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Final Fantasy worlds

Gaia  (FFVII)
Spira  (FFX)
Ivalice  (FFXII)

Gaia (largely referred to simply as "the Planet" in-game) is the fictional world in the 1997 console role-playing game Final Fantasy VII. The game's setting follows in the footsteps of Final Fantasy VI by presenting a world with considerably more advanced technology than the first five games in the series. Overall, the game's technology and society approximates that of an industrial or post-industrial science fiction.[1][2] The world of Final Fantasy VII, retroactively named "Gaia"[3] but referred to in the game as "The Planet", is composed of three land masses. However, in a possible continuity error, Sephiroth's final summon shows Meteor, crashing through multiple planets, labeled and illustrated as the ones in our solar system. The eastern continent features the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the headquarters of the Shinra Electric Power Company, a ruthless megacorporation that operates as the de facto world government. Shinra's major military base, Junon, is also located on the continent, along with a chocobo ranch, a small town called Kalm and a fortified town called Fort Condor.

The western continent features most of the playable areas, which include an amusement park, a seaside resort, and a settlement constructed on a plateau called "Cosmo Canyon". The tribe inhabiting the canyon places a strong emphasis on living in harmony with nature and dedicate great consideration to its well-being.[4] Their settlement features an observatory and serves as a research facility for those who wish to participate in a philosophy known as "the Study of Planet Life", an environmentally conscious way of life that encourages utmost deference for nature, and teaches that the planet has a life of its own.[4] The northernmost continent is a heavily glaciated wasteland covered in snow and ice, with its few settlements largely concerned with excavation or research. It does, however, feature a ski resort. The most prominent landmark is the northern crater which is a large crater caused when JENOVA (the calamity from the sky) collided with the planet. There are also underwater locations accessible via submarine.

Contents

Concept and creation

In the original Final Fantasy VII, the planet is unnamed, only being referred to simply as "The Planet". At one point in the game, the player reaches an area referred to as the "Gaea's Cliffs", an alternate form of "Gaia's Cliffs". However, it was given the name "Gaia" in a handout from E3 2005 about Advent Children.[3]

In Final Fantasy X-2, a member of the Gullwings named "Shinra" proposes the concept of extracting the life energy from peoples' lifeforces, like Shinra does in Final Fantasy VII Spira.[5] In the Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania guidebook published by Square Enix, Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X-2 scenario writer Kazushige Nojima stated that the character Shinra and his proposal are a deliberate nod to the Shinra Company of Final Fantasy VII, and also revealed that he envisioned the events of Final Fantasy X-2 as a prequel to those in Final Fantasy VII.[6][7][8] This connection had previously been hinted toward by Nojima and lead Final Fantasy developer Yoshinori Kitase during an interview in the Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω guidebook, and was again detailed in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω — two other official publications of Square Enix.[9][10]

Geography

Midgar

Gaia's land area is composed of three major landmasses. The Eastern Continent is where the game begins. To the west across the ocean is the Western continent and the Northern continent lies to the north of both of them. Smaller inhabited landmasses lie to the west and south of the main continents.

Midgar is the de-facto capital of Gaia, controlled by the Shinra Company. It sits in the middle of a large plain on the northwestern corner of the eastern continent. The area around the city has become drained, lifeless and polluted as a result of the use of Mako reactors. The city's prosperity was due to the abundance of Mako Energy in the vicinity, and the reactor complex meant that there was no vegetation within the city or in close proximity to it, with exception to both the church where Aerith and later two children tend to flowers, and the grounds of Aerith's house in sector 5. The area where the city stands also appears to be in a state of constant darkness even during daylight hours. This was made obvious when the Sister Ray was fired; at that moment, it was dark in Midgar, but clearly daylight where the Mako beam struck the Diamond WEAPON (just outside the city). Whether or not this constant darkness is also related to the use of Mako reactors is unclear, although by the time of Advent Children, after the city had been destroyed and Mako generation had ceased, daylight had returned to Midgar.

The city of Midgar is a circular plate elevated 50 meters above the ground and supported by both a central pillar and a system of smaller columns. A network of maintenance platforms are also suspended beneath the plate. Commercial and residential complexes, as well as recreational facilities such as bars and theaters are located on the plate. The plate itself is divided into eight numbered sectors with each sector punctuated by two walls and a Mako reactor. Each of these sectors once had a name, but no one in Midgar remembers them. The Shinra Company headquarters, Sector 0, is located at the center of the upper plate, and serves as the tallest structure in the city with 70 floors, the top ten of which are restricted access. There also appears to be a built-up ring outside the main perimeter of the city. The upper plate would remain incomplete for the entirety of its history.

Following the construction of the plate the land beneath was taken up by the poorer residents of Midgar and their ramshackle slum dwellings. Like the city above, the slums are divided into the eight numbered sectors punctuated by walls and gates. Quality of life in the slums is often very low due to the upper plate trapping all the pollution of the slums underneath it whilst at the same time blocking out the sunlight (although the sun is never shown to shine above the plate either). The slums as a whole are strewn with strange wreckage, including pillars of Greco-Roman design, and components of various dismembered mecha. The majority of the buildings there are made of collected scrap shaped into dwellings; few of the buildings exhibit any thorough architectural planning. There are, however, scattered buildings that are presumed to be left behind from before the plate's construction, the most obvious of which being Aerith's church and her house in the slums of Sector 5. The slums beneath Sector 6 are comparatively wealthy, having services such as restaurants, bars, shops, and clubs. This is most likely because that part of lower Midgar has yet to be adversely affected by the construction of the upper plate (the Sector 6 plate is still under construction during the game and is never finished). Most notably, Sector 6 is home to the mansion of slum libertine Don Corneo. A commuter railway system carries workers to and from the slums, and security measures have been implemented throughout the city.

