Just In
for Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core: Redux

12/13/2021 c33 5Mirria1
This chapter made me want to cry
3/11/2020 c1 21Draconic
I’d ask for a copy, but damn, this needs an editor. It has potential, but the flaws far outweigh the positive aspects. Please try not to be offended. But this will not be a positive review, and when I leave scathing reviews, it’s generally because I saw something with potential going to waste. This story does have potential, but as it is now, that’s all it has.

I do realize that you wrote this four years ago and that you may have improved since then, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go easy on you. After all, if you’ve improved, you could have at least fixed some of the worst problems. And you set my expectations kind of high with your jacket-cover blurb.

I’m all for taking creative liberties with certain characters when it’s done well, but what seems to be happening here is… not that.

I’ll give you points for opening with a strong hook, but things started going downhill right from that first sentence. Naming a guy Lazarus is just… wow, just drop a sign on his head saying “my chances of surviving until the end of this story are comparable to a snowball surviving a Californian summer.’ Also, if he’s actually Lazard, why bother changing his name? There are no Christians on Gaia. This is an established fact. If he isn’t Lazard, well, you picked a name almost identical to another character’s, which can hurt the narrative.

Sorry, but with it’s not just that there are spelling errors. Incorrectly or poorly used/meaningless terminology:

Please explain what a Millennial is. Not as yourself, but as a Shinra infantryman, or as a resident of the Sector 3 slums, or any other inhabitant of Gaia circa 199X. If the term didn’t even exist on Earth back then, why would it exist on Gaia? There’s a reason it’s used as an insult, and considering the subjects of said insult would be between, let’s say last trimester and six years old, I doubt anyone would have come up with it.

Why is Angeal’s contingent named after Sephiroth’s fanclub of hysterical female admirers?

Why doesn’t Zack recognize Sephiroth? This man has been on the frontlines and being glorified since he was twelve. It’s an extremely important aspect of his character at this stage in his life.

The most damning issue however is that you memed in what was definitely supposed to be a serious scene. ‘Unlocking an achievement’ was bad enough, but my god, the Konami Code? The freaking Konami Code?! Is there anyone old enough to be interested in FF7 who wouldn’t get the reference? Or was that the reason you used it? Whatever your reason, it was a bad one. You need an editor, and not just a beta, but someone who’ll put on your breaks when you’re running at full throttle without paying attention to what you’re doing.
8/5/2018 c1 4Katalin Kat Royal
This you want a review so bad that you have brib people for them. Learn how to write stories as many people have told you as I seen in you’re reviews this story isn’t as good as you seem to think it is. Get of your high horse and figure out how to write a good story before you bribe people to review your story because you can’t get reviews on you own evidently.
3/6/2018 c1 117Tatrin
Damn it looks GOOD. I just pity the fact I know next to nothing about the fandom to truly appreciate it!
(Yessss, Aladdin-fan! It's so depressing to see more than 70% are fans of any other character but the lead character!)
12/20/2017 c1 Ted
Utter garbage.
11/16/2017 c14 21chickenscrews
On the one hand, I love the idea of Zack being so out of it, so messed up by grief that he just mindlessly answers to “Angeal,” like it’s some subconscious effort to bring himself closer to the friend he lost, but it only heaps one more tragedy onto the pile.

On several other hands...

1) Angeal, a very famous hero, was publicly declared dead well over a year ago.

2) Somebody thought this lanky teenager was a full-grown man in his forties just because they dress the same.

3) This lanky teenager is also a very famous hero and isn’t likely to be confused for any other very famous SOLDIER.

4) This chapter takes place a considerable time after “Costa del Sol,” as evidenced by Zack’s significantly improved emotional health, so it’s very strange for him to do something as mental as pretend to be Angeal.

5) Shinra really should’ve tracked down Angeal’s family immediately after the Banora incident to save them from the apparent mother-killing madman.

6) Ten chapters of the Hewley family being shoved under the rug and this is all the resolution we get?

Like I said, I love this idea of Zack learning right out of nowhere that one more piece of Angeal died when he was finally on the road to recovery. It just needed more appropriate context.

Curiously, it wasn’t until after I posted last chapter’s review that I realized what a giant improvement it was to the canon Costa del Sol. Sure, almost all of your changes are improvements by default, but last chapter was a GIANT improvement.

Like, the game followed up Angeal’s “tragic” death with wacky vacation hijinks and I didn’t even notice how schizophrenic it was because I already thought Angeal’s death was hilarious. But here (even though the death itself was still really funny), you’re going into so much detail about Zack dealing with grief and losing himself in his work as a desperate escape so that, when he is forced on vacation, it’s anything but wacky getaway funtimes. It’s actually extremely tragic and I love how you didn’t shy away from the more unsettling aspects of Zack’s PTSD.

I mention this because, for as contextually weak as Zack learning about the Hewley family was, it seemed like the most significant nail in the coffin as far as Zack’s understanding of mortality goes. That was the thing that made him wonder how Aerith would learn about his own death, and it was a really sobering realization. It’s even more poignant given how the story ends.

My one nitpick with Zack’s epiphany is the line, “He wouldn’t die, Zack could never DIE, but what if he got hurt, severely wounded, broke a pinky toe or something?”—for as seriously as the rest of the scene handles mortality, this one was too on the nose and broke the immersion. As soon as Zack cockily thinks, “Ha! I can’t possibly die!” that’s the moment when the audience sees his death coming half a story away. As for everyone who already knows how it ends, this is the immersion-breaking reminder that tells us, “Hey, don’t get invested in this character. You all know he dies, anyway.”

[le channels the snark of Yahtzee Croshaw] Well, this’ll teach me not to open my big, fat cake-socket. “There goes old man chickenscrews,” cry the children of the village. “He’s the chump who decided just because Cissnei hadn’t had a decent scene in ten chapters and Team Wingless seemed far more adamant about expanding the Aerith subplot at the expense of other supporting characters that it was safe to say that the novelization wanted as little to do with Cissnei as possible in a review that hinged entirely on her never having another relevant scene again. But now she has and he has so much egg on his face that you could slap him with a frying pan and call him an omelette. Har-har-har.”

To which I reply, “That’s quite a needlessly complicated chant you’ve got going on there, children of the village, but the point of my dissatisfied review was not that Cissnei would never get another good scene, but that she was long overdue for at least three by then because she’s one of the few things about the Crisis Core game worth preserving.”

But even as the story is, it’s cool to see how much friendlier Zack and Cissnei are after she helped him through his meltdown. I guess that really is the kind of thing that’d bring people closer together, so good job for following up on that.

Still, it’s jumping the gun a bit for Zack to forget Aerith AGAIN despite how hot and non-casadastraphobic Cissnei is. It’s especially weird for him to fall so head-over-heels for her considering we just had a chapter going into harrowing detail about his grief and PTSD—AND he just learned about Angeal’s family dying.

Oh yeah, the fanclubs. I was really enjoying not remembering them. And, evidently, so was the novel, because it didn’t even mention them until now.

Zack’s been a First for over a year and he STILL hasn’t moved out of those tiny barracks?

“Remembering how he had let Zack misjudge him, the realization dawned on him like nightfall...That was Angeal’s aim all along.”—And now he’s dead, so look how well that turned out for him.

