the next area. In this area, follow the path round, and get the chest as it contains a Kaiser Knuckle. Continue to the top and you will enter another area where high winds prevent safe passage. However, this time, there will also be green bursts that you will have to dodge as well as waiting for the winds to die down. When it is safe, run across to the next area.
Here, you will actually run into Sephiroth himself, who is busy murdering his cloaked followers. Man, that's one heck of a death cult. He will then disappear briefly before launching another Jenova creature at you, Jenova-DEATH. This version of Jenova will use fire-based magic and attacks so go in with equipment that absorbs or mitigates fire damage. Begin by casting MBarrier, Haste, and Regen on everybody, and then cast Slow on Jenova if you can. Also, have someone with Esuna, since Jenova-DEATH will occasionally case Silence on your party.
Defeating Jenova-DEATH will get you a Reflect Ring. Moreover, it appears as if Sephiroth has dropped the Black Materia. Tifa, the lone voice of reason, suggests Cloud gives the Black Materia to someone else not in the party. However, your actual choices are limited to Cid and Red XIII, since nobody else will even take it from you. Make sure to grab the 'MP Turbo' materia ahead, and there will be a chest on the left near the exit with a Poison Ring inside. There will also be a save point here, so I advise you make use of it.
The next area will be the third and final wind barrier area. In addition to the wind barrier, there will be the green waves from the prior area, plus lightning bolt strikes. Once it is clear to go, proceed ahead. This is where loads of crazy stuff happens: reality will begin to warp to resemble Nibelheim. You will see a scene similar to the one you saw in Kalm during the flashback sequence, but it will somebody else instead of Cloud. Sephiroth will appear and claim that Cloud was created by Hojo along with the rest of the cloaked guys, and is thus also a Jenova-filled puppet.
Cloud will try and pass it off as illusion, but Tifa doesn't appear to be so convinced... Around this time, the Shinra executives will show up at the centre of the crater, and whoever you entrusted the Black Materia to will suddenly get a visit from Tifa, who will tell them that Cloud needs them. However, after they run off, it will turn out to be Sephiroth. Cloud will then take the Black Materia, and will deliver it straight to Sephiroth. Then all hell breaks loose, and several gigantic creatures are released from northern crater: the Weapons.
Seven days later, Tifa wakes up alongside Barrett in Junon Harbour where they are informed Shinra that they are being blamed from the impending destruction of the planet via Meteor, and will be summarily executed on live television. Which is ironic, when you consider that Shinra dug up Jenova and used Jenova's cells to create Sephiroth in the first place. I mean, if we're going to start pointing fingers, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, stones in glass houses and all that stuff.
Tifa and Barret are then led to an execution chamber, with Tifa scheduled to be gassed first. She will be strapped into a chair in a special execution room. One of the guards, however, will accidentally drop their keys in the gas chamber next to Tifa's chair. Before she can get executed, however, one the Weapons shows up, and all hell breaks loose as alarms flare, etc. Although it is not named in-game, the bonus fourth disc of the PS1 international version does refer to it as Sapphire weapon. Did you know? Now you know.
During the commotion, Cait Sith reveals himself and frees Barrett. However, the door to the gas chamber won't open. Moreover, Scarlett will activate the gas chamber and lock the press conference room. Cait Sith suggests going to the airport. As you make your way there, you will run into Yuffie, disguised as a reporter, making your party a full three members. Head to the airport, take the lift up, and then run to the right and you will arrive at the bottom of the Airship.
You will then take control of Tifa where you will have to play a sort of mini-game. You have to use various buttons to get Tifa to move part of her body, with the goal being to get the key that was dropped on the floor so she can free herself. Press the button to move her legs twice, then press the button to move her head so she will sit back up in the chair. You will then need to press the button that moves her head and the button that moves her legs simultaneously, so she can get the keys into her mouth. From here, you will need to press the button that moves her head, and one of the buttons that controls one of her arms (it doesn't matter which one). Then the press the button that controls the other arm, and she will be free!
Well, sort of free... she is still stuck in a gas chamber. Interacting with the orange button on the left side will stop the gas, but the exit is locked. Interactive with the exit will, however, trigger a cutscene. Sapphire Weapon will laser a hole in Junon Harbour that will, conveniently enough, open a hole in the gas chamber. Of course, the massive cannon will then blow Sapphire Weapon's head off. Oh, well that was short-lived.
Tifa will use the opening to escape to the outside of the building. Scale down the building until you are on the barrel of the cannon itself, and then run down. Scarlett will intercept Tifa, prompting to a slap fight. Once Scarlett is beat, run down to the very end and then the rest of party will show up in the Highwind, and Tifa will make her escape. Of course, Cloud is missing since his mental breakdown in Northern Crater. Speak to everybody on board, and then go to the operations room to create a new party, with Tifa as the new party leader.
Of course, finding Cloud can wait, as there are on or two things to be done beforehand. First, head back to Nibelheim. Head to Tifa's house, and upstairs to where the piano is. If you jammed on the piano as Cloud during the flashback at Kalm, then you will get an Elemental materia. That's all you do for now, though. If you return to Cosmo Canyon then a previously roped off area in item shop (ladder behind the big fire) will be gone, allowing you access to a room containing an Elixir, a Magic Source, and a 'Full Cure' materia. If you return to Rocket Town and go to the weapon store, you can now open a chest containing a Fourth Bracelet.
As a side note, now that you have the Highwind, you can now visit the Chocobo Sage if you so wish. His house is near Icicle Inn, north of Bone Village, surrounded by mountains. The fourth Enemy Skill materia is here, you can buy items, and he will impart advice about chocobos (but his memory is so bad you have to keep returning periodically to see if he has remembered anything worthwhile). Moreover, before continuing, head back to the Chocobo Ranch past Kalm and make sure to buy some Mimett Greens from Billy.
Now, how do you find Cloud? Well, if you return to Icicle Inn, a bunch of the towns people will mention a clinic on an island to the south of the eastern continent. As per the Grand List of RPG Cliches you can always tell where you need to go by talking to NPCs. They will either tell you to go somewhere, in which case you should go there, or they will tell you not to go there, in which you should still go there.
If you fly south of the eastern continent, you should find an island with a village/town on it. This is Mideel, so land the Airship and take a look around. Now, to continue with the story, there will be a random dog near the north-east. Before going here, however, there are some goodies to be had. First, if you visit the various shops, you should notice that a woman with a white chocobo in each one.
Go to the white chocobo, and interact with it. You will offer to feed it some 'Samolen Greens'. Well, did you purchase those Mimett Greens earlier? Because that is what is being referred to. 'Samolen Greens' don't exist in the game, it's some kind of type... Although how they managed to mistranslate from the original Japanese is rather puzzling. Once done, you are given the option of tickling the chocobo. Choose to tickle it behind its ears, and it will drop a 'Contain' materia.
Now, go to the weapon shop, and inspect the door at the back. You should get a notification that is is locked. Next, head across the wooden bridge, and inspect the area to the left of the guy in purple, and you should find a 'Beat-Up Useless Old Key'. Go back to the weapon shop and try to use the key on the locked door, and the shopkeeper will accost you. You are then given the option to lie your butt off or tell the truth. Opt to tell the truth, and the shopkeeper will give you a 'Curse Ring'.
Now, head to the north-east of Mideel, and you will discover that Cloud is alive! He washed up here some time ago, and is currently under the medical care of the doctor here. However, you also discover that he is in a catatonic state. Tifa will choose to stay with Cloud, and Cid will be made the next party leader. Before continuing off after the Huge Materia, go back to Mideel as Cid, and check the house near the Clinic that you were unable to visit.