In addition to Midgar, Shinra owned and operated the city of Junon, the world's second-largest city, and the only port on the Eastern continent, which featured the powerful artillery cannon Sister Ray. From Junon, it is possible to ride the cargo ship to Costa del Sol on the Western continent (and back). The only other significant settlement on the Eastern continent is close to Midgar at Kalm, where the majority of the townspeople once worked at the nearby Mythril Mine until monsters started appearing in that area and put the miners out of work. In addition to the eight Mako reactors in Midgar, Shinra had two other reactors built on the Eastern Continent. The reactor at Fort Condor is no longer operational by the beginning of the game and the mountain upon which it stands has been colonized by nesting condors and the mercenary fighters who protect them. The other reactor is located on the sea bed beneath Junon. Shinra financed the building and operation of the Gold Saucer, a combined amusement park-casino entertainment complex built on the Western continent in the middle of a harsh quicksand desert. The desert prison beneath the Gold Saucer was once the site of Barret Wallace's hometown Corel, a former coal mining village which was razed to the ground by Shinra troops in reprisal after members of the original AVALANCHE attacked the new Mako reactor at Mt. Corel. The few survivors now live in destitution close by in North Corel, a shanty town built largely from scrap and other junk. Also on the Western continent the Shinra built a Mako reactor in the Alps-like mountains above Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart's hometown Nibelheim. The reactor at Gongaga, Zack Fair's birthplace, suffered a meltdown three years prior to the beginning of the game, suspending operations there. Cosmo Canyon, Red XIII's windmill-powered birthplace, is a pilgrimage site for those who have an interest in the "Study of Planet Life" philosophy. Rocket Town, Cid Highwind's town of residence, is the site of the first attempt at manned spaceflight.

Occupying a large island off the westernmost continent is the city of Wutai. Yuffie Kisaragi is the princess of Wutai. Yuffie's father, Godo Kisaragi, led the city in a struggle for dominance against Shinra but lost.[11][12] Wutai is apparently based upon pre-modern Japan and China, utilizing familiar motifs such as a pagoda (where Godo resides), and a large statue called "Da Chao," bearing the appearance of what appears to be Buddha and other related figures. Wutai is likely to be named after the sacred mountain Wutai Shan.

The northern continent is mostly covered in snow and ice, except for the southernmost areas which are temperate enough to support boreal forests. This area contains the excavation site at Bone Village and beyond that, the mysterious Sleeping Forest. Past the forest is the Forgotten City, the capital of the Cetra civilization, exhibiting such unusual structures as homes made from giant helical shells. North and west of the Forgotten City are mountains beyond which the climate becomes polar. Icicle Lodge, Aerith Gainsborough's snowy birthplace, is where the snowboarding mini-game can be played for the first time. The Northern Cave, also called Northern Crater, is the original impact site of Jenova. The WEAPONs slept under the ice, encased in frozen Mako here for thousands of years following their creation. The remaining portion of Sephiroth's body emerged here after traveling through the Lifestream and became encased in a Mako crystal. The crater is also the site of the Jenova Reunion.

Located on a small island, the Temple of the Ancients is a large structure into which the Ancients transformed the Black Materia to prevent its use. Whoever wishes to turn the building back into the Black Materia must sacrifice his or her life by solving a series of puzzles that shrinks the temple back to its original size, crushing whoever is inside.[13] To the south-east of the Temple of The Ancients lies the only other inhabited island on Gaia, Mideel Island, a sub-tropical area where the Lifestream sometimes breaks through from inside the planet. Mideel village is the only settlement on the island until it is destroyed in a Lifestream eruption.

The Promised Land is a place sought after by the nomadic Cetra — a legacy briefly taken up by Sephiroth, who mistakenly believed himself to be an Ancient. Aerith tells Cloud that the Promised Land may not be a specific place, but the Shinra Company believe otherwise and are intent on using Aerith to find it. Upon reaching the Northern Crater, Rufus Shinra comes to the conclusion that it is the Promised Land due to its vast quantity of natural Mako. In actuality, both the game and the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω guidebook suggest that the Promised Land is no one specific place or thing, but rather something unique to each individual which brings that person supreme happiness.[14][15][16]

In Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus, the city of Edge appears, having been built north of the remains of Midgar. It is where most Midgar people relocated, including Cloud and Tifa. In Dirge of Cerberus, a massive complex that serves as the World Regenesis Organization's headquarters is featured. Though its precise location is unknown, it's presumed to reside somewhere on the Eastern Continent. The building is later severely damaged by Deepground prior to the retaliation assault on Midgar.

Political organizations

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Shinra Electric Power Company

Overview and Background

The Shinra Electric Power Company (神羅電気動力株式会社 Shinra Denki Dōryoku Kabushiki-gaisha?), or simply the Shinra Company (神羅カンパニー Shinra Kanpanī?), was a powerful mega-corporation which acted as a de facto government for much of Gaia. The Shinra Company grew from a small weapons manufacturer into a large conglomerate after the discovery of mako energy which the Shinra used to fuel the planet. In addition to their monopoly over mako the company employed a large military to secure their control over much of the planet. However, the company collapsed following the Meteor Crisis and now operates on a far smaller level. Despite this downsizing the company still plays a major role in world affairs.

