Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion first impressions (sorta, also heavy spoilers)

Upon this, my second total play-through since playing the original back in 2020, the WEAPON motifs in Genesis’s design during the final boss fight stood out more. It lends potential relevance to the theory that the summon monsters are a kind of emanation that expresses itself throughout all of the FF worlds.

That’s close to the definition of the word used for summon monsters in FFIX & XIII: eidolons (also my favorite name for them since it’s possibly the most descriptive). In FFX, summon monsters are called aeons, a word with ties to Gnosticism which describes an emanation of a spiritual being in a separate, physical plane. Like an eidolon, an aeon is one thing with multiple representations in different places.

In particular, there were two design choices deriving from a WEAPON and an eidolon: Ultima and Bahamut. The bladed halos positioned above the wings is a reoccurring trait of Bahamut in Final Fantasy. The Flare attacks and beam sword attacks are another similarity…to say nothing of Genesis summoning Bahamut repeatedly through the game.

Still less overwhelming than Golbez in the Dwarven castle in the FFIV remake for the DS

Ultima Weapon, in FFVIII and FFXIV has a mouth (or even a face) on their belly, where their human torso emerges from a quadroped body type, like a centaur. FFVII has a little of both. FFVII’s version of Ultima has a round aperture in their chest where beam attacks come from. Similar to Omega in FFX. In the original FFVII, Sephiroth’s first form in his boss fight (Bizarro Sephiroth) has the centaur “transition mouth” between the torso and the equine trunk. Bizarro Sephiroth’s resemblance to Ultima implies something about Genesis’s own Ultima/Bahamut transformation.

Might be a bit of a reach, but the materia in the hilt of the sword reminds me of Ultima’s beam aperture in the original FFVII. Also note how the lower body merges into the rocks

The definition of eidolon is something that appears elswhere as a simultaneous embodiment of something that is elsewhere, or something that represents something else. If you keep having bad dreams about something (let’s say dreams that scare you) over and over again, that something meets the definition of a scary eidolon. Or if you want to be pretentious about it, an eidolon of fear, or whatever it’s subjective relevance is for you, separate from the literal truth of the thing itself.

Each Final Fantasy game is set in it’s own world but with repeating patterns in each of them. The eidolon summon monsters are some of the few things that remain mostly constant. Since the semi-Greek Weapon names (Omega, Ultima…) and the monsters with the gemstone names (Sapphire, Ruby, Diamond, Emerald, etc) also re-occur…those also appear to exist in the same category as the summon monster eidolons.

So. Remember how the main change to the plot in FFVIIRemake was introducing divergent timelines influencing each other?

In the Final Fantasy universe, the difference between one world and another may be comparable to the difference to one timeline and another. Fan theories fly thick and heavy over that possibility. Since both FFVIIR and FFXV include diverging timelines, those theories now appear to be on to something.

Especially considering the appearance of the three clone avatars that Genesis summons during the final boss fight:

The correspondence isn’t one-to-one, but I think there is a distinct resemblance between these clone avatars and the three Whispers summoned by the Whisper Harbinger in FFVIIR. A developer interview in FFVIIR’s Ultimania guide briefly touches on the possibility that the three minions of the Whisper Harbinger are Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo from Advent Children. I wrote another big long post about the possible consequences of that (link below).

But even without getting into all of my thoughts on that…the Advent Children connection also complicates the possible reasons behind Genesis’ boss transformation.

Does this seem like a weird thing to hyperfocus on? Sorry, can’t help it. Square’s been saying things to the press about Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion now serving a complimentary function within the developing “remake trilogy.” As a prequel, the original Crisis Core had numerous references to the original FFVII. If Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion now represents the prequel to the first remake game, those original reference points take on new meaning.

Is it bad that I wonder what these plays and musicals are actually like?

When the release of this game was first announced, Square used the words ‘more than just a remaster’ in a few different advertisements. At the same time, there is virtually no change in the overall content. Obviously, there’s the graphical upgrade and the streamlined combat system. The DMW slot-machine display no longer takes up the whole screen and pauses combat but rather is constantly going in a smaller section of your HUD. Personally, this made the role of the DMW less apparent this time around. In the original, the full-screen DMW made it easier to notice when, say, there was a number combination that levels up your materia.

At the same time, the quieter DMW in Reunion could reinforce it’s function by fading closer to the background.