Inside will be an Elixir that should be impossible to miss. The next order of business is heading over to North Corel. Make sure to save your game before entering, as it possible to lose out on several missables if you balls things up spectacularly enough. Exit North Corel through the northern entrance and head to the Corel Reactor. As you arrive, a Shinra train with the Huge Materia will depart. You will only have a limited time to stop the train before it crashes into North Corel.
However, Cid will steal another train in order to catch up. First, you will need to alternate the levers to catch up and align the train with the enemy. Once this is done, you will then jump to the enemy train, and then battle your way to the front of the train. The first fight is against a single Gas Ducter, and the second will be against two Gas Ducters. The third fight will be against a Wolfmeister, which has 10,000 HP, and the fourth fight will be against an Eagle Gun, which has 17,000 HP. The final fight will be against a single Shinra soldier, and so is easy enough.
Once you have beaten your way through the Shinra thugs, speed through the conversation and you will now have to move both levers up and down until the train stops. Stopping the train will net you the Huge Materia, an 'Ultima' materia, and a woman in the town with the black jacket and blue trousers will give you 'Catastrophe' if you speak to her, which teaches Barrett his final limit break of the same name. If you fail to stop the train, then will lose the Huge Materia, the Ultima materia will have to be bought for 50,000 gil, and the woman will not give you 'Catastrophe'.
Using 'Catastrophe' on Barrett will net you the following achievement:
The second Huge Materia is located at Fort Condor. It doesn't really matter if you've done the Fort Condor mini-game before, just bring lots of money. This will also serve as the final battle of Fort Condor. Strategically, the best bet is to have a few Defenders near the hut, Stoners, Tristoners, and Catapults at the top of each of the three paths, and lots of Fighters and Attackers down low, backed up by Shooters, Defenders, and Repairers.
At the end of the battle, the Condor will die, but a baby Condor will be born from the egg and fly off. Moreover, it will leave the 'Phoenix' materia behind. Go out and get it. Go talk to the old man and he will give you the second piece of Huge Materia. At this juncture, Cid will decide to go back to Mideel to check in on Cloud. Cloud is still catatonic, however.
Yet the trip isn't for nothing as one of the weapons, Ultimate Weapon, will crash the party, leading to a boss fight. You can't actually beat Ultimate Weapon here. Your goal is merely to survive and do enough damage to make him bugger off. Make sure to keep your party's HP up as Ultimate Weapon has several attacks that cause 1,500 points of damage. Make sure to use MBarrier to soften the attacks.
After the battle, the life-stream will burst through the ground and swallow a good chunk of Mideel, sucking Cloud and Tifa up. Tifa will awake in a void and quickly find herself in a strange place with multiple Clouds. Speak to the multiple Clouds and you'll eventually discover that Cloud was never a member of Soldier, he was just a regular Shinra soldier. The member of Soldier accompanying Sephiroth was Zack Fair, Aeris' ex-boyfriend.
Zack tried stopping Sephiroth and got his arse beat. Cloud, however, did save Zack and Tifa, and also somehow beat Sephiroth, dumping him into the bottom of the reactor. Sephiroth, however, being infused with Jenova cells, was unable to diffuse into the lifestream. Cloud and Zack were then captured by Hojo to be experimented on. Zack helped Cloud escape only to be gunned down by Shinra soldiers. Cloud awoke next to Zack's sword, and somehow formed a new identity. Sephiroth then took control of Jenova's body in stasis, and used its shape-shifting abilities to appear like himself. Makes perfect sense.
Anyway, once Tifa helps Cloud regain his sanity, he'll rejoin as party leader. However, there is still the task of getting the remaining two pieces of Huge Materia. At this point in the game, you will also now be able to breed chocobos at the Chocobo Farm. This will come into importance later one when it comes to accessing some of the harder to reach pieces of materia that are also some of the more powerful in the game.
Before continuing, head back to Nibelheim and have Tifa in the party. Go back to the piano and play it. Now, the tune to play on the Steam version on the default controls is: c, Insert, v, Page Up and V, Page Up and Insert, c, Insert, v, Page Up and c, x, c, Insert, c. Essentially, the theme from the world map. Doing so correctly will get you the 'Final Heaven' item, which will teach Tifa her final limit break.
Using 'Final Heaven' on Tifa will net you the following achievement:
If you head back to Bone Village, you will now be able to find the Key to Sector 5, allowing you access to the Sector 5 Slums in Midgar once again. It will be near the crashed jet plane on the lower level, just across from the item box, so dig near there. Once you have it, if you go back to Midgar, you can now go through the door into Sector 5 from outside. If you head to Wall Market and visit the Item Shop, interacting with the computer will get you Tifa's ultimate weapon, Premium Heart. Also, the guy in the weapon store (who sold you the batteries) will sell you a Sneak Ring for 129,000 gil.
The next port of call will be Junon, the location of the Underwater Reactor. Once again, there will be missables. Land outside of Junon, head into the village, and take the elevator up. Head out into the streets of Junon, and head down to the little tunnel. Instead of continuing out of the other side, the path left will now be accessible. Head all the way down and through the doorway into an elevator and you will enter a fight against two Shinra soldiers.
Exit the elevator and you will fight two more Shinra soldiers. Follow the passageway, and there will be a save point in the third corridor. Take the second elevator down and you will emerge in an underwater tunnel. Now, there is an enemy you will encounter here called a Ghost Ship. Make sure to run into one so you can use the Morph command on it in order to turn it into a 'Guidebook'. This will be handy for later on. Head down the tunnel and take the third elevator down.
Head along the walkway into the next area and make sure to use the save point as there will be an upcoming boss fight. You will run into Reno down here, but he will call in reinforcements. You will then have to fight Carry Armor, which is a tough fight. For one thing, it is a heavy hitter with powerful attacks and, secondly, it is capable of grabbing one of your party members, rendering them incapacitated, and also will deal damage to them as well.
Begin with casting MBarrier, Haste, and Regen on the party. Don't waste time on any debuffs as Carry Armor is immune to negative status effects. However, it is weak to lightning damage, such as Bolt and Ramuh. Once you have defeated the boss, however, the Huge Materia will have been loaded onto a submarine, which will have already disembarked. However, before entering the remaining Submarine to give chase, there is a treasure chest to the left hand side of the docks area containing Leviathan Scales. You cannot return to this area after leaving, so grab it now, as it is required for a certain missable.
Anyway, enter the sub and you are given the choice of either killing or sparing the crew. I personally spare them, but it does not make a difference. The next section will be a sub battle akin to the sub-battle mini-game in Gold Saucer. You will then have to catch and sink the red submarine within 10 minutes to get the Huge Materia. Although, once the battle is over, you will then have to find the sunken remains of the red submarine and inspect it in order to actually get said piece of Huge Materia.
After the battle, the submarine will automatically surface, and you will get a radio signal that Shinra is about to ship the last piece of materia from Junon Airport. Of course, once you get there, it will once again be too late, as you will see the Gelnika take off. Now, before heading off to Rocket Town, head back down underwater and find the sunken red submarine to get the third piece of Huge Materia.
Avoid the large, green monster swimming around AT ALL COSTS. This is one of the weapons, Emerald Weapon, and it WILL destroy your party utterly within a blink of an eye at this point in the game. Once you find the red submarine and get the Huge Materia, surface the sub and head over to where Costa del Sol is, and then head over to the river near the entrance to Mt. Corel. Submerge, and you will find an underwater tunnel. Take it to the end, and then resurface, and then disembark at the edge of the lake.
