A giant energy manufacturing company known as Shinra Inc. is harvesting the sheer life energy of the Planet as a simple fossil fuel. Processed and made into products known as Mako and Materia, these materials can work miracles, granting the wisdom of the Ancients to the user. However, this substance, like all other fuels, is finite in supply, and the Planet's lifeforce is being malevolently drained by the constant exploitation of Mako by Shinra. Though aware of the harmful effects, they function without remorse.
However, the real battle lies not with a corporation, but a force much more competent from the distant past. A long-thought dead warrior bent on becoming more and more powerful, coupled with the Planet's drained energy, threatens the very existence of everything sacred.
A young flower seller walks slowly on her way through the city of Midgard, while on the other side of the city a train arrives to its destination. Five people jump out of the train and assault the guards on the station’s platform. Four of them are part of the revolutionary group called Avalanche, who are led by Barrett, but aiding them in this mission is also a mercenary named Cloud. Their intention is to blow up the North Mako Reactor. The company named Shinra is using up all of the world’s Mako energy, draining away all of the planet’s life, and the revolutionists’ aim is to stop that from happening. Cloud, who was once a member of Shinra’s special forces named SOLDIER, just wants to get it over with and move on. At the reactor core, Cloud starts hearing some voices within his head, but he still places the bomb successfully and manages to defeat the guard robot and escape before detonation.
The group split as they try to escape from Shinra’s soldiers, and eventually make it to the train that takes them back to Sector 7 near to where their hideout is. The group’s meetings are held in the basement of Tifa’s bar where a young girl named Marlene is expecting them. Tifa pleads Cloud to join their group, telling him that when he was younger he had promised to protect her from harm, and eventually he plays along claiming that it is just for the money. It is then agreed that the group’s next target is the Sector 5 reactor. At the reactor core, Cloud has another flashback, this time of when Tifa’s father was killed by a man named Sephiroth.
On their way out of the reactor, the group run into a trap. President Shinra himself makes an appearance before unleashing the Airbuster robot against them. They manage to beat the robot guard, but in the ensuing explosion, Cloud falls way down to the slums below. Luckily he lands on a bed of flowers, carefully tended by the same flower girl that he had met in his previous escape. Her name is Aeris, and Cloud soon finds out that she is being followed by a special Shinra branch known as the Turks. He agrees to protect her from them until he gets her home, but Aeris later insists that she wants to accompany him. He tries to slip away from her home, only to find her waiting for him outside.
Aeris and Cloud stop at a playground whilst traveling to Sector 7. There Cloud notices Tifa being carried hurriedly on a carriage, all dressed-up nicely. They follow her to Wall Market, and find out that she has been taken to Don Corneo’s mansion. In order to get inside, Cloud has to dress up as a young attractive lady too, instead of busting in like he always does. Once inside, they manage to find Tifa in the basement, who reveals that she is trying to get some information about the Don related to their incident in Sector 5. Soon after they are summoned by Don, and he chooses Tifa to sleep with him for the night. Later as he prepares to pounce on her, the other two ‘ladies’ break into the bedroom and manage to get a confession out of him. He tells them that he was ordered by Shinra to find Barrett’s house, and that now Shinra are going to break down the pillars of the Sector 7 plate to bring it crushing down onto the slums, thus crushing Avalanche once and for all! He then throws them into the sewers, but they rush out to their home before it is too late.
Related savepoint: Memory card 1, File 1
Upon their return, they find Barrett trying to fend off Shinra’s attack. Tifa asks Aeris to take Marlene somewhere safe, and then she goes up the pillar with Cloud. They are confronted by Reno, one of the Turks, who manages to set up the bomb anyway. The Sector 7 plate comes crushing down onto the slums, and to top it all off Aeris gets captured. The three survivors go to the house where Aeris lives with her foster mother, when they find out that Aeris is an Ancient, a special race of people descendants of the Cetra. At this point Cloud decides to confront the Shinra right at their headquarters.