Shinra is named after the family that runs the corporation. In Japanese materials pertaining to the original Final Fantasy VII, the company's name is parsed "Shin-Ra", though this parsing has not appeared in any English localizations and has been disused in Japan. "Shinra" is written with the Japanese kanji 神羅. This does not appear to be an actual Japanese surname, although its on-reading is the same as many others. The individual kanji mean god/divine and snare/net/silk, respectively.

The name Shinra may also be connected to Jenova, one of the major antagonists in Final Fantasy VII. Jenova is indicated to be an extraterrestrial lifeform, composed of strange cells that carry her will and power even when separated. It may be that JENOVA is portmanteau of Jehova and the Latin stem novus or nova meaning new. This explanation may be alluded to by the many times throughout the game in which Sephiroth mention he wishes to become a god, and the theme that plays during one of the final fights Birth of a God. Exactly why this name was chosen and what it might imply are unknown, although "Shin-Ra" could mean capturing a god, or the essence of a god, such as Mako.

It could also mean "Soul (of) Rome" since 神 in Japanese can also mean "soul" or "spirit" (see kami) and 羅 can represent "Rome" thus being a name representation of the game design idea behind Shinra and Gaia.

Company Ethos

Shinra acted as a world government and as such had its own policy on world affairs. The first leader of the company is President Shinra who followed a doctrine of using Shinra's vast reserves of money to maintain control over the world's populace. The means by which the money was deployed is never made clear however the notion is similar to the Bread and Circuses method of Rulers in Ancient Rome which kept the people in-line by providing them with food and entertainment- a costly policy but one which maintained order. President Shinra was murdered by Sephiroth in Shinra Tower and succeeded by his son Rufus Shinra. As President, Rufus felt his father's methods were too exhaustive and decided a change in policy was required. Rufus argued that establishing a climate of fear and using that fear to maintain public loyalty would be far more effective than the Bread and Circuses model of his predecessor. During Diamond WEAPON's attack on Midgar, WEAPON launches a barrage of energy missiles at Shinra HQ, Rufus is engulfed in the explosion and presumed dead by the Company Board. This gap of leadership allowed two directors, Heidegger and Scarlet, to seize control of the Company. Whatever policies Heidegger and Scarlet had in mind for Shinra were never made clear as soon after their coup they were killed by AVALANCHE. Shinra may have appeared finished at this point but for the miraculous survival of Rufus. After his near-death experience Rufus formed a new policy concerning the company's direction- rather than controlling the planet it should help save it.

Management

The Shinra Company is led by a president and board of directors, each with their own portfolio and responsibility for a sector of the company's operations. The highest office in the company is that of the President. The President has total control over company affairs, convenes the board and acts as its chair. Next is the office of the Vice-President, however the duties of this office are never made clear other than acting as a successor in waiting to the President. After Rufus succeeds his father he makes no known appointment to the Vice-Presidential office.

The Department of Public Relations and Public Safety Maintenance was Shinra's largest department and headed by Heidegger. This department controlled Shinra's military and policing service as well as the elite SOLDIER unit. SOLDIER was originally a separate portfolio but was brought into the Public Safety Maintenance Department by Heidegger after the demotion of Lazard, who had previously been the director of SOLDIER. The members of SOLDIER were specially trained, elite fighters divided into Third, Second, and First Class branches. Sephiroth, Zack Fair, Angeal Hewley, and Genesis Rhapsodos were First Class members of SOLDIER before the Nibelheim incident.

The Department of General Affairs was also incorporated with the Department of Public Relations and Public Safety Maintenance by Heidegger after he seized control of the department from Verdot but maintained semi-autonomy through the "Investigation Division of the Department of General Affairs", better known as the Turks. This division formed Shinra's special security force, under the leadership of Tseng who reported to Heidegger. The Turks performed covert operations on behalf of the company, including espionage, kidnappings and assassinations. They also acted as scouts for potential candidates for Shinra's elite military unit, SOLDIER,[17][18] and serve as bodyguards for the Shinra executives. After the demise of the company the Turks remained loyal to Rufus and acted as his bodyguard and carried out Intelligence operations to aid the reconstruction of the company.

Shinra had a large Department of Science and Research, originally under Dr. Gast until he was replaced by Professor Hojo, which dealt with research into the Cetra, Mako energy, bio-chemistry and genetics. The department was also in charge of the Jenova Project which was used to create Sephiroth and the "perfect" SOLDIERs. Mako was one of the two main components in biologically enhancing members of SOLDIER. It was also used in a series of experiments by Professors Gast and Hojo on living people. SOLDIERs are not only infused with Mako, however. They are also injected with Jenova cells. Jenova's cells together with Mako gives them far greater strength and cognitive ability than ordinary humans possess, provided they are mentally strong enough to handle the Mako infusion process without suffering from mako poisoning.[19][20]

The Department of Weapons Development was lead by Scarlet and was tasked with the development and manufacture of new technological advancements to aid Shinra's forces. The department was behind the creation of Shinra's robot guards, the Junon "Sister Ray" Cannon and the plan to use Huge Materia to destroy the meteor.

The Department of Urban Development was in charge of maintaining the cities under Shinra's control- Midgar, Junon and others as well as controlling the Mako Reactor network which spread across Gaia. Reeve Tuesti was the Director of Urban Development and de jure administrator of Midgar- as opposed to the public officials, namely the Mayor of Midgar.