“Children have a right to be wrong, to grow up on their own terms, to learn the lessons that shape who they are and become who they’re meant to be.”—And if they STAY wrong, they end up dead like Angeal because they forced a conflict that was completely pointless and never once listened to common sense.

I dunno where Zack learned all this pretentious honor crap from, but it sure as hell wasn’t from Angeal.

So, we’re just accepting that Angeal’s motivation all along was to kill himself? Y’know, for a guy so obsessed with “honor” and who pressured Zack to read Musashi, I’m surprised Angeal didn’t just commit seppuku. I get that you’re trying to make sense of the game while (for some reason) staying as faithful to the broad strokes as possible, but by having Angeal’s ultimate end goal be something as weak as suicide—something he DIDN’T need to commit high treason and turn into a super-villain for—it just makes his convoluted story arc that much more stupid.

Well, I liked most of the chapter. The only *major* problem with it is Zack’s “epiphany” about honor and why Angeal became such a pee-pee head.
11/16/2017 c13 chickenscrews
“After Shinra Security Forces transported Hojo to a Supermax facility on an island...” That’s an extremely casual way of revealing he survived the fall.

I am ashamed of myself for snickering at the poodle joke.

“A gnawing emptiness ate at Zack’s soul, threatening to consume him, and he realized that Angeal hadn’t kept his life from Zack...he’d kept Zack from his life.”—WOW, that’s such a poignant, powerful line.

“One thing was certain, Zack the Puppy was dead, buried in the same place everyone laid the family dog to rest—out back by the garbage cans.” ...Wingless, what the frack kind of owner were you? 0_o

Another pointless Lightning cameo... Why? This is her first appearance in eleven chapters and she still doesn’t do anything except appear for a second and then leave. If you’re really desperate to stay within your self-appointed word-limit, Lightning is one of the first things I’d recommend cutting...followed by Spider Jerusalem...followed by Genesis because, really, what did he do after Banora besides bloat the game’s runtime?

Weirdly, the fanservice Cissnei scene now feels like a massive fan-disservice. Sure, it was also obvious in the game that she was there to keep an eye on him, but she was still his friend. Here, she’s practically a stranger and comes off more like an obstacle than a buddy from work. It doesn’t help that he’s being so cold to her.

I can’t help but wonder if this is the price we’re paying for Zack having a more developed romance with Aerith. I get that you ship them pretty hard, but that shouldn’t preclude Zack being friends with other women.

Cissnei was one of the very few things I actually liked about Crisis Core, so it sucks seeing her thrown under the bus like this. Yes, she’s there for Zack when he needs her at the end of the chapter—a sequence that was very well done, by the way—but it still feels like the novelization wants very little to do with her.

Also, what’s this about Aerith “not being human?” I think the game said in passing that she was “an Ancient” or something, but they sure avoided explaining what that meant. It’s probably something we’re already supposed to know from FF7, but for a game that kept beating us over the head with relentless cameos and callbacks and spelled everything out, it’s weirdly uncharacteristic for Crisis Core to not explain this Aerith situation. And given that this is the first time the novel even brought it up and everyone’s acting like it was just common knowledge, that’s not exactly a step in the right direction.

Speaking of Aerith, why didn’t Zack bring her with him? We all know she’s the only one capable of helping him, they’ve been dating for a year, and it’s not like she has a job to do back home, so why not use this forced vacation as an impromptu romantic getaway? Yes, it’d be dampened by Zack’s PTSD, but considering how good Aerith is at managing that, I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t bring her, especially if he’s so desperate to call her.

The Return of “Been Being” Part 3: The Revengening! In Space! In Da Hood! Da Hood of Space!

Well, despite my complaints and yet another distractingly pointless Lightning cameo (seriously, WHY?), this was a very well done character study of Zack dealing with loss. His military drills serving as an escape from the forced vacation, refusing to talk about his problems, being surrounded by luxury but taking no joy in it, his PTSD when the waitress dropped the glass, the general gloom and lethargy, the explosive mood swings and paranoia—this is pretty much what I’d expect someone to go through in a situation like Zack’s. As far as his long-term reaction to loss goes, you nailed it.

(I demand justice for Cissnei, tho.)
11/16/2017 c12 chickenscrews
Beginning right away with another Angeal flashback instead of Zack searching frantically for Aerith. Shows how important she was.

Still, this was another very effectively written flashback that did way more to humanize Angeal than the canon ever cared to, but it’s also another one written in the wrong place. Between this and the others that came in the chapter immediately after Angeal’s betrayal, I can’t help but question why you’d only want us to care about him AFTER the major plot developments already happen. It only weakens the drama as a result.

Dang, Aerith’s such an incredible saint. I mean it—she handled the situation with Angeal so admirably that I am just in awe at her ability to help people, even the ones who endanger her. Makes ya wonder how Zack ever forgot about her.

And, unfortunately, Angeal’s talk with Aerith only further proved he had no reason to kidnap her. Also, the one thing he didn’t talk about was WHY he was doing any of this. He knew he was about to die, right? This’d be the perfect time to come clean about his motivation and such.

Huh. Angeal casting a sleep spell over Aerith made me do a doubletake because, until now, magic has been VERY downplayed in the novelization. Sure, people shoot fireballs and do weirdo anime stunts, but I don’t think the word “magic” has come up even once.

Also, for someone as scared of the sky as Aerith apparently is, she didn’t show any signs of worry despite being taken aboveground to Modeoheim. Sure, the shutters were drawn, but you’d think she’d still be able to notice the change in elevation.

Small nitpick: Zack approaching Aerith in the poorly-lit distance with that buster sword on his back was a missed opportunity for her to mistake him for Angeal.

So, Zack flew all the way from Modeoheim to the slums just to cry? He knows he could’ve just done that over Angeal’s dead body and saved himself the trip, right? What’s even the point of him and Aerith going back to the church off-screen when this scene could’ve easily happened in the evil lair they were already in?

And on the subject of Aerith helping Zack recover, she sure is taking her kidnapping extremely well. I’ll chalk it up to her incredible strength of character and Angeal being a remarkably hospitable kidnapper, but I’d like to see more reciprocated support in their relationship for something like this.

Also, you ever notice how shockingly irrelevant the Turks are in here? Yeah, they had almost nothing to do in the game, but Cissnei was at least very well established as one of Zack’s friends by now. In here, I think she’s had only one scene and maybe a throwaway cameo in the background here or there. What’s up with that? I demand more relevant Cissnei.

Hey, nitpicky question: How does the buster sword stay on someone’s back? I don’t see a sheath or anything.

Once again, the montage-y bit is the best part of the chapter. It felt like so much happened in so little space, and I mean that in a good way. I really do feel like I just watched Zack go through some incredible changes in only a short span of time, like he finally crossed over into the next major phase of his life. There’s a strong, bittersweet feel to it all—he finally fulfilled his dream, but had to give up something invaluable to get there. And, again, you did this much better than the game because Angeal actually felt like a character in here instead of just a lazy plot-device.

One last nitpick: this chapter brings up “the Train Graveyard mission” and the holodeck in general like it was already established in the story. I remember the holodeck being mentioned here and there in passing, but remember that “the Train Graveyard mission” didn’t even happen in this draft. The first chapter ditched the holodeck entirely because it was cheap and stupid writing on the game’s part, so it’s weird seeing it suddenly brought back like this.
11/15/2017 c11 chickenscrews
[Part 2]

“Hojo leered like a leprechaun at the dark angel...” I’m not going to say anything, but I am going to leave that line hanging there so we can all judge it internally.

