Last time, Aeris and I (well, Cloud. I'm getting into the role-playing aspect of this role-playing game) were on our way to Sector 7 when we were waylaid by a womancatcher wagon all decked out with things women like, such as plant pots and giant chickens.
Despite the plant pots, we would have walked on by were it not for the fact that it was carrying my childhood friend, Tifa.
Thus, we postponed our plans and decided to follow the womancatcher wagon in order to get Tifa back.
We found our way into Wall Market, which turns out to be a wretched hive of scum and villainy. I'm quite happy about this because I was growing weary of all the relentless salt-of-the-earthness and total lack of moral ambiguity that we found elsewhere in the Midgar slums.
Now that we're here, I decide the best thing to do is start talking to people to see if they've seen Tifa. The first person we meet pays Aeris a complement.
Interesting. Is there a place around here for connoisseurs of good-looking heifers?
Being new in town, I decide to gather some information about this "Don" before cashing in my heifer. I drag her south to a classy-looking establishment.
Clearly he hasn't seen the good-looking heifer I'm with. I ask him if he's seen Tifa. He tells me that he has, and gives me a good idea as to where she might be.
It seems Aeris is not the only good-looking heifer around here. We head to Don Corneo's mansion. Even if I don't find Tifa, I could probably get some Gil for Aeris then spend the rest of the game at the Honey Bee Inn. Unfortunately, Don Corneo's bouncer informs me that men aren't allowed in the mansion.
I'm about to return to the Honey Bee when Aeris pulls me aside. She has a cunning plan.
Yeah, like I haven't heard that before.
Now, I don't have any ladies' clothes in my inventory, so this almost certainly means a Fetch Quest. We go to a clothing store but the girl behind the counter tells me that her "crazy old dad" is the one who makes all the clothes, and he's drowning his sorrows down the local. We seek him out.
He's reluctant to help us, so Aeris spins him a story with absolutely no truth to it.
He is incredulous.
Oh, dude. It's always the tough ones.
It's at this point that, as you will know if you've played Final Fantasy VII, the player has to correctly choose what kind of dress they want in order to increase their chances of getting into the Don's mansion without incident. Now, I considered winging it, but since I'm recording this journey, for, um, posterity or something, I decided to make myself look as knowledgeable about cross-dressing as possible, so I followed a walkthrough in order to know in advance exactly what kind of dress to ask for.
I'm sorry if this shatters the illusion of virtual gonzo journalism I've thus far cultivated.
We return to the dress shop where my soft and shimmery silk dress is waiting to be picked up.
This sequence actually made me quite emotional because I'm getting married in real life, which this means that sooner or later I'll be trying on dresses in boutiques much like this one, give or take a drunk old man in a flat cap.
Like all the best bridesmaids, Aeris knows when to withhold tact in favour of brutal honesty.
The drunk guy in a flat cap suggests we head to the gym because "you'll find a lot of people there like you". I'm passed the point of protesting, so we oil our nipples and enter the gym.
I don't know whether the double entendre there is deliberate, or just yet another happy accident of Japanese to English localisation.
He wants me to "beat" him at a squatting competition, which combines everyone's two favourite things, quick time events and executing console controls with a keyboard.
I win the squatting contest on the fifth try (multiple goes enabled by the metafictional paradox that is the save/load system), and that win shall be the canonical version of events, even though if you lose, you get a wig Big Bro pulls out of somewhere unsanitary, which is funnier than the "Blonde Wig" you get for defeating him.
I then undertake a sub-Fetch Quest for a man in a fabric shop, and for my troubles he gives me a trinket, saying "it's not much".
I continue Fetch Questing. It would be very difficult to acquire all the items necessary to make Cloud look his best without a walkthrough, almost all of them require you to select the correct dialogue option, and there's usually no indication of which answer is correct. Of course, if you pick the wrong ones you don't fail, you just end up looking less attractive in a dress, but I'd still argue it relies too much of luck, rather than logic, to be truly effective game design.
The next item, I discover from ffextreme.com (thanks guys), must be acquired through yet more circuitous methods. I go to a sushi bar, order "Today's Special" and give my verdict.