The Department of Space Exploration was created as part of Shinra's aspirations to explore space. However, the department was not fit for its purpose and under the incompetent Palmer's leadership failed to achieve its goal. However the Department was never abolished and played a major role in the attempt to blow up the Meteor.

World Regenesis Organization

The World Regenesis Organization (WRO, known in Japan as the World Restoration Organization) is a fictional group in the Final Fantasy series. Two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII, Reeve Tuesti founded the World Regenesis Organization as shown by the acronym 'WRO' on a road sign in the Advent Children movie. The primary objective of the WRO is to help heal and protect the planet against those who would wish to do it more harm. To help accomplish this, they have formed a large military force. The WRO is financially backed by an unknown benefactor, hinted to be Rufus Shinra hoping to help undo the damage he and his company caused to the planet.

Members of WRO include many military units and scientists, as well as Cait Sith, an animatronic cat designed by Reeve (although usually controlled by Reeve, it seems capable of independent actions and has its own distinct voice and personality); Shalua Rui, a WRO scientist; Yuffie Kisaragi, drafted into the WRO and placed in charge of espionage and intelligence gathering; Cid Highwind, placed in charge of the airship division.

Additionally, several characters from Final Fantasy VII have helped aid the WRO, but it is unsure if they are official members, or simply lending Reeve a hand. These include Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, Barret Wallace (likely aiding in the search for an alternative natural resource in oil), Red XIII, and Rufus Shinra (financially backing the WRO in secret). Though not a member, Vincent Valentine aided the WRO on many occasions as he is targeted by the Deep Ground.

Demography

Ancients are an ancient nomadic people who called themselves the "Cetra." They were the first humans to live on the Planet.[21] Their culture's goal was to seek out the Promised Land and offer respect to the Planet. As such, they cultivated the Planet's life energy and fought and defeated the alien Jenova.[21][22][23][24] Some Ancients abandoned their close relationship with the Planet and became the ancestors of modern day humans.[25] Aerith Gainsborough was the last Ancient, although she was also of Human descent on her father's side. The cetra are now extinct due to the fact that Aerith was killed by Sephiroth while praying for Holy.

History

Some say Midgar was once a collection of several smaller, independent towns. Eventually, the settlements consolidated to form the larger city of Midgar; each town formed one sector and gradually lost its original name.[26] Though this quote may be poorly translated and can be taken to mean the sectors themselves previously had names and not that there were smaller towns prior to Midgar's construction.

At some point in its history, the Shinra Company went to war with the nation of Wutai.[11][12] Shinra manufactured weaponry at this time, and developed a means of mass-producing materia, small spheres that allow one to use magical abilities, as well as an army of elite military units called "SOLDIER."[27] With the development of these two assets, Shinra quickly brought the war — which had lasted several years — to an end.[27][28] In the wake of the war, the public became extremely dependent on the Shinra Company for its materia and the Mako energy they provided for electricity.[27] At one point, Shinra had also developed a space exploration program, but after the war and the realization of just how profitable Mako energy could be, Shinra shifted its focus towards manufacturing it and conducting research upon Mako technologies, cancelling their space program and consolidating their operations.[29]

Midgar eventually became embroiled in what was effectively a civil war against the terrorist AVALANCHE organization. During this time, AVALANCHE succeeded in causing great unrest within the company, and the Turks (Shinra's covert operatives) and Shinra army worked to combat the threat.

Eventually, this original incarnation of AVALANCHE was crushed and its name taken up by a new group that only consisted of a handful of operatives, who, nevertheless, engineered successful bombing missions that temporarily put two mako reactors out of commission. Later, Reno of the Turks destroyed the pillar holding up the section of the upper plate above Sector 7's slums, where AVALANCHE was based. This caused the plate to collapse and crush the slums below. Shinra executives — hoping that all members of AVALANCHE would be killed in the calamity — blamed the incident on AVALANCHE in order to sway public opinion against the insurgents.

President Shinra soon announced to his executives his desire to discover the Promised Land (a legendary place some believed would offer supreme happiness[30]) where there would be a "Neo-Midgar". The president believed this land to be abundant in Mako to such an extent that it would flow out of the ground of its own accord without the need for Mako reactors to siphon it, which would, in turn, increase Shinra's profits exponentially.[31] This desire resulted in a decision by the company not to rebuild Sector 7 after it was destroyed.

Some time later, the Shinra Company moved the Mako Cannon from Junon to Midgar and integrated it with the city's Mako reactor network, increasing its power. Their intent was to use the reactors to power the cannon and fire a beam of pure Mako in the hopes of removing an energy barrier the Planet's nemesis, Sephiroth, had conjured to protect himself. The cannon was able to destroy the rampaging Diamond WEAPON and destroy Sephiroth's barrier around the Northern Crater, but a simultaneous attack by the fallen WEAPON damaged some areas of Midgar, destroying the upper floors of the Shinra headquarters and nearly killing Rufus Shinra. At the same time, AVALANCHE infiltrated the city, killing several of the remaining Shinra executives and disabling the Sister Ray, which threatened to destroy the entire city due to overload incited by Professor Hojo, the head of Shinra's Science Department.

