The ending to FFVIIR is rather controversial to say the least:
Adding elements that don't fit FFVII and turning it into a Kingdumb Farts clone... Not all the bad changes can be fixed... like Wall Market, but in all fairness, Wall Market isn't as story breaking as the others.
Well, most of those bad choices by Square Enix can be easily retconned. Let's start by saying: Cloud has had a mild case of Mako poisoning ever since the First Reactor. That covers the early Sephiroth visions. The rest can be chalked up to Hojo's amoral experiments. Even in the Original, the numbered experiments have been running amok. So, Hojo could have been pumping the Slums with the JENOVA hallucinogen in an attempt to see if the Reunion theory was real. Not far-fetched for Hojo seeing his Sephiroth experiment and that the Real Hojo wanted to impregnate Aeris with RedXIII, the old fashioned way. The game gave us a perfect breaking point to fix this: when Cloud faints in front of JENOVA. Everything else afterwards was Cloud hallucinating.
The Whispers are slightly harder to fix, but doable. They are messengers of the Planet trying to warn the Cetra Half-breed about JENOVA. The problems would be that Aerith is not a full-blood Cetra and received no training on her Cetra abilities. Add to that the JENOVA based Hallucinogenic substances pumped into the slums, which make the Whispers react violently. This, of course scares the crap out of Aerith. Cloud becomes a target due to his Mako poisoning AND having JENOVA cells in his body. The Mako overexposure and being in contqct with Aerith make the Spirits visible to the people closest to Cloud. (Or people who have been in constant contact with Cloud recently.)
Before anyone asks: What about alternate timeline Zack? Remember that Cloud AND Zack were bombarded with Extra Mako AND JENOVA cells at the mansion. Zack's body Rejected the JENOVA, but Cloud had a strong Case of Mako poisoning at the time.
Yes, I'm aware that waving it away with "it was all a dream/hallucination" is a cheap, lazy, unimaginative trope. Sadly, it's the only PLAUSIBLE way to fix this mess that Nomura and Nojima created.
This would require using the start of the second game to fix the previous game. Namely the intro cinematic. Start the cinematic with Cloud fainting, Barret and Tifa carry him over to the elevator where they are ambushed by the TURKS. They are taken prisoner and escape after Cloud recovers. We fix the President Shinra death. No one sees Sephiroth killing Shinra.We get the Crazy Motorcycle chase and we start the game at Kalm. Of course the intro conematic would show an abridged version of the events... Think of it like a small recap. Maybe even showing pieces of "Cloud's version" with the vision tint to emphasize that the last 2 chapters were delusions.
And I'm giving Nomura and Nojima a way out for bad choices in game two by establishing Cloud as an unreliable narrator. By using the bad changes as visions, on game 3 we can call the "badly received events" hallucinations by Cloud. I know it's a cheap trick, I acknowledge it is a lazy fix, but it's the only way we can salvage FFVIIR saga in a way that it doesn't contradict the original that much.
Gameplaywise, I have said that up to the Cargo Ship events would be doable for Game 2. Seeing that the "Expanded Midgar" was a load of Bullshit, we COULD Reach Gold Saucer. In the Original MOST of Junon is not available to explore. We should keep it that way on game 2. Maybe some backstreets can be accessed to avoid going under the Sister Ray.
But here's how I would set this up: Party arrives at Kalm, Cloud explains to the party the Nibelheim incident. This would be told mostly via cutscenes in order to streamline the flashback. Maybe using the Nibelheim village square as a small hub for each cutscene. Like say: go to the Hotel tbe first time, you get the Zangan cutscene. Go to the Hoyel a second time, you progress the story with the Sephiroth cutscene about him not having a mother. Go to Cloud's house and you get his mom's cutscene. Go to Tifa's house, which Tifa will question and you get the Piano cutscene. Go in a second time and you get a Cloud cutscene of him reading her diary kept in her underwear drawer. (Moderm Square would be afraid of Cloud stealing a Tifa bra.) You can't access thr Shin-Ra mansion until conditions are met. Once the flashback session ends, you do a cpuple of missions in Kalm to boost your rep as a Merc.
With your rep built up, a Relative of Chocobo Sam needs an escort to reach the Chocobo Farm, because there is a dangerous monster prowling the route (Devil Ride). You aid "Chocobo Greg" in another version of the Crazy Motorcycle Chase and beat the Devil Ride. Once thar monster is defeated, Roche Returns and challenges you to another "race". Beat him and he disappears. At the Chocobo Farm, Chocobo Greg takes the available Chocobos back to Midgar for Sam. Now without Chocobos, you must either do odd jobs for the Chocobo Farm family, or venture into the Midgar swamp. Fully aiding the Chocobo family allows you to catch and use a wild Chocobo. Doing from 50-75% of the tasks nets you a vial of Abzu urine, which serves as a Midgar Zolom Repellent. Not 100% effective. Less than 50% of the tasks nets you nothing and the risks of fighting the Zolom increase.