Cloud, Barrett and Tifa start climbing up the corporate building, fighting their way up. They also start putting together a picture of President Shinra’s plans, and it just gets creepier with every floor up. They find out that Shinra is planning to harness the power of the ancients for their devious ends, and have brought Aeris here to perform their experiments on her. Somehow, a man named Sephiroth, the Ancients, the Promised Land, Professor Hojo, and his Jenova experiment are all connected together. A talking lion named Red XIII is also part of the experiment, and he is freed along with Aeris as Barrett bursts into the room. The lion decides to tag along, but now the highest priority for the re-joined team is to escape in one piece. They end up getting caught by the Turks however.
As Cloud tries to find a way on how to escape from his prison cell, the door holding him in opens automatically. The guards are lying on the floor unconscious. The floor is smeared with blood all the way to the lift, and in the floor above President Shinra lies dead on his desk with Sephiroth’s sword in his back. Shinra’s son Rufus is quick to claim himself as the new president, so Cloud decides to fight him. Rufus escapes with the helicopter, and after a heated chase out of the building and onto the streets outside, the ragtag team of freedom fighters are free to go too. They agree to split up into two groups and meet up at Kalm.
Related savepoint: Memory card 1, File 2
When the rebels re-group again, it’s time for Cloud to start explaining his past with Sephiroth. He tells the others how he once admired the mysterious warrior, how they were sent on a mission together, but also how one day in Midgard they went to visit the Mako reactor in Nibelheim and their friendship started taking a turn for the worse. On this fateful day, Sephiroth found out that he was just another one of Shinra’s experiments, a genetic experiment with Jenova who was itself a 2000 year old slumbering organism that was confirmed to be an Ancient. After locking himself inside mansion Shinra’s library to find out more about his past, Sephiroth reads himself crazy until one day he comes out looking for revenge. He now believes that the planet’s people had sacrificed the Cetra to save themselves from disaster, and that it is now his duty to make them pay for it, starting with burning the town of Nibelheim to the ground, killing Tifa’s father at the reactor site and running off with his new-found mother Jenova to take her to the Promised Land.
Related savepoint: Memory card 1, File 3
Cloud manages to capture a chocobo, which he rides on to cross the swamp and head into the mountain pass. Here he and his mates are confronted by Rude, Elena and Tseng of the Turks who reveal that they are going after Sephiroth in Junon Harbor. Junon was once a nice seaside village, but after Shinra built it into a city, the whole lot got polluted. Cloud manages to infiltrate the Shinra-owned town by putting on a soldier’s uniform and together with his group hitches a ride on board of the President’s ship to cross the ocean towards the western continent. Incidentally, Sephiroth is also a stowaway on the same boat and triggers the alarm system. Cloud and his group confront Sephiroth, and although he uses Jenova to attack them, they manage to defend themselves and the boat.
Related savepoint: Memory card 1, File 4 and File 5
The ship takes them to Costa del Sol, a seaside vacation resort. Here the team take a quick break from fighting, but soon after they are on the tracks of Sephiroth once again, which takes them over the mountain pass and into the town of Corel. Here, Barret faces his past as the locals still remember the day when Shinra destroyed their town due to a young rebel who wanted to stop their wrongdoing. From here they get onto the ropeway towards Gold Saucer (an entertainment city which floats in the sky), where they meet its owner Dio who likes nothing better than showing off his strength in the battle arena. Here they also meet a fortune-telling puppet named Cait Sith, who just shows up and joins the team.
Memory card 1, File 6
The following morning, Cloud wakes up to see that a massacre has taken place in the arena, and that they are being blamed for it. Dio decides to drop them into the prison below Gold Saucer, which is surrounded by quick sand and is thus impossible to get out from. Unless you get picked as a chocobo racer and win your freedom! Barret finds out that his old friend Dyne is also down here, and he recalls the story of when Shinra attacked their village and how he and Dyne both lost one of their arms to have it later replaced by a gun. However they end up fighting a duel after Barret reveals that Dyne’s daughter Marlene is alive in Midgar. It is then that Dyne gives up hope to carry on, tells Barret to deliver his pendant to Marlene, and commits suicide.
Cloud gets a chance to participate in the next chocobo race, and a girl named Ester gets to be his manager. She fills him in on how to race a chocobo and sends him to win the race, whereupon he gains his liberty and that of his friends once again. In return, Dio also gives them an all-terrain buggy and a message saying that Sephiroth is headed towards Gongaga, a town that has suffered from the explosion of a nearby Mako reactor. At this point the team start getting suspicious that there is a spy amongst them working for Shinra, because the Turks seem to always know what their next move will be. In Gongaga they meet the parents of a guy named Zack, who was also in SOLDIER, so they ask Cloud if he knows him. Cloud doesn’t, but he is surprised that Tifa and Aeris do.