When Sephiroth’s Planet-destroying spell known as "Meteor" descended, it was revealed to be directed at Midgar. Although Reeve Tuesti, Yuffie Kisaragi, Vincent Valentine and the Turks evacuated the populace of the upper plate to the slums, storms spawned by the intense gravity generated between Meteor and the Planet tore apart much of the city itself.[32]

After the destruction of Meteor, the survivors of Midgar used debris from the city to build a new town called "Edge" on the outskirts of Midgar.[33] During the events of Advent Children, the populace suffered greatly from Geostigma, and the city itself suffered a large amount of structural damage when the movie's central villain, Kadaj, summoned Bahamut SIN.

A year later, it was revealed that the Deep Ground — an experimental military project involving SOLDIERs, developed by President Shinra before his death — were housed deep underground in Midgar, and were briefly trapped there by the effects of the Meteor crisis. Midgar once more became a battlefield as the World Restoration Organization (WRO) led by Reeve Tuesti engaged the Deep Ground's army, allowing Vincent Valentine to slip into the city and play a large role in bringing the conflict to an end.

Little is known of Midgar’s history after this game. It is known, however, that five hundred years after the crisis brought by Sephiroth, central Midgar, containing Shinra headquarters and mako reactors, is overgrown as nature reclaimed the once-drained land.

Metaphysics

Lifestream

For the Internet aggregation technique, see lifestreaming.
Waves of energy from the Lifestream

Housed below the Planet's surface, the Lifestream (ライフストリーム Raifusutorīmu?) is considered the lifeblood and very spirit of the Planet. This river of green ethereal energy (called "Spirit Energy") is characterized as a swell of souls of those who have lived and died in the past, a collective consciousness with strong similarities to the Oversoul of transcendentalist philosophy, the Atman-Brahman God concept of Hinduism, or certain Gaia theories. In particular, the Lifestream concept is identical to the Gaia Theory depicted in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, in which living things (plants, animals, and human beings) are given energy by the spirit of the Planet prior to birth, live out their lives, and then die, with the energy then returning to the Planet. During an organism's lifetime, they have experiences from which they gain memories, and once they die, their Spirit Energy returns to the Planet, taking with it the memories of the life form to which it had been attached. These memories in turn give rise to more Spirit Energy, allowing the Planet's spirit as a whole to grow, and the cycle of life to continue.[34][35]

Mako

Whereas Spirit Energy in its raw form is ethereal, Mako is a liquid, taking this form after settling at the surface of the Planet and condensing. The terms Mako Energy (魔晄エネルギー Makō Enerugī?, Magic Light Energy) and "Spirit Energy" are often used interchangeably due to one being a derivative of the other, but in Final Fantasy VII's modern times, the use of the term "Spirit Energy" is widely opposed due to its negative connotation.[36]

Mako as an energy source

Mako is the most common source of electrical power on the planet in the present day of Final Fantasy VII, with the various fossil fuels (oil, coal, etc.) becoming obsolete. The process of generating energy via mako was pioneered — and monopolized — by the Shinra Electric Power Company. Those who research the "Study of Planet Life", a philosophy that regards the Planet as a living entity and seeks to understand it, consider Mako extraction and its usage to be environmentally unfriendly.[36] Despite this, few openly oppose Shinra, as their control over the world is absolute. The only people to have done so were the organized group known as "AVALANCHE", who actively attacked Shinra facilities, specifically Mako reactors, in the hopes of deterring their use.

Mako serves as Shinra's main source of profit, as well as the basis for many of their weapons and inventions. Combined with powerful computer technology, Mako can be used to create powerful and efficient robotic soldiers. This is something the Shinra Company has taken advantage of and has created various types of guard from robotic-Mako technology, such as the Scorpion Guard and Proud-Clod. The Sister Ray Mako cannon stationed in Junon used a variety of Mako shells, and, later — after being moved to Midgar and modified — fired a massive beam of raw Mako energy. In addition to the energy resource and weaponry allocations of Mako, the Shinra Company was also developing Mako-powered vehicles for civilian purposes.

Mako is thought to be similar to radioactive materials in that prolonged exposure can lead to genetic mutation, cognitive disability and even death. Individuals who have had prolonged exposure to Mako are identified by a glow in their eyes, referred to as "Mako eyes". All members of SOLDIER bear this distinguishing feature, and, as such, it is considered to be a "mark of SOLDIER."[37]

Mako poisoning

Exposure to mako in its concentrated form can be dangerous to humans and typically results in a psychological disorder known as Mako poisoning. The cause is a surge of memories flooding one's mind to the extent that they can no longer perceive their own place amongst the knowledge that has entered their brains.[36] Mako poisoning can be averted by minimal exposure to Mako and/or by having strong mental composure during Mako exposure. Symptoms of Mako poisoning, at least in the extreme cases, are diagnosed by the victim's partial or complete inability to speak, hazed vision bathed in green (as seen in Last Order), and limpness in the body with very limited capabilities of movement. It seems those suffering from severe cases are still capable of hearing, though not necessarily able to respond. Treatments have been devised to help those whom suffer from Mako poisoning, but the greater levels of contamination are more difficult and normally impossible to cure. The main character of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud Strife, experienced severe mako poisoning at least twice: the first being 4 years prior to the events of the game when he was an unwilling test subject of Professor Hojo's, and the second time being during the game's storyline when he fell into the Lifestream after being forced to give Sephiroth the Black Materia.