Also, the Zolom will fiunction as a WEAPON type "extra boss" near the end of the game... The Zolom attacking the party early on is a juvenile. Thw near endgame extra boss is an adult Zolom, like the one "Sephiroth" killed.
You get to the Mythrill caverns, have an encounter with the TURKS. Once you beat the caverns, you get capturwd by the Fort Condor Resistance., since they bwlieve you're Shin-Ra members. Once you defend Ft. Condor, a member of the Resistance offers to drive you to Junon. Couple of hours in vehicle beats the couple of days walking.
Once you reach the lower Junon, the boss battle happens like in the original game, but once again we must build our reputation in order to reach the upper City. We can expand the lower in this area by having Cloud do the parade and the rest of the party is sneaking into the upper City.
The Cargo Ship would be slightly expanded... hell this would be a great spot to add Yuffie as a character. Wutai rouge ninja attempting to assassinate President (Rufus) Shinra, but at the same time we have the JENOVA murder mystery hour. JENOVA's officially revealed where she should be.
We reach Costa del Sol for some downtime... or we could turn it into a Wall Market 2.0... Now we force the entire party into doing odd jobs to get swimsuits for Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, and Yuffie in order to infiltrate The Professor's Harem and get info on Sephiroth. Plot twist: Hojo recognized all of you and simply played along for shits and giggles. He would explain it to you after the fact.
I know it's a massive deviation from the original. If I'm honest, it's just an excuse for Fan-service and to make Cloud more uncomfortable (and essentially stating that he HATES dressing up like a woman). Also, we'd have to collect 12 swimsuits (3 Bikinis for Tifa, 3 One-piece swimsuits for Aerith, 3 swumsuits for Yuffie. A combo of one and two piece suits, and lastly 3 surfer styled swimsuits for Cloud)
Now we head to Mini-Game city, Gold Saucer. We get the classic Bike game, the Mog Game could be modernized into a rhythm game... think a bastard child of the neo squat game. Darts can make a comeback, any new mini game added to this should have a Gold Saucer version. For fun once you beat the game and unlock Chapter select, retro versions of the Sub and Snowboard (lliterally the exact ps1 versions) should be available.
The Battle Arena should operate normally. Same for the Speed square. If you beat a certain Special Battle, Dio awards you a Battle Arena Championship Trophy. (Important for the next game)
You get sent to the prison and go through the whole Dyne sequence. You go up, beat the Chocobo race and Cloud faints due to a Sephiroth vision. (It's a Numbered Black cloak) Dio has been Kidnapped and taken to the Mako Reactor at Corel. It's up to the team to rescue him.
You get a Sephiroth fight that has very little difference between outcomes.
If you win, Sephiroth will remark that Cloud should stop resisting him. If you lose, Sephiroth will comment about your weakness and your inability to save your friends if Sephiroth wanted to kill them.
At the end of the battle, a scripted scene where Sephiroth kicks your ass and escapes dropping a hint of Nibelheim being his destination will be the push for the next game.
Dio hands Cloud the keys to the All Terrain Buggy with no mention of the Rescue mission. They depart towards Nibelheim when an erratic bike appears to taunt you.
Roche wants another duel, so Cloud faces Roche atop the buggy as Roche alternates from attacking from his bike and jumping to rhe buggy. Once he gets enough, he leaves, but he had managed to do some damage to the buggy.
Whoa... that was a long one. I tried to keep each area as a small disconnected Hub world in order to ensure the viability of them. I used both crazy motorcycle chases to create the illusion of distance. The cargo ship chapter is another way to create the illusion of distance but that's from the original game so I cannot take credit for that. Having trucks coming and going from each settlement is based from the original (Cloud and Zack scene in the original) but I used it as a way to eliminate the world map.
I said that Yuffie is a rogue Ninja in order to add actual Wutai Ninja that want to bring her home. This also helps expand the Wutai Midgar war angle. The other reason for Cloud in drag part 2 is to bring in Mukki, who was cut out from the Midgar section. (Look at me, I'm an Arbiter of Fate)
I know I made fun of the Sephiroth padding in part 1 and I use it here as well. I know it looks hypocritical but I did leave enough references to make it "ambiguous"... with a nice it was a Cloud hallucination Escape clause.
I'm thinking that the party should get some random semi boss encounters with the numbered Black cloaks.
And to be honest, I can see Team No-No cutring a lot of what I mentioned Just to reach Rocket towm, maybe Wutai, or even further.
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