Part 105: WeaponChapter 104 - Weapon
Now that we're done with the final dungeon, it's time we tackle the ultimate challenge of the game - The remaining optional Weapons, Ruby and Emerald. The two uber bosses were not originally present in the Japanese version (which kinda explains why the Ultimate Weapon is so unaptly named).
There are many, many ways to defeat them, some of which are very creative, some of which exploit bugs, some of which are super tight and require you to have a stupendous knowledge of their AI and patterns.
You can see dozens of videos on Youtube showing off the most exotic techniques, including people killing them with level 7 solo characters, no materia, etc.
For these bosses, however, I wanted to show you the truest, most quintessential FFVII gameplay experience one could have. The thing is, you never really have to stop and think about what you're doing when it comes down to FFVII's combat. You just play the game, beat bosses, read text. Even the final boss is kinda of a whimp, to be honest, especially if you had acquired KOTR by the time you reached him. KOTR makes everything a non-issue.
Except for Ruby and Emerald Weapons. No matter how prepared you thought you were, how overpowered your materias, how leveled your characters, it was very, very, very unlikely that you'd beat either of them on your first attempt. Or the second, or the third. Sure, someone must have, but that wasn't the rule, it was the exception.
You know what was the rule? The one thing in common between almost every strategy? The one materia you're seeing right there. [Mime]. Like a delicious potato ready to be baked, like a most exquisite ball of cheese, that yellow gold nugget was the one materia you could never get enough.
And so you farmed.
You farmed. At some point, you started to ponder the secrets of the universe. The meaning of it all. You'd think that's how it ends, but no, that's how it starts. Suddenly it's clear why people did so much philosophizing, so much math, so much everything. Boredom.
You farmed. You longed for the sweet release of dopamine, the warm embrace of serotonin, the soothing encompassing of the endorphins, the satisfaction of killing those damn bosses.
You farmed. Ah, you can smell, almost taste the sweet bragging rights. Denied yet built upon by all them hours of repetitive grinding.
You farmed. "Why am I not gamesharking it?" - You ask yourself. It wouldn't be the same. You start to comprehend things about your primitive brain. How it works. Why do gameshark codes look like they do anyway? Always 0800 something, like they're free telephone numbers. How does the game know what to do with them? You put the question in your backlog.
You farmed. While your anxiety is growing, so is your capacity for patience. It's all automatic now. You realize - maybe as a way to feel more comfortable about yourself - this might be useful, this might even pay off in the long run. You can now work, do equations, even do your homework while you're playing. You're a true multitasker. In a few years this is gonna help you be mediocre in Starcraft instead of just awful. You're not even there anymore. It's like the world's worst out-of-body experience. You've reached a deeper, inner peace. The next time your first employer makes you wait for 6 hours sitting in the reception room of an acting school, you take the opportunity to observe, to learn, instead of feeling impatient. So that's what osmosis feels like.
You farmed. The next time you log, you start to solve differential equations in your head. Everything has a peaceful aspect to it. You log, and gather enough wood with your friends to build a nice bonfire by the beach. For a moment you can almost feel the earth rotating, the night sky moving slowly. You think about them. The stars. You put reading about them in your backlog. The next time you're asked to meditate in the glade by your Kung-Fu instructor you actually do it instead of just pretending while being awfully bored.
You farmed. If only you knew how tame this was compared to what literally every single game would become in some years, no matter the genre. Surely it would never infect your sacred FPS games, right?
At long last, you're done. Like the effect of relavity when travelling close to the speed of light, you feel like your perception of time has changed. You're nerdier now, forever.
You proceed to meet with what is simultaneously the most useful and most useless NPC in the game.
The old man in Kalm has only one purpose, to trade Weapon-related goods.
By trading the [Guidebook] you got from morphing the Ghost Ship enemy in the Underwater Reactor...
You get the [Underwater] Materia, which removes the timer for the Emerald Weapon battle.
Next we go to Rocket Town, to talk to the old man.
We need to get the Ultimate Weapon for Cid.
There we go.
Like other Ultimate Weapons, [Venus Gospel] has a special characteristic. Its damage is affected by the ratio between your current and maximum MP, which doesn't give Cid a lot of incentive to go out casting spells.
Next stop: Cosmo Canyon. Now that we're done with the materia grinding, we're gonna get some nice reactions with the huge materias.
Oh, this doesn't bode well.
Yeah, that ain't happening. Be right back.
Buggenhagen: "It will teach you more than just staying here in the valley..."
Buggenhagen: "What you will see will eventually become a part of life's dream. For my children... "
Buggenhagen: "And for your children... "
Red XIII: "..."
Buggenhagen: "Ho Ho... hooo. Now, now. Don't look like that. I'm alright."
Red XIII: "Grandfather..."
Buggenhagen: "Oh yes... that this along. I think it will look good on you now..."
To the happy farm.
Red XIII: "He told me he couldn't stay still and just zipped out of here!"