Use the PHS to add Vincent to your party if he isn't in the party already, and then walk up to the waterfall. Here you will find Lucretia, Sephiroth's actual birth mother. After speaking with her, the party will re-emerge back outside the waterfall. You will then need to engage in at least 10 battles. Once done, return here with Vincent and you will get the 'Chaos' item from Lucretia and Vincent's ultimate weapon, Death Penalty. Use the 'Chaos' item on Vincent to teach him his final limit break and this will net you the following achievement:
Get Vincent's last Limit Break
Once this has been done, head back to Wutai, and go to the fire cave in Da-Chao. With the Leviathan Scales, you can now put out the fire. At the first fire, head right into the alcove where the flames were emerging to get an 'Oritsuru'. Head into the cave further and past the second fire wall, and you find a treasure chest containing a 'Steal as Well' materia. Now, at this point, you will be able to access the sunken Gelnika, but the monsters there are too high level to deal with right now. So, there is nothing for it but to head over to Rocket Town.
When you arrive, you will find Shinra preparing to the launch the rocket with the Huge Materia on it towards Meteor. Fight your way through the guards, and climb up the ladder to the rocket and you will enter into a boss battle against Rude and a squad of Shinra soldiers. One thing to note is that Rude will cast Cure 2 on himself once his HP starts getting low. It is also worth noting that he has a lightning based attack called Guard Spark that deals roughly 1,000 hit points of damage. Moreover, if you cast reflect on him, his Cure 2 will bounce off of him and cure your party.
You will then reach the cockpit where Cid will decide to go through with the launch. Once in space, you will then be able to retrieve the Huge Materia. Of course, it is sealed in the rocket core, and you will need to enter in the code correctly to access it. You will only have three minutes to do so, however. The code is [OK][SWITCH][CANCEL][CANCEL]. Once again, this is a missable that is required for one of the achievements.
Once you have the Huge Materia, head for the escape pod. You will escape as the rocket collides with Meteor. However, the damage done is not enough to destroy it, and it will seemingly being repairing itself. Now that you have all four pieces of Huge Materia, head back to Cosmo Canyon to speak to Bugenhagen. Bugenhagen will suggest heading to the City of the Ancients in order to try and learn more about how they can stop Meteor and Sephiroth. However, before doing so, you will opt to leave all four pieces of Huge Materia in Bugenhagen's lab.
Now, if you have all four pieces of Huge Materia, and have obtained both the 'Bahamut', and the 'Neo-Bahamut' materias, then inspecting the blue Huge Materia will yield the 'Bahamut-ZERO' materia, netting you the following achievement:
Now, head to the City of the Ancients, and take the left path to the back. Bugenhagen will explain something about the White Materia and an ancient machine here at the city. Unfortunately, you need a key. The only clue is that the key is located somewhere in a place where "even light can't reach". In order to find it, head back into the submarine, and head north. Submerge, and hug the west wall until you reach a passage. The ancient key will be at the end, and you will acquire it automatically as you move into it.
Take the key back to the City of the Ancients, and Bugenhagen will use the key to activate the ancient machine. You will learn that Aeris has already successfully prayed for Holy, but that Sephiroth's presence is literally blocking it, meaning he will have to be taken care of so Holy can prevent Meteor from destroying the planet. As you leave, Cait Sith will provide intel on Shinra. Apparently, they have relocated the cannon at Junon Harbor to Midgar and tied it into the Mako reactors so they can use it to fire at northern crater, in an apparent effort to destroy Sephiroth.
However, around the same time, one of the weapon's, Diamond Weapon, will emerge and make its way towards Midgar. Head to Midgar, and land the Highwind. You will have to wait for Diamond Weapon to come to you to trigger a boss fight. Now, as with Ultimate Weapon, you can't defeat Diamond Weapon here. Your goal is merely to survive and inflict enough damage on it to end the fight.
Diamond Weapon is tough, and so begin the fight immediately with casting MBarrier, Regen, and Haste on the party. Diamond Weapon is immune to physical attacks, so only use magic attacks. It's Diamond Flash attack deals 1,500-3,00 hit points of damage and can inflict silence. Once you have dealt enough damage, it will carry on to Midgar and prepare an attack. However, Shinra's cannon will hit Diamond Weapon square in the chest, penetrating the creature and making a direct hit on the energy barrier protecting North Crater, killing Diamond Weapon, and destroying the energy barrier.
However, Diamond Weapon manages to get a barrage off at Midgar, which apparently destroys the upper levels of the Midgar tower, seemingly killing Rufus. You will get the following achievement:
Now, head north to North Crater, and you will see that the energy barrier is gone, but Cait Sith will announce that the cannon is now overloading, which could destroy Midgar. Fly over Midgar, and the party will parachute into the upper city. You will land at the base of a building. Approach it to arrive in another area, and make sure to sue the save point here. Take the ladder down into the next area.
The following area is a kind of maze; you need to head for a door in the middle, but there will be many different paths leading all over the place, as well as multiple items. Start by heading right, following the walkway up the ramp and then to the left. On the left hand side there will be a chest containing an Elixir. Whereas in a chest on the opposite side will be a Megalixir. Now, return to where you came in and, this time, take the stairs down, and then climb the ladder at the bottom into the next area.
Take the ladder all the way down onto the walkway below. At the bottom, follow the walkway to the left, and then up to the ladder in the background. Take it all the way up, back into the next area, and, at the top, will be a chest containing an Aegis Armlet. Of course, you will then have to climb all the way back down. Go back to the bottom of the ladder you climbed down to reach the lower area and, this time, head right. As you jump across the gap, the walkway on the other side will give out, depositing you first onto a pipe, and then onto a lower walkway.
This is necessary to continue. You will then want to head all the way to the left, and you will jump up onto the red pipe. Go all the way to the left, and then take the ladder up. At the top of this ladder will be... another ladder, this one taking you back to the upper level. You will now find yourself in a different part that was basically inaccessible previously. Follow the walkway round, and enter the chute at the end, on the right side of the walkway.
This will deposit you into another section of the lower area. At the bottom of the chute, there will be a slightly open, round area with two chests on either side. The chest on the right contains an Elixir, and the chest on the left contains a Starlight Phone. Now, there will be, once again, another ladder. Take it down and enter the chute on the right hand side. Take it up.
Exit the chute and take the ladder on the left up. At the top of the ladder, to the left, will be a chest containing a Max Ray. Now, head all the way back down, and take the ladder back up to the round area. This time, take the staircase up back into the upper area. There will be a doorway with a save point next to it. Use the save point. Going through the doorway will bring you into the train tunnels.
As you try to progress, however, you will be interrupted by Elena, Reno, and Rude. The good news is that they give you the option of fighting them or saving it for another day. I usually decide to fight them, for old times sake. Be prepared for a tough fight if you do decide to accept. One reason to fight them is that you can steal rare items from them. I just fight them for the fun of it. Anyway, you will want to begin by casting Wall on the party, followed by Regen and Haste.
One one thing to watch out of for is that Elena can cause confusion, and has a fire-based attack that hits the whole party at once. Whereas, Rude has the tendency to inflict critical hits that cause up to roughly 4,000 hit points of damage. The best bet is to hit the whole enemy party with Bio, and to use AoE attacks, like summons. After the fight, you will probably want to head back to the save point to heal up and save the game.