Now, if I was playing this without a walkthrough, I would have selected the "Deodorant" on the basis that my monster slaying has probably left me smelling a little too pungent for the Don's tender nostrils. But I'm playing with a walkthrough (cheating, basically), so I know that what I actually want is the Digestive, which is not, I hasten to add, a kind of biscuit.
Because digestives aren't sexy, I need to find a way to exchange it for something more alluring. I return to the bar where I first found the drunk dressmaker and burst in on the person being sick in the loo.
I thrust the digestive at her. It works instantly, and she gives me something she's been carrying around in her pocket this whole time, and that I can only hope has not been tainted by whatever it was that sent her toiletwards in the first place.
My outfit is now nearly complete, but there's still something missing. Being the self-sacrificing type, I decide to finally pay a visit to the Honey Bee Inn.
Aeris laughs when I say this, as if I'm going to enjoy it or something. What does she know.
Inside, I'm faced with a choice of five rooms. Two are occupied.
For Tifa's sake, I take a peek.
I'm about to turn away from this totally pedestrian sexy talk when I hear something interesting.
People who like kinky sex are always evil.
Because I definitely don't like kinky sex, I check in on some of the Honey Bees themselves.
Why do people keep saying that?
It's time to get what I came for. Whatever that is. First, I need to choose a room.
I consider myself an adventurous guy, but I'm not sure I want to know what "&$#%" is.
See, that sounds much safer. What could possibly go wrong in there?
I should note that the music that's playing while all this is going on is really cheerful and bouncy, which makes what is otherwise just a totally normal group sex sequence feel slightly seedy.
Actually, I should say at this point that I am honestly pretty shocked. The first Final Fantasy games I played were on the PlayStation 2, and there is nothing particularly rude in any of them. Final Fantasy VII is a game that thousands of people around the world fell in love with as children so I'm a bit surprised by the amount of sex in it. I guess it might go over the heads of younger people, but still, it's pretty naughty stuff.
Thanks. I guess.
At least it looks like I've finally got my outfit together. Aeris picks up a foxy dress too, and we return to the Don's mansion.
Inside the mansion I get a good look at Aeris' dress.
PHWOAR. Probably. It's hard to tell at this resolution.
Before I get too distracted, we start looking for Tifa.
As I suspected, she's chilling in the sex dungeon. After a slightly awkward moment when she and Aeris meet properly for the first time (they assure each other there's nothing going on between them and me, which is hurtful, but whatevs), Tifa explains how the Don likes his ladies.
As if this situation wasn't awkward enough already.
Well! I guess the silk dress, blonde wig, diamond tiara, sexy cologne and bikini briefs did the trick! The Don picks me!
My ego is so pumped by being chosen the hawtest girl in the posse, I totally forget why I came here in the first place. Also I'm kind of hypnotised by the Don's mirror ball.
Just as I'm about to lose myself in the moment completely, my buddies burst in, reminding me what I came for. I shake off my disguise.
We interrogate the Don. Aeris reveals her scary side.
Terrified, the Don tells us his mission.
At this point, Don Corneo pulls a lever, opening the floor beneath us. It happened too fast for me to grab a screenshot so you'll have to take my word for it.
As we fall, the action cuts away to Shinra's HQ.
Oooh, that Shinra!
That's a nice metaphor. I wonder if it foreshadows anything that Tifa, Aeris and I will have to face shortly? Heidegger and Reeve exit Shinra's office and he's left to do some expositional monologuing.
Look, you can tell he's evil, he has a cigar.
Tifa, Aeris and I land in the sewers. Interestingly, we all lost our foxy dresses on the way down. I'm reminded of the fact that Tifa's normal outfit is actually more revealing than her escort getup. This is clearly affecting her state of mind, and she starts to panic. Before I can reassure her, we are attacked.
That yellow thing to its left is a sword, not excrement. Though I had to look twice. The beast casts "Sewer Tsunami". Clearly that dialogue in Shinra's office was foreshadowing.
We defeat the sewer beast and some angry turtles, eventually emerging in an abandoned train station. Following the excitement of the Don's mansion, the reality of our situation starts to sink in.
Aeris won't hear of an apology, and it's too late to turn back. Between us, we resolve to make our way through the train station, out the other side, and rescue our friends before it's too late...