Retro Recollections: Final Fantasy 7 Challenge: Hour 4: Working On The Train Gang

In which Cloud and the gang investigate the wrong side of the tracks for a very long while indeed.

Another week, another hour of Final Fantasy 7. If you’re just joining us, start here with week one, which explains why I’m playing a game I first played two decades ago all the way through, one hour at a time.

My baby takes the morning train

To get to Sector 7, we’ve got to make our way through the train yards. Should be a doddle, right?

Every big city has a ruined trainyard in it, right? Perfectly normal. Nothing at all to worry about.
Every big city has a ruined trainyard in it, right? Perfectly normal. Nothing at all to worry about.

Well, it should be, but sitting down to do this week’s hour, and I’m tired. Very tired. It doesn’t help that the use of polygons against a semi-photographic background makes for a very pretty game, but not one where solutions are obvious.

So we start climbing through the mostly ruined train yards. That’s a lot of wrecked trains for a service that’s still running. Something must have happened. Something big.

A slight digression here, but it’s fully my intent to make my way through the game without using any guides whatsoever. Yes, of course I could use guides to waltz through the game, and I know I run the risk of missing bits here and there, but still, the point of this is to play the game the way I played it 20 years ago. I didn’t use a guide then, and I’m stubborn enough to not use a guide now.

Brutally spam Aeris' limit break to keep the party healthy? Sure. Use guides? Oh hell no.
Brutally spam Aeris’ limit break to keep the party healthy? Sure. Use guides? Oh hell no.

That being said, sometimes being stubborn can lead to frustration, and this is one of those times.

This section is a touch grindy, and while it uses the same switching perspective to make the blocky polygons bits less awkward, it’s problematic. Hard to tell what’s climbable and what isn’t, which means plenty of backtracking and more than a few random battles I probably could have avoided. It’s good levelling, though.

It’s only then that the thought strikes me. I’m yet to die. Not one character at all, and I’m more than three hours into the game. Pretty rare for most of the games I play for me not to have died at least once (possibly stupidly) by that kind of play time. I’m sure big pointy death will be along before too long.

It's more of a... Shelbyville kind of laser.
It’s more of a… Shelbyville kind of laser.

All these random battles are good for my levels, and very good for my bank balance. But it’s definitely the most grindy hour of play by far, as I try to work out how to get through the rail graveyard. I work out (or remember) that I can hit select to get icons for interactive elements, including where to enter and exit screens.

However — and it’s a big problem — the solution to my woes involves moving two trains. Guess what doesn’t have any kind of icon to indicate it’s an interactive element rather than just a pretty bit of backdrop?

This took too long to work out. Correction. This took FAR TOO LONG to work out. I must be getting old.
This took too long to work out.
Correction. This took FAR TOO LONG to work out. I must be getting old.

If you didn’t guess “those two trains”, you’re really not paying attention. So what follows is 50-odd minutes of running around trying everything, and launching into a lot of random battles while I do so.

I quite literally stumble upon the solution and rush out to find that the plate hasn’t yet dropped, and that Barret is somewhere up there, fighting for sector 7.

Out-standing work, everyone! (direct all complaints about the low quality of the jokes to Cloud.)
Out-standing work, everyone!
(direct all complaints about the low quality of the jokes to Cloud.)

So naturally, the thing to do is drop Aeris and head up there with Tifa. Because it’s not like I’ve just used the party healer a whole lot over the last hour or anything.

Sheesh. Cloud’s an idiot sometimes. When can Tifa take over?

Anyway, while it’s somewhat embarrassing, because I should have been able to do this bit in around ten minutes, my entire play hour was essentially eaten up getting through the train yards, grinding enemies every few steps. By far, this has been the least exciting hour of play so far.


No, not this kind of Exciting Hour

Still, things are looking up. Quite literally, because it’s time to take the battle upwards.

Next time: Eat everything that’s on your plate.

Leave a Reply