“Angeal rushed forward, forearm slamming against the little man. He picked him up and”—and crushed his skull with his bare hands? Obliterated his spine over his knee? Skewered him to the wall with that giant buster sword? Hold him down and take turns nibbling on his innards, then eat his brain and leave the body for the buzzards?—“and threw him out the window of the very short building and onto the nice, soft snow that very pleasantly broke his fall.” ...Okay, I exaggerated that last bit, but still, I don’t think Angeal knows how revenge works.

Like, I know you need Hojo around for the sequels and junk, but when I think of getting revenge on a cackling Saturday morning cartoon villain who ruined your life, I think of MGS5 when Venom Snake and Kaz Miller had Skull Face lying bleeding on the ground and then blew off his arms and legs with a shotgun to make his death as long and painful as possible. If you’re not even gonna let Hojo suffer, then why isn’t Genesis there to act as his bodyguard? Or, if you wanna have your cake and eat it too, then just make this a Hojo *clone.* I mean, he’s got the technology...

“Now, once again, it was him and Angeal, holding their swords along with their hearts in their hands.”—Hey, you know whose heart SHOULD’VE been in their hands? Hojo’s. All bloody and squishy.

Angeal: “Do you remember what I said about our enemy being all that creates suffering?”—Ah, yes, the vague, anarchist tosh. I remember it well.

Angeal: “I can create suffering.”—Whoop-de-doo. So can I. So can everyone. Angeal needs to stop reading Twilight and just grow out of his emo phase already. ...And I say that as someone who loves emo stuff unironically. (Twilight sucks, though.)

BOB SAGET, WINGLESS! YOU KEPT THE HORSE?! That was the one thing I thought you’d change.

It’s like, it was hilarious in the game because it was obvious that the developers realized only thirty seconds before launch that they forgot to program the Angeal boss fight, so they repurposed one of Nomura’s generic monster bosses and slapped Angeal’s name on the health bar, but what’s the excuse here?

If you needed Angeal to turn into a monster for comedic effect (and you didn’t), then it’d make much more sense for him to turn into an eldritch abomination for all the space monster blood he’s got in him. But even that would undermine the attempted tragedy of Zack being forced to kill his father figure because we came here wanting to see Zack fight ANGEAL, not this low-budget Ludwig the Accursed fursona.

I guess, if Angeal was slowly degrading into a wretched, oozing Bloodborne boss, then it’d be acceptable for this to gradually turn from a vengeful showdown into a heartbreaking mercy-kill. But even then, the degradation would have to be gradual and be slowly built up over the course of the story so it’s not completely random when Angeal’s character model’s replaced with a Nomura doodle.

Like, what about Angeal’s appearances post-betrayal indicated he had “Spontaneously Transmogrify into a Stupid Shield-and-Trident-Wielding Centaur Syndrome?” Where did the shield and trident even come from? Where’s that buster sword the game’s been building up all this time? We finally get to the end of Angeal’s story arc and we never get to fight against the buster sword? Even in Bloodborne, where the fallen hero turned giant centaur monster was actually terrifying, the big ol’ Ludwig horse at least had the decency to whip out his legendary Moonlight Greatsword in the second half of the boss fight.

Flashback Angeal, teaching Zack how to clean a sword: “In circles, not lines. If you wouldn’t put your hand on a woman that way, why would you do it to a sword?” ...Angeal, I think it’s time we had a talk about the difference between a woman and a sword.

So, in regards to the comedically static combat system in the game with that even more hilarious pachislot popping up every five seconds constantly undermining the already failed attempts at drama, it looks like you tried to sidestep the lame boss fight by instead focusing on a series of more interesting flashbacks. Interesting choice. Unfortunately, the correct choice would’ve been to make the fight actually good so we wouldn’t need distractions in the first place.

...Sorry if that sounded snobby. It’s just, when you need to throw in pachinko machines and blinking lights and flashback after flashback to distract the audience from an awful combat system, you need to focus that energy on just fixing the combat system. In the case of the novel, that should translate to just writing an emotionally satisfying fight.

The keywords there are *emotionally satisfying*—as in, for a showdown as tragic and emotional as this, the combat should be raw and gritty. Flashy words and flashy choreography are all fine and dandy for enemies Zack has no emotional ties to and can actually save an otherwise boring fight, but this is exactly the kind of scene where style over substance does way more harm than good.

If Zack’s fighting a handful of stormtroopers in some random hallway in the Death Star, sure, let him go to town with those sheerlight luminescent quasi-apocryphal triple-pirouette microsonic hierophantic supercells that he can apparently do. But if it’s supposed to be an emotional climax where passions are flying, girlfriends are strapped to deathrays, and traitorous father figures are devolving into bloodthirsty eldritch abominations, then maybe it’s time to drop the flawless choreography and let the characters give into their righteous fury and just whale on each other.

I will grant that, yes, you did attempt repeatedly to make the characters’ emotional ties the crux of the fight by breaking up the sterile choreography with poignant flashbacks, so you’re at least in the right ballpark. But, again, if the fight scene is so far off the mark that you have to break it up with distraction after distraction, it’s just not a very good fight scene.

Dunno if you’ve ever seen the RedLetterMedia Star Wars reviews on YouTube (they’re, like, 90 minutes each), but if you want further reference, there’s an excerpt called “The Truth About Lightsaber Battles” that pretty much hammers home everything I just finished rambling about, but in much more detail. I didn’t see the review it came from (The Phantom Menace) until I was in 12th grade, but it completely changed the way I look at and write action scenes.

But the point is, yes, there’s a time and a place for style over substance, but this scene should’ve been substance over style.

Oh, hey, that “been being” thing is here too.

After Angeal turns back into a human for some reason, it says that “the degradation” was finally overwhelming him. In the game, degradation was rapid aging as a side effect of sprouting wings. But here, it’s never established what the degradation is. We haven’t seen anyone aging rapidly or showing any other signs of physical corruption.

Okay, this is an actually beautiful line: “The sword wasn’t heavy for him, Angeal had trained him to carry it, all this time.”

I’d say it’s too bad that Zack’s just gonna use the buster sword to smack everything in sight instead of lugging it around like a moron who thinks he knows what honor is, but that’s what swords are made for. Maybe if Angeal ever used the thing *on purpose*, he’d still be alive.

Well, this turned out to be another borderline-abusive review after a short but pleasant run of uplifting ones. This is because, again, the stuff you transplant directly from the game is always the worst parts of the novelization; I still can’t believe Crisis Core was written by actual grownups when it seems so much like something a teenager would cobble together before they have their first literary breakthrough.

For reference of just how bad Crisis Core’s writing is, I was way more entertained and intrigued by your nonsensical Spider Jerusalem cameo than I was by anything in the game itself. Seriously, I want to know where this bizarre subplot goes even though I’ll end up hating myself for enabling you. But that’s what I mean; Crisis Core’s best writing is nowhere near as engaging as your worst, so with that being the case, why preserve this much?

[End of Review]
11/15/2017 c11 chickenscrews
[Part 1]

Zack’s trying to convince Tseng that Angeal won’t harm Aerith, but just last chapter, he warned Aerith that Angeal was a homicidal maniac.