The buggy breaks up when driving near Cosmo Canyon, so the team decide to stop there. There are a number of cave-dwelling villagers living in Cosmo Canyon, which also happens to be the birthplace of Red XIII. He is known by the locals as Nanaki, and confides to his companions that he is proud of his mother but hates his father who had left her to die. The study of planet life is conducted here, led by the all-knowing Bugenhagen from the top of his observatory. This old man tells them that all living creatures join the lifestream of the planet when they die, and that the planet itself is about to die due to the Mako reactors sucking up the lifestream dry. However, he now wants Cloud and another companion to join him and Nanaki to navigate their way through the underground caverns below Cosmo Canyon. There he shows the young lion how his father had defended his tribe against attack and so was truly a great hero.
Memory card 1, File 7
Back in the buggy, the team head out to Nibelheim, where Cloud and Tifa see that their town is not burned down as they remember it, much to their surprise. The villagers in the town act like nothing ever happened. The travelers also encounter some strange black-caped people in town, talking about a reunion with Sephiroth. The trail leads to Shinra’s mansion, more specifically the library in its basement, and Cloud, Barret and Tifa go to investigate. They come face to face with Sephiroth once again, who starts babbling about Jenova and how it descended from the skies. He also tells them that he is going to Mt. Nibel for the reunion and leaves. In the mansion Cloud also meets a spooky man named Vincent, who he finds sleeping in a coffin. Vincent seems to know everything about Sephiroth and Jenova, not least that Sephiroth was born from a woman named Lucrecia. After considering Cloud’s connection with Sephiroth, he decides to join his party. Soon after, a young girl named Yuffie also joins Cloud’s group.
Memory card 1, File 8
Traveling north, our heroes end up in a place where the main attraction is a rusty old leaning space rocket which can be seen from miles away. Captain Cid is the person that used to be responsible for the rocket, which was a failed space exploration attempt by Shinra many years before. Cid explains that it was because of his assistant Shera that the rocket launch failed. However, he thinks that Rufus is going to restart the space exploration program because the new president is going to visit him soon. He soon finds out though that Rufus is here to borrow Cid’s plane, called the Tiny Bronco in order to chase Sephiroth. Cloud overhears the conversation however, so he steals the Bronco, picks up Cid during take-off and flies away. Rufus’ men open fire on them, and the plane falls in the ocean. The plane is not good to fly anymore, but it can be used as a raft to cross the ocean in search of Sephiroth.
Memory card 1, File 9
As Cloud and the others approach the village of Wutai, Barret notices that all his materia has been stolen, and Yuffie is the suspect. They go after her in the village, which has old traditions and is where Yuffie was born. They manage to corner her and force her to take them to the materia, but then she leads them into a trap. Strangest of all is that it is Corneo that saves the prisoners, as he wants to capture both Yuffie and the Turks’ Elena for himself. The Turks and our heroes have no other choice than to join forces in order to save the girls and get rid of Corneo once and for all.
The team next stops at Bone Village, where they hear that Sephiroth was looking for the Temple of The Ancients. To enter the temple, a keystone is required. Some time later they find out that Dio possesses the stone. Dio promises Cloud that he can take the stone on one condition, that Dio watches Cloud fight in the Battle Arena inside Gold Saucer. Cloud ends up taking part in a play too, and has a romantic ride on the gondola with Aeris, but at least he gets the keystone. Until Caith Sith steals it and gives it to the Turks that is. He admits to being a puppet, remote-controlled by a Shinra employee, and he also holds Marlene as hostage so they must abide by his rules and keep him in their party.