Now, back in the tunnels, head south past Barrett and you will come to a chest containing a Mind Source. Six screens south you will find a Power Source. Two more screens south you will find a Guard Source. Two more screens south you will find a Mind Source and a Magic Source. Finally, one more screen after that, you will find the 'W-Item' materia. Travel all the way back to where you fought the Turks.
Take the right to eventually come to the Shinra HQ Building. Cait Sith will blabber on about it not being the right way, but ignore him and enter the building. Remember the item shop? Well, the two chests at the back are now accessible. They contain a Pile Banger and a Master Fist. On floor 63, you will find a Grow Lance in the middle of the floor, and, in the lockers on floor 64, you will find Cait Sith's ultimate weapon, HP Shout. You can't go any higher than floor 65, though, what with Diamond Weapon having done a number on the Shinra building and all. Head back to the tunnels and, this time, take a left in the area just north of where you fought the Turks.
Run to the end of the street and you will be attacked by Heidegger and Scarlet's new creation, the Proud Cloud. This boss consists of two targets: the Proud Clod, which has 60,000 HP, and Jamar Armor, which has 20,000 HP. One thing to note is that its attack, Rainbow Ray, casts reflect on your entire party. Start off with Wall, Regent, and Haste, and use attacks capable of hitting both targets at once. One option is to have the Slash-All materia equipped.
Continue ahead and use the PHS at the save point to place Barrett in your party. The two chests on the right have an Elixir and a Mystile in them. Now, continue up the stairs to the next area. At the top of the first flight of stairs will be Barrett's ultimate weapon: Missing Score. However, it will only be there if Barrett is in your party. If you don't want Barrett in your party for the upcoming boss fights (yes, plural) then go back and switch him out at the save point.
If you take the stairs to the top and go all the way right, you will come to the controls of Shinra's cannon, the Sister Ray, where you will find Hojo, who is apparently overloading the cannon on purpose. He also reveals he has injected himself with Jenova cells, and promptly attacks the party. Wow, what an a-hole. In his first form, Hojo is pretty easy to take down, as he only has 13,000 HP. Just ignore the Capsule companions, as Hojo can just resurrect them ad infinitum. You can use haste on your party to speed things up.
Hojo's second form, Helletic Hojo, is where things start to get tougher. Aside from the main body, its two arms are also targetable. Left arm has 24,000 HP, and Right Arm has 5,000 HP, but they both can regenerate fairly quickly, so concentrate on the main body, which has 26,000 HP. Helletic Hojo can also cast status effects on your party, through attacks such as Sleepel and Confu. You can take out the right arm if you want, since it has so little HP, but concentrate the main attacks on the main body. Once the main body is dead, the arms will go with it.
Hojo's third and final form is Lifeform-Hojo, and is the toughest of the three forms. He has 30,000 HP, and like to use super-fast combo attacks that deal up to 500 hit points of damage each. The corollary to this, however, is that if you have counter-attack materia equipped, each single attack counts as one attack and so each single attack can trigger a counter-attack. He does have an array of status effects and spells that can target the entire party, so it would be a good idea to have at least one person equipped with a ribbon, if you have any.
Definitely cast Wall and Regen on your party at the start of this battle, although Lifeform-Hojo is fast, and hits hard, which might make Regen kind of useless. Lifeform-Hojo is also immune to gravity-based attacks. You'll definitely want to go all out with your strongest attacks. Once Lifeform-Hojo bites the dust, he's done for good this time. With Hojo and the rest of Shinra gone, the only thing left is to go and stop Sephiroth. In the PS1 version, this is where you would normally have to switch to Disc 3. As this is Steam, there is no need for that, but you will get the following achievement.
Now, to finish the game, you just head to North Crater, descend to the bottom, and then beat Sephiroth. But there are also side-quests, and, in the Steam version, there are achievements related to some of these side quests, plus some achievements that require a fair amount of grinding. You can go to North Crater and still return for side quests later, but there is a point of no return from which you cannot go back. So, I will guide you through the North Crater up to that point. There are no actual save points inside North Crater, but there is a chest early on which contains a save crystal, which can be used, once, to create a save point. The best place to create said save point will be right before the Point of No Return.
To access North Crater, simply hover over it with the Highwind and land. Descend the ladder and approach the edge of the screen, and you will slide down into North Crater. To get back to the Highwind, simply go through the cave ahead and then climb the rock ledge back up. In the chest next to the cave opening will be a chest containing aforementioned Save Crystal. If you follow the spiral pathway around, you will come to another chest, this one containing a Guard Source. Continue all the way to the bottom to enter the next area.
In this next area, begin by heading left and climbing down the ledge. Head over to the left, and then climb up to the ledge above. There is a chest here containing a Power Source, and also an 'HP Absorb' materia here, also. Drop back down, and then drop down to the next ledge to open a chest containing an Elixir. If you then follow the path all the down, there will be one more chest containing a Magic Source,
Now, climb all the way back up and, this time, head to the right. There will be two chests around the bottom of the right side, the first contains a Guard Source, and the second contains a Mind Source. Continue down to the bottom to another area. This area is fairly maze-like, since there are a bunch of worthwhile items scattered around, and the most optimal path to get them all isn't necessarily apparent.
Drop down to the first ledge below, and then turn right. Cloud will automatically drop to the ledge below with a treasure chest on it. Open it to receive a Mind Source. Next, turn right and walk to the edge of the ledge, but don't drop down. Instead, stop at the end and turn left, and you will be prompted to jump up to the ledge above. Do so. Then, walk left and drop down next to a cave entrance. Enter it to find a chest containing a Megalixir. Exit the cave, and head left. Cloud will then drop down several levels.
In a chest to the right will be a Hero Drink. Enter the cave to the left of the chest. Circle around to the right and get the chest on the left in the little alcove for Guard Source. Continue up and to the top-right, and you should be able to climb a little section leading to a chest containing a Power Source. Now, head to the top-left and exit the cave. Head right and drop down, and then keep going right until you drop down again. Enter the cave here, and the follow the path around to the exit.
Once you have exited the cave, drop off the left side and then continue down to the bottom until you reach the next area. Climb down the stalactites, and you should see the rest of the group not in your party at the bottom. The path here splits into two different directions. Now, whilst it does not matter who you pick to go where story-wise or achievement-wise, there is an optimal choice that you will get you the best number of decent items.
The best choice is to send Tifa right and everybody else left. Once the choices have been made, head over to the left. There will now be a second split. Once again, there is an optimal choice. Send Red XIII, Yuffie, and Cid up, and then take everyone else down. You can pick whoever gets to be in your active party, and will have one leftover. You may not have the party you have been using or even wanted, but, this way, you get the best items.
The lower-left path has a bunch of goodies in, and is divided into three area. It is important not to head past the third area, because you will reach the bottom of North Crater, and miss out on a ton of goodies. In the first area. a chest on the right contains an Elixir, and there will be a Remedy on the left. On the bottom-left side will be a chest containing an X-Potion. Continue to the second area. If you head to the right and jump off of the top floor, you will find a chest on the right hand side that contains a Vaccine. If you follow the path round, there will be a chest containing a Turbo Ether. Moreover, if you go to the glowing area in the top-left and inspect it, you will receive a 'Magic Counter' materia.
Continue to the bottom, and the exit to the third area of the left-lower path will be in the bottom-right. In this area, there will be a chest on the right just down from where you entered containing an X-Potion. Slightly further down will be a chest containing a Mystile, with a 'Mega-All' materia to the left of it. On the left of the screen will be a chest containing a Speed Source. Now, return all the way back to where the two paths split and enter the left-upper path.
