Definitions

Final_Fantasy_VII

Gaia (Final Fantasy VII)

Gaia 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. The world of Final Fantasy VII, retroactively named "Gaia" but referred to in the game as "The Planet", is composed of three land masses. The eastern continent features the city of Midgar, an industrial metropolis that serves as the headquarters of the Shinra Electric Power Company, a ruthless mega corporation 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. 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. 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.

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.

In Final Fantasy X-2, a member of the Gullwings named "Shinra" proposes the concept of extracting the life energy from within the planet Spira. 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. 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.

Geography

Gaia's land area is comprised 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 the church where Aerith and later two children tend to flowers. 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 as at that moment it was dark in Midgar but clearly in 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 colonised by nesting condors and the mercenary fighters who protect them. The other reactor is located on the sea bed beaneath 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 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, led the city in a struggle for dominance against Shinra but lost. 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, located in China.

The northern continent contains the excavation site at Bone Village and beyond that the mysterious Sleeping Forest. In Advent Children, Cloud is ambushed there by Kadaj's group. Past the forest is the Forgotten City, the capital of the Cetra civilization, exhibiting such unusual structures as homes made from giant helical shells. 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. 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.

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 it's 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

Shinra Electric Power Company

The , or simply the , was a powerful mega-corporation. Originally a small weapons development company, Shinra grew into a multi-conglomerate and de facto world government when it became responsible for developing mako. It now operates on a much smaller level but is still very important to world events.

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". The "Ra" is also often used to represent Rome. Exactly why this name was chosen and what it might imply are unknown, although it could mean capturing a god, or the essence of a god, such as Mako.

The first leader of Shinra is President Shinra who used Shinra's vast reserves of money to maintain control, but after being murdered by Sephiroth, he is succeeded by his son Rufus Shinra, who had served as vice-president until that time. As President, Rufus was even more ruthless, preferring to rule through fear rather than money. Later, Rufus was engulfed in an explosion at the Shinra headquarters and presumed dead. This development allowed Head of Public Relations Heidegger and Head of Weapons Development Scarlet to take advantage, though it led to their demise. But as AVALANCHE learned later, Rufus survived his ordeal with a reborn outlook on life and intends to rebuild Shinra to help the Planet.

The "Department of Public Safety Maintenance" is Shinra's own military, led by Heidegger. It consisted of units of various ranks, as well as advanced robotics and hover technology, and is charged with maintaining order and policing the city of Midgar, Junon, and other towns. The SOLDIER department was originally a separate branch until it was merged with the Department of Public Safety Maintenance by Heidegger, after he was granted control over the unit from Lazard. Its members were specially trained and elite fighters selected for use during the Wutai War. The unit was divided into Third, Second, and First Class of ascending skills. Sephiroth, Zack Fair, Angeal Hewley, and Genesis Rhapsodos were First Class members of SOLDIER before the Nibelheim incident.

The "Department of General Affairs Department" also seemed to have been incorporated with the Department of Public Safety Maintenance by Heidegger after he seized control of the department from Verdot. However, the "Investigation Division of the Department of General Affairs", better known as the Turks, remains as Shinra's special security force, under Tseng. They 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, and serve as bodyguards for the Shinra executives.

Shinra had a large "Department of Science and Research", originally under Dr. Hollander 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.

The "Department of Weapons Development's" job, under Scarlet, is to create and manufacture 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" is under Reeve Tuesti. In the past, 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.

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 Deepground.

Demography

Ancients are an ancient nomadic people who called themselves the "Cetra." They were the first humans to live on the Planet. 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. Some Ancients abandoned their close relationship with the Planet and became the ancestors of modern day humans. Aerith Gainsborough was the last Ancient, although she was also of Human descent on her father's side.

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. 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. 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." With the development of these two assets, Shinra quickly brought the war — which had lasted several years — to an end. 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. 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.

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. One such danger that was faced was when Midgar came under threat of being destroyed in its entirety by their own Sister Ray cannon stationed at Junon, which the organization had temporarily seized .

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) 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. 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.

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. 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, Midgar is overgrown as nature reclaimed the once-drained land.

Metaphysics

Lifestream

Housed below the Planet's surface, the 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.

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 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.

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. 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."

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. 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 the levels of contamination are more difficult and normally impossible to cure. The main character of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud Strife, experienced 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 persists into Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, though whether it remains fatal is unknown.

Materia

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. 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." 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.

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. 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. When Aerith Gainsborough is killed by Sephiroth, 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 remains of Aerith herself also rest.

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 suppose 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, Ultimate (or "Ultima") WEAPON, Diamond WEAPON, Emerald WEAPON, Ruby WEAPON, Omega WEAPON, and Chaos. Unlike many games in the series, 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 the threat of Jenova. 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". 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 Ultimate 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 emerged from the ocean and attacked the town. AVALANCHE fought the Diamond WEAPON when it emerges from the ocean near Midgar and threatens the city before it is ultimately finished off, again by the Shinra and their Sister Ray (now located at Midgar). AVALANCHE also had one mandatory fight against Ultimate 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 (significantly stronger than the final Sephiroth bosses). The Emerald WEAPON resides under the sea, and is ready to attack when you first get the submarine. The battle is made even harder by a 20 minute time limit due to a lack of oxygen for the characters. This time limit can be removed to even out the playing field of the fight if your morph a ghost ship from the underground reactor and give the aquired item to the Kalm Traveler. The Ruby Weapon (possibly the hardest of all bosses) 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. The final WEAPON, 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. It is theorized that this is in fact the Emerald 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.

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