Geostigma is the other disease associated with Mako, although one does not have to come in contact with it to be infected. When Sephiroth and Jenova were defeated deep within the Planet, their destruction released countless Jenova cells into the Lifestream. When the Lifestream came out of the Planet to help Holy stop Meteor, the people of Midgar were in close proximity with the Lifestream. This saw them infected with Sephiroth's tainted cells, and they began to suffer the effects of Geostigma, a syndrome in which the body's spirit energy exerts itself to expunge the foreign Jenova cells, wreaking havoc on the body itself. The souls of those that died from Geostigma formed a new kind of Spirit Energy, bent to Sephiroth's will, which Sephiroth intended to use to seize control of the Planet. He is defeated by Cloud before this plan can be followed through to conclusion. Though Aerith (from the Lifestream) is successful in healing many of those suffering from Geostigma in Edge, the condition leaves a lasting effect into Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII; Deepground has deemed any and all who were afflicted with Geostigma as unworthy to exist in their new world order.

Materia

Materia (マテリア?, from the Latin word for "matter") are small spheres of crystallized spiritual energy used in the magic system of the role-playing game Final Fantasy VII. These spheres allow their users to cast various magic spells and use special abilities. Materia is created from crystallized Mako, either naturally or artificially, although finding a natural source of materia is extremely rare.[36] One such "Mako fountain" exists in the mountains above Nibelheim. Within materia reside the knowledge and memories of those who have lived and died in the past. Materia functions by acting as a conduit between its wielder and the planet's Lifestream, allowing the memories associated with that materia to be manifested in a physical sense, as what is referred to as "magic."[36][38] Materia come in various colors, with the Black and the White Materia being unique items.

The Black Materia is utilized to cast the spell Meteor, the Ultimate Destructive Magic in Final Fantasy VII, capable of destroying an entire planet. Much of the plot in the game revolves around the pursuit of the Black Materia, both by the game's heroes (in order to safeguard it from those who would misuse it) and by the game's villain, Sephiroth (as a vehicle for his plans). The party is able to obtain the materia at the Temple of the Ancients, but main character Cloud Strife is forced to relinquish it to Sephiroth, both there, and a second time later at the Northern Crater, allowing Sephiroth to cast Meteor. Meteor is stopped when Aeris controls Holy and the Lifestream to protect the planet after being impaled and murdered by Sephiroth.

The White Materia casts the spell called Holy which can protect the Planet, and is the antithesis of the Black Materia. Where Meteor is the Ultimate Destructive Magic, Holy is the pinnacle of defensive magic, at least so far as regarding the Planet. It is for this reason that the party seeks out the White Materia during the latter part of the game, though it can only be used by one with an understanding of its purpose and only in the City of the Ancients.[39] Like all materia, the White Materia links its wielder to the Planet, and if their request to the Planet to release Holy is granted, the White Materia will glow pale green as a symbol of this.[39][40] When Aeris Gainsborough is killed by Sephiroth after he impales her , the White Materia falls from her hair and finds its final resting place at the bottom of a lake in the City of the Ancients, where the deceased body of Aeris herself also rests.

The size of materia has changed since its inception in the original game. Materia crystals in Final Fantasy VII were roughly marble-sized (the exception being the Black Materia, which is significantly larger), as can be seen in several characters' weapons in the official artwork. In Advent Children, however, Materia have increased in size to that of tennis balls, slightly smaller than the Black Materia. This could, however, be because materia is supposed to "grow" (as it grows in the game an upon reaching its highest level spawns a first level copy of itself), and the materia in Cloud's possession is supposedly the same materia he possessed from the game (which would logically be a high level). Also, Kadaj uses a green materia to summon Bahamut SIN. Green materia were originally used in the game for offensive and defensive spells such as Fire, Quake, and Cure. Summon materia in the game were denoted by the color red. The materia in Before Crisis is similar in size to that used in the original game.

Materia has also appeared in other Square or Square Enix video games. In the Quest mode of Ehrgeiz, materia are the source of magical abilities. Also, in the game's backstory, the Ehrgeiz sword is said to have a materia set into its hilt. In Final Fantasy Tactics, materia can be found as treasure on proposition missions accepted at various bars in Ivalice. However, the materia is not usable in the game. In addition, the Materia Blade - a sword that can be found at Bervenia Volcano - is the only weapon in the game that allows Cloud - appearing as an optional secret character - to use his Limit Break abilities. In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, materia is the substance produced from materite. There are two pieces of equipment made from materia in this game: the Materia Blade (which teaches Ultima Sword to Gladiators and Ultima Charge to Mog Knights) and Materia Armor (which has one of the highest defensive stats in the game).

WEAPON

In the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, there are eight WEAPON: Jade WEAPON, Sapphire WEAPON,[41] Ultima WEAPON, Diamond WEAPON, Emerald WEAPON, Ruby WEAPON, Omega WEAPON, and Chaos. The WEAPON play a major role in the Final Fantasy VII storyline. According to the game, these entities were created by the Planet as self-defense mechanisms to deal with threats against Gaia. The precise purpose of WEAPON is, in the extreme crisis caused by Jenova, to destroy all that exists on the Planet, to allow the life of all of the organisms that exist on Gaia to return to the Lifestream. Once that was done, Omega WEAPON, whose purpose is evacuation, would absorb the Lifestream within itself and leave Gaia to find another planet, whereupon the Lifestream would be implanted, and life would start over. However, once Jenova was contained by the Cetra, the WEAPON were no longer needed and entered hibernation beneath the ice at the Northern Crater. Thousands of years later, during the game's events when Meteor is summoned by Sephiroth, the other fighting WEAPON are reactivated to fulfill the reason of their existence: protecting the Planet by targeting every potential threat to it (especially the Shinra Company, for their Mako Reactors) and "reducing everything to nothingness".[42] Unfortunately, Sephiroth created the barrier on the Northern Cave to keep the WEAPON from him. The WEAPON were intent to send all souls back to the Lifestream to strengthen it in order to help survive the coming destruction by Meteor, or if that was not possible, to evacuate the Lifestream altogether using Omega.