Right off the bat, Zack, Cloud, and Tseng pursuing Angeal to *Modeoheim* is a GIANT improvement from the canon. This is the kind of plot condensement that makes the story so much more interesting. Plus, in this version, they have an actual reason to go to Modeoheim, rather than just accidentally wandering there because their helicopter ran out of gas.

But now onto something the canon actually did better: Cloud. You’ll hate me right away for saying that, but hear me out.

You’ve told me before that you never liked how Cloud was “an emo wuss” in the canon, so I get your reasons for toughening him up. I’d love to see Cloud with more confidence. Unfortunately, this is the one point in the FF7 chronology where Cloud should still be a weakling little grunt with self-doubt issues. He’s still only a rookie infantryman, after all—definitely not skilled enough to keep up with Zack, let alone stay in such perfect sync with him.

While Cloud does have a much cooler intro, this also worsens the “My name is Khan” moment that the game already handled really awkwardly. Cloud shouldn’t be hitting it off with Zack immediately after meeting him, especially in the middle of a firefight when they should focus on staying alive. And, in Zack’s case, he should be focusing entirely on finding Angeal and saving Aerith; he shouldn’t be in the mood to make a new best friend and joke around in battle like he usually does.

A more natural solution would’ve been to just give Cloud Kunsel’s role as Zack’s loser best friend who dreams of one day being as cool as Zack is, and this chapter would be Cloud’s long-deserved moment of semi-glory. I say “semi-glory” because, while it’d be cool to see him prove himself, he shouldn’t be THIS good.

Remember when Zack was a Second and he used to drop his jaw whenever he saw Angeal or Sephiroth clear a room before he could even draw his sword? That’s what Zack should be to Cloud right about now. (Speaking of which, now that Zack’s a first, shouldn’t he think about finding an apprentice soon?)

Plus, Cloud being established as so much weaker than Zack is what made it so surprising when he was the one to pick up the buster sword and KO Sephiroth at Nibelheim. As it is now, it won’t be in any way surprising when THIS Cloud shanks Seph with the Gigantic Dragon-Cleaver Greatsword of Plus 50 Plot Twists.

Also, the rest of the squad just kind’ve disappeared. We learn later that they’re all alive, so why’d Zack and Cloud ditch them for a random sidequest?

“Zack cocked a queer eyebrow.”—Well, that’s a questionable word choice. I know cocking one’s eyebrow denotes confusion, but now the eyebrow is “queer” (presumably the old-timey sense) and I’m doing a doubletake at Zack’s doubletake.

Admittedly, Cloud play-shooting Zack’s blade to “shoot anything that moved” was both cute and badass. But I still say Cloud shouldn’t be this skilled yet.

Now Zack’s givin’ him the finger and Cloud’s fake-jerkin’ it in reply and I’m wondering just how “queer” Zack’s eyebrow was earlier. Yeah, it’s a joke, but when did these two turn into Call of Duty players? Sure, they are teenagers, but still...

Oh yeah, I’ve noticed “Dancer” mentioned here and there like it was some kind of vaguely-defined drug, but always shoved it under the mental rug because it was never treated with any importance. I don’t think it was ever mentioned in any dialogue—just as some casual throwaway reference in the narration. And now we got an entire factory full of this “Dancer” stuff being shoved in our faces in one of the most pivotal scenes in the story like it’s been properly built up to.

It’s actually ingenious for Hojo to use drug money to fund his cloning enterprise and I’m seriously impressed you thought of it. It just needed some actual buildup for this to feel like the payoff it’s meant to be.

Like, if you preserved the Wutai mission, maybe show a part where Zack and Angeal see Shinra infantrymen sell crates full of the stuff to the Wutai soldiers.

Or, if not during the actual battle of Wutai itself, maybe Zack’s sent on a sting operation to bust a drug ring connected to Hojo in Wutai after conquering it.

For additional buildup, more detail could’ve been spent on scenes of Zack seeing the drug’s effect on the slums, or even showing Aerith counseling a recovering drug addict. Maybe have her tell Zack about how Dancer’s ruining what was, until recently, a relatively nice neighborhood. All of this would be better than just a throwaway line here or there before returning to our regularly scheduled romantic subplot.

Hell, Zack and Cloud both share that Dancer destroyed their families, so, if Cloud replaced Kunsel as Zack’s pointless best friend and they had some actual conversations about this beforehand, this moment would actually feel earned.

Also, why didn’t Zack just arrest or kill Hojo when he had the chance during the clone siege? Why did his brain do a 180 and somehow think he was supposed to PROTECT the guy he was explicitly ordered to apprehend and even tried arresting only a few hours earlier?

Any reason why the clone factory and the drug factory are in two completely different buildings rather than in separate rooms of the same building? Separating them like that just makes the drug subplot look like filler when you should really be making it look as relevant/physically connected to the plot as possible. Otherwise, you can cut it and not lose anything important.

Ah, I see everyone survived the helicopter crash...and helicopter crashes are apparently non-lethal. In other words, this is yet another case of Zack and friend playing hooky when their allies are in mortal danger.

“The two disgruntled grunts grumbled...” I should hate this line, but it’s totally something I would write x)

Jeez, Angeal just can’t stop molting, can he?

I’m fine with Zack screaming Aerith’s name in a panic and potentially giving away their position—emotional distress can screw with your judgment like that—but I’d expect Tseng to scold him for it.

A small moment, but I really appreciated Zack helping Cloud get his bearings and checking him for injuries after the firefight. Granted, this only happened because Zack abandoned his unit to find Aerith in an emotional frenzy, but it’s still a nice moment.

So, did you only have Zack briefly leave the group just to reenact that part in the game where he finds Cloud and Tseng beat up but somehow still alive? It never made sense to me that homicidal maniacs like Angeal or Genesis or whoever would just spare them like that.

What’s the deal with Zack worrying about seeing red eyes? I don’t remember any red eyes in this. He was relieved to see Angeal’s were still blue, but when was moral alignment iris corruption a thing in here?

I thought Angeal kidnapping Aerith would be the thing to push Zack over the edge and finally resolve to stop his old mentor to save the woman he loves, but he’s being just as friendly as ever with the traitorous angel guy. Hell, Angeal had to actually remind him that he just kidnapped his girlfriend before Zack remembered how to get angry.

Okay, I’m trying to process this. Sephiroth is apparently Angeal’s younger brother, and Angeal saved him from angel transfusion by getting the operation himself. How does this tie back to Seph being on medication, or will that even be followed-up on?

“Angeal saw the phase, the transition from hunter...to killer.”—That is a really good line. There are some really effective lines in the buildup to the fight.

Unfortunately, there is also this line that puts it all back in perspective: “Crossed blades, Angeal forced Zack’s down, and they glared at each other as mortal enemies. How had it come to this?”—Seriously, HOW had it come to this? We’ve never known Angeal’s motivation, and he’s constantly jumping between village-slaughtering maniac to sad old man, and we have no idea why. And it’s not like Zack has the most iron will, either. He knows the guy kidnapped his girlfriend, but was perfectly willing to throw everything away to spend the rest of his life in hiding with that kidnapper until said kidnapper reminded him of the kidnapping. Like, not once in this scene did Zack go, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH AERITH? WHERE’S TWO-FACE? WHO’S BANE? WHAT’S THE TRIGGER? DON’T PLAY GAMES WITH ME, JOKER!”

