The Most Memorable Moments of the Compilation of FFVII – Part 1

by November 21, 2009 13 comments

After much voting, and a few delays, the results of our first poll have been tallied and gathered. And some of what users nominated and voted for the most memorable moments of the Compilation are quite surprising.

The moments that made it into the top ten will proceed to the next tier of voting to see which moment is the most memorable of all. Below you’ll find the results of which moments made the cuts, the moments that didn’t, and the personal commentary of members who picked out these events for their memorability. So enjoy, and see what ends up making the cut next time, when only the top four are selected.

Moment Number 10: The heroes return to the Highwind after being ordered by Cloud to discover their reason for fighting.

“Recall a time when you had never played Final Fantasy VII before. Remember how it felt to experience the story as it unfolded for the first time, knowing what lay ahead no more than Cloud and the others did. Think back to the thrill of the highway escape from Midgar, the pleasure of countless hours at the Gold Saucer, the sadness of Aerith’s death, the lump in your stomach as Cloud was forced to face his past at the Northern Crater, and the heart warming emotions as the real events of Nibelheim were discovered.

Do you remember?

Do you remember how it felt that first magical time?

It was a journey of the mind, not just for the characters, but for ourselves. Connecting with them as if we existed in that world? Breathing as they breathed, learning as they learned, feeling as they felt.

These people we have come to know and love so well over the last decade were once upon a time stranger to us. But, that first time we lived through their struggle; their loss was our loss; and we were side by side with them when Aerith died, when Cloud was lost, and when Shinra fell.

Remember now Cloud’s speech on the Highwind. Meteor was one week away from destroying them, and Sephiroth stood between them and the Planet’s salvation. Recall that first time you saw it. You didn’t know how things would end. You didn’t know how the party would react. Cloud sent each of them away to rediscover what they fought for. Was it a person? Was it a memory? Was it a heritage?

The journey had seen many changes for the characters;
– For Barret, the Shinra were no more, and he yearned to be with his daughter.
– For Nanaki, his role as protector of Cosmo Canyon was all the more important with the passing of Bugenhagen.
– For Reeve, the evacuation and survival of the citizens of Midgar held priority.
– For Yuffie, Shinra’s defeat and inheritance of Materia signaled the
restoration of Wutai’s pride.
– For Vincent, getting his revenge on Hojo and being reunited with a lost love was all that had mattered.
– For Cid, he achieved his dream of flying into space, discovering at the same time how valuable his relationship with Shera was.

Only Cloud and Tifa remained with their goal unfulfilled. Sephiroth was still alive. He had killed their families, their friends; he had even killed Aerith. He had to pay for his crimes.

Now, as the sun rose on that fateful day, the Highwind hovered silently above the plains, empty but for two childhood friends who were prepared to go on alone. Prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the Planet.

Remember how it felt to see them alone on the bridge, realizing then that the others had fulfilled their dreams; had achieved their goals. Then remember how it felt to see them reappear, one by one, swearing their allegiance to the cause, determined not to give up on their friends.

Determined not to give up for the ones they loved.

Remember that first time. When you couldn’t help but grin as the characters you had come to know and love reunited, strengthening the theme of companionship of which you had become a part of. Remember how it made you feel.

Now all that remained was Sephiroth, and the climax to the journey that had captured your very heart.

That i why I nominated this moment as the most memorable of Final Fantasy VII. ” -S&G

Moment Number 9: The ending of FFVII where Red XIII appears 500 years later with two cubs looking on a Midgar.

“What happened?! I saw Holy and Meteor react, our fallen comrade’s face…and then credits? Did Holy kill all the humans or not?!” These are the thoughts that raced through the heads of those beating FF7 for the first time. After the credits rolled they saw the words ‘500 Years Later,’ to the familiar tribal beat of the Cosmo Canyon drums.

As the camera descends from the heavens, we see movement across a rocky landscape that is quickly clear to be Nanaki, but what are those behind him? The camera pulls in and we get a closer view of Nanaki, clearly aged, but he still exudes power and now with a generous dose of wisdom. Behind him follow cubs. The cubs of the creature thought to be the last of his kind. For any fan of Nanaki, this alone is cause for the scene’s memorability. Soon the family bounds up the cliff face and roars at the top. The camera sweeps around similar to how it did around the petrified Seto to reveal Midgar.