Right. And with Yoda's death we should be done with the Star Wars references.
[Limited Moon] is Red XIII's Ultimate Weapon.
It has the same property as Venus Gospel, losing damage the lower your MP is.
Come on Red now that is just sad for the wrong reasons.
Red XIII: "Yeah... maybe..."
Red XIII: "Thanks, Cloud..."
Let's go, we've got a planet to save.
When you have a copy of each materia mastered you can trade them for Master materias. Keep in mind you do lose the original copies.
You can do it as many times as you want. The blue Huge Materia doesn't actually give you a Master Support materia, you only use it to get [Bahamut Zero].
Sadly, [Master Command] doesn't include Enemy Skill for obvious reasons, but is still a super useful materia.
Time to get ready. First we're going to beat Emerald Weapon.
One thing you should know is that these two Weapons have a huge amount of Health - 1 Million and 800k for Emerald and Ruby respectively. That's a lot of health. In fact, Ruby's health is twice the maximum amount of health the final boss can have (400k) and that requires for you to go out of the way and do all the triggers necessary (otherwise is health is just 80k).
While their Health pool may seem overkill, they do offer a challenge the other bosses don't - you need your strategy to be sustainable enough for you to survive what is likely going to be a long battle. This isn't the case with the other bosses, normally you just toss everything you have at them until they die, healing when necessary.
One problem that comes with their long health is that the battles themselves aren't very interesting to watch, since it all comes down to a sustainable strategy based on repetition and their health pools are huge. Once you figure out what to do, it's mostly more of the same.
But what to do, exactly? It is kind of a big monster.
The first consequence of their fat HP is that a certain spell called Demi 1 is incredibly effective - even though it only deals 25% of the current HP, it will still deal 9999 damage most of the time. You even get to know the moment the enemy has less than 40k health for you to rush down. Also, Demi costs really low MP.
In fact, Demi is so great that you can couple it with Quadra Magic and you won't even have to compensate for the damage reduction. Add in W-Magic and it's a guaranteed 80,000 damage every turn. I mean, things like this required an enormous amount of preparation - against Emerald Weapon it comes for free.
Add an HP Absorb and watch the health bar of your characters going up. You don't even need Underwater Materia!
In fact once you figure out that you can Counter Mime and HP Absorb your way to heaven, annoying things like "strategy", "skills", "tactics" or "other characters" become superfluous and ready to be discarded. You don't even need 9999 damage (though you can certainly Morph your way to it) and it quite frankly it doesn't matter. I even think Ultimate Weapon might be suboptimal since you're healing less the lower your HP is (since you're dealing less damage).
Anyway folks, that was Emerald Weapon for you.
Killing Emerald Weapon nets us a pretty good reward, if a little useless. I mean, if you can beat Emerald Weapon odds are you don't need Master Materias.
On the other hand it's possible you may have failed one of the four huge materia quests or missed a lost-forever Summon.
Let's move on to Ruby Weapon. You can see its head in the desert around Gold Saucer.
Collide with the Highwind and you'll force it to reveal itself.
Even though Ruby has 200k less HP than Emerald Weapon it is a much bigger challenge and without doubt the hardest boss in the game.
This is what happens the first time you face Ruby. You get absolutely crushed and you have no idea why. Also the battle kinda forces you to start with two characters dead, otherwise he'll just take them away like Midgar Zolom.
So we've seen the power of Mime, Counter and HP Absorb. It's time we take a step further and add Knights of the Round to the mix.
And this is why every magazine told you to spam Mimes, Counters and KOTRs back in the day. This shit just works. I mean, sure, you can exploit Ruby Weapon's vulnerability to status ailments and what not, but why bother when you can just watch the game play itself at the mere cost of your sanity?
Killing it grants you the [Desert Rose].
The Desert Rose grants you a Gold Chocobo which to be honest is not particularly fast and - again - not really all that useful at this point. If you can kill Ruby Weapon without KOTR you're pretty much set.
Still, you get to see a Chocobo ride the stairs on command, only to be given away by its owner, an old man who somehow is in possession of the rarest items in Gaia.
I'm not an expert in travelling or anything, but I think that a Gold Chocobo, a set of the most powerful magical artifacts in existence and a unique materia that literally allows you not to drown would be pretty much the three most useful items in a quest to safely journey over the world.
No seriously, I think they're literally the three best items possible. Think about it. Your Gold Chocobo can go anywhere and you're not even under risk of drowning if you decide to cross the ocean with it and something stupid happens. Let's not even touch the subject that you have access to some pretty powerful magic barriers, protection spells, invulnerability and/or the power to summon huge dragons in case you got bored of riding a chocobo.
I mean, what else would you take with you? The only item I can make a case for would be a Ribbon in lieu of the three Master materias so you don't end up getting a disease you don't have an immunity, but that's only because we don't have to defend ourselves against Godzilla-sized monsters on a daily basis.
The end of our journey!