When did the opening to Dirge of Cerberus take place?

Despite being one of the most beautiful and thought-provoking sequences ever seen in a video game, the ending of Final Fantasy VII has been disappointing gamers ever since 1997 due to Yuffie and Vincent’s absence. Recruit one or both, leave one or the other behind — it won’t matter. They will not show up in the ending no matter what the player does.

The reasons the two don’t show up in this or any of the game’s other FMV sequences have always been clear: they are optional characters; the FMV sequences were time-consuming, expensive endeavors to begin with; and the ending FMV already took up so much of the available space on Disc 3 (334 of approximately 700 MB) that the developers certainly wouldn’t have had room to include four versions of the ending even if they had the time and inclination. However, in the months building up to the January 2006 release of Dirge of Cerberus in Japan, leading FFVII developers Tetsuya Nomura and Yoshinori Kitase would make some rather curious comments.

Beginning with Nomura, in the November 2005 issue of Japanese gaming publication “Dengeki PlayStation,” he said the following:

“In addition, the reason Yuffie and Vincent didn’t appear in the ending of FFVII will be revealed.”

A few short months later, in an interview with Japanese celebrity Shoko Nakagawa for the February 2006 issue of “Dorimaga” (known as “Gemaga” from July of the same year until its cancellation in March of 2012), the following exchange took place between Nakagawa and Kitase on pg. 14:

中川 「FFVII」のエンディングにはヴィンセントが出てこなかったので、寂しかったんですよ。それが今ごろになってヴィンセント単独のゲ―ムが出てくるなんて、信じられない ぐらいうれしいです!

北瀬 そうなんですよ。前作のエンディングにはヴィンセントとユフィって出てこなかったんですよね。ファンの方も疑問に思っていたみたいですし、ネットにもそういう書き込みがいっばいありました。そこでなぜその時にいなかったか、その理由がわかるシ―ンを「DC」のプロロ―グに入れました。


Nakagawa: “Since Vincent didn’t appear in the ending of FFVII, I missed him. Now that Vincent has a game of his own coming out, though, I’m unbelievably happy!”

Kitase: “That’s right. Vincent and Yuffie didn’t appear in the ending of the previous work. Fans have long had their own thoughts about that mystery and have posted them to the Net. So now, the reason they didn’t appear then is being included in DC’s prologue scene.”

Kitase is also quoted at the bottom of the page in a floating quote as saying:

“The reason Vincent wasn’t in the ending of FFVII is revealed.”

This “explanation” served only to create further confusion in the minds of fans, as the prologue to DC consequently placed Vincent and Yuffie on the ground in Midgar during FFVII’s ending. Meanwhile, the opening flashbacks of Advent Children, released only a few months earlier in September of 2005, featured them fighting Sephiroth at the heart of the planet alongside Cloud and the rest of their allies in AVALANCHE during the original game’s final battles.

This supposed resolution to a long-standing “mystery” — one which was born entirely of technical limitations and really didn’t need solving to begin with — created a mutually exclusive series of events. Midgar was already subject to massive destruction due to tornadoes and a struggle between Holy and Meteor when the team arrived at the city in the Highwind during FFVII’s ending.

Simply put, it was impossible for the timing of DC’s opening to coincide with FFVII’s ending if Yuffie and Vincent were also present for the final battles with Sephiroth inside the planet.

However, that is exactly the series of events that would continue being posited in official sources. Yuffie and Vincent’s personal timelines from their profiles in the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania would confirm that the two were present for Sephiroth’s defeat, then add that they carried out the relief effort seen in DC’s opening:

Yuffie’s FFVII 10th Anniverary Ultimania profile (pg. 66; pg. 68 of the Revised Edition)
After defeating Sephiroth with Cloud and co. in the Great Northern Cave, she and Vincent coordinate rescue efforts for the wounded during Meteorfall.

Vincent’s FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania profile (pg. 70; pg. 72 of the Revised Edition)
After defeating Sephiroth with Cloud and co. in the Great Northern Cave, he works with Yuffie to save people facing Meteorfall.

The same claim would show up again on pg. 134 of the same book (pg. 136 of the Revised Edition) in its Story Playback section for Dirge of Cerberus:

Vincent and Yuffie — having defeated Sephiroth along with their comrades — separate from their friends awaiting the planet’s judgment and carry out efforts to rescue people in Midgar.

Despite there being no real mystery requiring an answer here — no more so than the “mystery” of where the two optional characters were in the FMV that plays as the Weapons awaken or during any of the game’s other FMVs, for that matter — a scene that would have otherwise fit along the timeline nicely on the night that Hojo died in battle atop the Sister Ray became an utter continuity catastrophe. That earlier evening would have better fit the timing of DC’s opening not only because it rained that night in the original game, as during DC’s prologue, but Rufus, seen being evacuated in the newer game’s opening moments, would otherwise then be left injured in the ruins of the Shin-Ra building for a week before being rescued after Sephiroth’s defeat.

The morning after Shin-Ra’s collapse in the original game, Cloud and Red XIII make the following observations regarding the timing of Meteorfall:

Cloud: “Meteor’s gonna fall in about……”

Red XIII: “Seven more days. That’s what Grandfather said.”

Fortunately, Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children’s scenario writer, Kazushige Nojima, would recognize the errors at work here and correct them in 2009 with the release of Episode:Shin-Ra in his On the Way to a Smile series of official novellas. What had been a significant continuity conundrum was smoothed over in an instant.

A simple, elegant fix was introduced: The events depicted in DC’s prologue were at last relocated to where they should have been all along — the night Hojo died.

During the course of Episode Shin-Ra, Reno of the Turks observes Yuffie coordinating rescue efforts as Rufus is evacuated from the Shin-Ra building on a stretcher. In other words, precisely the events observed in that opening scene from Dirge of Cerberus are described as taking place the night Rufus was nearly killed by Diamond Weapon.

In summary, Dirge of Cerberus’s prologue was originally said to have taken place during Meteorfall, immediately after Sephiroth’s defeat inside the planet. Officially, it now takes place a week before those events.

While this means the “mystery” of Yuffie and Vincent’s whereabouts during FFVII’s ending has returned, the ailment the cure for that had brought with it has been purged.

Author: Squall_of_SeeD
Posted: July 21, 2013