The polluted capital of the Shinra Empire is now covered with foliage and greenery, the cold metal is only visible at parts. So, are all the humans dead? Did they learn to live with nature? Did they simply abandon Midgar and live elsewhere? A flock of birds swoops above to the laughter of children. This laughter seems to suggest humankind is still around but it was still debatable until the release of the Compilation.

This scene is so iconic that Final Fantasy VII Advent Children opened with it in beautiful high quality graphics and the rest of the Compilation has added to it. Firstly, Before Crisis revealed the likely source of the cubs, Deneh, another member of his tribe.

However, perhaps the most significant addition to the meaning of the scene comes from the Case of Nanaki in On the Way to a Smile. In it Nanaki laments that he will outlive all his friends to which the ageless Vincent Valentine tells him that he’ll be around just as long, at least. Then the two heroes agree to meet once per year on the outskirts of Midgar. This instantly directs our thoughts to one of those days 500 years into the future as Nanaki travels with his children to meet his very old friend.” -Forcestealer

Moment Number 8: Red XIII learns the truth about his father and sees Seto shed tears while petrified.

“The scene of Nanaki learning the truth of his father from Bugenhagen was one of the most emotional and defining moments of Nanaki’s character in FFVII. As Nanaki’s entire understanding of his family’s past were changed in that instant, the grief, pride, and love exhibited in that scene were palatable. What once was hatred and loathing for a cowardly father, turned to love, admiration, and pride towards a warrior who sacrificed his own life to ensure the safety of his mother and all the residents of Cosmo Canyon. The heartfelt scene was only punctuated by the silent tears shed by Seto’s petrified body, as if Seto’s soul found peace in knowing that his son finally understood and accepted him as his father.”

Moment Number 7: Cloud’s Crossdressing escapade in Wall Market

“The cross dressing sequence in wall market is a memorable scene in the compilation of FF7, but mostly, for all the wrong reasons. People focus on the humor of Cloud being in drag, which is memorable, but it’s memorable for the same reasons ‘This guy are sick’ is memorable for. Why it should be memorable, is what it tells us about Cloud. No, not that he enjoys dressing in drag. He’s actually quite opposed to the idea, only agreeing to it because it’s to save Tifa.

What this scene does is tell us, in a lighthearted way, that Cloud is a man who will do anything for the people he cares about, no matter how personally he dislikes it, that he will go the extra mile for his friends and family, doing everything he thinks he can. It gives us a peak into the mindset of the true Cloud that we will get to meet later, the Cloud hiding behind his true self, and provide as an introduction to the mindset that guides his action throughout the compilation. In short, it is memorable because it is funny, but it deserves to be memorable because it tells us in a very sly, and yes, amusing factor, that Cloud is someone who will go all out to help those he cares for if he’s able, in stark contrast to the military hard-ass he is pretending to be.”

Moment Number 6: Cloud throwing Sephiroth into the Mako pit in Nibelheim.

“‘No way.’

That was my reaction the first time I saw Cloud defeat Sephiroth in the original Final Fantasy VII.

Not when he defeated him at the end of the game, where he fought with the strength of a SOLDIER. Rather, this reaction was to the revelation of the truth of what had taken place in Nibelheim five years ago.

It’s not even like I didn’t know it was coming. Like so many others playing their first Final Fantasy, I was using the official strategy guide, published by BradyGames and written by David Cassady.

I’d spoiled myself on some of the upcoming details by reading ahead. I’d seen the line that reads, ‘He bested Sephiroth and saved Tifa and Zack’s lives.’ I knew Cloud was able to beat Sephiroth somehow.

I didn’t know yet that he threw him into the bottom of Nibelheim’s mako reactor, though — and I definitely didn’t know that the two actually fought. My assumption was that Cloud simply took Sephiroth by surprise and wounded him, leading to Sephiroth fleeing, not to be seen again for five years.

After all, the strategy guide had also said, ‘Sephiroth defeats Zack, but Cloud grabs his sword and sneaks up on Sephiroth as he’s reaching for Jenova.’