Oh, piss. Here comes Dr. “Voice Worse Than an Entire Emergency Broadcast Symphony of a Hundred Small Children Grinding Their Teeth Simultaneously as Conducted by Gilbert Gottfried Scraping a Chalkboard While Waiting for AOL to Start Up” Hojo. I think I’ll do myself a favor and just imagine him voiced by Steve Blum’s Starscream.

And, unfortunately, you’ve kept the hilarious melodrama again.

* [hilarious mad scientist voice] “IT’S TIME TO AVENGE OUR FAMILY’S SUFFERING!”

* “My parents are DEEAAAAAAD!”

* “My mother’s shame...made her take her own life!”

* “Or should I say...Project...GILLIAN!”


[neighs dramatically]

Granted, you cut out “No! At least one sample!” and the complementary hilarious limb-flailing and fat guy-throwing, but most of the unintentional comedy’s still there.

And another thing: “My mother’s shame...made her take her own life!”—oh, yeah, she sure looked awfully shamed with that PEACEFUL SMILE ON HER DEAD FACE. YOU CAN’T FOOL ME, MOTHER-KILLER. And no, a million pieces did not square in a single rushing moment—this is the part where things got even MORE confusing. Why are we suddenly believing anything Angeal says? What was his mother so ashamed of that warranted suicide? Where was the suicide weapon? Why did Angeal let Zack think he was the killer? What does it matter what the G stands for? WHAT THE HELL IS ANGEAL’S MOTIVATION?

[Continued in Part 2]
11/14/2017 c10 chickenscrews
SON OF A—you’re actually following-up on the Genesis invasion by having Shinra rebuild and take security precautions and go hunting for the bad guys and crap?! THANK YOU FOR BEING LOGICAL! 8’D (I still say this should’ve come before the Aerith chapter, though.)

...Wait, the previous chapter said an entire month passed during Zack and Aerith’s post-invasion funtimes. Either Shinra took an entire month to respond to a critical plot development AGAIN, or this is happening concurrently with the Aerith montage. I really can’t tell at this point.

So, Zack and Sephiroth already know about Project G and the cosmic horror implications, right? They saw those clipboards just lying around in the sewers.

A shady-looking bald guy with funny-looking glasses and a crooked smile introduced himself as an alternative journalist with his business card reading “The Spider” on it... Wingless, you bastage, did Zack just meet Spider Jerusalem? -_-

Aerith reassuring Zack she won’t cheat on him: “How about if anyone is talented enough to fall off the Plate, sail through my roof and land smack in the middle of my flower bed like some other bozo I know...I’ll give him a shot.”
...I know I should be annoyed at the fanservice foreshadowing, but I can’t stop smiling. And I hate it.

Remember a couple reviews back when I said your novelization preserved too much filler and that’s why you passed the word limit? I still stand by that, but the weird thing is, when you write these original scenes that weren’t in the game, I can’t imagine the story existing without them. For as much as the game tried TELLING us that Aerith and Angeal are crucial parts of Zack’s life, you’re actually SHOWING it.

The game had a lot of badly-written and outright hilarious melodrama because it missed every intended emotional mark, largely because many of the characters felt like lazy plot devices or bad jokes. But here, you’re taking the time to make key characters actually endearing to the audience.

Because of you, I don’t wanna see Angeal turn into a horse and neigh about honor with his dying breath as he melts into glue.

I don’t wanna see Zack wake up from cryosleep and find out Aerith’s been trying to contact him for five years before finally accepting he just died in obscurity.

I don’t wanna see Zack get shoehorned into a comically over-the-top but still somehow rushed death scene when he still had so much to live for.

I don’t want to see bad things happen to these characters, and that is how you know you’re building up drama RIGHT. (Genesis is still annoying and pointless, though.)

Zack slow-dancing with Aerith and joking with Angeal about beer-holding wings like it’s the old days are both authorial inventions that inflate the word-count, but without scenes like these, we’d have no reason to care about the characters. Without that, there’d be no reason to care about the drama. And without that, you’re just left with a crappy story. Granted, I still think the novel keeps too many of the old problems and the pacing was an issue until only recently, but at least it understands fundamental concepts about storytelling that the game just couldn’t be bothered with.

A nitpick: Aerith’s mom really just feels like a pointless punchline at this point. She’s just there with the anime frying pan to force a groan/laugh at the end of otherwise cute scenes.

Also, it seems like rapid aging isn’t a problem for the wing-people here. I remember Angeal’s hair being at least steel-grey by this point in the game.

“But a silence followed, and the laughter faded like the aftertaste of fine spirits. They knew what the problem was.”—Really? Cuz I don’t. Angeal sparkles now—how is that detrimental to his job? Or are we talking about the unmotivated treason? That seems more like a real problem. Also, WHAT IS HIS MOTIVATION?

Zack, talking about Sephiroth: “I was scared of him at first but he’s a really great guy, I’m learning a lot from him.”—None of which happened on-screen.

Zack again: “Sephiroth already has a student, don’t you dare try to hand me off!”—Clearly, Lightning was just an intern, otherwise she would’ve been the one to go sewer-exploring with Seph during the invasion.

Hey, remember when Sephiroth barged into Lazarus’ office while he was meeting with the board of directors and brazenly tore up his orders to go hunt Angeal in Banora and nobody did anything to stop him? Why’s Zack being threatened with incarceration for disobeying orders when he and Seph are the same rank? Yes, that thing about Firsts being able to reject orders is stupid, but consistency would be nice.

Angeal, explaining this convoluted plot to Zack: “...you and I are pieces in a passive-aggressive chess game”—except none of the players know how to play chess. But seriously, passive-aggressive’s a pretty good way to describe the game’s uninteresting plot. Though, it’d be ideal if you reworked that passive-aggression into actual aggression so the drama has actual tension.

So, I’ve finally come to accept that Aerith simply can’t be Angeal’s wife in here. The age difference is already suspicious, but besides that, her backstory and living situation just doesn’t add up with what Angeal’s mother told us about her. Plus, Zack would’ve recognized her from the picture, and that’s not even mentioning the conspicuous lack of a daughter. And so, with all possibility of a link between the two severed—

—HOLY SMOKES, THAT CLIFFHANGER! But why on earth would Angeal kidnap Aerith if she wasn’t his estranged wife? Unless...


...Wait, no. That doesn’t work either. Angeal’s mother said back in Chapter 3, “They divorced a year ago,” and she still referred to her granddaughter as a baby, so Aerith can’t possibly be Angeal’s daughter.

Darn it, and we almost had something resembling a motivation for Angeal -_-

Even still, I’m disappointed Shinra didn’t put Angeal’s ex-wife and kid in witness protection or something. The guy killed his own mom and slaughtered his whole village. Surely, the wife and kid would be next.

This might be a strange observation to make, but I think it’s pretty important. This is the first chapter where the story wasn’t ALWAYS told from Zack’s 3rd-person POV. Some of it followed Aerith and Angeal. Ordinarily, I’d think this is an improvement because I like seeing multiple POVs, even in the same scene, but given how the story’s been written thus far, it comes off more like a stylistic error. I think some 3rd-person limited scenes from the POVs of Angeal, Aerith, Sephiroth, and later Cloud would help enrich the story, but that’s just not how the story was set up. It’s a small problem, but definitely one you’ll want to fix before the printed version.
11/13/2017 c9 chickenscrews
(Just a heads-up, I kinda hate myself for being so brutal in this review…)

One of my favorite animes ever is Hellsing Ultimate, the second animated adaptation of Kouta Hirano’s manga, Hellsing, and the only good one.