Memory card 1, File 10
The next morning, Cloud sets out to the Temple of The Ancients with all the team. They find the Turks are already there, but they have been ambushed by Sephiroth once inside the temple. Lying on the floor, Tseng gives the key to Cloud, who puts it on the altar to end up with Aeris and Caith Sith in a surreal world populated by weird monsters. They manage to find a radiating pool. As Aeris touches its waters she is filled with the knowledge of the Ancients and so knows what she needs to do to save the planet. They proceed further to catch up with Sephiroth, who reveals his plan to become one with the planet. He intends to cause a major injury to the planet by calling forth a meteor with the black materia. This will cause the earth to release massive energy in order to heal itself, whereby Sephiroth will attempt to harness this energy for himself and so become a god. After he leaves them, Aeris says that she knows that the black materia is the temple itself.
Memory card 1, File 11
The puzzles inside the temple must be solved in order to make the temple so tiny that it can be carried away, but in so doing he who solves the puzzles will be crushed inside. At this point Caith Sith offers to stay back and solve the puzzles as he is just a puppet anyway, while the others can get out. As the temple disappears Cloud picks up the black materia, but Sephiroth was waiting outside, and he just has to control Cloud’s mind and force him to bring the black materia to Sephiroth. Cloud is angry because his mind and memories are all messed up and starts having a nightmare. When he wakes up Aeris is gone, but Caith Sith number 2 shows up. At first Cloud is afraid to go on because he thinks that he is going crazy, but then he decides to lead the others after Aeris and Sephiroth through the Sleeping Forest and on to the Promised Land.
Cloud manages to find Aeris, but as he approaches her Sephiroth takes control of him again. Cloud takes out his sword and is about to swipe it at Aeris before Barret and Tifa stop him. Seeing this, Sephiroth drops down from above and stabs Aeris with his sword. Aeris drops motioneless on the floor at once as her friends look on incredulously. After Sephiroth flees, Cloud buries her in a nearby pool so she can rest with the other Cetra. Now the time to confront and stop Sephiroth has come. Cloud and his companions follow him to the snowy caps of the northern mountains.
Memory card 1, File 12
With the Turks on their trails, Cloud borrows a snowboard to get ahead of Shinra. Below the peak of Gaea cliffs, a man named Holzoff tells him and his companions how they can conquer the glacier without losing their lives. He does not mention any of the monsters that they would encounter on their ascent though. When they arrive at the very top they actually see that they are standing on the borders of a crater, and witness the planet healing itself from this wound that it fell victim to a long time ago. As they go deeper into the crater, Cloud’s party encounter more black-caped strangers shambling forth for the reunion. They manage to catch up on Sephiroth, but he just disappears into thin air before attacking them from behind whilst showing what the mutating powers of Jenova can do. Cloud manages to get the black materia after defeating the huge abomination.
Memory card 1, File 13
Soon after Cloud, Barret and Tifa end up in an illusionary Nibelheim as Sephiroth delves into their past to expose the real truth. It was a guy named Zack and not Cloud who as a SOLDIER accompanied Sephiroth on his mission to the Mako reactor on top of Mt. Nibel five years earlier. To prove his point, Sephiroth shows them a photo of this occasion. According to Sephiroth, Cloud was really one of Hojo’s experiments put together from Jenova’s cells. He did not have any past so Zack’s past adventures were given to him instead out of Tifa’s recollected memories. Cloud was deemed such a failure by Hojo that he was not even tattooed with an experiment number just as Nanaki had.
Meanwhile, Rufus lands his airship, the Highwind, inside the crater as well. He is accompanied by Hojo, who is amazed to see that Weapon, a monster created by the planet to defend itself, is actually a real story. At this point Hojo also reveals that Cloud is a clone of Sephiroth, although he is not happy that only a failed experiment has made it this far. Sephiroth starts playing with everyone’s mind by creating more illusions in order to obtain the black materia again. He has the ability to manipulate Cloud due to their connection. Cloud hands Sephiroth the black materia, who immediately starts to summon meteor, Rufus and the rest of Cloud’s friends evacuate on top of the Highwind while Weapon is unleashed upon the planet. And Cloud ends up in the lifestream.
