Final Fantasy VII/Walkthrough/Desert Prison, Chocobo race, and a visit to Gongaga
The Desert Prison edit
The desert prison is a rough place, but mostly because there's enemies that either try to steal stuff from you or explode on your face. You start here with whoever you picked to be with you in Gold Saucer, and Cait Sith.
Head to the larger area below. A lot of people here seem to suggest that you can get back up if you win a Chocobo Race. Also, this Boss person seems to be in charge. You meet Mr. Coates in the bottom of the area, but it turns out he's just an underling. There's a savepoint here, as well as a bar on the bottom right corner where you can buy some supplies.
Barret, whom you misplaced temporarily, is in the bigger house on right side. Barret kills an eavesdropper behind a couch and then the rest of the folk come to hear about Barret and Dyne's story. In the end, you need to pick one character besides Barret to your group.
Head up. You can either wander around in the desert like a loon, where you can fight the sandworm (or is it the land worm?) enemy in the desert, but there isn't much point (you can get much better experience and AP elsewhere later on), and there is nothing you can really do here, so just follow the story.
When you reach an area with lots of broken down cars, walk around them a few times until you get into a battle with Death Claw. You can learn the enemy skill Laser from him. This is the only point in the game where you can learn it until disc 3, so use this opportunity while you have it. Now that you have the Manipulate materia, it should be a piece of cake. Just manipulate the Death Claw and have him cast it on whoever has enemy skill equipped. Also, you can learn Matra Magic (if you haven't already) from Death Machine in the general Corel Prison area.
At this point, you should equip Barret pretty well, because the Boss person - yep, Dyne, whom you heard about just a moment ago - is here. He seems to be quite bitter and wants to kill Barret. Barret will fight Dyne alone.
|Lv: 23, HP: 1200, MP: 20, Weaknesses: -, Strong against: Gravity, Absorbs: -
|If you, like me, haven't used Barret much since Midgar, you probably have him on a pretty low level (~18-20) when you meet Dyne. In this case, a good strategy is attack and heal in turns. On higer levels, you may be attack for two turns and then heal - but in any case, you need a lot of healing, because Dyne has some pretty nasty attacks. I usually don't even need to use normal attacks, because in this fight Barret's limit bar tends to shine red hot every other turn anyway, even without Fury status! Aside of physical attacks, summons work well. Apparently, Flame Thrower enemy skill and Fire2 are good against him, and I seem to get pretty good results with Ifrit as well.
There is also the cheap to way to win, but it takes a bit of work before combat. You will need Barret's second 3rd level limit break, Angermax, and to build it up, just run around in the previous screen until you encounter the Death Claw enemy, which can be manipulated to use Laser on Barret. When Barret's limit bar is full, simply run away or kill off the enemies through non-Angermax means, and then enter battle with Dyne. Angermax delivers an one-turn kill under most circumstances, but make sure that Barret can survive at least one attack from Dyne.
Then Dyne throws Barret a piece of jewelry and then, sadly enough, jumps off the cliff to his death.
Chocobo race edit
Now, Coates seem to be more eager to sign you up for a chocobo race, and a woman called Ester shows up and becomes your manager.
Ester gets you to the jockey room by elevator and explains how to control the chocobos. In the jockey room, there's Ramuh materia which you definitely should pick up.
- Todo: PC equivalent?
As for the actual race, you may want to refer to the Chocobo section. A simple hint would be to hold down L1+L2+R1+R2 buttons, which makes chocobo racing a bit easier. Actually, there's very few things that can be messed up here; If you lose, you get to try again, and again, and again...
Once you win, Dio sends you a letter of congratulations, gives you a "buggy" that is your first "vehicle" in this "game", and hints that Sephiroth went to Gongaga.
Now that you have the "buggy" and the Manipulate materia, you can start learning some good enemy skills. Start by getting Aqualung from the Harpy monster. Harpy can be found by driving around in the desert area around the Gold Saucer. Just manipulate Harpy and make it cast Aqualung on your party to learn. Next, drive around the beach close to Gongaga until you run into the Beach Plugs to learn Big Guard. This is one of the most useful enemy skills in the game!
At this point, it's theoretically (and practically, if you're patient) possible to drive back to Costa del Sol, take a ship back to Junon, and then find a green-and-white bird called Zemzelett from the Junon area. You can Manipulate it to learn White Wind enemy skill, which is very useful. It's a long journey though, and it's not strictly necessary (I've finished the game twice without it...), you may want to wait until later for this.
After getting White Wind, you can head back inside Mythril Mine to get Flame Thrower from the Arkdragon if you missed it the first time or if you need it for your second Enemy Skill materia.
|Defeating Midgar Zolom Early in the Game
|Move those with the enemy skill materia equipped to the back row. Before going into battle, give a traquilizer to all party members. When in battle, cast Big Guard on your party. Then have those who are in the back cast strong spells or summons. Midgar Zolom will cast Beta on your party when he is near death. Recast Big Guard if you need and keep fighting him.
Then, you can battle Midgar Zolom and learn Beta, if you're really daring. He's still a very tough monster at this stage in the game, but Beta is a great skill to have as it causes heavy fire damage to all opponents. Make sure you have Big Guard before going into this battle (see the insert to the right for details).
To continue the game, head back to Gongaga--the big blown-up mako reactor to south, in middle of the woods. When you get in Gongaga, you hear Reno and Rude talking about... the ladies? Elena shows up, alerts the others, and there we go again - fighting Reno and Rude!
|Reno and Rude
|Lv: 22/23, HP: 2000, MP: 230/135, Weaknesses: -, Strong against: Gravity, Absorbs: -
|Individually, the two Turks are not much of a worry, because if you manage to kill the other, the other will flee soon after. Just remember to heal at times, some of the attacks like Turk Light are fairly nasty. Focus your attacks on Rude, since he has the ability to heal himself and Reno. Ramuh summon is pretty useful.
After the fight, head up to the reactor. When you get close, Scarlet and Tseng will show up in a helicopter, look into the reactor, babble something about Huge Materias, and leave. If you're guessing "Shin-Ra must be up to something", you're correct. Now, look into the hole where Scarlet looked into, and reach for the thing in the bottom to get the Titan materia. Two new summons in such a short while!
Now head down and follow the path to left - you should find a Deathblow command materia somewhere here too. Now to north, to the Gongaga Village.
People here will sell you stuff you've not seen before (for example, Mystify and Time materias, which are probably useful at some phase, and a Fury Ring), and talk about an explosion years ago. You also run into a few old people who want to know about some SOLDIER called Zack. Tifa and Aeris, if either or both of them are in your party, will react to this for some reason. Hmm... something is obviously afoot... Go to the Inn in the far left corner where you can find a chest containing an X-Potion. In the Mayor's home in the far right corner, you can get a White M-Phone, which is a weapon for Cait Sith.
After you've stocked up and all that, it's time to head down and left, to the world map, and head west. Where else would Sephiroth have gone?
|On to...Cosmo Canyon and Red XIII's family matters