Sunday, July 20, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: The Temple of the Ancients

Once you've got the Tiny Bronco, it kinda feels like the whole world is open to you. You can finally travel around fairly quickly to pretty much every place you've been to before, plus a few new places.

After traveling around a bit and talking to people (or simply by finding the place) you learn of the Temple of the Ancients and how it supposedly houses the Black Materia Sephiroth has been searching for.

The Temple itself isn't difficult to find. I don't really remember how you start figuring out how to track down the Keystone, though. There was nothing stopping you from visiting the weaponsmith guy before, but his house is kinda hidden from view your fist time through the Gongaga area. In the Tiny Bronco, though, it's very conspicuous, sitting alone as it does on a peninsula. That the guy who had the Keystone to the Temple of the Ancients also happens to have Aeris's final Limit Break is likely no coincidence.

Regardless, getting the Keystone involves going once more to Gold Saucer, where Dio apparently still feels a bit bad about throwing you in prison. So, he lets you have the artifact just for fighting in the Battle Arena, regardless of how well you do.

I did poorly.

The battle scene is followed by a recap of the story thus far, mostly for the sake of the people who have joined the party more recently: at least Cait Sith and Cid, even though the latter aparently sleeps through most of it.

The exposition is followed by the date, which I always kind of enjoyed. I've still never gone on the date with anyone besides Aeris or Tifa, though, despite my attempts.

Cait Sith is finally revealed as the traitor, which should come as a shock to absolutely nobody. However, the fact that he forces everyone to keep him in the party by holding Marlene hostage is kind of shocking. Still, before resorting to that he actually tries to explain why he wants to stay with the party, and it's apparently not for spying purposes.

The Temple of the Ancients is one of the few real "dungeon" areas of the game. I really like that about FF7: none of the dungeons feel random or unnecessary. They're mostly towns and civilized areas and natural areas rather than mazes and cave systems. Places like Corel Prison and the Shinra Mansion manage to serve the function of dungeons without feeling like dungeons. I think that's brilliant.

As a side note, it seems pretty clear that Gold Saucer was built on top of the burned coal town of Corel. Corel used to be a green, forested place just a few years ago, around the time Marlene was born, yet now it's a desert. I assume that Gold Saucer must have some mako reactors within the structure, since that's the only explanation I can think of for how that whole area became a desert. It's actually a worse situation than Midgar...

Anyway, the fact that dungeons are uncommon in the game makes the Temple that much more interesting. It's pretty much the dungeon in the game, and it's an interesting one at that: strange, confusing architecture, traps, and, of course, the strange clock room.

I find it interesting that materia is considered the collected knowledge of the Ancients, yet all of the weapons in the Temple lack materia slots, if I'm not mistaken. I guess the idea is that the Ancients didn't need materia--they simply knew how to use those abilities.

At the heart of the Temple Cloud clearly goes nuts for a while, yet his friends just ignore his strange behavior. Even when he starts laughing maniacally they just sort of ignore it. It's pretty bizarre.

On the way out, Cait Sith gives Cloud and Aeris one final fortune: apparently they are a perfect match. I tend to agree, but fate is cruel; Aeris is destined to die, Cloud must settle for Tifa, and Tifa must settle for being settled for. At least, that's what I thought at the time. It's later revealed that Cloud had been pining for Tifa for a long, long time, and it's pretty clear that they care for each other. Their pairing makes sense.

Cait Sith's fortune could be affected by the fact that Cloud has been imitating Zack the whole time, and Zack and Aeris are the true pairing. More likely, though, fortune telling is complete hocum, and Cait Sith sucked at it to begin with.

However, he does seem strangely excited to sacrifice himself for the party. I think Reeve was simply excited to be able to actually help the party out, especially after having to pull the hostage card out not long before.

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