Saturday, 23 November 2013

Final Fantasy VII Playthrough: Part 12 - Marching Towards the Costa Del Sol

We've traced Sephiroth all the way to Junon Harbour, where I've climbed to the top of the rusty Shinra monolith overlooking the waterfront. Not being the stealthy type, I just walk in through the front door, whereupon the on-duty guard mistakes me for a soldier out of uniform.

As I'm changing, the guard explains that I need to march in step with the other soldiers in order to impress the new Shinra president (Rufus, if you haven't been playing attention) and not let the the ratings for the televised broadcast of the event drop below a certain level.

This sounds like yet another prolonged QTE, but since there isn't a blonde wig at stake, I'm not prepared to sweat too many bloody tears over it.

I'm supposed to line up for the parade, but I really hate QTEs, so I explore the base instead. I come across an industrial elevator that, surprise, surprise, strongly resembles the one that leads down into Akira's compound in Akira.

With the slide, the spherical cryo capsule and the bike chase, that makes four strong visual similarities between Final Fantasy VII and Akira thus far. If this playthrough was even more Bridget Jones' Diary than it already is, each entry would begin with a quick recap of the episode's events.

"Akira references: 3, QTEs: 13 (v. bad), Weirdly translated sexual innuendos: 3,404...".

This reminds me of when I used to go to ballet class.

The grimy industrial aesthetic we left in Midgar not so long ago seems to be back, only here Midgar's smoggy skies have been replaced with sea air and a mackerel skin sunset.

I don't have too long to worry about why they need a cannon that big because it's time for my QTE.

I don't know why the TV ratings drop when I screw up (I do screw up. So. Many. Times). If anything, surely the hilarity of a drunk soldier messing up all the steps would push viewing figures through the roof, especially after Twitter gets hold of it.

Alas no. I am berated.

Rufus became president about five minutes ago when the previous president (his father), was found with a sword in his back. Instead of investigating, Shinra make banners.

Rufus expresses his displeasure at the poor showing we made during the parade and tells us to look out for those pesky kids from AVALANCHE.

We, the pesky kids from AVALANCHE, board the Shinra tanker along with Rufus and all the soldiers who are supposed to be making sure we don't board the tanker. Fortunately, there are enough comedy disguises for everyone.

Yuffie casually reveals her drug problem.

I don't know why I'm surprised. We only met her yesterday. When she mugged us.

Hurr, hurr.

He looks like a cross between Mr. T and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Frankly, I'm surprised it took them this long. I grab Stay Puft and race back to the hold to find the others.

We run into a problem.


I cannot actually remember picking up the Shiva materia, but it comes in handy during this fight. For the uninitiated, Final Fantasy games feature "summons", creatures who can be, well, summoned by at least one character to come to the party's aid in battle. Final Fantasy X's entire plot is based around summoning, but only one character (Yuna) can do it.

In this game, any character equipped with the relevant materia can summon. "Shiva", in some form or other, appears in most Final Fantasy games. My favourite is probably her appearence in Final Fantasy XIII, in which she is a motorbike formed from a pair of ice spirits. I'm assuming Lady Gaga's Born This Way album cover is a direct reference.

Shiva blows some "diamond dust" at the Jenova beast.

Barret cheers, happy to be free of the sailor suit.

I helpfully provide a plot recap.

We're chasing Sephiroth, who a) is in possession of his mother's head b) murdered president Shinra and c) is on his way to the "Promised Land".

Fortunately, all exposition is cut short when we arrive at our destination.

The Costa Del Sol is a party town, so we relax a bit and start making fun of Barret.

The locals aren't as chilled as you'd hope attractive young people who spend all day in the sun would be.This guy, for example, is angry about living in a world where Rufus can be president of Shinra while he's just a lowly sailor. I'm about to start sympathising before he launches into a rant about how a lowly, uneducated deckhand such as myself could never understand his aspirational angst. This is pretty offensive but I'm too hot to argue so I head into town.

Is this the red light district?

If this is a peep show, I want my money back.

The bars are lively, though full of complete morons.

I run into Mukki from the Honey Bee Inn, where I wound up after an unfortunate series of events back in Wall Market.

This is beyond awkward, so I  head down to the beach, where Sephiroth has graduated from silent menace to topic of idle chatter.

Wait, what?

Since the only witnesses to Sephiroth's presence all seem to be high on suncream fumes, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. Still, I've heard a lot of people around town mention the Gold Saucer amusement park. Sounds fun...

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