A clever dimension to the DMW is how it deconstructs a lot of typical RPG mechanics. It even clarifies a basic effort-to-reward metric at work in most video games. In RPGs, it’s most recognizable in grinding.

To clarify: grinding is repetitively wandering around trying to accumulate the rewards of combat. In Pokemon, you’re doing it when you’re searching one section of tall grass for a particular Pokemon. In most RPGs, grinding is getting in random battle after random battle to hoard experience points. Usually when you’ve hit a difficult place where you just want to brute force your way through because no strategy seems to be working. The whole principle is based on an effort-to-reward system. If you spend twelve hours grinding, you will necessarily do at least some character-building.

The DMW mechanic streamlines this by making the rewards for combat almost perfectly proportionate to the amount of time you spent fighting. The DMW slot combinations happen at regular intervals and the slot combinations are how you level up or grow your materia. An easy battle ends quickly, which means little to no opportunity for the DMW to level up Zack or his materia. A longer (and presumably harder) battle means more time for the DMW to churn out a reward other than a limit break.

As cool as the upgrades to the combat system and the graphics are, though…everything else is the same. Every story beat is the same. Does that mean there are no story changes?

Arguably. It is definitely true that there are no story threads in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion that are not present in the PSP original. I am still slow to believe that means there is literally nothing to see.

(Except when Cloud and Sephiroth stab each other in the Nibelheim reactor: at the entrance and exit wounds, there is dark gray vapor, like when Sephiroth skewered Barret in FFVIIR and the Whispers brought him back to life. Obviously we never see a Whisper in this game. Maybe it’s a random detail nobody thought about. But it definitely looks like the dark gray vapor in FFVIIR)

Especially since the first PSP version was released closely to the Advent Children film. Advent Children was released in 2005 and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII originally came out in 2007. After finishing this last play-though, though…I wonder about the connections from back then that I failed to notice because I saw that movie and played that game at very different times.

Big’ol spoilers incoming

I wonder if the helicopter landing outside of Banora happened the same way in both the original and in Reunion. I only played through the PSP version once but I don’t recall any differences from what I just saw in Reunion. I wonder, though. Because what I just saw was kind of shocking.

If there was a difference…the fandom would probably be discussing it right now. If they are, I haven’t noticed yet.

Soo…if the helicopter landing outside of Banora is the same in both versions…then this now ties directly into Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo.

What happens, exactly?

Helicopter lands. Two figures emerge, scoop up Genesis’ unconscious body and leave. One of them says that he will “(b)ecome our brother” and muses about whether or not Genesis will accept this fate willingly.

If that happened in the original…I feel like I would have remembered. But maybe I didn’t. Maybe I ignored it because I chalked it up to a future story wrinkle which might not have manifested. I still haven’t played Dirge of Cerberus, and various online sources agree that this scene relates directly to that game.

Excluding things like an abandoned story line (like the cancelled FFXV DLC) or a connection to a game I haven’t played…it seriously looks like they’re insinuating that Genesis becomes one of the three Advent Children villains. Meaning that Genesis might be Kadaj, Loz or Yazoo. And all that entails. In that event, they probably wiped Genesis’ prior identity and replaced it with one-third of Sephrioth’s mind.

We never see the faces of the two figures from the helicopter. We see that they are wearing SOLDIER uniforms and that they have slightly longer white hair. Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo all have white hair, which I had long assumed was because they were Sephiroth clones summoned for the Reunion at the Northern Crater. Sephiroth killed as many as he could to lend the power of their souls to Jenova’s manifestation. But if he sent out a generalized psychic beacon, summoning every carrier of Jenova cells to the Northern Crater…he would have to make damn sure that he killed them all. Cloud and co. had better hope so, since- if even one was left alive -then that’s a body that Sephiroth or Jenova could transmigrate into. So if Sephiroth “cast a wide net” with his psychic broadcast, there’s always the possibility that one or two cell carriers fell through the cracks.

I always assumed that Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo were one of those unaccounted-for Sephiroth clones. Each one embodies a different quality of Sephiroth and all of them have small, superficial resemblances to him. All three have white hair. At the end of Advent Children, Sephiroth appears to “emerge” from Kadaj the same way that the will of Sephiroth or Jenova could manifest within any cell carrier. Kadaj only transforms into Sephiroth once Yazoo and Loz appear to be killed by the Turks, which even adds a bit of the Reunion metaphysics. When Loz and Yazoo show up again later, they could just as easily be channeling their souls into some other Sephiroth clones that never made it to the Northern Crater.