In the second episode, two rabble-rousing young men with completely opposite personalities attacked the Hellsing manor during a politically-sensitive meeting when all the important known leaders of the series were gathered under one roof. The attackers brought a giant army of machinegun-wielding zombies with them, and they slaughtered nearly everyone in the mansion. The zombies’ feasting also turned the infected Hellsing soldiers into an extra wave of undead reinforcements.

During this invasion, nobody left the premises. The escape routes were blocked and the emergency helicopters were destroyed. And with the leadership still inside anyways, the protagonists never even considered leaving when they still had a job to do, no matter how abysmal the odds got.

By the end of the episode, the invasion was quelled, but only a handful of survivors remained. The credits sequence was used for a somber mass-funeral, and the day’s tragic events served as a wakeup call to the heroes that, from there on out, they would battle an enemy unlike anything they’d ever faced before, and if they weren’t prepared, they would face far greater consequences in the future.

The very next episode began with the wounded Hellsing Organization hiring a small army of mercenaries to replace the soldiers they lost, and they took dramatic steps to launch an investigation into who had attacked them and how to stop them before they struck again.

Compare this to the Crisis Core novel.

* Two rabble-rousing young men with completely opposite personalities (Genesis and Angeal) attacked Shinra HQ during Zack’s debriefing of a top-secret mission when the entire board of directors was gathered under one roof.

* The attackers brought a giant army of superpowered emo clones, and their tech-savviness allowed them to reprogram Shinra’s robot security drones into an extra wave of homicidal reinforcements.

* During this invasion, the two most powerful protagonists (Zack and Sephiroth) went AWOL to goof-off at a Starbucks and then chill in the sewers.

* After reading top-secret documents that they didn’t have clearance for, flash-backing to awkward and pointless memories, loitering and shooting up prescription drugs for about an hour because they couldn’t be bothered to kick down a door, harassing their company’s top scientist, attending their arch-enemy’s terrible poetry recital, and spending the next several hours talking about plants and junk with a hippie chick and chasing down a juvenile delinquent and then never punishing said delinquent for robbing and assaulting the police, the protagonists finally remembered everyone they knew and loved were being slaughtered to death while they took an impromptu vacation.

* Absolutely no time whatsoever was dedicated to honoring the dozens—if not hundreds—of fallen soldiers who died in what was surely the most horrible invasion their company had ever experienced. And, if this continues anything like the game, Shinra will take absolutely zero steps to heighten security or launch any kind of investigation as to where their attackers came from or how this clone army is being made in the first place. In fact, the invasion is never even brought up again.

* To top it all off, the very next chapter begins with Zack going to hang out with his girlfriend like nothing important ever happened at work so they can pork like teenagers on top of the church daisies.

...Dammit, I’m sorry for being so harsh. It’s just...this novelization has so much potential, and you clearly have an overwhelming desire to fix the mess that was the game this was based on, but too many giant opportunities are being squandered for jokes and pop-cultural references and I just don’t know how you’re going to save the story at this point. Anyone who took issue with the game as much as we did probably stopped reading by now.

The only other reviews I can find for this draft besides mine were back in Chapter 2, which is now Chapter 1 because there used to be an author’s note chapter. There’s another review for Chapter 16, but that’s it so far, and I checked the reviews pages for all 31 of the currently posted chapters.

I think the reason for this is that, for all of us who want to see Crisis Core turned into an actually good story, too many of the original problems are still here. And considering this is the fifth draft or something, that’s not a very promising sign.

Of course, I’ll keep reading because I love the changes you DO make—hell, the Aerith stuff alone is worth it—but with every new review I post, I feel more like a huge jerk undermining your passion project when I’m really just trying to help. You haven’t snapped at me yet like some other people have, so that’s a good sign, but I always feel like it’s coming.

Well, if I am being too harsh, please let me know and I’ll tone it down.

But the funny thing is, for as much as I ranted about how the crappy context puts a real damper on this chapter, the chapter itself is easily the best one in the story so far. Sure, it makes no sense for it to come immediately after a gigantic invasion. Sure, the constant shout-outs to real-world copyrights is distracting. But despite all that, this was a nearly-perfect chapter. What the hell’s a chapter this good doing in a Crisis Core adaptation?

It had so many things I’ve been wanting to see out of this story since the beginning:

1) Organic world-building via Zack’s charity work (I friggin’ love it when superheroes do community service and help out the little guys and junk)

2) Aerith and Zack being adorable

3) Aerith and Zack having believable relationship issues like flawed human beings and then working through them like reasonable people

4) Angeal being a damn good father figure—hell, Angeal being LIKEABLE again! MORE OF THIS, PLEASE.

5) A flashback with legitimate weight and relevance

For all the unfortunate plot crap leading up to this chapter and the context bogging it down, I really love what you pulled off here regardless. Like the first chapter, it takes a drastic turn from the canon for the better, but it also manages its pacing extremely well. Yeah, it’s really fast, but it’s a montage chapter, and as a montage, it excels in everything it set out to do. Plus, it finally pulled off what twenty hours of Crisis Core the game never did: it made me actually CARE about the characters.

Seriously, I did not expect this kind of quality or this much creative liberty after the last few chapters. What took you so long? :)

Too bad Angeal turns into a horse in two chapters, or so the table of contents would have me believe.

Oh yeah, if Zack’s a First now, why does he still have a super tiny bunk? Can’t he move into Angeal’s old apartment? Ah well, minor nitpick in an otherwise mostly-great chapter.

Also, it's funny that the chapter's called "Sacrilegious Bad Boy," but it ends with Zack running away like a scared little choirboy.
11/12/2017 c8 chickenscrews
Oh, hey, you remembered there’s a clone invasion going on. Good job? ...Grah, sorry if that sounded mean. I’m just airing out my grievances with the game’s plot-holes since you’re the only other person I know who sat through the whole thing.

Wait, that was Lazarus who called Zack to get his butt back to HQ. But didn’t Lazard already go AWOL in a bad Angeal costume by this point in the game? Bah, this is what happens when you combine the two Genesis invasions into one. Still, I’m fine with Lazarus sticking around since his game-counterpart barely had any presence in the story before we were suddenly supposed to care about him—let alone remember him—in the eleventh hour.

You know what would’ve made Zack’s unease about Yuffie’s dead dad actually work? If he’s the one who killed him. I don’t think Delta Draft even has a Wutai War in it; it just crammed the first five chapters into one and skipped Wutai entirely.

And here we see the real problem that comes with meshing the two Genesis invasions together: Angeal just switches sides mid-siege like a schizo. It’s bad enough that he had no actual motivation in the game (first he rambles about honor, then he’s a traitor, then he’s a twihard, then he’s a double-traitor, then he has daddy issues, then he’s a triple-traitor and a horse, and then he gives his strictly-wall decorative sword to someone he knows will just smack everything in sight with it), and the whole time he kept switching sides and acting like a moron, I just thought, “What’s this idiot’s motivation?”

