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THE ENDGAME: Final Dungeons of the Final Fantasy Series Part VII

by October 8, 2010 13 comments

Final Fantasy VII: Northern Crater

Remember how I marveled at FFIV’s dungeon? I asked you to remember (or imagine) seeing it from the first time coming off the dungeons of Final Fantasies I-III. It was an impressive leap, it felt solid, it had some depth to it. The first three games almost felt like a board game. Impressive in their own rights, don’t misunderstand, but the SNES era games just added so much to the presentation.

Well as much as a leap as that was – remember or imagine, if you will, coming off the SNES Final Fantasies and coming across a final dungeon that looked like this:

I’ll give you a moment to pick yourselves up off the floor, because if you imagined/remembered properly, that’s exactly where you should be.

Ready? Okay.

Sephiroth, your mortal enemy for several reasons, cast his doomsday spell and holed up in the crater made by the asteroid that delivered his ‘mother’ 2000 years ago. Complete with an energy shield around the entrance, he intends to simply wait until the Meteor hits, inflicting the wound that will give him access to all the souls on the Planet. Shinra was kind enough to take down his barrier for you, so all that remains is to climb down to the depths of the planet and release the hold he has on humanity’s only hope.

As we all know, Final Fantasy VII represented a huge change for the series. Apart from the graphics, gone was the medieval high-fantasy setting; gone were the princesses and crystalline dungeons. How did this all translate to the endgame?

While the mish mashing environments of the previous two dungeons are gone, the Northern Crater has some incredibly varied locales. From Lifestream waterfalls to skeletons of giant creatures and even a section with a camera angle reminiscent of a side-scroller, you certainly will not get bored from the scenery. I don’t mean to ramble about the attractiveness of the dungeon, I just want to emphasize that the good graphics were not the only reason it’s so easy on the eyes: its design is very imaginative.

Unfortunately, it also hits several snags as compared to its predecessors. Chief among these is difficulty – or lack thereof. Now, in fairness, if you head directly to the crater after popping in Disc 3, you are likely to be low to mid 50s in level. At this point the dungeon is reasonably tough. King Behemoths can deal heavy damage; dragons will as well with several attacks, gargoyles and Edward Scissorhands cosplayers will hit you with instant death. And as any Final Fantasy player worth his or her salt knows, the Master Tonberries will ruin your day.

Get the %&#$ away from me!!

However, if you undertake any sidequests at all, even very minor leveling or obtaining some ultimate weapons, you will rapidly eclipse the enemies here. They simply do not have the HP counts to stand up to Double Cuts from three ultimate weapons, or even just a party pushing level 65 and up. On top of that, there is no boss gauntlet. Well, not a true one at least. The rocks you have to hop from on your way to the final battle are subject to some powerful monsters (again, only if you came directly here; Go ignored and $200 uncollected), but they lack story relevance that past gauntlets have had.

Kefka’s Tower can still backhand a player across the face at level 80 if the player is not prepared, but overlevelled parties in FFVII can simply steamroll their way through the Northern Crater. This does little to help the dungeon’s already short length. The fact that it is shorter than the past couple would not be a huge deal as a standard playthrough of FFVII is longer than one in FFs V and VI by this point. What is puzzling are the dungeon’s efforts to shorten itself.

Halfway through, the path forks, and you must direct party members to different paths. Like Kefka’s Tower, right? Well, it is until you reach the part that you do not control your other party members. You just meet up with them at the bottom and they give you the items they found along the way. This means that, if you’re playing normally, you only see half the dungeon. This is really a shame because the areas are, as I’ve mentioned, very pretty and you should be able to see them. It was years before I even knew what the other half looked like (which happens to look awesome with the corkscrew and massive skeletons). Furthermore, as I said, the dungeon’s rather short. If you actually had to go through the whole thing, it would probably be a normal length. If, for example, there were no split, or even more reasonably, you just had to control all the groups, this would all be remedied. Even the difficulty would step up as you’d have to use the other characters.

Phew, anyway, to end on a positive note, I deliberately avoided talking about the music. And that is because the song here very nearly makes up for every single one of these misgivings. This song is awesome. In my opinion Final Fantasy VII does not, in fact, have the best overall soundtrack, but “Judgment Day” is the standard to which I hold all other endgame themes. I’ve mentioned liking a rousing score for my march to save the world, and Judgment Day actually doesn’t have that “go forth” quality I mentioned. However, if you could write “determination” in music, this is it. You are pissed at Sephiroth and this is the perfect song to mentally prepare you for the spanking you intend to hand him. Incidentally, ocremix has a fantastic version of this song that captures its feel and manages to make it even more awesome.
The more subdued areas have the Promised Land music, and your ‘final approach’ is heralded by the ever-badass JENOVA theme.