If there were that many clones, there’s no reason why Yazoo, Loz, Kadaj, Sephiroth and Jenova couldn’t just keep popping up like a whack-a-mole game.

That I took such a scenario for granted leads to one reason why I avoided the original Crisis Core for so long. If each culture of Jenova cells binds to a specific carrier who received them while they were in the womb (like Genesis, Angeal or Sephiroth) then…the plot fort the original FFVII would depend on every Angeal clone and every Genesis clone being dead. Other wise, the psychic dominance over the cell carriers wouldn’t be limited to just Jenova and Sephiroth.

Perhaps Sephiroth’s soul could be uniquely empowered since his original body is held by Jenova within the Northern Crater, which is exposed to a Lifestream vein that runs to the center of the planet. Basically, Jenova and Sephiroth are empowered by being immersed in the transmigration nexus for all souls on that planet. That could explain why that pair is so exceptionally represented. For that reason, the clone problem is not world-breaking. But it is still a loose thread.

To return to the relevance of the helicopter scene to the “remake” continuity, though: If Genesis was somehow “absorbed” into the body of a Sephiroth clone, later to become one of the three Advent Children villains…how does that impact the timeline dynamics?

If we trust the Ultimania text, then one of the three Whispers summoned by the Harbinger, Rubrum, represents Kadaj. If, hypothetically, Genesis was later “turned into” Kadaj, that means that the Rubrum Whisper also represents Genesis. It would mean that Genesis is present in the timeline manipulation at work in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Maybe I’m only freaking out over the helicopter scene because I forgot about it and was blindsided. Maybe it’s only a tie-in with Dirge of Cerberus and nothing more. Only included in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion because it was in the original and the devs wanted to be faithful. As I type this, I realize this is almost certainly true.

But this new version is, somehow, supposed to a prequel to Final Fantasy VII Remake. The big deviation in FFVIIR are the Whispers pushing over from the timeline next door. The invasion from the neighboring timeline doesn’t rise to the foreground until the very end, with the Whisper Harbinger, the three lesser Whispers (Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo) and Sephiroth.

If Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo were embodied in the three Whisper minions, then little details that resemble that moment in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion become more interesting. Like the clone avatars that Genesis uses during the final boss fight and their resemblance to the Whisper minions. A small, visual reference to the FFVIIR Whispers becomes harder to miss in conjunction with the helicopter scene.

I’m not saying that this is what it means, but to me it looked like the Genesis clones in the boss fight were a visual reference to the fate of the three clone brothers (Yazoo, Loz, Kadaj) immediately before the clone brothers come together by transforming Genesis. It has an ending-to-beginning symmetry to it.

If Genesis goes on to become a clone brother, then that means that Genesis was always present in Advent Children, was involved in the FFVIIR final boss fight and might even be in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the next game in the remake continuity. This would be a hell of a way to create a unique prequel-to-main-story relationship with the remake continuity.

Then again, the story of Crisis Core is fundamentally intertwined with the story of the original FFVII anyway. They don’t have to add extra lore to the PS5 edition for that. It’s possible that Square is saying that Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion takes place in the remake continuity just to drum up hype for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

But if Reunion has a specific relationship with the remake games…then it makes sense to re-evaluate the references to FFVII in light of the new continuity. Like how Sephiroth’s function in the original FFVII plot was reflected in both Angeal and Genesis.

All three of them were infused with Jenova cells in the womb. This began with placing them in the body of a woman named Gillian. Angeal receives his dose from Gillian’s body after she was impregnated with him. Separately, Professor Gast took a DNA sample from Gillian and surgically mapped it onto Genesis while he was a fetus. Angeal can use his Jenova cells as a two-way conduit. He can send and receive both information and genetic traits.

Angeal carriers include different species of animals along with different humans. Lazard and Hollander are latter-day Angeal carriers. Before Angeal attacks, he summons several monsters with his cells to combine into. This resembles the Jenova Reunion from the original FFVII without death being necessary to distribute lifeforce between the collective (even if being physically absorbed is as good as death). Genesis can send and not receive.

Sephiroth, who was gestating in his mother’s womb already when she was infused with Jenova cells, can do neither. But Sephiroth’s cells can heal the eventual degradation in both Angeal and Genesis carriers.