At least in the game, where there were often a few hours of filler between appearances, I just assumed he changed his motivations every time he learned something new about his health condition off-screen, but now that the novel has him switching sides mid-battle because reasons, it just becomes harder to swallow. Granted, it was never swallowed in the first place, but now I can’t even fit it in my mouth and I have no idea why this is the analogy I chose.

“Zack approached in a slow stride, as tall and strong as he felt Angeal would want him to be.”—FRICK, that’s a really good line 8

Angeal: “But Zack, no matter what happens, I have to protect my honor. It’s the only thing thing I have that’s truly mine.”
—Welp, someone’s gotta say it sometime. ...For all his shallow talk about honor and crap, ANGEAL IS THE MOST *DIS*HONORABLE HYPOCRITE IN THE WHOLE SERIES.

Oh, he carries around a priceless sword but refuses to actually use it? So what, he still constantly gets it dirty by exposing it to the elements and stray bullets and crap because he carries it without a sheath.

Oh, he refused to steal from the Rhapsodos family’s dumbapple tree because he was friends with their son? HE STILL SLAUGHTERED THE WHOLE VILLAGE.

Add that to his unending string of constant betrayals on the flimsiest of whims and Angeal’s just an insufferable hypocrite.

Still, I’m glad you called out his crusade on “all that creates suffering, and all that profits from it” as the “anarchist tosh” it actually is.

Oh, hey, Angeal and Zack actually crashed through a window instead of just flying through a conveniently-sized hole because the animators couldn’t be bothered to do something interesting. This is appreciated.


1) When we started, Angeal and Genesis launched this invasion against Shinra because reasons. (Sidenote: What was Genesis’ motivation, again? ...Besides misinterpreting the hit Beatles album, “Loveless,” as a subliminal call to arms to trigger the Helter Skelter Apocalypse?)

2) Several hours later, Angeal switched sides, but he still claims his enemy is Shinra. (Sidenote: What is Angeal’s current motivation? You may use a protractor.)

3) Zack works for SOLDIER, but has no problem with Angeal drafting him into his recently-embraced non-side.

4) Sephiroth’s still killin’ Genesis clones and defendin’ Shinra, but he’s also cool working with traitor-Angeal and increasingly confused Zack.

5) Angeal wants to stop Dr. Hojo even though he’s the only one who can keep him alive.

6) Stopping Dr. Hojo apparently means the world to Angeal, but he’s outsourcing the job to Zack, who has no idea whose side he’s on or what he’s supposed to do. (Sidenote: What is Zack’s current motivation? You may use hallucinogenic drugs.)

7) Zack pursued Dr. Hojo in the sewers only a few hours ago with the intent of arresting him, but now thinks he’s supposed to protect him from his own Genesis army for whatever reason despite that he’s the one common enemy that he, Sephiroth, and Angeal all have.

8) Dr. Hojo’s replacing Dr. Fatso as the mad scientist villain, but he’s still working at Shinra. (Sidenote: What is Hojo’s motivation? ...Besides screwing over a dormant vampire and banging said vampire’s crybaby wife who turned into a tree?)

9) Dr. Hojo ordered a full-scale emo-clone and death-robot invasion on his place of his employment while he’s still inside and actively working on the final stages of a miraculous scientific breakthrough that could potentially kill him and everyone in the building if anything goes even slightly wrong.

10) Genesis betrayed Dr. Hojo because Ancient Cetra Jenova Cells from the Lifestream are ExoFlaring the Cluster Spheres in the Hexifang esuna materia degradation eidolon dumbapples Banora-Wutai-Midgar-Nibelheimer-Schmidt & Knuckles from the Devil May Cry series.

11) It is revealed that Cloud is actually a cybernetic turtle from the future, searching for the mystic mungis.

The point is, this is about the point in the game where everything stopped making sense, but Hojo replacing Dr. Fatso in the novelization is only making things even more confusing now.

Ah, bums, you kept that bit with Zack talking to Aerith at the most comically inconvenient time. I know giant monsters designed by Tetsuya Nomura are just glorified filler, but aren’t we supposed to at least pretend to feel dramatic tension or something?

“When Sephiroth said nothing, it meant you did a good job.”—THAT IS ALSO a very good line.

Of all the chapters so far, this one suffers the most from being based on the Crisis Core videogame. Preserving it this much in the novelization sends a pretty clear message that you don’t want us to take this story seriously. Zack only just remembered he went AWOL in the middle of a siege on his headquarters, nobody knows what side anyone’s on, Genesis is reciting poetry again, Aerith’s calling Zack in the middle of a fight to undercut the attempted dramatic tension, and a Nomura Dragon appeared.

I think the game wanted this to be its explosive first act climax or something, but I couldn’t take it seriously because it was completely stupid. You’ve certainly trimmed all the fat for this part (and there was a lot of it), but you’re still beholden to a nonsensical story that, from here on out, only gets stupider and stupider.

Crap, I’m feeling like a jerk for crapping on your novel so much lately. Well, remember what I more or less said a few reviews ago. The best parts of this story are the creative liberties you take; the worst parts are the ones lifted straight from the game.
11/12/2017 c7 chickenscrews
“The Slums looked like the inside of a flying saucer, discarded scrap metal heaped under a durasteel sky.”—Not that I’ve ever seen the interior of a flying saucer, but I always imagined they’d be a lot cleaner than a muddy shantytown.

Wait, ALL Soldiers do their shopping on the black market? I’d think Shinra would notice by now. And how is it that every Soldier EXCEPT Zack knows about this setup?

Oh, son of a—YOU KEPT THE WALLET-NABBING? I hate that cliche so much. Even worse, I hated that entire 45-minute “chase” sequence in the game so much that I wanted to just drop napalm all over the slums because everyone sucks or break all the pillars holding up Midgar so everyone beneath would get squished. Yes, yes, you’ve got Yuffie as the offender now and this is a slightly more reasonable return cameo than an eight-part spam email treasure-hunting adventure, but surely there are more reasonable options for filler? ...Like, NO filler?

If Aerith knows where Yuffie is, why’d she and Zack decide to split up? Wouldn’t that make it harder for him to get his wallet back?

I also remember seeing SOLDIER infantrymen patrolling the slums. Curious why they didn’t do crap about all this.

Aerith: “You promised me a long time ago you would never steal again.”
Yuffie: “Alright, fine. I promise on your GRAVE I’ll never steal again.”
...No, Yuffie didn’t actually say that, but I couldn’t help but snicker at the thought.

So, that’s twice now that Yuffie assaulted an officer of the law. Why isn’t anyone arresting her?

I see Aerith’s still casadastraphobic...for some reason. They never did anything with that.

Zack’s puttin’ the moves on Aerith like, “ACTIVATING ROMANCE MODE.” And then I imagined that stupid pachislot machine popping up and he summons the Ifrit to bring up a bouquet of burning flowers from Hell or something xD “TENSION RESOLVED.”

“Iris eyes,” tho.

Here’s the thing I’m noticing with Zack and Aerith’s chemistry. So, they are all kinds of cute and charming—you nailed that perfectly. I want to read more of them being adorkable together and see how their relationship turns out over the course of the story. Thing is, though, I know that I won’t. Or, if I do, it won’t feel earned. They only had, like, three scenes together in the game, and that’s not really enough time for a satisfying romance to come out of this. So, it looks like you’ve decided to sidestep this by giving them a lightning-fast Disney romance. It’s way better than nothing—and again, I am seriously enjoying the time they do spend together—but it’s clear that you’re feeling restrained by the canon’s plot structure.

