Where was I?
Oh yeah. Nibelheim.
So, Cloud and Tifa’s hometown is still there, in flagrant defiance of its total destruction five years ago by Sephiroth, but is almost completely deserted. There are two or three people, who claim to have lived there for decades but don’t know Cloud, and a large number of mysterious black-robed figures with different numbers tattooed on their faces (hmm – doesn’t Sephiroth have a 1 tattooed on his face?) who shuffle about murmuring about bringing something to “Great Sephiroth” for some kind of “reunion.” We found Sephiroth himself in the old mansion at the edge of town. He still doesn’t seem to remember who Cloud is, rambled incoherently about his ‘mother,’ Jenova, being a “calamity from the skies” (“not a Cetra?” Cloud asks, but Sephiroth isn’t keen to clarify – wait, if Jenova and Sephiroth aren’t Cetra, what the hell are they? Is there some other ancient race out there intimately tied to the planet’s life force?), told us that he was going to nearby Mount Nibel for the “reunion,” and flew away. Better follow him. I took the party up Mount Nibel, to the old reactor where Cloud had confronted Sephiroth years ago, fully expecting a climactic boss battle… and found no-one there. Hmm.
Did I… just get stood up by the villain? Sephiroth sure knows how to make a guy feel inadequate.
Oh, yeah, and there was also a Turkish vampire named Vincent hanging out in the mansion – and by ‘hanging out’ I mean lying in his coffin sleeping through a perpetual nightmare to atone for his past failures. He’s a cheery fellow. Vincent was apparently in love with Sephiroth’s human surrogate mother, a woman named Lucrecia who, I am given to understand, died in childbirth or something. Vincent has joined the gang in the hopes of getting revenge on Hojo, Sephiroth’s creator, for what happened to her. Don’t know what I think of this guy. I’m not generally a huge fan of the whole ‘life of revenge’ thing. Then again, he’s a vampire with a red cape, a mechanical arm, and a pistol. Dude has style.
Once down from the mountain, I ran into another new recruit: a passive-aggressive ninja chick named Yuffie who clearly wanted to join the party but wouldn’t say so, preferring instead to stalk and attack us, insulting us when she lost, then throwing a tantrum and leaving. I have learnt that she can only be kept under control by paying her exactly the right amount of attention – don’t watch her carefully enough, and she’ll mug you and run away; watch her too closely, and she’ll decide she’s better than you, mug you and run away. Mugging people and running away seems to be Yuffie’s schtick. I despise her already.
The next town shows no sign of Sephiroth, but does yield a rusted old rocket ship (the remains of the evil power company’s defunct space program), a pink seaplane, and yet another new party member: a foul-mouthed, grumpy old aviator named Cid (rule #18 of Final Fantasy games: there is always a guy named Cid who owns a zeppelin). Cid wanted to be the world’s first astronaut, as the pilot of the rocket that dominates the town’s scenery, but his dreams were crushed, entirely accidentally, by a woman named Shera, an assistant who took too long checking the oxygen tanks in the ship’s engine room during pre-flight preparations. Shera would have been incinerated if the ship had taken off, and kept telling Cid she was totally okay with that as long as she could make absolutely sure the oxygen tanks were good, but Cid cancelled the launch at the last minute to save her life – thus missing a launch window that only came around twice a year. The incident led to the shutdown of the space program, and Cid was left with nothing to live for but insulting Shera for the rest of his days. Kind of a contrived story, if you ask me, but hey, whatevs.
Anyway, the events that lead to Cid joining Cloud’s group are as follows. Rufus Shinra has turned up with one of his underlings, Palmer, to confiscate Cid’s seaplane for use in hunting Sephiroth, who is apparently heading for a place called the Temple of the Ancients (our next destination – now we just need to figure out where the damn thing is). While Cid and Rufus argue, Palmer goes to snag the thing quietly – and so does Cloud. This leads to what is absolutely, without question, the most bizarre boss fight I have ever endured: a battle against a dancing fat man with a magic handgun who keeps mooning the party and inexplicably will not die after being pummelled with several rounds of the most powerful spells we have on hand. He eventually gives up the fight and goes to hop in the plane – only to be flattened by a passing truck.
…you win, Final Fantasy VII; I officially have no idea what you’re smoking.
The party flees town on the plane, taking heavy fire as they do so, pick up Cid along the way, and are forced to crash-land in the nearby sea. Cid pronounces the plane irreparable, but Cloud decides it can still be used as a leaky boat, so we all sail over to the next island.
Then Yuffie f*#&s off with all our materia.
GOD F&*%ING DAMNIT YUFFIE you’ve been in this party for like FIVE MINUTES and the first thing you do is steal all our $#!t and run away!?
You know what? I was totally being WAY TOO HARD on Cait Sith. There was no spy in this party at all; it was probably just F$#^ING YUFFIE following us and blogging about us for everyone to read.
The party pursues Yuffie to her hometown, Feudal Japan, and chases her all over the city. At one point, she pretends she’s been caught and starts crying, telling a story about how she needed the materia to save her town from poverty, in order to lure Cloud and the others into a trap. Eventually, though, the group winds up having to join forces with the Turkish police in order to rescue the conniving b!^@# from, of all people, the goddamn pimp king from way back at the start of the game. Rescuing her, I can get behind, since she’s the only one who knows where the materia’s stashed. But then Cloud just lets her back into the group because she gave it back and said she was sorry! What the hell is going on with him? I want Depressed Bastard Cloud back! He would never have stood for this nonsense! Seriously, she’s spent, like, ten times longer running us around in circles and stealing our $#!t than she has actually helping us and he lets her back in?
Jerk probably just wants to sleep with her.