After the Nibelheim event, Hojo circumvented Sephiroth’s mind-cell limitation by surgically adding them to both Zack and Cloud. Sephiroth himself is missing, so Zack and Cloud become targeted by the Genesis clones since their bodies are housing the only cultures of Jenova cells in accessible, living bodies. After the fight with Genesis at the end of the game, Zack, Lazard and Cloud all eat Banoran apples together. Ones that look like the apple that Genesis is always carrying around and gesturing with like frigging Hamlet with Yorik’s skull.

I mean I know the reference is probably meant to be Biblical but he’s just so hammy with it

The apples have other meanings in the lore. Genesis’ family used to farm them. But the cell decay of Lazard and the mako poisoning in Cloud seem to get better after they all eat the apples. We also know that Genesis carriers can send but can’t receive and Sephiroth carriers can heal but can’t telepathically interact outside of their bodies at all.

Angeal carriers, meanwhile, can send and receive. Lazard is present with the cells of Angeal. Presumably, he has a two-way conduit with all other Angeal carriers. If the apples carried by Genesis are basically a cell culture prepared for consumption, which would open a presumably one-way conduit with Genesis…the apples shared by the three could enable the two-way exchange to happen with Genesis carriers. All three eat them, including one with the two-way conduit. This unlocks the two-way conduit between Zack, Cloud and Lazard.

Cloud and Zack, meanwhile, are Sephiroth carriers. Meaning they can heal, and they have just received the two-way conduit from Lazard through the apples. So the healing trait circulates between the three of them. This would also explain how Sephiroth carriers can both send and receive in the original FFVII. In the original FFVII, carriers of Sephiroth’s cell culture can even telepathically induce hallucinations in each other’s minds.

Can you believe, just a few paragrpahs ago…I said that I avoided the original Crisis Core because I was afraid it would needlessly complicate the plot of the overall story? Obviously I had no clue what the future held X_X

I know it’s a lot of circular-sounding jargin. But I wouldn’t have cared enough to pay attention if I wasn’t actually hooked by it.

Also, if the cell-exchange between the Genesis, Angeal and Sephiroth carriers enabled the totally uninhibited psychic and biological colony organism that exists in FFVII…that would be kind of cool. Maybe that explanation was intended in the original Crisis Core. But if we’re getting some completely insane curve-ball with Genesis being the former identity of one of the clone brothers…then the subplot about the Sephiroth, Genesis and Angeal cell carriers united through the cell doses in the apples becomes much more important.

(I also don’t see how we wouldn’t end up exploring the potential link between Cloud’s memory issues and the suppression of Genesis’ identity to make him a Sephiroth carrier. If Cloud’s mental problems enabled Jenova to subvert his sense of self then it makes sense to wonder if something similar happened with the destruction and recreation of Genesis’ personality)

In the original FFVII, the Weapons (Diamond, Ultima, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire) are guardian totems that the planet summons when threatened. If the vitality of a planet in this cosmology is manifested in the Lifestream, then that means the life of a planet comes from its transmigration nexus. If the planet has a will, it’s an emergent will from every soul on its way to its next life.

When characters like Aerith use phrases like “the cries of the planet” or the “the voice of the planet”, they are talking about a kind of collective subconscious shared by all sentient life on a given planet.

This would make the Weapons magically incarnate archetypes. Another word for an archetype is an eidolon.

Sometimes, when Jenova cell carriers are forced to change shape by Sephiroth or Jenova or whatever dominant personality, they might express traits of eidolons. Mythic beings that exist in a collective subconscious. This pattern had already been established in the original FFVII, what with Bizarro Sephiroth’s Ultima-ish shape with two faces (the upper, dominant head representing Jenova and the face closer to the four-legged body representing Sephiroth).

The Ultima association in particular seems meaningful since Cloud’s best weapon in the original game is made from part of Ultima’s dead body. There was a guide published back in the nineties that riffed on that: “Cloud’s ultimate weapon, the Ultima Weapon, is obtained after defeating the Ultima Weapon.”

As goofy as the naming scheme is, even that is echoed in Crisis Core, with the Buster sword playing a role in the arcs of Angeal, Zack and Cloud.

I was wondering what this one would look like on a modern console
Also: all the locations we’ll probably get to see again in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth!

My post on the FFVIIR lore theory:

https://ailixchaerea.blog/2020/07/04/final-fantasy-vii-remake-lore-theory/

My first ever Crisis Core play-through:

Just finished Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII for the first time (spoilers as usual)