Only three WEAPON creatures were featured in the original Japanese release of Final Fantasy VII; these were the Sapphire, Diamond, and Ultima WEAPON, although others such as the Emerald and Ruby WEAPON are briefly visible in the cinematic in which the WEAPON are released. The Western release (and the later International release) added the Ruby and Emerald WEAPON as optional battles, as well as a mandatory battle against the Diamond WEAPON. The Sapphire WEAPON is destroyed by Shinra's Sister Ray cannon at Junon after the monster emerges from the ocean and attacks the town. AVALANCHE fights the Diamond WEAPON when it emerges from the ocean near Midgar and threatens the city before it is ultimately finished off, again by Shinra and their Sister Ray (now located at Midgar). AVALANCHE also has one mandatory fight against Ultima WEAPON in Mideel but are unable to destroy it before it flies away. They have the option to chase it down and fight it several times before it is finally brought down near Cosmo Canyon, with the resulting impact crater allowing access on foot to the nearby Ancient Forest. The Emerald and Ruby WEAPONs are both optional battles and pose as the strongest monsters in the game. The Emerald WEAPON resides under the sea, and is ready to attack when the player first acquires the submarine. The battle is made even harder by a 20 minute time limit representing the characters' oxygen capacity. This time limit can be removed by morphing a ghost ship from the underground reactor and giving the acquired item to the Kalm Traveler. The Ruby WEAPON resides in the desert surrounding the Gold Saucer, but only appears in Disc 3.

Jade WEAPON is chronologically the first to be activated, as a result of the events of Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII. Omega WEAPON is awakened three years after the destruction of Meteor; its purpose is to serve as an "ark" for the Planet's life, absorbing all its Lifestream and setting off to space to avoid a huge calamity. Chaos awakens as well in order to harvest Lifestream for Omega to collect and bring to space.

An inactive and unnamed WEAPON can also be seen in the Banora Village Underground in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, though it appears to exist only as an easter egg at this time.[43] It is theorized that this is in fact the Sampi WEAPON, still serving as only an easter egg. This same image can be seen during the battle with Minerva, though this battle does not take place in Banora Underground.