The Mideel Sequence was already significant before this revelation. At that juncture in the story, the mystery of who Cloud really was still lingered, but was finally being unraveled. Sephiroth’s lies at the Reunion were being revealed for what they were.

Until this point, it had seemed they may be true. At any rate, neither Tifa nor Cloud could dispute them. Hojo even corroborated them. Cloud certainly believed them.

This portion of the story was already resolving the game’s primary mystery — but the biggest surprises lay ahead.

My expectations for what was coming were completely blown away. Tifa gets wounded by Sephiroth, as we’d seen before in the Kalm flashback, but then — instead of Cloud arriving on the scene, as shown prior — his friend Zack, SOLDIER 1st Class, shows up … only to be defeated as well. A particularly intense moment follows in which Cloud runs Zack’s sword through an unsuspecting Sephiroth and reveals that he’d been there all along, his face hidden behind the helmet of a regular Shin-Ra soldier.

The mystery of Cloud’s identity was solved — he was real, and he’d been in Nibelheim. As exhilarating as this sequence was, an even more intense development awaited players just two minutes later.

Cloud mistakenly believed he’d delivered a killing blow to Sephiroth. To his surprise, the villain emerged from Jenova’s room a moment later, her head in tow and his attention focused on escaping. Not even attempting to fight, Sephiroth, though severely wounded, made for the exit.

As this comrade who had turned on him left the room, the injured Zack made a request: “Cloud… Kill Sephiroth….” And with that, the regular Shin-Ra soldier, who lacked both Jenova cells and mako enhancement, set out to finish what the 1st Class SOLDIER could not.

And he succeeded.

As Cloud confronted Sephiroth on a catwalk overlooking the bottom of the mako reactor, Sephiroth quickly turned and impaled Cloud with the Masamune. He then lifted his “defeated” foe, who still dangled on the blade, into the air, confident of his victory — but only for a short moment. Activated by Cloud’s rage over the loss of his hometown, the loss of his mother, and the injuries to his friend as well as his secret love — what could only be called a Limit Break emerged from Cloud as he grabbed the blade of Sephiroth’s sword and pulled himself back to the ground.

The blade shaking as he wrested control of the weapon from his nemesis, Cloud then lifted Sephiroth himself into the air — the music accompanying the scene rising to a swell as he did. So in disbelief was the legendary SOLDIER at this unexpected turn of events, Sephiroth didn’t even think to let go of the Masamune’s handle.

With a final effort before his body gave out, Cloud used the Masamune to hurl Sephiroth through the air and into the reactor wall. From there, humanity’s self-declared enemy plummeted into the heart of the mako reactor — defeated. Cloud had killed the most powerful man in the world — the man who walked through flames in that commercial from 1997 and captivated so many of us in the West who had never heard of Final Fantasy before.

“No way.”

He’d really done it. Cloud had achieved a feat that he’d thought impossible when relating the earlier flashback in Kalm. Even after he’d gained his SOLDIER enhancements while a captive of Hojo, Cloud didn’t believe he could have beaten Sephiroth. Yet he’d it done while still a normal kid — if, indeed, he could be considered ever having been normal after doing such a thing.

Suddenly, Cloud coming through the accident that had left Tifa in a coma and him with only scraped knees made a lot more sense. He had been something special all along — and the only one who knew it was the man who hated him for it.

The fact that no one in the game comments on it afterward only serves to underline its significance. The characters didn’t have to tell us how amazing this was — it spoke for itself.

There was something in Cloud that one finds often in true heroes of fantasy and fiction — a reservoir of strength that emerges in desperate times to meet the need at hand and save lives. This was no Punisher or Rorschach — this was someone more akin to a Spider-Man or a Gohan.

Though presented to us for much of the game as an uncouth, cold antihero, Cloud’s mind deteriorated and the typically lauded role of the antihero went without endorsement. It was, in fact, heavily deconstructed. The strong badass was revealed to be a mental weakling unable to face who he really was for most of the game.

Ultimately forced to confront the truth, however, Cloud had to square with his worst enemy — himself. And when this process was finished, what were we left with? A hero.