In the upper area you will typically run into Magic Pots, who are invincible unless you give them an Elixir, and Movers, which drop a tremendous amount of AP, making this perhaps THE single greatest spot for leveling up your materia. This will be important for two achievements later on. For now, I would run from the Magic Pots, unless you have a ton of Elixirs. Although if you picked up the W-Item materia in the tunnels of Midgar, you can make use of the item duplication trick so you essentially can have an unlimited supply of items.
Begin by heading to the lower-right of the first area, and follow path as it wraps around and you will find a chest containing a Magic Source. Follow the pathway back and this time go up and to the right. Follow the path around and to the right and Cloud should dive into the water and then jump out on the other side. Now, head to the left and get the chest to the top-left to find a Remedy. Then, go all the way to the right to enter the next area of the left-upper path. In this next area, you cannot get to the treasure chest closest to you right now.
For now, head to the chest in the top-left and open it to find a Vaccine. If you then head right, and then up the ledge and follow the path around to the left, you should find a 'Shield' materia. If you then walk downwards from this spot, Cloud will once again dive into the water. This time, he will re-emerge next to that treasure chest in the bottom-left corner. Open it to find an Imperial Guard. Jump back into the water to get back to the ledge, and then head back to the path heading right. On the other side of the screen will be a chest containing a Hero Drink.
Head to the top-right corner to the third area of the upper-left path. In this area will be two pieces of materia. One is in the glowing centre, the 'Counter' materia. The other is directly north of it and then to the right slightly, and is obscured by vines. This materia is the 'W-Magic' materia. This is the last area of the left-upper path, so head back to where the first split occurred and, this time, take the right path. There is no second split here.
Now, in the right path is an enemy called Dragon Zombie that has an Enemy Skill called Pandora's Box. This is the only place to get this Enemy Skill before the Point of No Return. Moreover, only the first Dragon Zombie you encounter will actually use this move, and only at the end of the battle. So, you may want to return to the surface to save your game. When you are ready, follow the spiral path around the huge stalactite to the bottom of the screen to enter the second area.
In the next area will be a chest containing a Mystile, and another chest containing an Elixir. Grab them and continue down to the next area. In this area will be a chest on the right containing a Megalixir. In the top-left will be another chest with a Megalixir. In roughly the centre of the area will be a chest containing a Speed Source, and near the bottom right, just below aforementioned chest, will be a chest containing a Tetra Elemental. Exit to the left hand side of this area, and then continue over the bones and then down.
Now you can exit down into the final area of North Crater before the Point of No Return. Follow the path around to the right to find one last chest containing a Luck Source. Keep following it around to reach your party members. This is the best point to use the save crystal. Speak to your party members, and you'll get a ton of goodies, including duplicates of items you should have already gotten. Note: this only happens if you did not exit to this part of North Crater at any point prior to backtracking and grabbing all the extra items.
Now, you could go and face Sephiroth now... or you could head back to the Highwind to finish all the side quests before hand. The first order of business should be to find the sunken Gelnika. Go back to wherever you left your submarine, enter it, and submerge. Again, AVOID Emerald Weapon at all costs at this point, since it still far beyond your party's capabilities. Enter the Gelnika, and use the save point on the left. In the chest near the door is a Heaven's Cloud. If you head through the door to the right you will enter some walkways with various goodies.
In the bottom right corner is a chest containing an Escort Guard. In the top-left corner will be Yuffie's ultimate weapon, Conformer, which is slightly hidden. In the top-right should be a 'Double-Cut' materia and a chest containing a Megalixir. Backtrack and this time take the door to the left of the save point. If you head here before the Raid on Midgar and stopping the Sister Ray, you will fight Rude and Reno here. If you've already done that part of the main story, they won't be here.
Continue through the door into the next area. In a chest on the left will be another Megalixir, and, in the top-right corner, will be a chest containing a Spirit Lance. Go down the stairs and you will find an Outsider in a chest in the bottom left of the lower level, a chest on the bottom right containing Highwind, which teaches Cid his final limit break, Highwind. Use it on Cid to net the following achievement:
Get Cid's last Limit Break
Finally, there will be a 'Hades' materia in front of the broken helicopter. Once you've looted the Gelnika, get out of there and head back to the Highwind. Now, if you return to Cosmo Canyon with Red XIII in your party, Bugenhagen will give Red XIII his ultimate weapon, Limited Moon. If you also visit Rocket Town with Cid in your party and talk to the old man in the middle a bunch of times, he will give Cid his ultimate weapon, Venus Gospel. Lastly, if you return to the library in the basement of the Shinra Mansion, you will get a flashback detailing how Zack and Cloud escaped, and how Cloud ended up in Midgar.
At this point, there is still one ultimate weapon out there, one optional boss and two optional super-bosses, a final limit break left to get, and a handful of achievements that require some MAJOR grinding. Four pieces of materia left to get are in materia caves that are inaccessible, even with the Highwind, and one is in an area that is also currently inaccessible. In order to get these elusive, rare pieces of materia, you are going to need to become a world-class chocobo breeder.
Now, when I was a kid, and I didn't have a home computer with Internet access, and had no strategy guide, I tried breeding chocobos simply by basing it off of tips from the Chocobo Sage. Whilst this tips are technically correct, it leaves out a very important detail: Chocobo Racing. The key to breeding the chocobos you need is not just having the right kind of chocobos as parents and using the right kind of nut to feed them. Chocobo Racing pays an integral part of this side-quest. Moreover, Chocobo Racing is the only way to get the following materia: ''Enemy Away', and 'Sneak Attack'. Make sure to get at least one of each. You can also win a second 'Counter Attack' materia if you want one.
In order to start breeding chocobos, first head to the Chocobo Ranch and speak to Choco Bill. You will need to purchase stables from him at 10,000 gil each. There are six stables total to buy and you need all of them. The end goal here is to raise a Gold Chocobo, which can travel anywhere. Over land, shallow and deep water, and over mountains. To breed a Gold Chocobo, you first need a Black Chocobo, and a Black Chocobo can only be bred from a Blue chocobo and Green Chocobo.
So, first you need to breed a Green chocobo and Blue chocobo. Blue and Green Chocobos can be obtained in the same way. So, to begin, you will need to catch two Great Chocobos and two Good Chocobos. Needless to say, you will need a male-female pair of each. In order to check which ones they are, head back to Choco Bill's ranch and head inside the stables. The chocobos you catch will be in the pen outside, and you go through and pick and choose which ones to put into the stables, and which to release. Note that you can only catch four chocobos at a time.
Good Chocobos can be found in the area near Gold Saucer, and Great Chocobos can be found in the area near Mideel. Obviously, you will need a hefty supply of greens, and you will need the Chocobo Lure materia equipped. Then run around like crazy in the chocobo tracks. Now, there is a way to actually tell if a chocobo is the one you want (although you can't tell its gender until you go back to the ranch to move it to the stables/release it). Good chocobos only appear with an enemy called a Spencer, either in a pair or just one.
Great chocobos only appear with two enemies called Spirals. Or you could go to the tracks outside of Rocket Town, where they only appear with either two Valrons or two Kyuvilduns, and are more common. Once you have a pair of each, head to the Chocobo Sage's house and buy 20 Sylkis Greens. Feed 5 to each of your four chocobos. But wait, there's more! Head to the Gold Saucer, to the Chocobo Square. You will then want to race your chocobos until they are at least Class B.