So they missed some major opportunities with the Northern Crater. And they are amplified by my recent journey through the previous ones. However, this dungeon nailed the atmosphere better than any other. Hell was an awesome place to charge through, and the Rift was disconcerting and spooky, but graphically and musically speaking, Final Fantasy VII’s final dungeon hits it out of the park.

With towers and holes and other dimensions, where could we possibly have left to go? Why through time, of course!

13 comments

  1. kchri
    #1 kchri 9 October, 2010, 00:27

    While I agree with the dungeon’s easiness, and although you do have to do a lot in the game notwithstanding to get to this point, isn’t Sephiroth more aggressive and difficult the higher Cloud’s level is? I can’t remember where I think I learned that from. However, if in FFVI you just gain the AP to get some nice and effective spells, and you’ve been working on only some of the characters, that dungeon is very passable and easy even if your levels are only in the 40s. I agree though, VII’s dungeon is very cool-looking and has awesome music. I thought I was one of the only ones that really loved “Judgment Day”. I’m checking out the remix now..! Thanks for doing these, I read them all!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ryushikaze
    #2 Ryushikaze 9 October, 2010, 19:11

    Sephiroth’s difficulty goes up with everyone’s level- save Aerith’s- and has special boosts for every character to hit L99.

    Reply to this comment
    • ForceStealer
      ForceStealer Author 10 October, 2010, 04:03

      Correct, he also gets a substantial HP boost should you use Knights of the Round on Jenova Synthesis.

      Also, thanks kchri, I’m glad you enjoy them 🙂

  3. Okami925
    #3 Okami925 9 October, 2010, 20:25

    I liked this dungeon because it was the first time I’d gotten to one in a Final Fantasy. It was kinda easy compared to VI’s but maybe that’s because I was at level 66 in VII, and my characters in VI ranged from 35 to 45. Tonberries were annoying, but it was that Behemoth from VI really messed up things with Haymaker. I. HATE. HAYMAKER!!

    Reply to this comment
  4. leandro alves fase 8
    #4 leandro alves fase 8 10 October, 2010, 11:37

    Sephirot is the big WEAK BOSS OF ALL FINAL FANTASY!! i`m kill on lv 50.ah, this dungeon is cool.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Cloud_Strife
    #5 Cloud_Strife 10 October, 2010, 13:13

    At the end of the game they mention about ‘someone’ coming which forces Cloud to leave with only two of the other players… Who are they talking about?

    Reply to this comment
    • kchri
      kchri 17 October, 2010, 04:19

      Cloud’s talking with Tifa(?) at this point right before Cloud passes through the Lifestream to deal the killing blow, right? He says “‘he’s’ still here.”, right? In that case he must be referring to Sephiroth – I think because he has memetic ties to him through Jenova’s cells. I’m right, right? Or are you truly talking about the part where the party that you choose makes its descent to fight the monsters and Jenova and the party says something like “Heads up! Here they come!”? In which case of course they are referring to the battles about to take place.

    • Cloud_Strife
      Cloud_Strife 18 October, 2010, 14:36

      That’s right, I’m talking about the second one. But who are they talking about? The monsters in the Northern Crater? Or some kinda J-E-N-O-V-A force?

    • ForceStealer
      ForceStealer Author 18 October, 2010, 14:40

      Yeah I’m pretty sure monsters were just rushing them. Whether they were beckoned by Jenova/Sephiroth or just happened to attack then, I’m not sure.

  6. Vyelle
    #6 Vyelle 30 October, 2010, 06:36

    I hope I can try one of those FF7 games. My parents won’t allow me coz they’ll say that I’ll be addicted to it!! ))Yeah right!(( Nevertheless, I like searching new images more than gaming. As for now, I’m starting to have my own complete compilation of Final Fantasy VII. I hope that I can use the infos in your web for my compilation.

    Reply to this comment
  7. TreasonWall
    #7 TreasonWall 14 March, 2013, 20:37

    …And the link at the bottom of this one redirects to FF10.

    Reply to this comment
    • ForceStealer
      ForceStealer Author 18 February, 2015, 16:11

      Derp, and 2 years after the fact, I see this. Fixed…

  8. Alisha Ross
    #8 Alisha Ross 9 February, 2019, 05:18

    A Link to the Past should not be #1, in my opinion. The concept of the Zelda games is not suitable for everyone. I had to use walkthroughs for Ocarina of Time, and now I’m wondering why it’s suddenly regarded as one of the greatest games ever, especially with all the hullabaloo about the Water Temple. Super Mario World on the other hand, has a easy to use/understand concept of just making it to the end of a level, with no frustrating no-hints given puzzles that you can learn from and not get frustrated with from getting lost, and again, was a pack-in game. Arguably the best of all games packaged with systems.
    Regards
    Alisha Ross

    Reply to this comment

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