And on that note of the canon clearly not thinking things through, for as important as both Crisis Core the game and the novel try to make us believe Zack changed Aerith’s life, he couldn’t have been that important if she never once mentioned him in FF7. Again, I haven’t played it, but even I know no one even remembered Zack until Last Order came out...and then no one outside of Japan remembered him until Crisis Core came out. Apparently, you’ve also got a FF7 novelization project on the backburner (and some weirdo third part starring Lightning as a renegade SOLDIER or whatever), so I hope you have Aerith at least remember Zack as the guy who taught her how to tie her shoes so she doesn’t come off as an ungrateful sociopath.

And I see Delta Draft still thinks Zack has a pink cell phone despite that it never made any previous appearances in here. It didn’t say the color in this scene, but Aerith’s reaction to it and Zack’s retort hint pretty strongly at it.

The hell’s up with Aerith’s mom, though? I can’t imagine Aerith would ever get any serious gardening done or feed the homeless as often as she does if she’s on such a tight leash. Also, where’s Aerith’s daughter, or was I completely wrong about her being Angeal’s wife and I just sound stupider every time I bring it up? ...Still, not much point adding in a Hewley family if there’s no payoff.

Anyways, you know how in the description you’re like, “Why is this at over 70k words already? Why can't it just stay under 120k like I want it to? Why cruel world?”—I think this chapter is the answer. Well, the first half, anyway. But I think the reason your novel’s running so long is because, out of all ten hours of the game, only four of them are actually dedicated to story, and of those four, only one isn’t filler, yet you’re adapting all four hours anyways. Well, more like three, but you’re still preserving too much, and faster pacing only solves so much of the problem.

So, I’m noticing something with this novelization. You know how I said the minute-to-minute writing is a giant improvement from the game, but the overall plot is still a problem? From what I’ve read so far, Crisis Core the novel is not a good story, but it’s a well-told story. This is what I meant back in the Chapter 5 review; Crisis Core is a story that NEEDS some ruthless overhauls to finally make sense. Especially the second half. ...Fraggin’ ‘ell, what even was that second half...

Anyways, the point is that chapters like this prove you’re definitely skilled enough to make an actually good story out of this; you just need to start making macro-level changes and not just the micro-level ones.
11/11/2017 c6 chickenscrews
Ha. Zack’s “old man” jokes about Angeal are kinda funny now that I know what happens in the game... Still, a friendly flashback’s a strange note to start the chapter on, considering it kills the momentum the last one ended with. Zack just fell several hundred feet in the air, through a church roof, and landed on a bed of concrete—I think we’d all rather read about how he survived.

Also, Tekken Tag-Tourney. And later, Transformers and Gone With the Wind. Don’t do that.

Still, I’ve had an epiphany. These flashback scenes of Angeal you’ve included post-betrayal are all very effective at showing just how much the big guy meant to Zack. So, consider this: if you ever decide to do another draft of this story, save Angeal’s betrayal for a little later (so it has an actual punch to it) and reformat these flashbacks as actual scenes in the story.

Imagine that “Zack the Puppy” thing as Angeal’s way of publicly teasing Zack for failing to save the mako reactor (and as retaliation for calling him an old man), or the sleepover at Angeal’s place coming right before the mission in Wutai. If you did it in that order (fun opening mission with the two working together, ageist teasing back at HQ for letting the reactor explode, sleepover at Angeal’s as the last of the good times, and then the fateful mission in Wutai), you’d NAIL the tragedy of Angeal betraying Zack.

I was worried it’d be impossible to give Angeal’s betrayal the weight it deserves since not even the game pulled it off right, but it turns out you had the right ideas all along—just written in the wrong order.

“Are you an angel?”—Zack Skywalker meeting Aerith Amidala in Final Fantasy VII: The Phantom Menace.

I kid, but the setup was strangely appropriate. He had a near-death experience, woke in a church, saw a bright light, molting Angeal feathers fell in after him, and is greeted by a pretty lady. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that stupid line delivered in a more appropriate context.

Plus, Aerith’s retort was pretty witty and makes her instantly likeable. It’s a lot better than in the game when she was like, “A hunky man fell through the ceiling! Will he bring us good luck?”

For as cute as Aerith was in the game, I always felt like she was the wrong kind of cute. She was in her late teens, right? So, why did she always act like a five-year-old? Zack can’t fall in love with a toddler. I’m glad you’ve mentally-aged her up here, and it makes sense since she’s already a mother in this version; she was even smart enough to try a rudimentary vision test to see if Zack suffered any brain damage from the fall.

Speaking of which, HOW DID HE SURVIVE THE FALL? AND DON’T GIMME NONE A’ THAT “HEALING FLOWERS” NONSENSE...which is admittedly a lot more than what the game gave us (i.e. nothing), but that’s not a very high bar to clear. Plus, now you have to explain why the FF7verse has magical death-healing flowers and why Aerith didn’t have any with her when Sephiroth stabbed her.

“Yesss, brownie points for Zack!”—That is the appropriate thought to have after being nearly murdered by your former father figure while an evil clone and death-robot army destroys your headquarters.

Still, I gotta admit...Aerith’s a lot hotter in this version. She acts like an adult, thinks like an adult, IS an adult, and isn’t wearing much. I’m usually not one to make pervy comments, but I’m just admiring that she’s actually acting her age in your version, so we can’t feel guilty for finding her attractive.

Plus, she’s a LOT more proactive here. Whereas the game just had her talk to some patch of weeds in a derelict church all day like an adorable crazy person and needed some dope who fell from the sky to teach her what a wheelbarrow is, here, she’s already getting a ton of work done and putting her gardening skills to amazingly practical use. Sure, she’s too much of a saint to even think about charging people money for nature stuff, but even though starting a business was Zack’s idea, she was already making a huge impact on the community—WAIT, didn’t Angeal’s mom say that Aerith already sells flowers in Winhill?

“He took the apple from her hand then, his fingertips brushing hers, and bit into it.”—HE BIT HER FINGERS?! Oh, wait, the apple. ...Yes, definitely the apple… [goes to the dummy corner for dummies]

Okay, Zack and Aerith’s chemistry is cute and all—seriously, I love them, and I’m glad you made conversation such an integral part of their relationship—but did Zack just forget about Angeal turning into a Twihard and burning down his place of employment? All of Zack’s coworkers are dying, like, RIGHT NOW.

I recall at least two clone invasions on Shinra headquarters in the game, though it was really blurry where one ended and the other began. This was because, both times, Zack just goofed off and the writers seemed to forget there even were any invasions. It’s cool that you’re improving the characters’ chemistries and taking creative liberties here and there—it’s certainly improving the minute-to-minute story a great deal—but the greater plot structure is still a giant problem.

...So, IS Aerith Angeal’s ex-wife in here? The description from Angeal’s mother sure sounded like her, but you’d think Zack would recognize Aerith from the picture...unless she changed her hair or something.
34 Page 1 .. Last Next »

Twitter . Help . Sign Up . Cookies . Privacy . Terms of Service