Once that has been done, the next step is to head to Bone Village and run around outside until you run into a red dinosaur-like monster called Vlakarados, and steal Carob Nuts until you have two. These guys don't hit hard but they have a TON of HP, so it may take awhile. Head back to the Chocobo Ranch and SAVE YOUR GAME before continuing. You will want to breed one of your Great Chocobos with one of your Good Chocobos, using one of the two Carob Nuts. You will then get either a Blue or Green Chocobo. Go outside and save in a SEPARATE SLOT.
This is where things can be a little tedious, as you will need a chocobo of the opposite gender that is a different colour to the one you already have. So, if you have a male Blue Chocobo, you will need a female Green Chocobo, and so on. You will most likely need to quit and reload multiple times. Once you have a Blue chocobo and a Green chocobo that are opposite genders from each other, you can go ahead and release the Good and Great Chocobos to make space in the stables.
Head back to the Chocobo Sages place, and buy 20 more Sylkis Greens. Give 10 each to your two chocobos, then head to Gold Saucer and race them until they are at least Rank A. Once this has been done, then head back to the Chocobo Farm and breed your Blue and Green chocobos with each other using the second Carob Nut. If they aren't mature enough yet, just run around on the world map and return after 10 battles and they should be ready.
SAVE YOUR GAME before breeding the two chocobos. Once you breed them then you should end up with a Black Chocobo. The next step is to go out and catch a Wonderful Chocobo of the opposite gender of your Black Chocobo. These can only be found in the tracks in the Icicle Inn area. Wonderful Chocobos are the ones that appear with either one or two Jumpings. They are kind of rare, and this may take some time.
You will have to periodically go back to the Chocobo Ranch every time you catch four chocobos to determine if you've caught a Wonderful Chocobo of the right gender. Once you have done, go back to the Chocobo Sage's place and buy 20 Sylkis Greens. Feed both your Black and Wonderful chocobos 10 Sylkis Greens each. Now, head to the Gold Saucer and race them until they are both Rank S. The final piece of the puzzle is the Zeio Nut, which can only be stolen from Goblins, who appear on Goblin Island, which is to the north-east of the eastern continent.
Once you have a Zeio Nut, head back to the Chocobo Ranch and SAVE YOUR GAME. Now is the moment of truth, mate your Black and Great Chocobos using the Zeio Nut. If fortune favours you, you will have your very own Gold Chocobo, getting you the following achievement:
Once you have a Gold Chocobo, you can now reach any location on the World Map, including areas inaccessible even to the Highwind. The first Materia Cave you will want to visit is on an island in the further point north-east, but is not shown on the world map itself. It is surrounded on all sides by mountain and covered in trees on the interior, hence why the Highwind can't get here. But, on this island is the entrance to the one of four Materia Caves. This cave contains the most powerful summon materia in the game, Knights of the Round, netting you:
This will come in handy for beating the two super-bosses. The second materia cave can be found east of Mideel. You should find the cave entrance on the end of the peninsular on rocky ground. Inside is the 'Quadra Magic' materia. The third materia cave can be found in the desert area over the river, north of Mt. Corel. Inside you will find the 'HPMP' materia. The final materia cave is located on a piece of land jutting off the east side of the Wutai continent. Inside you will find the 'Mime' materia, which will also come in handy when it comes time to fight the two super-bosses.
Now, at this point you can gain access to the Ancient Forest near Cosmo Canyon if you want, since you now have the Gold Chocobo. The only other way to gain access is to defeat Ultimate Weapon, which is now flying around the world map. To beat Ultimate Weapon, you will have to follow it around the World Map until it stops, and then ram it to initiate a fight. Every time you fight it, you will chip away at its health and it will then fly off again. You will have to chase it around the world map and fight it multiple times, kind of like Death Gaze from FF VI. Defeating it will cause it to plummet into the ridge below, clearing a path to the Ancient Forest, and you will also get Ultima Weapon, which is Cloud's Ultimate Weapon. Nice. Moreover, Ultimate Weapon can use Shadow Flare, which is an Enemy Skill.
You will want to explorer the Ancient Forest, as it contains some nice items, as well as the final summon materia left for you to get, 'Typoon' (a typo/misspelling of Typhon). What follow is a nice series of puzzles for you to solve to get through the forest. To begin, walk to the large red flower, but do so slowly. If you get too close to the centre of the flower, it will snap shut and damage your party. The trick is to edge forward until you can grab the item near it. The item in question is a Supershot ST. Then carefully head back. Now, there are a bunch of flying insects in this area. You will need to grab them one by one and get them to the small hill near the pitcher plants.
In order to get across to the other side, all three pitcher plants need a flying insect inside of them, and they only stay inside the pitcher plant for a limited time. You can then hop across the pitcher plants to the other side, but be sure to do so quickly. On the other side, there will be a Spring Gun Clip on the hill, near the exit to the next area. The next area is somewhat complicated, but straightforward enough once you know what to do.
First, grab an insect, then approach the long, purple plant handing down, and you will be prompted to either jump or stay. Select jump and you will land on a ledge. Release the insect to the pitcher plant on your right and then jump across to the other side, as the second pitcher plant will already be full. Once on the other side of the pitcher plants, you will land in area with a frog hopping around. Collect the frog.
Head over to the right, and then release the frog next to the pitcher plant on the left, so that it gets swallowed by the pitcher plant. Jump and stand on the pitcher plant, and then stand there until the frog jumps back out. This will propel you up to a flower with a beehive on it. Collect the beehive, and then jump off of the ledge back down. Approach the large, red plant and then release the beehive into it. This will cause it to snap shut, allowing you to get to the 'Slash-All' materia for collection.
Pick the frog back up and head back to the pitcher plants on the far-right. You won't be able to get the item on the tree log for now, so simply release the frog into the pitcher plant on the right, and then jump and stand on the pitcher plant until the frog jumps out. This will propel you to the right, past the second large, red flower. Continue to the right, into the next area.
In this area, grab the two insects and then release them into the two pitcher plants on the right. Hop across and you will jump onto another purple, handing plant that will launch you into the canopy above. If you head left and follow the trunk of the tree, then you will return to the second area, where you will now be able to access the previously inaccessible item, which is a Minerva Band. After collecting it, you will have to use the frog on the pitcher plant to return to the third area.
Use the insects to return to the canopy above. Head to the right, but don't head downwards yet. Rather, head upwards, and you should be able to jump across to the right side of the screen, where you will find the 'Typoon' materia. Jump back across and, this time, head downwards out of the canopy back into the third area proper. Walk along the rope and jump down onto the tree trunk.
Jump down and collect an insect. Run to the right, and put the insect in the pitcher plant here. Jump up, and then jump up and to the left onto the next pitcher plant, and then jump up to the ledge to pick up another beehive. Jump back down and then release the beehive into the large red flower like you did in the previous area. Grab another insect, and use it on the pitcher plant to the left of the large, red flower to return to the left side.
Grab an insect and place it in front of the hollow tree. This should hopefully lure out a frog. Leave it for now and go grab another insect. Run to the right and release the insect into the pitcher plant on the right. Run back, grab the frog, return to the pitcher plant, and then quickly jump across to the other side before the insect jumps out of the plant. Then, run all the way to the right and release the frog into the pitcher plant on the right. Jump and stand on it, and wait for the frog to jump out. This will launch you to the exit of this area to the fourth and final area of the Ancient Forest.