It is seven days later that Tifa wakes up for the first time after the incident. Barret tells her that a spherical barrier appeared on top of the crater to protect Sephiroth and that Weapon is on a destructive rampage around the planet with Rufus attempting to stop it. And naturally there is a big pile of galactic rock looming closer in the planet’s orbit. In order to ease the public restlessness, Rufus announces that the people responsible for this situation have been caught and that their execution will be broadcast on television for everyone to watch. Tifa is the one who goes first inside the gas chamber, but she is saved by Caith Sith who takes advantage of the general distress that occurs when Weapon approaches the bay of Junon. Rufus orders his men to open fire from Junon’s big cannon in order to bring down Weapon. All of Shinra’s firepower is ineffective against Weapon though, who speeds even faster to crash into Junon’s fortress walls. The cannon is reloaded just in time to fire another salvo at Weapon from point blank. Weapon is wounded and scared and so it runs away. A fresh breach in the walls of the gas chamber permits Tifa to get out. Scarlet, who is Rufus’ assistant, tries to stop her, but Tifa safely jumps on the Highwind which has now been hijacked by Avalanche and commanded by Cid after the crew’s mutiny.
Memory card 1, File 14
Tifa is worried that she will never see Cloud again, but Red XIII gives her hope and tells her that they are bound to find him one day. The Highwind stops near a small, quiet town named Medeel. To Tifa’s surprise, she overhears the locals talking about a pointy-haired boy with blue eyes and a large sword who had washed up on a nearby beach and is now being treated at the local clinic. She rushes to meet him, but unfortunately he just stares blankly at her and does not react to her presence due to the effect of Mako poisoning. Tifa decides to stay by his side whilst the others go on to save the planet.
As the remaining members of Cloud’s party are trying to decide what to do next, Caith Sith starts spying upon Shinra now and reveals that they plan to destroy meteor but need to collect huge materia from Corel and Fort Condor. Barret decides that it is time to stop them and orders the airship towards the Corel reactor. They arrive a bit late since Shinra’s troops have already got the huge materia and are transporting it back on the coal train. However Cid manages to get another train cart and catches up with them. Barret and Yuffie join him to fight the soldiers, but they do not have enough time to stop the train from crashing into North Corel. The huge materia is in their hands though, so it is another victory for Avalanche. They also defend Fort Condor from the Shinra and in turn obtain the Phoenix materia.
The last huge materia to be gathered is stored in the Junon underwater reactor, but there is enough time to go to Mideel again to see how Cloud and Tifa are doing. Just then Weapon attacks the peaceful town, but the trio fight the monster until it flies away. There is another problem though, as the town is destroyed by the swelling lifestream. Tifa now falls in the green liquid with Cloud while she was trying to push him to safety. Fortunately, she also gets into Cloud’s mind, and by working together through his memories of Nibelheim Cloud manages to see his past clearly. They remembered when they met for the first time, their secret meeting at the well, the day that Tifa’s mother died, when Tifa was hurt after she slipped on the mountain, and that Cloud was only a standard soldier that had accompanied Sephiroth and Zack on their mission to the reactor five years earlier. Cloud also remembered how he had been stabbed by Sephiroth but still managed to overcome him and save Tifa from dying in the reactor.
Memory card 1, File 15
When Cloud and Tifa come back to their senses, they see that all of their friends had gathered around them, anxiously waiting for a sign of life. Back on the Highwind, Cloud makes his comeback speech and prepares his companions for their coming trip to Junon. They are just in time to watch the huge materia being transported away from the underwater reactor via a submarine. Reno tries to stop them there by sending a huge robot to attack, but after Cid finishes the robot off they hitch a ride on another submarine and go to Junon airport after the huge materia. Alas the cargo plane has just left. The destination is Rocket town, and Rufus is going to use Cid’s rocket to blast the meteor with the huge materia.
Memory card 2, File 1
In Cid’s town, Cloud and his friends are confronted by Rude who tries to stop them unsuccessfully from climbing into the cockpit. Once at the top, Cid goes all sentimental when he sees that his rocket is about to be launched. Cloud tries to make Cid comprehend that the materia inside the rocket is more important than space exploration, but the rocket is on auto-pilot and suddenly blasts off. After that Cid confirms that the rocket is headed toward the meteor, he remembers that it is equipped with an escape pod. Cloud goes to retrieve the huge materia, but on their way out one of the pressure tank explodes. Cid is trapped under the debris but Shera comes to save him and leads everyone to safety. As they glide down towards the earth, the rocket smashes into the meteor. Although there is a huge explosion, the meteor is still mostly intact.
