FFVII: Endings are different all over

Daniel, I may just let you write before me the rest of the way through the game because you always give me so much good stuff to respond to.

And I need that this week, since I had something of a disaster.


The dread Midgar Zolom

I visited Kalm. I found out what happened when Cloud and Sephiroth visited Cloud’s hometown of Nibelheim. I visited the Chocobo Farm, and while I was out exploring afterward, I walked into the marshes without realizing it and ran straight into a Migar Zolom. You can’t run away, so I was stuck battling it out until the thing killed me. In a stroke of luck, the Zolom ejected Tifa from the battle, and so I didn’t get a “game over” when Cloud and Barret were KOed.

Chastened, I leveled up, caught a chocobo, and made a run to the marshes, only to have the bad luck to run head-on into a Zolom, which meant that it was on me before I had time to change direction. This time, I died. Totally and utterly. And, like an idiot, I hadn’t saved! I lost an hour of gameplay. As Andrew would say, I was housed.

So my playing time this week was almost a mirror image of Andrew’s from last week. I only got two-and-a-half hours in, and I lost nearly half of it.


He's an okay guy, deep down. Really.

If it weren’t for the fact that I cheat—I have the strategy guide, and um, the game is 13 years old, so it’s kind of hard to not know what happens at the end of disc 1, for example—I might not have anything to write about at all. But you’re exactly right, Daniel, one of the great things about the Final Fantasy series is the way in which you’re never really sure who exactly the bad guy is until the very end. Not uncommonly, you find out that there’s somebody or something behind the big bad you’ve been chasing for 40+ hours. (Golbez? No, no! He’s actually an okay guy who was manipulated all along by Zemus. Zeromus. Whomever.)

In some sense, a great deal of the various plots of the more than 13 entries in the Final Fantasy series can boiled down to some version of “(sort of) good intentions gone horribly wrong.” (Or maybe just “things got really out of hand.”) And one of my favorite aspects of the series is the not-quite-100%-translatable Japanese-ness of it all. The series is often (but not always) rather pacifist—there are big guns, but as often as not it’s a major plot point that you can’t use the really big gun without killing everyone. There are huge parallels between the way that scarcity of resources is a recurring theme and the way that Japan’s need for oil [mako] to run a surging industrial economy in the 1930s led to territorial expansionism and (eventually) to the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki [Meteor].

I’d love to read a big piece [written by someone else] about how the world of FFVII—including that industrial coexisting with the “medieval” quality that I sort-of complained about last week—is an analogy for the coexistence of traditional and industrial cultures in 1930s Japan. And the way that “puppet” or manipulated big bads are invocations of the publicly deified but mostly figurehead Emperor Hirohito. Not to mention the fact that the big bad often has some deep connection to the player character in a way that often goes way beyond the Western Cain/Abel “I have to kill my evil brother” dichotomy. The player characters in Final Fantasy often participate (or have participated) somehow in the “evil” force they have to fight, which at its best works out as a really striking examination of victimhood, heroism, and responsibility. Kind of like the atrocities committed by the Japanese army in World War II, and the civilian suffering that marked the end of the war. There’s a lot there. So get on it. Somebody.

For now, I’ll just say that one of my favorite tropes in Final Fantasy storylines is the way in which the worst tends to happen, the world is devastated, and then life goes on afterward. Since I have quite a way to go before I officially find out the Meteor exists, I’ll default to other games in the series for examples: [Caution: I’m about to give away the endings of a couple of games, so if you don’t want SPOILERS, skip to the next paragraph] In FFX, the big bad, Sin, strikes again and again, as he has for a thousand years, and in order to defeat him you have to destroy the only weapon the world has ever known against him. And you kill your dad. Yeah. In the first Final Fantasy, the player characters have to fight their way out of existence in order to save the world. FFIV is the cheery exception. You get the girl and Palom and Porom even come back to life. (I’m actually happy about that. It’s hardcore when the twins turn themselves to stone, but they’re too awesome to stay dead.)[End SPOILERS.]

But in each of the games, the world goes on, even after the worst has happened.

Either that, or Sephiroth is actually Godzilla. One of the two.

Disc: 1

Location: Junon Harbor (That’s right, I made it!)

Cloud’s level: 18

Timer: 9:00

Read Daniel J. Hogan’s week 4 post

Read Andrew Simone’s week 4 post

Archive of all Gamers’ Club posts

2 Responses to “FFVII: Endings are different all over”
  1. Daniel says:

    Glad to help!

    And thanks for the spoiler warning–still working on FFIV (just got the Lunar Whale).

    • Gavin Craig says:

      I like Final Fantasy IV a lot. I’ll be interested to hear what you think when you’re done with it. Especially since as I finish more of the other games in the series, it seems to have a somewhat unusually sunny ending. I’d be interested to hear if that’s your impression too.

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