In the final area, there are no puzzles. Instead, there are two chests. The one to the bottom-right contains Apocalypse, a sword for Cloud that has TRIPLE AP growth, making it an excellent choice for leveling up materia. The other chest, in the top-right, contains an Elixir. Exit through the other door, and this will take you back to the world map. Try to get everything in one go, since, if you exit back to the world map, you will have to go through all of the puzzles all over again.
At this point, there are just a few more things to get. There are a handful of materia that you can only get by purchasing them at Gold Saucer, via the Battle Arena. These are, in order of how many BP they cost are: 'Enemy Lure', for 250 BP, 'Pre-Emptive' for 1,000 BP, 'Speed Plus' for 4,000 BP, and W-Summon for a colossal 64,000 BP. Moreover, you can also get Omnislash, which teaches Cloud his final limit break, Omnislash, for a mere 32,000 BP. Moreover, once you have gotten Ultima Weapon, Omnislash, and W-Summon, you will be able to participate in the Special Battle, which nets you the elusive 'Final Attack' materia. You can also win the Exp. Plus' materia from the Wonder Square, and buy a 'Gil Plus' for 10,000 GP.
You are going to need a LOT of money. The best source of money in the game is by mastering a ton of 'All' materia, and then selling them for 1,400,000 gil each. This is also a quick and easy way, relatively speaking, of getting:
Of course, you don't need to go THAT far just yet. You just need enough money to buy as much GP as humanly possible. That way, you will have more than enough GP to spend at the Battle Arena. This may take awhile, but once you have all of these, use the Omnislash on Cloud to get:
You are almost done getting all of the Steam Achievements in FF7. It is now just the small matter of defeating the two 'optional' superbosses, Emerald Weapon, who you have probably seen skulking the depths of the ocean blue, and Ruby Weapon, who can only be fought once you have defeated Ultimate Weapon. He appears as a slight red objects sticking out of the desert near Gold Saucer. DO NOT FLY INTO HIM IN THE HIGHWIND AS THIS WILL INITIATE THE BATTLE AGAINST HIM, AND HE WILL DESTROY YOU IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED. Whew. Sorry for the all caps.
Remember when I said to use Morph on a Ghost Ship back in the Underwater Reactor? Well, head over to Kalm. Check out the top floor of the building furthest to the right. There will be a guy here colloquially referred to as the Kalm Traveler. Speak to him and, if you Morphed the Ghost Ship, he should trade you an Underwater materia for the 'Guidebook' item. Nice. The other two items he needs can only be obtained by defeating Emerald and Ruby Weapons.
Emerald Weapon is tough. You will almost certainly want to have your party at max level for this so, if you haven't already, go and grind until all your main characters are level 99. This will get you:
The setup here is crucial. What makes Emerald so tough, apart from his massive damage attacks and his insane hit points (1,000,000 HP), he has an attack called Aire Tam Storm. 'Aire Tam' is actually 'materia' spelled backwards. It's effect is to cause 1,111 HP of damage times by the number of materia each party member has equipped. How you decide to tackle Emerald is up to you, but there are few strategies.
If you want a materia heavy loadout, then definitely pair Final Attack with Phoenix. One thing to note is that, if you don't have the Underwater materia equipped, you will have a time limit of 20 minutes. Another option is to have one character with Knights of the Round and W-Summon, and the other two characters with Mime materia. You will, however, need a ton of healing items. I would use the W-Item duplication trick to get 99 Megalixirs. Defeating Emerald Weapon gets you the Earth Harp. Go to the Kalm Traveler and he will trade you a set of Master Materia for it. NICE.
However, if you thought Emerald Weapon was tough, you ain't seen nothing yet. Ruby Weapon easily outmatches Emerald. If you take Ruby Weapon on with all three party members not KO'ed, he will eject two of them from the battle. Whereas, if you start with two characters KO'ed, then he will just dig his arms straight into the desert. Once he has done so, then you can revive your other party members. But do so quickly, he can still make mincemeat out of you. Moreover, his torso is completely invulnerable until he digs his claws into the sand.
However, despite his ferocity, despite his 800,000 HP, and his ability to counter Knights of the Round with Ultima, Ruby still has one weakness. He is NOT immune to paralysis. If you cast Hades on him, Ruby will succumb to paralysis, enabling you to hit him with Knights of the Round without Ruby countering with Ultima. Even still, be careful. You will want to sometimes wait for him to come out of paralysis so you can cast Hades again, otherwise, if he comes out of paralysis during a KOTR summon, he will use Ultima and potentially obliterate your party. One insurance policy against this is the Final Attack-Phoenix combo, but it is better to be safe.
One thing to note is that Ruby is also one of the few enemies in the game capable of casting Shadow Flare, an enemy skill required for mastering every materia in the game. However, the Dragon Zombies in North Crater can also use this move. Defeating Ruby will get you the Desert Rose. You can trade this with the Kalm Traveler for a Gold Chocobo.
The last achievement(s) you will probably have remaining are:
Once again, the best way to get to maximum money is to grind AP in North Crater to master a ton of 'All' materias to sell for big money. During this grind, the following achievment should come naturally if, for whatever reason, you do not have it already"
For the Materia Overlord achievement, you will need have at least one of each and every single materia in the game, including each Master Materia. If you followed the walkthrough, you should have every single piece of materia. Underwater is already mastered, since it only has one level. Once again, AP grinding in North Crater is your fiend. The only materia that CAN'T be mastered that way is the Enemy Skill materia. For that, you will need to learn each and every single enemy skill in the game.
Beta can only be obtained from the Midgar Zolom once it has received 75% of its HP in damage, Trine is only available from certain enemies, and you only have ONE chance to get Pandora' Box due to a bug in the programming for the Dragon Zombies. Some enemy skills can only be obtained by using the Manipulate command on an enemy and having them use it on you.
Below is the complete list of every single piece of materia in the game, plus every single enemy skill in the game, and where to get them.
Magic Materia (Green):
Barrier, purchasable in Rocket Town. Comet, located in the City of the Ancients. Contain, obtained from the white chocobo in Mideel. Destruct, obtained in the Shinra Mansion when Sephiroth throws it at you. Earth, purchasable from Kalm, Junon, and Costa del Sol. Exit, purchasable from Rocket Town. Fire, can be purchased virtually everywhere. Full Cure, can only be found in Cosmo Canyon, from Disc 2 onwards. Gravity, can be purchased in Costa del Sol and Mideel, and there is one in the Cave of the Gi. Heal, purchasable at Kalm, Junon, Costa del Sol, and Gongaga. Ice, can be purchased virtually anywhere. Lightning, can be purchased virtually everywhere. Master Magic, either from defeating Emerald Weapon and trading the Earth Harp with the Kalm Traveler, and/or by mastering every other Magic materia. Mystify, can be purchased in Gongaga, Cosmo Canyon, and Rocket Town. Poison, you can find one on the 67th floor of the Shinra building, purchasable from Kalm, Junon, and Costa del Sol. Restore, one can be found in the No 1 Reactor, and be bought almost anywhere. Revive, can be bought at Junon and Costa del Sol. Shield, in North Crater. Time, can be bought at Gongaga and Rocket Town. Transform, Cait Sith comes equipped with one, and you can buy it at North Corel, Gongaga, Cosmo Canyon, and Mideel. Ultima, North Corel, only during the Huge Materia quest, and only if you board the train.