One who possessed flaws, as any good hero should, but a hero nonetheless.

Though this climactic clash between Sephiroth and Cloud in the bowels of the mako reactor has been re-envisioned on multiple occasions, no iteration since has captured the magic of the original telling — at least, in this author’s opinion. Simple though it was in execution and limited though the graphics were by today’s standards, this scene from the original FFVII stands as an example of powerful storytelling — demonstrating what can be done with a good script, fitting music, and appropriate timing.” -Squall_of_SeeD

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  1. punkiemonkie
    #1 punkiemonkie 21 November, 2009, 03:42

    Glad to see that Zack’s death and Cloud inheriting the Buster Sword made it to number one; that was the one I would have voted for.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Quexinos
    #2 Quexinos 21 November, 2009, 08:27

    GO QUEXINOS! I love it when she writes this stuff 😀

    Reply to this comment
  3. Neutron Ronnie
    #3 Neutron Ronnie 21 November, 2009, 08:49

    No surprises for #1 and 2! 😀

    Reply to this comment
  4. ZackFair1219
    #4 ZackFair1219 21 November, 2009, 16:08

    No doubt Zack and Aerith’s deaths were going to make it as #1 and #2. Question is…who will win in the end? Zack or Aerith?

    And, once again, I have to give a hand to Squall_of_SeeD for his heartwarming flashback of an analysis in the Cloud vs. Sephiroth in Nibelhiem bit.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Lynn Strife
    #5 Lynn Strife 21 November, 2009, 17:23

    Awesome! Thanks for this! =)
    I totally understand why “Zack’s death and Cloud inheriting the Buster Sword” is moment number one. It’s very emotional and a sad yet beautiful scene =)

    Reply to this comment
  6. Glaurung
    #6 Glaurung 21 November, 2009, 18:03

    Good job everyone! 😀

    Reply to this comment
  7. Okami925
    #7 Okami925 22 November, 2009, 22:27

    All of these moments were memorable in their own way and quite well-written. As for me, I’m known as the kind of person who NEVER cries during movies or anything but Zack’s death still made me emotional. T.T

    I still do think that the ending to the original Final Fantasy VII really stuck with me.

    Reply to this comment
  8. sayde
    #8 sayde 25 November, 2009, 05:19

    wow. Good stuff! But I am a little disappointed to see that Genesis & Angeal vs Seph didn’t even get a mention.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Tennyo
    #9 Tennyo 25 November, 2009, 09:23

    Oh wow, Ryu. Your write up of Zack’s death almost brought a tear to my eye. 🙁

    Reply to this comment
  10. Sephirah
    #10 Sephirah 26 November, 2009, 23:17

    I voted for the DMW one because it was the first time I ever cried playing a game. Nothing was that powerfull. And LicoriceAllsorts’s text capted that so well, it brought tears to my eyes again. You did a great job.

    As for number 1# and 2#, it was no surprise actually. I was surprised to see Aerith’s death was not in 1# though. I suppose Crisis Core did move with the player’s feeling. I glad though, because Aerith’s death made laugh. (i know, i’m horrible)

    Reply to this comment
  11. TerraCorrupt
    #11 TerraCorrupt 12 December, 2009, 22:10

    Wow… Just, wow…
    I have played through FFVII at least 100 times, I know Advent Children off by heart, I’ve watched Last Order a million times, veiwed the scenes from Dirge of Cerberus over an over again, and I’ve maxed out my Crisis Core file to lvl. 99… But those desrciptions of the moments took what I have come to love and be so familiar with, and filled them with a new meaning, beyond which I haven’t felt since I first played the game…

    Bravo, guys… Bravo…

    Reply to this comment
  12. sami
    #12 sami 29 July, 2010, 00:21

    NO CID moments!!! ugh oh well

    Reply to this comment
  13. spiel
    #13 spiel 25 July, 2012, 07:37

    Great article!
    Especially love the description of the reactor scene (#6) 🙂

    Could be because of my missing sleep, but I don’t quite get the line
    He had been something special all along — and the only one who knew it was the man who hated him for it.
    Who are you talking about there?

    Reply to this comment

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