It’s time to go back to Cosmo Canyon and get some advice from Bugenhagen, who decides to join them on a trip to the promised land where Aeris was killed. There Bugenhagen learns that to save the planet they must search for the ultimate healing power, named Holy. Cloud is sent to find the key of the ancients below the ocean, which Bugenhagen then uses to uncover the truth about the white materia and how Aeris had sacrificed her life whilst praying for Holy.
Memory card 2, File 2
With his previous idea thwarted, Rufus now plans to blast Sephiroth with his huge cannon. Since he does not have any huge materia left, he orders the cannon to be transported to Midgar, where it can be powered by the Mako reactors within the city. Weapon resurfaces again and Cloud tries to stop him before the monster reaches Midgar and destroys the city. Rufus has enough time to order the cannon fired. The high-powered beam goes trough Weapon and straight to the northern crater to destroy the protective barrier. Weapon has also fired a retaliatory barrage though, which goes straight to Midgar much to the chagrin of its inhabitants. Some time after, an airship chase after Weapon ensues, ending with the monster defeated by Cloud and his companions.
Memory card 2, File 3
At this point, the Highwind’s passengers find out that a person named Reeve is the guy behind Caith Sith. With the barrier gone, Hojo takes the opportunity to fire another salvo from the cannon. He takes control of the cannon computer and prepares to strike. Reeve is not able to stop him, and calls his partners to come and lend a helping hand. Since the roads into Midgar are closed, they resolve that the only way to get in is by parachute. Although it is an arduous road up to the top of the cannon, with a fight against Heidegger and Scarlet’s secret military robot along the way, Hojo still has not fired the cannon when Cloud and two of his party catch up with him. Hojo reveals that what he wants to do is to use the cannon to send a high dose of Mako energy to Sephiroth. And by the way, he also says that Sephiroth is actually his son, the same son that he injected with Jenova’s cells when it was a fetus in the name of science.
Memory card 2, File 4
Hojo has also injected Jenova’s cells into his own body, and is what he resorts to when he mutates into a monster in order to confront Cloud’s companions. They manage to defeat him and stop the cannon to bring the end of Shinra. Now they need to stop meteor before the seven days remaining until impact. Back on the Highwind, Cloud stands cooly in front of the other passengers and makes a speech of how they will save the planet. He sends everyone to meet their loved ones and asks them to find a reason to stop Sephiroth before he brings the end of the world.
Tifa and Cloud spend some tearful time together before everyone returns back. As soon as everyone joins the crew, the Highwind flies straight to the North Cave. They land the airship at the top of the crater and continue down on foot. The way down is littered with the hardest of monsters. Cloud splits his forces into three groups, each one taking a different path towards Sephiroth. Right at the center of the planet is where one of the groups come face to face with Jenova.
After a fight with Jenova, which packs quite a punch despite its age, everyone falls further down inside the earth. Sephiroth is here too, and he is quite capable to control each of his opponents and stop them from moving. Cloud’s hopes are piqued however when he sees Holy shining behind Sephiroth and gathers enough strength to attack. Sephiroth’s cells also permit him to morph into a hideous monster and fight back, but he still has a weak spot.
Memory card 2, File 9
Seeing his first attempt fail, Sephiroth now shape shifts again into the ultimate summoner, sending pestilence and wave after wave of comets towards his opponents. His opponents stand defiantly against all odds, and hit him back with all of their power and most importantly with teamwork. In the end Sephiroth’s cells start breaking down, and he just dissolves into thin air. Cloud’s mind starts playing tricks again as he hears Sephiroth laughing at him from the ether.
Somewhere, in a void place inside the crater, Cloud and Sephiroth face each other in one final fight. Sephiroth is unable to move as Cloud cuts him down repeatedly with his sword. Sephiroth’s incredulous, bloodied face is the prelude to his final implosion. With the planet’s greatest menace defeated, the lifestream starts engulfing Cloud. Tifa pulls him up and together they go to meet their friends on the Highwind.
The power of Holy is unleashed from the very middle of the crater, with the Highwind almost blown off by the blast. Meteor, which is already causing massive tornadoes on top of Midgar, is hit by Holy. The lifestream starts seeping from the earth, engulfing the meteor and neutralizing its threat.
500 years later and Nanaki is a survivor who has watched the planet healing. He now shows his own cubs what a great place to live in this revitalized world is.