Support Materia (Blue):
Added Cut, found at the Great Glacier. Added Effect, found in the Cave of the Gi. All, there's a bunch these that can be found, and Red XIII starts with one. Counter, only at North Crater. Elemental, only three in the game: one in the library in the Shinra Building on the 62nd floor, one at Mt. Nibel, and one from Tifa's piano during Disc 2 only when Tifa is your party leader. Final Attack, after completing the special battle at Gold Saucer's battle square, and getting enough BP. HP Absorb, in Wutai, in the cat house after the stolen materia side-quest. Magic Counter, only in North Crater. MP Absorb, from the item shop in Wutai, only during the Yuffie stolen materia side-quest. MP Turbo, can only be found in the Whirlwind Maze. Quadra Magic, in one of the materia caves. Sneak Attack, won through the chocobo races. Steal-as-Well, can only be obtained if you got the Leviathan Scales in the submarine dock at the Underwater Reactor, located in the fire cave in Da-Chao at Wutai.
Command Materia (Yellow):
Deathblow, can be found at Gongaga. Double-Cut, in the sunken Gelnika. Enemy Skill, there are only four in the game: (1) After the boss fight with Sample: HO512 in the Shinra HQ building, (2) in the Respectable Inn in Junon, (3) in the City of the Ancients, in one of the shell houses, and; (4) at Chocobo Sage's house, from the Chocobo. Manipulate, Cait Sith comes equipped with one, and can be bought from Fort Condor and Rocket Town. Master Command, either by defeating Emerald and giving the Earth Harp to the Kalm Traveler, and/or by mastering every other command materia. Mime, in one of the materia caves. Morph, can only be obtained in the Temple of the Ancients. Sense, Red XIII comes equipped with one, and you can buy them in Kalm and Junon. Slash-All, found in the Ancient Forest. Steal, in the sewers of Midgar, and can be bought at Kalm. Throw, Yuffie comes equipped with one, and can also be bought at Fort Condor and Rocket Town. W-Item, can be found in the train tunnels during the raid on Midgar to stop the sister ray. W-Magic, in North Crater. W-Summon, purchasable at the battle arena in Gold Saucer for 64,000 BP.
Independent Materia (Purple):
Chocobo Lure, bought at the Chocobo Ranch. Cover, near Aeris' house in Sector 5 Slums. Enemy Away, from the chocobo races. Enemy Lure, can be bought at the Battle Arena in Gold Saucer for 250 BP. Experience Plus, can be won at the Wonder Square in Gold Saucer. Gil Plus, can be bought at the Wonder Square in Gold Saucer for 10,000 GP. HPMP, found in one of the materia caves. HP Plus, can be bought at Cosmo Canyon and Mideel. Long Range materia, can be found in Mithril Mines. Luck Plus, can be found in the Temple of the Ancients. Magic Plus, can be found in the Corel Valley wall at the City of the Ancients. Mega-All, can be found at North Crater. MP Plus, can be bought at Cosmo Canyon and Mideel. Pre-Emptive, can be bought at the Battle Square in Gold Saucer for 1,000 BP. Speed Plus, can be bought at the Battle Square at Gold Saucer, for 4,000 BP. Underwater, only by using Morph command on a ghost ship, and trading the Guidebook with the Kalm Traveler.
Summon Materia (Red):
Alexander, can be gotten at the great glacier by touching the hot springs and talking to the 'woman' in the cave in the far top-right section of the glacier. Bahamut, can only be gotten at the Temple of the Ancients after beating the Red Dragon. Bahamut-ZERO, can only be obtained if you have Bahamut and Neo-Bahamut, and obtained all four pieces of Huge Materia. Choco/Mog, from the chocobos in the pen at the Chocobo Ranch on Disc 1. Hades, in the sunken Gelnika. Ifrit, only found on the cargo ship after defeating Jenova-Birth. Kjata, in the Sleeping Forest. Knights of the Round, in one of the materia caves. Leviathan, after defeating Godo during Yuffie's Pagoda side-quest. Master Summon, either by defeating Emerald Weapon and trading the Earth Harp with the Kalm Traveler, and/or by mastering every other summon materia. Neo-Bahamut, can only be found in the Whirlwind Maze. Odin, in the Shinra Mansion at Nibelheim in the safe, after beating Missing Number. Phoenix, at Fort Condor during the Huge Materia quest. Ramuh, can only be found in the Jockey's Lounge at the Gold Saucer. Shiva, given to you after saving Priscilla. Titan, located in the ruined Gongaga reactor. Typoon, located in the Ancient Forest.
Frog Song, used by a frog enemy called 'Touch Me', found near Gongaga. L4 Suicide, used by a squirrel enemy called Mu, found near Chocobo Ranch. Magic Hammer, from an enemy called Razor Weed in the Wutai area, via manipulation. White Wind, from a bird enemy called Zemzelett, near Junon, via manipulate. Big Guard, from an enemy called Beachplug, found on the beaches near Costa del Sol, via manipulate. Angel Whisper, from an enemy in North Cave named Pollensalta, via manipulate. DragonForce, from an enemy in North Cave called Dark Dragon, via manipulate. Death Force, from a large turtle enemy called Adamantaimai, found on the beaches near Wutai, via manipulate. Flamethrower, from the Dragons at Mt. Nibel. Laser, from the Dark Dragons at North Cave. Matra Magic, from enemies called Custom Sweeper, found near Midgar. Bad Breath, from the Malboros, found at Gaea's Cliff and in Northern Cave. Beta, only from the Midgar Zolom once it has lost 75% of its hit points. Aqualung, from Harpys near Gold Saucer, or Serpents in the sunken Gelnika. Trine, from the materia keeper in Mt. Nibel, from Godo in Wutai during Yuffie's Pagoda side-quest, or from Stilvas which can be found at Gaea's Cliffs. Magic Breath, from enemy in North Cave called Parasite, via manipulate. ????, from an enemy in Shinra Mansion called Jersey. Goblin Punch, from Goblins at Goblin Island. Chocobuckle, from chocobos, via manipulate (use greens to make them stick around long enough). L5 Death, from Parasites in North Crater. Death Sentence, from an enemy in Corel Valley (just after the Sleeping Forest) called Boundfat. Roulette, from an enemy in North Cave called Death Dealer. Shadow Flare, from Ultimate Weapon, Ruby Weapon, Safer Sephiroth, or from Dragon Zombies in North Crater. Pandora's Box, can only be learned from the first Dragon Zombie you encounter, as its final attack, due to a bug in the game, or from Jenova Synthesis.
Then its just a matter of heading back to North Cave to beat Sephiroth. Go back to the bottom of North Crater, and save your game. Continue past the Point of No Return. In this area, you will encounter Dragon Zombies, Iron Men, et al. At the bottom, you will first fight Jenova-Synthesis. It is composed of a body and two arms. Whilst you could one-shot it with KOTR, doing so will increase Bizarro and Safer Sephiroth's HP by quite a bit. Depending on how well you do, the following battle against Sephiroth will consist of either one, two, or three separate battles fought by three separate parties.
Assuming you did well enough against Jenova-Synthesis to get the single battle against Bizarro Sephiroth, you can just one-shot him with KOTR. However, Sephiroth is not beaten yet, you have to face his final form, Safer Sephiroth. This guy is a pain, but if you've gotten KOTR and everything else, he should be fairly easy. The only thing to watch for is his Supernova summon, which deals a whole slew of status effects onto the party. Once he is gone, you've completed the game. Or so you thought. You see, you have to fight Sephiroth's true final form in a 1v1 battle with Cloud. Don't worry, you can't possibly lose. Whether you have learned it or not, you automatically get prompted to use Omnislash. Once beaten, enjoy the final cutscene and credits!
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