Run by popular RPG podcast ‘The RPG Years’ (which you can listen to on Spotify right now by clicking HERE), the Final Fantasy VII: Materia Lockdown is a yearly charity event raising awareness and funding for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Not unlike the Four Job Fiesta, the event encourages players to play through Final Fantasy VII from start to finish, limiting the Materia each character can equip by having ‘classes’ randomly assigned through social media.
To participate, players tweet @FF7MLD and the name of the character that has just joined the party (for example the game would start with #cloud) followed by the sub-type of challenge level they are looking for. #Lockdown throws everything wide open and is the default for the challenge, but you can also elect to allow only a single Materia type per character with #single, callow characters two kinds with #combo, do a pure blue Materia run (a pre-existing tradition for challenging the game) with #bluemime, or go #hardcore by electing only the Mime, Enemy Skill or HP/MP reversal Materia but risk the chance of being allowed none! As an added bonus, electing #FF1 will give the players access to Materia corresponding to the original job classes of the first game in the long running series.
Shortly after posting you will be enrolled and the first character’s Materia locked down for the remainder of the game, with subsequent characters having similar selections as and when you encounter them. It’s a genuinely enjoyable way to experience a game that many have already played to the point that they know it inside out, and though some later challenges (such as the optional super-bosses) may be impossible, the game can be beaten without too much additional strain.
The Materia Lockdown 2020
Enjoying a challenge and knowing that it was for a good cause, MBU enrolled in the Materia Lockdown for 2020. Below outlines the assignment each character received on this playthrough of the game, for which we opted to do a traditional #lockdown run using a PSP version of the game from the PlayStation Network PSOne Classics range.
Cloud Strife is the very first character that the game gives you control over and he was assigned the class of Mog, which meant that he was only allowed to assign the purple Materia HP<>MP. Clearly this was not going to be an easy first playthrough. Unequipping the starting material for Fire, Ice and Lit was somewhat painful, but at the outset of the game Cloud’s nature as a powerful physical attacking character was going to be the feature we’d be leaning heavily into.
Barret Wallace is quickly added to the party as part of the opening bombing mission, which produced a handy ‘white mage’ able to use both Green and Purple Materia. Initially this isn’t too useful as in the classic version of the game Barret doesn’t know how to use Materia until later (the remake is still at its demo stage but appears to have removed this detail of the character and provided him with magic from the start).
Tifa Lockheart was quickly awarded the class of ‘Chemist’ limiting her to blue Materia. This limits her to support type Materia that only works when coupled with that of another colour. Factoring this and Cloud’s lock on HP<>MP looks set to make the start of the game something of a grind heavy push for physical power over spell variety. Luckily the ‘All’ Materia is quick to level up and sells at a premium price point, allowing for easy item purchasing in the later game.
Aeirth Gainsborough took on the role of an Illusionist, locking her into Red Materia which will be very helpful later but not so much before we visit the Chocobo farm. This means that we will be relying on her handy limit break for party healing alongside Barret, as well as focusing on grinding somewhat with the Midgar party to ensure that they are capable of pushing through to their eventual escape from the city later. Sadly the most useful summons are only accessible after the first disc . . .
I’m not going to lie, Shinra tower was a struggle. However here we meet Red XIII, who I had great hopes would take on a class that would help power through the next act of the game. Sadly he was assigned ‘Mog’ just like cloud, leaving me now with two characters stuck with only access to HP<>MP and a series of bosses ahead, one of which cloud would face solo.
Yuffie Kisaragi, an optional character, can be collected early after leaving Midgar if you keep an eye on her at all times. She was been granted access to the class of ‘Mime’ which limited her to just the Mime Materia that can replicate any other spell cast by a party member without the need to equip it. This worked fine when healing using Barret or summoning in the later stages of disc 1 with Aerith, but threatened to grow pretty useless in the late game if our luck didn’t turn on these class assignations.
Cait Sith was never my favourite character, but when he was assigned the class of ‘Time Mage’ and handed access to Exit, Gravity, Destruct, Mystify, Seal, Time and Transform Materia it became evident that things were not going to get better soon. The moogle-riding puppet quickly found his usefulness limited and was tucked to the reserves list, rarely making it into the main party.
Vincent Valentine (another optional character) managed to grasp the class of ‘Monk’ and got Blue and Purple Materia handed to him as a result. This did have the advantage of providing EXP Plus Materia, allowing the grind heavy play style I’d had to take on to pay bonus dividends, especially when coupled with Counter and Cover to take advantage of him pulling ahead in levels.
Lastly, Cid Highwind was given the title of ‘Red Mage’ and could equip Red and Blue Materia. This gave me an outlet for some of the late game summons and something for Yuffie to mime against, doubling my efficiency for casting and turning some battles that would have otherwise have been a serious struggle into a simple affair. The addition of blue Materia for HP and MP absorption was also surprisingly helpful.
The experience was gruelling, saw us having to max out every character to level 99 and even then struggle near the end of the final disc, but was successfully completed.
To get involved in the FF7 Materia Lockdown (or just to learn more) check out their website HERE. We strongly encourage anybody with an interest take part as it is for an excellent cause.