References

  1. ^ Square Enix North America site staff (2001). "Behind The Game The Creators". Square Enix North America. http://www.square-enix-usa.com/games/FFX/btg/creators.html#1. Retrieved April 12, 2006. 
  2. ^ Editors of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, ed (2001). Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine August 2001; issue 47. Ziff Davis Media Inc.. pp. 16. 
  3. ^ a b Choudhury, Rahul (2004). "E3: Final Fantasy VII Advent Children handout scan". SquareHaven.com. http://squarehaven.com/news/2004/05/16/E3-Final-Fantasy-VII-Advent-Children-handout-scan/. Retrieved August 11, 2006. 
  4. ^ a b Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 217. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  5. ^ Yuna: "What are you looking at?" / Shinra: "Farplane data. The more I study it, the more fascinating it gets. There's limitless energy swirling around in there.... The life force that flows through our planet... I think. With a little work, we could probably extract the energy in a usable form...." / Yuna: "Think how much Spira would change if we ever got it to work! Maybe one day we could build a city full of light, one that never sleeps!" (Final Fantasy X-2)
  6. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2003) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 723–724. ISBN 4-88787-021-3. 
  7. ^ Star Champion (2001). "The Final Fantasy Connection - "Different Planet Theories"". Willamette. http://www.willamette.edu/~ejohnson/nojima.htm. Retrieved 13 March 2006. 
  8. ^ Morrow, Glenn (a.k.a. "Squall of SeeD") (2005). "Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Plot Analysis; section entitled Are Spira and Gaia connected?". IGN. http://faqs.ign.com/articles/657/657331p1.html. Retrieved 24 February 2006. 
  9. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2001) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 191. ISBN 4-88787-021-3. 
  10. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 563. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  11. ^ a b Elmyra: "Oh... it must have been 15 years ago... ...during the war. My husband was sent to the front. Some far away place called Wutai."(Final Fantasy VII)
  12. ^ a b Yuffie: "You scared of the Shinra? Then why don't you fall into line and obey them, just like all of the other towns! Those guys are the ones who are really fighting the Shinra!" / Godo: "Shut up! What would you know about this?" / Yuffie: "You get beaten once, and then that's it? What happened to the mighty Wutai I used to know?"(Final Fantasy VII)
  13. ^ Cloud: "This huge Temple? This is the Black Materia!? Then no one could take it." / Aerith: "Hmm, it's pretty hard. You see this is a model of the Temple. And inside it is a device, which gets smaller each time you solve a puzzle. As the model becomes smaller, you become smaller too. Until it's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand." / Cloud: "So, if we solve the puzzles, the Black Materia will get smaller and smaller and we can take it out?" / Aerith: "Yes, but there's one thing... You can only answer puzzles inside the Temple. So, anyone who solves the puzzle will be crushed by the Temple."(Final Fantasy VII)
  14. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square-Enix. pp. 214, 580, 586. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  15. ^ Aerith: "Someday I'll get out of Midgar... Speak with the Planet and find my Promised Land. ...That's what mom said."(Final Fantasy VII)
  16. ^ Elder Hargo: "There is no one place called the Promised Land. That is what I believe. No no, it does exist. Hmmm... You can say that too. In other words, it doesn't exist for us, but it did for the Ancients. The Promised Land is the resting place of the Ancients. The life of the Ancients is one continuous journey. A journey to grow trees and plants, produce animals, and raise Mako energy. Their harsh journeys continued throughout their lives... The place they return to after their long journey... Their burial land is the Promised Land. Huh? Supreme happiness? I believe that, for the Ancients, it was the moment that they were able to return to their planet. At that moment, they were released from their fate, and gained their supreme happiness..."(Final Fantasy VII)
  17. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 58, 217. ISBN 4-75-1520-0. 
  18. ^ Cloud: "The Turks are an organization in Shinra. They scout for possible candidates for SOLDIER."(Final Fantasy VII)
  19. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 217. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  20. ^ Cloud: "You see, someone in SOLDIER isn't simply exposed to Mako energy. Their bodies are actually injected with Jenova cells......"(Final Fantasy VII)
  21. ^ a b Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 59. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  22. ^ Aerith: "All I know is... The Cetra were born from the Planet, speak with the Planet, and unlock the Planet. And....... then...... The Cetra will return to the Promised Land. A land that promises supreme happiness."(Final Fantasy VII)
  23. ^ Sephiroth: "This Planet originally belonged to the Cetra. Cetra was an itinerant race. They would migrate in, settle the Planet, then move on... At the end of their harsh, hard journey, they would find the Promised Land and supreme happiness."(Final Fantasy VII)
  24. ^ Ifalna: "The one the Professor mistook for a Cetra... was named Jenova. That is the 'crisis from the sky'. The Planet knew it had to destroy the 'crisis from the sky'... You see, as long as Jenova exists, the Planet will never be able to fully heal itself." ... / Ifalna: "A small number of the surviving Cetra defeated Jenova, and confined it."(Final Fantasy VII)
  25. ^ Sephiroth: "But, those that disliked the journey appeared. Those who stopped their migrations built shelters and elected to lead an easier life. They took that which the Cetra and the planet had made without giving one whit in return! Those are your ancestors."(Final Fantasy VII)
  26. ^ Jessie: "The 8 Reactors provide Midgar with electricity. Each town used to have a name, but no one in Midgar remembers them. Instead of names, we refer to them by numbered sectors.(Final Fantasy VII)
  27. ^ a b c Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square-Enix. pp. 216. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  28. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square-Enix. pp. 56. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  29. ^ Cid: "And finally we get to the day of the launch. Everything was goin' well... But, because of that dumb-ass Shera, the launch got messed up. That's why they became so anal! And so, Shinra nixed their outer space exploration plans. After they told me how the future was Space Exploration and got my damn hopes up... DAMN THEM TO HELL! Then, it was all over once they found out Mako energy was profitable. They didn't even so much as look at space exploration."(Final Fantasy VII)
  30. ^ Aerith: "All I know is... The Cetra were born from the Planet, speak with the Planet, and unlock the Planet. And....... then...... The Cetra will return to the Promised Land. A land that promises supreme happiness."(Final Fantasy VII)
  31. ^ President Shinra: "It's been said the Promised Land is very fertile. ...If the land is fertile..." / Barret: "Then there's gotta be Mako!" / President Shinra: "Exactly. That is why our money sucking Mako Reactor is a necessity. The abundant Mako will just come out on its own. That is where Neo-Midgar will be built. Shinra's new glory..."(Final Fantasy VII)
  32. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square-Enix. pp. 591. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  33. ^ V-Jump, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Prologue; On the Way to a Smile: Case of Denzel. Shueisha. pp. 4. ISBN 4-08-779339-7. 
  34. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 216–217. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  35. ^ Bugenhagen: "'Spirit Energy' is a word that you should never forget. A new life... children are blessed with Spirit Energy and are brought into the world. Then, the time comes when they die and once again return to the Planet..."(Final Fantasy VII)
  36. ^ a b c d e Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 216. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  37. ^ Aerith: "...Your eyes. They have a strange glow..." / Cloud: "That's the sign of those who have been infused with Mako... A mark of SOLDIER."(Final Fantasy VII)
  38. ^ Sephiroth: "...the knowledge and wisdom of the Ancients is held in the materia. Anyone with this knowledge can freely use the powers of the Land and the Planet. That knowledge interacts between ourselves and the planet calling up magic..... or so they say."(Final Fantasy VII)
  39. ^ a b Studio BentStuff, ed (2005) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. pp. 215. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0. 
  40. ^ Cloud: "Search for Holy... How do we do it?" ... / Bugenhagen: "Get the White Materia... This will bond the Planet to humans. Then speak to the planet. If our wish reaches the planet, the White Materia will begin to glow a pale green."(Final Fantasy VII)
  41. ^ The name Sapphire is not actually mentioned in the game, but it was confirmed by its database entry in the fourth disc of Final Fantasy VII International and then in an official collectible figurine release.
  42. ^ Hojo:...WEAPON. Monsters created by the Planet. It appears when the Planet is in danger, reducing everything to nothingness. That's what was stated in Professor Gast's report.
  43. ^ Studio BentStuff, ed (2007) (in Japanese). Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. Square-Enix. pp. 592. ISBN 978-4-7575-2126-1. 

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